Japanese instrument with 17 bamboo pipes / SAT 9-28-19 / Sweet treat depicted in this puzzle's grid / Hit FX police drama of 2002-08 / Nina accompanier / Street food prepared on rotisserie

Saturday, September 28, 2019

Constructor: Alex Eaton-Salners

Relative difficulty: Easy (5:26 without trying hard at all)

THEME: no nope not counting it you can't make me

Word of the Day: SHO (4D: Japanese instrument with 17 bamboo pipes) —
The shō () is a Japanese free reed musical instrument that was introduced from China during the Nara period (AD 710 to 794). It is descended from the Chinese sheng,[1] of the Tang Dynasty era, although the shō tends to be smaller in size than its contemporary sheng relatives. It consists of 17 slender bamboopipes, each of which is fitted in its base with a metal free reed. Two of the pipes are silent, although research suggests that they were used in some music during the Heian period. (wikipedia)
• • •

Really enjoyed this Friday puzzle. Yeah, I know it's Saturday, but this wasn't anywhere near the difficulty level you'd expect from a Saturday. It was an easy breezy Friday with interesting fill. The puzzle can call itself a Saturday if it means that much to it, but it's not fooling anyone. I tend to despise themed puzzles that show up on my beloved themeless days (Fri, Sat), and I see how this one is trying to convince me that it's themed (what with the clues on SWISSROLL and PATISSERIE), but it's all pretense. Just as it's not a Saturday puzzle, it's not a themed puzzle. Know thyself, little puzzle! I got off to a rough start because I had SAT instead of ESL (3D: Subj. of many an after-school class) and had not idea what a SHO was (besides an HBO competitor) and thought the stat in question at 6D: Defensive football stat: Abbr. (INTwas a plural ending in -S. Also, I blanked on the FX police drama, which is absurd. I must have missed the "FX" part and only registered "police drama," because the "FX" part would've been a dead giveaway. Ugh. Anyway, clunky start. Not really sure who DEWITT Clinton or Clinton DEWITT is, and SPICES, really??? (15A: Big exports of Sri Lanka). All of them?!?!?! SPICES is weak. I wanted something specific. Give me a specific country, I expect a specific export. It's like getting [New Zealand dwellers] for a clue and having the answer be BIRDS. Boooo! But after I got stuff up there straightened out, zoom down the east coast and through the bottom section in like a minute, and then back up top to move methodically into the center, which I devoured last and fast. Last square was the very very bottom of the swirl (the "U" in the 18 square).

Speaking of swirl, I had SWI- at 16D: Sweet treat depicted in this puzzle's grid and wanted it to be a SWIRL ... something. SWIRL ROLL, maybe. I know SWISS ROLLs exist, but I've never seen one in the wild or on a menu and never had one, to my knowledge. I see them on the Great British Baking Show, that's how I know they're real. I went to lots of PATISSERIEs in Montreal, don't remember seeing a SWISS ROLL. Anyway, it just didn't come to me quickly, is all I'm saying. Other issues included going with CBS before TBS (30A: Final Four airer in even years), hesitating briefly on the middle letter of TAT (thought maybe TIT would be involved), and tentatively writing in SHAWARMA, which looked fake to me, as I'm pretty sure I first encountered it as SHWARMA (with just the two A's) (10D: Street food prepared on a rotisserie). I also don't really know what TEAR SHEETS are so I wanted TEST ... something (1D: Printing samples). Thank goodness I watched a lot of ESPN at one point in my life. I forget who, but one of the anchors on SportsCenter would routinely talk about a hot player (hot in terms of success, not looks!) as being EN FUEGO. Crossing that with PURTY seems slightly risky, but it's hard to imagine someone's getting genuinely hung up there. OK, good, fun time. See you tomorrow.


Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

P.S. It looks like a lot of people don't know who WALLACE STEVENS is ... which ... advantage, English professor, I guess, but I thought he was super famous (as poets go). Shows what an ivory-tower dwelling tweed-wearing pipe-smoking New York Review of Books-reading snoot I am. (Actually, I've never read WALLACE STEVENS and totally confuse him with William Carlos Williams)

P.P.S. here's a definition of "diet" for those confused about the LEGISLATORS clue (55A: Ones on a diet)

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


jae 12:07 AM  

Easy. Looks like a cinnamon ROLL to me. Never heard of a SWISS one, but then I don’t watch the British Bake-Off show.

Not sure this one was worth it.

Robin 12:10 AM  

It's sad to read someone who lives in New York comment that has no idea who DEWITT Clinton was.

