Home run specialists slangily / THU 1-19-23 / Postseason game played in Phoenix / Party in a biblical swindle / Guru's honorific / Audibly blown away / Skilled climber in the logo of Italy's Gran Paradiso National Park / Candy originally marketed as a smoking cessation aid

Thursday, January 19, 2023

Constructor: Daniel Bodily

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: RUN UP A TAB (36D: Accumulate charges ... or what you must do to answer four clues in this puzzle) — "TAB" "runs" "up" (i.e. heads north) in four answers containing the letter string "TAB" (the latter parts of the words (i.e., BOWL, BABY, BARS, and BROAD) are all clued separately as well):

Theme answers:
  • FIESTA BOWL (20A: Postseason game played in Phoenix)
  • "SANTA BABY" (31A: Holiday hit by Eartha Kitt)
  • PASTA BARS (57A: All-you-can-eat venues with elbows and bow ties)
  • WENT ABROAD (68A: Traveled to another country)
Word of the Day: ESAU (14A: Party in a biblical swindle) —
 is the elder son of Isaac in the Hebrew Bible. He is mentioned in the Book of Genesis and by the prophets Obadiah and Malachi. The Christian New Testament alludes to him in the Epistle to the Romans and in the Epistle to the Hebrews. [...] Esau, a "man of the field", became a hunter who had "rough" qualities that distinguished him from his twin brother. Among these qualities were his redness and noticeable hairiness. Jacob was a plain or simple man, depending on the translation of the Hebrew word tam (which also means "relatively perfect man"). Jacob's color was not mentioned. Throughout Genesis, Esau is frequently shown as being supplanted by his younger twin, Jacob (Israel). [...] In Genesis 27:5–7, Rebekah is listening while Isaac speaks to his son Esau. When Esau goes to the field to hunt for venison to bring home, Rebekah says to her son Jacob, "Behold, I heard thy father speak to thy brother Esau, saying: 'Bring me venison and prepare a savoury food, that I may eat, and bless thee before the Lord before my death.'" Rebekah then instructs Jacob in an elaborate deception through which Jacob pretends to be Esau, in order to steal from Esau his blessing from Isaac and his inheritance—which in theory Esau had already agreed to give to Jacob. Jacob follows through with the plan to steal his brother's birthright by bringing the meal his father Isaac requested and pretending to be Esau. Jacob pulled off his disguise by covering himself in hairy lamb skin so that when his blind father went to touch him, his smooth skin did not give him away as an imposter of his hairy brother. Jacob successfully received his father Isaac's blessing. As a result, Jacob became the spiritual leader of the family after Isaac's death and the heir of the promises of Abraham. (wikipedia)
• • •

The only problem with this one is that the more common variation of the revealer phrase is simply "RUN A TAB," so the "UP" feels unnatural / forced to me. "RUN A TAB" googles way better, and most of the top hits for "RUN UP A TAB" are (surprise) now crossword answer-bot sites. But RUN UP A TAB is listed in idiom dictionaries as a variant, and it's certainly intelligible, so ... just roll with it, I guess.

The revealer may be wonky (to my ears, anyway), but the concept is fresh and fun to work out. I found it pretty easy to uncover, in that there was no way [Postseason game played in Phoenix] was gonna fit in five squares, no matter what the answer was, especially since the answer probably ended in BOWL. I realized quickly it was going to be FIESTA BOWL, and that only FIEST was going to fit, so I just wrote it in and waited to see what happened. Later on, another obvious non-fitter showed up ("SANTA BABY"), so now I was just on the hunt to see where the rest of the answers were going to pop up. Once I got BABY (23A: Pamper), I put two and two (TWOS!) together and figured out the "TAB" connection. The only bit of puzzlement I experienced after that came when (of course) I completely forgot about the theme and was wondering why WENT was an acceptable answer for (68A: Traveled to another country). "WENT!? That's awful. Just ... WENT!?" Well, no, not just WENT: WENT ABROAD. I think I only noticed that that was a themer much later, maybe after I was done, and I saw that the puzzle said that there were *four* TABs that had been run up, but I remembered only three. The cluing on the fill seemed reasonably tough, but for some reason it didn't hold me up much. It was a toughness I could see through without much struggle.

There was some stuff I didn't know (exactly) but could piece together. Never heard of [Kinderklaviers] but "kinder" means "children" in German and "klavier" is ... a keyboard instrument of some kind, right? (see Bach's "The Well-Tempered Clavier"), so with a few crosses, I could infer TOY PIANOS. Poker slang shmoker slang, "ducks" schmucks, no idea there, but TWOS was still relatively easy to pick up (7D: Ducks, in poker). Forgot Mr. Fonsi's first name, but had the "L" and after LEON proved impossible, LUIS just came to me (41A: "Despacito" singer Fonsi). Had the usual SODOI/SOAMI kealoa* hesitation down there in the SE. Would've struggled a lot with 53A: Want (DEARTH) since the clue is so ambiguous, but I came at it from the back end, and even though coming at an answer from the back end *usually* makes it harder to see than coming at it from the front, in this case, that -TH was invaluable for ticking my brain over to the noun meaning of [Want]. Also, DEARTH is one of those words that lives in the Word Museum of my brain full time because I tried to be fancy and use it in a paper when I was fairly young, but I'd only ever *heard* it (thanks, mom), so I figured "mirth," "girth," ... DIRTH. My teacher at the time was like "uh ... nice word ... but no." I had a similar school-related fiasco in the other direction once—had only *seen* the word "episcopal" and in U.S. History I was called upon to read a passage containing a related word, "episcopacy," which came out "epi-SCOP-a-see" (again, inferring "episode," "epidermis," etc., where the stress goes on the *third* syllable). Has DEARTH VADER ever been a theme answer—seems like you could do something with that. [The Force was really, really not with him?].

I wanted the [High degree] (PH.D.) to be NTH, but that's the only other slip-up I remember. Oh, same section, I had some trouble with DEMO (short for "demolish"), as my brain wanted only RAZE, even though that's not an "informal" term (38A: Bring down, informally). If you don't know SYFY it's a good channel to commit to memory. I'd've been (briefly) lost without it in the NE. Thrilled to learn that PEZ were "originally marketed as a smoking cessation aid" (63D). Where was this useful information when I was quitting!? You know what my "smoking cessation aid" was? Crossword puzzles! I had no idea what you were supposed to do with your hands when you were sitting there drinking your coffee in the cafe in the morning, so ... hey, they have newspapers in this cafe, maybe I'll just ... hmmm, an empty grid ... well, *someone's* gotta fill it in." And off I went. And now off I go. See you tomorrow.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld 

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

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Conrad 5:44 AM  

I liked that (as @Rex noted) the last segment of the "run-up" answers were regular words, clued normally instead of with "-". Kudos!

Overwrites: I thought the Timberwolves (5D) were an NhlTEAM, and Aww before AAH at 30A (the puzzle was right; AAH is a better fit for the clue).

I don't understand why the clue for 40D was in Spanish. "CUBA" is the same in English, so wouldn't "Juventud's island" work?

Weezie 6:16 AM  

Welp, if I couldn’t sleep, at least I got to solve this delight of a puzzle. This is my first Thursday in which I let out an audible “ohhhhh” upon getting the revealer. I think I’m getting the hang of Thursdays now.

Fwiw, RUN UP A TAB rolls off the tongue more easily for me than RUN A TAB; I wonder if it’s a regionalism? (I’m from NYC.) I also tend to think of RUN UP A TAB as being slightly more of a commentary on someone having ordered a lot of drinks in an evening or over time, where as RUN A TAB I would just use as value-neutral description of leaving one’s card with the bartender.

Loved the Pez trivia, loved the slight twists in a lot of the cluing, such as HENCHMAN for “trusted supporter”. I appreciated the fresh cluing for SEA. Even the BARS/MAR cross had a simple cleverness to it that I enjoyed.

I didn’t know that an IBEX was featured in the Gran Paradiso logo, but we had a billy goat named Ibex on a farm I lived on briefly, and he was like a pit bull puppy, all wiggly and playful and attention-seeking, and I was happy to remember him this morning.

Maybe I’ll get back to sleep now, who knows!

BobL 6:39 AM  

Loved hearing the reason Rex began solving.

Fun puzzle.

Gotta believe SSJ will even like it.

