Mythical being old-style / THU 1-14-21 / Common impeachment charge / House member with 11+ million Twitter followers informally / Ancient unit of length

Thursday, January 14, 2021

Constructor: Aimee Lucido and Ella Dershowitz

Relative difficulty: Easy-Challenging (all of the "Challenging" part came from the theme squares ... which is also where much of the "Easy" came from ... it was a ride)

THEME: SPIN THE BOTTLE — the letters B, O, T, T, L, E appear clockwise in the grid, twice, inside the circled squares; in one position, the letters work for the Downs; in another position (rotated 180 degrees), the letters work for the Acrosses, i.e. you have to start BOTTLE at the top to get the Downs right, and you have to start it at the bottom to get the Acrosses. This means you have double-occupied circled squares, with the one that works for the Across making a plausible-looking (but wrong) ghost answer in the Down, and vice versa, each time. It's a lot:

Theme answers, starting from the top and going clockwise:
  • GATOR / LUBES (with GABOR / LUTES as ghost answers)
  • BLAST / CAMEO (with BOAST / CAMEL as ghost answers)
  • SEEPS / TATER (with EATER / STEPS as ghost answers)
  • CUBIT / LITRE (with CUT IT / LIBRE as ghost answers)
  • DROOL / LASES (with DROLL / OASES as ghost answers)
Word of the Day: ABOUTNESS (23D: Relevance of text, in librarian's lingo) —
The subject of a work contained in a resource, which is translated into controlled subject languages (e.g., classification schemes, subject headings lists); includes topical aspects and also genre and form. (
• • •

I adore this idea, and I think it's impressively ambitious in its execution, but it's also a bit of a mess. Expressing "spinning" is hard, and as you can see by my theme description, this puzzle's version of "spinning" isn't easy to describe succinctly, though it's pretty straightforward in the end. BOTTLE works for Acrosses in one configuration, but you've got to "spin" it 180 degrees for it to work for the Downs. And yet you need both letters in the square, which creates chaos, though the chaos comes mainly while solving. I got SPIN THE BOTTLE pretty early, and figured out the spin concept as well, but I never saw exactly how much the BOTTLE had "spun" until I was done with the puzzle. I got the first BOTTLE configuration OK (with the "B" at the top), but as I was solving, I just couldn't get a handle on where the next BOTTLE sequence stopped and finished, or even if it was going in the same direction. So every single BOTTLE square was, in practice, uncrossed, i.e. I didn't have the aid of a crossing letter (which is kind of the heart and soul of cross-words), since the crossing letter was always different. I like that the "wrong" answers also make plausible crossword answers, although it doesn't add much to the puzzle, since a. you can tell the wrong answers are wrong, i.e. they're not fooling anyone, and b. because you have to put two letters in the square, you still have a gibberish-y looking grid. So it's like the elegance of having the "wrong" answers be plausible answers is kind of lost in madness. I appreciate it on an architectural level, but I'm not sure if it was necessary. Still, why not? I don't know if solvers are going to notice / appreciate it, but careful attention to detail is never bad, even if no one sees it. So, HOORAY for this theme even if actually solving (and describing!) it turned out to be a bit of a chore. 

I am friends with many librarians and love them as a rule, but ABOUTNESS feels pretty, uh, niche-y. I don't dislike it, but the wikipedia page for it is so useless, so poorly written, that I had to look elsewhere for a solid definition related specifically to librarianness. This is why it seems pretty niche-y to me—having to go to a specialist website for a clearish definition. It's almost certainly the least heard-of thing in the grid (the only unheard-of thing, for me). It was ultimately inferrable, though ... as with the theme, my instinct is to love it, but I'm also kind of making a questioning face at it. Because it's very gettable, I think I'm pro. Certainly better than the average dreariness you might have had in its stead. Still, someone should clean up that wikipedia page.

The NW (i.e. the start) was my main trouble spot once again, as AWOL had no military indication in the clue (not faulting the clue, just explaining why AWOL didn't occur to me) (1A: Missing), and the clue on ASIA looked very specific but wasn't (17A: Home of Baikal, the world's deepest lake) (ASIA is big!), and that clue on LEAS(E) involved a massive direction using a word ("letter") that is both valid and never used by anyone in actual speech (4D: What a letter needs). What's the difference between a "letter" and a "lessor"??? Aha, turns out, zero. Zero is the difference. Car ads use "lessor" ... sigh, "letter," frowny face. Had STAS before STNS (60D: Listings on a train sched.), which is really the most awful kind of "mistake" you can make—a junky little piece of crosswordese, and you trip on it? Bah. I call my cat Olive "OLIVIA," so I like that answer (she has a tendency to DROOL (51A: Have a Pavlovian response), so more cat relevance there). I liked LOSE FACE and the "FAERIE Queene" spelling of FAERIE (22A: Mythical being, old-style). The grid is quite solid, especially given all the theme shenanigans. I did not have a bad time! Happy Thursday!

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld 

P.S. please enjoy this Fire Safety Crossword Puzzle, sent to me by one of my readers. By "enjoy," I mean ... I don't know what I mean. I mostly just marvel at the construction and then imagine horribly wrong answers:

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Conrad 6:33 AM  

The theme idea was too complex for my addled little brain. I ended up filling in the correct letter for the across or the down in each circled square, and then ignoring the crossing clue as long as I had a valid word. When I filled in the last square, the puzzle morphed, showing both letters as if I'd rebused them. I got SPIN THE BOTTLE from SPINT... and realized that the circled letters were all part of BOTTLE but the significance of the SPIN was lost on me until I came here. Nifty constructing job!!

smalltowndoc 6:42 AM  

Love this puzzle! Very clever, well-constructed and deciphering the theme is necessary to arrive at the solution.
ABOUTNESS is new to me. I don’t think I’ll be using it in a sentence in the near future.

Mini theme: ABUSE of power (common impeachment charge); POTUS; EGO; "Out, you"!

Anonymoose 6:45 AM  

Ugly. Not impressed.

BarbieBarbie 6:57 AM  

I loved this. Pure genius. An amazing construction feat that was also really fun to solve. More please!.

To fit the Down definitions, the letters in the word BOTTLE are spun 180 degrees out of phase with their Across definitions, and vice-versa. Why is that so hard to say?

ncmathsadist 7:07 AM  

The theme was just a source of confusion. One of each of the crosses appeared to have a wrong letter in it for no reason. Ugh.

Lewis 7:11 AM  

The theme is simple and elegant, and beautifully executed. “Spin the bottle” is such a common phrase, but it took Aimee and Ella to snatch it out of the ether and use it in a puzzle – props for that!

Very sly [Secreted] clue, lovely to see the FAERIE spelling, and I liked the unlikely-to-crack-a-smile STOIC sharing the grid with LOSE FACE. I see that USAIN BOLT is in lane 5 – no matter, in my mind, he’s going to win anyway. And I’m sorry, but DROOL just doesn’t belong in the same puzzle as SPIN THE BOTTLE.

This was much fun, and cracking the theme brought much satisfaction. Much gratitude, Aimee and Ella, and I hope you pair up again!

Rug Crazy 7:18 AM  

I'm with Conrad

Z 7:29 AM  

The only thing I’m dreading is people complaining about the software not accepting a correct solve.

HOORAY, I got the SPINiness early, getting SPIN THE BOTTLE and the TE/TB answers early and trusting that these constructors would spell out BOTTLE twice. In my grid the across letter is above the down letter and I had the two BOTTLEs written in before a quarter of the grid was done. I will accept that “Faster than Rex Award” from the CO-HOST, now (although he probably still took half the time I did to finish the entire grid... small victories).

Further, πŸ‘πŸ½πŸ‘πŸ½πŸ‘πŸ½πŸ‘πŸ½πŸ‘πŸ½πŸ‘πŸ½πŸ‘πŸ½ for puzzle elegance. Having essentially 24 theme answers (12 of them the unclued “ghost” answers) is just amazingly elegant. Five letter words rarely get to star in a puzzle, but they shine brightly today.

