Text-displaying technology on Kindles / WED 6-7-17 / Jazzman Stan / Baseball boobird's target often / Road-scraping custom car / Worthless mounds

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Constructor: Timothy Polin

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: And the hits just keep on comin'... — familiar phrases ending in words that can (in other contexts) be synonyms of "hit"

Theme answers:
  • GARDEN SLUG (16A: Slimy outdoor pest)
  • GARTER BELT (24A: Item in the lingerie department)
  • "BLITZKRIEG BOP" (33A: Classic 1976 Ramones song that begins "Hey! Ho! Let's go!")
  • ARGYLE SOCK (45A: Diamond-patterned footwear)
  • OFF THE CUFF (54A: Improvised)
Word of the Day: EINK (36D: Text-displaying technology on Kindles) —
E Ink (electronic ink) is a paper-like display technology, characterized by high brightness and contrast, a wide viewing angle, and ultra-low power requirements. The technology has been commercialized by the E Ink Corporation, which was co-founded in 1997 by MIT undergraduates J.D. Albert & Barrett Comiskey, MIT Media Lab professor Joseph Jacobson, Jerome Rubin and Russ Wilcox. // It is currently available commercially in grayscale and color and is commonly used in mobile devices such as e-readers, and, to a lesser extent, digital signage, mobile phones, smartwatches, electronic shelf labels and architecture panels. (wikipedia)
• • •

What a strange little puzzle. Looks remarkably like a Friday (i.e. themeless) grid, with huge open corners and a very low word count (most themed puzzles run 74-78 words—this one's 70). And it played just like a themeless, in that I solved it without getting the theme or even noticing that there were theme answers. With a grid like this, longer Across answers just don't stand out, don't advertise themselves as "Themers!" There are four non-theme answers in the Acrosses that are just as long as theme answers one might see in other puzzles (i.e. 8+ letters long). So it's a themed puzzle disguised as a themeless. Also weird: how easy it was. I thought for sure that with that grid shape, I was gonna end up on the slow side of normal, but the opposite was true. Didn't break any records, but my time was far more Tuesday than Wednesday. So it's eerie, this thing—looks like something it's not, plays much easier than it oughta. The theme type is solid, sturdy, old as the hills. This iteration is solid enough (and the grid weird enough) to keep my interest. Entertaining longer answers, and (with some notable exceptions) a very clean grid overall.

This theme could've been much longer. Sunday-sized, possibly. RUM (or FRUIT, or HOLE) PUNCH? BONG (or SMASH or BOX OFFICE) HIT, TALKING SMACK, etc. But he chose the answers he chose, and these are fine. I'd be surprised if this puzzle didn't start with "BLITZKRIEG BOP," which is the marquee themer here, both in its centrality and in its originality. The fill was decent, but I had some issues. I didn't even know there *was* a UCSF (and I grew up in California) (9A: Bay Area campus, in brief). I'm pretty sure boots are STEEL TOE, not STEEL TIP (?) (11D: Hardy work shoe feature). Had no idea what people were asking Lassie to do (28D: Entreaty to Lassie); had GET ___ and cycled through lots of things that weren't the right answer: BENT, LOST, DOWN. Had STUMBLE before SHAMBLE (37D: Walk with an awkward gait). And then there's E-INK, which I got entirely from crosses and which is really about the ugliest thing I've seen in the Four-Letter Answer category in a long time. In my head, it's pronounced like the pig noise, only ... German-er. Oh, and at least one scuba diver has taken issue *again* with the NYT's scuba-cluing:

Two more things today. First, here is an article by Adrianne Jeffries at The Outline called "The NYT Crossword is Old and Kinda Racist," which you will love or hate or be indifferent toward (I'm quoted). And then here is a link to this fantastic new graphic novel about crossword puzzles called "Fun." It's a comic by Italian artist / writer Paolo Bacilieri about the history of the crossword puzzle, but it is also a detective story, so it essentially scratches every itch I have. Mainly, it is beautiful, and genuinely informative re: the crossword. I'm only about halfway done, but I already know I'll be giving copies as gifts and rereading it many times in the future.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

P.S. 50A: Campus V.I.P. (PROF.)—LOL, no. Trust me.

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


lassie 12:10 AM  


George Barany 12:17 AM  

@Rex, I love love your P.S. about PROF -- my thoughts exactly, and thanks too for explaining E-INK. This @Timothy Polin seems just about right for mid-week. GITMO brought to mind this brilliant Jon Stewart conceit.

jae 12:28 AM  

Easy Wed. for me too. PRes(z) before PROF was my only erasure. I did need to stare at EINK for a few nanoseconds (hi M&A) before I parsed it.

58a could also work as a theme entry but you'd need to change 13a (JAB?) for symmetry.

Solid theme, very little dreck, a bit of zip, liked it.

Brian 12:48 AM  

It's sort of amazing in a theme surrounding words meaning "hit" that not a single one has been common since... I don't know when. Not now, at least. To my ear, they would all be better fits for a Golden Age comic book than a 2017 crossword puzzle.

I guess it's for the best, then, that I didn't notice the theme while solving. I agree with Rex, it plays fine as an easy themeless, even adjusting the difficulty for Wednesday.

puzzlehoarder 12:52 AM  

I've always wished the NYT would just stick to theme less puzzles throughout the week. This played as close to a watered down theme less as you're going to get and a good example of how things could be.

mathgent 12:53 AM  

UCSF is the medical school of the University of California. It now has four campuses here in San Francisco. We natives call it UC Med.

An OK puzzle. Ten red plusses in the margins, about average for a Wednesday. I didn't notice all the hit words in the grid. I don't regret this lapse.

Anonymous 1:06 AM  

Loved the fill except for the lower-left corner of proper nouns, names: SISSY, HANSEN, GETZ. Theme was dull for a Wednesday but still way better than yesterday's forgettable puzzle.

