Grenache for one / WED 4-26-17 / Hostility in British slang / Cuneiform discovery site / Extinct relative of kiwi / Second-largest Arabic speaking city after Cairo / Degree of expertise in martial arts / Fifth-century invaders of England / US president who becomes president of future earth on Futurama / SIster chain of Marshalls / Candy often used in science fair volcanoes

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Constructor: Trenton Charlson

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: DOS EQUIS (64A: Beer brand whose logo hints at the answers to 17-, 19-, 38-, 43- and 61-Across) — all those answers have a double "X" in them:

Theme answers:
  • REDD FOXX (17A: "Sanford and Son" star of 1970s TV)
  • NEXXUS (19A: High-end shampoo brand)
  • ANTIVAXXER (38A: Shot blocker?)
  • EXXON MOBIL (43A: BP rival)
  • TJ MAXX (61A: Sister chain of Marshalls)
Word of the Day: VINROSE (42A: Grenache, for one) —
Huh, not a word. Turns out it's two words. Two French words: VIN ROSÉ, i.e. Rosé wine. Wow. OK.
• • •

This is a nice theme. Shoulda been Tuesday—it's more a Tuesday type, more a Tuesday difficulty level, but nice, simple, interesting, with original and unusual themers. Very pleasant. I don't know what NEXXUS is. Is that something available in salons only? It rings the vaguest of bells, but I definitely had to go to the crosses to get that one in there. The others Xers were all very familiar. I particularly like ANTI-VAXXER (as a word, not as a concept or a delusional human). I want to call a massive foul on VIN ROSÉ, though, and not just because the clue [Grenache] was meaningless to me, and not just because when I finally filled it in (entirely from crosses) I had no idea what I was looking at. I didn't know NEXXUS, you'll note, and I ain't mad at NEXXUS. But VIN ROSÉ. I have never seen the phrase. I drink wine not infrequently—I mean, I'm no OENO-phile, but I drink—and while I've heard of rosé (never drink it, but heard of it), the French phrase? No. Do people use it. We say white wine, red wine, rosé. There are French words for wine types, but for just the general category of wine. "Here, try this vin rouge?" No. And if we don't use it in English, why is it here? It's pretty long for a foreign word. If "in France" had been in the clue, maybe. But it's absurd to think that a wine *type*'s being in French is going to tip you to the answer's being in French. For example, [Chenin blanc, e.g.] is a perfectly good clue for WHITE WINE, despite the clue words being French. I would never look at that clue and think, "well, the answer must be French." And yet this stupid Grenache (?!) clue. Oy.

Here are my trouble spots for the day:

The real fly in the ointment, strangely, was SAY NO (21A: Put one's foot down). Metaphors! I had the "S" and blithely wrote in STOMP. That gave me an answer at 22D: Making it big that started TR- (totally plausible), so I never questioned it (until I did). The one other place in the grid I hesitated was at AP---- (31D: Culmination of a challenging H.S. course). We call them AP TESTS. I have a human in my house who is taking two next month. AP EXAMS is probably the official term, and I don't think it's incorrect, I just know people say TEST much more often. OK, done, bye.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


evil doug 7:03 AM  

My dad was a Navy pilot in the Pacific during WWII, so my first thought for "sister chain of Marshalls" was another group of islands.

Forsythia 7:09 AM  

Once I saw XXs as the theme I put in NEXXUS. I don't use it but it's a familiar brand. Hand up for stomp. Just shopped at Home Store last week in Myrtle Beach and found out it is a sister to TJ and Marshalls also. Is ANTIVAXXER a term? or just something that could describe crazy parents? No idea on DAN vowel so wasn't sure on the cross. Personally would like ANITVeXXER for people who don't annoy!

Anonymous 7:11 AM  

Wines made from the Grenache grape are not necessarily roses.

Hartley70 7:15 AM  

This is more challenging than the average Wednesday. I don't know why it didn't slow me down because there were multiple answers that stumped me without the crosses.

The cities were tough. I am completely unfamiliar with AMARNA and MADERA. They each look like they need one more letter to make sense. If I were Queen they'd each get an "I". FRESNO and BAGHDAD are on my radar of course, but as clued they were not obvious.

DAN is a big huh (?) and I waited plenty outside a karate class for a pint sized student. Likewise the wine meant nothing to me. Rose has become inordinately trendy lately for reasons I don't completely understand. Is it a "pretty in pink" issue?

ANTIVAXXER is the toughest of the theme answers. For a bit I had violence in mind, not fearful parents. I would have imagined a word with this meaning to be a double "C" word. Double letters will be making someone here very happy today, and X is tougher than your average N or T so it should be a greater thrill. As to the reveal, at the moment I prefer Stella, but DOSEQUIS came immediately to mind.

This theme was enjoyable and I was surprised to see so many XX words. I don't know if the constructor could come up with an additional themer, but I sure couldn't.

Mr. Fitch 7:16 AM  

In what sense is this theme "nice"? Two x's in a row? Just yawn. Give me something just a tad more creative, please. This is about as bland as anything I can think of. It may be a tight theme, but it's boringly so. I also think if you're going to make your theme be two letters in a row, you really shouldn't have other instances of answers with two (other) letters in a row, like YESSIR or ROOMIE.

I wholeheartedly agree about VINROSE. There needed to be some sort of inkling that this would be in French; "Grenache," also being is use in English, isn't really sufficient. Cafe (with the accent on the "e," which I can't reproduce here) is fine because of that accent. Grenache is too linguistically ambiguous.

Rev. E.M. Thompson, Pastor 7:18 AM  

Given the "XX" theme I would have liked to have seen more porno and porno related answers.

