Area named for gynecologist Ernst Gräfenberg / THU 3-25-21 / China North Korea border river / Supercomputing pioneer Seymour / Five-point rugby play / Grocery product with orange packaging / Nick who voices Kuiil on The Mandalorian

Thursday, March 25, 2021

Constructor: Alex Eaton-Salners

Relative difficulty: Challenging (but I got *very* stuck, so it might actually be more like Medium-Challenging)

THEME: Opposite of [circled letters] — that's the clue for six themers, each of which are words that contain their putative "opposites" inside them, in the circled letters. So:

Theme answers:
  • EFFECTIVE contains EFFETE (?)
  • FEASTING contains FASTING 
  • PRURIENT contains PURE
  • ANIMOSITY contains AMITY
Word of the Day: Seymour CRAY (35D: Supercomputing pioneer Seymour) —
Seymour Roger Cray (September 28, 1925 – October 5, 1996) was an American electrical engineer and supercomputer architect who designed a series of computers that were the fastest in the world for decades, and founded Cray Research which built many of these machines. Called "the father of supercomputing", Cray has been credited with creating the supercomputer industry. Joel S. Birnbaum, then chief technology officer of Hewlett-Packard, said of him: "It seems impossible to exaggerate the effect he had on the industry; many of the things that high performance computers now do routinely were at the farthest edge of credibility when Seymour envisioned them." Larry Smarr, then director of the National Center for Supercomputing Applications at the University of Illinois said that Cray is "the Thomas Edison of the supercomputing industry." (wikipedia)
• • •

Just a chore. Whatever the opposite of "word-related fun" is, that's what this was. The thing that makes it deathly is the cluing—it's like being hit with a hammer, but more tiresome, if somewhat less violent. Same clue, over and over. And a clue that tells you nothing specific, that involves no wordplay, no cleverness, nothing. Just thud thud thud thud thud thud. You know exactly what you have to do from the very beginning, and then begins the extreme chore of doing it. Is my life improved by knowing that the letters in WOEFUL can be found sequentially inside of WONDERFUL? It is not. Did any of these bring even a glimmer of that "aha" feeling that makes solving tough clues so satisfying? No, not a one was able to do this. And EFFETE? We all use EFFECTIVE in our ordinary, daily lives. I doubt anyone uses EFFETE even 1/1000th as much. What a dismal pair of alleged "opposites." And hiding FASTING inside of FEASTING is not exactly what you'd call amazing. Thematically, this was dreary, and the drear permeated all other aspects of the solving experience.

The toughness lies mainly in sussing out the themers with nothing specific to go on from the clues. But I managed to add difficulty, and a lot of it, by making one tiny, plausible error, which resulted in an astonishing cascade of negative implications for my solving success. Once I got into the NE corner, I thought I made pretty quick work of the short Downs (10- through 13-Down). The crosses that I had seemed to work: ON ICE and NOLTE worked, EFFECTIVE and NED worked, so I thought everything was OK. But one letter was off. SNORT OCTAVE and TEEMED were fine, but I had FILE IN instead of PILE IN (11D: Enter all together), and as Robert Frost didn't exactly say, that made all the difference. I couldn't get rid of FILE IN because it seemed very right. All the correct crosses confirmed its rightness for me. So ... the gynecologist clue... I had -SFOT ... and I had no idea, truly, that "Area" was anatomical. So I thought maybe a geographical region, a cape or a peninsula, maybe (?), had been named for this guy. I don't know. I was like "Is U.S. FOT an 'area' ...?" This was all made infinitely worse by my struggles with *two* nearby longer phrases, each of which was missing only *one* letter, but *neither* of which I could parse. Here was the grid:

You see how 9D: Escalate to the extreme has a complete English word there at the end, the word CLEAR? Well let me tell you, when you see a complete English word like that at the end of your answer, it is very (very) hard to shake the idea that it is a stand-alone word in the answer that it is in. So I just kept wanting phrases ending in "CLEAR" (GONE CLEAR!?) instead of GO NUCLEAR. This is a very, very unfortunate thing to have happen around what is far and away the best answer in the grid. Further, the only possibility I could see at 21A: "You betcha!" ("I SURE AM!") was "I SCREAM." So there, I had the opposite of my CLEAR problem, which is that I *couldn't* see that there was a stand-alone word already in view at the end of that phrase. the word "AM." So, to recap, FILE IN => no idea about the gynecologist => a seemingly impossible double parsing catastrophe with GO NUCLEAR and "I SURE AM." I don't even remember how I finally came out of it. 

  • 61A: Cry made while removing a jacket ("IT'S ON!") — is this supposed to be the prelude to a fight? People say "IT'S ON!" all the time but usually there's no actual physical fighting and only rarely (I imagine) removing of jackets. The phrasing on the clue is so bizarre (why not "one's jacket"?) that I thought maybe there was supposed to be jacket ambiguity. Seriously considered what one might cry upon removing a book's dust jacket. 
  • 63A: Dispatch, in a way (SLAY) — Had the "S," wrote SEND. That corner was toughish, because, once again, parsing a longish phrase (SET A GOAL) was a slog.
  • 45D: ___ conservative (FISCAL) — misread the clue, which is to say I ignored the blank and thought the clue was just [Conservative]. Brain was just all over the place this morning.
  • 35D: Supercomputing pioneer Seymour (CRAY) — no idea, though I weirdly wanted CRAY pretty early on ... so maybe I knew without knowing I knew. That sometimes happens.
I get my first dose of the vaccine today, which is honestly thrilling. Hope you all have been doing your level best to get yours ASAP. Take care.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


vtspeedy 6:24 AM  

Just goes to show how solving is so dependent on set and setting. And serendipity. I flew through this in probably my faster Thursday time ever with no real stumpers; only the usual quick tentative answers and just as quick reversals. And so found myself thinking, really? This was a Thursday? But for the opposites trickery, which just seemed obvious, this felt like a Tuesday.

Richard Stanford 6:25 AM  

I actually enjoyed going from FASTING to FEASTING with only one letter not circled, but maybe I’m just easily amused in the morning. Went across first so GSPOT seemed to be an overly clued gimmie for a Thursday.

My first themer was ANIMOSITY which felt satisfying. The most stubborn wrong ones were ziP instead of PEP and Era or age for EON. Otherwise I felt this was a very pleasant unfolding puzzle,

Conrad 6:25 AM  

I disagree with Rex (alert the media!). This was a fine puzzle, and had more than a few "aha moments." It helped that I knew CRAY, got SID CASEAR from the SI and left _ILE IN blank, making it easier to see G SPOT. My only real trouble spot was I SURE do for I SURE AM, but the crosses straightened that out quickly. Enjoyed the CANDY BAR misdirect; was thinking planet or god for the longest time.

I need to note that I don't disagree with Rex about the vaccine. Being an old geezer, I've been fully vaccinated for over a month and it really is liberating in a way that I couldn't have imagined a year ago.

DeeJay 6:26 AM  

Well put, Rex. Having a stand alone word in one's grid leaves many of us mortals stymied. And compounding the difficulty with another misapprehension, well, that's what many of us face ALL THE TIME.

I, for one, am heartened by the fact that you suffer these things as well.

W 6:36 AM  

It didn't help that they spelled nucular wrong. Shortz is getting sloppier every day.

Anonymous 6:43 AM  

ARYAN nazis and anti-EFFETE homophobia in the grid, just what I wanted this morning.

