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Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Constructor: Amanda Rafkin and Ross Trudeau

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: E-READER (38A: Kindle, e.g. ... or a hint to this puzzle's theme?) — author puns where one word in a familiar phrase is changed to an author's name by the simple addition of an "E":

Theme answers:
  • CRYING WOLFE (17A: Clamoring for "The Bonfire of the Vanities"?)
  • WILDE PITCH (24A: Selling someone on "The Importance of Being Earnest"?)
  • TOOLE CHEST (50A: Spot to store "A Confederacy of Dunces"?)
  • PEACHY KEENE (62A: Positive review of a Nancy Drew mystery?)
Word of the Day: John Kennedy Toole (50A) —
John Kennedy Toole
 (/ˈtl/; December 17, 1937 – March 26, 1969) was an American novelist from New OrleansLouisiana, whose posthumously published novel A Confederacy of Dunces won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. He also wrote The Neon Bible. Although several people in the literary world felt his writing skills were praiseworthy, Toole's novels were rejected during his lifetime. After suffering from paranoia and depression due in part to these failures, he died by suicide at the age of 31. [...] Dunces is a picaresque novel featuring the misadventures of protagonist Ignatius J. Reilly, a lazy, obese, misanthropic, self-styled scholar who lives at home with his mother. It is hailed for its accurate depictions of New Orleans dialects. Toole based Reilly in part on his college professor friend Bob Byrne. Byrne's slovenly, eccentric behavior was anything but professorial, and Reilly mirrored him in these respects. The character was also based on Toole himself, and several personal experiences served as inspiration for passages in the novel. While at Tulane, Toole filled in for a friend at a job as a hot tamale cart vendor, and worked at a family owned and operated clothing factory. Both of these experiences were later adopted into his fiction. /// Toole submitted Dunces to publisher Simon & Schuster, where it reached editor Robert Gottlieb. Gottlieb considered Toole talented but felt his comic novel was essentially pointless. Despite several revisions, Gottlieb remained unsatisfied, and after the book was rejected by another literary figure, Hodding Carter Jr., Toole shelved the novel. Suffering from depression and feelings of persecution, Toole left home on a journey around the country. He stopped in Biloxi, Mississippi, to end his life [...]. Some years later, his mother brought the manuscript of Dunces to the attention of novelist Walker Percy, who ushered the book into print. In 1981, Toole was posthumously awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. (wikipedia)
• • •

This started out looking like it was just going to be a bunch of mildly cringey author puns, which I guess it is, at its core, but those puns end up having a consistency that tightens and elevates things above mere punniness. Wow, that is an awful-looking word, "punniness"—shades of "puniness" but also "penis" and "piss" and "pus." Sorry, good morning, let's start over. Punniness! There's one crucial problem with the theme and that's the revealer—this theme is about E-writers. I, you, we are the E-READERs, is that it? The clue should have at least tried to make sense of how the revealer is supposed to make sense, exactly. Revealer clues really matter, and everyone just bailed out on this one. "A hint to this puzzle's theme?" Well, I guess, yeah, but come on, say more? Give me some of that clever punniness you seem to like so much. The author set is solid; I wonder about the longevity of John Kennedy Toole's fame. He basically has the one famous book. He died the year I was born, so we're going *back* now. Do adolescents and young adults still get that book pressed on them by their parents? That's what happened to me when I was a teenager (I haven't read it since). He had such a strange, sad, short career (see "Word of the Day," above). Anyway, he stands out today as the one writer with by far the least substantial career. The others were prolific, iconic even. If nothing else, this puzzle taught me a way to remember how to spell Carolyn KEENE (not KEANE)'s name—it's the real word ("keen") + E. She's PEACHY KEENE! Such a useful mnemonic. 

Before the theme became completely evident, things didn't look so great. CRYING WOLFE is kind of a shrug of a pun, and the fill up there wasn't exactly promising (REW ETAIL ESL AAA etc.):

But as I say, the theme smartened up, and the fill did even out a bit. GAWKER and EXTROVERT and PET PIG give the puzzle a cool weird energy (the energy of an EXTROVERT with a PET PIG reading GAWKER on her phone at an outdoor cafe in Manhattan circa 2013, I guess), and I really like the way USVSTHEM looks in the grid ([GAWKER reader looks up from phone]: "It's US VS THEM, pig!" "Oink!"). I had trouble getting started in the NW, where OFFS, "FARGO" and FRYER all had clues I couldn't get my head around, and where (ugh) END was the back END of a cross-reference that started somewhere way down at the bottom of the grid (61A: With 14-Down, what "Fin" might mean). The upside-down cross-ref is the worst. Like, I just started, please don't make me go searching the grid for the front end of this clue just so I can get a stupid 3-letter word, please! Weirdly, the only other part of the grid that gave me similar trouble was the NW's symmetrical counterpart, where I wrote in "HOLD UP!" at 59A: "Now wait just a second!" ("HOLD IT!"), which Really affected my ability to make sense of the crosses on those two wrong letters. Also, despite my Ph.D., my job, my frequent teaching of prosody, I had trouble getting to FEET from 69A: Units of poetry. I, like every other rube, probably, was thinking of more substantial units (lines, stanzas, etc.). But no, we're down to the atomic level here with the metrical units themselves, the FEET. An IAMB is a foot. So is a TROCHEE, a SPONDEE, a DACTYL, an ANAPEST (feel free to add allllll of these to your wordlists, constructors). Anyway, sometimes the puzzle throws you a softball and you still absolutely whiff. Ah well.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld 

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Samodelka 6:26 AM  

For “They are a bit of a stretch” I had Yoga pants, and still like it better than Yoga poses.

Lewis 6:46 AM  

So, how the brain works… I was thinking about this puzzle’s “name with an e at the end” theme when WELLES, as in Orson, popped in my head. That made me think of “more than one well”, which begat “Well, well, well”, which drew a chuckle. Then, as this reverie continued, “Wells Fargo” shouted out and I remembered FARGO was in the puzzle, and for a moment I was in synchrony with the universe.

Ahh, only in crosswords. The theme in today’s offering not only gave me that ommmm moment, it drew my awe at how clever and tight it is. When it hit whichever constructor it came to, they must have gotten very, very excited, especially when they found enough authors whose names worked.

I liked all the animals that showed up one way or the other in the grid – WOLF, ELK, RAT, HEN, PIG, OTTER, and even a backward EEL. Then there was the mini-theme of double E’s (7), and I liked having FEET and STINKER share the space.

Thank you, Amanda and Ross, for my lovely little brain explosion, and for this very well crafted puzzle, which was such a pleasure to uncover!

kitshef 7:15 AM  

Anyone else for Piglet before PIGPEN? That slowed things down.

Ah, the insufficiently famous themers. Don’t know who either KEENE or TOOLE is, so that’s 50% of your themers.

Also new to me: OSHEA, GAWKER, OAK LEAF. That’s a lot for a Wednesday, so this played more like a Friday. But I imagine most people will know at least a couple of those five.

Hand up for @Samodelka's PantS before POSES.

@Lewis - also a whole class of animals, (r)AVES,

albatross shell 7:24 AM  

EREADER KAPOW!! Or more accurately E-author. All have an extra E at the end or FIN. HAR, pretty pretty good. Rex never noticed. Meshes nicely with CARTE also.

And a WILDE PITCH left over from yesterday plus the US VS THEM echoing yesterday. And not to modest to reference my late comment from yesterday that I wrote before doing this puzzle. Notice "the end". How about that?

I did think GEE if it were HOWLIN' WOLFE then the might be authors repurposed into e-musicians. That would be A T(r)EAT of insane proportions. PEACHY KEENE, the befamed befallen ADELE (or ENYA) of strippers.

HOLD IT, I think I just left the ballpark. Which puzzle are we discussing?

