Rear seating compartment in old automobiels / Purple smoothie flavorer / Org that's nearly one fourth Canadian / Portrayer of Mr Chips / Spring river breakup

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Constructor: Alex Bajcz

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: "Preposition Proposition" — verb phrases that are modeled (verb + preposition) are reimagined as hyphenated noun phrases, with resulting wackiness:

Theme answers:
  • PULL-UP STAKES (23A: Wagers for a gym exercise?)
  • PICK-UP STEAM (33A: Bad thing to see under a truck's hood?)
  • WALK-ON WATER (48A: Unrecruited athlete's bottleful?)
  • DEAD-ON ARRIVAL (64A: Timely entrance?)
  • STAND-IN LINE (82:A Understudy's delivery?)
  • PUT-ON NOTICE (97A: Scam alert?)
  • RUN-IN CIRCLES (112A: Fight clubs?)
  • SET-TO MUSIC (37D: Soundtrack for a brawl?)
  • GO-TO PIECES (44D: Compositions often chosen for encores?)
Word of the Day: TONNEAU (20A: Rear seating compartment in old automobiles) —
  1. the part of an automobile, typically an open car, occupied by the back seats.
    • short for tonneau cover. (google)
• • •

It's a simple concept, and it is ... executed. I mean, it does what it does. More of a "hey ... interesting" -type theme than an "ooooh"-type theme, but OK.  There is a certain (perhaps numbing) consistency to the structure of these themers. The clues very rarely get to the level of wackiness normally required for me to enjoy wacky puzzles. And man oh man, with a puzzle saturated with prepositions (in the themers), it would be great if it were not also saturated with prepositions generally. I mean, yikes and EEKS. You've got PUSH IN, TOSSES TO, FLIES TO, OD ON, not to mention ONA and ATA ... it's a lot. It's possible I missed one. Don't really feel like checking thoroughly. The theme is very dense, which ... why? It's not like I"m clamoring for more of this theme. If you've seen 7, you've seen 9. I'd prefer a cleaner / more interesting overall grid to more theme stuff. Sometimes themes seem to try to compensate for mediocrity with density. I don't recommend this. I recommend starting with a baseline of non-mediocrity. I have nothing much against this puzzle, but nothing much for it, either. I really like PINCHRAN (21A: Replaced someone on a base). Is that weird? Probably. I'm just really into baseball right now, despite my team's being abysmal. Longer fill is normally a chance for a grid to shine, but today there's some really awkward stuff, like MISSES A CUE and STEP OUT OF (more prepositions!), and it just doesn't Do much to enliven the grid. ATE RIGHT, that's pretty good. In-the-language, original. More of that would've been nice.

I flew right through this one, and didn't notice much worth commenting on. I found that bank of Downs up top—APEAK, DISGUSTED, ENCIPHER—pretty tough, first because I forgot APEAK and wrote in ABEAM, second because the clue for DISGUSTED did not really seem like it was looking for an adjective (13D: Saying "Ewww!," say), and third because ENCIPHER ... I'd say DECIPHER, but ENCRYPT. So ENCIPHER just took some patience and acceptance. Your boy ANKA is back for another go 'round. Let's hear more of his pop warblings, shall we?

And now a word about GO OK. In the grid there is no space between GO and OK, and so you get an answer that looks like a racial slur, and while I didn't even blink at this (I was going too fast to think about parsing), lots of people did, in fact, blink:

I know the answer is totally defensible (it's not clued in a racial way, etc.), I think it's reasonable to ditch the answer entirely in the interest of not having an apparent racial slur hanging out in your grid. It's not as if GO OK is such great fill. As Evan Birnholz rightly pointed out to me, you lose Nothing in terms of puzzle quality by going with AREN'T / ROOK instead of AGENT / GO OK. Without having a big fight over this issue, please consider deleting this letter sequence from your wordlist. It costs you nothing, zip, nil, zero, and eliminates a possibility for people's taking offense, or even just being mildly put off. It's not as if GO OK is beloved—losing it is not a hardship.

Also, this from sportswriter / radio host Dan Bernstein, re: 48A: Unrecruited athlete's bottleful? (WALK-ON WATER):


So there you go. Enjoy your Sunday.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Anonymous 12:29 AM  

NOONER in my linguistic experience is much more of an afternoon delight than going to the bank or getting the dry cleaning.

Randall Clark 12:42 AM  

So people are offended that GOOK (go ok) happens to look like disrespectful term for an Asian? So I guess CRACKER can never be an answer, no matter how clued, and NIGGARDLY is right out? How about DOOK? Sure it can represent do okay, but it looks like it's short for dookie, which means poop! Quick, drag me over to my fainting chaise! Texas grocery chain HEB looks like Hebe, armor flaw CHINK, masked raider COON, surprise volleyball shot DINK, lily pad occupant FROG, tiny shot NIP... Hell, perennial answer OREO is apparently an ethnic slur for someone who is black on the outside and white on the inside, according to wikipedia. Get a grip!

Harryp 12:49 AM  

Pretty good Sunday puzzle by Alex Bajcz. Prepositions changing propositions, is what I call it. Many, many ways to go wrong, but ultimately satisfying.

Harryp 1:19 AM  

I just read OFL's take on the puzzle, and just noticed we had the same opinion on preposition/proposition. I should have read him first, but had my take ready to go.

Larry Gilstrap 1:24 AM  

I actually used the theme to help fill in this big old Sunday, after coming up with WALK-ON WATER. Good enough for who it's for, as they used to say in the home remodel business. The English language is chock full of idiomatic expressions and prepositions are right in the middle of many of them. Tricky for language learners.

When I taught a lesson on prepositions, I began by drawing a tree on the board complete with a stick figure small rodent on the trunk. I would say, "A preposition in anything a squirrel can do to a tree," meaning, of course, the relationship between two nouns. You know: to the tree, from the tree, of the tree, beside the tree. I enjoyed it, anyway.

Sad image of one TERP singing, "Fight, fight, fight for Maryland!" A solo rendition of a call to action might work, but it had better be rousing.

