Strong as an ox, in slang / THU 6-13-24 / Feeling intensified by social media, for short / A-2-3-4-5 straight, in poker slang/ Frontier figure / Line on a doodle, perhaps? / Benz follower / Gandhian form of protest

Thursday, June 13, 2024

Constructor: Kevin Curry

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: A "letteral" interpretation — all-cap clues contain parenthetical letters that must be read self-referentially (as homophones of those letters) in order to arrive at the answers. So [ALMIGHT(Y)] gives you the letter "Y" inside a word that can be a name for God, which is to say it gives you a "Y" in God's name ... which is the colloquial phrase the clue is looking for ("Why in God's name....!?"—though the actual answer retains the letter-for-homophone swap-out: Y IN GOD'S NAME)

Theme answers:
Word of the Day: PEEL (43A: Pizzeria implement) —
peel is a tool used by bakers to slide loaves of breadpizzaspastries, and other baked goods into and out of an oven. It is usually made of wood, with a flat surface for carrying the baked good and a handle extending from one side of that surface. Alternatively, the carrying surface may be made of sheet metal, which is attached to a wooden handle. Wood has the advantage that it does not become hot enough to burn the user's hands the way metal can, even if it is frequently in the oven. The word presumably derives from the French pelle, which describes both a peel and a shovel. // A peel's intended functions are to:
  • Transfer delicate breads, pastries, etc into an oven where transferring them directly by hand could deform their delicate structure.
  • Allow food to be placed further back in an oven than could normally be reached by the baker.
  • Keep the baker's hands out of the hottest part of an oven, or prevent the baker from burning their hands on the hot baked goods.

Prior to use, peels are often sprinkled with flourcornmeal, or milled wheat bran, to allow baked goods to easily slide onto and off them. (wikipedia)

• • •

Hey, wanna see the most crosswordiest opening two-word combo of all time?

Two answers in and I'm already stopped in my tracks going "Wait a minute? Is the whole puzzle gonna be like this? Is the puzzle doing a bit? Is this the theme? 'Words You Only Know 'Cause Of Crosswords'?" Anyway, I felt guilty for having these be gimmes, as it always feels kinda like cheating to just rack up answers that are pure crosswordese. Free traction ... but only for the initiated. Everyone else can f*** off! EKE is always hilarious to me. The puzzle EKEs so hard while the rest of the world merely manages, struggles, gets by. I would say I've never seen EKE outside crosswords, but I studied Middle English literature in grad school, where EKE is everywhere (meaning "also"). And honestly, I probably have heard it used this way ("EKE out a living") but not often, not anymore. EKE is like AKA's evil twin. Maybe not evil. Just ... less talented. I don't blink at EKE, normally. Just part of the crossword's background noise. But when the puzzle opens with the double-crossword-"E"-s like this, it's hard not to notice ... and not feel at least mild despair. 

The theme feels like something I've seen before. It made for an interesting challenge at times, which is what you want in a theme—that is, with a lot of themes, you get the trick, and then the rest of the themers become obvious. Transparent. But today, that somehow didn't happen. Not always, anyway. I OF THE HURRICANE was a cinch, but C OF HUMANITY was Not. After "Sea of Tranquility," I was out of ideas. The fact that the "sea" was metaphorical and the HUMANITY was metaphorical (or metonymical or synecdochal or whatever is going on in HUMANITY = "compassion") made that one rough, as did all the fill surrounding and crossing HUMANITY. ISLA not ISLE (42D: ___ Nublar, setting for "Jurassic Park"), and then that PILOT/PUP cross, yikes—had to work both those answers down to their last letters before I got that "Frontier" was referring to the airline (no idea that a baby mouse was a PUP). So the theme held some Thursday-appropriate level challenges, even after giving up its trick, but still, overall, the concept here was a little flat / simple, and the puzzle overall was (for a Thursday) "TOO easy" (60A: "___ easy!"). 

It's a tricky theme to describe precisely (sorry for the garbled explanation, above) because you have a kind of rebus puzzle for the clue and then you get answers that retain the letter-for-word swap in the answer. So you never arrive at an actual answer. The "B" is still "B" in the grid, not the word "Be." It's as if the answer is the clue and the clue is the answer, or like they are mutually cluey/answery. You only ever *hear* the familiar phrases, you never see them. Literal letter in the clue, letter-standing-for-homophone in the answer. Sometimes the literal meaning of the clue changes in the answer (e.g. pea pods are very different from whale pods), sometimes it doesn't (e.g. God stays God, a hurricane remains a hurricane). It's a theme that's easy to solve intuitively, but hard to describe succinctly. Hard for me, anyway. I don't think B IN TOUCH works because EMBRACE just isn't a good synonym for TOUCH. If you think those are the same, just think if a stranger did either one to you. I think you'd feel ... a difference. You could argue that an EMBRACE is a variety of touch, but then so is a punch. Far too loose, that TOUCH-EMBRACE connection, esp. considering how tight the others are (ALMIGHTY is a word for God, "Compassion" = HUMANITY, a HURRICANE is in fact a tropical storm, etc.).

