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Thursday, October 4, 2018

Constructor: Joon Pahk

Relative difficulty: Easy (3:53)

THEME: SODA MIXER (60A: Ingredient in some cocktails ... or a hint to the last words in 17-, 23-, 32-, 43- and 48-Across) — the last words of the themers can be "mixed" (i.e. anagrammed) to make the name of a "soda":

Theme answers:
  • 17A: It might pop out of a kid's mouth (BUBBLE GUM) (Mug)
  • 23A: Heavy metal band whose name is a euphemism for "Jesus Christ!" (JUDAS PRIEST) (Sprite)
  • 32A: Main connections, of a sort (GAS PIPES) (Pepsi)
  • 43A: Fashion designer whose namesake brand features a rhinoceros in its logo) (MARC ECKO) (Coke)
  • 48A: Swinger's club [wink] (BASEBALL BAT) (Tab)
Word of the Day: JUDAS PRIEST (23A) —
Judas Priest are an English heavy metal band formed in West Bromwich in 1969. The band have sold over 50 million copies of their albums to date. They are frequently ranked as one of the greatest metal bands of all time. Despite an innovative and pioneering body of work in the latter half of the 1970s, the band struggled with indifferent record production, repeated changes of drummer, and lack of major commercial success or attention until 1980, when they adopted a more simplified sound on the album British Steel, which helped shoot them to rock superstar status. (wikipedia)
• • •

Jooooon! Haven't seen his name on an NYT byline in a while. So my first impressions of this puzzle are that it's a Wednesday puzzle. It was Wednesday-easy, and it was really a Wednesday type of puzzle. Tuesday, even. The only thing "Thursday" about it had nothing to do with the solving experience and everything to do with figuring out what the hell SODA MIXER has to do with those "last words." So the difficulty, such as there is, comes entirely post-solve. There are so many short answers that the puzzle is very, very easy to tear right through, despite a preponderance of narrow passageways (you know, those one-square-wide openings connecting one segment of the puzzle to another—they're all over the place, and they can inhibit flow ... but not today). What's really cool about this grid, and really instructive (I hope) to other constructors, is that The Fill Doesn't Suck. Usually, when a grid is designed such that 3- and 4-letter words abound, all kind of crap finds its way in there. And, OK, I'm not swooning over AAS or AMINO, but the point is that there's not a boatload of junk here. No random Roman numerals, no awkward abbrevs., and a bunch of very short two-word phrases that keep the those smallish corners unpredictable and interesting (NEW AT, TO NOW, SET UP, SIT AT, IN USE). Ironically, the only place where my progress through this grid was INHIBITED was ... (guess).

There is something really off about the revealer. The "ingredient" is SODA WATER. The word MIXER ... well, first, let's just say the phrase "SODA MIXER" googles pretty poorly. Even googling ["soda water" mixer] yields considerably more results. The word MIXER contains the idea of an added "ingredient," so SODA MIXER feels like not just a weak answer, but a semi-redundant answer. You would never, ever see an "ingredients" list for a cocktail that called for a SODA MIXER. The ingredient is "soda water" or "club soda." I know that the entire, admittedly cute theme rests on the phrase SODA MIXER, but I like cocktails almost as much as I like linguistic precision, so this answer was off-the-plate for me.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


jae 12:04 AM  

Smooth grid but @Rex much too easy for a Thurs.

Randy (Boulder) 12:10 AM  

Quick solve, but I had zero idea what to make of the theme until I came here.

cnsouth 12:26 AM  

Rex, I think the point is that the jumbled up beverages are frequently referred to as mixers. So when someone orders a rum and coke (a cocktail, such as it is) the coke is is the mixer in the beverage. Soda water/club soda has nothing to do with it.

chris b 12:31 AM  

I agree this was easy except for the NE corner which had two obscure trivia answers (NANCE, OCARINA) and two that elicited a "huh?" from me even after I finally got them (AMAIN, ICONS). Really slowed down my time there.

Tom 12:34 AM  

Yup. No clue how the revealer related to the ends of the indicated answers. Agree that SODA MIXER is nonexistent thing in the world of cocktails. I know a couple of bartenders. Texted them. Not a thing. Scotch and soda. Mud in your eye. No mixer to follow. Breezed through the puzzle 1/3 faster than typical for Thursday. All gettable except for the cleverness of getting the MIXture. Ah well. Had a Chopin martini earlier, two olives, all is well. No MIXER.

travis 12:51 AM  

My only familiarity with Tab is the joke in Back to the Future which at least according to Wikipedia was made at the tail end of Tab's height in popularity.

Trombone Tom 1:01 AM  

Agree with @Rex. Except for parsing the mixers this is not a Thursday puzzle. So nice to see our old friend Joon Pahk.

Larry Gilstrap 1:14 AM  

Theme offered no help in the solve. Fill the puzzle and start the CSI. Those were some of the least obnoxious anagrams I have ever seen, with the exception of GUM. Not a skill for me, morphing words into words. The revealer is not really a real thing, but OFL's beef seemed tempered. Notice?

I guess we all should know John NANCE Garner, but Dave STEIB's career was only good enough for BASEBALL fans to remember, but I'm always thinking of others. I barely recall the MARC ECKO brand. Perhaps it wasn't big in the West.

I totally mis-thought the clue for 5D resulting in AWE, but after review, I confirm the call on the field.

okanaganer 1:31 AM  

Erred at DAL / YOLO; even when I knew I had guessed wrong I ran most of the alphabet before hitting gold. Never heard of either answer. And why?? why is there such an obscure cross in an area of completely forgettable answers. Why not, say, DAY / YOYO? Jeepers.

puzzlehoarder 1:36 AM  

Mostly an easy Thursday except for where it wasn't. My downfall was DAL crossing YOLO. Indian food is a weak point for me in general. I don't use terms like YOLO so they're difficult to remember just from puzzles.

