Heroine Prior of the Divergent series / WED 6-15-22 / Epitome of slowness / Start of a punny quip with two correct answers / Where shampoo was invented / Come under fire literally or figuratively / Fictional character who dreams about Heffalumps

Wednesday, June 15, 2022

Constructor: Rob Baker

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging

THEME: a quip puzzle with an either/or square at the end... — the quip is "NOMATTER HOW MUCH / YOU / PUSH THE ENVELOPE / IT'S / STILL STATION(A/E)RY" (17A: Start of a punny quip with two correct answers

Word of the Day: LOU Rawls (11D: Singer Rawls) —
Louis Allen Rawls (December 1, 1933 – January 6, 2006) was an American record producer, singer, composer and actor. Rawls released more than 60 albums, sold more than 40 million records, and had numerous charting singles, most notably his song "You'll Never Find Another Love like Mine". He worked as a film, television, and voice actor. He was also a three-time Grammy-winner, all for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance. (wikipedia)

• • •

You can probably guess that this puzzle was not in any way shape or form for me. You couldn't invent a less for-me puzzle if you tried (please don't try). The one thing I will give this puzzle, from an originality point of view, is that it is a slight step up from your usual quip puzzle, at a structural / conceptual level, because of the ambiguous single square, which turns the the pun into a puzzle element instead of just leaving it sitting there sadly. Pun becomes Schrรถdinger square! I have to acknowledge that that is an original thing. I do not have to admit that I enjoyed that thing. Let me rephrase that. I could've enjoyed this pun, the way I "enjoy" any pun the puzzle throws at me. Maybe it's a groaner, maybe it's cute. The point is, it's a single pun, and, well, if the pun is part of the theme, then there will be other puns to move on to. But here, the entire (eeeeennnnntttttiiiiirrrrreeeee) puzzle rests on this one pun, which is to say a single square. Everything exists and is in the service of that one square. Which is to say, in this case, nearly all solving pleasure is sacrificed for that one square. Plus (worse), the puzzle ends up playing not only less pleasurable but tougher precisely because there are no theme answers. The quip parts don't have any punch. They are just doled out symmetrically to lead you to the end. And they are (or were, for me) much harder to pick up than theme answers because they don't have any answer integrity; that is, their clues are just [Here's more quip], which is to say they're essentially clueless, and they don't stand alone as phrases, so you have to work crosses like made just to make any grammatical sense of them. And then the crosses themselves of course aren't terribly lovely, for lots of reasons, not least of which is the fact that they are restricted and compromised by the damn quip. When I saw those largish 6x6-ish sections on the sides (E and W), I knew things were gonna get dicey in there. Short Downs up top and below, you can blow through those, but that middle part was way slower going. Anyway, it was a slog, for sure, and then I get to the big payoff, which I don't mind, actually. It's a cute little joke. But it doesn't feel like it should be asked to hold up An Entire Puzzle. The trip does not seem worth the destination. If the trip had been a lot more scenic, maybe. But that wasn't the case.

Just as it was predictable that I wasn't gonna love this one, it feels very predictable (to me) where the trouble spots were. First, COOLTO (25A: Aloof with), which, in addition to being one of the worst pieces of fill in the grid (imagine variants and you'll see how absurd COOLTO is ... KINDTO CRUELTO RUDETO GENEROUSTO ad inf.) was also deeply ambiguous. Which is to say I wrote in COLDTO. Not sure if that's the road less traveled there, but it Definitely made a difference. The "L" from COLD to immediately because LSATS in the cross (26D: Some exams). LIT OUT became absolutely impossible to see, and thus FERRIED remained mysterious as well (34A: Traveled to an island, say). I actually turned FANNIE Mae into SALLIE Mae at some point just to see if I could jolt that whole area into some kind of order (34D: ___ Mae (mortgage company)). Eventually, it all got settled, but ... lots of slog for no payoff (though LITOUT, in general, is a great 6-letter answer). Other predictable slowness: TRIS (47D: Heroine Prior of the "Divergent" series). "Divergent" already feels like part of a "teen trilogy" juggernaut / nightmare that washed over the world in the '00s and now is probably not behind us but feels behind me because my daughter finally grew out of that stuff. Anyway, actually knowing the names of characters involved in said trilogies? Unlikely. Also, in this case things were more difficult than they should've been because I kept reading "Prior" as a word, not a name ("'Heroine prior to the "Divergent" series?' What?"). But it's one answer, so I'm not mad at all. Just (predictably) shrugging. This clue made me miss TRIS Speaker clues, which used to roam the grid in large herds during the early Miocene era of crosswords (look him up! Hall-of-Fame, baby). 

