Top Italian soccer league / TUE 10-5-21 / Really in textspeak / Stage name of Adam Yauch of the Beastie Boys / Signature Phil Collins his ranked among VH1's 100 Greatest Songs of the 80s / The me of Despicable Me

Tuesday, October 5, 2021

Constructor: Hoang-Kim Vu and Jessica Zetzman

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging (*for a Tuesday*)

THEME: HEARTBROKEN (60A: Despondent ... as progressively  suggested by 17-, 24-, 38- and 48-Across) — letter string "HEART" is found in first theme answer, and in each successive theme answer, the  same letter string can be found "broken," with the "HEART" parts one square farther apart with each successive themer:

Theme answers:
  • "THEARTOFWAR" (17A: Classic work with chapters titled "Attack by Stratagem" and "Maneuvering an Army")
  • "INTHEAIRTONIGHT" (24A: Signature Phil Collins hit ranked among VH1's "100 Greatest Songs of the 80s")
  • SWITCHESPARTIES (38A: Changes political affiliation)
  • HEADFORTHEHILLS (48A: Flee to remote safety)
Word of the Day: SERIE A (5D: Top Italian soccer league) —
Serie A (Italian pronunciation: [ˈsɛːrje ˈa]), also called Serie A TIM for sponsorship reasons, is a professional league competition for football clubs located at the top of the Italian football league system and the winner is awarded the Scudetto and the Coppa Campioni d'Italia. It has been operating as a round-robin tournament for over ninety years since the 1929–30 season. It had been organized by the Direttorio Divisioni Superiori until 1943 and the Lega Calcio until 2010, when the Lega Serie A was created for the 2010–11 season. Serie A is regarded as one of the best football leagues in the world and it is often depicted as the most tactical and defensively sound national league. Serie A was the world's strongest national league in 2020 according to IFFHS, and is ranked third among European leagues according to UEFA's league coefficient, behind La Liga and the Premier League and ahead of the Bundesliga and Ligue 1, which is based on the performance of Italian clubs in the Champions League and the Europa League during the previous five years. Serie A led the UEFA ranking from 1986 to 1988 and from 1990 to 1999. (wikipedia)
• • •

Loads of problems with this theme, both in concept and in execution. Let's start with the fact that once "heart" is "broken" ... it's broken. It can't be more broken. Or, rather, moving "heart" parts farther apart does not break "heart" more. It's the same amount of broken: just broken. I don't get the concept of moving the "heart" parts one square farther apart each time. What is being illustrated? Once you break "heart," you're HEARTBROKEN ... the rest isn't very meaningful. Also, technically "heart" breaks across two words even in the first answer (where HEART is supposed to be intact). That is, if I write out "THE ART OF WAR" with normal spacing, as you can see ... "heart," broken (between the words "THE" and "ART"). So the concept gets muddled further there. The worst part, though, was that the puzzle is trying to sell you on this idea of a "progression" in the theme, with the two parts of "heart" getting one square farther apart each time, but (huge "but") ... they're not the same parts. That is, the "heart" first breaks between "A" and "R" (in "INTHEAIRTONIGHT"), so there's an "HEA" part and an "RT" part. But in the next themer, those aren't the two parts at all—the "break" happens between the "E" and the "A"! So there aren't two "heart" parts drifting farther apart each time; there are three separate and distinct breaks, and while yes, each break is one square bigger, the whole idea of "progression" is destroyed when the initial breaking place is not maintained through all the themers. It's really wobbly all around, this theme. 
Also, what is up with the Phil Collins clue? Who cares about VH1's "100 Greatest Songs of the 80s"—that info tells us absolutely nothing. "IN THE AIR TONIGHT" is noteworthy primarily for having one of the most famous beat drops in pop music history: two seconds of drum fill that have become legendary. Whole articles have been written about it. Maybe reference that in your clue; at any rate, reference something more specific and colorful than VH1's "100 Greatest Songs of the 80s," which is just a long-winded and not particularly revealing way of signifying "'80s hit." 
The fill is also oddly ROUGH. Lots of overcommon stuff, and then HOLO- and AIRES and L'OEIL, which are unappealing stand-alone fragments. I don't get the fill choices in some of the smaller, easier-to-fill places. Like the east, what is happening there? A tiny 3x4 section you could fill a million ways and we are subjected to both THU and USD? Both of those are OK if you really need them, but you don't here. Actually, let's leave the innocuous THU alone. But my god, how is USD / HERD better than USE / HERE?? USE is not exciting, but at least there's a million different ways to clue it, and it's a complete, non-abbr. word, whereas USD (short for "the US dollar") is strictly a "break in case of emergency" ill option. Or HERA / USA! There's another better option. Just doesn't seem like the grid was filled with care. And what the hell is SERIEA doing in a Tuesday puzzle? You gotta push back on your wordlist sometimes, yeesh. This is a Tuesday puzzle and SERIEA will be totally unknown to huge swaths of the solving population (including me). Also, it's mostly uninferable. When I had all the letters in place, I guessed that it was SERIE [space] A and not SERIEA (one word), but I wasn't entirely sure. That is the kind of answer that wants to pass itself off as cool and new, but it's actually just here to provide an AIOLI-like number of vowels, to make filling the grid easier. SERIEA has never been in a grid before, ever, and you're debuting it ... on a Tuesday? This makes no sense. Again, there are so many little considerations that seem to have gone unconsidered in this puzzle. SRSLY

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Frantic Sloth 3:21 AM  

Sometimes I just don't feel like getting all snarky and hyper-critical. This usually involves an out-of-body experience.
The puzz Tuezzed. The theme mehed. I solved. The end.


Joe 4:19 AM  

Crossing MCA with Melb? Srsly?

