Riddles in Buddhism / THU 11-3-22 / Nashville university attended by W.E.B. DuBois / Popular app originally launched under the name Picaboo / Persian for country / Absence of musical ability / University in a town of the same name / Ancient worshiper of Pachamama ("earth mother") / Mineral whose name means crumb in Latin

Thursday, November 3, 2022

Constructor: Chase Dittrich and Jeff Chen

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: ___ IN THE ___ — theme answers are familiar phrases that follow that pattern (except one of them just has "IN," no "THE"). The first blank is filled by letters that are *missing from the clue*; the second blank is filled by a word that is *synonymous with the clue* ... so the answer ends up describing the clue, thus:

Theme answers:
  • KICK IN THE PANTS (20A: _N___ERS) —"K-I-C-K" actually appears IN THE PANTS (i.e. in the word for "PANTS": KNICKERS)
Word of the Day: Leopold AUER (22D: Violinist Leopold) —
Leopold von Auer (HungarianAuer Lipót; June 7, 1845 – July 15, 1930) was a Hungarian violinist, academic, conductorcomposer, and instructor. Many of his students went on to become prominent concert performers and teachers. [...] Auer is remembered as one of the most important pedagogues of the violin, and was one of the most sought-after teachers for gifted students. "Auer's position in the history of violin playing is based on his teaching." Many notable virtuoso violinists were among his students, including Mischa ElmanKonstanty GorskiJascha HeifetzNathan MilsteinToscha SeidelEfrem ZimbalistGeorges Boulanger,  Lyubov StreicherBenno RabinofKathleen ParlowJulia KlumpkeThelma GivenSylvia LentKemp StillingsOscar Shumsky, and Margarita Mandelstamm. Among these were "some of the greatest violinists" of the twentieth century. (wikipedia)
• • •

This started out badly (for me, for the puzzle), but eventually got a lot better. I couldn't do anything with the NW corner at first pass—except INRE, so I just had this cruddy little bit of crosswordese sitting there. I made some headway in the north (EATIN' was the first thing I wrote in the grid with confidence (15A: Garden of ___ (punnily named snack brand)), but then ran into Old Crosswordese violinist Leopold AUER and Absolute Non-Phrase NO EAR and then paused and sighed a little. Felt like it was going to be one of Those Days (the ones where I continue to not understand why puzzles with non-demanding themes continue to have such subpar fill). 

Forward momentum sort of died there, but I picked up the gimme Téa LEONI and followed crosses easily down to the bottom of the grid via ANTIDOTES. At this point, I still hadn't so much as looked at a theme clue. I like to dig into the short stuff before I go after the big game, and this puzzle had A Lot of short stuff. Went back to the NW and got my first pleasant surprise—I'd wanted KOANS earlier at 4D: Riddles in Buddhism but it wouldn't fit, but it turns out I was basically right; I just needed the more elaborate ZEN KOANS! Now we're talking. I feel like at this point, the puzzle got up off the floor and started actually showing some life. And then I sorted the NW and finally looked at the first theme clue. The "aha" at that moment was potent because I got it instantly—the answer, and the whole theme concept, in one bolt! I had so much of KICK IN THE PANTS in place that I actually mostly "knew" the answer before looking at the clue. I had that one moment of [squint] "huh?" and then bam, I plugged "K-I-C-K" into the pants (i.e. KNICKERS) and all was revealed. 

The execution of the theme works out very well all the way through, with rock solid theme answers and remarkably plausible clue creations. I have just two issues, one big one small. The "big" is the idea that "ASS" = PEABRAIN. I could see it was going to be PAIN IN THE [something], but wouldn't write in ASS because, well, that's not what PEABRAIN means. "ASS" has to do with behavior and PEABRAIN has to do with intelligence, and while I can see someone yelling both insults at the same person, they don't feel very equivalent to me. My "small" issue is that there is no "THE" in the final themer. You get three blank-IN THE-blanks only to end with a themer that's just blank-IN-blank. Sometimes last themers are anomalous in a way that makes them spectacular, remarkable in some surprising way. This one just felt like a weak off-brand version of the others. Puzzle ended more whimper than bang. But still, overall, big thumbs-up to the theme today.

I watch "Stranger Things" regularly and still struggled to get ERICA (58A: Role on "Stranger Things"). She is a secondary character, but a memorable one. That is, the character is memorable. Her character name, apparently, not so much.

I initially had "Se7en" as being a movie about the Seven SEAS, which ... would (probably) have been a decidedly less gory movie (36A: The "seven" reference by the film title "Seven" = SINS). Are kids still saying TURNT? I tried to make LIT stretch to five letters, no dice. Had no idea Khan Academy did LSAT prep. They apparently do literally every academic subject and standardized test, so it's not the most helpful or interesting clue. Completely forgot that BEANIE Babies ever existed. What a time-specific fad that was, yeesh. But that fad was instrumental in the launch of EBAY, so ... it was a bizarrely important time-specific fad, I guess. You shouldn't have "Acts" in your (cutesy) PLAY clue (10A: Acts as one?) when you've got ACT in the grid (even if you have tried to clue it as yet another standardized test) (39A: Exam taken by many jrs.). I do like the cutesy PLAY clue, though. "Acts" taken together as "one" form a PLAY, nice. I finished up with BETS, which I needed every cross to get (54A: Goes over or under, in a way). The "Goes" threw me. Gambling stuff often throws me, as I just don't care. My favorite error today was when I thought Persian for "country" might be IRAN. Pretty badass to just name your country "Country," I thought. But alas, it was just the "country" suffix -STAN.

