A Long History in Ichthyology

Mary Lou Guizzo puts us through our paces.

Comments: 200

  1. Hmmm . . . A moray! Fun, quick Wednesday echoing a recent boxing theme, but the grid spanning themers were a knockout. (I believe TMC was cued as “HBO competitor” only to make us forget about JUST DESERTS. Double or nothing, David? I’ll take 8 protest comments re that clue/entry. I’ll be the first one . . . maybe first).

  2. @Puzzlemucker - RU kidding? It's going to be año today! no matter that Deb wrote up an apology. I'm guessing we'll see 6-8 (7 as my ideal) all about that tilde. Side bet: at least 5 commenters focused on either cheering for "chai" being a recipe for the Indian version of "chai" (the "at last NYT got it right" syndrome) or complaining again that "chai" just means "tea" and _not a thing_ else (the "English is not a real language" syndrome). Lewis will comment about the top three rows with the multiple double-letter downs, in fact six 3-letter entries with double letters (!). And let's go for maybe three commenters complaining about eww and ugh and the representation of speech sounds in general... This is all meant in good humor, I hope it will be understood that way!

  3. @David Connell - oops, SEVEN, oops, no EIGHT double-letter 3-letter entries! on top of AAAs. Lewis has made clear that he doesn't count it Cribbage style (6 points for three-of-a-kind), but I still do, just because I love Cribbage. We've had several triples in the past week or two.

  4. How timely for 17 across. Cora, Hinch, et al.

  5. I enjoyed the puzzle, but was stopped in my tracks by the "River of Tuscany" being the TIBER. I researched it some, and indeed, the TIBER does flow through at least a little bit of Tuscany. But I certainly don't think of it as a "River of Tuscany"! It flows from Emilia-Romagna through Tuscany and Umbria and Lazio to Rome and the sea. Mary Lou, I hope the medical situation improves. All good thoughts coming your way!

  6. Sending good thoughts as well! And, yes, no true Italian would describe the Tiber as a river of Tuscany.

  7. @John That Spanish guy Junot might.

  8. Thanks for a fun Wednesday puzzle, Mary Lou. Be well. Sending you prayers and good karma, and pulling no punches!

  9. ANO is better than AÑO for a crossword. That's why many clues for it have key words in Portuguese which has no tilde. e.g. "Janeiro starts it." I do remember doing an NYT crossword once that was loaded with invisible diacritics, yet the crossings involved all had the same diacritic. Does anyone else remember that one?

  10. @Kiki Rijkstra - Wednesday, April 5, 2017, by Alex Eaton-Salners There are a few others, I'll look them up.

  11. @David Connell Wednesday, December 29, 2010, by Patrick Merrell Wednesday, November 21, 2012, by David J. Kahn

  12. Cheers to you, Mary Lou. And sending you prayers and warm wishes with your medical challenge. Go get ‘em!

  13. Prayers for healing and peace in the process, Mary Lou! Loved the puzzle.

  14. Raw UMBER, burnt sepia. Have we been here before? At any rate, I’m glad to have colored before “bluetiful” was a crayon. Don’t believe me? It’s currently in shreds all over the living room carpet, thanks to a clumsy preschooler, a forgetful me, and a dog who the vet calls “perfectly healthy, strange, I don’t know why he would be chewing all of your children’s art supplies, that’ll be $400.” Thank you, Mary Lou. Best wishes for better days. You’re one tough COOkie. I EELy mean it!

  15. @Jenna G. - Do you mean burnt sienna? The only references I can find for a burnt sepia crayon color are from a few people remembering it that way. Meanwhile, the comprehensive Crayola list includes both raw and burnt for both umber and sienna... https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Crayola_crayon_colors

  16. @Jenna G. I had eMBER for the longest time and could not figure out what was wrong. Ah well!

  17. @Jenna G. I had SIENA before AMBER before UMBER.

  18. Deb - I think that the bet clue refers to finance. The simplest way to bet against a stock is to buy put options. All positive thoughts going out to the creator - thanks for a fun puzzle -

  19. @B.D. The PUT is also a reference to being able to PUT a bet on the 6 or 8 in craps if 6 or 8 is the point.

  20. I PUT my money on craps. The options PUT is usually clued here as a stock market term, so I'd "Wager" that wasn't what either constructor or editors had in mind this time.

  21. @B.D. That and craps. Same difference?

  22. Mary Lou, I join with so many, many fans of you and your work in sending all good wishes and offering prayers for you to be well! Thank you for trusting us to know that you need and welcome our support - and get going, be tough!

  23. Mary Lou, thank you for a most entertaining puzzle, and I'm so sorry that you're in a bad way now. I'm sending you my most sincere wishes for a complete recovery and good health.

  24. Mary Lou I just love your puzzles and I will keep you close to my heart. Whatever you’re facing you will sock it to ‘em and be okay! Fingers crossed for a rapid return to good health and normalcy.

