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Thursday, January 21, 2021

Constructor: Daniel Mauer

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging

THEME: TURN SIGNAL (56A: Automotive safety feature represented (and to be followed) eight times in this puzzle) —

Theme answers:
  • MODERATE / BOREDOM (both answers take a "right" turn at the "R")
  • "I'M ALIVE" / EVIL ONE (both answers take a "left" turn at the "L")
  • CAST LOTS / STOLES (both answers take a "left" turn at the "L")
  • DEGRADE / CHARGED (both answers take a "right" turn at the "R")
Word of the Day: BORATE (one of the eight answers in this puzzle that have no clue ... this one looks like it's 5D) —
 a salt or ester of a boric acid (
• • •

Answers that turn at some point ... I have seen that a bunch of times before. Turning on the L or the R? Not sure. Don't know. The TURN SIGNAL angle is interesting, conceptually. But there's something missing here, some element to make it really pop. Two Ls, two Rs ... no real rhyme or reason to the execution. The answers veer left two times, then they veer R two times. The theme basically does what it says it does, but it feels really workmanlike and underwhelming. The thing that really isn't sitting well with me is the unclued stuff—that is, the answers that occur if you just read straight instead of turning. Actually, unclued entries are bound to happen with turning answers, so it's not just the uncluedness of eight answers; it's specifically the *uncrossed*ness of four of the answers. So BORATE isn't clued, but it's got the BOR from BOREDOM (which is clued) and the RATE from MODERATE, so every part of BORATE is clued in some way, even if the word itself isn't clued. But now let's look at MODERNISTS (the apparent 17A). You've got the MODER part, from MODERATE, but the -NISTS ... what is cluing the -NISTS. Nothing, that's what. In crosswords, every square has to be crossed in some way; that is, you have to have two ways (at least) of getting any given square. And with four letter strings in this puzzle (the NISTS in MODERNISTS, the EYE in EVIL EYE, the I in STOLI, and the EES in DEGREES), there simply are no crosses. I guess the idea is that ... whatever letters go there ... have to make ... *some* kind of (unclued) word. This is the deeply unfortunate byproduct of having both your crossing answers turn the same direction. If you get one turning left and the other turning right, then all paths out from the L or R are covered by clues. But when both theme crosses turn the same direction, one of those paths out from the L or R is left totally unaccounted for, cluewise. It makes my eye twitch.

The fill is also unaccountably unappealing in some corners. GAI SITKA ELIA AUS MFR ... all of that in the SE is really unappealing. AUS ... I thought that was the abbr. for Austria? Looks like Austria is AUT? Wow, sucks for Austria. Things aren't much nicer in the NE, with ICEE STENOS ODEDON (I'm a little tired of the puzzle's over-reliance on all things O.D.-related). CDC CDS is a not-great cross (also, terrible music, probably). And yikes, AMOEBOID?! -BOID? Sigh. There's good stuff sprinkled in here (BAD TAKES, COGNAC, PURE CHANCE), but CAN I? AREN'T I? ANTI? STOLI? (more than one stolus) ... too much of this clanks instead of hums. I like that NAS and RAP are symmetrical. That's probably PURE CHANCE, but I like it nonetheless. Missed a couple good chances to cross-reference clues (YES OR NO and ANS., BIPED and AUS ... actually, that last one only occurred to me because "kangaroo" (an AUS. BIPED) is in the clue for BIPED; maybe it's not the most natural cross-referencing opportunity). Overall, interesting twist on a been-done theme, but the execution leaves some parts unacceptably uncrossed. And then the fill is hit/miss. OK, back to basking in this weird feeling of living in a country run by basically good, basically competent people. Ahh. Good day. 

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Joaquin 12:03 AM  

Well, that was a pretty slick feat of construction and a reasonable challenge to solve.

I filled in 1A, and therefore had the “B” for 3D. So … "B" plus seven more letters clued as “Ill-advised opinions”. I’m sure I’m not the only one here who thought of another 8-letter phrase that worked just as well (or better) than BAD TAKES.

And RAP had a golden age? Who knew? Who cares? Not I.

Robin 12:07 AM  

"The thing that really isn't sitting well with me is the unclued stuff—that is, the answers that occur if you just read straight instead of turning."

Yes, thank you.

Frantic Sloth 12:24 AM  

There was so much about this puzzle that bothered me, I can't even choose (pick?) among the nits.

I did kinda enjoy figuring out which way to turn and the resulting (clued) answers, but those orphan words...I will never like seeing those.

The fill and the clueing were just inedible. And this McRib of crossworld does not pass the [insert any meal here] test, IMHO.

The lone exception: HAILED and the Caesar/taxi pun.


Jeremy 12:26 AM  

This was the hardest NYT puzzle I've attempted ever. Just off the wavelength, I suppose. I can't say I found the theme enjoyable, but I confess to have missed the L/R distinction.

Jeremy 12:33 AM  

I'm with Rex on this one. Super weird that there are just these...words in the puzzle. Just sitting there. Like interlopers. Stowaways. Guests without an invitation. Just...staring at me. Like, "Hey, I'm here, what are you gonna do about it?"


okanaganer 12:48 AM  

I actually didn't notice this until I read xwordinfo, but the left or right turning is determined by whether the letter in the circled square is L or R. From his writeup, I'm not sure if Rex noticed it either? My appreciation of the theme increased when I was so informed.

But I agree with him about the unclued actual answers. There could be dual clues, I guess. How exactly would one clue I'M ALONE?

I actually finished with an error; I had AMOEBOIC crossing CCS.

bocamp 12:48 AM  

Thank you, @Daniel for this excruciating challenge. Turns out that it was doable, and that made the struggle worthwhile. :)

Very tough solve. Over three times Thurs. av. NW was brutal.

Always enjoyed playing "charades".

"Anna" Marie ~ Jim Reeves

yd pg -1

Peace Tolerance Kindness Togetherness πŸ•Š

aeevans 12:50 AM  

The Evil One is out. A good day, indeed.

jae 1:28 AM  

Tough, partly because the NW had some WOEs...AMARO, HABIB, AMOEBOID...which, coupled with figuring out which way to turn, made it very tough.

Agree with @Rex about the fill (see above) but I liked the challenge.

