TV's Grey and House for short / WED 11-23-22 / TV series with a Time Lord informally / Test taken in a tube in brief

Wednesday, November 23, 2022

Constructor: Erica Hsiung Wojcik and Matthew Stock

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: colored rings and then more colored rings — first themer is clued as ["Red and yellow circles"] and then each subsequent theme clue adds a colored circle until you end up with five colored circles:

Theme answers:
  • MASTERCARD LOGO ("Red and yellow circles")
  • TRAFFIC LIGHT ("Red, yellow and green circles")
  • TWISTER MAT ("Red, yellow, green and blue circles")
  • OLYMPIC RINGS ("Red, yellow, green, blue and black circles")
Word of the Day: PIRELLI (7D: Italian tire company) —
Pirelli & C. S.p.A. is a multinational tyre manufacturer based in Milan, Italy. The company, which has been listed on the Milan Stock Exchange since 1922, is the 6th-largest tyre manufacturer and is focused on the consumer production of tyres for cars, motorcycles and bicycles. It is present in Europe, the Asia-Pacific, Latin America, North America and the Post-Soviet states, operating commercially in over 160 countries. It has 19 manufacturing sites in 13 countries and a network of around 14,600 distributors and retailers. In 2015, China National Chemical Corp. Ltd. (ChemChina) took controlling interest of Pirelli - with the Chinese state-owned company agreeing to maintain the tire company's ownership structure until 2023. (wikipedia)
• • •

I just had a big delicious pricy meal which included cocktails *and* port and while this has put me in a pretty good mood, I think it also has something to do with the fact that this puzzle just didn't do much for me. I could process the concept fine, but it just didn't ... land. I see what's happening. I see that there is a steady progression, new colors added at each phase, etc. It's an ... interesting discovery, I guess. There's definite thematic consistency. My reaction is "huh, curious." But that's about it. It wasn't amusing, and I didn't have much of a feeling of revelation. The TWISTER MAT is not iconic to me at all—I know it has colored circles, but I have no idea what those colors are. I must never have actually played Twister. You could've told me they are any number of colors and I would've believed you. What color are the OLYMPIC RINGS? I might've been able to guess, but I don't know. The rings are iconic, that there are five, that seems iconic, but I don't think of the *colors* as particularly iconic. So when I got the answers, I just thought "oh, is that so?" Not, "aha!" I'm not even sure I could tell what color the Mastercard circles are. I sincerely would've told you that one of them is orange. But red and yellow, you say? OK. I know that the traffic light is red yellow green. *That* is iconic. The others are true enough, so the puzzle is valid enough. But it just didn't have any zing to it. More like an odd kind of trivia test. I do love the grid shape—the unusual mirror symmetry, the unusual 16x14 dimensions. But the only answer that really made me sit up and say "ooh" was DEATH GRIP (33D: Super-tight grasp). The theme is very interesting, but it wasn't funny or exciting to solve. Curious. Interesting. Those are the only words I have for it. 

I had -STER MAT and still no idea. "Is there a ... TOASTER MAT?" But I also had -IC RINGS and no idea, which is less explicable. I blame the port. But honestly the "black" ring was what got me. I just couldn't fathom how "black" fit in. So I was slowish. I was also slowish on a bunch of two-part answers where the first parts seemed like they could've been a lot of things. Like "AW, NUTS" and "WHY, YES" and DART OFF. I also had issues with WAR DRAMA, which ... hmm. I know "war movies," that seems like a genre. But most of those are dramas, right? There really aren't that many war comedies or war horror films. I think the "drama" is kind of implied by the "war," so WAR DRAMA feels slightly off, slightly redundant. "War movie" googles much better. But WAR DRAMA googles reasonably well too. I dunno. I do know that HAHAS remains absurd as a plural, but overall this grid is very clean. The only thing I flat-out didn't know was PIRELLI, which I actually do know, or have at least heard of, but I wrote in BORELLI, which I think is a kind of pasta. It's at least pasta-adjacent. AW, NUTS, it's "Barilla" pasta. Is there a famous *singer* BORELLI? Ah, man, that's Andrea BOCELLI! Which rhymes with "vermicelli," which brings us back to pasta. 

My family is having a voluble conversation about religion and death and glass-blowing so I have to go see how all those things fit together. Sorry I didn't feel the Zing with this one. I hope you did.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


okanaganer 2:35 AM  

@Rex: "My family is having a voluble conversation about religion and death and glass-blowing". Can I join your family, please? When we meet, we tend to talk about traffic and gas prices.

For some reason this puzzle was not: on my wavelength, in my wheelhouse, choose a metaphor. False starts and typeovers: DRS before MDS, which led to DOLLARS instead of MOOLAH and it took a while to sort that out. DASH OFF before DART OFF. WAR MOVIE before WAR DRAMA. It was slow going but finished OK in the end.

And some dated stuff: HAT TIP? Maybe in the 1950s.

Time for a pretty good Arcade Fire video: "Sometimes I wonder if the world's so small, can we ever get away from the SPRAWL".

But the theme was pretty novel. Jim at xwordinfo does a nice thing by substituting actual colored circles for the theme clues. That would be neat! Not compatible with AcrossLite, but so what.

[Spelling Bee: really struggling these days, Mon pg-1 missed this 6er. Tue pg-2 so far.]

