Indian flatbread / TUE 8-28-18 / Vittles / Be in a dither / Hockey feints

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Happy Tuesday, everyone! It's Clare again for the last Tuesday of the month as August comes to a close (summer, too, unfortunately). I'm currently in DC suffering in hot and humid weather while trying to get the hang of law school. It's just my second week, and there's already tons of reading for each class. I've yet to be cold called in class, but I know that moment is coming.

Constructor: Brian Thomas 

Relative difficulty: Moderately difficult for a Tuesday

THEME: BACKCHANNEL (60A: Covert means of communication ... or what's hiding in the circled letters?) — Circled letters in the puzzle that when read backward are television channels

Theme answers:

  • WAXONWAXOFF (17A: Teaching catchphrase popularized by "The Karate Kid")
  • ZIPLOCBAG (21A: Resealable container for chips or cheese)
  • GLENNCLOSE (32A: Portrayer of Cruella de Vil in 1996's "101 Dalmatians")
  • USBCHARGER (44A: Connection point for a smartphone cable)
  • JOBHUNTER (52A: One using
Word of the day: ANUBIS (47D: Wolf-headed Egyptian god)

Anubis is the Greek name of a god associated with mummification and the afterlife in ancient Egyptian religion, usually depicted as a canine or a man with a canine head. Archeologists have identified Anubis's sacred animal as an Egyptian canid, the African golden wolf. (Wikipedia)

• • •
As a theme, the idea of a BACKCHANNEL is clever. But the theme didn't help me to solve any of the puzzle besides giving me the "b" in JOBHUNTER, so I didn't notice the theme until I got to the snappy revealer. A few of those answers felt meh: JOBHUNTER, ZIPLOCBAG, and USBCHARGER aren't very exciting. (I had no idea people used that term, anyway. USB port, USB cable, sure, but a charger?)

None of the fill was too taxing but also didn't feel that exciting. A few answers stood out to me as particularly uninteresting. 38A: Customize, as a video game as MOD seems off and a bit obscure. From a preliminary Wikipedia search, MOD seems to be short for modification, which would make MOD a noun and not a verb, like the clue leads you to believe. 11A: Misbehaving as BAD feels off, too. A parent might say, "My child is misbehaving" but probably wouldn't say, "My child is bad." The parent would say, "My child is being bad." As for 9D: Hilarious, briefly, I can once again assure you all that no one says/writes ROFL anymore. 39A: She reads the signs: SEERESS seems like a forced way to get a lot of e's and s's in there. (The only thing I can think of when I see "seer" is Professor Trelawney in Harry Potter).


  • As a Despicable Me fan, I was happy to see GRU make an appearance at 41A: Animated movie villain with Minions. But the clue isn't quite right. GRU is sometimes villainous but he always ends up saving the day.
  • Mental block: I can never seem to remember whether ORC is spelled with a "c" or a "k."
  • Two of the clues/answers got me to crack a smile: 40D: Makes the cut as SAWS and 3D: Prepares to go on the runway as TAXI (for the sole reason that I couldn't think at first of anything other than a model preparing to go down a runway).
  • 47A: Wolf-headed Egyptian god: ANUBIS and 26A: Jean who wrote "Wide Sargasso Sea": RHYS on a Tuesday felt obscure.
  • When I saw 20A: Spot for a yacht, I immediately thought MARINA, but that obviously isn't four letters long. I was then pleasantly surprised to find that clue again for 27A, this time with enough spaces to fit MARINA.

With that, I leave you! I'm off to reread cases for class for the fourth time like the professors tell us to. That first cold call may be coming tomorrow.

Signed, Clare Carroll, a GW 1L

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


TomAz 1:03 AM  

Clare described it perfectly.

Backwards TV channels, meh. (They're all backwards, in my opinion). ANUBIS and RHYS, meh. Two places for a yacht, meh. a SALON, a WIFE, a SEERESS, meh. WAX ON WAX OFF is the only redeeming feature here.


Mark 1:14 AM  

"MOD" is definitely both noun and verb in the video game modification (modding) community. Here's a representative sentence from the Wikipedia entry: "[There was] a worry that newbie modders would not be able to stand on the shoulders of giants by modding pre-existing mods, and that mod teams would become unworkable." TMYK.

Couldn't agree more about SEERESS, a dreadful word. Thanks for the tip on ROFL! And I can't remember seeing OTOE before (I've only been on my latest solving binge for a few months); looking at it, it looks like one to remember! Thanks for the review.

Monty Boy 1:17 AM  

Nice when Clare STOPSIN for a chat. We SEEOUT the 1L off to class. Thanks for the write up,

Inquiring minds want to know:

Will LMS (or someone) come up with a clever comment on the WAXONWAXOFF BRA SLIP SALON comb?.

I'm not a foodie so I ask: Do you EAT SOYS from a ZIPLOCBAG?

Do Minions yell GRU TEAM GRU at sporting events?

Are BOBBYRIGGS British police cars?

I did like the puzzle. Some stuff I knew but my fading memory needed a push which I got from the crosses. Not too much xwordese, so a delightful puzzle.

Larry Gilstrap 1:24 AM  

Trying to remain upbeat here, but this Tuesday effort was not smooth for this solver. Too much of the fill seemed strained, or just stuff I have no desire to know. As Clare pointed out, USB CHARGER is exhibit A. Wouldn't FOX, CNN, and CBS be considered networks? I turn to CHANNEL 7 at about 11:15 pm for Dagmar's weather report, before I chose either Jimmy, Jimmy, or Stephen for final shavasana.

SOYS is a plural of that bean in some worlds, I assume.

So, we've settled on NAAN as the standard spelling of the Indian bread? Making a mental note of that.

The early 70s brought us that spectacular Battle of the Sexes featuring a washed-up has-been, BOBBY RIGGS, and a true champion, Billy Jean King, in a highly publicized match that proved nothing. I hear the recent movie delved into the nuanced nonsense of the whole affair. Had he won, would women have slunk back to their place of subservience? That's a joke, son.