Wanderlust 6:41 AM  

I liked this a lot - clever and very challenging for me. I knew something was up with the Eartha Kitt holiday song, which could only be one thing. RAP BATTLE got me BABY, and I saw the TAB going up and remembered the revealer, which I knew had to be RUN UP A TAB. Once I got that, I started looking for BATs going down, and quickly filled in COMBATANT, which helped me finish the SW. (But not the W, where I also had nth and where PRO and DEMO were difficult and LEMMA a complete unknown.)

I think RUN A TAB and RUN UP A TAB are slightly different. If I RUN A TAB at a bar, I might put two or three drinks on it. If I RUN UP A TAB, I am plastered and wantonly buying drinks for the whole bar.

HENCHMAN (“trusted supporter”) definitely has a negative connotation for me. I wouldn’t think of a friend who always has my back as a HENCHMAN. I would think of a friend who helps me stab my enemies in the back as a HENCHMAN.

I wanted to cry foul on the clue for USA because it gave no indication we were looking for an abbreviation - but then I saw that the clue included the answer to 5 across - NATO - so it was fair.

Nice clue for ESCALATOR (“it may have a down side”).

A SUPER Thursday!

Anonymous 6:56 AM  

“Run up a tab” seems like a natural way to say adding excessively to a bill while “run a tab” is a more neutral phrase for just having a bill to pay.

SouthsideJohnny 7:09 AM  

For me the Toy Story reference crossing an animal from a logo in Italy were pretty nasty - that section also has MAZE as a cornfield formation - I have no idea if MAZE is a deliberate agricultural concept or is indicative of one of those crazy alien conspiracy theories here (please don’t tell me that one can get lost in a cornfield, thus it’s a MAZE - just like a rainforest is a MAZE (and downtown Chicago as well).

Surprised Rex didn’t poo-poo the nod to ISIAH Thomas, who’s, how shall we say, “adventures” with the opposite sex have been fairly well chronicled. Of course, in RexWorld, Lil NAS is welcome with open arms - so I guess Zeke gets a pass as well.

Anonymous 7:10 AM  

Right on, Rex. Thanks.
Took me awhile. Without the theme answers flagged with, say, an asterisk, this one was okay. Adhered to the convention of four themes and a revealer, though.

Lewis 7:24 AM  

Oh, that’s a sweet conceit, designing a puzzle off of RUN UP A TAB. With a heap of skill to pull it off so smoothly; this had to be a bear to make.

On Thursday, give me some trickery to crack and some bite to conquer, and all is well with the world. And after today’s puzzle, I’m all AAH. I had some places I had to return to because they torqued my brain first time around. Filling them in later – oh there’s sweetness in that. Figuring out the twists and turns of the theme was most satisfying.

Yes, I could admire the construction deftness afterward – and I did – but it’s the during, to me, that’s important. And the during today was Thursday lovely Thursday.

The puzzle is smooth as silk, fluid, if you will (BTW, “fluid” goes well with the constructor’s last name). There are six NYT debut answers, all worthy additions to the oeuvre, especially FIESTA BOWL, RUN UP A TAB, SUBGENRE, and WENT ABROAD. I loved the clue for ESCALATOR (Hi, @Wanderlust!") – [It may have a down side] – it’s a clue that’s never been done before. Bravo!

Daniel, I savored this gem. Thank you so much for making it!

Robin 7:32 AM  

So, weak-ass theme puzzle but in this case there is no revealer? Sigh. That's pretty thin sauce on my elbows and bow ties.

Also, what Rex calls a kealoa is what some of us call an entorc.

imsdave 7:37 AM  

Re: 'there was no way [Postseason game played in Phoenix] was gonna fit in five squares' - I had FINAL, which seemed legit to me.

Anonymous 7:39 AM  

Young Rex’s teacher: “who sang ‘Santa Baby’?”
Young Rex: “Irtha Kitt.”

Anonymous 7:41 AM  

Did anyone else notice that Thomas' first band is spelled Isaiah and not Isiah? https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isaiah_Thomas_(basketball)

OffTheGrid 7:46 AM  

It was obvious pretty early on that this was a word turning trick. FIESTABOWL settled that but I didn't pick up the TAB 'til later. Decent Thursday but points deducted for FIEST and SANT.

Joaquin 7:47 AM  

This was one of those rare puzzles that featured some clever construction AND was fun to solve. Best part: No circles or shaded squares to give it away. Nice job, Mr. Bodily.

Anonymous 7:49 AM  

Put me in the “run up a tab” sounding more natural group!

Anonymous 7:50 AM  

And escalator has an on-theme up side

Eater of Sole 7:57 AM  

I tend to enjoy solving experiences, like today's, in which the revealer actually helps me with the solve, as opposed to just telling me after the fact what the gimmick is. Once I got the revealer I was quickly able to correct BIGgunS to BIGBATS and to see FIESTABOWL (not a sports watcher so the name doesn't pop into my head, but at least I've heard of it).

I agree with several previous posters about the difference between running a tab and running UP a tab. Also, I feel like RUN A TAB is (mostly? always?) used in the context of a bar, or at least a retail venue, whereas RUN UP A TAB is often used more generally or metaphorically and can apply to people putting together budgets, owing favors, etc.

andrew 8:01 AM  

Two Minnesota (flyover country, when the FAA grid is working) teams mentioned in a week - Wild of the NHL, Timberwolves of the NHL - in a week. Though I’m still grieving my Mighty Vikings having no D once again and yet another season ending in a whimper.

The puzzle was fun, challenging, and gettable (thank you SANTABABY for the stocking stuffer toehold!). What a Thursday should be!

Laughed at Rex fussing about the terrible WENT - not seeing the full answer. How many times have I filled in an answer that didn’t really make much sense and only learned about the theme/trick answer when I came here? More often than Rex has, no doubt.

Thought of the terribly named AYDs candy but that was for weight, not smoking. And to be fair, they named it well before the deadly scourge.

Thanks Daniel!

Rug Crazy 8:03 AM  

Not to mention 56 down!

Anonymous 8:03 AM  

I do not think I have ever commented here. I found the overload of sports clues to be obnoxious since I’m not a big sports fan. I still managed to complete it anyway.

Alice Pollard 8:07 AM  

This was more difficult than easy/medium. more like medium/difficult for me. agree, the clue for HENCHMAN was not evil enough. Great puzzle though, loved the construction. Figured something was going on w/ the Eartha Kitt holiday song. Which I can think of exactly one. . Anyhow... how do you fit SANTABABY in 4 squares? So that was on hold until I got the revealer. so you had to go up.... then right. OK got it. I wanted laZE before DOZE and bEdS before DENS. I had Sound before SCENE so that messed the SW part of the grid up for a bit. I went through the exact same thought process as REX for TOYPIANOS. Loved seeing PIANO in the grid - I have played for over 50 years. I have a friend from Croatia, never once have a referred to his as a CROAT.

mmorgan 8:09 AM  

Tough in a good way — tricky but gettable. I got the up-and-over gimmick with SANTA BABY but I somehow completed the puzzle without realizing the word TAB was in all the themers. I thought RUN UP A TAB was a reference to a browser tab, where the second horizontal part followed above the first. Or something. Oh, oops! Now that I see the TAB thing, I like it even more. Always interesting to be right and wrong at the same time.

pabloinnh 8:10 AM  

Oh, oh, another day when OFL said pretty much everything I would have. Not sure what all this means.

My pronunciation oops was CROAT, which I didn't see until I got to college. And of course it should rhyme with GOAT (see yesterday). Speaking of yesterday, I finally learned how to spell ISAIAH, I think, and then today we get ISIAH. Not fair. Also, I thought we were all searching for the fountain of youth, but it turns our the Island of Youth was right there in Cuba all the time. Wonder if GILL I has been there.

LEMMA for the math types and IBEX for us veteran solvers.

Didn't know that about PEZ. My go-to when I quit smoking was mini Tootsie Rolls. My motivation was a son who had become old enough to ask me what I was doing, for which I would have had no good answer.

Nice job, DB. Definitely Better than a lot of recent Thursdays, and thanks for all the fun.

Anonymous 8:21 AM  

A perfect revealer for dry January

Birchbark 8:29 AM  

Before ESCALATOR, oSCiLATOR, which resonated with HERTZ.

