Singer/activist Billy / TUE 1-17-23 / Phrase sung 36 times in a 1970 Beatles hit / Electrical transformer named for its creator / Furniture giant whose name is an acronym

Tuesday, January 17, 2023

Constructor: Erika Ettin

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: "LET'S CALL IT A DAY" — themers all begin with letters that spell out the word for "day" in other languages:

Theme answers:
  • DIAMOND WEDDING (19A: Couple's 60th anniversary [Spanish])
  • "DAGNABBIT!" (26A: "Aw, rats!" [Dutch, Swedish])
  • DENTIST (35A: Whom one might go see at "tooth hurty," per a classic joke [Czech])
  • TAGS ALONG (42A: Goes with someone else [German])
Word of the Day: Billy BRAGG (25D: Singer/activist Billy) —
Stephen William Bragg (born 20 December 1957) is an English singer-songwriter and left-wing activist. His music blends elements of folk musicpunk rock and protest songs, with lyrics that mostly span political or romantic themes. His music is heavily centred on bringing about change and involving the younger generation in activist causes. [...[ Hearing DJ John Peel mention on-air that he was hungry, Bragg rushed to the BBC with a mushroom biryani, so Peel played a song from Life's a Riot with Spy vs Spy albeit at the wrong speed (since the 12" LP was, unconventionally, cut to play at 45rpm). Peel insisted he would have played the song even without the biryani and later played it at the correct speed. [...] Though never released as a Bragg single, album track and live favourite "A New England", with an additional verse, became a Top 10 hit in the UK for Kirsty MacColl in January 1985. Since MacColl's early death, Bragg always sings the extra verse live in her honour. (wikipedia)
• • •

Spring (?) semester starts today, so my Tuesday and Thursday mornings all of a sudden get much tighter, time-wise (gotta catch that bus at 7:15am). So if the T/Th write-ups seem somewhat terser than others, now you know why. You probably wouldn't even notice if I didn't tell you, but I'm telling you anyway, and in doing so spending up precious morning writing time *not* talking about the puzzle. So ... the puzzle. Doesn't seem much to it. That is, the concept seems really thin, and the revealer seems oddly ... not APT. All the "days" appear at the beginnings of their answers, but nothing in the revealer deals with starts or beginnings ... I thought the revealer was going to be something like OPENING DAY, but no, we're "calling" it a day, for some reason. Maybe the "calling" is in some way, very obliquely, referring to the idea of translation? I like the revealer phrase a lot, as a standalone answer, but I just don't think it works great here. I also thought the Diamond Anniversary was called the Diamond Anniversary. Because ... it's an anniversary. Anniversaries commemorate weddings (my 20th is later this year!). But DIAMOND WEDDING = "Diamond Anniversary"? That's a new one on me. Is the phrase being used adjectivally? "It's our DIAMOND WEDDING Anniversary!"? Google's not a ton of help, since, as you might expect, however you google "diamond" and "wedding" and "anniversary," you just get a lot of jewelry sites, because diamonds ... pretty much *the* stone of all things wedding. So that first themer made me go "huh?" I do love a good DAGNABBIT!, though. That answer got me back on the puzzle's side. But still, there was something a little limp about both concept and execution here. Why these languages? Why always at the starts of answers? Just didn't seem sufficiently cohesive. Also, the whole thing where there are long Across answers (here, NOTONEIOTA and OCEANSTATE—longer than half the themers) that are *not* themers? Not really a fan of that, either. Always seems inelegant—though if the theme really crackled, I probably wouldn't notice (much). I did learn the Czech word for "day," though, that's something.

The fill kind of creaks along. Maybe a little more subpar stuff than you want to see, esp. in an easy early-week (e.g. AMOI ANACT ASATEAM etc.). Mostly it's just a little on the dull side. Why does BCCED look so ugly? I'm sure it's valid, but ... I wrote it in thinking "well that can't be right." I think that "e" usually gets replaced by an apostrophe, does that sound right? CC'D ... "DAGNABBIT, Bill, I CC'D you on the memo, you should've known to bring the pie chart!" Yeah, I think I'd apostrophize it. I've seen CCED in the puzzle for sure, and though it looks wrong, it's short and I don't really notice. Somehow the extra letter in BCCED makes the whole mess seem more grotesque. I like TESLA COIL, though I confess that before looking at the clue I thought "oh dear lord are they gonna try to make TESLA CARS happen!?" Thankfully, no. The Kings of LEON somehow fell into the space in my personal musical history that is the equivalent of "between the cushions." Like lost change. They were huge, I missed them entirely. I think they peaked when I was doing all the early job / marriage / kid stuff, i.e. when I was least attuned to mainstream popular culture. But at least my brain registered their name, which is mostly all that's required for crosswords. Billy BRAGG is way way Way more in my sweet spot, despite being (apparently) much less popular, sales and chart-wise. I've listened to BRAGG's "Back to Basics" roughly a jillion times, since the late '80s. Just him and an electric guitar and these short, wry, funny, even sweet songs about things and feelings I didn't know pop songs could be about. Plus he sang in his full unsuppressed Essex accent (where so many British singers seem to hide or just lose their local accents when they sing; or else my ear simply can't hear it). Just great stuff. Surprised he's showing up on a Tuesday—wouldn't think he'd be considered suitably famous. But I'm happy to see him.

