Suburb about 20 miles WNW of Boston / THU 1-13-22 / Political correspondent Mystal / Mas Que classic Brazilian song from the 1960s / 2003 Pixar animated adventure / 1993 Warner Bros. family drama / young adult series about a 14-year-old detective

Thursday, January 13, 2022

Constructor: Karen Lurie

Relative difficulty: Medium 

THEME: SPOILER ALERT (20A: Important warning before you answer 32-, 40- and 52-Across) — famous movies appear in the grid as spoilers (i.e. descriptions of the endings, all of which contain characters and verbs that appear in the movie titles):

Theme answers:
  • THEY FOUND NEMO (32A: 2003 Pixar animated adventure) ("Finding Nemo)
  • SHE KILLED BILL (40A: 2004 Quentin Tarantino martial arts film) ("Kill Bill")
  • HE FREED WILLY (52A: 1993 Warner Bros. family drama) ("Free Willy")
Word of the Day: DEVI (53D: Goddess in the Hindu pantheon) —
Devī /ˈdvi/ (Sanskrit: देवी) is the Sanskrit word for 'goddess'; the masculine form is devaDevi and deva mean 'heavenly, divine, anything of excellence', and are also gender-specific terms for a deity in Hinduism. (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...

• • •
This is a very cute idea for a theme. If you're ever gonna put your revealer in the *first* position, this is the place to do it. What's great about the revealer is that it doesn't reveal the gimmick, exactly. Or, if it does, a little, you're still left to wonder what movie is being referred to and exactly how the SPOILER is going to be described. I can tell you that [2003 Pixar animated adventure] was not enough for me to instantly guess "Finding Nemo," so I was relying on the "spoiler" to help me out, which really slowed me down. On the other hand, if you know the movie from the description (as I did with "Kill Bill"), then figuring out the "spoiler" was maybe a bit easier. But honestly I was not expecting the blunt hilarity of the spoilers. The fact that they all simply use words that are already in the title actually baffled me with its simplicity. It's like an anti-trick; I go looking for something complicated, but nope, HE FREED WILLY, that's it, that's the plot. There's a real "why did the chicken cross the road?" vibe to the whole concept. Extremely literal, which made it legitimately funny to me. The titles of those movies are almost spoilers in themselves, the whole concept of "spoilers" for those movies is comically redundant. The movies are all legit famous, too, which is nice. If you're gonna base your theme around proper nouns of any kind, it's nice to keep them right out over the plate where the vast majority of solvers can get at them. This theme is my kind of dumb joke. Approved.


The puzzle was probably a little on the easy side overall, but, ALAS, I am me and therefore I made things difficult on myself by screwing up a small answer, which led to a big hassle. Once SPOILER ALERT went in, TSETSE was not far behind, and after LIAM went in, I had -A--E at (31A: Interruption), so of course I wrote in ... PAUSE. Yes I took the road less traveled by, and that got me lost, cold and hungry, thanks, Frost. That mistake was compounded by my having no clue about two of that mistake's crosses. 15D: Jump scares, in horror movies (STAPLE) was completely mystifying, as I assumed they were looking for a technical term. I had STARTS at first (since "to start" means, well, "to jump when you are scared," among other things. But then I pulled that and was just stuck. I have to say that the preposition in that clue really really matters, and that if it had been "for" instead of "in," I might've had a shot. I don't know why such a tiny change would've mattered so much. I think the comma (?!) in the clue is telling me that "jump scares" is a type of thing, an example of a thing, not the answer itself, but I dunno man, oof. That hurt. Also I couldn't get SHORES to save my life (11D: They're constantly lapped). Not until I ran the alphabet at the "H" position. I had S-ORES but was stuck because I could not conceive how OHS were "quizzical" (16A: Quizzical cries). I mean, now, if I force it, I can do a "quizzical" "Oh!??!" but there is not a tight connection between "quizzical" and "Oh" At All. Having PAUSE instead of LAPSE made the Wonder Woman answer I wanted, which was the correct answer (POWER-POSING), not fit, so I thought "... is POWER-UPPING a thing??" Thankfully I didn't think that for long. All this nonsense because of PAUSE (and an ambiguous clue preposition, and a dubious "quizzical").

Otherwise, the only difficulty came from names, which is absolutely normal for me. 90% of the time if I'm struggling, a proper noun is involved. Today's unknowns didn't slow me down much, but yeesh, ACTON??? ACTON??? ACTON makes NATICK look famous. I also didn't know ELIE Mystal. He writes for The Nation, it looks like. Hard to get a quick read on him as he doesn't have a wikipedia page. He wrote "Allow Me to Retort: A Black Guy's Guide to the Constitution," which I now want to add to my aspirational reading pile for 2022. So we got a new member of Team ELIE, it looks like. He could be the sole member of Team MYSTAL if any constructor would be so bold. Think about it. 

I don't understand why the NW corner is as bad as it is. I mean, it's tiny, so maybe no one cares, but you gotta polish every nook and cranny, and I submit that if your tiny 3x4 section has ANO in it, along with at least two other repeaters, you can do better. Here, I did this in 10 seconds without the aid of software:

I haven't checked the rest of the grid, maybe I duplicated a word, but the point is that every answer in my version is better than every answer in the original. Fight your software! Make things nice, even in the lonely forgettable corners of the grid. 

  • 4D: Chimichurri ingredient (PARSLEY) — racking my brain to come up with foods starting "PAR-," I wrote in PARSNIP. If your chimichurri is too thin, add PARSNIP! 
  • 7D: ___ Tesfaye, a.k.a. The Weeknd (ABEL) — his new album DAWNFM (6) is so good:
  • 19A: "The sweetest joy, the wildest ___ is love": Pearl Bailey ("WOE") — I see this all over the quote websites, but I can't find a source. Pearl Bailey was an amazing actress and singer and writer but I don't know where this is from. I've got a couple of Pearl Bailey albums, and I recently picked up one of her autobiographies, "The Raw Pearl," which I am now gonna throw on my aspirational reading pile for 2022 right next to ELIE Mystal's book.
  • 58A: Texas is the largest U.S. producer of these (OATS) — wow, if you wanna make your OATS clue really, really hard, that is one way to do it. Number of connections between Texas and OATS in my brain prior to today: zero. Unless we're talking Warren OATES, who was in a bunch of westerns, some of which had to have been shot in Texas ... yup, here he is in 1982's "The Border," which was set in El Paso:

Seems appropriate to end on a movie note. See you tomorrow.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Donkos 6:45 AM  

I had sevi instead of devi. So frees instead of freed. a naticular cross if I ever saw one

Lewis 6:52 AM  

The empty grid looks kinda like a yawning face, but this debut puzzle was anything but a yawner for me. What a cool idea for a theme!

Between vague cluing and things I didn’t know, this put up some good resistance. Truly, give me a hill to climb at the end of the week, and you’ve put me in a good mood, whether I summit or not.

I love the irony of SPOILER ALERT being just that, giving away right at the beginning what the theme answers would do. And I love that the theme is funny, to add to the good mood.

