Apt name for a sensei / WED 11-15-23 / Not a fan of postmillennials / Brief brouhaha

Wednesday, November 15, 2023

Constructor: Gary Larson

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: Add a ZEE (63D: Appropriate letter to end this puzzle on) — "Z"s are added to the ends of ordinary phrases, creating wacky phrases, which are clued wackily (i.e. "?"-style):

Theme answers:
  • STAYING PUTZ (16A: Obnoxious houseguest?)
  • ANTI-GEN Z (21A: Not a fan of postmillennials?)
  • BOW SPRITZ (35A: Bit of water splashed on a ship's front?)
  • SANTA FEZ (53A: Cap worn at a Shriners Christmas party?)
  • MOCKING JAY-Z (60A: Making fun of Beyoncé's beau?)
Word of the Day: ATLAS Mountains (51A: North Africa's ___ Mountains) —

The Atlas Mountains are a mountain range in the Maghreb in North Africa. It separates the Sahara Desert from the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean; the name "Atlantic" is derived from the mountain range. It stretches around 2,500 km (1,600 mi) through MoroccoAlgeria and Tunisia. The range's highest peak is Toubkal, which is in central Morocco, with an elevation of 4,167 metres (13,671 ft). The Atlas mountains are primarily inhabited by Berber populations.

The terms for 'mountain' are Adrar and adras in some Berber languages, and these terms are believed to be cognates of the toponym Atlas. The mountains are home to a number of animals and plants which are mostly found within Africa but some of which can be found in Europe. Many of these species are endangered and a few are already extinct. The weather is generally cool but has sunny summers, and the average temperature there is 25 °C. (wikipedia)

• • •

Extreme throwback puzzle! From the theme to the fill, this one is straight outta the 20th century, a solid representative of the very tried and very true add-a-letter theme. Add letter, stir, voila! Wackiness! In fact, don't even stir, just stick it there on the end, that's it, instant theme! This basic recipe was once the foundation of countless puzzles. And then, like the buffalo, such puzzles were hunted to near extinction. But just as you can still occasionally see buffalo, if you're driving across the country and look hard enough, so you (apparently) can still see the add-a-letter theme, lumbering across the occasional grid. Only one of these near-extinctions is truly tragic. Still, done right, you can, in fact, wring some pretty high-grade wackiness out of the simple add-a-letter thematic concept. Oldies *can* be goodies. This one, however, felt more oldie than goodie to me, not just because of the theme, but because of dated (or, if you're feeling more generous, "retro") fill—short stuff like ARP and Disco STU and OTOE and SOG, but also longer stuff like EDASNER, STEELIE, and RAINHAT. Remember playing with your STEELIE in your RAINHAT? Because your GRANNY let you play marbles during thunderstorms? Good times. Few things say "yesteryear" more than "types of marbles," and I don't know when's the last time I saw a human wearing a RAINHAT, but STEELIE and RAINHAT *are* words and they *do* fit in the grid, so you just gotta roll with it, I guess. 

The only question today is "Was It Wacky Enough For You?" For me, not really, though STAYING PUTZ and SANTA FEZ do rise to the occasion, I think. But having to say the "Z" out loud (as you do with two of these themers) kinda defeatz the purpose of wacky Z-addition, I think. And in general, the wackiness just doesn't have adequate zing. You would expect water to be "splashed on a ship's front," so despite the wacky sprit-to-spritz change, the wackiness of BOWSPRITZ doesn't really register. It's all just a bit too tepid. And that "revealer," yeesh. SHISH. Oof. The definition of "anticlimax." That's it? Just ... ZEE? I mean, I see you have it at the "end" there, so it's "appropriate," as you say, in its way, and yet it still hits with a loud thud.

Theme clue wording felt weird at times. "Postmillennials" feels dated / off. If you google "postmillennial" you'll learn all about the ... well, first, you'll see something about a rightwing Canadian website that spreads disinformation about all kinds of things, but *then* you'll see reference to the actual Christian end-times belief, "postmillennialism." 
In Christian eschatology (end-times theology), postmillennialism, or postmillenarianism, is an interpretation of chapter 20 of the Book of Revelation which sees Christ's second coming as occurring after(Latin post-) the "Millennium", a Golden Age in which Christian ethics prosper. The term subsumes several similar views of the end times, and it stands in contrast to premillennialism and, to a lesser extent, amillennialism (see Summary of Christian eschatological differences). (wikipedia)
I guess before pollsters sorted out what the hell to call the generation after "millennials," they called them "post-millennials," but that didn't last. And is Jay-Z Beyoncé's "beau"? He's her husband. "Beau" implies something non-marital to me—premarital, in fact. A suitor. But I know how hard it is to lay off the alliteration—"Beyoncé's beau" must've been tempting, however technically inapt. 

