French suffix with jardin / TUE 11-15-22 / Feminine name that's also a tropical jungle vine / Humble as a manger / The Allman brother who married Cher / Old dagger / UK-based financial giant / 1980s sitcom ET / Game fish whose face resembles that of a herd animal / Healthful husks in cereal or muffins / Pointy-eared magical creature / Realtor-speak for "move"

Tuesday, November 15, 2022

Constructor: Sandy Ganzell

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging (***for a Tuesday***)

THEME: "OLD MACDONALD" (51A: Children's song featuring the animals and sounds in this puzzle) — theme answers contain farm animals featured in the song, and directly underneath said animals in the grid are their sounds. The grid also contains the song's refrain: "EIEIO" (56A: Refrain in 51-Across that accompanies the sounds at 24-, 37- and 47-Across):

Theme answers:
  • "DON'T HAVE A COW" / MUU MUU (20A: "Just chill!" / 24A: Loose-fitting Hawaiian dress)
  • SHEEPSHEAD / BABA (31A: Game fish whose face resembles that of a herd animal / 37A: Rum-soaked cake)
  • WHITE HORSE / NAE NAE (41A: Capital of the Yukon / 47A: Hip-hop dance move popular in the 2010s)
Word of the Day: SHEEPSHEAD (31A) —

Archosargus probatocephalus, the sheepshead, is a marine fish that grows to 76 cm (30 in), but commonly reaches 30 to 50 cm (10 to 20 in). It is deep and compressed in body shape, with five or six dark bars on the side of the body over a gray background. It has sharp dorsal spines. Its diet consists of oystersclams, and other bivalves, and barnaclesfiddler crabs, and other crustaceans. It has a hard mouth, with several rows of stubby teeth – the frontal ones closely resembling human teeth – which help crush the shells of prey.

Sheepshead Bay in Brooklyn is named after this fish. (wikipedia)

• • •
I want to start with the good, though this puzzle did not start good. Damn it, I'm starting with the bad again. OK, the good: I had a genuine "aha" "oh, that's what's going on" "very cute" moment when I read the revealer clue and saw that there were *sounds* involved as well as animals. To that point, I just thought NAE NAE and BABA were just your run-of-the-mill repetitive crosswordese (probably because this puzzle had a Lot of crosswordese). It was very pleasant to find out that those answers had a thematic reason for being there, and a crucial thematic reason as well (see also the revealer, "EIEIO," which is an ultra-common ultra-unwelcome bit of fill in most puzzles ... but here, magically, voilà, it's a vital component of the puzzle and not the cat hair on your blouse that it usually is. So, thematically, this was pleasing. The revealer revealed the way it was designed to reveal. In Shortzland, that is considered enough—the theme is everything and the rest be damned. Or, more accurately, the rest be Whatever, Shrug, We Don't Care. If the fill is great, great, if it's only barely passable, great. The only requirement with the fill is that it look fill-like. Overall fill quality appears not to matter to the editors, and so some days we get beautiful, highly polished grids, and some days ... we get what we got today. 

In the puzzle's defense, the theme is dense, or denser than it looks, with stacked elements in all four of the themers (including the revealer, with its shadow revealer right underneath). But still. Still. -IÈRE!?!?! In this day and age, that is close to inexcusable. Maybe I'm supposed to be grateful they didn't use the old palindrome "Able was I ERE I saw Elba," as the clue, but that is expecting far too much charity from me. If -IÈRE were the only real rough spot, even though it's a Very rough spot, fine, maybe it's a footnote in this write-up. But instead it's a harbinger, and the "hits" just keep coming. Actually, the I had already taken a bunch of "hits" before I even got to -IÈRE, which is to say, before I ever got out of the NW: RELO ETON RETIE ... you wouldn't pick on these individually, but when they come in a dense cluster, and *then* the puzzle hits you with -IÈRE!?!? ... that's just cruel. You know I'm far away from where I should be as a solver when all I'm doing is stopping to take screenshots of the subpar fill:

I was so distracted by how olden the fill is that (as you can see) I imagine that the [1980s sitcom E.T.] is ELF! I screenshotted four bits of fill roughness, but you can count a lot more if you care to. The grid is just thick with repeaters, many of them Of Yore, and since I didn't know MUUMUU and NAE NAE were themers until the end, they felt like part of the problem. HSBC is never good—just a series of letters I can never remember and have no hope of telling you what they stand for. And what the actual hell is up with the repeated sound answers. In the theme material, I get it, it's necessary: MUUMUU, BABA, NAENAE. But ... "USA! USA!"? "NOEL, NOEL!"?! Were those supposed to be a joke joke? The puzzle was a drag to fill in. I was grateful to witness the burst of thematic cleverness at the end, when I fully comprehended the theme—that was a nice moment, but it couldn't fully redeem the rest. There's just no reason that the road to your revealer should be an unpleasant endurance test.