ZenMonkey 2:24 AM  

I liked the “aha” moment when I was confused in the NE, then noticed the R and L and grokked the trick. Nice job getting TURN SIGNAL in as well.

Also I reached a 120-day solving streak so I was bound to give the puzzle some slack in goodwill.

But yes, I feel those unclued answers are a missed opportunity in some way. “MODERNISTS going through the CHARADE of getting their DEGREES cry ‘I’M ALONE’ when...” I dunno.

jae 2:25 AM  

....and today was very very very fine day!

razerx 2:58 AM  

I solved it without knowing the theme but it’s damn clever.

Unknown 3:37 AM  

I took stoli to mean stolichnaya. You know, cause stoles and Russia. Uhh...

No retcon comes to mind for borate and castles. Shrug.

JOHN X 4:13 AM  

I’m at an inaugural gala in Washington DC so I hope everyone enjoyed the day.

This was a pretty good puzzle. It took me longer than usual because I was railing coke off a stripper’s ass with two governors while I was solving it. That’s harder to do than it sounds.

This gala is wilder than the night Bill Clinton got elected in ‘92 and that night was wild.

Gotta go. Ciao.

Charles Flaster 5:26 AM  

Could not negotiate HABIB so a DNF. Enjoyed the TURN SIGNAL theme ( very clever).
Liked cluing for FEEDBACK.
Thanks DM.

Lobster11 6:53 AM  

Public service announcement: Your TURNSIGNAL is operated by moving the stick on the left side of the steering column either up or down. As far as I can tell, very few drivers seem to be aware of this.

OffTheGrid 6:57 AM  

This doesn't look bipedal to me

Lewis 7:02 AM  

For quite a while here, my feeling while solving was was that of negotiating thick traffic, with horns honking, people yelling, and me driving carefully and on edge to prevent scraping other cars – very stop and go. Did I reach my destination? Yes, but only after getting there did I see the route I took, that is, that’s when the L and R of the theme became clear to me. That’s when I went “Oho! Should have seen that earlier, and this would have been a smoother ride.”

I was most happy to successfully get to the end, and most appreciative of the skill it took to create this grid.

And something else – the feeling this puzzle gave me, of coursing through a clashing period of sound and fury, and finally getting it behind, then landing in a calm and happy place. There’s something so recent and familiar about that…

Guilherme Gama 7:05 AM  

Broke my streak with this one, not because I didn't feel up to the task, but because I didn't care enough to try. What a slog this was.

Anonymous 7:22 AM  

Didn't like the orphan words either. But nice to see both CDC and FAUCI in the quiz, and hoping that in this new era of taking science more seriously, the CDC will be led by competent people and not partisan hacks.

kitshef 7:25 AM  

I’m still a bit emotional about MR. PEANUT.

Really good idea, and fun to solve.

One major flaw in that some letters are unclued in one direction. You do that, the crosses have to be slam dunks. NAS is not permitted.

Some weirdnesses like AMARO, STAD, MFR(!!), BORATE(!!!).

Andy 7:41 AM  

Left the theme answers until last, and NE clicked first, but then I tried to figure out a rule for the unclued portions to help with the rest, which did not work.
COKIE/CDC/CDS and ABE/ELIA/FAUCI/SITKA were frustrating for me. Also "Clara in the National Women's Hall of Fame" gave me nothing. Okay, it's a significant, presumably American woman, and her name is Clara. I don't know my Civil War trivia, so I just had to figure it out with a cross from a military initialization and an unclued BORATE.
My first time seeing a puzzle with this kind of theme, which I was stoked on, so this was overall really fun and memorable. Running the left turns against the flow was great.

ChuckD 7:42 AM  

I liked this for the most part. The trickery was fun to get - I continue to be amazed at constructor’s who can pull off stuff like this. Didn’t mind the leftover words. NAS actually got me that first themer - but it wasn’t just filling after that - this required some work. The overall fill was so-so. AMOEBOID x COKIE is pretty bad but I liked the FEEDBACK x SITKA cross. Side eye to ODED ON - just don’t like the clue but could relax with COGNAC and STOLI.

PISMO always reminds me of Bugs.

Enjoyable solve.

pabloinnh 7:52 AM  

Clueless here until I found TURNSIGNAL, which is a little like someone telling you an answer, and then it was a matter of trying to see which way the words went, since the L and R feature, while elegant, was also for some reason invisible, at least to me. ASAP for SNAP got me stuck for far longer than it should have., Also was one of those days when I misread numbers all over the place. Not recommended,

Hand up for seeing random unclued words nd thinking, huh, random unclued words.

ARENTI is one of those phrases that always sounds off to me. I mean, we don't say "I are". The only alternatives are "ain't I", which, no, and "am I not", which, while correct, sounds pedantic.

Also, I had forgotten about the demise of MRPEANUT, so that was fun. See also, HAILED.

Thanks for the workout, DM. I'm ready to enjoy anything and everything for a while, in the post inaugural era of good feeling.

Brad H 8:08 AM  

Happy first day of regained competence in DC!
For the record, AUS is Australia and AUT is Austria. It's from the French: Autriche.
They are the abbreviations used in the Olympics.
It was refreshing finally to crack such a confounding puzzle!

Anna Lucia 8:17 AM  

Disappointed to see misogynistic rapper NAS in the grid. More misogyny coming from the new administration. On day 1, Biden unilaterally eviscerates women's sports. Executive order: Any educational institution that receives federal funding must admit biologically-male athletes to women's teams, women's scholarships, etc. Sigh.

Mikey from El Prado 8:22 AM  

I think the elegance in this puzzle is that both words turn in the same direction at the circles, a challenging feat to pull off. Once I got the revealer it was off to the races. YAY ME!

RooMonster 8:33 AM  

Hey All !
Interesting... Kind of upset about the Non-Clued "hanging out there" ends of the turned themers also. Maybe if they were all short, like the I of STOLI, one or two letters, OK, but NISTS? Dang. And after having SCIENTISTS. Maybe coulda tried to clue the turners as including the actual straight word somehow? But then, one might not see the turns. Oh, and add me to the list of failing to see that they were L or R, and having to turn said way.

And... that NW corner, can take a flying leap into a lake off a short pier! Holy BORATE! HABIB, AMARO(??), BADTAKES (wha?), three names (of which I did know, but some may not) COKIE, BARTON, HAMM, MET clued oddly, AMOEBOID and BORATE. Jeez Louise, that corner should've been tore out, and that fill never talked about again.

