Old newspaper columnist Joseph / THU 9-10-15 / Leafy plant also known as mountain spinach / 1996-97 Deep Blue opponent / Worker for Deloitte / Butt of many 1970s automotive jokes / First of two columns in fashion magazine / Banned plant growth regulator / High-end bag maker / Conversation interrupter in car maybe

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Constructor: Tracy Gray

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging

THEME: SPILL THE BEANS (53A: Blab ... or a literal hint to completing five answers in this puzzle) — five Across answers turn down at their last word, which is also a kind of bean, so the "bean" part of the answer (which is also clued separately as a non-bean Down) is kind of "spilling" down the grid...

Theme answers:
  • OH/SNAP 
Word of the Day: ORACH (26D: Leafy plant also called mountain spinach) —
noun: orach
  1. a plant of the goosefoot family with leaves that are sometimes covered in a white mealy substance. Several kinds are edible and can be used as a substitute for spinach or sorrel. (mmmm... white mealy substance. Tell me more ...) (google.com)
• • •

This puzzle has several confusing or otherwise odd features. I love the concept, and the revealer, but there are some details of the theme execution that I have questions about. First, and least importantly, the revealer clue is oddly self-referential, in that it says it's a hint to "five answers in this puzzle." Usually whatever number of answers is indicated in a revealer refers exclusively to answers elsewhere in the grid. But the "five answers" here included the revealer itself. This meant that I spent a little while after I was finished trying to find the elusive Fifth Bean. It turned out to be not a particular bean but just the word BEANS in the revealer answer. So, odd. Second, and more importantly, SNAP bean is not a thing I've ever heard of. The other beans roll right off the tongue. Navy bean, string bean, pinto bean. But snap bean? No. I've heard of "snap peas" or "sugar snap peas" (I think ... I'm not confusing that with the cereal Sugar Snaps, am I?). But "snap bean." No. Turns out it's a regionalism. It's a term allegedly common to "the western and northeastern United States." Disturbingly for me, with an 8-year break in the '90s, the western and northeastern United States are the only places I've ever lived, and yet, as I say, never heard "snap bean." Seems like an odd man out.

But now we get to the Third, and biggest issue I have with the theme, and it's specific to "snap bean." Wikipedia tells me that "snap beans" are also known as "green beans," which are also known as [dum dum DUM] "*string* beans." So there are four alleged "beans" in the grid, except two of them are actually The Same Bean. Can you do that? That seems like a massive foul. There are So Many Other Beans In The World, I can't believe you had to double-dip in the green bean synonym jar like that. What a tragedy.

["The differences between green and string beans are easy to remember because they don't exist"]

Only a few other observations about this puzzle ...

  • 1A: Chophouse orders (STEAKS) — had weird amount of trouble getting started in NW because I wanted T-BONES here, and then even when I mentally inserted STEAKS, I couldn't get anything but TARE to work (2D: Weigh station factor), and wasn't sure of that. 
  • 31A: Butt of many 1970s automotive jokes (FORD/PINTO) — wrote in EDSEL, thinking "well ... I guess people were still joking about the EDSEL in the '70s...")
  • 37D: Chipped-flint tool (EOLITH) — fill in this puzzle is OK, but stuff like this (and ORACH, and ITER) goes on my No-Fly List of crossword fill. Technical and uncommon and only used as a crutch. I'd also put ALAR low on the desirability scale. And RARIN'. And ALSOP, for sure (4D: Old newspaper columnist Joseph).
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


wreck 12:31 AM  

I liked this one and finished right at average time - so pretty medium here. I thought the quibbles on the theme were nits - not flaws.

jae 12:37 AM  

Pretty easy for a Thurs. for me. My erasure was COrn before COBS and my WOE was ORACH. 

The technical aspects of BEAN categories didn't really bother me.

Very cute/clever theme and, unless I'm missing something, not much dreck.  Liked it.

chefwen 12:53 AM  

Made the same journey as Rex I.e. looking for the fifth bean, head scratching over SNAP pea vs. bean. And so on.
Jon really messed me up on the west coast filling in Tesla at 29D, but we finally worked it out. That was our only write-over area, so I'm going with easy/medium. It really helped getting the theme early on with OLD NAVY shortly followed by SPILL THE BEANS.

Would have liked something a tad bit more tricky on a Thursday, but I'll take it as is.

Da Bears 1:17 AM  

Sorry, Rex, but beans are beans, so I have no problem with what they are called or if two answers by a different name are green beans. Brown beans, white beans, black beans, green beans are all BEANS.

Loved the concept and the execution.

I also love beans of all kinds, even black-eyed peas, which are beans.

PS. Pass the Gas-X....

woolf 2:54 AM  

After HILO/LOPE and ORACH, I actually abandoned this puzzle for awhile; half-baked is not how beans are prepared.

