LA Times Crossword 3 Jan 19, Thursday

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Constructed by: Robin Stears
Edited by: Rich Norris

Today’s Theme (according to Bill): They Never Retire, They Just …

Themed answers are common phrases reinterpreted to represent an alternative to retirement for various professionals mentioned in the clues. And, those answers are pretty “punny”:

  • 17A. Watchmakers never retire, they just __ : WIND DOWN
  • 20A. Musicians never retire, they just __ : DECOMPOSE
  • 39A. Beekeepers never retire, they just __ : BUZZ OFF
  • 55A. Tree surgeons never retire, they just __ : BRANCH OUT
  • 61A. Teachers never retire, they just __ : MARK TIME
  • 12D. Farmers never retire, they just __ : GO TO SEED
  • 38D. Lumberjacks never retire, they just __ : PINE AWAY

Bill’s time: 6m 54s

Bill’s errors: 2

  • OPERATOR (onerator!!!)
  • A PINCH (an inch!!!)

Today’s Wiki-est Amazonian Googlies

Across

16. 1969 World Series competitor : ORIOLE

The Baltimore Orioles were expected by almost everyone to win the 1969 World Series. They were fielding one of their finest ever teams, and were playing the New York Mets, a team that had only been in existence for eight years. But it was the Mets who won the series, 4 games to 1, earning the team the name “Miracle Mets”.

22. Beetle-shaped artifact : SCARAB

Scarabs were amulets in ancient Egypt. Scarabs were modelled on the dung beetle, as it was viewed as a symbol of the cycle of life.

26. FDA overseer : HHS

The Department of Health, Education and Welfare (HEW) was split in 1979, into the Department of Education (ED) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approves drugs for specific conditions. It is quite legal for a healthcare professional to prescribe an approved medication for a use that is different to the FDA-approved indication. This usage of the drug is described as “off-label”.

30. First name in architecture : EERO

Eliel Saarinen was a Finnish architect who designed entire city districts in Helsinki. He immigrated to the United States where he became famous for his art nouveau designs. He was the father of Eero Saarinen, who was to become even more renowned in America for his designs, including the Dulles International Airport terminal, and the TWA building at JFK.

33. Prime letters? : USDA

The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) classifies meat into eight different grades:

  • Prime
  • Choice
  • Select
  • Standard
  • Commercial
  • Utility
  • Cutter
  • Canner

36. One not seen on “MTV Unplugged” : AMP

“MTV Unplugged” is a show on MTV that features performances by popular artists playing acoustic instruments. The term “unplugged” is commonly used for music played on acoustic instruments that is usually played on amplified instruments, often electric guitars.

41. Anonymous surname : DOE

Though the English court system does not use the term today, “John Doe” first appeared as the “name of a person unknown” in England in 1659, along with the similar “Richard Roe”. An unknown female is referred to as “Jane Doe”. Variants of “John Doe” are “Joe Blow” and “John Q. Public”.

42. Pal : PAISAN

“Paisan” is Italian for “brother, fellow countryman”.

45. Actress Collette of “United States of Tara” : TONI

Toni Collette is a marvelous actress from Australia who really started to garner the public’s attention playing the title role in the 1994 film “Muriel’s Wedding”. She went on to take major roles in films like “Emma” (1996), “The Sixth Sense” (1999), “About a Boy” (2002), all of which are favorites of mine. Collette also played the lead in the excellent Showtime comedy-drama “United States of Tara”.

“United States of Tara” is a comedy-drama that aired for a couple of years on Showtime. Star of the show is the talented Australian actress Toni Collette. The character she plays is Tara, a woman suffering from multiple personality disorder.

46. “Chasing Pavements” singer : ADELE

“Chasing Pavements” is a 2008 song written and recorded by English singer Adele. Apparently, Adele wrote the song after discovering that a boyfriend had cheated on her. She met up with him in a bar, punched him in the face and then stormed out. As she walked down the road she asked herself, “What is it you’re chasing? You’re chasing an empty pavement”. I should explain that “pavement” is not the road surface in Britain, but rather the footpath.