Harryp 1:54 AM  

Might be hard for beginners, but easy enough not to have to figure out the Theme. Good stuff.

Don From Accounting 2:08 AM  

This was kind of a strange Tuesday puzzle, I mean there are some wierd words in here. Like MWAH and ANUBIS, which I kinda shoulda known, but I didn't, so I had JOBWANTER, which I thought was a very stupid answer and in fact it was because it was wrong. I normally don't mind old-timey answers but this was cutting it with IKE and POTSIE and NOKIA and BARD and DOEST and BOBBYfreakinRIGGS fer cryin' out loud. I thought of all the poor millennials doing this puzzle and trying to figure out those words and they can't! They have no idea! They should learn JIVE though and use it and call someone a "jive turkey" and all their friends will be impressed. DRAG and WIFE can be clued about thousand ways each but this constructor was swinging for the rainbow! If Portia is the WIFE, does that mean Ellen has to unclog the disposal and take the garbage cans out to the street? I only know lesbians from porno movies and they never show that part. Did anyone else have SPORTSBAR before SPORTSBRA? That combo made me think of Hooters for some reason. They make a pretty good bacon cheeseburger, and I think that one waitress really likes me. Oh and let's not forget SOYS; is that like our friend KALES? I had SOYA which I think is correct but I guess I really don't care anymore. I'm going to go get a smoothie.

Unknown 2:20 AM  

@Don from Accounting--you always make my day! Don't want to offend, but are you also John XXX?

chefwen 2:39 AM  

Hand up for Sports Bar, shows my preferences.

Pretty tough for a Tuesday. I was tempted to cheat a little, but I just can’t do that on a Tuesday, so I persevered and was able to finish. I don’t time myself, if I did I would be very disappointed in today’s performance.

Off to the sports BAR for a cold one.

Loren Muse Smith 3:02 AM  

I played around once with BACK PAY (CANDY APPLE…) , BACK FIRE (THE RIFLEMAN…), and BACK TRACK (MILK CARTON…). Got nowhere fast and abandoned all thinking to watch my much-maligned, go-to channel, Bravo. Can’t work that puppy in backwards. PAVLOV ARBITRATES DOG DISPUTE.

This is a much better idea with a great reveal. I always notice when themers are stacked. I bet Brian thanked his lucky stars for ROFL and TCBY.

“Australia’s national gem – Chris Brown. I love any vet show that I can get little tidbits from to try to impress my daughter.

@Don From Accounting, @chefwen - I had sports “bar” first, too. @Monty boy – hah! Nice catch on those!

@Puzzled Dave (thanks, man) - look at the top of the the Rex homepage, and right above the big “Rex” you’ll see “Syndicated Puzzle.” If you click on that, it’ll take you to August 19th puzzle, and you’ll find lots of comments from “Syndiland.” @Z can probably explain it better.

I wonder back when we were moving from DOEST to does, did purists get their panties in a wad about the change? Was does the ain’t of that century? Did the smart people say this was just “lazy English?” Yesterday, I was arguing (for the bajillionth time) with a long-term English sub at school, this time about whether or not a sentence can have an indirect object without a stated direct object. He said absolutely not. I gave the example

I can’t go out tonight; I have to write my pen pal.

Pen pal is an indirect object. After he tried to argue that it was a direct object, he switched and said it should be I have to write to my pen pal and that my example is just “lazy English.” Sigh. Hadn’t I been over this with him already? Was he not taking notes? (When I stirred the pot with the singular they, it got heated, awkwardly so, and I’m not making that up.)

Nice job, Brian. Love the word RETINUE. I’d love to be a fancy famous person with a fawning retinue.

Anonymous 3:04 AM  

A female seer is a seer, not a SEERESS.

jae 3:27 AM  

Medium although probably tougher for a @harryp beginner. Cute, liked it.

@Mark - definitely commit OTOE to memory. They are a very popular tribe.

HiHoAg 6:05 AM  

B+ an ion? B = Boron & as far as I know it does not form a single positively charged ion. Tomorrow we'll have A+ from Argon. Anyhow, F- works....

Pete S 6:15 AM  

While I'm quite content with MOD being verb, it makes me wonder whether we're going to see more video gaming esoterica entering word lists, especially from younger constructors. Lord knows it's nice to have a pool of potentially tricky answers I mostly know already (baseball clues on the other hand..), but more generally I can't help but feel it's a subject matter that, for now, skews heavily male. Obviously we can all delight in the discovery of strange new things constructors throw our way, but without a diversity of voices (and editors) those barriers of vocabulary, taken collectively, can serve to exclude more than they challenge.

W. Paley 6:17 AM  

CCN and HBO are channels.

FOX, ABC and CBS are networks.

Channels and networks are very different and distinct things, both in fact and in law.

Lewis 6:25 AM  

I enjoyed this. Roll the credits for Brian for:
* Pulling a theme out of the air that you'd think would have been found long before this. Makes me think there is a trove of many more out there waiting to be plucked.
* Some lovely longs -- WAX ON WAX OFF (NYT debut), BACK CHANNEL (NYT debut), and RED AS A BEET.
* A sweet mini theme of APATOW / OTOE / I DUNNO / NATO / AZO / ANNO / EURO.
* Giving me my CLOD (crossword lesson of the day): I've heard of "wax on wax off" as recently as this week but wasn't motivated to research its meaning, but I did after this puzzle, and it was a worthwhile lesson.

NBC, I'm thinking you're feeling left out here, but I just don't think there's a phrase for you.

Anonymous 6:37 AM  

@LMS, just because you don’t say the “to” doesn’t mean it’s not there, for parsing purposes, in cute little square brackets. Your colleague was right to think of it. OTOH there is also an implied [a letter] which is the DO (if I have that right this far past middle school), so ain’t we got fun.

