Lowest part of a glacier / THU 11-17-22 / Flax fabric / Anxiety about not being included in modern lingo / Body parts that are rested at the optometrist's / Mount that inspired the song Funiculi Funicula / French-developed form of cooking in a precisely temperature-controlled water bath / Serving that might have a solid heart or simple tulip design

Thursday, November 17, 2022

Constructor: Hoang-Kim Vu and Jessica Zetzman

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: "LEAVE ME / OUT OF IT" (45D: With 42-Down, "I don't want anything to do with this!" ... or a hint to the answers to the starred clues) — you have to ignore all the "ME"s in the grid in order to make sense of the answers in which they appear; that is, "ME" has been added to a number of words, creating phantom (unclued) words—if you "leave ME out of it" ... now all your clues make sense:

Theme answers:
  • LINEMEN (4D: *Flax fabric)
  • REMEDIAL (20A: *Call again, on a rotary phone)
  • MEAD (24A: *Promo)
  • MELEE (18: *Spike ___)
  • LO MEIN (26A: *Cut of pork)
  • MENORAH (37A: *Grammy-winning Jones)
  • EMENDS (22A: *They may be split or bitter)
  • FOMENTS (10D: *Courier and Papyrus for two)
  • DEEMED (48A: *Important closing document)
  • "I'M HOME!" (51A: *Lead-in to texter's perspective)
  • NAMES (59A: *#5 on Billboard's Best Rappers of All Time list)
  • MERV (64A: *One parked at a park, in brief)
Word of the Day: SERRA da Estrela (25D: ___ da Estrela (Portuguese mountain range)) —
Serra da Estrela (Portuguese pronunciation: [ˈsɛʁɐ ðɐ (ɨ)ʃˈtɾelɐ]) is the highest mountain range in Continental Portugal. Together with the Serra da Lousã it is the westernmost constituent range of the Sistema Centraland also one of the highest in the system. It includes mainland Portugal's highest point at 1,993 metres (6,539 feet) above mean sea level (although the summit of Mount Pico in the Portuguese Azores islands is higher). This point is not a distinctive mountain summit, but rather the highest point in a plateau, being known as Torre ("Tower" in English). Torre is an unusual summit in that it is accessible by a paved road. The peak has a topographic prominence of 1,204 m (3,950 ft) and its parent peak is Pico Almanzor, in Spain. [...] The Cão da Serra da Estrela (Estrela Mountain Dog) is a breed of livestock guardian dog that takes its name from this region.  

Queijo Serra da Estrela (Serra da Estrela cheese) is a soft cheese from the region of Serra da Estrela. The recipe is more than 2000 years old. It is made from cardoon thistle, raw sheep's milk and salt. The cheese is soft and gooey. The cheese becomes harder and chewier as time goes by. (wikipedia)
• • •

One of those puzzles where I was tempted to go down and find the revealer early, just so I could get the gimmick quicker and move things along. Actually, I *did* go down to find the revealer, but I just looked at the clue, saw it was long and complicated and two-part, and just went back to hacking away at the grid up top. Puzzles with unclued answers are always (well, often) a bear of a challenge. You kinda sorta expect the clues to play fair, and for the answers to match the clues. The answers do, of course, match the clues ... eventually ... once you figure out the whole "ditch ME" angle. But getting started without any guidelines—rough. I knew something very gimmicky was afoot pretty early, as the NW corner was super easy and then ... nothing. Thankfully, the stars on the relevant clues let me know that the answers I couldn't get were tough *for a reason*. A truly tough version of this puzzle wouldn't have bothered to star the clues. I think I would've respected that version more, but it definitely would've taken me longer. As for the theme, well, there's a lot of it. I'd put this in the category of More Constructionally Impressive than Fun To Solve, though it wasn't a drag, by any means, and there was something ... original and engaging about the particular challenge of seeing around the ME's. Mostly adding ME's doesn't really add any enjoyment—it just changes the word—but there was one big exception: "I'M HOME!" I actually laughed at that one. That is some very creative, completely transformative ME-adding. You've really gotta break up the "real" answer (IMHO) and repunctuate it and turn the letters into actual words and everything. Just Add "ME" and watch your overfamiliar texting initialism take exciting new form! I also kinda liked the conversion (!) of NORAH Jones.

There are no uninvolved (i.e. non-thematic) ME's in this grid, which is nice. Gives the puzzle a nice consistency. A stray "ME" would be distracting. And this is one of the few times you're ever going to see clues for two-letter words—because they appear in the grid as ordinary-looking four-letter words (MEAD, MERV). So that's another interesting feature of this puzzle. Don't care much for the gotta-read-it-backwards quality of the revealer, so I'm currently just reading it the regular way, L to R, in Yoda-voice: "OUT OF IT, LEAVE ME!"

