Football franchise since 1899 / SAT 2-2-19 / Magnetic intensity unit named after Danish physicist / Island formed by two shield volcanoes / Main ingredient in lechazo / Longtime TV curmudgeon

Saturday, February 2, 2019

Constructor: David Steinberg

Relative difficulty: Challenging (9:51)

THEME: none

Word of the Day: OERSTED (33A: Magnetic intensity unit named after a Danish physicist) —
Hans Christian Ørsted (/ˈɜːrstɛd/Danish: [hans kʁæsdjan ˈɶɐ̯sdɛð]; often rendered Oersted in English; 14 August 1777 – 9 March 1851) was a Danish physicist and chemist who discovered that electric currents create magnetic fields, which was the first connection found between electricity and magnetismOersted's law and the oersted (Oe) are named after him.
A leader of the Danish Golden Age, Ørsted was a close friend of Hans Christian Andersen and the brother of politician and jurist Anders Sandøe Ørsted, who served as Prime Minister of Denmark from 1853 to 1854. (wikipedia)
• • •

It remains unfathomable to me that the editors of this puzzle continue to troll their audience with racial provocation. I don't know what else to call it. Fine, you didn't know BEANER was a slur—except you did, you were told, explicitly, before it went to print, and you didn't care—there was a dust-up, the whole incident went through the media wringer, you issued a nominal apology, everyone still loves their crossword, life goes on. But apparently it goes on in quite the same fashion. It's hard not to see today's 4D: Raiding grp. (I.C.E.) as anything but a middle finger to every single person who dared complain about BEANER. There is no branch of law enforcement more despised in this country than I.C.E., none more specifically associated with the brutalization of immigrants and refugees, the tearing apart of families. You know what I.C.E. is, you know what it means to people, you know the anger and sadness its very existence provokes in people. And more importantly—and this is where "unfathomable" comes in—you have about, give or take, plus or minus, roughly 7000 JILLION DIFFERENT WAYS YOU CAN CLUE "ICE". It's ... a common word. Or, it's a name part. Here: [Vanilla ___].

You have to be impossibly tone-deaf or literally malicious to choose—choose!—the acronym here. Constructors don't usually opt for the acronym or initialism when they've got an ordinary word on their hands. I can think of exceptions, like N.O.W. But N.O.W. never boarded your Greyhound and demanded to see your papers, as far as I know. And so we have this pretty decent, very challenging puzzle, full of many things worth discussing, but all those things are overshadowed by I.C.E. And to use the clue to *emphasize* the trauma of "raiding," my god. And maybe you think, "it's an agency, it exists, it's a neutral term, fair game!" You can think that. You can take it that way. But the obvious point here is thousands and thousands and thousands of solvers won't take it that way. They won't take it that way at all. The presence of I.C.E. in this puzzle will seriously diminish or completely eliminate whatever pleasure people were experiencing while solving (if they bother finishing solving at all):

So, the other things in the puzzle—this was very hard, but in a mostly enjoyable way. I don't usually like puzzles that get their difficulty primarily from names, which this one sure did, but I did appreciate getting a real work-out on a Saturday, and some of the fill was entertaining ("OH, IT'S ON!"). Still, names, man. OERSTED was the one that really destroyed me, as somehow I have never heard of him (or forgot about him), and he's sitting right at the gateway between one quadrant and another. Brutal. Especially crossing MOSCATO, which, like SAMBUCA, is not exactly among your first tier of familiar alcoholic beverage names. ACMILAN, brutal (1A: Football franchise since 1899); NOXZEMA, probably rough for some (rough for me because Yet Again I spelled it NOCZEMA). APPLEID, ruthless (I had APP CODE) (37A: Requirement for some downloads). Got my first toehold, not surprisingly, in the least name-y part of the grid: the SW. I went PRIES PREPARE PENS APE and knew I finally had traction.  But since three of those four gateway-Acrosses—the answers that seal off the quadrants, i.e. SAMBUCA OERSTED APPLEID TOWARDS—were opaque to me, I never got any kind of momentum or flow. Bottom half not too tough, but middle and top were a train wreck. Had SORT for HIRE (10D: Find a position for) and so had --S-UCK for 8A: Dummy ... you don't even wanna know some of the answers I was entertaining. Literally none of them were plausible or even printable here. Weirdly, the "R" from the wrong SORT was actually right, and helped me get PARABLE, which (eventually) really helped me get the rest of the top, so hurray for wrong answers sometimes. I hope you enjoyed the struggle, and I hope I never see I.C.E. in my puzzle, or anywhere, ever again, thank you.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Anonymous 8:07 AM  

Totally agree on I.C.E. Especially with myriad alternatives.

I.C.E. as clued = gratuitous.

— Jim C. in Maine

Anonymous 8:09 AM  

I hope am not the only one who struggled with this as I put sadsack for schmuck. Misery loves company.

poslfit 8:17 AM  

I wasn't a SADSACK or SCHMUCK, but felt like a SCHNOOK.

mooretep 8:18 AM  

Rarely post here because I usually finish the puzzle at work, with colleagues, in a group solve.

Saturdays and Sundays are another story as I start them around 7:00 am.

Get the NYTs delivered on Sunday. I am old and love sitting down and feeling the papyrus and slowly digest the news rather than clicking and scrolling. Sundays are sacred days.

That being said:

Loved the AC Milan clue as a starter. In American Football, only maybe one or two players actually have their feet touch the ball. For all others, it is a penalty.

Oersted may be tough for many, but as an engineer turned physics teacher, it was a gimme.
Not necessarily a Natick. Glad to see him as the Word of the day.
Demonstrated that spooky forces at a distance were a thing when he passed a compass through a coil of wire could cause a compass to change its orientation near wires that were connected to said spool far away.
Rather ERUDITE, but that is why you can read these comments today.

Enjoyed the Kitty Cat clues in this and yesterdays puzzle. Cats and Apes and Bears, Oh My!

Lewis 8:21 AM  

As a libra who loves balance, this grid design put me in a zen state.

The puzzles this week through yesterday seemed relatively easy. Now I know why. Today for me was a scratch and claw. The kind I love.

David proves that you don't need contemporary/hip answers to make a first class puzzle. The answers today are fairly ordinary overall. But the cluing! I thought David put on a clinic here, mixing Saturday-level vague clues as well as his signature wordplay clues (ROAD HOG, SHIN, DATASET, RANCHES, COLD ONE) to elevate this puzzle to top tier.

David burst onto the scene in 2011, a teen whose puzzles were entertaining and clever, and rambling wildly all over the place like a puppy. Shift to vintage 2019, where the puzzles are still entertaining and clever, but -- the best word I can think of here is -- wiser. When crosswords has its Hall of Fame, David, you have a reserved spot.

Anonymous 8:22 AM  

I have necked and I have spooned. They are not synonyms.

poslfit 8:22 AM  

As a competitive Scrabble player (and editor of the tournament lexicon), I find the seven-letter words the easiest to place, so CHIMERA MINICAM BIZARRE KNEADED OERSTED SAMBUCA ERUDITE went in right away. The proper nouns and phrases took a lot longer, so NOXZEMA (not NOCZEMA, sigh), CINEMAX, DATA SET, USB PORT, COLD ONE, PINE NUT, AC MILAN all game me trouble.

Gil Lowe 8:25 AM  

Rex I’m fairly new to your blog...and I have to say I love reading both your review and related commentary. You confirmed for me today I wasn’t just seeing problems where non existed with ICE. Major WTF!?! Thanks for your hard work!

mooretep 8:25 AM  

Not sure if I have submitted my comment too many times.

The "I am not a Robot" quiz is fun the first two times, but after that, I wonder if I am guilty of the multiple repetitive posts that I sometimes find on forums.

Oops, the quiz just popped up again.

Why I stay away from posting, besides the fact that I usually finish the puzzles later in the day.

Loren, as a fellow teacher, you are my Spirit Animal.
So many of your anecdotes resonate with me.

abalani500 8:25 AM  

Whenever I finish a Friday or Saturday puzzle, I expect to come here to be told how ridiculously easy it was. So it is with great pride I had a record Saturday with a puzzle deemed “challenging”. Hurrah! While I am not one to get offended with entries in a puzzle myself, it is so obviously, clearly, and inexplicably tone deaf to clue ICE as it was. Hard to think of any reason other than the editors flipping off the audience right before mooning them. So silly, so unnecessary and so...stupid. Why purposefully distract from a great puzzle (great because I finished in record time...did I mention that??). So, Shortz is a SCHMUCK (as clued), and I am going to go enjoy some LAMB at dinner, and finish with some SAMBUCA over ICE (not as clued).

