Sluglike secretary in Monsters Inc / WED 1-12-22 / Two-patty burgers introduced in 1997 / Venue for meals with microbrews / Sister brand of crest / Eschew scuba gear say / Pre-weekend outburst / Impromptu signal to slow down

Wednesday, January 12, 2022

Constructor: Adam Aaronson

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: RHYMING (46D: Like 17-, 26-, 40-, 51- and 64-Across, with respect to the numbers in their clues) — every word in every theme answer rhymes with a number; relevant numbers appear at the end of each theme clue, e.g. [7, 9] appears at the end of the clue for KEVIN KLINE because "seven nine" rhymes with KEVIN KLINE:

Theme answers:
  • KEVIN KLINE (17A: "A Fish Called Wanda" co-star [7, 9])
  • GREAT FUN (26A: A total blast [8, 1])
  • WAR HERO (40A: Purple Heart honoree, maybe [4, 0])
  • FREE DIVE (51A: Eschew scuba gear, say [3, 5])
  • GLUE STICKS (64A: Some poster-making supplies [2, 6])
Word of the Day: MCDOUBLES (12D: Two-patty burgers introduced in 1997) —
The McDouble is a hamburger sold by the fast-food restaurant chain McDonald's. It is a variation on the double cheeseburger, with only one slice of cheese placed between the two beef patties. It was introduced in 1997, but was discontinued until 2008. It is one of the cheapest products sold by the company. (wikipedia) (it says the sandwich was discontinued, but there's a Bacon McDouble that seems to be on the current menu ... it came back during the pandemic, maybe? ... it's confusing, and I don't eat there, sorry I can't be more help) 
• • •

. 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...

• • •

This one has a bit of a "so what?" problem. Lots of words rhyme with numbers. What exactly is the logic of putting those words together into phrases? True, every number zero to nine is represented once and only once, so that's something—that shows some kind of careful attention to the number set as a whole, and it gives the execution a certain elegance that comes from limitations. But most solvers, or many, anyway, are not going to notice that little bit of elegance. They're just gonna see number rhymes, and again I'm back to "so what?" Perhaps if the numbers had any numerical meaning, any internal logic. If they were less arbitrary-seeming, maybe you'd have something. But here, there are just numbers in brackets, and the only thing those numbers indicate are rhymes for the words in the answers. For me, the RHYMING revelation didn't arrive until it was too late to be useful, and (crucially) knowing that the numbers rhymed with the answer was completely unnecessary to the easy completion of this puzzle. The RHYMING was a detached, merely ornamental fact. KEVIN KLINE is obviously the star of "A Fish Called Wanda," all the bracketed "7" and "9" do is confuse me a little. But it wasn't the kind of confusion that interfered with solving: KEVIN KLINE went right in and I moved on. So ... ? The theme letdown was worse for me than it might have been because the first clue I looked at after I read the revealer clue was WAR HERO, which rhymes with FOUR ZERO, which are the Actual Numbers On That Clue!—it's 40-Across, and its rhyming numbers are FOUR and ZERO. FOUR ZERO, WAR HERO, That is nifty. But it also gives you expectations for the rest of theme answers, and those expectations are dashed as soon as you look around (i.e. KEVIN KLINE is 17-Across but doesn't rhyme with ONE SEVEN, obviously). Making *every* theme clue do what WAR HERO does is likely structurally impossible, but still, having just the one themer make any real numerical sense only highlighted how tacked-on the clue numbers are in the first place. Maybe it is interesting that you can make five solid theme answers out of ten words, each of which rhymes with a different digit, 0 to 9. But it's only interesting in a vague, curious, looking-back kind of way. From a solving perspective, the bracketed numbers were just a distraction. Perhaps there's a better way to execute this concept. Maybe if the theme answers were much harder to get without knowing the RHYMING gimmick, that would've been more engaging. But as is, the numbers are just extraneous information, and since (outside of 40-Across FOUR ZERO WAR HERO) they don't do anything particularly number-y, the theme falls a little flat for me.

The puzzle was easy, whether you figured out the RHYMING gimmick early or not. The one clue where knowing about the RHYMING might've helped was GREAT FUN, which was not a phrase that leapt to mind, even after I had the GREAT part.  It's clearly the weakest of the themers (which are remarkably solid overall). That NE corner was by far the hardest part of the puzzle for me. One problem was that even when I consumed a ton of fast food I didn't eat at McDonald's, so yeah, semi-discontinued menu items of the '90s and '00s, not my wheelhouse. I needed a few crosses to pick it up. Worse for me, in that NE corner, was GOALS, which I still don't think I understand (37A: Ends of mazes). In the sense that a finishing point of any journey is a "goal," I guess, but is that the technical name for the end of a maze? Look, I confess I'm no maze aficionado, so maybe GOALS is industry-standard lingo. I have childhood restaurant-placement memories that contain words like "Enter" and "Exit," Or maybe "Start" and "Finish," but GOALS is not a word I've ever associated with mazes, ever. I watched "The Shining" last night, so I've weirdly got maze on the brain (there's a dizzying hedge maze at the Overlook hotel, where a harrowing final scene takes place). But GOALS just didn't register. ARMS for [Huggers] took a little thinking too, so that corner was slowish, but the rest was definitely fast. 

[this is *not* the "harrowing final scene"—it's our eerie, beautiful introduction to the maze interior]

Again, it's names that caused most of the slowdown. Beyond those MCDOUBLES, there was ROZ (no idea) and ZACH, whom I know, but can never remember the "H" v. "K" question at the end of his name. Had trouble with the CUT part of PAY CUT, which pairs "well" (i.e. depressingly) with LAID OFF today. I guess if you're on a "new career path," things are ultimately looking up for you, but PAY CUT / LAID OFF definitely brought the room down a little today. Retorts remain among the lowest forms of fill ("IS TOO!"), but the fill is generally very clean today, and those long Downs in the SW are particularly nice (GASTROPUB IN THE ZONE!). Not sure how I feel about the clue on BINGED (48D: Oversaw?). I want to like it ... but I'm not quite sure how it works ... I guess I'm not sure I think of "binging" as watching "too much" ... the concept of "over-," in the sense of going past an established limit, doesn't quite work. Or else it's judge-y. "Over-" according to whom? I originally thought that [Oversaw?] meant that the binging had given you a kind of overview of, let's say, the whole series you're watching, but I don't think that's it either. I liked the clue on HIKER, though if you live where I live, you would be well advised never to hike in shorts—the tick problem is just too bad. Even in the dead of summer, I'm wearing LEVI'S (3D: ___ Stadium a.k.a. "Field of Jeans"). See you tomorrow.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


amb 6:26 AM  

“Oversaw?” was a great clue

Chavenet 6:27 AM  

Since JOHNCLEESE also fits I got off to a bad STARt.

Conrad 6:32 AM  

No real rough spots here. Caught on to the theme about halfway through and from then on it was a piece of cake, with two clues for every themer. No overwrites other than stupid typos. Oh, wait: I had REAd instead of REAP for "Glean" at 41D.

Lewis 6:54 AM  

Oh, Aaron, you dog, you, you got me in both senses – you outwitted me because I couldn’t figure out the theme despite lots of trying until after filling in the grid, and you totally charmed me for two reasons:
1. Because the gimmick was so obvious and yet I didn’t see it, which, to me is very funny.
2. Because the gimmick was so silly. But it was the best kind of silly; it threw me back to the kind of wordplay silliness I engaged in as a kid, and still do at times, and which still gives me such great pleasure.

What do I mean by that kid-like wordplay silliness? Well, I see the answer ORAL B, my brain sees it backward as BLARO, in what pops in my head is the image of Zorro playing the trombone.

