Architect of original Sisyphean task / THU 2-25-21 / Collaborator on 1968's Two Virgins familiarly / Garment whose name comes from Malay for sheath / Surname of two former Chicago mayors / Vintage diner fixture in brief / Psyche's mate in Greek mythology

Thursday, February 25, 2021

Constructor: Dylan Schiff

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: DOUBLE DOWN (32D: Blackjack bet ... or a hint to applying the five circled regions in this puzzle) — wow, "applying" is a weird word here; you just "Double" the circled squares in the long "Down" answers to get your actual answers:

Theme answers:
  • HANGING INDENT (3D: Feature of some bibliographic citations)
  • COVER VERSION (36D: Whitney Houston's "I Will Always Love You," for example)
  • HEART MURMUR (6D: Stethoscope detection)
  • BARBARA BUSH (41D: Former first and second lady)
  • STEAK TARTARE (10D: Dish often topped with raw egg yolk)
Word of the Day: Bill AYERS (22A: Bill ___, noted Vietnam War-era activist) —

William Charles Ayers (/ɛərz/; born December 26, 1944) is an American elementary education theorist. During the 1960s, Ayers was a leader of the Weather Underground that opposed US involvement in the Vietnam War. He is known for his 1960s radical activism and his later work in education reform, curriculum and instruction.

In 1969, Ayers co-founded the Weather Underground, a self-described communist revolutionary group that sought to overthrow imperialism. The Weather Underground conducted a campaign of bombing public buildings (including police stations, the United States Capitol, and the Pentagon) during the 1960s and 1970s in response to U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War.

Ayers is a retired professor in the College of Education at the University of Illinois at Chicago, formerly holding the titles of Distinguished Professor of Education and Senior University Scholar.[ During the 2008 U.S. presidential campaign, a controversy arose over his contacts with then-candidate Barack Obama. He is married to lawyer and Clinical Law Professor Bernardine Dohrn, who was also a leader in the Weather Underground.


William Oscar Ayers (September 27, 1919 – September 24, 1980) was an American Major League Baseball pitcher from Newnan, Georgia. He played for the New York Giants during the 1947 season. (wikipedia)

• • •

Interesting concept, but very unevenly developed, and with a high level of thematic density that causes the grid to groan terribly under the pressure. My first thought with the theme was "Why three letters?" and "Why *these* letters?" When the answer ended up being "no reason, totally arbitrary" to both, things got less interesting, and when the final (moving west to east) three themers all ended up having their three letters merely repeated inside of one word instead of strung across two (which is the much much the more interesting / elegant way to do things), well, that was pretty deflating. The revealer felt like kind of an afterthought at that point—not surprising or clever enough to rescue the ho-hum theme execution. At least HANGING INDENT was tough to work out, its three letters doubled across two words and masked by not being doubled in sound. COVER VERSION was likewise an interesting choice here—it's the same sound doubled, but each VER is in a separate word, so the doubleness doesn't announce itself so strongly, and you probably need to get crosses to work it out. Whereas ... MURMUR and BARBARA and TARTARE were all painfully simple to discover because the repeats are such distinctive and obvious parts of these single words/names (esp. MURMUR, the cheapest repeat of them all, and TARTARE, a close second). There's just nothing creative about those last three themers. You'd think a three-letter repeat could've yielded more interesting answers, where the repetition was more disguised and harder to suss out. 

The fill was especially weak today. It was so bad early on that I stopped to take a photo:

Note: I took the photo *before* filling in OCTANT (more unloveliness). ATHOS is an age-old repeater, but if your fill around it is fresh and clean, an age-old repeater can be highly tolerable. And yet ... today ... we got from ATHOS straight into a truly ugly abbr. (ATTS) (I like this better clued as a QB stat, but I like it best when it's not in my grid at all), and then TROU, ugh, a "word" that baffles so many solvers (esp. younger solvers) every time it appears because no one says it except maybe in some olde-tymey jokey way; I have never heard it except in the phrase "drop trou" (i.e. "pull your pants down"), which I have heard only in movies??? Not sure. And yet I see it in crosswords All The Time (or ... far too regularly for my taste). So, ATHOS ATTS TROU. That's your opening gambit. And then TONTO!? LOL, nice save there, I guess, with the clue, but the thing about TONTO, however you clue it, is that people still see the Lone Ranger's sidekick, which evokes all the racial unpleasantness your new clue is trying to avoid. And then there's OCTANT! ATHOS ATTS TROU TONTO OCTANT. Quite a series. At that point, I truly wanted out. And things don't get much better: REWON and REUSE. The vintage crosswordese horror that is ONERS. Some relatively harmless classics like AGORA, ALERO, and the OGEES. Pretty crusty all over. Some obvious Scrabble-f***ing in the NE and SW corners, but those corners are so cut off that there's no way the Q and J and K can really compromise anything. They're actually handled fairly neatly.

The names might prove slightly troubling today, esp. since ALLIE (a toughie) and DALEY cross. DALEY is such a major name in politics that I assume he'll take care of any problems with ALLIE, but still, any letter can cause trouble when you're dealing with an uncommon name like ALLIE, which I couldn't remember at all (Holden, Phoebe ... that's it, that's all I got in the Catcher memory bank). I know AYERS only from all the Obama-era "controversy." AYERS has more commonly been clued as AYERS Rock (Australia), but that's a colonialist term no longer in use. It's officially ULURU now. Put that in your grid and smoke it (seriously, ULURU deserves grid time). 

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld 

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Brian 6:14 AM  

Does it bother anyone else that HAN-GING IN-DENT diverges from the other thematic answers? That inconsistency seems discordant.

Lobster11 6:34 AM  

Gotta agree with Rex today. If all five themers were like HANGINGINDENT and COVERVERSION I would've enjoyed this much more, but the other three inside-a-word repeats spoiled a pretty good idea for me.

amyyanni 6:46 AM  

G'morning. Stopped by to see if anyone else took 28 down as a closer in baseball and happily wrote in SAVES. Because isn't there a car that's an Avero? It's all good; I am happy it's spring training and the Sox play one of my alma maters this weekend.

Anonymous 6:49 AM  

I'd prefer fewer domestic terrorists in my grid, but that's just me...

Rug Crazy 6:49 AM  

More difficult without the CIRCLES -(Times Digest version). Finished, but didn't enjoy

Z 6:56 AM  

Having read Rex for nearly a decade I knew he was going to ding MUR(MUR), BAR(BAR)A, and TAR(TAR)E. The thing is, that’s exactly how I reacted. HANGIN(G IN)DENT is so much more elegant than the rest that the disappointment at the simplicity of HEART MUR(MUR) was palpable during the solve.

The names aren’t quite as heavy as I thought (PPP is a NYTX typical 30%), but the PPP felt worse because it is fairly concentrated in the top and the SE, so a solver will start with dense PPP and finish with dense PPP. ATHOS/HADES/UVA/TONTO/ALLIE/DALEY/ELI/AYERS is a hell of a PPP Sausage Fest to start the puzzle. I did kind of like YOKO making an appearance, edging her way into the Boys Club in the puzzle just like she did in real life. The middle section is relatively free of PPP, but then ISUZU/NORAH/EZRA/EROS/DANE/SNO-balls (and the Whitney Houston themer) meant I finished thinking the PPP must be around 40%. Having the last four downs being PPP definitely leaves that impression.

Splat Pack? More BTS please.

Anyone else get the arched eyebrow at cluing GYRO via Halal food cart? I’m sure it’s true, but GYRO says “Greek” to me, not “Muslim.” Maybe it’s just a Detroit-centric thing, but I feel like I have had lots of Halal food and lots of GYROs, but not that many Halal GYROs.

The eyebrow also arched while reading Rex and realizing just how political the puzzle is. The DALEYs, Bill AYERS, TONTO, YOKO Ono, ATHOS and the Three Musketeers, Catcher in the Rye. Someone to piss off just about everybody.

*PPP is Pop Culture, Product names, and other Proper nouns.

Lewis 7:04 AM  

It is always glorious when the NYC crossword weekly hump begins, sometimes on Wednesday, sometimes on Thursday, when there’s a transition from grids that fill in in a splash, to grids that fill in with a good measure of stop and go, from humming through with hardly a thought, to brain-digging, and from mild satisfaction at puzzle’s end to deep satisfaction.

This week it was today, when the vague cluing and things I didn’t know, not to mention a theme to untangle, had the grid moving me to various areas rather than me commanding my route without opposition. Let me describe it differently using today’s theme as inspiration: The early week puzzles seem to fill in insTANeously; the later week puzzles make me wonder at times if I’m “at A DE nd”.

Or more simply put, the early week makes me smile; the later week makes me come alive. And you did the latter today, Dylan. You gave me a most satisfying journey, and on your debut as well. Thank you and congratulations, and I’ll be looking for your name up the road!

toddh 7:05 AM  

If you’re unfamiliar with chicago mayors, you’re in for a bad time

Z 7:12 AM  

@Rug Crazy - The print version, including the Times Digest version, has gray cells instead of circles. I just double-checked my Times-Digest version to confirm. Could it be a printer thing?

ChuckD 7:14 AM  

Maybe too many themers? Liked the revealer and the down themers but ageee with Rex that some of them fell flat. Liked HANGING INDENT And COVER VERSION. Hands up @amyyanni for dropping in Saves first but knowing ALERO fixed it for me.

