Baseball's Marsh or Bohm / THU 11-2-23 / Non-Muppet owner of Hooper's Store on "Sesame Street" / Valuable resource for the Human Genome Project / Fruit eaten on the Jewish New Year / Two early Icelandic literary works / Features of many "On my way" texts

Thursday, November 2, 2023

Constructor: Chase Dittrich and Christina Iverson

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: Missing letters — theme answers are familiar phrases that, when parsed differently, explain why there are some letters missing from the clues: 

Theme answers:
  • 17A: "Beg your pardo_" (NON-APOLOGY) (i.e. NO-"N" APOLOGY (the apology "Beg your pardon" is missing its "N"))
  • 28A: Badly dilapida_ed (NOT TOO SHABBY (i.e. NO-"T" TOO SHABBY (the phrase meaning "too shabby" is missing its "T")
  • 38A: _ _ cretary (NOSE JOB) (i.e. NO-"SE" JOB) (the job of "secretary" is missing the letters "S" and "E")
  • 46A: Pe _ _ _ phone (NORSE GODDESS) (i.e. NO-"RSE" GODDESS) (the goddess Persephone is missing the letter string "RSE")
  • 61A: Championship _ _ _ t (NOBEL PRIZE) (i.e. NO-"BEL" PRIZE) ("Championship belt" is a kind of "prize" and is missing the letter string "BEL") 
Word of the Day: John CENA (11D: John of wrestling fame) —
John Felix Anthony Cena
 (/ˈsnə/ SEE-nə; born April 23, 1977) is an American professional wrestler, actor, and former rapper currently signed to WWE. With the most world championship reigns in WWE history, Cena is widely regarded as one of the greatest professional wrestlers of all time. [...] A joint-record 16-time world champion, Cena is a record 13-time WWE Champion and three-time World Heavyweight Champion. He is also a five-time WWE United States Champion, a two-time WWE Tag Team Champion, a two-time World Tag Team Champion, a two-time Royal Rumble winner, and a one-time Money in the Bank winner. He has also headlined multiple major WWE pay-per-view events, including its flagship event, WrestleMania, five times. His professional wrestling career has been met with mixed critical and audience reception, with praise for his character work and promotional skills, but criticism for his perceived over-representation and on-screen dominance relative to other wrestlers. // Cena first starred in The Marine (2006), and gained praise for his performances in Trainwreck (2015), Ferdinand (2017), Blockers, and Bumblebee (both 2018). He starred in F9 (2021) as Jakob Toretto, reprising his role in Fast X (2023), and portrayed Peacemaker in The Suicide Squad (2021) and the eponymous television series (2022–present). He released a studio album, You Can't See Me, in 2005. Outside his work in entertainment, Cena is known for his involvement in numerous charitable causes, namely with the Make-A-Wish Foundation, where he has granted the most wishes, at over 650. (wikipedia)
• • •

[13A: Non-Muppet owner of Hooper's Store
on "Sesame Street" = ALAN
Well, this concept was a lot easier to grasp than it was to explain in writing, I'll tell you that. What you've got is essentially a clue/answer reversal sort of deal, where the answer in the grid gives you the clue you need to understand why there are letters missing from your actual clues. Even though the first one of these themers is the least elaborate, it felt the most perfect. I'm sure it had the benefit of being the first themer I got, i.e. the "aha" themer, but there's something simple, neat, and unforced about the no-"N" apology. Among the rest, only NORSE GODDESS felt as elegant. The correspondence between "badly" and "TOO" felt off to me in 28A: Badly dilapida_ed (NO-"T" TOO SHABBY). The other two are fine, but "secretary" is highly arbitrary as an example of JOB, and there was something slightly fiddly about "Championship belt." I mean, I think those last two work just fine, they just didn't land the way NO-"N" APOLOGY and NO-"RSE" GODDESS did. And please, no mail or comments about how actually Persephone is a Greek goddess, not a NORSE GODDESS—we know. In this particular thematic scenario, it's irrelevant.

