Place with homies / WED 10-14-15 / Cowboy in poker slang / Goddess involved in Hercules labors

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Constructor: Joel Fagliano

Relative difficulty: Challenging

THEME: HANGMAN — theme answers are HANGMAN letter guesses, and the answers to the guesses (which are, ironically, in the clues ... not the answers) enable you to guess the HANGMAN answer, which is HANGMAN (see unchecked letters at bottom of the grid)

Theme answers:
  • "DOES IT HAVE AN 'N'?" (24A: Q: ___ / A: There are two, in the third and seventh squares below)
  • "IS THERE A 'G'?" (26A: Q: ___ / A: Indeed, in the fourth square)
  • "I GUESS 'M'" (36A: Q: ___ / A: There's one in the fifth square)
  • "HOW ABOUT 'H'?" (47A: Q: ___ / A: Correct! In the first square)
  • "ANY 'A'S?" (54A: Q: ___ / A: Yes, two, in the second and sixth squares)
Word of the Day: WELFARISM (8D: Policy of widespread government social programs) —
noun: welfarism
  1. the principles or policies associated with a welfare state. (google)
• • •

Well, it's definitely "New" (at least to me) so I'll give it that much. I pretty much always hate instructions-as-answers puzzles, and while I don't hate this puzzle, by any means, I also didn't enjoy filling in instructions. In part, because of inherent instruction aversion, and in part because those instructions (here, actually, imagined "questions" from a HANGMAN player) were so contrived, with a whole bunch of ways of asking said "questions," thus essentially imagining a HANGMAN game as no one would actually play it. Worst of all, for me, one of the "questions" was Not A Question At All. You can't put "Q: ___" in your puzzle, and then have the answer Not Be A Q. "I GUESS 'M'" is not not not not not a "Q." It's not. I do admire the concept, in the abstract, and yes, you get to play a little bonus game of HANGMAN with your crossword. But figuring out the phrasing on all the "Q"s was mostly irksome.

Biggest stall for me was confidently writing in ON THE QT at 20A: Hush-hush (ON THE DL). My obsession with mid-century noir, or at least my fandom of "L.A. Confidential," led me astray here. That stupid "QT" kept me from moving easily through that whole upper section. I had trouble in a few other sections. Went with IDES instead of DDAY (57D: Make-or-break date). Baffled by clue for AREA (28D: Science or humanities, in college requirements), largely because there is almost nothing "college"-y about AREAs. "What AREA are you in?" Not a question I can imagine. I get that a general field is called an AREA, fine, but why is there this long "college"-related clue when it isn't even particularly apt? Strange. I think I thought SCHUSS was a general word for "ski" and not a particular word for "ski straight and fast as opposed to slalom, moguls, etc" (38D: Go downhill fast). So SCHUSS and speed were not associated in my head before now. Despite MCENROE's being my second-favorite tennis player growing up, I could hear only Dick Vitale's voice when I read 43A: Sporting great with the book "You Cannot Be Serious!" Weird.

Lastly, I really wish the NYT crossword would stop trafficking in "homies" (33D: Place with homies). There's something so tin-eared and condescending about it. The word you're cluing is HOOD. There are a jillion ways to clue that. Since the NYT crossword has generally demonstrated little to no awareness of black lives, it's weird to have "homies" keep coming up—it means that black people are visible in the puzzle, for the most part, only via some street slang that white people picked up 20+ years ago. Maybe if the puzzle were more inclusive, generally, this stuff wouldn't bug me. But it's not, so it does.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Da Bears 12:40 AM  

I interpreted this puzzle a little differently from Rex. Merv griffin created Wheel of Fortune from the game HANGMAN. So I thought the Q and As were Wheel questions and answers with the final result spelling the name of the game on which Wheel is based. I enjoyed it and the AHA moment and did not think it that difficult.

jp flanigan 12:41 AM  

HOOD really bothered me. It's offensive and easily fixed. No excuse for it.

Carola 12:58 AM  

Very easy. The top tier practically filled itself in, and after the first two questions, I realized we were playing HANGMAN. Cute ideas to have the name of the game as the word to be guessed and the face image in the grid.

Carola 1:04 AM  

Meant to ask above: META as a bonus theme answer? (HANGMAN as the HANGMAN answer; grid face.)

Kakashi 1:05 AM  

Re the "Homies" clue. I grew up in rural California, where the term "homie" is mostly used by Hispanics. Given the other Spanish answers/clues, I thought the answer to "Place with homies" would be a Spanish term or something related to Hispanic culture. That one confused me a good deal.

Hartley70 1:28 AM  

I did this quickly while watching the last half hour of the debate, so I wouldn't label it challenging, but I was happy to see there was no dreck. Maybe I've just gotten familiar with the constructor's mindset by doing the mini everyday. But I can say that I loved this one! I got down to the clueless bottom and got a kick when I saw how the game was played. No problem using the app this time! Best puzzle of the week so far for me.

I also tried QT before I switched to the more current DL. I think it's an age thing but QT is cuter.

Shapaluka 1:30 AM  

This week has been terrific!! Interestingly (for me at least), I completed today's puzzle with much more ease than Tuesday. A rebus on a Tuesday, in spite of this wacky week, really threw me. I cannot wait for Thursday's puzzle - typically my favorite crossword day.

jae 1:53 AM  

Easy-medium not counting sorting out the HANGMAN game and just delightful.   toe before OAR and @Rex QT before DL were my only erasures. 

Fun solve, liked it a bunch!

chefwen 2:09 AM  

I'm surprised with Rex's rating as I thought this was (so far) the easiest of the week. At first I thought we were going to have a football theme with that funky looking goal post at the bottom. Was quickly corrected when the question/answer period came up. Wanted aloe at 27A, that was short lived and messed up at 55A by putting in IMbd before IMDB, I always get that one backwards in my brain.