@Anoa Bob
Thought I spotted a near albie but I no longer am sure what one is. It might never be seen again. YOGAPOSES.

thfenn 7:29 AM  

I thought it was hard to get a grip on this one but liked it more at the end than during the fill. Went with HOLDon, Piglet, and LIFErafT first, and stubbornly held on to them, not to mention festS before RAVES. But the one I hated giving up on was having rye before SIP, preferring my old fashioneds that way. SEAOTTERS are very impressive creatures, saw one just the other day. Learned something about FEET as well, only got that from the downs. USVSTHEM always feels to me like more of a made up conflict with quite poorly defined sides, typically demarcated by ethnicity or locale or heritage or race or some other difference that we fear, hardly a battle with clearly defined sides - just didn't like that fill. But in the end, this was a puzzle I enjoyed solving and that's why I do them, so today's gets a win.

Son Volt 7:35 AM  

Cute theme - fill could have had a little more crunch for mid week. Don’t like ETAIL and EREADER together and the short segmented sections of the grid were clunky - WHO, HIS, REW etc. Overall though the puzzle was saved by SEA OTTERS, US VS THEM, PLATH and other mid length good stuff - although still thinking about Coarse/EARTHY.

Enjoyable Wednesday solve.

Frantic Sloth 7:52 AM  

Another romper room grid. Straightforward and swiftly slain. Nothing terribly shiny, but at least I didn't notice any FOC.*

*Fill Of Controversy

The theme, I guess, is common phrases punned with various authors' homophonic names.
Rex is gonna love it. 🤣🤣🤣

I didn't mind it. High praise. But at least there were SEA OTTERS!

Makes me wanna break into song:

EIFFEL EARTHY and mirthy and GEE 🎶

Well, that's enough outta me.


Renee 7:57 AM  

I had FRIES for FRYER at 3d until coming across what I knew to be Mork at 23a. I also had PIGLET for 47d (PIGPET). It was a nice "Christmas in July" moment singing Jingle Bells in my head to remember we go "OER" the fields, while laughing all the way (ha, ha, ha...64a).

mmorgan 8:01 AM  

Liked it a lot, not bothered by revealer but Rex has a point. Didn’t know KEENE but it was eminently gettable from crosses and context. Fun puz!

Barbara S. 8:01 AM  

CLUE: Readers’ Digest version of “Our Man in Havana”?

Like Rex, I thought this was tight and neat. I also had the EREADER/Ewriter? thought, but resolved it I guess in the same way he did: we solvers were reading Es on the ends of words that don’t usually have them. I wondered a bit about TOOLE CHEST – are tool chests a thing? Toolshed, toolbox, tool chest?? Could be – I just don’t know. Some extra non-E authors were hanging around: Sylvia PLATH and ERMA Bombeck.

Like @Lewis, I noticed the proliferation of animals. (I was particularly drawn to PET PIG.) And there were lots of cool paired answers: LEE jeans with RIPS, architects EIFFEL and I.M. PEI, singer/songwriters ISAAC Hayes and ADELE, extra-terrestrials MORK and KARA, petroleum-related OILS and GASES.


David Grenier 8:02 AM  

I *really* enjoyed this one, even though I'm a philistine and have never read any of those books and could not remember who wrote them. The books are all famous enough and the authors last names are ones I recognize (aside from Keene, but its a common enough name) that it works for me. I didn't even get the revealer until reading Rex's review this morning, and now I like it even more.

It was just the right amount of difficult for me. Not too many unknown proper names or obscure crosswordese I as a newer solver have not mastered yet.

My absolute favorite bit had to be 10 down, just because I learned a new interesting fact AND SEA OTTERs are adorable!

I can never see the word ADROIT without thinking of an episode of Cheers where Sam learns the word and later tells Woody, "Woody, don't be such a droit."

The only clue I really hated was that stupid 61-across cross reference that I just couldn't parse. I kept thinking it was asking what FIN END meant, and I kept thinking "they mean the same damn thing."

But otherwise I loved it.

Barbara S. 8:07 AM  

Today’s excerpt is from the work of NORTHROP FRYE, born July 14, 1912.

“The particular myth that's been organizing this talk, and in a way the whole series, is the story of the Tower of Babel in the Bible. The civilization we live in at present is a gigantic technological structure, a skyscraper almost high enough to reach the moon. It looks like a single world-wide effort, but it's really a deadlock of rivalries; it looks very impressive, except that it has no genuine human dignity. For all its wonderful machinery, we know it's really a crazy ramshackle building, and at any time may crash around our ears. What the myth tells us is that the Tower of Babel is a work of human imagination, that its main elements are words, and that what will make it collapse is a confusion of tongues. All had originally one language, the myth says. The language is not English or Russian or Chinese or any common ancestor, if there was one. It is the language that makes Shakespeare and Pushkin authentic poets, that gives a social vision to both Lincoln and Gandhi. It never speaks unless we take the time to listen in leisure, and it speaks only in a voice too quiet for panic to hear. And then all it has to tell us, when we look over the edge of our leaning tower, is that we are not getting any nearer heaven, and that it is time to return to earth.”
(From The Educated Imagination, 1962)

QUOTER’S NOTE: The Educated Imagination poses and then answers the question: What is the point of studying literature? If anyone’s of a mind to pursue Frye’s ideas, here’s a useful link:
The 5-part CBC Massey Lecture series on which the book is based

Frantic Sloth 8:16 AM  

Looks like we're behind on the comments being posted. Always creates a situation rife with parrot possibilities. Yum!

Oh, duh. EREADER. Did I notice the authors' names were festooned with Es? Guess.

chuck w 8:24 AM  

"A Confederacy of Dunces" is hilarious. Rex seems awfully dismissive about it.

rjkennedy98 8:38 AM  

Is Rex serious with his rant about Toole? So what if he only has one famous book? Its the same case with Ralph Ellison, but I bet you aren't going to hear Rex complain about him in the grid. In fact, Ralph Ellison purposefully did not write another novel because he thought that all great American novelists had only one great book: Melville's Moby-Dick, Twain's The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby, ect.

@Barbara S. Love the quote from Northrop Frye. One of the great literary critics of all time!

pmdm 8:57 AM  

Started out feeling like a PPP fest (especially with PPP themers) but somehow I filled in the grid with only one bit of research (TOOLE). Some of the PPP (such as IMPEI) has been in puzzles so frequently I actually knew how to fill in the entry. So a surprising thumbs up for me.

Kitshef: Hasn't OSHEA (actress Milo) been in puzzles frequently? How else could I have known it? I guess I remembered it because it is so close to the initials of my former employer (OSHA).

Unknown 9:05 AM  


bocamp 9:13 AM  

Thx, Amanda & Ross for a 'tasty' Wednes. puz. 'Twas more than a SIP.

Med solve. Pretty much on the right wavelength for this one.

Good start in the NW, down and around, ending up at WILD PITCH.

Not sure I got the theme exactly: something to do with READing authors whose names end with E??

Anyhoo, a very enjoyable trip.

Coincidence: was just watching a Nancy Drew movie before embarking on the puz.

yd 0

Peace ~ Empathy ~ Tolerance ~ Health ~ Kindness to all 🕊

Cankee Yanuck 9:15 AM  

Didn't even notice that the changes to all the phrases added an E, making the revealer more relevant, but it's not unusual for me to miss theme nuances. But somehow my brain produced Oscar for the Hayes clue, which left me wondering for far too long if there were other poets named Sylvia (Plate, Plats?) whose final letter of their last name could follow an R.

Went back and forth between HOLD on and HOLD up until I saw RINSE, and then spent more than a few seconds thinking that there had been a real screwup with 57 down reversing the words AT EAT. (I usually do the puzzles when they come out the night before and blame my brain glitches on being too tired. This one I did when I woke up a little before 5 am, so I will blame them on.. being too tired.)

