Al Capp diminutive / WED 3-1-17 / Unlawful behavior in strict Muslim countries for short / Monster beheaded by Perseus / Autos with charging stations / Sitcom extraterrestrial

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Constructor: David Phillips

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: two-word phrases where second word starts A- imagined as three-word phrases where "A" is a stand-alone word. It's wacky, trust me

Theme answers:
  • STUDY A BROAD (17A: Read up on a woman, old-fashionedly?)
  • RISK A VERSE (24A: Take a chance on a work of poetry?)
  • TICKET A GENT (35A: Cite a chap for speeding?)
  • LEAD A STRAY (48A: Coax a lost dog to follow you?)
  • SNIFF A ROUND (58A: Check the aroma of a few beers?)
Word of the Day: Richard BRANSON (12D: Richard who founded Virgin Atlantic) —
Sir Richard Charles Nicholas Branson (born 18 July 1950) is an English business magnate, investor and philanthropist. He founded the Virgin Group, which controls more than 400 companies. (wikipedia)
• • •

No. This is D.O.A. Should've been sent back immediately because of one obvious, important defect: TICKET AGENT doesn't work. It doesn't. Does. Not. Say all the other themers aloud to yourself—see how naturally they sound like both themselves *and* their imagined wacky counterpart. Effortless. Seamless. Just fine. But in America (and everywhere else English is spoken, I imagine), AGENT has the emphasis on the first syllable, making the whole TICKET A [space] GENT move absurd, wrong, off, terrible, no. TICKET AGENT and TICKET A GENT simply do not sound the same. Honestly, this is glaring and obvious. It's unbelievable this wasn't sent back for a simple redesign. Repeal and replace!!! PULL A HEAD, TAG A LONG (... actress Shelley?), CLIMB A BOARD, BLOW A PART (miscomb your hair?). I don't even know what to say. He's just tolerating slop now. I guess submissions must be (way?) down.

More trouble: you aren't sidestepping the weird ogley sexism of STUDY A BROAD with your little "old-fashionedly" clue addendum. Further, what is up with the clue on PDA (6D: Unlawful behavior in strict Muslim countries, for short)? That is gratuitous and weird and strange and at least vaguely hostile. Unnecessarily so. Why do you go out of your way to bring "Muslim countries" into your clue for stupid PDA, which is a distinctly American initialism / concept? I do not understand these editorial choices. Beyond that, the grid was OK, though PENS√ČE + AMIES = too far down French road. I did enjoy the clue on PAPER CUT (11D: Small slice of one's workday?). Enough about this puzzle. See you tomorrow.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

P.S. this puzzle was super-easy. 30 seconds faster than yesterday, down at my normal Tuesday time.

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Anonymous 12:14 AM  

You ever see a Muslim man or woman with their children? Kinder, more doting, more affectionate people you couldn't find. So yeah, fuck you Will for that little piece of bigotry. And yes, I know PDA generally refers to making out in public.

Charles Flaster 12:26 AM  

Liked this easy themer. After STUDY A BROAD themers were straightforward.
BTW the clue for the above should have indicated "in slang".
Writeover-- NACHOS for sAlsaS.
Liked PAPER CUT, TRIANGLE, LOYAL, and NAS( because I remembered it).
Thanks DP

Punctuated equilibrium 12:30 AM  

I liked the theme answers. But I agree that PDA was gratuitously clued, and BROAD was dated and sexist. ADAMA and ALDO cross was a Natick for me, and required Google to confirm. Had ASANA for LOTUS so that corner took a while to sort out, but this was my fastest Wednesday time (um, although glacially slow compared to some here).

Stanley Hudson 12:31 AM  

Liked it better than did Rex.

I saw plenty of PDA in Indonesia, the nation with the largest Muslim population in the world.

Z 12:31 AM  

Yeah, pretty much what Rex said. SCAG is a new one for me. I'm thing the symmetrical SAGS was intended to be cute. UEYS or UieS? Whichever, no three-point turn arounds allowed.

@Anon12:14 - Let's not go overboard. There is a wide range of normal. I've worked with lots of Arab-America families as well as recent immigrants. Lots of great parents. Lots of bad ones, too. Lots in between. Just like any other randomly chosen set of parents that might end up sending their kids to a school.

DF 12:37 AM  

The issue Rex points out with TICKET A GENT stems from pronouncing "A" as "uh" rather than "Ay." If you pronounce it as the latter (as I apparently do interchangeably with the former), it works just fine.

jae 12:55 AM  

Yes, very easy. Yesterday's was tougher. @DF the A GENT thing didn't bother me either for the same reason, the PDA thing did, and the BROAD thing was kinda cringy.

That said, mostly cute, liked it more than @Rex did.

ahecht 12:55 AM  

I liked seeing TESLAS cross LOTUS as the first Tesla model, the Roadster, was built using the chassis from the Lotus Elise.

chefwen 1:55 AM  

Pretty easy until I worked my way back up to the NW. ACUTER and EXTORT were just not coming to me. SNIFFED AROUND a little and MEDUSA came to the rescue gave me the boost that I needed.

PDA and A BROAD bothered me not a whit. Lighten up folks, it's wordplay.

SCAG was new to me also and I watch "Intervention". That damn show is an addiction, maybe I need an Intervention.

Chet 1:59 AM  

Lots of aviation in this one, with CESSNA, TICKETAGENT, BRANSON, JETSETS, CREW, HORNET, UEYS, NAS, AGONY just to name a few. I've always wanted to STRAFE something, preferably in a P-38 Lightning with a naked lady painted on the nose. Speaking of that, whenever I call out for one of my GALPALS and tell her she's a big blowsy BROAD I always do it in an empowering and not-at-all-sexist way, and they really dig it.

Jim H 2:05 AM  

Regarding PDA: doesn't anyone remember Newton and Palm Pilot anymore? (Yeah, I know, so last century...)

Anoa Bob 2:21 AM  

STRAFE turns up in grids more often than that sequence of letters would suggest. I'm thinking that it also has the distinction of being a one-definition only type word. I've only seen it used in the context of an airplane attack, not in any metaphorical or other sense.