Felt very trivia filled but they were all straightforward - it was an easy Thursday.

@Z - carts downtown in NY are typically either chicken and rice or GYRO. Since halal is akin to kosher in terms of animal type and how it’s slaughtered I guess the types of meat are numerous - but I tend to agree with you and don’t make the connection with GYRO.

Enjoyable solve but not as splashy as it could have been.

kitshef 7:15 AM  

Very easy (back to back days), but still finished with an error at SAvES/AvERO. A baseball closer of course specializes in SAvES. And as has been firmly established, I know less about cars than the average two-month-old.

Is it just me, or is HANGING INDENT waaaaaaay too much in the weeds? I feel like one should have at least heard of the themers. Also never heard of NORAH O’Donnell. I put ‘chris’ there at first, a name I at least recognize, but the crosses fixed that fast enough. But it turns out Chris a) is male b) is an actor. Who was in, among other things, The Three Musketeers, so there was a tie-in to 1A opportunity.

Anonymous 7:33 AM  

17A Clue options:
(1) Scout rider [in one of todays other xword puzzles]
(2) "Harry and ________" (1974 film with AA-winning performance by Art Carney)

Hungry Mother 7:40 AM  

Cute theme which was very useful. REBOUND and DOUBLEDOWN remind me of my BUNGEE jumps: two in Surf City Australia and one in Zimbabwe.

Harry 7:42 AM  

Hate it when I get fixated on a specific clue interpretation. With Beach/Shade I couldn't get away from "from the sun". A resulting struggle should have had me second guessing, but two decent across fills (FAN page vs FAQ and FLY season vs FLU -- if you've ever lived where biting flies are profuse, "fly season" is a topic of discussion), held the blinders firmly to my eyes.

I was stuck with ANYA instead of AQUA and simply couldn't put it in reverse.

Dan Miller 7:45 AM  

Yes, and it cost me a streak. Ah well. There's always next week...

Anonymous 7:52 AM  

6:49 said- “ I'd prefer fewer domestic terrorists in my grid, but that's just me...” Why is that ? He’s (assuming you’re referring to Ayers) a famous person and certainly crossword worthy. He won’t hurt you I promise. You sound like Rex whining about right wingers or the guy yesterday complaining about Dr Oz. Inclusion of a person in a puzzle is not an endorsement of that person.

Rug Crazy 8:05 AM  

@Z - yes it was a printer thing - I referred back to the computer screen. Thanks

bocamp 8:05 AM  

Thank you, @Dylan for this "Daley" "Double". A very crunchy and somewhat challenging puz. :)

Med+ solve. 2 min. over avg.

This was a case where finally grokking the theme helped big time with the solve. Was at sea in the Great Lakes, having plunked down "extol" instead of "exalt", and being ignorant of too many things in that area. Getting the idea of "doubling" "tar" was the key. Took me a moment to come up with "steak", changed "extol" to "exalt", and "rebounded" ala Dennis Rodman.

Never belonged to a "frat"; rented a room in Walla Walla and lived in a dorm at EWC in Cheney (now EWU).

@A 9:21 PM last night

See my latest post yesterday for attempted "door/prize/goat/odds/choice" clarification. And, no, Schrödinger's cat is not to be found; no paradox here, just a hard concept to grok for many of us. LOL

I Will Always Love You ~ Whitney Houston

yd 0

Peace ~ Empathy ~ Kindness to all 🕊

Frosty Flake 8:17 AM  

I thought gyros were Greek. What do they have to do with Halal?

TTrimble 8:23 AM  

Set a Thursday PR solving this little pup.

By far the hardest theme was HANGINDENT: it's not merely that the repetition straddles the two words, but it straddles across syllables which makes it much more difficult to sound out. (Oh, I guess Rex said as much. Oh well.) The theme however was extremely easy to figure out from HEART MUR(MUR) which went in right away very early in the piece.

Only after solving, and puzzling still more, did it occur to me (just now) what the cluing for STUDIO is all about ("Oil spot"). I'm assuming that this means "art STUDIO", and the "oil" means oil as in a painting medium. Tricky, tricky, tricky.

About "Scrabble f***ing" -- really odious phrase, much more odious than the referent -- I don't know why this sets Rex off so much, but it occurs to me that the Crossword Compiler software tracks the letters used, and almost seems to invite using up all the letters. At least that's my memory when I was playing around with it years ago. Is it true that many constructors use Crossword Compiler?

OCTANT: I'm sure I'm in the minority, but my first association is not with a sector of a disc shape, but rather a connected region of coordinatized space that remains after you remove the three coordinate planes. (For example, the region consisting of all points where all three coordinates x, y, z are positive is one of eight octants.) Analogous to a quadrant in a coordinate plane. Thus, that answer took me longer than it otherwise might have. A rare instance where mathematics may have been a hindrance.

Guess that's all for now. @Gill I., hope you're doing well. Same goes to @Frantic Sloth.

Barbara S. 8:24 AM  

I enjoyed seeing my name as one of the themers, although I agree with Rex that it was one of the weaker offerings with the doubling happening within a single word. If all the doubling had occurred over two words, I would have been quite awe-struck (awe-stricken?) by the puzzle. As it is, it seems like an excellent idea that needed more work.

I found it easy and solved quickly but did have a near-Natick in the FRIO/IMS cross (guessed right). I also had some trouble in the SW: FLy season (guess I was thinking of my long-ago days in northern Ontario where black flies were a bane -- hi @Unknown, 7:42) and YEs instead of YEA for “Vote for” (must still be under the influence of IT’S A YES FROM ME from Saturday). Puzzle quirk – what’s with all the five-letter words starting with A (most of them names): ATHOS, ALLIE, AYERS, ALERO, ARGUE, AGORA. Last Friday we had Dorothy LAMOUR and today SARONG. Lamour was marketed by Paramount Studios as the “SARONG Queen” and got entirely fed up with it. Check out "What’s Sarong with This Picture?".

Today’s author is ANTHONY BURGESS, born Feb. 25, 1917.

“I do not think it is a fair picture of human life. I do not think so because, by definition, a human being is endowed with free will. He can use this to choose between good and evil. If he can only perform good or only evil, then he is a clockwork orange -- meaning that he has the appearance of an organism lovely with colour and juice but is in fact only a clockwork toy to be wound up by God or the Devil or (since this is increasingly replacing both) the Almighty State. It is as inhuman to be totally good as it is to be totally evil. The important thing is moral choice. Evil has to exist along with good, in order that moral choice may operate. Life is sustained by the grinding opposition of moral entities. This is what the television news is all about. Unfortunately there is so much original sin in us all that we find evil rather attractive. To devastate is easier and more spectacular than to create. We like to have the pants scared off us by visions of cosmic destruction. To sit down in a dull room and compose the Missa Solemnis or The Anatomy of Melancholy does not make headlines or news flashes.”
(From A Clockwork Orange)

Blackhat 8:30 AM  

6 of the opening 11 across clues PPP
Crossed with 2 more PPP and 3 of the 'Thursday Trick' clues.

UGH.....Calgon, take me away!

David Eisner 8:32 AM  

Yes, this killed me, too! I was almost ready to give up and finally just went to bed. I woke up at 4 AM with "Alero" in my head. I couldn't remember the down cross and fell back to sleep. Woke up this morning and filled it in. The streak survives. Brains are weird.

pabloinnh 8:32 AM  

Well I wrote out HANGINGINDENT and still didn't recognize it. Learn something every day. Hand up for SAVES, but my worst problem was in the SW, where FAN page crossed the "shade at the beach" clue, and I was wondering what kind of shade would be provided by an ANU_. Oops.

Ah, ALLIE, who wrote poetry in green ink on his baseball glove and whose death has been suggested as a major source of Holden's problems. Can't think of Catcher without thinking of ALLIE too. (Also my favorite uncle.)

Learned the origin of SARONG, and said hello to old friend OGEE, who has been MIA for some time. Welcome back.

I had fun with this one, so thanks DS. Your revealer came up about halfway through and was greatly appreciated.

Nancy 8:37 AM  

Everyone has said what I was going to say. The embedded ones are tricky and the single- word ones are complete gimmes.

The only problem for me was the first one because I have absolutely no idea what a HANGING INDENT is. Maybe when I go back and read y-all, someone will tell me?

But I had the theme at HEART MUR -- well before I got to the revealer. And it was a very, very, very tepid "Aha" on my part. It was more of an "Oh, okay."

From that moment on, there was no challenge at all. And the rest of the fill was flat and uninteresting. A disappointing Thursday that could have been made a lot better.

Tim Aurthur 8:39 AM  

@amyyani I made the same mistake. It seemed obvious.

Birchbark 8:51 AM  

Halal GYRO -- I live in a beautiful place in the middle of nowhere in Minnesota, now entering year two of work-from-home and no corporate travel. Fortunate and grateful, yes, under the circs -- but the quarterly visits to our NYC office at the very lowest tip of the island, it feels like a missing tooth. Halal GYROs or biryani and a bottle of water from street vendors anywhere you please, my favorite near the Trinity Churchyard by Wall Street -- a big delicious mess. I'd put it right up there with Delmonico's, at a sliver of the cost.

The nearest halal butcher is about a half-hour from here. I'll find an excuse to go there this weekend.

