Jack of 1950s TV / WED 6-8-22 / Doth choose a comedy routine / Boyle's law subject / Publish private info about online in modern lingo / Strong German brew / Title 6-year-old of 1950s children's literature

Wednesday, June 8, 2022

Constructor: Bruce Haight

Relative difficulty: Medium 

THEME: -ET to -ETH— familiar phrases have "H" added to the end of one of the words, turning that word into a Shakespearean-sounding verb; the resulting wacky phrases are clued accordingly:

Theme answers:
  • PICKETH LINES (18A: Doth choose a comedy routine?)
  • PUBLIC TOILETH (24A: Citizenry doth work hard?)
  • FAD DIETH (38A: Once-popular activity hath no more fans?)
  • MARKETH PLACES (49A: Doth apply graffiti?)
  • MODEL ROCKETH (58A: Runway walker hath megatalent?)
Word of the Day: ABU Simbel (57A: ___ Simbel (Lake Nasser landmark)) —

Abu Simbel is a historic site comprising two massive rock-cut temples in the village of Abu Simbel (Arabicأبو سمبل), Aswan GovernorateUpper Egypt, near the border with Sudan. It is situated on the western bank of Lake Nasser, about 230 km (140 mi) southwest of Aswan (about 300 km (190 mi) by road). The complex is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site known as the "Nubian Monuments", which run from Abu Simbel downriver to Philae (near Aswan), and include AmadaWadi es-Sebua, and other Nubian sites. The twin temples were originally carved out of the mountainside in the 13th century BC, during the 19th Dynasty reign of the Pharaoh Ramesses II. They serve as a lasting monument to the king Ramesses II. His wife  Nefertari and children can be seen in smaller figures by his feet, considered to be of lesser importance and were not given the same position of scale. This commemorates his victory at the Battle of Kadesh. Their huge external rock relief figures have become iconic.

The complex was relocated in its entirety in 1968 under the supervision of a Polish archaeologist, Kazimierz Michałowski, from the Polish Centre of Mediterranean Archaeology University of Warsaw, on an artificial hill made from a domed structure, high above the Aswan High Dam reservoir. The relocation of the temples was necessary or they would have been submerged during the creation of Lake Nasser, the massive artificial water reservoir formed after the building of the Aswan High Dam on the River Nile. The project was carried out as part of the UNESCO Nubian Salvage Campaign. (wikipedia)

• • •

It's probably a pretty tight theme set—there are other -ET-to-ETH phrases I could think of off the top of my head, but none of them were exactly Great. You have to be able to turn an -ET word to an -ETH word *and* have the resulting verb phrase be a wakily cluable phrase. So MULLET to MULLETH works, but there are no good MULLET phrases, so you're left with MULLETH HAIRCUT or something like that, which is actually kind of good on the wacky end, but the base phrase "mullet haircut" is just redundant. Anyway, for this theme, the set seems very solid. I just found the concept dreary. Extremely one-note. I got slightly excited there at ART SCHOOL because it had a "?" clue and I thought "oh, is this theme gonna venture into other, non-lisping archaic verb forms!?" But no, ART SCHOOL is not a themer (I mean, how would you clue that, anyway? "Hast thou students inside of ye, building?"). After I got PICKETH LINES, the rest of the answers were super-easy to pick up, and only PUBLIC TOILETH seemed really surprising or inventive. The others just ... fit the theme. The grid was oversized today so that the 8-letter FAD DIETH could sit dead center), so the solving PUBLIC definitely TOILETH longer than usual in order to finish this thing. The way the grid is built, the fill is overwhelmingly short, and unfortunately it's kind of stale (AD REP, OAST, PAAR, etc.). Attempts to unstale it mostly failed. VACAY is slangy in a horrid cloying way that already feels old (I've never felt the need to shorten "vacation" and have never had a conversation with someone who has—probably seen more in texts than heard irl), but maybe it seems fresh to you, that's fine. To me, it was the *fourth* "?" clue I'd seen inside of a small amount of real estate in the NW, so I was already put off the answer before I ever got there. With the "?" clue on VACAY, at least it feels like there's a payoff there, whereas the "?" clues on AMPM (1D: Day and night?) and ARK (4D: Months-long couples retreat?) feel more like lipstick on a pig. Plus, the ARK itself is not "months-long," so that clue should've gone back to phrasing school. I wish there were more high points to this one. It's entirely adequate but the theme just wasn't funny or outrageous enough on the whole, and the fill just did its job and nothing more.

I have "NO & NO" written in the margin by DOX (60D: Publish private info about online, in modern lingo), which is a textbook example of Scrabble-f*cking. Sensing (correctly) that the fill is pretty dull, the constructor decides to cram some Crooked Letters™ (e.g. X, J, Z, Q, K ...) into the margins of the grid in a misguided big to liven things up (you can see the three "X"s in the grid, all of them wedged into the margins). KIX and GEN-X are fine; the latter ends up necessitating some golfer I've never heard of (LEXI), but who cares, there's always some golfer I haven't heard of in the grid (36D: L.P.G.A. star Thompson). My issue was with DOX. The first "NO" I wrote in the margin was for "No, this is an abusive phenomenon used to intimidate and harass whistleblowers, particularly women, and your decorative 'X' is not worth my having to think about *that* in *this* venue." My other "NO" was for the spelling of the word, which I've always seen with two "X"s, but apparently DOX is an acceptable form as well. I don't like it, but I guess I'll accept it, reluctantly. I would not have resented the word nearly so much if it weren't such obvious, desperate Scrabble-f*cking. If you had needed the "X" to hold up some really cool "X" crossing, or if your theme had been "X"-related, then fine, it's a thing in the world, I can tolerate its presence, but only if it seems to be supporting something bigger and more wonderful. Here, it's not. So we get to contemplate online harassment ... for no good reason. Pass.