I know filling this was probably tough, and even though there were "unused" letters, having the straight-through turning themers be words is at least nice. (If you know what I'm trying to say...) Didn't totally hate it (well, except that NW!), but not a favorite. Some tricks are best left on the cutting room floor.

Not sure why the last two days of puzs have irked me so much. Quickly getting to "Get off my lawn" status. Can one get cantankerous overnight? Can't even use the given YAYME that's in the puz today. Sad.

Anyway, have a great day everyone. The least I could do to put something positive in here. :-)

Two F's

Z 8:42 AM  

You know, the unclued answers might have been okay. But no. You hit us with BORATE right from the get go and suck any forgiving impulse right out of the room.

Are there small IFS?

ODE DON is Jon Bon Jovi singing Here Comes the Sun from Florida as part of the Inaugural concert. Not to mention The Black Pumas singing Colors. So so many of the songs hit home as subtweets of the tweetless.

HABIB took an extra nanosecond because what every Arab-American parent I know calls there kid is HABIBi. While always said with love and affection, there is no surer way to cut a teenager to the quick than a mom saying “HABIBi, I’m so disappointed in you.” Of course, being teenagers, the guilt lasts 3.6 nanoseconds.

@Albie* - After yesterday’s discussion Rex’s eye twitch caught my eye. Niggle Niggle.

*In case you’re wondering, pick a long nom de blog and lazy old @Z may shorten it to save precious nanoseconds. Albie for @Albatross Shell or RΓΌ for @Roo Monster or Muse for everyone’s favorite muse.

TTrimble 8:49 AM  

Wow. Quite the constructioneering feat. I found it confusing as all get-out deciding which way to turn, but Rex's comments plus the L/R comments here make it all clear. Partly adding to my perplexity was 40 Down, thinking that the toreadors could be "CHAsees" if the toros are chasers, but then 50 Across was making no sense.

Missteps: Robin before COKIE (does Robin Roberts count as a newswoman? I'll leave it to her defenders to say). Wasn't clear which French pronoun possessive to settle on before SES. I had But IFS before BIG IFS, and then Oct off the t in But, creating all sorts of havoc. PISMO Beach: pulled that one out of the Can of I.

Puzzle notes: SITKA brought back to mind yesterday's SIDRA, which to me is better known not as some gulf, but as the Seinfeld character played by Teri "They're real, and they're spectacular" Hatcher. Also, I was quite unaware of the demise of MR PEANUT, so obviously I went to consult YouTube. I can't make up my mind if I wanted him to die with more or less dignity. It might have been fun if they endowed him with a Mr Bill voice, "nooooooo!!!", with a shot of his mangled shell. But then again, for such a venerated figure to die in only a half-comical way -- there was something not right about that either. I incidentally learned something that none of you knows, which is that the real name of MR PEANUT is Bartholomew Richard Fitzgerald Smythe. He died last January at the age of 104, and I also understand that he went through quite a few fashion changes over the decades, some seemingly overseen by QUEER EYE, but I digress.

Solved this puppy in just under my historical average. Which is sort of meh, but no matter: today is going to be a good day, as was yesterday. Loved the celebratory mood on TV last night. And there were some nice orations during the day.

TJS 8:49 AM  

Well, I hated this thing. And I hate the news from Anna Lucia;8:17, even though I guess I'm not supposed to. But I enjoyed hearing how @JohnX celebrated the Inauguration.

Tom 8:58 AM  

Yup. AUT for Austria. I watch a lot of World Cup skiing. I still don't know how STOLI figures in. The common slang for the vodka?

mmorgan 8:58 AM  

For me, it was a nice aha moment when I figured out the gimmick — before then, I was just confused.

Unknown 9:06 AM  

Rather easy overall, but the theme was like a pun you have to explain.

Canarian 9:20 AM  

@offthegrid ok but what about this?

@z I had the same moment with HABIBi. I was wondering if it was about formal Arabic vs the vernacular, but didn't ask my sittoo to avoid a 45 minute language lesson.

Anonymous 9:42 AM  

Personally, I thought the unclued words were the best part. Why does it seem like everyone is always complaining that something has been done too often, and then criticize anything new as “just not done”.

Nancy 9:43 AM  

I actually solved this. YAY ME. And I might have loved it so much. If only...

Because, Daniel, when you have a trick -- a really good one -- that puts such huge demands on the solver, you can't also require them to have such a wealth of arcane knowledge: Arabic words; Italian liqueurs (AMARO? I've only heard of amaretto); hip hop performers; and AMOEBOID -- a word that surely is only used by SCIENTISTS. These "turning" sorts of puzzles are some of the hardest to solve of all categories, and obscure fill makes the process too much like suffering. And boy did I suffer -- especially in the north, where StAt instead of SNAP made both NAS and PISMO impossible to see.

I realized at some frustrated point that I'd better head straight to the revealer -- because I just wasn't getting it. Then, once I "got" it, the direction of the turns felt arbitrary, and confused me. I missed the whole (admittedly clever) L/R thing. Remember I don't drive.

The fact that all of the non-turning fill is composed of actual words like MODERNISTS; CASTLES; and DEGREES is brilliant of course. This is so, so well crafted, and so very clever, Daniel, and I so want to love it -- but I can't, not really. I suffered too much. And please note that today, I'm not putting "suffering" in quotes.

57stratocaster 9:55 AM  

Lots of resistance in this, with the answers not matching the clues...but then when I figured out the trick (very near the end) it was pretty neat. Over average time and over average challenge for a Thurs.

GILL I. 10:06 AM  

MR PEANUT DIED????? Who killed him?
OK, so @Jeremy 12:33 picked my brain....Am I a leftie or a rightie interloper? Do I know a BORATE from BOREDOM? HABIB is missing its A.
AMARO, STOLI and COGNAC walk into bar. They approach a beautiful blonde Karen and ask "So, do I come here often?....
Now I move on to the BIPED. Did you know that cockroaches run bipedally? Running on six little legs is counterproductive.
I understood what was going on here with the EVIL ONE/EYE thing. But my problem is I'm not good at using brain turn signals. The little threes here also confounded me but I had a bottle of champagne last night with my husband so I was able to get just about everything. I was able to finish this up in the morning and decide whether I liked this or not. I'm confounded. Is that a word?

burtonkd 10:14 AM  

I found this to be tough but fair. Thought I would break my streak, but eventually pulled through once I realized they could turn R or L (I wanted them all to go East or South). Hands up for learning about the R or L here.

