Psychedelic stuff from Evergreen State / TUE 2-12-19 / Belgian river to North Sea / Navigate like whale / Magician's name suffix

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Constructor: Tom Pepper

Relative difficulty: Medium (3:41)

THEME: state code + word = new word  — words that begin with state codes are clued as if they had something to do with the state:

Theme answers:
  • WA (Washington) 'SHROOMS (17A: Psychedelic stuff from the Evergreen State?)
  • DE (Delaware) BRIEFS (26A: Underwear from the First State?) (this one feels cheap, as "DE-" is a common prefix that could come before sooooooo many words)
  • NE (Nebraska) WAGER (28A: Gambler's action in the Cornhusker State?)
  • VA (Virginia) MOOSE (40A: Forest animal in the state nicknamed Old Dominion?) (awkward that this clue doesn't follow the pattern...)
  • AR (Arkansas) BITER (49A: Mosquito from the state nicknamed Land of Opportunity?) (the cleverest of the lot)
  • CO (Colorado) MEDIAN (51A: Highway divider in the Centennial State?)
  • CA (California) NOODLES (64A: Pasta from the Golden State?)
Word of the Day: NEW-AGER (see 28A) —
[Sorry, does not exist; Google keeps asking me "Do you mean 'new age'?" Also, when the first page of hits for your search returns PDFs from the Christian Research Institute ... not a thing. We've all been conned into believing this is a thing. It is not. Never was. It was a dumb "new" way to clue the bad fill AGER and somehow it stuck, but only in the world of crosswords. Let's exile it.]
• • •

Here is a good example of a how dudes ruin (or at least mar) a simple theme by Trying Too Hard (TTH). The instinct to *cram* the grid with themers (to show ... what, exactly?) is always (always) a bad one. Why? Because doing so will always put increased pressure on the fill. Themers are set in place, and the grid is built around them. When you set a ton of themers in place, the possibilities for fill get quite restricted. Every additional themer brings with it more limitations on what the rest of the grid can do. I think here, the last one or even two themers were totally unnecessary. I know it's hard to imagine what *isn't* in the grid, but with five great themers instead of seven OK ones, you would be less likely to endure an endless string of crosswordese and junk like ACER and INI and S'IL and AHL and ELSE'S. I think the grid might also have been cleaner if the puzzle weren't trying to flex with those very-long, completely non-theme Downs in the NE and SW. I love long non-theme Downs for the sizzle they can provide, but at the end of this one I had ughed at fill far more than I had oohed at those long Downs. I get that you wanna show off, but cleanness matters in early-week puzzles. Trust me, you would not have missed that seventh themer, and you would have noticed the grid ensmoothening.

I'm also just a little irked that I couldn't grasp the theme at first because I couldn't understand how ROOMS were "Psychedelic" .... "WASH .... ROOMS ... I don't get it." That was me. Because of course WASH. is a perfectly acceptable and common abbr. for the state of Washington. And ROOMS is a complete word. Thus I ended up trying to do something like NEBAGER at 28A: Gambler's action in the Cornhusker State? and even after I wrote in the correct answer, I didn't really stop to figure out how it was right. Only picked up the theme gimmick, finally, at the "Colorado median."

Five things:
  • 12D: "Whatever!" ("SEE IF I CARE") — had CARE and wanted "I DON'T CARE," which wouldn't fit. "I DO NOT CARE" seemed a bit too formal
  • 35D: British throne? (LOO) — one of my least favorite things in crosswords is having to decide between LOO and LAV. My other least favorite thing is this specific, old clue (and most toilet metaphors, frankly)
  • 8D: Reply to "Who's there?" ("IT'S ME") — could've been "IT IS I," I suppose, but thankfully clues usually indicate the hyperformality on that one
  • 1D: Whimper (MEWL) — had the "M," wrote MOAN, perhaps because MEWL is a word I have only ever seen in crosswords
  • 14A: Defense in a snowball fight (FORT) — well if you've got a lot of lead time, I guess, but most snowball fights are not (in my experience) planned such that you would have time to engage in massive infrastructure projects in advance
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


QuasiMojo 7:30 AM  

I put in Dowager. Otherwise an amusing and challenging Tuesday. I did not MEWL.

Hungry Mother 7:34 AM  

Fun theme; always great to see Delaware mentioned. Faster than average.

Calvin and Hobbes 7:39 AM  

We respectfully disagree about your take on Snow Forts.

Loren Muse Smith 7:43 AM  

What a way to start an icky, rainy Tuesday. Oh my gosh, I love this idea. Love it. And how can you not try to think of others? Stacy Abrams and her garage? Tate Reeves and his mistress? Boston and its maladies? Burbank and its lagoons?

The ones Tom went with are true standouts. Somehow I finished with the pièce de résistance– WA SHROOMS. What. A. Find. CA NOODLES comes in a close second.

Rex, if there was an “an endless string of crosswordese and junk,” I missed it. The smattering of INIs and ATITs was utterly eclipsed by the fun in uncovering each themer. Indeed, the only thing I noticed outside the theme were the two pairs of long down 10 stacks. Terrific. My cup runnethed over.

Ok. I have to stop this gushing because the sad fact is that Tom Pepper is an insufferable, mean-spirited blowhard whose head is just gonna get even bigger now that he was another gem of a puzzle under his belt. Sheesh. Just Kidding – I have the great pleasure of seeing Tom every year at the ACPT, and a nicer guy you just won’t find anywhere. We’ve shared lunch, a cab, a frreeeeezing walk to the Brooklyn Bridge (hey, @Bob), a conversation with Sir Patrick Berry (Tom introduced me – I was the third wheel, wobbly-kneed and awkward).

And, Tom, if you’re reading this… you know I always have to say something about this… but at least you didn’t go commando this morning; you remembered your DE BRIEFS. What *is* it with you and underwear, man?

