Old world bird with distinctive ear tufts / SAT 1-15-22 / Crashing an online meeting / Catchphrase of Winnie-the-Pooh / What God is per an Ariana Grande hit / Spot for a bus stop in Bristol / Locale 60 miles south of the California/Oregon border / Creator of first pumped-up athletic shoe / Popular typeface similar to bauhaus / Boxy delivery vehicles of old / Dalmatian mascot of the National Fire Protection Association / 2010s fansite craze whose members joined Hogwarts houses

Saturday, January 15, 2022

Constructor: Sam Ezersky

Relative difficulty: Medium to Easy-Medium (depending on your knowledge of American football)

THEME: none 

Word of the Day: Patrick MAHOMES (2D: Youngest-ever QB to be named Super Bowl M.V.P. (2020)) —

Patrick Lavon Mahomes II (born September 17, 1995) is an American football quarterback for the Kansas City Chiefs of the National Football League (NFL). He initially played college football and college baseball at Texas Tech University. Following his sophomore year, he quit baseball to focus solely on football. In his junior year, he led all NCAA Division I FBS players in multiple categories including passing yards (5,052) and total touchdowns (53). He was selected 10th overall by the Kansas City Chiefs in the 2017 NFL Draft.

Mahomes spent his rookie season as the backup to Alex Smith. He was named the starter in 2018 after the Chiefs traded Smith to the Washington Redskins. That season, Mahomes threw for 5,097 yards, 50 touchdowns, and 12 interceptions. He became the only quarterback in history to throw for over 5,000 yards in a single season in both college and in the NFL. He joined Peyton Manning as the only players in NFL history to throw 50 touchdown passes and 5,000 yards in a single season For his performance in his first season as starter, he was named to the Pro Bowl, named First Team All-Pro, and won the NFL Offensive Player of the Year and NFL Most Valuable Player awards. Mahomes was one of four African-American quarterbacks to win the AP MVP award.

During the 2019–20 playoffs, Mahomes led the Chiefs to Super Bowl LIV, their first Super Bowl appearance in 50 years, where they defeated the San Francisco 49ers. Mahomes was awarded the Super Bowl Most Valuable Player for his performance, the second African-American quarterback and youngest overall to do so. (wikipedia)

• • •

. Happy Newish Year! 2022! I hope you are holding up during these cold, dark days. It's early January, which means it's time for my annual week-long pitch for financial contributions to the blog. Every year I ask regular readers to consider what the blog is worth to them on an annual basis and give accordingly. 

2021 was an important year for me, as my blog (this blog, the one you are reading right now) turned 15 years old! [noisemaker sounds!!!!]. That's a lot of years old. For a blog, anyway. 15 is also a pretty important crossword-related anniversary—maybe the only important crossword-related anniversary. The standard US crossword grid is 15x15, and now Rex Parker is also 15! Rex Parker, spanning the grid to give you the constant variety of crossword commentary: the thrill of victory, and the agony of defeat (dum dum dum DUM!) The human drama of ... OK now I'm just channeling Jim McKay from the '70s-era introduction to "Wide World of Sports," but I do hope this blog has provided some insight, some entertainment, some commiseration, some solace, some sense of regularity during what are obviously pretty tumultuous and often lonely times. I hope it has enhanced your solving pleasure, giving you something to look forward to even (especially?) when the puzzle lets you down, and someone to celebrate with when the puzzle is wonderful. If it's also given you someone to shout at in disagreement, that's OK too.

A lot of labor goes into producing this blog every day (Every. Day.) and the hours are, let's say, less than ideal (I'm either solving and writing at night, after 10pm, or in the morning, before 6am). Most days, I really do love the writing, but it is work, and once a year (right now!) I acknowledge that fact. As I've said before, I have no interest in "monetizing" the blog beyond a simple, direct contribution request once a year. No ads, no gimmicks. Just here for you, every day, rain or shine, whether you like it or, perhaps, on occasion, not :) It's just me and my laptop and some free blogging software and, you know, a lot of rage, but hopefully there's illumination and levity along the way. I do genuinely love this gig, and whether you're an everyday reader or a Sunday-only reader or a flat-out hatereader, I appreciate you more than you'll ever know.

How much should you give? Whatever you think the blog is worth to you on a yearly basis. Whatever that amount is is fantastic. Some people refuse to pay for what they can get for free. Others just don't have money to spare. All are welcome to read the blog—the site will always be open and free. But if you are able to express your appreciation monetarily, here are two options. First, a Paypal button (which you can also find in the blog sidebar):

Second, a mailing address (checks should be made out to "Rex Parker"):

Rex Parker c/o Michael Sharp
54 Matthews St
Binghamton, NY 13905

I'll throw my Venmo handle in here too, just in case that's your preferred way of moving money around; it's @MichaelDavidSharp (the last four digits of my phone are 4878, in case Venmo asks you, which I guess it does sometimes, when it's not trying to push crypto on you, what the hell?!)

All Paypal contributions will be gratefully acknowledged by email. All snail mail contributions will be gratefully acknowledged with hand-written postcards. I. Love. Snail Mail. I love seeing your gorgeous handwriting and then sending you my awful handwriting. It's all so wonderful. Last year's thank-you postcards featured various portraits of my cat, Alfie, designed by artist Ella Egan, a.k.a. my daughter. They were such a hit that I asked Ella to design this year's thank-you postcard as well, this time featuring both my cats. And this is the result. Behold this year's thank-you card: "Alfie and Olive: Exploring the Grid":
We went back and forth on whether she should add more black squares to make the grid look more plausibly fillable (that's a Lot of white space), but in the end we decided not to crowd the jumping (or hanging?) Olive with more black squares, and instead just to leave the card as is, with the idea that the cats are exploring a grid that is ... under construction. Anyway, this card is personally meaningful to me, and also, I believe, objectively lovely. I can't wait to share it with snail-mailers (and oh, what the hell, if you are a PayPal / Venmo donor and you want one too, just say so in the message). Please note: I don't keep a "mailing list" and don't share my contributor info with anyone. And if you give by snail mail and (for some reason) don't want a thank-you card, just indicate "NO CARD."  Again, as ever, I'm so grateful for your readership and support. Now on to today's puzzle...

• • •

I'll start with the place where I wound things up, which is the one part of this puzzle I really loved: the SE corner. I had THE NORM and ANTHEM in place, which put two "M"s at the front of 61A: Date format on digital forms (MM/DD/YYYY), and that made the answer soooooo much easier to get than it might have been otherwise. I have no idea if the unusual letter string in that answer flummoxed people or not. Maybe it was easy for everyone. I just know I felt lucky to have the "MM" up front. I did write in YEAR instead of YYYY at first, but that was easily fixed. I thought that answer was terribly clever. Tricky but fair. And then that whole corner opened up, and everything about it really shined. There's an old-fashioned vibe that is adorable rather than musty. "OH, BOTHER!" evoked childhood memories of my mother reading Milne to me (over and over and over, mostly the verse but sometimes the Pooh stories as well). And then you've got old-fashioned terms like NATTY (I think I learned that word from "Peanuts," weirdly) and MAKES HAY—I know the latter answer primarily from the expression "to make hay while the sun shines," which I think is a kind of folksy updated "Gather ye rosebuds..." Childhood memories continued with MOUNT SHASTA, which we used to drive past every summer on our annual trip from Fresno to visit relatives in Oregon and Washington. We drank SHASTA soda too, and played canasta and spit-in-the-ocean in the back of our red-orange conversion van. Ah to be 12 in 1982 California again. Good times!! (nostalgia is a hell of a drug). The throwback fill in the SE is tempered by the slangy modern "REAL TALK ...". It's weird that this corner features IT'S BAD, because it's not.

