Green person for short / WED 4-13-16 / Dogie-bagging rope / Oil dispenser on Food Network show / Comic srip featuring Satchel Pooch Bucky Katt / Knights villainous group in Force Awakens

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Constructor: Tony Orbach

Relative difficulty: Challenging (for a Wed.)

THEME: ET SEQ (45D: Bibliographical abbr.)—this isn't the theme, but it's close. The "ET" sound follows ... a familiar phrase, to make a new, wacky phrase, clued wackily ("?"-style):

Theme answers:
  • TELEVISION CRUET (17A: Oil dispenser on a Food Network show?)
  • MOUNTAIN DUET (28A: Genre for "Dueling Banjos"?)
  • VANITY FERRET (46A: Weasellike animal kept as a fashion accessory?)
  • MAGAZINE RACQUET (60A: Equipment endorsed by Inside Tennis?)
Word of the Day: "GET FUZZY" (39D: Comic strip featuring Satchel Pooch and Bucky Katt) —
Get Fuzzy is an American comic strip written and drawn by Darby Conley. The strip features the adventures of Boston advertising executive Rob Wilco and his two anthropomorphic pets, a dog named Satchel Pooch and a cat called Bucky Katt. Get Fuzzy has been published by United Feature Syndicate since September 6, 1999. It appears in over 700 newspapers worldwide. (wikipedia)
• • •

Yikes. Outside my wheelhouse, For Sure. I've never heard of Kate WALSH (never watched one second of "Grey's Anatomy") (3D: Actress Kate of "Grey's Anatomy") and, despite teaching a course on Comics, I've never heard of "GET FUZZY." Like, ever. Well, maybe that's not true—I was able to put it together from "GET F----," so it must've been in there somewhere, but that strip is not in our paper and even looking at it now it is Not familiar. Also, I saw "The Force Awakens," but it did not register that there were "Knights of REN" or that they were a villainous group" in that movie. Kylo-REN ... I remember. But somehow I just thought of that REN as a patronymic or suffix or something. A whole group? Again, yikes. So many proper nouns, so many of them beyond me. I know the phrase "lay into." I do not know the phrase "LACE INTO" (9D: Give an earful). Since SEED (12D: Sow) and CDS (22A: Ones put on the rack?) were both clued tough, I had a very hard time picking up CRUET, and even when I did, I could not see the theme / wordplay. Only after getting MOUNTAIN DUET did I notice what was going on (and thus understand that "television crew" was the base phrase in that first themer). Theme feels really loose, and without a good revealer ... I don't know. Loose. That's all I got. Not tight. Seems like you could do this theme all day long (DEER TICKET, BE A PALLET, etc.), though the actual themers all involve respellings of the original (base phrase) words as well as the added -ET, so maybe the theme's tighter than I imagine. But then again, you've got a problem with DUET—it's an outlier because the "-ET" actually gets the stress (i.e it's not DOO-et, it's doo-ET), where the other -ETs are unstressed. So maybe, once again, the theme is too loose.


Only one of the themers (VANITY FERRET) really made me te(e)hee. There is some lively fill here and there. SCHERZO, for instance—that's lively, I hear (23A: Lively movement). Not sure how I feel about ENVIRO crossing ETHNO. Those are two prefixes. I see ENVIRO is trying to pass as a stand-alone word, but I believe that about as much as I believe ARISTO is a stand-alone word, i.e. not much. The clue on WANDS is so hard! (68A: They may be waved at concerts). I assume these are the metal detector WANDS they might "wave" over you as you enter to make sure you're not packing? I can't imagine what other WANDS could be at issue. Well, whether it's security WANDS or some other WANDS I don't understand: hard [UPDATE: so ... everyone says it's conductors that wave WANDS. I'm sure this is right, but I am also sure this is wrong. Conductors. Wave. Batons. They aren't. Bleeping. Magicians. Thank you.]. [And now younger people are insisting it's these WANDS ...

... and professional conductors are telling me WANDS is b.s. as a substitute for "baton" so ... I remain #teamsecuritywand. You can vote for whatever you want. Takeaway here: this clue is terrible.] [Final update, I swear: Amy Reynaldo tells me the WANDS clue was not Tony's—he had a Harry Potter clue. Constructor, exonerated.]

ERUCT is giving me minor indigestion. Or maybe that's the coffee milkshake I had for dessert. Either way, I think I'll just sleep on this one and hope for something sweeter and more soothing come Thursday.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


jae 12:07 AM  

Medium-tough again for me. The NW corner was packed with PPPs and was the last section I took me a while to remember WALSH. I stopped watching the show right after George got hit by a bus, talk about "jumping the shark".

Interesting that VANITY FERRET crosses GET FUZZY as FERRETs are characters in the strip.

@Rex My take on WANDS was conductors at music concerts.

Fun Wed. with some crunch, liked it.

George Barany 12:17 AM  

With all due respect to @Tony Orbach, a fellow Stuyvesantian (though later than me), this puzzle didn't quite hit all its marks. The northwest region -- just too hard. GAEA has a variant spelling GAIA, and that made LEAVE impossible to FERRET out. Is it fair to use the word "rack" in the tricky clue for CDS, given the theme answer at 69-Across? Is ERUCT a word we really want to see in our crossword?

Now in fairness to @Tony, his comments over at indicate that not all of the clues are his. But I do hope he gets full credit for the 29-Down clue. TORRE is the correct answer, but absent crossing letters, BERRA works too. Bravo!

Da Bears 12:25 AM  

Oh, Rex, you know conductors use wands at concerts.

Marcy 12:29 AM  

Although it may be "sort of" listed as a 5th or 6th place definition, in no way would I ever consider a vanity to be a fashion accessory! Also - unlike Rex - I thought the wand (68A) referred to the light sticks people wave at concerts. Thought this was ridiculously difficult for a Wed.

Anonymous 12:31 AM  

Gee, thanks for the trivia quiz, Tony. Yeah, you put it in a grid but we still noticed. DO you think Shortz will give me my money back?

Kinyak 1:10 AM  

I didn't even get the theme until I came here because apparently I've been mispronouncing CRUET (in my head; I've never said it aloud) my whole life. And I got VANITY FERRET and MAGAZINE RAQUET first and therefore thought all the theme answers would be magazine titles, with MAGAZINE RAQUET some kind of reveal. Sigh. Thanks for explaining the WANDS. LACE INTO is new to me, as well. Being New Mexican, I tried TEWA and TIWA before ZUNI, and I wanted SNEAKED instead of SNUCK.