Anonymous 8:56 AM  

16 Across was one of the last ones I got. And I go to UVA law school :/

RooMonster 9:00 AM  

Hey All !
@amyyanni 6:46
That would be the AVEO, subcompact from Chevrolet. There was also the AERIO, basically the same car from Suzuki. So how can you be confusing the name ALERO? ;-)

Actually, ALEROs look pretty nice to me in the two-door version.

Anyway, liked this puz. On the NYT site, where it's $39 a year for the puzs, we get light-green shaded squares, instead of gray ones. Green paint? Har. But it's more pleasing to the eye.

Caught the theme at HANGINGDENT, of all places. That HANGIN part was crying out for the G, so did a double-look (a double-take more realistically) at the answer, then did a glance over to HEARTM___, and the lightbulb clicked on. 100 watter, that time, sometimes it's just a dimmer 60 watter! Wanted HEARTbeat, but too long, and that M was solid. Saw it could be MUR repeated, so looked back at 3D, saw the GIN repeating as G IN, then threw in the missing D to get INDENT, as wasn't quite sure that was the answer. The cross clue of "Choleric" not helping. But got it right!

Did get a chuckle out of Revealer. Would've been highly disappointed if the themers were Across, with the Revealer being DOUBLE DOWN. Dang, that would've been as nightmare of comments! Tricky answer at DANE (well, to me.) Had DAlE there forever, even having the whole REWOl at one point, and scratching the ole head as to what the heck that could be. Thankfully, the ole brain twerked the meaning of "Took back, as a trophy" to mean not the awarder taking the trophy back because the athlete used an illegal substance, but the athlete beating out another rival to take back the trophy from them. Good stuff.

Our old friend OGEES is back. Been awhile, grab a chair and tell us what's been happening.

Pangram today. If you have closed off corners like the NE/SW, why wouldn't you use them to get your pangram? I like stuff like that. Rex can take his scabblef#@!ing comments and throw them in the lake. Hey, just had a thought. If you have the letters to make PANGRAM on your Scrabble rack, is that a meta?

The shaded letter make GIN VER MUR BAR TAR. Sounds like a yummy drink. What would it be made from? ARGUE amongst yourselves. :-)

Four F's

TJS 9:00 AM  

What's with everyone acting like "hanging indent" is something we see every day? "Daley" is something we could have trouble with, but "hanging indent" Oh, yeah, sure, ok. WTF ?

Tonto "racial unpleasantness" ? All he did was stand back to back with the LR and beat the shit out of all the bad guys. Who would you rather want, Jingles ?
I guess it's good we didn't build any statues of Tonto so we don't have to go around tearing them down.

I have come to the conclusion that there are not two people who see the world more differently than Rex and I. Yay.

Nancy 9:09 AM  

YAY!!!! I finally know more about cars than someone else! I "knew"* ALERO and @kitshef (7:15) didn't!!! YAY me!!!

*But I knew it only from crossword puzzles. I certainly didn't know it from recognizing it in the street.

Actually, I did a TAKETAKE when I saw the ALERO clue. It says "final Oldsmobile model". Does that mean that Oldsmobile went BYEBYE when I wasn't looking? But how could that happen? It was such an important car, wasn't it?

burtonkd 9:18 AM  

@Z - I did wonder about that the first time I stepped up to a NYC Halal cart, but my taste buds told me to inquire no further. Learning at one point that Halal is the Muslim equivalent for Kosher allowed me to assume that the meat was all being well handled and make no further inquiries into how that is possible in 90 degree NYC summer weather with no visible large scale refrigeration. These carts are a staple of NYC subsistence when you are in touristy or wealthy neighborhoods (Hi, Nancy) and don't want to spend $27 for a sandwich and snapple for lunch. $5 for the lamb gyro with red and white sauce please! (My wife won't touch them:)

I thought I would DNF in the NW and SW for Rex's reasons probably.

Anonymous 9:24 AM  

@Anonymous 6:49 am - totally agree.

mathgent 9:33 AM  

Nancy said it well. The theme was more "Oh, okay" than "Aha!"

DOUBLEDOWN reminded me of playing Blackjack when Beat The Dealer came out and I learned the ten-count system. For most decks, it was correct to double down on tens and elevens. For some ten-rich decks, it was also correct to DOUBLEDOWN on nines. In those days, the casinos dealt from single decks and they went down to the last card. Blackjacks paid two-to-one.

Charles Flaster 9:41 AM  

Loved the theme and revealer.
STUDIO had a great brain-teasing clue.
Thanks DS and hope you give give us many more.

RG 9:54 AM  

Agree with Rex about this one. The NW corner was miserable. And while in some ways I am grateful to the constructor (or editor) for drawing the racial issue of TONTO National Forest to the public's attention, it certainly was a jarring clue. (To be fully clear, to have named a fictional Native character "Tonto" is to literally have named him "Foolish" or "Stupid". Naming a National Forest (which was home to a number of tribes until they were forced out by the US military) and National Monument (which is the site of ancient cliff dwellings of the Salado people) "Tonto" is the same basic issue.) Among many other needed reparations, it's way past time for these locations to have better names.

Anonymous 10:04 AM  

Well, at least ISUZU could start out as acUra. Not really are carmaker, sort of, just a marque.

And, no, I don't get GYRO as Halal.

Joaquin 10:13 AM  

@Nancy - Yes to both your questions. Oldsmobile went to that big used car lot in the sky in 2004. And it was a very important piece of automotive history.

algiardello 10:21 AM  


Peter P 10:26 AM  

@amyyanni - Yep, same thing happened to me. I dropped in SAvES and I thought AvERO was the car (but clearly I had conflated Aveo with Alero). I had to hit the "check puzzle" button to show me where my error was because a quick once- or twice-over didn't reveal any glaring typos. I like SAvES as an answer better, anyhow!

Katzzz 10:29 AM  

I"d like an octant of pie, please.

Crimson Devil 10:36 AM  

Yup, but Olds saved me.

CDilly52 10:36 AM  

@amyyanni: Ditto on SAVES! This is the time of year I get very excited about the season starting, and I spent some of Sunday looking into the MLB plans and my dear Cubbies’ future! And because I had no idea about the Olds, and AvERO looked as good as ALERO, if it weren’t for the lack of happy music, I’d have had a DNF too. I spent a full hour looking at every single answer and finally groked SALES/ALERO, and even recalled a commercial fir the ALERO. 🎶 and success. SAVES would have been a better and more clever answer.

sf27shirley 10:37 AM  

Yes! Didn't realize my mistake until I checked in here. I know so little about car models that when a coworker asked what model Toyota I drove, I was stymied. But closers, those I know. Anyone else remember that when the Giants were winning World Series titles their closer Brian Wilson said he'd always wanted to be the answer in the NYTX and lo and behold, they did it?

Carola 10:38 AM  

Challenging for me, despite my cottoning on to the theme fairly early with STEAK TARTARE: I found it hard to see the others (well, except for when I got to BARBARA), and many of the clues really flummoxed me. I'd forgotten Bill AYERS, and that fact that he was the sole way in to the NE corner aroused some choler. Eventually I came up with JUKE and finished.

@Nancy, in case no one's answered, a HANGING INDENT looks like this.

Z 11:02 AM  

Having the “Closer” being a car SALESman crossing ALERO is cute in a middle finger salute sort of way.

@TJS - See @RG9:54

That so many people here seem to be just learning what a HANGIN(G IN)DENT is surprises me. Apparently none of you ever had to write research papers using APA Style (or MLA Style either, apparently). I guess that definition wasn’t mind-numbingly easy just because it was a themer.

Crimson Devil 11:03 AM  

Best line I recall from S F sportswriter was mid/season when Giants were making inordinate amount of errors: He posed “What do our Giants and Michael Jackson have in common? They all wear a glove on one hand...for no apparent reason.”

Joe Dipinto 11:11 AM  

Food issues pervade the puzzle today. Isn't YOKO a vegetarian? She'd be appalled at intersecting STEAK TARTARE. REEFS makes me want to go to Johnny's Reef on City Island for fried shrimp.

Words That I Misspelled in Crucial Spelling BEEs:
"lethal" (5th grade)
"garrulous" (8th grade Daily News New York State championship)
"bombardier" (8th grade Catholic War Veterans "National" championship – this only included about 11 states, or maybe it was the original 13 colonies)

What was weird about the Catholic War Veterans contest was that the prize for winning New York State (which I did handily) was $500. But the prize for winning the "National" contest was only $100.

Anyway, this was an ok puzzle but I'd have to concur with Rex that having the repeated syllable within the same word isn't kosher. Or halal either.

It's a splendid-looking day in Brooklyn, think I'll go out into the sunshine.

newbie 11:13 AM  

@Unknown 7:42 am - I also tried fan and fly and had a hard time getting away from the sun at the beach. Caught onto flu first (vaccine is much on my mind) but was still stuck. Combined with yes/yea, that left me at one point with anus at the beach and I figured that couldn’t be right, right? Finally, gave up on wanting fan so badly, took out the n and marched through the alphabet until I got to Congratulations! AQUA and FAQ - of course!

