Banned book of 1955 / THU 5-25-23 / Jojo Rabbit setting Abbr / Dogs that can run up to 35 miles an hour / Pronoun heard in Hamlet and Richard III appropriately / Exercise that incorporates ballet, yoga and Pilates / Well-manored sort / Green Balch American humanitarian who won 1946 Nobel Peace Prize

Thursday, May 25, 2023

Constructor: Andrew Kingsley and Garrett Chalfin

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: SPLIT PEAS (35D: Certain soup ingredients ... or a homophonic hint to the answers to the starred clues) — words with double "P"s are "split" across black squares, right between the "P"s:

Theme answers:
  • WHIP/PETS (17A: *Dogs that can run up to 35 miles an hour)
  • POWER SUP/PLY (28A: *Electrical current converter)
  • PHILIP/PINES (45A: *Country composed of over 7,000 islands)
  • FLIP/PANT (61A: *Lacking seriousness, as an attitude)
  • REAP/PEAR (11D: *Show up again)
Word of the Day: Bracketologist (6D: Bracketologists' picks, often => ONE SEEDS) —
  1. an expert at making predictions about the participants in and outcomes of the games in a sports tournament, especially the NCAA college basketball tournament. 
    "UCLA didn't even belong in the tournament based on bracketologists' projections"( Languages)
• • •

"This better be good" / "Not good enough"—these were the phrases I either uttered or thought to myself just just before, and after, I got the revealer phrase. "All we're doing is splitting words? Why? I need a rationale." Well, I got one, and it was a letdown. I mean, cute pun, I suppose, but I like my Thursdays with a lot more bite than this. I don't think the journey is worth the joke. Not on a Thursday, anyway. If you're someone who routinely hates Thursdays because they get too tricksy, then this one was probably Right up your alley. You do get a gimmick that involves entering the answers in unusual ways, but it's nothing you can't navigate with a little patience. The only answer I can see tripping anyone up is EMILY—Saturday-level clue on that one, for sure (3D: ___ Greene Balch, American humanitarian who won the 1946 Nobel Peace Prize). But otherwise, this was pretty much a cakewalk. I think my issue isn't so much with the puzzle's theme, which does what it says it does, and does it competently enough, as with the puzzle's appearing on Thursday. The gimmick is perhaps *too* tricksy for a Wednesday puzzle, but that's where I might've enjoyed seeing it—on a day when I'm not expecting much and I get a little theme elevation, a little zing. But the final "joke" is just too corny, and the basic gimmick not interesting enough, to occupy the Thursday slot. And they even starred the damn theme clues for you—why? Figuring that kind of stuff out on your own is half the fun on Thursdays. This theme was remedial for a Thursday—which is great for a certain section of the solving population, I'm sure. Just not for me.

It is true that the splits don't just split, they also split into what look like two distinct, stand-alone answers (e.g., POWERS UP on the one hand, PLY on the other). That is a nifty little architectural bit. Doesn't really have anything to do with solving enjoyment, but it's a nice touch. I just don't see it throwing people off the scent much, if at all. I mean, if the first themer you encounter is 17A: *Dogs that can run up to 35 miles an hour and you get WHIP, then, unless you are entirely dog-ignorant, you know that the PETS has gone missing. And even if you're entirely dog-ignorant, you can't possibly think that WHIP is the right answer for that clue, and anyway they've *told* you to look out for trickiness by flagging this clue with an * in the first place, so ... there's no real room to struggle, actually. You're being spoon-fed so much. I finished the NW easily and immediately thought "OK, where's the PETS?" I honestly thought the revealer was going to be NO PETS, and I was like "damn ... and they managed to use an *actual pet* as a themer ... how are they going to keep *that* up? How many pets have PETS in their name!?!?" But the PETS was just on the other side of the black square, ho hum.

Between getting the theme and *getting* the theme (i.e. between WHIP/PETS and SPLIT PEAS), things got ... grim, in a couple of ways. First, I got police brutality with the "bad" COP clue, which maybe I wouldn't have read so brutally if it hadn't crossed COMA. Then I get the grimness of World War II not once but twice—the real grimness there isn't so much the grimness of war as the grimness of repetition. I mean, you clued AT WAR *via* World War II (1D: Like much of Europe beginning in 1939) ... and then put WWII in the grid? (26D: "Jojo Rabbit" setting: Abbr.). So you dupe "war" (it's in AT WAR and it's what the second "W" in WWII stands for), and then you emphasize the duplication by making the clue on AT WAR explicitly about that same war. Editors are supposed to do better. I hesitated to write in WWII, even though I knew it was probably right, because I couldn't believe they would dupe both the word and the war itself. So, grim in subject matter, grim in technical execution. And in case that wasn't grim enough for you, we got ASSAD waiting for you at the bottom of the grid. From war to war to war criminal, great. 