Larry Gilstrap 1:09 AM  

Driving yesterday, I heard LOW RIDER by War, later talked to a friend about organ meat and used the word OFFAL, tonight played the cd GETZ/Gilberto during dinner, and have been reading about a terrorist named BUTT. Not sure I've ever worn an ARGYLE SOCK so I'm done with this thread.

NPR is my MSM and Liane HANSEN was the voice of Sunday morning for many years. I know WS liked her; who didn't? Radio voices connect intimately, as do podcasters. Ever seen Windsor Johnston or Lakshmi Singh?

I'm a California native, I had nothing to do with it, and balked briefly at UCSF. My phone tells me that it's a relatively small university with a big reputation. Its medical facility is named Zuckerberg General Hospital; yes, that Zuckerberg.

E-INK is some ugly fill, but what do I know?

Nobody's squawking yet about "There GOES the neighborhood"? Is that what the Cubans living near GITMO said? Sure, folks have put an innocent spin on the phrase, but I know better.

Ellen S 1:36 AM  

@JAE, congratulations on only one erasure. I always have many (which is why I like Puzzazz; easier than hunting for erasable ballpoint pens, or special pencils that write dark enough), but tonight, I had more than usual because the litter of orphan kittens I'm fostering decided to help. But I can't blame them for the error I wound up with -- "BLITZKREIG BOo", crossing STEEL Toe. I've kind of heard of the Ramones, but not the BOP thing, and STEEL Toe was obviously correct. So much for what's obvious.

Fun puzzle, Mr. Polin.

Robin 1:39 AM  

Worth it just for BLITZKRIEGBOP.

The one answer that messed me up was STEELTIP, because of course I thought it was STEELToe.

GETHELP was obvious in the context of Lassie.

Wondered if you'd comment on PROFS. Everyone knows that the university's deputy assistant vice-president for synergy has a higher pay grade than a common professor.

Anoa Bob 2:19 AM  

PROF as a V.I.P.? More likely it would be the head ___ (fill in the blank) coach.

The ATE IN/NOT IN, SOLD TO/CALLED TO & SET ON/FEAST ON sets caught my attention, but not in a good way.

EINK is something one might BLARE OUT when running AMOK.

drum365 2:29 AM  

A bit faster than my usual Wednesday. Didn't even notice there was a theme until I read it here- thanks for pointing it out!

I agree about STEELToe (is steel tip really a thing? Are we maybe talking about aglets, my all-time favorite crossword puzzle word?)

But I'm ready to forgive just about anything for "Lassie, get help!" Couldn't think of what it could possibly be, and then, once I saw what it was, realized it couldn't possibly be anything else. Grew up watching that show a long long time ago, when TV's were black and white, neighborhoods were black OR white, (oddly enough, I stumbled upon that Adrianne Jeffries article earlier today), and "there goes the neighborhood" meant one thing.

(And *ahem* work boots had steel TOEs.)

chefwen 2:55 AM  

Pretty violent puzzle, BOP and CUFF were the most mild.

When I was in the steel industry our warehouse guys wore STEEL TIP (toe) boots. One of the workers was moving a large piece of steel with a crane, it malfunctioned and dropped the bar and the shoe actually cut off two of his toes. Not a fun day at Bell Steel Sales.

Could have sworn that RICKI spelled her name with two K's, I was wrong.

Very easy for a Wednesday.

Anonymous 3:20 AM  

steel tip? never

uc med? hey mathgent. greetings from 3rd and hugo. i work at uc. my family works at uc. we all call it uc. sounds like "you see." Capiche?

what do you call hastings? uc law? are you the same guy who called it cal berkeley? you're an ess-eff native? not!

and, nothing wrong with people putting their name on buildings. haters gonna hate.

Scrollfinger 4:20 AM  

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evil doug 5:08 AM  

Ditto on STEEL Toe.

Really appreciated that the hit words are uncommon choices. It helped those theme answers leap off the page--especially when they're modified by BLITZKRIEG, ARGYLE, GARTER...(And I just missed the garter belt era. Doggone...)

But much of the fill pulsed with energy, too: SLOSH, ROTO-tiller, TAKE A KNEE, RAW, WOOFER, LONGHORN, LOW RIDER, PRONGED, HERESY, SHAMBLE...

Superior Wednesday kicks. Or bops.

Anonymous 6:04 AM  

Nice cross of Prof and Offal. Eric Clanton bopped a few dudes with a bike lock.

Anonymous 6:17 AM  

Garter belts went out when pantyhose came in. You'd have a hard time finding them in any lingerie department. This clue made me feel ancient!

Lewis 6:18 AM  


Wednesdays seem to be clued easier now; maybe Will has decided that they should lean closer to the beginning than the end of the week.


Title could be Timothy's Greatest Hits.

Richard 6:28 AM  

Steel-toe boots or shoes, STEEL-TIP darts. I do love my Kindle and its EINK.

Anonymous 6:38 AM  

I am a medical student not in California, and UCSF has some of the most coveted residency spots out there. People talk about it in intimidated tones. I was surprised to read both that it's unknown to Rex and that some people call it "UC Med".

Johnny 6:42 AM  

That linked article was just click-bait drivel.

I like the NYT puzzle so it apparently speaks to me. Does that make me old and racist?

evil doug 6:47 AM  

I can tell you who *weren't* campus V.I.P.s: Adjunct Lecturers. After I retired from Delta I was hired to teach Public Speaking 101 at Northern Kentucky U. Two (occasionally three--never four, because that meant you were entitled to benefits) sections per semester, and I was paid about $8k/year. Oh--I also had to pay $20 a semester for the privilege to park in the same lot as students....

Meanwhile, there were a few tenured professors who were treated like V.I.P.s, even as they mailed/phoned it in....

John Ogrady 6:48 AM  

Really? Now crosswords are racist?
Time to give the word up, it's over use is lessening its impact.

