Noggin knocks / TUE 7-21-15 / Toast choice / Brazilian fruit export

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Constructor: David Phillips

Relative difficulty: just enough resistance encountered for a Tuesday

THEME: "It's in the bag" -- things that go in bags. 

Word of the Day: UNAGI (5D: Eel at a sushi bar) —
Unagi (うなぎ) is the Japanese word for freshwater eel, especially the Japanese eel, Anguilla japonica (nihon unagi 日本鰻 [1]). Unagi is a common ingredient in Japanese cooking. It is not to be confused with saltwater eel, which is known as anago in Japanese.
• • •
Not much zip to this theme idea: phrases beginning with things that have a kind of bag named for them:

Theme answers:
  • BOOK EM, DANNO (16A: *"Hawaii Five-O" catchphrase)
  • TEA PARTIER (22A: *Sarah Palin or Glenn Beck, e.g.)
  • ICE ROAD TRUCKERS (35A: *History channel show frequently set in Canada or Alaska) 
  • SANDCASTLE (45A: *Structure built from the ground up?)
  • IT'S IN THE BAG (56A: "We have this won" ... or what could be said about each of the first words of the answers to the starred clues) 
Nothing too exciting in this set (although I have seen a couple of ICE ROAD TRUCKERS episodes, gnarly show) and the reveal is a bit dated and not much of a payoff in terms of wordplay. Bookbag, teabag, sandbag -- but what's an icebag? Is that a bag of ice you buy from the store, or a bag you put ice in to keep an injury from swelling? Not as familiar as the others. Also slightly odd that the first one is a verb and the others are nouns.

Big tradeoff in the fill: five theme entries and just 72 overall entries in the grid, so, as with yesterday's puzzle we have a mixed -- well, a mixed bag. On the plus side:  BURMA, AENEAS, OSTRICHES, AUDACITY, DR. RUTH, AMERICAN (clued to the cheese, nice), ACAI BERRY, DECOUPAGE, REPHRASE and TMZ. I wanted to like JAMES KIRK but with the T. middle initial it Googles 9x better than without. An iconic middle initial like that really wants to be included.

But then...really too much dreck for a Tuesday: SPOSA at 3D was an eyebrow raiser early in the week. How'm I sposa know that? And there followed a bagful of SAO, orgs. NEA and NRC, the also Italian ORA (which should have been made ERA), foreign plurals ETAS and NEINS, ugly plurals ASSNS and SESS, OOX -- clued incorrectly as (Losing tic-tac-toe row); could be a tie, doesn't have to be a loss -- plus RET, TESSA, OJO and LIS. Makes me want to shout ARG!

Five theme entries are a lot, so the constructor should probably have gone with a less ambitious grid (76 or 78 words) and gotten a cleaner fill. You're already doing well with five theme entries, so unless you can completely kill it, usually better to play it a little more conservatively when filling the grid.

  • GEOFFREY (20A: Rush experienced during a movie?) -- Excellent use of a "masked capital letter" to hide the fact that "Rush" is a person. Did it fool you? 
  • AARP (63A: Part of AARP: Abbr.) — AARP doesn't stand for anything anymore, so technically this isn't right. I'm only pointing this out so Rex's commenters know I saw it. 
  • Nice mix of classical and contemporary knowledge in this one: AENEAS and TMZ, BACH and Wayne MANOR, The SIOUX and MTV
Wish I could be giving higher grades this week, but so far it's been a bit lackluster. I'll give this one a C for a dry theme and fill that was ambitious but much too ragged for an early-week puzzle.

And, check this out: blogmaster Rex totally got dissed by a couple of screenwriters on their podcast. The one guy calls him "not cool at all" (which is partially untrue) but then he walks it back and admits he digs Rex's crankiness. Punks! I dare you to say that to his face. Scroll down to the bottom or search the page for "Rex." 

Signed, Matt Gaffney, Regent of CrossWorld for four more days


jae 12:08 AM  

Tough for a Tues. for me.  Had Oily before OOZY and put in ASSoc at first for 46d  Grps. (missed seeing the plural).  Correcting that section added to the toughness. 

Pretty zippy theme answers (although I agree the theme itself is not all that scintillating) for a Tues. which for me offsets the fill compromises.  Liked it more than Matt did. 

Whirred Whacks 12:17 AM  

Fun-enough puzzle. I liked Capt. Matt's term "masked capital letter" in describing the GEOFFREY answer.

I think my ABS are getting a workout with all the times they've been used as answers in the past two weeks.

Interesting clue for the NEA ("org. that opposes student vouchers").

I once did a creativity seminar for the NEA and asked participants to make up some fun, offbeat mottos for their organization. My favorite:

"Lean to the left,
Lean to the left,
Stand up, sit down,
Strike, strike, strike!"

Anonymous 12:32 AM  


John August is a top screenwriter. Here's what he said about Rex:

"He sounds like an amazing character, so even though I could not care less about crossword puzzles, I will check out his site just because that persona you’re describing sounds amazing."

I think you'd better rethink your comments about them. Craig's comments were
in the end were more positive than negative.

Matt Gaffney 12:38 AM  


Wasn't being completely serious about the screenwriters...

Anonymous 12:44 AM  


That's one drawback with the printed word versus vocal.
Glad to see you weren't serious. John August is Tim Burton's
go-to guy for scripts.

Anonymous 12:55 AM  

This puzzle and JFC should both be bagged.

MDMA 12:55 AM  

The constructor perhaps should have avoided crossing UNAGI with AENEAS. OK for me, but iffy in principle. Shades of rhymes-with-hayrick.

Thomaso808 1:46 AM  

I really liked the complexity of this grid, with 10, 11, and 15 letter themes, two sets of parallel 9's, and some unexpected 6's thrown in for good measure.

