Buddhist memorial dome / FRI 7-1-16 / 2006 musical featuring vampire / Christmas trio / One on one basketball play slangily / Tony-winning title role 1990 / Odysseus faithful dog / Separator of Philippines Malaysia / Org that covers Springfield in dome in SImpsons movie / Backslash neighbor / Brazilian city name that sounds like US state capital

Friday, July 1, 2016

Constructor: James Mulhern

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging

THEME: none 

Word of the Day: LOLITAS (41D: Teases, in older usage) —
Lolita was the nickname of one of the principal characters in Vladimir Nabokov's novel Lolita. Lolita's actual name was Dolores, with whom the narrator, Humbert Humbert, develops a sexual obsession. In the book itself, "Lolita" is specifically Humbert's nickname for Dolores. Nevertheless, "Lolita" and "loli" has come to be used as a general reference to girls considered sexually precocious. // In the marketing of pornography, lolita is used to refer to a young girl, frequently one who has only recently reached the age of consent, appears to be younger than the age of consent, or child exploitation material depicting the sexual abuse of children. (wikipedia)

• • •

Lolita was 12 years old.

She was extensively sexually abused by her stepfather.

I guess she shouldn't have "teased" him? 

See you tomorrow.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

P.S. if you want something more to read, try this.
[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


johnnymcguirk 7:55 AM  

Lolita is a fictional character. Whatever, Vladamir Nabokov is just another dead white male. Huckleberry Finn used the word "nigger" a bunch of times. Let's chuck Twain down the memory hole too, and don't get me started on Shakespeare and Chaucer. Adios to them.

Brian 8:06 AM  


Imfromjersey 8:08 AM  

Lolitas is hugely problematic, that corner should have been redone. You could clue it as Actress Davidovich and others, but I can't name any others. This link has some but most are obscure and at least one is a porn star. If not for that one tone deaf answer I would have enjoyed this puzzle. Wonder if this clue was changed by Will or was original. Either way it's offensive.

kitshef 8:29 AM  

Challenging, but finishable. First pass through all the acrosses yielded exactly three gimmes: EPA, LOIS and ORIENTAL - from a cartoon, a comic book, and a children's game. EPA unfortunately lead me directly into the trap of SAO PAULO, clogging up the NW for a long, long time. An ARGuS/ARGOS quandary, and SWAt before SWAY made DESTROY impossible to see, making entering the NW from the top center difficult.

In a puzzle that found (relatively) sensitive ways to clue ORIENTAL, TEAT and HOS, the clue for LOLITAS was artless; however, the circumstances of the character by that name can be separated from the usage of the word (often by people who don't even know of the book or character).

Glimmerglass 8:32 AM  

No column today, Rex? I agree that the clue (41D) for LOLITA is as gratuitously hateful as the clue for HAREM yesterday -- maybe even more objectionable. However, that's not a reason to walk out on your readers. We didn't construct, edit, or even (at least in my case) approve of the clue. This was, 41D aside, a challenging, fun puzzle. I thought you might have clever comment on YAZOO.

paul pix 8:50 AM  

I always knew Will supported rape culture. This Lolita business confirms it. Well done Rex.

Tim Pierce 8:53 AM  

Thank you, Rex.

Hungry Mother 8:55 AM  

A long slog today.

Nancy 9:02 AM  

Found it challenging, liked it a lot, was tempted to cheat but didn't, am glad I didn't because I finished it. Rex has given fair warning that nothing will be posted today, so I won't waste time going into any details.

Maruchka 9:10 AM  

Hmm. More medium-ish here. STAREd for about 15 min., then worked the SW, SE, NE in a fairly smooth swoop. NW was the last to fall. Really enjoyed the tasty, fungible cluing.

Thanks, Mr. Jimmy.

Fav of the day - EPIDURAL. So thankful I didn't need one, though labor was tough at times. Here's to the midwives!

@Rex - Jeez. Political correctness runs amok. I was a young freedom-fighter and feminist. Believe me, kids, a good sense of humor and of the absurd is essential. What have we now? Rigidity and Grundyism. My advice would be - create your own damn website. Be as speech controlling as you want to be.

GILL I. 9:11 AM  

Gee @Rex....I came here to see what you thought of STUPA...
You sure do find answers that raise a hackle or two. At least I know what LOLITAS now mean.
Now I don't even know what to say other than I sure had to work harder than usual to get er done. Couldn't find anything upstairs, so went to the basement to read Le FIGARO. That got me going for a while. CANBERRA fit in nicely. Then I got ORIENTAL (I don't think you can say that word any more). Every WOMAN (AIR or not) who is birthing (oops - can I say that?) will thank the goddess of pain killers for EPIDURALs.
Did anyone else have Crazy Horse Lenape? Why was he named Crazy Horse? Seems a bit racist to me.

Dshawmaine 9:22 AM  


AskGina 9:25 AM  

Can I get some opinions on flashers and oriental?

Chaos344 9:30 AM  

OFL must have retreated to his "safe space"? Seems like this has become his personal Jihad against the stunning insensitivity of Will Shortz? Guess life ain't easy for PC obsessed SJW?

Laurence Katz 9:52 AM  

A car's hazard lights are also called flashers. Oriental Ave. in Monopoly.

Jackie 9:56 AM  

In light of the Times's recent pattern, I am equal parts shocked and relieved that they managed to clue HOS in a way that had nothing to do with black women.

evil doug 9:57 AM  

Tiresome, Michael.

deerfencer 10:11 AM  

Nobody likes a scold.

Mohair Sam 10:11 AM  

Rex is dead right this time. LOLITAS has never meant simply "teases" - it's always been a very young girl sexually flirting with an old guy. This puzzle has some great misdirection, almost no "-ese", clever cluing throughout - and all folks will be talking about is the LOLITAS clue. You know Will, somebody wrote "Love Story" and we got 40 million Jennifers, and somebody wrote "The Thorn Birds" and we got 40 million Meghans, and somebody wrote "Lolita" and we got zero LOLITAS. There's a reason.