I'm really having a good time this week, keep 'em coming.

Steve J 2:18 AM  

First, LA Confidential is simply one of the best movies ever made, in my opinion. Wonderful neo-noir with fantastic performances, and an amazingly good job of adapting a fiendishly complex novel.

So, yeah, I dropped ON THE QT in and never looked back.

The bigger hangup for me was never once considering WELFARISM as an actual thing. I had WELFARE__ and couldn't get things to work. And since I had none of the hangman clues in place at that time, I was stuck. I worked in and around politics throughout most of the 1990s, when welfare reform was a big thing, and I don't recall WELFARISM being said or written once. Welfare state, absolutely. Culture of dependency, indubitably. Many others, too. But never WELFARISM.

Ultimately, I found this an interesting idea that wasn't nearly as interesting to solve. I recognize that may very well be my own fault due to my mistakes and inability to see some key things, but that's the way it went.

Anonymous 2:40 AM  

I got caught by ON THE QT for a spell as well.

For some strange reason I wrote OTRO where OCHO belonged, so I wasted some time trying to think of any other possible application for "homies." Apparently there isn't one.

I guess I don't mind the experimentation this week, but I'm ready for it to be over.


hxc 4:17 AM  

It's too bad there was no clue with a failed guess in it, as there is in almost every normal game of hangman.

Q________ A: Nope

(ISTHEREANX, for example)

ahsieh/ebpcanimal 4:40 AM  

Colleges usually list their general education requirements in enumerated AREAs. (I think SUNY as a whole uses that term, but the Binghamton catalog calls them "categories" instead?)

During the late 1980s on a certain West Coast campus there were almost daily SET-TOs concerning the Eurocentric reading lists of its year-long "Area 1" requirement. In the ensuing decades the required texts became more diverse and the name of the requirement evolved from "Western Culture" to "Cultures, Ideas, and Values" to "Introduction to the Humanities," but it was always known as Area 1. Only recently did the university shrink the year-long requirement to a one-quarter critical thinking course and replace the numbered areas with a skills-based system not tied so rigidly to specific disciplines.

Anonymous 4:40 AM  

I really wish OFL would stop trafficking in "black lives." See how that little game works?

George Barany 5:27 AM  

Like @Rex, I also confidently put in ON_THE_QT for 20-Across in @Joel Fagliano's puzzle, but when the Q was clearly causing issues with 6-Down ("salubrious" not being part of my working vocabulary), I remembered some dialogues with @Martin Ashwood-Smith a while ago about whether DL stood for "disabled list" (my contention) versus "down low" (his point-of-view), but either way, problem solved [and also rectified an even earlier misstep, confusing the two American Disney locations: ORLANDO and ANAHEIM have the same number of letters].

In a META way, the 17-Across clue ["Like a movie about people making a movie"} also telegraphed what was about to happen in this puzzle, so once the Northwest was fully sorted out [this also required knowing two Spanish 101 words that cross], the rest went quite quickly for me despite concurrent channel flipping between the baseball game and the Democratic debate. Does anyone still use AOL? (Someone told me that even Steve Case, the founder of AOL, used Gmail).

@Rex, your comment about John MCENROE begs the question, who was your first-favorite tennis player growing up? My first-favorite was John ... and I recently had occasion to revisit his fourth set 1980 Wimbledon tiebreaker against Bjorn Borg. Click here for a YouTube video (25 minutes) and here for an appreciative essay.

Loren Muse Smith 6:11 AM  

I can't be the only one who saw a smiley/frowny face in the grid? (After I typed this, I realized I had made a statement into a question. Hah. So that I GUESS M didn't bother me at all; just change the final inflection and you've got yourself a question? I'm guessing?)

I have to say, though, that every time I scan the grid, I see "I guess-ism." Some kind of blasé affliction.

Boy, that was some game, huh? Quadruple overtime? Coach ejected? Fan arrested?
He shrugs. Yeah. I guess. Checks his fingernails.

Me, too, for "on the qt" before ON THE DL. And I struggled with AREA but only because I misread the ERA clue's "shutout" as "shortcut" and put in "eta."

Word seen four times on a class roll in West Virginia: DAKOTA. Mercifully, one goes by "Cody,” one by DJ, and one by, mysteriously, "Blu." So just one who answers to DAKOTA.

Peeling off the layers of this mystery went so perfectly that I found myself playing HANGMAN before I saw that that was actually the theme. I felt like I was deftly tricked into playing. Cool.

The unchecked squares escaped my notice at first, so I kept wondering which squares they were talking about. Sheesh. Because of that, early on, (with “rah” for YEA) I was thinking the cook was something like "rdr cook" as in "short 'order' cook" with an O and an E missing. Thought I was really on to something there.

A whiskey sour sure is an anachronism these days. I had no idea it was a LEMON that made it sour. I thought it was the stuff in the sour mix bottle with an ingredient list three inches long and "trace of LEMON extract" as very last item.

I way overthought that aloof pet, and my first guess was "pom." Nah. Poms go beyond aloof; they're downright nasty. Then I thought "boa." Damn things just aren’t affectionate..until they are. I guess pet owners can experience their affection once? Here lies the body of Mortimer Klug. Asked his snake for just one hug.

That you can put together a puzzle like this, a grid with two theme stacks, and replicate a HANGMAN game… bravo, Joel. This is one I'll remember for a long time.

Anonymous 6:37 AM  

Not a real game of hangman.

DL only means Disabled List this time of year so thought the clue should be different. "On the QT" was probably the most common first answer.

Mostly annoying, and especially since yesterday was so good, somewhat disappointing. Is there a less condescending compliment than "At least he tried"?


Susierah 7:08 AM  

I got all of the puzzle except for hangman. Now I feel really stupid that I didn't realize the q/a clues were the answers for solving hangman. I wish I had thought about it a little longer, because now it is so obvious.