Spent much of my youth STANDING IN LINE. I'm a Baby Boomer, so everything I ever did was crowded. Couldn't believe my ears the first time I ever heard of someone STANDING oN LINE. Live and learn.

Teachers normally get short duty-free lunch breaks with little time for running errands. NOONERS have another connotation, or am I reading too much into this? I guess it could have happened. I heard rumors.

Theodore Stamos 1:34 AM  

Finished in half my normal time. I thought the theme was clever - I'm not a constructor but I would imagine these themers would be hard to come up with? Re "GOOK": if you are bothered by the mere appearance of a word that LOOKS like another word, then you are too fragile for this world. You should encase yourself in a plastic bubble and stare at a wall.

TomAz 1:34 AM  

@Randall Clark 12:42 AM: you know why no one says 'niggardly' anymore? yes, that's why. Sometimes I wonder what goes on in the minds, such as they are, of the Fox News set. sheesh.


this puzzle was pretty 'meh' for me. I mean I got it, I solved it, way way below Sunday average in fact. I found the theme more of a chore than a delight. Maybe that's just me.

I also liked PINCHRAN, because I am also really into baseball right now, except my team is doing very well (yes, it's early, too early, yet, I know, shaddup). Tonight though we had a baserunning error by a guy who hit a rare home run (would have been 6th of his career, had he not passed the runner in front of him, who had returned to first to tag up, not realizing the ball was going to carry).

I prattle because I can't find anything else to complain about or compliment. Me, indeed.

robin 2:28 AM  

The Times website claims that this is my record fastest Sunday finish. I could have sworn it took somewhat longer, but hey if the Times says it's true, it must be so.

82A may have confused NYers who stand on line. No?

sanfranman59 2:50 AM  

This week's relative difficulty ratings. See my 1/2/2018 post for an explanation of my method. In a nutshell, the higher the ratio & percentage, the higher my solve time was relative to my norm for that day of the week. Your results may vary.

(Day, Solve time, 26-wk Median, Ratio, %, Rating)

Mon 4:52 4:18 1.13 80.8% Challenging
Tue 4:25 5:37 0.79 7.3% Easy
Wed 4:46 6:00 0.79 14.6% Easy
Thur 18:02 10:09 1.78 96.7% Very Challenging
Fri 13:01 13:23 0.97 44.0% Medium
Sat 18:34 16:06 1.15 71.8% Medium-Challenging
Sun 16:07 21:52 0.74 15.2% Easy

Simple but kinda cute theme. My fastest Sunday in more than two months, even as I was distracted by the sports extravaganza that's on television this weekend (baseball, playoff hockey and playoff basketball).

My hilarious answer of the week: CA____ salad? CArrot, of course! And I have a chicken Caesar salad from my neighborhood grocery for dinner about once a week. Yeesh.

TONNEAU seems like a real outlier here. Other than ODON and GOOK, the puzzle seems pretty dreck-free to me. While it's not clued pejoratively, I'm a little surprised GOOK got past the Gray Lady's censors.

Loren Muse Smith 2:52 AM  

Man oh man oh man do I like this kind of theme. Yeah, yeah – what don’t I like? But I tell ya – since marveling over language is my thang, any crossword puzzle is just calls forth my inner gush beast.

I like this on so many levels –

1. Being shown the ambiguity of some of our compounds.
2. Sitting there and saying PICK-UP STEAM and pick up steam over and over and appreciating the subtle difference in stress. Then saying She had a melt-down watching the ice cream melt down her silk shirt. Over and over.
3. Enjoying the startling change in meaning that occurs when you reconsider the phrase in its compound version.
4. Trying to think of other possibilities. The hard part, I found, is not finding a compound (push-up, blackout, meltdown, spot-on, take-out, blah blah). The hard part is finding a non-compound phrase that happens to have the compound. PICK-UP STEAM and PULL-UP STAKES are brilliant.

Wanna know about some high PULL-UP STAKES? When your kid still wets the bed sometimes and is invited to a sleepover. Those pull-ups become Cri Ti Cal.

Ate clean - ate right - ATE LIGHT. Pick your suck-the-joy-out-of-life version.

Rex – I noticed the other preposition (particle?)-final entries, too, but SHAKE-UP is the only one that could approach veering out of its non-themer lane.

And again, Rex – I liked PINCH RAN, too. Is it Mom moonlighted or moonlit as a waitress? Have you ever weed-eated or weed-eaten?

@Larry – I like to use the “anything a bee can do to a jar” preposition example. And then I tell’em you can duct-tape the jar to a badass bee, and it can fly despite the jar. Bam. But they’re never impressed.

@puzzlehoarder – hope the wedding went off with, well, with just one hitch!

@TomAZ, @Randall Clark, @ - just keep on putting your dook thoughts to paper. This is certainly a topic that could bring people to blows, but, as they say, The ___ __ mightier than the sword.

chefwen 3:06 AM  

First fill was 1A with PFFT and thought if that’s right this is going to be a fun puzzle and it was. Totally enjoyed it from PFFT to NOONERS, which I also think has nothing to do with errands. Loved all the themers, especially DEAD ON ARRIVAL and PUT ON NOTICE.

TONNEAU was unknown, thank you crosses, same with NONO and PITCH RAN. My baseball knowledge is minimal at best.

Like Rex wanted AbEaM at 12D. BITCH RAN was funny but I was pretty sure wasn’t right.

Fun Sunday.

Anonymous 3:56 AM  

Enjoyable puzzle. I put in GOOK and thought, that's not right, and took out the G and K. Randall's points well-taken. As for Theodore Stamos, I am a psych nurse and you... are not.

Carola 4:17 AM  

I thought this was awfully creative and clevler. Along the lines of @Lorens point #3 above, the phrases reminded me a little of those optical illusions (rabbit or duck?), rendered into language. Very fun to "see" the alternate meaning. My favorites were DEAD-ON ARRIVAL GO-TO PIECES (for the concert hall) and SET-TO MUSIC (for the back alley). Other pleasures: SALT MINE, ENCIPHER, KNAPSACKS.