Really gotta run now. Feed Alfie make coffee (sit for a few minutes listening to "Wake" with Clay Pigeon on WFMU and doing Wordle/Quordle) pack lunch shower dress pack backpack out the door bus stop. Starting ... now. See you tomorrow.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld 

P.S. the Venmo app was down for several hours yesterday, so those of you who wrote or posted that you couldn't find me: that was why. I think it's fixed now. 

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Bob Mills 5:59 AM  

Nice puzzle, with normal Tuesday difficulty. Didn't know Stephen BRAGG, and had LATINS for Cubans instead of CIGARS at first. Very smooth theme with a well thought-out revealer.

Conrad 6:01 AM  

My only major overwrite was achE before PINE at 46D, a confident error off the E from I LOSE. I didn't know DAG or DEN as words for "day" (my Dutch, Swedish and Czech skills are even weaker than my meager Spanish and German skills). That made the theme difficult to guess without the revealer. Liked the puzzle a lot more than @Rex.

SouthsideJohnny 6:35 AM  

I guess the AMAT crossing AMOI yesterday was prescient after all. Not a fan of the themes in general and certainly not a theme about foreign words. On the plus side, the rest of the puzzle didn’t suck.

Loren Muse Smith 6:36 AM  

Rex – your “opening day” reveal idea. Perfect.

I love the phrase LET’S CALL IT A DAY. You can also call it a night. But you can’t call it a morning. I’ve sat here whispering too many made-up CALL IT phrases now, so they all seem feasible. Let’s call it a week, shall we? On New Year’s Eve, can you look at your friends and say, Let’s just call it a year. Now that I think about it, CALL IT A DAY feels like it incorporates participant agency in that if you don’t CALL IT A DAY, you have to keep going, like you get to decide when the day stops; CALL IT, then, means stop what you’re doing. I guess this concept gets wobbly with stuff like weeks, years, decades. Otherwise pretty much every Wednesday I’d suggest to my principal that we just call it a week. I bet the CALL IT here is related to the doctor’s grim CALL IT on 24 when he stops the defibrillator, looks around and says Let’s call it even though the patient is the only one who can tell Jack Bauer where the CIP override device is hidden so he can find it and save the country from annihilation. A. Gain.

I always misspell it as dialate. And I think I pronounce it with a schwa there, too. And I say /krim * zən/ Tide but /klemP * sən/ Tigers. I think lots of people slip in a P sound in Clemson, and I sometimes lose sleep trying to understand why that is for Clemson but not Crimson.

I watch enough crap Housewives tv to know from SHADINESS. Since it refers to behavior, I wonder why the inventors of English didn’t go with "shadery" instead. I’ve shared before that a Housewife once referred to another woman’s gossip as some major bitchassment and I was stunned, humbled, and deeply impressed by the inventiveness.

I’ve looked into it - proctor and proctology have separate etymologies. Too bad. Otherwise you could argue that the Turn your head and cough dealie is a “proctored event.”

ITEMS on the agenda in a meeting that DRAGS. Well, yeah. Our typical staff Zoom meeting consists of a lengthy agenda followed by a PowerPoint with the presenter helpfully just reading the slides to us with NARY an IOTA of elaboration. NOPE. They’re VOID of personalized commentary. Sigh

From yesterday -
@GILL I – You’re back! And what a post! We missed you! (Bet you could sketch one swell “elfin Arabian.”)
@pabloinn – snort. That camp story was too funny!
@TaylorSlow – NOPE. I live in Denver, NC. Those eggs really were that expensive.

Anonymous 7:00 AM  

What a disappointment! I came expecting a pungent rant over the "classic joke" about going to the dentist, which, at least in these parts, was about when a Chinese person (in the joke, a Chinaman) goes to the dentist, the punch line relying on familiarity with Charlie Chan and other ersatz Chinese people. But nothing, nada, zilch, zip, not an iota of righteous anger.

It's okay, though. I always thought the joke was sorta funny, and so do most of the dentists I know.

smalltowndoc 7:01 AM  

Cute idea. However, I have to give this puzzle a thumbs down for DIAMOND WEDDING. Like Rex, I don’t think that’s a thing without including "Anniversary".

I always enjoy videos showing someone receiving an awesome shock from a TESLA COIL. However, whenever one was demonstrated in high school science class, and a volunteer was called for, I ran to the back of the classroom. Someone else yelping after a shock: fun! Me getting shocked: not so much.

Anonymous 7:05 AM  

>I’ve looked into it - proctor and proctology have separate etymologies. Too bad. >Otherwise you could argue that the Turn your head and cough dealie is a >“proctored event.”

I believe that the turn your head and cough thing is not related to rectal exams or anything else proctological. It's to check for an inguinal hernia by pressing the testicles up against the abdominal floor and then seeing if, upon the cough, one or both enter the abdomen, thus indicating a tear. No idea what the head turning is about, but guessing it's so you don't have to watch.

Lewis 7:08 AM  

I adored this language-lesson theme, enough to look up more three-letter days: DAN (Slovenian/Croatian/Bosnian), JUM (Maltese), ROJ (Kurdish), and NAP (Hungarian).

This is Erika’s second NYT puzzle and her first, a Monday, had a theme that basically featured a word that went with EYE, FORWARD, CALIFORNIA, and CAMERA. Can you think of it? (Answer after the next paragraph.) When I finished solving, I remember thinking, “This was made by a witty person.” Now that I am mind-blown after seeing Erika in her Pun-off video, there is no doubt. (Go to WordPlay, constructor's notes, to see the video.)