See you tomorrow.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Evil Doug 5:15 AM  

(For those of you who don't get easily triggered perusing the WSJ, Lewis offers a clever Thursday grid. Okay, carry on....)

TTrimble 5:52 AM  

I think ASS could refer to intelligence or lack thereof (you silly ASS, you dumb ASS).

Super-easy puzzle on my end; I daresay it verged on zooming and whooshing. Did a Rex and completed the NW instantly. I saw the theme virtually right away, and nothing seemed to HOLD me up too much. Finished in less than half my usual Thursday time. Also too easy are the ASS sightings, like on a nude beach, some with TAN LINES and some without, but I prefer to let my fellow commenters do the honors there.

I've still never heard of TURNT outside of crosswords. I love how Rex asks if the kids are still saying that. In the conversations I've had with kids, it never TURNT up; I guess I don't listen in to their descriptions of last weekend's wild parties. Michael Sharp must be that cool English prof that the cool kids just open up to like that.

(Flash to Donald Sutherland's English prof in Animal House. Remember that one scene where he flashes his ASS whilst reaching into a cabinet?)

Aw man, it's there IN THE PANTS, and there's something IN THE HOLE: it's like I don't want to see it, and YET I do.

Okay, let that be all for now.

Breakfast Tester 6:05 AM  

Elon Fisk

DSM 6:07 AM  

I agree with Rex’s contention that PEABRAIN does not equal ASS, but I’d add that CRAWL SPACE does not equal HOLE. Sure, a crawl space is (typically) empty, and a hole encompasses empty space. But - l d argue a hallway is more of a hole, when it comes to the built environment. And certainly pit or well. Heck, why isn’t a cabinet or a drawer or any room not also a HOLE? Because it just isn’t, that’s why!

Wordler 6:07 AM  

Wordle 502 5/6


Current Stats(using "hard" mode)
107 Played, 96 Win %
19-Current Streak
64-Max Streak
Guess Distribution:

Conrad 6:33 AM  

Kealoa at 1A: pUTZ before FUTZ, making the university at 1D pISK, which somehow looked okay to me. saT before ACT at 39A, buT before YET at 13D and RioT before RENT at 62A. WOEs: the Persian word at 17A (like @Rex, was thinking irAN), the twins ERICA and EMILE at 58A and 47D respectively. Major personal victory: finally got LEONI right the first time!

Anonymous 6:42 AM  

My kids used it briefly about a decade ago.

evil doug 6:53 AM  

Ah, *there's* the photo....

Phillyrad1999 7:04 AM  

Had to finish in the NW but this was the only struggle. Was hung up on wanting KICKINTHEPANTS to be ANTSINTHEPANTS. Some nice downs SNAPCHAT, ZENKOANS (learned something new), etc but overall the theme answers were a little meh to me.

Wanderlust 7:26 AM  

I solved the puzzle without getting the theme at all. I got the themers from crosses, as they were easy expressions. Then I went back to look at the theme clues and figured it out with a nice “Aha!”

A KICK IN THE PANTS could lead to a PAIN IN THE ASS. I guess I might HOLD you IN CONTEMPT for your ACE IN THE HOLE if I thought my two pair was going to win that hand.

Unlike @Conrad my 1A kealoa was FUss not pUTZ. I remembered FISK as the HBCU in Nashville. And I thought the kids say bURNT, not TURNT. I literally just said goodbye to two college friends (IU Bloomington) visiting me in DC - lots of reminiscing over our many TURNT escapades, including the time when I woke up on a tennis court with no idea how I got there.

Like Rex, I gave a side eye to NO EAR. I was so sure of tin EAR (which I, sadly, have) that I figured there must be a rebus in addition to all those odd clues for the long answers.

Worst possible turnout might be NO ONE for the performer, but from the audience’s perspective, the worst possible turnout is you and your party only. This happened to me once when we went to see a performer (who shall remain nameless … OK, it was Greg from “The Brady Bunch”) who was trying to reinvent himself as a song and dance man. We were the only ones in the audience. Unless you are really cruel, you are stuck there for the entire performance. There is no way to sneak out. If you leave at intermission, there is no second ACT. Props to Greg for giving his all for the four of us.

JJK 7:37 AM  

I don’t understand why Rex didn’t get his knickers in more of a twist about the last themer being different in form than the first three. That kind of thing usually seems to set him off on a rant, and I found it pretty annoying. Didn’t enjoy this one.

Son Volt 7:37 AM  

Solved as a themeless - and like @TTrimble flew through it. BLAH is apt for the overall fill - harmless but not much spark. Felt like a lot of trivia and names. PAIN IN THE ASS like OH HELL YEAH is trying too hard for a crossword.