Otherwise we found this challenging and enjoyable (Beyond that, did you enjoy the play Mrs Lincoln?). Disagree with the clue at 31A, Gravy goody - you have a GIBLET floating around my gravy boat and you've got a problem. Lost some time because the Brazilians have their own way of spelling ANAPOLIS. And a lot more because cOCoA seemed to make sense for MOCHA (yeah, yeah, I can't spell). Learned today that AIRWOMAN and aviatrix both contain eight letters (and I thought either of them might piss Rex off). Why was CANBERRA not a gimme? But it wasn't. ISO tough slang even for this former player and current fan. And that Star Trek guy has gotten so big they've named an entire part of the Pacific after him, wow! - Figures, he's everywhere lately.

Ya know, there must be lots of bright young people working at the Times who do the puzzle. Why doesn't Will Shortz pick a few of them to do puzzles when he first approves them (why wait for publication?) and they can let him know if there is anything in there that seems offensive. Problem solved.

Anonymous 10:19 AM  

(Boytoy has been clued twice in the NY Times crossword notably as “Older woman’s plaything”)

Boy Toys can be as young as 12 years old.

They are often fancied by their teachers.

I guess they shouldn’t use AXE spray.

See you tomorrow.

(Or let’s try a different comparable):

OGREs are featured characters in many children's fairy tales.

An ogre is a legendary monster usually depicted as a large, hideous, manlike being that eats ordinary human beings, especially infants and children.

OGRE has been clued in NY Times crossword puzzles 527 times.

OGREs are fictional characters.

LOLITA is a fictional character.

Lolita is a nymphet.

A nymphet is a sexually precocious, pubescent girl.

LOLITAS has been clued in NY Times crosswords 7 times.

Which is worse, for sex or for supper?

See you tomorrow.

Anonymous 10:23 AM  

I agree with the write-up. Maybe LOLITAS clued as "teases" wasn't weird 10 or 15 years ago, but it strikes my ear as unnecessarily tone-deaf today -- so tone-deaf that it's not just kind of dumb but it's actually pretty offensive.

Knitwit 10:25 AM  

I thought AIRWOMAN cringe-worthy, but then I had LOLIDAD and didn't recheck.

Toothdoc 10:25 AM  

Rather than not write today's blog I would gladly join you in cancelling my NYT crossword subscription. Just tell me what puzzle site you want to blog about - honestly that is the fun of finishing a puzzle anyway. So if we are to take a stand against persistent insensitivity let's do it but to rail against it while still financially supporting it is contradictory.

Z 10:27 AM  

@Chaos and @johnnymcguirk - Why do you insist on misunderstanding Rex? Because you are. @Chaos - Why wouldn't one be willing to be a warrior for social justice? You're continued use of the term as an intended pejorative makes it seem that you think injustice is just fine.

Nevertheless, Rex, Slate, other commenters, me - we're not talking about social justice. We're talking about this pattern of being insulting to significant parts of society. LOLITA is a 20th century Classic at least in part because it can be interpreted to be saying exactly the opposite of the way this clue suggests. To use the Twain comparison, imagine "Lazy gadabout, in older usages" resulting in the answer "niggers."

As for the puzzle - I LOLed when I finally got TAX CUT. Here in Michigan the state is losing money on its business tax to the tune of $99,000,000. Not what most people think about when they use the term "welfare state." Why be good at business when you can suck on the working person's TEAT?

Giovanni P. 10:37 AM  

Huh, did I stumble upon /r/Tumblrinaction or something? Next thing you know, there will be a subreddit where people obsessively document any "SJW" comments made by crossword people and endlessly quote memes back at you.

Glad to see it's not just limited to my generation. You folks can do it so much better for real than what I could come up with as a joke.

old timer 10:44 AM  

"Sexually precocious girls, according to some" would have been better. There are some in every 7th grade class, aways have been. Every parent knows this. And warns his boys about. In the novel, Lolita *was* a tease, but that does not excuse the clue.

The puzzle was tough, but doable, thanks to FANTASY BASEBALL. And SIC, which made it possible to write in SQUARE before BRACKET, which made BBQ the only possible end for 3 down.

I got a foothold in CANBERRA. It's always interested me how often capital cities have been built in what you might call neutral ground. Pakistan, Brazil, Australia, Canada, and of course the USA are all examples. But so are Belgium (Brussels was chosen as a capital precisely because it is on the border between the Flemish and French speaking regions) and even Spain (Madrid was just a village until the king decided to rule from there, because it was more or less in the center of the country).

I thought ANAPOLIS was a bit of a stretch. I bet almost no one has ever heard of it. However, the clue for FLASHERS was brilliant.

Sandy 10:44 AM  

Total blech. Air woman? Lolita as a verb? Fies ??
Is Will Short still compos mentas?

Nancy 10:50 AM  

Brava, @Marushka (9:10)! Thanks for reminding everyone that there are plenty of feminist, liberal types who nonetheless think that political correctness HAS run amok, as you say. Every time I see it carried to the ridiculous extremes it's being carried to these days, I can hear the unmistakable sound of a very smug and self-satisfied person loudly patting himself or herself on the back for his or her superior sensitivity. In addition to which, it can be terribly patronizing to the folks who are ostensibly being "defended."

Ellen S 11:08 AM  

@Old Timer, I think the US capitals are built not on "neutral ground" but rather, far away from population centers. Learning a lesson from the French Revolution, make it hard for the peasantry to get to you.

As for LOLITAS and AIRWOMAN, I have a theory that the more @Rex rails against the tone-deafness of @Will Shortz with regard to race and gender, the more offensive the next puzzle will be. I remember when all we had to talk about was whether the chemistry clues were scientifically accurate. Oh, those innocent times.

cwf 11:09 AM  

At least my initial entry for 16A, "aviatrix", was wrong. So there's that.

Anonymous 11:10 AM  

@Sandy, Lolita wasn't used as a verb. The word was Lolitas, clued as a plural noun.

Greater Fall River Committee for Peace & Justice 11:11 AM  

I could not find Anapolis in Brazil on my globe, which means it ain't much of a city, methinks.I got the top half, of which I found the NE rather pleasant. Dropped a few things heading down, reached the SW edge, STARED for a while and stopped. Logged on here to see what everybody else thought.

I will however admit to having put in Midlands where CANBERRA was supposed to go quite early on. Bush capital that should not have had an S on it.

