Locale of Tuvalu and Nauru / WED 9-19-18 / Frank Sammy ultimate event 1989 documentary / Naively optimistic muppet

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Constructor: Scot Ober and Jeff Chen

Relative difficulty: Easy (3:40)

THEME: YIDDISH (38A: Source of the six longest Across answers in this puzzle) —

Theme answers:
  • TCHOTCHKE (16A: Knickknack)
  • SCHMALTZ (20A: Excessive sentimentality)
  • CHUTZPAH (24A: Shameless audacity)
  • OY, GEVALT! (47A: "Jeez!")
  • MEGILLAH (53A: Long, involved account)
  • VERKLEMPT (58A: Choked up with emotion)
Word of the Day: MEGILLAH (53A) —

1a long involved story or account [so clue is just lifted from dictionary (nearly) verbatim, boo] Shaffer has Salieri declaring war on Heaven … and determined to ruin Mozart because God's voice is speaking through him. Shaffer turns Pushkin's metaphor into a whole megillah.—Paulene [sic!] Kael

2aan elaborate, complicated production or sequence of events Today's affair is a luncheon … . In fact, the whole megillah has a furtive vibe to it, half shameful …—Jeff MacGregor… a simple matter of identifying the dead man … turns into a big political megillah.—Marilyn Stasio
beverything involved in what is under consideration BALL OF WAX"The only thing that could interest me is if I could win. I'm not talking about the nomination, I'm talking about the whole megillah."—Donald TrumpThat's $18 million between the whole group. Throwing in Miller makes $22 million. Say they decided to donate the whole megillah last year.—Jason Rhode (m-w) (my emph)
• • •

Is this a Yom Kippur puzzle? Is that what this is supposed to be? There are two weird things about that. One, it's Just A Bunch Of Yiddish Words. No twist, no wordplay, no nothin'. There must be something you could do, themewise, with, say, ATONE, or something, but all we get is a word list. So, yeah, there's Jewish content, but nothing very interesting or Yom Kippur-specific. It's a boring dumb list, UGH. Also, it is my (new) understanding that very observant Jews do not write, at all, on Yom Kippur, which means, uh, no crossword (I assume). For instance:

So the whole concept, and execution, and timing—it's all mildly bizarre to me. From a strictly puzzle standpoint, though, I can't say this strongly enough: a bunch of YIDDISH words isn't a theme. It's a list. Yes, there are Yiddish words that have entered English. There are lots of words that have entered English via lots of languages. Unless you're gonna do something interesting with that fact, you don't have a theme. You don't. It's not. Also, DR. OZ is a quack and his very presence ruins everything I hope you're happy.

Five things:
  • 44A: Rose Bowl, e.g. (OVAL) — *that's* your iconic OVAL? Ugh. Tracks are ovals, The Rose Bowl is an arena, or a game, or etc. Boo. 
  • 62A: Naively optimistic Muppet (ERNIE) — I had -IE and wrote in ROSIE (thinking ... that the "optimistic" part was some kind of hint). Is there a ROSIE? O M G ROSIE is the name of ERNIE's bathtub!?!?!?!?!?! Also that answer is right on top of SOAP, so my mistake has unlocked a whole weird world of Muppet coincidence...
  • 56D: Major N.Y.S.E. events (IPOS) — bricked it and wrote ISPS. Stupid common crossword initialisms!
  • 53D: Org. advocating highway safety (MADD) — very, very generic clue for the *specifically against DRUNK (and possibly now DISTRACTED?) driving* org. that is MADD. I was looking for some kind of government initialism concerned with overall safety. 
  • 35D: Alternative to Israir Airlines (EL AL) — OK first of all, ISRAIR!? If that's a known thing, how has it never been in the crossword!? And second, please don't give this answer credit for being "bonus Jewish content." Same with SINAI. Those damned words are always hanging around the grid. They get no credit for showing up today. 
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

P.S. since when is a MINIBAR "Fancy"??? (42D: Fancy hotel room amenity)

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Patrick O'Connor 12:14 AM  

Clue: Rex Parker, for one. Answer: KVETCH.
(We kid! We kid because we love!)

puzzlehoarder 12:26 AM  

A very straight forward solve in both the theme and the fill. It came in at just over Tuesday time. A couple of the themes, one of which was the debut OYGEVALT, weren't as familiar as the others but with the easy crosses they went in almost as fast.

My only two weird moments we're not coming up with ALDA off the A and being fooled by the 40A clue. The A of SALT was my last square and for a few beats I thought to myself that there's no Arab country that abbreviates as ALA. The downs we're so solid I just noted my time and that's when it hit me "Oh that gulf."

Casimir 12:26 AM  

I enjoyed the puzzle. I write to point out to OFL, as others undoubtedly will, that "fancy" modifies "hotel" in the minibar clue. Regardless of your feelings about minibars, ime they are only in the better hotels, though I'm certain there might be exceptions. Casimir

Cliff 12:35 AM  

Same theme August 23 2012! All different theme answers though.

Lee Coller 12:38 AM  

The first three Yiddish words I recognized, the second three I did not. Given that I did not easily identify the answer to the Bolivar clue (crossing two themers) I was really in trouble.

TomAz 12:55 AM  

Record Wednesday for me. I knew 4 of the 6 without (much) thinking, other than about the spelling. The other two I got on crosses.

But the main reason this was so fast is that the fill was really very standard. Of the 6 longish (7+) downs, 5 took zero thought and the 6th, SCHNAUZER was obvious after SCHN.

I agree with Rex that the timing is a bit tone deaf. I'm not Jewish but I live in the real world and I know my Jewish friends and colleagues, at least those who are observant, aren't doing any puzzles on Yom Kippur.

