Seat of ancient Irish kings / WED 1-20-21 / Wading bird with long slender bill / Digital media player since 2008 / Classic of daytime TV first aired in 1962 [Atlanta Bangor] / God is the perfect Robert Browning

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Constructor: Natan Last, Andy Kravis and the J.A.S.A. Crossword Class 

Relative difficulty: no idea ... harder than usual, I think

THEME: THE UNITED STATES (36A: Red, white and blue land ... or what 15-, 22-, 45- and 57-Across feature?) — familiar phrases where one word signifies "united" and the other word is made up of two state abbrs. "united" (or "fused" or "joined") together:

Theme answers:
  • MIND-MELDING (15A: Sharing thoughts like a Vulcan [Detroit, Fargo])
  • "MATCH GAME" (22A: Classic of daytime TV first aired in 1962 [Atlanta, Bangor])
  • JOINT PAIN (45A: Arthritis symptom [Altoona, South Bend])
  • WINE PAIRING (57A: Sommelier's suggestion [Oshkosh, Omaha])
Word of the Day: TARA (37D: Seat of ancient Irish kings) —
The Hill of Tara (IrishTeamhair or Cnoc na Teamhrach) is a hill and ancient ceremonial and burial site near Skryne in County MeathIreland. According to tradition, it was the inauguration place and seat of the High Kings of Ireland, and it also appears in Irish mythology. Tara consists of numerous monuments and earthworks—from the Neolithic to the Iron Age—including a passage tomb (the "Mound of the Hostages"), burial moundsround enclosures, a standing stone (believed to be the Lia Fáil or "Stone of Destiny"), and a ceremonial avenue. There is also a church and graveyard on the hill. Tara is part of a larger ancient landscape and Tara itself is a protected national monument under the care of The Office of Public Works, an agency of the Irish Government. (wikipedia)
• • •

This felt like a Thursday puzzle that they ran today because it's Inauguration Day (Happy Inauguration Day, by the way). The level of gimmickry is much more Thursday than Wednesday, and though much of the cluing was ordinary Wednesday stuff, there was enough difficulty early on, when combined with the theme shenanigans, to get me pretty badly stuck at the outset. The worst part, in the end, was that there was far less shenanigans than the confusing cluing let on. It's weird ... this is just a themeless puzzle if you take away the random place names in brackets at the end of the theme clues (and the post-ellipsis bit in the revealer clue). You don't need any of the theme stuff to solve. But then ... it feels like they made the puzzle hard enough that you actually might have needed to resort to the theme to help you out. I definitely resorted to it in the SE to figure out WINE PAIRING. Still, it really is just a high word-count themeless puzzle, totally solvable without any of the theme elements. It's bizarre. The theme helped me out late in the solve, but early on it absolutely confounded me. If there hadn't been two city names at the end of the MIND-MELDING clue, I would've plopped MIND-MELDING down without a second thought; but because the cities suggested something themey was clearly going on, and because I couldn't get a couple of the MIND-MELDING crosses, I was certain some kind of rebus or shared-square scheme of some kind was going on, specifically where the "E" and "L" were in MIND-MELDING (more on that in a bit). So adding the city names to the end of the clue actually made things much less clear than they would've been otherwise. In fact, the confusion produced by the city names combined with horrendous / weird / vague cluing on some of the fill (POET, TIED, SLOMO) to make the NW a total nightmare. 

So, the NW ... I hate hate hate clues like 1A: "God is the perfect ___": Robert Browning (POET). Fill-in-the-blank quotes are The Worst. They probably seem to make sense to the cluer, but to the solver, honestly, most of the time it could be any word. The fact that the quote is from Browning is actually useless. So what if I know he's a poet. That doesn't make me think POET is the right answer here. In fact, I thought the answer (after I got a few crosses) was POEM. I like POEM so so so much better than POET. I should've been Browning's editor. Much more interesting to think of God as something multi-layered, ineffable, and invented by humans than as some sad human analogue in the sky, scribbling at His desk. Bah. Combine my mistake there was the absolutely baffling clue on TIED (4D: One up, for example). "One up" is the opposite of tied, in that if you are one up, you are ahead. Is this ping-pong-speak? I am used to the term "all" to express a tie. But "Up"? I know that it's used ... maybe casually in tennis or soccer? Anyway, that clue was super-confusing. I had POEM / MIED (??) and then no idea about SLOMO (13D: It helps you see details—just no help, this clue). This meant two answers running through MIND-MELDING were mysteries. Two adjacent answers, two adjoining squares. I went down and picked up the revealer and then somehow got *more* lost because, well, two adjoining squares were giving me trouble ... and the theme is something about uniting states ... I kept trying to figure out how "MI" could fit in one square or "ND" could fit in the other. Again, nightmare. Eventually, I got out of there, somehow, and the rest of the puzzle was easy enough, except the SE, which like its symmetrical counterpart, was filled with rough cluing on the short fill (NEO-Latin!?). But at that point I knew what was going on with the theme, so I could get WINE PAIRING and pull myself through. 

Let's see, what else was tough? I forgot the Gulf of SIDRA was a thing (5D: Libya's Gulf of ___), which made the NW even rougher than it already was. Also, couldn't believe ANN was the answer at 7D: She's a doll, since you would never ever ever say just ANN without "Raggedy" in front of it. Woof and oof to that clue. Had PAN (or was it POT) before WOK (hyper-vague clue there) (57D: Cooking utensil) and STEP before KICK (54D: Rockette's move), and distrusted SNIPE, since a SNIPE hunt is a hunt for a fictional animal, or so I thought from having watched that one episode of "Cheers" (44D: Wading bird with a long, slender bill) You can see how badly I needed the theme trick to pull me out of this morass in the SE.

I really think the theme is cute, actually. I don't see any logic behind the city names in the theme clues, though, beyond the fact that they are (random?) cities in the relevant states. Why not use capitals? I mean, Altoona, wtf? So arbitrary. But the theme answers themselves are solid and I did get a genuine (if grudging) aha when the theme clicked. Most of the difficulty for me was caused by overthinking the theme early on, and by a pile-up of bad luck (again, early on) that sent me down a horrible rabbit-hole of wrong ideas about the theme. In retrospect, it all seems so clear. Except for the POET / TIED thing. Not forgiving the cluing nonsense there. You hear me, Robert Browning!? Unforgiven!!

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Lewis 6:22 AM  

I love these JASA class puzzles because it is indeed a result of MIND MELDING. The cluing feels fresh, as it does today, because it comes from the best ideas of many. The theme is clever, as it is today, for the same reason. The execution is excellent, as it is today, because it is mentored by two pros.

And thus the puzzle pops, as it does today. And there were bonuses – three palindromes (SOS, MUM, OTTO), plus a passel of two-syllable-with-the-accent-on-the-first O-enders (OTTO, JACKO, ELMO, SLOMO, NEO, CRISCO). Sorry, AGO.