Mike D 7:38 AM  

The only part of Rex's bitter screed today with which I agree is the "homies" thing. His take on this is right on the money, as opposed to almost everything else that has spewed venomously from his pie-hole (or should I say his grubby paws?) this week.

Jamie C 7:44 AM  

Oh, it's a game of HANGMAN?! HOWBOUTHat?!

Jamie C 7:50 AM  

But wait, there's more:

1) Hey, that rock group that sings "Barracuda?" DOES IT HAVE ANN in it?

2) IS THE REAGle involved in the construction of this puzzle?

3) I GUESS My brain hurts after doing this puzzle.

4) HOW ABOUTHem Mets?

Dorothy Biggs 7:53 AM  

I'm with @Da Bears in that this puzzle read to me more like Wheel of Fortune than Hangman. When I saw the answer was HANGMAN I just thought hey, why not "hangman" for a WoF-like puzzle? I didn't actually think the whole theme was an actual game of hangman...if it were, I would have liked the answer to not be HANGMAN. I also would have liked the clues to not give the positions away...that made solving the blanks way too easy. It would have been far more difficult to just give the hints that there are As and a G and an H etc in the puzzle and let us figure out where they go.

ONTHEqt was my first entry too. I could be wrong, but ONTHEDL has a seedy side and is used to sometimes describe someone who is having sexual encounters (usually gay ones) in secret. I've only heard "on the DL" used in this sense, whereas "on the QT" means you're sharing something that shouldn't be repeated.

I think I've decided that I like JF's puzzles. I like his minis and I like the cut of his jib. Homies/HOOD aside, I had zero problems/nits to pick with any of the cluing today.

L 7:55 AM  

With the wide open invitation to construct totally new puzzles, I am really underwhelmed this far. Today's puzzle was ok, somewhat annoying as I too got derailed for a bit with QT and I hated the word WELFARISM. As a former student of public policy, it's a word I have never heard used, in class or text.

Anonymous 8:15 AM  

George, Orlando has Disney World.

AliasZ 8:15 AM  

That movie "Grumpy Old Men" with Jack LEMON -- DOES IT HAVE ANN Margaret as a costar? Yes it does. HOW ABOUTH Mouth? No, he was a character in "The Goonies" played by Corey Feldman. (from IMDB.)
Is 'fissure' a synonym for 'chasm'? I GUESSM.
IS THE REAGan legacy dead? Like door nail.
How many ANYAS do you know? Monzikova and Seton. That's it.
"Homie, whatcha doin' back in da HOOD?" "HANG, MAN."
Too bad Mark Teixeira had to go ON THE DL.

"COMO ISTO CASA OCHO AÑOs" -- you can almost make a complete Spanish sentence out of one NYT puzzle. Valuable English words are being lost to undocumented vocabulary. I am more offended than a homie in the HOOD.

It's all in good fun though. Have a salubrious Wednesday.

Airymom 8:20 AM  

I'm a social worker who worked in public child welfare (child abuse, foster care, adoption) for 31 years. I have never heard the word or term "welfarism". Even if the dictionary has a definition, it simply does not exist. It should not be in a puzzle.

Filled in "onthedl", but couldn't understand how it related to the clue. Shouldn't the clue have been "not able to play?", or "injured player's position?" Then I realized that "dl" also means "down low". That was clever.

Mike 8:34 AM  

Completely agree on HOOD (and knew it would bother Rex, as it should). Didn't find it very difficult, though. Like many, I interpreted it as Wheel of Fortune at first.

Jon Alexander 8:50 AM  

Disagree w Rex on the difficulty...thought it was easy. Also threw down qt but that was my only erasure once I couldn't think of any -QUE words fitting the clue

joho 8:53 AM  

I wish every week could be as creative, fresh and fun as this one!

I OOHED (relative of AHA!) when I got the theme at HOWABOUTH? @Rex, there's no reason you can't ask IGUESSM? as a question (Hi,@Loren!).

Loved this concept, loved the grid art, loved having to fill in HANGMAN at the bottom ... rarely does the solver get to actually play a game!

Thank you Joel! And thank you, Will, for thinking outside the box this week. Why not every week?

Anonymous 8:57 AM  

Decent idea for a puzzle, suboptimal execution.

Anonymous 9:05 AM  

I have said it before and I'll say it again:
you cannot use ano for año and expect it to fly.
Will Shortz needs to learn that there is a very distinct difference between "year" and "a**hole" and those who speak Spanish can rightfully and bemusedly critique him on this issue. :D

Anonymous 9:08 AM  

The arrogance of @airymom to say that she knows better than the dictionary what is a word and what isn't a word is mind-boggling.

jberg 9:09 AM  

I stuck with QT for a long time, but more seriously got jammed in the SE due to having Lord instead of LADY, map for 'survey,' and thinking the weapon should be 'pike.' I finally dredged up IMDB == something I had not known I knew (that's an 'unknown known' in Rumsfeld-speak), and it all fell into place.

I first took 24A as referring to the letters immediately below, in 26A -- but then I finally noticed the unchecked squares at the bottom, and the rest was fairly easy.

Sir Hillary 9:15 AM  

Good puzzle. Yes, the clue for HOOD has major tin-ear problems, but I can't seem to get that outraged. Best idea of the day is from @hxc regarding an incorrect guess. That would have been really cool.

GeezerJackYale48 9:15 AM  

I for one could do without your social commentaries, Rex. Black people are people: PEOPLE. Political correctness such as you seem to be espousing should be demeaning to "black people". Ask some "black people" - if you can find this different species - what they think about the homies clue. Me, a white guy, thinks "they" will only get offended if you are making a condescending comment. And in my opinion your rant falls into that category.

