Dagwood's bratty neighbor / WED 11-15-17 / familiar voice since 2011 / Mushroom used in sukiyaki / Learjet competitor

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Constructor: Steven A. Atwood

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: BRITISHISMS (11D: Words found in the answers to this puzzle's starred clues) — familiar phrases are reimagined (via "?" clues) as phrases related to specifically British terms:

Theme answers:
  • FLAT RATE (17A: *Monthly charge for a London apartment?)
  • POKER CHIPS (26A: *French fries on a London card table?)
  • MACBOOK (40A: *Catalog from a London raincoat designer?)
  • BOBBY SOCKS (51A: *Part of a London police officer's uniform?)
  • SHOPLIFT (62A: *Conveyance in a multilevel London store?) 
Word of the Day: PYRITE (48D: Fool's gold) —
The mineral pyrite, or iron pyrite, also known as fool's gold, is an iron sulfide with the chemical formula FeS2. Pyrite is considered the most common of the sulfide minerals. // Pyrite's metallic luster and pale brass-yellow hue give it a superficial resemblance to gold, hence the well-known nickname of fool's gold. The color has also led to the nicknames brass, brazzle, and Brazil, primarily used to refer to pyrite found in coal. (wikipedia)
• • •

Today is a day when I really wish the NYT crossword puzzles had titles. I have no idea why Sunday gets one, but none of the other days do. Actually, I can guess why—it likely has something to do with the amount of space the paper is willing to devote to the daily puzzle. But a title does not take up much space, and it would benefit the puzzle tremendously. One, if done right, a title is a great opportunity for clever, suggestive wordplay. Further (and this is where today's puzzle comes in), a title would eliminate the need for dull, descriptive revealers like the one we get today. I can *see* that the words involved in these themers are all BRITISH—you've got "London" in every clue, for ****'s sake. Plunking the unwitty and grid-warping BRITISHISMS down there does nothing but gum up the works. Look at this lopsided grid. You can see how those NW / SE corners are all wee, and cut off from the rest of the grid, whereas their counterparts in the NE / SW are these much larger, unwieldy things (you can see that the constructor struggled with filling them cleanly—hence the black squares in the corners).  If you ditched the revealer, you could build a nicer, cleaner grid, and still have a couple of jazzy longer Downs, one of which is not just a dull signpost.

The fill on this one is reasonably solid, though things get a bit rough in the south with COSEC, EPOS, TOATEE, and ELMO (esp. as clued—an obscure "Blondie" clue? In 2017?) (67A: Dagwood's bratty neighbor). That was the only area of the puzzle where I got much resistance—starting at PYRITE (the name of which I just forgot) and headed through the SOCKS part of BOBBY SOCKS (I am more familiar with the term "bobby-soxer"—as in the Cary Grant film, "The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer" (1947)—so the full spelling of SOCKS was oddly, if only briefly, confusing) and then down to ELMO (which was a huge "?"). Oh, and that area also contains KAHLO (54D: Frida who was portrayed in film by Salma Hayek), who is famous enough, but whose name I still struggle to spell correctly (got it right today, but am somehow always willing to entertain KHALO). So, my main takeaway today is: I wish there were titles. But like my wish that constructors were paid anywhere near their actual worth, I expect this wish to go unheeded for the foreseeable future.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

P.S. about that COPS clue (70A: Beat people?) ... yeesh.

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Seriously, I'm not a doofus 12:04 AM  

BRITISHISMS unnecessary?! Hogwash I say, hogwash. I grew up in London KY and as I was solving I thought dang boy, no one here every said anything like FLATRATE for your apartment rent. It's a damned good thing that BRITISHISMS was there, otherwise I never would have understood the puzzle.

mathgent 12:38 AM  

Rex calls BRITISHISMS "grid-warping." That must be constructor-speak. I think that it is a fine entry.

I enjoyed the puzzle quite a lot. It was lively and had some crunch.

Maxine Nerdström 12:47 AM  

oh my lord that 70A made me actually gasp. i actually deleted that thinking, "there's no way" and then had to reenter it. tone deaf at the absolute best.

George NYC 1:12 AM  

What Rex was saying is that the reveal could have been handled in a title rather than the long down, freeing things up.

chefwen 1:36 AM  

I rather liked it, but I spent five years in Scotland when I was a wee bairn, so it fell quickly. I had the most trouble in the SE corner, had the LIFT in place, but being a mathematical idiot I wasn’t sure of COSEC, didn’t know KAHLO, had all the letters except the H and EPOS sounded like we’ve had that one before, more than a few times so I finally slapped that in and SHOP suddenly sprang into view. DOH!

I don’t think I’ll ever spell CESSNA correctly on my first try, I always want an extra A in there, somewhere.

I vote for a Rebus tomorrow, don’t let me (us) down.

