Jazz vocalist Carmen / TUE 10-4-16 / Nintendo character who hatches from egg / Website that investigates urban legends / Dance move added to OED in 2015 / Is romancer old-style / Rebound on pool table / Oldest of three stooges

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Constructor: Sam Buchbinder

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: LUNCH BOXES (60A: Backpack containers where you can find the ends of 17-, 23-, 38- and 47-Across) — last words of themers are things you'd find in LUNCH BOXES:

Theme answers:
  • IN THE DRINK (17A: Overboard, to a sailor)
  • MEMORY CHIPS (23A: Data storage devices)
  • KNUCKLE SANDWICH (38A: Punch in the mouth, slangily)
  • SMART COOKIE (47A: Bright sort)
Word of the Day: GENO Smith (26D: Jets quarterback Smith) —
Eugene Cyril Smith III (born October 10, 1990), better known as Geno Smith, is an American football quarterback for the New York Jets of the National Football League (NFL). He was drafted by the Jets in the second round of the 2013 NFL Draft. He played college football at West Virginia. (wikipedia)
• • •

See that MILK there at 23-Down? [Skim or 2%]—*that* shoulda been in the lunch box. DRINK is too generic and bland. HARVEY MILK—there's your non-beverage milk. You don't even have to change any of the other themers for symmetry. Just swap out HARVEY MILK for IN THE DRINK and your lunch is instantly improved, or at least more ... evocative of lunch. A kid's lunch, anyway. I wanted the "boxes" part of LUNCH BOXES to be important, to matter to the theme somehow, but no. A crossword revealer that contains "boxes" but doesn't exploit the boxiness in any way is a let-down. SIGH. Also, I'm not sure about the clue on LUNCH BOXES. What does "Backpack containers" mean. Containers that might be found in a backpack?? That is some awkward phrasing. You wouldn't call pencils "backpack writers." Not enough thought has gone into this puzzle at either the conceptual or the editorial level.

There are some nice moments, though. Love TACO TRUCKS (28D: Street vendors selling Mexican food) (wish the clue had exploited the recent "... on every corner" paranoia / fantasy that was all over social media lately). KACEY Musgraves is cool too, and SNOPES is timely in that I find myself using it all the time this election season (46A: Website that investigates urban legends). KNUCKLE SANDWICH is a worthy central grid-spanner, for sure. But too much of the fill is creaky, and the theme, besides being of a hyper-old-fashioned type, just isn't executed as cleanly, let alone dazzlingly, as it could've been.

  • 59A: With 2-Down, star of 2003's "Hulk" (ERIC / BANA) — an important name in crosswords, but awkwardly cross-referenced here, with the last name appearing first. His name isn't exciting / interesting enough to justify subjecting us to this [See 59-Across] baloney. 
  • 26D: Jets quarterback Smith (GENO) — true enough, though [Jets backup quarterback Smith] would be more accurate (at the moment)
  • 57D: Do 10 crosswords in a row, say, with "out" (NERD) — a thousand times no. First, I wince at all insidery "aren't we a clever lot" self-referential clues of this type. Second, doing 10 crosswords in a row isn't "nerding out" (whatever that is). It's training. "Nerding out" is watching 10 "Deep Space Nine" episodes in a row, or making 10 edits to the "Tardis" wikipedia page. Or so I imagine.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


David Krost 12:12 AM  

I don't think you put milk in a lunchbox because it would spoil, potentially. I think Rex gets the buzzer on that one. I do agree that the clue for lunchbox is odd and clumsy. Would have been trivial to make it better.

A perfectly serviceable Tuesday puzzle. I knew Rex would hate it. The definition of insanity... Of course if I start pointing that out to him every week I guess that makes me, well,...insane!

jae 12:14 AM  

Easy-medium for me too. It would have been just easy if I hadn't put in Im On IT before I GOT IT and paused to wonder about a nACho TRUCK.

KACEY was a WOE.

I'm not seeing much dreck, but I am seeing a couple of fine long downs and a solid/cute theme which I personally @Rex didn't have any problems with (although Jeff at Xwordinfo also had issues), liked it.

Larry Gilstrap 12:21 AM  

I live in a town where most people would welcome taco trucks, and patronize them. That pesky health department wants to intervene when someone starts up. 57A clued to demean a crossword NERD? What is Shortz thinking? Have we not souls? Do we not bleed? LUNCH BOXES should include fruit, just sayin'. (That was you Mrs. Smith.) In 2001, I rode a bike into the HAGUE, stopped at the fancy old hotel, bought the International Herald, ordered a Coca-Cola, and did the puzzle at the bar. Yes, clad in biking gear. American exceptionalism at its finest.

Two phrases that would ever leave my lips in the presence of my wife: Like OR NOT and Ready OR NOT. Makes me shudder to think about it.

Anokha 12:48 AM  

Sorry, Rex. Doing ten puzzles in a row might be NERDing out -- but I don't see it as a pejorative. Vive le Nerd!

George Barany 12:57 AM  
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SailorSteveHolt 1:27 AM  

I have never heard of PITCHES WOO. Ever. Is it of a 'certain age'? Any relation to the nearly identically spelled but much crasser phrase, or is that just a happy coincidence?

