Noted trans activist and actress / WED 10-20-21 / 1962 Paul Anka hit / Novelty brand with slogan Watch it grow / 2018 Pixar short about a dumpling boy / Polynesian crop with medicinal properties / Irene who's central to the scandal of A Scandal in Bohemia

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Constructor: David W. Tuffs

Relative difficulty: Medium (maybe slightly harder)

THEME: ORBITING — Words that start with OR- are clued as if they are multi-word phrases where the first word is "OR." The "OR" phrase is clued as the latter half of an imagined either/or question:

Theme answers:
  • ORLANDO (17A: "Who's your favorite roguish 'Star Wars' character? Han ___?")
  • ORALIST (18A: "How famous is that actress? Is she unknown ___?")
  • ORANGERED (37A: "How do you handle losing? Do you feel calm ___?")
  • ORDEALS (60A: "What's the best way to spend less on shopping? Coupons ___?")
  • ORCHARD (63A: "What kind of greens do you want? Spinach ___?")
Word of the Day: DIURNAL (65A: Active during the day) —

Definition of diurnal

 (Entry 1 of 2) 

1 abiology active chiefly in the daytime diurnal animals
bof, relating to, or occurring in the daytimethe city's diurnal noises
cbotany opening during the day and closing at nightdiurnal flowers
2arecurring every daydiurnal tasks
bhaving a daily cyclediurnal tides (
• • •

Or not. The concept seems theoretically interesting, but the execution here is weird and off. ORANGE-RED? That's just two colors. I mean yeah you can have an orangish red or whatever, but I put in "angered" and then kept doubting it because ... ORANGERED barely registers as a thing. And I don't know what an ORALIST is. I thought it was some kind of mouth doctor, but apparently it's a term from deaf education, specifically "a deaf person who uses speech and lip-reading to communicate, rather than sign language" (google). Happy to learn something, but weird to learn it in a wacky jokey Wednesday theme answer, where the "OR" jokes only really land if the answers are in common parlance. ORALIST / -ISM seems like a great word to have in a puzzle (it's been in the grid a couple of times before, apparently), but not so much as the answer in a wacky puzzle where your clue doesn't even indicate what it is. Further: coupons *are* "deals," what the hell?  "Every day we match hundreds of new coupons with sales and promotions to bring you the very best deals," shouts some random online coupon site I just found by searching [coupon deals]. Coupons *are* deals. "Coupons OR DEALS" is a meaningless choice. That clue is just desperate. And that's the problem with a theme like this: the words you have to choose from are very limited, and the wacky cluing gets very forced in order to make the limited number of available themers "work." I got a vaguely hopeful "oh, I see" boost when I went from "ORLANDO?" to "Oh ... OR LANDO?" but the rest of the themer set was less inspiring. The clue on ORCHARD works fine, but there was a repetitiveness and a clunkiness here that made the theme not really work for me.

I was also put off by how isolated the corners of this grid are. I just have this aversion to corners, especially biggish corners, that have only narrow paths in and out. This narrowness of entryways really affects the NE and SW corners (two ways in, each the width of only one letter), but that NW and SE are pretty cut off too. It makes the grid really choppy and makes it harder to get a nice flow going. There's a whole *feel* aspect to solving that is sometimes really hard to describe, but I do know that cut-off corners really kill the vibe for me a lot of the time. Or ... maybe not "kill" it, but bring it down. There's some weird Scrabble f***ing going on with the "X"s here, and honestly TXT and EXT really undermine whatever joy the "X" factor was supposed to bring. The LEX / COX one works fine because you don't have to sacrifice fill quality and you pick up the full name of LAVERNE / COX in the bargain (46D: With 64-Down, noted trans activist and actress). Fine. But the price of TXT and EXT is a little high. If they were the lone rough fill in their sections, fine, but their neighbors (EIS and UAE, respectively) aren't much prettier.  I like OVERDUB a lot (42D: Augment, as a musical track), and ... I don't know if I *like* DIURNAL, but I liked remembering it from some Wordsworth poem I read in college. . . [looks it up] ... OMG I'm right! My memory kinda works! That is *exactly* where I learned it: from the penultimate line of "A Slumber did my Spirit Seal":

A slumber did my spirit seal; 
I had no human fears: 
She seemed a thing that could not feel 
The touch of earthly years. 

No motion has she now, no force; 
She neither hears nor sees; 
Rolled round in earth's diurnal course, 
With rocks, and stones, and trees. 

... and honestly, as far as I know, this is the only place I've ever seen it used. 32 years ago! It's bizarre and seemingly haphazard what my brain chooses to retain and what it forgets entirely. Whole courses I took, I don't remember even one class session, but "DIURNAL" ... bam. Locked in.

  • 55A: Polynesian crop with medicinal properties (KAVA) — this is a fine answer, but seems like a dangerous cross with KAHN (55D: "Blazing Saddles" actress Madeline), since CAHN is definitely a name and definitely sounds right, as does CAVA.
  • 41D: ___ polloi (HOI) / 48A: "Mazel ___!" (TOV) — HOI TOV? There has *got* to be a way to make that teeny tiny 3x3 section cleaner than HOI TOV.
  • 43A: 2018 Pixar short about a dumpling boy ("BAO") — still surprised BAO isn't more common as fill. Heavy on the vowels, delicious to contemplate. Definitely pro-BAO.
  • 53D: Olds of old (CIERA) — not a huge fan of the "car models of old" clues, especially if the models aren't like MODEL-T old. Classic old. CIERA doesn't count. I guess I should just be happy that that other [Olds of old], the ALERO, has been put out to pasture. Man, you used to see ALEROs everywhere. There'd be days when the whole grid was just an ALERO parking lot. "Why are there six ALEROs in this puzzle?" you'd ask, befuddled. Nobody knew...
  • 1A: Museum wings? (EMS) — I hate that I am so good at these "letteral" clues (i.e. clues you have to read the clue literally to arrive at the answer, which is a letter). Here, the "wings" (i.e. ends) of the word "museum" are EMS (the letter "M," in the plural: EMS). To have this answer crossing SILENTD (with yet another jokey "?" letteral clue) is truly perverse (3D: Handsome trait?). 
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld 

P.S. Since there's a "Star Wars" movie called "Rogue One," I got thrown off a bit by the word "roguish" in the "Star Wars" clue (for ORLANDO) (17A: "Who's your favorite roguish 'Star Wars' character? Han ___?"). I thought there was some kind of play on words there, and I was going to have to know things about the "Rogue One" ... like maybe ORLANDO Bloom was in it ??? ... but no.

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Lewis 6:30 AM  

Well, the theme was my favorite part. Why? Because it turns out that David and I are kindred spirits. Independently, we thought of a “this OR that” theme, in different forms. Mine was in a puzzle published fairly recently in another venue. David brought his off beautifully in this puzzle, IMO, (and thank you for the fun theme and sufficient grit to get my brain revving, David!).

I worked hard on my theme set, as the clues/answers were difficult to come by. I was pleased with the final result, and on the chance that you who are reading the comments here will find it enjoyable, here’s that theme set (clues first):

1. Either can refer to hair
2. Either has a green variety
3. Either are a skipper’s concern
4. Either is essential in competitive wrestling


ar 6:34 AM  

I've been mispronouncing "handsome" for 39 years!

