Termagant / SAT 3-12-16 / Dummies / Jerk / Fetor / Up

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Constructor: Josh Knapp

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium


Word of the Day: BOX SOCIAL (14A: Old-fashioned affair à la "Oklahoma!") —
In the U.S. state of Vermont the tradition is that women decorate a cardboard box and fill it with a lunch or dinner for two. The men bid on the women's boxes anticipating a meal with the woman whose box it is. Generally the boxes are anonymous, so the men don't know which woman belongs to which box, nor what the box contains, the mystery and sometimes humorous results adding to the fun. However, it is not unknown for a young woman to surreptitiously drop hints to a favored man indicating which box is hers, as a way of "rigging" the results (and avoiding potentially less desirable company). The bidding involves teasing, joking, and competition. The event frequently takes place in a town hall, school gymnasium, or church hall. The practice had fallen out of favor with young people in the 1970s–1990s, but has seen some resurgence in recent years. The rules today have become less rigid. Men now provide boxes as well, but the goal remains the same: raising money for a school, church, or civic project.[citation needed] A notable example from pop culture is the second act of Oklahoma!, which is set at a box social. (Wikipedia)
• • •

So I guess Rex was at a high school musical -- we don't know if it's "Oklahoma!" and we may/will definitely never know -- so it's me, Lena, again.

My boyfriend got QUESTLOVE (17A: "Tonight Show" bandleader with a signature 'fro) instantly (question: why do we assume his hairstyle is a "signature" rather than just, say, his hair?), and I followed on his heels with BBQ PIT (1D: Where dogs may be put in the backyard)-- a nice misdirecting clue with no "heads-up" question mark. I love the word ECLAT (6D: Acclaim) and am always happy to see it in puzzles-- which is pretty much the only place I do. BOX SOCIAL though... that was definitely a new old one on me. The concept seems weird-- it's a... meal swap? Secret sandwich? Men can put food in a box now too? Basically it's clear that I need to host one now. I will raise money for gin. For me.

THATS WHATS UP (31A: "Hell, yeah!") is a fun answer with a long stretch of consonants (TSWH) in the middle just to make you sweat your crosses. That stodgy punctuation in the clue though! Just make with the exuberance and throw caution to the comma. We've got that "hell," ASS (4D: Jerk) and SEX SHOP (13D: Once-common Times Square establishment) to make for a wild Saturday. But the [Joint issue] is GOUT (28A) and has nothing to do with a missing roach clip or passing in the incorrect direction. 

I wanted TAIGA for TYROL (34D: Alpine region) because I had NO WAIT instead of NOT YET (37A: "Hang on, hang on"). I liked (10D: Keep lubed, say) for REOIL because it didn't do that annoying thing where you know it's RE- because they've put "again" in the clue. You get it. Overall I enjoyed the cluing in this puzzle-- clever, conversational, spunky. 

But what's up with [Termagant] for SCOLD (56A)? This is some next-level SAT vocab trivia-- and I don't like that the definition refers first and foremost to "an overbearing woman." I hate "shrew" and the concept that it's always women who nag, so why not just clue the word as is-- [Chide] or something. Oh, I'm sorry, am I being a termagant?

Also was not a fan of PENCIL PUSHER (38A: Office drudge). I work in an office; I'm an admin, and I do a LOT more than "push pencils." Office jobs are not inherently boring-- it's a crappy stereotype. I worked in the poxvirus division of the CDC and *that* was certainly one of the most boring jobs I've had.

I had a good time with this puzzle overall and thought it was clean, but maybe a little on the easy side for a Saturday.

Signed, Lena Webb, Court Jester of CrossWorld

[Follow Lena on Twitter]


jae 1:50 AM  

Easy-medium for me too. I'm FAIRLY embarrassed to admit that QUESTLOVE was a WOE. I've seen Fallon's Tonight Show less than half a dozen times (I prefer Colbert), and while I know The Roots is the band, I have no idea what their names are.

This was fine but I agree with @Lena, a bit too easy for a Sat. That said, liked it.

Martín Abresch 2:16 AM  

Marge: All I'm saying is don't get too comfortable. Mr. Burns will be back tomorrow.
Homer: Marge, you're right. We do have to have a party.
Marge: Party? No! No parties!
Homer: What about... par-tay's?
Marge: No par-tays, no shindigs, no keggers, no hootenannies, no mixers, no raves, no BOX SOCIALs!

Lots of great stuff in this puzzle! BOX SOCIAL over QUESTLOVE made for a great NW. I still hope to see the spelling ?UESTLOVE make a puzzle some day. Perhaps crossing ? AND THE MYSTERIANS. Had OXlipS first, then couldn't remember if the other yellow flower was OXEarS or OXEYES.

Loved the clue-answer combo of "Hell, yeah!" and THAT'S WHAT'S UP!