[Mentally singing "NON-APOLOGY" to the tune of this]

This puzzle played more like a Tuesday than a Thursday for me. The non-thematic elements in particular were surprisingly straightforward, even rudimentary, and the clues didn't seem to be trying very hard to make this a properly thorny Thursday. A lot of the fill was straight out of central casting—i.e. very familiar: NAGANO ARIAL ALOHA AGORA OBOE UTILE NEATO etc. They tried to make ALEC a non-Baldwin (and succeeded!) but an ALEC is an ALEC is an ALEC, and now you know some more ALECs (66A: Baseball's Marsh or Bohm). The clue on PALO is weird, in that ... it's still just a proper noun partial, same as always—still not great fill—but instead of getting the expected clue about the California city (home of Stanford), we get this tree trivia, which makes you (i.e. me) think that the answer is actually not going to be PALO (18D: El ___ Alto, California redwood that's more than 1,000 years old). But then it is PALO. It was all strangely anticlimactic. PHOTOBOMB is easy to like (10D: Ruin a picture of, in a way), but the rest of the fill runs a little to the dull side, for sure.

I imagined there was a DNA BASE out there somewhere (4D: Valuable resource for the Human Genome Project). I think I meant "BANK," but I wrote BASE. So that needed fixing. GAINS was way too vague as [Investment goals] go, so that took some work. Ran into that LOLLS / LAZES kealoa* pretty hard (53D: Kicks back). I wanted DIME (!?) and then TIME (!) before SEMI (64A: Quarter follower). I think that in tournament situations, I'm used to hearing both terms pluralized ("We made it to the SEMIs!" "He got knocked out in the quarters"), so I just didn't make the connection, and instead went flailing wildly into the realms of numismatics and music (though I don't think "quarter time" is an actual thing in music; it just sounds music-y, like, I dunno, "quarter note," I guess). Never intentionally paid attention to pro wrestling, but it seems that I've encountered John CENA enough that he's now a gimme. He occupies the same part of my brain as Michael CERA, which is at least slightly weird, as they look nothing alike. I've known the term EDDA(S) forever (they teach it to you at crossword boot camp), but I had no idea there were just two (!?). They did not teach that to me at medievalist boot camp. Or I was napping. Possible. 

Speaking of EDDAS, I ran into EDDIC yesterday in a fabulous cryptic crossword from 1977. I was doing said cryptic because I had just found out from my friend Matt Gritzmacher that exists—a massive archive of cryptic puzzles from the legendary constructing team of Emily Cox and Henry Rathvon that goes back almost a half century! I went back to very early in the archive and man, those '70s puzzles hold up! Their cryptics frequently have some thematic element, some elaborate trick or gimmick that makes them extra-challenging and phenomenally entertaining. And if you go back to the verrrrrry first one in the archive ("Short and Sweet," Sep. 1977!), you'll see the pdf contains not just the puzzle, but a three-page explanation of what cryptic crosswords are and how to solve them. An extremely useful document. Anyway, the Cox/Rathvon website has given me years of clipboard fodder. I'm so grateful. See you tomorrow.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld 

*kealoa = a pair of words (normally short, common answers) that can be clued identically and that share at least one letter in common (in the same position). These are answers you can't just fill in quickly because two or more answers are viable, Even With One or More Letters In Place. From the classic [Mauna ___] KEA/LOA conundrum. See also, e.g. [Heaps] ATON/ALOT, ["Git!"] "SHOO"/"SCAT," etc.  

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


okanaganer 1:16 AM  

Rex, I'd like to hear stories from Crossword Boot Camp. "Write in those squares, you maggots! Sharp, drop and give me twenty!"

After finishing, I went back and hoped that the themers would progress from 1, to 2, to 3, to 4 letters missing, so I was a little disappointed that it's 1, 1, 3, 3. Jeez, I'm getting picky. For Thursday this was just okay.

NAV could have been clued as "Sat-__".

Anyway, Lewis in case you missed my comment yesterday where I somehow thought you were Joe Dipinto, I hope you survived your thousand trick-or-treaters because my 275 were stressful enough.

[Spelling Bee: Wed 0, QB 8 in a row; expecting a 70+ word challenger soon!]