Joaquin 12:12 AM  

Never heard of WALLACE STEVENS.
Never heard of SHAWARMA. and certainly never ate any.
Never heard of SWISS ROLL and certainly never had any (unless you count that never-discussed event during my gap year).

Z 12:20 AM  


Yep, easy. Heading to a tournament so my last comment for a couple of days.

Anonymous 12:36 AM  

LIttle Debbie makes SWISS ROLLs but they are also well know in asian bakeries, those are the roll cakes that they bake the cute surprise images into when you cut them open, such as hearts or Hello Kitty heads if you're talented

JackC 12:45 AM  

Shouldn’t the clue for 55 across be “ones IN a diet” rather than on a diet?

JackC 12:47 AM  
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
puzzlehoarder 12:53 AM  

An average Saturday solve but a very nice looking one. Having to skip over several choke points then restart and backfill kept this out of the easy range for me.

SEASHANTIES was first guess material and the rest of the top tier fell with a little effort. The long east side downs were easier.

LEVER and REPO were my first sticking point. Later it was GLARE and then SOY. Not that hard to restart further along but it does add time.

There wasn't any one entry I had to sweat over like yesterday but PATISSERIE picked on my spelling weakness. For awhile I considered where the C should go in SHAWARMA until GLARE was forced on me. All was clear in the end and it was fun getting there.

Jyqm 1:09 AM  

What to make of a purportedly educated New Yorker going on about how he’s “not really sure” who DeWitt Clinton is? Of an English literature professor basically LingOL about how he routinely confuses two of the most famous (and, to my mind, at least, very different/distinct) American poets of the twentieth century, neither of whom he’s ever actually read anyway? Nothing against anyone else — non-New Yorkers, non-English literature professors — who was not already familiar with these particular answers; different people have different areas of knowledge. But good God, man. Really?

okanaganer 1:23 AM  

@jae, ditto for a CINNAMON ROLL, mmmmm. @Joaquin, also never heard of/had a SWISS ROLL and the pictures on Google don't tempt me much.

Read the clue for 54 across and immediately put in DIVORCE LAWYER, losing the plural because of course that doesn't fit. Should have kept the DIVORCE part.

On xwordinfo.com, Alex describes his long drawn out creation process. He mentions spending a lot of time tweaking black squares to create the shape of the spiral. I have to say in the end he got that shape pretty much dead on perfect, within the aliasing restraints of 15 x 15 pixels.

okanaganer 1:30 AM  

PS I want to add, my favorite SEA SHANTY is the Beach Boys' Sloop John B.

Elle 3:32 AM  

it's a British thing and you'd never find it in a PATISSERIE, more like in a CANTEEN, but maybe it's a play on Swiss

Teedmn 4:03 AM  

SEA SHANTIES sounds like a hovel on the water. I wanted SEA cHANTeyS, as one would, but I put in SHANTIES when EcL and DyWITT made no sense. When my puzzle came up as incorrect, that's where I went to find my mistake. But no, I had managed to ERR in the very center. EN FUEGO is sussable now but at the time, PeRTY seemed fine and I had a typo in PATISSsRIE. So DNF today on this very easy (for an AES puzzle anyway) Saturday.

Hah, now that I've read Rex, I see I've proved him wrong on the "but it's hard to imagine someone's getting genuinely hung up there" in the center section. So there!

Another area I thought might contain an error was SHAWARMA, which is a total WOE for me. I considered SHApARMA but I have yet to meet a kitty that MEpS.

Great clue for SYNOD. I wasted a few seconds on what kind of chess move might be described by __N_D.

Anyone else try to fit "Hostess HoHo" in 16D, only to be stopped short with one "Ho"?

Nice job, Mr. Eaton-Salners.

ZenMonkey 4:12 AM  

I'm a sucker for a swirl.

And I loved the clue for TAPERS.

mmorgan 5:58 AM  

Pleasant and super easy for a Saturday, and filled with stuff I have no idea how I knew. Strange when that happens.

TrudyJ 6:02 AM  

I am that person you could never imagine getting hung up on that crossing between ENFUEGO and PURTY. Didn't hesitate for a moment over the SWISSROLLS or WALLACESTEVENS or any of the rest of it but I'd never heard ENFUEGO before and PURTY didn't spring to mind at all. I had ENFAEGO crossing PARTY, which I knew was wrong but at least one of them was a word I recognized.

