Flavorers in Italian cookery / WED 1-13-21 / Oof, that was bad / Leader in a kaffiyeh / Make an effort to get swole

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Constructor: Matthew Stock

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium (untimed)

THEME: NBA movies — movies clued as if they had something to do with NBA players:

Theme answers:
  • "THE KING'S SPEECH" (20A: Address by a Sacramento N.B.A. player?)
  • "THE PELICAN BRIEF" (35A: Game notes for a New Orleans N.B.A. player?)
  • "THE GREEN HORNET" (46A: Charlotte N.B.A. player in charge of recycling?)
Word of the Day: RPGS (49D: Dungeons & Dragons and others, for short) —
role-playing game (sometimes spelled roleplaying game; abbreviated RPG) is a game in which players assume the roles of characters in a fictional setting. Players take responsibility for acting out these roles within a narrative, either through literal acting, or through a process of structured decision-making regarding character development. Actions taken within many games succeed or fail according to a formal system of rules and guidelines. (wikipedia)
• • •

This one feels pretty thin. Not sure what the NBA has to do with movies, but weirder combos have been the basis of puzzles, so fine, let's accept the premise. Still, several problems. Mostly, it's just dull. These aren't terribly funny clues or interesting movie titles, and "THE GREEN HORNET" isn't even best known as a movie (it became well known as a radio show, running for 15+ years, and then spawned a series of movies none of you have seen, as well as an iconic if short-lived TV show, which some of you undoubtedly have seen). The 2011 movie did big business, but it has like zero cultural shelf life. It seems out of place here on many levels. Further, seems really weird to put this theme in a 15x15 with just three answers. If you (I) can instantly think of a better movie and better answer than any of the ones in the grid ("RAGING BULL"), then maybe the theme isn't being expressed ... as well as it might. You really couldn't do anything with SUN? ROCKET? WARRIOR? I mean ... "UNCLE BUCK"? No? The theme ends up feeling anemic and lackluster and just ... not ready for prime time. Doesn't help that it's totally outshone by the long Downs (specifically HIT THE WEIGHTS and CUTE AS A BUTTON). 

ERBE, oof (48D: Flavorers in Italian cookery). That is ... something. I have no idea why ERBE > ERSE here. I'm no ERSE fan, but it's recognizable at least. Why would you try to get cute with the worst little bit of fill in the grid? Just accept that it's bad, keep its badness commonplace, and move on. But ERBE? YEESH. Nothing else in the grid is particularly IRKsome. Only trouble I had was totally self-inflicted. Wanted EXPO at 1A: Fair (JUST), and then when that was clearly wrong ... I don't know, I got turned around. Put in JEST at 1D: Not be serious and then crossed it with JAKE (doesn't JAKE mean "Fair," as in "on the level"? ... looks like it means "all right," "fine"). Anyway, once I had JAKE in there, my brain weirdly switched to thinking the 1D clue was the 1A clue, and so I ended up crossing JEST with ... JEST :( Wasn't til I reviewed the grid that I saw ETAH sitting there and thought, "well that can't be right" (2D: Home of the Anasazi State Park Museum) (UTAH). That's all. There's definitely a theme *concept* here, but the expression is ... a little wide of the mark.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld 

P.S. here's an interesting little article at merriam-webster.com on the meaning of "swole" (18D: Make an effort to get swole), which I expect to see more and more as a five-letter answer in the coming years

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Lewis 6:17 AM  

I coursed through this like a diminutive point guard weaving through the bigs to lay it in. But afterward, as I perused the grid, there were sparkles of treasure:
• Mini theme of double E’s (10!).
• UNCLE to complement TIA
• CACTI sharing the grid with PRICK
• The ETHER / ORS crossing

If you see the theme as three-word movie titles starting with THE and including an NBA team, I think it’s mighty tighty – at least I couldn’t think of additional themers. And it was fun trying to come up with the other theme answers after getting the first, with as few crosses as possible.

Fun plus treasure equals happy-solve. Thank you for this, Matthew!

Joaquin 6:22 AM  

I’m writing this BULL in the HEAT of the moment and I hope nobody feels PISTON by my remarks, but … this puzzle caused THUNDER in my KNICKers.

Loren Muse Smith 6:24 AM  

It took me a minute to appreciate the theme. Hard to pay attention to the grid when the news is so full of YEESH.

So at first I noticed only that the theme phrases began with THE (hi @Lewis). Then I saw that they were all movies . Nice!

Rex – I’ll see your ERBE and raise you a SCHIST.

I’ve said, before, my sister has a TESLA, and you can program it so that the blinkers sound like farts. What a terrific idea. No wonder Musk is worth over 200 billion dollars. Can you imagine having that much money? I think if I woke up and noticed that I had 200 billion dollars, I’d hire a full-time housekeeper who would change my sheets every morning and sometimes even after a nap because I read that Jackie O had that, and I have always been jealous. Not much in life better than clean, pristine, scrunched-up-free sheets.

