First victim of sibling rivalry / TUE 1-1-19 / League that used red white blue ball for short / Hammond writer of Wreck of Mary Deare / Famous collie of radio tv film

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Constructor: Gary Cee

Relative difficulty: Easy to Easy-Medium (3:14)

THEME: PASSABLE (61A: Barely adequate ... or what the starts of 17-, 26-, 37- and 50-Across are) — first words of aforementioned themers can all fit into familiar phrases following the pattern "pass the ___":

Theme answers:
  • HAT TRICK (17A: Three goals in a single game)
  • TORCH SONG (26A: Its lyrics tell of unrequited love)
  • TIME SIGNATURE (37A: Music staff notation)
  • BUCK TEETH (50A: Reason to get braces)

Word of the Day: Hammond INNES (39D: Hammond ___, writer of "The Wreck of the Mary Deare) —
Ralph Hammond InnesCBE (15 July 1913 – 10 June 1998) was a British novelist who wrote over 30 novels, as well as children's and travel books.
Innes was born in Horsham, Sussex, and educated at Cranbrook School in Kent. He left in 1931 to work as a journalist, initially with the Financial Times (at the time called the Financial News). The Doppelganger, his first novel, was published in 1937. In WWII he served in the Royal Artillery, eventually rising to the rank of Major. During the war, a number of his books were published, including Wreckers Must Breathe (1940), The Trojan Horse (1941) and Attack Alarm (1941), the last of which was based on his experiences as an anti-aircraft gunner during the Battle of Britain at RAF Kenley. After being demobilized in 1946, he worked full-time as a writer, achieving a number of early successes. His novels are notable for a fine attention to accurate detail in descriptions of places, such as in Air Bridge (1951), set partially at RAF GatowRAF Membury after its closure and RAF Wunstorf during the Berlin Airlift.
Innes went on to produce books in a regular sequence, with six months of travel and research followed by six months of writing. Many of his works featured events at sea. His output decreased in the 1960s, but was still substantial. He became interested in ecological themes. He continued writing until just before his death. His last novel was Delta Connection (1996). (wikipedia)
• • •

OK look there is no reason for BEANER to be here. No one who follows baseball even calls it that, anyway (it's a "bean ball"), and, especially for anyone who grew up on the west coast, BEANER is an out-and-out pejorative (against Mexicans and Mexican-Americans). I get it if you, personally, didn't know that, or don't care, or aren't offended, or whatever, but here's the thing: this is not a tricky corner. BEANER is not *needed* to hold things together. And since you couldn't say it's exactly *good* fill, I don't understand how you don't just fix the corner. You know you're going to offend some people with the fill you've got, the puzzle is not worsened by the fix, ergo, Fix It. It's ... it's very, very simple. Here's the very brief Twitter exchange I *just* had on this issue:

[nice dig at the NYT's stupid two-tiered pay scale, Chris] 
[Also, get it? AMEN? 'Cause if that were 1-Across, we wouldn't be having this conversation?]

Now I'm going to ask you to do something I've never asked you to do (hell, it's something *I* never do unless someone really insists): read another crossword blog. Specifically, xwordinfo. Y'all who think I just don't like WS or have it in for him or whatever other nonsense, you need to see what happens when Jeff Chen, a very friendly, very loyal NYT crossword critic, the writer of a blog that is pretty much a second house blog (along with "Wordplay"), a writer who oh by the way is also a person of color, tries to suggest to the editor that maybe, possibly, he might consider changing 2-Down from BEANER to annnnnything else. Please read Jeff's comments on this puzzle now. In full. I'll wait. . . [wavy lines, time passes] . . . Done? OK. If you're not going to read his comments, here's the most relevant part:
"Will and I had a dialogue over BEANER; an offensive term slung at people from Mexico. I wondered if it might be a West Coast / East Coast thing, so I alerted Will about this. He thought about it but decided that since there is a valid dictionary definition, people would have to just ignore the secondary meaning."
That "since there is a valid dictionary meaning" defense allows him to avoid dealing with so much. Soooo much. I hope you can see how frustrating it is for so many people of good will to try to get the editor to make decent decisions. That is as close as you are ever going to see Jeff Chen come to giving Shortz the middle finger. Over 2/3 of his write-up is dedicated to this asinine and racist editorial decision. Look: there is no excuse for BEANER. It's not even a good baseball term. And AMEN gets you MEANER and NET ... which is objectively better even before considering the racial slur angle. It's so hard to understand the mindset of someone who gets good advice and just shrugs it off, especially when that advice is aimed at avoiding giving offense to people of color. I would love to be using this space to talk about the more puzzley aspects of this puzzle: its workmanlike but totally serviceable "first-words"-type theme, its occasionally interesting but highly uneven fill quality (SAREE? I'm SAREE, no). But here we are with a completely gratuitous BEANER in the 2-D slot, and the only reason it's here is because the editor is (A) negligent, (B) incompetent, (C) deliberately cruel, or (D) so completely egotistical that he doubles down on even his dumbest decisions. My wish for the new year is that solvers start demanding better editing. More thoughtful editing. More inclusive editing. I'm not going to get the regime change I think the NYT Crossword needs and deserves, but if voices besides mine were getting in his and the NYT's ear more, maybe things would be slightly better. Maybe. This BEANER thing ... right in the teeth of good, considered, friendly advice ... I don't know, you guys. It's mind-blowing. Also, exhausting.

Here's hoping 2019 is full of much better puzzles. By all kinds of people. For all kinds of people.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld



PPPS If you don't think BEANER is a problem, please just google it. Then, you can see for see yourself that currently, today, in what is apparently 2019, BEANER's *primary* definition (not its "secondary" one, as the editor claims) is pejorative. Pointing at a dictionary and shrugging does not exonerate you.

PPPPS I had a great wrong answer: faced with TOR-HS-NG at 26A: Its lyrics tell of unrequited love, my sincere first reaction was TORAH SONG. I really should know my Bible better.

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Anonymous 12:56 AM  

I have never heard "beaner" used as anything other than a racial slur. Decades of baseball fandom and have never come across this supposedly more common variation. An embarassing editorial decision from Will.

Anschau 1:26 AM  

Yeah AMEN would have been much much much better. I didn't care for this puzzle much, even without 2D. TABU, KOLAS, INNES, SAREE?

SAREE and INNES crossing was particularly awful. The only things I like about this puzzle were SAVAGE, GEKKO, and PISCES.

mmorgan 2:06 AM  

I found fhis to be a very pleasant and fun Tuesday puzzle while I was solving it. I hesitated a bit at BEANER because I had only heard of a Bean Ball but I figured, okay, that sounds reasonable. Of course the idea of throwing a hardball at someone’s head at 99+ mph is horrible but let’s put that to the side. I am pretty tuned in to insults but I have never ever ever heard the Word BEANER used in a pejorative sense. (I’m an East coaster but that’s another story even though I’m in southern Arizona at the moment ). But after reading Rex and Jeff Chen I have to agree with them. Especially in this horribly charged political environment, BEANER was a something that really could and should have been corrected.

Not good. But I’m glad to know not to use a word I’ve essentially never heard of anyway.

Otherwise, cool puzzle!

Elaine2 2:14 AM  

agree about "beaner" (yuck!) especially since there was such an easy fix. Otherwise I liked this one just fine.

Rex -- thanks for the reference to xwordinfo!

Happy 2019, all.

jae 2:15 AM  

I’ve lived in San Diego for the last 40 years or so. When I saw the clue for 2d I was hoping is was BEANie or BEANey or ???. So I left the last 2 squares blank and let the crosses fill them in and then stared in disbelief.

As for the puzzle, medium. Pretty smooth and just about right for a Tues. Liked it...except...

Anonymous 2:28 AM  

Wow I hope Carlos Slim is not notified about 2-Down. I don't think
he'd like it.

chefwen 3:20 AM  

As soon as I filled in 2D I said “Hoo boy, there is going to be a dust up over that”.

Easy Tuesday, liked it.

Loren Muse Smith 3:38 AM  

It’s so delicious to fill in themers and try to guess the deal without looking at the reveal. I couldn’t figure it out today, though, so the aha moment was satisfying.
You could argue that GAS and GENEs are passed, but Gary chose a tight set that is PASS the _ _.