David Krost 1:18 AM  

I think for wands waved at concerts he was going for a conductor's baton, but if so it is weak.

Anonymous 1:18 AM  

Conductors' wands?

Whitey 1:26 AM  

Not my favorite. DNF. There have been Friday puzzles easier than this.
Didn't like ENVIRO.

Kakashi 1:36 AM  

I think WANDS means a conductor's baton Maybe?

dmw 1:46 AM  

I got this, after much work, but had much the same sentiment as Rex: Yikes, this is a Wednesday? I'm doomed for the week.

Anonymous 2:04 AM  

A conductor's wand maybe?

Anonymous 2:06 AM  

eruct! need one say more?

chefwen 3:08 AM  

This has probably been mentioned, but I think the WANDS might be those little light sticks they hand out for people to wave around. At first I had hANDS which is another thing fans wave to and fro. That's about annoying to me as those little heart signs people make with their hands. ICK!

Took a long time for me to grasp the theme, MOUNTAIN DUET was my wake up moment. VANITY FERRET was my absolute favorite.

Tricky, tricky clues in quite a few places. Liked it a lot.

Loren Muse Smith 4:37 AM  

Hah! Talk about your basic alien invasion. Cool. I know it's "out there" that Will is tiring of these add-letter themes, but they never fail to amuse me. I agree that VANITY FERRET was the funniest.

I can't be the only one to plop down "LA Law," right? That goof made my northwest a mess for a while.

I also had "erupt" for the burp clue, so I had a dnf since I've managed not to commit CGI to memory. Oh, and I put in "macho" before MANLY.

I knew GET FUZZY because I had a prisoner student who loved that comic strip. SHOE is a comic strip, too.

I was going "nosh/hand" first there for GNAW/WAND, and I then I figured that the conductor waved a WAND at a concert. I guess you're right, Rex, and what I'm thinking of is actually a "baton." Oh well – I got it anyway.

Choosing themers whose final word changes spelling but keeps the same pronunciation really took this up a notch, imo, and it had to have been a lot harder to find possibilities. (So no FOUL BALLET.). I'm not sure you really could do this theme all day long, not this way.

Fun puzzle, Tony. And the sign of a great theme for me – I'll be chewing on this all day trying to think of some others. Thanks!

rachelrauch 4:44 AM  

I struggled with this one too! My first thought on WANDS was also of the security variety, but maybe they were going for conductors' batons? Either way, I don't generally think of "wands" in association with concerts, but I'm a big Star Wars fan so the cross with knights of REN helped me out there. I also had similar feelings about ENVIRO. I don't buy it as a word, or as a thing I've ever heard or seen in print in reference to "green" or eco folks. Overall I had mixed feelings about this puzzle--I like that it was a bit more challenging than I was expecting, but some of the fill wasn't as much fun as I would've liked it to be. Still enjoyed it overall though!

Not relevant to today, but something that's been on my mind is how funny it is to me that rapper NAS is becoming modern-day crosswordese....I wonder if anyone's told him?

manitou 5:40 AM  

conductors wave wands

manitou 5:41 AM  

conductors wave wands

Lorraine 6:23 AM  

Conductors' WANDS at a classical music concert. Although usually there is only one conductor, so...

Abby Friedman 6:23 AM  

I think the "wands" that might gave waved are possibly the conductor's? but I don't like calling a baton a wand. Maybe it's glow sticks? but again, it's not a 90s rave all up in here, so...

Anonymous 6:39 AM  

Conductor's wand.

JayWalker 6:40 AM  

I totally agree with your rating. I was stumped mostly because I was vastly underrating the toughness of the entire puzzle. Many "aliens" for me too - but I finally got them all - and I'm not sure how. Found the SW corner the toughest for me but wound up loving it the most. The wands (69A) that he's referring to are those flexible, glow-in-the-dark wands that are now a "must" at rock concerts. Way out of my wheelhouse too, but I read a lot. Wanted Hopi for Zuni (24D), and got Uggs (58A) from the ether, but loved plotz (64A) most of all. A really tough Wednesday, but a really fun one too!!

Anonymous 6:52 AM  

I had a typo on OATS --- OATA --- which left me with --A for "Ones you put on a rack?" Seemed obvious, but too racy for the NYT. And it was.

optionsgeek 6:56 AM  

@Rex, Those things shaken rhythmically at the orchestra are known to some as WANDS, I believe.

Aketi 7:08 AM  

I love SHOES, but I think UGGS are UGLY. I love crossword puzzles, but I'm waiting for other commenters to change my mind about this one, The FERRET took away an opportinty tor M&A to have another U before the the ET.

TheMonkeysEyebrows 7:29 AM  

The wand in 65A is a conductor's wand.

Anonymous 7:33 AM  

PLOTZ, really? Raise your hand if you put EMOTE there first, especially if all you had was the O! I also never heard of LACE INTO. The closest I've heard to that would be LAYS INTO. I did like the theme clues. VANITY FERRET was where it clicked. Also, I think the WAnDS referred to may be those "glow sticks" that no raver would have been caught without during a certain period of time, maybe in the 90s, but thereafter were mainly seen carried by children at night in amusement parks.

Anonymous 7:38 AM  

I took WANDS to mean the stick in a conductor's hand, but even still, more commonly referred to as a baton.

And if you got VANITY FERRET and MAGAZINE RACQUET as the first two themes clues, as I did, you probably spent an inordinate amount of time RACKing your brain trying to figure out the magazine title tie-in of the other two, to no avail.

Anonymous 7:43 AM  

Thanks Rex. For once your crabby comments hit home for me. I was ready to concede that I was too old for those particular proper names, but was happy to hear that you, too, had problems with Get Fuzzy, Kate Walsh and Ren (all achieved with effort through crosses).
Et seq is good, but why not signal that it was significant?

NCA President 7:44 AM  

Definitely challenging for me. I think it was the abundance of proper nouns I didn't know or remember: (HOSNI, which I can never remember but know that it's odd, GAEA, and ANN--not Cod), coupled with interesting cluing (-trix = ENNE, bald headed babies = AERIE, Hairy chested =/= MAcho, but MANLY) and just generally not-in-my-wheelhouse predictability.