Ok. So another story that bears repeating today: that Rolex rival. The owner of the place where we go dogsledding, Paul Schurke, was part of an expedition whose aim was to get to the North Pole “unsupported” -no supplies being sent to them as they made their way. They used a sextant for navigation (which relies on knowing the time of day), so it was a good thing that Rolex sponsored the trip and that they were all given Rolexes before they left. Paul said that the night before departure, he was picking up a few items in a drugstore and for some reason threw a Timex into his cart. Well. Turns out that as the temperatures got colder and colder, the Rolexes all stopped working. That inexpensive little Timex led them to the North Pole.

I kept going back and squinting at CUTE AS A BUTTON. Weird expression. Down in that google rabbit hole, I read that some think that the button is maybe a bud, or flower. Others say that the cute is short for acute and that the button is like a pustule, so the phrase is in the spirit of That’s as funny as a crutch or some such. I lost interest after a while.

Love the word “swole.” This happens to me about twice a year when I decide that indeed I should drink 46 glasses of water every day or whatever. I do it long enough to shock the system into retaining all that water so that I blow up like a tick. On Prednisone. Then I gradually forget and shrivel up back to normal.

Rex – you’re right – that Merriam Webster was interesting. I enjoyed the portmanteaux that are popping up: swelfie, swoldier, swolemate. I’ll put out there, then, that not returning the WEIGHTS to their rack is a big swolecism.

Joaquin 6:32 AM  

@LMS - I must have a nicely toned rear end as many folks refer to me as "that assswole".

Rug Crazy 6:43 AM  

I didn't care for this, either

Conrad 6:44 AM  

Perhaps the constructor or editor decided that ERBE > ERSE because IBIS > ISIS?

Charles Flaster 6:45 AM  

Loved it from the jump.
Basketball ( not NBA ) is still enjoyable but not like them old days. Same can be said about movies. Put them together and we have a grand theme. All three were cleverly done.
Thanks MS

SouthsideJohnny 6:48 AM  

The long downs were a nice change of pace, and a neat clue for USHER. The constructor got lucky when he finished the entire grid, had a random set of letters at the end (ERBE) but was able to scour the globe to discover that there was in fact a language that it actually means something in. So they just left it (which is kind of weird because it seems like it would take a whole 30 seconds to fix up that mini-section). Maybe Shortz wouldn’t allow them to run a puzzle without an ERBE which is the unanimous choice for today’s dreaded made-up-word-of-the-day.

amyyanni 7:03 AM  

Lewis describing himself as a diminutive point guard made me think of Dr. Fauchi so I am smiling. My brother was a Green Hornet radio fan. He maintained radio is superior to TV b/c you have to use more of your mind and visualize the audio. Enjoyed the GLEE clue; admitted Gleek here.

Hungry Mother 7:22 AM  

Quick and easy today. I guess I saw the theme in passing.

ChuckD 7:32 AM  

Liked this one - but I could see the appeal being a narrow band. Could have used another themer or two but the long downs were solid. Quick interest in the adjacent DECKS - PRICK and the corner crossings JUST x JEST and TEEM x SEEM.

My grandmother would make her té alle ERBE everyday with herbs from her garden.

Frantic Sloth 7:50 AM  

Oh, goody. An NBA cum movie title tribute punzle. YEESH.

Pretty dull for me, but it's a crossword puzzle, so I did it.
Easy, basic, and nothing to write home about... so I won't.

Idle Ponderment: Speaking of breakfast testing...(SAY)CHEESE THICK comes awfully close to sounding like an unflattering epithet I know.


pabloinnh 7:56 AM  

Today's tiny triumph was putting in CUTEASABUTTON off the C. Looking back, I didn't really need the C.

Maybe The Jazz Singer is so old that our constructor had not heard of it. Pity, because I still think that The Utah Jazz is one of our most incongruous pro team names, and yes, I know they moved from NOLA> I remember years ago when some pro team wanted to relocate to Toronto and become the Toronto Toros, about which someone commented, that would be great, sort of like the Mexico City Canucks.

Otherwise, YEESH is a great word and SCHIST has high adolescent male giggle value, so some fun there. Plus I learned ERBE, the first, and probably the last time I will encounter it.

Nice Wednesdaycito, MS. As a current NOLA player might say, it filled the bill.

Andrea 7:58 AM  

I loooove your stories! Your students must love you 😍

JJK 8:02 AM  

I disliked this a lot because, ugh, obscure basketball teams! Obscure to me, anyway, since I just don’t follow sports and I can’t stand these puzzles that are TEEMing with them. And other annoyances. Haven’t really heard of swole-ness. Initially put in downspout for DRAINPIPE and like it a lot better. CUTEASABUTTON was the easiest long answer for me because it’s a familiar old-fashioned phrase and I’m old. (i’m about to turn 65 and my husband tells me that makes me officially old. That’s ok, I’m just doing my best to age gracefully.)

mmorgan 8:06 AM  

Puzzle was pretty okay but sports teams? No thanks.