We need a pithy name for answers where you just have to wait for the cross. ESO ESa, OSO OSa, STNS STaS, tsar czar, Olaf Olav, esta esto. Having three of these in a single puzzle seems to be getting close to excessive.

Guest 7:30 AM  

Why not clue the "ghost answers" too? Seems like a huge lost opportunity, definitely something the editor should have insisted on.

ChuckD 7:34 AM  

The theme is pretty neat but the outcome here is rough. The crossings have different bottle locations which felt really odd to me. The fill itself was early week level so it was a flat solve. Couldn’t believe WASSAILS would be correct but it was - USAIN BOLT is mindless and ABOUTNESS is whatever it is.

This puzzle was bad. Best part of the process was Rex’s clip from Zen Arcade.

Frantic Sloth 7:37 AM  

I don't speak this language.

"Do I know her?" = WHO??? Did I know this? What?? What do that clue and answer even mean?

(0,0,0) = ORIGIN?? Oh, of course. Again, whaaaat??

"Common baitfish" could live in my bathtub and I still couldn't name one with a gun pointed at my head.

"Go down in respect" is such an ugly clue for LOSEFACE. I don't even want to think about what I thought about.

The theme. So I guess the circles represent the bottle that is spinning, which makes actual words in both directions using either letter. That's something of a neat trick.
But...shouldn't there be clues for all the words? It's as if the interlopers are skeletons in this grid's closet. We know they're there, but maybe nobody will notice?(Like when @Z rants about stuff.)

Otherwise, which GABOR is related to a croc? Eva? ZsaZsa? Magda?? Since they're sisters, I imagine they all are.

Bright spot: ABOUTNESS is such a freakin' bizarre word that I actually love it.

This was a real slog for me, but I'm sure there will be many who enjoyed it.
I just didn't like the clues and the words. Luckily that has nothing to do with crossword puzzles.

I just realized that my face hurts from scowling. That's never a good sign.


Z 7:38 AM  

Looks like a SchrΓΆdinger puzzle. Open the comment to discover if the solver loved the puzzle or hated the puzzle.
And am I reading @Conrad correctly? The software spoils the theme if you have a single correct letter in each circled box? That would have really pissed me off. If that’s true it’s just one more reason to be glad I solve on paper.

Anonymous 7:40 AM  

Obamas, AOC, Impeachment. Two women constructors. Loved it. A politically correct solver’s wet dream. Thanks !

Anonymous 7:47 AM  

Once I solved the themer, I began hearing the Juliana Hatfield song in my head ("Spin it round again! Spin it round again!"). Surely Rex wouldn't link to that hip but obscure tune that I dug so much in the 90s, would he? And then, HOORAY! You made an A-ONE song selection. (Trigger warning: adult themes and one cuss word.)

LaurieG in CT 7:47 AM  

Landed with a thud, for me.

Z 7:48 AM  

@Frantic Sloth - Moi? Rant? I only present cogent well seasoned arguments of the most logical kind with just a hint of Rye humor. I never “rant.” Also, (0,0,0) is a three dimensional math graphing thingie.

JennG 7:50 AM  

I got the happy solve "Congrats" without ever really understanding what was going on. I only have one letter in the theme circles, and the app accepted my "win." I had to come here to figure out why LIBRE and why molasses STEPS.

Hungry Mother 7:50 AM  

A little math, a bit of a rebus, and some fun cluing. I liked it and was faster than usual.

Lobster11 7:53 AM  

@Z said: "We need a pithy name for answers where you just have to wait for the cross. ESO ESa, OSO OSa, STNS STaS, tsar czar, Olaf Olav, esta esto." How about "coin-flipper"?

Horn E. Teen 7:59 AM  

Where's my kiss?

David Eisner 7:59 AM  

I thought this was brilliant. I loved it. Except for some initial ambiguity with the two T's, I was able to figure out that a 180 degree bottle rotation was required. The nice thing about that is that it's the same as swapping each circle with its partner directly across the center of the bottle (the punt of a wine bottle), which is easy to do in your head (unless you've emptied your bottle first ...). Group Theory for the win.

Karl Grouch 8:03 AM  

CD (Cross dependent)

pabloinnh 8:05 AM  

I put in AWOL and WASSAILS immediately and say what was going on with the "letter" clue instantly, so began the day by feeling brilliant. The obvious T in WANTS rang the Thursday alert that things are not as they seem, but what? SPINTHEBOTTLE was an obvious answer, but I had to finish the whole puzzle to see how it worked, and was not patient enough to figure out the gimmick exactly, only that the BOTTLE letters could be moved around to make the right answers. Thanks to everyone who had the patience to explain all that.

Is this a Stunt Puzzle? close enough for me, as I just like the expression Stunt Puzzle. Also put in CHUB right away, although I can't remember the last time I thought of that. Or the last time I played SPINTHEBOTTLE, which was always excruciatingly embarrassing for me, even if I had a chance to kiss a cute and willing partner. Adolescence--good bye, and don't think I miss you.

Thanks to AL and ED for A Thursday with lots of ABOUTNESS. Good stuff.

albatross shell 8:06 AM  

I'm with Lewis today except for DROOL. DROOL even as a full-tine answer would not bother me.

ATOB? A TOB? AT OB? ATO B? None of them make sense to me. Help.

Hope we are not SPINning to kiss POTUS ass goodbye.

Curry and James: power couple from Akron?

TJS 8:08 AM  

My instinct is to hate it.

GILL I. 8:08 AM  

Well I'm sad to say this got my "OOF de OOF" award. I felt like the FAERIE queen who DROOLed in her CHUB. Isn't it supposed to be chum? Just asking since the only thing I used for bait was bread on the end of some rope.
OK, so I got the SPIN THE BOTTLE thing. Then I did my usual "Oh...I remember that." thingie. My first kiss. I've told the story many a time and it was a loooong time ago. I wonder if that chubby little thing that came up to my chin and drooled on it is still sticking his fingers in the ONION DIP.
Letter? Hey honey, Letter her LEASE our house...Nah, she DROOLS too much.
And so it went. I did eventually see the BOTTLE spinning around and I wanted to be impressed. I had to stop and fold the laundry a few times. I came back to finish up and yes.....I had a few "this is clever" moments.

Joaquin 8:12 AM  

The construction of this puzzle was definitely Thursday, but (for me) the solve was more Tuesday. Or maybe Wednesday because of AWOL being in the 1A spot.

Anonymous 8:13 AM  

@smalltowndoc: One of the constructors (Ella Dershowitz) is the daughter of attorney Alan Dershowitz, who is expected to be one of the defense attorneys for Trump in his second impeachment trial.

amyyanni 8:15 AM  

Clever. Aboutness is new to me, too.

Anonymous 8:17 AM  

@Z: The phrase you're looking for is Cartesian coordinate system, named for Rene Descartes.

TTrimble 8:21 AM  

An admirable Thursday (it's Thursday, right?), and also a really good write-up by Rex. I didn't suss out the precise workings of the theme (it was late at night, I was tired, I had lots of other things on my mind) beyond the fact each of the squares with circles used one of the letters of BOTTLE in one direction and another letter in the other direction. So it was nice to have Rex explain it to me.

Now that it's been explained, my pleasure in the construction increases greatly. What is even more miraculous (and I suppose it could be confounding to some solvers) is that for each of the theme answers, either of the letters does in fact make something that is a plausible XW answer, in either direction!! For example, for 18 Across (GATOR) the other letter choice gives GABOR, which could be the last name of a different EVA. I find this truly surprising and amazing, and wonder if that's by design. Thus we have the following *quadruplets*, where the first of the four works for the across, and the last works for the down:

GATOR Gabor Lutes LUBES // WANTS Wanes Least LEASE // BLAST Boast Camel CAMEO // DROOL Droll Oases LASES // SEEPS Steps Eater TATER // CUBIT Cut it Libre LITRE.

(Clue "Libre" perhaps as French for "free", somehow, would be what I would go for.)