Could've done without the bro-y vibe of poker slang (13D: A-2-3-4-5 straight, in poker slangWHEEL) coupled with gym slang (56D: Strong as an ox, in slangYOKED). When you're still running close to 80% male constructors, this stuff stands out. To me, anyway. There's not a woman in this puzzle. Even the Barbie answer was KENS, LOL. I knew YOKED but did not know WHEEL, which was one of only a few sticking points today. WHEEL / LOUIE was a cross where I knew neither answer, but could infer the "E" pretty easily. The crossword continues to operate from the premise that The Jungle Book is common knowledge. Do people still watch it? I don't think I've ever seen it. I know about its many characters only from crosswords.  I also didn't know ISH, which is insane, as I know mom read One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish to me as a child. Apparently the title is all I retained. I go to Paul & Sons Pizzeria at least twice a week and I have watched Paul pull umpteen pizzas out of his oven but I somehow never knew that the thing that he carries those pizzas to and from the oven on is called a PEEL!! PEEL, PUP, WHEEL, all new to me today. 

Puzzle notes:
  • 29A: Line on a doodle, perhaps? (LEASH) — "doodle" = short for Labradoodle (maybe there are other "doodles" but I'm cool just knowing about the one, thanks)
  • 5D: Benz follower (-ENE) — the third answer in what ended up being a "Crossword-Es" trifecta in the NW (ENOKI, EKE ... -ENE). Who doesn't like suffixes!? I wanted the "Benz follower" to be "O", as in "Benz-o," which I think is drug slang, but may also be Mercedes slang. Didn't Will Smith sing about Benzos in "Summertime"? Yes, yes he did.
  • 54D: Features of both cobras and Dodge Vipers (HOODS) — I had FANGS. HOODS is better (cobra hood, car hood)
  • 10D: Feeling intensified by social media, for short (FOMO) — got it with no crosses. I am both proud of and embarrassed by this.
See you next time.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Chris from LI 6:11 AM  

If Will Smith sang about a Benzo as a car, he only did so after NWA (Me and Lorenzo / Drivin' in a Benzo)

Anonymous 6:17 AM  

All themers were pretty easy except for bintouch which simply does not work.

Anonymous 6:20 AM  

i fear the jungle book IS common knowledge

Anonymous 6:32 AM  

“Douchebro vibe” seems a bit harsh to describe a poker term. It’s a game that’s been around for over 200 years now and has been a cultural mainstay for most of that time. Please don’t hold its most public recent practitioners against it!

WHEEL, in particular, is an older term from a time when hi-lo games were more popular. In some of those games, the wheel is best possible low hand and has a shot to be the best high hand, as well, thus potentially winning the whole pot. Hi-lo is less popular now though the term is still in use.

SouthsideJohnny 6:50 AM  

One of those themes that sailed over my head, but not for a lack of trying. I discerned that there was a relationship between the clues and the answers, and that the first letter was being carried over intact - unfortunately that’s as far as I got and the gimmick construct never hit me. Too bad, it might have been fun to have a go at it.

I’d rather struggle with something like “Australian open?” For GDAY MATE than have to decipher the theme entries anyway, so I just petered around the fringes getting what I could. ACTIN was more of a WoE for me than WHEEL. I’m older than dirt and still have no recollection of ever actually seeing Mel TORME - although I believe he was pretty much a household name when I was growing up in the dark ages (I.e. when people had black and white televisions). I wonder if his name still resonates with the under 50 cohort.

REV 6:53 AM  

Excellent write up for an almost impossible to describe theme. I came here precisely to see how on earth you’d tackle it. I also had a basically identical solving experience. Slowest Thursday in years.

The Jungle Book is truly excellent (Louie Prima as King Louie!). Although I imagine it might be problematic when watched today.

Wanderlust 6:57 AM  

A frustrating DNF for me because I was parsing BINTOU— as “be into” some three letter word that begins with U. Never heard of ACTIN or WHEEL as clued (I do play poker, but I’m not very bro-y). I thought LOUIE was probably right and if so, the straight was probably WHEEL, but the T of ACTIN could have been lots of letters, and B INTO U-H made no sense to me. I had to come here to get TOUCH. I agree that one didn’t work very well as a synonym.

But I liked all the others, especially Y IN GODS NAME. And there was some great cluing on non-themers, especially “Australian open” for GDAY MATE and “Padded piece of paper, perhaps” for RESUME. And I got fooled by the misdirect clues for OBGYN and PILOT.

Mostly good, except for the snafu in the NE.

JJ 7:00 AM  

It must be exhausting when you’re so easily offended. I thought this was a fun Thursday, and especially enjoyed YINGODSNAME, and the Australian Open. Thanks for a fun start to the day.