On a side note, I find it easier to turn left when cycling, skating or driving. Anyone know if that is typical for righties?

I always have to remember that NAS is pronounced like a Z but spelled with an S. Can't say I could name a piece of his, but he comes up often enough in Xwords that he is worth remembering: the TSAR/CZAR of Rap.

Got AMARO by association with AMARETTO, but they are apparently not related.

Meta-complaint warning: I recall many puzzles that had some kind of turning or substitution construction that Rex complained about, suggesting they would be good if they actually spelled a real word, rather than creating inelegant gibberish in the grid - SO today we get just that, and we now need some meta level additional cluing: must complain, must complain, must complain about puzzle...

puzzlehoarder 10:14 AM  

This was one of your better Thursdays. I spent most of my time in the upper half using the fill to smoke out the theme.

The NE was where I figured the key to the turn being indicated by the circled letter. That allowed me to put BOREDOM in its proper place and change ASAP to SNAP. That write over cost me a lot of time.

The lower half of the puzzle was then easy and the revealer was redundant.

I especially enjoyed figuring out that NW corner. Stacking two obscure entries like HABIB and AMARO is a great way to start a late week puzzle. I've seen them only as names and that was almost 10 years ago. It always ups the challenge to have virtual unknowns to work around.

Sir Hillary 10:23 AM  

Wait, they killed MRPEANUT during the Super Bowl two years ago? I must have been in the bathroom, or in the kitchen stuffing my face with my friend Joni's crabcakes or, most likely, asleep on the couch, as that Super Bowl (Pats-Rams) led to more BOREDOM any I've watched in ages.

As to today's puzzle, top marks to Daniel Mauer for making the "unturned" Acrosses and Downs legitimate entries; only BORATE was new to me. I liked it more than Rex, but his criticism of the unclued squares is fully justified.

Rex is also correct in bemoaning a lot of bad fill, especially the 3-letter variety. More annoying than any of that, however, was the ICE clue. Why turn a real word into a stupid suffix? Save that for desperate entries like ARY, ORY and IAL.

Dontcha hate when you misread a clue number and put a seemingly perfect entry that fits with crosses? Today, I had _R_N__ at 42D, read the clue for 43D, and dropped in bRaNdy. NOPE!

I happened to notice that the left-turn trick works at the IMAC/SUMO cross, becoming IMUS (Don) and SUMAC (Yma). Yeah, the cross isn't an L, but YAYME anyway.

mathgent 10:24 AM  

An absolute masterpiece. Bravo, Mr. Maurer.

Having the eight unclued entries be related would have been nice but that's really too much to ask. Quite enough that they're all words.

Nancy (9:43. "... I'm not putting "suffering" in quotes." Heh, heh.

Bad clue at 6A. "It was a SNAP" means that it was easy. But we don't say "SNAP" to someone to get them to hurry up.

Nancy's line reminds me of the classic logic puzzle. A mythical land is inhabited by two tribes, Truthtellers and Liars. Truthtellers must always tell the truth, Liars must always lie. A visitor encounters an inhabitant who says, "I am not a Truthteller." What tribe is he in?"

Carola 10:35 AM  

Boy, this was tough for me. I saw early on that some sort of TURNing was necessary, but didn't catch on to the L and R SIGNALs until very late, when I saw how CAST LOTS and STOLES worked. That allowed me to finish the NW corner, with BOREDOM, which was the exact opposite of my feeling after a lo-o-ong solving trip. I paused and took some time to gawk at the construction feat. I thought it was terrific, and the unclued "straight-ahead" answers a genius touch. After all, you're turning at the intersections, not continuing on into the stretch that's terra incognita.

Worst hang-ups were 1) conceptual: I'd assumed that as with other similar turning themes, the turns would mirror each other, like EVIL ONE mirroring I'M A...wait a minute...LEYE? Lots of consternation, averting of eyes from these crash scenes, looking for friendlier territory. 2) having "asAP" instead of SNAP, which obscured the SCIENTISTS for a very long time.

@Daniel Mauer, thank you for this diabolical challenge.

Whatsername 10:38 AM  

This is one of those days when I took time to read the comments before posting my own to see IF there was something I’m missing. @Nancy pretty much summed it up for me; I admire the complexity of the construction but didn’t enjoy solving it all that much. Appreciate the effort and since most everyone else seems to love it, it’s most likely a case of it’s me, not you.

The pageantry of the inauguration was understandably toned down, but Lady Gaga was dazzling and Amanda G. was a pure ray of sunshine. And those fireworks last night - wow!! BTW, if you didn’t happen to see the latest cover of The New Yorker, take a quick look at their depiction of

Donald Trump’s final send off.

Peter P 10:39 AM  

Like @Guilherme Gama, I broke my streak with this one. Halfway through, I just stopped caring. I could see the turning answers but the orphaned/unclued words made me think I was missing something and I clicked on "show puzzle" exactly 20:00 into my solve. Thursdays are usually my favorite puzzle, but I just did not like this one, despite grokking the gimmick. It was those unclued words that were just sticking in my craw.

Frantic Sloth 10:48 AM  

@TTrimble 849am I actually already knew the real name of Mr. Peanut because I did the same thing you did! Frankly, I was a little annoyed with the whole concept of legumicide, but if you watched the cemetery scene, there is a nice surprise.

@Tom 858am You don't know how STOLI fits in because it doesn't. It's a grid orphan, which (not uncoincidentally) is the opposite of endorphin.

@GILL 1006am and anyone who's interested. Here is the long version/explanation of Mr. Peanut's demise.
Now, GILL, will you return the favor and supply a video of a cockroach running bipedally? No doubt It will simultaneously thrill and sicken me, but I must have it!

ASAP or SNAP 10:55 AM  

@mathgent, I got caught with ASAP too at first but I think the brackets indicate a gesture, that is that a person might SNAP their fingers when saying “hurry up”. For instance another clue could be [ Not again ] with the answer being SIGH. I’m not sure I’ve got that right but I will be checking out the bracketed clues for awhile.

