Star Trek TNG lounge / WED 9-9-15 / Henley crewman / Sherlock Holmes Appurtenance / Simpsons watering hole / Makes every bite better salad ingredient

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Constructor: Michael Hawkins

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging (just 'cause of the fictional place names...)

THEME: TV eatery/drinkery places

Theme answers:
  • CENTRAL PERK (17A: "Friends" coffeehouse)
  • MOE'S TAVERN (21A: "The Simpsons" watering hole)
  • MEL'S DINER (29A: "Alice" eatery)
  • MACLAREN'S (43A: "How I Met Your Mother" pub)
  • TEN FORWARD (54A: "Star Trek: TNG" lounge)
  • THE PEACH PIT (59A: "Beverly Hills 90210" restaurant)
Word of the Day: ZAPOTEC (42D: People of Oaxaca Valley, Mexico) —
The Zapotecs (Zoogocho Zapotec: Didxažoŋ) are an indigenous people of Mexico. The population is concentrated in the southern state of Oaxaca, but Zapotec communities exist in neighboring states, as well. The present-day population is estimated at approximately 800,000 to 1,000,000 persons, many of whom are monolingual in one of the native Zapotec languages and dialects. In pre-Columbian times, the Zapotec civilization was one of the highly developed cultures of Mesoamerica, which, among other things, included a system of writing. Many people of Zapotec ancestry have emigrated to the United States over several decades, and they maintain their own social organizations in the Los Angeles and Central Valley areas of California. // There are four basic groups of Zapotecs: the istmeños, who live in the southern Isthmus of Tehuantepec, the serranos, who live in the northern mountains of the Sierra Madre de Oaxaca, the southern Zapotecs, who live in the southern mountains of the Sierra Sur, and the Central Valley Zapotecs, who live in and around the Valley of Oaxaca. (wikipedia)
• • •

The theme is both tight and loose. All TV shows, so that's good, and all reasonably modern TV shows at that. But some are bars, some are restaurants, one's a coffee place. I have no idea what TEN FORWARD is (far and away—and then more away—the most obscure of the bunch), but presumably people hang and socialize and consume ... stuff. Why these restaurant/coffeehouses/bars and not others? I don't know. Probably they just fit, symmetrically. Shrug. It's an OK concept. The fill remains a problem, though when you get a lead-in like yesterday's puzzle, no one (but me) is gonna complain. Still, I stopped almost immediately to take a bracing deep breath after ASCAN ... honestly, there's no reason for that cruddy a partial to be in a relatively small corner like that. Fill is already not great up there, with SHOOED and MER and ALIT all rating at least a tad subpar, so ASCAN ... it just reeks of "it'll do," which is *so* often true of the NYT.

Maybe I'm just mildly resentful because I'm having to rework grids over and over (for a different ed., obvs.) just to get rid of one or two not-great things (yes, there exist editors who will make you do that). Just last week, I had a great corner except it had the abbr. ATH. and the ed. was like "... nah." "But it's been in the NYT a bunch of times!!!!!" "Nah. Fix it?" Yes, sure, fix it. I've killed foreignisms and Saarinens and whatever WINY is ... all because an editor has loved my theme but *insisted* the grid be the best it can be. Doesn't mean I don't get a howler or two in there occasionally, but in the main, it's redo redo redo until its polished, and polished in a way where you don't have to be an old pro (crosswordese collector) to get it. MII ... INEZ (as clued) ... EERO APODPERTER? Even CALE, with its very narrow and entirely old-skewing cluing possibilities, I would eliminate if possible. You can work these out. I don't quite understand why there are cheater squares in the NE and SW (the symmetrical extra black squares below ERIN and above TIDE) and we're still dealing with MII? To be clear, the fill today is OK—NYT average. But I'm still a bit startled at how often musty stuff is allowed to linger.

On the plus side, ZAPOTEC is pretty lively, the longer Downs less so. SOME NERVE and LAID AN EGG are acceptable, but kind of olde-timey. HOTTEAS feels pretty iffy as a plural. Do they still make BACOS? SLAPDASH and "ADAM'S RIB" do give the grid a bit of character. So ... interesting if loose-ish theme, occasionally interesting if too often tired fill.

Gotta go watch the premier of Colbert's "Late Show" now, if I can stay up. That Williams v. Williams match kind of took it out of me.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

PS I have no idea, and I mean none, what the clue on TONIC thinks it's doing (3D: Soft drink, in the Northeast). I live in the Northeast. Nobody calls soft drinks "tonics." My gin & tonic has absolutely no soft drink in it. Either this is a hyper-regionalism or ... or I don't know what.

PPS I love that the NYT crossword is now trolling (I assume) the slavering, sputtering Obama-haters who complain every time he's in the puzzle. See clue on EBONY (25A). Fantastic. More please.