Anonymous 2:36 AM  

Rex, you should always drink before blogging. This was fun!

jae 2:45 AM  

Medium except for the NW which required more than a few nanoseconds. My reaction was a bit different than @Rex’s. I thought the color progression was whimsical/delightful plus there were a couple of fine long downs. Liked it a bunch!

WAR movie before DRAMA, DAsh before DART OFF, and AW ratS before NUTS.

SharonAK 4:01 AM  

Thought the theme sort of fun tho a twister mat means nothing to me.
And I had trouble with a key cross for the word mat- 49D MRI. Clever misdirect, I kept trying to think of a test tube test.
Smiled big at the clue for 32A
Opals can come from petrified wood? Have to look that up and learn more.

Abigail 4:11 AM  

I had the same thought as the previous comment -- can I join your family? What an excellent conversation you all are voluably having. My cousin is a glass-blower, which is pretty cool. We'll all show up with more port for the conversations.

Agreed, largely, on the puzzle re: your comments and the above comment. Felt very difficult to me for a Wednesday, but I'm also not having my best morning ever, so that could be it. Same as previous commenter -- thought HAT TIP could have used the word 'antiquated' somewhere in its clue. Hope you're having a nice holiday week, Rex!

Anonymous 5:19 AM  

Enjoyed this puzzle more than Rex. I made myself a cocktail last night I’m calling HER AURA.
2oz dark rum
.5oz aperol
.5oz lemon (was out of limes)
.5oz apple brandy (to curb the tartness of the lemon)
.5oz simple syrup
2-3 dashes on absinthe
Added a dash of cherry bitters for fun
Shake with ice, strain, and serve NEAT. Got me LIT, but easy to DIGEST. Kind of a TIKI vibe, though I know the word is HOHUM these days. Wouldn’t know how to ORDER this at a bar, but it would likely cost MOOLAH compared to my home batch, which I think is WORSE. At least it shows off my RAW TALENT. Had many HAHAS at my local dive, pulling a DART OFF the wall, or getting into a SPAT with MY MAN. ONE last thing before I go, as THEY say, a majorl HAT TIP to the constructors Erica and Matthew for the wonderful solve.

- Brando from Chicago

Anonymous 5:56 AM  

Inoffensive overall cluing but not interesting. Got tripped up on names a bit, as usual for me. Since SPIT is a valid past tense of "spit" and OSAKI is also a valid Japanese name I had to look up the tennis player to know it was SPAT / OSAKA. The "Like :(" clue was absurd, and I mostly got it from the WRY cross. I got the DRWHO clue but I wasn't sure what was "informal" about it. I guess the series is properly Doctor Who. Meh.

Son Volt 6:32 AM  

I thought the color progression and their physical layout was elegant - not exactly a hoot but well built. Unpleasant grid - with those chunky Tetris blocks all over - ended up with a boatload of 3s that created a real HO HUM solve in the end.

Did like DR WHO x DEATH GRIP and RAW TALENT. Like Rex wanted movie or films prior to DRAMA. Grew up within walking distance to VASSAR - loved that old golf course behind it.

LINGER on your pale blue eyes

On to Thursday.

OffTheGrid 6:36 AM  

I checked out Jim Horne's fantasy depiction of the clues. There are two problems. One is they're not very round, kinda like rounded pentagons. More significantly, his clues show the colors in straight horizontal rows. None of the 4 images is like that. He keeps the colors but destroys the images themselves. The MASTERCARD LOGO overlaps, as do the OLYMPIC RINGS. The TWISTER MAT is a grid and a TRAFFIC LIGHT is vertical.

I liked the puzzle. The theme felt fresh. Bottom third was elusive for a while.

Bob Mills 7:10 AM  

I thought it was easier than Monday's and Tuesday's puzzles. I had to guess at DRWHO and TWISTERMAT, but everything else came naturally.

SouthsideJohnny 7:15 AM  

At least the theme stayed out of the way and didn’t do much harm. Is there really a singer with the proper name HER ? My oh my what good knowledge gets dropped on you by the NYT puz . . . HAT TIP, yea I guess. Whatever that hieroglyphic thing is that passes for a clue for WORSE - well let’s just say that I can’t come up with a clue that is WORSE than that one - so props to the editors there. Add RUNE, TAMA, TIKI, DR WHO and his Time Lord to round out today’s ration of absurdity and then ensure a strong finish with the imagery of an agitated llama spitting, and well, another text-book NYT effort. As I said, at least the theme was harmless and the crosses for the most part were fair.

pabloinnh 7:20 AM  

Anything on MTV is a deep mystery to me, so not off to a flying start. Then my F from EFILES made me think GIF for a download, but a six-letter word or phrase ending in IG seemed improbable so I fixed that. The IG came from PIRELLI, which was a gimme.

After the top the rest went pretty fast. Hand up for the DRAMA/MOVIE confusion and ART before ERA, but otherwise no snags. And hello TAMA, don't think we've met.

I liked the theme just fine and thought the progression was clever. My understanding is that the OLYMPICRINGS have the colors of the flags of each nation that participates. Not an Olympic year, of course, but the World Cup is what, a cousin?

Enjoyable Wednesday EHW and MS. No Extra Hard Words and it Made Sense to me. Thanks for all the fun.

