1946 Goethe Prize winner / SAT 10-31-15 / Gangsta rap characters / 1960s-80s Chevrolet coupe utility vehicle / Ways of sitting in yoga / Suddenly angrily stop playing game in modern lingo

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Constructor: Peter Wentz

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: none 

Word of the Day: MITZI Gaynor (50A: Gaynor with the one-woman show "Razzle Dazzle!") —
Mitzi Gaynor (born September 4, 1931) is an American actress, singer, and dancer. [...] Gaynor's one-woman show, Razzle Dazzle: My Life Behind the Sequins, toured the United States throughout 2009 and 2010 (including an acclaimed 2 week engagement in NYC); her tour resumed in 2011. (wikipedia)
• • •

I do love a Peter Wentz themeless grid. They are whisper quiet (almost no clunks or PLINKs) but also powerful and exciting.  There were pleasant surprises at every turn here: the EL CAMINO and THE KINKS and the ASANAS I should've been doing tonight instead of skipping out and drinking martinis. I feel no guilt, crossword, so shove it! I even mildly enjoyed remembering the defunct sad mall toy store KB TOYS (13D: Former chain store for kids). I had EB TOYS at first, which I think I got to via EB SPORTS ... only it's EA SPORTS ... and EB WHITE ... so I don't really know what happened there. There were some oddish phrasings, like SWARM INTO and SHOOTS IT, but I can deal with those. What's weird (and this may be the martini, who knows) is that when I look at this grid, I keep reparsing many of the answers. NOT RUMP! LAW OMAN! SHOOT SIT! R.E.M. AX! And, of course, GENE'S E.T. 

I had trouble getting started (typical on a Saturday) but then got going with SNUBS (26D: Academy omissions). That answer was transparent, but especially so, given that I had only seconds before glanced at this Tweet:

Coincidentally, I've made crosswords with both Chris Rock and Trevor Noah in the clues (never Seinfeld). Anyway, SNUBS led to ABS and ROOMS led to NOUN and RAGEQUIT led to IRAQ, and all of a sudden things were rolling. Then I ran into THUGS (40A: Gangsta rap characters). I had ---GS and I honestly said out loud "Oh ... don't be THUGS." But then HARIBO was like "Sorry, buddy, it's THUGS." And I just stared at the grid, wondering how the NYT can continue to not know that it has a race problem. And a glaring one, at that. Look, white people, please don't make me explain to you how it looks when a white-produced puzzle for a largely white middle/upper-middle-class audience not only barely acknowledges black people exist, but when it does, only does so via clues gleaned from a cursory (and often dated) understanding of rap and hip-hop. It's either HOMEYS or THUGS with this damned puzzle. And going to "gangsta rap" for a THUGS clue, however defensible from a strictly literal standpoint, is fucking terrible in the age of #BlackLivesMatter, when so many jackass racist white people are wielding "thug" like a racial epithet. I mean, the controversy over white people's use of "THUGS" has been all over the news. Just read. Just watch. This issue is everywhere. White people should leave "thug" the hell alone. It's loaded. We loaded it. I don't care if it actually does appear in rap music or on Tupac's torso or wherever. In the context of a white-produced puzzle for mostly white people, please, dear god, clue THUGS in some way where Race Is Not A Factor. It is, sincerely, the very least you could do.

I really did like this puzzle, though. That one answer notwithstanding.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


jae 12:14 AM  

Easy for a Sat. for me too. CAsios before CANONS was it for erasures.

HARIBO was a WOE.  I don't remember ever eating a gummy bear.

Speaking of skewing old, MITZI Gaynor is only slightly younger than Doris Day and Johnny OLSON would be 115 if he were still alive. The only thing representing the current century is the Snapchat clue unless 31a is really a political statement.

That said, the grid was very smooth with a soupçon of zip,  so liked it. 

Beau Davenport 12:46 AM  

Can someone explain SHOOTS IT to me?

Beau Davenport 12:46 AM  

Can someone please explain SHOOTS IT to me?

Andy Levy 1:05 AM  

I'm guessing you got "eb toys" from the video game retailer "eb games"

jp flanigan 1:10 AM  

Yeah, this puzzle was ruined by the clue for THUGS. I get that it's a word sometimes used in the Rap genre, but perpetuating a bad stereotype to an audience outside of the context of a hip-hop song....i don't know, it's bad. NYTimes ignored all past complaints i have made on their overlooking these "slips". Maybe it's time to RAGEQUIT and pull my subscription.

Too bad, otherwise, it's a great puzzle.

bwalker 1:20 AM  

It was EASY AS pie until ABC shot in with CANON (sic). You'd think an aural measure would be tONE, but FEStED UP felt like the opposite of clean, and SONE was unheard of. No yoga terminology to help with leg crossing, so I guessed. It's good hearing that happy jingle.

One of my first vehicles was a 1966 Chevy EL CAMINO. It looked cool, but the heap was constantly in need of repair, so I sold it to buy a '65 Pontiac Tempest that ran like a two-speed PowerGlide dream. Not much of a guess which is a collector's item today. No regrets; it was a money pit..

Kris in ABCA 1:42 AM  

I appreciated hearing your thoughts on the "thugs" usage these days. Point taken. Liked the linked article.

Paid Reader 1:45 AM  

Re "thugs" : Tell it, brother.

Casco Kid 1:45 AM  

Half easy. Half hopeless. I quit after an hour with 28 errors. No googles, but several dozen error checks. LAteMAN supported StoRMINTO. Juice cleanses are for cOloNS. HOnK if you want to grab attention. Kaybee was the toy chain. Clues were either easy or largely unrelated to the entry. You know I have the staying power for a 3 hour solve. I rejected IRAQ as nonresponsive to the Baath Party clue, which called for a stronghold/fort/town, not the whole country!? so never saw RAGEQUIT, but boy oh boy, that is what I felt. I RAGEQUIT this amateur effort in just under an hour.

monkey 2:29 AM  

had the same horror and dread at realizing thugs. otherwise a fun puzzle (and my fastest time for a saturday!) subliminal political opinion amusing, also fun trying to figure which uk band to choose before that quadrant fell into place.

but back to being serious, thank you for articulating your frustrations. the nyt puzzle needs a reality check on how harmful words can be.