47. Some mil. hospitals : VAS

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) was formed in 1930 to manage pre-existing government benefits affecting war veterans, some of which had existed since the days of the Continental Congress.

53. White weasel : ERMINE

The stoat has dark brown fur in the summer, and white fur in the winter. Sometimes the term “ermine” is used for the animal during the winter when the fur is white. Ermine skins have long been prized by royalty and are often used for white trim on ceremonial robes.

59. State categorically : AVER

The verb “to aver”, meaning “to profess”, comes from the Latin “adverare” meaning “to make true, to prove to be true” from “ad” (to) and “verus” (true).

60. Ides of March word : BEWARE

In Act I of William Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar” a soothsayer warns the doomed emperor to “beware the ides of March”. Caesar ignores the prophecy and is subsequently killed on the steps of the Capitol by a group of conspirators on that fateful day.

64. Roughly three nautical miles : LEAGUE

A league is a unit of distance that dates back to the Middle Ages. No longer used, it was originally defined as the distance that a person could walk in an hour. In the English-speaking world, a league was equal to three miles on land, and three nautical miles at sea.

65. Often-fried tropical fruit : PLANTAIN

There is no botanical distinction between bananas and plantains. The terms simply describe fruit intended for eating raw (bananas) and fruit intended for cooking (plantains).

67. It may be diagrammed : SENTENCE

A sentence diagram (also “parse tree”) is a visual representation of the grammatical structure of a sentence.

Down

1. On the paltry side, as an offer : LOWISH

The adjective “paltry” comes from an older use of “paltry” as a noun meaning a “worthless thing”.

2. Between-finger-and-thumb quantity : A PINCH

In cooking, the terms “dash”, “pinch” and “smidgen” can all be used for a very small measure, one that is often undefined. However, you can in fact buy some measuring spoons that define these amounts as follows:

  • a dash is 1/8 teaspoon
  • a pinch is 1/16 teaspoon
  • a smidgen is 1/32 teaspoon

3. They mind your own business : YENTAS

Yenta (also “Yente”) is actually a female Yiddish name. In Yiddish theater “yenta” came to mean a busybody, a gossip.

7. Columnist Maureen : DOWD

Maureen Dowd is a celebrated columnist for “The New York Times” as well as a best-selling author. Dowd won a Pulitzer for her columns about the Monica Lewinsky scandal.

8. Marine eagle : ERNE

The ern (sometimes “erne”) is also called the white-tailed eagle or the sea-eagle.

13. Dots in la mer : ILES

In French, an “île” (island) is “terre dans la mer” (land in the sea).

14. Aloha State bird : NENE

The nene is a bird that native to Hawaii, and is also known as the Hawaiian goose. The name “nene” is imitative of its call. When Captain Cook landed on the islands in 1778, there were 25,000 nene living there. By 1950, the number was reduced by hunting to just 30 birds. Conservation efforts in recent years have been somewhat successful. The nene was named State Bird of Hawaii in 1957.

The official nickname for Hawaii is “The Aloha State”. Hawaii is also referred to as “Paradise of the Pacific” and “The Islands of Aloha”.

21. Prefix with play : COS-

Cosplay (costume play)

23. Oranjestad’s island : ARUBA

Oranjestad is the capital city of the island of Aruba in the Caribbean. Aruba is a constituent country in the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Oranjestad translates as “Orange Town”, and was named for the first King William of Orange-Nassau.

24. Petty officer : BO’S’UN

A boatswain works on the deck of a boat. He or she is unlicensed, and so is not involved in the navigation or handling of the vessel, and instead is in charge of the other unlicensed workers on the deck. “Boatswain” is pronounced “bosun” and this phonetic spelling is often used interchangeably with “boatswain”. The contraction “bo’s’n” is also very popular.