Didn't like the clue on "I INSIST" since ["No, really"] is more the thing you (maybe) say before you say "I INSIST," not a great equivalent *of* "I INSIST." ["No, really!"] looks is more a reaction to someone's disbelief, a rough equivalent of "IT'S TRUE!" or "I SWEAR!" But I'm just quibbling here, and anyway I kinda like an answer that starts with double-"I"s. Unusual. Thought ONE SEEDS (6D: Bracketologists' picks, often) were TOP SEEDS, which is basically the same thing, but the clue was weird to me because "picks" here seems to refer to picking the *outcomes* of the games, whereas I thought "bracketologists" made predictions about the brackets themselves, i.e. predictions about what the brackets will look like, and which teams will *be* ONE SEEDS. The "often" in this clue, though, suggests that the "bracketologists" in this case are, like any other schmo in a NCAA basketball tournament office pool, just picking ONE SEEDS to win the tourney. This is why I made "bracketologist" the Word of the Day. Looks like the word can be taken either way—referring to one who predicts both the "participants in and outcomes of" tournament games. Good to know. That's all. See you tomorrow.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld 

P.S. I didn't even mention that this grid has a creepy asymmetry, which I do not care for. "Creepy" because it's not pronounced and purposeful—you can just tell that something is ... off. I first noticed when I saw there was no rotationally symmetrical partner for DISC (38A). The asymmetry here would make sense if it only involved the black square in REAP/PEAR, which (if you include the black square) is symmetrical with SPLITPEAS, but it goes beyond that. Those central black square formations just aren't ... right. DISC is in the center row, but offset, i.e. not dead center. Makes me a little queasy if I look at it too long. Boldly breaking symmetrical for thematic / artistic purposes, I can get behind that. But this slight alteration to symmetry ... it's Uncanny Valley territory for me. Do not like. I'd rather have a symmetrical grid where the split "P"s appeared in asymmetrical places, for sure.

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Anonymous 6:53 AM  

And you didn't even mention rap crossing t rap

Wanderlust 6:56 AM  

I agree with Rex that this was a bit tame for a Thursday. I am one of those who loves a wild ride on a Thursday, and this felt like a TEST RIDE around the block outside the bike shop. I don’t think it would have been too challenging for a Wednesday.

Speaking of TEST RIDE, that was a Natick for me. I was thinking bESTRIDE as either a way to sit on a bike or maybe a bike brand, and of course (letter)-RAP could have been anything. That was my final letter, and when I didn’t get happy music, I knew that was the error. I ran the alphabet until I got to T.

I noticed the lack of symmetry Rex noted with SPLITPEA vs. REAP PEAR, and I actually thought that was kind of a cool way to break the rule. But I didn’t see the other irregularity until he pointed it out. Very odd.

I don’t really care about the rule against repeating small words, so the AT WAR / WWII dupe didn’t bother me, nor did the thought of war. But I just spent the first part of the week with a Syrian refugee journalist, and she told us even more than I previously knew about the horrors of the optometrist-turned-mass murderer, so ASSAD did give me an unpleasant jolt. DAMASK has an odd link to the despot because the name of the fabric comes from Damascus.

I loved “tap one’s phone, perhaps” for PAY. My adoration of clever clues grows even stronger when they are for utterly ordinary answers. Now that I am tapping my phone more to pay, I am starting to get the hang of it. I’m always tapping in the wrong place, or it just doesn’t work for some reason, and the EMPLOYEE (aren’t we calling them “associates” now?) has to show me what I’m doing wrong.

Along with phone tapping, STEAMing OPEN letters is another Spy-vs-Spy technique. I have never done it and wonder if it really works, and I kind of lament the fact that I don’t have an interesting enough life to ever give me cause to steam open someone’s letter. If you’ve done it, I’d love to hear the story.

SouthsideJohnny 7:11 AM  

I’m someone who routinely hates Thursdays because they get too tricky, so this one was right up my alley. I got a gimmick that involves entering the answers in unusual ways, but it's nothing that I couldn’t navigate with a little patience. I got tripped up by EMILY, and the clue for CHIHUAHUA got me as well, but that one makes perfect sense in retrospect.

Rex is back to his droning on about about WW II references and despots appearing in the NYT’s puzzles; I find it interesting that his silence was deafening yesterday when there was a tribute puzzle involving a rap artist who’s shtick includes vile, vulgar expressions of violence, racism and misogyny - which all seem to be deemed acceptable to dear old OFL.

Anonymous 7:24 AM  

Yeah, that’s why I came here, to hear the rant. And both clued referencing the form of music! I’m not too hard to please, xword-wise, but that seemed inexcusable to me.

Anonymous 7:27 AM  

Yeah, a fine theme but probably misplaced on a Thursday. In addition to the WWII dupe, I raised an eyebrow at the TRAP/RAP cross.

Conrad 7:29 AM  

Like @Southside, this was right up my alley, as @Rex predicted and for the same reason.

And like @Wanderlust, I Naticked at -ESTRIDE crossing -RAP at square 33. Not familiar with hip-hop subgenres, I figure a bike shop might offer the bEST RIDE possible, or a shop in the East might provide a wEST RIDE. Or something like that. Got the T on my third try.

pabloinnh 7:39 AM  

I have done enough of these to know that a dash after a number means an answer is continued from a previous clue and I got to SPLITPEAS early enough to see that P's were involved, and that just made everything too easy for a Thursday.

Brief snag at SKI for RAP ("freestyle" misdirect) and didn't know EMILY as clued but no other real problems.

I found the grid design to be especially choppy, but there was so much black space that I know that it's time to change an ink cartridge.

And BITMAP made an appearance not too long ago so I remembered the word, even if I am unsure of what it is.

OK Thursdecito, AK and GC. Added Kind of a Gentle Challenge to my morning, for which thanks.