I liked the theme and the way it was, for me anyway, not guessable but perfectly obvious after the revealer. Puzzles that have to be solved like themelesses and only later understood as themed are really fun.

I thought OFL would be offended by the caucasocentricity of REDASABEET.

Anonymous 7:08 AM  

NBC backwards is CBN, Pat Robertson's Christian Broadcasting Network. Praise Jeeshus!

Anonymous 7:11 AM  

Clare did write up today.

michiganman 7:17 AM  

The theme was good. Had no idea until I read the revealer clue. The rest was dreck, much of which has already been cited. DEKES and LACEUP are far from hockey specific. A feint or deke is present in many sports. Anyone doing anything while wearing shoes that tie, laces up. I LACEUP to take out the garbage.

kitshef 7:39 AM  

For anyone who thought Anubis was jackal-headed (as I did), it turns out it only used to be so. The African golden wolf was split out from the golden jackal as a separate species only in 2015.

Hungry Mother 7:53 AM  

Played hard here. I saw a documentary about the great Billie Jean King just about a year ago, but I had a bit of trouble remembering the annoying BOBBYRIGGS. I remember how disappointed I was with the outcome of the actual match which I watched on TV.

tb 7:54 AM  

@LMS In the sentence "I have to write my pen pal a letter" is "a letter" the direct object? I thought I understood objects, but apparently I don't.

Joe 7:54 AM  

@Don From Accounting - Portia is _a_ wife, not _the_ wife. There are two wives in that marriage. You should get to know some lesbians, they're good people just like the rest of us, living ordinary lives, having the usual variety of roles in and out of the house, and sometimes defying societal gender norms just as much as some heterosexual people do while other times matching them just as much as some heterosexual people do.

Suzie Q 8:00 AM  

I remember the hype before that tennis match but did not watch it because I had no idea who Bobby Riggs was and only a vague notion about Billy Jean King. Cool idea that had the potential to be fun but I guess no serious players were interested.
I really wanted to like this puzzle but it was a real stinker.
I just was curious to see how @ Lewis put a positive spin on it.
Also, is it auras or aurae? Not knowing the author made a real potential DNF. Is it Rhye or Rhys?
Gru??? Is that really famous enough to be in the grid?
Is there a truly correct way to spell Eww? Not knowing 14A made that crossing a coin toss.
Sorry Mr. Thomas but no joy today.

Glutton 8:01 AM  

What’s a pride parade and what are they proud of ?

Anonymous 8:05 AM  

Worst puzzle ever.

Anonymous 8:09 AM  

I find the clue on JIVE racist. Jive is a particular variety of English most associated with African American musicians:

So, to clue JIVE as "Nonsense talk" is plainly racist.

Note that the fact that dictionaries may include secondary entries with such definitions does not change this, anymore than the "secondary" definition for JEW makes it less anti-semitic.

RAD2626 8:15 AM  

Actually they are all networks. In fact CNN stands for Cable News Network. But they each occupy a channel on your cable box so what the heck. A little literary license never hurt anyone. Fairly thin theme however. Would like to see HGTV backward.

FOnzIE before POTSIE and UTes before OTOE but otherwise smooth sailing.

Mickey Bell 8:17 AM  

Why does everyone complain about the heat? It’ll be freezing soon enough. Spring and fall each give us about three weeks of 60-70 degree weather. When it comes to summer, let ITBE.

I say cheers to short shorts and tall glasses in the sun.

I had a quick Tuesday here and the theme did help me with two of the solutions. Enjoyable, tricky, not to easy Tuesday stuff.

Hungry Mother 8:21 AM  

My face is REDASABEET as I realize that I forgot who won the Battle of the Sexes. Last year on the Sunday of Labor Day weekend, I ran the Labor Pain 12 hour endurance race. That night, as I sat in my motel room, brain-fried and pain-wracked, I watched the movie. Some memories were MODed in my brain, I guess. Lucky me, I run Labor Pain again this Sunday.

Unknown 8:32 AM  

Would have loved to see Rex destroy this horrible puzzle in a scathing review. APATOW?? POTSIE?? RHYS?? This would barely be acceptable on a Friday. EWW.

Anonymous 8:37 AM  

CNN, FOX, ABC, CBS, and HBO are networks, not channels. I’m usually a defender of Will Shortz, but when the revealer doesn’t work you have to scrap it. Epic fail.

howard a. brenner 8:37 AM  


mmorgan 8:41 AM  

Most of this was just fine but the North Central was a train wreck (on a Tuesday!), as I know less than nothing about The Karate Kid and struggled to death with the second part of the "catchphrase" -- even with WAXONW____ in place, I just came up blank for 7D, 8D, and 9D so I couldn't get it from crosses. Horrors!

I enjoy the guest bloggers (and good luck with your studies, Clare!), but I always wonder what Rex would say when he's not here.

Gulliver Foyle 8:44 AM  

Got it done without a hitch, which makes it a good puzzle in my book.

Good luck, Clare. I survived law school forty years ago, and I'm sure you will too.

Wally 8:48 AM  

@Don, Thought I spotted your work recently but couldn't be sure. Not sure it's you today. If it is, let's do lunch at the buffet. It's Hungarian day. I brought a coupla ziplocs from home so we can sneak out some stuffed cabbage.

The wax on wax off clue was good, my mantra when I'm having my chest done. Just keep my eyes closed and say it to myself over and over again til it's done with. Painful but the little woman likes it.

Do people stop in anymore? Don't think so. Jive turkeys are all t'home staring at their computers.

Anonymous 8:50 AM  

Either way it's terrible fill.

exclamation: eww
used to express disgust or distaste.

Eew - definition of Eew by The Free Dictionary

To excite nausea or loathing in; sicken. 2. To offend the taste or moral sense of; repel. n. Profound dislike or annoyance caused by something sickening or offensive.