Ann Howell 4:40 AM  

I tried "LOSING HEART" at first for the revealer, but other than that and needing all of the cross fill for SERIEA, it wasn't *too* terrible, though a little more choppy than a normal Tuesday. It was fine...

Loren Muse Smith 4:52 AM  

I finished without ever even reading the clue for the reveal, so I just figured this was a bunch of BROKEN HEARTS. I was surprised when Rex was talking about how the parts got brokener and brokener. Just thought he was over-analyzing this aspect Until . . . he talked about how the reveal directed our attention to this growing gap. OOPs.

I do have to defend the idea of a heart breaking initially just a little – my first love (college) decides to break up when he moves back to Paris. Then a little more – he reunites with Sophie. Then even more – they marry and have a kid. So at least in my world, there are definitely gradations of the extent of a heartbreak. I need to let this go.

There were a crap ton of sports-related entries (7?) and music entries (8?). This doesn’t anger me; I just noticed it, is all.

Cool to have STENT in the grid, which addresses a different kind of broken heart.

I was stunned to learn the fashion rule about the TIE and the width of the lapel. Now I have to go back and study the jackets and TIES in all their iterations on Mad Men.

Just like the problematic unchartered territory (I always say uncharted), checkered PAST for me I think usually ends up being checked.

Loved GO BAG. I kinda have one in the form of my train case, which has everything I need pre-packed, save my farding kit. Man oh man why didn’t I do this sooner. And AND. . . it has the single most brilliant piece of equipment thanks to Mom’s genius idea: a 12-ft. extension cord. Always packed, always at the ready to be called into action for the times when all the outlets close to the bed are spoken for. Other than that, GO BAG feels kind of medical(ISH).

Spill the TEA. Only after I became obsessed with the cesspool that is Bravo TV did I become aware of this expression. I’ve looked into it for everyone, and there are two schools of thought as to its origin:
1. Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil - the protagonist talks about his T, his Truth.
2. Southern ladies sitting on the front porch drinking tea and cheerfully eviscerating all their friends.

And I have to say again that I heard once on The Real Housewives of Atlanta a woman refer to gossiping about someone as some major bitchassment, which is just an epic word.

Conrad 5:39 AM  

I found this one easy-medium. The only hang-up was @Joe MCA x MEL B at 46A. I didn't know SERIE A, but I got all the crosses so I didn't need to. I didn't know there was a space until I read @Rex. I grokked the theme and filled in the rest of the shaded squares after filling in the first two themers.

Anonymous 5:58 AM  

,Joe ailed it. Spice Girl crossing Beastie Boy? C’mon, man.

bocamp 6:14 AM  

Thx Hoang-Kim Vu & Jessica Zetzman for a very crunchy, challenging Tues. puz! :)


Very hit and miss; all over the place on this one.

Lots of new stuff made for an interesting adventure.

Got lucky on a couple of guesses; GO BAG / GRU; MCA / MELB.

SERIE A was brought home by fair crosses.

Knew HALAL from SB, and ADA from past xwords and reading about her contributions to computing.

Even tho this was a battle, it was very enjoyable. Liked it a lot.


Croce's #649 was overall probably the hardest one ever for me. I worked on it for most of the day, with short breaks here and there. Probably spent at least 6-8 hrs solving time on it.

Very satisfying, even tho a two cell dnf at the junky car and the band (I need to learn my airport codes). Thx for the challenge! See you next Mon. :)

yd 0 (in triple overtime lol) / td p maybe; g definitely; approx. -5 give or take.

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

ncmathsadist 6:31 AM  

Not enamored with the MCA MELB proper name cross.

Todd F. 6:48 AM  

ICYMI Phil Collins deer:

ebtobiassen 6:59 AM  

Rex's critique of the theme of the heart breaking is a finely calculated mix of pedantry and malice, or, seemingly, pedantry in the service of malice. Heartbreak can be a process, not just an instant transition of states. And that process can feel like an ever greater distancing from the loved object or one's former feelings, no? So then, why not appreciate the way the puzzle evokes and demonstrate the process?

Rachel LS 7:08 AM  

yes, this!

Trey 7:16 AM  

Easy for me, but one area of major re-writes. I am not sure if this was the intent of the constructor or not, but the NE corner had at least two plausible but wrong answers. I had GRU immediately (great movie), and then went to the downs. Gauze is prepacked for an emergency (small packs of two for a scrape, or a tub of 5 or so for larger wounds), and a slice goes Right (unfortunately, always, not sometimes, so reading the clue closer may have helped here) That left me with I_zhE for "It's reversed in a mirror". Yes, I did then wasted a little time to try to figure out if my answer had to be reversed, or if there was supposed to be a palindrome or something. With complete confidence in all my answers, I had to rely on the Phil Collins answer to figure out which were in error. After that little diversion, the grid continued to fall. I agree with the MELB and MCA crossing. I listen to neither group, and only knew that there were two MELs in Spice Girls from seeing one of them on some TV show.

I am OK with the theme and answers. Yes, you could argue that the parts of HEART should get progressively further apart (based on the wording of the clue), but the break did progress through the word HEART, so it met at least one interpretation of the clue. I would be more upset with this if the theme was very difficult to suss out (and the answers required you to understand the theme, as some of the rebus puzzles do), but here, one could get all the answers just as easily if it were a themeless. So, maybe not the tightest theme in the world, but still a good puzzle and a reasonable theme.

kitshef 7:16 AM  

I knew MEL B and even MCA rang a faint bell, but I can imagine some HOWLS about that cross.

Apparently, there were no crossworthy sprinters who ran in this century? Or were even alive in this century? Not that I will ever object to being reminded of Wilma Rudolph. Did you know she had polio as a child?