Last predictable screw-up came at 41D: Come under fire, literally or figuratively (TAKE FLAK). Well, I thought they meant *literally* literally, so after TAKE, I threw down HEAT. If you put something literally "under fire" (so, broil it, I guess), then that thing ... takes heat. I mean, literally, it does. Sigh. TAKE ___ really got me, esp. alongside TRIS. Nothing else really caused trouble. It was just slow-going with very little joy along the way. This puzzle was a long walk ... through a place with no trees and lots of traffic ... culminating at a bench that's near a big tree that kind of looks like a yeti but also kind of like Abraham Lincoln. I mean, the tree is pretty cool to look at, I guess, but no way I'm taking that walk again.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Anonymous 6:05 AM  

I enjoyed the unusual three letter "parts" of the quip, YOU and ITS

I mean, that's ridiculous.

mmbeitlermd 6:29 AM  

I can't get the online version to end despite having all the correct answers. tried a/e, e/a, and x in the circle. Any suggestions?

JOHN X 6:57 AM  

TAKEFLAK does literally mean to “come under fire,” with “fire” meaning armaments being shot at something. In this case FLAK was German antiaircraft fire of World War II, derived from flugabwehrkanone which translates as “aircraft defense cannon.” The most lethal was the famed 88mm Flak, which could put a explosive projectile up to 25,000 ft. The shells were fused with timers (not altimeters or proximity devices) and took ten seconds to reach altitude. In ten seconds a B-17 bomber would travel about a mile, and the bomber streams would slightly alter course every 60 seconds. The ground gunners had to aim to where the target was going to be 10 seconds after firing, at a point a mile ahead of it and an estimated altitude. And they hit those bombers, although aiming required a lot of calculation. However, after the bombers reached their IP (initial point), where the bombardier was lining up on the target, they had to fly straight and level which made them very easy targets.

This is where the figurative use is derived from.

Georgia 7:02 AM  

I tried "take heat" then "fire" for the "f" and don't know Tris but this was a lovely solve with plenty of easy crosses for the quip.

Smith 7:07 AM  

Wow, am I in some other wheelhouse than OFL today. I liked PENS PALS at the beginning (I've PENned many a postcard in the last 3 months) and totally flew through the rest. Like Tuesday flew. Never heard of TRIS but it didn't matter. Also not much slowed down by having _N_ELOPE and putting in ...


Smith 7:08 AM  

Ottocorrect changed my last line which was "aNtELOPE"

Smith 7:08 AM  

Just put AE

kitshef 7:09 AM  

I’m on record as not being particularly fond of quip puzzles, but I’ll make allowances if the quip is one I haven’t heard and is funny. No such exception exists today. Also, should have been a Tuesday.

I did enjoy the Asian mini-theme, with Phnom PENH, TET, PESOS, INDIA, LAMA, and, of course, ASIA.

Conrad 7:17 AM  

Medium. FRUitI before FRUTTI at 31D was my only major overwrite. Had TAKE---- at 41D and FLAK came easily because of FISH at 54A. Didn't know IAN McShane at 65D or the Divergent person at 47D. But my biggest error was thinking the Heffalump was a Dr. Seuss character. Bother!

Anonymous 7:33 AM  

I enjoyed it, though I agree with the COOLTO and Divergent criticisms. Any puzzle where I get a long answers crosses is fun for me

Anonymous 7:36 AM  

This is my least favorite type of theme.. fortunately it’s no longer seen much on Sunday.


Anonymous 7:37 AM  

Oddly, I got the “happy music” by just putting “a” there …

Jasper C. 7:37 AM  

Saw pun, saw -ELOPE, and was convinced it was a cantaloupe/can't elope pun. I still want to try to fit "honeydew" somewhere on the lower line. Maybe that would turn T(EA)RS into its homonym.

Also spent way too long trying to figure out what JEPAST could possibly mean. Happened to know TRIS, but I'd prefer Speaker. He's up on the hit list, next to the equally grid-worthy Stan the Man Musial.

Son Volt 7:41 AM  

This one lost me early at “punny quip” - just not my jam. I did seem to find it much easier and straightforward than Rex - no hiccups. Agree that the grid creates too many 3s and 4s - really disliked the AMC/TNT duo.

I just inserted the A in the rebus square and the app was good with it. I do like that little trick - maybe with a real theme next time. I liked LIT OUT and COOL TO.

The TINKER and the Crab

I don’t care what the quote is - keep it out of my puzzle.