I got WANDS but making myself believe they are glowsticks that people wave at concerts during power ballads. If that isn't what it is, it should be.

I had hopI before ZUNI, elsA before NALA, mocS before UGGS, riata before LASSO, and the aforementioned MAcho before MANLY. All of those misdirects made things difficult.

Annette 7:54 AM  

What @Rex said, but that WANDS are conductors' wands, harking back to SCHERZO. Boo to final prepositions LEANING ON, SNUCK UP ON. Not a happy slog.


Anonymous 8:12 AM  

Baton, a wand used by a conductor, Webster's dictionary.

L 8:13 AM  

This was ridiculously hard for a wednesday. Being unfamiliar with et seq, the 3 hole thing was a bust. This is a bit arcane for a mid-week theme, no?

Aaron 8:13 AM  

I'm with you, Rex: tough Wednesday.

I think orchestra conductors wave wands at concerts.

Lewis 8:22 AM  

@rex - You've probably got many replies on the "wands", but anyway, I think it is a conductor's wand.

I liked the grit, and I liked the clues for AERIE, TIPSY, and WANDS. Just to show what's hidden in the brain, I plopped PLOTZ right down despite not knowing what it or verklempt means -- this comes from conversations from the elders in my youth. Also, is AM/PM a thing?

Tough Wednesday. Shook up the neural cobwebs, and that's a good feeling.

Z 8:24 AM  

GET FUZZY has followed into Sunday only land, so I don't read it like I used to, but a funny strip. I always felt as if Conley caught the true essence of cats. If you say, "Wait, Z, I see a new comic every day at Go Comics," I will point out that those daily comics are all from 2008. You can find the original run date in the small print between panels.

Pretty much what Rex said, except I had to piece together TELEVISION CRUET from the crosses at the end. Missing the tense at 11D didn't help. My only other writeover was hopI to ZUNI. I have heard ENVIRO used derisively by the CGD types, NATCH, it's a word, but not common.

PPP Analysis
Pop Culture, Product Names, and Proper Nouns as a percentage of answers. 33% or more and the puzzle will be unfair to some subset of solvers

25/76, 33%
Unlike yesterday, where the PPP was loaded up in the top across answers, today 17 of the 25 PPP answers are in the down answers, especially through the middle clues. Of the 11 clues from 24D to 39D eight are PPP. Toss in GIORGIO and FRAN in the acrosses and you have an UGLY UGGS Love Fest.

The List (* means it's the clue):

MOUNTAIN DUET (both the base phrase and clue have PPP elements)
FRAN Drescher
Cape ANN

Brooklyn HTS



Hungry Mother 8:31 AM  

I always expect a struggle on Wednesday, so today was no surprise. Got the theme early and stuck to my guns on CGI to get the perp.

kithsef 8:33 AM  

Really fun puzzle with tough cluing and a cute theme.

The week so far: Monday - challenging; Tuesday - challenging; Wednesday - challenging. Almost Naticked at NALA/ANN. Never heard of either one but the N seemed like the best bet. Top left the intersections of BTW/WALSH/SCHERZO/BATHS were very tough. Never heard of WALSH. Heard of SCHERZO but no idea what it meant. Was looking for something in Latin for the Roman place. And I don't do textspeak.

Hand up for LACEINTO being new. hopI before ZUNE, aNtis before ENEMY, nosh before GNAW, sES before TES, UNeV before UNLV, fALA before NALA. So my paper looks a complete mess, but a satisfying mess.

Tim 8:34 AM  

At classical concerts, conductors wave their WANDS to direct the orchestra. That clue was super hard but very elegantly done!

The Knights of REN were indeed a group that was mentioned by name in The Force Awakens, but only on one or two occasions. Blink and you'll miss it. And yes, I think we're supposed to assume that's why Ben Solo took the name "Kylo Ren."

I have a problem with 6D: "Brooklyn ___, N.Y." I grew up in Brooklyn. I lived in Boerum Hill and went to school for eight years in Brooklyn Heights. I never, ever, ever, ever, ever once recall seeing it abbreviated Brooklyn HTS. No bueno.

Other clues that I gave the side-eye at: ENVIRO (is that actually a thing?), LACE INTO, ET SEQ. Though now that you point it out, I see that ET SEQ is a bit of a sly reveal. That's cute -- I just wish it had been called out explicitly.

Loved the misdirection on WANDS ("They may be waved at concerts") and AGENT ("Big player on draft day").

Jim 8:45 AM  

I hated Tuesday and abhorred this. No one save ENVIRO any more, Kate WALSH had her own show for more years than she was on Grey's, WANDS as clued is nonsense, NAE again! Seriously? Apparently LACE INTO was used in the early 1900s but not any more. The clues that were reasonable were similarly awful (OHOH, NATCH, INRE, AMPM, HTS). Yuck.

ken 9:03 AM  


So...Is suffering from gas Eructile Dysfunction

jerry k 9:13 AM  

Player manager. Let's skip Berra but let's go Mets. Nice little test to kick off a Wednesday.

Anonymous 9:20 AM  

Wow! This easily breaks all records for difficulty. I had exactly four correct entries before I gave up. Most Friday's and even Saturday's, I do better than that. Then there are these obscuretrivia. I guess the theme is cute but clearly I was not on the same wavelength as Mr. Orbach. That's all I am going to say.

Anonymous 9:26 AM  

A FERRET isn't "weasellike" any more than a domestic cat is "catlike". A ferret is a weasel.

With very rare exceptions (cf. Eli Manning / Philip Rivers), AGENTS do absolutely nothing on draft day except for thanking/cursing the fates based the fact that their client was drafted/not drafted as highly as they would have liked. As most leagues have rookie pay scales for 2-3 years, they also do nothing for that time period after the draft.

Roo Monster 9:38 AM  

Hey All !
This puz skews a bit on the years-ago-scale. RISK, FRAN, THE OC, WALSH,SDI, NALA, just sayin.

Bad news front, dropped my phone last night on kitchen floor, yep, cracked screen. :-( But still able to use... Guess that would be the Good news front...

