Drug trafficker informally / WED 1-27-21 / Servius Tullius e.g. in ancient Rome / Texas politico O'Rourke / Longtime actress co-starring in Netflix's Grace and Frankie

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Constructor: Mike Knobler

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: What lies beneath... — familiar phrases that start with "beneath," "under," and "below" (respectively) are situated in the grid literally "beneath" (or "below" or "under") a word defined by the latter part of the familiar phrases. Thus:

Theme answers:
  • BENEATH CONTEMPT is situated "beneath" a word meaning "contempt" (i.e. SCORN)
    • 17A: Despicable ... or where this answer goes? + 15A: "Silence is the most perfect expression of ___" (line in a Shaw play)
  • UNDER THE WEATHER is situated "under" a form of "weather"(i.e. MONSOON)
    • 39A: Sick ... or where this answer goes? + 36A: What to expect between June and September in India
  • BELOW THE SURFACE is situated "below" a type of "surface" (i.e. FACET)
    • 62A: Latent ... or where this answer goes? + 57A: Side to be considered
Word of the Day: AGAR (14A: Vegetarian substitute for gelatin)
1a gelatinous colloidal extract of a red alga (as of the genera Gelidium, Gracilaria, and Eucheuma) used especially in culture media or as a gelling and stabilizing agent in foods
2a culture medium containing agar (merriam-webster.com)
• • •

I think this theme is fantastic, and the me who started this puzzle is very surprised to hear himself say that, because things did not start out so promising. The fill early on (and throughout, honestly) just EKEs BY. Lots of short, overfamiliar stuff including not one but two of the dreaded playground retorts. Loved JANE FONDA, but everything around her suggested to me that we weren't going anywhere good:

This corner suggests that a very crusty, olden puzzle is about to roll right over you. So bad of an omen did it seem that I stopped (as you can see) and took a screenshot. But immediately (and I mean immediately) after I redug into the puzzle after this screenshot, the theme leapt across the grid. I got both grid-spanning themers, bam bam:

So I thought, well, if nothing else, this puzzle just got a whole lot easier, real quick. I could tell pretty quickly where the theme was going, but I didn't stop to work it out; I just went back to filling the grid as fast as I could, knowing the theme would reveal itself in time. And while filling the grid wasn't exactly joyful (the fill remains in a kind of dry 1980s state throughout, with almost no sparkle or personality and an abundance dull short answers), the theme, when it came into full view at the very end, really does come out looking great. All the phrases are perfect 15 grid-spanners, all of them "under" phrases, all of them have their crowning word centered directly on top of them. The mirror symmetry of the grid allows for a visually pleasing execution of the theme. So while the fill is meh, the theme itself feels very thoughtfully worked out and very polished. There's really nowhere to go with the fill, considering the way the grid is built (i.e. with almost all the answers being 3, 4, or 5 letters in length. JANE FONDA and TUMMYACHE really pop against the drabness of the rest of it. But today, merely not being terrible is enough for the fill. The theme is a gem, and that is plenty.

Five things:
  • 26D: Enlist again (RE-UP) — this was the very last answer I filled in on the very first Sunday puzzle I ever successfully completed (spring of '91). I was solving with friends and said "Roop ... roip ... that can't be ... oh, wait, is it RE-UP? Oh my god, it's RE-UP, it's right, we're done!" Much celebration, in the form of milkshake-drinking, ensued, probably. And yet when I see RE-UP today, it just seems like crummy crosswordese.  
  • 5A: Frequent sights in Road Runner cartoons (CACTI) — I know you put MESAS in here at first so don't even try to pretend you didn't.
  • 38A: What's what, in Italy (CHE) — got this entirely from crosses and when I checked the clue, I was startled not to see the famous revolutionary staring at me. I do not mind this cluing of CHE at all (if you *have* to use CHE).
  • 67A: Burnish (RUB) — weirdly, one of the harder moments of the puzzle for me, since I only ever hear "burnish" used metaphorically (as something one does to one's reputation). EKE BY is rough, as is so much of the dregs of this grid (or maybe the "lees" of this grid, since it's all just settled on the bottom, this gunky mess of EKE BY and WSW crossing WDS crossing AHAS plural next to UEY. You can see REX down there, huddled in the SW corner trying to keep his distance from all that mess.
  • 41D: Drive ... or drive mad? (TEE OFF) — another hard moment; clue writer tries to get cute, and doesn't really hit the nail on the head with either halves of the clue, frankly. I had the TE- and the terminal -F and no idea what to do with it. But then James Brown came to the FUNKy rescue (61A: "I only got a seventh-grade education, but I have a doctorate in ___": James Brown), and that second "F" helped me parse it correctly. I'm on the record as not enjoying fill-in-the-blank quote clues, but James Brown gets a pass. You know who doesn't get a pass. George Bernard Shaw. At least I assume it's George Bernard and not, I don't know, Artie that we're talking about at 15A: "Silence is the most perfect expression of ___" (line in a Shaw play) (SCORN). *A* Shaw play? You're gonna fill-in-the-blank me on a quote from a play you won't even name, by an author you won't even fully name???? No. I'm fine with Shaw standing on its own, actually, but *a* play is awful. At least name the play. (Haha, here's why they fudged it: the quote is from the fifth part of Back to Methuselah, which is really a series of five plays—this quote being from the part entitled "As Far As Thought Can Reach: A.D. 31,920"; since the play is not famous and is really five plays ... you can see why they just threw up their hands and went with "*a* Shaw play" (still very unsatisfying))
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Lewis 6:32 AM  

This is a tight theme, as each theme answer starts with a single word meaning ‘to the south of’. I can’t think of any after BENEATH, UNDER, and BELOW. And here Mike came up with apt phrases – each 15 letters – to go with those words. Not to mention engineering a grid to put those phrases beneath a centered word that relates to the last word in the phrase. Props to you, Mike, for doing all this!

There were lovely pairings in the grid as well – SOBER and DRY, CACTI and STAB, UNDER THE WEATHER and FUNK, BETO and EL PASO, and a backward BATS to go along with [… drive mad]. I also liked TOY crossing TROY.

In the winter, it’s comforting to have a puzzle with a southern bent – thank you for this, Mike!

Frantic Sloth 6:37 AM  

Well, I just thought this was quite a nifty trick and some fun to solve.

Some of the fill was ridiculously straightforward and kinda easy for a Wednesdee (looking at you, "not drunk"/SOBER, HERS, and others) but it had its moments, too. JANEFONDA can shine up the grid any day of the week, IMHO.

Not a fan of EKEBY in lieu of the more common EKE out, but sort if admire its interloping nerve at trying something new. Besides, it fits better.

Just now saw ICE, RICE, NOOGIE and imagined some sort of bizarre hazing ritual, or maybe the wedding of Lisa Loopner and Todd DiLaMuca.

That is all.


smalltowndoc 6:38 AM  

Enjoyable with well-constructed, clever theme.
Last square to fall was the Y shared by REY and UEY. For some reason, couldn’t remember how to spell either. Still, well under my average Wednesday time. Fun puzzle.

MarthaCatherine 6:43 AM  

A personal best for me.

My first thought for 5A was not mesas but anvil, which of course didn't work. Fell to the bottom of the cliff with a cloud of dust and a big thud.

Liked it a lot. Kudos to Mr. Knobler for making me feel a teensy bit smart.

