Jewish organization known for its outreach work / WED 6-14-17 / Secretary of State during Korean War / Syllable in oldies songs / Bush denizen for short / Actor Robert of Tv's quincy / Early platform for legend of Zelda for short / Modern education acronym

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Constructor: Andrew Zhou

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging

THEME: BY GEORGE! (61A: Exlamation that describes 13-, 20-, 30, 39- and 51-Across) — all themers are works created by someone whose first name is "George":

Theme answers:
  • "STAR WARS" (13A: 1977 Lucas film)
  • "MIDDLEMARCH" (20A: 1871 Eliot novel)
  • "RHAPSODY IN BLUE" (30A: 1924 Gershwin composition)
  • "DECISION POINTS" (39A: 2010 Bush autobiography)
  • "MY SWEET LORD" (51A: 1970 Harrison song) 
Word of the Day: CHABAD (15A: Jewish organization known for its outreach work) —
Chabad, also known as Lubavitch, Habad and Chabad-Lubavitch, (Hebrew: חב"ד‎) is an Orthodox Jewish, Hasidic movement. Chabad is today one of the world's best known Hasidic movements and is well known for its outreach. It is the largest Hasidic group and Jewish religious organization in the world. (wikipedia) ("known for its outreach" = some weakass wikiplagiarism in the cluing)
• • •

The theme is stupid in a way I kinda like. Silly, maybe, rather than stupid. Anyway, the revealer provided a nice aha—though actually I never saw that the revealer was the revealer, so I was left staring at the grid for many seconds afterwards wondering what the hell—the damned 8-letter *non*-themers didn't help. Again, all non-themer Acrosses should be *shorter* than the shortest Across themers ... for a reason. FRITO PIE, my eye. Actually, GOOGLE IT, my eye. That is stupid in a way that I don't kinda like. There's being innovative and there's just being too cute by half. [Easy way to get information...] = GOOGLING. That is the only acceptable answer there. If you wrote that in, realized it was "wrong," but refused to change it, you are not only forgiven, you are blessed.

This one played harder than normal, in large part because the constructor decided to drop it to 72 words (?!?!) for a Wednesday themed puzzle, which is weird. Lots of white space *and* a theme-dense grid. This didn't make for the smoothest of solves. I very nearly left an error behind at the ACHESON (who? seriously, how old do you think I am?) / CHABAD crossing. I had an "S" there because ... I think I confused CHABAD and SHABBAT (not Jewish, though that's probably a 'duh' to you right now). Anyway, I can see someone faltering at that cross, easily. Roughest part for me was, well, where all the red ink is here:

ARIDE = ABADANSWER, so having [Bum ___] for the clue and having the answer not be STEER and then having the answer be ARIDE ... that was a bummer. USED is an Amazon "category"?! So many Amazon categories. So so many. I have never gone to "Used." I know you can buy "Used" merchandise, but calling it a "category" just did nothing a clue is supposed to do. So many ways to clue USED without that dumbness. TAPINTO is good; the clue was just tough in that way that very vague clues are tough (5D: Access). So a pass for this one, but kind of a low one because of design / fill / cluing issues.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

P.S. LOL at everyone who wrote in ANEWHOPE at 13A: 1977 Lucas film, you know who you are.

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


George Barany 12:04 AM  

For reasons that some might surmise, I never MET A puzzle by @Andrew Zhou that was so much on my wavelength. Actually, well before getting to the reveal, CHEM LAB and its just-fine (to a chemist) clue, was already enough to tilt me to a favorable reaction ("if you're not part of the solution, you're part of the precipitate"). Bonus academic vibe with TAU and STEM.

MY SWEET LORD, by my favorite namesake one-time Beatle, has been tainted by a well-known plagiarism judgement (GOOGLE IT!). UBER'S culture has certainly been in the news a lot, recently (GOOGLE IT!). Throwback to American history before I was born (and I'm older than @Rex): ACHESON was famously criticized by Nixon and McCarthy in the '50's (GOOGLE IT!).

Trivia question, which U.S. President first names have occurred more frequently than GEORGE?

jae 12:08 AM  

Medium for me or just about right for a Wed. Had BOOlA before BOOYA and antS before BEES. CHABAD was a WOE and some of the crosses were on the tough side for Wed...@Rex ACHESON, DOHA...

Fun theme, really liked it.

Mark 12:40 AM  

To use a criterion often used in this blog, I'm sure that GOOGLEIT appears a million times for every time that GOOGLING appears. If you google it. In fact, I'm pretty sure I've never heard anyone say the word "googling" ever, not as a participle and not as a gerund and not with a helping verb. (Full disclosure: preferring to be in the minority, I always bing it.)

Pete 12:56 AM  

Why is it that George Eliot wrote MIDDLEMARCH yet it is Charlotte Brontë who wrote Jane Eyre?

Warren Howie Hughes 1:31 AM  

"I taught I TAU a puddy tat!?" heh heh heh

Gregory Nuttle 1:37 AM  

CHABAD crossing ACHESON and DOHA almost did me in. Finished with a lucky guess on that C.

Trombone Tom 2:01 AM  

This puzzle by Andrew Zhou was "George!". We definitely were in sync. It helped that I'm old enough to remember Dean ACHESON and know quite well when STAR WARS came out. My son-in-law is Jewish, so CHABAD is familiar. I also like PIEROGIs. A nice mix of old and new. So more easy-medium for me.

Kim 2:21 AM  

This one was a delight for me. Not a science major, but like Barany I found chemlab and STEM on my wavelength. I'm not always quick to get the themers, but this time I whipped through them without seeing why they were themers, so 61A literally made me chuckle. I'm younger than you, Rex, maybe by a couple years, but though I'm only a casual history buff, was Acheson really so obscure? With the gimmes of ---ES-N?