Anonymous 1:53 AM  

I tried to get the theme by reading this column and I still don’t really see it, mostly since I no longer really care since it was so easy to solve without knowing what it was. Not an ideal theme in that regard, no aha moments.

jae 2:05 AM  

Easy. I whooshed through this with only a vague idea of what was going on. It took a bit of post solve staring to grok the theme. Very smooth and very clever, liked it.

Did not know SHIBA or ALEC (as clued).

CWT 2:09 AM  

Rex: I’m not sure I understand what you mean by “just two” Eddas. Were you thinking that an “Edda” was a poem, or a saga? The two Eddas are: the Younger Edda, sometimes called “Snorri’s Edda” or “The Prose Edda”, a compilation or “textbook “ of Norse myths and legends sometimes attributed to Snorri Sturluson, and (2) the “Older Edda” or “Poetic Edda” which is a collection of Norse poems recounting myths and legends of the gods, giants, heros of the North. The name “Edda” is actually found only in the manuscript of the “younger” one (13th century), the other one is called Edda because it seems like the pre-Christian source that Snorri drew on..

maverick 2:12 AM  

I liked this one, but was a little too easy for a Thursday. I noticed it was a bit odd that the first too themers end up being essentially opposites (depending on what context you're using 'beg your pardon').

Then NOSE JOB is completely unrelated, then two different versions of things. I.e. a different type of god, a different kind of award. I am not nearly the stickler for theme consistency Rex often is, so didn't mind, but just curious if there was any consideration to the progression. 🤷‍♂️

Anyway, good writeup and good puzzle. Agree that NO 'N' APOLOGY was by far the best and NO 'T' TOO SHABBY was weird and definitely the weakest.

SharonAK 3:50 AM  

I seem to agree with Rex in general. But was more critical of 28A. The answer just doesn't work the way the others do. I kept trying to make it work in my mind. It does not.
Except for that the themes were fun to figure out.
Another "but", iIfound the PPP too obscure. Though now that I see the photo of Cena he looks quite familiar - from movies, not wrestling.
Took me a minute to picture him in Bumblebee - a very fun film I have watched several times.

Anonymous 5:45 AM  

Solved it easily, but without figuring out what was going on with the theme answers.

Conrad 5:51 AM  

Like some others, I didn't get the theme until I got here. I saw that there was no apparent link between the themer clues and answers, so I just ignored the clues and got the phrases via crosses and inferral.

My only overwrite was at the beginning, 1A, where I had tool before CARD for what Jack is but Jill isn't. But that was quickly corrected by the colorful shirt at 2D.

Joe Dipinto 6:02 AM  

@okanaganer – hi, it's me of the zero trick-or-treaters. I think you meant 1,1,2,3,3 missing letters. After 1,1,2,3 I was hoping the next one would have 5, to get a little Fibonacci sequence going.

I liked this theme idea, it was an unusual thing to come up with. But I concur the 28a clue is weak, and secretary does seem kind of arbitrary as a job choice. Why not __curity guard? Or nur__? Or man__rvant? The possibilities are myriad.


Jack 6:05 AM  

Enjoyed the theme because first assumed there was no significance to the missing n in particular, the clue was simply a NON-APOLOGY because the word hadn't been finished. Then NOT TOO SHABBY kinda worked the same way, though I should have wondered why the t was the missing letter (might've clued it with 'Uninhabi_ably dank'). This lead me to squint at NOSEJOB for a good few seconds before my big aha. Following themers though became very easy since they essentially gave you the first words! Clean grid.

Joe Dipinto 6:08 AM  

Or, here's a good one: mas__u__

AmyVT 7:05 AM  

Wow, Rex: thanks for the Cox/Rathvon treasure trove! Dangerous, though. I see my todo list taking its spot on an ever-receding back burner.

Lewis 7:09 AM  

@okanaganer -- It always goes quickly because it's nonstop, but it went even more quickly than usual, because the cold weather arrived and it was getting colder by the minute, and people came early. We set up right by the sidewalk, so there's no door to answer a billion times, it's a lot of "Happy Halloween!" and "Great Costume!" and good vibes all around. Great time!