I have to brag and say that Sam ERVIN and my bigdaddy were good friends. So I’m a bit of a big shot.

Exactly what @mmorgan said about 2D.

@Roo from yesterday:
finger pronunciation
stinger pronunciation

“Things to stop and smell.” Your pits as you enter the school at 5:45am and are sure that no one is looking at any of the cameras. Hmm. I remember flossing, but did I odorant? It’s tricky ‘cause it you’re putting a dark shirt on over your head you have to wait and do the under-the-shirt maneuver lest you get white stuff all over the front of the bottom of the shirt.

“Go off on tangents” – doncha hate people here who do that? Burns me up.

“Someone who likes to see many raised hands” – TEACHER. True dat. As much as I whine about grammar scolds, I do teach “proper” English in the spirit of there’s-this-game-you-have-to-play-if-you-want-people-to-think-you’re-smart. Heck – I even make my kids rewrite certain sentences with “mistakes” ten times correctly before I change the “0” grade. ( We seen that movie, I bought some bullet’s, They was drunk, I’ve went to Spencer…) In the classroom, I’m not always the like wow, man, totally cool stoner language hippy dude I play on this blog. Anyhoo, so many times I’ll find myself in front of the board asking…

Raise your hand if you think it is who’s. One or two nuts containing caffeine put their hand up.

Now raise your hand if you think it’s whose. Maybe one more nut puts their hand up.

But they’re waiting for it ‘cause they know it’s coming…

Now raise your hand if honestly, you Just. Don’t. Give. A. Damn. Either. Way. This, folks, will get an enthusiastic show of hands. We all enjoy our little game.

(True tangential epiphany… I was tasked before Christmas with finding out the shoe size of one of my first period students, Cody B. Apparently there was a family who wanted to see to it that he received some Christmas presents as his situation is pretty grim. After some cagey talk before class about buying my son boots, I asked a smattering of them what size boot they were wearing and if they preferred a bigger size to allow for thick socks. When I finally asked Cody what size his boots he wore, he answered, These are 8’s. but I think I wear an 11, so I really can’t tell you. My feet hurt all day. Of course he doesn’t care if it’s whose or who’s; his goddam feet hurt. I could tell more Cody B stories, but, well, “go off in tangents” and all that. Suffice it to say that he’s a diamond in the rough.)

On a lighter note – “hard-to-explain skill” – I can swallow a glop of air down what I think is a closed-ish esophagus and make a spectacular, enviable, spot-on, realistic fart noise.

Anonymous 4:59 AM  

Totally agree with Rex about 2D. Is there some way to communicate this directly to Shortz?

ZenMonkey 5:27 AM  

Jeff's comments about "chink" should be required reading for too many commenters around here.

Lewis 5:58 AM  

Hmmm. Never heard BEANER in my life, pejorative or not, so that didn't put a hitch in my opinion of this puzzle, namely, that the theme is terrific, one of those low-hanging "why hasn't anyone thought of this before?" theme ideas that makes me smile. I don't like seeing racial slurs in life, let alone in puzzles, so AMEN or ALES should be at 1A, IMO, having learned about this one. But let's not short Gary, who I'm guessing is like me, never having heard 2D as a slur, credit for a clean enjoyable solve.

Actually, I think yesterday's puzzle, the one with the OOO's, would have worked well today (if given a little tougher cluing), as the OOO's bring to mind a timer at its starting point, point zero, a lovely metaphor for January 1.

OffTheGrid 7:06 AM  

I neither condemn nor support the use of BEANER. We all know that a word can have multiple uses and meanings. Words that can be wrong in one context are neutral in another. BEANER as clued is tolerable. Nobody should ever use it as a pejorative or clue it that way. It would be prudent to avoid it (and other terms) but the outrage is out of proportion.

It's too bad this tiresome issue got in the way of recognizing this as a solid, clean puzzle. It had nice longer fill, sort of like later in the week but easier. The theme was crisp.
HNY! everyone.

Anonymous 7:30 AM  

hi and happy holidays. sorry to say but this could have been avoided easily. not a good way to start the year. generally, i fall into the “it’s just a puzzle” camp, but sometimes a word is not just a word. no offense, but i like to call a spade a spade. knowwhatimean? zippy

BarbieBarbie 7:33 AM  

For me, BEANER is different from SLANT or CHINK or other “offensive by one meaning” words because it’s already slang in its baseball sense, which sends your mind directly to the slang universe where pejorative terms reside. So, first or nineteenth definition, it shouldn’t override common manners. Edit Fail.

The rest of the puzzle was cute for a Tuesday but should have been run on a Monday.

amyyanni 7:34 AM  

I grew up listening to Ernie Harwell, then moved to Boston around the time of Tony Conigliaro. Have remained an avid baseball fan. No way is beaner a common term. HNY.

Z 7:41 AM  

@OffTheGrid - What would the right amount of outrage be?

In West Michigan where I grew up the word had exactly one meaning, it was used mostly for migrant farm workers, and it was right there with “nigger.” I’ve recounted the history of Biggby coffee before, so I’m not surprised that others may not know the term. I am certain that Cee and Shortz were not aware. But not fixing it when you are made aware? Incredible. You want to know the term is for not caring about the feelings of others? Or feeling free to insult minorities?

chefbea 8:16 AM  

Wanted a New Year's theme!! Well happy new year to all. I will be making hopin John and collards today. Good luck to all!!!

JOHN X 8:26 AM  

This puzzle reminded me of Cheech and Chong's Next Movie where Cheech Marin sings his song "Mexican Americans" and then Chinese person of color Tommy Chong follows it up with his new song, "Beaners."

RooMonster 8:34 AM  

Hey All !
A bit SAVAGE on 2D today. I do agree it's way easy to change it and just avoid all the hullabaloo. Even just ANI to ARI does the trick. No more TABu.

Don't think I've See SAREE as an alternative to SARI before. Had cOcoa for KOLAS and sEe for GET for a bit nicely messing up the SW. Otherwise, ONCE OVER, an easy TuesPuz. Missed a potential themer, PASS the Rock. That's something, right?

Neat crossing of two MBLE words, RAMBLE-TREMBLE. Not gonna THRASH the puz over one word, bad or not. Figures it fell on a Tuesday, the "bad" puz day. TOO TOO.


'mericans in Paris 8:34 AM  

Being East-Coasters by origin, and having lived thousands of miles even further east for the last 36 years, neither of us had heard of BEANER as a pejorative term. Indeed, my parents both grew up in the Boston area, and were fond of Boston baked BEANS, so a BEANER was a simple meal with BEANS as the main course. But given that 2D could have been easily changed ...

I like @Lewis's logic for running yesterday's puzzle today. OOO (or, rather, 000) makes me think of that tense moment at 0:01 on 1 January 2000 when the world wondered whether the millennium bug would unleash havoc and perhaps even nuclear war on the world.

@LMS -- I love your posts, but I really struggle sometimes to understand your angles on language. Living ABROAD, where English is now the lingua franca in most countries -- allowing Anglophones to travel widely, and freeing English-speaking academics to submit papers to journals and publish books without having to incur the extra expense and time to get their writing translated -- I try to be cognisant of the public good that English has become, and for which I feel we are all now its co-custodians. So, in my view, learning grammar and spelling is not just a "game-you-have-to-play-if-you-want-people-to-think-you’re-smart", but at the very least a skill needed when showing consideration to those for whom English is a second language and who did have to learn it by the book. Perhaps the answer is to recognize to versions of English in the USA: a version that is loose and rapidly EVOLVing, and the basis of creative writing; and the more formal version used in legal and similar texts, and when communicating with the rest of the world.

Apologies in advance for the RAMBLE. Perhaps it's because yesterday we watched the CNN documentary "RBG" and I was bowled over by the power and majesty of Justice Ginsberg's written and spoken words.

'mericans in Paris 8:38 AM  

I meant "two versions".

Crimson Devil 8:40 AM  

Been baseball player, fan, watcher and listener for 65 + years, and never heard the term.

Anonymous 9:10 AM  

If one wanted to get rid of BEANER it would be absolutely trivial. Just change ABEL to AMEN. Everything that changes is still a reasonable answer with a wide range of possible clues.