Anonymous 7:46 AM  

I’m always struck by the different reactions people have to a puzzle:
“Loved it.”
“Hated it.”

All are valid reactions. Your results may vary. The bottom line is that we’re here using our brainpower in a harmless and pleasant way.

Laura 7:58 AM  

Rex is right, nothing much in the puzzle but a funny quip, quite relevant to our current day. But there is no excuse not to liven up the puzzle with some fun clues, no matter how structurally awkward. I did enjoy the heffalumps, and the puzzle of jfk or rfk after I got the F, most clues were pro forma.

But at least I enjoyed the pun.

Tim 8:03 AM  

Did anyone else have TYPO in place of HYPO ("Shot, for short" is a typo) and then get stumped in the SE?

alexapharm 8:03 AM  

Is India really the sole birthplace of SHAMPOO?
The word is derived from the Hindi “champu” but I believe many cultures around the world have created hair washing preparations simultaneously and independently of one another.
The word “invented” here is incorrect - Indian soap berry hair washing preparations were brought to Europe as a result of colonialism and marketed there.
The rest of the puzzle was strongly “meh” for me. This one clue rankles for some reason - as it’s both obscure trivia and not entirely correct.
The New Yorker’s puzzles are really killing the game lately, with fun bouncy fresh clueing. I just wish they were both more challenging and more frequent.

MaxxPuzz 8:04 AM  

My solving process and experience quite often match Rex's almost exactly. However, today's trip through crosswordese was the exact opposite of his. I thought this was a very easy and straightforward solve, although I also did not enjoy it particularly. I likewise do not like quip puzzles in general. The only saving grace for this puzzle was figuring out the magic square. Fortunately, it occurred late in the sequence of events, so I was left with a somewhat somewhat positive feeling.

Have a cool day! Supposed to be 96 here in this northern clime. Hope it does not bode ill for the entire summer.

Hartley70 8:07 AM  

I hadn’t heard the quip before so that was a plus. I had THEENVELOPE and my mind next went to “please” and I thought “The Oscars”! That would have been more exciting. I have such little use for STATIONARY nowadays.
My favorite entry was INDIA because “who knew?”.

Joaquin 8:08 AM  

I could try to fool myself into thinking I'm getting smarter, but the reality is that this puzzle was an easy Tuesday.

Still, it was fun and a clever use of an old groaner.

SouthsideJohnny 8:12 AM  

It seems like all of these quip/quote type puzzles flirt with being a cure for insomnia, and this one certainly fits that characterization. Rex pretty much hit the nail on the head - the theme entries don't contribute anything; they are pretty much dark matter - in this case, unclued "junk" that you have to basically slog your way through cross-by-cross (thrilling I know). Additionally, the gimmick pretty much fell flat for me as well.

REPAST for meal was new to me, and AT SEA for disorientated seems a little bit of a stretch, maybe it's colloquial and never hit my radar screen.

JD 8:15 AM  

I thought the quip was (in order)

No Matter How Much You Ferried Eric,
Orca Sated
At Sea.
Stick To Its Tet Tinker, Still Statione(a)ry

Which makes much more sense and obviously is code being sent through the NYT by some spy network, which fully explains the sudden reappearance of @JohnX.

Thought this was a little tough for a Tuesday but scads more interesting.

Anonymous 8:22 AM  

Agreed with OFL these themed puzzles are not enjoyable for the reasons above. However, this felt like an easy Monday to me. The clues had no wordplay, nothing surprising or thought-provoking. Home of INDIA is ASIA? Wow… spot for Mom tattoo: ARM… there’s just so many better ways these could be clued on a Wednesday. And they’re all over.

Easy breezy as it was, I was totally stuck at RFK crossing REPAST and KISSIN. TINKER was difficult to parse but eventually got it, just the top of that area was elusive to me. Boo.


Anonymous 8:24 AM  

In general, for NYT puzzles that have more than one letter in the box, you can just put the first letter and the happy pencil will appear. You only need to put one letter regardless of how many letters there are in the answer.

GAC 8:27 AM  

I was startled by the "medium-challenging" rating. For me the puzzle was a easy solve - very unusual for me. The down answers made the long across ones easy to get.

Anonymous 8:29 AM  

I'm not a fan of quip puzzles, for all the reasons Rex discussed in relation to this one, summed up as "the trip does not seem worth the destination" and too much in service of one square.

But I had to laugh at his rant about COOLTO. A very common phrase and hardly "deeply ambiguous."