Liked LOST SOULS, ZENKOANS and TAN LINES. SNAPCHAT was a guess. I think Jeff Beck spelled it PLyNTH.


I’ll second @doug - @Lewis’ WSJ is a better experience today

Stix 8:02 AM  

I always find Jeff Chen's puzzles more tedious than fun. This was no execption.

Barbara S. 8:11 AM  

Oddly, this was massively hard for me and I went over my average Thursday time. It didn’t help that at first, I could make nothing out of _N___ERS and thought _EABR___ must be tEABReak – guess I was channeling my U.K. roots. After bopping all over the grid in an only partially successful attempt to fill stuff in, I finally tumbled to the theme with HOLD IN CONTEMPT. I knew that HOLD was missing from the clue and I’d scored a sufficient number of crosses to surmise the whole answer. Anyway, the theme stayed opaque for far too long and I had very little luck with the fill either: FUTZ, BLURS, EATIN, LOVE, CUTS – many of the opening acrosses started out as WOEs. I, too, made the irAN mistake and it took until I had ASA_A to remember/correctly guess ASADA, which I’ve seen more than once in crosswords. Surprisingly, I got the PLAY wordplay right away – one of my few early correct answers up top. Well, to quote The Monkees, this just doesn’t seem to be my day.

Unlike Rex, I had no problem with the last themer’s lack of THE or the notion that an ASS could be a PEABRAIN. I did briefly wonder, though, about saying that a CRAWL SPACE is a HOLE (hi, @DSM, 6:07). I, too, have only ever seen TURNT in puzzles and always forget what it means. I really have to distinguish my DELLs from my DaLes – turns out DELL is a small valley and DaLe is a broad one. Hmm [groping for a mnemonic device]: how about the double L in DELL means it’s littler than the single L in DaLe. Like Rex, I’d forgotten about BEANIE Babies but, on the bright side, remembered ZEN KOANS from a previous puz (took me a while to get ZEN, though). Smaller American universities are almost always hard: two of them here, FISK and ELON. And, possibly foremost among my least favorite types of clues, I can never get the name or initialism of a school from its sports team (with the exception of the University of Maryland’s Terrapins, the only one that has stuck).

In the end, I liked the puzzle – I thought the theme was entertaining and well-thought-out – just wish I’d been mentally swifter.

Oh – could someone explain why CUTS might be cried in a queue?

[SB: yd, 0. Dbyd: -2. Missed these two, one should’ve and one unknown. @okanaganer, you were cleverer than I.]

pabloinnh 8:17 AM  

Starting with FOOL instead of FUSS or PUTZ has me feeling like an original, but the first part of KOANS had to be ZEN, so that got fixed eventually. Also had DALE before DELL and finally changed ETON to ELON, as EMITE didn't seem like much of a name, even though I am as familiar with Mr. Hirsch as I am with Ms. Tea, who seems to be named LEONI. How do you do?

Acrostic experience was helpful in seeing the phrases--KICKINTHEPANTS showed up first, and the rest became apparent once the gimmick was revealed.

STAN as "country" will always make more sense to me than STAN as "fan".

Pretty easy Thursday once I got out of low gear, which didn't take too long. A "well done" to CD and JC, I Could Do lots more of these Just Cause they're so much fun, for which thanks.

@Evil Doug-Where ya been? Thanks for the heads up on the WSJ. And @Lewis, congrats on the puzz.

@Roo-First two things that jumped out at me in today's SB were ROO and PAUL. Har.

Bass 8:31 AM  

On a so far not laugh out loud day, your comment "Pretty badass to just name your country "Country," I thought" made me laugh out loud... I'm sorry you were wrong because that would be badass indeed!!

Anonymous 8:32 AM  

Amy: had a lot of fun with this one. Glad they clued the NC college (59A) as they did. Liked the theme.

Laura 8:38 AM  

No ear is a phrase I grew up with as a musician and child of a professor of music, sister of a professional musician. Generally a word of dismissal, or just an excuse for not being in tune.

I really enjoyed the puzzle, but I actually like most crosswords.

Smith 8:39 AM  

"No CUTS in line!" You don't get to CUT the line and get ahead of me and all these reasonable people who have been waiting appropriately.

Anonymous 8:42 AM  

Turnt doesn’t mean intoxicated. You’d use it to say a party or scene is fun or wild. But at least they’re approaching modern slang. Can’t wait to see something fresh like “mid” or “sus” one of these days though. Maybe there’s a gen z constructor with a puzzle in the wings?

Smith 8:49 AM  

I guess we had our rebus yesterday; this was more like a cryptic, but loke easy cryptic clues (we had _NSP_RAT_ON recently, too).

Wanted antsINTHEPANTS even though it sounds stilted. ZENKOANS and UNTIL fixed that.

The reason HOLDINCONTEMPT seems to work is that it fits the stress pattern of the others, like an anapest with an extra unaccented syllable:
u u u '

Looking forward to @Lewis in WSJ (thx, @ EvilDoug)

TTrimble 8:50 AM  

@Barbara S.
"Hey! NO CUTting in line!"