CDilly52 9:11 AM  

What a delightful start to the year, I thought. Very low drek (odd spelling of SAREE aside). Came here and discovered all the justifiable turmoil over 2D. I didn’t even see it until I tuned in here because I didn’t use anything except acrosses almost all the way through. Should have been avoided. Period. @LMS: about the security camera black shirt thing. It applies equally to security cameras at the courthouse when your jury trial runs three more days than expected and you didn’t have time to get your “closing argument suit” to the cleaners. It’s a repeat and you just hope that it has aired out enough. I also hope Cory B got some shoes that fit!

pabloinnh 9:13 AM  

Exactly what @Crimson Devil said, and I mean exactly.

OK puzzle but it seems that we're starting the year off with two Mondays in a row. I wonder if that's a bad omen for all you folks still heading into work.

GILL I. 9:19 AM  

Will was made aware; shame on him.
I don't know baseball slang but I think I've heard to "bean" someone on the head so, like @jae, I was looking for a beanie.
@Z sort of said it for me. The word BEANER is pretty bad. I can honestly say that the Mexican people are one of my absolute favorites - especially those from California. I cannot spend a minute with some of my friends without feeling a good smile or laugh coming on. I can also tell you that word is right up there with "Wet Back." Just look at the face of someone when you call them any of those names. Yes, shame on Will.
Too bad because I thought the puzzle was otherwise a good Tuesday. I'm glad 8A wasn't clued as another name for a dame. That one would've made me laugh. I don't mind being called A BROAD.
Only write-over was slotting in DIOR instead of TABU for that popular perfume. PLEASE DEAR GOD don't wear TABU and go into an elevator unless your intent is to make everyone sick.
Funny but PRONTO means soon in regular Spanish. I think I've seen some cowboy dudes with thumbs tucked into their vaquero outfit and yelling PRONTO because he doesn't know the difference. Andale.
2019 has a nice ring to it.

ArtO 9:22 AM  

Always willing to learn something so thanks to all who enlightened me and others to the pejorative aspect of BEANER. Very reasonable critique of Will S. He, too, should be man enough to admit an error and not try to gloss over an unnecessary slur.

Since I had never heard of it as a pejorative, nor did I ever hear it phrased as such for a Bean Ball, it was just a kind of wtf and went on to complete an otherwise cleverly themed puzzle which went down smoothly.

Happy new year to all.

Wm. C. 9:30 AM  

I'm with many above on 2D, though I didn't recognize the issue when I did the fill.

I hesitated on it, because I never heard the term, only "beanball," but shrugged and filled it in.

I have vaguely heard the derogative version of the word, but it's realization didn't hit me until I came here. I agree, especially with so many easy alternatives available, that it should have been edited, and I'm VERY surprised at Shortz's stand on this. Oh, well ...

Blue Stater 9:30 AM  

The BEANER fiasco is Reason Number Five Thousand Three Hundred and Sixty-Eight why a policy I have advocated (OK, screamed out) for most of WS's tenure should be followed. *Put the puzzles through the NYT copydesk.* No copy editor skilled enough to work for the Times (or indeed for any serious paper) would have failed to query that. Copy editors are paid to know that kind of stuff. It would not surprise me to learn that WS has doubled down against that practice, too.

kitshef 9:40 AM  

My favorite thing was ATE over NINE. And right by DOS.

ESP is neither hard to explain nor a skill, so I’m not sure what that clue is all about.

Famous college of radio, TV and film was baffling until I reread the clue.

Anonymous 9:41 AM  

Never heard "beaner" as a pejorative term for Mexicans. The baseball reference is far more familiar. Maybe it is a east/west coast thing.

Unknown 9:41 AM  

I had to read some tweets to learn why 2D was a problem. I was blissfully ignorant of the slur and now I am sadly aware.

Nancy 9:46 AM  

I found this puzzle...well...PASSABLE. I enjoyed the fact that it was so clean, so devoid of proper names and crosswordese, and I applaud it for that. But the clues are mostly quite flat. Not much, if any, thinking required, which is, I suppose, a good thing for hung-over solvers everywhere. As for the theme -- I noticed it only after finishing. It was pleasant and irrelevant to my solving experience.

Alas, I didn't scroll by nearly fast enough today, so I inadvertently saw Rex's rant on BEANER -- a term I've never heard in the sense he uses it. My own objection to BEANER was the fact that no one says it about a baseball pitch, that everyone says BEAN BALL. But maybe there should be a book titled EVERY BAD WORD THAT HAS EVER BEEN OR CAN EVER BE SAID ABOUT A PERSON OR GROUP -- ONE THAT YOU NEVER HEARD USED BEFORE BUT NOW UNFORTUNATELY HAS BEEN SEARED INDELIBLY IN YOUR BRAIN, THANKS TO REX PARKER AND HIS DEVOTED, ZEALOUS ARMY OF TWITTERERS. This is why I usually scroll by so fast. I'm going to work on enhancing my scrolling speed just as soon as I've had a second cup of coffee.

@'mericans (8:34) --Thanks for standing up so eloquently for the proper use of the English language and the reasons why it's so important. And using RBG as one shining example of language used beautifully and powerfully just adds to the persuasiveness of your comment. "Amen!" I say. "Amen!"

JC66 9:46 AM  

I'm usually a little more tolerant of "offensive" words if they're clued in a "non-offensive" way than @Rex, but the fact that @Will Shortz blatantly ignored @Jeff Chen's advice and an easy fix was available blows my mind.

Alex S. 9:47 AM  

I've never heard a baseball use of BEANER, only the slur meaning (BEANERY for a coffee shop being the closest non slur I'm familiar with). So was very confident it 2D had to be BEANBALL. Which meant a rebus puzzle.

So just went ahead with BEANB[ALL] and figured there'd be an "all in one" or similar revealer somewhere.

Lewis 9:53 AM  

My twelve favorite clues of 2018:

1. Where S is ... (9)
2. Opposite of a poetry slam? (3)
3. It might be set with candles (4)
4. Puzzle in which people take turns solving (4)
5. Blue-green? (7)
6. Store that should really have a spokesperson (8)
7. Military leader known for being chicken (10)
8. Establishment to which customers have come for years? (9)
9. "It has one syllable" and "It's fourth letter is T" (5)
10. Get an F in physics? (8)
11. Gathering where burping is encouraged (15)
12. Ahab's inspiration (6)

MORSE CODE (Peter A. Collins)
ODE (Erik Agard and Andy Kravis)
MOOD (Patrick Merrell)
MAZE (Jeff Chen)
SEA SICK (Sam Ezersky)
BIKE SHOP (Kameron Austin Collins)
GENERAL TSO (Robyn Weintraub)
WINE STORE (David Steinberg)
HINTS (Doug Peterson and Erik Agard)
MISSPELL (Joon Pahk)
SEA AIR (Seth A. Abel)

Anonymous 10:02 AM  

I know a lot of people who do the New York Times puzzle. Not once have I heard anyone complain about offensive fill. Sharp and his ilk are a tiny minority, Get over yourself and get a life. Seriously,

Macho Man 10:04 AM  

I find savage to be more offensive than beaner.

Anonymous 10:06 AM  

Really surprised a whole bunch of you never heard 2D used that way. And it's not the first time a bunch of you haven't heard something common. Do you live a sheltered life?

Anonymous 10:08 AM  

Quite easy, but still an enjoyable solve. Thanks very much Mr. Cree.

Olding Like A Boss! 10:14 AM  

Can you damn someone with overt praise like you just did with Chen? Could you just have said he's generally positive about the NYT puzzle without going into a passive-aggressive (actually aggressive aggressive) mini rant? This is why any cause you attach yourself to ends up doing more harm than good. And the y'all (you suddenly find yourself channeling the south?) doesn't make you sound friendlier.

As for the puzzle, must everything in the NYT be age pandering? It's Tuesday, let's throw something out for the geezers. Can we all just have something to puzzle through?

BTW, my millennial just moved into her first adult apartment (hardwood floors and the appliances all work) and called to tell me a friend sent a card that said, "Adulting like a boss!" I'd asked her about the word recently. I'm sharing because "like a boss!" is a thing. I guess it means you crushed it. So heads up fellow geezers.