The puzzle played harder than usual for me because I had no idea that SHEEPSHEAD was a fish and I completely blanked on WHITEHORSE. The HEAD part of SHEEPSHEAD was giving me fits because of HAH (ugh, more crosswordese) (32D: "Pshaw!"). My ELF error made things worse. I had HEH, and even wanted FEH! at one point. Really glad the clue for SHEEPSHEAD had the "face" part in it, so I could (eventually) get to -HEAD. I also had trouble with UNWORN (25D: Like brand-new tires) (me: "UN ... BALD?"), and CHOIR (I wrote CROWD at first) (16A: Group that may stand on risers). I never know how LOOIE is going to be spelled; I feel like it changes spelling based on whether it's slang for a "lieutenant" or slang for a Canadian coin or slang for a Canadian comedian (actually, LOUIE Anderson is from Minnesota, so scratch that) (and the Canadian coin is actually a LOONIE so just scratch this whole sentence). That's all the trouble spots, I think. Really liked the theme, really disliked the fill. See you tomorrow. AONE AWOL AWL ENID goodbye.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Loren Muse Smith 5:29 AM  

My aha moment was a bit different from Rex’s; somehow I didn’t read the reveal, so I just saw SHEEP, HORSE, COW, EIEIO, and OLD MACDONALD. Oh, and the LOWLY adjective describing the animals. It wasn’t until I was scanning the finished grid for inane running-my-mouth material that I noticed the MUU MUU under cow. That’s when I whooped. Looked down and saw BABA and NAE NAE and whooped anew . Jeez Louise, what a discovery. I’m so glad I stumbled upon it this way. (We also have LOW over the MUU MUU COW. And you could argue that SHEEP HUDDLE. . . too bad HORSEs don’t NOUN.

I have to admit I fall into the Shortzean camp of theme theme theme. I rarely notice the icky fill until I read Rex’s take. Different strokes and all that. Rex – good catch on the USA USA and NOEL NOEL. I totally missed those other reduplicatives.

Loved GAS LIT up top.

I’m always surprised that it’s ANOINT and not annoint.

That something good to have on hand for cold weather? A twin electric blanket arranged just so on couch to resemble a throw – all cords hidden. Don’t bother with a mere throw; you have to get the actual bed one because of the cord situation. I don’t mess around when it comes to serious winter Bravo tv watching.

“Please demonstrate” - SHOW ME. I get home from school, and Mom has some task she needs my help with. Sure, I can change the batteries in the remote or untangle her necklace chain. But first I have to stand there for like five minutes while she SHOWs ME how she can’t. I haven’t even put my purse down and now I’m watching her not be able to open the battery compartment. I’m wondering if she thinks I need proof that she can’t, if she knows I have to use the bathroom, that I just want to sit down in fugue state and stare ‘cause school is beyond challenging, that I’m a bitchy little jerk and hate myself for being so impatient. All this running through my head as I quietly watch her Need-Help validation.

That “game fish face” reminds me of a picture Mr. Burch (head custodian) just showed me of a close-up of an ant’s face, and I’ve had to re-evaluate how I feel about them. Wonder if that’s the ant’s game face, like when he’s about to sting someone. Maybe his expression relaxes if he’s just making his way over to the spilled lemonade.

I guess ‘tis the season for the Christmas-ish mini theme of NOEL NOEL, LOWLY manger animals, ELF, GIFT IDEA, UNWORN GLOVEs that are always too small ‘cause I have fat little sausage fingers but my kids mean well anyway. Oh, and the St. Luke Methodist Church’s Cherub CHOIR, with whom I stood proudly on Christmas Eves to scream Christmas carols while Mom, Dad, Bigmama, and Bigdaddy watched. Mom I’m sure always held her breath until the spectacle was over. Picture me, snaggle-toothed in my ironed, starched cherub robe resplendent with huge red bow tied just so at the collar, hair all Dippity-Do’d and bebowed also. Mom kneeling down before me as we left the house, not to smile and say, Sing like an angel but rather to squeeze my arm and hiss through clenched teeth, Don’t you pick your nose up there.

Sioux Falls 5:49 AM  

LA TIMES today: OFL has a puzzle published!

Prefab 6:01 AM  

I agree with Rex: so much bad fill today! And he didn't even get to HAROLDS or BRANS.

Anonymous 6:22 AM  

@Rex. The Canadian coin is a LooNie, you know, onaccounta the loon.

OffTheGrid 6:25 AM  

Nice to have some BABA with my breakfast today. It's been a while.

GAC 6:54 AM  

Nice puzzle, probably difficult to put together with all the theme stuff. I'm with Will Shortz on the fill - if it fits it's fine. There will always be fill.

Lewis 7:02 AM  

@M&A -- First MUUMUU in ten years!

kitshef 7:12 AM  

The theme was udderly brilliant.

Only nit: HAROLDS Chicken seems awfully niche.

Bob Mills 7:15 AM  

i thought it was easier than Monday's puzzle. Ignored the theme, which helped me get through it in 15 minutes.

Wanderlust 7:27 AM  

Like @LMS, I just glide over crosswordese, hardly noticing it (but IERE is truly awful). Rex almost always brings it up, usually as a criticism of “Shortzland.” I feel like, unless you can make a puzzle with almost no 3s or 4s, you’re going to have crosswordese. So today I had a perfect way to test that. Seeing the comment that Rex made the LATimes puzzle (also WaPo, to which I subscribe), I went and did it. And it is excellent, with a really clever Rexian theme. The last theme answer made me absolutely guffaw. I encourage you to do it.

But I could make the same list of boring, common fill from that puzzle that Rex always makes from the NYT puzzle. I can’t do so here because many of you (I hope) will solve it. But there are tons of abbreviations and shortened words, lots of crosswordese, a four-letter “beauty store chain” that I’ve never heard of … plus some slightly longer, very nice fill. My
point is I LOVED Rex’s puzzle. It sparkled with his delightful wit (which is why I read him). But I really don’t think the short fill is any better than today’s. I am being somewhat critical of our host here, but he is being critical of Sandy Ganzell (you can’t just blame the fill on Shortz), who made a fun and intricate puzzle. I feel vindicated in defending Sandy’s fill after seeing Rex’s on the same day.