The clue for NINA is a debut. The one previous time PENS was clued this way was a Sunday which I'm sure I didn't do. However it's a common word crossing a common name so no harm done.

DAL it turns out was used just under a year ago but somehow it slipped through the cracks. I never used to do Sunday puzzles (DAL was in one from 8 years ago) so last year would have been the only chance of my seeing that word.

Before getting a cell phone and finding this blog I didn't bother with early week puzzles. I'm slowly realizing how much ese I've missed. I only did the puzzles at the firehouse back then. I never went on the internet either. The good old days. Or at least old. I'm sure my wife sometimes wishes she'd never got me a phone.

Anonymous 1:54 AM  

Breezed through it with no resistance anywhere in the grid. Didn't get the theme even after the "reveal" and had to read Rex's column to understand it. Unsatisfying and not very Thursday-like.

JOHN X 2:03 AM  

This was a strange puzzle. Some of these words looked like they were in English but I'm not sure. SODAMIXER? GASPIPES? WOOT? AMAIN? Have you ever heard of anything being "amain" ever?

I kept expecting a Thursday gimmick somewhere but there was none. When I learned that the seond part of the themers was a mixed-up soda brand I was pretty underwhelmed.

Greg 2:37 AM  

Just a bit of trouble with the NE, in that I have never heard of AMAIN, at least up TONOW.

Anonymous 3:49 AM  

WOOT? I had WOOP, the “p” turning UTMOST with UPMOST, which is a real word and imho far less obscure than WOOT (had to look it up). Granted, “whoop” is the common (only?) spelling, so WOOP did give me pause but only for a second, because WOOT? WHAT?

Franck Hanselman 4:45 AM  

Soda mixer is a generic term for any soft drink that is/can be part of a cocktail: coke, 7-Up, ginger ale, etc.

JB in VT 4:50 AM  

Didn’t know the MUG brand, but having googled it, and then “root beer in cocktails” there is nothing I’ve ever heard of on the hit lists. Never thought of root beer as a mixer. Am I missing out?

Anonymous 5:11 AM  

MUG? What is that?

Lewis 6:27 AM  

It's been a bit more than three years since we've seen one of Joon's puzzles in the NYT. I remember when he was on Jeopardy -- for eight days with $199K in winnings. Now it looks like he's teaching physics at Harvard. And he has a crosswords site.

I saw the theme SODA MIXER as simply anagrams of soda brands. The theme is tight. I suppose you could put in BROOKLYN BRIDGE (for Big Red, but that's not a very well known brand). FRESCA anagrams to "farces", but is there an in-the-language phrase that ends in that word? Are there any other possibilities?

Lovely clues for ICONS, TOLLS, BASEBALL BAT and TRAY, and it was fun to do a two-for-one puzzle, that is, a crossword with a Jumble chaser. Good to see you back, Joon!

Mrs whipple 6:28 AM  

Mug is the best root beer, but anyone using it as a cocktail mixer has probably had too much to drink already.

Grok the theme. 6:34 AM  

Yes, JB, you are. Bigly.

Anonymous 6:41 AM  

John Nance Garner was quoted by Lyndon Johnson as saying that the position of vice president of the United States wasn't worth a bucket of warm spit. So let's show some respect here.

Loved the clue for Baseball Bat. That's Academy Award winning stuff right there.

J. Beam 6:56 AM  

Seven & Seven, Rye and Ginger, Rum and Coke, and Root Beer Fizz are examples of widely known cocktails (whose popularity wane and wane over time) that use soda as a mixer. It's fair to say, then that Joon was not referring to club soda (or soda water) in the revealer, but to these various types of soda that are used as mixers: hence, soda mixers.

kitshef 7:12 AM  

I found this pretty tough, mostly due to MARC EKCO and a slew of wrong guesses in the south:
Sour MIXEs before SODA MIXER
hair before SHAG
GLAzed before GLASSY
hah before OHO
INHarness before INHIBITED
eMiRate before AMERICA
ere before AGO.

Plus had a double-DNF at BeBe/STeEB/OLeO – OLeO/OLIO always gets me. Usually I wait for the cross but that was no help today.

Suzie Q 7:31 AM  

I didn't get the theme either. Too bad 'cause I usually like Joon's puzzles. He certainly is being cut some slack in the review.
I'm surprised that @ JOHN X is the first to point out the ridiculous Woot. What?
I thought mal just meant bad. Evil must surely have a stronger word.
So High Sierra is an operating system?
I have never heard of Marc Ecko. That seems like a weak theme answer.
Add Laid out to the phrase answers. Seemed like too many for one grid.
My favorite clue was "Choice A for Hamlet". Makes it sound like he's ordering from a menu and so casual for such a serious question.
Lastly, I have no idea what YOLO stands for.

michiganman 7:33 AM  

MAORI didn't make the NE any easier, either.

Joe R. 7:36 AM  

Breezed through this one, beating my Thursday average by over 7 minutes and setting a new best time for Thurs. The only spot where I slowed down was that I wrote in SODAWATER, even though I couldn't figure out how that related to the rest of the answers. The crosses quickly corrected that, though, but I still didn't get the theme of mixing up the names of sodas until I came here.

Odd Sock 7:41 AM  

The only possible alcohol I can imagine mixing with root beer is rum. And that would only fly if I was already drunk.
But I think the theme did not actually imply mixed drinks and we might be thinking in the wrong direction. Mix up soda name brands and leave it at that.
Even so, not perhaps Joon Pahk's strongest effort.
When he won on Jeopardy didn't he donate his winnings to charity?
He seems like an all-around nice guy. Rex certainly likes him. Otherwise he would have torn this to pieces. Can you imagine if Bruce Haight had made this one?

Hungry Mother 7:46 AM  

Very fast, but a wag at MARCECKO. Freaky Thursday with unfilled expectations.