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


jae 12:29 AM  

Easy for me except for the stuff around TENFORWARD.  Did not know TENFORWARD or ZAPOTEC,  FOR HER was tough to see, plus DEAdEN before DEAFEN was not a good thing.

Knew 4 out of 6 (THE PEACH PIT was the other WOE).

Any puzzle with TV hang outs that includes MOE's has gets a liked it from me.  Plus, the fill wasn't that bad.  BACOS more than compensates for MII.

Z 12:33 AM  

👍🏻👍🏻 (two thumbs up) on the 25A clue.

TEN FORWARD was a gimme. MCLARENS and THE PEACH PIT were the only two to give me pause. Still, a theme of the most trivial of trivia? Pass.

This. No, it's not from The Onion.

Hays 12:37 AM  

To just comment on the one thing: my grandfather, who is 102 and from a small town just north of Boston, used to call all sodas tonics. None of my uncles do, for what it's worth *shrug*

Elaine2 12:51 AM  

Soft drinks are called "tonic" in the Boston area (a little farther north-east...)

Ten Forward is the lounge/hangout/whatever on the USS Enterprise, NCC-1701D (Next Generation). Whoopi Goldberg plays the bartender Valid cultural reference, I think...

Steve J 12:55 AM  


Anonymous 1:14 AM  

I would consider tonic water to be a soft drink (by itself), but we have plenty of it on the west coast, so I don't get the northeast reference either.

Anonymous 1:38 AM  

Tonic:new englamd, pop:Midwest,soda:south

chefwen 2:30 AM  

Never watched How I Met Your Mother, Star Trek, or Beverly Hills 90210 so three up, three down. Pretty easy to fill around the unknowns. I did end up with The Peace Pit at 59A??? Guess Peace Pipe was stuck somewhere in the gray matter. I think I like Peace Pit better. RANCHER showed me the way.

Now ya'all know what kind of tripe I DO watch.

Loren Muse Smith 4:42 AM  

CENTRAL PERK and MEL'S DINER are the only ones I was familiar with, but I knew MOE was a Simpsons bartender, and MACLARENS and THE PEACH PIT fell easily. I had a dnf because of the ZAPOTEC/FOR HER/TEN FORWARD crosses because I was never going to see past some kind of WARD for the Star Trek lounge and one word for the gift shop section. Now that I see it, I feel dumb, especially because I had contemplated HER for the nautical pronoun.

"Wave" before TIDE had me thinking the TNG place was maybe "Waffle Ward," and I was all, "Wow. Maybe I should watch some reruns." (I guess TIDE could've had the same clue as ERA, huh?)

Also had "gas" before AIR because, well, yeah. Snicker, snicker.

The owners of the ballroom dance studio where I took lessons always brought their DOG, Ginger, a bossy little border collie (redundant?) that I never managed to completely win over. You'll never find a perter herder, man.

This one doesn't have the wordplay I always appreciate, but I agree with Rex – LAID AN EGG and SOME NERVE WERE fun. Gotta get in early to grade some papers. Cheers!

TokyoRacer 5:54 AM  

God forbid anyone who doesn't watch a lot of TV, or lives abroad, should try to do a NYT crossword. There should be a disclaimer at the top of this one:
Note: If you don't watch a lot of American TV, you won't enjoy, or even be able to do, this puzzle.

Anonymous 6:36 AM  

Yes, tonic is a hyper-regionalism. Probably limited just to Boston, and even then we're talking my parent's generation (40-50 years ago).

Anonymous 6:48 AM  

It's really just in the Boston area where soft drinks are called "tonics." Further west in Massachusetts it's "soda." Down east in Maine I don't think they call them "tonics." So the clue is wrong.

Anonymous 7:37 AM  

NYT really needs to stop it with the arbitrary years. CMII yesterday, and now MII today. MII is especially annoying because you could clue that as "Nintendo avatar" and it would immediately become an actual thing rather than random letters needed to make the corner work.

Glimmerglass 7:46 AM  

I grew up just north west of Boston in the 1940s. No one said TONIC there. I remember my mother making fun of a disadvantaged woman who referred to the contents of a punch bowl as "tawnik," but it certainly wasn't her word. Perhaps, as early commenters have said, it's just Boston.

Gubdude 7:50 AM  

Pretty easy for me but I watch a lot of TV. The BACOS/IROC crossing threw me for a bit, as well as the north. Figured PUPA had to be right and INEZ was a name I knew so went with that.

I actually submitted a 'TV Catchphrase' puzzle to the NYT that was rejected due to the theme not being interesting. I guess TV Locations > TV Catchphrases.