Hardest parts for me were the brand names, ZICAM and T/GEL. I forgot the former existed, and then the latter I always get confused with the kitchenware T-FAL or the *other* Neutrogena shampoo T/SAL. Also, I had the -EL and briefly thought "... PREL?" (Nope, two "L"s, for sure). I also forgot the ATLAS Mountains existed, which made getting into the SW corner slightly tougher than it might've been. Struggled to get RED because the clue made no sense to me at first (1A: Half of an orange?), which was the point, I suppose. RED is half of orange (the other half being yellow), but it's not half of "an" orange ... hence the question mark, question mark? My favorite mistake came at 6D: Handle that goes up and down? (OTIS). The clue meant "up and down" as in elevators (OTIS is the elevator guy), but I thought "up and down" meant "reading the same, up and down," i.e. palindromic, so I confidently wrote in OTTO. My least favorite mistake was writing in SKID for 27D: Lost traction (SLID) and wondering why it seemed both right and wrong simultaneously (right idea, wrong verb tense).

Hope the wackiness met your standards today, or at least entertained you sufficiently, such that you did not DOZE OFF. See you tomorrow, I hope.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld 

P.S. DAN is an [Apt name for a sensei] because DAN is the word for a level or rank in various martial arts.

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


jae 4:26 AM  

Easy. Pretty whooshy. copse before GROVE was it for erasures. Clever and amusing, liked it a bunch…id est, the wackiness was quite entertaining for me, plus I know where the ATLAS mountains are and that RED is half of orange…let’s just say I disagree with @Rex on this one.

Anonymous 4:40 AM  

I quite enjoyed it. At least it was different from the low-hanging stuff we've had recently.

Prefab 4:58 AM  

Am I the only person who's never heard of a BOWSPRIT? That whole BOWSPRITZ/ZICAM area of the puzzle was the last to fall for me, and I'll admit I was amazed when the victory music started up because both looked like wrong answers.

Anonymous 5:18 AM  

I have nothing but love and affection for Joan Armatrading. So while I don’t understand how “Down to Zero” fits in above, encountering it after today’s meh puzzle put a smile on my face. Thank you!

Bob Mills 5:50 AM  

Seemed easy at first, because I caught on to the Z theme with STAYINGPUTZ. But little problems arose...I had SOP instead of SOG, and I never heard of the British singer. That meant I had to guess on "Good name for a sensei." I guessed right, luckily, but I still don't understand it. I've also never seen ZICAM in any drugstore or supermarket. But success came without any cheating.

If RED is half of orange (because the other half is yellow), then the clue is misleading, because "an orange" refers to the fruit, not to the color. There is nothing red about an orange.

Adam 6:28 AM  

COPSE before GROVE as well. This theme could have worked much better if the change in pronunciation was consistent. BOWSPRITZ has nothing changing. SANTA FE changes to SANTA FEZ. STAYING PUT changes to STAYING PUTZ--both change the vowel sound. But then BOWSPRITZ lands with a thud. MOCKING JAY-Z and ANTI GEN Z both have the Z being pronounced and potentially change "MOCKINGJAYS" and "ANTIGENS"--but that change isn't consistent either. I liked the idea more than OFL did, but I thought the execution was weak.

Anonymous 6:37 AM  

This one defeated me because, being stubbornly British, I simply could not see past ZED at 63. I'd forgotten all about ZEE's existence. And yes I spent a long time puzzling over 69 across as a result.

Alex W 6:37 AM  

RITAORA (did not parse that as two names) crossing ATLAS was rough, and really wanted Zpack for ZICAM…

SouthsideJohnny 6:54 AM  

Rex summed it up pretty well today. Serviceable Wednesday with a couple of clues that tried too hard (RED for sure, and the BOW SPRITZ theme entry seemed a little forced, for example). I don’t think I have ever seen a live Coyote - let alone had a conversation with one. Do they really YIP - all the time, or just sometimes? I wonder if they ever get mad and YELP or something. I’m sure there is a YouTube video or a Natural Geographic episode to help address such compelling questions as these that arise with a fair degree of frequency once one dips one’s toe into Lake CrossWorld.

