Antelope with lyre-shaped horns / THU 1-20-22 / Field of Mad Men informally / Programming language named for a beverage named for an island / Mascot of the N.F.L.'s Ravens, appropriately / Expanse crossed by the Silk Road

Thursday, January 20, 2022

Constructor: Howard Barkin

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: CT ... scan? (CROSSWORD THEME)  — So, ignore that. Here's the deal: clues are quite literal but *also* follow the initial letter pattern of the initialisms found in their clues. So:

Theme answers:
  • 18A: TV talent show? (THE VOICE) (it's an actual "TV talent show" *and* its initial letters are TV)
  • 28A: FM band on the radio? (FLEETWOOD MAC) (an actual band heard on FM radio with the initials "FM")
  • 49A: Academy Awards M.C.? (MICHAEL CAINE) (an actor who has been nominated for an Oscar six times (winning two), whose initials are obviously M.C.)
  • 64A: U.S. symbol? (UNCLE SAM) (he's definitely a symbol of the U.S., and, as you see, "U" for UNCLE, "S" for SAM)
Word of the Day: IMPALA (14A: Antelope with lyre-shaped horns) —

The impala (/ɪmˈpɑːlə, -ˈpælə/Aepyceros melampus) is a medium-sized antelope found in eastern and southern Africa. The sole member of the genus Aepyceros, it was first described to European audiences by German zoologist Hinrich Lichtensteinin 1812. Two subspecies are recognised—the common impala, and the larger and darker black-faced impala. The impala reaches 70–92 cm (28–36 in) at the shoulder and weighs 40–76 kg (88–168 lb). It features a glossy, reddish brown coat. The male's slender, lyre-shaped horns are 45–92 cm (18–36 in) long.

Active mainly during the day, the impala may be gregarious or territorial depending upon the climate and geography. Three distinct social groups can be observed: the territorial males, bachelor herds and female herds. The impala is known for two characteristic leaps that constitute an anti-predator strategy. Browsers as well as grazers, impala feed on monocotsdicotsforbsfruits and acacia pods (whenever available). An annual, three-week-long rut takes place toward the end of the wet season, typically in May. Rutting males fight over dominance, and the victorious male courts female in oestrusGestation lasts six to seven months, following which a single calf is born and immediately concealed in cover. Calves are suckled for four to six months; young males—forced out of the all-female groups—join bachelor herds, while females may stay back.

The impala is found in woodlands and sometimes on the interface (ecotone) between woodlands and savannahs; it inhabits places near water. While the black-faced impala is confined to southwestern Angola and Kaokoland in northwestern Namibia, the common impala is widespread across its range and has been reintroduced in Gabon and southern Africa. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) classifies the impala as a species of least concern; the black-faced subspecies has been classified as a vulnerable species, with fewer than 1,000 individuals remaining in the wild as of 2008. (wikipedia)

• • •

What is this lovely Tuesday, possibly Wednesday puzzle doing in the Thursday slot!? There is a tiny bit of twistiness to the theme, with its occasionally not-quite-plausibly literal clues (you wouldn't call FLEETWOOD MAC an "FM band," for instance, but today for wordplay reasons you get the weird syntax). But so what, you throw "?"s on the ends of the clues and all's well. There is very little that is Thursday-tricky and absolutely nothing that is Thursday-tough about this one. I had trouble recalling MOHANDAS (by which I mean I never quite recalled it and needed most every cross) (8D: Mahatma Gandhi's given name). Beyond that, there were no struggles. Read clue, answer clue. Bam bam bam, straight down the line. Had AT ALL instead of OF ALL (57A: Ever) and for some reason blanked on ANA Ortiz (69A: Actress Ortiz), but honestly there wasn't another answer in the whole puzzle that caused any trouble. Tuesday stuff. Oh wait, I forgot that I absurdly wanted TALCUM (!?) instead of TALLOW when I first looked at 6D: Soap ingredient. But that's just me being an idiot, not the puzzle being hard. So I'll just pretend this puzzle appeared on T or W and say I think it's nice. Not TOO NICE, but just right. The theme is simple, elegant, clever. I'm impressed at the double-level of meaning in the clues, and even more impressed at the ones that are so dead on that if you didn't have the "?" at the end of the clue you might not even notice that there *was* a doubleness—THE VOICE and UNCLE SAM could be clued in most contexts with these very clues, minus the "?," and no one would blink. The FLEETWOOD MAC and MICHAEL CAINE clues are fudged a bit more. As I said, "FM band" is there to make you think "band on the dial" not music band, and MICHAEL CAINE never (as far as I know) took on the role of actual M.C. at the Oscars. But FLEETWOOD MAC does appear on FM radio and MICHAEL CAINE is one of the most Oscar-nominated actors in history, so the clues do still work on a *nearly* literal (if misdirective) level. I wish more Tuesday themes were this neat and thoughtful. I expect something thornier on Thursdays, but the constructor has nothing to do with the publication-day decision, so I'll just say "Good Tuesday!" and leave it there.

Speaking of MICHAEL CAINE, I started watching "Deathtrap" last night as part of my plan to spend this year seeing most every movie that came out in 1982. Why else would anyone be watching "Deathtrap" in 2022? It's not ... great, but the cast is great ("Superman"'s Christopher Reeve! Crossword stalwart DYAN Cannon!), as is (normally) the director (Sidney LUMET). MICHAEL CAINE plays a washed-up playwright—specifically, a writer of murder-mystery plays (!?)—who is so disheartened by his own failures, and so jealous of his naive protégé for having written a great first play ("Deathtrap"), that he decides to kill the young man and pass "Deathtrap" off as his own. I'm only halfway through, so I don't know how it ends. So far the best 1982 movie I've seen is "Poltergeist," followed by "Das Boot," "Smithereens," and "E.T." But I've got scores more to watch at this point, so that's a very preliminary Best Of list. As for MICHAEL CAINE, for my money his best (and most frightening) role was in "Get Carter" (1971), as the titular mob enforcer-turned-avenger that everyone is trying to "get" by movie's end. Bleak British noir. Fantastic. Caine won his two Supporting Actor Oscars for "Hannah and Her Sisters" (1986) and "The Cider House Rules" (1999). He's been nominated for Best Actor four times but never won. He was also nominated for an Oscar in five straight decades, from the '60s ("Alfie") through the '00s ("The Quiet American"). Thank you for coming to my MICHAEL CAINE talk. See you tomorrow.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld 

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Loren Muse Smith 6:03 AM  

Rex – me, too, on the talcum thought. Hah.

I caught on very early, brag brag, and was delighted. What a cool idea. The admirable part is the cluing imo, especially that FLEETWOOD MAC is an FM band on the radio. Brilliant. Bravo, Howard.

I’ve always found the name FITBIT weird for a watch; it seems more foodsome. Grapenuts are FITBITs. A piece of properly massaged kale is a FITBIT. Ack.

I don’t have the occasion to eat a lot of Indian food, so after considering a distracted “peat,” I filled (!) in “pear.”

MAHOGANY with a tinge of LILAC results in the color puce. What a spectacular face-plant of a color name. Someone was asleep at the wheel there, buddy.

A: OMG! You’re engaged!!! Lemme see the ring!!!
B: It’s two carats!
A: Have you set the date?
B: Yes! Next April!
A: Have you decided on your colors?
B: Eggshell and puce!

WAH Wah wah. . .

I always say hones in. I’ve looked into this, and it seems that I’m not alone. HOME SIN: leaving the nightlight on in my bathroom during the day. And not filling the kitchen garbage can full enough before taking it outside. We have to remove the bag from the can and leave it on the kitchen floor so as to make sure we get our money’s worth. No. Really. Hi, Mom.