  25. I had to THROW IN THE TOWEL because I was an IDIOt for entering IDeO for the singular prefix. ERe TU looked OK even without the S.

  26. @coloradoz You’re in excellent company. Jeff Chen finished with the same error.

  27. Idiosyncratic! My SAT word rescued me at the end.

  28. @coloradoz likewise

  29. UIES earns an EWW from me. Oh, how I long for the real EEL!

  30. A great big thanks for the fine work you do and lots of love through your trials, keep your chin up Ms. Guizzo.

  31. I EELy liked this one, nothing (else) fishy here! Hope that your situation resolves successfully and quickly, and I will join the others in offering my support.

  32. Uh-oh! Stumped by the new clue for ERI TU, which usually appears as “Verdi aria” or “Verdi baritone solo”... nice to see a fresh clue for an old friend :-)

  33. I'm new to crossword puzzles so was not sure about this but used my Italian to realize it needed to be in the past and the tu form. Thought maybe it was a name like Elena but it didn't make sense with the verb form. ERI TU made sense so I was happy I was right

  34. @Heather Hadlock Would the cross between ERI TU and IDIO be considered a "Natick" in cruci-slang?

  35. @Heather Hadlock I had to guess on this cross and guessed wrong.

  36. Not Boxing Day, but the theme works pretty well for Debate Night! Great puzzle. My thoughts and all good vibes are with you.

  37. Thanks for another great puzzle, Mary Lou, and you know we are all rooting for you.

  38. @Wags Did you use to live in New Mexico? I came across an 2010 Wordplay entry (it had a Q&A with Will Shortz) where one of the comments was Wags from New Mexico. Steve L and polymath were the other two monikers I recognized.

  39. @Bojan Just in case Wags doesn't get back here today, I will step in and say, Yes, he did previously live in New Mexico. Maybe you can get his website to load on your computer! (It won't load on mine right now) www.davidpwagnerauthor.com

  40. Thanks for a fun puzzle. Enjoyed the phrases. First one I got was THROWINTHETOWEL. Of course, I wasn’t thrilled with the clues on decoupage and opera crossing - neither one is my forte, and I was positive the color was burnt siena. Held onto that and a blank corner for too long. But it was smooth and satisfying. Best wishes, Ms. Guizzo, I’m pulling for you!

  41. Longest Wednesday ever. Geez, I hate when I fall asleep in the middle. My prayers are with you, Ms. Guizzo.

  42. Mary Lou, may your coming days be free of anxiety and full of love and support. Thank you for all your creative energy and puzzle making. May your caregivers be creative and talented in all their endeavors.

  43. and Elke Mary Lou- sending our best wishes and prayers for a speedy resolution of your medical issues. I'm adding my recco to each of the other comments with their good wishes. Thus throwing my hat into the ring for crowd sourcing. Hang in there and be comforted by the knowledge that you have a whole bunch of people rooting for you.

  44. Mary Lou Guizzo, a new name to me but I'll remember it and add my best wishes for your complete recovery to everyone else's. And thanks for letting me run my streak back up to 3 again.

  45. I didn’t have to wildly guess at the last square! I take my victories where I can. Best wishes...fun puzzle...

  46. Adding one more wish for your speedy recovery.

  47. To help David with his prediction, I'll restate that the funniest clue for tilde-less ANO to appear in NYT was "Julio is in the middle of it"

  48. @Bojan - guau, chico, ¡demasiada información!

  49. I asked Latin American friends how they handled the tilde. They just shrugged. Then I had American friends go off on rants on how “ano” was just WRONG!!! (Caps on purpose). Guess that’s the difference between the US and quite possibly everyone else.

  50. @Cooofnj When I write or text in Spanish, I never, ever write ano for año, nor have I ever received it in a message. Or any other word where ñ appears, regardless whether there is a counterpart with just "n". I do cut some corners with the accents when I just write mundane stuff to my wife, for example, because I use one keyboard (US one) for all the languages and sometimes I grow weary of pressing ALT plus a three-number-combination for all the different á,í,ö,ä,ß... But, not when I write something half-way serious, as unlike substituting "oe" for "ö" in German, missing accents in Spanish change the way a word is pronounced or sometimes even the meaning. Or, superfluous ones. It drives me completely insane when I see the Dodger Hernandez spelled like Kiké. That's just a whole new level of ignorance.

  51. Great puzzle Mary Lou - very fun, and only a minute more than my personal best for a Wednesday. Sending blessings for a peaceful heart, grace, and a speedy and complete recovery.

  52. Definitely on the constructor’s wavelength tonight — the long answers filed themselves in with just one cross in place. What an enjoyable solve. The UIE felt a bit EWWy to me as growing up we alwwys called it flipping a U-ey, but tomato, tomahto, etc.

