JFK landers until 2003 / WED 10-26-16 / Inner Hebrides isle / Certain pool sites for short / Not dress overmodestly

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Constructor: Scott Yut

Relative difficulty: Easy (ridic-easy)


THEME: SHOW SOME LEG (55A: Not dress overmodestly ... or what 18-, 25- and 43-Across each do?) — leg parts hidden in theme answers (broken across two-word phrases):

Theme answers:
  • BANK LENDING (18A: Source of start-up cash perhaps)
  • TROPICAL FRUIT (25A: Guava or papaya)
  • RIDGEMONT HIGH (43A: "Fast Times" school)
Word of the Day: "Fast Times at RIDGEMONT HIGH"
Fast Times at Ridgemont High is a 1982 American coming-of-age teen comedy film written by Cameron Crowe, adapted from his 1981 book of the same name. Crowe went undercover at Clairemont High School in San Diego, and wrote about his experiences. // The film was directed by Amy Heckerling (in her feature film directorial debut) and chronicles a school year in the lives of sophomores Stacy Hamilton (Jennifer Jason Leigh) and Mark Ratner (Brian Backer), and their respective older friends Linda Barrett (Phoebe Cates) and Mike Damone (Robert Romanus), both of whom believe themselves wiser in the ways of romance than their younger counterparts. The ensemble cast of characters form two subplots with Jeff Spicoli (Sean Penn), a junior, carefree stoned surfer, facing off against uptight history teacher Mr. Hand (Ray Walston), and Stacy's brother, Brad (Judge Reinhold), a senior who works at a series of entry-level jobs in order to pay off his car, and who is pondering easing out of his relationship with his girlfriend, until she herself dumps him. // In addition to Penn, Reinhold, Cates and Leigh, the film marks early appearances by several actors who later became stars, including Nicolas Cage (then billing himself as Nicolas Coppola), Forest Whitaker, Eric Stoltz, and Anthony Edwards. Among the actors listed, Penn, Cage, and Whitaker would later on in their careers win the Academy Award for Best Actor, with Penn winning twice. // In 2005, the film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".
• • •

The theme answers actually HIDE SOME LEG, so there's a little conceptual problem there. But let's interpret "show" somewhat more broadly—I think the revealer is interesting and the theme is fine. BANK LENDING is a painfully dull answer; also, the clue seems to want BANK LOAN(S)—the "source" is a loan, not a lending. But it's tolerable, and the other themers are solid. RIDGEMONT HIGH is my favorite, for generational reasons (i.e. I was an adolescent when that came out and I watched it over and over and over and was just listening to Jackson Browne's "Somebody's Baby" on SiriusFM's "80s on 8" and thinking "man, I should watch 'Fast Times...' again..."). Jennifer Jason Leigh should be in more movies! This is my takeaway from this puzzle. Unforeseen.


Fill is not good. Out of the box. The old box. The box in the rec room that smells faintly of mildew, the one that's got all the old toys and board games in it. Except not as fun. MRE ASA NIL stack! IT'S SO AMNIO ENERO SST etc. And the fill quality is especially troublesome given that it took four cheater squares* to get it to even *this* level of tolerable. Even the long stuff is kinda struggling to get by. AMERICA'S is a partial. PSEUDO is a prefix. Somehow multiple YMCAS *and* multiple LIBIDOS are rolling around together. NAN is never ever ever [Indian bread]. NAAN is [Indian bread]. NAN is a Talese. You shouldn't cross I'Ms like that (5D, 15A). FINAGLE is always a good word. This puzzle was Monday-easy—a full minute faster than yesterday's. Total misplacement. Why? BEATS ME.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

*'cheater squares' are black squares that don't increase word count, so-called because they are a cheap / easy way of making the puzzle easier to fill. Today's cheaters are the black squares directly above 28D, below 26D, above 41D, and below 19D

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]

93 comments:

George Barany 12:08 AM  

Today marks @Scott Yut's crossword constructing debut, so congratulations on that. I also had a Monday-ish solving speed (by my standards), so my best hypothesis as to why this puzzle ran on Wednesday was the unusually low word count for a straightforward themed puzzle (72 words today, versus the average 76 for a Wednesday) and the relatively high average word length (5.25 today, versus the average of 4.9 or so for Monday through Wednesday).

If I can pivot, though, today (Wednesday, October 26) marks the birthday of the star of Stronger Together!, who was seen a week ago on a nationally televised event that inspired Debate and Switch.

Charles Flaster 12:19 AM  

Nice debut but should have been a Monday offering.
CROSSWORDease-- MRE and TARSI.
Liked cluing for TOTEM and RURAL.
"Fast Times... offers some of the best cinematic repartee between Ray Walston and Sean Penn.
Thanks SY

Anonymous 12:26 AM  

I can't think of Uma Thurman without envisioning Papa Thurman having a salon of a Friday evening with dozens of his adoring students, all Buddhist wannabes, in which Papa Thurman is discussing the evils of taṇhā, and how cravings and lust must be overcome. At which point a young Uma, dressed to the nines for a night of clubbing, steps into the room to tell Papa not to wait up as she'll be out late. I envision half the Buddhist wannabes at that point saying just screw it with the Buddhism shit.