EGGO – I have waffles every Saturday and Sunday, made on my nifty two-waffle-flip-over-Holiday-Inn-Breakfast-area waffle iron. I eat two both mornings. So this past weekend I had to house-sit for my sister (a Georgia alum who was in Indiana for the game GO DAWGS). Too lazy to schlepp my behemoth iron to her house, I bought a box of Great Value blueberry EGGO wannabes. I have to say, they were delicious, all 8 of them, which I polished off in one sitting no prob.

Final note – in coming up with my avatar, it occurred to me that the Blarney Stone is a shamrock. Sham rock. Get it? Certain I had noticed a very cool thing, my heart rate went up. Until I saw the bajillion mugs that already had the same joke. Sigh.

(Now to find my sham poo to play a joke on a student, Jeremiah H. . .)

Teresa 6:11 AM  

Fun to see JEKYLL in the puzzle and the rhyming clue is nice, but whoever wrote that clue has never read the book. Mr. Hyde is the evil one, not Dr. Jekyll.

Elaine 6:12 AM  

I knew Mohandas from Seinfeld. But how could OFL talk up Michael Caine and not mention Sleuth? Or link to his guest vocal in the Madness song, (My Name Is) Michael Caine?

Conrad 6:19 AM  

As usual, I tried to do the puzzle without reading the themer clues. Not so usually, it worked on a Thursday. Then when I was done I wondered how the answers tied together. Interesting. As @Rex said, nice, but too easy for the day.

Writeovers: @LMS PEAr before PEAS at 44A and HOnES before HOMES at 39A; and my very own JEckyL before JEKYLL at 17A.

OffTheGrid 6:21 AM  

What a lovely puzzle! Smooth and engaging. I WANT YOU

bocamp 6:21 AM  

Thx Howard; liked your construction very much! :)

Easy+. Played more like a Tues/Wednes. for me.

Was definitely tuned in to right 'radio band' for this one.

Pretty much moved effortlessly thru it, altho had a bit of a holdup in the SW, as I had AT ALL, before IN ALL and HOnES IN before HOMES IN.

Liked MAH & MOH.

Very enjoyable trip! :)

@okanaganer 👍 for 0 dbyd
yd pg-3*/ W=4*

Peace ~ Compassion ~ Tolerance ~ Kindness to all 🕊

JOHN X 6:22 AM  

Is today Monday? I thought it was Thursday. What a time warp.

TRUE ADVENTURES OF JOHN X: I once got hammered in San Francisco on a Monday and I woke up in China on a Wednesday. That time warp really happened.

TALLOW is made from boiled dead horses, pigs, and zoo animals. It makes great soap. Buy some today!

Anonymous 6:41 AM  

Today was a Thursday morning that I really needed a Tuesday-level puzzle, so I’m grateful for that. And any morning with a post from @lms is the start of a good day, so I’m especially grateful for that as well.

SouthsideJohnny 6:49 AM  

I definitely started out slowly with FITBIT, TALLOW, Mr. Gandhi, and even the Simpsons in the NW. Picked up on the theme with Fleetwood Mac (that’s a valid clue - they’re on the radio plenty enough even these days), and really made hay South of the equator. I think they took some license with Michael Caine, but fair enough and close enough for CrossWorld in my book.

Props to the constructor for a pretty clean, junk-free grid - barely a WoE to be found today. Yes, maybe FITBIT isn’t entirely mainstream, but pretty close.

Just so that I’m not TOO NICE, I’ll leave us with a random thought for the day - You know, some people say “Never kick a man when he’s down”, I say “Why not, he’s right there at foot level !”. Have a nice day.

oceanjeremy 7:09 AM  

My wife and I did not solve this puzzle together — that we do only on Saturdays and Sundays. But we did solve at the same time last night, sitting on opposite ends of the sofa. I finished a little faster than her (just a little!), as she got hung up briefly (very briefly!) on PEAS and TALLOW.

She said to me, “Ok, I get it. MC are his initials. FM… TV… okay, they’re all their initials. Kind of a weak theme.”

“Especially for a Thursday,” I added.

“Oh my GOD, this is a Thursday, isn’t it! This isn’t a Thursday puzzle. It’s a Wednesday at best. What a waste of a Thursday! I want tricks. I want rebuses.”

Frustrated pause.

“If you comment on Rex’s blog tomorrow, tell everyone your wife wants more rebuses.”

kitshef 7:11 AM  

Kinda weird, in that the ?s were unnecessary … all the theme clues work fine without them. Agree, quite easy.

Fun fact: JEKYLL was originally pronounced as “Jee-kul” (rhymes with fecal). Sometime in the 20th century, it morphed into “Jeck-il”. Some other examples:
“ration” used to rhyme with “nation”
“flaccid” used to be pronounced “flaksid”

The JEKYLL shift as far as I can tell took place before my time.
“Ration” change is recent enough that I can remember people using the old pronunciation, but only dimly.
“Flaccid”, the shift took place completely in my lifetime. Everyone used to say flaksid, now (almost) everyone says flassid.

kitshef 7:12 AM  

Michael Caine hosted the Oscars in 1973.

amyyanni 7:25 AM  

Exactly what Rex said. Delightful. Also agree on Deathtrap. Saw John Wood, a favorite actor (English), in the play in Boston. If I'd saved the playbill, it would pay for an Indian repast (coincidentally had Indian takeout last night, no samosas) for a few of us.

Son Volt 7:33 AM  

I think we’ll see a lot of “easiest Thursday ever” today. I liked it the theme and overall fill was fine. Had Matisse first for 53a cheating on the double S - CACTI reeled me in. POE sans the EA today. Thought plural clue for NOSIEST was clunky.

Is LITMUS the same as a pH test?

Enjoyable Thursday solve.

Trey 7:44 AM  

Nice puzzle. Easy for a Thursday.

@LMS and others - I paused on HOMES IN to consider using the 'n' in the middle, and decided that HOnES was likely a mis-use of the phrase. Given its popularity so far on this blog, I wonder if maybe it started with HOnES (as in to sharpen) and morphed to HOMES. Someone must know...

Few write-overs - kURd before TURK, atALL before OF ALL.

Took me awhile to see GOBI. I was thinking asia first, and then ural(s).

I found the theme to be solid. I saw it at FLEETWOOD MAC even though I had THE VOICE already completed. My response after the first was "Why is there a question mark on this clue? Of course THE VOICE is a talent show on TV". In retrospect, it was a perfect clue.

Tom T 7:45 AM  

Almost my fastest Thursday ever, which would be relevant if this had been a Thursday level puzzle.

But I enjoyed it. Delighted to see TOO NICE soaring above UNKIND.

As for 6D, TALLOW, it sits adjacent to a Hidden Diagonal LYE--just add water and you have a bar of "pure tallow soap" (thanks but no thanks), according to the Old Fashioned on Purpose website ("30 oz tallow or lard, 3.88 oz 100% pure lye, 11 oz distilled water).

Trey 7:47 AM  

@Son Volt 7:33 - someone posted here a month or so ago about LITMUS and pH tests - as I recall, the litmus strip tells you if the solution is an acid or base (above or below pH 7) whereas a pH test gives you the pH of the solution (or at least a range that the pH is in)

Mike Herlihy 7:49 AM  

As @Teresa mentioned - from Wikipedia: Jekyll is a kind and respected English doctor who has repressed evil urges inside of him. In an attempt to hide this, he develops a type of serum that he believes will effectively mask his dark side. Instead, Jekyll transforms into Edward Hyde, the physical and mental manifestation of his evil personality.

Richard Stanford 7:54 AM  

I didn’t actually pick up on the theme. I saw it in FM Band as a minor “aha” but all of the other clues were so straightforward I never put two and two together.