Dan Miller 6:02 AM  

Dewitt Clinton was one of the framers of the Constitution, and interestingly he also headed the committee that laid out the modern Manhattan street grid (i.e. the part above Houston). Lexington and Madison Avenues were put in decades later, though, to split up blocks and create more street frontage.

Anonymous 6:10 AM  

I didn’t understand this clue/answer at all. Can someone explain?

Hungry Mother 6:14 AM  

A lucky wag in the south gave me a very fast solve this morning. A Saturday while drinking my first cup of coffee is a rarity. I guess I’ll surf Twitter whilst drinking my second cup.

Lewis 6:32 AM  
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Lewis 6:34 AM  

Well, oh-my-gosh yes. What a gorgeous looking grid. The first word that came to my mind was "nautilus".

The strengths of this puzzle, to me, on top of its spectacular design, are its jank-liteness (and Alex says in his notes that he probably put more than 200 hours into this, which included redos for Mr. Shortz, which I call Willigans), and, especially, cool looking and sounding answers: SHAWARMA, ENFUEGO, STREW, PURTY, PATISSERIE, SLOG, SYNOD, and DELVE. They attest to the fascinating beauty that language can possess.

I wish the cluing had more bite and wit to give this puzzle Saturday perfection, capping off its visual beauty and polish.

And I wish I had started solving at LAD and ended on USES, or vice versa, and filled in the grid in a swirly path, like skipping along on the Yellow Brick Road. That would have been sweet as a swiss roll.

Telvo 6:59 AM  

Dan Patrick was the ESPN commentator, paired with Keith Olbermann.

Anonymous 7:32 AM  

Personal best for a Saturday! No sticking points, very intuitive. A lively solve, if a tad on the easy side, but I'll take it.

Now if I could just figure out how to shave off another minute so I can be in the Rexosphere. I can't even fathom a sub-6 Saturday. (Well, not yet, anyway.)

Ho Stess 7:53 AM  

First of all, you get them at the 7-11 or the gas station convenience store.

And second of all, they are called HoHos.

pabloinnh 7:54 AM  

I'm with @teedmn on the shanty/chanty issue. I've seen it written both ways but chanty at least has "chant" in it (see also "chanson") which has something to do with singing. Also with everyone who has never had a SWISSROLL. Was hoping vaguely for a cinnabon to go with my coffee.

OFL must have been an English major, not sure how he did that without reading any WALLACESTEVENS.

Puzzle's design was its most interesting feature, but lots of fun answers. Thanks for all the hard work, A E-S.

Rube 7:59 AM  

What a joke. This was a Tuesday/wednesday not a Saturday. The least easy thing was getting started which was Wallis Simpson.

Then I did it so fast I got whiplash as I moved clockwise around the "roll". And I certainly have no idea what a Swiss roll is but I can tell you that on the eve of the Jewish High Holidays, that picture in the grid is unquestionably the Hebrew letter fey .

I only wish the puzzle was as much of a struggle to solve as apparently it was to construct. Oh well.

Nick D 8:04 AM  

Rex clearly did not attend grade school in New York or he would definitely know who DeWitt Clinton was. Governor. Erie Canal. Very famous.

Got SEASHANTIES based on nothing at all, and the rest was history. Not a personal best at 13:17, but close.

QuasiMojo 8:11 AM  

It's hard to live in New York without hearing of DeWitt Clinton, especially upstate. He was an early prominent Governor, and instrumental in building the Erie Canal. I think Clinton, NY which is not too far from Binghamton was named for him.

Wallace Stevens was big in the 70s when I "read" poetry in college. Loved his work. He was the one who sold insurance or was a banker, right? I had SEXY for NSFW so I was thinking the name was XAVIER something. Put in SOUVLAKA too. Never heard of The Shield so I struggled out of the gate. I wouldn't call the stuff on TV these days PLOTS. And while I think I've eaten a Swiss Roll or two the grid looked to me like a SWIRL so I was starting off with that. I guess I had Carvel on my mind. (JIMMY convinced me it was an ice cream theme.)

ACES don't make me think of WEAPONS so Ixnay on that.

I started flummoxed but quickly finished. Not the SLOG I had hoped for.

Suzie Q 8:14 AM  

I can't say I had an easy solve but it sure was fun.
Wallis and Wallace in the same puzzle caught my attention.
The shape in the grid was very nice and I immediately thought of a certain blogger and cinnamon.