Frantic Sloth 6:43 AM  

Okay. Who else had SILENTe for 3D? (By time I post this, there will probably be others who've mentioned it before me, but will that stop me? Guess.)

Not bad. I enjoy a good punny theme on the Wednesdee, but is ORANGERED really the centerpiece? It seems like the weakest example here, unless I'm missing something. I could be missing something. At times I've been known to miss something. I'm probably missing something. [voice from the wings] "Like an off button?"

Here's GAL Gadot again. Okay by me.

Did Scott BA(i)O get SHOT in EAST LA? Guess Joanie has had it with Chachi. She ain't the only one.

PATAGONIA always strikes me as one of those old vaudeville act towns like Peoria or Albuquerque or Niagara Falls! Slowly I turned, step by step, inch by never mind. πŸ™„




Tom T 6:49 AM  

Agree with Rex -- a little harder than medium for a Wednesday. But getable.

Lewis, I love your "either/ors." Magnificent!

We have a nice crossing of my new obsession--diagonal words in the grid--today. Clue number one: On a dust jacket, perhaps. Clue number two: Expire.
(You'll discover them in the SW.)

Anonymous 6:57 AM  

Lando Calrissian - Star Wars rogue

Karen 7:02 AM  

As a life long puzzle solver, although not nearly as competent as you and many of your commenters, I was pleased to read your comment about the "feel" of a puzzle. I know exactly what you are describing although I don't have a better way to put it into words. Perhaps one of your readers knows if there is a name for it. If anyone does, please share! I suppose it's the essence of what makes one love or dislike a puzzle.

oceanjeremy 7:10 AM  

@Lewis: your theme answers are infinitely better than those found in today’s puzzle.

I DNF’d and, meandering the grid to attempt to find my error, briefly hesitated over the “C or K?” (ha!) cross Rex points out as tricky (CAHN/CAVA or KAHN/KAVA?) but I was a bartender in a former life and recalled instantly the difference: Cava is a delicious Spanish white sparkling wine; Kava is a root that has sedating and anxiolytic effects (most frequently consumed in tea, but can be swallowed in capsules and even smoked.

So where was my error? Apparently, in taking French instead of Latin in college. Because I had LEY for “Latin law,” crossing COY (in LAVERNE COY). Coy seems like a plausible surname.

When I finally realized where my error must be I smacked my head. I have heard the name LAVERNE COX. And now that I google her I realize that I have seen her in television shows. So… shoulda known that.

Was this an unfair cross? Probably not, for a Wednesday.

Should I stop solving the puzzle in bed, with my mind heavily fogged about 90 minutes after I’ve taken melatonin and Benadryl to fall asleep? Yes, I should probably wait and solve in the morning.


amyyanni 7:15 AM  

How serendipitous @Lewis! Always enjoy your comments; today's is a brilliant continuation of the theme. Honestly, prefer your creations. Thanks.

Richard Stanford 7:16 AM  

This felt very easy for a Wednesday. I wasn’t sure about LEX/COX but guessed correctly, even got ESO BESO - then failed at German and soda not really knowing either with EINe / DADe. Sigh…

Down here we have Mug and Barq’s.

Barney 7:17 AM  

I may be alone, but I went with cAHN/cAVA. Never heard of KAVA or the actress so it was a flip of a coin. Always a fun way to finish a puzzle.

kitshef 7:17 AM  

I really liked the themers where the pronunciation was wildly different (OR ANGERED, OR A-LIST). Unfortunately that was only two of five.

But … some excellent non-theme fill: LEONINE, DIURNAL, HENDRIX, CHIA PET, OVERDUB, ADDIS ABABA.

Kinda easy, but fun. Lewis's version sounds even more fun.

Mike R. 7:23 AM  


Son Volt 7:32 AM  

I’ll take a pass on this one. The conditional theme was flat and of no interest and the overall fill was rough especially in the NW and SE. Don’t need the German lesson or doubling up on the MARRIED cross. Add the obtuse LEONINE and two slots for an unknown trans actor and this took me from calm to ANGERED.

Not a happy Wednesday solve.

Anonymous 7:37 AM  

The NW was such a clusterfuck. I worked NE and then clockwise back to NW, which was still a CF. ESOBESO? ADDISABABA? EMS? SILENTD? I hate those "letteral" clues, as Rex calls them. They are cheap cheats on the part of the constructor.

Roberto 7:37 AM  

Diurnal is used in tide charts so isn't that obscure

bocamp 7:40 AM  

Thx David, for this creative, crunchy Wednes. puz! :)


More or less a counterclockwise solve starting in the NW.

Didn't have any substantial holdups; just slow and methodical progress.

Replaced 'race' with MEET, and successfully filled in that area for the win.

Very enjoyable; lots of fun! :)

@okanaganer / @Barbara S. πŸ‘ for 0's dbyd / @TTrimble πŸ‘ for 0 yd

yd pg -1

Peace ~ Compassion ~ Tolerance ~ Kindness to all πŸ•Š

Trey 7:46 AM  

Best clue of the week so far was for VEGANS

SouthsideJohnny 8:02 AM  

Wow - two days in a row I was done in by a PPP/foreign word cross (in fact two of them - had EINE for the German word and DADE for the root beer brand, both of which seem plausible; and no clue on Latin LEX crossing COX). Someone recently posted five criteria for a quality puzzle, and I believe that one of them was something to the effect that “it should be solvable” - it definitely seems like a good rule of thumb would be “don’t cross trivia questions with foreign words”. So, this is pretty much a typical NYT puzzle - sparkles in some respects and gives of an unseemly odor in others.

Joe R. 8:08 AM  

No shout-out for the Broken Earth trilogy? It’s a masterpiece, and if you haven’t read it, you’re missing out. But I struggled, because I couldn’t figure out how to fit “afrofuturism” into seven letters. Eventually realized what they were looking for.

mmorgan 8:27 AM  

I vaguely remember a movie with somebody shooting up a toilet screaming, “Die, urinal!” Or did I make that up?

Silent Generation 8:31 AM  

Enjoyable solve on a Wednesday since this was on my wavelength. Star Wars questions are always gimmes and who can forget Madeline Kahn from "Young Frankenstein"? That movie still holds up after close to 50 years. Surprised that Rex didn't mention the always exasperating AVOW/AVER conundrum (I'm sure there is an official definition, but I always seem to guess the wrong one initially). I'd be happy to see more crosswords along these lines.

Anonymous 8:33 AM  

Oralist is used in the legal context as the person making an oral argument before a tribunal. It's particularly used in moot court competition events where awards are given for "best oralist"

mathgent 8:51 AM  

Some good (ten red plus signs in the margins, high for Wednesday, including the clue for VEGANS), some bad (28 Terrible Threes and mostly weak themers). On balance a tepid thumbs up because I learned a couple of things, including how to pronounce "handsome."

We spent yesterday flying home from Florida and I finished The Lincoln Highway, the new novel by Amor Towles, the author of the wonderful A Gentleman in Moscow. I was terribly disappointed. Long (almost 600 pages), repetitive, unappealing characters. I think that Towles intended it to be an allegory based on a book that one of the characters is obsessed with. That accounts for how unreal the story is. But the allegory didn't connect for me.

