Faerie Queene woman whose name means peace / MON 10-19-15 / TV installation not requiring antenna / Electric Slide Cotton-Eyed Joe / Signature Muhammad Ali ploy / Smallish computer storage unit for short

Monday, October 19, 2015

Constructor: Bruce Venzke and Victor Fleming

Relative difficulty: Medium Monday

THEME: TIES (69A: Binds ... or a hint to the starts of the answers to the six starred clues) —

Theme answers:
  • CABLE OUTLET (17A: *TV installation not requiring an antenna)
  • WIRE FRAUD (24A: *Crime involving a Nigerian prince, maybe)
  • LINE DANCE (50A: *Electric Slide or Cotton-Eyed Joe)
  • STRING BEANS (62A: *Tall, skinny sorts)
  • ROPE-A-DOPE (11D: *Signature Muhammad Ali ploy)
  • CHAIN MAIL (31D: *Protective medieval gear)
Word of the Day: TAYE Diggs (43A: Diggs of "How Stella Got Her Groove Back") —
Scott Leo "Taye" Diggs (born January 2, 1971) is an American actor. He is perhaps best known for his roles in the Broadway musicals Rent and Hedwig and the Angry Inch, the film How Stella Got Her Groove Back, the series Private Practice, and the film The Best Man and its sequel The Best Man Holiday. (wikipedia)
• • •

Old Ideas week continues. Today, a classic First Words-type theme with a massive Thud of a revealer. Usually, these days, old theme types are livened up by some revealer that at least gives some interesting, wordplay-type angle to the whole set-up. But this puzzle is livened up only by Density, and there just aren't enough strong longer answers to sustain interest. The two Down themers are probably my favorite, but they are it, as far as interesting fill goes today.  The fill is not great, but I've certainly seen worse. Can't believe you couldn't somehow eliminate the icky IRENA (51D: "The Faerie Queene" woman whose name means "peace"), and OLD BAG is gross and sexist (65A: Hag) (particularly in the hands of male constructors and male editors), but other stuff is solid enough. Just dull. Last week is really highlighting how dull Normal Ideas weeks have become.

I have no idea what a CABLE OUTLET is and do not understand what "Installation" means in the clue, despite having cable TV/Internet, and despite asking my wife if she understood (no, not really—she could guess, but she could not be certain). There is no "outlet" in my house. I mean, the cable comes "out" of a panel in the wall that vaguely resembles an electrical outlet, but I have never heard it called "CABLE OUTLET" and I've certainly never thought of it as an "Installation." That answer and WIRE FRAUD slowed me down a bit today (WIRE FRAUD's clue was just fine—maybe a little more T or W than M, but just fine).

SKYPE was in the Mini today, which was a weird experience. I solve the Mini as a kind of 20-second appetizer before heading into the real puzzle. Probably a good idea to coordinate those two puzzles, to avoid dupes. Also, probably, not that big a deal.

I got nothing else on this one. 

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


JRM 12:09 AM  

Pretty sure there's always a clue from the mini in the main puzzle. I actually only do the mini so I know whatever answer when I see it again in the main puzzle

Z 12:17 AM  

I dunno, the whole S&M, Fifty Shades of Grey angle seems pretty risqué for the NYTX.

Brett Chappell 1:14 AM  

A pretty blah puzzle, in my opinion. Still, I have a bone to pick with the cluing for 4 down: "Here's to you!," in Toulouse. SALUT doesn't ring true.

Salut is an informal greeting, like "Hi!" in French. It also means salvation or respect towards the flag. It does not mean "Cheers!" like it does in the Republic of Italy. The clue is one of several transalpine faux amis!

À la tienne, à ta santé, tchin-tchin, etc. are perhaps true cognates for the 4 down.

jae 1:25 AM  

Medium for me too partly because I had giG before MEG and eat UP before LAP UP.   The theme seems a tad off to me, it kinda stretches the definition of TIES, or maybe I just don't get it?  Liked the theme answers though.

chefwen 2:39 AM  

This wasn't your usual slam dunk Monday, this actually required a little thought, for me anyway. A few words that don't often pop up on Monday, EXHORTS, BESETS, and thanks for the TAYE DIGGS introduction. I've heard and seen the Electric Slide, but Cotton Eyed Joe was a new one. I'll have to Google to see what that's all about.