Ellen S 9:16 AM  

I thought it was easy, and fun. I'm enjoying this week a lot more than Rex is.

Anonymous 9:21 AM  

I do the NY Times Print edition. The clue numbered 65 Across in the print edition is "Survey" (in the space where 66 across is shown here), and the clue numbering for the answer Hangman is left blank.

Anonymous 9:24 AM  

Made the same QT vs. DL error straight out of the gate. I always thought that being on the DL was slang for keeping a particular kind of activity secret to protect the individual, while being QT was related to being discrete for the protection of the group (akin to 'loose lips sink ships', etc.).

Didn't even see HOOD because I filled in those squares on the across clues. I see Rex's point on the racial subtext, but I'm not sure that I agree fully. In Texas where I live, usage of the terms HOMIES or HOOD is not isolated to one racial group. I'm unsure about the origins of the terms though, which may be where the real problem lies. I always thought it was gang-related vernacular, used (poorly) in (badly written) movies & TV, and eventually appropriated by the mainstream culture as a sort of an attempt at being cool or funny. The more I write this, the more creeped out I am becoming.

But about the puzzle: It plain bored me silly out to keep reading those letter clues just to fill in the answer at the bottom. If the cluing had been more subtle, maybe it would have been more engaging.

Jackie 9:25 AM  

OMG, Homies in fhe hood. Does anyone in "the hood" even say "homie" anymore? I have an apartment in Harlem and cannot remember the last time I heard someone say that. Lots of other words, but none printable in the NYT.

In any case, I always get a chuckle out of those "street talk" clues because they just show how white bread the Times is. It's like their idea of street culture in the hood comes straight from Breakin' II: Eclectric Boogaloo.

GILL I. 9:27 AM  

I'm a QT sort of person. I had never heard of ON THE DL so I looked it up. Um, it's not exactly what I had in mind, or maybe Will was ok with it?
FUN....I'm having fun with these different puzzles. I've never played HANGMAN and so was lost until I was found again, dutifully following instruction and writing each little letter as I was told...Voila!
@Loren..Hah. I loves me a good whiskey sour and your comment made me laugh. The first one I ever drank (in NYC) came with instructions to shake the little packet and stir it with some whiskey...such Neanderthals....
AREA and spelling AEROSOL gave me some trouble and trying to remember NIHAL but otherwise, easy. Sign me up for more to come.

RooMonster 9:31 AM  

Hey All !
Decent puz. HANGMAN idea cute. Some odd fill, though, especially the SW. Yikes. Reworking that should've been a priority. Somw writeovers: Addto->AMEND, alie->BALM, ANAHieM, but then figured out the Q's, so changed that. Put toe in for OAR, so my HANGMAN started with O's ! Had _oNG_oN in there, wondering what the hell random word was there!

The SE corner took me a few tries. Had code, then BeTa, finally got BYTE. Had CAT in, then took out, then in. And, for Survey, ask->seE->E_A->EYE. Jiminy.

Agree with @hxc 4:17, would've been neat to have a wrong Q in there.


Ken Aaron 9:33 AM  

I'm with you on HOMIES.

ArtO 9:34 AM  

Different, for sure. Sort of fun. But, ONTHEDL with DL meaning "down low" I just don't got. As previously noted, if you're ONTHEDL you're injured and can't play. Like virtually everyone I started that with QT. There's got to be a better explanation for ONTHEDL or it's just flat out poorly clued.

mac 9:41 AM  

I also though Wheel rather than Hangman. I'm not sure how that game is played.

It's a little daunting to start a puzzle knowing that there is mischief coming up. Fun though, although I hope they won't touch my Friday and Saturday.

Good Wednesday, thanks Joel.

quilter1 9:41 AM  

Yep, thought Wheel of Fortune at first, then saw it was HANGMAN. I liked this very much and rate it easy. I agree this week is fun.

oldbizmark 9:43 AM  

challenging? really?

Katzzz 9:44 AM  

The whole point of this week's puzzles is to shake things up a bit and have some fun. Some ideas will work better than others, of course, but kudos to Shortz and the constructors for striving for originality and amusement. Me, I eagerly look forward to the next three days.

Anonymous 9:46 AM  

Depending on the inflection of the person saying the words, "I guess M" could be spoken as a question.

Tita 9:49 AM  

Loved playing HANGMAN, and loved this puzzle. @hcx...let me add to your fun idea, that the grid shoulda been asymmetrical and shown the gallows.

This was easy for me...the answers of course helped me fill in the unchecked word But happily, not too quickly... Dipping my toE in the water meant I had two 'o's, which obscured what would obviously have been easy, and the popular 'qt' for DL Helped keep the struggle going a bit longer.

Thanks, @lms, for explaining why I had no problem with the non-question question...

Thanks, Mr. Fagliano!

Z 9:58 AM  

Saw the seven unchecked squares and thought it might be scrabble-related just to make Rex's head explode. Not to be.

ON THE DL is a sports thing. On the down low is a thing. If "ON THE DL" is a thing that means "on the down low" it is a totally unnecessary thing. Oh, wait, text speak. Only then it would be "otdl." Annoying.

WELFARISM sounds like something made up by AM talk radio. I'm always amused by rants against the government redistributing wealth, creating a welfare state. To question whether or not government should redistribute wealth is to display an ignorance of the simple truth that government redistributes wealth. The real question is "how do we want to redistribute wealth." Nevertheless, annoying.

HOOD as clued, annoying for exactly the reason Rex said. Go out and actively recruit some minority constructors. If for no other reason than we aren't that far from having a minority majority in this country so they are your future audience.

I might have liked this puzzle if I hadn't found it so annoying. As it is, it gets two "meh's"

Whirred Whacks 10:04 AM  

Glad Will Shortz is trying new things. But I'll agree with @AliasZ that these puzzles have been a bit underwhelming (today was very easy).