  53. @Sam Lyons You say tomato, tomahto; I say tomayto, tomato.

  54. Sorry to hear about your issues; get well soon!

  55. This macaron maker would quibble that egg white is the main ingredient of meringue and not just EGG. Did you know that eating macarons is excellent for your health? Sending good food thoughts and positive vibes for your speedy recovery!

  56. @Tammy That's a positively Talmudic quibble. Is the ingredient the egg that I buy at the store, or the white that I separate? Do I shop for ingredients when I make a dish, or for meta-ingredients that I work into ingredients in the kitchen. Where does my mise en place begin? And what if I don't really save the yolks for another use, but toss them? I feel guilty enough as it is, but if those yolks are first-order ingredients in their own right, does the uninstantiated custard exist in a better universe, with a better Martin? These are questions that will haunt me tonight. Seriously.

  57. @Martin, I wouldn't call it hair splitting to say that the egg white is the *only* ingredient to go into a meringue (as the clue indicated), and not the whole egg from which it's separated. The egg white can also come from a carton in liquid pasteurized form, which doesn't yield a good result for macarons in my experience. Which brings us to the dilemma of the leftover egg yolk. For this, I have a go-to recipe for a delicious short bread cookie (sablé breton) that uses only egg yolks. I would be happy to share it with you if it could restore calm to your evening. Seriously. :)

  58. @Martin - lmao. I feel your pain. It's a curse, but it's also a blessing. :)

  59. i’m beyond impressed that mary lou found these 5 phrases that are boxing-related, AND 15 letters each! still marveling over that. fun puzzle, and sending my best wishes your way for your health.

  60. @a. Same here, marvels and wishes.

  61. Adding my positive thoughts to the hive's.

  62. Let this be an important lesson to all future parents out there - choose your kid's name wisely if you want them to achieve crossword fame. "Tennis great" ANKE Huber, who won zero Grand Slam titles and never cracked Top 3 in the world has more NYT mentions than "Tennis's" STEFFI Graf, the only player ever to win a Golden Slam (all four Grand Slam events and an Olympic gold in the same year). Got that, ASHLEIGH Barty's parents?

  63. SPELLING BEE GRID Jan 15th 2020 H C E F I L Y WORDS: 22, POINTS: 97, PANGRAMS: 1 (Perfect) Starting Letters-Frequencies: C x 11 F x 2 H x 4 L x 3 Y x 2 Word Lengths -Frequencies: 4L x 7 5L x 8 6L x 6 7L x 1 Grid: 4 5 6 7 Tot C 2 3 5 1 11 F - 2 - - 2 H 3 1 - - 4 L 1 1 1 - 3 Y 1 1 - - 2 Tot 7 8 6 1 22 (Y-Axis: Starting Letters, X-Axis: Word Lengths, X/Y Co-ordinates: Frequency/Number of Words for that letter and length)

  64. @Mari HINTS for today: 'LY' again! - but only 4 words ending in 'LY' today - The French and English form of 'head guy' - A Chinese fruit - 2 different spellings of an expression of disgust - Pretentiously stylish - Pilfer or steal - Short slangy term for person who is overly sexually forward - Blood sucker

  65. No LICHEE? I’ve seen that spelling more often than LITCHI.

  66. @Mari Starting two letters CH - 10, CL - 1 FI - 2 HE - 2, HI - 2 LE - 2, LY - 1 YE - 2 Thanks for the hints, needed the Y5.

  67. @Deb, I had BET for PUT. You can bet all your money on a horse, or you can put your money on that horse.

  68. and no UIES after that

  69. @Alan Young Bingo. I think everybody else is overthinking the explanation. I would have PUT money on the Utes owning the Longhorns in the Alamo Bowl last month. Alas, to wager thus would’ve ended badly.

  70. @Deb @Alan Pretty sure PUT is referencing a stock market “bet.” “What does put options mean in stocks? A put is an options contract that gives the owner the right, but not the obligation, to sell a certain amount of the underlying asset, at a set price within a specific time. The buyer of a put option believes that the underlying stock will drop below the exercise price before the expiration date.Nov 13, 2019 https://www.investopedia.com › terms Put Definition - Investopedia”

  71. LETTER BOXED THREAD Jan 15 2020 A - H (9), H - P(4) ... 13! YESTERDAY: ROMANTICS SQUIB

  72. @Mari Or A-L (5) L-H (8). Yesterday, COMBATANTS SQUIRT.

  73. @Mari Same here. Yesterday COMBINATIONS SQUIRT

  74. Tried to leave a “thank you” message a few days ago but it took 3 days for it to post. I’m trying again. Mari, thanks for the grid, and I appreciate all the comments. I enjoy letterbox even though I sometimes complain too much about the lack of logic. Thanks to the community!