My feelings about the SE corner are basically rotationally symmetrical with those evoked by the NW corner, in that they are upside-down and backward. It's not a bad corner, in retrospect, not really, but my experiences with ZOOM-BOMBING make me inclined not to enjoy it as a crossword answer (19A: Crashing an online meeting). It sounds cute, but it was often used in really awful, disruptive, frequently racist ways all over the country, as trolls of various kinds took advantage of weaknesses in the system and user inexperience with the medium to f up what was already a pretty f'd up situation (pandemic, full lockdown). I DO YOGA so I didn't mind DO YOGA too much ... yeah, it's rubbing me some weird way, but I can't figure out why, so I'll let that be. A word about A WOMAN, though. I get that this puzzle is desperately in need of A WOMAN, but you can do better than what is basically A PARTIAL. All this answer did was highlight how incredibly bro-ey and devoid of women this grid is. I mean, *two* Super Bowl clues? You already had MAHOMES, did you have to go back to the NFL for BUC? Hmm, maybe you did. You probably had to stay in the sports realm, anyway. The Pittsburgh Pirates (baseball) are sometimes referred to (familiarly) as the BUCs. Anyway, A WOMAN (a single woman, a partial answer) stands more as an indictment than a marquee answer. It's the exception that highlights the rule: A WOMAN's place is (ironically) not in this puzzle. Dwarfs and SMURFS, but no human women. OK. 

  • 1D: Gets stuck, as an engine (SEIZES) — I wrote in ---S UP (I was probably thinking of "SEIZES up," weirdly enough). I then wrote in PRO for 26A: All ___ (SET). So yeah, not a great start.
  • 44D: Country song (ANTHEM) — I don't really get the logic of "?" vs. no "?" on a clue like this. I have definitely seen this exact clue for ANTHEM before, but typically with a "?" (and as I write "typically," I realized I have seen this exact clue for ANTHEM a lot). Here, though, no "?" Some of the logic appears to be "well, it's literal enough not to need a question mark," and some of it seems to be "it's Saturday, we don't need no stinking question marks!" The point is that it's not always obvious when a clue calls for a "?" and when it doesn't. Typically, a "?" clue has some wordplay afoot, but you can have wordplay without the "?" if the clue is literal enough (as it is, I suppose, in this case).
  • 9D: Eye-opening declaration? ("AMEN") — I went from hating to loving this one, once I figured out the context (I imagined the act of saying grace before a meal, but I suppose "AMEN" could come at the end of any prayer during which one conventionally closes one's eyes)
  • 27D: 2010s fansite craze whose members joined Hogwarts houses (POTTERMORE) — ugh, this left several kinds of awful tastes in my mouth. Bygone fansite crazes ... already just a sad category. I have no memory of POTTERMORE. I had POTTER-ORE and sincerely thought it was POTTERCORE (like normcore or dadcore or cottagecore or mumblecore, where "-core" refers to a particular kind of aesthetic in music or fashion or whatever). I figure if you are "joining Hogwarts houses," you are engaged in some kind of weird dress-up games, virtual or otherwise, so POTTERCORE seemed apt. But mainly I hate this answer because JK Rowling has tragically and bafflingly chosen to spend her later years demonizing and dehumanizing trans people, trans women in particular, so there really aren't enough ways for me to tell her and her entire universe to **** off.
  • 10D: One jotting down a few notes? (SONGWRITER) — had -GWRITER, wrote in BLOG WRITER. Then I watched myself gavotte. :)
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Joaquin 6:29 AM  

Cool puzzle, even though I’d never heard of POTTERMORE. Frankly, I prefer my xwords to be POTTERless.

(Note to Whatsername: With any luck, next time the clue for 2D will add the word “twice”.

Shirley F 7:16 AM  

It's pretty sexist to categorize a puzzle with two NFL references as "incredibly bro-ey." It's been well known for years now that a large percentage of NFL fans are female. For example, a 2019 poll of "avid" fans found that 38% were women.

I don't watch the NFL anymore because it's too heartbreaking to know that so many of those young men are going to end up with brain damage. But Patrick MAHOMES is pretty well known. That happened to be the first answer i got and saved me from a stalled (instead of seized) engine.

Also your link to the JK Rowling article meant to support the characterization of her -- she denounced the Scot policy of classifying rapists as women if the rapists claim they're women. How is that "demonizing and dehumanizing trans people"? Does it occur to you that the Scot policy of bending over backwards to be politically correct as currently defined might, in fact, be demonizing and dehumanizing female rape victims?

Do you also support the NCAA policy of allowing males who transitioned to females to compete as women in sports? Women spent decades fighting for equality in sports and now find themselves competing against athletes who were born male, transitioned as adults, and have the muscular and size advantages of men.

Lewis 7:19 AM  

You are Sam. You are Sam. Sam you are.

I like your puzzles in a bus
They make me work, they’re all A-plus
They always rise above the bar
I always love them, Sam you are

I always love them in the morn
I always love them eating corn
I always love them in the park
I always love them in the dark

I always love them in the ‘burb
I always love them at the KERB
I always love how they resist
I’ll always love your clue for WRIST

I love them listening to the ducks
I love them riding PANEL TRUCKS
I love them as I wash my hair
I love them in my SWIVEL CHAIR

I love them and I won’t recant
I love them straight up or ASLANT
I love them sitting with my kitty
I love how they are clean and witty

I’ll do them if the weather freezes
I’ll do them if my engine SEIZES
I will do them in the dorm
They always rise above THE NORM

Well Sam, I end this interlude
And Sam, here is my attitude
I’m greatly filled with gratitude
And this is not a platitude
You have the knack, the aptitude
Your grids are filled with pulchritude
They never have ineptitude
They never have decrepitude

They always rise above the bar
I always love them, Sam you are

Trey 7:24 AM  

Smooth sailing on this puzzle today. There were a few slow downs along the way. I am a fan of the Harry Potter books, movies, areas at Universal Studies, etc, but have never heard of POTTERMORE. Luckily the crosses helped. RE-OIL was hard to see, and I blame that mainly on the clue It is a reasonable clue, but somewhat of a stretch IMO. OIL could work just as well. There is no indication in the clue that you need to reapply the oil. EAGLE OWL was also new to me. I have never seen the word DICTU before, and my high school Latin is decades beyond use.

MMDDYYYY was easy for me as I started with the second M and the last 2 Ys, and thought of SKYY vodka. Then I thought there must be an error. Once I saw that my other answers were correct, I read the clue and it was obvious.

I thought this was a solid puzzle, but the only things that really stood out to me were SMACK DAB and MOO COW. I would have flipped this puzzle and yesterday's, as that one had a higher degree of difficulty for me (2+ minutes longer, and a lot more sweating along the way)

Leon 7:25 AM  

A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man:beginning.

Once upon a time and a very good time it was there was a moocow coming down along the road and this moocow that was coming down along the road met a nicens little boy named baby tuckoo. . . .

Trey 7:28 AM  

@Lewis 7:19 - I am mildly disturbed that you are solving the puzzle while eating corn. Eating in general, OK. Specifically eating corn sounds like you may have a problem. I am sure that someone on this blog can help you find the support you need to kick the habit. ;)

Lewis 7:33 AM  

Administrative note. I will be away for two-to-three weeks. An out-of-town family member is undergoing an intense medical treatment and needs much help. I will try to sneak in my Favorite Clues on the Mondays I’m gone, and if I can’t, I’ll post them in a batch when I return. I will read the comments every day, as I love the crossword family here, and I look forward to rejoining you!

Joaquin 7:34 AM  

Even though it's early, I declare, "@Lewis (7:19), FTW!"

bocamp 7:34 AM  

Thx Sam; this was a doozie; liked it a lot! :)


Thot SEIZES 'up', so left 1D empty. Wanted my KC QB (MAHOMES), but couldn't for the life of me remember his name. Had pro for SET so, basically, the NW was a bust.

Thot I was clever getting MOOmOo, but that was bad news for the NE.

Had REwet before RE OIL, so that messed up that area.

Finally got ERAS, KTS NEAP, TOTEM, ISLET and MAKES, which paved the way for MOUNT SHASTA.

The rest was just slow and steady progress to the finish line, ending with TWEETS.

My absolute fave kind of puz; providing a very worthy opponent, but knowing that fair crosses would lead to victory in the end.

Loved God is A WOMAN.

Relished every minute of the battle! :)
yd 0

Peace ~ Compassion ~ Tolerance ~ Kindness to all ๐Ÿ•Š

Son Volt 7:40 AM  

This one tested me more than Rex I guess. The grid was segmented enough that it didn’t feel like a Saturday - the 6 and 7 letter corner blocks end up being a little clunky. Fill seemed workmanlike - SWIVEL CHAIR, PANEL TRUCKS etc aren’t really killers. Agree with Rex on the ugliness of anything ZOOM related. I’ve always disliked the kid lit stuff in my puzzle no matter who the author is. DO YOGA is brutal fill.

