Captain Pierce portrayer on old TV / THU 11-18-21 / Its name comes from the Greek for uncuttable / City with slogan big things happen here / Oppressive authority informally / Marcille who won America's Next Top Model / Title character in an '80s sitcom / Cause of some orange fingers

Thursday, November 18, 2021

Constructor: Ori Brian

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium (probably easier if my version of the puzzle had been formatted correctly)

THEME: series placement — theme clues are lists of three things, all in the same category; arrows point to one of the items in the list, and the answer ends up being a familiar phrase following the pattern [place in the list the arrows are pointing to] + [category of the list], so: 

Theme answers:
  • FIRST LADY (16A: --> Di <-- Gaga Godiva) (because the arrows point to "Di," who is the FIRST LADY ... in this list of ladies)
  • SECOND-RATE (24A: R.p.m. --> m.p.h. <-- k.p.s.)
  • MIDDLE CLASS (36A: Art --> Calculus <-- Spanish)
  • THIRD PARTY (52A: Housewarming masquerade --> tailgate <--)
  • LAST LAUGH (62A: Ha-ha chortle --> tee-hee <--)
Word of the Day: GAR (40A: Long-snouted fish) —
Gars are members of the family Lepisosteidae which are the only surviving members of Ginglymodi, an ancient holosteian group of ray-finned fish which first appeared during the Triassic, over 240 million years ago. Gars comprise seven living species of fish in two genera that inhabit fresh, brackish, and occasionally marine waters of eastern North AmericaCentral America and Cuba in the Caribbean, though extinct members of the family were more widespread. Gars have elongated bodies that are heavily armored with ganoid scales,[4]and fronted by similarly elongated jaws filled with long, sharp teeth. Gars are sometimes referred to as "garpike", but are not closely related to pike, which are in the fish family Esocidae. All of the gars are relatively large fish, but the alligator gar (Atractosteus spatula) is the largest – the alligator gar often grows to a length of over 2 m (6.5 ft) and a weight of over 45 kg (100 lb), and specimens of up to 3 m (9.8 ft) in length have been reported. Unusually, their vascularised swim bladders can function as lungs, and most gars surface periodically to take a gulp of air. Gar flesh is edible and the hard skin and scales of gars are used by humans, but gar eggs are highly toxic. (wikipedia)
• • •

I still solve the puzzle in .puz format, even though the NYT doesn't officially distribute it that way anymore. There's a Puzzle Scraper extension on Chrome that you can use ... *anyway* I solve in that format because it's what I've been solving in forever and it's familiar to me and I like it and I don't want to be *forced* to solve in a proprietary app where my data is being mined etc. But today yeah it would've helped to solve in the app because my software couldn't handle the arrows in the theme clues and just rendered them as hyphens, so my lists looked like weird equations, or lists with missing elements. For instance, the FIRST LADY clue looked like this: [— Di— Gaga Godiva] and I thought maybe it was a list of ladies where the FIRST LADY was just ... missing? Weirdly, the arrow problem didn't mess me up nearly as much as it seems like it should have. Once you get that the theme clues are lists of categories, and that the first word refers to placement position, then you can infer the answers pretty well. "Well, those are all rates, so ... and those are all classes, so ... etc." I like the theme concept a lot but I don't get the progression at all. It makes no sense. FIRST SECOND MIDDLE THIRD LAST??? What kind of a list is that? THIRD is in the fourth position. If you are going to go to the trouble of laying out a progression, the progression should make sense. I wouldn't be nearly as annoyed if the themers were in a shuffled order, where there was obviously not supposed to be a progression. But because a progression is so obviously intended (from FIRST to LAST), I find that misplaced THIRD completely intolerable. It's fourth. Your THIRD is fourth. I'm just stating facts here. Baffling.

The fill occasionally hits the crosswordese bottle a little hard (GAR IGOR SLR AYN BAA ALDA ILIA etc.) but it mostly keeps a low profile, and the longer non-theme stuff does a good job of staying interesting, so the puzzle was mostly a pleasure to solve, overall. I don't like the *idea* of a SEMI-NUDE VLOGGER, but I do love those answers alongside one another there (VLOGGER still feels like a term we all fever-dreamed in 2009 that just never disappeared from crosswords, but apparently vlogging is a very popular thing. How do people have time in their days to consume all these things?). OTTAWA / THE MAN / TIDBIT is an oddly appealing set of answers as well. I like it when the mid-range stuff (5-to-7 letters, say) manages to be colorful, rather than merely exist. I have no idea about modeling or most animated movie roles, so EVA and SID were ??? but I had a lot of other proper noun friends to get me by (ALF and ALDA and TED and Alice, I mean ANITA). I feel like I've been a lot of SASS lately. Which got me thinking about ROTI, which has been thriving since the 2010s, as more and more North Americans became familiar with the foods of South Asia. Used to be that ROTI only got clued as French for "roasted." [French roast] and [___ de boeuf] were the most common clues for a long time. You don't get a reference to the flatbread until 2010, and even then it takes a while for that clue to catch on. You don't see it again until 2015, and then a trickle turns into a river, as we've seen ROTI as the flatbread something like a dozen times in the just past three years, five times this year alone, and the French clue for ROTI hasn't been seen at all in over five years. So congrats to ROTI on muscling in and taking over. Expanding the crossword palate! I'm into it. Now I'm hungry. See you all later. Good day.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Conrad 6:01 AM  

Easy. I couldn't make sense of the themer clues, so I ignored them and solved it as a themeless. No real hangups and the themers were easily gettable from crosses. Nice little Aha Moment reviewing the clues post-solve.

