Kardashian matriarch / TUE 9-20-16 / Blade in pen / Strip of fabric used for trimming / J Lo's daughter with palindromic name / Set traditionally handed down to eldest daughter

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Constructor: Tracy Bennett

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging (*for a Tuesday*)

THEME: NO PIECE OF CAKE (59A: What a chef might call each dessert featured in this puzzle, literally or figuratively) — desserts that are not cakes and are not (I guess) easy to make (?):

Theme answers:
  • ENGLISH TRIFLE (20A: Layers of sherry-soaked torte, homemade custard and fruit served chilled in a giant stem glass)
  • BAKED ALASKA (35A: Ice cream and sponge topped with meringue and placed in a very hot oven for a few minutes)
  • PLUM PUDDING (42A: Steamed-for-hours, aged-for-months concoction of treacle, brandy, fruit and spices, set afire and served at Christmas)
Word of the Day: RUCHE (15A: Strip of fabric used for trimming) —
noun: ruche; plural noun: ruches
  1. a frill or pleat of fabric as decoration on a garment or home furnishing. (google)
• • •

I see the wordplay here, but since I don't associate these desserts with difficulty (or with much of anything), the joke didn't really land, for me. I spent at least a few seconds trying to make A PIECE OF CAKE work in the revealer, if that tells you anything about how much the joke missed me. I think this is a good puzzle that just feels alien to me—me personally. I can appreciate that it would be a satisfying solve for someone even though that someone wasn't me. I've never had any of these desserts. I had no idea there was any dessert on the planet that was "aged-for-months." The fill also played out of my wheelhouse, and somewhat old, and what wasn't old ... was also alien to me (god save me from another Kardashian klue, or from having to know J-Lo's kid's name !?!?!). Sam Cooke is my kind of old. "DARE WE SAY" isn't. This is certainly cleverer and cleaner than most Tuesdays. Just not to my taste. Like Victorian furnishings—they might be as nice as can be, my eye is never gonna be happy.

Clues were tough for me today, at least in several places they were. 14A: Blade in the pen (SHIV) totally baffled me. Tried to make sense of both "blade" and "pen" and just couldn't. I had ice skates and writing implements in my head. I've heard of ruching, I think, but not a single RUCHE, so that was rough. Very hard to pick up "DARE WE SAY" from the back end (which is how I came at it), though I imagine it would've caused me some trouble from the front as well. How is an ® a sign for ™? They are different keys on my keyboard and must mean different things, right? I had ERIN for EIRE (68A: Land of Blarney) and DEALS for MEALS (53D: "Square" things, ideally) and even getting SIMP from just 66A: Fool was tough. And, as I say, EMME shmemme (61D: J.Lo's daughter with a palindromic name).

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


mathgent 12:13 AM  

I liked it a lot. Not hard, but quite lively. A solid B in my book.

Is it just me, or has Rex lost interest? Try to find some content in today's comment.

Floregonian 12:18 AM  

"Blade in the pen" is a blade in the penitentiary—a homemade knife—and thus a shiv. I didn't get that either until just now reading this review.

I like the theme answers and the revealer. Those deserts are hard to make, for sure, and thus they aren't pieces of cake. Even though they kind of are, loosely.

I also think the fill is quite clean. I enjoyed this one. Played just about average for me—so definitely more in my wheelhouse than Rex's.

Anonymous 12:20 AM  

Baked Alaska is just cake à la mode with meringue on top.
Trifle is sponge cake with fruit and custard on top, sometimes in the middle.

You know, cake.

Floregonian 12:22 AM  

Also, was going to say, the one thing I didn't love about the theme answers was the way the first two had a geographic connnection (England and Alaska). That's just how they came together, I guess, but I did spend the first half of the puzzle wondering if these were all geographically-placed desserts. I'm glad they weren't, but then that one thing felt a little loose to me.

Larry Gilstrap 12:28 AM  

Hey, OFL! Ever eat fruitcake that has been soaking in rum, or whiskey, or brandy, or all of the above for months? Might I suggest you do. People who POOP-poo fruit cake have only eaten the variety made by Baptists. Pastry chefs are just now collecting fruit soon to be baked into loaves which will be stored away and regularly doused with liquor. Merry Christmas to you and yours, from a LUSH. I hear, through the grapevine, that J.Lo has turned into a pretty nice person, but I too struggled with her daughter's name; Is it NAOMI, or ESTEE, or EDNA, or KRIS, or MARIA, or Erin? Then I see it's a palindrome with easy crosses. Bold generalization: IAMBic pentameter is the greatest achievement of the English language.

Ellen S 12:44 AM  

I thought this was easier than yesterday (including not cheating, which, if I do on a Monday or Tuesday, I feel repentant). I have eaten PLUM PUDDING (my ex-sister-and-brother-in-law used to make it; one of the few things I miss about that marriage), and the other two desserts sounded yummy. and gave me no trouble filling in even if I haven't ever eaten them.

Dr. Bunger 12:50 AM  

The indentation on the port side of the forward thwart of a whaling boat is called the CLUMSY-cleat. The harpooneer placed his left thigh in the cleat to steady himself while preparing to dart his harpoon. Next, was what you Americans called a Nantucket sleigh ride.

Malena 1:03 AM  

Something I can answer! (R) is a federally registered trademark, while TM indicates a common law trademark (that is, a mark that a business acquires through use rather than registration). There are different remedies and avenues for protecting the two different kinds of marks. So two different things, but both can be called a trademark.

jae 1:04 AM  

Medium for me. Fun theme. I had no idea about the recipes (except for maybe BAKED ALASKA) so needed the crosses to see what was cooking.

UNnerve before UNHINGE.

Not much gluey stuff plus educational (we are huuuge Food Network fans), liked it a lot!

Richard Rutherford 1:07 AM  

TM means Trade Mark. An R in a circle is a Registered Trade Mark. Both are ubiquitous.

Richard Rutherford 1:07 AM  

TM means Trade Mark. An R in a circle is a Registered Trade Mark. Both are ubiquitous.

Anoa Bob 2:13 AM  

With 36 black squares, there's a bit more open feel to the grid than lately, so I had hopes for some good fill. SVELTE sure fit the bill right out of the gate, but was somewhat offset by the ACTS, TINGS, RASTAS triPOCta in the same area.