Lewis 7:40 AM  

When I uncovered WHIP-PETS, I wowed, thinking that the theme answers were going to be words whose second half could be a description of the entire word. It reminded me of a theme I once tried to make, with answers that had a word embedded that described the entire answer, such as “road” in BROADWAY. But I just couldn’t find enough good ones, and I’m guessing there aren’t of the WHIP-PET variety.

It’s interesting how the asymmetrical grid actually looks symmetrical, because of the pairs of major elements – the black-square lightning bolts and the rightside-up and upside-down T’s – dominating the design. But even those lightning bolts aren’t symmetrical. Anyway, it’s a cool effect. And it’s quite unusual to have an asymmetrical grid at all in the Times.

I liked uncovering the pair of double double-letter words, ASSESS and WWII. And I liked turning BARRE’s corner to find an L, making “barrel”, then seeing YUKS nearby, which triggered “barrel of laughs”.

Andrew, good to see you again after your last appearance three years ago, and Garret, congratulations on your third puzzle in a year, starting from your debut when you were a high school senior. This puzzle, you two, was sweet and elegant, a lovely outing for me. Thank you!

Eater of Sole 7:40 AM  

I steamed open an envelope as a kid once. My parents showed me how. I'd written a letter to Santa, or maybe a grandparent, and forgot to put it in the envelope before sealing it up, or something like that. Not quite sure. Anyway, it works in the sense that the envelope will open and can maybe be resealed, though not as firmly. But the steam makes the envelope wrinkle (think of paper that's been wetted and dried) so it's not undetectable. That's my experience; expert steamers may have better results.

Anonymous 7:47 AM  

I came out of the NW with only SEP and I was expecting a tough Thursday. I finished in medium-hard Wednesday time. The first bit of theme I got was REAP and I noticed the missing PEAR so I thought the theme would be fruit-based until I got the revealer.

RAP/TRAP is a perfectly fine crossing, not a dupe. TRAP is just a word, not T-RAP.

Loren Muse Smith 7:47 AM  

Ok, so at first I wrote in PETS in the black square (I have it so that the black squares are light grey to save ink), but I hadn’t noticed the second clue’s little hyphen. Ah. Cool. It’s great that splitting the P’s up in the word or phrase results in two viable words.

Rex – I couldn’t agree more with your not liking the clue asterisk help. I also love your idea of a NO PETS theme. CAR WEEPER. . . Wait, hold on. . . Nah – that’s all I got.

@Lewis – most excellent thought on the theme being the last word describing the whole word. I once played around with phrases that begin and end with synonyms. AS STUBBORN AS A MULE. But it went nowhere fast. Oh, and @Lewis – you missed the double I in I INSIST. WWII, I INSISITED, ACTUALLY BEGAN IN 1939. Four I’s in a row!

I wonder if there could be a sister puzzle for this theme, where the P’s have SPLIT the scene? The Last Suer, landing a roach… nah.

“Dogs that can run up to 35 miles an hour” – any dog who has gotten off leash and is heading gleefully to the mud puddle. RIP, Ethel. (There’s a meme that says the fastest land mammal is a toddler who’s been asked what’s in their mouth. True dat.)

Loved the clue for AIRFARE. Hoo boy, but there are so many other charges from airlines in addition to the AIRFARE. You gotta pay for luggage, pay to pick a seat, pay for the snack. . . You know what I would pay for? The privilege of deplaning first. We land, hook up to the moving hall/port thingy, and the flight attendant gets on the pa system: Everyone remain seated until Loren Smith has left the plane. Only then can you stand up and take the 5 minutes to wrest your ridiculously big carry-ons from the overhead bin and fumble around with whatever else you’re going to do to keep the ones behind you waiting. Thank you for your cooperation.

“Biter” before STATE. Just kidding. But still. Chihuahuas scare the crap out of me. I think maybe I’ve met one nice chihuahua in my whole life, and that little guy may have been sedated, I can’t remember.

I thought the oxymoronic NOW THEN was awfully good.

“Banned book of 1955” – LOLITA. Banned poem of 2023 for some Florida children: Amanda Gorman’s “The Hill We Climb.” Here’s an excerpt:

To compose a country committed to all cultures, colors, characters and conditions of man.
And so we lift our gaze, not to what stands between us, but what stands before us.
We close the divide because we know to put our future first, we must first put our differences aside.
We lay down our arms so we can reach out our arms to one another.

What a relief those kids won’t be subjected to such “indirect hate messages.” a country committed to all cultures, colors, characters and conditions of man. Pretty ugly, right, parents?

kitshef 7:54 AM  

Very, very easy Thursday, even with a couple of WoEs (ESSA, EMILY).

Hardest square for me, though, was _RAP crossing _ESTRIDE. My brain insisted on seeing 33A as xx STRIDE, and I thought it must be a brand of bike, as in "come in and test ride the new XE STRIDE!"). It was only when I realized that 33D could not be a subgenre of rap like x-rap or q-rap, because it crossed 'rap', that TRAP music came to mind.

Did not know what differentiates a WHIPPET from a greyhound, so started Googling. (The Internet is full of reasons NOT to own whippets, it seems.) Anyway, they are really similar. Greyhounds are bigger, which doesn’t help if it’s only part-grown or you are going off a picture with no sense of scale. A site on "eight key differences" between the two included this one: “The Whippet and the Greyhound have a striking resemblance in their coats. Both have fine coats, but the Whippet’s hair is shorter and finer on closer inspection when compared to the coat of a Greyhound.”