Music man 6:22 AM  

Wow didn't even realize they were all beans, just thought it was nice that the downs were words not clued as "-"'s. I like the puzzle though despite your well pointed out theme issues. An if I remember correcty, you're thinking of sugar snap peas because that was an answer recently and you had to ask your wife if it was legit. Don't ask me why I remember that lol

Loren Muse Smith 6:47 AM  

Saw the trick early with OLD NAVY, and like Rex, I loved the idea and how it looked with all the beans spilling down.

The phrase SNAP BEANS is definitely in my lexicon, and whether they're STRING beans or not, I didn't mind it at all. I do know that whatever they are and no matter how carefully I snap and string them, you always get a bunch of tough dental flosssome strings that have to be swallowed whole when you eat at my house. I have a big framed poster that says, “Lots of people have eaten in this kitchen and gone on to lead perfectly normal lives.”

Had a dnf because of an "apb" interrupting a car conversation crossing Kim's "sib" Khloe. These both make sense, so I never would have fixed all that to reveal PING PONG. I did manage to vamoose my good-for-the-long run "luge" so I got everything but the PINGPONG/GRE cross. Sheesh. Princeton Review. Right. I immediately changed that to "Princeton Law Review" in my mind and never recovered.

I, too, really liked the fact the the beans coming down were clued separately as non-beans but that the acrosses spilling the beans down were clued as one entry. In retrospect, I guess it would've been almost impossible to do otherwise CREEP INTO could've worked for FORD PINTO, but that's all I could come up with.

This is the perfect kind of Thursday puzzle, and I thought it was terrific.

TokyoRacer 6:59 AM  

Finally a gimme! I went to the University of Delaware!
The full team nickname is Fighting Blue Hens. The Fighting Blue Hens were a revolutionary war unit from Delaware.
And we always have good football teams. QB Joe Flacco of the Baltimore Ravens was a Blue Hen.

Lewis 7:57 AM  

@rex -- I was on your wavelength one hundred percent today, except I like RARIN.

I looked for that elusive fifth bean and also never heard of SNAP beans, and wanted "t-bone" at 1-a. I wanted a theme answer at 6D, but you just can't find SYNDROME beans anywhere. I especially liked as answers PRIORS and KEENON, and the clues for HEELS, STRING, GALE, and OUCH. I figure Will had to take this, with PINGPONG as an answer. Plus, there is a high FLY, and ARISEN is indeed arisen. I liked the anagrams ALAR and LARA, and just for this puzzle it would have been cool to have ARAL as an answer.

The theme was great. When I made the spilled bean connection, I broke into a big smile. With some tough cluing, this had bite as well, so I greatly enjoyed the solve. Thank you Ms. Tracy.

Norm 7:58 AM  

Didn't we have the same fuss about snap beans recently? Maybe it was peas that time. Didn't bother me then; didn't bother me today.

joho 8:08 AM  

Cool BEANS! Brava, Tracy Gray!

SNAP BEANS & STRING BEANS are both common names to me. And, more importantly, they are both BEANS along with other the BEANS SPILLing throughout the grid ... what a great visual! And excellent execution of a very clever concept. (I love how SNAP describes how they sound and STRING how they look.) Throw some NAVY and PINTO BEANS into the pot and you've got the makings of a delightfully delicious Thursday puzzle. I loved it!

Sorry, @Rex, but your objections today don't amount to a hill of BEANS!

chefbea 8:15 AM  

What could be bad about a puzzle having a food theme??? Although I did not realize that they all were beans until I read Rex's commentary. Never heard of orach!! and if I have to mush something up - like beans- I puree . I do not pulp them. That is definitely a no-no!!

Unknown 8:18 AM  

I really liked the puzzle, except for 41D, heapup. Is that a regionalism? I've never, ever used or heard those two words as a single phrase.

mac 8:18 AM  

Very nice theme, but I also searched for that 5th bean.

Oops, just found I had sib at 72A....

Charles Flaster 8:23 AM  

Liked this medium puz and could not get the OLD NAVY/ DCON crossing.
Write over GRE for sat.
Lots of clever cluing --- PING PONG, LOPE, SPREE and OBSCENE.
CrosswordEASE--ALAR, ITER and LANAI.
I thought "Rarin to go" should have been in quotes.
Thanks TG

jberg 8:24 AM  

Clearly, @Rex is not a home gardener. I am, but still, ORACH? No. Other than that, I liked the puzzle a lot, even if the constructor didn't manage to work in JACOB'S CATTLE.

nkwhitecar 8:26 AM  

This puzzle was a joy. I loved HERMES and the clue for SALAD, and I laughed out loud with OH SNAP. I also thought about whether there would be 5 beans in addition to the theme clue, but it didn't stall me. Thanks Tracy Gray!

L 8:27 AM  

I'm with Rex today - spot on.
I was confused by Orach. I attend a synagogue called Orach Chaim, which I now understand to mean "Leafy Spinach of Life". Is this god's way of telling me to eat more greens? Might make this my new year's resolution. Happy new year!

Nicole Whitecar 8:28 AM  

This puzzle was a joy. I loved HERMES and the clue for SALAD, and laughed out loud to OH SNAP. I also thought about whether there would be five additional beans, but it did not derail the solution. Thanks Tracy Gray!