PEZ and @Rex crossword as a smoking-cessation aid -- mine, many years ago, was to go all day without smoking, then smoke a cigar after dinner. This delivered some nicotine late in the day as a "reward" for breaking the physical pattern of smoking (which was the real habit challenge for me). A couple of weeks and the pattern was NEGATEd, the cigar became a mere pastime that WENT its way, and here we are to tell the tale.

Pablo 8:33 AM  

Weirdly "run up a tab" feels much more natural to me than "run a tab," especially in the context of racking up charges. Rex is right though, "run a tab" Googles much better so maybe this is my brain getting used to it after seeing it the whole puzzle.

Either way, fun puzzle with pretty decent fill.

GAC 8:37 AM  

Don't understand Robin's comment: "So, weak-ass theme puzzle but in this case there is no revealer? Sigh." Unless he/she neither did the puzzle nor read the blog. Or this is meant to be sarcastic? Really nice puzzle but the gimmick was revealed at the Eartha Kitt entry. That took me back to the Phoenix game where I had entered FIRST. Could have been. Lots of tough clues which made the puzzle especially enjoyable. Agree with someone's CUBA comment. Also agree that Rex is wrong about RUN UP A TAB; it is certainly the most used phrase where I come from (Fairfield County and DC area).

egsforbreakfast 8:39 AM  

CROAT: Craziest of All Time.

Do you suppose that a GNU can get a GNARL? Or be PALS with an IBEX?

I would say that nuclear and diesel are also SUBGENREs, but I’ll defer to JohnX on all things submarine-related.

Occasionally we’ll find an unidentifiable charge on our credit card bill. Then we have to RUNdownATAB to see what it was.

Excellent theme and fill, in my book. Thanks for a wonderful puzzle, Daniel Bodily.

Anonymous 8:44 AM  

It would be either Island of Youth or Isla de Juventud. It is the latter on most maps in English.

K.S. Umnole 8:48 AM  

In my experience, "run a tab"and 'run up a tab" have slightly different connotations. That is:

To "run a tab" has the sense of being a common agreement to pay at the end of an activity instead of at each instance of an activity (especially in eating and drinking establishments).

To "run up a tab" carries the sense of expenses beginning to exceed what one had initially anticipated, or expenses that are beginning to get out of control (I bought the full-package cruise, but then started adding on all these premium extras - because I didn't like the rot-gut liquor that was included in the basic package - and that really ran up the tab)

But I suspect these subtle differences are regional - but the last place I would look to sort them out is an online dictionary,

Son Volt 8:50 AM  

Fun puzzle - agree with those who liked the lack of shaded squares/asterisks etc. Revealer was a little flat - but I think in the language somewhere. Liked the aggressive HENCHMAN x COMBATANT cross. Neat to see KINDERKLAVIERS.

The BROAD Majestic Shannon

Nice touch with TWOS adjacent to OLSENS. In the everyday - frequency is always in multiples of HERTZ. Fond memories of Trieste.

Enjoyable Thursday solve.

Sam the SHAM

Barbara S. 8:50 AM  

“Easy-Medium”? C’mon, Rex, give a person a break. I found this tough, mostly because of tricky cluing in the fill. I got the theme at the gimme SANTA BABY – or, at least, I realized that the SANTA BABY answer climbed up the grid in stair-like fashion, although I didn’t immediately grasp the significance of TAB. I can’t remember which of the lower themers was the next to fall but I know FIESTA BOWL was last, because my brain just shuts down and goes home when it sees some/any sports-probably-football clue. I liked the puzzle a lot, though. Too many late-weekers these days don’t offer enough challenge, so I’m always happy whenever one stands up and fights.

Not a lot of sparkly fill but I liked TOY PIANOS and LAY IT ON ME. Also like the revealer, RUN UP A TAB, as an expression, although I’ve never done that in a bar or been with anyone who was doing it. It seems to me like something that happens in the movies. SUTRA and LEMMA are two words that my mind always associates with irrelevancies: SUTRA with “suture” and LEMMA with “lemming.” Oh, wait – maybe not so irrelevant. From the Chopra website:

“In ancient times, most teaching was done orally and students learned by way of sutras. The word sutra comes from the same root as the medical term suture, meaning to connect or hold together. When the teacher expounded on a piece of knowledge, the student would be given a short phrase that would later remind him/her of the greater body of material. This was somewhat the equivalent of modern-day cue cards.”

The similar sounds of LEMMA and “lemming” are coincidental, though: LEMMA is from the Greek via Latin, while “lemming” is Norwegian/Icelandic.


1. Parody of Rachmaninov’s Suite No. 2 in C Minor with tiny instruments.
2. Contemplative reading for those who abet.
3. “The Universal Soldier.”
4. The end of Orson Welles's The Lady from Shanghai.
5. Befriends killer whales who are working with the Western Alliance.
6. “Hey, yon Hairy Man, you’re late with my pot of venison. (And if you don’t bring it soon, I’ll ask the Smooth Man.)”


[SB: yd, -3 Forgetting the four-letter was just dumb; the other two are in the same family, interestingly, but mean quite different things: the shorter one I didn’t know. I was annoyed that they wouldn’t accept GILA, as in monster.]

WinthorpeIII 8:50 AM  

The Fiesta Bowl was played in Tempe, now in Glendale. Never in Phoenix. My DNF was thus declared a "no contest."

Barbara S. 8:57 AM  

I didn’t post on Tuesday or Wednesday, so…

From Tuesday
@Gary Jugert – RE: uniclues – Thank you!
@Gill – RE: The Green Paint Mystery – Thanks for the vote of confidence.

Also from Tuesday –
RE: Our fellow-bloggers whom we’ve lost
I started posting here in March 2020 (about two weeks before the whole world entered lockdown). That’s three years ago but I feel like a baby on the blog compared to many of you, and most of the people you all listed as blog alumni I never knew. But @TTrimble, I do remember @Pamela. We had some fun SB exchanges with her back in the day.

But here’s the thing. I was looking at some old computer files recently, and came upon the blog poem that I posted about a year and a half ago. The oldish-timers may remember it – it was a little bit about Rex but mostly about the people who were regular commenters in the spring of 2021, when the majority of it was written. As I was reading it over, I said to my husband, you know, this exercise in light-hearted lunacy has turned into a historical document because so many people I wrote about are no longer with us: @Creamy T, @Frantic Sloth, @Hungry Mother, @JD, @Malsdemare, @Ocean Jeremy, @”Anonymous, i.e. Poggius,” and @What?. @Amyyanni’s there, too, and I’ve wondered whether the person who begins her posts with the name “Amy” (someone was asking about those posts the other day) is @Amyyanni in another guise. I know some people are intermittent posters -- @John X is in the poem and we haven’t seen him for a while, but he might well drop in again. And maybe @Malsdemare and @Ocean Jeremy will, too. @webwinger used to be here daily and then almost disappeared but I was glad to see him here yesterday, so some people who seem departed really aren’t. I remember when someone lamented the loss of blog friends a couple of years ago, and someone else (I think it might have been @Frantic) replied wisely that transience is the essential nature of this kind of online interaction. Still, it’s hard to see them go.

Nancy 9:06 AM  

Long before I got to the revealer, I had the trick at FIESTA BOWL when FIEST, standing alone, made no sense. Indeed no 5-letter word beginning with F made any sense. But I didn't notice the TAB.

I got the next one in the same way -- when PAST made no sense and I saw PASTA BARS. Pretty neat, I thought -- but I still didn't notice TAB.

Got to the revealer -- and now it occurs to me to look for TAB in those answers. Yep, it's there.

And so now, finally, I need that TAB. Don't know the holiday song by Eartha Kitt but now I know not only that SANT will be SANTA but that it will be SANTA B-something-or-other. Aha, SANTA BABY.

A trick that can be used to help you solve is a good trick!

DEARTH is cleverly clued. I had DEsire for "Want" for a while.

I don't like the way DEMO is clued. I've heard it used as a noun, as in "The demo phase of the project begins on Monday." (Why do we always seem to be in the demo phase of every project, btw?) But I've never heard anyone say "We're going to demo the building." It would be too confusing. It would sound like you were going to give people a video tour of the building rather than demolish it.

I found the cluing on the oblique side -- like the clue for SCENE, for example (67A)-- and that made the puzzle harder. Basically a nice Thursday challenge.