Sometimes something designed by a committee can turn out fresh and beautiful! Thank you, AK, NL, and JASA!

Joaquin 6:53 AM  

The theme was pretty impressive, once you figure it out (or, as in my case, read Deb Amlen’s notes which explains it).

Had I known that Wise is a chip brand it wouldn’t have helped; never heard of UTZ brand either. I frequently look like an UTZ when I overload my chip with nacho cheese and it drips all over (or maybe that’s a klutz … or putz …probably both).

David in Brevard 6:54 AM  

Happy Inauguration Day Y’all

This was a nice quality puzzle that I completed in about average time for a Wednesday so cannot complain. I started and finished in the NW with CGI as a gimme but then SOS and ART stalled me with my lack of kitchen knowledge and tricksy clueing. ISTME didn’t help!

I picked up the theme around MATCHGAME (which I have NEVER heard of, promise) and liked it. I agree on ALTOONA and still am not sure where it is :-)

ABC coulda been NBC and then WTA vs WTN… WTF? Anyone else agree that ORIONS is a strange word to write in… I kept wanting to correct it by putting another N in there.

Yep…. agree with Rex on most of this and a good puzzle for Inaug Day.

Stay safe y’all

David in Western North Carolina.

SouthsideJohnny 7:16 AM  

Absolutely seemed tougher than the usual Wednesday fare. In fact, maybe as recently as two years ago I would have had zero chance with this one. In a testament to how far my solving skills have developed, I was able to parse through cross after cross and discern what looked like plausible theme entries (as is frequently the case, I never did suss out the theme and had to read OFL’s explanation again, lol).

There are (at least) two areas where this one crosses the line into Natick territory - (1) REY crossing SKYE - marvelous, a foreign word crossing a random island name, so let’s see, there are like a billion foreign words and maybe a million islands on the planet. So, statistically that’s 1 billionth x 1 millionth (I believe it’s binomial) which is pretty much rounds to infinitesimal, and (2) NICK crossing SNIPE, which is a tad less egregious as it’s just foreign slang crossing a weird bird (or is that an odd duck).

Looks like REY may be full-blown crosswordese - I got burned by the French word for king a week or two ago (ROO or ROI or something like that) so when I saw the R in the Spanish version I knew I had to just start guessing. I need to start writing this stuff down on index cards (would that be considered cheating in the future ?).

Oh well, I fought my way through it, completed all but two squares, got lucky on my guess at SNIPE and was done in by Natick number (1).

OffTheGrid 7:24 AM  

This was a fine puzzle. I caught on (partially) pretty early and went after the idea of states because the city names alone meant nothing. I saw MIND and was looking for the states at the beginning of each theme answer. I finally saw that the placement in the answers had no pattern. My only criticism is that each theme answer contained one or more states in addition to the "united states" suggested by the cities.





amyyanni 7:28 AM  

Yes, Happy Inauguration Day! The mini observes it, too.
Totally agree with Rex on TIED. Otherwise, no complaints and the theme helped me out a time or two. Surprisingly more fun than usual on a Wednesday.

Guilherme Gama 7:32 AM  

I disagree, didn't really feel like a Thursday. I'm relatively new to this (been doing the NYT on and off for like 5 years) but as I see it, the Thursday gimmick is always something that *hinders* your ability to do the puzzle unless you figure it out. Here, you could've removed the bracketed hints altogether and the puzzle would've been 100% solvable.

David Sinclair 7:34 AM  

The theme didn’t help me solve, but was a fun a-ha moment when I was done. Really enjoyed this one. Today is not a day for cranky pants.

Stimpson 7:34 AM  

@Joaquin - I wouldn't know UTZ either unless I had spent some years in Chicagoland. Excellent chips that seem to be almost exclusive to the upper midwest. I have been able to get them a few times in NYC of late.

ChuckD 7:43 AM  

I liked this one fine. We’ve seen the state abbreviation theme before - but this variant seems fresh. Even with a bunch of short stuff - I thought the overall cluing was sparkly. All the long downs were solid - liked the CASTANETS and GROOMSMEN stack.

Little side eye to the WTA x ABC crossing and JACKO can jack off for all I care. Loved the Celtic lean and have visited both SKYE and TARA. Skryne is a tiny town near the the hill that has a castle of its own. Beautiful place.

Nice start to a snowy Wednesday.

Anonymous 7:43 AM  
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
pabloinnh 7:51 AM  

I'm sure I've seen a similar use of state's initials like this before, but I think they were in the same square. I count remembering this at all as some kind of achievement, BTW. Anyway, I caught on at the GA/ME ending of MATCHGAME, which made me think the two states would be at the end of the answer, which was no help because the next time I tried it was in WINEPAIRING, which I wanted to end in WINE, which I knew couldn't work because REY, which was a gimme (hola SoJo).

Agree with OFL on 1A being way too general, could have been (almost) any four letter noun. Also agree on TIED being just wrong for "one up". I guess you could say the score is "one up", but please don't.

Mostly found this to be a fun solve, so thanks guys. I've seen NL's work as Saturday Stumpers and he can be a real challenge. Well done, all of you.

Happy New Year, everyone. Hope things start to improve immediately.

D. Niall 7:51 AM  

Once again, a serial child rapist makes it into the puzzle, and not a peep.

Anonymous 7:54 AM  

@Stimpson 7:34AM

UTZ is based in Hanover PA and are available all over the Eastern Seaboard as well as the Midwest.

Pennsylvania produces the best potatoes for potato chips, not Idaho.

Idaho potatoes are best for french fries and baking.

bocamp 8:04 AM  

Thank you, @Natan, @Andy, and @J.A.S.A Crossword Class, a very crunchy and challenging puzzle.

Tough solve. Above my pay grade for a Wednes.; better served on Thurs. for me.

Nothing new except "utz" and "Sidra", but just couldn't get untracked; felt like I was in "slo-mo". Had to scrap for almost every answer; nevertheless, a very worthwhile effort. Can't say it was enjoyable at the time, but definitely rewarding at the end.

Hooray for the "Red, White, and Blue" ~ The Voices of Liberty - Disneyland

"Snipe" hunts were always a fun thing at camp. Here snipe snipe, here snipe. :)

yd pg -2

Peace Tolerance Kindness Togetherness 🕊

Karl Grouch 8:04 AM  

Oh Bernie, where art thou?"

Z 8:07 AM  

Reading the first theme clue parenthetical as “Detroit, Faygo” didn’t help. Faygo, Vernors, Better Made Chips, I was momentarily transported to Detroit Junk Food Heaven. Even with that it seems I was confused for less time than Rex. What was confusing to me is that J.A.S.A. puzzles usually are fresh, so recycling the “make two letter postal abbreviations into words” conceit was unexpected. The UNITED part was a nice twist, but I still had a feeling of “been there done that” while solving. Also, I had the niggling nit that two themers are THE UNITED STATES and two are THE STATES UNITED. Two of each makes this the minorest of minor nits, but still it niggles.

