Jan 8, 2021

Friday, January 8, 2021, Dylan Schiff and Mark McClain

Theme: Are you betting the OVER or the UNDER?

Hello Cornerites! Chairman Moe here blogging his second 2021 Friday puzzle, after swapping with Lemonade last month. Beginning the 15 January, Jason and I will go back to alternating Fridays.

Adding this to my blog @ 3:00 pm EST****SPOILER ALERT****

In case it wasn’t obvious, we bloggers get our puzzles days in advance of the actual publish date. So, I had this blog prepared, edited, and ready to publish on Tuesday of this week.

In the case of today’s puzzle, the “on-line” version that I solved and recapped was different than what appeared today on other websites and in print edition, with reference to both the clues and their clue numbers. My version used the clue “ - - - “, and assigned it a number, in all of the four entries. And in my Arizona Republic print edition it did not do this. I have no idea why.

The blog recap goes live @3:00 am EST. I didn’t realize the confusion between the answers I got ahead of time (and how, actually, they were numbered) and what many of you saw today. In a lot of cases the clues and numbers didn’t match. It would take a whole lot of editing to correct this now. To no fault of the constructor nor the blogger, this occurred. All I can do is to say I wish we didn’t have this confusion.

Hope this explains it ... for those of you just now about to read the recap ...


How interesting and coincidental that the collaborator of today's puzzle, Mark McClain, is someone with whom I began chatting, regarding xword puzzles, late last year. Dylan and Mark threw a doozy at us for the second of five January Friday editions. And in my best Husker Gary impression, I emailed Mark to ask him about the puzzle. I think his words capture so much more than I could offer ... and I did "resolve" to post shorter blogs in 2021!! But for what it's worth, the OVER/UNDER for reading today's blog is 30 minutes ...

Chris, Thanks very much for reaching out! Glad to chime in on this puzzle.

First and foremost, the theme idea was all Dylan's. We "met" through the Facebook "collaboration" group this past July, and I offered to collaborate with him on the puzzle because he was having a bit of trouble molding this excellent theme idea into a finished puzzle. The theme is more like a Schrödinger puzzle in that the theme entries have two possible answers which are both correct. However, unlike the traditional Schrödinger puzzle, the solver doesn't have to decide which is correct, because both answers are there. So, not quite like a rebus, which typically has something other than a single letter in a square.

I believe this may be Dylan's first published puzzle, though he told me that he had received an approval from another venue while we were working on this, but that one hasn't been published yet. Coincidentally, my first published puzzle was in LA Times, just over six years ago (this one will be number 50-something for me in LA Times).

The key to this theme is that you have a word that, if a letter somewhere near the middle is changed, becomes different word. That per se is commonplace, but the difficulty is finding such a pair of words that can have the identical clue in a crossword. That's rare, and it was really tough finding four such words.

I'm fully aware that one of the main reasons that solvers dislike a puzzle is because it turns out to be harder for them than they thought it should be. This is especially true of solvers who track their solving times (which I don't). There is also a body of solvers who just don't like really gimmicky themes, of which this puzzle is decidedly an example. So, I will not at all be surprised if there are some complaints from the crowd on this one. Most of the solo puzzles I'm doing nowadays are in the "easy" category with straightforward themes and clues. In LA Times I've had more Mondays and Tuesdays than any other day. But I have had several Fridays, mostly add/drop/switch letter themes.

Will look forward to reading your comments, and those of the "Corner" crowd.


Mark McClain

The Grid:

OK, so Chairman Moe wasn't too far off from the theme. When I sent Mark MY email, I had correctly identified the unifier: 38-Across. Sports bet based on total points scored ... or a hint to answering four puzzle clues: OVER / UNDER. And while at first the concept was not very clear, once the puzzle was completed, it was pretty obvious. The 8 circled letters were all positioned OVER/UNDER the "entries", as the following clues suggest:

20-Across. Source of some TV content: MINIS 22-Across "---": RIES. The circled "E" and "T" letters above and below the black/block square separating these two answers, can be inserted into that square to make two different meanings for the same starting clue: MINI-SERIES vs MINISTRIES. Both are the source of TV Content, as pictured below:

One of the first Mini-Series (debuted in 1977), and one of the first Ministries shown on TV (1952, I think; year before I was born):

Blogger's note: I was at first "puzzled" by the use of the clue, "- - -". So I asked Mark, what up? And he replied:

That business of the "- - -" clue is pretty standard for this theme gimmick (themer is spread across two words separated by a block, with only the first one being clued). It's a red flag to solver that something is fishy.