For those keeping score at home, there are three two-for-one POC Ss at the ends of JETSET/PUN, RAFT/SAG & SWEDE/TWEET. That and several other gratuitous plurals had the POCometer needle hovering in the POC-Assisted range.

Larry Gilstrap 2:37 AM  

Not sure I'm feeling the hate for TICKET A GENT that I should feel because phonics are an element in puzzle themery? But what do I know?
I do agree that PDA clued with the Muslim thing was unfortunate, at best. Referring to a woman as A BROAD is neither flattering to the woman or the speaker. I'll admit to constantly having to STUDY a woman because I'm married to a complex, intelligent, independent person who happens to be a woman and who constantly challenges me to keep up. Lucky me!

Enough about the puzzle, I'm stuck in the middle of nowhere without an ink cartridge. Sure, 70 miles away I can see one hanging on a rack. I did the puzzle on my laptop, kinda like doing a video game on a qwerty keyboard. So I get the Congratulations after 18:38, truth be told, about 10 minutes involved trying to find the yellow square. So, it was the easiest Wednesday puzzle I ever did, according to the app. How many have I done online, two? If anyone has a spare Black 61 lying around and you're in the neighborhood...

Loren Muse Smith 4:11 AM  

The sound change for A GENT didn’t register with me. AGENT is reparsed to A GENT. No biggie. I guess in retrospect having at least one more themer with a sound change would’ve been better, but, really, I just saw the words as they were written and that was that. Haven’t we seen themers that had us revisiting words, reparsing them into new phrases where the pronunciation changes in some of them?

I kept going back and looking for the RISK A VERSE clue. Did Poe try poetry? Yup.

The theme reminds me of an old joke where a guy sitting at a bar orders a beer, drinks it, and one of his arms vanishes. Drinks another, and the other arm disappears. And on and on – leg, leg, torso all vanish… The bartender asks if he wants another, and he says, “Nah – better quit while I’m a head.”

@Punctuated equilibrium - good point on the ADAMA/ALDO cross. After I read your post, I went back to check that part and saw that I hadn’t even filled in the D. Oops.

I’ll TEAM UP with @chefwen and @jae on this one. This theme was a cuter idea than most I can come up with.

Hartley70 4:13 AM  

I saw one of these themers yesterday in an email. "Two hats were hanging on a hat rack in the hallway and one said to the other, "I'll stay here, you go on a head." I find these mildly amusing, but okay for a Wednesday puzzle.

I miss ADAMA. Can't someone do yet another version of "Battlestar Galactica" and bring back Edward James Olmos and his crew? I'm not done with that story yet. I knew I was in for trouble when the Sci-fi channel became Syfy.

I give this an easy rating, but I liked it just fine. Lately I'm like a broken record commenting on a lack of dreck. We are in a run of above average puzzles and I couldn't be happier when I finish one.

@LarryGilstrap, I'd say you and your wife are both pretty lucky and you're wise enough to recognize it. Congrats!

Anonymous 5:30 AM  

Trump crushed it last night. After a nightmarish eight years it's nice to wake up and feel confident about our country's future. Snowflakes just have to put their hatred aside and start caring about the interests of their constituents. No more apologizing and leading from behind. Stock futures already soaring.

Smackhead 6:21 AM  

I use SKAG myself. Giving it up for Lent. Going to be a tough 40 days.

Google stats:

skag heroin About 131,000 results (0.55 seconds)

scag heroin About 87,500 results (0.30 seconds)

Lewis 6:26 AM  
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Anonymous 6:27 AM  

Being hateful all the time is very taxing on your soul. I suggest watching TCM.

Lewis 6:28 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lewis 6:37 AM  

Terrific theme, and, if it hasn't been done before, impressively original. Three G answers were cool to me: GIRD, GROUSE, and GALPALS. I wanted EPT for APT. Does anyone say ACUTER? I had to smile, thinking that here is the gamut of cars, with the puzzle's HORNET and TESLA.

I'm almost finished with SONIA Sotomayer's memoir "My Beloved World", and it is a terrific story and read. I'm very happy she's where she is, and she's quite an inspiration.

And, inspired by @lms's joke:
WIRE_AHEAD -- Prepare for an EEG?

evil doug 6:43 AM  
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evil doug 6:57 AM  

"You ever see a Muslim man or woman with their children? Kinder, more doting, more affectionate people you couldn't find. So yeah, fuck you Will for that little piece of bigotry."

Anonymous 1214: Read the clue.

"Unlawful behavior in strict Muslim countries, for short". Nothing to do with those good people, but rather the oppressive leadership in specifically limited "strict" regimes. It's factual, it's reported in the body of the NYT, and it's timely. Also, fuck you back.


Q: How many Coast Guardsmen does it take to perform a burial at sea?

A: Three. One to push the corpse over the side and two to stomp it down into the mud.

GHarris 7:34 AM  

Rex critique was overwrought, puzzle was enjoyable and just right for a Wednesday. All that Trump proved last night was that he knows how to read.

RooMonster 7:36 AM  

Hey All !
Well, I liked it. Parsing A-start words as just an A (something). (Did that make sense? It sounded better in the ole brain.)

No problem with Rex's fly-off-the-handle TICKETAGENT. Sorry, Rex, but it seems to work fine. A kinda neat looking grid to me. A couple tough spots, cross of APT/PENSEE, SCAG/ALDO/ADAMA, but managed to get puz 100% correct with no writeovers! So have to rate this easy-ish. Didn't rush through it. Probably why I did so well. :-)

Great clue for TRIANGLE. Double meaning clues like that are always cool. Could've TIED in ACUTER. A better looking angle? Har.


gruffed 7:44 AM  

Monday easy. Prefer NYT puzzles to crescendo through the week, with Wednesday offering some challenge as a prelude to Thursday's head-scratcher and Friday/Saturday's brain-crunchers.

Marty 7:49 AM  

How can people claim there's no sound change? Even if the A is a hard a you're stuck with a vowel change on the E in AGENT/A GENT.