Loren Muse Smith 6:45 AM  

Thanks, Rex and @Lewis for pointing out the utter symmetry of the themers. I hadn’t really appreciated that.

I quite like themes like this, taking a preposition in an expression and making it mean its literal denotation. The real star today is how the themers are clued. A long time ago I batted UNDER THE WEATHER around, trying to tease a theme idea out of it, but it went nowhere, and I gave up when I saw the problem of how to word the clue. Nicely played, Mike.

“Cover” went right in for what you when you play defense. Oops. So James Brown’s doctorate was in “love” until I sorted it all out.

Up to now, I had never noticed that SHEARS feel “heavy” next to scissors. Makes sense. I don’t own cuticle SHEARS to trim my toenails. Yet.

Kinda confusing to have the clue for TEE OFF match in form with the themer clues.

Just fyi: COWER and kowtow are completely unrelated. I actually would have spelled it cowtow; that’s the only reason I even checked to see if they’re cousins. Live and learn and all that.

RICE – there are languages that have several words for RICE, just like Yupik and Inuit have lots of way to say snow. If speakers of those languages sneak in and spy on our language, wonder what they would be surprised by. What thing do we have lots of words for because we just have lots of it? I mean, we just have one word for Oreo, but there are a bajillion different kinds that we have to distinguish using modifiers. I propose we rename them. Hah.

Double-stuff: Moreos.
Golden: D’oreos.
Jumbo Double-stuff: Hardcoreos

Then once these are established, the original regular ones will have to use the retronym, Beforeos

On TWERE - I think I read that a couple of centuries ago, ‘tis was the main contraction for it is. If we had just stayed this course, the possessive its coulda been less problematic, and fewer of us would be subjected to public grammar shaming when we get it wrong.

That SHED/HERS area reminded me that I guess SHE SHEDs are a thing now? Our answer to the man cave? I don’t bead or scrapbook or make jewelry, so I’m not sure how I would furnish my own she shed. Crosswords, Mild Duds, Puffs Vicks Vap-o-Rub Kleenexes, stale-ish Haribo Gummy Bears (hey, @Sage).

And that southeast. . . didn’t NOOGIE FUNKFACE open for The Eagles back in the late ‘70s?

OffTheGrid 6:49 AM  

Well, I guess someone has to dis this puzzle. I actually liked it but have a nit concerning the theme. SCORN and CONTEMPT are synonyms, FACET and SURFACE are synonyms. But WEATHER and MONSOON are not synonyms. A MONSOON is a kind of weather.

Anonymous 7:00 AM  

Loved the theme!

Based on my times, it feels like the Tuesday and Wednesday puzzles this week got switched at birth.

kitshef 7:13 AM  

So very close to being a stellar puzzle. I imagine the constructor coming up with the theme, trying out grids and coming up with the unusual l-r symmetry, and carefully polishing the fill until it is all ship-shape.

But a few flaws made it into the final version. Nobody likes ARE NOT, and nobody likes I AM SO. Having them both???? And the bottom section with WSW, WDS and UEY. That’s pretty ugh.

So … a nice puzzle, a fun puzzle. But a little bit of something finer that was missed.

Hand up for mesas before CACTI.

I suspect "Mild Duds" is a typo, but I think that's a name that screams for a product to go with it.

Frantic Sloth 7:15 AM  

***Confession Alert***

Just read Rex and didn't realize until he mentioned it that I misread the clue for CACTI as "sign" instead of "sight". This explains my confusion during the solve. It doesn't explain why I ignored it and soldiered on.
This can only mean one, dreadful truth: I am a Stepford Solver. Also probably why I never seem to notice grid art either. Sad.

@LMS 🀣🀣🀣 Your Oreo riff and NOOGIE FUNKFACE? Classic!

TJS 7:42 AM  

This is a Wednesday puzzle? Apparently, if the theme is a neat trick, it doesnt matter if the fill requires zero thought. Name one area of this puzzle that requires a moments hesitation. I guess to speed solvers, that is a positive. To me, it is a total waste of time. Barely Monday level, IMO.

Anonymous 7:42 AM  

I too had MESAS for 5A, then started doing the downs and filled in COATI. My lousy German gave me ocht and then wondered about the AOC-O as some Pixar homage to our other fearless leader. At least coati are in the Southwest US, though I think they prefer wetter climes that what you see in Roadrunner. Fortunately a *duh* moment came before I came here. I blame the lockdown for brainfreezes like this.

Good puzzle, especially for a Tuesday!

Anon. i.e. Poggius

ChuckD 7:43 AM  

Liked the theme fine - but it ended there. So many black squares in the center needed to build the theme result in so much short glue - and the overall fill leans more towards a trivia fest. BENEATH CONTEMPT is great under SCORN. The others are fine too although MONSOON and weather are not synonymous.

The overall fill was flat. Having JANE FONDA and TUMMY ACHE as your long downs is apt. Don’t center the grid with UNHIP, NSEC and COWER. Did like SEA LANE and NOOGIE and CHE clued as Italian is much better than the Argentinian thug.

Not a terrible solve - but...

SouthsideJohnny 7:45 AM  

Kind of an interesting hodgepodge today - probably 90% of it seemed Tuesday-easy (even easier than yesterday), with a couple of spots that did me in. I misspelled ACHT (as oCHT), I don’t really know anything about Pixar (I assume they are like Disney, or maybe they only do cartoons), so not much to work on for the movie name (COCO), which left me with CO_TI in the north, at which point I conceded defeat.

I also dnf’d in the SW - not at all familiar with the archaic TWERE and even now the clue for REX escapes me - is there an historian in the house - how do we get from “Servius Tullius” to REX ?

So actually a pretty fun ride today - I would argue that I was done in by what qualifies as a Natick (a cartoon and cartoon-like movie), and a cousin of the Natick (perhaps a Framingham?) - the completely archaic TWERE crossing what appears to be some very, very trivial trivia in REX (unless there is something head-slapping simple about the Tullius dude that is escaping me).

Anonymous 7:46 AM  

Oops, another freeze: it's Wednesday. The only reason I know is the Food Section of the NYT.

Poggius again.

pabloinnh 7:49 AM  

The long answers went right in for me and then it was just a matter of looking for synonyms above them, which were there, and boom, done. Very nifty feat of construction.

ESAU showed up looking for his pottage from yesterday and CHE was clued, I hope, in a way that did not offend GILLI.

When I saw the constructor's name I thought I might be in Dire Straits but a closer reading allayed that fear. Thanks for the fun, MK. Nicely done you.

Joaquin 7:55 AM  

Easiest and *wow-iest* Wednesday ever. A great puzzle!

Anonymous 8:12 AM  

Fantastic, really enjoyed it! Loved getting the theme, it helped with the solve. TWERE is a little obscure, but crosses made it doable. Loved the clue for NOOGIE. Thanks!

mooseltoes118 8:16 AM  

Thoroughly enjoyed the solve but this puzzle should have been switched with Tuesday's bear.

Whoosey Whatsis 8:34 AM  

Another huzzah for the theme and its symmetry. Unlike Rex, I got the theme before the answers, which may have made it even more more fun for me. My only complaint? I'm teed off about "I am so." It just feels wrong. "Are not/am so" was the classic formulation when I was in public school. I guess "You are not/I am so" might be spoken in the finer preparatory schools. But I have a hard time imagining a world where "Are not/I am so" could exist.

And this recovering Grammar-Nazi wants to extend special thanks to @Loren Muse Smith for finally solving the its/it's problem.