Think back one year ago: we had the 6-puzzle Patrick Blindauer TEMPUS FUGIT festival! Now that was truly wonderful!

cwf 10:07 AM  

I not only had ONTHEQT, I then crossed with CHEQUE (I know, I know). So the top was the last to fall.

chefbea 10:22 AM  

What a fun puzzle!! Bottom right had me stumped. What is IMDB? and didn't know byte. And what is DL??
These questions might have been answered above. Will read them later

Bob Kerfuffle 10:34 AM  

(My intended comments expressed very early by @George Barany, re: CASA/COMO and ANAHEIM/ORLANDO. But as with every Xwd where trickery is expected, I proceeded carefully, no write-overs.)

Best suggestion made above: Having a wrong guess.

Anonymous 10:39 AM  

Challenging? The only challenge I faced was with phrasing the Qs.

Horace S. Patoot 10:42 AM  

"On the DL" was for a long time an approximation for "in the closet". Like many other expressions, it's meaning eventually broadened. I came across this discussion in Slate.

Masked and Anonymous 10:43 AM  

Q: ___ *
A: Yes, three of em. (Lil darlins.)

Answering with a question (or a guess) was kinda also like playin "Jeopardy!"
Liked this theme idea. Also was kinda cool how the "Q:'s" got more casual, as U progressed down thru the puz. The missin ultimate short "Q:" would be the one my comment stealthily started with:

* Q: YO! U'S?
[Note: Oh, man ... 60-A was oh-so-day-um-close to gettin that right!]

And a big thUmbsUp to commenters that suggested a "Q:" with an "A:" = "nope". har. classic. Actually, in another sense "YO! U'S?" coulda been that "Q:" …

Thanx, Hangman Joel. Definitely a fun, different solve. (Next time, let's play HUNGMUN!)

Really like how Weird Puz Week is goin.


**WPW gruntz**

Bronxdoc 10:46 AM  

Like many, had QT instead of DL. Also had reams ( out) instead of chews, which slowed me down. But it was fun. Liked it. Thanks Joel.

Charles Koch 10:48 AM  

My feeling is we should only re-distribute wealth to people who already have more money than god, like for oil subsidies or corporate tax breaks. To hell with all those poor homies in the HOOD.

Joseph Michael 10:48 AM  

Another great puzzle. Novel concept and fun to solve. And liked the CAT EYE watching from the corner.

It's a good week for the NYT.

Anonymous 10:51 AM  

His comment about MCENROE does not beg any question. Begging the question is using a premise to prove itself, a logical fallacy. His comment provokes or prompts your question.

Anonymous 10:52 AM  

I sometimes to crosswords ON THE DL even though they're NSFW. I try to never do homies on the DL...

petronius 11:04 AM  

Check the Random House Dictionary for welfarism

Numinous 11:12 AM  

I liked this. It took me a few extra minutes to open the puzzle in the iPad app; i confess, I was intimidated at first. Then I thought the right thing to do was just treat it as a normal puzzle and wait to see what's going on. The Q/A clues threw me at first so I left the answers more or less blank except for where I could fill in letters where I knew the downs. Yeah, I read the down clues and fill them in row by row as I go across. Every now and again I'll look back up and see if anything suggests itself for the partially filled acrosses. When I was trying to GUESS I GUESS M DOES IT HAVE AN N suddenly occurred to me. That was when I read the clue more closely, looked down, counted the letters and entered the two Ns. Took a while longer to actually see HANGMAN but that helped me fill two of the Q/A letters. I'll admit I can be slow but in the middle of H_NG__N it suddenly dawned on me what was going on and I smiled. In my defense, I was still figuring out Across answere so I wasn't really concentrating on the obvious theme stuff.

I GUESS _ didn't seem like a question to me so I had a little troouble filling that in but once I'd got the idea, I decided it fit well enough not to worry about it any more. I'm sure I've said, "I'll GUESS an (insert your favorite random letter here)" more than once when playing HANGMAN. Normally, I don't look back at all the fill in a puzzle and go, "Wait . . . what?" If it worked for the second or two I was solving it, fine. Sometimes I have to wonder, but not often and usually I just forget about it and move on.

I lived for a couple years in downtown Los Angeles on Skid Row. Remember that film about the cellist? (I can't recall the name and don't feel like looking it up in IMDb) Yeah, down in that neighborHOOD (rent was real cheap). I lived on a corner of 7th, the street that divides the predominatly Hispanic section from the predominantly African American section. Near Atlanta, the subdivision I lived in for 14 years was predominantly African American. So, Rex and all of you who are getting so freaked out about the use of HOOD, to me, it's a fact of life and not worthy of mention. Mentioning it, thinking about it merely keeps racism alive. People are people, their esthetic shouldn't particularly matter. Do y'all get upset at the mention of Little Italy or Chinatown? Sheesh!

I think Joel did a pretty good job on this and I appreciate that he came up with different ways to phrase the "Questions"; not as easy as it seems. So I rate this as easier than average for a Wednesday and a worthy example of a puzzle never before published in the NYT.

Nancy 11:17 AM  

Another hand up for QT before DL, though I saw the mistake immediately and corrected immediately.

I'm beginning to think I must be the world's most politically incorrect person because I almost never get offended by anything. I had no thoughts whatever about HOOD -- other than the fact that it gave me OCHO instead of OCtO.

I liked this puzzle and found it quite easy. My laser-like focus on wherever I am working on a puzzle, grid-wise, made me not even SEE the isolated word at the bottom until I arrived there. (Have I mentioned before that I'm not very visual?) My first reaction was WHAAAT?, quickly followed by: oh, of course! Not nearly as challenging or inventive as yesterday's masterpiece, but different and fun to solve.