Unknown 7:50 AM  

RISK A VERSE made me think of Ferlingetti's "Constantly Risking Absurdity"--poet as high wire walker. Poetry is a dangerous business!

chefbea 7:59 AM  

Fun easy puzzle ....except for the north west. Never heard of scag.
@Larry Gilstrap...just went to staples yesterday and bought black 61...I always have a spare. Next time I'll buy two and send you one!!

blinker474 8:04 AM  

Just what a crossword puzzle should be: a pleasant diversion, amusing and interesting. I think that Rex is joking about the defects in the puzzle because he wants to maintain his reputation as a harsh taskmaster. Nobody could seriously gripe about ticket a gent.

r.alphbunker 8:13 AM  

Crossed my fingers on 7A {Heroin, slangily} SCAG/9D {"Battlestar Galactica" commander} ADAMA. Had SNOW for heroin initially.

Details are here>

runtomrun 8:18 AM  

If I say fuck you to the cop who tagged me yesterday for having a wheel up on the curb, am I no longer a gent?

kitshef 8:32 AM  

Finally I get it! evil doug and Will Shortz are one and the same.

Hand up for really easy, despite one outright WoE (SCAG), and some iffy fill (ACUTER, UEYS).

Re TICKET A GENT. One of those things that if you think about it and are a purist, will bother you. But if you are just in this for the entertainment, it's just fine. @Rex's job is to be a purist, so good for him for holding up standards. But I'm fine with it.

Kept wanting to parse ASCOT as A SCOT.

wgh 8:42 AM  


QuasiMojo 8:42 AM  

The only SKAG I know is the TV show starring Karl Malden back when. I agree with Rex entirely about the PDA clue. Pointless and unnecessary and pardon the "pun" but also "clueless."

I feel I was too bitchy yesterday so I will keep it short and simple today. Constructors can continue to send in these ho-hum puzzles that any elementary student could do but I crave some intelligent diversions which is why I am turning to the WSJ puzzle for a better solving experience.

Tita 8:43 AM  

A run of weirdly off, tiptoeing along the brink clues - please let's not forget the MCRIB fiasco from a few days ago.

Nice to see that STRAY become LOYAL, then SNIFFAROUND a bit...

I miss the days when TICKETAGENTs had the power to bump me up into first class, for no other reason then my being nice to them. Airlines have wised up, charging for everything they can.
Last week's Delta ticket did not include the luxuries of an assigned seat or room for my small carry-on, which I was told I had to check. Apparently, it also didn't include a clean tray table. I guess I picked the wrong decade to not be a million miler anymore.
(Is it my imagination, but weren't the TICKETAGENTs happier then too?)

Unless you're Richard BRANSON-style JETSETter, it ain't very glamorous anymore.

@hecht...Thanks for the TESLA/LOTUS observation.

@Punctuated Eq - a belated welcome.

I always like seeing words reparsed. Should we call this type of theme a DOOK?

Fun Wednesday. I did guess right at the SC_G/_DAMA natick.

Outside The Box 8:45 AM  

Agree. Rex is getting awful picky.

Unknown 8:51 AM  

When typing the answer to STUDYABROAD, I knew it was going to roil some people. And I had the same recurring thought: "when did people become so sensitive?" It seems to me that, at some point in the last 10-15 years, everyone had their senses of humor removed.

Tita 8:56 AM  

@kitshef...if you want to see ASCOT (actually, two), watch this, which my Scottish in-laws just sent me:
Kilted Yoga

Nancy 9:00 AM  

I guessed right at the SCAG/ADAMA/ALDO intersection, and so I finished. Not knowing all the cutesy nicknames for heroin is a good thing, right?

Once again, it was necessary to guess which spelling of the U-Turn it was going to be. And I had to get some crosses to see if I was going to be eating a PBJ or a BLT.

I seldom notice what @mathgent calls "the terrible threes", but it was hard to miss them here. Too many by far, I thought. (Although having been a member of the BMI Advanced Composers and Lyricists Workshop, BMI was a gimme for me.)

Re: TWEETS. If a TWEET reverberates in Twitterland and you're not there to see it, does it make a sound? I've always what would happen if Trump "unleashed his beautiful Twitter account" against me. I wouldn't even know. Quelle disappointment for the Donald.

I was going to let you all know that I once took the controls of a CESSNA -- me who doesn't even drive a car. (!) Then I remembered that it wasn't a CESSNA, it was a Piper Cherokee. So I guess I shouldn't tell you about it. Unless you really, really want to know.

evil doug 9:09 AM  

"I was going to let you all know that I once took the controls of a CESSNA -- me who doesn't even drive a car. (!) Then I remembered that it wasn't a CESSNA, it was a Piper Cherokee. So I guess I shouldn't tell you about it. Unless you really, really want to know."

Just warn me if you do it again.

Ted 9:28 AM  

Perfectly fun theme with nice clues.

Rex needs to take it down a peg. It's just a Wednesday crossword.


So? It's a crossword, not a diction lesson.

Alex 9:32 AM  

What the heck, Anonymous at 5:30? At least PRETEND that you are coming here to discuss the puzzle.
AGENT/A GENT is OK with me. SCAG/ADAMA/ALDO was guesswork for me. I had a feeling about ALDO, but the rest was a total Natik.
I think Rex's crankiness was over the top for this puzzle. But then, I do these puzzles because I enjoy them.

redrube 9:34 AM  

A gent
A broad
A verse
A stray
A round
All good,I don't see any problem
Nice puzzle

Nancy 9:34 AM  

That's funny, Doug!

Vincent Lima 9:35 AM  

Nope. Emphasis is still misplaced.

Punc Eq 9:41 AM  

Thank you!

Sir Hillary 9:42 AM  

Whole thing felt a little lightweight for midweek. Gotta admit, the TICKETAGENT pronunciation thing bugged me, especially right there center stage. It's an outlier that feels unnecessary given the number of seeming alternatives. I'd even prefer the consistency be verbal over written -- like the eely groaner "that's a moray." But that's just me.

STUDYABROAD is cheesy. No issue with the PDA clue -- it's about repressive regimes, not a religion.