Nancy 8:51 AM  

DNF on a Tuesday. Can there be anything more ignominious? Well, when a puzzle is filled with a lot of arcane trivia way outside one's wheelhouse, not really. And considering there were a zillion things I didn't know, the fact that I only whiffed on three intersecting ones is, I suppose, a minor victory of sorts.

I didn't know the Egyptian god (47D), nor the soft-serve chain (54D), nor the edamame beans (67A), nor what in the world "" is (52A). Does sound like a place you'd go to hunt for a job???? Me neither. Doubt I'd want any job I'd find there. I ran the alphabet to get NATO alphabet (53D) from -AT-. I think I did more running of the alphabet (not the NATO one) in this puzzle than I've ever done before.

Because I couldn't get gOEST out of my mind (50A), I had gEKES at 50D. (Don't ask.) Now why didn't I run the alphabet there????

And let's not even talk about WEXONWAXOFF. It came in through the crosses, but I don't have to like it.

Still, given a choice between a tough, often frustrating puzzle filled with info way outside my wheelhouse and the kind of Tuesday puzzle that can be done on automatic pilot, I'll take this kind of puzzle every time.

Sir Hillary 8:58 AM  

OK, nice theme with excellent theme entries, but lots of obscure junk for a Tuesday.

@LMS, could Russian tea be SAMOVARBREW? Maybe Pavlov arbitrarily drank some?

Andrew Heinegg 9:04 AM  

Wait, you do have a fawning retinue. They are just not an in-person fawning retinue. As for being famous in the current era, be careful what you wish for. That is, unless you cotton to the idea of the press pushing up against one another to see/hear the results of your most recent colonoscopy.

Nancy 9:07 AM  

I love you, too, @Don from Accounting. I always ROFL when I read your comments. Even though I think ROFL is a RWTEO (ridiculous way to express oneself). Anyway, come around more often, please, @Don. You have a nifty and original way of looking at things. My fave today? "...and they never show that part."

I also agree that SOYS is not a thing. That's why I couldn't answer 67A.

My comment hasn't appeared yet, but I think I had a typo: WEXON instead of WAXON.

Pete 9:13 AM  

@Kitshef - It was only in 2015 that DNA evidence supported the centuries old supposition that the African Golden wolf was not the golden jackal.

Also it was not until 2015 that DNA evidence confirmed that neanderthals had interbred with homo sapiens. I know that back in 1965 by walking around, looking at and listening to people. DNA confirmation is not discovery.

chefbea 9:18 AM  

Running late today!! Have no idea what back channel is - but I certainly know what Red as a beet is!!!

Linda Vale 9:20 AM  

The indoctrination continues with the clues for 13D and 35A. Completely JIVE. No other reason to clue these in this manner.

'merican in Paris 9:32 AM  

Welcome back, Clare. You are right to be concerned about being called upon in class. I took only one law class in graduate school (environmental law), and the prof was withering if she called upon a student who clearly hadn't read the assigned cases. Speaking of cases, I'd be curious to know if you are seeing legal texts use the ambiguous slash ( / ) these days. Or are the judges still using real punctuation and conjunctions?

@LMS: There is no ambiguity or confusion created by going from DOEST to DOES, so to me it does not offer a good example for purist-bashing. (Nothing ambiguous about "ain't" either.) I don't know to which circle of Hell you consign grammar and spelling "purists" but, as for me, my biggest concern is ambiguity. I'd be very happy to see a rationalization of spelling ... as long as, of course, it doesn't cause further confusion.

As for the puzzle itself, it definitely played moderately difficult for me. POTSIE stacked on APATOW was rough, as well as ANUBIS, intersecting SOYS, and TCBY. As somebody living abroad, TCBY might as well be Chinese for all I know.

And I agree that SEERESS is just awful.

In the Michigan area I was tripped up by "Lear" before BARD. Nice misdirect there. BOX IN was refreshing.

I expressed a squeak of delight at AZO dye. It was unexpected, so I didn't get it immediately. But I know it well, having written a case study 17 years ago on how the EURO area had banned the use of most AZO dyes (which had been invented in Germany in the 19th century), and the importation of material containing them, and the knock-on effect that ban had on exporters of clothing dyed in India.


lmdm 9:44 AM  

Don't any of those commenting here watch SBP? It's really not non-commercial anymore, especially if you recognize self-promos for the ads that they are.

Anonymous 9:46 AM  

Good point @ Linda Vale.

Anonymous 9:46 AM  

One of many hilarious scenes in "Airplane" involved Barbara Billingsley (June Cleaver) interpreting JIVE
to the stewardess.

Anonymous 9:48 AM  

or EEW

Anonymous 9:50 AM  

Who didn't put in BAR before BRA?

These days when you are home with friends or family and someone asks "what channel is that on?" the answer is more likely HBO, NBC, or CBS, etc. You don't give out the number of the station. Give the constructor and editor a break.

It seems to me that every time the Pride parade is clued it has to do with DRAG. Enough already. There are millions of people who attend these events who don't go in drag. Several of them are nude.

I did not know Ellen was married, so I was thinking PORTIA was a role. As in Shakespeare.

Cassandra is often described as a "seeress" -- it's a legitimate word.


GILL I. 9:55 AM  

Oh good gravy. Hardest Tuesday since the 1970's when BOBBY RIGGS rode in on his rickshaw. @Nancy wrote everything I would have said but was afraid to. A DNF on Tuesday? EWW. Should I look up TCBY? Is it worth my effort? Is SHALT a Biblical verb? Dang...
Speaking of...@Loren, I'm a cretin when it comes to proper English but "I have to write my pen pal" is just screaming for a "to" in there. Am I wrong again?
Anyway....I actually thought this was a pretty nifty puzzle. A tad off-putting with all those names - many not known to moi. Why did I want BOBBY to be Fisher? Why wasn't Richie and Ralph friends with Fonzie? Who is RHYS? I don't know my Portia's and didn't know she was Ellen's wife. Good for her. Good for including DRAG and SWAPS and FRET and all that stuff. I liked WAX ON WAX OFF. You men who have your chest done, you should try it on your upper lip. It'll make your ANNO pucker.
@Puzzle Dan 12:17 from yesterday. Welcome. Pull up a chair and join the crowd. I used to be a Syndi. You have lots of company back in the dark ages. I read them all because my computer tells me there are messages. I hope @Z chimes in. He knows all about those things.
@Dan from Accounting. Hand up for the unused ROFL. I love a good chuckle in the morning.
Good luck @Clare. Would you work for a firm named POTSIE, APATOW and GRU?