Anyway, the solve went smoothly aside from my wrenching to figure out what the heck those numbers in the brackets meant, including that especially flummoxing zero in the clue for WAR HERO. I loved the great-words stack of GASTROPUB and IN THE ZONE (Hi, @rex!).

Aaron, every one of your nine NYT puzzles has had cleverness, brightness, and excellence in construction. Every one of them has been fun to solve. I was hit with glee when I saw your name atop today’s puzzle, and I surely will again when I see it next time. This was a hoot, and thank you!

Trey 7:02 AM  

Agree with Rex about the theme - seemed superfluous. I missed that each number was used only once, but other than that, it was "meh" from the theme standpoint. As for the puzzle as a themeless, it was quite good, IMO. GASTROPUB was a great answer. I really liked the clues for SMORE and BINGED.

3-letter fill was fairly good - only a few abbreviations (SRS, TMI and REI - I am not sure that I would really include REI on that list since it is the actual name of the company). I appreciate having actual words for answers as it takes a little more effort in the construction since almost any three-letter combination can be an abbreviation of something

Tom T 7:03 AM  

Fell for the dog implication in 34A (Biting remark) and put BARk instead of BARB. Left me with kEN_ for the German auto guy, and I didn't remember ZACH right away. At the end saw _ACH and put the Z in my final square. No happy music, but quick realization that BARB/BENZ was the problem.

The first B on BARB starts a Hidden Diagonal Word (HDW) -- BOO! Appropriate placement for my boo-boo.

SouthsideJohnny 7:24 AM  

I’m not as picky about the theme details as some others perhaps are - since a theme is required 5 days a week, some are going to sparkle and some are just along for the ride. As long as they don’t constrain the grid to the point that the fill turns to garbage, I’m good (and today was fine, if a touch uninspiring, lol).

I still have no idea what a Cybertruck is (TESLA) - I thought they were into electric cars or space stations or something like that (maybe I have them confused with somebody else) - I googled it and it appears to be a brand name for a (nonexistent?) electric pick up truck - talk about a WoE !

Is URKEL still the same nerdy TV character that seems like he’s been around as long as ALF (he should be a grandfather by now) - or are there more than one nerdy, fictional URKELs to contend with ?

I actually kind of enjoyed parsing together MCDOUBLE - it sounds so silly and foolish, it almost seems like they could have snuck it in as a joke (or a stealth made up word of the day).

Note that we just did the TUNA MELT debate a couple of weeks ago - too soon for a repeat so let’s not go all Light Bulbs on that one today. How many people knew the name of the slug from “Monsters, Inc” ? - we have a pretty diverse group of avid solvers here - what would be a good “general knowledge” threshold - say one out of 3 or 4 solvers ? We probably average about 100ish posters a day - I wonder if 5 of us knew the name of the fictional slug from a Disney (Pixar?) movie/cartoon/animated hybrid flick or whatever one would call it ?

kitshef 7:25 AM  

Will can have his quote puzzles and word ladders and [hit it!]-style clues, if he will just get rid of any puzzles or clues based on RHYMING.

Never heard of MCDOUBLES. I do remember McD-L-Ts, which were great.

KEVIN KLINE may be an absolutely wonderful person, but he ruins every movie in which he appears. Nails on a chalkboard to me.

Anonymous 7:33 AM  

One of my secrets to a happy life is setting my bar a little lower than Rex’s. Never wanted to learn much about wine because then I wouldn’t be happy drinking the stuff in a box anymore. Anyway, I don’t usually pay attention to themes until the puzzle’s finished, and then I might look back and say, as I did today, “Huh, that was clever.” All the digits, once each, and in pairs, with rhyming word pairs that also make sense. Cool! Nice work, constructor person. And “overlook” is a great clue.
Now, if I could just get Lewis’s image of Zorro playing the trombone out of my head . . .

Son Volt 7:36 AM  

Solved as a themeless. Upon further review - the theme does have nuance but just no spark - especially for midweek easy themers. Liked WAR HERO front and center and GLUE STICKS was cool.

ROAD FLARE was oddly clued. Although I have nothing against McDonalds - probably haven’t eaten it since before the MCDOUBLE was introduced. Overall fill was vanilla.

Didn’t get much from this one.

Phillyrad1999 7:40 AM  

Didn’t pick up the theme till late. Didn’t matter. Easier than an average Wednesday. Was cruising until I hit Urkel. Which I wanted to be Erdle. Then I wanted it to be Irkel. IRKel would have been a more appropriate spelling if his name.

Michiganman 7:49 AM  

I saw the theme early on and it helped me get those answers more quickly. I think the theme was fine but I really loved everything else more. Cluing was clever and interesting. I had the F for "On one side of an outfield pole". 2 choices there so needed another cross. I made some bad guesses here and there that had to be sorted but that made me work harder and made for more fun. It's been a while since we had a good old fashioned SNARF-ScARF debate so I'm looking forward to that. Re: the Michigan flag: Moose are native to Michigan and occurred throughout all except the southwestern Lower Peninsula prior to European settlement. Moose disappeared from the Lower Peninsula in the 1890s, and only a few scattered individuals remained in the Upper Peninsula. (I knew you would want to know)

Keith D 7:53 AM  

Rex, I expect that next time a BINGE DRINKING clue comes up, you won’t object, otherwise you’ll be “judge-y”.

Fine clue. Fine puzzle.

TJS 7:54 AM  

"Field of Jeans". I like it. Otherwise, an absolute zero of a Wednesday. Can there be a week with no POW ?

Anonymous 7:57 AM  

I really liked the theme. I think it's because I think of it almost like a mini-meta. It's not crucial to the solving of the puzzle, but the numbers were a confusing mystery to me until that "aha!" lightbulb went on. I don't get that lightbulb that much anymore after doing so many puzzles, so it's nice when it does. And I don't remember seeing this type of theme before, so it's original as well.

Diane Joan 8:17 AM  

I loved the intersection of 62 across and 63 down. I just pictured a beautiful June day with a field day, a daydream, listening to music on an iPod. Nice image to have on a cold winter day! Thank you Adam Aaronson for this vision!

Peter P 8:18 AM  

The McDouble is not discontinued. It's my standard order when I go to McDonald's -- it used to be part of the dollar menu, then the dollar-fifty menu (or whatever they called it), and now it's part of the $1 $2 $3 menu. That Wikipedia article is poorly written. It says it was "introduced in 1997, but discontinued until 2008." That sentence makes no sense with the "discontinued until." Unless it was discontinued some time prior to that and then reintroduced. Except that doesn't make sense, either, as I was definitely eating McDoubles in 2005 and 2006 (it was my standard lunch when I was working out and losing weight in those years. Don't judge -- I cook almost every day for myself, but when I was working downtown, a quick 390-calorie McDouble for a buck fifty did the trick to tide me over until dinnertime.)

Zed 8:19 AM  

Wherever did BINGED get a sense of “over,” of “too much?” Maybe the dictionary:
Definition of binge (Entry 1 of 2)
1a : a drunken revel
b : an unrestrained and often excessive indulgence
c : an act of excessive or compulsive consumption (as of food)
(Merriam-Webster Online)
The notion of BINGE Watching a TV series on a streaming service carried the whole “excessive indulgence” meaning with it. It’s also used now for less excessive viewing activities so that it can be used with a less negative connotation (especially in a period when staying hunkered down watching the TV is socially responsible behavior), but the clue absolutely works. πŸ‘πŸ½πŸ‘πŸ½πŸ‘πŸ½

Not so much the “theme.” “Words RHYMe” is hardly a scintillating observation and constraining half the rhyming words to a particular subset of words that have their own glyphs does not help a whole lot. I get Rex’s excitement over the 40A-(4,0)-WAR HERO coincidence, but in the end my reaction upon filling in RHYMING was “that’s a theme?!????” Followed by “Since when do Wednesdays have to tuezz?” Run this yesterday and I would have proudly and loudly proclaimed it the Best Tuezzday Ever.