JJK 7:09 AM  

I enjoyed the theme but agree that BINTOUCH doesn’t work. Several WOEs for me in the fill, pretty much the same as for Rex - WHEEL, PIP, PEEL, PUP. But also a lot to like - ALIENLIFE, WAITITOUT, CSIeffect.

Gary Jugert 7:14 AM  

Self-indulgent administrative aside on the top here: Today is my two-year anniversary of uniclues. That's 730 days of miniature short stories. They're my little bundles of joy.

As for today's puzzle, I've woken up in a panic again and it's 2:30 am and this happens to me more often than I can admit so I open up the puzzle hoping to get my brain realigned and this was the perfect late night friend. So much fun to see this ramshackle theme galumphing all about being wise and funny and weird.

Faves: Two Nicks across the top -- one old, one ouch. Wrote in GDAYMATE off the GD gawldarn. [Line on a doodle]. [Padded piece of paper]. All good stuff.

I started to raise a stink about a pizzeria peel, but then I Go-ogle-d (as one should prior to most modern hissies) and then I was like, "Oh, that giant spatula is called a peel?! Huh. Who knew?" Thanks for making it word of the day 🦖. I learned something and plan to quiz my local beanie-wearing tattoo galleries at Cosmo's pizza down the street today at lunch.

Propers: 7
Places: 1
Products: 2
Partials: 10
Foreignisms: 1
Gary's Grid Gunk Gauge: 21 (27%)
Funnyisms: 9 🤣

Tee-Hee: CHAPS ... yee haw "cowboy." By the way, probably didn't make national news, but Lauren Boebert's husband was in court yesterday on allegations of beating up their son and he wore the dumbest, I mean the dumbest city slicker cowboy hat I've ever ever seen (and I grew up in Colorado, the epicenter of "Howdy Partner," where people actually wear those things without irony).


1 Facial scar from game winning goal in middle school.
2 Aristocratic aviator.
3 Note in poetry writing convention program.
4 Become bubbly Batman.
5 When they've been taken to your leader, but he's in a meeting.
6 Played Barbies nicely (or, tee-hee, Barbie got frisky with a couple of buddies).
7 What I see in the mirror on a good hair day.


My Fascinating Crossword Uniclue Keepsake from Last Year: Enterprising young man who takes people to Carnegie Hall at warp speed. TAXI DRIVER SULU.


thfenn 7:21 AM  

Enjoyed the theme. Kept thinking GDAYMATE should be part of it but not sure how - like (G)REETING maybe. Also don't really have EKE as purely crosswordese, as I actually use/see it outside of a puzzle. Some of the misdirects were fun, I learned that thing is a PEEL, and can pat (touch) myself on the back for breezing through a Thursday, so all good.

jb129 7:22 AM  

It's early - for me anyway - but I just want to say thank you @Andrew 7:26 pm Wednesday for sharing your tragic story about Nacho with me. And I'm so sorry. Getting another fur baby is not an option for me. It hurts too much to lose them (sorry, Rex, for taking up the space here about this).
So thank you, Andrew - a different side of you :)
Give little Miss Diva a kiss xxx for me.

DeeJay 7:27 AM  

The way I play hi-lo, the lowest hand is A-2-3-4-*6*.

The wheel is the lowest only in low-only games.

Conrad 7:31 AM  

Congrats and thanks, @Gary Jugert, on your two year Uniclue® anniversary!!

I had the same problem as @Rex: I "got" the theme but couldn't figure out how I would describe it. Luckily, unlike OFL I don't have to.

No overwrites, and the same WOEs as everyone else (ISLA at 42D, PUP at 48D, etc.), but add ACTIN (12D) and subtract PEEL (43A).

Bageleater 7:32 AM  

I may be wrong, but I believe there are women who play poker and work out in gyms. BINTOUCH, I agree with Rex.

Hal9000 7:32 AM  

I got the SW corner before I got the theme, which led to several frustrating minutes trying to use my limited Greek to figure out what “PSINOPODS” were.

pabloinnh 7:33 AM  

Randomly started in the SW when I knew HAIKU right away which begat KENS and before I knew it PSINAPOD appeared and there was the theme, and I thought, oh boy, because I really like this kind of thing. Mostly easy to decipher but I had OFL's struggle with COFHUMANITY, although I did know ISLA. Not PUP as clued, but PEEL was a gimme. Yay me.

Still working on my slangy answers--YOKED, WHEEL, even YES as clued. And ACTIN is always "Appear in a play". No need for anything else.

Really enjoyed this one, KC. Clever themes, some really great clues, and better than the last run of Thursdays by far. Keep Creating more like this please and thanks for all the fun.

kitshef 7:34 AM  

The 2016 remake of The Jungle Book is really good. Christopher Walken voices King Louie in that one. Crossword staple Idris Elba voices Shere Khan.