Anonymous 8:32 AM  

In Yiddish, schmuck means penis

John Morrison 8:36 AM  

Vaporub also comes in a cobalt blue jar. Jarring.

QuasiMojo 8:43 AM  

I enjoy David’s insouciance. But sometimes he seems to veer towards the sophomoric. Schmuck is considered an obscenity. I have no qualms with people using it in conversation but it seems beneath the traditional standards of the Old Gray Lady. And I can’t help wondering if Oh It’s On was chosen because it is one letter away from another phrase “-hit’s on”?

What’s up with the clue for Soprano? A soprano can sometimes end on a low note (in context of his or her music) especially a mezzo. The clue is trying too hard to be clever but it makes no sense.

Pens as a hotel freebie? You have to be pretty desperate to take one of those. Take the scented soap next time!

Also what could be more natural than salt? Sea salt is not any more “natural.”

The phrase “gay apparel” as far as I know is used once in the history of language as part of an insipid Christmas carol. The clue should have indicated that with gay in quotes followed by three dots.

Or am I just being Dr. House? Whoever that is.

pabloinnh 8:43 AM  

Yeah, boo to ICE. I would take an M&A moo-cow easy "frozen water" clue over what we got.

OERSTED showed up from somewhere in the brain attic, but I spelled it Oerstad, which made COLDONE invisible for a long time. Nice repetition of the misleading "football" clues for ACMILAN and SHIN guard. I would say "futbol" but the Brits use the term as clued so OK I guess.

Just right for a Saturday, Mr. Steinberg seldom disappoints.

TaTa 8:48 AM  

It's really too bad you can't block some posters in the comments section...

I found today's puzzle to be pretty typical DS...tortured cluing and remote names/words that seem to be gleaned from a data set. It isn't any one clue/word/name in particular, it's the entire compilation of them.

As for ICE, to all the posters who are going to defend the clue, I'll just preemptively say that the bull shite going on in the right is VERY different than anything the left has done over the last several years (maybe even least post-Reagan). Lines have been crossed, and lines you didn't think could get crossed...get crossed...over and over and over again. There is no equivalence between the two.

The supporters of the likes of ICE are complicit in this administration and in this current incarnation of the GOP. The "witch" hunt has turned up a lot of witches. DJT himself has been implicated (Individual-1), so no longer can "well you haven't found anything yet!" work as an excuse.

For WS to continue to pander and validate this crap is to further cement my decision to cancel my subscription and not return until he is gone.

It's time people of all stripes collectively say, "No!" to this rot. And no amount of positivism and "it's just a puzzle, chill out" garbage changes the reality of the situation we ALL find ourselves in. These puzzles are often artistic expressions that reflect our current world. They need to be understood as comments on our world...not just pleasant little divertissements that have nothing to do with reality.

Madonna 8:50 AM  

Rex lives in a small college town in Upstate New York.

He complains about BEANERS and ICE.


Loren Muse Smith 8:50 AM  

What a beaut from David today. Loved this. Didn’t occur to me to be enraged at the ICE clue, but point well taken.

First two gimmes were AC MILAN and OERSTED. I lived in Milan while getting my PhD in electromagnetic engineering at the Politecnico di Milano. Good times. Lots of MOSCATO.

“Miralax” then “Miramax” before CINEMAX. Yeah. The first one was dumb, but I was distracted by the news.

“Three Rs” before THE ABCS.

I gave the plural KIBBLES the side eye ‘cause it feels like oxygens or happinesses, but then I realized it has commercial immunity.

Misread the clue for 12D as “Place to get weird.” Where do you even start with a gem like that? Where would be a place to get weird? I guess for me, it’d be at my house when it’s only me. The weird part involves my sleeping habits. Or lack thereof. If my husband or kids are home, I lie there and stare at the ceiling and suffer so I won’t be judged (even though they absolutely wouldn’t but it’s still embarrassing and I’m self-conscious and just want to be normal but can’t figure this out). Left alone, though, and buddy, all bets are off. In bed at 6pm up for the day at 11:30pm.

“Enthusiastic greeting” – BEAR HUG, sure, if you haven’t seen someone in a while. Even for me, the “hon-hugger” person. This is acceptable, fine. On a side note, have you ever noticed how the pitch for a woman’s greeting voice goes up in direct proportion to the amount of time that’s gone by in between meetings?

At the local Foodland, you run into a coworker. . .

. . .after work: Oh hey! – lowish pitch
. . .who has been out with the flu for a week: Oh hey! - higher pitch
. . .who now works at another school and you haven’t seen her for 6 months: Oh hey! - even higher pitch
. . .who you haven’t seen for 6 years – Oh hey! - pretty much sounds like you’ve inhaled helium

So of course I have to wonder about the Maasai woman. Does her voice do this, too, when she runs into an old friend? I know there has to be an anthropologist or sociologist out there reading this who could email me with the answer. (Doesn’t have to be Maasai – just any culture that’s vastly different from our own. Maybe the Huaorani, Kazakhs, Makushi – I’m not a tribe snob.) Nerol2 at msn. I’m waiting, K? Thanks.

@John Morrison – “jarring” – good one. Nivea also comes in cobalt; jaready realize that, too?

@mooretep – thanks, man. You should comment more often. Since you have a blue name, you shouldn’t have to do the captcha cha cha. Try skipping it and see if it’ll go through.

David – those four interlocking 7 parties in each corner are terrific. Toss in THE ABCS, SEA SALT, BIZARRE, NOXZEMA, and the KNEAD/PDA cross. . . this is a winner.

JJ 8:57 AM  

I totally agree with your assessment. He is so clever, and his puzzles demonstrate an unbelievable breadth of knowledge at such a young age.

Wm. C. 9:04 AM  

At the risk of condemnation to follow, let me say ...

Well, our ultra-lib fearless leader goes on and on and on and ON with his resentments about ICE. I'm not sure whether he thinks it shouldn't exist (open borders, why not?), or whether it sometimes misbehaves in its treatment of illegals (gee, the cops sometimes do that, so let's eliminate them, right?)

BarbieBarbie 9:09 AM  

Anon@822, in modern usage “spoon” is not “neck.” But go back to whenever the lyrics to “Shine On, Harvest Moon” were written, and you will see the equivalence.”snow time ain’t no time to sit outdoors and spoon...”

MickMcMick 9:11 AM  

I actually flew through the lower half, aided by the fact that my Apple ID has been a problem since jump street. I knew Chicago and that a football club that old had to be soccer, so the NW fell into place. I hit a wall in the NE. Oh it’s on? Sounds like something from a commercial, plus new to seemed like better English than new at. But being a schmuck sometimes myself I got through. Steinberg always challenges! Great Saturday!

puzzlehoarder 9:13 AM  

This was one of your better late week solves. It took me 14 minutes longer than yesterday's. HIRE and PARABLE gave me my start and it was steady work from the NE corner down the east side.

STIEG and HOUSE we're the names that stymied my entry to the SE corner. I just went back to the north center and started on the NW corner. That was the one section that solved quickly. Coming around the NW corner 1,2 and 3D all dropped right in. To top that off I spelled SAMBUCA correctly on first try.

Coming into the SW I managed to stymie myself again by putting PREPPED in at 38D. Having APE and PRIES in place only reinforced the error. I was convinced 39D had to be PIMENTO. I have no idea what that nasty tasting red stuff is in those green olives but for all I know it could be made from seeds. Hotels don't give you anything that ends with an M so I wasted a great deal of time trying to make sense of 49A. While I somehow had figured out that37A had to be APPLEID (whatever that is) my spelling was too weak to confirm APPAREL for 37D and open up the SW.

Once again I just restarted elsewhere. SEASALT at 54A opened up the south tier and gave me the leverage to fill in, first the SE corner and then correctly back fill the SW.

It was only after finishing that I took the time to notice how clean the puzzle was and the high quality of the 7s in all four corners.

As for this ICE controversy I have to admit I was a bit put off by being reminded of what they are currently doing. I expected the answer to be ATF or DEA. This was the only speed bump in that NW corner and it wasn't much. Raids ate part of ICE's duty like it or not. There's plenty of good reasons to be angry over how ICE is currently being used but directing that anger at the NYT is a waste of energy. When 2020 rolls around direct it where it belongs.