Nancy 8:36 AM  

A cute, well-executed theme -- in a puzzle that could have been so much better if some of the slam-dunk clues could have been toughened up. I'm especially looking at you, SOBER (49D); HERS (34D); TOY (21A); and REUP (26D).

I liked that FACET was clued with a meaning utterly different from its theme meaning of SURFACE. Actually, I've never really thought of a FACET as being a surface at all: it's the gorgeous FACETS of a diamond that give it so much of its value -- right? And things of great value never seem especially "surface-y" to me.

I also applaud this puzzle for having almost no proper names -- other than the very well known JANE FONDA and the certainly-should-be-well-known David HUME. A nice puzzle -- but too easy for a Wednesday.

Hungry Mother 8:44 AM  

Wow, super fast today. Very nice theme, which didn’t help me at all. I went with my family to BAJA California as a kid and then visited Cabo many years later on a cruise. I experienced the MONSOON while living in a hut in Thailand as a soldier. Not so happy to see Hanoi Jane in the puzzle; she is best forgotten.

bocamp 8:46 AM  

Thank you, @Mike, really enjoyed your puzzle. Loved the theme! :)

Av. Wednes.

Pretty much on my wavelength, altho the G.L. area took a couple of minutes to sort out.

Hadn't heard of "Coco", but have it cued up on Disney+. Looks like a winner.

"Make A Joyful Noise Unto The Lord" ~ PIU's Voices of Micronesia sing at the Joyful Noise Music Festival on Guam


One error on the Freestyle 582: the terminal letter of the Stoli competitor.

yd pg -2

Peace Tolerance Kindness Togetherness πŸ•Š

Barbara S. 8:54 AM  

Loved the puzzle despite the bits of unfortunate fill. Here's some pedigree for the maligned TWERE (with a gratis "tis" thrown in):

MACBETH: If it were done when 'tis done, then 'TWERE well
It were done quickly...

(Act I, Sc. 7, Macb. pondering the murder of Duncan)

Karl Grouch 8:55 AM  

Today is Tuesday, yesterday was Wednesday.

Days are not what they used to be.


I have mixed feelings about this puzzle.
It's a great theme beautifully constructed and I enjoyed it immensely despite the fill issues Rex pointed out.

But my main problem is that it's conceptually too close to a puzzle I've submitted, even if mine is way, ¿how should I put it? .. I think "(k)nobler" is the word [thunder of Zeus for the hubris].

If it ever makes the cut, I'll let you know.

Charles Flaster 8:58 AM  

Liked this theme and after first themer thought it would be an ordinary vertical list in alpha order. Then I realized the theme of the theme.
Cluing was easy with TEE OFF being my favorite answer.
No writeovers and should have been reversed with yesterday’s Tuesday puzzle.
Thanks MK.

Anonymous 9:00 AM  


I, too, went with MESA instead of CACTI, but it probably messed me up more than it did others. And that's because I solved the bottom two theme answer first (UNDER THE WEATHER and BELOW THE SURFACE) and mistakenly thought that the first theme answer would follow the same pattern of "___ THE ___." So when I solved enough of the first theme answer to get BENEATH___TEMP" I parsed it as "BENEATH THE __TEMPT" without noticing I was subconsciously adding an extra "H" that wasn't actually there.

Yeah, I know.

Oh, and my limited knowledge of German made ECHT seem perfectly plausible at 6D, while the random fill-in-the-blank clue referring to an unknown Shaw play at 15A didn't help things any.

Anyway, with all that plus MESAS, I was left wracking my brain trying to think of a recent Pixar film that could fit with S_EO and wondering what the heck BENEATH THE ATTEMPT could possibly mean.

Fortunately, I finally thought of COCO, which got me to CACTI and everything fell into place very quickly after that. I swear, though, I don't remember ever seeing a cactus in a Road Runner cartoon, but the multiple mesas (typically the same exact mesa shown over and over again in a chase scene) are definitely memorable to me.

RooMonster 9:03 AM  

Hey All !
Fun puz. Like how Mike solved the uneven themer-supporter words with left/right symmetry. Neat. And got a two-tier theme, in two ways. Instead of just three long themer answers, we get a double-theme of smaller words being part of the long entries. And they tie together. So a Double-double, one could say. Which reminds some people of basketball, but it reminds me of In-N-Out. Mmm, burgers...

Agree about the bottom part of mishmash of Abbrs. and short ick. Too bad Mike couldn't get rid of the exact center bottom black square, seems it would've been more elegant. I'm sure he tried, and couldn't come up with anything resembling a legal entry. We do get a REY and a REX, which is neat.

Put in the group (only one other I saw so far) of thinking anvil first for CACTI, but didn't put it in, as clue called for a plural. SPRY, har, had S_RY, and did a vowel run, scratching my head as to what it could be. If CHE has always been "What" in Italian, how come it's (Hi @LMS!) never used??

Natick alert! Down to my last letter, having HUM_/B_TO, and not knowing either one. Yikes! Was going to go with @M&A's "when in doubt, go with a U", but HUME sounded better, so threw in the E, and... Happy Music! YAY ME! Did a fist pump. Har.

So, a fun, clever puz, with not too shabby fill. A good WedsPuz. I AM said SO. :-)

Four F's

albatross shell 9:12 AM  

TWERE somehow made me appreciate taint even though it's nobody's business.

@LMS apparently went to OREO University, not Rice.

The puzzle suggests the SOBER REX should RELAX.

I found this one easier and much less fun to solve than yesterday's. On the other hand, it had a very well executed theme with a nice aha to it. The symmetry appeals. The structure is accented by some of the stuff @Lewis mentions. Admirable, but not much FUNK or razzmatazz. Short fugue v. jazzy tune? You choose.

Z 9:13 AM  

Rex nailed it, mesas before CACTI. I now wish I’d have thought of anvil, a much better wrong answer. Anyone else irked that someone felt the need to PPP-up CACTI with a Road Runner clue?

“Longtime” also gets the side-eye from me. You mean “old” so just say “old.” The patina of politesse is insulting.

Anyone else have a preference for DRY RUB over RUB DRY. I chafe to consider the implications.

I don’t care about the source, that’s a great quote. I need to remember it whenever a troll gets past a moderator.

Otherwise what Rex said. I got the theme early and it got the “that’s good chuckle.” But the fill, oof. There are some constructors who have argued that the fill isn’t important, only the theme. I disagree, but a well-executed theme can hide lots of wrinkles.

Damn you @Frantic Sloth, now I have ICE RICE NOOGIE on repeat in my head.

@OffTheGrid - Good catch. In defense, I think all three can work as subsets, SCORN is one type of CONTEMPT, FACET is one type of SURFACE, and MONSOON is one type of WEATHER.

Unknown 9:28 AM  

Could have done without Hanoi JANEFONDA as an answer.

Unknown 9:31 AM  

How can so many comment "Had mesas first....." when not a single down agrees with that choice?

Sir Hillary 9:33 AM  

Wonderful theme, and a fun solve. What more could I ask for on a Wednesday?

Could a fourth themer be PARKS on top of SUBROSA?

Cross-reference opportunity: BETO and ELPASO.