Almost all of the difficulty in this puzzle was in uncovering / discovering the theme. I don't know when I figured it out. Hang on, I took a screenshot shortly thereafter, let's have a look:

I must have seen that REDIAL was "hidden" or involved in some way in 20A: *Call again, on a rotary phone (REMEDIAL), and then seen that ME's were also involved in the NE part of the grid as well, though when I took this screenshot, I hadn't worked it all out perfectly (you can see I have AMENDS instead of EMENDS in there—probably just a hasty first stab). Once the theme dropped, the difficulty dropped as well. There were a few things I didn't know, but they didn't hold me up much. Never heard of that Portuguese mountain range, or of LOLA Kirke (50A: Actress Kirke of "Mozart in the Jungle"). LOLA had me slightly worried for a bit, since four-letter women's names can go All Kinds of Ways, and she appears in a thickly thematic area *and* crosses another answer I was having trouble seeing (48D: Put out = DOUSED). But it all came steadily together. I just circled that section until the letters were undeniable, and then finished up in the SE, where ... look, I know I have complained in the past about duplicate clues (where often one of them feels forced) and cross-references (which can awkwardly send you all over hell and gone just to find the second part of your answer), so this may sound weird, but I can't believe that the clue on ENVY didn't get the same treatment as the clue on EMMY (67A: Award that sounds like two letters of the alphabet). I mean, they cross each other. They both sound like two letters of the alphabet. That's a paired cluing opportunity made in heaven. But instead of [Sin that sounds like two letters of the alphabet], ENVY just gets the dullish [Member of a noted septet]. I can't believe the puzzle has me out here advocating for cutesy clue twinning, but times are strange, what can I say? See you tomorrow.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld 

P.S. Apparently I was supposed to see EMMY as some kind of "bonus" theme answer (?) (M + E). Not sure how that works, except to remind you of the relevant letters. Anyway, obviously the potential theme-iness of that answer never crossed my mind.

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Loren Muse Smith 5:36 AM  

Loved this. It was so satisfying seeing that the MEs were being adiosed and then finally allowing myself to consider the reveal. Absolutely perfect.

That the themers with an extraneous ME were viable words just made it even better. I agree with Rex that it would have been cool not to have the stars, but I disagree about its being more constructionally impressive than fun to solve. It was a fun solve for me.

Rex, I know, right? I rather liked EMMY crossing ENVY. Think Courtney Cox had ME NV? In a similar vein, what three letters complete this: El Chap was a famous _ _ _.

I laughed at the clue/answer for 33A. But in a nervous way, as I eat my way into old-age-hood. If my eye doctor ever says, Just rest your CHINS on this grey thing. I’m going to cry.

“Something fishy, maybe” – walking into my room after hall duty to find my 4th period kids all seated quietly and smiling at me. Talk about alarm bells going off in my head. Turns out they had hidden all kinds of stuff from my desk – stapler, tape, water bottle, pen cup, sticky-note dispenser . . .

Speaking of school, on Monday I had to leave unexpectedly as soon as I got there because of a toothache that was staggering in its intensity. (Turns out I need a root canal – any Charlotte readers who know a sedation endodontics practice who can root canal me, like, before January, have your people call my people). Anyhoo… when I miss school, I don’t have FOMO but rather FOBFOFTITIAABF. Fear Of Being Found Out For The Imposter That I Am And Being Fired. Like my emergency sub plans are crappy or my bulletin board isn’t spiffy enough or the standards for all three classes that we’re required to have posted every day are not up to date. So Monday afternoon I get a call from one of the security guys who leaves the message, Call me please. Don’t do this to a worrier. What I actually heard was James Earl Jones’s voice telling me, You are about to be fired. (Turns out it was just that one of my famous apples had had a rotten spot, and ants were showing up. He just wanted me to know to bring more apples. Could you not have included this in your message??)

PS ************** SPOILER ALERT FROM YESTERDAY**********************

SIMIAN is NOT someone who lives in Simi Valley.

Wanderlust 6:27 AM  

I don’t think Rex noticed that EMMY is a bonus themer (ME being the theme letters). So I don’t think ENVY should also have been clued as two letters because EMMY needed to be set apart.

Soooo many theme answers. I intentionally did not go down south to look at the revealer because I wasn’t getting the theme at all and I looked forward to the pleasurable Aha moment and going back to get all those WOE answers. And it was so.

LEAVE ME OUT OF IT: The introvert’s defining cry. I am one, and I think this so often. I also think it a lot at work, where I manage some brilliant but difficult people. I just want them to settle their issues among themselves and come back to me to say all is good now. But that rarely happens so I am definitely in it, not out of it.

What is the third instrument in a rhythm TRIO? I think of the rhythm section as drums and bass.

I lived in the South for years and grew to love many things about the food, such as grits — soooo good - but SWEET TEA was not one of them. Sugar water.

SouthsideJohnny 6:37 AM  

While solving, it felt like the gimmick should be more inclusive - like the words both with and without the clues should be related to the clues (I.e. both words should be plausible answers to the given clue for that entry). That would have been really cool (and probably a very heavy lift to construct). Just adding ME to get an unrelated word seems a little empty.

andrew 6:44 AM  

Solid Thursday. MElikey!

king_yeti 7:10 AM  

More evidence that WS is more interested in the art of construction than the pleasure of solving. Too bad

kitshef 7:14 AM  

Easy but choppy solve. It became a little bit of a name-fest towards the bottom with LOLA(?), NAS, CROWE, MERV, NORAH.

Cameron CROWE wrote the book Fast Times at Ridgemont High, made into one of my favorite movies. He wrote and directed Almost Famous, another of my favorite movies. I really ought to see some of his other movies some day.

@LMS - in my working days, my biggest pet peeve was people who leave a "give me a call" message. You end up playing phone tag a few times, then when you finally connect, it's "can you send me the April report?", which you could have said in your first message and saved us both a bunch of time. Or it's "what do you think is causing this trend?", which if you had said in your message I could have thought about, maybe done some research, and had an answer for you by the time we do connect.