Son Volt 7:23 AM  

I liked this one - cute theme, well built. Theme is so dense - three spanners - the remaining fill does suffer some. IN APP, DUE IN, SRSLY are all pretty bad. As a golfer liked the slice clue for ROUGH. Learned IOWA.

The late, great Adam Yauch should be a gimme to all - you can find him in the RRHOF for further research. Start with Paul’s Boutique.

Enjoyable Tuesday solve.

amyyanni 7:29 AM  

Another solver a tad nonplussed by MCA crossing MELB. Otherwise, an ok Tuesday. Can't see the sideways broken heart.
We're going into about 3 days of rain, glib. Happy Tuesday.

Steve Clancy 7:37 AM  


John H 7:42 AM  

I really dislike the on line solve feature that highlights connected answers. When you land on one they all pop up, This means you don't have to search for the revealer (at least not very hard) and you instantly know that you have a theme going.

As for this puzzle, I didn't bother finish. Early on I entered all the letters of h e a r t in the shaded areas before going further. Then when I read the revealer I just went "duh" and left the room.

Jnkmd 7:55 AM  

Cowboy's charge is head, as in cattle
Cowboy's charges is a head

SouthsideJohnny 8:13 AM  

It’s still early and a significant number of posters have commented/complained about the Beastie Boy crossing a Spice Girl - I wholeheartedly agree. I know they are both popular supergroups - but (correct me if I’m wrong) I don’t believe either is the “fab four” of their generation. Try having a guitarist for the Grateful Dead crossing the drummer for the Doors, for example - generically the same clue, but it still stinks. The sad thing is that this blemish on the solving experience is totally self-inflicted - JUST DONT DO IT ! It’s not rocket surgery. Maybe Shortz should get a second gig with Teen Beat or Tiger Beat - have fun and include as many references as you like to Justin Bieber, Selena Gomez, Demi Lovato, all of the Jonas Brothers . . . the lead singer for the Bangtan Boys . . . or maybe really go big and have someone from Coldplay cross a Beastie Boy.

JD 8:23 AM  

I was all set to come here and whine about MCA/MelB when I read Son Volt's comment on @Adam Yauch and looked him up. He deserves a better clue. I still wouldn't have gotten it, but he was certainly much more than the clue implied.

Great theme answers, all on my wavelength except for the Phil Collins song, inferable on the crosses though.

Estee and Pele, long time no sEE.

Something to give your Likes to on Facebook, Frances Haugen’s whistleblowing. A company selling out its country and people worldwide for profit and she's got the paperwork to prove it.

"...a finely calculated mix of pedantry and malice," from @ebtobiassen. Oh that's some beutiful writing.

Zwhatever 8:28 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Nancy 8:35 AM  

I know nothing about the Spice Girls and even less about the Beastie Boys. So, let's see: Is it MELB/MCA, GELB/GCA, KELB/KCA, VELB/VCA? FWIW, I would have guessed MELB/MCA and I would have been right. But I was "right" anyway. I wrote nothing in at all and simply pronounced the puzzle "Solved!!" This is what I always do with ridiculous crosses like this. Works for me.

Now you're going to think I hated this puzzle, what with the above, plus GRU, plus HER. (There's really a singer who calls herself HER??? SRSLY????) But, no, I didn't hate the puzzle -- because it taught me stuff.

What, you might ask. Well, the titles of two chapters from THE ART OF WAR. Where the Ninja Turtles make their home. The state generating the highest percentage of its electricity from wind. And most interesting of all: that "fashion dictates" that the width of a TIE be the same as the width of one's lapels. Who knew?

Some thought and imagination went into the cluing of this puzzle, and that salvaged it for me. I actually liked it.

Joaquin 8:37 AM  

Silly me! I just thought this was a gimmicky Tuesday puzzle meant to provide a few minutes of diversion.

Turns out it is worthy of being analyzed for a Ph.D. dissertation. So what do I know? Apparently, I don't know squat.

Unknown 8:42 AM  

There are days when one wonders if Will Shortz just turned rex down for a date . . .
Today is one of those days.

The slice going into the ROUGH was worth the price of admission.

Even though technically I'm a boomer, I appreciated the references to the Beastie Boys (actually knew it), the Spice Girls (easily inferable) and Phil Collins (not my cup of unspilled tea, but he's really popular).

With the themers running across the grid, and the H/E/A/R/T constraints, I'd say this was a pretty awesome puzzle. As my father used to say, "Those who can, do. Those who can't, criticize." I think we know who he was talking about.

Zwhatever 8:45 AM  

SERIE A. Top of the Italian football pyramid. The bottom three teams are relegated to SERIE B, the relegated teams being replaced by the top two teams from SERIE B and the winner of the playoff (a complicated affair that depends on how close teams finish to third to determine who is in it). At any rate, two words SERIE A.

It took me several precious nanoseconds to process the complaints about Rex’s plaint, but I’m with the commentariat here. We have the metaphor of a broken heart made literal by breaking the word HEART apart, but then the literalness turned back into metaphor to indicate the stages of the metaphorical broken heart (a la @LMS’ college sweetheart). Of course, I didn’t notice any of this because I was too busy being annoyed at having been force fed the theme with the gray cells/circles. SRSLY? We (even novice solvers) are too obtuse to figure out the revealer meaning on our own? Way to spoil a revealer clue.

Licensed to Ill came out in 1986. Wannabe came out 10 years later. I’m generally opposed to crossing Pop Culture from the same area, but these seem pretty Tuezzday friendly for pop music acts, except they are so old maybe younger solvers won’t know them. πŸ€£πŸ˜‚πŸ€£

*autocorrupt strikes again.

