Iron Man's love interest / MON 9-26-16 / Protein rich vegan staple / Old-fashioned address organizer / Chips popcorn in commercialese / Classic comedy set at fictional Faber College

Monday, September 26, 2016

Constructor: Timothy Polin

Relative difficulty: Medium (normal Monday)



THEME: STUFF IT (38A: "Shut up already!" ... or what you can do to the start of the answer to each starred clue) — things you stuff:

Theme answers:
  • PEPPER POTTS (17A: *Iron Man's love interest)
  • PILLOW TALK (26A: *Intimate chitchat)
  • TURKEY TROT (52A: *Annual Thanksgiving Day run)
  • STOCKING CAP (60A: *Knit headwear that may have a tufted ball at its end)
  • ANIMAL HOUSE (11D: *Classic comedy set at the fictional Faber College)
  • OLIVE BRANCH (25D: *Offer of reconciliation)
Word of the Day: PEPPER POTTS
Virginia "Pepper" Potts is a fictional supporting character and romantic love interest appearing in books published by Marvel Comics, in particular those featuring Iron Man. Created by writer Stan Lee and artist Don Heck, she first appeared in Tales of Suspense #45 (September 1963). // In 2007, she joined the Fifty State Initiative under the codename Hera. In 2009, after being given her own suit of armor by Tony Stark, she assumes the identity of Rescue, which lasted until the 2012 storyline "The Future". // The character is portrayed by Gwyneth Paltrow in the films Iron Man, Iron Man 2, The Avengers and Iron Man 3. (wikipedia)
• • •

Today has been surreal (I'm writing this on Sunday). It's my blog's 10-year anniversary, so, you know, there's that. Then I wake to find out that one of the most vibrant young players in the Majors, Miami's Jose Fernandez, died in boating accident. Big, exuberant, off-the-charts talented, headed for a Hall-of-Fame career. Refugee, immigrant, Cuban-American hero. Dead. So I cried and walked in the woods and saw a massive hawk just sitting on the power line over my car, which somehow helped. Then I decided to sit and watch an entire baseball game (which I haven't done but once or twice all season). It was the Phillies / Mets, and the last home game of the season for the Mets, who are in a tight race with the Cardinals and Giants for one of the two wildcard playoff spots, and thus need every win they can get. And they win. Boy do they win. They win so bad, the commentators start making football score jokes. "And with that field goal by Reyes, the Mets go up 15-0," etc. Ends up a 17-0 shutout—the most lopsided shutout in franchise history. Elsewhere in the majors, the Astros' Yuri Gurriel becomes the first player in over 40 years to hit into four double-plays in a single game (last was Joe Torre in '75). Then the Red Sox pitchers combined to strike out 23 (!!!) Rays in 10 innings, including, at one point, an MLB record 11 straight. And then lastly, but not leastly, the baseball yin to the morning's baseball yang—Vin Scully calls his final game from Dodger Stadium, after sixty-&%*^ing-seven years of calling games. And the Dodgers win in an extra-innings walk-off. Unreal. What does this have to do with crosswords? I don't know. Nothing, I guess, except for MY LOVE for what I do and my deep respect for people who love what they do and do it brilliantly, enthusiastically, passionately.


This was a nice way to start my second puzzle-blogging decade. A fine revealer, a grid crammed with solid themers and totally reasonable fill. Not sure how I feel about SNAX (the spelling, I mean ... I love snacks)—not sure that "X" was worth it, especially considering you've already got one in the grid—but overall, not too much gunk. I am almost (but not quite) embarrassed to say that despite the fact that I teach a course on Comics, I had *no idea* about PEPPER POTTS. Marvel ... not really my thing. Well, I like the new Ms. Marvel OK, and Kelly Sue DeConnick's Captain Marvel was good too. Hawkeye is usually decent. Oh, and Ta-Nehisi Coates' Black Panther is definitely worth checking out. But most of the mainstream Marvel universe, which includes its movies, hasn't held any interest for me. So PEPPER POTTS slowed me down pretty bad. So did my CRUDE-for-CRASS mistake (23D: Lacking refinement). Had me all flummoxed, wondering if 32A: Unsettle feeling was ANGST (it's AGITA). Yikes. Lots of sliding around in the WNW. And yet somehow I still broke 3 minutes, which is normal Monday time. (For perspective: Ten years ago, my goal was to break 5 on a Monday) So ... onward, I guess. And goodbye Vin Scully. And R.I.P Jose Fernandez.


Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

P.S. apparently Arnold Palmer just died. This day, I swear...

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]

68 comments:

Gregory Nuttle 12:06 AM  

I'm just happy to hear that Rex's normal Monday time ten years ago is about what my normal Monday time is now, so I have a ten year baseline to work for.

George Barany 12:11 AM  

Amen, @Rex, what a day! Bonus points to whoever is the first to post the quintessential Arnold Palmer anecdote.

ICYMI, a special puzzle (11 rows x 12 columns, late-week difficulty clues) for a special occasion: http://www.xwordinfo.com/Solve?id=28175&id2=677, or try this direct link. This version is revised slightly from what I posted yesterday just before noon EDT, and incorporates suggestions from @Chris Adams, @Ralph Bunker, and @Noam Elkies.