DAREWESAY further dampened my spirits. Strikes me as more of a nine-letter partial than a stand-alone semantic chunk.

Then I was totally won over by UNHINGE. If I were to make a list of my twenty-five favorite words in the English language, that would be on it. HINGE has no obvious connection---door swings open, door swings shut--- but when the UN- is attached, it takes on a whole new level of unexpected, evocative meaning. I'm a SUCKER for that kind of stuff.

Oh, there was a theme? Never had any those non-CAKEs, and if BAKED ALASKA has a sponge in it, I'm going to keep it that way.

Hartley70 2:18 AM  

Well these LUSH desserts are right up my ALLEY and I love dessert.

NOPIECEOFCAKE is not a perfect revealer since one dessert is easy to make and two do have cake as an ingredient. I'm simply seeing it as not a traditional iced layer cake as the menu's sweet. It works for me. I'd much rather ruminate on dessert than anagrams or the ALOU brothers any day.

It's just not Christmas in my world without PLUMPUDDING. I'm the only one in my family who feels this way, but then again I'm the only one who had my grandmother, so I became a devotee at an early age. Thanks for the reminder, Tracy.

TRIFLE is a PIECEOFCAKE. It's the easiest dessert in the world to make if you buy the lady fingers, but it packs a punch at the dinner party table. I made it frequently in the 90's.

BAKEDALASKA is not a favorite of mine. It feels very 1950's and I'm not a big fan of merangue luckily since there's an egg allergy in the house. I would, however, be quite happy to give it another try if it appeared on my plate. Needless to say, I liked this theme ALOT.

Now RUCHE is another matter. I'm not happy with this clue and my resident fabric guru is asleep so I can't ask the expert. To RUCHE is to make pleats or gather the fabric as decoration or, more wonderfully, to conceal figure flaws. It's been very popular the last few years in the dress trade. I just don't see RUCHE as a separate piece of fabric used as trim edging. Sorry, Tracey or Will or whoever clued this. Of course I may eat my words, not dessert sadly, in the light of day after appropriate consultation.

@Nancy, I can brag that I knew sporty BAER also, not from crossword fill, but because I had a summer job clerking for a Judge BAER. The Judge was so kind that the name stuck when Max crossed my path at some point, even though I believe he's way before my time.

This puzzle will skew easier for the older female solvers, I suspect, since it hit me like a home economics class. A little cooking, a little sewing, neither of which appear on the junior high curriculum of modern students and seem archaic today, but gave me an hour of fun several times a week.

Cristina 2:38 AM  

I enjoyed the puzzle although the lower left section gave me some trouble for a bit. Also, to me, anyway, "ruche" is a verb. I do sew and have never seen it used in this clue's context. And I'm sort of old. ;-)

George Barany 3:09 AM  

I found @Tracy Bennett's Tuesday puzzle, her third overall in the New York Times to be delicious, with a satisfying reveal. Thanks, @Rex, for explaining RUCHE, as well as linking to the unfamiliar-to-me @Aretha Franklin version of the @ Sam Cooke classic.

Among the interesting insights from the first round of the commentariat, @Floregonian has already explained the clever clue for SHIV, and noted that the first two theme entries have geographical connotations; @AnoaBob has a fun take on UNHINGE; and @Hartley70 found several intriguing nuances. Thanks to all!

With respect to some of the proper names appearing in the puzzle, the MELINDA clue was great; it was thoughtful of @Tracy to add the palindrome hint to the EMME clue; and ESTEE brought back memories of a puzzle from 2 months ago.

Bookin' the Cooks 3:23 AM  

@Hartley70 You called it: older female here, as well as amateur baker and sewer, and I sailed through this puzzle. It was truly APIECEOFCAKE.

Agree with you, also, about RUCHE. I know the word as both a verb and a noun, but as a noun it is an effect, not a piece of trim. I've never heard the definition given in the clue so I looked it up in the dictionary and there it was. Who knew? To me that sounds simply like a ruffled trim, not ruching. Oh well. *shrug*

The only reason I knew BAER is that his son, Max Baer, Jr. played Jethro on the Beverly Hillbillies way back in the 60s, and way back then I'd read an article about the actor and his father. For some unknown reason, the fact that Mex Baer, Sr. was a boxer stuck in my memory.

The clue "blade in a pen" was very clever, imo. It had me stumped at first so I decided to solve the down clues, which went quickly, and then there it was: SHIV. 'Doh!

A friend and I shared a Baked Alaska at a restaurant once. It was good but I don't feel the need to ever eat another one. English truffle is fine, but give me a rum soaked fruitcake any day, not just at Christmas! My ex mother-in-law made the best. It was the only time she ever ingested alcohol, as she otherwise ESCHEWed imbibing.

This is all now putting me in the mood to put on some music by my favorite RASTA, Bob Marley, and start baking PLUMPUDDING.

Anonymous 3:38 AM  

In defense of the theme, if at a restaurant you ordered a PIECE OF CAKE for dessert and were served any of the three, you'd be well within your rights to exclaim, "hey, mf, this ain't NO PIECE OF CAKE!" And if a chef *had* made lady fingers from scratch....

Loren Muse Smith 4:09 AM  

Hand up for briefly thinking the location played into the theme, but shortly thereafter, I saw the deal. Desserts that aren't just your pedestrian slice of layer cake. I'm no cook, so they all seem hard to me.

I didn't have too much trouble at all. Had to erase "sedan" for SKIRT for the 57D mini. Hi, @Tita.

And I had "epee" first for the blade. SHIV was easy enough to work out, though.

Liked UNDO crossing OOPS and the two fools: SUCKER and SIMP.

My son, in his heyday of adolescent fascination with POOP, used SHARD as a verb in the past tense. Hey, Mom – you doing any laundry this afternoon? OOPS.

I think if I were offered only PLUM PUDDING or fruitcake for dessert, I'd feel really disappointed. Granted, I've never had the former, but, well, ick. Sorry, @Larry, @Hartley 70.

Sweet puzzle, Tracy. DIGEST in the grid is a nice flourish.

(Oh, and my two cents, fwiw – trolls are out for one thing - a reaction, any reaction. I say we just ignore them. They're beneath contempt.)