Unknown 9:46 AM  

Bah! I saw this same theme in a widely circulated Glasgow weekly in 1993, and it was much better. Local soccer team nicknames were hard for me, but there were no French words to fuzzy up the grid. Admittedly, sexism & xenophobia we're ok in some places back then.

puzzle hoarder 9:50 AM  

If you're going to use puns of questionable taste you may as well go all the way. Here's a clue " Study a broad abroad." Wait for it... CHECHEZLAHORE. Get it? So much for what I think of punny themes. This was very easy fill SKAG, ALDO, and ADAMA included. I was slower on getting the themes as I tend to be very literal. How literal? I completely didn't recognize PDA on account of the clue and was wondering why people in Muslim countries would label anything with an English acronym and what could it mean. That's literal to a fault. I did catch my GROUCE misspelling before finishing. This was with paper and pencil so no computer prompt. That little accomplishment was a gift to myself. The hoarder turned 60 today.

Anon 12:14 9:50 AM  

@Z - I don't recall saying that Muslims were universally great parents, nor that they were distinctly better parents than any other identifiable group.

Orthodox Jews have strict rules regarding PDA, as do Jehovah's Witnesses and other conservative religions. Would Will dared to clue PDA just replacing "strict Mulsim countries" as "strict Orthodox Jewish communities"? I don't think so.

GILL I. 9:55 AM  

TICKET A GENT did sorta look like a PBJ at buffet. I knew @Rex would make a comment but I didn't think it was so glaring. I kept saying it out loud and it seemed fine to me.
@Tita: Yes! TICKET agents were happier way back then. If you happened to work for the airlines, you most likely were up-graded to first because they knew your airline would do the same to them.
Virgin Atlantic is still one of the "high quality" airlines left. American airlines suck big time - especially the domestic flights. Finding a dirty tray is just one example of how god-awful it is to fly today.
The AGONY and the Ecstasy was one of my first grown-up books that I bought for myself. I read that book a million times because I loved anything Michelangelo. I watched the movie when it came out and I thought Heston probably looked exactly like Miche would have.
@Nancy...Yes! do tell!!! During one of our sales conventions in Mexico City, we had a tour of the hangars. They took a few of us up to the flight simulator and let us have a go at trying to land a 727. Well I killed everybody on the ground and blew up the Air Traffic Control tower. I admire ANY pilot that can land a plane.
David P...I enjoyed your Wed puzzle. It brought back fun memories and you can STUDY this BROAD - I won't be offended...GO DIVA!
Yours truly, EX TORT....

Unknown 10:03 AM  

Also hated "ueys." Geez. That whole corner was a mess, and mostly a philosophic mess. Wish the NYT would join the 21st Century and give us something to be happy about.

kozmikvoid 10:08 AM  

@Rex: Just a bit of advice you may want to take to heart. Today's complaint about WS is both accurate and well-said. The issues with this puzzle range from lazy editing (TICKETAGENT) to offensive and hurtful (I think it's obvious which ones I'm referring to here). These issues should be highlighted and shouted from the rooftops. However, we see the same type of critique of WS on issues that are much milder. Minor oversights get the same shouting from the rooftops as flat-out bigotry. And as a reader, when that happens, the message you're sending becomes muted. It becomes difficult to differentiate between Rex just complaining about WS again and Rex making a great point about an egregious mistake. For what it's worth, you make some really good points and provide unique insight into the puzzles, but sometimes it's hard to hear those points because of the background noise, so to speak.

mathgent 10:13 AM  

@evil doug (6:57): Excellent comment. Nice to know that there are some people around who think about all the political rhetoric flying around and ask "Does it make sense?"

I liked the puzzle. I put down nine plusses, above average for a Wednesday.

Whirred Whacks 10:18 AM  

PDA. All I could think of was Apple CEO John Sculley announcing the Newton, the first "Personal Digital Assistant" back in the early 1990s.

As for Will Shortz's clueing: please stop using "Science Guy" as the clue for NYE. Bill Nye is a huckster and classic douchebag. There are other possibilities such as comedian Louie Nye, day before New Yrs Day, etc.

Anonymous 10:22 AM  

Enjoyed the puns. I knew OFL would lose it when he saw 'study abroad' and that we would not get much of a review today. Too bad. Thanks, David!

Joseph Michael 10:25 AM  

Theme feels kind of familiar but thought it worked well enough and disagree with Rex's overanalysis. In fact, I thought TICKET A GENT was the best of the five themers.

Not to GROUSE, and it AIN'T the end of the world, but I could have done without the redundant ARE and ARES.

Also thought that "prepare for a struggle" wasn't the best way to clue GIRD, which means to encircle with a belt or band and doesn't indicate adversity.

Other ways I would clue this puzzle:

Macbeth, e.g. -- A SCOT

Registered trademark symbol -- A CUTE R

State prosecutor's mother -- A D.A. MA

GILL I. 10:26 AM  

Oh...and instead of bringing in a no-no Muslim behavior, why not turn that clue into a yes-yes. Por ejemplo: What a Kiss Cam shows the world (for short)......

Nancy 10:28 AM  

Okay, herewith, by popular demand, the story (thanks, GILL 9:55 for asking). No, I certainly didn't land the plane, heaven forfend! Nor did I attempt the takeoff, either. (I didn't/don't have a pilot's license). I was with a boyfriend who did have a pilot's license and owned a Piper Cherokee that he kept at Teterboro Airport in, I think, NJ. The boyfriend was sober and highly responsible -- otherwise I wouldn't have agreed to fly with him in the first place. So that, once we were up and at cruising altitude and he asked me if I wanted to fly the plane for a bit, I figured that if he thought it was safe, it must be safe. I took "the stick" and couldn't believe how responsive the controls were; the tiniest movement of your hand resulted in a quite large movement of the plane. He kept telling me one wing or other was dropping: "Bring your left wing up, Nancy. No, no, you've overcorrected. Bring your left wing down. Keep the nose straight ahead, Nancy. No, you've overcorrected." I was completely rapt, totally engrossed. I lost all sense of time. It was such a feeling of power. So much more responsive than the wheel of a car AND, happily, mercifully, with nothing else on the road! So that when he said to me, "I think I'd better take back the controls now," I felt keen disappointment. "Why, am I scaring you?" I asked. "No, not at all," he said. "It's just that we've drifted quite a bit off course." It was all that correcting and re-correcting, I imagine. Anyway, it was a wonderful experience -- but one that I have not had since, Evil Doug will be pleased to know.

Pappy Boyington 10:38 AM  

I thought the puzzle was a decent Wednesday offering. I knew Rex was gonna get all weepy about STUDYABROAD and PDA. All that remained was to see how many others joined the chorus of virtue signaling. So far, not too bad.