I too enjoyed @Timothy Polin's very Monday-esque puzzle, and especially appreciated the interlocking theme entries along with the nice reveal. Bravo to the puzzle, along with @Rex's review as the blog enters its second decade.

jae 12:21 AM  

Medium for me partly because I also @Rex had CRude before CRASS and it took me way too many precious nanoseconds (@m&a) to unsnafu it. Plus I dyslexicified (not sure that is really the verb form) 43a as "Goes with out" and tried to make SanS work.

Fun theme, smooth grid, liked it.

Mr. Fitch 1:00 AM  

An OK puzzle, I'd say. I wasn't so sure about the cluing for SPAR ("Shadowboxing"). Isn't Shadowboxing done solo (i.e. boxing shadows), while sparring requires a partner? They seem like different activities to me. And BUSHWA? It's a real thing, but feels obscure for a Monday. I'd never heard of the term.

Pete 1:01 AM  

1 - Personal: Congratulations on, & many thanks for, the 10 years (well, thanks only for last 9 or so years, I was late to the party)
2 - Puzzle related: PILLOWS are innately stuffed, they aren't things that can be stuffed. Étoilé seems a bit much for Monday, SNAX sux.
3 - Fragility / nobility of humanity - Today at an outdoor art/antique thingie I saw several 60+yo parents with their adult children, all with obvious mental handicaps - parents just taking them out on a beautiful day for some sun, some exercise, some entertainment. Children that would never fulfill the hopes or dreams that all parents have of children (or they wouldn't have children), yet loved even more-so. Then, because I am who I am, I wondered at the terror they must experience as they have, at best, 10 more years of being able to take care of these children, and who knows what follows for them. I also saw two pieces of genuine art - works that effectively depicted an aspect of life in a clear and, in this case massively, upsetting, way. Technically they were crude, though not CRASS, but the most evocative works I've seen in years. I'm also pretty sure they were part of an art therapy class at the local insane-asylum.

SactoMatt 1:10 AM  

Que en paz descance, Jose. Inspiring immigrant story and an amazing talent.
Agree wholeheartedly with OFL's appreciation of talent, commitment and passion. Reminds me of Arnold Palmer, RIP

Larry Gilstrap 1:53 AM  

I agree with OFL that this Sunday in early fall was rife with surreal elements. What will tomorrow hold? Although they cross on the grid, on the map Santa ANA and LAGUNA Beach are separated by what? maybe only Irvine. Two very different places in many ways. I have heard some sort of slangy mispronunciation of bourgeois as applied to trashy people, but I'm not certain I appreciate BUSHWA as anything I would include in my puzzle lexicon. I also agree with Mr. Fitch that it takes two to SPAR, while shadow boxing only requires back lighting.

This afternoon while driving behind the Orange Curtain, I happened to hear the last two innings of the Dodger game, their walk off extra inning division clinching victory, on field celebration, followed by Vin Scully serenading the crowd by singing "The Wind Beneath my Wings." A delightful man and a personal mentor to me for many years, although we never met.

Dr. Bunger 2:04 AM  

I am reminded of a passage from a favorite volume: "How it is I know not; but there is no place like a bed for confidential disclosures between friends. Man and wife, they say, there open the very bottom of their souls to each other; and some old couples often lie and chat over old times till nearly morning. Thus, then, in our hearts' honeymoon, lay I and Queequeg--a cosy, loving pair."

Loren Muse Smith 4:12 AM  

Yeah – I'm with Rex and @jae on the "crude" CRASS goof. And I wanted "angst," too, for AGITA.

Thanks, @George for mentioning the interlocking themers. I always appreciate that feat.

For some reason, stuffed PEPPERS don't do a thing for me. Maybe I've never had a proper one. I do like me a stuffed artichoke.

@Pete - I dunno – I used to sew and have made my share of PILLOWs. I had to stuff'em before I hand-sewed those last little openings.

I thought of a stuffed shirt, though. Now that's something that you don't stuff. Those guys seem to come ready-stuffed.

And we won't mention my first middle school dance. The one where I wore my new form-fitting shirt I had to have from The Rag Bag at Northlake Mall where all the cool girls shopped. (I should've still been shopping at the girls' department at JC Penney.) Hey, Mom. Do we have any more Kleenexes? This box is empty… Ahem.

I'm still not sure about EX STAR. A "former" celebrity feels like the transition was gradual, like he faded into the sunset. And EX STAR feels like he shot himself out of a cannon from fame to disgrace. BAD EGG, SIN, ABUSE, MESSES.

"Breaks you wish would end" – ADS. Well. Yes. Didn't we start *paying* for cable back in the day and rationalized it by understanding that there wouldn't be commercials? I don't have satellite radio, but I imagine ADS are sneaking in there, too. Seems I heard some when I had a freebie SiriusXM month in a new car once.

Rex – I don't follow baseball at all, so I had no idea. How terrible that that happened.

Timothy – great start to the week.

John Child 5:39 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
John Child 5:42 AM  

@Loren: how sad that stuffed peppers aren't your thing. I haven't had one in a while, but they were comfort food when I was small, like mac n cheese or a PB&J. My mom wouldn't have done anything more complicated than this. Drain the fat out of the pan after browning the hamburger.

I liked this puzzle just fine. It was hard for a Monday here, but that's a compliment, not a complaint. Theme-dense and clean. Except AGITA, I'm looking sideways at you.