Having god as a POEm seems more Eastern Religion to me while POET seems much more in the western tradition of, “and on the eighth day recreated god in man’s image.” Hand up for wondering what the heck mEID was. I have heard “x number up” to mean TIED so not that many nanoseconds wasted, I was just resistant to fixing it because I liked POEm better.

GROOMSMEN? I guess that S serves as a possessive and not a plural, so it’s not the same as writing “attorneys generals.” Still, I Mused.

Hungry Mother 8:09 AM  

Faster than usual here. I liked the theme and it helped a bit.

albatross shell 8:17 AM  

UTZ  potato chips. Just had some Grandma UTZ kettle cooked.  I'm a big fan of kettle cooked. Grandma's are made with lard and cut a a tad  thick.  Never cared for Wise's at all or Lay's. Utz is located in Hanover PA. Fairly close to York without  Roman walls, but with the Barbell man.

And over to the  east is Easton which is near Bethlehem without the virgin birth,  Nazareth without the divine carpenter, Bath without the Roman ruins,  and Belfast that never was near The Titantic.

Very nice uses of esses in the puzzle.  I trust @Anoa Bob will agree.

I trust the MELDING, MATCHing,  JOIN(T)ing, and PAIRING  of the states caused none any PAIN, not to mention the COLLISIONS and the UNITING (Good luck, Joe).

I liked the INN and ANN symmetry plus KEN'S contribution of paired clues.  And OBROTHER  ITSME.  Sequel movie?

MUM and OTTO another matched pair. SOS maybe too. (Again good luck Joe).

So yes I had a good time and not a fast solve. Hope other's had their desires filled.

RooMonster 8:18 AM  

Hey All !
Hmm. Seems y'all liked this. As is often the case, I too like pretty much every puz. This one was less liked by me. Why? Not really sure, but possibly because the [City-State] thing was extraneous. Maybe if they clued the themers as just the longer word, with funny/punny clues, and Then put the [City] in, making you guess what the phrase would be, would make more sense. As in, 15A maybe clued something like, "Combining, on Vulcan?" Otherwise for me, theme doesn't really work as well with the actual phrase clued, which just happens to have two UNITED STATES Abbrs.

And this was done by multiple people. Two constructors, and a class for constructing, and they couldn't find a way to get rid of the NW/SE three corner block cheaters? Inelegant, to my eyes.

That negativity aside, the puz was slightly crunchy in the cluing. The NE/SW Long Downs were nice. OHBROTHER fun. We had UTZ in NorthEast PA growing up. Of course, being young, we would say, "UTZ for the putz!" and laugh at ourselves for being so clever. CASTANETS seems to be screaming out for a double-consonant somewhere in it. And freakin' ELMO, what hasn't he/it done? Har.

Sorry this one didn't hit my puzzle-bone. It happens occasionally. (Puzzle-bone is Rated G, BTW) :-)

And No F's - Dang

king_yeti 8:22 AM  

LAIN is past participle not simply past tense

Joe Welling 8:27 AM  

So NYT is embracing "TRICEP" rather than TRICEPS, I guess. :(

mmorgan 8:38 AM  

Maybe it’s because I play(ed) a lot of ping pong, but 1UP is a natural way of saying TIED to me. I think my favorite potato chips are Wise but i really really like the UTZ salt free ones. I got thrown a bit by some state pairs coming at the beginning and others at the end (so I was trying to start 22A with GAME) but I dealt with it. I actually liked the fact that they didn’t use state capitols. Rex’s write up seemed unusually long and detailed today, which was interesting. Enjoyed the puzzle!

Z 8:54 AM  

CASTANETS (Last time I linked to the Austin City Limits super band version - this one is more stripped down)

@D. Niall - Yeah. Seems like that nickname should be retired from constructors’ word list. Google didn’t turn up any crossworthy alternative clues.

@Stimpson - I don’t know about that “Upper Midwest” assertion. Jays and Better Made have always been available in Michigan, but I never saw UTZ until I moved to WNC.

@Joe Welling - C’Mon man - we’re trying not to have this discussion a third time.

CDilly52 8:54 AM  

Yikes! This puzzle solved on “auto pilot” for me. I often have great Karma with these delightful JASA collaborations, perhaps because I. Am. Aging. Actually, everyone who is alive is aging, but I truly appreciate JASA’s attempt not to attach a potentially negative connotation to the “older than the average bear” (although certainly becoming more average as the majority of our population moves in the “aging” direction (as in “senior” or is already there, like me.

Anyhoo, I blazed through this just typing as fast as my thumbs could go and was gobsmacked - absolutely gobsmacked when the reveal clue highlighted all the other answers in yellow as is the drill with the NYTXW app. Despite some WINE PAIRING done last evening (a lovely Lodi Zin) to go with my fascinating book by Robert Behr entitled “Roaming Catholics,” and to mellow out some of my JOINT PAIN occasioned by a flare of my autoimmune stuff, I was nonetheless MIND MELDING with our wonderful group of constructors, I opted not to stop and figure out what the theme meant until I finished - in record Wednesday time, I might add.

Glad I didn’t stop to suss out the theme during my solve. I very likely would have set another record-for longest solve, though! Took me way too long to get it. The group so cleverly employed absolutely disconnected phrases as theme answers and the word with the state references was not always the first or second word. Great work! Add to that my failure (hmmm, a bit too much of the grape?) to notice the city references at the end of the theme clues and the Simpsonian “Doh!” came excessively slowly through my sleepy, foggy brain. Hopefully after the inauguration is complete, I will be able to nap like my cats.

Fine Wednesday that played more like Thursday but was oh so enjoyable. Thanks to one and all but especially tot the JASA class. And thanks to the class and it’s professor and the administration for keeping the Zoom platform to open up for more remote folk. So thoughtful and a wonderful example of things we learned during this hideous pandemic that we will continue to do after we vanquish the virus!

kitshef 9:02 AM  

Definitely appreciate the extra level on the theme, although MATCH doesn’t quite seem to fit.

A nice, playful effort overall. After the solve I looked to see the constructor and was not surprised. The JASA classes are often punny in their clues.

I do wish the crossing initialisms (WTA/ABC and TSA/EMT) had been avoided. Clue ABC as ‘alphabet run’ and change TSA to OSA gets you there.

Can we just agree that half of us will never accept TRICEP, and have of us already have accepted it, and move on?

PS I saw a SNIPE last week – my first.

Spatenau 9:03 AM  

@Joe Welling, if the NYT were "embracing" BICEP, they wouldn't have labeled it "informal."