Mr. Fitch 7:19 AM  

In other words, they should have clued it "Grenache, par exemple"

Anonymous 7:22 AM  

Vin rosé
Type de vin

There's a French Wikipedia entry. Must be in their language. Good enough.

abalani500 7:23 AM  

Nothing wrong with VINROSE, it is a real term oft used. The problem is the clue - Grenache is a grape varietal and is in fact more often part of a red wine blend or its own red wine varietal.

Anonymous 7:32 AM  

How do you say major league A-hole in French?

Glimmerglass 7:38 AM  

C'mon, man. Just because you were ignorant about a wine and a shampoo (everyone is ignorant about something, especially me) is not a reason to "cry foul." I never heard of grenache, but VIN ROSE is a common heading on a restaurant wine list , and a few crosses did the trick. I never saw a bottle of NEXXUS, but I've seen the ads in magazines. You can grumble (it's what you do), but the problem is with you, not the constructor or (gasp) the editor. This morning on WEB I learned that DOS EQUIS (an alcohol mini theme?) doesn't mean "two horses," which is what I thought. The "two exes" XX refers to the start of the 20th century (first made in 1897).

chefbea 7:41 AM  

Knew the themes was XX...Never heard of antivaxxer. Too many African words. Do like acorn squash!!

kitshef 7:46 AM  

Easy to the point of boring, except for the odd, Natick-worthy cross of DAN and VIN ROSE. Never heard of DAN and never heard of grenache.

From The Onion on ANTI VAXXERSs

runtomrun 7:46 AM  

I remember vin rose from the 70s, perhaps it was a brand? or a varietal? I don't remember because, when we favored Boonesfarm Apple wine, something like vin rose was too fancy to consider!

Rhino 7:52 AM  

Give me a thousand years and I still wouldn't understand why you wouldn't give DIEHARD an Alan Rickman clue.

RooMonster 8:04 AM  

Hey All !
@Aketi, we need you to explain the DAN clue/answer!

Thought this an excellent puz. 5 themers with Double X's, and no crappy fill! Hard to do. Never heard of ANTIVAXXER, will have to Goog it later. That was my DNF area, had ANTIVeXXER, Det, VItROSE there.

And the Long Downs were great! Plus throwing me in the grid didn't hurt! This is how puzs ought to be. Very nice, Trenton.

Hell, even got a good review from OFL, so you know it was good!

Too many exclamation marks!


Unknown 8:10 AM  

As others have already said, "Grenache" does not always mean "Rose." "Vin Rose" as an answer didn't bother me so much, but the clue itself is just plain wrong.

Nancy 8:11 AM  

Like @Hartley, I thought this was challenging for a Wednesday. But unlike Hartley, I didn't enjoy it. So much trivia and so many product names. Plus some awful clues: When I say AND, I don't mean "So what?". I hope you don't either. And some awful answers. Here comes the dreaded Internet acronym NSFW again. Once I found out what it meant, right here, a few weeks ago, I had hoped to be through with it forever. And ANTIVAXXER? Is that a real word? And isn't it awfully cutesy for the nut cases who may bring about the world's next pandemic? We've been lucky, puzzlewise, the last two days, but third time's not the charm. I give this an XX.

Anonymous 8:24 AM  

How does it follow from a Grenache not always being un VIN ROSE that there's something wrong with the cluing? Since when is strict synonymy required--or even a good thing? Ambiguity is more often than not part of the fun. Same goes for the name of the varietal not reading as necessarily French to some. Sheesh!

Sir Hillary 8:27 AM  

This puzzle was enjoyable. Fun to see all the Xs. Nice trivia for BAGHDAD.

Write-overs -- heX, EVEr, APtest.

Surprised @Rex didn't mention the place he grew up (27D) but then again it's been an entry before, so maybe no need.

VINROSE is definitely a thing, on menus and elsewhere. The "Grenache" clue doesn't work though, for these reasons cited by @abalani500.

Stay puzzling, my friends.

Anonymous 8:42 AM  

Can someone explain why "are" is the answer for "equal"? Thanks

Anonymous 8:47 AM  

Two and two are four.
Four and four are eight.
Eight and eight are sixteen.
Sixteen and sixteen are thirty-two.
(Inchworm song)

Charles Flaster 8:47 AM  

Should have been a Thursday. Caught theme right away and that helped the products I did not have in my wheelhouse.
Naticked one letter at DoN crossing ANTIVoXXER.
SAY NO for Stomp
Liked OARED crossing GONDOLAS.

TC-- thanks for a fine debut.

Carola 8:49 AM  

From the Department of Disgruntlement: 4 of 6 theme answers corporate or product names - not a fan. Redeeming features: ANTIVAXXER and the mirroring of ANGER and AGGRO.
Tougher for me than the usual Wednesday. I had to creep into the NE from below, having no idea about MENTOS and unable to recall the shampoo. MADERA was new to me; AMARNA new in its cuneiform connection, previously known to me as Nefertiti's capital city.

Nate 8:54 AM  

This was a slog for me. I earned a DNF because of the DAN and VIN ROSE cross. I think I vaguely knew "dan", but definitely did not know what a "vin rose" was. Or a ganache, for that matter.

Also struggled with the cities. I've probably heard of MADERA, but it doesn't ring a bell. RIA is one of those words that I know from crosswords and promptly forget, so that cross took a while.

I didn't love the ARE clue. Just sorta... meh. Surely there's something better than "Equals".

On the positive side, ELIXIR, MENTOS, ANTIVAXXER, TJ MAXX, and DOS EQUIS were all really nice.

Tita 8:56 AM  

I too thought "Huh...islands have sister chains?"

