TV producer Chaiken / THU 1-28-21 / Giant walking combat vehicle in Star Wars films / Golden blades that may be tenderly chew'd by equine or bovine beings / Girl group with 1999 #1 album FanMail / Release as song in modern lingo / Funerary burners

Thursday, January 28, 2021

Constructor: Steve Mossberg

Relative difficulty: Easy


THEME: ily — familiar expressions have their last words turned into adverb (through addition of "ily"), and are clued as if the newly-made adverb referred to the cluing of the pre-adverb part of the sentence. So, in essence, the answers are the clues ... for the clues ... the answers end up describing the ways the theme clues are written:

Theme answers:
  • THE LAST WORDILY (20A: Something directly following a penultimate position — that is to say, diametrically opposed to primary one) (so ... the clue describes THE LAST and the clue is written WORDILY)
  • HOT MESSILY (34A: L iKe aN Ov eN) (so ... the clue describes HOT and the clue is written MESSILY)
  • HAY LOFTILY (39A: Golden blades that may be tenderly chew'd by equine or bovine beings) (clue describes HAY, is written LOFTILY)
  • ALL THAT JAZZILY (53A: The cat's meow, baby. Dig?) (clue describes ALL THAT, is written JAZZILY (is it, though...?)
Word of the Day: crystal jellies (29D: What crystal jellies do when disturbed) —

Aequorea victoria, also sometimes called the crystal jelly, is a bioluminescent hydrozoan jellyfish, or hydromedusa, that is found off the west coast of North America.

The species is best known as the source of two proteins involved in bioluminescence, aequorin, a photoprotein, and green fluorescent protein (GFP). Their discoverers, Osamu Shimomura and colleagues, won the 2008 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for their work on GFP.

• • •

Themes where the clue writing is *everything* are always dicey and usually fall flat because of the editorial voice. You have to be good, and funny, to make stuff like this land, and today, the clues were really off the mark. Forced, awkward, somewhat inaccurate or misleading. I literally heaved a heavy sigh when I got the first themer, as I realized two things. Well three. One, nonsense would be in the grid. Two, we would be in one of these "answers are really the clues" situations, which almost never go well. And three, we would be subject to three more stabs at humorous clue writing, the first of which, wow, did not go well. I'm just gonna type out the first theme clue again, so you can re-experience the magic: "Something directly following a penultimate position ... that is to say, diametrically opposed to a primary one." Awful clue writing is bad enough, but now we get not just a parody of awful clue writing, but a bad parody of it, which takes us from bad to possibly good to nope still bad again. It is painful to read this clue, which I get is the point, but still, painful is painful. If you're going to deliberately subject me to pain, man there had better be relief at the end. And there was not. The clue doesn't even describe THE LAST very well at all. First of all, you would (probably) never have THE LAST in a puzzle all on its own, so cluing it at all is a bizarre idea. Second, this clue doesn't even do that well; it's not "wordy" (which is what it's *supposed* to be) as confusing, inaccurate, and pompous. The clarifying phrase ("that is to say" and following) only obfuscates by using the word "diametrically," which brings shape or the idea of antithesis into the equation, neither of which has anything to do with THE LAST. What does "diameter" have to do with "(the) first" and "(the) last"? "Wordy" does not mean inaccurate or confusing, necessarily. Also, the clue isn't even that wordy relative to clues you see every day in the NYTXW. There are more words in the LEAR clue!!!!!  I guess that makes this clue penultimately wordy, which is by far my favorite thing about this clue now—its ironic self-referentiality. This first theme clue is so important for setting the tone, and it was just so unpleasant. Other theme clues were better, but how could they not be? The whole concept left me pretty cold.


I kinda like the slanginess of HOT MESS and ALL THAT, which at least make the clues in those instances a little interesting. I worry about people not familiar with the expression "ALL THAT," which, yes, is decades old, but still might not be in some people's lexicons (there was a brief unfortunate period in the '90s when "all that and a bag of chips" was a popular expression).  If you somehow missed the emergence of the expression ALL THAT (which OED dates to '89), it just means "something special" (i.e. as the clue says "the cat's meow" ... or "the cat's pajamas," I suppose. They sure liked their cats in the '20s ... or maybe it was one particularly awesome cat and people just lexically freaked out). "Cat's meow" is from the '20s and "Dig?" ... isn't ... and "baby" evokes Austin Powers, so I don't know what era or planet that clue is on, but at least it's entertaining, unlike the HAY LOFTILY clue (39A: Golden blades that may be tenderly chew'd by equine or bovine beings), which honestly sounds exactly like many ordinary NYTXW clues except for the ridiculous elided-e version of "chew'd." And about that: elision like that only happens in poetry, when you need to make the meter come out right (the elided "e" makes "chew'd" definitively one syllable, whereas without the elision, it could be pronounced with two).  In poetry, elision might be "lofty," I guess, but in a prose crossword clue, it's nonsense. This clue and the first one are just cringey, whereas the other two at least have zaniness going for them. The fill, well, you can see, all 3 4 5s, nothing interesting going on. TOSH, ugh, that bit of archaic nonsense (I had BOSH!) crossing LATTE as clued (1D: Drink from a machine) was the worst. You use a machine to make a latte, "From a machine" makes it sound like it's dispensed out of a machine like an ICEE or something. Blargh. TOSH! The venerable AOL / NETZERO pairing tells you exactly how current the fill in this puzzle feels, generally (is NETZERO still a thing!?). But the fill's not bad. Just blah. Well, ONE TO GO is kinda bad. Like yesterday, this one relies entirely on its theme for entertainment. Unlike yesterday, this one couldn't execute the concept well at all. 


Seems possible that the AT-AT / TARTT crossing might've flummoxed someone somewhere, but all the other names seem fairly crossed. That's all for today.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]

130 comments:

Loren Muse Smith 6:53 AM  

I was so confused at first. I put it down and let it stew in the back of my brain. The cleverness of the theme slowly emerged from the smokiness, and I have to say now, Color me impressed. It’s Thursday, so I welcome a challenge like this, a call to sit down and give something a good think.

The way I see it, here's what Steve had to do:

1. Find a noun . . .
A. . .that you can add a Y to make an adjective: JAZZ (Y)
B. . .that is the final word in a common phrase: ALL THAT JAZZ
C. . .that retains its spelling even with the ILY added so that the original phrase taunts you: ALL THAT JAZZILY but not STEPPING STONILY.

2. Remove this noun from the phrase: ALL THAT

3. Take the noun you removed and make it an adverb that modifies the first part of the phrase:
ALL THAT (JAZZILY)

In other words, the clue tells you how to communicate (write) the words ALL THAT in jazzy way.

Honestly, the real work here I bet was coming up with the phrases because they have to be able to stand alone minus that last word. So something like TURN THE OTHER CHEEK doesn’t work since TURN THE OTHER can’t stand alone; it’s not a phrase that you would say CHEEKILY.

I couldn’t come up with even one more. I mean, PARTY BOSS to PARTY BOSSILY could describe that person who’s pressuring everyone to do shots? But that’s all wrong because the four adverbs in the grid describe how the phrase is said or written, not performed.

The theme nouns-cum-adverb here are all four-letter, but I don’t see why they have to be. PIPE, DREAMILY or PIE, CRUSTILY

How ‘bout this one: Clue – “Aw, my cutesy wootesy gluten-free little snoogums of a pantry staple” CORNMEAL, MUSHILY

Several missteps:

“And so on” before AND SUCH
“Bask” before BAKE
“Veep” before AIDE

Nice to have YES crossing AYE.

I’ll leave you with this: RAMS HORN or DRINKING HORN wouldn’t work, either, and I’m too embarrassed even to imagine what those clues would look like. Thanks, and I’ll just show myself out.