Ronnie 5:21 AM  

The International New York Times puzzle had an extra column on the left with unglued answers 14, 40 and 70 going down. This certainly made the solve No Piece of Cake and I really thought that the theme was great given this extra twist. Seeing that it was just an error in printing, ruined the revealer for me.

CFXK 6:12 AM  

Re Rex's question, "How is an ® a sign for ™? "

An ® is not a sign for ™. It is the sign accompanying the trademarked design itself - the sign placed next to or within the actual "trademark." The clue reads "Designs with ® symbols: Abbr." The answer to this is not the plural form of the ™ symbol. Rather, the answer is the abbreviation of the word "trademarks." The reference is to the trademark, no to another symbol for trademark. A subtle difference, but a difference nonetheless.

Wags 6:49 AM  

Solving this was a piece of cake...

Hungry Mother 7:05 AM  

I used to prepare ENGLISHTRIFLE and PLUMPUDDING, have only eaten BAKEDALASKA on long cruises. I found the puzzle very easy, but it played slow for some reason.

Lewis 7:19 AM  

This puzzle had bite, as it were, for a Tuesday, and even a rare-for-Tuesday clever clue ("Blade in a pen"), which was a treat. With that clue I was going after a synonym for "nib". I (like @anoabob) liked UNHINGE, as well as NICOSIA.

I like that NINE IRON in row three, the backward STAR in the same grid as STARS, and EDGY on the EDGE. And I kind of like the image of YESES under the STARS.

Would have been a nice touch for a dessert puzzle to have a sweet ending, and I don't think RATS would qualify, but I'm really not complaining, as this was a terrific Tuesday.

Billy C. 7:36 AM  

I wet the bed last night. Again.

Old Lady 7:57 AM  

TRIFLE is time-consuming and not "easy" to make if you use a really rich homemade custard, as in Joy of Cooking. It takes time and attention, but the results - oh,my. Had IAM_ and groaned because I thought the clue was going to be another dog food clue (tired of alpo in the crosswords, anyone?) and instead found a solid literary clue for IAMB.

Passing Shot 7:59 AM  

On the easier side for me, but I've had an ENGLISH TRIFLE and have enjoyed PLUM PUDDING many times. I agree with @Hartley70 that this felt like home economics class. Not a fan of the "royal we" in DAREWESAY; I've heard (and at some point probably said) DARE I SAY. All in all, though, an enjoyable and tasty Tuesday.

Anonymous 8:09 AM  

Ctrl z

Tita A 8:25 AM  

How can anyone not love a dessert-filled puzzle?!
@Hartley...I'm with you for loving it in spite of the minor thematic imperfection.

Hard to be SVELTE with this theme... Liked DIGEST. And Chew the fat.

Mom was on the making things frilly business. Used RUCHing a lot. Never heard it as this Singular of Convenience. But I don't mind, really...

@Floregonian...me too for geography.

lol... No...I couldn't make COOPER fit at 57D.

I've had BAKEDALASKA once, and while i ate it all up, don't need to have another. My most awesome chef cousin married a Brit, and embraced PLUMPUDDING ... Hers is really yummy.

Great, delicious idea. Thanks Ms. Bennet.

Z 8:27 AM  

A little hiccup in the north. I had TINkS and I had taken out LUSH because I was thinking it and "luxuriant" were maybe the same word. RUCHE sounded vaguely familiar, but I wasn't sure that it couldn't be RoCHE. That and never hearing of an ENGLISH TRIFLE slowed me until I fixed TINGS.

I did a little post solve research and LUSH, luxuriant, and luscious all come from different origins. Lush possibly from lax, luxuriant from Latin, and luscious as a variant of licious, short for delicious.

I was ASKED off blog about my team preferences given that the Tigers seemed to have played themselves out of the post-season. My reply was that the fat lady hasn't sung yet. Then today Rex posts Aretha singing. Of course, she's only "fat" by American model standards, so I'm not taking it as an omen. Honest. I'm not.

Alastair King 8:30 AM  

I'm English, so I struggled with 20 across at first. I would just call it... a trifle.

AliasZ 8:35 AM  

What ACUTE and sweet puzzle! And a piece of cake to boot. Tracy Bennett, YOU SEND ME to WaitWatchers® with some potential NINE course MEALS, starting with Salade NIÇOISE (not to be confused with the capital of Cyprus), and ending with just desserts. Afterwards we DIGEST for a few hours, but sadly, in the end it all turns to POOP.

For a few other cakes that are NO PIECE OF CAKE to make, here are three examples from the rich Hungarian tradition of this culinary art. The first two fuse decorative folk art with baking: the embroidered cake*, another one demonstrating what RUCHE is*. The king of all however is the eponymous Dobos torte created by József C. Dobos in 1884. These will make you gain weight by just looking. Enjoy!

*I am not sure, but these two links may only work for those who have a Facebook account.

All we are saying, is give piece of cake.

wgh 8:36 AM  

I liked it. I am also wondering how a dessert can be aged for months.

Tita A 8:40 AM  

Posting about ignoring the trolls is in fact feeding the trolls.
So here I go. (Eat up...you've got plenty of empty-calorie fare today...)

As @lms wisely says, let's agree now to ignore them forever more.
It's really hard when they attack one of our own, but hey...y'all know we all love you, or at least defend your right to be you, so know now that we pass right over. ( Unless they attack me, of course...then please to go right ahead and defend my fragile honor/ego.)

Besides ...it's better to fly past them then to go back to the dreaded Moderation.

chefbea 8:43 AM  

What a great puzzle...I ate it up!!! Not only the desserts but the salad nicoise. No time to read the posts...will do that later. I have made trifle and baked alaska...never plum pudding

Mr. Benson 8:44 AM  

Funny that for "blade in a pen," Rex was thinking of ice skates and writing implements. For a while I was thinking of grass in a farm enclosure.