Larry Gilstrap 2:22 AM  

I had the themers in place and was working on the revealer, and then it happened, an aha moment. Nice! Sublime artistic creations BY GEORGE, well maybe three out of four. Political memoirs are not my thing, to be fair.

Remember when people used to argue about facts? Now, just GOOGLE IT and discussion is over, or maybe it just begins. My dad was a numismatist and I have a good friend who is a philatelist and would appreciate a good PANE if he saw one. Never was a collector, myself.

Ah! American cuisine at its finest. Beer butt chicken with a side of FRITO PIE, and for dessert? Coca Cola cake. Seriously, would you prefer avocado toast?

Qatar got worked like we did by some nasty bots, or so I surmise.

Being YOKEd and being married have been used synonymously throughout history. There's some figurative language for you. As Prof. Barany points out, you can GOOGLE IT. So much for ARDOR. Like that word.

The story goes, some scholar was asked what was the greatest English novel. He responded that the greatest novel written in England was MIDDLEMARCH and the greatest novel in English was Moby-Dick. I must read the former.

Kim 2:39 AM  

Larry, yes -- I think GOOGLE IT and, more importantly, smartphones in general brought about a certain decline in conversational substance. Maybe that's not the right description. But I can remember 10-11 years ago, just before iphones, friends would text me from the bar asking me to look up basic facts to confirm or contradict their opinions that they believed were crucial to whatever conversation they were having. I can remember being part of such animated conversations myself. We all spent a lot of time having pointless debates over easily verifiable facts. Did Google and smartphones rescue us from that waste of time, or did technology ruin a perfectly good way to socialize and enjoy BSing over trivia?

The One True Tami 2:45 AM  

I finally understand why I have held on to the identity of Middlemarch's author in my mind, all these years. I knew there had to be a reason.

Thomaso808 4:59 AM  

@Dr George, haha good one. I believe that "...part of the precipitate" qualifies as a paraprosdokian phrase. LMS will approve.

Medium for me but DNF because I had WOMeNS and never noticed the obviously wrong cross on PeNE. I was too hung up on ACHESON / CHABAD with the C being a total guess.

It's pretty funny that Rex says he never saw the revealer as the revealer. You know, sometimes the across clues are there for a reason. Us mere mortals actually have to read them.

Loren Muse Smith 5:18 AM  

I’m in a bit of a hurry, so I didn’t even realize I hadn’t finished. @Gregory Nuttle – I know, right? That ACHESON/CHABAD/DOHA deal I left blank. I probably would have guessed wrong anyway. I know Hugh ACHESON from my obsession with Top Chef. He famously has a unibrow.

Rex – FRITO PIE was my second entry. There are FRITO PIE parties. I’ve never been to one, but were I ever invited, I’d be really, really excited, pull the I’m-not-eating-all-day deal so I could stuff myself.

Only erasure was “Me! Me!” For META. ‘Tis the season.

@George B – hah – this shoulda been yours! Talk about your META. And @Thomaso808 – you’re right – most excellent epigram.

C'mon, @jae - you didn't misspell the Polish dumpling? I had a couple of iterations of PIEROGI before getting it. We're usually in step on these things.

Cool, different theme.

BarbieBarbie 5:42 AM  

I wasn't crazy about MIDDLEMARCH when I read it. @Pete, what's your question? Two different books by two different English authors with two different pen names. Lots of people aren't Charlotte Bronte.I forget what GE's real name was, but I do know she didn't write Silas Marner, which I temporarily entered [red face]. Sorry George.
For me, crossing DOHA with CHABBAD was a near-Natick. Not crying foul, because those are both things I should know at a retrievable level, like ACHESON (I don't get why clues like that are labeled unfair. The NYT puzzle is supposed to be solved by NYT readers. Don't throw the rest of the paper away and maybe you'll know these things, @Rex...).
Like @Larry, didn't get the theme until I had all the themers and was solving the revealer, which is the perfect experience. Average time for me and did not feel hard except for *OHA, so Medium here.

Jofried 6:00 AM  

I'm a Chemistry teacher, so finding a CHEMLAB in the middle of the puzzle had me smiling the whole way through. 🙂

Lewis 6:31 AM  

@roo -- You are showcased!

Will BEE be the new ACNE? I like that cross of YOO and ROO right in the middle, and I like the feel of the cross IN_DEEP/ON_EDGE. This was on the gritty side of Wednesday, very nice to see after a slew of Wednesday offerings on the easy side. I have heard of CHABAD not because I'm Jewish, but because it's come up in my puzzle making. Evan Birnholz, who makes the Washington Posts's Sunday puzzles, and who used to regularly comment here used to say that if you want to improve your solving ability quickly, start making puzzles (this is a paraphrase). I found that to be true.

Here's a quote by a well-known George: "You know if you take everything I’ve ever done in my entire life and condense it down into one day, it looks decent."

Unknown 6:37 AM  

I'm a decade younger than Rex but Acheson was easy after a couple letters went in. History is important and he was a pretty big deal.

Hungry Mother 7:00 AM  

Played tough for me too. An unusal slog for a Wednesday.

QuasiMojo 7:05 AM  

Easy as Frito Pie. Although I've never heard of that, or tasted it, luckily. The Chabad thing kind of threw me. Can't stand Wart Sars. Loathed Silas Marner in high school. Adored the mini series Daniel Deronda. But Much prefer reading George Sand. Juicy bits. Google it! Nice puzzle!

Anonymous 7:06 AM  

Mary Ann Evans. And she did write Silas Marner.