Larry Gilstrap 1:43 AM  

Themers contain some of the most common BRITISHISMS I've heard. Certainly nothing obscure or nuanced, and the compound nouns are very much in the language, this American one. Momentary balk at the ISM/MACBOOK cross. I guess the banker should wear a MAC in the pouring rain as not to be strange. Wednesday enough for me.

Left Coast guy here, so for my sign of spring a quick review of the Zodiac offered nothing with four letters. Over thinking results in misdirection, intentional or not.

Anybody else throw in an incorrect name that also means king? ROY Rogers was billed as the King of the Cowboys, now that I think about it. I'm certain Dale was older than half his age plus seven.

My brother had a career as a law enforcement officer, so I am sensitive to those in that profession. I'm a bit surprised at the reaction to COPS in the comments, thus far. The COP on the beat was a phrase commonly heard back when that was a form of patrol. Wasn't there a TV program with that title? I don't use the term myself. Maybe, the offensiveness of the term depends on who is using it and in what situation. Remember a while back the puzzle contained popo? Now, that is godawful.

Maxine Nerdström 1:49 AM  

the phrase "beat cop" or "cop walking a beat" isn't offensive. cluing COPS with a cutesy ? that, however inadvertently, reminds readers that some cops physically beat the people they are sworn to protect... i have an issue with that. there are so, so many ways to clue that word without crossing into that territory.

jae 2:56 AM  

BRITISH ISM S - ISM - Uhhh - Nope?

Loren Muse Smith 3:52 AM  

REX – (yeah, @Larry – I went there first.) Now there’s a write-up. I agree about having a title. I’ve ditched several ideas because a reveal just didn’t fit. A title would’ve saved the day.

I’m with @mathgent – good themers with lively clues. I especially liked BOBBY SOCKS. Boy. I remember back in the ‘70s when we went from knee-socks to bobby socks. This heavy-hitter popular high school cheerleader wore bobby socks to a church youth group meeting, and I was gobsmacked at how edgy they looked, how chic. I was desperate to be her.

A bit surprising that BRITISHISMS symmetrical partner wasn’t a themer. “Jumper cable” has the same number of letters, but “jumper” isn’t really widely known.

TOATEE is definitely a dook.

Liked STRIP crossing ATTIRE. Hmm. If this dance occurs in the HEAD, you’d be using the LOO POLE.

Katapult 5:21 AM  

I'm solipsistic enough to think this puzzle was written for my personal enjoyment, for the simple reason I've lived in London (England, not Kentucky) for the past seven years. We were duly amused. Most of the "Britishisms" are fair enough, although I don't think I've ever (as in once) heard anyone call a policeman a "bobby." They're "COPS," or "coppers" for a more local spin. I'm surprised about the reaction to "beat people" too: my only thought, like others' apparently, was that this referred to cops walking a beat. It was one of the last answers to fall, since I didn't know EPOS or ELMO and had CoSin for COSEC. High school trig was a long time ago.

The funniest "Britishism" is presumably too little known, and earthy perhaps, for this list of cute things people say this side of the Atlantic. It has been burned forever in my brain since the day a colleague asked me, quite to my surprise, for a rubber. "Why Ben," I said. "I had no idea you felt this way. But I'm a married woman." Imagine my chagrin when I learned what he wanted was an eraser. So if someday you're sitting in a cafe in Britain, and a stranger makes an unexpected, suggestive request, confirm that she or he isn't hoping to erase an error in the daily puzzle before you reply.

Thomaso808 5:27 AM  

I was done in by 53D, 54D, and 59D COSEC, KAHLO, EPOS. I just did not see SHOPLIFT crossing them. I’m still not sure what EPOS are, even after googling. I used to know what a COSECant was, many, many years ago, but that knowledge is long gone. KAHLO I have never heard of. A Mexican painter who mostly did self-portraits?

I might have got it if ELMO had been clued with the Sesame Street character, but I was clueless on the Dagwood reference.

Anonymous 6:08 AM  

I like to sit around all day and look for people who agree with me on Reddit.

Lewis 6:19 AM  

@lms -- ... and maybe continuing it all on the SHAG carpet...

This is a clever theme idea that I don't remember ever being done before. After all these decades of themed puzzles, to come up with a brand new one is quite a feat -- many plaudits to Steven. I liked the perfectly-placed END, and learned EPOS. For "Crush, in a way, with 'on'", I had the S and started with "sweet". I love the word RATCHET, one, for the sound of it, and two, because it reminds me of one of the most frightening characters of all time, so beautifully and creepily depicted by Ken Kesey.

Two Ponies 6:21 AM  

We have our Star Wars clue of the day.

For some reason lacing up for basketball gave me a mental image of a team dressed in lingerie.