Unknown 8:54 AM  

I got stuck on ESOBESO because

1) I haven't heard of that song and
2) I had UMS for "Museum Wings" as it begins and ends with symmetrical "UM"

So I was on the right track but was thinking harder than the cluer.

I also got tripped up at cAVA/cAHN.

Frantic Sloth 9:02 AM  

I'm with Rex on the letterals. Running neck-and-neck with the lookie-loos now...

@Lewis 630am Bravo! Simply brilliant.

@ar 634am Ditto! Also, sandwich. The "d" is subtle, but it's there.

Madeline KAHN was a comic genius whose life cut short denied us immeasurable joy. It's painful to see her memory so faded.

pabloinnh 9:12 AM  

The themers were OK, learned ORALIST, and I have never described anything as ORANGERED. I think the color is "burnt orange", so that one felt like a real stretch. Some other interesting answers, and I'm always pleased when I remember something like ADDISABABA instantly, which happened today.

Interestingly enough, at least to me, was OFL's recollection of DIURNAL, which is exactly what I was thinking. I remember writing a paper for a course on the romantics I was taking and pointing out that Wordsworth had claimed to be writing in the language of the common people and then throws in a word like DIURNAL. I don't remember my prof circling this and writing "excellent insight" in the margin though.

Nice enough Wednesday, with some trivia I knew and some WTF's, but certainly serviceable. Thanks for the fun, DWT, but you Don't Win Trophies for this one. Those would all go to @Lewis for his superior alternatives, which were wonderful.

RnRGhost57 9:16 AM  

@Lewis: good stuff.

Z 9:20 AM  

Puzzle feel…. Hmmm…. We don’t have a term so maybe we should create one….. Hmmmm…. something like “feng shui” but for puzzles…. hmmm… πŸ’‘πŸ’‘πŸ’‘ Feng Ptui

Yep - lots of potential mini-naticks today. Sub-optimal in my opinion.

Was LEO NINE a good pope?

ORANGE-RED was most definitely in my Crayola Box. As was Red-Orange. My car is “Cayenne Red” which is suspiciously close to one of those.

I dunno, lots of interesting stuff here, but also some eyebrow arching stuff, too. First time I remember a Wednesday puzzle that tuezzed.

Whatsername 9:23 AM  

When I don’t care for a puzzle I always try sincerely to express my objections in a constructive manner. I am really struggling with that today. The thing that kept going through my mind and what I have written in large letters in the corner is … WHY? Why would anyone do this? Two words forming one word I understand as a methodology in crosswords. But these just seemed so arbitrary and forced. I mean, ORANGE RED. What is that? Now that’s just me, my personal opinion, my reaction.. If you happened to like it and find it clever, it was probably fun wordplay for you. But I can really find no way to defend the NE, that isolated corner with six PPP and one foreign word. Inexcusable IMHO.

Nancy 9:23 AM  

(I'll go back, Lewis, and see if I can figure out your, I gather similar, theme answers, once I've recovered from this ORDEAL. I imagine I'll like your approach more -- because how could I possibly like it less?)

I found the incessant use of pop culture names and brands in this puzzle ugly in the extreme. I was mystified by ORANGERED (which I assumed was a verb meaning "having been made more orange") and I was infuriated by the root beer brand crossing the Star Wars character. I didn't know either the first or last name of the actress, trans or otherwise, nor the other actress, the one in the Bohemian scandal. I don't know even the new Oldses, much less the old Oldses. And I have even less comprehension of what an ".exe" is.

Thoroughly disliked just about everything in this puzzle. I'll go back and look at your challenge, Lewis, but not until I've fully recovered from coping with this.

rjkennedy98 9:27 AM  

Totally agree with Rex about the letter clues. At a certain point they stop being misdirection when every single day we get one, and today we got two in a single corner. The cluing feels so lazy.

As for the theme, I only really liked ORLANDO. ORALIST and ORANGE-RED are barely real things.

Overall, this puzzle was not that fun to solve. It has the double GOT HITCHED even though both answers actually mean getting married, instead of the standard of having two different meanings of the phrase. It had the double name of someone who I have never heard of.

That being said, there were some bright spots. Loved the clue for VEGANS. PATAGONIA, STRESS FREE, CHIA PETS were all nice long answers (with uninteresting clues.

Z 9:27 AM  

I just saw a headline that Hulu is working with Mel Brooks on a History of the World Part II series. (Madeline KAHN worked with Brooks quite a bit)

Dan Tuller 9:28 AM  

Orangered is big in web design. Most well known as Reddit’s upvote/notification color.

jberg 9:35 AM  

Wordsworth was using a different meaning of DIURNAL, which fit his meter better than daily; but it's common enough in the sense that was clued -- some animals are nocturnal while others are DIURNAL, e.g.

Some of us do pronounce the D in handsome, but no one pronounces the final E, so of course that's what I put in. I managed to fix that, but unfortunately did not notice that DADe should be DAD'S. The crossing didn't help, since EINe also means 'one' in German (as a feminine adjective).

Fortunately, though, cAHN never occurred to me; instead, I was choosing between KAHN and hAHN, and KAVA sounded better, so that was OK.

@Lewis, I'd ask you where that puzzle was published, but now that I know the theme answers....

Shandra Dykman 9:36 AM  

Very clever!!!!

Solverinserbia 9:46 AM  

Now this is cool! Nice set.

Nancy 9:52 AM  

Much, much cleverer, Lewis!!! Crunchier and far more imaginative. That's not because I know you; it's because it's undeniably true.

I got none of your themers I should sadly confess, but I'm sure that you crossed them fairly in your finished puzzle and that with that assistance, I would have managed to suss them out.

I'm assuming that you first submitted to the NYT? In which case it's a real mystery why WS would turn you down and take this clunker. I'm sure you didn't lace your grid with PPP.

GILL I. 9:54 AM  

When I do a puzzle like this, I talk to myself and ask: Well did you like this? Did it bring a smile? Did you have some problems with things like ORANGERED and say: What the hell is that? Well...I did. I'm still not sure what I think. I hate when that happens.
It did bring two smile to this, though.....PATAGONIA and our stays in Bariloche - located at the foothills of the Andes. The first time we went, it was to ski. There was very little snow.... but holy enchiladas, they have the best hot chocolate this side of Chile.
The other smile was seeing LAVERNE COX. If you ever watched "Orange is the New Black," you'll see her as probably the "best" of all the actresses. She was my favorite. I got bored with the show but not with her.
I figured out the OR thingie at OR A LIST. OK, so I liked that one. I also liked OR CHARD. Why you ask? Because I eat CHARD and like it as long as it has Swiss in front of it and you sautΓ© it in good olive oil with garlic. And ORCHARD because my favorite is meandering through the Chilean Valley Ranch Apple Orchard in Petaluma. So..there's that.
@Lewis: usual.
@mmorgan: HAH....I think all urinals should die. I also think the name should be changed to PISS SOI.
On to my business in rainy Auburn.