Anonymous 12:29 AM  

So nitty I can hardly believe I'm commenting: I think the BANK LENDING answer is clued very badly. Banks don't lend to start-ups because most start-ups aren't really generating much in the way of revenue to pay the interest (if they are generating revenue, they probably don't need a bank loan). But it's admittedly a nitty point. Monday time for me.

mathgent 12:34 AM  

What Rex said. D minus.

AskGina 12:52 AM  

Oh ho ho ho. Oh my my my my my. My. Do you think they're doing all this to drive you mad @Rex? Or that this is some epic battle of the end times, disguised as a tussle between a puzzle editor and a blogger? That the louder, more public battle between good and evil, the woman in the white suit and the nut case who gets dressed by running himself through a car wash (the fake bake applied where the wax is usually sprayed and the blower at the end whipping up the orange/gray cotton candy into a hairlike mass) is a mere sideshow? There has to be some reason that a puzzle this bad saw the light of day. And it has to be something almost beyond comprehension. Or the whole world has just gone mad all at once.

chefwen 12:55 AM  

Crazy easy! Couldn't fill it in fast enough. Only one write over chAR before SEAR at 53D.

Speaking of TROPICAL FRUITs, we recently planted a field of Malayan Dwarf Coconut trees, we'll process and sell coconut water. The field faces King Kong mountain so we're thinking of naming it KING KONG'S NUTS. Sound good?


GILL I. 12:55 AM  

Well I thought this would be a fun Tuesday since we hate that day and this was kinda nice. I really like a bit more salsa for Wednesday, though. Maybe a papaya banana smoothie to get the THIGH, ULNA and TARSI GOO to give us some CRED.
ZAGAT, Google, Wojcicki,...what's the difference? So subjective. Speaking of, I tried a "Three Thieves" pinot noir that got a less than stellar review, so of course I bought it. It's GOOD...!

Anokha 1:03 AM  

Nan doesn't make any sense. NAAN, yes. ROTI, yes. Nan? Not even close and I would expect the editors to catch that.

jae 1:06 AM  

Yep, very easy.

@chefwen - me too for chAR before SEAR.

Thought the theme was OK, liked the long downs, @Rex is right about the rest.

GILL I. 1:17 AM  

Oh...Scott Yut - Congratulations on your debut. HOME EC brought a smile. The boys took "shop" and we learned how to scramble eggs. I also learned how to hem a skirt and sew in a zipper. Does any school offer these programs anymore? Maybe in China?

okanaganer 2:38 AM  

--THIGH should be at the top and -ANKLE-- at the bottom!

Actually it took me a while to figure out what --MONTH-- had to do with a leg.

Loren Muse Smith 3:38 AM  

@jae and @chefwen - me, too, for "char" first. And I had "ttfn" for TTYL at first.

I also liked ENERO crossing that winter INDOOR soccer.

HOMEEC looks really, really weird. @Gill I – I just made a halter top. A bad one.

When I got to the reveal, revisited the themers, saw that they all showed some leg, I smiled. My favorite kind of reveal – makes you go back and look more carefully. Seeing those leg parts all of the sudden staring up at me was a terrific aha moment. Bravo, Scott Yut! Congrats on the debut. It's a winner.

(yeah – all of the sudden. Sue me.)

Dolgo 3:49 AM  

I know this is a cavil, and you all know I hate whining, but I agree with Anokha. I've always seen that Indian bread spelled "naan' on restaurant menus. I also agree that the theme was dumb.

Martín Abresch 4:46 AM  

Not much to add to what Rex said. I liked the theme idea but thought the fill was dull.

The clues were especially boring. Usually I can find at least one that I like. Only a handful of clues made even the slightest effort to entertain. There was the mongoose and cobra clue for FATAL and, let's see, the one-letter clue for THOU. Yawn.

@okanaganer - The theme answers are in their best order. Each one shows more leg than the last: ankle then calf then thigh.

John Child 4:58 AM  

Fastest time of the week so far, and the app tells me this was my fastest Wednesday ever. The constructor notes say that this was intended as a Monday, and that would have been better IMO.

NAN or NAAN: both are OK as transliteration of the word in the Devanagari script, and one sees both in use in the subcontinent. The A is a long sound, and that can be transcribed as "aa" to signal the long vowel. Or not. In American English the two spellings are neck and neck as shown here.

Congratulations on a debut puzzle to Mr Yut!

John Child 5:01 AM  

@LMS. Does your avatar mean you are in a collar? My sympathy if so.

Laura Hoke 5:21 AM  

@rex, thanks for saving me the Google on "cheater squares," that was thoughtful. I thought you'd make more of a fuss about BANKLENDING. You let him off easily.

Alicia Stetson 7:04 AM  

Was surprised to come here and find that Rex had not WENTOFF on the sexist theme. "Show me some leg," said Trump just before he went for the old pussy grab.