@Rex: "I wouldn't be nearly as annoyed if the themers were in a shuffled order ..." No. If the themers were in a shuffled order you'd say, "Why these themers? Why in that order?" You'd still be at least as annoyed, maybe more.

BarbieBarbie 6:21 AM  

See, Rex, there are five themers and three in each list so you have to pick between FIRST SECOND THIRD MIDDLE LAST and FIRST SECOND MIDDLE THIRD LAST… something’s gotta give.. never mind, Rex gonna kvetch. Ori made the same choice I would have.

I don’t know why but RAISINS really tickled me. Also pairing MORALISM with SEMINUDE. And it’s not even Easter.

Lewis 6:21 AM  

I’m a fan of catchy themes, those that make me try to think of new theme answers. So, with this one, just thinking of FIRST, there came:

→ Betty ← Bill Brooke
→ being ← individual human
→ neutral ← reverse second
→ A ← B C
→ Benning ← Bragg Hood
→ masters ← PhD bachelors

(answers in my next comment)

So you captured me right from the start, Ori. Your grid is spotless as well. The puzzle, IMO, fell on the easy end of Thursday, perfect for Thursday-curious solvers, and for me, as it zipped on by, I was having a great time. Thank you, sir!

Lewis 6:22 AM  


Z 7:06 AM  

So we went with clue consistency rather than answer consistency? Unlike @BarbieBarbie this isn’t the choice I would have made. No fourth down, amendment, of July, and goal, estate, quarter,…. When I got to MIDDLE CLASS I was disappointed that we didn’t get the finger and also that we weren’t going to get a semi-charmed life. Discovering THIRD CLASS in the fourth position was fingernails on chalkboard (an allusion those under 30 may not understand). I really liked that MIDDLE was in the middle, but THIRD in fourth? Sub suboptimal. Fourth down has the same number of letters as THIRD CLASS, so seems an obvious improvement to me.
@Conrad - not nearly as annoyed = annoyed, just less so. Seems accurate to me but it can be hard to tell.

ROTI’s surge is not something I praise, either as the lardless tortilla variety or in the now disappearing French dish variety. Personally, give me that hunk of beef with garlic and thyme over the equivalent of Indian white bread any time. I say this despite absolutely loving a warm tortilla with nothing but butter on it. That happens when you grow up with a mom who made tortillas at home with the can of lard always on the counter by the stove. But if I’m having Indian cuisine I want naan, not ROTI. In my puzzle I prefer neither.

bocamp 7:17 AM  

Thx Ori; FIRST RATE puz! :)


Had PinT before PSST, so the SNAKE OIL had to wait; other than that, smooth OARing the rest of the way down to get the LAST LAUGH. No ERRors.

Very much on the Ori's wavelength for this one.

Liked it a lot! :)

@okanaganer (2:05 PM yd) 👍 for 0 dbyd

It was a 🤦‍♂️ moment for me when I checked the answers, as I had entered the word, but robotically put a 't' in the middle, and when it was rejected, did a 🤷‍♂️. Normally, I would look for variations, but obviously not on this one. lol

yd pg -1

Peace ~ Compassion ~ Tolerance ~ Kindness to all 🕊

Son Volt 7:25 AM  

Yea - theme structure a little awkward and it was a little too straightforward for a Thursday - but liked it overall. The FILCH x CHEETO cross was neat as was the OTTAWA - THE MAN stack. TAYLOR showing up everywhere these days I guess.

Enjoyable Thursday solve.

amyyanni 7:31 AM  

Since kvetching appears to be in order this morning, I would have appreciated a comma in the last two theme clues, i.e., after Halloween and ha ha.
Otherwise, this was fine. Anita Baker and Richard Yates are among my favorites. Timely inclusion of RED with Taylor Swift's appearance.
Just learned a law school colleague won the National Book Award for poetry. He's quite a wonderful poet, if you want to look at his work. There's an accent on the I in his name: Martin Espada. (Another classmate is one of the US Senators from NH, and her work is laudable in a different way. )

Tom T 7:40 AM  

We have another 5 letter Hidden Diagonal Word in the grid today (still looking and hoping for a 6+). Here's your clue:

Maps with lots of lots

Medium-ish Thursday for me. Liked the theme and found those answers easy to come by as soon as I figured out FIRST LADY. Resolving the "out of order" issue with MIDDLE and THIRD is complicated by the fact that, in order to keep them both and put THIRD in correct order, you would have to load three of the five theme answers above the MIDDLE of the grid. If you opted for 1st, 2nd, MIDDLE, and 4th, you would screw up the consistency of the theme clues each having only three items. I noticed it, but wasn't too bothered by it.

Struggled with OTTO (still not clear about that one) and VLOGGER (no excuse there--just slow to pick up the obvious).

Learned something new about the GAR and her toxic eggs. So much for my plans to feature GAR roe and CHEETOs at my next PARTY!