Bob Mills 8:00 AM  

Finished it with a lucky guess at the TRAP/RAP crossing. I still don't understand either answer. Also, why is PAY the answer to "tap one's phone"????

Good theme, I thought. I was able to catch on to it because of PHILIPPINES. Compared to most Thursday puzzles, this one was very doable.

Anonymous 8:04 AM  

Honest question….does Rex really expect every single puzzle to be a groundbreaking masterpiece? Every day I come here and it’s the same thing…. “Meh, this theme is boring.” “Seen it, next”. Like, you can’t reinvent the wheel every single day. This theme is fine. It’s a crossword puzzle, it’s meant to be enjoyed. Split peas…..sure that works. Why not? It’s really disingenuous to bash the NYT every single day saying the themes are good enough.

Anonymous 8:07 AM  

“Every day I come here…”

burtonkd 8:12 AM  

@LMS - Welcome back! While you were out, it was a prescriptivist's field day yesterday. Alls I'm sayin is you should have been here to weigh in, never too late...

I wish banning the Amanda Gorman book was even on the top 10 list of dumbest things Florida Reps have been up to...

Whatsername 8:21 AM  

Certainly on the easy side but I thought this was well done and quite enjoyable. Yes, woulda been more of a challenge had the clues not been starred because well, the hyphens indicating the obvious blank clue immediately following made the asterisks a tad redundant. Still, the trick was somehow nicely aPPealing and THEN the cute SPLIT PEAS reveal was icing on the cake.

I’ve never known any WHIPPETS but they look like really cool animals. In dog shows, they always appear to be mildly uncomfortable, like they’re a bit embarrassed by their humans for subjecting them to such foolishness. Can’t say I blame them.

Mr. Grumpypants 8:32 AM  

I want the police to arrest the perp who stole my Thursday puzzle. This was a silly piece of junk.

GAC 8:39 AM  

This puzzle was fun. For me it was Medium, but the stuff I didn't know could be filled in with the crosses. A delightful solving experience. It seems to me that Rex's nitpicking of almost every puzzle stems mostly from his desire to have a long blog every day. That's sometimes annoying, but in the end I just accept it since it's his blog, and I do read it every day. So, keep it up Rex.

Anonymous 8:49 AM  

Hear, hear on the Florida book banning, ultra Conservative over reaction observations!! Scary stuff!! Jim McDougall Canada

Whatsername 9:01 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Nancy 9:03 AM  

By putting the most obvious answer with the most obvious clue -- WHIP/PETS -- in the first themer position, the constructors made this puzzle even easier than it might have been otherwise. And, of course, when the word that follows the theme word in the grid is unclued, the trick becomes even more obvious. Add to that the fact that all of us have seen this particular trick done many times before and you have a Thursday that's not especially challenging.

Nevertheless, the puzzle is fun to do and the revealer is absolutely perfect.

The SPLIT Ps were noticed by me, if at all, at a subconscious level, but not at any level where I could see the revealer coming. I was hung up on the fact that WHIPPETS are PETS and therefore was looking for that kind of relationship in the two halves of each theme answer.

And, as you already know about me by now, when I get an idee fixe embedded in my brain, it doesn't leave quietly.

So I was pleased as could be to see the actual revealer. And I'm also impressed with the fact that each half of each theme answer was an actual word. A nice puzzle, nicely done.

Gary Jugert 9:13 AM  

A delightful (if COMA producing) romp keeping me on the edge of catastrophe, but the guardrail was solid and there was no real danger of this being Thursday-worthy. I'm not sure what's worse: A proper Thursday so tricksy we complain, or this, with barely a gimmick at all. Stumbled on the PP trickery early and helped me solve the puzzle.

Constructors, I doubt anyone would complain if you took the butcher of Syria out of your word list. You do know the software allows you to delete gawd-awful words and it still works.

BARRE: Pretty tough but I think it's been in a puzzle before maybe. Same with DAMASK.

Had SAFE for TAME and so the northwest was the biggest mess for me.

AOL is a Gmail alternative where? 1993?

STEAM OPEN is a sweet answer. I've never tried it. I can't imagine a scenario where I would care about mail addressed to someone else.

RAP crossing TRAP is funny in a cringe-y way.

Philippines has 7000 islands?! Can you imagine giving directions to your house before GPS?


Tee-Hees: LOLITA and ASSESS. A bit underwhelming today. Maybe the slush pile editor had field day at the elementary school and a grown up picked today's snoozefest?


1 Required purchase for Instagram influencer.
2 Result of the Downton Abbey staff walkout.
3 Every state board of education president command to every teacher.


Anonymous 9:14 AM  

Ok I guess I’m the dumb one to ask.. why is Lance Bass APT?

Anonymous 9:16 AM  

Oh I can help. Here in the future where we live, we can pay for things with our phones by TAPping them on a sensor or by TAPping the “send money” button in an app.

Nancy 9:19 AM  

Aha! I see that Lewis had the same initial WHIP/PETS reaction as I did. Great minds and all that, right?

