Movable aerial platform / THU. 5-20-21 / Entertainer once known as Queen of Las Vegas / Germanic language of the 8th-12th centuries / Yossarian's tentmate in Catch-22 / The 500s in Dewey Decimal System / She played Nicole Chapman on Fame / Tea party crasher of fiction

Thursday, May 20, 2021

Constructor: Trenton Charlson

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: "SIX FEET / UNDER" (29A: With 38-Across, Emmy-winning HBO drama whose name suggests this puzzle's theme) — you have to imagine six "FT"s running off the bottom (i.e., under) the grid:

Theme answers:
  • IF YOU CATCH MY DRI(FT) (3D: "... know what I'm saying?")
  • PARTING GI(FT) (34D: Game show loser's prize)
  • EYES LE(FT) (46D: Drill command)
  • SEMISO(FT) (47D: Like havarti or Muenster)
  • SCISSOR LI(FT) (36D: Movable aerial platform)
  • WILLIAM HOWARD TA(FT) (11D: Who said "Presidents come and go, but the Supreme Court goes on forever")
Word of the Day: SCISSOR LIFT (36D) —
An aerial work platform (AWP), also known as an aerial deviceelevating work platform (EWP)cherry pickerbucket truck or mobile elevating work platform (MEWP) is a mechanical device used to provide temporary access for people or equipment to inaccessible areas, usually at height. There are distinct types of mechanized access platforms and the individual types may also be known as a "cherry picker" or "scissor lift." (wikipedia) (my emph.)
• • •

This probably seems like a clever idea in conception, and I suppose it is, but from this solver's perspective it was a fat lot of anticlimax. I got the gag within the first few answers I put in the grid, and then it was just a matter of dutifully finding the remaining "feet" and also seeing if maybe possibly something besides the theme might be of interest. Opened like this: ENID (gimme), DEANS LIFE INCA MAYA ELMER'S IF YOU ... At that point I wanted IF YOU CATCH MY DRIFT, but it didn't fit, so I did a little more work: NIAPEOPLES EPONYMS REUSE ALTA PAP NIAPEEPLES SEC, at which point IF YOU CATCH MY DRIFT was obviously going to be right. Saw that the extra bit, "FT," was a coherent unit of meaning (i.e. short for "foot"), and that was that. Instantly knew "six feet underground" was the concept, and that I'd be tracking down five more of these "FT"s. This is all before I'd even looked at the revealer clue, which was now phenomenally unnecessary and unrevelatory. So the idea here is cool, but it just didn't play out with much "aha" force. Uncovering the "FT" answers was ... interesting. They're definitely the most unusual answers in the grid. But the magic just missed me on this one. 

The fill gets ugliest in the "FT' sections. BRYN BSA AARGH RIIS EHS is a mess, as is SCI LES ESO. The SCI LES ESO part was especially obnoxious as all of those had trying-too-hard-to-be-clever clues, and the short Down running through them had a fake-out clue: I had SEAMY and off the "A" I looked at 54D: Super-duper (ACESand reflexively wrote in A-ONE. That's the kind of seems-intentional "trap" that gives no delight because the answers involved aren't interesting enough, and the section it appears in is already a mess of short stuff (not the place you want people stopping and noticing their surroundings). I feel bad for anyone who tried to figure out that part of the grid without knowing the theme. Messy. But the only other thing that slowed me down at all today is SCISSOR LIFT, which, really, marginal technical stuff like this is not what you want in your theme answers. I got it, eventually, but had no idea what it was. Couldn't even picture it. I assumed "aerial" meant what "aerial" usually means ("in the sky"), but that's not right. When I typed "define SCISSOR LIFT" into google, I didn't get any dictionary entries at all. Eventually found a wikipedia entry for "aerial work platform" (AWP) (see "Word of the Day," above, and please don't put AWP in a grid, thank you), and buried inside the first paragraph of that entry was the term SCISSOR LIFT. When you're building your theme, amassing what will be your marquee answers, you don't want to settle for "defensible" or "technically a thing." This leads to digruntlement on the part of the solver. 

NIA PEEPLES and LOLA FALANA headline this puzzle, which is maybe the most interesting thing about it (2D: She played Nicole Chapman on "Fame" / 12D: Entertainer once known as the Queen of Las Vegas). I don't know how anyone under 40 knows who LOLA FALANA is, since her career doesn't seem to have had much of a cultural afterlife. But then I guess a lot of solvers wouldn't know NIA PEEPLES either if not for crosswords. Still, they're both legit famous, or were, and I like their symmetrical flair here. I also like, nay, love, SPY SWAP (47A: Cover Cold War deal). Love "Clueless" but don't know the name ELISA Donovan (I'd bet money I've seen in multiple times in crosswords, as it's so crossword-friendly and there are few if any other famous or semifamous ELISAs; she's just not famous enough for the name to stick. Though ... maybe this time!) (50A: Actress Donovan of "Clueless"). ASH TREE was also unknown to me. I guess I should just be grateful I didn't run into YGGDRASIL instead. OLD SAXON (6D: Germanic language of the 8th-12th centuries) is like SCISSOR LIFT in that I'm sure it's technically a thing but come on, give your solvers something more delightful than technically a thing. Good day.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Conrad 6:33 AM  

Back when I was a kid solving puzzles from dime-store books, a common clue was "Man's name" or "Woman's name". The answer could be just about anything as long as somebody somewhere was named that. To me, a clue like 50A, the "Clueless" woman, is pretty much that, only with a little more meaningless specificity.

Z 6:40 AM  

Okay. Maybe seeing “Seat of Oklahoma’s Garfield County” and throwing down ENID without even blinking is maybe, just maybe, a sign that I do too many crosswords. To Rex’s point, ELISA Donovan probably has a home there, or maybe Edina, MN or Orono, ME.

I didn’t get the theme concept as quickly as Rex, but it didn’t quite land for me, either. That’s not to say I think it is bad, it’s perfectly fine. It just didn’t make me smile, much. Maybe because Rex’s observation about NIA PEEPLES and LOLA FALANA is accurate and you all know my PPP feelings.

I do like the morbid humor of PARTING GI(FT) being part of this funereal elegy. There also a certain humor to WILLIAM HOWARD TA(FT) not fitting in the grid. But the other themers leave me a bit cold.

I’m wondering why Rex included “define” in his google search. I don’t know about the rest of you, but a definition or wikipedia link is usually one of my top hits when i put a term like that in. For SCISSOR LI(FT) I got images on top, so an “oh those things” would have been my first reaction. Then a page and a half of rentals or places I could buy a SCISSOR LI(FT), before getting to the Wikipedia article Rex cites. But the images were enough for me.

Doing a day trip with the in-laws, today. But don’t worry, I’ll be back. 😉

Lewis 6:41 AM  

Epic Thursday for me. Tons I didn’t know. A very tricky gimmick to crack. Feints galore.

This drew me in and kept me plugging. I’d leave an area, return later to get a ping of discovery. I kept getting batted all over, yet, seemingly at a glacial pace, closed in. Even after getting the reveal, the gimmick still eluded me – and credit to Will, as it feels like a long time since we’ve had an out-of-the-box puzzle. Huge aha at finally seeing it.

Brilliant and memorable. Classic. Fantastic experience. Kudos, you sly master Trenton. Thank you, sir, for this!

Sarah 6:45 AM  

Can someone explain LION to me?

JJK 6:57 AM  

A horrible collection of obscure proper names.

sf27shirley 7:20 AM  

Someone who is tops in their field, such as a literary lion.