BTW lol at irony of crossword puzzle blogger claiming crosswords aren't nerdy. To be honest, it wasn't until I found Rex that I realized crossword-puzzle–players are *so nerdy* they even have their own subculture. I mean, you guys developed a nomenclature *just* as inaccessible as the gaming community's. That, my friends, is peak nerd, and doing ten crossword puzzles in a row is *definitely* NERDing out.

George Barany 2:18 AM  

Bravo, @Rex, for your review of @Sam Buchbinder's puzzle, which I solved while watching the hometown Minnesota Vikings go to 4-0 versus the NY_GIANTS (from yesterday's puzzle by @Jacob Stulberg).

Back to today's puzzle, @KACEY Musgraves was new to me, so it was especially witty of @Rex to provide a sample of her work entitled "Biscuits" (are those going into the LUNCH_BOXES too?) And wouldn't it have been delicious to include the products of those TACO_TRUCKS that we've been warned will be coming up on every corner?

@SNOPES.com has indeed debunked many a lie in the current political season [click here for a recent example]. I didn't mind seeing our USA-born President at 1-Across, but there are so many worthier examples of 31-Down ... we've had this discussion before [see the first comment to @Rex's review of the June 15, 2016 puzzle, found here, and read this devastating perspective from the Washington Post].

I'll defer to my friend--and regular @Rex contributor--@John Child to provide the backstory on the New York Times handling of the spelling of the capitol of 30-Across, the country that he now lives and works in much of the year.

Ellen S 3:59 AM  

@George Barany, thanks for the links and commentary. Wikipedia spells the Capitol of Nepal "Kathmandu" and unless I'm even more senile than I thought, so did the puzzle. Does the newspaper spell it differently, but let the (surely standard) spelling slip into the puzzle? I say "surely standard" because, I mean, it's Wikipediak Vox populi, vox Dei, right?

Ellen S 4:03 AM  

Wikipedia, not Wikipediak. I think that was supposed to be a comma. I was trying to type lying down, so as not to disturb the cat.

Loren Muse Smith 4:15 AM  

Aw, c'mon. I loved this! I had COOKIE and SANDWICH in place, worried that it'd be another STUD MUFFIN theme (who could top that beaut?), got COOKIE… and when DRINK fell, I was so sure of the deal that I filled in LUNCH BOXES without reading the clue. Fair enough, Rex. Kinda weirdly described.

And I couldn't disagree more with what you said about MILK. I have rarely if ever packed a milk in any lunch.

Hey, and if you forgot your lunch, you can just grab something from that TACO TRUCK. And did anyone else notice the TUNA right over SANDWICH?

36D – aftereffect from working out, ACHE. Speak for yourself, buddy. I always manage to big-lazy my way through any workout. Even in a spin class I can figure out how to loaf when I'm looking like I'm straining. I rarely ache the next day.

25A I GOT IT. So, nerd that I am (sorry Rex – I disagree on that, too), I sat here and thought about GOT as the only verb in the sentence. A present tense verb. Cool. Drop the auxiliary have/has. Until the third person singular. I can't drop that has/'s

you got it
*he got it
we got it
you got it
they got it

That third person singular just doesn't work the same way for me.

You taking care of that part?
Yup. I got it. Just give me a minute.


He taking care of that part?
Yup. *He got it. Just give him a minute.

There's special place in my heart for packed lunches. Before my husband and I were engaged – we were 25 – he was grabbing some vending machine nabs and a coke every day for lunch. I started packing him these over-the-top lunches (two different kinds of sandwiches, chips, drink, dessert, little toy, fruit, note…). At this point he had been running around saying,

"I'm not getting married until I'm 30. I'm serious.
No prob. Do you hear me asking for a ring? Hey – don't forget your lunch. It's those three bags there on the counter.

We were married at 26.

RAD2626 4:48 AM  

Liked the puzzle just fine although LAIC was new to me. Had LAmb for a time although a SMART bOOKIE might be helpful but not likely in a lunchbox.

@lms: Bananarama in their song Venus GOT IT correct "She's got it, oh baby, she's got it. I'm your Venus..." etc. Only time I hear I GOT IT is on a baseball diamond or when someone stumbles in an answer.

Hartley70 5:31 AM  

I think the difficulty level of this Tuesday is ridiculously inconsistent. There are entries that I would stick on an additional day at the end of the week like PITCHESWOO and CATT. At the other end of the spectrum, we are given MARIE Antoinette, TED Cruz, and BONA fide. They would not be out of place on a middle school social studies worksheet. MARIE as clued, especially, does not belong in a NYT crossword puzzle. Seriously!

The theme was Tuesday cute, so I thought it appropriate. I disagree with Rex on MILK. In my day you bought your milk in the school cafeteria. You didn't try to put it in your LUNCHBOX. Yuck, warm milk! Today it's all about the juice BOX. Even a cold pack wouldn't keep that milk chilled enough for my taste.

And now I come to my final outrage. Where is my Sam Cooke moment? I suppose Rex's comment yesterday was an inside joke that went over my head. Whoosh! I was hoping for "That's It. I Quit. I'm Movin' On".

Hungry Mother 6:22 AM  

Mostly did the downs today and cruised right through it.

Evan Jordan 6:34 AM  

Could not get IN THE DRINK. Didn't know that it, nor "Overboard" were sailor terms for... well, I still don't know what they are. Does it mean being drunk or falling in the ocean? SIGH... guess I'll google it. ZZZzzzz.