Origins of dissing? PUT-DOWN ROOTS.

JOHN X 6:07 AM  

How about SLOPE? That was in the puzzle just little while back, I didn't read any complaints. Some people seem to seek out offense where there is none, I guess.

Speaking of racial slurs, whatever happened to HONKY? I really only ever heard that on TV and movies; the real term I sometimes overheard was OFAY. I bet you'll have to look that one up. When I was an 11 year old Boy Scout in 1973, we went on an urban history hike on Capitol Hill in Washington DC (we lived in Arlington right across the river). At one point we got lost and walked through one of the neighborhoods nearby and for about two blocks all the kids there were chanting "whitey - whitey - whitey . . ." At the time I thought we were gonna die but looking back it was kinda cool.

Lewis 6:18 AM  

I loved this theme -- for me, it was an "ooooh"-type. I've never seen it before -- so, props for that -- and, well, it's just cool that you can do this with our language. The rest of this puzzle felt kind of quirky, with its mix of easy and vague cluing, and some odd answers (TONNEAU, ENCIPHER). NOONER and NOONERS have appeared in the NYT ten times, and only twice have they been clued in an afternoon delight sense, so the Gray Lady is alive and well.

Mostly, though, I saw this as a stand-up puzzle because the theme made me stand up and holler.

Diywriter 6:22 AM  

Lifelong Dem and all that, but have to agree with Randall Clark re GOOK. Have a Vietnamese friend, left on one of the last boats in '75, who sometimes jokes about that word. He clearly feels there are more important things to worry about. We need to pick our fights sensibly.

chefbea 7:27 AM  

What a weird puzzle...didn't get it at all!!!

Miriam Sicherman 7:58 AM  

Interesting that people are so offended by people who are uncomfortable with GOOK. Sometimes I think the "offended-by-others'-offense" crowd are really the over-sensitive ones.

Ruth F 8:02 AM  

Loved this puzzle for many of the same reasons that made Loren Muse Smith marvel. Also, I confidently put in several wrong answers — push on for push in, ice out for ice run, (Betting on ice out on Joe’s Pond is an annual tradition in my neck of the woods) Thought 73 across was some sort of mill instead of mine. I always enjoy misdirects - whether in my brain or that of the constructor. In my defense, I was watching “The Zen Diaries of Garry Shandling” while solving, I highly recommend it to anyone who loves comedy, Buddhism, and is fascinated by neuroses. Fun and fascinating.

Anonymous 8:08 AM  

Getting your panties in a knot over go ok is not okay. Sheesh. Get a life.

John Morrison 8:09 AM  

It is interesting to note that tonneau is French for barrel.

Ralph Phillips 8:10 AM  

Walk the class to the cafeteria, get your lunch, get back to pick up class at cafeteria, who has time for a nother of any kind?

Passing Shot 8:11 AM  

I have no problem with the word niggardly. It’s a word that has no connection to the slur like which it sounds (nor is it even spelled similarly — we’re talking about a crossword puzzle here). I do have a problem with GO OK showing up in a puzzle for no good reason.

When I think of NOONERS, I think of something more pleasant than running to the post office for stamps.

Did not enjoy this one, despite completing it in half my normal time.

Hmmmmm 8:13 AM  

I'm a Never-Fox and I agree with Randall, too. Chill, people.

kitshef 8:19 AM  

The plethora of non-theme prepositions; feature or flaw?

learned: TONNEAU
Future dook: Problem at a budget hospital – NO O.R.
Odd clue: NOONERS – that’s not what a NOONER is where I come from.

Birchbark 8:53 AM  

I TONNEAU about this one, but I'm not HOSTEL about it. I like GO-TO PIECES.

And ICE RUN + WALK ON WATER. If you could combine 82A's STAND with 33A's STEAM you'd have an interesting trifecta of sorts.

The ides of April = a foot of snow and still going. NO NO, EGAD. My baseball team is in first place but didn't play this weekend. We had tickets for the Friday night game and were relieved when they called it.

Now to plow the driveway, then snowshoe into the woods. How else to come to terms with fate?

brainman53 9:13 AM  

I thought it was called a rumble seat. Never heard of tonneau but the puzzle was so easy (LA Times-like clueing) that the word just filled itself in. I did enjoy the theme.

Beyond that, "What they said".

QuasiMojo 9:20 AM  

I'll be brief today (for a change) since I am wrapping up my taxes (sort of like a very messy GYRO in a PITA), but I am in agreement with both Rex and @LMS! Too many UPs and TOs and INs. I had TRUMBLE thinking of RUMBLE SEAT before TONNEAU, but always like learning a new word, and the aforementioned wordplay was fun to suss out. I had ATE LIGHT though for a long time as I am on a diet. Both fiscal and physical.

As for the GO OK DOOK, I agree that it could have been easily avoided, but what I don't cotton to is the extreme TSK TSK I'm smarter than you and more ethical and just a cooler person attitude of the tweeting twits in the peanut gallery commentariat. Let he who casts the first stone... The hectoring tone is obnoxious. Try to avoid using the words "DON'T EVER" in a sentence. It sounds shrieky and EEKy and ultimately undercuts your argument of being on the RIGHT side of history. Shrill out!

Anonymous 9:22 AM  

theme OK - some totally moronic clues - specially for non-USA residents (e.g. ipa ...)[yes we do read the INT!] - also escalades WERE correct some time ago - but could not find an escalade in the top 10 in 2018,2017 and 2016 .....

Teedmn 9:34 AM  

I love this rethinking of common phrases. The first one I got was DEAD-ON ARRIVAL (solving randomly means filling in weirdly). That wasn't my favorite, though. I really liked STAND-IN LINE, WALK-ON WATER and PICKUP STEAM. GO-TO PIECES was pretty good also.