My favorite CODEX is the Codex Seraphinianus. It's not an actual codex, but it is one of the most beautiful and weird books that you can find. My partner (who is awesome and has great taste) bought me a copy as a gift the other year.

Loved the clues for IKEA (The world's largest one is in South Korea, the second-largest in Sweden), ROO (Bush junior?), and ANTIDOTE (Vial that a villain might withhold). I know KATEY Sagal more for her work as Leela on Futurama: she has a fantastic speaking voice. Confidently entered IN UNISON where TYPECAST goes (Not having many different parts?). FERAL CAT and PARASKI livened up the SW.

The SE was the least exciting corner, but I did like the three 6-letter words: DE NADA, OSPREY, and especially SHREDS.

Lots of crunchy words and Scrabbly letters. Great puzzle!

jae 2:28 AM  

Now Jon Batiste I do know.

Carola 3:00 AM  

I found it FAIRLY challenging, needing to go all the way to the far SE and NPR x OSPREY to get any kind of foothold.
Putting me in the DODOS group: a DNF due to DiS(function).
Do-overs: stray CAT, one sec for NOT YET, one-acter for TYPECAST, harpy before SCOLD (I actually like the word "termagant" and was hoping "virago" would fit).
Nice cross of OLD NORSE and CODEX, with the following INK! Made me think of the OLD NORSE sagas of the Poetic Edda collected in the CODEX Regius manuscript.

chefwen 3:05 AM  

@Carola - Aloha and welcome back. Just now getting caught up on a few puzzles and the blog. Spent the last two weeks being chief cook and bottle washer for visiting big brother. He had never been here before so my other role was tour guide. Fun stuff!
Next wave of visitors due tomorrow.

Loved this puzzle. Unlike most Saturdays, got through this one without too much angst. Just a couple of minor goofs, like insisting that 60A was KATie and my DODOS were DOPes at first. Minor repairs were completed and I finished in a not too embarrassing amount of time.

YEA for DST, I get the puzzles an hour earlier.

Dolgo 3:20 AM  

Great word, termagent. Archaic feel. I agree about "shrew," though. "Scold" is much better. I uncovered one of those nasty beasties mowing the back forty when I was a kid. And I never liked teaching Shakespeare's play. Too easy to ignore the Bard's irony by missing the significance of the Christopher Sly Induction. I also was entertained by the inner column reference. It's nice to be able to slap your forehead when you finally get one like that.

Anonymous 4:26 AM  

Sniffing out your sniffing out not-there racism on the clue for QUESTLOVE. And yes, there are no overbearing women, and it's unequivocally evil for any noun to be gendered. You are on the job!

Alby 4:54 AM  

Would have loved to see QUESTLOVE's alternative spelling, with a ?. I remember the old Times Square, having moved to NYC in the late '90s, and I don't think the SEXSHOPS carried enough toys or were inviting enough to women to be called such. Speaking of Times Square, it's because of the Nation of Islam guys who used to post up there that I know ASHER. Pretty easy multisyllabic fill otherwise.

Loren Muse Smith 5:01 AM  

The fill-in-the-blanks got me nowhere, so I entered at HABIT/NIOBE. My next answer was "first seed," and off that clunker, I got TERSE and OSPREY. Hmm. TERSE OSPREY would be a good name for a band. Hi, Dave Barry.

With STATED in place and "meet" for ALLY, I had "damn straight" for THAT'S WHAT'S UP.

USO "tour" and then SHOW paved the way for TOP SEEDED.

I came very close to giving up because of the northwest, but I finally saw BBQ PIT and guessed at the OXEYES/BOX SOCIAL cross. PRY wasn't in place yet, because I was thinking "rig" for "jimmy."

"Anecdote" is one of those words I use and then do a panicky mental check the rest of the day, assuring myself that it was the right word and not ANTIDOTE.

I have three GOUT rockers that belonged to my grandparents.

Yeah – cluing SCOLD as a noun was tough. I don't think I've ever seen the word "termagant." Would've been cool to fit "shrew" there for a trio of SHR words. I looked up "termagant," too, and figured it'd ruffle feathers because it's a woman. Again, feeling as though people like me undermine the feminist movement, I don’t bristle at "termagant" or "shrew." So often this blog makes me feel ashamed of how unaware I am of things I'm supposed to be angry about.

Whatever the case, in this derogatory vein, you could argue that the clue BROADENS the word SCOLD.

Off to tackle the Stumper. The byline is a pseudonym of the crossword editor whose reputation is most assuredly not in SHREDS. Looking forward to tomorrow to find out whether the Heels are TOP SEEDED.

Josh - a pleasure, as usual. I liked PENCIL PUSHER and the headline OLD NORSE SEEKS OUT SEX SHOP.

Whitey 5:09 AM  

I did poorly. Finished only half the puzzle. Was led astray by wrong answers: BARNDANCE, CRATE, STRAYCAT, and ROONEY (got my Mickeys mixed up).
I live in South Korea. Didn't get the answer to that clue, either.

