Curry made with hoof meat / THU 6-3-21 / Relatives of glockenspiels / Biblical name repeated in Faulkner title / Peanuts character with glasses

Thursday, June 3, 2021

Constructor: Kyra Wilson and Sophia Maymudes

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: DOUBLE DOWN (22D: Strengthen one's commitment ... and a hint to four answers in this puzzle) — four two-word theme answers follow the pattern "double ___"; the second word is the only one that appears in the grid, and it appears ... double, i.e. each letter appears in it square as a double letter; the letters need to be doubled in order for the crosses to work:

Theme answers:
  • DDAATTEESS (2D: Candlelit dinners for four, say)
  • OOVVEERR (11D: React to a gut punch, perhaps)
  • TTRREE (62D: Hotel chain operated by Hilton)
  • AAGGEENNTT (59D: Spy with questionable loyalty)
Word of the Day: LOGIA (58D: Sayings attributed to Jesus) —
The term logia (Greekλόγια), plural of logion (Greekλόγιον), is used variously in ancient writings and modern scholarship in reference to communications of divine origin. In pagan contexts, the principal meaning was "oracles", while Jewish and Christian writings used logia in reference especially to "the divinely inspired Scriptures". A famous and much-debated occurrence of the term is in the account by Papias of Hierapolis on the origins of the canonical Gospels. Since the 19th century, New Testamentscholarship has tended to reserve the term logion for a divine saying, especially one spoken by Jesus, in contrast to narrative, and to call a collection of such sayings, as exemplified by the Gospel of Thomaslogia. (wikipedia)
• • •

Excellent expression of the revealer phrase. Didn't give me too much of an aha, since I figured out the gimmick before ever leaving the NW corner, but still, I'm impressed by the execution of the concept. Constructors are always looking around for phrases that they can reimagine in crossword theme form. Like maybe GO OVERBOARD would get you a theme where the letters GO "appear" outside the bounds of the grid. You know, see a phrase, think it's interesting, and then noodle around with it a bit to see if you can't get a good wordplay concept out of it. I like today's theme because it not only has all the "double" phrases going "Down," it requires that the second word in each phrase be literally doubled in order to make sense of all the Acrosses. It's got layers, complexity, this theme. It does feel a little thin, in the sense that there are just these four little words involved (of course they're little only because the word "double" has been left out and the doubled letters have been Double Stuf'd into single squares. But 14 squares is not a hell of a lot of theme real estate. And the theme answers are so short and so segmented off that they feel like these teeny, easy-to-solve, off-to-the-side puzzles. Like they haven't been really stirred in all the way. But it seems like trying to cram more theme in (in the east and west sections, say) would've been very difficult and possibly disastrous. Better to lay off the theme a little and have it come out clean than get overly ambitious with the theme and end up with a grid that's awkward or clunky. Having almost all the theme crosses be very short means you do end up in crosswordesey territory a bunch (NAAN DEERE ESSENE PEES ATTY), but I think the theme is interesting enough that you're not really going to notice that stuff very much. Plus, you get DOGGO. Hard to notice any bad stuff when there's a DOGGO around.

[Tired and bored]

My only criticism of the grid involves, not surprisingly, a bad crossing. Well, bad for me, for sure. Crossing two foreign words at a vowel is always a dicey proposition unless they are both super well-known. I've never heard of PAYA. I'm guessing it's a NYTXW debut. Fantastic. New food word. Cool. But if you know it's a debut, and it's not exactly in the first tier of curry fame (in the U.S.), then Every Cross Must Be Unambiguous. And arguably, every cross is ... but not for me, who is one of the probably largish handful of people who both hadn't heard of PAYA *and* misspelled the exclamation AY CARAMBA! as AY CARUMBA! (it's a super-common misspelling—there's even some official-looking "Simpsons" merch with that spelling on it). Since CARAMBA is only an exclamation (a "minced oath for carajo [penis]" (wikipedia), etymology was no help to me. I had only Bart Simpson's voice to go on, and he says it more like "-umba" than "-amba." This is an error on my part that I'd normally pick up from the cross. Only today, the cross was PAYA. Which came out PUYA. Which really looked just fine to me. The end. Until it wasn't the end. To my small credit, when I didn't get the "You've successfully finished the puzzle!" alert, I knew immediately where my error was. But that doesn't keep it from being an error. 

I don't really believe ECOSAVVY is a thing (15A: Quite green). Otherwise, the grid looks pretty nice. Briefly forgot what CELESTAS were, so that area took a little work (7D: Relatives of glockenspiels). Also briefly forgot what CONJunctions were (5D: If, and or but: Abbr.), and bizarrely wrote in CONT. (for "contraction" ???) at first. And since I wasn't sure if it was ABSOLOM or ABSALOM (6D: Biblical name repeated in a Faulkner title), I got in some real trouble at 21A: Tired and bored (JADED) until I eventually just sang the Schoolhouse Rock song to myself ("'and' 'but' and 'or' get you pretty far! ... CONJunction Junction, what's your function?"). And there was the "J." And there was JADED. I am at my happiest in the very early morning, but it is clear that I am not at my ... let's say, sharpest. Take care!

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld 

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


bocamp 6:19 AM  

Thx Kyra & Sophia for an excellent Thurs. puz! :)

Med solve.

Meandered thru this one and had a most enjoyable journey.

DOUBLE DOWN theme was useful in the solve.

Didn't require a rebus on the iPad.

Only guess was at the PAYA/AYCARAMBA cross; seems like we had AY CARAMBA not long ago; remembered 'A' not 'U'.

Had OAXACA in another puz recently, so no prob with that one.

SALAAM ~ Umrao Jaan

yd pg -1 (missed the easiest one) :(

Peace ~ Empathy ~ Kindness to all 🕊

kitshef 6:37 AM  

In my experience, “I’m sorry” and “My bad” are pretty much opposites. “I’m sorry” being used to express contrition; “My bad” being used to basically say the awful thing I did was minor and if you make a big deal about it, you’re a jerk.

Came here expecting Rex to shred DOGGO. DOGGO is worthy of an epic, full-column Rexrant. Instead, he liked it?

With two constructors, you’d think some of the more Naticky crosses (DOGGO/LOGIA, PAYA/AY CARAMBA) could have been avoided. And isn’t having both ABSALOM and SALAAM in the grid a violation?