Preferred Customer 7:48 AM  

@cnsouth then soda shouldn't be in the reveal.

Anonymous 7:50 AM  

I could not get AMAIN. It was one part of a natickfest in the NE.

Definition of amain

1 : with all one's might the soul strives amain to live and work —R. W. Emerson

2 archaic

a : at full speed

b : in great haste

I wondered if it had anything to do with sailing.

Anonymous 7:52 AM  

Root beer mixes well with vanilla ice cream (no kale please)

Anonymous 7:54 AM  

See Rex

Joe 7:56 AM  

No one going to mention that brutal Stieb Bibi cross? Never heard of either answer so that was rough. Had to be a vowel, it seemed, but it's still a horrible cross of two ridiculous proper names.

QuasiMojo 8:00 AM  

This seemed like a concept in need of an editor. The Soda Mixer idea makes no sense grammatically or thematically. The sodas are “mixed” but who is the mixer and why? A “mixer” for me refers to the party, not the sodas used to make cocktails. “Mixed Sodas” would have made sense but even then not a thing really. And as Rex pointed out there is no stand alone phrase “soda mixer” except perhaps as a green paint sort of thing. “Oh Nina can you pass me that soda mixer there. You know, the root beer one named Mug. Oh it’s Dad’s? I guess I need my glasses. No I didn’t ask for more glasses. But thanks for asking. Got any Alka Seltzer?”

Factoid: TAB used to have a root beer and a ginger ale version, among other flavors.

Anonymous 8:01 AM  

Gettable? Yes.

Solvable well below average time? Absolutely.

Record fast easy? Only if you guessed right every single time.

If you put Leapt instead of LOPED at 67A, that was costly, as was fIvE instead of NINE at 55D (for those of us who don't know anything about soccer). And the NW had a little zip to it, with STIEB/BIBI.

GHarris 8:23 AM  

Agree it was easy except for the theme which I never grasped. And had to make a wild guess to get the l where dal crossed yolo which even autocorrect doesn't like.C'mon.

ncmathsadist 8:28 AM  

The theme totally eluded me until I read your column.

Just say no to Tab 8:34 AM  

To everyone who is trying to justify the SODA MIXER idea as any soft drink that can be used as a mixer...that may be the case out in the wild, but in this puzzle I'm pretty sure that root beer and Tab (ugh) are not go-to mixers. I suppose there are some who drink rum and root beer (I don't know who those people are), but god, no. Diet Coke, yes; Tab, no.

I'm not even sure what Tab's flavor really was. It might have been that elusive "cola" flavor that's not found in nature, but if it was it was a terrible approximation. As a kid who loved pretty much anything carbonated,

Too bad Fresca wasn't included in the is 1000x more popular as a mixer than root beer or freaking Tab. It probably wasn't included because "farces" or "facers" didn't fit.

GILL I. 8:47 AM  

Was this submitted during Joon's reign as king of trivia on jeopardy?
Everything in here felt OLD. LOBS GLUT AMAIN yada yada. With the exception of the great BASEBALL BAT, I breezed through it all. It seems like every answer was a blast from the past. My only hiccup and a DNF is putting in BEBE instead of Netanyahu's BIBI.
35A: "TO..." things = ODES???? yikes and ugh. A stone-cold cinch is LOCK??? EGAD and ugh.
I want my Thursday to pop. This one fizzled for me.
I had to finish this very dull puzzle before I gathered the very boring theme. First, I don't think I've ever put anything other than COKE (for a Cuba Libre) into a cocktail. That's Ok....some people like to hide the taste of wonderful liquor. Second, I'm with @Rex....SODA MIXER? What a reveal? BOOOORING.
NEW AT SET UP SIT AT LAID OUT.....Had anyone else used those words, I think @Rex would have exploded.
Sorry, @Joon. Loved you as a Jeopardy champ but this puzzle wasn't meant for Thursday. I'll put the blame on Will.

kitshef 8:49 AM  

@Suzie Q - YOLO = You Only Live Once ... which would seem to me to be an argument NOT to do something reckless, but as noted in the puzzle is often used to justify such activity.

Lewis 8:52 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Whatsername 8:59 AM  

I didn’t love this and while I had the revealer and all of the theme answers, I still didn’t get it. Now that I know, it doesn’t really change my opinion that this was a rather underwhelming puzzle or at least the experience of solving it certainly was. I’m not much of a drinker but seriously, before breakfast I gagged at the thought of a cocktail containing either root beer or Tab.

@ SusieQ: I’m guessing but I think YOLO means you only live once.

In my neck of the words (Midwest), “woot” is an exclamation used when touting your favorite team - as in the undefeated Kansas City Chiefs. WOOT! WOOT!

Anonymous 9:02 AM  

The flavor ingredient in Coca Cola is: NUTMEG

Anonymous 9:16 AM  

YOLO = You Only Live Once = "Here, hold my beer . . ."

Amelia 9:22 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
BarbieBarbie 9:26 AM  

Ok I am old enough to be heading to a big college reunion this weekend. And I am completely familiar with both WOOT and YOLO. Yippee and You Only Live Once, respectively, and in common use. SODA, on the other hand, is a regionalism. NYC is arguably in the right region, so I guess it’s fair. Soda, soda pop, pop, coke (generic), and whatever they say in Boston.
I liked this puzzle for a Wednesday but the theme wasn’t tricky enough to be a Thursday.

Rube 9:28 AM  

WOOT is not a word. This is poor editing. The w could have easily been changed for a b,c,l,r,s,t, or others. No need for this kind if made up word. No excuse

Z 9:28 AM  

Best. Tuesday. Puzzle. Ever.

I must object to WOOT. The only correct spelling is W00T. Anyone using O’s is just contributing to the degradation of the English language.

That clue for 32A is an editorial faux pas.. Yeah yeah, not the same meaning as AMAIN, but can anyone really argue that different verbiage would not be an improvement.