The Captain always introduced himself as "Jim Kirk", so if you want to make it James, yes you should add the T. Interesting to see TIBER down below, perhaps trying to make up for missing T.

Whenever I see the word DECOUPAGE my brain on its own starts to think "décolletage" but then it remembers, oh yeah, the paper and glue thing.

I thought this was an excellent Tuesday, which is sometimes a hard target to hit. According to xwordinfo this is number 9 of Mr. Phillips' first year of puzzles. Keep 'em coming!

Martin 2:18 AM  

I don't really get OOX being incorrect as "Losing tic-tac-toe-row." A single row doesn't say anything about the outcome of the game. Either player could have won the game with OOX in a row. That row wouldn't win the game, of course, which I think is the clue's point. A tie outcome doesn't affect the clue's accuracy.

chefwen 2:22 AM  

On the tough side for me. Never heard of GEOFFREY Rush, ICE ROAD TRUCKERS was unheard of. All filled with crosses and a wee bit of Google. I hate doing that especially on a Tuesday. I hope that this is not an omen for the rest of the week. I did like the revealer and finding all of the bags.

Charles Flaster 6:17 AM  

Medium for a Tuesday. Theme was very cleverly placed as was the reveal.
ARCHIE was a personal favorite comic( loved Mrs. Grundy)as is Albert FINNEY.
Thanks DP.

Loren Muse Smith 6:43 AM  

Matt - "How am I sposa know that?" – good one. Good point, too, about BOOK being the only verb. Also – your WOD warned not to confuse UNAGI with anago (salt-water eel). I confused it once with "usagi" (rabbit), which made for a very weird exchange once. I really dug my heels in and was insisting an eel had just run in front of our car.

@jae - I had "gooy" first, wondering where the "e" went but stubbornly soldiering on.

Without looking at the clue, I actually wrote in "sex partner" for TEA PARTIER. Then I saw the clue and briefly fretted that I had missed something in the news.

And before I had sussed everything out (and had a ridiculous "NRA" for NEA) I put in "Ice Road Breakers" picturing guys with sledgehammers working on frozen roads. Finally saw AUDACITY and then considered an embarrassing "Ice Roads Quakers." Sheesh. What a show that would be, huh? But if you consider that American Stuffers (yeah, taxidermy), Amish Mafia, Bridalplasty, Dating Naked, Doomsday Bunkers, and Naked and Afraid (redundant for me) are all actual shows that I watch. . . ;-)

Loved the clues for MANOR, ICKIER, ETAS, and NAB.

What I liked about this theme/revealer is that David stuck to things that go inside a bag. That eliminates things like plastic, saddle, brown, duffle, gym… I also liked this twist on the classic theme that we see a lot where both parts of an entry can go before a word, BAG, say. PAPER MONEY, DIRT BIKE, HAND TOOL. The reveal was spot-on, and I liked it.

ring lardner 6:52 AM  

"Shut up", he explained.

Anonymous 7:00 AM  

A little harder than average for a Tuesday. Took me a minute and a half longer than my Tuesday average. I liked it, though. Having to think a little harder wasn't so bad for a Tues.

Susierah 7:11 AM  

Definitely harder than the average Tuesday. Fifteen minutes in, I thought I was not going to finish! I'm thinking "is this a Tuesday." Kept at it and finally got it all in 22 minutes

Carola 7:33 AM  

I also found it on the difficult side for a Tuesday, with BOOK 'EM DANNO and ICE ROAD TRUCKERS coming from crosses. Liked those long Downs a lot. I noticed one (TEA) LEAVE crossing BAG :)

Lewis 7:39 AM  

As @lms says, the theme isn't kinds of bags, it's things that go in a bag, so I don't see the ICE theme answer as an outlier. I would like to have seen GRASSCLIPPINGS or POTHOLDER as an answer. And at least this bagcentric theme avoided biddies.

The theme actually helped my solve, as I didn't get TEAPARTIER right away. I liked the beautiful DECOUPAGE and AUDACITY, and the clues for AMERICAN and GEOFFREY. At first when I saw as a clue "Get out of Dodge" I was trying to think of an automobile equivalent of "deplane" for, say, "Get out of a jet" -- is there such an equivalent?

There was some ugly fill for sure, and the theme was tepid, but beginning of the week appropriate. And the puzzle had a bit of bite which I enjoyed; it was on the harder end of Tuesday, but still too easy for a Wednesday. Overall, I had a good time with this!

Rex Porker 7:44 AM  

Glad Gaffney has learned from me:

A) Talk about stale, old-feeling theme. (he did miss a big opportunity to say something like "it reeks of the Maleska era," or, better yet, insult the readers of the blog by saying something like "solvers who are over the age of 90 probably enjoyed this one...")

B) Talk about how there were too few words which forced bad fill.

C) List said bad fill.

In a few more days, I can only hope that he learns to add more venom to his phrases, and perhaps launch some more personal attacks on the constructor (or alternatively, discuss how well he knows the constructor, if the review is positive).

Then, and only then, will he have achieved The Full Porker.

Mike D. 7:48 AM  

Thought using "DECorative" in the clue for DECOUPAGE was a faux pas.
Had hIdE before RIND.
Overall, an enjoyable and crunchy Tuesday.

crabsofsteel 7:50 AM  

I'm by no means fluent in German but shouldn't the plural of NEIN be NEINEN?

Aketi 7:53 AM  

@lms, I am ROFL over Yor admission to watching Dating Naked. I actually watched 5 minutes of Ice Road Truckers once, but I would not have believed that Dating Naked was a real show had it not been offered as inflight entertainment on Jet Blue.

My admission is that I loved My Friend FLICKA as a young girl, probably as much as Nancy loves GWTW

I like that a truncated version of TIBERius appears below JAMES KIRK even if it us one column to the left.