@Nancy...I guess this theme needed the high's pretty rare to find DOSEQUIS in a row in nature.
@Rhino...yes, I've seen DIEHARD films. I even kind of like them, in a guilty pleasure no-redeeming-value entertainment kind of way.
But I have never heard that actor's name until just now.
I'm thrilled that the word was clued in an actual sense, and not Hollywood-drivel-unimportant-trivia kind of way. must be a MADEiRA drinker...?

Let me preemptively defend the PoC YEASTS. I have two types of YEASTSn my fridge right now, and am breakfasting on homemade bread that has a bit too much "soul of the baker" for my taste...I think I used the wrong one.

It was surprising to me that Rex didn't give this one the same rant as yesterday's.

Wm. C. 9:03 AM  

For those still wondering: shot blocker => Antivaxxer

An Antivaxxer is someone (typically a parent) who is against vaccinations for their kids. (I had to google it.)

Nexxus? Mentos? Dan? Are (saw the explanation above, but still runs weak)?

I eventually got everything but the "A" in Dan crossing Antivaxxer. Hey, I like challenging puzzles, and at midweek it's a welcome surprise. But this one had too many never-heard-of's and WTF's.



Z 9:13 AM  

Every Grenache I've ever sipped has been a red. The clue is just fine for exactly the reason @Anonymous8:24 said. Indeed, a little misdirection is good for the mind.

ANTI-VAXXER is definitely a thing. Long story short, A Brit did a bad study linking vaccines to autism. The study has long been disproved, but autism diagnoses are in the rise so there is a whole section of parents against vaccines. You can use google to find the totally predictable results of what happens when ANTI-VAXXERs make up a significant portion of a community. Note, too, that autism diagnoses have increased. The simplest explanation for this is that society is better at labeling people as autistic than we used to be. There may be environmental factors at play as well, but it could be nothing more than increased identification.

@Evil Doug - I avoided that trap but it is a perfectly reasonable misdirect. I think I avoided it mostly because of the theme.

Rob 9:20 AM  

I loved this puzzle. Lively fill. Best words: all of the themers, especially ANTIVAXXER, AGGRO. If I had to make a criticism, it would be that it's a bit easy for Wednesday -- I set a personal best today, which I'm pleased about -- but really, well done.

L 9:21 AM  

I thought it was rasy, but the etire NE corner stumped me. How do yiu even incorporate MENTOS in a science fair volcano?? And SAY NO was just not coming to me...

CFXK 9:22 AM  

Finally, a puzzle with TRUE Natick.

The headquarters for TJ Maxx and Marshalls (TJX Companies) straddles the towns of Natick and Framingham Massachusetts, with each town claiming about half of the property/buildings (though the corporate address is Framingham), and is adjacent to Cochituate State Park and on the shores of Lake Cochituate.

Ken Aaron 9:23 AM  

You should try a nice rosé. Perfect on a warm summer night.

kitshef 9:33 AM  

@L - Google videos of "Mentos and Diet Coke". Then try it yourself. It's way cool.

GHarris 9:43 AM  

So many words and places I did not know yet got them all right with crosses until I reached the NE. Had pox for tax and never saw (or knew) mentos (neither did my autocorrect which I had to override). Had stomp at first but quickly changed it. Can anyone tell me what nsfw stands for?

QuasiMojo 9:44 AM  

Not being a wine snob or a foodie I thought "grenache" was some sort of garnish they put on cupcakes these days. Oh, my word! I did everything exactly as Rex did today. To a tee. Kinda scary.

I also thought of the Marshall Islands and wanted to squeeze in some obscure archipelago.

When a puzzle is filled with brand names such as Nexxus, Dos Equis, Dyson, and TJ Maxx, not to mention our Secretary of State's alma mater, Exxon Mobil, it is time to take it to the cleaners. Same with "arms" and "army" being used so close together, or at all. The end result is Ugli. I'd rather read the Sear's Catalog.

(All of this is very much on my mind as I did that puzzle from 1996 that someone here recommended. What a joy compared to this drivel. Granted, it was a Saturday one, but still there's no comparison in quality from what we have foisted on us today.)

A dormmate is not necessarily a roomie, although a roomie can be a dormmate. That's why we have both words, to differentiate between the two.

As for that "elixir," the "vin rosé," those of you who also didn't like this puzzle, well, why don't you come over, I've just opened "a nice Chianti."

John Child 9:44 AM  

J'ai aimé ça! And my vin rosé too. Too bad MADERA couldn't have been Madeira. That was a toughie - never heard of the place. But otherwise very nice fill around a good Tuesday theme. Tuesday time here too.

Congratulations on the debut.

ArtO 9:45 AM  

Hand up for joining the anti-grenache clue response as being incorrect. As noted, Grenache is a red varietal that is most often found in rhone blends. Happen to enjoy it on its own when found in Spanish wines as a stand alone (Garnacha).

CFXK 9:48 AM  

@GHarris: NSFW: not safe for work. meaning, if you click on it, you will go to a web page that would be inappropriate for a work setting (e.g., porn, extreme violence, offensive language/images). It's not safe, among other reasons, because going there could get you fired (or sued)

Aketi 9:51 AM  

@ Rex, I too have a human in my house who is also taking his last two AP EXAMs next month. I think we tend to use EXAM more than test. I was under the sad delusion that once he was admitted to college, his senior year would be easier than his junior year. Still waiting. Maybe after those EXAMs ARE over. My memory of Friday's during the last semester of my senior year was driving my younger siblings to high school, pretending to go in with them, doubling back out, and driving myself to the beach. There was no computer tracking. Notes were sent to parents via the mail and they were easy to intercept before your parents got home. He can't get away with the truancy I engaged in because I get robocalls if he's late and can track every grade he gets for every assignment in every class.

I find the arguments of many ANTIVAXXERS to be VEXing.

I did like the DOS times cinqo ARE diez EQUIS.