Tonto means stupid? ! But, if anything, he was the incisive one who said little but knew everything! Perhaps the name was a joke - my childhood recollection is that there was a fair amount of dry humor in that show. Loved it. Big fan of Tonto. Fond memories. While I now can understand indigenous people’s dismay and anger, of course (women have some issues, too) - from the other side, those shows gave children a healthy respect for then Indians, now native Americans/indigenous people. We were looking at it completely differently. He was a good guy, a hero. Just saying that maybe it wasn’t all bad. Don’t want to start a big argument here - don’t @ me, bro!

A 11:14 AM  

Happily, there was so much I didn’t know, or didn’t see right away, that I ended up solving from the SE back to the NW, which saved me from the disappointment that so deflated OFL. My first themer was BAR(BAR)A BUSH, which cheered me up, as it reminded me of the Barbara Ann reference from the other day. The last was the hardest, HANGIN(G IN)DENT, which I briefly (before getting MAD) thought was HANGIN(G IN)tENT. I could see a professor taking off points for a bibliographical citation have hanging intent. Once I saw INDENT I remembered that was something I used to know, like much of this puzzle.

@bocamp from yesterday, thanks, I will reread vos Savant. I did skim the Schrödinger article, and found this interesting:
"In a letter to Schrödinger dated 1950, he [Einstein] wrote:
You are the only contemporary physicist, besides Laue, who sees that one cannot get around the assumption of reality, if only one is honest. Most of them simply do not see what sort of risky game they are playing with reality—reality as something independent of what is experimentally established. ……. Nobody really doubts that the presence or absence of the cat is something independent of the act of observation."

Back to Monty, I guess my question is (which I didn’t see addressed in cos Savant’s explanation either) if the two doors not chosen can, prior to the choice, comprise 2/3 of the probability, why can’t the chosen door and one of the other two also be said to comprise 2/3? Then, after one of the unchosen is eliminated, wouldn’t the two remaining doors comprise 1/3 each?

Mr. Benson 11:23 AM  

Almost finished in good time... but I was so sure that 28D (“Closer’s specialty”) was SAvES (as in baseball) that I never gave it a second thought and it took me forever to recheck the grid after the app told me something was off. Should have looked closer at ALERO crossing it.

Malsdemare 11:26 AM  

I’m going to comment before reading Rex (and thus my fellow blogsters) because I really liked this and don’t want him to make me overthink it. Sluggish brain this am so I really struggled to get going. There were lots of pretty clear clues that I just couldn’t drag out of my mental trashcan. I got ATHOS right off but for me HADES is a place, not an architect, no clue at all what the halal cart would offer (even though I like GYROs), and Lord knows I’m not going to remember Holden’s sister. And so it went, with me getting something here, something there, never enough to give me toehold. And then, and Then, I got the first themer, STEAKTARE, went “Whoa!” and I was off to the races. Knowing the trick made things a little easier but it also made it fun doing the gymnastics to make it work. COVERSION was a challenge. I had COUP but the OV made me erase the C for L (you know, some sort of love song???). Getting HEARTMUR gave me the U that verified COUP and then the penny dropped. I love it when that happens.

One of the things I liked was trying to figure out men who were VP and pres. When I first came to that clue, before figuring out the trick, I confidently entered BARbara but of course that’s one letter short. That meant I spent significant time trying to think who else would qualify. When HANGING INDENT strolled into my brain, I had that lovely “aha” moment, entered BARABUSH and finally got what HEART problem that stethoscope would catch.

So now I’m going to read Rex and return here to see if @Lewis or others have come up with other themers. Thanks, Dylan, that was terrific.

JC66 11:28 AM  

For me, 28D was as easy as ABC...Always Be Closing (Glengarry Glen Ross)

@GILL & @Frantic

Hope all is well.

sixtyni yogini 11:30 AM  

Okay, Rex et al make good points in their crits, but I really liked this one.
Some clever clues, and I learned some things.
It was tough in spots but fun (for me) which does not discount the valid points of others.

Peter P 11:32 AM  

@Z - I was able to figure out HANGING INDENT, but I don't recall the term, despite doing papers with citations both in APA and MLA style (depending on the class in college) and even taking design/layout courses. Apparently, in my brain, it was stored as "indent the subsequent lines" without the concise terminology. I'm not at all surprised people don't remember the full term.

@newbie - Tonto the Lone Ranger character is named after the Potowatami word for "wild one," according to the show creator. That is means "stupid one/fool" in Spanish is an unfortunate coincidence. But that does remind me of Gary Larson's comic of the Lone Ranger discovering what "Kemosabe" means:

Chip Hilton 11:38 AM  

If I were the type to go crazy over a single letter error, there’d be a forehead imprint on my wall over AvERO. SAvES was an absolute gimmee and, really, who knows Oldsmobiles? Not me, not since my late, great 1967 F-85. Sigh . . . better go get some spackle and a couple of Tylenol.

KRMunson 11:39 AM  

I had FAN instead of FAQ and YES for YEA IN THE SW corner. That gave me ANUS instead of AQUA for 57 down. Didn’t seem right for “Shade at the beach”. I didn’t think the NYTXW. was that progressive...

Lewis 11:44 AM  

@ttrimble -- Yes, many constructors use Crossword Compiler. It doesn't have a version for Apple, and so many constructors with Apples use CrossFire.

burtonkd 11:46 AM  

@JC66, you beat me to it, so I'll take the other quote, "Coffee is for closers".

MarthaCatherine 11:46 AM  

All those episodes of The Lone Ranger and I never knew Tonto means "stupid." That makes me so sad. What were the writers thinking?!?!?!?!? How repulsively insulting. Especially because Tonto was always such a strong silent type who was smarter than everyone else.

I thought Rex would have more to say about that, especially given his propensity to be insulted on Asian people's behalf by "nip."

Nancy 11:46 AM  

It's so wonderful to know that @A (11:14) doesn't understand the goats-behind-doors thing either!!

I have always thought of myself as a math-proficient person who simply chose to go into a different field. I aced all my math classes; my SAT and Achievement scores were quite good. But just about every day it seems, something is written on this blog that makes me think: You are not all that math-proficient, Nancy! It's damn lucky you chose other pursuits! Four people tried to explain the "Let's Make a Deal" PARADOX yesterday and four people made it about as clear as mud to me. I still see the after-revealing-the-goat-behind-door #3 choice as a 50-50 proposition. One out of three odds was then (with 3 unknown doors) and one out of two odds (with two unknown doors) is now.

Ok, Ok -- evidently I'm wrong. So here's what I'm going to do. When Monty asks me if I want to change doors, I'll simply say "yes". I'll know I'm improving my chances even if I have absolutely no idea why. And I just won't worry my pretty little head about it for another minute. :)

Newboy 11:50 AM  

I enjoy it more than most Dylan, so keep up the good work. More experienced solvers seem to focus on what might have been done better, but the majority of solvers who don’t have the moxie to post here (I lurked for a decade before my toe first entered the AQUA blue name set) are more easily satisfied. Different strokes? I chortled today when BUNGEE REBOUNDED for example and I saw TONTO as a socially subtle means of raising the Lone Ranger’s implicit racism...what I once knew as a “teachable moment” instead of Miztak!

newbie 11:52 AM  

@David 8:32 am - As you probably know, Einstein (and others) credited dreams with giving them solutions to problems - so you’re in good company.

My bff used to use a famous Einstein quote about his Theory of Relativity at the bottom of her emails: “I thought of that while riding my bicycle.” Brains really are mysterious wonders.

At its best, solving a crossword puzzle reminds me of looking at one of those MRIs where you actually see your brain working. It’s so cool! I’ve found it with picture puzzles, too - suddenly you pick up a piece and put it directly where it goes without thinking or knowing how you knew that. When I was proofreading and copyediting a lot, my boss got spooked by the way I could just walk up, glance at a page and instantly point to a mistake. I still don’t know how that happened!

bocamp 11:55 AM  

@amyyanni 6:46 AM

Yup, "saves" went right in, then went right out, as "Alero" went in. Was in "sales" at different times in my experience, and the concept of "closing" was always important, so that sealed the "sales" deal. LOL

@Barbara S. 8:24 AM

The passage from Clockwork Orange is definitely thought provoking, especially re: our obsession with gloom and doom, and the propensity of the news media to take advantage of it. :(

@A 11:14 AM


Now you, along with @Barbara S., have my head filled and spinning with thoughts of probabilities and gloom and doom. How will I be able to concentrate on the SB? 😂

I think we may need to evoke @TTrimble for the answer to your question, tho. 🤔

It may be more like Schrödinger's cat than I thot. 😉

One thing I do know, tho, is that 1/3 + 1/3 doesn't equal 100%, and the probability that the prize is behind one of the two remaining doors is definitely 3/3. I know this doesn't resolve the mental conflict but, just sayin'. 😊

Grokking is not supposed to be easy, ala Heinlein. 🤓

Peace ~ Empathy ~ Kindness to all 🕊

newbie 12:06 PM  

@Anonymous 8:56 am - Hahaha - and that illustrates another mysterious side of the brain! ; D

Whatsername 12:09 PM  

Very pleasant Thursday, a pangram and a debut to boot. I started out thinking it was going to be way heavy on the PPP but as it turned out wasn’t bad at all. Theme was a lot of fun or me and a very enjoyable solve. Missteps were EIGHTH for OCTANT at 4D and PITCH for SALES at 28D thinking baseball. The constructor in his notes admits to some weak spots, in particular the two isolated corners, but I thought this was pretty well done overall. Congratulations Dylan!