G. Weissman 9:45 AM  

This puzzle was fine enough. Is it too nit-picky to point out that while SCORN is synonymous with contempt, MONSOON is not synonymous with the weather and FACET is not really a kind of surface? A monsoon is a weather phenomenon, not a description of “the weather.” Rainy or overcast describes the weather, not monsoon. What’s it like out? Monsoon. Same iffiness with facet. A facet is one side of a many-sided object. The word does not suggest a surface covering depths. No one says anything akin to “look beneath the facet.” So while these answers may be good enough for a crossword puzzle, this doesn’t say much for what we’ve come to expect or allow. That said, can we stop pretending the UEY is acceptable?

Flinque 9:56 AM  

Yep. Good call on the MESAS.

TTrimble 9:56 AM  

Appreciate the appreciative commentary by REX who helped me appreciate the puzzle more. Very nice.

REX by the way means "king" in Latin. As in "Rex Parker, King of Crosswords" or whatever it is. This might be a clue to @SouthsideJohnny. It's (not "its"!) directly related to the word "reign", and also to royal although that's less apparent to the naked eye.

I am a little "puzzled" by some of the comments. First, let me say I agree that it wasn't very hard for a Wednesday. But I would "mildly" (@kitshef will be next) take up the challenge of @TJS: center north was the thing I finished last, and yes I did hesitate a bit there, as I was unaware of COCO, and was expecting an English and not Latin plural form for the answer to 5 Across (CACTI), which by the way is not the first thing I see when I conjure up the Road Runner and Coyote. And I hesitated a bit over the spelling of the German for "eight" (ACHT) -- one would need a modicum of German to solve that clue without the aid of crosses. And also one might hesitate for a few nanoseconds over CST (I usually pause a moment over daylight vs. standard, and some Midwest states are after all on Eastern time, so one needs to make sure).

@kitshef, sorry, I very quickly scanned both the completed grid and the clues for anything to do with "mild duds" or "milk duds" for that matter. I must be blind.

@Nancy, I don't find the meaning of FACET as "side to be considered" utterly different from "surface". There are six sides or six facets or faces of a cube, appearing on its external surface. That literal meaning feels to me pretty closely related to a more metaphorical meaning of aspect or point of view or consideration -- what appears before us when we train our attention from a particular angle. Any, just my tuppence, FWIW.

GILL I. 10:12 AM  

I did a few good gravy head slaps, but otherwise, TWERE easy and fun.
REX..."but I didn't stop to work it out". Ay dios mio....that's what I love about puzzles. Just get up, maybe pour yourself a little martini and look at what the constructor did here. @Lewis says it better than I could, but when you see what Mike did here, I thought it was joyful. You can leave JANE FONDA out anytime but dang, look at the way you clue CHE...(Hi @pablito). In Argentina, a favorite way to call someone a knucklehead is to say "CHE, pero que boludo."
Folks....if you haven't seen COCO, do yourselves a favor and WATCH IT. It's a delightful, colorful movie. The smile on Mama Coco and abuelita and the dog Dante are all worth it.
What else did I like? The NOOGIE FUNK, the DRY RUB and seeing BAJA CACTI. I love BAJA. When this pandemic is over, treat yourselves to the Grand Solmar or Esperanza. A girl can dream, right?

Speaking of WEATHER and its watch. Yikes, we're having a hurricane here in Sacramento. 60+mile an hour winds.....downed trees, snow up the kwazoo and bad drivers running into trees. I have to take the pups out in a few minutes so if I'm not back in an hour, call my bartender. He'll know what to do.

Blue Stater 10:17 AM  

EKEBY? "Rough"? No. Wrong. Again. Solution, for the umpteenth time: put the puzzles through the NYT copydesk. No copyeditor (or puzzle editor either) worth his/her salt would let that gross idiomatic error pass unremarked.

Whatsername 10:18 AM  

A beautifully constructed crossword and just the right difficulty level for a Wednesday. It was a lot of fun too. Sometimes puzzles which are a challenge for the constructor ARE NOT much of a joy to the solver, but I AM SO pleased to say that was not the case with this one.

I couldn’t finish the northwest corner without the thought passing through my mind that recent actions by some Texas politicos were BENEATH CONTEMPT.

Most dogs do SHED in the spring but mine don’t. It’s nice not to deal with dog hair but another FACET of that scenario is that they have to be groomed. At considerable expense. But they’re definitely worth it.

Your useless trivia for the day: I was the fastest writer in my high school Shorthand class, and I still have my 140 WDS per minute pin to prove it.

KRMunson 10:22 AM  

Was I the only one who wanted ACME instead of MESA? Seems like a gimme given how often it was the brand on Roadrunner.

Unknown 10:23 AM  

going back a few days....... off the last "p" in perp, I entered "one up" for the clue, square.

Barbarella 10:27 AM  

I feel like JANE FONDA needs some support here. I like her and she could be in the puzzle anytime. That "Hanoi Jane" epithet is BENEATH CONTEMPT.

Rug Crazy 10:32 AM  

Didn't like it until I git TWARE, then I hated it

bocamp 10:32 AM  

More thoughts re: "facet": when teaching the Rubik's Cube, one of the first lessons is the differentiation of the three kinds of cubies (cubelets) comprising the Cube, e.g. corner, edge and center. For me, the visible sides (surfaces or faces) of the cubelets are best described as "facets", e.g., corner cubies = 3 facets; edge cubies = 2 facets; center cubies = 1 facet. Lying below the center cubie facets is the missing 27th cubie, which is really just the inner mechanism providing the framework which holds the whole thing together.

@Unknown 9:31 AM

Many solvers work across before down, especially when starting a puzzle, hence dropping "mesas" in almost at the get-go. Some, do a quick glance at one or more of the down clues for verification, but in the case of "mesas", it seemed like a no-brainer, esp. on a Wednesday. I was one of those whose brain was off kilter, and that came back to haunt me later on. It was the difference between an easy solve as opposed to an av. one.

Peace Tolerance Kindness Togetherness πŸ•Š

Anonymous 10:34 AM  

what six year old do you know who'd say, I AM SO???? everyone I've known (none recently, yet; one's closing in) says are SO. I AM from a kid?? they barely have vocabulary, they don't have grammer. or spelling.

Anonymous 10:34 AM  


You are not alone.

jae 10:35 AM  

Easy. Solid Tues. with some fine long downs, liked it.

@GILL - I’m giving you credit for the CHE clue.

I spent a couple of weeks in EL PASO last century on an Army project at Ft. Bliss. Good food and very nice people. My only issue was that the cable TV in the BOQ did not have CNN which was frustrating because GHWB had just launched the first Gulf War.

Anonymous 10:40 AM  

as to mesas and CACTI, if one is just running acrosses without looking down, then sure MESAS makes sense *first*, but, unless you think the 'Midwest' extends farther west than accepted usage, Mountain ST can't be, so CST. which leads, of course, to Clifs. Clavin, I guess.

blanche 10:41 AM  

Noogie is new to me and the scenery of Road Runner toons was elusive, so those two areas held me up a but but other than that, I had a blast. Oh wait, UEY or is it UIE? and don't know from Jedi femmes...But then, hey, I'm a senior crossworder...husband gave up the puzzle when it got too contemporary and I took over the crossword in the paper. Which we have delivered, thank you very much.
But yes, much easier than yesterday.

Masked and Anonymous 11:00 AM  

And, one could add …

* TOY is centered BENEATHCONTEMPT. I have seen a few toys that might qualify.
* ICE is centered UNDERTHEWEATHER. Slick!
* SEALANE is centered BELOWTHESURFACE. Meaningful to sub crews, mainly.

staff weeject pick: WDS. Plural abbreve meat. Was necessary, to preserve WSW, tho. Also, as always, honrable mention to duck brother of EWEY & OUIE, at 70-A.