BarbieBarbie 6:51 AM  

@Richard, I agree. Steel tip darts. Steel-toed shoes. I still have them in my desk. I hate wearing them. But, policies gotta policy.
@chefwen, you're thinking of the mongoose. I did too; had to leave it temporarily blank. Same with Lassie, who I wanted to tell to COME HOME, but without enough room.
EINK is actually e-ink, and it is a thing, and has had enough publicity in the past couple of decades so that it is completely fair. No integrated light source needed, I think, so that your battery can last forever. But, monochrome.
I had friends who went to UCSF as undergrads, so it can't be exclusively a medical school. But I know it is that-- well-known for heart stuff.
Easy, easy puzzle. Less than half my average time. Maybe even a PR! I can feel pumped for the rest of the day now. The great thing is that even though it was easy, it wasn't boring. Very nice puzzle.

Forsythia 7:01 AM  

Didn't like this as I was solving, and had a DNF at the STEEL Toe/TIP since my husband wore those for work. Airport metal detectors didn't like them back in the olden days when you didn't have to take your shoes off.

@Anoa Bob said it well with all the IN, To, ON endings to answers and more in the clues as well, ugh.

And doesn't pass my "breakfast test" with ASH HEAPS, OFFAL, SLUG, BUTT, GITMO and LOWRIDER (which I recognize as a term on how some wear their jeans more than style of cars). Just icky feel.

But enjoyed remembering Leann Hansen.

Anonymous 7:08 AM  

If by VIP you mean vehemently intolerant prick, then yeah, Michael Sharp is a VIP.

Passing Shot 7:10 AM  

"only ... German-er" Ha! Quite enjoyed this puzzle, though I had no idea there was a theme until I came here. As others have said, this played more like a tough Monday.

Edward III 7:13 AM  

Garter Belts are still popular. Check out L'Agent by Agent Provocateur or any Lingerie site under hosiery.

kitshef 7:20 AM  

MEH, indeed. Many too many two-word phrases: ATE IN, SOLD TO, SET ON, NOT IN, BARE OUT, HAD IT, GET HELP, CALLED TO, FEAST ON. I could live with, say, two of those.

On the plus side, BLITZKRIEG BOP, ASGARD (thank you Marvel comics Thor). That’s it for ‘plus’ answers

Never a big fan of BLITZKRIEG BOP as a song, though. I’ll take Sheena is a Punk Rocker, thank you.

Hungry Mother 7:24 AM  

Never felt like a V.I.P. In my 30 years of professorship, but I knew some colleagues that thought they were. I did a lot of downs today, but very quick solve.

Glimmerglass 7:37 AM  

I've had a couple of Kindles, so E INK was a gimme for me. I don't think it's ugly, don't think it looks like oink. But although I've read how it works, I still don't understand how it works. It does, though. Readng on a Kindle is mch more comfortable than reading on a tablet. Work boots have steel toes, not STEEL TIPS, unless maybe on the aglets. Never noticed the theme. Needs a "revealer." Maybe smething about Batman comics.

Aketi 7:44 AM  

I'm kinda shocked that the UCSF med school that I thought was well known, apparently isn't.

The SLUG in the GARDEN made me check my confusion over whether snakes in the GARDEN are called GARTER or GARDEN snakes. Wikipedia didn't help; it just added more choices.

"GARTER snake, GARDEN snake, GARDENer snake, and ribbon snake are some of the common names for the nearly harmless, small to medium-sized snakes belonging to the genus Thamnophis."

Weird images embedded in the puzzle

I never really understood the origin of OFF THE CUFF so I looked it up. I had no idea CUFFS were the original teleprompters.

I know that the HORN on a LONGHORN is not typically PRONGED but I was curious if there are any anomalous LONGHORNS that end up with a PRONGED HORN and consulted Dr Google. I didn't find one, but I did find a PRONGED LONGHORN stud:

"Bullhead Longhorn Decorative Stud. This is a three bullhead stud. Has a real rockabilly look and can be placed on edges of collars, belts and so on. Can be used in juxtaposition to any other stud or spike for a nice design."

chefbea 7:50 AM  

Terrible puzzle. Had no idea what the theme was!!! And shamble=something that is messy not walking!!!

Anonymous 7:57 AM  

I took Comic Books class in college and was never taught personal responsibility. I now make $12 an hour and live in my parents' basement. Anyone know if and how I can get my money back to pay off student loans? Better yet, will you pay my loans for me?

Aketi 8:02 AM  

Hah, that TOE keeps being chopped OFF THE shoe, first by a pointe and now by a TIP.

There actually really are TOE shoes for running and swimming

Janet Hanks 8:04 AM  

Had the same reaction to PROF for "Campus VIP. " I'm not even sure the DEAN qualifies.

hankster65 8:06 AM  

"Lassie, get BENT!" Pretty sure I never heard Timmy say that. Funny stuff, Rex. GARTERBELT took me back, way back, to my early teen years when all those strange feelings begin stirring in a young man but let's not go there. Enjoyable enough puzzle, played more like an easy Monday for me.

Nate 8:07 AM  

I feel like the theme of this puzzle was "not the word you were expecting". Which would actually be a kinda fun puzzle, maybe. STEEL TOE... no wait, TIP? DEAN! No, PROF? GARDEN SNAK wait I ran out of room, SLUG? Eh.

Anyways, totally Natick'd by the HANSEN/NERO cross. 100% Natick'd! A full-throated, classic Natick. I could have gone with an N or an L for the crossing letter, and I went with L. Dumb on my part, but still. Please don't make me guess at letters shared by... well let's look these people up. We have a radio announcer who worked a Sunday morning NPR show and retired five years ago. And a fictional character (huh, who knew) made popular by mystery novels released from the 30's to the 70's. Cool, that's the epitome of "in" and "current" and "commonly known."

In other news, I happen to subscribe to the Outline's daily podcast, so I heard the interview that went along with Adrienne Jeffries' article. Needless to say, I agree with it 1000%, as my comment probably makes obvious.

Anonymous 8:19 AM  

Steel toe, no contractor would ever say steel tip.