As for GOALS, the best I can come up with is lab rats running mazes maybe have GOALS? Yeah, I don’t buy it either. Nothing “wrong” about the answer, it’s just the kind of usage that exposes the speaker as a German spy in WWII POW Camp escape movie. Stalag Crossworld, I’m sure you’ve all seen it.

mmorgan 8:29 AM  

Whar @amb said. Don’t overthink it, Rex!

Bruce R 8:51 AM  

@Peter P

You sir, are correct. MCDOUBLES are well worth the $1.50 price. Fast, cheap, and they taste great. I eat them at least once per month and have been for many years. Discontinued my ass.

bocamp 8:57 AM  

Thx Adam; just right for a Wednes. puz! :)


Blazed thru the left half, but met some resistance working up the right side.

Had KEVIN KLein, so got slowed down in that area near the end of the solve.

GASTROPUB was new to me, but the crosses brought it home.

Another fun adventure. :)
yd pg -1* (tab'd) / dbyd 0*

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

albatross shell 9:03 AM  

Had trouble everywhere Rex mentioned. I needed the revealer to to have GREATFUN.

I also got totally distracted by a couple of false theories about the theme. First I noticed the Roman numeral I and VI in KEVINKLINE. Then noticed WARHERO ends in O or zero, say. And the number of the clue was 40 or four zero. Gazooks! What kind of complex math gets you 17, for (I VI) and seven rhyming with KEVIN and is consistent with the WARHERO, four zero. Of course none of this worked elsewhere. By this time I had most the puzzle done except for the GREATFUN and RHYMING areas and had completely forgotten there were numbers in the clues themselves. Finally got RHYMING and read the clue for the unfinished themer and noticed the rhyme with the numbers IN the clue. Oh yeah, numbers in the clues. They rhyme. Maybe I'll be smarter tomorrow. Or at least more observant. Or avoid rabbit holes. Miracles happen.

BINGED, needed every cross and a 5 second stare. Even better than ARMS. Needed arms to get MCDOUBLES.

Zed 9:04 AM  

@Southside Johnny - too soon for a repeat so let’s not go all Light Bulbs on that one today. πŸ€£πŸ˜‚πŸ€£ {Followed by “As if” - Ever hear of the Barbara Streisand Effect?}

@kitshef - I just looked at his IMDb page and I’ve only ever seen four KEVIN KLINE movies, but I liked him in all four. And, candidly, his character in A Fish Called Wanda is,… well …, you’ve been around the commentariat long enough to catch my drift.

@Peter P - Agreed on that Wikipedia entry needing some editing. I don’t much care about the ins and outs* of fast food marketing, but Uncle Google suggests that Mickey D’s has three very similar products, a cheeseburger, a MCDOUBLE, and a double cheeseburger. One patty one slice or two patties one slice or two patties two slices. There’s also the cost shaving thing Mickey D’s does of using 10-1 instead of 8-1 patties (i.e. 10 patties per pound instead of 8 patties per pound). I think I read somewhere that the Big Mac is still their biggest seller. I wonder what the savings are globally by them having their biggest seller use 20% less “meat” than the Whopper™️. (or is it 25% less - somebody check my math)

@Michiganman - Are there still elk in Michigan? Maybe somewhere in the Upper Peninsula, too, but I lived there 47 years and never once saw a moose or an elk (or a wolverine). At least the Latin motto is correct, it is two very pleasant peninsulas. (Or is it “peninsulae?” Must be “peninsulopodes”.)

*Yes, the pun was intended. Didja have to ask?

amyyanni 9:19 AM  

Sayhey @Z, I'm from Michigan, too. Detroit, so never saw elk, no wolverines either. Think Rex is a Tigers fan.
Even though I didn't get the theme until way after solving, give this a thumbs up as haven't encountered it before (or can't remember doing so). Points for originality.

Nancy 9:20 AM  

Well, if this isn't just the cutest, most adorable, and most original theme. And I -- a RHYMING-type person, for heaven's sake! -- was so incredibly slow to pick up on it, it makes me think I need a 2,8. (NEW PATE). Would you believe I didn't know what was happening until I finally saw the revealer? My first thought was: Is KEVIN KLINE 79 years old? I had to dismiss that thought when I realized the GREAT FUN was not 81.

Even though the puzzle was nice and crunchy for a Wednesday, I didn't need the theme to solve, so I went merrily along without trying to figure it out. When I finally had it -- just in time for FREE DIVE and GLUE STICKS -- I realized that it both made my solve easier and provided quite a bit of extra pleasure. Isn't WAR HERO (4,0) lovely-- and I missed it the first time around.

Congrats, Adam. A delightful theme, beautifully rendered.

Nathan 9:37 AM  

First McDonald's I ever went to was on Route 9 in NATICK when I was a child sometime in the early-mid 60's when the company began opening stores in Massachusetts, and only a scant few million had been served. Was terribly disappointed to learn that it did not serve hot dogs. Have only very infrequently patronized McDonalds since then, and lost track of how many billions have been served. Almost 60 years later, that McDonald's is still there in the exact same spot, and still not serving hot dogs. I expect they have changed the fat in the fryer a few times, though.

Beezer 9:45 AM  

I enjoyed working this puzzle and I agree with @Southside that “sometimes the theme is just there for the ride.” Like @Nancy it took me awhile to figure out the true meaning of the theme but the fact it was a weak theme did not take away my enjoyment of the puzzle.

@Kitshef/Z: Somehow I agree with both of you with respect to Kevin Kline. I just thought about it and it seems Kline tends to EMOTE in the manner of a Shakespearean stage actor…(or there is a hint of that) BUT nonetheless I’ve enjoyed every movie he’s been in.

@Nancy, it occurred to me that even if you DON’T take up Spelling Bee, as I recall you like the Acrostic and you would have access to YEARS of acrostics. There are the other wacky puzzles like Puns and Anagrams and whatnot also. Working the Acrostic online is actually not horrible.

not a mcdonald's fan 9:52 AM  

@Nathan: "I expect they have changed the fat in the fryer a few times, though."

Don't bet on it, Nathan.

Whatsername 9:56 AM  

A perfectly fine crossword puzzle but words that rhyme with numbers? That’s it? EGADS! Would’ve been a terrific Tuesday.

RooMonster 10:06 AM  

Hey All !
I knew ROZ! Benefits of being unsophisticated. Har.

SNARF I got right away, I figured out the NYTXW secret of SNARF referring to eating, whereas SCARF is a neck covering. 'Eat' will never be SCARF.

Caught the "theme" after puz was completed. Hadn't sussed out what was happening, glanced over at the clues, and happened to espy (there's a puz word for ya) the clue for GREAT FUN, and saw it RHYMING with the 8,1 in the brackets. "Is that what it is? The Themers RHYMe with the numbers?" I asked myself. Looked through the others, and yep, that was it. So an almost 'didn't catch the theme' DNF, but avoided/evaded in the 11th hour.

Extra layer of the puz that I got from Rex of using all the single ladies... I mean numbers 0 through 9. SMORE bang for your buck.

Had uhhuh for ISTOO first. Was going to complain about the 'uh' in the clue and the 'uh' in the answer. Nit avoided! (Evaded, eluded...)

Gonna try to @Gill...
--- Nah, I'll leave that to the experts!

I had a driving job when I was an early twenty-something around NE and Central Pennsylvania, and would eat McDonald's single cheeseburgers all the time whilst driving. They were cheap, easy to eat behind the wheel, and yummy! Plus my young digestive system was able to handle them!

yd -8, should'ves 6 (going downhill...)