One question: Plows have been a part of human society for the entirety of recorded history. Steel was also known in antiquity and even advanced forms like Damascus steel date from Before the Common Era. Wikipedia tells me modern steelmaking began in the 1600s. So: Were steel plows really not invented until 1837? that seems weird... or is this just commercial mythmaking?

jae 1:43 AM  

Easy. Pretty smooth and scrabblely, liked it more than @ Rex did.

chefwen 1:54 AM  

I grew up with all of these words, father and grandmother, mixed in with Norwegian swear words, mother and another grandmother. It was an interesting childhood. Never did hear my mothers swear in English.

Breezed through this one while puzzle partner crumpled up his copy and tossed it. He did agree with your assessment of DR. OZ.

Anonymous 2:35 AM  

Re the timing of the puzzle: it’ll keep.

Ed 2:47 AM  

Excellent critique, Rex. I'm not Jewish but I won't be writing in this puzzle. Right on labeling Dr. Oz.

Loren Muse Smith 3:47 AM  

Yeah – it’s a list, but Yiddish phrases just scream fun; they’re so colorful and lively. You got this logjam of consonants exploding out of your mouth. (Today’s themers: 37 consonants, 13 vowels.)

So theme schmeme. I never tire of seeing/hearing Yiddish. Speaking of our adding the schm to a word to convey dismissal…. Theme schmeme, ALDA schmalda, UGH schmugh, MINIBAR schminibar… ya with me so far? Ok. But we can’t do this to just any word – try it with DIVAN, DR OZ, BELIE, T BONES, BIG MOUTH, CTRL Z. To steal from @Larry, discuss please. Hey, you can’t do it with discuss or please, either.

I have to admit I spent a couple of months chasing down garcinia cambogia, and green coffee bean capsules, and umckaloabo root extract until I smelled a rat. It was in Raleigh at a Whole Foods, and I had this exchange:

Clerk: Can I help you find something?
Me: Yeah – you have lemon grass tea?
Clerk: [sighing] Dr. Oz, right? We’re out of it.

Just the way she said it made me feel gullible, so I did a little investigating to confirm that he is indeed a crackpot. I feel like a dumkopf.

Scot, Jeff – this goes to show you that you don’t always need a fancy schmancy theme to entertain. SCHNAUZER feels Yiddishish, though. (Hi, @TomAz.)

Lewis 6:01 AM  

As always with Jeff Chen, a schmutz-free grid. Lovely mislead on the clue for CLAP ("Give someone a hand"). Yiddish theme with French and Latin undertones (OUI, ALA, VICI). And an echo of yesterday's puzzle with a backward GAS. Monday/Tuesday easy for me, having grown up with Yiddish all around me (no tsuris here!), but I'm guessing Wednesday for someone not so familiar. The puzzle was fun because Yiddish can be so colorful, with the words often sounding just like what they mean.

ZenMonkey 6:09 AM  

On the one hand, there's plenty of secular or nonobservant Jews like me whose family used Yiddish and who enjoyed this puzzle even on Yom Kippur.

On the other hand, yeah, the timing was poor regardless of the first hand. Maybe for Rosh Hashanah (do observant Jews write then?) or Hanukkah, if it must be on a holiday. But not the solemnest day of the Jewish year. If we could reschedule our wedding around it despite the full moon that weekend, the Times could consider a different day for this.

Tangentially, we moved from California to Washington state this summer and as a born and bred East Coaster, I love it here like I never loved Southern California. We have a young apple tree that's a graft with three different varieties. It was a great way to welcome the new year with apples off our own tree and local honey. (I may be secular but I've always felt Jewish New Year to be more of a renewal than the January version.)

newspaperguy 6:12 AM  

If the clue for Dr. Oz was "great doctor" I can see taking offence. Dr. Oz was a regular (I'm guessing) on Oprah (her bad), so what's the problem, other than to whine?

Dan Murphy 6:37 AM  

Um yah, had no idea on 4/6 of those themers, was pleasantly surprised to get the 100% upon filling in the entire thing!

Reasonablewoman 6:49 AM  

The problem is that quacks like Dr. Oz do great harm by convincing gullible people to buy snake oil instead of getting real scientific medical help with their illnesses. Dr. Phil is no better. All these charlatans should be sued for making false claims, FRAUD is the problem!

Hungry Mother 6:54 AM  

Very nice theme and fill. I got hung up on INURE vs eNURE for way too long.

WonderingJew 6:55 AM  

What is TIC as part of XXX? I had TEN briefly, which would work except for being wrong.

Shafty 7:12 AM  

So, pardon my ignorance, but Jewish folks who don’t write on Yom Kippur aren’t likely to do ANY puzzle. right?

But they could do today’s puzzle tomorrow, right? And still enjoy it then? So what’s the problem? This seems like outrage in search of a reason, not the other way around.

Wholeheartedly agree ree that Dr. Oz is a charlatan.

Anonymous 7:29 AM  

WonderingJew, I think it's TIC as in tic-tac-toe.

benjaminthomas 7:34 AM  

@WONDERINGJEW: Tic as in part of Tic-Tac-Toe.

As for the rest of the review, you really could set your watch by it. If Jeff Chen is in the byline, it's gonna get panned, and hard, by Rex.

I can easily imagine this exact puzzle getting hosannahs from Rex if only there were a different name up top.

Suzie Q 7:49 AM  

Agree with Rex for a change on nearly every point.
If you are not supposed to write how do you get away with typing?
I know the typewriter had not been invented when these rules were made but still... I am asking this honestly.
I've never heard of 47A or 53A but Mike Myers taught me verklempt on SNL in his routine about a Jewish woman with a talk show. Cracked me up every time.

Wasn't Cousin Itt Morticia's relative not Gomez'?

Schlomie 7:53 AM  

J Strothman’s tweet belies itself.

Charles Flaster 8:01 AM  

Your second paragraph echoes my feelings.

Rob 8:01 AM  

I'm observing Yom Kippur -- I could really go for a bagel right now, natch -- and personally I enjoyed the pairing of the theme with the day. Puzzle was a bit easy for Wednesday but what can you do? Jeff's puzzles usually skew that way.

I did think the MINIBAR clue was a bit odd, definitely not something I think of as "fancy."