Anyway, terrific puzzle which I was happy to solve in a time fast for me. Lots to chew on, and just smart.

Oh, in case anyone needs the explanation: ORIGIN for (0, 0, 0) is math-y. If one is given a coordinate system for 3-dimensional space, the point with coordinates (0, 0, 0) is called the ORIGIN. It's where the three coordinate axes would intersect. It could also have been clued as (0, 0), which would pertain to the coordinate plane. You're welcome?

SouthsideJohnny 8:21 AM  

I got a chuckle out of SPIN THE BOTTLE clued as a “classic party game” - nobody ever, ever plays that as a game. Not even pre-teens at the height of their estrogen-driven WANTS and desires. Charades, yes - StB, no way.

Once again, an absolutely atrocious clue for LEASE, and sadly, once again so avoidable - any one of us could come up with two dozen THURSDAY-appropriate clues in 15 minutes.

I was also stumped by WASSAILS - which apparently is a real activity - definitely not in my wheelhouse though. Was convinced I had screwed something up there (ABOUTNESS at least sounds like a real word).

Sup51 8:24 AM  

Impressive bit of construction that produced an unenjoyable puzzle.

mmorgan 8:27 AM  

He liked it!!


Barbara S. 8:31 AM  

I liked this. Raced through in a little under half my usual time. Realized during the solve that something was afoot: the acrosses with the circled squares made sense, the downs didn’t. Then, when I was all done, figured out the trick. I thought @BarbieBarbie (6:57) put it nicely. The App accepted the correct answers for the acrosses with the ghost answers for the downs – no need for rebusing.

** ABOUTNESS example**

I had a good chuckle when I filled in ABOUTNESS. It took me back to my days as curator of an image collection in a university department of art history. Ofness and ABOUTNESS are concepts at the heart of subject indexing – maybe of a lot of things – but certainly of works of art and reproductions of them. Take as an example Dutch painting of the seventeenth century. There’s a lot of realism in these works – they don’t look particularly symbolic. There are many still lifes with flowers, fruit and other objects, and genre pieces with groups of people in interiors. A typical composition will feature a family group around a table: people eating and drinking, talking and laughing, singing and playing musical instruments, smoking, falling asleep; children down on the floor playing with the dog or holding bowls of soapy water and blowing bubbles. All of that is what the picture is *of*, i.e. what is depicted at a fairly basic level. But in most cases, what these pictures are *of* is not quite what these pictures are ABOUT. Dutch art of this period almost always contains a moralizing message, which would have been easily “read“ by educated viewers at the time. So, although the scene looks jolly at first glance, you start to notice that the mother is very likely drunk and the baby is about to fall off her lap. Or the old uncle has fallen asleep and one of his young nephews is picking his pocket. Or if you look at the paintings on the wall of the room, you’ll see they depict Biblical scenes of war, flood or famine. So, you’re getting shown the perils of excess and the need to educate the young about right and wrong, and you’re being reminded that cataclysms of various sorts might be closer than you think. A candle with a wisp of smoke above it suggests that it has recently blown out, just as every human life will one day come to an end. So, you foolish people, remember that life is brief and you must live morally upright lives while you're here. And that, from my experience, is the ongoing dialogue between ofness and ABOUTNESS.

JD 8:35 AM  

There was a lot here to love along side a lot that was just seemed off.

Construction obviously brilliant and the reveal surprising and fun. But if you're going to have two words in one space, you should clue both words, (e.g., Desire and Weaken, Slobbery and Dry). Without that while solving I'm thinking a Gabor might be another version of a Croc and you can condition someone to be Droll (actually I just thought wah? whatever and kept going).

So when I was done and the hidden words popped in, I was left looking for their relevance.

But this was fresh and original, with unknown stuff sussable through the crosses and I'm impressed.

Lmend 8:42 AM  

I’ve been a librarian for 35 years and have never even heard the term ABOUTNESS. Not in library school, not from other librarians, and not in the scholarly literature of librarianship.

Donald 8:49 AM  

I’ve been an academic librarian for thirty years. I’ve never heard or read “aboutness” used in a library sense. And I read a lot of writing about libraries.

Anonymous 8:49 AM  

GABOR is a shoe brand, like Croc. Hence the clue. Sheesh, people.

TTrimble 8:52 AM  

Ah, thank you @Barbara S. for your explanation of ABOUTNESS -- that's the kind of enlightened insider information that makes this commentariat such a treasure trove at times.

Anonymous 8:13 AM
YEESH, that's the kind of insider information I didn't need to know! (I'm partly kidding. I have no doubt that the Dershowitz family is composed of smart cookies. Let's just say I'm not a big fan of the paterfamilias.)

Smith 8:53 AM  

Did not get the theme at all! Solved as themeless in just under avg time. Do not understand why the app said "Congratulations!" when I had only one letter in each of the circled squares. I was kinda finishing it up and ready to go back and work out what was "spinning" (I thought it might be something like rotating the letters in the circles, but the way I had it there was no L). Huh.

Smith 8:55 AM  


Weirdly, I just complained about the NYT app accepting an *incorrect* solve!

Anonymous 8:57 AM  

@albatross shell: ATOB is "A to B" as in going from step A to step B, a tiny bit of progress

Smith 9:02 AM  


Cool! Thanks for that.

Frantic Sloth 9:04 AM  

That Fire Safety Crossword Puzzle made my head hurt. It's not me, is it??

@Z 729am πŸ‘for ShrΓΆdinger puzzle. I suppose WFTC is not pithy, but it has the advantage of being easy to remember. Also, you solve on paper?? Since when?
I had a feeling (0,0,0) was a mathy thing. Figures. (Pun intended)

I like @Karl Grouch's 893am CD, too. Maybe more.

@GILL 808am LOL! Come sit with me on the Huck Finn fishing bench. You can DROOL in the CHUB all you want. (I think your SPINTHEBOTTLE first kiss might be the same pumpkin-panted blind date I had.)

@Anon 817am, @TTrimble 821am Thanks for the more detailed explanations, but I stopped listening at "math". πŸ˜‰

@Barbara S 831am Your posts often provide information (often esoteric in nature) that I find fascinating. The ABOUTNESS and "ofness" illustration made my day (so far!) and I'm betting I will even remember it - which is extraordinary!

@JD 835am You just had to abscond with my critique and make better sense of it, didn't you? I'm sticking with skeletons, TYVM.

Anonymous 9:06 AM  

ABOUTNESS, sounds like something a five yr old would say
Never guess in a million yrs

Who cares who her father is anyway....

Lewis 9:07 AM  

@albatross shell -- Oh, I don't mind the word DROOL at all, in a puzzle or otherwise. But I was thinking of the game SPIN THE BOTTLE, and the kissing and whatnot involved, and DROOL didn't go well with that. It was a poor stab at humor on my part!

TJS 9:20 AM  

@Barbara S. Wow ! Now I have to go back to my favorite room at the Art Institute of Chicago to look for all these insider details that I never noticed. Thank you so much for your commentary. I feel like I just attended a quicky Art Appreciation lecture.

burtonkd 9:24 AM  

@Barbara - thanks so much for that ABOUTNESS explanation. I could vividly imagine a painting by your description. I love those Dutch masters images. I am currently thinking the relevance of aboutness and ofness while reading this blog, comes in handy.
As a teacher, remembering the aboutness of your students will be a great shorthand to rise above teaching of-ness.

I saw the substitution of letters from bottle, but left them blank until the end, figuring they would sort themselves out.

@Z - add LOA KEA to the coin flip list. ELUDE EVADE. I do consider these a challenge feature rather than a bug.

One of our cats drools voluminously if you pick him up to pet. It actually burns a bit; between that and the claws out kneading on your shoulder, he now gets all his attention on the ground...

bocamp 9:25 AM  

Thank you, @Aimee & @Ella, for a fun Thursday! Loved the theme. :)

Easy solve; very much on my wavelength.

More or less knew at the "gator"/"lubes" cross that the theme would be revealed at some point, so didn't worry about having "lutes" for the "garage jobs", and carried on accordingly.