Did like EAGLE OWL, MOUNT SHASTA and OH BOTHER - those and a few others saved it for me. Thought the date string in 61a was cool.

Listened to EC’s new record yesterday - I think he got a new organ for Christmas. Nothing like his Bacharach wannabe pop of recent years - it sounds This Years Model-like promising. However - if I’m tying him to this puzzle it would at 29a.

Overall an enjoyable Saturday solve. For more of a challenge try the weird double stacks in the Stumper today.

Trey 7:42 AM  

@Lewis 7:33 - Hope all goes well with the treatment, and we will look forward to your return and wonderful posts

kitshef 7:44 AM  

I was playing around with a couple of puzzle ideas yesterday. One involves mountains, and SHASTA is in it. The other is Pooh-related, and OH BOTHER was a seed. Coincidence? Or Will hacking into my laptop!

I know y’all are sick of hearing this, but again Saturday easier than Friday. Comically so this time.

Yeah, Rex's assumption that only men can be interested in football is disturbing and antiquated. Are women only supposed to like figure skating and gymnastics, while the men take in football and ice hockey??? Also, MOOCOWs are female.

MarthaCatherine 7:47 AM  

Best of luck to you and your family, Lewis.

Jtull 7:50 AM  

I’ve always been intrigued that the Italian word for cow is mucca. Sounds like MOOCOW.

Stephen Daedulus 7:51 AM  

Rex's comment on Friday, October 11, 2019, re: Andy Kravis' puzzle clue.

15A: Kidspeak animal mentioned in the first line of "A Portrait of the artist as a Young Man" (MOO COW) — the other English class, the AP Lit class, read this. We didn't. What did we read? Shakespeare, for sure, maybe Donne? I definitely read a sh*t-ton of Hardy for my final paper. Anyway, missed "Portrait of the Artist..." Still, this was a fun answer to uncover. (And still never read Joyce)

SouthsideJohnny 8:11 AM  

Ok, for starters - congratulations on getting MOO COW into your grid ! You took the dare and showed them !

I don’t think of apples as acidic - if you need some acid to cut through the fat or richness in a dish, well let’s just say that apple choice is usually not your first choice. I’ll defer to some of the bakers out there - how much sugar do you put in your apple pies (does it vary by variety ?). Are blueberries acidic - does anyone have any PH strips left from the puzzle a few weeks ago?

MIRABILE DICTU may be wonderful to say, but it kind of sucks to have to write it in a crossword grid - even allowing for the fact that the number of solvers who speak Latin goes up slightly on a Saturday (the percentage may even increase to the point where it doesn’t round to zero on a Saturday). Good thing the NYT has a self-imposed (if rarely enforced) common-usage constraint on foreign phrases to pay lip service to.

The use of typefaces, fonts, and other such nonsense in clues and entries has definitely worn out it’s welcome. Please no more FUTURA or any of its kindred spirits.

And finally a female mega-star has a hit single about a female deity (actually isn’t GOD like the deity-in-chief !) - yes, we have GOD as A WOMAN in today’s grid AND REX FOUND A WAY TO BITCH ABOUT IT ! Omg, that guy is just such a piece of work (but always entertaining - even if we are laughing at you, not with you . . . ).

longsufferingmetsfan 8:16 AM  

An enjoyable Saturday workout. Just wouldn't be a regular day in Rexville without the obligatory racist and sexist comments. Anyone else notice that the puzzle comments become more insightful and detailed during the January begathon?

TJS 8:29 AM  

Sam,Sam,Sam. What happened to you ?

Mikey from El Prado 8:30 AM  

I’m with Joaquin…. The less Harry Potter crap in the puzzle the better. None is almost too much. I read the first book, thought it terrible writing and inferior to so many children’s series that I’ve eschewed the rest and memory of the first.

I thought something was wrong in the SE, when I had two Ys in a row (but maybe start/end of two words), but then three! Something must be wrong. To Rex’s point, that was a great ending* to the puzzle.

*But, not my end of solving. That goes to the KERB/EARLEOWL cross. Almost a Natick.

All in all a fine puzzle,

mmorgan 8:32 AM  

Tough, challenging, fun. Great Saturday! Don’t know nothin’ about football but I was able to get everything through crosses. For some reason, I really enjoyed SMACK DAB, one of the last answers I got. More like this please!

Anonymous 8:32 AM  

There is one man named in the puzzle (MAHOMES), one WOMAN in the puzzle, one human being in the puzzle (SONGWRITER), one woman named in a clue (Ariana Grande), 7 dwarfs in a clue, the SMURFS in the puzzle, and 5(!) animals in the puzzle (EMUS, CLAMS, EAGLE OWL, MOOCOW, and SPARKY the Dalmatian). There's also BUC, which could be a man like Tom Brady or a woman like Lori Locust or Maral Javadifar, who in 2021 became the first women to win a Super Bowl as coaches; and there's REEBOK, which was named after an animal.

This puzzle is anything but bro-ey. It is the animal kingdom (minus us humans) that occupies the most real estate here, and one could perhaps argue that the Super Bowl clue gives women a place right alongside men.

Rex is just making S*&# up. His "bro-ey" accusation is nothing more than a projection of his feelings upon seeing the name of a constructor who is half his age and a member of the NYT crossword staff but otherwise a member of his own demographic. Hating a really bad look for an educator, but at least Rex's grade doesn't go on Sam's transcript.

Anonymous 8:44 AM  

Edit to 8:32 AM - the last line should read "Hating on this dazzling puzzle is a really bad look for an educator, but at least Rex's grade won't go on Sam's transcript."

pabloinnh 8:47 AM  

Wandering around among the clues and ran into SPARKY the fire dog, yay, and then STATELY and MAKESHAY and boom!, had all the Y's on the bottom and saw what was going on. Then in went BALLAD for a "country song', giving me the DD I needed for the date thing, which was wrong, of course. Too much European influence there, I fear. Can anyone think of OHBOTHER and not smile? I can't. Great corner.

The rest went smoothly enough. Liked seeing SONGWRITER and I say "Mirabile DICTU" probably once a week, believe it or not. Went with POTTERMODE, because why not, and as a paper solver didn't bother to check and see if FUTUDA made any sense, which it doesn't. Oh well.

@Lewis--you've outdone yourself. Bravo, and I for one am glad you went with "eating corn" instead of "reading porn". Hoping for the best for you and your family.

Nice job, SE, Simply Excellent. Hit me SMACKDAB (or SPANG) in the middle of my fun spot, for which thanks. Please take your place with the Saturday All Star Team.

Frantic Sloth 8:49 AM  

Much easier than yesterday, so of course I'm gonna like anything that makes me feel faux-smart.

@Lewis Safe travels, best wishes for you and your family, and ๐ŸคŒ๐Ÿ’‹๐Ÿ– for Sam You Are.

๐Ÿง ๐Ÿง 

TJS 8:49 AM  

Wishing your family member the best on his recovery, @Lewis.

But how are we going to know whether you liked a puzzle or not ?

bocamp 8:52 AM  

Peace ~ Compassion ~ Tolerance ~ Kindness to all ๐Ÿ•Š

Anonymous 9:02 AM  

Love JK Rowling. More please. Peace, tolerance. etc.

EricStratton 9:05 AM  

I just wonder how sad it must be to go through life having to think, after such simple tasks as solving a crossword puzzle, about whether the clues and answers were sufficiently diverse and inclusive. ("OK, finished that puzzle. Now let's go back and see if it included a sufficient number of women, transgender people, . . . .). When Rex attends a ball game, he probably surveys the hot dog vendors for possible signs of discrimination. And God forbid if three of the 5 checkout cashiers at the grocery store are men, and none are people of color. How many of the servers at the restaurant at which he chose to dine are hispanic? Does he hand them all a survey to find out how many are gay or lesbian or members of any of the other LGBTI+ categories? It must be debilitating. Such is the burden of moral superiority, I suppose. I'll admit to my inferiority and let Rex and his ilk bear the load.

amyyanni 9:14 AM  

Will be thinking of/missing you, Lewis. Take care.
@Southside, totally agree about apples, so much so it threw me off for some time in the NE. (Along with the WRIST clue).
Adore the end of Rex's write up about 10D. Hope everyone gavottes off into great Saturdays.

