Kodama, in Japanese mythology / THU 2-18-21 / "Giant Brain" unveiled in 1946 / Winner of nine Grand Slam titles / Michigan congresswoman Slotkin

Thursday, February 18, 2021

Constructor: Zachary Spitz

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: TV SPOTS (38A: Many P.S.A.s ... or the four circled squares in this grid?) — This is a Schrödinger puzzle, where the entry could be one of two words (or both at the same time, until you type in a letter!). In this case, at four circled squares in the grid, you can use either a T or a V, hence, TV SPOTS

Theme answers:
  • HOTELS / HOVELS (3D: Some accommodations)
  • REMOTE / REMOVE (34A: Separate from all the others, say)
  • RATE / RAVE (27D: Give five stars, say)
  • CARTER / CARVER (41A: Famous peanut grower)
  • TARNISH / VARNISH (42D: Certain outer coating)
  • ANTI-TAX / ANTI-VAX (56A: Like some libertarians)
  • LATISH / LAVISH (48D: Like an Oscars afterparty)
Word of the Day: ELISSA (Michigan congresswoman Slotkin) —

Elissa Blair Slotkin
 (born July 10, 1976) is an American politician and former CIA analyst serving as the U.S. Representative for Michigan's 8th congressional district since 2019.[1] A member of the Democratic Party, she previously served as a Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) analyst and Department of Defense official. Her district is based in part of south and southeast Michigan and includes some of Detroit's outer northern and western suburbs and most of the state capital, Lansing.

• • •
Hi everyone, Rachel Fabi in for Rex today, just in time to solve and write up this clever Schrödinger puzzle for you all! My feelings about this puzzle evolved throughout the solve and in the time I've spent thinking about the puzzle since finishing it, so I'll try to trace that emotional journey in this post (spoiler alert: it culminates with me thinking this puzzle is awesome). 

Starting out, I was confused by this puzzle. As can sometimes be the case with Schrödinger grids, I straight-up didn't notice that there was anything going on with the circled squares until I got to the very last theme entry. I think it's entirely possible that some solvers will finish this puzzle without detecting the theme at all, even with the revealer! And when I finally did notice the theme, I felt pretty lukewarm about it. "Oh, it's one of *those* puzzles," I thought, crankily deciding to use the T for ANTI-TAX instead of having the delusional ANTI-VAX show up on my screen. And then I looked at the crossing clue [48D: Like an Oscars afterparty]. And, almost against my will, I chuckled. Oscars parties ARE (presumably, though I have never been to one to confirm) LAVISH. And they're on after the Oscars so... they must be LATISH too. And then I became slightly cranky again, because I doubt that -ISH qualifier is necessary; a party after the Oscars is straight-up LATE! But the cleverness of the gimmick had begun to sink in. I revisited the first circled square I had confidently stuck REMOTE into and realized, aha! If you parse "Separate" as a verb in [34A: Separate from all the others, say], then REMOVE works here too! 

And so, much against my will, I began to love this puzzle. I think TARNISH/VARNISH is probably the weakest pair, just because they are so closely related, and yet received such an underwhelming clue [42D: Certain outer coating]. But CARTER/CARVER! The sheer cleverness! President Jimmy CARTER, who sold his peanut farm to avoid the possibility of maybe someday appearing to be in violation of the emoluments clause, and George Washington CARVER, the scientist and inventor known for his work with peanuts, are both [41A: Famous peanut grower]s. If I had to bet, I'd say this was probably the starting point of the theme for the constructor, who may have noticed the similarities in their names and occupations and built this theme around it (I'm going to read constructor notes after I write this post, so I'll hopefully know whether I'm right soon enough). Another impressive thing about this theme is that the themers *aren't* symmetrical, which I think some people might count against this grid, but I actually think this adds an extra layer of complexity to placing the black squares. Anyways, this is a long paragraph to say that this theme grew on me immensely over the last hour or so. 

Another positive aspect of this puzzle is the long fill, which is generally quite solid. EATS CROW and TREE GODS are especially fun, and I like CARTOONIST, SKI SUITS, and ON HIATUS quite a bit as well. On the downside, some of the short fill holding this clever theme together is pretty rough. I personally could live without UIE (which the NYT can't seem to decide how to spell), GTI, ITO, ALEE (which the NYT Spelling Bee still doesn't accept, last time I checked!), RCS, and, especially, the nonsense syllable KOO. Clearly these things were not dealbreakers for the editors or for me, as I still on balance love this puzzle, but I wish they could have been avoided. 

A few more things:

  • Favorite clues:
    • [60A: One drawing lots?] for CARTOONIST — this is super clever and I love it.
    • [37D: Kodama, in Japanese mythology] for TREE GODS. I've never heard this before, but it's a beautiful word and now I know about kodama! Pictured to the right as depicted in "Princess Mononoke"
  • Least favorite clue:
    • [31D: Man's name that sounds like two letters of the alphabet] for ARTIE — can we stop with these? Just find a human named ARTIE! Or refill that section!
  • We got a double dose of SNL women with Tina FEY and perennial crossword favorite Cheri O'TERI
  • The crossing of SELES/ELISSA may be natick territory for some solvers (SELES was a big pull for me that I'm glad to have gotten! I don't tennis, although I understand a very important tennis match (game?) is tennising as I write this?)
  • Missed opportunity for a Macy Gray clue at [19A: I try]:

Overall, I enjoyed this puzzle significantly more after the solve than I did during the solve, which is really just an indication that the theme is extremely clever. 

And now, if I may use this platform for a brief moment of self-promotion, I'd like to encourage you to sign up for the Boswords Spring Themeless League, to which I will be contributing a puzzle, if you have not done so already! The tournament consists of one themeless puzzle, at a choose-your-own difficulty level, every Monday night through March and April, with a pre-season event next Monday (although you can compete without ever attending the events live). I've competed in the past several online Boswords events, and I can say that the feeling of community and shared love of crossword puzzles at these events make them some of those rare, wonderful times of true connection and togetherness in this weird pandemic world. I hope to see you all there!

Signed, Rachel Fabi, Queen-for-a-Day of CrossWorld

[Follow Rachel on Twitter]

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


okanaganer 12:32 AM  

Hey Rachel! I was quite pleased to see your name at the top of the post. Always a good writeup.

I too was won over by the puzzle theme; for me, ANTI TAX/VAX was the best answer, as my beloved yet crazy older sister is a devout anti-vaxxer. She thinks Covid is a myth, created by the liberal elites (to keep the faithful from going to church, or something, I'd rather not ask). Plus she's pro-Trump. And anti GMO. I just pray she doesn't get her hooks into Qanon... ugh.

Anyway, nice to see you mention Princess Mononoke. I am a huge fan of Studio Ghibli films; just awesome artistry and maniacal craftsmanship. I have been known to pause one of their films and just spend 5 or 10 minutes admiring the drawing of the cel.

Joaquin 12:35 AM  

I thought this was a total dud until it dawned on me that the boxes with the circles could go both ways. I’m surprised at myself for not realizing that sooner, as I have several friends who also go both ways.

Now, the more I look at it the better it gets.

Re: Rachels plea for a different clue for ARTIE. Oh, pshaw!

Frantic Sloth 1:33 AM  

There is only the one...but, one looky-loo clue is 2 too many.

And oh, dear God! Please tell me they didn't do that at 46A! ARGH!! Why don't we just CLEAVE CHE and leave it at that, hmm?

SnowcapS - SKImaskS - SKISUITS. I don't ski - is that what the getup is called? Seems odd.

As for the theme, you gotcher TV-in-the-circles trick, fill all of them in and wait to get around to the clues for all the "fun". Whee.

Well, at least the clues and answers made sense in both directions...so there's that. And all the clues worked with all the entries, so I have to admit that kicks it up a notch or two.

And yet...no joy in Slothville. The puzzle as a whole had some good crunch for a Thursdee, but give me the 5-star meal on Fridee or Saturdee and leave Thursdee to creative shenanigans. Alas, this is not it.

Flogging the deceased equine again, but I don't like the revealer in the middle. I'd rather see that damned monkey.

Not the best, not the worst. Workmanlike is the word.


jae 1:35 AM  

Medium. It took me a while to completely grok the Schrodinger squares. Pretty clever, liked it.

chefwen 2:25 AM  

Hand up for finishing with no clue of the theme, in my defense, I started this after a couple glasses of wine with visiting neighbors, so I was a tad fuzzy. I even changed CARTER to CARVER and the lightbulb still didn’t go on. DOH! Better luck tomorrow sweetheart.