The app indicated that I finished successfully, but I'd have to give myself a dnf. I had all the across themers filled in correctly according to the clues except 27A, where I had "boast", having filled in 10D "cameo" correctly. Since I had 51A "drool", spinning the bottle would never produce the needed "L" for "blast" and "laser".

I don't read Rex's comments or those of the commentariat prior to my first post, so I'll look forward to seeing what others' experiences were. Seems to me that the 180 only works when all the theme answers are entered consistently, either across or down; then the bottle spin does the trick. Maybe I'm missing something; wouldn't be the first time. LOL (NOTE: it just dawned on me that I probably should have executed a rebus for each of the themer cells; hello, Thursday = rebus day. LOL)

"Who's" On First ~ Abbott & Costello

"Faerie" Island ~ My Singing Monsters

Our family was known to go a-"wassailing".


Peace Tolerance Kindness Togetherness πŸ•Š

Nancy 9:28 AM  

"Oh, no", I'm thinking to myself as the trick of the puzzle began to dawn on me. "Please, please don't be arbitrarily-placed tiny little circles in which arbitrarily-chosen single letters contained in the word BOTTLE have been arbitrarily swapped with other arbitrarily-chosen single letters in the word BOTTLE."

But, alas, that's exactly what the conceit was.*

As I was fast-scrolling down here to write my plaint, my eye kept catching the comments of all the people who seemed to like this. I'm thinking that I may turn out to be an outlier today. But I really thought this was awful. I found it more annoying than actually hard to figure out or solve. But I think it's a pretty ridiculous theme.

*If it turns out that there's some sort of mathematical or physics pattern to how the letters in bottle are spun, don't confuse me with it, please. I'm very poor at spatial relations, I didn't notice it as I was solving, and I really don't care.

Unknown 9:34 AM  

@ Southside Johnny If you'd never played spin the bottle as a teen or pre-teen, then sadly your childhood was incomplete.

This puz was a bit over my head. Sussed out StB pretty quickly, and saw that only certain BOTTLE letters would be in the rebus, but still don't quite get the explanation. Which is fine.

learning that one of the constructors is the daughter of alan d takes some of the shine off the puzzle. The child being tainted by the sins of the father.

Anonymous 9:35 AM  

Boring puzzle that was mostly fill-in-the-blanks. Would've been fine earlier in the week, but Thursday's are typically much better quality than this.

ow a paper cut 9:36 AM  

I was surprised when I was given credit for solving the puzzle with one letter in the circles. I never got the theme until coming here

Anonymous 9:36 AM  

Obamas, AOC, Impeachment. Two women constructors. Hated it. A politically incorrect solver’s nightmare. Thanks for nothing (except Mr. Parker choosing not to comment on it, which I was certain he would)!

Like 0, 0, 0 but then, I'm a geek.

Anonymous 9:39 AM  

I agree. Stupid is the word I’d use.

RooMonster 9:49 AM  

Hey All !
Dang, where's @LMS when we need her to explain just how cool this puz was? I'll try...
First, the ladies had to find a Bunch of 5 letter words that would work not only as two words if you changed one letter, but also had to work with the letters from BOTTLE. AND then put them in the grid to form the word BOTTLE going clockwise starting from the top, And clockwise starting from the bottom. Which means those words are set in the grid and can't be moved around to try to get better fill.* AND AND end up with other words that can use either letter. AND end up with clean fill!
Holy smokes!

*That's one thing as a constructor you can try. Move your themers around to see if better fill results. But if you have a trick in your puz, as in todays BOTTLE from the top and from the bottom set in place, you have no choice but to work around them and hope you don't end up with PEWIT or something. (Hi @M&A!)

I had the rebus squares as the correct letters, but randomly put in, so I didn't see that third layer of the theme. Once I finished, the NYT App changed them to their correct order, and then I saw the BOTTLE spelling from the top and from the bottom. An extra notch of wowness and respect for that! Couldn't have been easy to construct and get anything resembling clean fill. These ladies did an amazing feat.

I think it's funny some of y'all are complaining about the "ghost" words being unclued. If they were clued, some would complain "we didn't need the extra words clued! Let us figure out that both Across and Down make up other words with their swapped letters!" HAr.

So I liked this ambitious puz. It's truly amazing the fill is this good. With all the constraints of the rebus, plus the center Revealer, not only is ASA about as bad as it gets, but there's also long Downs that are real things! Dang, ladies, color me impressed! (You know, in case you hadn't figured that out by now!)

I see now how @Lewis feels everypuz!

Two F's

Z 9:50 AM  

@8:17 - I wasn’t actually looking for it. Also, just in case, “well seasoned” was not a typo.

@Barbara S - Thanks for the fantastic explainer. I think Rex missed just how niche ABOUTNESS is. It’s not a librarian term, it’s an indexer term. Indexing is one of those tasks we all take for granted but it has a significant impact on what we can know. Just think about @Babara S’s example. If the indexer doesn’t include terms of the ABOUTNESS in the painting’s description the work will not show up in my google search for one of the seven deadly sins so I will not find it when I go looking. With the explosion of human knowledge out there good indexing is vital. Otherwise, that knowledge is just a tree falling in the forest with nobody around to hear it.

@TTrimble & @8:13 - The NWSL had its draft last night and Trinity Rodman went second. I was especially annoyed that lots of headlines and Tweets started with “Dennis Rodman’s daughter” as if her whole existence as a top athlete was dependent on this guy whose primary contribution was some DNA. I have no idea if Dershowitz’ parentage is relevant in any way, nor do I care unless it actually becomes relevant.

@Gill I - CHUm is what you have after you grind up a few CHUB. Also, growing up there was a fish market in Holland with great smoked CHUBs. We’d get a pound and eat it with our fingers right from the wrap. Tasty. Hence, automatic entry here.

@Lobster11 - That’s pretty good, but “flipper” makes me think we should call these things “dolphins.” I mean, what good is a pithy term if it doesn’t confuse the noobs?

KrystineM 9:50 AM  

Toodling along, enjoyed the puzzle, got the theme. Headed over here to see Rex’s take and I can’t even with that fire safety crossword. Broke my brain.

JennG 9:53 AM  

From A to B

TTrimble 10:00 AM  

Ah, then, you've given me a vital clue! If only I would avoid using the word "math", then you'll read my explanations!

Actually, I often try to be sneaky this way as a teacher. Certain words scare people, or they've heard bad things about a word or phrase. So I may avoid using a word for a while, and just show how the technique works, and after they get the hang of it, reveal the word. And then it's like, oh, that's all it is?

See, math is really simple. And hard.

Z 10:02 AM  

@burtonkd - Elude/evade/avoid is a triple flipper/dolphin where I don’t bother with any of the five letters until I have a few crosses. And don’t forget our musical entries, IN _, and _ SHARP or _ FLAT, and _ M_ _ OR. And, of course, our Pope RRN entries, which are thankfully on the endangered entry list.

I don’t know why this caught my eye when @bocamp mentioned it, but a GATOR LUBE is either a dirty job or a very weird kink.

Sir Hillary 10:15 AM  

I enjoyed this while solving, and completely missed the "ghost answers" until I came here. Seeing those elevates my view of the puzzle even more. But I don't get the clamor to clue the ghost answers -- we frequently see Thursday puzzles with conflicting crosses. No big deal.

Never heard of ABOUTNESS, and even after reading comments here I'm still not sure I get it. But it's an awesome answer -- by far my favorite today.

Steph Curry twice in a row -- yesterday as an answer, today as a clue. I think he and LeBron James were actually born in the same AKRON hospital.

USAINBOLT should have nine gold medals, but one of his relay teammates was busted for doping, so the whole team was stripped of the medal. I read something interesting after the recent doping suspension of US sprinter Christian Coleman: Of the 50 fastest 100-meter times in history, 35 have been run by men either suspended for, or accused of, doping. The other 15 were all run by USAINBOLT. It will be a long time before track and field sees anyone like him.