Tyler James Young 2:34 AM  

Glad I'm not the only one who cringed there... Got my fastest time for a Saturday, though! Just happened to know a lot of these I guess.

Hays 3:39 AM  

I have no one else in my life that will care, but I just did this in a Tuesday time (so, yes, easy) and it absolutely made me feel better about being home, doing a crossword, on a Friday Night, before Halloween.

Anonymous 3:48 AM  

It's so the least thing you could do because it's not doing anything. Your stupid, lily-white speech codes are all about your terrifically anachronistic self righteousness, whitey, and nothing more. They're your pretending to do something while not doing anything..

John Child 4:56 AM  

By now we should not be surprised that BASHED IN, HAD IN, INS, and SWARM INTO can coexist in an NYT puzzle. Personally I'm happy to see the old "rule" about not duplicating any word relaxed if it leads to more interesting fill. Today though this felt like a bit much to me.

But I really didn't notice at the time, since I flew through this like it was Tuesday. This took me less than half as long as a typical Saturday puzzle, and about one-third as long as yesterday's puzzle. Almost every answer went straight in. The only hold ups were EASY AS (something that's not pie), SWARM (something), and does MITZI have a Z or an S.

Our resident yoga teacher @Lewis should like ASANAS. Interesting to see USAGES back, though I fear that our English teacher @Loren has left for good. We are a poorer community without her, @R.alph and others.

Dolgo 5:02 AM  

I liked it, too! It was fun for a change.

Charles Flaster 5:40 AM  

Very EZ for a Saturday but one mistake KBTObS crossing WNBC.never went back as it seemed correct.
Favorite clue was for FEUDS.
Rex-- liked NOT RUMP.

Write overs were EASY AS ABC for EASY AS pie and CANONS for epsONS.
No CrosswordEASE.
Thanks PW

George Barany 5:56 AM  

I'm impressed that @Rex found this puzzle to be easy, but I was eventually able to wrestle it to completion without resorting to Google, all while the proceedings from Citi Field competed for my attention.

It really helped to know that @Peter Wentz likes to load his grids with high Scrabble value letters (and in fact, this puzzle is a pangram). The breakthrough answer, for me, was PYREX -- great clue! RAGE_QUIT, an expression that I was unfamiliar with, emerged from assuming that @Peter would try to use a Q (hence, IRAQ > IRAN), and trying to find something semi-plausible that worked with some of the other crossing letters. Similar reasoning led me to MITZI (after getting nowhere with JANET) and its crossing the EUROZONE.

47-Across, with a wonderful clue, may pay homage to the late, great Henry HOOK. As for NO_TRUMP, yeah, I've played bridge, but let's keep my political sensibilities out of this commentary. The HESSE answer came from mostly ignoring the Goethe Prize clue, but just remembering there are not all that many 20th century German authors with crossword-friendly five-letter names. The only hint for my upcoming Halloween Night in the Laboratory was in the answer to 43-Down (another X, and crossing the science-themed AXON) ... can someone explain the clue, though?

IAmSethward 6:07 AM  

The confusion over KB/EB Toys comes from EB Games, which is (was?) a video game store in the vein of GameStop.

Rachel 6:23 AM  

Thank you, I cringed at THUGS too. Just erase that word from your lexicon unless you're talking about old movies featuring mobsters. PLUS the heyday of gangsta rap was 15-20 years ago. How is the Times so tone deaf? It's like they were *looking* for a way to reinforce the dog-whistle racism in that word. The Times (and all of us white people) NEED to do better than that.

Bozeman 6:32 AM  

Happy to have solved (an easy) Saturday in personal record time, I tune in... to hear an epic pc rant. One can share sensitivity without sharing Rex's views on the hijacking of language as a divisive tool. He might consider where that leads and how it might muddy (can I say that?) the waters. Or... maybe the proselytizing can be left to Fox or MSNBC... and a crossword site can be kept light-hearted.

Anonymous 6:35 AM  

I have always been bothered by the usually subtle racism and sexism n the NYT puzzle. I mean the clues for "bra" can often be downright insulting. Happy to see its not just me. The blatant ageism is, however, wonderful as those are my easiest puzzles.

Philippa Rizopoulos 6:54 AM  

Thanks for your "thugs" comment. Well put and spot on.


Paul Johnson 7:15 AM  

Got nothing to say. Just excited to be the first! Woo hoo. And yup, pretty easy for a Saturday. Though SWARMINTO was awkward.

Kurt Rosell 7:38 AM  

Well, it's good to be alerted to the existence of all those "jackass racist white people" out there. Who knew? I guess Rex has unusual insight into the attitudes of all us crackers. Good for you, Rex but you just lost a reader. This blog was getting tiresome anyway.

rorosen 7:40 AM  

like this?

a member of a religious organization of robbers and assassins in India. Devotees of the goddess Kali, the Thugs waylaid and strangled their victims, usually travelers, in a ritually prescribed manner. They were suppressed by the British in the 1830s.

so much more pleasant!!

By the way, this was my strangest puzzle experience ever. I hardly paused. I have struggled more on Tuesdays. I had to re-check the day. Maybe it's the season for weird?

Anonymous 8:09 AM  

Thank god our founding fathers had the wisdom to see that words are, in fact, only harmful to those who seek to muzzle dissent. The idea that certain words are the province of certain groups is the nadir of modern progressivism. How did we get here? This is something being taught by classicists to students? Words are something that should be banished rather than explored... so that no one might be offended? I shudder to imagine how the thought police may edit crosswords in the future.