Unknown 10:06 AM  

Liked everything about this puzzle, the theme, the clues, everything, EXCEPT seeress - yuk.

RooMonster 10:15 AM  

Hey All !
OHSHUCKS, this was a decent TuesPuz. We all know Tuesdays are the @M&As U and my F of puzs. No respect. DOEST that maketh them inherently bad? I DUNNO. Let's not FRET over it.

Enjoyed this BACKward romp. You can BACK-isize PAWS TEAM into SWAP MEAT, so there's that. A gripe about AZO dye, though. Yikes. Had tie there first. It was neat to see the phrases that have BACKwards CHANNELs/networks/TVspots/whatever in them. No JIVE, those.

@Puzzled Dave late yesterday (early today?)
You are in Syndiland, my friend. The Daily Puzs are 5 weeks behind when they are originally run, and the SunPuz is 1 week behind. If you need an answer to a burning question you have, it's best to come to the days blog early to ask your question. Rex 8 out of 10 times posts his daily blog at 12:00A Eastern, which is 9:00P Pacific. So you would be amongst the first ones to comment. There are lots of people here with great memories (I'm not one of them, however) who could answer a question about the SyndiPuz. Heck, some people even keep track of such things. I AMS here to help. :-)

3 F's. TERFic. :-P


Unknown 10:17 AM  

Ok, most boring theme ever. Channels or networks, who cares? Backwards or not, who cares? No need to figure out theme to do puzzle, so no zip there. Best: WAX ON WAX OFF, GRU, clueing for WIFE. Worst: um, most of it? Ok, SEERESS wins. Just abolish the ESS, the nonexistent plurals never seen in life, and any grid with 10 3-letter words for no grand payoff.

Amelia 10:31 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
jberg 10:39 AM  

SOYa before SOYS, STOPS by before IN (In my mind, one drops in but stops by), but I enjoyed the puzzle. Saved from SPORTS Bar because I had DRAG already.

When my son was about 14, he decided to get one ear pierced for an earring. OTOE, nothing.

@Loren, I don't think DOEST become does-- it went from thou DOEST to you do. Does replaced doth -- at least, that's how I remember it from my youth. How doth the little crocodile improve each shining scale." Funny that we think of such words as "Biblical," when what we really mean is "Jacobean."

I was surprised many found Jean RHYS obscure -- but looking her up, I wee that Wide Sargasso Sea was published about 20 years before I thought it had been. It was a big hit at the time.

By the way, Loren, your avatar is kind of double edged today, given very recent news.

TJS 10:47 AM  

Okay, I gotta go full mental on this one:
Of the first 15 Acrosses, 13 are either clued with proper nouns or answered with proper nouns. If that isnt TV Guide worthy, what is ?
We got eww, we got rofl,we got mod, we got mwah, we got iams and tcby.
We have an animated movie villain, and a voice contributor described as a portrayer, more than one soy bean are soys, and "I Like Ike" masquerading as "we like ike".
We have references to Battle of the Sexes, Pride Parade, Ellens wife. So I guess two themes in one.
Whew, I feel better now. But I'm wondering if there's any chance Rex would have savaged this one. Nah.

ghostoflectricity 10:53 AM  

Silly theme and far too difficult for a Tuesday. Was able to solve but had a near-natick with "dekes" crossed with "doest." That simply should not happen on a Tuesday. "Azo," "Anubis," "Rhys" (I almost wrote "RIIS," confusing the leftist-reformist early 20th century journalist with the novelist), and others simply don't belong in a Tuesday. An unenjoyable slog all the way through with an annoyed feeling of "that's IT?!" when the revealer came.

Unknown 11:05 AM  

I enjoyed POTSIE, APATOW, and RHYS - sign me up for the center of whatever that Venn diagram might be. No idea, however, what AZO dye is. Offended on principle by SEERESS.

Wm. C. 11:06 AM  

@Clare --

Speaking of grad school Cold Calls, how about this one --

I was a first-year enrollee at a well-known northeast Business School using the case method, and usually very responsible about prep. Among other reasons, if a student had to admit non-preparation when called to lead off, the automatic [no exceptions] penalty was a full-grade reduction in what otherwise was earned for the semester. But I also had a half-time job and occasionally (VERY
rarely) would be in a position where I had no time the prior afternoon/evening to prepare.

In those situations, my strategy would be to risk not being called in the 8:30am Finance class, and surreptitiously use that time to do a hasty prep for the 10:30 class, then use that time and lunch to prep for the 1:00pm class. I mean, sheesh, with 80 people in each section, what're the chances I'd be called to lead off at 8:30???

Little did I know that the finance case centered on an important business decision in front of AT&T's CFO ... who happened, unbeknownst to me, of course .. to have same first and last names as me. So there I was, tuned out in the grandstand (the last row in the tiered classroom), when the Prof's voice, droning along until then, raised several decibels ... "SO WHAT SHOULD MR. X {I'm omitting my real name} DO !!!???"

[Heart Attack nearly ensues...]

So he continues ... "Mr. X [me] ... I'll bet you thought I'd lead with you, but since I knew you'd be super-well prepared here and leave no opportunity for your classmates to participate with additional good content, I'm passing on you today.

Gulp! ... Heart rate still at 150 or so, but I'm still alive!