Anonymous 10:18 AM  

I read Jeff Chen’s analysis. He seems like a much more reasonable and less bigoted person than Rex. He almost convinced me, but ultimately I come down on the side of more inclusive puzzles. From Hitler to Antifa to beaner, all should be welcome.

Anonymous 10:29 AM  

I was angry enough about Rex’s ridiculous rant to offer my reaction to it but apparently he is too sensitive to criticism. He didn’t post it. All the more reason to pity the sad arc of this once worthwhile blog. LIVE and Let LIVE a little.

Anonymous 10:33 AM  

@anon 10:06: I’m in my 50s and I’ve lived in the NYC area my whole life. I’ve never heard the word “beaner” used in any context before this morning. I don’t lead a sheltered life it’s just that I don’t hang out with racists.

Not Surprised 10:43 AM  

Hey Will Shortz, my mom taught me that sometimes "discretion is the better part of valor."

And to those of you who are pleading ignorance of the word, and are somehow just not invested in this conversation, let me introduce you to another word you might (or might not) be familiar with: narcissism. A few key components of narcissism are the inability to empathize with others, the belief that your world is the only world...that is, if it doesn't exist in your head, then it doesn't exist at all, and entitlement.

I don't think Rex is requiring anyone to send hate mail to WS, but I think he is pointing out a blind spot in WS's decision making process and perhaps also pointing out to some of the commenters here that ignorance is not an excuse. Now that he has pointed out what the predominant definition of 2D is, you are no longer off the hook. I suggest, rather than just going about your day thinking this is much ado about nothing, you consider that there is a larger world out there than your provincial (and white) philosophies can tell.

Hey, I get it. As a white person myself, I guess it's probably easy to think "'s just a word that means someone intentionally threw a baseball at 90+ mph at someone's head...who cares?" It's easy because we white people know no equivalent slurs. There are literally no racial slurs that are pejorative enough to bother us. And that would be your white privilege card showing....also known as entitlement. "How can people possibly be offended by a simple word?" you ask. Truth is, you'll never know. The closest you can ever get is to hear that it DOES bother some people and because it does, you can empathize (not sympathize, mind you) with others to see that 2D is really BS for all the reasons Rex mentioned.

Today's Word of the Day from Alexa was "New Year's Resolution." First, that's three words. Second, maybe you who think that 2D is no big deal should resolve to endeavor to empathize with people whose lives are very different than your white one in the year 2019. Not that your white one is bad, after all you didn't choose to be white any more than anyone else chose to be any other race, but you, living in this world's society, can at least TRY to make the world a better place through empathizing...walking a mile in someone else's shoes.

Anonymous 10:43 AM  

Since when are Chinese "people of color?" Does Jeff Chen self-identify that way? Did you ask him? Because I've never of any people of Chinese descent who do.

It appears that "person of color" is Rex's blanket term for "not a white man."

Pete 10:53 AM  

@'Mericans, @Nancy - Yes - Loren should, at every possible opportunity, reinforce to her students that they are ignorant buffoons, that their parents, aunts, uncles, everyone they know are ignorant buffoons. The kids probably know that most everyone thinks that, but why leave "probably" up to chance when you can ram the point home? Further, school is ever so much more inviting for the kids when you can present the lesson of the day as "Here's a way in which you, and everyone you know and love comes across as an ignorant buffoon, and what to do about it".

Loren is trying to teach her kids to be bi-grammarial - She teaches the grammar that will get them jobs, they already know one that they were born using. It's like teaching Spanish speaking kids to speak English - you don't have to tell them that Spanish is a gutter language to do so. Loren could not be doing better by her students in any way.

As for dictionary support for BEANER a primarily a baseball term, the only ones I can see on the net all use Websters 1936 as their primary source. Hint, it's the newest one in the public domain. The current MW doesn't even have a entry, all the rest recognize the racial slur as the primary usage.

brandsinger 10:59 AM  

On "beaner" - agree not common in baseball. Absolutely in stitches over Rex's horrified reaction, however. Was the constructor trying to sneak in a racial slur??? Diabolical! The fact the editor didn't "catch" it proves it's not a threat to anyone. Geez what a pearl-clutching baby runs this site.

Stanley Hudson 11:01 AM  

Given Chen’s plea to Shortz, BEANER is egregiously inexcusable.

Not a good harbinger for 2019.

GILL I. 11:02 AM  

The comments are interesting today.
I'm betting Gary Cee did not know the pejorative meaning of BEANER. What I'm a bit amazed at is that Will did, thanks to Jeff Chen. The fact that a simple AMEN/MEANER could have been substituted and the offending word removed but wasn't, is what gobsmacks me.
The VERY FIRST definition in every single Google I did on the word BEANER shows how pretty awful and demeaning the word is. Further I DID NOT FIND ONE SINGLE DEFINITION of the word BEANER to mean "Pitch to the head, informally." So....WHY?
Like @JC66, I RARELY get offended by anything. This could have been avoided. Will Shortz decided to ignore Jeff's recommendation. Bad choice.

Nancy 11:04 AM  

From the "Everything Old Is New Again" Dept: Thanks for that, @Lewis (9:53)! When I was, I don't know, maybe 12 or 13, my father said to me: "Nancy, you don't have a rememberer, you have a forgetter." I assure everyone that it only gets worse with age. But a fuzzy memory does have its upside: Of the 12 marvelous clue/answers that Lewis applauds from 2018, I remembered only seven: #3, #6, #7, #9, #10, #11 (this I'll never forget, because I learned a whole new meaning for "burp"); and #12. And #6 I only remembered the gist of -- failing to fit bicycle SHOP into the required space. So I enjoyed the walk down *Memory Lane* -- even though Memory Lane is no more than one year old, and in some cases much less than that :) And your choices for Best of 2018 are terrific!

Anonymous 11:10 AM  

Rex the fanatic. Won't change his mind and can't change the subject. Love it!!

Nancy 11:32 AM  

@Anon 10:06 and @Not Surprised (10:43) -- Yes, guilty as charged of not knowing the pejorative meaning of BEANER. Which means that 1) I have never used such a term myself and 2) I have surrounded myself with friends and acquaintances who are kind and sensitive and considerate and decent and who would never use such a term, either. You consider this a bad thing?

We'll never agree on this. You think bringing all the nasty epithets in the world to the attention of absolutely everyone is a great service to humanity. I consider it a great disservice to humanity. After all, if we've never even heard the term BEANER, we can't use it to hurt anyone else. Can we?

JOHN X 11:33 AM  

In the spirit of inclusivity, I'd like to see HONKY, WHITEY, and GRINGO in the grid a little more often, and maybe even HAOLE if we want to go offshore and get exotic.

I don't mind any of these. However, if you're going to call me a slur, I prefer WHITE DEVIL.

Anonymous 11:34 AM  

@Not Surprised: You do realize all this hullabaloo is about a word in a crossword puzzle right ? Talk about first world problems! I
recommend you read The Gulag Archipelago for some perspective on life.

Anonymous 11:39 AM  

Mr. Shortz has publicly wondered why The New York Times receives so few puzzle contributions from women. His use of BEANER, even after being warned of its being a racial slur, is one reason why some constructors choose to work elsewhere these days. Had he read his own newspaper on 11/15/2017, Mr. Shortz would have learned about the racist connotations of BEANER. And yet, he refuses to take advice from intelligent contributors like Jeff Chen. It’s no surprise that a number of top crossword constructors, some of them women, no longer want to work with The New York Times.

tb 11:45 AM  

If the clue was "Aged female dog" and the answer was, of course, OLD BITCH, you'd be ok with that?

Cato Rosenbaum 11:49 AM  

You know, if this BEANER were the only boner Shortz has had, I'd give him the benefit of the doubt. But this is a repeated pattern of behavior from him towards those who hope for more racial and sexual and gender inclusiveness. His out-of-touch responses to his dearth of female designers, his constant editorial use of hood and ghetto, etc., only shows his age and temperament and an unwillingness to learn new concepts outside of puzzledom throughout his lifetime. The puzzles aren't even that amazingly edited these days. Inconsistencies with themes, imprecision, an overall don't-give-a-fuck-anymore attitude.