Six F's

Anonymous 10:08 AM  

Roz is only on screen for a few minutes. Roz is actually voiced by Bob Peterson, who has two Oscar nominations for the screenplays for Up and Finding Nemo. The character is very memorable.

Frantic Sloth 10:13 AM  

Pretty much agree with Rex on the theme. Kind of a no love/no hate relationship, but admire the construction skill. Gonna hafta borrow @Z's mehty shrug.

Watched Attica last night and not even a Ted Lasso ice bath immediately afterward could soothe the pain or quell the outrage, so apologies for crank.

As you were.


Anonymous 10:18 AM  

Rex is incorrect. John Cleese is the star of A Fish Called Wanda--both on screen and off. He wrote the damn thing. The whole thing springs from his imagination. Kline's performacse was fine. But he won the oscar for best supporting actor not for a starringf role, i.e., best actor.
More imporatnt, Kline is a pretty good guy by all accounts. His wife owns a boutique on Madison across from the Russina Consulate. It's a pretty little store and she named it, at his suggestion, after an element in some Fauvist paintings.
Even more charming, he once ( maybe more) did a great ad for the store. He plays a self absorbed guy putatively shopping for his wife but of course as a celf-cntered pig turns down all the suggestions he's given and ends up buying something for himslf. The joke of course is that his wife in the real world is playing the clerk, and every time she suggests some item, Kline says, in effect you dont know her, not her style. It's quite arch. First class really.

As for McDoubles. They absolutely rule. For many years I've picked up two on a Sunday afternoon and eat them as I'm writing the script for a weekly show. Sometimes i dont even want one, but after so many years, I've become superstious and feel they have to be on my desk. I sometimes drive to an alterne Micke Dee's if my local has too long a line at the drive through.

GILL I. 10:19 AM  

Despite names jumping at me from all directions and me thinking "Oh, good gravy," my pea pickin brain will explode...But lookie here, I could do this!!!! I was able to happily ROAD FLARE and eventually tip-toe through the tulips right up to to the end...GALA it is.
But did you like this? you ask.....Yes, I did - even though I had absolutely no idea what the theme meant.
But what made you smile? you ask. Well, I did several smiles. I particularly liked the LAID OFF PAY CUT LEGIT SNITS little ditty. I know it's not really something to smile at but, haven't we all been there?
Then, give me KEVIN KLINE. Ay dios mio @kitchef 7:25...You really believe Kevin ruins every movie in which he appears? Have you ever watched "In & Out" ?????? I want nothing better than to sing I WILL SURVIVE all day today. Do me a favor, @kitchef, and watch it. He and (drool fest) Tom Selleck make the most fabulous gay guy impersonators this side of the Mississippi....Kevin's dance scene is hilarious.
So I get (finally) to the theme reveal. And I still itch my hair follicles. I can't even spell RHYMING. But what does that mean? you ask. Well hell on a Budweiser served in a GASTRO PUB, I have no idea, but I'm sure @Rex will let me know because he knows everything and if he doesn't then our walking Wikipedia smarty pants, @Z will.
Were you disappointed? you ask. Well, yes and no. I don't like using up my eyeballs to try and figure silly things out. This was a fun puzzle and, and, and...well the numbers in the clues didn't float my banana split.
One last thing...and then you can continue to ignore me...MC DOUBLES took some thinking. I know I've bored you with my screeds about my near death experience from eating my first ever Big Mac. In case you never did read it, that burger was my first. I was a virgin waiting for an experience I thought would be sublime. I think I was about 22 or so and I finally gave in because, after all, who comes to America and doesn't eat a burger. It made me sick as a dog and I've never touched another one. son loved them. He would beg me to get a cheeseburger with double fries. He was hooked. I was tempted because they did look mighty good. I'm scared of throwing up.
I enjoyed this, ADAM....Even though you gave me lots of names, I was able to remember them or at least figure them out.
It gave me the smile de jour and now I will start thinking about how John Cleese also fits in with Wanda.

Karl Grouch 10:23 AM  

Better clues:

-HALL: Arsenio in a dorm?
-EGADS: Digital bars?
-LEGIT: Scram!
-IPOD: Legume producer's declaration?
-OBEY: Plea to an Ottoman official?

jae 10:28 AM  

Easy-medium. Clever, no IDEA what was going on, and fun. Liked it and Jeff at Xwordinfo gave it POW.

Blackhat 10:36 AM  

@SouthsideJohnny....hand up for NOT knowing a sluglike secretary in Monsters Inc.

Enjoyed the solve today, thought the theme was useless and circled back to figure it out after I finished. I don't have an issue with the theme, but if it's not needed for the solve is it really a theme or just an added sparkle?

Dictionary says this...

done without being planned, organized, or rehearsed.

Doesn't a road flare tick off two of those, and possibly all three definitions? The simple fact a roadflare is being used means someone had to plan it's use (they put it in their car), they were organized (if not, how did they find it when they needed it?) And if their driver's training was rigorous enough, they might have even rehearsed using one.

Nothing impromptu about a roadflare IMHO

Happy hump day everyone (I still love that commercial with the camel....if my brother-in-law was a camel, totally him EVERY Wednesday)

Tom in Nashville 10:38 AM  

Definitely easier than a normal Wednesday. Only mistake was “road flare” - I wanted it to be “Road Glare” like a pedestrian glaring at you because you are moving too fast. That would have made “Great Fun” become “Great Gun” which seemed kinda weird but sort of fit…otherwise smooth sailing.
I had to read Rex’s blog before I understood the theme today. It was interesting but superfluous.

JD 10:42 AM  

That picture at Xword of little Aaron Adams dressed as a battery looks like a Pow starburst belongs beside it. A kid excited to be dressed as a battery!

Snarf a McDouble and a Smore. Huggers for Arms, a Moose for an Elk, Oversaw for Binge. Seriously Man, Great Fun.

His personality just shines through his work. The constructors I look forward to seeing all have that quality. You can work their puzzles and know who it is without looking. Real sparkle here.

It would be diabolical to have a late week puzzle with only the numbers as the clue. Just replace Kevin Kline with something non-PPP to make it accessible to everyone. I wouldn't get it (solved this as a themeless, impressed retrospectively) but still...

Speaking of, I love Kevin Kline, think that deep in my brain I sometimes confuse him with Mandy Patinkin (as in which one was Patty Lupone's boyfriend). Which reminds me, this year is the 35th anniversary of The Princess Bride. Inconceivable.

Michiganman 10:51 AM  

@Z. There is a thousand-head ELK herd in the Pigeon River State Forest area NE of Gaylord.

tea73 10:52 AM  

ROADgLARE and GREATgUN seemed perfectly plausible - took forever to figure out where I'd gone wrong. I got that the ends of the words were similar in sound to the second number but didn't catch on to the rhyme aspect forever. Not helped by the fact that I spelled it ZACk and took too long to see PAYCUT - nice answer there. Loved the clue for BINGING. Brilliant!

Wundrin' 10:54 AM  

I don't understand how someone loves a puzzle but then hates it because it's on the "wrong" day.

Picky Lurket 10:59 AM  

Maybe @Tom T $ @Mathgent could collaborate on a best diagonal comments list, so we would only have one post to skip over.

Whatsername 11:00 AM  

@Nancy: IMHO you’re not missing much by not getting spelling bee. For me, an exercise in frustration most days. Commonly used words that are not allowed because they’re considered obscure and then words I’ve never heard of that are listed as acceptable. For my subscription money, I’d love to have the cryptogram instead.

@GILL: My all-time favorite Tom Selleck role is Quigley Down Under, where he plays an American cowboy in late 1800s Australia. Definitely drool worthy.

KEVIN KLINE seems to have generated quite a few love/hate comments. Can’t say I love him in his more serious roles but he was great in The Big Chill. And he’s a real hoot in comedies like A Fish Called Wanda and Dave as a phony POTUS opposite Sigourney Weaver as First Lady.