Evan Jordan 6:58 AM  

Okay, fellow landlubbers: "In the DRINK" means overboard a ship, in the actual ocean. Overboard does not mean "in the BOTTLE" as in "drunk". Though obviously one could say "he went a little overboard" about someone else's drinking the same way one could say anything was taken too far by using "overboard" its figurative sense.

Lewis 7:10 AM  

A simple yet clever (has this ever been done before?) theme packed with care in a very clean grid, like food in a lunchbox.

I liked the SWAT resting atop the KNUCKLE_SANDWICH, the backwards PARTS crossing MEMORY_CHIPS, and the ASKS out. I felt too many of the clues were Monday-easy. On Tuesday we need more grit than Monday, and not the grit that comes from answers out of the knowledge base, but from slightly tricker cluing than can't-miss simple definitions or obvious fill-in-the-blanks.

Nonetheless, the brain workout, and jogging memories of my lunchbox days -- from seeing PBJ sandwiches as I saw them and reacted to them as a child (OMG how I loved them!) to the day I dropped my Thermos, shattering the glass inside -- makes me grateful for this puzzle. Thanks, Sam!

Andrew Goodridge 7:12 AM  

I liked it overall, but can any computer gurus help me understand what doesn't feel quite right about the clue for MEMORY CHIPS (Data storage devices?)? When I think MEMORY CHIPS, I immediately think of RAM, which is not really a "device," is it? When I hear device, I think of cell phones and tablets and such. I guess if you want to stretch it, a flash drive or external HD could be a device, though I don't think I'd refer to those as memory chips. Again, I'm not saying the clue is incorrect. I'm just wondering if someone who is more tech savvy than I am could confirm/deny that the clue feels at least a tiny bit awkward.

M. David Hornbuckle 7:44 AM  

Nerding out isn't really a thing. The phrase people use is "geeking out."

chefbea 7:48 AM  

Fun puzzle. I knew pitching woo but never heard of Catt or Geno Smith.

mathgent 7:55 AM  

Liked the comments here about packed lunches. My mother made me a great one every day until I went to college (my Jesuit high school didn't have a cafeteria). My favorite in grade school was chopped olives with lots of mayo on white bread.

I think that Rex was trying to like the puzzle but couldn't explain why, so he came up with weak reasons to dislike it. I'm in the same position. Liked KNUCKLESANDWICH and PITCHESWOO, didn't like THIS ends here. Only one amusing clue ("Getting into a gray area?). Was wavering between C minus and C when I noticed that there were only 11 Terrible Threes. C it is.

Anonymous 7:58 AM  

What, no veggies? Ugh to IGOTIT.

Cassieopia 8:05 AM  

Thank you for the link to the Petri piece - it's OMG good!

Anonymous 8:05 AM  

I Kept thinKing that something would be made out of all the quirKy Ks .... but that seemed to go nowhere.

Agree with some of the outliers (Catt, Geno) but otherwise Kute ;-D


mac 8:19 AM  

Easy puzzle, except for "pitches woo". Morae sounded reasonable.
A real Tuesday.

Mohair Sam 8:31 AM  

So my plan for Saturday night was to surprise Lady Mohair with a bottle of cabernet, a small block of edam cheese, and about a dozen Patrick Berry themeless puzzles. Sounded like the perfect evening to me. You ruined that Sam Buchbinder, thanks a lot.

Yeah Rex, I've got friends on both political extremes and I'm wearing out SNOPES too. It is amazing what people will believe. But with these two candidates I'm sometimes amazed by what is true.

MILK as part of the theme, Rex? I'm betting you don't pack a lot of lunch pails.

Fun puzz for sure - PITCHESWOO out of a Jean Arthur movie, but TWERK and SNOPES bring us right up to date. Great mix. Liked it a lot.

John Child 8:33 AM  

For years - geez, forever I guess - the NYT insisted on spelling Kathmandu as Katmandu. Microsoft's spellchecker also had the second spelling, perhaps following the Times' lead.

The spelling without an H is an historical error of the British Raj centuries ago. No one in Nepal ever used that transliteration of the name; that second consonant is a different letter in Devanagari script than a plain "T."

It takes a long time to turn an oil tanker they say, and HMS Gray Lady is no different. In May 2015 the Times conceded the point and changed spelling. The article about the change here makes it sound like there was strong rationale for using the Katmandu spelling in modern times. I don't buy it. Look at he Google Ngram comparing use of the two spellings over time Here. As you can see there is and has been for all of the years that Nepal has been part of the modern world one preferred spelling for its capital. (FYI Nepal was closed to foreigners until the early 1950s.)

TomAz 8:37 AM  

"Second, doing 10 crosswords in a row isn't "nerding out" (whatever that is). It's training. "

The gentleman dost protest too much, methinks.

Alysia 8:45 AM  

Sorry, but no (well, YES, but still no)... http://www.msnbc.com/nerding-out



Charles Flaster 8:50 AM  

Liked Rex review and felt puzzle was easy even for a Tuesday.
Sixty years ago when I heard of a KNUCKLE SANDWICH, I cracked up and still love it today.
YUAN is so crosswordEASE.
Write over STRAP for SsRAP.
Liked TUNA over SANDWICH and BOWE crossing BOX. Would have liked to see AMOS over COOKIE.
Thanks SB

kitshef 8:51 AM  

@Loren Muse Smith: Neil Diamond, Cherry Cherry - "She got the way to move me, she got the way to groove me". Also, He Got Game was a Spike Lee film in the late '90s.