Conrad 7:01 AM  

SOp before SOG at 16D (Hi, @Bob Mills!) and sInex before ZICAM at 37D. I had heard of (and even used) the latter, but T/GEL (58D) was a total WOE.

Georgia 7:04 AM  

You and I just learned "bowswit" today. I thought "staying putz" was worth staying for! Fun Wednesday puzzle, "copse" for "grove" was easily fixed and "steelie" appeared with crosses.

Anonymous 7:05 AM  

RED is not half of an orange whether you add the question mark or not. In fact the question mark is worse, because at least without it you could read orange as a shade of a color, fucking stupid and wrong.

Other than that I enjoyed the puzzle much more than Rex. Agreed, even I have seen this theme plenty and having to say the 'Z' a couple times is a little anticlimactic, but still the wackiness is high enough for me mostly. And I liked the subtle and aptly placed revealer.

This puzzle was also extremely challenging for a Wednesday. I think this might be a factor of being one those of us who haven't been solving for decades. It seems like that might be the difference in the rating and the not minding the staleness of the theme as much, but the staleness in some of the fill was grating. SET-TO was clued horrendously. Still overall okay.

Rony Vardi 7:06 AM  

Same. BOWSPRIT is entirely new to me.

Sir Hillary 7:10 AM  

Didn't care for this one; it had a bunch of little flaws that added up. The grid felt very segmented; 3x3 in the NW always PUTZ me in a cranky mood, and the straits to the NE and SW felt too narrow. The theme is OK, but it leads to gunk like ZICAM, SEZ and ZEE. PEES and ZEE in the same grid is annoying. Clues for RED and DAN are too cute by half. I know HELM can be a nouns, but is it ever really pluralized in actual usage?

I did enjoy thinking of a TWIT who wanted to YAMMER so badly that he ORATED from multiple DAISES, causing everyone to DOZEOFF. So there's that.

Oh wait, one more beef...How come 34A wasn't clued as Rows #4-#6 in a theater? :)

maverick 7:11 AM  

Whoops, this was me. Not sure why I went anonymous again. I blame hiccups with my new phone.

kitshef 7:20 AM  

Alternative clue for 9A: Rows 6-4 in a movie theater.

In the olden days, pre-1920, the clues for SOG almost always indicated that it was dialectal. Now, we seem to just pretend it’s a normal word.

Best themer: STAYING PUTZ - though I'm sure someone will object to the etymology of 'putz'.
Worst themer: ANTI-GEN Z. 'Postmillenial' has a very different meaning to me.

Son Volt 7:24 AM  

Yep - the big guy nailed it. Cute, old school trickery but oddly filled and disjoint. I laughed at STAYING PUTZ - the others tended flat. The shorts in each of the corners don’t help - add DAISES, EMERITI, T GEL etc and it lost me.

Too much effort honoring @Z - lost sight of the big picture.

Peaches in the summertime

maverick 7:25 AM  

Another thing I know only because of xwords. Though, I'm sure I should have picked this one up in some Melville novel or something. ZICAM was pure trash, but at least there wasn't *too* much of that today.

Mack 7:29 AM  

@Rex: It was the bison that was hunted to near-extinction, not a buffalo. Different animals.
@SouthsideJohnny: Coyotes do YIP; it's a very distinct sound and makes it easy to know when there's one in the vicinity.

I'm with Rex on this one: I don't mind these kind of themes but today wasn't very interesting. Then again, I also had the darnedest time parsing the themers, even when I knew the gimmick. That probably had something to do with solving at 11:30 pm...
As for ORANGE, I think the clue works fine, even if it's needlessly misleading. You can have distinct shades of orange, and therefore say, "We need to pick an orange to paint this room."

Anonymous 7:39 AM  

I disagree. I thought red as part of an orange was brilliant. How many times have you run a red light or an almost red light and said to yourself or had your passenger say, it's okay it was just orange?

Lewis 7:40 AM  

Clever. And fun!

I mean, Z is a fun letter. Who doesn’t like to see Z? And it really stands out at the end of a word. Has anyone ever thought of this theme before? I don’t think so. Kudos to Gary for picking it out of the ether.

And PUTZ! It has yet to show up as a solo NYT answer, and has showed up but once in the major outlets. And just to in-your-face it one level up, Gary crosses it with PEES!

Just a reminder: Gary had 41 rejections in a row before he finally got a NYT yes, and then had to go through 11 revisions to get that puzzle published. Now he’s had seven NYT puzzles published. Therein lies Inspiring tenacity which allowed his talent to blossom.