This pairs with my other peeve - people who don't listen to messages. They see you called, so they call you back, which if they listened to the damn message they would know isn't needed.

Anonymous 7:15 AM  

rhythm trio=drums, bass, chordal instrument, usually piano or guitar.

Anonymous 7:18 AM  

@Wanderlust, you spoke my mind, especially the work part.
The third instrument in a rhythm section is piano. (Guitar comes in fourth.)
One of the great things about moving north was unsweetened tea. Finally!
@LMS: I’ve finally found a cure for FOBFO . . . It’s called retirement, and I’m getting close. Woohoo!

Loren Muse Smith 7:19 AM  

@Wanderlust gets the Supreme Comment of the Day award for catching the EMMY/ME deal.

Wanderlust 7:26 AM  

That’s high praise coming from the queen of Supreme Comments. I am giving the award back to you for your hilarious CHINS comment.

Anonymous 7:44 AM  

Plus: the revealer revealed something. I was struggling until I got the revealer.

Minus: I never get too interested in puzzles that include unclued answers. I know it’s not everyone’s thing, but I’d have liked something like CORRECTIVE REPEAT PHONING for 20A clue.

Anonymous 7:47 AM  

At first I had amends as well which makes the southern cooler SWEAT TEA, which managed to gross me out before I figured out the problem. Now it just makes me laugh.

Joaquin 8:06 AM  

Clever, fun, and challenging. Perfect!

Lewis 8:08 AM  

I like how the theme shifted my thinking to where, when I came to a starred clue, I’d guess at the answer and see where ME fit in to make another word – all this in my head. It was like thinking in another language. This pleased my hungry-to-wordplay brain immensely.

I also liked TOE crossing TOW, and how DEEMED backwards still spells DEED when the ME is taken out. Also, having LEAVE ME and OUT OF IT read right to left reminded me of Hebrew, and thus seemed to sync well with MENORAH.

This is the constructors’ third collaboration, to balance out the me-me-me scheme of the puzzle, happifying my Libra sensibilities. And what a lovely diversion with which to start the day! Thank you, you two!

mmorgan 8:22 AM  

Cute, tough, fun!

Anonymous 8:23 AM  

Solid and enjoyable puzzle. Theme was a little tough at times since the ME could be anywhere but for some reason got the theme answer immediately and was able to hack through most of it. Felt about 15-20% too heavily PPP-reliant which stops being clean fill at a certain point.

Anonymous 8:25 AM  

Anyone else have "Obie" before EMMY? Any other awards that could fit that clue?

Barbara S. 8:27 AM  

Not fun to solve? What?? I thought this one was a joy from beginning to end. But you see, here’s a prime exemplar of my difficulties at 1A and in the NW corner generally. [Future yearling] – OK, I thought, this could be FOAL, cOlt or fawn. So, I looked at 1 to 4D. 1D [In play] – no idea; 2D [Years ago] – hmm, maybe “yore”? But that blows any of my three possibles for 1A. Moving on, 3D [Small building block] – Hah! I know this one! “lego”! Brilliant! Ergo, 1A must be coLt! Problem solved. But I couldn’t get 4D, it being a themer and me not having yet figured out the theme (I was only 12.5 seconds into the solve). So I left the NW and moved through the rest of the grid. And then, plod, plod, had to come back and finish up the NW at the very end, filling in LINEMEN and REMEDIAL (the theme was an old friend by this point) and correcting “lego” and “coLt” to ATOM and FOAL. Sigh. ‘Twas ever thus.

I was amazed that malachite is an ORE. It gets refined into such beautiful gemstones…with healing properties? Well, I don’t know about the healing properties, but it’s drop-dead gorgeous in a ring or a necklace.

Shades and TINTs are different. This has come up before – I feel quite recently – so stop me if you’ve heard it. A TINT results when you mix a pure color with white, a shade when you mix with black, and a tone when you mix with grey (equal amounts white and black). The NYTXW uses these terms interchangeably to the chagrin of the artistically nit-picky among us.

Never heard of SOUS-VIDE, looked around out of curiosity, and found this snippet from an article in The Guardian: “In short, while SOUS-VIDE has some benefits in a restaurant environment, it’s really not worth bothering with at home, unless you have more money than sense. If you enjoy cooking, as Byatt does, “be prepared to be underwhelmed” (May 3, 2019, emphasis the author’s). Yikes, OK, striking “water oven” off my Christmas list.

[SB: In the past week since I last reported, I got 2 0s and a bunch of -1s and -2s. Some misses.. I thought the H-word was a proper noun. And still do.]

Anonymous 8:31 AM  

Oh dear Lord, Rex, I so enjoyed this puzzle, and you so didn't. I saw ME's all over the place, and it called to mind all the times people insert themselves where they are not wanted - ME, ME, ME, ME. And my usual response to all of this, LEAVE ME OUT OF IT, is why I was tickled when I got to the revealer. I loved the understated ME at the end in EMMY.

ENVY as the would-be-paired answer of words that sound like letters only would be as dull a thud for me, like Soft-G as head of a giraffe -- those annoying sound of the words things that are not about anything.

