Wisest and justest of all centaurs in Greek myth / THU 7-12-18 / Pro wrestling star John / Some addenda in research papers / 1973 Jim Croce hit / Lux composer of 2012

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Constructor: Joe DiPietro

Relative difficulty: Challenging (11:47 ... third slowest time for Any puzzle in the last three months—and the two slower times were Sundays) 


THEME: HANDS DOWN (34D: Easily ... and a hint to four answers in this puzzle) — Four theme answers turn Down at one point before continuing Across again *on the original line*; the part of the answer that turns Down, taken on its own, is a word that can precede "HAND" in a familiar word or phrase:

Theme answers:
  • DEFOREST (1A: Clear of trees)
  • EVA LONGORIA (22A: "Desperate Housewives" co-star)
  • ENVIRONS (38A: Surrounding area)
  • TREASURE MAP (51A: It often features an "X")
Word of the Day: CHIRON (29D: "Wisest and justest of all the centaurs," in Greek myth) —
In Greek mythologyChiron (/ˈkrən/ KY-rən; also Cheiron or KheironGreekΧείρων"hand")[1] was held to be the superlative centaur amongst his brethren, as he was called as the "wisest and justest of all the centaurs" [come on, man, wiki-cluing is lazy] [...] A great healer, astrologer, and respected oracle, Chiron was said to be the first among centaurs and highly revered as a teacher and tutor. Among his pupils were many culture heroesAsclepiusAristaeusAjaxAeneasActaeonCaeneusTheseusAchillesJasonPeleusTelamonPerseus, sometimes HeraclesOileusPhoenix, and in one Byzantine tradition, even Dionysus. (wikipedia)
• • •


I napped on couch for better part of an hour immediately before solving: NOT a recommended solving strategy. That was brutal for me. I picked a bad day to start at 1-Across, I guess. I just poked at the grid a bit until I realized I'd better go hunting for some kind of revealer. So I delved into the SE corner, and eventually got all of it. That corner wasn't terribly hard—but that's because it's HANDS FREE (there's a revealer someone should try to build a puzzle around!). As for the rest of the grid, oof. Three of the four hands screwed me up something awful. First one I got was EVA LONGORIA, and never having watched a single episode of "Desperate Housewives," I figured the answer was just some EVA I couldn't remember. MENDES didn't fit, so I was stuck. Didn't help that that corner also had 16A: Joined (WED), which I had as MET, and 6A: Smack-dab (SPANG) (!?!?!), which I had as SPANK. I think I was thinking of "brand spankin' new" ... all I know is SPANG is garbage (albeit garbage I think I've seen in a puzzle before at least once). So, hurray, I got my first "hand" (FORE!), surely I'm on my way! ... Nope. 


Could not remember the damned centaur's name (CHIRON) and had no idea the "hand" would be in his name, so the whole middle was a disaster. Instead of ENVIRONS I had, let's see: AURAS, then EDGES, then EAVES (!?). So rough. The NW wasn't much better. FORENSICS is "the art or study of argumentation or formal debate" to me, not whatever happens on "CSI" (forensic science?). TABLES as research paper addenda was baffling. EL CHEAPOS??? Who says this and where (in the world) did the EL part come from? Also, do I want to know? I had trouble with even the non-theme stuff in the NW: EPIC, ROCK, ESS (wanted "EGO-") (40A: Self-starter?). Just a disaster. Finally limped into the SW and ... crushed it. By that point, I guess, I had things pretty well sussed. But it was still a humiliating overall experience.



I wonder if anyone is going to get Naticked by the CENA / CHIRON crossing today. If you don't know at least one of them, that "C" is not exactly inferrable. I've heard of both, but I can easily imagine a reasonably accomplished solver who has heard of neither. 



One of the roughest / strangest things about this theme is that one of the "hands" doesn't go *all* the way "down"—IRON, LONG, and SURE all go down til they hit bottom (a black square or the puzzle's edge). But FORE just hangs there, bouncing back up before it comes anywhere near bottom. Would've made more sense to find a 1-Across answer that contained a "hand" that could've been dropped down in the position now held by SHUL (4D: Synagogue)



I know the phrase "burn rubber" a lot better than LAY RUBBER (57A: Accelerate a vehicle suddenly); I like "burn" roughly 100000x more than LAY, but I'm not the king of Valid Idiomland, sadly. One odd thing about this theme is there are tons and tons of "hands" that didn't make the cut. FARM, SLOW, BACK, FREE... This theme might've made more sense in a Sunday-sized puzzle (though man that would be one tough Sunday). I've seen this exact theme type before (where part of an answer just drops Down), but the revealer gives it a new twist. Overall this is a worthy, challenging effort, light on junk and heavy on butt-kicking.

Please do yourself a favor and go get the new suite of Vowelless Crossword Puzzles from Peter Broda. Perfect for stocking your clipboard in advance of your impending summer vacation to That Place with Your Family. If you've never done Vowelless Crosswords before, they are great fun, and make for very good pattern-recognition practice. They will divert you and consume large swaths of time, what more could you ask for? Seven puzzles, pay what you want! Get it get it.
    Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

    P.S. watched my wife finish her puzzle this morning, which reminded me of something:


    If you've never seen AQI (and I had never seen it until it jumped out of a crossword at me several years ago), then you're in trouble (61A: Atmospheric pollution meas.). You have to talk yourself out of ANI, either by figuring out that "Q" might stand for "quantity" (no) or "quality" (yes) and "N" can't stand for anything reasonable, *or* by reasoning that you've seen ANI for years, in all kinds of cluing incarnations, and if it were some kind of pollution abbr. you probably would've seen it by now.

    P.P.S. shout-out to everyone who wanted their salmon to be COHO (I learned NOVA ... from crosswords ... though I've since seen it in the wild) (19D: Salmon variety).

    P.P.P.S. last thing, re: EL CHEAPOS. First, forgot to note the utter ridiculousness of having "EL" (singular definite article) precede plural CHEAPOS. Second, here's an article by Jane H. Hill that highlights the ubiquity *and* questions the innocence of mock Spanish in the U.S. It suggests there's something at least vaguely racist about the mock honorific "el cheapo," and o-suffixing in general, esp. to suggest inferiority (thanks to Ben Zimmer for the reference):
    Mock Spanish itself is a system of four major strategies for the ``incorporation'' of Spanish-language materials into English. These strategies yield expressions that belong to a pragmatic zone bounded on one end by the merely jocular, and on the other by the obscene insult. They include (1): ``Semantic derogation'': the borrowing of neutral or positive Spanish loan words which function in Mock Spanish in a jocular and/or pejorative sense; (2) ``Euphemism'': the borrowing of negative, including scatological and obscene, Spanish words, as euphemisms for English words, or for use in their own right as jocular and/or pejorative expressions, (3) ``Affixing'': the borrowing of Spanish morphological elements, especially el ``the'' and the suffix -o, in order to make an English word especially jocular and/or pejorative, and (4) ``Hyperanglicization'': absurd mis-pronunciations, that endow commonplace Spanish words or expressions with a jocular and/or pejorative sense and can create vulgar puns. (Jane H. Hill, "Mock Spanish: A Site For The Indexical Reproduction Of Racism In American English," 1995)
    [Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]

    120 comments:

    Adam 12:12 AM  

    1. Is iron hand a thing? An iron fist, sure. But iron hand?
    2. Agreeded re ELCHEAPO and LAYRUBBER.

    Mark 12:13 AM  

    I agree on the challenging part. I’m surprised I finished it. But that’s not a drawback. It’s nice to have butt kicking puzzle once in a while.