PGregory Springer 7:54 AM  

Because Monday was a holiday, the regular Thursday puzzle will appear tomorrow

mmorgan 8:06 AM  

Why 1982?

MKF 8:06 AM  

Thought for a second that "Abbiz Field" was an actor on Mad Men, and that Abbiz was the informal version of some name with which I am not familiar! Then recognized bAD JOKE could be DAD JOKE, and everything made sense.

Also struggled with HOnES vs. HOMES. Otherwise, this was a breeze.

pabloinnh 8:10 AM  

Today we will take my four year old granddaughter skiing and go up the magic carpet beginner lift and come down the easiest hill at the area and that will be just like doing today's puzzle. Enjoyable enough, but absolutely no challenge.

I miss Thursdays.

Not your fault I'm sure, HB, but make another Thursday, and don't Hold Back. Thanks.

Diane Joan 8:26 AM  

Once again I got the puzzle but missed the theme. Not to get too "meta"about it but the question marks kind of drove me crazy as I pondered my very literal answers to those clues. Thanks you Rex and all others for enlightening me as to the theme!

Hope you all have safe travels today especially if the wintry mix has come your way!

Anonymous 8:58 AM  

Right off the bat, before I got the theme, I confidently started putting in STEELYDAN for the "FM Band" clue. (It was too short though.)

Liveprof 9:05 AM  

1. Re: kicking a man when he’s down (thx, Southside Johnny 6:49!): Never judge a man until you’ve walked a mile in his shoes. That way, when you do judge him, he can’t hear you, plus you get to keep his shoes. (Ray and Tom from Car Talk)

2. Discussing the Mahatma with a 3-year-old is like taking Gandhi from a baby. (Larry Josephson, I think)

3. Again from Car Talk: Staff Butler: Mahatma Coat.

Anonymous 9:09 AM  

Caine was OK in 'Deathtrap' but he was much better in 'The Trip'......

Anonymous 9:13 AM  

I was taught that the preferred usage is HOMES IN and that hones in was wrong but apparently some here have decided that usage scolds and grammar scolds are to be shamed and avoided so it’s all good.

CDilly52 9:21 AM  

@oceanjeremy - a heartfelt AMEN! I actually solved while it was still Wednesday and got completely confused thinking “but I already solved Wednesday; what the heck day IS THIS?!?!

And I want my rebus Thursday!

Zed 9:22 AM  

The problem is that this puzzle doesn’t tuezz, so Shortz wisely chose to run this puzzle on Thursday. It’s just too well done to run on the correct day.

FLEETWOOD MAC was definitely an FM band back in the day. Shaun Cassidy was a more AM act.

Pondering this JEKYLL and Hyde conundrum. Any case for HYDE trying to hide JEKYLL as the novel goes on? Or is this a case of taking all one’s important knowledge about the book from Bugs Bunny.

@Elaine - Is the opening of that video riffing on Get Carter? I think it is.

@oceanjeremy - 😂🤣😂 - I just ran into a rebus puzzle in a subscription puzzle. So much better when they’re unexpected.

@kitshef - I say and hear “ration” both ways. Merriam-Webster gives both.

@Trey - Merriam-Webster often has an essay on this kind of question. And “both” seems to be the answer.

@mmorgan - Why not 1982?

**Wordle Alert**
Still on my lucky first guess streak. First and last letter correct, then got it on the third guess.

RooMonster 9:34 AM  

Hey All !
@Son Volt
Easy ThursPuz! Three minutes off my record, and 12 minutes faster than my average. (The NYT site tracks these things for you. I don't actively look at them unless I do a puz quickly, like todays.)

Agree with others not a ThursPuz. Should've been Wednesday.

Also, similar writeover as others, HOnESIN first, until I couldn't think of a color that started NAH. One other, atALL, because it's always atALL. Although OFALL does garner an F. 😁

Wanted MAHATMA for MOHANDAS. Looked back at the clue, and it said Mahatma. Har. *Head slap*

Alternate clue for 39A to make it a Themer:
Gets real close to a HI? (OK, maybe not...)

Good puz Howlin Barkin. I mean Howard. Har. (CMON Howard's parents... missed opportunity 😁)

yd -12 (oof) missed P, should'ves 6

Three F's

Peter P 9:34 AM  

What day is it again? Seriously, I actually checked to make sure it was a Thursday puzzle I was doing--I do sometimes lose track of days. Well, it led to a personal record which was basically a slow Monday time or a fast Tuesday. I was really confused as answers were just flying out one after another, with little stop, starting with FITBIT. I was at least expecting a roadblock with Thursday trickery somewhere, but nada.

A clean enjoyable puzzle, for sure, but I'm disappointed this was a Thursday. Thursday puzzles are the ones I look forward to the most, but there was no fight in this puzzle and no real trick or gimmick to figure out that was necessary to puzzle out the answer. I didn't notice the initials used in the clue were also in the answer, but you didn't need to notice that at all to drop in the answers after a couple of letters--if that. That just made it extra easy for already easy clues. How many television talent shows are there to choose from to fit 8 letters? And it's one of the biggest ones. How many American symbols are there? Stars, stripes, bald eagle, Uncle Sam. Those are the first four off the top of my head.

In all, fun, but should have run on a Tuesday or even Monday.

Pete 9:40 AM  

I will admit that PEAS are very common in samosas, but are they really popular? If offered the option of samosas with or without peas, which would you choose? Samosas with PEAS or samosas with bacon? I'm in the no-peas please group for either, so they're not popular with me. PEAS are good a good source of protein in a vegetarian diet, that's why they're in samosas, but that doesn't mean they're popular. I'll get my protein from my favorite lamb curry thank you very much.

Merry Benezra 9:41 AM  

A Monday puzzle on a Thursday. Aaugh!

Zed 9:42 AM  

@Anon9:13 - 😂🤣 - Ponder the difference between saying one usage is “correct” opposed to “preferred” opposed to “more common.” Merriam-Webster writes home in remains significantly more common, and is the version to use if you want to avoid criticism. Personally, I always thought there was a difference of connotation between the two, which is supported by M-W, but does not seem to be widely believed based on the need to answer this question.

CDilly52 9:45 AM  

Other than agreeing completely with @oceanjeremy (and especially with his solving and life partner-wife re more rebus please), all I have to say is clever well executed initials theme, especially for a Tuesday or Wednesday. I understood that we were talking initials right off the bat (no humble just brag).

Like others, I remember MOHANDAS from Seinfeld. Also, I am one who typically HOnES IN, but accept that in fixing sights specifically or more sharply upon an object or issue either homing or honing is appropriate (back to our glorious language from yesterday). That one letter hiccup was easily rectified (a word that always reminds me to schedule my colonoscopy).

My one real problem was from misreading 10A as asking for a “neighbor of Syria” and upon seeing _ _RK, I had a short “Ruh roh Reorge” moment, but went back to read the clue and cleaned that up.

Nicely done, Mr. Barkin! Not your fault the editor fit you in on the wrong day of the week. ‘Twas a misFITBIT. I will take an excellent puzzle any say so thank you!

Mill City Architect 9:45 AM  

Looking forward to Rex’s revised movie review of Deathtrap after he watches the second half.

Anonymous 9:49 AM  

OK, here's my take: The correct & preferred usage is 'Homed in (on)'. 'Honed in (on)' is an ignorant misusage, perhaps arising because of the bridge-phrase 'Horned in (on)' which has a distinct meaning but a) is somewhat similar to the meaning of 'Homed in' and yet SOUNDS like 'Honed in (on)': 'honed/horned'. Since English is nothing if not a flexible language, the incorrect usage, by first becoming 'common' will gradually becoming 'accepted' and eventually be deemed 'correct', even though it isn't.