My big issue was with 9D. A SAWHORSE might be a prop for a lumber cutter, as well as for all kinds of builders and construction workers, but a prop for a woodcutter would be an axe or some kind of saw. Woodcutters cut trees into logs. They don't plane and trim, which would require a sawhorse.

faber 8:35 AM  

I put EA to spell TEARS. At firsr I thought it was TARS but that was only 4 letters.

Anonymous 8:35 AM  

I think the intent there is to put EA since that correctly completes the down clue (TEARS). It worked for me that way.

Anonymous 8:36 AM  


chuck w 8:42 AM  

I enjoyed the puzzle, and like GAC, was surprised by the medium/challenging rating. When I think something is challenging, Rex usually rates it "easy." And this puzzle, I actually thought was pretty easy.

Anonymous 8:43 AM  

Spoken like a true woodcutter!

jberg 8:46 AM  

It was kind of fun trying to guess the pun, although the clue for TEARS pretty much gives it away. If we had to figure out for ourselves that it was 5 letters it would have increased the fun.

I saw through the "lab test" clue right away, but resisted because Lab is short for Labrador, i.e., a proper noun. Rewrite the clue to read "Lab test orderer" and it's fine.

I started with COld TO myself. What's wrong with ambiguous clues? That's why it's a puzzle!

Anonymous 8:58 AM  

That the puzzle rests on a single square is a fact. That "nearly all the solving pleas sure is sacrificed for that one square" is an opinion.
Not an especially good one.

Rob Baker,

Great puzzle. Thanks.

Liveprof 9:04 AM  

Alexapharm (8:03) -- the New Yorker puzzles run daily (Mon thru Fri) online.

Rachel 9:07 AM  

I've never heard of this "punny quip" in my life. So that made it a bit hard.

I also liked the mini Asian theme, as someone else mentioned.

I had COLDTO, which messed me up in that section.

Never knew that 10-4 means CHECK, what's with that?

And "files a petition" doesn't necessarily mean SUES. Sometimes filing a petition is not suing. So that clue should have had a ", sometimes" or something at the end of it.

Havana Man 9:10 AM  

The app gave me "congrats" with just entering "E" so I didn't even get the AE gag...

Zed 9:12 AM  

Tuesdays gonna tuezz… What?

You know what would make this a truly special puzzle? if the quip was also an anagram!

Anonymous 9:17 AM  

On the app, I got the music with just an a in the circle. To be honest, I didn’t realize there was a pun or rebus until I read the column.

Pete 9:23 AM  

When I was a kid, my parents half-way cut us off the second we turned 16. They provided housing, clothes, meals and the basics, but if we wanted anything above and beyond that we had to pay for it ourselves, which meant getting a job. So, I had a job lined up for myself starting the week I turned 16, which I kept until I the week I started college. I was the warehouse & delivery guy for a business which supplied Mom & Pop pharmacies, 5&10 stores back in the day, when such things existed. School supplies, envelopes, writing paper, crappy toys, party favors, that sort of stuff. For those 2 1/2 years, I made jokes along the lines that "I worked in a stationery warehouse, but there's nothing unusual about that, do any of them move?" because I was ever so witty. Not funny then, not funny now, and I don't need the f&*!ing NYTXword to remind me what an ass I was then.

RooMonster 9:31 AM  

Hey All !
I'm not in the "abhor quip puzs" group, to me, it's just another theme device. Plus, this one add a (very) slight twist. And it was relatively easy to suss.

Speaking of easy, the top half of puz seemed to be done faster than the Road Runner in a race with Superman. (Granted, the Road Runner is fast, but it is Superman...) The bottom half had a bit of resistance to it.

I put EA in the circle, then when completed, the app has it in as E/A, so maybe try the slash if you're not getting the Happy Music.

AMC was also a car manufacturer for a number of years. They had some neat cars. (Some say weird, ugly cars, but I say neat cars. ๐Ÿ˜)

Anyway, nice puz that was done kind of quickly. I'm going stay STILL STATIONARY and continue with the SB.

yd -5, should'ves 3
Duo 35, missed 1-2-25 (had another two way word, and totally eluded over the fact that I put the two missing letters in the same place they were yellow before. Argh!)

Two F's

pmdm 9:34 AM  

Lewis hasn't posted yet. Does that mean he didn't like the puzzle. Can't be.

Did I like the puzzle? I like acrostic puzzles, so no problem with this one having a quote. Just did not care about the puzzle or the responses to it. Oh well. Tomorrow is another day.

Anonymous 9:42 AM  

@Anon 9:33 - I'm really doubting your tale of woe. Your family, friends & neighbors aren't on bombing missions over Russia receiving anti-aircraft fire, are they? Are they dying from FLAK falling from the skies while your compatriots are firing anti-aircraft rounds at Russian aircraft? I don't think so.