I dOOKed before GO OK showed up, at 39D. Yes, I noticed the other way it could be parsed. All I can say is, I doubt it will become a blog GO-TO word like DOOK has. Like at @Rex, I had AbEAm in at 12D; I was wondering what on earth bI_CHRAN was going to be - no way! (Hi @chefwen)

Very nice Sunday, Alex Bajcz (and that last name needs to go into a puzzle someday!)

@Birchbark, we get to go dig my Dad's car out of the local bowling alley parking lot. Why he thought driving his Mustang in yesterday's weather was a good idea, I just can't understand. Luckily our 4WD PICKUP came to the rescue.

Hungry Mother 9:34 AM  

Very quick one today. Very routine, not much fun.

Glimmerglass 9:45 AM  

TONNEAU persists in “tonneau cover” —which fits over the bed of a pickup truck. I had no problem with GO OK. I didn’t ever think of the racial slur. Why would I? However, I would have no problem with an answer clued as a racial slur. “Insulting American racial slur for a Korean War enemy.” Even the N-word is just a word from U.S. racist history. It is what it is. In the language of innocent Huckleberry Finn, it becomes heartbreakingly ironic. Twain was not a racist — he was a genius.

Brian 9:46 AM  

The sentence "Never end a sentence with a preposition" ends with a preposition.

Anonymous 9:47 AM  

Let me guess: The posters offended by "gook" are not Vietnamese, but privileged white people.

Alysia 9:59 AM  

@Anonymous 9:22 - you’re reading “big” incorrectly. I made the same mistake, then realized it was a bit pun-ny.

Bruce R 10:00 AM  

As a college WALK-ON (tennis) I have always understood the definition to be an unrecruited athlete that makes the team. So that was a good clue.

Stuart Showalter 10:12 AM  

I totally agree. There are myriad other examples of ultra-PCness destroying perfectly good words. To cite just two: FAG means “a cigarette” or “to tire,” and FAGGOT (var. of FAGOT) is a “bundle of sticks bound and used as fuel.”

Context is everything.

And, btw, HEBE is a plant genus named after the Greek goddess of youth.

Anonymous 10:13 AM  

Un... believable...
Do you think ANYbody saw the clue and immediately thought "GOOK!"
Me either.
Do you think the constructor sniggered to himself when it was done?
Me either.

Nancy 10:23 AM  

A very pleasant, if easy solve. The reimagined definitions of common phrases can't have been easy to come up with. I made a half-hearted attempt to think of some of my own for the purposes of writing this comment -- then said, No, it's much too early in the morning and I'm not so good at this anyway. Perhaps @Loren has/will invent some more. But the theme clue/answers were cute and inventive and show the versatility of the English language. As for the non-theme answers: they were just OK, I thought.

TubaDon 10:25 AM  

Had to start with the little gimmies and didn't get the theme until WALKONWATER and STANDINLINE (both great answers!). After that just slogged my way to the southwest, not helped by guessing ALE at 103A, and aptly exited with STEPOUTOF.

Anonymous 10:26 AM  

I had the same reaction as others to "nooner." I have no problem with the Times using it, but I promise you, if you're in a meeting at work and say "oops - it's 11:45. I have to go because I have a nooner," nobody is going to think you mean picking up the drycleaning...

Z 10:43 AM  

Hand up for immediately thinking that if it is a “lunchtime errand” you’re either living your life wrong or you have an interesting profession.

Hand up for chuckling at the person wanting to use “niggardly” being niggardly. That goes for the rest you insisting on your right to be a niggardly ass. Go ahead, be an ass. You aren’t alone and if being an ass makes you happy, go ahead and you do you. You have every right to use offensive or insensitive language. We have every right to tell you that you are an ass. Funny thing, though, none of you actually seem to use those terms so much as decry not being “allowed” to use them. Please, use offense giving language all you want. Makes it easier for me to know who to avoid. I promise, I won’t call the PC police on you.

Now I’m going away for the day because I fully expect today’s comments to be as tiresome as my second paragraph.

Charles Flaster 10:58 AM  

Very, very easy but found myself eager to see the next themer and so on (soon).
Favorite was SET TO MUSIC.
Clue for LOOSE TEA was brilliant.
TONNEAU is my new word for the day. Wonder if granny and gramps would have known it.
Thanks AB

Nancy 11:01 AM  

OK, I have one of my own. Clue: Cake mixer explodes. Answer: STIR UP TROUBLE.

And that's what I think Rex and his cohorts are doing with the whole GO OK/GOOK contretemps. Whose mind works that way? Who even thinks of such a thing? Happily, a lot of people here didn't and never would. And, since, I don't read Rex and certainly not his army of tweeters, I would have missed the entire kerfuffle, were it not for the people on the blog who called my attention to it. Again, for those who are upset by Rex's rants -- scroll right by. (Though the more unsightly tweets he includes, the longer it takes, unfortunately.)

John McKnight 11:30 AM  

with 'tonneau" showing up early in the puzzle, i had a pretty good feel for what i was in for. some of the fill was good, though; clever in use of double meanings and playing off of assumptions. i'll take it - good puzzle and have a good day y'all.

Nora Bensahel 11:38 AM  

I always try to guess which clue/answer Rex is going to hate most, and this week I was sure it would be PINCHRAN. Looks like I need to keep working on that. :)

Alex Bajcz 11:39 AM  

I love PUT-DOWN ROOTS! Awesome one!

Anonymous 11:40 AM  

What is an IPA?

Alex Bajcz 11:47 AM  

FWIW, if I could issue a patch for this puzzle right now, I'd make the swap for AREN'T/ROOK. Never even saw it and didn't pay this part of the grid enough attention. Sigh. Next time, I'll do better.

pabloinnh 11:52 AM  

Like all of the themers, but had trouble seeing STAKES for WAGERS, just didn't seem as common as the others.

Hooray for substituting IPA for the more common ALE. We live in what has become microbrew country, and I have yet to drink an IPA that is not further evidence of Franklin's proposition that beer (especially in the form of an IPA)is living proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.