Jamie C 8:50 AM  

I had 2 small but significant beefs with this otherwise decent puzzle: 1) ACUTE, in reference to an illness, means "with a rapid onset," but it does not mean severe. ACUTE otitis media is a simple ear infection. It is most certainly not severe. From a medical dictionary: "Acute" is a measure of the time scale of a disease and is in contrast to "subacute" and "chronic." "Subacute" indicates longer duration or less rapid change. "Chronic" indicates indefinite duration or virtually no change. And 2) What is "Command-Z?" In trying to make a cute clue, the constructor just made something up.

jberg 9:02 AM  

Like @Alastair King, I'd never heard the dessert called anything but TRIFLE, and I'm pretty sure that's all they call it in England. But ENGLISH TRIFLE is all over the Internet, so I guess it's a thing here in America. I don't think we'll be getting "English Spotted Dick" any time, soon, though. (It is a great dessert, all the same.)

I know PLUM PUDDING mostly because it gets mentioned in the Christmas Revels, as well as in lots of novels. I've always assumed it was just what those people call fruitcake, but is there a difference? my ex-mother-in-law used to spend months pouring whiskey or brandy over her fruitcake, but she didn't set it on fire at the end.

Oh, the puzzle. I loved GLOMS. OHMS is a little tired.

Z 9:03 AM  

@Jamie C - For most computer software there are standard keyboard shortcuts. Holding down the control key and the Z key is the same as using your mouse to navigate to the Edit menu and selecting the undo command.

Alexander Grimwade 9:04 AM  

This was easy for me - my fastest Tuesday yet. My mother used to make plum puddings in January and keep them until Christmas -- 10+ months incubation. English trifle was called Scottish trifle where I come from and was a standard dessert after roast beef Sunday lunches. The Italians call it "Zuppa inglese" -- so definitely not a cake.

Numinous 9:07 AM  

Ka-POW! Jeff loved this one. I did too. I'm not sure what it says about me but SHIV just went in with no questions or doubts. My only write-over was in the ENGLISH TRuFLE. I was thinking MELuNDA looked a little weird. "Medium-challenging"? I thought it was easy. The geography gave me no qualms but it did take me a bit to see NO before PIECE OF CAKE which seems like such a positive answer.

When I lived in Australia, my mother-in-law would, on the first weekend of October, bake several Chrissy Cakes and put them up in tins above the refrigerator. Every Sunday after that until Christmas week, she would open each tin and pour brandy over each cake. The fruit bits down there are not candied the way they are in the US so the cake is sort of fruitier without being cloyingly sweet. Gawd I miss those cakes.

I haven't had breakfast yet and already I'm wanting dessert.

Roo Monster 9:08 AM  

Hey All !
MAY I iterate that,
I didn't say, "Oh, RATS!"
As I SCOOTed through
With nary an UNDO.
I thought it A CUTE puz,
Yes, it really WAS.
Didn't find it CLUMSY,
For a SIMP like me.
Hardly had an OOPS!
You needn't have been BAKED,
To get this PIECE OF CAKE.
This WAS my lame sham
At speaking in IAMB!

Ok, silliness aside, I did like this puz, although two of the desserts sound easy to make. Never tried, mind you, but the BAKED ALASKA sounds SIMPle. Just sayin. :-)

Light dreck, however, crossing RUCHE with MELINDA (as clued) was just mean! Though TRIFLE would be TRUFFLE, but a letter too long. Could've work in symmetrical DIGEST LESSON as themers!

DOIT a DOOK. USE and USUAL, though not that big a deal. TINGS next to CHINA. SHARD and SHIV. Funny how LUSH can either be luxurious, or a drunk!

Very nice TuesPuz. Don't even know why I pointed out some nits. Just being UNHINGEd.


Nancy 9:14 AM  


I found this enjoyable, with colorful, mouth-watering descriptions of the desserts. Even the one I don't especially like, PLUM PUDDING, sounded delicious here. A sweet puzzle.

Casimir 9:22 AM  

I really enjoyed the puzzle, almost as much as I have and will continue to enjoy all of the desserts mentioned. I would like to praise OFL for the measured tone, dare we say, humility, in his comments today. Instead of feeling like a blinkered Philistine after reading the write-up, as I sometimes do, I was heartened by their live-and-let-live nature! Thanks Rex!

Anonymous 9:24 AM  

Meh on the puzzle.
My English rellies always make "plum" pudding without plums - with raisins and currants instead - absolutely delicious flamed and served with brandy butter. Usually made a year ahead, but at least two months before serving.

QuasiMojo 9:26 AM  

My title would be "Fat Tuesday." Another "lush" dessert I like is "zuppa Inglese" which I first tasted at the Ritz in London. This was an excellent Tuesday puzzle. Rich and creamy.

Jamie C 9:33 AM  

@Z (9:03): I am aware of all of that, but the clue says "Command-Z command." There is a "ctrl-z" but there is no "command-z" on any keyboard I have ever seen.

Carola 9:37 AM  

A Tuesday treat. Knowing all of the desserts, I found it easy to solve and also enjoyed the trip down a culinary memory lane. Custard - is there any food more divine? (YOU SEND ME!). I still think longingly of an ENGLISH TRIFLE I was served in the 1980s, sigh. That was also the decade in which I made a PLUM PUDDING, which I did indeed stash away for months in the back of a kitchen cupboard that I deemed to be closest to a larder, all the while hoping I wouldn't be poisoning my family. It turned out to be non-lethal and delicious, perhaps because for me it was basically a vehicle for brandy hard sauce. Anyway. I thought the puzzle was great and I loved the reveal. I also liked the joke of a salad (NICOISE) being at cross-purposes with PUDDING and CAKE.

CFXK 9:43 AM  

@Jamie C: The Apple keyboard has a "command" key (once also commonly known as the Apple key). It was introduced on the Apple III in 1980 and has been a standard feature ever since - with "command-z being the undo command. So, if you've seen an Apple keyboard anytime in the last 36 years, you've seen the command key. You just didn't know it - or likely have any reason to know it.

Elephant's Child 9:47 AM  

@Dr Bunger
Thank you for today's snippet. It left me nicely musing upon an After thwart

Anonymous 9:47 AM  

Per Wikipedia, "plum" was a pre-Victorian term for raisin. Actual plums were never included in the recipe. It's of course the alcohol that prevents spoiling while aging.

Amy 9:53 AM  

this was easy ! I have had trifle and it is definitely at the very least an elaborate dessert that gets a big reception ooohs and aaaahs. found "no piece of cake" a little deflating as a revealer as people don't really use that phrase in the negative. first time ever I scored a puzzle easier than Rex.