Jennifer Freeman 7:53 AM  

I've watched a few of these shows a few times but was not familiar with any of the hangouts' names. Using crosses and guesses all were doable. The Star Trek reference was the most difficult imho.

AliasZ 7:56 AM  

This one almost rivaled a TV Guide puzzle.

PERTER -- Ex-Genesis Gabriel forgetting how to spell his first name.
APOD -- Alex Rodriguez forgetting how to spell his nickname.
ASCAN -- Composite of two words meaning the same thing.
AZKABAN -- Law forbidding ASCAN for ever appearing in a puzzle again.

Best thing in the puzzle: the cluing for EBONY. America's sweethearts.

elitza 8:02 AM  

Deck Ten, all the way forward. Fun Fact: Whoopi Goldberg idolized Nichelle Nichols, who played Uhura in the original Star Trek series. When Uhura appeared onscreen, Whoopi ran to her mother saying, "Mama, there's a black woman on TV, and she ain't no maid!" When TNG launched, Whoopi begged Gene Roddenberry for a role because the Star Trek original series had literally changed her life, so Gene wrote a one-episode role for her. Guinan, the bartender in Ten-Forward and de facto counselor of the NCC-1701-D crew, was such a hit that she became a recurring character on the series.

I got my Giants confused, but otherwise smooth sailing here.

Charles Flaster 8:11 AM  

EZ with one error TEN FaR WARD.
Theme was very eclectic but sussable.
Lots of CrosswordEASE but made theme answers easier.
Thanks MH.

Steven J. St. John 8:13 AM  

Usually I work on the short stuff first and save the themers for mid-solve. Every once in awhile I make an attempt at the themers first, which I did today. Not sure it speaks particularly well of me that I was able to write in 5 of the 6 with no help. (Only watched How I Met Your Mother once and found it distasteful.) So it played very easy. I wish there had been another level to it so that the themers weren't clued so straight.

Anonymous 8:19 AM  

SHOOED is bad fill? What??????????????

Hartley70 8:26 AM  

I'm abashed to admit I knew all but MACLARENS. I so wanted it to be McSorleys! I've gone off sitcoms as I've aged and I've never watched this or "The Big Bang" one, which I hear isn't terrible as these things go. A few aliens would make it a must see. I'll never age out of SciFi. I just watched "Interstellar" and give it five stars.

Some toughies today in ZAPOTEC and IROC. I had forgotten about BACOS. If bacon is bad for us, fake bacon must be scary bad ALA butter and OLEO. I hear if you put OLEO in your garage for years it will never go moldy and the mice will never eat it. Yum! TONIC was a gimme, and no gin in it either, yuck! The clue should have been New England, not Northeast, if we're throwing Binghamton into the Northeast category.

While this theme may be "trivial", I had to work to remember these and so the recollection and subsequent head slap gave me pleasure this morning. Thanks, Mr. Hawkins. It was good, clean fun for me!

Anonymous 8:29 AM  

I'm with Tokyo Racer. Too much pop crap here.

Anonymous 8:47 AM  

TEN FORWARD made me very happy - all those years as a dedicated Trek watcher paid off. Quite the opposite for PEACH PIT, a reference to a show I never saw and for which I now resent knowing a bit of trivia. Overall the puzzle seemed too easy, even for a Wednesday. There were spots that were fun (ZAPOTEC, AZKABAN, SOME NERVE.) Can't disagree with Rex on the fill. My biggest yawn, though, was 23A - so tired of NFL-NBA-NFC etc. sports references because I simply don't know them and have to rely on the crosses to suss them out.

Kim 8:50 AM  

I don't understand the sputtering over Obama. I don't like him, but recognize that not only is he the President but also has a great name for crosswords. Also in Texas, all sodas are called Coke. "Do you want a coke?" "Yes" "What kind" "Dr Pepper".

joho 8:55 AM  

I'm just glad I caught my error at the last grid check and changed it from TONIl to TONIC! I'm guessing the C stands for Conference?

Dense theme sitting upon theme which held together just fine for me as all answers are gathering placing in fictional shows. I think it's picky to say they all have to be bars or all restaurants or such.

I liked the RANCHER/HERDER cross ... and @Loren, I wrote in the margin last night: PERTER HERDER ... 'cause it's just plain fun to say!

Also fun: SLAPDASH, LAIDANEGG, ADAMSRIB and SOMENERVE! And words like AZKABAN and ZAPOTEC add spiZe to the grid.

I liked it, thanks, Michael Hawkins!

Ludyjynn 9:18 AM  

Although TENFORWARD is located "far and away" (very funny, Rex), it is certainly not "obscure" to the millions of "Star Trek: TNG fans 'out there'. Esp. since Whoopi Goldberg, as the bartender. Guinan, a refugee from the planet. El-Auria, actually gave a good performance in her recurring role, listening to crew problems and offering counsel. (In contrast to the strident, real life Whoopi who I zap past w/ the remote whenever she happens to be running her mouth on that annoying tv relic, "The View").