Laurel 8:27 AM  

Ones on a diet = legislators. What am I missing? Do I need more coffee?

btgrover 8:42 AM  

Lol how desperate is Rex to impress us - needed to let us know that he DIDNT TRY HARD AT ALL to solve this one. Somebody give this guy a hug.

Birchbark 8:48 AM  

I placed a jar in Tennessee,
And round it was, upon a hill.
It made the slovenly wilderness
Surround that hill.

The wilderness rose up to it,
And sprawled around, no longer wild.
The jar was round upon the ground
And tall and of a port in air.

It took dominion everywhere.
The jar was gray and bare.
It did not give of bird or bush,
Like nothing else in Tennessee.

-- Wallace Stevens, "The Anecdote of the Jar"

Anonymous 8:52 AM  

With the grid I was hoping that a clue might lead to Robert Smithson. That would have been much more satisfying than SWISSROLLS.

RavTom 8:58 AM  

A DIET is a legislative body, like a parliament. The Diet of Worms (which sounds gross) outlawed Martin Luther’s teachings. The Japanese parliament is called the Diet.

Sgreennyc 9:03 AM  

Why would your readers care that you don't know who De Witt Clinton was? Your particular points of ignorance is of no interest to us. I suppose it takes a huge ego to call yourself a crossword master (you're not) but you should concentrate on discussing what is of real interest to readers: the words.

DavidL 9:05 AM  

@Laurel 8:27: "Diet" is the Japanese parliament, so it is made up of LEGISLATORS. But I agree with @JackC 12:45 that "on a diet" doesn't work - should be "in a diet." That little nit held me up, because I was trying to fit the word "eaters" into the end of that answer.

Anyway, a fine Saturday. I didn't find it so easy - my time was only a hair below average. I also liked the clue on "TAPERS".

Anonymous 9:09 AM  

Call the roller of big cigars! I knew Stevens won the Pulitzer a few years after Gwendolyn Brooks won for Annie Allen in 1950 because of the story of Stevens seeing her picture in the Pulitzer headquarters (?) and saying a much more racist version of “who is that?”

Wm. C. 9:11 AM  

@Laurel8:27 --

"Ones on a Diet" ...

The Japanese Legislature is "The Diet."

sidneyellenwade 9:13 AM  

DeWitt Clinton was a governor of New York once upon a time. And Wallace Stevens is a brilliant poet. Happy to see them both in this fun puzzle.

Anonymous 9:14 AM  

As a Brit who spends a lot of time in the US, it never ceases to amaze me how different our dessert options are. I blitzed through SWISSROLL because they are very obviously a thing in the UK.

Apparently, American and British desserts are so different because sugar became more cheaply available AFTER the US won independence, and as such we followed divergent paths in developing our sweet stuff.

Don't even get me started on chocolate...

RooMonster 9:17 AM  

Hey All
Well, had SEASHANTIES in, but took out the HANT part since I couldn't get the Downs into anything that made sense. Plus THE SHIELD bot existing in the ole brain for some reason, as you couldn't get away from the ads for that show 10-15 years ago. Not knowing that a SHO is a bamboo Chinese instrument (who knows that?) led to to have to hit Reveal Puzzle, to see my THE untoLD was wrong. Decided to put the H in 4D, rehit Reveal, saw it was correct, then alphabet edit the S, finally seeing THE SHIELD, then saw my original SEASHANTIES was right, and slapped myself for not sticking with it. Really should've got INT, but by that point my mind shut down.

Rest of puz turned out relatively easy. Had hardly anything first pass through, but was able to ROLL (har) pretty quickly through it after getting some key answers.

As @Anon 12:36 said, SWISS ROLLs are awesome high-suger high-fat Chocolate-Cream snack cakes from Little Debbie's. Next time your at the supermarket, look for them. Along with all the other delicious cakes that I can't eat anymore, because my sugar levels would cause me to keep over!

Nice, sorta-kinda-but-not-really-themed-puz. I don't get the LEGISLATORS/diet thing though. Anyone care to tell me without making fun of me? :-)


Laurel 9:21 AM  

Ah. Thank you!

Laurel 9:23 AM  

Thank you! Today I learned...

Preferred Customer 9:23 AM  

Chap<>lad to me. A chap is a grown man, a lad a boy. And are we giving "aaah" a pass? Repoll? If you knew some of the ppp in a part of the puzzle it was easy, if not the rest was ambiguous and sparse enough to move it into almost impossible. 💻

Klazzic 9:26 AM  

Someone please explain to dopey me why SOY is a follower of YO,

Carola 9:33 AM  

I'm the solver who got the difficult Saturday puzzle she wanted. I had no idea about THE SHIELD, forgot chanties could also be SEA SHANTIES, got discouraged when Stuart Little wouldn't fit. I was very happy to finally spot the PINTA and its supporting IM okay - not. Anyway - eventually PATISSERIE and LUMEN got me the crucial SHAWARMA and allowed me to get going on the swirl, the final sweep made easy (finally) by WALLACE STEVENS.