As per usual, a treat to see the rare E/W puzgrid symmetry. With a NSEC centerpiece.
And M&A flat out luvs @Muse darlin's NOOGIE FUNK FACE find. And, one could add … NOOGIE FUNK FACE RUB … owwch.

Thanx for the fun, Mr. Knobler. Plus, M&A always appreciates re-learnin how to spell GUARD.

Masked & Anonym007Us


Jorge 19 11:05 AM  

Great theme, visually very cool. Fill was mediocre to thoroughly awful. Overall, not worth it: all style, no substance BELOW THE SURFACE.

Steve M 11:05 AM  

Eke by nope

Chadwick B. 11:08 AM  

The idea that JANEFONDA should be banned because of her vile political views is in itself vile.

Newboy 11:11 AM  

AHAS abounded for today’s solve. REX’s “ The theme is a gem, and that is plenty.” was my favorite AHA as that hat tip to OFL by the constructor had me spew coffee! I AM SO impressed by the grid spanning answers BENEATH/UNDER/BELOW the clued synonym that my only nose holding pUEY came in the Florida segment where that bully NOOGIEd me good and RUBbed my nose in humility before I EKED BY that INCUR that now seems obvious. Fun day in this household without GOT or sports arcana to unsettle the dandruff. Back now to see how others respond.

Anonymous 11:16 AM  

Easy to infer "scorn" without knowing what play or even Shaw for that matter.

Carola 11:17 AM  

Entertaining and elegantly put together. Not me for "mesas": I overlooked the plural in the clue and was ready to write in "anvil" until I checked the 5D cross.

Ed Townes 11:24 AM  

Nice to see a basically (if way too grudgingly) positive review - when you have that about 1 time in 7 (give or take), there's either something wrong with the NYTxw (that would make most people give up on them ... or at least cease ranting daily) ... or something wrong with the "critic."

Obviously, I "tolerate" Rex in almost precisely the way he tolerates the xwords. (Enough - sadly, infrequent - insight, humor, etc.... but increasingly, something that goes beyond snark. Venom?)

But I write to counter-attack his closing way-too-many words devoted to "SCORN" (by chance.)

There is a delete button available, and when you get to, "Well, I guess the way they handled it is the only way they could have," that would be a great time to delete what came before.

And/but Rex is right to focus on the "style" question. Yes, several times a week, at a minimum, a composer (or the editor) doesn't go for a hackneyed clue/synonym - here, they could have gone with "subject of contempt" [I'm sure others know of databases where those recurring clues are archived].

The Brits groove on anagrams and the like. I think someone (Will, as a guess) decreed that quotes/fill-ins were "uplifting." It probably hearkens back to a time of much greater literacy - I'll never forget Rex's "I didn't know that Thornton Wilder wrote more than 1 play" - but the point is this:

The fill-in seldom - definitely, NOT HERE - relies on your having read and remembered something that is close to 1-in-a-million.

Plus - and here I come back to a crankiness that is far from endearing - had they given a 6-line clue, Rex would - no doubt - bitch and moan that he's "here to do a puzzle, not read footnotes on a term paper."

William of Ockham 11:25 AM  


Tuesday's puzzle

Not impressed!

WSW x WDS what clever stuff!

burtonkd 11:42 AM  


Started with a SEALANd shipping route

Kept reading 70 across as 64 down and wondered if there was another biblical twin ESAR? Didn't even see the clue for Rex-trigger UEY.

I liked Mike's honest reflection on REUP. That happened in conservatory, where the first time you hear or play, say, a Chopin Ballade, it has the most magical effect in the world, but after hearing the piece every day in the practice rooms, juries, master classes and recitals, it goes from not only losing its (hi, Loren) luster, but becomes an outright irritant. It took quite a while after graduation to enjoy a lot of music again. I remember an article in the New Yorker where it was proposed that for Chopin's anniversary year, no Chopin should be played at all, so we could enjoy it again when we hear it.

egsforbreakfast 11:45 AM  

@ Whoosey Whatsis 8:34. Wouldn’t the retort in a fine prep school be “I assuredly am”?

@LMS it seems likely that some cultures might have one word for foot coverings. We have mules, pumps, flip-flops, loafers,sandals, heels, brogues, boots, etc. I’m sure anyone could come up with hundreds with a small effort. It actually kind of amazes me that I have always thought the Inuit/snow example so profound and never thought about our similar linguistic adaptations until you raised the question.

I did like the puzzle. Like @Karl Grouch 8:55, I also once submitted a very similar theme, laid out in a much more constraining way. The resulting rejection was not a total shock, and I’m thrilled to see that Mr. Knobler has figured out a simple and effective way to grid this.

Adam 11:46 AM  

EKE BY is wrong. It is not proper English. The correct phrase is "EKE OUT". But I enjoyed the theme and the rest of the puzzle was perfectly fine. But EKE BY: no. No, no, no.

Ann Howell 11:46 AM  

Loved it! It bounced along and had a very perky theme. Had an inner giggle when I was presented with FU_K at 61A and my first thought was not FUNK! :)

mathgent 11:58 AM  

Liked BENEATHCONTEMPT but no other sparkle for me.

Loren wonders what our society has many words for. She coined some charming names for the different versions of Oreos. We have dozens of different words for drunk. Smashed, gassed, stoned, lit, blotto, tipsy, sodden, crocked, ...

Anonymous 12:07 PM  

The languages of the Inuit are Inuktitut and Inuvialuktun.

sixtyni yogini 12:08 PM  

Ditto Rex,

πŸ‘ŽπŸ½ then πŸ‘πŸ½


clever and fun

Actual Evidence 12:11 PM  

I'm sure all the commenters who say "eke by" doesn't exist have already done this research, but for the rest of you: the phrase "eke by" gets 35,400 Google hits. Among the first few pages, many of the uses are from sports headlines ("Panthers eke by Texans late with defense"), one is from Amy Klobuchar ("We need to not just win and eke by victory at four in the morning on election night"), and others are from a variety of sources (e.g., "North Korean workers in China turn to home-based work to eke by").

EEK 12:21 PM  

The Klobuchar line quoted is awkward and doesn't quite make sense.

Anonymous 12:41 PM  

The “Na- and Cl+” irks me more than perhaps it ought.

Yeah, they’re ions, but Na- and Cl+ makes SALT.

Sharonak 12:42 PM  

@LMS 6;45 Had a chuckle at your moreos Doreos, hardcoreos, Better than having to put ioreo into every second puzzles since I can't imagine eating one

@MaryCatherine 6:43 Great image " Fell to the bottom of the cliff with a cloud of dust and a big thud." That a was more inline with what I first wanted for the answer. Can't actually remember cacti in Roadrunner.

Thught the puzzle FUN due to the theme and not as easy as some thought. With no knowledge of German numbers I had a bit of sympathy for those who complain about French and Spanish in the puzzles.

Liked seeing "lunch " in the upper middle of the grid

Frantic Sloth 12:52 PM  

@albie 912am 🀣🀣🀣 "TWERE somehow made me appreciate taint even though it's nobody's business."

@Z Would it comfort you to know that that was the very first thing I thought of? No? Okay. Here's this. Hope it helps. If not, at least it's (marginally, I agree) better than this.