@Rex way too hard on this one. I disagree with almost every criticism but especially milk - in a lunchbox? Ewwww.

A lot of hard (for a Tuesday) stuff: IONE, MCRAE, and KALEY all WoEs (but well crossed), and I imagine GENO and ERIC BANA and CATT will cause some issues for folks.

A ton of four-letter names today: CATT, AMOS, IONE, ADAM, ERIC, OTIS, GENO, BANA, MOHS, BOWE. Clue POSH as Spice Girl, OPUS as Bloom County resident, MILK as SF Mayor, and MINK as John Waters movie regular Stole, and we could have had four more.

jberg 8:53 AM  

The old, adult lunchboxes had a curved top that held a thermos, great way to keep your milk cold. But I don't get the backpack part--don't you carry them by their little handles? Or am I living in the past?

@SailorSteve and others, for pitching woo see this song from "Kiss Me Kate."

Anonymous 9:05 AM  

The Times still spells Hannover with one "n", so it's not an authority.

QuasiMojo 9:17 AM  

My "memory" of "chips" is of Erik Estrada! I agree Rex. Nerd does not connote, to me at least, crossword puzzle enthusiasm. That's brainy or eggheady perhaps, but nerds spend their time, stereotypically speaking, doing science projects while watching Bill Nye incessantly, or shopping for pocket sleeves for their pencil sets. Nerds in my day did not use backpacks. Nor, for that matter, did schoolchildren. Lunch boxes were exactly that. They were boxes you brought to school, often with the Flintstones or Yogi Bear or Barbie on the cover. Laborers of course had their steely ones, either metallic or white, which they filled with peanut butter and jelly, or egg salad, sandwiches, and very often a pint of milk. I have never owned a backpack and wish they had never become popular. People who wear them have no idea how rude they are being when they shove them into your face while standing on a bus or on a train or using them as battering rams in reverse while standing their ground in an airplane aisle. If Clinton had been a "smart cookie" he would have lived up to his promise to remove the ban on gays in the military and not have imposed "don't ask, don't tell" which will go down in history as one of the most inane and detrimental policies ever. What a "pity."

Morgan Doocy 9:29 AM  

This was one of those infuriating puzzles that was shaping up to be my fastest-ever solve (for the day of week), until unusually-difficult crossed answers conspired to put it well above average. Things I've never heard of:

- CAROM (wtf?)
- Carrie Chapman CATT (crossed with CAROM)
- PITCHES WOO (wtf?)
- TERP (wtf? crossed with PITCHES WOO)
- BOWE Riddick (or is it Riddick BOWE? crossed with WENDS, which could easily be WiNDS instead as clued)

In other words, about 85% Monday, 10% Tuesday, 5% Saturday/WTF. Frustration!

Z 9:32 AM  

Geez-O-Pete people, do we not get when OFL is joking? First, his plaint on the NERD clue was the insideriness of it. And the "training" comment... If you didn't crack a smirk have your funny bone check. I won't bother to point out the metaness of first complaining about an insidery clue than making an insidery joke because I'm sure you all see that now. Now, time to go edit the Wiki page on women in Tolkien.

I'm amazed that we made it all the way to 9:00 without an OBAMA complaint. H8ers gonna h8 and all that.

Amelia 9:36 AM  
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Alex 9:58 AM  

I liked the themers and the other long answers (except for PITCHING WOO, which I have never, ever come across, despite having read quite a few books written in the 1800s). I was not so keen on the many, many, MANY proper names. I do think we should all be more familiar with those who worked for women's rights, so I think Ms CATT was fair. But wow, there were a lot of names!

Mohair Sam 10:04 AM  

@Z - Also no TED Cruz complaints. Surprising, 'ay?

@mathgent - Your spell checker changed whatever you typed to: "My favorite in grade school was chopped olives with lots of mayo on white bread." I'm sure you'll want to correct that to whatever edible sandwich you actually consumed.

Anonymous 10:04 AM  

@Rex, I suggest with all due respect that using Harvey Milk's name as a crossword puzzle theme answer for a child's lunchbox drink would be inappropriate. He was murdered by a madman. Otherwise, a very good review.

Anonymous 10:06 AM  

That's TARDIS.

GILL I. 10:12 AM  

I'm wondering if a puzzle has ever been constructed without having to resort to one single proper name.... This had a tad too many for my liking.
I never had a LUNCH BOX [SIGH] but I remember, as a small child, being so excited about the brown paper sack I took to school. We had a housekeeper who was Venezuelan and she would pack me a lunch with plantains and arepas of ham or egg. The best part was waiting to see what dessert she had for me. She would wrap it separately in this shiny wax paper and it was always a surprise cookie.
Can a SMART COOKIE be a clever biscuit?

Roo Monster 10:22 AM  

Hey All !
Serviceable enough theme for a TuesPuz. Was thinking the K's in the themers had something to do with everything, but then got MEMORY CHIPS. PITCHES WOO is a new one on me. Sounds like 1940's talk.