26-Across. Genetic connection: LIN 28-Across ---: AGE. The circled "K" and "E" make the words "LINKAGE" and "LINEAGE",, both of which are "genetic connections". Of course, when seeing the circled K I thought of:

52-Across. Impediment to walking down a hallway: CLU 53-Across ---: TER. Add the circled "T" and "S" and you get "CLUTTER" and "CLUSTER". After seeing 55-Across. Bleeping editor: CENSOR, I wondered if that person would've censored this popular military expression:

58-Across. Recommendation for better health: MEDI 61-Across.---: ATION. The circled "C" and "T" make the words "MEDICATION" and "MEDITATION" fit the clue for ways to better health. My three MEDICATIONS all fall into either Tier 1 or Tier 2, so my Medicare Advantage Plan charges me a $0.00 co-pay. My partner enjoys doing a daily MEDITATION to provide an inner calmness; I swear it's to help her live with Chairman Moe ...!

Let's see how the rest of the puzzle developed ...

1. Architectural recess: APSE. Crossword-ese #1

5. Good enough: OKAY. Crossword-ese #2; although the past tense for this could be either OKD for a 3-letter fill, or OKAYED for a 6-letter space. And sorta related to 16-Down, Green lights: YESES.

9. Grad: ALUM. Is this a spice/food additive only used by Grad's?

13. "A New Day Has Come" singer: DION.

14. Like Erté's art: DECO. Romain de Tirtoff (23 November 1892 – 21 April 1990) was a Russian-born French artist and designer known by the pseudonym Erté

15. Compensate: REPAY. Moe-ku #1:

When Popeye's buddy
Promised to REPAY, he used
A Wimpy "gif" card

17. Full of anticipation: AGOG. Word of the day!

18. Subject to being wiped out: ERADICABLE. This would've been the word of the day ... but AGOG eradicated it from my list ...

23. Kardashian matriarch: KRIS. Kristen Mary (née Houghton), born 11-5-1955; the former Mrs. Robert Kardashian and Mrs. Bruce Jenner (now Caitlyn), and mother to Kourtney, Kim, Klohe, Robert, Kendall, and Kylie. How did Robert (her son) miss out on having a name beginning with the letter "K"?

24. "We __ alone": ARE NOT. Perhaps?

29. Bridge protectors: NOSE PADS. Ahh, THAT bridge! NOSE PADS are the little doo-hickeys that the opticians always have to adjust on my eyeglasses

32. Promotional giveaways: TIE-INS. This one stumped me at first; not sure what exactly I pencilled in, but I was thinking more along the lines of spiffs ... Mark, was this your or Dylan's clue, or did Rich edit it?

34. Explosive initials: TNT. Crossword-ese #3

35. "Bob's Burgers" sibling: TINA. This was "either you know it, or you don't". I didn't. Never heard of the TV animated sit-com, but after doing a brief internet check, I found that TINA is indeed one of the siblings. The show centers on the Belcher family — which consists of Bob, his wife Linda, and their children TINA, Gene, and Louise. TINA, a shy awkward "tween" is voiced by actor Dan Mintz. Here's a clip:

37. Fellows: LADS. Short for Laddies

41. Chamonix peak: ALPE. Not to be confused with a "Chow-Chow" treat --> ALPO! But Chamonix (as shortened from Chamonix-Mont Blanc) is quite spectacular

43. Retro ski resort sight: T-BAR. Ray-O-Sunshine, you're up!!

44. Inexact no.: EST. abbreviation for ESTimate. I think this was my reply when I searched how much it would cost to replace a light bulb in my car ...

47. Like a busy chimney sweep's clothes: SOOTED. Moe-ku #2:

Dick Van Dyke's role as
Bert (Mary Poppins). He was
Well-SOOTED for it
49. Collide with: SLAM INTO. One of my favorite carnival/State Fair rides

56. Hawkeye State campus town: AMES. A bit of misdirection here, as AMES is the home of Iowa State University of the Big 12 College Athletic Conference (nickname the "Cyclones"), while the University of Iowa (nickname the "Hawkeyes") play in the Big TEN Athletic Conference. Iowa - as the entire "state" - is also nicknamed "Hawkeye" ... BTW, Moe did all of that without any internet help!! ;^) But my favorite AMES reference is shown in the clip below:

62. Evil fairy played by Angelina Jolie: MALEFICENT. Including a "haunting" song from decades ago in its Soundtrack

65. Kurylenko of "Quantum of Solace": OLGA. OLGA Konstiantinivna Kurylenko born November 14, 1979. 41-yr old Ukraine born, French actor. Former "Bond" girl.

Some interesting similarities to one of C-Moe's offspring: OLGA's birthdate and my son's are exactly one day apart; she is 5'9" tall and so is he; she had COVID-19 virus in 2020 and so did he; she is single and so is he; her net worth is $18M and . . .

66. In a heap: PILED. I think it's laundry day . . .

67. Bravo preceder: ALFA. Was I the only solver who was trying to parse a four-letter word for "encore"? Oh, it's that Bravo. ALFA, BRAVO, CHARLIE, DELTA, ECHO, FOXTROT, GOLF, HOTEL, INDIA, ...