Lewis 6:39 AM  

As some of you can well imagine, your resident Alphadoppeltotter, after this solve, is sitting, strongly breathing, and fanning himself after encountering 41 double letters – more than double the previous record! – in this grid. Of course there is an asterisk, perhaps a double asterisk, denoting that this record is theme related. But still… but still. He is looking fondly at the ALE, BEER, and CAB that this puzzle offers, perhaps even the LSD and ACID. But this will all surely pass, and he will persist.

Lewis 6:46 AM  

At first, thinking “double dates”, I wrote DATES in at 2D, and another DATES in at 3D, then used rebus squares to finish the across words there. The space between doing that and figuring out the way I should have done it – well, that’s what I live for in crosswords. I want to be fooled. I want to have wrong answers. I want to enter incorrect permutations. I want all this because it gives me all the more to figure out. OMG, how my brain loves figuring things out. It is its definition of glee.

So, between that trouble in the NW, then hunting down and figuring out the other theme answers with no crosses – my glee cup ranneth over, and thank you so much for that, Kyra and Sophia. Molto-terrific idea and execution. More please!

Anonymous 6:49 AM  

15A X 16D grid. FWIW

Z 7:18 AM  

What Rex said about the theme. A little thin seeming, but less is really more here. On close post solve inspection there is a fair amount of short fill, but during the solve I never got that sloggy feeling. Make the theme fresh and don’t try to overdo it and GRU/USD barely even gets noticed. I do think working
in would have been a nice cherry on top in a crossword puzzle, but what we have is pretty good.

@6:49 - Thanks. I didn’t notice. Besides allowing DOUBLEDOWN to be symmetrical as placed, the 16 rows allow a little more room to breath. Take away that row and maybe the short fill would have felt excessive.

@kitshef - Your comment prompted me to do a quick ABSALOM refresher and my primary take away is that ABSALOM is a pretty ironic name. 🙏🏽

Son Volt 7:22 AM  

Similar to yesterday for me - fun, cute theme with flat fill. Liked the revealer - although I would have gone the blackjack route. The themers themselves are not exciting - I understand the technical difficulties here but at the expense of sparkle? Didn’t have an issue with the AY CARAMBA cross but can see the potential. Liked the OAXACA - IDIOMATIC stack.

Side eye to LITE BEER - thought the general group was Light with LITE being the Miller brand name.

Anyone calls my bullie a DOGGO there will be consequences.

Enjoyable solve getting the double rebus - but overall a flat Thursday.

Ann Howell 7:26 AM  

Really fun! As one who struggles with rebuses, I was very proud that I figured out the theme before leaving the top third. Always great to start the day with a little confidence boost!

amyyanni 7:27 AM  

Like it a lot. Theme helped the solve in the SW. Agree (and made same mistake) with PUYA. Love curry, but never heard of that one. Glad it's Thursday. Happy Birthday to FLOTUS.

pabloinnh 7:28 AM  

Saw the DOUBLEDATE thing instantly so the others were no surprise, except I wanted some form of OOOOFFF for the gut punch reaction, which was just an automatic kind of fill in for gut punch stuff. I guess "double oof" doesn't make much sense, but hard to break old habits.

I'm still wondering how folks hear CARUMBA for CARAMBA. Any other similar mishearings? Udios? Vuyu con Dios? No hublo espanol? I mean, really.

Learned that PAYA can be something besides __________fine, and was reminded of what a CELESTA is. if I ever knew that.

I'm with @kitshef in my dislike for DOGGO. I have similar problems with people who say "kiddos", but I think that's just me.

Really liked the idea behind the theme and bravo for the execution. Big well done to KW and SM. Keep Writing Some More like this!

Richard Stanford 7:43 AM  

Loved the concept but a DNF for me on CARuMBA and OAXAnA/TRAnI. I didn’t know the name and misremembered the state.

Had Lah instead of LOB for a while and that really threw me but got that sorted out. Knew it was a rebus pretty quickly but not which part and got the pattern 2-3 in which was fun.

Z 7:55 AM  

DOGGO > fur baby
I don’t know about your pets, but DOGGO is the perfect term for my two beasts when we are out on a trail or at a dog park. The lab and chihuahua easily GO twice as far as I do whenever we hike. And, of course, they both are very good at communicating when it is time for DOG GO. Call your pets “fur babies,” though, and I will smile sweetly while being secretly (hopefully) judgmental.

@pabloinnh - I think it’s some combination of Spanglish and vowel migration going on, perpetrated by that animated character. It’s almost as if the English-speaking listener is hearing “crumb” in CARAMBA. I got it right with nary a wasted nanosecond, but when Rex mentioned the misspelling I had an “Ooh, I’ve seen that - glad I didn’t think of it” moment.

ow a paper cut 8:18 AM  

Great fun solving this

MarthaCatherine 8:19 AM  

An amazingly constructed puzzle, with the theme answers so symmetrical and the revealer centered so perfectly.

I was surprised at how many other double letters there were in the non-theme answers: COMMON, LOSSES, REALLY, ONNOW, IMSORRY, MOSSY, AARP. That seems like a lot. Coincidence? Plus the ABSALOM, which at first made me think that the theme would be a lot of words or titles that would normally be said twice (of which I can think of zero other examples...).

Anonymous 8:28 AM  

1. The astounding number of double letters NOT in the the themers really takes the shine (sheen?) off this xword
2. Could have TAGOUT for TAPOUT at 28A as the start of a workaround for PAYA

Frantic Sloth 8:33 AM  

@Z from late yesterday Okay okay I see the difference, but don't ask me to remember puzzles from 2 or more days ago. Oh the CC debacle? No, I didn't consider that a tribute puzzle, but what of it?

Quickie dealie today, but wanted to make 3 points:

1. Great theme for all the reasons Rex points out. (Also grasped it at ADDS/DDAATTEESS)
2. No issue with PAVA/AYACARAMBA - knew how to spell CARAMBA since I didn't learn Spanish from the freakin' Simpsons.
3. DOGGO!! Some of you might already be familiar with this video, but I'm sharing it anyway because DOGGO! (Hint: turn the sound up, but not too much!) Walter the Frenchie ain't happy. P.S. This version has added a slo-mo version at the end which is weird, but helpful.