@chet 1:59am:
We're on the same page chet. I'll bet @evil doug is also on board. The P-38 Lightning is one of my all-time favorite military aircraft. I think they came right off the assembly line with a naked BROAD painted on the nose? Rosie The Riveter herself, might have even painted a few of those noses? Loved her in those overalls!

@Theodore Stamos 8:51AM

That goes on here all the time Ted. Check out the highlighted link in my comment above. Its not about sensitivity, it about projecting ones PC bona fides. Plus, I think some men think it helps them score points towards future sexual favors? Folks like @chefwen have the right attitude!


Old Lady 10:48 AM  

Had a similar experience many years ago and it WAS a CESSNA. My pilot/instructor friend offered me the controls after explaining how they worked. It was glorious, and he complimented me on maintaining altitude while executing some simple maneuvers. Fast forward 25 years, small plane in the right-hand with someone I didn't know well. With no warning or explanation he lifted his hands from the controls and told me it was "all yours". About as irresponsible and stupid as I could imagine. I did not take the controls and almost kissed the ground when we landed.

Read A Book 10:48 AM  

I just looked up the word "BROAD" in the dictionary, which calls the word "offensive slang." Calling it old-fashioned in the clue doesn't mean the answer isn't, at the very least, an insulting word, NYT. Too bad I'm old enough to remember when this word and others of its ilk were routinely used to demean, degrade and insult women. I thought the puzzle was ok, but that usage just ruined it for me.

Concerned Citizen 10:52 AM  

You seem to be lost and in the wrong blog. Do you need directions?

Numinous 10:57 AM  

I reckon I'm as prurient as any foiurteen-year-old so I'm perfectly happy to STUDY A BROAD. Sex and the City is a show I never watched, I thought Californication was icky too. GAL PALS was easy enough to figure out though. Jeff Chen says BROAD made him feel icky and it tainted his entire solve. I just plain don't think it's bad at all, in fact, my mother was a BAM (BROAD assed Marine, she told me that).

@r.alph, snow is cocaine, not heroin. I knew guys in the 60s who called it SCAG.

I registered with BMI because Warner Tamerlane (I worked for Warner Bros. then) was ascap.

@Nancy, the only time I had contorl of a CESSNA I was told not to touch the rudders and mostly watch the compass while my buddy looked up the landing procedure for Mojave airport.

I enjoyed this one and agree that the long A A GENT works fine for me @Loren. Rex was just doing his job the best way he knows how. Professors are supposed to pick everything a part (see what I did there?). I'm thinking we're sorta having young constructiors week.

QuasiMojo 11:03 AM  

We have indeed lost our senses of humor. When Bette Midler published her book "A View from a Broad" no one was offended.

Fountains of Golden Fluids 11:12 AM  

Does anyone remember laughter?

Mohair Sam 11:18 AM  
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JayWalker 11:19 AM  

I've know I've suggested petroleum jelly before but perhaps it just isn't strong enough to get that stick outta yer ass. But something, somewhere, somehow must be available. Personally, I'm reaching my limit of your unending and over-reaching criticism. It isn't constructive anymore - a value for which I kept coming back for many the year. Now it has gone from criticism to lambasting for the sake of venting whatever it is that is making you so angry. Stop critiquing the NYTimes Xword puzzle! Do something else. Could it BE any simpler?

Dick Swart 11:21 AM  

" ... and she's broad where a broad should be broad!"

"Honeybun" South Pacific

Anonymous 11:23 AM  

How truly tiresome you are, @Fountains of Golden Fluids. If YOU remember laughter, it's certainly not evident from your endless, repetitive posts. I'd guess that you're actually pretty *humor-challenged* in fact.

kitshef 11:26 AM  

@Tita A - Might try that in class tomorrow. (the kilt-wearing, not the impossible arm-stands)

Joe Bleaux 11:31 AM  

(Speaking of which, a perfectly adequate clue could've been "No-no in many high-school hallways, for short").

Big Steve 46 11:34 AM  

I'm afraid one of the negatives about the ubiquity of the internet is the insane tsunami of perceived insults. I mean someone finds the fill of a crossword puzzle "offensive and hurtful (I think it's obvious which ones I'm referring to here)" - a crossword puzzle, for Pete's sake! How do you get through any normal day? This trivialization of what is legitimately and significantly offensive will only have the tendency to make the truly offensive meaningless.

That's my soap box oration for the day.

Hungry Mother 11:47 AM  

Never heard of PDA used in any way other than an electronic assistant. I am very tech-savvy, but I also touch type and don't need to abbreviate things when emailing or texting. I usually find Wednesday's NYT (sic) puzzle pretty crunchy and was hung up on this one for a while trying to work with "study her oed" before I realized the pattern of the them answers. I was in the Army for 3 years and learned how to talk so that every sentence included an f-bomb, but I'd tather not read them here.

Malsdemare 11:48 AM  

I winced at PDA because there was something off-putting about using a cute acronym to describe behavior that can have serious repercussions for women in strict Muslim cultures. And maybe that's not bad. It certainly draws a painful contrast that points to the awfulness of the consequences of engaging in affectionate behavior in some parts of the world.

It took forever for me to see TESLAS; all that came to my mind were volts. ACUTER is horrible, I didn't know ALDO or BRANSON. But I thought it was a pretty fair Wednesday.

@Nancy, hand up for the full story, if you haven't already shared it. Yup, I'm posting before I've read all the comments.

Tita 12:10 PM  

If you're offended by BROAD, but you loved the movie Borat, you should reconsider your own PC choices.

@Nancy - love your story. I too was given the controls of a Piper out of Teterboro - but much to my dismay and surprise, I locked up - I just stared at the bottom of the windshield, concentrating only on keeping it level with the horizon. And on not killing us. What a missed opportunity. I envy your grabbing that plane by the yoke and "really" flying!

old timer 12:12 PM  

OFL was over the top with his criticism of TICKETAGENT. Would not have even noticed it were it not for his rant.

OTOH, "something forbidden at many schools and colleges" would have been a fine clue for PDA. No need to bring Muslims into it. This was a good Wednesday puzzle marred by the continuing failure of the editor to, you know, actually edit.

