Dance-based fitness program / TUE 1-16-18 / Weightless state informally / Chichi chihuahua accessory / Yankees great dubbed Old Perfessor / neighborhood where kimchi might be found informally

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Constructor: David Steinberg

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: FOUR-LETTER WORDS (39A: Curses ... or what 18-, 20-, 26-, 48-, 57- and 63-Across are, literally — answers in question are formed from a total of four letters ... at least I think that's it. I hope that's it. It's very early in the morning ...

Theme answers:
  • SASSAFRAS (18A: Its root was once used in root beer) (SASF)
  • SENESCENCE (20A: Process of aging) (SENC)
  • LOLLIPOP (26A: What always deserves a good licking?) (LOIP)
  • NONSENSE (48A: Poppycock) (NOSE)
  • TATTLETALE (57A: Snitch) (TALE)
  • RECHERCHE (63A: Exotic) (RECH)
Word of the Day: ZUMBA (68A: Dance-based fitness program) —
  1. an aerobic fitness program featuring movements inspired by various styles of Latin American dance and performed primarily to Latin American dance music. (google)
• • •

This grid is a lovely bit of fun, but I confess I don't really get the theme. I mean, I *get* it (I think), but aren't ... a lot of words FOUR-LETTER WORDS, in the sense that they are made up of a total of four different letters of the alphabet? Yes, SASSAFRAS uses only SAFR, but, for instance, SENSEI uses only SENI, and ... so? I guess I just don't know how special these kinds of four-letter words are. Obviously the longer the word gets, the more unusual the four-letterness, but that still doesn't feel special enough to build a theme around. I like the idea of playing around with the meaning of FOUR-LETTER WORDS, but this particular play feels flimsy. But as I say, taken as a themeless, just for the pleasure of the words in the grid alone, I enjoyed this once. It bounced, and (for a Tuesday in particular) was very, very clean (with only OTTOI mucking things up—adding that guy to my Retire Your Fill! (RYF) list).

The bounciness was also the only thing challenging about the puzzle. It took a little thinking to parse stuff like K-TOWN (short for Koreatown) (17A: Neighborhood where kimchi might be found, informally) and BAD PR (6A: What a divorce may generate for a celeb) and "OH, WELL" (4D: "That's a bummer"). Easier for me to get something like PESETA than EHOW, which I had as ETSY at first (ETSY involves people selling things they make themselves, EHOW involves showing people how to do things themselves). ZUMBA makes me think how little I've seen TAEBO in puzzles lately, which puzzles deserve commendation for. I hereby grant you a five-year license to use ZUMBA; we'll check back in in 2023 to see if ZUMBA still warrants it (68A: Dance-based fitness program). The toughest answer for me to get was PITON, because they have spikes so I always think there's a "K" in there, and then I think the answer's more literal, like GRIP ON, and ... I don't know, it's not a word I encounter anywhere but crosswords, and no other word looks like it (nothing very common fits -ITON, or P-TON, or PI-ON, or PIT-N, or PITO- ... it's weird), so I just have trouble slotting it in my brain properly.

  • 14A: Pharmaceutical giant that makes Valium (ROCHE) — can't keep my pharmaceutical giants straight, and totally forgot this one today. LILLY, PFIZER, MERCK ... where were you when I needed you!?
  • 49D: Slimeball (SLEAZE) — wrote in SLEAZO because I really thought the NYT had tried in the past to convince me that was a term, but then I realized I was thinking of CREEPO
  • 64D: Org. concerned with soil and water (EPA) — LOL not anymore. This clue is at least a year old.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

P.S. I didn't understand the theme until I was done; while I was solving, I thought it had something to do with "stuff you say instead of swearing," like SASSAFRAS! and NONSENSE! (you know, instead of "bullshit!")

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Jamie C 6:24 AM  

RECHERCHE is a bit Recherché for a Tuesday, is it not? Great word.

Lewis 6:24 AM  

The puzzle's theme is brilliant, IMO, as in "Why hasn't anyone thought of this before?" And the puzzle itself was perfect for Tuesday -- Easyish, but you still have to think. There is also a mini-theme of double E's (6).

The crossing of OH WELL with SENESCENCE, with that IRATE moving farther away pretty well represents my current outlook on my piling up of years...

Loren Muse Smith 6:36 AM  


Fun, terrific play on FOUR LETTER WORDS. Hah! My only question would be how long does the word have to be for this to be cool? LOLLIPOP is an 8. Ok. But like Rex said, SENSEI , a 7, could be a themer, too. So is 8 letters the cut-off?

On NASAL (linguistics treatise to skip if you're not interested)...For me, that A in IPA will always be “alphabet.” And speaking of the International Phonetic Alphabet, English has a third NASAL, the velar nasal /ŋ/ - the sound you make at the end of the word king, which has neither an “n” sound nor a “g” sound. (I'll pause here while many of you say king and decide you do indeed have a "g" sound at the end. Sigh. You don't.) Nasals of the world are 99.999% voiced, meaning you have to use your vocal cords to make the sound. Put your hand on your throat and make the “”m” sound. Feel that vibration? Well. Get this. Burmese has voiceless nasals (so you don’t use the vocal cords). So now put your hand on your throat and try that “m” sound without your vocal cords. See what I mean? How do you make an “m” sound without engaging the vocal cords? I just can’t get my mind around producing this in a word. (I mean, I hear my husband do this every morning during his ritualistic nose-clearing-out right before he brushes his teeth. It’s quite an evolved process that requires several carefully-fashioned spears of Kleenex.) I dunno. The idea of producing a voiceless nasal for me is fraught with the fear of some kind of career-ending projectile missile.

Wanted “oaf” for 29D.