Doug P 11:16 AM  

Trying to figure out if the OGRE comment is real or a troll... How many people were eaten by ogres today? And how many "Lolitas" were abused by older men today? Well, they were probably teasing them.

jae 11:19 AM  

Add me to the tough but doable contingent. A fair number of WOEs made this slow going. @Mohair and @Z, nicely put. You guys often save me a considerable amount of time which is appreciated as I am retired and therefore extremely busy.

Oh, and liked it(despite the problematic clue) because it's nice to get a tough Fri. every now and then.

Jason 11:19 AM  

This one got me. SAO PAOLO sounds like St. Paul, and it crosses with EPA. Tricky.

Anonymous 11:32 AM  

Rex is consistent with these types of objections. So I get his ire here. But Rex, a nice part of my daily puzzle fun-time is reading your take on the days crossword. Rail against that clue, but give your fans a write-up.

jberg 11:34 AM  

I'm with @Rex -- look, he ran the risk of demonstrating that he is completely non-essential to the blog (except as opening it up in the first place and then approving comments), as an act of conscience. I thought it was pretty offensive. I was also concerned to see the ideological bias of 17A, as clued. Aside from that, it's a great puzzle. A hard struggle for me, even though I managed to resist 'aviatrix' for the Earhart clue. But then I fell for 'scuttle' for TORPEDO, which really held things up. And not having seen the movie, I figured that Springfield would have been domed (though not STUPAed) by the NRC.

If he'd stuck around, Rex would have commended this puzzle for falling one V short of a pangram.

Tita A 11:38 AM  

@AskGina - opinions? or explanations...?
I'll be the 44th to explain - the board game Monopoly groups streets into sets, identified by color. Connecticut Ave, Vermont Ave, and Oriental Ave. are the set marked in light blue.
FLASHERS on your car are called hazard lights.

Apropos to the car mini theme, I've spent the last 3 post-dawn hours teaching my close friend's daughter how to drive.
We used the FLASHERS several times, and I explained to her the reasons why it's a terrible idea to TAILGATE.
(We've gone to a local business park to drive, because it has streets, intersections, and stop signs, but almost zero traffic before the companies start opening. I'm loving the experience of teaching her both the technical and regulatory aspects of driving, but am also injecting my own personal zen into the process.)

Controversy?? What @JohnyMcG said. Sheesh.
As for the Slate article...read the first 10 comments. Much more concise and coherent, IMO.
I allow only two arguments as valid in this brouhaha:
1. There should be more diverse blood in the editing and constructing communities.
(If a female Asian editor had clued MEN that way, then the men would have found it smile-inducing, which I did when I first saw it.)
2. ILLEGALS and THUGS were in fact awful.

There was a puzzle. A DNF in SE. ONEMAN and AIRWOMAN felt not like things.
Not sure I liked the x-ref [SIC] clues. Editors are getting plenty of use out of that [SIC] what with the presumptive nominee and all...

Was glad that the ample opportunities to xref NAGASAKI with its nearby fill was avoided.
Learned STUPA.

When we're done with a rousing round of Bananagrams, I like to construct stories with the words I've laid out. This puzzle lends itself to some very interesting possibilties.
Where are the Parisian 'mericans when you need 'em?

Thanks Mr. M for a tough Friday.

Anonymous 11:47 AM  

Hmm, I did not have a problem with Lolita as tease, I suppose used as a noun. It is after all the theme of Sting's song Don't Stand So Close to Me, and I haven't heard of a controversy there.

Warren Howie Hughes 11:47 AM  

I cannot begin to 'splain how my comments for today's puzzle (Friday)appeared on Thursday's blog? I guess I can chalk it up to a Senior moment, since I recently turned 79 in early April.

Sir Hillary 11:47 AM  

For the second time in four days, the comments here are orders of magnitude more entertaining than the puzzle itself. Orders of magnitude more predicable too. Happy long weekend, everyone. Rock on.

Teedmn 11:47 AM  

As is all too often the case, I found the NW the most challenging. If I could figure out how to link the screen shot I took of my grid, you all could see the immense black morass I have going in the SULU SEA and its surroundings. At one point, 3D was TEXicali. ANAPOLIS went in and out and back in. Thank goodness I never associated "Sao Paolo" with St. Paul or I would never climbed out of that tar pit. As it was, I finally peeked at 1D at Xwordinfo and saw that neither TOmatos nor pOTatos was correct at 1D and then everything filled itself in.

A couple of questions zinging around in my molasses-slow brain this morning (okay, more like trundling than zinging) while solving:

AL__M = wedding keepsake. What anniversary year are ALarM clocks given as gifts?

S____E BRACKET Hmmm, SinglE BRACKET? SimplE BRACKET? This because the only three letter name I could think of at 32D was"Ali".

So this puzzle took a TOLL on my EGO, thanks, James Mulhern!

Mary Perry 11:52 AM  

I liked air woman but then: teases: LOLITAS!!!!
Ruined it for me.

David 11:59 AM  

Put in FANTASYfootBALL right away, and felt so confident that I didn't think about other options, which made the middle south tougher to put together. Ended up with a final blank at YA_OO and _AC, which was inscrutable. Ended up trying an M, oh well.

Glad to see LOIS Lane show up as a comic fan, invoking a feminist icon in contrast to the puzzle's legit issues from the other direction. Could maybe built up a bit of good will with clues on stuff like this that references strong female figures and hints at social consciousness.

Couldn't stop seeing pAyCUT, but it clearly didn't make sense, so TAXCUT took a while to materialize. Other missteps included hbo for TMC, then aMC for TMC, osha for BOSS, spelling of ARGuS, DiNg for DENT. Other than my last Z, most of the tough answers, even crossing each other, worked out okay. Never heard of SULUSEA, for example, but crossing RIMA and STUPA in only the non-proper part of the name made it more fair fare.

Decent puzzle, a bit tough but generally work-through-able. Agree with one or two others that even LOLITAS might have been salvageable if clue lampshaded the problems with the word and definition more directly. "Older usage" is not the same as "problematically," and if anything might suggest that the usage is quaint or charming rather than something that, nowadays, seems messed up.

AliasZ 12:09 PM  

LOLITAS -- definition from Merriam-Webster: "a precociously seductive girl." What? I will never use Merriam-Webster again.