I started liking this puzzle at [Scroll through a few books?] for TORAH, and continued through the lovely answers AMBLE, DAGNABBIT, ANOMALY, and ORACLE. Not to mention three lovely pairs: ALA / BAMA, DIET / I LOSE, and NOT ONE IOTA / NARY.

(The reveal in Erika’s first puzzle is ROLL WITH IT.)

Ah, the brain. TESLA COIL made me think of Musk, which made me think of social media, which brought me to META. Could this be the start of a new game where you get from one answer to another through two degrees of separation?

Erika, let’s call it a win-win. You shined and I’m happy and satisfied. Thank you!

OffTheGrid 7:09 AM  

Another Peggy Lee Puzzle ("Is That All There Is?")

Is AMOI going to be a permanent resident of 2D?

This is essentially theme-less. Remove the shades and foreign references, remove "or a hint to translating each of the four shaded words in this puzzle" from 47A clue.

smalltowndoc 7:11 AM  

@LMS: I’m not sure I follow your proctor joke. The "turn your head and cough" maneuver is to check for an inguinal hernia. Not the anatomy involved in proctology. Although, both are south of the navel, so there’s that.

TaylorSlow 7:12 AM  

Very easy, with very few stoppers. Got the theme right away, with DIA and DAG. Didn't know DEN, but the answer itself was obvious, so no problem there. Never heard of SMS but didn't even notice it until after I'd finished the puzzle; the crosses took care of it. Ditto for BRAGG. Is it Sasha or MALIA? I can never recall who's the elder. Knew TESLA but not "coil," but again, that filled itself in. So smooth sailing overall.

Really liked DAGNABBIT--it reminds me of Gabby Hayes, and that reminds me of watching Saturday morning TV westerns in the 1950s, eating sugary cereal while still in your PJs, and that makes me happy. Love the sound of the word, especially as muttered by a crusty curmudgeon. The Urban Dictionary defines it as an "oldcootism," and that also makes me happy.

Played a doctor on TV 7:12 AM  

@LMS "Turn your head and cough" has nothing to do with the body part to which you refer.

egsforbreakfast 7:29 AM  

Is a silent “I” in Greek a NO TONE IOTA?

Agree on the DIAMONDWEDDING nit.

Liked the puzzle. Gotta run. Thanks, Erika Ettin.

Gary Jugert 7:45 AM  

This started fast and got sloggier and sloggier, but only because I'm dumb. Ended up looking up the motto for Rhode Island since I had ORATOR for ORACLE. Fun and oddly challenging. Theme seemed fine.

To me, I think it's [Obsolete devices] not [Obsolescent devices] but maybe I don't know my -esents from my -etes.

I don't know the "tooth hurty" joke. Anyone wanna tell it?

@GILL I. 9:30 AM yesterday
Welcome back. I missed your Monday stories.

@Barbara S. 10:27 AM yesterday
I didn't have time to read the blog until late yesterday, so I wanted to give you a "Bravo!" on your uniclues. You cracked two of them I wanted, but couldn't grok: MOTHRA IRE BLOT and ART DECO LIBRAS. But your home run was OUTA ORR... brilliant.


1 Pizza and ice cream (assuming you want to look like the majority of Americans).
2 Command to over-zealous walking partner.
3 A bio-scientist's friend.
4 Unfortunate answer to: "Was the movie exciting?"
5 Probably not as good as elm's.
6 Opened a rug shop.
7 Bovine group sent a secret email detailing their deplorable working conditions.
8 Pack a red sweatshirt last.


Yosemite Sam 7:45 AM  

The strategies get more in-depth than that, and we have to venture further to decode “dagnabbit,” which is, of course, a taboo deformation of the word “goddammit.” To do that, let’s break down “goddammit” into two parts: “god” and “dammit.”

One strategy is called metathesis, which is pronounced with an emphasis on the second syllable, like “meh-TAGH-thuh-sis.” (“Agh” is the way I’m typing the vowel sound in “cat.”) Metathesis is a switch of sounds within a word. Pretty simple: instead of “god,” you’d say “dog.” Use some dissimilation for the vowel—change “ah” to “agh”—and you end up with “dag.” Excellent! Halfway done!

“Nabbit” as a switch for “dammit” is more fun, because we get to use both dissimilation and metathesis. “M” and “n,” remember, are paired together, very similar sounds. So swap out one for another. “D” and “b” are also pairs: they’re called stops, which means that you halt the movement of air from your mouth. (That’s as opposed to a sound like “s,” which could theoretically go on for as long as you have air in your lungs. But you can’t make the “d” or “b” sounds without stopping air from flowing.)

So using dissimilation, we get to “bannit.” Pretty good, but not great. What if we use metathesis to swap the position of our new consonants within that word? Ah ha! Nabbit. Put them together and we’ve figured out dagnabbit. This also gives us a key to making our own taboo deformations, if we want. For example! I am sick of winter. Winter should be a bad word. Please always refer to winter as “millder.” With any luck, by avoiding the Dark Season’s True Name, we can avoid summoning it back next year.

pabloinnh 7:54 AM  

Caught on at DIA and found out that there are lots of three-letter words for "day". How about that?

Every time I see BCC in some form, I wonder how crosswords got along without it.