As for today’s puzzle - AONE. I wish GET HELP had been clued more in the vernacular, as in “Yet another rant about crosswordy fill? GET HELP!” Sorry, couldn’t resist that.

Dr.A 7:33 AM  

Well you were actually nicer than I would have been, that’s probably a first. I didn’t have any trouble with this puzzle, filled it in quickly for some reason, but I hated it. So much crosswordese. Boo.

Ann Howell 7:47 AM  

For once had a totally different experience than Rex - whizzed through it and found that half the puzzle got filled in automatically, without me even seeing the clues. That being said, also fell into the LOUIE/LOOIE trap, so that held up the solving music for a while.

Side note, had never heard of a sheepshead fish so looked it up - handsome fellas! lol

TTrimble 7:51 AM  

Medium-challenging, huh. I thought Rex would rate this Very Easy, because I zipped through this faster than yesterday, mainly because I found the clues close to remedial. Just soooo simple. Adding to that, there was a childlike element to the theme, so even if you, like Rex, temporarily forgot WHITEHORSE, you knew HORSE had to be in there, and COW, and SHEEP. (No pig, alas. I wish there were a pig.)

I do think the theme and the animal noises are very cute. But those animals were very tame to this solver: had no bite. Ah, well, maybe good for a Tuesday, but I think it should've been a Monday instead.

I have no prob with -IERE. There the cluing was merciful because how else are you going to suffix "jardin"? (Plus you have all those easy crosses, Greek war god, c'mon.) I was like Horshack, "ooh, ooh, I know!" Anyway, I'm not sure why Rex thinks IERE is inexcusable in this day and age. He goes on and on about it. Is it that the letter sequence looks ugly to him?

Learned something new from @LMS (not unusual): fugue state. I had to look it up. The word "fugue" is related to "fugitive" and implies flight (tempus fugit = time flies). So maybe a flight from the here and now? While driving sometimes, I've had reveries so deep that when I came to, had no idea where I was: is that an example of a fugue state? Then there's the musical fugue, which I'm trying to fit in here: is it that the style permits flights of fancy as the material is developed? Maybe there are musicians here who can help me out.

SB: QB yd and dbyd. Feeling optimistic about today's.

Anonymous 7:55 AM  

Really enjoyed today’s LAT puzzle….

Real solver 7:56 AM  

@Bob Mills. If you ignored the theme you didn't complete the puzzle.

Son Volt 8:05 AM  

I can deal with this on a Tuesday. The fact that the animal sounds are located directly below the themers make up for some of the unfortunate fill. The big guy shouldn’t comment about ugly fill - yes IERE is rough but today's LA Times is loaded with similar - see 3a and especially 40a.

Agree with Rex on the dupes - I get using MUU MUU and NAE NAE - but why cross with USA USA? Also oddly clued doubles with GREGG, BETTE, EBB, DEBBIE etc. All of that made this one of the quickest Tuesdays in recent history.

I’m with @LMS - fantastic seeing LOW atop COW. LIANA is a cool name. I think of Truman whenever I see SHOW ME.

SENORA May and Tyler Childers

Enjoyable Tuesday solve.

Peter P 8:07 AM  

This one was in my wheelhouse, so a very quick fill, a good minute plus faster than this week's Monday for me. I will say, though, HAROLDS surprised me. I'm a Chicagoan, so that was a gimme, but I don't expect anyone outside the area to possibly know that, and even some in the area might not know that. But it did make me smile after seeing years of NYC-centric clues (fair enough, it's the NY Times) about neighborhoods or whatnot that are gimmes for New Yorkers and people familiar with the area.

I don't know what in the heck kind of fish SHEEPSHEAD it (Google tells me it has human-looking teeth. Look it up -- it's freaky), but there's a pretty cool point trick-taking card game played in Wisconsin by that name, related to the German game schafkopf, doppelkopf and, crossword favorite (and my favorite), skat. I kinda wish it was clued that way, but I'm guessing that was even more esoteric than the fish.

I don't remember being annoyed by the fill. I enjoyed all the reduplicative word answers like MUUMUU and NAENAE and NOELNOEL, etc. Was that just a mini-theme running through the puzzle? Was it supposed to be related to the Old MacDonald puzzle? Like "moo moo here, and a moo moo there"? NAE could be "neigh." BABA obviously a sheep. But it doesn't work with NOEL and USA, so I don't quite get it, but I enjoyed seeing all the reduplicative words.

For me, the puzzle was a solid B+. I enjoyed it thoroughly.

Lewis 8:17 AM  

Well, after seeing the animal sounds, made from non-farm words, directly under the animals themselves, it was a wow-wow here and a wow-wow there. And then everywhere a wow-wow when I saw that there were a sky-high 65 squares devoted to the theme, showing great constructing skill. This was one of those so-darn-terrifically-done themes that makes me ashamed to even look for nits.

Sandy, your classic, timeless puzzle, brought not only wows, but a big smile in my heart. Thank you for this!

Bob Mills 8:40 AM  

For Real Solver: If all the squares are filled in correctly, then I completed the puzzle, didn't I? What is your standard for success?

Geezer 8:42 AM  

I Read the clues for IERE and HSBC. Didn't know. Moved on. Both filled with crosses. Not IRE-worthy.