ALPAPilot 9:51 AM  

It comes from solving word problems in algebra. The word "of" generally signifies multiplication, "is/are will signify equals.

GILL I. 9:54 AM  

Here you have FRESNO clued as an "ash tree" and just north of it we get MADERA which means lumber. Cute huh? MADERA is a lovely small town in the Central Valley. If you are going to visit Yosemite, spend the night there. It's inexpensive and the people are very friendly. They even have a ROSE winery but I don't think they grow the Grenache varietal. Speaking of....I misread the clue as GANACH. I was looking for some kind of Martha Stewart chocolate tartlet icing. Finally went back to the clue and plonked in VIN ROSE. I agree with @Rex on this cluing. You might see VIN ROSE in print while you're in France, here we just call it a cold, yummy, eat with some crab cakes dipped in aioli, ROSE.
Hand up for never having heard of ANTI VAXXER. I had VOXXER and just left it because DON looks perfectly fine as a martial arts expert. Thanks @Z for the link. I certainly remember the big hoo hah. I'm pretty sure it was also on the Dr. Phil show so that makes it legitimate.
I enjoyed the puzzle because I like exes. I like o's as well. I don't like DOS EQUIS because it has no taste but then I'm no beer expert.
Oh, and MENTOS was a big huh...? I thought it was Pop Rocks that did all the blowing up.
Anyway, I enjoyed this (for me) Tuesday puzzle.

Trombone Tom 10:12 AM  

As noted by @Gill I above, Madera is encountered here in California as a town on the way to Yosemite (which, by the by, is at peak glory right now with the huge amount of snow melt cascading off its walls).

Hand up for Stomp-->SAY NO. Not familiar with the ANTIVAXXER spelling, but very familiar with the group, many of whom hale from Marin County.

As a wine grape grower I, too, think the VAN ROSE cluing was a little off.

And out here one frequently hears the expression AP EXAM.

I enjoyed the puzzle and thought it was on the easy side until I reached the NE, which put up a good fight.

GHarris 10:12 AM  

Thank you @CFXK

Aketi 10:15 AM  

@RooMonster, I had to look up the DAN answer a while back when it was in another puzzle. It's an old school Martial Arts ranking system that is the equivalent of black belt or higher. I've never heard anyone use the term in my dojo.

@Nancy, be grateful you haven't encountered the ANTIVAXXERs. The exist even in the medical profession. I once had to sit and listen to a prominent pediatrician who had a) never seen a case of polio in his life, b) never set foot out of the United States, and c) had zero knowledge of epidemiology, spout utter nonsense about how the WHO had spread polio throughout Nigeria and was in bed with the pharmaceutical industry covering up the autism epidemic. I hadflashbacks to the cholera epidemic I lived through, the post famine measles outbreak that killed and blinded many children that I witnessed in Niger, and the many many people I saw crawling (yes crawling) on the hands and knees because of polio in multiple countries in Africa. The people who learned to crawl after having polio were amazingly adept. I was so enraged but that pediatrician that I was speechless, which, as you know, is very rare for me.

wordstorn 10:15 AM  

31 Down: A test for the top of the morning?

Joseph Michael 10:16 AM  

DNF due to the unfortunate crossing of DAN (as clued) (ugli) and ANTI-VAXXER. Never heard of the latter term, though I am familiar with the concept and have a friend who qualifies for it.

Too many proper nouns made this feel like a trip through a shopping mall. Had a tough time in the NE (candy in science fair volcanoes?) (huh?) but managed to get through it with some lucky guesses.

APEX AM might have been clued "top 'o the morning." WEREON sounds like a rare natural gas. And MAD ERA is a good description for today's world.

But when it comes to VIN ROSE, I'd rather have a Pinot Noir any day (as well as a clue written in French).

Aketi 10:17 AM  

PS @Nancy, just backtracked to find your @GlamourNazi post that I missed when I was on the road trip, :)

Anonymous 10:31 AM  

Stupid misdirection, but I put in Lapel instead of LEASH (53A; collar attachment) which led to GONDOLAe instead of GONDOLAS (24D). This seemed plausible, given what I presumed to be a Latin origin to gondola, and it ended up being my only oops.

A fun solve; north of easy but south of average.

CFXK 10:36 AM  

Coincidentally, the Marshall Islands comprise two sister atoll/island chains: the Ratak (sunrise) chain and the Railik (sunset) chain. Bikini Atoll is one of the northern-most atolls in the Railik chain. Happily, I am sure that you can find a bikini at either one of the sister stores, Marshalls or TJ Maxx (though not necessarily in the northern-most section). You may want to check it for nuclear contamination before completing your purchase, however.

Lurker Librarian 10:42 AM  

DAN is commonly used in many styles of karate, to indicate the different ranks of black belt (lower belts are denoted by kyu, i. e. steps). VIN ROSE was the only wine my mother would drink when I was growing up. Maybe it was a 70s thing.

Nancy 10:44 AM  

@Aketi -- Seldom speechless, and remarkably brave. I know that martial arts requires far more physical courage than I possess, but either I never knew or had forgotten how harrowing and risky some of your experiences in Africa were. I admire you for having that kind of selfless courage. And, yes, the ANTIVAXXERS make my blood boil, too.

Glad you found the post from 2015.

Anonymous 10:52 AM  


If you can say, where pray tell were you that you HAD to sit and listen to that nut? It's one thing to read the goofballs and simpletons that post here, but it sounded as though you were in a professional setting. Was this pediatrician on the hit squads that were killing folks vaccinating kids in Pakistan?
Sheesh. I hope next time you can just walk away from that BS.

Peace and Godspeed to you

OISK 10:58 AM  

Thanks Anon(8:47) for the memory of Danny Kaye singing "Inchworm..."