Pete 11:05 AM  

Mazes have any number of ENDS, all of them of the dead variety. They also have openings, through which you get in or out. These are not ends, as one can continue on from them, either into or out of the maze. If you goal is to be stuck in a maze, then by all means, a dead end is what you're looking for. If you're a normal human being, and want to get the hell out of there, then your goal is an opening, not an end.

Continuing with my saying my sacrilegious out loud, Anyone who had anything to do with Monty Python ruins everything they're attached to.

Anonymous 11:06 AM  

LOVE the post-card. Your daughter is quite talented, and it is (I agree) "objectively lovely," and the decision not crowd Olive was correct. The cat theme would definitely make a good crossword, but the challenge here is to create rotational symmetry without ruining the art. I could see, though, how that might be worked into themers... a father-daughter colab on cats would be quite popular....

Newboy 11:12 AM  

Kinda cute (5, 4). Well the SMORE & COCOA mixing with NOEL was kinda cute, but the RHYMING left me out in the cold. That format is used in cryptic quote grids and so was a major stumbling block rather than a clever clue cue to do….EGADS! Adam’s sense of humor is obvious in the photo in his xwordinfo constructor note, so good on him. Maybe not a grid that gets all the way up to GREAT FUN, but it’s only Wednesday and it’s DONE, so it’s time I LAID OFF any BARBS and FADE a.w..a…y…..

Eniale 11:13 AM  

I am so with @Gill as regards the theme, never even remembered to look for it... I've never been to a GASTROPUB; never even heard of one - any pub I'd expect to find in England. No trouble filling the in, though.

yd pg -2; today pg -5 so far.

mathgent 11:13 AM  

Great fun. Just as I typed that in, I realized that it was also an entry. GREATFUN!

Ideally, themes should help in solving. That was true for me today in GREATFUN and FREEDIVE.

LEVI'S Stadium is where the San Francisco Forty Niners play their home games. It's in Santa Clara, about 40 miles out of the city. No one here calls it the Field of Jeans. Levi's is much easier to say.

Kevin Kline is one of my very favorite actors. Thanks to Gill for reminding me of In & Out. If I've seen it, I've forgotten. I'll check Netflix.

The only crunch was in the NE corner but there was good sparkle and Mr. Aaronson didn't resort to many threes, only 12.

mathgent 11:15 AM  

Great fun. Just as I typed that in, I realized that it was also an entry. GREATFUN!

Ideally, themes should help in solving. That was true for me today in GREATFUN and FREEDIVE.

LEVI'S Stadium is where the San Francisco Forty Niners play their home games. It's in Santa Clara, about 40 miles out of the city. No one here calls it the Field of Jeans. Levi's is much easier to say.

Kevin Kline is one of my very favorite actors. Thanks to Gill for reminding me of In & Out. If I've seen it, I've forgotten. I'll check Netflix.

The only crunch was in the NE corner but there was good sparkle and Mr. Aaronson didn't resort to many threes, only 12.

Trey 11:16 AM  

@Southside 7:24 - while I cannot claim to have gotten ROZ with no help, as soon as I saw it in the grid I knew it in retrospect. Of course, I have watched that movie dozens of times over the years.

Joseph Michael 11:30 AM  

Fine tricks [9,6] from Adam Aaronson. Solved most of this with no idea what the theme was and liked the aha of the revealer. No, it’s not brain science but it is a cute idea well executed and a refreshing change from some of the less enjoyable puzzles of late.

My way to be acutely focused and attuned was to be IN THE LANE with an IPAD and a sluglike secretary named ROL, so, even though I liked the puzzle, I did suffer a DNF. And on a Wednesday, too.

Where I’m from, a FREE DIVE [3,5] is a sleazy bar where you don’t have to pay for your drinks.

OffTheGrid 11:42 AM  

@Pete. I took 37A, Ends of mazes, to mean exitS, which was my first entry. I guess finding the exit of a maze is the goal but this clue was wonky.

BTW, I think there are support groups for Python haters. Har!

The Swedish Chef 11:46 AM  

"It is one of the cheapest products sold by the company."

Well.... when I was a kid (won't say how long ago that was, of course), our local franchise burger joint (Burger King, I think), sold a single patty, pickle, ketchup, mustard for 15¢s

Carola 11:49 AM  

I managed to eke out GLUE STICKS with no crosses; up to then the RHYMING theme had eluded me. I enjoyed going back to admire the other theme answers, but needed @Rex to appreciate how each digit was used only once. Nice one. I also smiled at HIKERS, Huggers, and Oversaw; doubtful about AGING x GREAT FUN.

Do-over: pHi before RHO. No idea: ROZ, URKEL.

Anonymous 11:52 AM  

let's be frank, shall we?? the reason Clown Fries are so tasty is all that burned fat/potato/salt that floats in the lard and sticks to the fries. if you've ever had fries (Clown Fries or not) done in fresh fat, you likely noted that they were tasteless.

Joe Dipinto 11:53 AM  

Rex → Worse for me...was GOALS, which I still don't think I understand (37A: Ends of mazes). In the sense that a finishing point of any journey is a "goal," I guess, but is that the technical name for the end of a maze?

Why yes, @Rex, at least so says Wikipedia:
A maze is a path or collection of paths, typically from an entrance to a goal.

Kevin Kline's Supporting Award for "A Fish Called Wanda" is and will remain in perpetuity the worst, most undeserved Acting Oscar ever bestowed.

"Excuse me, Dr. Anesthesiologist—what's that needle you're waving?"

Newboy 11:53 AM  

@JD you had me spewing my coffee with “Inconceivable!” Puz finished so soon that I now have a day for a BINGE KEVIN KLINE GALA.

Nancy 12:01 PM  

Like @GILL, I'm a big KEVIN KLINE fan. Loved him in "In & Out" (if you've never seen it, see it) and he was also wonderful in "The Big Chill" which you should also see if you've never seen it. There's a combination of playfulness and charisma to his performances that makes them irresistible. Wasn't as fond of "Wanda" -- but that was a problem with a script that I didn't much like. He's also great on stage-- I was at the Delacorte for his performance in "Much Ado About Nothing" and it was a privilege being there.

JD 12:11 PM  

@mathgent, I give you my post of the day because we agree on sparkle and Great Fun. BTW, if you hear a loud, reverberating scream of FINALLY through an open window on March 28, it's me. Just found out that my son is graduating from UCSF on that day.

@Michiganman, Looking to open a restaurant in Rye, NY. Lately considered a tugboat theme but thanks to you, now considering the Scarf 'n Snarf, home of the S'moreburger. Also Tuna Melts, which are delicious but too rich for me. says that a mouse makes "2000 navigation decisions per hour" in a maze. That mouse is pursuing a Goal. Otherwise, it'd probably just sit there, defecate, and twitch.

@Joseph Michael, Free Dive sleezy bar, that would be a casino.

egsforbreakfast 12:16 PM  

Here’s how Adam Aaronson wrote this puzzle:

“ The first theme entry I thought of was KEVIN KLINE, which sorta locked itself in as the one with the 7. Then I made a Python program that mined the CMU Pronouncing Dictionary for every word that rhymes with a single digit and searched my wordlist for every entry consisting of two of those words back-to-back. Now I had a massive list of ostensible theme entries, but I still had to manually weed out tons of false positives like DONOR [2, 4] and LIVESON [5, 1]. Eventually, I lucked into the theme set you see today!.”

I might try something like this if I weren’t working on an important proof that the metaverse could actually contain 12 dimensions and still be stable with a slight modification of super string theory.