John Child 5:45 AM  

Drat! @Loren: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/16330/stuffed-peppers/

Lewis 5:47 AM  

I like the O under ALP to make the dog food, and both touching SNARL. I like the collection of appealing answers: BUSHWA, ROLODEX, OLIVE_BRANCH, TURKEY_TROT, AGITA. The puzzle felt smart and junk-shy. Mondays are targeted to new solvers, and I believe it is good for them to be exposed to a few un-Mondayish words (AGITA, ETOILE, BUSHWA) to tickle their appetite for more. I like the cross of PILLOW_TALK and STORK; sometimes one leads to the other, no?

All in all, an excellent Monday puzzle, with the right stuff.

Hungry Mother 5:49 AM  

I did a lot of downs today, usually an indication of a bit of crunch in an early week puzzle.

Anonymous 6:15 AM  

Nice puzzle, but BUSHWA seems like a crazy outlier to me.

Glimmerglass 7:02 AM  

Easy puzzle. I missed all the traps that caught @Rex. Watched the Red Sox game. Ortiz was visibly upset by the death of Jose Fernandez. The poor old Rays will be talking to themselves all winter about the way Pedroia scord the winning run!

kitshef 7:20 AM  

Hand up for CRude before CRASS, plus growL before SNARL.

Super Monday puzzle - more bite than usual. A nice first day back from Namibia.

NCA President 7:41 AM  

Has anyone who does the mini puzzle notice how often answers cross over? Today it was ARAB and EMAIL(S). Seems like everyday there is some kind of commonality. I wonder if that is done intentionally?

Only two snags today: the first was growL for SNARL. The second was PEPPERPOTTS...which I filled in almost completely by crosses until I got to the S in BUSHWA. I don't know what BUSHWA is either. S seemed to be the only possible answer, so the snag there was more like a hiccup.

Otherwise, pretty much everything I wrote in from the gitgo. I even just entered TURKEYTROT in without even being sure what it was...I just saw Thanksgiving and race...hmmm....must be Turkey Trot.

Well, gotta trot...busy day ahead.


Aketi 7:54 AM  

Hahaha, the crossword app went wonky this morning and claims I solved it in 29 seconds, I think it was really about 18 minutes,

Shadowbox:SPAR = acrostic:crossword puzzle
SNARLing to myself over the notion that one could equate shadow boxing with sparring.

Seems like there are lots of things that could have been STUFFED in this puzzle, I once did have a ROLODEX that was stuffed and sat on my desk for many years after it became irrelevant, Now I have one whole EMAIL account that is STUFFED full of junk mail. I always succumb to the request for an email address when shopping, but at least now I can direct them to the account that has become my junk box. I once tried unsubscribing from all the junk but it only escalated the influx. Besides the ability to periodically PURGE the contents of account by pressing the delete all button is so satisfying.

The puzzlie made me hungry for deviled EGGS, which I suppose could be considered ReSTUFFED.

@Rex, instead of reading the blog yesterday, I created a tribute in Minecraft. Granted it is an acrostic, but it look two long subway rides to Brooklyn and back and two episodes of my husband's current chice for our Sunday British crime show drama to complete a 15x15 grid. I blame it on the Mine Craft sheep and pigs kept getting in the way. Finished the letters this am.

GILL I. 8:08 AM  

But can you STUFF Ta-Nehisi?
ETOILE...I see that word and all I can think of is the closing of ETOILE restaurant at Domain Chandon - Napa Valley or Charles de Gaulle-ETOILE. Of course, a prima ballerina is a star and she should be.
@Loren...I'm with you. Stuffed PEPPERs don't tickle my tummy. The green ones are a bit gassy and probably give you the TURKEY TROTs.
If you STUFF a BAD EGG with TOFU you might pay the PRIX, MY LOVE.
WEEDY nice puzzle TP. DAS good.

Roo Monster 8:27 AM  

Hey All !
Dang, Rex, sounds like you had an odd, weird, strange, but in a good way, day. And to continue the surrealness, tonight we have the First Debate of two candidates that our local newspaper describe as "the two most deeply unpopular presidential candidates in modern history." And people pissed off that it's the same time as Monday Night Football. Man, what a wacky coupla days. Also the outpouring of goodness on yesterblog. No haters yesterday. I do admire how you shrug off the negativity-ness of some people.

As for todays puz, Things that get Stuffed. There's a joke in there somewhere... Liked the crispness of some answers today, actually had you thinking instead of auto-filling. Not happy about EXSTAR, though. SNAX I can live with, but maybe clue EXSTAR as Post-novae, or some such.

Had idee for PRIX. I'm sure idee fixe has nothing to do with food...

The STUFF IT revealer was neat. Relatable words, CRASS, AGITA, BUSHWA (cool word, BTW), SNARL, DEBASED, EMAIL :-) .

STORK DORK
RooMonster
DarrinV


QuasiMojo 8:42 AM  

Was hoping "Stuffed Shirt" would show up. I agree about pillows not really being stuffed. Never heard of Bushwa but sounds right. :) Especially in politics. Sorry to hear about so many losses. We have a drink dispenser at our local cafe that is filled with "Arnold Palmer" to quote one of the baristas. She had no idea who he was but perhaps today she'll glance at the paper (unlikely) and see his obituary. He was definitely an esteemed staple of my youth, even though I found watching golf on TV about as exciting as stuffing envelopes for the local charity fundraiser.

Cassieopia 8:46 AM  

Seeing a hawk perched *anywhere* will lighten a load.