RJ 9:14 AM  

I've started solving on paper because I found, when I needed to do a paper puzzle, it seemed more difficult. Has anyone else experienced this? Thanks in advance for your comments.

TomAz 9:15 AM  

I'm very much of two minds on Rex's Righteous Indignation of the Week (RRIW). ICE has been around a lot longer than Trump; the family separation crap I see as Trump's doing and not necessarily ICE's. ICE does lots of other useful stuff other than immigration enforcement. But, on the other hand, family separation -- an unequivocal national disgrace -- is strongly linked in the public's mind with ICE; so much so that I expect the next rational president we get (fingers crossed) will re-organize and rename ICE.

While I was solving, it didn't even occur to me to think about ICE much at all. It was a short answer and it fell in easily (for which I was grateful, in this bear of a puzzle) and I didn't give it a second thought. But... BUT.. it's not my job to notice something like this; it's Will's. And Rex is right, after BEANER a while back, you'd think Will would have had his antennae up.

As for the rest of the puzzle -- it was hard. I was trying to think of an NFL team that could claim origins in 1899. Even after solving 16A I still couldn't figure out what it was.. I was parsing it O HIT SON. I wanted NOXZEMA at 7D but I thought it didn't fit because I forgot it had that Z in there. And that's just the first two lines of the puzzle! The list goes on..

Didn't know OERSTED. Never heard of CAT POSE as a thing but google shows me it clearly is. I did get MOSCATO and SAMBUCA pretty easily which I guess shows where my priorities are.

mooretep 9:18 AM  

Oops, meant to say MAGNET, rather than compass.

Demonstrated that spooky forces at a distance were a thing when he passed a through a coil of wire could cause a compass to change its orientation near wires that were connected to said spool far away.

Amy Yanni 9:20 AM  

Really a shame to muddy a classy effort like this with nasty and (as our 1st poster, Jim C so aptly observed) gratuitous cluing.

jack mutzabaugh 9:21 AM  

A rare easy puzzle from Steinberg

Blue Stater 9:29 AM  

I know I say this a lot, but WS keeps lowering the bar. For me this was the worst puzzle I can remember -- full of mistakes and absurd obscurities (OERSTED, OHITSON, and on and on), with yet further evidence of the editor's tin ear (ICE), as OFL has pointed out in detail. I keep thinking these puzzles can't get worse -- and they get worse, much worse.

Anonymous 9:31 AM  

This puzzle has way too many problems. It was a challenge not because it was difficult or clever or tricky but because of what are inaccurate clues really. AC MILAN does not play football . They play soccer. This is America not Europe. If you want to use ACMILAN, then the clue is European powerhouse established in 1899. There. Not so difficult. And then again at 54D the clue is "One guarded in football". No. Soccer players use shin guards, but football players only occasionally use them. This is totally bogus.

And then there is SCHMUCK (a word which should not even be allowed to be printed) . Schmuckler as we all should know is German for jeweler . That has evolved over time to the Yiddish definition which is penis, NOT dummy. A dummy is a SCHNOOK. But a schmuck is how I would characterize the dummy who used this clue in this way in a Saturday Times puzzle.

Teedmn 9:32 AM  

I was thinking of NOXZEMA and its relationship to ecZEMA this morning while brushing my teeth. Ten minutes later I read the clue for 7D and thought, "BIZARRE!" And that is where I got my start this morning.

I was surprised to see my time was just short of 24 minutes - it seemed much easier than that but I got hung up in the SW. 37A was ___LEI_ and 40D was _ATA___. I was convinced 40D was going to be some sort of ethics word. Obviously, with _ATA___, it was going to be related to an Eastern philosophy and it was totally beyond my ken. When I finally got APPLE ID, DATA SET gave me a chuckle.

I bared my teeth at the I.C.E. answer but wasn't expecting the OHITSON STORM from Rex. I understand, though. It's not just raids either. Chilling.

I was just about to ask if anyone else found the clue for 1D head-scratching when I read it for the 3rd time and finally saw how it could 'work'.

David, another fine Saturday.

Seth 9:36 AM  

Wm. C. I think the point is that, regardless of how you feel about I.C.E., it's a fact that it carries with it a very negative, racist, hurtful connotation right now. Rex is saying that, for many people, the idea of I.C.E. is very scary and very threatening to their simple right to live at peace. Why should a word that is so so so easily clued another way be clued with this heavy connotation?

Ann Marie 10:02 AM  

The men and women of I.C.E. have a very difficult job to do and do it well and would rather not be slandered by some guy in his ivory tower.

A.M. 10:05 AM  

Sorry, libeled. Always mix those up.

ArtO 10:09 AM  

To finish a Saturday with a "challenging" rating is just about as rare for me as finding OERSTED in a puzzle. While the I.C.E. objection is totally legitimate...especially given the possible cluing options, I'm amazed that OFL raised not a finger (or word) about SCHMUCK which is about as bad as it gets. As already noted, it means penis in yiddish and is a low class slur. Why would you put that in a NYT crossword??

Joe Dipinto 10:15 AM  

Not the most erudite effort. Crude juvenility like 8a always seems to make an appearance in Steinberg's puzzles. But it did make me want to listen to some Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen bass solos. While reading Stieg Larsson. I wonder if they knew each other. All Scandinavians know each other, right?

GILL I. 10:15 AM  

Oy...Why did I toy with RUTGERS at 1A. I remember reading somewhere that they and Princeton were the first of the first in football games. I'm glad I didn't pen it in. I knew lechazo was LAMB. I didn't understand why it was clued as the main ingredient. Lechazo mean suckling LAMB. What other ingredient is there?
Let's see....Hmmm where did I even begin? Oh, LAMB, of course, then I did my usual stare fest on Sat. The absolute hardest entries for me were all the 3 letter clues and answers. ICE EMI PDA DOD RPG. I finally got ICE from CHICAGO and did my wince dance at the clue. Yeah, Raiding grp.? Yikes. SCHMUCK is penis? Wow, I learn something new every day.
Two drinks: SAMBUCA and MOSCATO made me smile because I have a Phd in Sommelier from Universita degli Studi di MILANo. I bet @Loren and I even sat across from each other at Tipotas- drinks in hand.
I got OERSTED but I didn't know him. Love BEAR HUG because I do know him. He's my future son-in-law. Is SMUTTED a word? That's what I initially had for 44D. Change comes with consequences.
Today I used the Goog. Not ashamed of it. The three letter entries got me good. I really loved this puzzle. I learned how to correctly spell BIZARRE and NOXZEMA . I am now BORNE again. Thank you, David.

@mericans in Paris 10:19 AM  

Not much to add to today's comments. Mrs. @mericans and I did this together (that is to say, as a tag team), and finished without any Googles in a bit shorter than usual time. SAMBUCA is a bit more common on this side of the Atlantic, so that went in pretty easily. Don't know why TOWARDS was difficult for some; pretty common word. We got Apple ID after a few crosses because -- well, we both have iPhones. But OERSTED we could only get from the crosses.

Note to beginners: if a question relates to recordings, and the answer is three letters, chances are its EMI. Similarly, if the clue is about a type of music, and the answer is three letters, chances are its EMO. If not that, then SKA.

I agree with others that spoon and NECK are equivalent only if you go back in time. And, to me, SCHMUCK doesn't mean "dummy", but rather more "loser" or "prick". In Germany SCHMUCK means "jewellery". Walk around the downtown of any sizeable German town and you will see plenty of stores with SCHMUCK displayed in big, bold letters.

I slotted in APPAREL knowing the Christmas carol, but what's American APPAREL? Sounds like green paint.

Hey @chefwen -- I forget: can you see OAHU from your back yard?

thursdaysd 10:23 AM  

Well.... I was expecting Rex to get upset over SCHMUCK, and instead it is ICE. I am a (legal) immigrant, and before I became a naturalized citizen I had several interactions with INS, the predecessor agency. I found them amazingly obstructionist and annoying, and both of my American husbands (serially, no bigamy involved) went ballistic over their behaviour. However, I hadn't even noticed ICE was in the grid until I read Rex's blog, as I got those squares from the crosses, and now it has been pointed out I can't say I feel in any way upset.

burtonkd 10:25 AM  

@quasi Thanks for the mention of the carol. I couldn’t place why apparel was gay

Kalisah 10:28 AM  

is the author British? Because both “football” clues actually referenced soccer.

Anonymous 10:30 AM  

Finally fed up with you using this blog as your political soapbox. Done reading and donating to it. Oh, and for the record, I’m extremely liberal on the immigration issue.