Jess 9:05 AM  

I'm the weirdo who couldn't figure out most of the crosses, but immediately got the theme (but that didn't help me with the MATCH part of MATCHGAME). The theme was....fine. Like a commenter above, I thought it was weird that each themer had three states in it, but only two were mentioned in the clue. I think there could have been a much better payoff with different clueing.

ACAI does not look like a blueberry. Like, google it and you'll see lots of things that look like blueberries, but that's because most acai recipes also have blueberries on top.

CASTANET was cool. I wished for more political clueing for ONEPERCENT.

KnittyContessa 9:24 AM  

This felt like an easy Wednesday. I solved it while watching Trump's parting remarks as he boarded Air Force One for the last time to the tune of YMCA. Now THAT'S a puzzle.

Happy Inauguration Day.

Smith 9:25 AM  

Easy solve, themeless for me (did not get the state PAIRING until coming here). KEN and ANN, speaking of unlikely pairs... Isle of dogs before SKYE, but REY fixed that (hi, Pablo!).

Happy Inauguration Day to all!!

albatross shell 9:30 AM  

Talking scores: The score is one-up here in the 5th inning means it's tied or one all. The Yankees are one up in the fifth inning means the Yankees are ahead by one run whatever the score is. It's speech. There can be some confusion. I have been confused by some basketball announcers who use this languge.

Richard 9:31 AM  

Just watched Voldemort fly off into the sunset, or more appropriately this morning, the fog, before settling into this puzzle.

As OFL said, it solved more like a mediumish themeless. My problem with the conceit is that if "postal codes" is the theme, then most of the answers contain not only the states hinted at by the clue, but others as well. For example, 57A has not only WI (Wisconsin) and NE (Nebraska), but also PA (Pennsylvania), IN (Indiana) and RI (Rhode Island). And that's just one answer. See also 15A: MI (Michigan), ND (North Dakota), ME (Maine) and IN (Indiana). There's a ton of others. True, some of them are not "united," but seems a little sloppy as a theme. Nevertheless, a satisfying exercise overall.

Jon88 9:32 AM  

Anybody else bothered by the ROKU clue? Especially given the (more correct?) clue in today's Mini? Is a streaming device a media player?

G. Weissman 9:33 AM  

Getting the answer to 17 across summed up this puzzle for me: once I got UTZ and googled to see what it could possibly mean, I realized that this puzzle would be a waste of time for me. If I had any doubts, ANN resolved them. Some shoddy clues and short fill. Having read the write up, I feel no regrets.

Richard 9:33 AM  

Sorry @OffTheGrid. Didn't see your comment before I posted. You beat me to it.

Nancy 9:57 AM  

I love them, too, @Lewis (top of the blog today), and I was racing down here to say so when I saw your comment. If memory serves, J.A.S.A. is a class not of very young people but of somewhat old people. It sure sounds like a fun class, doesn't it, and there are actually successful constructors that the NYT publishes who I'd like to send over there to have their cluing livened up. (They shall go nameless of course.)

Lots of nice clues: MUM; SLO-MO (I had SCOPE first); RECEIVING; KNOT (which snookered me for a while with the "Granny" clue); NICK (I didn't know that, even though I've read a lot of Agatha Christie); and an interesting tidbit of info about the omnipresent ELMO. (He's ONO and the OONA of Muppetry, isn't he?)

A word on POET -- also well-clued. I guessed it with no crosses because it sounded just like something a poet like Browning would say.

And now for a political observation. MEIR was the "Iron Lady" of Israeli politics? As Thatcher was the "Iron Lady" of British politics? Are all successful female politicians so dubbed by threatened men? Other than OTTO van Bismarck, "The Iron Chancellor", I can't think of any other "Iron" male politicians. I guess that's because when men behave with steely resolve, it's just the way Nature intends, indeed wants them to behave.

Political observation over. A delightful puzzle that was playful and that required thinking. A nice combination.

Rich Glauber 10:02 AM  

The only remotely difficult part of this puzzle was trying to figure out what the hell the gimmick was that would supposedly help us solve it. Never did figure it out, didn't matter much as the long answers were quite easy. Fast time, useless gimmick IMHO

What? 10:15 AM  

Seems like most people like this a lot - I didn’t. I just zipped through it - no challenge and so really boring.
At noon today time to celebrate - too early for champagne so I’m going to have a glass of milk and some chocolate mallomars.

GILL I. 10:17 AM  

I'm going to join @CDilly and her auto pilot Karma. I did a little breeze through but then I did hit some CRISCO, UTZ moments. The only potato chips that grace these lips is Kettle Brand Potato Chips with sea salt and vinegar. No UTZ nacho cheese drips sitting with @Joaquin. :-)
Maybe I'm giddy happy and hope that I never see the likes of 45 ever again in my THE UNITED STATES.
@Rex's POEM vs POET made me laugh. Especially "God scribbling at his desk."
I'm now going to watch the "Swearing In" ceremony and smile.
See you later.

EdFromHackensack 10:18 AM  

REY/SKYE got me . Great puzzle though. God Bless America and at least thatOrange Idiot is out of the White House

wrollinson 10:24 AM  

I thought this was a great theme... very clever... so nice the see various states UNITED (via MELDING, MATCHING, JOINING, or PAIRING) after 4 years of division until tRump... the perfect puzzle for today!

Sir Hillary 10:27 AM  

I don't know about this one. I guess the idea is "Yay, THEUNITEDSTATES!" since it's Inauguration Day, but it makes me sad that we seem anything but UNITED these days. Also, there must be hundreds of four-letter words consisting of postal codes (including a standalone example at 33A), so the ones picked better be really good. They're not. @OffTheGrid nails another shortcoming -- the presence of additional postal codes in the themers. I found this quite annoying -- are these STATES somehow not UNITED?

No issue with the fill -- in fact the long downs are quite good. I love OHBROTHER and CASTANETS (@Z -- I thought immediately of Sheila E's uncle when I wrote that answer. And timely too -- I like the outgoing regime better when they walk away.)

Is a WOK a cooking utensil, or is it a cooking vessel? I vote the latter.

Overall, a laudable idea on a day when I feel great relief, but the puzzle itself didn't quite do it for me.

mathgent 10:34 AM  

Jeff Chen complained that the theme has been overdone. But some here say that they weren't able to figure it out on their own. More proof that Jeff doesn't look at a puzzle from the solver's point of view.

Mr. Last and Mr. Kravitz are top pros and yet they allow their class to produce a puzzle with 25 threes. At one time editors wouldn't accept a puzzle with more than 20.

I liked the theme although MATCHGAME is shaky.

We don't get either Wise or UTZ chips out here. I would have preferred a clue pointing to UTZ's meaning in Yiddish. I love Yiddish words.

I learned that f/x is short for special effects. I also learned where the name CRISCO comes from. Picking up little tidbits like that is nice.