Lewis 7:01 AM  

Alex's notes uncover the concept of "kangaroo words", which is what this theme is all about, words that embed synonyms or antonyms, called "joeys". Get it? It's like a baby kangaroo in its mother's pouch.

So I did a bit of reading about kangaroo words, and what a magnificent rabbit hole it took me down! To those for whom this concept is also new, let me introduce its pinnacle, the “grand kangaroo”, which has two joeys, one of which is in the pouch of the other. Example: ALONE, which contains “lone”, which itself contains “one”. Others include AMICABILITY (amiability/amity), COMPLAISANT (compliant/pliant), EXPURGATE (purge/pure), and FRANGIBLE (fragile/frail).

Being new to the concept of kangaroo words, this puzzle was a wow from beginning to end. The theme was obvious from the clues, but getting theme answers required intricate thinking for me, and those I got with only a few crosses were fist-pump-worthy victories. On top of that, there was much devilish cluing to overcome, providing much satisfaction.

Then I had my ISUREAM moment. For too long, I saw it as a single word, and I kept wondering what the heck an isuream was and how it could mean “you betcha!”.

Capping it off was PET/ARF/PAW/ALPO reminding me of the beings that are our angels on earth. Thank you, Alex! Isuream glad you made this!

Teresa 7:06 AM  

I can't believe Rex didn't squawk about Aryan. There really was an ancient people called that, but still ...

IRA SY 7:10 AM  

@JOHNH 8:40 Sunday nailed this one. He wrote that WS is more into word games than Xwords. This is one of his favorite games for years.
Took me a while to fill in. Last themer was FEASTING.
On the whole, I liked this puzzle.

Anonymous 7:10 AM  


The Joker 7:15 AM  

One letter and one letter only in each square. What a concept for a Thursday!

bocamp 7:16 AM  

Thank you @Alex; just what a Thurs. NYT puz should be: WONDERFUL! :)

Easy-med solve.

Quickly got the NW, which led to CANDYBAR and SIDCAESAR; everything opened up from there. Grokked the theme at FEASTING/FASTING, which definitely sped up the solve.

Harriet Tubman a very special, courageous American!

Green Grow the LILACS ~ Chad Mitchell Trio

yd SB 1 = pg -1 / SB 2 = 0

Peace ~ Empathy ~ TOLERANCE ~ Kindness to all 🕊

G. 7:23 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
S. Agnew 7:25 AM  

"And EFFETE? We all use EFFECTIVE in our ordinary, daily lives. I doubt anyone uses EFFETE even 1/1000th as much.

Really? Hmmm. Why, not very long ago (I believe it was October 1969), I turned to my wife while eating breakfast and perusing the New York Times and said, "You know, Elinor, a spirit of national masochism prevails, encouraged by an effete corps of impudent snobs who characterize themselves as intellectuals."

She nodded, said "Yes dear," and poured me another cup of coffee.

jmiz 7:28 AM  


Mac 7:33 AM  

Painful. Just painful.

Frantic Sloth 7:35 AM  

Just when you think things can't get any more exciting, they don't.

This "opposites contract" gimmick had me rollin' in the eyels. 🙄 See?

So, the less said about the theme, the better.

Kinda liked the crunchyish fill though, especially GONUCLEAR, SIDCAESAR, TIEDONEON (Hi, @GILL!), and YALU. Nah - just kidding about that one. Actually would have preferred it as a plural, but ya win some, YALUS some. Oh, well....

Here's hoping today's secret word is COURTEOUS and not ANIMOSITY.


Lewis 7:35 AM  

As your resident alphadoppeltotter, a role I have inexplicably taken on, I should report that today’s puzzle had an UNUSUALLY LOW (<5) number of double letters (4). The last time this happened was on January 6 of this year. Carry on.

kitshef 7:36 AM  

Pour IN before PILE in, but that at least got me GSPOT which save me from Rex's ____ CLEAR issue, so while I had a little jam-up in the NE, it was quickly resolved.

Hardest for me was that YALU/LOU cross, both of which were unknowns. The L seemed most likely particularly for LOU, but with names you can never be sure.

Neither I nor anyone else has ever taken or seen a grainy bigfoot photo.

WhatDoing 7:40 AM  

Rex is just frustrated because he couldn’t find the GSPOT. I enjoyed this one.

Anonymous 7:49 AM  

If you can tolerate being distracted from searching out triggers under every rock, maybe spend a few minutes with a dictionary that gives the etymologies of words.

Z 7:56 AM  

Rex was too kind. As I’ve said too many times before, letter play just isn’t a good basis for a crossword puzzle. But Shortz likes puzzles so we get this sort of tedium in the NYTX. I imagine the Spelling Bee crowd might love this. But that letters can be used to make different words? A.Stound.Ing. 🥱

But, Oof. I circled 4 F-You PPP answers. The YALU is an answer that can only be loved by Crossword Solvers. As frequent solvers know, Crossworld only has 4-letter Rivers. NED Rorem is a very famous Crossworld composer, probably because he does the scores for Nicolas ROEG. But the Pièce de Résistance is going Mandalorian voice actor for your Nick NOLTE clue. And I didn’t even include the “F-you if you’re under 70” clues. An “old” ad slogan so old that they needed to put “old” in the clue. A jazz star who has been dead forty years. A movie that is 59 years old (the cuteness of that movie having an extensive list of 1963 Big Stars has evaporated). TANG... nothing says 1970’s Saturday morning cartoons better than TANG.

And finally - EFFETE and ARYAN. Yeah yeah. Perfectly fine words appropriately clued and fair game. But why am I not surprised that a word that evokes homophobia and a word that evokes Nazis manage to find their way into this puzzle.

👎🏽👎🏽👎🏽👎🏽 (because two thumbs down isn’t enough)

Barbara S. 7:59 AM  

Disagree with Rex, agree with most of the posts I’ve read. I thought this was extremely clever and TEEMED with Aha moments. And thanks, @Lewis, for passing on the name of the concept, “kangaroo words”. I enjoyed finding every one of these themers and thought, “Wow, how do constructors come up with these words?” That’s actually a question: is there a database somewhere?

Like Rex, I found the NE corner challenging. It was the last area completed. But I got PILE IN without even thinking of fILE IN, so I was spared that disaster. I, too, had CLEAR before anything else in 9D, but through crosses I got the N and U, so also avoided that mishap. I thought there was a fairly large dose of PPP, quite a lot of which I didn’t know right off, but crosses saved me throughout.

Today there are two passages by JUNG CHANG, born Mar. 25, 1952.

“As a child, my idea of the West was that it was a miasma of poverty and misery, like that of the homeless 'Little Match Girl' in the Hans Christian Andersen story. When I was in the boarding nursery and did not want to finish my food, the teacher would say: 'Think of all the starving children in the capitalist world!”

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

With great difficulty, I managed to borrow some English language textbooks published before the Cultural Revolution from lecturers in my department and from Jin-ming, who sent me books from his university by post. These contained extracts from writers like Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, and Oscar Wilde, and stories from European and American history. They were a joy to read, but much of my energy went toward finding them and then trying to keep them.

Whenever someone approached, I would quickly cover the books with a newspaper. This was only partly because of their 'bourgeois' content. It was also important not to appear to be studying too conscientiously, and not to arouse my fellow students' jealousy by reading something far beyond them. Although we were studying English, and were paid partly for our propaganda value by the government to do this, we must not be seen to be too devoted to our subject: that was considered being 'white and expert.’ In the mad logic of the day, being good at one's profession ('expert') was automatically equated with being politically unreliable ('white').”
(Both from Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China)

Son Volt 8:00 AM  

Liked the gimmick here for the most part - although by time I got to the 6th themer it slowed a little. I’m sure not easy to construct - liked the FEASTING/FAST play the best. Agree with Rex on the outliers especially EFFETE.