Susierah 8:38 AM  

Take this from a Georgia girl, there is a big difference in snap and green beans. Snap beans are much larger and tougher and you never would cook them whole. Rather, you snap off the ends, pull the strings down, and "snap" the bean into bite size pieces and then cook until done. My Daddy grew snap beans! I always think of green beans served like haricot vert.

Really enjoyed this puzzle, loved the clues for salad and heels.

George Barany 8:39 AM  

I had the pleasure of getting to meet the constructor, @Tracy Gray, at the 2015 ACPT. She and her husband run a nursery in Maryland, so I assume they know their BEANS ... and sneaky of @Tracy to sneak in BETHESDA (where the NIH has its main campus) and BLUE_HEN (the University of Delaware mascot) for some regional color.

In solving the puzzle, I was quite sure of TAP at 69-across, but had second thoughts when GAS fit the 66-down clue so perfectly (especially if the car trip was resumed shortly after a bean-laden meal at a Mexican restaurant).

Generic Solver 8:50 AM  

Is the proper name "table tennis" or "ping pong"? I thought the former was the proper name, although this article provides an interesting discussion on the topic: Ping-Pong or Table Tennis? Which is Correct?.

Tita 8:52 AM  

Didn't get the "They're all BEANS" part of the theme till coming here. Cool ones indeed.
Turned the puzzle from just ok to awesome. An "I wish I'da thought of that!" Idea.

My folks lived in Chevy Chase when my dad was first sent to the states. I always thought that was a funny name.

Thought I was going to DNF in NW...only thing I had in there was TARE. SYNDROME is greenpaintish.

Will must be getting soft in his old age...allowing PINGPONG instead of the proper table tennis?!

Thanks Ms. Gray for a very clever Thursday.

Mohair Sam 8:52 AM  

Easy-medium Thursday in this house, enjoyed it. We did the search for number five too. Thought there might be a STEAKS aND ROME offering at some chophouses, and maybe somebody suffered from SaNDROME's disease. But no, the obvious PARLEY hadn't turned strange plural on us.

@Rex gets his pick, pick, pick of the month award today (appropriately in the BEAN category) for his SNAP versus STRING silliness. Both are common terms - like chick peas and garbanzo beans (which are the same thing, you non-cooks). No problem using them both in the theme.

Do agree with ofl on EOLITH - strange, but it is late in the week and it filled fairly enough.

I don't remember jokes about the FORDPINTO btw, just law suits and horror stories - the money-saving adjustment that car's gas tank location is said to have cost lives.

GeezerJackYale48 9:00 AM  

TokyoRacer, I lived in Delaware for years, and watched three other QB's who played in the NFL beside Flacco: Rich Gannon (Raiders), Scott Brunner (Giants), and Jeff Komlo (Lions). Four NFL quarterbacks from a little school that for years ran the wing T formation - amazin!

As for the Pinto clue, I was very surprised to see it called "the butt of...jokes". We are not talking about the Edsel. The Pinto sold 3 million cars over 10 years. The problem was that rear-end collisions caused many fires because the gas tank was mounted in the rear. So it was hardly the butt of jokes. Rather, it was the source of many lawsuits. (According to Wikipedia, it was later proved that the car was no more prone to accident than the others in its class, but no matter, I guess).

Anonymous 9:14 AM  

Since the Pinto was killing people in rearend collisions, I'm not sure we joked about it.

Anonymous 9:29 AM  

Relative novice here, but should GPS (66D) not be clued as an abbreviation? Or do some acronyms become so common as to not require it. (27A is far more common, but the cluing is still there.)

Lobster11 9:32 AM  

It doesn't surprise me when OFL rates a puzzle "easy" that I found challenging, but it always does when it happens the other way around. The theme wasn't difficult to suss out, and once you see it the theme answers all fall quickly, so I'm a bit baffled at the "medium-challenging" classification -- unless that was simply in recognition of the extra time many of us spent looking for that elusive fifth type of BEAN.

The fact that SNAP beans and STRING beans are in fact the same kind of bean doesn't bother me: It didn't interfere with my enjoyment of the solve, and that's all that matters to me.

ArtO 9:45 AM  

Alsop a gimmie for those of a certain age. Thought the theme cute and the quibble with it overwrought. Sorta medium for a Thursday.

Rick Blaine 9:53 AM  

All of Rex's quibbles don't amount to a hill of beans.

Ludyjynn 9:57 AM  

Okay, Guys. I am compelled to don my lawyer HAT today in response to the clue, "butt of many 1970s automotive jokes". The FORDPINTO was no laughing matter. 500 deaths and hundreds of serious burn injuries were directly attributable to the 1971 car's faulty, rushed design. Lee Iacocca, Ford Chairman, pressured his design/manufacturing teams to push the project to market earlier than usual, bringing the Pinto in to compete with the VW Beetle for no more than $2,000. or 2,000 pounds. A simple rubber bladder installation costing $10.00, distributed over the fleet would have prevented the gas tank from exploding into flame when the car was hit from behind at speeds as low as 20 mph. BUT Iacocca refused to make the change, using a faulty cost/benefit analysis to justify his decision.