Considering how many got hung up on "mesas" for CACTI, I guess my blindness at least saved me that circus. Although, trying to remember a "sign" with 5L in those cartoons wasn't fun either. Crosses to the rescue!

Barbara S. 12:55 PM  

Proof of CACTI.

Whatsername 1:05 PM  

@Barbara S (8:54) “If it were done when 'tis done, then 'TWERE well It were done quickly...”
Seems like that ought to be “If ‘TWERE done when ‘tis done, then ‘TWERE well ‘TWERE done quickly...” Just sayin.

@egsforbreakfast (11:45) To add to your list: cross-trainers, topsiders, huaraches, wedges, clogs, Crocs, flats, espadrilles, moccasins, slingbacks, stilettos and peep-toed, patent-leather come-hither platforms. I just recently commented that because of the pandemic I have gone a full year without buying a new pair of shoes - or even setting foot inside a shoe store. I think that might be a first in my adult life.

Anonymous 1:07 PM  


well, yes, but... ions exist (in our world) in solution, thus dissolved salt splits into those parts.

jberg 1:17 PM  

Yeah, great theme, although I should have clued BELOW THE SURFACE differently -- to me, the phrase evokes a shark, or the kraken for that matter, lurking below your boat, not something I would call "latent." Like @TTrimble, I balked at putting the Midwest in Central Time, thinking of those poor folks in Ohio, plus most of Michigan and Indiana. Actually, it's been a long time -- but as I recall all of Michigan and Indiana were on Eastern time, but in the summer the UP and the area near Chicago didn't use daylight savings. It was pretty confusing, maybe they've found a better solution by now.

And like @Z, I bridled at "Longtime." "Veteran" would have been the more common euphemism, but I suppose that linking that word with JF would have aroused a storm. If they wanted to be polite, SHOE ought to have been clued as "Longtime woman's home..."

I work from crosses, so I had the c by the time I got to CACTI; and I had the I and the N by the time I got to sodium chloride, so I was saved from putting in 'salt.'

The worst thing in the puzzle was WDS, an abbreviation clued as part of another abbreviation. The second worst thing might have been the quotation marks around "Diamonds" Do they just mean a colloquial term? Then what about PERP? They're just a meaningless confusion.

Yeah,Shaw was a famous SCORNer, you really don't need to know what play that was. I guessed it from the S, though I did wait for a few crosses before committing.

Which brings me to AGAR. My first job in science (also my last job in science) was to anesthetize test tubes full of drosophila melanogaster (fruit flies), count the genetic variations under a microscope (some had slit eyes, some had round ones), then stick them into a new tube with a layer of AGAR before they woke up and flew away. The head of the lab was studying genetic variations due to radioactive exposure; either the ether or the cotton used to cap the tubes made me sneezy all the time. Anyway, until solving this puzzle I had always assumed that AGAR was made of pork byproducts. Crosswords are so educational!

FParting thought -- I could see 64D was going to be REY, very close to its Latin translation at 68A -- but the former turned out to be clued differently, so I guess that's all right.

Frantic Sloth 1:26 PM  

@Whatsername 105pm That Shakespeare. What a hack. πŸ˜‰

Also, don't forget "kicks". 😁

@Barbara S 1255pm Thanks for the CACTI and the signs! 😘

tea73 1:38 PM  

Hand up for MESA. I couldn't believe how long it took me to come up with a four letter university R---. My nephew went to RICE. He got a fabulous education there, and really flourished. In fact he liked Texas enough he's back there for a post-post-doc position.

Loved the theme and was surprised how quickly I whizzed through it. About a third faster than usual. TWERE was kind of weak, but was one of those it was so bad it was good moments.

There's nothing wrong with he barely EKED BY. I will confess I didn't see it right away and put EKEDit which said no one never.

I never mind getting Shaw quotes even from obscure plays. I'm not sure I've seen/read anything besides Pygmalian and Major Barbara.
“He knows nothing; and he thinks he knows everything. That points clearly to a political career.” (Major Barbara)

There are Noreos in my house because I can't eat just one.

Ferguson 1:54 PM  

He was a king therefore Roman rex

jae 2:07 PM  

@Bocamp - the Stoli competitor was a gimme for me as I currently have a jug of it in my freezer.

TTrimble 2:10 PM  

I am gobsmacked by the self-assurance of some of these comments. EKE BY is not acceptable English? Says who and whose army? Quick, where is @Loren Muse Smith to put the kibosh on such nonsense?

And a six-year-old couldn't say "I AM SO"? You might be surprised by what even much younger children can produce. My understanding is that it's a truism for linguists that even small children assimilate the deep grammar of the language(s) that they learn. (They can't introspect and tell you about it, but that's not the issue.) It's the SURFACE level aspects of grammar, all the silly rules, the things we survived from Mrs. Grundy's tutelage, that young children haven't mastered yet. Anyway, a six-year-old can SO produce this, as well as much, much more complex constructions. And we're talking about ordinary children here.

And Hanoi Jane, really? What year is it again? Which decade? Isn't it true that people may be very different today from who they were 50 years ago? And who better exemplifies that than Jane Fonda? Not only that, but surely one can argue that what the epithet is all about was blown way out of proportion, and people mostly no longer recall what it was, actually -- but they remember the smear. She's tried to address the whole thing about a million times. Here's some reading.

CDilly52 2:15 PM  

Barely had time to solve today. In the middle of a huge tax case. Thanks @Rex, @Lewis@LMS for posting (in much better form) my thoughts on this dandy Wednesday puzzle! Clever, tight and fun. What more could I ask.

A 2:20 PM  

REX says the SCORN quote play is “not really famous” and perhaps he’s technically correct, but the play is the source of another quote which is VERY famous and was quoted often by JFK.

From The Utopian Potential of Aging and Longevity in Bernard Shaw’s Back to Methuselah, by SiΓ’n Adiseshiah:
“The first of Back to Methuselah’s five parts, In the Beginning, is set in the Garden of Eden….On encountering a dead fawn, the then-immortal Adam and Eve discover the existence of death and contemplate the lonely implications of each other’s demise if one were to suffer an accident. The serpent suggests they consider mortality and proposes that Adam choose 1000 as the age at which he should die, as a solution to the numbing boredom of immortality and the potential extinction of humanity if they were to suffer an accident. The serpent proposes birth as compensation for relinquishing immortality so that human life has the opportunity to continue from generation to generation.”

from Back to Methuselah:
"EVE [_admiring it_] Oh! But who taught you to speak?
THE SERPENT. You and Adam. I have crept through the grass, and hidden, and listened to you.
EVE. Your hood is most lovely. [_She strokes it and pets the serpent_]. Pretty thing! Do you love your godmother Eve?
THE SERPENT. I adore her. [_She licks Eve's neck with her double tongue_].
EVE [_petting her_] Eve's wonderful darling snake. Eve will never be lonely now that her snake can talk to her.
THE SERPENT. The serpent never dies. Some day you shall see me come out of this beautiful skin, a new snake with a new and lovelier skin. That is birth.
EVE. I have seen that. It is wonderful.
THE SERPENT. If I can do that, what can I not do? I tell you I am very subtle. When you and Adam talk, I hear you say 'Why?' Always 'Why?' You see things; and you say 'Why?' But I dream things that never were; and I say 'Why not?'"

Thanks to Mr. Knobler for leading me to that!