TylerToo 7:07 AM  

@Geaorge Barany, JOHN?

kitshef 7:10 AM  

It is very rare that a single word (as opposed to a phrase) in a puzzle riles me so much that I can’t fairly evaluate the puzzle. The only other time I can recall it was ‘skyey’. Well, CHABAD makes the second time. Indeed, CHABAD is worse. CHABAD is to skyey as skyey is to, say, sofa.

Of course crossing it with a SoS from 65 years ago didn’t help.

I therefore give this puzzle the worst grade imaginable: an A-minus … minus.

Aketi 7:24 AM  

@Kitshef, we are in the same boat for different reasons.

I got stuck on the clue for LATE. It was like the ultrasimplified standardized tests I have to take for my board certification that include answers that are clearly wrong because the testing organization doesn't keep up with the literature. So I have to write the answer the testing organization thinks is correct.

The average duration of a first term pregnancy (when obstetricians don't get impatient) is 41 weeks. The lowest mortality rates fir infants occur when babies are 39-41 weeks. 41 weeks is not LATE. 41 weeks is 9-1/2 months.

prandolph 7:31 AM  

Being from Texas, Frito Pie was a gimmee. Nice puzzle, liked it.

Marty 7:32 AM  

Now I've got RHAPSODYINBLUE stuck in my head...which is a fine thing; I love Gershwin.

Kris in ABCA 7:32 AM  
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Kris in ABCA 7:35 AM  

Frito pie is a Texas staple. Put original Fritos in your bowl, add your homemade chilli, and top with shredded cheese, onions, and maybe diced tomatoes. Comfort food!

Anonymous 7:37 AM  

The Bronte sisters originally published their novels under men's names, knowing this would increase the chances of their work being read without prejudice. Charlotte Bronte's nom de plume (or disguise) was Currer Bell (Emily's was Ellis Bell, and Anne's was Acton Bell).

Glimmerglass 8:01 AM  

Before GOOGLE IT, I had GO On Line. The more generic answer had *four* correct letters, which caused me several problems! I had none of the problems @Rex did. Perhaps BEES is the new antS. The theme is okay, nothing to complain about there, but not silly. I thought this was a pretty typical Wdnesday diffuculty. "Medium." @George Baranay: without googling it, I'm guessing John. @ Pete: fair question. The brontes also published under pseudonyms (Charlotte was "Currer Bell"), but "literature" now supplies her real name. Why hasn't that happend with Eliot?

Glimmerglass 8:03 AM  

Mary Ann Evans.

Lewis 8:17 AM  

@evil -- I'm sure you know which George I was talking about...

chefbea 8:23 AM  

Fun puzzle and hand up for ant before Bee...that's two days in a row that I have been in the puzzle. Might have to try making a frito pie!!

L 8:31 AM  

CHABAD in a NYT puzzle - is this a first??

Sir Hillary 8:32 AM  

Excellent puzzle. Great revealer that I didn't see coming. Could not care less that some non-theme acrosses are the same length as some themers.

Nate 8:38 AM  

Oof. Lots of good, but faltered at all of the spots that Rex mentions. Totally Natick'd by ACHESON/CHABAD. I got close, but went with an S instead of a C at the crossing. HERETO didn't sit right with me, but I got there eventually. The word appears in my legal writing all the time, but for whatever reason I know it better for its usage than its precise definition, if that makes sense.

I haven't a clue what FRITO PIE is. I got it eventually, but it was a slog (not a slough, though that is a really gross word). I had WOMENS instead of WOMANS for a long, long time, which made getting to PANE... painstaking.

The southern half of the puzzle was pretty great though, particularly RHAPSODY IN BLUE, DECISION PINTS, MY SWEET LORD, GOOGLE IT, NES (just a bias towards my childhood), and PIEROGI (I'm a Pittsburgher so this one was a gimme).

Nate 8:40 AM  

DECISION PINTS sounds like a WAY more interesting post-presidency book than DECISION POINTS.

Irene 8:49 AM  

Another one that I thought Rex would love as much as I did. Challenging for a Wednesday, brilliant theme, very up to date. Wrong again.

evil doug 8:50 AM  

Lewis--aka T-Bone, Koko and Buck Naked....

RAD2626 9:08 AM  

Given the MY SWEET LORD reference, Do-Lang would have been better than SHA. While I never thought it was plagiarized, they really do sound alike.

On balance the puzzle was so fine. Pretty good week so far.

Nancy 9:08 AM  

I realized sadly that if I stared at the SE until the cows came home, I was not going to finish solving this puzzle. So I came here. My big Casco? Wifey was "the MOM" instead of "the MRS". Meaning I had an O instead of an R to lead off the RIGA answer. Meaning I came up with OMSK instead. Meaning I had GOOGLE ME instead of GOOGLE IT. So obviously I never saw BY GEORGE, when the letters I had were B--EORS-. And what gymnastics event could BEK- possibly be? [Sigh].

I've been begging for crunchy for the last two no-thinking-required days. Today I got crunchy, and it wrestled me to the ground. But I loved it. I think this was a very good puzzle with a very clever and tricky theme.

Wm. C. 9:09 AM  

@GeorgeB --


Including James Carter.

Nancy 9:15 AM  

PS. One nit. What on earth is BOOYA as a celebratory cry???? Never heard of it. I wanted BOOLA, as in the Yale fight song: BOOLA, BOOLA. I think that, like "Bulldog, Bulldog", BOOLA BOOLA might have been written by Cole Porter. Or maybe not.

leah712 9:20 AM  

My problem with this puzzle is that the "revealer" didn't reveal anything that wasn't obvious from the clues, i.e. they are all works by someone named George. I like it better when the revealer tells you some tricky bit of info that helps you solve the puzzle.