My strongest memory of the two years, decades later! ;-)

Z 11:15 AM  

@Larry Gilstrap - Har!! Guaranteed that tomorrow the four letter answer for “Indian breadS” will be “nans.”

@Puzzle Dave - Well, first, Rex sometimes doesn’t update that syndicated link every day, so sometimes you have to go over to the “Blog Archive” on the right (in the desktop view) and click on the puzzle blog from five weeks ago (or last week if it is a Sunday puzzle) to get the correct blog. Second, there is a small but vibrant group of syndicated solvers who comment on a regular basis. If you solve the day the syndicated puzzle comes out that group is there for pleasant conversation (and the occasional well deserved side eye for the “real-timers). Finally, Blue Commentarians have the option to get all follow-up comments delivered to their email. I know several do, thus getting all follow-ups, even comments on puzzles that are years old.

Z 11:20 AM  

@TJS - What’s odd is that the across answers are so PPP heavy but I only counted six in the down answers. Downs only solvers would have had a very different experience.

Carola 11:27 AM  

Tough Tuesday! And I join @Nancy in the DNF corner (EeW x APATOe). Still, I enjoyed the challenge Nice reveal, the FOX of which I needed to get the unknown-to-me WAX ON WAX OFF. I enjoyed the trio of RHYS, BOBBY RIGGS, and ANUBIS.

Malsdemare 11:30 AM  

I sort of knew POTSIE and APATOW but not how to spell either; wanted POTSey and APATou. Those gave me Yow, which didn’t seem too off. It didn’t help that I had no idea what the line from The Karate Kid was. So DNF here on Tuesday!!!! Some days, when the puzzle fights me to the end, I fear my brain is going to mush. But when, like today, it’s just a failure to know pop culture stuff, I feel a little better.

I do wish the constructor had also included Billie Jean King; that whole match was such a trip. I shall never forget her being borne into the stadium on a Roman throne carried by strapping young warriors. She was as much a showman as her rival, perhaps better as she had a wicked sense of humor.

Nice write-up, Clare. Good luck with your first cold call; what I hear from others is that it never really gets easier; just less scary. NOw to see what Nancy, Loren, et al have to say.

puzzlehoarder 11:36 AM  

This Tuesday came in at a minute over my average Wednesday time. I needed the P of PAWS to come up with POTSIE. I never watched that show. My reading of the 7A clue didn't make me think that the title was referring to Shakespeare himself. I needed the B of BOXIN to see BARD.

There was definitely a pattern of skipping things and then back filling. I needed a few crosses to remember what a farrier is. GRU was the least familiar entry but the crosses we're solid.

There was some tricky material but still it was just a Tuesday.

Joseph Michael 11:57 AM  

I didn’t like this puzzle until after I had solved it and finally saw the backwards part. It made up fot a lot of the aggravation I had experienced trying to figure out all of those proper nouns.

No problem with referring to all of the themers as CHANNELS since it’s common usage to do so. For example, CBS in Chicago is referred to as “channel two” not “network two.”


'merican in Paris 12:33 PM  

From Wikipedia and

AZO dyes are organic compounds bearing the functional group R−N=N−R′, in which R and R′ are usually aryl. They are a commercially important family of AZO compounds -- i.e. compounds containing the linkage C-N=N-C. [C = Carbon; N = Nitrogen]

Dyes "AZO" are the most important chemical class of dyes and colorants in the textile industry, and are used to color natural and synthetic fibers, food, candy, cosmetics and even beverages.

The EU AZO colorants Directive 2002/61/EC restricts 22 AZO colorants (including dyes) in textiles and leather products, mainly because of concerns over their carcinogenetic potential.

Larry 12:36 PM  

I liked the theme since I, somehow, spotted it on the first clue: XOF. Sure Networks are strictley the same as channels but close enough IMHO to allow some interchangeability, especially back in the pre-cable era.

I do all puzzles trying to guess what Rex won't like. I bet he would have objected to the theme as not arranging the networks in alphabetical order. And Drag at a pride parade for something.

Masked and Anonymous 12:37 PM  

Any puztheme shared by USBCHARGER(?) and WAXONWAXOFF(!) is OHS-some with m&e. It's darN PSEudo-classical. And I'll go ahead and take a pass, on MSNBC. [The GOLF channel has nice possibilities, tho.]

@Clare darlin: Primo writeup with the glorious bullets. M&A really disliked bein cold-called on, in any class. If it ever happened to him, M&A always answered with a real long weird unrelated story, as if I was sorta crazy in the head. Teacher would then avoid me like the plague. My fave reply was "Your excellent question reminds me of … [insert pet-monkey-ate-the-bar's-cue-ball joke here] ". Didn't get no law degree, tho.
Anyhoo -- very best of luck!

staff weeject pick: GRU. Dis-pick-able!! In favor of anything Minion (or U) -related.

fave fillin: ANUBIS. Wolf-headed gods with Patrick Berry Usage Immunity and U's… there's yer rodeo.

Thanx for the fun, Mr. Thomas.

Masked & Anonymo6Us

Teedmn 12:49 PM  

I am NOT ROFL at my stupid mistake today. I looked at 5A and could only think of "thane" as a Shakespearean title, which didn't fit. Leaving that answer to fill in with crosses, I blithely put in LOFL at 9D, giving me BAlD. (Does a BAlD wear a BAlDric?) Solving puzzles (and the stupid justifications I sometimes make for the idiotic entries I come up with) has something in common with dreaming - you can't imagine where in your brain this stuff floats up from. The difference is, in dreams, you usually aren't aware enough to question what's going on. I need to work on keeping my subconscious reined in while solving!

Besides the total eye-roller of a DNF, I only had the write-over of SOYa to SOYS. I liked the theme answers. I thought 60A might end up as BACK CHAtter as I hadn't seen the CHANNELs yet but the reveal works great for me.

Nice 3rd puzzle, Brian Thomas.