Maybe you're thinking of shrapnel, not FLAK. But that was never the point, was it?

Tom T 9:50 AM  

Very easy puzzle for me. The first part(s) of the quip came in quickly, which led me briefly to start the next part as lickTHEENVELOPE. Can't help but wonder how to finish that sentence in a punny fashion.

Anonymous 9:56 AM  

Yes, and I was stuck on that for a while the rest of the puzzle filled!

Carola 10:05 AM  

I was surprised at @Rex's rating. More an easy-medium for me. Maybe it's because I've done A LOT of acrostics, but I found the quip easy to piece together, up to the last line, that is: I tried to guess it with no crosses but needed half of STATION[AE]RY to see it - a satisfying punchline. As for the rest, like @Smith 7:07, I started with the cute PENS PALS cross and carried on seamlessly from there, until TAKE???? and the rest of the far SW corner put me AT SEA for a bit. I didn't know TRIS, thought a "hug" would precede a kiss, and guessed that shampoo got its start in chinA - it took a bit to unsnarl that and finish.

For purely local reasons, I liked the FISH HATCH line, having just given my brother driving directions for an address off FISH HATCH (= Fish Hatchery Road, a major thoroughfare here, obviously too long to say in its entirety).

Anonymous 10:06 AM  

Same for me, can’t get the app to end the puzzle. Tried A, E, AE, EA, A/E, E/A.

Aunt Hattie 10:09 AM  

Here is a helper--you writE on stationEry, an Anchor will keep you stationAry

burtonkd 10:12 AM  

@JD: Good one! I always wondered what JOHN X would sound like sober, he didn't disappoint.

I don't like Quip puzzles because I know the blog is going to be full of people telling me they don't like quip puzzles, starting with 2 paragraphs from Rex. Not my favorite either, but don't bother me and I enjoy the challenge of all the unclued answers once in a while. Kind of reminds me of Wheel Of Fortune.

My usual path is to do all the acrosses, then all the downs. This one looked like a Saturday after the crosses, but the downs were Monday/Tuesday easy.

Anon is busy today:) Perhaps someone can explain the difference between FLAK and schrapnel? Do you wear a flakjacket for both?

Compson1 10:12 AM  

Can somebody explain ELAN?

pabloinnh 10:13 AM  

Pretty easy here and since I like acrostics too (hi @pmdm), the quote became more or less obvious. I find it funny to think of someone literally pushing an envelope which won't move and remains stationary, so there's that.

I read a two volume biography of Elvis which mentioned KISSIN Cousins. Just knew that little piece of trivia would come in handy some day.

An OK Wednesdecito by me, RB. Maybe not Ridiculously Baffling but fun enough, for which thanks.

TJS 10:21 AM  

REx seems a little more nit-deranged than usual today. Having to change answers because of bad guesses is not a valid criticism of a puzzle. IMO. Especially if your obsessed with time-solving. I liked this one because of how many places I had to hold off on my first guess until working the crosses. Much more enjoyable than ripping through a Monday level no-brainer.

Nancy 10:22 AM  

The best "quote puzzle" that's every appeared in the NYT, IMO. It's because of the dual answer, or the mini-rebus, if you prefer. (Many will not prefer because they have strict rules on what you can and can't call a "rebus".

The clue "Rips [five letters]" confused me mightily, and I was suspecting a cryptic clue -- something I tend to love but many people hate. But why couldn't I parse it? It took my getting the full quote before I understood the T[E/A]RS thing.

The quote is amusing, the puzzle is crunchy, and the trick is both clever and original. What more could anyone want in a Wednesday puzzle? Nothing more, say I. I loved it!!

Lewis 10:27 AM  

There are those who decry quip puzzles – I like them because they make a puzzle more puzzling, since the clues to the theme answers don’t give anything away. If the quip gives me a smile, all the better, and today’s, with its double wordplay on “push the envelope” and “station(a/e)ry”, gave me a “hah!”.

I love the puzzle’s backstory, too, with Rob finally getting a yes after some 30 submissions over 14 years. Rob, your persistence is very inspiring, and may the road be shorter to your next acceptance!

I liked the next-to-each-other palindromes for the second day in a row (SIS and TNT), plus the distant third (TET). I was also fond of the PuzzPair© of FISH /STOCK.

Congratulations on your debut, Rob, and thank you for a fun and in some spots deliciously-knotty solve. You deserve one of the best days of your life after what it took to get published, and may that happen!