Frantic Sloth 9:50 AM  


Maybe I should stop trying to do these at 3am.
Maybe Shortz, should stop trying to pass off such themes as Thurs-worthy.
Maybe we should stop trying to pick apart the subjective pros & cons of crossword puzzles.


Maybe not.


TJS 9:51 AM  

I have a minor problem and I am sure someone can help. Every time I start to sign out of my laptop, a blog entry from the Rex comment section of a few days earlier pops up before I can sign out. How do I get rid of it ?

Other than his rants, Rex has been spot on about the tone of the puzzles lately, IMO.

Nancy 9:58 AM  

I looked at my newspaper three times to make sure it was Thursday. A cute theme, but not Thursday-hard -- especially since all the initial-based theme answers came in on their own. And I sort of didn't notice: after all, UNCLE SAM is a U.S. symbol even without the initials. The constructor -- who did come up with a clever idea -- was done a disservice: this should have run on a Wednesday. But a perfectly enjoyable Wednesday, nonetheless.

Whatsername 10:00 AM  

Good news: I liked this a lot and sailed through it while admiring the cleverness of the themers.

Bad news: Apparently there’s no Thursday crossword this week.

Not to be UNKIND but the whole time I was solving this while sipping my JAVA, THE VOICE in my head kept saying “it’s going to get better.” It didn’t. This puzzle OOZEd Tuesday and at times even Monday. No fault of the constructor of course. Good puzz, wrong day.

I watched every episode of Mad Men at least three times. If the term AD BIZ had been used in a pitch to Don Draper, he and Roger Sterling would have summarily kicked that poor copywriter to the curb.

MICHAEL CAINE a is a absolute hoot as a foppish talent coach in the movie Miss Congeniality with Sandra Bullock and the wonderful Candice Bergen. A so so film but so loaded with talent that it’s well worth watching.

Carola 10:01 AM  

A WYVERN on Monday and this puzzle on a Thursday: the time is definitely out of joint. Cute theme, nicely done, but solved in a trice.

Anonymous 10:01 AM  

Anon 9:49,
Amen! Flat out, straight up ignotance is the real explanation for honed in. The tortured defense Meriam-Webster offers (pretty sure they cadge it from other sources) is silly on its face.

Anonymous 10:03 AM  

Hones in is erroneous because it misses the point. Homing means to get to a specific place. Honing means to sharpen. They are not, in any way, interchangeable.

Anonymous 10:03 AM  

@TJS: Nuke it from outer space; it's the only way to be sure

mathgent 10:07 AM  

I've seen almost all the Oscar telecasts but don't remember Michael Caine emceeing. He was one of four cohosts.

Bad editing on the clue for JEKYLL. Put that on top of dull cluing, dull fill, and a dull theme and you have a real dud, any day of the week.

JD 10:11 AM  

Confusing, like a test you gear up for that turns out to be easy and keeps you waiting for the tough things you studied for that never come up.

Great cluing on Gathering of Spies, Alternatively, Ever, and Approaches Closely. All three made me stop and think about the language, especially Homes as in Homes In.

It's Retirement World week at the NYT puzzle, where every day feels like Tuesday. Fun, but slightly disorienting.

Homes v. Hone. Went back and forth on this and Homes won with a TKO in seventh round. No seriously, I thought Home in meant move closer in on something you were aiming at and Hone in on meant to get down to the finer points of something. If it's not that way, it should be.

@Frantic, I'll spend the day honing in on your great philosophical questions. Or maybe I'll just ponder them. It's all very ponderous.

jberg 10:13 AM  

@Loren, me too for thinking pear before PEAS -- I didn't put in the R, because it was too weird, but I agree that peas aren't all that popular.

Fine, easy puzzle, just too small nits (I guess all nits are small, aren't they?): first why clue ONAN as a fill-in-the-blank when you've got a perfectly good Biblical figure to use? (Or maybe abuse?)

And second, to paraphrase Michael Pollan, EGGO is not a food but a "food-like item."

@kitshef -- the great garden writer Gertrude JEKYLL's surname is pronounced jee-kul. But she was in England, where they pronounce lots of things wrong.

Spelling Bea 10:18 AM  

I really enjoyed seeing anon 10:01's post elaborating on the ignotance of others. It's a classic case of the pot calling the kettle blak.

Unknown 10:18 AM  

Re Michael Caine, if you haven't seen Sleuth, watch it tonight!

Big J 10:19 AM  

" It's been a terrible week, All Tuesdays!"

puzzlehoarder 10:20 AM  

Easier than a Wednesday.

yd pg-2

GILL I. 10:22 AM  

Ah yes....Easy, but some sparkle and joyfulness were peppered here and there. I didn't want it to end.....I was having such fun.
What made you smile? you ask....A bunch of stuff. I'll start with Samosas: I make them a lot. They take time so you probably need a full day. You can fill them with just about anything but you HAVE to have potatoes. The dough is made with flour and oil and it's messy but in the end, delicioso! By the way, they originated in the Middle East. MOHANDAS Gandhi ate a few, took them back to India and ordered every street vendor to make them and sell them. They became a hit.
Speaking of Gandhi:
Whenever I go to San Francisco (and steer clear of any Silicon Valley tycoons) I take the ferry from Sausalito to the Ferry Building. If I'm meeting up with friends, I tell them to go to Gandhi's statue where we can rendezvous and chit-chat. It's a small bronze, facing the Bay Bridge and strangely enough some locals don't even know it exists.
I also liked seeing FLEETWOODMAC. Before we got married, my husband would play all of their songs over and over and over again. He was secretly in love with Stevie Nicks. I thought she was a boob. I, though, was secretly in love with Lindsey Buckingham (guitarist) so we were equal in our lusts...We still are after 37 years of marriage. Hah!
TOO NICE and UNKIND walked into my bar. Who do you think was the bartender that night? Was is JEKYLL or Hyde?.....

Newboy 10:25 AM  

@Frantic Sloth said it. Any Thursday when I get the GIST of the DAD JOKE aha is LIKE MILD…..and I miss my rebus double of caNada at 67d! Thanks anyway Howard since you saved me from having to AMP up my FITBIT before dawn.

Frantic Sloth 10:27 AM  

I wonder what Rex was doing in 1982. Certainly not seeing "Gandhi" either.

Perhaps I'm too illiterate to offer an explanation or even an opinion, but the clue for 17A is from Hyde's perspective. So wouldn't he naturally try to hide JEKYLL in order to survive or remain dominant? Plus there's all that rhymeyness going on with the clue as well.
I didn't have a problem with it.

@Pete 940am Peas please me, oh yeah - why not please you? 😉(with apologies to the Beatles)

***More from The "Nobody Asked, But I Have an Opinion" Department Alert***

Re: HOMES v. HOnES What @Anonymous 949am said.

Nancy 10:30 AM  

I looked at my newspaper three times to make sure it was Thursday. A cute theme, but not Thursday-hard -- especially since all the initial-based theme answers came in on their own. And I sort of didn't notice: after all, UNCLE SAM is a U.S. symbol even without the initials. The constructor -- who did come up with a clever idea -- was done a disservice: this should have run on a Wednesday. But a perfectly enjoyable Wednesday, nonetheless.

JD 10:31 AM  

@jberg, Michael Pollan, whose never fails with an enlightening read on food, is wrong this time, probably because he never tried the Eggo thick and fluffy version. They're actually quite good. Not scratch-Belgian waffle-pancake good but look-there's-no-clean-up-not-bad good. And there's a whole grain version, still good.

And HA on the English comment! I worked with a Brit who told me his wife had made Tackos for dinner the evening before. I wanted to scream, "TAHKOs! You people AH everything did you say Tacko on purpose?"