Two Ponies 9:23 AM  

Frito Pie may be bas cuisine but if you try it
the pleasure might be a guilty one,
but a pleasure non-the-less.

Wm. C. 9:36 AM  

@Nancy --

If you listen to 46D, you would have heard 50D a lot. ;-)

Stringer Bell 9:40 AM  

The incessant bitching, the infantile whining and bellyaching, the special pleading, the profound historical ignorance, the towering arrogance . . . Just another Rex blog.

CDilly52 9:45 AM  

That, indeed was a tricky little chunk! Thankfully, I am old and remembered ACHESON, and my lovely roomie freshman year at the U taught me CHABAD (and so many other wonderful things about her culture--and food)!!! But for frame of reference, I would have been sunk!

Mohair Sam 9:49 AM  

Thoroughly enjoyed this puzzle. Worrying more than ever about OFL however.
He has some strange condition causing him to be ignorant of common words and phrases (and history) - a condition known as, um, as - I dunno, I'll have to GOOGLE IT.

It's not so much that @Rex often shows us a hole in his knowledge of history - it's that he does that thing of the ignorant and gets angry at facts he doesn't know. The only problem with ACHESON is that Dean misspelled his own last name, it's Atchison, as in "On the Atchison, Topeka, and the Santa Fe" the Judy Garland classic, Dean's error cost us some time there.

Luckily our youngest is career Air Force and has been deployed twice to Qatar, we were saved a natick on CHABAD/DOHA cross.

@Lewis - Nice - One of the best lines ever from the show, and don't we worry it might be us?

Knew we'd hear from a gleeful GEORGE" Barany after he was hit by the combo of his namesakes and CHEMLAB. He didn't disappoint.

I got hit upside the head when I suggested "Little Woman" at 54A.

For you avid readers who (like Rex) haven't found the USED category on Amazon - you'll save a fortune on books. I've found that anything rated "Very Good" or Like New" is reliably in near perfect condition - and thousands of out of print books can be found there. Many you won't find in the library.

blinker474 9:52 AM  

Everybody in the world - with the single exception of Rex - knows and uses GOOGLE IT. Is this the real Rex, or an interloper?

puzzlehoarder 9:59 AM  

Great Wednesday puzzle. This was a late week puzzle disguised as an early week. My time was only a minute less than Saturday's Mark Diehl puzzle. I did both puzzles on my tablet so the comparison is accurate. Some key write overs and spelling issues added considerably to the time. ACHESON was easy to recognize. DOHA could have been in Africa for all I know but it familiar none the less. I had a hunch why CHABAD range a bell. There was a CHABAD center near my parent's last house and I used to see the sign going n and out of their neighborhood. I was hoping FRITOPIE was just a figure of speech not something anyone would actually eat. Someone said it's a "Texas" thing. Figures.

johnny stocker 9:59 AM  

I personally think ACHESON is much more Wednesday worthy than IONESCO??? But hey, maybe that's just me.

And GOOGLE IT is most decidedly a real thing.

Unknown 10:02 AM  

6 James. 4 John. 4 William. Without googling.

Lewis 10:02 AM  

@evil -- Not to mention Gammy and Biff.

Nancy 10:02 AM  

@Mohair (9:49) -- Hope Lady M has a terrific left hook -- you deserved it!

Nah, just kidding, Mohair. Your "The LITTLE WOMAN" bon mot was delightful.

Oh, and I did know JAMES, @George B. But by the time I was ready to post about it, two other people had already chimed in.

CDilly52 10:04 AM  

Delightful! Would have crushed my normal Wednesday time, but I burnt a good head-scratching minute trying to figure out what the themers had in common....head slap...aha!!

I, too, threw CHEMLAB in, and I thank the should-be-sainted Dr. Ray McKinty. I love learning, adore everything about school, and tried my hardest almost all the time, but high school chem nearly did me in. @George B, you made me chuckle with your precipitate quip. It was a precipitate problem that literally stood between me and summer school junior year and thankfully, Dr. Mac cheerfully devoted at least a week of after school time to walking me through the equations, balancing the grams of this and moles of that and all those fussy little electrons flying around trying to give me clues. Will there be a precipitate? If so, what color? He kept telling me that he knew I could do this and we just had to find "the aha moment" because in his experience, learning difficult things is all about "the aha."

In my years of tutoring and teaching private music lessons, and indeed with my own child, I have remembered Dr. Mac's sage advice many times and tried never, ever to give up on a student with the will to learn. I discovered that inding that "aha" is often as rewarding for the teacher as the student.

So thank you teachers everywhere!!!!

And thank you Mr. Zhou for a delightful puzzle.

Aketi 10:10 AM  
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wgh 10:15 AM  


Aketi 10:19 AM  

My first time trying to register a complaint to the New York Times about a crossword clue ended up like this. The robots refused to understand the numbers in my address. It took two phone calls and four people to register a complaint. I did entertain the Metro Doula Facebook groups with all the peer reviewed evidence I collected to support my complaint. I did GOOGLE IT, but discarded any evidence that was not from a solid peer reviewed article. 42 weeks is LATE. 10 months would have been perfectly reasonable as a clue.

I didn't mind the rest of the puzzle.

GeezerJackYale48 10:28 AM  

Except for your preference for Bing, you are right on. "Googling?" I think not. Passive!

mathgent 10:31 AM  

Wonderful puzzle and wonderful comments.

Was BOOYA the exclamation that Pacino used in Scent of a Woman?