CUBIC reminded me of our friend, the wombat, I liked seeing LAPSE crossing the answer to [They’re constantly lapped], and he first alternative theme movie to hit me – “Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner?” – doesn’t exactly fit the pattern of this puzzle, but it made me warmly smile when it conjured the image of Sidney Poitier. RIP, sir.

Thank you, Karen. This was a most lovely solving experience for me!

SouthsideJohnny 6:54 AM  

Well, I could tell just by scanning the clues that this one was not going to be for me. Mas Que NADA,, RAMI Malik, ABEL Tesfaye, LIAM Gallagher . . . THEY FOUND NEMO, SHE KILLED BILL . . .yea, right. And what the hell is a NO HO ? I stumbled around the grid for a while, got south of the equator and threw in the towel. Enjoy, all ye trivia aficionados, this dud’s for you !

Conrad 6:57 AM  

Most of the same overwrites as @Rex, plus one big one: I thought -- briefly -- that Texas was the biggest producer of hATS.

CF 7:06 AM  

Got sidetracked early on, when I spotted the theme and recognized Finding Nemo, which I have seen, and confidently plunked in "Dory FOUND NEMO". Well, she did, right? Then spent a bunch of time wondering what proper names would go with the other movies, which I've never seen. (Pam KILLED BILL? Ed FREED WILLY?) Figured it out eventually but this took me a lot longer than it ought to have.

Mel Brooks 7:08 AM  

surprised that, even with the clip, rex didn't note that the badges quote as given isn't from Sierra Madre, but instead from Blazing Saddles

kitshef 7:10 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.

If you believe the NW corner sets the tone for the puzzle, well … ADO, ASAP, NADA, ANO. And yet today, that was really the worst part of the whole puzzle. The rest was pretty good.

Hand up for pAuSE before LAPSE and for the side-eye at OHS.

Zed 7:12 AM  

I got ELIE Mystal from the crosses. The name doesn’t look the least bit familiar. I finished the puzzle before Rex had posted so I opened Twitter. The post showing was from 10 hours ago and was a retweet of a post by ELIE Mystal. Alrighty then. That’s just weird serendipity.
Then there was the serendipity of seeing GWEN STEFANI in the puzzle clued by her transition/break-up album after having just bemoaned her doing country with her new boy toy a few days ago. Yikes! I think Shortz is stalking me.

It is always hard for me to like a PPP based theme, but these “SPOILERs” are so absurd that they are laugh out loud funny. SHE KILLS BILL is the most guffaw worthy in its SPOILERity. And I’m sure somebody will admit to not knowing about at least one of these movies (Free Willy is nearly 30 after all), but these titles are about as ubiquitous as movie titles can be. Not a huge fan, but as PPP themes go this is probably the best

No problem imagining quizzical OHS. Often quizzical OHS are followed by “really,” but not necessarily. I had a harder time imagining OATS, running the alphabet through OArS and OAkS before the flicker of rooibos TEA tickled the deep recesses. I had spent a couple of precious nanoseconds wistfully hoping that rooibos grew on Mauna kEA, but alas, no medicinal Hawaiian TEA today.

Lolcat Lisa 7:16 AM  

I was really hoping for 45A to be ATHOL. Because....ATHOL.

Son Volt 7:21 AM  

Not sure which is worse - Kevin Kline’s emoting or this puzzle. Trivia based and absurdly half-baked for a Thursday.

Hard pass on this one.

Joaquin 7:31 AM  

According to Google, it is 19 miles from Natick to ACTON. I decided to make the drive; on the way I picked up ABEL, DEVI, RAMI, ELIE, LIAM, and a random CLERIC. By the time we arrived, I had forgotten all their names and likely will not recognize any of 'em if we meet again.

Trey 7:35 AM  

Nice puzzle and nice theme. I cannot think how good this would have been on a Sunday with a larger grid and more theme answers. "Simba became a king", "The raised Arizona", "Frodo destroyed the ring", "There was blood", etc etc

POWER POSING is new to me. My first thought was something to do with standing akimbo, but that was never in the cards as the crosses quickly eliminated that.

Best clue was for CUBIC, relating it to Rubik. Is the ENOLA clue fair? I knew it because I saw the show on Netflix, but it seems too niche for the general population.

Anonymous 7:46 AM  

I’d never heard of Acton, MA until this morning. Would’ve gone with English historian Lord Acton, the author of a number of political bon mots, including this gem, “Federalism is the best curb on democracy. [It] assigns limited powers to the central government. Thereby all power is limited. It excludes absolute power of the majority.” People trying to federalize our elections could learn from him. Nice to see ano properly clued. Shortz has gotten so much grief for the tilde-less Spanish year he’ll probably keep using the Portuguese to stave off the haters. Think of it as the new National Recovery Administration.

thfenn 7:46 AM  

Agree the theme was fun, and this was a perfect case of the reveal helping solve the themers, so enjoyed that as well. Another PPP heavy grid that ended up being OK. Did think the fill was a good deal less scintillating. SEVEN as an upside-down L? Ugh, tho maybe that just fits in with the puzzle's 'literalness'. And Texas is the largest US producer of pretty much anything produced in Texas, unless it's also produced in Alaska, so there's that. But if we're supposed to discern from this that Texas produces more oats than any other state, count me surprised. Thought the Dakotas and the midwest were our oat producers.

Alexander 7:48 AM  

Elie Mystal’s name didn’t stand out, but his photo sure did! I see him all around Twitter. He posted about his reference too.

Also, Acton has a population of 24,000 compared to Natick’s whopping 37,000…

Mike Herlihy 7:59 AM  

@Lolcat - Athol was my first thought based on the A and O, but it's too far from Boston. Alas...

OffTheGrid 8:03 AM  

I would at this point put this one in the running for POW. The theme was certainly clever and amusing. If this had been a quiz I would have failed miserably. But I had fun working my way through it all. The cluing is interesting. Crosses gave me enough to infer some of the PPP and throwing in the S for unknown plurals helped break it open.

Shirley F 8:06 AM  

In autumn of 1993 a friend and i took a vacation to the Lassen Peak area in California. We rarely took vacations -- work and finances precluded them. Days were spent hiking and just driving around to take in the incredible scenery. Nights -- well, a lot of reading was being done. So one night she suggested a movie. There was only one theater in the area and it had just one screen. "Free Willy" was showing. A kids' movie, but we were desperate.
We got our tickets and snacks and walked into the fairly large theater. We were literally the only people there. It was a nice change from the usual crowded, cramped indy theaters in the Bay Area. So we found perfect seats and settled in.
Two other customers entered as the trailers began. They sat right behind us. Yes, the two seats precisely behind ours. We exchanged a glance confirming that it seemed odd.
Then as Free Willy began, one of the two began talking to the other, and in a normal voice, not a whisper. When this continued non-stop, I turned around and objected. It turned out one of the people was blind, and the other was relating the events of the movie.
Commendable, but with hundreds of seats available, why choose the two seats behind the only other customers when you know you'll be talking through the entire movie?
My friend and I relocated and did enjoy the movie, though as we learned later, the life of the real Willy was not a good one.

To this day "free Willy" is our tagline for when people who can't be criticized (due to a physical condition) act rudely or without consideration for others.

jbh 8:09 AM  

Noho = North of Houston Street in NYC -- and Houston is pronounced HOW-ston, not HUE-ston.