“I Will Always Love You” was originally written and recorded by Dolly Parton who according to Wikipedia took in around $10 million in royalties in the 1990s alone, thanks to Whitney Houston's VERSION.

I was devastated to learn that the Lone Ranger has been insulting his faithful partner TONTO to his face all these years. I thought he held him in much greater ESTEEM than that.

I pledge allegiance to the FRAT.

Phil 12:16 PM  

The themes did die on the vine. I expect the theme answer to actually be a legit phrase or word.

It would be interesting if a theme like this had valid answers with appropriate clues not theme clues. Then you would have to find the thematic answer.

Tom R 12:17 PM  

Once I got hanging indent the rest of the puzzle was easy - maybe too easy for a Thursday. But I do have one nit to pick on 55A.

I know Rex hates bridge clues, but I am obsessed with the game and have played it in sanctioned, competitive games for 50 years. I am also a certified director. The problem with that clue (bridge declaration in casual play) and answer "I pass" is with the "I". Pass is a call, not a declaration, and the "I" part is both not allowed in the rules but in the old days would have produced a director call. You would never hear it today in sanctioned games because oral bidding has gone the way of the Edsel. Everyone uses bidding boxes (which is a huge improvement).

Like I said, its just nit picking, but it rubs me the wrong way.

A 12:23 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
bigsteve46 12:23 PM  

"Everyone has said what I was going to say." Not the first time I've seen this comment or its equivalent. If that's your observation, why say anything at all? The world will spin on its axis if a few of you daily posters occasionally took a day off.

Masked and Anonymous 12:25 PM  

@RP: Yes yes yes. NYTPuz could have a ULURU Week, or somesuch.
And yep, gotta admit, I squirmed a little in my puzchair, when I was decodin the NW fillins. Didn't help, that "hanging indent" sounded like some kinda injury that the mob wanted to bestow on Veep Pence.

staff weeject pick: MUR, be-hi-lited with gray square respect in the puzgrid. honrable mention to RUB, whose {Central difficulty} clue M&A will dedicate the rest of his day to try to understand. MURMURin a lot to hisself. Now, {Central difficulty} = FICU woulda made more immediate sense, to the M&A …

Primo scrabbly weeject stacks in the NE & SW, btw. har -- look at all that JVKFFQY stuff! Coupla U's, too boot. day-um.

Figured out the theme mcguffin at STEAKTARTARE. Cool theme idea. Didn't seem like a ThursPuz one, tho, due to it havin a ginormous revealer. WedPuz'd been better.

Thanx for the fun with few solvequest BOOs other than that there RUB difficulty, Mr. Schiff dude. And congratz on yer debut, with almost more U's than a week of ULURU's.

Masked & Anonymo11Us


Anonymous 12:37 PM  

Peter P,

Yes!! Tonto was used to honor the character not disparage. The grievance are flat out wrong about this as they so often are. For more than a century North American birders called one very gorgeous duck and oldsquaw. Now, of course, that's verboten. It's now prosaically called a long-tailed duck. Too bad the idea that squaw was some sort of pejorative has been thoroughly debunked.
Read Abenaki scholar Marge Bruhac on the subject. She's written extensively on it. If that's' too hard just know that squaw comes from the Algonquin family of languages where words like esqua, ochqueu, skew, iskew, esquao, mean The totality of being female.

Hi Ho Silver, grab your binoculars and let's ride Tonto. The oldsquaws are in breeding plumage and few things are more beautiful.
See you in Barnegat.

Anonymous 12:42 PM  


You've answered your own question. The open door and the unchosen door do indeed total 2/3 of the probability. Monty is giving you the open door and the initially unchosen third door. Therefore you now have 2/3 of the doors as opposed to your first choice which gave you 1/3 of the doors.
You're getting hung up on the open door with nothing behind it. That it is empty is immaterial to the problem at hand.

JC66 12:46 PM  


re: RUB

Think Shakespeare's Hamlet.

newbie 12:46 PM  

@Peter P 11:32 am - I like Tonto meaning “wild one.” Makes me think that perhaps everybody should stop worrying so much about what words mean in other languages because we’re driving ourselves crazy and there’s too much of that already. I recognized the cartoon when I saw it - hilarious. Spurred (no pun intended) me to look up Ke-mo-sah-bee (Wikipedia’s spelling) - very interesting. Thanks. P.S. I didn’t like the latest film version of the Lone Ranger - to me, it didn’t capture the feeling of the original at all, imho.

jberg 12:51 PM  

@Nancy and others -- a HANGING INDENT is the opposite of a first-line indent: the first line is flush with the margin, and every other line is indented. Bibliographies are done that way because it makes the author's surname stand out, and that's how the entries are alphabetized. If you're using a word processor, when you format a paragraph you get to choose between hanging, first line, and no indentation.

That said, I just put in HANG INDENT thinking it was one of those informal phrases that no one except constructors actually uses. Then I got HEART MURMUR and saw the doubling thing -- but I could not see that the doubled part was GIN! I wanted it to be ING, confirming the point made by Rex and others about the elegance of that answer. I think STEAK TARTARE made me finally able to see it.

me too for Glengarry Glen Ross and closing; baseball never even occurred to me. It may be that I had ALERO already, a car name I know only from crosswords.

I knew DALEY all right - I've read books (more than one!) about the father. But the ALLIE/ELI cross was pure guesswork. Fortunately I guessed right. But the NE almost did me in, on account of I was spelling Bill AYERS ad if he was Lew AYRES, plus my taps were in a pub, had no idea about the non-CLE Cavaliers (though I avoided the trap by noticing it was a college team), and just stared at the other entries. Finally it came back to me -- I mean, I knew all about him back in the SDS days (never spoke to him, we were in opposing factions). His commitment to education went back further than the Wiki article let on -- in SDS, he was in a group trying to organize elementary students. As I recall, they would go to a school, yell "Jailbreak!" and encourage kids to run out of the school as a protest against authoritarian teaching. Sounds ridiculous, but I think he later developed the basic attitude in more realistic applications.

Me too for FAn page first, and I don't use Facebook all that much.

Unknown 12:52 PM  

And for a Steely Dan take on TONTO- from "Only a Fool Would Say That:" "Solamente un tonto diría eso"

Frankly, I imagine some day in the future where every word in the puzzle will somehow get Rex's hackles up.

Pete 12:53 PM  

@Nancy I Monte asked you to pick a door, then offered you the chance to piy the other two instead, what would you do? That's the exact situation here, except you know which of the two you picked didn't have the good prize

jberg 12:54 PM  

@Z from yesterday -- I'm sure you're right, I'm only an amateur on Twitter. I think of a thread as involving more than one tweeter, but I'm thinking that's too narrow.

Jay Silverheels 1:03 PM  

Remember that Kemo Sabe means Shithead.

pabloinnh 1:08 PM  

I may have mentioned this before, but if we're going to go all Spanish on poor Tonto, I have also seen Ke-moh-sah-bee translated as "que no sabe", "he who doesn't know".

I'm with the "tonto is a coincidence" faction, and not with the "it has to mean foolish" faction.

albatross shell 1:13 PM  

If you read the constructors notes you would find he agrees with almost all of Rex's criticisms and maybe more. First puzzle and after it was accepted he got to meet other constructors and realized how much it could have been tightened up. I guess you could also say it means Will is a shitty editor? Hmm. Maybe constructors brainwashed him being the alternative explanation? Hope he doesn't make the perfect the enemy of the good.

I never thought of baseball and still had to change that answer a couple times. A closer closes dealS. ISNT? A closer SealS the deal. A closer makes the SellS. That sounds awkward. Ahh. SALES. Sure glad SAvES wasn't right.

Teedmn 1:17 PM  

As @David Eisner 8:32 said, brains are weird. I had everything except 11D, 12D and 13D filled in the grid. I was pretty sure 22A was AYERS and 12D was OVER and had put them in but could not get past the pub/bar answer in 19A so _E_ was getting me nowhere.

NCAA team names vis-a-vis their schools are to me what car makes and models are to @Nancy; 16A was a total WOE. So I cheated and Googled NCAA Cavaliers. I almost never do that but I'd rather cheat than not finish, apparently. Once I confirmed that what I suspected was UVA from the _V_ at 16A, the rest fell into place. So why did I have to know that UVA was correct before my brain could relax enough to see GAGS, JUKE and KEG? Weird.

@Barbara S, that's an interesting quote and explains what a clockwork orange is, which I had never tracked down. I was never able to finish watching the movie, "A Clockwork Orange". Perhaps the book's quote was in the movie but I never ran into it in the few scenes I could bear to watch. Certainly, entropy rules and it is oh so much easier to destroy than create.

burtonkd 1:30 PM  

@newbie, thanks for the Einstein quote about the bicycle. That and a warm shower produce a lot of my creative thinking. As you said, nice to know you're in good company.

Havana Man 1:40 PM  

I had FAN for "kind of page" and YES as "vote for" which created ANUS for "shade at the beach"-- I wasted about 20 minutes trying to justify that....

albatross shell 1:45 PM  

The door problem: It is important to remember god is opening the doors. He is not opening them randomly. It is god's law that you will see what is behind each door but one other, and that one will be the winning door if your chosen door is not the winner. It will be a losing door if your chosen door is the winner.