Swagomatic 10:56 AM  

This was not my cup of tea. In spite of the fact that I knew what the gimmick was, it was a slog all the way through. I also had a typo that I couldn't track down, adding to the homework-ness of the enterprise.

SRC 11:15 AM  

@TJS - Don’t worry about the “news” from Anna. That’s just some TERF/Federalist Society framing of the restoring of LGBTQ rights that had been decimated under the last administration.

Katzzz 11:15 AM  

Snap it up

Hungry Mother 11:16 AM  

Had to go to the red letters. I was feeling like I was on a lonnng trip and not happy about it.

Tom R 11:20 AM  

Agreed with most of the comments including Rex. Tough puzzle, didn't really get the trick until I got the revealer. One thing I wonder about, are kangeroos really bipedal? Google search yields "There are 5 well-developed toes on the front feet; there is no opposable digit, but the front paws are very much like hands, and are used for holding food." Its a conundrum.

Frantic Sloth 11:23 AM  

@Whatsername 1038am Thanks for the link - LOL! An old friend returns in triumph. Channeling Don, Jr. at the end of the video, I uttered "let's kill it." Because, you know, that's how they "think". 😑

Newboy 11:32 AM  

A long time back I read @Lewis and thought his response was perfect for this delightful Thursday. Then I got to @Nancy and had to pause! Solving in the PNW has a built in three hour delay, so finding something beyond “me too” becomes increasingly tough given the wit and wisdom early posters display each morning. Never having read (or even realized they existed) the rules Rex cites, those orphaned entries like BORATE were just fine with me. They made real words although— like SES or HABIB — not a heavy hitter in the Idaho lexicon. Crossworld is delightful because it diverts the BOREDOM with flashbacks to MR PEANUT’s demise or the Title Nine triumph of Ms HAMM. Thanks @Frantic for the link to the YouTube and Daniel for making this post inauguration morning brighter than I had expected possible.

Frantic Sloth 11:37 AM  

Sorry, TTrimble, Here is the "nice surprise" of which I spoke. No idea why Flipper is dubbed in, but whatever.

Anonymous 11:37 AM  

Easy peasy Thursday

EdFromHackensack 11:38 AM  

Hmmm. This was difficult but I got it (confession: I Googled for NAS. big deal) . I got TURNSIGNAL before any of the themers so I knew I had to turn at the circles. But some turned one way, and others the other way. Didn’t notice the R or L distinction. The orphans I tried to figure out.... like what does CHARADE have to do with the theme? I was thinking, well you take TURNs when playing charades... then my brain started to hurt and I stopped. I always consider it a win if you get all the squares correct even if you don’t entirely understand the theme. Good workout, not for the faint-hearted. THANKS Daniel Maurer.

OffTheGrid 11:39 AM  

@canarian. What a great video. Kangaroos must be the Prius of mammals.

bocamp 11:41 AM  

This puzzle was anything but "boring". Always up for a challenge!

@Z 8:42 AM

Thx for the links. :)

Love your "nanoseconds" concept!

@burtonkd 10:14 AM wrote: "On a side note, I find it easier to turn left when cycling, skating or driving. Anyone know if that is typical for righties?"

Very interesting observation. I think you've got something there.

There's a physical reason why there aren't many left-handed infielders (other than at 1st base), and why are the bases run by left turns? I wonder if the fact that most oval races (track, skating, auto racing, horse racing, etc.) go in a counter-clockwise direction, stems from a right-handed world's bias, i.e., it's more natural to turn left. And, might there be a slight physical advantage (or perhaps psychological one) afforded righties in these sports?

In fact, there are probably many areas (not only in sports) where right-handed bias is built in. I imagine left-handers would be much more sensitive to these things than righties.

Peace Tolerance Kindness Togetherness πŸ•Š

Nancy 11:44 AM  

@Whatsername -- Great link!!! Couldn't happen to a nicer guy. Thanks so much.

@mathgent -- Just sent you an email query about your logic puzzle.

Suggestion to Daniel on making this puzzle a little less obscure: I rarely if ever give advice on grid-making since, if I knew anything about constructing grids, I'd bloody well construct my own, but you could so easily have removed at least one bit of PPP. Swap out NAS/SNAP for WAS/SWAP. Did you ever consider that, or do you just like hip-hop?

GILL I. 12:04 PM  

@Frantic....Because I love you to bits and pieces of PEANUTS....I thought you might like Running of the Roaches in Wisconsin"

Whatsername 12:05 PM  

@aeevans (12:50) “The Evil One is out.” I’m thinking the CDC and Anthony FAUCI might agree.

@John X (4:13) Those governors? I hope you got photos in case you need them as evidence.

@burtonkd (10:14) Is it naturally easier for righties to TURN left? My FEEDBACK is yes based on my own experience at skating and downhill skiing. I could ACE those left turns but the rights always took a little more effort and even felt awkward at times.

@Frantic (11:23) Time Magazine should’ve put the eagle on the cover. He was certainly more handsome. And possibly more perceptive.

@bocamp (11:41) My hubby was a southpaw and always said the world is designed for righties. Perfect example is a pair of scissors. According to him, lefties tend to become somewhat ambidextrous as a result. He was, particularly in sports.

Nancy 12:06 PM  

@Newboy (11:32) -- Your graciousness to all of us, but coupled with your very sad personal left coast predicament of always being late to the blog, makes me want to suggest to you my way of dealing with much the same predicament. (I'm on the right coast, but I'm also a late riser who doesn't even look at the puzzle until after breakfast and coffee.)

I realized shortly after I came to the blog that there would always be 30-50 people posting ahead of me and that many of my reactions to the puzzle would not be unique to me. That other people might well have already said what I was preparing to say. And in a flash I decided not to worry my pretty little head about it. I just wouldn't read anyone else's comment until after I'd written mine. Because, otherwise there would be nothing to do but [figuratively] put down my pen and get back into bed.

I suggest you do the same, @Newboy. Assume that, even if others have already made the same observations you are planning to make, they will not have made them in the same words, or with the same flair, or bringing to them the same worldly experience that you are bringing. Make your points and then read the comments. At which point you can think to yourself: "How nice! @Lewis and @Loren and @Nancy and @Whatsername and @pabloinnh and @kitshef and @GILL all agree with me today!!! I am so perspicacious, AREN'T I?" :)

egsforbreakfast 12:09 PM  

@John X 4:13 am I hope you were wearing a mask while hooverinng your blow.