After the early abundance of "?" clues, there wasn't much more to slow me down. Clues were not always transparent, but I didn't get stuck or even noticeably slowed down at any point. I did have to pause at the classic kealoa*, ABIT v. ATAD (39D: Somewhat), but other than that perfectly ordinary obstacle, no trouble spots. See you tomorrow.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld 

*kealoa = short, common answer that you can't just fill in quickly because two or more answers are viable, Even With One or More Letters In Place. From the classic [Mauna ___] KEA/LOA conundrum. See also, e.g. [Heaps] ATON/ALOT, ["Git!"] "SHOO"/"SCAT," etc.

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


OffTheGrid 7:01 AM  

We've seen LIP 3 times very recently, each with a different sense of the word. Good to see you again, OAST. Favorite themer was FADDIETH. Could do without VACAY & DOX type clues but they're a mainstay so I can deal with it. Not many names today. Thrown in are a few clues with Friday level cleverness and the result is a delightful Wednesday solve.

Johnny Mic 7:12 AM  

I thought the theme was fun. I smiled or even chuckled as I filled in the themers. But I've never heard of ABU SIMBEL, so I had LITTERBAGS. I thought maybe it was a cat thing. Agree that the fill felt sort of old timey, but I enjoyed it!

kitshef 7:19 AM  

Mostly enjoyed this. MAORI is already plural, so didn’t like that. But I would not say it RUINED the puzzle.

Enjoyeth ye sun whilst essaying to make good tyme in traffic? BASKETH WEAVING

Forge ye dimpells with a myning tool? PICK POCKETH

Armada hath a mighty feare: NAVY FLEETH

Anonymous 7:20 AM  

I’ve been solving for a few years now, and I think I’ve come to the conclusion that the “change a regular phrase to a wacky phrase and clue it wackily” themes just aren’t for me. Which is fine, different strokes for whatchootalkinbout Willis and all that. But I wish I could figure out why I enjoy rebuses and “treat black squares as ” puzzles that so many solvers dislike, while finding this sort of theme an annoying slog not worth the payoff of solving it. Gotta be some neuroscience paper in here somewhere.

JD 7:30 AM  

If I’m not mistaken, this might be the most glowing review that Rexth ever gaveth Bruce Haighth.

What we have here was a failure to communicate a few times with some of the cluing. Cream of Wheat is a Breakfast Cereal with Little Balls. It’s just so bland. Kix isn’t WITH Little Balls so much as it IS Little Balls. And why Sound Heard "Here" And "There" On Old Macdonald's Farm? We know whose farm it is all the sounds are heard here and there. Why Mal De ___? Why not French Headache? After I threw it in I thought it might mean crazy (bad in the head?) until I looked it up.

Of course these are nits that I picketh like lint. The bigger thing at play is that I wasn’t enthusiastic about starting the morning with thoughts of public toilets because I judge all public spaces on their level of toilet cleanliness (and now in writing in this, I’ve gone from discussing little balls to toilets) and those that stood out for their grossness linger in my mind. But that’s just me.

This was a challenging Wednesday and I enjoyed it. Crazy as it was.

@Johnny Mic, Boomers will remember the 1960s Public Service Announcement ditty from Lady Bird Johnson's Keep America Beautiful campaign, "Please, please don't be a Litter Bug, every litter bit hurts." So effective that I'm astounded to this day by people who toss trash out a car window.

Lewis 7:34 AM  

Hah! Two minutes into the puzzle I actually LOLed twice, once at the clue for ARK (“Months-long couples retreat?”) and again at the first theme answer. That double whammy got me in a great mood throughout, and the theme continued to provide joy by giving its trick away right at the beginning, and thus motivating me to try to guess the remaining theme answers with as few crosses as possible, an activity I love. That’s one winning theme!

Yes, the theme is Dad Jokey, and that’s Bruce’s M.O. Dad jokes comes in different flavors, with some being BLEH, but Bruce’s always push my happy button.

Of course, the grid is polished, well crafted. Bruce is a pro.

This puzzle reminded me of my CAT Wiley, who is a RESCUE, who is THIN, who LOLLS and PROWLs, and it is appropriate that CAT crosses the answer with the “paper trail” clue, because Wiley doth love to unroll TOILETH paper with casual sweeps of his paw.

So sweet to see you, Bruce, just two months after your last NYT puzzle. My door is always eagerly open for you. Thank you for all the work you put into this (as described in your notes) and for brightening my day!

mathgent 7:40 AM  

Always excited to see the Bruce Haight byline. He didn't disappoint.

Son Volt 8:00 AM  

I get Rex’s semi endorsement here. The add a letter theme needs to be goofy - this one tries at least. I liked PUBLIC TOILETH and FAD DIETH.

The grid layout was clunky - ends up with a lot of 3s and 4s which takes away the groove of filling. The mid length LITTER BUGS and HOTEL BARS were neat. I’ll pass on Whammies but will have a BOCK.