Has anyone had FRITOPIE? Is it a Midwest dish? I believe that it's unknown out here. I just looked up the recipe and am tempted to make it. It's the kind of dish I'm good at preparing. Throw a bunch of ingredients in a casserole dish and put it in the oven. My health-conscious wife wouldn't eat it, though.

@George Barany: Great line! More chemistry humor, please.

Fourteen red plus signs in the margins, a near-record for a Wednesday.

GeezerJackYale48 10:32 AM  

Er-um, let's just say we remember Dean Acheson from our knowledge of US history (as one elderly to another elderly!)

GeezerJackYale48 10:38 AM  

It is interesting what isn't known by people that you think should know.

GeezerJackYale48 10:43 AM  

You got stuck? So you didn't realize right away what wrong answer the ill-informed wanted you to put in? Hm.

Lars 10:45 AM  

What's the opposite of an aha moment? A "what?" moment ...? Didn't know the themers off the top of my head, so focused on getting some hint from the revealer, but it revealed nothing! BY GEORGE! Yes, of course, but then what ... After that had to go the route of in some areas fighting it through creatively square by square. Was lucky in guessing some vowel options, but got through it.

It was a good experience overall that took some real effort but proved doable with persistence.

mathgent 10:46 AM  

I'm trying to remember the movie where Eugene IONESCO made a seconds-long appearance. He is asked what his ambition is. "To become immortal ... and then die." It may have been that strange film by Alan Resnais, Last Year at Marienbad.

Chris 10:48 AM  

OFL's complaint about GOOGLEIT has to be the dumbest thing he's ever written, and that's saying something. Even in this post, it's challenged by his problem with USED and ACHESON, who is one of the architects of the modern (post-WWII) international system.

GeezerJackYale48 10:49 AM  

Not Cole Porter. Thought so for years.

Anonymous 10:57 AM  


Your post today was even better than usual, which is saying something.
I think I'd broaden your description of Sharp's anger. He also gets angry at ideas he doesn't like. I've been reading his tweets and besides his foul mouth, it's astounding to see his animus and indignation at all manner of things and people that aren't bad per se, just different than his cup of tea. He's the king of the ad hominem. Heck, he even mocks Ivanka trump for a piece of apparel. It's incredible.

Thanks for the great puzzle Mr. Zhou

Alexander Grimwade 10:58 AM  

A PLAID is a scarf or shawl in a tartan pattern. A PLAID is not a pattern but an item of clothing. In Scotland, we have plain plaids and tartan plaids, but never plaid PLAIDS.

jberg 11:08 AM  

I made the same mistake as @Rex (see his red lines), thinking that those were WOMeN'S magazines.I stuck with that too long, then finally say it had to be TAP INTO, and realized that a sheet of stamps could also be a PANE.

After MIDDLEMARCH and STAR WARS, I was looking for a last-word-is-something-military theme, and the GEORGE thing didn't occur to me until the revealer (which was delayed because I had hOOrA).

It took me a moment to remember ACHESON, but that's just me. I was only 9 when he left office as Secretary of State, but he was an active voice in public affairs right through the 1960s.

@Lewis, @Evil Doug, please let us in on the joke! My first guess was Burns, given the humor, but the nicknames don't fit.

As for George Eliot (replying to @BarbieBarbie), I think we call her that as an author because that's the name she used throughout her lifetime. I could be wrong, but I think the Brontes started using their own names once they were established.

But there's no consistency to common practice. The American composer was always "Mrs. H.H.A. Beach," but she's Amy Beach today.

jberg 11:11 AM  

@Wm. C. from yesterday -- thanks for the Matisse tip. I saw that show a couple of weeks ago, and agree that it is excellent. (I'm not visiting Boston for BEMF, I live here)

Pete s 11:11 AM  

I googled middlemarch and then George Eliot (Mary anne Evans). Here's a description of her according to Henry James

She had a low forehead, a dull grey eye, a vast pendulous nose, a huge mouth full of uneven teeth and a chin and jawbone qui n'en finissent pas... Now in this vast ugliness resides a most powerful beauty which, in a very few minutes, steals forth and charms the mind, so that you end, as I ended, in falling in love with her. Yes, behold me in love with this great horse-faced bluestocking

Joseph Michael 11:12 AM  

This was tough, but enjoyable. CHABAD crossing ACHESON was my downfall.

Had a hell of a time in the SE as well but eventually figured it out and liked the theme when it finally presented itself.

If you don't know who IONESCO is, I recommend reading "Rhinoceros," one of the great plays from the theatre of the absurd, written in the late '50s and still relevant today. Or try "The Bald Soprano" or "The Chairs."


Hartley70 11:18 AM  

Well this was a pleasant surprise on a Wednesday. This puzzle has so much theme density and such diverse knowledge required to get the themers answered correctly. Until I came upon BYGEORGE as I finished, I thought I was dealing with a themeless.

CHABAD needed crosses. ACHESON was a guess. PLAIDS should have been "tartan". I guess I should have known that Bush wrote a book, but I wouldn't have read it anyway. I think of him much more fondly today. TAU could have been anything. I have never tasted a FRITOPIE and at this stage of life am pretty sure I never will.

This was an appropriately challenging Wednesday that deserves a round of applause.

Nancy 11:25 AM  

@Pete s. (11:11) -- I'm coming back for, gasp, the 4th time -- but only to defend the honor of Mary Anne Evans, aka George Elliot. Struck by Henry James's comment, I wanted to see what she actually looked like. So I GOOGLED IT. And there she was! Perhaps not quite ready for her close up. Perhaps not about to be featured on the July cover of Vogue. But, shame on you, Henry James, she wasn't ugly. She should have sued you for either slander or libel, depending on whether you said those terrible things or wrote them.