I am no fan of product clues, so Mentos, icee, exxon, dos equis, TJ Maxx, Dyson and Nexxus were quite a few too many. And Dyson and Nexxus were unfamiliar. NSFW reared its ugly head again - one of those annoying acronyms that I have never encountered anywhere but in crosswords.

Grenache is the grape called Cannonau in Sardinia, which is where I first encountered it. I'm sure it can be used to make a rose, but I have always seen it in red wines. In fact, I started to write "Vin rouge," but ran out of space! Count me among those who don't like the clue.

Does anyone else immediately think "Non combos" when they see "Mentos"?

Other than an over reliance on business-name clues, this was a find puzzle, as far as I am concerned.

Anonymous 11:05 AM  

VINROSE didn't bother me, I've heard that term (and I actually like Rosés) but Grenaches are typically blending grapes and mostly for reds. The clue was bad.

DAN also familiar as I know someone working through the taekwondo levels. So lucky me.

But that obscure city in Cali, MADERA crossed with RIA killed me. I stupidly didn't know RIA and of course I had never heard of the city. Oh well.

(evil doug, had the same reaction to the Marshalls clue!)

100proof 11:07 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
100proof 11:11 AM  

Grenache clue is a total fail. I own a wine store, I know a lot about wine. Grenache is a grape most well known for red wine in theSouthern Rhone of France, most notably in Chateau Neuf du Pape. I have owned a store for 14 years and have never used the term vin rose. Could not parse that clue at all.

Malsdemare 11:16 AM  

I liked seeing FRESNO in the grid; my dad ran the hospital there during WWII. And @Kitshef, thanks for the terrific Onion piece; I have a friend who is firmly, illogically, of the opinion that vaccines cause autism and nothing I've said about the hazards of not vaccinating has made a difference. I posted the piece on my Facebook page; maybe she'll see it and think again. Fortunately, she's past child-bearing. Science-deniers infuriate me; what's the point of having a brain if you aren't going to use it?

I also agree with Anonymous 8:24; insistence on precise synonymity is over the top even for this pretty anal compulsive solver. Maybe early in the week, but it by Wednesday, I'll happily sacrifice exactitude for challenge.

NEXXUS is a Jerry Redding product, sold in salons. Back when my hair was my crowning glory, it was a staple of the shower. Now that my crown is no longer all that glorious, I use whatever is good for the environment.

Ah, Nancy, aka Glamour Nazi, good one!

I knew MENTOS, another one of those random neuron firings that I cannot possibly explain, NSFW off the N, DOSEQUIS, just because.

I was five minutes faster than usual, had a decent mental workout, smiled at REDDFOXX. Nice Wednesday.

Lojman 11:30 AM  

ANTIVAXXER is definitely a thing, common in the fields of children's healthcare and politics. See McCarthy, Jenny. Lucky you if you've been able to avoid it.

Hand up for my eyes seeing Grenache and my brain thinking ganach. Must be too much Great British Baking Show.

@Rex, I strongly recommend a chilled ROSE on a hot summer day.

VINROSE would've been less irksome if DAN hadn't been so obscurely clued. Nevertheless, it was still pretty irksome, given that it's a French phrase, and was clued plainly wrong.


GILL I. 11:44 AM  

@Nancy....Might Agatha Christie given you away....? ;-)

Lindsay 11:56 AM  

Solved downs-only, and had 2 errors (lEAsT for MEANT, thinking the California city might begin "la" and mistaking sOHO for NOHO).

I also had 2 blanks, which ordinarily can be resolved by looking at the clipped out scrap of newsprint with the across clues. Not so today due to the DA?/VI?ROSE intersection. A big harrumph to that.

I'm so out of it on wines I was wondering if Grenache might be an island. Possibly in the Caribbean.

On the other hand, I'm surprised that so may have missed the ANTI-VAXXER hullabaloo. Especially since the inauguration. I just searched "Steve Bannon" and "anti-vaxxer" (which Google corrected to "anti-vaccine") and my first hit contained this gem:

Tom Price, a doctor who Trump named as health secretary, belongs to a group of conservative doctors which has called mass vaccination “equivalent to human experimentation.” At his confirmation hearing, however, he told senators that he didn’t think vaccines caused autism.

Dr. Haber 12:09 PM  

You might be remembering Mateus rose which was a popular party beverage among the fake ID set back in the day.
Mateus (wine)

Nancy 12:10 PM  

GILL -- It was meant to. You have no idea how hard I was trying to give myself away. And for almost three days, it seemed as though I had failed completely. (Where were you, incidentally? You were one of the people I was most sure would pick up on it -- of the people who didn't already know, that is.)

And by the way, I found your anecdote the other day about the gumming and DEGUMming of your sister's hair to be an absolute howl. As well as a pretty trenchant and honest look at the often unspoken truths about sibling rivalry.

old timer 12:10 PM  

I thought this was a brilliant puzzle, came here expecting the usual Rexrant, and was pleasantly surprised at his praise. No problem with APEXAM. Back in the day, I proudly got a 5 on my Spanish and American History AP's, and my wife and I produced three daughters who all aced their APEXAMs. Good thing, too, because my eldest two went to expensive private universities, so those AP credits saved me a semester's worth of tuition. (BTW my wife got polio just before the Salk vaccination came out. She spent a long time in hospitals, needs crutches and braces to walk, and is, yes, one of the bravest people I know.)

Almaden Grenache rose' was a best-seller for them, back in the late 50's and early sixties. It was a terrible wine and way too sweet. But local winemakers here in California can made excellent grenaches, red or white. In France or on the VIN ROSE part of a good wine list, I recommend looking for a ROSE' from Bandol, which is right on the Mediterranean not far from Toulon. Made with Mourvedre grapes, though, not Grenache.