The MOWS clue feels a little off. To me, "overwhelms" suggests being buried, perhaps slowly, under something heavy. "MOWS down" suggests being suddenly dropped where one stands. END result is the same, but the path is different.

Anoa Bob 10:17 AM  

How about something along the lines of "Stories of Eliot of the Prohibitionist Untouchables fame" or "Recollections on a 'monstrous' Scottish lake" for ABOUT NESS?. Sometimes a single grid entry will win me over and the rest of the puzzle can do no wrong. And the there are times when the opposite happens, as with today's offering.

So I go looking for something else of interest. Ah YES, two-for-one POCs. ENTS at OASES is a real HOOT. And how about those TEENS at the STNS waiting for ETS to come down the STEPS. Glad to see the OBAMAS have a video on getting six-pack ABS.

Must remain STOIC.

Katzzz 10:19 AM  

Thank you for illuminating the inscrutable

TJS 10:19 AM  

Rex, "The grid is quite solid". "Grid". Does that refer to the "words" we are required to fill in ? Does it refer to : awol,aone,asa,abs,tso,yes,aoc,oso,sat,ents,econ,ala,eso who,atob,via,ets tlc tare ? On a Thursday ? Sheesh.

albatross shell 10:19 AM  

Thanks. I actually thought of that one but not long enough. Perhaps because of the recent GETAB I thought of grades and so going from A to B was the opposite of progress. Doh.

I did get the joke, but thought you meant it too. I may have been in shock since it seemed like you actually criticized a puzzle.

@Barbara S
Since UKE is here again:

Some phrases:
Keep your powder dry.
Hold your fire
Do not enter
No entry
Do not enter
Pencils down
Wait and see.
But no snappy acronyms.
Shortest one I got is "forks" as in a road. Don't go until you see a sign.

@Anon 935am
It was an easyish Thursday, but fun and otherwise appropriate. At least a tough Wednesday to me, so not too far off.

Pete 10:26 AM  

@Z First, you may well be (or not, no judging) surprised at the vast array of intimate lube products out there in the market. I'm an expert, having invented, developed, and marketed an instrument which provided tribological measurement of the lubricity of fluids, highly useful in assessing intimate lube products. Some are designed to reduce friction, some to increase it, some to accomplish each, depending on the velocity of the moving parts. Trust me, there would be no surprise in finding "Gator Lube, for those who like it rough" in the Adult Products store next to Giuliani at the Four Seasons Landscaping. Not that he could afford it, after getting stiffed by T*****. Or, it might be for a John Deere Gator, which need regular lube jobs.

Speaking of insane lawyers, it's a good thing I don't believe that the sins of the father fall to their children, otherwise I would hated this puzzle rather than liked it.

It was decided years ago that "those things" are OLAFs.

@Barbara - thanks for the clearest ABOUTNESS discussion to date - The internet was absolutely useless on this subject. I just assumed Librarians had to come up with a technical term encompassing their actions/dilemma/amusement following the 1000th request "do you have a book about..."

GILL I. 10:26 AM  

Well just make me bake a crumb cake, @Z.....I looked up the grind up CHUB you ate as a kid. I got this: "Pop a CHUB". Quess what that means? Did you do that as well? How about a fat called WURYANNS.....Will she sit in the corner with me and @Frantic as we suck our plumb thumbs looking at fishies giving us the middle finger as we try to bait them with our little bread on a stick?

Anonymous 10:26 AM  

alas, I remained stuck on the notion that the BOTTLE was 'spinning' inside the circle, so any 2 letters would combine for the A and D.

albatross shell 10:32 AM  

Just thought of NOGOs.

mathgent 10:32 AM  

Brilliant theme. @RooMonster (9:49) explains well how difficult it was to pull off. Not that it had anything to do with my solving it. I only noticed that the two letters in the circles were in "bottle."

Loved Barbara S's ((8:31) explanation of the difference between "ofness" and "aboutness." It brought back memories of some Bruegel paintings I've seen.

The craftsmanship was admirable but it didn't translate into enjoyment. Will likes puzzles like that.

Lewis actually seemed to criticize something about the puzzle today. But then he came back to explain that he was only trying to make a joke. Whew!

Anonymous 10:33 AM  

I checked the wiki, to check my failing memory, and yes Cartesian co-ordinate is his 2 dimensional axes. it was applied to Euclidian geometry. only birds flew back then and the earth was flat (the Alps notwithstanding), so a third dimension wasn't front of brain. once the third dimension was understood, it was added, but not part of the original definition.

Margaret in New Jersey 10:35 AM  

So. I got SPINTHEBOTTLE, and I quickly figured out that the letters in BOTTLE should be entered in the circles like a rebus. But it wasn't fun for me, and ultimately it seemed ugly and overdone. Too clever by half. It may be architecturally interesting, but so is Brutalism.

Xcentric 10:35 AM  

@Barbara - thank you for your explanation of aboutness. It made clear what a wonderful word it is.
I solved on the app and it accepted the correct spellings of the across words as single letters.
I realized that each down used a different letter of bottle, but didn’t get that it was a 180 degree spin until reading Rex and this blog.
I was impressed that all all six “wrong” answers were actually words - @Roomonster thanks for explaining just how hard it is to construct a puzzle like this.
Thanks Aimee and Ella for a fun solve.

algiardello 10:38 AM  

Thanks! I was wondering, too.

Tom R 10:40 AM  

Got the theme early (rare for me) and the rest was the easiest Thursday I can recall (under 10 min which is phenomenal for me). I liked it even though I never solve for speed and like the struggle in late week.

Northwest Runner 10:41 AM  

I was using the NYT app on my iPad and filled in the rebus squares with a single letter to make the down clues work never even realizing the across letters would make a word for the down entries. The app didn’t fill in the across letters once I finished. Whether it’s a puzzle like this or the more common rebus style of a squeezed word or spelled out number, I’m never sure if first letter is treated as a correct entry on the app.

Nancy 10:41 AM  

@Barbara S -- Now, that has to be one of the most interesting and enlightening posts I've ever seen on this blog. It makes me want to throw on my sneakers, dash down to the Met immediately, buttonhole the nearest museum guard, and say: "Quick! Where do you keep the 17th-century Dutch paintings?"

I certainly won't know on my own, because I can count on the fingers of both hands, with several fingers left over, how many times I've been in the Met in my entire life or indeed in any museums at all. And as soon as I'm in one, I usually can't wait to be out again. I go through museums, figuratively speaking, on roller skates, when I go through them at all.

And that's obviously because I've never had you as an art history teacher, Barbara. Why, I bet you could keep me engrossed in just a handful of paintings for hours! Knowing how to look at paintings with that enormous amount of insight and cultural understanding is something I've never been taught. Right now, the best thing I can say about a painting I like is "Nice painting!" and then scurry right along to the next one. I've often wondered about people who stand in front of a painting for what seems like an eternity: "How long can it possibly take them to see what's in it?"

Well now I know. They see many, many things that I don't see. You may have missed your vocation, @Barbara S. You would have made one hell of an art history professor! And the whole concept of ABOUTNESS -- a concept I'd never heard of -- was very interesting too. Thank you.

Birchbark 10:42 AM  

SPIN THE BOTTLE right over ABHOR and IN LOVE. You wonder who does the spinning, and whether they game it.

@BarbaraS (8:31) -- I sat down to learn about card catologuing and stood up reborn in the ABOUTNESS of a Puritan revival, awakened to sin no more. Brilliant.

Whatsername 10:52 AM  

Agree with Rex that this was a bit of a chore but adore is not a word I’d use for it. So since I’m basically lazy and trying to be kind, I’ll just hitch my wagon to @Frantic’s star this morning with her scowling face and minus party hat. And yes the fire puzzle also made my head hurt. Worse.

Skimmimg the comments, I noticed people remarking about the political flavor of the grid today. AOC, EGOS, POTUS, LOSE FACE, SO SUE ME, ABUSE of power, conspiracy theories and the DROOL on the faces of the rabid goons whose ACTIONS we ABHOR to A ONE. Maybe they didn’t get enough LOVE when they were children.