Might return today. Mightn't. Enjoy your day everyone!


Joaquin 8:41 AM  

Never heard of PAYA and I'm not inclined to try a "curry made of hoof meat." It sounds like something that would give me a case of the DOGGOs.

Prof. Pooley 8:52 AM  

If DOGGO isn't a prominent feature of your personal lexicon, you're not spending nearly enough time in the Dog Twitter community. I strongly suggest you address that hollow in your soul as soon as you possibly can.

albatross shell 8:54 AM  

I was slow getting the theme (at the 3rd corner) and then the corners went double-time. I was expecting some sound effect for the gut punch too, but was very pleased with the rebus double OVER. Weird the way Rex wrote them horizontally in the blog: OOVVEERR.

@Anoa will be upset with all the word extenders of various types throughout the puzzle. It strikes me as a bit excessive too.

The collection of 3 letter words is rather onerwhelming also. I did enjoy working on the 3x4 area with CONJ. I thought CONd might be possible (for conditions) as on no if ands or buts.


16 Squares down and 15 16 or 17 squares across counting the rebus squares.

I guess many are happy SALAAM and ABSALOM were not clued Aloha.

I made the A/u error as Rex.
I spell by English sounds not Spanish cause I do not know enough Spanish.

So despite how some of the above might sound I had a fun solve. A delightful rebus Thursday.

See my ironic comment late last night.

PaulyD 9:00 AM  

This is one of those puzzles I admired more in retrospect than enjoyed while completing. For me, that's wholly attributable to the number of small words and having to type in all those double letters. That was a mindless slog. It would have been worth it had the completion brought more than an appreciative smile.

Anonymous 9:00 AM  

Are we not going to talk about 32D _ Paige Johnson, co-creator of TV's "Blue's Clues"?? I would hardly call this person a household name!

Barbara S. 9:01 AM  

I liked this theme a lot. I emitted an out-loud chuckling “Aha” when I got it which, oddly, was in the SE, after I’d wandered around the north vaguely wanting to fill in more letters than I had squares for, but just not grasping the essential. It would have been harder to solve and thus more fun if the doubled-letter answers had been randomly distributed, but perhaps impossible to construct, especially with the revealer centrally placed.

I learned a lot of stuff.
1) That LOB is a term for a high pitch in baseball. I tried looking this up and fell down a rabbit hole called the “eephus pitch” (put that in your crossword puzzle, I dare ya!). Does anyone know if an eephus pitch is the same as a LOB?
2) That PAYA curry is made with “trotters” (usually goat or cow).
3) That OAXACA state has more than half of Mexico’s indigenous language speakers. I visited OAXACA (city) once at Christmas-time and I think I’ve already described the Noche de Rábanos on Dec. 23, which is a big festival of giant carved radishes! They’re displayed all over the zócalo and some of them are absolutely amazing.
4) That LOGIA is a term for sayings attributed to Christ.

Here’s another definition of DOGGO from Meriam-Webster:
Adverb: in hiding to avoid notice or detection—used chiefly in the phrase "lie doggo"
* Lucan said that he would "lie doggo for a bit", and nothing has been heard of him in the past thirteen years.— Julian Symons…
* nuclear submarines can lie doggo for months on the ocean bed until the designated target comes within reach.— Alain Jacob

A musical MARCIE

Today’s excerpt is from the writing of JOHN HODGMAN, born June 3, 1971.

“There are transitions in life whether we want them or not. You get older. You lose jobs and loves and people. The story of your life may change dramatically, tragically, or so quietly you don’t even notice. It’s never any fun, but it can’t be avoided. Sometimes you just have to walk into the cold dark water of the unfamiliar and suffer for a while. You have to go slow, breathe, don’t stop, get your head under, and then wait. And soon you get used to it. Soon the pain is gone and you have forgotten it because you are swimming, way out here where it’s hard and where you were scared to go, swimming sleekly through the new.”
(From Vacationland: True Stories from Painful Beaches)

JD 9:08 AM  

Wasn't expecting a rebus to show up in those little corners and was a little baffled there. So, worked south through the center to start, and got Double Down. But it wasn't until I got to Agent that it sunk in (I can be obtuse), thanks to a Cold War spy craft obsession. That was a long time to miss the obvious.

Loved the clue for Aflac. Stupidly remembered Xanadu with a Z. And the mystery of the Ottoman plural that I was always too lazy to look up is solved. Threw a U into Caramba (thanks Bart) but at least sensed it was wrong. I apologize to the Spanish language. Might finally tackle Absalom, Absalom! I resist Faulkner.

Wilson and Maymudes are an impressive team. These are constructors I'll look forward to.

CDilly52 9:20 AM  

@kitshef 6:37: I agree! Came here expecting a full on, no holds barred rant over DOGGO. Who knew?

mathgent 9:34 AM  

Dazzling! Truly a masterpiece!

The theme was executed perfectly. It had a lot of sparkle. The cluing was smart. I'm in awe.

Not to mention that it was fun. I got the theme at 2D and had a ball finding the other three downs and writing in the twin letters.

JD 9:36 AM  

Oh Barbara S., you can't possibly know what your quote meant to me today.

Anonymous 9:36 AM  

Barbara S,
I think it's fair to say you're starting from a bad place regarding a lob. As a noun I only ever hear used in tennis. As a verb it's used in just about every sport I can think of where a ball (or even object like a horseshoe, or a dart) is thrown. An eephus pitch is indeed lobbed to the plate. But the pitch itself is never called a lob. I know this sounds terribly inside baseball, but it's not as arcane as it sounds.
The eephus pitch has been around forever, but in recent years it's made something of a comeback. One very accomplished pitcher, Zack Greinke, uses it a fair bit.
One last bit of trivia: in the 1946 All-Star game, Ted Williams hit a homerun off an eephus pitch. The pitcher was a guy named Rip Sewell and he claimed his "blooper ball" couldn't be hit for a homerun because there wasn't enough energy behind the ball it for the batter to transfer. Williams absolutely belted that homer, obviously ending Sewell's theory. ( Though in fairness to Sewell, it was the only time anyone homered off that pitch against Sewell)

Quibble for Poggius. whatever the writings ascribed to Thomas are, they are not a Gospel. My point is that canonical is redundant when referring to The Gospels.

mmorgan 9:39 AM  

Nice puzzle, agree with Rex about quantity of theme material. Never heard or PAYA or DOGGO, but I had no trouble getting them from crosses.