Andrew Heinegg 12:13 PM  

I found it interesting with the many politically aware folks on this blog that no has mentioned the current POTUS as the nation's most famous antivaxxer of the moment.

The vin rose discussion is a fun one. Vin rose is made by using red grapes and, by a couple of different winemaking methods, make the color of the wine pink. Grenache is one of a long list of grapes used to make it. But, the one thing that all the grapes have in common is that much more red wine is made than pink from that grape. Save for Bandol, a region in South France, the red wines always fetch more money than the pinks. I got the answer because I have an association of Grenache with many pink wines. But, I think it is iffy to have that as an answer for the general puzzle solvers. I consider it like the specialized sports terms that appear every so often and seem to understandably annoy some people.

The biggest flaw in the puzzle for me was too many commercial product names which I take to be a byproduct of the double xx theme/gimmick of the puzzle. I suppose it is a matter of taste but, I just don't have an appreciation for such efforts because they seem to have an artificial and straining effect on the overall puzzle. I suppose it's like wine. There's just no arguing with taste.

Unknown 12:15 PM  

If you ask me, Trenton Charlson is an obsessive alcoholic. And NO WAY does still=even. There are a few others that are reaching, but in the Will Shortz era, this is nothing new.

mathgent 12:44 PM  

Very nice puzzle. Dos Equis is one of my favorite beers, especially when it Is on tap. Cinco de Mayo is near.

How old is the ORR entry in NYT puzzles? I think that it was in the first NYT crossword I did about sixty years ago. Back then we didn't have big league hockey here on the West Coast and I had never heard of Bobby Orr. Wasn't Orr a character in Catch 22? I guess that isn't well-known enough.

jberg 12:50 PM  

I'm back from a long vacation in Italy, trying to adjust to home -- I did the puzzle yesterday, but too late to bother coming here. As for today, I liked the theme, but thought a lot of the clues too obscure. I mean, I've heard of FRESNO, but have no way of knowing where it is (though I do know the way to San Jose). And AMARNA??? I'd have put in the more likedly sMyRNA, if not for RASPY.

I liked AVIARY, though.

semioticus (shelbyl) 1:02 PM  

This was easier than the average Wednesday, but was the funnest puzzle I've solved in a while. "Shot blockers?" got a legit laugh out of me. I've seen a lot of meh question mark clues lately and it's fun to see a good pun.

I agree with the commenter above who suggested the "Grenache, par exemple" fix. Makes a ton more sense that way. But yeah, this was fun enough to make me comment about it on this site for the first time.

Anonymous 1:05 PM  

i thought easy for wednesday. My only problem was spelling "ELIXIR" as "ELIXER". the cross there RIA vs REA did not help.

Trombone Tom 1:06 PM  

@semioticus, you'll fit right in! Welcome to join the fray.

Forsythia 1:08 PM  

Nexxus products are on sale in the current CVS not as obscure as folks think if only sold in salons. But I agree that there were too many product names in this puzzle.

Teedmn 1:16 PM  

Mis-reading Grenache as "ganache" (hi @Gill I) and plonking down "Obama" where NIXON resides (I've seen some Futurama, but not that episode) put a damper on my time today. And thinking of an Oreck vacuum (but entering Orkin - my vacuum doubles as an anti-infestation device, apparently) didn't help either. And I own a DYSON. All of this got fixed, but 10:13 is rather slow for Wednesday.

Minneapolis is currently experiencing a measles outbreak (20 cases so far) - due to the disease being brought in from overseas meeting a community with low vaccination levels fueled by anti-vaxxers. The first article I read about it began by describing measles as having been eradicated, but unfornately not true. A nasty disease which we can only hope will spur more parents to get their children vaccinated.

X marks this spot-on debut by Trent Charlson, congrats!

Anoa Bob 1:19 PM  

Reruns of "Sanford & Son" starring REDD FOXX are still on the tube. I catch an episode occasionally. It can be a pleasant respite from the maelstrom of screaming idiots in the media that seems to be the norm these days.

FOXX was born John Elroy Sanford. His brother was Fred G. Sanford, the name of the character on the show (wiki).

As a young stand-up comedian, REDD was known for his explicit, XX rated routines. From time to time, he would slip a little zinger in the show. In one scene, he was to become a god father and a nurse was showing him how to change a diaper using a doll on a changing table. After she had gone through the routine, she turned to REDD and said "Now, you try it". Without missing a beat, he said "Okay, jump up on the table". The actress playing the nurse tried to look indignant but you could tell she could hardly contain her laughter.

So good start for me, but when I saw all those other XXs, I figured there would be a price to pay fill-wise. Having two themers each in nearly hermetically sealed upper and lower sections helps avoid major disaster, but we still get the left-coast Natick equivalent, MADERA and the likes of AGGRO (really?) & AMARNA.

Would it not have been a xword godsend if ORR had played for ORU? And I believe that SAYNO NOHO ANNO was an early Bob Marley tune.

Joe Bleaux 1:41 PM  

Mr. Charlson -- Congrats on your debut, but yikes! Nexxus, Exxon Mobil, TJ Maxx, Dos Equis, Mentos, Alpo, Icee, Dyson ... PPP's not supposed to mean Product Placement Parade. Apart from that, good puzzle for a Wednesday.

AZPETE 1:44 PM  

Thx for post. Freedom from big government, gotta love it!

Joseph 1:46 PM  

There could have been more delightful answers such as BOXXING PLACEMENT or FIXXIT ITEMS, or even DUXXAFF BLOW! So many wonderful possibilities, and so much fun too solve! CRAXXEN TUBS as well. I wish I was able to solve this puzzle on several more occasions.

AZPETE 1:51 PM  

Why? Clue says "for one." Which is true. It doesn't say "for all."