Nancy 9:11 AM  

I avoided the CRUDE instead of CRASS mistake, because I already had the ---TA at 32A, and therefore knew it would be AGITA, and therefore knew it would be CRA--. But I probably would have avoided it anyway. I tend to quickly check crosses before writing anything in when, there's any doubt, and the CRUDE/CRASS choice has raised its boorish head before.

Was there anything in this puzzle that either tickled or challenged me? Not at all.

Alec Schwartz 9:36 AM  

About Rex's average time:

I've been doing the NY Times puzzles off and on for the better part of 35 years -- and very consistently for the past 10. My times and finish rate have improved over the last decade and now my average Monday time is around 5 minutes and I can routinely finish most daily puzzles (but not always a Saturday) and my average Sunday time is under 45 minutes, I give you this background not to brag -- my times are pretty average I think -- but because over the past few months I've taken to also go back in the archive provided with the NY Times App and have been solving older (1994) puzzles. Quite simply, the puzzles were significantly harder then. There are occasional Monday's that I can't solve and I struggle mightily with Wednesday through Saturday. Not only are my average times significantly higher on these earlier puzzles, but my DNF rate is much, much higher. I thought that perhaps this was because my pop culture knowledge (which is poor by today's standards) was simply non-existant for 22 years ago -- but that's not what I struggle with. It's simply that basic English vocabulary that appeared 22 years ago was more obscure than today.

Curious if anyone else has had a similar experience?

Mohair Sam 9:45 AM  

To us it seemed like a mix of Monday and Wednesday cluing, so it played tough in this house. Great theme however, so we liked it.

Tragic doesn't begin to describe the loss of Jose Fernandez. Watched him pitch many times against my Phillies. His manager's comments yesterday that Jose played the game with the enthusiasm of a Little Leaguer nailed it. And only 24 years old. The loss of Palmer is sad too, but easier to bear because it's in its season.

Rex Mentioned Vin Scully doing his last home game last night. Vin's voice calling Dodger games (Brooklyn in my case) is a last link to boyhood. A long and sad goodbye Vin.

@Loren - @John Child has steered you well on the STUFFED PEPPER recipe. But take an extra can of tomato sauce, heat it, and bury the stuffed peppers in it when they're on your plate. Trust me on this.

chefbea 10:02 AM  

Easy Monday puzzle...all the foos that you stuff - Peppers, olives, Turkey. So sad about the baseball player, and Arnold Palmer...RIP

mathgent 10:24 AM  

My solving style is similar to that of @Nancy. But like her and unlike many of the rest of us, we solve on paper and don't time ourselves. So before filling in an entry, I check one of its consonants for being a reasonable letter in the crossing entry.

I didn't do the puzzle. The Closer did and she liked it. She grew up in a Greek family and stuffed bell peppers were one of her favorite dishes. I do the cooking for the two of us and have tried to match her Yaya's stuffed peppers but can't do it.

Pete 10:28 AM  

@Loren - But, when exactly did what you were sewing make the transition from being a sack to a pillow? Before or after you stuffed it? Was the fabric & down a pillow from the moment you decided to make a pillow, when you sewed up the 2 7/8s of the sides & filled it with down, or when you hand stitched the last 1/8 of the open side and it emerged as a fully formed pillow?

Numinous 10:33 AM  

CRude for CRASS briefly. Otherwise, no glitches. This seemed pretty easy but it still took me a bit over average time. I like BUSHWA. I like AGITA. I like ETOILE. Some have argued that they are too hard for begining solvers, I disagree. The words are getable from crosses and that's part of what crosswords are all about. If that principle is too difficult for newbies to grasp then they should stick to the TV Guide crossword.

I agree @Rex, yesterday was a weird day made even weirder by the outpourings of gratitude for your sterling, nay, golden efforts over the past ten years. You present opinions, judgements, with which people either agree or disagree – sometimes bitter and vitriolic disagreements, but you are never unappreciated. You have created a community of crossword solvers who can share thoughts on the daily puzzle as well as other (more or less) related things. You have made it possible for folks to get to know each other and to create friendships. This is a truely amazing feat. I've only been around a few years but the mind boggles at the thought, given a few leap years, that this is the three thousand six hundred fifty third or fourth time you've done this or insured that it's gotten done. I have possibly worked on that many films in my life but I was A. being paid and B. incredibly bored by the end of it all. I salute you for your passion and commitment.

Hartley70 10:39 AM  

I'm with @Mohair on the stuffed pepper advice. You've gotta have enough tomato sauce to make them sing and when you do, they're pretty unbeatable in the comfort food category.

This puzzle was chock full o'theme. I always appreciate that. That thought made me remember the coffee shops all over NYC when I first moved there. Mmmm, chicken salad on white. Not bad, although Lord & Taylor made the best one with a coconut cake chaser. Stop, I'm going down a nostalgic food rabbit hole. It's those darn stuffed peppers that got me started.

Speaking of PEPPER, she's the only Marvel character I do remember because I subjected myself to the first Ironman movie and I was amazed to see Gwynneth in that role. Since then I just say no to anything Marvel-ous.

BUSHWA sounds awful. I don't care for it and I'm not a fan of AGITA either. I think Webster's should stop letting the new kids in unless they're a bit more mellifluous.

This Monday ranks a medium with me. ETOILE was a surprise and I had to work my way around the themers before opening the reveal and getting "STUFFed".