Lewis 8:49 AM  

My five favorite clues from last week
(in order of appearance):

1. Each ... as in the price of balloons? (1)(3)
2. Performed at one's peak? (8)
3. Driver around a lot? (4)
4. Something you might watch with your parents (4)
5. Like mysterious matters, often ... or hotels (7)(4)


Whatsername 8:50 AM  

What @Frantic said at 3:21 minus the out-of-body experience. A tad difficult for a Tuesday, in particular the cross of MCA and MELB seemed unnecessary. I can see the point about the break in the heart being in different spots. It does kinda muddle it up a teensy bit but still a very good idea for a theme. So … congrats to both constructors and especially Jessica on a pleasant debut.

@Loren (4:52) Wonderful idea to pack an extension cord in your GO BAG. Another thing I keep in mine at all times is a phone charger. I can do that because I have extras - the ones I had to go panic purchase after arriving at my destination and realizing that in yet another senior moment, I had once again left home without one.

pabloinnh 9:01 AM  

Guessed at the M in MELB and MCA, thought it was a terrible cross, like lots of others here, but had to read some comments before I realized that the Spice Girl was MEL B and not MELB, which is at least a little better, as I was thinking, "one of them was named Melba?", Guess not.

SERIEA is a gimme if you follow European soccer even a little, but I guess lots of us don't.

If you think an ARM is merely an "asset" for a pitcher, I invite you to try pitching without one. (I know the ARM here is the "great ARM variety, but it still struck me as funny.)

Interesting to see SEWER as an answer today, because someone posted on our town listserv recently that the were looking for a "sewist". I took this to mean that this person found the term "seamstress" to be sexist, or did not want to say that they were looking for a SEWER, which would be more of an emergency call than a listserv posting.

Noticed the growing heartbreak right away, and this did not ruin my day. I just though it was a pretty nifty feat of construction.

Nice job, HKV and JZ. Helped Knowing Various fields for this Jointly Zippy construction. Thanks for the fun.

albatross shell 9:02 AM  

You can see the point of Rex's detailed analysis of HEARTBROKEN, but it does seem a tad overwrought for a clue that reads "progressively suggested by". Theme precision is one of his obsessions.

Yes, now that you mention it and I dusted off some memory cells, I did know Rudolph had polio. Typical Hollywood. Gave the role of a black woman to Tom Hanks.

Had to pause at the finale to remember the M in MELB. Previously paused to choose between M, P, and L for _UG.

In fact I paused a bunch of places since this one took over twice the time of Monday's.

I didn't even know the Beastie Boys were rap. But I remembered GRU for the first time.

TheMadDruid 9:05 AM  

Rex being Rex.

Nancy 9:09 AM  

"Worthy of a Ph.D dissertation"? (@Joaquin, 8:37).

"A calculated mix of pedantry and malice"? (@ebtobiasson, 6:59)

"There are definitely gradations in the extent of a heartbreak"? (LMS 6:59)

Really! These comments are just too curiosity-provoking! Admittedly, not reading Rex is such an ingrained habit of mine that it takes a lot to propel me back there for a quick peek. But curiosity did get the better of me today. And now, having read it, I do think that Rex's argument is just about the most ridiculous critique of a puzzle theme that I've ever heard.

Anonymous 9:24 AM  

Rex's critique may be nitpicky, but the NYT crossword is supposed to be the best in the world, and this puzzle is NOT one of the best in the world. A "best puzzle in the world" would have made the break consistent. Yes, it would have been hard to construct, but having that level of quality is what made the NYT puzzle so esteemed. Many puzzles recently have been meh; not "bad," per se, but they shouldn't have been good enough to make the NYT.

Mikey from El Prado 9:26 AM  

@LMS… nice write-up, and I’ve felt the same pain. A broken heart can get more broken. It made me think of all the times I’ve had a broken heart, and worse… when I’ve broken someone’s heart.

May everyone’s hearts be whole.


JB 9:27 AM  

Sheer guesswork

RooMonster 9:31 AM  

Hey All !
And it took two people to make...

Not saying I didn't think puz was good, I did, but another nit is the HEART itself seems like it should've been broken progressively, ala start with HEART, then HEAR T, HEA RT, HE ART. No?

Funny moment: saw clue Toque and immediately knew what it was. However, if I see the clue "Chefs Hat", I can never remember the word Toque! THREE not the greatest clue. Maybe "Cups for Monty?".

27 threes. High on the Three Scale.

Decent TuesPuz, not too ROUGH, didn't get UPSET like Rex. Gonna grab MEL B and my GO BAG, and HEAD FOR IOWA. WIN WIN.

Two F's

Paige 9:32 AM  

Bunch of grumpy old farts… I knew MCA and Mel B. right away ;)
Love, a Millennial

crayonbeam 9:56 AM  

Good times make one gloss over most everything else, so I liked this puzzle. My Tuesday PR is 5:40 and I did today in 5:55. So I really didn't see most of what bugged Rex. It confirms what he says about proper nouns - if you know them, you love them, if you don't, you're screwed.

Blue Stater 9:57 AM  

As Joe points out, 46 A & D are the Naticks of the year, if not the decade. Way too hard for a Tuesday.

OffTheGrid 10:11 AM  

If I had hated this puzzle and had a miserable solve it would still be the high point of my day so far. I went on a 3 errand trip, all nearby. 1. Went to get cash at ATM. It was down so no go. Well, that happens. But then it wouldn't give me back my card. I kept hitting the "EXIT" to no avail. Finally, with increasingly vigorous 'touches" I got my card. Touch screen my ass. Can we we go back to real buttons? Please? 2. Got stamps at local P.O. branch. No problem there, the touchscreen even worked. 3a. Stopped for coffee, went home. 3b. Had an epic coffee spill just as I was sitting down to enjoy said coffee and raspberry jam topped toast. I mean it fell 2 feet off the TV tray. AS I realized what was happening, seemed like slow motion, I thought maybe it might not be catastrophic but the cover popped off as it hit the floor and I could only watch as my tasty hot treat flowed out and soaked the carpet. It was actually a nice shade of light brown that would make a good carpet color. Sadly, the carpet is light gray. I think I'm %$*@X%&ed.

pabloinnh 10:12 AM  

So, a lot of us are asking,



A Grumpy old fart 10:20 AM  

@Paige - Yes, yes we are. And we think it funny that you're unaware that millennial is the most vile slander available to us.