Unknown 7:40 AM  

I think you have to be a certain age for the twister mat to be iconic. If you are just the right age, then you played this in your early teens just as your body was waking up to sexuality and the twisting game gave you and your friends an excuse to be sliding all over each other while trying to reach the designated color. The tangled arms and legs of the game were the point.

Anonymous 7:44 AM  

War is never funny but there are funny war movies. Stalag 17 (which inspired Hogan’s Heroes) is a classic worth watching

abalani500 7:48 AM  

War is never funny but there are funny war movies. Stalag 17 (which inspired Hogans Heroes) is a classic worth watching!

Anonymous 7:49 AM  

What about M*A*S*H?

Dr.A 7:57 AM  

Well I didn’t have a fancy meal and i still found this “meh”. So maybe it was not the contrast that threw you off.

Anonymous 8:03 AM  

Ok NYTXW, here’s a request: Since you’ve compelled us to adopt your app (which admittedly has now grown on me), how about adding a difficulty-level option that offers more challenging clues for some of the answers?

Gary Jugert 8:14 AM  

Like :) vis-à-vis :/ vis-à-vis :( vis-à-vis :) this puzzle started strong, got weird, eventually seemed dire, but finally ended happily.

I struggled through every theme entry. Of course once I had enough crosses I said "duh" and wrote them down wishing I wasn't so thick.

Golfers do the HAT TIP thing. I find acting like it's 1840 a bit ridiculous. Unless it's something I do, then it's fine.

I did not know YEW seeds were poisonous, but to be honest I didn't know YEW trees had seeds, in fact, I don't think I know what a YEW tree is.

SPAT two days in a row.

There's no such thing as RAW TALENT, so it's a scandal they've stuck it in the puzzle.


1 Anything with eggplant.
2 A kettle from Walmart and random mugs with pithy sayings.
3 The price of womanhood.
4 Feature of my stingy brother-in-law.

3 "I AM HER" FEES (~)

mmorgan 8:18 AM  

I had an okay time with this, nothing special one way or another. I got the theme answers mainly through crosses, didn’t really know them directly on their own, given their level of iconicity (is that a word?). I looked at it again this morning before reading Rex, and realized that each successive clue added a color. I hadn’t realized that. So that’s kinda cool.

Years ago, my wife drove away from a store in our idyllic little crime-free town with her wallet on top of the car, and never got it back. A few weeks after that, she left her wallet in a taxi in NYC. Two days later, she got a call from TAMA Janowitz, who found it and sent it back. True story!

Lewis 8:18 AM  

What a theme! My jaw kept dropping lower and lower with each theme answer. Tough enough to find well known circle patterns ordered from two to five colors, but that share the same colors too? Are you kidding me? How did you guys come up with this?

And fun. After uncovering the MasterCard and traffic light, I tried in vain to think of something with circles of four colors, so Twister brought a huge “Hah!” Then it all happened again for the Olympic rings.

I like the geometry vibe of the puzzle as well, not only the circles, but there’s the rectangular grid, eight right angles made by the blocks, all to complement the squares in the grid.

I haven’t thought about Twister in a long time, and as I’m thinking about it now, my joints are beginning to ache.

I liked the crossing anagrams of RAM and ARM, the intermingling of DR. WHO and MR. I, the inclusion of LIGHT and LIT, not to mention the A-train schwa-de-vivre of ERA / AURA / OKRA / TAMA / IKEA / OSAKA / DRAMA. And there were a couple of areas where I had to crank up my brain, satisfying its work ethic.

But it’s the wow theme that sticks with me the most. I roundly applaud it. Thank you, Erica and Matthew, for this brilliant jewel!

Glen Laker 8:29 AM  

Rex, you’ve never played Twister? You really should give it a try. Like voluble conversation, it’s better after a few drinks

Anonymous 8:32 AM  

My first guess was PIRETTI which is apparently a golf putter brand

Anonymous 8:35 AM  

I thought this was cute! And kids definitely still play Twister, it absolutely is iconic!! Nice cheery puzzle, with just the right amount of crunch for a Wednesday!

Anonymous 8:39 AM  

Anon 5:56am - I take it you're not a tennis fan, not even a little bit.

Anonymous 8:46 AM  

I wanted 44A to be WIFI so badly

The Joker 8:54 AM  
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous 9:07 AM  

Long ago I bought a VW Type III squareback from a friend at work. When I showed it to my brother he was surprised that someone would put PIRELLI tires on a VW. I had no clue. Turns out they were expensive high speed-rated tires(tyres if bought in GB).

kitshef 9:09 AM  

Perhaps I would have enjoyed this more if I had tried to puzzle out the theme answers, but instead I filled them in from crosses/pattern recognition. OTOH, I think the only one I would have gotten if I had thought about things is TRAFFIC LIGHT, so maybe not.

War comedy/horror: Dr. Strangelove, Top Secret, Pan's Labyrinth, and of course the classic Werewolves of the Third Reich.

Nancy 9:10 AM  

What on earth is a TWISTER MAT? Yes, I know that Rex has a picture of it up there, but still I ask: what is it?

Other than that: a puzzle that gave nothing away ahead of time in its theme clues -- at least not to me -- and that I found fun to solve.