LordLeycester 3:23 AM  

Can someone explain what the "socks (away)" clue means? I might be having a brain fart or something but I have no idea how to get from that to "salts".

yoman 5:47 AM  

Extend your hand to eliminate any hints on the subject, in my defense I started this after a couple of glasses of wine with the neighbors who came so I was a little confused. I even turned Carter into a carrier and the bulb still hasn't burned. DOH! Better tomorrow, honey.

mruedas 6:13 AM  

I also finished without getting the theme. My enjoyment of it jumped massively once I understood the wordplay, that's for sure.

One thing - did no one think the clue/answer paring at 50D (Had a stimulating conversation? SEXTED) was completely skeevy? That one clue/answer really dropped my enjoyment level, before the grokking of the theme upped it. A really roller coaster!

Lewis 6:51 AM  

Clever wordplaying theme, which I got early and which helped me solve afterward, and which had me IN AWE, wondering how Zachary came up with these. Due to answers out of my wheelhouse, the puzzle provided several spots of sublime rub. Thus the journey was grand, and I am most grateful.

I enjoyed seeing the neighbors BEEF and RARE, and especially enjoyed this week’s meta: Monday’s Presdident’s Day dogfest, echoed by ALPO on Tuesday, and CANINES today. May it continue!

SomeOneHasToBeMe 7:18 AM  

ECCO/OTERI was a complete Natick for me as I have no idea what either of those things are.

As always the NYT seems to think I care a lot more about members of the House than anyone has in the entire history of the nation. I don't even know who my representative is.

The TV reveal came late when I got back around the grid to "HOTELS/HOVELS" but I greatly enjoyed it. Went from mediocre to extremely clever.

Declanmcman 7:22 AM  

@LordLeycester, both “salt” and “sock away” can mean to secretly store something. Per Merrimack-Webster, “salt” can mean “to insert or place secretly” and “sock away” can mean “to put away (money) as savings or investment,” Interestingly,the latter is derived from people hiding coins in a sock.

kitshef 7:34 AM  

Five WoEs today. ECCO was fair enough, because of the crosses.

Slightly more unfair were LEON and ELISSA, which cross. But in this case the cross is fairly guessable.

But CBS crossing CHOI is unforgivable. TV network can be basically any letter. And Kelly CHOI’s publicist was recently asked a question about Kelly’s career and her answer was “who?”.

Anonymous 7:41 AM  

Help! How is cartoonist an answer to “draws a lot.” Jim

OffTheGrid 7:43 AM  

Very enjoyable and efficient. 4 circles-16 theme answers. NICE!! Best in quite a while. Why can't there be more puzzles that are this solid. Seems a shame.

pabloinnh 8:03 AM  

The writeup was my favorite thing today (thanks Rachel), as I found the puzzle a little sticky but finished, had a T in this circle and a V in that one to make TV's and thought TVSPOTS? That's it? On a Thursday? That's pretty lame.

Then I have the Schrodinger thing explained to me and know I will spend the rest of the day feeling a little dumber than usual. Oh well, ITRY (slinks away, EATSCROW).

Pretty impressive, ZS. Some day I'll notice these things instantly, but that day was not today.

Barbara S. 8:08 AM  

Sad to say, I was not on this puzzle’s wavelength, resulting in a DNF. I’m also one of those who didn’t get the theme while solving, so multiple demerit points today. I agree with Rachel now that it’s all over – it is a clever theme, well executed.

The area that felled me was the SW corner. Don’t ASK ME. OK, I’ll tell you anyway. I’ve never heard of Kelly CHOI (and kept alternately putting in and taking out “Ripa” there), for the life of me I couldn’t come up with SESH, and I had no idea about TREE GODS. That was enough to make that section unsolvable, so – dang.

I liked ECHO and ECCO. Are ECCO shoes exported? If not, I may be one of the lucky few to know the name -- I bought a comfy pair the last time I was in Copenhagen.

This passage is by TONI MORRISON, born Feb. 18, 1931. Like Mo Yan, she was a Literature Nobelist (1993).

“I’m crazy about this City.

Daylight slants like a razor cutting the buildings in half. In the top half I see looking faces and it’s not easy to tell which are people, which the work of stonemasons. Below is shadow where any blasé thing takes place: clarinets and lovemaking, fists and the voices of sorrowful women. A city like this one makes me dream tall and feel in on things. Hep. It’s the bright steel rocking above the shade below that does it. When I look over strips of green grass lining the river, at church steeples and into the cream-and-copper halls of apartment buildings, I’m strong. Alone, yes, but top-notch and indestructible-like the City in 1926 when all the wars are over and there will never be another one. The people down there in the shadow are happy about that. At last, at last, everything’s ahead. The smart ones say so and people listening to them and reading what they write down agree: Here comes the new. Look out.”
(From Jazz)

ChuckD 8:15 AM  

I liked this one. Elegant theme with decent fill. Like Rachel - thought the CARVER/CARTER cross was tops. Never like to see ANTI VAX and the libertarian clue was poor. I have no idea on ELISSA - obscurity at its finest. Today’s argument - who was a bigger thug - CHE or Mao?

Kodama was in the fuzzy part of my brain somewhere - but I always took them to be ghost like - evil entities. Wanted SKI slope before SUITS.

Enjoyable solve on a snow Thursday.

Anonymous 8:16 AM  

"SALT away" is another idiom in use for the same idea.

Another Anon 8:24 AM  

@Anon 7:41. The clue reads "One drawing lots". A CARTOONIST has to do a lot of drawing so he/she is drawing lots. Kinda clunky, I know.

TwoFlech 8:28 AM  

Quick and easy. Fun to do!

TTrimble 8:31 AM  

I am among those who did not notice the theme. Thanks to Rachel Fabi for explaining; I'm IN AWE of such construction feats. How long must it have taken to come up with those? My favorite might be CARTER/CARVER (I chose the V).

To Rachel: it's a "fab" write-up, but it's just OTERI, not O'TERI. Agree with her about the CBS + CHOI cross (Kelly who? to clue a four-letter that way and not have it be Ripa is just mean.)

I expect that at least one short answer will cause us to hear a familiar broken record today -- not to name names. (Already some outcry, but not from the one who, I've learned over time, cries out the most about this.)

At some point in the past several months I understood what @Frantic Sloth was referring to every time she wrote "looky-loo", and I think I share her general annoyance. It's virtually impossible to get the ACCRA + GHANA without assistance from crosses, which I think is a flaw. (E.g., Cairo + Egypt if we didn't know any better from crosses.)

SALTS? Never heard of this one. Is the idea somehow derived from curing meat with salt, so that you can put it (or sock it) away for a long time? (Don't bother; I can Google with the best of them. Right now I'm just musing out loud.)

This had bite and crunch, and again, I am humbled (although I's wouldn't say I's EATS CROW) by not at first appreciating what Mr. Spitz had done. Kudos!

Z 8:37 AM  

Ugh. I love the theme but Soooo many potential naticks. ELISSA/SELES/LEON, ACCRA/LA MESA, ECCO/OTERI, CHOI/CBS (man o man - “most widely recognized star of NYC Media”? That is the most parochial FU we’ve gotten from the NYTX in awhile). ELISSA Slotkin seems pretty niche, too (plus just thinking of her district ticks me off - can we say “gerrymandering?). I know Slotkin gets booked on MSNBC because of her CIA bona fides, but are all 438 House of Representatives members really crossworthy? Candidly, most of them only become newsworthy if they do something infamous. Anyway, the crossing barely crossworthy PPP really brought the puzzle quality down for me.

I got to TV SPOTS with INTENTIONS/HOTEL in place, looked at it and HOVELS/HOTELS made me smile/sneer/snark. So, three thumbs up. But then I put the TVs in which certainly helped with the rest of the solve. I pretty much agree with Fabi about the puzzles strengths, but like it a bit less almost entirely due to the PPP.

webwinger 8:42 AM  

I came here intending to bash this as one of the lamest puzzles of all time, having missed the Schroedinger element (either T or V alone in circles led to acceptance by the app), then read Rachel’s review and saw that there was a significant measure of cleverness. Still didn’t like it very much.

I certainly don’t count myself among the squeamish when it comes to political implications in the puzzle, but the positive spin on clues for CHE and SEXTED did not sit well with me.

RooMonster 8:51 AM  

Hey All !
First themer I got was CARTER. Once I read the Revealer, I thought there would just be a T in two circled squares, and a V in the other two. "That's it?" I thought, "Just four circles with a T or V? Seems light for a Thurspuz." Then I got RATE, and said, "Hey, RAVE could work there too. Which letter do I put in?" Revisited CARTER, and saw that indeed the V would work there too to make CARVER. Reread the Revealer, and finally the AHA/lightbulb moment. "Ohh, a TV rebus!" I chuckled out. So I'm in the camp of rising appreciation for this puz, from "Huh?" to "Cool!"