Today's HDW answer:

PLATS (begins with the P of THIRD PARTY (52A) and moves to SE)

Not only are BAA (23D) and DEE (67A) represented in the conventional grid, they also appear together as diagonals in the SW corner.

Todd 7:52 AM  

Got the theme quickly and ran through it. But DNF on Eva/vloggers. I had B. A basically random name and vloggers? In fact as I wrote the last sentence spell check kept changing it back to bloggers.

mmorgan 7:52 AM  

Puzzle scraper wouldn’t even make a .puz file for me so I had to use the hated NYT app. Despite that, I enjoyed the puzzle, to the extent possible with that app.

TJS 8:00 AM  

Moronic for a Thursday. The puzzle and the critique. Thanks for the crossword history of "roti".

SouthsideJohnny 8:13 AM  

It definitely seemed to play easier than a normal Thursday for the most part (give us a Sunday like this one now and then, Please !) - with a lot of old familiar friends such as POLOS, EDEN, SAID OK, ANTED, ERR, UMP, LAB RAT, etc. My first thought when I got the clue for VLOGGER was are there really that many that are “stars” - or are they generally niche players that may have a popular sub-following ?

My nit for today is the river tributary crossing what I believe is a math test in a foreign language, which may not be a capital offense, but at the best it is in my opinion poor form. If I were the DA, I’d charge Will with a Class A felony and plea bargain it down to a misdemeanor.

Nancy 8:43 AM  

What fun! A lively romp in which, perhaps, the FIRST themer you get is the only one to provide a really big "Aha!", but the others provide enjoyable little mini-"Aha"s and the whole experience is extremely entertaining.

And, if I were teaching a class in crossword puzzles, I'd use this one as a primer for the nifty cluing of very ordinary words. "Look at how PSST (4A) is clued," I'd say. "And ATOM (30A)." "And UMP (34A); FINED (8D) and FILCH (8A). And especially RAISINS!!! (2D)." (Now, FWIW, I luxuriate in long baths every day of the week and my toes don't look like RAISINS. But you ufortunate people may not be so lucky.

Also unlucky is that poor bird with the bird's-eye view of...his own BILL. That's all he can see? His BILL blocks out everything else? What a hilarious thought.

Some thoughts of my own. 1) A pair of OARS (29A) may be OK out there on the lake, but out on the "open sea" I'd want a lot more than two oars. And 2) DIMLY (if at all) is how I recall all memories, not just childhood ones.

Enjoyed every minute of this puzzle and was sorry when it was over.

LenFuego 9:01 AM  


Not a bad try, but see my comments below.

→ Betty ← Bill Brooke. *too literal … three first names for “First name” has no cleverness or fun
→ being ← individual human. *meh
→ neutral ← reverse second. *having a list that includes second is again too literal
→ A ← B C. *a good one, but change the list to A+ B- F. (or you could include a wildcard like Incomplete)
→ Benning ← Bragg Hood. *The idea is good, but three fort names? Meh. Try: Andrews Fort Bragg Wright-Patterson
→ masters ← PhD bachelors. *another good one, but change the list to MBA PhD J.D and highlight the third one for “Third Degree”

Rube 9:03 AM  

Way too easy. Like a Tuesday in terms of difficulty
As for Rex's sequencing issue who is to say that first..middle..last is "right" and 2nd and 3rd are somehow the ones that are misplaced. Feh. Let's hope for a better challenge tomorrow

Unknown 9:07 AM  

It was fun - and surprisingly easy for a Thursday. I'm amused at Rex's comment about "V.loggers" however. (Please excuse my extra period due to spellcheck difficulties) Rex asks "how do people have time in their days to consume all these things?" Might the same question be asked about doing crosswords? Though I'm happy I do.

Linda R 9:18 AM  
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Linda R 9:22 AM  

I'm glad to know about the Puzzle Scraper extension - especially for the Sunday puzzle. I just added it. In the Puzzle Scraper - Options, I checked the box next to "Unicode Support" and the arrows showed up in today's theme clues.


Unicode support
Use a newer version of the .puz format which supports more characters in clues and metadata (when needed). Files may not work with all applications."

57stratocaster 9:22 AM  

I never figured out the theme/trick. Fastest Thursday ever. Less than 1/2 my average time.

GILL I. 9:33 AM  

Oh, did I love this..... Although bob was on the dance floor alone, I introduced him to yessiree.
I enter a Thursday with tip toeing trepidation; when I got to FIRST LADY my fandango tango said" I bet you're gonna love this one". I did.
I think it started with RAISINS. Who doesn't love a long, warm bath? But, I have to tell you my toes probably look more like a cucumber than a raisin. Why? you ask. Never mind.
Do your fingers look orange after eating CHEETO's you ask? Well, I haven't eaten one since my daughter hid a stash in her bed like 20 years ago. My fingers turn orange when I use Tumeric. Have you ever tried to remove that stuff? Even Lysol doesn't work.
OTTO, IGOR and Chico and THE MAN walked into the bar. EVA ROTI served them all some SASS. Guess who had the LAST LAUGH? And SASS tastes yummylicious.
Fun puzzle, Ori. Keep em coming....

pabloinnh 9:51 AM  

Well thank goodness for acrostics, because having most of the letters for SECONDRATE made me say, looks like it's going to be SECONDRATE, which led back to the ladies and FIRSTLADY, and so on. My problem was that I couldn't see the arrows as arrows, only as "greater than" and "less than" followed by a "minus" sign, so I was trying, for a while, to suss out how something in the list might be greater or lesser than another thing. Eek. Never did see the "arrows" but everything was straightforward enough that the solve proceeded apace, and soon enough was done, and a pleasant solve at that.