Edward 8:08 AM  

My wife came up with UNCLE BUCK immediately, as did I with RAGING BULL. It didn't take long to come up with EMPIRE OF THE SUN, HUDSON HAWK, DAYS OF THUNDER, ALL THAT JAZZ, MAVERICK (just MAVERICK), MAGIC (just MAGIC), and BODY HEAT. Still kind of a meh puzzle.

Z 8:11 AM  

A two-for-one PPP special. Insert predictable ZRant here (that’s “Pop Culture, Product names and other Proper nouns”).

Like @ Muse I stared at the SCHIST in my puzzle and tried to pop it. After a multi-nanosecond side eye I decided that it must be related to SCHISm and declared my puzzle done. Who knew rocks falls happened because of religious disagreements.

I agree with Rex, the stars of this puzzle were the non-themer long downs. Unlike Rex and @SouthsideJohnny, ERBE got a Rye smile here. Specifically, “don’t be a ERBE” is a common DISS in sports hot take circles, so was Italiany appropriate today.

@Joaquin 6:32 - 🤣🤣🤣
@LMS - swolecism - 🤣🤣 -(this was the 🤣🤣🤣 pun until @Joaquin came along)

El Gran Jugador 8:21 AM  

Agreed about “jake”.

“Just keep your nose clean and everything will be jake.” - Raymond Chandler, “the Big Sleep”

Nar Cissus 8:23 AM  

Clue word for 18D used in a sentence:

"Gettin swole so I can stop the steal, bro."

Sixthstone 8:46 AM  

My fastest Wednesday ever and pretty fun at that. The end.

TJS 8:49 AM  

So "kidney stone" throws Rex into a tizzy, but he has no problem throwing a gratuitous "Public Enemy" in our face. What a strange dude.

Are those things really "winks"? Pretty sure there's some other thing that looks alot more like a wink, not that I would know how to do it.

Was our language in desperate need of "swole" ?

bocamp 9:00 AM  

Thank you, @Matthew; liked the NBA theme. :)

Easy solve; very much on my wavelength.

"Minored" in social work and alcohol studies. Took a fencing class at CC.

"Adele" ~ Rolling in the Deep

np -4

Peace Tolerance Kindness Togetherness 🕊

Birchbark 9:04 AM  

O swole mio.

ASTRO next to ETHER, in addition to the couplets @Lewis (6:17) mentions.

Z 9:05 AM  

@LMS and others - Related to the sports hero discussion, do not be impressed by Elon Musk. He made his money the old fashioned way, he inherited it. Then he took his advantage to leverage the actual creative types out of their companies. He’s the prototypical man born on third base who thinks he hits a triple (and then complains about his father... which, who knows, may or may not be entirely fair but evidence suggests the old man may be even worse). He’s also an inveterate liar, making it particularly difficult to sort out truth from fiction. He spends an inordinate amount of time on his image and selling that image. Meanwhile, the really nasty stuff about his personal behavior gets hidden by all the glitz. There’s a reason he’s been divorced 3 times. If the people closest to you are constantly saying “nah, bro, I’m better off without you” it just might be a sign.

***AVCX Spoilers***
It’s a bit unfair to compare because the AVCX went with a 17x17 grid, but it is interesting that two team name based themes appear on the same day. The AVCX is a little too sports trivia centric, but the constructor’s day job is as a sports reporter. What he does to take the theme set and introduce wordplay is nice. However, I think people not into pro sports might not enjoy the puzzle all that much (or even get one element in the clues). By combining the NBA with movies the NYTX has broader appeal, but the AVCX is a fundamentally better puzzle limited by its sports niche. Interesting trade-offs.

Nancy 9:19 AM  

You might think I would have hated this -- using, as it did, proper names in two ways: the titles of movies and the names of NBA teams. But actually, I didn't mind it at all. And that's because the movie titles were very familiar, even if the basketball teams were surprisingly...surprising. I knew there were KINGS in Sacramento, but not that there were PELICANs in New Orleans and HORNETs in Charlotte.

Sorry, @mathgent. These will all be slam-dunks (pun intended) for you, I imagine. But understand that I'm much better on pro football. For me, New Orleans is, and will always be, the Saints.

Of the three movies, I've seen and enjoyed two of them. The third, THE GREEN HORNET is a very familiar title -- even though it's a thoroughly un-Nancy movie.

The rest of the fill was fine, if not exciting. My favorites were the way ASHES and MINORED IN were clued. MINORED IN never occurred to me. "Studied secondarily" sounded like what you studied after you played two sets of tennis, took a hot bath, did the crossword, had some wine and met your friends at a nice restaurant.

RooMonster 9:20 AM  

Hey All !
ROFLMAO!!!! Now, that was funny! I literally (yes, using it correctly here!) laughed out loud for a good 10 seconds. Which for laughing, is a long time.