I talk to myself a lot...

So a cool puz, by another name I don't recognize. Apparently the ole brain doesn't have enough space to remember if I've seen various constructors or not.

Tough to get clean fill with that center Down area, as in 6D, 25D, 39D. It may look easy enough, but they're three longer answers cutting through the grid. Hopefully you can see what I mean. I suck at explanations! ENIAC, old friend, where have you been? Still waiting for good ole OMOO to make an appearance. An almost ROO with KOO. Har.

Agree with the possible Natick at the L of ELISSA/LEON. I didn't know either one, but the L seemed the best guess. CLEAVE for our one Anonymous who CLEAVEs the Orange Sh!tgibbon. When did ITO get away from being clued as the Judge? CHE as a revolutionary. Yeah, OK, he was, but not someone to look up to. And just what is the proper way to pronounce Brett FAVRE's name? :-)

Two F's

pwoodfin 9:02 AM  

Uh, Chefwen? Chefwen wannabe? Wha?

pabloinnh 9:04 AM  

@Roo--Since he says FARVE, I always refer to him as "Bert".

Seems fair.

Unknown 9:04 AM  

@Z, Exactly. With you all the way for a change. I was actually going to make my comment "I think I'll let @Z write my review of this" but you beat me to it.

The entire MW/SW was garbage.

Nancy 9:14 AM  

Wow! This puzzle was SO much better than I thought as I was solving (I didn't like it at all) -- and that's because I missed the whole Schrodinger aspect. If I hadn't come to this blog, I could have gone to my grave and never known that there was more than one possible answer.

And that's the problem for me with Schrodinger puzzles. If I get the right answer, if my right answer works, why on earth would I look for another right answer? The thought would never cross my mind and it didn't cross my mind today.

Pulling off such a coup is impressive. But, alas, if it goes unseen, it will not add any sparkle to a puzzle for the solver.

Here's my reaction to what I did notice: I'm a political news junkie, but I wouldn't have known ELISSA if I fell over her. Didn't know CHOI, (or is it THOI -- I forgot to look.) Nor LEON, nor OTERI, and I was GNASHing my teeth over the whole lot of them. And then -- oh joy! -- I got to the winner of nine Grand Slams. I had the two "E"s. I went to the tennis encyclopedia in my brain and thought of all the sport's five-letter stars, male and female. Nope, not you, NaDaL. Nope, not you, EvErT. Aha -- it's you SELES! Yay! Now I can solve that infernal, proper-name-laden NW corner.

Mixing up my Bretts and my Barts, I had STARR before I had FAVRE for the QB. I had written it in in heavy ink. So I was mighty annoyed when STARR didn't work. And then, I remembered...

I really didn't enjoy this solve at all. Only now, seeing how clever the theme is, do I appreciate it in retrospect. And now to go back and read y'all to find out how many of you missed the theme entirely too. I imagine there will be more than a few.

bocamp 9:28 AM  

Thank you, @Zachary for a fine Thurs. puz. Quite enjoyed it! :)

Easy+ solve. On my wavelength most of the way.

Zipped thru this one quickly until reaching the SW, which was the difference between easy and easy+.

"Gnash" teeth at night, so have to use a bruxism guard; problem solved. 😀

"Artie" Shaw - Begin The Beguine ( Cole Porter )

yd 0

Peace ~ Empathy ~ Kindness to all 🕊

Unknown 9:35 AM  

What a great puzzle, and what a sweet write-up.

Rachel - - - you should have your very own daily blog; I'd sign up in a heartbeat!

Carola 9:46 AM  

Nicely done, and, given that I saw the theme early, also easy. I'd left the two upper circles empty, with a "let's wait and see," having thought of HOTEL and REMOVE but not trusting that that could be all. The reveal jogged my brain into seeing HOVEL and REMOTE and their crosses; and installing the TVs in the remaining circles made those answers quick to get. I thought that T/VARNISH and ANTI-T/VAX were especially inspired.
Help from previous puzzles: OTERI, SESH, MASSE, NES. No idea: ELISSA, LEON, GTI, CHOI, LA MESA.

Becca 9:48 AM  

I missed any and all Schrodinger aspects of this puzzle until it was all over...also took me wayyyy over my average Thurs time. Reading reviews/comments, I'm choosing to believe it's because my brain is fried (defended my prelim exams for my doctorate yesterday! Officially a PhD candidate!) and not thru any fault of the puzzle's.

I'll admit I ended w an empty square where SELES crosses NES. I'd like to think my normal brain would have been able to supply these two--tho I've only ever really encountered them before in crosswords.

Loved TREEGODS. Now I want every puzzle to have a tree god.

Sir Hillary 9:49 AM  

I'll take a Schrödinger puzzle any time. Eight entries with TVSPOTS -- I'm INAWE.

None of the PPP or potential Naticks bothered me personally (I know LAMESA from growing up in SoCal, and my wife is ELySSA) but objectively I do understand the complaints of @Z and others. I was more put off by the sheer garbage in the grid. Hey UIE, GTI, SESH, NES, KOO, RCS, LAMESA, ITO -- here's looking at you, kids! Most egregious though is EWASTE, which I will insist to my dying day is absolutely not a thing, no matter what evidence to the contrary I am presented with.

I did ERR with ripa at 58A. Kelly CHOI?? Good grief, this might was well have been clued as "South Korean golfer K.J." I admit that AMOI, BEDS and CASH do not a great SW corner make, but they beat what's there.

But I'm piling on now. At the end of the day, the Schrödinger aspect outweighs the fill issues for me, so this one goes in the plus column.

GILL I. 9:52 AM  

You talking to me, @TTrimble? Do I bore you to tears with my CHE rants? Gee, today we have him clued as an icon. In my dictionary an icon means someone who is venerated. You can put CHE or Mao or hell, even Hitler in my puzzle, and I don't care. Just clue them for what they were. CHE was a despotic murderer. Add Fidel to the lot. Don't lionize them, for god sake, and if you want to put them in as idols or icons, then just add your damn "to a few of the uneducated who weren't around to watch the murders."

Oh..the puzzle....I Kinda had a Rachel twin moment when I, too, said "Oh, it's one of those puzzles." I like them when I finally figure them out. I got the reveal ...TV SPOTS, and did a little Aha. Then I got up and poured myself another little Pinot before going to bed. (Hi @chefwen)... Finished this up this AM but I think I enjoyed it more last night. Today I sorta got mad at all the names I didn't know. I hate to Google but I've never heard of CHOI, ELISSA. I love shoes but ECCO left me wanting to yodel.
My absolute favorite and the big dance the tango moment was seeing the TV in CARTER/CARVER...Cute.
Saddest moment was seeing the ANTI VAX/TAX. Deniers, I learned, are people with a condition called anosognosia....Did you know that? Great name to call someone with a frontal lobe disorder. What happens when your child gets something preventable like chicken pocks and then dies from horrible complications? Would your trial lawyer say you were diagnosed with anosognosia and therefore you are not guilty? Just wondering......

Westword 9:58 AM  

Trivia quiz. No joy.

Spyguy 9:59 AM  

I really wish someone would clue KOO in reference to the amazing music/dancing act Koo Koo Kangaroo.

Hungry Mother 10:03 AM  

I just filled in Ts for the circled squares, but I noted that Vs would work also; very cool construction technique which helped me with some themers. Near Natick in the SW had me cussing and guessing. Lucky stab with a C, which I thought could also have been a “T” or a “P”. I have no idea what “Mom” is and will not look it up.

newbie 10:15 AM  

Wow. Have no idea how i figured this one out but I did. Had 3 of the Ts in circles, so I put a T in the 4th one; actually it was the 1st circle, since it was in the NW. That helped but not for awhile. Never knew about the Vs until they popped up on the screen after I finished. Then I thought it was pretty clever.

Love ANTIVAX - the answer, not the concept (can it even be called a concept since there is no rational thought involved?).

My solution is to give kids vaccines spaced out a little more instead of all in one shot, if that’s what the parents want, but nobody gets into school (or credit for home schooling - don’t many anti-vaxers home school?) or into rec sports or public libraries or football games or on a plane, train, bus or Uber or get a driver’s license or vote until they can prove that they were vaccinated. Problem solved. You’re welcome. Oh, wait. There’s that pandemic thing, so nobody’s doing most of those things now anyway. Back to the drawing board. I need another cup of coffee.