Crimson Devil 10:37 AM  

Painful to be reminded of just how limited I am/have been. No less than 10 unknowns .
Did like passing concern and Bud to chill with.
Crosses can fill only so many voids.

TubaDon 10:37 AM  

Casting around for places to start, I had my AHA moment at OERSTED (not a modern magnetic unit) and worked up by way of COLD ONE, then across with PARABLE and BIZARRE. CHIMERA and SAMBUCA got me into the SW. Had the hardest time in the SE, but ROADHOG finally gave me CAT POSE (is that a thing?) and I was done. Aced a challenging puzzle at last!

Anonymous 10:40 AM  

David Steinberg is Will's buddy. Doesn't matter what words are in puzzle, he will get published.

Will is truly getting more tone deaf as the months and years go by. I know he's retirement age, just give it up, buddy, and hand over the reins to one of your young friends. Then you can submit some puzzles yourself.

Anonymous 10:42 AM  

If you are going to correct the puzzle, at least be correct. Using football to mean soccer: It’s called a misdirect. In America,our first thought is the nfl. Very few people would not know that football is soccer in the entire rest of the world, so totally legitimate clueing. It worked as I put in chin strap first. We could also sit and debate understandings of schmuck, but commonly understood in the dummy realm...

mmorgan 10:42 AM  

My only problem with Rex’s extended critique of I.C.E. is that it is sure enflame the trolls who will rant about libtards and open borders and crime and drugs and other manufactured straw issues.

Otherwise... good, tough puzzle, with many write overs for me, until it finally came together. I resisted SCHMUCK for a long time (I had SCHNOOK), because to me it means more of an obnoxious, offensive jerk than merely a “dummy,” although it is easy to imagine someone being both.

Nancy 10:45 AM  

Oh, what a SCHMUCK I am. (I thought I was a SCHNOOK, but that, at least, I managed to straighten out without cheating. A little Yiddish is a dangerous thing, as they say. Or don't say.)

No -- it was SLEET instead of STORM at 48A that forced me to cheat in the SE. If I'd only had STORM...but I didn't. I was so sure that 26D was MOSCALA (I must have been thinking of MESCAL). So I went to check it. But when I typed into Google: "Italian white wine MOSCA," out came MOSCATO. And whooosh: in came STORM and DR HOUSE and OAHU and SMUDGED and CAT POSE and DOD. I finished all that had stymied me in less than 15 seconds. But, still, I cheated. So, sadly, a DNF.

Here's a Steinberg I loved. No pop culture today. Very few non-knowable names. Just a very, very crunchy puzzle that needed all of my gray cells to [almost] solve. A terrific Saturday.

Joe Dipinto 10:46 AM  

@mericans -- American Apparel is a clothing store chain here similar to The Gap or Banana Republic.

Joaquin 10:47 AM  

I was astonished to find a constructor named Steinberg would clue SCHMUCK as "Dummy". While it is (sometimes) used that way, the typical (and more correct) usage is as a substitute for "dick". Definitely not a word to use in the company of anyone's Yiddish-speaking grandparents.

ghostoflectricity 10:48 AM  

"ICE" was over the line. BTW "schmuck" is one of many mildly vulgar Yiddishisms for the male organ (along with "schmeckle," "putz," "schlong," etc.), and when you call somebody one of those terms, you are usually not referring to her/his/their intelligence (or lack thereof) but to rather to her/his/their unpleasantness of personality, analogous to similar terms in English (BTW, why do we never get "dick" clued that way in the NYT crossword? Why is it Ok to use Yiddishisms? Just asking, given that the NYT has several timely articles about anti-Semitism in today's edition, and a review of scholar Deborah Lipstadt's timely book on the subject in tomorrow's Book Review). Agree strongly that "Moscato" (which I had never heard of before but got from the crosses) and "Sambuca" (which I initially spelled with an "o" at the end) are unconscionably obscure. Hugh Laurie's iconic TV sourpuss is usually referred to as "House" and the honorific is only there because the constructor needed it to complete the fill as the NYT crossword continues to descend to Trumpian levels of anti-intellectualism, poor quality, and utter malarkey.

Anonymous 10:48 AM  

Why is pda answer for “Evoker of dirty looks, maybe, in brief”?
Why is cds answer for “Tower stack”?
They make no sense. That’s what should be addressed, not opinions.

Roo Monster 10:53 AM  

Hey All !
This was a kinda BIZARRE puz for me. Tough clues, lots of "third definition" type clues.

THEABCS grates a bit. CATPOSE kind of odd, too. Although it seems like it would be a sexy pose.

It was a nicely filled puz, no dreck. Agree that ICE should've been clued differently. Celebrities, there's ICE T, ICE Cube, Vanilla ICE. Or Frozen cubes. Or Rocks. Or Diamonds. Or Greenland covering, Antarctica covering, Polar Vortex covering.
Just sayin'.

BTW, Happy Groundhog Day!! Phil didn't see his shadow! That means Early Spring! Cross your fingers.

DOOK-ies SEETO & NEWAT. And, no F's. Poor guys.


Ellen S 10:55 AM  

I’m with @Rex and relieved that most posters here agree with his condemnation of ICE as clued. I’m ashamed for having worried.

I guess the NYT thinks they’re being modern and hip by allowing SCHMUCK in the puzzle (even if misclued: as pointed out, it doesn’t mean dummy - some dummies are SCHMUCKs but not all SCHMUCKs are dummies). @David Steinberg over at Xwordinfo says it has been used in articles in the paper previously. So, speaking of the Newspaper of Record, I recently read (I’ll post a link if I can find it) an article comprehensively condemning the NYT for perpetuating racial stereotypes, and therefore facilitating the persistence of white supremacy in this country. Things like, when there are articles about poor people, showing pictures of Black people, even though there are actually more white people living in poverty in this country. What that accomplishes is to cement the association of “poor” and “Black” and undercut public support for programs that would benefit all people of lower income, from welfare to Head Start, but would disproportionally benefit poor people of color.

Anyway, as Mrs. Lincoln said, aside from that I liked the play.

OMG - my iPad is having trouble connecting to the reCAPTCHA. Don’t know if I’ll be able to post this. But I might say here, I usually only have to check the box that says I’m not a robot; I don’t have to pass the quiz.

jberg 10:59 AM  

I loved the puzzle -- whenever I put in a less than desirable entry, like "viabLE ID" it turned out to be wrong. I guess a truly up-to-date answer would have been "fingerprint," but maybe this was accepted a couple years ago.

I didn't know what "lechazo" was, and thought hmmm, leche? Lech - azo?' so I wanted 5D to be 'milk'. Didn't put it in, but it held me up until other crosses confirmed that 15A was CHICAGO, not St. Louis. Took too long, I couldn't think of any four-letter words ending with B. It was making me crabby.

Unlike @Quasi, I loved "gay APPAREL" neatly reminding us that 'gay' has an older meaning. That's the essence of a good puzzle, for me. Since, as mentioned above, I had 'viabLE ID' I actually wrote in 'veteRan' first. I mean, you could use it and get intelligible phrases, but it's hardly crossworthy.

OK, ICE. I can see the point, but my initial reaction, before coming here, is that a "raiding organization" is not a pleasant thing. If we can use "African tyrant" to clue AMIN, then raiding organization for ICE, (or VIKINGS, but they weren't very organized" seemed OK. I'd have reacted differently if the clue were "border protectors."

I used to do CAT POSE as part of my morning physical therapy exercises; but then I developed sciatica, and my Dr. told me to do the "cat and cow" instead. BIZARREly, this kept me from seeing the right answer until I had most of the crosses.

But my biggest problem was being absolutely convinced that 16A was Ok, IT'S ON! -- the one instance where my wrong answer still seems more idiomatic than the right one.

Lynx 11:01 AM  

Interesting to learn the negative connotation of SCHMUCK, I hadn't realized it was so offensive (and not a word I use or run across often so took me forever to get). I had known it meant 'jewelry' in German, and as an English speaker thought it was a shame they were stuck with such an ugly word for pretty things.

Anonymous 11:03 AM  

I'm going to suggest an alternative to the ICE clue, that I hope is more palatable to the white people on this blog.

I will start by saying that I agree that the other term should never have been included in this puzzle. I also in NO WAY support or condone ICE's policies or acts.

But honestly, I think ICE in this puzzle serves as a reminder for complacent white people who don't have to deal with the realities of ICE raids, that they are very much a thing that is still happening. It may be tough to see, but it's a lot harder for the people whose homes and lives are being raided. And I think we could all do with the reminder, wherever it is possible, that this is very much a reality of the DJT presidency for millions of people who might NOT be solving the NYT crossword puzzle.