Chip Rollinson 10:40 AM  

Two "pillow talk" answers in just over two weeks? Strange.

r.alphbunker 10:41 AM  

Modified my crossword program to allow a first pass through puzzle stepping through one clue at a time and erasing the answer when I tab to the next clue so I wouldn't benefit from any crosses. All answers were saved and the results displayed at the end. I got 53 of the 78 answers correct. I got all the PPPs in the puzzle correct. I got 5 answers wrong:
ACROSS
{14. "Sweetheart"} DEARIE (MYLOVE)
{20. Mean dog sound} GROWL (SNARL)
{32. Unsettled feeling} ANGST (AGITA)
DOWN
{23. Lacking refinement} CRUDE (CRASS)
{54. Indy 500 car} PACER (RACER)

And I didn't attempt to answer 20 clues:
ACROSS
{1. Diminishes in intensity} (ABATES)
{11. Breaks you wish would end?} (ADS)
{17. *Iron Man's love interest} (PEPPERPOTTS)
{26. *Intimate chitchat} (PILLOWTALK)
{29. Old-fashioned address organizer} (ROLODEX)
{38. "Shut up already!" ... or what you can do to the start of the answer to each starred clue} (STUFFIT)
{50. Diminished in value, as a currency} (DEBASED)
{56. Copper + zinc} (BRASS)
{57. Came to light} (AROSE)
{60. *Knit headwear that may have a tufted ball at its end} (STOCKINGCAP)
{66. Stephen Colbert's Americans for a Better Tomorrow, Tomorrow, e.g.} (PAC)
{68. ___ Beach, Calif.} (LAGUNA)
DOWN
{4. Number one position} (TOPSPOT)
{10. Complete rubbish} (BUSHWA)
{12. Carpentry pin} (DOWEL)
{40. Gram or dram} (UNIT)
{47. Perpetual troublemakers} (BADEGGS)
{50. Nerd} (DORK)
{51. Prima ballerina} (ETOILE)
{58. Chips and popcorn, in commercialese} (SNAX)

I then solved the puzzle normally. Results are here

Joseph Michael 10:42 AM  

Didn't we just have SLIP INS recently? Now SLIP ONS. I think I prefer the idea of slipping my shoes ON rather than slipping IN them.

I definitely like Timothy Polin best on Mondays when I can actually complete his puzzles. Though BUSHWA, ETOILE, and AGITA hardly seem like Monday entries.

Also objected slightly to EX-STAR which I've never heard anyone say.and seems like green paint in the sense that almost anything could have an EX in front of it. Ex-butcher. Ex-baker. Ex-dork.

Otherwise the puzzle was clever and well constructed. Especially liked the pairing of ANIMAL HOUSE and BAD EGGS.

puzzle hoarder 11:10 AM  

Similar experience in the middle west to what others have noted. I compounded it with TELEDEX/ROLODEX and UTE/SUV write overs. AGITA was a help because it allowed me to see where the U belonged in ROGUE (my spelling is that bad.) BUSHWA was not a problem and ETOILE is a gimmie. Those last two words along with AGITA could pose a problem for a novice solver. None of them are to be found in my Webster's. BUSHWA is the rarest but interestingly AGITA is the only one I haven't annotated before now.
@Alex Schwartz, I've been doing the NYT puzzle since at least early 1990. I'm currently redoing the Fridays and Saturdays from 1995. I'm up to April and it's been a mixed bag. They're often easier but when they're not it's due to these rare pre-Shortz words and obscure clues for otherwise common words. These things still showed up in the 90s and my guess is he still had to appease the pre-Shortz community.

AliasZ 11:19 AM  

Surprisingly, I woke up with severe AGITA this morning. I know I didn't have any BAD EGGS nor TOFU recently. May be the excellent Greek dinner we had last night, the main course of which was stuffed tomatoes.

What a lovely theme today. The grid is stuffed full of stuffed stuff. A few other stuffable things were missed though: shirt, ballot box, grape leaves, scarecrow, envelope, etc., and my all-time favorite: Transylvanian stuffed cabbage (székely töltöttkáposzta). This Facebook page has a gallery of amazing images from the Stuffed Cabbage Festival of Parajd (Ger.: Salzberg), Székelyföld (Transylvania) this past Saturday, September 24th.

ABATES and DEBASED conflates into "debates". How fortuitous. I am curious who will take TOP SPOT: the candidate endorsed by David Duke, or the one endorsed by the Communist Party USA. Tough choice. As far as I am concerned, they can both go STUFF IT. It's all BUSHWA.

Let's TURKEY TROT instead with Little Eva.

Tita A 11:21 AM  

Congrats Rex for 10 years!!!!
And thank you. For the commentary and for all the tangents that have ensued.

Once again, looked at Rex before doing the puzzle. Dagnabbit/gashdarnit/etc.... Saw the theme - STUFFIT - can't unsee it.

Started doing the puzzle anyway. Got to 10D, Complete rubbish, with BU_____ filled in, and immediately dropped in LLSH. The theme is obviously dropping the "IT". Wow - can't believe Will would have BULLSH[IT] in a puzzle, much less in the starring role. What a hailstorm this will cause!!

Meantime, really @lms?? What an admission - you're always baring your soul here.
I'm waiting for the Mamma Mia Giallo peppers to turn completely yellow before harvesting them for STUFFED PEPPERS. Puzzspouse will grind some meat - usually pork - cook up some rice (or sometimes trendy quinoa) - then make a curry-based bechamel sauce. Mix it all up, stuff those puppies, then bake with a little water in the pan. Serve with extra sauce on the side. Yumm!
But kudos to you for handsewing that last little opening through which you crammed the STUFFing. That's the right way to do it.