GILL I. 2:01 PM  

@Nancy....Oh Madeira...I knew it was you. Your style of writing is tres unique. I picture you with a twinkle in that eye of yours with every single phrase you conjure up. I wanted to SHOUT NAAAAAANCY but it was a lot more fun to wait and see if @Quasi might propose.....!
@old timer...Almaden Grenache Rose. GAAAAAAAAA. That's what made me swear never to drink ROSE again. Then I tasted some exxcellent French ones. @Leapy but a bug in my ear and I've bought a bottle of Lillet Rose which we will sample tonight while celebrating my beautiful daughter's birthday. I might even celebrate the fact that I gave birth to her.....!

Anonymous 2:13 PM  

teedman and anyone else who cares,

Check out measles's basic reproduction rate and compare it to.. well, anything. You'll see just why it spreads so fast.

Masked and Anonymous 2:22 PM  

Congratz to Trenton Charlson on his debut. M&A really likes that name; Trenton Charlson just plain sounds like it should be a regular crossword grandconstructioneer's name.

Cute themers, but M&A was one of the AXX victims, at ANITVeXXER/DeN. Never heard of ANTIVAXXER, but I can kinda understand the term. Never heard of a martial arts DAN, tho.

VINROSE was ok by m&e. But I'd sure prefer a bottle of DOSEQUIS.

staff weeject pick: The TAX-ORU-SYS weeject stack in the NW. Honrable mention to DAN, tho.

Always a pleasure to see a solo black square sittin bravely alone at ground-zero center of the grid, with four 7-letter answers radiatin out from it. fave fillins: BAGHDAD, BOXSEAT, ELIXIR, FRESNO, the YESSIR-SAYNO row. fave desperation blips: AGGRO. NFSW.

Thanx, Mr. Charlson. Primo job. Next up: DOS UIES?

Masked & Anonymo3Us


Ray Yuen 2:51 PM  

Most of the people here skirted it but the wine store owner got it right. Grenache is a red grape; it is not a rose wine. Saying "Grenache, for example" is like saying Cabernet Sauvignon, for example, or Syrah, for example. They're all wrong. Sure, you can use any of them to make rose wine by either blending the grapes or (gasp!) blending the wine, but by themselves, they are red grapes. There is no such thing as a pink grape or a rose grape, so there's no answer in the world that would make this cluing correct.

As a note, Grenache is one of the major contributors to Tavel, which is one of the greatest rose wines on earth, but that still does not make Grenache a rose wine.

I don't get mad at clues often but this one is so blatantly wrong and ignorant, it's inexcusable. Yeck, this puzzle still leaves a white zinfandel finish in my mouth (that's bad, by the way).

chefbea 3:07 PM  

@jberg..know you had a great time in Italy. My daughter lives in Rome...did you see her??

bookmark 3:32 PM  

I taught in a large public high school for many years, and we always referred to them as AP Exams.

Richard 4:09 PM  

I initially put REDWINE for the grenache clue. I did not care for OARED or AMARNA as answers.

Z 4:15 PM  

I hate people when they aren't polite. RIP Jonathan Demme.

Z 4:26 PM  

A VIN ROSÉ Grenache or two or three or ....

@Gill I. - Even worse than Dr Phil or Oz or Jill Stein is that the original "research" was published in the Lancet, a well-known, well-regarded, peered review medical journal. People have died because of this guy's faking his data.

CDilly52 4:34 PM  

So glad to be back to having time for the daily puzz! Been in a jury trial for 2 weeks and blew my longest streak of solves (which would not be anything for all you pros to write home about but for me), 162 days without a single cheat is amazing. My dear departed Gran, who taught me about crosswords kept two streaks: solves using the printed "crossword dictionaries" and "pure" (no look-ups) solves. She was my guide and mentor and I think of her each and every day while solving. Hated my five day gap.

So today was indeed fresh, fun and easy. Nice re-entry for me. I agree that the Grenache clue wanted a French answer and was not handled well. I think the only time I would say "vin rose" in America would be to a French person or if reading a French wine label.

Adored ANYIVAXXERS. I was just meeting with local health department officials, legislators and public school Superintendents on this issue. Seems rural Oklahoma has quite a cadre of folks strongly opposed to mandatory vaccinations. I was surprised. Seems to me that the obvious balancing test in terms of availing oneself of free public education in the USA would mitigate in favor of requiring compliance with health and safety standards designed to keep the entire school "community" safe.
But on the other hand, I am a staunch supporter of church-state separation and would never, ever want to abridge someone's religious beliefs. Lots to consider.

So glad to be back to normal with such a spiffy offering and such perspicacious comments! Happy Wednesday one and all!

Anonymous 5:09 PM  

"Vin Rose" is a thing.

jae 5:50 PM  

Easy-medium except for the ANTIVAXXER/DAN cross. Fortunately, I guessed right. I'm very familiar with the vaccine/autism issue but I've never heard the misguided called ANTIVAXXERs. Thanks @Wm. C. & Z for the explanations.

I know almost nothing about wine so that clue was fine for me.

@Quasi - Assuming you are talking about the June 22, 1996 puzzle, you may want to take another look at the SW corner where 7 out of the combined 13 across and down clues are PPPs and 3 (maybe 4) of those are more than a tad obscure.

Like the beer (especially the Amber on tap), liked the puzzle, nice debut!

ahecht 5:57 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Teedmn 7:24 PM  

@jae, @Quasi, I posted my take on the 6/22/1996 puzzle last night on yesterday's blog. My experience was more like @jae's.