28. Woodworking tool : ADZ

An adze (also “adz”) is similar to an axe, but is different in that the blade of an adze is set at right angles to the tool’s shaft. An axe blade is set in line with the shaft.

31. __ Grande : RIO

The Rio Grande (Spanish for “big river”) is a river forming part of the border between Mexico and the United States. Although we call the river the Rio Grande on this side of the border, in Mexico it is called the Río Bravo or Río Bravo del Norte (Spanish for “furious river of the north”).

32. Only partner? : ONE

Today is my wife’s birthday, the one-and-only love of my life … 🙂

34. System used for many returns : E-FILE

E-file: that’s certainly what I do with my tax return …

37. 1972 host to Nixon : MAO

President Richard Nixon made a famous visit to China in 1972 that marked a thawing in the relationship between the United States and the People’s Republic of China (PRC). It was the first time that a US president had visited the PRC, and followed several secret diplomatic missions to Beijing by National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger. During the week-long visit, President Nixon had talks with Chairman Mao Zedong, and First Lady Pat Nixon was very visible as she toured schools, hospitals and factories.

38. Lumberjacks never retire, they just __ : PINE AWAY

A lumberjack is a logger, one harvesting and transporting trees to mills. As one might perhaps imagine, “lumberjack” was originally a Canadian term.

40. Horatian creation : ODE

A Horatian ode is an ode with a specific structure, one designed to resemble the odes of the Roman poet Horace.

47. Vance of “I Love Lucy” : VIVIAN

In the hit television show “I Love Lucy”, Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz play Lucy and Ricky Ricardo. The Ricardos’ best friends are also their landlords, Fred and Ethel Mertz. The Mertz’s are played by William Frawley and Vivian Vance.

48. Lackluster : ANEMIC

The term “anemia” (or “anaemia”, as we write it back in Ireland) comes from a Greek word meaning “lack of blood”. Anemia is a lack of iron in the blood, or a low red blood cell count. Tiredness is a symptom of the condition, and so we use the term “anemic” figuratively to mean “lacking in vitality or substance”.

Something described as lackluster is dull, it “lacks luster”. The term “lack-luster” was probably coined by the Bard himself. William Shakespeare used is in his play “As You Like It”, which was probably written in 1599:

And then he drew a dial from his poke
And, looking on it with lackluster eye,
Says very wisely, “It is ten o’clock.

51. Stocking shades : ECRUS

The shade ecru is a grayish, yellowish brown. The word “ecru” comes from French and means “raw, unbleached”. “Ecru” has the same roots as our word “crude”.

55. OPEC units : BBLS

The volume of one oil barrel is equivalent to 42 US gallons. A barrel is correctly abbreviated to “bbl”. Barrels aren’t really used for transporting crude oil anymore. Instead, oil moves in bulk through pipelines and in tankers. “Barrel” is just used as a unit of volume these days.

56. Lively country dance : REEL

The reel is a Scottish country dance that is also extremely popular in Ireland.

58. Tall __ : TALE

In centuries past, “tall talk” was important and grand discourse, and the opposite of “small talk”. Somehow, this use of the adjective “tall” came to be used in the phrases “tall tale” and “tall story”, which both describe an account that is untrue and not to be believed.

62. Got on the ballot : RAN

Today, a ballot is a piece of paper used to cast a vote. Back in the 1500s, a “ballot” was a small “ball” used in the process of voting.

63. Round Table VIP : KNT

Knight (knt.)