Z 12:16 PM  

This AGENT discussion is fascinating. To recap, all of the other theme answers are pronounced with a schwa in the original and the reparsing. AGENT is the only one pronounced with a long A in the original but a schwa in the reparsing. I'm curious about the observations about schwa/long A interchangeability for the article "A." Sure, an "A" can be pronounced either as a schwa or as a long A, but interchangeably? To my ear there is a subtle change in meaning or connotation when "A" is pronounced as a long A rather than the more frequently heard schwa. Is this true for others? Also, is schwa being more commonly heard a midwestern thing or is that more universal?

Putting the different themer centrally could be seen as acknowledging the variance and making it a feature rather than a bug. I have my doubts, but if Phillips were to say it was by design I'd think more kindly about AGENT.

@Anon12:14 - Maybe that wasn't your intent, but the "have you ever seen a more xxx" construction is indicative of an exemplar and your exemplar was "Muslim man or woman." Of course, I may have "rabbit ears" in this area. I did like how you challenged the perception of "public displays of affection."

@Evil Doug - Adding "strict" almost makes it worse to me because it suggests the clue writer knows the clue is offensive and, rather than find something different, tries to make it palatable. To me the issue is simple, why choose this clue when you have options that aren't potentially offensive? It's so avoidable, why insist on stepping in it?

Unknown 12:21 PM  

Very easy for me, but I was a little offended by seeing "broad" in this puzzle, and I'm an older white guy. What's next, the p-word? Also the PDA clue--wtf? Perhaps for the first time I agree 100% with everything Rex said.

jberg 12:22 PM  

@Tita, thanks for showing us ASCOT or two! And @Lewis, I use that word all the time, as in "she's cute, but I know ACUTER girl."

@Nancy, I flew in a Cessna frequently with my father, but he never gave me the controls. But my brother married the daughter of a guy who had flown "over the Hump" in Asia during World War II, and had developed a pretty casual attitude. Every one of his three daughters reports a time when they were flying with him and he would say something like "you fly for a while, I'm going to take a nap."

Oh, the puzzle. I didn't notice the sound change, but sure, if you are a constructor I guess you should notice these things. ALDO/ADAMA was a guess, almost -- but after a guess I did remember that that was Gucci's name. And what is A DAMA, anyway?

Masked and Anonymous 12:28 PM  

Said SO, before saying OK. (yo, @40-A)

Pretty straightforward theme. M&A immediately had pangs of dejavuosity. See 18 Nov 2003 NYTPuz: it has a lotta yer extra themer suggestions, @RP.

Real nice, wide-open corners. Some lively bits of desperation gracefully dance thru each one:
* UEYS. Gets a pass, as the UEYS elped med-o-vac in an extra U.
* ENS. Staff weeject pick, sooo … ok.
* AMIES. But -- Nice cross with GALPALS, imo. [Nice … get it, @Mr. BillFeeney? Shoot, I bet even @Sathya G saw that one comin…]
* PENSEE. Major oui-ject. "Repew it and replace!" Better clue: {Adorable VP nickname??}.

re A-GENT:
1. M&A noted it was sorta an outlier.
2. Weren't A-VERSE to it.
3. Recommend A-RREST for @RP. Too many late-nite TCM-fests. harr.

And now, for a brief truce, whereby everything in this here comment makes sense:
---------- begin zone of lucidity ------------
Twas bryllyg, and ye slythy toves
Did gyre and gymble in ye wabe:
All mimsy were ye borogoves;
And ye mome raths outgrabe.
----------- end zone ----------------------har.

Thanx, Mr. Phillips. Easy solvequest, except for the PENSEE SE.

Masked & Anonymo5Us
"When Yer LSD Is Flat Out All Used Up"

see yer dejavuosity, and raise U:

evil doug 12:37 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Happy Pencil 12:42 PM  

I noted the difference between TICKET A GENT and the others and sort of shrugged. But when I see how easily Rex and several posters came up with alternatives, it does seem lazy not to swap it out. @Sir Hillary, I love "That's a moray" and agree about sound versus spelling. How about "Something's a rye"?

BROAD did seem not optimal, although the OED just calls it "informal" and not "offensive." I agree about the cluing on PDA, though. Gratuitous and just yuck.

What is up with all the posters attacking other posters these days? The odd argument is to be expected, but this seems a new and unwelcome trend.

evil doug 12:47 PM  

Z: Why? For variety.

Leave the word "strict" out, and we'd realllly have a battle here on generalizing about all Muslim regimes.

And I'm intrigued how people wrap themselves around the axle on a legitimate if perhaps more thought-provoking clue, while the real horror is how these regimes gas, drown, rape and behead people if they're Christians, gay, Jewish--or simply convenient targets for torture and genocide. How is shining a light on the abuse of innocent PDA participants as a reminder of more horrific crimes against humanity a bad thing?

Mohair Sam 12:58 PM  

(repeat of earlier post with hideous grammatical error removed)

@Nancy - One vote does not constitute popular demand. But thanks for the story anyhow - if we'd been around earlier you'd have had two votes (and you'd probably call that a landslide victory). I've flown out of Teterboro, a damned busy place near some of the nation's busiest airports - hell of a place for a raw beginner, your boyfriend wasn't Harrison Ford, was it?

Yeah, forced cluing on PDA, and we struggled with it assuming the initials would be maybe in Arabic - read the clue. Anyhow, as has been pointed out, lots of cultures ain't wild about folks making out in public. I wonder how many ways you can spell UEYS in four letters?

@Larry Gilstrap - Our toner emptied this morning too. When that's happened in the past we've solved on AcrossLite, today we used the Times application. Took us six minutes longer than you, much of it spent re-entering stuff we typed in the wrong direction - quite the adventure. We did learn that our dnf's would be a lot fewer using the Times app however. We never watched "Battlestar", knew not SCAG, nor ALDO, yet a couple of quick guesses at the first two letters of 9d gave us a quick "Congratulations!" from the Times. So that's the dirty secret of those online solvers!

@Tita A - Great thought on BROAD/Borat.