I am probably one of five people in the country who never watched a single episode of "Friends" or "How I Met Your Mother, or read "Harry Potter", but all three answers were gettable via crosses. There is no accounting for taste, as I did not hesitate to fill in both MELSDINER and THEPEACHPIT immediately! I like some lowbrow, but not all, I guess.

Thought the fill was better than MEH. Liked the theme. Who doesn't watch tv, even if some lie about it?

@Chefs, is BACOS real food or a thing created in a lab somewhere? Inquiring minds want to know, but too lazy to Google.

Thanks, MH and WS. I am now both hungry and thirsty from this puzzle.

Tita 9:38 AM  

The only MOES I know is Moe's Midtown in Hartford. Awesome place for breakfast. Biggest pile of hash browns you'll ever see. So, while I know Simpsons MOE from xwords, I couldn't get past the reflex to add Midtown after that name.

I agree with Steve J...MEH.
I just can't Help it...a theme in which I have zero interest just puts me off the whole puzzle. Like that golf thing.
Even though there was way more better fill than OFL noted.

Oh wait...I did really like "Place for an ace".
As a teen my mom would often visit her old aunt, who loved playing cards. She would usually let her aunt win, thinking she was being so good and selfless to this gentle old soul. One day, as my mom was leaving, her aunt said to her..."You're really very nice, and I enjoy your visits, but you cheat at cards..."

Sheik Yerbouti 9:43 AM  

PERTER? ASCAN? APOD? Horrendous.

chefbea 9:56 AM  

Knew Mels diner and Moes Tavern..that's it the rest was too tough so DNF. Loved bacon and ala

Bob Kerfuffle 10:01 AM  

Fun puzzle.

I wrote over BACOS where I had BACON, but finished, on paper, with INES/ASKABAN instead of INEZ/AZKABAN. I forgive me.

I have watched every episode of every live-action incarnation of Star trek TV series and movies, and yet, though I didn't enter it, I counted spaces and saw that AFTERDECK would fit at 54 A! Crosses prevailed, of course.

GeezerJackYale48 10:02 AM  

Rex, I suggest that your characterization of Obama-name complainers (I do not fall in that category) reveals a side of you best kept to yourself. As for calling "laid an egg" and "some nerve" kind of olde timey: I resemble that remark!

quilter1 10:06 AM  

I really don't know if I liked this or not. I never watched any of these shows except Star Trek. I remember Whoopi as the bartender but not the name of the lounge. I had to get everything from crosses and guesses. But in the end the theme was OK. I, too, wish Roman numerals would be banned from puzzles.

GeezerJackYale48 10:13 AM  

Ludyjynn, I am also one of the five in the country etc., and like you I worked things OK from crosses, except that the Friends coffeehouse just had to end in perc, as in percolate (what were they thinking!) and of course the Harry Potter prison could have been any combination of letters as far as I was concerned.

r.alphbunker 10:22 AM  

Puzzle report

The red in my halfway image is the wavE that I had destroying the sand castle.

I finished without errors in spite of not having heard of several of the restaurants. It was easier than test solving one of George Barany's custom puzzles meant for someone with a Ph.D. in Chemistry.

Did you notice that the last two puzzles have abutting theme entries? This was a frequent feature of Merl Reagle's puzzles. I wonder if there is any connection to his recent passing.

Steve J 10:31 AM  

@Anon 1:38 a.m.: Actually, "coke" is the prevalent generic term in the South. Soda's the Northeast outside of Boston and much of the west.

Harvard put out a map several years ago from their comprehensive dialect survey showing what term prevails where. They show an overview map, plus maps for each of the available terms. Tonic is definitely concentrated around the Boston area, with only a few scattered instances outside of there.

The Rhino 10:33 AM  

I, ah, I might watch too much TV.

mathgent 10:40 AM  

Rex, enjoyed hearing about your experiences as a constructor. Looking forward to working on this gem.

Also, of all of your criticisms of how the Puzzle is edited, this was the most convincing slam.

@Kim: Nice description of the use of the word "coke" in Texas. Growing up in San Francisco we used it the same way. Now we say soda, never pop.

On the subject of getting a crossword puzzle published, Stephen Sondheim talked about his first try in a delightful interview in yesterday's SF Chronicle. Our opera company is about to produce Sweeney Todd and the paper's music critic, Joshua Kosman, telephoned the great man and talked mostly about the cryptics he constructed for New York magazine. He did about 40 for them until he quit when working on Company. Here is what he said about submitting a crossword to the NYT. "At 13 I submitted a puzzle to the New York Times, and I very carefully put my age on it to show how brilliant I was. The editor rejected the puzzle, but wrote that I was 'enormously perspicacious.' I didn't know what that meant."