Unknown 11:21 AM  

The place with homies clue is just more evidence of the NYT Xword's tone deafness in general, it's whiteness and unconscious racial bias as well. No excuse for this other than learned helplessness

John V 11:33 AM  

Having never played Hangman or watched Wheel Of Fortune, the meta of the puzzle, clever as it was, was completely lost on me. Solved it fine, challenging as it was, but did nothing for me.

Warren Howie Hughes 11:59 AM  

Frankly, I didn't give a HANGMAN for this Humpday Xword puzzle, because the "bottom line" is, it hardly came as Noose!

Lewis 11:59 AM  

Well, I had a big AHA and smile when I figured out what was going on, and I thought it was the right level for Wednesday. What a terrific idea for a puzzle! Props to Joel for coming up with this. Now it seems obvious as a puzzle idea, but... it's never been done before, and it felt to me like it was well executed. A for originality.

As for that non-question IGUESSM, I think you can legitimately see it as "I guess... M?".

Anyway, lots of fun for me. Thank you, sir Joel.

Sallie (FullTime-Life) 12:12 PM  

I loved the Hangman theme, maybe because I'm ready to play it these days with a third generation ( my great-grands). And those are the kind of phrases people do use in the game at our house. So loved the puzzle, but had the same problem as Rex with 'on the QT.'. (Don't tell anyone though.)

Greater Fall River Committee for Peace & Justice 12:39 PM  

I just have to say that I have a dog named Orion that I adopted in December, and this is the THIRD time he has been in the puzzle! He's getting rather full of himself.He's asking all the purebreds at the dogpark, rather condescendingly, 'How often have YOU been in the New York Times lately?'

thfenn 12:43 PM  

I didn't like IGUESSM either, threw me for a bit. Once CREDIT and HEALTHFUL were clear I just went with ONTHEDL, but definitely didn't know it was the same as ONTHEQT. Agree with criticisms of WELFARISM, think HOOD should've been clued differently, but overall really enjoyed doing this one.

Am just not good enough at these (yet) to think it was easy, or uninteresting, thought it was a fun way to kill half an hour (longer, actually, just don't want to admit how much time I spent solving something others clearly whip through). I got stuck in the SW - NSFChildren instead of NSFWork, CAD instead of WAG, left me thinking I didn't know poker that well, Cowboys are a KIND? Nope.

Anoa Bob 12:50 PM  

Very entertaining puzzle. I OOHED at 6D's clue, "Salubrious", and 44D NIHIL. Two little word nerd oases in a vast wasteland often strewn with fluffier stuff like pop culture trivia and random conversational snippets. And just recently we had "Subsidiary proposition". Delightful.

Yep, 21D "Important Scrabble tile" for ESS caught my notice. Could have just as easily been clued "Important crossword grid letter". In both cases the "Importance" lies in how much easier the letter S makes it to get words to cross one another.

In Scrabble the makes-it-easier factor is limited by there only being four S tiles, while in xword grids no such restraint exists. Occasionally we get a grid---not today's---that's ess infested, typically in the form of a passel of POCs. That just makes it way too easy to fill the grid, methinks.

Maybe there also should be a limit to the number of S's in a crossword grid. I'd propose 6% of the total number of grid letters as the upper limit because that's about the percentage of S's in standard English text (e.g.,

Que tengas un buen día.

OISK 1:23 PM  

I still drink whiskey sours - well, generally scotch sours, so I guess I am an anachronism too...Never heard of on the DL, "down low." Oh. Never heard of IMDB, and I hate that kind of clue, since the answer to the uninitiated could be ANY four letters. Don't like welfarism, and I guess there is such a thing as a fry cook, but I haven't ever seen the term that I recall.

Nevertheless, I did finish it, pleased to see it called "challenging." Was defeated by Berry yesterday, a combination of his brilliant puzzle and my lack of imagination. I had every square right but one, but never caught the theme! (Had I seen the theme, I would have gotten the "sagest" instead of "sanest."}

I am fearful about what "inventiveness" awaits over the next three days! A "pop slang" (hip-hop and computerese) themed puzzle from David Steinberg, perhaps?

A question for fellow solvers out there, if Rex will permit me. Are the puzzles in the International Herald Tribune the same as in The Times? Same puzzle, same day? Thanks.

Teedmn 2:08 PM  

EUREKA, I got it today. I'll admit I was not sure it was going to gel in the early going (WELFARISM?) but most of the non-theme fill was easy enough. Hand up for aloe before BALM and aS an before IS TO ( more of a ratio phrase than an analogy phrase in my opinion.)

Fun concept and Wheel of Fortune was in my mind first so HANGMAN wasn't a gimme but it fell right into place.

Thanks JF.

Mohair Sam 2:17 PM  

Fun and easy/medium Wednesday for us. Would have been all easy except for time wasted on the QT as did so many others, never heard the down low abbreviated as DL until today. Thought yesterday's puzzle was much tougher, btw.

FRYCOOKs have always been short order cooks in my world, only heard of them previously in "Ferris Buehler" - so we were hung up for just a minute there. Hand up with the group who find WELFARISM a new word.

NSFW making the news here in Pennsylvania. A Supreme Court judge stepped down from his job because he ignored same and our Attorney General outed his filthy emails to the press. The AG lost her job because she's not allowed to do that. Who says politics ain't fun.

Very much with OFL and @Steve J on "LA Confidential", one of the best flicks ever.

I was gonna say that @Rex is overly-sensitive to the homie/hood thing, and he probably is. But he has a point, I'm sure Will and Joel mean no harm and are in no way being gratuitous - but the usage in the Times puzzle is at best clumsy, why not can it?

Wednesday's Child 2:27 PM  

One more time: ANO is anus, not year (and it was placed almost perfectly in the middle of the bottom).

Decent puzzle though, like others, I didn't 'get it' until I worked my way to the isolated word at the bottom.