A wildcat on the PROWL

Odd Wednesday solve - but enjoyable enough.

pabloinnh 8:01 AM  

I thought this was a fine Wednesday. I flew through the top half, then slowed myself way down by randomly seeing the "Jack" clue and confidently filling in WEBB. That was somewhat less than helpful, but eventually I saw that, alas, it could not be, and finished apace.

I thought the themers were fine except I was doing the DOOK thing for the longest time with FADDIETH. Sounded like some kind of weird superlative. Also wanted PRICES for PLACES for too long.

I'm with OffTheGrid in welcoming back old friend OAST. Takes me back to my younger days of solving, when no one could DOX anyone because there wasn't such a thing.

Well done indeed, BH. Didn't Bust my Hump but did have to think enough to make it all worthwhile. Thanks for all the fun.

Anonymous 8:01 AM  

I will note for the record that not all plate appearances are At Bats. A walk or hit by pitch is counted as a plate appearance but not as an At Bat. If one were to still care about batting average...

Gio 8:05 AM  

@jd 7:30 Rex liked Bruce Haight's last puzzle April 5 2022.

SouthsideJohnny 8:14 AM  

I couldn’t warm up to the theme even though I discerned it pretty easily. I didn’t feel any real sense of “oh that’s cool” but more - oh, ok so Public Toil (which means nothing to me) becomes - PUBLIC TOILETH. So, yeah - meh.

A couple of the other clues seemed like they were also trying too hard (see PARASKI, for example). So a lot of swings and misses for me - the opposing pitcher just had my number today. Will have to keep my chin up and look forward to tomorrow.

GAC 8:26 AM  

Rex says this: " It's entirely adequate but the theme just wasn't funny or outrageous enough on the whole, and the fill just did its job and nothing more." He struggles mightily to criticize a puzzle that is well constructed, even though he liked it. Why? Because that's what Rex does. He can be annoying.

JustMarci 8:27 AM  

I really wanted 31d to be CVS RECEIPT.

Unknown 8:37 AM  

Rex, chilleth out!

MkB 8:53 AM  

Golf term crossing pro golfer crossing the Shuss nonsense crossing 1950s TV just killed any enjoyment for me, and that's not even counting a pretty decent chunk of just straight trivia through the rest of the fill.

Which is a shame, because the theme may not have been brilliantly hilarious, but was solid.

Nancy 9:04 AM  

PICKETH LINES had seemed arbitrary until I got the theme at PUBLIC TOILETH. Nice! The puzzle went immediately from arbitrary to cute-- even though I wondered what the revealer could possibly be? ADD WATER? Nah, water is H2O. What's a single H? Hydrogen? Helium? (You can see that chemistry is not my strong suit.) Anyway, I couldn't come up with a revealer...

And now I see that Bruce couldn't either.

I sort of think that it sort of needs one, yes? But if a constructor gives me wordplay and bad puns, I'll never complain. Enjoyable -- in its rather oddly unexplained way.

Anonymous 9:10 AM  

Is there a sub-theme here? As in, five corresponding words that are missing an H (i.e., would make different words by adding an H at the beginning)?


Bruce Haight 9:11 AM  

Thanks Lewis! I used to do a lot of dad jokes, and now I do a lot of grandad jokes. I mean, I feel like the best theme entry I ever designed was "____, do these jeans make me look fat?" (answer: BUTT WEIGHT) so I lean toward a certain type of humor that Rex is not particularly into. Everyone has different tastes, and fortunately for me the NYT editors occasionally stray into dad joke territory. You solvers out there who agree, don't get discouraged - keep the flame going :) Bruce Haight

Gary Jugert 9:21 AM  

I'm writing a long one because I'm on day three of quarantine with Covid and it's boring in this back bedroom. Even the cat has grown weary of sitting here all day. By the way, I have all four shots, and still got it, don't know anybody else with it, so it came from God, and thanks to the vaccines it's like having a cold. Go science.

I love doing crosswords. That feeling of staring at a blank grid and wondering, "Can I do the whole thing?" Some days, yes. Some days, with a little help from Google, yes. Some days with a lot of help from Google, yes. Even on puzzles I hate, I like the process of going from blank grid to moral outrage via web searches.

For me, Google has replaced peeking at the answer grid and helps me know more "things" for the next time the same topic emerges in another puzzle. I still don't care about movie stars, but I'm gonna try.

Knowing "the things" is part of making crosswords enjoyable, but conquering cleverly worded clues is the real Everest. It's increasingly rare when I don't understand how the clue relates to the answer, but when I started it was common and I didn't have Rex and y'all to explain it to me.

I hope the constructors and editors have great relationships and work as a team to create better puzzles, although I hear too many weird editing stories to assume it's all love and roses (and competence). I am also blown away how often we hear directly from the author on this blog. How brave of them to come here and listen to our prattle. Hey @Carly! I wish the editors were as fearless.

I haven't read Rex yet because I think today's puzzle might divide us, but this is one of my favorites in a long time. I've read and reread the theme answers getting a chuckle over and over. Positively brilliant and hilarious, just by adding H.

And so many sparklers, ECLIPSE, ART SCHOOL, HOTEL BARS, PARA SKI, LITTER BUG (so great). Plenty of current lingo and the moldiest HALE I've ever seen. Just lovely.