This puzzle, without clues for some words, reminded me that my 32 year old daughter is such a jigsaw aficionado that she now does a type where they show you a still picture from an action scene on the box, but the puzzle represents what the scene looks like 5 or 10 minutes later. She’s thinking that the next step is jigsaw puzzles where all you get is a written description of the scene as a guideline.

I liked the puzzle, but not as much as I liked Amanda Gordon and her inaugural poem.

Frantic Sloth 12:19 PM  

@bocamp 1141am Absolutely! My sister is a leftie and has always bemoaned the rightcentricity of the world - you cite some excellent examples!
FYI The nuns at our grammar school used to try beating it out of her and other left-handers born of demon spawn. I kid you not.

@GILL 1204pm LOL! Thank you, but I think that link is broken. No worries - just your making the effort warms my PEANUTS.

Dan M 12:29 PM  

@Nancy well, have to say, you're right -- WAS/SWAP would have been better & less crosswordesey than NAS/SNAP! I actually had NAS cross-referenced with RAP (which is directly opposite that entry in the grid), but the clue hit the cutting room floor. Cheers :)

Lewis 12:32 PM  

@Whatsername – Your highlights of the inauguration matched mine exactly, and I loved the New Yorker cover as well.

@mathgent – I agree with ASAP or SNAP’s translation of the SNAP clue. I also agree with your assessment of the puzzle.

Dan M 12:33 PM  

Hi all, constructor here, enjoying all the comments! I'll mention that I realize some of the fill was a bit rough, and the "dangling" unclued words aren't super elegant and at least bend one of the cardinal rules, but changing either of those things proved basically impossible (maybe a superior constructor could have managed it but I have no idea)... at any rate, I thought the gimmick was interesting and different enough that it was well worth doing regardless of those bits. And I found out this morning that this is the debut of Dr. FAUCI in the NYTXW, which makes me happy :)

MBC 12:33 PM  

@SRC-You can call it “framing” all you like but there are real victims of these policies. To quote Kathleen Stock, “ If Biden really does want unity & end to uncivil war as much as he says, backing feelings of gender identity over sex in law is a spectacular act of self-sabotage. Didn’t really work out that way in the UK. How do you make working-class America feel listened to? Er.. by ruining amateur sport for women and girls, and exposing the poorest to additional risks when using public facilities? Try again. And no that’s not a point about trans women in particular. That’s a point about males, invisible gender identity, and how anyone can say they have it.)“ I have no doubt Biden’s motives are noble but the road to Hell is paved with good intentions.

jberg 12:37 PM  

I missed the L and R signals at the turning points; instead, even after I figured out the turns, I kept wanting one of them to turn the other way, in order to give those letters something to do. Also, I'm finding it harder to read the tiny clue numbers in the paper, so I kept trying to put answers in the wrong places, then writing over them. But I got through it, and it was a nice challenge.

Oops, I just noticed that I didn't actually finish. I had asAP for 6A, changed the first a to S for SCIENTISTS, and there is a rapper named SAS, so I didn't worry -- although I've never heard or seen SSAP, so I should have!

Boo hoo.

GILL I. 12:57 PM  

@Frantic....The story of my life these last 4 years....But guess what? The Roach and his Cock have left the premises! Time to pop some bubbly....

Masked and Anonymous 1:03 PM  

ahar! Runt-rolls!

yep. M&A knew he was in for a fight, when the first two clues he laid eyes on were: {Beloved, in Arabic} and {Italian herbal liqueur}. In order to prevent unthinkable nanosecond carnage [yo, M.B. @Z], I immediately switched to the relative safety of the NE corner. Where I splatzed in STENOS immediately, and was off and runnin.

Then I ended up whilin away the nanoseconds in the NW anyway, tryin desperately to figure out the ANS's that went thru that darn circled L square. Hung in there, movin at super-amoeboid speed, until I latched onto the theme mcguffin there-in.

Well, if you're gonna have some unchecked squares in yer turn lane ANS's, I'm thankful BORATE wasn't one of em. Neat, that the resultin words straight thru them circles all stayed real recognizable words, except maybe for the dreaded BORATE.

staff weeject pick: ANS. Which can do a left turn to get ANO.
fave sparklers: AMOEBOID. MRPEANUT. FAUCI.
fave unclued ANS's: CHARADE. EVILEYE.

Thanx for the wild ride, Mr. Mauer. It kinda turned on m&e now and then, but got er done eventually.

Masked & Anonymo4Us


JC66 1:11 PM  

@Dan M

Thanks for showing up.

Thane of 13th 1:24 PM  

6A clue is good. A clue in brackets usually means a nonverbal answer. One snaps one’s fingers to mean “hurry up”.

Anoa Bob 1:37 PM  

I'm usually pretty good with spatial reasoning type stuff but this puzzle had me hanging upside down while turning my head 270 DEGREES when I went back to try and make sense out of the TURN SIGNAL reveal. And is a TURN SIGNAL a "safety feature" as clued? I think "seat belt" and "air bag" and that sort of thing would be for safety while a TURN SIGNAL, horn, flashing parking lights, etc. would be an "information feature".

They killed MR PEANUT? Hope they catch the perps and throw the book at them! With _RPE___ in place from crossing AREA, BIPED and HAILED, I confidently dropped in DR PEPPER. It fit and, along with all artificially flavored, carbonated sugar water drinks, should be the one that gets axed, given the enormous health costs (obesity, diabetes and other metabolic disorders) they exact on so many people. I guess it's ironic that studies are showing even more harm from the no-sugar, zero calorie varieties.

I think most SCIENTISTS will tell us that there is no such thing as PURE CHANCE and that the "outcome of a coin flip" (30D) and other such events are determined by the laws of physics. The forces involved (mass, acceleration, vectors of action and reaction, air pressure, friction, etc.) may be so many and so minute as to be practically impossible to measure accurately enough to predict a "heads" or a "tails" so that it appears to the casual onlooker that the outcome is CHANCE, but it ain't.

Mamas don't let your babies grow up to be STENOS.