Wm. C. 11:27 AM  

@JBerg --

I knew you lived in the Boston area, but not the city. I'm in Concord myself (for the summer; Florida gulf coast in the winter.

BTW, I think they mean George Costanza from Seinfeld.

Three and out!

old timer 11:32 AM  

I loved the revealer, BY GEORGE! In fact, getting it got me out of a jam, for I had put in "LBGT" instead of LGBT. I had RIGA in that corner, but not the MRS, and certainly did not have BOOYA.

The puzzle played much slower than usual, but was very well made

oldbizmark 11:42 AM  

chabbad is known for some other less savory things in addition to its outreach. like killing public education systems by voting down budgets and electioneering in direct violation of its not-for-profit status.

And a 9 1/2 month baby is hardly late. 40 weeks = 10 months.

but, who cares. they are just silly crossword clues.

Hartley70 11:46 AM  

...And thank you @CDilly52 for such a lovely post at 10:04am

Malsdemare 12:04 PM  

I was confident of WOMeNS day/world and just never saw my error. Yes, this was hard. CHABAD crossing DOHA, the whole SW. I knew ACHESON but really questioned myself because it's not something I expect myself to know. And META was bad for me. The only way I know it is as META analysis, when a researcher combines the results of many studies and analyzes the whole. I put in PIROGI, which didn't fit so had to get a cross or two before I caught my error. And I have to agree with Rex; FRITOPIE is not a thing. But I did like the reveal when I finally figured it out. I like my puzzles hard, and this filled the billed.

Did anyone do the mini? Lordy, that one was unfair. I've never had a mini stump me like that. COOKIE CONTAINER? I'm supposed to get that? I appreciate that coming up with a novel mini every frigging day is a sysiphian (sp?) task, but jeez Louise!

Masked and Anonymous 12:23 PM  

@RP: M&A's personal take: FRITOPIE & GOOGLEIT are OK, to be same lengths as nearby themers. Since 61-A clue identifies the themers ... this here WedPuz came with theme instructions.

Overall, a real fun solvequest.
72 words and 6 theme-related longies -- always gets the M&A's hopes up, for some entertainin desperation. Woulda popped up some corn to go-with, but had plenty popcorn yesterday, during the Sessions Session.
Ode de Speration Bullets:

* staff weeject pick: SHA. good. [CHA. BAD.]

* IONESCO. On the fence, about this puppy. Upside: Has the PB1 Usage Immunity. Downside: Name ain't George.

* ATTA/ETTE. Has a nice beat to it; easy to dance to. And like @Lewis, I was also partial to YOO/ROO marchin right up the middle.

* ITO/IMUS. Moment of decision, here. Coulda also went with ETO/EMUS. Always great, to have options. M&A woulda gone with the latter option -- ITO & IMUS ain't Georges. [UTNE ain't neither, btw.]

* ACHESON. Ahar -- A George at last, I'll betcha! Surely. I dunno, tho. George ACHESON just ain't quite ringin a loud bell ... but not sure what would sound any better … I've got to think …

* PIE ROGI. Dessert invented by George Rogi. Sooo … ok.

* BEES. Wanted ANTS. Not exactly desperate, but lost many precious nanoseconds. Could almost see old @RP a-passin m&e, on the outside lane.

* NSFW. Didn't exactly hanker for its clue. How about if U work with one of them Pee Tape outfits, say? "Explicit content" is kinda yer bread and butter then. QED, and George's yer uncle.

Thanx a thou, Mr. Zhou. Feisty and fresh.

I'll get er, eventually … just need a few more do-UBERS ...

Masked & Anonymo4Us


Master Melvin 12:25 PM  

Rex's aversion to history is sometimes astonishing. The postwar world was pretty much put together by Acheson, Marshall, Kennan & Truman. It is now under attack by Trump & the Russians, so that history is quite relevant today. Acheson wrote an important memoir entitled something like "Present at the Creation."

Master Melvin 12:28 PM  

And then there's GEORGE Foreman who famously named each of his five sons GEORGE so that he wouldn't forget or mix up their names!

Lewis 12:31 PM  

@jberg -- I was going to give some clues, but I see someone has given the answer...

Joe Bleaux 12:45 PM  

Worst possible puzzle experience today! Loved the unfolding from the top, enjoyed the challenges, relished the aha moments, closed in on the finish of the best Wednesday in recent memory, and then ... in the deep SE, got crossed by ants and bees, wanted some letter besides g in pierogi, thought MRS too straightforward for wifey, repeatedly tried to make boola work, and finally, without a y or g, crashed and burned, nothing but debris, no survivors. Zhou got me.

Anonymous 12:45 PM  

Speaking of ROO, are kangaroos really found in the bush? I thought the bush in Australia was the DRIEST parts and ROOs are found near the shores.

Anonymous 12:55 PM  

Right? He demands freshness in some aspects of The Experience, but insists on staleness in others. He wants to mix the ingredients in his cake, bake his cake, have it and eat it too.

Anonymous 1:00 PM  

You win today. Still laughing.

Anonymous 1:08 PM  

It's just like a 7-layer dip. Really it makes a better appetizer (which is how most of us eat it) than meal (which is how the Texans eat it).

Anonymous 1:08 PM  

Frito Pie was the most popular thing on the menu at the Woolworth's lunch counter on the plaza in Santa Fe NM circa the 1970's. According to Anthony Bourdain, it still is.

Cassieopia 1:14 PM  

Crash and burn here, too, but it was a fun ride while it lasted.

What's wrong with GOOGLing? I'm always GOOGLing something. Guess I'd better GOOGLEIT.