I also think it’s likely that one could simply write a column of the single digits and, next to each digit, a whole bunch of rhyming words, then look for interesting combinations. This would avoid being constrained to your pre-existing word list pairings. I’m probably just not thinking straight since I BINGED on MCDOUBLES at the GASTROPUB last night.

What does the lab worker do who’s job is mounting specimens of Lyme disease carriers in a display book?


I caught the theme early, and it helped a bit, but I thought it was meh.

CT2Napa 12:20 PM  

FYI - correction in today's paper:

The clue for 47 Across in the Monday crossword puzzle implied incorrectly that coal is a viable source of clean energy...

The Swedish Chef 12:24 PM  

For completists in the audience, it was Burger Chef, RIP

crayonbeam 12:27 PM  

I really wanted "One often seen wearing boots with shorts" to be Dallas Cowboy Cheerleader

old timer 12:33 PM  

So I wrote in THROB in a trice, but when the time came, my B looked so much like a D that I figured I was writing in "dINGED" which was, I thought, a strange way to describe bumping someone's car while trying to park. Eventually, I SAW that the true answer was BINGED, which left me thinking, "That's strange. You can BINGE drink or BINGE eat, but what does that have to do with "oversaw?"

So thanks, @Z, you came to the rescue here. I don't BINGE watch anything, unless for some reason I have to tape several Jeopardy shows in a row. But I am married to a BINGE watcher of all those Chicago shows (Fire, P.D., for all I know, "Chicago Gastroenterology). Me? I am a BINGE reader of my favorite authors.

I rate this as a pretty good puzzle, and outstanding for a Wednesday.

mathgent 12:38 PM  

I learned about Wordle from yesterday's blog. It's very similar to a game I used to play with my brother sixty years ago. We called it Jotto. I would select a five letter word and he would try to get it by guessing five-letter words. For each guess, I would tell him how many of his letters were in the word and how many were in the correct position. But unlike Wordle, I wouldn't tell him which letters were in the correct position. We would alternate guesses until one of us got the other's word.

I introduced the game to my wife this morning. "I got it in five tries," I said. "See if you can beat that." She got it in two. Beginner's luck?

Anonymous 12:46 PM  

Joe Dipinto,
Come on! Youre better than that. Kline's performance is fine. It's true that he shouldnt have won the Oscar But Cleese should've his script was nominated for Wanda.
but to your larger point on the least deserving actor Oscar, Kline isnt even in the top 10.
Off the top of my head ( and only using stauettes bestowed Since his....)
Gwyneth Paltrow
Anna Paquin
Jennifer Hudson
Roberto Benigni
Sandra Bullock
*Al Pacino ( 1994 was NOT the yaer to give him the Oscar)

Happy to do the "30s, `40s and 50s...

Masked and Anonymous 12:50 PM  

har … Well, this puz seemed to have different ratins, both of the pleased and unpleased variety. I tended toward more pleased than the other one.

OK, so M&A was mindin his own business, solvin away, until he got to the 17-A clue: {"A Fish Called Wanda" co-star [7,9]}. The M&A brain instinctively reacted in 3 consecutive waves:

1. Answer is two words: First one is 7 long, second one is 9 long. Sooo … since the whole day-um answer is 10 long, that means its gonna be rebus time. Don't recall anyone from that movie havin a name that long-winded, tho … MSJAMIE LEECURTIS? … nah ...

2. There is somethin significant about the 7th and 9th letters of the answer. Since the answer could be KEVINKLINE, if I spelled it right, then them letters is: L & N. Lane! Ahar! Maybe we're doin street abbreviations. Nah … surely not.

3. Let's just go cop a peek down there at that theme revealer. Ah … there it is, at 46-D. Sooo … the theme answers are *like* the numbers, in some way. Ahar! Odd! 7 & 9 are odd! QED! No, wait tho … KEVINKLINE is odd? Seems kinda judgmental, for a NYTPuz.

4. Where's the next day-um themer? Must … look … for … patterns. Ok, looks like 26-A [thanx, revealer clue]. Clue is: {A total blast [8, 1]}. Nope, one even, one odd. NG ain't no street abbreve, either. Wrong again, M&A breath. Let's get some crossers … [nanoseconds pass] … ok, got em … GREATFUN. Eight, one. Hmm … well, they do kinda sound alike … etc.

Different theme idea, fakin us out with those numbin numeric notations. Like.

staff weeject pick: SRS. Plural abbreve / text msg meat. Has it all.
fave sparkler bits: MCDOUBLES. GASTROPUB. SNARF. BINGED clue.

Thanx, Adam mcdouble-AA dude. Nice, number-crunchy theme. Reminds M&A, just ever so wee slightly, of today's runtpuz. Not a copycat case, tho … no jury would convict m&e.

Masked & Anonymo5Us


Teedmn 12:52 PM  

I had to come to the blog to get the theme - the reveal answer set me to trying to make sense of the clue numbers, not the numbers in the clues. How 17-, 26-, 40-, 51- and 64- related to their answers or the numbers in the clues was baffling me. I guess I'm just a bad clue reader; starting at 1A, I skipped the second line of the clue and came up short when -itory didn't fit. Duh, HALL.

But I finished correctly in a Tuesday-ish time so rather than take a FREE DIVE, I consider this GREAT FUN.

54A is all too true - I've often thought I could find something more interesting than the job I've been doing for 33 years, but the PAY CUT and the probable schooling I would have to undertake led me to stay in the comfy, well-paid job that I could do in my sleep. Now that I'm nearing retirement, I can think about doing something else, or simply continue with my hobbies of knitting and reading. Time does fly even when you're not having fun.

Thanks, AA (I first thought the theme was going to be double initials based on Kevin Kline), this was a nice Wednesday puzzle.

Anoa Bob 12:55 PM  

Remember EYESORES from Sunday followed by EYE SORE on Monday? And now we get ADELE (2D) today following yesterday's ADELA (58D). See what I'm talking about? There's some kind of meta afoot, I just know it!

What do you call a meal of MCDOUBLES with a side of SMOREs? A GASTRObomb! SRS though, eating that FOUL stuff will put you on a fast track to early AGING, obesity, diabetes, colorectal cancer and the like. (Take note that the MCDOUBLES sits next to a ROAD FLARE. Danger ahead!)

Finding arbitrary two word phrases/names whose only connection to each other is that they each rhyme with two numbers and those two numbers' only connection to each other is that they rhyme with arbitrary two word phrases/names is not my IDEA of GREAT FUN.

And wasn't it just a few days ago that we had GALA in the grid and we get it again today (71A). Could MCDOUBLES be the key to the emerging duplication meta?

albatross shell 12:56 PM  

The goal in most mazes is to get to the center or escape from the center. Either one is the end of a path and the goal of the puzzle. What is the problem? If it is a walking maze you want to get to the center and out again. Still works.

However @blackhat is correct about the impromptu ROADFLARE unless your roadflare is a lit rolled-up newspaper or a bic lighter. Explain that one.

Did not know ROZ. THE R_Z made it likely. Having a friend with that name helped. She's the proverbial ball of fire though. Didn't know GASTROPUB either but O fit GASTR_ better than the other vowels as well.

I'd say we average far fewer than 100 posters here. But agree that more them probably knew MCDOUBLES than knew ROZ or GASTROPUB. But all 3 were high on the gettable scale.

But who is Matte and why is he missing Martin or Charlie?
Oh, don't tell me. I remember that movie now.

jb129 12:56 PM  

Either I lost my "knack" or I wasn't into this constructor's head - or both.

1st time in a long time I didn't finish a Wednesday puzzle.

Anonymous 1:04 PM  

The goal in most mazes is to get to the center or escape from the center.

not in any corn maze here in sh!thole counties of New England. in one end, out the other. kind of like eating corn/maize.

Masked and Anonymous 1:22 PM  

Hmmm … guess it was actually a 4-wave M&A brain reaction, altho I originally was gonna combine steps [3,4].