@Dick Sward from yesterday – Like @Z said, words do not mean whatever *I* want them to mean. They just mean what they evolve into meaning. But you raise an excellent question: if the majority of people use ESKIMO to mean just someone who lives in an igloo and wears mukluks and stuff, do you use it and thumb your nose at those who would take offense? I would try not to. Can’t put on a placard that says, “You’ll excuse me for using this term because many, many people don’t mean it pejoratively, so I’m going with the majority. (And by the way I’m a hugger. Come here.)” If I know any kind of widely accepted term is insulting for groups of people, I’ll try not to use it.

@Kimberly and @mathgent – you’ve given me the courage to maybe buy a tiara.

@Bruce Haight – have you ever had a patient who really didn’t need contacts but wanted, vainly, to buy some colored lenses to enhance the color of her eyes? Did you do an inner eye-roll and think that they’d be….. wait for it….. SENSELESS LENSES? By the way, I would totally pay the money for colored toric daily disposable green lenses.

David (a four-letter word) – I'm with @Lewis; I loved this theme!

Anonymous 6:44 AM  

How does . mean left?

Phil 7:07 AM  

Cursor left on the keyboard

@LMS I have a Myanmar friend whose name is Maung Maung Gee. I'll have to listen to how his friends pronounce his name.

kitshef 7:19 AM  

Theme was a total fail for me, because there are a couple-dozen other literal 4-letter words in the grid that are not part of the theme.

Then the fill was OK but not more than that – KTOWN, AHI, OTTOI, EPEES, ISEE, OMOO, SORTA. Makes me think Mr. Steinberg should stick to late-week puzzles, where his creativity and wit are more suitable.

Must have been hard to resist cluing 23-24A with contemporaries LEO Durocher and Casey STENGEL. Remembered for Nice Guys Finish Last, Durocher’s one championship in 27 years of managing is pretty telling, especially contrasted with Stengel’s seven in 25 years.

Z 7:26 AM  

I'm with Rex, loved this as a themeless, like playing with the notion of FOUR-LETTER WORDS, but don't quite know why 8+ is the cut-off when there are lots of other FOUR-LETTER WORDS in the puzzle. Why don't ARKS and DOTE merit inclusion as theme answers. Is this some SORTA sizism working invidiously in our puzzle?

@anon6:44am - In the paper there is a LEFT arrow ICON printed. I'm guessing whatever platform you used couldn't render the ICON properly so just replaced it with a period.

@LMS - "velar nasal" sounds like something you go to the doctor to have removed. And, while I believe you, I still can't distinguish between what seems like an n-g and a /ŋ/. Well, I do notice that my cheeks are different when I say "get" from when I say "king" and I get why the "nasal" identifier is used. Anyway, I'm reminded of this Chuck Berry classic use of the velar nasal.

Two Ponies 7:32 AM  

I used to cringe when I saw David Steinberg's name but now it makes me happy. I loved this puzzle chock full of interesting words. It is an impressive feat to use recherché and senescense on a Tuesday.

Guyliner is new to me and cracked me up. Not really a portmanteau is it? Gaydar is another example but I don't know what these are called.

Thanks for the phonics lesson @LMS. I did take the time to read it.

Tetris again? Not only have I never played it but I also have no idea what pentominoes is.

More like this can break the Tuesday curse.

JJK 7:38 AM  

What the (four-letter word) is a ZIN?

Teedmn 7:38 AM  

This puzzle was the cat's EHOW. Easy but not really easy, so perfect for a Tuesday. A theme that holds together well but isn't obvious in the least. Very little NONSENSE and a chi-chi chihuahua accessory. Nice, thanks David.

GHarris 7:42 AM  

At first I thought the theme involved words that had the same letter four times. Nevertheless got it all and had fun doing so.

Kimb 7:54 AM  

@JJK - wine. Zinfandel.

Shawn 7:55 AM  

ZINfandel as in wine. (CAB is often used in wine terms for Cabernet Sauvignon).

Kimb 7:56 AM  

@JJK - because CAB is cabernet... Two things I know only because #1 Son used to work at a wine shop.

Non Name 7:57 AM  

@Two Ponies, While I never cringed at a Steinberg puzzle, I used think, "pop culture stuff I don't know but am glad to learn." What came to my mind as I finished this one was "next gen Patrick Berry." And by that I mean the way the solving experienced rolled out.

The words were beautiful - senescence, lollipop, sassafras, recherche, and tattletale - and so much fun to work through in a Tuesday puzzle.

David, dude, fill in your own generation's word for almighty here.

Small Town Blogger 7:57 AM  

Short for Zinfandel like CAB is short for Cabernet.

Birchbark 8:00 AM  

I'm a COPSE fan. I first encountered it in youth reading Richard Adams' great Odyssey-for-hares, "Watership Down." And thereafter, usually in mysteries and never to my recollection in real life.

Interesting, ambient things happen in "a nearby copse." A place of temporary refuge, where flashlight beams never quite hit their target. "What was that?" -- "Just an owl, nothing to worry about." Turns out there's an extra pair of eyes hiding there too, and they belong to an ALIEN. You can thank a copse for that, the next time you see one.

Anonymous 8:11 AM  


chefbea 8:18 AM  

Fun easy puzzle....Have taken many a Zumba class!!!

Geometricus 8:22 AM  

Tetris would be based on tetrominos, (quadridominos?) if that were a thing. Pentominos are puzzle pieces made from 5 adjoining squares (in all 12 possible combinations) which you then are challenged to combine to fill different shapes of grid or design, sort of like Tangrams. But Tetris shapes are made of four squares, not five. The word Tetris is related to the number 4.