Keith McCulloch 7:27 AM  

I dont think he was implying that all people that work in offices are drudges - just that if you ARE a pencil pusher in an office you would be in the 'drudge' category

jberg 7:44 AM  

Me too finishing with DiS/KATE i, @carola. It was still fun --no idea about QUESTLOVE, so that corner took a really long time-- I actually tried "meanDErS" before BROADENS. But the "Aha!" Moments were nice.

Do some back yards have per PITS?

GILL I. 8:07 AM  

I'm tossing this into my Sat. goodie bag. May I add good write-up, good fun, good AND clean puzzle.
I'd love for someone to (off-the-cuff) call me a Termagant. I had VIXEN. Was it KATEY in "Taming of the Shrew" who became one?
BOX SOCIAL gave me a huge smile. My paternal grandmother was a Sunday School teacher. She, her husband and 10 children migrated from Oaklahoma to Southern California in the 30's because of the Dust Bowl. They never mentioned The Depression but loved to throw in that they were the story behind Steinbeck's "Grapes of Wrath." Anyway, whenever my parents needed a summer vacation, they would ship me off to the "old" folks in California for the summer. Every Sunday, we'd trot off with a huge basked of fried chicken, potato salad and a cherry pie. I vividly remember one Sunday where all the "ladies" brought beautifully wrapped boxes that all smelled faintly of Crisco and mayonnaise. I wondered why Granny didn't have anything in tow that Sunday so she explained to me what was about to happen. This was better than Christmas. By God, you could see the struttin, galloping gourmets, winking and smiling and doing a little jitter bug dance in front of their wares, anxiously counting the bidding, until every BOX was sold. I was never so excited as I was that Sunday in church. I was about 7 so that might explain it. I say, we should bring back the BOX SOCIAL....Give the proceeds to Loaves and Fishes!
I had THE ILIAD...damn saga!

NCA President 8:52 AM  

I got BOXSOCIAL right away having just worked on Oklahoma! a year ago. If you haven't seen it in a while, yes the music is great, but boy howdy is that show quaintly and abhorrently sexist. My kids, 19 and 14 at the time hated it. The show ranks up there with Song of South as something that should be shelved forever, allowing only the music to be heard. It's terrible is what I'm saying.

As for the puzzle, I thought this was an ideal Saturday. Some stuff I knew, some stuff I had to think about a while before the light went on (or the coffee kicked in), and some stuff I had no idea existed. PARASKI? Do you get towed behind a sled? Phil LESH...didn't know. QUESTLOVE...didn't know. I know NIOBE (from xwords), but not as clued. And "termagant" isn't a word I use very often if at all.

I know SEXSHOPS by the more subtle title, "Adult Book Stores."

I liked this puzzle...no groans or cursing....got it done under my average with time to spare.

Chuck McGregor 9:16 AM  

The sad story of a serious DNF:

With the following reveals, I got it done: BROADENS, BOXSOCIAL, SEX SHOPS, GMC, SHREDS, ASHER, E (L_SH), WEEKDAYS, N (_PR), Y (N_ES), and, at the end, three puzzle checks to find wrong letters.

On the other hand, my first entry was OSPREY, riskily filled with no help, However that should give a clue as to how deep into the puzzle I had to go to get even one clue. TOPSEEDED went in off of that along with the exceedingly apt DODOS, being that I felt exactly like one at that moment.

Full stop. With no further progress, I literally mean NADA, the cheating started At the end, I still felt like a DODO. There were too many things I did not know even after they were filled with the crosses. My wrong letters at the end were part of several of the proper names. I just kept guessing at possible letters until they checked OK.

It’s Saturday. I didn’t expect easy. Mr. Knapp did not disappoint and he.won, hands DOWN, but I don’t feel it was a LET DOWN. Can’t win ‘em all.

Completely digressing, I leave you with this, STATED by a caller on a radio talk (not USO) show. I think it a good: reminder to be careful out there,*

“If Trump is President I won’t have to worry about some bearded guy in a dress following my 12-year old daughter into the ladies room.”

* To be quite clear, it’s neither the kid nor the imagined, sartorially inappropriate, bearded guy I’d be worried about, ..


pwoodfin 9:29 AM  

Loved that I actually finished this one considering all the missteps along the way. For "Dome of the Rock" I had Shaved, as in Dwayne Johnson bald pate. So that gave me "v" which I figured must be the v of something...vacuumer. Thought Kia made the Canyon so had Kilos up top at 9 across, which made that whole corner almost impossible to see. After figuring out that if GMC maybe was the car maker, then maybe shipping quantity might be grams. You get the idea. Miraculous that I finished, but I did without googling and feeling pretty good about it.

Learned a bunch of new stuff, too: Termagant, Box Social, True Home of Seven Gables, that Bill Nye's got a climate lab, and that fetor means reek.

Great puzzle, Josh. And not just because I finished. Thanks!