Aketi 8:24 AM  

@kitshef, Thor gave me a TOEhold for remembering ASGARD, but mentally adding an S and a U (for M and A) really solidifies the deal. Sometimes in MMA I wish I had one. When I twist away from kick intended for my ribs that is too low, I end up getting a kick to the BUTT instead. Not as bad as taking it in the ribs, but still..

QuasiMojo 8:35 AM  

KAPOW! Holy Batman, I liked this puzzle. And Rex, I loved the FUN comic you cited. Or at least the snippet included. Looks quite ingenious.

I did not like the linked article. Like so many blog posts that try to be hip about racism and political incorrectness, it overstates its case and makes mountains out of ASHHEAPS. Yes, the Times is in decline, both as a newspaper and as a puzzle, but choosing those petty examples to illustrate it makes it seem like the biggest problem is tone-deafness. Are we not to use the term Oriental Rug anymore or Eskimo Pie because it's offensive to some? We need to broaden our minds, not narrow them. And calling people a hundred or two hundred years ago "RACIST" because they labeled many different peoples and tribes as one race is just plain stupid. A racist is more likely to be someone today who continues to do it. But back then people used much more offensive epithets to belittle others. Those do not and never have appeared in the NYT puzzle. To be offended by Sissy or Eskimo or Oriental now is to place them on the same level as much more offensive name-calling. That is a self-defeating and ultimately unwinnable argument. Choose your battles wisely.

RooMonster 8:43 AM  

Hey All !
Cracking up at Rex's Lassie Get ___ answers! I can imagine what Lassie would do with a Get Bent command! Or the Get Lost one.

Patting myself on the back for grokking the theme. At first thought it would be articles of clothing. Got CUFF and SOCK first, then got SLUG, let out a Huh?, finally gelled at BELT. Took a while for BOP, as had PoiNtED for PRONGED, and everyone's correct STEELToe. (Apostrophe courtesy of Auto Correct, so if it's wrong, it's not on me!)

Agree with Rex on funky-grid-for-a-themed-puz. But ended up with no dreck and a pretty flowing solve. And @M&A, there's a BOOT too boot!

Liked OFF THE CUFF, getting some F respect. Oh, and BUTT. Heh, heh, he said BUTT. :-P


Carola 8:55 AM  

I'll pick GEM as my word of the day: I thought the puzzle offered one treat after another - all of the theme answers plus STEADY JOB, ARGYLE SOCK, TAKE A KNEE, and...well, I won't list them all. Loved "Lassie, GET HELP!" along with WOOFER. Also good: SLOSH x SHAMBLE.

Add me to those who never noticed the theme; I was having too much fun to even think about it. And to those who knew E-INK: I have an original Nook, from the days when the technology was being advertised as a big deal. Also to those who erased Toe for TIP, except I had a previous erasure, too, having misread the clue as "Hardly a work shoe feature" = StileTto.

Anonymous 8:55 AM  

Sensible thinking.

pmdm 9:07 AM  

I used to work for OSHA. The phrase "steel tipped shoe" was common. Saying "steel toe tipped shoe" is awkward and redundant, since employers and employees know what you mean when you say "steel tipped shoes." "Steel toe" is of course correct and is also used (and is more accurate). But not exclusively. I heard "steel tip" often enough to justify its use in a crossword puzzle - the common-venacular-that-is-inaccurate rule.

I knew someone who was not tenured and taught voice (music) at NYU. He could add to the list of indignities included in Evil Doug's post. There tends to be few noble characteristics in university brass, methinks. And Evil Doug's former employer treated its reservation agents in NYC in a similar fashion. But I get off the subject of crosswords.

The theme of today's puzzle was not obvious to me. (even Jeff Chen complained about how hidden it it. I've noticed, I think, that when the themes are somewhat tricky, the puzzle is clued a bit easier than the day of the week usually demands. Perhaps that's why most of today's puzzle seemed easier than a typical Wednesday puzzle.

Lewis 9:12 AM  


"steel toe boot" -- 17, 600,000 hits
"steel tip boot" -- 1,640 hits

PRSolver 9:19 AM  

@Chefbea: something that is messy is a shambles, not a shamble. And when you shamble along, you are walking with an awkward gait.

Two Ponies 9:26 AM  

For a bit I thought we were building a man's outfit with sock, belt, cuff, and boot.

Not usually interested in sports trivia but boobird and take a knee might be worth remembering.

Fun Wednesday puzzle. Now off to look for garden slugs in my spinach.

Hartley70 9:26 AM  

Rex was in fine form today. I think this was one of his better posts. The link to Jeffries' article was appreciated. She restated Rex's views in a more palatable way to me, although I'm curious to see what @TwoPonies thinks of it. I'm not indifferent. I'm considering it, but that doesn't lesson my enjoyment. Someday Will will decide to head to Hawaii, work on a tan, and take up surfing as a religion. There will be a new era to complain about then and hopefully I'll be around to enjoy that one too.

This sure was a fast Wednesday, but I thought the themers were great. BLITZKREIGBOP cracked me up because it was new to me and I need to hear it. "I Wanna Be Sedated" is the only Ramones number on my playlist. I keep it there for emergencies.

GARTERBELTS gave me a smirk. They're still "around", but they're not so utilitarian any longer. Stockings gave way to pantyhose that gave way to bare legs. Thank goodness for that is what I say. Save the GARTERBELT for recreational purposes only.

Wm. C. 9:27 AM  

Remarkable that @Rex never heard of UCSF. I'm a Mass resident and had all my schooling here (20 years worth*), never visited UCSF, but certainly am aware of UCSF, with its top reputation in the health/medical arena. Probably other areas as well.

@Doug: Very true about the plight of adjuncts. Low pay, under-respected, and often over-worked. In contrast, some full profs are responsible for (maybe) two courses per semester, work 26 weeks per year, do only the lectures with content developed and re-used for years, and classwork taught and graded by TAs. And for this, at respected universities get a stipend of $150-200k per year. On top of this many double or triple this with consulting work for former students (or writing blogs) at several $k per day, while their TAs are back home doing the heavy lifting.