Carola 8:42 AM  

Easy and adorable. I'd noticed LOW over COW, and that above-the-theme placement distracted me from the MUUs, BAs, and NAEs below - until the reveal made me look again. Hiding in plain sight - I loved the playfulness. I also liked the shout of NOEL NOEL! as a reminder that the manger-clued LOWLY echoes the carol's "The cattle are LOWing...." I thought this was a joy of a Tuesday

Help from previous puzzles: NAE NAE. No idea: HAROLDS.

@Peter P 8:07 - This Badger Stater wondered, "There's a fish that's the same as the card game?"

Thomas Cullen 8:44 AM  

To LMS: When I have lunch with my 93 yr old mother on Wednesday, we do the Monday puzzle together on the screen. Time was she would have zoomed through it, but it’s a struggle. A chronic issue is how long to wait for her to pull an answer I know she can get, but she is intent and patient throughout, pleased when we finish, and recurrently surprised at the happy music. It’s a nice time and has added immensely to the appeal of Mondays for me.

Anonymous 8:47 AM  

Anyone know’s called a SHEEPSHEAD.? As a kid fishing from a jetty on the Texas gulf coast, I caught a lot of them and never thought any part of them was sheeplike. What stood out were the black stripes. Are the teeth the similarity?

OffTheGrid 8:48 AM  

I always read I half expected this puzzle to get JC's POW. I also look at the 5's to get my starter word for the game that must not be named. HAR!

Alice Pollard 8:54 AM  

wow, very clever. finished 100% correctly but never picked up that NAENAE BABA and MUUMUU were part of the theme and placed right beneath their respective animals. Nice puzzle!

burtonkd 8:56 AM  

Nice joke joke reference to the current season of The Crown, featuring the interesting Mo Mo (sp?).

@Wanderlust, I made that point a while back that if you felt like it, you could just make a list of short words and suboptimal fill and dismiss just about any puzzle. I go over to the New Yorker, with its A team of constructors, and find all kinds of stuff Rex could gripe about. Headed there next, after the LATimes.

The sound aspect of this puzzle rescued it from being Highlights magazine ready.

At least SNEE lets us know it is an old term. Nice to learn more about LIANA. Plural BRANS gets a side-eye.

RooMonster 8:57 AM  

Hey All !
Will admit to not seeing the animal noises under the Themers. Humph. I was waiting to see how high Rex's IRE would be at the big chunk of Repeaters in the same section. I personally thought, "Was this on purpose? Or just worked out that way?" MUUMUU, USAUSA, NAENAE, NOELNOEL. Now I see it was a brilliant addition to the Theme, so all is well! What's a couple of extra Repeaters twixt friends?

Whenever you get this much Theme, you're going to end up with -ese. It's inevitable. Just be happy they're real things (well, IERE is a bit iffy [unless you're up on your French {which I'm not}]). (Ran out of parentheses types, or might've continued ) (Har.)

So nice puz Sandy. I was happily AMAZEd

Three F's

Anonymous 9:02 AM  

If you have a subscription to the puzzle, go to the archives and try the Dec 21, 2014 Joel Fagliano puzzle and make some comments here. I find it way different than recent NYT puzzles. I won't say why, so as not to sway any opinions.

Also 16 down really fits in with the present times.

burtonkd 9:06 AM  

A hearty second for Rex's puzzle at the LATimes - a theme that brought a big smile!

Sam Ross 9:08 AM  


Christopher 9:22 AM  

This is one of those days where I'm in Opposite Land, as I tore through this thing in no time and didn't even need to know that there is a theme in order to fill in the theme answers.

And I didn't even stop to think about the "sound" answers until the puzzle was finished and I read today's blog post.

Some of the fill is dreadful.

I've never known anyone named Liana, but that didn't stop me from filling in the answer.

"Eden" should never be pluralized. Ditto "bran."

I was still plugged into popular culture in the 2010s, but I've never heard of naenae (nae nae?). Just no.

And two gimmeabreaks for "iere."

This one was an eye roller on several levels. Bleh.

Anonymous 9:23 AM  

Is there a world where IRE is not used every week at least twice? I hate that word!!!

RooMonster 9:23 AM  

Ooh, little SB update for those who care. If you don't give a fig about it, then just move on. 😁

yd -1, I still do daily, just not all-fired into it like I used to be. But that's the closest I've gotten in a while. I did get a QB about a month or so ago I had forgotten to mention.

RooMonster Buzz Buzz Guy

Anonymous 9:25 AM  

@sonvolt 8:05 - i just raced over to do the latimes puzzle. no dreck there. its super tight. your comparisson is petty and silly.

pabloinnh 9:39 AM  

Played easy here, and finding the animal sounds in addition to the animals was the cherry on top.. Absolutely missed them until I hit the revealer. What a nice surprise.

The CHOIR standing on risers reminds me that a choral group I sang in some years ago was in need of some risers for our performances, so I built them. Also got to drive them around in my pickup. Rehearsals start for a different CHOIR tonight for our local Christmas pageant. I think this will be year 38 for me, so I know most of the music.

I for one enjoy seeing old friends like LIANA and SNEE (no snick?), since this is the only kind of place I see them. It seems to me that people who disapprove so strongly of crosswordese in a crossword puzzle are probably dismayed when they go to IHOP and find pancakes on the menu.

I thought your puzzle was way cool, SG, and the addition of animal speech was Simply Genius. Thanks for all the fun.