Hartley70 9:36 AM  

@Gill, a sweet story today, but I can't get Tuesday's Mary aka FUR and her roadkill coat out of my head. It's taking up valuable space this week, which probably explains why this puzzle gets a medium difficulty from me.

FETOR was a complete unknown as was QUESTLOVE. Is that oddity first and last or just last name? TERMAGANT was close but I knew it wasn't a "good" thing. It felt like an insect pest. THATSWHATSUP doesn't mean "Hell,yes" to me. It might follow an explanation of what I was doing at a particular time of day. I like "You can bet your Bippy on it." I do not know the twelve tribes of Israel but I suppose I can fix that.

I liked this one just fine.

Teedmn 9:36 AM  

Easy-peasy until I got stuck in the NE. The S of STATED and the ET of NOT YET were all I had. I could not come up with a phrase that meant "Hell, yeah" and was THAT'S WHAT _ _ _ huh? I thought of every usage for Bush that I could scrape up. Big scrap, are we talking about fights or garbage? Ancient manuscript is five letters so not "Edda" and not "scroll". Source for 'saga' is going to end in 'eSE' right? What does moving water sound like? Argh!

I finally threw down MELEE and added S UP to the end of 31A. So after several DNFs this week, I solved this one perfectly after SLOSHIng around for way too long.

I kept trying to come up with a five letter word that meant "ply with alcohol" for "Keep lubed". Had MAL before DYSfunction but KATEY saved that one. I liked the clue for 63A WEEK DAYS and the misdirection of 20A for mother. I have only read the word "termagant" and only today did I realize that the G must be hard due to its being followed by an A. In my head, I always pronounced it ''ter-MAJ-ent" so I'm happy to have missed the embarrassment of saying it that way instead of the correct "TER-ma-gant". Whew!

Thanks, Josh Knapp, for an edifying Saturday.

Chuck McGregor 9:44 AM  

@ Gill I. 8:07 (& @ LMS)-- Your "BOX SOCIAL [anecdote] gave ME a huge smile," a good ANTIDOTE for many things.

Nancy 9:59 AM  

I was feeling so proud of myself for solving this puzzle...and then I came here to find out it was rated "Easy" by many here. I hate when that happens! For me, it was a challenge from beginning to end, and if I had had to bet all my worldly possessions on what would be my outcome, I would have predicted a dnf.

But remember: I don't Google and I didn't know any of the names. Not QUESTLOVE. Not LESH. Not GMC. Not KATEY. Not SHAREWARE. Not ALDA (though I came up with him quickly.) So what I imagine were gimmes for many of you were WOEs for me.

Other than the names, I absolutely loved it. Loved PENCIL PUSHER; BOX SOCIAL; TOP SEEDED. Loved the clues for TYPECAST; ANTIDOTE and BBQ PIT. I had the problem I always have at clues like 42A: I never know if it's DODOS or DOlts or DOpes.

Will someone please explain the clue for WEEKDAYS at 63A? I don't get it at all, though when I go back to read all of you, perhaps someone will have already discussed it.

Bob Kerfuffle 10:00 AM  

Very nice, Easy-Medium Saturday.

Last to fill was THAT'S WHAT'S UP, not an expression I have ever used or heard - typing it now, I can only imagine it coming in answer to the question, "What's up, Doc?" "Well, I had some car trouble, and I finally got over that cold, . . . That's what's up."

Re: 35 D, FERAL CAT, Alley Cat Allies, an organization which heavily promotes "Trap-neuter-return," would prefer that you refer to this feline as a "Community Cat."

Nancy Klein 10:15 AM  

Just not cool enough to watch Fallon or know Questlove, so I had to resort to google to finish this one.

KRMunson 10:37 AM  

Pretty clean solve for me. Hit a few snags, but it all came together in the end. Feel great when I can finish a Saturday puzz. That's whats up!

old timer 11:20 AM  

I got BOX SOCIAL right away, because I loved Oklahoma! Grew up with the record album, and at age 7 was confused by "Pore Jud is Daid". Once I saw the movie I understood the joke. BROADENS seemed right, but then I put in "oxalis" instead of OXEYES. DNF in that part, beause I have always been asleep in bed when QUESTLOVE is playing on the Tonight show. And even if i were awake, I'd be watching Colbert most likely.

The bottom half of the puzzle was pretty Easy I thought. All I had to do to get the SW right was to change "Mis" function to DYS. On the other side, the brilliantly-clued WEEKDAYS was my first guess. followed by TOP SEEDED. I'm surprised no one has complained about DE NADA, which you probably would not know if you never took Spanish I. After Googling for the Tonight Show, I finished in the NE, where I was sad to have to give up "Sanskrit" and put in OLD NORSE. I had been looking for something with "porno" in it, but SEX SHOP was at least generic. Definitely Sodom and Gomorrah back in the day, and I saw more than one game of Three Card Monte played on 42d St. (Hint: they always let you win once. That's when you need to get out of there.