Liveprof 9:29 AM  

According to yesterday's NYT, Gorman's poem was banned due to the complaint of one parent, named Daily Salinas. She wrongly identified the poem as written by Oprah Winfrey and claimed the poem's function is to “cause confusion and indoctrinate students.” Anyone with a working brain can see the complaint is absurd, but the district capitulated.

RooMonster 9:30 AM  

Hey All !
NOW THEN, unsure how I feel about today's puz. I do like the Theme, especially how the constructors not only found words with double P's in them, but that can be split at said P's resulting in two actual words. Tres cool. Amazingly enough, I agree with Rex (😁) on not needing the * to indicate the clue is tricksy. We get the - symbol after the clue before it, which anyone who has done the puz for a while, knows that means the answer continues through the Blocker. As much as I say I need my hand held, that was a tad too much.

I see the need for the Asymmetry, but it seems as though it was trying to be passed off as symmetrical, with the same funky design. I do like that there's a Themer symmetric to the Revealer, so another good reason for an added Blocker there.

Constructors came up with 3 eight letter split P words, which may have been good enough, but then added one splitter with 8-3 letters, and one with 6-5 letters, hence the Asymmetry, as they are in corresponding spots in the grid. Wondering if they tried left/right symmetry and couldn't get it to work.

Anyway, I'm leaning more to the "like" side.

Really wanted T-RAP to be C-RAP. 😁

Also surprised that Rex didn't blow a fuse with the RAP-TRAP cross. Jeez, at least clue TRAP as an actual word, even "___ door" would've sufficed.

I think I IRONED out my feeling. I think.

One F

Liveprof 9:35 AM  

Part 2.

Gorman's response to the banning was:

"I'm gutted."

"I wrote The Hill We Climb so that all young people could see themselves in a historical moment. Ever since, I've received countless letters and videos from children inspired to write their own poems. Robbing children of the chance to find their voices in literature is a violation of their right to free thought and free speech."

mathgent 9:50 AM  

REAPPEARS breaking into the phrase REAP PEARS. Very nice. And the two are pronounced differently.

Rex was on full babble today.

Anonymous 9:56 AM  

I’m so surprised nobody has mentioned that all the themers are across except one. I thought that was really odd. And in my app all the themers highlighted in yellow when on the split peas answer, except reappear.

Anonymous 9:56 AM  

Zoot is the sax player in Dr Teeth. Ernie is a sesame street character

Anonymous 10:01 AM  

The poem was moved from the elementary school library to the middle school library. Journalists have kinda mangled that one.

kitshef 10:02 AM  

7000 islands for the Philippines is nothing. Sweden has an estimated 267,000+ islands.

Anonymous 10:04 AM  

Yeah this one had some pretty large stretches for clues. And the split approach I totally didn’t understand. And didn’t find any help on the in innerweb. Rex explanation I didn’t find until after finishing the puzzle.

Joe Dipinto 10:13 AM  

@Anon 9:14 - because his last name is Bass, and he sang the low-register part. Except that his last name is pronounced like the fish, not like "base". So it isn't particularly apt at all.

Anonymous 10:14 AM  

Bass singing bass? That sounds apt

Nancy 10:16 AM  

I felt a sadness in seeing AT WAR as the answer "Like much of Europe beginning in 1939." They were people just like us -- teetering on the brink of an experience so dreadful that few would have been able to imagine it in advance.

I found myself wondering what the answer to a similarly-phrased clue would be: "Like the entire world in the fall of 2020"?


We may see WWII as "history", but it was real life to the people of that era -- many still alive today. The bland answer AT WAR just seemed a little bit, well, distant and uncaring.

andrew 10:22 AM  

Oh for the love of Ned Flanders…the puzzle LAYOUT made Rex queasy?

Could see that on the swastika puzzle maybe (though I think the consensus here was there WAS no swastika.)

Even Snopes saw the swastika

bocamp 10:31 AM  

Thx, Andrew & Garrett; AWESome! 😊

Med+ (Fri plus time)

Great workout; loved it! :)
Peace πŸ•Š πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡¦ ~ Compassion ~ Tolerance ~ Kindness & Freudenfreude to all πŸ™

egsforbreakfast 10:33 AM  

Eight days ago we had a puzzle by Parker Higgins with DOESTHESPLITS as the revealer. Given the positive reaction to that one, I guess WS figured he’d give P’s a chance.

Didn’t I read something recently about Chevron paying a large fine for promising that their product was perfect when, in fact, it wasn’t? Seems as if they broke the IDEAL Gas Law.

I think that marathoners POWERSUP by carbo loading the night before the race.

Implying the ROYALWE, Charles curried favor at the pub by announcing “IINSIST, this one’s ONUS.”

The theme was too easy to justify asymmetry, even without the asterisks.

x 10:42 AM  

An ace is an ass so your sass is a gas, but your task is to bask in the past, so either eat meat, fast, or meet me either for meat or a pass at a fast.

Joseph Michael 10:43 AM  

Did YETI really have to be clued as a brand name?

Got the SPLIT P’s trick right away and enjoyed some of the clues, such as the one for AIR FARES, but this puzzle and I did not make very good friends.

Favorite moment was figuring out that Shakespearean pronoun. Was totally stumped because I had guessed incorrectly that Greene Batch was an Emile. Also liked PHILIP PINES and the image of a love-smitten teenager that it evokes.