Letters in the news - NV, go Nevada! AZ too, go Arizona! I'm so glad respect for democracy prevailed in all those Secretary of State races. I spent yesterday watching the cloture vote in the Senate for the Respect for Marriage Act with five bipartisan cosponsors of the bill speaking about why it matters - no lame ducks here, only spry geese. Shout out to LDS other denominations for getting on board with marriage equality.

Ooops, slipping into a bit much of the first person personal upon the occasion of this puzzle. I am just so...heartened...is all.

Barbara S. 8:39 AM  

@albatross shell (from a week ago)
Yes, I did omit Katharine Hepburn, an egregious oversight. I've been doing penance ever since by intoning "The calla lilies are in bloom again" at regular intervals.

H. Gunn 8:43 AM  

@ kitchef 7:14am

I seems you haven't kept up with Dr. Rick on voice messaging https://youtu.be/nmwdp2lDvxk

TTrimble 8:45 AM  

I would have rated this Easy-Medium for a Thursday. That LEE and ENDS were the actual correct answers and that you had to do something to them for the Thursday gimmick was evident pretty early on. It's hard to recall the precise "____ Blanc" when I cottoned onto the "the", but it was shortly before sorting out the revealer. (I'm frequently confused, in these cases like 45 Down "together with" 42 Down [LEAVE ME OUT OF IT], by which order in which to split the answer, but the cross EMMY made it clear.) A fairly smooth and pleasant solve from that point on.

The puzzle seems quite clean and clear of crossword-y dreck. Very light on the 3-letter answers. I thought Rex might've noticed that, that he didn't on this day cry out in pain and write out the litany of crosswordese he finds almost any other day of the week. I thought this puzzle was at least as good as his puzzle from the other day (which was nice). He could be a bit more gracious. (Thanks to Wanderlust for pointing out what RP missed. In retrospect I heard something whisper to me when I entered EMMY, but I didn't quite catch it until I read Wanderlust's explanation.)

SB: I got yd 0 after all, after a lengthy floundering session with the g but not the p in hand. At last a something went off, or on, in my brain. D'oh! The two longest entries occasioned the most difficulty, but they should have been obvious a lot sooner.

Anonymous 8:49 AM  

Amy: Fun solve. Even better are today's comments. Another introvert here, recently retired. Y'all are reminding me of why
that's a good thing. So agree on the "See me" aspect of office life.

Son Volt 8:50 AM  

Neat puzzle - like the trickery. I lean more towards not wanting to highlight the themers with an asterisk but no real issue there. LEAVE ME OUT? - no Let me in

FOMENTS, SWEET TEA, EMINENCE - lots of good stuff here with limited short glue - smooth grid.

Golden SMOG with a tasty Thanksgiving treat

Enjoyable Thursday solve.

Anonymous 8:53 AM  

Had FAIR and FOWL at 1D and 1A initially and thought that was kind of clever

Anonymous 8:53 AM  

Don't generally like Thursday gimmicks, but this was satisfying. Without the *s it would have been a bear.

Anonymous 9:00 AM  

Are you kidding me? Mus, emends, linemen,fomo,?

mathgent 9:02 AM  

Joaquin said it was perfect and I agree. Intriguing gimmick with many instances, lots of sparkle, only six threes, no junk, smart cluing. I can't ask for anything more.

Karl Grouch 9:08 AM  

M&E is ok, M&A is a lot better.
( hi @Masked&Anonymous-)

Clue: 4d with 42d
Answer: 18a with 39d.

thfenn 9:14 AM  

Loved this. Struggling to get a foothold I jumped to the reveal, landed IMHOME, but then went around trying stuff like REDIALME. When it first dawned on me the ME's move around, and THEN dawned on me the results were actually viable unclued answers, well, delicious. Tough though, took awhile.

Also loved the theme counterpoint FOMO offered, being the other side of the coin and all.

Anonymous 9:17 AM  

@Barbara: American Heritage:
TINT: 1. "A shade of a color..."

There are the formal definitions used by printing and design industries, and then there is vernacular. As someone with an impulse to pick nits in other fields, I have to keep reminding myself of this.

GAC 9:23 AM  

That's a great puzzle, one of the best I can recall. It took me a lost of plodding to get to the point where the down revealers could be figured out. And that was a great AHA! moment that was so satisfying. It must have taken many hours of hard work to create this wonderful puzzle.YAY!

J.W. 9:31 AM  

Loved this one. Loved loved loved it. Had the 💡 moment early on, then got to have fun figuring out where to stick the "me" in each of the themers so that it would still make a real word. Very light on truly ugly fill. I'm giving this one Smooth Jimmy Apollo's Lock of the Week.

VESUVIUS conjures fond memories of high school band. My director, a man gone from this world far too soon, loved Frank Ticheli. Great song. https://youtu.be/jVwnkdtJIMw

Terra Schaller 9:53 AM  

Coming along nicely, wouldn't you say. They might be pruning the synapses in my aching head, but the vines are having a go with each other. Yeah!!!!

Anonymous 9:56 AM  

Guitar or piano

Whatsername 9:57 AM  

A tough go IMHO, very tough until I got going in the lower half and was able to suss out the revealer. From there on, of course it was easy to finish filling in the blanks. The proper names gave me a lot of trouble. For all I knew, MENORAH and NAMES were the right answers for the clues, with or without ME. SOUS VIDE was a complete mystery, as were KALI, LOLA and SERRA.