Natick alert! The Y in DYNE/YOSHI. Really wanted hOSHI, but couldn't get Happy Correct Music. DYNE is somewhere in the ole brain, but couldn't get it out quickly.

Downs seemed easier today than Acrosses. And not too much dreck. So a good puz for Tuesday. Well, TWERK...


QuasiMojo 10:24 AM  

Addendum: I am amazed in reading the comments so far how many people have never heard the expression "pitching woo"! Perhaps it is a regionalism, but growing up in New York I certainly heard it and thought it was adorably quaint. I've even used it a few times myself, albeit about someone else, alas.

Nancy 10:25 AM  

This one did absolutely nothing for me. A combo of cluing so mindless as to be insulting (Weight loss program = DIET??? Had dinner = ATE??? Give me a break!) and a whole bunch of PPP scattered everywhere else. Most of it the familiar and expected: OTIS and IONE and MCRAE, along with the unknown [to me] ERIC BANA and YOSHI. Dullsville.

Andrew Heinegg 10:32 AM  

It gives me some comfort to know that there are other households besides our own where the hierarchy of command goes downward from shortest to tallest. Something about the feline species that gives them control over the homo erectus folk. You cannot change it so be Zen-like and accept it.

SouthsideJohnny 10:33 AM  

Amelia, will you enlighten us please ? I didn't spot the alleged slight . . .

old timer 10:49 AM  

We don't make a party out of lovin'
We like holdin' hands and pitchin' woo
We don't let our hair grow long and shaggy
Like the hippies out in San Francisco do

Merle Haggard, "Okie from Muskogee". When the Grateful Dead sang that one, the audience at Winterland or the Fillmore would shout that last line in unison. Old Merle's tongue was very much in cheek when he wrote that song.

I thought this puzzle was a little tough because I did not know most of the proper names, but I got them all on crosses, so no harm done.

NCA President 10:50 AM  

Rex, Rex, Rex...don't you know that SNOPES and Politifact and FactCheck and anything like them are all part of the libruhl media? You need to start going to sites that pay no attention to "facts" since, you know, facts are in the eye of the beholder. Everyone knows that...

If anyone is visiting Nashville any time soon, there is a TACOTRUCK here call Mas Tacos. It is an RV that roams around the city purveying tacos that taste really good because they come out of a rambling RV called "Mas Tacos." It's all about the ambience.

I think a LUNCHBOX is more of a backpack companion. If anyone has a kid in school...at any grade level...they know that you can fit nothing in the backpack because of all the books they need to bring home because of the ungodly amounts of homework they have to do. The lunch box might get attached to the backpack with a clip of some kind, but there's no way you can fit all the books, computer, ipad, pencils, pens, three-hole punches, etc in a backpack AND a lunch box.

There were zero snags in this puzzle for me and missed by best time by inches. This was actually easier than yesterday's puzzle because the proper nouns weren't as obscure <>.

Roo Monster 10:53 AM  

@Mohair Sam 10:04,
LOL! I thought, "Yuck!" when I read @mathgents olive sandwich! You cleverly said what I believe I was thinking! Awesome.


mathgent 11:01 AM  

@Mohair Sam (10:04): Good one. But I've been a degenerate mayonnaise-eater all my life. As a little guy, when my mother would leave me alone in the house, I would go to the cooler, pull out the jar, and eat it by the spoonful.

Nancy 11:05 AM  

@Mohair -- Your 10:04 a.m. comment to @mathgent about correcting his Spellcheck re sandwich choice is the funniest thing on the blog today. @mathgent -- Your 7:55 a.m. comment about your erstwhile favorite sandwich is the second funniest thing on the blog today.

@George B (2:18 a.m.) -- I thought we were friends. Your MN-based gloating over your team's thumping last night of the hapless NY Giants poured salt in the still-oozing wound of this lifelong, long-suffering New Yorker (remember, I've got the "same old Jets" to contend with, too!) and was insensitive in the extreme. (@Z reminds me to say I'm just joking, George.)

@Loren -- Love the way you PEGged your husband with a great lunchbox!

Andrew Heinegg 11:08 AM  

I am with the naysayers on this one. I think of doing crosswords as brain exercise. Doing 10 or more of them is lots of brain exercise. There is my excuse for a sad dnf on a Tuesday at that point of the puzzle. But, honestly, does not (with apologies to Mr. Barany) nerd have a science and/or computer inference to it like the proverbial skinny guy with bottleneck glasses who is never seen without the pocket protector. Pitches woo is an outlier as far as I am concerned. I spent my formative years in the latest in place in NYC, Brooklyn, and I never heard it said or read it.

Maybe some parents pack milk in their children's lunchbox but, unless there is no cafeteria at said school or a thermos (a bit impractical in a house with 10 children like ours), one would think that you would at least be given the money to buy the milk. That, of course, presumes that the child would use said milk money for milk. Thus, the many controversies over removing snack or soda machines from schools.

The one good part of this puzzle was the reasonably clever crossings of tuna and sandwich and dyne with knuckle sandwich.
But, perhaps I carry the bitterness of never having chips put in my lunchbox. Such deprivation;

Andrew Heinegg 11:09 AM  
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Andrew Heinegg 11:18 AM  

Very cute story; it is always interesting to hear how some people come to fixed ideas about when they will do things that are emotion based, as if emotions obey logic. You know you are going to get married. You know you have found the person to whom you want to/ will get married to but, you had decided some time ago that you would not get married until you reached a certain age. It is a good thing that men are so much more rational than women. What a world we would have if they weren't?!!