Now according to those with standards who'd rather die than Goog, I technically had a DNF because of BOCK. There was no grokking the northwest without it and it was nowhere in my brain. I mainly drink coffee.

I eagerly sought Day 4 of BOOB related entries, but was disappointed in a refreshing way. I suppose TIED UP will serve as our tee-hee of the day.

Maybe . . . 9:26 AM  


Maybe . . . 9:28 AM  


Anonymous 9:34 AM  

Clue for ark is lol clever.

Anonymous 9:37 AM  


Your puzzles are always great. But your graciousness is remarkable.
Michael Sharp's petty and mean-spirited reviews of your puzzles over the years has been one of his hallmarks. So I thought you might like to hear that--whether they'll say it out loud or not--everyone on this board knows that you're the bigger man.

Thanks again for the fine puzzle today.

Whatsername 9:49 AM  

A Wednesday that made me thinketh a little more than usual. I smiled when I got the first themer at PUBLIC TOILETH but like @JD, also cringed a bit at the horror of some of those PLACES more CON than pro. BLEH!! But thankfully that didn’t ECLIPSE the rest and it turned out to be fun in the long run. Thank you Mr. Haight - and nice of you to pay a personal visit this morning.

My only major blip was WINNIE for ELOISE. I was definitely in the market for children’s literature during that era but don’t recall that particular series. Then again, I didn’t get out much either. A bit surprised that Rex didn’t go off on Elaine CHAO. Perhaps keeping his politics on a LEASH today? Nah.

Gary Jugert 9:51 AM  

@JD Oh, crud, you've created the real tee-hee of the day! KIX IS little balls! You win. I'm not a KIX expert, so didn't see it. And thanks @Bruce Haight for stopping by. I am for all jokes that make me laugh; I don't need to categorize them. Dad jokes, bad jokes, dirty jokes, offended Anonym-oti ... all hilarious.

Masked and Anonymous 9:52 AM  

This is quintessential Bruce Haight puz stuff. Always a fun time. Plus, 16x15 grid and 81 words … more for yer moneybucks.

Clever theme idea that leads to many other possible themers. Just glad he didn't need to go with BIDETH TIME. Woulda been a kinda neat turn of the tables, tho.

staff weeject pick: DOX. Always interestin to learn new slang, I reckon. The Haightmeister really went for the X's, today. Also, primo quad weeject stacks *and* also trip weeject stacks.

fave clue: Lotsa good ones, but I was especially partial to {They may leave a lengthy paper trail} = LITTERBUGS. Probably cuz of anticipation for them prime-time insurrection hearins, startin up Thursday night. We're plannin to pop popcorn.

Thanx for the fun, Mr. Haight dude. And mighty nice of U to drop in here for a visit.

Masked & Anonymo4Us


Nancy 9:59 AM  

I forgot to mention how much I loved the clue for LITTERBUGS. I got it immediately off the LIT I'd already written in, but can't help wondering if I would have gotten it if I hadn't had anything written in. To me, it's one of the best clues of the year and I hope it will receive the Lewis nod this week. I expect it will.

Also, a plug for the wonderfully droll and irreverent Kay Thompson book, ELOISE. It doesn't really need my help since it's sold over two million copies, but it's one of the great children's books -- one that definitely brightened my own childhood. Though I didn't know it at the time, there's a rumor that Eloise is based on Kay Thompson's goddaughter, Lisa Minelli. From what I know about both Lisa and Eloise, that would make complete sense.

Eloise (who lived very, very comfortably at the Plaza Hotel) had a signature phrase that I don't even have to look up. I remember it vividly from all those many decades ago: "Thank you very much and charge it please."

As I write these words, I find myself wondering if Eloise can survive our current era's obsession with the sins of elitism and privilege. Eloise, of course, is the living embodiment of both -- but in the most side-splitting and hilarious way.

God, I sure hope she can!

kitshef 10:00 AM  

@Nancy - revealer should have been PLUSH.

beverly c 10:02 AM  

Loved LITTERBUGS and enjoyed the wacky theme. Needed the crosses for FADDIETH.

RooMonster 10:04 AM  

Hey All !
Kind of a strange theme today. Exacerbated by my non-sussing of FADDIETH as two words. Just kept seeing it as one, and wondering what in tarhooties FADDIETH (fad-ē-eth) was. Did like the fact all Themers are actual phrases without the H, but clued as phrases with the H, if that makes sense.

The ole brain still functioning, as saw the 16 wide grid right away, so that's a plus.

New fill to cool Rex's jets over DOX:
ONEAL- Cager Shaq
MELTS - What 38D does, slowly
MOM -Says Hi to on signs?
ONE - Only partner
DEL - Taco part?
EAT - Nosh
There ya go, Rex!
Sorry, Bruce, impinging on your puz. 😁

Anyway, you know what day it is today? Hey, Jen, you know what day it is today?
Hump day?
Hump daaaaaaayyyyy!

yd -11, should'ves 6
Duo skipped.