Billy C 7:54 AM  

@Matt &@LMS --

Re: " being the only verb."

What about "ice" and "sand?" From your post, I assume we're talking about the first word, not the whole phrase.

Lewis 7:58 AM  

Factoid: Don’t go near a male OSTRICH with red shins. He’s at his most aggressive then.

Quotoid: "Older people sit down and ask, 'What is it?' but the boy ASKS, 'What can I do with it?'." -- Steve Jobs

Aketi 8:00 AM  

@ thomas808, sorry, I missed that you spotted TIBER first!!

Anonymous 8:03 AM  

I thought it was just fine.

Anonymous 8:11 AM  

NW especially was very tough for a Tuesday for me, but it was a satisfying solve and I enjoyed it a lot. Thanks, Mr. Phillips!

Carola 8:12 AM  

@crabsofsteel - According to Duden, the standard German language reference, the plural of das Nein is die Nein or die Neins.

Dshawmaine 8:16 AM  

Liked the puzzle, liked the review too - as with Rex, MG (and commenters) pointed out aspects I hadn't noticed, which (one hopes) can only improve my xwording skills. Like Lewis, I loved the clue for GEOFFREY - that was my last entry because I had UNAmI which stymied me for a bit. Think the JAMESKIRK answer was fair given that that Tiberius was in the clue. An enjoyable puzzle - there were no groaners here (like NOES and DAST of recent memory).

Anonymous 8:21 AM  

Mike D. @ 7:48: You might even say it was in DECorous...

AliasZ 8:27 AM  

OOX is a losing row. No tic-tac-toe game can be won because of OOX. But I agree with @NCA Pres on Sunday: tic-tac-toe rows, winning or losing, should be outlawed along with random Roman numerals.

That aside, this one had its ups and downs, in my view about evenly distributed. I agree with Jeff Chen that "words that can be followed by X" themes are thankfully spaced out over the year because it is pretty tough to make them sparkle. This one had a half-glimmer about it because of the clever reaveler, but not much more. I enjoyed one of those words being disguised as a verb, but I think more sparkle could have been generated if at least one more was a verb, if not all four. Easy to do with ICE and SAND, not so easy with TEA.

I found it odd to see Tiberius in a clue and TIBER as an answer.

The fill seemed awkward in places during the solve, but some nice entries saved the day: OSTRICHES (what, no EMUS?), AENEAS, BACH, SATIE, GEOFFREY, DÉCOUPAGE, REPHRASE and a few others. A few repetitions from the last few days stuck out (tic-tac-toe row, ABS, NEINS, RIND). The "Whip It" however is one gorgeous dog.


Mark 8:47 AM  

I was stymied on the first theme answer because I was sure it was "DAN-O"—didn't even occur to me for a while that it could be "DANNO" I even considered "BOOKHIM" before finally figuring out what was required. Apaarntly I'm not the only one who thinks it's a four-letter word:

Z 8:48 AM  

Confidently ignoring that I already had THE BAG, I entered "in the" for the beginning of 56A. D'Oh. Quite the mess resulted. A little crunchier than usual for a Tuesday here.

@Billy C - BOOK 'EM DANNO uses BOOK as a verb. All the other themes are just nouns.

@Regent of Crossworld - I'd have added DECOUPAGE, OJO, and AENEAS to the blog tags. I doubt anyone will really need to google for "toast choice." Also, hard to tell if you were joking or just didn't see the clue for ETAS.

DR RUTH, TMZ, ICE ROAD TRUCKERS, MTV, rom-COMs, Tosh 2.0 VIDs, and replacing our Swiss with AMERICAN "cheese," finally a NYTX with a truly AMERICAN cultural vibe.

Of course, we do get our Romance language fill to give the puzzle a more continental feel, OJO, ORA, SAO, SPOSA, TESSA, Fleur de LIS.

Anonymous 8:51 AM  

Oh. Rex Porker is back. I was hoping he'd been gone forever after the four days of not showing up. Can't even bother to take a break the same week his namesake does.

Hartley70 8:52 AM  

Did not know BOOKEMDANNO or ICEROADTRUCKERS so that gave a Tuesday a nice bit of difficulty. I'm laughing at Matt's questionable ICEBAG. We all used ice bags before disposable plastic bags were invented, especially the delightful Glad zip-lock. They were fabric, shaped like an upside down mushroom and had a wide screw mouth at the bottom of the mushroom stem, which was the top of the bag. Ours was grey. You filled it with cubes and saved the environment before you knew it needed saving!

RAD2626 8:54 AM  

I thought this was a quite hard but very satisfying and well-constructed puzzle. And since, as has been pointed out, the theme is things that go in a bag, the criticism that it is words followed by "x" is misplaced. The puzzle is more creative than that. Also, for those who would have T in the middle of JAMES KIRK, I assume you would need to have it re clued as well. I think this effort deserves much better than a C, and is much better than yesterday.

BTW, when I take a Jet Blue flight I am always amazed at how many people are watching Dating Naked vs. the live programming or movies being offered.

Leapfinger 8:58 AM  

I had my slow brain on, so couldn't see the theme for the longest time. BOOK? TEA? BOOKer T? ICE TEA? Practically had to be SANDBAGged to get it.

Also tried to make UNAGI a little more UmAmI, which gave me ME OFF, REY. I'll be back soon with Reina.

Thought the DECOUPAGE clue misleading "for a Tuesday"; DECOUPAGE says "GLU" to me, while paper cut art is something different. There's some you could make out a paper BAG, but the really good paper-scissorers rock.

Oh, the AUDACITY of OOX!
I thought we could REPHRASE ICKIER fill like ARG, BUT if I have any NICKS to pit, they're largely in FINNEY TESSA mal. By puzzle's end, I was BACH to being SATIE-fied, and I SPOSA that's what it's all ABBOT.