Did I enjoy the puzzle? [crickets]

Barbara S. 2:25 PM  

Hey, @Whatsername, salutations! (1:05 PM)
I admire your chutzpah in attempting to improve on The Bard, but maybe even Will realized you could have too much of a good(?) thing. Personally, I'm a TWERE supporter, but then I've always leaned toward the archaic.

@tea73 (1:38 PM)
You've given me the perfect opportunity to relive my glory days treading the boards: I was in an amateur production of "Major Barbara." How I wish I could tell you that my name was up in lights in the starring (and namesake) role of Barbara Undershaft. But alas, honesty compels me to admit that I inhabited the miniscule and completely forgettable part of Sarah Undershaft, Barbara's sister. But, you know what they say: "There are no small parts, only small actors." I can only hope I imbued air-headed Sarah with some modicum of character. Being in that production was enormous fun and I got to wear two divine Edwardian outfits borrowed from a professional theatre company. They both fit me like a glove and I couldn't gain even half an ounce during the 2-month rehearsal period and 2-week run of the play. It makes me suck in my stomach just to think of it. Shaw is, of course, terribly wordy and one of the funniest things that happened was one night the guy playing Andrew Undershaft (Barbara's and Sarah's father), who had a large number of extremely lengthy speeches, jumped from the middle of one to the middle of another that was about 5 pages further along in the script. Thankfully there were no character exits or entrances in those 5 pages and we all carried on as if nothing was amiss. I suspect only the Shaw-scholars in the audience (if there were any) noticed. But we laughed ourselves silly afterward.

okanaganer 2:27 PM  

According to the Google Ngram Viewer, in 2018 "eke out" appeared about 100x more often than "eke by".

Anonymous 2:30 PM  

in most contexts, EKE refers to income, principally lack thereof, so 'EKE out' a living is the phrase to describe the plight of poor people; not that any here know how that feels. most often found in Victorian novels; you know back when Social Darwinism was all the rage. EKE, as a connote of EDGE is, I suspect, way down the list of meanings in any dictionary.

bocamp 2:30 PM  

Having plunked "mesas" into 5A, I confidently put "mst" in 5D (there are parts of some midwest states in it). Didn't know "Coco", but knew 5D was either ocht or acht, so "mesas" couldn't be. Took a couple of minutes to get it all worked out. Otherwise, a Tues. puz that would have been a nice swap for yesterday's.

td pg -1

Peace Tolerance Kindness Togetherness πŸ•Š

sanfranman59 2:38 PM  

Medium NYT Wednesday ... 4% below my Wednesday 6-month median

I came around to the theme here by the end. The first one I got was BELOW THE SURFACE {62A: Latent ... or where this answer goes?}. I stupidly thought it was only referencing the FACE part of FACET {57A: Side to be considered} and that the SUR part of SURFACE was somehow going to be another aspect of the theme (Spanish directions maybe? ... Please no!). Duh! It all became clear when I got UNDER THE WEATHER {39A: Sick ... or where this answer goes?} (which is UNDER MONSOON {36A: What to expect between June and September in India}).

Unfortunately, the fill is pretty awful. For one thing, as with this past Sunday's puzzle, there are way, way too many 3- and 4-letter answers. A whopping 45 of 78 words (57.6%) in this grid are 3 or 4 letters vs an average of 34.9 of 73.4 (47.5%) in the previous ten Wednesday grids.

Stuff I could have done without:
-- ARE NOT {4D: Schoolyard denial} and I AM SO {22A: Retort to 4-Down} ... I was gonna let ARE NOT go, but then you've gotta go and double down?
-- TWERE {50D: Quaint contraction}
-- WDS {69A: Part of w.p.m.: Abbr.}, multiple AHAS {58D: Cries of discovery} and a random direction WSW {69A: Indianapolis-to-St. Louis dir.} all in the same little area of the grid. This section should have been reworked, IMHO.
-- UEY {70A: One-eighty}
-- EKE BY {55D: Barely make it} ... It seems to me that 'EKE out' is much more common. Google and Google Ngram agree with me. Ngram doesn't even have EKE BY.
-- NARCO {37D: Drug trafficker, informally} ... I think I've only ever seen this word in crosswords and, oddly, it's been clued as both "drug trafficker" and "someone who investigates drug traffickers".
-- ACHT {6D: FΓΌnf + drei} and CHE {38A: What's what, in Italy} ... my monolingual nit ... I'm fine with words that are commonly used in written or spoken English, but crosswords cross the line more often than I'd like.

Anonymous 2:45 PM  


It is all a matter of context. If some six year old is reared by educated parents and sibling who choose to speak The King's English and don't engage with the hoi polloi , then may be. But in the context of the clues, this is two lower class brats stewing with each other. In that context, I would not expect The King's English. Just a lot of 'me' and 'mine'.

As to languages, My Pappy spent much of WWII building aircraft radio beacons in North Africa, and it was a cushy gig, even for the Signal Corps which had first dibs on draftees (test scores mattered), but many of them ended up stringing wire in combat. His unit was billeted in some huge house, perhaps a palace. They even had a house boy (of about 10 or less) to take care of the middling stuff. According to My Pappy, he was fluent in about six languages, Western and Arabic. That story really annoyed me when I had to take languages starting in junior high school (these days, kind of middle school), and found it somewhat difficult.

I finally figured out why it was so easy for him and so difficult for me: he didn't learn six languages, but rather one language (more truthfully, a set of sounds), with different sounds depending on the language/nationality of the person to whom he was speaking. It is only much later when we fish belly white folks insist that the only language that matters is American ("why can't yall talk United States, for cryin out loud"), that adopting any other is well nigh impossible. MAGA!

pabloinnh 2:45 PM  

@oreo variant lovers-

If you know what a bit and brace is, great. If you don't, it's the way we made good-sized holes in wood before battery powered drills came along.

Anyway, I used to work summers on line crews with the power company, and these tools were always referred to as 'boreos", he said, finally getting to the point.

So there's another one.

Anonymous 2:46 PM  

Hanoi Jane people don't read.

Anonymous 3:20 PM  


Ambiguity is always an issue:
- those who side with Hanoi Jane
- those who epithet Hanoi Jane

I would estimate those are disjoint classes.

TTrimble 3:31 PM  

@Anonymous 2:45 PM
Wow, I couldn't disagree more with most of that, including the reductionist thesis about "sounds".

But this did cause an amusing memory to bubble up. This happened when I was probably four, and no more than five years old because I remember it happened in the "old yellow house" we lived in, a single-level ranch before we moved into a much larger house when I was six. I must have been learned it by watching Bugs Bunny because there's no way I learned it from my parents or my younger brother who was at most two or three. It's hunting season for Elmer Fudd, and each of Bugs and Daffy are trying to convince Elmer that it's duck season or wabbit season, respectively. By a series of verbal tricks by Bugs, it's always Daffy who has to rearrange his face after every shotgun blast, and finally at the end, exhausted and puffing, Daffy pulls himself up to chest level of Bugs and says to him, "You're despicable!!" Well, the memory is that I was mad at my mom about something and said to her, with righteous childish anger, "You're despicable!" Now ordinarily I think that would have brought swift punishment upon myself, but I think she was so shocked by that pronouncement and the use of the word itself that nothing happened.