ChuckD 1:59 PM  

@Frantic - +1 for having both nuns and brothers trying to force the evil left out of me. My father told them to go scratch - but I always thought they held it against me.

Z 2:25 PM  

@bocamp - Good poets borrow. Great poets steal. But no plagiarist am I. The wasting of precious nanoseconds was something I borrowed from @M&A.

That leftness is sinister* has been long been recognized. πŸ˜‰
More seriously, I think the world is so skewed to right-handers that it actually has an impact on life-expectancy.

Ooh, protecting the rights of those victimized by bigotry. How radical of Biden. If you’re interested in getting some information from a better place than the comments of crossword blog, here’s a good resource that is fairly concise.


oisk17 2:35 PM  

***Avoided watching the amoeboid inauguration....

Finished this one, but found it to be an awful slog, with some NASty crosses, (like sick= rad), wonder if others put in Pele before Hamm, (I didn't, but THOUGHT of Pele first...) As someone else opined "Rap had a golden age?"

*** Just being ornery; I wish Biden well. But (and I have said this before), can't a Crossword blog be a refuge from political comment ? Or from objections to an answer (NAS) because he is/was a misogynist? Do we need to evaluate the "worthiness" of every name that appears in the puzzle? Arafat appeared a little while ago.. I didn't mind...

CDilly52 2:53 PM  

@John X 4:13. And poor Bill was looking mighty frail last night!

CDilly52 2:57 PM  

@Lobster11 6:53. Best laugh of the morning! I have two driving pet peeves in my state, drivers who cannot seem to locate or understand the TURN SIGNAL and the penchant- nay- frequent Driver’s Ed instruction to put on the brakes just as you need to be accelerating to merge onto the interstate!!! Such is life.

A 2:57 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
SRC 3:04 PM  

@MBC, et al

It isn’t the purpose of this comments section, so I will leave it at this, and merely say if your point is to distance your assertion from reactionary anti-trans talking points and sentiments Kathleen Stock should be the last person you are calling upon.

bocamp 3:10 PM  

@Z 2:25 PM

Well, hats off to @M&A., then; I love "not wasting precious nanoseconds"! :)

Didn't know that about "sinister"; wow, the stuff I learn here. πŸ€”

@oisk17 2:35 PM

Hands up for "Pele" before "Hamm"; certainly contributed to my woes in the NW. :(

Peace Tolerance Kindness Togetherness πŸ•Š

Joaquin 3:29 PM  

This puzzle reminds me to remind all of you that as we head into the dead of winter, it's time to top off or change your blinker fluid.

Smith 3:38 PM  

@ whatsername 10:38 and anyone else interested in saying good bye...check out the following (cut & paste, since I don't know how to make it a link on blogger)

Crimson Devil 3:42 PM  

Kudos to poet Amanda. And to FAUCI (needs to work on opening day pitch) and CDC, perhaps no longer to be be treated as junior advisory board. Enjoyed BIG APPLE and TAXIS/JULIUS.

Anonymous 3:43 PM  

@Z @ 2:25. I was taught that "sinister" was Latin for left hand and "dexter" for right hand. Since about 85% of people are right-handed it gave the following advantage to left-handers. When you approached someone strange we shake hands right handedly to show we don't have a sword in our hand. A lefty could come close with his sword behind him, grab you sword hand,and stab you without warning, hence the implication of sinister.

A 3:43 PM  

Happy Very happy I didn’t finish the COGNAC Day!

Ohhhhh, I get it now - the TURN ‘SIGNAL’ is the letter in the circle. Cool! But how did that go unSEEN? I blame the champagne. Never drink and drive.

At first I followed a BAD detour, 'thinking' each circle might contain multiple letters. "Choose randomly.." could be CASTANET, right? Not so much. Time to double back.

Once again en route, I made the TURNs by PURE CHANCE and loved how the straightaways were not just dead ends, but in the fog I missed the road signs. Pay closer attention next time!

I did see the warning brackets [Make it quick!] and the brain said, “hey, that means it’s not spoken,” but I failed to yield and in went StAt. Without NAS or PISMO, my engine DIED and my long car trip to SITKA came to a halt somewhere in the frozen north.

TURN SIGNALS must be optional equipment in Mississippi. Drivers who don’t use them are a pet peeve, particularly the obliviots - “I always turn here - doesn’t everyone know where I’m going?”

Anonymous 3:49 PM  

In late antiquity some Romans worshiped "gods of the left"--these were not gods of the political left but gods literally on the left direction. Some Church Fathers (e.g. Arnobius of Sicca, flor. ca. 300), among arguments that all the Roman gods were stupid, not just wrong but illogical, tried to point out that if you faced in the opposite direction the gods would now become "gods of the right."

Anyway, here's a little Hoosier lore:

A cop pulls over a truck driver, goes up to the driver.

Cop: Sorry, but I'm going to have to impound your truck. You signaled a turn.

Driver: That's impossible. If it did happen it is because I am so drunk I fell over on the turn signal.

Cop: I've heard that one before.

Anon. i.e. Poggius
(Actually, this isn't Hoosier lore: I made it up. I've been trying to pass it off as Hoosier lore. I've been saying that when the driver told the story all his friends berated him for not disconnecting the turn signal when he bought the truck.)

JC66 3:54 PM  


email me & I'll send you my Embedding Cheat Sheet.

RooMonster 4:08 PM  

@mathgent 10:24
C'mon, man, I thought you'd post the answer by now. Don't leave me hanging! My answer, Liar. But I'd like to see the long version.

@Joaquin 3:29
Are you a mechanic? πŸ˜‚

RooMonster Also Check Your Johnson Rod Periodically Guy

Nancy 4:18 PM  

@Anon (3:43) -- How perfectly silly and naive of all those "sinister" word-coining people! And of all those hand-shaking people! What a false sense of security they have in the presence of right-handed people.

Take me, for example. My right-handedness is so completely dominant that I can't do anything at all with my left hand -- including brushing my teeth. Fuhgeddabout eating or playing tennis or sewing or writing with my left hand.

But, Anon 3:43, I bet I'd have no trouble at all taking a knife or even a sword and using my left hand to plunge it quite convincingly into someone. It doesn't require anything in the way of physical coordination or the control of small-twitch muscles or anything like that. In other words, it doesn't require any special dexterity (pun intended.)