Twangster 7:40 AM  

Re eke: Whenever I see it in a crossword puzzle, in my head I hear the Randy Newman song "It's Money That Matters," which includes these lines:

All of these people are much brighter than I
In any fair system they would flourish and thrive
But they barely survive
They eke out a living, they barely survive

Lewis 7:55 AM  

It’s a complex theme, yet easy to grasp. Props to the creative mind that came up with this! I love the different levels of wordplay in the theme.

Some other things I loved:
• [Padded piece of paper, perhaps?] for RESUME. Hah! In all the major crossword venues over all the years, this answer has never been clued like this. Bravo!
• HEADER on the top row.
• GDAYMATE looking like a theme answer, but isn’t. I had a good time for a while trying to come up with a clue for it that would fit the theme, even though I was unsuccessful.
• That even though I grasped the theme, I still had to work to come up with each theme answer. (Hi, @Rex!)
• Five palindromes in the grid! (EKE, PIP, DID, PUP, ENE.)

I left the puzzle with two main thoughts, Kevin. One, that this was fun to fill out. And two, high respect to you for coming up with and expertly executing this theme. Just a splendid outing all over. Thank you so much for this!

EasyEd 8:35 AM  

Thought this a fun theme. After sussing out YINGODSNAME was on a happy hunt for more. Bummed that I could not get GDAYMATE even though I’ve used it myself with Australian friends. The freebie LID escaped me! Built everything else on one cross after the other, especially for WHEEL and PEEL, which could have been car related…

Bob Mills 8:35 AM  

I broke my promise to never comment on a Thursday puzzle, because this one was delightful, and fairly easy once the theme was apparent.

I picked up "Y in God's name"from ALMIGHT(Y) right away, and that helped with the other theme answers (as a theme should do). The clues for OBGYN, GDAYMATE, and PILOT were devious but clever. I agree that BINTOUCH didn't work well, because an embrace is far more than a mere touch..

smalltowndoc 8:41 AM  

I very much enjoyed this puzzle. One of my favorite Thursdays of the year, what with the rebus in the clue, reappearing (in a different manner) in the answer. In addition, cracking the theme is vital to get a foothold for the other themed answers. That’s what the best themes do.

I don’t take points off because of the presence of EKE and ENOKI. Both are "real" words, even if crosswordese. I mean, show me a themed crossword puzzle that is completely devoid of any crosswordese. Seriously.

And, tallying the number of masculine vs feminine "gendered" answers? In a crossword puzzle? Are you kidding me? Like that should have any impact on grading the quality of a XW puzzle? Efforts for gender equality in the NYTXW should be pursued via calls for more female constructors. Not whether the *words in the puzzle* are split evenly between genders. For crying out loud. In what column would you place gender neutral nouns, or those that are genderless or gender-fluid?

A nit-picking blogger just takes the fun out of what should be an entertaining morning read, discussing the puzzle, itself; the pros and cons of its construction and theme. Sometimes, Rex, I don’t know what’s eating you; what the real reason is behind an unreasonably captious blog post. My advice (take it or leave it) as someone whose profession requires literally dealing with life and death every day and who has time on this planet exceeds yours by at least 2 decades, is simply this: IT’S…JUST…A…CROSSWORD…PUZZLE.

Thank you for allowing me to post this rant (so others can ask, what’s really eating me!)

Anonymous 8:45 AM  

I hesitated a long time before entering READDS since I thought that using the word “add” in the clue for 31D would make it a dupe. So that was a tad annoying.

Tom T 8:55 AM  

Kind of surprising how often more than one answer in the daily puzzle is duplicated with an identical HDW (Hidden Diagonal Word); it happens again twice in today’s grid:

DNA (9D) has its twin diagonal DNA in the Northwest (beginning with the D in 1A, HEADER, and moving to the SE)--sorta/kinda double helix

And 34D, CUE, is duped in the Southeast, beginning with the C in 64A, UNCORK.

Speaking of Hidden Words, has anyone been playing the nyt game Strands, which is in Beta trials on the Times homepage each day, all the way down beneath the Wirecutter section? I find it almost insultingly easy … and I can’t resist doing it day in and day out! It must offer a connection to those Word Search puzzles on the kiddie placemats of my childhood.

RooMonster 9:09 AM  

Hey All !
Thursday ... OK, I can lawyer this into being a ThursPuz theme, but seems like it would be more apropos on Wednesday. Just sayin'. I know it irks some people when other people say puzs are on the wrong day. So if that's you, sorry for pressing that button.

Themers are actually pretty good. Got a smile or two as I uncovered/discovered them. Puz was tough in spots, ratcheting it up to Thursday clue level. PEEL was a definite WOE here. I've been to many pizza places, ate tons of pizza, haven't heard of the wooden pizza taker-in-er and taker-out-er thingie as a PEEL.
The things one learns doing crosswords.

Neat Theme. Have a great Thursday!

Three F's

Dan A 9:30 AM  

Fun puzzle. Great write-up Rex! I especially liked “It's as if the answer is the clue and the clue is the answer, or like they are mutually cluey/answery.” Sort of applied to Across/Down for HEADER, which got me wondering if there was ever a double crossword where one view is a crossword full of clues and the other is the associated crossword full of answers which you could use either way. E.g., blank the answer view then use the clue view to determine the answers according to matching across and down numbers, and vice versa?

