Louis who developed a rabies vaccine / MON 6-25-18 / Apparel also known as clamdiggers / Speed readers? / Fly ball catchers / Mountain goat

Monday, June 25, 2018

Constructor: Kathy Wienberg

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: ADD TO CART (63A: Message clicked by an online buyer ... or a hint for 17-, 24-, 39-, and 51-Across) — The first word of each themer can precede "CART".

Theme answers:
  • TEA GARDEN (17A: Locale for a traditional Japanese ceremony)
  • SHOPPING LIST (24A: Slip of paper to take to the grocery)
  • GOLF TOURNAMENTS (39A: The Masters and others)
  • APPLE STRUDEL (51A: Classic Austrian pastry)
Word of the Day: FINESSE (48A: Risky bridge play) —
In contract bridge and similar games, a finesse is a card play technique which will enable a player to win an additional trick or tricks should there be a favorable position of one or more cards in the hands of the opponents. (Wikipedia)

 • •

Hi folks, it's day two of Guest Blogger Week here while Rex is away. And, like last Monday, it's another first-words-type puzzle. I suppose these sorts of Mondays are a symptom of having increasing difficulty over the week: the truly creative themes that twist your brain a little get kicked down to Wednesday or Thursday, while the old-school theme patterns that are easy due to familiarity get slated earlier. The best we can hope for with these is a well-executed version with some good fill.

I'm not sure that's what we got, though. The themers are perfectly fine, and there's some credit to be given for having four plus the revealer instead of just three. But in looking over the puzzle, it's not just the theme that's dated. Any of these clues and answers could have appeared in a puzzle twenty years ago and would have fit right in, save for the fact that Finding NEMO wasn't released until 2003. I don't need a hyper-modern puzzle to enjoy it, but when the cultural references bend in the opposite direction, with POGO and RHETT Butler and bridge terms (FINESSE), I think it's fair to complain.

Some long non-themers here in CAPRI PANTS, SOLAR PANELSSEAPLANE, and FIELDERS, which are all solid, if not terribly exciting. We've got some rough fill in ONOEBONGTOSETH, and TRA. The irony is that the crosswordese helped the solving process for me, but in particular, the UNAGI / GTOS cross might Natick a casual Monday solver who hasn't seen either before.

I don't want to sound too cranky about this puzzle (although I guess with Rex gone, someone needs to fill that quota) - it's a perfectly adequate Monday. It just doesn't seem to rise above perfectly adequate.

Signed, Brian Amos, Serf of CrossWorld


sanfranman59 12:13 AM  

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. Your results may vary.

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

Mon 3:43 4:30 0.83 6.2% Easy

My 5th fastest ever Monday solve time of 470 puzzles, replacing Zhouqin Burnikel's 6/4/2018 puzzle of a few weeks ago in that position. I felt very, very little resistance from this one other than my inept typing. I might have been close to 3 minutes if I could type.

My only error was entering swATH (doh!) at 16A before almost immediately correcting it to HEATH. I don't know bridge well, so FINESSE was a little mysterious.

OK theme. OK Monday puzz.

Tom R 12:19 AM  

A finesse is a risky bridge play? There is nothing inherently risky in a finesse; it might even be a safety play. If you are going to use bridge clues in your puzzle, it might be good to know something about the game in the first place. Other than that, it seemed exceptionally easy even for a Monday to me.

puzzlehoarder 1:19 AM  

This was a little bit difficult for a Monday. Alot of it was due to a couple of early mistakes. The first was a BUDHA/OSCAR write over. It's misspelled, I know. I wound up back filling that NE corner at the end.

INHALE/INGEST was easy to fix, just another of the many either/ or pairings.

I hesitated to put in SNAFU. FINESSE is a common word but I'm unfamiliar with it's bridge usage.

I skipped over the reveal on first reading. Not only do these problems take up time in and of themselves the haphazard solve pattern they create always pads the time as well.

Is an APPLEcart something other than than any old general yardcart. I know it's largely a figure of speech but that makes it an outlier of the themes just the same.

chefwen 1:35 AM  

I loved how a couple of themers kinda tied in together. Serving APPLE STRUDEL in the TEA GARDEN waiting for the others to arrive in their GOLF CARTS. Grandma Sofie made the best APPLE STRUDEL known to mankind.

Electricity is stupid expensive in this here part of the country, we put in SOLAR PANELS a few years ago and writing that check every month is a lot less painful now.

Cute puzzle, no complaints here.