Hand up for a side eye to DIAMONDWEDDING. We'll have one if we can hang on until 2030.

And hooray, no one beat me to it, so I'm giving this one the Puzzle du Jour award.

Nice Tuesdectio, EE. Entry-level Entertainment but super-smooth, and thanks for all the fun.

Son Volt 7:57 AM  

Again we get a cute theme with lackluster fill. I like the shading better than circles. APT revealer.


The middle right is brutal - BCCED, MIDST, T SLOT etc are all bad and drag the solve down. Agree with the big guy that the non-theme longs are awkward. Liked ANOMALY and TESLA COIL.

With a fine theme it shouldn’t have - but this one tuzed.

Billy BRAGG covering Lightfoot

Bran Deis 8:08 AM  

A couple of nits re 59A

The wording of the clue is incorrect. The "term" of the supreme court begins on the first Monday in November and continues until the court announces the close of the term (usually late June or early July of the following year.

The clue should have read "Lifetime, for a U.S, Supreme Court Justice."

But even that is incorrect. Though "lifetime" is the popular understanding of the term of a supreme court justice, the actual term is "during good Behaviour."

The distinction is critical. "Lifetime" indicates an entitlement to the position. "Good Behaviour" indicates a standard that must be maintained to hold the position.

The fact that actual practice has made it difficult and rare to hold a justice to the standard (i.e., though the Constitution nowhere sets out impeachment by the house and conviction by two-thirds of the senate as the means for assessing good behavior and determining removal from office, this is the practice that has been followed), does not change the actual Constitutional definition of a justice's term. By too easily conflating "good Behaviour"with "lifetime," we have perilously weakened our ability to hold Article III judges to account for their "good Behaviour."

Anonymous 8:18 AM  

Anyone have dejavu with the "amoi" clue? I felt like it was the same clue/answer in the same exact spot in a recent NYT puzzle. I almost thought I was doing a repeat puzzle there for a sec. The fill was ok (actually a breeze for me)..but agree diamond wedding was weird.

mmorgan 8:19 AM  

As Rex said, a little on the dull side but I liked DAGNABBIT and I’m always thrilled to see my native RI in the puzzle in any way, shape, or form. I got the revealer (which I found more apt than Rex did) based on just two or three letters. That was cool, though I can’t recall which letters they were. Not sure why, but it took me several letters to get LETITBE — I kept wanting it to be Hello, Goodbye, which was obviously wrong.

Anonymous 8:41 AM  

Lots of high notes today; agree Opening Day would have been clever. Diamonds are the gemstone for April, and most baseball Opening Days are in April, so perhaps there's a connection for a more creative constructor.
Let's Call it a Day is the penultimate line in Lullaby of Broadway (followed by Listen to the lullaby of old Broadway) so that's just fine.
Here, join me:

Joaquin 8:46 AM  

I always thought that the DIAMOND WEDDING anniversary was the 75th. Turns out it's both the 60th and 75th. But ...

Pro-tip for a lasting marriage: Marry a woman who doesn't like diamonds (or other expensive jewelry). We've saved a lot of dough over the past 57+ years.

Smith 9:22 AM  

DAGNABBIT, ILOSE my spot on Team Downs Only; had to cheat with some across clues to finish, although got the revealer and shaded squares pretty fast!

Wanted TAGSALes but it didn't fit. Type over Ajoke before ANACT. Wrote in the As for Obama daughter kealoa, don't know Billy, but ANOMALY and NOPE made AMBLE fit if I went with MALIA, and that's that side figured.

The real DRAG was not knowing TESLACOIL or ASTIN. I at least know who Tesla was, so that made sense eventually, but who are those other people?

RooMonster 9:24 AM  

Hey All !
I've NOT ONE IOTA of how "Day" is written in other languages. (Well, I did know the Spanish DIA, but that would've ruined my feeble attempt at a joke.)

If I LOSE, You win, would it be LETS CALL IT A DAGNABBIT?

I like how Saunter and AMBLE sound (to me, anyway) like the pace they describe. Or maybe it's just years of the brain transforming them that way. But then, TROT doesn't sound like the action. Probably just me...

No one is outraged at ING and DIAMOND WEDDING? Har (Or LET IT BE and LETS CALL IT A DAY)

What is IKEA an acronym of? I Know Enough Already? Impossible Kits Ever Assembled?

Rex takes the bus? Seems odd. But I don't know why.

No F's (I LOSE)

Todd 9:24 AM  

Not sure why but this played very slow for me. No idea who Billy Bragg is but that wasn't the issue. Just slogged through.

RAD2626 9:26 AM  

Just fine Tuesday puzzle. Saying that having all of the theme answers aligned at the start of their answers is somehow incohe(sive) is totally incohe(rent).

Bruce R 9:31 AM  

Loved seeing Billy BRAGG in the puzzle.

Alice Pollard 9:40 AM  

Easy. Filled in the revealer without reading the clue. Do not really know Billy BRAGG though I’ve heard the name. tALIA before MALIA. VCRS.... such a thing of the past though so important at the time. I told an intern eat work today that Netflix used to mail us DVDs and we returned them in red envelopes before streaming. They did not believe me

OffTheGrid 9:58 AM  

@Gary. The tooth joke can be kinda racist, depending on how you tell it.

Beezer 10:07 AM  

I liked this puzzle more than @Rex, probably because I worked it more like a themeless. I’m fine with finishing a puzzle (or close to finishing) and figuring out what the theme angle is.