What year was that, that you saw Greg Brady? That's an amazing story.

(Oh crumb, I'm blanking on the actor's name. I never thought I'd forget any of their names.)

Gary Jugert 8:59 AM  

FUTZ has way more spellings than I'd ever imagined. Add in FISK, STANS against ZEN KOANS, and the I on LEONI, and I wrapped up the puzzle ungracefully. Otherwise no big whoop, well, except for being troubled by an iffy theme. Always better than no theme in my mind, but this was close.

We've been calling my cat "Pesto Man" as he's taken to chewing on the basil plant and then puking up green hairballs.

Another ASS-ified day. @egs, take it away. (What in the holy heck is going on in Manhattan? So many LOST SOULS on the "editing" team.)



1 Ask South Park character what the cafeteria mystery meat is.
2 Result of a televised awkward low-budget late-night advertisement for the local adult shop.
3 A few good inkings.
4 Peruvian on Peroni.
5 Stripes on a millennial's forehead.

1 "IS IT ASADA, STAN?" (~)

Bill 9:30 AM  

Evil Doug exemplifying the preemptive “ooh did I trigger you, I’m such a naughty boy” school of modern conservative imagination. If you spent less time thinking of how your fake transgressions trigger a pretend interlocutor you would be far better off, though lose the high (low?) ground you’ve built for yourself.

(This solver dislikes the final theme answer varying in form. Ruins the cohesiveness of the puzzle)

RooMonster 9:46 AM  

Hey All !
Well, Holy Smokes, an @evil Doug sighting. Is the world ending? 😁

It's be extra funny if indeed my name was Paul. 😂

Different type puz. Combining Puns and Anagrams clues into standard puzs. But with a bit of a twist.

Got a good chuckle out of PAIN IN THE ASS. Not only getting in an ASS (no snickers at that line!), but a whole Themer with it! It's moving up in Crossworld. Bonus at ASSN.

Three letter FWE (Finished With Errors): pUTZ/pISK (sacrilegious to miss an F), STAr/ZErKOANS (head slap at missing STAN), EAToN/RoDE (fair miss. Had EATeN, then EAToN, never considering EATIN.)

Not the BEST EVER puz, but definitely not BLAH either. It was a KICK IN THE PANTS. In a good way. Har.

One F (and missed it! Dang...)
RooMonster (not RuPaul)

Carola 9:52 AM  

Easy. I've noticed the "fill in the letters" clues appearing more often in the Times's Puns and Anagrams puzzles recently, and that helped me catch on to the theme with the first KICK. Still I balked like a donkey planting its hooves and refusing to go there with PAIN IN THE... surely not ASS? I just didn't see a connection with "peabrain." About the last theme answer lacking "THE" - it also seemed different to me in that the first three phrases are metaphorical (I think) while HOLD IN CONTEMPT seems literal (to me).

Do-over: Dale before DELL. Help from previous crosswords: TURNT. No idea: ERICA.

bocamp 10:07 AM  

Thx, Chase & Jeff, for this cryptic flavored offering! :)


Slow, but steady solve; small footholds here and there. Not on my wavelength.

Enjoyed sussing out the themers.

NE was the toughest section.

Educated guess at the FUTZ / FISK cross.

EATeN before EATIN', which hid RIDE for too long.

Loved Téa LEONI in 'The Family Man'.

Priah Ferguson (ERICA) is one of my faves in 'Stranger Things'.

Fave clue: 'Marks in the sand, perhaps'.

Fun puz; welcomed the challenge! :)
Peace 🕊 🇺🇦 ~ Compassion ~ Tolerance ~ Kindness to all 🙏

J W. 10:13 AM  

I found HOLD IN CONTEMPT the most clever of the themers. If anything, the extra THE makes the others feel a bit contrived to me.

One could argue being an ASS reflects a sort of lack of social intelligence, so I'm willing to let the conflation of it and "peabrain" slide.

Kids do not use TURNT anymore, except perhaps ironically. Rest assured if it's showing up in the NYTXW, it's been supplanted by at least three different terms already.

Not sure in what world NO EAR is a "non-phrase." Seems to me one would have to have no eye for writing to think so.

Mr. Cheese 10:15 AM  

@ttrimble - I never heard of “turnt” even in crossword puzzles.

Anonymous 10:20 AM  

Although I just binged all of “Stranger Things,” I didn’t get ERICA without crosses. That said, she’s a great character and seems to be channeling Dee from “What’s Happening.”
I also agree about the criticism of the “one of these is not like the other” themers.

Whatsername 10:36 AM  

I managed to fill in all the blanks which wasn’t that easy considering the level of trivia. Mostly finished before I saw what was going on with the theme answers but by that time was feeling pretty BLAH about the whole thing. I agree with Rex that “peabrain” isn’t the BEST clue for 49 across. I think of one as lighthearted foolishness and the other as being intentionally obtuse or tiresome - also my basic impression of this puzzle. Not to be meant as a criticism, just wasn’t my personal cup of tea.