Malsdemare 11:27 AM  

DNF here too. I had to reveal the proper names, at least the current ones. But I did pretty well, all things considered. There was a house near my home in Cincinnati that was called Green Gables; for a long time I thought it was Anne's house and was awfully disappointed to learn it was just a house with green gables.

I figured termagent would ruffle feathers. But I like those evocations of earlier times and culture, and in this case, FEMININE WILES were a necessary evil in days when a woman's health, safety, indeed her life, often were at the mercy of men who could and did do awful things that were LEGAL. If one were insufficient in such wiles, she was a SHREW (today, she's a ball buster). I also think it's a good idea to remind people of how ugly our history has been, so when evil people show up in the puzzle, it acts as an "ugh, who let that that awful man out of his cage?" Sad to say, there are scary indicators we may be returning to those lovely days of BOX SOCIALS, vapors, stoning, chastity belts, lock-the-crazy-lady-in-the-ATTIC. I suggest we all dust off those wiles. Or practice shrew-ness.

Z 11:32 AM  

A blank slate until COST/USO SHOW opened up the SE. Breezed through the SE and SW but stalled at THAT'S WHATS --. At least partly because THAT'S WHAT'S UP does not mean "Hell yeah!" No, it would need to be THAT'S WHAT'S UUUUUUP! while making a hand gesture and striking a pose.

The NE took a little effort, partly because I still find it hard to believe that anyone would name a pick-up "Canyon." A part of my brain was going "pick-up or SUV" and the other part of my brain was going "no one is that stupid."

BOX SOCIAL? NIOBE as clued? Mickey ROURKE? IKEA clued as South Korean. The NW was a struggle. What does it say about me that, looking at ---IT, my first thought was "What kind of mother wears a pewIT?" Once I finally drudged QUESTLOVE up, BBQ PIT appeared, then BROADENS, filling in enough to ROURKE and OXEYE (and the D'Oh slap for IKEA). All in all a fine challenge. I'm positive, though, that I'd have run out of time at the ACPT due entirely to the NW.

@pwoodfin - That's a Hall of Fame wrong answer. So perfectly Saturday reasonable and so wrong.

@Dolgo - I tend to fall into the "Shakespeare was an observer of human nature" camp. What one makes ofShrew generally says more about one than Shakespeare. Likewise, how someone chooses to perform the play says quite a bit. One certainly could perform it for Promise Keepers to rave reviews, but that's not the only way to present it.

jae 11:37 AM  

@lms - Speaking of embarrassing, I had ANecDOTE before ANTIDOTE and was wondering why it wasn't working.

kitshef 11:57 AM  

Mixed feelings. On the one hand, very hard for me, but gettable, which is what a Saturday should be. Needed every cross on QUESTLOVE and LESH and ALDA and GMC, and all but one on THATSWHATSUP.

Also on the plus side, lots of nice stuff like BOXSOCIAL, OSPREY, PENCILPUSHER, OLDNORSE. Loved the clue for WEEKENDS, and also for BBQPIT - shame that followed a similar clue so recently.

On the downside - the string of dross starting around 30A. A ROO not a junior. Joey would the answer there. Hell, Yeah is the worst kind of clue, THATSWHATSUP is the worst kind of answer. Then that double sin is repeated with Hang on Hang on/NOTYET.

On balance, a really nice puzzle, but with a bitter aftertaste, primarily due to THATSWHATSUP.

Anonymous 12:00 PM  

Here's why the clue for Questlove is appropriate. The guy wears a comb in his hair. So it is a "signature 'fro" because he does something different with it. It is not "signature" because it simply is a "'fro." Rex calls out stuff like that all the time. In this case, I don't think the suggestion that the clue is a clueless "white-ism" holds up.

Anonymous 12:06 PM  

Hand up for stRAyCAT. COST me a ton of time.

As did damnStrAight which I so badly wanted in place of THATSWHATSUP.


5 minutes over average...a slog but rewarding.

Lewis 12:08 PM  

@lena -- Good writeup, I love "throw caution to the comma".

This puzzle pulled four words out of my head that I didn't even know were there, but out they popped when I needed them: CODEX, ASHER, NIOBE, and ECLAT. I learned SCOLD as a noun, and BOXSOCIAL. Loved the clues for BBQPIT, INKS, ITEMS, and COST, and the answer TYPECAST.

This puzzle kept me on my toes and rewarded me often when I figured things out. Just what I love in a puzzle!

MJB 12:29 PM  

Knew Questlove from Wednesday, March 9 NY Times Food section: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/09/dining/questlove-chef-food-salon.html?_r=0. Learned he has a collection of 80,000 vinyl records.

Anonymous 12:37 PM  

Nice Saturday puzzle; wonderful Saturday write-up. What a pleasant break from Rex who hates everything to Lena who seems to being throughly enjoying herself. Thanks!