Mr. Benson 10:34 AM  

I also have a daughter who made me watch Divergent but there’s no way I would have remembered TRIS. There is only one name from those dystopian teen trilogies we should be expected to know, and that’s Katniss.

Gary Jugert 10:35 AM  

That's the quip? Of all the jokes in all the gin joints in all the world....

And the circle is singularly not at all worth the WOE. I never would've figured out the E/A thing from the clue. Although, to be honest, I think I might have been spelling stationEry wrong my whole life. So maybe it is worth it.

Thankfully straightforward cluing (sorta sad) made grokking the quote easy enough. No big Yays or OHOs to rejoice. Kinda like Tutti-FRUTTI.

1 We were surprised Bob's arrival in Charlotte Amalie wasn't by reincarnation, so we turned and asked...
2 Door to a tank driven by guppies.
3 Lettering on the spine of Marco Polo's scrapbook.
4 Arthur's butt ribbon (trademark).
5 Most crooked needle in Boston.


Nancy 10:42 AM  

I lost a full hour in posting my comment. Windows hijacked my computer for all that time while giving me an "upgrade" I didn't ask for and didn't want. Then it threatened (but luckily didn't follow through) on what seemed to be a plot to never let me into my computer again until I accepted a complete upgrade to Windows 11 from Windows 10. I turned it down again. They also tried to sneakily substitute themselves for Google Chrome, but I now know how not to fall for that ploy.

I'm b-a-a-a-ck, finally, from the abyss, but I know they're not remotely finished with tormenting me. I HATE WINDOWS!!!!!!!!!!

sixtyni yogini 10:46 AM  

Really enjoyed this one.
Some parts very easy; others (names of peeps) not so much.
Stationary - stationary, I know simple —but clever!

jae 11:00 AM  

Easy-medium. When I saw that this was a quip puzzle I prepared myself to be disappointed and I wasn’t disappointed.

Me too for COld.

Reasonably smooth, but still a quip.

Anon 9:33 11:18 AM  

@Anon 9:45 - Evoking genuine, ongoing, human misery and death to make a snarky point about a crossword puzzle is pretty low, above and beyond the fact that your point had no merit in the first place. Rex made a point that he made the mistake of using the first definition of fire to understand "literally under fire". The first definition as a noun, rather then the fifth as a noun, the first as a transitive verb rather then the third, and the first as an intransitive verb rather than the third (Webster's). He admitted he fell into the trap, not that he didn't understand how FLAK worked. It's you who whiffed, not Rex.

Whatsername 11:34 AM  

If there’s one thing I could possibly dislike more than a quip puzzle, it’s a “punny” quip puzzle. And while I was prepared to hate this one when I saw that clue at 17A, I do admit this was elevated a STAIR step above the ordinary quaint quip and painful pun. The two-way E/A was a particularly nice touch. Also I admired the excellent construction with down entries which were so well done that even with some unknown proper nouns, I had no trouble filling in all the blanks.

Pretty darn impressive debut, Mr. Baker. I enjoyed it and I’m glad you kept at it all these years and didn’t give up. Hope your next one will come about a little easier and a lot sooner.

jfpon 11:37 AM  

"Push: To move..." = "Stationary: Not moving..."? Oh?

bocamp 11:38 AM  

Thx, Rob, clever idea; still trying to fully grok it! :)


Very smooth except for some hesitation at TEARS. Problem was not remembering the sp dif for STATIONARY vs STATIONERY.

I get how literally PUSHING an ENVELOPE doesn't change the fact that it's still STATIONERY, but I don't see how it would be STATIONARY, either literally or figuratively. Clearly I'm missing something here, which will be rationally explained by commentariat. *

Otherwise, I went thru this one quickly.

A most enjoyable solve; liked it, in spite of my density. :)

* Like @Nancy, I don't read the comments before my initial post of the day.
yd 0 / W: 2* / WH: 2 / Duo: 35 (one gaff)

Peace ๐Ÿ™ ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ฆ ~ Compassion ~ Tolerance ~ Kindness to all ๐Ÿ•Š

Masked and Anonymous 11:52 AM  

Quipper puzs are ok at our house, altho we do prefer the quips by Rodney Dangerfield, in that case.

Sooo … STATIONEARY…? Or a choice of TERS/TARS? Confused the M&A. Finally decided they went with the Ow de Speration approach of "E/A Across, EA Down". har. Different. Like, in a weird way.

staff weeject picks: ITS & YOU. Theme Participation Respect.
Speakin of respect, behold, mere mortals: Quad Weeject Stacks, in the NE & SW.

Couple of faves: SUREDO. KISSIN. Plus, the use of a single solitary Circle of Weirdness, of course.