Hack mechanic 10:40 AM  

No idea on either. Got it all on crosses save the totally non inferable M

Jim in Canada 10:46 AM  

@Lauren - even though the author spells Lady Chablis' "T" as a capital letter, that's just because he was jotting down what he heard her say. The phrase is actually "know my tea", but following it with "know my truth" would take the uninitiated down the path of assuming it was just a letter and not a word.

As for the puzzle, I thought this was the easiest Tuesday in ages. A lot of the clues that Rex balked over sailed right past me because I filled them in without even needing to look at the other-direction clues.

Rex and I tend to have polar opposite wheelhouses, I guess. Stuff that he lists as "easy" I usually struggle with or even DNF. Go figure.

thfenn 10:55 AM  

AGREE heartbreaks aren't one and done, thought the theme handled that just fine, tho sure the pattern could've been more systematic. It's Tuesday, it's a puzzle. It reminded me of heartbreaks. STENT, THREE, EGO, UPSET, CHORDS, PASTS, IMAGE, HATES, LIKES, PDA, certainly HER, and oddly, SWITCHESPARTIES, HEADFORTHEHILLS, and GOBAG all have one TIE in or another to various heartbreaks I've experienced, caused, or witnessed. Quite a Tuesday, now that I think about it.

JD 10:56 AM  

Great day at the blog. You have to love any puzzle that inspired this conversation.

@Pabloinnh, Post of the day (not as prestigious as a @mathgent award, more like employee of the week without the good parking space, but still). You're "sewist" observation and wondering if there was a Spice Girl named Melba boosted your potential for the award.

@Paige, I'd know a more stuff from the '90s but I experienced the miracle of epidural producing Millenials during that decade and was mostly focused on Sesame Street culture. πŸ˜‰❤️

@Ξ© Zuzz, "so old maybe younger solvers won’t know them." I second that emotion πŸ€£πŸ˜‚πŸ€£

CDilly52 11:06 AM  

I’m with @Frantic today. I came, I solved, I finished.

tim 11:09 AM  

Yeah at that point I stop caring and just hit “reveal.” Better than dully plugging in the alphabet til something hits. If that happens it doesn’t matter how good the rest of the puzzle was; it’s a failure.

johnk 11:11 AM  

Could have been avoided with STA SERB HARI THIRDS. That's what an editor is for.

Carola 11:15 AM  

I'd put this one in SERIE A of the Crossword League, Tuesday Division. A easy-to-see theme surrounded by some ROUGH territory made for a medium solve for me. I enjoyed trying to anticipate how the HEART would appear in the successive theme answers. While @Rex saw the "three separate and distinct breaks" as a flaw, I thought the offset point of split reflected the jig-jag crack in a traditional rendering of a BROKEN HEART, as he includes in his post.

Re: SERIE A - I follow Italian volleyball, which also has that league, but I still was stymied.
Do-over: IN THE AIR of NIGHT. Help from previous puzzles: GRU, MEL B.

Joseph Michael 11:21 AM  

A simple concept well executed. Then there’s that torturously complicated and hard-to-read critique of it. SRSLY?

Thought the themers were all good, especially HEAD FOR THE HILLS. Heartbreak is not a linear process so I’m not UPSET that there wasn’t a more orderly pattern for it in the grid. My only nit is that the first HEART at 17A is not visually broken like the others (My Inner Rex, be still).

After living through the Loma Prieta earthquake in San Francisco in 1989 and feeling my kitchen floor grinding under my feet while glasses flew off the shelves and smashed all over the place, I always kept an “Earthquake box” (i.e., GO BAG) in the basement with medical and food supplies plus a couple of bottles of really good wine. Years later, when I moved out of the city, I was glad that I’d never had the need to open that box (except to get those bottles of wine).

Barbara S. 11:22 AM  

Oh, right. I get it. This puzzle has a theme. Well, who knew. I solved this last night in Night Light mode or whatever it’s called, so couldn’t really see the shaded squares. It occurred to me that 60A (“Despondent…as progressively suggested by 17-, 24-, 38- and 48-Across?”) had all the EARmarks of a revealer, in fact *was* a revealer, but somehow I didn’t feel sufficiently motivated to follow it up. But now in the cold light of normal mode on my tablet, it all becomes clear. I think the theme stands up nicely, and that Rex was doing his usual pick-at-microscopic-nits-till-they-become-visible-to-the-naked-eye thing. I, too, have travelled the long, tortuous road of increasing heartbreak – it’s not a monolithic state in my experience. (Just don’t ask me about Roger.)

I think MEL B was Scary Spice – an odd nickname – what on earth was scary about her? OK, bloggistas, I’ve done you a service and looked it up – it was her in-your-face, bossy personality. I didn’t actually remember MEL B until part of her name was in place, and even then a pitfall awaited because there was also a Mel C (Sporty Spice). OK, OK, enough with the Spice Girls lore. I didn’t know MCA, but he got taken care of through crosses. No, my near downfall was the GRU/ROUGH cross. I’ve never seen “Despicable Me” and all I know about it (thanks to crosswords) are the Minions. So that letter was a complete mystery and I just wasn’t thinking golf. In my desperation I even wondered if a slice (or slices of something) could go in dOUGH. Granted G-DO would be a pretty odd name, but what do I know?