Also, a local brewery has named one of their creations a "nooner". Probably has little connection with running errands.

old timer 11:58 AM  

Why not just clue NOONER as "lunchtime roll in the hay" and be done with it? WS surely knew how stupid and unlikely the actual clue was.

I too wanted a rumble seat rather than a TONNEAU. When I was little, our live-in babysitter, a UCLA student, had a Model A with a rumble seat. It was fun to get to ride in it.

I thought the puzzle was a bit of a slog, and the punny payoffs were not quite worth it.

And I would not have even seen a problem with GO OK if OFL had not brought it up.

Maruchka 12:10 PM  

Sigh. TO-OK (approval activity?) waay too long, sussing-wise. Would that clues were as frisky as the solves..

What means RUN-IN re: fight clubs?

@Rex - Love 'D.O.A.'! TASTy noir, served well done.

Anonymous 12:19 PM  

Indian Pale Ale..... Any Irishmen offended by 94 down?...hope not. And as an Italian American I had better not see any clueing referring to the West African nation of Guinea...just kidding....sheesh, lighten up people

Masked and Anonymous 12:30 PM  

ROARIN SWELL theme. Fun solvequest -- just the right touch of fillins desperation. Admire any SunPuz that starts off with a PFFT.

staff weeject pick: INS. Kinda theme-related.

DANKE, Mr. Bajcz.

Masked & Anonymo12Us


Two Ponies 12:34 PM  

I thoroughly enjoyed this pleasant fun Sunday outing. Several answers needed some brain power but mostly I found enough humor to keep me interested. Paw and tip were quite good.

The gook dook has been sufficiently covered so I feel no need to go full guerilla about it.

Joseph Michael 12:46 PM  

Agree that the puz is preposition heavy where it shouldn't be, but liked the wordplay of the theme overall and enjoyed most of the solve. Think GO-TO PIECES was my favorite themer.

Have no idea what time it is in Tokyo, so guessed at ONE aM for 18D which gave me "tia" for "stiff" at 30A and could not SHAKE free of it. Thought maybe a Spanish aunt had died or something. But alas the now obvious TIP is on the table.

Congrats, Alex, on a fine debut.

Anonymous 1:00 PM  

Alex Bajcz said...
FWIW, if I could issue a patch for this puzzle right now, I'd make the swap for AREN'T/ROOK. Never even saw it and didn't pay this part of the grid enough attention. Sigh. Next time, I'll do better.

How dare you, sir!

IrishCream 1:10 PM  

It’s not “ultra-PCness.” Those meanings of “fag” and “faggot” were more commonly used in British English, and had fallen out of everyday use by the time the uglier meaning came into play. The only time anyone uses them to refer to cigarettes or stick bundles is when they can’t think of a more clever way to display their smug superiority over those of us who take others’ feelings into account.

IrishCream 1:16 PM  

Well said.

Roo Monster 1:21 PM  

Hey All !
Along with the slur-ness of GOOK, that's not even a real thing. NONO. How does one GO OK? Is there a way to GO GOOD? "Man, I proceeded great today!" "Not me, I only GO OK" See? GO BAD is a thing, but not in proceeding parlance. (Maybe "Silly Walks"...)

Also didn't think the extra UPs, TOs, INs, etc. we're good. (GO OD-Take too much on purpose?) I know filling a grid this size with lots of themers is tough, but still...

As for the themers, they were good. Didn't know TONNEAU originated as a back seat. RFS is an Ugh, though. Let's pluralize anything! We all had funs the other night. YOU SEE UNEASE?

NOONERS, har. UNTAKEN NOONERS, story of my life. (Non-Har) :-)
TOSSES TO is better than OFf! :-)


Azzurro 1:31 PM  

I noticed the GOOK while trying to mind a mistake and had the same reaction as others. It’s not just that the word could be offensive; it’s the combination of bad fill with something that could be misread as racist. As Rex said, maybe just use “Rook” and improve the puzzle all around.

Mohair Sam 1:39 PM  

Tip of the hat to @Alex Bajcz for showing up here and letting us know his stand on the GOOK thing. And thanks for a really fun Sunday puzzle. We had a blast with this one.

Hand up with the throng learning TONNEAU. C'mon with the NOONER clue - if I ever told my assistant I was going out for a NOONER I'd have gotten slapped. Am I the only person who has noticed that the definition of ATERIGHT changes every decade or so? Every time some sports fan says "They'd never trade _________" I remind them that the OILERs trading Gretzky.

@Z - First time in ages I've totally agreed with your post.

@Nancy (from late yesterday) - Your beloved can opener appears to be the brand my sister had on the wall of her deli for as long as she owned the place. It opened dozens of cans of all sizes every day and survived two decades of abuse.

@Gill I (also late yesterday) - Lady Mohair mumbles about the long lost Glenn every time they show Maggie. Joyfully, they killed off Carl last season - although his annoying letters live on. Saul is safe, only the good etc, etc.

Anonymous 2:10 PM  

The clue for walk-on is correct. Bernstein is mistaken.

jberg 2:24 PM  

I really liked the theme answers, which made up for any other faults. It's late in the day, so I'll just touch on some things that haven't come up.

First, the clue for 83D hadan accent over the second A in Galapagos -- so I naturally put in ISLa. Why put the accent in if you're not indicating that it's Spanish?

Second, I'm getting tired of the 'abbreviated part of an abbreviation" clue, a la 47A.

Third, last week a Red Sox pitcher 'throws at' a Yankees batter, with a bench-clearing fight as a result. I don't think TOSSES TO really fits that event!

@Roo, I can hear "it's going good," or even better "How's it going?" "Good!" But maybe not "Hope it goes good!"

Finally, 76A -- one more year and I can keep them on!

@Loren -- I always learn something from your posts. Until reading you today, if you'd asked me what part of speech DESPITE is, I'd have replied unhistatingly "conjunction." Of course it isn't, I'd just never tried it in an example.

But your last line -- of course, no one would ever treat those two words as a DOOK, would they?