I don't support ICE in the slightest, but I think a lot of white people live in a sheltered place away from the effects of ICE. Is it hard to be reminded that these terrible things are happening? Yes, but it's even harder to live through these raids, and we owe it to the people who experience that to remember what they're going through. If that means our crossword has a clue that's a little tough to stomach, that's fine by me.

mmorgan 11:04 AM  

@ghostofelectricity: just FYI, that show was actually called “Dr. House” in many other countries.

JC66 11:05 AM  

Yes, ICE should have been clued differently.

Yes, SCMUCK is vulgar, not hip or modern.

@ANON 10:48

PDA = Public Display of Affection, so might evoke dirty looks (get a room!)

Tower Records sold CDs (displayed in stacks.

Anonymous 11:12 AM  

Rex, a wise man (answer is at the end of the quote) once said the following:
“Liberals claim to want to give a hearing to other views, but then are shocked and offended to discover that there are other views.” ― William F. Buckley
If you don't like ICE, then how do you propose the government protect the border. I'm guessing you couldn't perform their job half as well.

Nancy 11:15 AM  

@Quasi (8:43) -- I had the same reaction to the SOPRANO clue that you did. They often end on a (for them) low note. When the answer finally came in, I was annoyed because I didn't think it was fair or accurate.

However, the operative words are "for them". For me, an Alto, every damn thing they sing is either very high or even higher than that. I talked the "Broadway at the Y Chorus" into letting me sing as a Second Soprano because I thought I'd get something resembling melody for my part. No such luck. Unless you're a Soprano, you don't get melody. Ever. And when you don't read music, having to learn an unfamiliar part in a very familiar song is a real problem.

We were working on "Biding My Time" -- in which the Second Soprano part seemed like melodic gibberish to me. And so I wrote this spoof to its melody for the benefit of our chorus director, Neil:

I'm singing the high note.
Even when it's not MY note!
It's all I hear, Neil,
Got no ear, Neil,
Warblin' at the Y.

Next song, next song,
Melody's a-coming.
This song, this song --
What's this crap I'm humming???

For I'm craving the pure note,
Even when it is YOUR note.
Can't quite reach it?
Then I'll screech it --
Warblin' at the Y.

(It goes on, believe it or not, but I'll stop now, mercifully.)

Outside The Box 11:22 AM  

With you! First I had schnook then saw that wouldn’t work so changed it to schmuck.

But schmuck really means something slightly different than dummy. Schnook is a better answer as it is closer to what dummy means.

Sir Hillary 11:25 AM  

While the four-way symmetry and open corners look pretty, I just don't get much enjoyment from a themeless with a maximum seven-letter word length. The seven-letter entries (exactly half of this puzzle's words) had better be, for the most part, superextraultraüberawesome, and these are not. Yeah sure, some are nice and Scrabbly, but none of them really popped for me.

BIZARRE that we have two entries clued as being related to football, which we call soccer here. So do we need to specify that tomorrow's game is for the professional championship of American football?

SCHMUCK really took me aback. The clue for ICE less so, but @Rex makes a good point. It's unnecessary at best and the editor's middle finger at worst.

The one thing I liked about this puzzle is that it was definitely Saturday-hard. But it wasn't much more than that.

Anonymous 11:27 AM  

Joaquin and anon 844 (maybe some others) are dead right. Schmuck is really quite vulgar.
No problem with ice.
The real problem is clueing football for soccer. I know its popular in some circles to use the term football, but really, its way too cute. And wrong. Football in American English simply doesnt mean soccer. Why not translate the Italian word to E1nglish, ya know, soccer? Just because the word exists in two languages doesnt mean its interchangeable.
Mr. STEINBERG, is the 54 down clue referring to soccer or football?

Bob Knuts 11:28 AM  

I agree that the "raiding grp" part of the clue evoked painful scenes of desperation. But ICE as "most-despised"? As a former Federal government employee, maybe I'm too sensitive but that kind of blanket smear is really uncalled-for. ICE does a lot of very important, amazing work that should be recognized even if (like me) you think the current admin's policy re border security is truly un-American. Check out all that they do:

Get A Clue 11:28 AM  

If the intent were to glorify the mission of ICE, it would not be to refer to it as a raiding group. It is the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. To boil it down to "raiding agency" shows a bias if towards anything a disdain for what ICE does.

As well, used by a constructor who is a student at Stanford, located in the most liberal pocket of the most liberal state, the uninformed right coast temper tantrum is really digging to find something to complain about.

California alone has stood consistently against this administration's most xenophobic actions and directions to ICE.

It remains unfathomable to me why @Rex consistently grabs the knife by the blade at every possible chance he gets.

This puzzle shows a more mature Steinberg, AC Milan aside, and I congratulate him.

Jamie C 11:29 AM  

LET SNOT be snot I say!

Anonymous 11:37 AM  

American Football should be called HandBean. In soccer they actually kick the BALL with the FOOT for the majority of the spectacle.

Why the foaming rant RE: ICE? Are you kidding? It's a totally relevant, current, newsworthy topic. Much more relevant than that white rapper guy who ripped off Bowie.

I think I speak for most of the community when I say that we like your puzzle commentary, but we hate your editor loathing.

Calm Down. Calm. Down. CTFD.

ghostoflectricity 11:58 AM  

In response to several asking why "PDA" is an evoker of dirty looks:

Back in the '90s into the oughts this acronym usually stood for "personal digital assistant," at a time when such devices were distinct from (pre-smart, non-smart) cellphones. For a little over a decade, the primary slang meaning for the acronym PDA has been "public display(s) of affection." People who object to people ostentatiously showing their erotic love for one another often respond to (post-2007-meaning) PDAs with dirty looks or more vehement expressions of disgust or disapproval.

Arden 11:59 AM  

Although I filled in the answer correctly, SCHMUCK is not a dummy. It is a PENIS, literally. And colloquial meaning is more like a-hole. This was one of the reasons Al D’Amato lost his senatorship, calling Chuck Schumer a schmuck. IMHO

Unknown 11:59 AM  

To me, the I.C.E. answer as clued compares to: Tourist destination in Germany—Auschwitz. And, you’re right: Not the first case!

jb129 12:05 PM  

This was difficult. Lots of problems with it but I won't go there since everyone else has.

"Highlights" are done in salons (at least in NYC) - not "accents.

Anonymous 12:06 PM  

Exactly the same solving experience as Rex...except that it took me ten times longer to finish. :-)

Anonymous 12:16 PM  

AC Milan are not a franchise, that concept has not weight for sports teams outside the US, bothersome clue.

Amelia 12:19 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous 12:20 PM  

NYT is obviously assuming that we are all so enamored of the cachet of their crossword that none of us will cancel our subscriptions. And the editors will continue to allow bigotry and indifference as long as that remains true.

smoss11 12:29 PM  

To be completely accurate (and even more vulgar IMO)"schmuck" means foreskin but has come to mean the penis itself. This answer has appeared in the NYT before. I really wish it would disappear as it is truly offensive,

Knitwit 12:33 PM  

This took me about 2 hours, but I did like it! ICE was the last to go in, NW corner a beast starting with a misspelling of a product I’ve used since the 60’s when I was growing up outside of CHICAGO!

Anonymous 12:37 PM  

In the spirit of Leo Rosten, a schmuck is someone who thinks it's OK to use the word schmuck in polite company.

af 12:50 PM  

Talk about being politically correct. You may not like ICE but it's a government agency and the clue was accurate. It's not a racial slur like beaner.

jae 12:54 PM  

Bottom half easyish, top half tough. I’m going with medium-tough. NE was the last to fall. Guessed right at the MOSCATO/OERSTED cross to finish.

dea before ICE slowed down the NW and yes I cringed.

This is what a Sat. should be, liked it a bunch!

Stanley Hudson 12:58 PM  

@ghostofelectricity, PDA for “public display of affection” goes back to at least the 1970s. I’m 61 and remember it used that way in high school.

QuasiMojo 12:59 PM  

For me American Apparel would mean T-shirt and jeans which is what most people wear these days. Even at church or the Opera.

Forgot to add that I first put in D.O.M. for the “dirty looks” clue. Which I suppose makes me one.