Psst, @mathgent, Since Emcee comes from MC (Master of Ceremonies), give yourself a Mathgent today. You aren't wrong. Not even Joaquin's dictum changes that fact.

burtonkd 10:33 AM  

I had HOnES, but then thought of the homing pigeon.

Also wanted more tricksyness, but good for what it was.

I just went over to the New Yorker and breezed through a "challenging" Gorsky, then was stumped by an "easy" Schecter with 2 adjacent WOEs - not even remotely familiar after finished. I can hear Rex railing about all kinds of stuff in those puzzles, but I'll just have to go on my own opinion:)

Really nice to see LMS for a brief moment, is she tag-teaming with Lewis to start the blog on a positive note?

I wanted ___LYE for the soap, but TALLOW disagreed. Thanks Tom T for the useful diagonal.

FITBIT also counts on your non-movements. I am now trying to rack up steps during the day and get a killer sleep score at night. Today we have a NYC area school snow day that was announced by a 6am robocall and my FITBIT wrist-watch going crazy at 6am. The only call I'm happy to be awoken for! On Monday, I drove from Montreal in blizzard like conditions going by cars who "drifted" off the highway (DADJOKE alert), but a few fluffy flakes is now too much for me to get to school:)

@jberg - bringing up Michael Pollan on Michael Caine day leads to me hearing the EGGO quote in his voice.

MC was also excellent (for a payday role) as Alfred the butler in the Christopher Nolan Batman series.

mathgent 10:37 AM  

Nobody bragging about their Wordle performance so far. I think that I did good to get it in 4.

Anonymous 10:39 AM  

JD: My mother (a Brit who loved the US) pronounced pizza 'pitzer'. We patiently explained the proper way to say it, but it always came out 'pitzer'.

jazzmanchgo 10:42 AM  

Mahatma + Michael CAINE -- possibly a reverse-action shout-out to W.C. Fields, who took the phrasee "My hat, my cane, Jeeves" and fashioned it into his immortal alias, "Mahatma Kane Jeeves"?

Zed 10:44 AM  

@JD - My thought exactly on the difference between HOMES IN and hone in. Not, however, my thought on MC. @mathgent is correct, but that the MC duties were carried out by a collective doesn’t change that all four were MCs, Masters of Ceremony.

@Anon10:01 - Are you accusing M-W of looking at sources before coming up with definitions? Shocking if true!

@jberg - 😂🤣😂 - Best parenthetical of the day.

jae 10:44 AM  

Easy. My only bumpy area was SW where OFF ALL (I got stuck wanting at ALL) and IF NOT took some nanoseconds to ferret out. Cute, but I’m with the more Tuesday/Wednesday than Thursday contingent, liked it.

Teresa 10:45 AM  

@Frantic Sloth, I considered that too (regarding JEKYLL), but didn't see a reason for Hyde to hide him. You've given a good explanation. I concede your point!

bigsteve46 10:46 AM  

Boy, a lot of you guys have your days of the week defined by the difficulty of the crossword puzzle! I sure hope this pandemic business eases and we can all get our asses out of the house a little and - in the words of one of the great Bob and Ray routines - "widen our horizons."

MetroGnome 10:47 AM  

RE: "Homing"/"homing"-- For years, I actually thought "honing" was the correct verb, because to "hone" something is to narrow it down or sharpen it, which is exactly what we do with our perspective (or perhaps our field of vision) when we "home" in on something. So if you think about it, the alternative meaning really isn't that far-fetched.

Frantic Sloth 11:00 AM  

Forgot to mention the malapop I had at 1D: isle before FIJI, then 50D (ISLE) happened.

@JD 1011am Wait. Is it only Tuesdays that are supposed to be "fun, but slightly disorienting"?
Uh oh.

@Teresa 1045am Thank you. It's a shame you went all public with your agreement. Your cred-o-meter is gonna take a hit! 😉

Tim Carey 11:01 AM  


Tim Carey 11:04 AM  

I know I'm pretty ignorant, but if the themes were all with question marks... wouldn't it have been better to avoid question marks on 23A"Gathering of spys? and 19D"Collectable Stamp?"

Anonymous 11:06 AM  

That's pretty attenutated. Hone doesnt mean to narrow, but to sharpen. How are you getting closer to a destination--home--by sharpening?

thfenn 11:09 AM  

Ghandi got the Best Picture 1982 Oscar, so there's that wrinkle. So many great 1982 movies. My favorites were Sophie's Choice, Diner, Year of Living Dangerously, The Verdict, Missing, Blade Runner, and World According to Garp. Lots to watch for OFL.

Hand up for HOnESIN, and atALL. STEADS for "places" got a COO from me. Fun Thursday, didn't mind it being easy at all.

Anonymous 11:09 AM  
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Whatsername 11:10 AM  

@bigsteve (10:46) I wouldn’t say my days of the week are defined by the difficulty of the crossword puzzle. However it is definitely an accurate statement to say the difficulty of the crossword puzzle is defined by the day of the week. IMO and the opinion of numerous others, this puzzle did not rise to the expected standard of difficulty for a Thursday. Therefore it’s a perfectly legitimate point of discussion in this particular segment of the horizon.

Whatsername 11:12 AM  

FWIW, I say HOMES IN. I think it has something to do with pigeons.

Joseph Michael 11:19 AM  

Smart and enjoyable Tuesday puzzle which I completed without the slightest IDEA of what the theme had been. When solving, it never occurs to me that the theme might lie in the clues instead of the grid. So there was at least a little trickery in that.

The only part of the grid that gave me any resistance was the NW, mainly because I was sure that 1A was IPHONE and that 1D was ISLE.

I am constantly amazed by how my iPhone knows how many steps I’ve taken at any given time during the day. (Doesn’t Siri have anything better to do?) This discovery led to my addiction to racking up a certain number of steps daily. The addiction was fed by the other discovery that the need to get at least 10,000 steps a day is a myth and that the more doable 7,000 steps a day provides the same health benefits.

With 30D, it’s time to add another reference book to the shelf: the Oxford Elsa Dictionary. It will sit beside the Oxford Eel Dictionary and Oreo English Dictionary.

Meanwhile I keep trying not to see ONAN lurking in the NE corner. Take out an O in the row below him and THE VICE becomes a reminder of his presence.

pmdm 11:28 AM  

OK, the puzzle was easier than a normal Thursday puzzle. The point seems to me to be this: puzzles do not have an absolute hardness level to comply with, this just have to increase in difficulty as the week progresses. As such, I take exception to a lot a the criticism posted here, but I am sympathetic to the reasons for the postings. I would enjoy a puzzle like today's earlier in he week, but I did enjoy it as i solved it today and there rate it as a thumbs up.

Three of the four theme answers definitely derive from PPP. All four are proper nouns. Surprised Z did not comment about that.

JD 11:30 AM  

@Frantic, Yes, maybe, I'm not sure. Tuesday. Not a yucky Monday, hump day, Friday eve, Friday, or the weekend. Just delightfully bland Tuesday, occasionally disorienting when reality heads its ugly rear.

@Z 10:44, now I'm confused (but see immediately above).

jb129 11:33 AM  

Fun puzzle - but way too easy for a Thursday.

sixtyni yogini 11:56 AM  

Yes, what 🦖 said.

Easy, and a good idea! 👍🏽

And another idea I like: watching every movie that came out in a year.

Hooray for Mac and Caine! 🤗🤗. Another idea: If I were to create a crossword 🧩 I’d make the theme either FLeetwood Mac songs or Michael Caine movies.