Paul Rippey 1:52 AM  

What a good review! No snark, accurate. Thanks!

Harryp 2:21 AM  

Fun puzzle for a Monday, Theme seems to work well. Congrats to Kathy Wienberg.

Anonymous 4:25 AM  

I'm going to argue that in executing a FINESSE, one inherently is taking a chance. In that sense it is a risky play. There are others uses of the word, but this is a perfectly good one.

Loren Muse Smith 5:07 AM  

Hey, Brian – thanks for filling in and, well, staying true to the vibe here, the vibe I imagine is the big draw for most readers – focus mainly on what’s wrong with the puzzle. Like @Paul Rippey, though, I like that you aren’t mean about it. (FWIW- I think our little comments section is a really, really small part of What is Rex, and most followers aren’t aware that there are so many people who actually have nice things to say here. Just my opinion, though.) Anyhoo, Brian – I like your style.

I have to disagree on the staleness, though. Ok. Sure, I stopped paying attention to fashion about twenty years ago and pretty much just wear skirts and sheaths that would’ve been acceptable back in the '60s. Sue me. So this theme maybe is kinda like that. But BUT BUT the reveal is so current, in-the-language, and kicky. ADD TO CART is worth making a puzzle around. I ADD TO CART all the time and then chicken out. Arctic Air Machine, stretchy miracle Tupperware cover thingies, pajamas, khaki sheaths, lip plumper device (I swear), Fire Opal Lipsense… I have ADD TO CART items abandoned in carts all over the world. I’m an Add’em And Leave’em kinda person. Anyway, the reveal is a new phrase, a phrase my bigmama would not understand at all. Loved it.

Couple more things: GOLF TOURNAMENT – still desperate to be accepted by the cool, young coachy good-ole-boy teacher guys at school, I made some headway a couple of months ago: Matt W has started a GOLF club and was doing a tourney as a fundraiser. These guys were standing around jawing about the details, and I asked, You gonna sell Mulligans? They looked at me. Blinked. Matt said, Hmm. I hadn’t thought about that. I said, Easy money, buddy. And walked off like I had other important stuff to do. He ended up selling Mulligans.

Kept trying “Linzer Torte” but it wouldn’t fit. I don’t like Linzer Torte, and I’ve even had it in some fancy schmancy Austrian hotel with my Austrian boyfriend and his Austrian family. But I ate it all and acted all Austrian, like it was really good. Pfft.

SNAFU is an acronym – maybe a retroacronym? A word that existed and then we scrambled to create an acronym? I dunno. But it has a bad word: Situation Normal All F&^%ed Up. Sigh. Focus on the bitter pill that is the Normal part. But we’re careening toward FUBAR. Just google that one.

I love finding an abandoned SHOPPING LIST left in a cart. A little treasure, a window into the life of the person who was buying QTIPS, lemon curd, Nivea, capers, WD40, artichokes. I wanna know this person. If there are no shopping lists to savor, I study the things the people are putting on the conveyor belt. I wonder about their lives. Look to see if the stuff is crappy or fancy. Wonder if their dog is spoiled. Do they have nice sheets? Is her cat allowed on the kitchen counter? Does she dust once a week? Is her teen-age son keeping her up at night?

Ok – last thing – FINESSE works for me, but I’m a Spades player (Idiot’s Bridge). I can see how it’s tricky. But I love the word. As a shameless southern woman game player (sorry feminists), I always get my way with my husband and kids, but in a sneaky, finessish way. Not honest and straightforward.

Then boyfriend: I’m not getting married until I’m 30.
Me: No worries. Hey – I packed your lunch. Don’t leave it. It’s on the counter there next to your folded laundry.

We were married at 26.

Charles Flaster 5:44 AM  

Liked puzzle and review.
Most puzzles necessarily need those three letter gluey answers.
Clue for RADAR was my favorite in a long while.
Thanks KW

BarbieBarbie 5:57 AM  

This review was very un-Rex-like. Because this theme did not work and this reviewer gave it a pass instead of a take-down.
What was ADDed TO CART? Nada. CART was in fact subtracted, and an unrelated word or phrase substituted to make a familiar phrase. It was in fact ADD INSTEAD OF CART. I have to assume Rex would have burned a hole in my iPad.

Extremely easy puzzle, can’t complain about the fill, and it had to be tricky finding Monday-worthy fill around four themers plus other long answers. So, on balance, hats off.