Andrew Heinegg 11:19 AM  
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Greater Fall River Committee for Peace & Justice 11:23 AM  

I know Pitching Woo from the Brit comedy 'Are you Being Served'. Which I have watched on Educational TV aka PBS. My one quibble is OPUS for 'grand work'. Opus means work. Some of them (many opera) are quite minor, and I learned a whole lot of them in my youth on an upright piano....

Numinous 11:35 AM  

This was far too easy. I did the Acrosses and only looked at maybe half of the Down clues for verification. Y'all have mentioned answers here you didn't like that I don't even recall seeing. I expect those were down answers. I cranked this one out in something like two thirds my Tuesday average.

My reaction to PITCHING WOO was, "You have got to be kidding, that is soo quaint." No idea where some of y'all were hiding when you were growing up that you've never heard the term. Never seen any of those "Mickey Rooney Goes to College" movies? Maybe some of you don't remember when TV was only black and white.

I got a kick out of the LUNCH BOX theme. For a while, my step-kids had backpack LUNCH BOXES. When I was in elementary school LUNCH BOXES had stuff like superman or bat man on them and there were no Barbie Dolls yet. I hated those little square things that advertised. I made my mother buy me a big black one with a domed lid and a thermos. Hands up for shattering the glass inside the first or second day I had it. Kids' drinks are in boxes or pouches these days. Absent a thermos, there was no milk in a school lunch. There was, for me, invariably either and apple or a banana. Other kids had oranges which I hated. So, I'll agree, @Sam Buchbinder missed out the fruit. THE BIG APPLE, CHIQUITA BANANA, CLOCKWORK ORANGE all would have worked.

I have no problem with NERDing out. I reckon we are all crossword NERDs else we wouldn't be here doing this. I might marginalize @Z for his Ultimate sports activities except his comments tend to verify and cement his NERD status. Not too many NERD athletes in the world, I don't think. Are TERPs NERDs?

I spelt IONE Skye with an A on the end of her name at first, the second T of CATT surprised me. ERIC BANA came easily even if I don't remember The Hulk. My shiba inu will put her nose next to your leg and TWERK away when she likes you. I remember some discussion of Labradoodles here some time ago. I think it was about planned mutts. We just rescued a chiweenie a few days ago. She's fitting in slowly but surely. I've rarely met so affectionate a dog.

So, I enjoyed this puzzle and in the end, that's all one can ask.

puzzle hoarder 11:43 AM  

What I noticed most about this puzzle was the reliance on names. They're in every section and at times are the dominant element. I've seen ERIC BANA in numerous movies, now I know who he is. Some of the other names were unfamiliar but all we're easy to work around.
PITCHESWOO was a gimmie. Commentors, when it appeared last December pointed out that it's in the lyrics of "Okie from the Sokie" and it's stuck with me ever since.
60A has nothing to do with backpacking. They mean the bookbags you put your kid's lunch box in. Backpack was just a poor choice of words.
In Chicago a food truck is called a roach coach. It would make a great entry and it's never been used.

Mohair Sam 11:51 AM  

@mathgent - So I give you an out and you double down! Honorable.

I speak from experience - My mother frequently sent us off to school with a hideous cold cut called head cheese and some chopped olives. She would smear this with your beloved mayonnaise and put it between slices of Wonder white bread. Three out of the four of us were eventually able to forgive her.

Z 11:52 AM  

@Mohair Sam - @George B slipped in a TED complaint on the sly.

Hand up for being shocked at people not knowing PITCHING WOO. When I was a student teacher my students would use it in their raps. Granted, they're in their 40's now but my students weren't exactly Kiss Me Kate types.

Colby 12:01 PM  

Tuesday record for me. I enjoyed this puzzle-- it has fresh clues and answers and the theme is cute. Rex must have been in an irritable mood.

Anonymous 12:01 PM  

@Z to the rescue: President that ended "don't ask, don't tell" NYTimes' (swoon) beloved OBAMA. We're talking legacy stuff here. Only to be topped by the fascism of sexual identity politics.

Apparently you're a H8ER if you're not a sycophant.

Greater Fall River Committee for Peace & Justice 12:05 PM  

test, picture of Orion

Rabi Abonour 12:07 PM  

"doing 10 crosswords in a row isn't 'nerding out'... It's training" is a very nerdy thing to say.

Masked and Anonymous 12:08 PM  

This puz makes use of my least fave kind of desperation … short but weird names.
The rest of the names were pretty easy and smaller in number, so they were ok. Examples: OTIS. OBAMA. ERIC. MILK. AMOS. MARIE. etc.
Actually, I'm kinda on the fence, with SHEMP. Fourth stooges might be ok. Might draw the line, at CURLYJOE.
Still, ten names that U have to kinda nerd-the heck-out from crosses in a TuesPuz seems kinda high. But, always fun, to nerd-out. Thanx, Mr. Buchbinder. [Hey! Buch (German book) + binder, in a backpack! Ironic. Bit of a stretch? Thought so.]