Photomatte 10:25 AM  

This puzzle puzzled me, perhaps because of the Schrödinger's cat nonsense. That so-called 'paradox' has always struck me as extremely asinine, no more perplexing than the whole 'if a tree falls in the forest and there's nobody there to hear it...' schtick. Noise was noise long before it was labeled by humans, just as Schrödinger's cat is EITHER alive or dead, not both. Just because he is unsure of the cat's status doesn't mean the outcome is malleable; it just means Schrödinger isn't aware of the outcome.
I solved the puzzle without any rebuses and it seemed fairly okay for a Thursday. The T/V thing makes the puzzle worse, not better, IMHO.

Nancy 10:26 AM  

How obscure is Kelly CHOI? Just read @kitshef's last paragraph at 7:34. That is so funny and so interesting, @kitshef -- one of the great sardonic blog comments of all time. If CHOI's own publicist doesn't know who the bleep she is, how the hell can we?

When I saw 46A, I also knew that @GILL would not be a happy camper today, and who can blame her? I'm one of those people who doesn't believe certain historical names should be kept out of puzzles -- but you have an obligation to clue them appropriately. To call CHE an "icon" is truly outrageous, as well as really dumb and totally unnecessary.

Not that anyone has asked me, but FWIW, all of my Schrodinger choices were "T"s and I never considered any of the "V" answers. I have no idea what that says about me, but it must say something, right?

Whatsername 10:28 AM  

As Rachel said, I finished before noticing the circle trick so this was like solving a very RARE Thursday themeless. If you ASK ME, having to stare at the completed grid in order to get that aha moment drops the RATE/RAVE factor considerably. But the constructor’s INTENTIONS with his INVENTION still succeeded overall.

No real criticisms to speak of, but the clue for SEXTED was seriously disturbing. Ick. Didn’t care much for the CBS/CHOI crossing because a guess of TBS/Thoi would also be completely reasonable.

So now CHE is an icon? As in “one who is the object of great attention and devotion; an idol?” I can hear @GILL from here. And I don’t blame her.

newbie 10:32 AM  

Barbara - Ecco shoes are sold in the United States. My husband got them for years at a local mom-and-pop shoe store which I think, sadly, has closed since the pandemic began. I’m sure I used to see them at Dillard’s, if you have that, but any store that carries cool Scandinavian shoes should have them. And yup. There they are at Amazon. Also at us.ecco.com online.

Good quote. I can feel the city.

Knitwit 10:37 AM  

I liked this puzzle before coming here. Now, I really! like it!! Did not get theT/V switch and I learned what it’s called. After many years of solving and years of Rex-learn something everyday. Thanks to ZS and to Rachel! Looking forward to Boswords!!!! It has been a bright spot for the past year.

Unknown 10:39 AM  

@Gill I, Please refrain from confusing poor Trimble with the facts. It disturbs his morning mood.

Hey, Z, that was me saying I was totally in agreement with your comment today.
Don't know why I came out as anonymous.

Anonymous 10:39 AM  

Isn't a cartoonist a person who draws a lot? ( or draws lots)

Newboy 10:53 AM  

Mildly at another grid with apparently random circles? Yep that’s me. I TRY to learn, but teaching this ole dog Schroeder tricks ... sigh! You’d suspect after yesterday’s “Killer Ball” usage of meaningful graphics that today I would be looking for tricks, but common sense ON HIATUS. Thought that @Pabloinnh (8:03) had captured how my solve had gone perfectly until I got to @Nancy’s response later. I can agree with both 100%. All that I can add is a hearty thumbs up for Zachary’s duplicitous grid and thanks for Rachel’s great guest gig

egsforbreakfast 10:54 AM  

@Joaquin 12:35. Love that having friends that go both ways should have made the Schrodinger aspect easier to suss out. Like if a puzzle answer were “sphincter” and I said “I should have got that easily since I know a bunch of a**holes.” I just somehow found that very amusing.

@Chefwen 2:25 am and @ Yolanda said 5:47 am. Given the similarity and proximity of your posts, I infer that you are neighbors, each of whom dutifully gathered for an oft-promised glass or two of wine. While sipping a passable rioja (you probably aren’t really good enough friends to bring out your prized bottles), you each found yourself, unbeknownst to the other thinking that you hoped this somewhat tedious get-together would end soon so that you could tackle today’s NYTXW. Now, thanks to this blog, you know each other’s heretofore hidden passion for cruciverbalism, and will likely become such dear chums as to dip into the grand crus and solve together on occasion.

It seems odd that there is a lot of complaining about revealer position lately. I haven’t done the research, but my gut feeling is that the revealer is the final across clue about 10% of the time.

BTW, I quite liked the puzzle despite my positions as pro tax and pro ax.

Joaquin 10:56 AM  

@pabloinnh: "Bert Farve" - FTW!

mathgent 10:58 AM  

I suppose that there are very few V-T switches that are words, much less words that have similar meanings. So these eight are probably a good selection. Only two are duds -- INTENTIONS/INVENTIONS and REMOVE/REMOTE. I would have preferred a letter pair with more possibilities. TVSPOTS isn't a great revealer anyway.

@Joaquin (12:35). Good one.

BRITCOM. I hadn't heard that before.

Lewis 11:08 AM  

I'm being totally serious here, just trying to understand. For the many who did not get the full theme until coming here, how, during your solve, did you justify the clue to the reveal TV SPOTS, which was [Many P.S.A.s ... or the four circled squares in this grid?]?

Z 11:13 AM  

@Gill I - My dictionary only has the “venerated” sense in regards to Christianity, for all the other definitions CHE seems fairly clued by your standards. You can argue he shouldn’t be considered “important” or subject to “devotion,” but I don’t think you can argue that those aren’t empirically true descriptions.

@Photomatte - that the “cat” is neither until an observation has been made has been verified by experimental observation. Specifically, Schrödinger came up with this thought experiment because he thought the Copenhagen Theory was wrong. While there’s still a lot of disagreements on specifics, Bohrs and Heisenberg were more right than Einstein and Schrödinger. Quantum physics gets weird fast, but it is absolutely clear that God does indeed play dice with the universe. (that’s two links - if you end up down the quantum physics rabbit hole be prepared for all kinds of esoteric arguments and maybe even an even weirder spirituality detour)

@Nancy - So even New Yorkers don’t know Kelly CHOI? Ouch. Apparently “food TV” is her niche, so not just NY niche, but NY food TV niche. I did the thing of looking at Wikipedia for most famous CHOI I might know and Kelly CHOI isn’t even on the page. She does have a wikipedia page, so she is at least famous enough for that.

@TTrimble - I know some anonymice like to complain about having things explained, but they can always skip such comments. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve been thanked for sharing some link because they too had wondered. I think in part those compliments come from the reassurance of not being the only one. I’ve seen several others wonder about the source for “SALTS away,” so I hope you share whatever you found.

Z 11:15 AM  

@unknown10:39 - Don’t take it personally because this has happened to others, but Blogger seems to have decided to mess with you.

Nancy 11:20 AM  

@Lewis (11:08)-- To answer your question: I didn't "justify" the revealer. I simply ignored the revealer -- something I have been known to do from time to time. As far as the 4 circles: What I saw in my circles simply were 4 "T"s. I said "WTF?" and came here for solace, explanation and companionship.

Anonymous 11:26 AM  

CHE is an icon of Socialist Revolution. That some may hate Socialist Revolutions doesn't change that. Hitler is an icon of White Supremacy. And so forth.

TTrimble 11:34 AM  

@Gill I.
First, yes I was alluding to you, and second, I sincerely apologize for the passive-aggressiveness. "Broken record" was indeed a nasty thing to say and I shouldn't have said it. The pandemic must be getting to me, although that doesn't ever excuse being thoughtless and insensitive and dumb like that.

To say it less passively and less aggressively/nastily: every time CHE comes up, it seems you can be counted on saying something about it, and your feelings about the man are well known. If I had written that instead, maybe this too would have angered you -- I don't know.

If the inclusion of CHE or MAO upsets some people, particularly people who suffer because of very direct personal associations, then that *could* be a strong argument for the NYTXW avoiding the word altogether, and certainly that would be worth a discussion. Just so we're clear: is it just the way it's clued that gets your dander up, or are you suggesting that CHE should be banned altogether?

(The words NIP/CHINK seems also part of a related discussion. For those who say Rex is acting all woke, etc., etc., I for one thought he articulated his feelings well when he spoke at length about this in the January 23 vlog. Usually when he alludes to this in writing, it's only with very few words, which seems to invite people fill in blanks with various projections about what kind of character he must be. Now *those* comments bore me to tears.)

I understand where you're coming from with "icon", although I would say it has multiple meanings. There are religious icons, which are indeed objects of veneration. Relatedly but differently, Merriam-Webster has "an object of uncritical devotion", which as applied to CHE would, I guess, inch closer to your own feelings but without conveying the moral outrage. Then there are icons in the sense of images one sees on computer screens, or tee shirts, or sides of buildings -- this meaning is more neutral, in that these are simply images one often sees, like them or not.