Mary McCarty 10:04 AM  

Once again, at 60A, Rex proves he doesn’t live in the real world. A *coupon* is a little square or rectangular thing you either cut out or scan from your phone. A DEAL is just a sale price (no *coupon* required.) Yes, a coupon is a DEAL, but a DEAL is not necessarily a coupon. And he has to reach back into his poetry memory for DIURNAL? Every beginning Latin student knows the difference between nocturnal and DIURNAL (tho’ they often spell it wrong. And DIary is another pretty common derivative of the DI- root, not to be confused with “de-“ meaning “god”. A little Latin is a crossworder’s best friend.

Malsdemare 10:08 AM  

I liked this more than many. DIURNAL was a snap; it’s the opposite of nocturnal and as someone living in the country with critters of both ilks, it’s a term I hear and use a lot. LEONINE also fell fairly easily, and once I got the trick—I’m terribly slow to pick up these things—I got almost all the rest with just enough brain effort to feel good. But note that “almost.” I was MARRIED to ORANGERy for way longer than I had a right to be. It didn’t help that I had UAr for the longest time, making MDS impossible to see. The fact that ANGERy isn’t a word slipped past my morning brain. I had not heard of LAVERNE COX; I shall have to look her up.

@mathgent, thanks for the tip about the latest Towles book; I was about to put it on my to-read list. I am currently in Philadelphia caring for my teenage grands and need reading material, preferably books that will give me respite from cooking (which I don’t do), shopping (which I don’t do), giant messes in kitchen and bedrooms (bedrooms can be ignored but the kitchen? NO) and the expected teenage angst. So I chose to reread the entire Peter Wimsey series. I highly recommend the experience.

@Lewis, love your choices!

Carola 10:13 AM  

Well, I wanted to start out with "Was that fun OR what?" (and have), but I see that for many of you it wasn't. I thought the theme was just-right zany and after getting the first two examples, I had fun guessing the rest, the final ORDEALS and ORCHARD leaving me with a laugh. Admittedly, you need to be in the know about Star Wars to appreciate the joke about LANDO, but for me that one was genius. Extra enjoyment from CHIA PET, ADDIS ABABA, PATAGONIA, TRAVAIL, STRESS-FREE, OVERDUB, and DIURNAL (which like @jberg I associate with "not nocturnal"). Lots to like on a Wednesday.

Moment of astonishment: there's a SILENT D in "handsome": I looked in as many online sources as I could, in search of a contrary pronunciation (i.e., with the d sounded) and found none. Same deal, apparently, with "sandwich." I find myself a denier, much as I'm exasperated with deniers in other current contexts.

@Lewis: Terrific ideas!

thfenn 10:16 AM  

I get what's not to like in this one, but many of the beefs struck me a little differently. I thought EMS crossing SILENTD was kind of clever - I mean, if you're going to go that route go all in and cross 'em (but another hand up for learning I don't pronounce handsome correctly). And don't stop there, let's cross SAIDIDO and MARRIED while we're at it, in the same section! OK, that's fun.

Also thought TXT paired up with EXT along the east coast was fun. My hopes of visiting PATAGONIA one day are probably closer to FANTASY, so that was a nice cross. As for the theme, I don't disagree with what's already been noted, but my favorite was ORCHARD. I like tending both an orchard and a vegetable garden in Maine, and loved wondering whether to go look after the orchard or chard (but @Lewis that was definitely a better list).

My jingle delayer today wasn't COX/LEX or KAHN/KAVA but, like @SouthsideJohnny EINe/DADe. Took me a long time to stop assuming there was some root beer brand I didn't know and remember DADS. My faves growing up were A&W and Barq's.

jae 10:18 AM  

Mediumish. I blanked on ADDIS ABABA and originally spelled CHARD with an s, otherwise this might have been easyish. The sHARD misstep was especially grating because I could picture LAVERNE in “Orange Is The New Black” but could not come up with her last name with the s sitting there. D’oh!

Fun word play, liked it.

liveprof 10:19 AM  

Pringles (from 11D) were invented by accident, according to the late comic, Mitch Hedberg. He said the original intention was to make tennis balls.

RooMonster 10:23 AM  

Hey All !
Are you foe ORALLY?

Did get a slight chuckle upon finding theme, more of a "Heh, nice" reaction, but wasn't the best ever. Has more of a TuesPuz feel.

Not to say I didn't like it, theme was done well for what it was. ORLANDO needed some inspired thinking to come up with. ORALIST, too.

Some have said they've never heard of ESOBESO. Seems to me, it's been in puzs quite a bit, usually as either ESO or BESO, with the clue "Anka's ___Beso" or "Anka's Eso ___". Or is that just me?

Funny I didn't notice the closed off corners Rex mentioned. They usually jump out at me and smack me in the face. Camouflaged, these.

Could've PPP'd ODDJOB as a reference to James Bond. Laughing at myself for 5D. I read clue, and said, "Who knows the Capital of Ethiopia?" Then once I got some crosses, saw it was ADDIS ABABA, and said, "Hey, I've heard of that!" Just didn't know it was Ethiopia's Capital. BAO a bit of a stretch. A short from a Pixar movie? And it doesn't even tell you which movie. Granted, if you're a Pixar movie fan, you'd throw it in no problem. But, dang.

Random observations aside, ended up not too bad a puz. IN A WAY. πŸ˜‹ (Sorry, @Nancy!)

Three F's

JenKlopp 10:36 AM  

Great puzzle! Wish I didn't read the answers right away.

TJS 10:37 AM  

Another one that kind of aggravated me more than entertained, even though I ripped through it. Had "pieta"/"vagan" though.

@Southside, probably a good idea to get 1-2-3 down in Spanish, French and German. The rest, not so much.

Madeline Kahn, an all-time great comedic actress, "Its twue, its twue."

Since Irene Adler is the only woman in the entire Sherlock canon to be given a full-fledged characterization, it's best to file her away.

Hate the "letterals", Just a cheap way to solve a problem.

Chia pet. Anyone remember the Obama version? Sheesh.

Popped in Paatagonia and AddisAbaba outta nowhere. Do y'all know why we will never see the capital of Djibouti clued in a crossword ?

Off to the playa.

JC66 10:38 AM  


re: 10D

I wasn't familiar with "A Scandal in Bohemia" either, but figured out that Irene ADLER is one of Sherlock Holmes' nemeses.

Anonymous 10:40 AM  

@Nancy: Don't worry, there haven't been any new Olds in over 20 years. The aforementioned Alero was the last new model Olds introduced, in 1998 (as a '99 model). GM shut down Oldsmobile in 2004.

And .exe is a computer filename extension (a suffix). In most operating systems, it indicates the type of file (text file, HTML file, JPEG file, MPEG file, executable file, etc.). exe is used for executable files, meaning that it is a program you can run, or execute, to perform some function. txt is a text file.

JD 10:52 AM  

Rough start in that NW corner. Gal, Gin, Owen Wilson, and Fantasy got me started.

Disheartening to learn the D in Handsome is silent. Grew up in part of Pennsylvania near the Mason Dixon line where it's almost a civic duty to elide at least one consonant per word and I was proud of that D.

Saidido sounds like some weird Australian marsupial or Aboriginal flute that they'd nickname a Didee.

Orchard and Ordeal were great entries. Nice to learn Oralist. Diurnal is good. It would be fun to see Diurnal, Nocturnal and Crepuscular in the same grid someday but it probably wouldn't be any fun to solve. Leonine and Embassy are beautiful words.