Lewis 5:58 AM  

This is Kathy's fourth NYT puzzle, and she has had puzzles published elsewhere. Two of her puzzles (one constructed with her husband Roger) have been nominated for ORCA awards, the crossword equivalent of OSCARs. I find her puzzles to be solid as rock, as is today's, which seems just right for a new solver. More experienced solvers might appreciate the scrabbliness for a Monday and the tight theme -- how many other theme answers can you come up with here? For alphadoppeltotters, there's that mini-theme of double E's (7). Solid, solid start to the week, hopefully a harbinger of what's to come. Thank you, Kathy!

kitshef 7:23 AM  

Many years ago -1996, I believe – the future mrsshef and I went on a cruise of Greek islands plus Kushadasi in Turkey. On this cruise were a group of Colombian schoolgirls – fifteen and sixteen years old.

The disco on the ship was always pretty dead – until the Colombian girls would show up and take over the dance floor and make everyone else feel less self-conscious.

One night, they had a limbo contest. Twenty minutes in, the only ones not eliminated were me and six of the Colombian girls. I ended up coming in second, my prize for which was a bottle of OUZO. After drinking some of it, I couldn’t help but think that first prize should be ‘no bottle of OUZO’.

Wm. C. 7:24 AM  

A Finesse may or may not be risky.

In these examples, assume you're South, and finessing your West opponent, leading a Queen to North's Ace-Ten-Five (say).

If you KNOW that East holds the King, say because West is void in that suit and in Trump (could be the same suit if you're finessing in Trump), then it's not risky.

If, however, you don't know where the King is, OR whether West may be void in the suit led (if not Trump) and still have a ((low or low-ish) Trump that would otherwise be a loser in a Trump-let trick, then it is risky since West may take the trick with the King or a Trump (if not led with one).

Get that? ;-)

ghthree 7:32 AM  

As a teenager in the fifties, I learned from a comic book that SNAFU meant "Situation Normal, All Fouled Up. It was several decades later that I learned the F didn't stand for "Fouled."

Debra 7:39 AM  

Above average Monday

Suzie Q 8:16 AM  

I really enjoyed the solve and would have been happy without the theme.
@ LMS, Someone actually has published a book of shopping lists. There were a few interesting ones and the concept is funny in a social commentary sort of way. But after reading a few I felt like I got the joke and didn't need a whole book of them.
That bridge clue meant nothing to me but I knew there would be a discussion about it.
How can you honestly complain that this skews old when the revealer is about on-line shopping? I guess you have to find something.

Nancy 8:22 AM  

Don't know why this puzzle was rated Medium. I can't imagine an easier one. Nevertheless, FIFI at 1A put a smile on my face. Poor poodle! What self-respecting poodle wants to be named FIFI?

Seldom in our nation's history has the 28D quote been so apt. Where have you gone to, POGO? The country badly needs you at this moment in time.

Everything about this puzzle was perfectly pleasant. The theme. The fill. But, alas, there was very little thinking required.

pabloinnh 8:28 AM  

We have 24 solar panels and even up here in the northern wilderness, the sun occasionally shines, case in point, our last monthly electric bill was $12. This is such a good idea that we should be making the whole process easier. That we're not is just evidence that some large and influential companies stand to lose money.

Sometimes I go to check out on Amazon and find things that have been "added to cart" that surprise me. I find that the other user of my account has been doing some LMS shopping and hadn't removed some impulse buys. Oops. Fortunately I have never come across anything remotely embarrassing.

Fine for a Monday puzzle, IMHO.

Kendall 8:58 AM  

Lots of comments and reviews of different experiences. This was one of my slowest solves ever for a Monday. I think I had a write over or just flat out didn’t know something in every section, which doesn’t usually happen for me until Wednesday. The theme was easy, but the rest of the puzzle was anything but. As for the dated fill - the “freshest” thing here is the revealer, and Jeff Bezos was already a billionaire 20 years ago where things could be added to a cart on Amazon. You could have run this puzzle more than 20 years ago but let’s keep it at that to be ultra conservative on the timeline.

Jim Lemire 9:11 AM  

Agree with others who found this am easy puzzle, even for a Monday. I was just 1 second off my record time for Mondays (using iPhone app).

I didn’t care much for the theme. In fact I didn’t get it until reading it here. I guess I knew that “tea cart” was a thing, but certainly not something I ever see/use/think about. Likewise with apple carts...though at least there I am familiar with the “upset the apple cart” idiom.