Anonymous 7:25 AM  

Old Saxon is most definitely a thing, Rex. It was part of my coursework in Germanic philology. Not on everyone’s radar, admittedly, but no more arcane than some of the rappers who crop up in puzzles to those who do not listen to rap.

kitshef 7:27 AM  

I found this very difficult. Start with IF YOU GET MY DRIFT, which fit perfectly and had ‘ft’ at the bottom and so seemed to fit the theme. It took a long time to let that go, and once I did I still had IF YOU __T__MYDRI and could not come up with ‘catch’. I’m going to claim with no proof that ‘get’ is one million times more common than ‘catch’.

Then there were a load of unknown or barely known people’s names: ELISA, ORR, NIA PEEPLES(??) were the worst. Misremembered ELLA as EmmA, which messed up any chance at LOLA until late in the game.

There is an awful lot of seamy fill … AAS, SEC, SML(!), ALTA, SCI, LES, ESO, ADA, BSA, YRS, ETS, ICU, SFPD, III, EER, GST, FYI. Did we pass a law against having words in our crosswords?

Emilie 7:29 AM  

Scissor lifts are common in industrial settings. To me much more mainstream than Nia Peeples or Lola Falana

Brett 7:35 AM  

Six Feet Underground? I think Rex has that wrong. It is Six Feet Under, one of HBO's best shows ever.

OffTheGrid 7:37 AM  

I just liked this a lot. Things fell into place bit by bit. Got SIXFEETUNDER and then IFYOUCATCHMYDRIFT with FT under the lower puzzle boundary. OK then, 5 more of these to figure out. It was fun. And SCISSORLIFTs are all over the place, Rex.

amyyanni 7:43 AM  

Didn't love it.

Son Volt 7:44 AM  

Liked this one for the most part - the concept at least. Lots of trivia and the grid resulted in so much short fill it became a little tedious. Actually got the trick with IF YOU CATCH MY DRIFT - and it helped with the other themers. No idea on some of the names here - crosses were fair.

Really like the concept of the sacred tree so Yggdrasil was welcome - thought it commands more than just ASH TREE as a descriptor. If I remember LOLA FALANA used to guest on Love Boat back in the day - surprised Rex didn’t highlight that. Liked the TETE clue.

Love the Jason link to go with a fairly enjoyable Thursday solve.

bocamp 7:52 AM  

Thx Trenton for this very crunchy, challenging Thurs. puz! Relished the battle. :)

Tough solve.

Took forever the grok the theme and its application. That and not being on the constructor's wavelength, made for a very interesting adventure.

Thx to fair crosses, was able to get it right, which surprised and delighted me.

yd pg -1

Peace ~ Empathy ~ Kindness to all 🕊

Paul 7:58 AM  

What Lewis said! This puzzle gave me one of the most satisfying solving experiences I’ve had in a long time. I can see how one might have missed that if they knew too many of the obscure names and other references.
SCISSOR LIFT is absolutely fair game. This is a tool all of us have walked passed a hundred times. Whether or not you know it’s name is predictive of whether you have callouses on your hands. Giving a pass to Norse mythology while flagging this working class stuff shows the weakness of certain preconceived ideas about diversity and inclusion.

Anonymous 8:00 AM  

Lion of the xyz

Anonymous 8:03 AM  

I found this Thursday basically impossible. Sorry I'm not old enough to know NIA PEEPLES. And with answers like AARGH and SML, it's hard to get niche fill like BSA and LOLA FALANA. The NYT should be ashamed!

Anonymous 8:08 AM  

Kind of liked CO(R)PSE being planted between the revealer...

Whitey 8:13 AM  

“A literary lion,” as in a titan, an outstanding figure.

pabloinnh 8:16 AM  

This was going nowhere so I went out for a "run" meaning I went a certain distance without walking, and got back and saw IFYOUCATCHMYDRI(FT), and was treated to a major AHA!, since I already had SIXFEETUNDER and now knew what the gimmick was. Thought this was an elegant Thursday gimmick and just what I'm looking for on this day. Yay.

Lots of PPP I didn't know and considered ASHTRAY for 44A but thought that unlikely, if amusing. The M of GMT blocked STIFF forever, ATEASE fits nicely for EYESLE(FT), and USE is far more common than PLY so some slowdowns but these just made the actual real answers more fun.

OFL got the theme right away, which I did not, but I know wat a SCISORLIFT is. Take that.

Great Thursday, TC. Was sorry when it was done. Needed my Thinking Cap.

Joe Welling 8:21 AM  

Sarah said...
"Can someone explain LION to me?"

I'd rather explain how to use a dictionary to you. In Merriam Webster, this is meaning 2B.

Anonymous 8:25 AM  

SCISSORLIFT is pretty common, and if it is ok to pepper the puzzles with musical theater and movie arcana, then including a few real-world technical words for the rest of us is ok too.

Anonymous 8:25 AM  

If u don’t watch HBO , and didn’t watch FAME, I don’t know how you can get anywhere here.
Too specialized for me.Clever, but not fun,sorry.

Ray Yuen 8:31 AM  

Being non-American again bites me in the butt. I look at the comments and see most people think this is an easy grid, slapping in Enid without a blink.

It took me many blinks, some head scratching, and maybe even some banging before I got it. Yes, doing crosswords for decades maybe should have put it into memory, but why? I know Enid well, it all its oddball cluing, but I don't think I'll ever be able to plop it down without a thought. That's like me cluing "Old dam town" and people plopping in "Pinawa" without a thought.

Couple that with Howard, and suddenly, this becomes a tough grid. I broke the theme early and managed William BLANK Ta[ft]. Am I supposed to know the middle name of an obscure American president? Not fun.

I know. I know these puzzles are American made, and made mostly for an American audience--but please, I beseech the constructors and editors, can we cut down on the senators, counties, vice presidents, colleges and jerkwater towns? It took me years to bring "Bryn," "Ocala" and "Dade" to remembrance. Adding to that list provides no joy.

Twangster 8:32 AM  

I also found this insanely difficult, and ended up looking at the answers. Mixing up NIAPEEPLES with ANNPEEBLES didn't help.

JonB3 8:33 AM  

For us chemists, a lab jack is a mini scissor lift. Amazon sells it as "Stainless Steel Lab Jack Scissor Stand Platform".

Unknown 8:39 AM  

Loved the theme, hated the obscure names.

SouthsideJohnny 8:41 AM  

I feel like Bobby ORR got cheated out of an appearance today (we must be drifting into mid or late-week). The theme was clever, but somewhat cryptic as well. Unfortunately, it also relies on the solver’s (presumed) familiarity with what I am guessing is a television show - which is fine, just nudges us toward trivia-quiz territory (which of course is not unfamiliar territory for Shortz and Company).

I do really enjoy OFL sometimes - he solves the puzzle in like what, 4 minutes and still goes on about things that lead to “digruntlement on the part of the solver - OMG, how do you think I feel ? ENID is a gimme for him - I rarely have a chance with those “seat of so-and-so county” clues, let alone B-list actors from a half-century ago.

albatross shell 8:54 AM  

Always enjoy them sacred trees. Now that Ygg-word means something to me.

Gee, I fell into that maybe intentional trap of putting in slimY off the S at 54D.

My paternal side came to America from the Saxon cities of Transylvania. SAXON was a gimmie and was none to surprised by the OLD since SAXON is the old word for German. Then there is Anglo-SAXON too. So kind of delightful and non-technical here.

I too put in ENID right away.

Charles Grodin played ORR in the Nichol's movie vers of Catch 22. He just died.

I needed to look up two actresses to get done. One nice thing about PPP is they are often easy cheats. I did not need to look up Jacob RIIS this time.

When WILLIAM HOWARD TAFT didn't fit I was looking for WILLIAM O. DOUGLAS. But it did not sound like him. But I wish he could have gone on forever.