I'm inclined to think this last meaning is closest to what was meant, certainly not that we should infer the editors or constructor venerate him. It's hard to say. Like it or not, he is lionized by some revolutionaries, so it might be that. But it might be the image of him is just about the most recognizable thing in the world and that most people know barely a thing about him aside from that.

Now my own feeling about all of this, FWIW, is that CHE and MAO and NIP and CHINK and all the rest are fair game for crosswords. Is it white privilege speaking? I don't know, you be the judge. My feelings are not particularly important here anyway.

Okay, I've spoken enough. I would not be bored to tears hearing from you about the propriety of ever having him in the XW, or whether it's more a matter that he is clued inappropriately, or whatever the case may be. And again, I'm sorry for my earlier post and that it upset you.

Pete 11:53 AM  

Not to be too picky, but George Washington Carver was not a peanut grower per se, he was a Professor of Agriculture at Tuskegee and advocated for peanuts and other legumes. At the time there were no nitrogen fertilizers to speak of, and the most of the land in the South was nitrogen depleted due to a monoculture of cotton. What Carver is notable for is advocating crop rotation with nitrogen fixing legumes (peas, peanuts, soy beans, ...). To make that realistic he had to develop a market for these crops, hence his fame for all his peanut research & recipes. Noted as a peanut guy, sure, but not a peanut grower.

Anonymous 11:54 AM  

Good afternoon and a special piss off the congresswomen, tv personalities, danish shoe designers and fill in crossword blog writers.
Oh, and Che Guevara was a murderous bastard.

Giovanni 11:55 AM  

I figured it out after the revealer and I was pleased because Ive seen this type of thing twice before so I knew what it was. Pat myself on the back! It's the little things in a sea of days of never-ending quarantine where your ego suffers from yet another day in pajamas with dirty hair.
I'm going to sign up for that tournament but I need to do it on my phone. The only tournament I did last Spring I was miserable because I was bent over my laptop with a crick in my back and neck. Plus I couldn't parse the phrases at that angle. I have a theory that you're brain is used to doing crosswords at a certain visual angle- how I hold my phone I can see the letters and figure out the phrase. I was solving at a different than normal visual angle, it looked like a simple phrase, the clock was ticking, my back hurt and I started sweating bullets. I said this is not for me! But I'll try it again!

Masked and Anonymous 12:05 PM  

M&A is semi-proud to join the club of all those smarter folks who didn't spot that Schroe-dinger T/V mcguffin, durin the solvequest.
How'd U score it, TV-wise? M&A ended up with one T (in the first circle) and three V's, happy as a clam and with mosta my nanoseconds still in the pockets.

staff weeject pick: UIE. As has been pointed out here a few times before, better clue = {Duck brother of Duie and Luie}.

fave sparklers: EATSCROW. CARTOONIST (with nice sneaky clue). UNCUT.

@sanfranman: Well, these puzs are now definitely trendin easier. Unless there is a grok-the-theme requirement, that is. [To V or not to V, that is the question …]

Thanx for the fun, Mr. Spitz.

Masked & Anonymo4Us


old timer 12:06 PM  

I just decided to put V into all the circles, changing CARTER to CARVER. I noticed some of the other T/V possibilities, and could have spent a minute or two figuring out the gimmick. But why bother? I knew @Rex would tell me -- or today, the lovely/lively Ms Fabi.

Decades ago, ECCO was my shoe of choice. Then I tried on my first Doc Martin shoe, and have never looked back. (Yes, they make low-top shoes as well as the iconic Docs, and I kind of think that is bad for their longterm business, since they last for just about ever -- the three in my daily rotation are at least a decade old). But ECCO certainly helped my solve in the toughest part of today's puzzle.

So what's wrong with calling CHE a revolutionary icon? He was, and his face was seen in many a Berkeley apartment and Haight-Ashbury flat. A lot of people are trying to rewrite history, a bad thing on the right or on the left.

CDilly52 12:08 PM  

Count me in the “missed the theme” crowd. Part of the problem was the usual typo. I got the reveal from downs so didn’t even notice that it was a reveal probably because it did not highlight the theme answers to call attention to the theme. That said, while looking for my typo, I did notice TV SPOTS and suddenly understood why my reluctance to decide on T or V. My head scratching moment came with the CART/VER peanuts and the T/VARNISH. But my history chimes in and I deemed George Washington CARVER more historically peanut worthy than Jimmy CARTER. And on I went.

But on review, looking for where a fat thumb had unintentionally changed a letter (gotta quit solving on my phone) I noticed TV SPOTS. However, when I fixed the typo, and was preparing to insert the missing rebus letter in each circle, lo and behold happy music!! What?!?!?! So without both letters in each circle, the app said I was golden. Apparently not! Oh well, I too enjoyed the puzzle much more after the fact and think in retrospect that it was a gem!!

GILL I. 12:11 PM  

@Z....11:13....I'm not arguing that CHE shouldn't be considered "important" or subject to "devotion"....I'm arguing the "empirically true descriptions" that appear here all the time and are down-right wrong. Will Shortz and many constructors like to clue CHE as some sort of venerated idol by everyone. Agard clued him as "hero buried in Santa Clara Cuba." Had he or Will clued it hero - to some - I would've kept quiet (sort of )...
@TTrimble....NO NO NO. All names, even the vilest despots, should not be censored as far as I'm concerned. This is a free country (thank you very much) and you can always fell free to skip my post. But, I promise you, that every time Che's name comes up as being venerated or idolized, I will chime in. I probably can't change Will's mind anymore than I can change antivaxers; people who are holocaust deniers or those believing that Trump actually won the election, but I will put up a fuss. I don't HAVE a moral outrage....I have memories of his murders. This saddens me no end and If I can get the NYT to stop venerating him or to even HINT that he was some hero, then my day is complete.

Anonymous 12:12 PM  

Congrats!! Can totally relate to "fried brain" syndrome. How long did you study? I spent about 3 months doing almost nothing but, with a file box of something like 3,000 notecards. (Dates me, yup.)
Which worked...until it didn't. I essentially aced my candidacy writtens. So with nothing to defend, they really had to stretch to find orals material. And stretch they did. To an obscure corner of the major: More than waist deep into ground covered only lightly in one course out of something like thirty-five. Titled: "How to Feel Both Smart and Stupid in One Easy Step."
I was a lot younger and less resilient then. Thus, one of the worst days of my life to date took a while to recover from. (They passed me anyway--a purely charitable move. By contrast.) Here's to only good days in whatever your course leads to!

johnk 12:23 PM  

Easy, as I began with the center, TVSPOTS, and entered TV in all the circles. But I disliked so much of the short fill, especially SESH and EWASTE. And when will NYT stop with the SEXTing?

Anonymous 12:25 PM  

@Gill - Amen to that. I would add people who think Obama was born in Kenya. People who think Trump colluded with Putin in 2016. People who think 9/11 was an inside job and people who think the moon landing was faked. Crazy conspiracy’ theorists all.

jberg 12:29 PM  

No idea about the Schroedinger thing (sorry, too lazy to load character map and dig up that umlaut); I had Ts in the first two circles, Vs in the last two. That was pretty lame, so I went looking for something else -- and felt right the rabbithole when I saw REMOTE Aha! It's a TV-related thing with one of the letters of TV in it! That didn't seem to work for any of the other three circles, but it was enough of a distraction to keep me from looking further.

What should have given it away was CARVER, which I had, and who was NOT a peanut grower. He took peanuts into his lab and discovered 85,000 different things you could make with them; not at all the same. If I had focused on that a bit, I might have found CARTER, and from there it would have been one step to enlightenment. (What is the sound of one step stepping?)

@Nancy, your Brett/Bart confusion made me think of "Maverick," a TV show of my youth. For you young'uns, it was about a gambler in the Old West, Brett Maverick -- but occasionally an episode would be devoted to his brother Bart. Maybe there's a theme there -- Bretts and Barts in history -- but probably not.

I knew ELISSA Slotkin only because I heard her interviewed from her hiding place while the Capitol was occupied by those Nazi-wannabees. Based on her CIA expertise, she predicted Congress would not be able to return to sessions for several days. She clearly underestimated what can be done when it's absolutely necessary to do it. But anyway, I remembered her name from that.

as for ACCCRA GHANA--I already had both BRITCOM and EAT CROW, so it couldn't have been anything else; lucky timing.