Anonymous 2:30 PM  

Love Alex's comment.

I'm one who didn't see the word until I was done, and my eyes bugged. No, it's not the end of the world, but if we can avoid slurs then why not?

michiganman 2:33 PM  

I didn't mind GO OK but everyone has something. Here's mine: I love baseball but I hate the term NONO for no-hitter, in much the same way I hate the use of the word "potty" by adults. I am so immature that I refused to enter NONO as an across and did the downs to complete 15A. So it goes.

Aketi 2:37 PM  

I guess I’m the only one who saw GOOK and thought off all that stuff you’re supposed to slather on your face at night that are supposed to be anti AGER creams. The last time I succumbed when some young thing tried the hard sell and applied some GOOK under my eyes it quickly dried up like superglue and stretched my skin so tight I thought I’d never be able to blink again.

Anoa Bob 2:37 PM  

Lots of 1950s and 60s British sports cars such as Triumphs and MGs had TONNEAU covers. I had a '62 Austin Healey 3000 with one similar to this.

Is there any SLOBBER or drool, or maybe just a little spittle, that issues forth when saying SHEESH? Whenever I see it on this board, usually several times a day, I want to wipe off the inside of the computer screen. I guess it is a two-step-removed euphemism for what would otherwise be using the Lord's name in VAIN, to wit Jesus-jeez-sheesh, right?

Am I the only one who thought the clue for 13 Down---Saying "Eww!," say---has a punctuation error? Should it not be Saying "Eww!", say?

GHarris 2:40 PM  

Liked this a lot more than Rex did. Thought clue for missed a cue was clever. Got just two letters wrong pet for pot and pan for paw and so dnf. Believe I would have caught these errors had I done the puzzle on computer and had the benefit of the alert. Disagree with Dan Bernstein. I have always understood that a walk on was an unrecruited athlete.

JC66 2:44 PM  


Had the same thought re: ISLa

Birchbark 2:45 PM  

@TeedMN (9:34): What an excellent winter adventure. Hope the Mustang wasn't plowed in -- the snow is heavy.

Anonymous 3:10 PM  

The problem with Go Ok is even worse than Rex makes out. Here in our office, about half the officers are Vietnam War vets, and they tell me that when something was proceeding well enough, it was referred to gooking. so, look at that clue again, and tell me that the clue is not overtly racist. this may have more do with ignorance of history than anything else, but we all shook our head in disbelief. As one of my colleagues said this morning, it like cluing "hold fast to money" with "Jew." I am one, I get the point.

B Smithers 3:28 PM  

Loved the theme of this puzzle. Did anybody else wonder if there was another meta-theme with the way that the prepositional phrases were all clustered together? PULL-UP, PICK-UP; WALK-ON, DEAD-ON, etc. Racked my brain because it seemed hard to believe that the placement of these in the grid were random.

Malsdemare 3:31 PM  

@alex, thanks for showing up; sorry your nice puzzle got reduced to one unintended (and totally missed by some of us) misfire.
@Nancy, it’s not quite what you asked @Loren for, but you DID read her last line, right? Thanks for the giggle @lms.

I liked the puzzle. My first themer was DEAD ON ARRIVAL and I smiled through the rest. NOONER seemed blissfully unaware. PINCHRAN grated but, like Nancy, I know zip about baseball terms, despite having two cousins-in-law who played pro ball. I thought BESOTS was one of the highlights of the whole thing. Here I am thinking of the cads getting their sweet young dates drunk and it turns out to be rather innocent: After particularly awful days explaining yet again about the relationship that squirrels can have with trees, I head home and hubby besots me. Huh? And yet.... T'is true. I am besotted.

My Wisconsonite daughter is heading home today after a weekend visit; who would have expected that we have to worry about Ice. I'm guessing my Yooper sister is snowed in. It’s merely cold here. For once I'm grateful nothing has budded out yet; I'd hate to lose another peach crop to a late freeze.

Frog Prince Lover 3:47 PM  

I learned it as “A preposition is the worst thing to end a sentence with.” 😀

Canon Chasuble 3:52 PM  

Would have/could have clued 39d as "surname of oldtime radio's Vic and Sade."

Dan Steele 4:20 PM  

"Stand up straight." Gotta be a good clue for that one. I'm picturing a rather bland comedian...

Bob Kerfuffle 4:44 PM  

I happened to get a copy of today's puzzle today, a very rare event, especially for a Sunday. But as always happens, by the time I did the puzzle and read all the comments, everything I could possibly say about it had already been said.

But just for the sake of all the impressionable young children who will be reading this blog, I must point out that a passing remark by @Birchbark, 8:53 AM, seems to suggest that today, April 15, is the Ides of April. As those same children will learn when they embark upon their study of Latin, the Ides of April is in fact the 13th. Per Wikipedia: "Ides (calendar), a day in the Roman calendar that marked the approximate middle of the month. For March, May, July, and October it is the 15th day of the month. For other Roman calendar months it is on the 13th."

felix fortinbras 4:45 PM  

Oh thank god someone stepped up to determine who should and shouldn't be offended by what! How would we ever know the difference, saying as no one else has personal opinions based on their experiences and culture!

Nancy 4:45 PM  

I did miss Loren's last sentence, @Malsdemare. Thanks for pointing it out. Priceless!

As I said earlier, I didn't notice the GOOK DOOK in the first place. But if I had, I would have thought of it the same way @Aketi (2:37) did: as something oozy and slimy like revolting face creams or gloppy mud. Or finger paints -- even as a child, the thought of finger paints absolutely revolted me and I refused to use them. (In this case, GOOK is pronounced to rhyme with "took".) And, @Alex Bajcz, let me echo @Malsdemare in expressing regret that your entirely innocent clue/answer came in for so much criticism. It was indeed nice of you to stop by and since the answer wasn't meant as a slur, you have absolutely nothing to apologize for.

@Frog Prince Lover (4:03) -- Yes. I just ended my last sentence with a preposition. I do it all the time. But let me quote Winston Churchill who said: "Ending a sentence with a preposition is something up with which I will not put."