“A president is a public servant. They are temporary occupants of the office, by design. And when your time is up, then it is your job to put the country first and think beyond your own ego, and your own interests, and your own disappointments.”
Barack OBAMA, 11/15/2020

bocamp 10:52 AM  

@Z 10:02 AM ~ rotflol πŸ˜‚

Peace Tolerance Kindness Togetherness πŸ•Š

Carola 10:53 AM  

I liked @Rex's "easy-challenging" rating, not so much because of the theme (the "easy") but because of the NE corner, where a mistaken CHUm (hi @Gill I and @Z) led me astray and instead of an ethereal FAERIE I had my mind set on some fierce dragon-type beast. That I'd never heard of ABOUTNESS didn't help either. The theme rescued me when I completed the two SPINs of the BOTTLE with BLAST x CAMEO,

I almost always learn something from @Rex and the comments. Today there were two things: the fact that the "wrong" answers are also real words - I'd totally missed that and am agog at the feat - and @BarbaraS's so interesting explanation and illustration of ABOUTNESS v. ofness - thank you for that!

Greater Fall River Committee for Peace & Justice 10:54 AM  

I solved this in the ophthalmologist's office, where they had out in drop to enlarge my pupils so everything got blurrier and blurrier as I went on. At the end I wanted to check what was going on with the spinning bottle, but I couldn't see where the circles were, they could have been anywhere.

But it was a good democratic puzzle. I cheered at ABUSE of power.

Douglas 10:57 AM  

@southside Johnny - we definitely played spin the bottle at 7th and 8th grade “boy girl parties”. What great memories of tween (we weren’t called that back then) hormones running amok. BTW are you the Southside Johnny of Bruce Springsteen association?
I didn’t get the “spin“ theme of the puzzle, just knew that all letters had to be found in bottle - ended up working out.

Alyssa 10:57 AM  

My app also accepted it with only the across letters filled in, which surprised me because I knew something was wrong.

Something I stumbled across earlier this year for Juliana Hatfield fans: there are two newish "J.H. sings" albums -- The Police and (I kid you not) Olivia Newton John.

Hans 11:03 AM  

This is a clever and magnificent puzzle and the emperor has a fine set of new clothes.

JC66 11:04 AM  

@Barbara S

Thanks for the explanation. You're a gift to this blog.

bocamp 11:09 AM  

@TTrimble 8:21 AM

Thx for the 0,0,0 explanation. I'm taking an online algebra course; I assume this will come up eventually. 😊 πŸ€“

Just starting the SB 🀞

Peace Tolerance Kindness Togetherness πŸ•Š

puzzlehoarder 11:10 AM  

I had to solve this one on my phone last night. That's not how I like solving but our printer is offline.

I still got this done in my average time. The either or aspect of the circled squares caused some hesitation but the easyness of the fill compensated. I made no effort to use a rebus as the program will often accept the use of one or the other letter if it's correct in and of itself. If I had solved on paper I would have used two letters in each of the circles and probably would have seen the spinning bottles sooner but this way I had a mini visual puzzle to solve after the finish.

Winston S. 11:14 AM  

@Anonymous 9:36 AM: It’s best to share the groupthink. Trust me you will be much happier. I have recently and it has made all the difference. I love Big Brother.

Anonymous 11:15 AM  

It may be architecturally interesting, but so is Brutalism.

It's not just across the street, but if you have reason to go to Boston, stop by City Hall. I haven't been there in decades, so the powers that be may have fixed it, but it's original exterior consisted of concrete shaped into vertical lines with a knife edge. Not so bad, right? But they didn't stop there. They then had guys with jack hammers chip those edges into jagged, serrated knife edges. In the most snowflake (so the Red Staters believe, Southy notwithstanding) city of the country.

bocamp 11:18 AM  

@Barbara S. 8:31 AM

What a great example and lesson on "ofness" and "aboutness"! Thank you for this edification on what I thought was the best entry in today's puzzle. πŸ‘

Peace Tolerance Kindness Togetherness πŸ•Š

Anonymous 11:25 AM  

Glitches: CUT IT is not a word. LIBRE is not an English word. Both letters in the circle work for 18A. GATOR and GABOR both fit the clue.

Unknown 11:26 AM  

I enjoyed the hulla balloo at the capitol, lotssa fun!!!

CDilly52 11:28 AM  

I am conflicted. Elegant? Absolutely! Clumsy clues? Hand waaaay up! The trick didn’t confuse me for long even though only one answer was “ghosted” (or whatever). But 0,0,0 was-even after I understood that the answer was ORIGIN - meaningless to me (ok, maybe my brain is addled). Had to guess at the CHUB, and all I knew is that it was not CHUm.

I also had a tiny issue with the need to get the two letters in the correct (?) order inside the circle. My app did not auto correct and I spent 40 minutes figuring out that the damn letters had to be in the “correct” order. And the 40 minutes was long after I figured out that the letters inside the circles spelled BOTTLE. Sorry, but I cry techno-foul on that big time.

Anyway, the idea is elegant, and the puzzle would have been enjoyable to me with just a skosh more editing or just telling the various apps what “finished” meant.

Or maybe I am just cranky because I am headed out to a mediation that is going to last the rest of the day for absolutely no good reason.

Goodness, how I appreciate this blog and all its participants!! You are consistently and absolutely 100% reliably a guaranteed bright spot in my days!! Thanks, neighbors❤️

Lobster11 11:32 AM  

@Z If "coin-flipper" isn't sufficiently arcane, how about "WHOA" (Word Having One Ambiguity)?

I think I need a nap....

Frantic Sloth 11:33 AM  

@Roo 949am Well, lookie there! I never noticed the clockwise turn from top, then bottom actually spelled BOTTLE. At first, I didn't understand what you meant and kept trying to make it work with both letters in each circle, which obviously doesn't fly.. Thanks for the added insight!
I can appreciate the constructioneering, but I just didn't mesh with the clueing/answers. Just a wavelength thing...mostly.

@GILL 1026am Oh, no you bettah don't with that "pop a CHUB" bihness! 🀣🀣🀣

Also, sorry to DROOL, but what @JC66 1104am said.

BTW, I'm thinking of @Anoa Bob when I say what we have here is a FREBUS (Faux Rebus) and not a true rebus. Stick that in your pipe and salute it.

What? 11:34 AM  

Tears for Ella

Masked and Anonymous 11:40 AM  

Real different. Luved it. Got dizzy, tho.

Better ABOUTNESS clue: {Quite a bit like "The Untouchables"??}.

What *is* the correct solution to splatz into the circled letters? M&A's fave: TOT TOE.

All five-letter themers, except for the revealer. Different. Cool. Creates lotsa extra longball entries, to keep the whole rodeo at the 78 words max.

staff weeject picks: ESO & OSO. The so-so twins.

Thanx for gangin up on us, Aimee & Ella darlins, M&A will play spin the bottle with y'all, any old (post-pandemic) time.

Masked & Anonymo5Us


Anonymous 11:47 AM  

I guess it has been decades. The building in question is next door, Charles F. Hurley Building.
"The building's exterior and interior surfaces make extensive use of Rudolph's signature ribbed, bush-hammered concrete (aka “corduroy concrete”)"
the wiki

kfja 11:52 AM  

What a wonderful and clear explanation. The actual definition didn’t help at all. Thanks!

Tale Told By An Idiot 11:59 AM  

@Barbara S - I join the chorus of thanks for the wonderful explanation of “aboutness” and “ofness.” I read the definition Rex provided more than once and could not understand it (somewhat distressing as my reading comprehension has always been pretty good) but I fully understand and appreciate your example. When I have time I will google some Dutch masters and try to apply my new understanding to a painting. (Can’t go to a museum - all in Oregon are closed.)