I know nothing about playing bridge so had to infer FINESS. Briefly had UNAmI instead of UNAGI...but luckily I knew it was GTOS and not mTOS.

The biggest holdup for me was CAPRI PANTS. Being from coastal New England, I was trying to come up with something you might actually wear while digging for clams - hipwaders? chestwaders? oilskins? Having CAP- made me think of Cape Cod, which didn’t help (maybe I still had yestetday’s Jaws-themed puzzle on my mind).. Luckily the crosses kept filling in letters and I finally saw where it was going.

There are better puzzles 9:18 AM  

TIL unsubscribing from the NYT requires that you actually communicate from someone at the Times. You can't just go online and opt out. They also don't give refunds...and since I **just** paid, I will get the not very good puzzles for an entire year anyway.

Why do they make it so hard to cancel? Ugh.

Linda Vale 9:24 AM  

Excellent Monday puzzle.

Bob Mills 9:27 AM  

I didn't understand the theme, even after it was explained. But I liked the puzzle, easy though it was.

Mohair Sam 9:30 AM  

I slept in so Lady M finished this one alone. She reports it as easy-medium and lots of fun for a Monday. I took a look at her "clean sheet" (no write-overs - get the nifty World Cup reference?) and concur. Very nicely executed theme, strong long downs, and agree with @LMS that it was plenty current - sure ADDTOCART was around 20 years ago - and there were maybe eighteen of us shopping online back then.

Learn something every day in the Times Puzzle department: For my entire life I've heard the term "CAPRI PANTS" and had no idea what they looked like. Why didn't people just say the correct term - clamdiggers? Sheeze.

GILL I. 9:31 AM  

Uh oh...FIFI....!!! How did that get pass the PC worriers. Well, to help keep it on the clean side, in Spanish it means Jehovah Increases.
I love Bridge. Haven't played it in ages but the very first thing my grandmother taught me was how to FINESSE. It's the attempt to gain power - like in Hearts where you want to gobble them all up.
@kitshef. I put OUZO right up there with Anise. The drink from hell. The drink you never forget you were stupid enough to even drink. The one your liver never forgets....
Here in Moon Beam country, every new house built from now on HAS to have SOLAR PANELS. No ifs ands or butts. I'm all for them, they save you a bundle of money, but they're expensive to install. They're worth it in the long run and they make sense but WOW Guv Brown - way to take your mandates up another notch....
I rather liked this puzzle in a cute Monday sort of way. I think first timers would enjoy this ONO and all.

pmdm 9:39 AM  

pabloinnh: A friend of mine who lives in Queens recently researched adding solar panels to his house. What I consider a real problem is that yings, ou cannot store power while they are running (apparently) so when a blackout hits (often, during hot months when air conditioners overload the demand capabilities) you still lose power. We are both in our sixties. Based on the cost and the savings, we most like would both be dead before the break even point. There must be a better way to market these things that are good for the environment.

LMS: If ever you visit Queens, there a a bakery in Floral Park (just east of NYC) called Buttercookery .If you tried one of their pastries, you might even like it. I gave one to a friend who lives in Scarsdale and he loved it. Now I have to supply his whole family. He tried to buy one in a local bakery in Westchester, took one bite and threw it out. Didn't even bother to give it to his dog, who he likes too much to give poor quality food.

Jeff Chen more or less panned today's puzzle, but in such a nice way. Try reading his comments if you like your criticism civilized.

Nothing in today's puzzle bothered me, so a thumbs up from me.

RooMonster 9:39 AM  

Hey All !
Another U-less Q answer (two, actually). @M&A, I think there's a No Use U Conspiracy happening...
However, there has been F's aplenty these past two days. 7 YesterPuz, 6 today. Nice.

Good Scrabbly puz, just a J from the pangram. No pet PEEVE about that. Did like it, an easy and appropriate MonPuz. Light dreck. Nice long Downs. What more could one want? :-)

FINESSE could also be called fanangle. Especially if SNAFU. :-) Haven't seen or used MIFFS in a long time.

@kitshef 7:23
LOL at your OUZO prize comment.

Have a SEA PLANE today to fly over yesterdays SEA MONSTER. Can you ADD a SEA PLANE TO CART?