By the mid '70s, the class action lawsuits multiplied, a criminal indictment was brought against Ford, Iacocca was ousted and the company, paying out large judgments/settlements, went into a tailspin. NOT FUNNY!

I used this case study every semester in my Business Ethics course at JHU. It is as relevant today as ever to exemplify short-term thinking, greed and stupidity on the part of some business execs. BTW, in his autobiography, Iacocca devoted exactly one paragraph to the debacle.

I enjoyed this puzzle. Will admit to a DNF at 2 Down. TiRE instead of TARE. My bad.

Thanks, @ChefWen and @Z for the BACOs info. yesterday.

Thanks, TG and WS. Sorry for the rant.

cwf 9:58 AM  

Is this the first time that Jeff Chen was almost more critical than @Rex? "Inelegant"? Calm down, Mr. Chen!

But then @Rex redeems himself by digging deep to uncover his "Third, and biggest issue" (SNAP === green === STRING). Now that's some high-grade curmudgeonry.

Carola 10:13 AM  

Cute! I quickly turned the corner at OLD NAVY, and my path took me from there to the reveal, which helped me greatly with FORD PINTO and OH SNAP. After finishing I had to go back to find the STRING. Very creative use of double-cluing on those theme Downs!

I liked STEAKS over (almost) a garnish of PARsLEY and the pairing of HERETIC and SMARTY.

Help from previous puzzles: EOLITH, OH SNAP
Help from being an OLD'N: ALSOP
Wha? of the day: ORACH

@TokyoRacer - Thanks for the explanation of BLUE HENS.

mathgent 10:24 AM  

I agree with all of Rex's criticisms but I still found the puzzle enjoyable. Nice theme; I needed STRING to get SECONDSTRING. Only 16 terrible threes. A bit of crunch.

I mentioned yesterday the delightful Stephen Sondheim interview in which he told of submitting a crossword to NYT when he was 13. The interview was by Josua Kosman, the SF Chronicle music critic. Strangely, the piece was more about Sondheim's cryptic puzzles than about his music. I contacted Kosman to compliment him on the interview and he told me that he has co-constructed the cryptic in The Nation for the last four years.

GILL I. 10:46 AM  

Yep...Green Beans, String Beans and Snap beans are all the same.
@Loren...I only had the floss your damn teeth after each bean bite once. It takes a skosh of time (maybe between sips of wine) but It's worth it to take out the elusive string before you blanch them or whatever.
Hand up for looking for the 5th bean. I was hoping for KIDNEY or MUNG. EOLITH HERETIC I'm a SMARTY.
Only trouble was BLUEHEN but easy to spot.
Well, I know my BEANS and I enjoyed this little romp.
STEALSOP sounds like a 5th?

Arlene 10:55 AM  

I really enjoyed this one - but was also looking for that fifth bean. I did need a bit of help finding BLUE HEN - but ah well. Very clever construction!

OISK 10:56 AM  

Liked this one WAY more than yesterday's, (where most of the theme answers are completely meaningless to me and to anyone else who didn't watch the particular TV show referenced) and thought the difficulty was just right for a Thursday. Over the past year I have had more DNF on Thursday than any other day of the week, but this one was neat and solvable. Joe and Stewart Alsop were major columnists for years, and certainly ought to be familiar names to folks of my generation who read The Times.

Like Rex, I had "Edsel" before "Pinto." Clues about car models are no fun for me, TSX automaker? OK, five letters beginning with "A", no problem. Just glad the clue wasn't reversed. "Acura model," with the answer TSX. Those are the worst.

The first time "Aveeno" appeared, I mentioned that I had never heard of the brand. It appeared a second time recently, but was still completely unfamiliar. And then I happened to notice the brand of anti-itch cream I was spreading on my elbow. Aveeno. Been using it all summer. How could I not have noticed? I am a chemist, and I look at ingredients, not brand names. Or, I am slipping into senility and can no longer absorb new information. I will opt for explanation one...

Bob Kerfuffle 11:03 AM  

Seems that the "Answers which make a right-angle turn in the grid" is a category which has been growing recently, and possibly crowding out the old Rebus.

My two, linked, write-overs came at 38 A, where I had "READY to go" before "RARIN to go," which lead me, along with @Rex, to the wrong-decade, non-bean EDSEL before PINTO at 33 D.

Malsdemare 11:14 AM  

Boy I was dense today. Tootled (Hi @Da Bears) along very nicely, getting random answers all over the grid. Did NOT catch the theme until I got the reveal and then looked at all my holes for beans. DNF at OHSNAP; football ain't my thing. Swore at "high-end bag." I'm not too current with haute couture, but ultimately got Hermes, without the accent mark. Wonder if they found any EOLITHs with the new species of humankind. And what, prithee, is ORACH?

Thanks to all who waxed poetic over Merl Reagle last week. I was unfamiliar with him so I bought a couple of his books. One arrived yesterday and I was up til midnight, groaning, chuckling, erasing and finally achieving victory over several puzzles. Didn't practice the clarinet, work on my German, saw off the stumps in the backyard, walk my dog. Barely took time to eat dinner.