I can point you to every CABLE OUTLET in this house, a very necessary object in my world.

No comment on OLD BAG.

aging soprano 6:23 AM  

After all of last week's newish ideas, I am waiting for an xword in which EVERY square has a 2 letter rebus. Try that all of you aspiring and burgeoning constructors. Has there ever been one?

Lewis 6:26 AM  

@m&a -- That HAR is backward and cornered, but it's there.

A workaday Monday, punch in, punch out. I was wondering if maybe the theme was a "spell the NYT crossword constructor backward" puzzle, after filling in ASSES. I liked TAT over TATTLE, and the backward awkward spelling of several common words: PUPAL, KOMA, AIP. The theme was bland but serviceable. It didn't excite, didn't disappoint -- I got my fix. Thank you, gents.

joho 7:44 AM  

Yikes, a puzzle filled with NERDS, MORONS, ASSES and an OLDBAG!

I had a "Twilight Zone" moment when just as I was writing in ROPEADOPE, Tea Leone on "Madam Secretary" said to her husband, "Or did we just get ROPEADOPEd?" I love when that happens!

The theme is dense and the puzzle is easy so I'd say this is a good way for beginners to get into crosswords. And while TIES isn't the most exciting reveal it sure does TIE the theme together in a neat bow.

Thanks, Bruce Venzke and Victor Fleming! (And Victor, do you watch the "The Good Wife?" There was an interesting plotline involving a judge last night.)

jberg 9:03 AM  

CABLE hookup before OUTLET, IS so before ISN'T, OLD BAt before the more offensive BAG all slowed me down. Also reading "attribute" as a noun in 44D, so wanting something horrible like 'ASCRIpt' (well, not wanting, but thinking it must be). Fortunately BESETS fixed that.

On to Tuesday, I guess.

I posted it late yesterday, so if you came here early, be sure to check out Hayley Gold's cartoon commentaryon the whole "try something new" week.

Jackie 9:07 AM  

This one was pretty mean-spirited all around. MORONS, ASSES, OLD BAGs, petulant children, etc. etc, TIES as a revealer was super super lame. So was the alignment of TAT and TATTLE.

Thank you, too for calling out the sexist language. If you're going to use OLD BAG/HAG all the time, you may as well just go ahead and start using BITCH too. Though I have to say that I would be delighted if someone brought in BEEYOTCH. Preferably a female constructor, though.

Ludyjynn 9:15 AM  

Serviceable Monday.

The Charles Theater, the oldest movie house in Baltimore, happens to be an ARTFILM multiplex since its renovation in 1999. There are 5 screens showing indie films, art films and major studio events. It is also home to the annual Maryland Film Festival, an international screening event. It was the original home to John Waters film screenings, which are now at the Senator Theater, Baltimore's art deco movie palace.

I have three CABLE OUTLETs in my home, one per floor.

Aside from OLD HAG, SALUT, BV, VF and WS.

chefbea 9:30 AM  

Easy puzzle. Of course knew foie gras. Never heard of Taye Diggs. Love how all the veggies are in a row = pea and string bean

Leapfinger 9:52 AM  

Trick of the day: Did you see Vic had Taye back?

Usually, any collaboration with The Judge is neatly wrapped up with a bow on top, but Knot This One. First of all, the STRINGy things going across all seemed to be communication thingies, esp given SKYPE front and center. Disappointing that the Downers didn't fall in line: they were definitely Hangman-style.