Love SEAOTTERS, so that was a smile as well as a gimme. Not sure why ETAIL seems worse to me than ETAILER, but it does. FRiEs before FRYER, Bent before BIAS, blues before ISLEY, but otherwise felt like a solid Wednesday.

TKL 9:17 AM  

Glad to see "A Confederacy of Dunces" lives on.

RooMonster 9:29 AM  

Hey All !
Back from vacay, anyone miss me? Apparently, last SunPuz did. 😁

Flew to NE Pennsylvania for my Grandma's 90th Birthday Party. She's in amazingly good shape, save for being almost blind. It's sad, but, she had a good time!

Anyway, liked this puz. Simple, but effective theme. Not terrible on the fill, a few Ughs like the ones Rex mentioned. US VS THEM took a second to see. Thought it might be Ultimate for a bit (and then was gonna ask @Z if it's really that competitive). Had HOLDon at first. Man, that could've been a lot of things, HOLD on, up, IT, me (Har).

Puz starts OFF with two F's, so it's AOK in my Book. (My Book, get it? 😁)

Five F's

GILL I. 9:31 AM  

So penis, piss and pus walk into a bar. Guess who they met? GAWKER, EXTROVERT and PET PIG. A SIP of an old-fashion is on the house.
Did you like this you ask? Well, yes. You give me some FARGO and a bunch of animals and I will pump my TOOLE CHEST with ADELE and use my FEET to do a PEACHY KEENE SALSA.
Only 20 LIFE BOATs on the Titanic? What a STINKER.

What? 9:35 AM  

“To say things! To know how to say things! To know how to exist through the written voice and the intellectual image! That’s what life is about: The rest is just men and women, imagined loves and fictitious vanities, excuses born of poor digestion and forgetting, people squirming beneath the great abstract boulder of a meaningless blue sky, the way insects do when you lift a stone.” Fernando Pessoa
From a book review in today’s Times.
Description of a crossword constructer?

EdFromHackensack 9:37 AM  

I’ve read all the books listed except the Nancy Drews (I did read a healthy amount of Hardy Boys), so I was able to pick up on the theme early. All 3 were GREAT books, btw. had PIGlEt before PIGPEN, YOGAPantS before YOGAPOSES and almost entered RIbS before RIPS. I remember when ERMA Bombeck passed away (1996!) and feeling sad partially because she was an easy crossword gimme that I thought would be no longer. but here we are 25 years later and she’s still going strong :)

Nancy 9:38 AM  

Clever and fun. And literary, too. I loved it. The sort of thing you might wish you'd thought up yourself, only you didn't. I have a hunch that the theme answers may have occurred to the constructors before the revealer. E READER skirts the issue of actually adding an E to the phrase, but it gets the book aspect in, and it's very cute.

My feeling is that all the book titles and authors are well enough known to be completely fair to everyone, but I could be wrong. As I'm happily filling in what for me was a delightful grid, I'm wondering how I would have felt if the names in the theme answers had been rappers instead of authors? Would I be CRYING like a stuck PET PIG? Quite likely.

Only a couple of hiccups for me. BENT before BIAS for "predisposition". USVSTHEM is a real DOOK and I felt pretty baffled when I had only USVS. And my problem with TOOLE CHEST wasn't the TOOLE, it was the CHEST. All I could think of was "tool kit" and "tool box", neither of which fit.

I had fun with this. Hope everyone else did too.

Zygotic 9:44 AM  

I’m in the PNW before heading to Colorado to play in Nationals and the puzzles this week had made it very easy to ignore them. This puzzle is such an improvement.

Hand up for wanting YOGA Pants, but SEA OTTERS don’t wear them, so no writeover needed (we went kayaking in the south Puget Sound yesterday, had a seal follow us for a bit but no SEA OTTERs). The clue is fine for YOGA POSES, but so much better for YOGA Pants. I found all the longish downs fun. EXTROVERT, STINKER, PET PIG, even OAK LEAF, seem fresh. There was enough of interest that flaws in the short fill (well, “flaws” isn’t the right word) didn’t grate. That’s always the balancing act with theme puzzles, isn’t it. A themed puzzles allow for a more wide open grid and fewer short word pitfalls. But themed puzzles are going to have more short fill so the long answers need to pop enough so that the solver doesn’t end up focusing on filling in ESL and AAA and ETAIL for the three thousandth time. For me this puzzle succeeded whereas yesterday’s puzzle did not.

Was Rex actually “dismissive” of TOOLE? I see a couple of comments saying as much, but re-reading Rex I don’t see anything dismissive about what he wrote. Rex “wonder(s) about (TOOLE’s) longevity” and observes that TOOLE has “the least substantial career.” I’ve been known to spend some time in bookstores and I do see A Confederacy of Dunces on the shelf occasionally, but only occasionally. I think it is more than fair to wonder how widely read and known TOOLE is today. That’s just the nature of fame, even literary fame. Yesterday’s news is tomorrow’s fish and chip paper. It’s not as if Rex wrote that the Pulitzer was undeserved. That would have been dismissive to me.

@kitshef & @pmdm - You got the arched eyebrow @kitshef, because you solve as many NYTX as I do and I know I learned O’SHEA mostly from crosswords. I feel like his last appearance has been in the past two weeks.

F.W. Dixon 9:48 AM  

One interesting factoid...

Unlike the other authors, Carolyn Keene did not exist. It was just a fictitious name slapped onto the Nancy Drew series by the Stratemeyer Syndicate that churned out the books. Many of them were written by Mildred Wirt Benson (initially paid $125 per book), but also by other stringers brought on by the syndicate, including Leslie McFarlane, James Duncan Lawrence, Walter Karig, Nancy Axelrad, Patricia Doll, Charles S. Strong, Alma Sasse, Wilhelmina Rankin, George Waller Jr., Margaret Fischer, and Susan Wittig Albert - among others.

Some of these same people wrote the Hardy Boys books.

Hard to fit all those names into a 15 across grid, though.

Anonymous 10:06 AM  

HOLD IT. I have a quibble with 7D. Logicians distinguish between validity and soundness. A deductively valid argument is one in which *if* all the premises are true, then the conclusion must be true, whereas a sound argument is a strong argument in the sense that the premises actually are true, making the conclusion also true. One can construct valid arguments that are quite obviously not sound, e.g., All men are immortal, Socrates is a man, therefore Socrates is immortal — a valid argument (if you grant the first two premises, the conclusion necessarily follows) but clearly not a sound one, since the first premise is dubious, to say the least. People may routinely use sound and valid interchangeably in everyday speech, but I expect a bit more precision from the NYT crossword.

Pedantic objection aside, I enjoyed this puzzle.

C.G. Jung 10:15 AM  

Though deemed acceptable today because of common usage, #1D EXTROVERT was originally a corruption of the word "extravert" - "extra" being rooted in the Latin term for "to the outside," while "intro" in "introvert" is rooted to the Latin term for "to the inside." Hence, extraverts look outward while introverts look inward.

A 10:15 AM  

Why O Why O Why, Woody Guthrie, born July 14, 1912

Well, this could’ve been a nice Wednesday with a great theme and little to complain about. But NO. Thanks HEAPS, whoever came up with the clue for 21A. Maybe we could have seen it coming ‘right off the bat’ at 1A’s OFFS, but why oh why did LIFEBOAT have to be clued that way? Why not “It may be inflatable” or some phrase that doesn’t conjure images of needless suffering and death? “It hardly bears thinking about that if there had been sufficient boats that night…every soul aboard could have been saved, since it was two-and-a-half hours after she struck that she tilted her massive stern into the heavens and sank by the head, taking with her all that were unprovided for.” -Arthur Rostron, Captain of the rescue vessel Carpathia, in ‘Home From The Sea’, 1931

According to, the number of LIFEBOATs planned for the ship was 48; the number was reduced to make the decks look less cluttered. Photos and facts about the Titanic’s musicians, all of whom perished.