Now imagine 100 doors with one being the winner.
You select one door. God comes along and knows the winning door. He tells you if you have the winning door I will open 98 of the doors that are not winners. If you have not chosen the winning I will open every door except the winner. Which door will you now want? The one you chose or the one god left unopened?

Compare that to these 2 scenarios.
Same situation. You choose one door. You open the other doors as you please one at a time. After the 98th door you have not found the winning door. Should you switch doors or not? Does it matter?

Same situation but you choose 2 doors. You open the others and after all 98 are open the winning door has not been found. Is there anyway of improving your odds from 50-50?

Masked and Anonymous 1:53 PM  

@JC66 - Thanx. OK, I can kinda see that. Plus, so can the Official M&A Help Desk Dictionary, I reckon.
Just found this well-buried alternate RUB definition:

(usu. the rub) a difficulty, esp. one of central importance in a situation: that was the rub—she had not cared enough.
[from Shakespeare's Hamlet ( iii. i. 65).]

Still kinda partial to FICU, tho. It don't need no stinkin "usu. the".


Anonymous 2:02 PM  

Unknown 12:52- from If I Had a Boat by Lyle Lovett:
The mystery masked man was smart
He got himself a Tonto
'Cause Tonto did the dirty work for free
But Tonto he was smarter
And one day said kemo sabe
Well, kiss my ass, I bought a boat
I'm going out to sea

albatross shell 2:08 PM  

@tom r
I think the "in casual play" clearly indicates it is not tournament play but friends around the card table with drinks playing. Did Rex say something or did I misunderstand you?

Who besides Tonto? Chester? John Watson? Jingles? Robin? No.
Yancey's native body and moral guard? Emma Peel? Kato? Yes.

bocamp 2:20 PM  

Another point of view on the plethora of controversial (or so-called controversial) words (regardless of language of origin) that show up in the xword, and the seemingly endless possible meanings and interpretations attached thereto:

I value these words as a stepping stone to better understand past and present examples of both personal and institutional prejudice, discrimination, injustice, etc. I learn much from this blog through the discussion of these words/issues and welcome people's thoughts. Adding extra research into the mix, I'm slowly, but surely learning what it means to be anti-racist, anti-sexist, and anti-anything that discriminates against any group of human beings who have been, and continue to be, treated unjustly.

I'm grateful for this blog @Rex and its commentariat. 😊

Monty Hall Alert

@Anonymous 12:42 PM wrote:

"You're getting hung up on the open door with nothing behind it. That it is empty is immaterial to the problem at hand."

This is getting closer to the crux of the problem. Yes, send the goat behind the third door to @A's back forty, but take the 1/3 weight of that door and glue it to the second door, which will now weigh 2/3, figuratively speaking. The originally chosen door will always weigh 1/3, regardless of what is done on the other side of the equation. Iow, always go with the 2/3 side. Getting together with a friend and repeating this experiment enough times, your winning percentage will be 66.7.

pg - 32

Peace ~ Empathy ~ Kindness to all 🕊

Joe Dipinto 2:22 PM  

In case anyone still cares:

The thing to remember with the Monty Hall Problem is that when Monty opens the second door, you're not getting new information that affects your door's 1/3 chance of being correct. From the start there *had* to be one door out of the two you didn't pick that doesn't have a car behind it.

KRMunson 2:40 PM  

See above. I had the same comment.

Anonymous 2:50 PM  

Ahem. No, I was at the very heart of the problem when I stated plainly that the initial equation was 1/3 and 2/3. Getting the empty door and the not-originally-chosen third door is the entire issue. As you know, when a player changes his choice from his original door he now doubles his odds of winning. Going from 1/3 to 2/3.That aint the crux, it's the whole ball of wax.

As for the people who've said they were good at math or thought they were. Check out Christopher Havens. He's good at math. Then maybe ask yourself why you think you are. Or even thought you might have been.

Erik O 2:51 PM  

Neophyte cruciverbalist here. Recently finished my first Saturday, albeit a legendarily easy one ( so thought I would start commenting here with my attempts. That said, currently I can only reliably finish M-W, so perhaps I will only comment on M-Th. This one was a hard DNF for me, giving up after 20 minutes. Knew zero of the PPP except a guess on GENEVA. Might have had a shot at BARBARA BUSH but was led astray by the lack of capitalization in the cluing. I did not have a problem with TROU ("drop trou") but the term does seem dated to me. "Choleric" and "choler" were both mysteries to me, but at least I learned the etymology of "cholera." I recently had my first "black bile" clue, and now I have yellow bile in my repertoire - perhaps before too long the NYTXW will make me an expert humorist (ha ha). With few accurate fills the highlight of the puzzle for me was ISNT.

albatross shell 2:57 PM  

Rereading my post on doors, let me make it simpler.
100 doors, 1 winner. You get to choose one. One chance in 100 you have the winner. God comes and tells you if your one in 100 door is not the winner I guarantee you one hundred per cent that if that door you chose is not the winner this one is. And he shows you that door. And he says whether or not you chose a winning door I was going to select one door and tell you the same thing. Do you want the one in a hundred door you chose or the door god chose that is the winning door whenever yours is not? God's door will be the winning door 99 out of a 100 times.

Anonymous 3:10 PM  

Monty's doors. I don't understand why I am wrong. Pick one of three. A random pick. Monty opens one of the 2 remaining doors, revealing a goat. You have the option to pick the remaining door in place of your original pick. You are now starting over. You can pick the one you picked before, or you can pick the other one. One has the car. You have no other information. A random 50/50 pick. It's the same as if you had only two choices to begin with. I welcome a coherent explanation otherwise. Thank you. (There's a 40& chance that I'm 71A-DENSE.)

Joaquin 3:12 PM  

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, TONTO not realizing that The Lone Ranger had disguised himself as a pool table, racked his balls.

Erik O 3:18 PM  

@Anonymous. Your initial pick has a 1/3 chance of being correct. In the event your guess is correct, whichever door Monty opens is irrelevant. In the other 2/3 of the time, the door is one of the other two doors. So there is a 2/3 chance one of the two doors you did not pick is the correct door. Monty kindly eliminates one of those two doors for you, but the 2/3 probability remains.

Z 3:30 PM  

Anybody else not realize that @Newboy and @newbie are different people before today? D’Oh.

@Anon12:42 @Erik O 3:18, and @Joe Dipinto have the best Monte Hall explanations. Of course, in actually playing the game making the “right” choice still loses one third of the time.

@Peter P - Obviously you’re not alone. Why this piece of trivial trivia is taking up important space in the old gray cells is beyond me, but it did help me suss out the theme almost immediately.

@A - Your Schrödinger comment reminded me of the thought experiment’s, er, fatal flaw; The cat is an observer.

jae 3:36 PM  

Easy-medium. Pretty good Thursday, liked it, but both the author and Jeff acknowledge in their Xwordinfo comments that it could use a little polishing.

Following up on what @Albatross 1:13 posted, here is what Dylan said he’d do differently:

1. Tighten up the theme. Always have the gimmick span over two words? Have the shaded letters spell out words or even a hidden message? I was happy just to find symmetrical theme answers.
2. Restructure the grid for better flow and more long answers. The isolated northeast/southwest corners just happened. Plus, there are only two long answers outside the theme, and they aren't terribly colorful.
3. Clean up the fill! I was content to find words that could fit in the grid rather than words I was excited to include.

sanfranman59 3:38 PM  

Medium NYT Thursday ... 7% below my Thursday 6-month median solve time ... NYT debut for Dylan Schiff ... I've seen his by-line a few times in LAT and Universal puzzles

I thought this was a pretty clever idea for a Thursday theme and I liked ferreting out all five of the themers. I picked up on it pretty early in my solve at HEART MUR(MUR) {6D: Stethoscope detection}. I was fooled a little by STEAK TAR(TAR)E {10D: Dish often topped with raw egg yolk} because I had it my head that it was STEAK TARE(TARE). Now that I type it out, I realize that's clearly not it.

I made a lot of significant missteps that cost me chunks of solve time: 'STash' before STORE {5D: Cache} and 'AdaS' before ATTS {1D: Courtroom figs.} right from the get-go in the NW; 'adore' before EXALT {15A: Venerate}, 'ira' before ELI {9D: Director Roth of cinema's Splat Pack}, 'aesop' before HADES {6A: Architect of the original Sisyphean task} and 'AXis' before AXLE {7D: Turning point} in the middle-north section; 'SeRape' before SARONG {37A: Garment whose name comes from the Malay for "sheath"} in the middle-east; 'FAn' before FAQ {62A: Kind of page} in the SW; 'SAvES' before SALES {28D: Closer's specialty} in the middle-west.

I made a particular mess of the middle-north and that's where I finished up. Given all of the fumbling around up there and the fact that I couldn't recall ALLIE {18A: Holden's late brother in "The Catcher in the Rye"}, I'm not sure how I managed to sort it out.

With all of those errors and in pretty much every section of the grid, I'm surprised that I posted a pretty darned good solve time. I enjoyed this tussle. Two thumbs up from me.

Anonymous 4:04 PM  

anon 3:10.