    Brian 12:30 AM  

    Had the hand words in rebuses. Before I saw that they repeated down. On completion I got the errors error message and had to dump the rebus entries.

    jae 12:56 AM  

    Medium. Just about right for a Thurs., tricky and mostly smooth, liked it.

    mathgent 12:57 AM  

    Loved it. Got a kick out of spotting the "hands" after I finished : FORE, LONG, IRON, SURE.

    I've done other Joe Dipietros and I think that he is a pretty cool guy. Wasn't he a bartender at one time? His personality shines right through the grid. All that breezy cluing.

    Disappointed that Jeff Chen didn't make this his POW. His criticism was that he could have improved it. Unimproved, I thought it was a lot better than yesterday's (which he named POW).

    We watched episode 4 of Sucession, the HBO series. The production is high-quality, but most of the characters are lunatics. We're probably going to give up on it.

    Why would anyone say SPANG when he or she could say "smack-dab"?


    Lee Coller 1:08 AM  

    I got the theme very quickly at 51 across/41 down. Treasure Map jumped out to me with that clue and I already had everything east of 43 down in that corner, so I saw it right away, then I traversed to the SE and got hands down which let me know that the "down" part was part of a hand. Was still brutal. NE was the last part I finished. I didn't know 18A and figured that played into the theme, which killed me, plus 6A i terrible. Never heard of 18A, probably have heard of 18D but wasn't obvious.

    Melrose 1:11 AM  

    SPANG? Never heard of it. This was tough, and I am patting myself on the back for having completed it.

    Trombone Tom 1:31 AM  

    I got through this puzzle with little difficulty, but admit to missing the ultimate theme words until I read @Rex's blog.

    Hand up for burn rubber being the norm, although I have heard both.

    I first started hearing HELLA from my son and his friends when he was in high school (in Northern California near SF) in the '70's.

    Would rather have heard a Croce song.

    A slightly different Thursday with a twist. Not as challenging as some, but well-crafted and free of overused junk.

    Mark 1:34 AM  

    I would also add that I only know the expression “lay rubber” not “burn rubber”. “Lay rubber” makes more sense because if you accelerate very quickly you leave skid marks on the pavement, and the skid marks are composed of bits of rubber, so you literally laid rubber.

    Dolgo 1:34 AM  

    Much too ingenious for me.

    CLB 1:52 AM  

    I'm bitter because I finished with an error: didn't know AQI and ANI looked promising.

    Anonymous 2:15 AM  

    I solved it well below my Thursday average. "El Cheapo" was the preferred cigar of Albert Alligator in the Pogo comic strip. Walt Kelly didn't invent the term; it's a standard slang term from the post-WWII period before Havana went off the radar. "Spang in the middle" = "dead center" is a phrase I've known since childhood.

    I thought it was a fine Thursday puzzle.

    Logan Mahler 2:36 AM  

    Apparently I've been spelling Aniseed wrong all my life. Why would the seeds of Star Anise require two words? I should have gathered from all the other portmanteau like Mustareed, Rapeed Oil, or the ever popular Poppeed. English is dumb and this puzzle beat me to death with a Nova Salmon.

    chefwen 2:46 AM  

    Loved it, mainly because I got the trick pretty early with EVA LONG ORIA and GO ALONG. The only one I struggled with was ENV IRON S, looks easy enough now.

    I drew around the over, down, up and over and the picture I got reminded me of the marble Buddha we bought in Vietnam of a very fat and happy Buddha standing on a turtle on one leg the other tucked up with foot facing down. One of my Thai friends saw it and exclaimed “that’s a very fat Buddha with a very small penis” and that’s exactly what he looks like. I can’t look at him now without laughing.

    Last letter in was the C in the CENA CHIRON crossing. Lucky guess.

    Anonymous 2:53 AM  

    I get “fore,” “sure” and “Iron,” but will someone please tell me what a “long” hand is?

    Anonymous 3:11 AM  

    Challenging without being that much fun. Plodded though most of it, but then got well stuck in the NW.

    Had SKI & KAZOO, and even had LONGORIA -- unfortunately running straight across at 22A. I have no experience with SPANG.
    I can't believe we're still getting/using clues re PAGErs/beepers/etc. And Jim Croce was unfortunately outside my wheelhouse. (I was going to moan about it, but after I punched up the song on YouTube, I gotta admit I knew it well enough--but not the singer or the title, which I woulda guessed was "Movin' Me Down The Highway")

    Some nice touches: SCRUB, SEAHAG, ONANDON, DEWAR

    PS: I agree with Rex re LAYRUBBER. And I'm pretty sure that's an awkward/not-quite-right use of EPIC as slang.

    Lewis 6:23 AM  

    EASY NOW... not! Calling on things I hardly or don't know, cluing vaguely and obliquely, with a two-layer theme (the fill-in-the-rogue down squares part, and the HANDS DOWN refinement), and yet, IMO, gettable, and thus fair. My favorite puzzles put me into full battle mode, give me an EPIC fight, only to proudly succumb with a "Well played!"

    This was almost that for me, but I had to look up Eva in the NE because I didn't know the show, hardly heard of her, didn't remember the Croce song, and couldn't crack the clues IDEAS and GO ALONG, and couldn't crack SPANG, even though upon eventually getting it, it makes sense to me. Also I guessed at the CENA/CHIRON cross (but was fairly confident of the guess). Still for the most part of the puzzle I was in that delicious battle, winning skirmish after skirmish and despite that lookup, left this puzzle with a HEDY grin.

    A tip of my HAT, Joe, for this!

    Pam 6:24 AM  

    Anonymous, to my 14 year old grandson, everything cool or superlative is “Epic”. Always nice to get an “Epic Nonni!”, a grandmother of the year award! And....the puzzle swayed me today.