The site also notes a silver lining. “Among the stories of people having lucky escapes in changing plans to travel on Titanic is that of the London Symphony Orchestra. Booked to travel on the ship on their way to a three week tour of the US and Canada, rescheduled dates meant that they sailed a week earlier than planned, aboard the SS Baltic.”

Frank Lynch 10:18 AM  

Rex thinks Carolyn Keene was prolific? Does he not know that "she" and Franklin W. Dixon were as fake as Betty Crocker, a made-up name for a pool of writers?

Zygotic 10:21 AM  

@Anon 10:06 - but I expect a bit more precision from the NYT crossword. Uh,… You have it exactly backwards. Indeed, I often feel as though Shortz takes special delight in using non-technical clues to annoy experts. That’s probably not true, but the NYTX is as likely to use the vernacular as a technically accurate clue. Indeed, playing with a word’s multiple possible meanings is what makes cluing entertaining to many of us. cf stretch.

bocamp 10:21 AM  

@F.W. Dixon (9:48 AM) re: Carolyn KEENE

Thx for that. :)

Was just about to post a long excerpt from Wikipedia. I always refresh the blog page before posting, just in case someone has just posted something along the same lines, so I needn't include anything more than a link to the Wikipedia page, in case anyone is interested in more deets, e.g., who authored what.

pg -16

Peace ~ Empathy ~ Tolerance ~ Health ~ Kindness to all 🕊

thfenn 10:30 AM  

@Renee 7:57, I forgot to include FRiEs before FRYER in my list, but MORK only made it FRiER which still held me up.

Frantic Sloth 10:33 AM  

Team YOGAPants! We are legion. 😉

Welcome back, @Roo! Of course we missed you, you putz! 😘

@Z 944am Good luck with the tourney. Huck, Bid, Pillage,and burn! (I guess? If not, blame this.) 😉

@F.W. Dixon 948am Hey! I knew that! Look at me - I'm literarical! 🤣

@A 1015am Those brave musicians always seem to be portrayed in movies as being older. I can't believe how young they were! That ups the tragedy quotient, IMHO. Thanks for sharing.

JD 10:37 AM  

A Boomer friendly puzzle from a couple of Millennials. Had to rummage around my wheel(ware)house for this stuff. Colin Firth was still a looker when I saw him in The Importance of Being Earnest in 2002. All I remember from The Bonfire of the Vanities in 1987 is "the perp walk." Enjoyed A Confederacy of Dunces a few years after it was published, probably around 1985. Nancy Drew lives on in a film and television but I read The Clue of the Dancing Puppet when I was 10 and Lyndon Johnson was president.

In between the stacks, there were Etail and ESL and LSAT and IM Pei again.

Hold It. Hi Erma, it's a been a little while. Loved reading your stuff in my mother's ladies magazine in the '60s. You were an inspiration. Mork went off the air in 1982. RIP Robin Williams.

Yoga Poses are more than a Bit of a Stretch. It probably should have had the almost obligatory NYT (Some) Yoga Poses. Not all are stretches and a lot are more than a bit. Babe didn't start out as a Pet Pig (yes @kitshef), he was meant to be a holiday meal. It's a dear but very dark children's movie.

It would've been nice to see a little more from this century in the grid. We're 21 years in.

@ rjkennedy98, Did you choose Ralph Ellison because he's an African American and you think Rex would cut him a break?

Us vs. Them, two branches of the American government. Keep Americans fighting each other and we won't notice that the government can't govern. Buy more flags. Listen to the news you agree with.

@F.W. Dixon, Yes, thought the same on Keene.

Joe Dipinto 10:39 AM  

Shouldn't someone tell Ross Trudeau he can take his mask off now? At least to wash it out.

I like this theme a lot. I don't care for both e-reader and e-tail being present though. One e-thingie per puzzle is e-nough. Also, should the fact there was no such person as Carolyn Keene count?

But it's cool that Eiffel showed up to the party on Bastille Day. Some fireworks for the occasion.

Joseph Michael 10:41 AM  

I wonder if Sylvia PLATH wishes she had an E at THE END of her name so she could have been part of the theme.

@F.W. Dixon, thanks for the reminder that Carolyn KEENE was herself a fictitious person. No wonder she could write so many mysteries. I think I read some of them but definitely liked The Hardy Boys better.

Speaking of mysteries, the most baffling moment during the solve was finding myself with _SVS_TH__ in the grid and having no idea how that could ever possibly become a word. Then the Aha! descended from above and US VS. THEM came into view for the win.

In spite of the way too many proper nouns and the reminder that I don’t read enough books, I ended up liking the puzzle, especially the shout out to Oscar WILDE.

Whatsername 10:50 AM  

Excellent Wednesday! Just the right level of difficulty and I loved the theme. The clue for TOOL CHEST is going to make me smile every time I think of it because the expression “a confederacy of dunces” always makes me think of Congress.

Seldom a day goes by that I don’t pick up a book but I’m not one to use an E-READER. I do actually have the Kindle app on my iPad and use it for publications that are not otherwise available but I don’t find the same enjoyment in it. I’m old-fashioned I suppose but to me, there’s just nothing better than settling in with a real book, especially on a cold winter day. If kids still read Nancy Drew, they’re probably doing so on their devices. I feel badly for them that they may never know the joyful contentment of that experience.

No matter how many times I see it or hear it, I have trouble visualizing FARGO as being in the Midwest. Hi @Frantic. There’s a FOC for you.

For one awful second I thought the answer to 10A, instead of SIP, was going to be that word that starts with an N but it wasn’t. Let us all give thanks.

jae 10:51 AM  

Medium. Delightfully clever and a ton (HEAPS) of fun solve. Liked it a bunch! ...and, of course, it’s the Xwordinfo POW.

Zygotic 11:00 AM  

@Frantic Sloth - Eat the babies!
(My current team doesn’t use this cheer, but it was one of my old team’s go to cheers, especially when facing faster, younger teams… teams we beat more often than our athleticism warranted).

@C.G. Jung - Interesting. M-W has an interesting discussion on Jung’s choices. I find it especially interesting that we know the source of the word, it’s only 100 years ago, and there’s still questions about how he came to the specific formation. BTW - M-W has different notes on the various words, EXTROVERT, EXTROVERTed, and EXTROVERsion. Some of it repetitive, but it was the third one I read that discusses the A vs O question best.

Pete 11:00 AM  

@Joe D - I wish I could take my mask off. No masks indoors is for the completely vaccinated, otherwise you should wear a mask, but it's the honor system. I live in an area <60% completely vaccinated, yet when I go to Lowe's it appears that we are 100% vaccinated. My vaccinated & masked self, and the rest unmasked. So, there's either no honor among the un-vaccinated or all un-vaccinated people are self quarantining. If it's the later they have my respect and apologies but I don't think so. In fact, I pretty much think that the only ones > 12yo who still wear masks are the (perhaps overly) cautious vaccinated. Because people are scum.

Anonymous 11:05 AM  

@Z You make a valid point. A very sound argument indeed.

Anonymous 11:06 AM  

If you’re fully vaccinated you don’t need to wear a mask. That’s the whole point of getting the vaccination.

Carola 11:07 AM  

Really nice: pithy theme answers, so nicely laid out, plus the varied and entertaining company of a STINKER, a GAWKER, SEA OTTERS, an EXTROVERT, and a PET PIG. Me, too, for first going with FRies, Bent, YOGAPantS, and Piglet.

Re: PEACHY KEENE - no kidding! For my third- and fourth-grade self, there was no author who shone more brightly in my reading universe. I was lucky to have a classmate whose parents actually bought books (a budgetary impossibility for my family) and who generously loaned me her Nancy Drew and Dana Girls mysteries as they came out - which was never soon enough for antsy, greedy-reader me. Only many years later did I discover WHO Carolyn Keene really was.

