1998 Paul Simon Derek Walcott musical / Rapper with 5x platinum album then there was x / Press secretary who inspired CJ Cregg of West Wing / Classic blues song with line I'd rather be dead than to stay here be your dog

Saturday, November 3, 2018

Constructor: Ryan McCarty

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium (except for one ridiculous place in the NW)

THEME: none

Word of the Day: APPARAT (2D: Political organization) —
  1. the administrative system of a communist party, typically in a communist country.
• • •

This puzzle was repulsive from the start. Two of the first three answers I got mentioned a fascist, right-wing politician and an offensive word for a disabled person, so, yeah, no, I did not DIG that. Just ... unfathomable that you'd think Marine Le F***ing Pen was worth your little wordplay gimmick there (4D: Le Pen pal? = AMI). Racism, fascism, and anti-immigrant sentiment aren't f***ing funny, and they certainly aren't funny at this particular point in world history. (And I'll give you the benefit of the doubt and assume you were evoking Marine and not her much worse, out-and-out racist, Holocaust-denying father) And dear lord you could've gone other ways with GIMP (18D: Hobble). You really, really could have. Without much trouble. Why? It's like you just don't have an ear for this job. It's all just letters and words, and the fact that they have meaning, that they evoke images and feelings that affect people, just doesn't occur to you. It's startling. And again, it's especially startling in late 2018. Negligent, if not IGNOBLE. (also, lots of solvers will try LIMP and get very stuck because I mean who the hell uses GIMP, my god)

Then there's the regular crossword irksomeness, which today went by the name of APPARAT. I have no idea what that is, *and* the extremely vague, non-Communism-mentioning clue does nothing to help. Further, it crosses a proper noun I've also never heard of ("CAPEMAN") and, worse for me, it crosses WANT AD. I had written in WANTED. This seemed fine to me at first. Things that are WANTED can be sold/found in the "Classified" ads. Ugh. Normally something would've come along to disabuse me of the "E," but the only thing that came along was APPARAT (!?!), a word I can't remember ever having seen in my nearly half century of life. I had APPERAT and just stared at it. Actually, I had AVPERAT (because I had "CAVEMAN"), and kept trying to parse it all sorts of different ways. Eventually decided the "V" had to be wrong, and guessed "P" (correct!), but there was no way in hell I was ever going to see that WANTED / APPERAT was wrong. I have no idea why you would continue making your grid if your only fix was APPARAT. That word is a tear-it-downer. I've been doing this long enough that I can tell you my problem with that word will play out all over solverdom, and that is the thing constructors/editors should be able to foresee. APPARAT is a blotch on your grid (especially if the crosses aren't perfect); putting it in there severely detracts from anything wonderful you might've done in the rest of the grid. All your crosses for a bad entry like that have to be perfect, and at least one, possibly two here, weren't.

TWO-PLY is not "thick." The Entire SW is ugly as heck (NONHERO?! INATRAP SIL PERES TOPOL oof). There were decent parts of this puzzle, but you wanna throw racist world leaders at me? Gratuitously? You'll forgive me if I'm not really in the mood to tell you what's good. Or you won't. Whichever.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Austin Smith 7:33 AM  

And the "gimp" clue could have so so easily been fixed: LANA del Ray and AIL and LIMP. Done. Yuck.

Lewis 7:35 AM  

At 62 words, and with answers like APPARAT, REPINOE, IGNOBLE, STYGIAN, and AMOROSO, this certainly looked like a Saturday puzzle, but to me it acted more like a Friday, as easy-for-Saturday footholds seemed to instantaneously spread into swaths.

Two examples. In the NW, CAMEO and CANTOR fell right in, which led to I'M TIRED and NEONATE, which brought MARTINA and MALALA, then the rest (APPARAT was in my wheelhouse, Rex). In the NE, CUL brought VICODIN and AMUSE ME, which, with a filled in NW, brought ANTIVAXXERS, then DORA THE EXPLORER, and in no time the entire North was filled in. The South worked similarly, and I was basically astonished that a Saturday could fill in as quickly as it did.

So I'm thinking this should have been a Friday as is, or the clues should have been toughened a bit.

Not to say I didn't enjoy ripping through a Saturday! Furthermore, the grid is gorgeous and polished as a Jaguar's CAR PAINT, remarkable for a 62 worder. And I loved the triple EDs going up those stairs in the SE, only to be matched by the WA/CA/CA/MA (which sounds like it could be a bird call, maybe a macaw) climbing the upside-down steps in the NW.

All the work you put into this, Ryan (as detailed in your notes in WordPlay), made for a big "Whee!" for me. Thank you!

Chris 7:38 AM  

Bleh. At least now I know where APPARATchik comes from.

Lewis 7:41 AM  

Regarding GIMP, here is what commenter Martin on WordPlay (I believe he test-solves NYT puzzles for Will) had to say as a response to someone with the objection brought up by Rex:

"Walk with a gimp" is no more derogatory, in my opinion, than "walk with a limp." Calling a person a "gimp," as bullying speech, is very derogatory.

"I believe that context counts. I realize that some folks would prefer to see words that have a derogatory sense not used at all, in speech as well as in print.

"I have stated many times my belief that when a "good" word is banned because of an abusive sense, the bullies win. For example, as vile as I find the word used insultingly, banning "a chink in the armor" (as was suggested once when it appeared in a puzzle) strikes me as an awful idea.

"I don't mean to belittle your sensitivity, which is admirable, but I assure you that editorial decisions of this sort are not made thoughtlessly."

John Morrison 7:54 AM  

The worst clue was 3D, "Shepherds, in the Bible" suggests a NOUN, not a conjugate of a verb.

Calman Snoffelevich 7:55 AM  

Thanks for that quote, Lewis.

As I've said before, not everything that *could* be used offensively is meant to be offensive. It's a little ridiculous to get butthurt every time it happens. Especially ANTIVAXXERS, which is a common term and was never used offensively. Grow up.

Robert 8:08 AM  

Never in my life have I heard “walk with a gimp.” Ever. Never ever.

db 8:11 AM  

Get outta here with “Apple CORER”

QuasiMojo 8:24 AM  

I raced through this only to discover I had a DNF since I put in DIS rather than DIG because of the “little” in the clue. I wasn’t sure what “simp” meant but it sounded like it could be hobble. I did not see GIMP but then I only know that word from camp where we used to make lanyards out of it.

“Seriously” Rex, never heard of “apparatchik”? Le Pen is also the name of a Bic product. I agree “Bon Ami” would have worked just as well.

I almost had a double DNF because of DMX crossing EMT. I did not know that the Red Cross trained them. I was going with Dr X which made some kind of sense.