Joseph Michael 10:44 AM  

Except for MEL'S DINER, didn't know any of the fictional hangouts but was able to suss them easily enough from the crosses.

Liked the theme concept and the notion that TV and film characters have to hang out somewhere. Thought CENTRAL PERK was the best of the bunch namewise. (@Ludyjynn, you're not the only one who never watched "Friends.")

It took SOME NERVE to include not only PERTER but also ASCAN and FORHER in the grid. Three nominees for "Worst Fill of the Month."

Unknown 10:45 AM  

FORHER. I say feh!

jberg 10:59 AM  

I've seen plenty of "Simpsons," but none of the others -- still, they weren't too bad.

I came to Massachusetts in 1964 to go to grad school, and everyone said 'tonic' for any kind of carbonated drink. There may still be enclaves, but so many of my fellow immigrants have come that the local idiom is dying out. Sad, really.

Seven days in San Francisco -- great visit, but no nYT, so it's good to be back!

Carola 11:05 AM  

I can't believe I complained about golf. I've never seen any of the shows, so have no fond associations with any of the names and the theme offered only the pleasure, such as it was, of getting the answers from crosses and word patterns. I did like the items you might find in these establishments: RIB, OPEN TAP, BACOS, HEINZ, something ALA something, hot DOG, TONIC, EGG, PECAN pie, ALE. HOT TEAS.

Joseph Welling 11:07 AM  

One of my fastest ever Wednesday times.

TEN FORWARD is obscure? Really?

DJG 11:25 AM  

The 'Z' at the crossing of INEZ and AZKABAN is one of the purest Naticks I've seen in a while. There is simply no way to infer a 'Z', as opposed to, say, an 'S', if you are unfamiliar with either of the entries -- which, given that one is a secondary (at best) character from an old novel and the other is a fictional prison, is perfectly reasonable. Not good.

As to the subpar fill, I don't always agree with Rex and think he is often overly critical about minor indelicacies, BUT he is absolutely right that other publications are starting to be much pickier about fill. (I recently was asked to redo an entire large corner for a non-NYT puzzle because it contained the "linguistics suffix" EME.) I do think WS should up the standard for fill of NYT and make drastically minimizing Crosswordese a very high priority. (It should be used ONLY when holding together something truly spectacular.) This should be the new normal for crossword puzzle construction. It will probably be maddening and annoying at first for constructors, but it will just make our work better in the long run.

CFXK 11:26 AM  

In Natick we do, indeed, call soft drinks "tonic." NEW ENGLAND would have been a a more accurate description of the region that calls soft drinks "tonic."

John V 11:36 AM  

To add, I had thought that "List" themes were not welcome. Apparently I was wrong.

Malsdemare 11:39 AM  

I wasn't going to comment but @TokyoRacer had a point. This would be really ugly if you were working on your English skills and came across all these TV shows. If he's able to catch puns, knows American laundry detergents and slang, and has English skills up to the NYT., I'm dazzled. I'd love to try my hand at German crossowrds -- if I knew where to find them -- but I fear they would have to be the kind kindergarten teachers use to introduce their students to one-syllable words and spelling. Ach!

On the other hand, I have watched absolutely none of those shows and managed to get all six. I do hate the RRNs and would happily VOTE to azkaBAN them.

Finally, thank you, @Kim, for a reasoned response to America's sweethearts. I did not like George W., but would never in a million years have been as vile and vitriolic as some Obama haters are.

Thanks, all.

Diana,LIW 11:41 AM  

I just had to say “hi” because I’ve followed your comments, lives, likes, dislikes, and puzzling quandaries for months. Feel like I know you guys! I truly enjoy your humor, candor, quotes, factoids, poems, and stories. Some days I’m certain the Beatles were right – there are 8 days in a week and I just solved something easier than a Monday, only to come here and see mention of elegance and crunchiness. Other days the only things crossed are my eyes, and y’all are all “easy, peasy.” Your comments help me feel “normal.” And…I love how you respect and challenge each other, agree and disagree, and generally have a grand time with word play. I’d list some names, but would have to mention over 100, including some Anons. (I even enjoyed a lot of the AnonMousie’s posts, but with my counseling background, I have a fascination with personality disorders. Factoid: PD folks have fewer life skills and/or responses than the rest of us, so they tend to use the same (unsuccessful) responses over and over. Explains why you see the same names over and over in the paper for criminal activity. If you wonder why they don’t learn, it’s because they can’t. They don’t have better responses in their “wheelhouse.” Another reason I respect Rex is his contribution to the education of our prison population. Kudos.)
So props to all of you. I have learned so much from all. Rex at his rantiest (POC) (I think he’s channeling Lewis Black, and he reminds me of LB’s rant re: bottled water) has much to teach. I’m humbled at your greatness.
In gratitude,
Diana, LIW of Crosswords

Master Melvin 11:44 AM  

My late father-in-law, who was from Lynn, just outside of Boston, used to tell a story about working up a thirst while walking around New York. He went into a drugstore (this in the days when drugstores had "soda" fountains) and asked for a bottle of TONIC. They gave him Vitalis.