Drgene 9:47 AM  

All of you critics,and especially King Rex himself(sorry for the redundancy),are a bunch of super kvetchers. Can any of you construct a puzzle? I am waiting to see one by Rex!! So easy to criticize. You people should be ashamed of yourselves.

three of clubs 10:00 AM  

A FINESSE is not inherently risky, and often necessary. It's like skipping a step in a hierarchy to achieve a desired goal. Got a boss who likes to say no? Preemptively, ask her superior!

floatingboy 10:08 AM  

Record solve for me, if only by 1 second. It's interesting, though, to see what's easy for some is not for others. It all depends on where your head's at that day and also where it's been at your whole life. Sometimes it just comes together, but obviously not for everyone at the same time.

One thing that kills me when speed solvers complain about themes is HOW IN THE WORLD ARE YOU EVEN NOTICING THE THEME UNTIL AFTER THE SOLVE? I don't. Or I may barely notice it but don't give myself time to care or use it to my advantage. Only on tough Thursdays does the theme sometimes help me figure out something that I otherwise couldn't get through crosses.

I personally never get satisfaction from a theme, only from creative cluing that is just hard enough to make me work but not so obscure that I flail.

Big Steve 46 10:18 AM  

"My 5th fastest ever Monday solve time of 470 puzzles ..." (From Comment #1 today.)
I mean, one you x-word nerds has actually kept a record of your solving time for 470 Mondays??? Assuming you keep this up for the whole week, that should be a record of about 3290 puzzles. As we used to say in a bygone age, "cable Guinness!!"

Z 10:24 AM  

Solid if uninspiring effort. Interesting that xwordinfo.com points out the fatal flaw, this theme type needs an hiatus. There's nothing wrong with the type in itself, it has just been done so much that even a solid effort is uninspiring.

@Drgene - Besides Rex, several current regular posters, and many former regulars (including the person who constructs the Sunday WaPo puzzle) are constructors with NYTX published puzzles. Rex refuses to submit to the NYT anymore, but had several published in the past. So I doubt that many here are feeling much shame about our kvetching. There is probably just a little bit of fremdschämen going on, though.

Nancy 10:25 AM  

Yes, OUZO is unspeakably awful, @kitshef and @GILL. I was in a Greek restaurant when I had my first and last sip of the stuff. I was with a man who liked to drink the "authentic drinks" of the region when in restaurants. Why he wanted to suffer that way was best known to himself, but I was always game enough to at least taste all of the concoctions.

In a Brazilian restaurant he ordered Vinho Verde. The most sour wine I have ever tasted. (That's probably why it's green.) My mouth didn't unpucker for several hours, even though I only had the teensiest sip.

In a Mexican restaurant he ordered Tequila, with a thick layer of salt rubbed around the sides of the glass. (That's how "authentic" Mexicans drink it.) I tried it and the unquenchable thirst that ensued lasted until, I think, the next day. To tell the truth, I'm not that wild about plain Tequila, either. (Have you ever had the stuff neat and not disguised in a Margarita?)

But of all this alcoholic awfulness, OUZO was the absolute worst.

mathgent 10:45 AM  

@Nancy (8:22): Exactly!

We're in Las Vegas for a week and I got a kick out of a tee-shirt on a young man at Belaggio yesterday. "My sexual preference is often."

Carola 10:52 AM  

I dunno. I get that you ADD TEA, SHOPPING, GOLF, and APPLE to CART, but then what happens to the second words of the theme phrases? I don’t like it when some theme parts are left to waft around in limbo.

@Nancy - FIFI brought a smile for me, too - a very nice intro to the grid. And I also found the puzzle very easy, except that I needed 2 crosses each for OVERT and MIFFS.

GILL I. 10:56 AM  

@Nancy...now for some strange reason your "that's how authentic Mexicans drink it" and your friends downing of the tequila, makes me want to educamate you on the "art" of drinking Tequila.
First...NO "authentic" Mexican worth his salt would ever down it in one gulp nor would he, if presented with the good stuff, ever salt the rim of his glass. See...there is a wonderful ritual and well worth the $$$.
First, only drink 100 agave. Don't bother with the "mixto" unless you want a Margarita. It should be served in a brandy snifter. After a few delicious SIPS (Ike you would a good Scotch) take a sip of a chaser called a sangrita. Try a good "Reposado." It's expensive but well worth that glorious experience.
If you've only had the cheap white stuff, you're guaranteed a hangover from hell (just like that god-awful OUZO). Look for "dark" tequila; 100 agave. It's truly a wonderful experience and the Mexicans will love you for wanting the "authentic."
Salute tute....!

Warren Howie Hughes 11:24 AM  

Brian, AMOS adequate Monday replacement for His Liege, Sir Rex. who did surely SERF us well!