Obviously, this is not universally true. I've had several professors who are among the most admirable persons I know, and are a boon to their students and their employers.

*the best 6 years of my life was 9th grade. (heh, heh)

webwinger 9:30 AM  

Inspired today to mention that I'm often tickled by the titles bestowed on weekday puzzles by @RP. Today's was particularly apt. Also loved the tweets from @hels quoted by Rex, and I heartily second (or third?) his PS. Despite the sometimes grating negativity, my enjoyment of the puzzles would be much the less without this blog, and this blog exists only by dint of the amazingly ceaseless effort of OFL.

mathgent 9:50 AM  

@Larry Gilstrap (1:09): Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital and Trauma Center is a hospital funded by the city of San Francisco. Mark Zuckernerg and his wife have given generously to its improvement and expansion. They have given at least 75 million. UCSF is a school and a research center funded by the state of California through its educational system. Although there is quite a bit of cooperation between the two institutions, they are distinct entities.

Anonymous 9:59 AM  

Now Reality Winner is the victim. Well done parents.

Anonymous 10:00 AM  

Does anyone remember Rick Santorum?

Lars 10:08 AM  

Faster solve than usual Wednesday. Enjoyed it, but completely missed the theme, until reading Rex. Appreciated that none of the fills are on my list of "words" that I'd prefer never to see in crosswords again. A relief after the last few had many.

However, I had a quite different final sentiment than anyone else so far has mentioned. Having not seen the theme, the BOP part of the central themer meant nothing. Instead I just saw BLITZKRIEG shouting at me, which took my final thought in a quite different and dark-clouded direction than the solving experience had been.

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BocaBoy 10:09 AM  

I liked this puzzle! Just enough of a challenge for Wednesday, and little or no crosswords."

Two Ponies 10:19 AM  

@Hartley70, Sorry friend, ain't takin' the bait.

hankster65 10:25 AM  

Mic drop!

old timer 10:27 AM  

Here I am in Vermont, will be in NYC tomorrow. I think after 5 days here I still have jet lag. But the NYT is available in most stores in Rutland, the closest about .3 mi from my hotel. So I have not yet missed a puzzle.

A few notes: Eskimo was never a racist term. If it has been replaced by other terms, it is at the insistence of the local tribes or communities, for the Russian, Alaskan, and Canadian residents of the polar regions are quite similar. Same is true for "Lapp" once used to describe the residents of Lapland -- they are Sami, now, I believe.

SHAMBLE is not a word used much now, but it would describe my gait these days, as age has made it harder to walk briskly. No connection at all to "shambles" which is a word for the place a butcher works, and sometimes produces OFFAL. The Shambles in York is one of the oldest streets there, and had almost medieval charm when I first saw it in 1966.

Thanks @mathgent for clearing up the Zuckerberg hospital thing. I thought Zuckerberg gave the money for rebuilding SF General, the City's public hospital in the Mission, long the major trauma center there. The UC Hospital up on Parnassus Heights where UCSF's main campus is may have a donor's name too, but not I think Zuckerberg. UC hospital is where all the tough cases in the northern part of the Bay Area are sent. First rate specialists, who are for the most part also Med School PROFs. Who are, BTW, VIP's and paid accordingly.

Anonymous 10:28 AM  

I'm not happy with ATEIN. When you get takeout it is because you are going to "eat in". So the clue should be "got takeout", not "didn't get takeout".

Anonymous 10:29 AM  

The Jeffries column:

ESKIMO: now I know. I read as much as I can but sometimes things like this I never knew. Will be curious to see if my very progressive 12th daughter is aware of this. . .
LOLA: LOLA is, as far as I remember, a man. I think you could clue that answer without controversy and still reference the Kinks song "Met in a Club in Old Soho, in Kinks song" or "Who 'took me by the hand' in Kinks song". No?
Cluing oriental...cringe.
Use of answers from hip-hop raise a lot of questions. There are lots of ways to clue around them, but I'm not sure "YODOG" as clued in the article is. . .racist? I hear that in any Disney movie from the 90s/Aughts spoken by even minor characters.
Using foreign verbs. Disagree on ESOS. To be to Yves is ETRE. Unless I'm missing something, that's using a traditional (stereotypical?) name to clue a foreign word. NYET, OSA/O, MER, EAU, VENI/VEDI/VICI? ILLEGAL is ugly. Absence of accent marks? Really? That's a stretch. . .limiting to what is EASILY available on a QWERTY keyboard (no CTRL or ALT) sounds very reasonable.
I think there are DEFINITELY problems with some older cluing and answers, and LORELEI is a good example but then again I know LORELEI the mom, not LORELEI the mythical women, so I just learned something. And if you go the opposite way, like the Buzzfeed's went with rap lyrics and names, it pushes it to the other extreme and becomes running through the alphabet. It's tough to keep up!

Anonymous 10:32 AM  

What a strange puzzle.

Anonymous 10:39 AM  

Willie Nelson said it best. "Momma, don't let your babies grow up to be snowflakes."

Anonymous 10:40 AM  

The Jeffries column: political correctness carried to an insane extreme!

Joseph Michael 10:40 AM  

It's hard not to enjoy a Timothy Polin puzzle. The theme of this one was so buried that I didn't detect it until well after completing the solve. And enjoyed the Aha! when it finally "hit" me.


Did not like the Adrienne Jeffries article, which seemed like someone trying too hard to make a point.

Nancy 10:50 AM  

I thought I was avoiding this week's collection of pop hits by skipping yesterday's pop-hit-laden puzzle, but no such luck. There, in the middle of this lively and colorful puzzle, was BLITZKRIEG BOP, which of course I've never heard of. But I sort of am familiar with some German-derived words, and it filled in. I've also never heard of a WARDEN SLUG, which I suspect is a very good thing. But mostly no junk at all in this very nice Wednesday.