Oh where oh where... 1:05 PM  

There is a problem with 'astray'. Astray and stray are related words. You don't have that problem with the others.

tea73 1:11 PM  

One of the reasons I read Rex, is because he notices things like the one answer that doesn't quite follow the pattern. I wasn't particular bothered by AGENT, but he's right, it would have been cooler to have every A have a schwa sound. I'm okay with BROAD - I always hear Humphrey Bogart's Sam Spade persona - nothing but good associations for me. Didn't care for PDA's clueing. Just seemed overly convoluted more than anything. I hated the new spelling of UEY - in fact I hate all spellings of it.

Teedmn 1:30 PM  

3 minutes easier today than yesterday - actually about average for my Wednesday solve at 9:40. Besides the obvous ALDO/ADAMA, my main holdup was putting in "ship" for CREW at 56D.

@Tita, back in the day before airlines charged a fee for everything, I was going skiing with all of my equipment. The baggage guidelines for that airline stated that the boot bag and skis were counted as one but the TICKET AGENT started entering them as two so I would have to pay for an extra bag. I started arguing with him but he quelled me with a look and said, "I can do whatever I choose". I subsided as the implications sank in and waited to be told I was going to have to pay up the wazoo, but he set it up per the airline guidelines and let me go. I was appropriately grateful (and somewhat surprised when my gear did not go ASTRAY.)

I loved the clue for PAPER CUT; it is the biggest work related injury I am likely to suffer. And as I was able to follow M&A's PENSEEs today, I'm going to skip the SCAG and the LSD, har.

Fountains of Golden Fluids 1:32 PM  

@Anonymous 11:23, I love you my fellow child of God. May your day go smoothly as our Earth hurtles through the universe.

Masked and Anonymous 1:55 PM  

@BillFeeney - Actually, M&A really got a kick out of yer confused comment from late yesterday, and all the reactions. Thanx, dude. Just wanted U to be sure to know, we're all good.
Alas, U are on the right track: M&A comments are often sorta like open-air runt puzzles for readers to solve, I'd hafta grant. Even smart dudes like Yoda comments understand hard to had.

Almost forgot -- M&A also really admired today's PAPERCUT clue. Even better than M&A's nastalgic staff pick of: {PLANE assembly injury??}.


Nancy 2:07 PM  

I can't believe all the highly colorful responses to my Piper Cherokee story from people who had remarkably similar plane-flying experiences. From @Old @Numinous -- it's remarkable how many of us who had absolutely no business doing so were flying small private planes back in the day. Did all boyfriends let their girlfriends fly when no one was looking? Did all fathers hand their children the controls when no one was looking? It's amazing that any of us are alive today. But I do believe, @Mohair, that Teterboro must have been a far less busy airport back in the late '60s than it is today. I don't remember seeing another plane in the sky, though admittedly I wasn't looking out for one. Boyfriend was taking care of that, thank heaven.

Numinous 4:11 PM  

@Nancy, back in the early '80s, a friend of mine who was a licensed pilot and I formed a company that lasted for at least three months called Aerial Image Photography. We photographed real estate for sale, mostly houses, from the air. We would fly to the address, circle it from a couple hundred feet while I hung out the window snapping photographs with the Nikon I hammered back into working. A few real estate agents had us shoot for them but then lost interest. I guess the aerial photos didn't help sales enough.

Wm. C. 5:34 PM  


Re: P38 Lightning

As I recall, one reason the P38's production in WWII was accelerated for the Pacific theater was that, the Japanese Zero had a very tight turning radius, and could dive and turn well inside anything that our single-engine fighters could do, thus achieving escape with one of our fighters on its tail. The P38's engines were counter-rotating, thus had no inherent torque resistance to a tight turn, and could therefore more-than-match the Zero in a dogfight.

BTW, Pappy, speaking of Zeros, one put you out of commission in early '44, for the war's duration.

Alison 5:50 PM  

Happy women's history month to David Phillips, who must remember a time when it is not hideously offensive to call a woman "a broad."

Bill Feeney 5:53 PM  

@M&A do really like your comments even if I don't understand them all. Reminds me a little of Tom Wolfe as he experiments with ways to say things on the page in this era of short forms, emojis,twitter and whatever you call !&$@¥#%.s. To replicate an idea or print today requires breaking many of the conventions of normal, written English. He's done it all his literary life (Electric Koolaid Acid Test), but you take it to a new level.

Mohair Sam 6:04 PM  

Whenever the conversation goes to small aircraft I remember a round trip flight I took 30 years back from a small strip in Canastota, NY to an equally small strip near Norwich, CT. The old man who made the two of us breakfast in the small hangar turned out to be the pilot. The old single engine he threw us in flew beautifully, and we soon were into conversation with old guy. Asked him where he learned to fly - "World War II, the Navy taught me.", he replied.
"Oh," said I, "fighter pilot on a carrier?"
"Nope, I was catapulted off cruisers."
You want to hear different war stories? Consider that at launch only the pilot knows the aircraft's RPM and required launch angle, only the Captain knows the ships speed and roll, and they have to communicate by hand signal through the "Launch Officer" - a part time job. And give a moments thought to getting the damned plane out of the water and back on the ship when the mission is completed - remembering that you can't slow down with enemy subs in the area.
Quite a flight.

Anonymous 7:26 PM  

I though Rex approved the comments. What's with all the hate and the random T*ump supporter who said nothing about the puzzle?

It was hard for me. I usually do a Wed. in about 12 minutes. This took me 15.

old timer 8:11 PM  

People with random political comments are among the anonymice who are best ignored. And those of us who use the same name every time (blue or not) are very good at never taking the bait. That is one reason why Our Fearless Leader (OFL, I always say) has allowed the comments to be unmoderated. I think for him to remove a comment there needs to be a real threat of a defamation suit. Which rarely happens because regardless of party or political opinion we all like each other, I think. At least I like all you regulars. In fact the one person I sometimes dislike is OFL himself and he is a very good sport about that. (Of course, when I agree with him I like to say so).

Uncle Meemaw 9:09 PM  

Drunk as hell, again.

Bill Feeney 9:25 PM  

ps @ Z could we just truncate the conversation and reduce schwa /long to schlong?