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Complete List of Clues/Answers

Across

1. Save for later : LAY ASIDE
9. Place to doodle : MARGIN
15. Smooth talker : OPERATOR
16. 1969 World Series competitor : ORIOLE
17. Watchmakers never retire, they just __ : WIND DOWN
18. Elite area of the pop charts : TOP TEN
19. Passionate about : INTO
20. Musicians never retire, they just __ : DECOMPOSE
22. Beetle-shaped artifact : SCARAB
25. Grad school grillings : ORALS
26. FDA overseer : HHS
27. Urban network : ROADS
30. First name in architecture : EERO
33. Prime letters? : USDA
34. Acclimate gradually : EASE IN
36. One not seen on “MTV Unplugged” : AMP
39. Beekeepers never retire, they just __ : BUZZ OFF
41. Anonymous surname : DOE
42. Pal : PAISAN
44. Polish language : EDIT
45. Actress Collette of “United States of Tara” : TONI
46. “Chasing Pavements” singer : ADELE
47. Some mil. hospitals : VAS
50. Spew out : EGEST
53. White weasel : ERMINE
55. Tree surgeons never retire, they just __ : BRANCH OUT
59. State categorically : AVER
60. Ides of March word : BEWARE
61. Teachers never retire, they just __ : MARK TIME
64. Roughly three nautical miles : LEAGUE
65. Often-fried tropical fruit : PLANTAIN
66. Least candid : SLYEST
67. It may be diagrammed : SENTENCE

Down

1. On the paltry side, as an offer : LOWISH
2. Between-finger-and-thumb quantity : A PINCH
3. They mind your own business : YENTAS
4. Fervor : ARDOR
5. Glum : SAD
6. “What was __ do?” : I TO
7. Columnist Maureen : DOWD
8. Marine eagle : ERNE
9. Hustle : MOTOR
10. Kitchen magnet? : AROMA
11. Gentle waves : RIPPLES
12. Farmers never retire, they just __ : GO TO SEED
13. Dots in la mer : ILES
14. Aloha State bird : NENE
21. Prefix with play : COS-
23. Oranjestad’s island : ARUBA
24. Petty officer : BO’S’UN
28. Woodworking tool : ADZ
29. Out of it : DAZED
31. __ Grande : RIO
32. Only partner? : ONE
34. System used for many returns : E-FILE
35. Word with dark or hours : AFTER …
36. Suitable : APT
37. 1972 host to Nixon : MAO
38. Lumberjacks never retire, they just __ : PINE AWAY
40. Horatian creation : ODE
43. Billboards and posters : SIGNAGE
46. From __ Z : A TO
47. Vance of “I Love Lucy” : VIVIAN
48. Lackluster : ANEMIC
49. Calm : SERENE
51. Stocking shades : ECRUS
52. It may be fitted : SHEET
54. Finish choice : MATTE
55. OPEC units : BBLS
56. Lively country dance : REEL
57. Decides what’s fair, among other things : UMPS
58. Tall __ : TALE
62. Got on the ballot : RAN
63. Round Table VIP : KNT

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31 thoughts on “LA Times Crossword 3 Jan 19, Thursday”

  1. LAT: 9:00, no errors. WSJ: 30:10, 1 dumb error. Took too long to figure out exactly how the theme worked on this one. When I tore out a couple of sections to fix, didn’t see one. Good stiff polished challenge from this constructor as always. Newsday: 8:37, no errors. BEQ to come later.

    @John Daigle (from yesterday)
    I barely remembered what I think I wrote that you’re referencing, and looked back to find the thread here.

    What I was saying then was that typing is generally faster for whose that know how, like me. Then compare that to my ability with writing, which is not as good as it probably should be, but getting slightly better (still have problems). I was saying that I typically get faster times with electronic solving on puzzles I know answers to because of my typing ability, and pointing out that there’s an apples to oranges relationship between comparing electronic times and hand-written times.

    I do puzzles both ways when I post times depending on the day and week, but I don’t always say which way I’m doing it.

    1. I think it should also be pointed out that not all online solves are equal. There’s a huge difference between doing puzzles on my desktop, with an actual keyboard, and on my mini tablet, with a virtual keyboard. Typing with one finger is a lot slower, and more error-prone, than typing with ten (which is why, except for the NYT crossword, where the online app offers other advantages, I do crosswords on paper).