I think cocktail purists cast a dark side eye on MIXERS like COKE or SPRITE (we* won’t even deign to acknowledge MUG). Hence, Rex misses the theme for two days in a row, although today is a foul tip compared to yesterday’s flailing swing and miss. Hey, it’s the postseason, let the kids play.**

Speaking of which, Dave STIEB is definitely a deep cut and crossing him with BIBI and LBJ struck me as potentially double-naticking people.

*My knowledge of cocktails is about as extensive as my knowledge of opera, but you don’t need to know much to crinkle your nose at the though of a root beer mixer.
** That’s a reference to MLB’s new ad for those of you who don’t enjoy America’s Pastime.

Anonymous 9:39 AM  

An execrable puzzle for several reasons. As @Rex points out, "soda water" is a mixer -- "soda mixer" is not a thing. TABS is a plural, the other endings are not -- thus an inconsistent theme. There's no fun in discovering the anagrams -- not clever, too short to be hard.

IMO, worst Thursday in memory.

Anonymous 9:42 AM  

"Then let us all rejoice amain
On Christmas Day in the morning."

relicofthe60s 9:43 AM  

John Nance Garner’s famous quote about the vice presidency was cleaned up for public consumption. What he actually said was that it wasn’t worth a pitcher of warm piss.

Anonymous 9:48 AM  

WOOP is a word as is UPMOST...Could Rex have gotten that wrong?

SJ Austin 9:48 AM  

Yeah… soda mixer is not a thing that I'm aware of. And I couldn't quite figure it out, even only missing DA (I hate "AGO" clued that way, but I should probably get used to it). Left a bad taste in my mouth after an otherwise breezy and pleasant puzzle.

Adam 9:56 AM  

Meh. I found this more difficult than it should have been, and not that much fun. Anagrammed sodas? I've been doing HEX's puzzles for years in the Atlantic and now the WSJ and so immediately got that SODA MIXER was an indicator for an anagram. But AMAIN? If you Google it a definition doesn't come up until the third entry (and even now, with Grammarly running in the background, it's underlined in red; Grammarly suggests I meant "Again"). And I agree with @Rex about the revealer - a "SODA MIXER" is not an ingredient in some cocktails - SODA is, or a MIXER, but not a SODA MIXER.

To be fair, most of the fill was gettable by crosses; I'm no soccer expert, but when I put down INEPT I figured that the striker's number was NINE. But really, am I supposed to know that? And STIEB? Again, got him from crosses. And I've never heard of MARK ECKO; got him from the crosses as well.


Sir Hillary 9:56 AM  

I've never met him, but Joon seems like one of the nicest and most positive people in puzzledom. I subscribe to his "Outside The Box" set of Rows Gardens and variety puzzles, and they never disappoint. He also unfailingly blogs Matt Gaffney's weekly meta on Fiend, and his reviews are always well-written and balanced. Plus, he loves sports (especially soccer) and his jeopardy prowess and current faculty position mark him as a really smart guy, so I imagine he'd be fun to engage over beers. All to say, when I learned earlier this week that he had authored today's NYT puzzle, I was quite excited.

Sadly, this was a disappointment. The "mixes" themselves are good, but SODAMIXER is a BS revealer. @Rex is clearly wearing blinders today, because if AMAIN, AMINO, MAC, MAL, AAS, ERAS, OLIO and TOBE don't constitute some junky fill, then I don't know what does. And, as nearly everyone has noted, this is comically easy for a Thursday, although that's on Will, not Joon. I had the same thought as @GILL I. -- that this had been sitting in Will's drawer for quite some time.

There are some great clues (for BASEBALLBAT, SHAG and TOBE) and some good longer fill (ANTARCTIC, UTMOST, LAIDOUT) but not enough to overcome the weaknesses. I suppose if this were Tuesday I would be more forgiving, and I'm probably putting Joon on too much of a pedestal, but unfortunately this one fell way short of my expectations.

GILL I. 9:58 AM  

@Lewis: I could only come up with two:
NAFTA...Cocktail: Monkey Spam. Bailey's Irish Cream and Fanta
SKI SUIT...Cocktail: Sweet Tart. Kool-Aid, Sunkist and vodka.

Since it's too early to walk the pups, I looked up cocktails made with root beer....
My favorite is called "Captain Climer": Spiced rum, Bailey's Irish Cream and root beer.
A favorite is called "Afghanistan Whore". yowza. It's got rum, vodka and root beer.

It's gotta be 5.00 o'clock somewhere.

Anonymous 9:59 AM  

(Amain is the way a vessel moves on the "main sea" - the open water where you can go full speed ahead without fear of anything, including icebergs, especially if your name is Captain Smith, and you work in a capitalist system that doesn't care about human lives, just money and headlines. And you are too big to fail. MAGA!)

jberg 10:00 AM  

OK, folks, the SODA in the revealer is a MIXER -- the sodas that are mixed in the theme answers are not meant to be mixers, necessarily -- that's a feature, not a bug, using the word in different senses.

I'm 74, and I've heard "WOOT" (more commonly "WOOT! WOOT!") a lot -- or at least read it on Twitter, usually posted by journalists in their 30s. OTOH -- we spend our spring breaks (3 weeks long since we retired) on an island in the Gulf of Mexico where one local business is called "YOLO Watersports" they rent jet skis and will tow you around behind a boat flying with a big kite. I think I had been going there 8 or 10 years before I realized what the name meant. (@kitshef the implication is that not only do you live only once, but you are going to die anyway, so you might as well seize the chance to do something adventurous.)

GAS PIPES feels a little morbid here in Massachusetts -- a couple weeks ago the gas company that serves some small cities to the north let the pressure in them get too high, setting off a total of 39 explosions. Only one person dies, but many houses were destroyed, and most of the city is still without gas service; the target date to restore it is still 6 weeks away. Not the constructor's fault, but it was weird to write that in.