DNF here, as MAGAZINE RAQUET wouldn't come into view. Also had SNeaKUP for SNUCKUP, correct SEED changed to SEwn, because obviously don't know how to spell CRUET, had CREWT. :-)

Not a terrible theme, but seems more of a TuesPuz type theme than for a Wednesday. How many immediately put cod in for ANN? 97%? Don't think I've heard ERUCT before, even though I Burp all the time!

J and X from a pangram. But had aforementioned ERUCT, and PLOTZ.
UGGS are UGLY. Comfy, but UGLY.

INRE: ERUCT! Thank you.

Nancy 9:40 AM  

I never heard the expression "hit the bricks" (it sort of sounded like STALL to me) and I hadn't a clue what a "car registration fig" was, so I naticked at that intersection. Nor did it help that I had UNEV instead of UNLV (huhhh?) at 33D. So that I had EIA - E for "hit the bricks." (I also misspelled GAiA). DNF.

I don't like LACE INTO for "give an earful". I can give you quite an earful on my aches and pains, without LACing INTO you at all.

I pronounce the first E in FERRET like "met", not like "fair". So 46A made no sense to me.

I saw The Lion King, but didn't remember NALA. Yesterday ASLAN. Today NALA. We are simply lousy with lions this week, aren't we?

Nice and hard, yes, but I didn't like all the TV shows, nor all the pop initials and ridiculous abbreviations. ENVIRO??? Please!

And is it more important for the educated person to know HOSNI Mubarak than THE OC or Knights of REN. Yes, I certainly would say so. There's only room for so much INFO in the brain, after all.

Wm. C. 9:41 AM  

Plotz??? Never heard of it, nor Verklempt. Bad for a Wednesday, maybe a Saturday?

"Wands" could be Conductor Batons, I guess, but I'm with the Glo-Sticks crowd above.

BTW, @Marcy -- it's not "Vanity" that's a Fashion Accessory; it's a "Ferret." You know, a ferret is a little weasel-like animal. Women's used to drape dead animals like this around their shoulders and neck as a fashion accessory, and I guess this could (remotely?) be thought of as an act of "vanity." As I now think about it, though, it seems like more of a -- WOE??? There's no explaining styles, I guess.

Tita A 9:42 AM  

Major DNF! I thought for sure the PPP was going to be about 44%.

I always thought PLOTZ meant to drop dead, so I got to learn that.

FERRET doesn't sound like's the outlier in needing a pronunciation change.

Maybe because I am rushed on this one, is why I am not looking past the tons of PPPs. Oh...and the fact that I made every mistake I was supposed to make...ERUpT, , UNeV, yes for AHA, maGI, cod for ANN, beRRa, herA...
Oh veh!

That is a great clue on AERIE...

Hartley70 9:47 AM  

This was a crazy hard Wednesday. I had to run the alphabet for the C in ERUCT/CGI and the clue for DENSELY made no sense to me so I had trouble with the S in the ETSEQ/DENSELY cross.

I had no trouble with LACEINTO and use that myself frequently. PLOTZ was fun. I didn't know if WAND referred to baton or glow stick, waffled a bit, and decided I didn't care.

On reflection, the cluing was tougher than usual for me and it was the PPP count that greased the wheels....WALSH/HOSNI, UGGS/SEGA, GIORGIO/TORRE/ FRAN and NCIS. GETFUZZY is a complete unknown since I haven't personally subscribed to a paper with "funnies" since..... well never. My parents got the Sunday Providence Journal when I was a kid and I would lie on the floor on my stomach and read them front to back before I transferred them onto my Silly Putty. Those were the days.

Steve M 9:54 AM  

Had to rootle with this for a bit but got it done.....

Anonymous 9:59 AM  

Shoe for brake plate? Not even close.

mac 10:02 AM  

Tough Wednesday, alright! Gaia made that area tough, and I also left in "erupt".

I loved the combination verklempt and plotz! Plus the clue/answer Green person/enviro!

Sir Hillary 10:07 AM  

Mixed feelings on this one. I didn't really enjoy it while solving, which I suppose is an indictment. The theme felt too basic, and like @Rex, I was imagining so many possibilities that this might be better suited for a Sunday.

On the other hand, until reading @Rex's review, I didn't notice the altered spelling of each base phrase. That's actually quite cool. And the fill grows on me the more I look at it in hindsight.

-- I have never heard a conductor's baton referred to as a WAND, but if the classical music aficionados here say WAND is okay, that's enough for me.
-- On the other hand, I got SCHERZO off just the first three letters. Guess I have enough classical CDS to at least know the term, although I had no idea it connotes liveliness.
-- I like the same-clue, consecutive AHA and NATCH.
-- I grew up in THEOC, but not the part the show showed.
-- Liked "Sow/sown" in consecutive clues.
-- As others have noted, too bad that symmetrical long downs both end with the same dangling preposition.
-- Seems like more abbrs. than usual -- BTW, CDS, OPP (ugh!), CGI, UNLV, AMPM, VIN, ATL, HTS, NCIS, APR, SDI, ETSEQ. Hmm, maybe the fill isn't growing on me as much as I thought.
-- Write-over #1: beRRa for TORRE. Stupid, because by the time YOGI got to the Mets, he was long retired so couldn't be a player-manager.
-- Write-over #2: oNor for INRE. Also stupid, because I misread the clue as a partial preceding "About" despite there being zero evidence to that effect.
-- Write-over #3: emOTe for PLOTZ. Not apologizing for this one -- still have no clue what PLOTZ is or means. I will look it up.
-- Love the word "verklempt" though -- it always brings to mind Mike Myers' portrayal of the Streisand-worshiping "Coffee Talk" (kwawfee tawk) hostess Linda Richman, based on his former mother-in-law.

Ludyjynn 10:09 AM  

A big fat DNF after such a promising beginning. The midwest did me in; I would not let go of 'moon' at the start of 28Across because of recalling one of the most gratuitously disgusting movie scenes I ever witnessed in that dreadful film (you know the one), and had 'Hopi' instead of ZUNI as well as 'Berra' vs. TORRE. UGLY mess. Not to mention the ERUCT misdirect. Oy, I could just PLOTZ!

Speaking of which, has Shortz ever published a puzz. exclusively using Yiddish? Calling FRAN Drescher, who liberally sprinkled "The Nanny" scripts w/ such expressions. Could be a fun solve for some of us, at least.