One writeover, though I corrected quickly when my answer didn't work with the crosses. For "Say what you want", and with an "OR" at the start of my answer, I wrote down ORATE without a moment's hesitation. Yes, ORDER is a very clever answer to the clue, but I think my wrong answer is quite nifty too. I mean if you've ever had to listen to someone ORATE: They say exactly what they want -- whether you or anyone else wants to hear it or not.

Other than a ridiculously convoluted clue for WORSE, I thought this was a likeable Wednesday.

G. Weissman 9:18 AM  

Something about life itself (or rather the human experience of it) is amusingly captured in the contrast between Rex’s near indifference and Lewis’s profound amazement. Or perhaps it’s just their own characters that are captured here:

Rex:” I could process the concept fine, but it just didn't ... land. I see what's happening. I see that there is a steady progression, new colors added at each phase, etc. It's an ... interesting discovery, I guess. There's definite thematic consistency. My reaction is ‘huh, curious.’ But that's about it. It wasn't amusing, and I didn't have much of a feeling of revelation.”

Lewis: “What a theme! My jaw kept dropping lower and lower with each theme answer. Tough enough to find well known circle patterns ordered from two to five colors, but that share the same colors too? Are you kidding me? How did you guys come up with this?”

Anonymous 9:21 AM  

Not many war comedies you say? How about:
I was Male War Bride
The Great dictator
To Be or Not to Be
How I won the War
Three Kings
Dr. Strangelove
White Sun of the Desert

Stalag 17
Kelly's Heroes
King of Hearts
Bufflo Soldiers
Inglorious Basterds

Anyway, as usual, I find your criticism unpersuasive.

Barbara S. 9:22 AM  

Hah. Didn’t have a prayer at 1A – never heard of “Cribs,” which is apparently a show that explores the homes of celebrities, i.e. their “cribs.” OK then, probably not going to seek it out. It has a weird history – ran from then 2000 to 2010, then was dropped until getting a reboot in 2021. Oh yeah, and something about a short-form revival on Snapchat Discover in 2017. Right, still not going to seek it out.

I noticed the skinny grid right away but didn’t do a square count. I really liked the theme: simple, clever, a steady progression – proliferating, colorful visuals in my head. Like @okanaganer, I made the “drS” and “dOlLAr” mistakes, but was saved from “DAsh OFF” and “WARmovie” by crosses. I wanted “LoitER” rather than LINGER but again, crosses didn’t allow it. I appreciated the spelling of MOOLAH. Spelling Bee drops the H, one of their many foibles of which I disapprove. I would always say “TEA service” rather than TEASET but, of course, the punny clue (which I liked) requires the word “service.” Amazed myself by knowing PIRELLI off the bat, and me a non-driver. Their advertising must be everywhere.

I thought that nugget about OPAL and petrified wood was interesting. OPALized wood is quite beautiful even without the spectral colors of precious OPAL.

Loved the literary in the puzzle.

Here’s Elizabeth Bishop:
I Am in Need of Music

I am in need of music that would flow
Over my fretful, feeling fingertips,
Over my bitter-tainted, trembling lips,
With melody, deep, clear, and liquid-slow.
Oh, for the healing swaying, old and low,
Of some song sung to rest the tired dead,
A song to fall like water on my head,
And over quivering limbs, dream flushed to glow!

There is a magic made by melody:
A spell of rest, and quiet breath, and cool
Heart, that sinks through fading colors deep
To the subaqueous stillness of the sea,
And floats forever in a moon-green pool,
Held in the arms of rhythm and of sleep.

Here's Ogden NASH:
The Duck

Behold the duck.
It does not cluck.
A cluck it lacks.
It quacks.
It is specially fond
Of a puddle or pond.
When it dines or sups,
It bottoms ups.

Dang, I looked but couldn’t find any passages I liked by TAMA Janowitz. Maybe someone else will quote something pithy about New York. But possibly no quotation can top @mmorgan's story (8:18).

[SB: Sunday: 0; Monday: -3; Tuesday: -1. I don’t know what happened on Monday: they were all should’ves. Yesterday, I surprised myself by getting these (the last of which seemed like an unnecessary word), and then missed this compound, which some sources claim is two words.]

Anonymous 9:22 AM  

Sports in general, no. I'm not suggesting the player is obscure, just that the name wasn't known to me and had a somewhat unfortunate cross where two things could have worked if you're approaching it from another angle - I gathered it was a Japanese name but that's it.

bocamp 9:25 AM  

Thx, Erica & Matthew; fun Wednes challenge! :)


Got the NW quickly, but the remainder was slow and steady going.

Cute theme.

Unknowns: 'Cribs'; 'Gray and House'; TAMA; HER; PIRELLI; 'Time Lord'. Thx for fair crosses! :)

Enjoyed the workout! :)


Anna Shechtman's Mon. New Yorker was flat out tough; esp the SW & NE. Big time dnf.
Peace 🕊 🇺🇦 ~ Compassion ~ Tolerance ~ Kindness to all 🙏

Liveprof 9:30 AM  

On Hogan's Heroes, Robert Clary, the little French guy, died recently. He was Jewish and a holocaust survivor.

The actor who played Klink, Werner Klemperer was born to a Jewish family (his dad was the conductor Otto Klemperer) and he had one condition for taking the role - Klink could never emerge as the hero in an episode. (Not a problem.)

And the actor who played Schultz, who famously "knew nothing," was also Jewish, John Banner, and was (in real life) a sergeant in the U.S. army during WWII.