Loved the row just below the middle that reads HEN HOWLS HERD. That was some Scary HEN. I also liked the musical EAR beside ALTO. Thanks to Spelling Bee for the frequent reminders of AIOLI and HALAL. Lots of INs, although that never bothers me: INAPP, DUE IN, IN THE AIR TONIGHT. Strangely, I think I linked to that song just last week and confessed my mondegreen problem with it: always hearing IN THE yellow NIGHT (sorry, Phil). I’ve never in my life had a GO BAG and suddenly feel woefully unprepared – do I need one?

Anonymous 11:28 AM  

@johnk How is it better to include a bad partial and half a 19th-century name than dare ask solvers to know two names that might actual reflect the pop culture they've lived through?

Maybe it's okay that we make crosswords mirror the lived experience of ::looks at Licensed to Ill and Wannabe:: people in their THIRTIES?

A 11:35 AM  

Interesting idea. DisAGREE with Rex about broken hearts not being progressive. What I thought was “suboptimal” is the place felt a bit overpopulated: REN and her HEN, GRU, OLGA and the TSAR, PELE, the SERIE A, SARGE, ADA, LEE, that ALTO whose name I can never remember, and the MCA/MEL B duo. That’s quite a HERD.

Anyone ever heard “SWITCHES PARTIES” said or written?

Had to smile at CHEF SHAT. There’s also ATLAS under HEAD FOR THE HILLS, and WAR rising up from (THE ART OF ) WAR.

Didn’t care so much for the eastern trio of GRU, THU and IOU. I’m sure someone may feel differently (Hi, M&A!)

Re LUG and oaf - I think the former is a more charitable, or even affectionate term - “Ya big LUG” vs “You big oaf.”

Trompe L’OEIL is fascinating. It’s used a lot in food - I looked for an AIOLI trompe L’OEIL but only found a BROKEN HEARTED teary eye tattoo on a forearm. But is it eye-oli?

MarthaCatherine 11:40 AM  

I would opine that the Phil Collins song is one of the best EVER, not just the 80s. Loved, loved, loved the clip of the two guys experiencing that drum riff for the first time. Also loved Tod F's clip (6:48 am). Still laughing.

Anonymous 11:45 AM  

another vote for @pablo, but I'll up the ante a tad: do we really need more LGBTQ+ sponsorship? :)

egsforbreakfast 11:46 AM  

As is often the case, today’s Rex Rant is based on a failure to think about the phrasing of the revealer clue. If it had referred to the stages that a single person goes through progressively, then he would have had a small, but valid nit to pick. It doesn’t say, or even imply that! It says that the general condition ((HEARTBROKENness) is progressively illustrated by the (ever increasing) breaks in the word HEART in the themers. It is always a big cringe for me to watch Rex take a constructor publicly to task for something that is based on Rex’s misunderstanding of a clue.

I liked the puzzle. Thanks Hoang and Jessica.

Bax'N'Nex 11:48 AM  

As a sexagenarian, kinda embarrassed that I had no problem with MelB and MCA...

Masked and Anonymous 11:50 AM  

The HEART parts movin further apart could just be an animation of the breakin-apart process. No biggie, there. Kinda cool that the HEART parts change size slightly, as this animation proceeds -- sorta like the severed HEART is still tryin to beat, or somesuch. Very nice and schlock-flick-ish.

staff weeject pick: MCA. Total mystery, along with its crossin MELB, to the M&A. Best to change MELB to SERB, and then maybe morph MCA into SPA or STA. Hafta change lotsa other stuff, too, then. Such shift happens, when the feisty cross problem is out there in the middle of everything.

Lotsa folks had trouble in other solvequest spots, almost all of which M&A had similar heartburnin experiences [yo, @SERIEA]. Made for a feisty TuesPuz, which was mostly OK, at our house -- we need the challenge/sufferin. The precious nanoseconds did scream and flail a lot, I'd grant.

Do kinda object to leavin that there U out, on SRSLY, tho. hrt-brkn'.

Thanx for gangin up on us, Hoang-Kim dude & Jessica darlin. And congratz to Jessica on h.e.r. half-debut.

Masked & Anonymo6Us

p.s. H.E.R. = Having Everything Revealed, evidently.


mathgent 11:51 AM  

Do you remember the classic toilet-wall verse that begins, "Here I sit, broken-hearted,..."?

There are fifteen rows and fifteen columns. All but five of them have at least one three, 27 of them all together. More than a third of the entries. Ugly.

jae 12:03 PM  

Easy-medium. I figured out the theme early and filled it the circles, so this went pretty quickly. No WOEs and only Twopm before THREE for an erasure. “Progressively” ala @lms works for me, cute liked it. Nice debut for Jess.

jae 12:10 PM  

@bocamp re: #649 - Knowing the band really helped as I had no idea on the 35d answer.

Bax'N'Nex 12:22 PM  

@TJS from late yesterday...Oryx and Crake is the name of a BOOK by Margaret Atwood. Hence, being a BOOkseller would come in handy there.

Legume 12:23 PM  

Anyone ever heard “SWITCHES PARTIES” said or written?

Yeah, rather recently. The Gov of West Virginia went from Dem to MAGA. WVA then had a stellar record with Covid. Then, which is to say now, it went in the toilet. I doubt either party wants to claim him.

mathgent 12:30 PM  

My favorite posts this morning.

Joe (4:19)
Nancy (8:35)
Nancy (9:09)
OffTheGrid (10:11)

Anonymous 12:33 PM  

I found today's puzzle relatively easy and enjoyed it. Agree that Rex's analysis was overwrought and hypercritical, but he more than made up for it by including the link to the two guys listening to "In the Air Tonight" for the first time, which brought several moments of unbridled joy into my day.

Frantic Sloth 12:38 PM  

Agree with Rex on everything except his crank about the theme - the commentariat majority hath spoken and I hath nodded my head...eth.