Only glitch was the EVA/VLOGGER cross I guess no one is named EBA. I'm still learning weird names, but I 'll cross that one off the list.

Nice Thursdecito, OB. Not Overly Baffling but a good time. Thanks for the fun.

Carola 9:52 AM  

A warp-speed Thursday. With the dearth of theme trickery, I looked elsewhere for TIDBITs of fun - I liked LABRAT next to CHEETO as a task motivator and the parallel MORALISM and SEMINUDE, and noticed that EDEN has two of its denizens, EVE and the SNAKE, but that the THIRD PARTY is absent. And I liked learning the etymology of ATOM.

Do-over: Denver before DALLAS. Help from previous puzzles: knowing that the MIDDLE vowel in OTTAWA is an A; no idea: EVA, SID.

JD 9:59 AM  

Got the game with Third Party and it was aha mixed with relief. Went back and looked at the others and I was on a roll (whenever I'd say that to a proofreader I used to work with she'd always say, "Kaiser" and it still pops into my head).

Did the acrosses first and threw in Eel and Naan, thinking flat bread week just keeps going naan and naan and naan. And it is, buy Roti is picking up steam.

Really enjoyed this. @Nancy described the experience very well and @Gill threw the Party.

RooMonster 10:11 AM  

Hey All !
There's only three items in each Themer clue, how could you have FOURsomething in your grid? That's just silly. Ori worked with what he had, put them in progressional order, and made a puz. We're not splitting the ATOM here, it's just a crossword. You know, for fun. Not a college dissertation.

That berating aside, 😁, I enjoyed this puz. Surprised Rex didn't write three paragraphs about the single CHEETO. Fine set of Themers, sure, Ori could've went with any FIRSTsomething, etc. but he had to find symmetrical stuff for the Themers, so this set is fine. So says I. 😁

"___ Give Me The News" Abbr. (4) (Not the greatest find, but hey)

DRDR, starting with 53 SE

Good amount of S's used as non-POC-ifiers today.

Getting into the gold months. Can't be SEMINUDE anymore. (How's that for your breakfast test?) 🤢😂

...with AMBER WAIVEs of grain...
(Now I'm getting silly)

OK, my SECOND RATE post is done.

Two F's

mathgent 10:22 AM  

Cute way to clue the themers. But it would have been better with a FOURTH instead of that THIRD. There aren't many common expressions I can think of with FOURTH, though. FOURTH power, maybe.

As a lot of the commenters have said so far, very little crunch. The cluing is too direct. Also, once you see the gimmick, you can fill in the themers immediately.

I liked Revolutionary Road. Did YATES write anything else good?

jae 10:45 AM  

Easy and easier than yesterday’s. I had the same “no arrows” .puz problem that @Rex did but it didn’t really affect the solve. I sort of get the progression but it does seem a tad awkward. Clever and fun, liked it.

Joe R. 11:05 AM  

It would have been very easy to use a fourth instead of a third there:

Western Hadrian’s Great —> Berlin <—

It even has the same number of letters as THIRD PARTY.

Whatsername 11:09 AM  

I always look forward to Thursday more than any other day of the week and this one certainly did not disappoint. When I looked at the theme clues I thought I was going to be in big trouble. But the FIRST one was so beautifully done it brought a huge smile of anticipation at what was yet to come. Ended up being one of the easiest Thursdays I can recall but I enjoyed every minute as I flew through it. Thank you so much Ori. I loved your puzzle.

Princess Diana was someone I admired immensely. A real CLASS act who withstood a lot of criticism to leave a tremendous legacy. And Lady Gaga is simply dazzling. I used to think she was a SECOND RATE weirdo but she got the LAST LAUGH and I have since come to marvel at HER incredible talent. As the namesake of 64D, I’m honored to be among such distinguished company.

Mary McCarty 11:12 AM  

Like amyyanni, I would have appreciated commas between the ordered clue words (for the longest time I was sure “Gaga Godiva” actually existed, like, maybe an understudy for WonderWoman?)
Unlike amyyanni, my PARTY clues did not include Halloween (mine were Housewarming, masquerade, tailgate) Was that a late edit, which I get because I’m solving in PST?
As several have said, way too many “gimmes” for a Thursday, which I usually deem diabolically clever. Half my average Thursday time, which is good because I forgot to charge my iPad last night, and I only have 9% battery lef

Mary McCarty 11:15 AM  

Ps oops…just enough charge left to add: I see that Rex also had “housewarming” as the first PARTY…maybe Halloween was a wrong autocorrect?

Z 11:17 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Z 11:17 AM  

VLOGGER v Blogger

@Gill I - I was thinking more okra than RAISINS. {insert your own inappropriate cucumber joke here}

@Roo - But is there a good reason to have only three items in the list? We could have added, say, Macbeth, A.P.R, Biology, and chuckle to the clues and made the clues all four items long.