*Who wants to think of all the things a petulant child says? I don't!
*Once again, PAL ISN'T our Friend George
*The garnish of MORON, ASSES, OLDBAG and S.O.B. -- I AXE you
*PIA Zadora also a singer? Small Matter
*GIBBS: The BeeGees instead of Jethro of NCIS? Boo
*Dad, Mom, Bro and Sis: Yikes, FAM? Thanksgiving we gather the whole FAMine, get thoroughly FAMished.
*Some Herren just seem to go through the Frauleins IN_BULK. Seeing another of the EX-HORsTS in the grid is ample proof that HORsT (the old renegade) has once again RE-FRAU'D. All this while LOU and ART barely have ONE MEG between them...

Questions for today: Is a small TAT a TATTLE? Is the TAT DRAWER ASCRIBE?

I shan't WAIST any more of y'all's time. Have a pleasant Monday, and thanks to Vic and Venzke for a leguminous Monday Tease.

Bob Kerfuffle 9:54 AM  

Blest Be the Tie That Binds?

Not much to say about the puzzle, but I did have an extremely minor quibble about 20 A, "How warehouse stores buy" -- IN BULK. I always thought that all stores buy in bulk, but what distinguishes warehouse stores is that they sell in bulk.

GILL I. 9:54 AM  

I'm back to wearing my dad's old red sweater again. Comfy but it has a few worn spots in it.
This took me a bit longer than most Mondays but I still enjoyed the SOAMI ETAL GOAD ASSES of yore. I NEVER remember how to spell KEANU but that was the only little cough from this OLD BAG (ahem)
Agree with @Brett on SALUT. Maybe add a votre sante. I'm more of a tchin-tchin gal and I would say SALUT as a greeting rather than a here's to you Toulouse. The nyt is notorious for screwing up foreign phrases. We all know what an ano it can be!
Venzke and Fleming...Now that's a neat name - sounding a bit like a law firm! Thank you for this just fine Monday romp...Cheers

Ellen S 9:59 AM  

@Rex, thanks for objecting to OLD BAG. I always don't love being disrespected first thing in the morning.

I tried one of Caleb Madison's Buzzfeed puzzles, at the suggestion of the Puzzazz team: http://www.buzzfeed.com/tag/crosswords. Totally different experience from the NYT. These puzzles are advertised as "NSFW". And "Old Bag" is????? In the Buzzfeed one I've done so far, I didn't find anything meanspirited, more just high-spirited. There was a clue "They come before tugs in sketchy massage parlors." That's as worst as it got. And even though there were lots of pop culture references, and I'm all AT SEA when it comes to pop culture, it was easier to navigate than many a NYT puzzle, and somehow, I don't know ... the word that came to mind when I was solving it was "comfortable." Not in the sense of familiar, like overflowing with EELS and ERNS and RRNs, but more like "having been constructed by someone with a warped view of the world that I can relate to" -- even though he's just a kid and I'm an OLD BAG...

Norm 10:00 AM  

LAPAT & IRENE would solve the IRENA issue, giving you ANI (Star Wars or DeFranco) and TEL as your crosses.

Anonymous 10:16 AM  

@Lewis: I'm having a bad crossword day. Not the puzzle, the comments. Ie: "@m&a" - there's no m&a posted. TAT - where's that? "The backward awkward spelling of of several common words: PUPAL, KOMA, AIP." What are you talking about?

Hartley70 10:27 AM  

I thought this was a fine Monday and I appreciated the theme density. I didn't get the connection until I saw the revealer, so the reveal worked for me too. I might have made the clue for the reveal have a bit more zip, but it didn't diminish my puzzle enjoyment. I give it a Monday thumbs up. I expect there will be a lot of grumbles this week as we're forced to transition back to traditional puzzles. I thought last week was a blast, and it will get even better in retrospect unless Will offers us the best he's got in the pipeline. Today was a good start.

Nancy 10:31 AM  

MORONS. NERDS. OLD BAG. STRINGBEANS. (Come now, wouldn't you rather be "svelte", ladies? Or "lean", guys?) Wondering if the easily offended will be out in force today?

A mildly diverting Monday, with a theme that's hardly worth mentioning. Bet the theme was ignored by everyone or, more likely, not noticed in the first place..