    BarbieBarbie 6:47 AM  

    Ugh, I put in cOho for the salmon and it messed me up in the NE for way too long.
    Yes to LAYRUBBER. Must be regional.
    No to ELCHEAPO, not because of some perceived trigger, but because as somebody said already it refers to an object, not a person. The cigar, for example. So, iffy clue. The person is just a CHEAPO. It’s from the days when people would have felt bad about calling someone a CHEAPass, so they substituted another syllable.
    Albert did not smoke cigars. He smoked seegars.

    BarbieBarbie 6:49 AM  

    Oh also, yes to SPANG. As in, it was right SPANG in the middle of the top row.

    QuasiMojo 6:49 AM  

    I love a challenging Thursday and this one fit the bill. I knew something was afoot when I couldn't fit DEFOREST into 1A, so I was prepared to be befuddled for some time.

    I really have no complaints or had any serious issues today except feeling some bewilderment that EL CHEAPOS was plural, and clued as "tightwad." I only know the expression as a derogatory term for a cheap cigar. Is that what a tightwad means?

    And not knowing anything about Desperate Housewives, I struggled with that Eva person. And as a mild grammar Nazi I was sure Jim Croce's song had to be "I'VE got a name."

    If I were Rex, I might complain that the first two themers were one word "forehand" and "longhand" while the second two were separate: "iron hand" and "sure hand" (which is more commonly used as "sure-handed.") I had hoped for "slow hand" so we could at least have gotten a video of the Pointer Sisters.



    Theodore Stamos 6:50 AM  

    Same here. Between that and SPANG, I didn't have much love for this puzzle.

    Matthew G. 7:05 AM  

    Never heard the word SPANG before. SPOT ON, yes. BANG ON, yes. SPANG, no. Was shocked when I got the happy pencil with that still in there.

    Took forever to see the theme. I tried a rebus square above SHUL for a while even though it didn't quite make sense. For the first time in a long time I entertained the possibility that I might fail to finish a NYT puzzle, though I eventually got over the hump.

    In the end, it was a good challenge, though SPANG remains deeply unfortunate.

    Jonathan Alexander 7:06 AM  

    ELCHEAPOS and SPANG = awful....definitely guessed at the C in the CENA/CHIRON cross (felt a C made the most sense).

    Remarkably this ran faster than average for me for Thursday times (15:34 compared to my 15:53 avg). I did manage to suss out the drop down part after hammering away at the NE for a bit. It just made locating the the rest the only issue.

    Overall, aside from the two no nos above, a solid Thursday though.


    JOHN X 7:08 AM  

    This was a nice puzzle. I figured out the gimmick early on and that made it fun to look for more themers. I didn't get the "hands" part until I entered the revealer, which I did last.

    LAYRUBBER is vastly superior to "burn rubber" and all its variants. Top fuel dragsters LAY RUBBER at the starting line before each run; tire fires burn rubber.

    ELCHEAPOS was my favorite answer.

    RJ 7:11 AM  

    This seemed to be the most difficult puzzle in quote a while. Resorted to checking the answers I was sure were correct but still, 36:51 later I did not get the song on my iPad. Got Naticked twice doing this puzzle. Never heard of SPANG or AZOV or HELLA - I must be reading the wrong blogs. I had IRANI and thought ANI sounded good - not much different than AQI.

    I didn't get the theme until TREASUREMAP. Some of the clues were inferable for me, otherwise CENA/CHIRON would have been my 3rd Natick - CHIRON seemed familiar, especially after I had xHIRON.

    I got the Desperate Housewives/Housewives of x city shows mixed up. Any modern show with the word 'housewives" in it is going to throw equality back at least 50 years. I admit I never watched either, but assume that neither show is representative of any housewife I've ever known or been ( I stayed at home with my son for years). Like, we're either June Cleaver in spandex or SEAHAGS, competing with each other over men, money, or recipes. Yeah.


    Agree with burn rubber vs LAYRUBBER. Groaned when I realized that 2D had to be ELCHEAPOS. All that being said, I still enjoy the challenge even if I have little chance of finishing the puzzle correctly. It is, as they say, the journey that counts. For me, anyway.

    kitshef 7:14 AM  

    An excellent, hard, Thursday. Was actually considering “DE-Fir” for clear of trees. Puzzle would have been great even without the bonus of the extra downs being HAND phrases.

    Again we get the odious ouzo and the only-slightly-better DRY martini. Give me a fruity drink with an umbrella in it any day.

    Never heard of LAY RUBBER; only burn RUBBER. Never heard of SPANG either. Don’t care because there was just so much fun in this one.

    John Hnedak 7:18 AM  

    Tightwads are just "cheapos." El Cheapo refers to a stinky cigar, that's where the "El" comes from.

    I knew something was going on right off the bat because 1A had to be deforest. Thought maybe a rebus, or a number substitution ("4" would sounded right but would have been missing the "e." I know it had to be "environs" but didn't really catch on until "treasure map." I have no idea who Eva Longoria is, so didn't snag that one until well after the fact.

    pwoodfin 7:20 AM  

    Script writing. Longhand

    kitshef 7:28 AM  

    Now with all the clarity of dream
    The blood so red, the grass so green

    The gleam of spur on chestnut flank
    The cavalry did burst upon the ranks

    Oh the iron will and iron hand
    In England's green and pleasant land

    - Mark Knopfler

    FLAC 7:29 AM  

    Clever and a good workout. The constructor deserves a HAND.

    Anonymous 7:31 AM  

    Really, really didn't like SPANG and ELCHEAPOS, but otherwise an enjoyable (if tough) puzzle.

    As to OFL's comment on wiki-cluing: in the constructor's defense, that's a quote from the Iliad. I feel like Homer-cluing is acceptable, even if it's also what wiki cites.

    Teedmn 7:59 AM  

    Lots of black ink spilled on the grid today. "Coho" salmon at 19D was the biggest hang-up (sorry @Diana, LIW, NOVA was not my first thought.)

    I got the gimmick at TREAS[URE]MAP, which let me finish the NW and the CHIRON area (I started out with CHaRON, even though I know he's the ferry man). Thank goodness for some crosswordese like ENO and SEAHAG.

    ESTOP still looks like some sort of internet term to me, or maybe the step before the focal (F-STOP)in cameras :-).

    Thanks, Joe DiPietro. This was not A BIT hard, it was HELLA difficult, and I appreciate it.

    Bob in Nampa 8:02 AM  

    Hands down, one of the least enjoyable puzzles I've done in a long time...

    Hungry Mother 8:08 AM  

    I almost gave up on this one, but steady slogging got me THERE. Very slick theme and sorta fun to do.