@mathgent - See my earlier comment which didn't include the very good "fourth power." For a "fourth down" answer the clue might have included cursor, arrow, staircase, and town.

@JD - flat bread week just keeps going naan and naan and naan 🤣😂🤣😂🤣

Newboy 11:23 AM  

Like Rex I hate the NYT software, but I have no problem with the sequence. If there are five items, (which there are) then the THIRD becomes the MIDDLE term. It’s been a while since I’ve posted my favorite Henry James observation: “Moreover, it isn’t till I have accepted your data that I can begin to measure you. I have the standard, the pitch; I have no right to tamper with your flute and then criticize your music.” We do leap to our snap judgment whether we be UMP or ref—today that leap took a while to spot given how the clues have to be scrolled. And in fairness to my own precipitous entry report I logged tAPe for 26d (thinking Nixon?) before RAPS and spent minutes discovering that 64d was HER not His. With an obvious but wrong entry the nature of the Times software too often seems to hide it …. Mayhaps I should just turn on the autocorrect to sound the alarm at such glitches since I care not a whit fore streaks or solve times, Plus there is the elegance of having MIDDLE CLASS squarely in mid-grid. Good work Ori; both Newboy and Henry James give this tune thumbs up!

jb129 11:25 AM  

I'm glad I still solve on paper.

Loved Cheeto - liked this puzzle a lot.

Joseph Michael 11:26 AM  

Fun original theme. Clues were quite puzzling until finally they weren’t. Grid also offered some nice fill, such as THE MAN, SEMi-NUDE, and CHEETO. (There’s a story in there somewhere.)

Thank you, Ori, for teaching me how to say “B” in ASL. Now I just have to wait for a question for which that might be an appropriate answer. Q. What did you get in Calculus last quarter? A. [Four raised fingers and a curved thumb.]

Does a bird really view its BILL? The birds I’ve seen tend to look sideways rather than straight ahead which is why they are always cocking their heads.

With TAYLOR Swift constantly singing about her romantic breakups, she seems a bit like an L.A. BRAT.

Tom T 11:27 AM  

@ RooMonster DRDR lol: "I've got a bad case of loving clues."

Of course, the "problem" of diagonal abbreviations could keep me tied up for more hours than a superstar VLOGGER! Today we have "data transmission conduit" (DSL) and our old, too familiar friend SNL.

Thanks for the LAST LAUGH.

JC66 11:40 AM  

@Linda R

Thanks for the Puzzle Scraper updater.

To clarify what @Roo said, there are three (3) items in each clue. FIRST, SECOND, MIDDLE, THIRD & LAST refer the position of said item in each clue (that's why there are arrows), not the position of the themers in the puzzle.

RooMonster 11:48 AM  

Sure, that would've worked. Where were you when Ori was constructing the puz? 😁

Oh, and my last post... Getting into the cold months. The gold months would be nice...

Today's SB is easy-ish. Got to g in about 10 minutes, but had to leave the house. Gonna see if I can get the elusive QB later. Good luck 🐝ers!

RooMonster Cleaning Up Guy

Masked and Anonymous 11:49 AM  

Superb fillins in this puz. Let's all play LABRAT CHEETO HOLDEM. I'll deal.

And … Cool theme. Only possible unexplored variations: *

1. --> hitches pollices pages <--

2. <-- garage lot street -->

3. gold silver platinum tin --> iron <--

staff weeject pick: EBA. [yo, @Todd, @pabloinnh, @M.B. Z+ … M&A, too]

@RP: Yo! Theat there TEE-HEE spellin [yer fave] got the last laugh, at the NYTPuz. Retribution, dude.

Thanx for a good ThursPuz, Mr. Brian dude.

--> Masked & AnonymoUUs <--

* 1. ALLTHUMBS; 2. NOPARKING; 3. THEFIFTHELEMENT [Classic schlock flick -- essential].


Paul Rippey 11:55 AM  

Thank you. I had the same thoughts. I wouldn’t have written them because I wouldn’t like to do anything to discourage @Lewis’s consistently positive and thought-provoking responses, though I don’t think they will be discouraged.

sixtyni yogini 12:01 PM  

Cute, easy, fun.

egsforbreakfast 12:01 PM  

Couldn’t decide if Dieci meno due was a bus driver or just Italianate after the recent Simpsons kerfuffle. Easy to get behind this puzzle with 31A ASS, 36A MIDDLECL. ASS and 69A S ASS.. Speaking of which, we also have the disguised reference to Ivanka in 10D LA BRAT.

All in all a pretty fun puzzle. Thank you Ori Brian.

PhysGraf 12:17 PM  

I imagine ROTI's newfound success is due to being able to be clued the same way as NAAN. Both are 4 letter answers to "Indian bread" and can ve found hanging out with their bygone leader friends "TSAR, CZAR, CSAR and TSAR" and their air travel abbreviation pals "ETA, ETD, ARR and DEP".

jberg 12:33 PM  

I would have liked it better with a FOURTH something, but I liked it fine anyway. A little on the easy side -- I think I got the theme with SECOND RATE and filled them all in immediately.