(FWIW, my childhood was completely ordinary. I mixed with and indeed was one of the "hoi polloi". Certainly my parents were not at pains to teach me anything approaching "the King's/Queen's English". But even ordinary kids pick up things.)

bocamp 3:43 PM  

@jae 2:07 PM

Nice one! πŸ˜‚

@TTrimble 2:10 PM

Once again reason comes to the rescue! 😊

td pg -1

Peace Tolerance Kindness Togetherness πŸ•Š

kitshef 3:45 PM  

@Ttrimble 9:56 - "Mild duds" appears in LMS's post today.

GILL I. 3:57 PM  

Great comments today....Especially @A and "Back to Methuselah" and @Barbara S and her role of Barbara Undershaft. My only high school play claim to fame was playing Kate in "Taming of the Shrew." I managed to kill the Kings English with a mighty swift sword.

Anonymous 4:17 PM  


I do not think we disagree all that much. The issue is whether juveniles, at the earliest learning of what we adults call language, simply have not the experience to distinguish English from French from German from Arabic, as such. All they know is that what they say/hear from Reginald is different from Francios is different from Heinrich is different from Abduhl. It is all one 'language', a set of sounds that have meaning, but differ depending on context. At some point they understand the difference.

Another factoid. The next door folks are from the Dominican. She grew up here and there, while he almost only there. They speak Spanish among themselves; he is having trouble doubling up, as most all adults do. Their rug rat is now about four, and uses both languages, English with us and Spanish with them. I mentioned to Mom that he had no discernible accent in English (which puzzled me, given that he has spent most of his living in Spanish, not English), how about Spanish. "Oh yes he has an accent; he doesn't roll his Rs."

JD 4:30 PM  

@Anons 2:45-6, My husband was a retired Lt. Col., a pilot, with an MA in public administration, who served in Viet Nam as a young Lt. He was well read and well spoken. He was not fond of Fonda and he couldn't stand Trump. Care to pigeon hole him?

TTrimble 4:45 PM  

@Anonymous 4:17 PM
I strongly disagree with you that we don't disagree all that much! :-)

However, I'm not going to debate this further.

I did enjoy what you called a "factoid", though -- that's a nice story.

Ah, thanks!

GILL I. 5:01 PM  

@JD...I'm with your husband. I don't like getting into discussions like this but there are things you just don't forget. Fonda never really did ask for forgiveness - at least in any genuine way - other than to further her career. I watched Vietnam veterans being spit on in San Francisco. We all hated the war; her incitement didn't help. Give me Lily Tomlin and her genuineness any day.

Frantic Sloth 5:03 PM  

@TTrimble 331pm Isn't it "dethspicable"? πŸ˜‰ Also, thank you for your 210pm post. Couldn't agree more.

sanfranman59 5:11 PM  

@LMS ... 'money' was the first word to come to my mind with a multitude of synonyms ... cash, capital, funds, lucre, gelt, coin, change, dough, bread, loot, moolah, bucks, jack, kale, green, pelf, scratch, dinero, greenback, tender ... I know I'm missing a bunch here. Not at all surprising.

M@c 5:31 PM  

Despite the SCORN from PSALM people, I was quite FONDA this. Pardon the puns; been in bad HUME or maybe more of a FUNK all day...

Z 7:06 PM  

@JD 4:30 - Zing!

@Frantic Sloth - I was going to mention that the ICE RICE NOOGIE ear worm had put me under pressure, but thought most people would miss the copyright infringement allusion. Clearly I was wrong.

@Adam - Methinks saying “EKE BY is less ‘in the language’ than ‘EKE out’” is a more accurate way to put it.

Eniale 7:59 PM  

@Roomonster 9:00AM CHE sera sera?

albatross shell 8:01 PM  

If I had to choose between the people who stepped over the line being against the war and people who stepped over the line being for the warn, put me on the Fonda side. Was then am now. Instead of calling anti-war people names, defend the war. And don't give me that spitting on soldiers crap. The pro-war side treated the far worse.

Nigel Pottle 8:05 PM  

I’m sure I’m right. Yesterday’s puzzle and today’s puzzle were in the wrong order. I take 7 minutes longer on a Tuesday (19) and 4 minutes faster on a Wednesday. See. Today’s puzzle, notwithstanding Rex’s glee, was easy while Tuesday gave me a huge challenge.

Bruce Fieggen 9:12 PM  

It wasn’t just the picture of her on the ant-aircraft gun we objected to, it was the radio broadcasts. She walked in the footsteps of Tokyo Rose.

Andrew Heinegg 9:43 PM  


Nancy 10:17 PM  

Catching up to the blog very late. Although Shaw is one of my favorite playwrights, I'm not familiar with "Back to Methuselah". Thanks for including that scene, @Barbara S. It's terrific. But I found it most interesting because of the line "I dream of things that never were and ask why not?" That was RFK's signature line, and I never imagined that it was first uttered by the serpent in the Garden of Eden. Did Bobby know that??? I'm not sure that identifying oneself with the serpent was such a cool political move. Also, he was the most devout Catholic of anyone in the family other than Rose. So I have to believe he didn't know that. It made no difference, because no one else knew either. Certainly I didn't.

Barbara S. 10:55 PM  

I can't take credit for the "Back to Methuselah" reference. That was @A (2:20 PM).

Ian 10:57 PM  

You are correct.

David 6:01 AM  

good work and read it

Anonymous 7:22 PM  

@LorenMuseSmith! Welcome back! We missed your comments and insight. We have to know: where did you go?

spacecraft 10:30 AM  

I have to agree with OFC on this one. The theme is great, but wasted on a fill that shouts "I don't care!" Let those third-graders just quit yelling and start fighting. Then maybe they'll shut up in detention. EKE would be rejected anyway, but BY?? Too bad for WDS.

JANE who seems so FONDA controversy is DOD. SurFACE/FACEt seems at least halfway cheating, don'tcha think? Same root word...

I make it Theme: eagle; fill: double bogey. Result: par.

Anonymous 10:42 AM  

Rex's idea of "Easy" and mine generally tend to be vastly different concepts, but in this case, I did find this one fairly simple to complete with one exception.

I'm not a huge fan of crossing two relatively obscure people as was done at 13D/16A with "Texas politoco O'Rourke"/"Philosopher David".

Maybe if I had taken a philosophy course ever or followed Texas politics, this would have been a snap, but being an Engineer in Canada, I had no clue. Ruined a perfectly good start to my day ;-).

Burma Shave 12:41 PM  


JANEFONDA has really AGED SO well,
INTUNE with what time INCURs,
THE title 'BABE' is ever HERS.


leftcoaster 3:26 PM  

Clever, interesting, medium mid-week solve.

In the schoolyard, heard a commonly used two-word denial, ARE NOT, and a less commonly used three-word retort, I AM SO. That stuck me as unusual (?).

Thought the SEA LANE instead of the FACET might extend BELOW THE SURFACE, despite messing with theme symmetry.

Would not have wanted to suffer Shaw’s SCORN for that one.

rondo 5:44 PM  

The NW corner was the highlight where JANEFONDA AGED into a BABE. The rest? Meh.

leftcoaster 5:58 PM  

@BS -- Really need to join you on that one.

Diana, LIW 6:16 PM  

Didn't this seem more like a Tuesday? (not that I know what the dif is)

So yes, easyish - but I did truly enjoy the theme. Love those loooong answers.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

leftcoaster 7:36 PM  

@rondo -- Inversely, BABE AGED into JANE FONDA (a mature person). Good one either way.

rondo 9:31 PM  

@lefty - good point, actually better.

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