CDilly52 9:42 AM  

This was fun and easy for me - mostly. The theme revealed its existence at 1A. Obviously k ee there was a rebus somewhere so I worked the downs to figure out where and wham! There it is at 2D! However, I resisted the urge to go to each corner because I wanted to enjoy the journey this morning. Many times, I am underwhelmed by a theme and just want to get it filled in an see what the puzzle has to offer in the way of actual enjoyment. Not so today! This was a clever, well constructed theme with an appropriate reveal. Good job Ms. Wilson and Ms. Maymudes!!

My only snag was that I first learned about lamb’s foot stew as PAYe rather than PAYA, and was stuck there for a bit. While I may be the only person in the US who has never seen any of The Simpsons, I have not been immune to learning all of the character names and occupations as well as the “catch phrases.” Accordingly, PAYA was corrected and after my speedy finish I learned that both PAYe and PAYA seem to be used fairly interchangeably.

Fun Thursday.

Steve M 9:42 AM  

Got the theme fine but have no Simpson’s knowledge so screwed on the paya crossing

Anonymous 9:50 AM  

Poggius. My apologies. I was rushing and completely neglected to frame my point on canonical gospel correctly. I'm actually asking for your expertise. My quibble is obviously not with you but the wiki article Rex included today. Thanks in advance. And sorry for what looks like a beef w you.

RooMonster 9:57 AM  

Hey All !
Add me to the CARuMBA list. Bart says it in his odd accent as if it was -uMBA, not -AMBA.

Nice theme. Had a similar idea, never finished. Was suspicious of something going on right out of the gate when 1A seemed a letter short. But one doesn't expect a Rebus at 1A. Got to OTTOMANS, looked back at NAAN (even though I had NAN in, as we've seen the one A NAAN several times), then up to ADDS, and lightbulb moment. Ah, says I, now that crazy Candlelit dinners for four clue makes sense. DOUBLE DATES. Neat.

Didn't like how Rex listed the themers. What kind of malarkey is that? Just put in DOUBLE DATES, DOUBLE OVER, etc. DDAATTEESS? Dang, Rex.

Did notice the 16 long grid, because when I do the puz, I always line up the black line at the bottom of the grid (this is doing it online at, btw) with the bottom bar on my screen, and it was closer today than other days. So I looked, and saw the 16. Kind of a cheat-notice. ☺️

DOGGO, dang. Who calls puppies puppers? Regionalism? It's either, "Meet my pet", or "Meet my dog", or "Meet Fido", not "Meet my DOGGO." "Oh, what a cute pupper!" Not.

Anyway, nice puz ladies. Gonna go SNARF a banana, and maybe have a LITE BEER. Not REALLY.

Two F's (unDOUBLEd)

Hungry Mother 10:09 AM  

Couldn’t spell AYCARAMBA, so failed. Thanks for the nasty cross with an unknown curry. I did get the theme, but still hated this one.

Rube 10:10 AM  

Hated this for the first 75% of the solve...but when I got the theme I really enjoyed and admired it.

Lots of child answers like TRACI and AY.... but that's OK

As for CARAMBA, while U maybe the "correct" spelling, if you listen to Bart I think he pronounces it CARAMBA. And the clue requires his pronunciation right or wrong.

Whatsername 10:10 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Newboy 10:20 AM  


Seldom like a puzzle I can’t finish, but even when I DOUBLE DOWN my angst, I still find Kyra & Sophia’ DOUBLE DATE a delight delight🤡

Now back to read Rex & y’all.

Nancy 10:22 AM  

Loved, loved, loved it! The best kind of trick puzzle, in that I was totally reliant on figuring out the theme to solve and, once I had it, the theme made the solve much easier. Knowing it helped me get ECOSAVVY and DOGGO, for instance. DOGGO??? Oh, well.

The theme answers are very well chosen, completely fair and so in the language. The revealer is perfection.

And what a great clue for IDIOMATIC (51A). Here you've got two possible ways to think about the answer: either rotting fruit or rotten people. And the answer isn't either one of them.

My biggest "Huh???" was PAYA. Who knew there was a "curry made with hoof meat"? Sounds yummy, doesn't it?

Biggest relief for me was when MARCIE came in. I'm a huge "Peanuts" fan (but one with a really lousy memory) and it was driving me crazy that I couldn't remember the character with glasses.

Wonderful puzzle. Couldn't have enjoyed it more.

GILL I. 10:27 AM  

Ay Chihuahua...So some of you thought it was CARuMBA? Would Bart Simpson really screw up the Spanish language? Would some of you really quote @pablito and say VUYU CON DIOS? By the way, my neck of the woods, "carajo" means caca in Spanish. If you want to go all penis and such then you'd call someone a pendejo. You're welcome.
Well...this gets the frijoles frescos award of the week. You give me DOUBLE anything and I will dance the fandango tango. I sniffed this little DOGGO out at the git go.....confirmed by OVER OVER. I just wish Kyra and Sophia could've found more just to add to my pleasure.
What gave me some trouble? Trying to misspell XYLOPHONE for 7D....I forgot all about CELESTAS and will continue to forget it.
What did I like? Remembering ABSALOM and XANADU. Didn't someone write a song about them?
And then you give me OAXACA. Joy. If you think Bart mispronounces words, you should hear some people look at the word and proudly say "waxsacka." Wince de jour. Love that place; love the mole in the entire universe and the people are wonderful.
Only wince was GRU PEES.

Christopher Jones 10:34 AM  

This took me as long a some recent Sunday puzzles (34 minutes). The theme was clever enough but I’ve never heard of grown dog referred to as a “Doggo”. Never. A doggie, yes. But no.

Carola 10:35 AM  

1A: Why doesn't ADDS fit?
3A: Don't tell me it's that "alternate" spelling NAN!
7A: OTO...? Definitely not ---> Aha. That is, one-half of an "aha." I wrote in the doubled DATE letters, but still didn't understand that for the rest of the rebus answers, I'd need to ADD the word DOUBLE. Hence, me, too (hi, @pablonh), for thinking "OOf" for 11D, before the dimmer switch on the MENTAL light bulb adjusted itself. After that, easy and fun. So nicely constructed!