@LMS…before I came to comments I thought…”I wonder if anyone else tends to envision and pronounce DILATES as “diAlates”!? (Boo, I can’t do bold font on my iPad). And YES there was article today about egg prices skyrocketing primarily due to the bird flu. It tacked on a story about how you PROBABLY will NOT save money doing the “urban” chicken-raising scene.

Since the had two languages for DAG, I will point out that DEN is also Slovak for DAY. “Good day” in Czech is dobry den and Slovak is dobre den (sans diacritical marks). I’m not a language maven, my husband has first cousins in the Slovak Republic.

And let me pipe in, Welcome back @GILLI!

Oral B. 10:07 AM  

I haven't ever heard the joke, but I'm assuming it's along the lines of

What's the best time for a dentist appointment?

At Tooth-Hurty

Nancy 10:09 AM  

Let's jump down to the (snowy white) bottom and see if the revealer is LET'S CALL IT A DAY.

Yep. It is. I just checked two letters though I haven't bothered to fill them in.

I've filled in a bit less than a third of the puzzle and I'm much MUCH too bored to continue. I'm sure there's something interesting I can do this morning and this isn't it.

Geezer 10:10 AM  

At first I thought the theme had to do with special Days. One could say "DIAMOND WEDDING" Day, the anniversary celebration day. (I have heard Wedding used in the anniversary sense). But alas! No DENTIST Day(although there was a DENnIS Day who appeared on the Jack Benny show), no DAGNABBIT Day, etc.

The Joker 10:15 AM  

@Alice you should have told your intern that people used to need to drive, walk, or take a bus to a special building or a huge outdoor screen to see a movie--and it had to be at a predetermined time. Might've been fun to watch their head explode.

lodsf 10:16 AM  

Tuesday funday. Aren’t Tuesdays supposed to be kind of easy? Liked the puzzle. Didn’t know the foreign words for “day” (except DIA) was fun seeing them as they appeared.

And I learned something today from the puzzle (well, from a post-solve Goggle): The name IKEA is an acronym from the name Ingvar Kamprad, Elmtaryd (the farm where he grew up), and Agunnaryd (his hometown in Småland, southern Sweden). I probably could have gotten through life without knowing that but … now I know.

And often I learn from reading this blog. Such as the fact that Supreme Court Justices "hold their Offices during good Behavior.” Now *that’s* interesting; I was in the camp who thought the term was for a “lifetime”. Thanks Bran Dias @ 8:08.

jberg 10:17 AM  

Well, I did learn how to spell DAGNABBIT--for the past 75 or so years I've given it only one B. And it was nice to remember Lincoln LOGS. But the theme would have been better with Rex's revealer, and maybe with a bit wider regional spread, although maybe that would have made it too hard. Probably very few of us would have known JUM, one of Lewis's examples.

Like Rex, I start teaching today, but not until 6 PM. As a retiree I teach only occasionally; the last time was the spring of 2021, and the last time in person the fall of 2019. It will be interesting to see if I've still got it.

Gary Jugert 10:32 AM  

@Yosemite Sam 7:45 AM
Love this. So, with a little effort and a full toolbox of phonological strategies, we could re-write the entire language into something more hilarious, right?

Whatsername 10:44 AM  

A pleasant, smooth Tuesday which could have been a bit blah but was completely redeemed by the clever revealer. I liked the dichotomy of RATED G next to the risky SHADINESS which seems to be much more prevalent in the films of this DIA and age. Nicely done Erika. I look forward to your Wednesday . . . and all to follow.

I could well relate to Rex’s frustration in trying to Google DIAMOND WEDDING and getting mostly hits for jewelry sales. I’ve noticed that happening often and wonder if the algorithms have been changed intentionally. Back in November/December, during the open season for Medicare insurance, I was searching for specific information on a particular non-Medicare plan but all I could get were links to sites selling Medicare plans. No matter what I typed in the search bar, it was relentless. I finally gave up in complete frustration. Highly annoying IMHO.

@GILL: Very happy to see you with us and in fine form. Sounds like you folks had quite an ordeal there in sunny CA. Hope it is all over with now and you can start getting back to normal again.

Anonymous 10:46 AM  

Don't know Stephen Bragg either ... It's Billy Bragg! He's great!

Liveprof 10:49 AM  

For those of you who are craving more bad dentistry jokes (and, let's face it, who isn't?):

1. A Texan is in the chair. The dentist says "Everything looks fine." The Texan says: "Drill anyway, Doc -- I feel lucky."

2. Mrs. Johnson is in the chair. Just before the dentist begins to drill, she reaches up and grabs him by the nuts. He says, "Mrs. Johnson, what in the world is going on?" And she says: "Now, we're not going to hurt each other -- are we?"

mathgent 10:56 AM  

Very nice puzzle. Only eight of those annoying little threes cluttering up the grid.

Some of you do the variety puzzle in the Saturday WSJ, I know Carola usually does. This Saturday's was a devilish cryptic by Cox and Rathvon. About a third of the answers to the cryptic clues have to be changed in a specific way before being entered into the grid. It took me the weekend to figure out the change and I was able to finish it last night. If any of you did it, please email me. There are a few clues I don't get.