GO NUCLEAR x G SPOT was not bad. Didn’t know ROEG or TATAMI. I’ve designed a lot of track, tunnel and station for NYCT so I’m partial - but I love riding the METRO.

Read When LILACS in high school History class - wordy like all other Whitman but I always liked it.

I like a little more funk on Thursday but this was a fairly enjoyable solve.

JJK 8:02 AM  

With a reference to It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World and TANG (has anyone bought that stuff since 1980 or so?) and GSPOT (where I made the same mistake as Rex) this puzzle seemed like it was dragged out of some archive. Also I hate it when the themers have no clue given and you have to get them from crosses, although I sort of liked a couple of them. I had ImhOt for cry when taking off a jacket, and thought that was a bad clue for ITSON so that messed me up for awhile in the SW. So I didn’t enjoy this puzzle.

Mike G 8:03 AM  


American Liberal Elite 8:03 AM  

I prefer puzzles without little circles (sigh).

pabloinnh 8:07 AM  

Flew through the top, slogged through the bottom. Not my favorite Thursday of all time, but put up enough of a fight to make it feel like I'd done something when I finished, sort of like spring skiing around here, which goes from great to awful in ten seconds.

Unlike @Z, I knew YALU from its Korean War connections. I may have seen it in crosswords that's not how I remember it. Major DOOK at the beginning of GONUCLEAR, which was making no sense at all.

Otherwise serviceable enough. Thanks for the pushback, A E-S. Rather AN Exhausting Solve.

Anonymous 8:12 AM  

Hooray for the vaccine! I also kept seeing I SCREAM for I SURE AM. ah well.

Cliff 8:34 AM  

"File in" ... me too! seems to answer the clue better than "pile in".

"Send" ... me too, though "in a way" made me question this answer even as I entered it, because to "send" seems a straightforward answer to "dispatch."

Also agree that "one's jacket" would have been better than "a jacket" which sounds like an intended misdirect, which sent me to wondering about what I might say when removing a yellow jacket after it just stung me.

mmorgan 8:41 AM  

Don’t like circles, don’t like circles, don’t like circles. The rest of the puzzle was fine though I struggled to wrap up the SE corner.

@WhatDoing: ha!!

bocamp 8:43 AM  


You had some difficulties, but you stuck it out and finished! That's not WOEFUL. :)

@W (6:36 AM)

Thx for "nucular"; didn't know it.

@Lewis (7:01 AM)

WONDERFUL "joey" stuff. Who knew!

@Spiro (7:25 AM) 😂

@Barbara S. (7:59 AM)

Thx, as always, for your excerpts; esp. today's "Wild Swans" from Jung Chang. :)

YALU is xword-ese I learned back in the early '70s.

Peace ~ Empathy ~ TOLERANCE ~ Kindness to all 🕊

TTrimble 8:48 AM  

A lot of hating on today's puzzle. I like a puzzle-puzzle myself with some mild word-play (as opposed to mere trivia quiz), so no major objections here, except that I really don't think EFFETE can be considered opposite to EFFECTIVE -- generally, "effete" means something very different from "ineffective", and it takes considerable contortion IMO to make it fit. Of the six theme answers, this is by far the worst. Terrible, in fact.

Other than that, I enjoyed working through this.

That's all for now. Hope you all have a good and fulfilling day. Don't spend too much time sniping at each other here: life's short.

Saltcreekct 8:50 AM  

Sorry couldn’t find the G-spot. It happens with a lot of guys.

Birchbark 8:53 AM  

"For the sweetest, wisest soul of all my days and lands -- and this for his dear sake,
LILAC and star and bird twined in the chant of my soul,
There in the fragrant pines and the cedars dusk and dim."

So concludes "When LILACS last in the dooryard bloom'd," Whitman's elegy of the train that carried Lincoln's body back to Springfield, and a hermit bird singing in a swamp. "Dooryard" is a nineteenth century word for front yard, April being the month of the bloom.

If you have this poem in your collection, take some time when you're alone and read it aloud. It will be time very well spent.

Nancy 8:53 AM  

No fair, puzzle. You ruined my planned blog joke. When I saw the clue for 9A (no squares filled in yet), I knew what my opening sentence would be:

"Haha. You know what I thought the answer to 9A would be? I thought it would be G SPOT! Isn't that an absolute hoot? When the answer really is _____ . Hahaha."

But darn it, the answer really is G SPOT!!! So there went my joke.

As for the rest of the puzzle: I found it pretty easy on the West Coast and harder on the East Coast. At times I thought it was too easy for a Thursday, but because you can't get any of the theme answers without some crosses, I guess if the fill had been too hard, it would have caused frustration. So better a bit too easy than frustrating, right?

My favorite clue/answer is OCTAVE (12D). It's an answer that requires musical TALENTS, separating the musically adroit from the totally tin-eared. Perhaps we will see who is so blessed and who is not blessed at all as today's blog unfolds :)

Joaquin 9:05 AM  

Oh, the stuff you will learn! Today I learned (thanks to @Lewis) that there is a name for words within words, "Kangaroo words". Who knew? Not I.

Strange world we inhabit. The other day Rex gets triggered by an innocuous mention of the National Restaurant Association; today he doesn't even notice the Aryan reference. And so it goes ...

Z 9:10 AM  

Huh? I’m a little surprised that so many had fILE IN. To me that is the opposite of “enter all together” because if you fILE IN you enter one at a time. Of course, I sussed out G-SPOT from “gynecologist with a last name beginning with G” so maybe I would have done the same thing too if I hadn’t seen through the fancy last name misdirection.

@pabloinnh - My suspicion is that your knowing YALU from the Korean war puts you in the minority. Cynical me thinks most people learned everything they know about Korea from M*A*S*H... and if they never watched it because they’re too young the still no everything they know about Korea from M*A*S*H.

@Barbara S - As ever, an interesting morning meditation.

Rye, NY - We, mostly me but I get some help, have been using Rye as central to some of our ongoing amusements and I feel like we are getting far enough away from the origin of this that a small explanation is in order. “Rye” is usually clued in some bread-related way but that gets boring so occasionally it will get the New York town clue. Fine. One day, though, the clue was “town with a marina.” To say I was incensed may be an understatement. That clue is like saying “town near an interstate.” I raged. People responded. Rye, NY entered the annals of commentariat folklore. So if you love Rye and its roller coaster, recognize that our frivolity has nothing to do with Rye itself, and everything to do with raging against nonsensical cluing. Getting from there to a Sloe flavored Frozty ... like I said, I had help.

ulysses 9:17 AM  

Anyone know Will Shortz personally? The man needs to be put out to pasture. These puzzles suck. Long live Rex.

Anonymous 9:20 AM  


SPIRO Agnew's contribution to the 1970's standardized college testing vocabulary

Anonymous 9:21 AM  

For the record, everybody loves the roller coaster in Rye. Hell, it's in the movie Big and plays a part in the budding romance of its stars. It's in other films, and plays, and books and magazine articles etc.
Z wants the puzzle to be broad and not focus on NYC and its burbs. Except when it uses, says coals as a plural. In that case a usage he claims is British is problematic; he'll even kindly provide a link to dictionary. Then he'll proclaim the puzzle is `Murican and there's no room for the cosmopolitan.
The more you know....