Good puzzle today, thanks James.

I liked that it had musical references up the YAZOO. Finding them was NOT A TALL order: CHORAL AUDIO ALBUM with an aria in E-MAJOR from "Le nozze di FIGARO."


This lovely ORIENTAL FANTASY [BASEBALL], "Islamey" by Mily Balakirev, also makes an appearance, presented here in its original ONE-MAN piano version.

Enjoy your Friday, and the long weekend ahead.

Bill Ballard 12:27 PM  

Did no one else enter TORT, which my dictionary defines as "damage done", for what turns out to be TOLL?

Hartley70 12:27 PM  

@LaurenceKatz, thanks! I had no idea why the answer was ORIENTAL, but I was sure it would offend someone. Guess not. Monopoly gets a pass.

I understand the LOLITA uproar, but AIRWOMAN? Now that's just silly.

@MohairSam, really loved your point about girls named after popular literary characters. I haven't come across any Humberts either.

Overlooking the @Kerfuffle (where IS he, BTW?), because I've lived long enough to keep my knickers out of a knot, this puzzle solved faster than the average Friday. I had to work just hard enough to have a good time and feel that the brain cells were still firing.

Jim 12:41 PM  

Well said, Rex. The nay-sayers here are completely missing the point. "Lolitas" (awful plural not withstanding) could be used but the clue was awful. Proud of those who are supporting you and of you for doing the right thing.

Roo Monster 12:46 PM  

Hey All !
Lots of SNITS over LOLITAS. Put me in should've been reworked camp.

Kind of odd puz. Too many tough spots. Finished, with help, but wasn't happy about it.


Larry Gilstrap 1:09 PM  

What just happened? I have done the puzzle for years, read the blog regularly, and just started commenting this week. Then the whole thing comes crashing down? Can't help but blame myself.

Ted 1:10 PM  

I agree, and nice move staging a little strike to underline the seriousness.

This is how civilization creeps forward.

Rex, you are a solid guy. Thank you thank you.

Appreciate the link to the thoughtful column by Ruth Graham.

Taking a stand is not easy. People have unpleasant reactions.

But I would want my daughters' teachers to be people like you.

Anonymous 1:18 PM  

Dude, it's a crossword puzzle. Relax. Of all the atrocities in the world today, an insensitive crossword puzzle clue doesn't even make the top million. Be pissed off about one of those. Your readers come here for enjoyment; not to deal with a grown man's temper tantrums.

Chaos344 1:32 PM  

@Z and those who agree with him:

Don't play dumb Z. Everyone knows you're an erudite individual, and trying to pretend that you don't understand where people like @johnnymcguirk and I are coming from only serves to make you look foolish! It has absolutely nothing to do with believing in "true" social justice.

Look around! In case you hadn't noticed,
millions of people are sick and tired of
"political correctness" in all of it's inane various manifestations. The SJW crowd and the "victimhood class" are merely different sects of the same religion. The churches all have different names like Slate, Salon, Vox etc, but some of us know them better as Our Lady Of Perpetual White Guilt, Church Of The Later Day Social Justice Warriors, or the Calvary Political Correct Center. Go to any of them, kneel on the prie dieu, and beg forgiveness for your white privilege, your latent racism, nativism, patriotism, misogyny, Zenophobia, homophobia,Ad nauseam. Don't forget microaggressions and cultural appropriation.

We get it. Old white men are the scum of the earth, and the world will be a much better place when we all die off.

Having said that,wouldn't it be fantastic to have a blog where we just talked about crosswords. A blog where no one took "cheap shots" at their political and ideological adversaries every time the opportunity presented itself in a clue or answer? Excluding Rex's write-up, there are a few people on this blog who do that on a regular basis, and you know who you are!

In the past, I have gone out of my way to try and avoid getting in a pissing contest with fellow posters regarding politics and political correctness. I always assumed that Rex wanted to avoid such discussions on his blog. Now, it seems just the opposite is true? We get links to Slate and rants about any clue that could be the slightest bit offensive to even the smallest segment of the perceived aggrieved. Perhaps Rex would be happier if we referred to "Lolita types" as C**K Teasers? That's what we used to call them.

Remember one thing. Donald Trump,(and to a lesser degree, the Brexit)are a direct result of Political Correctness gone amok! If Trump is elected, Liberal-Progressives will have no one but themselves to blame, and I will laugh till my uvula explodes!

Deej 1:39 PM  

To the people taking Rex to task for objecting to LOLITAS, he is not (I believe) objecting to the mere use of the word, but to the way it was clued; i.e., saying Lolita was a tease). The whole point of Nabokov's novel is that she is NOT a tease; she is a 12-year-old, for pete's sake! It is Humbert's pedophiliac perspective that makes him, as the POV of the novel, describe her as a tease. It absolves him of his actions. To the guy who mentioned Sting, that is also the point of the Police's song! If you hear that song, and think, "Poor guy, that girl keeps standing too close to him," you've missed the point.

Wil may as well have clued it as, "Young girls who are just 'asking for it'."

There are many ways the answer could have been clued that would not be stupid and tone-deaf...

- Actress Davidovich and others (as pointed out above)
- Belonging to a title Nabokov character (if you can accept the non-apostrophe)
- Stack Nabokov's books


This puzzle was tough for me for other reasons. Could not see TALK as TATTLE, and don't see TMC as an alternative to SHO. Isn't TMC basic cable, while SHO is pay cable? Maybe A&E alternative? Finished the whole puzzle, except the 1A/4D cross (TATALE), where I had to come to the blog to figure out WTF I had wrong.

And the LOLITAS thing is so bad, it has blinded everyone to the insensitivity of putting AIRWOMAN (which I think of as not just any female flier, but a woman in the Air Force), above NAGASAKI. This puzzle was a train wreck. Either AVIATRIX or AIRWOMAN are considered diminutive, and if ever clued (we don't want to pretend our history doesn't exist, after all) should be clued to indicates such... I suppose it could have been clued as "Bygone female pilot" and Will could have changed it to "Amelia Earhart, e.g." but I think that is a bad change. I'd bet money Amelia thought of herself as an aviator, not an aviatrix, and certainly not an airwoman!