GILL I. 11:00 AM  

I guess I need a little squeeze of oil because some rust has formed in my lower parietal lobe. I came to a long halt at the reveal....Ay dios mio...I proudly put in LETS MAKE IT A DAY. I did. So here's my flunked finale: TESLA MAIL (egads)..ACORN STATE (doesn't Rhode Island have acorns?).....and ERST became that stick around clue....But doesn't ERST mean long ago? I need a shower....
I actually smiled because I thought this was cute. But nowadays I think anything that doesn't blow a tree into my face, is cute.
When I first saw DIA I thought about lighting a Cuban CIGAR. A Spanish puzzle? No..we got into other languages that I don't speak. No matter, I learned some new DAY words. I need a new day.
Speaking of....47A (One of more than 14,000 in Minnesota)...LAKE, should soon be the new moniker for Sacramento ....HAH!

On a serious note:
Thank you....all of you...for the warm welcome back. I missed you.
This blog holds a special spot in mi corazon. I've been coming here for many years and feel that @Rex has created this cyber room of friends from all over. I feel like I'd know who you are despite having never met you in person. I had never gotten into any blog until @Rex introduced me. I was so shy and timid back then!!! It was @Ims Dave who reached out to me via email and gave me some encouragement....Since then I've become hooked, older and there's some hair growing on my chin.
I miss a lot of our old friends who, for reasons of their own, have dropped out. When that happens, it feels like losing a pal. Where are you?.....Frantic and DJ and Leapfinger and Aketi and R.alphbunker and Joho and Foodie and Sanfranman and Z and Questinia and Tita and JenCt and Evil Doug and George Barany and Mac and B.Kerfuffle and and and.... See what I mean? Oh wait...QuasiMojo (Hi @Nancy)...He was so much fun (well, all of them are/were).... Please add more names that I may have unintentionally forgotten...@Lewis..or maybe @Loren or our pal @Jae may remember some others? I think we've all been here at the same time...Anyone else? Bueller? See what I mean...???
And to @pablito, mi amiguito....Me alegra estar de vuelta!
Now excuse me while I go and scrape off the moss growing between my toes....

Anonymous 11:10 AM  

@Todd 9:24; just so you don’t feel alone, my time was about 25% above my Tues average.

Masked and Anonymous 11:12 AM  

Yep. DAY in other lingoes. Learned somethin(s). Also looked up why French "day" didn't make it in the mix. Yep -- no way, French day.

staff weeject picks: The Days. Altho SMS was kinda nice and desperate, I'd grant.

unfave stuff: No U's at all. NOT ONE U-OTA. DAGNABBIT.

DIAMONDWEDDING coulda been more clearly clued, maybe as: { ___ anniversary, a couple's 60th [Spanish] }, or somesuch.
Anyhoo, DIAMOND WEDDING turns out to be acceptable, in the Official M&A Help Desk Dictionary.

Thanx, dagdiadentag it, Ms. Ettin darlin. Nice job. SMS makes more sense as SUMS, tho.

Masked & Anonymo Us


JC66 11:22 AM  

I only know Billy BRAGG & Wilco.

bocamp 11:29 AM  

Thx, Erika; you made my 'DAY'! :)


Pretty much on my wavelength all the way.

Smooth solve, from BAMA to YENS.

Trying to distinguish between OCEAN STATE, Garden State & First State.

The Dutch 'G':

"… the letter G requires a guttural, raspy sound that comes from the back of your throat, which is unfamiliar to most English speakers." (Fluent Forever)

Excellent Tues. xword! :)


Med-hard; 2 cell dnf at 'Stimpy' crossing 'sarcastic' 'Mafia'. :( Nevertheless an invigorating 2 hr. + challenge! See y'all next Mon. ;)

@New Yorker Mon. folks

Couldn't sleep last nite; 'tooth hurty'; got up, did Liz's puz. Got foothold at the 'Radio-station'. By far my best effort for a New Yorker Mon. :) Went back to bed; fell asleep somewhere around two thirty. 😴 Will call the DENTIST today; maybe there'll be a two thirty available. 🦷
Peace 🕊 🇺🇦 ~ Compassion ~ Tolerance ~ Kindness to all 🙏

TTrimble 11:32 AM  

I don't have a lot to say about the puzzle. LET'S CALL IT A DAY in various ways around the world (mostly Europe). Didn't excite me much, although it doesn't bother me that I learn a Czech word through crosses. Czech is a language that looks truly exotic to me (same with Irish).

But it seems like some around these here parts would say instead LET'S CALL the whole thing off.

We were talking about minced oaths the other day, and I got the impression that Rex doesn't care for them much, but I guess DAGNABBIT is an exception. Speaking of John ASTIN: anyone remember the western comedy The Brothers O'Toole? Where the two brothers come to be in a town called Molybdenum that as a running gag, all the locals mispronounce as "Molly B'Damn" -- "Molly B'Durn" if you're a kid.

Billy BRAGG is indeed a high point. For a low point, I nominate I LOSE. That sounds so nakedly self-pitying that I expect NARY 'TIS, a time I EVER heard it said.

Well, I must AMBLE on now.

SB: 0 yd, last word was this.

TTrimble 11:37 AM  

@Bran Deis
But even that is incorrect. Though "lifetime" is the popular understanding of the term of a supreme court justice, the actual term is "during good Behaviour."

Wow, is that a laugh. If only. I can think of at least five who ought to be out on their ear for their corrupt ways.