I thought of STUMBLE before SHAMBLE. I wondered how an "impossible" chess ending can ever be a MATE (15A). I was looking for a less fraught phrase for Lassie than GET HELP-- something like SIT, GIRL. And while I haven't read anyone here yet, I figure that GARTER BELT has garnered some comments. It's demise is one of the most pleasing things that's happened in my entire lifetime. I'll be curious to see what the other women here think. And the men, of course, who may think something entirely different. Oh, and I never noticed the theme -- but that was no loss. Enjoyed this.

ScreamingEagle 11:04 AM  

I'm surprised so many people think E-INK is bad. To me that's a perfectly legitimate word. Tons of people have Kindles and Nooks nowadays!

Also surprised people didn't know UCSF. Then again, I'm a medical student, and in medicine they're one of the most highly respected universities in the world.

I really liked the puzzle. I could go for more "easy" themeless puzzles (I know it had a theme, but it played like it didn't.)

My only complaint was HANSEN / NERO. That cross seemed way too difficult for the rest of the puzzle.

gitana 11:06 AM  

Can't believe no one mentioned the classic Shanahan Lassie "get help" cartoon! http://www.allposters.com/-sp/Lassie-Get-help-New-Yorker-Cartoon-Posters_i9166123_.htm

Mohair Sam 11:06 AM  

Well we liked the puzzle a lot and had a lot more trouble with it than Rex and most of you geniuses. I figured Lassie needed to GETHome, and I had two summer jobs requiring STEELToed shoes (screw what OSHA calls them), insisted those antlers were PointED, and I think a SHAMBLE is kind of a cool way to motivate Dude, nothin' awkward about it. Even tried for a moment to get an extra letter in alligator for ARGYLESOCK.

@Will Shortz - Regarding the Adrianne Jeffries link: It has to be hell putting up with the political garbage in this environment. But I would like to point out that 39A is an obvious kiss up to those left wing NPR listening snowflakes out there. And 6D is a clear attempt to normalize dangerous right-wing propaganda. Tone deafness for sure.

jberg 11:15 AM  

I got GARDEN SLUG (after checking the crosses to rule out 'banana') and then GARTER BELT and thought I was dealing with some kind of word ladder on steroids. But then I noticed the endings, and all was OK. But then I'd rather either have not had the extra themer in TKO, or else have PJS be something blow-related. Blow in the sense of 'hit,' that is.

I'm pretty ignorant of California geography, so I put in UCSb as the only 4-letter UC campus I could think of. (Well, there's UCSD, but I do know that much). It took all the crosses and then 10 seconds of staring to fix that one.

Ditto what others said on STEEL TOE and EAT IN. Also, I don't think you need the "(out)" to make kick = BOOT.

I liked the article. Some points may have been overstated -- OTOH, checking terms in the puzzle against the paper's style guide was a good insight.

And @Brian, I really hope the suggestion that a STEADY JOB is a thing of the past proves wrong!

Nancy 11:20 AM  

Oops. I just was reading the comments and I see that it's GARDEN SLUG, not wARDEN SLUG. Now that makes a lot more sense! (I had ASwARD as the home of the Norse gods.) Although the wARDEN SLUG does sound a lot less garden variety and therefore more interesting.

btw, @mathgent was kind enough to send me the Patrick Berry Fireball puzzle. It's genius and, not to brag, but I was able to do it and get the meta answer too. I'm off to my email to discuss it with him. Anyone who can get it -- don't miss it!

Sir Hillary 11:24 AM  

My experience was exactly like @Rex's -- felt like I was solving a Tuesday-level themeless. Didn't see the theme until reviewing the finished grid. I liked it.

So many more important things to worry about than the tone-deafness/whitishness/oldishness of the NYT puzzle, so count me indifferent. It is funny, though, how a puzzle that is deemed to be sliding into irrelevancy continues to attract so much writing, blogging, posting, tweeting, retweeting, etc.

Hartley70 11:27 AM  

@Larry Gilstrap, coincidentally I was listening to the Getz/Gilberto collaboration also. It's such a pleasure. What good taste we have.

Trombone Tom 11:30 AM  

Seemed on the easy side for Wednesday. My only hang-up was stumbling on the STEEL TIP work shoe. I used to work in a steel mill and nobody ever called them that . . . except maybe the OSHA guy.

I have always liked the word OFFAL. Didn't know BLITZKRIEG BOP but a little high school German goes a long way.

One of our daughters worked at the UCSF affiliated Gladstone Institutes. The newer UCSF Mission Bay campus is a huge affair.

Had to look twice to note the violent theme. Another great Tim Polin puzzle.

Mohair Sam 11:31 AM  

@Sir Hillary (11:24) - LOL - Point well taken.

kitshef 11:33 AM  

@Anon at 10:28 - ATE IN or TAKEAWAY are from the point of view of the restaurant. You either get your food to go, or get a table and eat in.

GILL I. 11:34 AM  

There are four things that never should have been invented for women....The pointy bra that might have taken out an eyeball or two, high heels (or any shoes for that matter), the girdle.... I wore a girdle exactly twice...to my first prom because the dress I borrowed from my best friend was too small. I couldn't eat a thing nor go the bathroom because I was afraid I'd never get that thing back up. The second time was to hold up a pair of pantyhose because the crotch part came down to my knees. Last, but not least, is the GARTER BELT. I borrowed my mom's waaaay back when I first tried on hose. She showed me how to fold the top neatly then clip the nylon on to hold it in place. Mine didn't hold in place. That clippy thing kept digging into my thigh; I was miserable. If you have a great body and don't mind body torture, by all means wear it!
Puzzle was ok. Manlyish with lots of kapows. Why no revealer? Also, like @Anoa, I was put off by the TO TO IN IN ON ON. GARDEN SLUG is just another name for escargot. Love Stan GETZ. Never heard of BLITZKRIEG BOP nor the Ramones. DOes one really BLARE OUT? I personally BLURT.
TKO and out.

oldbizmark 11:43 AM  

full on natick for me as well at the HANSE(h)/(h)ERO cross. otherwise, Monday easy.