Deej 1:42 PM  

Oh, and two more things:

1. Webster's definition of Lolita as "a sexually precocious girl" is also tone-deaf, and reflects the 1950s values that incorporated the term into general usage while blaming the victim. That doesn't make it make the clue OK.

2. Can anyone explain what OFL means? I see it here often, yet cannot figure it out/find it in Google.


Giovanni P. 1:51 PM  

Is there a bingo card for the PC run amok stuff? There should be a bingo card. At least we haven't gotten to the phrase "white knight" and some other Chan or Reddit tier stuff.

As to the actual crossword, I managed to do it in a reasonable amount of time, though FIES and FIGARO got me. A good chunk of the other fill was nice, though I did originally want to go with AVIATRIX like a couple other people. FOOTBALL instead of BASEBALL at first as well.

Other Prof. 1:51 PM  

In the book, Lolita/Dolores was not a tease at all. The clue is not about the character, but about the idea of the character common among those who have not read the book. But this is a losing battle, like telling people Sherlock Holmes never said, "elementary, my dear Watson" or that Rick never said "Playit again Sam." These unsaid famous lines might make an interesting theme.

Anonymous 2:03 PM  

Based on these comments it seems that for some political correctness (in the pejorative sense) and any measure of societal standards are two sides of the same coin. I find them to be very different, and I would risk being guilty of the first for having some minimal level of the second.

Rex believes the NYT crossword puzzle is trivializing the sexual abuse of minors. That being the case, I would say he would be almost obliged to point it out. He certainly is not being priggish by doing so.

This example is so obviously obnoxious that my first reaction was that it was done intentionally as a retort to the Slate article about (and Rex's comments to) the last inappropriate clue/answer.

I predict that you will be reading more about this one, and Mr. Shortz may find himself in some hot water.

Anonymous 2:04 PM  

I'm happy that you're the type of person who can laugh about Trump's election. Obviously you're not part of any group he's specifically attacked and condoned violence against. Some of us aren't so lucky.

Anonymous 2:04 PM  

This was an absolutely perfect post. Thank you.

The irony of people taking time to comment on this blog dedicated to crosswords, but failing to recognize the actual power of words is astounding.

Alec Myers 2:05 PM  

I don't usually comment, but Rex's walkout on this one was entirely appropriate. I've never been more offended by a NYT Crossword clue, and that's saying something.

Joe Bleaux 2:09 PM  

Not much left to say (one poster even beat me to the punch about comments nearly upstaging the puzzle again). Looked askance at AIRWOMAN, and grimaced at LOLITAS, but if I wanted to bitch -- oops, gripe -- about something, it'd be FIES. Overall, a nice job, Mr. Mulhern.

Carola 2:17 PM  

A satisfyingly tough Friday. I enjoyed the grappling and was happy to finish.
Weighing in on LOLITAS - it gets a FIE from me, too, as does the unfortunate placement of TAIL.

puzzle hoarder 2:23 PM  

I really don't know if the name LOLITA carried it's present day baggage prior to Nabakov writing his novel and that's why he chose it or if it's notoriety is a result of the novel itself. Either way it doesn't account for @Rex's reaction. Once again he's ruined a perfectly good opportunity to discuss a puzzle I enjoyed solving. It would be like trying to carry on a conversation at a party after someone has made a scene.
Today's blog or lack thereof raises some interesting questions. If the NYTP is that insensitive toward women and minorities why does @Rex blog it and furthermore why would he want to see his puzzles printed there? There are other puzzles out there.
One more thing, after today if Rex and his followers turned out to be some kind of PC cult that commits mass suicide in conjunction with an astrological event it wouldn't surprise me in the least.

Gregory Schmidt 2:27 PM  

@Chaos344 - The fact that you think there exists a "Lolita type" says more about you than does your screed.

David Fink 2:34 PM  

Che for Tru. Whoops. - Didn't blink over Lolita until I came here. No biggie in my book.

Kate 2:46 PM  

Yep. Grossed me out too, even with the lame caveat of "old usage".

Kimberly 2:57 PM  

I was extremely happy to see this entry. "Lolita" clued as "tease" infuriated me. Fictional or not, Lolita is the epynomous child molestation victim. Yes, Humbert saw her as a tease, but to clue her name thusly makes me think the constructor (or editor) identified with the pedophile rather than the victim in the story.

NYTXword is gaining quite the reputation for cultural insensitivity, but this time they've gone off the rails. Maybe they can use Wendy Moldonado's name and clue it 'back talker."

For those comparing this to Huckleberry Finn, come back and say the same when they clue the name "Jim" as "Huck's N*^%#+."

deerfencer 3:01 PM  

@Chaos344: Interestingly, it seems this ultra PC mentality that is permeating many campuses has resulted in a good number of perhaps the least tolerant, whiniest individuals I've seen, witness some of the recent episodes at Yale over Halloween costumes, etc. So much for diversity, acceptance, and a liberal education.

evil doug 3:06 PM  

(for Loren)

LOL! IT A real teaser, man.

Geometricus 3:12 PM  

On one hand there is nothing "liberal" about speech codes and language police. (Not saying Rex or any commentor here is in favor of such.) I am a 54 year old man who has always valued free speech, even when I despise the speaker and his message. The antidote to speech we don't like is more speech, freely condemning the speaker. Unfortunately the younger crowd these days is ok with silencing speech they don't like and getting speakers they don't agree with "disinvited" from college campuses. Feels dangerous and totalitarian to me.

On the other hand, child abuse has always been one of the most heinous crimes against humanity. I was abused as a teen by a sexual predator whom everyone loved and thought was wonderful even though it open secret was that he was a pedophile. I did not "tease" him, I was not a male Lolito.

So Bravo to Rex for sending a message in a strong jarring way. Sometimes saying little can be the strongest message.

OISK 3:20 PM  

Thanks, Chaos344. It's a puzzle, not a social commentary. Lolita bothers me not at all, especially with the "older usage" addition. This was the first DNF for me in ages that I couldn't blame on pop culture or bad cluing. I made two errors, never fixed them, and missed on perfectly gettable answers. I had Sao Paulo, and was sure it was correct for the longest time, which cost me at least half an hour. When I finally got Anapolis, not a Brazilian town I have ever heard of, I still had an error, "TexanBBQ." instead of Texas. So I had BON_ for office monitor (a pretty contrived clue, but still legitimate.) and did not know the name of the "Sea,". Geography is usually right up my alley, but not this time. If I had written "Texas" originally, which is clearly the better answer, of course I would have found "Boss." But I didn't. Phooey.