68. It's not optional: NEED. We NEED air to breathe; it's not optional. Unlike 38-Down, Go (for): OPT, where it's a choice

69. Tibetan honorific: LAMA. As in the Dalai LAMA. LAMA in this song by the Edsels is pronounced differently ...

70. Alka-Seltzer jingle word: PLOP. "PLOP PLOP, fizz fizz, oh what a relief it is ..."

71. International gas brand: ESSO. Crossword-ese #4 ... was about to give a CSO just to Canadian "Eh" until Dylan and Mark clued it "International"

1. Hardheaded: ADAMANT. I am ADAMANT about squeezing as much info into these blogs as I possibly can! So much for my New Years Resolution?!

2. Blast furnace output: PIG IRON. Not this; "fore!"

3. With the least delay: SOONEST. Another word with "EST" in it, but I guess that's acceptable

4. Word with steam or fire: ENGINE. In 1698 Thomas Savery patented a pump with hand-operated valves to raise water from mines by suction produced by condensing steam. In about 1712 another Englishman, Thomas Newcomen, developed a more efficient steam ENGINE with a piston separating the condensing steam from the water. Thomas Lote built the first fire ENGINE made in America in 1743. These earliest engines are called hand tubs because they are manually (hand) powered and the water was supplied by a bucket brigade dumping it into a tub (cistern) where the pump had a permanent intake pipe.

5. Many a poem by Sharon Olds: ODE. Sharon Olds (born November 19, 1942) is an American poet.

6. NBA coach Steve: KERR. His biography courtesy of Wikipedia

7. Amazon berry: ACAI. Crossword-ese #5

8. Alpine song: YODEL.

9. Continuing story line: ARC. OK, perps solved this for me as the clue did not immediately make me think of ARC. But the third definition listed does say this: "(in a novel, play, or movie) the development or resolution of the narrative or principal theme". Friday clue

10. Source of inside info, perhaps: LEAK. OK, this might violate our blog's "no politics" position, but it certainly fits the clue and is historical

11. Criticize severely: UPBRAID. As in, TTP might UPBRAID C Moe for posting something political! Hopefully not

12. Casts in a bad light: MALIGNS. MALIGNS after UPBRAID? Hmm ... we need some cheery clues and fill soon for Moe

19. "You sure of that?": IS IT?.

21. Soak (up): SOP. I love using a piece of bread to SOP up the gravy on my plate

25. Thames gallery: TATE. The TATE museum is located on the River Thames

27. African river to the Mediterranean: NILE. Home of Cleo's asp?

30. Topsoil: DIRT. Moe-ku #3:
To heck with the soil,
I want to know more! Please Moe,
Just give me the DIRT

31. Treats with disdain: SNUBS. Let's hope that we don't have too many SNUBS show up - in their "anonymous" posts - to pan today's puzzle or the constructors

33. Hammer home?: EAR. LOL! Brilliant clue! This hammer's home:

36. Uptight: ANAL.

39. Nair rival that originally had "N" as its first letter: VEET. If I hadn't looked up the image I would've never guessed . . . although using this product is not something with which I am too familiar! The "back story" is that VEET was the brand name internationally, and NEET was the brand name in Canada and the U.S. In 2002 the name VEET became universal

40. Horror icon, for short: DRAC. As in short for Count DRACula

41. Web service since 1993: AOL MAIL. This was one of the clues/fills that I felt was "forced". I think we are all familiar with AOL as a Web Service; the MAIL part seemed redundant. Sorry, Mark

42. Parsons of old Hollywood gossip: LOUELLA. Louella Parsons (born Louella Rose Oettinger; August 6, 1881 – December 9, 1972) was an American movie columnist and a screenwriter.

44. Stores on a farm: ENSILES. As to put grains into a SILO

45. Trio in funny shorts: STOOGES. A CSO to yours truly! One of my favorite clips which uses dialog referring to the "TRIO" is in this link, and happens around the 1:00 minute mark as well as at the end. Classic Three STOOGES

46. Storm often chased: TORNADO. This 1996 movie brought the term "Storm Chasers" to the fore

47. Mischief-maker: SCAMP. Moe-ku #4:
A Disney Remake
About a mischief-maker?
Lady and the SCAMP

48. "Sorry Not Sorry" singer Lovato: DEMI. Demetria Devonne Lovato, born August 20, 1992 in Albuquerque, NM, is the daughter of a former Dallas Cowboys cheerleader. Here is her song:

50. "Give __ break!": ME A. C'mon Moe! I can't spend a half hour reading your blog. Give ME A break!!