Too many random names in this one to get a thumbs up from me.

mmorgan 8:34 AM  

@Lewis -- thanks for pointing out WACACAMA. That really has a nice ring to it.

I had no trouble with CAPEMAN or APPARAT, but I did get stuck with lIMP (that's limp -- the lower case L looks just like the capital I on my iPad). I've only seen gimp (or Gimpy) as applied to a person, not as a synonym for a limp, and I just didn't go there. Never heard of RAPINOE but I got it from crosses. Also got messed up in the SE with SlOwED for SNORED at 56A.

I'm sure Rex's comments will bring out some interesting, um, responses today.

hlinak 8:35 AM  

On Saturday it seems reasonable to clue GIMP as “?Photoshop alternative.”

Anonymous 8:39 AM  

You ascribe moral agency to a crossword puzzle? In fact it is all just "words and letters." It's a puzzle. There are no "bad" words, just words that fit or don't fit. To use some guy's puzzle as an opportunity to flaunt your superior morality is bullying. Not cool, man.

--Walker T.

Joel Palmer 8:42 AM  

Apparatchik is a word more commonly used to describe a party functionary.

Anonymous 8:46 AM  

You do not become an EMT by taking a Red Cross training class - just saying.

Fansince1939 8:47 AM  

Well said.

Anonymous 8:50 AM  

Context counts! There’s a world of difference between GIMP as a sobriquet and as a description of a hitch in one’s step. Why no outcry over BIGOTED, which seems far worse to me? A bigot is not just intolerant of the fact that people have differences—they are actively prejudiced, discriminatory & racist.

Frank Birthdaycake 8:53 AM  

I had the “A” in 4-Across, and I immediately entered “AFD” for 4-Down. It made sense and seemed reasonably accurate, regardless of how tone-deaf naming Le Pen or AfD on the Jewish sabbath, one week after a massacre at a synagogue may be. I figured out “AFD” was wrong and got “AMI” on 12- and 14-Across. The “I” in “AMI” was the last letter I filled in the puzzle because I could not think of any three-letter words for “Le Pen pal.” Only four-letter words can describe anyone who is a pal of Le Pen.

Anonymous 8:54 AM  

"I believe that context counts. I realize that some folks would prefer to see words that have a derogatory sense not used at all, in speech as well as in print.

"I have stated many times my belief that when a "good" word is banned because of an abusive sense, the bullies win. For example, as vile as I find the word used insultingly, banning "a chink in the armor" (as was suggested once when it appeared in a puzzle) strikes me as an awful idea."

It's a failed analogy. "Chink" in that context has two different meanings, whereas "gimp" does not. As a result, whether "gimp" is offensive depends on the intent of the user and is thus subjective. Why invite the question? The idea that this somehow thwarts bullying - in a crossword puzzle - is ridiculous.

If this person is a test-solver, and this is the quality of his reasoning, then perhaps a new test solver should be found.

Richard 8:57 AM  

I also tried LIMP and WANTED. I think the last time I heard GIMP was from my dad, and he's been gone awhile.

Kevin 9:05 AM  

I had DIS as “a little put down.” That is a better answer than dig because it not only means an insult but also plays on the word’s being a prefix too. But that left me with SIMP as “hobble” instead of GIMP. I actually stared at that and tried to figure out how simp (which is a real word) could refer to hobble. I have never heard GIMP used as a verb, but I did see it existed. But I didn’t even try it for ten minutes.

Anonymous 9:06 AM  

Missed a golden opportunity to clue CORER as "Apple hardware".

Oh, and the fascism thing. That too.

Anonymous 9:07 AM  

Dis place be cray.

Le Pew 9:09 AM  

I liked it though it went by too fast. Yesterday’s was harder for me. I thought the ami clue was a clever twist on a common crossword answer. You never know what’s going to trigger Mike Sharp. I was expecting a lecture on anti-vaxxers.

Anonymous 9:12 AM  

Moe the Gimp managed and married Ruth Etting, subject of the biopic starring Doris Day: 'Love me or leave me'.

pabloinnh 9:14 AM  

Had a couple of "please don't be ___" in this one, one at CARPAINT, which strikes me as green paint, and another at SERENER, which just, no. Not offended by the mention of world leaders who are offensive, they're still world leaders. Hand up for never ever hearing "walk with a gimp". I'm old enough to have heard that term and as I've heard it, walking with a gimp would imply two people.

The CAPEMAN was not a smashing success, not surprised people have forgotten it.

Not the hardest Saturday but the four-separate-corners construction is never one of my favorites.

MadLib 9:16 AM  

"I have stated many times my belief that when a "good" word is banned because of an abusive sense, the bullies win." Nah Uh. Really? Someone said that about gimp?

Fill in the blank to amuse yourself, "I have stated many times that when a "good" ( ) is banned because of an ( ) sense, the ( ) win."

I'm not triggered, YOU're triggered 9:16 AM  

Lewis, it's folks like you who have said things in the past like, "Well, at least he got the trains running on time!" Sometimes your pollyanna posts are annoying AF. There is no virtue in being "optimistic" when you ignore the larger picture. I'm not asking that you become a sourpuss misanthrope, but surely you understand that being critical of language (of all things) these days is important.

And to the posters here who have and will post about Rex being "triggered" and/or a snowflake...I might point out that it is a very common element among folks here who subscribe to such terms that they generally become angry anytime Rex says anything you disagree with. You are quick (too quick) to point out how he is triggered...all the while being triggered yourselves. Like our former president asked the other day, "why are you so angry?"

As for the puzzle itself, APPARAT/WANTAD was definitely a Natick for me. I didn't have any problem with the Le Pen clue because I figured it was one of those jokes about the French language, similar to the Renault "Le Car" of the 80s or the conversation in Pulp Fiction when they are talking about "Le Big Mac." I should have noticed that "Pen" was capitalized.

I also thought Apple CORER was stupid. Or, maybe I should say in my best Lewis voice, "it was a fresh way to talk about a device I never use. I laughed out loud!"

GILL I. 9:22 AM  

Don't be mad at me, @Rex but I lovingly call my husband Mr. GIMPy. He loves it. He also has a cute name for his wheelchair but I'm not sharing it.
My last entry was APPARAT. I had forgotten its use. I may have heard it once in reference to Fidel. Other than that, the rest didn't bring on any angst. As a matter of fact, I rather enjoyed the work-out.
There is lots to ponder here. Words that are in the language. IGNOBLE, BIGOTED and STYGIAN fitting in with the ANTI VAXXERS. Heaven help them if their precious child gets the measles. Or worse, spreads them.
Le Pen pal....AMI. Actually, that amused me. You know...Pen Pal. She's such a nothing, I didn't even think about her issues. I would say IDI did far worse.
IM TIRED. I need something to AMUSE ME and I have a feeling we'll get lots, today.

kitshef 9:23 AM  

DNF at DIG/GIMP cross, where I flirted with DIl/lIMP before going with DIs/sIMP.