If we are going to focus on law enforcement how about Bobby crossing On The Take?
@ Maxine 1:49, You get to be the snowflake du jour. As Andrea used to say as her mantra Q-TIP (Quit Taking It Personally).

Thanks @ Larry Gilstrap for the Penny Lane ear worm!

Johnny Appleseed is buried in my hometown of Ft. Wayne, In. People there like to brag about their apple trees that they claim were planted by him.

puzzlehoarder 6:34 AM  

I got 11D just off the BRI, however I was laboring under the misconception that the theme answers would be just straight up slang. The word play was confusing until after solving when I actually took the time to give it some thought.

That south central section was a little tricky. I had a KHALO/KAHLO write over for starters. That was easily fixed. The real issue was my continuing lack of familiarity with EPOS. That combined with the obscure ELMO reference had me questioning what I'd put in. I wasn't getting the congrats with ELMO or ALMA. The lightbulb went off and I looked elsewhere and found that when changing REX to ROY (hi @lms) I'd accidentally put in ROH. I put in the Y and all was well.

A harmless Wednesday after all.

QuasiMojo 7:23 AM  

Having no knowledge of the Harry Potter stuff, I had EWE instead of OWL for a while until the other EWE popped up. Ewwww.

Another fun Britishism is "knock up" for wake up.

Rex is spot on about titles. The WSJ uses them and I find them helpful.

Bess Truman, Deborah Harry, Annie Lennox, Frida Kahlo and Siri. That would make an interesting dinner party.

kitshef 7:28 AM  

This should have run yesterday. Nice to have our Star Wars clues reappear.

Does anyone say DEBORAH? Isn’t it always Debbie?

I have had the great privilege on an Earthwatch trip in Mexico to feel the fur of a live (sedated) ocelot. It certainly made me understand why they were hunted for their fur [which, note I find shameful]. The softest thing I've ever felt.

Anonymous 7:30 AM  

Well, they're Britishisms but also double entendres, right?

Unknown 7:36 AM  

37D struck me as a bit tone deaf as well

Anonymous 7:39 AM  

Dave Hogg - Major League Snowflake.

kitshef 7:41 AM  

@Larry Gilstrap – possibly there is some inside joke I’m missing, but Roy and Dale were the same age.

chefbea 7:43 AM  

What a fun puzzle!!! I too wanted OFL to be at 1across!!!

Passing Shot 7:44 AM  

@kitshef 7:28 — according to this wikipedia page https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deborah_Harry_discography
“Until 1988, Harry used her nickname "Debbie" on all releases but she is now known professionally as Deborah Harry.”

Pete 7:53 AM  

I fiend the notion that space is too valuable in the NYTimes print version to waste it on a title for the puzzle laughable. They can't give advertising away, they've fired 99% of their writers, they've got to be begging for usable copy. Given the subscriber demographics of the dead-tree version, I'm surprised they haven't dedicated a full page to the puzzle in extra large print. I know I'd appreciate it, and it wouldn't bump any quality copy or paying customer.

Rhino 8:01 AM  


G. Weissman 8:21 AM  

How is SEIS a legitimate answer in an English-language crossword puzzle? SEIS is not a word, like ILE, that has migrated into English in any way. Seems like a crutch for desperate constructors: hey, maybe there’s a foreign word for a number between one and ten that will fit here. Lame. And enabled here by the immortal ACTII (see also: ACTIII). Not good.

pabloinnh 8:25 AM  

I could not kerb my enthusiasm for this puzzle but now am tyred out.

RooMonster 8:28 AM  

Hey All !
What in tarnation is up with the non-themed symmetrical 25D? Isn't that a SIN?

Did like the theme as presented. Those crazy Brits with their words. Did Americans talk like that at first? And if so, how did American English get the words we use now, as opposed to British English? Inquiring minds...

Could've moved the three black square strip after 3D over one spot to open up the corners a tad more. Or stuck some odd letters in them, like a J or Z.

Sounds like I'm complaining, but overall the puz gets a pass (well, maybe not ISM along with the Revealer). Think it would've been better as a TuesPuz. Cool to see a different Directional clue for NNW, instead of '180° from SSE'.

Managed to sneak in one U for @M&A.


Anonymous 8:31 AM  

If the shoe fits.....

pmdm 8:37 AM  

I would think the reason the daily puzzles have no titles is because the daily puzzles do not consistently include a theme. The Friday and Saturday puzzles usually do not include theme entries (and when they do, Mr. Sharp and others usually complain). Titles would only be appropriate for the first four weekday puzzles. It would seem odd to have titles on four weekdays and none on two.