JC66 10:38 AM  


To me 14A (memo starter) is a classic kealoa: INRE/ASTO and I wait for a cross to confirm.

pmdm 10:46 AM  

Ti start off, I did like the puzzle. Many might complain it's too lewd, but I overlook that.

Jeff claims that the change in the final theme answer is supposed to discourage solvers from automatically filling in the boxes. Or something like that. I approve.

Now on to the WSJ puzzle.

GILL I. 10:47 AM  

Holy tomatoes...this was a beast! I can't tell you how happy I am that just about everyone except moi figured this out.....I just filled in the blanks; looked at my answers, shrugged, and hoped that something would flash. Instead I got bitten in my fondillo.
@Conrad 6:33....HAH! I also had PUTZ/PISK...A jewish friend of mine said not to use PUTZ because is referred to a man's thingie.
I couldn't even start in the NW so I took the A Train to the south. I had better luck while eating my grits except....50D. NORA???? What made her/him a conjunction and an article? Que es esto?
Since just about every answer was iffy, I just moved myself around and crossed a lot of fingers.
How I was able to get the theme answers amazes myself. Why I couldn't figure out why, should suggest a swift KICK IN THE PANTS.....
Much needed in the help department: ZEN KOANA/STAN/PLINTH/FISK/NORA. That's a record cheat for me. Do I win a prize?

@Evil...You should pop in more often; help us with lively conversations? @ Lewis sent me an e-mail about the WSJ and I haven't finished it yet. It looks like a goodie. Thanks for letting everyone know they should give it a go....

Newboy 10:51 AM  

Delight at seeing the first post today & realizing that @evil has returned! And with a kudos for @Lewis who is cashing a large check from the WSJ (it must pay well?). Here’s the hot button if you want a peek. Ooops, it’s not linking, so try a cut&paste:


Oh, and the puzzle? I’m 100% with OFL’s rant which reveals the same strengths and weaknesses I had as a solver.

mathgent 10:55 AM  

Great puzzle. Fresh theme, smart cluing, sparkly, only four Terrible Threes. Bravo Jeff Chen.

Tom T 10:56 AM  

THE problem I had with the missing "THE" in THE final HOLDINCONTEMPT answer was my expectation, after THE clearly established pattern of THEmers 1-3, that somewhere in THE middle of THE last THEmer I would find THE 4th THE. So it slowed me down trying to grok THE crosses (COILS, ONCE). That's on me, but it still made me feel less satisfied with THE puzzle.

I got KICK IN THE PANTS off of K P NTS, with no idea how it related to the clue. Never fully grasped the theme until I came here. Hastily typed in the E for HeLD IN CONTEMPT for my final entry, but corrected it as soon as the Happy Music didn't play when I saw ANTIDeTES.

Spent my college years at Vanderbilt in Nashville and love great spirituals, so FISK (which is a great institution that also is famous for its choral performances) was a gimme.

Fun to see my younger son NELSON in the puzzle today.

Nancy 11:01 AM  

This puzzle was FUN! I found it tough until I saw what was going on and then it got much easier -- mostly because "IN THE" was in all the answers. Until, of course, it wasn't.

I love Cryptics, so this for me was like having a partial Cryptic -- though full Cryptics are, of course, much, much harder.

Surprisingly enough the hardest answer for me to see was NORTH for "up". I had NO?T? and couldn't for the life of me parse it. NO What??? It's really interesting how an idee fixe becomes fixed. I also found UNTIL for "to" strangely difficult.

Re: TURNT. It's amazing how many words for "intoxicated" there are already. And yet every succeeding generation seems to feel the need to invent more of them. I wonder why?

Thought for the day: It feels as though ASS has been in every puzzle for the last three months -- but this is by far the best and most ingenious use of it.

One big nit and one teensy one. The big one: How can PLAY be a singular? Yes, I know there are twisted explanations with twisted syntaxes that can be offered, but none of them work for me.

The small one is COLD SHOULDER = CONTEMPT. Yes, it can be caused by contempt -- but it can also be caused by indifference or aloofness. With contempt, someone has strong, negative feelings about you. With a cold shoulder, someone may have absolutely no feelings about you at all -- and plans to keep it that way.

A colorful and enjoyable solve. My kind of puzzle.

Joseph Michael 11:07 AM  

Ended up with a couple of wrong guesses on unfamiliar names, but figured the rest out much to my surprise.

When I began to crack the theme, I thought that this would be about invisible words (ACE) in some equivalent of emptiness (three blanks suggesting a HOLE) so that the ACE would be IN THE HOLE. When this idea didn’t play out, I got confused about what was going on, with PAIN IN THE ASS being the most confusing of all. I get it now, buti feel somewhat let down, especially with HOLD IN CONTEMPT not fitting the pattern of the other three themers.

So, Van Gogh had an absence of musical ability?

egsforbreakfast 11:12 AM  

Right up my alley today, now that I’m the ASSigned ASS counter for this blog. Today we have several tried and true favorites, like:



Now you might not have heard of 1D FISK. But without it, 20A would just be ICKINTHEPANTS (sorry about all those breakfast tests I just failed, but it beats failing the ACT or the LSAT).