Definitely a wheelhouse day for me, with RAPINOE and ROALD and MALALA going straight in.

Interesting puzzle, alternating brilliant stuff like SAINT PETERSBURG, STYGIAN, IGNOBLE and NEONATE with questionable things like SERENER and NONHERO and, of course, CAR PAINT.

Mohair Sam 9:23 AM  

How could they allow AMOROSO to be clued as anything except "The only Italian roll for your hoagie or cheesesteak"? Back me up on this Philly people.

E. Macron 9:32 AM  

I’m no fan of Marine Le Pen but if her appearance in a puzzle upsets you then you might want to rethink your life. I seem to remember there was a Gimp in Pulp Fiction but I saw that a long time ago.

kitshef 9:35 AM  

Hand up for GIMP being waxed threads used in craft projects. You could do butterfly stitch, box stitch, or barrel stitch. I'm guessing there were others but I only learned those three.

Agron 9:37 AM  

Rex, why no whining about CAPEMAN, which sort of glorified a vicious murderer. Not enough of a political slant, I guess.

Michael 9:43 AM  

Moderator must be on vacation: politics and ad hominem attacks in the comments and it’s not even 10a.

Roo Monster 9:45 AM  

Hey All !
First off, I missed the response yesterday to my second post before it was removed by an Administrator. Was someone DIGging at me? Anyone remember and can tell me? Just curious.

Todays puz wasn't too bad. Odd grid, some odd answers, but nothing spectacular. Typical tough Saturday for me. Use of Check Puzzle feature to root out wrongness. Favorite was MARTINA. I really liked Ms. Hingis in the 90's.


GILL I. 9:52 AM  

@Mohair....Hah! My train of thought went to AMOROSO sherry. Jerez de la Frontera and all that. But I will back you up on the hoagie roll. I don't think we get them here in Sacatomato.
Oh, and did anyone else have HAZZAN for 14D? I only know CANTOR singer in Christian Worship. I learned today that a CANTOR also sings in a synagogue.

Zed 9:53 AM  

Bring out the GIMP

benjaminthomas 10:04 AM  

I find it amusing that a university professor gets this discombobulated over the inclusion of the word "apparat" in a Saturday puzzle. I mean, it's not the most common term in the world, but I would think the world's greatest puzzle solver could handle a little difficulty on a Saturday.

Teedmn 10:15 AM  

I could say, "I'M TIRED" as my excuse for this puzzle taking me 10 or 15 minutes over my usual Saturday solve (and it would be true - I AM tired) but I think there was more going on than just mental exhaustion. I couldn't puzzle my way out of a paper bag today.

The top half of the puzzle went by fast. An early I'M boRED and laMe were the main hold-ups there. But the bottom half, oh my. Not much extra black ink down there because I was just BLANK.

I knew I would have to get 29A before I could finish the SE as Megan, the soccer star, was a total WOE and ST____A_ was stuck in a dark, forbidding part of my brain. But even having read "Crime and Punishment" not all that long ago, I wasn't getting St. Petersburg. I had TER in the middle and was expecting something like Holy Mother Russia or some other APPARATchik saying. I finally dredged up DEEDEEMYERS and that extra E gave me 42A.

Even then, I was still stuck in the bottom of the SW. _T__I at 53A, could sTolI come in quarts and thus have "quarterly" profits? And spelling TOPeL to get a NONHERe ordinary joe? I fixed all that but really, I need to go back to bed after such mental gymnastics.

I used to date a guy with a very nice TRANS AM (didn't help me dredge that up today) and my brother always called it the TRANS marans. I always love how crosswords can bring back youthful memories.

Ryan McCarty, thanks for the workout.

Teedmn 10:18 AM  

And whoever came up with the clue for LEADETH, kudos. I thought that misdirection was brilliant!

CaliMarie 10:30 AM  

Hands up for Apple CRISP. A friend of mine had a convertible TransAm in Italy and picked me up in it one day for lunch in the Tuscan hills. Everywhere we went Italian boys would run down the street and follow the car. They loved it. When we came out of the restaurant it was filled with ragazzi who’d climbed in. They never wanted to leave.

Bob Mills 10:34 AM  

Way too many farfetched entries here. It's possible to construct a difficult puzzle without resorting to misleading clues.

Hungry Mother 10:42 AM  

In typical fashion, I slogged through the whole thing and had one error, which was in an obvious spot, not the spot I was worried about. I had MAhALA and hEADETH. Another of a countless note to self: check the ones you know are right harder.

Jim 10:45 AM  

Why yes, having a person and/or group of people pronounce themselves the decider of which words I may or may not use, and in what context, does indeed leave me a little butt-hurt. Why do you ask?

Anonymous 10:47 AM  

Give up. You know Philly doesnt count. Which is fine by me. We know it's a great town, and thanks to the media blackout, still affordable and authentic. It'll get pricey and homogenized, but it'll take a while.

How do you feel about Wawa baking their own "Amoroso" rolls on site at each store? It bothered me at first, but I do beleive they've got it down. Or at least close enough.
Last bit. I know you're west of town, but if you ever cross a bridge to SoJo, be sure and score some Del Buonos rolls. They're even better than Amorosos.

Nancy 11:02 AM  

@Quasi and I did the same thing. My little put-down was a DIs, too (though it's probably spelled DISS) and I ended up with sIMP, too, though it made no sense. But neither did DIL for the put-down, and I never thought of DIG/GIMP at all. And, FWIW, I don't like GIMP any more than the rest of you. That's the "put-down", if you ask me.

My other misfire: WANTeD/APPeRAT. Do we use this word in the good old U S of A? Outside of APPARATchik, I never heard of it. So today my nits and mistakes seem to be the same as those of many other people.

Apple CIDER before CORER, but that one I corrected. I think the J in the joe clue at 32D should have been capitalized. But despite all of the above, plus the rapper, the song title and the car model, I actually quite enjoyed this puzzle. It AMUSEd ME.

Eric NC 11:10 AM  

@Lewis. Well said, I’m tired of the ranting on common words clued properly. Walking with a gimp is certainly still in the language and clued appropriately. God save us from the overly sensitive out there. I guess I’ll hear from the Godless now.