Teedmn 1:20 PM  

I had the "what was PeNE clued as?" question as I surveyed my ostensibly finished puzzle. Re-reading the clue led me to change it to PANE and WOMANS. Does it count as a DNF if you think you were done but found a mistake before reading Rex or Jeff Chen?

I don't eat meat so I hope to never be invited to a FRITO PIE party. I much prefer potato-stuffed PIE-ROGIs with melted butter or maybe some pesto.

I think I read MIDDLEMARCH back in my twenties but I started it a while back and nothing seemed familiar in the least. About 3 chapters in, I began to find it pretty dull and I haven't revisited it since. I'm finding Proust's "Swann's Way" much more interesting for whatever reason. I read these classics in the morning while brushing my teethsorry for the TMI) so I only progress approx. one page a day. Imagine how long it took me to get through Ulysses. (Nine months, I think. Not LATE for a baby but long for a book.)

Aketi 1:28 PM  

@Mohair Sam, I always wear really good headgear whenever I'm in danger of being hit upside the head. Hope your wife won't decide to land one on me for suggesting that. I'm thinking she probably would get the better of me in a fight.

@oldbizmark, I did that math when my son hung out for 41 weeks with seemingly no interest in leaving the womb. However, the average number of days per months is 30.4, so there would be 304 days in 10 months if gestation and 289 days in 9-1/2 months. The average duration of pregnancy days is 280-288 days, depending on the source. The lowest infant risk is between 39 and 41 weeks which is 9 to 9-1/2 months. The risk does increase at 42 weeks.

My doula/lactation consultant friends came up with "One of the first signs of pregnancy" as a better clue for 27 down. They actually do care what considered normal or late because those definition influence the DECISION POINTS when obstetricians decide to intervene. Those interventions can then influence infant feeding and maternal recovery. The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology recently admitted women weren't doing as well when they were being pushed to accept interventions to deliver early for reasons that weren't substantiated by the evidence.

Win Emmons 1:29 PM  

I cannot understand why so many people 1) do not know something and thus 2) conclude that it is not a thing. E.g. FRITOPIE. Give me a break. In almost every puzzle there's is some bit of trivia, geography, history, something that I do not know. But I can usually figure it out with CROSSES. It is called a CROSSword puzzle for a reason. If you complain because the first thing that comes to mind as you enter answers on all the acrosses, say, and they don' fir with the downs sometimes, then you just want some other kind of puzzle, a word list, say. Lighten up, people. Learn new things every day.

katherine catmull 2:20 PM  

FRITO PIE is absolutely delicious you guys -- assuming good chili, of course. Mm now I'm craving it damn it.

The5th Harp 2:22 PM  

Spot on.

Malsdemare 3:14 PM  

Mr. Mal makes unbelievable chili (from Best of Southern Living) in vats every winter. I don't eat meat as a rule, but layered with Fritos and cheese, it's phenomenal winter food. It's not technically FRITOPIE, since it doesn't go into the oven, but the flavors are sensational.

At the moment I'm being devoured by Francis Heaney's AV Xword. Holy milk duds, Batman. That thing is hard!

@George B, the precipitate joke is fantastic. Bask in the limelight while you've got it.

Blackeyedsusan 3:32 PM  

Loved it. BYGEORGE was last to fall and how satisfying it was! Could only have been better if I had figured it out myself.

Just read Middlemarch because of a Q&A in The NY Times with Anna Quindlen, one of the gifted writers of our time. First question: what's your favorite book of all time? Her reply: "That is exactly like being asked which is your favorite child. 'Middlemarch' because I think of it as perfection, although I am not as enamored of Eliot's other work. She also named Bleak House because she's learned so much from all of Dickens, and Pride and Prejjudice because she's so thoroughly satisfied every time she finishes - and then called it too tough to declare a winner.

Mohair Sam 3:35 PM  

@mathgent - "that strange film by Alan Resnais" - Good thing you specified which one.

@Aketi - I've been on concussion protocol since the first week of our marriage, part of the hazard of being a wise-ass. Wish I'd thought of the headgear thing years back. Thanks for the tip.

Z 4:04 PM  

@Nate II - In vino veritas.

If I'm understanding various tweets from last night, a comment earlier today, and Rex's post correctly, the plaint about GOOGLE IT is that the tense is wrong for the clue and people wondering if it is a thing. However, I think the tense is fine and look at this (mentioned in the Twitter conversation I linked to), definitely a thing.

We lost by a half point at trivia last night due in part to the right answer being Abu Dhabi and all I could come up with was DOHA (I knew it was wrong - but it was just sitting there blocking the right answer). Serendipity? The universe laughing at us? Malapop Crossover? You decide.

I see a bunch of you are busy tsk tsking Rex for not knowing ACHESON. I'm wondering if you noticed that it was confusing CHABAD with Shabbat that almost caused Rex a problem. It's almost as if he knew ACHESON and that allowed him to fix his mistake.

Anonymous 4:06 PM  

Hate will always exist, but never prevail.

BarbieBarbie 5:11 PM  

Chem-is-try, isn't it, @George? At least for me it always has been. That's why we love it.

I'd make another chemistry joke, but it wouldn't get a reaction.Pa-dum-pum.

I retract my pre-coffee red face about Silas Marner and point out that it UNFAIRLY has the same number of letters as Middlemarch-- but was still easily corrected because of the crosses. So, not detestable.

Wow, yeah, @RAD2626, MYSWEETLORD IS Sweet Talkin' Guy!! Now that's META.

Joe Dipinto 5:15 PM  

@mathgent 10:30 -- the Pacino exclamation wasn't BOOYA! and it wasn't DOHA! either. It was HOOHAH! (But most of all, it was annoying.)

ani 5:35 PM  

That is NOT Chabad, but another chasidic sect in one New York State district.