      Perhaps it’s also true that turning in a fast time should not be one’s principal goal; the point, for me, is to do the puzzle correctly and enjoy the process; if I do finish quickly, it’s a bonus and reflects the fact that I’ve been doing them essentially every day for 65+ years. (Seems like you ought to get better at something, with that much time to practice … 😜.)

    2. BEQ: 17:22, no errors. Wasn’t too bad.

      I don’t know too much about how tablets work, but I’m sure texting is another skill entirely outside typing and hand-writing. I am aware though that there are people that can text quite fast too (faster than handwriting), so I’m sure that would be an advantage too.

      As for timing things, I’ve explained that many times before. I know I’m not going to be anything special, but since finishing these things have grown commonplace for me and errors have gotten rare, I need another measure for myself and timing is that.

  2. Mr. Daigle, just want to say I got a kick out of your pun from Wednesday: drove off in a FIT or a FURY. 😁 Thanks for the laugh!! Also, any time you want to read comments from the previous day, you can just click on the date on the left hand side here.

    1. Thanks, Carrie. Boy, you were up late! I had been sleeping for almost
      5 hours when you posted this! I can vaguely remember those days.

      I might have to be on Anonymous’ side today and name this one
      “Constructor’s Revenge”. We could only get about 75% of it, doing
      very well on the bottom half but bombing the top. My first idea for
      a theme was to start each one with “Keep On”, but this was not it.
      Happy day, everyone. There is no “Mr.” in my name. Maybe Mr. John,
      if anyone cares or insists.

  3. Fairly easy Thursday puzzle. The Italian word for town is “paese” with a “paesano” being a townsman; as in the puzzle frequently misspelled in the US. Interesting that the French cognate is “paysan” meaning farmer finally coming to English as “peasant”. The meaning evolves with the spelling.

    1. The U.S. spelling “paisano” isn’t wrong; it’s just different from the Italian. In fact, Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary includes an entry for “paisano” but not for “paesano.” Americans spell plenty of words differently than, say, the British, even though the meanings are identical (color/colour and realize/realise, to name just two). No reason to bat an eye at paisano/paesano, especially since American English and Italian are different languages, not just variations of the same one.

  4. LAT: 7:59, no errors; cute theme. Newsday: 7:53, no errors. WSJ: 17:51, no errors; clever theme. BEQ: 13:04, no errors; another easy one (with, for me, the possible exception of one entry in the lower right).

    I finished the four bonus kenkens from “www.kenkenpuzzle.com”, only to find that they were duplicates of ones from the past, so I sent them a pretty irate letter (pretty irate for me, anyway). If you’re going to advertise all-new puzzles, then they damn well ought to be new, right? They still have the best kenkens around, in general, but it appears to me that Tetsuya Miyamoto (the creator of kenkens) is no longer providing the bonus puzzles and they’re playing fast and loose with them. (All of which is a kind of “heads up” for any kenken addicts lurking here.)

  5. The NW corner would have a less ink overs if I hadn’t gone from “set aside” to “put aside” to finally the correct “lay aside”. Also went in useless circles for a while by coming up with “branch off” before seeing it needed to be “branch out” to work with the down clues for 57 and 58. Finally all was good in the land of Crossword Puzzledom!

  6. (@Tony, me too re both “SET aside” and “branch OFF.”) Cute theme, fun solve, but very easy for a Thursday. Nitpicks: 9D clue “Hustle” for … MOTOR? Huh? Please use it in a 67A for me😏. And KNT abbr for knight … if you say so, Pawel.

    1. @Joe (who doesn’t blow!)…ha

      When it comes to slang I’m often left in the lurch, but in this case I have known others to use motor for move fast as in; “I really had to motor to make my flight.”

  7. @Jeff – more on Kosher fish – shellfish are not considered fish and are trayf. (Love those mussels.)

    Liked today’s clever theme. However, thought KNT was dreadful as an abbrev.