Happy Tuesday and "BURMA Shave"

Nancy 9:01 AM  

Much more challenging than most Tuesdays, meaning I mostly liked it. A few opportunities for naticks, due to crossing proper names, but I got them all. Had one writeover with TEAPARTyER, but then I remembered my sushi menu for UNAGI and changed to an I. Didn't care about the meh theme and solved it as a themeless.

@Lewis -- the next time I see an OSTRICH with red shins, I'll know, now, to cross the street. Thanks for maybe saving my life.

@mathguy -- Your help much appreciated. I posted some comments to you late yesterday (which seem to have upset the usual suspects. Oh, well, can't win 'em all.)

GeezerJackYale48 9:05 AM  

Matt and Hartley: Am I the only one left who still has and uses an icebag? "They were fabric...ours was grey." Mine still is! Wow, I am even older than I thought!

jberg 9:08 AM  

Slow for me, because I knew hardly any of the proper names. Theme was OK; and I did like a lot of the fill, especially ICKIER.

@Loren, we have been moving closer to deciding to get a TV, and your list of programs will certainly influence our decision. Which direction it will push us, I'm not sure yet!

I've heard that SIOUX is considered an offensive term by the people it applies to, but I just checked Wikipedia, and it's apparently a little more complex. The word comes from Algonquian, via French, and it might mean 'snake' but it also might mean 'foreigner,' depending on which old word it derives from.

Are eels OK fill when they are Japanese?

Lydia 9:09 AM  

I finished this one (though in like Thursday time) because of Frank Zappa, who has a song called "Bob in Dacron", which is the only reason I know that DACRON exists. That saved me from having wInS instead of LIDS at 28D, which was the last thing I put in. Lots of things I had never heard of here, though I knew right away that the name RENEE meant "reborn" from having read the autobiography of Renee Richards, which is pretty fascinating read.

The Rhino 9:13 AM  

Don't know AENEAS or UNAGI, and for some reason put AnOn in for ASOF. UmAnI sounded like a thing, so I spent a long time hoping that 'neon-frey' was an exciting advance in movie-making that I had somehow missed.

All this to say, I had another DNF on a Tuesday. I've had a rough month or so of crosswords and am starting to think I'm just not that good at them. Fortunately, I have some work to do around the house and I know I am a god-awful handyman, so I will feel a burst of crossword-solving confidence by comparison.

Hartley70 9:16 AM  

Well here's the question @Jack...were you born in '48 or graduate in '48? In the former case you're old and in the latter you're really old. But it's so much better than the alternative and you still have really, really old to look forward to. (Oops, @GN) I'm right there with you!

BTW, Amazon can update your grey bag. It now comes in blue for only $6.

joho 9:18 AM  

@Matt Gaffney, thanks for posting the article mentioning @Rex. Now I realize why I come here regardless of how I feel about his frequent (almost daily) rants. It's to validate how I feel about the puzzle. It's really not about @Rex at all. His view of a puzzle is just a jumping off point for all of us to further explore our feelings. I used to be more interested in his take when he wasn't so negative. These days, most of the time, I appreciate what everybody else has to say more than his tired tirades. But I am thankful that he has created this site. Thank you, @Rex!

I really like the reveal, ITSINTHEBAG, and the clue for GEOFFREY was worth the price of admission, not to mention it's a great entry. DECOUPAGE and AUDACITY are really nice as well.

Nice job, David Phillips, thank you, too!

George Barany 9:19 AM  

With respect to 34-across in today's puzzle by @David Phillips: Cosmic convergence?

Ludyjynn 9:23 AM  

I thoroughly enjoyed this puzzle. Thought most of the clueing was creative and fresh, esp. 'for a Tuesday'.

I SPOSA that's because so many media references put this one smack in the middle of my wheelhouse.

Recently saw DRRUTH interviewed on PBS by Tavis Smiley. The woman is incredible. She hasn't lost a step and is still dispensing forthright, practical information on matters of intimacy. IMO, she's an AMERICAN treasure.

Don't care for the current version of "Hawaii Five-O". I can still hear the incomparable Jack Lord snarling, "BOOKEMDANNO", as they catch the perp in the original shows. Danno was played by the actress Helen Hayes' son, if memory serves.

Thanks, DP and WS.

Leapfinger 9:23 AM  

Contrary to popular Ms-conception, TEA Leoni is not a BAG lady.

@ring lardner, not sure I have your context, but I always loved that line.Nicely Nicely done.

A lot of our ortho patients had injuries that needed to be iced, and it was common practice to tell them to use a bag of frozen peas, since (a) that would conform easily whereever it was applied, (b) many households don't have icebags any more and (c) peas aren't as lumpy as icecubes. Of course, after a few thawings and refreezings, the peas were garbage. At some point, I thought of a better alternative: a ziplock baggie with a dishtowel folded inside and enough rubbing alcohol to wet it thoroughly. That remains flexible when frozen and can be refrozen N-tuple times. It also saves your peas.

Anonymous 9:25 AM  

A bit too hard for a Tuesday. Had to come back to it twice.

GeezerJackYale48 9:25 AM  

Hartley: Class of '48. Looking forward to being the oldest contributor to this site! Uh - unless I already am!

Brett Chappell 9:26 AM  

I enjoyed this puzzle, and got through it in just over seven minutes. I didn't get the theme until I actually finished it. My initial reaction to Palin and Beck was TEABAGGERS, but then I saw "or" instead of "and", and realized that the answer was singular. Haven't ABS been a recurring response the past few weeks? Perhaps that's seasonal as so many of us will be flashing them behind a layer of insulation at the beach this month.

Billy C 9:44 AM  

I confidently entered STUPIDSHIT for 22a.