@Ludyjynn: Kosher resorts like The Concord and Grosinger's used to mix something called BACO Bits in their scrambled eggs, so I assume they are produced in a lab.

Masked and Anonymous 11:55 AM  

Different kind of puz theme. Different is good.

Man, those TV show writers ain't got much respect for U. One U in the whole puz -- and that was away from all the places, at PUPA/UNES.

@009: yep. ATH's gotta go. Unless it saves a HOGCALL. Wouldn't strongly recommend OBVS, either, btw.

ADAMSRIB and SLAPDASH sound like ok restaurant names. So did CENTRALPARK, so I didn't get an A+ on my solve. In fact full disclosure is that I got careless & also had TONIL for the NE soft drink at 3-D. "Ummmm… that's good TONIL!" Oughta really sell.

fave weeject: CLE. Always admire "on the scoreboard" stuff.

NE corner weeject stack wework:

11. Real sinker, at times
16. Plastic-Band linkage?
19. Scratch a bit
12. Step down from binary
13. Put on this earth

(Less RRN, more U.)
Really liked the AZKABAN entry's mess of letters. It has Quelques-unes nerve. Would maybe make a good tavern name. Symmetric ZAPOTEC sounds more like a tannin salon, tho ...

Ten forward,

Andrew Heinegg 11:55 AM  

Although I was able to get all the names of fictional places in tv shows I have never seen, I agree with the mediocre rating being given by almost everyone to the puzzle. In the past, when one of these sitcoms would come on the air, I would start to watch an episode and I never came back to any of them. And yes, I know Star Trek is not a sitcom but, I found that equally unwatchable. I do confess that perhaps I never gave the Simpsons a 'fair' chance because I have always found anything that Fox puts out to be of such poor quality that I cannot stomach it, from the idiotic robot Brutus on the NFL games to the vituperative attacks on anyone whose political stance is left of Attila the Hun, it is just awful, imhop.

When Zapotec is the only even remotely interesting or challenging part of a crossword, it does not deserve to have anything more than the 29dd said about it.

Martel Moopsbane 11:57 AM  

The clue for 3D might be better if it were "Soft drink, in Natick."

Anonymous 12:10 PM  

Sorry Rex, but Ten Forward was the only one I knew of the bunch. What a stupid puzzle. And is the idea to stuff Obama's name in to every puzzle? At least it was almost paired with the Harry Potter prison.

Anonymous 12:28 PM  

I read an article sometime ago about "tonic" being used in the Boston area. It used to be pervasive but I guess it's only used in very specific neighborhoods now. Like west Cambridge, where my wife is from, and who still calls sodas "tonic."

old timer 12:49 PM  

Went to school in southern New Hampshire, so I knew that some folks called a soft drink a TONIC, and *everyone* called a milkshake a frappe. I also kind of liked Moxie, which was a TONIC pretty much local to that part of New England.

Still I figured there would be Naticks in this one. I had no idea what an IROC was. So MACLARENS was a guess. Don Juan's mama could easily have been Ines, not INEZ. Heard of MELSDINER -- there still is one on Lombard St in San Francisco and they used to be everywhere. Heard of THEPEACHPIT from Beverly Hills 90210. Got TENFORWARD only because it seemed logical. And I guess everyone knows MOE has some sort of establishment in The Simpsons.

Yeah, fill could have been better. Enough with the Roman Numerals. For some reason ASCAN does not bother me, though HOTTEAS really does. Not only green paint but a very ugly *Lime* green shade of paint. OTOH there really is no way to fix PERTER, given the crossing themers there.

Anonymous 12:55 PM  

I thought the foodies in the group would have loved this puzzle!

You can put Heinz on your dog for din, or maybe a BBQ rib, served with a salad of pecan and bacon on pea pod(s) and "cale," and wash it down with an open tap of ale (or tonic for the kids).

Or maybe I just laid an egg ...

Lewis 1:52 PM  

@loren -- I love Waffle Ward!
@rex -- nice writeup covering negs and positives

I knew two of the theme answers, but the crosses gave the rest. This puzzle has only five double letters which is very low (but not extremely low)(I follow double letters for some inexplicable reason). There has only been one NYT puzzle in the Shortz era with zero double letters, a Joe Krozel puzzle, and the lack of doubles had nothing to do with his theme. But there has not yet been a themeless puzzle with no double letters, and I'm making that a goal...