I never heard of MARC ECKO, and it took forever to figure out the clue for ODES (really clever, from hindsight); but what kept me from finishing in the full sense (i.e., figuring out the theme answers) was that I had no idea about MUG. Thanks for supplying the photo, @Rex, or I'd still be doubting it!

I also questioned AMAIN until I looked it up -- I'd heard the word, but only in the sense of "strong," as in "force AMAIN." But with speed is an alternate meaning, apparently. I'd had ApAce, but MAORI couldn't be anything else, so that fixed that.

Nancy 10:00 AM  

So how many of you said as you were solving: "Wow, there's a mixed-up PEPSI!!! Wow, there's a mixed up SPRITE!!! Wow, and there's a mixed-up TAB!!!" As you were solving, guys. Not after. Anyone say that??? No one??? Pity.

(And what, pray tell, is WOOT?)

A theme for the constructor, not the solver. Would have been awful, even on a Tuesday or Wednesday. And today is Thursday. A crashing disappointment.

Hungry Mother 10:02 AM  

I see WOOT a lot on FaceBook, but only from very competitive women runners and triathletes. I’ve never used it.

Anonymous 10:05 AM  

The revealer has nothing to do with cocktail mixers. You are overthinking it. It is just mixed up soda names. No alcohol included.

Suzie Q 10:07 AM  

Thanks to all for the YOLO explanation. Sure sounds like some famous last words. "Hold my beer" I have heard and always makes me chuckle.

Masked and Anonymous 10:08 AM  

I detect very MIXED feelings for this puztheme, in the Comments Gallery. SODA U?
Didn't know MUG soda or how to parse the unknown-to-m&e MARCECKO, so I wasn't catchin on to the theme early -- not until many regroupin-nanoseconds after the solvequest, in fact. Pop Anagrams! OK, then.

Good to see the joonmeister back in the NYT ballgame. He can still cook up a mighty solid puzgrid. I had WOOP instead of W-zero-zero-T, so I thought I had dredged up a dab of desperation, but I reckon not.

staff weeject picks: DAL & MAL.

fave themer: GASPEPSI.
fave non-themers: ANTARCTIC. DEPTH. GLASSY.

Thanx for an easy workout, joon.

Masked & Anonymo6Us

Anonymous 10:09 AM  

Anybody else think Joon Pahk is a friend of Rex?
Sod mixer? wow. Just wow.
Imagine if Bruce Haight had authored this ill-conceived piece of dung? My God!
Rex, your bias is showing

Hungry Mother 10:12 AM

MaxK 10:15 AM  

That’s how his statement was sanitized. Original, I’ve read, was warm piss.

Chris 10:22 AM  

WOOT actually comes from the old, old days of computer gaming where you would explore dungeons drawn out of ASCII characters. If you found treasure, the exclamation was "WOOT" a contraction of "Wow, loot!" It was also one of the first deal a day websites, originally tech stuff, now with several spin-offs and owned by Amazon and not so good.

Interesting to see today how diverse the hard parts were. For me, MAORI and NANCE were gimmes, but MARCECKO and NINA were unknown and I hate AMAIN.
Didn't know that about NINE, so that was good new knowledge.

RooMonster 10:35 AM  

Hey All !
Agree with NE causing trouble. ICONS as clued? Oof. ANNIE also.

A few of you don't know TAB? Wow, I feel old. :-) For a while, it was THE diet cola. And MUG root beer is definitely good. See also A&W, Barq's. And Cream Soda, mmmmmmm...

After getting revealer, looked at ECKO and saw COKE, so went back to the others and figured them out. PRIEST/SPRITE took a second.

Those young 'uns who haven't heard of TAB, do they say IM XER? Har.


Will 10:50 AM  

I actually used the theme to solve. I knew the brand ECKO, but didn't know the designer was MARCECKO. Some typos around ECKO were killing me in that section, so once I figured the theme I was easily able to get _CK_/coke into the right answer and catch my errors. Until I ran into that section I was coming in at record time. AMAIN was new for me. I wanted to change it, but I was too sure of the crosses.

When I was in college about a decade ago we would regularly ask "is there any mixer" by which we meant any juice or soda to mix with our bottom shelf liquor, so the revealer worked for me in that sense. Now my gin is slightly above the bottom shelf, and I use soda water and a lime wedge to avoid the sugar of the mixers in my college days.

Peter P 10:51 AM  

WOOT is actually the expression I'm most used to for joy, most often as WOOT WOOT, as in "I got the job, woot woot!" If you're into that early internet "leet speak" stuff, then I suppose it's "w00t w00t" I don't know anything about its etymology in dungeon crawls or anything like that -- I wasn't into that -- but it's used in general conversation these days. I just searched my emails, and the welcome email from Groovebook (an app where you print photos each month from your phone for a fixed price) starts with "Welcome Peter, Woot. Woot. We're excited that you joined Groovebook." So it's not super niche slang, but I concede that it's certainly at least generational (I'm 43.)

Tom R 10:56 AM  

Amazed at all the people who found this easy. It was way out of my strike zone. And then there is "Woot" WTF? Is this some new slang term? Not even Urban dictionary lists it as anything like "Yay" Try Googling it and see what you find. Then you cross that with AWE for flabbergasted feeling. I got news - I have been flabbergasted and I have been awed, but never in my life have I described flabbergasted in terms of awe. I just can't believe nobody else seems to have gone off on this. Well, different strokes for different folks I guess.

mmorgan 11:02 AM  

This was a very pleasant, enjoyable puzzle... until it wasn't. I had even been assuming it was a themeless, until I got to 60A... oh, so there's a theme here after all? But even after I filled in SODA MIXER and got Mr Happy Pencil, I was baffled. Stared and stared and the revealer and the theme answers, and.... nothing. I'd say it was just me being dense but so many others couldn't figure it out either. For me, not know Mug root beer sure didn't help. Strange to really like a puzzle but still be unable to find a connecting ah-ha across the themers and to have a revealer that only made things more perplexing.

mmorgan 11:07 AM  

Oh, also -- I say (and write) WOOT! all the time! It's a highly serviceable term!