Lewis 11:31 AM  

My five favorite clues from last week:

1. What you may have that I can't? (3)
2. They can swing left or right (12)
3. Peter or Paul, but not Mary (4)
4. Childlike personality? (13)
5. Depart unceremoniously (5)


Mohair Sam 11:34 AM  

@Nancy and @Carola - We called our high school French teacher FIFI, although she certainly wasn't a dog.

@pabloinnh (8:28) - Yup the high installation cost isn't why we have fewer solar panels than we might, nope, it's greedy corporations again ruining our lives for their evil profits. See @Gill I's complaint that all new homes in California must have solar panels. And Google for a long list of municipalities and states that give huge tax breaks for businesses to install them. Use of solar power is growing just fine - greedy corporations make solar panels too you see.

Bob Mills 11:34 AM  

A finesse isn't a risky play. You lead a small card toward an ace-queen combination, and you play the queen in hopes that the next person doesn't hold the king. It works half the time. It isn't risky, because if you played the ace instead of the queen, the person holding the king would win with later, regardless of which opponent held it.

Masked and Anonymous 11:45 AM  

I reckon {Bruno Mars 2018 hit song} is a valid, more current, clue for FINESSE. Woulda been a WTF (What the Finesse) answer, in an M&A solvequest, tho. Not a great idea, to have WTF answers in a MonPuz.

In a MonPuz, timeline-neutral answers like QTIP are better bets to be all-inclusive. That, plus the need for non-feisty clues, can make MonPuzs seem a bit on the bland side of Mars, I suppose. That's where the puztheme sparkle, and the longball answer sparkle, becomes crucial.

Thought the theme here was just fine. "Types of cart" ain't rocket science, but at least it's based on a web-based reveal, sooo … has some sparkle, therein. Types of cart. OK. Don't need a CRASH CART, to resuscitate the solvers.

Thought the fillins were very solid. Best desperation moments were limited, but nice: ETH [staff weeject pick]. QTR. Maybe UNAGI. Sparkle was somewhat limited, but this often occurs sorta at the mercy of the crossword gods. Admired SOLARPANEL and PONZI and CAPRIPANTS and FINESSE and PASTEUR. Don't see them answers every day.

fave moo-cow eazy-E MonPuz clue: {Unit of electrical resistance} = OHM. Wisely chosen. Timelier, WTF clue: {Rock/jazz fusion music group} = OHM.

Thanx for the MonFun, Kathy Wienberg darlin.
Thanx for the sub, Mr. Amos. Just enough beef to keep us goin without a @RP fix.

Masked & Anonymo5Us

Joseph Michael 11:49 AM  

An OK Monday puzzle. Liked the revealer well enough and thought the fill was pretty solid. Would have liked a few clues that weren’t quite so boring. “Speed reader” for RADAR was the best of the lot.

However, SHOPPING as a themer feels off since ADD TO CART already refers to shopping cart. Would have preferred an entry more consistent with the other themers, such as one incorporating DONKEY, LAUNDRY, PASTRY, PONY, DELIVERY, BAGGAGE or some other kind of nonshopping cart.

Nit: A TOE *can* be stubbed, but doesn’t automatically come stubbed, as the clue suggests.

Hartley70 12:07 PM  

Those fancy schmancy CAPRIPANTS, or those cutesy Cape Cod "clamdiggers", will always be pedal pushers to me!

I like giving kudos to a Kathy and nice job to you! This is a nifty little Monday that nearly tripped me up with UNAGI. Never touch the stuff, personally. I prefer a PB&J when I'm pushing the pedals on my Schwinn.

Joe Bleaux 12:12 PM  

Lewis, you got me started on alphadoppletottery, and when I ran into that cluster in SW, I started jottin' em down. I thought I'd finished with FREE and TEEN, over in the SE. But no! It took me another two or thrEE scans before I spotted ISEE over there by its lonesome. Now my total jibes with yours, which I knew had to be right, and I can get on with my day. Whee.

sanfranman59 12:30 PM  

@Big Steve 46 ... Yup, I've got a spreadsheet of all my crossword solves of about the past 10 years. And it's not just the NYT. I started with USAToday, CrosSynergy and Universal puzzles. Now I do the LAT, Newsday and WSJ daily in addition to the NYT. I'm a numbers guy with a passion for words, a statistician by trade and tend to turn games into competitions. For as long as I can remember, I've turned things into math problems in my head. A tad OCD and nerdish perhaps, but it's what I do. Thanks for your interest.

sanfranman59 12:41 PM  

@nancy, @kitshef, @GILL ... Have you had Frenet-Branca bitters? I think that's the worst thing I've ever INGESTed, but I've not yet subjected myself to OUZO that I can recall (not even on my Greek Isles cruise out of Kuşadası in '98). But a shot of straight tequila was once a favorite head-clearer of mine.