Actually wracked my brain for a while trying to figure out 'Upside-down L on a calculator' !! Thought it was going to be some sort of mathematical function, like SIN/COSINE/TAN
A real D'OH moment when I realized it was SEVEN.


Fun puzzle!

J. Barrett 8:11 AM  

On April 19, 1775, Isaac Davis commanded the company of minutemen from Acton (then part of Concord) at the Battle of Concord. When asked by his commander to take his company and lead the advance against the British gathered at the Old North Bridge, he responded, "I'm not afraid to go, and I haven't a man that's afraid to go." As a consequence, he and some others from his company were the very first killed in the war. Davis was also first American officer killed in the War, and was the model for the iconic Minuteman sculpture that now stands at the Old North Bridge, and has been reproduced graphically countless times even to the present day. When you look today at various representations of a minuteman, you are more likely than not looking at Isaac Davis.

Davis and members of his company from Action gave their lives so that Michael Sharp would have the freedom to trash their hometown almost 250 years later.

Twangster 8:13 AM  

I had NOEL instead of LIAM, which (absurdly) led me to THEYFOUNDNELL. Had to google a couple of clues to sort things out.

mmorgan 8:15 AM  

Nifty puzzle, clever and fun. I knew, just knew, that Rex would make a connection between Acton and Natick.

Tom T 8:18 AM  

This morning I learned (the hard way) that BADGES is just one letter off from BADGaS. Thanks, ELIa Mystal.

I, too, wondered about the prevalence in Texas of OArS and OAkS -- and OAfS. But I settled for OATS (and their Western movie namesake OATerS).

Lots of Hidden Diagonal Words (HDW) in this grid. My favorite in a throwback to my childhood, when a tennis outfit was commonly referred to as TOGS (begins at 32A and moves NE, cleverly connecting the beginning of THEY FOUND NEMO and SPOILER ALERT.

Great theme, medium plus solve for me on a Thursday, and the dnf ELIa.

amyyanni 8:21 AM  

@Lolcat. I know (Athol)! But I know Acton because I graduated from Maynard High, which is right next to Acton.
Elie Mystal is a frequent guest on MSNBC. He's smart, funny, and outspoken only begins to describe him.
Yes, another pause before LAPSE.
Had aka before NEE, so tried to make ABODE into some kind of booK.
All's well that ends well, and this one did just that.
Wintry weather on the way to the ATL. We are rediscovering the joys of the fireplace.

Liveprof 8:22 AM  

I saw Free Willy shortly after seeing Reservoir Dogs, so it was wonderfully jarring to see the actor Michael Madsen play a normal dad (in Willy) after playing a sadistic monster (in Dogs). There was a headline in The Onion long ago that was something like: Man in Pringles Ad Convicted of Murder in Law and Order.

Zed 8:30 AM  

Wow. Kevin Kline catching another stray. I’m hardly a huge fan, but all you KK Haters seem a wee bit over the top in your opinions. Fish scores a 96 among critics on the tomato meter, not an easy feat. Going through Rotten Tomatoes, he has a fair number of flops and a fair number of successful turns and his comedy chops, especially, seem to be held in generally high esteem. I’m not a huge movie fan, but I have never seen a KK performance I didn’t enjoy, not even French Kiss.

@Mel Brooks - I don’t know if Rex watches the entire clips before posting them, so he might not have noticed that the clue isn’t from Sierra Madre. What most people knew back in 1974 was that you were lifting lines and motifs and clichés from assorted westerns to satirize them and probably recognized that that line wasn’t original to you.

@Donkos - Usually there would be some hint to which tense was needed in the clue, but no such help today. I do note that all three SPOILERs are in the past tense, but that’s a pretty subtle indicator that the D is wanted and not the S.

Joel Palmer 8:39 AM  

This one kicked my ass

albatross shell 8:43 AM  

NO HO is a sad Santa or what makes @JOHNX lonely at night.

NOHO is next to Soho in NYC.

I held off until ANGLED. I really liked the clue for that one.

bigsteve46 8:45 AM  

The worst ever!! Proper names run amok. Everything that a quality crossword puzzle is not. Maybe I need a new hobby. I guess the idea at the NYT is to try to attract a new generation of solvers by loading a puzzle with pop culture crap. Well, at least I have the rest of the newspaper to read.

Louise 8:49 AM  

@7:46- I think you mean nationalize but yeah, no doubt. Lord Acton is more famously known for saying “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

Anonymous 9:24 AM  

Coming up with other examples of these themers isn't easy. The title and the plot have to involve some sort of quest or challenge. THEY SAVED PVT RYAN might work (would need 16 grid or Sunday).

tompdavis 9:26 AM  

Yes, ANO is terrible, but at least it has a fresh clue that doesn't skew to a unmentionable body part!

Anonymous 9:28 AM  

When we visited Walden Pond in Concord, MA, a few years ago inside the 10 foot x 15 foot replica of HD Thoreau's famous cabin there was an actor dressed as Thoreau and answering people's questions. My wife said, "Wow, this cabin is smaller than I expected." The actor broke character and replied, "I feel pretty comfortable here, since it is about the same size as my tiny apartment in Acton."

Dan 9:34 AM  

What’s the new avatar? Missing the anti-dook pic.

Beezer 9:35 AM  

BAD GAS? We don’t need no stinkin’ BAD GAS!

Yes. That is what I put. @Z, if that is from Blazing Saddles…very appropriate.

Anonymous 9:39 AM  

"Am I missing a slang term? 5A - alternatives to dogs is "brats"?

JD 9:42 AM  

Started last night and gave up, but eventually finished it this morning with some concentration and a few WAGs. Fun theme, great theme, but the Stuff You Don't Know and some of the cluing sucks a little of the joy out.

Rami and Abel are tough enough alone if you don't know them, but side by side in a somewhat tight block? Eh.

The clue for Acton is "20 miles WNW of Boston." The direction and distance don't matter if you've never been there, anywhere near it, or know someone there. If you've never played D&D, you won't know any of its categories, so why PPP it? But the one thing that more people know that would be helpful surrounding Acton, where a little specificity would helpful, Aphid, gets the vague Green Bugs? Why? How about Little suckers to roses?

But the theme and reveal were great fun and these things might just be all on me.

@J. Barrett, Oh my! Great info. @Anon 9:20, That's very funny. Did you get the answer from that memory?

Nancy 9:45 AM  

Let's see. Martial arts film. Horror film jump scares. Animated adventure. Young adult series. Wonder Woman stance. Dungeons and Dragons. "The Weeknd". Family drama. #1 song hit. I've left out all the PPP names, but y'all know what and where they are. Like all sitting in each other's laps.

In the immortal words of some of the figures "immortalized" in this puzzle: BAM! ZAP! CRASH! SPLAT! That's the sound of the puzzle hitting my wall today. No, I didn't solve this garbage -- I didn't even come close to trying to finish it. You are not going to drag me kicking and screaming into your seemingly beloved comic strip/action movie world, Karen, because I won't let you. Go inflict this misery on someone else.

mathgent 9:47 AM  

Jeff Chen explains well that these aren't spoilers. Bad theme, even taking Joaquin's Dictum into account.