Anonymous 11:11 AM  

Knew 'apparatchik' so 2D was not a killer.

Anonymous 11:14 AM  

For those of you wondering who Megan Rapinoe is, watch this. I promise it’s worth your time. This is my favorite moment in soccer, hands down, ever. The Brazilians had been game playing the whole time - faking injuries, displaying really poor sportsmanship - they lost the crowd (which is saying something - the USA women don’t usually get the crowd in a neutral spot). By the end of the game the entire stadium was pulling for the USA. We were in extra time because one of the Brazilians faked an injury and it backfired on her - the ref added a few extra minutes and as time was winding down, Rapinoe was part of the most epic goal in US soccer history. I cried like a baby when this happened! And we went on to win in penalties. So, without further ado, ladies and gentlemen, Megan Rapinoe:


Devin Mogler 11:20 AM  

Wow, like OFL, I'm not even sure where to begin with this one. Literally, was unable to get a single word in the NW until I had the rest of the puzzle mostly filled in after an arduous slog through more proper nouns than I've seen all week.

This puzzle should have come with a disclaimer: "If you haven't been religiously reading the NYT Style, Sports, Arts and book review sections for the past forty years, then don't bother with this one."

Luckily I've read Dostoyevsky and about Arctic exploration, but without those I would have been DOA. Random tennis players crossing obscure Broadway musicals, some Blues song that starts with two Cs(?) Then the unforgivable apple CIDER, CODER, CORER? C'mon that's just bad - esp with un-inferable crosses, just like that joke APPARAT. Need to google that, along with PERES and SYGIAN... woof.

Unknown 11:25 AM  

Seriously, you can be an EMT with only a Red Cross course? Who knew? Nobody, because it's not true. That was some sloppy editing right there.

Banana Diaquiri 11:25 AM  

FWIW, given APPARAT in the grid, there is a tough clue (but fully accurate) for GIMP: it's the name of a GUI editing program in the unix/linux world, mostly. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GIMP

TubaDon 11:30 AM  

Happy to get APPARAT, TWOPLY, ROAL,AMUSE ME on the first try. Not so proud to guess GRAND AM, PHI(ly), CIDER, UPATREE. Had to go online and use the checker to straighten me out. Had no Idea what VAXXER's were, or Le Pen Rex was ranting about until I googled them post-solve. The 4D clue would have worked just as well with a lower-case P. Most enjoyable answer was CAR PAINT.

Ry 11:32 AM  

I took it as a verb. To hobble is the same as to gimp. You might hear “gimp around” doesn’t make it better but I don’t think it’s meant to be a noun.

Unknown 11:40 AM  

Another puzzle in the "glad that one's over" category...

My final sticking-point was DIG/GIMP. Of course, every reasonable person would immediately fill in LIMP (tho GIMP is certainly apropos), and having done so, that left DIL as the cross.

At the time, I was a bit taken aback by the editor's keeping that stet (go Urban Dictionary "dil", or use your imagination), but I shrugged it off, and never questioned it when, later, I had to do a puzzle sweep and never did find that one error.

Arguably, though, indelicate as my answer is, it's technically correct!

Anonymous 11:42 AM  

Your efforts to bring some clarity to Rex's aggressively over-sensitive culture of complaint are indeed appreciated.

Anonymous 11:45 AM  

You absolutely can, so you're "just saying" something that's wrong.

Passing Shot 11:49 AM  

Haven’t read the comments, but 100% agree with Rex. And he didn’t even mention CAR PAINT. This puzzle left a foul taste.

clk 11:54 AM  

That would have been a great clue!

tbd88 11:55 AM  

GIMP is also a craft, and a fairly powerful open-sourced graphics program, so it's not the four letters but the intent, and this intent isn't good. It's the same with NRA appearing, why not clue it as a Roosevelt-era program, which it was? AMI is completely innocuous as a word but the cluing isn't, maybe something clever about the scouring powder BON ___? ANTIVAXXERS... don't get me started.

jp flanigan 11:57 AM  

Free speech is easy: you have every right to use offensive language and references, but then I have every right to call you out on it.

We all have learned biases and have picked up offensive language without completely understanding the depth and heft that some terms hit other people's ears. Spending some time evaluation your own usage and making adjustments or self-edits when you learn about other people's sensibilities is one of the easiest ways we can can make ourselves better people.

If someone calls you out for using a term they find offensive, don't defend it right away.Stop, think, try to see how they hear it and then make an adjustment. If you still want to use that term, then go ahead, that's your right...but understand that you are now knowingly offending that person and will likely get a reaction you don't like.

Thank You REX for continuing to use this platform to publicly call-out the NYT for their questionable use of language.

clk 12:03 PM  

I have never heard anyone say “walk with a gimp” so I did find it offfensive. Is that usage a regional thing?

Anonymous 12:07 PM  

You're wrong. The Red Cross has regularly trained and certified EMTs for years, including those working for large urban fire departments. Aggressive ignorance isn't a good look.

Anonymous 12:11 PM  

Very obvious today how the quality of commenters's arguments is inversely related to their performed outrage. OFL's justification of WANTeD is fairly ridiculous.

I must be tired because I couldn’t not read “nickname” and “families” for the longest time. Considered abiDErs before LEADETH. Wonderful misdirection that!

@Lewis was clearly quoting someone else, surely in the spirit of the peacemaker. There’s a distinction to be made between that and a Mussolini apologist.

clk 12:14 PM  

Fun fact: thanks to ANTIVAXXERS, the US has lower vaccination rates than many of the Central American countries represented in the so-called caravan.

ZenMonkey 12:14 PM  

I love it when nondisabled people say "In my opinion it's not offensive."

Because then I know whom to ignore for the rest of my life.

Roberto Escobar 12:24 PM  

Well, not surprised by Rex’s LePen/gimp rant. It’s his blog and he can express his views. My only rejoinders are, first, it’s just a crossword puzzle, a minor diversion, so you might want to save your outrage for far more important issues in more important contexts. Second, neither Rex nor anyone else controls the words we are permitted to use, or the manner in which, however good or bad, we are allowed to express ourselves That is a good thing

However, his rant on apparat was just stupid. Obviously, he has never read a book, or taken a course on the political history of the USSR. Apparat, especially for a professor at a university, is not a partularly obscure word. I think Rex was just embarrassed because he didn’t know and took his frustration out on the puzzle’s author.