The show ran for 168 episodes over six seasons.

RooMonster 9:40 AM  

Hey All !
Who knew so many things had colored circles? Wondering what triggered this theme idea for the constructors. Were they stuck at a TRAFFIC LIGHT, with a MASTERCARD in their hand on the way to buy a TWISTER MAT, seeing a billboard for the OLYMPICS?
"Heyyyy..." was uttered, and a theme was born.

Grid (as Rex mentioned) is 14x16, which, if you do the math, gets you one less square total. 15x15=225, 14x16=224. However, there's 44 Blockers, which is quite a large number (max is traditionally 38.)

With those nits out there, I actually thought this puz was a good 'un, and fun to solve, thinking about what all those different color circles referred to. Especially coming at the Themers from weird spots, ala had ___F_CLI_T, and O_McI_____. Thought they would be nonsensical, made up things. Finally the ole brain got on board, and I was able to wrangle the theme down.

Nice positioning of the Themers. You have.different lengths of Themers, so they won't line up symmetrically. There's a 14, 12, 10, 12. The 12's would've fit, bit the other two couldn't. And they are all even numbered, hence the 14 wideness necessity. I do believe the 16 Long grid is a choice. 15 Long probably would've worked also.

Anyway, why don't I just go to xwordinfo and read about it? Good idea.

Four F's

Anonymous 9:59 AM  

@Nancy , a TWISTERMAT is a mat used in game of Twister where you put your hands and feet on colored circles and get in awkward positions and perhaps fall down. You should get it and play with close friends. Y’all will have a good twine.

Colin 10:16 AM  

Who knew so many folks don't know Twister?
I can picture and hear the TV commercial in my head.

Here to wish everyone a very Happy Thanksgiving! May you all have something (or a lot!) to give thanks for.

Anonymous 10:19 AM  

I agree with Lewis. It was a lot more fun than others thought. MasterCard, traffic light, Twistermat, Olympic Rings — all right in my wheelhouse. Brava! and bravo! to Erica and Matt.

Joe Dipinto 10:22 AM  

This is a theme?

The symbol of MasterCard is a bright geometric composition, formed by two solid circles in orange and red, overlapping each other.

I am looking at my MasterCard right now and the second circle is definitely orange. It's certainly not the same color as the things you're calling "yellow" on a Twister mat. And the Olympic rings are empty outlines, not solid dots like the others. And the colors don't follow the same progression from each item to the next, as the clues are trying to pretend.

Color me unimpressed.

egsforbreakfast 10:35 AM  

If I squint, the grid looks like a panda face, and I don’t mean a TRASHPANDA. I mean like the kind in WARDRAMAs who Eats, Shoots and Leaves.

Noticing that ASS appears in VASSAR whether you read it backwards or forwards. Perhaps that explains their unofficial slogan.
VASSAR: Our ass can go both ways. Of course I also noticed the ASS of ASSORT crossing VASSAR, making for a rare TAI (Triple Ass Intersection).

We GenXers can still play TWISTER so long as canes and walkers can be used to satisfy certain of the limb placement demands.

I liked this in a similar way to Monday’s World Cup tribute. Easy but different. It left me smiling. Thanks, Erica Hsiung Wojcik and Matthew Stock.

Tom P 10:41 AM  

I also found this one rather zing-less.

pabloinnh 10:48 AM  

@bocamp-Agree about Monday's NYorker. Thought it nearly achieved Stumperhood.

Joseph Michael 10:55 AM  

This colorful puzzle had me in circles and fought me to the finish, but I enjoyed solving it. Especially liked SLOSH. Also liked the NASH description of a cow and the image 66A evoked of an annoyed llama.

But does DEATH GRIP really pass the breakfast test?

Anonymous 10:55 AM  

The Olympic Rings “represent the inhabited continents of the world (the Americas were considered as one continent and Europe was treated as distinct from Asia). It was made to contain the colours (blue, black, red, yellow, and green) which are common to almost all flags around the world.” [Wikipedia]

So yes, the colors of the Olympic Rings are important.

Beezer 10:56 AM  

Wow. Today I’m blown away by much of @Rex’s comments (but, like him, I really LOVED DEATHGRIP), plus I was a bit stunned at much of the commentariat. Am I the only person here who was a somewhat shallow child and middle-schooler who played Twister at slumber parties and preteen coed parties? Hmmm. I’m afraid to find out, but I’d say it’s iconic.

And thanks to all the folks who came up with war comedies. I mean as soon as I read what @Rex said M*A*S*H popped into my head. I’ll add in The Wackiest Ship in the Army and Ensign Pulver. Also, not sure if it was mentioned, but for TV…McHale’s Navy.
As for WARDRAMAS, for some reason I tend to get Platoon and Full Metal Jacket mixed up but I find them both compelling.

@liveprof, I’m sorry to hear about Robert Clary. He was the last of the original Hogan’s Heroes. Kenneth Washington (who replaced Ivan Dixon) is still around. When I googled I found out that Larry Hovis was actually a singer!

Michiganman 10:57 AM  

@Glen Laker. I have long been curious about your moniker. Is it a reference to the Glen Lake in Sleeping Bear Dunes? A different GL? Something else? If it's the first, we are regional neighbors. I am in TC.