Andy Freude 7:10 AM  

Pretty easy for a Thursday. My only sticking point was CHAMPIONSHIP BouT.
@Joe Dipinto: a Fibonacci sequence would have been so cool!
@Rex: pretty close with the quarter/music connection. Three-quarter time is a waltz. Four-quarter time is just about everything else.

Son Volt 7:23 AM  

Fastest.Thursday.ever - according to the app stats. Liked the concept but not sure it was fully realized. Long downs especially the DNA BANK - LSD TRIP siblings were neat.


Love BAO buns and baked BRIE.

Pleasant - but simple Thursday morning solve.

A GEM from REPO Man

SouthsideJohnny 7:26 AM  

I was torched by NOSE JOB and NOBEL PRIZE - are there even a thing called secretaries anymore ? I thought they all wanted to be called “administrative assistants“. Similar to the way waitresses are now “servers”. Sometimes it can be exhausting attempting to not inadvertently insult/trigger/disrespect someone.

Interesting clue for APPLE which I did not know. I spend so much time in CrossWorld that I’m just used to FIONA and that other TECH company APPLE. Seeing it clued as a fruit is like being on a Crossword LSD TRIP.

I notice that the definition for ABED indicates very clearly that it is ARCHAIC, so I’m a bit surprised that we don’t see more of it here in the NYT grids - seems like it would be a handy go-to in instances when they are running below the arcane quota.

Anonymous 7:30 AM  

At least 1,500 trick-or-treaters here. The police close off our neighborhood and kids from all over the city are driven/bussed over for the festivities. It's the biggest night of the year around here. I'm still recovering.

kitshef 7:32 AM  

I thought this was very well executed. All the themers are familiar words and phrases.

What I’ll always remember about Nagano is Hermann Maier’s spectacular wipeout in the men’s downhill. Looked for all the world like he’d have broken limbs or even a broken neck. But a couple of days later, he was back skiing and won gold in the Super-giant slalom. Here is a video of the crash.

Anonymous 7:37 AM  

You mean “GIMME 20 DOWN!”

Berndo 7:53 AM  

Much easier than yesterday despite finding the theme inscrutable. Easy enough that this was my fastest time ever on the app, despite putting my phone down to eat and drink. Probably should have swapped this with yesterday.

pabloinnh 7:55 AM  

Well, any puzzle that has both ABED and EDDAS makes me nostalgic, so I liked this one just for that.

Took too long to catch on to the missing letters bit, not helped by a LUTE for LYRE gaffe which made the first themer impossible to see. Fixed that eventually, after seeing the NO something or other thing.

New clue for PALO. How about that?

Nice work, CD and CA. Clever Design and Completely Acceptable for a Thursday. Thanks for all the fun.

frankbirthdaycake 8:03 AM  

This was a good puzzle. Not as fun as yesterday’s, but not a bad Thursday, if a bit on the easy side. Happy Early Friday to all.

Sam 8:15 AM  

I don’t get Rex’s criticism of the theme. Secretary is just as apt an example of a job as Persephone is an example of a goddess. Same goes for championship belt as an example of a prize. None is more or less arbitrary than the others.

Anonymous 8:17 AM  

I set my Thursday record also!

Bob Mills 8:18 AM  

Much more comfortable theme than on most Thursdays, so it was mostly an easy solve. My only sticking points were SESH (sess?) and the ARIAL/NAGANO cross. Got them both by trial and error.

The NORSEGODDESS and NOTTOOSHABBY clues were especially effective.

smalltowndoc 8:24 AM  

Even after completing this puzzle, I couldn’t grasp the theme. This is a first since that days of my wonderful radiology elective under the tutelage of Profs Röntgen and Curie! I saw all the "no"s, but I was still perplexed until I read Rex’s write-up and had my delayed a-ha moment.

I had no idea what LAZES was. I couldn’t understand how burning something with a concentrated beam of light could be clued "kicks back". Of course, that would have been spelled with an “S” and not a “Z", but still. Then I remembered the Queen song, "Lazing on a Sunday Afternoon" and all was right with the universe again.