Because I didn't know so many of the theme answers, I liked the challenge, but would have liked more clever cluing, which a Wednesday puzzle should have. And I don't like PERTER -- has anyone here ever said that in conversation?

But there is fun in this puzzle. A word ladder-- ERA/ERE/IRE/ORE, for one. Also, things that go together: APUP (backward) to go with the DOG; ERO (backward) to go with EERO; and SHEEP (Boggle style) intermixed around HERDER. There's also a low TIDE, and GOD (backward) crossing LAIDANEGG, and looking at a lot of our presidential candidates, there might be some truth to that. And we have a HERDER and RANCHER and DINER, oh my!

Teedmn 1:52 PM  

No knowledge of the themers except, like @LMS, knowing the Simpsons' bartender was MOE, so I needed all of the crosses. I guess I've heard of MELSDINER too. And in spite of watching a lot of TNG episodes and knowing the bartender, Guinan, I would never have come up with TENFORWARD.

Tarantulas and Bigfoot were scaRY before they were HAIRY. And a DNF because I put in CENTRAL PaRK, thinking of Seinfeld rather than Friends.

TAPED next to (A)LIVE is nice. I wanted an R somewhere in AZKABAN, mixing up Hogwarts with former SSR Azerbaijan in my head. SLAPDASH is such a great word - it should be a variation of tag where you run up and SLAP a You're It sign on a player and DASH away.

Liked it a lot, thanks MH.

Roberta Weiner 2:33 PM  

I have to share this - my husband, who grew up in Natick, MA - yes Natick - called soda "tonic" as a kid in the 1960s.

Z 3:02 PM  

Interestingly, BACOS are a vegan product.

woolf 3:18 PM  

Compared to yesterday, this is gold. Compared to an objective standard, this is more like a substance commonly ending in "-ite."

Among the many things I would do as god-tyrant of the universe would be to forever ban roman numerals from the NYT puzzle. Inclusion of a roman numeral clue would result in summary execution, or at least a stern post-it that says only, "Revise."

I didn't have a problem with the theme clues, which probably means I have lived a frivolous life indeed; Ten Forward is where magic space prophet Whoopi Goldberg and Her Coffee Table Hat worked. On the other hand, I would've sworn that the comparitive form of "pert" is "more pert," not the clumsy PERTER (which sounds like someone saying "Peter" through a mouth full of potatoes). Shows what I know about ENG.

Glad EERO and CALE were gimmes by virtue of crossings. I see "NASCAR name" plus _ALE, I'm betting the house on "Dale."

Wm. C. 3:27 PM  

I grew up about 15 miles north of Boston in the '50s. It was Tonic. I'd guess that it is no longer so, a hyper-regionalism then that wouldn't stand up to the homogenizing effect of national TV.

mathgent 4:33 PM  

@jberg: If you couldn't find a NYT in San Francisco, you didn't look very far.

Z 5:07 PM  

@GeezerJackYale48 - Yesterday someone actually posted that they prefer Osama to Obama. I think "slavering, sputtering Obama-haters" is being too kind.

@DJG and others - INEs is the Spanish or Portuguese spelling, making the "S" inferably wrong given the "Don Juan" clue. My boys raced to finish the Potter books when they came out, so AZKABAN was easy here, but if you're not a Potterite that cross is infernally unfair.

I think if the theme cluing had involved wordplay and we were left to discover/realize after the fact that all the themes were fictional establishments this would have been an above average puzzle. TV Trivia, Opera Trivia, Old Movie Trivia - leave it all to Trivia Night at Moe's Tavern.

old timer 5:53 PM  

Since the fictional Don Juan was a Spanish gentleman, his mother could easily have spelled her name Inés. Or Inez. It's like Gonzales or Gonzalez. In the North of Spain, the s would be more common because a z is pronounced like our "th", and presumably Doña Inés does not lisp. In La Mancha and Andalucia, the z spelling is more common because z and s are pronounced the same, as they are in Latin America.

I imagine the constructor had Byron's poem about Don Juan in mind. He spells it Inez. He also pronounced "Juan" "JEWen". In Byron's day it was a vile, foreign affectation to pronounce Spanish names and words like the Spanish do.

chefwen 6:02 PM  

@Ludyjnn - I would put Bacos in the bacon flavored product category. @Z above pointed out they are a soy based product, God only knows how many chemicals are added to the soy. They're probable like Twinkies and would make it through a nuclear war. Nueske's from Wittenberg WI is the only bacon allowed in this house, and man o man is it good.