Arlene 10:37 AM  

I'm actually enjoying the Mini - I read the NYT on my iPhone, but I don't do puzzles electronically - I do them on paper with pen. So a minute or so is a pleasant time-out from the (usually dreary and scary) news - quite a treat!
Today's puzzle - boilerplate Monday. I once attended a lecture on "Medieval helmets from 1450-1650" so the CHAINMAIL clue had me thinking of that lecture and armor. Don't even ask why I was interested in that.

mac 10:39 AM  

The puzzle and its theme were not difficult, but there were a few non-Mondayish words: beset, exhorts, wire fraud.

Hand up for sante at 4D, and I was pretty proud when I got rope-a-dope without crosses!

Morons? Have we seen that in the NYT before?

AliasZ 10:40 AM  

It was fun to see both MORONS and ASSES, the new political party mascots, in the same puzzle.

@Lewis, you missed the best ones: REWARD, not to mention REED, EDO, EPYKS, EEN, LATE, (bric-a-)BRAC, Ed SESSA, (bi- or tri-)CEPS and TAN. There could be others.

OLD BAG is such a colorful, widely used expression, it is certainly crossworthy, more so than schtup, idiot or spaz, say.

Lovely, light and airy Monday diversion, although I hate it when I do not forward some CHAIN MAIL and I wake up dead the next morning.

Let's listen to some fabulous film music by Miklós Rózsa (1907-1995): EL CID.

Happy Monday!

Joseph Michael 10:49 AM  

Had a little more bite than the usual Monday, but I agree that the theme feels old and that the revealer falls flat. Was also surprised that OLD BAG passed the breakfast test.

On the positive side, there was some good fill -- such as TATTLE, EXHORTS, ASCRIBE, and ART FILM -- and some nice cluing. Plus the interlocking themers which worked well.

Overall a decent, though not memorable, puzzle.

Carola 11:19 AM  

With the exception of CABLE OUTLET, I thought the theme phrases were excellent, but the array of insults wore me out.

Jessica 11:50 AM  

I worked in the cable industry for almost 10 years, and that was one of the last theme clues I filled in, so I think Rex is right about the weird clueing on that one.

Very glad to see Rex consistently pointing out gross, sexist things like OLDBAG. Just ugh.

nick 11:56 AM  

Pia Zadora? Seriously, who is that? And Taye Diggs clued with ancient "Stella" and not current "Hedwig", which got raves in this same newspaper? Baffled.

Lewis 12:10 PM  

@anon 10:16 -- On of M&A's trademarks is the word "har", so there it is backward in that upper corner. My mind was in backward mode I guess this morning, and I found those answers that when read backward resemble bad spellings of common words, "PUPAL" for "pupil", i.e.

@aliasz -- Oh, I saw those genuine backward spellings (and I did refer to Ed Sessa), but what struck me were those backward answers that looked like bad spellings.

Masked and Anonymous 12:33 PM  

rah, @Lewis.

Man. Bucket-o'themers. Things to tie people up with. Kinda mildly weird, at least.

Maybe they shoulda found a slightly less anti-AARP way to clue up OLD BAG.
M&A Help Desk suggestions:
* One that can no longer hold golf balls.
* Ziploc with stuff grownin it, e.g.
* Sucky vacuum cleaner attachment?
* Reticule?
* Purse with heavy tread wear
* High-mileage suitcase
* Bygone preoccupation

42 out of 78, on yer PB1 Usage Immunity. 24 out of 78, on yer M&A Usage Immunity. 5 out of 15x15, on yer U Usage. Thanx again for the stats, @r.alph.

Pretty solid puz, really. Thanx for gangin up on us, B&V.

fave plural weeject: TDS. Go Vikes.


**segue gruntz**

old timer 12:43 PM  

So I get the impression "OLD BAG" is like "nigga", a word that can be safely used only by those who can plausibly describe themselves by that term. Because I've heard it used by women over 70, just as I see it used all the time by African-Americans who are (or would like to be thought of) as gangstas. Note, the "nigga" spelling -- cops are very careful to use it, and not the word ending in "er" when they write police reports where they are quoting a suspect or witness.