@jae-Didn't know the song title on the bottom row which nearly killed me. Otherwise easy/medium for a Croce.

Beezer 9:52 AM  

I happily zipped through this puzzle like a little kid singing OLDMACDONALD. I have to admit that I didn’t see the MUUMUU, etc until I read @Rex and when I saw THAT I thought…nice work! It’s Tuesday and I just don’t get that “het up” about the “crosswordese” @Rex pointed out. Like some other folks, I just can’t seem to get my LOOey versus LOOIE straight so I had to do some remedial work in the SE corner to get my congratulation on the puzz app.

For some reason today WHITEHORSE came immediately to mind. However, I tend to get that conflated with Yellowknife which is the capital of the Northwest Territories in Canada.

I did find it amusing that @Rex seems to think there is no “tread state” between brand new and bald tires!

Diego 10:00 AM  

Very easy for me, didn’t rock my boat, but that’s OK. Agree that the fill is tired but, rarely, does it sparkle in any puzz. The themes or the long-answers in the themeless are what usually make or break the experience, no?
Only irritant: repeats of USA and NOEL. Seems lazy, maybe not.
(What rocks my boat—Lake Lost in AZ.)

Anonymous 10:04 AM  

World Cup chant? Not this World Cup!

Anonymous 10:05 AM  

Ridiculous review - The revealer CLEARLY states animals AND sounds. Also, when you string the "bad fill" words together, of course they will seem 100x worse. . . and YOU do that EVERY day!!. . . Kudos to the constructor for a very enjoyable puzzle. Boos and hisses to the reviewer for his tedious nit-picking wrap-up. Good Day.

Tom T 10:21 AM  

When playing Words with Friends, anytime I'm looking at a rack of 7 letters that are all vowels and includes 2 E's, 2 I's, and an 0, it is an OLD MACDONALD.

My weak sauce (hello, Monday puzzle) defense of IERE is that it's a bit more interesting than the typical suffix/prefix answer.

Saw MUUMUU below COW and decided I was seeking a bovine theme. By the time I got the HORSE atop the NAENAE I knew otherwise, but I had already passed the SHEEPSHEAD/BABA (which technically should be BAa BAa), so I didn't notice the third barnyard beast until I read the blog.

Fun puzzle; played easy for me. 11 double letter combinations and 5 double word combos definitely merit a sub-theme of "Seeing Double."

Camilita 10:23 AM  

My father gave speech therapy to Debbie Gibson. That was his claim to fame.
I guess she had a LISP.

Joseph Michael 10:25 AM  

Cute theme. Thought at first that it was just a bunch of farm animals and was not impressed, then discovered the animal sounds and was totally won over.

Related factoid. The more pigs oink, the happier they are. The less they oink, the grumpier they are. So, after solving this puzzle, I want to say oink oink.

CT2Napa 10:25 AM  

At least iere wasn't clued derr ending

Blue Stater 10:31 AM  

Like Bob Mills @7:15 AM, I thought this was easier -- much easier -- than Monday's. I try to ignore gimmicks when I solve, so I wasn't aware of the theme until I got the revealer. Pretty good puzzle on the whole, I thought.

Newboy 10:33 AM  

Way too cute for the big leagues, but great small ball chops for AAA new players in the Crossworld arena. Thanks for the early week amusement Sandy. On the other coast we find OFL up to some foul smelling fun in the garden if you need a ZEN moment for extended PLAYTIME.

thfenn 10:34 AM  

Loved this. Got to the reveal with a "wait, where are the sounds" reaction, and then "voila". Perfect Tuesday. Little on the harder side for me because I immediately went with Duane forgetting GREGG had rwo Gs, along with AbOve before ALOFT. And now I know about a fish I never heard of, and I like to fish, so that was fun. Always assumed the Bay must be named for its shape, but then never bothered to check.

pabloinnh 10:37 AM  

Agree with those who liked OFL's LA Times effort. Thought his third themer was great.

Spoiler alert, the puzzle has its fair share of -ese.

GILL I. 10:41 AM  

Que fun....A Tuesday meeting with an ODE to god's creatures....sung with a chorus of muumuus, babas and naenaes perhaps in a HUDDLE in the garden of EDENS delight.
I liked IERE.... It crosses GIFT IDEA. I like pickled garden vegetables and a good jardiniere in a nice jar with some pretty twine around a tight lid. I make a few jars filled with sweet and yellow peppers, zucchini and pearl onions. The secret is in yesterday's sauce.
Didn't know HSBC nor HAROLDS. Without them, both the SHEEP and the HORSE would escape the EIEIO conundrum. We wouldn't want that to happen.
Does anyone count their chickens before they've hatched? We could borrow some peeps from the Easter basket and the chicken could peck away.
No chickens today but I liked all the other animals...Clever and charming.

bocamp 11:06 AM  

Thx, Sandy; a delightful Tues. offering! :)


Fairly smooth sailing for this one.

IERE needed all the crosses, tho.

MUUMUU accepted by SB, but not LIANA.

Got NAE NAE down pat.


We're on Apple 'Family Sharing' & 'Apple One' (which provides 2TB of ICLOUD storage), so this frees up tons of space on our computers and devices.