Further, what kind of breakfast table (the guideline set to determine a clue/answer's NYT's crosswordworthiness) is more okay with racial slurs than PENIS? Maybe it's because I'm a (gay) millennial and have come an age where sex talk is common among friends, but I'd much rather see a lot more cursing and bodily fluids in my crosswords than racism and misogyny.

Anonymous 11:54 AM  

So otherwise Mrs. Lincoln how was the play, er, I mean the puzzle?

Beaglelover 12:02 PM  

White people have had pejorative terms used on them. Years ago, an Irish bus driver in the Bronx, was called a donkey by a passenger. The bus driver dragged the passenger out of the bus and beat the crap out of him.
The driver lost his job. Words hurt the driver and the passenger in this case.

Banana Diaquiri 12:06 PM  

it’s already slang in its baseball sense


Anonymous 12:11 PM  

There are pejoratives and then there are pejoratives. I don’t believe anyone would argue that BEANER (not as clued) comes close to invoking the same history of violent oppression that the “N-word” (see Sunday’s 95A, NWA) does. It also strikes me as rather old-fashioned. I think its history can reasonably be seen to reflect the more, please note, relatively benign protocols of group distinction. That is to say I think there may be at least as much of “they’re different” in the term as there is of “they’re inferior.” I don’t mean to deny its unpleasantness—personally, I have no use for the word.

old timer 12:16 PM  

I grew up in LA. 60 years ago when I was in junior high, it was generally believed by us Anglos that BEANER was the maximum insult to a Mexican. Even "spic" was less likely to cause the insultee to produce a knife and very possibly use it.

Haven't heard it since, except on Cheech and Chong or Firesign Theatre albums. But I also have never heard BEANER used to mean bean ball or a New England dinner. WS should have taken the advice to change it though.

Anonymous 12:41 PM  

I have heard it called both ways here where I live. When I used to play baseball we commonly used ‘beaner’ as a verb such as “he threw me a beaner.” We did also say ‘bean ball’ as well. I understand why this term can be perjorative, but again context is everything. The puzzle was fine.

Nancy 12:46 PM  

@tb -- I'd laugh.

Loren Muse Smith 12:47 PM  

@’mericans, @Nancy - a few years ago, someone (no idea who) said something on this blog to this effect: Whenever I hear someone confuse lie/lay, the hair on the back of my neck stands up. This sickened me. What I “heard” was Listen, people, I’m one of you; I’m educated, an authority, deserving of your admiration. Let us all pause and shake our heads at the floor in the communal misery that we must from time to time deign to keep company with such ignoramuses. Shudder shudder.

Disdain for not knowing the accepted lie/lay difference is really just a snobby disdain for this poor shmuck not getting as good an education as you did. It’s. That. Simple. If you try to tell me that using lay when it should be lie interferes with proper communication, then I’m done arguing with you. The idea is so preposterous it takes my breath away.

I’m shaking as I type because this tendency to judge people’s intelligence based on their knowledge of grammar enrages me. Pedants are the self-appointed gatekeepers of the Received. The Upper Crust. The Crème de la Crème.

The dialect that my students speak has its own strict internal grammar and logic, just as standard English does, and it is not in any way shape or form inadequate. To label their dialect as inferior betrays a reprehensible class prejudice. No surprise there; language judgment has forever been mixed up with class prejudice.

Pete – thanks, man. You nailed it. Most of my students aspire to be welders, mechanics, hairdressers. Last year, I took half a day off to visit the “Career Center,” where they learn their trade. I welded with them, I operated the excavator simulator thingy, I tried to lift a fingerprint. In every case I failed miserably where they ran circles around me.

The dignity they evinced at being good at something will forever burn on my soul.

I do show them standard English while assuring them that the way they speak is not a reflection of their intelligence. I do warn them over and over that at some point they will be judged harshly because of their speech. But… It’s not How Smart Am I. It’s How Am I Smart.

This lovely puzzle has already been upstaged by the BEANER flap. If you want to fuss at me further, just email me. nerol2 at msn.

Oh, and the flaming hypocrisy I show by couching my words loosely within the “rules” of educated English is not lost on me. (And @Nancy – could you send me the accepted, agreed-upon guidelines for the “proper use” of the English language? I’m curious – will it ban split infinitives? Ending sentences with prepositions? Will it insist we say I shall instead of I will? . . .)

Peter P 12:51 PM  

Midwest/Chicago reporting here, and BEANER is known as a pejorative here. That said, I don't hear it often in the wild--just a Mexican friend that uses it (like how my family might use the word "Polack" in-group, even though it's somewhat offensive). "Spic" is regarded as much, much stronger in this area, in my experience, so it's interesting how in other areas, it's the other way around. Seriously, that word is the equivalent of the n-word, and even has that sharp edge to it when you say it, with that initial plosive and that harsh back-of-the-throat "k". BEANER is something that I think propagated in this area more through pop culture via Carlos Mencia. I don't much remember the word growing up (if at all--I think I may have been vaguely aware of it), but around the mid-00s it seems to have come back partly because of him.

At any rate, I guess I wasn't the only person scratching their head about 2D.

Otherwise, pretty straightforward and fun puzzle. I got a little tangled up with the ABA/TABU cross, initially having AtA and TAtU. I apparently don't know my perfumes or defunct sports leagues well. But when the app yelled at me for having a square wrong, it was almost immediately clear where it was, and B was the only letter that seemed to make any sense. Ended up finishing a good bit under average time.

Angry Richard 12:51 PM  

Although it is clear that OFL will take almost any opportunity to criticize WS and the editorial process in a less than polite manner, I agree with his and JC's critique of 2D. I cannot understand how WS would not make a change when JC called the problem to his attention. particularly when there was such an easy fix. It seems arrogant to me. Anyway, I think he owes the crossword community a public apology and I hope he makes one on this site.

Masked and Anonymous 12:51 PM  

BEANER: Hadn't heard of either the baseball or the offensive meanin, at our house. Easy word to change in the grid -- don't really know how easy to change it in the puzzle publishin cycle. I'da sure gone with swappin it out, if at all possible. A no-beaner decision. Coulda just made it BEARER.

Rest of the puz was very well done. SAREE/INNES is maybe a bit desperate, especially for a TuesPuz. But everything else is pretty darn smooth. Would RAREE/INNER have been any better?

staff weeject pick: SNO. Better clue: {___ plo??}

Liked tryin to figure out what the revealer might be for the seeminly diverse set of themers. Couldn't get it ahead of time, tho. 'SNO denyin it. Sooo … nice lil ahar moment. And, pass the cinnamon rolls.

Thanx, Mr. Cee.
Wishin everyone a Happy 2019. Peace on Earth, and good will to all well-meanin constructioneers.

Masked & Anonymo3Us


Ugly Fat Kid 1:04 PM  

All of the beaner comments are certainly food for thought.
Of the many comments though, the one image I cannot stop thinking about is the kid who has trouble concentrating in school because his shoes are three sizes too small.
Hurt feelings have validity but they only hurt if you let them.

Anonymous 1:06 PM  

@Ms Smith, the C in “crème de la crème” is not capitalized.

Teedmn 1:14 PM  

Oddly not getting the meaning of the clue for 1A, I moved on. Coming back, I looked at 2D and with _EAN__ in place, decided it was a horseshoe term and splatzed in lEANER. However, AlEL meant I needed to rethink that and I finally realized that the first victim of sibling rivalry wasn't a four-letter word for "family serenity". Funny where the brain will lead you.

I thought this was a nicely themed puzzle and of Tuesday difficulty. Thanks, Gary Cee.

Not Surprised 1:27 PM  

@Nancy: I think you should re-read my post. Ignorance is not the problem, **willful ignorance** is. That is, once you've heard that slurs are indeed slurs, and that, in this case, a slur is willfully dismissed by WS as just a "secondary definition," then you need to do the opposite of just dismissing 2D as "just a puzzle" as some have done here in the comments. You should look and see that all manner of slurs (including the dreaded "sot") should be avoided. Sure, it isn't entirely possible to do it 100% of the time. A "chink" can just me something in someone's armor, but to have a word like 2D pointed out ahead of time and then dismissed...seriously, that should be seen as a problem.