Lewis 7:06 AM  

I was absolutely in love with this puzzle several minutes in when it felt like I wasn’t getting anywhere, thinking, it is going to feel SO GOOD when I figure this out!

I was absolutely in love with this puzzle when half of it was filled in, and I still felt like I wasn’t getting anywhere, thinking, oh man, what an aha I’m in for.

When I figured out the theme, it was not only an aha but a “Hah!” as well, especially after that hoot of a clue for HAYLOFTILY.

And after the last square filled in, indeed, due to the cunning cluing, that theme, and the joy of the journey, I remained absolutely in love with this puzzle. Steve, fantastic debut, and I will remember your name. In my book, you have arrived, and thank you for a terrific puzzle!

Guy who's actually been in a hayloft 7:07 AM  

Hay isn't golden, it's green if it's good, dull brown if it's not. Straw is golden, bout there are no blades in straw.

Lewis 7:08 AM  

@loren -- Re missteps, I had NOdES before NOSES for [Common congestion points].

kitshef 7:17 AM  

Yesterday’s theme was really good. Today’s is brilliant. Puzzle of the year candidate.

The clue for HAYLOFTILY alone is worth the cost of the annual subscription.

Yet my favorite to contemplate is the clue for 8D: Mistakke, of a sort. Is the clue accurate? If you answer yes, then you are saying that “mistakke” is a typo. Which means you think it should have read “mistake”. But if it had said “mistake”, then there would be no typo.

Putting it another way, clearly the constructor intentionally submitted the puzzle with “mistakke” in the clue. Which means it’s not a typo, and the clue negates itself. Theres’s something very Goedelian going on there.

Clumsy 7:23 AM  

I'm all thumbs down on this one.

TTrimble 7:27 AM  

I much preferred @Loren Muse Smith's explanation over Rex's, both for its clarity and its tone.

This was a bit of a slog for me -- it seemed nothing came easily. For example, the 90s clue: I had the letters AGE from the down clues, and now 90s could refer to an AGE either in the sense of longevity or of an era, so I was not expecting A AVERAGE. In place of TERA I first had pEtA, thinking that p would be part of "Hep" or "Hip" for the hackneyed-sounding cool cat clue. The whole puzzle felt like that. (And yes, like Rex I had bOSH at first.)

Maybe I'll just leave it at that.

Anonymous 7:30 AM  

It's only Jan. 28 but this has to be considered a strong contender for WPOTY.

Joaquin 7:37 AM  

I don’t know about anyone else, but I’m counting this as my workout for today.

Favorite clue: 57A - Follower of pigs or cows/EIEIO. Fun!
Least favorite: 28D - Number two/AIDE. I have had an aide and been an aide. In neither case was the aide the #2 person on that job. Not even close.

Z 7:49 AM  

I agree with @LMS and Rex. An excellent theme idea absolutely failed by the clue writing. I didn’t notice that the WORDy clue wasn’t even the WORDIest, but that’s about the funniest thing here. The one that irks me the most is JAZZILY. I don’t know about you, but that clue doesn’t evoke JAZZ, it evokes a 1960’s sitcom caricature of JAZZ musicians. Blrrgh.

Every time I see AMAL Clooney in the puzzle I wonder if Shortz’s bruises have healed since cluing her as George’s wife.

Rex mentioning “ALL THAT and a bag of chips” makes me wonder if he listens to The Dan Lebatard Show with Stugotz, where Ron Magill used the phrase this past Tuesday (link is to the T-shirt). It’s one of those weird serendipities, like “dossier” showing up in two puzzles (not NYTX) in the same week. These are words and phrases I haven’t thought of much in probably years and, boom, twice within a couple of days.

Side eye to cluing TLC by the album and not Waterfalls or No Scrubs (which I’m just realizing would be a great theme song for Rex Parker). All of which makes me think of my favorite cover of Waterfalls.

Andy 7:53 AM  

i like this theme, i'll probably go around today trying to find more that fit! took me some time because i had UNCLE for 19A ("OK, you win"). Isn't BOSH a synonym for TOSH? overall fun with satisfying 7 and 8 letter answers.

@Loren Muse Smith i had better luck working from the adverb back, because there are pretty big constraints there, since the adverb needs to end in -ILY without changing the spelling of the adjective and needs to be something you can convey in a clue. BADMOODILY, GUESTROOMILY (or any other room). would a homonym count, like wear/wear in UNDERWEARILY? ("Sigh...Beneath...[yawn].")

Jim 7:54 AM  

This one beat on me but I liked it. BOSH for TOSH hung me up, and SAIDIDO for SAIDYES tied me in knots to the end.

Georgia 7:58 AM  

All That Jazz is a familiar phrase to us seniors. "All That Jazz" is a song from "Chicago" and the title of a 1979 movie about Bob Fosse.

pabloinnh 8:01 AM  

My ignorance of pop culture (LANA, TLC) and internet stuff (AOL, NETZERO) did not help, nor did forgetting AMAL, and we just saw her. At least I remembered to spell BAHA instead of BAJA, which looks much better to me. Also I missed the connection between how the clues were written and the actual answer And I had the same wrong first answers as OFL and LMS, along with BOSH for TOSH. In short, this was like untying one of those knots you get in your shoelace and you just keep at it until you're done, ultimately satisfying but not a whole lot of fun.

At least I was reminded of "If you see her, say hello, she might be in ALGIERS", which is a great song. and getting an AHA out of EIEIO and AAVERAGE.

Impressive stuff, SM. Not your fault that so much of it went whizzing over my head.

bocamp 8:03 AM  

Thank you, @Steve for the workout! :)

Among the toughest Thursdays ever. Nowhere near my wavelength, but a fine puzzle nevertheless.

Almost finished without a dnf, but alas, fell at the "t" on the "AT-AT" / "Tartt" cross, which is inexcusable, since I have Donna's book on my library wait list. For some reason I thought "Hartt". Doubt if I'll forget her last name any time soon. LOL

"Glow" Worm ~ Mills Brothers (live, 1957)
___

yd 0

Peace Tolerance Kindness Togetherness ๐Ÿ•Šb

MarineO6 8:05 AM  

This was the lamest puzzle I’ve done in a loooong time.
Weak sauce.

RooMonster 8:10 AM  

Hey All !
Well, color me confused. Never did figure out what in tarhooties the theme was going for. Clues as answers as clues. The ole brain is saying Stop. Also, DNF as I didn't realize ILY would be on the end of each clue (Due to not grokking theme). Maybe that confession makes me look unintelligent, but there it is.

Had spEnT for ATEIT, causing me to have HAYLOFTnLY, scratching the head as to what that could be. Did eventually erase spEnT, as figured out HOTMESSILY, and AAVERAGE, but kept the N and ended up with ATEnT. Also, ALLTHATJAZZILY ended up as ALLTHATJAZZarY, as having RaVEN and IrENE in the Downs. Dang. Not too shabby considering I really didn't see the theme. Have to boost me EGO back up somehow!

Had sees in 30D, then got SEE for 13D, and erased my 30D sees. That small section was kind of a toughie. My Kangaroo (no relation) went through ewe, then sOw. Har. That North Center spot was odd. Luckily, from some cobweb infested corner of the ole brain, ATAT came into view, because TARTT was a "who"? AND SUCH an odd phrase, too.

So, not on puzs wavelength. Oh well, these things will happen. I see from others' comments this is a debut, Congrats Steve. Try not to confound me so much next time! :-) (And use EASE OFF instead of EASE OUT.) :-P

One F
RooMonster
DarrinV

Joe Dipinto 8:12 AM  

Yes, YES, the inkblot guy, now stop bothering me.