I wrote in His even while thinking it might be HER; spent a couple of nanos trying to think of a three letter name ending in i that sounded like a letter, and quickly realized my error.

The hardest part for me was language confusion; ignoring the 'due' in the clue, I put in OchO for the Spanish math quiz. TIDBIT fixed that right up.

I also wanted pinK piLL -- thinking it might be something in The Matrix -- before SNAKE OIL, but that gave me pp__ at 4A, which seemed unlikely to work.

@Gill, I have ruined many napkins and tablecloths with turmeric. The dry cleaners can lighten the stain, but usually not get rid of it -- so I'm trying to learn to be neater. says a tributary is a stream flowing into another stream; otherwise I'd have argued that the correct answer was Lake Ontario. So I've learned something today.

albatross shell 12:48 PM  

Easiest puzzle of the week.
And still only finished after no music played for EbA. I thouhht we had found a new invite to the 3 letter name party. Yeah some of the late comers had 4 letters. And with some thought VLOGGER rang a distant bell. I had to google to remember what it meant, but the music had already played.

Rex speaks nonsense about the order in the puzzle. But he is right about the rest of it. Fun fun fun like a Thursday should be. This trick is endlessly applicable to anything with first, second, third, middle, last in front of it. Not to mention initial, ultimate, penultimate or any number if you do not limit yourself to 3 examples. Yes @southside, a Sunday puzzle.

Why all firsts? Certainly third degree would be better.
A third world answer would be nice. Wally's being one of the worlds.

Not that I don't think turnabout is fair play or that I didn't enjoy the snark yesterday, but Rex's puzzle did have some good fill. It was co-created. It was not submitted to the NYT that we know of. How bad SOSORRY was depends on the clue to some extent. I for one do not know Buzzfeed's standards and guidelines. I might give a pass to the spaced-out corpse but not the bridge. YOGA at 1D was the reveal? A bit strange. Maybe because of the spaced-out themers so it would aid in solving? The inconsistency in the themers spacing was the low point even though I am far less fussy about that than Rex. And it was pretty clear Rex did not think much of his own puzzle either.

Anonymous 12:54 PM  

@ZYGO & @Joe R. Please include your puzzle revisions allowing the vertical puzzle answers to accommodate "FOURTH DOWN"(or whatever) instead of THIRD PARTY. Changing an answer will make most, if not all of the crosses nonsense. Then of course you'll need to revise the crosses of those revisions. Due by sunDOWN. Show your work.

mathgent 12:56 PM  

My favorite posts this morning.

TJS (8:00)
Zygo (11:17)
JC66 (11:40)

Eniale 1:05 PM  

Glad to be back after break for Philly wedding - missed all the awful floods in Wash. State. I do hope our BC-ers haven't been too inconvenienced by Vancouver's being cut off! Doing okay, Bocamp and Okanoganer?
This was the easiest Thursday puz I've done in a long time, but didn't check the cross after I automatically filled in bLOGGER.

Got to pg today with no trouble in about a quarter-hour, will get back to it later.

JD 1:10 PM  

The Fourth Estate. Used to refer to the traditional press.

This 'n' That 1:24 PM  

Maybe the absence of commas in the clues was part of the challenge.

Some are missing the point that the answers are stand alone phrases with their own meanings. This is a huge element of the theme.

RAISINS. I don't mind my toes getting wrinkled in a bath but I'm kinda worried about the turning black part.

@Carola. Since ATOM sounds like Adam when said aloud, all of EDEN's denizens are accounted for. (in a way)

Today's favorite: FILCH

DigitalDan 1:35 PM  

When I figured out the gimmick, I was disappointed. I expected the arrows and such to represent some much more complicated relationship, requiring some sort of manipulation or translation. As a positional cue, the arrows were non-standard, to say the least. However, it was clear sailing after the light dawned.

faber 1:38 PM  

I get all these except the second one. Is a being a person?

LenFuego 1:42 PM  

Here are a few more, answers below

Sirocco. -> Santa Ana <- Chinook
Earth Mandalore -> Narnia. <-
-> = <- =. =



Anders 1:43 PM  

So what rate is 'k.p.s'? Is it supposed to be kilometers per second? But the correct abbreviation for kilometer is km. Is it supposed to be a data transfer speed of kilobits per second? But that is normally abbreviated kbps.

Am I missing something?

faber 1:52 PM  


I have always heard "fourth estate" for the press. But this would mess everything up. I think the ordinal is referring to the position in the list of three not the list of clues. Besides, a list of estates, one of which is the press would be a real curve ball.