JC66 11:29 AM  

I was able to solve this as an easy Wednesday, but, like @M&A, it took me just as long to figure out the anagrams. I had MUG (didn't know it was a soda), STRIPE and TAB. I stared at ECKO for many nanoseconds before the light bulb lit up.


A sports gambler who thinks he's made a strong bet may claim "it's a LOCK."

@Anon 9:39

TAB isn't TABs, it's crossed with MAL,not MAs.

Mary McCarty 11:31 AM  

Interesting that the Wordplay blog doesn’t include Constructor’s Notes, as it usually does; I would have liked to see Mr.Pahk’s reasoning on some of those clues, as there were several that didn’t quite seem “in the vernacular” (or maybe they were Editor choices?) TO NOW should be (UP) TO NOW; not one of Merriam-Webster’s definitions of AGAINST means merely “touching” (even this one includes includes the sense of opposition: 5a : in the direction of and into contact with “knocked against the ropes”; b : in contact with”leaning against the wall”); the many-times-mentioned non-phrase SODA MIXER; EXIT as just plain “out”, not “go out” or “way out”. I think GAS Lines is more common than GAS PIPES, but I can’t see frequency data on my Google; can someone check? AWE is a bit more reverent than “flabbergasted.” These are different from words just not in my “wheelhouse” like PEN, AMAIN, DAL, or proper nouns (STIEB): I do expect some challenges on Thursday.
In hind sight (and somewhat reluctantly) I can admire clues with misdirections (Swinger’s Club had me searching every kind of golf club I could imagine); I see now that ’Phone tap targets?”was misdirection from “wire taps”; but others are just wrong (AAAs are most common penlight battery) or weak (given the frequency of ODES in xword puzzles, TO “poems/ verses/ lines” would have rung truer than THINGS (just about anything is better than THINGS); “Before this time” is just an awkward replacement for “before NOW” which brings me full circle.

Hartley70 11:37 AM  

Does anyone else miss @Joon’s “Guess My Word!”? It was my fav unwind at the end of a day. I sure wish it could be revived. If @Rex hasn’t cheesed him off, he might even see this fan note!

I wasn’t snared by the DAL/YOLO mousetrap, thankfully, but I was gobsmacked to hear that ANNIE had another cinematic remake and there was a designer named MARCECKO. For a bit I couldn’t believe that anyone younger than dirt, who wasn’t Finnish, still remembered Marimekko.

I’m going to start counting the puzzles that don’t have a baseball clue. I bet I’ll never have to use both hands.

I’m ashamed to say that an anagram never occurred to me. Of course it was 2am when I solved so I wasn’t at my perky best. This is when @Rex is indispensable.

Anonymous 11:44 AM  

@Tom Rowe

Banana Diaquiri 11:45 AM  

FRESCA anagrams to "farces", but is there an in-the-language phrase that ends in that word?
"right wing politicians drink FRESCA"?

and, root beer, made right, is a real beer:
and, again, the only real (not alcoholic) root beer is Hires.

Anonymous 11:54 AM  

W00t is definitely internet slang, not made up. Not sure about spelling it with Os instead of 0s.

Banana Diaquiri 11:56 AM  

oh yeah. same for ginger beer, if anybody's curious:

Malsdemare 12:22 PM  

How could I not like it? The puzzle had a MAL in it!

AW 12:44 PM  

Completely agree with others here. Some of the cluing is weird and off. It's either TIL NOW or UP TO NOW or UNTIL NOW, but TO NOW? No. "Out" for EXIT doesn't work. AWE has a positive denotation; "flabbergasted" a negative one so they are not interchangeable. Finally, the clue for ODES is just awful. "Things"? Really?

Carola 1:00 PM  

Me, too, for 1) having high expectations upon seeing the constructor's name and 2) feeling let down by the theme. On a Thursday, I'd much rather have a puzzle that requires me to figure out the theme in order to complete the grid, rather than providing the sort of after-the-fact experience I had today. And I didn't think the fact that BAT anagrams to TAB and GUM to MUG is exactly WOOT-worthy.

I liked I'M GAME over BASEBALL BAT over AMERICA, SODA MIXER x GLASS(Y), and learning about AMAIN (here are the OED's two final citations for that usage; "1725 W. Broome in Pope et al. tr. Homer Odyssey III. xi. 150 'But vengeance hastes amain.'
1851 H. W. Longfellow Golden Legend iii. 119 'Here comes a third, who is spurring amain.'")

Teedmn 1:09 PM  

I nearly sealed my fate in the far south - 63D was "ere" 62D was DAL, 61D wanted to be OHO and blanking on 46D, GLA became GLAnce. So I had nODe MIXER for 60A and actually cared enough to figure out why (or why not).

I decided I'd better figure out the theme so I actually read the clue for 60A (I know, what a concept, eh?) Due to the MIXER in the reveal answer, I figured, "anagrams". So "mug". Then 23A, "stripe",huh?, then 43A had to be COKE, ah now we're getting somewhere. It didn't take me long to get the rest of the anagrams, figure out we were dealing with SODA MIXER and fix all of my mess in the south. W00T! (I didn't remember than one right away either).

I circled the clue for 12D as my favorite, "Phone tapping targets?" = ICONS, nice. And for some reason enjoyed 39A's "Touching" = AGAINST. "Touching" meaning emotionally meaningful or abutting, AGAINST meaning "anti" or abutting. It seems circular in some inexplicable way. I like it.

Not what I would choose for a Thursday puzzle, but as puzzles go in general, it's fine. Thanks, Joon.