Anyway, does anyone remember when 3 or 4 themers were the norm? Now Rex gets disappointed when the theme is "thin", and yet rails on puzs with lots of themers. Having his cake and eating it to. I like lots of themers, but I still like this one, as it opened the grid up, and how many more THE(BASKETBALL)MOVIE themers do we need?

Liked @pablo's suggestion of THE JAZZ SINGER. Able to be funnily clued, too. (Sure, funnily is a word!)

I did like this puz, as most puzs. Only the rare one I don't like. Not sure if it's the mood I wake up with, or something else. Or maybe it's like the frog that gets put in water, which slowly heats up till it boils to death. We are slowly getting used to mediocre puzs? Just a thought. Discuss.

I have a GREEN HORNET. It's a 1907 AMC Hornet, four door, GREEN. The engine/carburation kept getting messed up, must've went through about 5 different carburetors, and still wouldn't stay running. Finally, the last time it quit, I said, "Screw it!" and parked it in my back yard. There it sits with four flat tires. Eventually I'll do something with it.

Not a Basketball fan, now if a Football Movie puz came around, I'd be in for that. Speaking of Football, how many people want the Saints to win, so Tom Brady does NOT win. *Raises Both hands* (Although he is a [tough to say] great player, I don't like him, and am quite frankly sick of seeing him). And he wants to play for two more years. YEESH.

That Brady-bashing aside, an overall nice puz. Decent fill. How about ERTE/ITIS for that ERBE/IBIS?

Two F's

tea73 9:24 AM  

I was slowed down by my utter lack of interest in anything basketball, luckily I knew all the movies. I thought the theme was fun and nicely executed.

And now I finally know what SWOLE means! I'd heard the word, but was too lazy to look it up before.

Anonymous 9:24 AM  

can someone explain usher for this puzzle?

Z 9:39 AM  

@Anon9:24 - An USHER might seat a group of two or a group of four, so the USHER is a “two-seater” or a “four-seater.” Yes, I had sedan first.

@Rü - 1907 AMC HORNET? Nice trick. #typoshappen

Sir Hillary 9:41 AM  

YEESH -- yesterday, ISIAH Thomas; today, NBA theme. OKNOW (said me never).

Sorry, but you gotta have more than three themers in this puzzle. THEWIZARDOFOZ, EMPIREOFTHESUN, PRACTICALMAGIC, RAGINGBULL, DAYSOFTHUNDER, BODYHEAT, HUDSONHAWK -- this is way too easy. Hell, STEPH Curry is sitting right there, and he's so good in away games he could be called THEROADWARRIOR. And he's symmetrical to what might have been UNCLEBUCK.

The fill is quite good. The long entries are excellent (especially HITTHEWEIGHTS), and only ERBE had me scrunching my nose in the least. But I would have lived with lower-quality fill if additional themers had imposed more grid constraints.

Anonymous 9:44 AM  

Only if it’s “swole”.

CDilly52 9:53 AM  

I look forward to your daily posts, @Frantic!
Can’t say I disagree about the “nothing to write home about” but I enjoyed it a tad more only because I learned a new word: SCHIST. Think of it legitimate utility. Pile of SCHIST, “Oh SCHIST, so much better than emeralds!”

CDilly52 10:13 AM  

Like @Leeis, (although certainly not like a point guard,) I had no difficulty getting through this one with only one slow spot and that is at SCHIST. Slowed down there for a wee bit-guess my DRAINPIPE was malfunctioning. Had to look up SCHIST and then add it to my crossword lexicon. The definition makes it sound a lot like mica but the drawings didn’t allow me to know whether the layers are at all like the translucent ones of it’s possible relative. More to learn there.

The advent of SWOLE has given me the perfect descriptor for the hours immediately after the traditional (not COVID-19 version) family Thanksgiving dinner-heck Thanksgiving day from dinner until final SWOLE coma! And in my later years, the condition often continues well into Friday due to the high sodium content of all our favorite savory delicacies! SWOLE-from my lips down to my very toes!

Overall I rather liked the solve. Speedy, not a lot of junk, and a clever enough theme. It appears to me like one of those times something pops into ones head - “Oh THE KINGS SPEECH. . . sounds like the team waxing eloquent upon winning the conference. I wonder what else Incan come up with. . . and a theme is born.

@Frantic Re your comment on my post yesterday. Oh yes indeed, I was a sloppy kid. Played outside every chance I got (and some I didn’t particularly want, but was banned due to some large project in the house that was not going to be aided by the presence of a clumsy, sloppy, “bull on the china shop” type kiddo. But what fun I had with my little poster of miscreants. And how were we to know better? We had no internet or mobile devices to keep us constantly occupied-and clean! I’ll take my childhood over the near if not actual addiction to “the device” that (in my opinion) is unhealthy. But I am old so what do I know? 😉

jae 10:20 AM  


ERBE as an Italian seasoning was a WOE, but actress Kathryn ERBE would not have been.