Tom T 9:17 AM  

Loved this puzzle, perhaps in part because I flowed through it in "easy" Saturday time, but not only because of that.

Only real hold up was not being able to see STATELY for too long (partly because of the NEAP/NEeP kealoa, and thinking that the Hogwarts thing must be POTTER lORE.

Loved Pooh's "Oh, bother."

Really loved the AMEN/MOO COW cross. AMEN as "Eye opening declaration?" one of my favorite clues ever!

And in honor of that clue, my Hidden Diagonal Word (HDW) clue of the day is, "Eye opening irritation?"

Answer: STIE (begins with the S in 23A, GABS, and moves to the SE)

Happy Saturday, all!

Anonymous 9:27 AM  

Shirley F,
Rex’s rant about those poor disturbed people who have somehow come to believe they’re gender is unrelated to their sex is intellectually and morallly bankrupt. It’s abject silliness. And, of course, as some poor Scot lasses have learned quite dangerous.
This turns business is nonsense. Some ztrange spasms of concupiscence born of the sexual revolution.
Sanity may be returning. Just yesterday the Times itself ran a story acknowledging that therapy and counseling etc might be better for some teens who want to mutilate their bodies and likely become infertile. These possitiins, of course were roundly denounced as in human anti trans jus last week. As I say, there is hope that reason will prevail.

Mr. Cheese 9:32 AM  

@Lewis good luck.
Suess you are!!

Zed 9:33 AM  

An Ian Dury and the Blockheads video!?! Well you can just Hit me with your rhythm stick.

I’m amazed at the seeming love MMDDYYYY is getting. Look at it again, MMDDYYYY, and explain how that is a good entry. Absolute crapola. It is okay because it does allow some other good entries, but in and of itself it is just awful.

Speaking of, good to see SPARKY make the puzzle. Long-time commenters will remember SPARKY fondly.

“To be honest with you…” … What, you’ve been lying to me up to now? I go with, “to be completely candid,…”

Yes, Rex missed on his comment as this puzzle is nearly human free, but “football isn’t bro-ey” is a weird hill to die on.

Joe Dipinto 9:33 AM  

Wordle 210 4/6


“Prophet!” said I, “thing of evil!—prophet still, if bird or devil!
By that Heaven that bends above us—by that God we both adore—
Tell this soul with sorrow laden if, within the distant Aidenn,
It shall clasp a sainted maiden whom the angels name Lenore—
Clasp a rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore.”
Quoth the Raven “Macklemore.”

“Be that word our sign of parting, bird or fiend!” I shrieked, upstarting—
“Get thee back into the tempest and the Night’s Plutonian shore!
Leave no black plume as a token of that lie thy soul hath spoken!
Leave my loneliness unbroken!—quit the bust above my door!
Take thy beak from out my heart, and take thy form from off my door!”
Quoth the Raven “Pottermore.”

And the Raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting
On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door;
And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon’s that is dreaming,
And the lamp-light o’er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor;
And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor
Shall be lifted—

Does anything rhyme with Macklemore and Pottermore?

A little something to wake you up

RooMonster 9:43 AM  

Hey All !
Nice poem! Best line that got an honest, real LOL from me:
I love them and I won't recant
I love them straight up or ASLANT

Prayers to your family.

Thought Rex would lose his marbles over MMDDYYYY. Turns out he liked it. Hard to tell which way he'll go on some stuff. Got a chuckle out of his A WOMAN screed.

Liked this themeless. Started out as every typical SatPuz, maybe two Across answers and two Down answers. Said "oh, boy, here we go again!", but persevered without cheating, eventually completing! However... Almost There! Argh! Hit Check Puzzle, cause I can never find the wrongness scanning the completed puz, and it crossed out the v I had at vENT/DICvU. Dang! If I'd'a ran the alphabet originally when I had _ENT, I wouldn't have had a DNF. OH BOTHER.

Not knowing SPARKY, when I had SP___Y, I wrote in SPottY. Apt, no? HEigh first for HEAVE. Couple others: ArOund-AWOMAN, WaIST-WRIST (har, thinking the funny saying 'A waist is a terrible thing to mind'), abbr-ERAS (early get ๐Ÿ˜). Had both REOIL and ISLET in originally, but took them out as I couldn't get anything around them. Weird how it starts to get solved when you erase the correct things.

Was TOO too too?
Good thing SPACEY wasn't clued with actor Kevin. Rex would have had to be transported to the hospital!

Nice puz, Sam. You're killing me lately on the SB.

yd -10, should'ves All - Grumble Grumble

Two F's

Nancy 9:52 AM  

If it's food and Japanese
And three letters? It's a breeze!
For their crossword puzzle meal,
All they ever eat is EEL.
Nothing that you want to guzzle?
Still, it opens up the puzzle!

When I couldn't get into the puzzle today, I fell back on EEL (along with DICTU and eventually FETED) and that was my footHOLD. (Nice clue there.) I also liked the clues for BLUBBER at 8D (I was looking for a SWEATER or MITTENS) and SONGWRITER at 10D.

My big writeover was bOO instead of TOO for "start of many a criticism". (I'd rather have a TOO than a BOO, I'm thinking.)

A real toughie, especially in the NW, and it made for a lovely Saturday challenge. Enjoyed it a lot.

DaS 9:52 AM  

As an immigrant with a low level of Californian geographical places, and a basic level of Potter knowledge my last square was at 52A and in went a 'C'. Pottercore seemed reasonable and surely there was some guy in California who called himself Count Shasta!!!!!!

Joe Dipinto 9:56 AM  

Poetry Slam Saturday, folks. I think @Lewis has it sewn up but please feel free to contribute submissions.

Carola 9:58 AM  

Just-right tough, fun to solve. I enjoyed multiple visits to each quadrant, picking up an answer treasure each time. My favorite grid chunk was "EAGLE OWL and MOO COW, I HEAR YOU," complemented by the individual standouts SMACK DAB and MAKES HAY and the cross of Pooh's OH BOTHER with the Eeyore-like IT'S BAD.

Do-over: MAcOMES, HEigh before HEAVE, adidas. New to me: POTTERMORE, FUTURA.

scott 10:00 AM  

Sparky=electric chair

Nancy 10:02 AM  

Love your poem, Lewis!!! I didn't see it before writing my own -- otherwise I might not have chosen to write a poem today at all. It's a tough act to follow.

PaulyD 10:09 AM  

Completely agree with those who would have swapped this for yesterday's puzzle. Found today's cluing to be cloyingly cutesy, with a topping of MOOCOW and MMDDYYYY.

Also, where's the de rigeur rant about including Kevin SPACEY?

Unknown 10:12 AM  

@ Nancy 9:52 Kudos to you! That was so funny, & I had the same thought process: "Hmm, a Japanese dish that I've never herd of . . . . I'll bet it's eel!"

A 3-letter animal ending in U just had to be GNU, right? Right?? So that held me up a bit.

It's funny, I wasn't a fan of Sam because of Spelling Bee for the common complaint that fairly common words weren't scored, while esoterica ruled. But this puzzle ruled. LOVED it.

@ EricStratton 9:05 *sigh* at the end of the day, it's rex's blog. He can rant about whatever he wants (and boy does he ever!), and that's his perogative. And then there's Z as his fan boy to explain to the rest of us what rex really meant. That's totally his perogative as well. And then anonymous to argue with Z . . . The free market place of opinions. I guess that's the beauty of a public blog; you take the good with the bad. I visit the NYT blog first which is pretty informative and always positive. Just not the spicy exasperating trainwreck this site is which I've come to love/hate. And of course we could always choose to leave.

Nancy 10:15 AM  

Wordle 210 4/6


burtonkd 10:19 AM  

In my book, easier than yesterday. NE and SW last to fall, tough to get into but then all the blocks fell.

The freshman art class at NCSA's first assignment was to draw an imaginary animal made up of existing ones. Truly talented students came up with magnificent renditions of things like EAGLEOWL MOOCOWs.

learned something department: I thought PANELTRUCKS were the typical UPS delivery vehicle, but "of old" didn't mesh. They apparently are much more specific PT Cruiser-looking trucks made from the Model T era through the early 1960s.