Anyhoo, don't worry 'bout it … go back to so-whatin the puztheme, or whatever.


mathgent 1:23 PM  

My favorite comments this morning.

Z (9:04)
Nathan (9:37)
Anonymous (10:18)
JD (10:42)
Wundrin' (10:54)
Nancy (12:02)

CDilly52 1:26 PM  

I had such fun solving this puzzle. It did not feel skewed in any particular direction (other than the proper names) and had interesting clues. That said, I saw and promptly forgot about the numbers next to the theme clues, finished the puzzle without ever reading the reveal clue (got all the acrosses), and so was gifted with a little “oh, yes, a theme!” moment. Liked that a lot.

okanaganer 1:32 PM  

@Anonymous 10:18 am: I can't believe you told a whole story about KEVIN KLINE's wife without naming her: Phoebe Cates! They've been married for 32 years so he must be an okay guy, great actor or not (I like him).

I liked the theme; Aaron wrote that he had to use a Python script to generate the answers. I never learned much Python. Is that the one with the indentation instead of brackets?

I am intimately familiar with the concept of PAY CUT upon changing careers. Yet I kept doing it until it was too late.

[Spelling Bee: yd 0; QB for 5 days straight!]

bocamp 1:40 PM  

I forgot to go back and suss out the theme. Cute idea! :)

@mathgent (12:38 PM)

Jotto was our go-to word game in the 50's.
td 0*

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

Joe Welling 1:48 PM  

I enjoyed this one, and I thought the theme was good in that it confirmed for certain those answers. I think it made the puzzle play a lot easier than it otherwise would've.

Anonymous 2:05 PM  

All you need to know about mazes:

The Minotaur dreams of bargains struck, dreams---
Brave young Theseus, golden boy, butcher extradinaire.
Theseus deep in the Labyrinth comes face to face---
Umbilicated hero, bound by fate, bound by love bound
by the filament of mislaid want. Comes face to face
in the chambered pit--hewn out of darkness,
the chisel and rasp, tools of deceit. Crafted
from the planks and bones of mendacity. Theseus
face to face with the asthmatic huff
and pernicious snort of desire, rendered pure.
the by-product hobbled by shame, hidden away--
Until Thesesus--Theseus comes face to face with the minotaur. Theseus bargains for his life. In the labyrinth all deals are shady. Skulduggery holds sway. From the door ashen Theseus
puts on a good face, touts his victory--the monster to market--while from the back the Minotaur skulks into a tepid eternity; high the costs of living.

---Steven Sherril

puzzlehoarder 2:26 PM  

Exactly between Tuesday and Wednesday time. I didn't get the theme until I recognized RHYMING. By that point it made little difference as most of the puzzle was done. I didn't get the BINGED clue until I read the blog, doh.

yd -0

Anonymous 2:39 PM  

I left her name out of the story on purpose, and the name of the shop and even Avenue when referring to Madison. Truth is, the Cates/kleins have been a fixture in Carnegie Hill for a long time. If you knwo, there's no need to drop names.
and since it's UES-- we all know Rye's marina too, though we dont have to name it either. But you're quite right to like Kline. And if you're fond of the fact that they've honored their marriage vows, check out Princess Caribou. It, like them, is charming.

Joe Dipinto 2:43 PM  

@Anon 12:46 -- No, I'm not better than that. Kline is definitely #1. Mira Sorvino in "Mighty Aphrodite" is a close #2. Neither should even have been nominated. Kindergarteners could give far more accomplished comic performances.

Liveprof 2:45 PM  

The McDouble reminded me of the time my son and I first saw a poster advertising the McWrap in Michigan. We imagined someone saying "It's all McWrap to me." I thought the PR boys might have dropped the ball on that one.

Anonymous 2:56 PM  

Joe D.
You are. You are so better than this.
I thought someone would mention Sorvino, but I'm sorry it was you. I enjoyed her perfomance in Mighty. tabling those two, what about the rest of my list? We usally have pretty similar tastes but now I'm not so sure

Anyway, did you ever get to Philly? Did you get to Dipinto's shop? Not too shappy right? Hope you didnt think Fishtown was an ersatz Buswick..



burtonkd 2:58 PM  

My daughter did a spot on impersonation of ROZ when she was in elementary school, so chalk one up for yes, Southside.

In the nit department, I thought Nancy might beat me to it, but WAR does not rhyme with FOUR (WORE does).

I don't know why, but I have some urge to argue with anon 7:57 about their lightbulb aha moment.

rjkennedy98 3:02 PM  

Solved this as a themeless. When I got to the end I saw the "RHYMING" revealer and tried to figure out how "17" rhymes with KEVIN KLINE or "51" with FREE DIVE. I guess I didn't notice the numbers in the clues when solving. Like Rex, I feel like this would've been a super elegant puzzle if the answers rhymed with their actually clue number. Otherwise this theme is a total dud. That being said, I thought this was a super clean grid, and an enjoyable solve as an Tuesday-level themeless.

Unknown 3:23 PM  

Me too!

Zed 3:28 PM  

Why am I not surprised that the themers were found with a computer algorithm.

@Anon 2:05 - Well, I think knowing that Daedalus, father of Icarus, made that particular maze is also worth knowing.

@mathgent - The Jotto Wikipedia page already links to the Wordle page. It looks like the Wordle page was created on 1/1/22 (The Jotto page was created in 2003). As for “beginner’s luck,” I think it’s just luck. My guess distribution after 7 days is 0,0,1,2,2,2. I think I solved it one other time but closed that tab or something so don’t know what I did that day.

@CT2Napa - Interesting. Apparently the smog got too thick.

@Albie - What is the problem? Have you ever heard that the goal of a maze is to achieve a GOAL? The clue is fine, it is accurate, a maze is a puzzle and the goal is to solve it. But if you are about to start a corn maze (for example) with a new girlfriend or boyfriend and they asked, “What’s the GOAL?” you’d immediately wonder if you were living in a real life Invasion of the Body Snatchers.

@Joe Dipinto - Who would you have picked (or was there a snub you’d have voted for? Here are the nominees, their roles, and the movies:
Kevin Kline - Otto West - A Fish Called Wanda
Alec Guinness - William Dorrit - Little Dorrit
Martin Landau - Abe Karatz - Tucker: The Man and His Dream
River Phoenix - Danny Pope - Running on Empty
Dean Stockwell - Tony "The Tiger" Russo - Married to the Mob

I’ve only seen Fish so cannot speak to any of the other performances.

@Pete/black letters (who I assume is not @Pete/blue letters) - De gustibus and all that but I’d watch out for the Rabbits of Caerbannog if I were you.

For @Frantic πŸ˜‰
Wordle 207 6/6*


Anonymous 3:44 PM  

Running on Empty is superb. Superb. So is Married to the Mob. And Stockwell was brilliant.

Old Robert 3:52 PM  

Same. Also had CHANCE for Last____. HIKER fixed those, then it was smooth sailing. Didn’t get the the theme until Rex explained. Didn’t care even then.

Joe Dipinto 4:09 PM  

@Anon – I didn't go to Philly.

Of the other performances you mentioned, I didn't see Sandra Bullock. I don't remember much about Jennifer Hudson's performance except for the big song. Gwyneth was okay; Roberto Benigni, who as a rule I cannot stand, I surprisingly thought was decent. Anna Paquin I thought was quite good. I have a love-hate with Al Pacino, he didn't really rate an Oscar for "Scent Of A Woman".

But even if I were to conclude that none of those performances ultimately deserved to win, none were *as bad* as the two I cited. My opinion, of course.

I should add that I have not seen every winning acting performance. It's possible someone else could sneak in and grab the crown at some point. But I doubt it.