I've heard the stinkin' badges line quoted many times. Always as coming from The Treasures of Sierra Madre.

Very little sparkle, very little crunch, very little fun.

Tim Carey 9:53 AM  

Fantastic and interesting post right up until... it wasn't.

bocamp 9:53 AM  

Thx Karen; what a jewel! :)


Loved the theme; it even helped with the solve.

On my wavelength in many ways, but strangely, seemed to take much longer than usual.

This was the 3rd time today that a LEAP of logic cropped up, in one context or another.

Getting CUBIC & ENOLA right off was very helpful in the center.

Had BabY OIL (hi @jbh (8:09 AM)), which caused a holdup in that area. Mom drenched my sis and me with it at the beach back in the 40's & 50's. :(

ACTON / CLERIC were both unknowns, but what else could it be but a 'C'.

Had a semi-malapop at 27A (thot SPIRE but didn't enter it, as the crosses wouldn't like it).

POWER POSING was the toughest one to get; had to wait on most of the crosses. (first thot was akimbo (hi @Trey (7:35 AM))

All said and done, a very satisfying adventure; liked it a ton. :)

@Eniale, puzzlehoarder, okanaganer 👍 for 0's
td pg -1 / yd 0* / dbyd 0* (last word)

Peace ~ Compassion ~ Tolerance ~ Kindness to all 🕊

TJS 9:57 AM  

I dont care what any ouzzle says, Texas is the largest producer of "oafs" and always has been.

Finally an enjoyable puzzle this week. Knew a few names I didn't know I knew, which always kinda freaks me out, in a good way.

Starting the day with my personal "Paul Simon Greatest Hits". Yes !

Have a good one, y'all.

Anonymous 9:59 AM  

Acton Bell. Pen name of Anne Bronte.

Grill Master Ronnie 10:02 AM  

Bratwursts instead of hot dogs. You can still had chili, cheese and a generous glug of mustard to either.

Frantic Sloth 10:09 AM  

Great. For once I heeded the SPOILER ALERT warning, so technical DNF.


pmdm 10:11 AM  

jbh: But how do you pronounce Mosholu? More precisely, which syllable gets the stress?

Now about the puzzle. I did not look ab the byline (no spoiler alert there) and not so far into the puzzle I though it must be a debut puzzle. So many debut puzzles are stuffed with PPP (it seems to me). So I would agree with Nancy: this puzzle is garbage. I might have finished it by looking up a lot of the PPP but, man, did I dislike it. Almost as much as my first medical exam in decades yesterday.

Whatsername 10:20 AM  

A fun puzzle that had debut constructor written all over it. I’m a big film fan so appreciated the clever IDEA of the theme but would’ve FOUND a lot more to REVEL in without the SPOILER of so many Proper Names and such trivial trivia. When your long themer (32A) is a proper name crossed by seven PPP downs - NOHO, GWEN, PARSLEY, OAK, ENOLA, LIAM, POSING and i’m not even counting CUBIC - well, I’m a little AVERSE to being a big fan of that.

Being a child of the. Midwest, my eyebrows went on high ALERT at the clue for OATS. I didn’t believe Texans produce the most because it appears they don’t. A quick fact check revealed a somewhat different ranking. 


Carola 10:21 AM  

For me, with 20A in place, THEY FOUND NEMO was laugh-out-loud funny, the other two SPOILERs not so much, lacking as they did the delight of the surprise. Nice job on including THEY, SHE, and HE.

Do-overs: eHS, POWER stance. Help from previous puzzles: GWEN STEFANI. No idea: ABEL, ACTON, DEVI, ELIE, LIAM.

I used to go berserk over SPOILERs, whether from reviews or oversharing friends, bearing grudges for ages over plot revelations (The Crying Game!). But since my short-term memory has gone to the dogs, all is copacetic. Go ahead and tell me what happened to BILL or WILLY - I rest easy, knowing that by next week I'll have forgotten.

@Joaquin 7:31 - Lol!

@J Barrett 8:11 - Thank you for the ACTON history.

Anonymous 10:33 AM  

ACTON has been an answer a few dozen times in the last twenty-five years in the Times. This is the first time the Boston suburb was a clue. The vast majority were clued for ACT ON as in follow, once for Lord ACTON, once for ACTON Bell, and a few times for a London suburb fwiw.

Smith 10:35 AM  

Hard one. Three movies I haven't seen, but the titles are "in the language" so they were not hard to get. hATS before OATS. ANGLED SPIRES sounds like a TOWER CEO LAPSE.

sixtyni yogini 10:38 AM  

Loved 🥰 this one. Very clever - makes for enjoyable solve imho.
Kill Bill (fave movie) was the giveaway, so it went fast after that. Without the theme answers to counter the vague clueing it would have been tough.🤗

Joseph Michael 10:45 AM  

So Texas is not the biggest U.S. producer of OAFS?

Guess I won’t bother to see Finding Nemo, Kill Bill, or Free Willy. Any other ways you want to wreck my day?

How about wanting me to pretend that PERF is a word, that OHS are quizzical cries, and that an upside down L as a 7 isn’t the most condescending clue of the year. And the Oscar goes to…Upside-Down 7. Upside-Down 7 could not be here tonight, so the award will be accepted by Winter Hrs. In Seattle.

Liked the clues for SHORES, WOE, and DIAL. But otherwise this puzzle left much to be desired. I’ll be out in the lobby eating popcorn if anybody is looking for me.

Greater Fall River Committee for Peace & Justice 10:45 AM  

Yuck. All I got was the NW corner, to begin. And a bit of the East. Then I started writing in things that came into my head as if I'd maybe heard them somewhere, or as if they were related to the answer but not closely enough, and it pretty much fell. I had seen the names of all the movies, hadn't seen a one. Last to fall was north central, because I had put in frying pan instead of OMELET.

Oh, speaking of movies I never bothered to watch, I'm playing for a wedding next week and the bride picked all music from Twilight. As I understand the plot maybe it is no worse an omen for a marriage than Lohengrin, I'm told the male lead is a nice vampire, as vampires go. But Lohengrin has tunes!

Joe Welling 10:49 AM  

Isn't Texas the largest consumer of oats? According to this source, Texas is ranks 7th in production.

I'm with the consensus on the great theme today.

Frantic Sloth 10:50 AM  

Oh, I kid today's puzzle.

And the next time I obey a SPOILER ALERT will be the first time I obey a SPOILER ALERT.

Despite (or maybe because of) all the PPP, I mostly enjoyed this one.
Nothing extreme stood out, except ADO ANO so close together. But, I just pretended it was a character in "Brazil!"*

@Shirley F and anyone else who cares to offer an explanation:
Just what is it with these people who have to be right next to someone in movie theaters or (my personal bugaboo) public restroom stalls?? Not your point, I realize, but that's never stopped me before. 😉

*South American adaptation of "Oklahoma!"


@Z from yesterday - thanks. Learned a new (to me) rule today. 🙄
Wordle 208 4/6


Ethan Taliesin 10:51 AM  

If this were an AV Club puzzle, 2-Down would have been NUT.