CFXK 10:00 AM  

Always wanted to see a clue for Baked Alaska along these lines: "The 49th state after cannabis is legalized?"

Not holding my breath on that one, though

Doug Garr 10:03 AM  

Easy for me and enjoyable. My only hiccup was GRAB instead of GLOM.

Jamie C 10:11 AM  

@CFXK: Aha! That makes sense. Much appreciated.

GILL I. 10:17 AM  

Rats....I wanted Figgy PUDDING with one F.
Loved the puzzle. Good fun food. Words I love seeing like SIMP GLOMS SUCKER TINGS SCOOT. You can almost make a sentence out of those - or, better yet, make it a name for a law firm.
My husband has to have either PLUM PUDDING or the F one on Christmas. (Hi @Hartley) I tried to make it once following Martha Stewart's recipe. Her's was a two weeks ahead version and it tasted awful. Not only was it impossible to make, but it reeked of god-awful booze. We now buy them in tins.

johnny stocker 10:22 AM  

Interesting. SHIV is the first word I filled in. Guess I've got a more violent mind than Rex...

Jkseph Michael 10:42 AM  

Not in my wheelhouse, but well executed and DARE WE SAY a TRIFLE challenging for a Tuesday.

r.alphbunker 10:44 AM  

Just desserts? Yes! I solved it visiting clues randomly. Took longer than an average Tuesday but perhaps it was because the puzzle was harder than the average Tuesday. Details are here

puzzle hoarder 10:52 AM  

No piece of cake for the hoarder. This took about twice the usual Tuesday time to reach a clean grid. In no small part from my own misreadings (there's no Gates in philosophy etc.) RUCHE is one of those uncommon entries I've yet to memorize. 20A was unknown to me but it is a debut.
@CFXK, excellent clarifications on TMS and UNDO, saved me some Googling
Trolls are like drunk drivers, God loves them and others suffer.

old timer 11:03 AM  

DARE WE SAY this was a delicious puzzle, and one that put OFL in an (almost) good mood? Probably because he got to show us that picture of the entrance to the "Square Deal Town", the former home of the Endicott Johnson shoe factory, Which is close to Binghampton, where Michael Sharo teaches,

As it happens, I've had all those desserts. TRIFLE was often served when I was at school in England. PLUM PUDDING is, I agree, a wonderful vehicle for having hard sauce at Christmas. And it has no plums, usually. I have had BAKED ALASKA two or three times in my life, but the one I remember was when my mother took me to the Edwardian Room at the old Plaza Hotel in New York when I was 13, I had often read about BAKED ALASKA but never had it, and I was very impressed.

BTW the dessert has no geographical connection to ALASKA, it simply refers to the ice cream inside that has been baked and yet remains cold.

Leapfinger 11:08 AM  

I also thought the theme would involve geographic desserts, so my disappointment at not finding Turkish Delight was likely responsible for thinking NO PIECE (peace?) OF MIND. Me, I make a mean (and LUSHous) Scottish version of ENGLISH TRIFLE called Tipsy Laird. Instead of cake or ladyfingers there's  amaretti, and just drizzling instead of soaking with Madeira, my dear, so it doesn't turn into a GLOp. I've tried to make the Croquembouche that @Tracy B talks about, but ran into terminal problems with the cooked sugar that ended with six small pans of irreversible hard candy, and a low mound instead of a spire of dessert . My difficulties with cooking sugar is what prevents me from attempting the Dobos torte that @AliasZ mentions, so thanks, @Alias, for mentioning the Dobos, but no thanks for pre-empting the dessert-POOP sequence.

Liked the NINE [Inch Nails] after yesterday's SQUAREs, and the clue/entry SHIV, though 'shank' is more au courant among the incarcerated, I believe.

@Anoa Bob, your sponge remark brought a laugh, and reminded me of a slightly related incident. When I was in hmm, my third round of back-to-school, my housemate and I had made involved plans for Halloween costumes: she would be an eggplant, I an ear of corn. There was something I needed to dye, so (as per instructions), I strained the dye in the kitchen sink, using an old pair of panty-hose, which I then hung over the sink to dry. When I came home late that night, there was a meringue pie waiting for me on the kitchen table; nice, but curiously flat. On investigation, I discovered that Dee had made me a panty-hose meringue pie.

@Bookin' the Cooks, don't know whether it was you or your autocorrect, but thanks for the truffle. You also reminded me that Bob Marley and his close associates at one time kept a large number of ferrets, hamsters, guinea pigs and gerbils. Seems they were subject to a RASTA furry yen.

Out I go now now to find a LO-CAL HERO; all this food has made me PLUMP.

Aketi 11:09 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
chefbea 11:10 AM  

Forgot to mention..my most favorite trifle is one I make with chocolate cake that had been soaked in Kalua. chocolate pudding and cool whip. very easy and soooo delish

Aketi 11:12 AM  

@All the Chefs, I may bake pies, but anything else that involves more than shoving food a microwave to reheat it if it happened to cool down during the delivery to our door is NO PIECE OF CAKE to me. I admit, however, that group cooking can be fun when you can sip some of the ingredients as you go. When a group of 20 of us gathered for a friend's transition out of QUINQUAGENARIAN status I was given a LESSON in how to build the tiramisu structure usung lady fingers soaked in expresso and brandy. The brandy and the coffee were excellent as was the creation that emerged while under their influence.

@Nancy, haha, you are right of course but... So tempting. Apart from being vertically challenging my love of eating precludes ever becoming SVELTE.

I liked the NIX crossing the EXES at the X.

Even though I grew up an exurban town, Ive lived in a highly urban area for over 2 decades now. Nevertheless, trash cans in New York City are out there fior all to see, fill, overfill, and surround with near misses of trash and plastic bags filled with an item in the puzzle routinely supplied by dogs. A few weeks ago when we were in Chicago with the munchkin I felt a huge sense of unease with the cleanliness, I couldn't figure out where all the grit and garbage was hidden. I had no idea that the answer was "in the ALLEYS".

Malsdemare 11:14 AM  

@DrBunger. I got a great giggle from "Nantucket sleigh ride." I've had a few of those after getting pitched from a horse; would those be Louisville sleigh rides? But have never heard of the CLUMSY cleat. Generally in our experience, it's an unannounced jibe that sends folks into the drink. My Captain Oh Captain routinely forgets that simple little announcement.