Aketi 10:44 PM  

@Tita A, I once dated A SCOT. I would have enjoyed watching him do yoga in a kilt.
@ Gill I, loved your PDA clue.
@Nancy and Tita A. I think you both logged in more "here you take over the controls" time than I did. When I was in Peace Corps we had one reprieve from our isolated post when we were able to attend an education conference. Which meant we all took advantage of drinking and dancing till the wee hours of the morning. Some Belgian guy joined our group and said he was a pilot. We didn't realize that he was going to be our pilot the next morning to take us back the Kisangani. So for a few brief moments I got to fly. Fortunately, even in his hung over state to realize that he needed to take over before I caused us to nose dive in the jungle.

I don't think ADAMA or Lady GODIVA could be RISK AVERSE. I see there was a CLOAK thrown in as a potential cover up.

Tita 8:17 AM  

@Aketi - you and everyone else have me beat... No wild partying, no boyfriend - well, it was my sister's boyfriend who was undoubtedly trying to ingratiate himself with her by being nice to the kid sister.

Great thing about this blog is the random connections we can find beyond crosswords.

Shalini 10:28 PM  

Wonderful bloggers like yourself who would positively reply encouraged me to be more open and engaging in commenting.So know it's helpful.

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Anonymous 5:46 AM  

Italic i or italic em

spacecraft 7:06 AM  

Well, OK, the Muslim crack was...unnecessary. The "BROAD" remark? I wouldn't say it, but it's only mildly offensive. Nothing to have a cow about. There were two French entries. I've seen grids with four, even five I think once. Not all that "far down the road." As to the TICKETAGENT, all right, not a pure sound-out like the others, but geez, is it all of a sudden "slop" for the STY?

What IS slop is when you have to EKE (out) UEYS in order to fill your grid. I swear, if I ever become a constructor (most unlikely), I would tear up a masterpiece if I had to include either of those.

I am grateful for a very easy Wednesday puzzle, as time is short. Early app't. DOD could be the mythical GODIVA, or to really stretch it, my secret love Gloria Estefan of MIAMI Sound Machine. Hey, ANY way I can work her in. Pleasant enough puzzle otherwise; par.

Burma Shave 9:46 AM  




Anonymous 1:43 PM  

Reject the puzzle because of agent? It worked just fine, and the puzzle was fun to do. Has Wednesday become the new Tuesday, where nothing is ever acceptable?

Anonymous 1:59 PM  

Almost all were right. I got Amamo instead of Adamo for 9 down and etend instead of eceed.

Diana,LIW 2:01 PM  

PAPERCUT made my morning.

Knew the BROAD answer would bring some ire - no worse than geezer in my book. just a SLANGY word in the wordplay world. Then there's our old pal UEYS (var.)

ALDO a giggle at puns just like a baby who's been Gucci gooed.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

rain forest 2:17 PM  

Hey! I remember laughter!

While I understand where some folks are coming from with regard to PDA (as clued), and BROAD, I really don't understand the extent of their wrath. Sufficient people in key States elected a President who bragged about grabbing pussies and laughed it off as "locker room talk". And there he is, regrettably. STUDY A BROAD amused me. Mind you, if I were to construct a puzzle, I might avoid that choice of entry. Or I might not.

It is undeniably true that certain "strict" Muslim countries have a different view of PDAs than we do here (in Canada and the US), so that clue/ answer work.

This was a competently constructed puzzle, in my opinion, even with EKE in there.

I've noticed that many people dislike UEYS. Is UieS OK? I think, like the Seinfeld episode about "salsa", some people just like to say/type "schwa".

centralscrewtinizer 2:36 PM  

Was sure 34 across was going to be zany. The 'the' in front of MLB confused me...shouldn't that just be 'Place to follow MLB'? Regardless, once sorted, only had to guess correctly at ALDO/ADAMI natick.
Aldo Leopold led the way. Figured Gucci would never be Albo, Aljo, Alko, Almo, Alno, Alpo (heh), Alto, Alvo, or any such. Never watched 'Battlestar Galactica'.
Pappy B., he dead.
I would like to LEAD ASTRAY some GALPALS, but not SONIA.

rondo 4:19 PM  

But OFL, we’re not saying them aloud – we’re writing them. No sound. No pronouncing involved. A GENT thus just fine. And all the BROAD PDA discussion does nothing for me, one way or the other. More germane is that the only way I’ve yet to see 180s spelled is YOUIES, but I expect that day to come.

Nice to see LIL back in the Abner realm where it belongs. And as far as those SWEDES go, it’s Agnetha’s birthday today.

We used to have a woman pro wrestler in town, stage name MEDUSA. She made quite the spectacle of herself one night in a local bar/restaurant by sensually eating her special order of cherries and whipped cream, slowly licking off the whipped cream first and then teasing the cherry with her tongue. All males in the room agape. That's one way to STUDYABROAD. True story, I was at an adjacent table.

Look at that time stamp - @spacey was up with the chickens, or before. GODIVA, sure, but I would stretch for yeah baby SONIA Braga, contemporary and in my age range.

No write-overs again, must be doing something right. And this nice puz was no CHORE.

rondo 4:21 PM  

Upon further reflection, MEDUSA was eating strawberries.

leftcoastTAM 5:23 PM  

Coming late, finishing late.

PUNS were okay but not a whole lot of fun. SNIFFAROUND worked best for me. STUDYABROAD, with its
"old-fashionedly" misdirection worked least. Seems to contradict itself.

The ADAMA/ALDO cross was the potential Natick of the day. First wanted D, then T. Wanting to CUT to the chase, chose T. So, dnf. Arrgh.

Unknown 3:51 PM  

You're talking the most prehistoric religion on earth that treats its women like shit and heaves gays off of buildings. Talk about a War on Women!

Get with it libs!

wcutler 11:16 PM  

It seems a little up-tight to object to the use of the word "Muslim". It's a religion, and there are cultural things related to it. No-one objects to clues where the answer is Matzo, or other clues related to Jewish religion or culture. It's a little too PC to freak out if the word Muslim is used at all. Being Muslim is a natural part of a lot of people's lives. It's ok to be Muslim, and ok to talk about it and to clue references to it. It's not a swear word, or a bad word. I never heard the term PDA, don't know if that's pejorative, is that the issue? I would think the clue as written would be strictly accurate and Muslims would agree.

I silently voted to hear @Nancy's story, enjoyed that and the responses.

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