51. Chant: INTONE. Technically, a recitation where the pitch of ones voice neither rises nor falls

54. Summarize: RECAP. THIS! My RECAP of today's puzzle!

57. Come across as: SEEM. Does this RECAP SEEM too lengthy?

59. Inspiron maker: DELL. Moe-ku #5:
An Insurance APP
On ones laptop might be called:
"Farmer's in the DELL"

60. Lowdown: INFO. Just the facts; just the INFO, Moe

63. HHS agency: FDA. The United States Department of Health & Human Services was a re-naming of the Department of Health Education and Welfare in 1979. The The United States Food and Drug Administration, or FDA, is one of its branches, and is headquartered in White Oak, MD

64. Touchscreen touch: TAP. TAP, TAP, TAP, are the sounds of many fingers of our readers today, as they patiently wait for this blog to end!

Thoughts? Comments? See you in a couple of weeks ...


OwenKL said...

I inspected family trees to find a likely LINKAGE
To some famous person I could claim was in my LINEAGE.
I went way back,
So far, in fact,
I found a cousin 'rangutan in a monkey cage!

To cure my stress my doctor said to take some MEDICATION.
That didn't work, my guru said to try some MEDITATION.
That didn't work.
The mail room clerk
Revealed the way to end my stress -- to take a long vacation!

{A-, A.}

desper-otto said...

Good morning!

New Year's Resolution: Gotta learn to read the complete clues. Only got as far as "Nair rival" and inked in NEET. Then scratched my head at what a ONE RUNDER could be. I did finally latch onto the theme, but left that pesky N in place. Rats. Another DNF for 2021. Clever theme. It was an enjoyable exercise, so thanx Dylan, Mark, and C-Moe.

NOSE PADS: When I went to the optometrist for an eye exam, his assistant noted that I had a missing NOSE PAD on my old glasses. I hadn't noticed.

ALUM: Potassium aluminum sulfate. That's the primary ingredient of a styptic pencil. Cheap to make, so why do styptic pencils cost about $2 a pop? Back in my ute we sold 'em for 25¢ at the Rexall drug store.

AMES: Easy for this ex-Hawkeye. Our radio station carried the Cyclone games. It was an easy commercial sell -- the owner of the Mercury dealership was an ALUM.

desper-otto said...

In retrospect, in my ute gas was about 25¢ a gallon, and now it's $2-3, so maybe $2 for a styptic pencil is reasonable. Inflation, thou art a heartless bitch.

Anonymous said...

I printed the puzzle from the website, and it does not have “—-“ clues, nor numbers for those boxes, so it makes the numbers for some of your answers wrong. Very confusing.

Big Easy said...

It was a tough finish but I 'almost' FIR today. I figured out the over and never noticed the under. Not being a gambler I filled ONE RUNDER, with NEET (never heard of VEET). I've heard the term 'Over Under' but have no idea what it means.

ERADICABLE- got it but never heard of it before. Makes sense but I'll eradicate it from my brain until it shows again in a puzzle.

TINA, OLGA, MALEFICENT, KERR, DEMI, & KRIS (knew it started with K)-unknowns by perps.

Lemonade714 said...

Moe, the mother was Kris, all the girls' names start with K; dad was Robert; only son...

Mark is a fine gentleman and this picture ofMARTIN MULL always comes to mind.

I am always very impressed with these very creative concepts; thanks, Mark and Moe.

Anonymous said...

Took 14:15, which is in the usual time frame for a Friday. I didn't have "---", instead, just unnumbered squares without any accompanying clue, although there were circles. Miniseries made sense to me, but I didn't make the connection to ministries. For the NBA coach Steve, I incorrectly chose Nash, and thought Kyle was the mom of those pesky Kardashians. So, I did not see the theme until cluster/clutter. Veet, Lou Ella, and Ensiles were all unknown to me.

Although I'm not a fan of "gimmicky" puzzles, and I do track my time, what I enjoyed about this puzzle was that its theme/gimmick did not detract from the solve.

Anonymous said...

Great write up, thank you. I’ve seen the Ames/Carson clip before but it is always gives me a laugh. Good way to start the day.

OwenKL said...

The bumper car cartoon that got truncated can be found here. The bottom caption reads "Bumper Car Driver's Ed.", and the dialog bubble "Hands at 9 and 3 o'clock. Now spin around 180° and slam into that blue car."

Malodorous Manatee said...

First of all, Bravo! Great recap. I cannot yet comment on how the solving went for me because I have yet to solve the puzzle, because...

...CH. Moe started off with Schrodinger's cat. Apropos. I have used the Shortyz app for well over a decade to access the LAT puzzle. Only once has a LAT puzzle not been available. Today. Does the puzzle exist or does it not?

There is a hot beverage place in Crested Butte, CO called the T-Bar and the pun is very much intended.

I will solve the actual LAT-printed puzzle later today while trying to not recall what I read here.

Hungry Mother said...

FIR, and liked the theme. My DECO was a Dada, LEAK was a mole, OPT was vie, DIRT was loam, and LAMA was dAli.

Irish Miss said...