Nancy 9:30 AM  

OPS are missions? Why?

Also fell victim to the Frontier trick. To make it even worse, I had ?u?OT at 48A because I had uM SURE at 49D. There have been so many UM-thisses and thats lately. Can you blame me?

Well, actually, you probably can.

I didn't know PUP either in that mouse context.

Is YOKED any relation to SWOLE? More just-entered-the language-five-minutes-ago slang I never heard of, but at least it was fairly crossed.

The theme was perfectly okay, if a little too forced for my taste. The high point for me was Y IN GOD'S NAME and the low point was PS IN A POD, which I read not as peas in a pod but as P.S in a pod.

And someone will please tell me why YES is the answer to "What's up?" YES? Thank you.

Anonymous 9:53 AM  

Are you offended by the offense?

Greater Fall River Committee for Peace & Justice 10:01 AM  

The Jungle Book is a book of related stories by Rudyard Kipling. I read it many times when I was maybe 8 or 9 (in a book beautifully illustrated by Fritz Eichenberg which I still have on my shelf). I don't remember there being a king, all the important characters except for Mowgli the wolf-boy were animals. It said that later on he became a man and married, but that is a story for grown-ups.

Benbini 10:03 AM  

Most of my time was spent in the Northeast with the yes very Bro-y "WHEEL", along with the obscure ACTIN and LOUIE. I found BINTOUCH to be tighter than CINHUMANITY (even though the latter was way easier to figure out); the semantic link between "sea of humanity" and "compassion" seems weaker than that between "be in touch" and EMBRACE, since embracing someone *requires* being physically in touch with them.

Anonymous 10:16 AM  

King Louie is an orangutan

Anonymous 10:22 AM  

yes/what's up makes no sense to me either

Anonymous 10:22 AM  

Ace is high

Anonymous 10:47 AM  

Thank you doc and amen to that!

beverly c 10:48 AM  

@Greater Falls River.. I also came to point out that The Jungle Book is a book. I read it too long ago to remember all the characters.

Re Yolked - Oxen are yolked, so it popped right in. If it had said “Controlled, as oxen” the answer would have worked without the slang definition - which is new to me.

I knew FOMO but could only think of “fear” until more crosses came in.
My wooden cutting board works as a pizza PEEL…

I enjoyed the theme. 9 Funnyisms and only 27% on GGGG is excellent IMHO.

Anonymous 10:55 AM  

When you see someone who looks like they want to say something, but don’t, you might say “yes?” instead of “what’s on your mind?” or “what’s up?”.

mathgent 10:56 AM  

It was fun figuring out the themers, but a few things didn't click.

GDAYMATE is an Australian open? "Open" is short for "opening"?

"Compassion" is a "sea of humanity"?

And, of course, the 25 threes. Not a witty clue in the whole dumpsterful.'

On another topic, I failed at Connections yesterday because I didn't know that DUMBO is a neighborhood in Brooklyn. Is that well known to Eastcoasters?

Carola 10:58 AM  

A good Thursday! A clever theme with a pattern that was easy to understand but still required some thinking for the individual answers, especially the standout Y IN GOD'S NAME. The puzzle wasn't easy for me, though: I thought the NE was going to sink me - but I survived thanks to guessing ACTIN and LOUIE and doing an alphabet run for WHEEL x FLAW. Plenty of other stumbling blocks, too, thanks to clues like Line on a doodle or the Padded piece of paper or the Frontier figure - fun to get those!

Do-over: I'M Sold before SURE. No idea: WHEEL, ACTIN, LOUIE, YOKED. Small moment of triumph: G'DAY MATE with no crosses.

kitshef 11:12 AM  

King Louie was not in the Kipling work, but an invention by Disney.

Minnie 11:12 AM  

How much do baby mice weigh?

The young are called pups and they weigh 0.5 – 1.5g at birth. They are born hairless and have closed eyelids and ears.

jae 11:15 AM  

Medium. The toughest section was the NE where LOUIE (I read The Jungle Book many decades ago but have no memory of this character) and ACTIN were WOEs and FLAW, WHEEL, and LUAUS did not come easily.

…I just checked after reading @Rex and King LOUIE was not in the Kipling original, so my non-memory is correct.

Me too for PEEL, YOKED, ISH, and NED being WOEs as clued.

Clever and fun, liked it.

Anonymous 11:18 AM  

Easy Pee(l)zy

LewS 11:29 AM  

SNL SKITS didn’t come easily; was thinking about the “real” Celebrity Jeopardy.

GDAYMATE was confusing because the GD wasn’t clued like the ALL-CAPS clues and didn’t have LID or FOMO yet.

Otherwise, a fun slightly challenging Thursday.

Haven’t had a rebus in a few weeks.