Alice Pollard 10:58 AM  

this was a well-constructed puzzle . KUDOS to Erica and Matthew. Started at OLYMPICRINGS and worked backwards. At first I had TWItTERMAT and thought, What the hell is THAT? And fixed PAtSPORT to PASSPORT . Enjoyed this one.

Anonymous 11:00 AM  

Can’t agree more. I kept thinking 29D was SLY and 35A was LNA (Locked-nucleic Acid). I just couldn’t figure out 28A with that cryptic clue.

Diego 11:15 AM  

Meh-ish Wednesday. . .
But Rex is wrong (it happens), plenty of war comedies across movie and television history.
To be generous, it was likely the port.
Happy Thanksgiving to all.

lodsf 11:16 AM  

@kitshef 9:09: Nice list of war comedy/horror but you left off the iconic *M*A*S*H*. Just an oversight I’m sure!

Anonymous 11:18 AM  
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RDuke 11:19 AM  

Did you hear about the glass blower who inhaled and got a pane in his lungs?

lodsf 11:26 AM  

As long as people are watching Gene Kelly and/or Frank Sinatra movies giving a TIP of the HAT will be a thing. Do agree with another poster here who suggested it might be time to add “arcane” to the clue. Or maybe “bygone”.

Newboy 11:33 AM  

As one approaches 80, TWISTER MATs and MTV sessions LINGER in dusty corners of grey matter which need an MRI session to recover. Thanks Erica & Matthew for the midweek prod to stir those almost forgotten DEEP images. Your grid deserves a HAT TIP from this solver for encouraging mental flexibility, ETC.

Twister with Death 11:35 AM

Nothing Delivered 11:39 AM  

Rex needs to tipsy-post more, this was awesome.

Carola 11:42 AM  

Admirable theme + a few thorny spots in the grid + some fine non-theme entries made for an enjoyable Wednesday. I needed lots of crosses for the first three theme answers, even getting to the point of wondering if there were a TWItTer MAT I didn't know about, and I got tripped up at the same spots as others here - dollar, drs, orate, movie - and aye before YEA. Fun to work it all out. I thought SPRAWL above the TWISTER MAT was cute, liked HAHAS crossing HOHUM, and thought RAW TALENT and DEATH GRIP were great.

Anonymous 11:53 AM  
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Anonymous 11:58 AM  

This is an incredible idea!

Colin 12:12 PM  

Speaking of DEATHGRIP.... How about that Vulcan Death Grip?

Nurse Christine Chapel: "But there's no such thing as a Vulcan death grip!"
Captain Kirk: "Ah, but the Romulans don't know that!"
(Star Trek: TOS, "The Enterprise Incident")

Masked and Anonymous 12:16 PM  

fave themer: TWISTERMAT.
fave other stuff: SPRAWL. MOOLAH. VASSAR. WHYYES. AWNUTS. DARTOFF [wanted DASHOFF, at first glance]. ORDER clue. E/W symmetry with medium-rare 14x16 puzgrid decor.

staff weeject pick: YEA. Anagram of my answer, which really gobbled down some precious nanoseconds in the early NW territories solvequest at our house.

Certainly can say it was a colorful theme. U get them fun with colors puzthemes, every once in a while. This one was OK as those things go, I guess. Kinda cool red-yellow-black Black Friday death grip on a master card image helped m&e appreciate its potential, a little bit more.

Thanx for gangin up on us, EHW darlin and Stock dude.

p.s. Happy Turkey Day Eve, y'all. Nice day for drinkin & glass-blowin, I reckon. Safe travels, please.

Masked & Anonymo3Us


Chip Hilton 12:17 PM  

I disagree with Rex on the color clues. Several are instantly recognizable and the increasing number from top to bottom is really neat. Good Wednesday. World Cup: Japan joins the Saudis in upset heaven!

jberg 12:20 PM  

I'd never realized that the OLYMPIC RINGS had colors. Apparently they are optional, but if you choose to use them they have to be in the specified order.

Anyway, it was fun trying to figure out the circles, and nice that they were in very different contexts; I'm willing to grant poetic license on the MasterCard. I actually have a card where the rings are both silver, with different textures, but I still knew the logo.

I always start at 1-A and work the crosses, and doing so brought me to the bottom of the grid before I ever reached the starboard side -- a sign of an easy puzzle.

My favorite thing was seeing that the oh FUDGE was made with aw NUTSA IN IT. Tasty!

HA-HAS are landscape features, invented by Capability Brown I believe, where you come upon a dropoff with no advance warning. You might fall over it, in which case HA-HA! Seems like a better way to clue it.

mathgent 12:29 PM  

Jim Horne on Jeff Chen's blog says that he loves the progression of circles so much that he can overlook the fact that the puzzle violates two basic crossword standards. Too many black squares (44) and too many Terrible Threes (24). He writes that, without his weakness for the theme, he would consider the puzzle to be crap.

Durga is a major Hindu goddess with many arms. She would combat evil-doers by using a weapon in each of her hands. She is also known as Devi or Shakti.

Anonymous 12:31 PM  

Didn’t know that “assort” was really a word. Thought it was either assortment or sort. Not particularly good at crosswords so all of the circle clues ended up actually being helpful. Got twister mat and traffic light early on. I hate the okra clue. Every time I see it I hate it.