Z 9:26 AM  

@TTrimble - Regarding EFFETE - I thought the same thing because of how I see EFFETE usually used. But I looked it up and American Heritage gives as one of its definitions Depleted of vitality, force, or effectiveness; exhausted. To my ear it is now roughly the same (and only slightly less offensive) as saying “that’s so gay.” But that’s not it’s original meaning. I still don’t like it.

Anonymous 9:30 AM  

This is the first puzzle I enjoyed in a while. Somehow I knew YALU and the whole west fell into place fairly quickly. The east was harder. I thought the opposites were clever and well done for the most part. It wasn't easy, but to my surprise I beat my average comfortably.

GILL I. 9:33 AM  

@S Agnew 7:25.....You made me guffaw or is that gofaux or guff awe....I can't remember. Anyway, you made me laugh and I need that.
Oh...the puzzle. So our friend @Lewis calls it a kangaroo? I'm hopping on my bunny bed. Yes...I found this a bit of a chore because of the clues for each theme. Most of the fill was fairly easy but then you gave me a LOU here and a YALU there and my brain got all GRAINY and I decided EFFETE needed its GSPOT to be put ON ICE. did anyone else have GO APE SHIT for 9D? No? I need Bush to come help me with NUCLEAR.
@Barbara S. My paternal grandmother would always say "think of all the starving children in China" when I wouldn't eat what she called her "special" fried chicken. The "special" was the "Thumper" that I had been feeding and caring for. She had a bunch of little rabbits in her back yard and they started to mysteriously disappear....I'm damaged for life!

Chris 9:33 AM  

agree with @Z that FILEIN and PILEIN seem like opposites, but can't let the obscurity of YALU go unchallenged. The Chinese crossing the Yalu was a major world event. There was a pretty serious fear that the US would have no choice but to use nuclear weapons. Also led to the bravery of the US/UN troops, the "Chosin Few" who were caught in the retreat from the Battle of the Chosin Resecoir.
And no, I was not alive then.
In general, it's just as significant an international border as, say, the Rio Grande, if not more so.

Sir Hillary 9:35 AM  

I am very much @Z's polar opposite when it comes to enjoying "letter play" -- it appeals to my inner architect and mathematician (although @Z, I do love your droll "Letters make up words? Who knew??" take every time we get something like this). So, the central theme was fine by me, and I liked how the non-specific theme clues made the puzzle tougher.

My biggest slap in the face was the embarrassed realization that for years I have been misusing EFFETE as one of @Lewis's "kangaroo words" -- that is: EFFEMINATE. No more.

Never heard of NED Rorem, but I was thankful that we didn't get the typical Flanders clue.

In a puzzle devoted to opposites, it was nice to see the sometimes-synonyms GRAINY and COARSE camping out in the middle. Rustic-style mustard, anyone?

Brit solves NYT 9:38 AM  

Liked it, fairly easy which helps. The novelty of some words having synonyms or antonyms as here inside them is interesting... I’m glad Will Shortz puts puzzles like this in the solving mix occasionally for those of us who like wordplay.

Seeg 9:52 AM  

Great puzzle for me. Fast solve - and Rex’s complaints help me accept the times I’m completely blank while he, a pro, sails through.

ghkozen 9:54 AM  

Are we not going to talk about how an actor I’ve never heard of from a movie I’ve never heard of (that came out 60 years ago, and 30 years before I was born) is crossing the random letter string DCON?

Hungry Mother 10:04 AM  

Easy with a fun theme today. My workshop at the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center at the dawn of the Internet helped me with CRAY, since I was able to write Parallel Fortran programs on a CRAY supercomputer. The entire building housing the CRAY was completely heated by heat generated by running the computer.

Anonymous 10:05 AM  

I think this may have been my favorite puzzle ever! Just goes to show how Rex and I will never be on the same page...

Unknown 10:11 AM  

Hello, fellow Crossworders: I’ve enjoyed this blog for a few years and keep working on my crossword skills. Was wondering if any of you have suggestions for me regarding Thursday-Saturday puzzles. Many times I give up because I don’t want to look up answers. But sometimes I just can’t muddle through without doing so. Today’s puzzle...I wanted to cry and curl up in the fetal position a few times. Thanks everyone and Happy Thursday!

Unknown 10:12 AM  

Oh I'm so surprised Rex had trouble finding the GSPOT

Anonymous 10:13 AM  

dang!! I hoped to be the first to channel Spiro. But it is sufficient that it be done.

Anonymous 10:15 AM  

Same problem with I Scream and Gone Clear

I too get my shot today! Hello from Chicago!

MarthaCatherine 10:17 AM  

Heard of CRAY computers. Didn't know they were named after a person. "Seymour" meant nothing to me. So I had C_AY. Only letter that made any sense was L. ClAY. a good name. And I thought 39D had to be sET, although I couldn't suss out what "set food" could be. So I wallowed there for a while because slURIENT (which gave me sURE for the opposite) was just nonsense. Finally saw my errors.

Loved 12D. I sat there singing all the lyrics to the song looking for a "distance" in the words. Finally heard the OCTAVE and had a lovely little aha moment. Only now the song is stuck in my head.

Had no trouble with YALU for some mysterious reason. Always wondered whether the Yalu and the Yellow rivers were somehow related--y'know, because they're both Asian and maybe Yalu had been anglicized for ignorant Westerners or something.

Only place I've ever heard of NED Rorem is in crossword puzzles so it was a gimme. I looked him up today. Apparently he's American and won a Pulitzer Prize in music in the 70s. I looked up some of his music, but the only thing that came up were Chopin etudes. Mr. Rorem needs some respect.

Loved learning about Yhdysvallat and five-point rugby plays.

johnpag 10:19 AM  

Ignore the themers, no problem. I know Cray and Gspot, so that helped.

GHarris 10:22 AM  

But for his disparagement Rex’s description mirrors my own experience in every single respect. And because I could not see the need to jettison the f I had to invoke the aid of check puzzle to find my one letter error and complete the puzzle.

johnpag 10:24 AM  

Hey W
"Nuclear" is the correct spelling, not "nucular"

Westword 10:24 AM  

Ugh. Voluntary dnf.

TTrimble 10:26 AM  

I stand corrected. (My primary associations with "effete" are "delicate", "over-refined", "affected", etc. -- not however "gay"*, although that fits with some common caricatures.) I'm glad to learn more about the etymology.

So I take it back: I no longer have any major objections to the puzzle.

mathgent 10:28 AM  

I liked it a lot. Clever theme, well-executed, good sparkle. Great clue for OCTAVE -- it made me try to sing the opening bars of the Harold Arlen masterpiece.

When I like a puzzle like today's and so many of us don't, it tells me that I've aged myself out of the mainstream. That's one of the aspects of growing old that I hadn't been warned about. Being isolated.

Like Z, I looked up effete to see if it really means ineffective. It does. How did it come to mean gay or gay-like? The Agnew quote uses it in reference to those who consider themselves intellectuals.

Paul & Kathy 10:31 AM  

Seems to be a lot of vaccines getting handed out. I got mine on Wednesday too.

Puzzle was hard. I was over my average today.

Odd note in the wordplay column. AES noted that some of his clues that referenced women changed to reference men instead.