A clean grid that included 12 answers with Z, not to mention a fairly high 50 theme squares, so there are skilled chops underlying this grid.

Some lovely serendipities. To balance off all those Z-enders, there are eight answers starting with A. A water-related mini-theme (DAM, BOWSPRITZ, RAINHAT, DANK, KAYAKS, and a backward SEEP). A sweet PuzzPair© of ORATED and DAISES. Not to mention a FED up and ZIPPERS going down.

All in all, a brain pleaser and spirit lifter. Bravo and thank you, Gary!

Anonymous 7:42 AM  

I took orange here to mean the shade of a traffic light as you run the red but try to convince yourself and your passengers that it was still yellow...

Joe Dipinto 7:42 AM  

36d: Rows 19-21 in a theater. How many more can we find?

Aaron 7:46 AM  

Brief Brouhaha is SETTO? What? No it in the hell is not, that's just nonsense. Worst clue I've ever seen, other than anytime the constructor wants us to name that jagaloon who now owns Twitter.

Liveprof 8:10 AM  

Wow, I forgot how great Armatrading and Redding are/were. Thanks, Boss.

SOSOON: A rainstorm that arrives early.

Loved STAYING PUTZ. Wish 35A could be Yiddished up a bit as BOW SHPRITZ.

Too bad coyotes don't say ARP.

mmorgan 8:18 AM  

Liked it much more than Rex (not unusual). I guess tried and true works for me.

Sutsy 8:19 AM  

Mostly enjoyable. Naticked in the SW: ARP, ATLAS crossing RITAORA.

Jim in Canada 8:40 AM  

Played like a Monday, then DNF'd in the SW.
When you've got RITA ORO (who?) crossing a dadaist proper name, a mountain range proper name, and another proper name that's common enough but clued in a way that was so obscure I had to read Rex's explanation before I understood it, that's not really a fair bunch of crosses, especially for a Wednesday.

First Wed DNF in ages.

Tried LILA ORA, figuring that maybe ALP had something to do with dadaism in some way and ALLAS sounded perfectly fine for mountains. Whatever.

I liked the theme more than Rex did, but what else is new?

Of course, being a Canadian, I had to translate the last theme answer from ZED to ZEE.

pabloinnh 8:48 AM  

Add-a-letter has been used before? Oh no! Eek! And so on.

Caught on with the PUTZ answer and had fun with the rest of them, which yes, were a little uneven, which bothered me not at all. The ZEE for a finale was a nice touch.

Found out about Beyonce's significant other, which filled in a significant gap in my knowledge base, and failed to recognize Ms. ORA , who is usually clued as "Singer Rita___". Also, had the K and desperately wanted the "Arctic skin boats " to be UMIAKS, but I guess they have gone to live in the retired crossword hall of fame. Oh well.

@Mack is right, coyotes yip, and if they are close by and you are asleep, can howl loud enough to wake you up. At our former home in a more rural setting, this was not uncommon, and my wife would get up and open the window and howl back at them until they stopped. True story.

I liked your Wednesday just fine, GL. Good Luck with folks who hate to see a device repeated, but it's aces with me, and thanks for all the fun.

Anonymous 8:53 AM  

DNF. Never heard of RITAORa didn’t know DaN (had DoN). Never heard of GRANnY knot. Had SOp instead of SOG. Didn’t have any fun with with this puzzle.

Joe Dipinto 8:58 AM  

I was thinking "half of an orange" could mean half of any shade of orange, but that doesn't make sense either because different shades have different degrees of red and yellow.

There's a secondary STEELIE DAN theme going on, with their album "Katy LIED", and the Santa FEZ. If only ASA had been "AJA"...

Anonymous 8:58 AM  

Why wasn't 9A clued as rows #6-4 in a theater, as you enter? Or for our Canadian friends, why wasn't 9A clued as rows #6-4 in a theatre, as you enter?

Joe Dipinto 9:06 AM  

@oops I left out "SHOW BIZ Kids

Pete 9:07 AM  

Re RED - Pantone has about 130 shades of orange. If you're a child and mix paints with your fingers, various combinations of red and yellow will give you an approximation of one of those. 50% RED and 50% yellow will give you an orange. If you're not a child, then you might express orange in the RBG (or RGBA) and additive color space, they all have the R[ed] component at a significant level. Thus, RED is part of an orange (depending on which of the 130 oranges you're going for), and RED @50%, Yellow at 40% and Blue @10% would give you an orange. If you're expressing your chosen orange in CYMK, a subtractive color space, there is no RED in orange, as RED isn't a component of CYMK.