I got SUCKERed into thinking these tricks would all have place names, so PLUM wasn't as easy as BAKEDALASAK or ENGLISHTRIFLE. Trifle is my go-to dessert for huge crowds that I want to impress. Delicious, makes a gorgeous presentation, and while very time-consuming to make, doesn't require master culinary skills. Either that or Mrs. Patmore's meringues (for our infrequent Downton Abbey dinners).

Got SHIV, have no idea what J-Lo's daughter's name is, palindrome or not, really liked SVELTE, which would be impossible if you GLOMmed onto these desserrts very often. Thanks, Tracy. Now I'm hungry.

Alex 11:24 AM  

I liked this puzzle a lot. It seemed to me to be a little "girl"y, and I'm a female. Sewing terms, desserts, food generally. Plus I lived in Ireland for six months. I think she may have made it especially for me! PIMP before SIMP, and fun all around.
I'm also older than Rex, so what seemed antiquated to him seemed less so than to me.

John 11:29 AM  

For the olds.

Tom 11:47 AM  

Fast finish, easy Tuesday. All gettable with crosses. Agree with Rex about RUCHE and EMME. Re: yesterday's post, gotta preview my comments. Stupid self-correction changed what I typed. Meant to type "had BAjA Boys, but jOLLYWOOD SQUARES didn't quite work." Preview before posting!

TomAz 11:58 AM  

I solved this a little faster than my Tuesday average. I thought the puzzle was fine.

I only know RUCHE from crosswords and it took a while to come to me. I had SHIV then took it out because I didn't like SV- starting 4D. I didn't know which Kardashian leads that skulk but it was fairly easy with the crosses.

The fact that some of these desserts contain cake as a component is a non-issue. Not as pedantic as the dash/hyphen discussion but it's in the same neighborhood. IMHO.

Dick Swart 11:59 AM  

Before I looked at the number of squares, I thought 'blade in a a pen' was 'Gatti'.

A tasty tuesday morning.

Chaos344 12:03 PM  

Very nice puzzle! More like easy-medium for me. Only a minute or two off my average Tuesday. Although I'm usually a "downs first" solver, I peeked at the clue for 20A and saw that the theme was obviously unusual desserts. I was pretty certain BAKED ALASKA was going to be one of the answers, but just went ahead and finished the "down" clues. After that, I had quite a bit to work with.

@Floregonian: For future cruciverbal reference, "blade in a pen" could also be SHANK. I'm sure more than a few UNHINGED inmates even resorted to SHARDS, were they lucky enough to have GLOMMED some glass contraband in IRON city?

@ Larry Gilstrap : You and I would probably get along famously. If it's an edible that can be enhanced by adding a potent potable, I'm all for it!

@Dr. Bunger: CLUMSY-cleat? LMAO! You and I are probably among the few people on the planet who know that useless piece of trivia. I live less than two blocks from the whale boat displayed at the Sag Harbor Whaling Museum, and my ancestors were whalers.

@LMS: Maybe you provided TMI for some posters here, but I couldn't help laughing at your son's use of SHARD as a verb in the past tense. Priceless! Of course I SHARD know by now, that you can make any subject humorous. I only hope that he didn't go through a stage of actual coprophagia with his POOP? That would have been ALOT harder for you to DIGEST than a little extra laundry, right? IAMB fairly certain that condition would have provided multiple ONO moments fer sure!

@Lewis: Hmm? Don't know what format you solve with, but if NICOSIA wasn't a typo in your post, you had a DNF. Just sayin!

@Z: Meet me at Target Field tonight. 8:10 PM EST sharp! We can listen to the fat lady practicing her scales. You're welcome to join us Rex! LOL.

@jberg: I've heard of "English Spotted Dick" but never sampled same. I'll take your word that it is delicious, but I have to ask, Is it served atop English Wal-nuts?

Marianne Campolongo 12:09 PM  

Thought the desserts were location-based at first too, and the "no" before piece of cake" slowed me down a bit - but overall easy and fast, a few seconds off my best time for a Tuesday.

Joe Bleaux 12:32 PM  

Good gravy! This fun puzzle wasn't about "just" desserts (I know, fellow pedants -- the expression is properly "just deserts," with only one "s"): What a bounty of food and dining references in clues and answers! HAM, CHINA, FAT, SUGAR, SALADE, LOLLIPOP, MEAL, DIGEST -- and the USUAL for the LUSH who chose to drink instead of eat, thus delaying his post until lunch hour (hic), when there was little left to say.

Elephant's Child 12:42 PM  

Re: egg allergies, am wondering whether they are a response to the yolk or the glair. Any knowledge about that out there?

Alongside the other two desserts, BAKED ALASKA is palin' by comparison.

Masked and Anonymous 12:44 PM  

Grid calorie content: 37,500. Grid U-count: 007. thUmbsUp.

Had PLAST at 5-A. Had no earthly idea about RUCHE, altho it does have endangered-letter-immunity. Thought 20-A was gonna end in -TRUFLE. This disguised MELINDA well enough as T?LUN?A to really tick off some serious extra precious nanoseconds, for the M&A.

Sam COOKe appearance herein seems appropriate.
fave Sam COOKe song: "Good Times".

fave trifle word: YDS. Honrable mention to TMS.
fave bygone weeject: TKOD.
fave simp-metric pairin: SVELTE SUCKER.

Only dessert that M&A has encountered, today: NO PIECE OF CAKE. The rest of the desserts, I have never ever encountered. The one with the "sponge" in it sounds like some sorta surgery error, btw.

Kinda tough, for a TuesPuz, which is more than ok by me. Ain't never had the NICOISE salad, either.
Any puzgrid with POOP toward the bottom has its heart in the right place, tho. So …

Thanx, Ms. Bennett. Fun one.
Nice write-up, @Sunshine.

Masked & Anonym0007Us

… burrrrp:

Elephant's Child 12:48 PM  

Will ® and ™ be the dashed hyphen of the day?

Leapfinger 12:58 PM  

Anyone else notice that a KRIS is a kind of a SHIV? Near-symmetry, also.

(There's more than one way to avoid a Karhyphenian...)