Why on earth do you believe "you're starting over" when Monty opens a door?
You are not starting over. And the odds have not changed. At all.
Your first pick has a one third chance of being correct. The other two doors have a two thirds chance of being correct. Period. That's it. That's all there is.
The Monte Hall problem is actually a question. And the question is whether a player is advantaged by changing his original choice. Let that settle in. Forget about open doors doors for just one minute.
If you were given this choice: keeping your first pick let's call it door A, OR getting to pick BOTH doors B and C, what would you choose?

Of course you would choose B and C because 2/3 of the time the prize would be behind one of those doors. And that's precisely what you're faced with when confronted with this problem.
Monte IS giving you doors B and C. That B is revealed to have nothing behind it doesn't mean that it isn't part of the set which has 2/3 chance of winning. Nothing magical happened by his opening that door. the odds didn't change. It's still 2/3 for the doors you didn't pick originally and 1/3 for the door you did pick. Ergo, the answer to monte Hall problem is: yes, you are advantaged by switching doors. and that advantage is in fact doubling your odds.

This isn't opinion. This is a widely known fact.

bocamp 4:13 PM  

Monty Hall Alert

@Anonymous 2:50 PM wrote:

"Ahem. No, I was at the very heart of the problem when I stated plainly that the initial equation was 1/3 and 2/3."

Have always agreed with this, and yes, that's the heart of the problem from a mathematical standpoint.

From a visual perspective – for those of us who are either non math-savvy or have visual conception difficulties – your comment about "not getting hung up on the door with nothing behind it" is the crux to which I referred. Iow, focus on the remaining door on that side of the equation and understand that it now represents 2/3.

As @Joe indicated, everyone knows that the door Monty opens is not going to be the car, so the 1/3 and 2/3 equation still holds, even after the door is opened.

It's the visual/physical aspect I'm going after, not so much the math; most seem to agree with the math, but not necessarily understand why it's so.

@Anonymous 3:10 PM

Try thinking of the problem using a larger number of doors, e.g. 10

You pick one, which gives you a 1/10 chance of winning the car.

Monty opens 8 doors, all with goats behind.

You now are given the option of changing your original choice.

Do you still think you have a 50/50 chance either way you go?

Or, if 10 doors doesn't convince you, try a much larger number, with Monty always removing all but two.

So, if this makes sense, then the strategy to change your choice should hold all the way down to, and including, the original problem with 3 doors.

pg - 24

Peace ~ Empathy ~ Kindness to all 🕊

TTrimble 4:26 PM  

I am a little reluctant to enter the Monty Hall discussion. I thought both @bocamp yesterday and Anonymous 2:50 PM gave good explanations.

However, it is important to note that one of the puzzle assumptions is that Monty Hall is *guaranteed* to show you a door with nothing (or a booby prize, like a goat) behind it. For example, if Monty Hall did not know in advance a door he could open that is guaranteed not to have the authentic prize, but opened one of the two doors at random and it just happened not to have the authentic prize, then under that scenario the conditions of the problem are quite different, and indeed there would be no compelling reason to switch.

I'll just link to a site which has full details on the original Monty Hall and variations. This puzzle is a good exercise in "conditional probability".

But what I would recommend for anyone who is having trouble accepting the conclusion of vos Savant is simply run a simulation. You can do it with two people with one playing the role of Monty Hall. Run the experiment about 30 times and tabulate the results. Then you should be convinced that by switching doors consistently after receiving MH's information, the chances are 2/3 that switching gets you the prize (the number of successes on a particular run might not be exactly 20 out of 30, but with high confidence it will be close to that).

Birchbark 4:37 PM  

@Eric O (2:51) -- Bilious chortling at your "expert humorist."

ghostoflectricity 4:38 PM  

You're all over it when the NYT crossword has a personage of the Trumpista persuasion or anywhere near. I'm pretty far left myself, but I don't care for terrorists of any stripe. Bill Ayers is a terrorist, pure and simple- as much as the treasonous right-wing scum (and their inciter-in-chief, whom President Biden appropriately calls the "former guy"). But you let the designation of him as an "activist" and his placement in the grid pass uncommented-upon. Unlike the f- and s- a--hole bombs that explode from you if Ted C*** or similar personages appear. Radical-chic hypocrisy, a little?

Masked and Anonymous 4:39 PM  

Possible replacement for TONTO, a dropping of TROU, etc., in the NW? Not necessarily any better, but different:

1. A few laughs
14. As ___ resort
17. Runty truck source
1. Tops at the rodeo
2. Family name in the big leagues
4. Using the old stink-eye, perhaps
5. Icy look

M&A Hangin Dent Desk

TTrimble 4:43 PM  

But just a little addendum to the Monty Hall problem: the great Paul Erdős, one of the very greatest mathematicians of the 20th century by anyone's measure, also got hung up on this problem -- and got angry when people could not explain it to his satisfaction. (Someone finally did: his longtime collaborator Ronald Graham, also a stellar mathematician, after making very clear the import of the standing assumption that Monty is guaranteed to show you a door without the big prize.)

I say this because of the stature of Erdős, who I *virtually* guarantee was far superior in mathematical ability to Christopher Havens -- though I was interested to look Havens up and learn about his story. Anyway, there was something about

"As for the people who've said they were good at math or thought they were. Check out Christopher Havens. He's good at math. Then maybe ask yourself why you think you are. Or even thought you might have been."

that was tonally off. Erdős was extremely good at math, otherworldly good, but sometimes math gets the best of us, i.e., we can all make mistakes.

Greg 5:40 PM  

Will just echo the problem with AYERS being the only entry into NE. I was born in 65 and didn't know that name. Added a good 10 minutes to my time just staring at NE corner before I finally saw KEG, which got me to the end. How about if there is only one entry to a region, you don't make it a might-not-be-known proper name?

Anonymous 5:40 PM  

You’ve got it wildly wrong. Redos couldn’t solve the problem precisely beaches he wasn’t solving the problem everyone assumed he was.
Once presented with the problem correctly, he saw the solution instantly.

The folks here aren’t unaware of the fact that Hall is showing them a guaranteed empty door, so their problem lay elsewhere.

Joaquin 5:45 PM  

And speaking of TONTO, if you have not heard this story told by Jay Thomas (or even if you have) it is hilarious.

RooMonster 5:57 PM  

Damn you Monty Hall!

RooMonster Shaking His Fists Guy

bocamp 6:00 PM  

@TTrimble 4:26 PM / TTrimble 4:43 PM

Excellent summation! 👍

pg -6

Peace ~ Empathy ~ Kindness to all 🕊

newbie 6:12 PM  

@Z 3:30 pm - 😂 Even I got confused a few times. I'm the funny one - and I think he's a boy, folx. I may change my handle if I ever feel less like a newbie (I didn't know about Newboy when I started here). Anything you've disagreed with was written by him, not me. 😉

@Erik 2:51 pm - Welcome and congratulations on the Saturday finish. I think that was my first one, too! 😊

Erik O 6:32 PM  

@Birchbark (4:37) Glad you liked it.

@newbie (6:12) Thank you! Hope to see you around late-week as well before too long.

Bruce Fieggen 6:45 PM  

@bocamp 8:05. I dated a girl from Cheney many years back and walked the EWU campus many times.

newbie 6:46 PM  

@Roo 5:57 pm 😅

newbie 6:49 PM  

@Erik O - I'll be trying!

newbie 6:51 PM  

One question:

Did we win the car or not?

TTrimble 6:56 PM  

@Anonymous 5:40 PM
You’ve got it wildly wrong. Redos couldn’t solve the problem precisely beaches he wasn’t solving the problem everyone assumed he was."

Do I, now? Did you know Erdős personally? Do you have a source? No? Do you have telepathic powers, then? Or are you just speculating? (Don't worry, I know the answer.)

I'm going to quote at length from Paul Hoffman's biography of Erdős, The Man Who Loved Only Numbers, pp. 253-256, and then I shall have nothing further to say on the matter. If you wish to persist in arguing, I suggest you write Hoffman instead and tell him he got the story wildly wrong.

(Now some of you know why I was reluctant to say anything on the matter of Monty Hall. I remember going into it once when I was teaching a probability and statistics course, so I have some prior dealings with this.)

[The passage is long, so I will elide over some stuff, but nothing essential is left out, as you can verify for yourself.]

"Vazsonyi told Erdős about the Month Hall dilemma. 'I told Erdős that the answer was to switch,' said Vazsonyi, 'and fully expected to move on to the next subject. But Erdős, to my surprise, said, "No, that is impossible. It should make no difference." At this point I was sorry I brought up the problem, because it was my experience that people get excited and emotional about the answer, and I end up with an unpleasant situation. But there was no way to bow out, so I showed him the decision tree solution I used in my undergraduate Quantitative Techniques of Management course.' Vazsonyi wrote out a decision tree, not unlike the table of possible outcomes that vos Savant had written out, but this did not convince him. 'It was hopeless,' Vazsonyi said. 'I told this to Erdős and walked away. An hour later he came back to me really irritated. "You are not telling me why to switch," he said. "What is the matter with you?" I said I was sorry, but that I didn't really know why and that only yhr decision tree analysis convinced me. He got even more upset.' Vazsonyi had see this reaction before, in his students, but he hardly expected it from the most prolific mathematician of the twentieth century.