Clear enough for you?

RooMonster 9:09 AM  

Hey All !
Thanks for the DAN RexPlanation. Was scratching the ole head over that.

Kind of an off theme. I did like STAYING PUTZ and SANTA FEZ, as they followed the spirit of the Theme. BOW SPRITZ is odd in that it is foreign to my ears as both BOW SPRIT and BOW SPRITZ. And MOCKING JAYZ gets a pass because it's chuckle worthy. ANTIGEN-ANTIGENZ was a Huh?, however. Seems an outlier.

YAMMERing a bit.

Fairly easy puz. KAYAKS was a surprise, as I read clue as Arctic skin boots. Those are big boots! Har.

Fill pretty good, some of the fill goes through three Themers! ZIPPERS, e.g. Gotta give the fill a break.

Happy Hump Day!

Four F's

Nancy 9:14 AM  

An unapologetically silly and completely enjoyable wordplay puzzle. I loved the overall cluing which was a lot more playful and less on the nose than most Wednesday puzzles.

It would have played easier for me if I'd gotten to STAYING PUTZ first, but I got to ANTIGENZ first -- before I had any idea what was going on. And because I had SOT, not SOG for the "soak" -- "soak" sometimes being an epithet for a drunk, I think -- my "not a fan of postmillenials" was an ANTItEen. Are postmillenials TEENS? No idea: I've never been able to keep track of all the new GENZ.

I was ready to howl (much more the sound coyotes make than YIPS) because ANTITEEN is not a word. But then I corrected to ANTIGENZ and decided not even to YIP.

A breezy and enjoyable puzzle that was fun to solve.

Shandra Dykman 9:19 AM  

Nice catch!

Greater Fall River Committee for Peace & Justice 9:21 AM  

Nothing much to say about the puzzle, but I am truly puzzled by Rex's assertion that RAINHATs are a bygone thing. What do the rest of you put on your heads when it rains and you have to walk somewhere? Or do you modern people just have all your meetings on zoom when it rains and don't go out? What do your dogs do?

DCDeb 9:21 AM  

Fun puzzle. Hard enough. I’m still smiling over the Santa fez.

Shandra Dykman 9:23 AM  

Any chance the author of the puzzle is the same Gary Larson, Far Side cartoonist?

mathgent 9:36 AM  

Let's stop saying "I enjoyed this more than Rex." Of course you did. His thing is to tell us how inferior the NYT puzzle is to the indie puzzles he does. He's able to sell that.

I found it very entertaining. The themers were cute.

Jay Z and Beyonce have been married for fifteen years.

Twenty should be the limit of threes. This one had 24.

Anonymous 9:44 AM  

@Shandra Sure there is. With full knowledge of the people involved, that chance is 0%, but there was a chance.

Gary Jugert 9:46 AM  

Fine. Somebody's gotta say it ... or rather snore it. Maybe someone already did.

ZZZ. This is a snoozer. DOZE OFF all right.

My only moment of doubt was whether coyotes YIP or YAP. Well I guess DAN would've been a problem, but crosses, you know.

Tee-Hee: DANK [Chronic's awesomeness.] PEES ZICAM [Eliminates excess cold medicine.]


1 Joust over juniors.
2 When I tell myself I'm gonna be better prepared next time.
3 Told bird he could only deliver pizzas.
4 Explained why he was living in the poor house.


My Fascinating Crossword Uniclue Keepsake from Last Year: Grampa talking about himself again. HAROLD'S "I" CLOUD.


tea73 9:54 AM  

I will always like an add a letter puzzle so no complaints on that score. Surprised by the number of people flummoxed by BOWSPRIT(Z). I spent my childhood reading The Swallows and Amazons, my teenage years reading the Hornblower books, and my adult years eagerly awaiting the next book in the Master and Commander Series. Not to mention classics like Moby Dick.

That said brand names like TGEL and ZI wha? should be banned from puzzles.

Carola 9:56 AM  

As a GRANNY who owns a cute RED RAIN HAT and once thought playing with STEELIES was the ultimate in cool, I felt right at home in @Rex's "oldie" vibe, and I thought the theme was a goodie, too. STAYING PUTZ was hard for me to get, but once I had that Z, I enjoyed figuring out the rest, some coming instantly (BOWSPRITZ, which I thought was great) and others needing work (SANTA FEZ, which I thought was even better). I agree about the inconsistencies but will apply the "variety is the spice of life" dictum and call it a feature.