Anonymous 12:24 PM  

I got stuck on gimp at the end, but already had to look up some of the proper names. Gimp is never a word I heard growing up, either positively or negatively----just never heard it. Too much outrage over Le Pen. Most people don't even know about him/her. I knew apparat had to be right since I know the word apparatchik. I could not parse "want ad" though, so couldn't figure out how that "wantad" was correct. Though I have followed this blog for many years, I am tiring of the moderator's angry tone most of the time. I enjoy a good crossword puzzle review about the construction and not outbursts about the improper use of this word or that word. Certainly, insensitive word use occurs from time to time, but the review should not focus on that in my opinion. It is all just too tiresome. Goodbye and see you on another blog.

Anonymous 12:30 PM  

No, it isn't.

Kelly Meyersfield 12:35 PM  

or gimp: fishing line made of silk bound with wire

Carola 12:40 PM  

Challenging for me and DNF on a couple of fronts. Like others, I went wrong on MAhALA (probably thinking of Mahalia Jackson) and DIs; also, my Biblical "shepherds" was hErDETH, giving me CAR PrINT (with a "Whatever" shrug).
Do-overs: STYxIAN, Tnt.
Help from previous puzzles: ANTI-VAXXERS, SPYWARE
Pleasures of the grid: AMOROSO, APPARAT, STYGIAN, and being reminded of the feats of RAPINOE and MARTINA.

ColoradoCog 12:43 PM  

@Zed, lol, I had a similar thought. Maybe GIMP could have been clued “Pulp Fiction role with a short line?” But that certainly wouldn’t have passed the “breakfast test” and would have kicked off a whole other thread here.

All in all, I think @Rex’s objections were fair. I didn’t react as violently, but there was defintely an “eww” reaction at the points raised.

JC66 12:52 PM  

I thought Le Pen Pal was a pun (@Z - nice PPP, huh?) on French Pen Pal so never thought of the French right-winger.

I continue to wonder why a word that is objectionable in one context, but used in a non-objectionable way in the puzzle causes @Rex and others to be so offended. Best example: A CHINK in the armor.

jae 12:54 PM  

Mostly easy-medium except for the APPARAT/CAPEMAN cross. I guessed right. Me too for lIMP before GIMP (I started out with maim) and WANTeD before WANT AD. Not that fond of this one, too much groan causing fill.

Claudia Tenney 12:55 PM  

Liked the clues on anti-vaxxers and ami. Thanks to Ryan McCarty. #Team Shortz

Anoa Bob 1:04 PM  

It's unusual to see any one row or column that has more black than white squares. Today we get an extreme example in the middle row, 12 black squares and only three white ones, effectively making this two puzzles in one.

Maybe 43A TRAN SAM could be a character in a play about gender fluidity.

Ahh, crossing the STYX. Although he SPELT it STIGIAN rather than the 44A Y-version STYGIAN, I first came across it's use, as I'm sure many of you did, when reading King James I of England's "Counterblaste to Tobacco" (1604). It's a long screed against the growing IGNOBLE popularity of tobacco use, that ends by describing the smoking of it as

"A custome lothsome to the eye, hatefull to the Nose, harmefull to the braine, dangerous to the Lungs, and in the blacke stinking fume thereof, neerest resembling the horrible Stigian smoke of the pit that is bottomelesse."

Masked and Anonymous 1:44 PM  

Really like the two puzgrids, with the DMX DMZ. Each has a nice jaws-of-themelessness corner decoration.

CARPAINT. super har. Primo. [Some puz **must** now have: EVAGREENCARPAINT.]

Hard day at the puzcorral. This one seemed mighty, mighty tough at our house -- followed up by the Saturday Stumper puz (by Agard), which seemed pack-o-wolves cruel and unusual.

staff weeject pick: Well, it sure ain't gonna be AMI, I reckon [@RP: Good morning, sunshine; AM-I right?]. Let's go with CUL. Safer. And U-ier.

LAND/DIG/GIMP could also go to the party as: LANK/KIL/LIMP. [KIL has Michael Sharp Usage Immunity, sooo … ok.] Just sayin. Avoids GIMP, PIMP, and SIMP, too boot.

Thanx for the divisive puzgrid and feisty solvequest, Mr. McCarty. fave entry: DORATHEEXPLORER.

Masked & Anonymo3Us

stumpy stumper.

Chapps 1:48 PM  

Yeah, I got the Le Pen clue and answer ... and was really taken aback. I mean, of all the French people to choose for that clue, why Le Pen??

And then I got stuck at the end of the puzzle. Because, of course 'hobble' had to be LIMP, since I already had _IMP. I mean, it couldn't possibly be ... oh. Yes, yes it was.

What. The. Hell?

Adam Frank 2:05 PM  

The NW was a huge problem for me, for the same reasons @Rex elucidated - CAPEMAN (I vaguely remember this play, but really wanted CAVEMAN), GIMP (I had LIMP and couldn't figure out why DIL would be a put-down, but with these kids today you never know), and of course APPARAT (as someone said above, at least I know where Apparatchik comes from).

I loved the use of STYGIAN - great Saturday/SAT word. But RAPINOE? Never heard of her.


My two least favorite answers were NONHERO (WTF, really?) and Apple CORER. Really? The only thing I could think of was this Honeymooners episode, which I guess is something.

GIMP didn't bother me the way it did @Rex. Using Marine Le Pen or her dad is thoughtless but no worse than I expect of the NYT nowadays. ANTIVAXXERS shouldn't be encouraged, but I loved DORA THE EXPLORER so I guess I can give it a pass. If it had been clued as "Idiots who endanger the rest of us" I would have gotten it more easily.

ZenMonkey 2:07 PM  

Nondisabled people don't get to decide whether GIMP is offensive.

Just like white people dont get to decide whether the n-word is offensive.

Just like straight people don't get to decide whether the f-word is offensive.

Sttraight white nondisabled people do not get to own everything. And if it angers you that you're not allowed to casually use slurs against disenfranchised people, ask yourself if you're really happy with that look on you.

Out of the Loop 2:11 PM  

That wicked you-know-it-or-you-don't NW corner did me in.
I did get ami but why am I supposed to hate her?
I didn't get the memo.

Anonymous 2:19 PM  

I come here for LMS.
Nothing to see here, move along...

JOHN X 2:35 PM  

This puzzle was great! This was a Saturday, folks, and those words aren't there for your enjoyment.

And again we get to enjoy MaximumRexness™ and today the needle was up in the red zone! Wow! Rex really hates hard puzzles.

Here, put on this ball-gag and I'll go wake up the GIMP.

Tom Rowe 2:39 PM  

Not the greatest puzzle in the world. I had the same problems other people had such as gimp, and apparat was especially hard. I could infer apparat in retrospect if you just let your mind roam to apparatchik, a good old fashioned cold war term referring to an official in the communist party.