Anonymous 10:44 AM  

Waka Flocka is in no way comparable to Assad whatsoever, so his deafening silence on his inclusion....makes sense?

Newboy 10:46 AM  

NOW THEN easy enough to RAP today’s SPLIT decision, but going for that ROYAL WE does seem a bit arrogant. Happy to get the gag on any Thursday before Rex has to explain it to me. And then I can enjoy the wit and wisdom of y’all (apologies to offended).

Canon Chasuble 10:47 AM  

Oh Letitia, Laetitia, Letitia,

I will never forget our trip together from Victoria Station on the Brighton Line.

Anonymous 10:49 AM  

Outside of the messy RAP/TRAP cross with similar cluing, you have

The Chihuahua clue maybe should have been ESTADO or PERRO

BMP would be the JPEG alternative for a bitmap; the proper clue would have said Joint Photographic Experts Group

And how the heck is ZOOT not the answer for a sax-playing muppet?!?!?

beverly c 10:49 AM  

@LMS - I would love to see a split peas theme with the PP missing! Great idea.

Once I saw the themer the puzzle was a fill in, except for that T-RAP, which took an extra moment. No idea what it is.

I got a kick out of test-riding at the bike shop when I bought a bike a few years ago. It's an indoor oval track on the upper floor of an old building, among the racks of bikes. There are speedbumps.

The widespread embrace and cooperation with totalitarianism… I never thought it could happen here.

Carola 11:00 AM  

Easy, except for one square, in the trouble spot others have also mentioned: T?AP x ?AP. I'd assumed that the hip-hop subgenre was T-RAP, making a cross with RAP impossible....except what else could it be? With the puzzle already being wonky, lay-out-wise, I thought maybe other rules had also gone out the window. Only later did it occur to me that T-RAP was actually TRAP and thus a perfectly legit cross. Having solved the puzzle clockwise from the NW, I got to the reveal quadrant last...and realized I'd managed to get all of the SPLIT words without having noticed the Ps, a rewarding moment of "Oh, nifty!"

@Andrew 10:22, re: the layout making @Rex feel "queasy." Usually, I pay no attention to symmetry, but there was something about look of this grid that intrigued me and I tried to sort it out. It was easy to see that SPLITPEAS didn't exactly match REAP PEARS, but were things symmetrical otherwise? In the DISC area, I started to feel like one of those old-time cartoon characters whose eyes spin like pinwheels and gave up.

Rich Glauber 11:00 AM  

'Bad cop' doesn't imply police brutality... simply the strategy for getting a perpetrator to open up to the more sympathetic 'good cop'. I thought the puzzle was a solid, if easy, Thursday effort. Enjoyed it.

jae 11:05 AM  

Easy. No real problems with this one. top SEEDS (me too) before ONE and tae bo before BARRE (I have no idea what sorts of exercises either of these things involve) were it for erasures. Liked it. but @Rex is right about the lack of challenge.

Anonymous 11:11 AM  

Are you really surprised that actual hateful and violent actions are more upsetting to Rex than a person singing songs?

Anonymous 11:12 AM  

I thought whippets were used to make seltzer so I can enjoy a chocolate egg cream?

Anonymous 11:12 AM  

@Johnny 7:11 @Anon 7:24

Anonymous 11:24 AM  

I still don’t get chihuahua being STATE. Help?

dyr straits 11:24 AM  

@LMS - Re: poem, kudos & amen sister.

Masked and Anonymous 11:36 AM  

Cool asymmetric(al) puzgrid. Scruffy & different. Like.
U can kinda justify pseudo-blankin out the extra black square in the REAP*PEAR themer, paired with the theme revealer. If U also pseudo-blank out all the other split-peas' black squares, U almost get puzgrid symmetry … but not quite.

The "-" clues were a bit of a giveaway. The added "*"-ed clues were a bit too much of a giveaway. Themer clues were definitely over-punctuated, for a ThursPuz.

staff weeject pick: RAP. Crossin TRAP. btw: TRAP music genre got its name from "trap houses", which were druggie places.


Thanx for gangin up on us, Kingsley & Chalfin dudes. And congratz to Kingsley dude for his 2nd asymmetric(al) puzgrid. Way to defy the rules. The runtpuzs are proud of U.

Masked & Anonymo3Us


Aelurus 11:48 AM  

What would you call this interesting grid? I’ve read in this blog about mirror symmetry and diagonal symmetry but it doesn’t seem to be either. Nor rotational. Oh, okay, thanks, Rex; I see you noticed the oddness too, of course, and commented. As did many others.

Didn’t take long to suss out the theme at whippets, WHIP PETS, and after getting the revealer, it was awfully helpful to keep clicking on it to quickly pinpoint almost all of the highlighted themers (REAP PEAR not getting the yellow highlight in my Times Crossword iPad app) and drop in those P’s. Which made for a quick solve.

SPLIT PEAS reminded me about the bag of them in the souP Part of the pantry closet. Thanks, for that, Andrew and Garrett, and for the METS, DAMASK, and the clues for ROYAL WE and EAU.

@Joseph Michael – And I see what you did yesterday (10:51). Oreo English Dictionary. OED. Clever. I always notice the new clues for the ubiquitous OREO and now know where to store them. Notice those for “eels” too, which I guess will be in its supplement, the Oxford Eel Dictionary.

jb129 12:16 PM  

Got the gimmick but I couldn't get into this no matter how I tried.