Help from previous puzzles: RITA ORA, STU. No idea: ASA, ZICAM.

Whatsername 10:13 AM  

All I can say is, @Z - wherever you are, I hope you got to do this puzzle.

egsforbreakfast 10:53 AM  

Did you hear that they're doing a remake of that old David Niven/Doris Day film? Instead of the guy leaving his comfortable teaching job to become a theater critic, this time he becomes a pest control specialist, determined to stop termites from destroying podia, lecterns and the like. It's called "Please don't Eat the DAISES." Coming soon to a theater near you.

As a guy in his RIPER age, I really can relate to 17D. I'm always excusing myself mid-course and running to the loo when PEES show up in the middle of supper.

I think DOZEOFF sounds like the antidote for NoDoz. Could get into a kind of vicious cycle, but better than tranqs and speed.

Do Spanglish speakers say "It's ANO-brainer" when a real shit head shows up?

Pretty fun puzzle. I don't mind that it's not a new concept. Wordplay is always fine by me. Thanks, Gary Larson.

jb129 10:53 AM  

Loved this puzzle, Gary!

Especially PUTZ & ZIPPERS!

Alice Pollard 10:58 AM  

RED was a fail. “an” should be excluded from that clue. BOWSPRITZ? I dont get it, what is Bow Sprit? RITA ORA, never heard of. Loved Ed Asner as Lou Grant, he was perfect for that role. The Mary Tyler Moore show was a favorite of mine growing up.

Anonymous 11:12 AM  


Anonymous 11:13 AM  

Because they don’t give a f*ck about anybody else.

Anonymous 11:14 AM  

So I’m assuming this isn’t *the* Gary Larson. Otherwise, Rex would have been gushing.

Beezer 11:23 AM  

Hand raised for enjoying this retro-themed puzzzzz in spite of some of its perceived weaknesses.

Thanks @Pete for answering the “50% of an orange” clue. I took up watercolor a few years ago and have several tubes of red and at least three yellows. Many shades of “an orange (color)” can be created with this.

@Southside, I think you must live in a VERY urban area like NYC or downtown Chicago. Coyotes are now back in the suburban areas of most cities these days. If there are at least two, they will sometimes YIP and it is clear they don’t yap. Or bark.

For some reason, when I think of BOWSPRIT(Z), I think of Robert Shaw in Jaws out on the bowsprit of his boat (The Orca) with his harpoon gun.

@Nancy…Gen Z is anyone younger than someone in their early to mid-20s. The “mid” part is probably debatable.

If this is THE Gary Larson I think a cow or snake clue would’ve been fun!

GILL I. 11:32 AM  

Que strange. Not sure what I think of this. I get to PUTZ and wonder why that word goes from a stupid person to a penis. STAYING PUTZ...Hmmm
Clear head and move on.
I felt I had to go back a thousand years to remember some of these answers. STEELIE..I know you appeared once upon a moon. You came with RITA ORA and DAISES and EMERITI and ARP STU. There were others.
The ZEE concept was interesting but I didn't do any fandango tango. I had to do things like remember who Beyonce's beau was... I'm not a TMZ person so I forgot about JAY Z.
Clear head and move on.
I think my favorite was SANTA FEZ. Not sure why...maybe because of the wrong pronunciation. I'm in @Adam's 6:28 camp. The pronunciation consistency is off. Shrug.
I'm pretty sure that 1A Half of an orange (RED) is because you mix RED and yellow together and get an orange color.....Strange clue.
@Mack 7:29...I think many people confuse Buffalo with Bison. We have that oldy moldy song Home, Home on the range....where the deer and the buffalo do their thing. You are right, though. It's the bison who were hunted to extinction. I believe the buffalo are in some parts of Asia and Africa....

Joe Dipinto 11:42 AM  

@Shandra – the constructor has confirmed in the past that he is *not* the "Far Side" Gary Larson.

Myuen88 11:48 AM  

I have been a huge fan of T-GEL for decades. Neutrogena discontinued it a year ago.

johnk 11:55 AM  

I was wishing RITA was an ORO and DAN was DON. Not only would that have given me a very speedy success, but I was hoping for a DON HELMS TIE -- dedicated to a great guitarist!

Joe Dipinto 12:04 PM  

More alternate clues:

• 26d: Rows 16, 1 and 18 in a theater.
• 38a: The same theater rows as in answer 26d, when you move the first one to the end.