One F

Gio 10:08 AM  

@anon 9:40 As it has been made clear by the world's top scientists, the Covid vaccine does not prevent getting the disease. But saying "it does not prevent anything" is totally wrong. It prevents severe illness and death. Many sources show this. It is because the immune system mounts a very rapid response if you've had your shots. The virus has less time to imbed itself into other organs where you might die from it.
Since Omicron showed up, we learned that this form Of Covid escapes immunity either from. A vaccine or a previous Covid infection. All vaccinated people in June 2022 know they can still catch Covid. They also know they will have a milder disease and a much greater chance of not being hospitalized or winding up in a coffin.

albatross shell 10:18 AM  

Goldie doth belt a large book..
OK it doesn't work.

Mechanic doth punch his own tool.



eddy 10:20 AM  

Finished, but then...wha...? The software said I wasn't done. This usually for me means a misspelled something, but I couldn't find it. Clock ticking, I searched and searched. Hate that. Convinced my streak was ruined, I almost hit the "solve" button when I noticed...49 down, DEAL (which made 49 across DARKETHPLACES was really MEAL and MARKETHPLACES. Dark Places somehow made sense to me.

Meanwhile, eleven minutes turned into nineteen. I've gotta stop timing myself. Who am I trying to impress?

Nancy 10:22 AM  

Brilliant, @kitshef (10:00)!!

jberg 10:28 AM  

Like many, I first understood the theme with PUBLIC TOILETH, and eventually worked my way back to PICKETH LINES. There was a nice balance between adding H to the first (2 times) or second (3 times) word.

It's at least 60 years since I last ate breakfast cereal, but somehow I remembered the shape of KIX. I'm not proud of that.

A fonder memory was Jack PAAR. My parents discovered his show sometime in the 1950s, and it became a focus of their lives -- they watched him every night (it was only later that they started falling asleep while they watched), and talked about it the next day. The show was a lot more sophisticated than most of the rest of what was on TV in those days, so in a small Midwestern town it was exciting to see. It may even be where I first heard of ELOISE, the little girl who lived in the Plaza Hotel and managed to cause a lot of trouble.

I'm a little unhappy with OATS, though. Does anyone walk into a Starbucks and ask for a decaf latte with OATS milk? I think not. OTOH, the constructor needed it for the OATS/OAST anagram.

The latter always makes me think of Milton:

"That strain I heard was of a higher mood.
But now my oast proceeds..."

But now I'm really intrigued by the story of ABU SIMBEL, which was a) carved into a mountainside and b) moved to higher ground so it wouldn't be flooded. Did they move the whole mountain? Or somehow separate the temple from the rest of it? Pretty amazing either way.

Bruce Haight, thanks for stopping by, as you always do.

Carola 10:34 AM  

I loved @Bruce Haight's insight that adding an H to a noun in a common phrase could turn it into an olde-timey verb form that would still make sense in the phrase. Inspired and funny. I caught on early with PICKETH LINES, but I still found the theme a bit of a brain twister. That and the tricky clues (PARASKI!) moved this one to the challenging side for me, and I enjoyed working it all out.

@kitshef - I think your armada example is stellar.

@Bruce Haight - Thanks for commenting - and reminding me of the hysterical BUTT WEIGHT. Keep them coming.

@Anonymous 9:49 - As someone at high-risk for Covid, I've watched with dismay as Covid case numbers rise in those who are vaccinated and boosted. However, the data on case rates for hospitalizations and deaths show the benefits of being vaccinated and boosted. For example, in my state the hospitalization rate for the unvaccinated is twice that for the vaccinated and boosted; the death rate is seven times as high.

Joseph Michael 10:35 AM  

Fun concept and enjoyable puzzle but the only themer that really landed for me was PUBLIC TOILETH.

Had a DNF at 42A thinking that maybe the symbol at the top of my iPhone for Internet connection was a set of HUTEL BARS.

25D and 26D make an apt pair, given that CHRIS Rock probably did have a mal de TÊTE after his encounter with Will Smith

Funniest comment so far: JustMarci (8:27) That CVS receipt drives me crazy.

Anonymous 10:36 AM  

Best I can say for this puzzle is the cluing’s pop culture references reminded me how young I am. I can hear this puzzle’s knees crack when it stands up from outside the house…

GILL I. 10:42 AM  

My Tee hees runneth over.
The puzzle? Wateths not to like? Well...maybe spelling VALLI. And...I'm not a TikToketh person so I don't understand why the CAT is a funny subject.
My favorite? PUBLIC TOILETH and reading @JD 7:30 and her little balls and toilets. ... My husband and I did a lot of car travelling throughout this USofA. I judged every single state by the cleanliness of their road-side little pissery's. The dirtiest... hands down?...Utah. (yet their state is pristine). The cleanest, hands down?...Kentucky (yet people throw out used diapers on the roadsides).
The worst part about toilets is that I have nightmares about having the desperate need to use one only to find they are filled with filth (AKA Caca.)... they have no toilet paper and the doors are always locked. I need a psychiatrist .

@Jutarcie 8:27. HAH!..good one. I always wonder how many trees have died just so that you get $1.00 off of toilet paper.

@Gary Jug 9:21...Yikes. Hope you recover soon. I have (sadly) many friends who have recently gotten Covid. All fully vaccinated. I still wear my mask in public places.

Bruce...A joy, as usual. Do you also do Mother Jokes?

Diane Joan 10:43 AM  

@Gary Jugert I hope you feel better and are out of quarantine soon.
Don’t listen to the naysayers. Keep up with your vaccinations. I also have had 4 shots, was exposed to a live case a month after my second booster, and didn’t get Covid. I’m sure we’ll all test positive eventually as the virus becomes endemic. If it protects us to the extent that it’s like a cold then the shots are worth it.