Joaquin 10:37 AM  

@ghkozen (9:54) - It's not as if SID CAESAR is some unknown, random actor. He was one of the most influential comics ever and his "coaching tree" includes many of the biggest names in comedy to this day. His tv show, "Your Show of Shows", which aired in the early 50s, was way ahead of its time and won many awards.

W. Safire 10:44 AM  

@Anonymous (10:13am)

Actually, it was I who put those words in Ted's mouth. Dick insisted that I write all his speeches since, left to his own devices, the V.P. too easily slipped into phrases like "How much is in the briefcase?"

Lewis 10:56 AM  

@unknown 10:11 -- There is no magic bullet. Simply do the puzzles, get what you can, and be at peace with what you got AND WHAT YOU DIDN'T GET. After the puzzle, go over the entire solution, and specifically go over every answer and clue you didn't understand and do what you have to do to understand it. This last step will quicken your progress tremendously. If you do the work, you will find yourself naturally improving, and one day, up the road, you'll be writing this email to some other unknown. Truly!

Jesse 10:56 AM  

Yes, this was a challenging puzzle but I enjoyed it. I thought the clueing was good, the fill was good and no clue for the circle words made using the crosses to suss out the words fun!

jae 10:58 AM  

Mediumish. This was mostly easy. Unfortunately I had grr before ARF for way too long. I also had I’m hOt before ITS ON, which made sense but was wrong. You might say the latter after a micro aggression?

RooMonster 11:03 AM  

Hey All !
Of all places to get stuck, and contribute to my DNF, the West-Center area, on an F! Argh! Couldn't get off maYAN, even though they were in South America, no? Also wanted gRr for ARF, not able to get to ARF. Had boASTING, twisting it in the ole brain for BOASTING and BASTING to be opposites. So I ended up with MRB for 23D, AOOG for 24D, and really didn't care at that moment. Got the Almost There! message, went back, hit Check Puzzle, and saw the four wrong letters crossed out. Finally saw FEASTING/FASTING, which was a D'oh! headslap, which got me ARF, and finally ARYAN.

Even if I somehow figured that area out, I Still would've had a DNF! I had YAzU as the river at 5A instead of YALU. Dang. Mary zOU Williams seemed plausible. Cooler name for a Jazz artist!

@Nancy Re: 44A clue (Best)
Wanted the answer to be Worst!

A neat idea, nice to see opposite words in longer words sequentially, although agree with Rex on the EFFECTIVE/EFFETE one. Sounds off. Also agree with Rex on the IS_REAM/GON_CLEAR cross. That U was tough to see! I was like, "How does I SCREAM mean "You betcha!" And GONECLEAR for Escalate to the extreme? But that would make I SEREAM. What the heck is that?" Have I mentioned I talk to myself a bit? Har. Anyway, that line of thinking got me to finally see the U, and parse I SURE AM, and GO NUCLEAR (which no one says anymore.) Hearing George Bush saying Nook-leer. Again, should've applied the @M&A tactic of "when in doubt, put in a U."

But liked it in the end. Oh, that PET/CRAY/PRURIENT area a toughie, too. Still don't understand PET theory? Anyone? So I can do another head slap?

COVID update: like @pablo, got my second shot yesterday, Pfizer (and not just because it has an F), and so far (8:00 AM PDT) feel fine. I was told to drink lots of water, so started yesterday, continuing today, and knock on wood I don't get I'll from the shot. I also heard to take Tylenol if you start feeling icky. Side effect of drinking lots of water, is lots of trips to the bathroom!

Five F's

The Vez 11:11 AM  

I flew through this puzzle. It was a slog but I didn't have as much trouble as Rex did. I was a little stock at Cray but it solved itself.

Carola 11:12 AM  

I'm with @Rex on the theme. It felt to me like doing homework.

@pabloinnh, @Z, @Chris - One of my high school social studies teachers was a Korean War veteran who still in the early 1960s simmered with resentment at what he viewed as a weak U.S. response to North Korean aggression. I think I heard the phrase "crossed the YALU River" once a week during my sophomore year.

JD 11:18 AM  

Struggled so mightily for each answer but it was worth it.

Biggest problem was the Ernst Gräfenberg area. Few people realize now that the Uteri area of upstate New York is also named for him based on his landmark discovery of the uterus in the late 18th century. Prior to that, physicians had paid little attention to the female anatomy outside of the breasts.

chuck w 11:20 AM  

@Hey W I think the "nucular" people were being funny. Didn't George W. Bush used to say it like that? (so does my husband)

Chaiminded 11:22 AM  

SEYMOUR CRAY, writing as Crey Seymour famously said: "Life is like an orgasm. It's better when it's not faked."

What? 11:23 AM  

The Shortz crew informs me they get over 200 submissions a week. This is the best they can do? I’d like to see the rejections.

MichGirl 11:25 AM  

On deck, on hand....but not "on ice" for standing by.

Nancy 11:26 AM  

Re the "Quick get that dog some ALPO" clue:

Here (located on the right) is Snoopy's rejoinder.

Newboy 11:27 AM  

Today’s grid deserves praise if for no other reason than prompting the engagement of commentariat who PILE IN. So many well-phrased entries that I enjoyed equally with the aha in discovery of @Lewis’s Roos in a pouch as all six slid into perfect placement (insert your own G SPOT pun here). And @Barbara S highlighted an area of literature of which I am profoundly unaware. Then @Birchbark echoes my delight in Whitman (& if time allows reread “out of the cradle” aloud for its musical cadence). What a treat! And I enjoyed Alex’s puzzle too.

Whether you liked a puzzle or not, it would be good to remember Henry James’s quip in The Art of Fiction :
“Moreover, it isn’t till I have accepted your data that I can begin to measure you. I have the standard, the pitch; I have no right to tamper with your flute and then criticize your music. “

Paul 11:28 AM  

Also the most effective way to master standardized tests.

Ethan Taliesin 11:30 AM  

EFFETE is a perfectly fine antonym for effective.

This was a superb puzzle and for sure a top five of the year for me. I had the same FILEIN rather than PILEIN, but that's the sort of trouble I love. The trouble I DON'T love is where I had mindlessly misspelled COARSE as COURSE for some reason which made GONUCLEAR a mystery for a bit, but other than that the puzzle was a pure joy to solve.

As far as ARYAN goes... I have an Iranian friend from the Caucasus, so she's an Aryan Caucasian.

Anonymous 11:30 AM  

At this point I visit the blog to find out what Rex will whine about today, and I was honestly surprised. For a person who complains constantly that puzzles are not as challenging as they used to be, I couldn’t have foreseen him getting annoyed that this one was challenging (and fun for, apparently, most of us). I would say you can’t have it both ways but, I suppose, if you’re the webs best known crossword curmudgeon, you can.

rochdale 11:32 AM  

I think that it is admirable that Rex publicly admits to having difficulty finding the GSPOT. ;)

Canon chasuble 11:32 AM  

After Wednesday’s slog of trying to get through 25+ proper names (and which I abandoned early on) today’s puzzle was an absolute delight.
With a lot of mind-bending misdirection in its clues, and multi-word answers masquerading as single, incomprehensible one-word answers,
It was sometimes puzzling, but always fun to discover the constructor’s cleverness. In a side note, I am amazed at the criticism of “effete” a normal word in my own vocabulary. Ah well, each to his own... use, as well as education, I guess.

MMMMWorld 11:39 AM  

Well, I wouldn't file this under the big W. The big D, at best - a draw. A slog mostly, with a few flashes - GO NUCLEAR among them.