Anonymous 12:05 PM  

Never! They usually say it was turning yellow!

jberg 12:17 PM  

I'm surprised so many have not heard of RITA ORA before -- she seems to be in at least two puzzles a month, maybe more -- duking it out with Dua Lipa for first place in the all-important seven-letter-answers-with-more-vowels-than-consonants category. Today she is associated with her six-letter brother, ORA, TED.

ARP is pretty common, too, although I'm not sure Dada stuck around long enough to have pioneers.

ANTIGEN-x before Z, what do I know? I've had the X,Y,Z (aka rows 24-26, or maybe 22-24) explained to me a few times, and I can work it out if I have to-- but I had to get a few more Z endings to see my error.

I grew up in a shipbuilding community, plus having read many of the same novels as @Tea73, so I was surprised so many didn't know BOWSPRIT. A much better clue for BOW SPRITZ might have been something along the lines of "maritime christening."

I was going to complain that there's no such thing as a MOCKING JAY, as opposed to a bluejay, gray jay, or mocking bird. Fortunately, I looked it up -- it's a Hunger Games thing. The librarians won't let me check out YA books without a note from my grandchildren, so I've never got into that.

I do use a RAIN HAT, though my wife relies on umbrellas. It's those little differences that make a relationship interesting.

Anonymous 12:18 PM  

Staying putz - definitely chuckle worthy.

Masked and Anonymous 12:19 PM  

Nice SPLATZ puz. Enjoyed, but made m&e mighty thirsty. Think now I'll go off and DRINKAQUARTZ.

staff weeject pick: ZEE, with a great puzgrid placement & clue. Sorta a mini-semi-revealer.
Primo weeject stacks in the NW & SE, protected from the wind by the mighty Jaws of Themedness.
Cool, sneaky RED clue, right outta the rodeo chute today, btw.

other faves included: DOZEOFF. ZIPPERS & clue. PELICAN. SAFEBET.

thanx to @RP, for the DAN clue explainer. Needed that.

Thanxz, Mr. Larson. Pretty nice far sidez themerz.

Masked & Anonymo2Us


JC66 12:54 PM  


In Yiddish PUTZ/SCHMUCK = Penis/prick/dummy/doofus.

bocamp 12:59 PM  

Thx, Gary, for this breeZy offering! 😊


Just wasn't in the GRoOVE today.

SOp before SOG.

Did enjoy the theme, which was definitely helpful.

Learned: TMZ; T/GEL; ZICAM.

Fun solve! :)
Natan Last's Mon. New Yorker was med (2x NYT Sat); one cell dnf at the 'romantic / poet' cross. D'oh! 😔
Peace 🕊 🇺🇦 ~ Compassion ~ Tolerance ~ Kindness ~ Freudenfreude & a DAP to all 👊 🙏

LorrieJJ 1:06 PM  

I'm with you ... if you want to stop a Canadian (or any non-American English speaker) cold, just say zee and wait while they're trying to figure out what the heck you mean.

okanaganer 1:20 PM  

At the baffling 1 across clue "Half of an orange" I had a moment of brilliance and entered ANS. Because half of the 8 letter long string "an orange" is AN repeated.

Also SPUN before SLID. And never heard of ZICAM.

[Spelling Bee: Tues 0, last word this tricky 6er adjective. QB streak 6days.]

Anoa Bob 1:20 PM  

My sailboat had a BOW SPRIT so I got the water-over-the-BOW SPRITZ bit but wondered how many solvers would now what a SPRIT, BOW or otherwise, would be. Seems a tad esoteric.

I balked at MOCKING JAYZ. I know what a MOCKING bird is. I know there are several kinds of JAYs. But the two together? Ah, wiki tells me that "MOCKINGJAY is a 2010 dystopian young adult fiction novel by American author Suzanne Collins. It is chronologically the last installment of The Hunger Games series." Sigh.

My first thoughts for 1A "Half of an orange?" were ORA or NGE or some other three-letter half of the six-letter ORANGE. I blame the "?" and yesterday's LEN for "A man's name hidden in 'bottleneck'" for that MISSTEP (also in yesterday's puzzle).

SharonAK 1:59 PM  

@ Nancy A thousand years ago when I was growing up in the San Fernando valley we often heard coyotes in the hills. They typically did: "yip yip howl" I can't remember ever hearing them howl without the starting yips

It just occurs to me that the hills were a few miles away. Wow, their voices really carried.

Anonymous 2:13 PM  

I seem to be the only someone to object to the etymology of putz. I object.

maverick 2:25 PM  

Lol, I've never heard that. But, I like it!