Evan Jordan 1:03 PM  

Agreed. Cross filling the PLUM of PLUM PUDDING was (in its own microcosmic way) such a bummer I started spinning through my mental Rolladex for a geographic Plum but had the sense to drop it and accept the obvious. The revealer was just a good after all that. Nice hard Tuesday that flowed with my wheelhouse well enough to beat my average Tuesday time without rushing. I think I got luckier than @Rex as far as the direction of approach and sequential accumulation of crosses on the harder clues. Didn't know RUCHE and several others I knew phonetically but not by definition. Good times.

Kevin Colby 1:16 PM  

TM symbol means unregistered trademark and r means registered trademark. In reality they both mean trademark...

Masked and Anonymous 1:20 PM  


Yeah, come on and let the Good Times roll.
We're gonna stay here till we soothe our souls,
If it take all night long …

[Reminds me fondly of many an M&A NYT SatPuz solvequest.]

"Cinnamon Rolls: Not Just for Dessert, Anymore"

Teedmn 1:21 PM  

Anyone offering me either of the first two desserts would get YESES from me. I have made (or helped make) BAKED ALASKA twice, both times in middle school. I do not remember using cake at all. Our version involved a pasty crust. So you had to bake the crust, slice the Neapolitan ice cream to fit into the crust, and then get the meringue baked without melting the ice cream. It was great fun, but a lot of work, I thought.

As for PLUM PUDDING, I'm not sure what inspired my mother to bring one home from the store one year, but I thought it was okay if enough of the accompanying butter sauce was used.

I thought this puzzle had all kinds of TINGS to like, and not aS HARD as Rex found it. Nice one, Tracy Bennett.

Z 1:47 PM  

@Jamie C - Apologies for the less than clarifying answer. Thanks @CFXK - for doing a better job of it. The worst part of my bad answer is that I'm a Mac User, always have been. Apple Key-Z and Command-Z are part of my vocabulary, and still I translated my answer into WindowSpeak. {shaking fist at Sky} Damn You MELINDA's husband. @everyone else - That wiki link is way more comprehensive than I would have imagined. Everything you wanted to know about keyboard shortcuts and a little bit more.

@Chaos - No fair weather fan I. I'll be watching from my cold weather abode in Black Mountain. As for Aretha, remember the last week of the 1987 season and don't lose hope. I've got Boyd as Frank Tanana and J-Up playing the role of Larry Herndon. Ausmus still needs a little work on his Sparky, but there are days when his glower at a stupid question makes me think there is a little George Anderson in the man.

Masked and Anonymous 1:48 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Masked and Anonymous 1:57 PM  

… Gotta tell you, evenin' sun is sinkin' low.
The clock on the wall say it's time to solve.
I got my plans, I don't know about you;
I'll tell you exactly what I'm gonna do…

Get in the groove and let the cinnamon roll.
I'm gonna stay here till I solve NICOISE,
If it take all night long.

Yeah, everybody let the good times roll.
We're gonna count U's till we soothe our souls,
If it take all night long, yeah ...
It might be one o'clock and it might be three,
Time don't mean that much to m&e.
I haven't felt this good since I don't know when,
And I might not feel this good again.

So come on and let the good times roll.
We're gonna stay here on this PIECE OF CAKE: N-O,
If it take all night long …

And all night (all night) and all night (all night)
And all night (all night) and all night long (all night)
Somebody said it might (all night) take all night long
And all night (not right) and all night (not yet right), so...
Come on and let the good times roll.
We're gonna stay here till we RUCHE our soles,
If it take all day-um nightie-night long...

Really miss, yah, Sam. U sent m&e.
Thanx again, Tracy B.

" 'Opin' All Nite "

Marie 2:55 PM  

I guess I'm old-fashioned. I've eaten all these desserts, and even made them, at least sort of. I didn't find the fill very inspiring, but not as hard as Rex seemed to, which is a real first for me. Marie

Anonymous 4:17 PM  

Re egg allergy: I'm allergic to the white. Quite common.

mathgent 5:37 PM  

Not many will read this note this late in the day, but...

I just got around to doing today's WSJ puzzle. The title is "A FEW EXTRA SQUARES." The four long across answers contained the words ONE, FOUR, NINE, and SIXTEEN. Sound familiar?

the redanman 5:56 PM  

I'm doing the puzzles on the NYT page some days to "score", but today again seemed harder to me, glad to see the "rating was such although my time was fine, I just find the applet awkward used to doing the printed grid of the A-Lite or the A-lite fill in.

SW seemed awkward to me, I had trouble but again overall the applet method is taking getting used to.

EMME from fill
RUCHE new to me

Decent Puzzle in all honesty if not exactly snappy.

Anonymous 6:12 PM  

BAKED ALASKA is what will happen if they legalize marijuana in the 49th state

aging soprano 6:36 PM  

You could have looked for a geographical PUDDING instead.

aging soprano 6:44 PM  

You could have looked for a geographical PUDDING instead.

aging soprano 6:50 PM  

I also solve in the Intrnatl. NYT, but quickly realized it was an error by examining the puzzle's symmetry. Figuring that out gave me great joy, because it shows that my solving skills have improved. Slowly but surely.

aging soprano 6:52 PM  

Disposable diapers.

aging soprano 6:53 PM  

Disposable diapers.

aging soprano 7:03 PM  

Someone pointed out the NINE IRON. Not too far off there is also a GOLF club.
I would prefer a salty puzzle, or should I say, a savory one.

Randy 7:15 PM  

DARE WE SAY rubbed me the wrong way. I saw the clue and immediately thought DARE I SAY, then moved on when I saw it didn't fit. I feel like it goes against NYT puzzle form to have a plural where it isn't clued, especially in a phrase that isn't commonly pluralized like that.

Aside from that, no complaints. Fun puzzle, just the right difficulty for a Tuesday.

Nancy 7:37 PM  

I'm just catching up to the blog now, and I just read @Aketi's 11:12 a.m. comment. I'm GOBSMACKED. You see, I have met @Aketi. And she jas to be one of the SVELTE-est human beings I've ever seen. Ever. You can't not think of yourself as SVELTE, @Aketi. You simply can't!