NNG 11:31 AM  

Congratulations on your anniversary. I look forward to your uniclues every day, and almost every day I LOL.

Masked and Anonymous 11:47 AM  

Cool puztheme. If the theme itself wasn't ThursPuz-tough, the dern clues and no-know answers gave this rodeo the boost into Thurs-feistiness that it needed.

Got into the NE with no problem, thanx to the weejects dwellin there: EKE. DID. ENE. Then got READDS immediately, followed by NOIDEA, ONLINE, HONEY, ENOKI, HEADER, ALIENLIFE and then ... the first themer became clear to m&e, at YINGODSNAME. Smoooth sailin, so far. But …

Next came the NW. Again, thanx to the nice plentiful servin of weejects, got DNA, OLD, LID. GDAYMATE was then pretty easy tp pick off, and its Y pretty much settled which 16-D prez they were talkin about, for TYLER. Cuz AYAMS, GYANT, and OYAMA just didn't look quite right. Would not even consider votin for TYUMP, btw.

After some hefty nanosecond sacrifices, M&A successfully eye-balled BINT???? until BINTOBOX was ruled out, and themer BINTOUCH finally fell, with a crucial hint from gettin LUAUS & [sneakily clued] OBGYN enroute. Then ...

T in the RUBBLE! [trouble]. FOMO/ACTIN/WHEEL/LOUIE. A nice, nanosecond-clobberin hassle-passel of no-knows. Definitely the hardest part of the puz, at our house. Well, also ...

"PEEL?!!?" M&A thought out loud [scarin the budgie], even after fillin it all in. Now there's a primo-sadistic slant on a clue for a common word.

staff weeject pick: PUP. Another toughie clue for a cute little runt doggie.

Thanx for the challenge & fun, Mr. Curry dude. Good job. It had a lot of alien life to it.

Masked & Anonymo8Us


GILL I. 12:05 PM  

So who doesn't know a YIN GOD or a BIN TOUCH? I raise my hand....Good gravy, where am I going! So I leave my HEADER and head south to C if I can figure this one out. I stared at that group of humpbacks, look at the double P's and actually let out a little squeal of delight. PS IN A POD! I was initially so off the course, that I had to sit this out for a while. I did.

I began to think that Kevin and I were on two very different ISLAs. His was Jurassic and mine was ENOKI EKE. Then I thought he probably likes one of the IPA Beers, while I like a good Lodi Zin. Shake the dust off, get off the bar stool, don't fall on your rear and put on you big girl pants. I did.

Go back to my HEADER and see if I can get the rest. GDAY MATE gave me the OBGYN and the TYLER and the LUAUS and BIN TOUCH was born. Oh, look....Start with a B because you're going to B IN TOUCH. Clever.

I OF THE HURRICANE came in easily and so the middle of the puzzle was born. Try to finish up all the surround sounds and hope you know those answers. It took some time, yes it did...but I managed to finish with several cheats: PUP IMSURE. I needed you - badly....How was I ever going to C HUMANITY without you.? I met my ALTER EGO......Et voila...mission accomplished. Quite clever.

@Gary J...two years? I think I started my Monday sillies around that time as well. Aren't we sumpin!

kitshef 12:07 PM  

@Nancy 9:30 - OPS is short for 'operations', as in military operations.

@Mathgent 10:56 - "compassion" is mapping not to "sea of humanity" but just to "humanity".

egsforbreakfast 12:13 PM  

(answers below)

Even after putting together these examples, I find that it would take a long and cumbersome explanation to tell someone how this works. Maybe I'll just go with the Potter Stuart obscenity test: "I know it when I see it." Wonderful theme, Kevin Curry. Thanks.

Es of reference
A part of life
Ks of fatigue.

jberg 12:22 PM  

What I learned today -- either Rex has never been to the supermarket, or if he did he avoided the produce aisle, where you can see ENOKI mushrooms outside of crosswords. You see them on restaurant menus as well, actually, they were all the rage a few years ago.

The theme was fine -- a clue doesn't have to fit all senses of a word, only one of them, so I was fine with EMBRACE me.

I've never seen the Disney movie, and was wondering why his version was specified in the clue; it slowly dawned on me that there's no king in Kipling. I had hesitated over LOUIE, because surely Kipling would have spelled it LOUIs.

The most fun, other than grokking the theme, was seeing PEE_ for an implement and confidently putting in PEEn, then wondering why they would be hammering a pizza. D'oh!

@mathgent -- some time around the 1970s New Yorkers took to calling the area "SOuth of HOuston Street" SOHO. A year or two later they added TRIBECA for the TRIangle BElow CAnal Street. Then it became a trend, with every local business district picking a clever acronym. It has spread to Boston, where we have SOWA for SOuth of WAshington Street. DUMBO stands for Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass, a bit of a stretch IMO.

@Nancy, OPS is Operations, as in Operation Overlord, the D-Day landing. Not exactly the same as a mission, but hey, this is crosswords.