Good Morning:

It took me a while to fully understand and appreciate the theme but it finally became clear and I was quite impressed. I needed perps for Tina (why is a male voice used for a teenage girl?) and Veet which I’ve never seen or heard. I also went astray with Dr. No for Drac. Is there a Dr. No or am I thinking of Dr. Who? I’m not into horror or Sci Fi. CSO to our resident Scamp, CED.

Thanks, Dylan and Mark, for a challenging Friday and thanks, Moe, for the chuckles and fun and facts. I enjoyed TBBT video because there were several clips I hadn’t seen, as I stopped watching the show about 2-3 years before it ended. I do watch Young Sheldon and, as I have mentioned before, really enjoy the Mom and Dad actors and Annie Potts as Meemaw.

Have a great day.

Spitzboov said...

Good morning everyone.

Finally cobbled together the solution. Experience on sussing the theme largely paralleled C. Moe. Got some of it while solving, 2 correct answers around the OVER UNDER circles after completion. ANAL was the last fill word. No white-out. FIR.
Got NOSE PAD, OKAY, but used different reasoning. See:
Ice Apron: An ice breaker, or starling, placed on the up-stream end of a bridge pier to protect it from the moving ice..
Many bridges in the north have an armor plating on the upstream side of bridge piers, which could arguably be called a "NOSE PAD". Examples I can think of are the Peace Bridge at Buffalo-Ft. Erie, and the Grand Island bridges; all in the Niagara River.
Our destroyer had 2 steam turbine ENGINES, with a combined capability of 60,000HP. Pressure was 600psi, with up to 850ºF superheat. (saturated steam at that pressure is 489º.) Pressure at the low-pressure turbine outlet is 29" vacuum Hg; so every last bit of energy is stripped out of the steam by the turbines..

Great RECAP, C. Moe. Thanks for sharing the author's note.

Bob Lee said...

Even though I had all the letters, I could not for the life of me figure out the 'theme.'

For a long time I thought the answers starting with no number, when you read them in order, would spell out something. Then I thought the circled letters was a jumble to unscramble.

So the ultimate theme once figured out was no help in actually solving the puzzle, only an interesting afterwards thought of ... Oh.

Wilbur Charles said...

IM, yes Dr No was a James Bond villain. That's the one where James meets a vision walking out of the water played by Ursula Andress

Now to find that TBBT clip. The best stuff was in the first years. Penny at that time was the Ursula Andress of the program.


Shankers said...

Gimmicky, yes, but a clever and welcomed change from the daily grind. Not until getting medication did I finally see the theme. Then miniseries and linkage came next. I also liked eradicable. Will have to remind myself to use it some time today in conversation such as, "How is your eradicable doing?" Didn't know Louella either but it filled itself. Didn't care for the sooted answer at all. A pat on the back for a FIR.

Husker Gary said...

-FABULOUS! For me it took CLUTTER/CLUSTER to see the brilliant gimmick! One red herring is that the first OVER/UNDER block had the word REST circling it.
-What a bonus in MM’s clever write-up to have Mark explain the genesis of this amazing puzzle.
-ARE WE ALONE? 9 fascinating TED Talks address that question
-TIE-IN – Reese’s Pieces and ET leap to my mind
-Iowa State Cyclone fans would not take kindly to being called Hawkeyes in any context!
-Dorothy and Newhart wake up, it was just a dream, story ARC is completed
-Throwing a bone to everyone – LOUELLA Parsons– (born in 1881) and DEMI Lovato (born 112 yrs later)
-Been around farmers all my life and have never heard the verb ENSILE
-RECAP – A monumentally stupid play is called, Butler intercepts Wilson pass, Patriots win Super Bowl XMIX
-I saw no “---" in my dead tree puzzle or the online edition

Spitzboov said...

Agree with Husker about ENSILE - - But I think non-farmers that write about farming like to use it. MW gives this example:
Minnesota’s use for silage is about at the national average, but Wisconsin ensiles a quarter of its acres, New York half and California nearly 90 percent.
— Edward Lotterman, Twin Cities, "Real World Economics: Oil prices, war, and a bad corn crop," 23 June 2019

I don't think it has the caché that APSE has. :-)

Yuman said...

35 across Tina, Bob’s Burger
Dave Creek, who worked as the lead character designer on Bob's Burgers, has died in a skydiving accident. RIP

Chairman Moe said...

Puzzling thoughts:

HG @ 10:47 —> In Across Lite the puzzle text showed the “ - - - “ and numbered those clues. I just opened my newspaper and see that the print edition does NOT do that. And Mark McClain sent me an email saying the same thing. For some reason the text files we got from CC had the incorrect numbering for the clues. And at the risk of having to start all OVER, I’ll just say “mea culpa” ... Oh, and Gary, it was Chris (aka CM) who blogged this, not Joseph (MM)! 😀 But to be confused for MalMan ain’t a bad thing ... he’s an exceptional blogger and I’m flattered to be mistaken for him ...