Jennielap 9:07 AM  

Can we all take a moment to remember the brilliance that was Six Feet Under? Right up there with Breaking Bad as my top TV series of all time. Seeing it mentioned, even in this crazy-hard puzzle (Whats a scissor lift? Lola Who?) sparked joy.

Greater Fall River Committee for Peace & Justice 9:07 AM  

I had a friend who was a medieval scholar, who died about the same time as my last dog. She left no children or siblings, so I was cleaning out her house at the same time I got my current dog, who was in need of a name. I spotted a book about Norse folklore in her pile of books that had a bookmark in it, and on a whim I said to myself 'I will name the new dog whatever is bookmarked here!' It turned out to be Yggdrasil. I couldn't do that to the happy bouncy puppy, who became Orion. But before rejecting the name I read enough to know it was an ASHTREE.

Birchbark 9:12 AM  

IF YOU get MY DRIFT fits within the grid, but you can't have five feet under and one sticking out of the ground. And it makes "Yggdrasil" into an ASyTREE, which of course is the OLD SAXON word for ENID.

@Pabloinnh (8:16) -- You and I run alike.

57stratocaster 9:14 AM  

Since it's Thursday, I, of course, rebus'd the six FTs into the bottom row of squares. That didn't give me the success screen, so I took out the rebuses and got success. So I'm sitting there with success AND an a grid with six incomplete down answers. Not good design, IMO.

Laura 9:17 AM  

Googling proves nothing. Google knows you don't have callouses on your hand. Scissor lift comes right up for me..offers for rental. I found the revealer delightful once I figured it out. Quite stumped until then. Great puzzle for me though the dreck in the lower left was tricky for me, and not as rewarding. But there is no such thing as trying too hard to be clever. Just too little on many days.

Barbara S. 9:17 AM  

I found this difficult and enjoyable – really, the best possible combination. Was ENID really a gimme for everybody?? I had no clue and ended up in that NW corner trying to make “do YOU CATCH MY DRI(FT)” fit. It wasn’t a pretty way to finish the solve.

But, closer to the beginning, I got the revealer before any of the themers (fantastic show, with one of the best final episodes of any series) and, not having yet reached the lower part of the grid, knew I still had to suss out exactly how it these FEET were going to work. I made a pair of errors in the SW which made that more difficult than it had to be. I know perfectly well that Yggdrasil is the Norse sacred tree but had temporary amnesia and filled in “serpent”. That meant that “Drill command” started with T so I confidently put in “tenhut”. AARGH! What saved me was knowing that the Nabokov novel was ADA (I’d somehow missed that clue before the serpent fiasco) and seeing that Yggdrasil had to start with A, I had my ASH TREE revelation. YAY!

Once some letters were filled in, I remembered LOLA FALANA from what seems like ages ago – 1960s? 1970s? I recognized the name of the actress NIA PEEPLES (again, once I had some letters), but not from “Fame,” which dates back to the ’80, but rather from “Pretty Little Liars” which finished in 2017. (Hmm, should I admit publicly to watching that?) I’ve always thought her last name was a delightful new way to spell an old familiar word.

The excerpts today are by JOHN STUART MILL, born May 20, 1806.

“He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that. His reasons may be good, and no one may have been able to refute them. But if he is equally unable to refute the reasons on the opposite side, if he does not so much as know what they are, he has no ground for preferring either opinion... Nor is it enough that he should hear the opinions of adversaries from his own teachers, presented as they state them, and accompanied by what they offer as refutations. He must be able to hear them from persons who actually believe them...he must know them in their most plausible and persuasive form.”
“The peculiar evil of silencing the expression of an opinion is that it is robbing the human race, posterity as well as the existing generation, those who dissent from the opinion, still more than those who hold it. If the opinion is right, they are deprived of the opportunity of exchanging error for truth: if wrong, they lose, what is almost as great a benefit, the clearer perception and livelier impression of truth, produced by its collision with error.”
(Both from On Liberty)

albatross shell 9:18 AM  

0ops. 53A not 54D.

Nancy 9:19 AM  

I did not know any of these bleeping people!!! My EHS (for complete bafflement) and my AARGHs (for total frustration) in one long, very loud DECRY of this sadistic (EPONYM of the Marquis de Sade) PPP-riddled puzzle that I must have been SO-- in the head to finish echoed SIX FEET UNDER and alarmed my downstairs neighbors.

But I did finish -- though I was tempted to stop almost before I started. And I was rewarded for my pains -- oh, such pains!!!! -- with a brilliant and fiendish theme. I would have deprived myself of a huge "Aha Moment" had I stopped early. But, boy, did I ever want to.

Trenton -- why, why, why do you come up with such an inspired, devious theme only to ruin it with every unknown name and arbitrary piece of arcane information you can possibly stuff into it? AARGH again! Great trick; horrible, horrible fill. So horrible that I nearly ducked out long before seeing the great trick.

Blue Stater 9:22 AM  


Ann 9:28 AM  

YES! to William O.Douglas.

Frantic Sloth 9:29 AM  

from yesterday
@Whatsername I'm sure I've seen it streaming somewhere of late...I'll see if I can find it.
@kitshef Another beauty! And what a close call to make it back just in time - yikes!

Well this has been an improvement over the recent Thursdees. Might even win me back as a fan...we'll see.

Took WILLIAMHIWARDTA(FT) and PARTINGGI(FT) to figure out the theme and the revealer which was a lot of fun! The rest of the puzzle flew, but not too fast for me to appreciate the shtick.

Didn't know what a SCISSORLIFT was by name, but I recognized them when Googled. Yay me.

MOIST is one of those words that give me the oogies. 👀

ORZO in minestrone? No! Ditalini is the only way to go!


Eddie 9:38 AM  


Anonymous 9:38 AM  

There is no way on God's green Earth that Rex hasn't seen a scissor lift. No way. They are standard in every big box store in North America. For all I know they're an OSHA requirement. But because Rex has no interest in anything mechanical it never registered. Anyone who's read Rex for any length of time knows that his ignorance of tools, mechanical objects, or the processes by which mechanical systems work--plumbing, heating, gear reduction etc.--is profound. This (enormous and enormously important) part of the world is simply a void for him. All of which would be fine, but his ignoarnce bleeds into his criticism. So often, today for instance, he builds his complaints on the rhetorical technique called an appeal to ignorance. That's the term for saying "is this true? Who could say". That's what he's doing when he says that scissor lift is defensible or technically a thing. But of course scissor lift isn't just "technically" a thing as he derisively sniffs, it's a common thing. Who cares you say?
Well, I do. And I suspect others do too. It smacks of smugness to think your ken is the benchmark. And Rex does that explicitly at the end of his philippic against scissor lift when he declares that it "leads to disgruntlement on the part of the solver. " It didn't lead me to disgruntlement. And of the posts I've seen so far, it doesn't appear to have led others there either. So his chief complaint is really pouting about something I say he should know. Maybe not off the top of his head, but, upon reflection, say " oh yeah, I have seen things. Hmm, my mistake."

Michael Page 9:40 AM  

I’m with Jennielap, Six Feet Under was genius. Best thing was the show opener noir humor death each episode, my all time favorite was the woman who cooks breakfast for her hideous droning bore of a husband, and then whacks him in the back of the head with the iron skillet. I also got thrown by get/catch my drift; started with the neatly fitting GET, then thought the theme was somehow that the last letters DRIFTED off to the side somehow. Good theme, bad fill. And who (other than Rex) hasn’t heard of a scissors lift? Gotta stop bashing answers just because they hit your personal blind spots.