    Suzie Q 8:12 AM  

    I suppose I sound like sour grapes but even if I had solved this correctly I don't think I would say it was fun. Fun is what I like.
    DNF because of spang/Azov(?), Iraqi or Irani, and a P could work both ways at Cena/Chiron because Pena/Phiron looks OK. Not up on my centaurs I guess.
    Call me a back woods doofus but I don't know who Susan Sontag is.
    My only giggle was seeing that "item on a rack" was three letters so the first thing that came to me was Bra!

    chefbea 8:13 AM  

    Could not do the puzzle. But I do play words with friends...and with many rexites...and I doe drink dewers..sometimes when I'm playing words with friends!!!

    John Morrison 8:22 AM  

    Yecch. I hated the stupid theme and the abundance of obscure crosswordese.

    Art Balini 8:24 AM  

    What, no Rex complaint on having EASYNOW in the grid and “easily” in the clues (for the themer, no less!!).

    DNF thanks to IRAnI/AnI, but no one to blame but myself as Iran and Syria do not share a border (though that’s not really necessary to be considered a neighbor)

    Z 8:39 AM  

    EL CHEAPO was cigars, but I have heard it in reference to the sort of man (always a guy) who is putting on airs (how’s that for using an idiom to define an idiom?), a guy who smokes cheap cigars while acting as if they are the best Cuba has to offer.

    I think LAY RUBBER and burn RUBBER are two similar but distinct varieties of tire damage. When you LAY RUBBER the brakes are engaged enough to allow some forward motion, leaving a long RUBBER mark on the black top. When you burn RUBBER, the front wheels are fully braked while the back wheels are spinning, leaving a small RUBBER patch and creating much smoke. Both acts end with releasing the brakes and accelerating quickly forward. Or not. That’s the kind of slang that doesn’t stay constant.

    DNF and a major side eye to the I GOT A NAME/EVA LONGORIA/NOVA salmon/John CENA mash-up. That is too much PPP in too small a space to really be “good.” A 45 year old hit, a TV show that ended 6 years ago, and going with salmon over lox? When your professional wrestler is the most current and recognizable PPP maybe rethink the corner. None of these are bad in and of themselves, it’s the having them all together, and one of them being a theme answer, that I find sub-optimal.

    Also a major side eye to DEFOREST for exactly the reason Rex cited. To have one theme answer different is bad, to have it be the first is worse.

    I mostly had fun, but I put my pen down feeling like this puzzle was so close, but couldn’t quite be pulled off fairly.

    Nancy 8:45 AM  

    Cheated and still had a 1-letter DNF. "Smack-dab" to me is SPANk, as SPANK in the middle of... What on earth is SPANG? This left me with KOALONG, which left me looking for SPANc to get COALESCE, which wouldn't have worked, but that's how my mind was(n't) working.

    A wonderfully crunchy, but weird trick puzzle, where the answers dip down and then, suddenly, jump back up again. I mean really weird! And, Joe, when you're doing all that to us, you just can't -- I mean can't! -- put any crossing, Naticky PPP in that area. You just can't!!! And you've got EVA LONGORIA, CENA, SEAHAG, I GOT A NAME and CHIRON all crossing in one of the trickiest areas. I knew none of them, though I was able to run the alphabet to dredge CHIRON from some corner of my mind. EVA LORIA seemed just fine to me, but I looked her up in order to finish that diabolical section. I also checked I GOT A LONG NAME to see if that's what was going on there, but Google told me it was just I GOT A NAME. With Google's help, I "finished" everything but SPANG/GO ALONG.

    I wouldn't have awarded it a POW, either. Clever and crunchy -- but with much too much PPP in just the wrong (and very unfair) places.

    pabloinnh 9:13 AM  

    Yes to "spang" and "burn rubber", which we used to say in Upstate NY, and which I used to do with my muscle car back in the days when Jim Croce was popular.

    Thought this was a neat trick once you saw it. The last hangup was the IRAQI/IRANI question, which had to be the latter because ANI as far as I can remember is always clued as "cuckoo", or maybe "black cuckoo". Ou sont les anis d'antan, I wonder. Off somewhere with the ibexes and the anoas (hi Bob).

    Some of us are old enough to remember writing in longhand, these days know as cursive.

    Nice crunchy Thursday.

    Gretchen 9:22 AM  

    Not fun. Bring on Friday!

    Roy 9:22 AM  

    I desperately wanted TREASURE MAP to somehow allow 48D to be related to MEASURE somehow, which led me to all sorts of rebus-ing. That was the "hand" I finally figured out first, though I completed the puzzle (in 3 times my typical Thursday time) without understanding what the revealer meant. Since "iron hand" is not a thing, I didn't figure it out until coming here.

    mike colt 9:23 AM  

    Lucky but l finished

    Kendall 9:24 AM  

    Ignoring even the potential racial undertones of mock Spanish who the hell says EL CHEAPO? No one I’ve talked to has heard this even once. CHEAPO, sure, but why el?

    Also I don’t think anyone has said HELLA since the 90s.

    Really liked this otherwise.

    gfrpeace 9:27 AM  

    I put IRAQI in immediately, having ho clue what the cross was. BECAUSE IRAN IS NOWHERE NEAR SYRIA! C'mon pople, we broke that part of the world, we own it. We oughtta start having a clue how it fits together.

    Roo Monster 9:35 AM  

    Hey All !
    Agree on WTF SPANG. Agree on very tough for a ThursPuz. Did online and just gave up and starting Revealing answers to keep going. Ugh.

    I GOT A NAME, thankfully it's not SPANG. No WIN here.

    DEFORENSICSST
    RooMonster
    DarrinV

    Carola 9:43 AM  

    Challenging and fun. I went wrong early in writing in LONG as one rebus square and didn't see the error of my ways until ENVIRONS. Then was able to use the theme to get the remaining FORE- and SURE HANDS.
    Help from previous puzzles: HELLA, CENA, SEAHAG, ANISEED,
    Do-overs: SPANk, nestOr before CHIRON, talK before ROCK, cue before HAT, crY before SAY, eEnsY before TEENY.

    jberg 9:52 AM  

    I knew CHIRON, but not CENA, and my lox was NOVy, so DNF.

    EL CHEAPO is a term for a bad cigar, not a tightwad. The mock Spanish is because the good cigars come from Cuba and have Spanish names.

    Have to LAY RUBBER. Will come back later to read the comments.

    TomAz 9:58 AM  

    This puzzle was not fun for me. The theme gimmick, by itself, would have been fine. But then throw in professional wrestlers and bizarre regionalisms, botched Latinisms and botched idioms.. ugh.

    In what part of the world is SPANG a word? I have a pretty decent grasp of various American regionalisms (my parents were both born and raised Long Islanders, I grew up mainly in the Midwest, and have spent my entire adult life in the Southwest).. and have never ever heard SPANG.