Theme was fine, by m&e. Would favor more inclusions of cinnamon rolls in school lunch boxes, but they're sorta messy to hide in a themer. The theme itself has a kinda pleasin tinge of desperation … the old standard "things that end with" melody. Nostalgic, almost.

The two long non-themers are pretty neat, as @RP mentioned. Almost inspirational, in fact...
* PITCHESWOO. Nostalgic-istic, some more. Maybe someone could do a puztheme where WOO is "pitched" (i.e., scattered) all over the puz? I YUAN that.
* TACOTRUCKS. Maybe someone could do a puztheme with a TACOTRUCK positioned differently on every corner of the puz, somehow. Sounds like a heckuva challenge to pull off.

Masked & Anonymo5Us

AskGina 12:19 PM  

@Mathgent @mohair I think the olive mayo thing seems delicious except for the lotsa mayo (a little would do). Olives make everything taste better. Except the horribly named headcheese. The name alone is a deal breaker. Your lunch was child endangerment.

tb 12:33 PM  

@Larry Gilstrap:

Ah yes. That "pesky" health department. We'd all be so much better off and healthier without it.

Anonymous 12:39 PM  

I'm a teacher and I've never ever seen a lunchbox packed with milk. Even when I was a kid, I taped a quarter into my lunchbox to buy milk at school.

Teedmn 1:09 PM  

I also used to make my husband's lunch every day back before we were married - nothing as fancy as @LMS' spread but it had the basics. However, he is a chocolate milk fanatic so I always included one of those Hershey's Chocolate Milk units that come in juice-box style packaging.

Now he makes his own lunch (not because we're now old, married people and I'm no longer PITCHING WOO). He keeps his chocolate milk in the fridge at work, the very expensive and sinfully delicious Organic Valley brand. He pours himself a huge glass and drinks it over the oourse of the day so it definitely gets warm. He also uses chocolate milk on his cereal. I don't understand it but each to their own.

I guess I have to agree with @Nancy that the cluing is unusually unchallenging today but I didn't notice while solving - another reason for timing oneself on early week puzzles. A great Tuesday for Mr. Buchbinder.

SailorSteveHolt 1:12 PM  

Some of the vintage references totally elude me (see: PITCHING WOO), but a bunch of you fill those boxes without batting an eye. Newly coined phrases like "NERDing out", on the other hand, make me giddy. I've seen them, I've said them; they come naturally to me. For the folks who tut-tut those clues, consider whether or not you do the same when the answer is "sawbuck" or "going together".

If you can only conjure up images of pocket protectors, calculators, and super thick glasses taped where they snapped at the bridge when you see NERD, here's a great introduction to the new meaning it has acquired and the rise of NERD culture from an authoritative source. (Note "NERDing out" in paragraph four.)


@Masked and Anonymous Don't think I'm sparing you! OTERI and YOSHI would be easy as pie for my friends; BANA is catnip to Gens X & Y comic book nerds (and fans of box-office bombs and career-killing movie roles); I don't like contemporary country at all but even I know who KACEY Musgraves is; and, as some of the comments revealed, Rex wasn't the only one delighted by SNOPES.

@RAD2626 I feel you. The only reason I knew LAIC is because I had seen it in another puzzle.

@Anonymous 12:01 PM Does Breitbart not have daily crossword puzzles?

Carola 1:18 PM  

On the "Liked it?" meter, I'm way off into the "Yes!" area. I liked the light-hearted theme and thought the non-food theme ideas were lively and creative, TACO TRUCKS offered a nice alternative to the LUNCH BOXES. Didn't know PITCHES WOO.

Okay, my school LUNCH MEMORY - brown paper sack invariably containing one TUNA SANDWICH on a potato biscuit, CHIPS, and a COOKIE, all in Waxtex bags, plus 2 pennies to buy a half-pint of milk (Wisconsin, obviously subsidized).

@mathgent, I can't believe you're getting flak for your olive and mayo sandwich. I like the variation with cream cheese.

Joseph Michael 1:46 PM  

@mathgent et al: On the SANDWICH front, my LUNCH BOX favorite was chopped green olives with peanut butter and butter on white bread. In retrospect, it sounds like a heart attack in the making, but at the age of ten, that was the furthest thing from my mind.

The puzzle, on the other hand, didn't do much for me and could use the advice of a good nutritionist.

Coz Gal 1:56 PM  

Best time ever. I have no idea why.

htpsmnoptp 2:44 PM  

I think NERDing OUT is doing the NYT crossword, and then immediately going to Rex Parker to read the write-up. Obviously, all of us here qualify ;)

Hungry Mother 3:32 PM  

I remember having a Thermos Bottle in my lunchbox. It must have had cold milk in it. In some early digital computers, Random Access Memory was physically realized with an array of chips, called memory chips, on a board. Chips were originally so named because they were literally chips from a silicon block. Enough nerdiness?

evil doug 3:47 PM  

(A "dumb blonde" joke follows. You've been warned about the micro aggression;seek a safe space as necessary...)

A dumb blond saw her friend's new thermos bottle and asked what it was. "It's a thermos--it keeps hot things hot, and cold things cold."

The next day the dumb blond came in with her own thermos. Her friend asked, " What do you have in it?"