Rex, loved your music choices today. Nirvana and Crowded House occupy a fair portion of my playlist. My kids still can’t quite figure out how their almost 70 year old dad even heard of either of those two bands.

Anyway, cool puzzle.

Lewis 8:24 AM  

My experience was like that of many commenters. In a relative blink of an eye, this filled in, but at completion, the way the theme worked still wasn’t clear.

So I gave the theme answers a closer look, and soon enough, with an “Oho!”, how it worked came to me. Immediately followed by: “Whoa! That’s ingenious! How did anyone think of this in the first place?”

I mean, this is a wordplay gimmick I don't remember ever seeing before, not to mention that it’s that splendid kind that’s infectious, making people want to come up with new theme answers. IMO, tremendous credit goes to whoever pulled this theme out of the universe.

My guess is that the NYT team thought the theme would be tough to untangle and that making the clues easier than Thursday-usual would help. If this guess is correct, I applaud the team’s empathy, but I would have preferred tougher cluing. I want Thursday-Saturday puzzles to cater to more experienced solvers, and let newer solvers earn their way up to this level.

Still, the theme’s brilliance and the satisfaction of cracking it satisfied me to no end, easily won me over, and had me thinking, “Ain’t Crosslandia grand?” Thank you, C&C, for this!

Anonymous 8:30 AM  

I agreed with you up until you said easy to solve. I thought it was hard to solve. Gotta up my game!

Whatsername 9:03 AM  

An easy JOB, way easier than Wednesday. Basically solved as a themeless because I never understood what was happening with the blank letters. I tried but NO aha moment for me before, during or after. Since I found the theme impossible to decipher, I wouldn’t give it any PRIZE, but I can see where everyone who did thought it was pretty NEATO.

Anonymous 9:03 AM  

as a palo altan, i thoroughly enjoyed the el palo alto clue/answer!
i didn't know it was that well known outside of the region.
happy to see a west coast clue in and east coast puzzle!

Nancy 9:03 AM  

I thought this was very cleverly conceived and beautifully executed. All the theme clues are puzzles in their own right and it's great fun to figure them out with no crosses. Yes, you already have the NO aspect, but the rest of it has nice variety. The hardest for me was "Championship ---t" where I was trying to think of an answer beginning with NOBOU.

I found two of the answers -- NOSE JOB and NOT TOO SHABBY -- quite funny.

Two writeovers: LObo before LONE for the wolf and mUSt before FUSS for "to-do". I was thinking of a to-do list.

A wonderfully enjoyable and clever Thursday puzzle that succeeded for me on every level.

Anonymous 9:04 AM  

Same here. Played like a themeless Tuesday puzzle.

RooMonster 9:07 AM  

Hey All !
NOT TOO SHABBY, I guess. Took the ole brain a minute to wrap around what the answers were doing vis-a-vis the clues. (How's that for a crossword word!) Once I realized they would all start with NO, it got easier. The NO - T - TOO SHABBY one seems off to the ears. Well, now that I've rehashed it, it's starting to sound better...

NO SE JOB is pretty funny.

Decent fill, different kind of wordplay. Didn't take me forever, so that's good. Seems like NEATO is getting to be the new OREO.

We get a PALO today, close, maybe PA_LO? Har. (There is a B close, so there's a Boggled Pablo there...)

Boy, AHAB had some real anger issues...

Anyway, ALOHA.

Two F's

Smith 9:16 AM  

Well, super easy, close to a pr. Got the trick at the first themer. Then easy to fill in the leading NO in the others, and NO T was pretty obvious, too. Took a sec to see NOSE... but Ms. Pinkett Smith finished it (not even sure who she is, but the name is familiar enough). Struggled with NORSE... because she, well, is not a NORSEGODDESS but close enough for crosslandia, I suppose. I also don't know what a Championship Belt is (a knockout punch?) But with NO_____IZE it was the only thing I could think of.

Liked it, although it went by too fast for a Thursday!

burtonkd 9:22 AM  

…and this song of mine, in three quarter time
Wishes you and yours the same thing too

Xmas Waltz - Jule Styne/Sammy Cahn

I think half time and double time are verbalized more frequently.