Thanks, TO and WS, for a half fun and half grueling midweeker.

Bob Kerfuffle 10:14 AM  

Challenging indeed, but a great puzzle, IMHO, although I Did Not Finish, due to a peculiar brain freeze. At 45 D, I entered ET SEC, even though, yes, I would claim to know better. Blame it on listening to the radio while solving, or whatever, but once it was in, I never questioned it. Combine that with the fact that although I saw the Star Wars movie, I had no idea about REN (don't you mean, " Stimpy's pal"?), and I couldn't see my way out of that hole.

Just to give a little kick to the political hornet's nest: I recognized GET FUZZY after a few crosses, but I haven't read any comics since my local paper endorsed Chris Christie for re-election and I cancelled my subscription.

Anonymous 10:17 AM  

Is today thurs or fri? Too damn hard for wed. Thought they'd all end uet. Had nosh hands and just caved.

Ellen S 10:22 AM  

UNLV = University of Nevada at Las Vegas. Same principle as UCLA. You've all heard of UCLA.

I thought this was fun. Loved VANITY FERRET (hate the idea of draping dead animals over your shoulders, though; but I've tried it - unsuccessfully -- with live cats).

Got PLOTZ off the O.

John V 10:32 AM  

DNF. Alas, I rarely connectg with Tony's grids.

Not real sure about clue for SCHERTZO. Lively movement fits better with ALLEGRO, which is what I first wrote in. I'd want something more along the lines of JOKEY MOVEMENT, as that is in line with its Italian definition -- but not on a Wednesday.

Not sure how hard this was, just more sui generis, I suppose.

Joseph Michael 10:32 AM  


Translation: I hated this puzzle.

Nancy 10:33 AM  

'@Tita (9:42) FERRET wasn't supposed to sound like FUR-et. It was supposed to sound like Vanity Fair magazine, so FAIR-et. As I said in my previous post (9:40), it doesn't sound like that, either. I pronounce the first E as in "met". Would imagine you do, too.

Mohair Sam 10:33 AM  

Happy Friday everyone.

As far from our wheelhouse as a rapper-free puzzle can get. Would've naticked on CGI and the new-to-us ERUCT this morning but read a few reviews on "The Jungle Book" last night and CGI was mentioned many times - Otherwise would have gone with ERUpT/pGI.

Had GEORGIO so guessed the more famous GARFIELD at 39d, and know GAiA not GAEA hence LEAVE took forever to fill - so that section held us up forever. REN, PLOTZ, WALSH, ZUNE, NORI, and ASGARD all new to us. Discovered I've been misspelling DENSELY all my life.

Middle son worked for a tennis shop in Syracuse years ago called RACQUETeers. Great name.

Only complaints about the puzzle: SNUCK ain't a word in my book, and Will ran it two days too early. Tough puzz, cuz - I'll send Tony Orbach a letter describing my sweet spot and he can construct to that next time.

Chaos344 10:40 AM  

What Rex said, for the most part. Had some of the same problems he did. Didn't know WALSH, REN or GETFUZZY. Was unfamiliar with SCHERZO, ETSEQ and ENVIRO. I call hardcore "green people" (Snail Darter types) ECONUTS. Maybe E-Coconuts is more PC? Couldn't remember the definition of VERKLEMPT. Got all of the above with help from the crosses.

Thought of those green glow sticks immediately, so threw in WANDS. In retrospect, being that Tony Orbach is an older constructor, he was probably cluing for conductor's batons? That question seems to be the controversy du jour?

I guessed 39D off the FU_ _Y, and was familiar with the bodily function known as ERUCTION. That helped me suss out 60A, even though I was missing the Q and the R. Was the "little purple pill" (NEXIUM) invented for people who suffer from ERUCTILE DYSFUNCTION? Inquiring minds want to know.

Laughed my ass off at VANITY FERRET! It reminded me of Paris Hilton and all the other Hollywood bimbos who carry toy dogs as fashion accessories.

In conclusion I enjoyed this puzzle, although it was a tad on the tough side for a Wednesday. The PPP count was borderline, but the crosses were mostly fair in regard to potential Naticks.

@Chuck McGregor: Regarding yesterday's late post. I'm familiar with the pier you were moored at. It was in an area that used to be called Goss Cove. The NCO parking lot was there. I think it's part of Nautilus Park now. Thanks for the SitRep on the USS Gearing and her mission.

@Ludyjynn: Re: yesterday's post. LMAO! Sex or eating lobster? Like you said, it mostly depends on the individuals involved, but a bib can come in handy for both activities!

Hartley70 10:42 AM  

@SteveM, thanks for the chuckle!

Z 11:02 AM  

Regarding VANITY FERRET, the verb in the clue is "kept" not "wore." One doesn't keep, own, a FERRET because they make great pets. One owns a FERRET as an act of VANITY, according to the clue. I cannot say I disagree.

Wand can be used informally to mean a conductor's baton. Who knew? Not me. (Definition 1.3)

In my first post I didn't do my format tag correctly, so you need to stick "Foxtrot" after "followed" for my first sentence to read as I intended.

nick 11:04 AM  

If Kate Walsh gets to be in the puzzle, and with multiple baseball clues throughout, I propose that 41D, instead of a drab partial, be VIN Scully, who called the first game of his final Dodgers season yesterday, and who just had a street named after him.

nick 11:06 AM  

Sorry -- 43D, not 41D.

lg 11:15 AM  

Medium-hard due to the misdirection clues. I have no problem with WAND, as essentially a conductor's baton is indeed a WAND (shape, form and use). My problems are with LACE INTO (LAsh INTO sure, not LACE), ERUCT (very seldom used) and the spelling of RACQUET over RACket (the latter is the preferred spelling for tennis, but doesn't fit). PLOTZ is a new one for me as well.

Anonymous 11:24 AM  

No conductor or musician has EVER referred to the baton as a wand.

Laurie 11:46 AM  

No opinions on "snuck"?

Masked and Anonymous 11:54 AM  

har. This WedPuz will always be epic-ly memorable for the M&A, due to 46-A. Not for the themer answer that's there, but for the answer that PuzEatinSpouse immediately wrote in, and stubbornly refused to change, as things unfolded …
Clue: {Weasellike animal kept as a fashion accessory?}.