Clueless 8:11 AM  

55D - skip?

Isn't that a problem for any type of vinyl record … 78 rpm, etc.

QuasiMojo 8:19 AM  

From hunger... just kidding. I enjoyed it. Yiddish is its own theme. The sound, the tone, the inflection, the irony. And AYE, the humanity.

Apparently I have been misspelling “schnauzer” all my life. One time I was at a party, sitting on a DIVAN, and petted the hostess’s miniature Schnauzer. The beast leapt up and bit me on the nose, drawing blood. Thank God there were cocktail napkins available.

I’ve been in some pretty awful fleabag hotels and they definitely had minibars.

Abalini 8:33 AM  

Tic Tac Toe - XXX or OOO

GILL I. 8:37 AM  

I made a great cup of coffee this morning and thought I'd take my sweet time enjoying it and my Ober Chen puzzle. Well I did, but by sip #3, it was over.
After Spanish. I'd say YIDDISH is my favorite. Is it considered a language? Such fun to pronounce and like @Loren, I could add an SCH to words all day long.
And like @jae, I enjoyed it more than @Rex.
@Rex...DR. OZ a quack? You mean you don't believe him when he says there's arsenic in our Apple Juice or that his reparative therapy turns a gay person straight? Heavens!
So, am I going to miss our Jewish friends today? I didn't know you could not write on Yom Kippur. So interesting.
My only "Too Bad" today was starting with IVS and ending with SSN. Everything else was fun to suss out the spelling and remembering that TZHOTCHKE is a Knickknack. I wanted THINGAMAGIG.

WonderingJew 8:43 AM  

Thanks. What a clever clue.

Anonymous 8:44 AM  

A Yiddish puzzle constructed by guys named Scot and Jeff? Oy Vey!

Cassieopia 8:46 AM  

I would have been happier if SCHMALTZ were clued as “fowl spread?” I first encountered it in southern Germany on a trip with my parents, as a dip for fresh pretzel balls. I looked at the small dish of glop dubiously, but my father, whose mother was a German immigrant, happily exclaimed “SCHMALTZ!” and dug in enthusiastically. It is actually quite good on fresh, warm bread. Count me in as a fan of schmaltz, but only the culinary kind.

Z 8:57 AM  

IVS/ITT/TIC - U.G.H. Sadly, it did not much improve from there. I fail to see how randomly spelt words is a theme. These might as well be rappers, DJ TCHOTCHKE is appearing tonight with MC MEGILLAH. About the only enjoyment in this thing is the Mike Myers/SNL shout-out with VERKLEMPT/LIZA Minnelli.

Z 9:06 AM  

@GILL i - “Is it considered a language?” I was wondering the same thing. I think so, but not as presented in the puzzle. According to Wikipedia there are still YIDDISH speaking communities, especially Hasidic communities. It seems like most of the YIDDISH that’s made its way into English are insults, criticisms, and exclamations. No one ever seems to use the YIDDISH for “BINDER” or “MINIBAR.”

Cliff Guthrie 9:15 AM  

Minibars are apparently fancier than I had realized. Last week I gave my ethics students a moral dilemma about whether it was okay to eat something from the minibar in a hotel room and then replace it with the identical and cheaper item from the quickie mart...only to discover than none of them knew what a minibar was.

Maybe this crowd can answer: would this be unethical?

pmdm 9:22 AM  

For the record, Jeff expressed his own displeasure at the theme. He said he had to be talked into partnering. And for the record, Mr. Sharp did not pan Jeff's last published puaale. (I told you to save the date.) And finally, for the record, I guess one can have a cousin by marriage. (Thank you, Itt.)

Sir Hillary 9:24 AM  

Objectively, I agree with those who view this as an uninspired puzzle with the thinnest of themes. But it touched me deeply.

I, a secular WASP, married a secular Jew with four grandparents who emigrated from Eastern Europe. So for 30+ years I have been exposed to the wonderful idioms that come from YIDDISH. OYGEVALT is pretty common around the house. VERKLEMPT is also a staple, accompanied by self-fanning, ALA Mike Myers's "Coffee Talk" hostess Linda Richman. TCHOTCHKE -- yep, all the time, so much so that it feels English at this point. CHUTZPAH and SCHMALTZ are so ubiquitous generally that they feel English as well. MEGILLAH is the only one we don't use much -- I think of it more in the "whole ball of wax" vein. In my house, things are never carried or toted -- they are schlepped. I often kvetch that it's an annoying schlep from my house in Westchester to JFK. But I kvell at my children's accomplishments, whatever they may be. For years, my wife's best friend from sleepaway camp had a dog named Schmatta, which is YIDDISH for "rag"; this may be the greatest dog name ever.

I could go on and on, but I don't want to be a nudnik.

GILL I. 9:33 AM  

Because I like learning new things and because all things "religious" fascinate me, I looked up Day of Atonement.
There are five areas of pleasure that are avoided on Yom Kippur:
1. Eating or drinking
2. Wearing leather footwear
3. Bathing or washing
4. Applying ointment, lotions or cream
5. Engaging in any form of spousal intimacy (oy on that one)

I was looking specifically for any writing but I couldn't find it. Is it because writing is a form of pleasure?

@Z..Hah. I bet there is a YIDDISH word for minibar!

Brian 9:34 AM  

Do before midnight to preserve your streak.

Nancy 9:37 AM  

Quick, now. YIDDISH is more fun than gases, yes? And you don't have to be Jewish, as the old Levy Rye Bread ad used to say. These words are now part of the zeitgeist (German, not Yiddish) -- at least they are if you live in NYC.

With the exception of CHUTZPAH, none of these words were used by my non-observant, very secular Jewish family. Well, SCHMALTZ was used -- but only in the original goose fat sense. We had the most wonderful spread on holidays, called something like genza SCHMALTZ, which I haven't the faintest idea how to spell. We also had something called genza greiben (again, no idea whatsoever how to spell it.) These were the incredibly delicious cracklings made from goose. So, obviously we also had goose. We also had a capon. My mother and her side of the family had the capon, and my father, his side of the family, and I had the goose.