Donnie Jarold 10:34 AM  

How is MSG an ingredient in Accent?

albatross shell 10:36 AM  

There was a strict pattern to the states mentioned in the clues. They were always both in the 4 letter words accompanying the uniting term in the answer. I assumed people noticed this, but maybe not? MIND GAME PAIN WINE. Choosing answers with no other states in the second word of the answer? Yeah, good luck with that.

If you do not know Altoona you probably do not know trains (famous horseshoe bend) or the movie Diamond Men with Robert Forster, a fine actor in a fine movie.

Whatsername 10:37 AM  

Agree with Rex harder than usual, a challenge for a Wednesday. I solved as a seamless and had no idea what the clues with the names of the cities were supposed to mean, still don’t. I do like THE UNITED STATES being front and center on this historic day for our country.

I am late and distracted this morning from watching all the pomp and ceremony on TV. What a glorious day it is! Let the era of healing begin. ASAP.

Unknown 10:37 AM  

Started off slow but once I grokked the theme it all nicely clicked into place.
Any puzzle that references BJK gets two thumbs up in my book.
Not surprised that rex was all grumpy about it.

@ What 10:15 Pop that champagne. Who cares that it's noon time? It's time to celebrate! Ignore those silly rules. If we've learned anything over the past year, it's that life is short.

Anonymous 10:40 AM  

watch your mouth. Maine is Potato Land, and has been before fish belly White people made it to Idaho. most potatoes are Russet, so good for baking. Yukons are the best jack-of-all-trades spud. the debate rages:

as to the 'theme', hard to see how identifying two random postal state codes in random positions in the answer is much help. ignored theme.

R Duke 10:41 AM  

Utz chips have only been around Chicago for a couple years. I first tried them on a trip to Maryland about 10 years ago. Speaking of MD, Utz makes a “Crab Chip” seasoned with Chesapeake Bay crab seasoning. Good stuff!

Z 10:52 AM  

Are StYEs while in SKYE less irritating? Isle of SKYE appears almost as often as the eye affliction so file it away for future puzzles.

@Nancy - Sexism in politics? It’s almost as if sexism in politics might be lethal to a half million Americans.

@Jon88 - What do you think a “streaming device” streams? Not all media players are streaming devices, but I would argue that all streaming devices are media players.

KEN and ANN? I thought KEN was gay? And where is Barbie? Don’t tell me she is the “Barb” running “Accidental Renaissance.” Although, TBF, Barbie might have a special interest in Mannerism....*

Did you hear the news? Mar-A-Logo is the new home of the Rye Marina and wooden roller coaster!

*Where High Renaissance art emphasizes proportion, balance, and ideal beauty, Mannerism exaggerates such qualities, often resulting in compositions that are asymmetrical or unnaturally elegant. - From Wikipedia
I know, if I feel the need to explain the joke it’s probably not that funny.

OffTheGrid 10:52 AM  

@Richard. No problem. In fact, I missed RI in 57A.

Newboy 10:54 AM  

I sorta recall a Sunday (?) puz several years back (maybe) that did state abbrev. as rebus entries, but the longer UNITED word to blend the four letter STATES seemed a fresh take. Mostly liked it though JOINT PAIN had me reaching for the Volteran. Also thought ANN & KEN were probably getting a tad too close in their raggedy cluing for Barbie’s comfort....can this MATCH GAME survive? Thanks Nathan and Andy for keeping those whippersnappers off the streets (and my lawn) so that one day they can supplant Mr Shortz and bring a smile at last to Rex’s pursed lips.

Sir Hillary 10:56 AM  

OK, based on @albatross shell's 10:36am post, I need to rethink my verdict. Neither during my solve nor in reading any commentary here did I latch on to the fact that MELDING, MATCH, JOINT and PAIRING evoke UNITED. Realizing that now, I withdraw my objections. :)

Z 11:09 AM  

@Sir Hillary - I did not realize how apt CASTANETS is today until you pointed it out.
Also, like my media player comment above, I think all cooking vessels qualify as cooking utensils: An implement or container used domestically, especially in a kitchen - American Heritage Dictionary. The example sentence there seems to imply pots and pans.

@mathgent - I am usually not on the same wavelength as Chen, but I agree that this particular conceit has been overdone. I think (I haven’t looked them up) that each has given us a different twist, but just because the conceit confused people doesn’t undo the fact that the conceit has been done at least a couple of times before.

@Donnie Jarold - I think the clue was the ingredient. If your grocer stocks Accent™️ I think you will find that it is just MSG, Monosodium Glutamate. I haven’t seen an Accent™️ ad in decades and I couldn’t tell you if my grocer stocks it, so this might very well be a product not well known to the under 60 crowd.

Nancy 11:11 AM  

Put me squarely in the camp of those on the blog who can't handle champagne in the morning. But I should be home from my 1:40 PT appt by 3:00 and I might indulge in either a celebratory Martini or an ersatz Bloody Mary. An ersatz Blood Mary -- invented by me one Sunday when I was out of tomato juice and a Bloody Mary was calling to me -- consists of everything you'd put in a Bloody other than tomato juice. A generous amount of Vodka over ice, white horseradish, Worcestershire Sauce, Tabasco Sauce and freshly squeezed lemon. Trust me, you won't miss the tomato sauce.

Speaking of my PT appointment: I have to leave the house at 1:10. The swearing-in is at noon. Question: Will Biden be finished with his Inaugural speech by the time I leave? I'm taking bets.

Fortunately, I found a TV Channel that breaks down its coverage into hourly segments, so I recorded the MSNBC channel starting at 1 p.m. (Everyone else runs their coverage from 9 a.m. on without interruption and so I missed my chance to record.)

Less than one more hour to go and THE UNITED STATES still stands!!! It wobbles more than a bit, admittedly, but our republic still stands, and lots of Republicans, including even Lindsay Graham and Jim Jorden and Ted Cruz, will be at the swearing-in. A slightly hopeful sign or a very hopeful sign? We shall see. But in any event, later on today I will definitely be hoisting a glass or two.

A 11:13 AM  

Happy Happy Day!

Glad I didn’t try to discern the theme until I was done, otherwise I’d have tripped over my own brain ala OFL. Went back through and saw the two STATES UNITED in one word and that was all until I read Rex.

POEm was my first thought too (and I agree with Rex that it’s better) but as I was typing I remembered Browning probably would go with the POET being more important than the POEm.

A few fun clues, like “one might be deviled” and “Granny.” Some less so, like “Kind of milk” which was so direct I was misdirected.

Most fun was seeing the OHB_____ and saying to myself “OH please let it be OHBaloney!” I think I was encouraged by the SPAM up north. But the REINERs wouldn’t allow it.

Nice nod to Joe with the Irish mini theme.

burtonkd 11:15 AM  

@ Nancy - It seems if your name is Mike, you can be "iron". Iron Mike Ditka of the Chicago Bears, and Iron Mike Tyson, the boxer (plus an earlier boxer named Mike who claims he invented the nickname and sued).
Lou Gehrig, the Iron Horse
of course, there's Iron Man in the MCU.