I love "It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World." For others of us, check out photos of Waialae Country Club's course in Honolulu, where golfers play near the Big W.


SidCaesar 11:49 AM  

no matter how old you are, you should know It’s A Mad... World. Classic. And Sid Caesar is fair game. If clues that pop up that are not in your wheelhouse, so be it. Expand your mind and learn new things. Don ’t complain about your own ignorance.

Mike 11:55 AM  

Let's take a moment to appreciate that Rex couldn't finish because he couldn't find the g-spot.

Raven Starkly 11:58 AM  

I found the elusive GSpot immediately. Yes, and I was uplifted by Rex's struggles, which gave me Rexdenfruede...

Whatsername 12:01 PM  

This was a perfectly nice puzzle but one of those days when I had kind of a non-reaction. Wouldn’t call it WOEFUL but it wasn’t WONDERFUL either. As Rex said, seemed like A BIT of a chore but I can’t really say why. I came here to read the review and comments to see whether others agreed or if I’m just being MICRO aggressive. Seems like a mixed reaction among the commentariat so I’ll say the KINDEST thing I can to this puzzle which is, “It’s not you it’s me.”

I’m on deck for my second shot next week. Here’s hoping every vaccine is as EFFECTIVE as promised and we are all soon FEASTING on the scent of the LILACS with the horrors of the past year behind us.

With AMITY to all as @bocamp would say.

sixtyni yogini 12:33 PM  

Thought it was clever, and enjoyed thinking about the opposites. Agree with objections to effete and effective as opposites,

As for yesterday’s debate. I sometimes get a little tired of the off-topic and even on-topic cross-talk, and often I just scroll down without reading any comments. Wish the format allowed for direct replies to comments rather than “@so and sos.” And am so saddened and alarmed by the rise of verbal and physical violence that I appreciate not having to read comments that fall into the rude or verbally abusive categories here.. So thanks, administrators,

On the other hand, I do appreciate and find it remarkable that Rex’s blog has evolved into a forum for discussion inspired by words and ideas in a crossword puzzle! ❤️😎❤️

My 2$ and sense cents.

Chip Hilton 12:34 PM  

A gynecologist whose last name starts with a G gives you trouble? Sez a lot.
I enjoyed this, in spite of roadblocks at YALU and TATAMI. Loved the OCTAVE clue. The only opposite pair that I questioned was EFFECTIVE and EFFETE. But overall, a fun Thursday.

Anonymous 12:43 PM  

A relatively easy roll through Thursday. After the first themer the rest were pretty easy.

SharonAK 12:48 PM  

@ Rex and several commenters re11D ???? file in means entering one at a time - the opposite of the clue.

I found this quite fun and appreciate that I learned a fuller and clearer meaning of the word"effete"

old timer 12:58 PM  

I got the trick immediately, for all the good it did me. WONDERFUL/WOEFUL and the others did not leap to mind, and some of the opposites aren't really, like CURS and COURTEOUS. To use crosswordese, you can ASK IN someone who comes to your door, and do so CURTly, but COURTEOUSly. And there are plenty of writers whom I regard as EFFETE, but they would never get hired by the Times or the New Yorker if they weren't EFFECSTIVE.

Nice to be reminded of the Nixon and Agnew years, though. Safire wrote that marvelous (and EFFECTIVE) Spiro trope, "EFFETE Nabobs of Negatavism." And in one of the great ironies of my life, while Nizon claimed he was not a crook, Agnew actually *was* a crook. Nixon had been accused of crooked dealings back in 1952. He lived an honest life as Vice-President, and then did what the best politiciansd learn to do: Monetize their political capital. Republican friends got him a very lucrative job in a New York law firm, making him the draw, the name partner. He would have died a rich man even if he had never been elected President.

Amd of course, those who do get elected can make millions off their memoirs, especially if their spouse also can write: Obamas, Clintons are the example here.

Masked and Anonymous 12:58 PM  

Wowzers … What a tough theme to come with six good [and symmetric(al)] examples for. Well done, A E-S. U clearly suffered.

staff weeject picks: PET & PAW & ARF.
Runt themer: (F) L (A) (T). M&A did not suffer a whole lot, dreamin that one up.

Puz wasn't fightin real hard, even tho it had one of them tricky/feisty theme mcguffins. FEASTING/FASTING & WONDERFUL/WOEFUL & COURTEOUS/CURT were pretty much gimmes. The rest of em were slightly harder, especially since I weren't totally sure exactly what EFFETE meant. Had three ?-marked clues. Had a paw-ful of names, but they were mostly known quantities, at our house. Especially since we just recently viewed "The Mandalorian". [p.s. Whoever voiced Baby Yoda got a mighty easy assignment.]
Neat wordplay theme, tho.


Thanx for the attractive opposites, Mr. Eaton-Salners dude.

Masked & Anonymo6Us


Mr. Cheese 1:08 PM  

If you lived through the Korean Conflict, Yalu is a gimme. It was mentioned in EVERY evening news broadcast.
If you weren’t around at that time there’s no reason for you to ever know it.

Anonymous 1:12 PM  

How could you get stumped on an area named for a gynecolgist whose last name begins with G?

Teedmn 1:21 PM  

This took me into Friday solving time, coming in at 14 minutes. I had a hard time getting started until GSPOT hit the spot. I wanted GO ballistic at 9D and started entering it but stopped with BA and crossed that off. OCTAVE took but a moment to figure out what that some where gap was, nice clue.

My biggest hold up was Era before EON. I didn't know we named EONs. I thought we were in the Anthropocene era but Phanerozoic, if you say so. I did the whole puzzle and came back up to the NW to finish - DCON to the rescue (ugh).

I hesitated in filling in EF__CTIVE because EFFETE was not saying ineffective to me. I looked it up afterwards and the online Dictionary, 2nd definition, was "no longer capable of effective action.
"the authority of an effete aristocracy began to dwindle" "

To me, that sample sentence begs the question and I don't agree that effete and effective are PURE opposites but, crossword logic rules.

CRAY - this should have been much more obvious to me - Seymour CRAY got his start in MN and Control Data Corp. was a huge deal here for a few decades.

Alex, your puzzles always keep me on my toes and this was no exception, thanks!

@Nancy, thank you for the link you sent me re: yesterday's puzzle. I will try to watch it this weekend.

bocamp 1:27 PM  

@Whatsername (12:01 PM)

ISUREwould: AMity! 🕊

Had a guest speaker give a presentation to my multi-cultural studies class. Her family hailed from India, and in response to a question, she explained that people from India are ARYAN and Caucasian.

Enjoyed Harvey KEITEL in "The Two Jakes".

TIE A Yellow Ribbon Round The Ole Oak Tree ~ Tony Orlando & Dawn

pg -2

Peace ~ Empathy ~ AMITY ~ Kindness to all 🕊

Frank 1:40 PM  

Found the G SPOT right away.

albatross shell 1:45 PM  

No problem with the EFF-words being opposites or with ARYAN being in the puzzle.

I thought the themers were fun to solve. A different solving experience. Not even anagrams. Looking for two words. One in the whole word and one in the circled letters. No more letter play than a normal crossword. Plural clue, 7 letter word H---X--. Second and 4th must be vowels, probably ends in ES. Oh HELIXES. Wordplay or letter play? A second word with opposite meaning in the circled letters? Wordplay or letter play?

The North half went in like a Monday. Below the Mason-Dixon the themers plus some ambiguous clues (the ones for TOT and BIT) plus some unknowns like CARY ENID, and the hard to parse SETAGOAL made things slower. At one point for 47A I had all the uncircled letters and none of the circled ones. Not very helpful.