Every one of the words in this puzzle that weren't used in my family, I've heard from friends. We always said knick-knack, but lots of people said TCHOTCHKE. Everyone who was anyone was wont to say: "Don't tell me the whole MEGILLAH." But VERKLEMPT puzzled me just now. I've heard it more than once over the years and I thought it meant "mussed up." As in "My hair is all VERKLEMPT". So it's lucky I never used the term, because I would have been telling people that my hair was all choked up with emotion :)

More fun to blog about the puzzle than to do it, I feel. It was very easy except for the fiendish spelling. Bet y'all had the same problem. I expect the blog to be colorful today. Going back to read it now.

Brookboy 9:39 AM  

Everything @LMS said, and, as always, showing the rest of us how to disagree gracefully without being disagreeable, the perfect counterpoint to Rex’s often bombastic reviews.

I agree that Dr. Oz is a fraud, but so what when it comes to using his name in a crossword? It is hardly an endorsement of the man’s ideas or even of the man himself. I’m sure the name Ponzi is occasionally used in crosswords, and no one would think that this is in any way an endorsement of Ponzi schemes.

Rainbow 9:41 AM  

The clue is fine. It is clear and logical. It does not claim to apply only to 45's.

pabloinnh 9:44 AM  

This was like a Yiddish spelling test for me. I also like that most of the single words require a definition. If yesterday's was a science puzzle, today's was a language puzzle, and that's fine with me. I'm like GILL I in that the no writing on Yom Kippur prohibition came as news to me. We observed the Jewish holidays at my high school, but student absences were negligible. Location, location.

If you don't think there's anything fancy about a hotel minibar, you haven't checked out the prices, which are not only fancy but luxurious.

Put me in the "liked it" crowd.

Rainbow 9:46 AM  

I say no. You would have stolen nothing and done no harm. But, just buy it at the Quickie in the first place.

Warren Howie Hughes 10:00 AM  

Easy for you Rex, but difficult for us non-YIDDISHa babies! ;-)

GHarris 10:13 AM  

I don’t want to make a big tsmis (sp.?) about it but there are English words that sound Yiddish yet I’m not sure if they are. For example, tumult. Anyone?

gruffed 10:19 AM  

So there's the story about the rabbi who goes golfing on Yom Kippur, makes a hole-in-one, and can't tell anyone about it. If using a pencil or keyboard on Yom Kippur is truly sacrilegious, I suspect we won't be hearing from many Jews who enjoyed this puzzle at the risk of fire and brimstone. A fun trefshpil, Jeff and Scot, mazel tov!

Masked and Anonymous 10:23 AM  

Feisty for m&e, due to spellin issues on the Yidthemers. I seem to recall another NYTPuz with a Yiddish theme a while back … with the Yiddish words written backwards, tho. Sooo … consider ourselves lucky today, that this puppy didn't go that far.

Anybody else notice how un-desperate the whole puzfill shmear is? With seven [admittedly schtumpfy] hunks of theme to zigzag around? Amazin, Gracie. I suppose a snark-starved blogger might say "HIYA, ATTA". Maybe go after ATL, if really desperate to find desperation. Good constructioneerin job.

staff weeject pick: IVS. Better clue: {Ancient skydiving kitties landed on all this??}.
Best key entry: CTRLZ. Word play!

The puztheme might not float everybody's boat, since no [other] wordplay, or humor. Kinda similar to that there recent French food names puz. Still, gotta say I did learn new stuff, which ain't all bad.
Thanx for the lingo lesson, S.O. & J.C.

Masked & Anonymo4Us


jb129 10:30 AM  

When I saw Jeff Chen I figured it would be hard. But it was easy & enjoyable.. Got Verklempt via Barbra Streisand. Happy New Year!

Amelia 10:33 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
CS 10:43 AM  

Loved it! As a secular Jew, I am not davening at the shul but also not schlepping to work on Yom Kippur -- using the day to contemplate and I have no problem reading the paper and doing the crossword. I laughed out loud at @Sir Hillary and @Patrick O'Connor and I guess I'm not supposed to be laughing today but every day seems to be serious in the world at large so remembering that there are good people amongst us is all for the better.

RooMonster 10:44 AM  

Hey All !
What CHUTZPAH to construct such a puz. Wasn't there a cartoon called MEGILLAH Gorilla?

I wanted to submit a rhyming puz, one themer being FOOTSPA CHUTZPAH, but it would most likely get rejected, plus I don't think Will likes rhyming themes.

Who put DEAN in first for LIZA? C'mon man. Other writeover, futon-DIVAN. Also an odd clue on BOARD. A 2"X4" is technically a board, but really a blockish wood.

Easy-ish puz, didn't have to cry I GIVE and cheat. Not really a TEN, but not a SLAP INURE face either. :-) Am I OUTTA CTRL(Z)? OY GEVALT!


Malsdemare 10:47 AM  

I thought this was fun; this Irish lassie adores Yiddish. Sometimes, it’s only a Yiddish word that works, that is the perfect expression of dismissal or emotion or messy (anyone remember Rob Lowe's schmutzy pants in West Wing?) The only word I didn't know was OYGEVALT, but I know it now, will try to use it before the day is out.

I'm with @rainbow: why not just get the snack from the quickie mart in the first place? But to the question, is it ethical? Is anyone harmed? No. But Would you tell a housekeeper or desk manager or whomever what you did if asked? If the answer is "no," then it would seem the taker is feeling a bit sleazy. If on the other hand, you would gladly report to the dsk when you check out that you took the peanuts from the minibar but replaced them with an identical product, then no harm no foul. Am I engaging in situational ethics? Probably.

My niece's long time partner rolled his Viper multiple time Sunday, was thrown from the car, and I'll let you imagine his injuries. To those here who believe in the power of prayer, Big Jim could use your help.