  75. I hope you are soon well again, Mary Lou.

  76. Fun Wednesday. All positive thoughts for a complete recovery, Mary Lou.

  77. I'd always thought "The gloves are off" came from hockey, not boxing. Boxers don't take their gloves off during a fight, but the instant one hockey player punches another, the ice is littered with 20 gloves (22 if the fight is near one of the creases).

  78. @Bruce Exactly what I was going to say. You're right, when the gloves are off, that means they're going to fight in a hockey game (IMHO, one of the still-integral parts of the game, and very exciting). I'm pretty sure if boxers took their gloves off in a bout, that would mean they've given up and stopped fighting. lol

  79. @Marianna I'm going to guess that "gloves are off" evinces the pre-modern sport of bare-knuckle boxing. In this context, gloves are a piece of safety equipment, so if you take them off, you mean business.

  80. @TabbyCat Or perhaps all the gentlemen were wearing (dress) gloves, and when the gloves came off they were about to dust it up.

  81. I love the spirit of this puzzle -- phrases from boxing that have spilled over into the out-of-boxing world. There are so many of them, too, like take it on the chin, roll with the punches, on the ropes, go down swinging, down for the count, bob and weave, and beat to the punch. I suppose this could have been a Sunday puzzle, though that might have been overkill. I broke into a smile at UMBER, which popped effortlessly into my head, even though I probably haven't thought about the crayon color "burnt umber" since I was a single digit. Some tricky, wordplaying cluing, of which there should be a noticeable contingent on Wednesday, would have punched up the puzzle, as it were. I used to love boxing, watched it all the time, the more blood the better. Now I hate it; the violence and machismo turn me off. There is such a thing as a noble fight -- and many crosswords present me with one -- but boxing isn't that to me any more. Prayers and good wishes on your condition, Mary Lou. Rooting for you.

  82. @Lewis I have to say that, knowing your good nature, the phrase "the more blood the better" seemed so completely out of character. It's hard to believe that you were once enamoured of such a sport. As for the gloves coming off in hockey, that is what turned me off from continuing to play hockey as a teen-ager. I still find it to be a completely needless and altogether foolish aspect of an otherwise beautiful game.

  83. @Lewis You raise a point regarding boxing that I share. In my younger days I was an avid fan of boxing. Although baseball (Yankees) and football (Giants) were my primary passions in sports, I was enamored with Paterson, Robinson, etc earlier on, then Clay (Ali) and Leonard. I used to attend the Golden Gloves finals at MSG regularly. I also had a catharsis. Maybe it was when Benny Paret died in the ring. Maybe it was when we saw the once erudite Ali struggling to speak. Something changed in my view of the "sport". The puzzle was fun with the boxing related phrases, but enough with UIES, ENUF and the like. Also trying to find more far reaching clues for EEL is somewhat played out. They are not really "long" fish, rather they are elongated. Best wishes Mary Lou.

  84. @Lewis - No comment on sports. No need. But - why no comment from you about the doubles today? are you trying to rob me of my winnings? I was certain you'd have something to say about all those doubles (9, many side-by-side) in the 3-letter fill!

  85. Tremendously fun puzzle. Sending extra love into the universe for a recovery that is as successful as my puzzle-solve was today.

  86. NOTV? Ugh.

  87. Ethan, Just DESERTS, no?

  88. Nice puzzle and a good workout. Getting enough to figure out each theme answer was the turning point in multiple places for me. Four day streak alive. One side note: Every answer in this puzzle has appeared before AND in the Shortz era. That is actually quite uncommon, especially with the long theme answers. Thoughts and prayers for you, Mary Lou. Hoping for the best.

  89. @Rich in Atlanta & Mary Lou Thanks for your comment RiA, I missed the news in Mary Lou’s. MLG, I with the rest of WP nation are all in accord and your corner with hopes of a rapid recovery.

  90. Glad to see our old friend ERI TU today! I've been watching Un Ballo in Maschera (Verdi's opera which has the aria) on my new Roku TV. I love it!

  91. @judy d The TV or the opera?

  92. @Andrew Both! I love being able to use YouTube to watch operas on my TV!

  93. @judy d For a while I subscribed to the Metropolitan Opera on demand website, and could watch any number of glorious operas from their archives on TV. It is certainly worth the monthly fee if you are an avid opera fan!

  94. Thanks for the great puzzle, Mary Lou. Joining in the crowdsource of positive energy and healing wishes for you.

  95. There is no Crossword in my online NYT today? Only Spelling Bee and Sudoko. Anyone else having this problem?

  96. @Nancy Dickson No problemo on my platform.

  97. For two days the Crossword link has been missing from my online front page. I have to click Spelling Bee, then the menu, and then Home to get to the puzzle.

  98. I’m missing letter boxed, and the mini today! The old grey lady has trouble with its newfangled cyber page-especially with the puzzles!