Hands up for POEM, led me to consider COLLuSION. May inauguration lead to never hearing that "No Collusion!" again. Nice to see another sense of ONEPERCENT.

Tom R 11:20 AM  

I guess I am just dense. Even after the explanation(s) I still don't have any idea on how the theme works. Its total noise to me. And, you definitely don't need a theme clue to put the fill together. Overall, a typical Themeless Tuesday for me.

Donnie Jarold 11:58 AM  

Thanks. Had never heard of that product.

Anonymoose 12:25 PM  

@Nancy. Almost an hour to spare.

Z 12:27 PM  

Well, okay, Amanda Gorman just made sense of 1A.

Z 12:34 PM  

@Tom R - MIND MELDING can be broken into three parts. First, MI, the postal code for MIchigan, where Detroit is a city; second, ND for Fargo, North Dakota; and third MELDING, a synonym for “UNITing”. So MIND MELDING answers both the clue but is also an example of UNITED STATES.
Does that help?

DevoutAtheist 12:37 PM  

My god (so to speak). The benediction was twice as long as Joe's speech. Listen, I loved what happened today so I am not at all upset. But observationally, there was a lot of religion in today's proceedings. Bless America! And all of you.

Masked and Anonymous 12:59 PM  

Classy constructioneerin efforts. Red white and blue day, indeed.

Could almost give this puz the tagline "OH BROTHERs".

fave sparkle spots: OHBROTHER. PONZI. ROKU. KICK & PUNT.

The two ?-marker clues were eerily gimmes:
* {Lie in the past?} = LAIN.
* {Self proclamation?} = ITSME.

Other somewhat better puzclues, feistiness-wise:
* {Little matter} = ATOM.
* {One up, for example} = TIED.
* {Seat of Irish Kings} = TARA.

Also, kudos to the dolled-up clues for ANN (7-D) & KEN (61-A).

staff weeject pick: WOK. Scrabbly member of the primo double-weeject-stacks in the NE & SW.

M&A evidently mind-melded to the theme mcguffin a lot sooner than @RP did. Suspected it at 15-A, confirmed it at 22-A. Kinda liked it, especially on this particular date in history. Not capital Baton Rouge/Augusta-ish, at all.

Thanx for gangin up on us wholesale, everybody in that there JASA class.

Masked & Anonymo3Us


Nancy 1:06 PM  

@Devout Atheist (12:37)-- Just remember the crusty old ex-president chiding the agnostic presidential candidate in what was the very best line from Gore Vidal's "The Best Man":

"In my day, we poured God over everything like ketchup."

albatross shell 1:07 PM  

Does it niggle you any less to notice that the United States answers are the puzzle-symmetric 9 letter, long A answers; and the States Uniting answers are the puzzle-symmetric 11 letter, long I answers.

No? Well then, niggle, niggle.

Seth 1:10 PM  

What on earth does the clue for MUM mean?

"Shh ... it's the word!"

newbie 1:10 PM  

I liked the nod to the inauguration's theme "America United," not only in the Crossword, but also in the Mini (as was already mentioned) and even in Vertex (a tribute to Lady Liberty). Never got the states in this though. Had to go go back twice even after Rex explained it. Managed to solve without it, however.

Had no problem with God being a poet - after all, why not? Besides, this was Browning's thought, not mine (or Rex's) - and it's in poetry, not theology. Had trouble with Sidra, collisions and slo mo but felt like a genius when I finally got them. Was helped by getting all the theme answers pretty easily.

Had the same thoughts as Rex about one up/one all/tied. Got one percent but it confused me because it seemed as if it should have been a themer.

Enjoyed the puzzle very much. Enjoying inauguration day as well!

RJA 1:25 PM  

One up - blech, not a great clue...but, I think it derives from "even up" - which probably comes from evening something a food portion among my combative then morphs to meaning the score is even....then 1 up...2 up.....etc.

There are better ways to clue tied...something involving the current Senate would be timely...maybe that's too much to ask for. No gruel for me.

As you were.

JC66 1:33 PM  


Long ago, when you were telling someone something that you wanted kept secret, you might have prefaced it by saying "MUMs the word."

albatross shell 1:39 PM  

No CASTANETS here but a great performance from The Bobo. Flamenco in A shot in the Dark also, but this is the better one. Try the Russian dance in in that movie.

Wanderlust 1:52 PM  

I thought this theme was very good, but one small nudge would have made it great as a tribute to an inauguration say in which President Biden (damn it feels good to say that!) repeatedly invoked the need for unity at a time when we have never seemed to be so polarized between blue and red. When I grokked the theme, I thought each “union” would be between a red state and a blue one. Three were: Michigan (blue) and North Dakota (red); Pennsylvania (blue) and Indiana (red); and Wisconsin (blue) and Nebraska (red). But Georgia and Maine are both blue, though Georgia just barely (Yay!). I would have liked it a little better if each one had united a blue state with a red one - as Joe would have, I think.

Otherwise, I agree with Rex on ONEUP, but not on his other rants, including on POET. I like learning things in crosswords, which Rex seems to hate.

Pete 1:54 PM  

@Z 12:27 You got a point there. Also, whoever braided her hair was an artist.

A 1:58 PM  

I had a thought and found something of interest: the states featured are, in terms of the 2020 election, an even mix of red, white and blue (white being ME and NE, which had electors for both parties and are shown as white with insets on an electoral map. Intentional or coincidental?

Barbara S. 2:22 PM  

Does anyone -- @Nancy, maybe -- or anyone else know where specifically in Browning's work that line about God being the perfect poet can be found? I've been looking (while watching the Inauguration) but so far no luck.

Anonymous 2:22 PM  

iubentium, XLVI

sixtyni yogini 2:30 PM  

Ditto Rex!
Happy Inauguration Day ! And outbreath day, and recovery day!

jberg 2:56 PM  

Count me among those who missed the part of the theme where the non-united-states words all meant "united." Thanks, @albatross shell, that was nice to see.

Anyway, I got MIND MELDING and just dove down the rabbithole of starting every theme answer with the states -- giving me gAme_GAME at 22A. I could see that something was wrong, but what? Finally, I had enough crosses to see CRISCO, and it fell into place.

And only just now did I notice ONE PERCENT in the grid (I mean, I'd put it in but forgotten it), so now I see what @karl grouch was getting at.

@Nancy, as you probably know by now, they started the ceremony early; everybody was sworn in by noon, so it was all done by 1 -- at least most of it, though I hope you got to see Amanda Gordon. (Fun fact: she has already announced that she is a candidate for President in 2036; there was a hint of that in the poem.)

I was wondering who JACKO was, but I gather from the comments --yech.