Don’t drink LATTE so I have no idea what design it would have. Or why it would have any. Added to my own troubles in the NE with FOLO, fear of Losing instead of Missing. That took a while to straighten OUT. Then FWIW, I tried to determine if there is a recognized medical phobia for that particular social media term, and the best I came up with was Athazagoraphobia, the fear of being forgotten or ignored. In case you were wondering.

Beezer 10:20 AM  

This puzzle was brilliant and I was SO pleased I was able to not only finish it without cheating, but also grok the theme while I was solving! So many great clues and answers.

Hey. What about this? SIMIAN (See ME in), then Leave ME out!

I am NOT the type of person that would know SOUSVIDE but whaddaya know my daughter/SIL have one up in Alaska. I dunno…the whole process seems a bit “suspect” to me PLUS it takes up a lot of room! But…one thing I’ve learned is that people tend to have HUGE garages in AK to store equipment, snow machines, etc. so I guess a SOUSVIDE wouldn’t be a storage problem.

Trina 10:23 AM  

Really enjoyed this! I figured it out before the revealer, though I wasn’t quite sure. The revealer of course cemented it. TG for the asterisks, can’t imagine solving without!

Rachel 10:25 AM  

Seeing Serra da Estrela in this puzzle was a highlight! I went hiking there during my trip to Portugal in late August 2021. It's a lovely place with some cute towns around the park. The hike actually kicked our butts! We had dinner in a little town at a sidewalk table of a family restaurant. The grandfather was sitting at the next table drinking wine with his friends, his children were inside cooking, and his grandson was our waiter. Serra da Estrela is a ski resort in the winter (who knew?), but the grandson/waiter told us that for the past few years they had gotten much less snow than usual due to global warming. And then that was a reminder about how Europeans so non-controversially accept global warming as a fact, even those who live in rural areas. I think we can learn from them.

As to the puzzle, I thought the theme was clever, although a couple of the theme answers were boring and crosswordese-y (like emends and deemed). The NW corner was actually the hardest for me. I thought 2 down was "yore" and Oprah was "idol," and that messed me up.

Anonymous 10:28 AM  

Actually, rhythm guitar is a standard instrument in most rock bands - bass, drums, and rhythm guitar make up the rhythm section. Add lead guitar and vocals and there you go.

CDilly52 10:32 AM  

Huge kudos to our constructors today for a clever theme, artfully constructed with incredibly dense theme material! Holy cow, what a huge number of legit words with “me” in them that got crammed into this grid.

I’m sure my husband would have said that with the dictionary in the computer memory, he could write a quick routine that would pull all those out. Well so what. I don’t care how they did it, this was impressive.

On the solving side, this was also the type of theme I really enjoy on a Thursday. The large number of theme answers made it a little harder to find a spot to get some zoom zoom going and for me, that gave me the sense of urgency I like a lot.

I got FOAL, ANTI and ICON easily and was pretty sure REDIAL was the answer at 20A, but the first letters from FAIR, ONCE and ATOM left me doing the head scratch. Of course I noticed the *s. Looking around, I noticed the hige number of them, so I looked around for places without them and got a good start over on the east side, pretty much all the way down. That gave me EMENDS and DEEMED from the downs and the light bulb went on. I saw the “split ENDS and the DEED, and went back to fill in the NW REMEDIAL and LINEMEN, and all the rest. Ended up a tad quicker than my typical Thursday. I liked it.

RooMonster 10:33 AM  

Hey All !
I thought the peeps who say "the theme shouldn't be this much pointed out" would actually like this one, as it really isn't too much in-your-face. But now, I read some of y'all saying "take out the stars in the clues for more of a challenge". Holy moly. For me, if there weren't starred clues, I would've never seen the theme. I would've solved it wondering what in tarhooties the weird answers-not-matching-the-clues were all about. Then, I'd come here, and say, "Aha, take out the MEs."

I did figure out the theme, thanks to the stars. I liked they were real words when the MEs we're added, not some nonsensical blabber (like the stuff I'm usually sputtering! 😁).

Wondering how these two came up with this theme, and how it was filled. Was there a specific list of ME/non-ME words they used, or just put in the Revealer, fill the grid, and see what happens with any ME words? That second one seems unlikely, though, as the chances of getting ME/non-ME words would be small. Especially something like MENORAH. I'll head over to xwordinfo and take a peek.

So a nice challenging ThursPuz that wasn't the usual PuzFair. Although, I still don't know what FOMENTS are, although it does have an F, so that's nice!

Had IReS for IRKS, so a personal Argh! DNF. Raise the ROO(f)!

Three F's

jae 10:33 AM  

Mediumish. I caught on about a quarter of the way in but I still needed to stop and stare to suss out some of the theme answers. Also starting out with colt before FOAL drained nanoseconds.

Interesting solve, smooth grid, liked it.

RooMonster 10:36 AM  

Seem to forget this, since I don't post about it anymore, but...
2d ago -1, dbyd -1, yd QB! WooHoo!
Waiting to get back to the normal missing-lots-of-words-with-lots-of-should'ves routine. Har.

RooMonster Let It Bee Guy

bocamp 10:41 AM  

Thx, Hoang-Kim Vu and Jessica Zetzman, for this clever and challenging Thurs. puz! :)

Tough (Sat. time).