What? 12:03 PM  

@Barbara S
Your definition of ABOUTNESS strikes me as as a bit of How Do You Knowness. The mother is drunk - or deliriously happy. The uncle is asleep (uncles and grandpas usually are at family meetings) full of good food and pleasant thoughts of “family”, the kids are involved with benign childish mischievousness resulting in laughs all around, the Bible scenes are well, Bible scenes, indicating piety and not necessarily thoughts of doom, the candle is out, maybe because the artist likes to paint smoke.
Sans interviewing the artist, we “know” what is unknowable only by fantasizing.

albatross shell 12:14 PM  

SE--- for mattress is a triple-NOGO.

jae 12:43 PM  

Easy-tough seems right. Clever, liked it once I got over being annoyed about what order to put the letters in the circles.

Joe Dipinto 12:49 PM  

23d – Subject of the lyrics to the song "Alfie"

Z 1:00 PM  

I vote for Word Having One Ambiguity/W.H.O.A. - Pithy and inscrutable while also being an acronym where the original word reflects what the solver needs to do - W.H.O.A. there Nellie, wait for the cross - and also being a homophone for the extant W.O,E. The only issue is the occasional double or triple ambiguity, but hey, it’s idiomatic and therefore doesn’t have to make complete sense. Indeed, a little nonsense makes it better.

@What? - If all we have left is the painting itself your point would be valid. However, we actually know quite a bit about the social context of 17th Century Dutch painting, certainly if one was a curator of an image collection in a university department of art history we can expect them to have knowledge in the area. But the “hidden moral in a work of art” is hardly unique to that era and place. At most we can debate this in a “which came first the chicken or the egg” sort of way. Is the revelry only there to give us the moral, or is the moral just there to justify painting the revelry {wink wink}? You can even find similar revelry/morality art in Gothic churches, for example. Hell, it is pretty obvious that GoT was a long morality play about greed, avarice, lust, sloth, pride, envy, and anger.

@Pete - TMI πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚

@Gill I - Which internet are you searching on? πŸ˜‰

Anonymous 1:17 PM  

Loved the puzzle;frustrated like some others that my solve wasn't acceptable on my computer solve because I had the letters reversed on one of my T/E rebuses

JD 1:21 PM  

@Frantic, We were on the same wavelength (peak frequency with a chance of showers). Dentist this morning for the first time in a Rona year. Didn't read comments, but I agree with what you said. And the Gabor thing. Oddly I forgot about them and one of my early comic idols, Eva. Oleevur!

Dentist thing was brutal. Had to put on real shoes and zip-up pants.

@Barbara, I'm going to join the chorus. The whole puzzle was worth that explanation. I'm serious.

Teedmn 1:24 PM  

I got the duality of the circles by the 2nd circle (in my case, the CAMEO/BLAST crossing) and the theme fell into place with the reveal entry.

It's a sweet idea and well executed in my opinion.

From Wikipedia: ABOUTNESS is a term used in library and information science (LIS), linguistics, philosophy of language, and philosophy of mind. In LIS, it is often considered synonymous with subject (documents). In the philosophy of mind it has been often considered synonymous with intentionality, perhaps since John Searle (1983). In the philosophy of logic and language it is understood as the way a piece of text relates to a subject matter or topic. In general, the term refers to the concept that a text, utterance, image, or action is on or of something.[1]

Whoever wrote the above definition seems to enjoy their own writing more than it warrants. I think it just says "Aboutness" means texts or images, etc. are about something. Maybe that's simplifying too much?

Nice job, Aime and Ella, and Ella, congrats on your NYT debut.

Smith 1:50 PM  


*****SB Alert*****

QBABM, first time! Guess it was an easy one since I see a lot of 'em.

Barbara S. 2:08 PM  

I’ve been offline since I posted at 8:30, so I’m surprised to come back and find that anyone even read my comment (I put what was supposed to be an esoterica warning on it). Thanks to everyone who got something out of it. I’ve always found art history to be an intellectually stimulating field, and as for image librarianship, it’s about as niche-y as you can get. When I closed the door on that collection for the last time, I never thought I’d feel the urge to revisit "ofness" and "aboutness" for any reason whatsoever!

I love the thought that some of you now want to visit the nearest art museum. Let’s hope we’re moving in the direction of that becoming more possible. (We’re on strict lockdown here and all museums are closed.)

@Nancy (10:41)
In my jack-of-all-trades-master-of-none career I have been a lecturer in art history and enjoyed it greatly. One of the most fun things to do is get out of the classroom and into the museum and watch the students get all revved up. Such visits always attracted a crowd, and you’d get totally extraneous people jumping in excitedly with their ideas about art!

@Birchbark (10:42)
You and those Calvinists would certainly have hit it off!

@JC66 (11:04)
Thank you!

@What? (12:03 PM)
Contrarians are always welcome! And indeed some have argued along the lines that you do. I feel the weight of evidence lies more heavily on the other side of the balance, but that’s what scholarship and intellectual debate are for.

Unknown 2:08 PM  

I've been a librarian for more than 20 yrs and I also have a BA in linguistics and can't say I ever remembering here "aboutness"

Barbara S. 2:21 PM  

@albatross shell (10:19)
I loved it -- thanks for reminding us. I had no idea the UKE could have so many moods. Ukulele Weeps.

Masked and Anonymous 2:44 PM  

Firstly, a hearty congratz to Ella on her half-debut. Good job.

Secondly, I believe I have the definitive Fire Safety Crossword Puzzle solution …

*** FSC Puz spoiler alert ***

1. HOWL if your clothes catch on fire.
2. Make a Family ESTATE Plan.
3. Have an OPENPIT meeting point in case of fire.
1. Test all smoke detectors FOR BUGS.
2. Crawl under NO ONE.
3. Help parents keep BOB CATS in a safe place. [Might conceivably be some better answer here, but thought @RP would like the CATS part]


kromiumman 2:52 PM  

Just want to chime in as another librarian who has never, ever, ever heard the term "aboutness".

Last911 2:54 PM  

Wow. Add Obamas and AOC and you've got a very 'woke' puzzle.

Can't we keep politics out of our (one) daily enjoyment?

GILL I. 2:56 PM  

@Barbara S. Art history makes me SING. At one time in my life I was a little major in it. I've been lucky in that I got to travel a lot. I made it my absolute MUST to visit every single museum in every city I was fortunate to see.. My favorite (of many)....The Mexican Museo Nacional de Antropologia. Well, that one and a few others.....
@Z. All I did was what God intended.... I went to Google and typed in CHUB. It promptly directed me to the online slang dictionary. Try it.... :-). Do you approve?

Nigel Pottle 3:11 PM  

I’m a retired librarian. I never once used, heard used,or saw used, the word ABOUTNESS. However I know exactly what it means. I get the feeling it is a new extension of the word “about” (which now that I think of it could describe the turning of a bottle), because of new technologies. So yay for librarians recognizing that aboutness is important in research.

A 3:12 PM  

Happy First Colonial Constitution Day!

paraphrased from
‘On January 14, 1639, the first constitution in the American colonies, the “Fundamental Orders,” was adopted by representatives of Wethersfield, Windsor, and Hartford.
The frame of government presented by lawyer Roger Ludlow put the welfare of the community above that of individuals. It was also the first written constitution in the world to declare the modern idea that “the foundation of authority is in the free consent of the people.”’ The END.

Also, happy birthday Albert Schweitzer!

@Z, @Lobster11 @albatross shell, et al - fun proposals for flippage! Here are a few more:
RNR - Random Note Roulette (bonus - it’s easily confused with RRN)
WFC - Wait For Confirmation (pretty meh but might cause a double take)
SLF - Single Letter Flipper (WHOA is better)
DLF - Double Letter Flipper and TLF - Triple Letter Flipper (my favorites; could be used when WHOA doesn’t apply)

Nice work, constructors! Thanks for that intriguing twist of the BOTTLE cap - added spark! Even the ‘little fillers’ weren’t annoying because of clever clueing. Also, thanks for including ABOUTNESS instead of ofNESS! What a discussion that would’ve provoked!