John Hoffman 12:49 PM  

I liked this puzzle! Looks like I’m in the minority. SEERESS was bad but otherwise good fill, and simple, clear theme.

/Slasher/ 12:57 PM  

@American. "TCBY might as well be Chinese for all I know." They are abroad including China. Coming to an arrondissement near you soon.

Anonymous 1:42 PM  

@Linda Vale 9:20 AM--Please elaborate. What indoctrination?

@mdm 9:44 AM--I googled SBP and found St Bernard Project, Spontaneous Bacterial Peritonitis, and many other strange things. To what do you refer?

Nancy 2:56 PM  

Ah, yes, The Battle of the Sexes. Two of my favorite Rexblog women have weighed in today, and one of them nailed it. @Malsdemare(11:30), (who's my generation, more or less), said this about what was truly an unforgettable [female] experience: "...that whole match was such a trip!" I can't think of a better way to put it, @Malsdemare, and I wish I'd said that. At the same time, @SuzieQ (8:00), quite understandably put off by all the BOBBY RIGGS hype and vulgarity, failed to watch it. And all I can say to you, @Suzie, is: Beg, borrow or steal a video of that match if it's available. The suspense, alas, is gone, but I would imagine that it's still thrilling, anyway. We who watched it in real time of course had no idea how it would end -- after all BOBBY, old as he was, had recently creamed Margaret Court, the other top player on the Women's Tour. But Suzie, what you'll be watching is one of the greatest women athletes of all time making lungina, incredibly difficult shots that almost didn't seem possible. There is no tennis match I've ever watched in my life -- not even the immortal McEnroe-Borg Wimbledon with that unbelievable tiebreak -- that has captivated me as the Billy Jean/RIGGS match did. Watch it -- and see if it does the same for you.

Anonymous 2:59 PM  

SBP is PBS backwards, like the others in the puzzle. But I don’t get the NATO alphabet. Please explain. Messed up DOEST. Wanted GOEST as in Ruth and Naomi. Never heard of DEKES so didn’t catch it.

Anonymous 3:00 PM  

@ Anon 1:42, If you have to ask it's already too late.

Anonymous 3:08 PM  

Something must have changed in Egyptology since I was studying the ancient world. Anubis was always understood to be jackal-headed not merely canine-headed.

Suzie Q 3:47 PM  

@ Nancy, OK, I'm sold. Off to Youtube I go! Better late than never.

Bill Marconi 3:56 PM  

NATO ALPHABET is the "spelling alphabet" for use over unclear radio channels and other systems used by NATO forces, international aviation, and others. Each word is distinctive in it's syllables/vowels/consonants.


In World War II the U.S. used a different system you often hear in movies.


There are also others, such as the LAPD's own unique system.


Anonymous 4:09 PM  

Ah, The response of a demagogue.

SteveHikes 4:27 PM  

Count me in your retinue, too. And, since I was born in and grew up in Bluefield, WV, and you remind me of my sister, (a teacher), I always look forward to your comments.

SteveHikes 4:32 PM  

CBN University (Pat Robertson’s fundamentalist bigotry training school) in Virginia Beach.

Blue Stater 5:44 PM  

Incredibly hard for a Tuesday and unfairly so. WAXONWAXOFF? I taught for 50 years and never heard or read that phrase once.

Nancy 6:27 PM  

Great, @SuzieQ! I really hope you're able to find it. Knowing what a hustler BOBBY RIGGS has always been, though, I'm wondering if he's made it impossible to access online for free. I think that, after I saw the recent movie, BATTLE OF THE SEXES, I wanted to look at the actual match -- or at least see some of the highlights. If I remember correctly, I couldn't access anything on YouTube -- not even a single point. However, I'm not the most technically proficient person, so it may be I didn't know how to track it down. And the tape must exist somewhere -- the makers of the movie needed to have it in order to reproduce key points in the match. Good luck. If you do find it, let me know; I'd love to see it again!

Aketi 6:51 PM  

@Bluestater, WAX ON WAX OFF is a classic line from the original Karate Kid movie. The sensei in the movie has the young boy he’s working with learn the motions of Martial Arts by doing chores.

B. Stanton 7:15 PM  

Facts are facts. I don't care what you call your Chicago CBS affiliate, or if you think distinctions are ridiculous. Networks are networks. Channels are channels. They are not they same. The distinction is not just in fact, but in law, and, therefore, in the way they are regulated. They are very, very different. And this difference is a huge factor in the influence different forms if media have in our public discourse. I am sorry if you employ lazy logic to equate these. But here is some advice: instead of posting uninformed comments on here, it would be better if you LEARNED. Try it sometime.

JC66 7:53 PM  

@B. Stanton

A thing can fall into more than one category.

A cat can be a pet and/or a hunter.

A woman can be a wife and/or a writer.

Or, to put it another way, there may be more than one possible answer to a crossword puzzle clue.

!A Could be either POTSIE or Fonzie.

2A Could be BARD or Lear.

Etc., etc. That's what makes solving fun.


A local TV station can be part of a national network or, to the viewer sitting in her den, a CHANNEL she watches.

Anonymous 9:06 PM  

@JC Nice try but no. CBS, CNN,FOX and ABC are not channels. I understand alternative facts. 3+2=5 and 4+1=5 are alternative facts. ABC, FOX,CNN and CBS are not channels no matter how you try to parse it. The revealer and thus the puzzle was wa fail.

Philo F 10:09 PM  

"Turn on the football game!"

"What channel is it on?"

"It's on Fox."


"Joe Buck here along with Troy Aikman! What do you think, Troy?"

Z 10:31 PM  

What channel are you watching?

I'm watching CBS. I was watching ESPN but the game got out of hand. Go ahead and change the channel if you want.


Z 10:32 PM  

@Philo F - Great minds and all that.

JC66 10:53 PM  

@Philo F & @Z

Thanks for your support.