I’m going to look for other theme possibilities all day. PASTY, SCRAPPER, MISTAKES, and my dad’s sister Maryon, who lived in Miami. My FLAUNT. (She’s the one, a family genealogist, who told us we were descendants of George Washington. But after her death I found out that wherever she had gaps in the ancestral tree she filled them in by consulting a Ouija board.)

Lewis 7:50 AM  

With seven theme answers, lovely long downs, BOZO/POGO/TORO, and a mini-theme of double O's (6), this was a ZIPPY smile-producing gem. Tom, you can sprinkle some Pepper on my Tuesdays anytime!

Lewis 7:51 AM  

Speaking of gems, what do you call an object from the Gem State?

DeeJay 8:05 AM  

Great puzzle, laugh out loud for me.

26A reminded of course of what was for me a kindergarten laff riot: "What did DELAWARE?"

"I don't know, ALASKA."

"It was a NEW JERSEY."

Practically fell of my tricycle when I first heard that...

sidneyellenwade 8:09 AM  

I LOVED this one!!! The theme answers were delicious! Plus SCHMEAR! SEE IF I CARE!

D Peck 8:13 AM  

Sorry, Rex, but if you lived through the 1980s and held hands with all of your college friends during the Harmonic Convergence to pray for the future of humanity, you'd know know that NEW AGER was most definitely a thing for nearly a decade. But isn't the real problem with 28A that clue suggests the answer NEW WAGER? NE WAGER is really the thing that's not a thing here, because, um, it's really literally not actually a thing? Also, DEBRIEFS was a pretty cute choice for a DE- word, given the embarrassment of choices.

Despite that I really liked this puzzle. Appropriate level of silliness, and I loved all those downs that failed to impress you. SCHMEAR? C'mon, that's great. VENDETTA, also excellent. ECHOLOCATE. How can you not love a Tuesday that gives you ECHOLOCATE? SEEIFICARE, WELCOMEMAT, and SCREENSHOT are rock solid too (wanted SCREENGRAB at first, which shows that there was actually a bit of play there), and if PROTRUDE and TIMIDLY aren't exactly exciting, they have the benefit of being actual words.

Only thing that threw was was WA SHROOMS, which I read as WASH ROOMS, and so went looking for no postal code abbreviations like DEL and NEB, till I figured it out. Otherwise lotsa fun.

David Sinclair 8:19 AM  

15A. Ricing is not chopping at all. That’s dicing or mincing and it’s done with a blade. Ricing is forcing something through smalll holes (like a ricer or a food mill).

Bruce R 8:20 AM  

Anyone that grew up in a cold climate knows that your primary defense in a snowball fight is a garbage can lid.

Jeremy Keeshin 8:22 AM  

I really liked this theme. Took me a few tries on some of the states to get it exactly right. I had a hard time with MEWL and PROTRUDE. Thought this was really clever and fun.

CS 8:26 AM  

I agree with what posters have said so far -- fun and smile-inducing. And appropriate for a Tuesday - not hard but still had to think.

Completely disagree w/Rex about snow forts -- OF COURSE one builds snow forts as part of the epic snowball fights of childhood!! As snow approaches here in the NE, that clue instantly conjured wonderful memories of entire days spent getting completely soaked and frozen playing outside in the snow and loving it -- especially the part of coming inside to heaping cups of hot chocolate with marshmallows .... mmmmm

Anyway, back to the puzzle; methinks Rex is cranky because he didn't understand the 'shroom clue and therefore grouched his way all the way through. That's on him. For the rest of us, this was fun!


IT Phone Home 8:29 AM  

@Rex, in childhood, the snow fort was more than half the fun of the snowball fight. It took time to build the fort but the fight didn't last that long. You grew up in California didn't you?

Overthought zippy because my brain couldn't get past ing EVEN WITH ZIP in there, and screen shot confused me because I wanted screenshare. Otherwise not that difficult.

Why doesn't the tech person have a title? For years it was the IT guy as in, "The IT guy can fix that." When it was a woman we just said her name, "Ask Kristal." Never heard anyone say the "call the IT person."

Can we get these people a title?

Alexscott68 8:31 AM  

The only thing that bugged me about the puzzle was that NEW AGER was the only theme answer that was two words instead of one. That and NEW AGER, as Rex points out, isn’t a thing. Otherwise I enjoyed the theme and puzzle overall.

Suzie Q 8:37 AM  

I haven't had this much fun in ages! And on a Tuesday!?!
Way to go Mr. Pepper.
@ LMS already got the ball rolling with her suggestions and I imagine more will be coming.
As soon as I saw shrooms I knew this was going to be good.
What I know about curling would fit in a thimble so I learned something too.
Maybe Rex and I did different puzzles?

GILL I. 8:37 AM  

Well I went sniffing around this puzzle as well. Found one at 1A: Something written after the Show-Me State? MO PS. Hah!. Wanted to do something with NO CHE but I don't know a NO State.
Wow, @Rex. I thought you'd love this one. Oh, right. It's Tuesday and the "Nice" disappears.
TOM even got his name in as the 54A Mr. Turkey.
NEW AGER appears in the Urban dictionary. I can't understand the wrath or why you want to exile it. I can't even understand why such IRE given this puzzle. I thought it was ZIPPY. Yup. SEE IF I CARE...nope!
Thanks Tom Mr. Turkey Pepper. I enjoyed this one.

MPJ 8:41 AM  

Big chuckle in response to your response of 14A

Dorothy Biggs 8:42 AM  

Rex, snowball fights do not beget snow forts, but snow forts beget snowball fights. Also, aren't there stories of kids being buried alive in those things?

This was the easiest Tuesday ever for me. If i weren't for the write overs: Moan for MEWL, Rear for RUMP, nHL for AHL, etc., probably would have been my fastest time ever in the history of man.

I'm surprised that NEWAGER doesn't Google well...I thought that was a pretty common term for an "earth muffin" in the 90s.

I know a lot of smokers, they only use CIGS ironically.