Some days part of the puzzle includes the task of figuring out the theme, although the theme is usually obvious. So including a theme would spoil the fun on those days. There are days, though, when solving a reveler entry gives you a nice AHA moment. So I would opt for including a title when appropriate but not when there are compelling reasons to not publish a title (as when there is a reveler entry or when the constructor wants the theme to be a puzzle in itself (for example, if the theme includes a rebus). Since there is no requirement for a reveler clue, the constructor and the editor can decide the best way to go. It would not bother me to have puzzle titles on some days but not on other days.

Of course, the real advantage of publishing a puzzle title is that there would be something else to complain about.

As for today's puzzle, I enjoyed it. Visit XWordInfo for additional themed clues and entries.

Sir Hillary 8:40 AM  

For me, this one (a) was very easy, and (b) fell flat. SHOPLIFT is the only themer that made me smile.

I hear @Rex on the title vs. revealer thing, but why does this puzzle need a revealer at all? Most everyone could likely spot the BRITISHISMS, and the London-based cluing helped anyone who couldn't.

As @jae noted, BRITISHISMS and ISM in the same grid is really SLOPPY.

Sometimes it's TOATEE, sometimes it's TOAT. Annoying.

Time to dig into a bag of crisps.

Anonymous 8:59 AM  

Awfully easy Wednesday.

Nancy 9:00 AM  

Well, I learned what a RATCHET is, sort of (10D). Now someone needs to tell me what a "unidirectional wrench" is. And I had no idea that Johnny Appleseed was a NOMAD (49A). I thought he pretty much hung around in one spot -- around the apple orchard. Other than that, I found this pretty blah, though I do like the word BRITISHISMS. I'm finding the comments today, even this early on, more fun than the puzzle.

Z 9:07 AM  

I imagine the new hipster facial hair style will be a TOATEE.

“Beat people?” got the arched eyebrow “seriously?” from me, too. I worked with lots of police officers as a school administrator. The vast majority were great professionals, but there were a couple whose retirements improved public safety. With so many of the latter type making the news I would have avoided this cluing.

I agree that BRITISHISMS seems to weigh down the fill, but I disagree that this is an argument for titles. It seems to me that having “London” in every theme clue is sufficient to let the solver know what’s going on. Both the reveal and a title are the equivalent of explaining the joke. If you need to explain then your joke’s not funny. Isn’t part of the fun figuring out the theme? Isn’ it okay that sometimes the solver is stymied?
No Titles! Fewer Revealers!

TomAz 9:14 AM  

I agree with @jae. I had IST instead of ISM for a while because once I got BRITISHISMS I figured there was no way ISM would be the answer. Only when I was almost done did I realize that I didn't know what a tAC was -- or a tACBOOK for that matter. Compounding my surprise at that dupe was Rex's failure to note it in his writeup.

Otherwise this was pretty good. I enjoyed it.

anon. 9:20 AM  

So what are “epos”?

Anonymous 9:23 AM  

I really really wanted 1A to be REX.

SJ Austin 9:23 AM  

Ugh, that SE. Had no idea who KAHLO was, am under 60 and do not get Dagwood references, didn't know EPOS, and my best mathy guess was COSIN, which led me to NIKS at 70A, which… yeah. Even with SHOPLIFT and TOATEE and BOBBYSOCKS in place, I was done. On a Wednesday. Bah.

Hartley70 9:33 AM  

@Sir Hillary, bag the crisps for breakfast. Have a crumpet instead.

I thought this puzzle was charming, if a little easy for an Anglophile. I would like to see this theme again, RATCHETed up in difficulty. "Jumper cables" is an excellent suggestion by @Loren, as is "rubber" offered by @Katapult.

I must be stuck in an earlier era because I saw the clue, "Beat people?" and my mind went right to the 1950's beatniks. The question mark made walking the beat seem too obvious. The connotation objected to here, is not something I even considered for a moment.

As to weekday puzzle titles, I vote no. I like the mystery, and if the revealer gums up the construction, well then leave it out! We'll have more fun guessing the themer connections.

Nancy 9:33 AM  

I can't help thinking that this puzzle would have been a lot more fun if it had found room for @Lewis's SHAG and for @Quasi's KNOCK UP. A friend who spends half the year in London told me that people are forever asking her questions like: "Shall I come by and knock you up?" She says it can be quite...disconcerting.

Hartley70 9:38 AM  

@anon, 9:20, I assumed it was an abbreviated "expository" since "expo" is already taken. I scratched my head too and just went with it,

Nancy 9:52 AM  

Clue: English bulldog's mating history.


JC66 9:53 AM  


Think ROY Moore.

Anonymous 10:04 AM  

I don’t know anyone who has a private plane so I didn’t know Cessna.

Amie Devero 10:05 AM  

I liked the puzzle but also thought it would have been better suited to Tuesday. Especially as yesterday's was a bit tough for Tuesday. But one clue eludes my grasp. 59d. I got it through crosses, but am clueless. Help? What are epos?