Anonymous 10:56 AM  

@schlomie - couple of things:
1) Most != 100%. To say most jews won't be writing doesn't mean one specific jew won't be writing.
2) I trust you understand the nature of the earth's rotation and the resulting effect that has on whether it is day or night at specific locations? That just because the sun is down in Maine doesn't mean the sun is down in California or Hawaii?

So, no, Julie Strothman's post didn't belie itself.

jberg 11:15 AM  

@TomAz, I thought the DEERE thing was right, but looked it up to be sure. Earlier, plows had been wood or iron, sometimes wood with a piece of metal on the front. The big thing about Deere's steel plows is that they cleaned themselves -- i.e., the metal was slippery enough that the dirt would be scraped off in the process of plowing. The iron ones had to be cleaned off frequently while in use.

As for the puzzle -- TCHOTKCHE was tough, since I wasn't expecting Yiddish, and there were some weird letters to work with -- but once I knew we were dealing with Yiddish, most of the rest went right in. I didn't know VERKLEMPT -- in South Africa 'verklampt' is applied to Afrikaners who still don't accept the end of apartheid, but I guess the idea of being choked or closed up is similar.

The way I've heard it a BIG MOUTH is a braggart, as opposed to a blabbermouth. I guess it works, though.

@Cliff-- if it's ethical to eat and replace it, is it ethical to sell it at a profit and replace it with the cheaper one?

@Nancy, you don't have to live in New York to remember those ads, you just have to have passed through at the right time. They were brilliant.

Sherm Reinhardt 11:18 AM  

Since yesterday I had a DNF because I had MOODS instead of MOODY and LSE instead of LYE, I am very proud to brag about my new record on this one: 7 minutes flat.

And, based on the occasion and on Rex's complaints, there is only one thing for Will Shortz to do: say he's sorry for this one, and promise to do better next time.

And heck, If LSE soap isn't a thing, it should be.

Sgreennyc 11:20 AM  

Of course Yiddish is a language. Why would you even question that?

Kath320 11:28 AM  

A room with a minibar is not fancy. USING a minibar, now that's fancy.

JC66 11:31 AM  

@ Brian said...
Do before midnight to preserve your streak.

Jewish holidays typically start at sundown, the day before (erev).


Yom Kippur is the holiest day of the year for Jews and the list you found isn't inclusive and doesn't include things to be avoided on the Sabbath and ALL holidays like working, riding, writing, etc, etc.

Banana Diaquiri 11:37 AM  

yup. my history classes told me John Deere invented the 'self-cleaning' steel plow. why steel hadn't used before? don't know. here's from the wiki
"Prior to Deere's steel plow, most farmers used iron or wooden plows to which the rich Midwestern soil stuck, so had to be cleaned frequently. The smooth-sided steel plow solved this problem, and greatly aided migration into the American Great Plains in the 19th and early 20th centuries. "

here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Deere#19th_century

Banana Diaquiri 11:40 AM  

@S. Green:
Of course Yiddish is a language. Why would you even question that?

because some, not correctly IMO, consider Yiddish a mixed dialect of German and Hebrew. kind of like Spanglish, only earlier.

Banana Diaquiri 11:47 AM  

@Cliff Guthrie:
whether it was okay to eat something from the minibar in a hotel room and then replace it with the identical and cheaper item from the quickie mart.

same as the answer to this question: is it okay to fill up your rental car at the Skunk Gas 100 station just before returning it to Avis?

Anonymous 11:49 AM  

Don't like extremely strict religions that make you do stuff, like doing nothing on Yom Kippur. Do you just stay in bed all day? You can't watch TV listen to radio, cook, clean, read, write, leave the house. I suppose you're supposed to pray, eh? Whatever floats your ark.

Austenlover 11:52 AM  

I would have said Yiddish is a dialect, not a language. Google calls it a language, originally a dialect of German with Hebrew and modern language words thrown in.

A friend of mine told me about her grandfather, a strictly observant Jew, who liked to listen to a certain radio program on Saturday afternoons. He would set the radio to the right station before sundown on Friday, then pay a gentile kid from the neighborhood to come and turn the radio on. Turning on the radio amounted to work, and Jews aren’t supposed to work on the sabbath. The grandkids liked to play a trick on the old man by setting it to a different station. I always wondered why the gentile kid couldn’t turn it to the station grandpa wanted, but that was the story.

Joseph Michael 11:57 AM  

I’m VERKLEMPT. I didn’t realize I knew so much YIDDISH.

Knew how to pronounce TCHOTCHKE, but had a hell of a time trying to spell it. The rest of the Yiddish fell into place pretty easily. But what’s that OUI doing in there?

No surprise that a Jeff Chen byline would make Rex MADD, but I have to agree that there ain’t a lot of sparkle in this theme. However, the grid is well constructed and offers the bonuses of SCHNAUZER and LAVA LAMPS.

I am a little surprised that Rex didn’t complain about the second hand smoke from Churchill’s CIGAR.

jack 12:07 PM  

FWIW, a 2x4 (post; stud) cannot be a board, can it? Those measurements are inches.

Carola 12:16 PM  

I'm with those who thought this was a fun one, with the consonants on parade and a-treat-for-the-mouth expressions. I grew up in a household with only two "ethnic" expressions, so it's been fun to read the comments of others who grew up surrounded by Yiddish (mine: "uff-da!" for any sort of dismay and "vaer saa god" at dinner time for "come and get it").

What I learned: 1)This was perhaps not the best day for a fun puzzle. 2) MEGILLAH is Yiddish. I'd thought it was Irish (maybe because the meaning is close to "barney" and the spelling reminded me of "shillelagh").

@puzzlehoarder - Thanks for the nudge on what Gulf we're talking about.

@Kath320 - Thanks for the laugh about the mini-bar. I use them exclusively to store my own brought-from-home snacks.