SJ Austin 8:47 AM  

I dunno man, I thought this was one of the best puzzles in recent memory. Fun theme concept, fresh fill, clever cluing. You're probably right that I wouldn't have missed the seventh themer if there had only been six, but I also didn't find myself bothered by an overstuffed grid. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

blinker474 8:52 AM  

Like everyone other than our morose host, I really really loved this puzzle. Had a momentary lapse at 'wash rooms', but was able to figure it out. Kudos to the constructor for putting together such a clever theme with so many solid entries. I've never yet seen a puzzle that does not contain some annoying little words - and never expect to. Why complain about them? They are inevitable.

Anonymous 9:02 AM  

Agree with David Sinclair about ricing. I thought it couldn't be right because it isn't chopping.

I enjoyed this puzzle.


another chipper and uplifting review.

- cheap
- awkward
- sorry
- does not exist
- not a thing
- dumb
- bad fill
- exile it
- duds
- mar
- trying too hard
- a bad idea
- crosswordese
- junk
- ughed
- irked
- one of my least favorite things
- my other least favorite thing
- old clue

Norm 9:15 AM  

This was very entertaining and very easy, which meant that I looked at very few of the downs and did not notice or care about the allegedly bad fill.

Nancy 9:15 AM  

How do I love this puzzle? Let me count the ways. First the theme -- made crunchier [for me] by the fact I don't know a large number of state nicknames. Also made witty and amusing by such lovely results as DEBRIEFS and CANOODLES and VAMOOSE. And even where the final answer isn't a funny word, as in WASHROOMS, the word 'SHROOMS is funny. So this aspect of the puzzle is delightful.

Then, the wonderful cluing. Because 1A wasn't clued "Things you sweep with." And 14A wasn't clued "____Knox". And 34A wasn't clued "Summer month". And 66A wasn't clued "Begin". This is the way it's done, folks. Even early in the week.

I had the most trouble with "Defense in a snowball fight". I had F--- and all I could think of was FIST, though I thought it would be a lot more effective to put up the entire HAND. You see, I've never had such an elaborate snowball fight. You build an entire FORT??? Good heavens! I wouldn't know where to begin.

Roo Monster 9:17 AM  

Hey All !
What a great, fun puz! Kept smirking every time I uncovered a theme answer. How can you not like this theme? Who gives a fig about some minor dreck? Every Puz Has Dreck. The themers in this one outweigh them. So there.

WA SHROOMS. Gold. VA MOOSE. Gold. AR BITER. Gold. Plus CO MEDIAN. CA NOODLES. DE BRIEFS. NE WAGER. I only wish there could've been more themers in the Downs. Shoot, throw in an extra block in the long Down and sneak in two more themers! DISCO!

1A - Letter addendum in the Show Me State?
9A - Camaro model in the Keystone State?
62A - Mixed dog in the Peach State?
Even 43A - Protest of a leader in Mardi Gras city?

Cool puz, TOM, even snuck your name in there, ya Turkey. :-) When Rex can't see or find the fun in a puz like this, I don't know what to tell him. This was ZIPPY!


newspaperguy 9:26 AM  

Suzie Q said...
Maybe Rex and I did different puzzles?
Nah. One of you got up looking for something to be happy about, and the other one of you was Rex, who thinks that griping is a fine art.

oopsydeb 9:28 AM  

Of course FORTS are a thing in snow ball fights! First, you build the FORTS then you have the snowball fight. In my childhood, that typically involved two competing teams, two opposing forts in the backyard. Not very advanced in our understanding of war making, we had an understanding that there would be no attacking during fort construction. Once both forts were completed, the fight was on.

I don't recall using the term NEW AGER in college in the 80s even though I certainly spent plenty of time in the new age spots and shops. I think we said new age guy or new age woman. That said, I can't for the life of me figure out why we didn't make it simpler and use new ager.

I also had moan instead of MEWL, though as soon as I typed in moan I thought, "shit...i bet that's supposed to be mewl."

Crimson Devil 9:28 AM  

With SCHMEAR, PROTRUDE, SCREENSHOT, ECHOLOCATE, SEEIFICARE, and all themers, much to enjoy here.

GHarris 9:29 AM  

Really had fun with this and found it very easy once I changed moan to mewl ( which was a gimme upon seeing llama) and rear to rump, also a gimme in light of pogo. Lighten up Rex.

Sir Hillary 9:32 AM  

I liked this way more than @Rex did, but I give him credit for embedding three nice theme examples. Of course, there's an ALmost INfinite ARray of potential themers, given how many postal codes can start words.

The long downs are ZIPPY and add a lot. Yeah, some fill is weak (especially ELSES) but SEEIFICARE.

And an autograph at 54A. SCore!

RAD2626 9:39 AM  

A debtor from Miami? Something you can achieve in the Green Mountain state? Get charged up in the Beaver state?

Great fun. Terrific puzzle. And really liked the long downs a lot.

I have truly only seen snow forts in the comics and Winter Carnival. @Calvin and Hobbes had it right.

Anonymous 9:46 AM  

Oh, where is the Rex of yesterday?

I conclude from Rex's comment regarding Snow Forts that he either
a) is an only child
b) had no friends in childhood
c) didn't grow up north of the Mason-Dixon Line
d) is a jerk
e) all of the above

There was one winter (68? 69?) when we had a fully functional system of tunnels and trenches in the front lawn for weeks on end, lined with ice to prevent melt-off. It was awesome.

Outside The Box 9:47 AM  

Fun puzzle. Enjoyed doing this one even if some of the short fill answers were eh.

TomAz 9:53 AM  

Put me on Team "Ricing Is Not Chopping". By the way, passing hot peeled potatoes (peel after boiling) through a ricer is the best way to make mashed potatoes. Throw a little butter in there while you're at it. Or a lot of butter if you want to be decadent.

I thought this puzzle was OK, not bad, though I don't share the enthusiasm for the themers. The idea is cute. Having to parse what state goes with which nickname became a bit of a chore. I agree with Rex that a couple fewer theme entries would have improved the puzzle.