Polyominos are generalized dominos (made of two squares). Math nerds like me try to figure out how many of each type are possible.

There are only 5 possible tetrominos, but the L and Z shapes have mirror image shapes in Tetris, bringing the total to 7 different pieces when you count the Right- and Left-handed L and Z.

Hungry Mother 8:27 AM  

When I think of COPSE, I remember my encounter with a pack of wild dogs on a golf course I was running in Botswana. I wanted to get those trees between me and the dogs. I had Oomu instead of OMOO for a while. I must have been thinking about my Oofos, which I wear whenever I’m not in running shoes.

GILL I. 8:28 AM  

I don't like what you said yesterday, so please get off this blog.

John Child 8:35 AM  

Fun theme and pretty challenging for me with unknown words like EHOW and ZUMBA and unusual words I did know like KTOWN and BAD PR. I think the mild critique about other “four letter words” in the grid is fair, but there was no ambiguity about which answers were theme words, so no foul.

The challenging parts were offset with a lot of commonly seen fill, so though I ended up a minute or so north of my normal Tuesday time, it was still Tuesdayish. Thanks for a fun one!

Good ol' Joe 8:42 AM  

Liked the puzzle, didn’t like the clue for SWEATER (“chichi chihuahua accessory”) which seems too specific for the answer. It’s like cluing DIRT As “Something found on an old Buick”. I mean it’s true but...

While I’m on clues, “That’s a bummer” is not a clue for OHWELL. You say OH WELL to console someone *after* you say That’s a Bummer. On the other hand I guess it opens up a whole new clue category: something-you-say-right-before-the-answer. “Merry Christmas” : SHITTERS FULL. There might be a theme in there somewhere.

QuasiMojo 8:58 AM  

This was definitely in my WHEEL house, (and not that other kind of house!) although I never was brave enough to ride a unicycle. My brother did, often, even to school, and it always seemed he should have been juggling while he did.

Am I the only one who thought the FOUR LETTERS were in the word? Such as the four letter S's (I think we are allowed to use an apostrophe there) in SASSAFRAS and the four E's in SENESCENCE (my current state of being, alas.) I just assumed LOLLIPOP had four L's, then started to EAT my HAT (which I had as CAP first) when I got to RECHERCHE and couldn't find the extra R or E. So my enthusiasm for this puzzle went downhill from there, but not too far down from the APEX (I mean ACME!) to ruin the experience or my admiration for young Mr. Steinberg.

Considering the theme, there was a delightful lack of dreck in the grid if you excuse the tendency on Mr. Steinberg's part to overuse slang. And didn't anyone ever tell that young whippersnapper that there is "no such thing as BAD Publicity?" Or PR?

Back when I was a NASAL college student (and yes, @LMS there are plenty of people, especially in NYC who sound the "g" in KING) who read OMOO for lit class, I had to take VALIUM (stamped ROCHE) for a stress-related condition. The medicine made me so IRATE that I stopped almost immediately. A nice ZIN did the trick much better.

I wanted TIARA for the chichi chihuaha accessory.

Anonymous 9:00 AM  

@Joe: did you ever have the thought in your puny little head that words and phrases might mean different things in different contexts?
"I didn't win the Springsteen ticket lottery again today. Oh, well."
But please, continue to think you're smarter than the constructor.

Nancy 9:01 AM  

I'm wondering how hard it is to find long words comprised of only four letters. I don't know the answer to that, but I do think that DS found some nifty, unusual ones: SASSAFRAS, SENESCENCE, and RECHERCHE just roll around on the tongue, don't they? Has this theme ever been done before? I don't think so. Plus there's no junk at all. A really nice surprise on a Tuesday: DS can create my Tuesday puzzles any time!

My only nit is OH WELL for "That's a bummer." If something's really a bummer, I'm going to say something much saltier than OH WELL. I might even use some FOUR LETTER WORDS.

(I just see that @Good Ol Joe right above me said the exact same thing.)

Sir Hillary 9:04 AM  

Very nice puzzle by DS. I've always loved his work for the some of the reasons that other people don't like (pop culture, youngness, whimsy) but this one is staid by comparison. In a good way.

I'm 100% with @Two Ponies on "guyliner". Never heard of it before today, but love it.

EHOW is new to me as well -- Etsy was my first stab.

Back to DS...@Non Name, I like "next gen Patrick Berry" a lot. Here's the gap that Steinberg needs to close though: Berry would have avoided exactly what @Rex and others have identified as a shortcoming. That is, he would have worked the grid until there were no other words using four unique letters. SENSEI, ASSET, NASAL, WHEEL, TOTES -- all of them gone, along with the four-letter non-repeaters like ARKS, etc. THEE, TEST, ODDS, ISEE and ALAN would be fine -- even OMOO and OTTOI could stay. And I guarantee he would do it without an overreliance on three-letter words. He wouldn't do it because it makes a difference in the solving experience, because it doesn't. He would do it because it's elegant and it's difficult, something that turns a 92 into a 100. That sort of craftsmanship is something for every constructor, including the awesome young Mr. Steinberg, to aspire to. OK, I'll step off the soapbox...

Mark Tebeau 9:17 AM  

I had ZIp as in zip car. Lol. So I had same reaction.

pmdm 9:23 AM  

A fairly large segment of the people who live on Long Island pronounce the G in Long. Some people I know pronounce ethnic judgments when they hear a person who pronounces the G. If a word that ends in NG is followed by a word beginning with a vowel, it seems easy to change the pronunciation to include the G sound. Similar to adding an N sound to A when the subsequent word beings with a vowel.