  99. No SPARRING today; we're all on Team Guizzo.

  100. A sweet puzzle about the sweet science. I knocked it out but not without taking my lumps along the way. Tersely PUT, had to think twice before tossing ‘bet’ to the wind...Mark Knopfler connects squarely this blues ballad about The Bear. This is “Song For Sonny Liston.” The second link has lyric under the show more button. https://youtu.be/fPRj-crmDH4 https://youtu.be/gwahu17TwRA In A Pugilistic Mood, Bru

  101. I'm picturing the person who could solve this puzzle schussing along on a skateboard listening to Verdi on her way from the WWII aviation museum en route to a decoupage class.

  102. @Scott Yates I’d say, “OLLIE, OLLIE, oxen free!” to those who did.

  103. In your corner, Mary Lou.

  104. So I have been trying to get my daughter into crossword puzzles. While the debate was on last night, I opened today’s puzzle. She surprised me by taking an interest. We got as far as 20A when I brazenly entered “Siena,” though I knew one letter was missing. She said, “Mom, Sienna has two ns.” Guess what? I put the puzzle away, unable to explain my place holding tactics nor the controversial spellings that emerge. We went back to the debate, and I figured out UMBER on my own. Perhaps crossword puzzle solving is a personal activity for me or I need to feel like the smartest person in the room in order to share it. Maybe I can add this to my 2020 resolutions: Get over yourself, mama! Enjoyable puzzle with a fun theme!

  105. @Pani Korunova This is an honest error, and I had the same experience. The town in Italy from which the colour is derived is Siena. I seem to recall that if you climb the tower in the middle of town, you will see a panoramic of houses all with this colour of roof. I don't know whether this is a tamale trap of sorts, or why the double N became standard in English, but I highly recommend a visit to the town of Siena, a must for Italy bound travellers.

  106. @Andrew Thank you! I will show my comment and your reply to my daughter and try solving - gasp! - tomorrow’s puzzle with her.

  107. The historic exonym for Siena in English was Sienna, but in modern times it has been gradually replaced by the Italian spelling Siena (I suspect the original Sienna was imported from the still-used French exonym of Sienne, rather than directly from Italian). The name of the color sienna dates back to the 18th century, when the Italian “tierra di Siena” would have been translated as “earth of Sienna,” per contemporary English spelling. How we spell the town of Siena in English has evolved; how we spell the color sienna has not. It’s an easy mistake to make if you’re not spending lots of time in an art store’s raw pigments aisle.

  108. Once met Judge John Sirica. He was a well regarded welterweight (I think). The two of us had an interesting conversation on the benefits of boxing, you learn if you get angry you lose, and latin, knowing it means you can often determine the meaning of an unknown word. Evening’s companion commented: “you spend 30 minutes with Judge Sirica and all you talk about is boxing and Latin.” With some the nerd force is strong. This puzzle brought back memories of the interesting people you meet while working in “The District,” Also brought to mind when Nixon was referred to as “The dead mouse on the country’s kitchen floor.” Now it seems we have a dead rat in the attic. Hello and thank you Mary Lou

  109. Starting a thread for anyone who cares to contribute of songs that bring us comfort during challenging times, a thought triggered by hearing this song, "Let it Be," on the radio as I left the house this morning: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7P6X3IWLECY

  110. @Barry Ancona -- Great one. Beat me to it.

  111. @Barry Ancona OY!! That’s NOT “simple”. I think explaining the whole concept of Stock Market “Options” and “Puts” and “Calls” might be simpler.

  112. PeterW, 1. I PUT "simple" in quotes for a reason. 2. The crossword isn't big on finance. PUT has been clued a few times to options; CALL never! The Street usually appears here as IPO or LBO.

  113. Think of stock trading as dealing with bets. So, this from investopedia: "A call option gives the holder the right to buy a stock and a put option gives the holder the right to sell a stock. Think of a call option as a down-payment for a future purpose."

  114. A tko from Mary Lou! And sending along best wishes from my corner. What a fun Wednesday with a few fun misdirects. Hope to have you back in the ring again soon.

  115. Just a reminder that sending CHIMPS and other nonhuman animals into orbit was a particularly cruel form of animal abuse, which ought not be made light of by inclusion in a puzzle. There are plenty of other ways to clue that word.

  116. Mary Lou, thank you for this puzzle! Sending positive vibes your way.

  117. The theme made for colorful fill, even if it was pretty easy for a Wednesday. I did feel I shouldn't be asked to know the words of Italian arias -- what am I, an opera singer? -- but if you want the lyrics of every song in every Broadway musical written between 1945 and 1970, I'm your gal. The trickiest clue for me was "Timeout" = NOTV. I stared at N??V for the longest time. And who ever knows how UIES is going to be spelled from one day to another? Sending you all my best wishes and good thoughts, Mary Lou, in getting through your current health difficulties and coming out on the other side completely well and ready to come up with more great puzzles.