Karl Grouch 9:40 AM  

Completely footless

Carola 9:45 AM  

Me, too, for:
- Liking it a lot, finding it just tough enough, and catching on to the theme (appropriately) at IF YOU CATCH MY DRIFT.
- Being clueless about NIA, LOLA, ELLA, and ELISA but knowing if it's 4 letters and Oklahoma, it's ENID.
Help from reading the Arts section: SIX FEET UNDER. Help from previous puzzles: FIONA. Help from grad school: OLD SAXON. Do-over: SEedY.

@Anonymous 8:08 - I like your CO(R)PSE!

@M&A - I can imagine you might ask "No U?" We've got TAFT, LEFT, LIFT, GIFT, DRIFT, and SOFT....but ?!!!

Hungry Mother 9:50 AM  

This one took me a crazy amount of time, but I got it done. SIXFEETUNDER was a favorite around our house, and then “Dexter.” I thought rebus for a while and then just went with the hidden additions. I struggled with many of the names, even more than usual. ELLA was EdnA and then ELnA.

jberg 9:51 AM  

@Barbara, I'm glad I'm not the only one to confuse the ASH TREE with the serpent (who, I've just learned, is named Jorgmuganndr--coming soon to puzzle-land. I think we did have YGGDRASIL as an answer recently.) Fortunately, the crosses didn't work, so I left it out.

As for ENID, I think a more complete explanation is appropriate. No one outside of Oklahoma knows that it is the seat of Garfield County, or even that said county exists. But if you've been solving for a period of time, you know that ENID is the only 4-letter crossworthy town in the state. The only reason I did not pop it right in is that I was thinking Scotch instead of ELMER'S. Ultimately, I filled in the entire right and center of the puzzle before I got anything in that left column; and if I had put anything in, it would have been MoSsY, making things even worse.

I'd never heard of the TV show, but once I had the S and the U, it had to be SIX FEET UNDER, confirmed by OLD SAXON. Then I had WILLIAM HOWARD, so it had to be TAFT, and that was too long to put an FT rebus at the end. So I put an AFT rebus, soon followed by an OFT rebus for SEMISOFT. I figured the extra letters were going to spell something out; but then I saw that 67A was going to be RIAL, and the scales fell from my eyes. (That stuff about the shrine is another example of the Garfield County phenomenon -- fascinating detail that makes you think you don't know the answer, when actually you do.)

I too wanted you to 'get' my drift, but eventually I caught on.

Speaking of SPY SWAP, if you haven't seen Bridge of Spies yet, you should.

egsforbreakfast 10:01 AM  

I don’t know if it was a good idea for JR. to have a son (III) while still in school (JR. And Sr. YRS). And why is it, now that I think about it, that a daughter with the same name as her mother isn’t a JR?

I fondly remember Rex’s show Six Feet Underground, and enjoyed it almost as much as I’m currently liking the Under Railroad production on Amazon Video.

Very nice puzzle. Thanks Trenton Charleston.

Joaquin 10:02 AM  

I thought this puzzle was ACES. And Rex's joy of living must be SIX FEET UNDER.

Anonymous 10:14 AM  

Wow I had such a hard time with this puzzle. As a 30 year old crossword puzzler, I couldn't believe how many answers I just didn't know. Maybe it's a sign I don't do enough puzzles, but cmon- Nia Peeples? Lola Falana? I haven't even SEEN the movie Clueless or the show Fame. ORR, SEAMY, EYESLE(FT), ORZO (I have NEVER had minestrone with orzo)...this was such a struggle.

Side note: as a younger solver, it annoys me that Rex always hammers on more current answers, but then won't rail against answers like these which are just as exclusionary as new-fangled answers are for older solvers not hip to the times. Even ALTA Vista..what is this 2002?

MarthaCatherine 10:16 AM  

Like many others, I had GmT for 23D, which gave me mTIFF for 27A, which made me think there should be some kind of rebus in the word, which kept me from finding the standard theme answer for a nano second cuz I thought there might be stuff sticking out of the right side of the puzzle as well as the bottom.

Knew Lola Falana cuz my brother, at about age 12, decided she was the most beautiful and exotic woman on the planet. She was his benchmark for beauty until he was at least 13.

Loved loved loved the clue for 43A.

Nancy 10:18 AM  

Let me add my voice to those praising SIX FEET UNDER as one of the great, if not the greatest TV series of all time. Now you all know me well enough to know how eager I am to avoid everything ghoulish, macabre, scary and dark. So why did I so love this show-- which is certainly two of those things, ghoulish and dark? Because it's also wildly, inventively funny and the most completely original series ever produced on TV. It is also terrific at making you care about its main protagonists. If you missed it the first time around, go find it if you can: it's better than 95% of what's being done on Netflix now.

@Michael Paige (9:40) -- Thanks for the reminder of the openings of those shows. I'd completely forgotten them and I don't remotely remember the one you mention. If they bring SIX FEET UNDER back, I'll watch it: when you have a memory like mine, everything old is new again.

Newboy 10:21 AM  

Liked Trenton as I suspected I would as soon as I saw the byline. Understand Rex’s objections, but I tend to forgive dad jokes, bad puns or obvious theme gambits. Today’s grid with the COrPSE buried SIX FEET UNDER was just such a visual treat I had to giggle! And looking at all the women’s names clued so indirectly made me MISTY. This one was almost as much fun as last Sunday’s “Shot in the Dark” that I finally finished this morning before allowing myself to toss Joe’s grid into the trash screaming AARGH as Madam Newboy actually did. (She did demand I print a second copy, of course). And finally a ghost of rain; whatever else the day may bring, I can settle 😉

kitshef 10:23 AM  

Waiting to see Ratatoskr in a puzzle - the squirrel living in Yggdrasil.

burtonkd 10:24 AM  

WILLIAMrenquist fit, as did my favorite wrong answer
ricearoni for the parting gift - watched too many game shows as a kid.

Got SIX FEET UNDER right away, but didn't see how it worked for a while.

Hands up for A-one before ACES

I thought the rebranded scouts had to do with admitting girls into the troops, so wanted Scouts uSA. Scouts BSA has boys in the abbreviation and is redundant since the S stands for scouts. Last letter could have been just about anything since _ARGH works as onomatopoeia with just about any letter. If you need a way to amuse yourself for a couple of minutes, do an alphabet run on this one.

I know a few people who find MOIST to be almost triggeringly icky.

I loved SCISSORLIFT, used in the theatre all the time to adjust lights, etc.

JD 10:27 AM  

Learned I learned early last year that T.R. turned on this protege Taft, ran against him in the next election and split the ticket for Taft's loss. Where in the universe I picked that up I couldn't say, but that statement may have been his nose-thumbing to Roosevelt. Problem is, I just think of him as Taft and the only William I could think of was Rehnquist. So problem #1. Almost the entire rest of the puzzle was problem #2.

Linda R 10:29 AM  

@kitshef 7:27 AM - Since "If you catch my drift" is more familiar to me than "If you get my drift," your comment made me curious to google the 2 expressions:
With "get" - 737,000 hits
With "catch" - 1,290,000 hits

Mr. Cheese 10:30 AM  

@frantic sloth - never heard the term “oogies” before. I love the sound of it.
What other things give you “oogies” ... if you don’t mind my asking.

PS - I always look forward to your daily postings

Anonymous 10:38 AM  

Constructor and editor are invited to check "GST". They will find that "GMT" is "Greenwich Mean Time", and that the summer hours version is "BST" for "British Summer Time", and NOT "GST". It's not hard, people! Try to get it right in future!

Knowu 10:39 AM  

Once again. It’s not snarfs... it’s scarfs. Snarf is a word used only as an onomatopoeic sound in comic strips. Ruined my solve.