I am happy that others have noticed how the constructor seems to have matured. His earliest puzzles were filled with what I called contemporary trivia crap. (That's a little too harsh.) This puzzle is typical of his recent puzzles, perhaps a tad on the more difficult side for a Tuesday (I wouldn't give it to a novice) but rather enjoyable.

Robert A. Simon 9:37 AM  

@LMS: You do so much for all of us, permit me to give you this: Tell your husband to get the NeilMed bottle for his sinuses. It's a small squeeze bottle that shoots warm (baby bath temp) salt water (1/4 tsp per use) up into your sinuses with enough force to clear them out rather effortlessly. Just make sure he is over the sink, as the water (and the stuff it loosens) come out in a manner we'll just call "plentiful."
NeilMed website is here

Two Ponies 9:37 AM  

I don't know about the rest of you but it seems to me that the anonymice have been particularly pesky of late. Calling people out by name and even posing as that day's target commenter. Last week it was @QuasiMojo and this week it's @GILL I and @evildoug. It has happened to me as well. Oh well, put on your flak jackets and soldier on! Actually it's flattering to know you've been read and struck a nerve.
I also get the feeling it is the same person day after day. Hey dude, try crawling out of the basement every once in awhile. The fresh air will do you good.

Back to the puzzle - Back when I was a rock climber pitons had become a no-no. They damaged the cliffs and if they are placed properly should be nearly impossible to remove. Removable anchors are the way to go now. Besides, would you trust your life to a piton that someone else had placed? Not me.

Jon in Saint Paul 9:39 AM  

I loved this. Fun fun fun. Revealer elicited an "Oh, cool!" from me, cuz I'm way less cynical and/or demanding about these sorts of things. I liked how the constructor built two each of 8-, 9-, and 10-letter words which used only four unique letters into the grid. And regardless of the theme...SENESCENCE! SASSAFRAS! RECHERCHE!

Unknown 9:54 AM  

Arrow points to left.

Mohair Sam 10:04 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Odd Sock 10:08 AM  

As much as I see Omoo in puzzles I really oughta get around to reading it....someday.

Is K Town okay to use? Somebody somewhere must be offended. Even if one person feels marginalized we ALL must pay.

old timer 10:11 AM  

Absolutely brilliant, DS, and for me way north of a Tuesday time. I was very impressed when I finally figured out.

OFL needs to cut down on the Trump bashing. Yeah, the EPA has been somewhat defanged. But it still has rules that it imposes on polluters. The ordinary work of the EPA continues. Same with the Department of Education -- the new Secretary has cut way back on its requirements, but she still enforces the rules, and recently was bragging about a lawsuit she filed against some baddies. At Treasury the move is to lighten up on middle-sized banks, but still require stress tests, etc. for the biggest, whose insolvency would create a crisis. Dodd-Frank still lives where its survival is most required. In essence it is the difference between the Dems and the Repubs. I would have expected something similar from a Bush or a Romney.

Mohair Sam 10:13 AM  

Another quality Steinberg puzzle - excellent Tuesday fare.

The "gimme" logo before ICON cost an awful lot of time, pulled a major Casco there. Know RECHERCHE as meaning arcane, had to fill most of it before recognizing. I'm at the age when the word SENESCENCE makes me uncomfortable. We're in the Etsy before EHOW crowd. And I learned a lot today:

Didn't know there was such a thing as guyliner (men only cruise ship?) nor that EMO was anything but a music genre - made 32A particularly tough. Discovered there are two e's, not two a's, in PESETA. Never heard the slang KTOWN, nor eaten kimchi. And found out that my root beer no longer contains SASSAFRAS root - I googled to make sure and got myself the total history of the drink and the root, I won't bore you.

"Can't anybody here play this game?" IMO Casey STENGEL's best quote among a zillion attributed to him. It was said in frustration about his 1962 Mets team that still holds the record for most losses in baseball history. Jimmy Breslin wrote a book about the team using that quote as its title. The Mets' broadcasters had ample space for witticisms too: Mets Left fielder Gene Woodling once legged out a triple on a particularly hot night. The 39-year-old and overweight Woodling slid hard into third and the game was held up while the limping Woodling gasped for air after his 270 foot sprint. The play by play announcer (Bob Murphy?) was quiet until the exhausted and hobbling Woodling finally stood on third - and then remarked, "If Woodling was horse they'd shoot him."

GILL I. 10:18 AM  

Thanks, @Two Ponies. What helps is I form a mental unflattering image of the toad behind the computer. Sometimes I'll draw it and make myself laugh.
Wow puzzle. Like @Lewis said...Brilliant!
Like others, I had to finish the puzzle before I could make SENSE of it. 9/10/8 letters on the top. 8/10/9 on the bottoms. I noticed that elegance as well. So clever, David Steinberg.
SASSAFRAS is my favorite. Our daughter is pregnant with her first baby and all she wants to drink is ginger ale or root beer. I told her I had seen a homemade recipe for root beer somewhere so we googled it and it was SASSAFRAS. I just love it when that happens...Kinda spooky as well.
Had to look up guy liner although I know what it means. Didn't know EMO used it. Adam Lambert can get away with it and I guess Bowie.
Come visit every Tuesday, David.

mathgent 10:23 AM  

I like the term Rex used to describe the puzzle. Bouncy. Bouncy it is!

The version of the puzzle I printed up last night had a period inside the quotes instead of an arrow in 26D. I knew that the answer was LEFT and came up with a rationale before I went to sleep. The rationale was so far out that I can't remember what it was.

RooMonster 10:30 AM  

Hey All !
Does anyone remember Barry Silk? Whatever happened to him?

Puz good. I have a niggling nit though on the Single-Letter fill,as in K TOWN, BAD PR, OTTO I, I SEE, ZERO G, EHOW, LSAT. SORTA ughs me, not sure why. OH WELL.