Though, some of the non-theme words were great. ECHO LOCATE. yeah. that's fabulous. On a Tuesday. Very well done.

I agree with the commenter who noted NEW AGER is, in fact, a thing. A ridiculous thing, sure, but as noted, many of us lived through those silly times.

Anonymous 9:59 AM  

Not to mention the sexist "dude", as if a woman constructor couldn’t TTH and overstuff a puzzle.

Anonymous 10:00 AM  

Wait a sec! Isn't it simply a WAGER in NE?

Anonymous 10:03 AM  

@D Peck some nice points, but I fail to see how the clue is asking for a new wager and not a wager from NE.

Ron 10:04 AM  

Had boob in for bozo only write over.

Hartley70 10:13 AM  

I love snow. I love snow FORTS. I love the comments today about snow FORTS. I love thinking about snow FORTS while it’s snowing.

The theme was fresh and clever and I found this a delightful Tuesday.

Rug Crazy 10:14 AM  

The best part about this puzzle is Rex's post

Magpie 10:24 AM  

I stuck DELAWEAR in for the underwear clue quite early on - once I straightened that out, I cottoned to the schtick.

Anonymous 10:25 AM  

Hey everybody,
Get off rex';s back. He's from California ( and not the Sierras either) he has no idea what he's talking about viz Snowball fights. Of course forts were a huge part of many battles.
As for new ager. Please. He's just being argumentative. he knows full well it was a quite popular term through his high school and college ( undergrad anyway) years. When I google it, it shows up in the 4th slot ( Via Urban dictionary) and the eight spot via Wiktionary.

As for his arbitrary pronouncement that 5 great themers is better than 7 average ones, who could deny the veracity of such a statement? But it dodges the real question; what is the quality of the themers in today's puzzle. I say Pepper picked perfectly. Seven for seven. He's batting 1000. Rex? he whiffed. Again.

Nancy 10:34 AM  

@Quasi (7:30) -- Only the fact that I couldn't think of a "DO" state kept me from putting in DOWAGER just as you did. After all the word had more than a little resonance. See "Dowager Heights".

Marie Wolf 10:35 AM  

Everytime Rex does a particularly snarky review, I have to go to Jeff Chen's site (thanks, Rex readers, for talking about Jeff's blog) to see whether he named the Rex-maligned puzzle as his POW. Sure enough--this one was his puzzle of the week.
I still like Rex's website, mostly for the commenters, but it's a pleasure to read Jeff Chen to see how much he still likes crosswords, how sunny he is, and how he points out flaws in the construction without ridicule. Good to have more than one point of view, I guess.

Malsdemare 10:39 AM  

@COIXT RECORDS Someone should make a puzzle using those words and title it "Rex Parker Review."

I thought this was a gas! And the additions folks are suggesting tickle my fancy this yucky morning. #metoo for Moan, Rear, the LOO/Lav quandry. I got PROTRUDE off the P. But My Hail Mary was a plea, then Pray before I got PASS off of SCREENSHOT. I liked the LOO next to REAR. As kids, we always got impatient with the fort-building and ended up in the fight with half-finished defenses.

Ryley dog fulfilled a wish last night, caught himself a gloriously pissed-off raccoon. The ensuing fight in the freezing drizzle was horrible to watch (and took forever to break up) but the predator was in his element. Raccoons are tenacious fighters and this one had no plans of giving up. It took my very large and powerful husband all his muscles to get Ryley in the house. Mr. Raccoon left the scene, I hope to live to fight another day, but that's doubtful. No sign of him this morning.

Heading to Cincinati today, assuming the ice in Chicago doesn't drift south. I'm done with winter. Just sayin' ....

Anonymous 10:43 AM  

You must not have read your Shakespeare closely:

"All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages. At first the infant,
Mewling and puking in the nurse’s arms;" -- As You Like It, Act II, sc. vii

I thought this was a pretty fun Tuesday, but then, to each his own.

Suzie 10:45 AM  

I really enjoyed this puzzle. I had dICES for RICES (because ricing isn't chopping), but only for a second, as I immediately got the down answer. I also had BObO instead of BOZO for a bit, because "bobo" was my ex-boyfriend's favorite thing to call me when I did something dumb. This one was complicated by YSER being the only answer I didn't know off the top of my head, but I figured it out.

I mostly loved the theme answers, but NEWAGER does bother me. Not because "new ager" isn't a thing--it definitely is--but because it's the only one that's two words. That one is clunky. But it gives us ECHOLOCATE, which is my favorite answer in the puzzle, so I can't be mad about it.

Teiresias 10:45 AM  

You have seen the word mewl before outside of crosswords - when you read As You Like It:

All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages. At first, the infant,
Mewling and puking in the nurse’s arms.

Laurie 10:47 AM  

Did not like clue for 15A. As has been said, riding is not chopping.
“force (cooked potatoes or other vegetables) through a sieve or ricer.”

Nancy 10:51 AM  

I'm finding out, on two different blogs, yet, that just about everyone who was ever a child has had the experience of building a snowball protection FORT in childhood. Did I miss out on this experience because I refused to be out in the snow long enough to build one? I hated snow as a child. I hate snow now. I have always hated snow.

I was 10 years old when I first went off to Camp Pinecliffe in Maine -- a girls' camp that recruited in Houston as well as NYC. Thus did I find myself in Bunk 2 with a host of Houstonites -- all of whom said that they had never seen snow, and how much they envied snow-privileged me. In a sardonic voice worthy of Oscar Wilde or Dorothy Parker, my ten-year-old self replied: "You can have all mine!"

JC66 10:51 AM  

Well, the real @Rex is back. Bad timing, since I agree with a the vast majority of today's commenters: this puzzle was terrific.


WASH ROOMS is also two words

Anonymous 10:54 AM  

Thank you. Rex, you cannot remain the King of Snark if you fit your arrows with a handful of tired barbs. We do crosswords for fun. You throw damp towels on them. If you must snipe, please try to be funny or at least creative. Sheesh.