LenFuego 1:56 PM  

@Albatross Shell

As you noted, in Rex’s puzzle in his post yesterday, 1 Down in the upper left corner was YOGA, but what you missed I think is that the symmetrical Down answer in the lower right corner was POSE. So the revealer clue for 1 Down would have encompassed both of those clues and answers, something like “With 57-Down,what each of the circled groups in this puzzle represent.”

bocamp 2:47 PM  

@Eniale (1:05 PM)

Thx for the good vibs! We're ok in Vanc., altho my bff is hunkered down in Abbotsford (which is the center of the most severe flooding). She's ok and in good spirits; we're praying for all those who are more severely impacted. The fam in West Kelowna (Okanagan Valley) have experienced some snow showers, but all is well with them. 🙏

td pg -1

Peace ~ Compassion ~ Tolerance ~ Kindness to all 🕊

LenFuego 2:48 PM  


For FOURTHESTATE, you wouldn’t have one entry in the list be “the press”, you would just list 4 famous estates, highlighting the last one, like so:

Monticello Mar-a-Lago Graceland -> Biltmore <-

Another possibility is FOURTHWALL, like so:

Wailing Berlin Hadrian’s -> Green Monster <-

I really like Green Monster there since it is so unmistakably associated with being a wall, but it is mildly inelegant that it is two words versus all the other clues (and I mean ALL the other clues), which limit themselves to one word only. Inside the arrows it might be OK since that makes it clear it is one entry in the list, but I suppose you could substitute Great in if Shortz objected. That makes the clue a bit harder to decipher, but Hadrian’s and Wailing should be obvious enough of revealers to carry the day.

okanaganer 2:51 PM  

@Linda R 9:22am: thank you for noticing that Scraper setting! I was about to say that this is the first time since the NYT abandoned the .puz format, that I've missed a puzzle feature by clinging to it. Everyone note the plugin is also available for Firefox and works great on many other sites like the LA Times and New Yorker. (Not the WSJ; I get an error.)

@Einale 1:05pm: We're fine here in the South Okanagan; we only got 3 mm of rain (1/8 inch), while Hope got 270 mm (almost a foot!) However we are completely cut off from the lower mainland, so people are panic buying and the stores are completely out of meat, milk, eggs, bread, and produce. Arrgh!!

Oh yes the puzzle itself: kinda weird theme; but I really liked Rex's witty writeup.

[Spelling Bee: yd -1; missed this word.]

Z 3:04 PM  

@JC66 - You're right, which is why scrambling the order in the grid would be an improvement. It is THIRD being fourth when all the rest are in their implied proper spot that is eye-twitch inducing. But if none of them were in their implied proper spot then the fact that all five only refer to clue placement would be more obvious.

@Anon12:54 - Constructors start with their themes then build the fill around it. So, yeah, if we had a "fourth whatever" answer we would have had a different grid.

@Anders - We normally measure in KPH, not KPS, and KM/H is what scientists may prefer, but pop in 300,000 KPS into the google machine and you will discover that is the approximate speed of light in a vacuum. Uncle Google will also ask you if you meant "kbps," so your confusion is understandable. This is at least the second time we've seen KPS clued in a "kilometers per second" way, so I think it is here to stay.

@Roo - I assumed "gold months" was a vibrant way to say "autumn."

@Len Fuego & albatross shell - Or don't clue YOGA and POSE as a revealer and let them be an Easter Egg.

Anoa Bob 3:05 PM  

Having THIRD PARTY as the fourth themer seemed a bit awkward to me. But then the theme clues never said anything explicit about there being a continuous series. Still seems a bit awkward.

Hey @Roo, looks like CHEETO could have used one of those excessive Ss.

SEMI NUDE, really? I thought NUDE was an either/or state, either you are NUDE or you are not. No MIDDLE ground.

Our Ruta Maya exploration group was spending the weekend in San Christóbal de las Casas, the capital of the Mexican state Chiapas, and a few of us were downtown in the central plaza (Zócalo) where some guy was speaking animatedly to bystanders and hawking what looked like small jars of Vaseline that he claimed would would cure all sorts of maladies and pains. He had alongside a large burlap bag which, with dramatic flair, he flung open and out came a huge SNAKE (I'm guessing nonvenomous). Lots of oohs and aahs from onlookers. He was literally selling SNAKE OIL! That was the FIRST and LAST time I ever witnessed that.

Tonight is our local group's Texas HOLD EM night. Wish me luck.

LenFuego 3:45 PM  


Yeah I suppose you could do that, but there are only three themers: DOWNDOG, BRIDGE and CORPSE. For any non-yoga doer (like me), it would not at all be obvious what those things are, especially since two of them are spread non-contiguously across the grid, In a well-crafted themed puzzle, the theme is an aid to solving it. That grid is begging for a very clear revealer.

Anonymous 3:48 PM  

KPS Korean Physical Society
KPS Kilometers Per Second
KPS Knowledge Pool System
KPS Kilobytes Per Second

also-Kalamazoo Public Schools

Smith 4:16 PM  

Ok, so this is crazy, but *before* I read ofl or the rest of you all, I want to say that I *loved this puzzle* and it took half, half! my normal Thursday time. Thought it was super clever getting those themers in order!

PS to the anon at 3:48 which is right above this as I type, those are the initials of the girls' school I attended ...

okanaganer 4:38 PM  

Re KPS, KPH... we went through this a few weeks ago, and I will restate: the only places that use those abbrev's are places that don't use kilometres (eg the US, Britain,... well, that's about it). Places that DO use km overwhelmingly use the correct km/h units. Note: small letters only!

[Spelling Bee: td 0; pretty quick getting to QB. My final word.]

Carola 5:16 PM  

@This 'n' That 1:24 - Yes, I had ATOM right there and didn't recognize "him"! Thanks for the sharp eyes :)

Anonymous 5:35 PM  

IMO, this theme was very badly constructed, and then no one edited it to fix the bad construction.