Anonymous 12:49 PM  

You misunderstood the clue.

GILL I. 1:40 PM  

@sanfranman....Yikes that crud has rhubarb in it.....!!!! It gets sent right into the Jagermeister garbage as well. I want my herbs in my chicken...not my booze!

Anoa Bob 3:13 PM  

I've seen tequila consumed in several ways. Like Gill I. says, the primo tequila is super smooth and should never be mixed but rather sipped to savor its goodness. (I do prefer using a shot glass, though, even for the top-notch stuff. I still sip.)

The more run-of-the-mill stuff is still pretty good, I think, but does benefit from mixing it with other ingredients, such as happens with margaritas.

I'm not a big margarita fan, so my go-to method would be to first sprinkle a little salt on the back of my hand. Then throw down a shot of tequila. Then bite and suck on a wedge of lime. I'd follow that by licking some salt off the back of my hand. All that and a little tongue swishing and some slow, deliberate breathing makes for a fine gustatory and olfactory experience if you ask me. Plus you get a happy buzz.

I'm mostly a beer hound, though.


Teedmn 3:18 PM  

OUZO has never passed my lips, nor do I drink Jagermeister or any anise or licorice flavored liquor. So the worst I've tasted was sake (tasted the way the degreaser in the metal shop smelled) and grappa, in the Italian alps. The grappa was offered to us gratis by the restaurant owner. I think he knew it was awful and wanted to get rid of it. My mistake was to decide the grappa-soaked fruit in the bottom of the glass would taste better. Nearly died. Someone declined to drink theirs so the table of us did paper, scissors, rock and the loser had to drink it, similar to @kitshef's idea that "no ouzo" would be first prize. It came down to Kevin and Sonya - Sonya lost but was so dismayed that Kevin agreed to eat the fruit if she would drink the shot. Kevin nearly died. Ugh.

This was a fun little puzzle. SNAFU always makes me smile. My boss in the late 70's, at a small community newspaper, would use the term. I finally asked her if she knew what it stood for - she didn't.

Thanks, Kathy Weinberg, for not upsetting the APPLE cart on a Monday.

Anonymous 4:45 PM  

@Drgene: it is ridiculous to say that one should not criticize something because s/he can't do it better themselves. So because you can't write music/play an instrument or architect a house, you have to love every song ever written and every house ever built? If criticism offends you then maybe you should stop going on the internet.

Nancy 5:18 PM  

@GILL -- I never said my friend Dick drank the Tequila in one gulp (he didn't; he sipped and savored it through the salt on the rim, heaven help us all.) I also doubt it was anywhere near the best Tequila. But I can tell enough about Tequila that even the best Tequila is not going to be my favorite quaff. I've had cheapish rum -- which told me enough to let me know that I'd really like the best rum a lot more, and I do. Same with Scotch and Vodka and Gin and Rye. The best is better, but I can always make do when required.

It reminds me of my Dick's comment about a male friend of his who was more than a bit of a lush. They were in a restaurant, a small amount of wine was poured, and the wine steward asked his friend to taste it. "How is it?" asked Dick. "B-a-a-a-a-a-d," said the friend. A short pause. "But not undrinkable."

jberg 5:20 PM  

Hi, everybody! Back from a puzzle-less week in DC, and happy to be here.

The only problem with the theme is that there is something called a "GARDEN cart" It's what you use to haul compost or mulch out to where it's needed, or to throw weeds into as you pull them. Maybe they have STRUDEL carts in Austrian shopping malls? Otherwise, it's a flaw.

Aside from that, a nice enough puzzle. I men, HEATHs are an actual kind of plant, but I guess you can also use it to refer to an area where it and similar plants are growing, as in The Hound of the Baskervilles, or Sense and Sensibility. Anyway, it's a crossword (see FINESSE).

kitshef 5:42 PM  

Quite a collection of bad drinks to choose from today. For some reason Teedmn's tale really makes me want to try grappa.