Roo Monster 10:55 AM  

@Gill I
Har. Great minds..

Answers? I got FLOWER, but not up enough on my State nicknames to figure out the others. Too lazy to Goog them! :-)


Anonymous 11:04 AM  

Forts were the big thing in our neighborhood until I hit on the fundamentals that became part of my military career. It was always assumed that a truce was in effect while forts were being built. But I came up with the idea at age 7 of sending in sappers behind the other kids fort during the truce. So once our team and their team finished the forts and the war began, they were immediately attacked from the rear and buried in piles of snow that had been their fort five minutes before while the aerial attack proceeded apace. no prisoners taken. Total and utter devastation. By age 9, no one would have snowball fights with me or play monopoly. But I keep you safe so shut up.

Z 11:06 AM  

Rex’s point is that 7 themers worsened the fill. The counter is that the fill isn’t that bad. De gustibus non est disputandum and all that, but I lean toward Rex’s position. Have we seen worse fill? Sure. But would five themers resulted in still less dreck? In Pepper’s hands I think yes. I think Rex’s consistent advice to constructors has been not to fall in love with one’s ingenuity at the expense of the solver, avoid trite fill like CIGS and LOO and CFO if you can.

@IT phone home - Chief Information Specialist? CIS for short.

NEW AGER is, or was, most definitely a thing. Staid people would use it in much the same derisive tone of voice they might use “moonie.” I haven’t heard it in awhile, but I have heard it.

Regarding RICES, I think people are mistaking the tool for the action. To RICE is to make something, like a potato, into something RICElike. One can use a tool specific to the purpose, a RICEr. Or, if you’re good with your kitchen knives, you can chop. As someone with a tiny kitchen with little room for any more tools and appliances, if the recipe calls for something to be RICEd I use a knife. Choppy Choppy Tada.

Free advice to late night anonymice, If a word is used in a way you don’t recognize, maybe look it up in a dictionary or three and read more than the first definition. Or, heck, just pause to consider what removing the “un” from “unimpeachable” might mean.

Mary McCarty 11:08 AM  

Very fun puzzle; I liked the mental stretch of figuring out state nicknames and the puns of thee endings. Once again, @LMS, your avatar is a HOOT!

Anonymous 11:15 AM  

Thumbs down on 27D.
Yes, "INI" are the final 3 letters of Houdini, but do not a suffix make. No more than "ARP" being OFL's "suffix". Not.

Amelia 11:24 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
jae 11:28 AM  

Easy-medium. Clever and amusing, liked it.

I thought the “circa” sign was an @ sign at first which vacuumed up several precious (@m&a) nanoseconds.

Anonymous 11:34 AM  

No. The counter to the claim seven themers worsen the fill, is
seven themers elevates the puzzle from workman-like to superb.
Of course tastes vary. No need for the gratuitous Latin. Likewise Rex's unwanted advice to constructors. Who cares? This isn't a forum for constructors, rather a discussion board for the puzzle which appears today. So the question was, and remains, how good are the themers. I'm with anon 10:25. I thought all seven were winners. So were echolocate, screen shot, see if I care, schmear, gamut, maybe even loons and llama- my tastes run toward Nash and Lear.
Finally, why do you insist on belittling anonymous commenters when you yourself hide behind the masquerading moniker of Z? You're as anonymous as any anonymouse. Why not sign your posts with your name? Others do?

JC66 11:40 AM  

@Anon 11:34

I agree with your critique of @Z's 11:06 comment.

However, I have to point out that when he posts as Z, everyone knows it's Z. When you post as Anonymous, you are one of many and only you know who you are. You are truly ANONYMOUS.

Anonymous 11:50 AM  

JC 66,
pardon me, but so what? That is, who cares who the author of the comment is? Shouldn't comment be judged on its own merits? Many here complain that Rex has a bias against some constructors. More than once after he's pilloried a Bruce Haight puzzle, folks here have lamented that they wish the puzzle had no byline s that Rex wouldn't automatically crucify it. I feel that way about the comments here. There's no need to belittle others. She's not around anymore, but Two Ponies used to get grief, not for the content of her post necessarily, but for views she had previously expressed. Angry Doug used to get called out too, mostly because his politics ran afoul of some of the gas bags on the board. I'd rather read a reasoned post from an anonymous poster than the drivel I far too often read.

QuasiMojo 11:56 AM  

@ Nancy 10:30 AM I guess I was thinking of DOver Delaware! I did fix it btw and avoided a DNF.

As for the RICING debate, the Food Network has this to say about the new trend in riced vegetables: “These tiny chopped pieces of vegetables have found their ways into all kinds of recipes, and can offer a hefty dose of ...” etc — if I knew how to link these I’d post the website.

JC66 12:03 PM  

@Anon 10;50

I was referring to this part of your 11:34 post:

"Finally, why do you insist on belittling anonymous commenters when you yourself hide behind the masquerading moniker of Z? You're as anonymous as any anonymouse. Why not sign your posts with your name? Others do?"

@Z is not hiding his identity. If you take the time to click on his avatar to get his profile, it gives his email address which reveals his name.

JC66 12:11 PM  


Here's the food network RICED VEGETABLE article.

Masked and Anonymous 12:12 PM  

This puz was mighty excellent. It ran the GA MUTT.