Mamenka 3:03 PM  

Those "oversensitive" comments riled me up a lot more than anything in the puzzle.

Patricia Hughes 3:05 PM  

Took me forever to get from Limp to Gimp on 18D because Why? just Why?

BarbieBarbie 3:06 PM  

@Mohair, definitely AMOROSO only. And not the frozen Amoroso dough that Wawa uses now. Ugh. A Capriotti’s Bobbie on an Amoroso roll... very very hungry now...

Pfgny 3:21 PM  

@anoa bob Thank you for the lovely quote! Far more enjoyable than the puzzle.

Too many proper names, among other things. I also ended with dil/limp (Ew from me at the correct solution), and objected to serener- it’s not a word. I did get apparat, from apparatchik. I just recently became interested in Saturday puzzles, from comments that have spilled over into the Sunday blog. I think after this I’ll go back to only doing Sunday, long my favorite.

Anonymous 3:26 PM  

What is a pere?

Outside The Box 3:26 PM  

Gimp is used incorrectly anyway, not even accounting for the PC argument.

The clue is hobble, which means limp, as in the verb.

Gimp is noun, besides being a slur.

And if you want to use “hobble” as a noun, it is a strap or rope used (usually) on an animal, which means neither gimp or limp.

TomAz 3:32 PM  

Looking for a toehold to start the puzzle, the NW was a complete blank, so over to the NE where the first thing I put in was SERENER. Then I looked at it, and thought, no f***ing way is that a word, and I took it out. It wasn't til much, much later that I put it in.

I found the south half much easier going than the north. I knew DMX because he was in the news here in AZ a few years back for getting arrested a lot.

I liked STYGIAN and IGNOBLE. CAR PAINT is sort of a clumsy answer but the clue was brilliant, so I forgave it. I got APPARAT, eventually after a few crosses, because I knew APPARATchik and figured an APPARAT might be a thing too. Loved the misdirect on LEADETH, the vagueness on WANT AD, the giggle clue on ATARI.

GIMP? It didn't occur to me that it would be offensive (which doesn't mean it shouldn't be); I just never use the word at all. I had lIMP there for a long time. The Le Pen clue certainly made me wince, but, I'm getting used to that sort of thing here these days. I'm reminded of the line in 'Annie Hall': "What's with all these awards? They're always giving out awards. Best Fascist Dictator: Adolf Hitler."

michiganman 4:12 PM  

pere is French for father. I had trouble with this clue, erroneously seeing it as Members of families, when in fact it was Members of familles. Hence the French connection.

Good ol' Joe 4:19 PM  

I’m a benefit of the doubt kind of guy, but CAPEMAN CARPAINT Apple CORER AMUSEME PERES ROSERED APPARAT SERENER SITSPAT INATRAP NONHERO UNIPED. I admit I have never had a puzzle accepted, but I would never even have submitted this puzzle. C’MON.

GILL I. 4:26 PM  

@Zen Monkey 2:07
I appreciate your post.
My "little big man" grandson has Downs Syndrome. He's the most precious 6 yr old in my life. I've actually heard people call him a "Mongoloid" and I have winced beyond belief. I don't get mad; I write it off as incredibly ignorant. The first time I heard it, I corrected the user - politely - , the second time, I screamed. You know what works best for me? A smile. I can't change idiots.
The same goes for my husband who is disabled because of a stroke. He has a wonderful sense of humor and we make up all kinds of names to call him. It's our little secret but I don't want anyone else in on it.
I don't think GIMP was used to upset people. That it might offend?....then change the damn word and go to LIMP like God intended. ;-)
Now I want a Philly cheesesteak.

Joe Bleaux 4:35 PM  

It's French for "father." If you were solving on paper, you might not have seen the clue as "familles" (with two l's, it's French for "families," to tip you off.)

S. Green 4:42 PM  

What is wrong with including the name of a fascist in a crossword? It is not an endorsement. Bad people and bad things exist. Are they to be excluded as words because their mere mention might upset or offend? I consult your blog because it sometimes offers insight, but your constant whining about non-PC usage is beyond irritating. No wonder today's college students are so infantile. If you are representative of the faculty at colleges, these students are not being well served. Your ridiculous attitude only empowers those on the right who dismiss legitimate critics on the left as snowflakes. Rex, grow a pair.

the Smart Bohemian 4:44 PM  

I was reading this thinking, "what the hell is he talking about" and then realized that while I was doing the puzzle I had misread "Le Pen" as "Le Pew," i.e. Pepe the cartoon skunk.

Like many I also had DIS and SIMP.

Hungry Mother 4:51 PM  

Thanks to all that reminded me of “Pulp Fiction.” I can’t love it enough. When I discovered that the hospital had taped Atropine needles near the head of my bad, I thought of John Travolta and the heart shot. I had the wrong med, but it made me laugh anyway.

pmdm 4:59 PM  

Oh my. If someone were to read today's blog and comments, I wonder if that perso would bother to return.

First, Roberto Excobar, Will Shotz has the power as editor to determine which words make it into the puzzles. What you said is really not true in the crossword world.

Ture, Mr. Sharp can come off as a bully. Perhaps he tends toward the passive-aggresive personality. Such people seem to be over- or under-reactive depending on the circumstances. Mike's comment some time ago that he avoided greeting Mr. Berry at a tournament suggests that to me. But I don't pretend to be a psychiatrist or know him well enough to make such a judgment.

This is what I have picked up reading (but not commenting on) the blog daily. If the puzzle was constructed by a constructor he doesn't like, he will try to find "problems" that he skewers at length with venomous prose. When he can't do that, he will at most praise some aspects of the puzzle but NEVER say he liked the puzzle or say that the puzzle was good. Of course, there are probably exceptions, but this is how it usually works.

If he likes the constructor (say, Patrick Berry or Eric Akberg), he will pass over most of the puzzle negatives or at most mention them briefly. He will never call the puzzle bad. Again, there may be rare exceptions.

Otherwise, he will be extremely hard to please. He will center in on things to complain about. If his complaints are primarily subjective, he will at times compose lengthly and tortured logic to justify what he writes. At times, his illogic can become almost laughable. Mr.Shortz calls him cranky. In fact, too cranky to be taken seriously. I disagree. But I would find it hard to argue that a blog like today's comes very close to shooting oneself in the foot. His apparent tendencies that way is one of the reason he lets Annabel blog on the first Monday of the month. (That would be this Monday. Yea.)

So tomorrow's puzzle, Sunday's, is a Patrick Berry composition. See if you can predict how he will react based on the above before you read te blog.