RORSCHACH TESTILY

(but it needs a 16 grid)

JOHN X 8:18 AM  

Are we talking about HAY? Here’s a little hay trivia for you.

During the U.S. Civil War, the standard Union Army field artillery battery consisted of six guns. Each gun came in two parts: the gun itself and a caisson which carried its ammunition. Both were hitched to two-wheeled “limbers” that in turn were hitched to six horse teams. So, each gun required twelve horses. Six guns required 72 horses.

Additionally, the battery had a blacksmith wagon for gun repairs and farriering (6 more horses), a portable forge for the blacksmith (6 more horses), and at least three wagons (more likely six) carrying two days rations for the men, forage for the horses, more ammunition, as well as headquarters equipment, tents, and other necessary gear (18 more horses).

Also, the officers rode saddle horses, which included the captain and the three section lieutenants, so that’s at least 4 more horses.

So far that’s 106 horses and we’ll round it down to 100. Draught animals were essential during the war and they were the key to mobility and maintaining supply lines. Artillery needed speed so they used horses and not mules. This description is very simplified.

Army regulations dictated that each horse be fed 10 pounds of HAY and 14 pounds of grain daily to maintain optimum capability. With 100 horses that means the battery needed:

1000 pounds of hay and 1400 pounds of grain per day.

The battery kept at least one wagon loaded with “forage.” When “forage” was used as a noun it meant feed for the horses and mules (hay and grain); when “forage was used as a verb it meant to search the surrounding countryside for food, for man and beast alike.

When an artillery battery reached a new position and bivouacked, all 100 horses had to be unharnessed and taken to the nearest water source while the artillerymen made camp. Then they were corralled in a special area and fed with 2400 pounds of forage.

The supply line had to maintain the flow of forage to the batteries on an almost daily basis, using supply wagons pulled by six mules who also consumed forage in order to pull the supply forage.

At the Battle of Gettysburg in July 1863, the Union Army of the Potomac fielded 41 artillery batteries on the front line and 21 batteries in reserve. That’s 62 batteries in total, each with an average of 100 horses. That’s 6200 horses total, just for the field artillery.

The daily forage requirement for 62 batteries was:

62,000 pounds (31 tons) of hay and 86,800 pounds (43 tons) of grain, or 74 tons of forage per day.

ChuckD 8:22 AM  

I had fun with this. Agree that the theme was a little clunky in its implementation but it didn’t mess with the overall solve much. No idea - but learned TARTT, ROZ and ILENE although AT-AT was a gimme so the T was there. Little side eye to the YOGA MAT x MATT Damon cross. Liked the TWANG of the SW corner. Just reread A Thousand Acres so LEAR was on my mind. Hand up for NOdES before NOSES.

Hey @pablo - she might be in Tangier although Dylan could have used ALGIERS just as easy.

Good time with this puzzle today.

mmorgan 8:23 AM  

I like most puzzles, but I did not care for this. Didn’t hate hate hate it, but didn’t care for it.

On the other hand, I thought Rex’s write up was a gem!

j. 8:24 AM  

ATAT reminds me of the Boston Globe puzzles from about 10 years ago, where it appeared almost daily. Or was it the highly-disposable Metro? And, just a question, is “Reggae great Peter ____” too obvious?

Geoff H 8:29 AM  

I thought the theme was fine, and once I got it off THELASTWORDILY it helped fill in the other themers.


AAVERAGE messed me up for ages because I had the double A and was sure I had one of those crosses wrong.

FYI I recommend not googling “crystal jellies” at work, the jellyfish is NOT what comes up first.

G. Weissman 8:55 AM  

Wow, I wish I hadn’t bothered to do this puzzle. Was the clue for 34 across really printed “messily”? No, not at all. Is “messily” a word I ever want to see in a crossword again? No, not at all. Was this a clever and fun puzzle to solve? No, not at all — not for me.

Anonymous 8:57 AM  

I presume the constructor wrote this for his fiancรฉe. I hope it was worth it for him, because I found it sloggish.

Anonymous 8:58 AM  

Do you have a point?

Hungry Mother 9:00 AM  

Under average time, but it felt like a slog. I saw the theme pattern without any understanding of it. The grid was riddled with names, making it painful.

Frayed Knot 9:03 AM  

I loved this puzzle. Hay Loftily was my favorite.

Thank you @JOHN X. I read every word of your post. Old war movies cause me to wonder about stuff like that. Fascinating.

mathgent 9:09 AM  

A fresh and intricate theme but executed clumsily. The fresh part is having the entry describe the clue instead of having the clue describe the entry.. Rex has seen it before but I haven't. Of the four themers, the only one that works smoothly is HAYLOFTILY. "Hayloft" is a thing that can be broken up. The clue describes "hay" in a "lofty" way.

The other three don't quite make it. It's a stretch to consider "the last" to be a thing. "Oven" doesn't describe "hot," it's the other way around. "All that" doesn't mean "the cat's meow" to me.

I admire the audacious theme. I enjoyed figuring it out. But it wasn't fun.

TJS 9:15 AM  

Reading @JohnX today saved the morning for me. A nice counterpoint to the mood this "puzzle" put me in. I'm going to hit the archive and see if I can flush this thing out of my mind forever.

pabloinnh 9:17 AM  

@ChuckD--Well of course you're right, and that explains why I thought Algiers didn't sound like a capital to me. I've sung that song about a thousand times, so I really wasn't thinking about it.

Obviously.

Charles Flaster 9:22 AM  

Also had hARTT.
Also know the book.

Anonymous 9:23 AM  

Actually finished...
Never got the theme at all.

Didn’t get Rex explanation either.

Not in my universe this one....Interesting about the 6200 horses tho...

Smith 9:23 AM  

@JohnX

***not about puzzle alert***

That's mind blowing. I happen to be reading The Killer Angels, Michael Shaara's (1974) book about Gettysburg. You've added a dimension...

Unknown 9:24 AM  

Those who can, do.
Those who can't, criticize.

Smith 9:29 AM  

Well, I thought it was hard. Got the trick at ALLTHATJAZZILY, went back and made sense of the rest of it. No tremendous "aha"s, just kind of "mmmhmmm"S. ๐Ÿ‘‹ for ANDSoon before ANDSUCH.

[yawn] It's really the [yawn] most giant...[zzz]

THEBIG SLEEPILY

Smith 9:31 AM  

๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ˜†

Andy S 9:47 AM  

DN- ily

Crimson Devil 9:55 AM  

Didn’t much care for add-ons, but enjoyed 90s, no NEWS, and old McD refrain.

puzzlehoarder 9:57 AM  

Horse shit wordily.

RooMonster 9:57 AM  

Can't think of any myself (of course! ๐Ÿ˜‹), but @Smith 9:29, if I'm grokking theme correctly, your clue would have to be capitalized, as in [YAWN] IT'S REALLY THE [YAWN] MOST GIANT... [ZZZ], to get to The"Big" Sleepily.

RooMonster DMVingily Today Guy

linac800 9:58 AM  

Now that’s logistics!

Anonymous 10:01 AM  

AOL, et precede - 1985
Netzero - 1998

so, not really competitors in any specific sense, since both appear to date to dial-up period when every local area had its own ISP - I had Errol's in Bryn Mawr at the time.

Tim Aurthur 10:03 AM  

A great idea, and a gift to insomniacs, who at two AM waiting for the new Spelling Bee will be thinking up similar combinations, like "mezzo-soprano" printed in a way to depict a cube: VOICE BOXILY. Or "Sugar!! Honey!! Treacle!!": SWEET HEARTILY.

Thank you, Steve Mossberg.

pmdm 10:10 AM  

This is the type of thing I either get or don't. And I didn't. And I suppose that's why so many either hate or love the puzzle. I just shrug since I'm doing more important (probably) things.