@Nancy - The words would be "Gänseschmaltz" and "Gänsegrieben." "Gans" is the word for "goose," with "Gänse" the plural. Fun to read your memories. Around my house we were eating plain old lefse.

GILL I. 12:18 PM  

@S. Green 11:20:
Because I'm ignorant? To be honest and apparently unenlightened, I thought YIDDISH was a dialect of German. And I always thought of Hebrew as a liturgical language.
Yinglish, on the other hand......
@JC66. A sheynem dank.

Warren Howie Hughes 12:41 PM  

@ Gill I. FYI, Schwabisch is a dialect of the German language spoken in Southern Germany, that closely resembles Yiddish!

Teedmn 12:48 PM  

TCHOTCHKE crossing SCHNAUZER had me thinking today's theme would be a vague but fun "words with lots of consonants in a row" but obviously that wasn't it.

I played Scrabble multiple times this past weekend, and it wasn't until game 6 (and after many decades of playing) that I finally realized your only hope of getting any points in the game is to have consonants. I knew this, peripherally, but it finally slammed into my head as a major strategy point this past weekend. Perhaps it was the multiple rounds where I had 6 vowels and a one-point consonant. I think next time I'll throw all my tiles in and skip a turn. You can't score high points with only those kinds of letters.

One major writeover today - I put in pERKLEMPT to start, at 58A. This made 51D rather disturbing as RAp_S filled in for "opposite of pans". Easily fixed.

Thanks, Scot and Jeff, for an easy yet pleasant Wednesday.

Warren Howie Hughes 1:03 PM  

OUI gather that Scot Ober contributed the YIDDISH words in this Wednesday outing and Jeff Chen simply came along for the ride? "Oy Vey, can you see?"

Bax'N'Nex 1:24 PM  

@cliff...I have stayed in hotels in the (distant) past that let you know that simply taking an item out of the mini-bar (with motion sensors installed) constitutes buying it. Even if it's returned. FWIW

Haven't seen a mini-bar in a while. A REAL bar, however...

Oh...and BTW...good to see that a Jeff Chen puzzle still equals Mike's a-hole level ratcheting up a few notches. What a tool.

Everyone realizes Mike reads these posts, right? A day or two ago, someone posted that Rex has been overusing "ugh". Today...TWO ughs. Take that, "ugh" troll!!

Catherine 1:39 PM  

Imagine a future American Women's Day and on this fictitious day millions of women gathered at the National Mall to remember, honor, and share. If on this day, the NYT printed a crossword with the theme "Women in Science" or "Award Winning Women Writers," should we expect most women to be upset because a respectable number of them will not be at their normal routine, will not have access to the puzzle or will not put a priority on doing the puzzle in time?

I was caught off guard by the reaction against the theme running on this day. Is the problem because the puzzle is not serious enough, as if on this AWD the crossword theme was "Famous 50's/60's Sitcom Moms" and of course the puzzle used only their first names? You know, Harriet, Wilma, Donna...

pabloinnh 1:48 PM  

I'm with @jack as to what to call a 2X4. If it were that other thing and you were trying to locate the framing behind your sheetrock, you'd buy a board finder.

Preferred Customer 1:56 PM  

@jberg Think of the phrase, "you and your big mouth..."

Anonymous 2:40 PM  

Rex is meschuggeneh, this puzzle is no schande, it's a delight. Everyone here knows his shtick, everyday it's the same spiel: one long kvetsch. But I think he missed the puzzle's one actual problem: the 2x4. Then again, what Rex doesn't know a board from his tuches. He's probably a klutz. Definitely a schmuck. Come on @Rex, grow up, be a real mensch.

oy vey! 3:26 PM  

I feel like the issue with this puzzle is the number of potential variable spellings for Yiddish words. I've seen "ferklempt" over "verklempt," "tchotchke" spelled without one or more of the Ts, "megellah" as "megillah," etc. Obviously can be sussed out by crosses, but always a bit tricky when there's romanization involved. YMMV.

Anonymous 3:32 PM  

"a long, thin, flat piece of wood or other hard material, used for floors or other building purposes"

Big miss on this one.

ZenMonkey 4:00 PM  

First of all, Yiddish is a language, not a dialect, not a creole, but a language. There was a flourishing Yiddish culture (theatre, newspapers, etc.) around the turn of the century in New York. Culture comes from language and so did this one.

Secondly, most of you are focusing too narrowly on the fact of whether an observant Jew would be allowed to do the puzzle today or any other day.

Not the point.

It is the scheduling of a Jewish-related puzzle on the holiest day of the year that rankles. And maybe this is so much a Jewish thing that gentiles feel comfortable laughing at it. I'm not *offended*, myself, I just think it's in very poor taste.

nancy 4:01 PM  

the most perfect yiddish word: kvetch. one who runs the mouth, to complain about nothing, likes to hear the sound of his/her own voice or own words. we just add 'ing' and shout 'stop kvetching.' We who hail from the big state of brooklyn are very liberal- we have the pick of too many languages and we use them all and adopt them as our own.

Catherine 4:37 PM  

@zen monkey, I'm not focused on observant v non. My question still stands. Don't just say 'You don't get it," Explain. And now I will add, does this feel like cultural misappropriation?

Anonymous 4:38 PM  

Re: Loren Muse Smith 3:47 a.m., on the Yiddish prefix sch- implying dismissal.

I wonder if many languages have a s-sound implying negativity or hatred. I recall in one of my failed attempts to learn classical Greek, I was reading Euripides' *Medea*, and Medea turns in scorn toward Jason, saying something that I can't remember but went phonetically something like "esso-asso-issasin". My Greek teacher pointed out that she was hissing at him, like a snake. This made me realize that I would never appreciate Greek tragedy properly if I did not learn Greek. I'm retired now and have no excuse--but I still can't read it properly.

I remember from Italian lessons that the *s* at the beginning of words implied negativity. Is the *s* owed to the hissing sound of snakes or perhaps cats? Is this universal? The *s* prefix in Italian is owed usually to a translation into Italian of Latin, where the *s* is *dis*, meaning *anti* or something like that.