But I think that overall, this puzzle wasn't ready for prime time. It shows a lot of creativity and promise but when you're starting with an answer that's only four years from Social Security eligibility, go back to the drawing board.

Adam 10:53 AM  

The only people who pronounce "Handsome" with a SILENT D are the same people who swallow the first "T" in "important"--that is, butcherers of the English language. And I couldn't even parse ORANGE RED until I came here--I was thinking "what the hell is ORANGERED?"


And get off my lawn.

thfenn 11:00 AM  

Oof. Forgot to mention the strike that wasn't. We covered the nonstrike called a strike. Last night we had a strike called a nonstrike. Will concede that the call didn't, on its own, determine the final outcome, but we (lol, us Red Sox) would've at least been out of the inning. Knocking off at 5PM sharp today...

bocamp 11:06 AM  

Can't hear any difference between 'handsome' and 'hansom' (as in the carriage); tho, my mind tries to tell me the 'd' is perceptible, my ears don't agree. I find forcing the 'd' makes an awkward sounding 'hand some'. Others' mileage may vary. lol

Had CAHN before KAHN, but maybe I've finally learned to take a moment with the 'C's and 'K's before deciding. KAVA over cAVA was the clincher.

The LEX / COX cross gave pause, but seemed the right way to go.

td 0

Peace ~ Compassion ~ Tolerance ~ Kindness to all πŸ•Š

Joseph Michael 11:15 AM  

Starting off with a “letteral” clue crossing another “letteral” clue did not bode well for this morning’s solve. And trying to remember the title of a 1964 Anka song, the name of an old Olds, the location of a SoCal plaza, and the first and last names of a trans actress didn’t help. There was so much trivia and pop culture that I almost gave up half way through, packed my bags, and moved to PATAGONIA. This was anything but STRESS FREE.

Liked the theme concept and thought it worked best with ORCHARD and ORDEALS. But preferred @Lewis’s approach overall.

At least I can say I learned something. Here I was all this time and didn’t realize that I was DIURNAL.

Z 11:41 AM  

πŸ˜‚πŸ€£πŸ˜‚πŸ€£ - Nothing better than a SILENT D Controversy - πŸ˜‚πŸ€£πŸ˜‚πŸ€£
Merriam-Webster supports that the SILENT D is standard, gives a little parenthetical "t" to suggest that some people pronounce that D as a "t" sound, and then has the lovely audio button with the clearly SILENT D. The best part of Merriam-Webster entry, though, is the etymology:
History and Etymology for handsome

Middle English
handsom easy to manipulate

BTW - "Hansom" as in the easy to manipulate carriage has the exact same pronunciation according to Merriam-Webster (but not the same etymology, "hansom" is actually an eponym)

Also, "Parenthetical T" would be a great band name.

Masked and Anonymous 11:45 AM  

Puztheme played out a little weird at our house. Maybe cuz I expected it was up to more than it was. I figured somehow the theme answers would make sense in their clues, no matter which way U parsed em. Now, that woulda been impressive. Nope. Wrong again, M&A breath.

Still, the fillins had some nice 'tude, so overall I enjoyed myself. Luvly selection of 28 weejects, btw.
staff weeject pick: TXT. Debut runtword.

@RP: Isolated corners? When there's more than one way into each of em? Wha?!

Thanx for the or-dealies, Mr. Tuffs dude.

Masked & AnonymoUUs

p.s. Nice Either-or-dealies, @Lewis.

thfenn 11:58 AM  

@Z 11:41 lol, loved the etymology. Have to remember that.

egsforbreakfast 12:05 PM  

Gentleman A: That’s a Hansom Cab you’re driving.
Gentleman B: It certainly isn’t. It’s painted an ugly color, the seats are ripped and two of the wheels are missing spokes.
Gentleman A: That may be so, but it is still most definitely a Hansom Can.
Gentleman B: Perhaps you’d like to buy it from me, if you’re so smitten.
Gentleman A: Definitely not. It’s the ugliest thing I’ve ever seen!
Gentleman B: Who’s on first?

With a new James Bond movie just out, I think 33A should have been clued as “Goldfinger’s henchman.”

“Which Ghostbusters character has the best first name? Ray _____________”
“Would you describe this cold wind as fresh ______________?”
“Is the correct term Buffalo _______________?”


Good puzzle. Pretty fun. But I definitely prounce the “D”. Thanks David W. Tuffs.

Frantic Sloth 12:24 PM  

@Z 1141am Oh, shut up about your Merriam-Webster already. 🀣😘
Yeah yeah - no "d" sound/subtle "d" (or, stupidly, "t"), but tough. I talks like I talks. Besides, everyone knows it's "sammich".
Parenthetical T(entacle and Placebo) should be a regular act.

mathgent 12:24 PM  

My favorite posts this morning.

Lewis (6:30)
ar (6:34)
Anonymous (10:40)

Joe Dipinto 12:24 PM  

"Can I bring you some toast or egg?"
"Uh, no
, thank you."

I like Lewis's treatment better but this puzzle works very well, imo.

ORANGE-RED is definitely a color. It was one of the first eight colors retired by Crayola, along with Green-Blue, Violet-Blue, Orange-Yellow, Blue-Gray, Lemon Yellow, Raw Umber, and Maize. They claimed they did "research" and that children didn't like those colors, but I don't believe that for one second. What else but Orange-Red were you supposed to color tomatoes, fire engines, and autumn leaves with? I could see getting rid of Maize and Raw Umber, they were ugly, but most of the others were useful: Orange-Yellow for corn (which Maize was not good for); Blue-Gray for stormy skies; Lemon Yellow for...lemons? Hello-oo?

You could be accepting an Oscar on someone else's behalf, in which case you are not an AWARDEE. @Roo – It's true one or the other half of ESO BESO is in the puzzle a lot; what people may mean is they don't remember the song itself, which I don't either. I checked my Billboard book and it peaked at #19, making it Paul Anka's 21st-highest-charting "hit". It wouldn't be crossworthy except for its letter combination and convenience as short fill.

Take a ride in the sky
On the ship Fanta-sigh

Other David 12:27 PM  

Okay silly pretty fun puzzle. Bad cluing.

Silent d in handsome? As in a hansom cab? Not in my universe.
And yeah, crossing that with the "ems" nonsense is just pitiful.

A text file is an "alternative" to an executable file, which is to say a letter you've written is an "alternative" to the program you've used to write it? Again, not in my universe. Would you really send the program to the person rather than the letter? Or try to run a letter on your computer? Epic stupidity here.

As I recall, the puzzle seemed okay. Too bad all I remember is this stuff.

EdFromHackensack 12:40 PM  

Do you pronounce “handsome” and “Hanson” differently ? I do, so I have a problem with 3D.

A 12:41 PM  

Thanks to @Joe Dipinto’s comment the other day, I didn’t start at one across, instead glanced over the clues for anything interesting. Not only did I avoid the EMS/SILENTD ODD SET, but what do I see but Irene ADLER - “The Woman” (and opera singer) who outsmarted Sherlock Holmes. Won over, just like that, with one of my favorite Doyle stories. @Nancy and others, if you didn’t know this Irene, read “A Scandal in Bohemia” OR check out
the TV version with Jeremy Brett, David Burke, & Gayle Hunnicut
the radio broadcast with Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce

I thought this one had a lot going for it - goofy sense of humor (OR ANGE RED), varied interests (music, alternative medicine, cultural and geographical diversity, movies - ok maybe heavy on the movie clues). Sadly, I ended with a goof - had LEg for the Latin and didn’t know LAVERNE.