Error that cost M&A the bonus points: Managed to splats in TMC/SALTD. Wrong again, M&A breath.
In my defense, it was early in the solve, and I didn't know what theme-related tricks might be afoot, yet. Then, forgot to revisit that area, later on. Was distracted by the whole E?A vs. EA biz.
… And if that defense don't work, then M&A'll switch over to the Trump "was delusional" plan B defense.

Thanx for the fun, Mr. Baker dude. And congratz on yer primo debut. And for spellin TEEPEE right.

Masked & Anonymo4Us


albatross shell 11:52 AM  

You do know it is Wednesday?

Anagram based puns done as a Rex tribute puzzle. I can't wait. Constructors, please, get crackin'!!

JohnX right, Rex wrong.

Fun puzzle.
Several of the across lines are humorous. The puzzle played easy since any place you ran into trouble around the quote caused difficulties. I filled in TArgeted for TAKEFLAK not noticing come instead of came in the clue. And of course the unknown TRIS in the same place. But it was the perfect place to have trouble, closing out the last line of the pun. Well done construction.

@Zed once again taking pride in his own bigotry. What would Ghandi say?

Anonymous 12:08 PM  

10-4 = yes sir, I’ll do it! Check = yup, I’ll do it

Elan = fancy way of saying same (French word)

This was in my wheelhouse. Super easy. Probably the first time I have found some thing easy when our overlord has found it difficult.

Anonymous 12:09 PM  

I liked the puzzle but I loved this column. lol

Anonymous 12:51 PM  

Yes and I am astonished HYPO is correct. I assume short for hypodermic needle? Does anyone actually say that?

Not Zed's biggest fan, but . . . 1:09 PM  

@albatross shell: I think you must have meant to malign someone else. "Bigotry" is an awfully nasty term to throw about haphazardly.

Zed 1:29 PM  

@Not Zed - I believe @Albie is riffing on yesterday's tuezz discussion and his opposition to day of the week bigotry. As I was with my opening line.

Anonymous 1:29 PM  

In my entire medical career I have never heard or used the term hypo for a needle. Yes I know it stands for hypodermic needle, but that is an archaic obsolete term.

Anonymous 1:32 PM  

I knew Rex would loathe this puzzle. It was quirky though and I loved the pun.

Anonymous 1:33 PM  

Lewis: You are a good guy; I enjoy your posts very much

jcal 1:34 PM  

Elan = vigorous spirit.

He played the concerto with considerable elan. Her dancing showed great elan, especially in the 2nd act...that kind of thing.

Actually a good answer for pizzazz.

Hope this helps.

albatross shell 2:38 PM  

I think y'all are missing the depth of the schrodinger's cat Zeno's paradox pun. And the fact that there are 2 correct answers when there is actually no question being asked. That is, the word "still" meaning not moving (stationary) and still the same thing (as stationery, in this case). Two correct interpretations. Or echoing what Zeno said, when asked if anything was stationary replied the moving envelope was stationery.

okanaganer 2:49 PM  

Easy-medium here. Hands up for TYPO before HYPO. I put an E in the circled square and got the Happy Pencil, and only then realized it could also be an A, which was nice... without that trick, it would indeed be a weak theme.

[Spelling Bee: yd pg-1, missed this 6er probably because it's so forgettable. Now callaloo and nonillion, those I can remember!]

egsforbreakfast 3:17 PM  

Did anyone notice that the STAT in STATIONE/ARY is not STATIONARY? It can be rotated 90 degrees, using the first T as the pivot point, to form STAT (55D. “Right now!”).

Nice quip puzzle, as far as quip puzzles go. Congrats on your long-awaited debut, Rob Baker.

albatross shell 3:18 PM  

I could not resist riffing on Zeno Kafka and Schrodinger. Throw Godel in there and I'd be one happy cat. K's take on Zeno was actually the moving envelope is stationary. To explain the 2 correct answers in a more pedestrian prosaic manner:
No matter how far you push the envelope ... . Push it into the table. Push it 2 inches or ten miles in any direction. Now look at it. It is now still stationary and now still stationery. Presto.

Pdxrains 3:31 PM  

I've never ever heard anyone say LITOUT. What. The . Heck

Masked and Anonymous 4:20 PM  

@albatross shell, 11:52AM:

Sorry for the delay, on yer puz request …


M&A Tribute Desk

Mark Twain 4:26 PM  

@Pdxrains: I reckon you mean What. The. Huck.