Grid DOOM: I wavered for quite a while over my last square, that A? or u? cross, ignorant of curries, Spanish, and the Simpsons (hi, @CDilly52)) - and went with the u.

Whatsername 10:42 AM  

Well this is what you always hope for on a Thursday. Absolutely delightful! The theme symmetry a thing of beauty and one of the sweetest revealers in recent memory. Thank you so much ladies for this clever, entertaining little jewel.

I loved that something was clearly up right outta the chute at 1A/D. Then by the time I got across the top section my eraser was beginning to complain about OVER USE. But after catching on, the rest was just great fun. This is the best kind of Crossword - the one where I fiercely resist cheating because I want the satisfaction of figuring it OUT on my own. The final entry was SONGS, just a killer clue there.

My only regret? Would’ve loved a fifth themer in the center. Ah well. Kyra and Sophia - y’all come back NOW - soon and with more like this please.

albatross shell 10:55 AM  

Hey those who like me did not know but filled in DOGGO from pupper. It's a thing called doggo lingo. From the system of tubes:
PUPPER means "Puppy." The term PUPPER is part of a phenomenon called Doggo Lingo (or Dog-Speak). Doggo Lingo is a simple, upbeat, joyful, and friendly way of talking that imitates how a dog might speak if it was able to.

Nancy 11:00 AM  

Carola (10:35) -- My thought process was identical to yours as regards ADDS, NAAN and OTTOMANS and I got the theme at the same point you did. Only in my case, I immediately added the "Double" in my mind and knew that the revealer had to be DOUBLE DOWN.

@Barbara S (9:01) -- As a less curious person than you, I avoided falling into the "eephus rabbit hole" because I never looked anything up. (A little learning is a dangerous thing, it's said.) Also, I already had the L of LOB from ALA, so all was clear. And I'm a sports fan.

@GILL: Not pronounced "Waxsacka"? Well, c'mon, @GILL, don't leave us (me) in suspense.

@Joe D (from late yesterday) -- Laughed out loud at your "irony" observation.

albatross shell 11:06 AM  

I assume you are right about the Spanish words or at worst out of date or the words have some regional variations, but some internet sites seem to agree with Rex. I wasn't looking but MyK is trying to learn Spanish, and her tutor does not teach dirty words so I read her your post and she checked it out on the inter-tubes.

Fido 11:23 AM  

Woof, woof, @albatross shell (10:55). Just letting you know that I don't say DOGGO and I don't say PUPPER either. I'm quite a sophisticated dog, despite my moniker (or so I've been told by Goldendoodles I highly respect) and I therefore don't use doggerel when I speak. There's room for all sorts in the dog park, though, so if your own canine companions use DOGGO or PUPPER, I promise not to judge them for it. (Can't help thinking that they might be Pekes, Poms or Toy Poodles, though.)

TJS 11:24 AM  

Great Thursday. Had I been solving on paper, I would have started by beginning 1 across outside the grid, but since I couldn't do that onine, I was forced to work through the whole North before getting the method. Like @Lewis, I was fine with the extra challenge.

One question: bops = song ??

Was going to respond to the "lob" question, but anan:9:36 covered it succinctly. Even got the Ted Williams reference in there.

MJB 11:34 AM  

The fictional Absalom I remember is the son of pastor Stephen Kumalo in the novel Cry the Beloved Country by Alan Paton. He leaves his country home for opportunities in Johannesburg and is doomed in the apartheid world of South Africa. The novel was made into a musical opera, Lost in the Stars, with music by Kurt Weill.

Joaquin 11:43 AM  

@Nancy (11:00) - OAXACA = Wah-Hah-Ca

Lisa 11:44 AM  

It's funny to me that Rex and no remembers this whole same rant on how to spell AY CARAMBA from Nov. 2020. Right away I recalled oh this again, it's not a U. I need to check but I think Rex had the same rant.

bocamp 11:48 AM  

DOGGO is also a Spelling Bee accepted word: "in hiding to avoid notice or detection —used chiefly in the phrase lie doggo". (MW)

Oaxaca: wä-ˈhä-kä (MW)

@Barbara S. (9:01 AM)

MLB Best Eephus Pitches: most of these are semi-lobs (some, just very slow curves). One true 'Eephus' at 42 secs in. (hi @Anonymous (9:36 AM))

As you alluded to, a horseshoe might be said to be pitched in a lob arc.

Also, in slo-pitch softball, all pitches must be lobs (rules vary wrt minimum and maximum height depending on the league or association)

td g -9

Peace ~ Empathy ~ Kindness to all 🕊

Unknown 11:51 AM  

Didn't care for PEES (supply center?) at all; just didn't see the trick.

This was a puz where I admire the constructor's virtuosity, but it was a struggle to get through it.

And the ARRAIGNMENT is not where you're "hauled" into court; it is the formal reading of the criminal charges. One might be arrested and brought into court while in custody, and so the clue kind of fits, but you could just as easily be given a summons to appear on a given date for your arraignment. As a lawyer, that proved tricky for me.

Barbara S. 11:53 AM  

@JD (9:36)
A hug.

@Anonymous (9:36)
Thanks for insight on the eephus, and the noun/verb distinction on LOB.

@Nancy (11:00)
You probably waste a lot less time than I do, but you miss finding gems like "eephus." And @Gill knows better than I, but we said Wa-HACK-a.

Nancy 11:59 AM  

Question, Mods -- Is tomorrow too soon to post my finished Act One lyric for the musical based on the subject of Monday's puzzle. After all, I did promise the blog I would finish it at some point. But since I got zapped last Tuesday for posting a spoiler, I wouldn't want to get zapped again. So if not tomorrow -- when will the Monday puzzle be considered safely out of spoiler range?

Anonymous 12:09 PM  

@9:00 a.m: I had never heard of the Blues Clues co-creator either but the crosses were fair so it’s all good. For the record, according to the Fame Meter, she is the eighth most famous Traci. The only one in the top ten that I recall previously having heard of is ranked #1-former pornographic actress Traci Lords.