Did like the amount of themers. Like seeing OMOO, always liked that title. I'm gonna write a book titled OROO. :-)


TZ 10:36 AM  

Glad to see Real @GILL I's comment appear. And good on you, @Two Ponies, for pointing out SLEAZEball Fake GILL's loathsome appearance earlier. The only thing more cowardly than an anonymous troll is a troll writing under someone else's name. But no one can successfully pose as @GILL, because GILL has her own inimitable and colorful style. It can't be duplicated, especially not by SLEAZEballs. That would even be true if she didn't have her own avatar -- which, happily, she does. Don't ever let the bastards get you down, GILL.

Adam 10:43 AM  

I had the same assumption about the theme, but went even further after solving SASSAFRAS first: Four Letter Word: S, thinking they were all going to have 4 S’s. Each new answer made me question what the theme really was and I got stuck in my thinking and had to come here to find out the real theme.

Joseph Michael 10:51 AM  

Brilliant puzzle of FLUTTERED SORROW.

As a bonus, the themers can be reduced to these four-letter words:


pabloinnh 10:59 AM  

Liked this one a lot, as all the themers are just fun to say.

@LMS takes me back to my days of learning about bilabial plosives and voiced fricatives, which both have always sounded a little naughty to me.

Kids in my Spanish classes always wanted to learn FOUR LETTER WORDS first. Usually I told them to just call someone a "sacapuntas", which if said with the proper inflection can sound really nasty, even if it does mean "pencil sharpener".

Unknown 11:00 AM  

I'd like to see "cab" and "zin" retired, at least as references to wine.
The cab clue was answered perfectly by "zip." ((Although "pasal" made no sense.))

Loren Muse Smith 11:07 AM  

@QuasiMojo - Ok. I’ve sat here forever saying

When I was in Norway, I saw the king.

and trying to imagine a speaker, even one from Long Guyland, ending that utterance with a hard “g” sound. I just can’t. I’ll have to take your word for it that there are speakers who speak this way, who would end the word king in isolation with a hard “g” sound.

I will, though, accept that when that nasal is followed by a vowel, as in

I saw the king enter the room.

that maybe some dialects could insert a hard “g” sound there. So while I would say

kɪŋ ɪntər (“keeŋ enter”)

others may say

kɪŋ gɪntər (“keeŋ genter”)

I swear it’d sound weird (not weird wrong, but weird marked) if I heard that, though.

@phil phil – get back to me on your friend’s voiceless nasal sound! But stand back, buddy.

@Robert A. Simon – thanks for the little tidbit! I’ll pass it along…

@Z – I enjoyed that clip! And I listened so carefully to see if I could hear a hard “g” at the end of ding when anyone said ding-a-ling. I don’t think I heard one.

@TZ – you’re right – our @Gill I has a distinct voice, and that definitely wasn’t her.

@pabloinnh – I tell ya, you could always track that Putnam County mince by listening for its voiced palatal affricates.

Nancy 11:20 AM  

@Loren (6:36) -- Because I fall into the category of someone who had absolutely no idea that "Eskimo" could be considered a pejorative word, I turned to Google to find out why. And here's what I found:

1) It was coined by people not from that culture -- never a good thing, I suppose. And

2) The word means "Eater of raw meat."

Well, hey, that's not so bad, is it? I mean I'm an eater of raw meat. Steak Tartare is one of my very favorite things in the whole world. I also love Tuna Tartare. And sushi. Maybe there were some Eskimos long, long ago in my family history? Perhaps I should go to and find out?

I guess what I'm saying is that so many things are considered an insult now that were never an insult before. Who can keep tabs on them all? Still, if I ever meet any Eskimos, I'll remember to call them Inuits.

jb129 11:21 AM  

I enjoyed this a lot - was stuck on Zin tho - then it made sense (Cab). I'll watch out for that again. Loved recherche!

QuasiMojo 11:47 AM  

Wow so much to chew on today. First, @Two Ponies, someone posed as me recently? Or did he or she just diss me. I’m used to the latter. I love this forim but there are two things I don’t like about some of the comments: the tendency by some anonymice to disparage other contributors and the very boring political comments about red vs blue states and the POTUS. Second, @LMS, I am from Long Island and never heard anyone say Long Guyland, but I have heard “king-guh” from some denizens of the five boroughs. I’m not saying-uh you’re not right about the nasal ending but just that it is not universal. Have you been to Ossining? :)

Malsdemare 11:47 AM  

Great puzzle! I, too, thought for an instant that the words had four of the same letter, but LOLLIPOP disuaded me of that idea. TATTLETALE, an epithet that got tossed around a lot in a family of five girls, was my favorite. In my SENESCENCE, I'm sure that there was a cartoon character that said "SASSAFRAS," but no idea who. Anyone able to help? And I am deeply impressed by posters' abilities to remember all the terminology for phonetics; yes, I took that class in college, but whatever got stored in my brain has long since been overwritten. In my next life, I'm going to have more memory installed.

I'm also one who will avoid giving offense if I can manage it. Knowing a term is offensive to some is enough to make me find an appropriate alternative. I consider it a way to expand my vocabulary.

The @GILL impersonation smacked me in the face until I realized it as not our own GILL. I don't quite get the thrill of being nasty, either anonymously or pretending to be someone else.

I really enjoyed this puzzle. Thanks, DS.

Masked and Anonymous 11:48 AM  

Since the revealer just claims to describe the long Across answers, the theme seems pretty tight, IM&AO. Maybe they coulda thrown SENSEI into the themer pool, since it's sorta longish, but then SLEAZE woulda spoiled the symmetry soup, unless converted to @muse's avatar SLEEVE, or somesuch.