I thought the puzzle was a good bit harder than the usual Monday, and winced at some of the fill, espectially IRENA. "Irene", fine, but IRENA is way too hard for a puzzle like this. I ended up admiring the puzzle a lot more after I put down my pen and searched for the *six* theme answers. I thought that was clever enough to raise my opinion about the puzzle's quality.

Thanks folks for the clarification on SALUT. My Larousse bears that out -- it can be used to greet someone, or, the dictionary says, to take leave of someone. Doesn't mean "health" anyway. That's "sante', and "a votre sante'" is an old-fashioned and rather formal expression that can be used when you click wine glasses together.

Bill L. 1:20 PM  

Body parts puzzle today - ARMS, ASSES, WAIST, MOLAR, and two NEES. Also, a LAP standing outside the DANCE.

I've always called them CABLE jacks. Outlets are for electricity and irregulars.

Teedmn 2:01 PM  

I don't have high expectations of Monday puzzles, so this one fit the bill just fine. It took about a minute longer than my average, not sure why. I guess I stared at TAYE for a while, and LINE DANCE because I don't know the names of any of them (I thought they were going to be blues or jazz players). FAM? I can't say I remember seeing that one before, except in 'the whole fam-damnly', not very NYTimes-friendly.

I see someone is trying to get rid of their worn out tote, the OLD BAG. Just throw that thing away!

I didn't read the comments before writing so if I'm copying anybody, it wasn't my AIMS.

Thanks, BV and VF.

Anonymous 3:44 PM  

TER is NOT " Three times in a prescription". The correct abbreviation is TID. How did that get by editing?

Masked and Anonymous 4:12 PM  

OLDBAG clue correction of auto-correction:
* Purse with heavy tread whear.
Bonus clue:
* Original Wrigley Field first base. [go Cubs. and hurry.]


Anonymous 5:06 PM  

@anonymous: t.i.d. is an abbrev. for "ter in die" (latin), meaning thrice per day.

Mohair Sam 5:27 PM  

The heck with the PC police, isn't a "hag" a totally different thing than an OLD BAG? I mean a hag describes a specific type of old meanie, whereas an old bag is just a general slap in the face to an older woman. Or do I have to hone my insults at the assisted living facility? Maybe I'll stick to Battle Ax.

quilter1 6:36 PM  

Finally got here after a busy day of appointments. Hand surgery tomorrow. But, the puzzle. I rate it easy and agree that we got spoiled some last week. Ho hum.

Masked and Anonymous 7:30 PM  

@quilter1--Well, then let me wish U all the best, on that surgery. Hope U will just be quiltin and solvin those NYT SatPuzs in ink again, before U know it.


GILL I. 7:57 PM  

@Mohair Sam....HAH and add a double to that!
"hone my insults at the assisted living facility?" - priceless -!
p.s. Every time I see your name, I'm reminded of Yosemite.

Nancy 9:57 PM  

@Mohair -- Like Gill, I found your assisted living insult comment very funny. Wish everyone would lighten up like you.

Of course, it may be easy for you to say, since no one will ever call you a HAG, an OLD BAG, an OLD BAT or a BATTLE AX. Are there equivalent terms for men, I wonder. I don't think there are, actually.

Z 10:13 PM  

Hey, AVCX has a job posting.

Anonymous 10:23 PM  

please explain wire fraud as answer to crime involving a Nigerian prince, maybe...

Leapfinger 11:17 PM  

@Anon 3:44, you're absolutely right, the prescription abbreviation is t.i.d., but t.i.d. is an abbreviation for 'TER in diem', where TER means "thrice", ergo TER is 'three times' in a prescription.

I hate TER in place of tid also, but I think WS saw it scribed on one of Galen's original Rx slates in some Roman ruins and will never, ever change it.

@ AtoZ, wonderful observation about the political parties' new mascots. Epoxy both their houses, eh?