Anon. i.e. Poggius, now back in the USA

ZenMonkey 5:10 PM  


"It is the scheduling of a Jewish-related puzzle on the holiest day of the year that rankles."

That IS the explanation you so politely demanded. I never said "you don't get it" and please don't reduce what I said to that kind of dismissive garbage. As far as I know there isn't a good analogue for Yom Kippur in Christianity, at least in this country, being a day when It would be questionable to feature Christianity or Latin.

And no, this has nothing to do with cultural appropriation. Just a lack of awareness or a misguided sense of timing. In fact I'd argue that this being the NYT, the theme taken out of the Yom Kippur context is very culturally...well, appropriate! (But I also don't know that cultural appropriation is a concept that can even be applied to crossword puzzles, unless anyone thinks doing cryptics is an appropriation of British culture.)

jae 5:11 PM  

On a recent trip to a resort in Ojai, CA I rearranged bottles in the mini-bar to try to fit in some water bottles we’d brought with us. I couldn’t create enough room so I had a mini-refrigerator sent to the room (no charge). When I went to check out I found I’d been charged to the bottles I’d moved. They deleted the charges, but I suspect that the newest generation of mini-bars are (@David Schinnerer) smart.

Anonymous 5:36 PM  

Stop the world for Yom Kippur!

Z 5:37 PM  

@S.Green - At what point does a dialect become its own language? A couple of weeks ago a British commentator doing a match on NBCSN came on and apologized for referring to a cigarette as a “fag.” Are we speaking English or something else? YIDDISH evolved from German and Hebrew, so what, exactly makes it a “language” rather than just a “dialect?” I don’t know what differentiates the two, so just accept what I find on the internet. Nevertheless, I think it is a fair question.

@Catherine - Your comparison is akin to comparing a birthday to a funeral. That is, you reflect on a person’s life on both days, but one would not reflect in the same way. As @ZenMonkey said, not really appropriate for the holiest (most sacred) day of the year. I have other issues with the puzzle, but I certainly understand this complaint.

I’m really not understanding the BOARD nit. Sure, a 2x4 is a type of BOARD that you might use for a stud. That doesn’t make it not a BOARD. Is there something else about a 2x4 that makes it not a BOARD?

As for the ethics question - of course that’s unethical. Two things. If I borrow my neighbor’s car without telling them and return it with a full tank of gas and and oil change would that be okay? Second, as a guest in a hotel you’re not just paying for the item, you’re also paying for the convenience of having that item in the room, of not having to venture out to the local store for the TCHOTCHKE. Even if you return an identical item you’ve still stolen the labor involved in stocking the MINIBAR for you.

Finally, I read Chen’s comments over at xword.com. Wow. This is the improved fill? Wow.

Anoa Bob 6:03 PM  

I dropped in BOARD right away off the "2X4" clue. Sounded fine to me. My grandfather was a carpenter and I can remember as a child going with him to the sawmills and watching logs getting sawn up into BOARDs. They would then be milled or planed flat on all four sides so that the dimensions of rough-cut BOARD would be different from the finished version. Here's a guide to differences between the nominal and actual BOARD sizes.

Nominal vs Actual BOARD Sizes

Anonymous 6:43 PM  

"Sure, a 2 x4 is atype of board..."
That's an error in logic. It even has a name: petitio principii.

GILL I. 8:06 PM  

@Z...Good post. I actually agree on EVERYTHING you said.
As for the mini bar. They kill me every time and they know it. Most have those damn sensors and if you happen to open the mini bar just looking to see what they have, they charge you.
My Mini Bar story:
Several years ago, my husband and I had received a comp for two nights at the Four Seasons Hotel in San Francisco. They charge the equivalent of a months mortgage on a million dollar home.....PER NIGHT.
I had attended a Sales Convention for the airline/hotel industry and won the grand prize giveaway. What a treat...
As we entered our incredible suite, there was a complimentary bottle of some very nice white wine. I know it must have been expensive because that's what The Four Seasons did. I opened the mini bar and moved some stuff around in order to put the wine in a cold fridge. We didn't check-out since nothing had been charged to the room, however....a week later, we got a notice that my credit card had been charge $100 for "Use Of The Mini Bar." We didn't even drink the wine!

pabloinnh 8:33 PM  

In these pahts, a 2x4 is a 2x4. A 2x6 is a 2X6. Anything 2" thick and widah than 6" is a damn plank.

Catherine 8:48 PM  

@zen monkey, Because of the reaction to the timing, I raised my 1:39 post, which was not set in a 'birthday party' atmosphere per @Z, but a very serious and solemn gathering of women - so much suffering, so much inequality, so much to do to hope to be taken seriously - I tried to create a similar situation albeit secular but just as deeply personal to my kind, so we could draw comparisons. I would appreciate a women's themed puzzle on such a serious and important day, the acknowledgement, the nod, the chance to expose our kind to others, too, as long as it wasn't demeaning.

You said that maybe this is such a Jewish thing that Gentiles felt comfortable laughing. I was not laughing.

OISK 9:02 PM  

Exactly what @Zenmonkey said. I am writing now, because I don't write on Yom Kippur. The puzzle was cute, and I'm not "offended" that I had to wait until after 8 PM to do it, but out of all the days of the year, why today? Anonymous 11:49 doesn't "like" my excessively strict religion. However, observant Jews are allowed to read, stroll, enjoy nature - although even an only semi-observant guy like me spends most of the day in synagogue.

JC66 9:22 PM  

No one's mentioned that it's "Talk Like a Pirate Day."

Anonymous 11:08 PM  

Agree that it's poor timing (despite finishing in time to maintain my streak (at least until Sukkot next week)) but MEGILLAH ISN'T YIDDISH, it's Hebrew. Also keen to express my annoyance at English transliteration in word puzzles. Anyway, gmar tov.