Naryana Gora 11:49 AM  

I put a lot of pressure on the NYT puzzle because it's the only one I do. Today's puzzle was too easy and, therefore, disappointing.

Lassie, get lost! Very funny.

STEELTIP, never.

Granite STATER? Perhas. Golden stater. Evergreen stater. Wild Rose provincer?

Someone mentioned CUFF as being a teleprompter. Interesting. Didn't know that.


GHarris 11:51 AM  

Steel tips are sometimes installed on the soles of shoes (and on the back edge of heels) to prevent excessive wear. I, too, was undone by the inaccurate answer that really should be steel toe.

Malsdemare 12:21 PM  

I groaned when I saw all that open space and hadn't a clue what 1a was. But once I got a toehold (and, yes, work boots have STEELtoes; steel tips would not save you On a construction site or in a steel mill ), I flew through this. I loved SHAMBLE, ROTUND, WOOFER. I had to laugh at PROF as a campus V.I.P. No. Just no. And if you ordered out, you ATEIN, didn't you? No ordering out here in the boonies.

I finished in short order. So now I shall read comments and see what y'all thought.

Masked and Anonymous 12:23 PM  

Liked this WedPuz a whole lot.
Bullet points:
1. "Lassie, GET HELP!" All-time M&A fave cartoon caption, in the first of its two panels. In second cartoon panel, Lassie is on a psychiatrist's coach.
2. SLUG-BELT-BOP-SOCK-CUFF-TKO. (Maybe throw in a TAKEAKNEE, somewheres.) Solid, non-feisty but belligerent theme.
3. Primo grid design. Has yer famous Jaws of Themeless bookends, in N and S ends. Definitely a themeless themed puzlook.

Was a pretty smoooth solvequest. Made M&A snort in proud triumph, when he KO-ed this bruiser in the tenth nano-second of an early-ish round. (yo, @jae) Puz was just plain F-U-N, like the top of Mr. Bacilieri's building.

staff weeject pick: Any three letters of EINK.

Coolest collateral fillins: STEADYJOB. LOWRIDER. SHAMBLE (fave SHAMBLE clue ever: {Quiet walk}, by Mel Taub). GETHELP. ROTUND. WOOFER. BUTT.
Desperatest collateral day-um-age: EINK. UCSF. OFFAL. AMIES. EINK.

Thanx for the sparfest, Mr. Polin. Was 5 hits in one, for m&e.

Masked & Anonymo4Us

themed themeless side of the fence:

Cassieopia 12:29 PM  

Great Rex writeup, great puzzle, my solving experience was totally in line with the comments here except for @Nancy with wARDENSLUG which I really do wish was a thing. I'm envisioning a tiny hat and badge, and perhaps even a single STEELToe boot...

Thank you Timothy and Rex. Very nice Wednesday all around.

CDilly52 12:31 PM  

Overall an enjoyable puzzle with (to me) a decidedly (tongue in cheek) German flavor, starting with BLITZKRIEGBOP and then the EINK, which I got entirely from crosses, did not read the clue and pronounced as if it were part of "Der alte MadDonald eine Bauernhoff hatte...und am diese Hoff gehabt eine Schwein...mit EINK EINK hier....???

Pardon my exceptionally rusty German. Since the death of dear Gran (from the Black Forest) my life guide and crossword mentor I have let the language slip. Sorry, Gran; shame on me. But she and I would have had a good chuckle about this one!

Sam 12:32 PM  

Yeah, I work at a factory and I've never once heard STEEL TIP. Rarely "safety toe" but that's only used to include composite toes that meet the safety requirements. Also when you Google "steel tip" the first 3/5 autocomplete suggestions are dart-related.

I'm very familiar with the Ramones, so I don't know if I've ever been more positive of two conflicting crosses both being right. Luckily BLITZKRIEG BOP was factual, and I could quickly discard steel toe.

mathgent 1:14 PM  

Today's WSJ puzzle is a Jeff Chen. Smart, of course, with an original gimmick and a lot of sparkle. Excellent piece of work.

I'm wondering why Jeff didn't send it to Shortz instead of Shenk. It's probably too hard for a Wednesday NYT but not hard enough for a Friday or Saturday. And Thursdays need to be quirky.

Teedmn 1:18 PM  

Har, was discussing the puzzle theme with a co-worker - SLUG, BELT, BOP, SOCK, KNEE. Said co-worker wasn't sure if that was a "theme". I read off Jeff Chen's list of the theme, over at xwordinfo, and came to CUFF and gasped - had I committed a four letter DNF and not even known it? Naw, just looking at the wrong entry. And KNEE does continue the violence, in a way that makes one wince.

I had @Rex's STEEL Toe and scratched my head when I tried to GET "girl" into 28D for what was BLAREd OUT to Lassie but PROF (PRez first) HELPed clear 28D up.

Lots of great words here: SOLAR BUTT GOES PRONGED BLOBS. OFFAL SOFT NERO GETHELP. Some sort of telegramese message in those downs.

Thanks, Mr. Polin, nice Wednesday.

lassie 1:52 PM  

Hey @gitana,

See my post at 12:10 am. First thought was the famous NYer cartoon.

QuasiMojo 2:17 PM  

@Nancy, perhaps you were thinking subliminally of "ASbackWARD?":) I like the idea of a Warden Slug too.

Anonymous 2:36 PM  

@Sir Hillary and @Mohair,

I had the same thought regarding the puzzle's putative demise.
I won't speak for you, but I know I'm not nearly smart or sensitive enough to understand all the slights and micro aggressions those big bad male constructors and ( editor) continue to inflict on the public.

By the way, what the hell is the matter with oriental anyway Ms. Jeffries? Asia is a really big place. using orient whittles it down nicely. By the way, feel free to call me occidental any day.

Anon South jersey

socdem 2:52 PM  

My initial guess upon finishing was that this was supposed to be a themeless Friday that the editors thought was waaaay to easy and slotted into a Wednesday instead. Turns out there actually was a stealth theme. Very strange, but overall I still like it. Interesting clues/answers, very clean, and fairly original. Maybe the NYT has stumbled upon a way to improve its recent M-W slump!