Anonymous 1:09 PM  

Anonymous 9:39 AM

My puzzle had BAT-TAB, No "S"

If this is worst Thursday in memory, you must have forgotten last Thursday's mess.

Joe Bleaux 1:32 PM  

Or, Down South: "Hey, y'all, watch this!"

pabloinnh 1:36 PM  

Dave Stieb pitched a no-hitter for Toronto in 1990. AL East team, so they play Boston a lot, so I know something about them.

Does Cristiano Ronaldo wear #9? Does Lionel Messi? No, they wear #10, which is the number traditionally given to the team's best offensive player. I realize that 9 is a "striker's number", but it's not THE striker's number. And I should know, since 9 was my college soccer number,and I struck but infrequently.

MARCECKO was the only WOE for me. My knowledge of fashion designers is limited to answers in xword puzzles, I'm afraid. I suspect many puzzles could not have been written without the YSL initials.

Joe Dipinto 1:40 PM  

Whether or not these particular beverages are appropriate for cocktails is beside the point. *Soda* is used as a mixer in cocktails; these are all brands of soda that have their letters *mixed* up.

WOOT is definitely a word. The two word phrases that Rex likes are one of the reasons I hate this puzzle. TO NOW is not an expression in any kind of common use; it's TILL NOW or UP TO NOW.

Unknown 1:54 PM  

I think the widespread whinging about the inclusion of WOOT betrays the age of most of you geezers! seems only fair, considering how badly the rampant baby-boomer-gen trivia hampers the progress of us younger solvers.

WOOT is not really in common use these days, but it was absolutely ubiquitous in early-mid 2000s internet vernacular. the problem is generational, not one one of poor editing.

Teedmn 2:14 PM  

TaB as a mixer - TaB is the only soda we have in our house as I've been addicted to it since 1978 when I went to college and started gaining the freshman ten. Most people prefer Diet Coke (ugh) because TaB still has some saccharine in it, giving it the yucky aftertaste that I long became immune to but which strikes casual drinkers as horrible. When my husband decides to have a "big boy" drink of Captain/Diet at home, he mixes it with TaB and doesn't complain about it (too much).

Carola 3:09 PM  

@pabloinnh - And then there's #11 Miroslav Klose, who has scored the most World Cup goals. This one is my favorite.

Dick Swart 3:23 PM  

I kept looking for the Thursday trick. Easy finish but no fun.

Z 3:39 PM  

@pabloinnh - I had to stop and think about why NINE was correct, but I think it is. I think the 9 is usually the primary striker while the 10 is more the dominating attacking mid-fielder, but I think it all gets pretty muddled in commentary and on the pitch. For anyone curious about what we are babbling about, here is a decent explanation, but notice the differences between the three replies to the question and also note that no one actually cites a source.

As for Dave STIEB - He was pitching when my Tigers were still in the AL East. Remembering that just reinforces what BS the tie-breaker and Wild Card games are this week. Keep it Simple. Add two teams. Create 4 8-team leagues. The four Pennant winners play in the playoffs. None of this "we finished second so we still get a chance" garbage. And, sorry Damn Yankee fans (the team - not the fans), they finished a distant second. They should not be playing this month anymore than my hapless Tigers.

Anonymous 4:00 PM  


Reasonablewoman 4:09 PM  

What I learned from comments today:

Puzzle was too easy, thus bad.

Puzzle had too much that I don't know, too hard, thus bad.

I didn't get the theme. It was dumb, anyway. And even though I didn't get it, Thursday needs to be more challenging.

Constructors I like should never disappoint me.

I should try harder to obsess about Rex, whether I like him or not.

OR, I should solve the puzzle as it is and accept whatever pleasure or learning there is.

michiganman 4:29 PM  

I like your thinking regarding baseball playoffs. There are too many (loser) teams involved. I, too, am a long time Tiger fan. I'm still waiting for another 1968. Sadly, the current playoff structure isn't the only change that has made baseball less than it was.

Banana Diaquiri 5:56 PM  

the current playoff structure isn't the only change that has made baseball less than it was

the most heard complaint: "look at all those teams!!! player quality is so diluted!!!"

well... through 1960 there was just the World Series between the first team in each 8 team league.
pop. 1960 = 179000000
teams = 8 pop./team is 11187500

pop. 2010 = 346000000 (US + Dominican Republic = 9000000 + Venezuela = 28000000 next two largest sources of players)
teams = 30 pop./team is 11533333

so, there're more folks feeding MLB than ever before. if you include Japan's population (127000000), the ratio is even higher. so, no, there isn't more dilution. here:

in terms of how many playoff teams there should be, do the same math, just eyeballing it. went from 2 to 8 (not counting the various playin games, which don't really count). so, even now, we have more playoff teams than we used to per population. adding more playoff teams won't make for better baseball. better cashflow for the billionaire owners, of course.

Unknown 5:58 PM  


Banana Diaquiri 6:10 PM  

actually, 1960 should be:

teams = 16 pop./team is 11187500

pabloinnh 6:14 PM  

@Z-not sold on 9 as the "primary striker". In addition to Messi and Ronaldo, we have Pele. I rest my case.

@Carola-A one-pass goal, one of my favorite kinds Woot! Thanks for the link.

GILL I. 8:00 PM  

@Reasonablewoman: Yep. All of your five points. That's why we come here. Nothing more boring than to ooze pleasure or praise on a puzzle that was below par for a primo puzzle maker. This one was not Joon's best - far from it.
Nary a "learning" here other than some folks who have never heard of WOOT and amigo @pablo who wore #9 in his college soccer team and he infrequently "struck."
Don't abide the fake praise. Well....maybe it' ok on the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.

Z 8:57 PM  

@pabloinnh - Uh.... Only Pelé played most of the time as a striker. Cristano Ronaldo wears a 7 and Messi a 10. In both cases the numbers they wear reflect their roles on their teams.