Mark McClain —> should you stop by, I now know EXACTLY what you meant from your email this morning

Ray-O —> regarding the long explanation of the concept ... that may have been the CLUSTER @&$+ !! 🤡

Have a great weekend all ...

Wheels42 said...

Mark does a lot for the crossword community - answering questions on Cruciverb, working with new constructors, etc. He deserves a shoutout for that, in addition to his work as a constructor himself.

10:41 for me, solving on the computer. I struggled mightily in the NW corner. I think ARENOT could've been clued better. "We are not alone" feels more like a generic sentence than an in-the-language phrase. Maybe it's just me. I do give the clue-writer props for looking for an alternative to "playground retort."

I can only imagine how difficult it was to create a workable grid for this puzzle. A 9-letter answer in the middle row wreaks havoc, because it forces three blocks on either side, which all but forces the constructor to have two large sections per side, rather than the more common three sections. Then, you add in the clever but restricting gimmick, and you are left with a very rigid grid.

So, while I wasn't a fan of the fill as a whole, I also have to acknowledge that it was never going to be perfectly clean, given these constraints. I also didn't think a few of the themers were that tight, though I loved MEDICATION/MEDITATION. But again, it's safe to assume that Mark and Dylan were working with limited options.

Congrats to Mark and Dylan on the puzzle. The delightful theme outweighs some stray bad fill for me any day.

Lucina said...


Dylan and Mark, your puzzle today caused me some head scratching and deep thinking. I will tell you that I am not a fan of gimmicky puzzles but I do enjoy a challenge and you provided it. Also, I am not a sports fan so that was a further head scratcher. I love straight-forward puzzles that require knowledge as well as probity.

All that said, I solved the four corners (would that be a CSO to my state?) easily then plunged toward the center. Not ever having seen Bob's Burgers I had no idea about TINA (CSO to my step-daughter) and singer Turner would have suited me.

VEET was also unknown nor was its history. I've never heard Dracula shortened to DRAC though I well remember LOUELLA Parsons who wore big hats (if memory serves).

No, I had no idea about the theme so thank you, CMOE for explaining. I enjoyed your treatise and Owen's poems much more than the puzzle. Sorry constructors.

it's mani pedi day for me.

Have a fabulous Friday, everyone!

Husker Gary said...

Dang! My apologies Moe! I really did love the write-up but got lazy on the acknowledgment.

Anonymous said...

Great fun. I didn't complete everything but I'm proud that I caught on to the no numbered box. So clever.

ATLGranny said...

Dang it! I thought I had a good day but found out I had FIW. The two entries that I had question marks on were wrong where they crossed. UPBRAID and REPAY. I had started with umbrage and eventually changed the ending but failed to see I needed to fix the M as well. Remay didn't make sense to me, but the idea of remit lingered to confuse me.

On the other hand, I figured out the theme trick with the very first one. Didn't know the sports reference when I got to the reveal but saw it referred to the circles. So not too shabby today. Thanks, Dylan. Good first effort here. And thanks, Mark, for your contribution and for stopping by.

C Moe, you did not disappoint today. Your RECAP was helpful and entertaining. Don't worry about the length! Owen KL, you were inspired today. Enjoyed your poems. Hope everyone is doing well today and staying safe.

xtulmkr said...

Got OVERUNDER easily but tried to apply the unnumbered squares to the fill above them. Finally saw the application of the circled letters to the solution with MEDI(C/T)ATION.

Enjoyed the puzzle and unique gimmick but thought it had an abundance of pop culture trivia.

Merriam-Webster defines SOOTED as a verb. The adjective is sooty. As clued, the answer called for the adjective but couldn’t fill the squares. The perps confirmed SOOTED, though I consider it ungrammatical.

Anonymous said...

My newspaper also had some of the numbers and clues missing for half of the theme. I was wondering if any knows the reason for this? Were two different versions sent out or is this a publishing issue?

unclefred said...

My copy of the CW did not have a number where yours says 22A with an answer of RIES. My CW has 22A “Kardashian matriarch” as the clue where you’d is numbered 23A. The rest of the numbers are different too. Too confusing. I gave up.

Anonymous said...

Numbering also wrong at

Stumped said...

52-Across. Impediment to walking down a hallway.
How is CLUSTER an impediment? Not getting this answer.

Spitzboov said...

SOOTED - A participial adjective in this clue.

Comes from the verb form of SOOT. With a verb like 'bake' we have baked potatoes, baked Alaska. Same with to soot: : to coat or cover with soot

CrossEyedDave said...

I like gimmicky puzzles,
And look forward to Friday's for that reason.

The over/under did help with the puzzle,
But I could not see the theme at all.
I think it was because I could clearly see minisEries
But was completely blind to minisTries...

Reading the other three theme entries from the bottom up
Revealed how clever this theme was.

Also, I am not a gambler,
So the theme clue meant nothing to me as I have
Never heard of betting over/under before.