Thankfully my grandson eats Kix or I would’ve struggled with that one. I liked the juxtaposition of 7,8,9,10 down. “Am I the only one?” “Con” “Are we good?” “Yes”. And that’s how I feel about this enjoyable puzzle!

Anonymous 10:48 AM  

The are no B Streets in DC. What would be Bs in the road grid are Constitution and Independence Aves.

TJS 11:08 AM  

Interesting that Mr. Haight checks out this site given the usually nasty treatment he is dealt from Rexxie. Class move.

I'm going to check out that Abu Simbel structure too. They moved the mountain ?? And why are they temples if you cant go inside ? Surprised that Rex didn't get distraught over Nefertiri being dissed in the 15th BC.

Anonymous 11:10 AM  

Surprised more of you didn’t complain about PARASKI - I googled it and I’m still sort of confused about the whole thing. Loved seeing Frankie VALLI in there, more of that please! Also enjoy any pagan tributes, so I liked HEXES meaning DOX can stay.

jae 11:10 AM  

Medium. I had some problems with TETE and parsing FADDIETH. Pretty smooth and mildly amusing, liked it.

Barbara S. 11:14 AM  

This was a giggle. I probably shouldn’t confess that PUBLIC TOILETH was my favorite.

I learned stuff: HEXES is a new meaning for “Whammies”. I’ve come across both BOCK and “Schuss” but have never been quite sure what they meant. I’m not convinced about “chisel” as a clue for ETCH. Fundamental to the etching process is the use of acid to incise the lines. “Engrave” might have been more accurate (but, of course, wouldn’t fit into the grid). Also, “thingy” and ITEM seem like two different tones of voice. I was expecting the answer to be something like “gizmo” or “whatsit” but I couldn’t think of a 4-letter version.

@Nancy (from yesterday): I’m a fan of “The Skin of Our Teeth,” probably because I studied it in school with a teacher who really brought it to life. Sabina’s asides are memorable.

Clue: Guards doth forget whom they’re supposed to be protecting?

bocamp 11:14 AM  

Thx, Bruce, for an outstanding Wednes. challenge! :)


Top 1/3 very easy; the remaining 2/3 tough.

Loved the theme; it was helpful but offered resistance at the same time.

ARTS _ COOL seemed a bit of an outlier, but apparently it is a thing: (Artscool)

Fun solve; enjoyed it a lot! and, thx for stopping by Bruce! :)

@Son Volt (8:05 AM Sat.) / @Carola (10:15 AM Mon.)

Ditto re: the 'Stumper'; esp. the NW corner. Did manage to get the green light, tho (always a great feeling)! :)

Very interesting article featuring Spelling Bee, Wordle, Sam Ezersky, etal: here.
td pg -2 / yd's: pg -3 / W: 4* / WH:3 / Sed: 18 / Duo: 34

Peace 🙏 🇺🇦 ~ Compassion ~ Tolerance ~ Kindness to all 🕊

Whatsername 11:48 AM  

@Gary J: BOO on the Covid diagnosis! Agree with others who said don’t be discouraged. I have not had the fourth vaccine but being ultra cautious, wearing mask, etc. while the virus is still very much here among us. Glad to hear your case is a mild one. Hang in there and feel better soon.

lodsf 11:55 AM  

That BUTT WEIGHT clue/answer is right up there in Merl Reagle territory.

Anonymous 11:57 AM  

Was expecting Hendrix. This was so beautiful and heartfelt. Never trying to do too much. Sincere. Human. A tender short novel.

Anonymous 12:01 PM  

As it has been made clear by the world's top scientists, the Covid vaccine does not prevent getting the disease.

yet another anti-vaxxer falsehood. the current drop of vaccines, Novavax's (just passed by the AdComm) included, target Covid-Wuhan; none have completed trials against anything like Omicron, fur shur. if Covid-Wuhan should come around again on the guitar, you won't get infected. if your content to die, skip the shot.

Anonymous 12:13 PM  

there are A and B streets in The District; at least as residents understand it. yes, A Street and B Street don't exist, but the alphabet repeats into 2 and 3 syllable names.
"The streets would be given one-syllable names in alphabetical order. When the one-syllable series ended, two-syllable names would be used, and then three-syllable names. Only in the Northwest Quadrant was a "fourth alphabet" necessary. This fourth alphabet uses botanical names without regard to the number of syllables: Aspen, Butternut, Cedar, etc. Verbena Street NW is the last in this series before the Maryland state line."
-- the wiki

bocamp 12:57 PM  

@Gary Jugert

Speedy recovery! 🙏
Peace 🙏 🇺🇦 ~ Compassion ~ Tolerance ~ Kindness to all 🕊

Teedmn 1:09 PM  

This went slowly for moi - I messed up the center big time by mis-remembering my French phrase as "mal de Trop" rather than the correct trop de mal. I even spent some time wondering what "bad too" meant, d'oh.

My first thought for PUBLIC ____ETH was "public works" but PUBLIC WORKETH wouldn't fit the theme. It did add some black ink to my grid though.

I liked the clues for OINK, ARK and HOTEL BARS, though I see Rex's point on why the ARK clue doesn't work as well as it first seemed to me.

Thanks, Bruce Haight, nice job!