Yeah, I suppose if you didn't know that 2D was a slur, you probably would've never used it. But in today's internets world, you can't go far before you find out how other people are actually treated and addressed. This fact alone should be cause enough for alarm. Don't dig in you heels and claim you "didn't know...what can it hurt?" Well, now you DO the "hurt" is what that word means to others. And for many white people, that is waaaaaay outside their field of experience. It's a big world out there.

And @ all those who claim that whites did have pejorative terms attached (wop, mick, etc), I dare say they have limited effect these days. Maybe in a neighborhood in NYC it is still fighting words to call someone a wop. But not in Nebraska. There, the term "Polack" is viewed with disdain, but it has nowhere near the impact that words like 2D have. Mainly because a lot of those slurs are thought up by white people who, as entitled crapstains in the west, figure they're better than everyone else...and act like it.

Just read through these comments and you'll see no shortage of white people calling out Rex et al for piling on the white guilt. It isn't's education. It's time we all realized that there are other people in the world. The only thing that can explain away this disregard of others is narcissism...and according to my therapist brother, narcissism is very common these days.


'mericans in Paris 1:28 PM  

@LMS (and @Pete) -- I'd day that you are projecting something into my earlier comments that I did not say. Nowhere did I label any language "inferior" or "ignorant", much less any people. I agree with you that the way a person speaks is not a good measure of his or her intelligence.

I was, instead, reacting to your (@LMS's) comments, "there’s-this-game-you-have-to-play-if-you-want-people-to-think-you’re-smart" and "Now raise your hand if honestly, you Just. Don’t. Give. A. Damn", which seemed to be suggesting that there was little to no value to "proper" English. You express such disdainful views frequently, it seems to me, and every once in a while I push back, by pointing to the value of standard English for particular purposes. So sue me.

A lot of today's discussion is about showing sensitivity to others, in today's case Mexicans resident in the United States. That's a good sentiment, but one that also should be more borne in mind by Americans when they travel abroad. Too often I overhear American tourists making scant effort to use "proper" English when communicating with residents of other countries trying to cope with their visitors' English. By "proper" in this case I mean stripped of recent US-specific slang and expressed clearly. Failing to make such an effort, in my view, reflects more on a person's attitude than on their intelligence.

I share your enthusiasm for playing with language, which is what crosswords are all about. I think I understand your world; try to understand mine, please.

Doug Garr 1:33 PM  

The first thing you said about BEANER was correct, Rex. No baseball player ever says throw him a "beaner." Never, ever. They don't even say throw him a bean ball. They said "stick it in his ear." Brush him back. Knock him down. All sorts of things. As for the racial slur, everyone else has checked in. Sad that Shortz didn't think to just avoid the controversy and change it to something else.

Lewis 1:34 PM  

@m&a -- "A no-beaner decision" -- Hah!

Aketi 1:37 PM  

Kind of sorry I did the puzzle today, I may take note that some words may be offensive but I’ve never claimed they should be censored. I did know the meaning of 2D and my understanding of the meaning of the word from my west coast background is that it is every bit as perjoritive as the n-word. @tb, I would say it’s far more pejorative than the word that rhymes with rich. It’s closer to the word that rhymes with bunt in terms of offensiveness. While Will Shortz may have found a rationale for not spending the nanosecond it would have taken to find a less offensive replacement word, I think it was incredibly lazy and thoughtless of him.

Lynx 1:41 PM  

Having grown up in the Bay Area, I knew the pejorative BEANER, but haven't heard it used in decades (I like to consider that a small bit of progress). So, for those who feel it's okay to use racial slurs, at the very least you might acknowledge it's a stale word and there are plenty of fresher options.

Aketi 1:42 PM  

@M&A, thx for your coinage of “no beaner solution”.

Crimson Devil 1:46 PM  

Much enjoyed bike shop, wine store and misspell. What about “waiver”= byeallrights, and “like Tara twice”= savedbythebelle !

Woody Harrelson 1:58 PM  

Anybody else offended by buck teeth ?

Anonymous 2:03 PM  

Um..That would be a noun, not a verb.

tb 2:06 PM  

@Aketi, I didn't express myself very well, but what I am trying to say is that the argument that a pejorative term can also have a legitimate meaning isn't persuasive. If you saw OLD BITCH in a crossword, which has a legitimate meaning, it wouldn't matter that it does. And it doesn't mean that the insult is only in the solver's own mind. Anyone would know that it is insulting.

Many solvers are aware of the pejorative meaning of BEANER and so it should be just as unacceptable as OLD BITCH.

TAB2TAB 2:19 PM  

@Not Surprised I actually agree with the intent of your post with the exception of one oversight: that white people are the only source of racism that need be called out. Can't you denounce racism without picking a single race to blame? There's plenty of minority-on-minority racism to go around and your ignorance of this to suit the narrative you wish to convey has elements of narcissism as well. I appreciate your other points, however, and I hope you are as willing to accept criticism as you are to offer it.

I enjoyed the puzzle otherwise, but wish the alternative 2D answers could have been used in that they could have been so simply implemented. Happy New Year everyone!

Anonymous 2:27 PM  

It's amazing how many pejorative terms I've learned by reading this blog! I live in a very diverse east coast town and have never heard of half the ethnic slurs ranted about. Certainly never heard the word "beaner." I'm almost afraid to speak for fear of inadvertently insulting someone. Oddly enough I always find phrases such as @GIL I used - the Mexican people are one of my absolute favorites - cringe worthy. The idea that everyone of an ethnicity are the same? Isn't such a judgment racist in nature?

Wundrin' 2:36 PM  

Would the use of BEANER be less bad if a fix was impossible?

Anonymous 2:45 PM  

My New Year’s resolution is to argue more with strangers on the internet in 2019. I find it to be a very valuable use of my time and I often convince these strangers that mine is the one true perspective.

Anonymous 2:48 PM  

Wow what a day - I'm glad LMS returned to parry 'Mericans - but she could have done it with a single swish:
There's NOT ONE PERSON who was confused by the mistyped to for two. NOT ONE PERSON needed the word to have been spelled correctly in order to understand the meaning.

Let's hear it for the trenches, and the population thereof.

Anonymous 3:05 PM  

I grew up in Tucson in the 70s and heard the word in 2D too many times too count. It was the meanest possible way to refer to Mexican or Mexican-American, far worse than the already terrible "wetback."

This holier-than-thou "I haven't heard it because I don't surround myself with racists" statement doesn't fly with me. You can't choose who you're surrounded by every moment of every day, and certainly you couldn't as a child. You didn't hear it because of where you grew up, period. Now that you know that it's a highly offensive slur elsewhere, do you still defend it?

There would be a saving grace if 2D was actually a baseball term, but it isn't. If an announcer said that on TV or radio, they would face piles of complaints far more forceful than Rex's.

Matthew G. 3:11 PM  

Having never lived west of the Appalachians, I am not familiar with the pejorative use of BEANER, but I'll take others' word for it. What I do know is that Rex is correct when he says it is not a real baseball term. Beanball or chin music or high-and-tight or many other things, but not BEANER. So if it's an offensive word, you can't save it via baseball.

Also, I would have appreciated a different clue on either ALI or LIVE. I had "GIVE a little," and figured that if the crossing were an L the clue (on a Tuesday) would have used an ALI who is more famous. ALI Velshi is an unknown to me. Finished with an error (on a Tuesday) as a result.

Todd Stuart 3:12 PM  

I am getting so tired of your endless need for politically correctness in the puzzles. If it was only beaner ( which I filled in without a second thought to anything but a bean ball) I would let it slide, but it is some petty complaint almost daily. Thanks for offers an alternative blog, I will be switching to it for my daily fix.

Aaron Riccio 3:14 PM  

I was bewildered at first to see Twitter blowing up over the 2d entry, even more so once I solved the puzzle, since I was unfamiliar with the pejorative term and had no issues with it as clued. That said, if a lot of people you trust and respect are telling you that there's a problem, it's worth doing a little bit of digging.

Personally, I think Rex quoted the wrong part of Jeff Chen's commentary, which is in the difference between "BEANER" and "CHINK" as viable crossword fill. In the former, BEANER has essentially no modern-day meaning beyond one that gives offense, and there's no editorial push to bring this word back into usage, to reclaim it, as a baseball term, so it makes little sense. (If a word is "fresh," there may be a reason for that.)