As for most TuesPuzs, the solvequest went blazin fast. OHWELL/KTOWN/ROCHE kept m&e from ADIOS-in' the NW without some extra nanosecond carnage. OHWELL doesn't quit jive with "Thats' a bummer", in my mind ... OHWELL maybe sounds more like "No biggie".

And … didn't know EHOW, which made OTTOI [Great-grandfather of Otto-Correct] a few nanoseconds harder to de-mask. Otherwise, fill was very fun and smoooth, sooo … thUmbsUp.

Need some longish 4-lettered words with U's in em, just for the sake of balance. All the themers leaned on "E" hard, except for LOLLIPOP. [Hey, TURNTURNTURN is a nice 4-lettered song title, at least …]

Thanx, Steinbergmeister.

Masked & AnonymoUUs


RooMonster 11:52 AM  

@Loren, you pronounce KING as kinj? keenj? I've only ever heard it and spoke it with the hard G. Do you say ring, bring, thing the same way? I'm just curious. No disrespect, as I love your posts, I'm just wondering if it's a regional thing (theenj). :-)


semioticus (shelbyl) 11:56 AM  

Two days in a row I disagree with Rex about the grid. Yes, it's clean, especially given the constraints imposed by all those theme answers, but this is not a fun grid at all. OMOO! OTTOI! IOTA! ASCOT! LOUT! COPSE! All hailing from Crosswordistan!

But the theme is cute. It is novel but not. It is smart but not. Perfect for a puzzle that won't take much of your time so you can't start to get frustrated about it or nitpick.

Steinberg's cluing sometimes throws me off. I don't know how to feel about "Cab alternative." But post-truth era was a nice touch. Now I know what a "guyliner" is. "Schleps" too. "Pablo Neruda composition" for ODE? I don't know. Etc. Etc. Is it too cute or just cute enough? I can't decide.

But Rex liked it, Jeff Chen gave it a POW! so I guess I'm having a bad day. Oh well.

GRADE: B, 3.35 stars.

Amelia 12:01 PM  

My thoughts exactly! What a nice surprise for a Tuesday. A clever, unexpected puzzle.

QuasiMojo 12:05 PM  

I meant “forum.” @Malsdemare, Suffering Succotash?

Malsdemare 12:18 PM  

@Quasi, yeah, probably what I'm thinking cartoon-wise. But SASSAFRAS? That's cannon-balling around in my brain, looking for a target. Stay tuned.

Why do I keep having to prove I'm not a robot? This is getting tiresome.

Buggy Bunny 12:19 PM  

the issue with the theme is that one might expect a double-theme: not just that the theme answers fit the requirement of 4 letters, but that the answers are themselves related.

JOHN X 12:20 PM  

I always remember the "COPSE of trees" from the Gettysburg battlefield. It was a landmark for both forces in the "no man's land" of the central front. It's still there.

@Quasimojo 11:47AM
That's interesting that you've never heard anyone say "Long Guyland" yet this is what everyone from elsewhere hears the natives say. Maybe you just don't hear it because you're inured to it? I've been an amateur student of American dialects my whole life and I can do a pretty good Long Island accent without resorting to comic stereotype (I have a lot of friends and relatives from there).

Buggy Bunny 12:21 PM  

"Why do I keep having to prove I'm not a robot? "


John Hoffman 12:29 PM  

Word of the day was RECHERCHE. Never heard that before! Fun puzzle!

Suzie Q 12:36 PM  

Yosemite Sam might be the cartoon but then again he could have ordered a sasparillo(sp?). Now I'm hearing Sylvester, Foghorn Leghorn, and Yosemite Sam as my ear worm.

jberg 12:44 PM  

This was a fine puzzle. Like many, I has SASSAFRAS and SENESCENCE before I got to the revealer, then noticed the four Ss in SASSAFRASS, then noticed that SENESCENCE didn't have 4 Ss but did have 4 Es, and then finally realized what was really going on. I think he planned it that way, to add to the fun of solving.

@Loren, thank you! I was one of those who insisted last time around that I pronounced the g, but I now realize that what I meant was that there was a sound in there other than the n. I don't know how to type those funny little marks you use, but I'll treaure this new understanding.

The people from Long Island I went to college with went the other way -- they did not pronounce either the G or the NG sound in words like 'length' and 'strength,' rendering them as LENTH and STRENTH. They were surprised that I was surprised.

@Nancy, says that Eskimo comes from askime' = snowshoe netter. Go figure.

Unknown 12:49 PM  

Extra difficult Tuesday for no real reason. Considering the poor theme, it was like a Friday puzzle.


Just to name some 48-Across in the puzzle.

Charley 12:56 PM  

No young Mr. Steinberg. Four letter words have four letters. No repeats.

JC66 1:11 PM  

@ kitshef said...

"Remembered for Nice Guys Finish Last, Durocher’s one championship in 27 years of managing is pretty telling, especially contrasted with Stengel’s seven in 25 years."

Yeah, but look at the guys Stengel had on his teams.


It took me quite a while to figure out that once I'd checked the "I'm not a robot" box, the next time I commented I just had too hit "Publish Your Comment."

Malsdemare 1:14 PM  

@JC 66 Danke! I'll try that.

JC66 1:17 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
JC66 1:18 PM  

@ kitshef

My above comment didn't mean to demean Stengel's accomplishments, but to point out your comparison may be unfair.

Anonymous 1:36 PM  

@LMS: Ding dong the witch is dead! Wedding ring?

Carola 1:42 PM  

Easy fun. The reveal helped me get the last two FOUR LETTER WORDS with just a couple of crosses. Very entertaining array of theme entries, with RECHERCHE a lovely closer.