RooMonster 10:41 AM  

Hey All !
Had the top and center of puz completed, including the Revealer, but the bottom half had me stymied. Kept asking myself how SIX FEET UNDER related to the theme. Hmm... Finally saw it at IF YOU CATCH MY DRI(FT). Had IFYOUC____MY___, wanted CAN for something like IF YOU Can see it, but was able to see CATCH after getting the MY part, and then the "aha lightbulb" moment. "Oh, the FT is UNDER the grid!"

Figured the Longer Downs would have the FTs UNDER them, but again puzzled at where the other two would be. Already having EYESup in, seeming perfectly cromulent, I further scratched the head, but not seeing anywhere else for the missing two FTs to go, decided to erase up, and then thought EYES right (which is 100x more common [at least when I was in the Army late 80's]), but knew that was wrong. Finally saw EYES LE(FT). Then got SO(FT) for the cheeses (cheesopodes?) and was able to wrestle puz into a submission.

Put me in the SCISSOR LIFT is a common thing group. Some of those suckers go really high! And they beep really loud when being driven around.

Got to the Yggdrasil clue, and immediately wrote in BIGTREE. Har. Well, it is. 😁 Was fascinated for a while after I learned of said tree, one of the small amount of things I actually remember. In Norse mythology, it binds together Heaven, Earth, and Hell with its branches and roots. Roughly. Nine realms, etc etc. Still cool! And who knows if we're all living in a gigantic tree or not? Heck, some people think the Earth is flat.

SEAMY or SEedY? AARGH or yARGH? class or ORDER? EHS or uHS? (@M&A, put in the U first!), but no question on SNARFS or ScARFS because eating in the NYTXW is always SNARF. ☺️

Extra F's today, although invisible. SIX F's UNDER. Har.

Five F's (+ SIX ghosted)

Patri15 10:42 AM  

William Howard Taftis the only President who was also a Supreme Court Justice, altho otherwise pretty obscure.

bocamp 10:42 AM  

@Barbara S. (9:17 AM)

Very much liked the Mill quotes. Thank you! :)

@Frantic Sloth (9:29 AM)

Looked for it yesterday here, but not streaming on Netflix (Canada). Available to purchase on Apple TV.

td pg -3

Peace ~ Empathy ~ Kindness to all 🕊

Paul Statt 10:43 AM  

This is a nit -- nevertheless.

When I Google GST I get loads of "good and services taxes." The time at Greenwich is GMT, Greenwich Mean Time.

Frantic Sloth 10:46 AM  

I guess I am just a simpleton because I'm clearly easily amused.
Or is Rex just kvrexing over mostly nothing again?
I thought the theme was clever and the fill was not quite the "mess" he describes. But, I guess if you've done a googolillion crosswords and speed-solve, there's little hope for joy. I'm going with it's not me.
The fact that I barely noticed the PPP must mean that I was wheelhousing through the grid. I'll allow that, but I still thought this puzzle was just grand.

And now I emerge from a SIX FEET UNDER opening deaths rabbit hole.
Not for breakfast or the faint of heart.
You're welcome.

@Mr. Cheese Head cheese. I hope it's no relation. 😉

TJS 10:48 AM  

How can anyone doing crosswords not no ENID ? I mean there's only two cities in the whole damn state, and the fifteen people who first lived there, in a burst of creativity, named the other one Oklahoma City !

Hey,@Ray, you can't be "an obscure American president", especially if you got stuck in a bathtub.

Anyone who was around fifteen when Lola Falana would show up on Johnny Carson would still remember her. Take my word for it.

Second week in a row where I was stumped by a puzzle halfway through until I remembered it was Thursday.

burtonkd 10:51 AM  

My favorite SIXFEETUNDER opener is a woman in her backyard getting hit by a piece of frozen blue liquid ejected from the toilet of an airplane miles overhead.
If you like HBO shows that, while dark, feature amazing character development, the current "Mare of Easttown" is fantastic.

@Nancy - I just learned that Sadist is an eponym, thank you! Is there also a Marquis de Masoche?

jae 10:52 AM  

Medium-tough. I have watched the HBO series (which is odd but interesting) so I sorta knew what to look for at the bottom of the grid. Still SCISSOR LIFT took a while to suss out. Liked it.

Gretchen 10:53 AM  

Loved it!

mathgent 10:53 AM  

I had a tough time. It took me past my bedtime. I was jumping all over the grid until I finally saw SIXFEET/UNDER. Ah, yes! PARTINGGI(FT)!

I probably wouldn't love it so much if I hadn't solved it clean. But I was able to guess the many names correctly.

I've never felt this way before. I loved it more than Lewis did!

Perfect theme. Six little feet under the grid. Happy that it didn't run off and hide.

Lots of sparkle.

ORZO can be out into minestrone but Italians usually use other pasta. The Greeks use ORZO a lot.

When I first started doing the puzzle, ORR was in it a lot as the legendary hockey player. That's how I learned who he was. We didn't get hockey news over here.

Of course I don't know from Garfield County. But I filled in ENID immediately. A four-letter city in Oklahoma. If it had been three letters, it would have been ADA.

Whatsername 10:55 AM  

Trenton, the word I’d USE to describe your crossword puzzle today: ACES!! What fun! This must have taken a lot of finesse to construct. I love the mirror symmetry too, a thing of beauty which I studied a bit before I started solving just to see if there was some sort of clue in the grid art. Thanks so much and more like this, please.

That’s not to say it wasn’t a challenge. Some of the proper names were a real stretch and Yggdrasil/ASH TREE was a total stumper. I never watched the TV show but it was popular enough that the answer came to me easily. Still, I didn’t get the trick right off the bat so it was a bit of a workout. But it was a fun workout and extremely satisfying, which makes all the difference. Tough but doable, a most pleasing combination.

GILL I. 11:05 AM  

Oh, wasn't an anticlimax was a feet to behold! My feet did a happy dance when it was SIX FEET UNDER.... IF YOU CATCH MY DRIFT.... I loved all of this - even though it reminded me to look at my feet and realize I need a pedicure.
A couple of write-overs which I won't bore you with...I laughed at my ASH TRAY mishap thinking Norse mythology sure has a smoking problem. ENID - the birthplace of my Dad and sniffing ELMERS glue, zipped the IDIOT smirk off my face. Que fun I was having.
I love Thursdays like this. I will SPY SWAP you any day of the week for some sweet smelling feet like this one.

@Ray Yuen...Welcome to the USofA. I am a red-blooded Yanqui (as my Latina friends call me)....I wasn't raised here and English wasn't my first language. My grandmother introduced me to crosswords so that (maybe) I could learn the Queen's English! Hah. I spent most of my crossword puzzle puzzles looking for things in the dictionary. Most of the weird words I'd never use in my lifetime, I learned doing the NYT puzzles. You'll get used to it.

JD 11:10 AM  

Away on business and didn't sleep well in the hotel bed after a four course wine dinner. Please excuse sloppy earlier post. It was Harding who then appointed Taft to the Supreme Court.

Funny thing my in son's HS history book. It said that Taft was a large, jovial man known for his "mirth quakes."

Anonymous 11:12 AM  

"This leads to disgruntlement on the part of the solver". . . Apparently, ANY crossword puzzle leads to "disgruntlement" on the part of some solvers. . . Good Day.

albatross shell 11:15 AM  

Well, there is Tulsa.

Frantic Sloth 11:15 AM  

@Mr Cheese Oh - and thank you! 😆

@bocamp 1042am I should have known that you would find it. 😉
@Whatsername Use his link for all the options. I will say that I don't think it's worth buying necessarily, but that depends on a lot of things.