Maybe thanks is the wrong word . . .

Numinous 11:15 AM  

My wife grew up in a farming community in the south. She instantly knew what snap beans were. She told me about hours and hours spent snapping the ends and peeling off the strings to the point of bleeding blisters on her fingers when she was a child. Her family had acres of vegetable garden and she was free labor. So string, green and snap are essentially all the same bean. I think it's worth remarking that the one of the defining characteristics is the undesiarable part of the bean and, @LMS's kitchen aside, is usually discarded.

I had to look up Deloitte to figure that one out and that told me that neither mazdA nor hondA would work although ACURA is a Honda product. Wanted gamEHENS before I figured out BLUE.

Paleo-anthropology fascinates me. EOLITH rolls off the tongue very nicely. In the NYT today, it was announced that a new species of Homo has been discovered, Homo neledi who was, apparently, a maker of EOLITHs several million years ago.

I expect a chop house would have a STEAK SYNDROME, possibly served with beans baked, steamed, sauteed or boiled.

Tonto gave away the FORD PINTO which alerted me to the form of the conceit. Cute but no cigar for this esier than average (for me) Thursday puzzle.

Masked and Anonymous 11:15 AM  

@009's write-up is often thought-provokin, for M&A. But today might have posed a near life-alterin debate …
"There are So Many Other Beans In The World, I can't believe you had to double-dip in the green bean synonym jar like that. What a tragedy."

This was a challenge smacked into the face of a half-awake M&A. What are all these other beans? A subject I have rarely explored. Much to my astonishment, I had a pretty short list, at first …
* GREEN. Evidently also a duplication of STRING.
* LIMA. Not many phrases endin in LIMA, tho.
* MAGIC. Somethin tells me that wouldn'ta worked for @009, either.
* MEXICANJUMPING. I think this is actually more a function of the bug inside it, rather than a specific bean species(?)
* COCOA. Hard to clue COCOA as anything besides COCOA, tho. Ditto with COFFEE, SOY, and other food words, btw.
* JELLY. Might have some potential, I guess. My fave variety, at any rate.
* KIDNEY. I've no idea what that is, for sure. Don't care beans about it, either.

I think I had some uncles talking about their bean crops or bean gardens or somesuch, and they brought up POLE beans versus BUSH beans. Bet they were GREEN, tho...

Awwww… beans! Nice puz, Tracy.



Joseph Michael 11:23 AM  

Disagree with Rex's nitpicking today. This puzzle was a gem. My favorite of the week.

Got the theme early on with OLD NAVY but didn't get to the revealer until late so it was a nice aha moment when I realized that the themers were not only bent down but also types of BEANS.

Had CRIMES before PRIORS and EAGER before RARIN, so had a few unexpected twists and turns along the way.

Didn't know a number of entries such as ORACH, VACA, and KASPAROV, but all were sussable from the crosses.

Most difficult stretch of the imagination for me was getting from "Seeing" to WITH, but it finally made sense in dating terms and the puzzle was, at last, complete.

Thanks, Tracy, for. a fun solve.

Numinous 11:23 AM  

Oh yeah. Who can forget watching Richard Dreyfuss HEAP UP mashed potatoes in the shape of a mountain in Close Encounters of the Third Kind?
Does every pair of words have to be "in the language" or do they only have to make sense? I tend to be pretty happy with the latter.

Anonymous 11:32 AM  

I finished this puzzle in about five minutes except, except, I also kept looking for that elusive fifth bean. Just like I never heard of "tonic" here in Massachusetts, I never heard of a snap bean, so I started wondering if it wasn't a theme answer. So off I went in search of two more beans, figuring snap wasn't a them answer. I got into this weird thing in the southwest corner where "cyst" fit trying to make a bean fit after heretic, and ended up with something like "heretic cass" which seemed no stranger than "snap." So, five minutes for most of the puzzle, and then twenty looking for beans that didn't exist. Bright side? No obama reference today, except maybe string bean?

old timer 11:38 AM  

This puzzle was just hard enough that it could have run on a Thursday. Oh SNAP! It *is* Thursday!

I thought it was delightful in every way. Got the trick at OLD NAVY. But It took me the longest time to actually get SPILLTHE BEANS. And for a long time, I wanted to put in "Sage" HEN but I knew that could not possibly be right, for Delaware.

I bet I am not the only one who confidently wrote in "Crimes" instead of PRIORS, then wondered, was there a chess player called "Kascarov? I remembered it as KASPAROV. And after I did the Revealer, I immediately thought FORD PINTO, which cleared things up in the N. "Crimes" was my only writeover, though. Mostly the puzzle was a smooth solve, if a slow one. Kudos to Tracy Gray.

old timer 11:43 AM  

I should add that people who care about such things call them SNAP BEANS, because STRING BEANS have mostly lost their strings these days. When I was a kid, my mother often had to peel the strings off before putting them in the pot, on the rare occasion she didn't just reheat frozen green beans.