Joe Bleaux 3:09 PM  

How busboy rip off waitress? Steal tip!

Devin W 3:12 PM  

Easy solve but WTH is a Steel Tip!!!? It's called a steel toe boot. Nobody calls them Steel tips

Davis 3:51 PM  

@BarbieBarbie You may be thinking of USF, which is a different school (it's a Jesuit university). UCSF doesn't have an undergrad program.

Doc John 3:56 PM  

There is also a San Francisco State University (SFSU) that many confuse with UCSF.

Anonymous 4:46 PM  

Which school did Eric Clanton teach at?

Pepe 4:56 PM  

That would be Diablo Valley College, Pleasant Hill, East Bay, CA.

Nowhere near Kekistan.

Naryana Gora 5:25 PM  

I think most universities are under the umbrella of S.N.A.F. University.

Naryana Gora 5:25 PM  

I think most universities are under the umbrella of S.N.A.F. University.

Anonymous 8:15 PM  

You're an asshole. I re-read your explanation of the theme. No need to bring context into the discussion. They are all synonyms for hit.
I wouldn't quibble, but for happening upon your twitter feed. Setting aside your bizarre use of capital letters, I'm quite sure, having read you for years, that you are spectacularly ill equipped to invoke Aristotle. I have spent a goodly part of my life exploring The Philospher, and frankly, seeing you even mention him is enraging.
BUT I'll call your twitter bluff.
Post the paper that you withheld owing to politics, and let us have it.
You won't of course, you're a coward. A blowhard. And not nearly as good a constructor as you think you are.
E.TV. Maleska

Anonymous 8:22 PM  

Major league A-hole.

Margaret 8:17 AM  

Ah Rex, I see that 50 A (Campus VIP) made you laugh, or weep, too. Couldn't decide it Polin was being ironic, or just a tad behind the times. Too many of us profs these days who are untenured, and/or hired by the course. Essentially powerless. As well.


ชื่อที่แสดง 6:01 AM  

You're an asshole. I re-read your explanation of the theme. No need to bring context into the discussion. They are all synonyms for hit.

thanks for sharing...


Burma Shave 10:29 AM  


You look ROTUND and OFFAL SOFT!”


rondo 11:39 AM  

Actually, EINK is a very short German footrace, not much more than a sprint. Got the theme after BLITZKRIEGBOP which changed my STEELToe into the TIP. Over in the SW a MEH answer turned BLuRtOUT into BLAREOUT.

TAKEAKNEE is a well-known phrase hereabouts relating to then Vikings coach, the ROTUND Denny Green, using that strategy which ended up costing us the 1998 NFC title game and a Super Bowl appearance. Say TAKEAKNEE around here and you might get SOCKed or SLUGged or BELTed or BOPped or CUFFed.

I see one circled clue for yeah baby SISSY Spacek.

Despite the overload of partials in the NE the REST is as good as it GETZ mid-week.

spacecraft 12:44 PM  

Gotta admit I didn't get the hit theme till coming here; that adds points, but not many. Clean fill? I see plenty of exceptions, starting with two--crossing!--RAP's in CALLEDTO and SOLDTO. There's more, but I have to go, so I'll just say: par.

rain forest 2:06 PM  

An entertaining, easy Wednesday puzzle.

Yes, steel Toe. I've seen steel-tipped Italian shoes, but I believe they would be NSFW. About the GET HELP entreaty: if I had ever asked that of my wonderful Golden retriever, I'm pretty sure she would have brought back a pair of my socks.

I don't know if it is a weakness or even worthy of comment, but as I solved, I noticed 5 answers ending in prepositions (two TOs, two INs, and an OUT).

Nice theme which I only noticed after perusing the grid following my solve. I thought the fill was fine.

leftcoastTAM 2:18 PM  

STEADY, easy solve for the most part. Theme was pretty well hidden, randomly scattered. Might add BOOT and KNEE to the mayhem.

Didn't know the Ramones' song, so it didn't reveal the BOP. LOW blow dnf there.

Not OFFAL, but MEH.

Diana,LIW 2:19 PM  

Not sure why I did this, but today I started with all the 3s. Then went to the 4s. Then the 5s. (You guessed that, didn't you? Thought so.)

Then did the rest - this process made this easy puzzle even easier. Thot Rex would have the proverbial cow. Moo being one of the 3s left out. AYN, PJS, UMP, NRA, TKO, LES, AND, GEM, HEW - never saw those before, right? MEH. Then we land on a BUTT (or KNEE) to BOOT - can't get any REST. And then EDEN premieres in the NYTP. Made for a kind of funny experience.

I did the same solving technique with my paper's other puzzle - 90% + filled in by the time the 5s came along. Whenever I read criticisms of the NYPT, I turn to the Daily Commuter for comparison. NYTP wins, hands (or KNEEs) down.

Other than not seeing the "theme" 'till I got here, it themed like a Monday.

Note to self - remember Norse gods' home for future reference.

Do it in EINK.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting

Anonymous 2:22 PM  

Solved without hints but made three mistakes. BLURTOUT instead of BLAREOUT instead of WIIFII instead of WOOFII and Nink instead of EINK. Oddly all of the misspelled words were vowels.


Jentaps 4:07 PM  

I don't complain about all the places and colleges I haven't heard of. I didn't grow up back East, so RPI, etc. always throw me for a while. Rex, you haven't heard of UCSF?! And you say you grew up in CA?! There are a bunch of UCs. LA would come to mind first, but what's another big city in CA? Oh, right. San Francisco! I think I've heard of it. Maybe they even have a University! No one will read this, since it's two weeks later, but had to post.

Linda Daugherty 7:04 PM  

The unusual thing about UCSF is that it doesn't have an undergraduate program like all of the other UC campuses. Therefore no sports or anything that would give it any publicity.

Linda Daugherty 7:05 PM  

I'm here, many weeks later! See comment below, as I failed to use the reply option at first.

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