Anonymous 9:22 AM  

¡Que chevere! Fonsi finally makes it to the NYT puzzle tho the timing was a bit despacito.

Bob Mills 9:22 AM  

Figured out the theme fairly early with PASTABARS. That helped me find FIESTABOWL But the NE had be stumped, so I had to look up the Weird Al/Amish stuff on-line before arriving at SPOOF. So it was a one-cheat solve.

Too many unclear abbreviations in this puzzle for my taste. SYFY is a channel? OTS does stand for "overtimes," but the clue never mentioned any abbreviation. And the cross involving the rapper was tough for an old guy like me, but I guessed right.

TTrimble 9:23 AM  

No, nothing to do with an agricultural concept or aliens. You've never been inside a maze? Where actual people do as rats do in a laboratory maze? People construct ("form") such mazes from hedges, cornfields, and I'm not sure what else. You could have an indoors maze made from walls I guess.

I found this puzzle more on the difficult side, but with an average-ish time. I hadn't cottoned onto the theme until I came here, but then again I need more coffee. Even after I came here, it took a minute before I fully understood it (you head north, and then head east again). I also find it a little heavy on the sports stuff.

Agree with others about HENCHMAN (I would think "wingman" would fit the clue better). Never heard DEMO for demolish (really? people say that?). I think we could add to the kealoa with "asAMI". I don't know my biblical stories well enough to know the swindle ESAU was involved in, but I think I know that Jacob was his brother and they didn't get along exactly.

Love me a good LEMMA. Having a lemma named after yourself means you've really made it in math, even more than having a theorem named after yourself. (Not gospel truth, but there's truth to it.)

Okay, that'll be all. Don't want to be TARDY for my 10 o'clock.

Escalator 9:23 AM  

Has nothing to do with NYT Crossword, but my NYT Wordle win streak is now 100 straight games 👍

Anonymous 9:27 AM  

I agree with this. I’m quite familiar with “run up a tab” as to spend a lot

Anonymous 9:28 AM  

Amy: good write up. So complete I have nothing to add except to add a greeting to fellow solvers. I do like the word TARDY (16A). Rarely used outside settings, it's rather quaint.

The Joker 9:36 AM  

Whenever I see TAB my first thought is shitty diet cola.

Tom T 9:45 AM  

Decided to put it aside about halfway through at bedtime last night, but already had SANT A BABY and PAST A BARS in place. As I began to drift off, my brain said, "RUN UP A TAB!" That made things much easier in the morning!

Wanted DEsire before DEARTH and had all sorts of things to untangle in the East/SE, where the biggest problem was 47D, "Home run specialists, slangily." I was sure it had to be BomBerS, which is a much better answer than BIG BATS.

Speaking a "one-letter-off" clues for fictional villains (Dearth Vader), and with apologies to Harry Potter haters, I've always wanted to see a clue "Dreaded laundry task" resulting in THE DARK LOAD.

RooMonster 9:46 AM  

Hey All !
NW was a bear for me. Didn't have a clue what that finderflavin, er, zinderzanier, what was it? (Looks at clue) Ah, Kinderklavier! Hadn't heard of that. So after many minutes spent staring at blank spaces, ran to Goog to find out what they were. But then still stuck, as I had the T of TRIES, and going by the theme, wrote in the BA above it to make the UP TAB . Forgot it was already in NBATEAM, so getting FIEST at the end was a mystery. Got the Happy Music, said "Huh?", and came here to find out it was FIESTA BOWL. Head slapping ensued.

Same stupidness in WENT ABROAD. For some odd reason, the ole brain decided that DENS was the answer that went with TAB, thereby giving me the nonsensical DEN STAB ROAD. Maybe a street in Transylvania? Or Pennsylvania?

Neat theme, regardless I couldn't fully grok a couple of them. Not so SHREWD as I used to be.

Neat to see two GN starting words I balk at AON. I'm sure they are Multinational, but dang. And SEA change? Profound.

Two F's

Anonymous 9:47 AM  

REX two times in one week! 🥰

J.W. 10:06 AM  

Agreed with most of Rex's write-up, except I would call it tougher than yesterday's. This had pretty much everything I want in a puzzle. Tough but infer-able answers I had to work for; tight construction; a fun theme that yielded a satisfying light bulb moment; clues I had right the first time but deleted in doubt, leading to self-chastisement for not trusting myself more (ESAU, HENCHMAN); and learning something new (PEZ and LEMMA, the latter of which drew a clear line to where we might get "dilemma").

I would call RUN UP A TAB the more natural sounding construction, though I agree with Wanderlust's distinction. But like by way of comparison, when you're killing time in a game, you don't say you're running the clock, you say you're running out the clock. So I guess I'd say the preposition isn't necessarily necessary (heh), but it feels better to me.

pmdm 10:12 AM  

I liked the theme of this puzzle a lot. I know it creates stress on the fill, which I more or less did not like, but I can give that a pass when I like the theme so much. So a mixed thumbs up and thumbs down from me.

When you enter a bar, the bartender might ask you if you want to run a tab. If you do, you will run it up, even if you are a light drinker. The difference in the phrases has been well characterized by others above. Yes, it might be a regionalism, but when I used to go to bars I would ask the bartender if I could run up a tab. These days, I do the same in micro-breweries. Or a place like the Bronx Alehouse. (Actually, the pandemic has ruined most of that.) I am a little surprised that many above associate the idiom (if it is that) with heavy drinking. I just associate it with not wanting to plunk actual money down on the bar.

I read with interest the information about those who no longer post on this site. Many left not because of death but for various reasons. I remember AliasZ, EvilDoug, ACME, Z, and others. I do admit to missing them, whatever the reason they no longer post. I really do wish Z and ACME would come back. Others may not be so nostalgic for their return.

Tom P 10:13 AM  

I usually struggle on Thursdays, but this week's edition was fun and my time was just about average. Last to fall was the SE corner, mostly because I had LAZE instead of DOZE.

jberg 10:20 AM  

These days, when you say you want to RUN (UP) A TAB they take your credit card. There was a period when I would go to a party with a cash bar, run the tab, and then leave without settling up. They had the card, so they'd usually just charge me, but I'd have to go retrieve it the next day. Hasn't happened for awhile -- I don't know if my memory has improved or if there are fewer cash bars.

I figured it out with PASTA BARS, though I first tried to turn up at the TAB and just keep going, wondering what PASTABmoc meant. But then I noticed the BARS, and all was well. Neat idea.

Corn MAZEs are big back where I come from, in Wisconsin. A farmer can pick up a little income by leaving some corn standing, cutting a maze through it, and charging people to try it out. I've never done it, so I'm not sure what makes it fun. Unlike hedge mazes, more common in England, you have to reconstruct them every year.

bocamp 10:22 AM  

Thx, Daniel; fanTABulous puz! :)


Pretty much on the right wavelength, so must've been the somewhat tricky theme that slowed me to an avg time.

Only one new learning today: LUIS Fonsi.

Lotsa fun with this one. Liked it a lot! :)

@Anonymous (8:03 AM)

Welcome to the commentariat! :)

@Barbara S. (8:57 AM)

I too remember Pamela from the SB discussions.

@tea73 (10:162 PM2 yd eve)

I always check the previous day's posts before embarking on the current day's puz, so yes, I did see your comment; thx, point taken! At least the audiobook will be a step in the right direction, after which I may drop in to my brick and mortar library to put the icing on the cake, so to speak. :)
Peace 🕊 🇺🇦 ~ Compassion ~ Tolerance ~ Kindness to all 🙏

Anonymous 10:31 AM  

Too much random trivia. Hard to get a foothold.

Newboy 10:33 AM  

Like many others I didn’t pick UP A TAB until the grid had played that happy tune though FIEST was enough cheese to spring the mousetrap. Really nice write up by OFL and especially neat to hear his PEZless addiction success. And strolling down memory lane with IBEX & GNU as HENCHMEN compensated for the kealoa. Great clueing for corn MAZE caused a pause or three as did ESCALATOR, LEMMA & HERTZ—known, but….

Thanks Daniel for getting this Thursday of to a shining start; others were clearly impressed and SO AM I!