A little easy except for NW, but that fell quickly on the return thanks to the themer.

I was sorry not to have RP on board for the full Maunakea/loa experience yesterday, although there was some helpful? fact to distinguish them.

Anonymous 9:31 AM  

Super easy to finish and even after reading Rex’s review I have no idea how the theme works and it hurts my brain to think about

Gary Jugert 9:32 AM  

What the Sam Heck is a [perse phone] I asked myself for half the solve and finally gave up, took a nap, and then bolted upright. Persephone! I hate how that Hel-ion spells her name and how I dream about crosswords. I suppose it didn't help that she's not a NORSE GODDESS. Perse-PHONY.

I love the phrases NON-APOLOGY, PHOTOBOMB, and NOT TOO SHABBY. I also like a good SNOOT.

Tee-Hee: Had ERECT for ON END forever {but not for more than four hours thank goodness} and it almost {almost} did me in.


1 Eat a dog.
2 Doing the double helix kaleidoscope dance.
3 Unrestrained reed rebellion.


My Fascinating Crossword Uniclue Keepsake from Last Year: Hopping on a plane wearing my flip-flops, pajama bottoms, a t-shirt that says "The Bangles 1984 World Tour," and carrying a paper sack from Popeyes. FLY OFF AS I AM.


Photomatte 9:56 AM  

I agree with others here: the "theme" was so marginal, it was almost transparent. I never grokked it and didn't need to; the answers were so easy. It was like walking to my next door neighbor's house: I can either take five steps to my left and arrive at her front stoop or I can turn right and walk all the way around the block. While I could use the exercise, it's too easy to just take those five steps and arrive at my destination.

Gary Jugert 10:00 AM  

@SouthsideJohnny 7:26 AM
"Sometimes it can be exhausting attempting to not inadvertently insult/trigger/disrespect someone."

It can also be a tremendous opportunity to become curious about the implicit assumptions embedded in our use of language, and to change the way we use it when those assumptions turn out to be gross.

egsforbreakfast 10:20 AM  

Yellow B_ _ ly
E_ _ _ omics exam
(Answers below)

That restaurant was terrible even before they added inedible Vietnamese noodles to the menu. They certainly didn't need PHOTOBOMB.

LSDTRIP seems like a mixture of genres. Nobody says it. You say Acid Trip. Perhaps LSD Excursion would be better? Of course if it's a low-ranking U.S.M.C. Officer, it's an LST Trip. Combine the two and you end up with the Alaska Airlines pilot who tried to shut off the engines mid flight after a dose of 'shrooms.

I thought this was a fresh and fascinating theme. Thanks, Chase Dittrich and Christina Iverson


Ride the Reading 10:23 AM  

Zipped through the puzzle (for a Thursday) without catching on to the theme. Haven't heard PHOTO BOMB for a while, but of course it still happens.

Thanks for the Quarterflash song, Rex. Don't recall that one - but hearing the voice and the sax made me think of "Harden My Heart," which I listened to next. Even better than I remembered.

Anonymous 10:25 AM  

Great puzzle. Loved the themers. Annihilated my personal best.

Anonymous 10:35 AM  

You are right. It was easy. I only cheated 8 times.

Anonymous 10:44 AM  

Nice/clever theme , not too hard a solve, some nice crosses. A bit surprised the Persephone wasn't edited to a true Norse goddess, although nothing comes to mind.

Agree with JD and others that 28A could have had __veral other good possibilities.

I worked with a great group of administrative assistants in my office for past 10 years--a fun group of mature women who call themselves "the ad asses"!

Anonymous 11:05 AM  


S Smith 11:07 AM  

Johnny, you obviously have no problem with insulting/triggering or disrespecting someone.

Newboy 11:09 AM  

Popping in before reading above commentariat to say thanks to Rex for sharing his discovery of the cryptic archive & give a thumbs up to Chase and Christina for an interesting Thursday grid. All OFL said in his critique seemed an echo of our experience—easy, but fun in a quirky manner (and isn’t that a great way to think of Thursday’s NYTXW?). Certainly worth a NOT TOO SHABBY rating! I too would have enjoyed more clues like “what a freezer can do” for BURN or “punch ingredient” for FIST instead of those leading to ERIK, GEM and APPLE that seemed overly obvious. But hey, the world series is over and this was the fastest solve in months, so I say we’re all allowed a NON-APOLOGY! Hope others enjoyed as well.