Anonymous 10:17 AM  

I thought way easier than Monday this week. Very close to my Wednesday best. Only real resistance was when FLATRENT for FLATRATE needed to fix. Had REX and ROB before ROY. No probs with COSEC, PYRITE, and all the other noted trouble spots.

Anon 10:23 AM  

It's because they walk a beat, not because some COPS beat people.

Anonymous 10:35 AM  

Maybe some of you need to solve these puzzles in your safe spaces. I saw the clue for 70 across and thought "hippie" first, then musicians. When none of that worked it dawned on me that cops walk beats. But I never thought about cops beating others. And I'm a liberal. C'mon! This is a crossword puzzle not a civil rights blog.

GILL I. 10:43 AM  

Totally agree with @Rex on a title for this one. Yes, BRITISHISMS looks awkward in that little left corner.
I'm used to all the little British words the Brits use especially to annoy Americans. My sister-in-law says "brilliant" for EVERYTHING! Aren't the bangers billiant...look at the brilliant bickies in their tin....But I do lover her!
I'm sad that some people here aren't familiar with Frida KAHLO. She was considered one of the most important twentieth-century art figures from Mexico. Her life story alone, is worth reading. I suppose being married to muralist Diego Rivera (you do know him, don't you?) played a big part in her fight for women's rights. Besides, how can you forget her face? Goodbye my Friduchita.
@mathgent...from yesterday....I was commenting to my husband about the beer discussion on the blog (he's a big beer drinker) and he said to me: "But you like Dos Equis. It's Modela that you hate." Gaaah!
Anyway, I thought this was an OK puzzle that would have brought a smileto my face it if had run on Tuesday.

Bax'N'Nex 11:09 AM  

I liked this a lot. Grew up reading Blondie (so, I'm old, I know...)
so Elmo was a gimme. I knew right away that the themers were plays on British words, but Britishisms just pulled it all together.

As for "beat people" my first thought was the "beat generation" never even saw the possible meaning of actually beating people, so had to go back and see what all the fuss was about re:70 across. See it now, of course.

And, had, ugh, "rex" for 1 across. Was extremely happy when it turned out to be ROY.

I am beginning to think that #notmyfearlessleader maybe isn't a d*ck in real life, he just plays one on the internet. And he should win a (whatever is the equivalent of an Oscar) for his work, because he plays one REALLY well. I truly hope that he is not that big of an ass in real life. What a way to go through life.


p.s. to Joe D- Endor broke the string. Starting a new run tomorrow maybe...

Bax'N'Nex 11:10 AM  

Oh, and SHOPLIFT is timely if you are a UCLA fan...

Two Ponies 11:19 AM  

@ Gill I., If Frida didn't have those eyebrows she wouldn't have such an unforgettable face. She reminds me of the mean baby nemesis of Maggie on the Simpsons. The one with the uni-brow.
My new pup is named Frida but we called her that because she is such a lovely blonde and the name means Beautiful in Old Norse.

Bax'N'Nex 11:21 AM  

And Nancy...a multidirectional wrench has a mechanism that allows one to turn it both "righty-tighty" and "lefty-loosey" without taking it off the bolt, etc. that one is tightening or loosening. It's called a rachet, as the clue indicated.

Normal Norm 11:25 AM  

Yes, I'm sure those 7 ft. black guys in China were so inconspicuous that they thought they could shoplift those sunglasses and no one would notice! But they dindu nuffin!

Mohair Sam 11:28 AM  

Well that was fun. But not as much fun as @Loren's avatar of the day or @Nancy's (9:52) wonderfully hideous BRITISHISM.

@Katapult - I rented a bedsitter in Stoke Newington for 18 months about a half century ago and remember being surprised that I heard "copper" much more than BOBBY in that part of London. Apparently BOBBY has fallen into total disuse.

Odd what bugs ya. Hand up with the small group who never noticed that "Beat people?" could be seen as tone deaf, but I get it. On the other hand I'm in the apparently small group who were offended by the very mention of L. Frank Baum's name yesterday. When he owned a newspaper in South Dakota Baum wrote editorials calling for the "total extermination" of Native Americans.

jb129 11:32 AM  

I enjoyed it

Joe Bleaux 11:36 AM  

Surprised by @Rex's "medium" rating; Tuesday-easy, I thought. Also surprised by all the violent reading of "beat" cop. As noted by others, hippies and musicians came to mind (as did reporters). But when KAHLo and STOMp revealed COPS, my only thought was, "Oh, yeah -- cops on the beat). Offbeat (😉) clues for 12D (" ... sandblaster, say" for STRIP), and 49A (" ... Appleseed, e.g." for NOMAD). Could go all day (any day) without a Star Wars (or Harry Potter) reference, but all around this was a fun diversion by Steve Atwood. @RooMonster, not "enquiring" minds?