Not sure why this took me so long; got the ME idea early on, but …

Nevertheless, enjoyed the struggle! :)

@Robin (2:29 AM yd)

Same 'Mastodon' issue for me. :(

@TTrimble (7:32 AM yd)

Thx for the 'sin' / 'cos' explanation! :)
Peace 🕊 🇺🇦 ~ Compassion ~ Tolerance ~ Kindness to all 🙏

Tom P 10:46 AM  

This was definitely not my cup of SWEET TEA!

Joseph Michael 10:46 AM  

Count ME in among those who thought this was an excellent puzzle, just right for a Thursday.

Also, I would like to second @wanderlust’s nomination of @lms’ CHINS comment for Best Chuckle of the Day.

pabloinnh 10:47 AM  

Started in the NW, saw REDIALED wasn't going to work, and knew something was up, but what? Went in search of toeholds, found Mr. LOEWE, which begat SOUSVIDE, which begat LEAVEME, and then I was interrupted. When I returned, I got to the OUTOFIT conclusion to what was going on and all was made clear, and a great deal easier.

I always enjoy clues for people I have never heard of, like LOLA, appearing in things I have never heard of, like "Mozart in the Jungle". Helpful.

SERRA took a beat until I remembered that Portuguese routinely corrupts Spanish, and that made it easy. Otherwise no major slowdowns.

I'm in the fan club for this one. Nice concept and great execution, HKV and JZ Had a Killer Vibe and Just Zesty enough. Thanks for all the fun.

OH BEE 10:52 AM  


egsforbreakfast 11:09 AM  

Someone might say this puzzle is the nations 2nd largest city (lame). Well, perhaps she is homosexual (gamey), because she prevailed (women). Sorry if this comes across as non-PC. I’m just quickly fooling around with the idea. So kick ME out. Or, as the hurt kitty says, MEOW.

I felt taxed by this puzzle despite finishing in a pretty much average Thursday time. It just seemed like the brain gears were churning fast and furious the whole time. Not a beautiful flow, but more like Lucy at the candy factory. However, it was thoroughly enjoyable (but that’s just ME). Thanks, Hoang-Kim Vu and Jessica Zetzman.

Nancy 11:13 AM  

I picked up the extra ME at RE[ME]DIAL-- being old enough to have spent more than half my life in possession of a rotary phone. But now what? What did it all MEan?

I wanted to check the revealer to find an explanation -- but the revealer wasn't where I expected it to be (it was in the Downs, of all places) -- so I just started looking for extra "ME"s in the clues with asterisks. That worked well enough, even without an explanation. The puzzle got easier -- though certainly not easy.

I started off badly -- with cOlt instead of FOAL at 1A producing LEGO instead of ATOM for the small building block. I quickly straightened it out even though LINEMEN was a DOOK. (I was pronouncing it like LINEN, of course: LIN-a-min with short "I"s. I only saw LINE MEN just this minute.

The reason for the trick is perhaps a little arbitrary but the trick itself is fun and the puzzle required a lot of enjoyable thinking. Nice Thursday.

sixtyni yogini 11:23 AM  

This response is all about ME!
Clever, consistent, fun puzzle.
Slow going until I found ME.
Loved 🥰 it.

Tom T 11:24 AM  

Had really tough "wheelhouse" issues with this one, so tough that I wasn't getting anything to work, even in the non-starred clues. Part of the problem was wanting Fawn instead of FOAL. So, after running into roadblocks everywhere I turned, I made the decision to seek out the revealer. Once that was in place, of course, things turned around, beginning with IMHOME (which I loved as much as @Rex).

Finished with the LOLA/DOUSED/SOUSVIDE tangle. A hard struggle for this guy, but well worth it!

Least favorite themer: ME RV.

Carola 11:25 AM  

Easy, fun to solve, and leaving me agog with admiration at the trove of creative ME-enhanced theme answers. I caught on early at FOMENTS x EMENDS, which explained how the earlier REM.... was going to work. Then lots of happy anticipation at what the constructors were going to come up with next - favorites were LOMEIN, MENORAH, I'M HOME. Like @Rex, I regretted that the two parts of the reveal couldn't have been reversed and appreciate his Yoda-speak solution.

beverly c 11:26 AM  

I fell for the colt/Lego trap and had a challenge getting a foothold elsewhere. Thank goodness for asterisks! I finally saw what was happening with FOMENTS in the NE. But I didn’t get it straight away. Yay! For a puzzle that was puzzling!

Bruce R 11:30 AM  

Please tell me I'm not the only one that thought "One parked at a park, in brief" might be PERV (until the theme became clear).

Diego 11:39 AM  

Well constructed, clever (as nearly everybody admits), amusing, but not my cuppa java. On to Friday where WORDS play the leads.
Kudos to LMS for her consistent hilarity, particularly chuckled at the root canal plea. Been there.

jberg 11:41 AM  

I got lucky with this one. I wanted redial, and noticed that REMEDIAL would fit, and then saw that LINEMEN would fit as well (nice telephone connection, btw); but adding ME to things seemed a little too arbitrary, so I looked for a revealer in the obvious place, 67-A and 53-A. No luck, so I just plowed ahead, got a few more MEs, and felt more certain. It was fun figuring out the theme answers, but frustrating in that it was hard to tell if they were correct without getting all the crosses.

I'm not happy with the revealer. I guess if you get a theme answer from the crosses, then you do indeed LEAVE ME OUT OF IT to get the clued answer. But it seems to me it's far more likely that you will get the clued answer and then look for a way to put in the ME. So maybe "Put me in, coach" would have been better.