How many times can I end a sentence with bottom?

I missed it, what does NSFW stand for?

Nancy 2:33 PM  

@lms, @Gill, @OISK -- I don't remember what the first drink was that a friend made for me from a packet. (I remember the friend, but not the drink. I would imagine I've blocked it out.) Was it a whiskey sour? Or was it a daiquiri? Whichever it was, I do know this: It was the LAST drink I've ever had made from a packet. Which is why, when I saw the 11D clue, it was a complete gimme for me.

Anonymous 2:41 PM  

Thought this was kind of hard, but got "ONTHEDL" right away. Never heard of "ONTHEQT." Is that like "on the quiet" or something?

old timer 2:46 PM  

Hands up for "on the QT" before "on the DL". Which I first heard as a reference to the way black men engage in homoerotic exchanges. It was quite the topic maybe 10 years ago.

I thought the puzzle was pretty easy, myself, and the questions explicitly told you where to put the letters. I guessed HANGMAN before doing the last two themers.

OFL is a little unreasonable about "I GUESS M", methinks. Yes, it does not look like a question, but if you say it aloud the way people do when asking a question, it *becomes* a question.

No problem at all with HOOD. It is a place with "homies" in South Central LA (think "Boyz n the Hood", the great NWA song, also used in a movie) and "hood" for neighborhood is a common usage. Not at all one of those words that only black people can get away with using. Though, yeah, where there are a lot of Latinos, you have gangs and homies, but no HOOD -- maybe "barrio" in some contexts but no HOOD.

'mericans in Paris obviously can answer this, but I think the IHT always carried the current NYT puzzle. They finally renamed the IHT the "International New York Times" or something like that.

Anonymous 2:50 PM  

Well @OISK, they may not have a FRY COOK at the snobby restaurants you frequent, but the rest of us have been to plenty of such establishments. Maybe get your chauffeur to take you to the hood sometime so you can see how the other half lives.

Z 3:34 PM  

@Horace S Patoot - Thanks for the link. I'm not sure of the usage order, though. It could easily have been "keep secret" before the specifically sexual meaning. A quick perusal of the interwebs yielded no concrete answer as to which came first. My complaint still stands, though, using DL rather than "down low" is not a formulation I've heard or seen in this context.

Re: WELFARISM defenders. Yes, no one has said it's not a thing. Hey Look! A Wikipedia entry. Interesting that the Wiki page is not at all related to the clue. Just a faint whiff of desperation here. "Hmmmm, I'm stuck with ISM, which ism should it be? Rac- and Sex- are too short, what to do what to do?"

@GeezerJackYale48 - I took Rex in an entirely different way. I didn't read a call to "political correctness." I read it more as, "hey, you're embarrassing yourself." It took me a re-read to understand how you even got to your response. Watch The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore or Highly Questionable for a couple of weeks and I think you'll start to see a little more where African-American frustration with white America's tone deafness comes from. Today's cluing certainly clanged for me.

Miss Riggy 4:01 PM  

Anonymous is correct about the meaning of "beg the question." Alas, not enough people know the origin of this expression and its original meaning, still current in logic and rhetoric. Aristotle is rolling in his grave, but it's a losing game, and we must follow Berkeley's advice to "think with the learned and speak with the vulgar."

Cassieopia 4:19 PM  

Enjoyed this very much. The fill was fast and allowed me to patiently await what would emerge with the Qs, and when hangman emerged I was delighted! Brought back happy school bus memories - we used to play hangman on the bus windows in the frost on the way to and from school. Loved this puzzle!

Anonymous 5:12 PM  

@airymom said "Even if the dictionary has a definition, it simply does not exist."
@Z said (re: WELFARISM): "Yes, no one has said it's not a thing."

One, or both, of them, is wrong.

Annette 5:20 PM  

Loved it, mainly because I got it!

All these years of reading this blog and I never seem to quite catch the nuances, effects of grid design, etc. But today I looked at the grid and immediately thought, "Hmmmmm, this looks like one of those primitive rock etchings I saw on the Big Island...."

Yes, a big "aaaaahhh!" for me. Yay!


Teedmn 7:47 PM  

@Miss Riggy, I'll cop to using "begging the question" incorrectly. I even wrote it as a song lyric (it had the perfect meter for the line). Not having been in debate, and my 'Logic 1001' class behind me for decades, I can't remember ever hearing it used properly. And with the very convenient meaning the current usage brings to it, I'll probably use it wrongly again in the future and will just have to hope I'm speaking with "the vulgar" :-).

Unknown 8:47 PM  

Aahhh, c'mon Rex. Lighten up or blow it out your @@s.

da kine 10:48 PM  

Okay, you got a little too personal there, but I agree with you. The homies/hood shtick is kind of dumb, but the rest of the puzzle is great. I think this is another case of Rex not being personal friends with the constructor so they must get thrashed. There was no dreck, it was original, and after I was done I didn't look at any part and say "wow, that wasn't fair and I only got it because I was lucky". I didn't think it was particularly challenging so maybe it's an age thing. On the DL is how people my age would answer that clue without thinking. I thought the NYT was supposed to get hip with the kids, no?

Critical Reader 1:27 AM  

@ebpcanimal (0440), language is so interesting. A 'skills-based system', you say. What does that actually translate to? Basket-weaving? Mani-pedi 101? Auto repair? It may be the educational system that's in need of auto-repair.

Leapfinger 2:02 AM  

Interesting write-up for the word of the day, WELFARISM. Reminded me of one thing Richard Feynman wrote: when he used to take nature walks with his father and would ask the names of trees or birds, his father would answer, 'Just because you know the name of something doesn't mean you know anything about it'.

Interesting grid that has HANGMAN fallen through the trapdoor. What else is noose? A pleasing absence of YOLO, FO_SHIZZLE and other such undocumented vocabulary.