This inspired m&e to of course think of an extra themer: IVANATRUMPET. Suggested clue: {Little Melania's Christmas wish??}.

Always luv them "black hole" clues. Wanted TIGHTLY, at first, there at 50-A.

This puz had a lotta tricky short stuff in it, with occasional gentle wafts of desperation cense. Fun and feisty solve. I have heard of that GETFUZZY strip, but not sure I've ever laid eye one on it, let alone recognize any of its character names. ETHNO/ENVIRO/SCHERZO/(ZUNI)/GIORGIO = black hole from which no precious nanoseconds could escape. Wanted ENVIER, for ENVIRO. Spouse pointed out the "for short" part of clue, snarled, and erased ENVIER. Wrong again, M&A breath.

Partial payback: Later M&A got to correct her Joe TORRO answer, tho.


Masked & Anonymo6Us

biter, snarler, and yard soiler

old timer 11:59 AM  

I thought yesterday's puzzle was harder, really, CRUET was an easy guess for an oil container, therefore TELEVISION was suggested by the few Downs I had there, and that meant each themer would end in ET. Which helped a lot later on. For a while I had STL (St Louis Cardinals) instead of ATL (Atlanta Braves) so it took a little time to come up with MAGAZINE before RACQUET.

My big mistake: Writing in "allegro" instead of SCHERZO.

SEGA was the one word I looked up, and that was after the puzzle was all filled in. And I took WANDS on faith, at first, then remembered those wands they sometimes pass out at concerts. I suppose Orbach was thinking of music conductors, but I too have only seen and heard the conductor's WAND as a "baton".

Masked and Anonymous 12:06 PM  

This here grid was a regular preposition perp: UP, ON, IN, TO, ON again, OFF, IN again. Also got yer AND & ET. And NOR I. And OR BACH.

ET SEQ makes a dandy GETtinFUZZY revealer, too boot.

Still sayin: ASGARD, har. {French for "cover yer ass", for short??}.


Went to "10 Cloverfield Lane" flick yesterday. Highly recommended, to the schlock movie completist.

Roo Monster 12:20 PM  

Throwin some Random Nonsense at ya:
Abbr. for alien equal rights? ET'S EQ.
Also not wanting to eat seaweed at a sushi bar? NOR I NORI
Rube accusation?: "You be ___ troubles, son" IN FO
Rube answer?: "___ know" YET I'S
Very last spot? PLOT Z

And, what's with 8D, it's not OHOH, it's OOH OOH, no?


Tim 12:20 PM  

Just curious....Wasn't Yogi Berra a player/manager, too? That was my first answer, not Torre.

Anonymous 12:26 PM  

They use the word wand for baton in England-- but as a conductor, I still think it's a lame choice. And, yah, DEFINITELY too hard for a Wednesday.

Penna Resident 12:28 PM  

while RACQUET is used, especially in club names, and sometimes by me, racket is actually the tennis term. equipment can refer to a plural or singular noun, so RACKets produces havoc in the SE even though it gives a real word for 51D.

GILL I. 12:37 PM  

How can you politely say how much you disliked something a nice person created without sounding like a FERRET? I am a FERRET. I haven't uGGed this much in a long time.
I finished it because that's what I do when I pay for a puzzle. Maybe I'll put a Sunday down for good but not Mo-Sat. NOSIREE. The theme answers, while cute, don't make any sense. TELEVISION CRUET? I get the conceit and all that, but really? Why? NAE for moi and damn, it's always Gaia and dang, don't you Hit the road? If I hit the bricks, I'd be ERUCTing all day long and I'd sure as hell find a place to get TIPSY.
Not my cuppa today....

jberg 12:43 PM  

I liked this puzzle, mostly. At least, once I realized that the trix alternative was ENNE and not EttE, which would have been wrong (I didn't notice the same problem with ET SEQ until reading Rex). The theme was neat, and I figured everything out eventually, so fine.

Lots of misdirections -- somebody must have put in Cod before ANN, ton before TES, along with all the others mentioned. (I caught myself just in time on the latter).

I'm with the glow-sticks crowd on the wands; it's a funny debate to have since it doesn't affect the puzzle.

The one thing I didn't like was the bald-headed babies clue. It's just wrong -- bald eagles aren't bald, they're just called that because of their white heads. "bald babies" would have been fine.

Joe Bleaux 12:57 PM  

DRUM roll, please😉

Teedmn 1:24 PM  

I can't agree with those who didn't like this puzzle. I found it very challenging for a Wednesday, but I liked the theme and fun things like GET FUZZY made up for OPP, ETSEQ, UNLV and all that dreck.

Though like @Z, I don't read GET FUZZY as closely as I once did. It has been in reruns for years and I'm beginning to remember strips from previous sightings so they must be on their third go-round or more. Not as many decades of material as Peanuts or For Better or Worse.

I had to laugh at the very idea of packing a black hole into anything so DENSELY gave me a laugh as did bald-headed babies in AERIEs. This puzzle just SNUCK UP ON me. Thanks, Mr. Orbach.

Aketi 1:25 PM  

@m@a, your PuzEatin'Spouse made my day.
@jberg, doesn't even look like eagle babies are bald.

puzzle hoarder 1:30 PM  

I've said before that Wednesdays can be outliers and this was a perfect example. Today's 37 minutes doesn't even make it the worst I've seen. The NW was the last section to go in and could have accounted for a third of the time. BTW has appeared 12 times but "yeah" has appeared in the clues only twice and I don't associate it with the answer very well. SHERZO was tough for me to come up with. WALSH counts as a debut. She's never appeared in a puzzle under her first or last name. I knew the TV show was The O something but it took awhile to come up with the C and I've visited the county frequently. BATHS is one of those things that hide in plain sight. I racked my brain for an word similar to agora for a long time. ETSEQ must be the uncredited reveal as it can be translated as "that which follows." The phrases in this puzzle also deserve credit for the overall difficulty. None of them have appeared more than twice before and SNUCKUPON made it's debut. Even a three character entry was a debut by it's cluing. REN has been used 124 times before but never as a Star Wars reference and BTW I've never seen one of those movies. Some write overs were BERRA/TORRE,HOPI/ZUNI,and LAIRD/LEIGE/LIEGE. It we as a good puzzle and I really had to work today come away with a clean grid.