JayWalker 8:23 AM  

Mr. Davenport - "Shoots it" threw me for a long time too - then! It must refer to a basketball jump shot. Once I visualized that it was easy peasy. I did NOT find this an easy Saturday puzzle. Not the hardest but certainly not a breeze. But at least I finished it without having to go to Nexus to get answers and I amazingly got them all entered correctly. It was a good, hard fight for me - just the way I like my Saturday puzzles to be.

Leslie 8:23 AM  

Yeah, I winced at the clue for THUGS. "Gunsels" would have been a funnier clue.

Melissa Bernardi 8:24 AM  

Thank you for bringing up--again--the issue of race in some puzzles. So unnecessary. I hope the editors are listening this time.

GILL I. 9:12 AM  

I really enjoyed this crossword. Fun, fun, fun...
Hey...how about "Devotees of the Goddess Kali"?
I always thought Ms. Gaynor spelled her name METZEE.
Did not know KB TOYS is defunct. I got that one right away; I spent many a moon in that store. Son was a GoBots fanatic and they always had a million of them.
Hardest part was getting OBEISANCE. I wanted A BEE DANCE for some strange reason.
Cluing for this (fairly) easy puzzle is what made me like it so much. Really loved the clue for FEUD. Are we going to have many of them today?
Big kudos Peter Wentz...

Anonymous 9:16 AM  

Dog-whistle is now a dog whistle.

Tita 9:29 AM  

I don' t think I've ever before completed a Saturday on a Friday, in one sitting, with I thin no writeovers. Sadly, Rex didn't rate it medium-challenging, which would complete my very justified feelings of superiority, but I'll take it...

I finished each quadrant, moved on to the next. Astonishing.
HARIBO was a gimme, as was ELCAMINO.

Knocking something down is what might happen while you are BASHing something IN, but they are not the same thing.
My only not among really stellar clueing.

@JohnChild... I agree about missing @lms and @r.alph... I fear that others may follow.
I vote for no moderation, and no censorship.

Anonymous 9:32 AM  

I'm not a racist. You can tell by the linguistic gymnastics. Those people are the racists. I'm on the right side of history. I love (pardon the expression) you people. Now vote for Hillary if you know what's good for you.

Brian W. Ogilvie 9:32 AM  

@George Barany: The 43D clue refers to a kind of weight-loss snake oil, the "cleanse," usually a kind of juice fast, which supposedly rids the body of toxins. Google "master cleanse" for an example.

I had fun, though I took "jumper" in the electrical sense, so I initially had SHOrTS IT. GENE SET was awkward: clones share a "genome," or a "genotype." 18A would be more idiomatic were it SWARM over. And when I was growing up, KB TOYS was "Kay-Bee."

I actually got the SW first: 32D was obviously RAGEQUIT, which meant that 48A must be IRAQ, and after realizing that "castaway" and "marooned" didn't fit, I got LOST AT SEA. I did cringe at the clue for THUGS.

Roo Monster 9:34 AM  

Hey All !
Agree with the *easy for a SatPuz* rating. Did have to still use the Check feature, but after the first pass through, had a bunch correct! FLAPJACKS is an awesome word toward getting a pangram. Get yer F, P, J, C, K in! And if you take the NE corner, plus go down to GENESET and NOUN, you've almost got a pangram right there, less the Q, V, Z. So, impressive construction with very little dreck!

Wonder if after having filled NE, PW said, "HUH, may as well stick in the three missing letters and make a pangram." I would've. And he did a great job with them, actuall words instead of trying to shoehorn em in.

Fun SatPuz fare. Didn't hurt the ole brain much!

Happy Halloween!


Tita 9:43 AM  

Oops...not censorship...actually, the censorship that Rex is imposing has in fact improved the blog. I would rather have the realtime banter and the life that brought to the comments section.

But hell, Rex could shut down comments altogether, and then what would become of us?

Paul Courtney 9:48 AM  

"...and all of us white people". Please...why don't you go haunt some other blog to discuss pc infractions. Sheesh....it's a crossword discussion.

Z 9:56 AM  

I've been having off and on NW troubles for awhile. It always seems as if I stall in an otherwise easy puzzle it is in the NW. Today was a case in point. BERET was my last word in. No real reason for it, things just weren't clicking for me up there.

I noticed the political answer at 31A, of course. It's hard to see a scenario where half of those candidates win even one state in a general election.

As for the THUG clue, pretty much what Rex said. I will give the NYTX a smidgen of credit for noting that it is a "character." Still, why even go there when you have options.

On the datedness issue, this puzzle is far more balanced with RAGE QUIT, juice cleansing and GREEN TEA, and EUROZONE. I don't mind MITZI Gaynor and Johnny OLSON as long as there is some evidence in the puzzle that we are, in fact, living in the 21st century.

@Elephants child late yesterday - I didn't realize I was saying that, but on reflection, every puzzle is a microcosm of something. Otherwise they really wouldn't be solvable, would they?

Anonymous 10:01 AM  

I must say, I'm surprised and slightly put off by the level of pc self censorship, but then I don't listen to NPR nor fit into the standard left/right divide.

The Ridger, FCD 10:08 AM  

In basketball, one way way to score is a jump shot, aka jumper.

Joseph Welling 10:09 AM  

Beau Davenport: think basketball.

Andrew Heinegg 10:11 AM  

I got held up in the ne not remembering KB Toys and not being familiar with Radiolab. I did see swarm into but considered it too awkward a phrase for the clue. I had no idea that the Baath Party was located in another country, Syria, where it was founded but, live and learn. Ditto for Henry Hudson being lost at sea; The people that set out across oceans with the relatively small amount of information about where they were headed were quite an intrepid group of people. Getting lost at sea was a major possibility.

Anonymous 10:12 AM  

@Barany just loves to promote his puzzles here.