That NW corner BLURS the title of Elizabeth Gilbert’s book, but ISIT something like EATIN, PLAY, LOVE?

Whirlpool may make good dishwashers, but I’d like to see AMANA plan a canal. Panama….hats will be back in style before that happens.

Rex notes that BEANIE Babies were a “time specific fad”. Seems to me that the essence of fadism is that they are with us for a very short time. My mother-in-law and sister-in-law glommed on to the BEANIE Baby thing big time. I felt kinda stupid about not jumping into that “can’t miss” market, just like I felt for a while about crypto. They’ve still got hundreds, maybe thousands of BEANIE Babies in the attic.

I like the two stage solve required of the themers and that it became clear (for me on the 3rd one) without any revealer. Very nice debut for Chef Jenn, and thanks as well to Chase Dittrich.I really enjoyed this one.

One HA (Hidden Ass): ASSN
One ACG (Ass-Containing Garment): KICKINTHEPANTS
One AAC (Anatomical Ass Component: ACEINTHEHOLE

Barbara S. 11:30 AM  

@Smith, @TTrimble
Thanks for the CUTS explanation. "No CUTS!" is an expression I've never heard when in a queue. Could it be because of the legendary politeness of Canadians? Nah, we break into lines all the time and people yell at us. But I guess in different words, "Get your ASS to the end of the line!"

Several acts as one thing = a play.

CDilly52 11:35 AM  

Talked myself out of FUTZ at the off and put in FUss, which is close but no cigar and really mucked up the NW. shouldn’t have mistrusted the “Librarian.” Got it when I realized that we were using the full ZEN KOAN rather than the more crossword-typical simple KOAN. The names gave me a bit if pushback as did TURNT. I have never heard anyone use the term and always assume the answer is bURNT.

Very average Thursday theme and odd since we had the re us to end all rebuses (rebii?) just yesterday. I found it a bit BLAH. Wasn’t difficult, and I did find the lack of tidy parallelism with the final theme answer jarring, and HOLD IN CONTEMPT is something one never wants a judge to do to you or you’d best be carrying your toothbrush. .

While working in London, I learnt that one “jumps the queue” instead if taking CUTS.

Average Thursday. Liked the one from @Lewis much better!!

Beezer 11:39 AM  

Enjoyable puzzle with clever clues.

@Nancy, I took the PLAY clue meant the acts of a PLAY, which can be singular.

@Lewis, I had to struggle through the WSJ online app (not easy!) but your puzzle today was f(ie)ndishly clever!

Tom P 12:02 PM  

Didn't enjoy this one at all. Finished it in about average time for a Thursday, but didn't understand the themers at all until I read the blog. At which point my reaction was, "Meh."

TJS 12:06 PM  

@Lewis, very nice performance on the WSJ today. And thanks for the tip @Evil.

Joe Dipinto 12:21 PM  

Well, the puzzle succeeded at giving me an earworm of the Club Med jingle.

@Barbara S. – I never in my life heard anyone in a queue say "No cuts!" What people say is "No cutting!", as @TTrimble clarified.

jberg 12:30 PM  

Like @Nancy, I was ready to wax indignant over the plural acts cluing the singular PLAY. Rex, Barbara S., and CDILLY all suggest an interpretation, which I guess must be correct -- otherwise the word "one" in the clue would be meaningless -- but it's really a stretch.

I had forgotten that Dubois went to FISK -- I shouldn't have, there're a couple chapters about it in "Souls of Black Folk" -- but Nashville, 4 letters, and Bob's your uncle. What was much harder was choosing between daLe and vaLe for 45A. Doh!

Welccome back, Doug, I've missed you! Hope to see more of you in future.

Anonymous 12:37 PM  

Thanks for the Waits - just beautiful!

jae 12:43 PM  

Easy medium. I need some post solve staring to grok what was going on. Pretty clever with some fine theme answers, liked it.

Gary Jugert 12:48 PM  

Just knocked out @Lewis's puzzle on the WSJ site with that annoying interface. Not sure why we would be triggered? It does have SMUT all over it 😉 but fewer asses than we've endured over here.

Things I didn't know I needed to know: AGNES, EXE, BALSA, PBS, ITO, ESSE, TATAMI, BIERS(?!), ROSITA, CROFT, NOBU. Even with all those tough spots, I ended up with a decent time.

The real star is the theme and reveal. I was stuck for most of the puzzle, but when I finally hit it, there was an audible and joyous "OHO!" (Not AAH, as I've said many times.)

Thanks for the fun @Lewis.

M. Drysdale 12:48 PM  

So @Lewis skipped town "for a lovely family event" before his WSJ puzzle went to press and he could bask in the well-deserved positive comments here.

But hope he is reading from afar.

If so, Lewis, as 22A would surely say. "Y'all come back now, ya hear!"

NYDenizen 12:49 PM  

Wordle 501 3/6*

⬜R⬜A🟨 I ⬜S🟨E
⬜G🟨 I ⬜V🟨E🟨N
🟩 I 🟩N🟩E🟩P🟩T


JC66 12:49 PM  


Good one. Thanks.