Joining the NASAL discussion: I was never so happy to say ADIOS to a class as I was to German linguistics, taught in German, which for me was the definition of opacity. But some of the terms were quite choice, the one tickling me the most being NASALschwund (pronounced nah-SAHL-shvunt, where the "u" sounds like the "ou" in "should"). Try it: nah-SAHL-shvunt! Great, right? SORTA like a sneeze. It means "disappearance of a NASAL" as in the disappearance of the "n" between "think" and "thought."

Aketi 2:02 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kimberly 2:06 PM  

I figured out the theme clue answer and then frowned, looking at the two theme answers I’d already filled, then had the aha moment and a small chuckle. More of a “oh, you silly creator” chuckle than a “wow, that’s clever” chuckle, but as long as I get my “aha” moment and a chuckle, I am a happy solver.

As always, I assume any sticky moments are the result of my own ineptitude. When I got stuck in the NW with some strange looking gaps I was sure I had a wrong answer and had to run away from that corner until the end. “K town” feels somehow glibly geocentric and wrong, like a throwback from the 50s.

Missy 2:07 PM  

Sylvester the Cat - Sufferin Succotash!

Aketi 2:10 PM  

@Malsedemare, maybe you are thinking of Sylvester the Cat who said Sufferin’ Succotash with a lisp. Pretty close to SASSAFRAS, which I initially saw as SASS A FRAS until my brain turned it into a single FOUR LETTER WORD.

@LMS, linguistics definitely is not my thing. From your description, I think one of the kids in my class when I taugh chem and bio in the Congo has a name that fit that category but I could be wrong. His name was Ngbangalombe. In the two years I taught him I never quite managed the NASAL noise that started his name. I just caved and jumped in at the b. All the names in that area were at least three syllables long with lots of repetitive vowels. In the southern part of the country many of the names started with what sounded like a FOUR LETTER WORD in English that @Nancy might use if confronted with a plate of kale. The hardest language I ever gave up trying to learn was Quechua. They seemed to have a bunch of different ways to make k, p, and t, some more explosive than others. Possibly more explosive than camelid spit. The professor made us practice our consonants with a candle flame in front of us.

@GIll I, pretty obvious it wasn’t you so I skipped it,. @Quasi, I didn’t see a faux U, just a dis that was also easy to skip.

Two Ponies 2:47 PM  

@ QuasiMojo, Yes, in your case I was remembering several remarks that called you by name but not a "black name" impersonator. A serious offense but not a felony.

3 and out.

OISK 3:08 PM  

I seldom like Steinberg's puzzles, but these days I can usually solve them. Filling in a grid with expressions, words, names that not only mean nothing to me, but never WILL mean anything to me isn't much fun. (and this is not a criticism - other folks enjoy pop culture references). A divorce might generate "bad P R."?? Yeah, I know what it means, but really? Post-truth era? K Town? So I guess Midwood is J Town? Guyliner?? with a lower case "g"? EMO means nothing to me outside of the crossword. Never heard of zumba, nor of e how. I don't even like the clue for "Adios." Tron Legacy?? Has anyone ever heard the abbreviation for turnpike, "pike" used in the plural? Pikes are weapons, pikes are fish (though generally called pike even in the plural, pikes are what the welsher does when he loses a bet....and the only turnpike near where I live, Union Turnpike, does NOT have a toll!

I'm headed to I town for some lasagna...

Whatsername 3:22 PM  

I didn't love it. Senescence? Recherche? Tennessee and Mississippi would have been so much more fun.

QuasiMojo 3:31 PM  

Since several people have added comments about the G in Long Island, I will pipe in again to suggest that maybe it has to do with geography. Long Island is over 100 miles long and parts of it have different accents. I'm from the North Shore in Nassau and we did not say Long GUYland. Perhaps they do on the South Shore or further west toward the city. I dunno. People who live further east on the two Forks speak slightly differently as well. Although my memory is referring back to a time before the LIE was finished and the East End was much more isolated than it is now. Someone told me once or I read it in a book that the East End of Long Island was much more like New England than the rest of the island. So accents evolved differently out there. Today of course it is a hodgepodge of many diverse accents, many of them of foreign origin.

GILL I. 4:06 PM  

@TZ..Have we met? If not, I'd like to. That was very nice of you and @LMS, @Malsdemare and @Aketi...sending' a big smile via jet. ;-)

sanfranman59 4:41 PM  

This week's relative difficulty ratings. See my 1/2/2018 post for an explanation of my method. In a nutshell, the higher the ratio & percentage, the higher my solve time was relative to my norm for that day of the week.

(Day, Solve time, 26-wk Median, Ratio, %, Rating)

Mon 3:44 4:08 0.90 20.9% Easy-Medium
Tue 5:18 5:19 1.00 46.0% Medium

TZ 5:09 PM  

We have met, @GILL. Check your email for details.

Joe Dipinto 5:23 PM  

NONSENSE seems a bit of an outlier, comprising only two syllables to all the others' three. Still, not a bad theme.

What do you say to a cow that's lamenting the quality of the grass its eating?


Amanda 5:30 PM  

I was pretty bothered by SENSEI. It's the Japanese word for a teacher - while people who teach Japanese martial arts would be referred to as SENSEI, so would many other people in Japan. Many people who are martial art pros have nothing to do with Japan and wouldn't be referred to as a sensei. It's sloppily relying on assumptions about Asian ninjas and isn't in any way accurate.

laura R 6:02 PM  

Dear God, this is NOT a Tuesday puzzle with Recherche, Sassafras (thought I misspelled it), Zin (did not get- was thinking of Lyft, Via, etc.) Escot, and who knows what tiddlywinks is anymore. Too (four letter word)-in’ hard.

nick strauss 6:27 PM  

I got the 4 letter theme early on. DISCS last. I liked the pretty words, sassafras esp.