QuasiMojo 8:22 PM  

@jae and @teedmn, I like obscure answers and clues. I had no problem with them, other than the spelling of that Indian tribe. But there were no brandnames that I saw, other than a very old magazine, which I knew well, and the occasional variant spelling of some word. Easily sussable. To my eye and ear, the puzzle had great variety, spunk, grit and crunch, to use a popular word on here. I loved it. Please let me know if you find any more fun ones like that.

mathgent 9:18 PM  

I commented earlier about ORR and that it was in the first NYT puzzle I ever did sixty years ago. Then I did today's LAT puzzle and there it was again.

Let's at least come up with some fresher clues for ORR. In a cryptic puzzle, it might be "Sorry without limits."

Anonymous 9:28 PM  

Are you really giving The Lancet's bona fides?
I can't tell whether you're an amiable dunce trying to help people or just a dunce.

Anonymous 9:49 PM  

Terrorists at Berkeley won. Congrats Rex and all you Liberal Fascists.

Z 12:27 AM  

@Anon9:28 - Neither a dunce nor ignorant of facts. I do wonder why anonymice think inane, unsubstantiated comments are of interest to anyone, but go ahead. You do you. I won't think any less of you.

Hungry Mother 6:41 AM  

Tough Wednesday for me with a medium time. I didn't pay enough attention to the call outs for the double-x pattern.

Anonymous 9:37 AM  

Strange that you'd take the time to respond to something of no interest. But like your use of the word peruse, you have funny ideas. Including your estimation of your own intelligence.
Me? I make errors all the time, like when I wondered whether you were amiable. You're not. You're the dunce that told someone to F off...
I think I'll add rude to your dunce designation.

Burma Shave 11:49 AM  


“YESSIR, ANNO, there ARE no new TAXes.”


centralscrewtinizer 12:49 PM  

Had to laugh at GILL I slipping in 'plonked in VIN ROSE', plonk being vernacular for bad wine. Vin rose has a bad rap as it is often too sweet. But dry rose can be delicious.
Granache, or Garnacha, as a grape has a tendency to make light colored wine, so it is often blended with something darker, like Syrah, to give it color so it is not confused with rose and therefore does not sell, heh.
So try a nice, dry rose and educate your palate.

centralscrewtinizer 12:52 PM  

Oh, and forgot. Two exxes, one over each eye means drunk in comics, often, which leads me to a certain captain of a certain ship, the Exxon Valdez. Infamous. Rexx Tillerson went to ORU? Yikes.

leftcoastTAM 1:51 PM  

West, easy; East, not easy, particularly the NE MENTOS/NEXXUS/EVEN, but got it.

Erred at ANTIVoXXER. Never heard of the martial arts DAN.

Quick EXIT today.

BS2 1:55 PM  


AND NOHO to BAGHDAD is complete until ELIXIR DRY where the sex was.

this UGLI stream of unconsciousness brought to you by DOS_EQUIS and VIN_ROSE

rain forest 2:17 PM  

Though nothing leapt out at me, this was a fine puzzle. I found it very smooth, with no distractions, not even DAN (which I learned when my daughter took Tae Kwan Do lessons), or the Grenache clue.

I don't own a winery or a wine store, but I know a bit about wine. My first thought with Grenache was "varietal", which it is, but when the "I" appeared, VIN ROSE, was obvious. Throughout Provence, Grenache is a favoured grape for Rose. True, it is frequently used in blends, but also can produce a very nice vin rouge on its own. Without further boring everyone, let me just say that if asked what type of rose I would like, I'd just say "Grenache".

DOS EQUIS is a very good beer, but Tres Equis is better.

Enough about alcoholic beverages. Actually right now I'm drinking grapefruit juice.

But as for the puzzle, I liked it.

Diana,LIW 3:00 PM  

Reread @Lefty's post and you'll hear about my dnf.

The da*m DXN/ANTIVXXXER cross did me in.

The rest was a fine, fun Wednesday. Soho to NOHO fixed that area. VINROSE is popular this time of year. How do MENTOS aid in volcano representations. Everyone's favorite "science" presentation in 5th grade, right?

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

rondo 3:01 PM  

Hand up for Stomp where I should SAYNO, AND that wrong M made my still a very wrong “calm”, not EVEN close. Inkfest ensued until correct.

Saw REDDFOXX in Vegas in 1987. Hilarious but definitely XRAY-ted.

I have a long story involving a lady ex-Marine that all starts with a bottle of DOS EQUIS. Thought I might DIEHARD. You’ll have to imagine how it ENDS.

I’ll stretch for a yeah baby with Cynthia NIXON and whatever she did in the city.

Decent WEDS-puz. Time for me to EXIT.

spacecraft 1:38 AM  

A curse is a HEX, no? POX really threw me. One might call one forth DURING a curse: "A POX on both your houses!" so I guess, in a sense the POX could BE the curse, but...well, the clue certainly misled ME. I can't believe that EVERYBODY didn't put in HEX at first off that clue. There were other trouble spots, making this medium-challenging for me. WOEs ANTIVAXXER, MADERA, AMARNA, NOHO and AGGRO didn't help. Also SLAMS as poetry competitions. The term seems strangely violent for a bunch of poets. I envision someone finishing his recitation, then the next guy comes up and snarls his retort, ending with a couplet:

"Take THAT,
You dirty rat!"

Then proceeds to a neutral corner.

Anyway, I knew the DAN rankings. They are also used in the ancient game of go, in which amateur or student rankings begin at a high "kyu" number and descend to 1-kyu; if the 1-kyu passes a test he is awarded professional status and becomes 1-DAN, seeking to improve to the top world ranking of 10-DAN, or "judan." It is a hard game--not to learn (there are only 7 rules!) but to master. I never got higher than 6-kyu.

I like how the GONDOLAS pole their way right down through the center of the grid, as if it was the Grand Canal. No named DODs today; perhaps any of the many images that might be expected to appear on a NSFW site. This was "the most interesting puzzle in the world." Not. Par.

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