@Nancy, loved your lyrics — they always trip off the tongue which sounds like it could mean its opposite but I use it as a compliment. The clue for soprano said nothing about being in a chorus however. A soprano singing a solo would have to sing some notes that are lower than others, especially in an aria where the high C, for example, often comes before the ending, except in parodies of opera. Btw being a first tenor is not unlike being an alto in choirs. The second tenors usually get the melody while we have to trill in the stratosphere.

TJS 1:06 PM  

Usually I like Steinberg puzzles but this time it seems that the cluing just crossed the line into inaccurate, not just misleading.

@lewis, I am frequently amazed by your ability to find the admirable in even substandard puzzles, but your comment today "David proves that you dont need contemporary/hip answers to make a first class puzzle". Yeah, okay, I guess, if you dont count usb port,PDA,Emo,RPG,cds,and Apple ID.

Harryp 1:10 PM  

I worked my way through all the pitfalls in this puzzle to grind to a halt in the Northwest. I had HIRE and KNEADED so wrote SCHnooK for 8Across and couldn't find my way out of that miscalculation. Good puzzle though.

Anonymous 1:13 PM  

As a professional voice coach, I could NOT get "One never ends on a low note," even when it was pretty clear the answer was SOPRANO. Lots of soprano arias end on low notes: (go to 3:38 to hear Tebaldi sink into the low register like a baritone, if you don't want to hear the whole, beautiful thing) ["Suicidio" from "La gioconda")
As for ICE: well, Rex said it all.

old timer 1:16 PM  

Exactly, . And we can pity those who lose their employment due to ICE raids, and deplore the now-revoked order to separate parents and children at the border. We are now back to allowing parents to separate their children on their own, in the hope the kids will end up as permanent residents here even if the parents must survive in Mexico or return home alone. But all is fair in love and crosswords. If WS deliberately included the "raiding org" definition to make OFL and his crew angry, good for him!

But he probably didn't see a problem at all. And probably never thought of ICE as "racist" since of course it isn't. Doesn't matter where you come from, if you are here illegally you may be deported. Most potential deportees are white and overstayed their visas in order to work here. Plus, a great many ICE agents are Latino, since fluency in Spanish is essential in some positions.

As for SCHMUCK, as it says in a modern folk song, "It's only a wee-wee, so what's all the fuss? It's only a wee-wee and everyone's got one, there's better things to discuss." I bet everyone in the Times newsroom has heard the word and used it, and in many cases grown up using it. Yiddish survives in the many words it gave us, even if the language itself is fading away.

Masked and Anonymous 1:25 PM  

@RP: yep... I.C.E. is unfortunately kinda one of them "wall" words, in our country's current history. Would rather build (and re-build) some bridges, with my tax dollars at work.
Way back in 13 Jan 2019, I.C.E. got clued-up in the NYTPuz as {Govt. org. under Homeland Security}, and didn't take as much heat.
If lookin for new fresh ways to clue ICE, maybe try this: {Kind of box cake??}. Funny, how I just dreamt that up, out of nowhere. (and yo, @pabloinnh)

Hey, pretty good SatPuz, Steinbergmeister. Thanx for the challenge, as usual.
Holy Six-Shooter, Batman … only 4 word lengths, in the whole puzgrid [3's, 4's, 5's, and 7's]. And check out that whirligig grid symmetry.

Most challengin parts, at my house:
* OHITSON/MTA. Finally got the MTA part, on an alphabet run. Lost precious nanoseconds, but always good to practice yer ABC's.
* MOSCATO/OERSTED. M&A highly recommended y'all try the delicious MOO-CATO white wine. Wrong, M&A Breath.
* SOPRANO/OERSTED. Wanted SOPRANO, but went with the also possible-lookin SOPRANA, on account of MOO-CATO. Figured the electrical engineer dude was maybe called AERO TED, by his friends. Wrong again, M&A Breath.

staff weeject pick: Anything but ICE. AWE/MEN has a nice religious ring to it.

Masked & Anonymo5Us

p.s. How do seed entries work, when they are 1 or 2 pups out of the 36 7's?


matthewordese 1:27 PM  

had Arsenal instead of AC Milan. thought THAT was the misdirect. should known AC was 1899 & Arsenal was 1886. and yes, LETSNOT on ICE.

Anonymous 1:39 PM  

Cluing ICE this way felt for me like cluing "stool" as fecal matter, and not the three-legged kind. Technically ok, but it doesn't pass the breakfast test. And I didn't care much for SCHMUCK, either. But Oerstead made up for it. Overall, I liked the puzzle.

Rug Crazy 1:50 PM  

A schmuck is an asshole, not a dummy. It's really from Yiddish for penis

OISK 1:53 PM  

I finished it. But when I saw "Steinberg" I was tempted not to begin. I dislike his puzzles even when I can solve them. Full of product and industrial names and acronyms, EMI, PDA, bad clues, as in the case of schmuck, which does not mean dummy. Steinberg will no doubt include "putz" in an upcoming puzzle. The terrible clue for "ice." The usual computerese - Appload? USB port? Is that a place to get "wired"? Or a place to get connected. Why should I know or care that Cinemax is part of Warner media? AC Milan is a soccer team. No good reason to use "football" in the clue. RPG??? I guess that stands for role playing games? Final fantasy and Dark Souls?

Most of these are defendable (other than schmuck), but all together they make for an unrewarding solving experience.

There's a Patrick Berry "rose garden" puzzle in the WSJ. Challenging, but always clever; I will tackle it next. Oh, it's on!

Gregory Schmidt 2:09 PM  

Moderate Natick. STarted with SCHNOOK, which led to NTA, (National Transportation Authority?), which led to SCHNUCK, cuz there's always an alternative spelling for the Yiddish words that I've never seen (looking at you, tchotchkes), which led to an error at the end. Oh well.

Bob Mills 2:14 PM  

Really hard. I give myself an A+ for finishing it. Upper-right was the biggest challenge. "OHITSON" and "OERSTED" were guesses.

Unknown 2:24 PM  

So true.

Bob Rosen 2:27 PM  

A schmuck is a dick, not a dummy. A dumb schmuck is is a dummy, just like a stupid dick. Otherwise, great puzzle! (And yes, I hate ICE as much as any non-racist, but fail to see why it shouldn’t be in a puzzle.)

S. Green 2:35 PM  

Rex, I am a liberal Democrat and probably agree with you on most important issues, but your anguished reaction to the presence of certain words or, in this case, acronyms, is nauseating. Some words provoke negative reactions in people but that doesn't mean they should be banished. Your over-the-top reaction to ICE is pathetic. I am a Jew and would not have that reaction to NAZI. It's a word. It describes a negative entity but so what? How do you even read a newspaper without getting apoplectic over every other word? Please reconsider your obnoxious intolerance of offensive words because you are becoming increasingly ridiculous.

CDilly52 2:36 PM  

Not even close.

CDilly52 2:44 PM  

I, too am a “Lorenite.” Not a teacher myself, but my late husband was one of the most gifted, dedicated teachers (of the dreaded mathematics - and to junior high kiddos no less) I have had the pleasure of knowing. The LMS teaching observations remind me so much of his stories and bring enjoyment in and of themselves but also happy memories. One of the highest tributes to him were the handful of “kids” now in their late 40s who attended his memorial last spring. Glad to know others get as much enjoyment from LMS as I do!

J S 2:45 PM  

I was totally put off by OHITSON, and Rex liked that?!
That said, I recall a touch of miff with ICE, but since the above was my sticky part, I forgot my dis-ease with ICE.
ACMILAN dropped in quickly, maybe as I like/play soccer, and listen to BBC in the evenings when dozing off.
Oersted was a problem as I couldn’t see anyway to fit Tesla, or G auss, the EM units that I know well.
The rest, not on bad, but not my best time, for certain. Hints fell together slowly with NW falling first, then increasing difficulty going CCW..

CDilly52 2:53 PM  

1D was very tough for me because Inhave only ever heard the word “HIGHLIGHTS” used to describe ACCENTS colored into a hairstyle. The NW nearly did me in.

Crimson Devil 2:58 PM  

I recall their being labeled and scorned as such by women’s college dorm mothers/supervisors in college during mid ‘60s.

Blackbird 3:07 PM  

Rex, I fully agree with you about beaner and ICE. Please continue to use your blog as a political platform when you feel so inclined. It is your blog, no one else's. And useful in so many ways.

I found this puzzle unusually challenging.

Schmuck is not a synonym for dummy. Too bad both David Steinberg and Will Shortz didn't know that. Nuance counts!