Ludyjynn 10:14 AM  

This was a lot more fun than Friday. Why? Because the cultural references are still relevant: THE KINKS, The Doors' LA WOMAN, Herman HESSE, and yes, even Johnny OLSON. TPIR is still aired daily and his successor still yells, "Come On Down!" to greet each new contestant. BTW, one of the games they play on TPIR is PLINKo. Liked its placement in the grid under Olson. And was pleased to see MITZI Gaynor, a triple threat; dancer, singer and actress. Among other roles, she will be remembered for her star turn as Nellie Forbush in "South Pacific", an international megahit. She is still performing in her '80s and looks pretty fabulous.

I got lucky at the end, guessing the 'N'correctly at the ASANAS/SONE cross, avoiding a DNF. Phew!

The latest polls may indicate there will be NO TRUMP as the Rep. POTUS nominee.

Learned Henry Hudson was LOSTATSEA. Who knew?

HARIBO has been running really cute TV ads w/ kids at the helm of a candy co. selling gummy bears over the past year.

I will not touch the THUG debate with a ten foot pole.

Another gorgeous Fall day here. Leaves still hanging in there. Happy Halloween and Daylight Savings, all.

Thanks, PW and WS.

Howard Flax 10:19 AM  

Didn't really have a problem with THUGS, but I could see how someone might find that offensive. There are actual THUGS in that genre of rap music.

I don't really listen to hip-hop to often (I prefer old Stones records, Post-punk & T. Rex style glam), but I'm pretty sure most of my black friends that do listen to this genre wouldn't take offense to this.

By the way, that was the only part of puzzle that messed me up, OBEISANCE and TVIDOL, yikes! So maybe I'm just grateful for a THUG once in a while!

Roy 10:23 AM  

Beau Davenport....a basketball player puts up a jump shot. In other words, he "shoots it."

Nancy 10:25 AM  

Nothing easy about this for me. For the second day in a row, I solved -- or didn't quite solve -- from right to left, since the NW wasn't coming in at all. My entry point was the FESSED UP to FLAPJACKS cross. But I finished with the MA of REMAX not filled in and with STORM INTO instead of SWARM INTO (I thought of both, but didn't like "overrun" as a clue for either.)

Before I go on, WILL SOMEONE PLEASE EXPLAIN "REMAX" to me as a "Coldwell Banker competitor." All I could think of was "realtor". I don't get this answer at all, and it kept me from solving the puzzle.

So much I didn't know -- most of which came in, but still... HARIBO and LAWOMAN and ASONAS and 13D, whatever that turns out to be, I forgot to look and don't want to lose this comment while looking. Some of you found "zip" here, but even with the very nice RAGEQUIT and DIG UP DIRT, I found this pretty unzippy, if truth be told. A tough puzzle, but not a particularly playful one. Despite the challenge, I didn't enjoy it much. Liked yesterday's MUCH more!

Nancy 10:27 AM  

It seems that almost every day I miss the "first cut" by less than 5 minutes. Today it was exactly two minutes. Bummer.

Teedmn 10:39 AM  

This puzzle wasn't easy for me as I was trying to have a conversation with my Dad at the same time. Multi-tasking is overrated.

My big hold up was having an even SCORE forever. FE _ nS was not giving me FEUDS. After I fixed that, and EASY AS pie and finally figured out DIET SODAS, the rest started to click. A clean puzzle and enjoyable, thanks,, Peter Wentz.

thomas greisen 10:43 AM  

You got off on a rant about thugs. Good for you.

Hartley70 10:44 AM  

I also rate this easy for a Saturday but I was hung up on KBTOYS being Kaybee because I could swear that was the store name at the local malls in the 80's and 90's.

The last fill for me was the cross of SONE, ASANAS and LAWOMAN. I've never heard of any of them and just guessed.

Best Moment was HARIBO because I can't believe I remembered that.
Worst was believing that LAWOMAN was Lawnman for the longest time.

Bill Palmer 10:45 AM  

Kudos to you, Rex, for calling out the NYT on its racism in this and many other puzzles. How can they not know? That's how whiteness works, by willful ignorance, learned helplessness and then "white fragility" when it is pointed out. I'd bet you an annual subscription to the NYT Crossword puzzle that if confronted with the racism herein, Will Shortz would find a way to make himself the victim,

mac 10:46 AM  

Most of this puzzle played easy for me, but there were some hard parts. 43D: bowels - colons - toxins....

For 34D I figured a dress you can wear a blouse or thin sweater under: shortens.

Good Saturday, all in all. Poor Henry Hudson.

For what it's worth, I also miss some of the immediacy of the comments. It means I don't come back
as much.

jberg 10:46 AM  

Yeah, "himself," "muscle," "invasive perennials" along with that Kali thing Since we've had many other discussions of what's offensive, I don't see why racist clues should get a free ride.

I thought I had this one, and was proud of sussing out HESSE--but then I came here and learned that there was no car named RL CASINO, and no Brit group called the KINgS. Both gave reasonable crosses, but I should have known better.

cwf 10:53 AM  

EASYASABC. Started top right and proceeded clockwise and for the entire NW corner was looking forward to what I assumed would be an eloquent rant from @Rex regarding THUG. Was not disappointed. "It's loaded. We loaded it." Amen, brother.

Indypuzzler 11:05 AM  

@Rex and all the others about cringing at the THUGS clue. I started thinking into this a little further after looking at some of the other commenters. I do seem to recall a rap group called Mo' Thugs...maybe late 1990s. My thoughts are now unresolved...okay or not okay? Is this an example of "I can call my sister a [_____] but you can't (or shouldn't)?
So yes, I definitely cringed at the clue. Still unanswered for me is "should I cringe at the clue/answer"?
With all the p.c. thought aside, I thought this puzzle was very enjoyable with a lot of zip and zing. I flew along the top of the puzzle with the feeling "what a smart girl I am" but then it turned to the usual struggle in many spots but hey, that's why I love doing the puzzle!

Amy Reynaldo 11:07 AM  

Thank you, Rex, for using most of your post to focus on the inapt THUGS clue. I'm in complete agreement with you.