    I have a pet peeve about the use, and misuse, of IN RE when RE is usually what is meant. IN RE has a very specific legal meaning. In almost all other uses, including its use as a generic "about", RE is what is necessary, and IN RE is wrong..

    But complaining about this puzzle is like that old SNL skit with Billy Crystal and Christopher Guest..


    Frankie: Boy. You wanna talk about some pain? I bought one o' them linoleum knives the other day, you know?

    Willie: With the double edge?

    Frankie: Right.

    Willie: Yeah?

    Frankie: So, I go home, you know, and I spread my toes apart and I just start sawing, back and forth and back and forth, you know?

    Willie: Mm hmm.

    Frankie: And I take a little thing o' Tobasco sauce, you know?

    Willie: Yeah.

    Frankie: And just dump it on there. Talk about a hotfoot, mister! Boy, that was rough.

    GILL I. 10:01 AM  

    Loved it. What a work-out....oof and oof.
    Well, I loved EL CHEAPO. It's called SPANGlish and I use it ALL the time. Cinco de Drinko...El Mouse...Cierra la window que esta reinando. My sisters and I have a ball with these and I don't know ONE SINGLE Latin who takes offense. As a matter of fact, we try and come up with new ones...! Oh...I'm gonna use El shopping.
    You got me good, Joe. I sort of got it at EVA (LONG) ORIA. But then I went looking for LONG everywhere. TREA (SURE) MAP cured me from a LONG rebus. I did have to Google CENA (29A) because I'm not up on wrestling unless it's Hulk Hogan or Andre the Giant. CENA got me CHIRON, the only centaur I know. Yay me! Got HANDS DOWN and with that reveal, I did the happy feet dance.
    I'm singing I GOT A NAME. I cried when Jim Croce died. I have all his CDs and he's my go to guy when driving down I-5 to LA.
    AQI got me my DNF. Didn't care because this was EPIC. Oh, and what did the SEA HAG ever do to Popeye? I always thought it was Bluto the Terrible that had it in for him....

    Blue Stater 10:12 AM  

    This hot mess wasn't worth either the time I squandered on it or the splendid display of erudition that OFL put forth in his elegant critique. A sad, sad example of what NYT puzzles have become.

    Tom Rowe 10:16 AM  

    Interesting. I finished in about 30 minutes which is fairly normal for me. [Not only am I no Rex Parker, I'm not even Rex light :)] So when I can get through in only 3 times the time Rex has, I feel pretty good about myself. I got the gimmick early in the NW corner, but it was still hard to figure out where the others went. Enjoyed it.

    Anonymous 10:16 AM  

    Yes!

    Paul Rippey 10:28 AM  

    Oh man. Painful DNF. IRAnI (shoulda known better) but worse time in the NE: I don’t know Desperate Housewives from This Old House so I was okay with EVA LORIA. So I assumed the fourth themer came down from 6A, which gave me SPAZOVNG for “smack-dab”. This seemed unlikely, but when I let the app solve it, I *still* had SPAZOVNG. I had to read Rex to sort that out. Good review, loved the analysis of mock Spanish.

    Malsdemare 10:28 AM  

    Oofda! This was HELLA killer (probably the wrong syntax; what do I know about slang these days?) I got CHIRON (isn’t he the ferryman who takes folks across the River Styx) but I do NOT know EVALONGORIA or SPANG (see above about slang) or AZOV so that was just a nutso area for me. I totally, as usual, missed the theme, even after getting the revealer. I just sat HEAR, scratching my head and muttering about what the hell hand this could be about. I’m slow, yes. We’ve established that. I had talK before ROCK, cOho before NOVA, AnI before AQI. And that is where I threw in the towel. Finis, puzzle, I’m done with ye! So THERE!

    Malsdemare 10:35 AM  

    I’ve heard ELCHEAPO, though thankfully not recently, and LAYRUBBER was a real thing in my misspent youth. I have to shake my head at my audacity to think one could peal out in an Olds Cutlass, but that didn’t stop me from trying. Generally succeeded too; wonder what my mom thought when she needed new tires at 25,000 miles.

    I’m sure none of you want to know this, but when has that ever stopped me? Skip this if you’re eating. My dopey Malamute went for a ramble this morning; must have been pretty challenging physically as he came home and drank about a gallon of water. Despite the fact that I waited a half hour before feeding him, and cut his meal in half, he has now tossed his cookies all over two NEW area rugs. Heaven forfend that he throw up on hard flooring! EPIC fail all around.

    OISK 10:40 AM  

    Never heard of AQI, but fortunately knew that Iraq (not Iran) borders Syria. Had a lot of trouble because I did not know how to spell Eva's last name, but when "Nova" (Yes! On a bagel, every Sunday for my Dad...) jumped into my brain, I was done. John Cena??? I got a name?? I almost did not get that name. Googled Jim Croce, and discovered that I actually know three of his songs. (but not "I got a name.") But I liked this puzzle, and was pleased at having finished it.

    As to "Mock Spanish," - Humbug! How about "Mock Yiddish." Mock, Shmock - is any Yiddish speaker offended by the borrowing of "scatalogical and obscene YIDDISH words" like Dreck, Schmuck, Putz..." as euphemisms for English words? Several of my German acquaintances, when I was young, liked to speak "Gerglish", which involved using literal translations of German words, and German word order, in English...i.e. "Have you still a wish?" "I have this film already yesterday seen." Should I be offended, or amused? Merde! Get a sense of humor! For me, the title "A site for the indexical reproduction of Racism in American English" is worth a laugh....

    Almost DNF yesterday, but my wife, looking over my shoulder, knew the acronym of a brand of vitamins and so "ghosted" my complete solution.

    I was surprised that no one (Tuesday) commented on the incorrect clue for pH scale. (there are several other chemists here!) But the pH scale does NOT go from 0 to 14. That would suggest that its range is arbitrary, which it is not. The "zero" does NOT mean "none." It means that the concentration of a particular ion is 1 molar. And the pH CAN be negative, and can also be greater than 14. The notion that there is a 0 to 14 pH scale is false, misleading, and is a far more serious matter than "El Cheapos"

    Anonymous 10:46 AM  

    My Rex Ratio - my solving time divided by OFL’s time - is typically between 3 and 7. Twice it was a bit less than 3. Today is a magical day. I finished the puzzle with a time slightly faster than Rex!!!! I could not imagine this ever happening. Full confession: I first guessed ANI/IRANI and switched N to Q when I got error message.

    Malsdemare 10:46 AM  

    @teedmn. Of course, Charon was the one ferrying the dead across Styxx. That's why CHIRON just looked wrong. Is it a DNF if you get a right answer for the wrong reason?