    Had to Google for ORIOLE (sports) and AMP (youth). Did not know HHS, TONI, COS, or BBLS,
    Had “set” ASIDE before LAY ASIDE, stOve before AROMA, nApkIN before MARGIN.

  8. 26 min. and no errors.
    The NYT AND LA TIMES are in my paper everyday . If it wasn’t for the La times I would cancel my (very expensive) subscription and quit crosswords for good.
    I may be exacturating a bit but those NYT people live in a different world from us mere mortals.
    Today’s NYT (1129) was the worst puzzle I have ever seen.
    Unlike Dave I have been doing them for only about 20 yrs. YUCK

    1. >If it wasn’t for the La times I would cancel my (very expensive) subscription and quit crosswords for good.

      Speaking of online stuff… a lot of us that do crosswords on here that hand-write actually obtain most all puzzles that way, including the LA Times…for free. So if you have a printer, you can do puzzles online any way you want without the newspaper subscription (if you don’t want that).

      As for the NYT, I’ve been doing puzzles probably 4 or 5 years and doing the NYT probably for 2 or 3. While I agree that most of the puzzles that Shortz trots out have a lot to be desired, I do tend to manage most of them now even if it takes a glacially long time to do it. (Gotta look 2 or 3 days back of syndie to find my posts on Bill’s other blog.) Don’t know if there’s any particular reason why I manage, but somehow I do – it always surprises me that I finish these things.

    2. You’re on your own on Thursdays in the NYT puzzle. Seeing your response, and even realizing that I stopped doing that puzzle for precisely the same reason (shenanigans), I went and braved 1129-18. I actually finished it…. it was decidedly evil.

  9. I found this hard today. Just could not get the SW to work. “Paisan” as pal was a stretch because was not thinking for a foreign word. Also, wanted to put “boughs out” for “branch out.” And I finally gave up.

    Glenn & Dave: Enjoyed you explanation on doing puzzles on line and all the various ways you do your puzzles. I don’t time myself, but like you mentioned I still have fun doing them MY way. Happy New Year” everyone.

  10. 21:51 and as has been the case all week, this felt hard for me. I think (hope!) that it’s a reflection of my state of mind. I’ve been extremely busy and really haven’t had time for any crosswords lately (but I’m doing them anyway). I find my thoughts wondering while solving towards other things I need to be doing. End of extemporaneous sidebar/excuse….

    I did like the punny theme and thought it was clever. For whatever reason I found DECOMPOSE to be the most amusing theme answer.

    As I understand it, plantains are a subset of “bananas” which is a very broad term. What we call bananas here and what we call plantains here, however, are different entities. Plantains tend to be longer, greener and heavier with less sugar and thicker skins. They taste a lot like a potato when fried. Fried plantains are served like french fries in a lot of Latin American countries. A fried banana of the variety we’re used to here would taste quite differently.

    Dave – 65 years of doing crosswords?? Wow. I did my first crossword at age 50 (55 now) here at the LA Times. It was a couple of years later that I started doing the NYT puzzles. I bring all this up because according to the NYT software, my next completed crossword (hopefully today) will be my 500th solve. That’s a little arbitrary as it only counts crosswords done online, 100% correctly and within 24 hours of their being released. But it’s pretty close to the number of NYT’s I’ve done now. I suspect my LAT numbers would be close to double that. I tried calculating 65 years of doing crosswords, but my calculator blew up…..but it’s 23,725 days plus leap days….

    Good KNT everyone.

    Best –

    1. Saw this after it was too late to edit: I find my thoughts wAndering not wOndering. In truth my mind wanders while it wonders, but that’s a different discussion…

      Best –

    2. > That’s a little arbitrary as it only counts crosswords done online, 100% correctly and within 24 hours of their being released.