Some feedback & construction tips, for @RP:

1. Well, yeah -- U could pick on the little weejects like INI and AHL. They're easy marks, but then again only a small fraction of the puzfill.
2. Sometimes U need to have more themers, if they are shorties, like today's crop. Probably coulda made the quota without VAMOOSE's seven extra theme-letters, but VAMOOSE is really much too excellent not to try and fit it in.
3. This rodeo already has the 78 max word-count. If U pulled out VAMOOSE, you'd still have to splatz some other 7-letter filler in, like HOGCALL, to take its place.
4. And then bloggers would be all over HOGCALL's ass, becuz it has the same length as two of the themers, and is therefore not "elegant" enough.
5. Is SIL bad becuz it's French? Is ACER bad becuz it ain't clued as the computer? Is ELSES bad becuz it's possessive? They were sure all nanosecond-friendly (yo, @jae) gets.
6. yep. WASH ROOMS themer made m&e also do a doubletake, at first. Thought then 26-A was sure to start with DELE-.
7. The long downs kinda needed flexin, on account of that 78-word limit, again. fave: WELCOMEMAT.

staff weeject pick: TOM. Constructioneer scores a name Easter egg dealy.

Thanx, Mr. Pepper. Nice TuesPuz, dude.

Masked & Anonymo3Us


cordwainer 12:13 PM  

If one is going to use Google as a "source" (which it's not), it helps to know how to do verbatim phrase searches.

"New Ager" turns up as a result in several online dictionaries, including Colins English Dictionary, plus Granted the phrase is a bit dated, as the mainstream media articles containing it are generally from more than a decade ago. However it has been used in publications as disparate as the New Yorker and Forbes, and even in the past 5 years shows up in both Vogue and The New York Times. And that's based on a pretty cursory search - I didn't bother going past the first page of results.

Just because Google's algorithms are oriented toward more recent publications - and, of course, tend toward the lowest common denominator - doesn't mean we should let them lead us by the nose :-)

Enjoyed the review as usual, though. Whether one agrees or disagrees, they're always entertaining!

QuasiMojo 12:26 PM  

Thank you @JC66, you rock! I see these items at the supermarket but have yet to try some.

Anonymous 12:30 PM  

A very fun puzzle, once you crack the “code.” Thank you very much Mr. Pepper for the spicy Tuesday morning!

Amelia 12:31 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Z 12:35 PM  

@anon 11:34 - You’re correct that some feel 7 is better than 5 is better than 3. I disagree. For example, I love a good hoppy IPA, but the craft brewer who decided including every available type of hops was a good idea was wrong. This puzzle isn’t as bad as that beer was, but I still lean towards Rex’s contention that less would be more.

Ethan Taliesin 12:45 PM  

Hmmm Rex, I just tried googling NEW AGER and I got back pages from RationalWiki, WIkipedia and Britannica, so your results are on you.

I know you're being facetious about it not being a "thing." Yeah, it's a silly thing, but if I could wish away a few silly things New Age would be pretty far down on the list, as it's comparatively benign when compared to religion and climate change denialism. Let them do as they wish with their jade eggs.

Fun grid, despite some stale filler.

oldactor 12:50 PM  

@anonymous 11:15

Besides Houdini, what about the other magicians Moudinii,Slydini and Cardini?

Z 12:51 PM  

@JC66 - Yeah, “anonymice” is belittling. Unfortunately, when I use it the phrase is too accurate. I would contend, though, that their desire to be unaccountable for their posts doesn’t mean that they should be unaccountable for their posts. If you had posted the same misunderstanding I could have pointed out to you how I was using it per definition 3 in Merriam-Webster. You and I could have had a conversation. That’s not what anonymice do. In my opinion, their choice to be insulting and wrong deserves whatever belittling they receive. If they were insulting and right I’d tip my hat, but that is so rarely the case. If they were just wrong I would try not to belittle. But insulting and wrong? Fair game. Maybe more forgiving people disagree.

Three and out.

Anonymous 12:53 PM  

In the first Avengers movie Loki calls the Black Widow a mewling q---, a word much nastier in Brit English, not used much in American English.

Wileyfex 12:58 PM  

Just exactly what I was going to say, but you got there first.

Teedmn 1:04 PM  

Rex, bah humbug! I loved this puzzle. I don't look at the constructor's name until I'm done so I was ever so pleased to find this sweet theme was thought up by my friend, Tom Pepper! Like @LMS, I think Tom is the nicest guy ever. He helped me navigate my way home from my first ACPT and we didn't even have to use ECHOLOCATion. (Only the train to Harlem and the M60 bus to LGA and evil American Airlines).

I just wish I had a couple of crosses in place so I could solve his bonus answers over at xwordinfo - I could only get two of them.

And yes, you could think I'm biased but while I was solving, before I knew who created this puzzle, I was very much looking forward to finding each theme answer. I did have a bit of a disconnect like Rex with WASHROOMS because of the WASH but with DEB____ in place at 26A, it was obvious that the postal code abbr. was the state part.

Very ZIPPY, thanks Tom.

nyc_lo 1:08 PM  

Any puzzle that manages WA-SHROOMS and CA-NOODLES can’t be all bad, in my book. Enjoyed it overall.

Anoa Bob 1:26 PM  

I had a mixed reaction to VAMOOSE. On the one hand, huh!? A MOOSE in Virginia? Really? On the other, it's a word that comes almost directly from Spanish into English (vamos; let's go), probably in the Southwest during the 19th century. Similar to savvy/sabe, for "understand". You savvy?

ECHOLOCATION brought back memories for this ex-Navy Sonar tech. For example, that's how some whales hunt. We could listen to them as they made loud noises by popping their jaw bones and waiting for echoes to bounce back from their prey. As they got closer and closer to the target, the pops got closer and closer together in time, and then stopped for a while until another hunt was on.

Then there were these late-night, deep, drawn-out, mournful moaning sounds that were truly eerie and which we never were able to figure out what the source was.

Also noticed that three of the seven themers needed some POC (plural of convenience) assistance for no other reason than to boost their letter-counts to match their symmetrical counterparts. A little too convenient, if you ask me.

ArtO 1:34 PM  

Thought this was pretty gritty for a Tuesday but well worth the effort. Started out trying to do more with the states than their abbreviations as trying to work WASH in to a Timothy Leary acid rather than SHROOMS. Once over that hump the rest rolled along and was a fun solve.

My compaint about NEWAGER is that unlike the others, it doesn't work as befitting the clue which would require it to be NEW WAGER... which has already been noted, so I'm just piling on.