The clue for 20A did bother me. Just a bit too confusing for me to understand or enjoy. But that's a personal thing.

99%er 10:14 AM  

AMAL Clooney and her husband travel the world by private jets and lecture the proles about global warming. She should not be in the puzzle.

JD 10:16 AM  

I can be obtuse. That's a lie, as a rule I'm obtuse and occasionally I'm not.

Had pretty much all the 'ily's' after the second pass and could see parts of each themer. When I finally gave up and threw down Hay Loftily, bafflement ensued. From that point I filled in the answers I'd been resisting. Ultimately, I died with a tad of bitterness at A Average (same thoughts as @TTrimble there) and Aide (Veep).

Came here to have the theme spoon fed to me and Whoa! This impressed mightily. It embossed with excess force. I'm retroactively enjoying this puzzle.

But still, a nit and a thought.

I'm sick of trying to guess what people will say in certain situations and I hope the fad fades. Near the end of my grocery list I'm thinking something like, "I wonder where the baking soda is. Eh screw it." It didn't fit.

And I see now that Amal Clooney is the Yoko Ono of the '20s. I long for the day the clue is Human rights attorney Amal ____ or George is clued Husband of Amal.

@Z and @Gill from yesterday, thanks! We judge at our peril.

puzzlehoarder 10:17 AM  

Maybe I'm just too literal but penultimate does not mean THELAST. It means the second to last. Always has always will.

After easily filling the top tier including the first themer I was left wondering where this theme was going and what the point of it was.

The other theme clues didn't seem to have anything in common but with enough of the fill entered I realized the theme was just silly ILY phrases.

While the concept is fresh and clever it generated far less puzzling than last Thursday's. The squareness of the 63A clue further dulled my enjoyment of the puzzle.

Nancy 10:20 AM  

How much did I love this? How exquisite was my "suffering"? (Note the quotation marks today.)

Finding the puzzle fiendishly difficult in both the theme and the cluing, I finally chose to pay this puzzle the highest compliment*: I gave in and cheated. The only question was could I solve with one cheat or would there be many?

There was only one, I'm happy to say. AMAL Clooney. It broke open the puzzle for me, enabled me to finally see the theme, and resolved many problems in that section that helped me get HOT MESSILY. It enabled me to see that "Wiped out" was ATE IT, not spEnT.
It also enabled me to see that the disturbed crystal jellies don't BLOW and don't GROW, but instead GLOW. Who knew? I've never disturbed any.

Happily I didn't have to cheat on the limited PPP I didn't know like LANA, BAHA, TLC and ILENE. Whew!

The cluing isn't just good -- it's great! Really tricky. So much care has been lavished on so many clues. My faves are NEWS; GLOW; ENVY; EASE OUT; EIEIO; NOSES; AND SUCH; ONE TO GO; and A AVERAGE -- which gave me more trouble than just about any other non-themer.

*Why is my cheating today a compliment? I never cheat when I'm frustrated and exasperated with the trivia in a puzzle; rather I simply throw the puzzle against the wall. I only cheat when I'm completely stymied on a puzzle that's so delicious and intriguing and enjoyable that to not cheat would rob me of the pleasure of continuing to wrestle with it. This was such a puzzle -- one of my favorites of the entire year. Because, boy, did I ever "suffer"!

Joaquin 10:21 AM  

As is often the case, the comments today are more entertaining than the puzzle. Of special note:

@Joe Dipinto (8:12) and @John X (8:18).

And thanks to @Rex for providing us this forum to entertain/annoy/anger/uplift our every day.

Malsdemare 10:28 AM  

@JOHN X. Wow! Just wow! Thanks for that lesson.

GHarris 10:38 AM  

@JohnX
I consider myself a Civil War buff but your exegesis was an education that added importantly to my understanding of that conflict. Thanks.

GHarris 10:44 AM  

I think exposition would have been a better word choice than exegesis.

Whatsername 10:46 AM  

W hAt t hE hec K was that? While I wouldn’t exactly call it a HOT MESS, I sure wouldn’t give it an A AVERAGE either. Not my favorite theme, but it is a very good puzzle and I congratulate Mr. Mossberg on his long awaited debut. I look forward to future efforts but hope I like them better.

I think I got off to a bad start with the clue for 20A. That tacked on explanation just muddles it up so much more than it needed to be. “Something directly following a penultimate line” would have sufficed and been so much less confusing. The constructor states in his notes that this type of “clue heavily” theme is not to everyone’s taste. I guess he’s right about that since others here seem to have enjoyed it far more than I did. So to each his own, whatever floats your boat, ETC.

Steve M 10:48 AM  

I own to horses and feed them hay every day
I don’t feed them the hay loft
Idiotic clueing

GILL I. 10:54 AM  

Oh, my.....where to begin? Did I like it? YES/NO? Did the cluing confuse me? YES/NO? Do I like adverbs? YES/NO? Get up, walk around, do the laundry and decide. This was one of those that had me finish and then go back and look at the concept. The idea was primo, the cluing was painful. When you have 17 words for your first theme clue, you lose me. Oh, I got the adverbial ILY so I kinda knew what you were doing here. I wanted my happy feet to dance a tango....instead, they stepped all over my partner.
There was definitely stuff I liked here especially your EIEIO....but then, again, I like pigs and cows. Loved learning about jellies and their GLOW. Which reminds me:
I wish I was a GLOW worm,
A GLOW worm's never glum,
Cuz how can you be grumpy,
When the sun shines out your bum.
TOSH? Is that your word, Steve? Congratulation on your debut....Did Will change a lot of your clues?

@Albatross 8:01 from late yesterday:
"And don't give me that spitting on soldiers crap." Wow...are your fricken kidding? I knew lots of young men who were called to fight in Vietnam. NONE of them wanted to go. They didn't give up their citizenship and flee to Canada. No, they fought a war they hated. They came back in total despair. The shit they saw and endured was insane. AND YES, they were spit on when they returned. I saw it. FONDA helped spur that movement...just like Trump spurred on the riots at our Capitol. Call a spade a spade.
By the way......I've helped out at homeless shelters, providing food whenever I can. So many are Vietnam veterans. Completely and totally lost - still in their mental agony. Yes....they were spit on.

kitshef 10:56 AM  

@puzzlehoarder - penultimately is used correctly in the puzzle. The clue is for the thing that FOLLOWS the penultimate position. I'm guessing the wordy clue threw you off.

Jax H 10:57 AM  

Agreed. The description was better offered for wheat.

JOHN X 10:59 AM  

6200 horses is a rounded approximation of just the field artillery in the Union Army at Gettysburg.

In aggregate, considering the artillery, the cavalry, the saddle mounts for infantry officers, and the mules of the supply trains, the Army of the Potomac typically fielded approximately 25,000 horses and mules in 1863. That number grew larger as the war progressed.

25,000 animals: that's 250,000 pounds (125 tons) of HAY and 350,000 pounds (175 tons) of grain, or 300 tons of forage per day. The animals required this feed whether they did anything or not.

(One of the selling points that Henry Ford used with farmers about the Model-T -- and he very much sold it to farmers as an all-purpose farm machine -- was that when it wasn't doing active work, the Model-T stopped eating.)

The logistics supply train that delivered all this forage (and rations and ammunition) was run by Quartermaster General Montgomery C. Meigs, who was efficient, dedicated, and honest to a fault. In the case of forage, industrial farming was maturing in the great breadbasket of the Midwest; steam locomotives could move immense amounts of materiel to massive supply depots located strategically near the front lines, where enormous supply trains of mule-driven wagons, trains stretching many miles in length, would constantly supply the army in the field (and the supply train mules had to be fed to pull the supplies). Meigs controlled an enormous budget that was not surpassed until the Second World War, and he rooted out corruption wherever he could find it. He was a southerner who stayed loyal to his oath to the U.S. Army, and he hated Robert E. Lee with a passion for abandoning his oath; he got revenge by burying dead Union soldiers in the rose garden at Lee's (wife's) mansion across the Potomac from Washington, thus creating Arlington Cemetery.