GILL I. 11:15 AM  

Well, Thursday hat on and, as usual, I'm ready to fall flat on me arse.
Fairly easy and quite possibly doable. Maybe.
The theme flew right over my head. NON APOLOGY made sense to me. But....I had no idea we were supposed to play around with NO. NOSE JOB???? Why? ----cretary made me think it was probably secretary. So how did her NOSE get in the way of her job. I'm serious about this. I still don't understand. I've read @Rex's explanation twice and still I'm not sure I get the theme.
I can draw just about anything from memory but I can't seem to get my thinking to switch to Thursday puzzle mode. I'll ask my shrink.
I did finish because, well, there were lots of words around the theme that are firmly etched in my brain.
I had trouble with 1A, though. Jack, but not Jill? I was looking for some sort of thing you use on a car. Then my adolescent brain jumps to:

Jack and Jill went up the hill
Each with a buck and a quarter
Jill came back with two and a half
They didn't go up for water.

Back to being an adult....My favorite? PHOTO BOMB.
In conclusion: I thought this puzzle was very interesting. Now, if only I can figure out why.

Carola 11:21 AM  

I really liked this one. After a rough start of bumbling around the upper half looking for a rebus, I found myself mid-grid with only a few answers filled in and no idea of a theme, leading to a "Time to buckle down and get a grip" moment. I returned to the NW, where the ALOHA shirt opened the door and I RAN IN to the NO-N APOLOGY. Aha! I had a lot of fun figuring out the rest, each a surprise in its own way and a couple of them a delight - the NO-SE JOB and, especially, the NO-RSE GODDESS - terrific joke.

@Rex and other cryptic lovers - In looking at the titles in this marvelous trove, I realized I'd done a number of them, as they appeared on the Wall Street Journal's puzzle page. Highly recommend! One of my all-time favorites is The Seven Cryptic Dwarfs, among them Shifty and Squeezy.

@Chase Dittrich and Christina Iverson - Thank you for this Thursday treat. It left me with a smile.

Mark 11:28 AM  

I always hate it when the Times puzzle claims “bao” is a Chinese steamed bun. Maybe some Americans call it that but in Chinese that word means bag or container or some other things, but not a steamed bun (which is “baozi”). In this case the clue was particularly bad because the wording of the clue “steamed bun in Chinese cuisine” implied that this is the actual Chinese usage, which it isn’t.

Anonymous 12:22 PM  

Brandon Marsh and Alec Bohm are both starters for the Philadelphia Phillies. Hence,

bocamp 1:00 PM  

Thx, Chase & Christina; good JOB! 😊


Sped thru this one, even w/o grokking the theme.

Took some time post-solve to suss it out; bit of side-eye for the TOO, but after giving it more thot, I guess 'dilapidated' would be SHABBY, so 'badly dilapidated' would be TOO SHABBY. 🤔

Nevertheless, clever theme and fun adventure! :)

Thx @Rex & Carola (11:21 AM) for the cryptic ideas! :)
Stella Zawistowski's New Yorker Sun. cryptic was easy fun.
Peace 🕊 🇺🇦 ~ Compassion ~ Tolerance ~ Kindness ~ Freudenfreude & a DAP to all 👊 🙏

jb129 1:01 PM  

I knew there had to be something tricky cause it's Thursday, but I just wasn't getting it. I solved it but as a themeless then I came here. Thanks to Rex as always.

Sandy McCroskey 1:22 PM  

I don't come here every day (only do the puzzles Thursday thru—force of habit—Sunday), but this is the first time I've seen even a slightly critical comment from Lewis. Yes, this could definitely have had tougher clues.

Anonymous 1:57 PM  

@Sam - The championship belt is a trophy, not a prize. The money is the prize.