Strange that Re”x” was put off by the X’s - I liked the whimsy. Is a TEXT bigger in TX?

@Lewis, great additional options! @Roo, @egs, y’all too!

Con’t have too many PRINGLES or you’ll need to LOOSEN your belt.

Loved PATAGONIA, right down the middle - a DIURNAL FANTASY destination.

I’d like my “days on” to be STRESS-FREE TRAVAIL.

Those VEGANS can keep their FANTASY meat, I’ll take oatmeal with milk and honey.

Here’s something you might not expect from our mystery birthday composer.

Nigel Pottle 12:49 PM  

Please tell me that OFL was kidding when he confused ORALIST with OR A-LIST instead of missing the point entirely. That just strikes me as funny since obviously it had to do with actors. And A-list is a common word in crosswords. Usually Rex helps me understand why an answer makes sense when I’m scratching my head. I’m unlikely to be the first to mention this since there are so many comments already but this makes me feel one iota smarter than him lol.

jae 1:01 PM  

@oceanjeremy - taking benadryl frequently is not a good idea, especially for people of a certain age.

Anonymous 1:01 PM  

The word is SAMICH!

Seriously, the D in handsome is weaker than the D in sandwich but it's still there. (Hated that corner.)

Car trivia:

CIERA Oldsmobile sedan

Sierra GMC pickup

Sienna Toyota minivan

Teedmn 1:06 PM  

I liked the ORANGE-RED answer - it reminded me of the many times I pondered the order of the crayola crayon names - why is green blue more blue or orange red more red? I went out on the web to see if there was an ORANGE-RED crayon and all I found were pictures of RED ORANGE. I did find the following link though, which I would call NSFW except someone would have to be verrry close to your screen to see them. Perhaps it's more precise to say they may not pass the breakfast test. It's lunch time here... Inappropriate back-to-school crayons

@Roo, my co-worker and I got a laugh from your ESO BESO discussion. After finishing the puzzle, he said he hadn't heard of ESO BESO. I said I knew it because it was in the puzzle all the time. Then I read your comment!

I liked the puzzle, it was Wednesday average difficulty and a nice twist, though @Lewis's version had more style. Thanks, David W. Tufts.

JC66 1:09 PM  


Look again at the theme answers. Each of them is both a word starting with OR...ORALIST, and a phrase that begins with the clue (Is she unknown _______?) and starts with the word OR...OR A-LIST).

puzzlehoarder 1:15 PM  

Another early week puzzle I enjoyed. The extra resistance is always appreciated.

Puzzles beat ESO BESO into my head years ago.

I had the EINE/EINS write over.

That (t) sound in handsome is barely there but I'm convinced that it makes a subtle difference. I'm also sure my ears could never hear it.

IRENE ADLER is a star on two separate xwordinfo clue lists. Always study those lists and watch your solving improve.

Initially I tried to spell the capital as ADDIISABBA and wondered why I was short a square. Years of putting ABBA into puzzles has polluted my mind.

RACE-RNS and MEET-MDS was a two for one write over.

ORANGE RED is the one themer I don't quite buy. To me it's more green paint than green paint itself. Jammed together it looks kind of like a verb for being turned into an ape.

DIURNAL is no more obscure than nocturnal.

@Lewis, your themers are better.

Never heard of LAVERNE COX but it was fairly crossed so no harm done.

yd -7 ( that included a pangram, ouch)

Nigel Pottle 1:17 PM  

I read the comments and am disappointed in so many. I don’t watch television and I’ve never seen Orange is the New Black but I do know that Laverne Cox, a trans woman, was in the series, and with a decent role, not just a walk-on. I can’t understand why so many misunderstood OR A-LIST. Orange-red is a real colour - as someone pointed out, how else would you colour a tomato. And Irene ADLER - c’mon folks, anyone who’s read Sherlock Holmes should know ADLER, since other than his house-keeper, she is the only woman of importance in any of the stories of Arthur Conan Doyle. That you didn’t get these answers doesn’t make it a bad puzzle. In fact I thought it was one of the better ones. And if you deny knowing Madeline KAHN just go watch Young Frankenstein. She’s so funny. Also if you’ve ever played around with psyedelics, KAVA should be on your radar. Along with Ayahuasca which needs to appear in a puzzle if it hasn’t already

Missy 1:23 PM  

Fantastic puzzle! So smart!!

sharon ak 1:30 PM  

@mmorgan 8:27 thanks for the laugh
@pablo 9:12 burnt orange is different, brownish. Although red-orange sounds more familiar to me than orange-red.

Definitely, the "d" is Not silent in "handsome", though, perhaps less pronounced than in "sandwich".
On the other hand the "e" is silent, so that clue does seem bad.

Can anyone explain to me why one day I can see entries posted at times like 1:30 am and the next day, when I happen to have done the puzzle by 12 am or 1am Alaska time, thus 4 or 5am eastern time, I see only the previous day's post?

I am rarely awake at that time, but this has happened maybe three times. Frustrating, because I'd like, occasionally to be reading and posting when there is someone else around.

TTrimble 1:41 PM  

Wow, some amazing comments today. More in a moment.

I found this puzzle straightforward, in fact easy. But some nice words sitting there.

Someday, maybe next time I'm in The City, I'll go to a KAVA bar to get the real thing. Yogi Tea makes Kava tea bags, and I'll steep two at a time for my cup, and yes I can feel its relaxing properties (and a slight numbness in the lips), but the real thing must be rather more effective. It's said you better not overdo the real stuff, like on a daily basis, because you can damage your liver that way -- but I think the Yogi Tea preparation is pretty tame.

I like to pair the word DIURNAL with workaday consciousness, as opposed to the nocturnal dreaming mind.

I'm with Rex in finding ORALIST, as a word in its own right, unfamiliar. I'm not with Rex in finding BAO "delicious to contemplate". Guess I'm not too up on my Pixar shorts.

On the matter of SILENT D in "handsome" -- I sure wish @LMS were here to weigh in, but I think it might be relevant to consider the phonology of the letter d. On its own, it's a voiced dental stop sound, meaning that the flow of air is temporarily stopped by the tongue against the teeth, followed by a quick release, a little puff of air, which you can hear if you say "deed", almost like a second syllable. In my own experience, "handsome" is usually pronounced with two syllables (not three), where the "n" is pretty clearly voiced (meaning the vocal chords vibrate when you pronounce it) but the "s" is unvoiced. The transition from the consonants n to s happens so quickly that either it's very hard to clearly distinguish the voiced "d" from the voiced "n" (thus, "silent d"), or, it sounds like a "t", which is the unvoiced parallel to "d", to pair with the unvoiced "s", resulting in something like "hantsome" as noted by @Z.

It's nothing remotely like not pronouncing the first "t" in "important", @Adam 10:53.