@Z whenever you return...I forgot to thank you for the link to Rex's kitty pics yesterday. So...thank you. That cat! ❤️

@TJS 1048am 🤣 Opening paragraph. "Burst of creativity" is perfect.

@burtonkd 1051am I enthusiastically second your "Mare of Easttown" recommendation and see an Emmy in Kate Winslet's future.

Northwest Runner 11:18 AM  

Help me out here. Is there anyone outside of crossword editors who thinks that another term for UTC/GMT is GST? Isn’t GST (as a time zone) Gulf Standard Time? Since there is already goods and services tax to work with, why not use that (if you have to fall back on all consonant fill)?

Joe Dipinto 11:19 AM  

As soon as I got SCISSOR LIFT I could picture exactly the piece of equipment the clue was referring to, even though I didn't particularly know it was called that. "Marginal technical stuff?" You see them everywhere. And who looks up objects that way? You might as well type "Google scissor lift" in the search box. (Actually I just tried that and it still brought up a ton of scissor lift entries on the first page.)

Nifty puzzle. Except for MOIST.

For some reason, this song charted better nationally than it did in New York. The ascending string line during the fadeout gets me.every.time.

Busterchops 11:19 AM  

Blew it with the gimmick. Put last three letters in the last square as a rebus rather than omitting the FT. Never got the music for a successful solve, rightly.

bocamp 11:21 AM  

GST = Greenwich sidereal time.

td pg -2

Peace ~ Empathy ~ Kindness to all 🕊

albatross shell 11:21 AM  

So I guess this puzzle just naturally bugs some people. Maybe cause its an insect?

Newboy 11:28 AM  

@Paul (7:58) well said. I agree there’s a whiff of rarified air from the Ivory Tower in some critiques. Nice to find the balance—just like peace in (name your own hot spot?)—unlikely.

@Barbara S (9:17) On Liberty is always worthy of note and especially in light of the present bifurcation of American culture (thanks for your ongoing thought prompts)

@Joaquin cute!

Chip Hilton 11:40 AM  

@Joe Welling - Hi, UNC! (Unnecessarily Nasty Comment)

How’s this for over-thinking? I went with LIOc, never even considering LION. I thought, “Okay, BMOC is now considered sexist, so maybe they’ve changed it to Large Individual on Campus, or Legendary Icon on Campus. Yeah, that’s likely.” AARGH!

I really enjoyed this one. Love the interesting symmetry of the design and the balance of the six FTs. Well done, Trenton Charleston.

Knitwit 11:41 AM  

A struggle for me. With all the names (a few I didn’t know!) I thought the theme was people who have died. Apologies to those who are still with us…

oceanjeremy 11:45 AM  

I wrote a very clever (and lengthy!) comment around 6:30AM this morning, lying in bed, but accidentally tapped on "Preview" instead of "Publish." This doesn't work on a mobile device. Instead of giving you a "Preview" it says "Your comment will be posted after approval" (or something like that) and then it never posts. Alas.

The gist was that I fell prey to the "do YOU CATCH MY DRI(ft)" trap (Hi Barbara S.!!), and since I didn't know NIA PEEPLES that gave me E_dD for 1A and L_oE for 14A.

I'd have been fine, except for whatever reason I couldn't parse the inflection for the clue of 14A and I really wanted the answer to be plural. This likely had to do with solving while extraordinarily sleepy, after the melatonin and benadryl I take for sleep had already begun to heavily make known its presence in my system.

I looked at 14A and reread the clue several times before the lightbulb went off, "Aha! One of three — this is a singular answer! LIFE, IF YOU CATCH MY DRI(ft) and ENID so this must be NIA PEEPLES." Happy music, done and dusted.

Let's see, what else?

LOLA FALANA is a complete blank for me. Have never heard of her until today.

AARGH (with those two As in there) likely elicited many "arghs" from solvers across the board.

Don't like the cluing for PLY.

Bottom line? I found this puzzle very enjoyable — though I recall similar theme in the last year or two (with words "extending" beyond the bottom of the grid) which made it seem almost too easy to suss out the "ft under" trick. My only complaint? Well, I'm not quite as much a stickler about an "attractive grid" as is Our Fearless Leader (i.e. a grid that, completed, looks aesthetically pleasing completely removed from the cluing and theming). But I do find it a little offputting to see something like PARTINGGI in the grid. It looks like your thumb slipped while typing, or else like you experienced a brief moment of aphasia.

Other than that I had a blast with this puzzle, and my only great difficulties were my own fault (for solving under the influence of sleep aids).

@Ray Yuen 8:31 AM: Regarding cultural familiarity, I have this issue solving a lot of cryptic crosswords, which often rely on obscure British slang from decades (or even centuries) past.

Karl Grouch 9:40 AM: Thanks, I LOL'd.

Frantic Sloth 11:46 AM  

@JD 1110am Mirth quakes or girth quakes? Perhaps both? 😉

OffTheGrid 11:50 AM  

I want to play "Favorite SFU Opening Scene Death". Some people were having a celebratory limousine ride and a woman (maybe a bride or bridesmaid?) was standing so that her head and upper torso were through an open sun roof. It ended very badly, though I forget what she hit.

Moshermind 11:53 AM  

Agreed! I got the middle SIXFEET and UNDER, thinking about that great show. Then I knew that 11d was William Howard Taft after all! Had only gotten as far as the O in FIONA but doubted my answer as there weren’t enough squares. This was a tough one. But a satisfying solve. After I finished I thought, “Is today Saturday?”

Whatsername 11:55 AM  

I’m assuming SPY SWAP was referring to the early 1960s incident where U-2 pilot Francis Gary Powers was traded for the Soviet KGB Colonel William Fisher aka Rudolph Abel. Also the subject of the movie Bridge of Spies starring Tom Hanks. Highly recommend if you haven’t seen it.

@Anonymous 1038 and others re 23D, thanks for confirming my suspicions. I had GMT there for the longest time and even tried UTC before finally seeing STIFF and admitting defeat.

@burtonkd (10:51) I join in your enthusiasm for Mare of Easttown and agree with @Frantic about Kate Winslet. It’s her brilliance which sets it apart from the ordinary, but the entire cast is solid. There’s not been a shabby performance from anyone really.

Northwest Runner 12:01 PM  

Thanks bocamp for the explanation. Makes sense now (and means that that the entry did not contain a part of the clue). I had heard of sidereal time before but not as part of this term.

Unknown 12:28 PM  

Could someone explain *PAP* as an answer for "baby food"?

Masked and Anonymous 12:34 PM  

Kinda different theme mcguffin, where all the letters don't FT into the puzgrid. OK, but have seen that sorta thing a few times before. The SIXFEET UNDER revealer helped elevate the whole rodeo a lot, tho.

Hey, now -- what if they also had put a SIXFEET TALL second revealer in the same puz, with more FT's poppin outta the top of the puzgrid? Now, that woulda been really impressive. [I'm sure there's gotta be lotsa words and such that start with "FT…". FTDIX, FTKNOX, etc.]
… yeah, didn't think so. Maybe use IN as in INches, up top, somehow? [Best try all this in a runtpuz first, to be on the safe side.]

Tough solvequest, even tho I revealed the reveal real early in the game. Quite a few vaguely familiar names put up a fight, at our house. And my initial HUMID/HARM guess at 5-A/D didn't help our cause much.
Sure did admire that there E/W puzgrid symmetry, tho. Cheers M&A up, even before gettin started.

staff weeject picks: @RP beat m&e to formally recognizin them. They're that cute little ftft-stack at the center bottom:

Thanx for keepin yer lil foots offa our ThursPuz, Mr. Charlson dude. Real nice job.