Anonymous 7:43 AM  

BANK funDING

NCA President 7:51 AM  

Ah, yes...the NAN v. NAaN debate. I eat at Indian restaurants a lot. Never have I seen NAN on the menu. Is this a regional thing? Have I been going to the wrong Indian restaurants? Btw, I heard the other day that they don't call it "Indian food" in India...it's just "food." Crazy.

This was very definitely Monday easy for me. It wasn't my best time for a Wednesday which makes me wonder about THAT puzzle. Only a couple of "snags" though: egypt before LIBYA, and I wasn't sure about the Iraqi port right away...it took a couple of crosses to get BASRA.

One very small nit, but I wouldn't call Wilder's humor "ZANY." His humor was wry and nuanced. Robin Williams or Zero Mostel = ZANY. Wilder was always in control.

@GIL: I used to work in a wine store and know Three Thieves well. They are one of the few of those blendy companies that get their wine from premium vintners...so the quality of their wines are usually pretty good. I've not had their pinot in a long time, but it's my experience that pinot is one of the only wines that only gets better at higher price points. In fact, most pinots under $20 are so cut with other "larger" varietals, that you can hardly taste the pinot. The truest and best pinots I've had were in the $80 to $120 range.

kitshef 8:26 AM  

Here is what the OED has to say about NAN: "(in Indian cooking) a type of leavened bread, typically of teardrop shape and traditionally cooked in a clay oven".

Calling this Monday easy is an insult to Mondays.

Fast Times as RIDGEMONT HIGH is one of my favorite movies, and the only movie about high school that bears any resemblance to my actual experiences in high school.

In particular, most movies focus on the the various cliques that are supposed to exist, but Fast Times is more about individuals and friendships and personal interactions.

Unfortunately, there is some insensitive humor that would not pass muster today. Not full-on, Mickey Rooney with buck teeth Chinese, Breakfast at Tiffany's racist insensitive, but it's there.

Alysia 8:37 AM  

I'm with him.

BANK LENDING is poor. Puzzle is ridic-easy.

Call me crazy, but I like a theme that assists with or guides the fill. This is not that, though I appreciate the effort.

I must admit, as well, that I've often claimed to enjoy puzzles from which I derive a new tidbit of knowledge. And since I learned a new definition of REAM before 5:30 AM, I'll keep my complaining to a minimum.

Alysia 8:44 AM  

@Gill I - By the time I made it to high school, both Home Ec and Shop (called Technology Education then) were required classes for all students. Boys got to learn how to use a sewing machine and girls got to play with wiring.

My son just started his second year of high school, and at least here, I can say that anything Home Ec-y is pretty much extinct and most certainly no longer mandatory.

Nancy 8:45 AM  

So the mongoose kills the cobra (42A). I would have thought it was the other way around. (But then I would have also imagined that rock absolutely destroys paper.) As it turned out, FATAL was my last word in, and that answer surprised me.

I missed this theme entirely, even after seeing the revealer. It must have gone right under my leg. But some of the clues, if not wildly witty, were vague enough to require thinking. A big improvement over yesterday.

Lewis 8:54 AM  

The theme was cute and worthy, but it didn't help the solve. My favorite answer was FINAGLE. The cluing was way too direct for Wednesday (hi, @martin). Placement is, of course not Scott's fault, and Scott -- enjoy this day, your day in the sun. You've had your first NYT puzzle published and no one can take that away from you. Tomorrow becomes just another day again, so beam, shine, and glow today!

And, by the way, I did like FATAL crossing that Kill Bill person.

Stanley Hudson 9:02 AM  

Does a FINAGLE always involve deceit?

Greater Fall River Committee for Peace & Justice 9:31 AM  

Riders handful is REINs. Not a horseperson buit I think you wouldn't use just one rein, you'd go in circles.And I don't know why ROTE is necessarily a tedious way to learn.

Docpat97 9:43 AM  

I don't get 51 down. Why "thou" for "G"?

Hungry Mother 9:43 AM  

All I need are some tasty waves, a cool buzz, and I'm fine.

RAD2626 9:48 AM  

Nice puzzle and congratulations on debut. Agree with comments about degreee of difficulty except this puzzle had three words I often misspell: PSueDO, RieNS and AMinO, like the acid, not test. So I took the head fake on two of the three which slowed me down to Tuesday time. Also did the NE last, and had BANK and EAGLE so assumed the missing leg piece was KnEe which of course did not come close to working. But then again, neither did LENDING.


Hartley70 9:50 AM  

I'm pretending it's Monday like the constructor intended. Great theme! I had to go back after I finished to see it. CALF eluded me for a bit while I looked for shin. It sure was easy, but great for the newbies. I too had to boot Egypt for LIBYA. When I think LIBYA, and I try not too, Arab Spring is not the first thing that comes to mind.

Nice job and congrats, Scott.

NCA President 9:50 AM  

@Docpat97: G = a Grand, "thou" = a thousand, and a Grand = a thousand.

chefbea 9:54 AM  

Easy fun puzzle. Had up for having char before sear. Remember making an apron in home-ec.....many years ago!!!