Haiku Nerd 9:48 AM  


chefbea 9:56 AM  

Too tough for me..especially for a Tuesday. Too many posts to read now..will read them while waiting at the doctor's

I did get the theme right away..never heard of Geoffrey Rush

Ellen S 9:56 AM  

@Jberg, when I started this puzzle, I was thinking that ABS had replaced EELS as, what? "Required stale fill?" But then a little further in, I found they are not mutually exclusive. In my view, eels are eels, saltwater or fresh, dead or alive, Japanese or not. At a sushi bar you eat UNAGI, and at the gym you crunch -- well, at least this morning I didn't crunch AsS.

Will I ever learn to spell Fleur-de-lis? Why oh why do I always put a "y"?

Roo Monster 10:01 AM  

Hey All !
The whole verb-noun discussion was confusing, until @Z explained the usage as the whole phrase. Aha, thanks for that @Z! I was thinking just the first words, which were all nouns. My brain is already starting to hurt... :-)

The puz seemed a bit harder than your average Tuesday. Thought I knew the sushi eel, apparently not. Had UmAmI, knew it probably wasn't right, although I know umami is a thing. Also, like @The Rhino, had AnOn at first, thus giving me the same nEOnFREY, and asking myself what on earth kind of Rush I've been missing while watching movies? :-) Do know of GEOFFREY Rush, haven't seen him in some time. I've watched a few of those "naked" shows, Dating Naked is just gratuitous, whereas Naked & Afraid is quite intense.

Overall a good TuesPuz. Agree with Matt about the ORA should have been ERA. Had some Scrabblization in the NE corner. Low dreck, always nice. It's funny, I don't mind RRN's, but the Tic Tac Toe clues are wonky. OOO, OOX, OXO, OXX, XXX, XOX, XXO, XOO. But that's just me.


Jamie C. 10:23 AM  

@Haiku Nerd: one of your best yet! Keep it up!

JFC 10:41 AM  

Rex has abandoned his creation. Anonymous posters are destroying it. I mentioned last week that I have access to the names and locations of the so called "anonymice" here. I wonder what I might do with such information? While this seems extreme for a crossword blog site that Rex has every right to run as he wishes, I, as the defender of all things crossword, feel the need to act the hero, so I will continue to post here and hope Rex chips in and gets this site functioning again.

wreck 10:57 AM  

I feel your pain, but unless you create your own Blogger account, you really don't have a leg to stand on. Someone could still fake your identity, but it would be much harder and more controllable.

mathguy 10:59 AM  

I liked it quite a bit. I don't get what Matt terms dreck. The only dreck I encountered was OOX, but I'm not a constructor. There did seem to be a lot of short words: 18 threes and 16 fours, @r.alphbunker can probably tell us if that is atypical. I suppose that ABS now qualifies as dreck because it is appearing so often.

Today's most mystifying post, @anon 8:03: "I thought it was just fine."

@Nancy: I just saw your post from late yesterday. Thanks for the compliment. I loved Ring Toss but it does have a fault. It is four independent puzzles weakly tied together with DONT WORRY BE HOOPY.

Billy C 11:02 AM  

@FauxBillyC9:48 ---

Get offa my turf!

--the Real Billy

Joseph Michael 11:04 AM  

Either I woke up stupid or this was a really hard Tuesday. Made me feel OOZY.

Had many creative spellings for UNAGI which resulted in my missing the brilliant clue for GEOFFREY and consequently DNF.

This theme type makes for an ICKIER kind of puzzle, but some good fill here and there helped make it somewhat enjoyable.

Favorite themer: BOOK EM DANNO

Least favorite answer (among many others): SPOSA

Leapfinger 11:10 AM  

@Mark, I agree that whole BOOK 'em/'im/him, Danno/Dan-o business is pretty pleiomorphic. That's one of several places it's best to adopt a wait & see attitude. Haven't seen it written anywhere, so I favour him or 'im, since the perp usually is singular.

DR RUTH (all 55" of her) is an AMERICAN treasure via Germany, Switzerland, (the then) Palestine and France. She immigrated to AMERICA in 1956, and still lives in Washington Heights, Manhattan. A favourite partial quotoid of hers mentions having activities 'in a haystack without contraception'; I've no idea how that haystack got to be involved without contraception.

Reached my limit.

Questinia 11:10 AM  

How Johnny Cash Was Nearly Killed By An Ostrich In 1981

🎶 "Don't see that OSTRICH comin' 🎶
🎶 Comin' 'round the bend 🎸
Haven't seen them @Lewis
red shins since
I don' know when....🎶

Questinia 11:10 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
MDMA 11:28 AM  

@Ellen S,

LIS and Lys are equally correct variants.

"Lys" has appeared in NYT crosswords too, at least twice in 2014 and three times in 2013.

David G 11:29 AM  

I don't get the cluing for 9A, OJO: "Eye of the tigre?"

Anonymous 11:32 AM  

Tigre is spanish for tiger and OJO is spanish for eye.

JFC 11:33 AM  

@wreck, thx but that JFC isn't me. Whoever it is obviously has some issues.


Tita 11:38 AM  

ICE pack, yes... ICE bag, not a thing.
Other than that, fine puzzle. Felt very hard for a Tuesday.
Liked ICKIER and OOZY, Thoughh I had oOiY(!) for a while cause I thought the show was TMi...gossip is by definition TMI, no?

Thanks Mr. Philips and thanks Mr. Gaffney for your write ups!

Masked and Anonymous 11:49 AM  

"Book em, sand em and ice em, Danno!"
"Oh, and I'm powerful thirsty -- tea me, Danno."

This TuesPuz had spunk. Plus, 4 U's.
Sure, it coulda gone with the easy-ERA, at 55-A. Sure, it coulda sawed off some of them pretty 9-footers, goin Down in the NE and SW. Sure, it coulda gone with fewer themers. But, instead, stuff was appropriately and painstakinly weighed on the Scales of Puzdom Justice:

*Side 1: Solider. Smoother. Stubbier. SESS-less. TEA-less. Tuesday-er.
*Side 2: Feistier. **Desperater**. Wide-Opener. Funkier. Baggier. Spunkier.