"Tomato soup - - and a popsicle!"

chefbea 4:03 PM  

@evil...love your joke. Have to share it

evil doug 4:08 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Masked and Anonymous 4:11 PM  

@Sailor dude, 1:12PM: yep. Could not agree with U much more. Everybody knows different stuff, especially in the case of names. Kinda why they're risky, unless fairly broadly known and/or memorable.
Crossin names are extra tough (and ergofore desperate-lookin); recent example: SHONDA/TOSH.

For some reason, puznames don't stick very well, with m&e. Even after I've lived thru a CATT-attack in a puz, it just ain't nothin I can hardly use in a sentence, to help me keep it in mind. Have been able to remember Eazy-E for quite a spell, tho. har.


Z 4:44 PM  

@Numinous - Ultimate is about the nerdiest sport there is. On my old man team we have math teachers, chemists, software designers, automotive engineers, and a few medical doctors. In the various leagues I play in are some profs, medical researchers, IT people, as well as an assortment of undergrad and grad students. I've even met the guy with the oddly fascinating job of being the head food purchaser for a casino. With three sons it sometimes felt like I spent $30K a day on food. This guy actually does spend $30K every day on food. Ultimate is a nerd fest, which is part of the reason I keep playing.

Kate 5:15 PM  

Nope. Never had milk in my lunchbox, only when I went through the paid lunch line. Drink is right on (Capri Sun!).

Numinous 6:21 PM  

@Z, it's still athletic which is, in a way, the antithesis of NERDy. Great way to stay healthy though,

Anonymous 6:43 PM  

@mathgent, we NY/NJ folks love our tomato sandwiches - slices of tomato with mayo between two slices of bread!

Mohair Sam 8:49 PM  

Sitting here reading "The Association of Small Bombs" by Karan Mahajan.

It's Kathmandu, from a guy who should know - edited by Random House people.

Great read, btw.

Fs4569 9:05 PM  

To Mohair Sam:
I accept any spelling of anywhere in Nepal that John Childs says. He knows. Believe me, I know he knows. If you ever go to Nepal, look him up.

Mohair Sam 10:19 PM  

@Fs4569 - Funny, I took John's comment as final without looking at his blog ID - even went to his links. I was reading Mahajan's book (he's from India, part of his book takes place in KatHmandu) tonight and stumbled on his spelling.

Ooops, Obviously John didn't need the reinforcement.

Sam Reeves 10:29 AM  

rex parker is a NERRRDDDDDD

Burma Shave 10:36 AM  


he ASKS, “What’s your MEMORYCHIP’S bandwith?”


Diana,LIW 11:13 AM  

@Ellen S was typing lying down "so as not to disturb the cat." Relating to that here.

Another food fest today, but a more balanced one than yesterday. I do remember my lunchbox, with its matching thermos. Which I always managed to break. Darn thermoses. Didn't get chips, but did have the wonderful Tastykakes. Anyone remember Tastykakes? Peanut butter/chocolate. Mmmmmm.

Today was easier than yesterday - with the theme, the long answers were pretty gettable.

At the MiniSoda crossword tournament this spring, I bought a t-shirt declaring it to be a "word nerd smackdown." Compliments have ensued.

Diana, Nerdy Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

crabby 11:22 AM  

Where have all you NERDs been if you don’t know Ella Fitzgerald:
. . . It's too darn hot
I'd like to coo with my baby tonight
And pitch the woo with my baby tonight . . .
Blows my mind what you “intellectuals” don’t know.

spacecraft 11:39 AM  

Um, no. Just...no. Will has got to be out voting or something--no wait, I forgot this is Syndiland. This was a month ago. This fish should have been thrown back. Lest I have not been clear, Sam: don't quit your day job.

Right away at the 1's we have two PPPs. I went "Uh-oh." And indeed there were MANY more to follow. Real, uncapitalized words (not counting the theme phrases):

Across: POSH, ITTY (!), USE*, SWAT--though not as clued!, SOSO*, bleedover CRAG...and finally the last two lines. 18 PPPs.

Down: 11 more for a total of 29.

*: tired; no, exhausted.

And not included were TSK and BTW.

I was about to call up IONE Skye for a DOD encore, till I spotted that video. KACEY takes the cake, or the biscuits--or me! The constructor should have some lunch and try again. Double-bogey.

P.S. On this most important day in the history of mankind, I have only two things to say.

1. Hillary Clinton should not be the President of the United States.

2. Donald Trump CANNOT be the President of the United States. CANNOT.

rondo 12:41 PM  

I’ve come to not expect much from a Tues-puz and IGOTIT. Lots and lotsa names. What does it say about me that I got ‘em all? TSK. Is that the DIET you ATE out of your LUNCHBOXES? My folks sprung for the nickel for a hot lunch; a dime by high school and then a quarter by the time I was a senior, except the last 2 years of H.S. I worked washing everyone else’s dishes to save the expense and earn extra TUNA SANDWICHes, plus got 50 cents a day for beer money.

Always laughed when SHEMP got fingers in the OCULI.

BTW, POSH coulda been clued as a Spice Girl.

IONE and KACEY are fine choices, but I’ll go with yeah baby Cheri OTERI, ORNOT.

Wasn’t offended by anything, so I guess maybe THIS puz was SOSO.

Go out and vote! [SIGH].

Chris Ortega 11:24 PM  

Things are not looking good. President Trump. OMG

fakt chekker 11:47 PM  

Jesus wept

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