Isn't there an actress who took her stage name from SKYE and another of the Hebrides, Ione? I've seen her in puzzles, though never anywhere else.

bocamp 3:09 PM  

@Barbara S. 2:22 PM

As far as I can tell, it derives from the title of one of his books: The Ring and the Book: "God is the perfect poet". I've searched my copy of the book and don't find any mention other than on the cover. Hope this helps. :)


I followed your lead and had exactly the same experience with Tim Croce's Freestyle 579 as you did. Spread out over a few days, it finally came together. The SE was the toughest part for me. Thx for this heads-up! :)

pg -3

Peace Tolerance Kindness Togetherness 🕊

albatross shell 3:13 PM  

@Barbara S.
That narrows it down to a couple hundred pages.

albatross shell 3:17 PM  

@seth 110pm
MUM's the word.

Z 3:20 PM  

@jberg - You are thinking of the actress not seen in this iconic pictorial ode to love/stalking.

@Barbara S - I’m not having much success, either, other than a lot of quote sites saying he said it.

@Albie - Sadly, none of that is a salve for my word order plaint. I wonder if the vowel sound thing was intentional. The constructors’ note over at is, um, parsimonious, so no way of knowing from what they write.

jae 3:28 PM  

Easy-medium. A different twist on state abbreviations is fine by me. Pretty smooth with some nice long downs. Liked it.

I’m with @Rex on ONE UP.

ebpcanimal 3:30 PM  

Natick is generally liberal:

But yesterday I saw this headline:;

albatross shell 3:31 PM  

a trifling complaint, dispute, or criticism.

You must be very tender to need a salve for a niggle.
But as I said niggle niggle.

albatross shell 3:44 PM  


Count: 297

Context: In this long poetic drama, Browning's second publication, the poet turns to the German Renaissance in order to dramatize the aspirations and failures of the famous Paracelsus, alchemist, fraud, and last great practitioner of the occult sciences. In the beginning of this remarkable work, Paracelsus decides that he is tired of teaching, and he tells his friend Festus that he aspires to know all things. Believing that knowledge is the result of experience, and rejecting the soul, he hopes to know infinitely in order to overthrow God, but, as Festus warns, his search is doomed from the beginning because he ignores love that springs from the soul. At his lowest moment of failure, however, he meets the wildeyed Aprile, a poet who has attempted to love infinitely. While the poet has not the knowledge to discriminate between different kinds of beauty, the alchemist can see no beauty at all because he has become a monster that does not know love. Paracelsus realizes that they are 'halves of one dissevered world," but before he can learn Aprile's secret, the poet dies, leaving in the cold alchemist the desire to love. The quotation comes from Aprile's dying vision of the goal he had sought and his discovery that by not learning what the alchemist offers he has failed.

Ha! go you ever girt about
With phantoms, powers? I have created such,
But these seem real as I.
Whom can you see
Through the accursed darkness?
Stay; I know,
I know them: who should know them well as I?
White brows, lit up with glory; poets all!
Let him but live, and I have my reward!
Yes; I see now. God is the perfect poet,
Who in his person acts his own creations.
Had you but told me this at first! . . .

bocamp 3:54 PM  

@Barbara S. 2:22 PM / @albatross shell 3:13 PM

Paracelsus: Part II: Paracelsus Attains. It's almost at the very bottom of the page.


"Yes; I see now. God is the perfect poet,
Who in his person acts his own creations.
Had you but told me this at first! Hush! hush!"

Peace Tolerance Kindness Togetherness 🕊

Doc John 3:59 PM  

And what's wrong with ALTOONA? That's where the world's oldest rollercoaster is (Leap the Dips).

albatross shell 4:01 PM  

Just in case the quote was too long:

Bass 4:03 PM  

I struggled with tied but eventually wondered if it meant "tied one up" as in tying knots to secure someone/something, not a tie as in a tie score??

bocamp 4:03 PM  

@Barbara S. 2:22 PM / @albatross shell 3:13 PM

In case you don't already have this: The Complete Poetic and Dramatic Works of Robert Browning ~ Project Gutenberg.

Peace Tolerance Kindness Togetherness 🕊

Barbara S. 4:16 PM  

Thanks to Browning detectives, @bocamp, @albatross shell and @Z. @albatross shell is right: it's from "Paracelsus, Part II: Paracelsus Attains"

Yes; I see now. God is the perfect poet,
Who in his person acts his own creations...

I guess I have a lot reading to do if I want to place this in some sort of meaningful context. But I'm very glad to know where it's from -- thanks, all.

Nancy 4:35 PM  

@jberg and @Anonymoose -- Yes, I got to see all of the ceremony ahead of my PT appointment. Biden was both succinct and eloquent, as eloquent as I've ever heard him, and I hope the country as a whole will prove worthy of the optimism and magnanimity he displayed.

Lady Gaga changed the rhythms of the national anthem so idiosyncratically and peculiarly that I wondered how the band was able to stay in sync. Worse, she was dressed like a refugee from the Ringling Brothers circus. Who on earth let her leave the house looking like that??? And her makeup was so thick that she won't be able to get it off until 2024.

I am not a fan.

But I did get to hear Amanda. A very impressive poem from an impressive young woman -- expertly and movingly delivered. Usually I'm underwhelmed by most modern poetry -- I stand with Frost in feeling that writing poetry that doesn't rhyme is like playing tennis with the net down -- but I heard plenty of rhyme and near-rhyme in that poem. Only it wasn't in quite the places you'd expect. And so, hard as it was to find, I went searching for the written version online. I wanted to see the poetic structure and line patterns, which are usually easier to pick up when you read a poem yourself rather than have it read to you.

But this is one poem that's actually better when it's read to you. The poem is written in prose-like paragraphs where the rhymes and near-rhymes are much harder to see. It loses much of its power on the page. It's a poem that's meant to be read aloud -- and probably by Amanda who reads it so well. Kudos.

Dr. Jillian 5:01 PM  

Most divisive poem I’ve ever heard. A giant middle finger to 74 million scoundrels who voted for Biden’s opponent. #Unity

kitshef 5:39 PM  

@Barbara S

Still catching up on missed puzzles and just got to last Thursday's puzzle. The information on art was fascinating. Add me to the appreciation gang.

JOHN X 5:46 PM  

It's true! Pennsylvania grows the best potato chip potatoes!

Utz, Wise, and Herr's are the big three but there are many other brands. And when I was growing up there was Charles Chips, based in Baltimore, that delivered potato chip in big cans. When empty, those cans would be re-used for storage and you'd see one in every kitchen or garage in the region storing something else.

Here's a great article that explains it all:

The Story of Pennsylvania Potato Chips

Barbara S. 5:53 PM  

@albatross shell 3:44 & 4:01
Wow, thanks a bunch. You really went above and beyond, and I'm grateful. And beguiled.