William DiGennaro 10:02 AM  

A finagle does not always involve deceit. It may be clever. Merriam-Webster.

mathgent 10:08 AM  

I had a vague idea of what a cheater square is, but Rex's definition with examples clarified it beautifully. Thanks, Rex. I think that I'll be able to spot them in future puzzles from the shapes they create with other squares.

Jeff Chen complimented the constructor for using cheater squares. He seems to be saying that they are sometimes necessary.



jberg 10:15 AM  

Both slang for $thousand

jberg 10:19 AM  

Trying to think of alternatives for BANK LENDING:

Show gratitude to former Canadian: THANK LESTER

Evaluare officers -RANK LEADERS


Masked and Anonymous 10:33 AM  

@muse: har. Did U get yer Whiplash Injury in North Ipswich, perchance? And so … yer halter top project perhaps resulted in More Work Needed?

Cool theme idea. Low word count of 72. Feisty debut puz construction. Very very easy WedPuz solve. Nice U-count. Primo NW/SE weeject stacks. Pinch of nasty good desperation (yo, @TTYL). Rodeo. Congrats, Mr. Yut.

ERNE! Long time no see! Still no Patrick Berry usage Immunity for the ernemeister, btw. M&A is still holdin out hope.

@RP: NAN is in the Official M&A Reefer-ence Library Dictionary. Also has PB1 Immunity, altho not in the bread sense. NAN ergo gets the Show Some Respect Staff Weeject pick.

Thanx, Mr. Yut. Especially for showing **all** of UMA THURMAN.

Masked & Anonym007Us


**gruntz**

Big Steve 46 10:34 AM  

It's good to remind ourselves that the crossword puzzle is just a light feature of the NYT where regular readers can take a break from all the sturm und drang of the increasingly depressing daily reporting.

I don't think the average NYT x-word solver times how long it takes him to do the puzzle(or keeps a running record of it); nor is he analyzing the fill for social or political correctness. He just wants to figure which is the correct letter for each box as designed by the puzzle creator. He knows it starts easy on Monday and gets progressively difficult as the week progresses. And then its on to the sports page, editorials or obituaries.

Again, I am a troglodyte who still has the "paper" newspaper delivered to my door each morning, and sitting in my easy chair with a second cup of coffee, solves (and occasionally fails to solve) the puzzle with a pen or pencil - and then heads on to the obituaries and the editorial page, if I'm in the mood for political correctness or incorrectness.

Roo Monster 10:38 AM  

Hey All !
Don't think it was Monday level, Tuesday level more likely. Definitely not a WedsPuz. But, Will is Will.

Neat little theme. Not the ZANEiest I've seen. Personally I think the cheater squares are inelegant. Two may be okay, but the four, especially that close together, is wonky. ITS SO. (Also wonky).

Threw in idling at first for ONAUTO, and with _IB__ in for LIBYA, wrote in tIBet.

So, okay puz. Easy, quick, debut.

ZANY YUKS
RooMonster
DarrinV

GILL I. 10:41 AM  

@NCA Pres. Thanks for the Pinot tutorial. I did not know that blends were mixed in. I remember reading up on what Sommeliers thought of that grape and this is what I found...Master Sommelier Madeline Triffon calls Pinot "sex in a glass." The closest I came to that was drinking a Bordeaux - I think it was a Montrose.
If school's still have HOMEEC, wine making should be included....!

Z 10:42 AM  

It's been said.

Hmmm, is there a difference between "sexual" and "sexist?"

Nancy 10:45 AM  

@mathgent's comments sent me back to Rex's comments on "cheater squares". They've been discussed here before, and I'm sure they will be again, but I never remember a thing about them. That's probably because 1) I wouldn't know a "cheater square" if it fell on me and 2) the bottom line is that I don't feel remotely "cheated". Do any of you? Feel cheated, that is. Here is one of the rare crossword puzzle subjects on which I have absolutely no opinion at all :)

QuasiMojo 10:46 AM  

"Thou" swell? Not. No comments today other than I've never seen Fast Times at "Ridgemont High" but I knew the answer. Something to look forward to in my dotage, I suppose. Worth a few "yuks." I'm thinking of joining Amazon Prime for a 30-day free trial. Perhaps I'll watch it there -- on Election night -- to distract me from the "reams" of "grace"less "wired" "panel"ists with little "street cred," overworked "libidos," nattering on about "Libya" and "Basra" and the "Americas" while other "zany" "suede"-skinned "Zagat"-thumping "pseudo" legal "eagles" and other "fatal"ists "finagle" airtime by "rote" "on auto." What else is "on tap?" "It Takes a Thief"? Can't wait for "enero"! Like totally man. Gag me with a spoon. "TTYL"!

DJG 10:46 AM  

Rex, I highly recommend *not* watching "Fast Times at Ridgemont High" again. I too loved the movie as a teenager (even though it was a bit before my time), so I watched it somewhat recently and was very disappointed. The pacing is slow; the jokes fall flat; Spicoli uses anti-gay slurs; and I couldn't even watch my favorite scene as a 13-year-old (Phoebe Cates poolside, of course) because it made me feel like a creepy old man. It's probably best to keep this movie pleasantly stored in the memory bank.