Very few gimmes. Chimera was the first gimme I got. Erudite, Noxzema (yes, I had Noxcema first!), Chicago, parable (eventually), cat pose (eventually). Apparel was an okay answer for a clever clue. "Don we now our gay apparel" worked for me, even if American Apparel as a brand name didn't immediately ring a bell.

AC Milan is a mystery to me. Didn't know Oersted, but that's okay. It may be esoteric, yet it's a fine clue and answer.

Marc Kwiatkowski 3:22 PM  

ICE is a legally constituted government agency with the power to conduct raids. This is a neutral fact. There's nothing racist or offensive about the clue. It was pretty obvious that it was some government agency - just a matter of working out which one. How can one justify being offended if the answer is ICE but not if it is ATF, BLM (yep they can raid) DEA, EPA (yep - them too), FBI, SEC...? I dislike the war on drugs, but I wouldn't take offense if the answer were DEA or FBI. Maybe the raids the constructor had in mine were ones to stop human trafficking. We're against that here, right? Sometimes I think Will Shortz enjoys trolling OFL

Malsdemare 3:27 PM  

If we're keeping score, put me in the did-you-really-have-to-clue-ICE-that way column. I’m not quite as over-the-top as Rex, but it was a really poor choice given what the news has been these past two years, especially lately.

I really thought I wouldn;t get a toehold anywhere with this. I had Jamaica for the birth of jazz, Aclue instead of AGAIN, and other misfires too numerous to enmerate. I did have HIRE but that was it for the first 10 minutes of work. So I put it aside and went off to a Read-to-the-dogs event and came home refreshed. Got the bottom half slowly and then MOSCATO and NOXZEMA fell and I was able to slowly, painfully complete the grid, though it took me over 3 REXes.

My battle this week has been with the wildlife raiding the bird feeders. As someone victimized by the polar vortex, I’ve been very busy filling the feedes only to have them raided when my back is turned — and sometimes when I’m standing at the window with my camera — by deer, raccoons, and squirrels. I know everyone needs food, but those other critters look pretty plump and healthy while the birds need to eat just to keep from freezing. Hanging the feeders in the dog yard is the obvious solution except my resident “I’m starving, you never feed me” dog also raids the feeders. Sigh! We’re going through the seed at an impressive rate of speed.

Rainbow 3:50 PM  

The very best comment today is @Amelia 12:19P. If you missed it, scroll back and read it.

I am 70+ and never knew that a group of people consider the SCH word a profanity. It was in the puzz one time and in this blog maybe 200. Hmmmm....

On November 6, 1869, Rutgers and Princeton played what was billed as the first college football game. However, it wasn't until the 1880s that a great rugby player from Yale, Walter Camp, pioneered rules changes that slowly transformed rugby into the new game of American Football.

phil phil 4:09 PM  

So kids, google is discontinuing and deleting google+ accounts. They said this affects blogger. So you have to save your data if there is any but what happens to our site use I am not sure.

Blackbird 4:14 PM  

Answering Rainbow: I am one of the "group of people" who knew that "schmuck" means penis, to be genteel, or prick or dick, to be more colloquial, in Yiddish.I am in your age group, as I am 76. Also, I'm Jewish, and I knew "schmuck" was a coarse word for the male genital. Schmuck means jewel in German, and, also in Yiddish. Think "family jewels", and you'll get the nuance. I don't think of it as a profanity, but it is used as an insult, the way prick or dick is used. A Yiddish synonym is putz. Also coarse. Would someone creating a crossword puzzle for the NY Times use dick or prick as a synonym for dummy? That's the problem with the clue and answer. It's basically ignorant, and coarse.

I scrolled to the top, and didn't find a comment by Amanda. All I found was a comment by Anonymous that said in Yiddish schmuck means penis.

We continue to learn....

Grandmaster Nazi Paikidze 4:18 PM  


Tita A 4:23 PM  

At the post-contest watering hole with our local gang. The puzzles we got were fabulous... NYT puzzles M-Th from next week... You're in for a treat!
I got my "all 4 puzzles correct" certificate!

But the best part is hanging out with everyone.

Rainbow 4:26 PM  

It was Amelia 12:19. Thanks for your comments.

GILL I. 4:28 PM  

Could someone please explain to me why a SCHMUCK is a dummy when, in fact, it's really a penis? I also need an explanation for PDA. Also, I didn't really like the way ICE was clued. Anyone else agree with me?
Does anybody here read the comments? I'm just curious but I'd really appreciate your feedback because I'm new here.
@Nancy: You ROCK! I wanna sing that to the tune of "Follow the Bouncing Ball." ;-).....

What? 4:29 PM  

Schmuck is also Jewish slang for penis. Oy veh

What? 4:31 PM  

Dr House, a fictional curmudgeon on the show “House”

What? 4:32 PM  

Does WS read these comments?

AW 4:47 PM  

Not a Steinberg fan because the cluing is too cute by far. What does being BORNE have to do with lifting? As pointed out previously, a SOPRANO can absolutely "end on a low note." Clueless clue. LETS NOT is polite? No, it's snotty and rude. You don't get wired at a USB PORT. You get powered. Phooey!

Crimson Devil 4:49 PM  

PDA=public display of affection

Rainbow 4:53 PM  

This was intended as a reply to Blackbird.

Hungry Mother 5:02 PM  

Back from the Caribbean to sunny Naples, FL. I had to help unpack, do the monthly bills, and shop at a very crowded Publix, where a customer said, “This is like Costco without the discounts.” After a late lunch, I finally got to the puzzle. It took me a bit over my average time, but I found it a slog. Happy to get the solve.

TomAz 5:12 PM  

I don't agree with the various complaints here re using football in the clues to mean soccer. It's a reasonable misdirect for a Saturday puzzle. Also, re SHIN: youth soccer players routinely wear shin guards so I think that clue is also valid.

Escalator 5:18 PM  

My worst performance in the past two years on this puzzle. C’est dommage.

Bill L. 5:19 PM  

Am I the only one to have *ball* HOG at 42D? Put it in based on ____HOG. Ball HOGs on the basketball court don't care much for passing, so...

Finally saw that it had to be ROAD HOG and found the rest on the easy side of medium.

To those grousing about the football clue: Of the 23 teams comprising Major League Soccer in the United States, nine contain "FC" (Football Club) in their name.

Atlanta United FC
FC Cincinnati
NY City FC
Toronto FC
FC Dallas
Los Angeles FC
Minnesota United FC
Seattle Sounders FC
Vancouver Whitecaps FC

Okay, so two of these are not in the US, but it still seems fair enough to me.

MattP 5:23 PM  

Note for context: I just came back from working as a mentor at a day-long pipeline program for underrepresented minority high school students interested in health sciences, so I hope my leftist bleeding heart bona fides are plain for all to see.

After finishing today's (a delightfully chewy puzzle with a few less than digestible morsels), I headed over to see how everyone else felt, and was confronted with what I can only describe as the most singularly ridiculous jeremiad I've ever encountered in crosswordland (high bar, I know).

Describing a government agency doing what it does (and ought not do, to my mind) is now considered not only insensitive, but downright racist? This reminds of when, during the election, college students claimed to be "triggered" by seeing Trump's name written on a sidewalk in chalk.

If you wage your wars over crosswordese that is patently factual, you're spilling plenty of ink in all the wrong places. There is a great deal of work to be done in our nation, but it doesn't begin with banishing what you find noisome from your midst. Indeed, a constant reminder of the indignities so many undocumented persons in our country suffer is a welcome call to action.

DigitalDan 5:33 PM  

I have a similar response whenever the puzzle clues EPA with anything resembling conservation or environmental protection; surely everyone knows by now that the aim of this department is best expressed on upside down or backwards day?

mark shuper 5:36 PM  

I can't imagine the NYT ever printing "He's a dick" as a clue for SCMUCK.

Anonymous 6:05 PM  

@anon 10:48
PDA = public display of affection
CDS= compact disks, which are stored in stacks on towers

Anonymous 6:57 PM  

I'll guarantee you one thing: the kid is a horrible constructor, been that way from the beginning. Where all these praises come from is beyond me. Firstly, shmack does not mean dummy. Second, in no way does outré mean bizarre.

Anonymous 7:19 PM  

Thank you!

Ethan Taliesin 8:48 PM  

I felt like Moses walking around in circles in the desert and finally had to cheat for "OH ITS ON" to open up that obstinate NE corner.

Schmuck is totally a foolish person. Who ever uses that word for penis? No one I know-- but maybe I'm just hanging oout with squares.