Wordsmith 11:19 PM  

Megillah is a Hebrew word which means “Scroll”. These are sacred texts which are read at specific times during the Jewish Cakendar year. Because they are long, the vernacular translation of a Gantza Megillah is “a long story”. I agree that the theme is peculiar for Yom Kippur ( Day of Atonement) which is a day of serious self reflection done in the midst of one’s community. But the puzzle was fun, which is important, too.

SquarePeg 10:34 AM  

Solid enough to enjoy throughout, but I agree that it's missing the fun revealer, or clever twist. Was fun that I didn't think I would know most of them, and wound up being familiar with all but two.

Isn't 60D ("Uncle!"/IGIVE) missing an UP? What is "IGIVE?" G was my final letter because I thought I must be missing something.

Between this puzzle and Tuesday's, we've reach our quota of Hs this week already!

claypool 9:24 AM  

I realize I am late on this, but Icouldn’t resist a few comments.

First, Yom Kippur for observant Jews is a very solemn day of fasting and reflection, spent in synagoggue and self-reflection. While of course beliefs and practices among Jews differ widely (as a look at these comments makes clear), doing a crossword puzzle, or even writing at all, is undoubtedly viewed by traditional Jewish law as forbidden. So I do think it was insensitive of the Times to publish this puzzle on Yom Kippur, when many observant Jews could not do it.

Second, linguistics professors who deal with these matters invariably classify Yiddish as a language, not a dialect. To be sure, it had its origins in an older form of German (as did English), but it is no more a pidgin mixture of German and Hebrew than English is a pidgin mixture of German and Latin. Yiddish grammar, though related to German, is quite different in numerous respects, including word order, verb tenses and inflections, case endings of nouns, etc. It. Is spelled and pronounced quite differently from German. And as to vocabulary, while most words probably are of German origin (though they frequently have different meanings in Yiddish), many words are of Hebrew or Slavic origin, and there are a few that are of Romance origin or derive from other languages. Yiddish is written using the Hebrew alphabet, not the Roman alphabet (which is why English spelling of Yiddish words tends not to be standardized). While 5 million of the 6 million Jews murdered in the Holocaust spoke Yiddish, there remain more than a million people around the world (mostly, but not all, Hasidic Jews) who speak Yiddish today. To see what Yiddish looks like go to the website of the Yiddish Forward newspaper at Yiddish.Forward.com.

Third, it makes no sense to ask whether words that are common to Yiddish and Hebrew actually belong to one or the other language. Actually “chutzpah,” like “megillah,” is a Yiddish word of Hebrew origin. But both are perfectly good Yiddish words, just like many English words that are derived from French and have French cognates (such as “blouse”).

kitshef 5:37 PM  

One of the easiest Wednesdays ever ... and that's with me being apparently the only person in the blogosphere not intimately familiar with DR OZ.

Burma Shave 10:08 AM  


Don’t be MADD, LIZA DEERE, IGIVE you credit,
INURE defense, that BIGMOUTH’s not your fault,
but OYGEVALT! So VERKLEMPT and airheaded,
you HAD the CHUTZPAH to sing with such SCHMALTZ.


Diana, LIW 11:20 AM  

Yeah @PatrickO - (see very first comment - cute)

Easy Wednesday, except for a few spellings. So many Zs. Who knew? (Oy)

Makes me think of bagels, and, you know, lox. OUI?

Lady Di

rondo 11:36 AM  

YIDDISH is another language I don’t speak (or spell), so I was glad to get OUTTA here with no write-overs. Give the man a CIGAR. After that NW corner I was wondering if this would be an attempt at the fewest vowels ever in a xword; just look at CTRLZ.

Until a college class, Magilla [sic] was a cartoon gorilla to me. I guess the reading of that whole MEGILLAH scroll must take quite some time. OY.

Around here, years ago you could get Schmidt beer in the BIGMOUTH bottle, a much larger opening than found on Mickey’s SCHMALTZ liquor.

Wasn’t TCHOTCHKE Fonzie’s nephew and Joanie’s YIDDISH boyfriend? Or maybe I was thinking of some Bohemian pastry?

LIZA in Cabaret, yeah baby.

So it’s a list. Big deal, I’m on BOARD with that.

thefogman 11:48 AM  

Rex is being a banana-headed Bert again - or should I say he's being a SCMUCK. What else is new? Anyways, I loved this puzzle. I learned three new Yiddish words/phrases: TCHOTCHKE, OYGEVALT and MEGILLAH. Alas, I had VeCe/TeC instead of VICI/TIC. Oy vey! But Olé to Scot Ober and Jeff Chen for a fun and educational puzzle.

spacecraft 11:52 AM  

Never thought I'd get through a Chen this fast. Enjoyable; boos to OFL for killing the mood. Another day one should SKIP him. Birdie.

leftcoastTAM 1:20 PM  

First thought: Oh no, a Jeff Chen, and maybe obscure anagrams to boot!

Second thought: Oh, not anagrams, but familiar YIDDISH words, thank god.

Outcome: Easy, just a scary RUSE providing an instant sense of relief.

Anyhoo, thanks Jeff and Scot.

rainforest 5:54 PM  

Yiddish words are just plain fun to say. It is a playful language, and so this puzzle was a very enjoyable to solve. I knew 5 of the 6 themers, OYGEVALT being a new one for me. I must find an occasion to say that in conversation.

VERKLEMPT is such a uniquely descriptive word. The first time I heard it occurred after I had said my farewell to the staff at a Middle School I had helped open as VP. I loved the place; the kids; the staff; the parents. Afterwards the Principal said to me, "you got a little VERKLEMPT there". It just described so accurately how I had felt. Great word, but OY GELVALT, I was somewhat embarrassed.

Seems like a theme to me, maybe a bit of a lark, but fun.

@Rondo - I once made the mistake of buying Schmidt beer. Never again.

Anonymous 10:33 AM  

Israir is a well known airline. To people who knows airlines. Why should only people who know Shakespeare know how to solve crosswords?

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