Did anyone hear Sam being interviewed on WNYC about Spelling Bee? I was in my car and arrived before it came on. Is it worth looking up? - I was wondering if he would get an earful about the word selection oddities.

Only ZOOMBOMBING I heard of was more of the pornographic shock variety - I must have missed the racism angle.

@longsufferingmetsfan - I was commenting recently about the terrific write-ups to start the new year, and hoping it would last past the (rightful) contribution plea. It had to revert to the mean at some point. Today's blog was wonderful, until it wasn't - I'm not going to let it ruin my day or blog experience.

Peter P 10:20 AM  

@Southside Johnny 8:11 - Apples are legitimately acidic. In fact, they contain an acid that is named after them: malic acid. Looking at a pH chart, I get a range of 3.2 to 4.0 for apples, with Granny Smiths, Jonathans, Macintoshes on the 3.2/3.3 side and Red Delicious at the 4.0 side. (Cidering apples can get tarter). Blueberries are clearly acidic, around 3.2. Straight-up lemon or lime for comparison is about 2.2 - 2.5. (A pH of 7.0 is neutral. Anything lower gets more and more acidic. Anything higher gets more and more basic.)

I had a silly error of vENT for TENT ("Something you might raise a flap about") which made the cross DICvU for "Mirabile ____". Since that phrase means absolutely nothing to me (though DICvU should probably have stood out as an unlikely Latin combination of letters)and vENT seemed right, I had to use "check puzzle" to spot my error.

Anyhow, gotta slowly get ready for the Bills game (I know I got awhile.) My wife got her new Buffalo regalia in last night, and I'm in charge of making the wings. My Bears had a pitiful season, but luckily I have a team-by-marriage to cheer on! (Thank God I didn't marry a Packer fan. ;) ) And we all love seeing the Pats lose!

Son Volt 10:21 AM  

@Joe D 9:33a - a little stretch but there’s always this

burtonkd 10:25 AM  

@Nancy and Unknown:
Unknown Japanese 3 letter food: EEL
Unknown baseball player with obscure stat: OTT
Unknown hockey player with obscure stat: ORR
Unknown mountain: KEA/LOA
Unknown large quantity: TON/LOT
Unknown small quantity: BIT/TAD

Euclid 10:29 AM  

Not one digital date is MM/DD/YYYY They are all, and I mean all, YYYYMMDD (no slashes/dots/spaces). Reason: that way they sort either chronologically or reverse. fact is, MM/DD/YYYY is antique analogue form. geez.

NeverAdmitErrors 10:31 AM  


You know, for those people that pore over Harry Potter.

And I'll start my own fansite while vacationing in Point Shasta while wearing my dic tie.

Pete 10:32 AM  

@Joe DiPinto - I assume you dropped the metaphorical mic in your living room, and are walking off stage into the sunset, but, before you go, that was the best post ever, up to and including Basie as your walk off tune.

I'll miss you.

Missy 10:36 AM  

Wordle 210 3/6


Suzy 10:40 AM  

@ Lewis— Somewhere in the great beyond, Dr. Seuss is applauding!

Grouch 10:56 AM  

Raise your hand if you're deathly sick of seeing those little Wordle squares in the blog.

Wordler 11:03 AM  

My method for Wordle, start with a word from the Xword, paid off again. 3 today.

Whatsername 11:05 AM  

Well this was a lot of fun on a snowy Saturday morning. And I absolutely loved seeing my all-time favorite quarterback (Hi @Joaquin!), not only in the puzzle but also featured by both Rex and Jeff Chen.

SPARKY is the mascot of the National Fire Protection Association? Well that couldn’t be a more perfect name. Ariana was not the first to refer to God as A WOMAN. I remember Helen Reddy thanking “her” when she won the Grammy for her legendary hit “I Am Woman.”

Couldn’t help but wonder what @JOHN X would do with the clue for 30D.

It’s a day early but what the heck. How often do I get a chance like this? Go MAHOMES!!!!

jae 11:05 AM  

Medium. The bottom half was easy, the top half was not. MAHOMES and EAGLE OWL were WOEs, penguin before BLUBBER, imO before TOO...tough!

Solid with a hint of sparkle (ZOOM BOMBING and MMDDYYYY were pretty much the highlights), liked it.

@Lewis - hope all goes well.

Zed 11:07 AM  

@Lewis aka @Leuss - Be well and I hope all goes well.

@burtonkd - ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿฝ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿฝ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿฝ - Great Cheat Sheet. You left out:
Unknown musical work in clue - Ono/Eno
Four letter sweet treat - Oreo

@NeverAdmitErrors - Your error had me imagine the POTTERpORn website.

@DaS - cOUNT SHASTA shoulda been right.

@Euclid - I don’t know what digital programs you use but computers have been able to sort by column placement since forever. An algorithm doesn’t care what the format is, only that it knows what the format is. It took me barely a precious nanosecond to find an IBM support doc with a wide variety of ways to encode dates with such names as DATEw and JDATE. Now, if you want to argue that YYYYMMDD is an international standard adopted to try to avoid confusion I’d be right with you. But as is often the case with “standards,” not everyone has adopted them.

Zed 11:12 AM  

I dedicate the following to @Grouch

Wordle 210 3/6*


(I am usually doing the puzzle then the Wordle then reading the comments in order to avoid any potential spoilers. But I sort of agree with @Grouch… right up to the point they seem to turn into the fun police - Post away Wordleys)

Teedmn 11:21 AM  

Two laughs so far today - Rex's last GAVOTTE and @kitshef's observation that MOOCOWs are female.

Several jolts of amazement in the poetry department from @Lewis, @Nancy and @Joe DiPinto's rendition of Poe's The Raven (Hi @Nancy!)

I started in my usual anywhere-but-the-NW today, with NEAP/NATTY providing my entry (though I was withholding MOOCOW in hopes of getting crosses). This went just a tad faster than yesterday's so I agree with @kitshef about the switch. Today's might have gone even faster if I hadn't delayed myself with the gnUS vs EMUS and having IMO instead of TOO for 28D (no, there was no indication of an abbrev. in 28D's clue, but my justification was "It's Saturday").

@Masked & Anonymous wrote a Wordle-inspired Runt which was lots of fun. I hope he links to it today. If so, you Wordle-ites should try it.

Sam Ezersky, this was fun, thanks for the challenge.

mathgent 11:25 AM  

As I always do, I went through all the clues, looking for gimmes to write in. I didn't write in EEL because I thought it might be AHI. My only write-in was NEAP. I hooked it up with NATTY and I was on my way. But the way was rocky.

I follow the NFL pretty closely and I know Patrick Mahomes well, but his name didn't come to me until I saw that it started with M from SMACKDAB. I would never be able to solve a puzzle using just acrosses or downs. I absolutely need the crosses.

I had to work pretty hard to get it, but I made some good guesses along the way. There were only eight mystery clue/answers. When there are 20, I'm in DNF land.

REALTALK is a song written by R Kelly. Rex knows pop music. Why does Kelly get a pass?

oceanjeremy 11:26 AM  

My wife and I found this one easier than most Saturday. We had *zero* mistakes or write-overs!

I was a little upset about MAHOMES crossing SOHO: though it presented little trouble for us, I oppose it on principle as an unfair cross. Yes, Super Bowl QBs are pretty ubiquitous and this one is from a recent win. And SOHO is a famous part of London. But this seems like sloppy, undisciplined crossword constructing to me. But what do I know?

My wife hated MOO COW. I saw this in a 2016 puzzle I solved a few days ago (working my way backwards in the archive, and I’m currently in July of 2016). Didn’t bother me, though.

I’m with @Euclid on date formats — files auto-named by date are typically YYYYMMDD (or, sometimes, YYMMDD). Otherwise when you sort by file name you get February of 2019 files lumped in with February of 2016, 2022 etc before you move onto March files (or every given year).

@Lewis, @Joe Dipinto & @Nancy: excellent poems today!! Glad I tuned in for all of them, each excellent in their own ways. Thanks to you all.

@Lewis: Wishing you and your family peace, strength, grace and luck in the next two weeks. Your comments will be missed.