Anonymous 10:53 AM  

The puzzle uses the Blazing Saddles version of the "badges" line - points for those who caught that one:

TJS 10:57 AM  

"Boy, that's a great picture of Rex !"

"Oh ? Really ?"

What's the problem with "oh"?

albatross shell 10:57 AM  

Actually you got the wrong movie. The quote is "derived" from that great movie but the exact quote is from a different one. I'll let some else come up with it. Oops someone did already.

I had badgas too for awhile. Ha!
Same for baby oil.

albatross shell 11:00 AM  

Hotdogs and bratwurst.

Whatsername 11:02 AM  

@thefenn (7:46) “Thought the Dakotas and the midwest were our oat producers.” You’re absolutely right. Texas is not the largest producer. South Dakota, North Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Iowa generally make up the top five, according to multiple sources.

jae 11:13 AM  

Mostly easy except for the NE where WOE did not come easily and made it tough to get the Wonder Woman answer which was kind of a WOE. Pretty amusing, liked it.

JD 11:18 AM  

@TJS, I'm thinking that's not a cry. It's a low key comment. Unless someone is in shock that it's as good has he looks.

@Frantic, I was ready to ask if that was the first total goose egg Brain/Party Favor (I just laughed typing Party Favor ... laughed a second time). A recent Spoiler Alert I had was when I tried to pour some milk on a bowl of Oat(meal) and the milk came out in a chunk. Not kidding.

@Whatsername, The Oat thing, one more reason to NEVER believe the first you read on Google.

C. Bratton 11:23 AM  

ACTON fun fact:

Steve Carell grew up in ACTON, played youth hockey there and, in high school, at the private Middlesex School in neighboring Concord. While playing youth hockey, he would have often faced off against the Natick Comets.

By strange coincidence, Carell and "The Office" co-stars John Krasinki (Jim Halpert), B.J. Novak (Ryan Howard) and Mindy Kaling (Kelly Kapoor) all grew up within a 12 mile radius of one another in the western suburbs of Boston - though only Krasinski and Novak knew one another (as classmates at the same high school).

It is not known whether any of them ever took a school field trip to Schrute Farm in Pennsyvania, however.

Zed 11:24 AM  

This Texas OATS question is interesting. The source a couple of people found references this document (scroll down to page 20). What I don’t know is why Texas plants the most acres of OATS but “harvests” only a relatively small percentage. My best guess is that this chart is listing crops harvested for human consumption and Texas is producing most of its OATS for animal consumption, but I don’t see anything in this document to support that guess. I’m curious where the clue is from and if there is some other source for the claim.
Alternatively, Alaska doesn’t seem to produce any OATS anymore making Texas the largest state by area that produces OATS. According to this Alaska hasn’t produced OATS since 2017. If that’s the meaning of the clue can we all Boo?

Sandy 11:28 AM  

Husband is from Acton and my in-laws still live there. As soon I saw it I thought oh Rex is going to have something to say about this.

Anonymous 11:29 AM  

I had my favorite wrong answer that I've ever put in the grid today. For 2D I initially put nut instead of SAD, and had a good laugh when I realized how well it works even though it wasnt what they were looking for

RooMonster 11:30 AM  

Hey All !
This one played quite tough for me, although seeing the finished product, I'm not sure why. Couldn't figure out the Revealer, thought the clued movies would be titled with synonyms, as I had CANCELLED BILL in for SHE KILLED BILL, thinking cancelled=kill, because 1) it fit, 2) didn't have a clue about the Revealer.

North Center holding me up, as that was a tough little section. BROOD, BRATS, RABIES, OMELET all having tough/vague clues. Did know RAMI, but not ABEL. Put in Rex's PARSnip, which eventually led to SPOILER ALERT, so decided to erase the CANCELLED I had in, and was able to progress from there to figuring out the theme.

Had to Goog in the NE, as the white spaces were mocking me. Just got plum stuck. I can only reread clues so much until I get antsy. So looked up Oasis's Gallagher. LIAM. OK. That jump started me again, and was able to finish. But still, a DNF, as the Almost There message popped up. Dang. Turns out I had RUBIk/kAY. And was actually going to complain that RUBIk was a non-word. Har.

Y'all talking about Blazing Saddles. That would be a non-SPOILER ALERT, as no saddles were burnt. 🤪

Where's @JOHNX to regale us with a story about HE FREED WILLY. Har! That'd be PERF.

TSETSE, long time no see-um. SPIRES and TOWERs, what skyline is Karen seeing?

Another missed ROO opportunity. In Rex's "not great" NW corner, we could've had:
Gets your ROO, plus an opportunity to clue GOER via Monty Python's Wink Wink Nudge Nudge skit. C'mon Karen! 😁

yd -9, should'ves 4

Two F's

egsforbreakfast 11:34 AM  

My reaction was very much like Rex’s, which is unusual for me. But something about the juvenile humor of the themers, and the fact that the real titles are essentially spoiler alerts themselves before you even see the movie, we’ll that’s funny stuff to this AñO.

I actually saw WILLY himself once at the Newport Aquarium in Oregon, where he was nursed to some degree of health before being actually freed. The chief thing I remember is that his dorsal fin was flopped over to the side in a not healthy looking way.

How about They Got Shorty for a themer? I never saw the movie, but since there was a sequel, maybe the better SPOILER ALERT would be They Didn’t Get Shorty.

I had _ATS for the Texas clue, so had to seriously consider bATS, cATS, fATS, hATS, rATS and vATS. I can make some sort of case for each, especially since their production of OATS doesn’t preclude being the leader in any or all of the above.

I thought this was an easy, but absolutely delightful, debut. Thanks Karen Laurie.

Frantic Sloth 11:43 AM  

@JD 1118am The double zero rating only applies when the puzzle is not done at all, and since that has yet to happen, you've seen it here first! These are exciting times to be alive.

@Whatsername 1020am I was going to thank you for the info and the link until I saw - apparently for the first time(??) - what OATS actually look like. Between those blond cockroaches and that "The Weeknd" still shot of the video Rex posted, I'm gonna hurl. 🤣

@Z 1124am As you wish.

puzzlehoarder 11:52 AM  

Not quite two weeks into the New Year and already I'm getting my first dnf. HEFREESWILLY sounded fine to me. I may have considered how odd SEVI looked but I can't remember. I was thinking about what kind of POSe Wonder Woman was striking and resisting ENDEAR because I felt it really didn't fit the clue.

Had I done this on paper maybe I would have looked over the grid and second guessed SEVI on my own. I have no way of knowing because I entered that N of ENDEAR and the phone lowered the boom on me instantly. To compound the defeat it feeds you these patronizing phrases like "so close" or "almost there". That alone is reason not to solve electronically. My only consolation is that after much looking I gave SEVI the side eye. It just didn't look right. Part of the problem for myself was that FREED looks just as wrong as SEVI. It's something of a DOOK just like the word TREED. Yes they're correct but they still look wrong to me. Either way it became obvious that D was the right letter.

Had I noticed that the first two theme entries are past tense I could have saved myself a lot of trouble however that's way more attention to a theme than I would care to commit.

yd -0, dbyd -0

Anonymous 12:08 PM  

Wow! A lot of you folks are really pissy today. Nobody likes every puzzle but JEESH!