As for post of the day, I concur on @pabloinnh; however let it be known here and now and for all the ages that I refer to his 9:01am comment. Though, even with the points deduction from the 10:12am comment, he's still ahead. 🀣

Dolores 12:49 PM  

Not Melba, either.

Sgreennyc 12:49 PM  

Rex’s comments are the rantings of a third-rate academic. They contribute nothing toward our understanding or appreciation of crosswords.

jberg 12:50 PM  

The theme was OK. I wanted it to be breaking heart, to indicate the progression; but that would have been really hard to fit in, the theme answers would have had to be crammed closer together to avoid having some 2-letter downs. So HEARTBROKEN will do just fine.

@A, well, yes, I have, but then I'm a political scientist. You more often hear it in the past or future. But I have to admit I wanted 'crosses the aisle' first.

ADA Lovelace is worth knowing, not just from crosswords. In addition to helping found computer science, she had an interesting life as the illegitimate daughter of Byron and his half-sister. She inspired the character Thomasina in Tom Stoppard's brilliant play "Arcadia."

Of course I knew Adam Yauch and the Beastie Boys, but I had no idea he was MCA (I suppose it's MC A(dam), right?) But I did knowo that a couple of the Spice Girls were MELs, so that one was OK.

Anyway, I was feeling proud of myself for not having known that Facebook was down for 6 hours until I opened the morning paper (I do check it every morning, but it was still up then). But apparently no one here thought it was worth commenting on, so I guess it's no big thing.

Also, I liked the body parts mini-theme with EAR and ARM.

Douglas 12:52 PM  

Easy Tuesday. Anyone who listened to music at all in the 1980s would know MCA and that it was either going to be MELB or MELC. That cross didn’t bother me at all, as well as pretty much any other music clues.

JC66 12:58 PM  


@Z commented on Facebook's unavailability yesterday, when it was down.

DaS 1:29 PM  

Who cares about the puzzle when you can get some Lloyd Cole in your day. Thank you Rex!!!

Whatsername 1:41 PM  

@jberg (12:50) Same here on not knowing Facebook was down. Or at least not until I started getting texts from people in an absolute panic over it. I was like SRSLY?

Anonymous 2:00 PM  

RE: Facebook

It appears the major issue is that FB encourages tween girls to kvetch about their weight. Inciting insurrection, well, not so much. Capitalism uber alles.

Anoa Bob 2:11 PM  

Ren thu inapp gru ish. Melb usd, estee asl loeil? Seriea mca oop olga ada.
Mio holo halo! Srsly!

Masked and Anonymous 2:41 PM  


Yesterday was National Cinnamon Roll Day! The PuzEatinSpouse baked some wonderful home-made c-rolls up, before we even knew about the occasion. Musta had that there ESP that @RP claims ain't a happenin thing. Delicious ESP-rolls, in any case.

Ok, sooo …
1. Change 46-D from MELB to SERB.
2. Change 47-D from CHORDS to THIRDS.
3. 46-A becomes STA instead of MCA.
4. 57-A becomes HARI instead of HALO.

I realize STA ain't real stupendous, but if only they had the double-?-mark clue in their toolbag, it could at least be entertainin -- as in: {Half-stated stated??} = STA. Oooh oooh -- or: {Three stair steps??} = STA.
Just sayin'.

M&A Land Fill Desk

okanaganer 2:44 PM  

It's funny that in the NYT, TOQUE is always clued as a chef's hat (or in this case, the other way around). In Canada, a toque is just a... hat. For winter. When it's cold.

[SB: yd 0. QB for 7 days in a row!!]

Anonymous 2:51 PM  

Snarky, nitpick overdrive. . . 2 paragraphs on broken heart. . . SRSLY??? It's a freakin' X-Word puzzle. GET A LIFE! . . . Good day.

GILL I. 2:55 PM  

Slept in so late today. We stayed up late last night watching My Fair Lady.....I forgot how handsome Rex Harrison was and how beautiful Audrey Hepburn was. My BFF and I sang all the songs at the top our lungs. ALL I WANT IS A ROOM SOMEWHERE.......!
Oh, the puzzle:
Well, I thought the concept got the cool frijoles nod. BUT...then I got to the LOEIN DUEIN and SRSEY little corner and they reminded me of my law firm. All a bunch of daffy ducks.
Oh, gave me the greatest of the greatest, Phil Collins?....My husband and I got married right after that song was played..... It was definitely IN THE AIR TONIGHT. You can now say "Aw, gee."
Speaking of heartbreak....My one and only happened in Spain. He hounded me for months to go out with him. Boy, he was handsome, but he was also a bit of a lothario. I finally caved in - only because he was eye candy and he made me laugh like mad. He also could sing and dance. We went out for almost a year; travelled everywhere, danced on tables; he ran with the bulls in Pamplona, we drank lots of wine and I fell madly, madly in love with him. He met a beautiful., blonde Swiss girl who couldn't speak a word of Spanish, and promptly dumped me. Just like that.....I never let it happen again....WAAAAAAA. least this Tuesday gave me some memories. I'll read the comment now because I've had my coffee.

thfenn 3:04 PM  

I'm with everybody that was happy to more or less shrug their shoulders (or adopt a "get a life" response) with Facebook and Instagram being down, but WhatsApp is what much of The Rest Of The World uses for basic communications, and I'm in a ton of work related networks with overseas colleagues that just went completely off. Was quite startled by the impact that had.