I found today's puzzle quite difficult, which speaks more of my interests than the quality of the puzzle. (Many seem to miss that point.) I found the puzzle to be neither good nor bad - just a puzzle that does what it should do: challenge me.

By the way, I just watched a Laurel and Harvey movie in which they escaped from prison. In order to avoid recapture, they had to use blackface as a disguise. Blackface is a technique that was used as a racial denigration. I didn't think the movie used the technique at all in that way, but I can understand why it can upset many. The way I can understand why the music of Wagner can upset Jews who witnessed the atrocities of Hitler's Germany. This involves a problem that I fear has no simple solution. I believe Mr. Shortz is sensitive to the problem. Of course, he is not perfect and his judgment at times may be fairly criticized. But I would agree with those who complain more about an inappropriate clue than the entry itself. This is not a problem that is going to disappear.

EarlyRetired 5:04 PM  

If this were the first NYT xword we tried, hubby and I would call it quits and never try again. Was ecstatic to see 1A MALALA. Seemed like a gimmme. But never heard of CAPEMAN, and after googling it, well, I guess I applaud his supposed rehabilitation, but starting out with a convicted murderer entry, crossed by the horrible Le Pen business put a foul odor on this puzzle for us. Lived in France in the 80's and 'Le Pen ami' may have a cute look to it as a clue, but No. Just No. Continuing with 18D, we almost walked away from this one. After that we got bogged down with DORA, having guessed at the NE corner downs to make PLayER for the NY Nicks basketball team. We were completely at sea with RAPINOE, NEONATE, APPARAT. And AMOROSO was a total WOE. 56A SNORED seems a reach as clued. In the end it was a big old DNF for us (only second in some nearly 2000 NYT xwords we've done) because of APPARiT/NEONiTE. Very little that we liked about this one. Best we can say is that it sure did pack a punch in diversity. You've got your rapper (DMX) in there with STYGIAN business in the SE. Some retro car talk with 43A TRANSAM which were all the rage when we were in highschool and couldn't afford in our dreams. 45A SETH is probbaly pretty hip, too, though we only enjoyed him on The Orville because of our Trekkie inclinations. We expect NYT to challenge us with a smattering of geograpy, history, arts, foreign language (S'IL at 50D)and sports (oh, yes, sports, but, as an aside, why does it almost *always* have to be baseball!?!, though today we were treated to tennis and soccer. Just saying.), etc.. But this one had too much on our blind side. So from SAINTPETERSBURG and STYGIAN (shout outs to maybe the older crowd), through the 80's TRANSAM and ATARI era, on to DORA, DMX, and that realtively new phenomenon of ANTIVAXXERS (what's up with the xx?!), mixed with sports (RAPINOE) and (MARTINA), and throwing in the literatrue thing with Crime and Punsihment, we guess it makes die-hard solvers enjoy the solve, but for us the slant on 18D and 4D just made us go ugh. Just ugh.

Travel Bum 5:14 PM  

A pen pal using a Bic Le Pen is an AMI, n’est-ce pas?

OffTheGrid 5:22 PM  

If I were reading this blog for the first time I would think many commenters are pathologically obsessed
with Rex Parker.

foxaroni 5:25 PM  

Stygian? I learned that from Robert E. Howard's "Conan the Barbarian." I was completely unaware of LE PEN the person. I thought the clue was a play on words, calling for a French "pal" answer. Check Google for more on "The Capeman." Its Broadway demise was a crushing blow to Paul Simon, one of the 20th century's greatest songwriter-poets. (In my opinion.) Gimp is a pejorative in almost any situation. Since we're quibbling today, ROSERED is not a "light crimson." SERENER is ludicrouser.

michiganman 5:27 PM  

And now for something completely different:

The term uniped refers to a person or creature with only one foot and one leg, as contrasted with a biped and a quadruped. Moving using only one leg is known as unipedal movement. Many bivalvia and nearly all gastropoda molluscs have evolved only one foot.

Rita Flynn 5:34 PM  

Talking about “context” for offensive double-entendres is disingenuous. The constructor, and anyone who subscribes to this argument, AND THE EDITORS, should know better. There’s no excuse for including racist, ableist or sexist terms in a crossword, just to be clever, or topical, or to see if you can get away with it. Terms like that are excluded from the anagram game, the Spelling Bee. No excuse for them to be included in the crossword.

Anonymous 5:35 PM  

Ah hah ha ha ha ha haha hahah hahhha ha

Rainbow 6:06 PM  

I think context is critical. Per @Foxaroni- "Gimp is a pejorative in almost any situation." Whereas chink, as in armor, is innocuous. Spelling Bee is without context and excluding certain words seems appropriate.

Patrick Butler 6:26 PM  

I had a double DNF with your DIS and SIMP and Rex’s APPERAT and WANTED. Can’t remember when that ever happened. Too much obscure stuff in this one. And I agree tha Le Pen is not a name to cutesify, though I am fine with antivaxxers Not sure about gimp.

Anonymous 7:20 PM  

Ha ha! Just saw your tweet wher you accuse the Times of being edited by a white guy. You racist jerk. Dean Baquet is black. Man, you are one sorry man child.

Anonymous 7:41 PM  

It’s Erik Agard, not Eric Asberg. @pmdm

brainpercy 8:00 PM  

Exactly why I thought Rex’s rant surprising. This wasn’t a crazy one to get. Seeing “WANTeD” as possibly fitting the space quickly led me to WANT AD, also very doable, which confirmed APPARAT, as Classified was perfect match for WANT AD (you really can’t complain about construction if you miss that one).

Was as surprised to see GIMP in there as others though.

Fast puzzle day for me too, though PERES/TOPOL were kind of best guesses for me. Usually I get those last gills guesses wrong but luck came today. :)

Anonymous 8:04 PM  

@Z monk - do gay people get to decide if the f-word is offensive? If so then henceforth “British smoke” and “bundle of sticks” are officially OK clues.

brainpercy 8:04 PM  

Isn’t that why it’s a good clue? To shepherd certainly is a verb as well, and the use in clue is ambiguous which it is, though the noun comes quicker to mind. I usually try to figure out the second most likely interpretation of clues on Saturdays....

brainpercy 8:05 PM  

Apple CORERs are for wIMPs?

brainpercy 8:06 PM  

Struggle to see WANT AD as “obscure”?

brainpercy 8:07 PM  

I was thinking same but many would WOE that one, I’d guess. Little too niche-y?

BigJ 8:08 PM  

Hi Ya'll

Boy that comment about Love me or Leave Me brings back memories. My roommate and I watched It on Late Nite TV on an Lexington KY TV station in 1971. You've heard of the never ending story and the last picture show? That movie was the never ending picture show! It went on for 3 1/2 hours!!!!