Tomorrow's Friday - maybe we'll see a Robyn Weintraub puzzle??? (probably not).

jb129 12:20 PM  

And Whippets only reminded me of that awful loss of a dog in the Westminster Dog Show a few years back :(

Anonymous 12:23 PM  

Although Rex complains about a war theme—we can’t overlook the Nobel Peace Prize winner EMILY Greene Balch and International Peace Day in the month of SEP. These things matter too.

johnk 12:51 PM  

Another day, another TRAP. There are so many decent clues available for the word and they give us this? PP on them!

Featherweight 1:06 PM  

Easiest Thursday ever!

Anonymous 1:30 PM  

Essa is more commonly used as it in Italian, with lei being the word for she. As the clue specified she in Sicily, the word in the language of that most magnificent island is idda.

Anonymous 1:39 PM  

I thought freestyle might refer to swimming so put in LAP and squirmed filling in BESTRIDE and who knows, maybe BLAP is a rap style

Weezie 1:41 PM  

@Anon @11:24, Chihuahua is a Mexican state, making up a third of the Southern border of New Mexico.

Anonymous 1:44 PM  

Really hated the Europe in 1939, JoJo Rabbit and then Assad. Did not put me in a good mood to start the day!

Anoa Bob 1:54 PM  

I think many of the conventional restrictions or rules on crossword construction elevate the craft, taking it to a higher, more refined level. Kind of like the restrictions on haiku poem construction elevate it to more than just any old three-line doggerel.

Foremost among these conventions is having a symmetrical black square lay out. Do away with that and we have gone from chess to checkers, if yous ask me. That plus having 43 black squares vs the Thursday average of 36.9 (per gave this one a ominous felling before I even looked at the first clue.

I agree that the gimmick was given away way too early and gave the overall solve more of an earlier week feel. There were enough nice touches here and there, however, to make it an overall enjoyable solve for me.

I was perplexed, dang near discombobulated even, trying to figure out what pronoun started with ROY (23A), Aha, oho, it's We with a ROYAL twist.

Nice to see the PHILIP PINES in the grid. I visited there many times and got to live there for half a year in the 80s. It's a scuba divers dream. A typical outing would be three or four divers in a bangka boat doing two dives in the morning and then beaching on one of the 7,000 islands for lunch and a siesta and then doing another dive in the afternoon. I've dived in other places and, believe me, it doesn't get any better than in the PHILIPPINES.

Another plus for us monoglots is that English is one of the two official languages in the P. I. and is taught in public schools so everywhere you go there will be people who speak it. And San Miguel beer is a zythophile's delight.

Anonymous 1:58 PM  

This is the kind of commentary that I come here for. Not how you went about filling in the answers . , or how the theme holds up, or reminisces of your history or why a mistake was made or lack of knowledge, all of which can be good reading, but rather about the technology and philosophy of construction and about crossword theory . What a shame to put such in a postscript! The excellent bit on asymmetrical things was what can distinguish this blog.

jberg 2:18 PM  

Too easy by far, but I was totally surprised by the revealer, which made up for a lot.

I couldn't make up my mind in that bike shop. Maybe fatTires? Or a sofT RIDE, or, as suggested, the bEST RIDE? Finally I remembered that I'd read a post on Substack about TRAP music, and there I was.

I think it was a different puzzle, i.e. not the NYT, that recently clued BARRE as "it's near Montpelier."

Trina 2:31 PM  

Gorman’s poetry was not banned. The book was moved to the middle school section as the school committee felt it more age appropriate there. One might quibble over that but it is hardly the same think as being banned.

Enjoyed the puzzle.

andrew 2:41 PM  

The more I stared at the grid this morning, the more queasy, then nauseous, I got.

Finally went to the ER and told them a DISC was out of alignment. Sure the disc was still in the spine, but it’s offset. It isn’t centered properly! Caused me all sorts of pain. Something isn’t…right!

Awaiting my MRI results. Will stay the night for observation, just to be safe.

noni 3:08 PM  

This has got to be the easiest Thursday ever. Saw WHIP, looked for PET, read the revealer, filled in all the Ps and that was pretty much it.

JC66 3:18 PM  


If you ever get the chance, I recommend SCUBA diving at Cocos Island. Same ecosystem as The Galapagos; seven different kinds of sharks (see my avatar for one) and many, many other delights.

@jberg et al

When I go to a car dealer I take a test drive, so TEST RIDE went right in.

Joseph Michael 4:09 PM  

@Aelurus, yes, my library includes a copy of the Oxford Eel Dictionary as well. It's on a shelf between the Oreo English Dictionary and the Oboe English Dictionary. They're all first editions.

Liveprof 4:26 PM  

PEN America issued a statement Wednesday responding to the news regarding Gorman’s poem in Miami-Dade County School District. The organization addressed confusion over whether a restricted book qualifies as a banned book.

“The book may remain available to middle-school students, but when you restrict or diminish access to a book, that’s a ban,” the statement read. “Moving “The Hill We Climb” to middle-school shelves means elementary students can’t or won’t get it; their access has diminished. “

Trina 5:32 PM  

Liveprof, they don’t get to redefine “ban” based on their political agenda.