I will pile on to those who are criticizing OFL. My brilliant cousin who completes the puzzle every day sent an email just the other day noting that Mr. Sharp seems to have grown more curmudgeonly lately. Couldn't agree more.

Anonymous 1:38 PM  

I believe you are mistaken regarding the availability of Z's identity.
I have clicked on his avatar and the link for his email. That yielded only more letters: Marcgiz@gmail.
That's an email address not a name. Maybe his name appears somewhere in his profile these days, though I doubt it.

It's your contention that insults should be met with insults? That's a stunning philosophy. Not at all in the Judeo-Christian tradition which is what has made the West the preeminent power in the history of the world. And what you claim to have been inculcated by. The ethos you now advance is simply quid pro quo. That of course begets revenge, the cornerstone of barbarism. Besides, I have yet to see any insults being flung by any anonymous commenters today.

Banana Diaquiri 1:50 PM  

the West the preeminent power in the history of the world

run by the foulest mouthed insult generator in history. some times being a Neanderthal gets you the trophy. :)

Siberian Khatru 1:57 PM  

Really liked this puzzle, except for PDOTRUDE, which is not a word!

tea73 2:00 PM  

I got waylaid a bit by putting in DElawear thinking that was the clothing pun, and I also saw WASH ROOMS before I realized of course it was WA SHROOMS, once I sorted that out I found it easy. Did not notice most of the icky short fill, and INI made me laugh. I put in dICES because, ricing does not involve chopping. Other than that bad clue I liked this puzzle.

Anonymous 2:04 PM  


I don't mean today. I mean the history of the West for the past 2000 years....

Nancy 2:15 PM  

@Quasi (11:56) -- Is there a word or phrase in my post to you that's not immediately clear? Thought you might Google it.

john towle 2:21 PM  

The version I heard: “If Miss Issippi wore New Jersey, what would Dela ware?” “I da ho…A’l ask a.” You’re welcome.



OffTheGrid 2:27 PM  

I don't understand:

Why some of you are adding a W to NEWAGER, making NEW WAGER and then complaining that it doesn't make sense.

Why a plural gets less love than a singular. (POC complaints)

FrankStein 2:35 PM  

I’m not getting the “New Wager” complaint. The answer is NE WAGER. Nebraska Wager. Nothing new about the clue. The pun is that it looks like New Ager in print.

Joe Dipinto 2:35 PM  

I enjoyed the puzzle and the theme. BUT-- Ascap is not a music copyright organization. It's a licensing organization for performing rights.

jberg 2:42 PM  

I got off on the wrong foot, forgetting what the Cornhusker State was, so I wrote in "IoWAGER" -- an entirely different kind of thing, in which at least some letters have to be used in both words. That idea works with WASHROOMS, as well, but VAMOOSE set me straight. (And I think there were moose there long ago -- the declined because of habitat loss, not because of the climate).

Various family crises kept me away until now, so I lost the chance to quote the melancholy Jacques. Despite knowing the speech well, I put in Moan first like everybody else.

@Nancy, you need either a big lawn, or better, an empty field in the neighborhood. If you grew up in NYC, I'm guessing those resources were not there for you. Maybe in some parts of Queens.

Do people think of YOGA as a fitness class? I thought it was about spiritual development -- well, maybe that's a kind of fitness.

Anonymous 2:53 PM  

@ Anon 11:50, Well said. We have lost some interesting posters who refused to be sheeple in this flock. Ah, the good old days.

Anonymous 3:00 PM  

@Z——-You get all worked up by these guys. That’s what they want. Don’t feed ‘em dude.

Banana Diaquiri 3:12 PM  

ASCAP gets the money by enforcing the copyrights.

"The American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP /ˈæskæp/) is an American not-for-profit performance-rights organization (PRO) that protects its members' musical copyrights by monitoring public performances of their music, whether via a broadcast or live performance, and compensating them accordingly."
the wiki, my emphasis

the clue is fully appropriate. copyright is furnished by the damn gummint.

QuasiMojo 4:47 PM  

@Nancy, I was merely adding some new info not commenting on anything you wrote. BUT I did miss the cue re Dowager Heights! ‘Zounds! I must find out more about this. The link on one google page didn’t work. Sounds fascinating. I will investigate further. :) Kudos! Sorry to go over my three per day limit folks.

Joe Dipinto 4:59 PM  

No one in the music business would describe Ascap as a "music copyright organization." It sounds stupid. Ascap collects and pays out royalties. That's its function.

Michiganman 5:16 PM  

What a good day! Fine, fun puzzle and the biggest controversy was whether chopping vegetables can be called ricing.

I tried to come up with a clue fitting the puzz theme. It's hard but...

Pressure in the Great Lakes State*
Extreme anger in the Great Lakes State**


Foppington 5:20 PM  

ACERS on Sunday, ACER today, does nobody actually play tennis any more, because if they did they'd know that's not a fargin' word unless you're buying an inexpensive PC.

JC66 5:21 PM  


How about French friend in the Great Lakes State?

Michiganman 5:29 PM  

I like it.

albatross shell 5:37 PM  

NEWAGER as NE WAGER makes perfect sense to me too. Maybe somebody knows where I picked this up (I have forgotten): Newage rhymes with sewage. Always pronounced it that way after reading it somewhere. I suppose I could be accused of being smug and insulting just like ""Little Boxes" was yesterday. Sometimes smug and insulting is the price of social satire - which has some value of its own.
Speaking of yesterday, I do not think Dylan ever became a "navel gazer". Found value even in his Christian songs.

Nancy 5:47 PM  

@Quasi -- I thought that would be enough, but if it isn't, use this link.

Barry Frain 5:49 PM  

Rex is starting to resemble Donald Trump: the shtick is a bore.

As a northern Californian I can attest that "new ager" and "new agers" were very common terms in the 1980s-90s. The last 10-15 years not so common.