  118. @Nancy I have some knowledge of opera, but I realized today that I pay more attention to the melodies than the words. Unfortunately, NO TV was very familiar to me. One of my parents' favorite punishments (although, my dad was a teacher, so sometimes he'd get *creative* and make us write a paper about why what we did was wrong, etc.) UIES is kind of janky fill, but I suppose it can get a constructor out of a tight spot (as UIES often do).

  119. All the best, Mary Lou...

  120. "Finished" and after going again through all my answers could not figure out for the life of me where I was wrong. So I will point out that if, like me, you have no idea who ANKE Huber is and decide AIKE works fine, then DAISY works as well as PANSY. That makes 25D GLUEDOT instead of GLUEPOT which I thought was a perfectly good fill, until I caved and looked at the answer key :-(

  121. Re: 31A It’s good that you know. We know that you know. It is still, however, absolutely ridiculous. You will be mocked for using ANO in place of AÑO. Knowing that you know makes it slightly worse, not better.

  122. SpDT, Here; have a tamale.

  123. @Barry Ancona Or maybe a pierogi or a panini?

  124. @Margaret, the correct word is panino. Panini is plural.

  125. I confidently had SIENA for a while-does anyone remember the color as “burnt Siena”? Managed to get UMBER from the down crossings and turns out “sienna” has 2 N’s, but that threw me for a loop! Otherwise was a pretty smooth solve for me. Managed to figure out the theme relatively early from the down crossings and thought it was a fun fill. I’m a relatively new solver so Wednesday and Thursday puzzles can be hit or miss for me - always satisfying when I can actually solve them!

  126. @Rebecca C I remember Burnt Sienna. I snagged a few Dandelion crayons before they were retired, for nostalgia's sake.

  127. @OboeSteph Dandelion! Man, that took me back. Was that part of the 64 box with that sweet crayon sharpener in the back? I too had SIENA for a while.

  128. Mary Lou — thank you for the fun puzzle. Prayers up for you.

  129. Mary Lou, if I could sew, I'd make you a beautiful silk robe with "CHAMP" on the back. Praying for you to knock out whatever ails you. (I loved your clue for EEL!)

  130. EELs are very popular this week. Morays, in particular. And I'm always glad to see a fellow mollusk in the grid. Woot! Best wishes to Mary Lou. Clearly, there is a whole community here sending good vibes your way.

  131. Hmmm, I submitted a few more moray verses before turning in last night. Or I think I did. I'm on loopy pills after having the remnant ofa broken tooth removed. . . Can't remember which ones I submitted, but they could have been these: When there's grief Near a reef From the sharp sting of teeth, 'At's a moray! When you're sad 'Cause your dad Won't admit you're his lad Just call Maury! I think I'll watch the eel skinner video. . .

  132. @Robert Michael Panoff And today's mini had the "Say aaaaaaaaaaah" --> OPEN WIDE! Coincidence? My mowf is not so sure!

  133. Nice one. PANSY seemed obvious, but I hesitated because I have become used to seeing them in the fall. Our part of the south has winter and the pansies are bred to be frost tolerant. Summer would be too hot, but fall -> winter is just right.

  134. @O101101 I envy you your winter on this fine, 75°F ((!) January morning as I’m sitting here with the a/c on full blast. Austin HATH seen no fury as that of a woman deprived of winter — or spring, for that matter.

  135. @Sam Lyons "Deprived of winter"??? 75° F sounds perfect to me! To each her own, I suppose.

  136. @OboeSteph I hail from snowy climes. Needing a/c mid-January before noon just slays me. My husband and I have been trying to adapt to going from the spring/summer/fall/winter season lineup to the degrees-of-hot variant Austin serves up, but so far we’ve been complete PANSIES about it.

  137. @ Mary Lou--Thanks for the puzzle--wishing you strength to overcome your medical challenges!

  138. @Steve L Thanks for the link Steve. I enjoyed it. Remember trying to work her name into a puzzle (CARRIE UNDERWOOD-15) but without success :-(

  139. @Lou Try doing WOOD CARRIE

  140. I'm a newby to NY times puzzles in the Will Shortz era. Themes have never helped me much in solving them. Until today. I use the same routine online that I used years ago on paper versions. I do the across clues first, then the down clues, repeat one or two times, then focus on specific areas. After my first run through, I had a lot of blank spaces in the down clues. I was almost ready to walk away. But somehow, I was able to fill in the theme answers very quickly on my next run through. Without many crosses to help. A big confidence booster. On the last two squares, I guessed correctly and was stunned when I got the all good message.

  141. Am I the only one that never heard of a COO 6D ?

  142. @Arnold C.O.O. = Chief Operating Officer

  143. Sending lots of positive energy your way Mary Lou. 🙏🏻🙏🏻🙏🏻

  144. (Cont'd from earlier this week) When there's grief Near a reef As you feel many teeth 'At's a moray! When you're sad 'Cause your dad Won't admit you're his lad Just call Maury!