But, yeah, Jennifer Jason Leigh is great.

Bookin' the Cooks 10:53 AM  

It's too bad those classes are no longer taught (to both genders) as they offered opportunities to apply what was being learned in other classes to real life, everyday situations.

Bookin' the Cooks 11:04 AM  

(In my best Edith Bunker voice) Ohhhhhhhhh!

Thank you, I was also confused by that since I was reading THOU in the Olde English way, more like Laurence Olivier and less like Jimmy Cagney.

kitshef 11:13 AM  

Re: Cheater squares. @Nancy - I don't feel cheated either and really don't notice them. Sometimes I think a black square rather than just sticking an 'S' in to get a couple of awkward plurals would be a good thing.

There are certain conventions that feel to me like tradition for the sake of tradition: making the themers all, or at least primarily, across answers, avoiding cheater squares, having a symmetrical grid. I don't think any of those affect my joy in solving, and probably make things harder for constructors to make joyful puzzles.

Leapfinger 11:13 AM  

@Nancy: Riki-Tiki-Tavi, but only if you're kipling.

@Gill, we did HOMEEC the old-fashioned way; we had to make a plaid skirt and have the pattern match in a perfect V in the front SEAM, while the boys' main thing was to hang out and INAGLE the bread when we baked.
Nice anticipation with yesterday's KNEEs up, Mother Brown.

Yes, too easy for Wednesday, as presented. Perhaps more technical jargon would soothe the rife murmurs of complaint. The TROPICAL_FRUIT could have been replaced by the TROPICAL_CANE US citizens seem to need for their high sugar consumption. Like Saul of Tarsus, this fresh Yut could have tried a multi-biassed approach, and made capital use of the junk needs we all harbor in secret.

Enjoyed your SUMATRAN STRATI various ways, @Scott, and hope you aren't SUEDE by the MOTley reception, Kid. Up 'n' atom with #2!

Almost forgot:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ar-hnj5Zsk4

Bookin' the Cooks 11:21 AM  

I agree with you, Nancy. :)

Loren Muse Smith 11:21 AM  

@M&A - Hah! Great minds and all that. Good ones!

OISK 11:28 AM  

Very easy for me as well, but I didn't mind. Happy to see several geography clues, and so little pop culture. On that topic, the clue for Uma was " Kill Bill co-star." That delayed me - I thought that might refer to the male actor she kills eventually, but not to Uma Thurman. Would anyone refer to Carol Channing as the "co-star" of Hello Dolly? Or Julie Andrews as the "Co-star" of "Sound of Music"? Thurman was the star, why the "co" ? I don't understand it.

I enjoyed this puzzle. Yes, it was more a Monday than a Wednesday, but that never bothers me.

Blue Stater 11:30 AM  

Pretty nasty for a Wednesday, I thought, contrary to Rex. Natick of the year, or at least the month, at EAGLE/GOO. Sheesh.

Joseph Michael 11:38 AM  

Knew that the theme had something to do with LEGS when ANKLE popped out from 18A and then THIGH popped out from 43A. Took some work go see CALF before finally getting to the revealer.

For those unhappy with the order of the themers. I would venture to say that this leg is kicking up in the air. Perhaps to celebrate a NYT debut.

Chaos344 12:01 PM  

Congrats to Scott Yul on his debut.

Great choice for today's video. Rex may have personally lusted for Jennifer Jason Leigh, but it was Phoebe Cates who is forever immortalized in the minds of adolescents from that era. I can still hear Phoebe purring, "Hi Brad,you know how cute I always thought you were." in Judge Reinhold's masturbatory fantasy. The clip of her removing the top of her Bikini in said fantasy has been viewed over 80 million times on various sites.

@John Child: Kudos for weighing in on the NAN/NAAN issue. The singular version has been used in many previous puzzles. Your explanation and the attendant link should serve as the definitive answer on the issue. Perhaps there will be less nit-picking when NAN inevitably appears in a future puzzle, but I wouldn't hold my breath. Also, thanks for pointing out the fact that the constructor's notes confirm that this was meant to be a Monday puzzle.

@ Anonymous 12:29 AM: LMAO!

@chefwen: Although I laughed heartily, I don't feel that advertising your product as KING KONG'S NUTS will work as a catchy marketing slogan for a product the purchaser will ultimately be ingesting? Think Rocky Mountain Oysters. Yes, people eat them, but first they have to get past knowing where those oysters came from! Just sayin. Of course, I realize your post was "tongue in scrotum"!

@ Alysia: You learned a new definition of REAM? I'm really surprised you've never heard it used in that context before. Perhaps an expression like "My boss really reamed me out today" is too antiquated to be used much anymore? At any rate, you'll have a better visual in your mind's eye now Alysia, like it or not. ;)

@Alicia Stetson: LMAO! Yeah, to paraphrase your last line, "Show me some leg," said Trump just before he went for Slick Willy's humidor!"