Barbara S. 12:12 PM  

Let me revise that: Wa-HUCK-A.

jae 12:21 PM  

Medium. Nicely done. Like almost everyone PAYA was a WOE but count me among those who remembered CARAMBA from previous puzzles.

Fun Thurs., liked it.

jberg 12:22 PM  

@Carola and @Nancy, I went you one better (or maybe worse), toying seriously that two footstools might be OTTOMeN; but that seemed too improbably, so I thought a bit more, remembered ADDS, looked down to see DEERE and ESSENE, and Bob was my uncle.

But why isn't anyone talking about the doubling of ABSALOM? It could be a theme answer, but then I'M SORRY would have to be, as well. I'm guessing that they started out with the intent to put themers down the middle, but either couldn't work out the crosses and/or couldn't find a good theme answer for 52D. Ideally, ABSALOM should probably have come out -- but maybe they needed it for AY CARAMBA!

Very minor nit about the word "legendary" in the clue for XANADU. I'm pretty sure Coleridge just made it up while under the influence of whatever drug it was. (And if anyone is still questioning if honeydew is a thing, there it is at the end of the poem.)

Anoa Bob 12:43 PM  

For those calling this a rebus puzzle I ask "How is that so?" How does putting two letters instead of just one in a single square equate to the Latin word meaning "with or by way of things? I think it's time to do the honorable thing and purge "rebus" from our crossword lexicon. We of all people should respect the original definitions of Latin words and phrases. The unchanging, etched-in-stone nature of Latin is the reason it is the language of many disciplines like science, medicine and law. Stare decisis.

OAXACA (wah HAH kah) is fun to say! Like the names of several Mexican states, it comes from Nahuatl, the language of the Aztecs.

sixtyni yogini 12:50 PM  

Thought this one was brilliant. (After sloooooly getting it.)
And also appreciate Rex’s thorough critique. (YT thrilled just to figure theme out 😂. I DOUBLEDDOWN!)

chance2travel 1:02 PM  

Really wanted DOUBLE DATES for 2D, but didn't quite see how I was supposed to rebus it at first. ("double" in the first square? or "doubled"? Finally BOOT and LITEBEERS in the NE saved me.

Mistake from not reading the entire clue: 5D CONd, short for CONditional, because I only saw the word "If" in the clue, not the "and or but" Gave me dAtED for 21A and then dADED before JADED.

Mistake from not checking the cross: 66A DOGGy which resulted in MySSY that I never saw until the grid was full, but fixed easily.

Had both TAgOUT and TAPOUT sitting over AYCARuMBA because I haven't cared about the Simpsons for like at least 13 years.

I expected Rex to mention the appearance of so many double-letters that were not part of the theme.

I'm starting to recognize ESSENE as a thing. Pretty sure I won't remember LOGIA next time it appears. Same with PAYA. NAAN > PAYA imho.

As a finance person who discusses Year To Date results everyday, I kinda like seeing YTD when it appears.

Anonymous 1:06 PM  

Barbara S,
I'll stop after this, but the video bocamp has a link to has an eephus pitch in it. But be careful. As he correctly notes the only true eephus is the one at :42 in. All the other pitches are just lobbed curveballs.
It's worth seeing, because an eephus is so goofy, it's not just different in degree from other pitches, it's different in kind.

KRMunson 1:08 PM  

Great fun! Medium difficulty (I agree with OFL). No real snags but a few head scratches.

Kath320 1:13 PM  

Thought "if, and or but" were COND ('conditions')...

Joe Dipinto 1:22 PM  

I just watched 30 seconds of a YouTube compilation of Bart Simpson saying "Ay Caramba" and I'm ready to blow my brains out. He pronounces it carumba every single time, and he even has a logo for Ay Carumba Entertainment. So that was a very dumb clue to use.

Music For Voice, Guitar, Bass, Kneecaps, and Celesta

Teedmn 1:41 PM  

A MENTAL lapse in entering OTTOMANS made discovering the theme a tad harder than it should have been. Only when _Nt__ for 3d's SNORE caused me to look at 17A did I realize that I had left off the M, leaving OTTOANS. I then threw in the TT at 2D, said "Oh, EE would give me DEERE" and I was off.

I had splatzed in an L at the start of 25D, anticipating it would be Lord or Lady. AY CARAMBA confirmed loRd. REALLY?

SOckS before SONGS at 56D. Hilton "omni", anyone? I never checked to see if the themers were symmetrically placed so I had to rethink that one. And DOGGy before DOGGO.

And I see we're still SNARFing our food, har.

Thanks, Kyra and Sophia, nice job.

pabloinnh 1:50 PM  

@albatross shell-When I first started teaching Spanish (before the internet, before the motor car, before the wheel), kids always wanted to know the naughty words. Eventually I just gave them a word that would sound nasty with the right intonation, and that word was "sacapuntas". You can try it with various inflections, it works as a name you can call someone or just a general expression of dismay or disgust or anger or whatever. You'll never really offend anyone, because it means "pencil sharpener".

Anonymous 1:52 PM  

Just now, ca. 1:30, reading comments, and I see I was mentioned by Anonymous at 9:36 a.m., which confused me, since I had not posted, and haven't for some time now. Anonymous clarifies mentioning me at 9:50.

I'm no biblical scholar, and the term *logia* is new to me (it must be known well by any such scholar). Since I was asked to chime in ....

Jesus is of course historical, and I think few would dispute that he was executed by the Romans ca. AD 30. As I understand it, better scholars think that there were a number of teachings attributed to him (called the logia, as I learn today), and that they are more or less accurate as recorded in the Gospels. What is least plausible is what the Gospel authors used to fill in the historical narrative of his early life, and his afterlife, if we look at the resurrection. So many of the details of his youth are so typical of divinities in the Near East and elsewhere that early oral and written accounts seemed to require them. Thus such births need a miraculous sign, and we are given the star or comet or whatever of Bethlehem. They need some sort of affirmation or testimony of astrologers, and we have the Wise Men. Divinities, like the Dalai Lama today, need to give some extraordinary evidence of early wisdom, and the 12-year-old Jesus dazzles the Jewish scholars in Jerusalem (after he had been somehow abandoned by Mary and Joseph, even if the former and perhaps the latter realized he was the son of God!). There are problems with the Resurrection narrative even according to a literal account of the Gospel stories--whoever appeared to the disciples and others was not readily identified with Jesus, or he appeared in various "forms."