  145. @Robert Michael Panoff 13 hours later it shows up. At least I wasn't imagining it! :)

  146. @Robert Michael Panoff Just walked in. Did the moon hit your eye like a pizza pie?

  147. I had to fight to get this one done. (Seems like a warmer winter, though, so the gloves are off.) And Mary Lou, I am also praying for your return to good health soon!! 💛

  148. Prayers for your health, Mary Lou. I enjoyed your puzzle and the Billy Ocean link. What a gorgeous photo Deb chose today! EELs are indeed long, haha. I overlooked the ano/año disparity until Deb pointed it out. Ha! Yes, those words have *very* different meanings indeed (unless you're having a very bad year, I suppose). Even if online crosswords did recognize tildes, it wouldn't fit the down answer. Good argument for keeping foreign words out of the puzzle. I'm glad that Deb explained LITHuania. Soviet Socialist Republics are a vague memory from my childhood, so my first thought was that LITH was Lithium, as in the medication. (SSR being one letter away from SSRI temporarily made sense in my brain, but I guess they're as different as año and ano. Perhaps there is some overlap. I don't imagine being part of a SSR was a cheerful experience). NO TV was a bummer of a punishment back in the days before streaming, and missing your favorite show really meant missing it! Kids still don't like having their screen time taken away, but they have no idea the struggle of having to see a certain show at a certain time.

  149. Glad to know I wasn’t the only one fooled into thinking LITH was a clue about medications. That ended up being my last corner to fill because I couldn’t see it any other way.

  150. Best wishes.

  151. I always assumed that THE GLOVES ARE OFF came from hockey, where removing the gloves seems to be the first ritual part of any fight. I've never heard of such a step in boxing (except obviously for bare knuckle boxing, but in that case the gloves were never actually on in the first place, so it would not make pragmatic sense to describe them as being off). Maybe the term nonetheless does come from boxing, but I'm curious as to how it would. Anyway, thanks for an enjoyable puzzle, Mary Lou, and keep fighting.

  152. @Gary The gloves are are on for boxing Take them off? Now they're really fighting.

  153. I think "people are hurting each other intentionally" while "other people pay to see it and cheer them on" kind of covers Sports in general doesn't it? (actually, to truly cover sports, I'd have to add "people are intentionally hurting themselves" etc.)

  154. There seem to be ÑO (or very few) anal comments about AÑO today. Looks like DC might lose his bet.

  155. @Andrew - fake news

  156. I was bemused by 18D. Given that clue and fill, what then would a "slip down" be? Also have a quibble: I think the correct fill for 44D is "oast". The fill actually used is a glazing oven, since those temperatures are designed to melt glass pieces. It would be overkill for drying. Starting at square 31 read across and read down. Bonne chance Mary Lou!

  157. @Dr W "... what then would a "slip down" be?" It would mean you're getting lucky tonight.

  158. Dr W, I was also surprised it wasn't oast. Yes, indeed, glazing ovens are called kilns by potters. But after looking up kiln, I learned that a kiln is also the name of an oven used to dry grains.

  159. @polymath also lumber

  160. Thanks for all your kind words, prayers and positive thoughts. It means a lot to me and keeps me fighting ;-). I’m glad most of you enjoyed your solving experience. Mary Lou aka Lou

  161. Enjoyed your puzzle immensely, but your commenting here beats even that. I hope it is a sign of some progress, and I join the chorus in wishing you both the quickest and the fullest of recoveries, as well as the strength to deal with the hardships until that, hopefully very soon, moment arrives.

  162. @Lou Keep up the good fight and don't 49Across. Go for the KO of whatever is ailing you. Thank you for your puzzle (minus the opera stuff).

  163. @Lou, Hope you feel and get better soon!

  164. Also, if you want to avoid the whole AÑO / ANO debate, just clue it as "2020, por exemplo". Give Portuguese their year in the sun. P.S. David, I'm trying

  165. Sending healing energy your way, Mary Lou!

  166. Prayers for you Mary Lou!

  167. Two of the last four puzzles I've done, I've completed at exactly my average for that day (to the second). I can't believe that is true, glitch? Granted, I don't have that many data points (started in Nov). Anyone else experiencing this?

  168. @Newbie Yep, all my Friday and Saturday ones are exactly the same

  169. Anyone know how to clear "longest streak" number from stats?

  170. I don't do prayers but I can do positive thoughts. Coming your way I hope; but also in celebration of a new world record (for me, anyway) of a Wednesday puzzle in 13:38. Please NYT allow me this little boast.

  171. Mary Lou, sounds like you were hit below the belt. Don’t throw in the towel. All us wordies are pulling for you.

  172. Every good wish to you for healing, Mary Lou, and thank you for a very enjoyable puzzle. I got caught up with a few misdirects, and every time I found my way out, thought "ah, THAT was clever!" I look forward to your next puzzle.