Sometimes CURT is COURTEOUS. Excuse me, sir, I don't what to be a bother or or interrupt your dinner but I thought you might really want to know that your tablecloth is on fire. But not generally speaking.

ROEG was a great director. ROREM don't know, but NED was easy. Guessed USA off the U. And GSPOT off of nothing. The answers make the clue make sense in both cases. ARF PAW, TRY SPY pairs too. Oh, and GRAINY COARSE. Skip to ya LOU did not give me YALU, but I knew the singer. UP gave me YALU. ANIMOSITY gave me CRAY. L,T gave me NOLTE. TATAMI I knew the consonants and not the vowels. I spelled SID's last name with all the vowels wrong. I thought the EA might be reversed but the second A caught me by surprise.

Hartley70 1:51 PM  

I quite enjoyed this one. There was a fair BIT I couldn’t remember, SIDCAESAR, had to guess, GSPOT, or never knew, CRAY, who makes me think of the Brit gangster brothers. How have I never heard of the YALU? I would think it would be notable for a plethora of illegal crossings. I enjoyed dissing out the theme answers. Luckily WOEFUL was first and the easiest, EFFETE being my favorite. I found this an easy-medium since my time was faster than usual, but I was never bored and that’s a win.

Anonymous 1:55 PM  

Aww! Poor baby had some twubble. . . MUST have been bad clues!!. . . You want some cheese with that whine?

Mohair Sam 2:06 PM  

Different. Different is good in our tiny 15x15 world. Enjoyed it thoroughly. "Kangaroo Words", great term - thanks @Lewis.

@Spiro Agnew (7:25) - Yes! I remember your EFFETE quote well, thanks for the memory. But no VP will ever come close to your "Nattering Nabobs of Negativism" - great stuff.

@Barbara S (7:59) - Jung Chang's "Wild Swans" is an amazing book - one of my favorite reads ever.

@Rex - how can you possibly have a puzzle using an "Over the Rainbow" clue and not link to the Eva Cassidy music video? For shame.

OffTheGrid 2:22 PM  

I hope Anon 1:55 gets deleted.

Birchbark 2:22 PM  

@Newboy (11:27) -- I took your suggestion to read aloud Whitman's "Out of cradle endlessly rocking," so vivid that I felt part of the seashore here in Minnesota.

Unknown 2:36 PM  

That removing a jacket - it’’s on thing really stumped me!

Unknown 3:15 PM  

Rex's predictable rant made me appreciate the time off I've taken from reading his blog.
That he couldn't suss out the GSPOT made my day just that much sweeter.

albatross shell 3:18 PM  

You say you can beat me in horse (or one-on-one basketball)? IT'S ON! Or ping-pong.

Loved the clue for OCTAVE. I read to MyK, replied I don't get it. Sing it I say. Oh, OCTAVE? Now that is a clue.

Sandy McCroskey 3:27 PM  

This was ridiculously easy. The gimmick was immediately obvious and those answers weren't any harder than all the three-letter ones sprinkled about. I was amazed at Rex's rating.

DigitalDan 3:30 PM  

For once, I pretty much completely agree with Rex, although I found this one easy to medium, because for some reason I was able to see most of the antonyms pretty quickly. But "Oh, no, again?" was my primary reaction to each. It helped that I knew Seymour Cray as the founder of Control Data and later Cray Computer, one of the first "supercomputers" (with about the power of your wrist watch.) Also was around for Spiro Agnew, so "effete" was a particularly familiar part of his lexicon. I never did decode "It's on," so thanks Rex for that.

DigitalDan 3:46 PM  

@W and/or @DEEJAY: It's uncular to me why people insist on promulgating IKE's mispronunciation. Generally that choice is only applied to nuclear power, energy, weapons, etc., but not for instance to the nuclear family. I even heard Biden do it, I think.

@johnpag: You missed the funny part, Leo.

Anonymous 3:46 PM  

So, what you're trying to say is you had trouble finding the G-Spot.

Anonymous 4:01 PM  

I guess OFL isn't a true Boomer.

CRAY made those the fastest machines in two ways: as he said, "shorter wires" when asked why; and he built the machines as cylinders -

GSPOT was all the rage, so to speak, in the 80s, IIRC - let's see... "Coinage of the term G-spot has been credited to Addiego et al. in 1981" the wiki

kitshef 4:38 PM  

@unknown 10:11 Mostly what @Lewis 10:56 said, but I'll add to that select two or three (but no more) of the things you had no idea on and Google and them and read a lot more about them. If you do that with too many answers, it will get lost in the fuzz. But there is a lot of recycling that goes on in the NYT puzzle, and you will be surprised how quickly a word can go from "what on earth?" to "I think I've seen that before but would never have remembered it" to "not that again!".

Z 4:48 PM  

@TTrimble, @Sir Hillary, @mathgent & @ Ethan Taliesin - EFFETE seems to be evolving in real time and needing to look it up led me to a lot of interesting info. First, that it comes from “no longer able to have children” - Latin effētus, worn out, exhausted : ex-, ex- + fētus, bearing young, pregnant - American Heritage (Merriam-Webster agrees). So it seems to have always had some sort of effeminate subtext. But then looking just at American Heritage’s first definition none of that “effeminate” sense is conveyed. Nor does that first definition convey any sense of being “ineffective.” It seems to me that the “effeminate” usage predominates now, although I really doubt that the people I hear using it this way have any interest in the etymology. Anyway... fascinating stuff.

@Digital Dan - As much as I dislike W, it’s not at all clear that it is even a real “mispronunciation.” From Merriam-Webster:

How do you pronounce nuclear?: Usage Guide
Though disapproved of by many, pronunciations ending in \-kyə-lər\ have been found in widespread use among educated speakers including scientists, lawyers, professors, congressmen, U.S. cabinet members, and at least two U.S. presidents and one vice president. While most common in the U.S., these pronunciations have also been heard from British and Canadian speakers.

All the G-SPOT chortlers - It was funny once. It would be funnier still if the existence of the G-SPOT were not doubtful. Specifically, researchers haven’t been able to prove that it actually exists. It seems they haven’t been able to disprove it exists, either, so we keep searching. What I couldn’t find is anywhere accepting volunteers to help with the search...

Z 4:57 PM  

@Unknown newer solver - I would add that it is okay to step away for awhile before resorting to Uncle Google. It’s very common to use the 11th definition of a simple word in a clue. Even now, getting up to refill my coffee on a Saturday morning unlocks a clue, where I am locked on one reading of a clue, refill my coffee and suddenly the “letter” isn’t something that comes in the mail, it’s the person who lets a room. I don’t set the Saturday puzzle aside for a day anymore, but I used to. For whatever reason, answers I figure out are remembered better than answers I look up, so Uncle Google is a last resort.

Bax'N'Nex 5:02 PM  

Don’t worry, Mike...I miss the GSPOT all the time!

Anonymous 5:34 PM  

Very few of us were adults at the time of the Korean War, so YALU would generally come from reading about the Korean War, which a person of any age could do.

I remember reading about the air war in Korea - US jets could pursue Chinese jets northward, but had to turn back when the Chinese jets reached the Yalu River.