And then, I had "Swat" instead of Sway, for "Clout." Not sure how to spell "Argos" I had Destrut and Argus. That is a four box DNF, my worst performance in about a year! And it was all fair and doable! So ends an 8 day winning streak. My own carelessness, but a perfectly fine puzzle as far as I am concerned.

I also really dislike the cluing for tote bag, but I did get it.

Churlish Nabob 3:47 PM  

@Rex, you called this one correctly.

@chaos344: we'll explain it to you someday when you grow up. In the meantime go have your afternoon milk.

I'm a 58 year old white male and a proud lifelong SJW.

Mohair Sam 3:58 PM  

@Hartley70 - LOL with the Humbert comment. . . I wouldn't name a dog Humbert. I never looked at James Mason quite the same after he played that role. Well, until he put the sleaze back in the word lawyer with his turn as the lead attorney for the hospital in "The Verdict".

Sherri Fogelman 4:30 PM  

Sorry Rex love you but y'all take this and yourselves too seriously. "Tongue in cheek". I'm sure you've all heard of it. We gotta stop being offended. Jeez

David 4:56 PM  

Anapolis is about 100 km WSW of Brasilia.

Martín Abresch 5:06 PM  

Those poor men getting teased by underage girls! Young girls really should know better than to tempt men into pedophilia. Rex is totally being a prude for taking offense to a euphemism (excuse me, "older usage") for child rape.*

On political correctness. There has always been different kinds of speech—what you say to your parents or in church or school versus what you say to your friends. What is considered to be polite speech in public has changed, and it has changed to incorporate points of view that aren't white or male. Whoop-dee-fucking-do.

*Just to be clear: this paragraph was sarcasm.

@Z - Never got back to you on your comment from the other day. The Copa America final was sad as can be. That's three tough finals losses in three years for Argentina. The Argentine Football Association is a complete mess right now. I'm hoping that Messi is using his retirement to serve notice to the AFA: get your act together or I won't play for you. And while I'm all in favor of putting a gag order on Maradona, they should not, however, change their uniform colors. I might be biased, but I truly believe that their blue and white jersey is one of the most beautiful uniforms in all of sports.

Chaos344 5:10 PM  

So, 67 comments so far, and probably a lot more to follow. It all depends on how far Rex wants this farce to continue?

Even though this blog is only peripherally connected to the NYT,(as opposed to Wordplay),I'm totally gobsmacked that something as inconsequential as clues and answers in a NYT crossword puzzle can evoke this type of response? A plethora of emotions spanning the gamut from various degrees of emotional distress, up to and including physical nausea? WTF!

Arguing about the nuance and context of how LOLITAS is used as synonymous with TEASES, is a distinction without a difference.

Just look at this puzzle and see all the things that the uber sensitive PC types want to go bat-shit crazy over! LOLITAS and AIRWOMAN for the feminists and the men who think that rallying to their cause is the 21st century equivalent of chivalry. No guys! The women that you are trying to impress are not going to drop their linen in appreciation for your undying support! TAXCUT is a huge taboo for those who disagree with that monetary policy. Totally amazed that someone didn't go ballistic about dredging up the memory of NAGASAKI, and all the concurrent guilt said mention should evoke? Then of course, the clue for 55A probably sent some people into paroxysm's of Bush Derangement syndrome?

Some people need to vacate the "safe spaces" in the lofty heights of their Utopian ivory towers and come join the rest of us here in the real world!

FLASHERS definitely connotates an image that is offensive to women, and no one should ever describe a female office manager as BOSSY! AHSO! ORIENTAL is definitely offensive weather it pertains to light blue or yellow, and calling a native American of LAKOTA ancestry CRAZY, is totally beyond the pale! How can you possibly use the word HOS in a crossword puzzle, when everyone who loves Hip Hop and Rap knows exactly what that term refers to? How would you like to represent your state in the Miss America pageant if you were from Boise? Would you wear that sash? Oh wait! Beauty pageants are sexist, right?

OMG! TEAT! Well that's just plain wrong! TIT is OK though, because that refers to certain birds! See were I'm going with this? I haven't even scratched the surface yet!

@Gregory Schmidt: Really Gregory? Grow up and join the real world. Google Sugar Babies. Dozens of sites dedicated to young girls who actively advertise for older men to subsidize their college tuition in exchange for certain benefits! Better yet, try EXCOGI.COM Find out what some darling daughters are really using daddy's money to major in!

Martín Abresch 5:14 PM  

Oh, yeah. The TAX_CUT clue ticked me off: "Good news for wage earners." There are so many ways to clue this, why choose one that makes a value judgment on a political issue?

old timer 5:41 PM  

Oh, even in the book, LOLITA was a tease. Sex gave her power over Humbert. She liked power, and liked being out from under her mother's thumb. Of course, Humbert was violating the law and knew it. Our society expects that men who are of full age will resist any temptation a young girl or boy may present at least if the child is under 14 and therefore not only legally but also morally incapable of consent. 17-year-olds, in contrast, are legally incapable of consent in many states including California, but they are certainly morally capable of consent and few district attorneys would charge an 18-year-old boy with whatever he did with his 17-year-old girlfriend.

But even if LOLITA was a tease, that cannot excuse today's clue. As I said, "sexually precocious girls" would have been a fine clue, and M-W seems to agree.

Vincent Lima 5:44 PM  

Thanks. The right-wing politics of 17A (which I got off TEXASBBQ and couldn't believe) had me up in arms until I got to LOLITAS. The puzzle is well beyond tone-deafness here; it's endorsing the pedophile's fantasy that the child is emotionally and physically mature ("precocious") and therefore not just capable of consent, but also culpable for overwhelming the adult's reluctance ("seductive.")

Anonymous 5:49 PM  

OFL = our fearless leader. A joke, except to hypersensitive Russian watchers of Rocky and Bullwinkle.