" 'Physical scientists tend to believe in the idea that probability is attached to things,' said Vazsonyi. 'Take a coin. You know the probability of a head is one-half. Physical scientists seem to have the idea that the probability of one-half is fused with the coin. It's a property. It's a physical thing. But say I take that coin and toss it a hundred times and each time it comes up tails. You will say something is wrong. The coin is false. But the coin hasn't changed. It's the same coin that it was when I started to toss it. So why did I change my mind? Because my mind has been upgraded with information. This is the Bayesian view of probability. It took me much effort to understand that probability is a state of mind. My hypothesis is that Erdős had this idea of probability as being attached to physical things and that's why he couldn't understand why it made sense to switch doors.'


"When Erdős returned from his walk, Vazsonyi tackled the Monty Hall dilemma with a technique developed by Erdős's late friend Stan Ulam, called the Monty Carlo method. [This is basically a computerized simulation method -- TT]

[to be continued, character count too long]

TTrimble 6:59 PM  

[continued from earlier post]

"On his PC Vazsonyi ran a Monte Carlo simulation of the Monty Hall dilemma. Erdős, who never had much use for computers, watched the PC randomly choose whether to switch or stick. The outcome of hundreds of trials favored switching two to one, and Erdős conceded he was wrong. But the simulation was no more satisfying than the computer proof of the Four Color Map Theorem. It wasn't the Book proof. [Erdős had a semi-serious belief that results in mathematics had proofs that couldn't be improved upon, and often mused about a Platonic Book in which all such proofs were inscribed -- TT] [The simulation] didn't reveal why it was better to switch. Erdős, who found Vazsonyi's explanations lacking, was ready to leave.


"Erdős did not forget the Monty Hall problem. He called [Ronald] Graham and demanded the Book proof. 'The key to the Monty Hall problem,' Graham said, 'is knowing ahead of time that the host is always going to give you the chance to pick another door. That's part of the rules of the game which you have to figure in to your thinking.' Erdős accepted Graham's explanation.

" 'When he didn't understand something,' said Graham, 'he did not make it easy for you to convince him. He was always interrupting and getting angry. Conversely, when he tried to explain a proof to you, it was not always easy to follow him.' "

Anonymous 7:16 PM  

Um. Reread your first post in this thread. It was you who introduced the information that Erdos was las king a piece of info.
Your subsequent word salad is...embarrassing.

Anonymous 7:16 PM  

What did Rex mean when he wrote, "Pretty crusty all over?" I have never heard that expression. Thanks

TTrimble 7:41 PM  


"Um. Reread your first post in this thread. It was you who introduced the information that Erdos was las king a piece of info."

You reread it. My first post in this thread didn't mention Erdős at all. The second post didn't say he was [missing?] "a piece of info".

"Your subsequent word salad is...embarrassing."

This from someone who writes, "Redos couldn’t solve the problem precisely beaches" and "was las king a piece of info"?

bocamp 7:44 PM  

@Bruce Fieggen 6:45 PM

I lived in Louise Anderson Hall ('75-'76). My roomie was an RA, so when Jack Patera and staff were scouting a place to house the Seahawks for their first Spring Training ('76), we conducted a tour of Anderson Hall for them. I think they did end up staying there, at least initially. Apparently, the showers had to be adjusted to accommodate the taller players. The thing I remember most was how Jack exuded such a sense of warmth and friendliness.

pg -4

Peace ~ Empathy ~ Kindness to all 🕊

A 7:44 PM  

Well, I've gone and done it now - I let the cat out the door. I leave you all alone for a few hours with an innocent probability question and now look!

Actually, thanks, everyone for your excellent input. I think I have some good leads to help me sort through this mess. ;-))

Meanwhile, I have breaking news: there is no car. Open door #1

albatross shell 8:04 PM  

Crusty as maybe old and irritating and of low quality in theme construction and in fill in any location you look. All over. Check constructor notes in the Times Wordplay. Constructor mostly agrees.

Z 8:25 PM  

@A - I think your cat is chasing @TTrimble’s mouse.

CreamyT 8:49 PM  

I did the puzzle during lunch, and was eating a GYRO platter from a chain called Halal Guys. So...apparently something!

Anonymous 9:13 PM  

My name is Bill Evans. I’m no mouse z.
And TTrimble. Wow. Taking me up on typos? Well done.
The point remains, you’ve got it all balled up. Erdos didn’t misunderstand the Monte Hall problem as you suggested. Rather, because he was not given the complete set of parameters, he wasn’t solving that problem, but rather a different problem.
Once he was hipped to all the info he saw the answer immediately.
I stand by assessment. Your posts are rambling and silly.

Anonymous 10:02 PM  


PhotoAde 10:12 PM  

What a sludgefest with all those names. I much prefer a comedian who doesn't rely on cursing to be funny and I much prefer a crossword that doesn't rely on trivia to fill the grid.

newbie 10:14 PM  

That wow was from me.

A 11:09 PM  

If anyone is still there, why aren't you in bed? But since you're up... Monty alert:

first things first: Anonymous “Bill Evans”, this is a respectful discussion. Insults have no place here. Cease and desist, or I will let my cats have their way with you.

Next, it’s Monty Hall, and Monte Carlo.

Now, here is what I find to be a sensibly, and yet accurately, stated explanation to….. (and feel free to skip to where it says “Here’s why”)

The 3-Door Monty Hall Problem
By Michael Shermer

In nearly 100 months of writing the Skeptic column I have never received so many letters as I did in response to my October essay (“A Random Walk Through Middle Land”) on the so-called Monty Hall Problem…..:
The James Madison University mathematics professor Jason Rosenhouse, who has written an entire book on the subject—The Monty Hall Problem: The Remarkable Story of Math’s Most Contentious Brainteaser (Oxford University Press, 2009)—explained to me that you double your chances of winning by switching doors when three conditions are met: (1) Monty never opens the door you chose initially; (2) Monty always opens a door concealing a goat; (3) When the first two rules leave Monty with a choice of doors to open (which happens in those cases where your initial choice was correct) he makes his choice at random. “Switching turns a loss into a win and a win into a loss,” says Rosenhouse, “and since my first choice is wrong 2/3rds of the time, I will win that often by switching.”
Here’s why: At the beginning of the game you have a 1/3rd chance of picking the car and a 2/3rds chance of picking a goat. Switching doors is bad only if you initially chose the car, which happens only 1/3rd of the time. Switching doors is good if you initially chose a goat, which happens 2/3rds of the time. Thus, the probability of winning by switching is 2/3rds, or double the odds of not switching (keeping in mind the three rules above).


A 11:27 PM  

Sorry - should have credited TTrimble for the link that led me to the site I quoted (Scientific American) - thank you!

Anonymous 11:50 PM  

A bit late, I realize, but RE the paradoxes yesterday -- @Albatross shell y was pondering the paradoxical nature of the themers, but didn't see one for THEWHOLETRUTH. Well.. the "incompleteness" of arithmetic means there will never be a formal system in which all the truths of arithmetic can be derived. The core of this proof relies on the fact that truly paradoxical sentences like "this sentence is false" can be constructed in the meta-language of arithmetic ("this sentence cannot be proved"). 100 years ago it seemed plausible there could be a formal system in which THEWHOLETRUTH could be derived but we now know this isn't possible.

Anonymous 6:00 AM  

@albatross shell Thanks for your thoughts. I had a feeling Rex's comment was not a favorable one.

bocamp 8:01 AM  

@A 11:09 PM / A 11:27 PM

Well done! 😊

@Anonymous 11:50 PM 👍

Peace ~ Empathy ~ Kindness to all 🕊

TTrimble 8:36 AM  

@Bill Evans
Cite. Otherwise, the facts belie you, my friend. You lost the argument.

old timer 2:14 PM  

Yeah, I had to look some stuff up too. And I was almost ashamed not to get CRY FOR ATTENTION until the very end. Didn't know IMPASTO, yet it was lurking in the farthest recess of my brain. I ended up thinking this was a great puzzle.

My first entry was SHETLAND. All Boys of the Lough fans know Aly Bain is from Shetland, the northernmost part of the British Isles. Once owned by Denmark, and a fair amount of Danish words persist.

CALI? This fourth generation Californian says, "Call it CALI if you want. But never, ever, call it Frisco!

Anonymous 8:32 PM  

What? What facts have you cited? And what’s with your passive aggressive use of friend?

Unknown 8:28 AM  

Yeah, a real clunker

Diana, LIW 10:07 AM  

The Syndie page is stuck in Tuesday still!

For a Thursday, a double dose of good trickery.

Diana, LIW

spacecraft 10:50 AM  

I second @Lady Di's first sentence, but not the second (say that three times fast!). Let's wake up the syndilinker--though he may not appreciate it for this. @M&A will love the double-digit U's, but overall this fill really strains. I'm with OFC on this one: bogey.

thefogman 11:14 AM  

A half-baked theme with IFFY fill. I’m not MAD, but YOURE gettingNORAH rah rah from me for this puzzle. Oh hey! ISNT it GIN o’clock? Maybe in GENEVA? I wouldn’t want to miss my DALEY cocktail.

leftcoaster 4:28 PM  

Despite getting DOUBLEDOWN, a fine revealer, left myself HANGININ the wind bouncing on a BUNGEE cord. Had an IFFY feeling about the themers but didn’t execute.

Burma Shave 4:50 PM  


her HEARTMURMUR would DOUBLEDOWN that day,
and it ISN'T that SUGARFREE candy bar
made for the DALEY call to AMA.


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