Banana Diaquiri 11:56 PM  

for pity's sake folks. first there was over-the-air-only TeeVee. radio networks existed and took on TeeVee stations in the same way. at the time, most folks don't know that ABC was the Blue Network (or was it Red??) of NBC. local broadcasters were on a channel. initially VHF, up to 13. these signals had ~50 mile reach. when there were more folks wanting to have a broadcast license, space was found in the UHF band where the 20s and 30s and 40s came to live. these were still channels; one broadcaster per frequency, allegedly far enough away from another broadcaster assigned the same frequency such they didn't interfere.

then, ta da, the deep midwest, too far from any population center to support a local TeeVee channel (much less many such), invented cable TeeVee. sort of. they, towns or companies or elves, mounted multiple antennas on top of high towers such that line-of-sight was established with Big City TeeVee, the signals were amplified on site, and thence by cable out to the hicks on the farms. Green Acres is the place for you. these were still channels as such were understood at the time.

TBS, I think, or may be WGN decided to be a SuperStation (yes, that's what the word was) established a presence beyond terrestrial transmitter distance. thus was born the *cable channel*. a channel not attached to a network.

but then we had both expansion of "channels" from a cable denizen and merging of cable denizens such that a single corporate entity cablecast multiple channels on multiple cable systems. so, yes we still have networks and we still have channels. and, yes, the legend is that over-the-air HDTV from a local channel is far superior to what you get from cable or satellite. don't know because here in South Fireplug we can't get any local channels over-the-air. too much iron in too many hills.

Don From Accounting 2:26 AM  

@Donna 2:20AM

No, I am not JOHN XXX, but based on his writing he is probably a very handsome man.

Aidan 11:31 PM  

I solve the crossword as a live stream on Twitch (a major gaming website) with input from my community. We all loved "mod"!

Burma Shave 9:54 AM  


it OWESTO her bikini WAXON,WAXOFF -
to LACEUP HIS BRA and PAWS to back OFF.


spacecraft 12:45 PM  

To me this was a case of Trying To Do Too Much. Those CHANNEL (or network, whatever) acronyms are so awkward to find as to leave virtually no wiggle room for theme answers. All this accomplishes is to DEFORM the fill--sometimes painfully, as in centerpiece SEERESS.

FOX, at least, has the vowel in the middle so you can do something with it; the resulting seminal moment within a seminal film, WAXOXWAXOFF, is the clear winner today. OTOH, what to do with CNN? You have DOD GLENNCLOSE, and that's it. Makes you put up with MGMT and such. The next one's another nightmare. Methinks we need to RESHOE this whole horse. Bogey.

rondo 3:06 PM  

I didn’t pay any attention to the circles until filling in the revealer; shrugged and said, “Huh.”, and that was that. Not exactly a compelling theme. When SEERESS sits dead center, well, kind of a DRAG. Though I did have 32a GLENNCLOSE circled for yeah baby purposes.

There appears to be 2 TCBY stores in MN, neither of which I have been close enough to see. The next closest one seems to be in Sioux Falls, SD. I call a foul.

IDUNNO, ask your pal POTSIE if he still likes IKE, any more or LESS.

leftcoastTAM 3:29 PM  

Tricky, clever, and tough (for a Tuesday). Good theme and revealer, which helped things move along.

WAX ON WAX OFF from "Karate Kid" was not "popularized" enough for me. Needed several crosses to get it. Same with the "Wolf-headed" ANUBIS.

In the NW, the wanted drOPS IN before STOPS IN. and then there was BOX IN as well. The "B+" (with raised +) was a good misdirect to get ION.

The killer for me in the NW was EeW instead of EWW, which also gave me APATOe instead of APATOW, even though the my spelling looked a bit odd. (EEW looked more "gross" sounding to me than EWW.)

Liked the challenge.

wcutler 3:30 PM  

I'm with Nancy in being discouraged by being so far from finishing this Tuesday puzzle; it felt pretty much like a Saturday to me. Nothing wrong with that on a Saturday. Let's see what all I didn't know:
For starters, that there were channels presented backwards.
WAXONWAXOFF (had it, but never heard it before)
ZIPLOkBAG (well, I had the idea)
BAoKCHANNEL (had no idea)
Jean Ro_S
The movie villain
Could not remember Bobby Riggs, did follow it at the time.
The dither
ToBY (maybe a vision problem, since I've never approached their spot in the malls)

I did get SPORTS BRA, would never have come up with SPORTS bar first. My long time fantasy has been to open a bar that has the TVs tuned to HGTV.

I'm definitely one of @LMS's retinue, though there are others here to whom I feel just as loyal.

rainforest 3:39 PM  

Different words, different feel, and like @M&A, I think different is good.

I found this easy-medium with a couple areas which taxed my memory, or took the crosses to get. Otherwise, I thought the theme was good - without the circles, it would have taken a SEERESS to solve. Is that a word, btw? Does the word "seer" imply a male? For that matter, why make a distinction? Just like the Academy Awards feel they must distinguish between "actor" and "actress" - should be one category. That would shorten the Oscars which is usually welcome. On the other hand, Meryl Streep would probably have won 12 times by now. Why am I talking about this? I DUNNO.

Anyway, I liked this even though I had a w/o because I was thinking Quo Vadis, ie, whither thou gOEST.

Diana,LIW 5:28 PM  

See? See? Wheelhouses vary greatly. I found this right smack dab in the middle of Tuesday-worthy easy. Except for WAXONWAXOFF, which was easy to figure out. Sounds like a spa treatment that I'd rather not experience, thanks.

SEERESS would have made OFL's head explode, so I'm glad we had a guest critic in his place. I really hate it when his brain bits get all over my keyboard. EWW. Or EEW. Or ICK. Take your pick.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

thefogman 12:31 AM  

Sorry I'm late. This one was more challenging than your standard Tuesday. It could have been filed a Thursday or maybe even a Friday in my opinion. Theme was okay I guess - but not anything to write home about.

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