Basketball movies starting with THE seems fine to me, plus the grid is pretty smooth, liked it.

Whatsername 10:29 AM  

I liked this a lot and it played easy since I’m a fan of both sports and movies. No problems anywhere but did not know RPG until I came here. I skimmed the comments before posting and noticed some great ideas for other theme entries. The one I kept expecting to see was ALL THAT JAZZ. Congratulations to Matthew who just recently made his mark on the NYT crossworld with last Thursday’s memorable quad X debut.

Of the three movies mentioned, I highly recommend THE KINGS SPEECH for your must-see list. Based on the true story of King George VI who suffered from speech difficulties and was forced to reluctantly assume the throne following his brother’s abdication. It won four Oscars, but the performances of Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush alone make it worth watching.

Masked and Anonymous 10:36 AM  

NBA goes to "THE" movies. Seems ok. Plus, it has YEESH usage immunity.

staff weeject pick: Actually, this was a pretty well-behaved little litter of 10 3-letter pups. Will go with TIA, becuz then M&A gets to say … Better clue: {Partial partial??} = TIA.

On the scrappy side, we do have that bottom middle sector of ERBE+ANAIS+SCHIST. har-ibly desperate attempt to save MINOREDIN & DRAINPIPE, I reckon. This SCHIST happens, in 72-worder puzgrids.

On the Hoaxbrain McBonespurs front: M&A votes no on a second impeachment dealy. Too last year and tame. Need a whole new, imaginative category of award for this dude. … Somethin with SCHIST in it?

Thanx for the fun, Mr. Stock. Please try not to stay away so long, next time.

Masked & Anonymo3Us


JD 10:36 AM  

Colin Firth fan, the one Grisham book I read, a '60s TV show. Another easy day with any pushback quickly resolved by crosses of cool stuff I know like Drain Pipe and round ball teams that don't win championships. Alas, tomorrow will wipe the grin off my face.

Too bad it couldn't be The King's Peach, The Pelican's Briefs, and The Green Courgette. @Frantic, higher party favor (heheheh) rating there there? I still chortle when I type party favor (heh).

@Z, But who in the history of the auto world could ever be a worse human being than Henry Ford? And yet there he was in our Boomer textbooks as a hero.

Anonymous 10:46 AM  

Emoji clues ruin a puzzle. Please Stop!

mathgent 10:48 AM  

Nancy's right, movies and pro basketball are both big likes for me. Nice to see them paired up this way.

Rex says that GREENHORNET was a movie but I don't remember it. Some better movie titles were suggested here.

"Two- or four-seater maybe?" for USHER is a terrible clue. The constructor on Jeff Chen says that it was the work of the editors. And he likes it.

I watched Glee early in its run and am surprised that it put 200 songs on Billboard. They didn't have original songs, did they?

The theme was pleasing but not much else.

Adam 11:01 AM  

I've never heard anyone say "HIT THE WEIGHTS". If they hit anything, it's the GYM. Never heard of ERBE. Is it Italian for "herbs"? YEESH indeed. I enjoyed the movie/NBA mashups, never mind that one has nothing to do with another and THE GREEN HORNET was mostly known as a radio show (and it was my first car—a green 1976 AMC Hornet).

Kind of weak for a Weds—and I agree that the long Downs outshone the rest of the puzzle. But it was a nice diversion for a few minutes.

RooMonster 11:04 AM  

Har @Z, an early failed Ford model?
"Hey, let's name it the Hornet!" said someone to Henry Ford.
"Nah, it looks T-ish, let's just call it the Model T."
/End scene.

Strange that later Fords were Model A's.

Of course, it's a 1970 Hornet. First year, BTW. With the 232 6. SST model. Fancy. Har.

RooMonster Typo Guy

sixtyni yogini 11:18 AM  

Fast but not fun.
Not the fault of anyone but me, but I really hate puzzles that feature team names and players.
(Haha bc I don’t know any 😂)
As always good, acute critique by Rex.

jb129 11:19 AM  

Sorry - I hated this puzzle.

Frantic Sloth 11:27 AM  

For some reason, I was able to pull SCHIST out of my @Joaquin (or derrière), but the road trip (really a toad rip) was ugly:

1. Vague recollection
2. Part "gneiss", part "schism"?
3. SCHEiss? Doesn't fit and...that other thing
4. Oh!! It's DRAINPIPE - Not DownsPout! [thinking...]Well, that's no help.
5. Assume NEST
6. Guess IBIS

It's the remedial class version of a word ladder.

Also, ERBE?? I like @JD's idea of "THE KINGS PEaCH"...makes it a "go-with": PEaCHes and ERBE. Yes. I think I can get behind that, missy -- up the party favors!

@CDilly52 1013am We'd better never meet because I think we lived the same lives in parallel universes. Well, up to a point - you've obviously become a mature and responsible adult. It might actually be safe enough now to not destroy both "realities".