      I tried figuring out the number of crosswords I’ve done to this point and pretty much gave up just on the ones I post about on Bill’s blogs given WSJ holidays and breaks and ones I didn’t actually do and the like. On average, I post 33 puzzles a week, which makes for 1716 puzzles a year. Then there’s a random number (less than 3) generally that I don't talk about here including my Fireball subscription. Then looking back I didn't do all of those (maybe the LAT and one more every once in a while) when I started (about 3-4 years ago). Then there's the regular crossword book solves I've done, which I'm guessing pushes around 200 or so in the entire period I've done crossword puzzles.

      It's mind boggling, but they do pile up quick (365 NYT or LAT grids in one year, not counting leap years) and I know I didn't realize it until I thought about it seriously to write the paragraph above. It probably is scary to see if someone like Bill or Dave quantified the number they've done in their lifetimes.

      I wonder sometimes if I should be scared or not thinking about how many of these I do, or anyone else for that matter.

    3. I did my first crossword puzzles at about the age of 8, in the Mason City (Iowa) Globe-Gazette. I remember taking them to school (a one-room country school), where I had access to an ancient copy of Webster’s 2nd and an equally ancient copy of some encyclopedia (an Americana, I think), and spending hours on them, even though they were easy ones and probably no larger than 13x13s. In October, 1970, I began doing the NYT puzzle in the local paper; I didn’t start using the app until April 13, 2016, but I practiced using it on older puzzles in the archive, so my count is now up to 1109 (as it does count the older ones). My current streak is 123, my longest streak was 469, and my solve rate is 99.9% (which is nothing to brag about, because that includes some puzzles that I had to use Google on – which it doesn’t know about, so let’s all keep it quiet, okay?). So there you have it … a lot more than anyone here wanted to know … 🤪

  11. 14 mins 52 sec, and escaped unscathed. I dunno if I’m losing my mojo or what, but it seems that far too many clues are just piss poor. This one was pretty good, themewise, but several other clues seemed to go out of their way to find a vague, or misleading way to elicit a response. Even having finished it, I feel more annoyed than anything else.

  12. My NYS license plate says OCDOCD, but youse guys (as they say in these parts) got me beat, counting the # of puzzles you do.

  13. Enjoyed the theme and the double z led me to the theme. I have been doing crossword puzzles for years but only recently found Bill and this excellent website. I hope you welcome newcomers!

  14. Dave, do remember the Patterson James Funeral home in Mason City? That was my grandfather Floyd James, and my mother is Jule James who grew up there. Wondering if you knew her?

    1. I do remember that funeral home (near the big public library, I think?) and I have been there more than once, though I just checked and it was the Major Erickson Funeral Home that handled my dad’s funeral. I was born in Mason City and lived there until I was five, at which point we moved to a farm a bit north of Floyd, so my early memories of Mason City are mostly of visiting relatives there. In the late 60’s, my parents moved back and I lived with them briefly but, shortly after that, I moved to Colorado. Unsurprisingly, the name Jule James doesn’t ring a bell. It’s a small world!

  15. Pretty easy Thursday for me; took about 25 minutes or so with no errors. Not so many proper names, that I didn’t know – except for TONI, who of course I never heard of. All around, much easier than yesterday.

    Just had to change putASIDE, just like Tony and Joe, although I managed with the rest of the theme. It seemed like PAISAN should of been paisano, but I guess if this word is Americanized now…

    Not quite ready to BUZZOFF yet…

  16. Hello every buddy!!😎

    No errors. Challenging puzzle, but I enjoyed it, and the theme was cute and rather unique. 🙂 I also had SET and PUT ASIDE at first; that NW corner had me fretting and was the last section to fall.

    Of the semi-retirees, I thought tree surgeons had it best! They get to BRANCH OUT!! I thought DECOMPOSE was especially gruesome, but I for some reason was thinking literally there. Jeff, it’s funny that I had such a different reaction than you to that!! 😃 Anyway, as a teacher I’ll never just MARK TIME, even if I do retire. And Dirk, I’m glad you’re not going to BUZZ OFF!!🐝

    BTW– what’s with ECRU as a stocking shade?? Any woman here ever wear ECRU stockings??!

    Be well~~🍺

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