Barry Frain,
East Biggs, CA

Fountains of Golden Fluids 5:50 PM  

Does anyone remember laughter?

Blind Idiot Hog 5:51 PM  

Anyone see the mouth-breathers at Trump's rally last night?

Mother Pence 5:55 PM  

Will someone please explain E. Buzz Wilson's daily "They're AC/DC switch hitters . . ."?

Is it an inside joke with the blog's regulars?

Anonymous 5:56 PM  

Rex says VAmoose is awkward because it doesn't fit the pattern. Can someone explain that? I don't see how it doesn't fit.

old timer 7:13 PM  

HEY FOLKS! Did it ever occur to you that OFL is like any other entertainer? Hia job is to provoke thoughts, and hopefully lots of good stories from the commentariat. In that, he succeeded, though I thought the puzzle was pretty good, and for a Tuesday surprisingly good.s

Like him I grew up without snow, in California. Unlike him, I knew about snowballs and snow forts. Must have been taken up to Mr Wilson one time or another. The mountains around LA get some snow, but in Westwood I can remember only one snowfall as a child. My mother woke me up to see it.

@Rex has been known to MEWL, which strikes me as a Britticism. He has definitely been known to whinge, another British word I would love to see in the puzzle.

David 7:52 PM  

NE Ager works as "Nevada wager" for me, but as "new ager" it's a description we used to use as a pejorative while we were eating shrooms. I like having a puzzle which finally uses official State abbreviations rather than the usual crosswordese convention of saying, "I have between 3 and 5 spaces to fill, I think I'll make up an abbreviation for some State. Hmmm, Nevada? 'Nevda" works fine! Yay!"

Rices? Yeah. No. Not a thing and most definitely not related to dices or any other cutting technique. I'm 62 years old and I've been cooking since I was 7; first in my mother's kitchen and later for 20 years in professional (and very good) restaurants in Boston and New York. I still cook almost every day. I have a ricer you can come and check out Sir Turkey. Pretty much every place I've worked has had a ricer. They're used to rice potatoes (and other things). "Hey, hand me the ricer." "Yeah, I riced the potatoes." The only way I can conceive of using "rices" is to say, in a bad, fake, upper class English accent, "One RICES the potatoes." Not going to happen in the wild.

I loved the downs; found them more satisfying than the theme answers, but still apparently had way more fun than Rex with the whole thing.

Space Is Deep 7:57 PM  

New Ager is definitely a thing. I've used the term in a derogatory way for years. Fun puzzle. Tricky theme for a Tuesday.

Anonymous 7:59 PM  

Two days in a row of Rex hating on men "trying too hard". Why the need to make it a gender thing? I don't understand the contempt here.

Loved today's puzzle.

Anonymous 8:53 PM  

I'm not sure if this was mentioned earlier, these are not just state abbreviations they are the USPS two letter state abbreviations.

Roo Monster 9:52 PM  

@David 7:52
Not to be a dick, but NE is Nebraska. NV is Nevada.


Patrise 9:54 PM  

I beg to differ, good sir, about the snowball fight. Long ago in the magical city of Detroit small kids with velvet leggings were shoved outside to play in snowy weather. We made the most of it when more than a few inches fell. This was more frequent, in these ancient days. Each end of the block carefully crafted their fort for maximum strategic advantage. In a normal cold winter some of these structures would evolve all winter long, our own well furnished igloos.

Banana Diaquiri 10:37 PM  

@Mother Pence:
Will someone please explain E. Buzz Wilson's daily "They're AC/DC switch hitters . . ."?

nasty slang for the bi-sexual subculture.

Rex says VAmoose is awkward because it doesn't fit the pattern. Can someone explain that? I don't see how it doesn't fit.

my guess: it's a verb form, while the rest are noun form.

Adam 11:48 PM  


Adam 12:03 AM  

It is definitely NE WAGER. That fits the clue, and makes the theme consistent. Nice puzzle.

Marie 5:58 PM  

At first the infant,. Mewling and puking in the nurse's arms;.
Not only in crosswords. Marie

kitshef 5:41 PM  

Lovely puzzle. We get a lost worse fill all the time.

Burma Shave 9:39 AM  

This makes 1500 consecutive days of verse:


Hey, SEEIFICARE about NEWAGERs’ beliefs:
CANOODLES aren’t rare when IT’SME who DEBRIEFS.


rondo 2:08 PM  

I’ve met TOM Pepper and he really is a nice guy. I liked this puz more than OFL, fewer themers might not benefit a puz with this type of gimmick. A MN nod to LOONS, TORO and the vanity item TOM. But no yeah baby. Good enough for Tuesday.

leftcoastTAM 2:28 PM  

Clever, enjoyable, relatively tough Tuesday--all a good way to be.

WASHROOMS initially revealed the state code gimmick (with the "British throne" LOO adding an international touch). All of the themers were good ones, with VAMOOSE standing out in the middle.

Long downs in the NW and SW also stood out as bonuses.

RICES and JULY were quick over-writes of dICES and JUne.

ZIPPY work by Tom Pepper.

leftcoastTAM 2:33 PM  

Congrats, Burma Shave. Amazing record of amusing posts--with no breaks!

Anonymous 2:48 PM  

Beaver State attacks tree = ORBIT

Anonymous 2:49 PM  

Such a good blend of challenge, fairness, and fun that I thought NO ONE could dislike it.

I'm beginning to believe that no Tuesday puzzle, by definition, will ever be any good in some eyes...

Diana, LIW 2:53 PM  

Whooray for BS - an admirable feat of feet. How to fete this accomplishment? All join in and foot the bill with a hip, hip hooray.

BS - do you dare to unmask your identity?

Lady Di

Z 3:04 PM  

Hip Hip Hooray!
Impressive {Darth Vader voice}
Rex doesn’t pay you enough.

rondo 6:30 PM  

Golden State/Peace Garden State/Gem State secret photo equipment:


  © Free Blogger Templates Columnus by 2008

Back to TOP