Bruce Fieggen 5:54 PM  

@ Unknown 10:11. I’m also relatively new and was in your position a couple of years ago. I whipped through Mon - Wed and gave up part way through the tougher days. What helped me was selective ‘cheating’. If the clue called for someone or some place I didn’t know, I would look it up. But never on a crossword site and sometimes I had to use the ‘-crossword’ Boolean search term to strip out the answer. I would then take a few minutes to learn about that person or place to justify the cheating and add it to my memory.
The other thing I learned was the Rebus usage that appears on many Thursday puzzles so watch out for that.
Now I can mostly solve puzzles without looking up answers so the learning curve can’t be that steep.
Good luck and keep plugging away. It’s not cheating if you learned something.

Meghan 6:10 PM  

My 115 day streak is over. Hated it and thought the PPP was completely unreasonable.

Ingrid 6:37 PM  

Respect for the Lightning Seeds video! Blast from the past. I remember seeing them open for someone— Camper Van Beethoven, possibly.

Lewis 6:54 PM  

@Mohair Sam -- I second your ecstasy over Eva Cassidy's "Over The Rainbow".

Monty Boy 7:34 PM  

I liked this one a lot. Non-musician me, I was thrilled to get 12D with one cross - NOLTE - not the spot. I got through with no lookups, but a few confirmations on spelling and educated guesses. Biggest glitch was holding on to blurry way too long. GRAINY is a good answer too.

@unknown 10:11 - good advice above. One thing that helps me it to set "reasonable" goals for getting Uncle Google's help. Mine are: No lookups M/Tu, 2 or 3 Su/W/Th and unlimited F/S. I'm to the place now where I routinely meet my goals. Most F/S now I'm in the 3 or 4 range. My times are well above most reported here, but for me, speed isn't the goal, rather enjoyment.

Anonymous 7:54 PM  

@Z researchers may not be able to prove a G Spot exists, but I found mine, not easily, but I found it. It is a weird sensation. Pleasurable but in a painful way. I assure you, it exists.

pabloinnh 8:05 PM  

@Lewis, and other "Rainbow" lovers--

have to give a shout out to Israel Kamakawiwo'ole (Iz, or Izzy) and his version, which is a mashup with "Wonderful World". Youtube+Izzy+Rainbow will get you there.

If it doesn't make you smile, you are smileproof.

Graham 8:08 PM  

No mention of the proper nouns, Rex? Those were the toughest part for. I get it, I’m 30. The puzzle often doesn’t care about us. But still. Yeesh. No way I was ever getting Sid Caesar.

Lewis 8:59 PM  

@pabloinnh -- Oh, yes. I have loved Brother Iz's version as well for many years. Thank you for the reminder!

Harold Arlen 10:30 PM  

I'm so glad I put all that care and effort and musical knowledge into composing "Somewhere Over The Rainbow" so that Eva Cassidy could "make it her own" by changing all but 12 notes.

Sassy 12:00 AM  

@Harold A If this were what you wrote you might have a legitimate beef, but it isn't, and you don't.

JMS 1:14 AM  

Yesh, g-spot was one of the easier clues/answers in the puzzle, no?

JMS 1:16 AM  

Oh, and Cray, a Wisconsin born computer company. Always good to see the home state in a puzzle, no matter how indirect.

Harry 2:28 AM  

One of my better Thursdays. I enjoyed the wordplay. Cluing made the grid a steady push; satisfaction upon completion.

I'm sadly gratified that even Rex can get fixated upon an initial take on a partially filled answer. My biggest challenge, when I find myself in a rut, is prodding myself to reframe my solving perspective.

Anonymous 8:35 AM  

Rex, when you get your second vaccine shot, after the shot move your arm around for ten or fifteen minutes. It gets the serum moving on through your body and you won't have any pain. I learned this years ago, getting shots for moving around the country with my Army dad. Works like a charm.

Anonymous 10:26 PM  

Finished my very first Thursday puzzle. A milestone for me. Yahoo. And I actually enjoyed the opposite of circle clues. Go figure.

wooody2004 3:21 AM  

The corners spell out PITY,and I pity the fool who doesn't award DOD to CANDYBARr in recognition of her WONDERFUL PRURIENT TALENTS.

I'm sorry. I TIEDONEON.

spacecraft 10:42 AM  

Yeah, that ____CLEAR thing in the NE had me up the walls too. I figured the "area" in 9-across was either on a heavenly body--or on an Earthly one. When the aha! finally hit--moments before I was gonna throw in the towel--it was really a headslap. GSPOT! Oh SURE! And then at last GONUCLEAR, what a parse that was! Mere moments, I tell you. Never been closer to quitting.

I agree that the cluing on the themers was less than helpful, but was it unfair? I was able to work them out, so maybe not. I will take @Woody's word for it on the CANDYBAR[R] DOD deal. Hard for a Thursday, but I'm not the world's biggest circles fan. Par.

Michael Fleming 10:51 AM  

Since I spent a number of years working as the primary trademark lawyer for the CRAY®️ Supercomputer company (Cray, Inc.), that one was pretty easy for me. The company is now gone, but the family still can be found in Chippewa Falls, WI, the alleged home of Annie Hall as well! (And Leinenkugel beer too!)

Burma Shave 11:36 AM  


The KINDEST thing OLE did was to PET her GSPOT.


thefogman 1:57 PM  

So Rex couldn’t find the GSPOT eh? Quick Burma! Send him the map...

EightAndEight 2:44 PM  

To old timer: it was "Effete Snobs" and "Nattering Nabobs of Negativism". 52 years ago, and yet I still remember it from the "Laugh-in" parody.

leftcoaster 2:49 PM  

Clever use of the opposing, overlaid themers, all six of them.

As with others, had some trouble locating the GSPOT; still thinking about “removing a jacket” before IT'S ON !

Like the puzzle a lot.

rondo 3:47 PM  

With a clue like that GSPOT was a gimme, no hesitation. Not a difficult puz but took time due to no particular help from theme clues.

Durante from . . . Mad World recently. SIDCAESER today. Who's next? Lotsa choices.

Mary LOU Wm.s probably not enough recognized by many for her work.

Yup, the corners are a PITY.

Better than a rebus.

Anonymous 4:39 PM  

I thought it was bad also. So I looked it up in the dictionary, and one of the definitions was:no longer effective.
Who knew?

Diana, LIW 5:39 PM  

Argh! I grew up with my mom's grandparents either in the house or 2 houses away. They spoke Finnish to each other, but not to me. I had to GUESS the USA from crosses. I wish they had taught me more that "what?" and a few phrases.

For once the Thursday trick actually helped me with the solve. So "phew" for a Thursday.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

leftcoaster 8:11 PM  

@Diana -- My mother spoke Finnish, mainly on the phone, to my grandmother, and I learned but two words of it. I think they were “mita” and “yo”. Right?

Diana, LIW 8:40 PM  

@Lefty - Mita? Mita? My grandfather said this to Grandma all day long in a voice of astonishment - you're going to do what???? I also know, "Hurry up and BIN EN TALLA!" which is answered by "don't be such a hatta hosua" Loosely - hurry up and shake a leg, and gma answered don't be such a hurry pants. (Or the English idiom, keep your pants on.) They even took me to Finnish (all day) church services, where I could read along in the song book but not know a word I was singing.

Oh yes - "Howska yoluwa unt anna lisa hoota vawta" - badly spelled, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. Try it out on your mom if she's still around. My g-parents spoke "around" me all day long and I didn't learn a thing. What a loss!!!!

Lady Di

leftcoaster 9:38 PM  

@Diana -- Yes, a true loss, as was my mother and her bi-lingual and many other abilities.

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