Masked & Anonymo3Us


Frantic Sloth 12:40 PM  

@OffTheGrid 1150am I think it was a buckets from one of those bucket trucks for working on light/telephone poles as it was descending? BTW she was celebrating her divorce.

To all the GMTers out there:

It's not Greenwich Mean Time, it's not even Greenwich Standard Time, it's Greenwich Sidereal Time - as @bocamp 1121am so helpfully provides a link to.
For some inexplicable reason, I only remember this from another puzzle several (many?) months ago that had the same entry and effect as this did. Can I remember anything important though? Absolutely not.

@Unknown 1228pm PAP - second noun definition

DeeJay 12:43 PM  

Isn't the central image a coffin on some sort of platform?

DeeJay 12:43 PM  

Short for pabulum.

Elizabeth Sandifer 12:49 PM  

Having heard of neither NIA PEEPLES nor LOLA FLANA at a spry 38, this was a massacre. Just had no way in, especially with ELISA Donovan and ELLA Wheeler Wilcox in there to make it really murderous. Had the gimmick figured out and was still completely hosed by the huge proper nouns; with those two ten letter ones each anchoring a fifth of the grid it was as if the puzzle had two themes, one I could work out perfectly well and the other of which was "are you middle-aged?"

Anonymous 12:51 PM  

Far too many proper nouns, and/or obscurities. Not fun.

Crimson Devil 12:52 PM  

Good, tough, Thurs.

Unknown 12:57 PM  

Lots to hate here.
-Obscure cluing for SCI/LES/ESO crossed with the outdated ACES! and a "Drill command," which is a concept I guess I know of but not with any specificity? -"Scouts BS_" crossed with _ARGH had me _arghing.
-The clue for 3 Down feels like it should be DOYOU... not IF YOU...
-Convinced that Nia Peeples and Lola Falana do not exist outside of crossword fill. The latter of which was crossed with a fairly obscure poet and an terrible clue for LION, because why not?
-I googled ELISA Donovan after, and still didn't recognize who she was in Clueless. And I can name most of the cast easily!
-SCISSORLIft. Scissor. Lift.

Really, SPYSWAP clicking was the only enjoyable moment.

SteveHikes 1:01 PM  

Excellent point about support for diversity coexisting with class elitism. Diversity at the top with separation and division in the working class at the bottom.

Anonymous 1:09 PM  

A bunch of letters that are not words and a bunch of words with letters that are not in the grid. Between today and that mess on Sunday, i am thinking about taking up a more productive hobby. Like hunting snipe.

Teedmn 1:10 PM  

My solve paralleled @Carola's, as it often does, with knowing ENID and getting the DRIft of the puzzle at 3D. I did have a sticky moment or two in the SE since I couldn't come up with TAFT's middle name, didn't know ELISA or what to call a SCISSOR LIft. After Googling the latter, I spent some time fantasizing about owning one tall enough to wash my second floor windows. Too expensive and probably overkill to rent one for that purpose.

@kitshef, I thought you must have made up the Norse squirrel, Ratatoskr. I can't say that I've ever run into that bit of lore even though Yggdrasil was a gimme. Fun stuff!

I'll agree with those who loved "Six Feet Under". It was groundbreaking in many ways and must-watch TV at our house back in the day.

Trenton, thanks for the nice Thursday.

We've been through this before 1:23 PM  

@GST deniers - It's Greenwich Sidereal Time, a real live thing.

Karl Grouch 1:28 PM  

Leopold von Sacher-Masoch

Anonymous 1:36 PM  

The Queen of Las Vegas was Wayne Newton, with Liberace on piano.

Unknown 1:39 PM  

While I rarely tend to agree with Nancy's take on things, I will agree with her that SFU was a wonderful show, and for those of you too young to see it when it first came out, it's worth tracking down.

I guess if you are like Rex and suss out the theme within a few minutes, then yeah, the puzzle loses its luster pretty quickly. But for me, I worked on it for quite a while before the trick revealed itself to me. Loved the theme. Some of the names were pretty esoteric.

thfenn 1:39 PM  

Great Thursday. Agree too much PPP, but enjoyed the theme, and needed SIXFEET UNDER to solve those downs, so the concept worked perfectly from this user's perspective. On ENID I threw that right in (having no idea about the county) but was sure that 1D had to be THREEM - which personally I think would've been great - so I then did a "whoa, there's another 4 letter town in Oklahome?". LOL, turns out there isn't. Not even on a Thursday.

Thanks for the SIX FEET UNDER reviews. Never saw it and now intend to.

old timer 1:42 PM  

My first word on finishing the puzzle was EH. It seemed strange to have such a twister on a Wednesday. Then I remembered it was Thursday! Very suitable. And one of those days when the revealer, Six Feet Under, actually helped me complete the solve. Simply a matter of finding six places to add FT to the Downs, smd Bob's your uncle. Actually I had two Uncle Bobs, so I have always loved to say that.

WILLIAM HOWARD TAFT was an interesting character. Basically, Teddy's right-hand man, and the obvious choice to succeed him. And one of those rare Presidents who lost his bid for re-election. Too bad, too. Wilson did some great things in his first term, but was a dictator in his second, and almost destroyed civil liberties in this country. Not to mention civil rights: He was the most racist president in our post-Civil War history. A second Taft term would have been far better.

I loved "IF YOU CATCH MY DRIFT". I immediately thought of the Firesign Theatre, and indeed I suspect Trenton C is a fan. Though the quote is something more like: "Want to bend a few in the Doo Dah Room? If you CATCH my meaning. If you get MY DRIFT."

kitshef 1:46 PM  

@Knowu - this is just one of those things you have to accept and move on. If a clue clearly calls for 'scarfs', you can confidently fill in 'snarfs', because that's Will's way.

Six Feet Under fans - I was all ready to give the show a try based on @Nancy's recommendation, but the "opening scenes" people have described sound appalling.

Amy 1:49 PM  

Loved it! Rex is too smart for his own good. This took a while for me to crack and I had a real and lovely aha moment. Many thanks!

bocamp 2:06 PM  

@Northwest Runner 12:01 PM 👍

@Frantic Sloth (12:40 PM) 👍

Star Time: A Brief History of Sidereal Time

A wonderful book: 'Longitude: The True Story of a Lone Genius Who Solved the Greatest Scientific Problem of His Time' ~ by Dava Sobel relates the story of John Harrison and his devotion to perfecting his chronometer in order to advance the cause of precision maritime sailing. He relied on GMT and sidereal time to synchronize his clocks. (epub here)

pg -2

Peace ~ Empathy ~ Kindness to all 🕊

pabloinnh 2:12 PM  

Couple of things__

Eso es! Very common Spanish phrase for that's it!. The intensifier is si que-- Eso si que es!, which is the end of a long dad joke about a man looking for socks and when they finally appear, exclaims Eso si que es! and the salesman tells him that if he'd spelled it originally they could have saved a lot of time. (S--O--C--K--S). Har.

Don't know how many times I have read Catch 22, several as it was the only novel in English I had with me in Spain. It finally occurred to me that ORR was not only a last name but description of Yossarian's choices--he could keep flying missions, ORR.... maybe pay a whore to hit him over the head with a shoe.

Nothing as annoying as an obvious truth.

A 2:37 PM  

Shouldn’t there be eight feet, belonging to the four pall bearers carrying the STIFF COrPSE?

So happy I didn’t do what Rex did - get the “gag within the first few answers I put in the grid.” No sir, WILLIAM Henry s. TAFT! (I didn’t actually write that in but it came to mind, for some ungodly reason.) No, after putting in ENID, my list was a Donor list, which put a halt to further progress in the NW. Kept running into problems, like GmT before GST, MoSsY before MISTY, genus and lUST/ZEst before ORDER and ZEAL. Ignorant of the actresses and the Queen of LV. Obviously, I had way more fun then OFL!