Most years, I grow snap beans in my garden (Blue Lake pole beans, for preference). What with the drought, we only planted tomatoes this year, and basil which died in the heat.

Leapfinger 11:50 AM  

@Lewis, Fava BEANS are SYNDROME BEANS, in a way. Favism, which occurs in G6PD-deficient individuals after eating fava beans, is marked by oxidative stress and hemolytic anemia, so that could be called a syndrome, if feeling charitable. BTW, fava beans (Vicia faba) are also called Broad beans, Horse beans, Tic beans, Field beans and Bell beans. Good thing none of those made it into the grid.

Now I have to see if I can find out why Pythagoras put a ban on beans. Perhaps because the square on the Hypoten Bean did not equal the sum of the baked with the other two frieds... um, no.

Steve O. 12:16 PM  

I like Thursdays & I am slow at Thursdays. My Thursday average (according to the NYT stats) is only a minute faster than my Friday average. Guess I need more practice. Can't wait for the BuzzFeed puzzles...


P.S.S I am also a Blue Hen & the Baltimore Ravens were named for Edgar Allen Poe's Raven and Poe also stayed a night in the Deer Park tavern in Newark, Delaware (the home of the University), so maybe Flacco had a beer there once and looked at all of the Poe memorabilia and dreamed of becoming a Raven himself. But Flacco probably never had an EOLITH.

Tom 12:17 PM  

Also agree with Rex about SNAP beans. Lived in the west all my life, heard of snap peas, but never beans. Searched and searched, and finally concluded the constructor erred. Easy solve, otherwise. Would have been nice if Tracy could have worked GARBANZO into the grid! That would have BEAN a feat!!

Nick 12:23 PM  

So many other bean clues they could have done... just offhand:




Anonymous 12:34 PM  

This was a fun one, I thought. But (and this a quibble) it would have been perfect if 1A and 6D were part of the theme. As a retired man with WAY too much time on my hands, as a hobby I crossbreed vegetables, just to see what I come up with. Nothing is what I have come up with so far. But if I am ever successful, I will officially name my new veg the Steak Syndrome, and happily give Tracy Gray a finders fee for the enormous profits from the ensuing sales! (For legal purposes, I'm just joking). Thanks for the puzzle, it was a delight.

RAD2626 12:35 PM  

Liked it a lot. Got the right turn or spill over with OLD NAVY right away but did not get BEAN connection until very end. Probably because in addition to Edsel for Pinto like others, I had ASSign for ASSORT and skiN for CYST so SE Corner was tough. Also had LaPs for LOPE which made whole bottom tougher than top half. PARLEY a good not often heard word. Clever concept and well executed in my opinion.

Joe 12:36 PM  

Anybody else get a little worried with the G and S in place on 66-Down (and considering the bean theme) that the missing letter for "Conversation interrupter in a car, maybe" might be an A?
Never been quite so happy to see a barroom TAP, and that's saying a lot.

Leapfinger 12:38 PM  

Mademoiselle from Armentiers, PARLEY-vous? made a nice start.

@TJ [if you're out there], maybe, just maybe, they mis-typed and meant PARLEY instead of PARsLEY that time they 'garnished' your wages. Garnisht with garnished, I still miss your posts.

Got OLD_NAVY turning down, but picked the FORD_EDSEL like @Rex, so missed the PINTO hint. EDSEL worked sonicely with Ready to go! That meant I was just looking for generic drop-downs till THE BEANS WERE SPILLed. A tough search to find them all, and I still suspect that's a 3-BEAN SALAD hiding the GREEN, YELLOW and KIDNEY BEANS.

Besides the sorry EDSEL, I had another snafu corner in the SW with DOH/OAHU and HIKE, till finally PONG set me straight. Tough when WE'RE low on our HI geography. Went with CORN first also, waddya expect?

Liked the crossing of HEELS with OUCH, and the entries EOLITH, KASPAROV and PORTFOLIO. Especially liked SYNDROME: if we can have an aeroDROME, a hippoDROME, and a special home for Sarah (PalinDROME), I firmly believe that SYN deserves a venue of its own.

Points to corn-sider:
DREAD alongside PINTO
OBviousSCENE, seeing MER...Si, again!
First sighting ever: Dang, OR ACH du lieber!
Is PINGPONG in the grid a sure-fire way to get the nod from the Shortzmeister?

TracyG, do us a fava and castor xwp HATS into the NYT ring again soon, just soya aren't gone too long. No Gray areas today and nice S_PREE de corps; this was AWL punch!

Greater Fall River Committee for Peace & Justice 1:04 PM  

hmmm, I knew all the stuff Rex thought was undesirable, from actually coming across them in real life. Unlike the silly crosswordese. Orach, eolith, alar, alsop. fine with me.

Anonymous 1:13 PM  

I'd like to weigh in on ping pong vs table tennis. My wife is a native Chinese person who came to the US around age 35. She plays ping pong, as do all her friends and family back in China. When we visit there (Guangzhou), there are tables all over the place, even outdoors. They all call it ping pong, which is the pronunciation of these two characters 乒乓. They all believe the name was derived from the sound of the balls hitting the racket and table.
My experience only includes 20 or 30 people living in one area of a country of over a billion, but there you go.