And now you know the rest of the story.

Perry 10:59 AM  

I have seen some stupid, pointless xword themes in my time, but today's is just "uggh!". What an utter waste of time.

Carola 11:00 AM  

I found the puzzle challenging overall, and themewise I was flummoxed, just about ready for a reluctant I GIVE, when an unknown Force impelled me to erase "[SAID] "I do" and change it to YES. YES, indeed! Then I was able see that the "passing comment" was AYE, instead of "diE!" (which I'd thought was kind of mean). Anyway, once I understood HOT MESSILY, I was able to finish the grid...and then go back and appreciate the clues. I thought it was the height of cleverness and wit.

Help from previous puzzles: LANA, BAHA. Other do-overs: I lose; As usUal before AND SUCH; me, too, for NOdES.

Newboy 11:07 AM  

Luckily finally delightfully got the WTF on the final dozen fill squares on Steve’s beautifully done debut. Had to go to xwordinfo to see his photo and constructors note....liked his pix with a well-justified smirk....before reading Rex &y’all. Did note OFL’s experience led him to an “easy” rating; moi ? Not easy at all until the penny slotted! But any day I can figure out what’s going on before Rex has to explain in small words is a good one๐Ÿ˜Hope others are equally amused; now back to find if today’s EGO TRIP deserves an A AVERAGE?

Anonymous 11:08 AM  

Your take is way, way out there but thanks for sharing.

JD 11:09 AM  

@puzzlehoarder, I wasn't as clever as
you but you beat me to it! @JohnX, thanks for the lob. The two of you made the puzzle even better.

@GHarris, That's the second time this week I've heard the word exegesis.

@Z, Stugotz (heheh). Knowers will know.

@Roo, I too thought Ewe at Kangaroo. But knew it wouldn't do.

(My 6-month-long project launched yesterday and light pierced the salt mine. I'm gleeful today and running amok. Begging your indulgence.)

Frantic Sloth 11:17 AM  

I can't even.

Is this the worst "themed" puzzle I've seen in a dog's age or is it just the worst "themed" puzzle I've seen in a dog's age?

Pick one.

๐Ÿง ๐Ÿง ๐Ÿง  (wavelength)
-๐ŸŽ‰

egsforbreakfast 11:21 AM  

@ Kitshef 7:13. Not sure if the MISTAKKE conundrum is Goedelian since there is no feeling of axiomatic incompleteness. Isn’t it really just the liars paradox in another form? But I like that you smelled the logical rat in it and stopped to think about it.

@ JohnX. Very interesting stuff. I assume you had some time for Civil War reading during your recent stint in the DC jail.

Great puzzle. The first theme clue was weakly executed, but the entire theme idea was magnifique. Tremendous debut Steve Mossberg.

puzzlehoarder 11:33 AM  

Yes you're correct. However the other nit I didn't point out is that 39A is the only themer that splits an actual word. As @Steve M 10:48 points out you can lead a horse to HAYLOFT but you can't make them eat it.

Truth Seeker 11:34 AM  

This is from the NYT regarding returning Vietnam soldiers:

"The reporter was asking about accounts that soldiers returning from Vietnam had been spat on by antiwar activists. I had told her the stories were not true. I told her that, on the contrary, opponents of the war had actually tried to recruit returning veterans. I told her about a 1971 Harris Poll survey that found that 99 percent of veterans said their reception from friends and family had been friendly, and 94 percent said their reception from age-group peers, the population most likely to have included the spitters, was friendly."

Here is a link to THE FULL ARTICLE

Amelia 11:40 AM  

I didn't get it while I was doing it.
I didn't get it while Rex was explaining it.
I didn't get it when I read the various experts here explain it.
I don't get why you're (mostly)excited about it.
I'm thinking about an emperor and his clothes.
Because I still don't get it.
I mean I get it, but I don't get why you think it's something to cheer about.
Got it?


Newboy 11:43 AM  

Add me to @Johnx’s oater update audience. Impressive stats indeed. Sorta wondering how many shovels were needed to muck out the processed forage? I recall being amazed at the poop patrols following the All-American Indian Days parades in Sheridan, Wyoming as a pre-teen!

Birchbark 11:58 AM  

Powerful ego? -- I MIGHTILY.

HAY LOFTILY -- I went downstairs after reading @JohnX (8:18) and looked for caisson illustrations in my facsimile of "Frank Leslie's Illustrated History of the Civil War" (the newspaper illustrations of the time). And learned that a team of six horses pulling the caisson also had three riders -- one to a pair, lined up along the left side. Maybe these were also the artillerymen?

Masked and Anonymous 11:58 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
OffTheGrid 12:04 PM  

You say it well.

old timer 12:14 PM  

puzzle was a HOT MESS, but I did complete it. Maybe I'll go back and try to understand why it was so clever.

Thanks to @JohnX for his history lesson. And double thanks @Truth Seeker. I was there. Not in Vietnam, thank God, but doing a job that got me a deferment, in Tacoma, WA. When that was over, I practiced law in San Francisco. In Tacoma, there was an active anti-war movement centered on the Quaker meeting, and in San Francisco, I worked with VVAW (Vietnam Veterans Against the War). Everyone I knew in either place regarded returning veterans as prime recruits to fight against the war. No one was spit on, I can tell you, after they returned. Maybe it happened to someone, somewhere, but I doubt it.

Z 12:16 PM  

@Steve M - The clue says the animals are eating HAY, the clue says so LOFTILY.

@Hay ain't "golden" - Huh? Here are some pictures for you.

Michiganman 12:19 PM  

Mackinac Island, located in the straits between the 2 Michigan peninsulas, is mainly a tourist destination known for it's lack of motor vehicles. Bicycles are available, as are horse drawn carriage rides. There is a poop patrol but the horses also wear a bucket or large pouch strategically located beneath the tail. Guess what the worst job on the island is.

blinker474 12:23 PM  

This is in the running for the least enjoyable puzzle I have ever partially solved and then given up on. Once I read the 'explanation' I was glad that I did.

GILL I. 12:33 PM  

@TRUTH SEEKER 11:34
I'M NOT GETTING INTO A SPITTING CONTEST WITH YOU









@Truth Seeker 11:34
I'm not getting into a spitting contest with you or anyone else. I didn't even want to discuss JANE FONDA. The article you posted was interesting - that's all. Just like there are people who will go to their death bed saying Trump won and the election was rigged, you will find people saying the spitting was a "Fantasy Element." Well, just because YOU didn't see it, doesn't mean it didn't happen. IT DID and I SAW IT. I was at SFO International waiting to pick my dad up and there were a bunch of Vietnam protesters. Several young men - in their fatigues - arrived in the the terminal and they were SPAT at. A friend of mine told me she, too, had seen it - particularly by coked out hippies in the Haight-Ashbury district. It happened. You don't forget.
END OF RANT........