Some other thoughts…

Why do the transphobes show up to defend JK Rowling some days and not others? Why would you even come to Rex’s blog if you’re too sensitive to stomach someone criticizing JK Rowling — something it is common knowledge that Rex does on literally every occasion something Potter-related appears in the grid? The only thing I can imagine is you must just really, really *want* to find things to be angry about. Sounds exhausting.

And lastly: WORDLE. Everyone seems to be going crazy about this, and I just don’t get it. I’ve done it three days in a row. Solved in three tries today. It seems really, really, really easy — especially for anyone who solves crosswords regularly. Maybe I’ve just been lucky, and it will get harder (and therefore more addictive?) as it goes on. I’ll let you all know next week! :)

Birchbark 11:27 AM  

Something of a poetry slam here, with @Lewis (7:19), @Joe DiPinto (9:33) ("Elsinore, two-by-four, hardware store, thereis namoore"), @Nancy (9:52) competing for the SONGWRITER of the year award.

Reap as ye shall sow -- @Rex sees a synonym where I see an antonym in the Gather-ye-Rosebuds/MAKES-HAY comparison. Both treat of reaping, true, what we reap is what matters.

My hay today will gone tomorrow if it rains, or at least turn to poor fodder -- and gone with it the prosperity of winter feed for the animals, decent bales for the barn dance, lo' the troths that won't be plighted 'neath a harvest moon. Wet, moldy hay isn't conducive to courtship. So do your work while the sun shines, enjoy more and better later, and begone this flower poetry.

Counterpoint: We'll all be gone soon enough. Gather ye rosebuds while ye may, beautiful and perishable just as we are. End the vicious hay-fretting cycle whose promise is never realized. The successor to this line of thinking is "Life is short -- eat dessert first," as I think we saw in a puzzle recently.

I'm sort of on the SWIVEL CHAIR on this one.

Tom T 11:27 AM  

MOUNT SHASTA takes me to a memory of my dad, who spent his teen years in California. He had a wonderful, gentle sense of humor and, being the father of four boys, introduced a charming substitute curse word (or as we Georgians would say, cuss word) into the family lexicon.

When one felt the need to cut loose in our household, the word of choice was "SHASTA!" (in honor not of MOUNT SHASTA, but the SHASTA "dam!"

Great poem, @Lewis. To it I say, "AMEN." And blessings in your absence.

Joseph Michael 11:31 AM  

This is an example of how a Saturday puzzle can be both challenging and fun. Except for the Harry Rotter reference, I loved everything about it as well as the poetic tribute to Sam by @Lewis.

Really liked ZOOM BOMBING (as a crossword answer, not as an activity) and to the Zoom Haters, I beg to differ. It’s an easy and reliable service at a low price that enables many people to work and socialize when lockdowns offer few other alternatives. I began using Zoom reluctantly to teach and now enjoy having students from all around the country. (And, no, I do not own stock in Zoom.)

MOUNT SHASTA has been a popular spot for UFO sightings and rumors about extraterrestrials secretly roaming its slopes. I’ve only driven past it. Never ventured up there to see for myself.

And congratulations to the clue for 33D. You’re a new entry for the O.E.D. (Oxford Eel Dictionary).

Beezer 11:31 AM  

Sam’s puzzles usually give me fits so I was relieved to find this was crunchy BUT somewhat in my wheelhouse. I won’t get into the bro-ey fray but as a female I didn’t see it that way…maybe because I know of Patrick Mahomes. Maybe I always remember the name because I think “Mahomes has cahones.”

Okay. The second day I did Wordle I got it in two but it was the day after a blue anonymous said something negative about people posting about it. Well, today I'm going to. Nanana-na to that blue Anonymous!

Wordle 210 3/6


One of the growing legions 11:33 AM  

Wordle 210 4/6


Oh, and btw, I like how A WOMAN is sandwiched between BLUBBER and DO YOGA. Seems almost biblically appropriate, as if GOD Herself had an invisible hand in guiding the constructor. I like when my puzzles are a religious experience in addition to being warm and cozy, virtuous and cleansed of any ideas or individuals whom I may disagree with or otherwise find distasteful (which is why I post more frequently in the TV Guide and People magazine crossword blogs than I do here).

Anonymous 11:35 AM  

Liked this one. Played easier than yesterday’s here. Rex’s misogyny is on full display today. JK Rowling, on the off chance you read this, please don’t listen to the haters. Stay strong.

Newboy 11:35 AM  

AMEN to praise for Sam’s grid. Impossible on a first pass to do anything but enter plural S in a few spots, but patience and Pooh gave the initial aha to build back better. Not having @Lewis among us will lower the blog PH no doubt as his comments so often sweeten the discussion—may his sojourn of mercy bear fruit.

JD 11:39 AM  

Geez, Great commentary today. Poets, wits, insights.

Smackdab, Moo Cow*, Zoom Bombing, Eagle Owl, Blubber. Those together are all I need to label this a great puzzle. Swivel Chair was just a bonus. I loved this puzzle.

Looked up the awkwardly named Eagle Owl and by Gof it looks like an Eagle Owl. Magnificent looking bird.

Only complaint, and I plead with the NYT to stop this, there's nothing surprising about a Wrist and as soon as I saw the ! I knew the answer because it always means now that I won't be surprised. That should've been a ? not a !.

But if I could set the font for this complaint it would 5-point Futura because this is a tiny nit and I'm only using this opportunity to stage what will be an ongoing protest that I'm committed to staging (and be read by no one).

Two days of top notch puzzling and commentary.

*@M&A, Was Moo Cow Moo Cow easy?

sixtyni yogini 11:43 AM  

Who could do better than AWOMAN?
Good puzz.

Whatsername 11:46 AM  

@Lewis and @Joe D and @Nancy: Bravo and brava! You guys outdid yourselves today!

@Lewis: Sending wishes for safe travels and healing blessings on you and your family. We’ll miss you.

@Peter P (10:20) Same here with VENT for TENT because he knew from DICTU?? I’ll also be cheering for your Bills to send the evil Pats SMACK DAB into the Losing column tonight. And hoping for the EAGLEs to MAKE HAY over the BUCs tomorrow.

JD 11:50 AM  

@oceanjeremy, Wordle is the amuse bouche of word games (proof here that I don't speak French and had to look up the spelling - /ษ™หŒmo͞ozหˆbo͞oSH/). It asks so little of you, five letters, six tries, no sign in, no ads, no long-term commitment, no stalking you on the web afterward. A tiny aha.

kitshef 11:50 AM  

@Nancy, @Joe D - glad you did not let Lewis's gem prevent you from posting yours. The more the merrier.

JustMarci 11:51 AM  

Where did I put my TERF-b-gone?

JustMarci 11:51 AM  

Where did I put my TERF-b-gone?

Anonymous 11:51 AM  

@Z: What @Euclid is talking about is when dates are part of filenames. Let's say you have to create a status report daily. If you want to always keep them in date order, it's best to name them something like YYYYMMDD_Status_Report.

In this way, when you sort by filename, they will always be presented to you in date order. While file creation date is an attribute that could be used for this, that is less reliable, as you could create two status reports for two different days on the same day (if you get behind, for example). An edit date attribute is also less reliable than embedding the date in your filename.

But besides all of that, what the puzzle clue is getting at is not any internal date format, filename, or similar. It's just that in the US, some forms that you fill out, whether on paper or on a computer, ask for it in MMDDYYYY format.

puzzlehoarder 11:52 AM  

This was 6 minutes longer than yesterday's solve so no late week flip flop in difficulty for me. SMACKDAB was the first thing I thought of as soon as I read the 1A clue and I still had to work for that section. Maybe I should have started with ZOOMBOMBING. The only thing debut about that entry is the ING.

I had a couple of write overs that cost me a lot of time. ISLES/ISLET (very sloppy clue reading) blocked my entry to the SE from the north. POTTERCORE put a monkey wrench in my progress from east to west in the southern tier. COAST as the beginning of 52A was supported by DICTA and THE SAME. This looked very convincing until it wasn't. OHBOTHER, ITSBAD and HOLD cleared things up.

MAKESHAY made TOTEM obvious. That's how I finished and only then did I reread the 20D clue...sheesh.