@Nigel Pottle
Read what Rex wrote again. Where he explains the theme, he clearly understands that the the answers are clued like multi-word phrases (in this case, "or a-list"), but that the answers are also standalone words, and he's merely remarking that "oralist" as the standalone word is not familiar to him. I think we can take it as a given that he gets it, and that you're not smarter than him in this instance.

td 0

Hugo 1:49 PM  

Sorry. I just looked and does not support a silent D at all. Neither the pronunciation guides nor the audio playback of the word sport a silent D.

Not you–who I suspect referred to a hard copy dictionary from a time when it may have been a common pronunciation–but I’m thinking too many people here have just accepted the clue/answer as being correct without question. I’m very surprised. I have ever heard anyone elide the D, not in the America East, Midwest, Southeast, Texas, California or Florida.

EdFromHackensack 1:53 PM  

Me too

Hugo 1:58 PM  

Merriam Webster,, indeed shows a NON-silent D (or T) sound in the word. It is even clearly heard in the audio version of the pronunciation.

I’m so surprised so many–not you, of course–accepted this but didn’t seem to check.

I just had a horrible thought: so many of these dictionary sites clearly plagiarize from one another. How awful to think the word pronunciation will shift not because speakers of the language were found to do so by the lexicographer‘s but because so many assume what they find on the web is correct due to a lack of–again, please, I am not referring to you–in information site quality.

Joe Dipinto 1:58 PM  

@Morgan 8:27 has the best post of the day. I'm still laughing.

@A, I like that Ives sonata. I may check out that recording since I don't own versions of Sonatas #1 and #2.

@Teedmn – I used to wonder about Crayola's naming conventions too, and eventually figured that the second word was the base color and the first word was supposed to be an adjective. So Orange-Red meant "an orangey shade of red", and Red-Orange meant "a reddish shade of orange", etc.

Hugo 2:00 PM  

Hear hear! Merriam Webster’s site clearly shows the D (or even T) pronounced in both the text and in the audio clip.

Hugo 2:03 PM  

Correction! I have the wrong URL but my statements stand:

Where are people seeing otherwise?

Hugo 2:10 PM  

As I’ve commented elsewhere clearly shows a NON-silent D/T in the pronunciation guide AND the audio clip.

I further suggest if you remain in doubt about the audio clip, use a free tool like audacity, download the audio clip for the pronunciation from the Merriam Webster site and look at the waveform. The D/T is physically present even though many cannot hear it, our individual audio processors–not to mention wide variety of phones, computers, headsets, and speakers–may seem to us to disagree.

FWIW I enjoyed today’s puzzle. I found myself, regrettably, too busy to do a Wed-Sun puzzle for about four months. I’m glad I resumed last week. This was my second Wednesday since I did. Being a fan of Madeline Kahn from her heyday in the 70s and 80s, I was fortunate not to misspell it. That would’ve made the bottom right and execrable experience. 😁

Unknown 2:28 PM  

It's rare that I don't like a puz. Today was one.
Starting with EMS at 1A just set a tone for me.
I got the SILENTD, but didn't care for it.
Felt like a whole lot of names and movies . . . . more of a trivia challenge.

Ken Freeland 2:39 PM  

Theme was thin gruel, but the puzzle on the whole was eminently workable... why can't the Sunday puzzles be this well edited?

Z 3:33 PM  

@Hugo - What are you hearing? There is no "D" or "T" sound in that audio clip. I also double checked and putting a sound in parenthesis indicate that what is symbolized between is present in some utterances but not in others:{the example from the pdf didn't paste correctly}
Link to Full Pronunciation Guide pdf here

As for Sandwich, MW suggests san-wich, sand-wich, sam-wich, and saΕ‹-wich (Ε‹ is the terminal consonant in "sing"). I pronounce it taco.

Anonymous 3:48 PM  

I seriously doubt that @Rex missed the OR A-LIST aspect of the answer. The theme answers are OR _________ , which, when all the letters are used, become unrelated words. He was just questioning the legitimacy of ORALIST. Pretty sure he understood the theme.

The Joker 4:01 PM  

I think Linda Lovelace was an ORALIST.

G. Weissman 4:11 PM  

Just not enough proper names: CIERA, KAHN, GAL, ADLER, PRINGLE, LAVERNE COX, LEE, OWEN, PATAGONIA, ESOBESO … and ADDISABABA crossing BAO, the low point for me. Agree that ORANGERED is the pits. Clue for EMS meant to be clever but is… not. 2 out of 4 stars.

Frantic Sloth 4:43 PM  

Since it has now become "a thing", here's this.

retired guy 5:11 PM  

Wordsworth, Shmwordsworth... "Diurnal" for me comes from Swinburne's Garden of Proserpine... the best in high falutin doggerel:

From too much love of living,
From hope and fear set free,
We thank with brief thanksgiving
Whatever gods may be
That no life lives for ever;
That dead men rise up never;
That even the weariest river
Winds somewhere safe to sea.

Then star nor sun shall waken,
Nor any change of light:
Nor sound of waters shaken,
Nor any sound or sight:
Nor wintry leaves nor vernal,
Nor days nor things diurnal;
Only the sleep eternal
In an eternal night.

As long as you don't mind rhyming "river" and "never" it all works.

Anonymous 5:30 PM  

What is wrong with calm or angered?

Aelurus 5:38 PM  

@Rex – Thanks for the coinage of “letteral” clues! – great way to reduce a concept we see often to its essence.

@Lewis 6:30 am – Inspired “or” theme set. And like others (@Frantic, @Tom T, @oceanjeremy, @amyyanni, and many more), I appreciated them more than the themes here. Favorite one in this puzz: ORLANDO, because it was the aha moment, because I amazingly remembered LANDO Calrissian.

DNF at the COX/LEX cross.

Learned ESOBESO, guessing BESO because knew that meant “kiss.”

Other favorites:
Irene ADLER. Because she’s the only woman (perhaps person) to outsmart Sherlock Holmes.

PRINGLE(s) – My go-to stress snack. Because I discovered the original now has a lightly salted version. I remember my dad always putting salt on his cantaloupe. I grew up never appreciating it as a flavoring, I guess. Even a little salt seems to take over. There are 5 tubes of Pringles in my pantry closet just in case one of those supply ships out in the Pacific Ocean miles and miles from shore is carrying the last thousand containers of Pringles to be offloaded for the winter.

@jberg 9:35 am – and some animals are crepuscular! There’s always a specialist out there.

@A from yesterday 1:49 pm – Thank you for posting about Esperanza Spalding! Loved the poem “Little Fly,” then got goose bumps listening to Esperanza Spalding’s playing and singing. Going to download one of her albums; do you have a favorite? Your observation about A CUTE ACCENT brought a big smile, too.

Rob 5:51 PM  

This is a great set of theme answers

okanaganer 6:01 PM  

I posted about 3 hours ago but it vanished, I guess. I think I said something like: hands up for EINE crossing DADE. If you go to a translate site, it will probably translate EINE as ONE.

Also hands up for pronouncing the D in handsome. Handsup!... get it?

[SB yd -1 because of a weird Mexican dish that I've never heard of. Even Google thinks it's Spanish for a certain wind instrument.]

JD 6:31 PM  

@Hugo, I did check M-W, I did listen to the pronunciation and I did see this: han(t)-sΙ™m. The (t) does not suggest the hard stop D that I'm used (uste) to saying.