TTrimble 11:09 AM  

@C.G. Jung beat me to it, but I was going to remark the same thing and actually held off on putting in for the blank in EXTR_VERT. As was hinted by the pseudonym, C.G. Jung actually invented the term (Psychological Types) and was wont to be fussy about the precise deployment of Greek and Latin stems. When I have to, I write EXTRaVERT as he would have wanted.

I see several people talking about Piglet and Pigpen, but it was PET PIG. I love the movie Babe, but PET for some reason took a while to suss out.

Love the little snippets you can pick up from crosswords. "TIL" that SEA OTTERS have the densest... well, you know just as well as I do. Also didn't know KARA as the real name of Supergirl. This interests me less to know. (Boy, the NYTXW really seems to have a fetish for comic books.)

I thought the cluing for SEGA was clever and tricky.

A nice Wednesday puzzle. Not too easy, nor a STINKER (as my mom used to label very difficult xwords), really just right. A medium it is. Me likey.

Re sound vs. valid. I think the cluing is okay with regard to both vernacular language and also the super-technical language of mathematical logic (since logicians were invoked @10:06AM). There is ground somewhere in between where a distinction is made, but in mathematical logic per se, there is essentially no distinction in the language as used by experts. The two opening sentences of the Wikipedia article on Soundness seem accurate to me, and perhaps may clarify matters to some degree for others.

(Sorry for that nerdy aside, but the invocation of the word "logicians" caught my eye -- I don't know anyone who calls himself or herself a logician who isn't a mathematical logician, and so I'm prepared to interpret the word in that sense. I'm not saying Anon 10:06AM is wrong exactly, but as long as we're in quibble territory, some further clarification may be warranted here.)

Anonymous 11:11 AM  

@Z Still, I wonder if there isn't a distinction to be made between the wordplay-type clues you refer to and the straight-up synonym-type clues exemplified by sound/valid. I enjoy the wordplay and mind-bending cluing as much as anyone, but I'm not sure the fun of wordplay, not to mention its centrality to the experience of solving the crossword, excuses conflating words with similar but distinct meanings.

Unknown 11:14 AM  

I did have piglet at first, but you meant PETPIG and not PIGPEN, right?

Mary Sofia 11:18 AM  

I'm not an extrovert and I've never owned a pet pig, but I do think that at some point in 2013, I *must* have read Gawker on my phone at an outdoor cafe, so that line brought me back to a very pleasant place.

kitshef 11:20 AM  

@pmdm 8:57 – it’s very possible Milo OSHEA has appeared recently. It’s even possible I said I’d never heard of him that time, too. Unless it's near the ONO level of frequency, a name I don't know outside of puzzles is unlikely to stick.

Masked and Anonymous 11:20 AM  

Nice eazy WedsPuz … wolfed that seapuppy right down. Nice theme find, with excellent recent dejavuosity on WILDEPITCH.

staff weeject pick: LEE. See also Harper's LEEEJEANS.

Knew all the authores except for TOOLE.

fave clue: The one for SEAOTTERS. It was like a whole wildelife book-read in itself.

Thanx for gangin up on us, Rafkin & Trudeau constructioneeers.

Masked & Anonymo1U


albatross shell 11:28 AM  

I thought the answer to 10A was going to be hIP, because hip taste is old fashioned nowadays. Nip, except for other problems, works pretty good and is old enough to be heP. I thought of hIP SIP but not of the other 2 nor of rye which was clever also.

Anonymous 11:29 AM  

@TTrimble - Perhaps I should have said philosophers rather than logicians. I am neither, though I took a symbolic logic class as an undergraduate. I think this entry at the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy supports the soundness/validity distinction I'm making.

Plus the reference to the history of philosophy at 50D (Aristotle, to Alexander the Great) raises the expectations for philosophical and logical precision.

But it really is a quibble! As I said in my initial comment, I enjoyed the puzzle overall, especially WILDEPITCH.


Joaquin 11:31 AM  

Proof positive that I'm not 'getting' old but that I am 'actually' old:

46-A [Some jeans features]. When my jeans get RIPS, I put 'em in the donation bag and buy new ones.

Zygotic 11:33 AM  

@Anon11:11 - You are not the first to ask that question. Based on what I’ve observed, Shortz looks for clues that are defensible in one sense, often at the expense of a more common usage and certainly in lieu of technical uses. There are even times where it feels like being an expert in an area is actually a detriment to successful completion of the grid. That is, until you decide Shortz will only use a non-technical sense and then he slaps you with a technical clue. This is why I prefer to call clues “suboptimal” rather than “wrong,” many have been the times where the eyebrow arches, but then I work out how the clue works, however much I don’t like it.

egsforbreakfast 11:52 AM  

The revelations, to me anyway, about Carolyn KEENE made me think about a friend from 4+ decades ago who worked in the Classified Ads department at The Oregonian newspaper. He and all other male ad-takers for many years had answered the phone with “Classified Ads, this is Bill Adams.” His name was, of course, not Bill Adams.

Is an exaggerated ETAIL performance claim for an EREADER considered a WILD E PITCH?

Tiny nit. Isn’t VS in USVSTHEM an abbr.? Shouldn’t the clue have given a wink toward that?

@Roo. We attended my mother-in-law’s 90th on Sunday. She’s pretty much blind and has Alzheimer’s. Somehow, she seems more fun than she has during the previous 40 years I’ve known her. Welcome back. I always enjoy your comments.

On the whole I liked this puzzle a lot.

albatross shell 11:55 AM  

Death, images of death, needless images of death, images of needless death or all of the above? I managed to think of none of the above until your comment. Oh well.

Hitchcock film with Bankhead. Steinbeck story too.

Doc John 11:57 AM  

I had a malaplop where I first tried I.M. PEI for the tower architect before quickly realizing I needed more letters.
Was Babe really a pet, though?

Joe Dipinto 11:58 AM  

@Pete – I have no idea if Ross Trudeau is vaxxed or not but he appears to be standing outside his house in the photo on XWord Info. He can probably take his mask off now if he plans to keep standing there forever. That is, assuming he left a wide enough berth that passersby can get around. And he should be washing it regularly or alternating it with other masks, which I haven't seen him do.

Nancy 12:07 PM  

I'm with @Joaquin. RIPS in jeans as a fashion statement must be the dumbest fashion statement of all time. Can anyone think of a dumber one?

Interestingly, today's NYT has a long piece about The Care and Feeding of Blue Jeans (though of course it's not called that). It's an exhausting, time-consuming process and makes me glad I've never worn them. Here's the article.

albatross shell 12:12 PM  

A PIG like that, you can't eat 'er all at once.

TTrimble 12:17 PM  

@Anonymous 11:29PM
No worries! And thanks for replying. Also you are quite right that there is a conceptual distinction to be drawn, and that different subpopulations [I believe the term nowadays is subreddits ;-)] may use different words to mark it. So I think we agree.

"Logic" used to be (and still is, really) a part of philosophy*, but starting around the late 1800s and to the present day, mathematicians sort of took over the joint. Needless to say, it's still duly taught by philosophy professors, just usually not at the hyper-algebraized level of the mathematicians. (They also tend to name syllogisms by quaint Latin phrases, few of which I can ever remember. Oh, I kid the philosophers.)

*I'm writing as if there is a sharp dividing line between philosophy and mathematics, which there isn't. Some of the sharpest philosophers I know either are card-carrying mathematicians, or are just a hair's breadth from being so.

Zygotic 12:34 PM  

@Pete &@Joe Dipinto - I feel like David Steinberg’s foto is still of him at 16, so I just assumed Trudeau hasn’t given Chen a new one, yet. I do see some people claiming that vaxxed people can spread the delta variant. I don’t think there’s any firm evidence of this, but if a person sleeps better at night feeling like they are being civic-minded by masking I’m fine with it. Excessive civic-mindedness is hardly a vice in my opinion.