  173. We need a few morays to spell the emus when they need a break. Not sure if they'd help with ANOs but they'd rid this place of the hated OCTOPI in no time.

  174. Prayers for your healing.

  175. This puzzle tried to punch back (got stuck around the spring flower area) but I ultimately prevailed! Loved the theme. Best wishes Mary Lou, we're all cheering for you.

  176. Best of thoughts and healing prayers for you Mary Lou! And thanks for a "pleasant" memory of a time when no tv was a punishment.

  177. Has David Connell’s prediction come true yet? Anyone keeping score? If that’s A NO, I’m willing to give myself a paper cut over the roiling waters in the name of the cause.

  178. Oops, that’s Sam Lyons reporting for roiling duty. My new hometown seems to be inducing the Stockholm syndrome in me.

  179. @Sam Lyons - I was caught short, thinking, "what in the Sam Houston is going on here?"

  180. From CHAI to SETH at first, to getting the theme, this is a great Wednesday puzzle. May you feel the strength of this community, and keep writing puzzles.

  181. Way too much crosswordese and mediocre fill. I’m honestly very surprised Mr. Shortz allowed this puzzle with a slew of meh answers like IDIO, ENTR, ARS, ERITU, ANKE, NOTV, NEY, HATH, ENUF, ROLF, SSR, RLS

  182. Jeremy, Like or dislike what you want, but with the first "answers" complaint coming 22 hours and 270 comments in, I'd say the editors didn't miss with this one.

  183. @Jeremy Those are all solid crossword clues IMO

  184. Thank you, Mary Lou, for the lively Wednesday puzzle. Joining with all here in sending healing thoughts to you and your family as you move through this challenging journey.

  185. Enjoyed the puzzle, Mary Lou, and you have my prayers for a happy recovery!

  186. Sending healing thoughts your way, Mary Lou. Thanks for the challenging Wednesday, and hoping this days has found you beating your challenges.

  187. Sending you healing and positive energy, Mary Lou!!! Know that there are people in your corner—wishing you all the best. So, don’t THROW IN THE TOWEL—we hope to see another puzzle from you soon. Meanwhile, hope you can LOLL around and drink some CHAI.

  188. As a kid, I'd sneak the radio to bed and listen to boxing matches under the covers when I was supposed to be asleep. One thing I'll say: it's much easier listening to fights than it is to watch them on the screen. That early interest has morphed into a vague awareness maintained through a couple of Sugar Rays, some Rocky, ear-biting jungle rumbles and Manila thrillas https://www.tiebreaker.com/30-greatest-boxers-of-all-time/ I was moved to look up some great American boxers, and it's obvious that the Marquess of Queensberry suffered culture shock with the transAtlantic move. There's a backstory putting a racial prism to the careers of Jack Johnson, Jersey Joe Walcott, Archie Moore, even up to Cassius Clay/ Muhammud Ali. The sport's all-time low point was likely during Johnson's reign as World Heavyweight Champion (1907-15), when an offshoot boxing 'championship' tried for 5 years to deliver "The Great White Hope" that would beat him. After Johnson finally lost his title in 1915, no heavyweight champ would allow a title shot to a black challenger for 22 years, when Joe Louis beat Braddock in 1937. cont

  189. I didn't really enjoy this one. The grid wasn't particularly difficult but it had way too many abbreviations and obscure trivia for my liking. The theme was good but it hardly made up for fills like ARS, NEY, and ENTR. Ugh.

  190. Can I just say I love reading the comments. And genuinely feel for so many puzzlers who seem to make this so much harder than it seems to need to be and suffer such angst! Yes, UIES was a stinker LOL and who ever heard of ERITU (not me!) but the answers to the ones I don't know beans about always come from the cross fills one way or the other. I never heard of a PUT related to a BET either, but then I also didn't fill it in and had to go back and find it when I read Deb's column - it had gotten filled in from from the three acrosses which were all pretty easy. That's the fun of doing the puzzle. For me anyway. It's also the fun of doing acrosses and downs at the same time. Sometimes I have half or more of an empty puzzle left and other times just a few boxes. I didn't actually grock onto the boxing theme (I'm always slow with the themes) but they weren't really necessary for the fills. TAKE THE GLOVES OFF has always been an idiom for exactly what the clue described and I'd never thought about where it came from. Same with HIT BELOW THE BELT (quite graphic enough to carry its own weight.) Expecting Thursday to be a toughie after this pretty easy week.

  191. I'll be praying for you, Mary Lou. Thank you for a fun, sporty puzzle. Whatever medical challenges you're facing -- give 'em hell.

  192. Prayers, good wishes, and much love your way @Lou. I really enjoyed your puzzle!