    Adam 10:48 AM  

    “Iron fist” 17 million hits
    “Iron hand” 1.9 million hits

    Anonymous 10:54 AM  

    This was the most infuriatingly stupid puzzle I've seen in decades--too many personal names interacting with themers. Had no idea what desperate housewives was, not to mention cena or words with friends or lux or aiken or a dewer flask. I do these thursday puzzles in under 4 minutes--I got nowhere with this. This wasn't "challenging.." it was obscenely poorly constructed.

    Anoa Bob 10:57 AM  

    Someone above asked if the constructor was/is a bartender. I recall reading a few years back that he did, and maybe still does, own a bar in NYC. His puzzles, like today's, are usually tough and sometimes downright tricky, but give a nice sense of accomplishment when/if I finally wrassle 'em to the mat and shout "I WIN!".

    Side note: I don't think of TABLES (5D) as "Some addenda in research papers" but as an integral part of them, something that is in the paper from the get go. Addenda calls to mind something along the lines of errata or maybe comments from journal editors/reviewers.

    Yvonne 11:06 AM  


    Never heard of SPANG, so thanks to Joe DiPietro for the new word. @Matthew G's comment made me wonder whether it could be some sort of portmanteau: SPot (on) + bANG (on) = SPANG.

    Banana Diaquiri 11:31 AM  

    @John X:
    Top fuel dragsters LAY RUBBER at the starting line before each run; tire fires burn rubber.

    no they don't!! they burn RUBBER in a bleach patch 4 or 5 car lengths behind the christmas tree.

    GILL I. 11:35 AM  

    Oh, come on, @Rex. I just "glossed" over Ms. Jane Hill's "Indexical Reproduction of Racism in American English." What was this? Her dissertation? After a few paragraphs of reading her pap, I got up to brush my teeth.
    I wonder if she ever even spoke to, say, a Cuban American? I'm pretty sure they (and maybe the Puerto Ricans) started what I call The Spanglish craze. So now someone calls it "Mock?" Why not....we change words and phrases to satisfy the PC gurus at every opportunity.
    For the life of me...I cannot see where using the word EL CHEAPO is racism. Maybe if @pabo see this, he can weigh in......

    Banana Diaquiri 11:35 AM  

    NOVA isn't a type of salmon, it's a type of lox. which is any type of salmon that has been smoked/cure in a kosher way.

    "Nova or Nova Scotia salmon, sometimes called Nova lox, is cured with a milder brine and then cold-smoked. The name dates from a time when much of the salmon in New York City came from Nova Scotia. Today, however, the name refers to the milder brining, as compared to regular lox (or belly lox), and the fish may come from other waters or even be raised on farms."
    the wiki (again!!)

    Richard 11:39 AM  

    I tried my hardest to make IVEGOTANAME work with the theme before remembering EVALONGORIA. Had never heard SPANG and was quite surprised to hear the "you solved it" tune when I filled in the A there.

    TerryB 11:43 AM  

    Dreadful. Even after I figured out what was going on, I DNF'ed because this was just another annoying NYT puzzle. I was mildly offended by ELCHEAPOS and BRA (can we stop objectifiying women's bodies?). Not sure how referring to someone's breasts as a "rack" is appropriate unless we time travel to 1978. NOVA is a variety of salmon like HAMBURGER is a variety of cow.

    Mr. Shortz, if you're reading this, it's time to move on and allow someone fresh to take over. You were a breath of fresh air after Maleska's hidebound puzzles, but lately the puzzle is just a jumble of crosswordese, obscure clues, and forced gimmicks.

    old timer 11:52 AM  

    This puzzle needed a tougher editor. The theme HANDS DOWN would have been fine if, once you had it, it would have helped the solve. Didn't for me because SUREHAND is not in my idiom. LONGHAND is fine (means handwriting as opposed to printing). EL CHEAPOS is absurd and not part of any language I know of, as a reference to tightwads (cigars, yes). Never heard of SPANG either but gettable due to the cross.

    All in all a waste of time.

    PS: AQI was easily deducible -- air quality index. Which was through the roof when I grew up in L.A.

    PPS: IN RE is law Latin for "in the matter of" and is mostly used to refer to habeas corpus cases. RE alone is never used.

    irongirl 12:12 PM  

    This was hard but I enjoyed the challenge. Got the "keep trying" message because I had SPONG. Tried SPING. Tried SPANG . . . What? Congratulations? I still don't know how SPANG would be used in a sentence.

    I didn't get the "hand" thing until I read Mr. Parker's review. I got the answers, but "hand" doesn't really stand out to me in connection with long or sure or iron or fore. I get it, but meh.

    BobL 12:16 PM  

    Lay before burn for me.

    JC66 12:20 PM  
    This comment has been removed by the author.
    Masked and Anonymous 12:23 PM  

    Feisty ThursPuz, with a very snazzy HANDSDOWN revealer. HANDS UP for desperately splatzin in DE-FIR at 1-A (yo, @kitshef).
    And: What …?… no COW-hands?

    @RP: HANDS UP for havin serious full-alphabet-run nanosecond guzzler probs with that CENA/CHIRON crossin, near the LONG+IRON range. Guessed wrongly. No big prob with either AQI/IRAQI entry, however. (yo, @Mrs.RP)

    staff weeject pick: ACK. Apt sound effect, while solvin the feisty NW's DEFST/SHUL/HELLA/ELCHEAPOS.
    Honrable mention to the SKI clue's 100th crossword anniversary, btw.

    fave longball fillins: LAYRUBBER. EASYNOW. KAZOO.

    Looks like a kinda difficult puz to construct -- especially this well.
    Congratz and thanx, Mr. DiPietro.

    Masked & AnonymoUUs

    JC66 12:23 PM  


    I'm not a speed solver, but this sucker took me twice as long as the "normal" Thursday. Loved it!

    @TerryB

    Check your solution, 34A (item on a rack) is HAT.

    I agree with you & @Banana Diaquiri, cluing NOVA (19D) as salmon variety is like cluing KIEV as chicken variety.

    crabsofsteel 12:34 PM  


    F R O M
    H
    U
    N
    G
    E
    R

    bookmark 12:42 PM  

    We have a chain of gas stations in our state called El Cheapos.

    jb129 12:52 PM  

    Awful - not even fun enough to cheat.

    Anonymous 12:56 PM  

    @Gill I, I may have to research this but I seem to remember Sea Hag as being kind of scary and a REAL villain...unlike the bully Bluto/Brutus. In fact, I think Sea Hag was so bad that Popeye and Bluto teamed up against her. Maybe it was to rescue Olive or Swee'Pea.
    As for puzzle, I always admire construction but this was not my gimmick cup of tea.