Puzzle -
THought ofl wouldn't like it - not consistent enough stuffed things. You stuff a STOCKING? What, like a Christmas STOCKING? And I'm looking sideways at you, PILLOW.

But being mislead into that BULLSH[IT] themer misdirect had me laughing, so I liked it.

And @Rex - thanks for the heartfelt description of your day.

Tita A 11:28 AM  

@r.alph - I'll need to try that solve with answers hidden - seems to be a really strong indicator of how easy/hard a puzzle is to see how easily you can solve it if each answer is totally standalone.
Didn't you do something similar, simply stepping through the clues in list fashion, without the benefit of even seeing the grid?
I'm gonna try it with Tuesday's.

old timer 11:35 AM  

When I was in Junior High, my best friend informed me that BUSHWA was a variant of "bourgeois", something he knew because his parents were leftists and he was familiar with Lead Belly's "Bourgeois Blues". Inspired by a trip to Washington, D.C.

(The puzzle? Monday-normal with a touch of difficulty).

Malsdemare 11:35 AM  

When my Bourgeois ancestors came from France in 1827 (that's their name, not their status), the local clerks, priests, census takers, etc in Ohio butchered the name into 40+ spellings, NONE of them BUSHWA, which would have made perfect sense, phonetically. Instead it was Boujour, Burshure, bonjour, and so on. It took three years to finally find their point of origin in Alsace. So is BUSHWA really in some way intended to refer to the pejorative Bourgeois? I've heard the term - it skews not just old but ... I don't want to say elite, but definitely not part of common parlance, even when it WAS a term.

This was a pretty puzzle, with all the themers crossing. Wanted CRude, and was hung up on ROLODEX for forever ... Kept seeing Rolexes and knew that was wrong. Brain fart!

@Rex, hawks are ubiquitous here in rural Illinois, but it used to be that any morning that I saw a deer on the way to work, I got a lift; ah, it shall be a good day! It often wasn't but at 6:30 am on the way to teach an 8 o'clock, optimism was good. I don't follow baseball - and in our house, it's Cubbies and Reds - but the death of anyone at 24, a guy doing what he loves and doing it well, is awful. Arnie is sad, but okay; Jose is tragic.

Masked and Anonymous 11:59 AM  

Whoop-ass 71 squares of theme material, includin the clever revealer. And MonPuz-level (but kinda jazzy) fill, too boot. This constructioneer made it all look easy, but that ain't what it's gonna be, to build this puppy. Nice weeject stax in each and every corner. 6 U's. SNAX and PRIX. BUSHWA and DORK. Fun stuff (so to speak). Wise-guy 1-Down clue, right outta the chute. There's yer championship rodeo. thUmbsUp.

fave weeject: SHH. Could be clued with the revealer's {"Shut up, already!"}.

fave desperate-lookin stuffins:
* TBSPS. 5-letter plural abbr. Crisp.
* EXSTAR. day-um. Used twice, in NYTPuz history. Twice this same month. By the same constructioneer!
* ETOILE. French. French ballet. 38-Across. But, M&A has no taste.

I have a theory that the best way to attract new crossword solvers is not with a moo-cow-easy MonPuz. It's with this here kinda MonPuz. With some humor and edge built into it. More cowbell. Speakin of which…

fave moo-cow eazy-E MonPuz clue: {"No ___, ands or buts"} = IFS.

Thanx, Mr. Polin. Fun stuff, it.
Cool write-up, @RP. Does yer Comics course contain a chapter on Carl Barks?

Masked & Anonymo6Us


**gruntz**

mac 12:21 PM  

Good Monday, and I also started with crude before crass. How come I have never seen bushwa before? I did wonder when the answer started with BU...

Congratulations and thank you, Rex!

I wonder if the stuffed pepper haters would like them better if the pepper was the milder red, orange or yellow one. The green one is pretty harsh.

Sir Hillary 12:58 PM  

Yes, very sad (for different reasons) sports deaths bookending yesterday's news.

Today's puzzle creaks in the SE (ETOILE, SNAX, EXSTAR) under the weight of all the theme material, but overall I wish all Mondays were this good.

PAR is a fitting final entry given Arnie's passing.

Belated happy 10th, @Rex.

Teedmn 1:08 PM  

Pretty easy today, a little below my average Monday but I still had my share of write-overs. LAGUNA stuffed my BAD guyS back into their EGG shells. And since I solved clockwise, I came up the west from below and was able to use the theme to fill in OLIVE after seeing BRANCH. But I had left TOP Seed in at 4D so I had to CROP that to the correct SPOT. But having 32A end in dA meant that I never thought of Angst and SUV drove me to the correct CRASS answer - not crude at all.

Thanks, Timothy Polin (tempting to refer to you as TP since that has ARiSEn so often in puzzles of late.) Nice Monday!

@alton rockthrow - In the shadow of Boss Ridge, like a TURKEY TROT in the fridge.

GILL I. 1:21 PM  

@mac...you're right. I love stuffed piquillos with tuna. You probably had them when you were in Spain. To me, green peppers are only good in black beans!