Chris 12:57 PM  

Complaints about the antiquity of HAT TIP suprise me. In addition to the aforementioned golfers, baseball players acknowledge crowd support with a hat tip. And on social media, "HT" (or H/T) is used to recognize where someone got an idea or lead.

Barbara S. 1:48 PM  

It occurs to me that in my message at 9:22, I blew my NASH quotation and under the circumstances should have given you this:

The Lama
by Ogden NASH

The one-l lama,
He's a priest.
The two-l llama,
He's a beast.
And I will bet
A silk pajama
There isn't any
Three-l lllama.

I decided to add a second verse in honor of 66A. (Sorry, Ogden.)

The one-l lama, he sat
In meditation on his bamboo mat
The two-l llama, he SPAT
In agitation at a threatening cat
The three-l lllama, there’s chat
He was last seen in Gujurat.

CAK 2:00 PM  

Exactly! You explained it perfectly 😉

Beezer 2:11 PM  

@Colin…good one! Geez, I always thought the Romulans were the “mean” cousins of the Vulcans so you’d THINK they would’ve had some of their powers. But, I just remember Spock could cause someone to “pass out” just by squeezing an area on shoulder near neck, plus there was also the “mind meld.” Only used in EXTREME circumstances, of course, since it EXHAUSTED Spock. Kinda like me hosting Thanksgiving dinner these days…

TTrimble 2:42 PM  

I'm enjoying the comments, astute as they so often are, but I'm a little surprised by a few. HAT TIP, abbreviated to h/t, is not just a 1940's or 1840's thing, but a well-known internet expression typically used to signal gratitude toward, or acknowledgment of, a source of useful information. (h/t to @Chris for pointing this out before me.) Another h/t is in order to @egs and his alerts, which may someday become classic (Let me add PASSPORT to that mix.) Also classic is the teen game TWISTER, going back to the 60's I think, in which there is lots of potential for falling ass over teakettle with friends.

(Canes and walkers for GenXers, though, egs? Ain't it a little early?)

I found this puzzle easier than yesterday's. Recently it's felt like the puzzles' order of difficulty is all out of whack.

My first introduction to Arcade Fire was when they were musical guests on SNL in 2010 and they did Urban SPRAWL II. At the time (just waking up from a cat nap) I was intrigued; I thought they had a cool vibe, and that Regine Chassagne had an interesting stage presence. Ah, found it here. But the second-guessing myself came soon thereafter. Doesn't it seem that Regine is off-key, like, a lot of the time? Not just in this performance, but generally?

(In other news, husband Win Butler seems to be in a lot of hot water these days. Another story came out rolling in today.)

SB: mini-streak from at least Saturday to Monday, but then -1 yd by missing what is IMHO an obscure and evidently obsolescent word beginning with N, which I never would have gotten. Back on the horse with today's though.

Anoa Bob 3:05 PM  

The first three are indeed circles while the fourth is, as stated right there in the answer, OLYMPIC RINGS. There's a difference, right? I join those who didn't even know the OLYMPIC RINGS were colored.

Maybe the modest use of only four themers was necessitated by the rarity of colored circles out there rather than by deliberate choice but yous can see how that opens the grid for some interesting fill such as PASSPORT, WAR DRAMA, RAW TALENT and DEATH GRIP. I think the latter was once the trade mark of a professional wrassler. Maybe it was The Iron Sheik.

Sometimes the NYTXW seems to be a legitimizer of the paranormal. Usually it's ESP (extra sensory perception) clued as if it is an actual thing. Today it's 44A AURA clued as an "Energy field that can be 'read'". Both ESP and AURA have zero scientific credibility. I believe it was MY MAN, the late (1946-2016) James "Amazing" Randi who had a standing offer of one million $ to anyone who could demonstrate the ability to "read" or even just detect anyone's alleged AURA. [does quick check] WHY YES, he was. The $ went unclaimed.

I would like to LINGER but I must DART OFF to check out Jlo's MOOLAH saving offer on her firming and hydrating Booty Balm. Hey, even us oldsters can use a little uplift in the buttocal area from time to time.

bocamp 3:40 PM  

@pabloinnh (10:48 AM)

Fun coincidence: speaking of Anna Shechtman's Mon. New Yorker, I'm just now watching Across & Down via CBC's Gem app on Apple TV. Anna is one of the featured cruciverbalists on this 'The Passionate Eye' episode.
Peace 🕊 🇺🇦 ~ Compassion ~ Tolerance ~ Kindness to all 🙏

kitshef 4:32 PM  

Twister took off in popularity after Eva Gabor played it with Johnny Carson on the tonight show. I could not find a replay, but this report has some still shots from the show around the 43 second mark.

Jim Horne 7:40 PM  

Here is what actually said...

...Which brings me to one of the great debates among the crossword cognizanti. I've been chastised for my view that a delightful theme can overcome other weaknesses in the grid, particularly flaws that result from thematic constraints. This Joe Krozel puzzle is one of my favorites, but since it suffers from "bad fill," not everyone agrees that it's brilliant.

Today's grid fails the typical analysis. There are 44 black squares — way too many! There are 24 3-letter words — not only a sin in itself, but ERA, ONE, ARE, ETA, and ERR are way too common. Each has appeared over 1,000 times! Clearly, this puzzle is crap.