Zed 4:21 PM  

I just got to today’s AVCX puzzle and the clue for 21A makes me think they clue writers there have been reading our comments.

Eniale 4:26 PM  

At last -- -0. My QBs are few and far between

Mr. Alarm 4:28 PM  

I knew the character from Monsters Inc., just didn’t know if it was spelled “RAZ” or “ROZ”. Figured it out pretty quickly.

kitshef 4:35 PM  

FWIW, I've seen all the recommended movies: Dave, In & Out, A Fish Called Wanda, The Big Chill, plus Silverado and French Kiss. Hated 'em all. He never seems to make any effort to act like a real human being.

Anonymous 5:08 PM  

@kitshef. Sounds like you are confusing the person with his roles.

GILL I. 5:54 PM  

@Anony 12:46. I kinda agree with your list except for maybe Sandra Bullock. She's probably a sh*t head in real life but she always plays a sweet, funny and cute girl in her movies. Always bringing a little smile for me.
Might I add my thumbs down on Oscar winning actors?
Nicolas Cage in "Leaving Las Vegas."
Renee Zellwelger in "Chicago."
Kim Basinger in "La Confidential."
Pretty faces but acting was stinky.
@kitshef.....I'll add an Aye Aye to my dios mio. Of course Kevin doesn't make an effort to act like a human being......he's an actor who is great at pretending and he does it beautifully. Come on over and I'll fix you some some tortilla soup and we'll talk.

Jeff B. 5:57 PM  

I disagree with all the KEVIN KLINE bashing. His acting is appropriate to his roles. And he's pretty relatable.

I found this puzzle very easy at the top half and more difficult on the lower part. Result: pretty normal time to solve.

Nancy 6:13 PM  

@Joe D, @GILL et al -- My nomination for the worst performance ever to garner a Best Actor or Best Actress Academy Award is Katherine Hepburn in "Morning Glory." If you're in need of convincing, WATCH THIS.

Yes, I know acting styles have evolved over the years, but I mean really!

Joe Dipinto 6:53 PM  

@Z – Probably River Phoenix or Dean Stockwell, they were both better than KK. I only saw clips from "Tucker" but Martin Landau also looked pretty good. Alec Guinness I have no idea about. It doesn't really matter: KK wasn't playing a character, he was just doing shtick, and he wasn't good at it.

Photomatte 7:05 PM  

I liked this theme a lot, mostly because I haven't seen it before and because each number was used only once. Didn't even notice the 40 Across answer rhymes with 4-0. McDoubles was a challenge for a second since I also never eat at McDonald's and since I thought, "wait, isn't there already a double burger at McDonald's called a ...... Big Mac?" But that was the only real Huh answer for me.
As a Stephen King fan, I was happy to see Rex's mention of The Shining. I wonder if Rex knows the outside scenes were filmed at Timberline Lodge in Oregon (on Mt Hood, where there's skiing all year 'round thanks to the glacier) and the inside scenes were filmed in Colorado.

GILL I. 7:38 PM  

Nancy 6:13....I actually thought about adding Katherine Hepburn in "Morning Glory" but I thought someone might throw a too ripe tomato my way. She was Soooooo good in "The Philadelphia Story" with yummylicious Cary Grant....She played a socialite like nobody could. I also loved her in "The Lion In Winter" alongside another yummylicious, Peter O'toole.
Well...I guess we DO have the same taste. Now, if only @kitchef would join our table and share some foie gras with two ladies who know their stuff.

Smith 7:55 PM  

Back to regular under average time. Done on train this morning. Solved as totally themeless. Did not, not, not get the theme so kinda dnf here if grokking the theme is part of solving.

Saw Company with Katrina Lenk and Patti Lupone, wow! More to life than xwords.

Wordle today took until line 5. Not as smart as yd, line 3.

TAB2TAB 8:04 PM  

Wow, felt much more like a Monday than a Wednesday and correspondingly similar solve time, new Wednesday record, woo hoo!

Anonymous 8:05 PM  

Joe D
ROE: Phoenix was great; Christine Lahti was better.
MTTM: Stockwell was fantastic. Probably deserved the hardware. But he was upstaged by Mercedes Ruhel. If Diane Wiest has two Oscars, Ruehl should have twenty-two.

Grant’s was the standout performance inThe Philadelphia Story. The Academy gave Stewart the Oscar because they had so badly erred the year before giving it to Gable instead of the boy from Indiana, Pa.
Hepburn’s performance? As always, overwrought and nauseating.

Joe Dipinto 8:26 PM  

@Nancy – that's pretty bad. I never saw "Morning Glory" but I just read the synopsis on Wikipedia: she's playing a wanna-be actress and she's acting all actressy, so in a way I could believe it. I've met people like that IRL.

Anonymous 9:01 PM  

D’oh! Donat was the undeserving( and surprise) winner in 39. Ugh. Tired. Sorry. Anyway, the larger point stands: Stewart deserved it not Donat.or Gable.

GILL I. 9:12 PM  

Anonymizes 8:05. I will end my Siskel and Ebert interpretation by saying we should all gather in a movie theater with a huge bag of buttered popcorn and watch back to back movies with the worst and best Oscar nominees. I will then invite all to my abode for a classic "Mudslide" made with the Kahlua my neighbor made and gave me for Christmas....It is delicious! We can have a bodacious fight/discussion/ happy hour and @Nancy can provide horse duvers. Any takers?

Anonymous 9:53 PM  

Despite your disparaging anonymize, I’m in.
But why the Hepburn of drinks— the grotesque mudslide— instead of a Talisker? I

JC66 10:16 PM  


Count me in (I'll b ring the gin and vermouth).

WordSleuth 10:30 PM  

Anybody having trouble connecting to the Thurs. puzzle through the app? Seems to be offline -- unless the problem is my usually reliable tablet.

GILL I. 10:53 PM  

Anonymizes 9:53. Because I put some bodacious Belgian chocolate in it and then I have the audacity to add some chocolate shavings in the drink. You're welcome.
@JC 10:16. You can bring anything you like but I do have gin and vermouth. I'll also save you some Talisker if you so have the itch for it.

Zed 12:05 AM  

@Wordsleuth - I had no problem on my iPad.

thefogman 9:23 AM  

This is just bad.

spacecraft 10:53 AM  

I had exactly the same reaction as OFF: "So what?" Only I saw the trick right away with KEVINKLINE. No other reason for those numbers to be there, and I said to myself, "Please tell me that's not IT!"

It was.

And yes, it was an easy solve...sorta. I naturally plugged in exitS for the ends [of mazes??]. Yeah, GOALS are ends. So the "of mazes" was nothing more than an anemic attempt to take this puzzle out of Monday. Well. it worked. I also "oversaw" when I rushed to enter COals for "Hot_____." By that time I was feeling as though I was being raked over them.

Also: what's a "GASTROPUB?"
Also: what're MCDOUBLES? Never saw that one.

You get the IDEA. This baby was better left on the drawing table. MCDOUBLE-bogey.

Burma Shave 12:40 PM  


THE THROB from THE WOOD makes BARB howl,
but she's not LAID until THE DEED'S DONE.


Diana, LIW 2:35 PM  

I ScARFed before I SNARFed. One of my very few changes.

Why so little love for a lovely little puzzle that never hurt anyone?

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords
PS - I've eaten at a GASTROPUB, but never had a MCDOUBLE, or much of a McAnything since high school

leftcoaster 4:27 PM  

Filled in the grid correctly without lookups or errors. But the numbers in the clues, presumably RHYMING in the theme, made no sense to me.

SW was more of a struggle, but I liked the long downs there and in the NE. ROADFLARE and GASTROPUB (?) were favorites. Liked VILLE and ETUDE, TOO.

URKEL gets the nerd-of-the-day award.

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