Those of you threatening to quit reading Rex because of the "PC" thing, please know that my blog, Diary of a Crossword Fiend, also calls out racism, sexism, homophobia, and transphobia when they rear their ugly heads in a puzzle. And commenters who argue with me on such issues get roundly derided by people on Twitter. The world is moving on and leaving you behind.

Anonymous 11:09 AM  

I want more on Saturday. Too easy!

Bob Kerfuffle 11:20 AM  

Was slowed down only in the SW, where I had some trouble getting into the EUROZONE: write-overs at 47 A, HONK (I know, doesn't really meet the clue) before HOOK; and 55 A, CLICK >> PLINK.

Tilting-At-Windmills Department: Once in the past when EUROZONE came up, a commenter pointed out, and provided a link to, that the founding documents of the Euro currency refer to the "Euro Area" as the correct designation. Every once in a while on the radio, I will hear a European finance minister or whomever refer to the Euro Area.

@Hays, 3:39 AM: If your statement, "I have no one else in my life that will care," is true, you are a great candidate to attend a crossword tournament, either the ACPT or some local offering. It's great to share a day or a weekend with people who do care about crosswords!

Unknown 11:27 AM  

It's a basketball reference to a jump shot (jumper). A player who puts up a jumper shoots the ball.

Carola 11:33 AM  

This treat of a puzzle was a lovely accompaniment to my EUROZONE breakfast (British tea + Nutella on ciabatta. Actually, I call this weekly slip into indulgence my Eurotrash breakfast; GREEN smoothies the rest of the time.) I smiled at getting into a Saturday puzzle via EASY AS pie and then again when it was wrong. That was my only misstep on a very enjoyable ramble through the grid. Favorites were DIG UP DIRT and the clue for TOXINS. Also liked DIET SODAS and GREEN TEA at cross purposes.

@Rex, I also thought, "HUH" at THUGS given the recent article in the Times about its problematic USAGES. And I read (and accepted) the album title as LAW O' MAN until L.A. WOMAN suddenly snapped into view.

Anonymous 11:38 AM  

Amy... I know very few who endorse racism, sexism, or any such ugliness. Happily, I know many who resent being "called out" as such because, in YOUR opinion their language defines them thusly. Who's being intolerant? BTW, it tends to be the PC police who threaten to quit reading. Those of us not threatened or "harmed" by words or ideas will keep reading until we're just bored with the self-righteous diatribes.

Chuck McGregor 11:44 AM  

Unlike some clues related to sound/audio that I've seen, SONE for "aural measure" is spot on technically correct being a unit (measure) of subjective loudness with aural relating to the ear or the sense of hearing.

I thought the automobile related clues in the NW (2d, 3d, and 1a "soft top" [something about a convertible?]) might be the start of a car theme. However, except for (only peripherally) 22a and 52d, no others.

Cynically speaking, a downside to political correctness is that one can use PC words to conceal their REAL "attitudes."

"See? I'm not prejudiced because I call them 'Blacks,' not the 'n' word."

Oh, really.....

Roo Monster 11:45 AM  

@Nancy, in case no one's answered you...
REMAX is a Realtor company, hence a rival.

Nice to see @Amy R here!


Old timer 11:53 AM  

For once, I agree with OFL on this issue. There is no word that should be banned from crosswords. THUGS is a fine word. So is HOMIES. But they can be clued in a way that does not call attention to any particular ethnic group.

Isn't that patronizing? It is, in a way. But it is offensive to automatically associate bad or dangerous people with black people, especially when, with a word like THUG, there are many race-neutral ways to clue it. Plenty of THUGS to go around, of all races. And the original THUGS were robbers in India who had the habit of murdering their victims, because dead men tell no tales -- and because the killings were sanctified by their religion.

I liked the puzzle. Very easy for a Saturday, My only writeovers were ABC in place of "pie" and SWARMed in before SWARM INTO.

Chuck McGregor 11:53 AM  

@Nancy said...

"WILL SOMEONE PLEASE EXPLAIN "REMAX" to me as a "Coldwell Banker competitor." Assuming you know Coldwell Banker is a realtor...

REMAX (actually it's RE/MAX)- Try www.remax.com : "From a single office that opened in 1973 in Denver, Colo., RE/MAX has grown into a global real estate network of franchisee-owned and -operated offices with more than 100,000 Sales Associates."


Lewis 12:08 PM  

I kept seeing LA WOMAN as LAW OMAN, and couldn't figure out for the life of me why anyone would name their album that.

Solid (and easy-for-a-Saturday) Saturday. Very nice cluing (VASE, EMTS, NOUN, SNUB, FEUDS) and answers (OBEISANCE, PLINK, RAGEQUIT, ASITWERE, FESSEDUP). Brought back memories, hearing Johnny Olson in my head. At first pass I had so much more of the puzzle filled in than I ever do on Saturday, and my guesses were correct. My ego says I must be getting better at solving, my rationality credits the easy Saturday puzzle.

ASANAS, by the way, are yoga poses, whether standing or sitting, so while the clue was technically correct, it gave the impression that asanas are only sitting poses. With the GREEN TEA, TOXIN removal, and ASANAS, I'm wondering if Mr. Wentz has an interest in alternative health choices.

Don't see a Halloween reference in the puzzle, but I'll take THE KINKS. Happy All Hallows Eve, all!

Mohair Sam 12:10 PM  

Thought it was kinda cool that MITZI Gaynor crossed a British Invasion clue. Don't tell Mrs. M., but hand up here with the 10 million American men who fell in love with MITZI the same night 100 million American women fell in love with the Beatles while watching the Ed Sullivan Show.

Any puzzle with FLAPJACKS wins my heart. And how 'bout the Henry Hudson clue? Loved it. Not as EASYASABC, maybe easy/medium here. OBEISANCE a great word; thought HOOK crossing SHOOTSIT was clever. Had @Rex's experience with LAW OMAN without the martini excuse (and I know the album).