Trombone Tom 1:02 PM  

Had a hard time getting traction but once started it all flowed easily, especially for a Saturday. Didn't know QUESTLOVE; those late shows are past my bedtime these days. Also couldn't get from "Hell, yeah!" to THAT'SWHATSUP. Crosses saved me. Nice puzzle, John Knapp.

Historical note: Phil LESH played trumpet (and piano) in a band I put together in high school.

Fred Romagnolo 1:03 PM  

I slipped up; see yesterday's comments for my entry on TODAY'S term TERMAGANT. Sorry, folks.

Mohair Sam 1:25 PM  

DNF'd because we were DODOs and believed in DOltS, didn't know LESH, and didn't know NPR as a "big" podcaster. SHREDS not slang we know, and DENADA new to us too. Never had a chance in the SE.

Tough puzzle for us otherwise too. If we're watching TV at 11:30 it's Philly teams on the West Coast, never seen QUESTLOVE. Forgot about the BOXSOCIAL too, hence had to work letter by letter there.

Anyone else have "elmst" before ATTIC? For the life of me I can't match THATSWHATSUP with it's clue ("Hell, yeah!"). GMC makes something called a Canyon? Sounds odd, like to talk with the marketing folks who picked that one. PENCIL PUSHER always a delightful insult to office workers, I see it annoyed Lena today.

Tough but fair TEST this Saturday for us. Thanks Josh Knapp.

Masked and Anonymous 2:05 PM  

Wow. Super-smooth fill, for a 68-worder. And fairly scrabble-twerked, too boot. Masterful work. Makes M&A wanna create another goopy runtpuz, just to re-establish balance in the Universe.

QUESTLOVE drove me absolutely nuts, tryin desperately to remember the exact name. Not a big Fallon-watcher, for reasons similar to @jae. But QUESTLOVE is absolutely a major M&A hero; he is an avid, packrat-like vinyl record collector, an affliction also attributable to m&e. Started out drawin blanks, with _U_____. Then DOTH, ECLAT and NIOBE helped me get to _U__TLO__, which immediately triggered the part-ahar-moment of _U__TLOVE. At which point M&A knew it was somethin like "Crestlove". QUESTLOVE burst thru the thick walls of M&A's skull, soon afterward.

Kinda like THATSWHATSUP, even tho my crowd don't say that. They do say "Oh Hell no!" a lot to M&A, however.

Cool grid layout. Funky 7-block bsquares, in the N and S. Probably the most desperate-lookin thing in the whole puz, and that ain't no big ding. Top one looks a little like a periscope, maybe? Bottom one: periscope in a sunken sub??

PBUI=27. MAUI=13. 4 U's. C-ROLLS: 2.5.

Nice write-up, Lena darlin. Thanx, Mr. Knapp.



puzzle hoarder 2:09 PM  

I'm solving under some kind of jinx. A clean grid seems to have become unattainable from wed. on.
This time I thought I had it for sure until I saw KATEY in the comments. While solving that section I thought who would end that name with an I but you never know. At that point I still had the NW to finish so I just moved on and forgot about it.
The rest of the puzzle was just not that hard. I was surprised by the rating but then again it wasn't @Rex. I had some write overs. LAUDE/ECLAT, NOTNOW/NOTYET, ANDES/TYROL. Another thing that slowed me down a little was having the last four letters of 38A and trying to work with WINDOWWASHER. Letter wise it does fit. RAISE and SALEM got the SW going. This DIS/DYS mistake is supremely ironic. I was just going on about my dyslexia the other day. Not only had I never read the definitions for those two prefixes. To be honest I probably didn't know that the spelling was different.
Very good puzzle but the way.

Joe Bleaux 2:24 PM  

If I'm old enough to not get "That's what's up," maybe I shoulda caught "Box social," but I didn't. Nor did I know Questlove, but somehow muddled through, Googling only to confirm Rourke, with which I opened the NE. Down South (perhaps appropriately), I almost went with dolts instead of dodos. All around, a dang good Saturday puzzle, which I finished in just over my unimpressive average time -- and learned something (Niobe)!

Merle 2:51 PM  

Lena's take on a number of clues is pretty cranky, not an enjoyable blog to read. Picky picky picky. Termagant, shrew, virago, scold, are all terms applied to women who behave in a particular way. Cad, heel, knave, cur, masher,blackguard are all derogatory terms applied to men, to male behavior. Is there sexism involved in both sets of words? Or are words applied solely to male bad behavior acceptable? Ease up, Lena. I'm old school feminist, my feminism forged in the sexism of the 1950's and 1960's, and I don't find the use of the words termagant or scold offensive. Nor do I find the term "pencil pusher" offensive. It is an old-fashioned term, to be sure, but drudgery is accurate. The word refers to a certain kind of drudgery, such as the work Bob Cratchit did in "A Christmas Carol". And not all office workers are administrators. Some are clerks, and their work can be dreary, repetitive, and uninspiring. There's more to heaven and earth, Lena, than is dreamed of in your philosophy. Rex can be somewhat curmudgeonly at times, of course, but, all in all, I miss Rex. And, Lena, I hope you approve of my comment, and don't censor it. It has some information in it that some of Rex's blog followers might find interesting.