Jim Finder 1:21 PM  

From dictionary.com": BUSHWA may have originated as a version of bourgeois, but now it's taken as one more euphemism for BS.

jae 1:29 PM  

@Alec Schwartz & puzzle hoarder - I've been doing the Saturday puzzles from 1994 and they are mostly harder than today's for some of the reasons @puzzle hoarder mentioned. I think I've had one Sat. DNF this year, but I've had 3 or 4 on the 1994 series and I'm only up to October.

Anoa Bob 1:41 PM  

Plenty of positive comments, so my saying I thought the puzz was a tad over-STUFFed, themewise, shouldn't make me look like BAD EGGS. The reveal, STUFF IT, was clued by "...what you can do to the start of the answers..." I thought this worked well with PEPPER, OLIVE & TURKEY, but less so for STOCKING. I can put things in a Christmas STOCKING called STOCKING STUFFers, but I don't really STUFF the STOCKING.

Had those four plus the reveal been it, I think it would have made for a nice balance between theme and fill. But STUFFing in two more themers, especially two that don't work at all for me, went past the point of diminishing returns.

I have never and can't imagine ever STUFFing a PILLOW. As Pete @10;28 alludes to, if you have a PILLOW, it has already been STUFFed. So that borders on nonsensical to me.

And I've never STUFFed an animal either. I know there are things called STUFFed ANIMALs, but they are not really ANIMALs that have been stuffed. I wouldn't begin to know how to, nor would I want to, STUFF an ANIMAL.

This adding extra themers at any cost seems to be part of a pattern of the last few years that values the-more-themers-the-better. Time was, three themers was the norm, and four was pushing it. Nowadays six seems to be the new three. I think this often results in some of the themers suffering from conceptual slippage, of not quite fitting the the theme's reveal as tightly as one would like or expect.

Just saying.

Masked and Anonymous 1:44 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Masked and Anonymous 1:51 PM  

p.s. & A

@mac: Mitts up for N-O-likes them stuffed peppers. And they don't like me much in return, later on, neither. PuzEatinSpouse always orders the green peppers on her side of the pizza, givin it instant "M&A Immunity". (I have been known to scrape most of em off and have at it, if desperate, tho.)

@muse: They used to point out that Groucho Marx could unstuff a shirt better than most anyone else.

@jae: yep. Them great answers that fit snug-perfect in the grid and are 50% wrong are deadly. For some historically vague reason we call such unblessed events "figs", at our house. Figs are evil nanosecond sinkholes of destruction.

@Aketi: mm-mm. Deviled eggs are the best.

@Anoa dude: Don't forget those stocking-stuffers, at Christmastime, tho. Just sayin.

@RP: yep, on death flat-out suckin. Glad that hawk came along for U, at just the right time -- mysterious how stuff like that can work out, sometimes. Sometimes U can just get pewits, tho.
Would really appreciate it, if U and the blog stuck around, for a spell longer. My fave schlock-DVD store and fave restaurant both just shut down, this month. And now my fave golfer.

@Arnie: Good round. Look forward to seein U for many more years, in the crossword puz.

M&Also

p.p.s.s
Speakin of ball-games: May the best gal win, to-nite.

deerfencer 2:07 PM  

Enjoyed the puzzle despite being clueless about Pepper Potts.

Congrats on your ten year (tin/aluminum) anniversary Rex! We've been on opposite sides of many debates here but your blog is, yes, usually passionate, and, two, rarely boring. Really enjoyed your intro reflections today; this is THE time of year to be a baseball fan for sure. Rock on!

Mr. Fitch 5:10 PM  

Yes, I did a few months of the 1994 puzzles and also found them a degree or more harder than today's equivalents. The Monday-Saturday difficulty progression didn't seem to exist, at least not in any consistent way.

I'd be curious to know the reasons behind the "dumbing-down" of crosswords. Is it that making them easier was seen as providing more entry points for less-experienced silvers and thus ensuring their enduring popularity? I'm not sure, but some of those mid-'90s puzzles are beasts.

Martín Abresch 5:13 PM  

Wow. Nice puzzle.

I thought that the six theme answers were all solid: PEPPER POTTS, ANIMAL HOUSE, PILLOW TALK, TURKEY TROT, OLIVE BRANCH, STOCKING CAP. I never felt like the theme was stretching for an answer. The puzzled nailed the revealer: STUFF IT! Seven words and 69 squares is a lot of theme material.* Despite that, the fill is good. BUSHWA (which was new to me) and ÉTOILE are a bit tough for a Monday, but they were crossed fairly. ROLODEX, TOP SPOT, and BAD EGGS were fun. I'm impressed.

*71 letters but only 69 squares due to the two vertical theme answers each crossing a horizontal theme answer.

David in CA 5:47 PM  

@Akeki and others:
Re. SPAR : Dictionary.com gives practically identical 1st definitions for spar and shadowbox, e.g.:
(of boxers) to make the motions of attack and defense with the arms and fists
No mention of need of a partner for either. Perhaps others have other definitions, but seems pretty legal to me.

@Joseph Michael : What we had I think was "STEP INS", which most people thought was pushing the boundary given the common SLIP ONS term.