Anonymous 3:02 PM  

I think you actually agree with Rex about RED because in your comment you wrote "half of orange" which, as Rex said, the clue should have been! 😉

Matthew 3:26 PM  

Apparently I'm the contrarian here, but ANTI GEN Z was actually my *favorite* themer. Z pronunciation be damned! It brought a realtime smile to my face... maybe even an audible "Ha!"

I agree the fill was subpar, but I actually found the theme decent.

Gary Jugert 3:32 PM  

My first house was in the mountains of New Mexico and the first night we moved in (after living in the city my whole life) it was almost pitch black outside, and just as we were crawling into bed, I started hearing this super creepy pack of little girls screaming and it felt like they were right outside. I was getting ready to call the cops, until it dawned on me that they were coyote puppies. Not yipping at all. More of a squeal. Didn't get much sleep imagining some cult was having a moonless ceremony involving the torture of children -- and this was the New Mexico mountains, so just about anything was possible.

Anonymous 4:33 PM  

I wear a raincoat and put the hood up. 🤷🏻

dgd 5:37 PM  

I learned about the different pronunciations of the letter z a long time ago. FWIW the French say zed also). I never had trouble understanding what was meant. But then I never do British crosswords ( which I understand to be mostly cryptic which I just can’t do).
I never realized how confusing zee could be to those who don’t say it.

Anonymous 5:43 PM  

In all my years in Japan, never heard “Dan” (pronounced in Japanese as “Don”) used to indicate sensei or teacher. Its meaning is rank, and only the very top rank qualifies as a sensei or master. “Don” would have worked much better in this retro puzzle as it’s the traditional term in British universities for the head tutor.

Anonymous 5:44 PM  

Didn’t really understand that clue/ answer. Put in Ran at first. Got RED from crosses, came here and Rex’s explanation still makes no sense.
Didn’t think it was easy.

Anonymous 6:05 PM  

FWIW ARP comes up A LOT in the Times puzzle. So for regular long time solvers it was a no brainer So it most definitely will continue to appear even on a Wednesday.
Rita Ora has shown up this year quite a bit because of the convenient letters. Also she is a very popular young singer. Her name will continue to appear for both reasons.
Atlas is a bit obscure but in terms of the Times puzzle, the other two are not.

Nancy 6:32 PM  

"@Nancy…Gen Z is anyone younger than someone in their early to mid-20s. The “mid” part is probably debatable." -- @Beezer

Yes, @Beezer, but what's the point of trying to memorize that? In a few years, they will be an entirely different age:)

ghostoflectricity 8:29 PM  

In what universe are ZICAM/TGEL/SOG constituents of an "easy" puzzle? And "half of an orange"? I won't use the word I would like to use to describe the kind of constructor who finds this thoroughly wrong-headed clue is at all clever or humorous. This was a shining exemp[ar of the type of irritatingly clever "wacky" puzzles that I absolute hate. Awful solving experience from beginning to end. Hated it.

campion 11:02 PM  

Hate all the pop music references--at 70 I never heard of 'em. Cause of that some crosses are more difficult than they s/b. Could say the same for pop TV shows--never watch. History, culture, science, philosophy, art, literature--now that's easy.

Only when my daughter visits are these puzzles not tedious.

Made in Japan 1:06 AM  

I agree with Anonymous 5:43 PM. The clue for DAN clearly falls flat. DAN is a level of skill, generally ranked from 1 to 10. Would "Level" or "Rank" or "Grade" be an appropriate name for a teacher in this country? Not to mention the fact that when Japanese is transcribed in the Roman alphabet, the vowel sounds generally match up to those in just about any language BUT English (the Romance languages, Finnish, Swahili, etc.) So the pronunciation of the Japanese word 段 is closer to (but not quite the same as) the English name Don. This weak clue, crossing RITA ORA (who coincidentally has a brother named Don), clearly puts us in Natick territory.

Shandra Dykman 5:08 AM  

Ah! Thank you.

Anonymous 7:26 AM  

Same. I had Zet and Tet as one-to-one (tet-a-yet) very confidently.

Anonymous 7:33 AM  

There are lots of different oranges in color theory. Ask any artist about color mixing and you’ll find out that if you start with different shades of red and mix in different shades of yellow, you’ll make different oranges.

Anonymous 9:37 AM  

Me too! I’ve forgotten how truly warm her voice is. Played more of her after hearing that! Many, many thanks for that gift, OFL!

  © Free Blogger Templates Columnus by Ourblogtemplates.com 2008

Back to TOP