Z 12:01 AM  

@anon10:23 - if you ever have an offer from a Nigerian Prince in your email inbox (more likely your spam folder these days) you are the victim of attempted wire fraud.

+wordphan 1:20 AM  

COTTON-EYED JOE is a regional dance mainstay in the South, particularly Texas. It's like the CHICKEN DANCE in Minnesota.

old timer 1:16 PM  

Nancy, I could have called myself a "geezer". There's an insult for we older men. And SNL poked fun at Bernie Sanders, treating him like a geezer who always is telling the kids to get off his lawn. I think they would not dare do that to our (very) senior senator from California, Dianne Feinstein.

Burma Shave 9:33 AM  


IWONT give those MORONS a chance to ASCRIBE what they’ve HEARD.


rain forest 11:48 AM  

A perfectly serviceable Monday puzzle with solid themers and very little weak fill. It seems kind of pointless to criticize the revealer, the 'ties' that bind everything together.

I call it a CABLE OUTLET. Don't you?

spacecraft 12:09 PM  

I didn't exactly LAPUP this offering. I'm with OFL on the CABLEOUTLET thingie; don't know what they're talking about. One themer does TEASE the memory banks: CHAINMAIL. Remember the old computer game "ROGUE?" You started out wearing "+1 ring mail," and CHAINMAIL was the next step up. What you wanted to find, though, was plate mail. And a two handed sword. Then you could fight the baddies. I used to spend hours trying to find the "Amulet of Yendor" (Rodney, one of the creators, spelled backward). Ah, days of yore.

Well, we've listed three GIBBS in the clue; only two more and we'll have what Abby shouts every time she finds a big clue. Count 'em sometime: it's always five. "GIBBSGIBBSGIBBSGIBBSGIBBS!" I love that woman.

This has always bothered me about the Star Wars storyline: just how did LEIA become a princess? How is it that Vader DIDN'T EVEN KNOW he had a daughter, let alone detect a strong presence of The Force in her? "Obi-Wan was wise to hide her from me." How? Did he use some blocking power of The Force? This was never explained.

As you can see, I'm not thinking much about the puzzle itself. IWONT agree that most of the fill is "solid enough." I see plenty of osteoporosis. ONEMEG, SST, TER, the mini French lesson (SALUT, AMIE FOIE! ADIEU!), Cliches ETAL and NEE, and the row-ending triple-S crutch ASSES. Sorry, but I think this one should have stayed in the DRAWER. C-.

rondo 2:02 PM  

Well, it wasn’t a total WAIST of time. Got me through the waiting for the wife’s clinic visit. This and the Sudoku, etc. I apparently didn’t even read the clue for the revealer, since I filled there by the downs. But I knew the theme after CABLEOUTLET (like an electrical outlet where you can connect your TV) and Ali’s ROPEADOPE (they don’t make fighters like him anymore).

“Learned” the Electric Slide LINEDANCE at the State Fair +/- 25 years ago with my daughter. Couldn’t remember it now but it was fun to do with the kid.

Lotsa chain letters = CHAINMAIL?

PIA Zadora returns after a long yeah baby recess. I believe she was featured in the same Penthouse issue as Vanessa Williams, who was photographed sticking her nose into other people’s business. Actually.

Dated an IRENA in Odessa, what a TREAT (and not a TEASE). A 9.5 on the scale, but the language barrier proved too much in the end and it was ADIEU.

No ERRORS today, even with all that French. I suppose those French words usually supply a lot of vowels to hang on the constructor’s crutches, which is probably no worse than SOAMI.

BS2 2:21 PM  




leftcoastTAM 3:55 PM  

A good, solid Monday puzzle.

Of the theme answers, I thought the generic LINE was OK but a bit weak. The "Poindexters" clue was new and amusing to me. The cell phone is a universal alternative to a telephone, and SKYPE, I think, is superfluous. Never heard of TAYE or ever heard FAM spoken by anyone.

These are nit-picks. I liked the puzzle. A good Monday with a few twists of the TIES.

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