That said, I'm happy to acknowledge the validity of the logia, or most of them. I would not be surprised if some of the details of Jesus' trial are accurate also, but here I am guessing.

Anon. i.e. Poggius

Jeremy 1:56 PM  

Haha! I totally fell into the AY CARUMBA trap! I solve on (digital) paper, so I don't have any answer checker, and I was confident that I finished this puzzle until I read Rex's post. To which, I guess, my only response can be AY CARAMBA!

I liked this puzzle a lot. Really nice "aha" moment when I finally got the theme all the way in the SE. The puzzle was hard before that moment and easy after that moment. Which is fun in my book.

KnittyContessa 1:58 PM  

Add me to the PAYA/AYCARAMBA Natick. I'm pretty sure this is the first I've heard DOGGO and pupper. Other than that, an enjoyable Thursday.

Ben 2:19 PM  

Made two of the same mistakes as Rex -- CARuMBA for CARAMBA, and, inexplicably, CONt for CONJ

GILL I. 2:29 PM  

@albatross 11:06. Too bad "MyK" isn't being tutored in Spanish swear words...They can come in handy. May I suggest learning not to say "coger" in Mexico? It means to grab in Spain but in Mexico (and other SA countries) it is the act that @Rex finds disdainful. I would also be careful using "cajon" (set of drawers) It, too, can mean that awful thing that will bore fruit..... Fun isn't it?
@Nancy...Now you know how to pronounce OAXACA. We have some smarty pants here. Now I dare you to pronounce Popocatepetl...The active volcano outside of Mexico City.....Najuatl is fun.

alex 2:50 PM  

Help, please-- it's never before happened that I finish a puzzle and, after dwelling on it for a few minutes, still don't understand one of the clues-- why is the answer to "Supply center?" "PEES"..... a complete mystery to me

Sixty in Sixty 2:54 PM  

Go read Rex blog from november 20 2020. Rex DNFed on AY CARUMBA. It was discussed here ad nauseum. Rex felt he learned his lesson as did the rest of us. It's like Deja Vu here. I'm pretty old and my memory is shot but I guess I'm better than Rex and you lot.

Nancy 3:09 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
jae 3:09 PM  

@Barbara S. - I actually ran across EEPHUS as an answer in a crossword recently. I triple checked the crosses because I was positive it was wrong. I did not look it up at the time so thanks to @bocamp for the explanations and link. I don’t remember the specific puzzle but it was probably from either the NYT Fri. archives, one of Croce’s Freestyle puzzles, or one the the metas that come out weekly/monthly.
I realize that this does not narrow it down much.

Anonymous 3:14 PM  

@Alex Supply is __pp__, i.e. there are two PEEs (letter P) in the middle of the word supply.

Katie Dyer 3:19 PM  

And apparently today is National Repeat Day

Roger 3:22 PM  

Two of the letter P in the middle (i.e., center) of the word "suPPly"

Anonymous 3:43 PM  


Wanderlust 3:45 PM  

Two of the letter P in SUPPLY.

albatross shell 4:04 PM  

The center 2 letters of supply are the 2 P's. A clue about the word supply, not about the meaning of the word.

No. I am not much one for baby talk to pets or babies. Site was just an explanation of the clue and answer that nobody seem to have any idea about. Googled pupper and got there.
My dogs have not always been purebreds but have been like collies, labs, huskies and one black and tan and white cocker-dachshund looking dog that had been abandoned on the top of a cliff as a puppy. She was scared and was afraid to run away or come close.

Z 4:57 PM  

Anoa Bob - This is a rebus puzzle because “rebus” has a special meaning in crossword jargon. Just like “steal” has a special meaning in baseball, “flick” has a special meaning on Ultimate, and ”orgasm” has a special meaning in cocktails.

@albatross shell 8:54/last night - Hey, that was Merriam-Webster’s example, not mine. I was hoping they’d go with Alanis Morrisette and really upset the coincidenters. Personally, I try to use the term only for what M-W describes as “dramatic irony,” but I understand people who use it “incorrectly” most of the time.

@Albatross Shell 11:06 - As @Gill I mentioned later, there’s lots of variation in Spanish dialects, even within the Iberian peninsula, let alone globally. I’m sure I shared this before, but the Dem candidate for Senate sent out a flyer describing himself as “Concha Cal,” a “concha” being a Mexican pastry, but also slang for “vagina” in other Central American countries. We had quite the bitter chuckle when “Concha Cal” was later outed for having an affair.

A Moderator 5:13 PM  

@Nancy - Spoiler Alerts never hurt.

Aelurus 5:43 PM  

Started in the NW and by the time I got to the NE knew there be rebuses there (yay, rebuses) but, unlike @Rex, didn’t know where, so scanned all the acrosses instead of infilling. By the time I got to the SE I got it at 66A, DOGGO, so could immediately fill in REFUGEES (had everything but EE), INNS, ATTY, knowing all doubles were different.

Returned to the NW and started the infilling anew, much easier now! Was halfway there when the light bulb went off again, for a DOUBLE aha aha! DOUBLE DATES, DOUBLE OVER, and so on for the four DOWN answers. Wow, great theme.

Still, I Naticked at the third A in AY CARAMBA, because I’ve always pronounced it AY CARUMBA and the cross at 29D was equally opaque, not having heard of hoof-meat curry so PUYA looked just as correct as PAYA.

New to me: ARGUS (figured it was EYE at 50D but needed all crosses), ESSENE, CELESTAS, LOGIA.

Thank you, Kyra and Sophia, for a very clever, slowly evolving Thursday workout with (mostly) double fun (it’s that curry...).

@Barbara S. 9:01 am – Liked the quote, though in italics I silently added, You have to go slow, breathe, don’t stop, get your head under, pick your head up, breathe some more, keep going, repeat, and then wait. Just don’t want to be waiting while your head is underwater. :)

@CDilly 52 9:42 am – I’ve only seen one episode of The Simpsons, the one where Lisa is in a crossword tournament and Will Shortz has a voice cameo. Just checked, and Merl Reagle is part of it too.

@Nancy 10:22 am - My thought too about the clue for IDIOMATIC (51A) - your description said it perfectly.