GILL I. 12:09 PM  

OH good gravy on baked beans in beantown...ACTON speaks louder than words. At least I got NOHO.
And so my Thursday experience might've included a toss party at @Nancy's wall or......maybe I should eschew some of the ODOR and try to find any SPOILER ALERT in this basket of "never in a million years would Texans be known for OATS."
I decided to gird my loins - arms akimbo- and pose with POWER. Did it work? you ask. Well, yes and no. For starters, the names, as usual, got me in my onerous ANGLE SPIRES. It continued with names splattered hither and yon....I forged ahead.
I eventually see what Karen has done and thought (briefly) this is pretty cool frijoles. All the theme answers got smiles from me. Clever and different I muttered under my breath.
I've seen all these movies because I do that... and so..I liked her idea to change the names around.
I can't, though, get that OATS clue out of my brain. I mean the Lone Star State is known for is BBQ'S or the assassination site for JFK. It's also got plenty of OILS and it's hotter than Hades. BUT OATS?
Ay dios mio....At least you mentioned chimichurri. That sauce is to the Argentines as ketchup is to America. Love me some Argentine.

Anonymous 12:12 PM  

I can't believe so many of you threw away part of your lives looking up OAT stuff.

Whatsername 12:14 PM  

@Z (11:24) OK so you’re saying Texas is the largest in terms of being the largest state that produces oats. I hadn’t thought of it that way but if that is supposed to be the meaning of the clue it would be correct. It’s misleading, but perhaps intentionally so.

Anonymous 12:15 PM  

Jump scare is certainly a term people use, but in my experience they're the sort who use begs the question to mean prompting curioisty instead of its correct meaning. T
he preferred term is cat scare and for good reason: it's from the seminal suspension film Cat People. Anyone who's ever had to use single perf film knows this.

Anonymous 12:20 PM  

Shirley F,
I'm guessing you didnt choose your seats randomly but rather becuase you felkt they gave you the best view of the screen. The people behind you probably thoought your seats were swell as well and took the closest ones available.
Not sure what you mean by someone who can't be criticizised--After alll, you are criticizing them. And in acowardly fashion, that is behind their back so to speak. Not that it matters for one of the party, but your gutlessness and glib desciption of someone unsighted is revolting.

What? 12:22 PM  

@big Steve, add PCC to PPP to describe crossword garbage, never mind which age group it’s directed to.

Anonymous 12:27 PM  

I also didn't know ELIE Mystal.

!!!!! he's a regular on MSfakenewsNBC. you do watch that, right?

Anonymous 12:29 PM  

Anon 12:20 Shirley's post was pretty benign and simply relayed her experience some years ago (without any hint of malice). You on the other hand are just plain rude.

Peter P 12:32 PM  

@Donkos - I had the same issue with sEVI/FREEs, but realized that the other two answers were in the past tense, so this one had to be past, lest Rex's wrath be released for lack of parallelism in the answers.

I enjoyed it. Finished in slightly faster than average Thursday time. It felt like it should have gone faster, and I'm not quite sure where the snags were. PERF was a tough one for me. I sussed it out, but have never heard that slang in real life. I had forgotten FINDING NEMO was a Pixar flick, so I needed a number of crosses to get that. POWER POSING, SHORES,and STAPLE were all stubborn for me, so it looks like the NE corner was my biggest time sink. I got ADE from the Gator part of the clue, having never heard of "haterade." Took me a few seconds to feel confident enough to put down the answer, but couldn't conjure up any other three-letter suffix for

albatross shell 12:35 PM  

I thought of the Alaska solution too. Boo deserved if so.

On the other issue.
Oats for horses are subject to to different regulations than oats for folks. Complicating the situation oat grass (the same plant that produces oats) is grown both for farm animal grazing and harvested as hay for feed. Maybe this is done more in Texas because of its size or other reasons. That grass is harvested before the oats are mature. In any case seems like an editing error. But HAY it got us to the correct answer. Therefore it was a good hint.


mathgent 12:36 PM  

My favorite comments this morning.

Mel Brooks (7:08)
Anon (7:40)
Nancy (9:45)

Whatsername 12:40 PM  

@Shirley F (8:06) For the record, I thought your story was interesting and showed no disrespect to anyone with a disability. Nothing cowardly, gutless, glib or revolting about it.

albatross shell 12:41 PM  

It was only so you would waste your time reading and/or commenting on it. It worked.

Anonymous 12:44 PM  

@Mike Herlihy:
Athol was my first thought

home of Starrett Tools, and other company towns in the area back when the USofA actually made stuff. they still have some presence, much to my surprise, but mostly Down South and Off Shore. used to go through there on the way to Grand Pappy's house in Petersham; one time home to a tony Catholic girl's school ( ). ah those were the days.

albatross shell 12:53 PM  

Be careful using Kline's initials. His middle name is Kilaney. See Blazing Saddles stinkin badges scene.

Anon 12:12 12:59 PM  

@albatross shell. D'OH! I fell for that.

JD 1:02 PM  

@Anon 12:12 pm, What did you do during that time? Not being sarcastic, just curious.

Teedmn 1:14 PM  

Fun puzzle, I loved the theme. I had the hardest time working around 15D's STA__E (like Rex, I wanted STArts there but I kept finding NEMO in the way.)

44D was briefly BODY geL and I thought maybe they made GMCs in Texas because pickups = Texas. OATS, har!

Thanks, Karen Lurie, and congrats on the debut.

The Swedish Chef 1:29 PM  

"Good Eats" did at least one episode on oats. Brown's Scot's accent is said to be the worst ever put to film/video in the haggis segment.

camilof 1:35 PM  

Just in to say I happened to be listening to The Weeknd's Dawn FM while I was reading this blog. Probably not that much of a coincidence though since I've had it on repeat for several days now...

I love when someone posts as Anonymous and goes on to accuse someone else of cowardice. The precious irony!

And also guffawed the theme...

Masked and Anonymous 1:38 PM  

Real cool theme idea. Makes yah wannna think of more examples.
Other possibilities that M&A thought of:
* STUNGHIMBUTGOOD. perfecto. 15-er meat. [based on "The Sting"]
* THEYRAISEDTHETITANIC - kinda long, tho. Maybe go passive voice, with: TITANICISRAISED?
* THEYDIDNTRAISEARIZONA - even longer. sheesh.
* THEREWASBLOOD. Kinda grizzly, tho.

staff weeject picks: ANO & ADO, the NW weeject stack twins. Weeject stacks in all 4 corners … Sweet.
p.s. M&A heartily approves of @RP's policy of re-fillin puzcorners to add more U's. Plus, MIA is obviously faaar superior to ODOR & SAD. ["ODORS? We don't need no stinkin ODORS!"]

ACTON. har [Better clue: { ___ the urge to increase the U-count}.]

Thanx for the spoils of yer labor, Ms. Lurie darlin. And congratz on yer fine debut.