Ben Briarst 7:51 PM  

I actually got shiv (orange is the new black?) and I'm-dare we say-old enough to get dare we say readily but I never did get the no in no piece of .... Anyway love everyone's comments. Thanks!

Hartley70 8:14 PM  

Interesting that some posters confuse plum pudding and fruitcake. They are very different in taste and consistency. One is moist and divine, the other not so much usually. For years the church ladies in town would gather together mid way through the year and prepare oodles of plum puddings and age them until the Church Christmas sale. They were fantastic and validated my decision to move to the burbs. Sadly, church ladies are a rarer species in the 21st century.

Next, mince pie anyone?

As to the posts regarding an egg allergy, I went to the family source. According to my husband, if you eat an egg as a child and go temporarily blind, you don't worry if the offender is yellow or white. You just don't eat eggs!

Carolina Aguirre 9:05 PM  

Ive never had any of those desserts either and I still enjoyed the puzzle. It was fun and not obvious and sounds like ol sour grapes from Rex

Lewis 9:57 PM  

@chaos -- Good catch! I'm afraid it was an auto-correct that I didn't catch.

KFC 12:08 AM  

@mathgent - do not spoil puzzles others may not have done yet!

Eat more chicken!

Notformetosay 4:03 AM  

im not a serious boxing guy but wasn't the (29d) tkod clue off in two ways? walloped to me means one big punch that would result in a knockout, not a technical knockout,the latter of which almost invariably results from a pummeling....second, even if you forget about the above, shouldn't the clue have been from the loser's perspective...that is, the loser was walloped... therefore he the loser was "tkod" ???

Leapfinger 7:12 AM  

@aging soprano, I'm having a wonderful time imagining what your disposable diapers (double, even!) are in reply to.

@Hartley, even if we're talking about just desserts, it seems a shame to forgo meringues, soufflé, sabayon/zabaglione, blanc mange and even the occasional sponge, should the whites be innocent. And please don't glair at me if I note that 'white or yellow' part of your comment may itself be an offender to some, since I'm just making a little yolk ! Have a Wonderful Wednesday, and best regards to the family source.

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Floregonian 11:30 AM  

It's a bit convoluted because the "apple key" on a Mac is called the "command key" by Apple. For Mac users, it does what the Ctrl key does for PC users.

Anonymous 2:22 PM  

My version had an extra column down the right hand side and the key to the answers in the next day's paper did too. I came to the blog trying to understand what that was about. Does anyone know? I was traveling in Italy and got the puzzle through the Int'l NY Times.

Burma Shave 9:01 AM  


or it MAY be an ENGLISHTRIFLE you make –
DAREWESAY there’s some MEALS you shouldn’t?


BS2 10:31 AM  


So YOUSENDME this SVELTE maid named NAOMI?
I told her, “ALOT ACUTE girls ASKED to know me,
it’s USUAL they’re BAER as they flirt,
so let’s UNDO your SKIRT.
it’s not CLUMSY to DOIT, so SCOOT down, below me.”


spacecraft 12:11 PM  

In "2010," the ill-advised sequel to that Kubrick masterpiece "2001: A Space Odyssey," the Cosmonaut confuses two weirdly parallel idioms. He says "Piece of pie," and is corrected to PIECEOFCAKE. Later he says "Easy as cake" instead of easy as pie. Another English language weirdity. I'm constantly amazed at how well many foreigners speak our convoluted and exception-ridden language.

Today's examples make me wonder how that saying got a foothold in the first place. If I ever make one, it's gonna be from a boxed mix. Don't hit me, chefs! I didn't have to "age [this one] for months," but it was definitely not Tuesday-easy. I've never heard of Salade NICOISE, so that whole thing had to go in on crosses.

I agree that the prison weapon is almost universally a shank; SHIV is simply an outdated street name for any knife. And dare I say, I've never heard the royal "WE" in that expression, either. My trip through this grid could be described as CLUMSY--less my fault than the constructor's. Really, the POOP? Yeah, I recognize that, but talk about musty! Almost UNHINGEd me.

DOD candidates abound. Accuse me of living in the past, but the beautiful Natalie Wood as MARIA is unforgettable, and gets my vote. A Tuesday trip that was indeed NOPIECEOFCAKE, I give it a first down.

rondo 12:31 PM  

I’ve not had anything on today’s menu including Salade NICOISE, which I was confusing with one I have made – Salade Lyonaise. Got the hungries nevertheless.

In GOLF, I’m not as big a hitter as some so I’m using a NINE IRON where they USE a wedge.

While meditating, my guru has no resistance to his OHMS.

MELINDA Gates has done wonderful things, but I’m a SUCKER for yeah baby NAOMI Watts, she’s ACUTE one.

Of all the girls named today I never went out with an EMME, an ESTEE, a MARIA (Marys, yes), nor EDNA, RATS!. I,RON have dated a coupla KRISes a MELINDA (MEL), and then there WAS NAOMI. Met her Halloween ’77, first date Thanksgiving Eve. Only true nymphomaniac I’ve met. All she wanted WAS to DOIT, as many ACTS as possible; I felt USEd, but WAS glad I ASKED her out.

ALOT of TINGS to like about this puz, time for me to SCOOT.

Diana,LIW 1:01 PM  

One very funny dnf today. I even managed to get one little rebus in there. Must remember to read all crosses to see if they make sense. They didn't.

Shan't bore you with the details - too convoluted a tale to tell.

And I didn't even have trouble with the clues that momentarily baffled OFL. Those I got. Like gimmes.

Had ournew washer and dryer delivered yesterday. Perhaps my brain is stuck in the washer with the missing socks.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

leftcoastTAM 1:58 PM  

This was good, lively, and with bite. Liked it a lot.

Used crosses to confirm the desserts, but needed them to get ENGLISHTRIFLE. Good to see that POOP is not considered embarrassing, though it kind of spoils the appetite.

RUCHE was new to me. Vaguely familiar with Salad NICOISE, but needed crosses here, too. ESTEE is always a helpful gimme.

Tuesday treat.

kitshef 4:28 PM  

@Diana, LIW - at least tell us where/what your rebus was.

Diana,LIW 9:55 PM  

my dear kitshef

if you must know, it was "not a piece of pie" go ahead, work that one out

Lady, Di ("pie" was the rebus - sheesh)

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