Oh yeah, I learned something else, that there is an EARL of Forfar. According to Wikipedia the title had been struck from the peerage in 1661, but was revived in 2019 so that Edward's wife would have a title to use whenever she was in Scotland. Something to ponder.

mathgent 12:30 PM  

@kitshef (12:07). Thanks, you're right.i

relicofthe60s 12:30 PM  

Lots of women play poker, and some of the best pros are women, so I don’t see why it’s any more “bro-y” than, say, rap. I knew WHEEL, but I did wonder how well known it would to people who don’t play. Fun fact: a 5-high straight flush is known as a steel wheel.

mathgent 12:33 PM  

@kitshef (12:07). Thanks. You're right.

Doctor Work 12:57 PM  

"Yes" being equivalent to "what's up" is a stretch, but it's plausible. Imagine you are working at your desk and a coworker walks up and clearly wants to ask you something. You might say "What's up?" or you might say "Yes?" or perhaps "Yeeeees?" if it's the third time in an hour that he stopped by, but you could say a hundred other things, too.

Daveyhead 1:09 PM  

I have seen EKE used in news stories (mostly sports) and as often as not is spelled as EEK which always makes me laugh

jb129 1:25 PM  

Wow - I'm surprised this didn't totally stump me from the start. I pushed on & enjoyed it. Very clever. I struggled with BINTOUCH, YINGODSNAME, ISLA & LOUIE but I was stuck with it because until I got it b/c it was pretty creative.
I really liked OBGYNS 7D and RESUME 68A.
Thanks for forcing me to be proud of myself, Kevin :)

jb129 1:29 PM  

Yes, @Gary Jugert - congrats on your 2 year anniversary of uniclues. I often wake up in a panic - mainly because then I know I won't fall back to sleep which is why I got such a late start today, but I'm here (again) now :)

Anonymous 1:56 PM  

Rex Parker - King of crosswords ekes out a side hustle. that's the lede.

Anonymous 1:58 PM  

I usually lurk, but I had to pop in to say that SNL SKETCHES is the correct terminology. That form of comedy is called “sketch comedy” not “skit comedy.” SKITS are something you do at a summer camp. Otherwise I thought the puzzle was okay.

johnk 2:15 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
johnk 2:38 PM  

EasyISH except for the NE, which was FLAWed by 3 complete unknowns to most solvers (e.g., moi). That corner could have been EDITED to CLAW/COMO and the usual clue for ACT IN.

PEEL was inferable, fortunately. Never seen PACK ON -- ever. I first had UAR instead of UAE and wondered how that mangy CUR got in there.

As Rex points out, no women in the grid -- except perhaps GOD. Oh, and HONEY (It's been a while since we've seen her or Duke in Doonesbury).

elaine2 3:29 PM  

Sorry, Rex, that you have never had enoki mushrooms. They are quite tasty.

It's too bad that to most people, The Jungle Book means those awful Disney movies. Go read the books.

Suellen 3:36 PM  

Loved this puzzle! I thought Rex would like it too because the them was consistently applied rebus!

Anoa Bob 4:25 PM  

I had mixed feelings about the theme. I thought PS IN A POD really stuck the landing and B IN TOUCH and Y IN GODS NAME were winners. Maybe it's my misanthropy at play but I definitely don't equate COMPASSION and HUMANITY, so that one didn't work for me and brought out a cynical "Oh yeah, sure, right, uh-huh".

The one that I really gave the side eye to was 39A I OF THE HURRICANE clued as "TROP(I)CAL STORM". I live near the coast of the Gulf of Mexico in an area sometimes called "HURRICANE Alley" and I have lived through both and, believe me, a HURRICANE and a TROPICAL STORM are not the same thing. Here's this from definitions [my emphasis]: Tropical Storm: A tropical cyclone that has maximum sustained surface winds ranging from 39-73 mph (34 to 63 knots). Hurricane: A tropical cyclone that has maximum sustained surface winds of 74 mph or greater (64 knots or greater).

Just last night I was watching an episode of The World Poker Tour Women's Tournament. Tonight I play in a long-running local game where three of the regulars are women. Poker can be equally exciting, entertaining, challenging, frustrating and maddeningly exasperating without regard to ethnicity, gender identification, age, or any other demographic variable. Nothing bro-y about it.

Anonymous 4:52 PM  

Hurricanes and tropical storms are not the same thing. The theme answers could have been clued better. And as Zachary David Levy points out over at crosswordfiend, the lone letters should spell out something. This one could have been better.

Anonymous 5:07 PM  


Les S. More 5:38 PM  

Nice concept. I picked it up at 39A IOFTHEHURRICANE but still had trouble parsing some of the other themers. YINGODSNAME was particularly tough because I am not a religious person so I don't instantly equate "almighty" with the big bearded guy in the sky. Eventually it dawned on me that other people do and I worked that section out.

I knew PEEL. Yay, I'm so smart.