No contest, dude. Right pick, Mr. Phillips. Spunky choice.

NEINS? TESSA? Oh, but I second-guess…

fave weeject stax: OJO-SAO-TMZ. Tough call, since ORA-ARG-RYE did contain something U could get bagged on.

How do U know when it's way past time to give up on trying to stage one of dem dere coups?*



**gruntz, written by a first-grader*!*

Nancy 12:01 PM  

To @Ludy, @Leapy, and other DR. RUTH admirers. Don't mean to burst your bubble but..

About 10-12 years ago, I went, out of mild curiosity, to the most expensive designer floor at Bergdorf's. I had recently read an article about "Bergdorf blondes," and wanted to see how the other half lived. I was not disappointed. The women there -- all women, except for the sugar daddies -- had fabulous bodies, fabulous hair and sported fabulous clothes and fabulous shoes. They carried fabulous handbags. With one small -- very small -- exception. I might have missed her, except for the voice. There is no other voice in the world anything like it. DR RUTH was holding court in the middle of the floor. Sales women were whizzing around her in droves. And she was giving detailed instructions. Bring me this, bring me that. Her tone was bossy. Her manner was imperious. Her mien was self-satisfied. Her attitude was entitled. And not the slightest trace of humor or good-nature was anywhere to be seen. I found everything about her completely off-putting and have never been able to watch her on TV again in the same way I did before. Just sayin'.

David G 12:06 PM  

Thanks, @ Anon 11:32am.

But if that's really the whole explanation, what a pitiful clue.

Masked and Anonymous 12:09 PM  

@The Gaffneymeister: yes, yes. Bullets! One of em with "masked" in it, even. Made M&A's day. Do y'all ever consider gradin runt puzzles? NO? Hoped not.


Where's my gruntle? 12:10 PM  

I don't suppose anyone has a problem with having Ring Toss spoilers being tossed around with gay abandon?

old timer 12:20 PM  

I had a hard time with DANNO because I've always thought it was Dan-o. I found a discussion on that very issue here:

The consensus was for DANNO.

I started the puzzle thinking it was way easy. Everything through 28A went in like flash, and then I could not remember ICEROADTRUCKERS at all. For a while I thought it might be "the road to" somewhere. So the reveal at 56A ended up being helpful. TEA comes in bags. That confirmed SANDCASTLE for me, therefore AUDACITY, therefore TRUCKERS, and when I remembered ICE can be in a bag, the puzzle was solved. I had no idea ACAI comes from Brazil.

One thing I love about the NYT puzzle is that it assumes you have a working knowledge of French and some basic knowledge of Spanish and Italian. Which I do -- 4 years of Spanish in high school, an intensive French course in college which made me want to read books in French, and I can get along OK with Italian -- certainly know SPOSA, for instance. If you are not a language maven, then probably OJO was the hardest word in the puzzle. SPOSA comes up often enough in English stories set in Chiantishire.

Reading for Comprehension 101 12:24 PM  

As a few people have pointed out, it's things that go IN bags, not the bags themselves.


D'you sposa thatsa why the reveal is ITS IN THE BAG?

AliasZ 12:36 PM  

Robert Casadesus (1899-1972) and Gaby Casadesus (née L'Hôte, 1901-1999) was a French pianist couple of great importance and tremendous talent. Robert often collaborated with Maurice Ravel, and is considered the premiere exponent of his piano music, as well as a superb Mozart interpreter. Gaby was friendly with Claude-Emma ('Chouchou') Debussy, daughter of Claude Debussy, until her untimely death during the diphtheria epidemic in 1919, one year after her father's passing.

Their son Jean Casadesus (1927-1972), also a talented pianist who performed with George Szell and the Cleveland Orchestra, Eugene Ormandy and the Philadelphia Orchestra, died in a winter car accident in Canada.

Their pedigree and impeccable pianism places Robert & Gaby Casadesus among the best performers of Mozart, as well as the French piano repertoire. Here they perform Trois morceaux en form de poire (three morsels in the shape of a pear) for piano 4 hands, by Erik SATIE. The movements are: Manière de commencement (MANOR of commencement), Prolongement du même (extension of same), I, II, III, (consecutive Roman numerals), En plus (in addition) and Redite (restatement).

OOX, Dr. Westheimer!

Steve J 12:43 PM  

@Lewis: I think the theme is tighter than "things that go in bags". At just that level, it invites all kinds of green paint. Pretty much anything can go in a bag. Including cans of green paint.

The theme is tighter, at least as evidenced by what items the constructor used. They're all things we commonly find in bags. And, with one exception, they're things that have common noun-bag constructions. With the items the constructor chose, it did create an anomaly with "ice", even if the revealer hints that it could have been any old thing that happens to be in a bag.

And, yes, that irregularity took some polish off the theme for me. It was still a fairly decent Tuesday puzzle overall.

Masked and Anonymous 12:51 PM  


@The Gaffneymeister: Sorry to keep buggin U. Forgot to mention that Hell, yeah, that masked capital in that GEOFFREY "Rush" clue fooled the pants clean off of M&A.

Re: ICEBAG. Has Patrick Berry Usage Immunity. He clued it as: {First-aid item}. See 15 Oct 2000 NYT SunPuz. Didn't want anyone here to hurt themselves, over nuthin.


Anonymous 1:02 PM  

Perhaps the clue should be "non-winning tic tac toe row".:

ANON B 1:18 PM  

Is American a SUBstitute for Swiss?

Billy C 1:21 PM  


Re: disappointment at TV personalities.

I have the same reaction to Michael Richards (Seinfeld's neighbor Cosmo Kramer).