TTrimble 12:59 PM  

Just got back from Lewis's puzzle. Took me a normal Thursday time (by my NYTXW standard) to get the congratulations, but it took a moment for the theme to register. I liked it. Thanks to Lewis, and also @Evil Doug for the pointer.

Teedmn 1:01 PM  

ERICA, yup, had to Google her post-solve because, even having seen all of the "Stranger Things" seasons, her character wasn't coming to mind. Like Rex said, she's a memorable character but her name, not so much.

And that means that the bottom central area was my biggest hold-up since the clue for NOR+A was weird, and I was expecting an "in the" phrase for 49A, plus good old AENEAS.

Just at the last second, I changed EATeN to the Garden of EATIN brand. My version didn't make much sense, nor did ReDE give me Nag, nag, nag.

It was fun to see the theme develop when I saw KICK fit so nicely into KNICKERS. But I agree with Rex on PEABRAIN ≠ PAIN IN THE ASS and with @Nancy that COLD SHOULDER ≠ HOLD IN CONTEMPT.

Thanks, Chase and Jeff.

TTrimble 1:05 PM  

You didn't let me down, @egs -- 'preciate it!

(I wonder if Jeff Chen reads this blog and its ASSorted comments. Tee-hee, tee-hee.)

Made in Japan 1:06 PM  

I had no problem with HOLD IN CONTEMPT. The theme is something "in" something else. The fact that "the" is in three of the theme answers doesn't make its inclusion part of the theme.

SharonAK 1:14 PM  

@Joe Dipinto
"No Cuts" I've a multitude of times - on a single occasion. And many occasions. It was popular with children, which I was one of once.

oldactor 1:17 PM  

@wanderlust: Greg was Barry Williams and that was the saddest story I've ever heard, made worse by the fact that I knew him back in the day. Thankfully that never happened to me although I once was in a play where the cast was larger than the audience.

Owen 1:37 PM  

You can't spell America without Erica.

CAK 1:38 PM  

Re: NORA. NOR is a conjunction (as in neither/nor) and A in English is an article (as in uno/una in Spanish!)

Anonymous 1:49 PM  

It’s not even a kealoa, let alone a “classic“ one. A kealoa is when two different possible answers share at least one letter in the same position. “In re” and “as to” share no letters, let alone in the same position. Please learn your terminology!

okanaganer 1:51 PM  

On xwordinfo, Jeff says that the fourth themer breaking the IN THE pattern was deliberate, quote: "...we figured that it could serve as a curveball for those getting too complacent."

[SB: @Barbara S, me too yd 0. No goofy words!]

Masked and Anonymous 1:57 PM  

NW had a bunch of rough startin blocks, for M&A's solvequest. FISK/FUTZ/ZENKOANS/STAN. Plus the (at that point) KICKINTHEPANTS themer of mystery. Whee-Ooh. Survived, but lost many precious nanoseconds.

Luved the theme. Fave themer was: KICKINTHEPANTS. Them constructioneers musta suffered a lot, comin up with such a cool set of themers. Hard for M&A to wrap his brain around how to come up with an extra one. Much easier, to do them ER dealies.


staff weeject pick: With only 4 choices today, will go with "when in doubt, pick U" … USC.

Great to hear from @Evil Doug, and will now duly proceed to @Lewis's puz.

Thanx for gangin up on us and for the fun, Dittrich & Chenmeister dudes.

Masked & Anonymo5Us


pabloinnh 1:57 PM  

@oldactor-If we have a full church choir these days we outnumber the congregation. Also, a full church choir these days is twelve people.

Jess Shulman 2:29 PM  

Look at you casually not mentioning that Christina Applegate called out to you on Twitter for help on the Wednesday crossword last night! https://twitter.com/1capplegate/status/1588076560329764866?s=20&t=tFy104QIqGXQmw8rPyNe4w
Does that happen a lot???

Whatsername 2:55 PM  

@Lewis: Great fun and very sneaky. 37 across was my favorite, naturally. 😊 Thank you!

Mohair Sam 4:08 PM  

@Lewis - Fun WSJ puzz today. Great conceit, and I always enjoy your clues (especially loved 10D).

@Evil - Yeah, thanks for the tip, and welcome back from the dead. I see some character is already taking a shot, some things never change.

@DSM(6:07) - Backing you all the way on the HOLE/crawl space thing. As a teen I was skinny and pretty good with a Bernzomatic torch - perfect for making money from chubby local plumbers who couldn't fit in crawl spaces to solder copper pipe and fittings. I'll bet I've registered a few hundred hours snaking around those damned places, thought of them as prisons maybe, but never holes.

Forgiving the crawl space and ass disagreement (wasn't all that tough to suss was it?) - this was a lot of fun. Thanks Chase and Jeff.

jdogz206 4:27 PM  

Had an okay time with this puzzle, mild frustration with the three(!) university-related clues though. Of all the weak fill, college trivia has got to be my least favorite.