Poor Will. Seems whenever he tries to be inclusive he steps on a PC land mine. No idea why the word THUG has become racially pejorative of late, but even I know it has. Tone deaf says it. That's twice in the past few days I've agreed with the PC crowd, yipes!

Trying to sell our house and had a showing this morning, the agent left her card behind - she's with REMAX. A sign from the Gods of real estate no doubt. Wish us luck.

Good old Mitzi . . . . .

Music man 12:19 PM  

Rex, I teach in an urban area, so I appreciated your THUGS rant most about this entire puzzle experience (because like most, I attach your write-up with my personal experience with the NYT puzzles). It's hard to promote a positive racial identity when such arenas a the NYT are belittling and criminalizing an entire culture.

Anonymous 1:24 PM  

It was actually "Kay Bee Toy and Hobby." I worked there in high school. I still have my name tag. I'm looking at it. I'd show y'all a picture if I could. Great job btw, but my co-workers constantly stole by taking toys out on the garbage runs and then going around the back of the mall and getting said toys after their shift. Darn teenagers! A doomed enterprise.

Mscharlie 1:28 PM  

Oh please, this PC stuff is out of control! It's a PUZZLE, people! I can't help but think of my asshole soon-to-be ex-husband with a cloud over his head for DAYS if he had a bad day on the golf course. I always thought, "It's a GAME, you dick"!!!!

Anonymous 1:40 PM  

I'd be happy to be left behind by a world headed in the wrong direction for ' it's no measure of sanity to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society'

Masked and Anonymous 1:51 PM  

Peter Wentz. Pangram. Would sorta figure: 5th pangram out of 20 total.

Blasted thru this puppy, pretty quickly, until. SW put up the most resistance, as I knew not RAGEQUIT nor THUGS (as clued). Nor HARIBO. All that, paired with the trickish TVIDOL clue, made me slow waaaay dooooown in that area.

First entry: ASANAS. Then SONE. I think M&A has crossed over to the dark side, crossword-trivia-wise. At this point, was real concerned: A WentzPuz with all 1-point scrabble tiles? Next came PYREX, which erased all such concerns.

NOTRUMP! har. Hardly brain surgery, to spot this here Ben Carson-o-genic subtheme. Keeps the Halloween Index for this SatPuz from totally huggin the E-for-Empty end of the gauge. Following recent random health studies, M&A is plannin on handin out hotdogs, tonite. But, I digress.

Six U-treats, today. Lil t-hUgs.

Will now hold breath, until @muse comes back for a visit …

Masked & Anonymo6Us

** gruntz **

woolf 1:53 PM  

I do so love a little critical discourse analysis before having any coffee. Rex is right; out all the possible cluing options, the NYT keeps assuming that the way t lead its readership to the answer "thugs" is to bring up rap music. Says something about the NYT, or its readership, or both, or something, I need coffee.

...oh, yeah, the puzzle. The was The Fastest Saturday Ever for me -- like, played like a Monday -- until I had CLANK and SHOOTS AT in the SE, couldn't figure out what --CE could be for "sulk," and didn't know Mitzi or Olson.

I like it when collocated answers read almost like a short story: "Bashed in El Camino roadtest. Teen. Enlist EMTs.

Merle 1:54 PM  

Thank you, Rex, for your acknowledgment of the bias in crossword puzzles regarding clues relating to Black culture, Black history, Black lives. Every now and then there will be a clue for an answer that features Zora Neale Thurston, usually Zora -- for that unexpected "Z". She was a major African-American literary figure, worth citing, but she died in 1960. And clues related to Amiri Baracka/Leroi Jones also pop up occasionally. And, if crossword constructors want to reference hip hop and rap, there's a rich vein of socially conscious hip hop and rap to mine. The genre is not all gangsta oriented. Beginning with the root of hip hop, Gil Scott-Heron, and moving on to Grandmaster Flash, Brother D, Mos' Def, and Public Enemy, there is quite a large repertoire of anti-war, socially conscious hip hop. (I'm leaving out Eminem, because he is not Black, but he does write in a socially conscious vein.) I'm not partial to rap and hip hop, yo! I'm 73, I'm old school, I like soul, Motown, folk music revival, protest songs. About 13 years ago, when my daughter asked her then 14-year-old son, my grandson, to turn off the rap on the car radio as we were driving somewhere together, my grandson calmly and patiently said to me, "Grandma, you just don't understand. All that gangsta stuff, all that calling women bitches, that's not what the musicians believe. They are playing a role, revealing what is wrong with thug mentality". Well, maybe.... At any rate, it is time for crossword constructors to utilize the richness of Black heritage and culture.

Anonymous 2:04 PM  

Apparently, we have Mark Twain to kick around for introducing "thug" to English lexicon in FOLLOWING THE EQUATOR: A JOURNEY AROUND THE WORLD.


Merle 2:07 PM  

I just scrolled through the comments, and saw a number of comments agreeing with Rex, that the "thugs" is tied to an unconscious bias. I felt happy that so many people were enlightened enough to recognize the limitations in too many NY Times crossword puzzles. And I also saw all the sneers at what was referred to as PC ideas, PC comments. Politically correct actually refers to a policy of avoiding hostile, biased language, avoiding denigrating any particular group. Sounds like a darn good idea to me. What's wrong with a policy that avoids egregious prejudiced statements? But then again, there are people who indeed may hold biased views, and resent hearing politically correct opinions that challenge their biases. Those people tend to use the term PC in a derogatory way. My advice? If someone labels something as PC, don't pay that person no nevermind. A person like that is just blowing air.... And yo, PC stuff is not out of control. Bias and prejudice is out of control. There are Holocaust video games where the winner racks up the most kills of Jews and Roma. It's not just an innocent game, and even a benign puzzle is not just a puzzle when it hosts unconscious bias. Mscharlie, if you had the misfortune to be married to someone you are calling an asshole and a dick, that's your story. But racial, ethnic, religious bias is not just a game. It can be life or death....