Anonymous 2:35 PM  

The town of Palo Alto was named for El Palo Alto, a redwood tree mentioned in the journals of the 1769 Portola Expedition—still standing next to railroad tracks and a creek a few blocks from downtown.

Beth64 3:07 PM  

I managed to solve the puzzle without getting the theme. And even after reading Rex’s explanation, I still don’t get it. I just don’t see the connection between secretary and nose job. But it was enjoyable nevertheless, so there’s that.

jberg 3:38 PM  

I'm getting lazy. I didn't understand why it was NO TTOO, and while I noticed that there was an extraneous word (badly) in the clue, I didn't think hard enough about why it was there. That and JADA were my only problems (I thought Pinkett Smith was a first and last name, so I thought maybe it was some character she'd played). Oh, and SHIBA INU, but that was fairly crossed.

@Mark, it's Chinese cuisine, but it's in English. We say "lobster sauce" and "pork" too, but I doubt if they are Chinese words.

@Southside and others -- it's not that "waitress" is offensive, but that it's gendered. In the theater the acting women became actors, but in the restaurant trade they went a different direction. They tried "waitron" for a while, but that never took off, so server it is.

CDilly52 3:50 PM  

Thanks @CWT 2:09 AM for the EDDA-cation! I was so grateful to have learned this from a similarly well educated solver sometime in about 1970-71 when I was in college, solving alone, before I found my crossword gang (and ultimately my husband) at the T-Bird in Urbana, IL. I have learned so much from solvers over the last 60 years; it’s my favorite part of solving.

CDilly52 4:29 PM  

I echo the comments of @Lewis and @Nancy. Well said. I solved in near-Monday time. As the blocks filled in and I skated through, I thought “oh, a theme! Huh. I’m going to move on and come back later.” So I did. And it took a while to grok it, but the light bulb went on at NOBEL PRIZE and, like @Lewis, “Oho! No BEL!” This was new, clever and fun. I agree that however the ease was decided, it made the solve quick, but I do wish I had to struggle in-solve. I feel the ease of the puzzle doesn’t pay enough tribute to the artistry of our constructors. This is Gold Medal stuff 🥇!!!

fezzik 5:31 PM  

So I'm a lurker and new at this crossword thing. I have to say, I rarely finish a Thursday puzzle, but this one I cruised through and had to come here to have the theme explained to me.

Michael 6:16 PM  

When I saw the clue "Hawkeye State college town" I just knew it had to be Ames, especially since that's where Christina Iverson lives. The Hawkeye State college town where I live (Iowa City) is just not as crossword-friendly even though if is always my first thought with this clue. Though to be fair "Iowa" shows up a lot in puzzles being a four-letter word with letters in unusual position.

Anonymous 6:23 PM  

Gee! This constructor was treated with amazing kindness by this critical crowd. NOTOOSHABBY doesn’t work. Neither does NOBELPRIZE.

NOSEJOB is clever . Secretary is a job and there is no se to fill in the word. ( Can you imagine explaining this theme to someone of average intelligence in 15 minutes? I came away from the Rex version with my head spinning. )

bocamp 6:27 PM  

@fezzik (5:31 PM)

Welcome aboard! 😊
Peace 🕊 🇺🇦 ~ Compassion ~ Tolerance ~ Kindness ~ Freudenfreude & a DAP to all 👊 🙏

Sandy McCroskey 7:50 PM  

@Gill I. The clue is the word "secretary," which denotes a job, missing the letters SE. Therefore, it's a "no SE job." I'm guessing Jill did a different kind of job.

GILL I. 8:23 PM  

@Sandy McCroskey 7:50. Why gracias....I came back after several hours and the bell finally rang. Lordy I hate when the obvious is there and I can't see it....And yes, I'm pretty sure Jill did do another JOB ;-)

JC66 9:02 PM  


I know Ii's four letters, but does it begin with H or B? 😂

GILL I. 10:04 PM  

@JC...I can always count on you.......!!!!! HAH

Anonymous 11:34 PM  

The Kinks were “Lazin on a Sunday Afternoon “ long before Queen.

  © Free Blogger Templates Columnus by 2008

Back to TOP