Barbara S. 6:26 PM  

Hey, @kitshef, a shout-out to you -- glad you're back.

Z 6:28 PM  

@Albie - My trusty M-W says “niggle” is a verb and includes both senses I meant: 1b - to spend too much effort on minor details, and 3 - Gnaw. It accuses your definition as being “chiefly British” and we all know they don’t speak English over there.

Crimson Devil 6:39 PM  

COLLUSIONISTS is name of dance band at Maralago in Carl Hiaasen’s hilarious Squeeze Me.

albatross shell 6:41 PM  

A return niggle. One up. You play pingpong??

Glen Laker 6:47 PM  

Which Pope are you referring to?

albatross shell 7:24 PM  

I always thought it was PA potato chip makers, not the potatoes. Maybe I'm wrong there. The article was a little off in that quite few of the brands named have abandoned lard or only have one line that still uses lard. And for good reasons. Never liked the burnt "sugar" in Wise and think they are too thin too small too fragile. I live near Middleswarth and the locals here are very loyal. I also like Utz Good's Martin's Hartlley's Bickel's. Do not know Troyer's or Ray's. Dieffenbach's also are good. The article missed those I think.

I discovered Cape Cod potato chips. Bit of a new yuppie microbrewery who push the health faddishness of their chips. But they do make some good chips.

@Barbara S.
Because it was poetry, it was you, and I wanted to know too. I also find false quotes despicable and it was difficult enough to find that I was getting suspicious. As for the quote: I am not sure god has much to do with poetry. Seems more like a human ailment. I think god is more likely and more importantly the only one who can create true randomness, random numbers included.

jae 7:26 PM  

@bocamp - I did Croce’s freestyle #580 this week and had pretty much the same experience that I had with #579 except that I missed it by one square (Hi @Roo). Good luck if you give it a try, It’s nice to have a very tough puzzle to tackle each week now that the Saturday Stumper is no long quite as stumpy.

Z 7:31 PM  

@Albie - That “number-up” to mean TIED, one-up, two-up, three-up, is definitely a phrase I have heard. Interesting that it means TIED in the third person plural, “the two teams are one-up,” but can mean something totally different in the first person, “we were one up at half time.” And then there’s the verb phrase, “debaters try to one-up each other.” It’s almost as if the cluer was being intentionally abstruse.

bocamp 7:52 PM  

@Barbara S. 4:16 PM

Yw; glad you got all the info you needed (and perhaps more. LOL) 😊

@jae 7:26 PM

Thx, I'll give it a go throughout the week. 🤞 I'm getting beat up, mostly on Sunday NYT from '95 & '03. I work thru all of them M-S.

pg -1

Peace Tolerance Kindness Togetherness 🕊

albatross shell 8:05 PM  

I should hope so. Just like using any word with several meanings, or cluing a word that is usually a noun but can be a verb. After Tuesday, I imagine clues may be somewhat abstruse. Makes you think, makes you look at crosses. But are 3 possible interpretations, all somewhat common and all logical and all used in previous puzzles obscure? Wherever you draw the line I wouldn't draw it here. Just clever to me. But draw the your line here and count your niggles. I do not think the clues was being intentionally or unintentionally abstruse. Just making an interesting puzzle. He certainly wasn't thinking I'll drive Rex crazy with this one.

Barbara S. 9:26 PM  

@albatross shell
I like this quotation from C.S. Lewis (from "Reflections on the Psalms"), which seems relevant:

"For poetry too is a little incarnation, giving body to what had been before invisible and inaudible."

albatross shell 11:56 PM  

Well the inaudible and invisible always has a subtle appeal. And as a vain and power-seeking human may want to be god, l suppose a similar god may desire to be human. How are man and god alike? They both bemoan the silence from the other side.

albatross shell 1:53 AM  

Well, the invisible and inaudible always has a subtle appeal. A vain and powerful human might desire to be a god. A similar god might desire to be a human. How are man and god alike? They both bemoan the silence from the other side.

spacecraft 11:06 AM  

Strange that an English professor would not recognize a Browning quote. WE are the poem, dude; Up There, He's the POET. You don't get that?

The "one up" thing, yeah, that one was pretty mean-spirited. I do, however, recall playground basketball, when we'd call "Two up!" meaning "uh-piece" after trading baskets. Heard it, used it--but still not very fair.

They certainly played around with the clues today, didn't they? Tried to take it out of the M-T realm. They succeeded. A bit of midweek crunch for our softened teeth. I had only one snag: in the SW, having nailed the trick some time back, I knew that PAIN was involved. But having the third and fourth letters in place, namely IN, I was convinced that the answer began with PAIN. Wouldn't you? Couldn't get anything to work. It took me a few minutes to see JOINTPAIN, with that sneaky IN right where it should be.

Other than that I had minimal trouble, and found it to be just about average Wednesday difficulty. DOD is Ione SKYE, honorable mention to Ms. MEIR. Birdie.

Burma Shave 11:47 AM  


but she HINTED this MATCHGAME can't wait.
OH,BROTHER! ANN says IT'SME she's sharing


Diana, LIW 12:08 PM  

I got the answers, but I still don't "get it" when it comes to the () clues. And, "frankly Scarlett..." making me wonder if the puzzle was made up by the same fiends who are putting together the vaccination schedules. Not that I'm bitter.

Diana, Lady, Waiting waiting waiting waiting waiting

thefogman 12:12 PM  

I appreciate the effort by J.A.S.A. but the editor should have sent this one back.

Diana, LIW 12:46 PM  

Not sure where my second post landed, but I did get the trick from Bill Butler's site. (about the state postal codes melding)

Lady Di

rondo 4:18 PM  

The JASA Class seems to put out good efforts.
ORIONS belt is really prominent in the night sky right now. Check it out.
The corner letters are just like when I work overtime: I GET COMP.
At least the clue for ONEPERCENT was not annoying.

leftcoaster 4:47 PM  

Well done, but like fried SPAM? No, this is a good one.

Liked the STATES abbreviations idea after finding the starts and ends of the rhyming themers: MIND/WINE, GAME/PAIN. Fav fill: OH BROTHER.

So “Granny” is a KNOT and NICK pilfers, at least by Brits.

Was derailed in the NW (where it tends to happen) by the “perfect” POET and the “Wise” UTZ.

So be it.

leftcoaster 8:02 PM  

@BS -- Another extra-fine one. Nice work.

Anonymous 9:14 PM  

You probably won't see this, because I'm from the future, but as much as I love those Kettle chips, my favorite sea salt and vinegar chips are Miss Vickie's. I'm not sure if they are widely available in California, because I know they are hard to find here in Illinois. They are a Canadian brand, that's now owned by Lay's. When I was in Minnesota, they were widely available there.

sdcheezhd 12:17 AM  

I agree on POET/poem. In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the word was God. The same was in the beginning with God.

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