JD 1:57 PM  

NYT editing team, the next time a puzzle uses Lexi (tomorrow? a couple days from now), Lexi Rubio is the name of a 12-year-old who was murdered at the school in Uvalde. Her father testified before Congress today.

@Gary, I can't control my own mind. Feel better dude. Good for you for having the vaccine that turns a potentially fatal disease into cold symptoms.

@Gio, Thanks, wonders never cease.

SharonAK 2:03 PM  

@Rex ??The ark isn't months long?? I havent read the noahs ark story in decades, but I certainly had impression they were on the ark for several weeks at least , maybe month, so the retreat would have been (maybe) months long. Loved that clue ( which I got from crosses, not from being clever)
Also thought 46A was clever and fun. I was thinking the wrong sort of chute and came up with nothing until the crosses made it clear.
Enough with calling various sorts of word play "Dad jokes". Dumb sounding phrase and seems to me it's a very personal taste thing.

albatross shell 2:24 PM  

What is Rex's objection to the clue for ARK? It was a months-long voyage? Five months long.

albatross shell 2:28 PM  

Oh. @SharonAK beat me to it.

albatross shell 2:31 PM  

No deciding which is better. CVS RECEIPT or PLUS H. Can't do it.

kitshef 2:35 PM  

Very confused by some of these posts on Washington DC Streets. DC Streets running East-West, starting in the middle of the city, are A St., B St., C St, etc. Each of the lettered streets will have a suffix, according to what quadrant of DC they are in (NW, SW, NE, SE).

For example, here is the website of the Capitol Hill Baptist Church at 525 A St. SE. https://www.capitolhillbaptist.org/

And Christian Mechanical Services at 4465 B St. SE https://christianmechanicalhvac.com/contact-us

Not every street lettered street necessarily exists in every quadrant, but most appear in at least two quadrants. X, Y, Z and most famously J are not used anywhere in the city. Once you get past W Street you get into two-syllable streets beginning with A, B, C etc. Then three-syllable streets beginning with A, B, C, etc. And there are lots of exceptions and extra names where there has been infill development and such.

Gio 2:36 PM  

@anon 12:01 I read your post 5 timed and I'm not sure what your point it. The original strain of Covid, the shots did indeed prevent most people from catching it. There were very few breakthrough cases. Once Omicron came around, the number of cases in vaccinated people went way up. This strain seems to escape immunity, be it from a shot or a previous infection. You are calling the initial strain Wuhan-Covid? And saying that if they comes around again, we better be vaccinated? Your post does not make much sense. I am not an anti vaxxer and I'm scheduled for 2nd booster next week.
Your original post said the vaccine is useless and does nothing since 4 times vaxxed people are not prevented from catching it so you said it was pointless to vaccinate. I disagree with that as even with Omicron your risk of hospitalinaction and death is smaller than the unvaccinated.

Anonymous 2:38 PM  

49d..49a could have been letter d

albatross shell 2:39 PM  

Actually the vaccines were quite effective stopping the original virus. Not so successful about stopping later mutations. At least that is my understanding.

okanaganer 2:40 PM  

Fun theme. I like ones that don't require a revealer. (Note: Rex has often opined that it would be great to have a title for all 7 days rather than just Sunday, because that would obviate needing many revealers, and I agree.)

I enjoy watching golf so LEXI crossing LIE was good. I like watching Lexi and Nelly (does that make me a dirty old man?) It's amazing how those pros can regularly hit a great shot out of a horrible location, yet if their LIE is poor enough they can't even come close.

[Spelling Bee: yd pg-2; missed these should'ves but was a bit proud of getting these.]

Anonymous 2:56 PM  

the ark is a boat, so presumably should be measured with distance units instead of time units

CDilly52 3:04 PM  

PUBLIC TOILETH was the one themer that made me chuckle. The clue for LITTER BUGS was money all the way. Top notch. I was unfamiliar with ABU Simbel, but fortunately familiar enough with proper noun word forms that ABU was an excellent guess.

Overall, I enjoyed this very Wednesday-ish puzzle. We haven’t had really well constructed wacky Wednesday for a while and full disclosure, I am one of the solvers who enjoys the occasional (and yes, usually “old school”) goofy “change a word to get another wacky word” themes. So sue me. I’m old and cut my teeth on the goofy stuff. In fact the humor is a big hook that kept me coming back to keep struggling to improve my vocabulary, my general knowledge and my solving skills. As I have mentioned before, the NYT needs subscribers, and goofy humor is one of the lures.

Sometimes I forget how long I have been solving crosswords generally, and this one specifically and how much I have learned in 6 1/2 decades. I forget the depth of craft and artistry necessary to create a truly exceptional puzzle and even moreso, to create one that meets the NYT’s publucation parameters and standards (which seem to include editorial choices with which I occasionally strongly disagree.)

Today, in my opinion, Bruce Haight hit the Wednesday bullseye. Clever, humorous, good word play and low “junk” quotient given the difficulty of creating a grid for the theme and filling in around the theme answers.

Would have preferred not to see DOX for the reasons OFL cites, but it didn’t spoil the solve for me and (again, just my opinion) this should have been cleaned up by the editorial staff.