They're not honing pigeons 12:08 PM  

From Professor Paul Brians's site, Common Errors in English Usage:

You home in on a target (the center of the target is “home”). “Honing” has to do with sharpening knives, not aim.

egsforbreakfast 12:11 PM  

Alternate clues:

10D. Surface that Bugs Bunny skates on.
39A. Failure to touch the plate at the end of a four bagger
41D Pa’s query to the kids on finding an empty biscuit plate and a pile of crumbs in his wife’s lap.
59D. Shaun Cassidy assertion to Fleetwood Mac


I posted this very late yesterday, but almost no one posted later, so I’ll repeat it cause I think it’s cute:

There was a young lady named Myrtle
Who feared that she might be infertile
But it turned out instead
That while lying in bed
She paid all her attention to WORDLE

Good puzzle today, Howard Barkin. Thanks.

Unknown 12:14 PM  

And just when I was admiring a Wordle-free blog, @Tim Carey pops up. . . .

Great puz, well executed, admirable fill . . . .
At some point, a particular Thursday will inherit the crown of "Easiest Thursday Ever." It's the law of averages.
Perhaps that day is today. Noting to complain about; simply to be noted.
Perhaps celebrated by some.

Anonymous 12:26 PM  

Of course they're not honing pigeons. And the argumnet bening advanced--and appaluded-- that "Hone in on meant to get down to the finer points of something: misunderstands the situation entirely. Hone means to sharpen and it's easy to make the case that sharpening can be legitimately used to mean refine . But honing, or shepening or even refining is done to something. It is action applied to a goal to attain and end or goal, it is not the goal or end in and of itself.
For example, one can hone his sense of direction the better to home in on the Army's HQ. But honing isnt the goal--getting to the place the headquraters --or home-- is the goal.

old timer 12:27 PM  

Of course the proper present for Jeremiah H in LMS's class would have to be toy bullfrog. (And very glad to see you back, my Muse).

After two days of puzzles that were surprisingly hard and slow, I was actually glad to see one that was Easy Peasy Lemon Squeezy. It would not surprise me at all to see a rebus tomorrow that WS rated as too damned hard for a Thursday.

Frantic Sloth 12:31 PM  

@Whatsername 1112am Yes, but doesn't everything have something to do with pigeons? 😉

@JD 1130am 🤣 "Heads its ugly rear." The imagery. Can you hear me now?

Smith 12:31 PM  

Super easy. Sigh. Hoping for more from a Thursday.

Definitely HOMESIN.

Got the theme at FLEETWOODMAC. Never seen THEVOICE but the final E made it clear it wasn't the view (never seen that either. When we downsized we ditched our landline and regular TV. Just streaming now. News on phone).

Anoa Bob 12:31 PM  

Am I the only one who thought this puzz was run on the wrong day of the week?

Here's a quote from the NYT crossword submission guide lines that might help us home in on the reason:

"What we could use more of: Thursday and Sunday puzzles that don’t involve a rebus." [emphasis mine]

And by rebus, I think they mean a puzzle with multiple letters in single grid squares. (Which really should be called a litterae puzzle, don't yous think?)

I always appreciate scrabbly fill like 17A JEKYLL but needing IMED and TPKE crossings to get it done kind of dulls its sheen a tad.

Masked and Anonymous 12:39 PM  

Better DADJOKE clue, at least for this puztheme: {DJ humor?}.
Theme didn't put up a lotta fight, for a ThursPuz one at our house. Luved the FLEETWOODMAC clue, tho. The Shortzmeister must be runnin out of real feisty theme mcguffins.

Also thoroughly enjoyed the symmetric(al) MOHA- & MAHO- longball Down entries.

TPKE. har

Scrabbly puz, but not quite PG-rated [PanGram].

staff weeject pick: OOO. No doubt splatzed into that lil word-alcove there in order to save ADBIZ.

Thanx for the fun, Mr. Barkin dude. Good job.

Masked & Anonymo3Us


JD 12:45 PM  

@Frantic, Woof 😀

Anonymous 12:50 PM  

It is difficult to believe that some individuals who post here simply don't grasp the concept (fact actually, it's more than a concept) that words can have more than one meaning.


sharpen (a blade).
"he was carefully honing the curved blade"

refine or perfect (something) over a period of time.
"she has taken numerous workshops to hone her skills over the years"

To all those who are adamant that HONE means sharpen, well not always.

mathgent 12:53 PM  

My favorite comments this morning.

kitshef (7:12)
Trey (7:47)
Mike Herlihy (7:49)
egsforbreakfast (12:11)

Canis Nebula 12:57 PM  

I found NACL to be very "green paint" -- sure, sodium chloride dissolves in water, but so does a lot of other things.

NY Composer 1:08 PM  

Enjoyable Tuesday romp

Zed 1:13 PM  

@pmdm - Sorry to disappoint. As PPP themes go at least we have everything from the 60's to today (UNCLE SAM being a 60's image to me although it is quite a bit older thus increasing the range) and not all from one narrow area. We have seen worse and I thought this was a perfectly cromulent Tuesday puzzle.

As @pmdm pointed out, the NYTX standard is for difficulty to increase as the week progresses, except Sundays are roughly Thursday level of difficulty. Someone once asserted that Sundays get harder through a month but I've never much bothered to verify.

@old timer - Obviously.

@Frantic Sloth - Okay. You win.

okanaganer 1:16 PM  

Lately I'm usually happy if there aren't too many names. Today, despite the name theme, I was happy! JEKYLL, PICASSO, LISA, TURK... that's about it, and none I didn't know!

[Spelling Bee yd pg -4 ouch! Tough one; never heard of these words.]

Wanderlust 1:43 PM  

I assumed that since it was Thursday, it couldn’t just be THE VOICE or FLEETWOOD MAC as the answers started to make themselves clear, so I didn’t fill in the missing letters because I just knew there would be a trick. Didn’t get the “trick” until I got to MICHAEL CAINE. That delay didn’t stop me from almost posting my fastest Thursday ever.

I was obsessed with FLEETWOOD MAC when I was in middle school in the late ‘70s. I still think their drama is unmatched. What other band can claim four members who are singing and playing on songs written by their ex about how horrible they are? In the clip Rex posted, Stevie Nicks is singing backup about how “shackin’ up” is all she wants to do. Watch her sing “Silver Spring,” her response to Lindsey Buckingham’s “Go Your Own Way” — the way she glares daggers at him as she sings “I’ll follow you down ‘til the sound of my voice will haunt you.” Christine McVie wrote “You Make Loving Fun” about the band’s lighting director, whom she was shagging after breaking up with John. She told the boys in the band that it was about her dog to try to keep the peace. (Stevie knew the truth.) It’s amazing they kept getting back together until they kicked Lindsey out recently - but who knows if that will last.

Nigel Pottle 1:52 PM  

My fastest Thursday ever, almost twice as fast as my average. About my average for a Tuesday. I was disappointed. The trick was of no consequence. Did a little checking of Jekyll and Hyde. Bet most of you didn’t know that RLS explained that the name was pronounced Jee-kill. And Dr. Jekyll did have an evil repressed side - he took the serum to let that side come out, so he is not innocent.

Krytykal 1:53 PM  

Love Deathtrap. The play and the movie. And if you're only halfway in, you haven't even started...

A 2:10 PM  

@LMS is once again responsible for broadening my knowledge. I wondered about that “face-plant of a color” puce. Looked it up and guess what? It’s French for flea. Supposedly made popular by Marie Antoinette, the color was named by Louis XVI, who joked that her new gown was the color of a flea. Variations of puce, called fleas belly, fleas back and fleas thigh, became all the rage. Apparently the fashion of wearing fur around the neck was also flea-related. They would be attracted to the fur and more easily dispatched.

Speaking of furry friends, the pets chez A are happy when the puzzle is easy ‘cause they get fed sooner.

Hand up for atALL, and for thinking HOnES. But poor HOrNS IN got left out.

My wannabe EGGOs are Buckwheat Wildberry, by Nature’s Path. So good. Vegan and gluten free, too, for those who observe.