Jack Schidt 6:46 PM  

@ laura R, If this is so hard it makes you curse you might be on the wrong blog. could solve and read the comments for a few months. Then after perhaps learning a few things it won't seem hard at all. Today the whining is unflattering.

Joe Dipinto 6:58 PM  

@QuasiMojo 3:31 - It's not "Long Guyland", it's "Lawn Guyland". You have to get a distinct "n" sound in there before hitting the "g" really hard.

Doug 7:44 PM  

This might be the first puzzle I disliked more than Rex did. I still don't understand the theme after he explained it. WTF? I'm stupid. So, it took me a long time to solve so it was pretty hard for me.

BarbieBarbie 7:49 PM  

@Jack, gotta disagree with anyone who thinks a newcomer doesn’t deserve to express an opinion. You’re not the only one who comes out with that sentiment here, so I’m not picking on you. But sheeez, people, build a wall why don’t you.

Great puzzle from a great constructor. Love the DS clues. I had zip in for ZIN too, until the forehead-smack moment. So much fun.

Anonymous 8:28 PM  

Ah, but BarbieBarbie, you don't know Jack Schidt!

Anonymous 8:32 PM  

@Anonymous 8:28 PM


Anonymous 8:34 PM  

@Anonymous 8:28 PM

If you believe that, I've got some BitCoin to sell you.

Anonymous 9:16 PM  

Re: @TZ: remember that night in Paris? I paid you double you were so good...

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Unknown 11:43 AM  

I have not read all the comments, but for "Alternative to cab" did anyone else think of ZIP as in ZIP CAR (an alternative to a taxi cab)?

thefogman 10:17 AM  

It took me a while to figure out the theme after completion. I saw four S's in SASSAFRAS and four T's in TATTLETALE but no such pattern in the other themers. Then the light finally clicked on. With rare exceptions, I don't appreciate words that aren't in the dictionary - like KTOWN. Do people really say that? And I still do not understand the cluing for 26D (LEFT). OHWELL, ISEE there's no need to REHASH OFL's commentary. That SORTA says it all. IRATE this one a C+. I'm just happy I passed THEE TEST and I'm FINITO!

thefogman 10:23 AM  


I think the symbol < was missing in the clue for 26D (What "" signifies). Is this "<" what fellow Syndies had in their puzzle for 26D?

Diana, LIW 11:58 AM  

@Foggy - I had the same "." question. OHWEL, was what I said at the time. (No four-letter words.)

Looked at Bill Butler's Crossword blog - he had an arrow pointing left "<-" for the 26D clue. A cursory glance (without curses) at FutureLand revealed at least one person indicating the arrow, too.

What can one say about a DS puzzle on a Tuesday? Whooray! (No cursing, yet again.)

Diana, Lady, never a cursor (yes, that was a puny misspelling)

spacecraft 12:04 PM  

My paper had what looked like a boxed "X." How that translates to LEFT I can't tell you. Other surprises awaited me. A DS grid with a RR/P? (That's random ruler/pope.) OTTOI is normally beneath our wunderkind. So, for that matter, is Tuesday, which means IRATE this Tuesday medium-challenging--for the day.

KTOWN, ZEROG and BADPR all get passes, but EHOW? Methinks we have to open another "random" category: the ERIT (random internet term starting with E).

ISEE lots of crutchiness here; a total of 18 S's and a bottom line of ALE ASSET EPEES that seems uninspired. Same for the right column: NASAL ISEE ETAS. To his credit, Mr. S did stick in a couple of 10-point Z's--and did it well.

I got the theme pretty early on; I guess that's why this was given a Tuesday slot. Was not confused by looking for a "four-peat" of the same letter. Agree that SENSEI is a theme lagniappe.

No direct DOD; OHWELL. We could nominate the uber-hot Sigourney Weaver for starring in ALIEN, how about that? Par, though maybe for this constructor it has bogey-ish (SORTA) overtones.

Burma Shave 12:48 PM  


ODDS are now they’re NONSENSE.


rondo 2:00 PM  

My paper had an arrow pointing LEFT, but I wondered how “enter” fits into 4 squares. And I thought ZUMBA was *already* passe. Solved it pretty much themeless, or perhaps clueless, not getting the FOURLETTERWORDS thing until further review.


Go ahead and call me a LOUT for choosing only one of the ROCHE sisters (of The ROCHEs); sorry Maggie and Suzzy, but Terre ROCHE gets a yeah baby today. Or maybe our very own ACME.

Maybe bringing in DS on a Tuesday with a LOLLIPOP is a good fix to the Tues-puz problem. IRATE this puz pretty darn good compared to the SORTA stuff we oft times get.

JimmyBgood 2:49 PM  

I do the puzzle in the Chicago Sun-Times. It had a backslash between the quotes for 26D.

leftcoastTAM 3:31 PM  

I thought it played like a Tricky Thursday, but, OHWELL it's certainly not a bummer. Enjoyed sorting it out. Theme and themers very clever, Steinberg-like. Some challenging fill, too, as a bonus.

Took some time, but worth it.

wcutler 3:40 PM  

@thefogman 10:23 AM, I had " ", which was definitely confusing me until I forgot all about it and seem to have solved it via the across clues. I was taking it literally. There must be some way for crossword setters to be taught to get special characters to appear accurately.

rainforest 6:47 PM  

I too had "" as the clue for 26D. EMO fixed that, but I was confused. Fixed that, too.
On a short lease today. Had a grueling baby-sitting gig. Gotta go.
Liked it a lot.

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