SOME of the clues were in a visual "stack" as in:


while others were laid out like a bad road map, with multiple arrows pointing in various directions. Completely inconsistent, IMO.

And among "Di, Gaga, Godiva" the FIRST those entities (as in "the first to exist in history") would correctly be LADY GODIVA, and *not* "Lady Di."

This puzzle has a very sloppy & incoherent approach to a "theme," which ought to have rendered it unacceptable to the NY Times.

Anonymous 5:55 PM  

“How do people have time in their days to consume all these things?”, asks someone who does about half a dozen crossword puzzles a day and blogs on one of them,

The Cleaver 8:05 PM  


Mar-a-Lago ain't no ESTATE, it's a money losing (making, if you believe?) club for The Orange Sh!tgibbon (not my coinage, but I cleave). Which probably lost money, just like his 'hotel' in DC.
And his bankrupt (3 times) casinos.
And his bankrupt airline.
And his bankrupt steaks.

Six in all:

"Everything he touches die"; one of the earlier outings of the Chimp of Wall Street.

Anonymous 8:05 PM  

Started slow and I settled in for a long one (I work across, then down, then fill), but once I got the theme (in the fill stage) it suddenly turned easy and ended up breaking my Thursday time record.

I usually have naan with my curry, sometimes poori or bhatura, but not ROTI. In fact, it is not even on the menu at the Indian restaurant we frequent.

Maybe it shows my age, but I, too, wonder who has time for vlogs, blogs (do people really listen to those?), building playlists, playing games on apps, etc. Tech seems to absorb more time than it saves. I refused a work cell because while people are updating, charging, loading apps, fixing problems (mainly truing to get their streaming app to work right), etc. I am getting work done and can still be reached on my desk phone or by email when needed.

PhotoAde 9:02 PM  

Wow. Ea-sy. That felt like it was between a Monday and a Tuesday. Best Thursday time and really no resistance throughout. Kept wondering if our answers were right because they were so straightforward.

Anonymous 9:13 PM  

@The Cleaver 8:05
But gas was $1.50 when he was in. Your boy hadn't it at $4.50.

The Cleaver 9:37 PM  


As if either one can command the price of gas. If you want that, go live in Russia or China. Well if you can be an oligarch, of course. Could be a vast Right Wing Conspiracy to drive up petro prices. Sure seems to work. Not to mention that for the last 2 years nobody went anywhere, now everybody wants to go everywhere. And petro futures are falling into the pit as I type. Or didn't you notice?

just one report.

albatross shell 10:15 PM  

@Len Fuego
Yes. You are correct. I missed that. Decent reveal after all.

Easter idea is good too.

DGD 10:49 PM  

And anonymous is cherry picking his stats. Picking the lowest of the Trump administration and the cheapest state vs. the high point of Biden's and California. Anyway he sounds like those who praised Mussolini for getting the trains to run on time.

Z 11:55 PM  

@Len Fuego - the theme is an aid to solving - Nope. This is almost never the case and this is good. Sometimes sussing out the theme makes the puzzle easier to solve, but a well crafted theme might only become apparent after the puzzle is filled. Indeed, the best themes give up their secrets only when some brain sweat is applied.

@DGD - As I recall the $1.50/gallon pump price was a direct result of a cratering economy caused by an administration that mismanaged a pandemic. I went from late February 2020 to September 2020 without buying gas. Of course, this is irrelevant to me now since I drive a Bolt, but 700,000 deaths seems like a poor trade-off for $1.50/gallon gas.

albatross shell 2:31 AM  

Anonymous knows. He is just BSing.

LenFuego 8:55 AM  


I couldn’t disagree more. The best crossword puzzles are when getting the theme is required, or at least extremely helpful, to solve the puzzle. I.e., the theme is entwined with the puzzle solving experience. No well-crafted theme becomes apparent only after the puzzle is solved — that takes the theme out of the puzzle solving experience, which to me is inane.

You, I suspect, are like Rex, largely interested in the “crossword” portion of “crossword puzzle” — I.e., a fan of words, that are crossed in the grid, and solving those crossed words in tried and true predictable ways. The joy of solving a crossword puzzle for that type of solver is like putting on a pair of old comfy slippers.

I, on the other hand, though a fan of words, am far more interested in the “puzzle” portion of “crossword puzzle”, loving a new and different solving experience that requires a new way of thinking each solve. Encountering a grid that cannot be completed without figuring out a novel and tough theme, figuring out that theme, and then using what you have figured out to complete the grid to me is the height of crossword puzzle solving. The joy of solving a crossword puzzle for that type of solver is like riding a scary roller coaster.

But it’s all good - to each his or her own.

LenFuego 9:08 AM  

@The Cleaver

And yet, when I went to the List of American Houses page on Wikipedia, for Mar-a-Lago, the first thing it said was “a mansion and estate in Palm Beach, Florida”.

I’m no fan of Trump, I just needed a one word estate that was familiar to NYT crossword solvers, which Mar-a-Lago surely is. Feel free to contribute your own choice rather than criticize me.

kitshef 10:37 PM  

Lovely puzzle. I love a Thursday rebus, but I love even more a Thursday non-rebus twist.

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