Tale Told By An Idiot 12:37 PM  

Yesterday morning I “attended“ a lecture. The person introducing the lecturer said that she was going to talk about the “penultimate“ Supreme Court case on gay rights. She was referring to the Obergefell case, which held that states may not prohibit same-sex marriage. Since as far as I know, the only meaning of the word “penultimate” is “next to last”, the comment made no sense to me. Yesterday evening, after I did the puzzle (in my time zone, the puzzle drops at 7 PM the night before) I went to the X word puzzle blog to try to find out what was going on. There was a discussion of the word “penultimate“ which, as pointed out above, was used correctly in the clue but which apparently these days is sometimes used to mean either “last“ or sometimes, even, “best“. The person writing about the word also threw in lyrics from a Flanders and Swann song that uses the word “antepenultimate“ and that led me down a rabbit hole that eventually got me to the word “zeugma” and to these examples:
“And he said as he hastened to put out the cat, the wine, his cigar and the lamps
“She lowered her standards by raising her glass, her courage, her eyes and his hopes
“She made no reply, up her mind and a dash for the door.”

That was my penultimate experience of the penumbra of the puzzle. The ultimate is reading your delightful comments.

johnk 12:51 PM  

NW was ALOT NatickILY for me. Glad so many of you liked this HOTMESSILY. I must be ALONE in my dislike. Here a TOSH; there a TOSH; EIEIO.

jae 1:04 PM  

Medium. Would have been easier if I hadn’t stuck with SAIDido before SAIDYES for way to many nanoseconds. Cute and amusing, liked it quite a bit more than @Rex did, although parsing the clues did take some effort. Nice debut.

JD 1:19 PM  

@Gill, I'm strongly with you.

@Frantic, Negative party favor! Nothing? No plastic whistle, mini candy bar, or balsa wood airplane? That's harsh. But it still cracked me up.

@Masked and Anonymous, In case I've never mentioned this, yer delightful every day.

Charles Flaster 1:21 PM  

I lay it aside for a few hours and then try again— usually with some success.
“Cheating” is not an option.

Teedmn 1:31 PM  

I liked this. And although I don't agree with Rex's review, I did get a chuckle from reading it. Perhaps he would have been happier if the first theme clue had been "A mechanical form shaped like a human foot which is used by shoemakers and cordwainers in the manufacture and repair of shoes and typically come in pairs and have been made from various materials, including hardwoods, cast iron, and high-density plastics"?

I must say I didn't like the clue "Four-star" for RAVE. I had RAtE. This led me to think 26A should be lAtER AGE (90s, say) but ATE IT and AMAL were right, I was sure. I never did fix that and did a head slap when I realized it had nothing to do with senescence.

Steve Mossberg, congratulations on your NYTimes debut!

jazzmanchgo 1:45 PM  

Regional dialect trivia: In New Orleans, at least as recently as the 1950s, the equivalent of "all that" was "such-a-much" (e.g., "You ain't so such-a-much," as sung by vocalist/pianist Cousin Joe in the 1953 song of that title).
For some reason I always get a kick out of that . . .

The guy in the hay loft. 1:49 PM  

@JohnX - Sorry, but grain isn't forage, no matter how many quote marks you put around it. Forage is defined as specifically excluding grain.

Anonymous 1:51 PM  

just so ya know, most schools, 90 is A- you need 95 for straight A and 96+ for A+

TTrimble 1:53 PM  

@Tale Told
That's interesting. I ordinarily assume that people understand me if I say 'penultimate', which I think of as a common word. I guess not!

Merriam-Webster confirms that some people use it to mean something like 'the unsurpassably ultimate', as if 'pen' acts as an intensifier. "The penultimate challenge". The rhythm is akin to that of 'preeminent'.

But it seems the person who introduced the lecturer didn't mean that, either. I suppose the word just sounds more erudite.

I did learn something interesting: the word 'umbrage' is connected to the Latin umbra = shadow. Umbra and penumbra we all know, but this was new to me.

okanaganer 1:55 PM  

I wondered why NET ZERO wasn't clued with the energy efficient building technique, which is much more interesting and current. In fact, checking on xwordinfo.com, that meaning has never been used by the NYT.

After doing a search, I think maybe that term is not used in the USA? It is very common in Canada, and there are some results from Europe, but virtually none from the US.

Chris 2:06 PM  

Absurd. Puzzle and theme. ILY? Really? ...Reallyily?? What joy. What a freekin' romp this was. Not what I want to see in my winter of my discontent. In my winter of trying to arrange for covid vaccinations. In my winter of trying to figure out what happened to... whatever, never mind. I have put the author of this travesty on the next rocket ship to the sun. It's my fantasy way of setting the world right. The Donald went there LONG ago. I am also mad at myself for going deep into the (attempted) solve before throwing in the towel. Ridiculous trivia, like remembering that BAJA MEN are really BAHA MEN should be banned. For life. The brain cells that keep that info in anyone's head should be reassigned to something more useful. ATAT? Star Wars trivia needs to die too. 51 down is ILENE, not IRENE. Reallyily? Never heard of her, so I thought putting IRENE in there was a coup. Guess not. EIEIO... "follower of pigs". When I got that one, I knew it was time to put the life jacket on and jump. Going for a second Dragon's Milk now to recenter me. Cheers !

Z 2:07 PM  

Relitigating Vietnam seems more appropriate to a different forum.

Mohair Sam 2:07 PM  

@Tale Told . . . . (12:37) - Flanders and Swann - Yes! Once every few years I stumble on their name and search the net and play a bunch. Today I'll roll in Flanders and Swann like a hippo in glorious mud. Thank you.

@Gill I - Thank you too.

@Z - Hey man - that ain't gold, that's a mix of yellow hay and brown hay - and much green hay (a few of those "golden" shots were of straw, btw). Yellow (your gold) hay, btw, is not recommended for horses - so farmer Will Shortz would have done well to leave "golden" or equine out of the clue.

Anonymous 2:24 PM  

@okanaganer:

'This Old House' on the Snowflake Network has been doing 'net zero' renovations and new builds for some years. the latest, at least recent, is a shore line RI house. highly insulated exterior walls, lots of solar panels, and such.

don't know about today, but a few years ago I read a report that per capita solar was highest in Vermont, of all places.

sanfranman59 2:35 PM  

Challenging NYT Thursday ... 47% above my 6-month Thursday median solve time. I can't believe that Rex rated this as Easy, so I'm curious now to read what the commentariat thought.

I'm surprised that this is Steve Mossberg's NYT debut. I've done a bunch of puzzles by him before in the LAT, WSJ, Universal and Newsday and he's usually given me a pretty rough ride. True to form, this one beat me up but good and I never understood the theme until I read the Crossword Fiend review. It was readily apparent that each of the themers was made into a very weird adverbial phrase (I think that's the right term for it ... diagramming sentences was the bane of my existence in English classes throughout my youth), but I knew that there surely had to be something that I was missing.

Sure enough, I got a bit of an 'aha' when I learned what was going on, but the pay-off wasn't worth it, particularly for the pain that the first themer clue put me through (THE LAST WORDILY {20A: Something directly following a penultimate position -- that is to say, diametrically opposed to a primary one}). I gotta go with a thumbs-down verdict here.

The difficulty level here ranged from Easy-Medium/Medium for most of the puzzle to darned near impossible to complete. Such unevenness is rarely satisfying to me. I totally bollixed up the middle of the puzzle. I couldn't remember AMAL {27D: Human rights lawyer Clooney}, was certain of 'spEnT' before realizing that it could be ATE IT {26D: Wiped out}, then couldn't figure out what the heck was going on with A-AVERAGE {26A: 90s, say}. I was also certain of 'SAID i do' instead of SAID YES {9D: Agreed to tie the knot}, but managed to finally work all of that mess out. I then submitted my solution before going back and completely guessing at the AT-AT {5A: Giant walking combat vehicle in "Star Wars" films}/TARTT {6D: Donna ___, 2014 Pulitzer winner for "The Goldfinch"} cross. I'm pretty sure that AT-AT has flummoxed me before, because I had a vague sense that it was correct. The NW also held me up a little with TOSH {17A: Poppycock}/LATTE {1D: Drink from a machine} being the primary culprit.