Anonymous 11:54 AM  

can no one explain EPOS? About 90% of the commenters have asked. Does no one know?

chefbea 12:01 PM  

Is epos the plural of epic???? I wanted epic but then it wouldn't fit with the crosses

chefbea 12:02 PM  

Definition of epos

1 :epic 1
2 :a number of poems that treat an epic theme but are not formally united

chefbea 12:02 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
chefbea 12:04 PM  

I am not allowed to delete my second definition of epos

Joseph Michael 12:07 PM  

When FERLINGHETTI AND GINSBERG wouldn't fit into 70A, I finally came up with COPS but not within the context of police brutality. Either way, it's kind of a weird way to clue it.

Otherwise this was a respectable puzzle that is entitled to a cup of tea. Or perhaps just TO A TEE.

I say, Roy -- I mean, Rex -- is often all mouth and no trousers, but today's review was spot on. I agree totally about the unnecessary and oddly placed BRITISHISMS revealer.

When British soldiers want one last drink before departing the citadel at the end of the day, they have a FORT NIGHTCAP.

kitshef 12:20 PM  

@Two Ponies 11:19 - Baby Gerald

Trombone Tom 12:34 PM  

Noticed the ISM and BRITISHISM duplication. I, too, can't resist looking for a puzzle title.

Since owning a 1950 Austin Devon sedan with its bonnet and boot, I've been very much aware of Britspeak.

I enjoyed this nice Wednesday offering from Mr. Atwood, even if it was a tad on the easy side.

Masked and Anonymous 12:35 PM  

yep and yep.

yep1: Openin NW corner de-finitely needs to be somethin like this:


1-A **must** be REX.
Clue for XIA (new 3-D) coulda been a real contender then, such as: {First Chinese dynasty (yo, @1-Across!)}.


Like @RP, I generally do prefer titles on my crosswords. "Crossword" *is* technically a title, I reckon … but not very original.
This particular puz didn't need either a better title or the BRITISHISMS esplainer, IM&AO.

----- tropic of yeps line -------

staff weeject pick: FUN. Becuz it was real FUN to finally get that one single U of the entire puz, near the bottom right. Sorta like an "ahar, old chap!" moment. Nice last minute save, Mr. Atwood.

Serious primo NW & SE weeject stacks … 5 weejects total in each of them corners. Lil darlins.

Have I ever met up with EPOS before? Best answer: "I don't recall." [repeat 40-50 times or so, to taste]
Desperate shout-out to ONTHE. It was downright STIRIN to m&e.
fave long-balls: SLOPPY LOWCARBDIET. OCELOT STOMP. RATCHET. deboRAH HARry [reverse double triple, sorta!].

Thanx, Mr. Atwood. Jolly good theme idea.

Masked & Anonymo1U


Trombone Tom 12:38 PM  

Have we become too hypersensitive to hear or see COPS or ALIAS?

Carola 12:44 PM  

I enjoyed this puzzle, which invited me on a trip down memory lane revisiting my 1970s sojourn a London FLAT and various opportunities to savor fish and CHIPS blazing hot right out of the fryer. At that time I also tried my hand - or wits - at the cryptic-style crosswords in the London Times, which, no matter how hard I knocked my head against them, proved impenetrable. Coincidentally, the one entry I happen to remember had a clue involving a constable's work amd something to do with music; the answer was "Beat time." So COPS on their beat came right to me - I never thought of other connotations.

@Rex, I love the Lorry Driver cover.

Travis White 12:46 PM  

I think they mean that cops walk a beat as opposed to cops beat people. They’re on the beat.

Charley 12:51 PM  

Epo, which spellcheck corrects, is an all-time low.

anon. 1:01 PM  

So what are epos?

QuasiMojo 1:07 PM  

Thanks @Nancy.

I'm not sure I understand @LMS's comment about "jumper cables." Isn't that the American expression? That's what we always call them. I thought they were "jump leads" in Britain.

Maybe . . . 1:09 PM  

I suspect 70A (Beat people?) was supposed to mislead to CATS, which is what I initially wrote in. Not sure it needed a "?", but either way does not gramatically suggest beaters or people beating.

Anonymous 1:11 PM  

@QuasiMojo, in Britain, a jumper is what Americans know as a "sweater."

Bill 1:14 PM  

Actually TWO Blondie clues today - one obscure, one not so.

jberg 1:24 PM  

Yesterday I got an email from the Times saying that my paper was delayed due to production problems, and would be delivered today. Sure enough, this morning I got Tuesdays and Wednesdays both. I solved them in order, but am reading the bloc backwards. The one disadvantage of solving in the paper is that it doesn't work if you can't get the paper.

If BOBBY SOCKS, is he one of the beat COPS?

Also, what do you call a wrench that can be used to fix genuine crosswords?