I got so involved with the solving that I forgot who the constructor was and how much I hate him for the SB. Speaking of which.

yd -0

egsforbreakfast 12:01 PM  

Strange that Rex would kvetch about AWOMAN at 7D but not AMEN at 9D. To be fair to Rex, the NYTXW submission guidelines say to avoid partials longer than five letters, but I guess exceptions can be made for the editorial staff.

@Lewis. I loved your Sam I Am. If I weren’t pressed for time I might try a riff on The Cremation of Sam McGee. Probably titled The Creation of Sam Ezersky. Best wishes with your family situation.

@Nancy and @Joe D. Yours were great as well.

I liked the puzzle but agree that it was awfully easy for a Saturday. Thank you, Sam Ezersky.

Beezer 12:20 PM  

Well, I misspelled “cojones” up above BUT I also forgot to include my thanks to @Lewis, @Nancy, and @Joe D for their great poems!

oceanjeremy 12:23 PM  

@JD: regarding WORDLE, Okay, phrased that way I get it! (Also, “amuse bouche” is one of my favorite French phrases that’s made its way into common English usage. I took a LOT of French in college, fwiw. As far as Frenchisms go, another favorite of mine is “piรจce de resistance.” Both food related. Hmm…)

Also, regarding ! clues: when solving Cryptic Crosswords, the ! does not indicate surprise — only that the clue is meant to be taken literally, From what I can tell this is true in the NYTXW as well.

Zed 12:25 PM  

@Anon11:51 - I can’t disagree with most of what you wrote but I can’t speak to what @Euclid meant, only to what they actually wrote, Not one digital date is MM/DD/YYYY They are all, and I mean all, YYYYMMDD, which is wrong in its absolutism. Absolutism and certainty are two sure fire ways to end up being wrong.

mathgent 12:32 PM  

My favorite comments this morning.

SouthsideJohnny (8:11)
Eric Strattan (9:05)
Nancy (9:52)

Amrit 12:34 PM  

That was delightful. I loved reading that out aloud to my 6-year-old who really enjoyed it!

Shirley F 12:37 PM  

@oceanjeremy at 11:26 - since i'm one of the few commenters today to object to Rex's rant against Rowling, i must point out that your rush to judgment that anyone defending Rowling is a "transphobe" is unjust and untrue, and i hope your knee didn't get misaligned from its quick jerk.
In fact i am, and have been since 1970, a radical feminist and am seeing quite a few examples these days of women's rights and gains being pushed back by people on both sides of the political spectrum.

Masked and Anonymous 12:56 PM  

Much for M&A to like, considerin it's a themeless rodeo…

* MOOCOW. @JD: Nailed it off ??O???.
* ASLANT & AWOMAN. A-SLANT for its desperation, and A-WOMAN for tryin to balance out A-MEN.
* DOYOGA. Kinda opens up a whole new genre of DO-answers. Runtpuz theme dibs.
* 007 U's. Thanx U.
* The full Jaws of Themelessness return. M&A luvs it, when they DOJAWS. Then they are totally AJAWIN.
* SPARKY & SPACEY. Comic strip potential.
* fave sparky fillins: MOUNTSHASTA & SONGWRITER [for their 4-consonants-in-a-row show of bravery]. MOOCOW. BLUBBER.
* fave spacey fillins: MMDDYYYY. DOYOGA. Both are primo.

Thanx for the fun, Mr. Sam E-Z dude. REALTALK & POTTERMORE mysteries kept the nanoseconds a-flowin, for quite a-spell.

Masked & Anonym007Us

Wordle ode, runt-style:

Nancy 12:58 PM  

@Carola (from yesterday) -- Barbara S, offblog, just alerted me to your contribution to the purple prose/techie jargon challenge. Sorry I didn't see it earlier. It's very amusing. (Is that a gift you really got?)

beverly c 12:59 PM  

I had the same error as @RooMonster - that DICvA vENT/TENT. The WRIST clue had me going for a bit, and AMEN is funny but I didn’t get why until I read it here.
Loved the poems Nancy and Lewis

Ilana 1:00 PM  

Absolutely just made my day with your last sentence. Still smiling. Thank you (and Carly).

PhysGraf 1:03 PM  

My family spent Christmas playing canasta as it was taught to us by my grandma in the late 80s. It is by far my favorite card game. Rex, love to know you played too!

Puzzle was easy for me. Last Saturday I had a record time of 17:21, this week 18:53. My average is 32 per the nyt app. Never knew that the Brits spelt it KERB!

TAB2TAB 1:04 PM  

Saturday tough. NEAPS NATTY MAHOMES and POTTERMORE not in my wheelhouse. But glad to discover Wordly, happy with my debut:

Wordle 210 3/6


Anonymous 1:08 PM  
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
JD 1:08 PM  

@Ocean Jeremy, And now that you've explained !, I get it!

Aelurus 1:24 PM  

First time cleanly finishing a Saturday in under an hour!

Favorite answers: OH BOTHER (Pooh always a smile), SPARKY (flat-out guess from the SP), BLUBBER (after running through layers of clothing and weather systems).

My interpretation of 16A “Baby’s barnyard bovine” was it’s the cow’s baby, so I plopped in MOmCOW. Which gave me LmT and no congratulatory riff. Finally realized it was the human baby’s mom cow and so got MOOCOW, the correct LOT, and the musical finale.

Thanks, Sam, for the fun workout!

okanaganer 1:38 PM  

Near the end, my northwest was completely blank, and the rest of the puzzle completely filled. It looked so weird! A nice solve, and the number of names was pleasantly low again. Never heard of MAHOMES, but MOUNT SHASTA is a personal favorite... whenever I drive south to San Francisco, it memorably punctuates where Hwy 97 joins I-5 at the delightfully named town of Weed.

I've always hated the MM DD YYYY format cuz it's just so silly. You either go short to long or vice versa; you don't put the shortest time unit in the middle! Lunacy.

[Spelling Bee: yd 0; QB for 8 days straight! It took me about 9 attempts to spell the pangram correctly.]

Anonymous 1:38 PM  

"women spent decades fighting for equality in sports [and now i'm mad that the women will continue to be included in sports]" is what you're saying Shirley. Also, as far as muscular and size advantages go.. the NCAA policy requires trans women to keep their testosterone and estrogen levels at what scientists consider "typical female levels". meaning their ability to gain muscle would be in line with other people with those same levels. And if a trans woman has a larger body than her competitors, she's actually forcing her muscles to work harder to propel that larger body because it doesn't have the corresponding muscle mass that it did when the body was shaped during puberty. (this is assuming, of course, that this trans woman started her hormonal transition after puberty)

Even if the statistics were pointed in your favor in regards to trans women competing in women's sports (they're not), why are you so focused on this specific advantage? why aren't you mad that people with poor vision can wear glasses or contacts to modify their ability to play a sport? or what about someone who tears their ACL, is it fair that they can get surgery to repair it and play again? if we're really going with the argument of "you're given the body you're born with, and you shouldn't be allowed to change it", then pretty much no one would ever be allowed to compete at these levels. seems like your opinion is just based on being transphobic.

the good news, though, is that you can change your feelings towards trans people if you're willing to tackle the bias you have, which would be greatly appreciated considering how much hate and persecution trans folks have to deal with on a daily basis

old timer 1:43 PM  

I had a hard time with this one but got it in the end. I said to myself, "Tough, but fair". And then, @Lewis comes along with his hilarious take on Sam I Am. I am wondering if, during those long hours near a friend's sick bed, he could make up a brand new Dr Seuss story? I'm sure he, like I, has been making up Seussian verses for many years. Lewis, before you say, "Now wait a minute, Mr. Socks Fox!" remember there are folks out there, perhaps on this very blog, who could do the illustrations.

(And yeah, much as I love the Cat in the Hat books, Fox in Socks was the one I liked to read and reread to my children when they were young. To this day, I wonder what Goo-Goose is doing).

Zed 1:48 PM  

What @JD said using many many many more words, with a little @bocamp thrown in at the end

Carola 2:04 PM  

@Nancy 12:58 - Indeed, nicely wrapped and under the tree (bought by my daughter on a scuba-diving trip to Bonaire).

Rachel Hollander 2:25 PM  

And stately is the first word of Ulysses ("Stately plump Buck Mulligan...") so a very Joycean puzzle.