C.G.Jung 12:53 PM  

C.G. Jung

In addition to the discussion on the extravert/extrovert history, it may be of interest to some of you to learn that in my original conception of the collective unconscious, I did not initially call the female and male archetypes the "anima' and the "animus." I first referred to them as the "Carolyn Keene" and the "Franklin W. Dixon," and later the "Nancy Drew" and the "Frank Hardy," but problems with trademarks and the like (and a very litigious Stratemeyer Syndicate) forced me to revert to "anima" and "animus."

And if you have studied my work, you will of course know that the fact that these time lines don't line up is not at all an obstacle here....

Runs on Dunkin 12:57 PM  

I couldn’t agree more. I just started reading it again on my EREADER!

Anonymous 1:02 PM  

Hey @Anonymous 11:06. The point of getting vaccinated has nothing to do with masks. The point is to be protected against Covid-19.

Pete 1:03 PM  

@Joe D The vaccine is very good at preventing you from getting very sick from the virus. It doesn't prevent you from getting infected, nor has it been shown to prevent transmission should you get infected. I don't worry about getting infected and dying, I worry about getting infected and passing it along. I interact with immuno-compromised folk who can't get vaccinated, so it's the very least I can do to wear the mask and minimize the chance of infecting them. I would guess that a minimum of 300K Americans are dead because of people being stupidly selfish in the US, with countless others significantly harmed. I hold a grudge towards people who just don't seem to care about the health of others.

@Z - I kind of think Joe D & I knew that, about the picture. But then again, I know you had to remind some folk here that third grade reading comprehension is useful, so I'll give you a pass on that.

@TTrimble - You reminded me of something. Years ago, my PhD advisor was doing work with Jerzy Łoś, who was over here in the States. A bunch of us went out to lunch, and he told Jerzy that in the States, actually, Polish people have a reputation as being kind of dumb. Jerzy said replied "that's because only the stupid ones moved away". So, mathematician, philosopher & comic.

Teedmn 1:15 PM  

I have "A Confederacy of Dunces" on my E-READER and have been unable to make much headway due to the opacity of the character's accent. What little I've read to date has led me to believe that forging through it may not pay off for me. I bought the e-book because references to the book kept coming up in literary articles and interviews with authors who pointed it out as an influence. Not feeling it myself.

Thanks, Amanda and Ross!

Joe Dipinto 1:22 PM  

It was a fucking joke. Okay?

pabloinnh 1:43 PM  

@Barbar S-A "tool chest" is a real thing. I know this because I have heard people say it, so there you are.

OSHEA made me think of the Sunday comics guy Rick O'Shay. Close enough.

This was a great puzzle, because any puzzle that has OTTERS is a great puzzle. SEAOTTERS is just fine.

Everyone else has already said everything else that can be said about today's puzzle, and I agree with all of them.

Nice work, AR and RT. Absolutely Righteous and a Real Treat.

Ed Rorie 1:44 PM  

“A Confederacy of Dunces” is certainly hilarious, but that’s just style. It’s also a masterpiece of structure meshing with theme. You need to read it at least three times to fully enjoy the way the threads come together in a rush that almost matches “Ulysses” in affirmation of the net worth of humanity.

TTrimble 1:49 PM  

Oh hey, sorry, I didn't know you're a mathematician! Or rather, sorry if I forgot. A logician in fact? So yeah I know the name Łoś, but really only for his theorem about ultraproducts. Which alone makes his name deservedly famous in mathematics. Halmos said he was a super-nice guy and also said something about his linguistic courage and how he'd make himself understood in English, just plunging right in. Thanks for your anecdote.

I just learned that his name means "moose". Which somehow endears him further.

SB: working on finding the last word for today. Haven't closed the books on yd's (2 away).

Anonymous 1:58 PM  

No way Pete,
The vaccines are exceptionally good at preventing contracting the virus. They are, statistically, 100% effective in preventing death and even serious illness.

Anonymous 2:00 PM  

I hold a grudge against people who don’t understood the basics of the vaccine.

Anonymous 2:05 PM  

Joe Dipinto,
Don’t take the bait. Don’t feed the trolls, even if they have names. Your post was funny precisely because it’s true.
Anyway, you do you. Pay no never mind to those with no sense of humor or understanding of what the various vaccines do.

Paul Statt 2:09 PM  

To F.W. Dixon (good name!) Thanks for pointing out that Carolyn Keene was the name of a syndicate.

Donna 2:22 PM  

A Confederacy of Dunces is one of my all time favorite novels. It is timeless in its comic portrayal of human foibles. I reread it every few years. For an inside look at the Lucky Dog company and vendors, Lucky Dogs: From Bourbon Street to Beijing by Jerry E. Strahan is a good read

rjkennedy98 2:34 PM  

@JD Well, first, I chose Ralph Ellison because (as Harold Bloom has written about) he refused to publish a second novel because he considered his first a candidate for The Great American Novel. But, yes I couldn't resist the dig at the comic book professor who (I assume for professional reason) subscribes to all these ideologies where Race and Gender are the major factor for determining canonical status.

CDilly52 2:35 PM  

Hand up samodelka!

CDilly52 2:40 PM  

@chuckw, runs on dunkin’ and Donna (thus far) I think @rex must have missed the humor boat because “Confederacy of Dunces” is truly and ingeniously humorous - worthy of a reread every few years - as I do. Couldn’t agree more with you.

CDilly52 2:41 PM  

Welcome back @Roo!

CDilly52 3:22 PM  

Such fun! I’m absolutely on “team YOGA PantS” but other than that, no real slow places. Since I am absolutely not a constructor, I rarely grouse about construction and certainly would (almost) never “trash” a constructor’s or constructors’ effort. But. . .

Here, to me, we had a delightfully clever and consistent theme with light and clever fill - all totally appropriate for a Wednesday and just a pinch of tussle.

My trouble spot was the reveal. No trouble knowing what belonged in the answer, just quite a head-scratcher understanding it’s intended meaning. Oh, I got the authors’ names all end with “E” just fine, but we were talking about authors not enthusiasts, so in my (very possibly addled or just out of sync) mind, the theme authors are “E writers” not “E READERS.” Sure, they all read, but we are entering their names because of their works, not because they read. So, I get it but find it confusingly inconsistent. But, I welcome enlightenment as always from the neighborhood.

And thank our constructors for the best opus of the week and a delightful solve. Thanks Ms. Rafkin and Mr. Trudeau. Wonderful collaboration.

Unknown 3:23 PM  

While I rarely agree with @ Nancy 1:07, I will have to say that she and I are on the same page when it comes to "fashionably ripped" jeans. Why would you pay $200 for a pair of jeans that make you look like a homeless person?

The only answer I didn't care for was GASES. I'm no chemist, but can't *any* element exist as a gas under the right environmental conditions? Chemists, help me out here.

A nice theme. The double II in CRIINGWOLFE had me mystified for a bit, but the aha moment was worth it.

And to those of you who think that Will Shortz is deliberately trying to make folks unhappy or exasperated with the cluing, I suspect that nothing could be further from the truth.

CDilly52 3:28 PM  

@whatshername: I had a LOL moment myself with TOOLE CHEST, and the precise thought about the DC “confederacy” that should occupy its enclosure - with a lock! As with toddlers, they can come out when they can work together.

Doug Garr 3:38 PM  

Well, I kind of thought it was a challenging Wed. puzzle, and I got stuck by starting with HOLDON, HOLDUP instead of HOLDIT. Could not figure out FEET even with FE. And got stuck with GASES because I had SCHEME instead of SCHEMA. Other than that I had fun.

Zygotic 3:41 PM  

@Pete & @Joe Dipinto - Between plain text and the politicalization of masks the intended humor flew right past me.

@rjkennedy98 - Yeah, one no longer needs to be white nor male to achieve undeserved canonical status.