Z 2:09 PM  

@Indypuzzler - I owe two sports commentators for this example. A fight happens in an NBA game (a rare event) and you'll immediately find articles, commentary, tweets, facebook posts, etc. about "THUGS" and "thuggery." A fight happens in an NHL game (not uncommon though rarer than it used to be) and you will have to search the depths of the interwebs to find any similar USAGES. What's the difference? Objectively, only one of these two leagues has a history of thuggery ("enforcer" if he's on your team, "goon" if he plays for the other team), but since the players aren't predominately African-American we give the sport a pass and almost never call those players "THUG."

@All Anti-PC commenters - Please, keep using THUG in a bigoted way. Don't let us stop you.

Chris 2:11 PM  

KBTOYS: bleah. Never heard of it.

Mike D 2:20 PM  

After roundly criticizing yesterday's puzzle as being dated, can someone point out to me anything "hip" or "modern" in today's work? The KINKS? The Doors? HESSE? FLAPJACKS? MITZI whoever? Anything in the last 20 years?
I liked them both, but at least a pretense of consistency from the writer/owner of this blog would be nice.

Anonymous 2:40 PM  

For a comic book teacher you're VERY good at division.

Charles Flaster 3:25 PM  

100% agreed!!!

GeezerJackYale48 3:26 PM  

But "fucking" is OK, Rex? You really fit the Times profile, you know, of a smug quasi-intellectual, overly PC, disgusting way leftist simp.

Fred Romagnolo 3:40 PM  

Henry Hudson was an English explorer. He was so intrepid in finding new places that his crew finally soured on him (they wanted to go home). Tragically they abandoned him and his young son in a boat on Hudson's Bay they disappeared. I'm not sure LOST AT SEA is quite accurate.

Lobster11 4:08 PM  

First Saturday I've finished in a while, though with a couple of careless errors that were obvious in retrospect.

On the THUGS thing: I'm one of those bleeding-heart liberals who has long been on the side of the PC Police, but who thinks that the pendulum has begun to swing too far in that direction in recent years. But But, I'm with OFL on this one, because the issue he's pointing to smacks of tokenism: i.e., "the practice of doing something (such as hiring a person who belongs to a minority group) only to prevent criticism and give the appearance that people are being treated fairly" (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/tokenism). Inclusion of terms like THUGS and "homies" and "the 'hood," as clued, seem to me to be the NYT Crossword equivalent of "Some of my friends are black." So kudos to OFL for calling them out.

Byron 4:31 PM  

There's a middle way here on the whole PC business.
Criticizing tone-deafness and outright bias is a good
thing. The recent HOMIE/HOOD problem is an example where it was called for. I do think, however, a lot of
the criticism of the THUG clue was mistargeted. The
clue was focused on one specific genre of rap, not all
rap, and very specifically said "character," referring to a persona, not a person. The fact that other folks use the work in objectionable ways doesn't justify the
attack on its use here, and going over the top in criticism where unwarranted dilutes the effectiveness of needed criticism elsewhere.

Anonymous 5:01 PM  

@Leslie: I'm not sure, but I believe you are misunderstanding the true meaning of the word "gunsel." Dashiell Hammett is smiling yet again.

AZPETE 5:20 PM  

Re ur Buzzfeed Themeless 3: Definitely NYT late week worthy.

Chris 6:16 PM  

I had a bit of trouble with the Henry Hudson Lost-at-sea answer. According to history, that's not exactly his fate - he (and his son) were in fact abandoned to their fate by his crew in Hudson Bay, and never heard from again. Not exactly "lost at sea," but more "abandoned." Small point, but fun to know.

wino 7:13 PM  

tied score or tie score? to me, one to one is a tie score.

Anonymous 8:24 PM  

What's wrong with political correctness is that it's only politically correct. There are more important ways of being correct. These can be lost when argument is shut down wth the first cry of racism.

Mscharlie 9:05 PM  

I love, actually, that he said "fucking". I don't agree with his opinion today, but I love the fact that he can and did say FUCKING. Is this blog full of a bunch of fucking stiffs? Really.

Mscharlie 9:07 PM  


Anonymous 10:40 PM  

Thugs are characters in Gangsta Rap lyrics. This does not mean that the artist is a thug or imply that such musicians are thugs. Just search the term "thug rap" or "gangsta thug rap" for supporting evidence.

Anonymous 11:06 PM  

Regarding thug. One can debate whether Rex's view of rap is correct, but as it is Rex's blog he is entitled to do whatever tedious sermonizing he wishes. But the sermon is in the context of a crossword puzzle, a trivial escape from the serious things that occupy everyone's life. It is not a work of art or anything very important. Just a diversion

People like Rex, whether they be on the right or left want to control the content of popular culture. Unfettered free expression, Is an anathema to these folks. So whether it be the politically correct left or the religious right they strive to control expression, control language and, ultimately, control thought.

So Rex spare your readers your political views. No one cares. Stick to your analysis of the puzzles. If you want yo do social commentary,start another blog.

Hays 11:35 PM  

@Bob Kerfuffle, I definitely want to! It's been great discovering this site and this whole crossword community. I mean, I should've realized considering there's a community for everything online, but still. Thanks for the welcome!

eveostay 12:22 AM  

Easy for a Saturday. More like a fairly difficult Wednesday for me. (Only a hair longer to complete than my Wednesday average.) I guess I was on a wavelength.

You nailed it re: Thugs. Thanks for speaking out.

Leapfinger 1:56 AM  

I wish every person who wanted to carry on about THUGgery had had a room of one SONE. A kudo to the few glimmers of reason, but no way do I come here for a poor man's version of Fahrenheit 451.

Thanks for understanding.

Here Cometh The Judge 6:29 AM  

I'm virtually certain that, at some point in this discussion, we should have run into the thoroughly-examined concept of free speech.
Or are we reduced to considering each issue in isolation?

It really is good practice to try having more than one thought at a time.

Anonymous 8:32 AM  

I happen to think it's 'tokenism' if the language USAGE is cleaned up while the thinking and the actions don't change.