In fact, I am afraid of gambling so much
That I always take a back up roll of TP into the bathroom with me...

Ray - O - Sunshine said...


That soots me just fine.


desper-otto said...

RE: Mis-numbered squares. C-Moe's writeup was based on an Across-Lite .puz file, which included numbers and '---' for the second part of the themers. The print versions didn't have any clues or numbers for those parts of the themers. I know from playing around with Across-Lite .puz files that there are no numbers in the file itself -- Across-Lite assigns numbers as it builds the grid. That usually works just fine, but not today.

Husker, that's sure a lot of Super Bowls. Exactly when did they start?

Chairman Moe said...

Puzzling thoughts 2:


In case it wasn’t obvious, we bloggers get our puzzles days in advance of the actual publish date. So, I had this blog prepared, edited, and ready to publish on Tuesday of this week.

In the case of today’s puzzle, the “on-line” version that I solved and recapped was different than what appeared today on other websites and in print edition, with reference to both the clues and their clue numbers. My version used the clue “ - - - “, and assigned it a number, in all of the four entries. And in my Arizona Republic print edition it did not do this. I have no idea why.

The blog recap goes live @3:00 am EST. I didn’t realize the confusion between the answers I got ahead of time (and how, actually, they were numbered) and what many of you saw today. In a lot of cases the clues and numbers didn’t match. It would take a whole lot of editing to correct this now. To no fault of the constructor nor the blogger, this occurred. All I can do is to say I wish we didn’t have this confusion.

Hope this explains it ...


Chairman Moe said...

d-otto —> guess we were both coming up with the explanation simultaneously! Thanks for ‘splaining the way you did.


AnonymousPVX said...

Well....I got the solve, which is the only thing I liked about this...puzzle.

I thought it was a bit too clever, by plenty.

No “- - -“ in my copy either.

Also...Celine Dion is not “Dion”...he was with the Belmonts. She is NEVER referred to with the last name. At least by those who know music.

See you tomorrow.

gmony said...

I got minis-ries right off the bat after starting with 5-8 down. After that everything came into line. Easy peasy with a little starting luck.

Kelly Clark said...

Love this puzzle, and am so glad to see it in print! Nice job!

Lucinda, I'm reading an autobiography by Gloria Swanson and LOUELLA figures rather prominently in it...but I'm thinking it was HEDDA HOPPER who wore the big hats?

Fun time!

Ol' Man Keith said...

Brilliant pzl! Thanks to Mssrs. Schiff & McClain!
And neat job, Chairman M! Thanks all 'round.

Ta ~ DA!
But it was a real head scratcher at first. My initial run at solving the unnumbered fills was to guess at a missing "E," as that letter would be a sufficient response to 20A and 25A. It wasn't until I reached the lower theme answers that I saw my error.
Not being a gambler, I wasn't sure of the main clue. For that fill (36A) I tentatively entered ONE LETTER.

Trial and error led me to an almost-completed grid. Finally, the OVER UNDER answer broke through my thick skull, and it dawned on me to check the circled letters-- and then to yell "Bingo!" (to myself, of course, no one else being in the room).
A 3-way on the near end.
The center diagonal is nearly all vowels, not offering much in the way of anagrams.
The up and down diagonals run the opposite way, being heavy with consonants. But if I take the two of them together, I see enough similarities in their anagrams that I can't resist posting this:
One diagonal offers the first and the other the second, so that we get...

Time, I think, for my nap...

Mark McClain said...

Thanks for all the comments, compliments, and well-deserved gripes about the two-grid fiasco. Moe explained it earlier, but my understanding is that the PUZ format will not allow the unnumbered squares that start a word.

As I mentioned in comments on the previous page this theme was Dylan's idea entirely, and I mostly played the role of mechanic in wrestling this very difficult theme/grid arrangement into submission. I'm pretty sure you have not heard the last of Dylan - he seems to have a knack for coming up with clever themes.

Looks like I'll be back soon, so see y'all then!

TTP said...

Folks, please, let's keep the politics and snide remarks off the blog.

Ray O, you are likely unaware, but there are thousands of readers that come to this blog on a daily basis. They bring with them a variety of life experiences, opinions and attitudes, but pretty much everyone checks their baggage at the door.

Only a very small subset actually comment. For the most part, the regular commenters are respectful of the rules of the blog. Let's keep it that way.

Husker Gary said...

Dang Tom! You got me again. There were probably very few Super Bowls 999 yrs ago. :-)

You're my Jiminy Cricket and I love it! Let's see what you find tomorrow. You know I leave a few errors for you to find. Keep me honest!

Lucina said...

People really like to add a "d" in my name. I wonder why?

I just read Hedda Hopper spent as much as $5,000.00 a year on hats so she must be the one I of whom I was thinking.

Lemonade714 said...

I am glad someone took the time to comment on all that Mark does to help the CW world and newbie constructors.