That's fun in College John

brainpercy 8:21 PM  


brainpercy 8:25 PM  

Wait, Natick? You’ve never heard of a WANT AD? Hm. Maybe I don’t know what a Natick is?

brainpercy 8:28 PM  

Had similar experience to your second paragraph. As a Seattlite and Reign FC fan, was proud to see Megan Rapinoe in the puzzle! :)

Z 9:01 PM  

I watch soccer most Saturday mornings. A few weeks ago a British commentator used the word “fag” in reference to cigarettes. Do you know what happened? At a later point in the broadcast the broadcast team got on the air, explained what was meant, and apologized.

@Zen Monkey - well said.

Anonymous 9:06 PM  

Now Rex is boasting about listening to Elvis Costello.Do a google search and see how Elvis started a brawl by calling both James Brown and Ray Charles the N word.
Gee Rex, who knew you were a bigot, racist, and all around creep? Oh yeah, anyone who reads your screeds.

Banana Diaquiri 9:38 PM  

just saw @ZenMonkey/2:07. his/her last sentence needs to be heeded. there's a reason general civility and intelligence has gone missing these last few years. remember that last sentence when you vote on Tuesday. you are going to vote, aren't you????

Anonymous 9:54 PM  

Thanks for the reminder. I had forgotten. Just so you know, my ballot will be straight Republican. Thanks again for the getting out the vote PSA, otherwise I'd have stayed home.

Moderate Democrat 10:08 PM  

Agree with Banana. The Republicans are white supremacist Nazis who really need to tone down their rhetoric and be more civil.

Pro Choice 10:17 PM  

I choose not to use offensive language. If you choose to that is your business. It’s a free country.

Anonymous 11:21 PM  

I couldn't get "gimp." I had "limp", and thought "little put-down" was "lil" as in "Lil Abner", i.e. taking the word "little" and making it shorter (putting it down). LANL looked terrible, but I told myself it was the Los Alamos National Lab. Stuck for good, lost my streak.

Junief 11:45 PM  

Uniped is not a word. Unipod is a word.

Dorian 9:13 AM  

I got Ami from the crosses and looking back went, "Oh, a Pen Pal is a friend. So Le Pen Pal would be your French friend. That sortof makes sense!" Way to go brain, just keep skipping over the fascists.

Unknown 9:55 AM  

I was familiar with Moe Gimp and with the term but didn't think it would be used. Went with LIMP instead and figured that DIL must be slang for dilettante.

I remembered the phrase "STYGIAN SHORE" from high school latin. It turns up in the Aeneid.

Lots of obscure, unfamiliar, and unsatisfying fill. Loved DORA (my favorite vanity license plate sighting was "DORA" on, of course, an Explorer) but found much to dislike in the puzzle.

Robert Berardi 10:02 AM  

Zed? I thought you were dead, baby.

Anonymous 10:50 AM  

Calm down, everyone. "Pen pal" was really creative clueing. But there really is no excuse for 18D--couldn't believe we were going there. Got "apparat" because I'm familiar with apparatchik. But I think the most strained clue was 24A. I know that neonatal is an adjective--but are we really going to call babies NEONATEs?

Unknown 11:25 AM  

Hence, "arguably", apparently.

Unknown 3:16 AM  

Oh my gosh. I solved correctly, but only just now on reading this resolved my confusion over the clue. I didn't see the verb in there at all!

spacecraft 12:24 PM  

Nope. DNF, thanks to that once-again-brutal NW. First of all, you put a )(*#$%^& rapper smack in the center of the grid. DM-whothehell knows? And that down thing: what was it, ANTIVAXXERS? Who in the WORLD would make up such a God-awful expression? It must've been a--wait for it--crossword constructor, just so he could use a -V_XX- crossing! As if THAT wasn't 100% ungettable, we get hit with APPARAT: HUH?????

As to the taking-offense thing, all I can do is *sigh.* Although I do agree that 18-down was easy enough to fix. As to the other, I must be living under a rock, because I have no earthly idea what that 4-down clue referred to, or who those people are (were?).

Let's just forget the whole thing and wait for tomorrow. No score on a DNF; Megan RAPINOE as DOD works for me.

Burma Shave 12:56 PM  


why she CAN'TOR won't AGREETO play SERENER.


rondo 1:15 PM  

Repulsive? Just stop it. Makes you look IGNOBLE. Politics requires that you AGREETO hear different voices; always has. As to GIMP, I've got a guy on my golf team with a bad knee and he calls himself GIMPy. Take a couple VICODIN and settle down.

For giggles at my fantasy football draft I once announced yeah baby MARTINA Hingis as my first round draft choice.

This puz did AMUSEME for 20 minutes or so. I can DIG it.

rainforest 3:38 PM  

I finished this puzzle almost by chance. DORA THE EXPLORER from that clue was completely unknown. I have since looked it up and "NICK" is either a website or a presenter of Dora. News to me.

APPARAT came by accident, mainly because I entered WANT AD right off. Agree that Le Pen, father and daughter are not nice people, but the inclusion of their name in the puzzle is OK by me. I think that name was used so that Bic (3 letters) might be a "misdirect".

Tough, but mostly fair.

leftcoastTAM 4:26 PM  

Overwhelmed by PPPs starting in the North. Things got better in the South

Worst answers:



MALALA, but unfortunately missed her, too.

Unknown 4:42 PM  

Can someone explain the ATARI clue -- "Company that once had tremendous 'quarterly' profits"? I remember the video game company but don't get the "quarterly" reference.

Diana, LIW 5:19 PM  

Mixed feelings about this - agree somewhat with @Rex.

And pretty much what @Lefty said...

Lady Di

spacecraft 5:45 PM  

You fed the machine with quarters (groan).

thefogman 5:57 PM  

DNF. Guessed wrong for the Natick at ROALD/RAPINOE. I had an E instead of an O. Tough one for me. Oh CMON! I had CAtPAINT for 14A. Next!

centralscrewtinizer 8:57 PM  

NW, SW, just a mess.

Michael Leddy 11:38 AM  

Solving in syndication, six weeks after the fact. But I still have to say it: this is one lousy puzzle. Making light of anti-vaccination idiots — ugh. Making light of French fascists — ugh. And GIMP — UGH. (Even thinking of "hobble" as a noun is a bit of a stretch.)

I've never constructed, but I thought right away of LANA and AIL as a way around GIMP (as the first commenter did). My first thought for "Ones not calling the shots": TEETOTALERS.

I'm happy not to be paying for this puzzle anymore.

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