Seriously, though, if these are BRITISHISMS (rather than Englishisms, say), why are almost all of them clued with London, rather than Edinburgh or Cardiff? Or Manchester, for that matter? That bugged me a little.

On the other hand, it was a pleasure to see TOATEE spelled out fully.

I assume that 46A referrred to this guy, right?

Unknown 1:27 PM  

Travis, thanks for being the sane voice in the room.

Teedmn 1:28 PM  

My biggest hold-up here was the time spent drawing a compass in my head so I could decide what was 90 degrees from ENE. I ended up having to fill it in via crosses - I have a good sense of direction - just don't ask me to label it.

I saw an exhibit of Frida Kahlo's work some years ago at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis. Although I knew her name and some of her backstory, I wasn't well acquainted with her paintings before I went. Yes, most of them were self-referential, but they were amazing.

EPOS not a thing for me either - I spent some time checking the crosses on that one in order to avoid a DNF but they all checked out.

Thanks, Steven E Atwood, for the Wednesday Brit-speak.

QuasiMojo 1:38 PM  

@Anonymous, 1:11pm. Oho! thanks! I see now. That Loren really is a "knit wit."

Anonymous 1:40 PM  

Still looking for a constructor to us LOLITA EXPRESS in a puzzle.

Dick Swart 2:32 PM  

Hardest Wed in memory for me! I knew the Britishisms so they were no problem and kind of fun.

My hangup was the Kahlow/Cosec/Stump crossing and mostly because of spelling the name of the famous artist. And I had just seen 'Majito Fridita' presented by the Milagro Latino Cultural Center of Portland OR.


Cuppa got cold, chocolate croissant lost crispmess.

While 'cop on the beat' is very familiar and a good fill for a constructor, I agree that the editor should have given this a ticket for Tone-Deaf-While-Driving.

Joe Dipinto 2:46 PM  

@David S -- ENDOR was also the last SW-clued answer, on November 8th, before the reprieve started.

Anoa Bob 2:49 PM  

RATCHET shows up more often that you would expect, given that grid-unfriendly appearing TCH in the middle. The venerable RATCHET, often paired with its partner "pawl", lets a wheel turn freely in one direction but not the other. It/they are found in many, simple mechanical devices, such as bicycle rear wheels.

I'm a life-long gear head and have never heard the term "unidirectional wrench" used in the 10D clue for RATCHET. When I googled it, the first hit was www.crosswordpuzzleanswers. I would call it a RATCHETing wrench. There's also a socket wrench, which is what I believe @David Schinnerer is thinking about.

The device goes back to antiquity where it was used, for example, to aid in drawing water from a well. If you've got three minutes to spare, here's a youtube animation of its action.

Hungry Mother 3:11 PM  

Theme entries easy for me, but all of the proper names caused me a fit. I wish we could add a trivia puzzle to the mini and the main one. That would be a puzzle that I would never do, but it would make me like the main puzzle better. Wordplay please!

Cassieopia 4:23 PM  

Wanted COtan for 53D and nikS for 70A - you know, Beatniks? I too thought only of cops walking a beat. We don't say that anymore? But I'm not going to argue - if others found it tone-deaf I'll err on the side of respecting that opinion, as I have a number of family and friends who were and are military and civilian police officers. Uncommonly fine people, every last one of them, and people who genuinely care about serving and protecting.

OISK 4:38 PM  

Kahlo and Epos in the same area were trouble; I vaguely DID recall a character named Elmo, which saved me a DNF. That aside, very nice puzzle, and I enjoyed the review of British English. I was asked once, in a London hotel, when I would like to be knocked up - being male, I knew it couldn't mean what I thought it meant. I suspect that some people on the hotel staff use that expression with Americans just to see their reaction.

Didn't comment Tuesday, but I found that one pretty easy - surprised it was rated "Challenging."

Anonymous 5:21 PM  

No one told the store detectives in China that UCLA administrators would reimburse the store as they do in L.A. Don’t blame the kids that’s part of the deal.

Maxine Nerdström 5:24 PM  

i get the clue. it needlessly suggests violence and that's unfortunate. the constructor noted on xwordinfo that the editor wrote that clue. there are SO many other ways to clue "COPS." it's a shitty clue.

i'll try not to be too incapacited by people on a crossword blog implying i am insane or calling me a snowflake. somehow... i will find a way to carry on...!

GILL I. 5:43 PM  

@Two Ponies...I know, right? Evidently she was quite proud of her uni-brow, as well as her mustache. I read somewhere where a uni-brow was considered quite the beauty mark in ancient whatever.
I once saw a picture of Madonna's daughter....looks just like her - mustache and all...
I know...hate mail will ensue!

Anonymous 6:39 PM  

Hey Maxine, don't get too frustrated too fast. Think of all the sexism and low brow tolerance in these comments that have yet to be addressed.