@Banana Diaquiri - I’m familiar with the argument. And your numbers don’t include Canada, Mexico, or the Caribbean, all natural places for expansion. So, two more teams or even 6 or 10 are certainly plausible. But that’s not my main point. With twice as many games as basketball or hockey and 10 times as many games as the NFL, a baseball season does a much better job of determining who is “best” than those sports. More teams in those sports make some sense, especially in football, but there is no reason to include the damn Yankees. Seriously, of all the American League teams the only one with a credible argument of being in the Red Sox’s class this year are the Astros and they were still five games worse. Any of the playoff teams might luck their way into beating the Sox. They will only be lucky, though, not better. I’ll be rooting for the ‘Stros this month, at least they won a competitive division and I think JV has a no-hitter left in that right arm.

Nancy C 8:58 PM  

Soda, as in soda pop. Not soda water.

OISK 9:53 PM  

When the Yankees go to Boston, I'll woot, woot, woot for the home team......but I never heard of that term, and like many, changed it to woop and upmost, from the correct woot and utmost.

YOLO and DAL was a lucky guess. Never saw the theme at all.

Anonymous 12:31 AM  

Is @LMS gone? Was she put off by being labeled a racist for thinking a popular poet should suffer some familiarity from her fans?

Chris 5:51 AM  

Things I never heard of: MARCECKO, YOLO, MUG root beer, PENS as female swans, NINA Dobrev. Which means that the PENS / NINA cross could just as well have been PETS / NITA.

BAMstutz 11:51 AM  

First Thursday I ever finished, so screw all y'all saying it was easy.

Anonymous 11:41 PM  

The sodas are NOT meant to be mixers! These are names of sodas that are mixed up! That's all!

It was explained, but some of you are still wondering about mixing root beer or Tab in a drink. sheesh.

Speaking of drinks, learn how to spell "daiquiri".

centralscrewtinizer 10:36 AM  

Ha, I actually live in YOLO County, in upstate California. DNF though because I could not remember Kaine's first name and left in the r I put at the end of BASEBALLBAr. Hey, I figured some sports bars were dedicated, like the Mexican bars here that only have soccer games on the TV.
Boy, has the America's Cup ever evolved from the first fine ship.

spacecraft 11:44 AM  

The first comment I read said "Smooth grid." Are you kidding me? The first two acrosses are acronyms, and just in the NE we have AMAIN, TONOW and NEWAT. Baby, if that's smooth, remind me never to rough it with you. This was so outrageously bad I DNBTF, or, agreed with the sentiment of 68-across but made the opposite decision. No score.

thefogman 12:04 PM  

Rex's review is fair and balanced today.
PS - I miss Gini Bitter Lemon SODAMIXER.

Burma Shave 12:23 PM  


I’MGAME since ANNIE exhibited at the MIXER she’s not AGAINST it,
at her UTMOST she’s unINHIBITED, so we’ll get LAIDOUT in the EXIT.


Diana, LIW 1:14 PM  

I agree with at least the beginning of OFL's comments re Thursdayishness of the puz. For me, too, the best trick was saved for last - after solving. Pictured mixing a drink with a bat or a pipe - hmm.

Which was not so easy for me, but again (as usual) that was due to unknown names giving me pause. Or paws? (Do rhinos have paws? Nah...)

Learned some tidbits, esp. the JUDASPRIEST euphemism. Knew BEBE. Couldn't remewmber YOLO. (FWIW seems more apt.)

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

leftcoastTAM 2:01 PM  

Basically agree with Rex about the SODAMIXER revealer. And didn't get the anagrams but did fill in all the right letters.

Insofar as the SODAs are concerned, you'd likely spoil a good cocktail by using any on of them as MIXERs.

The fill, OTOH, is pretty good. Among those that I stared at blankly for a bit were: STIEB, AMAIN, YOLO, and PENS.

Liked working on this one, but finished with an error In the top-middle. Changed UTMOST to UpMOST because I was so sure of WOOp instead of WOOT.

To which I say, in addition to the theme/revealer complaint, JUDAS PRIEST!

rondo 3:05 PM  

JUDASPRIEST a gimme, first heard it as a kid from one of my aunts, got the drift right away. Took a while to get the MIXER as anagram deal.

One of the classiest bars in town does not use 7Up as a MIXER, you’ll be asked if PRIEST (SPRITE) is acceptable.

I’ve flown into SEATAC and taken the train into Seattle. It’s the way to go. Further public transit gets you to about a block away from the dispensary. Who’s AGAINST that? YOLO.

@spacey, I suggest you google yeah baby NINA Dobrev. I would. WOOT WOOT!

Any Thurs-puz you can walk away from without a rebus is a good one in that respect. And the mid-terms are over and we’ll all get along now, right?. As to what happens next, God help AMERICA.

rainforest 4:53 PM  

Except for the "L" as the cross for YOLO/DAL, which I guessed at, this was a neat puzzle. Regarding the theme, MUG, COKE, PEPSI, and SPRITE are all SODAs, and are frequently used as MIXERs, so no problem with the revealer. Even though I didn't figure that out until after I finished, I think it is clever.

I had no problem with any of the fill except for YOLO. No idea there.

There was some decent cluing there as well, and the construction was competent, clean, and professional. Getting the theme, albeit late, was a bonus.

Good one.

thefogman 5:14 PM  

Did Trumpty Dumpty yell out WOOT and OHO, or EGADs and JUDASPRIEST when the results came in? Will he RAGE AGAINST NANCE if she becomes the speaker? He's so INHIBITED it's hard to tell. Alas, his LOCK on power is over. TONOW, he claimed the probe is a SETUP and promptly SKEWered Sessions. Is his EXIT TOBE LAIDOUT soon? Stay tuned...

rondo 6:48 PM  

@rainy, and perhaps others, YOLO = You Only Live Once which is not the same as FOMO = Fear Of Missing Out

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