I'll add one more - toka gasy. From the blue ventures blog: "It should carefully be noted at this point that toka gasy is largely indistinguishable from petrol, it burns at about the same rate, smells the same, is about as equally as damaging to your insides, yet cost about 20 times less, making it even more nasty. One glass of the stuff will ensure the worst hangover you’ve ever had".

Yes, I've had it. And it's still better than OUZO.

Mr. Met 8:05 PM  

It is Buttercooky bakery located in Floral Park, Nassau County.

Big Steve 46 8:53 PM  

Well, sanfranman59, that's pretty amazing and quite an accomplishment - far, far beyond my sorry talents. I think the word "nerd" was inappropriate - and seemingly inaccurate - and I humbly apologize. Anyway, if you're a nerd, I am a classic old fart: getting my daily crossword in the printed NY Times delivered each morning to my doorstep (or somewhere in that vicinity, depending on the accuracy and arm strength of the deliverer that particular morning.) I save the puzzle for a quiet time, with a fresh pot of coffee and a felt tip pen at the ready and attack methodically and slowly, if not, actually, languidly. It would not occur to me to time myself. Most mornings, I would have trouble finding my wrist watch or remembering when I started - or finished.

You keep the record keeping going and I'll grease the rockers on my rocking chair - and may the good Lord bless the both of us!

Jason 10:11 PM  

Only knew UNAGI from "Friends" - The One With The Unagi

TJS 10:51 AM  

A day late, but I would nominate Malort, an "herbal liquer" as the worst alcoholic drink ever. You cannot get the taste off your tongue for hours, no matter what you follow up with in desperation. Owned a bar at one time, and a regular I inherited had me order a few bottles. One month later, he moved away. Never sold another shot of the stuff by the time I sold out 5 years later.

Ian 10:56 PM  

Yes finesse is anything but risky if you play to the cards.

thefogman 10:17 AM  

Sometimes you need a little FINESSE sometimes you need a lot.
Good start to the week. Well done Kathy Wienberg.

thefogman 10:24 AM  


Malört: The Most Disgusting Liquor of All Time

spacecraft 11:14 AM  

I must take the guest blogger to task. FINESSE, thus bridge, is dated?? So last century?? I don't get that. The game is as popular now as it ever was. Go to a TOURNAMENT sometime and see.

Starting in the NW/N, it seemed as though the constructor was on a bent to set a Scrabble score record, or at least create a pangram (alas, no J). That effort petered out. It was all so easy...but one (NON!)word stood out like a sore thumb: UNAGI. Thankfully, this beast was locked in by crosses.

Theme, revealer and long fill are fine. There are even a couple of ? clues--still not enough to move the needle off easy. I guess it's a pretty typical Monday. RENEE Zellweger does nicely for DOD. Par--which is not going to win many GOLFTOURNAMENTS.

Burma Shave 11:52 AM  


The TRAMP had a SNAFU, DEAR me,PREY tell, ISEE it's his TOE,
ONO, he will DYE who TOYs with an UZI while INGESTing OUZO.


leftcoastTAM 1:08 PM  

An unlikely foursome: FIFI, UZI, UNAGI, and PONZI. Compelling start to the week.

Diana,LIW 1:47 PM  

If bridge is old, what about crosswords? And crossword tournaments. Which I have attended this century. With bated breath at the outcome.

Speaking of bait, this puzzle pulled me in for a Monday. Solved it almost completely with downs. Good Monday fun.

@Lefty - not sure what to say about that foursome - don't plan to play golf with them. Especially PONZI - he cheats on his score card. And don't ever argue with UZI.

Diana, 631, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

leftcoasTAM 3:01 PM  

@Diana -- As for PONZI and UZI, I'll stuff them with UNAGI and sic FIFI on them.

rondo 7:02 PM  

Musta been a Monday A.M. brain haze not understanding ADDTOCART right off. Plus, I finished it during pre-seminar fruit and rolls time, so not much time to consider it. And I did have HEdge before HEATH, so it wasn't all clean.

SHOPPINGLIST. Huh. After the seminar the missus and I went looking for kitchen appliances. The difference between what I coulda settled for and the paperwork we walked out with is like the diff between a McPie and APPLESTRUDEL Talk about ADDTOCART . . . (apfelstrudel is my preferred spelling, and how Sgt. Schultz would say it).

Cheech & Chong bit: Eh, FIFI, FIFI, parle vous a humma humma?

Don't walk away RENEE, yeah baby.

Not PROUD of the w/o, but this puz will ELICIT an OK.

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