@Liveprof, thanks for the funnies - I miss Ray and Tom.

@JD 11:30, now see what you’ve done! Woof, indeed. @Frantic, we can only hope it didn’t 36D any further.

@Joe D from yesterday, yes, I almost went with Dolly, But I was torn between her and another birthday singer, so that’s why I chose my niece’s video.

Today’s birthday composer is a bona fide American musical legend. Walter Piston (1894-1976) studied with Nadia Boulanger, Paul Dukas and George Enescu, taught at Harvard for 3 decades, and literally wrote the book (four of them) on music theory. His students include Bernstein, Leroy Anderson, Elliott Carter and Daniel Pinkham. Carter is quoted as saying that Piston’s music “reveals.... a fluid and persuasive flexibility in its emotional range and authenticity.” This selection utilizes the ability of the xword-friendly oboe to play long, plaintive phrases: Sarabande, from Suite Oboe and Piano

bertoray 2:28 PM  

As a fifth grader, I took my novelty shop sham poo to class for fits and giggles. Mr. Montgomery confiscated it, but promply returned it at the next parent-teacher meeting reminiscent of a Leave it to Beaver scene.

Anonymous 2:33 PM  

Just an update on that boring old football business...

More than 102 million total viewers tuned in for Super Wild Card Weekend to watch games from Saturday through Monday. The six games averaged 30.5 million viewers, which represented a 21 percent increase from last season.

This comes after Joe Reedy of the Associated Press reported the 272 regular-season games averaged 17.1 million viewers, which was a 10 percent increase from last season. What's more, Nielsen information revealed that 91 of the top 100 telecasts during the season were NFL games.

That the viewing numbers were so high is notable because four of the six games ended with final deficits of 16 or more points, with three of them ending with final deficits of more than 20 points.

Seems to me the NFL has honed their product to the point where
they're homing in on a clean sweep of the top 100 most-watched shows for an entire year. Not too shabby.

Nancy 2:34 PM  

@egs (12:11) -- Love your re-parsed clues! TOON ICE is inspired. It's clear to me that you might have a future as a crossword constructor should you want one. Come up with a theme and then find yourself a collaborator. I'm betting on you.

It's obvious to me why there are [almost] no Wordles posted today. No one, except for that one person, can finish it today. Certainly I can't; I gave up hours ago.

JC66 2:47 PM  


Just for you. 😂

Wordle 215 4/6*


sharonak 2:48 PM  

egsforbreakfast 12:11 Loved your alternate clues.
Thanks for the chuckles

bocamp 2:56 PM  

Love all kinds of PEAS, including raw green PEAS, but not boiled or included in samosas, tuna fish casseroles, fried rice, etc., etc..

One more thing learned today:


"Home in is the more common phrase for figuratively or literally "finding and moving directly towards something." Home can be verb, referring to "finding one's way to a destination" such as "homing pigeons" and "homing missiles" do. In the same sense one can "home in on the answer" for example. Hone in is also acceptable but far less common, and comes from the meaning of "hone" referring to sharpening or making more acute." (M-W)
Saying goodbye to the QB; I 🐝 missing you 😔. Revised goal: pg within 30:00; (td: 8:17) / Wordle: 4

Peace ~ Compassion ~ Tolerance ~ Kindness to all 🕊

A 2:57 PM  

Well, OK:
Wordle 215 3/6


@Nancy, @Z also told us he guessed it in three, he just didn't share the blocks.

egsforbreakfast 3:03 PM  

Thanks @Nancy. I’m working on something right now. BTW, I got WORDLE in 4 today.

Frantic Sloth 3:24 PM  

@A 210pm Interesting stuff on the flea/puce connection. Hard to imagine any flea with a thigh or a belly, but I can imagine the fur around the neck as a flea collar.

@Z 113pm What do I win? What do I win?! [and please - no GC to your P&T pub -or- a free ride on the wooden rollercoaster]

Oh, hell. Why not?

Wordle 215 4/6


Anonymous 3:36 PM  

Your best is Poltergiest? Yeah. You've got a ways to go. Like, to name a small sample... The Thing, Bladerunner, Koyaanisqatsi, Tron, Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid, Tootsie, 48 Hrs., The Year of Living Dangerously, Fitzcarraldo, Class of 1984, Eating Raoul, The Wall, Missing, Star Trek II, The Verdict, and everybody's all time favorite Scott Baio movie, Zapped!

On the other hand, if you're deeming Poltergeist a better film than Das Boot, there may be no hope. Though that bit with the clown and the tree and the meat and the guy peeling his own face off...

Anywau. One the great years for film.

burtonkd 3:48 PM  

Who can say no to Nancy?

Wordle 215 4/6


Zed 4:08 PM  

@Nancy - I had another lucky first guess. Also, the two vowels I eliminated made the third guess easier. Another hint in upside down text below if you’re really stuck. Obviously a major spoiler so don’t look if you don’t want to know. @everyone, I was going to eschew posting my Wordle Grid unless the fun police showed up. Oh well, maybe tomorrow.

Wordle 215 3/6*


ǝɔᴉʍʇ ɹɐǝddɐ sǝɯᴉʇǝɯos sɹǝʇʇǝl ʇɔǝɹɹoɔ

@Frantic Sloth - The internet. Now what are you going to do with it.

@Anon 2:33 - Popular = Not Boring? So the least boring sport is Association Football. Okay then, I’ll accept that. Also, NCIS is the best drama ever, Budweiser is the best beer ever, and if you want a great hamburger go to McDonalds.

okanaganer 4:12 PM  

@bocamp; hope you're not giving up on SB. Me: td 0 after yd -4! I may try timing myself to pg just to see.

Penna Resident 4:16 PM  

regarding the wordle spoilers, after getting PROXY it became obvious that seeing the grid can provide a huge amount of information:
10 common letters gone after 2 guesses would definitely cause a person to use a different start and look for high value scrabble words. this was my only 5 so far.

got ydays in 2 but probably never will again because ive decided to use 5 new letters on 2. it worked well today.

Frantic Sloth 4:23 PM  

@Z 408pm Nothing good, I can tell you that! 😉

Peter P 5:26 PM  

@Canis Nebula - I thought that clue was fine. The hint was in H20. While lots of things dissolve in water, that gives you the hint that the answer is going to be a chemical formula of some sort. With four letters, the only common one I expect to see in a crossword I could think of is NaCl. That was a "gimme" clue for me.

Tim Carey 5:58 PM  

Wordle 215 3/6


Zed 6:26 PM  

@Peter P and @Canis Nebula - I agree with both of you. I translated that clue into “four letter chemical symbol common to crosswords” while thinking the right answer is “just about everything.” Strong “city with a marina” vibe to that clue.

Matt 7:11 PM  

Wow... Rex even more complimentary than Jeff, and most commenters agree...
ONAN partial (why not [Guy who angered God by spilling his seed upon the ground"])
OFALL partial, which does not = "EVER", "OF ALL TIME" = "EVER", "OF ALL" means, well, "of all" ("best of all" = "better than all the others")
So many unnecessary ?s ([Present opener?], [Collectible stamp?]... plus 2 of the 4 theme clues)
Overall "so what" theme that does not elevate solve in any way, especially since the puz was so easy
My verdict: super easy, but very disappointing Thursday (sorry Howard)

Anonymous 7:44 PM  

Mods spiked a post.
No one is saying McDonalds has the best burger. Or that Bud has the best beer.
If only the issue at hand were addressed, without subterfuge, sneering or sarcasm…

Anonymous 8:04 PM  

Went easy and finished with the 'you have at least one square wrong' message. After reviewing intently I gave up and hit the 'Check'. I had BADJOKE for groaner instead of DADJOKE, not reading the clue for ADBIZ and thinking that ABBIZ was just a foreign word I hadn't heard of!