Jeremy 4:44 PM  

I lost my streak on this one, after entering Garden of EATeN and missing the chance at a correction from the nag clue not making sense. It was funny to come here and read a recap where EATIN was the first clue filled with confidence.

Anonymous 4:54 PM  

Another Thursday, another horribly clued puzzle. Fun, not so much.

GILL I. 4:54 PM  

Well...look at that...@Evil and @Mohair are back. Completes my day......

Doc 5:02 PM  

Acts as one - PLAY a part

burtonkd 5:33 PM  

Lots of fun to see @Evil back - a regular when I first discovered this blog. I'll have to say @Bill does have a point, however.

Fun puzzle, I found pretty easy. The gibberish-y theme clues were fun when they came out of their BLUR.

Off to visit Lewis. Thanks for the tip and link!

Smith 5:57 PM  

Great puzzle... took me a looong moment to see "clues" in the revealer. (meanwhile wondering why a chef would be in KC, even thinking, welll, there used to be Max's KC, did they have special chefs I don't know about...?). Very clever!!

I think younger kids said/say "No CUTS!" I remember from my own elementary school years, but also from the (best forgotten) 2 years when I had to teach at K-2 all day. Kids that age are getting a handle on the rules and are quick to enforce them.

Alice Pollard 6:28 PM  

TURNT??? gimme an effing break Will. Awful puzzle. so stupid

Anonymous 7:50 PM  

In elementary school we always shouted NO CUTS! Also: “no cuts, no butts, no coconuts!” Because kids. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Nancy 7:57 PM  

Yay!!! I'm not alone!!! @Barbara S doesn't know her DELLS from her DALES either. Only it's even worse for me: I don't know my DELLS from my DALES from my VALES.*

So today I wrote in one L and waited for crosses.

*If I were to be completely honest, it's actually even worse than that. I sometimes add RILL to the mix. But I just looked it up and a RILL is a stream. Now will I remember that tomorrow?

Masked and Anonymous 8:39 PM  

@Lewis: Terrific constructioneerin job, on yer WSJ puz. Congratz.
Feisty & fun & quite acceptable U-count.


B-money 10:01 PM  

Is "Stranger Things" part of the cultural zeitgeist?
Never seen it.
"Better Things," on the other hand, is a true gem.
But I'm not sure either show would stand the test of time in a XW puzzle.

I thought this was one of the more enjoyable puzzles in a long time.

Anonymous 10:28 PM  

Super booorrrrinnng AND pointless puzzle for a Thursday. Not sure why they even bothered to publish it.

Shortz doesn't seem to do much editing these days.

TURNT? No way. Bogus!

Peabrain = pain in the ass? Again, bogus!

John Hoffman 3:25 AM  

Who can explain: “Anchor’s position” = LAST

evil doug 6:17 AM  

Relay race

JC66 9:06 AM  

@John Hoffman

In a relay race, the anchor is the LAST runner.

kitshef 12:53 PM  

Definitely not easy for me, even with ZEN KOANS being a gimme. FUTZ.FISK cross was basically a guess.

spacecraft 11:38 AM  

This puzzle targeted me directly. "Oh. so you hate the NW, do you? Well, get a load of this!" FUTZ, really? And crossing FISK (but not Carlton)?? Plus, for the long one I had ____INTHEPANTS and was trying every which way to get ANTS in there--but the clue would make no sense. ANNTSERS isn't a word, barring a phonic representation of "answers." I wondered briefly if that was the gig. As to FUTZ, I always thought it was a way of saying the F-bomb that might pass the censors. As an actual word, with its own meaning, I had no idea.

I finally had to work back from the clue. When at last KNICKERS occurred, that gave me KICK, and I guessed at the rest.

Two paragraphs for one small corner! The rest was pretty smooth. How do you rate the difficulty? 90% easy, 10& challenging in the extreme. You figure it out. Always nice to see DOD Tea LEONI. Birdie.

Wordle par that should've been a birdie: second guess was YYYBY.

Diana, LIW 12:55 PM  

Went from zero to zero to one, two, a few, oh I can guess those themers without a clue (because the clues were STUPID STUPID STUPID) and suddenly, boom, I was done!!!

Did I mention that the clues for the themers were the stupidest ever? (OK, now I'll go back and read up and see what in the world they were trying to do.)

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

Diana, LIW 1:00 PM  

OK - just read the "explanation" of the theme clues. Now I dislike them even more.

Lady Di

Burma Shave 1:02 PM  


NOONE knew that ERICA’s SINS
to PLAY IN LOVE made their CUTS,


thefogman 3:14 PM  

I had to FUTZ a lot in the NW corner before completing. For quite some time I thought the first long answer was sICKINTHEPANTS with SNICKERS being the clue answer. FISK was unknown to me. Agree with Rex that PAININTHEASS is not equivalent to a pea brain. Other than that, it was a decent puzzle.

Anonymous 3:30 PM  

@Barbara S. 8:11am:
No cuts
No buts
No coconuts!

Anonymous 10:04 PM  

@ JC66 : Last athlete. Could be a swim relay.

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