In the latter, a CHINK in one's armor is still a common enough usage that in that context, it should be OK, even though it may still make a person's hackles rise. Consider also, if you will, the totally acceptable use of the term CRACKER as compared to, say, SPIC, which hasn't been used since 2008 (in the context of ____ and Span), even though the product still exists. If a decision was made there to avoid offense, and I can't imagine it wasn't, then why be so defensive over BEANER?

But maybe it's not that simple. COON shows up in a 6/2/17 puzzle without any offense taken (on the blogs). OREO and BANANA might be offensive to some, but they're fairly common crosswordese. What we have, then, is a battle between intent and result, and all that's left is the question of harm, a thing that those in power are never really in a good position to evaluate.

Banana Diaquiri 3:51 PM  

Synchronicity!! WE/TV runs 'Law and Order' nearly 24/7, and as I type the 3:00pm episode ('Promote This!') makes liberal (hehe) use of BEANER. not surprising: the episode is about white kids killing 'illegal' Mexicans. just so y'all know.

PC Pooper 4:32 PM  

I just googled to see why banana is offensive. Jesus Christ on a cracker! What next?

Angry Richard 4:40 PM  

WS has posted an "apology" for 2D on Deb Amien's blog for those who are interested for those who are interested.

RVA flier 4:43 PM  


Well I’m convinced.

berta 4:44 PM  

Yay @LMS (and @Pete)!
@Mericans in Paris makes a valid point but it's off the point.
@LMS is not suggesting that students shouldn't learn proper English, lie/lay and it’s ilk aside. She is trying to involve them in WANTING to learn English. She's not facing a classroom of eager beavers every morning but a class of cynical, jaded, cautious clams WHO'S shells need to be enticed open. That's done by engaging them, by dumbfounding them - What! A teacher making fun of the established order!? - by getting them excited about language. I've had few teachers like @LMS but each left a lasting impression on me. Each kindled a love of learning that burns brightly to this day.

p.s. WHOSE to say she's just producing welders? There's a budding writer or twelve in that crowd and maybe some good teachers, too.

Fred Wollam 4:46 PM  

Where (and when) I was a kid, in a part of the world where racism was common, Chicago,the words "chink" and "slope" and "coon" and "boot" and "shine" and "jig" were all recognized pejoratives.
Rex: please make the appropriate excisions in your Funk and Wagnalls. Tx.

Banana Diaquiri 4:47 PM  

@PC Pooper:
I just googled to see why banana is offensive. Jesus Christ on a cracker! What next?

Hey!! I resemble that remark. and married to an OREO!!

Anonymous 4:50 PM  

How about provoke/INCITE, and ONCEOVER? Both have negative (violent) connotations. Perhaps sensitivity to victims of assault should be considered.

JC66 5:00 PM  

Thanks @Angry Richard. I just read @Will Shortz's apology. What he fails to grasp is the fact that BEANER is not, as clued, a baseball term and has no other meaning than a racial slur. So unlike many other possibly offensive words (hi @Unknown 4:46) has no business in the NY Times crossword puzzle.

FWIW 5:09 PM  

Definition of beaner by The Free Dictionary

Noun. 1. beaner - a baseball deliberately thrown at the batter's head. beanball.

JC66 5:32 PM  

Define BEANER.


Great source. It's interesting that the Free Dictionary doesn't even mention the racial slur as a secondary meaning.

Nancy 5:38 PM  

@Loren: "Arithmetic, schmerithmetic," said the math teacher. "What a snobby, sickening thing it would be to tell a pupil who adds 3 + 4 and gets 6 that he is wrong. A bunch of jelly beans in his hand -- 5,6,7 -- what difference will it make in his life, anyway? Only an obnoxious pedant would say anything or even think anything about it. One answer is just as good, just as legitimate, as the other."

"My pupil thinks California is on the Atlantic Ocean," said the geography teacher. "That's what her parents and grandparents have always thought. So why make her feel stupid or inadequate? And why make her feel that her parents and grandparents are stupid? Seen one ocean, seen them all. And anyway, what does she need to know from oceans -- she's going to be a hairdresser in a town that isn't near any ocean. It frankly makes me sick to my stomach that anyone would make a big issue out of something so elitist."

Sorry, Loren. I don't buy your argument. If I were a parent, I would surely want my children to speak and write English more correctly than I do. That's why I bloody well send them to school in the first place. You write: "Disdain for not knowing the accepted lie/lay difference is really just a snobby disdain for the poor schmuck not getting as good an education as you did." But, Loren, my whole desire is to see that all children get every bit as good an education as I did. And if you feel that the children you teach are so (choose one or more) disadvantaged, fragile, trapped, distracted, poor, traumatized, or whatever that trying to teach them correct English is a waste of time (and anyway there's really no such thing as correct English, is there?) I would move heaven and earth to try to get them into a different English class -- one where the teacher hasn't completely given up on them almost from the get-go.

JC66 5:44 PM  

But if you scroll down, you'll see that it lists "References in Periodicals," all of which are ethnic slurs.

mmorgan 5:47 PM  

I virtually never read the NYT’s own xword blog (the few times I have, I’ve found it relatively bland and not very instructive, at least for me), but it’s interesting that today’s 2D controversy has bubbled up there as well, and rather heatedly.

Anonymous 6:18 PM  

Aaaaaaaack this place.

Pete 7:15 PM  

@Nancy - Emily Post would be proud of my ability to set a dinner table properly. Forks on left, knives and spoons on right, placed outside-in in order of use. Glassware on right, bread plate on left, butter knife centered above the dinner plate or with bread plate your choice. My in-laws set the table completely differently. Thanksgiving was an Emily Post nightmare - I'm drinking out of my BIL's glass, using my fork but my wife's knife because they place them improperly damn it, improperly!

You know what difference this makes? - Absolutely none. Would I tell them how to set the table according to my definition of "properly"? Absolutely not. Setting a table is just following an arbitrary set of rules. Some people follow a different set of rules than others. It's not indicative of anything, other than which set of rules you follow. You would have this be different, follow my set of rules or you're an ill-mannered, uncouth hostess.

Different English grammars arise when people with different native languages merge their grammar with English grammar. This usually disappears within a generation or so with exposure to the larger world. It can persist where the population remains essentially isolated. They are all perfectly fine grammars, just not Standard American English. People speak using them, other people understand what they're saying. They work fine.

Loren teaches SAE. Loren gives failing grades on tests / reports / essays where her students fail to use SAE. She makes them read and write SAE. She tells them they need to know SAE in order to progress in the wider world. it's just that she is not a bitch, and tells them that it's just Emily Post vs Non-Emily Post, that her parents, aunts, uncles etc aren't really all ignorant buffoons but people who use a different grammar. She then cries all the way home from work every day because she knows she can't possibly do enough for her kids.

Please be more careful when choosing to demean someone's efforts when you know absolutely nothing about their scope or depth.

Carola 7:43 PM  

AGHAST right next to BEANER. My reaction wasn't that strong - more like "Really?" - as I wasn't sure how offensive the term was. While I've never heard it used, I somehow learned that it was disrespectful and thus it was surprising to me to see in the grid. It's been enlightening to read all the comments. I think Will Shortz made the wrong judgment call here.
Otherwise....clever theme, nicely hidden (to me, anyway) up until the reveal. And nice to be reminded of Sam ERVIN.

David 7:45 PM  

I almost never comment here, but would just like to say that as a parent (and grandparent) I would move heaven and earth to get my kid into Loren’s class, if I lived in her school district.

Aketi 7:46 PM  

@tb, I get your point about your analogy.

Not Surprised 8:34 PM  


yes, I denounce racism in all its forms. That said, in this particular case with the comment replies to this blog, you can see that many folks can't understand how anyone could be offended by a singular word. "It's just a puzzle," they say.

My guess is that those are the white folk. Yes, there are some people in all races who make stereotypical judgments of other races, but usually minorities are pretty schooled in how singular words can hurt. So it's a good bet the people who are minimizing 2D as Rex "clutching his pearls," (the new "snowflake" evidently), are white. White people (I am one of them) don't know what it's like to be called a name that strikes as deep as many racial pejoratives can. For me "faggot" comes the closest, but in that case I've learned to consider the source. It isn't "racist" per se, but it's rooted in the same "I'm better than you because you aren't in my tribe" mentality.