Have my kitchen HomePod Mini constantly playing Xmas music, so get some NOEL, NOEL on a daily basis. 🎄

Speaking of 'Treble symbol' & G CLEF, fun coincidence: I'd just embarked on today's puz, when bff texted me Reynolds' 'You're nothing but treble.' meme. 🎼

Really enjoyed today's solve! :)

@jae, pablo

Logic dictated the correct guess for Croce's mystery cell. Still, consider it a dnf, as I didn't really know either word. Gorski's New Yorker is providing a worthy challenge, too! :)
Peace 🕊 🇺🇦 ~ Compassion ~ Tolerance ~ Kindness to all 🙏

Nancy 11:07 AM  

GRAD kept me from writing in SONNY at 1A -- but I'm at least one marriage behind in Cher's matrimonial life and I haven't the foggiest idea who GREGG is. I just don't keep track of this stuff.

Has anyone used the phrase DON'T HAVE A COW in 50 years? I heard it plenty back in my youth, but don't ever hear it anymore.

I thought this was a crashingly boring puzzle with mostly sloppy fill. The repeats: USA, USA. NAE NAE. MUUMUU. The ridiculous BRANS. I normally don't care about plurals of conveniences -- but I mean really.

On to Wednesday.

egsforbreakfast 11:08 AM  

What differentiates Rihanna from LIANA? NOELNOEL.

The EAT/BRANS crossing serves as a healthy suggestion for breakfast.

Didn’t the JardinIEREs sing backup for Le Roi Elvis?

You want a challenge (I’m talking to you Rex)? Start with a grid that contains today’s themers and revealers situated with the necessary stacking and then provide the remaining fill. No crosswordese please. Only fresh and delightful fill. Can’t wait to see it.

Very, very nice puzzle. Thanks, Sandy Ganzell.

Whatsername 11:08 AM  

This could have been a totally boring Tuesday but it IS NOT. I mean old McDonald? Seriously? But the whole IDEA was completely transformed with the actual sounds included in conjunction with the animal. Bravo Sandy! That’s just brilliant right there.

My only stumble WAS in the with HSBA/BABA/LIANA/DEBBIE section. I had HSFA - thinking FINANCE which I shouldn’t have since it’s in the clue - and never heard of the cake, the singers, the jungle vine, or that particular spelling of the feminine name. So that ended up very naticky ground but mostly on me. In my own defense, I’ve been feeling very DENSE this morning since I SLEPT all night. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Anonymous 11:11 AM  

I hadn't noticed the byline on the LA Times xword. About two-thirds of the way through the solve, I quit in disgust (which I never do).

Whatsername 11:16 AM  

@Sioux Falls (5:39) Thanks for the tip on the Rex Parker puzzle. I’m off now to find and conquer.

jae 11:17 AM  

Easy and easier than yesterday’s for me. Delightful theme “aha” experience. Liked it, but I’m in “the theme rules” camp. At Xwordinfo Sandy acknowledges the awfulness of IERE and HBSC.

Nancy 11:22 AM  

The sounds went right over my head -- even though 56A sets out the 2nd part of the theme very clearly. While those sounds didn't make my solve any more fun or any more challenging, they did make the puzzle much, much cuter and more imaginative. I was too harsh in my appraisal. Sorry, Sandy.

Masked and Anonymous 11:27 AM  

day-um. This puzgrid's contents is about half theme material. I'm impressed that the constructioneer was able to fill that grid all in, at all. Let alone do it while splatzin in just a few lively Ow de Speration wafts ... an HSBC here, an IERE there. thUmbsUp.

Coulda been even wilder, if thereda been an OINKOINK here or there. But what would the OINKOINK sound-alike entry look like?? Nuthin comes to mind, yet.

fave critter sound-alike entry: MUUMUU [yo, @Lewis].
fave fillins included: GETHELP. SHOWME. USAUSA. UHAULS. GIFTIDEA [Had GIFTCARD, first, tho].

staff weeject picks: An ALF/AFT here, an AWL/AWOL there. Lotsa neat weeject stacks included today, btw.

Thanx for the farm's-worth of fun, Mr. Ganzell dude. Primo puztheme.

Masked & Anonym007Us

p.s. @RP: Just worked yer LATPuz. har. Pretty zappy.


Tom in Nashville 11:42 AM  

Personal Tuesday best for me today. No idea why - guess I was just dialed in and in sync with the puzzle author.

Anonymous 11:50 AM  

Thanks for the heads up. As a neophyte solver I rarely do the WAPO crossword. I call for a guest author to review Rex's puzzle on this blog.

The Joker 11:56 AM  

Today's theme provides the meat that was missing from yesterday's pizza theme. But pineapple.

frankbirthdaycake 12:02 PM  

Fastest Tuesday ever for me. I managed to push through it too fast to pay attention to the fill. Usually, I try to enjoy it, but if I smell a record I’ll floor it. I didn’t see anything challenging about the puzzle, but Rex often thinks the difficult ones for me are easy. Nice write up, though. French suffixes are a bit out there for a Tuesday, but fortunately I was able to use crosses to avoid it.

Gary Jugert 12:11 PM  

A really nice puzzle. IERE blocked out BABA, but who needs real words anyway when MUUMUU, NAENAE, and EIEIO are where it's happening.

Honestly, if fewer people had a cow, we'd have way less carbon in the atmosphere, but if you want to have fun at your next dinner party, say something like, "All of our efforts to save the planet will be a waste of time until they ban the cattle industry." If you've never seen the pro-hamburger crowd riled up, give it a try. Pure comedy.