Masked & Anonymo1U [NYT version]
Masked & AnonymoUUs [@RP U-power-posing version]


Anonymous 1:38 PM  

@Z - Albie has part of the answer, the other part is that people plant oats as a cover crop. You finish harvesting your cotton by the end of August, you turn around and plant winter oats just to keep your soil in place until you plow again for next year's cotton. Whether you harvest the hay or not in the spring depends on the price of diesel and labor - you get about 1 ton of hay per acre and $50-75 per ton for the hay. Baling, stacking, delivering costs a lot, then you have to pay to fertilize for what the hay sucked out of the ground, and it might not even be worth baling, just plow it under.

Luker2453 1:39 PM  


Zed 1:41 PM  

@Albatross Shell 12:53 - Noted.

@Whatsername & @Albatross Shell - 331 OATS appearances, 539 OAT appearances, and this is the first time Texas has been mentioned. Compare this to "dobbin," which has been a part of the clue for one or the other 37 times. I see many feed references in clues, and I even see Minnesota and Scotland make clue appearances. But no Texas before today. My guess is that someone ran into a factoid somewhere and didn't really pay close attention. The biggest state thing seems unlikely to me, but we have seen that kind of misdirection before.

Chip Hilton 1:45 PM  

Toughest collection of proper nouns in a long while: RAMI, ABEL, ELIE, ENOLA, DEVI, even LIAM, for a bit. Unlike most contributors, ACTON was my first thought (close friends have their ABODE there). I struggled, but enjoyed the theme.

Zed 1:51 PM  

@Anon1:38 - Would planting it as a cover crop count as "producing" OATS? That report I found didn't have much in the way of a glossary of terms (probably because 99.999% of the people who ever read that report already know how the terms are being used). I'm not going to go look it up again, but I think it was only somewhere around 10 or 15% of the planted acres became harvested acres in Texas. I assume the rest must be either feed or, like you said, ground cover. I also saw somewhere else the claim that 70% of our OATS are actually imported from Canada.

egsforbreakfast 2:01 PM  

The first entry for OATS in is Open Area Test Site. Couldn’ Texas be the leader in producing them? No? OH!!! How about Older Adult Transportation Systems? That’s gotta be it!

Anonymous 2:02 PM  

Anon 12:44
Thank you, thank you, thank you. I know none here knows Starrett, certainly not Rex, but you made my day. Couple of Christmas's ago I gave my dad a pair of Starrett calipers. He doeasnt use tools as much these days but the calipers make an appearance from time to time. Last summer we were at a mchine shop for a small job and the first thing the machinist did was pull out a pair and deliberate whether he had enough meat on the bone to do the work. which reminds me, anyone intersted in a 1975 Triumph Spitfire? Make me an offer ;)

GILL I. 2:20 PM this OATS thing got me thinking and exploring only because I'm home and bored.'s known for planting plenty of OATS for its critters to forage and graze. Evidently OATS can't have any frost on them or they'll shrivel up and become oatmeal. Plus, we all know that Texas is as hot as Hades, so why not grow something. But, that's not all....There's a small town (with, supposedly, a big personality) called Oatmeal. You know what they're known for? You guessed it...OATSmeal. case you were really wondering, Oatmeal, Texas, had the first cheese press in the US of A...!!!!! I have this hankerin' for BRATS and cheddar.
Aren't you glad you asked?

DigitalDan 2:41 PM  

Loved this one. Challenging, but slowly emerging. Those are the best.
I finished up by changing BROT to BRAT. Not a fan of these treats.
ELIE MYSTAL appears frequently on MSNBC, and always has something insightful to say.

Would that moderation could be turned off again. We left-coasters have no chance of engaging in actual repartee with our colleagues. It must also be a chore for somebody.

Unknown 2:51 PM  

@Gill Yep, and for reasons I can't remember, I drove thru Oatmeal a dozen years ago. It's in the Texas hill country northwest of Austin. Anyway, I took pictures of a grain silo painted like an oatmeal container, and a sign at the cemetery: "No outlet." Well duh. This site tells you much more than you probably want to know -

DrBB 2:55 PM  

Raising my hand for PAUSE instead of LAPSE, yup, with the same cascade of problems in the NE. Lucking me, I actually lived in ACTON for a while, so that gave me a grin as well as being a gimme. First time I've seen it in the NYTXW (I also used to live a town over from EDINA in Minnesota, which was a NYTXWD perennial for a long time). DEVI was the Natick for me and got me a DNF. I had FREES not FREED at the cross, and I don't know my Hindu deities from one another. SEVI? DEVI? Who knows? Shoulda realized the themers were all past tense.

Loved the theme, highly original and fun.

Wanderlust 3:25 PM  

Apologies if I've missed a post on this, but did everyone see that the Times issued a correction on its misleading "clean coal" clue from a couple of days ago? Saw this story called "Inside the NY Times' crossword correction on coal." The story calls it a major embarrassment for WS.

(Sorry, I don't know how to hyperlink here.)

JOHN X 3:30 PM  

I’m a popular guy today.

A 3:34 PM  


I was tempted by @Nancy’s wall today. When I saw THEY FOUND NEMO I said out loud “oh, no…that’s it?” Decided to push on, though, through false STArtS and a row instead of a DIN. Hand up for wondering who put the PARSnips in my chimichurri.

For some reason I couldn’t think of those stinking BADGES, which is probably one reason I kept going. Did finally fill in all the squares, and sure enough, they were all words and they crossed. Not much to ENDEAR itself to me. (OK, some were NON words: IRA, SCI, PST, ATTN, and all those names.)

I did notice a few interesting crosses:
constantly lapped SHORES/LAPSE (Hi, @Lewis),
and that BROOD of BRATS.

How many laps in a LAPSE?

Some of the cluing was clever enough to satisfy: Man/ISLE, card readers/SEERS, top suit/CEO. Didn’t really like NEE for “formerly known as” but a liberal application of Joaquin’s Dictum worked as well as BODY OIL.

Bonus almost-themer, prompted by ENDEAR: White Album ballad written in India/I SAID I WOULD I know, it's a song not a movie.

Hadn’t heard of today’s birthday composer but the name reminded me of one of our commenters (Hi, @amyyanni!), and this young PERFormer is a joy to watch:
Ami Maayani, b. 1/13/1936; Vif

Saw some of y’all talking about Wordle and decided to try my hand. Pretty sure luck was involved, beginners’ or otherwise:
Wordle 208 3/6


Shirley F 3:45 PM  

Anonymous at 12:20, was your comment about my alleged gutlessness, cowardliness and glibness meant ironically, being as it was posted anonymously?