Steve Haner 1:37 PM  

Never heard of the comic strip "Get Fuzzy" and left it as "Get Duzzy" with the 49 Across answer to the clue "Dope" as "indo" referenced in the song "Gin and Juice" by Snoop Dogg. Agree that this puzzle, while I can proudly say I managed to finish, was challenging for a Wednesday.

Blue Stater 1:52 PM  

I'm not at all surprised to learn that the WANDS clue was not the constructor's. More weird and inaccurate cluing introduced by the editor. This is what I have in mind when I object to criticism of the late Eugene Maleska. Maleska would *never* have allowed junk like this in his puzzles at all, let alone introduced it. As Rex has pointed out in detail, this puzzle is just way, way, way over the top. We deserve better than this.

ArtO 1:58 PM  

Way too tough in both the cluing and answers, per all the comments heretofore made, for a Wednesday.

No way is WAND a substitute for baton, it must refer to something waved at a non-classical concert..

oldbizmark 2:21 PM  

WTF is up with the puzzles this week? Three DNFs. Many proper names and terrible clues. Back to the drawing board, Will. NATCH?! Really?!

Masked and Anonymous 2:47 PM  

It's clearly Official M&A dictionary definition time:


• informal a conductor's baton.

So … it all comes down to whether U go formal or informal, on yer wand. Kinda hard to tell which, tho, if
U have it out & are wavin the lil sucker around at a concert.

M&A Help Desk

Dick Swart 2:52 PM  

Hard work for a Wednesday! I got the the east side fairly quickly ... enough to see the end words of the themes from the clues. But not that 'et' was dropped. Had to work for the west side until the penny droppet.

"Hit the bricks" comes from when sidewalks were made from brick. When you went outside you
"H blahblah".

"lace into" ... an old guy expression. At least I an old guy have used it.

Also, light into. Attack, assail, as in He laced into me for arriving late, or She lit into him for forgetting the tickets. The first of these colloquial terms employs lace in the sense of "beat up or thrash," a usage dating from the late 1500s. The idiom with light dates from the late 1800s and stems from the verb meaning "descend."
from some unimpeachable source on the airwaves. Don't lace into me. Let me hit the bricks.

OISK 3:06 PM  

Terrible. Just an awful Wednesday, and my first DNF since a Monday "Dap." Frustrated that after I got Nala, and Get Fuzzy, and Enviro, and Ren (????) and Sega (???) I got beaten on a word I have never heard of, where the across clue was an acronym. I hate acronym clues, although I know they are necessary sometimes, but if you aren't familiar, then any letter can be any letter. And so, "Burp." And I had ERU_T." And across, a meaningless (to me ) acronym _GI. What to do... Try every letter ,right?

Well, "Mount Etna erupted last weak, burping up a small amount of lave." Seems weak, but what else could it be? So I had PGI and ERUPT. I was pretty sure I was right, too! Eruct??


Carola 3:28 PM  

VANITY FERRET! Loved it. A nice challenge for a Wednesday, fun to solve.

My "green person" started out as an Eco...something, and when that had to turn into ENV...something, I thought we'd switched from ecology to envy.

@Rex - I had an English professor who described oral poetry as an "eructation."

jae 5:20 PM  

@Z - I got out my magnifying glass and checked out the ultra fine print between the GET FUZZY panels in my LATimes....yup, 2008...not that I doubted you...Doonesbury has also been doing the new only on Sunday thing for quite a while now.

Morristhecat 5:51 PM  

Appalled to see "snuck" in NYT! It's "sneak."

Chronic dnfer 5:55 PM  

A real disaster. Never heard of etseq. Still don't know what aerie is. Scherzo....never. Get fuzzy? Gimme a break. This one Saturday tough imho.

Z 5:57 PM  

Early posters may have missed Rex's WAND updates.

Mohair Sam 6:03 PM  

ZUNI not ZUNe? Looks like we dnf'd on a Wednesday. Add GIORGIO to the list of words I did not know today (thought he was GeORGIO).

@Laurie - Hope you noted we agree on SNUCK.

@Rex - Done yet on that WANDS thing?

Chuck McGregor 6:14 PM  

WOW! Seems this puzzle prompted all kinds of folks to comment -- many unfamiliar names - on all kinds of issues in the puzzle.

As such, most anything I could/would say seems superfluous.

However, as a musician, I just have to jump in on the WAND controversy:

Yesterday, with me as a one of the ringers in a school orchestra, we played the "Star Wars" theme (simplified). For fun, the conductor used a toy 'light saber' as her baton. This, for all practical purposes looks like a large, glo-stick 'WAND,' like those waved at a concert.

So you can have it BOTH ways in one (Har!)

@M&A: Re Ur PuzEatinSpouse. A DOFF of the hat and a bow to greatness to her for FERRETing out the vanity weasel answer! I woulda left it in, DNF be damned!

@Bob Kerfuffle: Yes, Chrissie has been quite the kerfuffle for NJ. I have LePage, so you have my heartfelt sympathy and empathy.


Anoa Bob 7:02 PM  

The WANDS flap is yet another example of how the old constructor's clue-attribution mantra rings true: "If you like the clue, credit the constructor; if you don't like the clue, blame the editor." (Courtesy of Tyler Hinman, I believe.)

ebtobiassen 9:22 PM  

I've seen Aristo as a noun, in dramas or stories about the French Revolution, where it is a slang term for an aristocrat, usually used in a derogatory way.

beatrice 10:20 PM  

In 1607 Monteverdi published a collection of tuneful, light-hearted compositions which he entitled 'SCHERZO Musicali',intended particularly for amateurs. Although a good translation is elusive, a common one is 'musical trifles' Trifles or not, they're charming.

Two videos: A 3-in-one video:

And, a particular favorite:

Jane Thorne 1:22 AM  

So totally unworthy of the NYT. Yech.

Jesse Gray 12:56 PM  

BTW, "snucked"? Come on!

Z 11:04 PM  

@SNUCK Haters - The change to correctness has SNUCK UP ON you. Sneaked? Seriously? Anyone who thinks something that nasally can last as the preferred form is certain to be continually disappointed by the changing world. Also, the dove dove, not the dove dived.