Joe Dipinto 11:38 AM  

the revealer seems oddly...not APT...we're "calling" it a day, for some reason. Maybe the "calling" is in some way, very obliquely, referring to the idea of translation?

I don't know what you're seeing as a revealer clue, since you left it out of your write-up, but I see:

"I think we're done here" … or a hint to translating each of the four shaded words in this puzzle

(Let's call it a) DUH.

Newboy 11:39 AM  

Don’t usually do early week puzzles if I peek and can mentally fill the NW, but today inspired by the SHADINESS aim the grid, I DEALT with the META/BAMA gimme, set bias aside and actually enjoyed. Reading Rex’s return to academic purgatory made me appreciate anew the decades of retirement….and pour a second cuppa. Thanks Erika!

albatross shell 11:52 AM  


Mixed blessings:

The DENIST joke and always love me a NARY.

Hand up for not knowing there were 2 B's and thanks for the lesson in substituting consonants in oath transformations. Not sure that demands the double B but it might.

Leadbelly might nitpick your judgment on elm SHADINESS although maybe the shivering tips the scales.

I read my post yesterday and was disappointed to see I neglected to give a Welcome Back GILL SHOUT OUT. Consider it shouted. Her post was a !!! all by itself.

Nobody mentioned my LIBRAS joke. So there are apparently some standards here. Who knew?

Anonymous 11:53 AM  

Billy Bragg stopped in Buffalo (my home town) to do an addiction concert in support of the striking Starbucks workers this Fall. Was very exciting!

jae 12:10 PM  

Medium. I had no idea what was going on until I hit the revealer. Neat idea, reasonably smooth grid and I learned something, liked it.

Terra Schaller 1:02 PM  

My last name, schaller, means braggart. I'm not related to any Billy though. Or william.

Carola 1:08 PM  

@Rex - Happy start to the semester!

Nice Tuesday! With DIA, I guessed the theme; the fun was in seeing how the other DAYs would appear. DAGNABBIT was a delight, and TAGS ALONG such a clever answer to my "How is she going to deal with the German?" Very good longer Acrosses and Downs, too.

Anybody else read The ANOMALY by Herve Le Tellier? I liked it.

@GILL I. from yesterday - It was so good to see you back and to mingle with another cast of your characters. To those old friends you named, I'd add Deb and ....a guy who roamed around the Southwest and West, just can't come up with his name, but you might know who I mean.

@Beezer 10:07 - Fellow iPad user here. To do bold, type b between < >, then the word(s) you want in bold, then /b between < >. So the following string, but with no spaces: < b > words in bold < / b >

@Yosemite Sam 7:45 - Thank you! So interesting!

CuppaJoe 1:14 PM  

I loved this puzzle, got the foreign days right away. I thought DAGNABBIT signaled it would be about the Lunar New Year of the Rabbit with a bunch of answers ending in rhymes with “abbit”, how many carrots in a diamond anniversary., etc. Gung Hay Fat Choy.

Nancy 1:38 PM  

To round out your list of the Rexblog's most memorable missing-in-action folks, @GILL -- although you came up with most of them -- I went back to jog my memory by looking at a couple of blogs from 2014 and 2015. There's also Bob Kerfuffle, Numinous, Glimmerglass, Moly Shu, Whirred Whacks, Alias Z and Fred Romagnola.

Nancy 1:43 PM  

@Yosemite Sam (7:45) How's that again?

Beezer 1:57 PM  

@Carola…THANKS! This tells me that I really need to take some time looking up (and jotting down) cheat commands for iPads!

Anonymous 2:09 PM  

Interesting. Went through this yesterday at the Mayo clinic. Turns out I have a hernia.

Yosemite Sam 2:15 PM  


I'm the hootin'est, tootin'est, shootin'est, bob-tail wildcat, in the west!

TTrimble 2:18 PM  

To add to @Gill's list: someone named Pamela who was in the fashion industry dropped out at one point. (Occasionally one or more others named Pamela pop by, but I don't think they're the same.) I think @Barbara S. may remember who I mean.

JC66 2:36 PM  


I'd add AMCE to the list even though she has puzzles published.

Made in Japan 4:08 PM  

Regarding accents and singing, part of an accent is its rhythm and intonation (think of the distinctive ups and downs in pitch of a Liverpool accent), which are effectively nullified by singing a melody. Thus it is harder for a listener to discern some of the aspects of a local accent. Of course, it also makes it easier for a singer, who presumably has a good ear to begin with, to cover up their accent, perhaps at the advice of their marketing gurus.

GILL I. 4:32 PM  

@Carola...Might you mean @Jesser? He was a hoot and more. Truly sad when he disappeared...
There was also a @Fran from Santa Fe? She posted pictures of some of the regulars meeting up in Albuquerque .
@Nancy...Of course, @Numi!...but I remembered @Bob Kerfuffle!!!!!
@TTrimble. I can't recall a Pamela. Anyone else know?
@JC66. ACME...YES! Who can forget her.... She was ones of the first blog friends I met in person. I went to San Francisco and we walked, and talked, and laughed and ate at her favorite restaurant. She is not only gorgeous but she's funny as hell. She was at the ACPT one year and Will asked her to go help out (and be on TV) the chef who catered the lunch. I can't remember his name but he's a Brit that looks like a turtle. I bet the segment is still on YouTube somewhere. What funs days. Maybe @Loren was there and can remember it? Anyone?