Merle 3:05 PM  

Further thoughts regarding issues of sexism Lena brought up -- Box socials were, and continue to be, a useful social event. They were courting rituals used as fundraisers, similar to any number of social events today, such as dances. Yes, the women made the food, and the men bid on the boxes, but indeed there was a usefulness to division of labor involving food, based on sex. Women tending to small children, for instance, could do a lot of work around the house, including cooking, and tending to a kitchen garden, while men could work further from home, in the fields, or hunting. Why were women tending to small children? Well, a baby or even a toddler might still be breast feeding, something the mother would do. And child care requires a lot of attention. Yes, food preparation involves fire, and knives, for instance, but field work involves scythes, plows, large animals, and hunting involves guns. Children were safer at home than in the field or with hunters in the woods. And that 'fro indeed is a signature hair style for Questlove, just like the hairstyles of the Beatles, who were called "mopheads", were a signature hair style, just like the long hair of Joan Baez was a signature hair style. Nothing racist in the clue and answer. But something rather over-the-top PC-sensitive in Lena's comments. All I post on my FaceBook page are political articles and petitions for sharing, from organizations such as The Color of Change, or NARAL. I am PC-sensitive too, when it comes to racism and sexism and other nasty -isms, but Lena's comments seem to be making mountains out of molehills.

DigitalDan 4:07 PM  

Perhaps a male term with the same negative connotations as termagant would be "curmudgeon", defined as a "crusty, ill-tempered, and usually old man." I claim to qualify, because I'm usually old.

Leapfinger 4:20 PM  

Termagant I always first think is some kind of sea duck, but that's probably just the wrong merganswer. Shrew'd? Sometimes 'scold, other times 'shot.

QUESTLOVE? Sure, why not, just don't make it a HABIT.

May be pouring REOILS on troubled REwaters, but no LETDOWNS, NOT YET.

Z 5:03 PM  

@Merle - That's a lot of verbiage from a question and a "I don't like...." Maybe today's guest blogger was making a veiled implication regarding sexism. Or maybe she just doesn't like words that are defined in stereotypical ways. I personally like the word and now have to figure out how to fit the historical meaning into a conversation.

@Mohair Sam - DE NADA = the French "de rien" = "it's nothing" or "no problemo." Don't ask me why we stick that Spanglish looking O on "no problem."

@MJB - The main reason print is better than digital. Who ever just "flips through" the other sections of the NYT Online?

I already tossed my paper in the recycling, along with my PPP tally. It was low.

old timer 6:20 PM  

I'm with @Merle here. Customs were different 50 and 100 years ago, and no one who solves today should complain if on a Sat, folks are expected to know about BOX SOCIALS and the rest.

To the fellow who did not know LESH, I sympathize. In my own case I attended dozens of Dead performances, some in Golden Gate Park or the Panhandle, and you really could build a great theme puzzle honoring the members of the band, the songwriters (Robert Hunter was for all intents and purposes a member of the band, and will be as famous a poet as Dylan some day), and some of the classic songs. More people know Hunter's imaginary St Stephen than the real one, the first Christian martyr, I bet).

Anonymous 6:22 PM  

A DNF for me. I too am a dodo.
BUT éclat does not mean acclaim! So no wonder i got it only because nothing else worked. Does anyone have a dictionary that gives that definition?

Nancy 6:34 PM  

@Malsdemare (11:27 am) -- I really loved your comment today -- funny, trenchant, colorful, and a very interesting, unusual take on the situation of women, then and now.

La Belle Quebecoise 7:22 PM  

I'm really in dire straits. When @jae mentioned Jon Batiste, I thought he was mis-spelling St. Jean Baptiste.

On the bright side, I've lived through enough legitimate upheavals not to become overly worked up over the perceived implications of termagants and box lunches. You might say I've aged into being anti-semantic. Thankfully.

kitshef 8:50 PM  

@Nancy - the columns are on a calendar. First and last are weekends. In between are WEEKDAYS.

Z 9:20 PM  

@anon6:22 - See definition 1.1

Rex Parker 9:25 PM  

"Listen little girl, let me explain feminism to you. In my day..." Man. Priceless.

How this comments section is not a. better at self-policing, and b. continually embarrassed for itself, I have no idea.

Also—and this is 100% factually true: if you use the term "PC" to describe anyone, at any time, who is, in your estimation, too sensitive, you are The Worst. Credibility = 0. Vote Trump and get lost. Thank you!


Charles Flaster 10:55 PM  

Late start and DNF.
Could not suss BBQ PIT but it is a great clue.
Never could get SHARE WARE.
Enjoyed the puzzle .
Thanks JK.