Anonymous 11:29 AM  


*Erbe* usually just means grass in Italian (singular *erba*), though it can mean herbs. Since it is now in a crossword puzzle, it reminds me of a favorite Italian cross-word puzzle trivia definition, for an ill-named piazza. In the famous Piazza delle Erbe in Verona there is not a blade of grass. There's another one it's paired with (I've forgotten, perhaps in Padua), the Piazza del Santo, where there is no statue of a saint.

Anon. i.e. Poggius

GILL I. 11:47 AM  

Well, this was different. And now I can't get SCHIST boom bah out of my head. Or Able was I ERBE I saw Elba or A wonderful bird is the PELICAN. How does that happen?
OK...so of course I know the KINGS. And, like @whatsername, I recommend his SPEECH. Never heard of the others because I'm not into N.B.A. teams. I'll watch my home team in the heat of the night, while eating some Cubano, but that's about it.
You have my "it" girl ADELE right next to UNCLE PRICK and I do the hmmmmm dance. But then you saddle it close to CAFES along the Champs-Elysees and the GLEE smile emerges.
This CHIC will never SAY CHEESE unless it's Stilton.

bertoray 12:03 PM  

@LMS Timex watches take a licking, but they keep on ticking.

CT2Napa 12:11 PM  

clue for isis:

"It depends on what the meaning of the word _____" - Bill Clinton

Anoa Bob 12:26 PM  

Kept looking for something else that would connect the themers other than NBA team names also found in the titles of movies, maybe something like all the team names were also animals, what with PELICAN and HORNET, but KINGS ruled that out.

Thought I knew my rocks but was thrown by the clue at 49 Down "Coarse grain rock that splits easily". Did a "huh" when SCHIST finally emerged. I thought SCHIST was "an extremely strong and durable rock type", as described in this guide to NYC's J. Hood Wright Park. In fact, the famous NYC skyline is possible only because Manhattan has a robust underlying layer of SCHIST rock. It's even called Manhattan SCHIST.

Got a DNF at the G in the answer to 49D "Dungeons & Dragons and others, for short". Never played the game (and I've never seen or even heard of the TV show GLEE) so that G was my downfall. Okay RPGS. How is D & D and others Rocket Propelled GrenadeS?

The grid fill got a boost from four of the two-POCs-with-one-S helper/cheater squares, where a Down and an Across share a final S square, such as with 31D CAFE and 43A STAKE. Those shared Ss add little or nothing to the puzzle and could just as easily be black squares. Does pointing out these little peccadillos make me a PRICK? Don't answer that!

egsforbreakfast 12:29 PM  

I enjoyed this, but had a Monday-ish time, so I didn’t enjoy it for too long.

How about The Wizards of Oz? The Suns also Rise? I’m not serious, SWOLEly trying to amuse.

Z 12:41 PM  

Big big BIG crossworld ornithology news.

Anonymous 12:51 PM  

I knew Rex was going to hate this since he hates most everything, but I loved this puzzle and theme! Why does Rex like to suck the joy out of puzzle solving. His diatribe about kidney stone yesterday? Most clever answer to the puzzle's theme.

Has anyone noticed Rex really only likes puzzles he can solve quickly? Whenever there's a glitch in his solve (like today, since he said he did it "untimed"), or yesterday (since it took him 4 min to solve a Tuesday puzzle, which he apologized for since it was "oversized"), he hates the puzzle.

I really enjoy much more the guest commentators, since they are all uniformly much more positive and happy about the puzzles. Rex, take a break and farm out the commentary for a while. You sound burnt out!

Teedmn 1:00 PM  

I'm with @Frantic Sloth 7:50 - Basketball is one big YEESH to me so I can't get too excited about this theme. Without crosses, I wouldn't have come up with any of the three team names. (Yes, I do know the name of our local Timberwolves but not because I care.) And then you have the bonus STEPH answer. Surely there must have been some player of note named TODD, yes?

It was convenient that CUTE AS A BUg's ear, although it didn't fit, had that BU in common with BUTTON.

Thanks, Matthew Stock.

Anonymous 1:12 PM  

faithful watchers of 'Science Channel' will have seen the episode(s) on glaciers, a bit of which is shot in Central Park's Manhattan Schist Outcropping. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manhattan#Bedrock

wrollinson 1:12 PM  



Z 1:33 PM  

@Anoa Bob - Here’s more about manhattan SCHIST and how it impacts where NYC’s skyscrapers are. I was right, SCHIST does come from the same Greek origin as SCHISm. As for the durable/easily split conundrum, that is all about orientation I suspect.

@CT2Napa - Ah, yes, when the party of racist seditionists pretended to care about presidential blow jobs. Those were the days.

@bertoray - Dude! I’d managed to purge that from the memory banks and now it’s stuck there again right next to plop plop fizz fizz.