Am thinking this the MEATiest FagliANO to date.

Looking forward to FRI.


Triage 101 2:41 AM  

A blood thinner prevents a CLOT. A CLOT-buster (thrombolytics like TPA and streptokinase) targets a clot.

Aintitgrand 9:46 AM  

Chicago was not the best picture of 2002; a beautiful mind was.

Z 12:21 PM  

@anonymous 5:12 - @airymom admits it is a "thing" when she mentions the dictionary entry, just as I acknowledge it is a "thing" when I linked to the wikipage. Just because it is a thing doesn't make it a thing. I suggest googling "Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo." Once you parse that sentence maybe this whole thing thing will be a thing that makes sense.

Anonymous 11:16 PM  

In a dull week that promised innovation and creativity and offered drab puzzles, this was the best puzzle offered. QT or DL -- not a generational thing, just a frame of reference thing. I entered QT first, the Q sure didn't work, and then along came Down Low. Best thing about the puzzle. The Hangman theme was okay, but just okay.

Maybe a better offer to the puzzle designers would inspire better puzzles.

Drew 1:26 AM  

Probably nit picky, but it bothered me that the "answer" to HOWABOUTH began with "Correct!" It feels very incorrect to respond to a question, as opposed to a statement, with "correct."

Burma Shave 9:23 AM  


IGUESSM HERE didn’t likeit
when Bond SWERVEd the new CARR,
but give Bond’s new LADY CREDIT,
ANYA’S asking, “ISTHEREAG force so far?”


rondo 10:04 AM  

IGUESS( I’)M not going to pick this apart as to whether the Qs could all be asked as questions or if Correct! can answer one. I suppose the Correct! is in there since that solves the HANGMAN puz. I had the solve after the first Q/A. Without the vulgarity of begging the question. Sheesh.

Seems to me there was a semi-recent puz where the DL was for the “disabled list” and now it’s for the “down low”. Quirky language this ENGlish.

DAKOTA could have been clued as yeah baby (ISTHEREAG string?) Johnson of 50 Shades. Or the Fanning kid.

Found this much easier than yesterday’s and don’t see why OFL calls it challenging, maybe because he’s a QT and not ONTHEDL.

spacecraft 10:17 AM  

@joho, and perhaps a handful of others, OOHED at this; I did not. One big reason: OOHED. I can't believe I typed that abomination twice. Another is an anagram of it, minus an E: HOOD. I'll add my voice to the many who found this distasteful. HOWABOUT "Locksley's more common surname?" Or "Range topper?"

More nits: META needs to be clued as a prefix, unless you want to go all advanced-organic-chemistry with "Pertaining to positions in a benzene ring separated by one carbon atom." Yeah, right. Who in blazed is Caleb CARR? Fortunately the crosses--including gimme starting point MCENROE--came through. Then, as if we didn't have enough "lettering" (!), we have ESS, DDAY and ONTHEDL. At least that last one wasn't as confusing for me, as I already had CREDIT in. But I agree, that phrase belongs in a sportscast by some fantasy guru.

And lastly, what in the WORLD is NSFW?? I did the acrosses in that corner and it looked normal--then that down. Now I'm going...what can I tear out? That was an awful corner, and I finally just left it, convinced I'd erred somehow. But there it is! IGUESSMaybe it's an acronym for, let's see, "Not suitable for web?" Or WIFI? Or maybe just "watching." I give up. One thing for sure: 51-down is not suitable for crosswords!

As to the HANGMAN game, we now seem to be forcing innovation; never a good thing. You do something new because it's good to do, not BECAUSE it's new. Though I finished this without all that much difficulty, I'm still going to trot out a Peppermint Patty special: D-.

Longbeachlee 1:48 PM  

@Loren This is getting weirder. I so often take the same wrong off-ramps as you, but reading shutout as shortcut and going with eta; we are alone in this blog, and maybe the world. By the way, my name is Smith too.

Longbeachlee 1:50 PM  

In a more non-PC day and time, we called the game Hang the Chinaman.

Anonymous 4:38 PM  

Sorry all you NEGATATORS, I liked this one from beginning to end, even though I guessed at the questionable Meta. Don't know what the hell that means and like Jimmy-Crack-Corn I don't care. Considering the time spent to unravel the rebus, I'd rate this very clever, new, interesting, and a Medium solve. I disagree with the Rev. Parker, as I often do. Perhaps being an old, sweet, compassionate, good looking, intelligent, sweet and generous {WHAT?WHO?} person who simply enjoys a good "solve." has some relevance. :)

Ron Diego, La Mesa (Who still thinks the "Pen is mightier than the pencil).

rain forest 6:02 PM  

Very late, and so immaterial, but I just wanted to get my licks in. I was away for a few days, just getting in today, and so did all three of this week's 'different' puzzles one after the other.

I think it is entertaining to have a week like this, with each puzzle being Thursday-ish in design, and Tuesday-ish in difficulty (at least so far). I had less trouble than some on today's because I felt that 20A could be either QT or DL, and so I waited until it became clear. I also knew that NFSW meant 'not safe for work'. Liked it.

Monday's was very easy, particularly since I once went to a costume party dressed as A POCKETFUL OF RYE--brilliant get-up. People OOHED. Liked it.

Tuesday's puzzle was the hardest, for me, of the three until I twigged to FOGHORN LEGHORN, my best-liked, boy, I say, favourite, Looney Tunes character. Then it became pretty easy. Liked it.

Jaime 10:31 AM  

Hit the nail on the head, thank you! The only ones who associated the words homie and hood with "black people" are the ones perpetuating a stereotype that is weak at best. Many PEOPLE use each word and the ONLY way it would be taken offensively is if someone (Rex) highlights it as racist or if it's used to condescend.

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