@Barbara S. Count me among your admirers for your engaging and illuminating mini lecture on ABOUTNESS and ofNESS ! As @Nancy pointed out with her roller-skating experience, knowing what to look for makes all the difference in what one sees in a work of art. I remember the first time I used the headphone notes at an exhibition. Not only did I see things in the art that I’d have missed, afterwards I noticed I was seeing things outside in a new light.

Now if only someone could come up with a way to communicate the same type of revelation in real time for listening to Charles Ives!

bocamp 3:14 PM  

@Barbara S. 2:08 PM

I think the only times I've visited an art museum were when taking my class on field trips to various ones in our area of the BC lower mainland and/or Vancouver Island. Nevertheless, I do have a wonderful app on my iPad, "Art Authority", which I occasionally visit. Next time I do, I'll definitely think of you and your "ofness"/"aboutness" lesson. Good stuff! πŸ€“

And, kudos to you for your response to @What? (12:03 PM). This is the epitome of thoughtful and useful dialogue. It's something I pray to see more of, not only on this blog, but in all of society. πŸ™ πŸ•Š

And, for all who've never heard of "aboutness", isn't it wonderful to learn new things, especially from our common friend, the NYT crossword!

SB stuff

@Smith 1:50 PM

πŸ‘ for your QB; please clarify "ABM" and "you see a lot of 'em". Are you on a blog that discusses SB?

As for me, I'm pg -1 today; having trouble with the final word, but will work on it on and off for the remainder of the day, and possibly tomorrow morning. BTW, "pg" was coined by our friend, @TTrimble, meaning "pangrammatic" (having gotten all possible pangrams) "genius" (but not yet QB). "-1" indicates the number of words not yet found.

Peace Tolerance Kindness Togetherness πŸ•Š

Anonymous 3:34 PM  

Can't we keep politics out of our (one) daily enjoyment?

"You don't get a mulligan on insurrection"
-- Chris Krebs

Marian 3:39 PM  

Aboutness was one of the first things taught when I went to librarian school.

egsforbreakfast 4:07 PM  

I came to this party waaaaaay too late today to try anything interesting, so let me just say:

1. Great theme, very well executed.
2. Wonderful lesson on “ABOUTNESS” by Barbara S.

TTrimble 4:14 PM  

I think what made @Barbara S.'s description so good was that it was not a dictionary definition, i.e., abstract and arid, but was studded with vivid, concrete detail based on specific remembered examples. She painted it with words. More, please, whenever you're in the mood!

Do you remember a title of some such piece and the artist, by any chance, so that we could at least Google for it?

Crimson Devil 4:20 PM  

Quite a construct!
Never heard of ABOUTNESS, or O,O,O.
Really liked LETTER/LEASE. WHO/SHE not so much.

Deb Sweeney 4:32 PM  

I liked the theme and for once it actually helped me get some crosses instead of struggling to figure it out after completing the puzzle. I'll just be the uniter and say I hated ALL the political references in this puzzle regardless of party just because, stick a fork in me, I am so done. I am burnt, charred, incinerated, crumbling into ashes with a single poke. Done-o-rama. Done.

Bocheball 4:50 PM  

Ditto. Too much contrivance for my tastes.

LenFuego 6:58 PM  

"I did not have a bad time!"

Bravo, Aimee and Ella! -- including the exclamation mark, that is as big a rave as the miserable Mr. Parker gives, at least for a puzzle edited by Mr. Shortz and that was not constructed by a personal friend of his.

Other than puzzling out the theme, my fave bits were SOSUEME and the (0, 0, 0) clue for ORIGIN. One personal improvement: I would have loved the clue for ITSSAFE to be "Response to Olivier's character in Marathon Man?"

Unknown 8:56 PM  

I was a librarian for 45 years, and never ever heard the word "aboutness". It shouldn't exist, and if it does don't blame it on librarians!

Anoa Bob 9:01 PM  

Frantic @11:34 AM, Since it was a Thursday puzzle, I was wondering if it would be another example of the 'multiple letters in a single square' genre, a Frebus (a portmanteau of faux and rebus), but someone else coined the term Frebus, and if memory serves me correctly, it was you.

I like "Frebus" (the word, not necessarily the puzzle) because now we have a term that is unique to crossword puzzles. It only requires a very small change, the addition of one letter. And it's still two syllables. It's a win-win situation for all those in crossword world.

I do think, however, that the derivation of Frebus should be, for consistency, falsus rebus. Frebus is still there but now its two word roots are both Latin.

katie s. 9:56 PM  

I'm a librarian and have *never* heard ABOUTNESS. I also had no idea what the theme was/circles were for until I checked over here - filling it in on the NYT site triggered as correct as long as one letter was right, so I just shrugged while solving and got one letter right, and had no idea what else was happening.

Anonymous 10:26 PM  

loved this. charming.

Bruce Fieggen 11:34 PM  

Would have been more fitting if the bottle was spun 90 degrees.

Greg 2:14 AM  

Love that WASSAIL was in, even if a bit late for the season.

CDilly52 11:43 AM  

@Barbara S - ABOUTNESS took me waaaaay back to my librarian days at the university reference desk and as a Grad Assistant teaching the beginning Cataloguing Lab to first semester Master’s students in the Library School. You know, way beCk before computers when we had card catalogs and the Library of Congress Subject Headings were The Way we helped folks find things? When only Librarians were trained to use the expensive data base services like Eric? Before anyone had a computer? Wow.

Migwell 12:30 AM  

Gosh, we got the theme fairly quickly, but were completely stuck on LITRE because we thought Americans spelled the word LITER, which stumped our solve. Is that not the case??

Anonymous 5:42 AM  

@migwell You're correct about American spelling of liter. But Americans say gas while Brits say petrol. Hence litre spelling.

Wistful Radio Chronicles 1:15 PM  

This puzzle just proves that crosswords are meant to be solved in pencil on paper, not on a computer.

kitshef 5:21 PM  

A rare puzzle where I loved the theme but hated the puzzle. Normally, theme trumps all else. But the number of absurd "colloquial equivalence" clues just squashed any sense of joy.

thefogman 10:40 AM  

I appreciate the constructor’s efforts, but the convoluted gimmick made you jump through too many hoops for such a small reward. Was expecting something like “Before Times” for 70A.

Diana, LIW 11:25 AM  

I like this...but... Oh. Come. On. Gimme a break, @Rex. YOU do something like this. (and he, as a constructor, could - so why can't he break free of his grumpy reviews?)

I didn't quite get the second bottle, but got all the answers correctly. A new spin on crosswords, if you ask me.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

Diana, LIW 11:27 AM  

I forgot - to all my book-loving friends, there is no ABOUTNESS. Yuck to that one word.

Lady Di

spacecraft 11:54 AM  

After I had the theme explained to me...I STILL don't get it! To me, the circles just contained two *totally random* letters from the word BOTTLE. At first I thought it had something to do with an actual SPIN, as starting from sq. 27:


But no. At least it didn't occur anywhere else. This was a hard, hard puzzle to do, needing to know advanced math (0,0,0) and "Librarianese." I can't believe anyone over the age of six would say "ABOUTNESS" instead of relevance. SW and NE corners were particularly thorny. Weekend-tough, but the rebi forced it back to Thursday. I'm not taking any triumph points because the complete theme is still murky in my brain, but I did have a correct fill, so I can rate this one. AOC has to be DOD; she's a definite birdie--but the puzzle gets a par.

Burma Shave 1:07 PM  


but you'll LOSEFACE if you BOAST of


Anonymous 1:59 PM  

Straightforward, relatively easy puzzle needlessly complicated by the Chinese puzzle gimmick.

leftcoaster 3:20 PM  

It’s the ABOUTNESS of this puzzle that delights.

It’s about a spinning BBOOTTLLEE, split-word circles, and word-letters that can make sense in down and across directions. Simple, once figured out, and with a neat spin.

Add fill like OAC, FAERIE, and HIHATS to the mix, and you have a pretty good Thursday olio.

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