@Alec Schwartz. Possibly the puzzles have just evolved and you have evolved with them, so the older ones are just more "out of your ball park" rather than actually more difficult I've been doing them regularly for ~20 years, but done no tests like yours. If anything I _feel_ like they are more difficult now because I am completely miserable at remembering names, and not interested in sports or popular entertainment, and it seems like there are more PPP and crossing PPP spots than there used to be. I also feel like the emphasis on theme has increased, which could be a + or - in a person's solving. One definite evolution is the crossing theme answers. I remember thinking a few years back "why don't they ever have down AND across theme answers" - now we seem to get them a couple times a month maybe?
So...needs more investigation! Shall we put the grant application into NSF or NIH do you think?

jberg 6:02 PM  

Once again, a stupid DNF on an easy puzzle -- I had AGITo, a legitimate musical term, but failed to check the cross on the o. Otherwise, a very nice puzzle!

@David in CA -- 'step-ins' are women's underpants in Britain, completely different thing -- which is not to say it wasn't in a puzzle, I just didn't recall it.

@alec schwartz, I'm not sure of the dates, but I think you are referring to the "Maleska era," which is sometimes mentioned disparagingly here. Eugene Maleska preceded Shortz, and placed much more emphasis on knowing obscure words. I enjoyed his puzzles, but many complain about them.

jae 6:21 PM  

@jberg - Will Shortz took over the editor job in 1993. The 1994 puzzles I've been doing are from the "Shortz era". One difference between the '94 and current day Sat. puzzles, other than tending to be more difficult, is that many of them are themed.

Bill L. 6:54 PM  

@jberg and others - step-ins and slippers were symmetrically paired in the Saturday puzzle. Step-ins was clued as (Easy shoes to put on).

Very good Monday puzzle.

mathgent 6:57 PM  

Most of us agree that Patrick Berry is a crossword genius. If any of you are in doubt, print up last Friday's WSJ crossword. It's free on their website. On Fridays they have a puzzle contest involving a meta. The puzzle itself is fine but it is the meta which is mind-blowing. The meta is explained in a paragraph published next to today's Monday puzzle, also on the WSJ website.

Z 7:04 PM  

@Alec Schwartz et alii - I'm only a month in and have been all over the place. I had a Saturday that was Monday easy and early week DNFs. I'd have to look at my notes, but it seems to me most of my problems have been trivia related. I do recall one odd pewit relative (in that Monday easy Saturday), but mostly pop culture and product names have caused me issues, not vocabulary.

Green bell peppers are just yellow, orange, and red bell peppers that were picked before they were ripe. That's why green are a little less sweet than the other colors.

jae 8:39 PM  

@Z et alii - The couple of times I checked the PPP count on the '94 Sats. it was high, close to 40.

the redanman 11:07 AM  

SPAR does not equal SHADOWBOXING

AGITA not ANGST?

BUSHWA? Rubbish, indeed.

Plus I loathe PEPPERS of the BELL kind.

UGH UGH UGH

sofarsogood 12:43 PM  

Monday, 52 Down, Cookbooks amts

It's TBLSP & TSP in my book.

Clara jonez 8:01 AM  

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spacecraft 10:59 AM  

Talk about coincidence: we're having STUFFed PEPPERs for supper tonight! But like OFL I did not know who Irony's girl was. In the WOD segment I read she was played by Gwyneth Paltrow, so I will, coincidentally, make MYLOVE Gwyneth the DOD.

Thus I slid over to the NE and began there, where after uncovering ANIMALHOUSE and PILLOWTALK, I became convinced we were dealing with movie titles. Right. Another slowdown was ETOILE: on a Monday, really? So this wasn't exactly a boulevard with timed lights all turning green. Still finished without undue time waste or AGITA, so medium is about right.

I liked it. Theme good and solid, with that little NE misdirect; fill similarly solid. TBSPS a vowelless crutchy MESS, but next door URIAH pays for it.

Sorry to report: my beloved Eagles lost in overtime to that unmentionable division rival with the stars on their helmets, so in mourning I shall abandon football-referenced grading. Back to golf: this one was a birdie.

Burma Shave 11:36 AM  

WEEDY SNAX

Say BUSHWA to that OLIVEBRANCH, a cash CROP it is NOT.
I’ll SHOW you how to make SAKS of cash – nothing ATOLL TOPSPOT.

--- URIAH “OLE” OLSEN

Diana,LIW 2:05 PM  

BUSHWA and AGITA were definitely new to me, but easy to suss out. Until recently, Trader Joe's made STUFFEDPEPPERS, and I miss them. Ground turkey and rice combo. Oh, the good 'ole days.

Found most of the puzzle on the "very easy" side, so surprised at OFL's assessment. But I've often been surprised.

Cat calleth. Must attend to.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

rondo 4:03 PM  

I has the oh so popular CRude in there before I SEES it’s gotta be CRASS. That’s all I’ve got to SHOW for w/os and inky MESSES.

For any good Minnesotan ETOILE is easy to suss since the state motto is L'Étoile du Nord or Star of the North (remember the NHL North Stars?). On our 4th grade tour of the state capitol the guide pointed out the state seal with the motto and one of the students wondered why Lestoil (a then-common household cleanser) would be in the state motto. Funny what one remembers. BTW, one of our EX(North)STARs does the color commentary on radio broadcasts of MN Wild hockey.

And another missed opportunity to clue OLE as Sven’s pal. They are featured in lotsa jokes in these parts.

PEPPERPOTTS . . . well, you know.

The band URIAH Heep was popular back in the day. Think I still have the vinyl somewhere. The eight-track ended up in tangled SNARL. Easy Livin’ . . .

Good puz. Happy Halloween. BYE BYE.

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