GILL I. 3:56 PM  

@Unknown 2:51....
I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with trivia. Thanks to you and my curiosity, I will always think of OATmeal, Texas with some fun memories that I won't forget.
I'm not too familiar with Texas except for Austin. Why? you ask....Because a bunch of us went to the "Broken Spoke" to do some boot-scooting. Further, Austin is really beautiful and, at least, it's more liberal than, say, San Antonio.
My memories (other than that saloon in Austin) of Texas were few. We always drove through it to get back to Sacramento. EXCEPT...The first time was when my sister and I drove from NYC to Riverside, Ca. We drove someone else's big fat black Cadillac car. It was free as long as you delivered the car back to its owner in fairly good condition. As luck would have it, the car got 2 flat tires. We stopped in Ft.Worth at this place that looked like it could give us some good (used) tires and get us to California. My sister was this petite, beautiful blonde, and she usually got quite the attention. Anyway, Bubba (I kid you not...I still remembered his name) came out and told me he'd give us the best deal inside of Texas. He also told us that if we wanted a little imbibement, we could go with him to his private bar while waiting for the tires to be put on. He went into great deal that we were in "Dry County" and he had a private stash of some good hooch. We accepted because we didn't want to just sit on a hot, dry bench and wait. He then said he had a stash of (wink, wink) green pills that would get us non-stop driving to Caleeeeefornayaye.....We smiled, took his pills, drank his good scotch, paid him for his refurbished tires, drove away and laughed all the way to Riverside. It was really comical. The sad part was that his scotch was really good and we only sipped a little. No green pills were involve.
And that's the truth.....

Anon 1:38 4:07 PM  

@Z - In my book, which no one has read and you're the first to actually inquire about, no. You "produce" OATS only when you harvest the oats, i.e. the seeds. After you produce the oats, then go back to bale the stalks, you're producing straw. If you harvest the entire plant at one time in bales while it's still greenish, you're producing hay. If you put the cattle out on it during winter, you're producing forage.

@Shirley - There's a troll lurking here who is either severely lacking in reading skills, deliberately reads with an intent to get insulted, or (my pick) both. Unfortunately, today you were his target, but rest assured, the rest of us actually read well.

bocamp 4:14 PM  

@Wanderlust (3:25 PM)

Thx for the link to the excellent CLEAN COAL article!

Btw, I'm sure @JC66 and/or @Z would be happy to help you with embedding links. In the meantime, I've taken the liberty to turn your URL into one: here.
td 0*

Peace ~ Compassion ~ Tolerance ~ Kindness to all 🕊

Lyn 4:28 PM  

NOrth of HOuston Street is Noho, as compared to Soho which is south of Houston Street.

Babbling Bob 4:33 PM  

Not a very good week for WS - first he gets vilified for screwing up the constructor's perfectly acceptable clue for CLEAN COAL, and today it seems like the entire team made a mess of the whole Texas OATS situation. Maybe he needs a vacation.

Laurie 4:39 PM  

I see Elie Mystal all the time on Ari Melber’s MSNBC show, but he’s a face not a name to me.

Unknown 4:42 PM  

I think that Nancy, as a constructor, was especially mean to Karen, who debuted today.

okanaganer 5:28 PM  

As soon as I saw "Gallagher of Oasis" I thought kealoa!... sort of. Usually with names I don't know the person so I have to get it from crosses. Today I knew it was either LIAM or NOEL but still had to wait.

Actually today was refreshingly light on names, despite the theme. An excess of them really bothers me for the above reason.

[Spelling Bee: yd 0; QB for 6 days straight! td pg -6 after the first attempt.]

Anoa Bob 5:37 PM  

Looks like some of yous are really feeling your oats today!

Smith 5:48 PM  

@wanderlust (3:25)

Thanks, was able to get it easily even without the hyperlink.

JC66 6:22 PM  


Email me and nI'll send you my Embedding Cheat Sheet.

Anonymous 6:35 PM  

Really mods?
You spike my The fix is in

albatross shell 6:42 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous 7:12 PM  

You finish harvesting your cotton by the end of August

my agronomy class told me corn and cotton are prime soil depleters, and 'forage' crops such as oats are planted in rotation to fix nitrogen. yes?

albatross shell 7:20 PM  


Anonymous 7:32 PM  

Shirley F,
No, not at all. Setting aside that Shirley F is an identity that not anyone would accept as truly identifiable, you didn’t seem to be worried about being able to address me, so I’m guessing my putative anonymity is a non starter.
More important, my confidence is renewed that your behavior in the theater was poor.
Set aside that you begrudged paying patrons their choice of seats, ( you picked the best seats, right? They picked the seats closest to the best, right?) once you learned that one of those patrons was sight impaired you apparently nursed the grievance of having to move seats in an all but empty theater for thirty years. I say that’s small. But let’s explore that e ent three decades ago.
Were the patrons behind you behaving badly! If so, why tell,us three facades later and not them?
I say it’s because you didn’t believe they were behaving badly, or you were being ableist. That is, you believed they were behaving badly but were too craven to confront them.

Anonymous 7:38 PM  


complain much?? I've had simple double entendre spiked, but, in the same bunch of comments, some other guy got his TAINT comment (and it means what you think it means) OK'd.

Anonymous 8:49 PM  

After a slow start I persevered and finished. Got the theme, but thought it was a bit flat (THEY found Nemo, SHE killed Bill, HE freed Willy). As with others, the pronouns seemed generic and thoughtless.

I was surprised that Rex is not a name person, as they are my nemesis, too. But I would have expected, with how PPP heavy most CWs are, that a high level solver would be much more adept with names.

Zed 10:00 PM  

@A - I’d say anything less than 4 usually has an element of luck to it because there’s not enough information to make an informed guess. After three guesses today I had three letters in place and 8 letters eliminated, so my fourth guess was pretty constrained. I was fairly confident about my fourth guess.


Joe Dipinto 10:17 PM  

Where are you people getting the colored Wordle squares from?

At Guess 4 today I had two equally probable answers, and I knew it couldn't be anything other than one of those two answers. So of course I entered the wrong one first.

JC66 11:08 PM  

@Joe D

When you finish solving correctly, your "Statistics" box appears and in the lower right there's a green "Share" box. Click on that and it "copies" the colored Wordle squares which you can then "paste" where you like.

Joe Dipinto 11:20 PM  

Got it, tx. But I also had to "Copy text". Oh look, mine looks almost like a "J"


Joe Dipinto 12:14 AM  

Well, that didn't work. No preview maybe?

Wordle 208 5/6


okanaganer 12:27 AM  

[Wordle: if you are using Firefox on Windows (ie desktop computer land) there is an icon in the upper right which looks like a bar chart, click it then click SHARE.
Wordle 208 4/6

If you are familiar with HTML, it is really cool how the colored boxes are actually "text" characters (not HTML entities) and can be pasted all over the place!]

Unknown 9:58 AM  

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Diana, LIW 12:21 PM  

Needed some help with the *** NAMES! But then I could complete the puz with some amusement, and no rebi.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

Burma Shave 1:16 PM  


that SHE PLEADS then REVELS in the thrill
all because HEFREED his WILLY.


rondo 2:05 PM  

Had trouble up top, SPOILERALERT came last.

Look PAST the corners.

A complete GWENSTEFANI, yeah baby.

POWERPOSING in BODYOIL? Been there, done that. Pics available on request.

spacecraft 3:41 PM  

A ton of unknown PPPs made this one at least semi-challenging. Didn't know any of those northern down names, but even with wide gaps in 20-across I could infer SPOILERALERT from the clue--which helped a great deal. The SE corner was another stumbling block for a while too. Some late-week-style clues, for sure.

Always nice to see my DOD written in full: GWENSTEFANI. Bit of a Thursday bite this time; welcome. Birdie.

thefogman 8:23 PM  

Late to the party. Very nicely done Karen Lurie. Bravo on your NYT debut.

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