"Open the old cigar-box—let me consider a space; 5
In the soft blue veil of the vapour musing on Monica's face."
Rudyard Kipling

andy 12:24 PM  

Had to come here to figure out what the theme was. Even without the theme, while I don't time myself (because I typically use the hour hand), this has to be the fastest solve in the history of NYT crosswords - for me, at least.

I typically find Rex's nitpicking annoying, but even I found NAN problematic.

puzzle hoarder 1:01 PM  

With it's routine fill this really had the look of a beginner's puzzle. The one piece of "new" material for myself was TTYL. Somehow I've managed to overlook this acronym in it's previous 8 appearances. That was it for this puzzle.

Anonymous 1:14 PM  

What an easy, uninteresting and cliché ridden effort; a Wednesday puzzle that starts with places for hospital scrubs?!; to top it off, a rider's handful would be reins not rein. It is going to be an interesting ride if you try to control the horse with one rein. I just cannot grasp how this got published on a Wednesday.

Teedmn 1:25 PM  

I just saw NAN clued as Indian bread in a puzzle I solved yesterday so I think it has STREET CRED, at least as crosswords go (and @John Child says so, so there!). That puzzle also had as a clue "glove material" but in that case, my answer of SUEDE was wrong unlike here.

I'd certainly have switched this puzzle's place in the queue with yesterday's, based on vocab and on my time which today was decidedly Tuesday-ish at 7:15 (yesterday clocked in at 9 something).

RIDGEMONT HIGH came out when I was at the end of my college era, so the last thing I wanted to see was a high school romp; I've never seen it. (Though strangely enough, The Breakfast Club, which came out a few years later, did not suffer the same fate.)

HOME EC: I probably owe some of my sewing ability to that class, though it helps that my mother was a first-class seamstress. Definitely, any knowledge I have of creating yeast breads is due to the classes - no freshly baked bread in our house unless Mom bought those frozen, bake-at-home loaves. There were two guys who braved possible scorn to take HOME EC with us but I don't think any girls reciprocated in Shop.

Congrats on debut, Mr. Yut!

Anonymous 1:27 PM  

Note to @LMS: you should do today's WSJ puzzle. It involves the kind of re-parsing you enjoy, along with some fun cluing.

Mike D 1:36 PM  

@chaos: Are you under the impression that Bill Clinton is running for president? Or do you just assume his wife an appendage of his? You should pick up a newspaper once in a while.

tea73 1:41 PM  

REIN should have been clued "often given freely". This was super easy though not apparently my fastest tune which according to the app was September 7th of this year. Of course I wasted some time after I got the revealer looking for why that stuff I'd already filled in related to it, instead of just finishing the puzzle lickety split.

Carola 1:44 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Carola 1:47 PM  

Gosh, I didn't notice it was so easy, and I thought the theme was really good...all those leg parts so nicely disguised (well, at least for me) and a very nice reveal. I liked the paradox of SHOW in the reveal and the hidden ANKLE, CALF, and THIGH. I did notice the tired old ERNE et. al. but there were some saving GRACEs in STREET CRED, LIBIDOS (possibly stimulated by those glimpses of LEG), and SUMATRAN.

@Mohair Sam from yesterday: "I have a small cask of it here" - fun to know you're a fellow fan.

@Hartley70 - For the next two weeks :)

Anoa Bob 1:47 PM  

BANK LENDING does have an ad hoc, need a phrase with ANKLE in it, feel to it.

Liked STREET CRED; FINAGLE & SUMATRAN tickled my word-nerd nerve.

"Cheater" squares is on the harsh side as a descriptor for black squares (they always come in pairs to maintain symmetry) that take up additional grid space without changing the word count. A kinder moniker is "Helper" squares. Whatever the name, they do make it easier to fill the grid, and, at least for some solvers, take minor points off of the puzzle's overall score, so to speak.

Another way to achieve the same effect---take up additional space and make it easier to fill the grid---is also on display in this puzzle. And this method isn't constrained by the need to maintain symmetry. Look at the ends of 7 Down & 20 Across, YUK & AMERICA. As @kitshef points out, that "S" could just as well be a black square. Tweak the clues and little to nothing is lost in terms of interest or value to the puzzle. That "S" just takes up space and makes it easier to fill the grid. And that's the essence of a Plural of Convenience (POC), it makes it easier to fill the grid without adding much to the value of the puzzle. It's like non-nutritive filler, as it were.

Two-for-one POCs like this one are especially helpful. There are two more in the grid. Can you find them? (Looking for POCs can add an extra element to the solve!)

I was going to post this last night, earlier in the comment queue, but realize that for many solvers this is completely a non-issue, and I didn't want to appear to be singling out this puzzle. POCs happen all the time. For me, the effect on the puzzle's quality is a matter of how many and what kind. I think the most egregious POC is one that is gratuitously used to boost a theme entry's letter count to match it's symmetrically opposite themer.

mathgent 2:06 PM  

Like @anon (1:27), I just finished doing the WSJ puzzle. Head-and-shoulders superior the today's NYT. Clever theme, intelligent cluing, some non-routine words (PROLIX). Why the difference in quality? I doubt that the WSJ readers are more literate. I'm basing that on the quality of the writing (I read both papers).