I loved "Mozart in the Jungle!" According to my music teacher, it's a pretty accurate portrayal of the classical music world; anyway, it's hilarious. But typically for me, I had no idea who was in the case, so I needed all the crosses for LOLA.

Nancy 12:08 PM  

"Put me in, coach" is so perfect, @jberg!!! The one thing that bothered me about this very enjoyable puzzle is that the revealer seemed bass-ackwards to me as well. That fixes the problem.

It seems we had the same solving experience: Couldn't find the damn revealer when we went searching for it in all the Usual Places and so solved without it.

Anonymous 12:21 PM  

What I really like about this puzzle is what I imagine to be its inception. One of this puzzle's creators hears this comment one day in conversation and VOILA there it is, an unexpected theme for a new puzzle strikes deep into the brain and soul. And now here it is. Published.

lodsf 12:24 PM  

Knew that “added letters” was going to be the theme at 22A - there were 6 spaces where ENDS was the obvious answer. So just stumbled along until I hit the reveal. Final clean up was helped immensely by the fact that the iPhone TINTed all the themers blue.

Had Christmas dinner last year with Greek friends and was really looking forward to the lamb. But the hostess’ son “souvied” a sirloin (they are a family of cooks) and that, for me, ended up being the stand out of the meal. So I phonetically knew the “form of cooking”; only learned the spelling today from the crosses in the puzzle.

JonP 12:55 PM  

LOLA crossing LOEWE was basically a Natick for me. I figured it out but I'm not at all a musicals person and I was unfamiliar with the actress.

I appreciated the starred clues. I would have been infuriated if the hints weren't there.

I was pretty disappointed the revealer was put into the grid backward.

Masked and Anonymous 12:56 PM  

A tamed challengin ThursPuz. [p.s. Liked yer domed do, @Muse darlin.]

Like @RP, M&A peeked ahead at that there revealer(s). Only thing was, that I happened to luck out & figure out what the reveal was probably gonna say. Used up precious nanoseconds, but it paid off in the rest of the solvequest, at our house.

staff weeject picks: DAN was definitely the hardest of the six to get. But the award today goes to: ME, RV, & AD.

Some pesky me-no-knows: FOMO. LOMEIN. SOUSVIDE. SERRA. DAN. Nuthin that did much damage to M&A's solvin ego, tho.

Thanx for the fumen, and for gangin up on us, HOANG-KIM VU & JESSICA ZETZMAN folks [The VuZetz Gang]. Nice, nonstop-wild-ass puz. Primo dirty dozen Me's. Cute EMMY mic drop, too boot. thUmbsUp.

Masked & Anonymo4Us


Anoa Bob 1:26 PM  

I solve on the NYT web site and when I clicked on 4 Down, half the grid lit up with a yellowish, peachy color! That was intimidating and distracting so I skipped to the reveal to try to clear away some of the SMOG. The backward placement of 42D OUT OF IT and 45D LEAVE ME seemed awkward but it did open up REMEDIAL and the rest became a bit of a word search.

Twelve themers gave this a scatter-shot feel, like these were the results of an ad hoc computer program. On the plus side, most of the them were relatively short so the grid wasn't overburdened and there was room left for some entertaining fill. VESUVIUS, EMINENCE and DEISM tickled my fancy. Speaking of the "Natural theology" DEISM, SIMIAN (5D) could have been clued "Like a human" just as accurately as "Like a monkey".

Drank a lot of SWEET TEA growing up in the South. We always put fresh squeezed lemon juice along with sugar in the TEA so it was really TEA-flavored lemonade.

Harry 1:27 PM  

Next time i run into someone with a sharp mind who hasn't discovered the joy of crossword solving (likely having only encountered grids of a "meh" quality), I'm going to pass this gem along. Not too tough a nut to crack; but challenging enough to keenly hold my interest and tickle ME upon catching the theme :)

Made in Japan 2:30 PM  

I agree with pretty much everything Rex said about this puzzle. In particular, his point that it was more impressive than fun to solve. Once I start seeing answers that have a "ME" added in, I just read the answer without the ME to see if it fit the clue - I didn't even bother to see if the +ME answers were legitimate if clued another way. They might as well have been gibberish. Nevertheless, the execution was well done, and there was some enjoyment in looking at the final grid and seeing what the added ME answers were. I seemed to recall a similar puzzle not too long ago, where the unaltered theme answers were given clues in a hint at the top. That was a bit more clumsy than this one, but I have the same issue with both.

okanaganer 2:42 PM  

For some reason I got the trick right away... I think maybe it was the rotary phone clue. Because of that it went real quick; without the asterisks I'm sure it would have gone a lot slower.

The IRES / IRKS Kealoa gave me real pause; fortunately KALI sounded right.

@Barabara S, me too for LEGO and COLT. And agree with your SB comment about that H word... it's capitalized pretty much everywhere on the web.

[Spelling Bee: yd 0; @TTrimble... those 9ers took me a while too. They were my 3rd and 2nd last words!]

Pete 2:51 PM  

I'm kind of doubtful about the relationship between FOMO and "Anxiety about not being included, in modern lingo". I get that not being included can be a form of missing out, and anxiety almost means fear, but FOMO is not about not being included, it's about not doing enough things. FOMO isn't not being invited to the sky diving trip last weekend, it's about one's never going sky diving or anything like it.