Sir Hillary 11:12 PM  

@pwoodfin - Your reading of "Dome of the Rock" as Dwayne Johnson's pate made me laugh harder than anything I have ever read here. I mean that as a compliment, because you have probably inspired countless constructors with a great new clue for BALD.

@Rex - Pity you can't exercise a little self-restraint and ignore commentary that, while logical and reasonably stated, doesn't conform to your worldview. Ah well, I assume it was due to (a) your usual weekend tippling and/or (b) your euphoria at the Fresno State Bulldogs punching their March Madness dance card. Any thoughts on the puzzle?

Chronic dnfer 9:49 AM  

A lot of ppps, no?

Burma Shave 10:51 AM  


He spends his SAVINGS on ITEMS to RAISE


rondo 11:18 AM  

Easy my butt. More than FAIRLY tough, I thought. I’ve got isolated inkfests in a line from the NW to SE that look like a weather front crossing Colorado. Can hardly make out BBQ, ALLY, UHOH, REEK and the end of DENADA. Don’t see the Tonight Show often enough to recall, and my Spanish is not that good

Geez, enough thin skin in the comments for Ed Geen to open a lampshade factory. GROSS, I know, but those DODOS RAISE the “ART” of PCness, etc. to another level. It’s a puzzle, not an op-ed piece. Calm down.

Good thing they don’t come here to call out my yeah baby HABIT. KATEY Sagal gets it today by default, so THATSWHATSUP with that.

I liked this puz even though it took me quite a while to finish. Correctly at that. After making a mess. So the finish is the best ANTIDOTE for the little LETDOWNS.

spacecraft 11:28 AM  

DNF. Got the south, but could not break through to the north anywhere. THATSWHATSUP????? is a complete, total WHA? I have NEVER heard anyone use that expression. I wouldn't have gotten that if I'd tried for a hundred years. QUESTLOVE?? This is somebody's actual NAME?? And then to use the clue "Aforementioned" for STATED?? No. That's plain unfair.

In the section I did do, I saw that I would have to extend KATY Sagal's name somehow to five letters. Four or five, she'll have to do for the babe of the day.

At least we finally have the WEEKDAYS straightened out: This certainly is Saturday! INC

leftcoastTAM 2:01 PM  

I'm with @spacecraft. Had to bail out in the north for most of the same reasons, particularly QUESTLOVE/NIOBE and THATSWHATSUP/STATED. Easy my ASS.

eastsacgirl 3:35 PM  

QUESTLOVE first to go in since we watch Fallon every night. One of the last was THATSWHATSUP. Have never heard that expression. All in all, great Saturday even though a little on the easy side.

rain forest 3:52 PM  

Four separate session on this "easy-medium" (hah!) puzzle. If I knew the afro guy, the old-time social, KATEY, LESH, this might have seemed maybe medium, but as it is, just plain challenging for me, and made me have to postpone my vacuuming.

I think ASS and 'jerk' are used exclusively on males, so if TERMAGANT is used to describe a certain woman, so be it. I think, according to @Rex, my credibility is roughly zero. I take that as a compliment.

Very tough, well-constructed puzzle.

Joshua 8:03 PM  

I don't understand why "Works on the strip?" is INKS.

Diana,LIW 9:42 PM  

Number One - Did not get my newspaper by 9 am.

Number Two - called said newspaper

Number three - called them again at 11:15

Number four - called them again at 1:20

About to go to the store and buy a paper, it arrives at 1:35

Reviewed X-word

Said bad words

Filled in about 7 answers

6 were correct

Looking forward to next week.

Diana, Waiting for next week

Bob Kerfuffle 10:28 PM  

@Joshua - a comic strip.

Joshua 11:24 PM  

@Bob Kerfuffle: Thanks!

kathy of the tower 12:23 AM  

Regarding the discussion about feminism and PC, I just watched Confirmation on HBO. It's about the Clarence Thomas and Anita Hill hearings. I was young and much less cynical then and was simply astonished that no one believed her and that he was confirmed at the time. Progress is mighty slow.
I read House of the Seven Gables before a trip out East. Book started awfully slow, but the chickens come home to roost. I love stories where people eventually get their just desserts. I toured the house and it was pretty interesting.
I had to work a bit but finished without a Google, only one husband help

Bach Beethoven Bartok Bird 3:47 AM  

great puzzle! Loved the clues and the fill. and I learned BOX SOCIAL.
Too easy for Saturday. Did it with a typical Friday time. I liked the TYPECAST clue: [Not having many different parts?]
BTW, could we get riskier, stranger, weirder, more experimental Thursday crosswords? Seems like they've become too tame/predictable. It's good to be confused.

Bradford Caslon 12:28 PM  

Amen. Clue stunk for THATSWHATSUP.

Longbeachlee 5:15 PM  

Eeep! is uh oh? I thought this was the English language edition of the Times? Did anyone not get this from the crosses?

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