(btw - great news)

@RüMonster Typo Guy - HeHe. Besides, remembering my high school choir teacher’s purple AMC Gremlin always brings a smile to my face, and your 1907 AMC Hornet reminded me of him and his car. I’m still amazed that in super conservative Holland, MI of the late 1970’s I had four more or less openly gay men as teachers. I say “more or less” because it was never discussed, but it also wasn’t particularly hidden, either.

@Adam - I wanted HIT THE gym first as I, too, think it is the more common phrase, but HIT THE WEIGHTS is definitely something I’ve heard.

@mathgent - re:GLEE - I think “back on Billboard” would have been more accurate. I still remember showing up one early Saturday morning to set up fields and discovering the WMU team already there with Journey blasting from the speakers as they sang along. These guys were all born at least a decade after the songs were first on the Billboard charts. I was befuddled until one of my teammates mentioned that Journey was big on GLEE.

@JD - Yah. The racist anti-semitic part of the biography does get downplayed. The school district in his hometown has multiple schools named in his honor as well as an elementary school named for Charles Lindbergh. The district has several historic buildings with names of these less than fully heroic heroes literally in stone. The irony is that the student population in the district is now majority Arab-Americans.

@M&A - The big Least Tern news (see post above) made me wonder if there is any pewit news. Sadly, all I could find is that COVID has forced the closure to the public of Pewit’s Nest State Natural Area.

albatross shell 1:34 PM  

Decent theme answers, above average long downs, some clever clues, the pairs of answers @Lewis mentioned, and the IBIS sitting on her NEST in the lowlands made for a good solid puzzle. Bottom half was a little plural heavy but not too bothersome depending on one's sensitivities.

I knew SCHISM because geology is fascinating to me. ERBE an unknown but easily and correctly assumed to be herbs in italian. Not my favorite type of clue.

So glad I wasn't drinking coffee right then.

Sandwiches: Up visiting my son yesterday. We didn't eat (covid situation), so coming coming home the only drive thru was McD's. So I tried a McRib to test the reviews here. I think most dogs would wolf it down. Nothing like a boot sole because of it's re-fabricated tenderness. Maybe a ree-fabricared leather sole? It is tasteless which I guess is why they drown it in their BBQ sauce.

On grilled cheese: Yes I do like more expensive real cheeses, but on cheesesteaks and grilled cheese I am never disappointed with Velveeta. James Beard called it one of his guilty pleasures. He had a few too many of them, but that's a different story. And maybe he was BS-ing or getting paid.

ACLU 1:42 PM  

Wanted 1st Amendment for 29-A but it didn’t fit.

CDilly52 1:54 PM  

@Frantic-ROFL!!!! I know few folks who would state under oath that my true persona is anything close to “mature and responsible adult,” but they might say “she plays that pretty well in her lawyer character.” And I agree that we may have been separated at birth somewhere in a parallel universe.

CDilly52 1:59 PM  

@Gill 11:47 am - I am having the same difficulty with the “wonderful bird, the Pelican.” An ear worm that seems to have stuck for the day!

Smith 2:02 PM  

@JJK 8:02

✋ for thinking downspout, but knowing that one of the terms is a regionalism [ahem] waited for crosses before deciding.

Smith 2:09 PM  


Z 2:16 PM  

@Albie - I read this review so I wouldn’t have to read the book, but your comment made me think you might be interested in the new Beard biography.

Sharonak 2:51 PM  

I agree with Lewis
and all those who liked the long downs and found some clues clever
Personally I smiled, almost chuckled, when I got 46d "text" I'd been trying to thinking it a different direction.
Texting with my thumbs is unimaginable, but I've seen people do it, hence the "oh so that's it"smile when it appeared.

albatross shell 3:01 PM  

I also read the review, not the book. My first cookbook was I believe titled The James Beard cookbook. Probably his most basic book. I think he even tells you to boil water. A very good book for beginning cooks. I wish I still had a copy. Even though I did get a copy of a later Beard cookbook that updates some of his opinions, it is just not the book I learned from. I did not know about his body image problems or about traumatic fear of being outed. His parties and appetizer tables sound pretty good.

jberg 3:28 PM  

Well, I didn't know there was an NBA team in Sacramento, didn't know The Green Hornet was a movie, and couldn't remember the NOLA team until I had a few crosses to remind me. But I knew the GH radio show, and since I didn't know the theme was movies, that was the easiest answer for me (also, for some reason I knew the Charlotte team was hornets).

Folks suggesting other theme answers, go back and look at @Lewis's first comment -- they have to start with THE, so only The Jazz Singer would work.

On the other hand, I got SCHIST right off -- used to spend time looking for fossils, petrified wood, and the like when I went to Montana, so I came to know a lot of rock names. I think I even have a rock hammer tucked away someplace. And I could figure out ERBE once I knew it was an Italian word -- but really, I don't think mentioning "Italian cookery" in the clue is a legit foreign-language-tipoff.

RDA, RPG, then there's ORS to keep the Rs going -- but PAC spoils that little mini-theme.