Anonymous 8:25 PM  

Resistance by any means necessary. You want more Trump ? This is how you get more Trump. I know it isn't true but it seems as if Rex and the rest of alt-right are double agents for Trump. They couldn't be doing his bidding any better if they tried.

Anonymous 8:26 PM  

Alt left LOL, tough to tell the difference they're basically the same people

Anonymous 8:37 PM  

Yeah, the resistance has gone from risible to deadly. Utterly predictable.
Rex and his ilk are dangerous. Fanatics, unable to change their mind or the subject.

Anonymous 8:47 PM  

This is all about gun control . Ban all guns including rifles. Hunting must be banned. Don't want Rex to get any ideas.

Anonymous 9:00 PM  

FRITO PIE is most authenticity prepared en sac.

Anonymous 9:29 PM  

I have to laugh too when someone declares "frito pie" is not a thing simply because it doesn't exist in their experience. It's as if the Eiffel Tower is not a thing simply because you haven't been to France. How ridiculous! I grew up eating frito pie regularly as a meal and sometimes as a snack. It was also served at the school snack bar and was an option at every athletic event when I was a youngster. I suppose they don't serve it in those elite prep schools--ha ha.

Anonymous 9:37 PM  

Never heard of Fritos pie but hey, we all gave our wheelhouses, crosses were inferable, and even if they weren't oh never mind.

La Moda 11:01 PM  

Indeed she did. And many other things. Great writer, shrewdly observant, and modern fiction would not be the same without her.

Unknown 3:11 AM  

thank the good topic.

gclub online

Bryan 11:17 AM  

I'm relatively inexperienced at doing crossword puzzles, so could someone explain how "chemlab" is a valid answer... I thought of it, but immediately disregarded that thought because there was no indication in the clue that there was an abbreviation, or shortening of the answer.

This answer kind of throws out what I thought I knew about conventions for clues.

kitshef 3:01 PM  

@Z - half points in trivia?

@Bryan - good catch. Clue should have either indicated abbreviation or informal.

Tarheeled 4:53 AM  

@Unknown at 6:37 AM, why did you leave a perfectly good word out of your comment? Too many people are doing this!

thefogman 11:03 AM  

GOOGLEIT is a familiar phrase in our neck of the woods. I had hYPEr before I realized the answer was TYPEA. Thank you Rex for that great clip of Nina Simone. I highly recommend the documentary of her remarkable life: What Happened Miss Simone?

thefogman 11:30 AM  

Just out of curiosity, can somebody tell me what OFL stands for? I often see it being used here in reference to Rex Parker.

thefogman 11:33 AM  

Wait a minute. In regards to my comment just above, could OFL stand for Our Fearless Leader? If so, that's quite funny!

fakt chekker 11:57 AM  

@thefogman - nail on head re: OFL

Burma Shave 12:06 PM  


the TYPEA WOMAN’S DECISIONPOINTS to taking astride.
BYGEORGE, IMUS take his WAND and GOOGLEIT harder,
so ATTA time when he’s INDEEP he’ll TAPINTO my ARDOR.


thefogman 12:15 PM  

@ fakt chekker 11:57 AM : Thanks! And I didn't even need to GOOGLEIT :-)

rondo 12:44 PM  

So Dean ACHESON was in office before I was born. So were FDR and Lincoln. Doesn’t matter how old you are (looking at you, OFL) to know a little history. Having said that, I had no idea about a FRITOPIE. Kinda guessed what it might be after the answer appeared by crosses in the grid, but had to GOOGLEIT to make sure. Fixed w/o at WOMeNS and bOO (-hoo).

BY@GEORGE B – precipitate got a coupla laugh/groans amongst the engineers in the office. Good YOKE!

@D,LIW gets her NOVA right off at 1a.

In these parts BOOYA is a mystery stew that shows up in the fall, often in church basements. And I can’t count the different spellings and pronunciations of PIEROGI I’ve seen/heard, depending on nationality.

Can’t go wrong with yeah baby and Olympic champ TARA Lipinski. The WOMAN’S WON gold.

Agree with OFL leaning toward challenging. Must try FRITOPIE. Once.

spacecraft 2:30 PM  

DNF. First of all, I slept WAY in, 3 hours past normal. Happens every once in a while; who knows why? But then I could not get out of the north. No EARTHLY idea about FRITOPIE. access is a wAyINTO, and I simply never thought of TAP. Bum_____ ARIDE, really? And USED clued as an Amazon category? well, you got me. You want to bring Saturday clues to a Wednesday puzzle, you beat me senseless. You win. Next.

leftcoastTAM 5:14 PM  

Tough Wednesday. Could've been a Friday, IMO.

Main hold ups in upper middle, where Rex spilled a lot of red ink. Got through it with help from the MRS on FRITOPIE.

Other challengers: CHABAD, PIEROGI (another PIE), IONESCO (spelling). Still can't get with the BOOYA! exclamation.

But solved it with that help from "wifey", a dumb thing to call the MRS.

Diana,LIW 8:05 PM  

Back from a 7-hour dental appt. - crowning, part 3 of 4.

Calling SKEETERS "noseeems" is not the way to solve this puzzle.

That's all I have to say.

Diana, Lady in Waiting for more crowns

leftcoastTAM 9:13 PM  

@Lady Di--
I also was late here today because of a dental appointment concerning gum recession. My last crowning experience, one of many, went very well. Expect yours will too.

centralscrewtinizer 10:23 PM  

Hyper instead of TYPEA and gotINTO instead of TAPINTO consecrated a fine DNF on this elegant puzzle.

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