SJ Austin 9:02 PM  

This is probably the hardest puzzle I've done in a year. Just could not break in. And I agree that the cluing on ICE was a disaster. A stupid, totally avoidable disaster.

Anonymous 10:52 PM  

In the U.S. football is the NFL game.
That other sport is soccer.

+wordphan 3:01 AM  

And there are those who would call my “WTF” as snowflakey. Middle finger! You go, Rex!

Mike 4:05 AM  

I find it so frustrating that challenging the government for things like unnecessary family separation and deplorable detention conditions gets you accused by some as not caring about border security.

It is possible to have secure borders while also having workable immigration laws and policies, and humane treatment of people seeking to enter for various reasons, including asylum.

Even if you wanted 4D to stand for Immigration and Customs Enforcement you could have chosen a clue that wasn’t about raids, especially given recent stories about legal immigrants being harassed.

I don’t come here to make political rants, but this clue and answer really irked me.

CDilly52 4:05 AM  

This one had me scratching my head until just now as I was catching up on the rest of yesterday’s posts. First off, I couldn’t figure out why NYT would allow a typo in the puzzle. I saw APPLieD at 37A instead of APPLE ID, and couldn’t figure out “applied what?!?!” Then, at 25A For the life of me I couldn’t figure out what NEWAT (pronounced noo’-aht) meant!! Chalk it up to the fact that I was hospitalized with bronchitis/pneumonia (depending on which doc was opining) last week and my brain is not functioning (you think?).

Anonymous 8:29 AM  

I dread seeing David Steinberg's name and do not enjoy his puzzles at all. I'm glad to see others find his cluing to be off. To say that AC Milan is a 'football franchise' the day before the Super Bowl is idiotic. Associazione Calcio Milan was founded as the Milan Football and Cricket Club when there was no Serie A to sell a franchise. How is 'let's not' polite? The fact that it's a hortatory subjunctive? Please. Steinberg's clues need better editing and to be more fair.

Dan P 11:44 AM  

in re 8A: I'm amazed nobody mentioned the 2010 film w Steve Carell and Paul Rudd. Perhaps a more palatable definition might have been "One at dinner in a 2010 movie"

Anonymous 2:30 PM  

To anyone offended by the I.C.E. clue ... "Get over it"

kitshef 10:45 PM  

Excellent, challenging puzzle that I thought would do me in as I figured there had to be an error in OERSTED. Happy to have a successful solve.

I completely agree with those who have said that LET'S NOT is not polite - it's snarky and rude.

Anonymous 11:28 AM  


spacecraft 1:10 PM  

We choose to go to the moon, and do Steinberg puzzles, not because they're easy, but because they are HAHD!

I almost fell afoul of this one, thanx to Netflix. Did no one else try that in 17-across? Which fit perfectly with ATF at the infamous 4-down?? Wow, I had the taxes p[aid on that one, I was so sure. But 20 was looking more and more like BIZARRE (or -O, after a comic strip), which created a double-I at 6-down. Couldn't resolve the problem; went down to SIS/STIEG/SEASALT and, despite the awful "THEABCS," got going down there.

Eventually, I worked up into the NW along the western border, and suddenly remembered that CHICAGO was the real birthplace of jazz. I knew that, but had forgotten. Not enough of a SCHMUCK to think only of American football, I waited for crosses till ACMILAN showed itself. (BTW: American APPAREL?? Such a thing? Never heard of it)

So, with the CINEMAX/ICE inkblot in place, I finished (insert appropriate number of !'s here). A Friday-Saturday DUAD of uncountable triumph points!

The ICE thing; well, there goes OFL--not AGAIN!--on another rant about what the word represents. It's filler in a puzzle. That ink is not gonna raid you! It's just ink!! I would agree, though, in this case, there are dozens of ways around it. Why it was clued that way--or why Will didn't edit it--who knows? They could have clued it "Our next age," because the ICE caps are fast losing their grip.

No DOD today without a super-stretch: say, Halle Berry in a CATPOSE as Catwoman. Sold. Birdie: one too many weird wines--and THEABCS--kept eagle off the card.

Burma Shave 1:26 PM  




centralscrewtinizer 1:59 PM  

Well call me Schmuck Tracy. I always thought a schmuck was just an unfortunate person, not a dick with ears. Oh well, gonna put it on ice.
Got deeply held up by 'taLl ONE' and 'NEW to' until COLD ONE and NEW AT came into view.
Otherwise a clean if laborious solve and some new learning. Never heard of Dr. House as I don't watch the telly, nor did I know cat pose.
As far as ICE goes, I hope those goons get PTSD from their work.

leftcoastTAM 3:05 PM  

Steinberg knocked me out in the first round. Give him a medal.

Diana, LIW 4:04 PM  

Wrote a nice, snarky piece about donning our gay American APPAREL (not), but the cyberlice got it.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

Wooody2004 4:24 PM  

Easily got COLDONE but had to google SAMBUCA and MOSCATO. That last one must be where we got Muskatel.

Learned from Crossword: OERSTED, one of the MEN making history, per Truman.

Learned from Blog: A SCHMUCK is the same thing as a SCHLONG. Also liked PA(i)RAB(a)L(l)Es under SCHMUCK.

Unknown 4:50 PM  

Doing this Saturday 3/9: Looked all through the blog for explanation of RPG in 60D. Since nothing, must presume it's something everyone knows. But I don't.

Wooody2004 5:00 PM  

@Unknown 4:50 RPG is Role Playing Game, I guess something like Dungeons & Dragons. I'm here late, so I thought I'd help out.

rondo 5:36 PM  

Plenty of over-written squares in the NW - gimme NOXZEMA gave me wrongly crossing netfliX which gave me atf where the ICE should be; also had NEWto at first. So plenty of repair work was done there. For the second football clue I was guarding my goal, not SHIN. LETSNOT talk about how ERUDITE I felt today.

Per usual in a DS puz, no sight of a yeah baby, or as @spacey would say, DOD.

'Twas a challenge for me, maybe what I KNEADED.

thefogman 6:16 PM  

Put away the RPGS. I'm not in the MOOD for MOC outrage or an ERUDITE discussion. So LETSNOT go APE over ICE. Sure, DS isn't NEWAT this and I'm usually in AWE of his work. But he's no SCHMUCK, even if some BIZARRE cluing raised a few eye BROWS. I got SNAGGED in a few spots. My PENS many writeovers SMUDGED the grid, but I did it AGAIN. Time for a COLDONE. TATA for now.

Unknown 7:24 PM  

Schmuck does not mean dummy. There are many intelligent schmucks in the world.

rainforest 1:46 AM  

Brilliant comment, @Spacey. I live for these days.

I finished the puzzle this morning, and then made the galactic mistake of reading @Rex. My God, he must have an agenda when he checks out the puzzle. What a way to live a life. I mean, you have to really *try* to take umbrage. As a Canadian, I don't really don't know much about ICE, or their raiding activities - I just know I hate Trump (maybe the same thing; I wouldn't know). It was an acronym I'd heard of and so in it went.

I could tell you a joke about our First Nations people and Jesus Christ but it wouldn't pass moderation and would possibly alienate many of you. So, an untold "joke". That's the way it goes here. I caution you to never watch Bill Maher.

Anyway, late as I am, I loved this puzzle and found it "medium" and entertaining. Proved to myself I couldn't spell NOcZEMA, and had some trouble with BIZARRE (weird), but otherwise a good puzzle that stands up well upon finishing.

Must not read @Rex anymore (yes, I know I've said that before, but it's like saying "I will not ever drink SAMBUCA again).

Judy 7:23 PM  

ICE does a great job of removing law breakers who are felons, drug dealers and human traffickers. BP apprehends and detains illegal aliens at the border per Congressional mandates, not on a whim. Both organizations are very appreciated by those of us who despise drugs and are weary of this mass invasion. The border crisis is real and Americans, Hispanics, White and Native Americans, want a wall.

Anonymous 9:26 PM  

The ire and calls to fire/retire WS sounds like ageism. Maybe this issue should be considered as strongly as Mr Sharps other concerns/biases.

thefogman 11:48 AM  

America, to be truly great, needs a wall. A wall around Trump and all his racist followers.

Anonymous 1:48 PM  

Schmuck is a prick or obnoxious person.

Catroc 9:02 AM  

Lighten uo rex! ICE Is a perfectly acceptable answer and a legitimate organization. You don't need to go on and on and on about what you think about it. although it's your blog so say what you want and perhaps ameliorate half your audience

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