MetroGnome 6:26 PM  

I won't comment on the "harem" item cited in that link, because I didn't see Tuesday's puzzle . . . but I really think it's a stretch to suggest that the "LOLITAS" answer supports or endorses "rape culture." The clue specifically states that this is an "older usage," and in fact it is.

As for the gangsta rap / AAVE slang clues that come up quite often -- well, yes, most of those are relatively older expressions that white hipsters have caught up with over the last decade or so, they tend to focus on what a lot of people consider negative images, and taken out of context they could certainly be seen as stereotypical. But on the other hand, I think that most of the British slang ("YEGGS et al.), regional/southern colloquial terms ("HET UP," "AGIN," et al.), faded hippie/drug slang (the various references to LSD, marijuana, etc.) and other
excursions into the vernacular could also be categorized this way.

That's the thing about language -- it reflects the way real, flawed, imperfect people talk in the real, flawed, imperfect world. I'd suggest that crossword puzzles, at their best, test our knowledge and facility with the language as it "IS" (or "WAS"), in this real, flawed, and imperfect world, not necessarily as it "SHOULD BE" in a hypothetical, perfect world. (Kinda like art, music, literature . . . you know, creative human expression?) I don't like the idea that everything in life has to come equipped with a moral or a disclaimer.

MtroGnome 6:39 PM  

p.s. I'm as much a "social justice warrior" as anyone, and proud to be so -- if you have to be a warrior, what better cause? Dr. King called himself a "drum major for justice," which is pretty much the same idea. Yeah, I'm an old white guy . . . but I've marched with Take Back the Night, I've taken to the streets in front of abortion clinics to make sure they're not besieged by anti-choice fanatics, I've demonstrated against the war[s] in the Middle East, and I have proudly taken to the streets alongside/in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter demonstrators here in Chicago.

And guess what? I STILL stand by everything I said about language, crossword puzzles, and art/music/literature, etc. in my previous post. Not all of life needs a disclaimer in front of it, and not every expression needs to be interpreted as an ideological/moral manifesto. Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.

Cleared2Land 7:21 PM  

Loren Muse Smith: Anything? I read this blog primarily to enjoy your write-ups. I find them amusing, interesting and very often informative. I would love to hear your take on the Lolita controversy.

I kind of get the feeling that Rex's reaction was intensified by the very recent "harem" debacle. One right on the heels of the other was perhaps a tad much.

That being said, DNF'd on the GD "fies/figaro" crossing. Had the first letter as an "L" and never saw the error.

Scott 8:35 PM  

Dreadful clue, "older usage" or no. Its bad enough that I think it would've justified reworking the puzzle, but since it only required reclueing, its unfathomable that they went with the clue they used.

Teedmn 9:10 PM  

I just found this article on the New York Times' Opinion page and thought it was apt for today's discussion. My opinion is: words matter and affect the way people think so taking into account one's biases before speaking seems only prudent.

Political Correctness

Anonymous 10:21 PM  

Bravo Rex. Completely awful - and gratuitous.

Catherine 10:22 PM  

I was slogging along with this puzzle and then hit Lolitas and indeed I was just appalled. I assumed the "teases" was going to be some old fashioned word for kidding someone, poking fun at, making a mockery of, playing the fool, acting the goat, or something like that. This just stopped me in my tracks. Earlier today I read some very upsetting stuff about the "Lolita Express" -- a group of horrible rich assholes, allegedly including Donald Trump, sexually exploiting young girls. I just have to hope it's political mud slinging and not true. :-(

Atram007 10:55 PM  

If it's not something that the New York Times would publish in their paper (the REST of the paper,) it doesn't belong in the puzzle.

Can you imagine someone being described as a "Lolita" in a front page article?

I think that might cover it!

Sherri Fogelman 3:24 AM  

Amen! Love love Rex but not this rant

Sherri Fogelman 3:30 AM  

Agreed @deerfencer I don't mind the opinions I don't agree with as long as they are not trying to silence others! The first amendment seems to be lost among this crowd. Do love you Rex 😁

Z 11:00 AM  

@Chaos - You are providing too many LOL moments. Trump and Brexit both use a very old political strategy - invent a common "enemy," invoke fear of that "enemy," set oneself up as the only one who can defeat that enemy. It works as a means to gain power. We are a gullible lot. But I tend to be very Machiavellian in these matters. It is one thing to get power, quite another to keep it. Also, people remember what you do to them and theirs and you can't bribe your way out of being an asshole. The Yes vote is the worst thing that ever happened to pro-Brexit politicians and winning the nomination is ruining the Trump brand.

All you clue defenders - read carefully the comments today. Here's hoping that doing so well illuminate your thinking a little.

Kimberly 12:52 PM  

People expose a lot about themselves in how they defend their positions in this debate. Throughout history, terrifying actions have gone unchecked, inherently permitted by those who thought "it's not a big deal." Fortunately, over time, the collective cries of victims and those who learn to hear them break down the walls of ennui and ignorance. After a time, even arguments like "it's just a puzzle" start to make the majority wince, and eventually garbage like this stops appearing.

Martinski 1:03 PM  

In case you didn't get enough amens on the pointed brevity of your review, Rex, allow me to add mine here. I gave up on the puzzle as soon as I discovered that answer. Repulsive, and it colored the entire solving experience for me. Thanks too for the link to the Slate article.

Unknown 3:37 PM  

Rex, I read your blog avidly and do the puzzle every day despite my irritation at the app price, and this the first time I am commenting: to salute your response to the hideous Lolita clue. Thank you.

Anonymous 11:47 AM  

Thank you, Rex. An accurate and brave stand.

Mike Locascio 9:11 AM  

I enjoyed this puzzle. Cheated on only 3 clues.

gold freak 10:26 AM  

You can say oriental as long as you are not referring to a person. A person is Asian, an object is oriental.

Burma Shave 11:39 AM  


LOOKOUT for ONEMAN’s call, we CANBERRA word like LOLITAS.


spacecraft 11:39 AM  

I cannot for the life of me understand all this uber-sensitive reaction to a PERCEIVED--NOT INTENDED!--offense. Come on, people! Grow a hide, for cryin' out loud! God, if I hadn't, cruel remarks would have DESTROYed me decades ago! GET OVER IT! MOVE ON!!