I thought the SWISS roll was going to be a SWeet ROLL (view from above instead of the side)....when Danish wasn't going to fit.

@Anonymous 9:09 - I love that poem - just wish I felt I understood it.

Unknown 9:38 AM  

I like coming here to read the comments to see how slow and ignorant I really am...keeps me humble!

Nancy 9:44 AM  

For me this was much easier than yesterday's puzzle and I sort of felt that Alex and I are on the same wavelength. Though I didn't know THE SHIELD and had no idea that a SHO is a Japanese instrument (I thought it was a TV channel I don't subscribe to), I came up with DEWITT, HARE, HAT, INT, LISPS and ETES faster than you can say SEA SHANTIES and I was off to the races. Happy that the children's classic CHARLOTTE'S WEB was from my era: there are so many terrific new classics that I don't know.

Loved the clues for DIVORCE PAPERS and STOOGES. Liked the Wallis/WALLACE mini-theme. And while I seldom notice grid design, this one was pretty arresting -- though I did get a little seasick as I was filling it in. Enjoyable puzzle.

MissScarlet 9:48 AM  

Really hated ESL and SPEECH COACH. If a school has a “speech coach” they might teach the debate team, or public speaking. By law, only licensed and credentialed speech pathologists can treat lisps.

ESL classes are not part of after school curriculum. Again, required by law for students who need assistance learning English and are provided during the school day. Adult ESL classes are usually held in the evening

SJ Austin 9:49 AM  

The ESPN anchor in question is the late Stuart Scott. King of the catchphrase, at least in that era of ESPN. My favorite of his, when Michael Jordan was really getting hot, was "Call MJ butter, cuz he is on a ROLL", which fits for today too. Stuart Scott died from cancer in 2015 at the age of 49. RIP to a legend.

PS: I was real grumpy at first that the bottom section of the puzzle was going to require me to know a Pulitzer winner from over 20+ years before I was born, but with a handful of crosses, I was able to get it. Pretty famous name, IMO. Fair.

GILL I. 9:53 AM  

Grid art is fun. I like it, @Alex.
I'm glad it was easy for you...it wasn't for me. Maybe trying to solve in the early AM...who knows?
Did my staring and the only thing I had for a while was PINTA and SIMPSON. So I had fun with the middle of the SWISS ROLL. Loves me some EN FUEGO and PURTY. OK, let's go back upstairs. Starts with SEA something. Ditties doesn't fit. Forget that part. Move on. Of course....CHARLOTTES WEB - what else could it be. Memories of reading that book a thousand times to my children and crying loudly when she dies. To this day, I will not kill a spider - not even if it's a black widow. They give birth to children as well.
The hardest one for me was SHAWARMA. I've never eaten one nor have I heard of one. I love street food but it has to be a delicious taco in Mexico. I'd take travel agents on fam trips and they were loathe to try anything from vendors. The only time I ever got sick from food was eating my very first Big Mac when I arrived in NYC.
Wallace Stevens took every single down. I'm not really into poetry so sue me and call me names.
I enjoyed this puzzle -you gave me PATISSERIE SWISS ROLL and the STOOGES.

Ryan 10:08 AM  

@Klazzic — I read it as the Spanish for “I am” (Yo soy)

Silasxl 10:17 AM  

When I was a kid in Brooklyn, a company called Drakes sold a chocolate covered treat which they called "Yodels." I later learned that was a swiss roll

Joshua Whitney 10:23 AM  

Clinton was DeWitt

but John Greenleaf was the Whittier.

Clinton Street is a big part of Binghamton.

Anonymous 10:35 AM  

I believe Rex grew up in California so gets a pass on DeWitt Clinton.
I’m from the Midwest (now in San Francisco) and vaguely knew DeWitt from school,
it slowed me down. Had my Oneida ancestor not been encouraged to leave
Madison County, NY, perhaps I’d know all about him, (but I wouldn’t exist at all if any part of
the family history had been different).

It’s totally legitimate to spout off about words that slowed him down,
I appreciate those comments. And why would we expect him to know
everything about his chosen field when people tend to specialize.