But I look at that colored circle progression and think, I would have never thought such a theme was possible. Wow.

Anonymous 7:54 PM  

Rings are circles. And this was a great theme! Enjoyed the consistency in the addition of a color with each subsequent clue. While I sailed right through, I enjoyed laying down TWISTER MAT and OLYMPIC RINGS once the first two themers came into view. Clever! And good fill. Great construction and perfect easy level for a Wednesday, since I have errands to run before dinner tomorrow.

Robert Rushing 7:58 PM  

Although there is some contention about this, many accounts of the Olympic Rings associate each ring with a continent: blue for Europe, yellow for Asia, black for Africa, green for Oceania, red for the Americas. The rings, if true, are indeed iconic in standing as a “symbol” for something else.

Terra Schaller 9:55 PM  

5th initiation las!

Teedmn 9:58 PM  

This puzzle brought back memories (correct me, anyone, if I recall wrong) of a 2017 Lollapuzzoola puzzle with an Olympics Rings flag theme. We were provided with colored pens to put the appropriate colors in the grid. And it was an open note test because there was an Olympic flag hanging on the wall, potentially helpful. I didn’t notice... :-(

I am old enough that I remember when TWISTER was new. But when the fad first hit, I was too small to be able to span the mat my neighbors had. No fair!

@Barbara S, thanks for the Elizabeth Bishop poem.

CDilly52 10:10 PM  

So late to post today because I am with my family in Santa Rosa CA, and we h been cooking for the last two days to keep up with the schedule. I am the chief cook. My daughter, niece and adorable granddaughter are all in to help. We have the stuffing, the pies and the beautiful Parker House rolls done and all the veg and bread for the stuffing. We are way ahead for tomorrow.

Thankfully, this was puzzle was easy. Got the theme immediately and all the themers were obvious. I got momentarily slowed at 2D for a hot minute. MASTER CARD gave me the much needed S for TEA SET and I uttered a gigantic “DUH!!!” After that, smooth sailing. Easy as pie - pumpkin pie that is.

My lovely, smart and amazingly talented granddaughter made her first pumpkin pie and Parker House rolls - with supervision of course. She turns 10 tomorrow and is years ahead of my culinary prowess at that age. I could not be mire proud of her. And she and I over this past year have become such cooking/baking buddies.

I hope all of you have a wonderful thanksgiving full of family and fun and of course food. When we get the bird dtuffed in the i en, we will go help serve and clean up at the city feee thanksgiving meal to remind us all how fortunate we are and to spread some cheer to others. My sweet niece willingly (as she listened to the adults talk about hunger and poverty in America and the world as a whole, also heard that the city free meal was also collecting Toys for Tots. She voluntarily came to her mom (my daughter) asking if she could donate some of her toys. My daughter and I had to excuse ourselves for a moment to weep. This soon to be 10 year old ce to my kids as a foster child 18 months ago, secretive, reserved and malnourished and today fees safe and lived enough to want to share her good fortune with other kids. After the last court hearing in January, we will be able to file the adoption petition. We are so thankful.

Happy thanksgiving to one and all. Spread some live around; that’s what this holiday is for!!

Dick Sears 10:32 PM  

Hahas are sunken fences. I’ve never seen one but I’ve always loved the concept. Definitely more interesting than laughing syllables.

Pete 10:59 PM  

@Robert Rushing That's been dismissed as to why there are 5 rings. First, there are 7 continents, dismiss Antarctica and we're left with 6. The five colors, then add the white background, are all the colors in all the flags of the original participants of the modern Olympics.
Ref: Something I read this mo

Stephen 8:13 AM  

It might have escaped the attention of the American and/or non-nerd audience, but November 23 is the anniversary of the first episode of Doctor Who, so seeing the abbreviated version of the title in that day’s grid was a delightful surprise for this British solver. I wouldn’t hold out hope for the NYT doing a whole themed puzzle, even if next year is the show’s 60th birthday, but a nice tribute nonetheless.

thefogman 10:45 AM  

Best puzzle in a long time. Matthew Stock’s debut with the NYT was about two years ago and already he has 19 NYT published puzzles to his name. That’s quite impressive. Not much to criticize here. TAMA is a little obscure unless you’ve read Slave of New York (which I did). And I wouldn’t have clued OIL (14D) like he did. But aside from that it was a really enjoyable solve with a great gimmick.

thefogman 11:30 AM  

EDIT - Make that to his credit not to his name.

Diana, LIW 12:23 PM  

Hope this didn't have any Syndicats running around in circles. At least not the wrong circles. And OIL agree with @Foggy on the oddity of the falafel clueing. (Every time I hear the word or think of falafel, I think of the food trucks on the street outside Temple University, where I studies in the 70's.

Now if only we had "ring around the rosy." I mean, rosy is a color, right?

Whoa - @Stephen sez Dr. W is 60 years old - that is amazing! Methinks.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

Burma Shave 3:01 PM  


YEW know THEY have to ASSORT,
lest THEY DARTOFF to the border,
and ARE LEFT with no PASSPORT.


spacecraft 4:02 PM  

Yes, and may I say that Barilla makes a full line of gluten-free pastas, so good for them. But the tire guys are PIRELLI.

I liked the theme; it certainly is original, even in concept. Good stuff. Also the E-W symmetry. Birdie.

Wordle par.

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