Fair warning, everyone, the next time I shake hands with you:)

Anonymous 4:50 PM  

In medicine, the right eye is signified O.D. and the left is O.S. oculus dextrus and occulus sinister.

pabloinnh 5:05 PM  

@sinister types--

I'm one of those bats left/ throws right guys and does stuff pretty well left-handed.

However- I have a friend who describes himself as "ambisinistous" which he describes as "being equally clumsy with both hands". Funny how all us righties got dexterity et al.

Whatsername 5:06 PM  

@Dan: (12:33) Always an honor and pleasure to have a constructor in our midst. Seeing Dr. FAUCI made me happy too. Just think, it might’ve been an even bigger nightmare without him.

@Smith (3:38) Thanks! A friend had shared that video with me earlier. How on earth did they DO that??

Jimmy Kimmel Goodbye

Anonymous 5:08 PM  

This was a dog's dinner of a puzzle, and 1,000% NOT worth my time.

Singmaster 5:13 PM  

If you read 22a all the way it is IM ALONE, which could be a cry from a survivor.
If you read 10d all the way down, it is EVIL EYE, which one could associate with the devil.
Wouldn't it have been more interesting if the answers could have turned AND continued straight OR gone in the other direction as well.

chinch 5:42 PM  

Glad you checked in with us from the inaugural, JOHN X.

Joaquin 6:22 PM  

@pabloinnh - Like your friend, I have for years described myself as "ambisinistrous". I write right, throw left, bat right, and kick left. And I don't do any of 'em worth a damn! The only benefit is that I often get to throw out the word "ambisinistrous" and sound more erudite than I actually am.

chinch 6:32 PM  

Thanks for stopping by, @Dan M!

Anonymous 7:46 PM  

“How exactly would one clue I'M ALONE?” [okanager 12:48 A.M.]

Well, you could always go with Ambrose Bierce’s definition of “alone” -- in bad company.

pabloinnh 7:50 PM  

@joaquin-Thanks for the info. I will tell my friend that he is not all alone in this big wide world.

Bruce Fieggen 10:00 PM  

Until you drive in Australia and then you’ll spend half your time operating your windshield wipers.

ulysses 10:52 PM  

Maybe I am dense but the problem I had with this puzzle was that some rights were lefts. For example, boredom turns left from the R. I understand that if I flip my paper around it a right but looking straight at the puzzle, the EDOM head left from the R. This is a problem for me and my brain. I finished the puzzle but felt that this was an error in construction.

John Hoffman 11:00 PM  

I liked the theme! I didn’t mind the orphan words. But I thought there was a lot of really strange fill: HABIB, AMARO, BADTAKES. I lose interest in doing crossword puzzles when there are too many words that I’ve never heard of before.

albatross shell 11:07 PM  

Thanks for stopping by. I agree that the orphan words are not sufficient reason to forbid a good puzzle theme from publication. Just imagine at one time someone put 2 letters in a box. Imagine what tat could lead to.
At my house looking at the picture while doing a jigsaw was like using Google at a crossword tournament. Banned from the table. You could of course look at it when purchasing or opening the box, but after that the box was upside down ad away from the table.

I actually enjoyed ARENTI because it was so precisely, but not obviously, clued.

I am left-handed. I think rightness are right-privleged. They have no idea how much the word is designed for them. Power tools to butter knives to work spaces to desks to writing. And in those rare occasions they have to do something backwards they are so surprised. It easy for me to understand white privilege. Where is it? It's in the air. What's there? I do not see it. Do you see the air? It's in the air.

Worse, I was taught to bat right handed. Only lefty pitchers would bat right-handed. Protect their throwing arm. I kick right legged, perhaps from having Legg-Perthes disease. Don't know.

Knew SITKA from John Straley mystery novels. Good stuff. He has the heart of a poet.

I had a DNF. Did not get the theme. It was staring me in the face. I knew what the answers were, I just didn't see them.

I put asAP but had a niggle. Should have been in quotes, not brackets. So when it became SNAP I was happy.

Does salve help an eye twitch? Is that worth two niggles? Is a side eye a half-niggle?

Gabe Tuerk 5:25 AM  

I love that you use the phrase / connotation that something dissonant causes eye twitching.

Declanmcman 7:46 AM  

@anna Lucia, gasp! Trans people could be in your bathroom too!

Anniemac 8:27 AM  

This was simply not fun. Some clues were good, but overall it just felt forced. I love working a difficult puzzle, but it should be clever — and make sense. Which, at least for me, means having no unexplained/clueless/contrived words loitering about.

Migwell 10:22 PM  

In addition to all the issues with the theme and fill, I had some issues with certain clues not following NYT conventions. For example ODED ON should have been clued with an abbreviation since OD is a shortening of "overdose". Conversely, PISMO was clued with an abbreviation ("Calif."), but isn't abbreviated at all. How confusing!

In addition, the clue for 16D was "Dated" and the answer was SEEN, but you can't substitute one for another in a sentence: "I dated her" → "I seen her"??? If the clue is "Dated", the answer should be "WAS SEEING".

spacecraft 10:16 AM  

DNF: bah! The NW is unsolvable. And I'm not talking about the TURNSIGNAL thing; that part was easy. But 1a? 13a? 2d? 3d? Huh??????????????

The term BADTAKES is new to me, vis-a-vis the clue. This section just had to be reworked. I await a puzzle that gives more than a PURECHANCE for a solution.

rondo 1:05 PM  

Exactly what @spacey said. Word for word.

Burma Shave 2:29 PM  


MR.PEANUT was a MODERNIST, a BIPED with NO pants,


leftcoaster 3:42 PM  

The NW closed the door on me early. The gimmick and cluing weren’t much help either. Line me up behind spacey, rondo, and anyone else who comes along.

thefogman 4:12 PM  

Tricky at first to decode the gimmick, but after that it was a SNAP. Nicce to see the SCIENTIST FAUCI outlasted the EVILONE.

Diana, LIW 5:01 PM  

In order for a Thursday trick to be fun to suss out, you need to know some of the answers. When you begin with 1A, and then 2D still makes no sense, and on and on. Blah.

What @Spacey said. And @Rondo.

Diana, LIW, you know what I mean?

leftcoaster 5:52 PM  

If someone SNAPped their fingers at me as an order to “Make it quick”, I’d promptly tell them to go to hell.

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