And thanks @Barbara for the doggerel reminder; just seeing the names brought a 😊

Nancy 10:36 AM  

Another hand way up for RUN UP A TAB as the oft-used and far more familiar phrase (and I'm also from NYC, @Weezie).

Another hand way up for HENCHMAN having a much more negative connotation than the clue implies. I noticed that too at the time. @Wanderlust's 6:40 explanation of the difference between the meaning of HENCHMAN and the meaning of the clue for HENCHMAN is inspired.

@Barbara S -- You may have come to the blog more recently than many of us long-timers, but you have certainly come up with a quite a number of missing Rexites that all of us inadvertently omitted from our lists. (Though I must admit I haven't the slightest idea who "Creamy T" is/was.)

Whatsername 10:38 AM  

Seemed easy and the trick was certainly not hard to get which - being the football fanatic I am - I first saw at FIESTA BOWL. But again, the football fan in me really wanted SUPER BOWL since that’s where it’s held this year. Liked the whole concept of RUN UP A TAB but I must still be asleep because I never even noticed it was T-A-B making the connection each time. Also had to go looking for the fourth themer post solve; for some reason SANTA BABY just didn’t jump out at me like the others did.

Thanks Rex for the Bible study today. I like to think I’m a fair student of the Scriptures but some of the Old Testament books can get very dreary and conducive to a quick DOZE. That whole ESAU story though, was quite a captivating SCENE.

Whatsername 10:54 AM  

@Barbara S (8:57) I remember your poem fondly, a masterpiece. I still miss @Frantic Sloth and occasionally look for her, hoping she might’ve decided to pop in.

@Nancy (9:06) Your critique of the puzzle could have been written for me today, almost word for word. Great minds as they say - and that’s a PHD level compliment to me.

jae 10:59 AM  

Medium. Sorta got the theme early at SANTA BABY, but this one still took some effort. lEAS before TEAS didn’t help and the NW was on the tough side. I did not know the Kinder... clue and I had AIG before AON which was a WOE as was LUIS.

A solid, clever, and slightly tricky Thursday, liked it.

@lms - speaking of eggs, I picked up a dozen jumbo eggs today at Trader Joe’s in San Diego. $3.99 up from $2 and change a few weeks ago. Are there big regional differences?

Anonymous 11:01 AM  

Big Mess up by the creator on Thomas of the Pistons. It is ISAIAH no ISIAH


GILL I. 11:03 AM  

@imsdave 7:37.....ARE YOU BACK???? I just mentioned you the other day. When I finally got my little guts to post here (after lurking for ages)..you were the first person who gave me courage.....I hope you come back to stay!
Well...here's what my eyes saw while doing the puzzle: LAY IT ON, SHAM, DEARTH, COMBATANT, HENCHMAN, and finally AGASP. Oh, and BIG BATS. BUT that's not all...I saw the up/down ESCALATOR at the FIESTA BOWL and I had fun singing SANTA BABY. My Thursday was almost complete. I had to go sniffing out two more....Those last two were a bit harder. Didn't /don't know math terms. I might've said LEMMMA outahere during Algebra class or maybe Geology or maybe even during Math 101. Does anyone use Algebra in everyday happenings? @Mathgent? TTrimble?
So I figured out that it was a word I'll never use and that M.M.A. finale is ARTS...I smelled the PASTA BARS and I WENT ABROAD dreaming about CUBA. @pablito...Never been to Isla de la Juventud. Back in my days it was called "Isla de Pinos." Why they changed the name (the island is full of pine trees) to a bunch of youths, is only something Castro can answer... but he's dead...and so is Che. Yay!
When I can finish a Thursday as easily as this, I tend to smile. I usually enter this day with a sense of some dread thinking I'm not smart enough to figure out any trick that lurks. I had no trouble today.
Now I'm going to listen to some LUIS Fonsi and see if I like "Despacito."

WestofNatick 11:09 AM  

Delightful Thursday puzzle. Made more sense after I realized an IBIS is not a skilled climber. 69A “Cornfield formation” is a gem. Maze Maize.

Sir Hillary 11:18 AM  

I really enjoyed this one.

The theme revealed itself with SANTABABY, so much so that I knew what the revealer would be (although I expected it at 64A, not 36D). Circling back to FIESTABOWL was pretty easy, but the other two too me quite a while to find, giving the entire South some real crunch. Putting LUXE in place of POSH didn't help.

The only thing that would have made this better would be if FIEST and SANT were a bit more in the language. Both have real definitions per Dr. Google, but they pale in comparison to PAST and WENT.

LEMMA gets me every time -- not just in puzzles, but in general. Maybe it's dilemma or lemme (at 'em) or Emma Thompson or the Emmys or lemmings, but I just can't see that word and think of something one does or a step one takes. It's got to be something more tactile.

All in all, great stuff. Whatever the opposite of Bodily harm is, Daniel provided it today.

R Duke 11:19 AM  

Anon @7:41 - you are correct that there is an NBA player named Isaiah Thomas. However, he is not a Pistons great. That player is, in fact, Isiah Thomas, one of the greatest point guards of all time.

I miss Frantic Sloth too!

dragoo 11:23 AM  


In poker (and many card games), we all know that low cards are given names other than simply the number of pips. The common one is the card with one pip that is everywhere called an "Ace" (never called a "One"). But even now, poker players still prefer to call the card with two pips a "Deuce" instead of a "Two", and the card with three pips a "Trey" over a "Three". These words have somewhat complex linguistic origins that you can look up yourself, but "Deuce" is (eventually) related to the Latin "duo" for "two" (French "deux", North French "daus", Middle High German "dûs", etc.)

But of course, poker players are not happy until they've given nicknames to certain hands. Stud and Hold'em players have plenty of nicknames for their two-card starting hole cards: Aces are "Rockets" and "Bullets", Kings are "Cowboys", Eights are "Snowmen", etc. And so a pair of deuces is "Ducks" (by likeness of sound/spelling).

MarkK 11:25 AM  

Circle DANCE? (Looks it up) Huh, ok. I just think of the dances by their more specific names like Hora, and um, Hora, and not the more generalized term.

Carola 11:31 AM  

I thought the puzzle was easy...until I discovered what I'd missed. Having BOWL in place, I got FIEST + A right off, followed by SANTA BABY and PASTA BARS. But it took the reveal to show me TAB, where I'd only seen a linking A. And now, I read that @Rex was also bothered by a stand-alone WENT, but unlike me, he'd then seen ABROAD. D'oh! Fun to write in HENCHMAN, LAY IT ON ME,BIG BATS, DEARTH, and the down ESCALATOR.

Help from previous puzzles: NAS, SYFY. Help from knowing the Chicago skyline: AON

Beezer 11:33 AM  

This was one of the niftiest Thursdays in a long time! I agree with @EaterofSole that I really like the puzzles where the revealer can help me with my solve. Like @jberg I DIDN’T catch on until PASTaBAR…I stupidly missed the “holiday” part of the clue and thought SeNT could be an Eartha Kitt tune, plus I had trouble with the NW so did NOT have FIEST in place like @Nancy. The revealer clinched it for the SOLVE today when I could then clean up Eartha’s song and “tab up” to BOWL to figure out FIESTaBOWL! Great fun!

I weigh in with the RUNUPATAB crowd to the extent I hear both and they both sound right to me!

Gary Jugert 11:41 AM  

I'm AGASP at my weekend-level befuddlement on this one, even after seeing the step up. Phew. A panic the whole time, too many Go-ogles even beyond the singers and sporty peeps, but in the end, a fun time.

Congrats (again!) to 🦖 for moving in rent free into the NYTXW editors' heads and puzzles.


TOY PIANOS (I own many), HENCHMAN (I am one), ESCALATOR (I rode a five story glass one in a mall in Germany once that almost made me cry it as so scary), LAY IT ON ME, and RUN UP A TAB.


BIG BATS, RAP BATTLE, anything to do with Arizona, SUB-GENRE, and GNARL.


I think we've done SUTRA plenty of times in other puzzles, but it's not sticking in my brain.

Pretty sure this is the first time ever I have seen LEMMA. Would never have been able to grok it.

Clearly I have not spent enough time studying the logos of foreign national parks.

When did the Timberwolves leave the NHL and join the NBA? 🙄

Never heard the phrase SEA change, and I was very confident it was SEX change. Maybe change the good ole USA to the hip new USX.