@Gill I. 10:27 am – Loved your post. My mis-fit for 7D was “carillons.” Oh, and your other post at 2:29 pm. How do you pronounce Popocatepetl?

Nancy 5:55 PM  

Thanks, Mod. Tomorrow then, with spoiler alert.

gpm 6:34 PM  

Am I the only one incensed by BOT appearing *twice* in the grid (9D and 10A). I'm relatively new to crosswords but this seems like a faux pas in construction...

This said, I also liked the theme... Especially the DOGGO.

Eniale 6:35 PM  

Any Thursday I manage to do the whole thing without a DNF I count myself lucky and don't complain about the ones I got by sheer luck! Lie DOGGO is what I do....

And @CDilly 52 you're not the only one who's never watched the Simpsons; I put myself at a severe disadvantage XWord-wise by not watching TV or listening to any music other than classical, not to mention the humiliation when I can't sing when someone brings out the karaoke machine.

Anonymous 6:41 PM  

I'm surprised at the trouble people had with AYCARAMBA. I don't know any Spanish but I do have a general idea of pronunciation of western European languages. An a tends to be pronounced as in father, and a u as in foot or boot*. So it would never in a million years have occurred to me that something pronounced "carumba" would be spelled any way other than CARAMBA.


* Yes, there is also the French u which is like the German u with an umlaut.

JC66 6:46 PM  


10A is B(OO)T.

Barbara S. 6:55 PM  

I just got a chance to watch @bocamp's eephus pitch link (11:48). The pitch at the 42-second mark looks so loony that surely few batters would swing at it. So I wonder about the purpose of such pitches...unless a talented pitcher could aim such a high-arcing ball so that it goes through the strike zone (resulting in a called strike).

@jae (3:09 PM)
Wow, that was a daring choice. I have a feeling that this commentariat would go mad if "eephus" appeared in a puzzle (unless it appears tomorrow). Look at the furor over AY CARAMBA (much better known).

@Aelurus (5:43 PM)
Good practical advice, that!

Anoa Bob 7:32 PM  

Z @4:57 PM, the point I'm trying to make is that Latin is used in many disciplines specifically because it is a "dead" language and Latin words and phrases can be used without worrying about how "special meaning" can develop and alter their definitions in the same way that they can in a "living" and hence constantly evolving and changing language. Latin is used because its meanings don't change with fashion or whims. "Rebus" has always meant and should always continue to mean "by way of or with things".

The idea that just because we are crossworders we can take a Latin word like "rebus" with a clear definition established and unchanged for over two thousand years and alter it to suit our ad hoc wishes strikes me as disrespectful and even arrogant.

I've always thought using "rebus" to describe a puzzle with multiple letters in one square was wrong but didn't feel strongly enough about it to speak out. My attitude changed when I watched the PBS NOVA program "A to Z: the First Alphabet". The linguists and philologists on the show used ancient tablets, scrolls and documents to show the development from pictographs and hieroglyphics to abstract letters of an alphabet. Central to this process is the "Rebus Principle" where pictures and symbols are no longer used for their literal meanings but for their sounds and how these sounds then eventually become the abstract letters of an alphabet.

So I think "rebus" has been appropriated by us from its original Latin meaning to a completely different meaning in crossword puzzles. And isn't it ironic that a group that would be expected to insist on being exact with word meanings is using "rebus" in a blatantly inexact way.

Besides, why do we even need a special word for a puzzle with multiple letters in one square. What's the big deal? Just call them what they are---multiple letter puzzles. Or for today, call it a double letter puzzle. Or recently, a hidden letter puzzle. Don't try to make them seem more sophisticated than what they are by using a fancy-schmancy Latin word, especially when it's being using incorrectly.

Anonymous 8:39 PM  

Anon Bob,

Z 8:43 PM  

@Anoa Bob - Interesting take. I see your point but I disagree on several fronts. First, Merriam-Webster says “rebus” as used outside of our little crossworld has been an English word since 1605. So it’s not a Latin word we’re appropriating (I do agree that we are appropriating it, with the connotation of theft being appropriate).
I also think there is a likely etymological basis for using “rebus” the way we use it. There are puzzles where an actual rebus works as a representation of the letters in the grid (for example, the color red to represent the letters r-e-d), so “rebus” is more apt. It seems to me a natural evolution from “I put in the letters rather than the pictograph in the puzzle” to “any puzzle taking more than one letter in a square is a ‘rebus’ puzzle” to “any non-standard letter entry pattern is a ‘rebus’ puzzle.”
Finally, I think And isn't it ironic that a group that would be expected to insist on being exact with word meanings is actually opposite of what happens in crosswords. It is the very inexact proclivities of word meanings that allow crosswords to be something more than just trivia exercises. “Dings on a record” and “Inits. on a trip” for example, both tease the solver with the inexactitude of word meanings, what kind of record, what kind of trip.
I see your point, but to me it is as I said earlier, “rebus” is crossword jargon and to me that is not a big deal. It is just another example of how language users use language.

Anonymous 9:08 PM  

Anona Bob,
Z doesn’t get it. You’re 100 % correct.
The best part is his post of 4:57 where he is so self unaware that he chooses to use flick as a specialized argot in Ultimate when the term flick is used in Ultimate precisely as its used everywhere else: a small movement.
Perfect for a small brain.

Unknown 9:10 PM  

If you go back ten years ago, you'll find a doozy of a puzzle, on an order of magnitude tougher than today's . . . . .

JD 9:14 PM  

@Poggius, Maybe God has many sons and Jesus was just the over achieving Jewish one.

Nancy 9:36 PM  

@Z and @Anoa Bob: Rebus puzzles for me have always been a matter of writing multiple letters in a square -- even back in the days when pictorial rebuses seem to have been a lot more common than they are now. Why? Because I'm not all that great a drawer, that's why. Do I really want to draw an EAR or a CAT or an ARM or a WIG four or five times in a puzzle? It's much quicker and simpler to write in the letters, even if you have to squeeze them in the square. A picture of a CAT would have to be squeezed in, too. And then I'd have the added problem of knowing what it was I'd drawn. And therefore for me, there's no meaningful distinction between a rebus that can be drawn and a rebus that can't. So it's not something I'd ever complain about.

albatross shell 1:44 AM  

Or the troublemaker.

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