As I shall now, to the puzzle. Daunting at first--as a Friday should be--this one let me in with partial fill-ins: FANTASY____BALL and _M__OR, that lovable (NOT!) old random musical key. I was held up for the longest time by a single off-letter: my clout was a SWAt. Couldn't figure out what torpedo was with ___TROT. This blocked my way into the NW, which yet again proved to be most stubborn.

When I had enough for *something*BRACKET, I was flummoxed. OK, they're BRACKETs. What could go in front of that? Turns out, eventually, that it's SQUARE. Man, that paint is so green it could hide in a forest! SQUAREBRACKET. Absurd. Well now, as I look down at the key, I see another bracket set in the caps; it is NOT square. So maybe that one's OK. Still looks weird, though.

A similar one-letter gaffe in the SE created another setback, this one not so long. I get my Dakotas and my LAKOTAs mixed up all the time. Sorry about that, Heros.* In the end, all was made right, and I learned a new body of water: the SULUSEA. You go, George Takei! Triumph factor is once again high; the RMK at 12-down detracts, but the neighboring HOS elicited a laugh (what, no offense here?). Eagle.

*Uber-tough clue for Crazy Horse

rondo 1:02 PM  

Well, it was apparently clued differently in my syndiland St. Paul Pioneer Press. I suppose Pitchfork Nation would have REALLY gone ballistic over the clue “Young teases”. Wonder who made THAT change? Have to admit I was surprised at the time and also surprised when I came here and found it was not the same as the original. Knew right off it would cause a stir. But to answer someone above, and for what it’s worth, the NYT HAS used the word LOLITA in a headline: http://www.nytimes.com/2006/04/14/movies/in-hard-candy-an-internet-lolita-is-not-as-innocent-as-she-looks.html First page of a google search. I just do the puz for a solve and keep the gray matter alive, not to find or to make a statement.

The puz – had the same SWAt as @spacey, and the NW from just-learned STUPA on up to TATTLE was a bear. Felt like I was up the YAZOO without a paddle, or maybe in the SULUSEA. Also looked at my keyboard to see what was next to the backslash. Does that make it a DNF? LAKOTA is a gimme in these parts.

The MEAT’S a brisket at a TEXASBBQ.

Used to always get the latest ALBUM by the BOSS. That’s ONEMAN who can bring it.

Rearrange LIARLIAR and you get two of the crossing RIALS.

Last class in college was Music Appreciation (to cruise out on) where we learned of motets. Otherwise, I might have thought a motet was a kind of wine or something. College education really pays off.

Sue Lyon must be the yeah baby of the day, just because of you know what. James Mason always creeped me out, no matter which role.

With all that, and FLASHERS and HOS to boot, I was most squeamish with EPIDURAL. This puz was a good challenge for the aforementioned gray matter.

rain forest 2:14 PM  

I actually didn't see an endorsement or approval of child molestation in the puzzle. Perhaps my eyes are tone deaf. More to the point, I solved (did!) a crossword puzzle, got the offending entry from crosses, and moved on. Which @Spacey advised us to do. And so I did and do.

Good puzzle. Tough, but fair. After many minutes of trying to find *something*, I was lucky to just guess TAX CUT, which led to TEXAS-something. Somehow, I stumbled onto ANAPOLIS, a total "what's that?" answer, and then went relatively smoothly through the rest.

Two unexpected pleasures: being spared another rant, and having the knowledge that crossword puzzles can be a force for good.

Sailor 4:45 PM  

I say again: The Slate article is worth a read, but equally important, for perspective, are the comments on that article. Herewith, as teasers, a few excerpts (fair-use doctrine applies):

"As a feminist, let me say this: keep your sanctimonious, hypersensitive hands off the NYT crossword puzzle."

"As a woman, I'm outraged by the subtitle of this blog. Ridiculous crap like this is most certainly not what I think about."

'“Exasperated comment from a feminist.” Answer: MEN" Okay, I smiled at this one. I'm a feminist, and I say this sometimes. Mostly in mock-exasperation, though, because I have a sense of humor.'

"I remember a time when Slate was run by Michael Kinsley and it was a highly respected magazine filled with actual journalism."

PS: I enjoyed the puzzle, found it a little tougher than medium-challenging, thought the eco-consciousness of of the clue for 1D nicely balanced the slight SJ tone-deafness of 41D kitty-corner across the grid 8-)

Waxy in Montreal 5:11 PM  

Interesting insight into the mindset of whoever responds to prime time criticism of puzzle clues in believing that our syndiclue for 41D - "Young teases" - is somehow an upgrade from "Teases, in older usage".

The term AVIATRIX was always used to describe Amelia Earhart, never the awkward AIRWOMAN.

DNF today due to the NW corner where I confidently fell for the SAO PAULO / ST. PAUL misdirection. In desperation, even tried to expand BELEM into 8 letters due to its similarity to SALEM. Familiar with ANACONDA in a Brazilian context but not ANAPOLIS. TEXASBBQ didn't help either.

On balance, an excellent puzzle to TOP OFF the week.

Diana,LIW 6:34 PM  

By mid-morning I was sure of two things. 1) I will never play in the Super Bowl. 2) I would not finish this puzzle without help. From my trusty world map -hello SUSUSEA - to just plain old looking at some PPP answers that have never entered my cranium.

That's when a puzzle turns into a learning experience - I often think I'll begin a list of new words, but have not as yet.

One of the things I didn't want to learn was that some people call "young teases" Lolitas. As clued, either way, it is victim blaming. I'm glad I never heard anyone actually say that.

Thanks, @Teedmn, for the article.


leftcoastTAM 8:18 PM  

Had a very hard time getting a decent foothold, took along break, then pecked away at it until it took some shape.

Moved along pretty well until the mid-West, where the SULUSEA and SQUAREBRACKET stopped me. (I solve in pen and ink, not on a keyboard, so couldn't cheat on the latter even if I wanted to, and didn't know the sea.)

Garlic for GIBLET and Che for TRU made things worse.

NAGASAKI-DESTROY proximity was disturbing.

Not enjoyable, but a solid Friday challenge.

rondo 10:15 AM  

@Waxy - if you meant my comment, it's pretty clear that I didn't think it was an "upgrade".

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