1 Upcoming motivational ad campaign starring Elton John making big things happen with little tools.
2 "Do whatcha gotta do for the boss."
3 Admired A-list academic.
4 Wife.


albatross shell 11:43 AM  

Farmers have found there is money in mazes. A way to interact with the community that gets folks to the farm store too. The unstated pun was a beaut.

RUN UP is certainly common enough and it makes the revealer much more explicit. What a weird complaint.

METOO SODOI ASDOI ANDME. Any others? Sorta silly stuff.

DEARTH SPOOF HENCHMAN and the clue for ESCALATOR all good.

A fine Thursday theme.

Joseph Michael 11:44 AM  

At first, this puzzle threatened to inflict Bodily harm, but Eartha Kitt came to the rescue and helped me figure out the theme. Fun puzzle, perfect for a Thursday. It made me feel stupid and smart all in the same solve.

mathgent 11:49 AM  

Great puzzle! I got the gimmick at SANTABABY and had a lot of fun finding the other three. Very impressed that the constructor was able to implant the four complicated answers symmetrically and still have so much sparkle in the clue/entries. I put 17 red plus signs in the margins.

Jeff Chen calls these puzzles "turning puzzles" and is tired of them. I've probably done a turning puzzle or two before, but I can't remember. I found it fresh and delightful.

LEMMAs are like backup singers. They are mathematical facts that are proven (just like theorems) but aren't important enough to perform alone. They are used as stepping stones to prove theorems. They are usually anonymous, but, as TTrimble commented, there are some who are named. Like Darlene Love.

MMK 11:50 AM  

@Robin 7:32
What do "some of us" call 36 Down?

TTrimble 11:51 AM  

@Gill I.
I am told some tradespeople, e.g., people in building construction, electricians, etc., do use elementary algebra and geometry pretty routinely in their day-to-day work. My brother, who is a semi-retired insurance executive who started off more on the sales end, once told me that he used a bit of algebra most every day. I'm not sure what for. Obviously people in math-related industries (like my wife who is an actuary) will also need it from time to time.

Most people will almost never need high school algebra or geometry. It may come in handy at times if you are doing a KenKen where some of the cages have minus signs. For example, say you have a 4 by 4 puzzle where each row and column sum to 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 = 10, so totaling to 40, and suppose all squares but the ones in minus cages, of which there are two, have been filled in and sum to 28. So there are 40 - 28 = 12 to go. Suppose also that the numbers given in the minus cages are 1 and 1, whose sum is 2. Each minus cage has a greatest number. Then, if x denotes the sum of these greatest numbers and y denotes the sum of the remaining numbers in the minus cages, we have

x + y = 12

x - y = 2

and by adding these equations, you get 2x = 14, or x = 7. So the greatest numbers in the minus cages sum to 7. The only possibility is to have 4 as the greatest in one of those cages, and 3 as the greatest in the other.

(Do I actually go through this thought process? Initially I did, but having done thousands of KenKen-type puzzles, it's now subconscious: hard-wired as a subroutine. Is this what other people do when solving KenKens? I'd guess usually not.)

TTrimble 12:13 PM  

The description of LEMMA by @mathgent is correct -- lemmas are helpful auxiliary results which are steps on the way toward establishing a result which is considered "more important" or more summary in nature, called a theorem. But in practice, such categorizations are highly fluid. The thing that makes a lemma a really good lemma is that it turns out to be so helpful that it subsequently gets called upon time and time again, and isn't just some nonce result on the way to something more important. You can't always predict when that will happen, and so at the time of naming something a lemma, maybe the true significance wasn't fully appreciated at the time.

There's one lemma that I think I use every day of my working life, called the Yoneda lemma. It's considered sort of simple, and has a simple proof, but it turns out to be absolutely fundamental to the whole way of thinking. In commutative algebra, there is something called Nakayama's lemma, which enjoys a similar status. One of the Fields Medal recipients of 2010 won the award largely on the basis of proving something called "the fundamental lemma".

Upstate George 12:24 PM  

Nancy nailed it on the "demo" clue. I don't believe anyone ever used that as an abbreviation for "demolish", even before the only possible answer became as a. abbreviation for "demonstration". Will nodded???

Carola 12:25 PM  

@TTrimble 11:51 - I was surprised at your comment that most people will almost never need high school algebra. I use it in daily life so often, mostly for scaling recipes and calorie counts. It's not rare that as I solve for x I silently give thanks for algebra! I'd be lost without it.

GILL I. 12:30 PM  

@Barbara S 8:57...I, too, remember your fantastic and clever poem. We have a few new bodies you could add....I believe @Weezie could do a fandango tango with @Beezer? Those TWOS could become the bartenders at my LEMMA inn.
Speaking of....@TTrimble 11:51. You lost me at KenKen. Then again at 1+2+3+4 = 10 totaling 40. (oh, I see it now!...but it took a lot of thinking!)....I am useless. I don't even know what half of 1/4 is.

CDilly52 12:40 PM  

Well, if the solver is a NCAA football fan (and I am - poor Buckeyes!), the trick was easy to get quickly, especially with the easy crosses. Turns out that at least for me, the crosses in the entire puzzle were so easy that I whooshed through this for the most part.

My one tough spot was the LEMMA. For my entire adult life, I have said, in response to the question “why law?” has been “because I’m pretty smart but I can’t do math.” I barely made it through high school trig and baby calc. If I ever knew LEMMA, it was long forgotten. The word itself made me want to craft a joke about all of the mis-steps in a complex proof following the other LEMMAs i to the sea . . . or something.

Overall, a very tidy Thursday. Well executed and entirely appropriate to the day. Excellent constructing as well. I always marvel at constructors who can start with an idea and create all the elements necessary for it to become a cohesive puzzle. Nice job Daniel Bodily.

beverly c 12:41 PM  

Jiminy Crickets this puzzle gave me a workout! - especially on the left half. My slowest Thursday ever, according to the app.
If I'd made the TAB connection it would have helped.

Tell me now vs LAYITONME
From vs ASOF
Piñata bowl vs FIESTABOWL

Timberwolves sounds like a team name, maybe hockey?
The clue for HENCHMAN threw me off too.
@Wanderlust 6:41 Bravo!

No idea about LEMMA

Worst dumb mistake - I wanted salad bars before PASTA, but I didn’t remember to turn the tab across and ran it straight up. COMBATANT couldn’t start with srab. What a goofus!

Worst time consuming mistake: trying to fit Caribbean in and around where CUBA belongs by running up and down and using rebbi.

Miracle of miracles I finally got the happy music! I'm a little muzzy this morning I guess, but I enjoy this kind of struggle. Maybe minus some of the sports…

ggannawa 12:56 PM  

Stress on episode is on first syllable. You meant episodic, I imagine.

Anoa Bob 1:04 PM  

Former bartender here and I think the basic phrase would be "Run a tab" but the clue says "Accumulate charges" so that seems to justify adding the "up" to the phrase, if you'uns ask me.

I thought it was a nice puzzle and an enjoyable solve. Given the themer contortions, it must have been an absolute GNARL (48D) to construct. I did give the side eye to 10D RAP BATTLE. Not familiar with RAP all that much. Does RAP BATTLE include more violent lyrics than run-of-the-mill RAP? Would the one doing the RAP in a RAP BATTLE be a COMBATANT (33D)? Are BATTLE and COMBATANT too close etymologically and semantically to use both as themers in the same puzzle?

Since there is already some RAP stuff in the grid, 34D NAS could be clued as an initialism for Naval Air Station.

Yesterday we got 9D ISAIAH and today there's 18D ISIAH. I've always heard it pronounce eye-zay-uh so I'm going with ISAIAH as the preferred spelling.

I always thought the opening line of Sir Mix-a-Lot's classic "BABY (23A) Got Back" was "I like big butts" but maybe it was "I like BIG BATS" (47D).

Anonymous 1:14 PM  

Add me to the group that sees RUN A TAB and RUN UP A TAB as two different things. (And sees the latter as perfectly natural sounding.)

The former is a bit quaint to my ear. I’m not a big bar person but when a bartender asks me about holding onto my credit card, it’s usually a question along the lines of “Would you like to open a tab?”

albatross shell 1:18 PM  

DEMO as in DEMO work or DEMO job is certainly used to mean demolition informally. Google a bit if you are in doubt.

okanaganer 1:26 PM  

I thought the theme was fun. My only complaint is there are far too many sports clues, all crowded in the top and left.