    Anonymous 1:18 PM  

    @Logan Mahler aniseed and star anise (pods) are two entirely different plants / seeds but with a similar flavor element which is why they share the word root.

    pabloinnh 1:26 PM  

    Hola @GILL I--I got "el cheapo" because I have read lots of old detective novels and a bad cigar is invaribly called an el cheapo. I have never seen or heard it used to describe a person. Not a native speaker like yourself and I'm always learning but I found seeing it clued this way to be surprising.

    Another Spanish teacher and myself like to lapse into what we call "trucker Spanish", which is speaking perfectly correct Spanish with the worst possible accent we could imagine, like a CBer's "That's a 10-4, good buddy", and so on. Apologies to any offended truckers.

    Was SPANG a secret nod to Spanglish? Now I wonder.

    Z 1:27 PM  

    @Kendall - I just googled “EL CHEAPOS” and got lots of hits. So lots of people still use the term. My personal favorite is for EL CHEAPO Extraordinaire. The online dictionaries seem to only view it as a pejorative for people, not in relation to cigars. I suspect this reflects a lack of etymological rigor.

    @Gill I - Now you lost me. Who is saying the term is offensive? There are mock Spanish terms that are offensive, usually playing on some stereotype, and there is Spanglish, and there are Spanish terms that have been adopted into English (El Niño and canyon come to mind). If EL CHEAPOS was used by our Manchurian president to describe refugees I could see taking offense. But as far as I know it is a play on cigars and those who try to impress - and never with even a smidgen of ethnic reference.

    pmdm 2:02 PM  

    Pabloinnh: I've always though longhand is the manner of writing words totally spelled out, as opposed to shorthand which is what stenographers used to take dictation using.

    I have heard El Cheapo refer to a male person often enough to justify its use in this crossword, although I can't remember it ever being used in a racial context. That may say more about the people I hand out with than its normal usage.

    Mathgent: Maybe he awarded the POW to a puzzle published later this week. We only likes to award one POW per week. We shall see.

    By the way, did you all know this is the 9000th daily crossword published by Mr. Shortz? Don't all applaud at once.

    Sir Hillary 2:08 PM  

    Although I loved it, this puzzle is rife with errors regarding Jim Croce:

    -- IGOTALONGNAME is wrong. Not only does he not have a song called that, but his full name was James Joseph Croce, which at 16 total letters is certainly not long.

    -- IGOTANOVAME is also wrong. Although he indeed did get a degree from Villanova, it was not a Master of Engineering but rather a Bachelor of Science.

    Who proofreads these things?

    Inquiring minds 2:20 PM  

    @Gill I - What's the back-story on your Avatar because, well, damn girl!

    GILL I. 2:24 PM  

    @Z...amigo. Go back upstairs and read @Rex's P.P.P.S.:
    "It suggests there's something at least vaguely racist about the mock honorific "el cheapo," and o-suffexing in general......."
    Pure crap.
    @Oisk...Like minds?
    @pablo...Trucker Spanish ROCKS! I can do the best of them. I do Trucker French as well. That one kills my step-mom... ;-)

    David Stone 2:39 PM  

    Hated this one. Thursday and Sunday are my faves, so this Sunday's had better make up for this awful mess.

    William Coddington 2:48 PM  

    The first thing that happens when you “burn out” or “light them up” is that you “burn rubber”. “Skid marks” has a different connotation ��
    Former muscle-car owner

    JC66 3:01 PM  
    This comment has been removed by the author.
    JC66 3:04 PM  
    This comment has been removed by the author.
    JC66 3:06 PM  

    @Sir Hillary

    I think the LONG hand drops down from EVALORIA at 22A. 18A is just IGOTANAME.

    Anonymous 3:10 PM  

    @inquiring minds 2:20. It is quite a well known image by Tina Sokolovskaya called On the Wave or some such. Not sure why the comment entry is not crediting it as such, too cheapo perhaps.

    Outside The Box 3:18 PM  

    Re SPANG: Same here. Absurd cluing/answer on this one. Took a guess and got it right, but still . . .

    Banana Diaquiri 3:31 PM  

    one last, one hopes, offering on LAYRUBBER, BURNRUBBER: years ago fuelies would smoke off the line, just, I guess, because the good ole boys in the stands thought it looked cool. since both lanes did it, the waste was more or less equal. eventually someone figured out that a King Kong clutch, and a proper feathering of same, meant all that HP got to the ground without smoking the tires. these days, if a racer screws up and smokes, he knows he's been hole shot in a big way, and shuts down and coasts down the lane.

    and that ritual tire exercise before the run is a BURNout, not a LAYout. the latter is a gymnast's dismount from the bar.
    finis.

    pabloinnh 3:54 PM  

    @pmdm-Yep, thought the same for longhand. When I was learning cursive in grade school we always called it longhand, as opposed to printing. May be a regional thing.

    @GILL I-Happy to hear about the trucker Spanish. Maybe we need a society, or we should all get CB's or something. I speak trucker French too, but I call it French.

    Michael 5:08 PM  

    I don't much like AfroAsian (or Afroasian) for 35D. Many people in the Caribbean are of African descent. Some are of Asian descent (mostly East Indians in Trinidad and Guyana [if this counts as the Caribbean], but also Chinese and Amerindians (if you want to go back a long way, but if you want to do this, we're all ultimately of African descent). Sure there has been some intermarriage/mating between Caribbeans of African descent and those of Asian descent. But how much? A significant amount? Maybe in Trinidad and Guyana (but I am not even sure of this), but elsewhere?

    Mohair Sam 5:35 PM  

    Late to the party - spent 3 1/2 hours at the dealership getting my annual auto inspection. Three and one-half hours! And there was no problem with the car. Jesus.

    @Gill I - Trucker Spanish! One of my neighbors is a native of Puerto Rico who drives a truck (no lie) - thereFORE I hold that Julio is an expert like no other on the subject. He was out on one of his cigarette breaks today (wife won't let him smoke in the house) so I approached him on the ELCHEAPO matter. He laughed and reminded me that ELCHEAPO is what he calls his erstwhile worthless and penny-pinching son-in-law (his opinion, I've chatted with the young man once or twice and he seems perfectly nice to me). Then I had to stand there through an hour of son-in-law complaints. Thanks a lot.

    Loved this beast, took us forever to finish. Naticked on CENA/CHIRON (used a T) but guessed right on the "A" in the previously unknown SPANG. The infamous Q was easy here because my youngest is serving near the Syrian border and you get to know the local geography when war becomes personal.

    Years ago I knew the brothers Dan and Joe DiPietro from the New York area. Dan was a well-known Syracuse U lacrosse player. That you Joe?

    BarbieBarbie 6:03 PM  

    @gfrpeace, yeah. How can people forget ol’ Mission Accomplished declaring our next targets were going to be Iran and Syria, making us all think of ways to divide the troops into East-facing and West- facing branches? ANI, indeed.