@Barbara S--I'm on about my sixth pair of ECCOs; I basically wear nothing else, unless it's a black tie affair. I once spent a few weeks in Kyiv, and saw an ECCO store there, so I guess they're pretty widespread.

bocamp 12:34 PM  

Thx, @Rachel for the wonderful write-up, and you're right, I didn't notice the theme until reading you. I usually do catch it, sometimes during the solve, other times post-solve analysis, which I neglected on this one. It works quite nicely, and I promise to do my best not to miss the theme-grok from now on. LOL

@Lewis 11:08 AM

Again, wrt the theme. I totally blew off the "P.S.A." clue (other than I knew the answer for that clue had to be "TV spots"). And, as I intimated to @Rachel, I wasn't paying attention at all to the circled cells during the solve (iow, I was happy with all my answers), and when done, I just plain forgot 1) to look for themers, and 2) that I was doing a Thurs. puz. D'oh! Whether or not I would have grokked the full import of the theme will remain an unknown. LOL BTW, I think I get a technical dnf for not catching and/or rebusing the themers.

Actually, now that I think about it, I recall wanting "varnish" at 42D, but already having "Carter" at 41 across, thot "Carver" would be a name that could fit, but not thinking of George Washington Carver and peanuts, left Jimmy "Carter" in, and realized that "tarnish" would work for 42D, so Bob was my uncle.

Still working on thinking skills, both when under the gun or in general. Hard to change old lazy thinking (or non-thinking) habits. The recipe includes more attention to, and focus on, acuity and perspicacity, with a good dose of equanimity in the mix.

@TTrimble 11:34 AM

Your first paragraph to @Gill I. made my day! We can all take a lesson (or two) from that! 😊

On to the SB

Peace ~ Empathy ~ Kindness to all 🕊

CT2NAPA 12:37 PM  

We got the theme when, while struggling with the SW, I wanted to confirm the "ish" and said to my wife, "It has to be TARNISH, right?" And she said "No, VARNISH and CARVER".

Blog Goliard 12:38 PM  

Add me to the list of those who completely missed the true nature of the theme. I went T for HOTELS/INTENTIONS and ANTITAX/LATISH, and V for the other two pairs, and the alternate answers never occurred to me for even an instant. So I thought, "wow, that's an awfully thin theme...just two Ts and two Vs in circles, for 'TV spots'...really?"

So it was cleverer than I thought. But I have to say that the fill--and a few of the clues--really diminished my enjoyment. Not my favorite puzzle of the week for sure. But I do have one great takeaway from this one that I will remember fondly...and it's all thanks to a wrong answer.

The first time through, I didn't pay enough mind to the "e.g." in the clue for 10A, and plonked in TOSS as a four-letter synonym for chuck. Then when I came to 10D, I had T_IT__M...and wound up inventing the term "TWITCOM".

I'm not familiar with The Inbetweeners...but such a term would sure fit the glorious Fawlty Towers! (And also Curb Your Enthusiasm, referenced in another clue.)

GILL I. 12:49 PM  

Oh...and @TTrimble. No need to apologize. I really have thick skin and I think you're a cool dude. :-). You're a dude, right? Or are you a dudette in disguise ?

TTrimble 12:52 PM  

@Gill I.
Have you tried contacting Shortz? Again, I don't think the NYTXW per se is venerating him, nor do I think it's correct to lump Shortz in with ANTIVAX etc. OTOH, nor do I think they'll ever clue him as "despotic murderer". Would this suffice: "Figure of the Cuban Revolution" or "Revolutionary from Argentina"? Would that be sufficiently neutral?


FWIW, it seems my earlier guess about SALTS (8:31 AM) was correct. More here. 'To put something into storage for use at a later date. An allusion to preserving foods, especially meats, by curing them with salt. A noun or pronoun can be used between "salt" and "away." '

Geezer 12:58 PM  

@Sir Hillary. You are INAWE of 8 themers. It will blow your mind that, as OFFTheGrid pointed out, there are 16. 4 for each "TV".

GILL I. 1:03 PM  

I'm off to get COVID tested. @TTRimble I'm not lumping Will in with anything. All I'm saying is that the NYT clues CHE (often) as some sort of hero. He's not. Period...End of discussion.
Wish me luck.

TTrimble 1:11 PM  

@Gill I.
I identify as a dude (cool or not) and always have. Anyway, glad you have a thick skin, and thanks. My own skin has varying degrees of thickness.

TTrimble 1:13 PM  

Good luck, GI!

bocamp 1:15 PM  

@GILL I. 1:03 PM 🙏

Peace ~ Empathy ~ Kindness to all 🕊

Teedmn 1:25 PM  

Nice puzzle (albeit with all of the tough SPOTS others have complained about.) I was so happy when what I thought was an either/or rebus turned out to be the whole Schrödinger, which George Washington and Jimmy provided (plus the revealer, natch.)

I liked the strangeness of socks and salts ever having the same meaning AS per 21A.

Rachel, thank you for pointing out that ALEE doesn't work in SB. I cannot fathom why something that shows up in crosswords twice a week, if not more, would be deemed unworthy. Meanwhile, I'll keep trying it when the opportunity arises.

Zachary Spitz, I'm glad you revisited this theme and made it work, thanks!

pabloinnh 1:38 PM  

@Lewis-I finished the puzzle with a T in two circles and a V in two circles, so two TV's in spots, or "TV spots". That's my flimsy explanation and I'm sticking to it.

More "Salts " Dept.--In the unscrupulous days of the Old West, gold mines used to be "salted" by blasting a few nuggets into a suitable wall with a shotgun. An unsuspecting sort would be brought in later to inspect the property and the shooter would dig some gold out of the wall and convince the sucker, who then bought the property. At least that's the way I heard the story (citation not provided).

bocamp 1:43 PM  

@Teedmn 1:25 PM

SB stuff

Like you I plunk "alee" in every time; same for "anoa" and many, many others I've come across that are definitely SB-worthy.

In Sam's defense tho, there must be hundreds of possible non-offensive, Scrabble-worthy words that he could choose from. He's got to pick and choose in order to make the puzzle manageable for us SBers. 🤔

And, now off to embark on said puzzle. 🤞

Peace ~ Empathy ~ Kindness to all 🕊

bagelboy 1:46 PM  

I SKISUIT has not really been a thing for a few decades. In Hot Tub Time Machine, you'll see some of the one piece ski suits they wore in 1985. But you dont see them anymore.

Douglas 1:53 PM  

Is there a way we can stop replying to all the anonymous posters as @Anon? At first glance it really looks like QAnon and puts a cringe through my body. Maybe don’t shorten anonymous?

JOHN X 2:04 PM  

CHE Guevara may have been murdering terrorist but his bigger crime is that f**king poster which has been on every college dorm wall for decades now.

This is why Bob Marley and Steely Dan also need to be executed for war crimes, although I think they are now ⅔ dead.

sixtyni yogini 2:08 PM  

Loved this puzz — AFTER I finished it.
Very clever.
And i may join the outraged nitpick club with : tree GODS for kodama. It’s just wrong. Spirit, sprite, (too many letters) soul, I dunno some other plural 3 letter word but not gods.
Well, that was fun.😜

Maybe . . . 2:11 PM  

SESH? SESH?!? Who has ever actually said that (partial, copped-off) word?

Douglas 2:12 PM  

@bagelboy. Ski suits are actually making a comeback. They are very retro and you see them all over the hill.

webwinger 2:13 PM  

Surprised that so many commenters seem to be unaware of LEON Black, a series regular played by J. B. Smoove in the last several seasons of Curb Your Enthusiasm. He’s a brilliantly written and acted character who allows gentle ribbing of some features of Blackness, and his relationship with Larry David is one of the best buddy portrayals I’ve ever seen on small or large screen.

@Lewis 11:08: I finished with one T and three Vs in the circled squares, which sort of made sense in terms of the revealer, but just seemed dumb. Next time I’ll be more alert.

Barbara S. 2:14 PM  

@bocamp and @Teedmn


It pays to try stuff you think will be thrown out. The other day I put in LINNET (type of bird), a word that I'm sure used to be rejected, and it got me 6 points. [Sound of happy chirping.]

Nancy 2:36 PM  

@jberg (1:29) -- Re: my Brett/Bart/FAVRE/STARR mix-up -- of course!! Now why didn't I think of that? "Maverick" was my era, too, and one of my early guilty pleasures. But the alternating of Bart with Brett in the series caused me no end of unhappiness. Brett was the absolutely devastating, drop-dead gorgeous, funny as all-get-out James Garner, the great love of my young life (and my older life, too), whereas Bart was the perfectly pleasant-looking, not especially witty Jack Kelly, And when Jack was starring, James was off the program that week. "No, no, no," I would think, "you can't take Brett away from me like that! You just can't!!! Meanies!!!"