Several years ago there was quite a press flap about some pretty ugly racist comments to a patron in a club where he was doing a stand-up routine. Apparently the patron had been heckling him for quite a while and finally Richards exploded. Immediately after, he realized his error, apologized profusely. A few days later when Seinfled was scheduled as a guest on Letterman, he had Richards brought in on a remote to apologize again.

I'd like to think that I'd never do something like this. But I think the truth is that most of us have some sub-surface prejudices about several ethnic/national/gender/regional groupings, and with sufficient prodding, they're apt to surface. So maybe I need to cut Michaels some slack. But your experience with Dr. Ruth seems to indicate something more that an occasional mode of behavior on her part.

Hartley70 1:53 PM  

@Nancy I had a somewhat similar experience with Diane Sawyer, whose mien on television is extremely amiable. I suppose we all have our "moments", excepting Michael Richards of course, who just went beyond.

@Tita and Steve, go to Amazon and put an ice bag in your cart. You're both just a couple of young 'uns

@Lydia, speaking of Renee, Drs. Rashkind and Muchnick were my opthalmology practice in the 70's. What a @kerfuffle and how times have changed.

Billy C 2:00 PM  

I am an amateur psychiatrist, so I have the expertise to make the judgment that Michael Richards is not a racist but Dr. Ruth is, indeed, a diva.

Dr. Roth 2:06 PM  

Insisting that people conform to our vision of them leads inevitably to disappointment, and to an appreciable fraction of all divorces.

Tita 2:08 PM  

@Lewis... Yes, it's things that go in bags, but the resulting phrase is supposed to be at
Standalone thing...

Otherwise, answers could be ORANGECRUSH or PINCUSHION or virtually any object on the planet. In fact, one could be PLANETOFTHEAPES.

Not important at all, but I wanted to click on email posts to me...

chefbea 2:18 PM  

@Tita didn't your mother have an ice bag??Mine did for booboos and such

Charles kluepfel 2:34 PM  

very tough Tuesday: UMAGI crossing AENEAS and GEOFFREY. And how does AS OF relate to Since? As of now (i. e. up to now, just the opposite of since) I hadn't heard that usage. And AMERICAN for swiss subs is just too crosswordsy for a Tuesday.

The Rhino 2:57 PM  

@nancy and @hartley70: The nice thing about living in small town Minnesota is celebrities don't show up in our shopping centers. And, since it is rare for us to have to deal with their humanity, we don't have to give up our illusions. I think everyone's happier that way.

Although Paula Poundstone did a show in our local theater once and she was, by all accounts, quite pleasant.

Anonymous 3:00 PM  

Are this many regulars on this blog, who presumably do puzzles every day, complaining that it was too hard? Puh-LEASE!

r.alphbunker 3:56 PM  


Here is my report on today's puzzle. MG's dreck comments are in red.

It would be interesting to have a crowd-sourcing project where solvers can tag clue/answers with a set of predefined categories. Some possible categories are, "masked capital letter", "plural of convenience", "irregular plural", etc.

The solver could push a button to get a random clue/answer pair to tag.

Enid Bagnold 4:02 PM  

@Charles Kluepfel, as of January this year, I've had my hair cut three times,and each time she cuts it shorter and shorter.

@AliasZ, I loved your "MANOR of commencement". Ça marche avec FINNEsse.

Whirred Whacks 4:10 PM  

@Nancy 12:01PM

As a result of Dr. Ruth's visit, Bergdorf's changed their motto to:
"The customer always comes first."

Lewis 4:49 PM  

@tita, @stevej -- I agree that the theme is things that commonly go in bags, and that I was not specific enough in my description. And while David's comments indicate that he meant for the theme answers fit into the "noun-bag" category, all we solvers have to go by is the reveal, "It's in the bag". My interpretation is that "things that commonly go into a bag" -- books, tea, sand, ice -- is good enough for this reveal, and the fact that "icebag" is not a common term, kind of confirmed that for me. But your stricter interpretation is certainly as valid -- if not more so, given the constructor's comments -- as mine. I think either interpretation is okay.

Nancy 5:09 PM  

@Where's my gruntle (12:10) -- I owe you an apology and I'm truly sorry. I've never forgiven the classmate who, more than 50 years ago, revealed the twist to Agatha Christie's play, the Mousetrap, two days before I saw it on B'way. But, guess what -- I have joyous news for you, @gruntle, and other long-suffering people on this blog. The best sleuth amongst all of us gave me this morning, over the phone, @mathguy's private email. How she came up with it, I have no idea. @Mathguy isn't even in blue, for heaven's sake. But she's never, ever wrong! And since mathguy seems to be the main solver of various really tough Times Variety puzzles, and possibly the only future source I'll ever need, I will probably not need to burden anyone else on this blog in such a manner ever again. Again, my apologies. Mathguy, you'll be hearing from me soon, off-blog, you really, really smart man!

Z 5:15 PM  

ICE bag caused no problem for me, since R.I.C.E. treatments includes an ICE bag of some sort (that's Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation - standard treatment for all sorts of sport related minor injuries).

I was surveyed by the NYT asking me about the likelihood of their all-digital offerings getting me to stop my print delivery. I noted that in the course of the survey specific reference was made to the crossword. Interesting. This reinforced my opinion from last week that Shortz is adding to their bottom line.

Technical jargon 5:46 PM  

To be precise, the I in R.I.C.E. doesn't have to be ICE, just cold: Cold enough to cause some shrinking of the post-traumatic swelling and to help numb the nerve endings of pain receptors. The cold treatment should be cyclic rather than prolonged, with short periods of cold alternating with periods of re-warming. Re-warming after chilling is accompanied by a rush of reactionary vasodilation, and the increase in circulation helps flush away the evil humors and associated gremlins.