1 Fix ascots on drunken Broadway singers.
2 My poetry on the Hindenburg.
3 Eve telling Adam to keep his damn mouth shut.
4 ... but was demoted to ovine arse.
5 La Brea tar pits, chai tea, and in Argentina...
6 When it just doesn't quite fit.
7 Agree the gravy boat is the way to go.
8 Looked for a town with the third-largest grain storage capacity in the world and found it.
9 Grampa talking about himself again.
10 Asked woman named after Christmas to demonstrate the meaning of the season.


albatross shell 12:22 PM  

What a wonder of a puzzle. At first I thought OK, big deal an OLD MACDONALD puzzle.
How many times has that been done in crossword history. I tried to finish using only downs (I failed), but I did get the bulk of it in done that way, including the SW and the NE, and thus never read the clue for EIEIO and barely glanced at the
clue for OLDMACDONALD. After I finished I saw MUUMUU under COW and immediately looked under HORSE and SHEEP to find NAENAE and BABA and they matched the location of EIEIO under OLDMAC. Whipcream with a cherry on top. I was glad to discover the double reveal on my own, and a bit sad the sounds were mentioned in the reveal instead of just being there to be discovered.

Also I do not like the cherry on top (except metaphorically) and always say Hold the cherry and add a little extra cream instead. And they do. The real cherry on top here was that the sounds were all actual single words of double sounds that match the doubled animal sounds in the song. Well I guess NAENAE is two words.

Notice only 2 plurals of of convenience. You could get rid of one by changing BRANS to BRAND and clue NOLODE as Failed mine, not that it's better that way. EDENS would be more of a problem. Still looking for the great white whale: the zero-plural puzzle

The doubled USA and NOEL helped to camouflage the sound part of the theme a bit.

jberg 12:34 PM  

I failed to notice the animal sounds at all--I'd figured out the theme, so didn't bother reading the whole clue for the revealer. But I did notice all the doubled words; I consider it a feature, not a bug, especially because all of them except BABA actually cross each other. Neat.

@Peter P., I grew up in Wisconsin and played a LOT of that game; I think I even made some money at it. But as I recall there's no consensus as to whether it's SHEEP'SHEAD or sheephead. I was told it was a simplified version of skat, but I never learned the latter.

Todd 12:48 PM  

I am of the camp that if you can finish the puzzle without noticing or needing the theme it reflects poorly on the puzzle creator. And yes, you can clearly still finished. Filling in all the boxes correctly is the only legitimate definition of success in a crossword.

SharonAk 12:51 PM  

Being on the Far West coast, I am probably coming on too late to reach Trimble, but wanted to tell him how much I enjoyed his comment on the Turing quote etc in the puzzle of Sunday October 30 (Which I just did yesterday when it appeared in my local paper - was out of town that day so didn't see it in the on-line)
As to everyone else's comments about how easy it was ? I did not find it so but did find I could gradually fill it all in without having to research more than couple o names, so I thought it a good puzzle,

O, todayS? Liked the theme and even more when Rexpointed out the sounds came below the animals.

Did not see what he was going on about re the fill. Many of those he listed were perfectly good words and not as over used as, say oreo. This is a Tuesday puzzle. It should have a fair level of easy and familiar.

mathgent 12:53 PM  

I just did Rex's puzzle from LAT. (My local paper prints it every day as its lead crossword.)

It had some crunch but not much sparkle. But its biggest flaw is that had 29 Terrible Threes, close to the most I've ever seen. Rex often complains that a puzzle has too much short fill.

CAK 1:10 PM  

Adroit use of parens, Roo 😉

CAK 1:19 PM  

Well, technically, horses don't NAE and cows don't MUU, so BA seems just right for the theme 😉

Made in Japan 1:21 PM  

I thought this was the easiest Monday I've seen in a long time... Oh, wait, it's Tuesday. For me, it was far easier than yesterday's - about three days easier. Few proper names, no tricky clues, and lots of gimmes. It just goes to show you that the level of difficulty of a puzzle is subjective - one person's medium-challenging Tuesday is another person's very easy Monday.

Despite the fact that finishing didn't result in any feeling of accomplishment, I liked it. I'm a little more tolerant of sub-par fill than OFL if I like the execution of the theme.

Joe Dipinto 1:24 PM  

All this time I've lived in Brooklyn and I never knew that SHEEPSHEAD Bay was named for a fish. Not only that, the sheepshead is edible and apparently tastes quite good, though it sure looks freaky.

The WHITE HORSE Tavern is, of course, a fabled West Village institution in Manhattan.

And there is a HAROLD Avenue in Staten Island. All we need is Bronx and Queens to be represented now.

ColleenAK 1:51 PM  

I agree with you re: fill. Don't understand why Rex et alia get their panties in a bunch over fill 🤔 Ya gotta have fill in an x-word puzz. No need to overthink it - just fill it in and forge ahead! 😉

BTW, I guess you live in AK! I was born in Fairbanks, grew up in NE Ohio, and have spent my adulthood in the Pacific NW. In Portland, OR, to be exact. So my blog name is a nod to my birth state, but also represents my middle and last name initials 😊

Anonymous 2:05 PM  

What’s OFL mean?

Anonymous 2:08 PM  

Hey, now! Don’t go dissin’ Harolds Chicken. It’s a Chicago institution.