A 2:39 PM  

On this day in 1985 a record 295,000 dominoes toppled in Fuerth, West Germany. Which brings me to today’s puzzle.

I uncharacteristically filled in 1A correctly, without knowing who LANA Del Rey is. Now I do, and I’m not sorry. Then got ATHLETE, then ALOT, then not ALOT else. Figured the blue shade would have to be teal or aqua - wrong, but right to leave it blank. Like the rest of the puzzle, and my brain. Stumbled around for A while in the dark, nothing like “absolutely in love with this puzzle” - nice write-up @Lewis! But still intrigued by all those Ys, I kept AT AT (TYPO) and half got the trick at HAYLOFTILY. Then made ATOn of guesses which turned out right, right before my EYES! (Except ONEmOre, and bARGe - DOh) SAIDYES to AIDE but not happILY - worst clue for me today. Got the rest of the theme with MESSILY.

(I just now got the PEA/bullet connection - you put the pea in a straw! Double doh! SEE what I mean - just blank headed today. Couldn’t think of anything but rolls, and I’m so grateful that didn’t fit because I’d’ve never given that up! Rolls were our food fight weapons exclusively in college. Yes, we had food fights in college. It was always one of my fellow band mates who started it, too. Usually a drummer.)

With ONETOGO it ALL came down to A_AT and _ARTT. I wanted TARTT, but AzAT sounded more Star Warsy and Donna zARTT seemed like a cool name for an author. Got the “just one square’s amiss” message, changed it to A T and it turned out one of my swiftest Thursdays EVER. Which is still over a half hour so no EGOTRIPs yet.

I actually liked the tricky cluing for LATTE and AAVERAGE. NETZERO - fun to remember and also contributed to the 16 O’s today.

Thanks and congrats, Steve.

Nancy 2:40 PM  

@Teedmn (1:31) -- Your revised clue for 20A is absolute genius. It definitely would have made THE LAST WORDILY both fairer and clearer. Best of all, it would have made it funnier. If Steve Mossberg sees your clue, I wonder if he'll do a head slap?

@JOHN X -- Thanks for doing all that complicated horsy math for me so that I didn't have to. The info was absolutely fascinating and offers a whole new way of looking at the Civil War. And if I ever have insomnia and get tired of thinking about sheep...

Z 2:43 PM  

@hay loft guy - Try again.

@TTrimble - You post leaves the impression that M-W says that usage is okay but it doesn’t. You may occasionally hear the word penultimate used as an intensified version of ultimate, as in "a race they've called 'the penultimate challenge.'" This use isn't typically found in edited prose, however-or in dictionaries. {From the M-W note} In other words, we might hear it but not even descriptivist dictionaries accept it as “correct.”

@Mohair Sam - I’d say even green freshly cut alfalfa is going to look “golden” on a sunny day. I’m thinking the canonical example of this would be Monet’s Haystacks.

Birchbark 2:47 PM  

@Teedmn (1:31) -- Excellent "WORDILY" clue (though I needed my Webster's 2nd to follow it). "Last" in fact has nine different entries.

My favorite "last" is the first: a unit of measure roughly 4000 pounds, but varies by what we're measuring and can be very imprecise. From several dictionary examples: 10,000, 13,200, or 20,000 herrings = 1 last; 24 100-lb. barrels of gunpowder = 1 last, etc.

In addition to your noun version, the shoemaker's "last" is also a verb. As in:

Q. Why did the cobbler stay in business so long?
A. He lasted.

Hay ain't "golden" dude 2:47 PM  

@Z - Okanaganer is right - the golden ones in your shot are straw mislabeled as hay which, as I said, is golden. Just because someone thought it was a hay bale doesn't make it a hay bale. The others, the ones that are yellow, are green bales left out in the sun for forever. The green gets bleached out by the sun, and turns it a brownish yellow. The vagaries of lighting and photo-shop notwithstanding, if you actually look at one up close you would never in a million years call it golden. Mildewed puke yes, but golden, no.

JOHN X 2:49 PM  

@ The guy in the hay loft @1:49 PM

Do not attempt to correct JOHN X. Get out of the hayloft and get thee to a library.

The Revised United States Army regulations of 1861, with an appendix containing the changed and laws affecting Army regulations and Articles of war to June 25, 1863, United States War Department, Washington DC. Government Printing Office p. 166

Between 1861 and 1863 the forage amount was adjusted.

pmdm 3:07 PM  

As a Latin student, I seem to remember the term antepenultimate had an important place to play, used properly. I was going to bring the word up but saw someone else beat me to it. GRR.

I would agree with Z that political arguments are best left to fling around in other blogs. But if those who post hee want to engage in bitter discussion, at least back up what you allege with hardcore data, not anecdotal evidence. That would make the world a better place, which is presumably what most on either side of the argument wanted at that time. I think most did not want to see what I saw when driving through Chicago during the 1968 Democratic Nation Convention (or was it Republican?). I didn't think that, regardless of where you stood, either side looked very good. But now I'm veering too close to politics for this blog.

JD 3:16 PM  

Hay, like I always say I'm here mainly for the agricultural discussions.

Suzy 3:16 PM  

@Amelia: totally agree! First time ever I’ve agreed with OFL!

TTrimble 3:30 PM  

@Z
Of course I don't mean that. My first paragraph was meant to indicate that I ordinarily expect, when speaking to people, that they know the correct usage, but now I guess I should no longer assume that. Sigh.

(Of course, language being the way it is, this newer usage may one day be accepted, undoubtedly to the irritation of many.)

Z 3:33 PM  

@Hay Ain't - The vagaries of lighting and photo-shop notwithstanding, if you actually look at one up close you would never in a million years call it golden - And if you look at a bale of HAY from afar you would never in a million years call it green. Well, no, I exaggerate, but I refer you again to Monet's studies of HAY stacks where he painted them in all kinds of different colors depending on the "vagaries of lighting." Scrolling through Google images I did find one HAYstack painting with some green in it, but red, white, and "golden" seem to predominate. In short, what is correct if you actually have to feed a horse is not the same as what is required for cluing a crossword puzzle. I have no proof that this is at all intentional, but this particular clue is one of those designed to especially irk experts, whereas for us lay people it is perfectly adequate.

Anonymous 4:12 PM  


She was young, she was pure, she was new, she was nice
She was fair, she was sweet seventeen.
He was old, he was vile, and no stranger to vice
He was base, he was bad, he was mean.
He had slyly inveigled her up to his flat
To view his collection of stamps,
And he said as he hastened to put out the cat,
The wine, his cigar and the lamps:

Have some madeira, m'dear. You really have nothing to fear.
I'm not trying to tempt you, that wouldn't be right,
You shouldn't drink spirits at this time of night.
Have some madeira, m'dear. It's really much nicer than beer.
I don't care for sherry, one cannot drink stout,
And port is a wine I can well do without...
It's simply a case of chacun a son gout
Have some madeira, m'dear.

Unaware of the wiles of the snake-in-the-grass
And the fate of the maiden who topes,
She lowered her standards by raising her glass,
Her courage, her eyes and his hopes.
She sipped it, she drank it, she drained it, she did!
He promptly refilled it again,
And he said as he secretly carved one more notch
On the butt of his gold-headed cane:

Have some madeira, m'dear,
I've got a small cask of it here.
And once it's been opened, you know it won't keep.
Do finish it up. It will help you to sleep.
Have some madeira, m'dear.
It's really an excellent year.
Now if it were gin, you'd be wrong to say yes
The evil gin does would be hard to assess..
Besides it's inclined to affect me prowess,
Have some madeira, m'dear.