If I could have had a relationship with any star in Hollywood, past or present, any one, there's no question that it would have been James Garner. Even more than Cary; even more than Paul. And that's because I saw one of Jim's early interviews from the "Maverick" era. He was even more devastating in real life than he was on screen. So warm. So real. So smart. Such delightful and self-deprecating humor. The glint of amusement in his eyes. The spontaneity and obvious good nature of his incredible smile. I've looked for that early interview more than once, and I'd happily share it with the women on this blog if I could find it. Alas, it doesn't seem to exist in cyberspace -- only in my memory.

tea73 2:44 PM  

Regarding CHE - in most dictionaries icon as someone you venerate comes first, but the Collins dictionary has "If you describe something or someone as an icon, you mean that they are important as a symbol of a particular thing," which is how I took it. He's a symbol of revolutions for better or worse.

I was surprised at how many people missed the Schrödinger aspect of the puzzle. I do the puzzle with my husband on Thursdays and thanks to the snow he's home. He thought 17 across was INVENTIONS and I thought it was INTENTIONS and we looked at the down and realized HOTEL and HOVEL both worked.

Didn't know ELISSA or LEON, but what other letter would work there? Didn't know CHOI or CBS but again the C was the only reasonable letter.

Loved the puzzle.

sanfranman59 2:52 PM  

Medium NYT Thursday (4% below my Thursday 6-month median solve time) ... we haven't seen this constructor name in three years, almost to the day

This one fooled me. Since I've solved every puzzle in the Shortz catalog, you'd think I'd know by now to almost assume that isolated circles in a Thursday grid signals a rebus puzzle (I guess it's actually a Schrödinger puzzle). But no. I didn't pick up on the rebi until my solution wasn't accepted. In my defense, I only barely know what day of the week it is in this post-retirement COVID world. I had T's in the three northern-most circles, but a V in the southern-most. If I'd happened to enter a T in that last one, my solution would have been accepted (with an Easy-Medium solve time) and I likely wouldn't have learned about the trick until I read the reviews. Good on the constructor for finding sixteen words that worked with the T/V switcheroo.

The ELISSA {1D: Michigan congresswoman Slotkin}/LEON {14A: Larry's housemate on "Curb Your Enthusiasm"} cross was a potential Natick, but I was confident in the other letters and I think L is the only thing that makes sense at that cross. The SW was a little hairy with STEVIA {33D: Sweetener from a leaf extract} and with TREE GODS {42D: Kodama, in Japanese mythology} crossing both CHOI {58A: Broadcast personality Kelly} and SESH {65A: Informal meeting}. I'm never very happy about seeing UIE {24A: Short turnaround?} or its variants in a grid, no matter how cute the clue attempts to be. This was a mostly fair, mostly good and mostly fun test. One thumb up from me.

McDoog 2:52 PM  

A couple of comment reactions:

To all those worried about the NYT's "endorsement" of Che. The clue was Revolutionary *icon*, referring to decades of that image on t-shirts and posters, and not anything necessarily positive or negative.

Maybe the Spelling Bee doesn't take ALEE because it might be two words to some people ("Hard a lee"), or maybe because the Bee doesn't like sailing words in general (it doesn't accept LUFF either).

bocamp 2:59 PM  

@Barbara S. 2:14 PM

Exactly! and that's one reason I keep putting words like that in. 👍

pg -2

Peace ~ Empathy ~ Kindness to all 🕊

EdFromHackensack 3:20 PM  

CHE is fair game. The “icon” is in reference to his oft seen head stamped ubiquitously all over creation. Those complaining about the ELISSA/LEON cross - what else can it be? And the “mom” tv show on CBS - geez, ABC, NBC, CBS take your pick for starters. I got hung up on my misspelling of “FAhRE” but I fixed it and finished no errors. Hey its a Thursday - how can you complete the thing and not realize the darned theme? Hats off Zach!!

SFR 3:21 PM  

Hand hereby up

old actor 3:21 PM  

I know it's late to comment on a Monday puzzle, but I've been powerless here in TX until a few hours ago. I wanted to share a Rudy Valee story. I used to go to a barber on East 54th St. when I was a student in NY. It was a small..one chair shop and cheap.
Evidently Rudy got his haircut there and paid with a check. The barber didn't cash it but poudly framed it and put it in the shop window.

So Rudy got a free haircut. He was notoriously cheap. He even had a pay phone in his house for his guests.

Pete 3:35 PM  

I too didn't know Kelly CHOI, but looking her up after all the brouhaha here, I recognized her immediately - She has an "about NYC" show on WNYC, the official station of NYC. I find her annoying because she always wears a full length black leather trench coat no matter the time of year or occasion. Apparently she also hosts or hosted cooking shows on Bravo. Definitely C-List, but not deadly.

Frantic Sloth 3:49 PM  

I haven't read anything by the constructor, so I wonder if Rachel is correct in her belief that CARTER/CARTER was the inspiration for the puzzle. It seems like the best one, so I'm inclined to agree.

Like others have said, my appreciation for this puzzle grew after the solve. Though impressive, it still smacks of that "look what I can do" stink that tends to mask any aroma of enjoyment, IMHO.

Add my voice – enthusiastically – to others bemoaning the use of US Representatives' names in a crossword. It's unfair, boring, and makes me feel stupider than I am* because I don't know it.
*Imagine that.

Hand up for "The Mystery of Kelly CHOI" being a book I've never read. Or is it my favorite? Neither or both, it's my SchrÖdinger contribution to the day. Either way, had no idea who she was.

@mruedas 613am, et.al. I admit to being a little put-off by SEXTED as clued, but then again, I'm rather a prude

@GILL 952am Thanks for the new word – and the laugh! And you can stay on your soapbox as long as you like as far as I'm concerned -- somebody has to do it! Or do people really like remaining ignorant? It ain't all it's cracked up to be, I can tell you that.
@GILL 103pm Good luck with a cherry on top! No, make that wine. Wine on top is better.

@Giovanni 1155am Why do your pajamas have dirty hair? Also, I wish you luck on the contest using your phone (yikes!). Then again, maybe you'll prove your angle theory. 😁

Whatsername 4:14 PM  

@Lewis (11:08) The best way I can explain it is that I didn’t “need” the revealer to finish the puzzle. Then when it was finished, all the theme answers appeared correct with only one letter in the circle, whether it was a T or a V. That alone seemed sufficient to embody the idea of a T/V SPOT. I had to study it before I realized the letters were interchangeable in each answer.

@GILL (1:03) Thoughts and prayers. Sincerely.

@Douglas (1:53) Good point. I’ve been guilty of shortening the Anon but I will cease and desist immediately and henceforth.

@Nancy (2:36): About James Garner, I happen to agree. Not only was he irresistibly handsome, but he always seemed so genuine. If you have not seen him in the movie Murphy’s Romance with Sally Field, you’d probably love it.

Pete 4:16 PM  

KODPOMA spirits that live in trees in Shintoism, a religion not a mythology. At least not any more a mythology than any other religion.

Joaquin 4:48 PM  

I am one of those (like Frantic Sloth and others), bummed due to the inclusion of some "unknown to everyone" congressperson. However, it did motivate me to read Slotkin's Wiki article in its entirety and I found she is someone we all really should know about. A very interesting and impressive resumé, not really done justice by the short blurb that Rachel included in her review.

Z 5:33 PM  

@Gill I - Good Luck and be negative.
On the other thing, you took issue with “icon” because it venerates the guy. As many have pointed out now, it doesn’t mean that except in a religious context, and (in my experience) really only in a Catholic context (although apparently also in an Eastern Orthodox context). For me there’s actually a slightly negative connotation suggested by calling someone an “icon” because the word suggests a mythologizing is happening. So for me it meets both your criteria, not turning him into a hero while implying there is a gap between the image and the reality.

@sixtyni yogini - Huh. That clue didn’t make me blink because small g GOD is synonymous with spirit, sprite or soul. Here’s the applicable definition from M-W: a being or object that is worshipped as having more than natural attributes and powers
specifically : one controlling a particular aspect or part of reality

@old actor - Stay safe.

@McDoog - Or maybe the Spelling Bee is just as capricious and inscrutable as spelling itself is.

@Frantic Sloth - I only realized I knew ELISSA Slotkin from her MSNBC appearances after (like @Pete and Kelly CHOI) I looked her up and she’s from my home state. TBF, her district is mostly corn fields with some urban areas at either end, roughly 90 miles apart. Oh, wait, the middle of her district is infamous for being the center of Michigan’s KKK types going back until at least the 1920’s and still being Klan friendly even today. That her district elected a Democrat tells you something about how awful her predecessor was.

chinch 5:37 PM  

@Lewis, I solved it as t across and v down.