Whatsername 2:16 PM  

@Rex Parker: Nice one! I’m not a sci-fi fan so the theme was more or less lost on me but that didn’t detract from my enjoyment of the puzzle. It did make me curious about those sounds though. 😄

Chris 2:43 PM  

I haven't lived in Chicago for 30 years, but still miss HAROLDS. I agree it's pretty obscure though. It was exclusivly southside until some Northwestern guys (jealous as always of the UofC :-)) opened one in Evanston 1990-ish.

otts 2:50 PM  

Two wonders: I wonder why I found this puzz easy when many who are much better at
solving did not ?
AND I wonder why shouting USA IS often defined as patriotic when we see people who are acting (to me at least) seditious?

egsforbreakfast 3:23 PM  

Just back from solving Rex’s LAT puzzle. I think it is a good theme idea, and not heavy on crosswordese or on POCs. It has a vibe like he really worked to make the fill smooth. Even he would likely criticize the fact that a key word appears in one of the clues and later in one of the answers. Of course the clue might have been edited, so possibly not his fault. I don’t want to say more for fear of spoilage, but I think it’s fun and well-crafted.

sixtyni yogini 4:57 PM  

Clever fun makes up for the junky stuff.

Crimson Devil 4:58 PM  

Like some others, I blew through this, figuring it’s another Old Macd puzzle, then loved realizing placements ! [Harold’s ? not so much] Congratulations to those who “got it” en route, and Kudos to constructor.

ChE Dave 5:18 PM  

HSBC crossing baba was a Natick for me.

Anonymous 5:22 PM  

Did any solve Tuesdays crossword puzzle in Los Angeles Times/Washington Post? I find the north easy corner to be tough - PPP?

Anonymous 7:20 PM  

MUUMUU ie mu'umu'u is a Hawaiian word. It is pronounced MOO-OOH MOO-OOH. Cows don't MOO-OOH.

Anoa Bob 7:24 PM  

I'm probably at the opposite end of the spectrum from most of yous when it comes to the importance of theme vs fill in crossword puzzles. I rarely see themes that justify the amount of space they take up in the grid. I'm hoping more for good fill, for interesting words crossing one another which to me is the essence of a good crossword puzzle.

I think a modest theme (one that doesn't take up too much space) can add a bit of spice and variety to the puzzle but I think it should share at least equal billing with the fill, if not more. I agree with The Masked One @11:27 that it must have been a bear to get this one filled at all, so props for that. But with so much space taken up by theme fill and with 44 black squares, the fill definitely took a backseat on this one.

For those of yous who value the theme and see fill as an afterthought, I sometimes think there should be some puzzle type that would allow for even more intricate, extensive theme and reveal material without the constraints of xword grid fill limitations. Maybe a kind of bifurcation where classic crosswords go more for fill quality while the new puzzle goes more for unfettered theme density and variety.

Again, given the constraints of all that theme material, the fill holds up well so I respect that but just not my cup of tea.

Anon @11:50, there is a blog with comments about the LA Times crossword puzzle at Crossword Corner. It was founded by and still hosted by constructor C. C. Burnikel.

thefogman 9:45 AM  

I agree with Rex about the overabuncance of junk fill. But even so, the puzzle was fun to solve and the gimmick was really well executed. Did it compromise the fill? Yes. But it’s a pretty DENSE theme and compromises have to be made to make it fit. Admitedly, IERE is pretty bad, but on the other hand I learned that a jardiniere is a fancy word for a plant stand. The balancing act between having a good theme and good fill can be a tricky one - but a little surgical editing can help. In this case, even though there are quite a few rough spots, I think the constructor pulled it off.

spacecraft 11:11 AM  

My first woe was splatzing down GIFTcard as being "obvious." Only to make an ugly inkblot a short time later. GIFT IDEA, really? That's not realspeak.

The rest of the crap has been mentioned, except: how many BRANS can there be? There have been a number of pluralized collective NOUNs in recent weeks; cut it out.

While solving, I thought there were two themes, the animal one and the repeater one. Didn't pick up the sounds part of it until reading the revealer clue. Still, I wondered, what creature goes "USAUSA" or "NOELNOEL?" Well, stretching things quite a bit, I suppose that there could be soccer fans chanting so rabidly that they seem more beast than human. And maybe back in the Magi day the SHEEP might have bleated "NOELNOEL" on that holy night. Whatever.

Our constructor managed to sneak in EIEIO as a legit themer, which should have been a neat way to GETHELP in the local fill; yet it did not prevent BRANS. However, it did lead to DOD BETTE Midler.

Theme birdie, fill bogey = par.

Landed a birdie in Wordle, but only after taking several minutes to suss out what it could be after YBBBB BYGYB. Glad they don't time those.

Burma Shave 2:08 PM  


The IDEA WAS you'd be GAS LIT,
it ISNOT like we SLEPT on it,


This stream of unconsciousness brought to you by OLD WHITE SHEEP and the CHOIR ALOFT.

Anonymous 3:11 PM  

Very easy puzzle. Easier than Monday's.

Anonymous 3:47 PM  

I couldn't believe how many people had a hard time with (jardin)iere; I got it immediately, and I don't touch the stuff. I find it too spicy. Every non-chain restaurant that I've been to that has hot dogs and/or beef sandwiches, offers that as a topping. Just not my cuppa, as some people say, and other people hate on this blog.

rondo 5:22 PM  

Double your pleasure, double your fun with a bunch of answers today. ZOE Saldana, how blue can you get? Yeah baby.
Wordle par with a BBBBB start.

Brett Alan 12:16 AM  

@Chris, HAROLD'S Chicken Shack came to Evanston earlier than that, because I remember it from my time at NU, and I graduated in 1988. Could go for some now, honestly. Nice to see it get a namecheck here.

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