@Mohair (1:39)-- Right on. The Swing-Away Can Opener can survive anything. It's built like the proverbial brick you-know-what.

ArtO 5:00 PM  

Loved the themers and agree with Randall on the excessive PC-ness expressed as well as others who could have found more accurate clue for NOONERS. But!!! just think of all the tut tutting that would have aroused here.

Anonymous 5:29 PM  

Today I liked the comments more than the puzzle...that is often the case. Thanks!

Birchbark 5:57 PM  

@Bob Kerfuffle (4:44), guilty as charged -- and apologies for any unintended trauma flowing from the old mid-April ERGO Ides sort of thing. One more reason to wonder why we adopted the Gregorian calendar in the first place. I must admit that I'm mildly surprised that there is no correlation between Ides-variants and months when it's okay to eat oysters.

Alan_S. 6:26 PM  

Agree with @Anonymous 5:29. The comments kerfuffle was definitely more entertaining than the puzzle. Listening to many of you dither over the appropriateness of a rather benign answer was hysterical. I'll say no more about it.

As for @Nancy 4:45, it's called a "brick shithouse". C'mon, we're all adults here, despite what Bob K. might think. Gook may or may not be crossing the line but shithouse is definitely okay. "Shithole"?, no; Shithouse?, Okay.
This is getting tiring.

Anonymous 6:28 PM  

No, the use of fag to refer to a cigarette is absolutely still a common thing in British English. The other one, less so.

Anonymous 6:45 PM  

@Anon - Irishman here, totally not offended by 94D. I would, however, suggest you not take that as my agreeing with you, as I'm guessing you're confusing MIC as in microphone with Mick as an offensive term for an Irishman.

I'm still awaiting a cogent argument against "I know the answer is totally defensible (it's not clued in a racial way, etc.), I think it's reasonable to ditch the answer entirely in the interest of not having an apparent racial slur hanging out in your grid." No one (well, certainly not Peter Noone) is suggesting that people be arrested if they use go ok in everyday speech. It's not as if GO OK is some crossword gold that people are trying to jam into their grid, it's fill. IF BOOK or COOK or DOOK or HOOK or LOOK or MOOK or NOOK or ROOK or TOOK work, why not use them instead?

Joe Dipinto 6:47 PM  

This was fun. I especially liked GO-TO PIECES, PULL-UP STAKES, SET-TO MUSIC, and PUT-ON NOTICE. And really, GOOK, with its various meanings/pronunciations, was fine.

Fun acrostic as well, with a bonus for the observant.

Anonymous 6:52 PM  

Are you BESOTted?

Reasonablewoman 7:27 PM  

Let's say someone who did not do the puzzle looked at the completed grid and saw 39D. "Oh my goodness", they might think. They look at the clue and see that the answer is GO OK, not gook. No offense, no foul.

Aketi 7:31 PM  

@Nancy, my mother had something like that can opener when I was a kid. When I was in Peace Corps that trusty Swiss Army knife that I used on the only canned food I found which was tomato paste. I forgot all about can openers, only remembering them a couple of years after I returned.

Since ɡo͝ok is close to ɡo͞op in both spelling and meaning I thought GOOP might have been a potential inoffensive sub for GO OK. But I just had to look up the urban dictionary definition of GOOP:

“A celebrity or politician far removed from with the daily hardships and realities that face the ordinary person. A GOOP is simply out of touch with reality. This word is inspired by celebrities such as Gwyneth Paltrow and Kayne West”

I hadn’t realized that all those so called healthy things she markets for women to insert into or plaster onto their bodies are part of her GOOP lifestyle brand. She and I clearly have very different views in lifestyles. Haha.

Anonymous 7:32 PM  

India Pale Ale. Contains a lot of hops so it would survive the trip around the African continent to keep the British happy in India.

Cyril Barnert 7:46 PM  

One more thought on the presumed offensiveness of "GO OK":
Dodger player Enrique Hernandez's nickname is a standard
one for that Spanish first name, Kike, pronounced Kee-kay.
Should no one dare to print that nickname lest it be
considered anti-Semitic?

Incidentally, even printing it with Spanish characters
would add an accent on the 'a' in Hernandez but would
leave 'Kike' unchanged.

Cyril Barnert 7:51 PM  

Re the presumed offensiveness of "GO OK":
Dodger player Enrique Hernandez's nickname
is a common one for that first name, Kike,
pronounced Kee-kay. Should that mean that
no one should ever print his nickname lest
it be considered an anti-Semitic slur?

Incidentally, even printing it with Spanish
characters wouldn't help. It would add an
accent over the 'a' in Hernandez, but would
leave Kike unchanged.

Joe Dipinto 7:54 PM  

@RooMonster 1:21 -- "Did your audition go okay?" "Yes, better than I expected, thanks!"

It's a real thing.

Roo Monster 8:28 PM  

@Joe Di 7:54
Nice. (Hangs head in shame.) :-)


Joe Dipinto 8:41 PM  

@Roo -- oh no please don't. I often don't get the more obtuse clues.

Joe in Newfoundland (don't call us Newfies!) 9:07 PM  

A puzzle can have run twice, intersecting even? LAYMAN and SIRNOSIR get a pass for sexism? SCAT can mean shit. Isn't EGAD blasphemous for some? DEADONARRIVAL is pretty insensitive if someone lost someone who died in the ambulance. WALKONWATER - cultural appropriation from Christians, no? Really necessary? eksetera eksetera

Anonymous 9:25 PM  

I agree with Rex's rating of this puzzle as easy-medium, however, I appreciated it much more. There were many fewer than usual answers that were popular culture personality figures, and as I don't follow popular culture and generally have to work around such answers, I was very appreciative. I found the left middle a bit more challenging than the rest of the puzzle, but all in all, enjoyed it very much. Kudos to its creator...I think he has a real future in the business!

Anonymous 9:57 PM  

Note that IPA is an abbreviation, but the answer was clued as not an abbreviation, so excluding IPA as the answer.