Whatsername 3:29 PM  

@GILL (2:55) If you’ve only had one heartbreak in your life, then count your blessings. But as for eye candy guy, definitely his loss.

thfenn 3:58 PM  

Definitely. On both counts.

bocamp 4:25 PM  

"The Spice Girls are a British girl group formed in 1994. The group comprises Melanie Brown, also known as MEL B ("Scary Spice"), Melanie Chisholm, or Mel C ("Sporty Spice"), Emma Bunton ("Baby Spice"), Geri Halliwell ("Ginger Spice") and Victoria Beckham ("Posh Spice")." (Wikepedia)

The science behind a BROKEN HEART

"A medically broken heart

Ever wondered if emotional heartbreak can actually, physically break your heart?

Takotsubo Cardiomyopathy is the medical name for a syndrome that can be caused by heartbreak, or more accurately, the stress of a heartbreaking situation." (Queensland Health)

@jae (12:10 PM)

Yeah, that was a bit of a head-scratcher for me too, but dropped in the only thing that would work; looked it up later and it rang a bell. It's the airport codes that often get me. I had actually thot of that one, but for some reason another city shoved it aside. Apparently the junky car was originally a sweet ride back in the '60s.

@Anonymous (2:00 PM)

Listened to Sunday's '60 Minutes' podcast this AM. Was particularly attentive to the Frances Haugen interview, esp. re: the part concerning how Instagram's content has been shown to negatively impact young girls, esp. related to body image. Have texted the link to the granddaughters.

@okanaganer (2:44 PM) πŸ‘ for 0 yd

And, a hearty congrats for 7 in-a-row! :)

Yup, got my TOQUE within arms reach and ready for colder weather. Always keep my suite on the chilly side, so it really comes in handy in the early AM.

td pg -2 (end of regulation time) / pg -1 (end of first overtime)

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

GILL I. 4:51 PM  

@Whatsername 3:29...Blush...Alas, the eye candy days are over. The laugh Iines and pesky wrinkles dominate the horizons. I don't care, because each one that I can count (and there are many) has a long and fun story to tell!

My GO BAG: A pair of clean underwear, toothbrush, airline bottle of scotch and my eyebrow pencil.


Zwhatever 6:02 PM  

@Anon11:28 - 30’s? Assuming people are 15 when they really become musically aware (+ or - 5) the fans of Licensed to Ill are 50 and the Spice Girls’s fans are 40.

@pabloinnh 10:12 - Best. Post. Of. The. Week.

@JC66 & @jberg - Twitter was fairly hilarious yesterday. What prompted my post here was the usage of It’s turtles all the way down when news broke that Facebook employees couldn’t get into their buildings and specific rooms because of how the security was linked.

@thefenn 3:04 - Yep. Here’s a good article on the impact in India where the outage began around 9:30pm local.

okanaganer 6:26 PM  

@bocamp: No TOQUE necessary yet here in the Okanagan, in the low 20s even if no sun today.

[td 0; QB 8 days running!]

thfenn 6:40 PM  

Thanks! Most of our community level health outreach in eastern and southern Africa was impacted much the same way.

JC66 7:16 PM  


Is that Fahrenheit or Centigrade?

okanaganer 7:33 PM  

Celsius (same as Centigrade, which is a word I haven't heard in about 20 years!) Low 20s C == low 70s F. Avg high temp today's date about 18 C.

sixtyni yogini 7:38 PM  

Liked it. Clever. Easy.
Heartbreak πŸ’” over πŸ¦–’s crit.

bocamp 8:14 PM  

@okanaganer (6:26 PM) πŸ‘ for 0 td

Yup, it'll be a few weeks before I need to don the early morn CHEF'S HAT here. Got up to 14 celsius (centigrade for @JC66 πŸ˜‰) in Vanc. today, but around 19-20 indoors.

All the best for 9 in-a-row tm! 🀞

td pg -1 (after the 4th overtime) lol

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

JC66 8:25 PM  

@okanaganer & @ bocamp

Excuse me for asking, but it is the NEW YORK TIMES crossword, not the Montreal Gazette. πŸ˜‚

Anonymous 8:29 PM  

Got the MELB and MCA croos. I hung on the LOEIL/SRSLY cross. Got the long clues without the theme. Only got SERIEA though the crosses

Meim 8:31 PM  

Yeah, easy peasy; almost Monday-easy. SERIE A and PELE were easy gets for this footy fan. And is the MCA/MEL B critique about the Beastie Boys vs Spice Girls (ie one better than the other) or how they intersected in the grid/were clued? I knew them both, but I'm a very immature 41. Didn't mind the theme. Having gone through two relationships during lockdown I can say the πŸ’”πŸ’”πŸ’”is real...

okanaganer 10:40 PM  

@JC66, sorry, I simply forget about the other systems sometimes. If somebody comments in °F (and lots of older folks here still do) I will reply in kind without thinking about it, but it's just habit.

Amy 11:00 PM  

Yay! Delighted to see Serie A! Super-easy puzzle for me so didn’t have a need to gripe. Theme helped me solve even faster. I liked it!

Anonymous 11:56 PM  

Your @Nancy love is showing. Not saying she doesn't have some good posts, but SRSLY, they aren't better than a lot of others. Get a room.

johnk 11:16 AM  

At least 6 commenters would agree with me. And they, too, might not have the foggiest idea what you mean by ::looks at Licensed to Ill and Wannabe:: πŸ™„.

Unknown 12:49 PM  

I strongly feel that the puzzle creators AND Mr. Shortz messed up on this one. Clue 60A states... progressively suggested by 17-, 24-, 38- and 48- Across. What I am saying is that 17 Across IS INCLUDED in the "HEART BROKEN" theme. Therefore, that clue should have had the word HEART split-up too. Otherwise, it was a fun puzzle.

Anonymous 10:15 AM  

Pele is not the only player on more than one winning World Cup teams. That may be true for the men’s teams, but there are several women who were on both the 2015 and the 2019 winning teams. It drives me crazy when people forget women’s sports, especially when the women are better than the men.

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