CDilly52 6:43 PM  

Nice job!

CDilly52 6:44 PM  

Hand up for the SILENT e. Good grief.

TTrimble 7:06 PM  

Here's what I see in M-W: \ ˈhan(t)-sΙ™m. Not a "d" in sight. (Is that the "pronunciation guide" you are referring to?) Nor, when I click on the audio, do I hear a clearly distinguished "d". Maybe some people will say they hear it, but I for one don't hear it clearly.

The case of "hands up!" is interesting. I posit that the "s" is frequently voiced (again, in the technical sense, where the vocal chords vibrate, making a z sound), so that the voiced dental stop of "d" has a greater chance of being perceived.

My mother-in-law is German by birth but has lived in in North America for close to 70 years, and it took me a long time to figure out a peculiar thing that she does. It seems to me, very frequently, that past the initial consonant, she tends to voice consonants so that "p" becomes "b", "k" becomes a hard "g", and so forth. For example, when my daughter was young, she expressed her liking for "gurgens" which is what Oma had on hand and the way she herself said it. I had to tell Lydia that it was "gherkins" (by that time I figured out what Oma was doing to consonants). Similarly, I often tease my wife for referring to her father as "paba", which I maintain is directly traceable to the way her mom referred to "papa" when she was growing up.

Charlie 7:35 PM  

I couldn't tell, did Rex not get that?

Charlie 7:42 PM  

Irene Adler is one of the few female characters in Sherlock Holmes.
But I agree it was a frustrating puzzle.

TTrimble 8:23 PM  

Gotta admit, this from Rex's review made me laugh:

"There'd be days when the whole grid was just an ALERO parking lot. "Why are there six ALEROs in this puzzle?" you'd ask, befuddled. Nobody knew..."

Nancy 10:09 PM  

Thanks to everyone who supplied info on Irene ADLER (not yet again another forgettable TV actress but rather an important character in an important Sherlock Holmes mystery. Didn't realize "A Scandal in Bohemia" was a Holmes yarn; thought it was some forgettable Netflix series I haven't watched.

Special thanks to @A who provided a link to the entire episode on TV. I've copied the link in an email to myself and will watch it on the next rainy day.

albatross shell 11:14 PM  

Sure wish you had posted the meaning of () in M-W earlier. It would have saved me the trouble. I also checked my old Webster's New International and found out Hansom and HANDSOME have identical pronunciations there and re-read part of your most interesting origin stories. When solving I said both words many times trying to hear if there was a difference. As often is the case, it comes down to I can go either way and once you start listening carefully it alters how you say it and who knows at that point.

This puzzle had so many pluses I did not care about the minuses. The pluses erased some of the minuses.

The clue play. The hitched clues with the same number of letters. And I was betting SADDLED would be one of them.

EBOBESO echoed by ADDISABABA and more refracted echoes in the rest of the puzzle: PATAGONIA LEONINE ORLANDO-ORALIST ORDEALS-ORCHARD SAIDIDO.

CHIAPET HENDRIX ORALIST stack is worth the price of admission.

The TOV-HOI cross. Weird wild and wonderful. A brilliant use of the wee ones. Then there was the LAVERNE COX LEX LAX EXT TXT X-FEST and that was echoed by a smaller L-fest in the south. And look at the crazy pairs of parallel downs EIS-UAE TXT-EXT that seem to be crazy spelling reminders of the EBOBESO stuff above. Crazy cool shit. Go all the way you say. And some just solid wee ones. RIM SLY ODE.

TRAVAIL DIURNAL good stuff. Surprised so many blanked on DIURNAL.

And I repeat. Spanish and French all the time and two wee German words. One pronounced just like the English and one a variant of the "a" equivalent. For the record: 1,2,3. EINS zwei drei. One is EINS. Not 'a'. German expert am I nicht.

albatross shell 11:16 PM  

Keep that foeORALLY shit up and grace will be thine.

David Eisner 11:57 PM  

BAO is a Pixar short film -- not from a feature-length movie. It's terrific: touching and bizarre all at once. It's on Disney+. So many of the Pixar shorts are worth seeking out.

RooMonster 12:44 AM  

😁😁 πŸ‘ πŸ™ƒ

Anonymous 1:08 AM  

You'd hear "diurnal" a lot more if you had a science-obsessed elementary schooler ... and lived in my house. She won't let me forget that word!

Anonymous 4:26 AM  

An oralist is a cunning linguist.

AlanB 4:04 PM  

Actually, VEGANS (49D: Ones likely to enjoy the land of milk and honey) do *not* eat milk; honey, yes--my wife assures me.

Anonymous 9:17 PM  

Getting tired of the woke clues. Not transphobic, but I should know these people for something that they have accomplished other than just being trans. E.g., RuPaul is trans and has leveraged that into something I have actually heard of. Aside from that, imagine the comments if the NYTCW pushed rightwing buzzwords. I am apolitical and an 'nonafiliated' (formerly known as independent) voter, so I hate to see agendas pushed on either end of the spectrum.

Diana, LIW 10:20 AM  

A tad more difficult for me than Mon or Tues. Had to pause for a moment and ask for help from the paws.

Have a happy T-day, all! OR ELSE!!!!

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

spacecraft 11:19 AM  

See the problem with those !&%#* SILENT-[whatever] clues? You carelessly pick a word with two OR more of 'em, and confusion ensues. I have a great solution for this: BAN SILENT-[whatever] CLUES FOREVER!!! 3-down will, BTW, automatically add a penalty stroke.

End of rant. I have to essentially go along with OFC on this one. Our newbie led with his chin on that first themer: ORLANDO was fun and excellent. But there's a big fall-off from there. The central one, especially--the one you really need to stick the landing on--is a hyphenated color we used to call "valeria." It's a pretty color, but...

Also I agree with the too-often use of short-fill X's. This guy doesn't know when to quit. The COX/LEX cross is great; then it's off into the weeds.

I had one writeover when I put in STRESSless instead of STRESSFREE. Soon corrected. Easy enough to do, but not very pleasurable. Par +1 for 3d: bogey.

Burma Shave 3:05 PM  


ALAS, the ORDEALS of being MARRIED –
happy OR_ANGERED the ACT went through –
the ODD TRAVAILs and STRESS the JOB carried
after your GAL and you SAIDIDO.


thefogman 3:05 PM  

It’s great that Will Shortz is encouraging new constructors, but he should do his job and edit their work so they are of acceptable quality. This one is definitely not of acceptable quality for the NYT, and that’s on WS not the constructor.

rondo 3:17 PM  

Not sure this belongs in the NYT. What others have said, plus 26 threes. Oof.

Lili Von Shtupp as played by Madeline KAHN, yeah baby.

Remember Jerry ORBACH?

Unknown 6:57 PM  

Rex, I have no idea if you will see this since my local paper just published the October 20 puzzle. We are 6 weeks behind.
But I found your puzzlement about oralist quite odd. It is or a-list. Look at the clue.

Brett Alan 9:08 PM  

Unknown, the clues which start with "Or" all have double meanings. "Orlando" is Han Solo "or Lando" but it's also the city of Orlando. So the clue you refer to is "Or a-list" but also "Oralist". That's the theme of the puzzle.

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