Anonymous 10:09 PM  

My 1963 MGB had a tonneau, so that was a gimme. No back seat. The tonneau covered everything from the dashboard to the rear body. It also had a zipper between the driver's seat and the passenger's seat.

ghostoflectricity 10:17 PM  

Go ok completely unacceptable. Shortz: edit or quit

semioticus (shelbyl) 10:32 PM  

Finally got to it, and... meh. Lousy, and I mean, lousy fill. Rex elaborated on this already.

If you don't like the theme -which I don't, sorry-; where is the joy in this puzzle? The clues? Not enough zingers. The fill? Don't get me started.

So yeah, the end result is average at best. If you solved this one late on a Sunday like I did, you will probably be frustrated.

To be fair, I actually enjoyed one theme entry: Timely entrance: DEADONARRIVAL. That was funny.

GRADE: C+, 2.7 stars.

Calman Snoffelevich 10:57 PM  

The real question is how to pronounce the constructor's last name...

Mohair Sam 11:12 PM  

@Anoa Bob - Envy you the Austin Healey 3000. Awesome vehicle (had a girlfriend with one and she let me drive it). Beautiful car and a ball to drive. Always been my dream car.

Brian 11:46 PM  


Anonymous 2:30 AM  

Could someone explain POT for kitty? Thanks.

Bob Kerfuffle 6:13 AM  

@Anonymous, 2;30 AM -

POT - a : a large amount (as of money)
b (1) : the total of the bets at stake at one time (2) : one round in a poker game

KITTY - 1. (Gambling) the pool of bets in certain gambling games

Bob Mills 8:42 AM  

There are several critical remarks about "GO OK" in this puzzle. "GOOK" is sometimes considered a racial term, but there's nothing racial about "GO OK." The clue has no racial connotation. People are grasping at straws to make an issue out of this.

Kimberly 11:58 AM  

If a NOONER is an errand, you’re doing it wrong.

spacecraft 12:36 PM  

Amen to that, @Kimberly and others! As to the 39-down issue, I can hardly remember...wasn't GOOK what soldiers called one of the enemy in Korea? What it's even used for now, I have no idea. But it must be used disparagingly, or there wouldn't be such a YELP about it. So, YEP, bad TASTE.

I second OFL's complaint that the prepositions got LOOSE and PINCHRAN around the whole grid. INCIRCLES, even. Still, for OFL, he's bending over to be kind. I think the fill is DISGUSTING. I finished the thing, without much trouble, but it was a joyless errand--unlike that lunchtime one. Double-bogey.

Burma Shave 12:59 PM  


YOUSEE, this UNEASE and RISK may ruin her,
she was PUTONNOTICE that at ONEPM it ceases:


rainforest 2:07 PM  

Always loved NOONERS. Never saw them as 'errands'.

I don't wish to engage in the controversy about GO OK, other than to say that whatever his/her stance, it will not be changed by arguments from one side or the other. Intent is the issue here.

Once I got the theme at GO TO PIECES, I went through the puzzle in workmanlike fashion, and enjoyed the re-purposing of well-known phrases. Also liked many non-theme entries, whether or not they contained prepositions.

Medium here, overall, and a nice puzzle to end the week.

rondo 2:19 PM  

ISAID to myself that there were a lot more prepositional partials in the FILL than usual for my TASTE, and am apparently not alone. And when YOUSEE BESOTS, well . . . On the other hand, even if the themers weren't wacky, they were somewhat interesting. Also saw GOOK and knew there would be UNEASE even though it's a dook.

A 3-legged dog walks INTO a saloon and says, "I'm lookin' for the man who shot my PAW."

Take your yeah baby choice of NADIA or ELLA.

Holy MOSES! Last Sunday we were in the midst of 16" of snow and today it's PUSHIN' 70 degrees. Meh on the puz and I'm going outside.

AnonymousPVX 3:23 PM  

Well....I thought this a bit of a drag, not really much fun to be had....more like a chore. Getting the solve was a slog.

Also.....since when does 29D ....10/... mean October? No context.

Win Gruening 6:40 PM  

Since October became the tenth in: 10/31/2018

AnonymousPVX said.."Also.....since when does 29D ....10/... mean October? No context."

Diana,LIW 10:11 PM  

Worked on this on and off all day in between errands, so it never got sloggy for me. I loved noting the GOOK DOOK. Now I see it seems that there was some controversy in the comments, which I haven't yet read. Too busy today for that. Glad to finish, esp. after yesterday's fiasco. (fiasco on my part - not the puzzle!)

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

Phillip Blackerby 12:18 PM  

My American English teacher said that all punctuation goes inside the quotation marks. I understand that the British have a different, perhaps more logical approach.

J Howard Boyd 6:33 PM  

Being more into theater than sports, I would have clued 48A as Bit player's beverage. Would have balanced 82A nicely. As for 120A, all I can offer is Rupert Holmes' "Lunch Hour"

J Howard Boyd 6:41 PM  

According to his bio over on LAT Crossword Corner
"Alex Bajcz (rhymes with badges)."

J Howard Boyd 6:42 PM  

According to his bio over on LAT Crossword Corner
"Alex Bajcz (rhymes with badges)."

Anonymous 11:39 AM  

I Really liked this puzzle- it was just hard enough - only struggled w/ southeast corner. It was clever - best puzzle in ages. - well done alex!!~!

Jaime Gunderson 12:57 PM  

I learned it as anything you can do to a cloud, which allows for “through” and others

Anonymous 4:23 PM  

A week late as usual. My only question is how do you pronounce Bajcz?.. Baych? From my limited knowledge of Slavic lingo.

bohbehchow 3:26 AM  

That encapsulates the nines eve beautifully. What kind of world are people living in?

Unknown 3:17 AM  

I'm new to some of this. What is the significance of the shaded word with the red letter?

Bob Kerfuffle 7:04 AM  

@Unknown - No significance. Please read FAQs; this is covered at #1.

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