Unknown 10:36 AM  

That's what I was thinking!

webwinger 10:39 AM  

Agree this was a very easy Saturday, which for me meant under 25 minutes to solve. Led astray starting out because of SEAcHANTeyS, but knew CHARLOTTES WEB had to be right, then got enough crosses--no problem jumping to DEWITT when neither Bill nor Hillary would fit--to get back on track. Went to Google for WALLACE STEVENS, but would probably have figured him out if I'd been more patient. Lots of nice clues today, as others have commented.

Sean 10:40 AM  

Rex! Why pretend that you don’t know Wallace Stevens? Can I draw your attention to your post for the Saturday 17 January 2009 puzzle?

Sean 10:44 AM  

Rex! Why pretend that you haven’t read Wallace Stevens? Can I draw your attention to your post on the puzzle of Saturday 17 January 2009, in which you introduced me to “The Emperor of Ice-Cream”?

Jumbo 10:47 AM  

WALLACESTEVENS was the most notable thing about Hartford until the Whalers moved in there.

Lee Gerston 10:50 AM  

"Dare I say...en fuego"

CDilly52 10:51 AM  

@JackC. I agree. I knew that the clue was going to have something to do with “the other diet” immediately except for the “on” instead of “in.” Maybe the constructor confused “diet” with “dais?” Or not.

Joe Dipinto 10:54 AM  

@Rex -- Surely you remember Clinton DeWitt's nephew Addison DeWitt, the poison-pen theater columnist in "All About Eve". And his great-granddaughter Joyce DeWitt was a regular on "Three's Company".

I liked this one purty good but it was no Liz Gorski spiral Guggenheim puzzle. That one actually had a point to it. The Wallace/Wallis connection is...intentional? Why else clue SIMPSON that way? From there it's a hop skip and jump to divorce papers and then to speech coaches (think George VI).

Oh damn, I just spilled shawarma spices on my lapel. Not to worry, here comes someone to tidy up.

Jyqm 10:56 AM  

@Klazzic ¿Qué no entiendes?

jberg 10:57 AM  

LEGISLATORS is making a good run for the money, but it's DEWITT Clinton by a mile as today's most-explained clue.

Me too for not knowing what a SWISS ROLL is, and wanting cinnamon roll, if only it had fit. Also wanting 'secessionists' before the much better DIVORCE PAPERS, and SHAshlik before SHAWARMA -- that one really held me up. I once spent a term at Oxford, where there was a late-night shashlik cart, with its vertical rotisserie, in the main square. Every once in a while the press would report that someone got food poisoning from eating the stuff, but it was still there.

I had SEA sHANTeyS, of course. I held off on the ey or IE choice until I had the crosses, but never even thought of S for c. I just checked a dictionary which gives chanteys and shantys, but not shanties, as permissible spellings.

The only emperor is the emperor of ice cream
...if I recall correctly.

CDilly52 11:01 AM  

@Klazzic: “Yo SOY,” is “I am” in Spanish.

El Gordo 11:02 AM  

But then you have eaten a near SHAWARMA or gyro. Tacos al pastor all the way from Lebanon, a gift to the fine foods of Mexico. In Puebla we call them tacos árabes. Delicious

Amelia 11:10 AM  

Forgive me. I had to eat this plum before I commented. Oh, wait. Never mind.

Yo. I know who DeWitt Clinton is. He's got a friggin' high school named for him in the Bronx. It was next door to the high school I went to in the Bronx. (I won't name it but that's like saying I went to college in New Haven. New Yorkers will know.) Anyhow, after Kent State, we "liberated" DeWitt Clinton and all us high-minded angry NY teens marched on Fordham Road together. To what end, I'm not sure. But I do remember getting on the subway long before the police arrived. Scared I was.

There's a wonderful obituary for writer/publisher Sol Stein in, I believe, yesterday's NY Times. He was a great pal of James Baldwin. They met in high school at DeWitt Clinton as co-editors of the literary magazine and stayed friends forever. Read it.

@silaxsi. They still make them. They're not quite swiss rolls. But yum.

I liked the puzzle and, at first, thought it was really hard and then I started putting things in and it was really easy. (Although it took me forever to get Charlottes Web. I had Charles in there for a while. Don't ask.) What can I say that I haven't said before. They're making them easier to bring in more people. Those who haven't cancelled their subscriptions, that is.

And Happy New Year to the Jews among us. (And anyone else who wants one!)