Anonymous 5:38 PM  

All this James Garner love fest has got to stop!! The best part of "Maverick" was cousin Beau, played by the same guy who played Simon Templar and James Bond. He just happened to have been in the Olde Country fleecing poor gamblers long enough to pick a bit of accent.

Usmcrgreg 5:58 PM  

A nice Thursday for a change, but not a fan of ECHO for a guitar pedal effect. ECHO is more of a vocal effect accomplished at the mixing board.

bocamp 6:04 PM  

@Nancy (2:36) / @Whatsername (4:14 PM)

Thx for the James Garner tip. He's been a favorite of mine since the '50s. I'm now watching "Murphy's Romance" via the CTV app on Apple TV.

One of my favorite Garner movies is "One Special Night", with Julie Andrews.

Peace ~ Empathy ~ Kindness to all 🕊

Frantic Sloth 6:20 PM  

@Joaquin 448pm Excellent point. There's almost nothing better than learning about new people and things and what not. I say "almost" only because it usually entails a lot of reading. Blech. 😉

@Z 533pm Gadzooks! If the KKK-rich population voted for her(or any democrat) her predecessor must have been evil incarnate. Ugh.

Anonymous 6:37 PM  

Z/Pete- LOL

Pete 6:45 PM  

@Nancy - Garner also starred in one of the most under-rated movies of all time, The Americanization of Emily. Paddy Chayefsky was channeling Shaw there.

pabloinnh 6:50 PM  

@GILL I-Te deseo la mejor suerte!

@old actor-Wishing you the speediest possible regeneration, electrically speaking of course.

Anonymous 6:50 PM  

Did not enjoy this. Next.

jae 7:12 PM  

@bocamp & Nancy - allow me to second @Pete’ s comment on The Americanization of Emily, also staring Julie Andrews. It was an ahead of its time (1964) anti-war film that both Garner and Andrews have considered their personal favorite.

Anoa Bob 7:32 PM  

Only 34 black squares give this grid an open and inviting look. Maybe it was needed to provide enough space for the eight(!) themers and the central reveal. That's a lot of material to get into a grid and still have some good longer nontheme entries. So well done there.

I agree with Usmcrgreg @5:58 PM. I always thought the effect that a guitar pedal produces (1 Across) was WAWA. Took a long time to correct that out-of-the-gate error and I was surprised when ECHO finally showed up. That's news to me.

Speaking of ECHO, if you are doing vocal communications electronically, say from home, a quick and easy way to reduce ECHO and reverberation in a room or space is to hang drapes/curtains on the walls (whether there is a window there or not). It can get rid of that "talking from the bottom of a well" effect to the sound of your voice.

Whatsername 7:34 PM  

@bocamp (6:04) Thanks for the recommendation. That’s one I missed but it looks like a charmer and I love Julie Andrews. Hope you enjoyed Murphy. Looks like my link didn’t work for some reason.

JC66 7:35 PM  

I got my second Covid shot today.

In two weeks, I'll feel comfortable partying with JOHN X.

Z 7:44 PM  

@Frantic - If I had to guess, it is more likely that the part of her district that’s a northern Detroit suburb went from purple to blue. The part of her district that includes parts of Lansing would be very blue and the farm country very red. The northern ‘burbs of Detroit are often the swing area of Michigan. She was one of two Michigan Democrats to win in “Republican” districts, the other one also including parts of Oakland county.

I wish you guys wouldn’t recommend movies only available on Amazon or for rent from YouTube. The last time it was Two Women. I will not spend a penny at Amazon and giving money to Google takes something truly extraordinary.

Sandy McCroskey 8:06 PM  

@Photomatte—The founders of quantum physics would not (obviously) be satisfied with your "commonsense" explanation, which actually cannot be applied to the famous double-slit experiment with photons whence arises the paradox that the Schrödinger cat is meant to illustrate.

Nancy 8:35 PM  

@Pete and @jae -- "The Americanization of Emily" is one of my favorite films of all time, even though I neglected to mention it on my blog profile. I "third" your recommendation that anyone who hasn't seen it should get hold of it as soon as they can.

Want to see screen chemistry? I challenge you to find any film in film history with more chemistry between its leads than there is between Garner and Julie Andrews. For me, it was more apparent than between Bogie and Bacall or Tracy and Hepburn. Nothing at all explicit, but the screen sizzled. In fact, the screen sizzled so much, that I do believe they weren't acting at all. See the movie and then tell me that they weren't getting it on:)

@Whatsername and @bocamp -- I'm not sure I ever saw Murphy's Romance and I've never heard of One Special Night. I'll check if Netflix has them. Otherwise I'll have to wait for the public library to reopen to get a DVD.

chefwen 9:01 PM  

@Egs 10:54, I think @Yoman 5:47 was just messing with me.

bocamp 9:26 PM  

@jae (7:12 PM) / @Pete (6:45 PM)

Thx for the recommendation. I was about to rent it on iTunes, when I (on the off chance) thot to look in my Western Digital MyCloud library, and lo and behold, there it is! which means I've seen it quite some time ago, and as happens with most movies and books, have forgotten. Always a pleasure to re-view and re-read. LOL

@Whatsername (7:34 PM) ~ yw 😊

I'm almost halfway thru it (the point at which the ex drops by), and that scene twigs something in the recesses of my memory; quite sure now I've seen it before, but I always enjoy re-viewing good movies.

Btw, wrt your link issue, the few times that happened to me, I had forgotten to put the url into the html line. Just a possibility. 🤔

@JC66 (7:35 PM) 👍

Peace ~ Empathy ~ Kindness to all 🕊

Lewis 9:33 PM  

@jc66 -- Hah!

To those who answered my 11:08 inquiry, thank you! Most of your answers made perfect sense, and got me out of thinking that the reveal had only one possible interpretation.

TTrimble 11:05 PM  

@Sandy McCroskey 8:06 PM
Thumbs up for your comment!

(It's true though that trying to understand and interpret QM can be maddening and perplexing as hell. Von Neumann once said something along the lines of, "you never really understand, you just get used to things" -- for a different context, but he might have well been speaking about QM.)

stephanie 11:33 PM  

i ended up with V's in two circles early on, so just filled in V's in the other two and went from there, assuming the circles must all contain the same letter. when i got to "tv spots" very near the end (solving for "many PSAs"), it didn't make sense to me what a circled V had to do with it to be honest! but when i finished the puzzle the website auto-changed all the V's to "T/V" in each circle and then i had the usually satisfying facepalm moment i often have with thursday puzzles. oops. oh well though, all's well that ends well.

stephanie 11:41 PM  

the only clues i wasn't crazy about were ski suits (isn't is snowsuits that you wear in the snow? but then, i don't ski so i'll chalk that one up to maybe skiers call them ski suits) and "uie." i don't know anyone who says they pulled a uie, it's uey where i'm from so that one always trips me up for too long. i should remember by now that they use both, but for some reason that bit of crossword-ese hasn't stuck in my brain yet.

also had to laugh when i finally got scum - spent way too long trying to think of a movie that started with "sc"!

overall very enjoyable for me. i'm getting way better at thursdays, puzzles i wouldn't even try a couple years ago, followed by only knowing a few answers and not finishing, and now i can usually finish either on my own or with a little help from google to double check my educated guesses or intersecting names. (today i learned grand slam has to do with tennis and not baseball in this case - not that i know many baseball names either!)

Cristi 12:12 PM  

“Salt away” is an archaic idiom that roughly means “put something aside for future use.” It’s a phrasal verb, so “salt” gets conjugated and always travels with its preposition particle: salts away, salted away, is salting way, etc. (I imagine the verb is figurative, based on the practice of using salt to cure food for future use.)

Scott Schaper 9:39 AM  

Aww dang....you’re write up was so good....but where’s the hate? I kept reading and reading, and got to the end....no hate! No hate for the author. No hate for the editor. No hate for the fill. No hate for the theme. No hate for the world. Where is the shaming...or have you none?Where’s the guilt trip? I mean, really Rachel? Have you no blackened heart, or darkened-out soul? The nerve...well-writing without vitriol. Couldn’t you find one teensy reason to shame Will Shorts’ bad decisions? You found no way to heave some measure of modern-day ill upon the constructor?

Rachel...you have some serious unlearning to do. What were you thinking...that, that, that...crossword puzzles are merely an entertaining and intellectual escape from our chaotic, busy, alternative-fact-filled world? Wow.

Anyway...nice write up, I guess. Next time, at least throw in a social lesson and find a way to “lady ‘splain” it to us.

Have an okay day polluting the world with your hope-mongering brightness.

Unknown 7:00 AM  

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