John V 1:27 PM  

Tres beans, is what I'm sayin' Nice Thursday outing.

AliasZ 1:30 PM  

Finally a nice puzzle after two uncharacteristically sub-standard offerings.

I perceived the theme as words that can precede BEAN to make common "bean" phrases spilling off the edge of a table, rather than examples of distinct BEAN varieties. I also would have been OK with green, wax, broad, pole, baked, re-fried, etc. I missed Lima and Garbanzo, but good luck finding snazzy phrases ending with either of these words. Perhaps Brazilian model-actress Adriana Lima would have worked. One side effect of today's theme is this.

Speaking of legumes, mountain spinach was new to me. It is called "atriplex hortensis" from the Amaranth family (you know, the Bethesda Amaranths), and the actual spelling is ORACHE. It is also called saltbush.

Do me a fava, raise a hand if you liked the movie "The Blazing Saddles."

Here is violinist Hugh BEAN playing some Vivaldi in anticipation of the upcoming season.

Anonymous 2:01 PM  

Maybe I'm being much too literal, but in what sense is "B" a string in a music class?

Teedmn 2:18 PM  

I owned a 1978 PINTO and got a lot of grief for it, especially after the classic Pinto explosion scene in the movie 'Top Secret'. So I was very wary when, at the gas pump, 2 AM after a Halloween party, a guy said to me, "Wow, those cars are great", referring to my pine green beater. When I asked him what he meant, he said, "I once drove one of those with no oil or water in it and we made it about 200 miles." Considering I was usually a quart or so shy and didn't add oil until the light came on when I hit the brakes, I couldn't really disagree.

This was a tough one for me, self-induced by having 'acne' in at 63D and teslA at 29D for way too long. I got the spilling at OLD NAVY but didn't get the BEANS part for a long time because BEANS doesn't equal nothin' for me and I didn't make the NAVY/PINTO connection right away. Then, after I got it, I tried to use it to solve the middle West but I had already found all the BEANS there were to be found. OH SNAP.

Thanks, Tracy Gray for a Thursday challenge.

Wednesday's Child 2:37 PM  

Missed OLD NAVY entirely. Stumbled on ALAR AND GRE.

Here's a question: is it just the NYT that features primarily male constructors or is it an actual representation of the disparity between male and female constructors?

H777 3:19 PM  

Rex, for crying out loud, stop criticizing the use of "oldies" like ALSOP. I've never heard you complain about the use of current rap "stars" or modern-day actors/actresses. Seems to me that a wide spectrum of knowledge (old stuff, current stuff, sports, literature, etc.) is fair game for use in crosswords!

Leapfinger 3:58 PM  

Just noticed we have a COBS SALAD to go with our ASSORTment of BEANS and STEAK. I hope the accompanying JAM is tomato.

When I got down to BETH__, my brain perversely wanted to finish with El, Israel or Shalom. Never mind how many times I've driven the DC Beltway going between NC and NJ/NY/CT. I could probably name all the exits up to 22B any other time, but not today.

It's 4 pm, children. Do you know where your parents are?

MIEinMA 4:18 PM  

OH SNAP was a complete WOE to me. Wikipedia says it was popularized by Tracy Morgan on SNL. If I heard it, it didn't stick.

LindaPRmaven 4:41 PM  

@Susierah thanks for setting the record straight on SNAPbeans.

Easy for me. Very smooth. Helps to know BLUEHEN (what a great state nickname!) and ALSOP right off. Had Edsel before Pinto but instantly realized I had to SPILLTHEBEANS when I looked back up at OLDNAVY. Clever theme.

Did the use of ASSORT as a verb bother anyone else? Have you ever heard anyone say, "I think I'll assort these into groups?"

the redanman 5:05 PM  

other than an awkward word or two easy-peasy

anonymous 5:58 PM  

Got Orach, Tare and Eolith with the cross fill and knew the Blue Hens which I suspect many people won't. I grew up in North Carolina and snap beans was a common term there.

chefbea 6:15 PM  

I check the comments all day long....no new comments since 9:53 am???? It's now 6:15 PM time for me to make our french beans!!!!!

Indypuzzler 6:33 PM  

I guess now, even more than before, you have to stay up very late or get up extremely early in the morning (or not work) to be in on a comment. I enjoyed the puzzle, was on the same page as Rex with bean comments, laughed at @Lewis because I really wanted a SYNDROME BEAN and really liked OH SNAP. For some reason I decided PARLEY was PARLAY and it took me a while to kind the KAENON to KEENON that I had ignored. All in all I thought the puzzle was fun and easy for a Thursday.

ZenMonkey 7:12 PM  

I enjoyed it, although since I hit OLD NAVY first, I though the gimmick had something to do with color. Once I twigged, it was fun. OHS to OH SNAP made me laugh, which means it's fine by me.