CDilly52 11:13 AM  

Don’t care if today is Saturday and we should struggle more. I had fun and learned some stuff! I now k ow how to spell one of my absolute favorite foods, Shawarma and I learned about the SHO.

I would eat SHAWARMA at any time of the day or night. Just the savory smell of the twirling mass of delightfully spiced proteins makes me drool! We have a fabulous little place here called Two Sisters, owned and operated. by . . . well, you get it. Their recipes come from their mother, grandmother and great-grandmother and they open in 40 minutes! Super fun Saturday - mañana friends! Oh, and BOOMER SOONER!

Ellen S 11:27 AM  

@Sgreennyc, speak for yourself. I think most of us who haunt this blog *love* Rex’s points of ignorance. It’s so fun when a New Yorker never heard of DeWitt Clinton, or an English Professor never heard of Wallace Stevens. In the same puzzle!! Plus by all accounts he’s a really nice guy in person though specializes in scathing in this blog. I guess the scathingness is not a TOPOS, but most likely a shtick. Like, Rolling Stone doesn’t care If Matt Taibbi is insightful or not, as long as his essays use “fuck” a lot. Rachel Maddow is always on the edge of hysteria (don’t get me wrong - I like her, just commenting on style). John Oliver’s nerd-costume is the equivalent of Liberace’s sequins. And Rex is a curmudgeon.

And we Love pouncing on his vast swaths of ignorance, which don’t stop him from filling in these puzzles much faster than we can. Or — do you regularly beat his times? Congrats!

TJS 11:27 AM  

I would normally be really disappointed with a Saturday puzzle that gave me almost no trouble, but I'm with @Lewis that this fill is so relatively clean that it was still an enjoyable effort.
You certainly don't have to be a New Yorker to know who DeWitt Clinton was. And those of you surprised that a professor of English is not able to distinguish between Wallace Stevens and William Carlos Williams, remember that Rex has stated that he read The Great Gatsby for the first time three years ago or so. I think it says more about the current state of our educational system than anything else. When someone can earn a college degree in English and never be required to take a Shakespeare course, something is wrong. Have they dropped Ethics from Law School curricula yet ?
I will give Rex credit for acknowledging his weak spots occasionally. It is his blog, and he can say what he wants. To admit to not knowing something once in a while is better than having someone constantly bragging about what he knows.
Best part of todays comments, to me, was the tweet provided by Rex regarding NSFW, which I thought was hysterical.

aslightrain 11:38 AM  

So, Wallace Stevens is so 'super famous' that a longtime student and professor of English literature has not read him?
I imagine most Americans would have a hard time naming more than 5 or 6 20th century poets, so I'm not sure how they should be expected to know a poet their English professor never had them read when one of said poet's most frequently studied poem is now 100 years old. It's old enough to be in the public domain, and as it is quite a good poem, I will share it here:

Anecdote of the Jar
I placed a jar in Tennessee,
And round it was, upon a hill.
It made the slovenly wilderness
Surround that hill.

The wilderness rose up to it,
And sprawled around, no longer wild.
The jar was round upon the ground
And tall and of a port in air.

It took dominion everywhere.
The jar was gray and bare.
It did not give of bird or bush,
Like nothing else in Tennessee.

Adam 11:45 AM  

Really - you don't know DEWITT CLINTON? Mayor of NYC, Governor of NYS, responsible for the Erie Canal? No? Whatever.

Had SCHWARMA before SHAWARMA - the CC in 12A gave it away. Then CHARLOTTE'S WEB came easily, as did the rest of the puzzle.

Let be be finale of seem
The only emperor is the emperor of ice-cream.

Enjoyed the puzzle, but I agree that it wasn't up to Saturday standards. Still really fun, though.

Nancy in Chicago 12:22 PM  

This one started out super-easy and got harder, for me. I flew through the top and sides but got majorly stuck at the bottom. It didn't help that I don't know Wallace Stevens and I have never heard of that definition for "diet." I probably spent 3 times as long on the bottom 3 rows as I did on the rest of the puzzle. Also, I agree with others that it's a ho-ho. :)

Joe Dipinto 12:25 PM  

@Lewis -- I actually started at the USES/SIMPSON cross, and was hoping to finish by strictly wending around the spiral. I couldn't move out of the center though, so I had to jump somewhere else to keep going.

Also, I annoyingly had a write-over at 55a – with the L,G,A,T,R,S in place, I confidently entered LIGHT EATERS for "ones on a diet". Nope.