Aelurus 2:32 PM  

@Lewis 7:19 and 7:33 am – Hope all will be well. Safe travels. And thank you for the awesome Sam You Are today!

@Nancy 9:52 am – Yes! My thought too: Japanese, food, three spaces, gotta be EEL. Love your poemlet too.

And somehow missed @Joe Dipinto 9:33 am till I saw @ Birchbark 11:27 am – it is a lovely poetry slam!

@Joseph Michael 11:31 am – Ohmygosh so funny; OED = Oxford Eel Dictionary!

puzzlehoarder 2:36 PM  

Sorry to hear about your relatives crisis best of wishes to them.

Tim Carey 2:42 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous 2:44 PM  

@Anon. 1:38 You write: "if we're really going with the argument of "you're given the body you're born with, and you shouldn't be allowed to change it", then pretty much no one would ever be allowed to compete at these levels. seems like your opinion is just based on being transphobic."
You are of course correct that people are allowed to change their body, and that for nearly all athletes change their body in some way. In fact, I don't know of anyone who would disagree with this. However, being allowed to change your body does not mean that no restrictions can be placed on the nature of such changes. Some restrictions are explicit, such as the prohibition against performance enhancing drugs. Other restrictions are either unformulated or as yet unimagined; it is, for example, not expressly forbidden for a swimmer to modify their body with bionic flipper-shaped appendages. In fact, the question of whether a given physical modification is permissible is largely confined to the realm of what is possible, and this is why in the very near future there will be debate regarding the extent of bioengineering of the human body that is permitted in sports. (For more on this: https://sporttomorrow.com/10-reasons-why-bionic-athlete-is-not-far-away/)
Biomedical advances notwithstanding, changing one's biological sex is not currently possible and is not simply a matter of changing one's body. To the extent that one *can* approximate a body of the opposite sex via post-natal physical and chemical changes, there remains the additional fact that the original body was itself formed by processes that are sex-based and that begin in the womb; there is currently no way to rebuild a sexed body from scratch that eliminates the influences of the body's (pre)natal sex.
I happen to believe that eventually this will not only be possible but will be universally embraced by society, and the question of whether this is morally or ethically "good" or "right" will be a moot point by then. But at present, it is not possible and consequently it will remain a highly contentious moral and ethical issue.

Lewis 2:51 PM  

A heartfelt thanks to all the good wishes here, and the kind words about my Seussian flight of fancy. Very, very grateful.

Tim Carey 2:52 PM  

Every time I have to enter a credit card expiration date it is mmddyyyy.

Evertime I have to enter my birthday in the US it is mmddyyyy, in other countries, of course ddmmyyyy.

I don't know what forms you are filling out...

Perhaps you mean that yyyymmdd is how they are stored internal to the program?

Masked and Anonymous 2:56 PM  

@Nurse Lewis: Safe travels and we hope all goes well. U are one good egg.


Nancy 3:05 PM  

@Anon 11:51 -- It's too bad you didn't post your 11:51 comment yesterday in the techie jargon division of my purple prose, techie jargon contest. You would have won hands down :)

Carola 3:16 PM  

@Barbara S from yesterday, thank you for taking note of my "verbiage" :)

bocamp 4:07 PM  

@PhysGraf (1:03 PM)

Love canasta, as well as samba (which includes run melds), a version of canasta which my great aunts favored. Played it every evening when visiting them in Yakima, Wa. back in the '50s.

@Aelurus (1:24 PM) ๐Ÿ‘ :)

@okanaganer (1:38 PM) ๐Ÿ‘ for your 8 str8! :)

@Anonymous (1:38 PM) / @Anonymous (2:44 PM)

Good points made in both comments :)
One wish/hope: that we desist from labelling others. ๐Ÿคž ❤️
td pg -3* / wdl 4/6

Peace ~ Compassion ~ Tolerance ~ Kindness to all ๐Ÿ•Š

Lewis 4:25 PM  

Thank you, M&A!

Smith 5:44 PM  

Wordle 210 4/6


Joe Dipinto 7:28 PM  

@Son Volt 10:21 – Yes! Thanks! Your suggestion works perfectly to end my poem. You know, people think writing poetry is hard, but it only took me two minutes to come up with those verses. When you've got the knack...

Anonymous 7:57 PM  

Easy (for a Friday) until I got to the NE. Had TOYCOW, and am not a Tweeter. Also, the clue for AMEN was clever, but eluded me.

I have never read Harry Potter or seen any of the movies, but I recognize it as a significant cultural event of the 90s and 00s simply because I have heard of it despite never consuming any of it. Despite your objections to the author's recent comments, you can't deny that the material was at one time extremely popular and therefore fodder for CW clues. While answers may not agree with your particular political or moral philosophy (either left or right), significant works or people in history are fair game for the CW whether or not they align with your viewpoint. How do you broaden yourself by burying your head in the sand and consuming only things that already agree with you?

RooMonster 8:52 PM  

No one but @M&A caught the A-MEN to go with the A WOMAN. Dang, @M&A, can I borrow some of your brain cells? Mine seem to disappear as quickly as your nanoseconds.

Prediction: Wordle graphs will soon be ostracized like our innocent SB comments were. Although, with the Wordle graph, I kinda concur. Maybe be like us SBers, just write down W = 4, so we all know you got it on the 4th try.

RooMonster Me? Controversy? Guy

egsforbreakfast 9:54 PM  

@Roo. With regard to your ignorant assertion (kidding har har) please see my post at 12:01pm.

Brian A in SLC 10:06 PM  

Yea, one part of me feels like us boomers should get together and lobby for no Harry Potter clues ever. But then the adult part of me realizes that life is for the young ... sigh

RooMonster 10:29 PM  

๐Ÿ˜ถ (No words) Oops. I told you my memory sucked. I'm sure I read that, but *whoosh*, over the head. Sorry.

No one but @egs and @M&A caught the A-MEN to go with the A WOMAN.
Har. ๐Ÿ˜
Hopefully there weren't others who I also missed, I can't keep this up forever!


aslightrain 11:05 PM  

Yes, MOOCOW was famously used by James Joyce in A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. Although it doesn't seem to be something children say today, it may have been 100 years ago. At the very least, it was not Joyce's invention, as the American journalist Irvin Cobb used it in Europe Revised two years before Portrait was published. Cobb uses it somewhat jocularly as a way of giving a vivid description of a scene. Joyce also uses it to add bring a scene to life, yet in quite a more remarkable way which is characteristic of his genius and which has resulted in successive generations of readers associating this unique word with him. Both the context of Joyce's "moocow" and an understanding of his innovative literary technique* make it clear that Joyce used this word precisely because of its strong association with children.
Here is the relevant passage:
"Once upon a time and a very good time it was there was a moocow coming down along the road and this moocow that was coming down along the road met a nicens little boy named baby tuckoo. ... He was baby tuckoo. The moocow came down the road where Betty Byrne lived: she sold lemon platt."

*In particular, his use of free indirect speech to narrate the development of the artist from child to young man. The maturation of the narrative voice recalls Corinthians 13: "When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things." ,

Deb Sweeney 8:08 AM  

This was blazingly fast for me for some reason. My real question is what is Rex's affiliation with the University of Minnesota? Nice stormy kromer my friend. Looks cozy.

Diana, LIW 1:57 PM  

Mmmmmm, no. Not todayyyyyy.

Diana, Waiting

rondo 2:10 PM  

Rex's daughter attends U of MN.

Nice puz. Slowest in SE for me.

Burma Shave 2:14 PM  


what IHEARYOU DO for big BUCs.
Is IT THE RISK TOO DO what pleases:


spacecraft 2:14 PM  

@M&A forgot his favorite MOOCOW-easy clue! Baby's barnyard bovine! But I do like the juxtaposition (hey, how about THAT word, constructors?!) of AWOMAN and AMEN. A-LAS, the number doesn't agree. ITSBAD.

Naw, that was tongue-in-cheek. This is a good puzzle, SMACKDAB where it oughta be, in the Saturday slot.

Where does the office yes-man sit? In the SnIVEL CHAIR.

Gotta love any grid with a shout-out to yours truly: SPACEY, points aplenty for that. The only DOD is God Herself, AWOMAN. AMEN. EAGLE, with or without the OWL.

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