AnonyMissy 7:25 AM  

The fashion accessories aren't dead FERRETS; pull up 'Paris Hilton ferrets' and you'll see. Neither fur-ret nor fair-ret, just feh-ret over here; to me, they're just long drawn-out rats, so call Animal Control and be done with it. GET FUZZY's inclusion of a FERRET in the strip is only a minor rehabilitation of the species.

Anyways, @Z, it's 'the dove done dived', y'know.

spacecraft 10:27 AM  

Really? Coffee milkshake? Egad. That's like eating cold pizza for breakfast. People, there's hot food and cold food. Don't try to confuse things! BTW, one cold food I'll never touch is sushi; I get queasy at the very mention of raw fish, so that seaweed was a total WOE needing every single cross. If God wanted me to eat raw fish, he'd have made me a shark.

That was just one of many NIMW* items on today's menu. It's a wonder I finished, with all the stuff I didn't know. One saving grace is the strip that's always printed right next to my puzzle, right below Dilbert and Pearls Before Swine. With the two Z's, this was of tremendous help.

So we have a mini-NYY managers' convention, yet YOGI is off-clued. And what, pray tell, is ONEOFF, besides being the &#(&^@ number the bingo caller calls instead of the one I need? And what does it have to do with "Something not repeated?" Anyone?

*Not In My Wheelhouse. Didn't really enjoy this, but I sense this is a matter of personal preference rather than a design flaw. The theme is OK; one outlier that OFL didn't mention is VANITYFERRET, the only one that doesn't involve a -UET. But I agree it's the best one.

Don't watch Grey's, so WALSH may or may not be a DOD; I'm guessing yeah. I'm sure @rondo will let me know. Theme is cutesy; fill pretty rough. I'm torn between par and bogey: a pogey?

Longbeachlee 11:11 AM  

All of the above

MN Mom 11:49 AM  

Kids wave laser light wands at concerts. You all are getting old!?

Burma Shave 11:51 AM  


Neither FRAN NORI ERUCT drinking that TYPE of VIN,
but she’s at RISK to GETFUZZY AND TIPSY, a real UGLY scene.
ASGARD against PLOTZ, AND then she’ll knock ONEOFF for free.


rondo 12:30 PM  

Wow. Once again so many calling it a challenge when I just waltzed through it. I don’t mark time but about the usual I’d say, though I did it in two sittings as I had to drive to work before completion. Absolutely clean grid which is just the OPP of what’s challenging for me. Seems like if OFL says easy, I find it hard AND vice versa.

@spacey – Kate WALSH is an absolute top-o-line yeah baby, AND then there’s FRAN Drescher as The Nanny some 20 years ago who is not UGLY. How about some SCHERZO-FRAN-ia (lively movement with actress Drescher)? NATCH.
ONEOFF – something done only once – “I only met her that one night in (insert city name here) and our tryst was a ONE-OFF.” “Wild” OATS are not only proverbial.


The AERIE might be where you find the baby of a bald-headed eagle, but that baby will not have a white (“bald”) head until it matures. So I guess it’s how you read that clue.

So if tomorrow’s puz is easy for everyone else, I will have had an inkfest.

rain forest 2:58 PM  

@spacecraft A "one-off" is something made only once, like some of the cars at upscale auto shows.

Diana,LIW 3:14 PM  

Had 90% before I looked up WALSH and REN. But I really enjoyed the solve. One more "AHA" after another, for me. NATCH The answers SNUCKUPON me. The opposite of yesterday's PPP mania. Rex's overall NIMW response could have been applied to yesterday's puzzle, for me.

@Spacey - ONEOFF is a term I'm very familiar with in the car world. Only one was made. It's origin is British slang, and NOT a bad condensation of "one of a kind" as many think. In Car World, the rarer the car (only a few made) the more highly prized, and a "one off" is that rarest of rare.

Thought WANDS was fair, and related to those light thingies folks wave at a concert. Have a friend with a vast store of Yiddish phrases, so PLOTZ was a gimme. The themers amused me. This girl just likes to have fun - doesn't have to be perfect.

Just glancing at the other responses so far it seems like quite a few were not amused, but bemused. I'm still enjoying rootle. And biddle. Just a widdle.

Oh, yes, Rex seems to have a comic strip dearth going on. Some months ago he never heard of Luann (one of my faves, that I "save for last.") Now it's GETFUZZY, which I only get in the Sunday paper, but used to be daily. GF is either very funny or slightly annoying - kind of a one trick pony, with the sweet but clueless dog and the angry, buck-toothed, cynical cat.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

rain forest 3:37 PM  

Tough puzzle today. DNF, too, due to ERUpT/pGI. Stupid, although I think ERUCTation is a word I've seen. How about Program Generated Imagery? No? I must say, though, that I liked the increased difficulty of this offering.

I got off to a messy start in the NE putting in "riata" and "iou", corrected because OATS, and had a heck of a time spelling GIORGIO. Used every variation of that name. Nice to have TORRE and YOGI in there. Whether WANDS refers to conductors' batons, or glow sticks, it went right in.

I love the word verklempt. I got verklempt once, when I was moved from a school where I wanted to stay as the principal (this is what happens when you are a school administrator--you get moved), although whether I went so far as to PLOTZ, I can't say, because I don't know what that word means.

Liked the puzzle, the theme, many of the clues, and the challenge. It kind of SNUCK UP ON me.

leftcoastTAM 6:04 PM  

What's not to like about this one? Theme answer VANITYFERRET is choice and MAGAZINERAQUET isn't bad either.

Belch before ERUCT in the SE, which made that corner toughest.

The M-W puzzles seem unusually lively this week, something like a SCHERZO in a familiar piece of music.

AskGina 8:01 PM  

It stills runs daily in the Sacramento. But they're still running peanuts so...

Diana,LIW 10:02 PM  

@Rondo - Agree with you about Rex - it's like we're stuck in "opposite Day." It's hard - no easy. It's unknown - no everyday. Makes me laugh.

@Rainy - I think you did PLOTZ. PLORZing has many levels, including "why did they reward me for my hard work THIS way???!"

@Spacey - missed the coffee milkshake reference - where is it?

Oh, had another thought about the ferret. Davinci's "Lady with an Ermine" is a painting we have a copy of in our "man cave." Quite the cute critter - apparently signifying her lover, who was "the white ermine."

Diana, Lady with a Cat


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