Then there flashed through her mind what her mother had said
With her antepenultimate breath,
"Oh my child, should you look on the wine that is red
Be prepared for a fate worse than death!"
She let go her glass with a shrill little cry,
Crash! Tinkle! it fell to the floor;
When he asked, "What in Heaven?" She made no reply,
Up her mind, and a dash for the door.

Have some madeira, m'dear.
Rang out down the hall loud and clear
With a tremulous cry that was filled with despair,
As she fought to take breath in the cool midnight air,
Have some madeira, m'dear.
The words seemed to ring in her ear.
Until the next morning, she woke in her bed
With a smile on her lips and an ache in her head...
And a beard in her lug 'ole that tickled and said:
Have some madeira, m'dear!

Steve M 4:47 PM  

If you open those bales it’s green inside unless it’s straw
Ok eating loftily????

Birchbark 5:05 PM  

@Z (3:33 and earlier) -- I'm afraid Monet is slim guidance in the quest for the true color of HAY. "Haystacks" is a restrictive translation of Monet's open-ended "Les Meules," which my battered old "Cassel's Compact French Dictionary" translates as "stack, rick (of grain, hay, etc.)."

"Meule" also translates from French to English as "hotbed." Rightly so -- as we see today, what could be more partisan than the color of a bale of hay?

Fodder for thought (but n.b. the correct answer in fact is "greenish when it's good").

Gene 5:22 PM  

It's not "oven", it's "like an oven"

Gene 5:26 PM  

The clue says "... following a penultimate position ..."

MaharajaMack 5:35 PM  

Finished it. Still didn't get it. Came here and was glad I didn't.

Hated it.

sixtyni yogini 5:49 PM  

Forced ๐Ÿ‹๐Ÿผ‍♀️๐Ÿ’ฃ๐Ÿ‹๐Ÿผ‍♀️as opposed to elegant ๐ŸŒน๐ŸŽฑ๐ŸŒน cleverness.
Prefer the latter.
Occam’s Razor, anyone?

A 8:42 PM  

@Nancy from yesterday re Shaw: I don't know whether RFK knew the exact source but his brother may have. JFK gave credit to Shaw when using it at his address before the Irish Parliament in 1963. "This is an extraordinary country. George Bernard Shaw, speaking as an Irishman, summed up an approach to life: Other people, he said "see things and . . . say 'Why?' . . . But I dream things that never were-- and I say: 'Why not?'" Hard to tell from this whether he knew the context.

What's more interesting is that, if you read the entire passage from Shaw's play, his Serpent doesn't represent evil, much less Satan, at all. First of all, she is female, and she appears to be trying to rescue Eve and Adam from what they have come to see as an eternal prison.(I'll have to go back and look over the parts about the Serpent's laughter. Might be something sinister there.) Regardless, rereading the Genesis of the Bible, I find Shaw's version to be exponentially more creative and well considered.

Teedmn 8:49 PM  

Thank you, @Nancy, for your kind words, and @birchbark for the weight units. A last of herring or gunpowder, interesting. And the cobbler lasted! :-)

NY Composer 9:46 PM  

I was under the impression that puzzles were supposed to be fun, Enjoyable. A diversion. My bad.

Taxed Too Much in NJ 10:58 PM  

Staggering to imagine all that hay and it’s subsequent refuse!!

albatross shell 11:22 PM  

@GILL I:
So you witnessed spitting once. I guess that makes it some sort of universal truth. The NYT article is therefore fantasy and almost all returning soldiers were spit on. And the anti-war movement was responsible, specifically Jane Fonda because she urged people to go out and disrespect soldiers somehow. And coked-up hippie girls heard, obeyed, and went out to spit on them. And if one believes the spitting was rare and the NYT article was perhaps correct, you have bought into a trumpian conspiracy theory. I think it's someone else who is in creeping toward fantasy-mode thought.

In all my years involved with the anti-war movement Vietnam vets were respectfully treated. Babykiller stuff. Sometimes but not by leaders or organizers. Spitting I never witnessed or heard of. Read about once. I think it was in the East Village Other but maybe a West coast equivalent. A column by a hippie chick planning her day. Dropping acid, in the morning and going down to the docks to spit on returning soldiers. Hippie chick getting up in the morning and planning and following through while tripping seeemed like a fantasy to me at the time. But it does tie in nicely with your story. They weren't carrying Fonda flags though.

You ignore my comment about how badly they were treated by the pro-war side. You apparently think I did not know men who got sent there. That I did not try to help them before they left or after they got back. I have I did and I do to this very day.

I have known hippie chicks who were raped by rednecks. I have known anti-war protesters who were attacked by rednecks, some were ex-soldiers. Who should I blame for that? Richard Nixon? Spiro Agnes? William Safire? George Wallace? Pat Buchcanan?

Z 11:36 PM  

@Birchbark - I see I should have gone with my first thought of A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte. The point is that HAY looks golden, especially in certain light and Impressionists are probably the most famous for playing with representing the effects of light on color. Besides, all you experts propelled me down the HAY rabbit hole and you’re all wrong. Green HAY has more nutritional value than yellow HAY, but there’s nothing particularly wrong with yellow HAY. It’s the difference between, say, raw veggies and canned veggies.

Hanne 8:16 PM  

Ugh, as a someone who went to school in Germany the ‘A Average’ had me stumped - solved almost entirely du to the down words. Though I solved the weird adverbs, I had to read your post to understand what they meant. I thought the answers were just a hot mess.

Hanne 8:20 PM  

I thought this though from helping out with a horse for the past year I’ve come to learn that there’s different types of hay and wheaten hay has a lot of golden stalks of wheat in it. Maybe that’s what they meant?

RAD2626 9:48 PM  

Such a great puzzle. So well clued. RW puzzles just keep getting cleaner and better. While I enjoy Patrick Berry’s Sunday puzzles and his occasional New Yorker and WSJ puzzles I am so glad RW has filled the gap with her NYT puzzles. . Same numerous “ha”s as a clue or segment falls. What looks impossible just requires imagination and perseverance. And never Google. Thank you.

Capn Charlie 10:16 PM  

Wow that was confusing and hard. Still don’t get the joke.

thefogman 9:59 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
thefogman 10:15 AM  

Not ALOT to say. IGIVE this one a SEE minus. AYE ATEIT. G’day mates.

spacecraft 11:17 AM  

DNF. Fatal error was SAIDido, and I just couldn't dislodge that. Of course I knew that something was wrong, but I simply couldn't find it. woulda been a DNF anyway on account of the natick at sq. 6, which I guessed wrong. And you call this easy.

rondo 12:06 PM  

I agree with the commenters above who say that HAY is not golden. Straw is golden, and has no nutritive value to either equine or bovine critters. Straw is used for bedding and then tossed out with the manure. Has nobody here or at the NYT ever been to a farm?

LANA DelRey, yeah baby.

I didn't mind the puz too much. At least it's a little bit different or trying to be.

Burma Shave 12:08 PM  

HAYLOFT TARTT

LANA SAIDYES ALOT so zestfully,
AND as SUCH, ONETOGO TO ecstasy,
I ENVY her GLOW
as IGIVE her a GO,
she's ALLTHAT and red HOTMESSILY.

--- ILENE PYRES

Diana, LIW 12:44 PM  

Lavender's blue dilly dilly...

I said I do before YES. But we finally did get married. And I finished the puzzle. With some help correcting my errors.

More trivia. Sigh.

Diana, LIW

El Dingo 3:32 PM  

It took me until now to get AYE as a passing comment.

leftcoaster 3:47 PM  

NATICK ALARM! ONE LETTER ERROR! The first T (square 6) in the top row at the TART / ATAT cross.

Had left it blank, but very unlikely to have come up with that T in any case.

Was otherwise glad to get the solve.

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