First week of Wordle. Learned a rule I didn't realize until today:

Wordle 215 3/6


SFR 9:03 PM  

... or The Muppets Christmas Carol

Barbara S. 9:20 PM  

OK, no time, liked puzzle, missed Thursday trickery, thought Hyde clue was wrong, have never known whether it was HOMES IN or HOnES IN and lacked the curiosity to look it up, wondered if "xxx" is equally rare in tic-tac-toe as OOO, love Michael Caine, saw Fitzcarraldo in 1982 when they showed the reels out of order thus making a dense film even denser, tickled that puzzle started with FITBIT (which I've worn on my waistband every day for 8 years) and ended with STEADS (which, without the final S, is my first word in Wordle), got Wordle in 4 today, loved @egs' Wordle limerick, and got 0 in SB after two days of -4. [Big inhale] That's it -- signing off.

Nancy 9:31 PM  

@kdburton, upon my request, sent me today's Wordle answer and I cry "FOUL!!!!" In a few days when I'm not spoiling it for anyone, I'll tell you why in my case the prompts I was given were unfair. That's why I couldn't get it -- and it wasn't my fault. By Saturday I can reveal the problem on the blog -- right Mods?

albatross shell 9:43 PM  

I preferred the 72 movie Sleuth to the 82 movie Deathtrap.
Also preferred The Ipcress File to Get Carter. Both are good.
My favorite suitable for children Caine movie is Secondhand Lions. Perfect for adults too.
His best movie ever was The Man Who Would Be King.
His movie most relevant to todays puzzle: Jekyll and Hyde. Caine in both roles of course. I haven't seen it since its release but do not bother if my memory is trustworthy. Probably much better Caine movies that you have not seen. It is quite a list.
His first roll was in 1946.
Then none until 1956. Mostly uncredited rolls for another 7 years.

I had a tough time with the puzzle. Fell into the matiSSe-mOpeS trap. It did not occur to me that THEVOICE UNCLESAM were of a theme. Once I broke through to PICASSO-POUTS, everywhere I was stuck filled in at Wednesday or easier speed. Got MICHAELCAINE and quickly FLEETWOODMAC and then got that the initials were the theme as I was typing in MAC. So if you are dumb like me it was a nice aha! or maybe oh damn!.

I was fighting SMALLER being correct and was wondering what Spanish for male was. Momma said.

KiLL is HYDE-ing in JEKYLL. I sure you all know but I thought someone should mention.
I trust you saw my post yesterday.

Anonymous 10:00 PM  

More for early Caine

Harry Palmer

albatross shell 10:22 PM  

Well I now see @Sloth and @Teresa reference the Hyde stuff for a specific point.

TokyoRacer 12:12 AM  

Late comment but if you see it: you are forgetting the most excellent movie The Man Who Would Be King.

Joel Rosenberg 4:11 PM  

For your 1982 movie project, let me recommend what is for me the greatest sci-fi film of all time: Ridley Scott's "Blade Runner." Not the "director's cut" edition(s) or any nonsense like that, though I'm afraid that's all you'll find these days. I saw it on a snowy Boston eve, in Brookline's Coolidge Corner cinema, and emerged in a cloud of euphoria. The film's blend of late 20th-c. high-tech style and 1940s L.A. film-noir ambience struck just the right note. The year in which the story purportedly transpires, 2019, is 101 years short of the year in which one of the first great android tales, Paul Wegener's "Der Golem: wie er in die Welt kam" (The Golem: How He Came into the World) emerged. The two films are worthy companion pieces. One of my favorite characters was the great Edward James Olmos (later of "Miami Vice" fame, "Stand and Deliver," et al.) as Gaff, the police colleague of protagonist Dekkard (Harrison Ford), whose fondness for origami and prophetic insight haunts the story throughout. I'm sure you've probably already seen "Blade Runner" sometime in your life, but hey, it's always worth another look. I must have watched and re-watched it a couple dozen times on home video.

Sandra Davis 10:10 AM  

My Name is Victoria Treasure, I'm from USA Los Angeles California, I never thought I will smile again, My husband left me with two kidMy boyfriend called me and said he was tired of our relationship and needs a breakup, he started avoiding me, His new attitude was killing me slowly so I did research on the internet seeking help. I saw testimonies of how dr IYASE helped reunite couples with his spell and how he gave lottery winning numbers to people and helped them win a lottery so I immediately sent him a text: +2347057052206 seeking help. He responded. He promised to help me get my boyfriend back with his spell, I did as he instructed and he casted the spell. It was like a dream because 16 hours after the spell was casted my boyfriend came back begging me on his knees to forgive and accept him back. I am so excited and now I believe DR IYASE is a God on Earth. Are you heart broken? Do you need help to win a lottery ? Contact DR IYASE via Call/text/whatsapp: +2347057052206 // or email:

Sandra Davis 10:11 AM  

My Name is Victoria Treasure, I'm from USA Los Angeles California, I never thought I will smile again, My husband left me with two kidMy boyfriend called me and said he was tired of our relationship and needs a breakup, he started avoiding me, His new attitude was killing me slowly so I did research on the internet seeking help. I saw testimonies of how dr IYASE helped reunite couples with his spell and how he gave lottery winning numbers to people and helped them win a lottery so I immediately sent him a text: +2347057052206 seeking help. He responded. He promised to help me get my boyfriend back with his spell, I did as he instructed and he casted the spell. It was like a dream because 16 hours after the spell was casted my boyfriend came back begging me on his knees to forgive and accept him back. I am so excited and now I believe DR IYASE is a God on Earth. Are you heart broken? Do you need help to win a lottery ? Contact DR IYASE via Call/text/whatsapp: +2347057052206 // or email:

thefogman 10:21 AM  

Rally enjoyable. But I don’t get why OOO is a “rare” tic-tac-toe win any more (or less) than XXX. The NW corner could have used a little TLC. IMED and TPKE are the low-quality glue holding it all together.

PS - To D,LIW: Re: B&B

spacecraft 10:43 AM  

Aw c'mon, Moderator: One spellcaster post is too many, but to repeat it? Can we not PLEASE filter out this junk? And it's been the SAME ONE for a week now. Jeez!

To the puz: Easiest Thursday in my memory. OFF is right; I'd have liked it ONAN (yuck!) earlier day. Any puzzle that contains FLEETWOODMAC, and thus my secret love DOD Stevie Nicks, is thumbs-up by me. Would be a Tuesday birdie--so why punish it for bad timing? Birdie.

Burma Shave 12:25 PM  


KNELT TOO pray we should UNITE.


Diana, LIW 1:21 PM  

I think I may have mentioned this before, but it bears repeating. Put the letters of your answers in the correct squares. Being one square off, and not checking, will lead to mayhem. And if you don't have Allstate covering your grid, well, you're out of lluck.

So...I was out of luck today. Har har.

OTOH - OFALL will never, ever, be ever in my book. Of all the answers in the world, this one had to drop into my puzzle. You get the GIST.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

thefogman 3:29 PM  

Typo. Make that Really not Rally.

leftcoaster 7:38 PM  

So there is a theme of some sort here, though TV, FM, MC, US don’t do much for it. But I’ve been a fan of FLEETWOODMAC and liked MICHAEL CAINE, too. They’ve definitely been quality performers IMO.

Didn’t get out of the NW without lookups, particularly the spelling of Dr. JEKYLL. Liked the FIJI-JAVA and ONT-NY pairings as the far and the near of tourism (if that makes sense).

Have always liked LISA, too.

leftcoaster 7:44 PM  

Hmm. I think my comment disappeared. (I’ll settle for LISA, the child genius.)

Leah Murdoch-Gerics 5:47 AM  
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