    @irongirl, here is your sentence: “that dog sat itself down right SPANG in the middle of the road and never moved til lunchtime.”

    Anonymous 6:36 PM  

    This puzzle was aces. Really tough when you think its I have a name��.
    For my money not only is el cheapo ok, it ws the highlight of the puzzle.

    Longhand and cursive were synonomous in Southeastern Pa. In the 1970s.
    I imagine they remain so.
    Banana,
    Laying down rubber is used with some frequency in drag circles. From podunk tracks to the big time Nationals. Come on, you know that.

    Anonymous 7:07 PM  

    As a relative newbie I didn’t find this one any tougher than other Thursdays and a whole lot more fun and satisfying, especially once I completed. I didn’t figure out the theme until I was pretty much done because southeast was the last part completed for me. I did figure out the dropped down answers, first with treasure map. At one point I had five dragon answers because of anise seed (instead of aniseed) but couldn’t figure out what the GPS abbreviation starting SV_ could be. Once I got the reveled and rest of southeast, the “a” in spang was my last entry, which made me happy that it left others dumbfounded as well.

    Joe 7:32 PM  

    My time was very slow, even for me, but I felt pleased to have solved the most challenging and interesting puzzle I’ve seen in a long while. My only WTF moment was SPANG, which is evidently a colloquialism in a language I do not speak.

    Z 7:50 PM  

    @Gill I - Ah. I had to hit refresh. I have a generally sympathetic response to the notion that language is used in suppressive ways. However, have an unclear antecedent in your first paragraph, assert something is untrue without evidence or support, and generalize and the result is you undercut your arguments. Hill needed the paper edited with the kind of critical care Rex gives to the puzzle. I think there are valid points, but I also understand how one could easily arrive at a “what bull hockey” response. I’m sympathetic to the central thesis and I had several “where did you get that” moments.

    A Real Engineman 7:58 PM  

    Is Banana whatever some kind of troll performance artist? This guy (and it's a guy) doesn't know anything about racing or engines yet makes these "expert" comments here that are lifted straight from Wikipedia, with the statements strung together incoherently. You can tell he doesn't even know what the words mean. Give it up boy you're not fooling anyone.

    Chip Hilton 8:02 PM  

    SPANG accurate with your Challenging rating. Fun, though, in a grit your teeth sort of way.

    MetroGnome 8:24 PM  

    TerryB --

    Okay -- I'll trade ya one "rack" for one "six-pack".

    Banana Diaquiri 8:33 PM  

    @A Real Engineman:

    it's a burnout before you stage. you burn rubber. or do donuts. no one smokes off the line. and so forth. and why do you care??? there's nothing wrong with the wiki, just convenient. unless your a fan of alternative facts.

    Adam Frank 8:34 PM  

    SPANG crossing AZOV was nearly a Natick - I just guessed right. I got FORE and IRON and was looking for some kind of golf theme. Nope. But I don’t think it was as difficult as @Rex did (SPANG notwithstanding) - I knew John CENA and AQI and I made my way from the NE around to the south and up the east. A fun challenge.

    Anonymous 9:11 PM  

    Troll performance artist! I love it!!! Thanks A Real Engineman.

    Anonymous 10:10 PM  

    Loved the difficulty! Spang was new but already a fave. And Sea Hag, hella, and El cheapos? C’mon people, this was epic!

    heidi k 10:13 PM  

    I was so stuck in the NW with the fact that the down part did not use the whole word. Yay for a challenge but this was not a well written puzzle. For all the other reasons you pointed out.

    Patrick Butler 10:49 PM  

    Hated it. Did the NW last and thought DEFST could not possibly be right because “deforensicsst” is obviously wrong. How can that be the only one where the “hands down” word runs on into nonsense? Way too much esoterica I had never heard of: SPANG, AQI, AIKEN, DEWAR (the latter two with this cluing). And a lot of utter dreck that I’m surprised Rex let go: INRE, ESTOP, NOTA, KEYIN. And then there’s ELCHEAPOS. i like a challenging puzzle but this was the worst.

    A Real Engineman 10:52 PM  

    Banana has never been within 50 miles of a drag strip. All that outdated "lingo" he spouts off is just somebody trying way too hard to sound like he fits in. He doesn't know what those words mean, he doesn't even use them correctly. Several other commenters here have tried to politely correct him but he just keeps doubling-down on stupid.

    Anonymous 10:55 PM  

    "Look, let me explain something to you. I'm not Mr. Lebowski. You're Mr. Lebowski. I'm the Dude. So that's what you call me. That, or His Dudeness … Duder … or El Capitan! Duderino, if, you know, you're not into the whole brevity thing."

    Not a fun solve, but a clever theme. I did not like "spang" as I have never heard of it. Other answers came quickly. Pretty good for a Thursday, say I.

    Patrick Butler 10:57 PM  

    BRA wasn’t in this puzzle. But I agree with your assessment.

    jberg 11:21 PM  

    Maybe SPANG is regional. Where I grew up, people would use it just as clued:

    SMACK DAB in the middle...

    SPANG in the middle...

    In both cases referring to where you'd inadvertently spilled coffee on the nice LONGHAND letter you were writing to ask for a job.

    or maybe you just have to be old to remember it.

    a.corn 11:39 PM  

    😂😂😭

    Shelby Glidden 12:40 AM  

    @ Gretchen 9:22 A.M. lol...shall we smoke a couple of El Cheapos spang in the middle of the town square, anonymously, while we wait...?

    Jofried 6:41 AM  

    I’m sure no one will see this as it’s already Friday morning...but I just lost my 215 day streak on this stupid puzzle! Wah! I was driving from my home in NJ to VA for my daughter’s softball tournament and there was construction on the road where the hotel is located and I could not get to the hotel. Spent literally 25 minutes driving around in the dark before someone from the hotel explained how to get there. By the team I got into the room I had 15 minutes to do the puzzle, which normally would be fine...but not this thing! Took me 26 minutes, way over my average. Grrr!

    sketto 7:02 PM  

    EL CHEAPO is “vaguely” racist?

    Or in clearer words - not racist, but you don’t like it. Crying “vague” racism is BS. Not every phrase that hits your ear with a thud comes from racism.

    So, shall we add EL CHEAPO to the list of words we can’t say, or is it just the “El” that’s racist? I assume CHEAP is still ok? How about CHEAPIE? I didn’t want to spring for the good seats, so I got us a couple of cheapies.

    Yikes, suffixes really change everything, don’t they? This sounded like word police bullshit until Rex pointed out that someone has written a paper about it. So, that settles it.

    Good thing I check this blog or I’d go around being all racist merely by calling my friend a CHEAPO for bringing Budweiser to the picnic.

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