Heck, if a crossword clue for the word “ban” said “became age restricted from elementary to middle school” you would hear howling!

B$ 6:21 PM  

First thing I noticed was the weird non-symmetry of the grid. It didn't bother me, but it did jump out at me.
One of my easiest Thursdays ever, but I really enjoyed it. I had the ah-ha moment when I got the theme, and I found it added to the enjoyment of the puz.

As soon as I saw ASSAD I knew that rex would get triggered by it. And apparently the WW2 references didn't help either. But it begs the question, if one is going to be so easily triggered by certain people/events, why continue to do the puzzle? Maybe there's a site that only published puzzles that will not offend anyone?

bocamp 6:27 PM  

@andrew (2:41 PM) πŸ™
Peace πŸ•Š πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡¦ ~ Compassion ~ Tolerance ~ Kindness & Freudenfreude to all πŸ™

Anonymous 6:30 PM  

There is a context in which it is banned, and there are many other contexts in which it is not. Regardless, the decision and the rationale are either moronic or evil. Possibly both.

Anonymous 7:39 PM  

I haven’t watched Sesame Street in quite some time but from my recollection (aided by a quick Google search), Ernie tried to play the sax only once but was thwarted by his inability to put down the duckie. To take this one episode out of 50+ years and call him a sax player seems a bit disingenuous- unless I am mistaken or Ernie has taken up this hobby in recent years.

CDilly52 10:10 PM  

Qhite honestly, a bit of a letdown for Thursday crunchiness, nut not in fill. I really rather liked the clues and the fill. My favorite of the day was the clue for ROYAL WE. No idea why that one, but it gVe me a moment’s pause as I tried to figure out a 7 letter pronoun. What snapped me back to reality was that the reference was Hamlet and my brain said “unlikely” so I waited for a couple crosses, and aha! Very pleasant.

Lots of that type of clues, more clever than the somewhat “regular” answers they represent. And of course the SPLIT PEAS. Sure, easy breezy, but well done. This solved more lime a Wednesday, but the clues (to me) gave it some punch. No complaints. And I make a very tasty soup with SPLIT PEAS and ham. Yum!

SLG 10:31 PM  

I wondered whether the asymmetry was due to splitting up the word "split" among the black squares, as I can see among the black squares the letters "i" and "t" up top, upside down, and at the bottom, right-side up.

dgd 11:55 PM  

You might tell yourself that the book was “moved “ to help justify the book banning in your mind but it was BANNED from elementary school libraries. A ban is a ban is a ban. The right wing has decided on the party line language to justify book banning but the real goal is right out of “1984”, erasing history.

Anonymous 12:19 AM  

It was not moved; it was removed from elementary school libraries That is a ban. An attempt to erase history like 1984. Using the word move sounds like something from a spin doctor.

Anonymous 12:27 AM  

However you word it, the book was banned from elementary school libraries. I see you dropped the word move now.
Elementary students are now banned from getting the book in their school library. That is what happened. The twisting of words is not being done by the critics of this ban but by the banners and those who justify censorship.

Anonymous 12:46 PM  

But can Tony Soprano hit the high notes?

cowberrycomics 5:31 PM  

It's clued as hip hop subgenre so it is T-RAP.

cowberrycomics 5:36 PM  

Okay I'M WRONG, it is TRAP and not T-RAP, I googled it and was unaware of trap music being a genre. I sincerely apologize. But I still think the crossing is annoying.

Burma Shave 1:51 AM  


but A TESTRIDE is so RARE,
yet IINSIST it’s good to SEE


Anonymous 11:19 AM  

AVIA is a budget Wal-Mart running shoe brand. It is hardly a competitor with Nike. Only the NYT keeps cluing it this way. Are they getting a promotional fee?

spacecraft 11:28 AM  

Didn't look like it was going to be easy at first scan of the clue list. I got all the way down to ELIE before finding a gimme I could go with--so my first encounter with the theme was FLIP, which is perfectly able to stand on its own as clued. Never realized it was part of the theme, and just went on solving. Bumped into the theme a bit later, and then saw the star by the FLIP clue and it all cleared up. Nifty theme, I thought, with the separated word a real one. This impressed me considerably more than it did OFNP.

The grid is in fact symmetrical with the lone exception of one black square eliminated to make room for the revealer. Fine by me. On the other side is--and should be--the only down themer. I liked it; a trifle easy for a Thursday but cute. Birdie.

Wordle birdie featuring, for my first time, a throwaway guess to eliminate several _INER starts, such as DFLM. Guessed FLAME and eliminated all of those! YGBYB, BGBBB (!), GGGGG!

Diana, LIW 12:54 PM  

It is definitely Thursday, folks.

Took a while to get a toe hold, due to, know. And once again the bottom row of the puzzle was missing in the paper. Any other SyndieCats having this problem???

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

Anonymous 2:48 PM  

Missing the last row in my newspaper too. Where is the quality control at the NYT?

Waxy in Montreal 4:49 PM  

Hi @Diana, yes same problem in my paper (Montreal Gazette) for the 3rd day in a row. Have never experienced this before in 30+ years of solving - no idea what's happening.

Anonymous 4:38 PM  

Not to mention the fact that the reprint of the puzzle my local newspaper failed to include the bottom line of the grid so I had Assad, Yeti and Reel floating in thin air. Wish I could post a photo for you all.

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