More and more, I see what appears to be a trend of the editorial staff leaving offensive and “likely to be offensive to many/most” words in a puzzle to include words from the current vernacular. DOX certainly falls into this category. Could have fixed this with absolutely no dilution of puzzle quality. I see that it would have been a bit of a challenge to keep the last theme answer, but that’s exactly what the editor should and gets paid to do.

I always hope the editorial staff will do all it can to avoid offense while allowing the constructor’s work to shine. Bruce Haight did his part. Until tomorrow.

CDilly52 3:08 PM  

I also liked seeing OAST and OATS not merely in the same puzzle, but near each other.

Anonymous 3:24 PM  

Is the word murder offensive? Not murder. The word murder. The idea that the word dox is offensive is ludicrous. Doxxing is offensive. Sometimes criminal. But it's hardly in the same category as profanities, slurs or the like.

DigitalDan 3:29 PM  

Came here to say that VACAY is the worst modern coinage that I am aware of. BLEH!

Anonymous 3:49 PM  

@anonymous 2:38- I initially had a “D” in that box but for it to work then “DARKET PLACE” would have to be a word or or a phrase. It’s not, as far as I know.

Anonymous 4:02 PM  

!!! A research paper

albatross shell 4:10 PM  

Clue does not say the ARK was months-long. It asserts that the ARK was A months-long couples retreat. Which is true if you can see the ARK as the ARK as the event or defined by how it functions.
Baseball is a study in boredom. The ARK was a retreat.

Gary Jugert 4:14 PM  

I need to apologize for derailing some of the conversation. Mostly I wanted to celebrate what a great puzzle this was today (despite it's boob-less-ness) and to complain my cat has abandoned me in the back room. I did test positive for Covid, and while I've been diligent about masking, I'm not perfect. I am fully vaccinated and boosted on purpose. Nobody I was in contact with the week prior has had any symptoms so who knows where I picked it up. Denver is seeing a rise in infections. This thing just happens. I am extraordinarily blessed to be alive and doing crosswords after only two days of feeling like I had a bad cold. Millions of others are dead and most of them weren't able to be vaccinated. I appreciate @Gio for speaking so wisely on this subject. We're all likely to catch this bug eventually, but the vaccine makes it possible to stay out of the hospital or a pine box. I think those who believe otherwise haven't read enough to have the full picture. Now, let's stay focused in on the important stuff, like whether Washington D.C. has A and B Streets. I'm convinced it does.

Anonymous 5:09 PM  

A Street does exist, just not in the NW and SW quadrants of the city (since the National Mall is where they would be in the grid). A Street NE and A Street SE do exist.

Most of the stretches of the B Streets (in all four quadrants) were renamed Independence Avenue (SE and SW) and Constitution Avenue (NE and NW). There is a small stretch of B Street SE in the far Eastern corner of the city that is still called B Street, so I guess this clue is technically accurate. Still, it would have been better (IMO) to clue it as “D and C, in D.C.” or something like that. B Street SE is pretty obscure and many DC residents aren’t even aware of its existence. I don’t think the fact that there are streets with other names in alphabetical order is enough to make this clue work.

Anonymous 5:15 PM  

I came here to say this. Technically, there is a short stretch of B Street SE in the far corner of the city near the Maryland line (a few blocks), but most people know that the downtown (prominent) B Streets are supplanted by Independence and Constitution. (Actually, the B Streets were renamed to their current names in 1931.)

Anonymous 5:22 PM  

Most of the B Streets were renamed by congress in 1931: B Street NW/NE became Constitution Avenue NW/NE, while B Street SW/SE became Independence Avenue SW/SE. There remains a short stretch of about five blocks where B Street SE is still called B Street, in the far Eastern corner of the city. As a lifelong DC resident I would say most people (including locals) probably aren’t aware of this and think that there is no B Street in DC.

Dennis Doubleday 5:30 PM  

Rex is too sensitive. There is nothing wrong with "DOX", it is a term in general use today and it isn't as though anyone is BEING doxxed by having the word in a puzzle. Is MURDER unacceptable in a crossword? That's much worse than doxxing.

Anonymous 5:34 PM  

But was the ARK itself a voyage? It was the vehicle that made the voyage, I’d say. Maybe I’d have clued it as “Locale for a months-long couples retreat?”

Anonymous 5:44 PM  

I thought LITTERBUGS was LETTERBAGS which also would leave a lengthy paper trail… 😑

pabloinnh 5:47 PM  

@GJ-The street name is an important issue. I can tell you from personal experience that the town right across the river in VT has a street named A Street, which always makes me smile. A street named "A Street". That's it? This is not in a town named "A Town", thankfully.

Unknown 9:50 PM  

I work across then down (I know it's know the speed way to work) and I got the first three across rows completely on the first pass, then it slowed but went steadily. After all across then down, I work areas. The top was done and the SE fell quickly, but I stalled in the SW. ABU ELOISE and CHAO escaped me, and clue for MARKETHPLACES didn't leap out at me, which landed a need for help. First time in a while, especially after and easy Fri-Sat last week.

Anonymous 10:01 PM  

One of the least fun puzzles I’ve done in quite some time. Would not have finished if I wasn’t on a solid streak. Just wasn’t on my wave length, and I thought the theme was an absolute slog.

Rex Parker 6:17 AM  

What Anonymous 5:34 said


PassiveIncomeGuru 10:50 PM  
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous 12:51 PM  

Sorry, it I don't understand the Art School clue and answer. Help,please.

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