Is it good business not to have readers spending a lot of time doing puzzles when they could be looking at the ads? Like Las Vegas shows which are not longer than an hour and a half.

Dick 2:10 PM  

Fast Times a bright spot. Daughter was class prez at Claremont two years later.

OldCarFudd 2:17 PM  

My wife rides horses, I don't. But I believe REIN, singular, is acceptable as a handful in English riding, where the rider holds a rein in each hand; s/he pulls on the left rein to steer left and the right rein to steer right. In Western riding, the rider holds both reins in one hand and moves them together, putting pressure on the horse's neck.

As to King Kong's nuts, I believe there is/was an Australian firm called Nobby (or Knobby) that produced nuts. They were sold under the slogan: "Nibble Nobby's Nuts".

Z 2:48 PM  

The biggest issue with NAN is that there are other ways to clue it, so why clue it as flat bread? If NAAN weren't more common in actual usage it be different.

And you do not want to get me going on the loss of practical arts classes to make sure everyone gets Algebra II before they graduate. The rant would be long, pedantic, and probably profanity laden.

Z 2:49 PM  

"It would be different."

Chaos344 3:03 PM  

@ Greater Fall River Committee and Anonymous 1:14 PM:

Although I am not an equestrian myself, my sister was. I grew up with her horses. I suggest both of you type "Normal configuration of bridles and reins" into your homepage search engine. The plural "reins" usually refers to tack controlling draft animals pulling a conveyance, such as a carriage, sled, etc. An equestrian actually controls a "rein", which is simply a "single" leather strap to each side of a ring in the bridle. That ring controls the "bit" by giving direction to the horse.

@Mike D: You don't really want to go there. Trust me! Are we going to get into a pissing contest over which side is more righteous? I don't think there is any statute of limitations when it comes to assessing the moral turpitude regarding past or future presidents. If Bill and Donald are both pigs,(and many on both sides believe that to be true), then it is of little consequence who is the latest manifestation of that image. They both belong in the same sty. Stop attempting to claim the moral high ground for your side. Its not only an exercise in futility, its an argument you can never win.

Mike D 4:00 PM  

@chaos: Ummm, Bill Clinton is not running for president. I realize that this may be confusing to those of you who believe a wife is a mere extension of her husband, but with enough practice and attention, you may start to believe it.

At least 10 presidents had affairs. None of them bragged about committing sexual assault. It speaks volumes of you and "your side" that you fail to appreciate the difference.

Chaos344 5:06 PM  

@Mike D:

Sorry Mike! Your position is still indefensible.

It has absolutely nothing to do with which presidents had affairs, or which of them admitted same.

You want to discuss further? E-mail me. The blog doesn't need this garbage!

Mike D 5:30 PM  

@ chaos: That is an AWESOME argument. No YOUR position is indefensible!!! Quite akin to your hero's "No YOU'RE the puppet. You're the puppet!" Great point, Donald. Did you used to debate for Yale, because that is some Ninja arguing you're pulling off there!
Well you've convinced me. I definitely won't be voting for Bill Clinton (or Donald Trump) in 13 days.

Nancy 6:03 PM  

@Carola (1:47 p.m.) -- But for your shout-out to @Hartley, I would have completely missed it, visually unobservant as I am. But I love it! And if it's you who's sporting it, you look quite fetching. I haven't gotten one, because I won't, under any circumstances ever put a credit card on the Internet. But if I were willing to do so, it wouldn't be the tee I'd purchase. It's my understanding that you can buy a red baseball cap with the words "Make America Nasty Again." That's what I'd get!.

Norm 6:35 PM  

@NCA President: Try a Saintsbury pinot noir. Runs in the $40 to $70 range. They were one of the first in the Carneros region. One of the founders (Dave Graves) is an old friend of mine. Getting older, as we both are. In fact, today is his 64th birthday, so happy birthday, Dave!

Carola 6:40 PM  

@Nancy, yes, that's me, and thank you for the "quite fetching." I hope you come across the baseball cap when you're out and about - somebody in Manhattan must be selling them. Meanwhile, I'm enjoying imagining a little stroll with you, I in my t-shirt and you in your cap.

Alysia 6:48 PM  

@chaos - I've heard the expression before; I just didn't realize...well...yeah.

Roo Monster 9:15 PM  
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Anonymous 12:23 PM  



Exchange this one for Mondays' (and vice versa). Problem solved.

spacecraft 1:05 PM  

What everybody said about Monday-ness. It's the clues. I mean, a single, half-hearted attempt at trickiness with "Figure head?"--but by that time I had most of TOTEM filled in anyway.

I did enjoy the theme; had to wait for the revealer and go back and parse all the entries to finally get it (which always enhances the solving experience). Unfortunately, this baby needed a LOT of enhancing. Hand up for the NE taking the longest time on account of not believing "BANKLENDING:" wha?? Besides not being "bank LOANS," it's Not Gonna Happen. For a startup? You better be ready to prove you can cure the common cold, or turn lead into gold.