@LMS - I've had more than my fair share of root canals. Just tell them to double up on the pre-shot numbing process, and to just wait a damned second or two to have it take effect before you jab me. The rest is just boring.

Timinoc 4:04 PM  

How could you resist a Taylor Swift reference?

It’s ME. Hi. I’m the problem it’s ME.

Anonymous 4:10 PM  

My favorite puzzle in years! Menorah and Norah?!!!

Anonymous 4:52 PM  

Another Thursday, yet another hated gimmick grid

Nancy 5:44 PM  

@Barbara S (8:39) -- Just remember: No matter how rotten an actress you are, you can't intone it any more hammily than Kate did.

How she became a top movie star after that awful clunker is a mystery. Bone structure, I suppose.

Sean McSean O’Sean FitzSean 6:32 PM  

Having just binged on 30 Rock, the clue for 32D (homophone of 6D) reminded me of the awesomely bad game show Celebrity Homonym that figures in a minor way in the last season:

Anonymous 6:36 PM  

Having just finished a 30 Rock binge, the clue in 32D (homonym of 6D) yielding knead/kneed made me think of the deliciously bad game show that appears in an episode of the final season: < https://youtu.be/WZLkcFns8Ks>

jae 7:06 PM  

@jberg - I too loved “Mozart in the Jungle”. I believe you can still stream it on Amazon Prime. I too did not remember the name of the actress who played Hailey the oboist but her character is delightful and is the focus of the series. I highly recommend it and it has a 94% on Rotten Tomatoes.

B-money 7:09 PM  

I too had COLT for 1A, which gave me LEGO for 3D, which, yeah, screwed up the whole NW corner for a long time.

I also had OBIE for the last across which did the same level of damage.

Once I figured out the theME . . . . [ka-ching!], the puzzle got much easier, and I finished in just under my average time for a Thursday.

I'm bewildered by rex's comment that the puzzle would have been improved if the themed clues were not starred. For me, that would have taken this to a Saturday-plus level of difficulty, and I suspect I am not alone.

TAB2TAB 7:17 PM  

For those of you who dislike the 'phantom' unclued answers, how about 26A: Pork ______ ?

I think I would have preferred unstarred (*) themers over having them with a star, but how glorious would it have been if the unthemed clues all had a "me" within them, such as 1A: Horse to come? = FOAL. Then, by contrast the clues of all the themers would LEAVE ME OUT OF IT.

Any takers?

Anonymous 9:00 PM  

Can someone explain the answer to 23D?

There are two in the Greek "Mnemosyne"

I got MUS through the crosses but I'm still unsure of its meaning.

Gary Jugert 1:44 AM  

Well that was a bugger. It was challenging for ME. Been looking up a lotta stuff this week. I think I am getting dummer.


1 Asian cooking podcast.
2 A priest, a preacher, and a rabbi walk into a bourgeois gallery in the big Apple that made them laugh and laugh at the nudes.
3 The Denver Broncos.
4 How the with it linemen got the coach sticky.


TTrimble 6:36 AM  

@Anonymous 9:00 PM
The Greek letter that corresponds to the Roman letter M is MU. So there are two MUS in Mnemosyne.

Con Brio 6:45 AM  

I’m still LOLing at “chins” — even though I don’t believe it! Fun puzz!

Diana, LIW 11:38 AM  

Aside from the unknown names and Greek gods - what is going on here? I was flummoxed. Ah..tis Thursday. I've been here before. Although I want to say LEAVEMEOUTOFIT, I decide to fill in as much as possible. Lambo was helping. The sun was coming up.

Then, bit by bit, I wrote down the * answers and a pattern began to form. Like a bad diva warming up for the opera, ME ME ME ME ME became apparent.

"I think I know what's going on."

Triumph points abound. Got it! Absolutely NO lookups. My day is MADE for ME.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for another challenge

spacecraft 11:49 AM  

Started in west central with OHARE, etc. Did the downs, but then...what pork cut begins with LOM___? Left that and went south. 42d seemed to want to be OUTOFIT so I went to the clue and that was it. This gave [me] my pork loin and it was game on. Not much to slow things down after that. So yeah, a TA[ME]D tough at first, then easy = medium for the day.

Nothing longer than eight letters, so not a lot of excitement here--except for VESUVIUS. I rode a funicular in Italy, but it wasn't on the volcano. I don't think. Anyway, par.

Escaped with a *phew!* six in Wordle.

thefogman 2:04 PM  

I loved this one. So clever. With an added bonus themer in EMMY. One of the best puzzles of the year, IMHO. Nice work Huong-Kim and Jessica.

Burma Shave 2:39 PM  


IT's REMEDIAL, believe ME -
ARG, your ODOR FOMENTS IN the air,
when I'MHOME, please just LEAVEME.


rondo 3:07 PM  

It's all about ME today. For ONCE.
Except for that wordle bogey.

Ed Roberts 10:05 AM  

This was an unusually easy Thursday puzzle for me because the first starred clue I tried was “*Spike ___” and the only word I could think of was MELEE. I was on a roll after the second try (MEAD) confirmed the pattern. Loved it!

pearlgems 7:01 AM  

Pearl Gemstone (also known as moti stone in Hindi), unlike other gemstones or minerals, is not obtained from the rocks or deep forest, although, it is collected from deep under the sea.

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