Unknown 7:29 PM  

I once had an English roommate while living in a Scottish dorm. We went around the room naming things. When I held up my shoe, she said "plimsole" and I replied "sneaker," which sent us both into fits.

But what is EPOS (59D some narrative writing)?

Rob 7:51 PM  

The deficiencies in the fill have been covered, but I also thought the themers were just... bland. They're fine, there's nothing outright wrong with them, but there's no wit or sparkle to them at all.

nick strauss 8:26 PM  

EPOS? Liked the ninety degree clue. Got the beat.

TachyJacky 11:19 PM  

I kinda like Rex... don’t know if I’m supposed to or not..

thefogman 9:44 AM  

I finished this one with ease. I don't know why Rex got his knickers in a knot over this puzzle. It was a fun solve, just a bit on the easy side for a Wednesday, but proper in most every other way.

Joe in Newfoundland 9:55 AM  

Syndicationland chiming in here. Blondie might be an old strip, but it is still run in lots of newspapers, so probably better known than ETHEL by younger puzzlers. Cheers.

Burma Shave 10:39 AM  


her ATTIRE WENDT ON THE block, it MAKES for FUN as she STRIPs.


spacecraft 11:21 AM  

STILL stuck on Sunday (grrr!)--but got here, which was a tougher job than today's puzzle. It at least should have been switched with yesterday's. I was over there for three years, so felt like I had a leg up. I'm surprised at the medium PFL rating. Other than filling in COSEC on crosses, I had no trouble.

I'm also surprised that I had to scroll all the way down to @Sir Hillary's post to find an objection to the ISM repeat. Usually that's a big red flag for OFL, but he didn't even mention it. I had the single ISM already in, and left the bottom part of 11-down blank because it "couldn't" be ...ISMS. Well, yes it could. That's a major bad.

More than surprised, I was aghast at so many taking offense (here we go again) at COPS. Come ON, people, you must be actively LOOKING for ways to be offended. What is this, some kind of disease? And BTW, whose fault IS it that the word "beat" can be taken out of context? Power corrupts, etc.

17-across recalls a funny moment from "The Sting:"

[Kid Twist is arranging rent for the "store" where they'll make the sting]

KID TWIST: "Now how do you wanna work this, FLATRATE or percentage?"
LANDLORD (deadpan): "Who's the mark?"
KID TWIST: "Doyle Lonegan."
LANDLORD (even deader pan): "FLATRATE."

Gotta love it. I forgive the other long down's absence from the theme, because I myself--wife too--am (are) on a LOWCARBDIET. Me, -65 lbs; she, -45. And we feel great. Not Atkins, but wheat-free. DOD is DEBORAH--and yes, I've seen this name both ways--Harry: Rapture!

With no more than the usual fill flotsam and the strange non-X BOBBYSOCKS, I'm inclined to look favorably on this one. Birdie.

rondo 12:12 PM  

I held off on the last letter wondering if it was an M or a T after IS_. Especially with BRITISHISMS in there. Huh. SLOPPY. Never once thought about the word *beat* in the COPS clue in the brutality sense; why must folks seek out such stuff? MAKES me feel microagressed by those folks.

I once detoured a twin engine CESSNA around a tornado. NOTSO much FUN for me, but my former Air Force instructor was NOTSO concerned.

Anyone remember BSA motorcycles? Maybe not this crowd, but I’ve ridden one.

Have seen a lot of Frida KAHLO’s work (in combo with Diego Rivera). And even a unibrow can’t make Ms. Hayek look bad.

I will give a nod to the other musical yeah baby, ANNIE Lennox.

Interesting puz, even FUN.

rainforest 1:35 PM  

Good puzzle in the medium range.

I kinda liked that ELMO wasn't clued as the Sesame Street puppet. Remembered the Blondie ELMO right off.

Seems there are three candidates for DOD/yeah baby status: ANNIE Lennox, DEBORAH Harry, Selma Hayak. Saw the movie Frida, but haven't seen any KAHLOs in person.

I'm with @Rondo and @Spacey re COPS, and also ALIAS. Some people just look for reasons to be outraged. Makes them happy, I guess.

As someone mentioned, the English language came from Britain/England, so how come these expressions didn't make the trip? Well actually, here in Vancouver we do say CHIPS as well as French fries.

I thought the tight NW and SE corners were handled rather well, say what?

leftcoastTAM 2:59 PM  

BRITISHISMS is a pretty useless revealer, but okay for a pretty easy Wednesday, IMO.

Haven't thought of Johnny Appleseed as a NOMAD, but I guess he qualifies. Wanted sower first.

Doctors may not like their penmanship to be called SLOPPY; "scrawl" seems a more apt and less offensive word. After all, doctors have feelings, too (wink).

The END.

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