I also agree it would have been more elegant had the parts been anatomically aligned from top to bottom. Three cheers for giving us DOD UMATHURMAN's full name; she can SHOWSOMELEG to me any old time. Or anything else she wants to show. This was a good idea that suffered in the execution. A bit tougher cluing might have saved par, but this clearly doesn't deserve Wednesday. Bogey.

leftcoastTAM 1:26 PM  

A LIBIDO tickling theme along with Rex's fetching illustration of a Vargas girl, isn't it?

She SHOWS much more than SOME LEG once she shows the THIGH, so the THIGH might better have been at the top of the themers than the bottom.

This was smooth and easy going until hitting the Mid-East. Got BASRA easily enough, but the mongoose-cobra encounters were FATes for the cobras instead of FATAL. (Had IONe and TTYs instead of IONA and TTYL; don't know much texterese.)

Would consider Gene Wilder's humor more wacky than ZANY. ZANY is more Three Stooges; Wilder is wacky but not wild.

So, a dnf, but got a little kick out of it.

Burma Shave 2:21 PM  

SUM YEAR

When UMATHURMAN did SHOWSOMELEG with GRACE above the knee,
AMERICA’S LIBIDOS WENTOFF the pegs, that’s all she ROTE, and that BEATSME.

--- IONA BONA

Diana,LIW 2:37 PM  

I guess I solved this like a themeless - I took my time while doing other things off and on. So...I didn't even look for the LEG thingy. Is that a dnf? I filled it all in - correctly - easily. I just forgot to go back and look.

Just forgot. Guess that is some indication of my wild curiosity. AYE

Now, we'll see if @Rondo corrects the TAR gaffe.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

rondo 5:08 PM  

@D,LIW - Yes I will. I’ve ranted about this before – Mr. Yut and/or Will and his staff are WRONG, WRONG, WRONG, 100% WRONG - there is no TAR in your blacktop. Never. Ever. If there was you would really be driving around in GOO. The aggregate in your blacktop is held together by a bitumen known as asphalt cement. It is not TAR. TAR usually comes from wood or coal. Asphalt cement is a petroleum product with much different properties. A coupla hundred years ago the Royal Navy TARred their ships and sails to seal them. That’s why sailors are called TARs. Probably the major use of TAR today is the pine TAR used to enhance the grip on a baseball bat, or to TAR and feather someone. Everything else you call TAR these days is most likely asphalt. Not TAR!!! Even the La Brea TAR Pits are asphalt – not TAR!! Sorry I WENTOFF.

The puz. Yeah, really easy, no w/os. Only problem was I couldn’t fit “asphalt” into the three squares where there’s TAR.

Always glad to see The Compleat UMATHURMAN. Yeah baby. (Not TAR baby, if you recall that tale now considered to be non-PC)

What in TARnation is such an easy puz doing on Wednesday? BEATSME.

rondo 5:34 PM  

For a short time I dated the daughter of one of the owners of the consulting engineering company I worked for. This owner and his wife had a RURAL hobby farm they named the Sioux-Deaux (PSEUDO)Ranch. I always thought that was a good play on words.

When I was a young man in HIGH school, a friend of mine was seduced (har) by the HOME-EC teacher in the HOME-EC room after hours. The girls basketball coach found a way to FINAGLE me into being alone with her on a very, very RURAL road. LIBIDOS everywhere back then and nobody got into trouble because we didn't share stories until YEARs later. We were just glad to have the attention of a woman 4 or 5 YEARs older than us. Didn't affect me at all!?

leftcoastTAM 6:50 PM  

@rondo--Curious about any comment you might have about Bill Butler's explanation of TAR on his NYT Crossword Solution site.

rondo 7:54 PM  

Since +/- 100 years ago:

As petroleum production increased, the by-product asphalt became available in huge quantities and largely supplanted TAR due to its reduced temperature sensitivity. The Macadam construction process also became quickly obsolete due to its high manual labour requirement.

While the specific TARmac pavement is not common today, many people use the word to refer to generic paved areas at airports.

TARmac is a registered trade mark and is sometimes used as a generic term in British English to refer to an asphalt type road or pathway surface.

For approx. the last 110 years in this country and most others, roadways, parking lots, or other things like airports have not been paved with any TAR. That particular word "TAR" is how to separate the amateurs from us professionals. The clue is 100% WRONG. Unless you had your driveway "blacktopped" in the 1800s. It's asphalt. Not TAR.

leftcoastTAM 8:02 PM  

@rondo--Thanks. I get the idea that you know what you're talking about. I also understand how TAR might ooze into a crossword puzzle like this one.

spacecraft 8:45 PM  

My favorite TAR is a guiTAR.

rondo 9:14 PM  

Maybe a little TARTAR sauce on the fishsticks?
Or cream of TARTAR for your meringue?
Enough, I'm TARred.

kitshef 8:20 PM  
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