Typeover: for "Want" had SEARCH before DEARTH. Also for the clue "Unit associated with waves" I smelled some cutesiness (SALON maybe?), then was surprised at the straightforward HERTZ.

@Barbara S, I remember your poem well. I was quite chuffed to have my own verse!

[Spelling Bee: Wed -1, missed that 11er which sounds only vaguely familiar. I also have to complain that while this was accepted, its adjectival form, which is used 56 times on that Wiki page, was not.]

Beezer 1:43 PM  

@GILLI…thanks for the shoutout! I’d love to do a fandango and BARTEND at your Inn!

@CDilly52…you made me laugh at your answer to “why law”! Your description of math ability pretty much parallels mine! I also managed to get to pre-Cal but I basically got through with memorization of what kind of story problem needed what steps. Since I was a social worker for a few years before going to law school I was pleased to have taken the LSAT without the math portion. Luckily with Enviro Law I was able to the math I needed to do which did not rise to LEMMA level. Oh. Oddly I did easily ace Geometry. I’m not sure what was up with THAT!

@mathgent and @ttrimble…Good try chaps! I have to say I kind of chuckled as I read through your math and LEMMA comments because (as I am wont to do when my husband explains Kubok or KenKen or anything math)…my brain starts hearing “blah, blah, blah, blah-blah” But. Let’s just say I envy your ability and whatever part of your brain that had more Wheaties than mine!

Joaquin 1:51 PM  

@ Barbara S. (8:57) - Thanks for the memories. I, too, recall your poem from months ago. Too bad Jeff Chen doesn't rate blog posts as that was definitely a "POW"! Some great memories of good friends who I've never met and whose real names I do not know. How does that even happen?

Nancy 2:12 PM  

How nice of you, @Whatsername (10:54). Thank you!

Re today's "Will higher math be of value in your real life after your school years?" question:

FWIW, I was a very good math student at one time -- though it's hard to remember that now. I took 4 years at Dalton (when only 3 were required) and then took a Calculus elective course my Freshman year at Smith. And while the MIT recruiters never came knocking at my door, my math board scores were pretty high. And yet...

I don't remember any math at all and I certainly don't use it. Whether it's algebra, geometry, trig or calculus, here's the way I think about : Math is a house of cards. Take one card away, and all your knowledge collapses. The card can be a single theorem. A single proof. A single equation. A single anything. Because everything in math is built on something else.

Look, I can forget everything I ever learned about the reign of Charles I or the Treaty of Versailles and still remain absolutely brilliant on the subject of the American Civil War. I can completely forget Hawthorne's perfectly awful "The House of the Seven Gables" but be able expound convincingly on "The Grapes of Wrath." And if I were knowledgeable about art (which I'm not) I might be able to talk at length and in detail about Monet and Cezanne while forgetting everything I was taught about Picasso.

But one dares not forget ANYTHING in the field of mathematics -- because if you do, you're likely to forget EVERYTHING. That's what's happened to me. And while I'm deeply sorry about it -- I used to LOVE math, after all -- there doesn't seem to be a hell of a lot I can do about it. All the math discussions on this blog are going right over my head.

Peter P 2:17 PM  

This one ran tough for me. Significantly slower than most Thursdays. Of course, I have my addled brain to partly blame with answers like sIESTA BOWL. Where the hell did that come from? I was IN (greater) Phoenix this year during the bowl and even said we should have seen what tickets were going for, though I suspect much higher than I would be willing to pay given it being one of the college playoff bowls.

Reviewing the puzzle today, none of it looks that hard now that the answers are down, but I had a bear of a time getting through it. I also made the nth for PHD error which knotted me significantly in the west.

Anonymous 2:20 PM  

To my eyes, the themers are not what Rex said but these that have TAB running up:


ghostoflectricity 2:29 PM  

Speaking of kealoas, I find that AAH/AHH is a kealoa, at least for me.

imsdave 2:53 PM  

@GILL I. - I actually have never left, but only very rarely comment (usually when I have a substantially different take than Rex). Glad I was able to get you to join the community!

Emily Allen Martinez 3:12 PM  

Liked the puzzle, feel kinda left out commenting from the PDST, but read thru all the comments to see if anyone connected the PEZ candy holder resembling a cigarette lighter???

Anonymous 3:33 PM  

Just wondering about the background/education of current puzzle constructors… Today's puzzle, while cleverer than most, had no fewer than SEVEN clues about SPORTS! And recently there's been a proliferation of clues about rap and rappers that I find rather annoying (there were two in today's puzzle). I don't think the NY Times puzzles are anywhere near as clever and challenging as they used to be. So much so that I've taken to working the puzzles from the archives. I started with 1993 and am now up to 2001. Try it if you're fed up with mediocrity and too much pop culture.

Barbara S. 3:37 PM  

Thanks to @Newboy, @Whatsername, @Gill, @okanaganer and @Joaquin for remembering the poem. Every once in a blue moon, the spirit moves me and I write a limerick about one of our number who I haven't yet immortalized. If I accumulate enough new ones, I'll publish a second edition.

@Nancy (10:36)
I don't remember a lot about @Creamy T except that he and his wife were a young couple who solved the puzzle together, and they had a new baby who may have been born during the time @Creamy was posting or maybe just before.

@Gary Jugert (11:41)
Loved the overlap of 3 in our U'clues. Your first one is delightfully wacky and your last one -- ouch!

@okanaganer (1:26)
Man, was I proud of myself for getting that 11er. The other -- in the adjectival form -- used to be accepted by SB, and is yet another example of Sam Ezersky outlawing perfectly good words and driving us all to the loony bin.

beverly c 3:56 PM  

@PeterP. Siesta Bowl! That is perfect! They could all be named that!

Anonymous 4:07 PM  

Brilliant construction! (I say this with knowing nothing about creating a crossword puzzle, but it seems so clever to me.)

@nancy, the reason you love mathematics may be one of the reasons I love it. I majored in math at an equally major uní. I found that a lot of math has absolutely no relation or relevance to anything. Completely pure. Its only friend is logic. You made me think of certain courses in theory of numbers and advanced geometry that gave me so much pleasure. Thanks!

Mr. Benson 4:17 PM  

Another good name for a kealoa would be a GEENABETTEOSSIEVIOLASAMMY (possible five-letter answers to “Davis of Hollywood”).

TTrimble 4:41 PM  

Oh, I'm proud of you! That's really nice to hear.

Sort of like how every teacher sounds in a Charlie Brown special?

Math is almost unique in its ability to make highly intelligent people feel dumb and inadequate. It can be infuriating to be confused and to see these other people nodding happily and confidently as if everything is obvious. Trust me: this can happen at virtually every level.

Mathematics starts off being one of the favorite subjects of small children, around first or second grade or so (because it really is inherently interesting), but by the time the kids reach high school, it has become one of the most hated and feared. A lot of my job is trying to get students to feel comfortable so they can ask questions, and to feel to themselves that with a bit of effort, they can get it after all.

Algebra: from Arabic ‏الجبر‎ (al-jabr) 'reunion of broken parts, bonesetting'.
Said to be "from the title of the early 9th century book cIlm al-jabr wa l-muqābala "The Science of Restoring and Balancing" by the Persian mathematician and astronomer al-Khwarizmi. In his work, the term al-jabr referred to the operation of moving a term from one side of an equation to the other, المقابلة al-muqābala "balancing" referred to adding equal terms to both sides" (Wikipedia).

Gary Jugert 4:48 PM  

@Barbara S. 8:50 AM
#6 OMG! LOL! "The smooth man."

Camilita 5:07 PM  

I love Weird Al. I had listened to Amish Paradise right before doing the puzzle. I was really hoping Rex would link it.
I really miss Frantic Sloth. A great poster! Does anyone know what happened to him/her? I loved the write ups.
I miss Z but I don't miss Z's troll--The biggest jerk on the internet.
I had nothing in the top left West corner, so I wound up hitting the revealer very quickly, after getting into trouble at the SANT xmas song clue. I figured it out and worked my way around the rest of the puzzle.
My favorite Weird Al SPOOFS: Amish Paradise, White and Nerdy, I bought it on eBay, I Lost On Jeopardy, Perform This Way and Like a Surgeon and Headline News.
I used to be a full time eBay seller in the early naughts so the eBay one hit home. They love me on eBay!!