Put the focus where focus is due,dear people.

Jeff 11:02 AM  

If a crossword had "cracker" or "honky" in the grid, lily-white readers would have a hissy fit if it were clued as overprivileged and self-entitled WASPs. White naysayers cry censorship, which is alsolutely ludicrous. Rex is rightfully calling attention to the power dynamics of the situation, of the ability of whites and Jewish editors to represent other racial minorities in stigmatizing ways for the sake of cultural control.

Jeff 11:03 AM  

If a crossword had "cracker" or "honky" in the grid, lily-white readers would have a hissy fit if it were clued as overprivileged and self-entitled WASPs. White naysayers cry censorship, which is alsolutely ludicrous. Rex is rightfully calling attention to the power dynamics of the situation, of the ability of whites and Jewish editors to represent other racial minorities in stigmatizing ways for the sake of cultural control.

KMS 1:06 PM  

love Rex's style, banter and sharpness....but turned off by PC ref. on THUGS, and Black Lives Matter, .....guess that whole scene has better PR than all the Other Lives That Matter, ....especially now that its burrowed down into one haven Ive used to tune out the select victimizing, and sound & fury that comes along with it. Wonder if Peter Wentz is Black.

Mscharlie 8:16 PM  

This is a PUZZLE, people!!! Supposed to be something fun to do! Jeez!!!! Everyone please calm the fuck down!! My god. You guys take yourselves SO SERIOUSLY. Go rally on the street with signs, for gods sake. This is a crossword puzzle blog, remember? Jeesh!

Anonymous 8:30 PM  

15 % of general population 50 % of prison population

Kakashi 9:38 PM  

A better answer for gangster rap characters would be OGS

kitshef 11:50 PM  

Every bit as dated as yesterday, plus all kinds of crummy fill (SHOOTSIT, SWARMINTO, GENESET, TIEDSCORE). Don't see why BASHEDIN equals knocked down. So why was yesterday's panned while this was praised (THUG aside)? You got me.

Gary Amundson 7:27 PM  

Fred R in an earlier comment pretty much nailed what I was thinking about the Henry Hudson clue. "Lost at Sea" seems a bit of a stretch when it was acttually a mutiny that occurred not to mention the fact that the act took place on Hudson Bay and not at sea. I thought SET ADRIFT fit nicely but it soon became obvious that it wasn't' going to work.

I could not see changing EASYASPIE to EASYASABC and that caused me no end of problems in the NE. Did not finish as a result.

Overall I rated it more medium than easy but that's just me.

spacecraft 11:10 AM  

This wasn't EASYASABC, pie, or anything else. It was, like, I did it but don't ask me how. Agree with @kitshef above that BASHEDIN is not the same as "Knocked down." Yet again, the NW was the puzzle's last bastion of defense. "Eating at the bar" = ALONE?? THAT bar won't stay open long! Oh, I get it, if you were on a Date, you'd be seated at a Table, yeah yeah. But what a stretch!

Re the THUGS kerfuffle. It's funny how some people embrace rap language...and stars, yet cry foul when that language becomes "insensitive." I'm looking at you, Fearless One. At least I'm consistent. I have no time for "THUGS" in the traditional sense, "THUGS" as they appear here, or rap in general. And you know what: if that offends someone, TOO FUCKING BAD! Grow a hide, people. This "age of taking offense" is ridiculous. I've been offended plenty; I was bullied all the way through school. Did I go postal? Did I kill myself? Hell no, I just considered the source. Bullies are stupid, and I have always been glad I Wasn't. Like. Them.

Back, thankfully, to the puzz. When pancakes wouldn't fit, the stack became FLAPJACKS, and the F at once gave me the wonderful FESSEDUP. That ALONE is worth the price of admission. Though a fairly easy start, I had to work for almost all those Saturday clues. Med-chall. TIEDSCORE is an anomaly; as Armand would say, "The 'D' is silent." I give this one an A-, for a couple of clues that don't quite jive.

Burma Shave 11:47 AM  




BS2 12:02 PM  


Don’t start no FEUDS ‘cause you MADAT “THUGS”,
SHOOT,SIT down dudes. CHILLS! You all on DRUGs??


rondo 12:50 PM  

HUH? Maybe I was just having a good day, or was this a Tuesday themeless? It couldn’t have taken 15 minutes. EASYASABC. But I did like it.

In the St. Paul Pioneer Press, not three inches away from this puz, in the comic strip “Candorville” (illustrated and written by a black man), is the recurring character “Clyde”, who always wears a sleeveless (put your own hyphenated epithet here)T-shirt reading “THUG 4 LIFE”. Even with the word “micro-aggression” becoming the buzzword of the foreseeable future, I refuse to be offended by the use of THUGS, or the clue, in this puz. If Darrin Bell can use the word, then the NYT or anyone else can, without wincing or cringing. Get over it.

MITZI Gaynor, 1950s-70s and on yeah baby. She could shake it in that “nude dress”. Great MOVES.

I wish the prez campaign was NO TRUMP, or my roast was NOT RUMP.

Classic rock here with LAWOMAN and THEKINKS. @spacey is sure to approve.

No TOXINS in this puz, so easy. Maybe I’ll find another to do today.

Torb 3:37 PM  

Easiest Saturday in quite a while. Still, a fun brain teaser.

leftcoastTAM 6:31 PM  

For me, a medium Saturday, which means I spent more than a little time in finishing it.

The northern swath was the slowest to go. In the SE I stared at the HOOK/THEKINKS/PLINK crosses quite a while.

I have usually thought of OBEISANCE as more on the obsequious side than the respectful or deferential, but the M-W dictionary doesn't seem to support me.

Anonymous 1:28 AM  

Greetings from syndication-land! (And a day late at that!)
I found this a pretty easy Saturday and kinda fun too, but I did notice all the INs, as well as AS crossing AS in the NE, which watered things down a little.

THUGS didn't bother me, but I guess I can see everyone's point.

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