Got one gimme quickly: BETHESDA, where I grew up.
Did not get what should have been a gimme for an embarrassingly long time, since a doctor diagnosed me with (the formerly named) chronic fatigue SYNDROME years ago. I just couldn't get past SYMPTOMS. There's probably a half-decent psychological explanation.

Sallie (FullTime-Life) 8:47 PM  

This was fun! I am snapping some beans for supper tonight. ))

Tita 9:58 PM  

Please ask Mrs. Numinous how she feels about purple string beans.

No matter how thorough I am, dozens of gigantic, mutant beans are there the next day, laughing at how I managed to miss them in all their hugeness for days at a time. I'm thinking that purple beans will stand out better and be easier to harvest. (While they're beautiful, they disappointingly turn green the instant they hit hot water...)
Oh...our "farm" is 12'x12'...are they worth our very limited space?

In return for her wisdom, I will stop by and finish off that sky!

please ask your wife her opinion on purple beans...
Our "farm" is a 12x12' plot, plus some containers on the deck. After years of struggling to raise doomed tomatoes against the slugs, cutworms, chipmunks, raccoons, and shade, we raised the white flag and grow only what's content...which happens to be arugula and beans.

My question...

Hartley70 12:53 AM  

@LindaPRmaven. ASSORT is used as a verb in the textile industry where one ASSORTS an order into colors.

Numinous 10:53 AM  

@ Anonymous 2:01
Guitar strings are E A D G B E. I believe there are classes for guitar.

Anonymous 5:54 PM  

did you know that steak syndrome is a real thing though not a bean It is a bolus in the esophagus

R Raschick 4:09 PM  

What is the meaning of "with" resulting from the clue "seeing"?

Mike 4:14 PM  

How did the answer "with" follow from the clue "seeing"?

Mike 4:16 PM  

How did the answer "with" follow from the clue "seeing"?

A Teenager in Love 6:00 AM  

@Mike - I'm seeing this girl. I'm with this girl. I'm dating this girl.

Burma Shave 10:35 AM  


Because SIS is KEENON her picks, her PORTFOLIO’s OBSCENE,


spacecraft 11:12 AM  

I missed that one too. I had WIse, a fatal error. Blocked me from the whole SE when I put in another loser: rash instead of CYST. Nor did I fare better in the SW after committing yet another faux pas with APB instead of GPS. Couldn't she call her sister SIb? Nah, my bad. Most likely, neither of them knows the word "sibling." Anyway, with -PONa ending, PINGPONG just never occurred. Now I see it I feel dumber than a box of OPALs. It didn't help that I had "hike" for the football play starter.

The rest was fine. I got the trick early and, with gimme KASPAROV to kick things off, had the top half done lickety-split--though ORACH was a WOE forced in on crosses. But that south? Nope. DNF. Moving apparently hurts the brain as much as the bod. Folks, if you're thinking of moving...don't. Unless you really HAVE to. Then pick out the place where you want to die and make your last move. INC.

rondo 12:09 PM  

Usually not a big fan of a Thurs-puz (and Sunday, for that matter) MYSELF, but this one had no write-overs and was not terribly offensive, gimmick-wise, so, not so bad. Answers were kinda scattered before pulling the bean thing together – thought about profaNE but that OBSCENE S was sitting there already, so no actual w-o ink spilled.

If memory serves, today’s yeah baby LARA made an appearance in Hef’s mag while she was seeing (WITH) Jack Nicholson. Vaguely recall that it was not OBSCENE.

I remember the ALAMO rental car I had on VACA in FL 20-some years back – a two door Regal. Liked it so much that I bought one. Didn’t have a FORDPINTO, but a Maverick with the same gas tank issues, scary thoughts.

When I say this was an adequate Thursday (is there ever?) I almost feel like a HERETIC

leftcoastTAM 7:37 PM  

A little late, but had better things to do on a perfect Fall day here in wine country.

I liked this one, in some part, I'm bound to say, because I got it without too much trouble. First revealer entry was in the NE corner and the last in the SW. I'm KEENON symmetry.

I hope optimistically that Friday and Saturday will be as satisfying.

Anonymous 7:49 PM  

Very late to the party but here's my 2 cents. This was one heck of a fine puzzle and thank you T. Gray. It couldn't have been more fun and, as a bonus, we had the beans spilling. An exceptionally clever idea in spite of the negative nabobs above. I'm sorry but I couldn't agree with any of Professor Parker's comments. The theme was excellent, the fill was good so I'm rating it Easy/Medium. It took me all day because of 10 minutes here and 10 minutes there off and on but all told it was really a fast Thursday, for me. I'm giving it a Netflix *****

Ron Diego, La Mesa, CA (Where we all sing "Moon over Miami" without the humidity).

moderniste 12:39 PM  

I loved the bean theme--very cute. As a native Californian and thus west coaster, I do recall referring to green beans as snap beans, so it is "a thing".

Am I the only one with a juvenile enough sense of humour to have guessed at GAS instead of GPS for 66D, "Conversation interrupter in a car, maybe?" It would have fit the theme, certainly. :)

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