Carola 4:52 PM  

@GILL I., Yes, I did mean Jesser! Amen to your comments.

Joe Dipinto 5:11 PM  

There was a Mo-T who contributed a couple of segments to "The Green Paint Mystery", but she wasn't here for very long.

JC66 5:26 PM  


Wish I'd been at lunch with you guys!

Joe Dipinto 5:42 PM  

Also, re @Nancy 1:38 – Fred Romagnolo passed away in May of 2022. Somebody here posted this obit at the time.

lodsf 6:20 PM  

If I am remembering correctly Z announced recently (within the last 2-3 month) that he planned to stop doing the NYT crossword — there was something in a puzzle he took extreme offense to (I forget exactly what). One day he posted “… and this is the last post you’ll see from me…” and it was.

Wasn’t Sanfranman the one who used to post daily statistics?

Nancy 6:29 PM  

I had heard that Fred R had died, Joe, probably from @mathgent who knew Fred and who in fact emailed me about him just now. But I'm certain I never read the obit. Thanks for providing it.

As for @Mo-T -- I don't remember her, but it is completely unforgiveable for me to forget anyone who contributed to "The Green Paint Mystery"! Unforgiveable!

ACME, I think, was just a smidgen before my time. I'm pretty sure I never saw a single comment of hers on the Rexblog.

jae 6:30 PM  

@Gill - going way back, Amy from Crossword Fiend used to post as Orange, also Chefbea, Wade, Doc John, Ulrich, fergus, Puzzlegirl, name a few past regulars.

GILL I. 6:36 PM  

@Joe D and @Nancy...Can you remember when we did the "Green Paint Mystery?"...I want to go back and read it...I thought it should have been put into "The Hall of Dishonorable Mention." Had @Barbara S been around, imagine what she could've contributed ...!!!!

TTrimble 7:17 PM  

Adding to what @Made in Japan said: when I was doing vocal training, I was sometimes redirected to pronounce certain vowels differently than I would normally, so as to get a better sound or vocal production. Since so much of an accent resides in vowel pronunciation, I think this would also cover up an accent.

I think Z was offended by "unborn baby" as an answer, a theme answer in fact, clued as "bun in the oven, so to speak". He's reappeared a few times since to make a PSA, such as when Rex's cat died.

Anonymous 8:05 PM  

Yes, re The Anomaly. Super read.

Joe Dipinto 8:08 PM  

@GILL – it was May of 2019, almost 5 years ago(!). I saved the whole thing, I'll email it to you. I'm thinking about resuscitating it. 😎

Nancy 8:09 PM  

@GILL (6:36)-- No idea. Joe's the one with the memory (he remembers Billboard #1 hits by the year, for heaven's sake!) So he'll probably know.

I'm pretty sure it was before the pandemic, prior to Feb 2020. I'd guess about 4 years ago -- but it's just a guess. And no more than 5 years, I would think.

Joe Dipinto 8:14 PM  

I mean 4 years ago

GILL I. 8:15 PM  

@Joe D...YES...and thank you. We should resuscitate it...There are some bodacious "new" people on the @Rex blog who can add their creme de la creme. Maybe even start a "Kealoa" thread?
Since @Rex started the trend, do you think he'd mind?

GILL I. 8:16 PM  

@jae. Of course!!!! and and and...remember @Casco kid?

Lewis 9:02 PM  

@gill -- Can't think of anyone who hasn't been mentioned. But ah, the memories, no?

Anonymous 9:39 PM  

'Mericans in Paris

Beezer 10:29 PM  

Omg. Probably too late for anyone to see but I remember most of these folks from when I read (but didn’t comment). Seems like I remember a Leapfrog? Or something like that? Maybe (I think SHE) was mentioned, but not sure…

JC66 11:01 PM  


FYI, @GILL mentioned @Leapfinger in her original post.

Peter P 11:32 PM  

NAP is another three letter word for “day” [Hungarian] for those who like to keep track of such things.

kitshef 10:09 AM  

Bob Kerfuffle still solves the Runt puzzle every day, so he's around just not blogging much.

I don't think I can recall an easier start to the week. Today's puzzle would have been an average Monday.

spacecraft 10:57 AM  

When, oh when, are we going to quit with these extra letters? Take your RATEDG and your TSLOT...wait a sec. Is there really such a thing? Go on, show me an actual TSLOT out here in the real world. Yeah, didn't think so...and shove 'em up your--your TSLOT, DAGNABBIT!

Easy enough to AMBLE through--though I never heard of BRAGG except as a military fort until today. Weak theme: necessitating ugly shaded areas, plus DAG and TAG are really the same Germanic word just pronounced a bit differently. Learned DEN. Yay. But DIAMOND WEDDING?? That's a very awkward stretch. Fail.

And the fill: see above rant. Fail. Double fail = double bogey. LETSCALLITADAY.

Wordle par.

Diana, LIW 12:22 PM  

Good day all SyndieCats.

Yes, this puzzle had some stretches in it. Not the best ever, but ok.

Moving on from Tuesday. And no, @Spacey, they will never quit those extra letters. I do some anthologies of old, old puzzles, and there they are. Add an A. Stir. Rinse. Repeat as needed.

Diana, LIW

Anonymous 1:51 PM  

Difficult, for a Tuesday. But a fair puzzle.

Burma Shave 2:03 PM  


I’m NOTONE to EVER ACT that way.


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