Last line of the book: But I reckon I got to light out for the territory ahead of the rest, because Aunt Sally she's going to adopt me and sivilize me, and I can't stand it. I been there before.

dgd 5:10 PM  

FWIW the Times puzzle uses "at sea" very frequently (I am too lazy to look it up). In real life I think it sounds a bit quaint these days. As Zed says, it will be appearing again in a puzzle near you.

Anoa Bob 6:38 PM  

It's hard to find a five letter string that is more grid fill friendly than ATSEA. According to cornell.edu, A is the most frequent letter in standard English text with T and A ranking 2nd and 3rd and S coming in a 6th. That makes it super easy to fill in crossing words and the reason it has appeared 169 times during the Shortz era (and is likely to appear again soon). Most ATSEAs have been clued something along the lines of "Lost", "Befuddled" or "Confused". I have also seen the phrase "Butterfly at sea" used to suggest extreme discombobulation. Not as grid fill friendly, though.

Zed 7:02 PM  

Where else might that poor butterfly be? Butterfly at the North Pole? Butterfly at Everest? Butterfly to the moon? Or maybe it’s more mythological, Butterfly crossing the River Styx? Butterfly at Asgard? Butterfly in Mordor. Wherever the intrepid butterfly may be one thing is certain; It’s no Butterfly Shrimp.

albatross shell 7:31 PM  

I love your posts and what I have seen of your little puzs. I did figure out once how to at least see them on my phone. I discovered how to read the clues and could do them if I handdraw the grid and then look at the clues on the phone and solve them on paper. I only did 2 of them early on when I first join the blog.

Today I managed to get to one puzzle with the answer of OGRE and DO when I stumbled on a link in the comments but could not get to the rest of the clues. I assume I need to get there on my computer which I use mostly for dusting practice nowadays. Will it work do you think on the computer? I would like to see what you did. You of course would be the one to come through. Who else would even try. Bunch of slackers. Or is that slackards?

kitshef 7:48 PM  

@albatross shell - in case M&A does not see your post and get back to you, I can email you the Rex tribute anagram puzzle in, say, a pdf. I see you don't have an email listed but if you email me I can reply.

albatross shell 7:51 PM  

@anon 829pm
Log sawhorse here.

May also be made from logs. Ist das nicht ein kreuz und quer?

albatross shell 7:59 PM  

I believe you warned me about the perils of sarcasm once or 3 times. Have no fear. I will continue to ignore them from time to time. And reveal the true reality about your tyranny over this blog.

Masked and Anonymous 8:12 PM  

@albatross shell: At least worth a shot, on yer dusty old computer. (M&A's is also pretty day-um dusty.)
Try it this-a-way:
1. Bring up my message in the Rex Parker blog comments.
2. Click on the "**gruntz**' link.
3. On the next screen, click on "Down Home" link.
4. On the next screen after that, click on the "Show Puzzle" button.

If U get that far, it should at least show U what the runtpuz looks like. U might also be able to go ahead and type in yer answers. Best wishes and let m&e know, how it goes.

M&A Help Desk

If all else fails, I'll try to post a pic of the runtpuz here for U to look at, tomorrow.

albatross shell 9:15 PM  

Hey @M&A
Haven't read your post yet. Got it to open easy enuf but no typing in answers. A little short on anagrams maybe ( only about 3/4 through). But the rest is just as requested. Not sure of some of the 2 letter answers. C'mon @Zed give it a try. Loosen dem hate strings of your heart.

Pete 9:45 PM  

Ok, so what's the over / under on the number of posts deleted by the mods regarding my having been an ass / still am an ass comment of this AM?

I'm saying 7.5

Anonymous 10:02 PM  

I don’t think I even knew that the two senses of the word were spelled differently

Masked and Anonymous 10:14 PM  

@albatross shell: Great! Congratz. Should be three anagram-puns in there, so keep on a-lookin.

M&A Help Desk

Anonymous 11:31 PM  

I thought it was easy, for Wednesday anyway. I often think puzzles are easy when you think they're hard, and vice versa. Maybe it's because I'm older than you - at least that's my theory.

Zed 11:49 PM  

@Albie - Agatha bundled lutists

@Pete - I’ll take the under. However, the anon who can’t read and misunderstood what Rex wrote about TAKE FLAK might hit the over. I saw at least two replies to now missing comments.

Joe Dipinto 12:08 AM  

Look, ma'am, an invitation
Here, ma'am, delivered by hand
And, ma'am, I notice the stationery's
Engraved and very grand

Unknown 1:23 PM  

I solved it pretty quickly, but needed my wife to look at it for 10 seconds to decipher the theme. I, like you was hooked starting with 1 across.

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