I had no trouble with Vipers at 54D because I used to know a guy who owned one of those overpowered but badly engineered monstrosities. I read the comments to see just how loudly @Nancy would scream about this damned car clue but there was nothing. She must have got it from the crosses.

RESUME at 66A was really good but was negated by the awful YOKED at 56D. Some answers were just too obvious - 61A, 64A, and 36D come to mind but, overall, I had fun with one. Original (at least to me) is always kind of nice.

Anonymous 6:48 PM  

That varies widely by game. There are A-5, 2-7 and even occasionally A-6 lowball and hi/lo variants.

Jesse 7:24 PM  

Love the uniclues. Keep up the great work!

puzzlehoarder 7:31 PM  

I've actually been doing the last few Thursdays but until this one I couldn't work up the interest in commenting. This was difficult in all sections for me because I fell for just about every clue you could fall for. A couple of dyslexic write overs didn't help either. EONKI/ ENOKI wasn't too hard to spot. I attribute that to filling it from the bottom up. DYI/DIY was much more insidious I must have been thinking FYI. All was fixed in the end and I finished with a congrats.

I'm surprised how unfamiliar I am with ACTIN. However as far as I can tell it's never appeared in the SB.

yd -0. QB60

Dorkito Supremo 7:36 PM  

It's been said here before that crossword clues are "clues," not "definitions."

Anonymous 7:39 PM  

What is FOMO?

JC66 7:57 PM  

@Anon 7:39

Fear Of Missing Out.

Georgia 10:16 PM  

Fear of missing out.

Anonymous 5:39 PM  

@Nancy at 9:30 a.m. asked why Missions could clue Ops.

In military jargon, an OPeration (with a Strategic objective) could require one or more units to conduct one or more Missions (usually on the Tactical level).
Civilians don't understand the nuance, and computer games and spy novels confuse things by referring to Black Ops to achieve tactical ends.


Taylor 8:25 AM  

Pretty easy for the most part but got a little stuck in the NE corner. Didn’t know the answer for 12 and 13 down.

Anonymous 3:17 PM  

No one has mentioned “CSI effect,” so I guess it’s a standard part of the vocabulary now. I’ve never heard of it before, but I knew exactly what to put from the clue.

Joel Rosenberg 3:57 PM  

Just a bit of linguistic pedantry here: 'EKE" meaning "also" is etymologically related to the German word "auch," meaning "also." To "EKE out" is to add, to expand, to fill out.

My overall question to Rex, stemming from this, is: why are words that are only used in crosswords offensive? I understand about the objection to banal fill, but does every word have to be one that people use all the time? The whole point of crosseords, for me, is to test knowledge of words, often obscure words. I have the same concern about the objection to older-generation meanings. I'm part of that older generation, and thus often feel stigmatized in Rex columns for my age. Why not celebrate a crossword's richness and variety for its own sake? Rex, you so often come up with alternative answers that don't fit the number of squares allocated for them. Should I be so gauche as to draw that to your attention? Anyhow, I so often enjoy your commentaries, as well as the pop-out scenes from movies, songs, and other animated lore that accompany them. But I often close out of Rex complaints and petty objections. In some ways, that's like bad fill for me. Give it some thought.

Anonymous 10:09 AM  

Really good except for the last gimmick. PSINAPOD has PS = Peas which is an outlier because it uses two letters as opposed to all the other first letter gimmicks which use only one. The editors should have nixed that one.

spacecraft 12:28 PM  

Well well. OFNP does my rant job for me. EKE was, regrettably, my first word into this puzzle, costing an immediate penalty stroke.

It didn't play easy-medium for me. The clues were sometimes really sideways. Still wondering about the mini mouse called PUP. And...READDS?

The theme was gettable enough; it was some of the fill that gave pause. Who knew a broad spatula would be called a PEEL?

Fortunately, I was able to WAITITOUT and finish. Medium-challenging. Par.

Wordle birdie. Answer was almost my eagle guess, but it seemed too...nerdy.

Waxy in Montreal 1:58 PM  

NE corner was FLAWed in my opinion. As mentioned by OFL, BINTOUCH and an embrace are hardly the same while I have NOIDEA YINGODSNAME ACTIN and WHEEL were clued so obscurely.

However, the rest of the puzzle was - in tribute to the late and great Mr. Tormé - a Velvet Fog.

Diana, LIW 5:15 PM  

Whilst I, too, was new to the appeal of PEEL, I thought the trick-of-the-day was quite clever. And on Thursday, when a rebus does not show up, what's not to like?

Diana, LIW

Anonymous 5:58 PM  

Fun Thursday gimmick.
When I saw the 8D clue, I thought, uh oh, multiple letters in a square, because when I've seen that clue before, the answer has been wifi, and there were only 3 squares for the answer.
I was surprised so many on here didn't know the pizza peel.
Rex, you insulted female poker players just because wheel wasn't in your wheelhouse.
Actin was way back in my memory, either from freshman biology, or sophomore chemistry, maybe both.

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