Got the reveal first (despite never having HBO), then I worked enough of the west to see IF YOU CATCH MY DRIFT, and managed to unearth all the toes, with the internet digging up PEEPLES and HOWARD.

Loved the clue “Uranians.”

In keeping with the theme, I’ll share music by a composer who died on May 20, Clara Wieck Schumann. Here is a bit of one of her piano pieces, played by Isata Kanneh-Mason, and a little bit about her.

Larry 2:39 PM  

I was 15 when Lola F was on the Carson show. And yes, I will never forget her. This is the same mind that thought SCISSORLIFT was a lesbian sexual move.

Anonymous 3:08 PM  

Now I'm vexed. Does one CATCH Covid-19 or GET Covid-19? Hopefully I won't do either (I'm vaxxed) but which would be correct?

Doc John 3:12 PM  

I was also hoping that Liberace would have been the Queen of Las Vegas!

SCISSOR LIFT was most famous from when Al Gore used it to great effect during his presentation on CO2 levels in "An Inconvenient Truth."

AP 3:18 PM  

Well that was underwhelming. So many out of date clues

JC66 3:26 PM  

@anon 3:08

Neither, you CONTRACT it.

bocamp 3:55 PM  

@A (2:37 PM)

Wonderful performance by Isata, and what a brilliant person Clara was! Thx for sharing. :)

pg -1

Peace ~ Empathy ~ Kindness to all 🕊

mmorgan 4:17 PM  


albatross shell 6:56 PM  

@Doc John 312pm
Yep. Liberace. I thought, but was pretty sure the NYT would not go there.

Adam Smith 7:17 PM  

So putting COPSE inside of SIXFEET UNDER--is that deliberate? It's *almost* a CORPSE...

Michael Earnest 8:44 PM  

I hate the GST clue. It's been established that "Greenwich Standard Time" is not a thing. Some commenters are claiming GST could mean "Greenwich Sidereal Time", but if you google that phrase, the only acronym that comes up is GMST, for "Greenwich Mean Sidereal Time." And even if that were the correct interpretation, "Greenwich Sidereal Time" is not even close to common knowledge that is fit for a crossword. This is a lazy, unfair clue.

ScottK 8:50 PM  

Coincidentally, today is World Metrology Day, celebrating the global adoption of the meter. Interesting day for a puzzle whose theme is ft.

Z 9:47 PM  

I’m so happy everyone cleared up Greenwich Sidereal Time. I swear to god we have this discussion every. single. time. this clue/answer combo appears.

I had to chuckle at Rex getting criticized for trashing OLD SAXON at 7:25 and then criticized for giving OLD SAXON a pass at 7:58.
In a similar vein, a whole bunch of you trying to feel superior for “knowing” SCISSOR LI(FT) didn’t seem to grasp what Rex actually wrote. Unlike OLD SAXON, SCISSOR LI(FT) isn’t even enough of a thing to rate it’s own wikipedia entry and Rex’s main problem was the misdirection of “aerial” in the clue. Unlike, say, a cherry picker, if you had shown me a picture and asked me “What’s that called?” the answer would have been, “LI(FT). Nothing says marginally defensible like the Wikipedia line, the individual types may also be known as.

@Barbara S and @Ray Yuen - To be clear - What @jberg wrote. I immediately translated that clue to “four letter city in Oklahoma.”

@Joe Dipinto - I’ve always preferred the George Benson version.

@Frantic Sloth & others - I am still surprised that Rex doesn’t include a Cat Pic Of The Day in the blog. It would probably triple his readership.

CreamyT 10:23 PM  

Awful PPP. Just annoyingly dated. Almost all of it. Even the couple of names I did know (Fiona Apple) was from my childhood. Also - ELISA Donovan from Clueless? Good god. That was her biggest movie. And I could name four people from that movie off the top of my head. What? How on earth did we land on that?

Just frustrating. Super frustrating.

The grid was otherwise generally filled with PPP or more-annoying-than-clever cluing. And very ugly stuff like AARGH. Just did not have fun with this.

Very long time for us, DNF because of BSA/BRYN (had uSA/uRYN). It's really Scouts BSA? Scouts Boy Scouts of America? AARGH.

Anonymous 10:25 PM  

@old timer:
He was the most racist president in our post-Civil War history.

I vote for The Orange Sh!tgibbon (not my coinage, but I cleave). granted, Wilson segregated most of the federal government while the latter was more subtle, letting his minions do the dirty work; not the least in packing the Supreme Court and a sh!t load of the lower courts. we'll need a few years to know just how racist The Orange Sh!tgibbon's (not my coinage, but I cleave) machinations turn out to be. and too many think of him as a Princeton Intellectual, but was truly a just a Redneck.

PhotoAde 12:12 AM  

Painful, obscure, not fun. IFYOUgetmydrift didn't help. Perhaps this is payback for yesterday's (Wednesday) puzzle that felt like a Monday to me.

JMS 1:40 AM  

Never heard of a scissor lift Rex? Gosh you need to get out more. 10:1 you’re seen them more often than you realize.

Deb 2:11 AM  

Hand up for that SFU opener. Don't remember the frying pan one at all, but thought immediately of the limo!

Deb 2:11 AM  

Hand up for that SFU opener. Don't remember the frying pan one at all, but thought immediately of the limo!

Deb 2:11 AM  


Anonymous 8:56 AM  

I don't think pap and pabulum are related based on dictionary definitions and etymology

Unknown 9:13 AM  

I've been in dozens of scissor lifts in my carpentry career. They've been around for a long time. I thought this puzzle was a gem, haven't had this much fun and satisfaction with a Thursday puzzle in forever

Diana, LIW 11:00 AM  

They should bury this kind of s**t forever.

Lady Di

spacecraft 11:37 AM  

Never heard it called a SCISSORLIFT, but it makes perfect descriptive sense. Crosses were fair. I actually did the revealer section before getting the trick; earlier had wanted PARTINGGIFT but realized there was some kind of rebus going on. After "seeing" SIXFEET UNDER (never saw it on TV), the whole thing came to light. Not a rebus but an extension. Whatever. Once the cat was out of the bag, the puzzle was easy-peasy.

NIAPEEPLES or LOLAFALANA, you pick. With ELLA, DOD's all.

A serviceable Thursday, with the requisite extracurricular stuff; clever. Birdie.

Waxy in Montreal 1:00 PM  

At 11D had WILLIAM and an H so confidently entered HARRISON thinking it an obscure quote from an equally obscure president. Also, at 3D had DOYOUGETMYDRIFT and SCOTCH at 1D. As a result, almost-complete carnage ensued (in keeping with the alleged theme), especially in the deep south of the grid.

Complete DNF. Need a STIFF drink. Friday's puzzle can't come fast enough.

thefogman 2:05 PM  

I liked it. And I ain’t LION.

AM/FM Howard 2:35 PM  

Lola Falana was big-time until her career was somewhat derailed by multiple sclerosis

EightAndEight 4:11 PM  

In the UK, GST refers to the Goods and Services Tax, never to GMT (Greenwich Mean Time). Plus, the abbreviation for Std. is already in the clue, so that looks like an editing error.

WRT Lola Falana, here is an old SNL "commercial" from the 1970s:

Burma Shave 5:07 PM  




Diana, LIW 8:13 PM  

@Eight&eight - from Bill Butler's blog:

Greenwich Sidereal Time (GST)

Astronomers use sidereal time to know where to locate given stars in the night sky. Sidereal time is a time scale that takes into account the Earth’s rotation relative to stars with a fixed location in the night sky.

Lady Di

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