Phil 8:37 PM  

TOUGH SONG 26A: Its lyrics tell of unrequited love

Crimson Devil 8:55 PM  

Teachers are out most undervalued ($), but esteemed profession.

Aketi 9:08 PM  

@David, I agree. I’d live to get @LMS together with my sister who works in a very different, but equally tough environment for kids. They have a lot in common, except my sister doesn’t solve crossword puzzles.

Malsdemare 9:25 PM  

'Mericans, read "Her own words" and get blown away even more by her incandescent mastery of thought and language.

I'm a midwesterner, I've heard BEANER as a baseball term. And I've heard the pejorative term as well, though it didn't register when I filled it in. But I get Chen's ppint and I think Will, having had its offensiveness to hurt pointed out and given the ease with which it could have been avoided, should have dumped it. No crossword puzzle is worth hurting others.

Other than the unfortunate insult, the puzzle was fun, at least I think it was, I finished it hours ago and it is now wafting off into the mists of time.

Happy new year, all.

Pissant 10:52 PM  

@Americans in Paris. Coming from an expat using the cute 'mericans to play on the French/English use. Check.

Unknown 11:07 PM  

Never heard the term beaner in a pejorative sense. But I live in Canada where we actually welcome immigrants, refugees and southern migrant workers. I also never heard the word used in baseball.

CDilly52 11:45 PM  

Thank you from one who both reveres and practices good grammar but respects those who have worked to learn it as a second (or third or. . .) language and who in my opinion have every right to look askance at the many “ugly Americans” who rudely expect everyone in Europe to speak English. I applaud your RAMBLE and apologize to any who may take offense if iwith my rant I have cast a PALL on the neighborhood.

TomAz 12:00 AM  

So I am very late to this discussion. Apologies. My $0.02:

I have lived in border states (Texas, Arizona) since I was 17. I have followed baseball since I was 10. so we're talking 40+ years here. To me, BEANER is racist slang of the worst sort, very much akin to "wetbacks" and other derogatory language. I have never heard the term in a baseball setting; 'bean ball' is the phrase.

In Arizona, the Tohono O'odham people used to be called "Papago". (There is still a Papago Park in Phoenix.) "Papago" means "bean eater" and hence the change to the original, native language name.

Not terribly impressed with WS's response.

Uncle Alvarez 12:05 AM  

Clueless old bitch

Hungry Mother 7:41 AM  

I missed the fun yesterday by solving the puzzle on a flight from Vegas to Atlanta and not checking in with the blog until today. I really try hard not to be offended by my puzzles; it’s a much happier life.

sdcheezhd 2:44 PM  

Thanks to the many of you who have approached the 2D controversy in such a thoughtful way. Regrets that people, thankfully only a few, react so negatively and defensively to learning something they didn't know about before. Shortly after my wife's family moved from East LA to Monterey Park she was called a 2D in a particularly humiliating, offensive, and physically threatening way. It is something that stays with you.

sdcheezhd 3:42 PM  

Having now read Jeff Chin's comments, it is striking that his example was said almost work for word to my wife, swapping out the slurs.

Scrumpythegreat 9:16 AM  

The use of the word "Beaner" to describe an errant pitch was perfectly legitimate and the NY times should absolutely not haved caved in to the neo-nazi politically correct oh so sensitive putzes by apologizing for a non-error. Ridiculous. Of course, a "Bean Ball" is more widely used but neverthess, "Beaner", is as correct usage, and nothing to be ashamed of. Save your apologies for nasty Naticks like Larissa/Avesta, Shortz.

Burma Shave 10:15 AM  


when INCITE, she’s quite ABROAD.
She’s not TOO SHY – a SAVAGE creature –
ONE who TEASES you with her BOD.


Diana, LIW 11:26 AM  

I somehow knew the comments would devolve into a hill of beans. Since "beaner" was one of my M-I-L's favorite pejoratives for the people who harvested the food she ate, I agree with the sentiments. Tho the meaning of the word in today's context was about sports. And I agree that the usage was awkward.

But I'm just a ladyer in waitinger. Hey - we can er anything. Err...

To me, it seemed like Mon and Tues were switched - tho neither was difficult. In retrospect, I realized I had a DNF onyesterday's puzzle. You can guess where - the usual suspect.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Coffee

Diana, LIW 11:33 AM  

On a more upbeat note - I'm also waiting for ACPT starting March 22. All 700+ players are in a jolly mood, and whilst some view the tourney as a contest, none are contentious. Well, except for the infamous Puzzle Number Five from last year, which still has people scratching their heads (or eyeballs). Joel FaglioIcanneverpronouncehisnamecorrectly was the infamous constructor. Hey @Rambo - bet it would have even you stumped!!

If anyone is interested, I'll attempt to put photos from last year's events here in the comments. The gauntlet is down!!!

Lady Di

thefogman 11:37 AM  

From Jeff Chen's page...

ADDED NOTE: A spokesperson from the NYT issued this statement: "Tuesday's Crossword puzzle included an entry that was offensive and hurtful. It is simply not acceptable in The New York Times Crossword and we apologize for including it."

rondo 11:42 AM  

Well, I’m not gonna dwell on *that* word, but changing the N to an R woulda been the thing to do. But then we wouldn’t have been ABEL to stretch to righteous yeah baby ANI DiFranco. And the 26 threes are another matter. TOO many, IMO.

EPILOG: I went through this puz PRONTO. Quite PASSABLE.

spacecraft 12:07 PM  

Never heard of 2d as a reference to our soon-to-be-walled-off neighbors. I wish I had a nickel for every bean I'VE eaten. But yeah, if that's the case--and it's so easily fixable--why not fix it? Never heard it as a baseball term, either. As many have said, it's beanball. My own perjorative-term sensor beeped at BUCKTEETH. Not word one about THAT in these blogs.

I'll give it this: I never got the theme until filling in the revealer, which makes for a feeling of sort-of-failure. "Oh, come on, you twit, you shoulda known that," I told myself. So, points for the aha.

I have seen Mr. Cee's work before, and pretty much concluded that his name was going to be his grade, at best. (SAREE, Gary.} But, outside of what now appears to be a glaring no-no, this puzzle was for me better than PASSABLE. ONCEOVER is fine. Anybody who manages to read offensiveness into that one is really searching for ANY opportunity to be offended, and I feel SAREE for them. It's any cursory examination of ANYTHING.

IMHO, we need more TEACHERs like @lms. If we don't at least try to hold the line on correct language, we will slide off into unintelligible oblivion sooner than we think. Carry on, lady!

The clue for INNES is unnecessarily obscure when we have a fine DOD in Laura. Honorable mention to @rondo's flame ANI DeFranco. Birdie.

leftcoastTAM 2:46 PM  

First thought on seeing BEANER: An old, tried and true baseball term referring usually to a fast ball deliberately thrown at a batter's head. A very nasty pitch that can (should) get the pitcher thrown out of the game, plus a fine.

Only vaguely aware that, in a quite different context, it's a controversial term, but not really one that grabs me.

Theme today was PASSABLE (hah).

Anonymous 4:39 PM  

These people obviously need something more to do in life.

rainforest 4:41 PM  

Pretty well what @Spacey said. The 2D answer had me go "huh? No one calls a beanball *that*". Other than that, as a Canadian, I suppose, the ethnic slur was completely unknown to me. Now that I do know, change it.

Also, as a Canadian, nice to see ALI Velshi in there.

Because of the controversy in the comments, I decided to read @Rex. Mistake. I think he could easily have made his point in a tenth of the blog space he used. Talk about using a hammer when a fly-swatter is called for.

Good puzzle, with a nifty theme, to boot.

leftcoastTAM 5:48 PM  

The term "beaner" has been used "informally" by many baseball fans to refer to a pitch to the head, but Wiki set me straight on its current, unacceptable pejorative use. Don't think I would want to shout it out at the ballpark either.

centralscrewtinizer 1:37 PM  

I know a guy from Texas who is Irish/Mexican. He refers to himself as a greenbean.

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