Tita 6:35 PM  


@Z - Iberian Z vs S rule o'thumb...
Portuguese uses s at the ends of names... INÊs, Rodrigues, Soares.
Spanish equivalents...Inez, Rodriguez, Suarez.

(And Juan = João)

Had Byron written about Dom João instead of Don Juan, INÊs would have been right.

Sorry to pick such a nit. It is an uncontrollable reflex that growing up Portuguese in America has instilled.

(Ironically, I have a Z as the penultimate letter in my name - a throwback to my Galician ancestors, perhaps?)

Cassieopia 7:04 PM  

I'm with Mr Joseph Welling above. Easiest Wednesday ever for this newbie and thought TENFORWARD was as obvious ASCAN be. Live long and prosper, friends.

Sallie (FullTime-Life) 8:04 PM  

I agree completely on your PPS and liked that clue and answer. ( and find it hard to believe that those haters even know how to pick up a pencil, let alone do a puzzle). Did not love this puzzle because who cares about those places. I skew wayyyy over on the old age end of your readers ( or of anybody else anywhere) but I usually enjoy pop culture ... Makes me happy that I know some of it. But places where people eat... Meh?

Z 10:11 PM  

@Tita - Are you saying Wikipedia might not be perfectly accurate‽ I'm shocked! I should be able to speak more knowledgeably on the subject since my mom's mom spoke only Spanish and my mom was fully bilingual, but my mom didn't want me learning Spanish (long story I've told before). Still, a pretty deadly cross for non-Potterites with at least a defensible argument for the S instead of the desired (and so much handsomer) Z.

Leapfinger 7:23 AM  

Can't cite specifics, but I recall 'celery TONIC' from various turn of the century novels about immigrant life in NYC. Might even have included "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn".

Dr. Brown’s Celery Tonic was first produced in 1868 in Brooklyn, New York. It was served in New York delicatessens starting in 1869 and sold as a bottled soda starting in 1886. The Food and Drug Administration objected to its being called a “tonic”, and in the 1900s the name was changed to Dr. Brown’s Cel-Ray soda. Cel-Ray was so popular in the 1930s among New York City's Jewish community that it earned the nickname "Jewish Champagne". Other “celery tonics"/"celery sodas” were produced in the 1890s, but only Dr. Brown’s celery product remains today.

Tita 10:15 AM  

@Z - you're right, of course! And isn't it easy to come across as the Greek goddess ERUDITE on the internet. I mean, I didn't know that Byron had a version of Don Juan until this conversation sent me looking. I had to get INEZ from the crosses!!

@old timer - the new comments system hid yours from view until after I posted. But I still stand by my rule of thumb. Any contradictions to that rule simply underscore that they are meant to be broken - the rules, of course, though sometimes the thumbs deserve to be broken too.
And if by northern Spain, you mean Galicia, then yes - Galician is closer to Portuguese than to Spanish - the signs there are written in both.

Anonymous 10:29 AM  

I dislike Obama but I am neither slavering nor sputtering. Sometimes people dislike a man for the views he holds and the things he does and for no other reason.

Burma Shave 11:34 AM  


YES, all the NERDY RANCHERS ALIVE VIE to meet her
ERIN’s her NAME, if you HERDER SHE couldn’t sound finer,
but SHE’s got SOMENERVE to always ask FORHER PETER.


rondo 11:49 AM  

So I knew the first three, sort of recalled the fourth with some crosses, and got the last two only by crosses. That’s a LOT of TV eating and drinking, and maybe shame on me for knowing as many as I did? And the Harry Potter answer.

I won’t dis any puz that has my late dad’s nickname HARPO in it. Would seem wrong. But that RRN was a bit irritating.

Short on yeah babies today, except for all those who hung out in those named joints.

Had a buddy who owned an IROC Camaro. Fun car.

Entertaining enough for a Wed-puz. Afer yesterday it’s a TONIC.

Anonymous 2:17 PM  

I thought this was hard at first but everything filled in with a lot of guesses: Central Perk, Ten Forward, The Peach Pit. Actually, since I guessed right it became a fast gridfill. I agree with whomever said lets get rid of the Roman Numerals. Zapotec was entirely new to me but glad I now know. Azkaban was unknown because I never delved into Harry Potter and his many fantasies. Not my thing. Nor are Star Trek terms or names stored in my tiny grey cells. I guess I'm too old for that nonsense. Hrrmmph!

Ron Diego, La Mesa, CA (Where "Ole Man River" is not).

leftcoastTAM 3:28 PM  

Nice medium-challenging Wednesday themer. Knew about Mel's and Moe's places but had to suss out the others, and stared for a while at the INEZ/AZKABAN, IROC/MACLARENS, and FORHER/TENFORWARD crosses.

A good day...except: I carelessly entered NFlEAST and didn't really look at the crossing TONIl. DNF [Sigh]

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