Nancy 5:19 PM  

@Birchbark (8:29) -- Didn't see your post from earlier today about your cigar-reward method of quitting smoking. I used my own patented [TM] "Duggan's Dew" method -- Duggan's Dew being my house brand of Scotch that tasted quite similar to Dewars (though it wasn't as smooth), had a similar-looking label, but cost a lot less. Having tried three times to quit smoking and having gone back all three times, I knew I could never again allow myself even the teensiest puff. So every time I thought I would absolutely die without at least one teensy puff, I poured myself a gulp's worth of Duggan's, neat, and drank it, while at the same time taking a very deep breath -- so that I would feel warmth in the same place (somewhere near the lungs) that I was accustomed to getting my nicotine "hit".

Oh, and I had a mantra: "Tomorrow I'll worry about becoming an alcoholic. Today I'm not smoking."

Like your experience with the cigar, @Birchbark, the Scotch eventually became unnecessary. Almost three months to the day after I stopped smoking, my body suddenly stopped sending me nicotine cravings. It was as though my body was saying: "What's the point of sending her cravings if all she's going to do is ignore them?"

Masked and Anonymous 5:43 PM  

Real late gettin around to the puz, today. PuzEatinSpouse was havin a little med procedure, and she gets mucho priority always.
Real cool theme revealer to build a puz around. thUmbsUp. fave themer: SANT-TAB-BABY. That's where the lights went on, at our house, as to what was goin on with the zig-zagger theme entries.
And RUNUPATAB sounds just primo, to m&e. (Much better pick than RUNDOWNABAT, btw.)

staff weeject pick: AON. Are they the outfit that live at the Aon Center in Chicago? The buildin name was pretty much the only AON reference M&A had to go on. Started out wantin AIG, tho.

some faves included: HENCHMAN. SPOOF. Most of the stuff that the TABs were climbin up on [COM, RAP, & BIG BATs.] SHREWD. LAYITONME. SUBGENRE.

Thanx for the fun, Mr. Bodily dude. Nice one.

Masked & Anonymo5Us


Beezer 5:58 PM  

@TTrimble…lol! Yes, kind of like the Charlie Brown teacher! And YES! I loved Math as a kid. My Dad had always said to me…you can do ANY math as long as you can add, subtract, multiply, and divide. (He coulda been a “contender” but due to depression and rural background he was skilled tradesman). That gave me confidence early on. Did fine up to quadratic equations (sort of) BUT. I KNOW my daughter and son have “math brains” like their dad. They see the beauty and logic that I do not. I truly WISH I had that. At a certain point I passed classes due to memorization rather than “true” understanding. At some point, (due to my children) I realized THAT point really went back to ELEMENTARY school!

bocamp 6:16 PM  

@Masked and Anonymous (5:43 PM)

Best wishes for your spouse's med procedure and speedy recovery! 🙏
Peace 🕊 🇺🇦 ~ Compassion ~ Tolerance ~ Kindness to all 🙏

Teedmn 7:00 PM  

I agree with @Carola regarding using arithmetic and algebra all the time. Just earlier this week my co-worker and I were discussing how odd it was that people hate word problems when they make the world go ‘round. He used the example of choosing what club to use on a golf course depending on the distance and wind speed - estimating what arc you needed to obtain. I use ratios and percentages often in rescaling recipes and knitting projects and I sometimes need to solve for X in my job.

I caught on to the puzzle theme at SANTA BABY. With BABY already in place and coming to the clue for 31A, I was able to follow right up the grid and I outlined the answer. I guess I didn’t completely understand the TAB part until the revealer but I knew to watch for wandering themes.

AON, is that well-known as clued? It's the first time it has been clued that way - usually it's the Chicago ___ Center or some such. I needed all the crosses; I’m thankful for the kinderklavier!

Daniel, thank you for the Thursday puzzle.

Anonymous 7:40 PM  

Different guy

TTrimble 8:27 PM  

They see the beauty and logic that I do not. I truly WISH I had that. At a certain point I passed classes due to memorization rather than “true” understanding. At some point, (due to my children) I realized THAT point really went back to ELEMENTARY school!

There's a lot of insight packed into that one remark. You really put your finger on one of the biggest problems: that students fall back on pure memorization without real understanding. It's not the students' fault necessarily that that becomes a habit, but it's a very fragile and superficial sort of education. They were never really engaged to begin with. Two steps forward and one step back: each semester time is spent reminding students what they were supposed to have learned before, but have forgotten.

I don't know the solution or even if there is a solution, but I know that in my own case and in the case of other mathematicians, it helps to develop some independence: find your own questions and find your own problems and personal ways of solving them. Of course those problems may have well-known solutions which you can learn in schools, but some fiddling around and experimenting on one's own can be a lot of fun, and you just may hit on something new. Math as a truly creative subject is not something that most people have an inkling of.

I'll step off the soapbox and link to the story of Marjorie Rice, who had an ordinary high school education and was a mother and housewife (to use the old-fashioned term), but who somehow caught the bug of playing around with math on her own, doing it in secret in fact, and became an amateur mathematician with some very interesting discoveries to her credit.

I hope a lot of people click on that link, because it's a really neat story. Even if their eyes glazed over at me being a Charlie Brown teacher. :-)

Anonymous 9:04 PM  

Totally agree on RUN UP A TAB.

Joe Dipinto 9:33 PM  

From what I'm reading, PEZ was never marketed as actually instrumental in curbing a desire to smoke. The creator was anti-smoking, but the advertising was more or less on the level of "Don't smoke, have a PEZ instead!" That strategy fell on deaf ears when it was introduced in the US, so they abandoned it.

noni 10:10 PM  

Yeah, in Combinatorics we have something familiarly called LLL, the Lovasz Local Lemma which has probably been used thousands of times. It seems to me like in Combinatorics the most important theorems are lemmas that the original author never thought was that important until much later when it was used so much it got a name and even an acronym.

Dee 11:37 PM  

Thought most of the clues were pretty pathetic. But, oh how I love Rex!

Anonymous 6:00 PM  

"Klavier" is simply the German word for piano.

kitshef 12:36 PM  

Hard puzzle for me, even know something was up immediately when SANTA BABY wouldn't fit.

Hand up for using algebra and geometry all the time, and calculus occasionally.

spacecraft 11:36 AM  

For me this puzzle contained a very painful memory. Must explain. Son is a Penn Stater, so in one visit out here we went to a PRO-PSU BAR to watch...yeah, THAT game. We stayed much longer than we'd planned (and of course, drank much more), only to suffer that ignominious loss.

Anyway, that's where I began, and immediately ran into the SANTABABY thing. SANT by itself made no sense,* so the macguffin had to be something about changing levels. A search for the revealer clue yielded the obvious, so from then on it was just filling in.

Even so, problematic cluing and an obscure name at 41a made it a hard grid to complete. "Trusted supporter" is hardly an accurate clue for HENCHMAN; the word usually applies to outlaw gangs, among whom there is traditionally little if any "trust." Also DEMO as short for "demolish?" Come on now, let's be fair. Nor am I loving NBATEAM (though necessary as a theme component) or AGASP.

*Here comes the theme defect. In the top TWO, the first part does not stand alone: FIEST and SANT. But in the bottom TWO they do: PAST and WENT. Way more elegant. A shame they couldn't all be like that.

I put it medium for a Thursday, with leanings toward challenging here and there. The basic theme idea and revealer are fine, and the rest of it retains some teeth, as Thursdays should. Altogether, a par.

Wordle proved vague enough to extend me to yet another "Phew!" six.

Diana, LIW 2:49 PM  

I got that we needed to turn and add an A, and off I went.

Didn't even see the second word of each phrase until I was done. So that's cool. And cool for a Thursday? No rebus!

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for CrossWORDS

Anonymous 3:09 PM  

@Anonymous 11:01am:
The crossword clue refers to Isiah Thomas, who played for the Pistons, and retired in 1994.

Anonymous 3:31 PM  

@Upstate George 12:24pm:
When I hear the word demo, my first thought is demolition, but then again, maybe I grew up around more tradespeople than you. Demo for demonstration, I believe is newer, and probably much more frequently used.

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