GILL I. 3:56 PM  

I'm going to weigh in on the mask discussion...I'm 100% behind @Pete. I, too, worry about getting infected and passing it along. I'd rather chew both my arms off than inadvertently giving it to someone - especially my 3 year old granddaughter who hasn't had the vaccine yet. The Delta variant is pretty awful AND...Sacramento county (where I live) has the highest infected folks in all of California. People are just not getting it.
I will still wear my mask even though I've had my vaccine. Why take chances when this virus is still mutating and killing people.
By the way, @Doc John.....Babe was definitely a PET PIG. Just ask Charlotte.

Anonymous 4:02 PM  

You’re not taking a chance. All the vaccines are incredibly effective against all the strains of the virus. Wearing a mask after you’ve been vaccinated is akin to saying I won’t fly because it’s too dangerous, or buying a lottery ticket. It marks you as someone who doesn’t know what they’re talking about. So in that regard, I do like seeing people in makes. It tells me who I should be leery of.

people50 4:04 PM  

Although FARGO the city is in North Dakota, which is a fringe Midwest state (many definitions would not include it, but some do), most of the events in the movie FARGO occur in Minnesota, which is a Midwestern state by almost any definition, so the clue is not inaccurate. It's also worth noting that the city is on the Minnesota border and therefore in the most Midwestern part of North Dakota.

lindsay 4:41 PM  

16 year old here. I had no idea who Toole was and I would guess neither does 99% of my generation.

bocamp 5:01 PM  

@Anonymous (4:02 PM)

Fully vaxxed here; wearing mask for protection of all until situation is under control. Too many unknowns. Let's agree to disagree, without casting aspersions. 🙏

@lindsay (4:41 PM)

But now you do, so that puts you in the top 1%. 😉

Peace ~ Empathy ~ Tolerance ~ Health ~ Kindness to all 🕊

A 5:04 PM  

“Sound” for me was soLID before VALID - still think it’s sounder.

@GILL, can’t believe you were the only other one to comment on the Titanic. I was surprised that Rex didn’t mention it but he does miss things. I expected the commentariat would be up in arms over the lack of breakfast testers.

Sorry, @albatross! Yes, I remember the Hitchcock film. BTW, Steinbeck wanted off of it. Now there’s a clue for LIFEBOAT.

@fellow yogapantsers, I got as far as yogapan-- and stopped myself. I think more of us are familiar with the pants than the poses and so that’s the first thought, but YOGAPOSES fits the clue better.

@Joe D, thanks for the Debussy - Happy Bastille Day!

@Roo, glad you’re back. Don’t forget the FF clue. Hand up for HOLD on.

@Lewis, thank you for sharing a spot on your train of thought on it’s journey to synchrony with the universe. It helped soothe my distress of the morning.

@SB folks, I also consoled myself there today. I don’t usually take the time, as it can be more torture than anything, but there was encouragement recently (@bocamp, @TTrimble?) so I tried a couple. QB today! Found one new word totally by accident, and another (a common 4-letter word) by using pen and paper.

Charles Flaster 5:12 PM  

Loved it.
Always appreciate work by AR and/or RT.
WILDEPITCH was my favorite!

JD 5:21 PM  

@rjkennedy98, I thought so. But it could be that he didn't know Ellison's history. I find him to be an equal opportunity abuser. He hates almost everything

Whatsername 5:30 PM  

@Pete (11:00) “the only ones > 12yo who still wear masks are the (perhaps overly) cautious vaccinated. Because people are scum.”
Similar experience for me today. I live in Missouri which at last count had the second highest infection rate in the nation behind Arkansas which is only 50 miles away. Went to a grocery store, dollar store, bank and public library. Fully vaccinated me was one of the few people wearing a mask. And - as you pointed out at 1:03 - I wore the mask not for myself but because according to what I have read (firm evidence or no), I can still carry and transmit a virus/variant to others. And as @GILL said, why take chances? So I’d say you’re absolutely right … on all counts.

@CDilly (3:28) Great minds. 😊

GILL I. 5:37 PM  

@Anony 4:02. Just so you know a little about me and not care one wit....I've lived in a few third world countries; been exposed to just about every piece of caca mankind has thrown out there. I've drunk water from a dirty faucet in Mexico, eaten street food from nefarious food vendors and spent most of my life going barefoot. I've stepped on a few rusty nails and I've never gotten scurvy.
My fear isn't for me - I'm not afraid of much....My fear is that some jackass who hasn't been vaccinated could possibly give me one of the mutations and that I, in turn, could pass it on to my granddaughter. I'd rather err on the side of caution until we eradicate this the way we did small pox.

Pete 5:55 PM  

@Anon 4:02, 2:00, 1:58 - You all must know something the CDC doesn't know. The only numbers the CDC reported (as of 4/30) were the number of identified break-through instances, which were very very small. These were people who had symptoms serious enough to warrant seeing a doctor, or who had other reasons to be tested and tested positive. They have ceased tracking even these. What they don't have any handle on is asymptomatic or mild cases. There is, and hasn't been, any effort to track these. I would be very surprised if the various vaccines did not have a great effect on contagion at the point of exposure, but no one knows if that's true or not. It could be miniscule, it could be significant, no one knows. What I do know is that the 44% of people in my county who aren't vaccinated are running around as if they were, we've had a 11% increase in cases over the past two weeks, and until they begin to be reasonably cautious I'm going to be overly cautious. Again, I know that I won't get very sick, I don't know that I can't pass it on.

I know all of that is complicated, and therefor wrong, but it is factual situation as I know it.

Anoa Bob 6:00 PM  

I am familiar with the first two authors and picked up the theme early. Pieced together the other two from how they fit in the familiar phrases.

When I saw the 18D clue "One time popular blog...", I knew that one would have to come from crosses. GAWKER is a great word though, with a bit of an EARTHY sound if you ask me.

Albatross @7:34 AM, I'm not sure what an albie is either. YOGAPOSES is a plural of convenience (POC) and it enables two Downs POCs. But all that is in the service of some nice surrounding fill and overall there aren't HEAPS of other POCs and I'm OKS with that.

@C. G. Jung, be advised that this is crossword puzzle world and Latin definitions may or may not be honored here.

The contemporary spelling EXTROVERT (and introvert) shouldn't disappoint you too much though, they still mean pretty much the same as they did in your Jungian formulation. EXTROVERSION is one of only five basic personality traits left standing after many revisions of personality trait lists over the years. It and the four others have a great mnemonic, OCEAN.

Another psychological related entry today is SCHEMA. It's a basic concept in Cognitive Psychology. One SCHEMA that we develop early in life is US VS THEM. It's kind of like a Jungian archetype. US VS THEM has enormous consequences for how BIAS affects our thoughts, beliefs and actions.

TTrimble 6:04 PM  

Congratulations! To you and @bocamp. That makes three of us now (of course there may be more among us).

I just remembered something about VALID: RAVES was my first entry, so I had the V, and tried Voice for "sound". It didn't take that long to undo, but it reminds me of my amazement watching the real speed demons at work. It must be that they guess right more often than us lesser mortals. I'm not absolutely sure this is true, but it sure seems true when I watch Rex and Rachel co-solve.

@Unknown 3:23PM
I'm not a chemist either, but I looked it up (the six are hydrogen, helium, nitrogen, chlorine, and neon), and this refers to gaseous elements where "gaseous" means "stp" (under Standard Temperature and Pressure conditions). Looking that up, "stp" may vary according to organization, but Wikipedia states that NIST uses 68 degrees Fahrenheit at 1 atm (referring to Earth's atmosphere at sea level, more or less) of pressure. Source. I expect those six are gaseous no matter which version of stp is chosen.

@albatross shell
I meant to ask earlier: what's an albie?

bocamp 6:08 PM  

@A (5:04 PM) 👍 for QB

Don't know what it is with those common 4 ltr words; they can be tricky. Again, one of 'em was my last word today.