Nancy 6:02 PM  

Have you heard this one? A man goes to his orthopedist, complaining of a painful shoulder. "What should I use, Doc, heat or ice?" "Ice," says the doctor. "Definitely ice."

"That's funny, Doc. My cleaning woman says heat."

The doctor looks annoyed. "Well, MY cleaning woman says ice!"

NYer 7:16 PM  

I too have an ICEBAG! And it's light blue!

By the way, can someone please explain "green paint" ?

Obvious Man 7:50 PM  

@Nyer: It's paint that's green.

NYer 8:04 PM  

@obvious man, are you new to this blog?

Anonymous 8:32 PM  

@NYer - "green paint" describes a phrase that really isn't a phrase that stands alone. Yes, there is such a thing as green paint, but green paint isn't a "thing" the way "wet paint" is a thing.

NYer 8:43 PM  

@anonymous8:32 - thanks, that's what i was looking. I subsequently found Rex's explanation in a 2013 blog.

NYer 8:45 PM  

Loking for, i mean.

Obvious Man 8:45 PM  

Gee, @ NYer, think maybe you could have figured it out before asking a stupid question?

Apologizing for others 10:09 PM  

NYer, sorry about 'Obvious Man'. There are one or two unpleasant posters on here that go by any number of names. They seem very unhappy and spend most of their time abusing others. Most of us are not like that. Best thing to do for now - ignore all the posts that don't have a blue link (this one excluded).

mac 10:35 PM  

Thanks for the link to the podcast, @Matt!

kitshef 11:22 PM  

@LMS - I found your description of your gyrations fascinating and funny.

Not that ICE bag needs to be a thing to fit the revealer, but I'm surprised that people continue to question whether it is a real thing, even after several posters have said they have one. Perhaps you will believe

I thought it was pretty good. The good fill was of sufficient quality and quantity to overlook the bad fill.

I do hate the recent trend of tic-tac-toe answers.

Tita 12:44 AM  

@mathguy - how about side-by-side visual comparisons of your solve along with your friends' solves, showing your paths through the puzzle, comments you made along the way, when you got stuck and stared, when you flew...
Tag clues/fill, as @r.alph said - Pop Culture, Sports, xwordese, RRN, Gimme...
Contact me through my profile if you want to learn more about doing this...

@Lewis - @kitshef's link shows one ICE bag that is called the "Lewis Ice Bag"!!!
I stand most humbly and gratefully corrected.

Nebraska doug 2:20 AM  

Extremely difficult, for a Tuesday.

oldbizmark 9:31 AM  

No one had a problem with "SKED?!" That is a BS word/abbrev. That is all.

Anonymous 2:33 AM  

Aren't "sand" and "ice" adjectives describing castle and road?

spacecraft 2:18 PM  

I regret having to slap a puzzle with entries like OSTRICHES and AUDACITY, but the price was too high. SESS, really? OOX??? ASSNS was bad enough. Was there no other way to do this? SKED? Both OOZY and ICKIER.

I have never understood the point of "reality" shows like ICEROADTRUCKERS or Deadliest Catch. So, a bunch of guys losing their tempers. Real entertainment. Please.

A plethora of capitalized entries, horrid fill...I'd fail this one if not for a few good longer fill items. Duck, Patty! here comes another


Anonymous 2:23 PM  

I don't usually do Mon & Tue puzzles but a quick glance at a few clues started me on the way.

It went quick with no look-ups and those names I didn't know filled themselves, like MTV and James Kirk and sposa and Renee.

Didn't much care for oozy, ickier but the rest was just OK.

Ron Diego, La Mesa, CA
(Where flash mobs never sing, "The sun will come out tomorrow" because it always does).

Anonymous 2:25 PM  

He hid the microfilm ONSITE in the SANDCASTLE made of AMERICAN terra firma,BUT ASOF now ITSINTHEBAG so please BOOKEMDANNO, lest he SKIP off to BURMA. REPHRASE by TESSA FINNEY. I’m SPOSA get a shave with that WWII conquest.

rondo 2:40 PM  

Yeah, it’s Tuesday and vacation’s over. Back to the grind, but I’m sure I’ve seen it spelled DANO before. But, whatevs.

Is AMERICAN really a “kind” of cheese? Or just a mix? I never eat it, as it sounds made up.

Cheryl LADD was always my favorite of the TV Angels, yeah baby. Sorry Farrah.

There’s a half of a nod to @BS in the top center, if there is ever any end to the double secret probation.

Don’t have cable or satellite (yeah, one of that 1%), but have heard enough about ICEROADTRUCKERS to get that easily enough.

Well, SIOUX me if I didn’t love this puz; got up on the right side of BED and had the AUDACITY to go back to work. Bad mood ensues.

Burma Shave 2:44 PM  

Hey, BURMA made the NYT puzzle!

leftcoastTAM 4:47 PM  

Tough Tuesday, but finally found my way. G in the GEOFFREY/UNAGI cross was the last letter to go.

Other too-slow-to-come crosses were SKED/DEVO, MTV/VID, and OJO/JAMESKIRK.

Yesterday was a very easy Monday; today definitely balanced the accounts. Will tomorrow's come in average? Stay tuned.

Cathy 5:14 PM  

Hey! A happy Tuesday and "BURMA shave" from @leapfinger 8:58 a.m. Awwww:)

I'm with @spacecraft with a D-

To add to list of cranky "celebrities". Bill Maher. Some people like him... but boy oh boy, don't get near him behind scenes..........Jimmy Kimmel? Awesome.

My cats build SAND CASTLES in their private area in the back yard. Then they bury them like time capsules for the future! It's amazing!
I'm happy there isn't any OSTRICHES around.

Gentle Koele 8:09 PM  

Congrats on elevating the discussion with brilliant repartee. Off to your Mentos meeting...

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