Lemonade714 said...

TTP, while the world is filled with things to talk about, it is a pleasure to escape the serious topics here. It also makes it easier to have many friends without getting into verbal arguments. Vive la Blog!

waseeley said...

C-Moe @1:52OM. Roger that. The Baltimore Sun didn't provide the "---" fish bait and I was clueless on the numberless clues. It wasn't until I read your excellent explanation of the theme that I saw just how brilliant this puzzle was. I got the reveal but didn't know what to do with it, instead trying to suss an anagram from all of the circled clues. I honestly think that had the "---" clues been present I wouldn't have FIW and my experience of failing to solve it would have been much more enjoyable. And that's my story and I'm sticking to it! Great puzzle Mark and great recap C-Moe (and who am I to complain about the length of your reviews :-)).

Did I MANTRA that my favorite graphic was for 55A QUANTUM COLLAPSE 2?


Wilbur Charles said...

RiP Tommy Lasorda. Some here do like baseball. As arcane as the story I'll relate the familiarity with fe. Bob's Burgers is similar for me.

Anyway. Lasorda was with the Dodgers since the late 40s. A contemporary was Don Zimmer. In 1950 the Dodgers lost on the last day(as they did in 1951)

In the penultimate game in 1950 the Dodgers had a chance to score the winning run but held the runner at third.

Afterwards the Third base Coach claimed he said "Go!". The runner heard "No!".
They didn't score and lost.

Fast forward to 1975. The third base Coach? Don Zimmer of the old Dodgers. The scene? Last of 9th , 7th game of WS.

On a short fly to left the runner tries to score the winning run. He's out. The runner heard "Go!". The Coach, Zimmer claimed he yelled "No!".

What do we call that here, a clecho? I only relate this because for baseball aficionados it's a story that few know. I like this kind of thing.


Wilbur Charles said...

Note, the 1975 game was Redsox (Zimmer) vs Reds.

Northwest Runner said...

Dirt is not topsoil. Dirt is dead, suitable for roads but not plants. Soil is a life supporting medium. See also hay is not straw.

Spitzboov said...

One of the definitions of DIRT is 'earth' for which one of the definitions is 'cultivable soil'. I see nothing wrong with the clue (topsoil) and answer.

TTP said...

Ray O, as my mentor would often write, "I'm not here 24 7." I did see that I may have missed a couple of comments that you may have been considered partisan. None were as inflammatory as yours. This is not the venue.

If you have specific comments that you would like to be reviewed, point them out by date and time. I can't respond to vague generalities.

LEO III said...

No time for long-winded comments. Lots of red letters today, indicating either blank or erroneously-filled squares. Didn't finish, but even if I had, I would never have figured out what was going on with the puzzle. Saw squares without numbers where there should have been numbers (got a text message from one of my fellow museum peeps --- NUMBERS MISSING!!!), and I said probably part of the deal.

Anyway, I cannot complain, because I got much more filled in than I thought I would. First fill was OLGA, one of my all-time favorite Bond girls (and one of the few prime female characters that he didn't bed). I thought she really did a great job in the movie.

We were warned today's would be a tough puzzle, and it certainly was for me. Truth be told, though, I only have 13 red letters on my grid, so I'll happily take my DNF/FIW into tomorrow's foray.

I've working all day, and I need some sleep. I'll read your comments tomorrow.

The Curmudgeon said...

DNF - I was thoroughly lost. I did get a fair number of answers. Still, I had fun.

>> Roy

this is not political said...

my two cents. TTP was right. at least even handed. and my post got deleted. Wed was terrible. we all hope justice will be swift and decisive. what if something worse happens. this is primarily a crossword blog. you can get your news elsewhere. and you can sound off elsewhere, somewhere i will not even bother to go. we are all interested in crosswords and are einsteins of language, but in real life, we are practically as different as insects, birds, fish and mammals of the living kingdom. Fiat justitia ruat caelum let justice be done though the heavens (may) fall and God bless America the Beautiful.

waseeley said...

Good night everyone. Sleep tight and don't let the bedbugs bite!

CanadianEh! said...

I’m late to the party but wanted to thank Dylan and Mark, and C Moe for the fun.
Taking down Christmas decorations kept me from starting this CW until tonight. It was a challenge, but after some time and a couple of Google searches, I had a light bulb moment and got the theme. But I arrived here to discover that I disregarded the circles and went OVER,
but not UNDER, thus missing the full effect. Clever and perhaps too gimmicky for everyday, but fun in small doses (sorry for the pun on MEDICATIONS!).
I did smile to see FDA UNDER MEDICATION also.

Should I have a gripe with the constructors or Rich for robbing me of my usual CSO at ESSO? Perhaps I’ll take it anyway because I am International to all you Americans 😁. That will make two CSOs with MEDICATION.

SOOTED was my nose-wrinkle for the day.

Wishing you all a good night.