I like your idea of getting a different perspective, using pen & paper. :)

Peace ~ Empathy ~ Tolerance ~ Health ~ Kindness to all 🕊

RooMonster 6:10 PM  

Thanks to those (few) who missed me! 🤪

As for the SB, still do, but my new goal has just been Genius. I tend to miss easy words every day, so now I don't stress about Q. Beside, I have @bocamp to live vicariously through. 😁 Today's had 2 words I had never heard of. But, miraculously, I got 'em!

RooMonster Looking For Love In All The Puzzle Forums Guy

bocamp 6:21 PM  

@TTrimble (6:04 PM) 👍

Peace ~ Empathy ~ Tolerance ~ Health ~ Kindness to all 🕊

pabloinnh 7:05 PM  


@RooMo-1.-Welcome back.
1A.-Re SB-You're singing my song. My new m. o. is to stop at
Genius and see how many more I would need for QB. If it's fewer than 10. I'll mess around with it for a while. More than that and I give myself a high five for the G thing and think I'm pretty special. I've been at -1 twice in the last week and there's nothing more frustrating. Makes you want to bang your head on the wall fortissimo, or fff.

Different strokes and all that.


JD 7:12 PM  

@limdsay, And now you can learn! Working the puzzle at 16, that's so great

JD 7:14 PM  

@rjkennedy98, Really I think he's an equal opportunity abuser. He hates almost everything anyone ever does

albatross shell 7:37 PM  

Last time I saw you you had were 0omonster and peddling the puzzle of the year with out an F count. I missed you like I'd miss the air I breathe. Been holding my breath since you've been gone. I can breathe again. Welcome back.

@Anoa Bob, TTrimble
I clearly stated I did not remember what an albie is but I can suggest the some general guidelines. An answer of maybe the form S---S---S where the middle S a double POC and the other two were both single POCs by virtue of the crossing words. I suggested naming it after @Anoa (in honor of his POC work) but he said no we name things after their discoverer and therefore it should be named after me. Did he just not want a word that was both a double POC and twice a singe POC named after him? Was he joshing me? Did I want it named after me? It was something liKe that anyway. Fame sure is fleeting.

I never expected to see one again. But seeing YOGA POSES reminded me of it but I didn't remember what the albie was. Which is why I mentioned it.
YOGAPOSES is a double POC with the particularly weak 3 letter plural ADS. And a single POC at OTTERS. Luckily, ignominy maybe fleeting too.

albatross shell 7:41 PM  

@pabloinnh 705pm
What's with all the white space?

Anonymous 7:55 PM  

Will someone pls explain 5 down (Counterpart of FF). All I could think of was very loud, and REW makes no sense. Scrolled through the comments but if it's been discussed, sorry I missed it. Thanks.

pabloinnh 8:03 PM  

@a shell-Temporary insanity.

Yeah, that's the ticket.

JC66 8:56 PM  

@Anon 7:55

Think recorders:

FF = Fast Forward

REW = Rewind

GILL I. 9:13 PM  

@Roo. Who wouldn't miss you? You're the sauce in my gravy, the base for my stews and the gumbo étouffée of my veloute. Welcome back.......

albatross shell 9:41 PM  

I've had that ticket punched a few times myself.

A 9:45 PM  

Dear Moderators,

The comment at 4:02 should be removed. It contains dangerous falsehoods and misleading statements about the COVID-19 pandemic. The first is “You’re not taking a chance.” This is false. According to a July 14 article by, efficacy rates for the 3 vaccines in use in the US vary from 77% to 95%.

So “you're” taking a chance that you won’t be in the 5% to 23% who are vaccinated but may be infected nonetheless. Further, no studies yet prove that a vaccinated person will not transmit COVID-19. A small chance is still a chance, and much more is not known about COVID-19 than is known, for example, long term effects in children.

The statement that “All the vaccines are incredibly effective against all the strains of the virus” is misleading. This scientifically meaningless wording appears to be designed to impart the idea that anyone who is vaccinated is bulletproof. More studies are needed on the Delta variant, and on the length of time the vaccines remain effective. And unfortunately, the longer the virus is allowed to spread, the more the chance of new variants.

Allowing this misinformation, however casually stated, is dangerous. We had a comment today by a 16 year old. Not everyone who reads these comments knows who is being forthright and who is playing games.

The poster goes on to insult another poster, in an attempt to elevate their status. “It marks you as someone who doesn’t know what they’re talking about.” I expect comments of this sort to be off limits.

Thank you,
Mimi Linehan

Anonymous 10:04 PM  

My Pappy (born 1915) left us his 'boys books' (and 'girls books') from the mid 20s to mid 30s. Tom Swift, Hardy Boys, and a bunch of other titles I no longer remember. Turns out that they were all cranked out by (anonymous) pennydreadful hacks. Not a one of the 'authors' actually walked the earth.

By the time I was of that age, I had 'Tom Swift, Jr.' books to absorb. Written, of course, by Victor Appleton, II.

bocamp 10:41 PM  

Love Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys and Tom Swift, but my fave is the Raggedy Dick series by Horatio Alger.

Peace ~ Empathy ~ Tolerance ~ Health ~ Kindness to all 🕊

RooMonster 11:10 PM  

Now That was funny!

Ditto! Keep building me up. Har.

Dang, a bit tipsy? 😋


Whatsername 11:24 PM  

@A (9:45) Brava! Well said.

thefogman 10:13 AM  

A very enjoyable solve. Nicely done.

spacecraft 11:40 AM  

Last time I ran across SEAOTTERS was in "Groundhog Day:"

"We made love like SEAOTTERS. That...was a pret-ty good day. Why couldn't I have had THAT day over, and over, and over..."

THEM makes an odd curtain call in USVSTHEM, one of the bright spots in today's OFFering. I am surprised we got a break from OFC's E-rants, with both ETAIL and EREADER in the grid. Yes, the latter is key to the theme, but then to have ETAIL in there too, even to me it feels lie one too many E-things.

Hand up for the PantS before the POSES, plus I had HOLDon instead of HOLDIT; never considered hold up. I feel that's what people say when they mean wait a second: HOLD on, now!" HOLDIT sounds more like "Stop! Police!"

This is a cut above RT's usual, so I guess we credit Ms. Rafkin for a positive influence. Birdie.

Anonymous 12:05 PM  

Piglet, of course, is the superior answer. This puzzle was too clever by half. Very little fun.

Burma Shave 12:14 PM  


as an AGENDA to HEX or bewitch,


rondo 12:22 PM  

Another hand up for the PantS before the POSES, and HOLDon instead of HOLDIT. And with only the V showing confidently filled in ciVilwar before USVSTHEM came to light.

Why do I always have trouble with the A-O thing in intr(A-O)vert and EXTR(A-O)VERT?

Prettygood puz, and I'm not CRYINGWOLFE.

thefogman 1:01 PM  

@Spacey I look at ETAIL as a secondary or bonus revealer..The author’s names all have an E at the end (an E-tail) thus creating the wordplay out of a common phrase.

Diana, LIW 4:05 PM  

And I'm back...

Another one where some first guesses were wrong, but the theme helped me set it all straight. Whe eeee!

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords
Back from the Car Shows

leftcoaster 4:27 PM  

The RAFKIN-TRUDEAU duo strikes again!

So the theme gives us the authors’ names, and the revealer implies they all use E-READERS? Really? Just because there are E’s at THE ENDs of their names? What am I missing here?

A pretty tough and clever Wednesday, but its SCHEMA seems a bit indefinite.

strayling 7:32 PM  

@leftcoaster It's a bit weak, but I rationalised it as READER being a synonym for book. I've definitely seen it used that way, mainly in titles.

spacecraft 7:34 PM  

@foggy: excellent catch! Didn't notice that "tail" aspect till you found it. I retract my complaint.

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