Now I have to go figure out if I can come up with all 11 Nile-drained countries withougt looking it up.

GILL I. 3:56 PM  

@Z....My favorite food critic (and I often liken him to @Rex). is Anton Ego from the movie "Ratatouille. To quote him". "I don't like food. I LOVE IT. If I don't love it, I don't SWALLOW."

Whatsername 4:27 PM  

@GILL: I missed the posts last night about your daughter, just now read them. So glad to hear it was a false alarm and hope there are no more alarms of any kind.

@JJK (8:02) I agree that downspout is a more logical answer to 54A. Because of the configuration of my sidewalk and driveway, there is a DRAIN PIPE buried in the ground where the rain empties out from the downspout. But it’s not attached to anything and most definitely not the gutter. And BTW, you’re about to turn 65? That’s not old, it’s JUST well seasoned. :-)

GILL I. 4:48 PM  

I am now doing the Rumba, the Cha Cha, the Mambo and the Salsa....All wanting to join me....I'll make USA Libres with lots of Bacardi rum.

JC66 5:05 PM  


How about the Lindy and a Martini (stirred, not shaken)?

RooMonster 5:11 PM  

@JC 66
Would that be The Triple Lindy? 😎

@Smith 2:09
My dyslexia showing up again! It's a 1970!


JC66 5:28 PM  

Hey @Roo 😂😂😂

GILL I. 5:33 PM  

@JC...You got it.....I'm not much of a gin drinker but I do have a bottle of unopened Hedrick's waiting to be stirred. I'm not much of a Lindy dancer because the legs get shaken.....but someone can hold on to me?

TTrimble 6:19 PM  

@Gill I.
Just joining the chorus to say I'm glad for your good news about your daughter. What a relief!

Stay healthy, everyone!

GILL I. 7:38 PM  

By the way...my celebratory dance today is in reference to @JD's The Kings PEACH. Just add a little "imp" to the front the line. Please join me in the Conga. Drinks on me.

JD 8:09 PM  

@Gill, I'm in your line love. And I'll have that drink (right now as a matter of fact!)

A 12:13 AM  

Happy 2nd ImPeach Day!

1981 Barbara Sonntag, Colorado, crochets record 147 stitches/minute for 1/2 hour.

Which is amazing, now that I think about it. But about as interesting as today’s puzzle. I kept looking for something else. We had a SPEECH and a BRIEF, so maybe a communications connection? Nope, unless there are homing HORNETs. That one was also an outlier in that the team name didn’t follow the THE. THE REF should’ve been all over that. Not that I’d have noticed except I couldn’t see what HORNET had to do with recycling.

Other things I didn’t know:
STEPH Curry is not a markswoman.
in 1957 Wham-O Company produced THE 1st Frisbee

@Oldactor, thank you for setting me straight Monday regarding wrap parties vs. cast parties! I glided right over “at the end of filming” and went right to my experience, which you rightly guessed is musical theater (and opera).

Best wishes to @pmdm’s friend and @GILL. I.’s daughter. Hope all turns out well!

I know, y’all are already onto tomorrow!

kitshef 11:52 AM  

Thoroughly enjoyed it, although did not note the bball part of the theme while solving. Agree that ERSE.ISIS would have been better.

thefogman 10:17 AM  

Ho hum for the same reasons Rex stated. It could have been a contender if 46A had something to do with orating like the other two themers did. But alas it did not and thus it IRKs me.

spacecraft 11:18 AM  

JUST after DOD ETTA HITTHEWEIGHTS, she looked CUTEASABUTTON. Now if only I could rhyme that, I'd rival @BS.

Enjoyable solve, with a theme that Doesn't Try To Do Too Much, and a pair of great long downs (see above). What's not to like? Birdie.

Burma Shave 11:59 AM  




rondo 2:15 PM  

Carousing Miami player: theHEATofthenight. Too long to fit but . . .

The corners have Iwo's JIMA.

Can't believe @spacey passed by Kathryn ERBE from L&O. Yeah baby.

Happily no mention of [Dances with (MN T')WOLVES]. Embarrassing.

leftcoaster 2:17 PM  

Relatively soft but a good theme, and things toughen up in approaching the SE corner.

HIT THE WEIGHTS led the weigh (sorry) into that corner. Wanted Typo before TEXT, paused at YEESH and got YEA, and EXALT was confirmed. Add the trailing LIGER and ERBE as hangers on.

CUTE AS A BUTTON is...ah, cute.

leftcoaster 2:21 PM  

Oops. SW corner, not SE.

leftcoaster 4:01 PM  

@BS --
PRICK: an essential DRAINPIPE?

Diana, LIW 4:31 PM  

Sheesh - SCHIST is new to me. That's OK - got it with the crosses. As I did the rest of the puzzle. Okie dokie.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords, and a glimpse of a LIGER...really?

Waxy in Montreal 4:11 PM  

RPG stood for Report Program Generator back in my programming days...

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