Hoboken Mike 12:25 PM  

Or yodels which after 60 years finally makes sense as a Swiss call for a Swiss roll

old timer 1:02 PM  

Michael Sharp knows plenty of things that Rex Parker doesn't. Indeed, OFL might have learned about DEWITT Clinton in his California elementary school. I did. Also learned a few verses of that Erie Canal song (believe it or not, The Boss, in his "Seeger Sessions" record, sings it like the raucous, drunken tune it was, when those canal boatmen got together somewhere between Albany and Buffalo).

Boatmen might have sung SEA SHANTIES to pass the time. Lumberjacks were famous shantymen, too. But of course they originated on sailing ships. The name comes from the French sailing tradition, the marins (sailors) heard their bo's'ns call out "Chantez" and sing they did. Since "chantez" is pronounced shantay, English and American sailors pronounced and spelled it with an sh, not a ch. Fancypants professors tried to change the word to "chanties", which is ridiculous.

Though WALLACE STEVENS might have preferred that spelling. He became a Stanford professor, though I for one had little use for him.

Anonymous 1:04 PM  
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymoose 1:06 PM  

Here is a summary of what has emerged in the blog today regarding SWISSROLLS.

Little Debbie calls theirs Swiss Rolls.

Hostess calls theirs HO-HO's

Drake's calls theirs Yodels

Anoa Bob 1:12 PM  

When I was just a LAD, my mother would make these yummy desserts consisting of a thin, light cake, maybe an inch or so thick, with a a generous layer of jam or preserves smeared over the top. This would then be rolled up and cut into sections. The result was what we called a Jelly ROLL. Here's an image from the Food Network. Never heard them called a SWISS ROLL, though.

One of things that may have made this puzzle easier to solve than a typical Saturday puzzle is the large number of three and four letter entries. Even with the cutest clues, it's still a bit of a SLOG grinding them out. Hardly an AAAH experience.

QuasiMojo 1:26 PM  

Since people are quoting Wallace Stevens, I thought I'd add a famous quote from Wallis Simpson: "You can never be too rich or too thin." A fitting quip for a puzzle that serves up a very rich treat and teases us with a tricky Diet.

Unknown 1:28 PM  

Today's puzzle was a pretty easy solve for me especially for a Saturday. Sometimes it is nice to get to finish quickly.
I have started to enjoy these comments almost as much as I enjoy doing the puzzle. I read them almost as ofrten as solving if time allows. As a 60+ YO solver I have a different POV than many of the commenters here. Perhaps solvers on my generation don't read blogs and comment.

I have eaten SWISS ROLLS from Little Debbie since elementary school, my Dad graduated from DEWITT CLINTON in the Bronx, and I loved THE SHIELD. Somedays being an oldie pays off.

Frantic Sloth 1:29 PM  

History (and Geography) were my worst subjects in grade school and even *I* know who DEWITT Clinton was [garbled mumble] years later.

Masked and Anonymous 1:57 PM  

Wanted CINNAMONROLL. (yo, @jae, @SusieQ darlin, et al.) … Purty much always do, tho. But but -- Great puzgrid art, no matter how U slice it. pastrythUmbsUp.

The weejects really played a major part in gettin this here puzroll to swirl. Some of them pups were, unfortunately, troublemakers. Especially ARI, SHO, and SOY. Lost valuable nanoseconds on LAD, also -- tried about everything else there, includin: MAN, GUY, BRO, MAR, MON, JOE, BOY, ...

Didn't know these tasty puzroll fillins, either: THESHIELD. WALLACESTEVENS. SHAWARMA. ENFUEGO. Fortunately, they stayed outta each other's way, in the puzgrid.

fave requisite 64-worder puzgrid Ow de Speration: AAAH. REPOLL. PURTY [like].

Lotsa primo fillins leftover that I did know, to provide copious icin on the puzroll. Fun, **different** semi-themeless solvequest. Don't matter what U call it, yes/no-theme-wise; it is what it is and what it is is mostly good-as-a-C-roll stuff.

Thanx for the pastryparty, Mr. E-S.
Whenever I eat my last cinnamon roll of the mornin, I always cut the last big bite in two, and eat just half. Then I cut what's left in half, and eat half of that. And so on. Ergo, that last cinnamon roll lasts darn near forever [limited mostly by M&A's eyesight].

Masked & Anonymo3Us [2 of them U's were in the chewy puzroll center]

staff weeject pick = LAD. Admired the fight it put up, at our house.


Cardinal 2:01 PM  

@Old Timer: that was Wallace Stegner, not Wallace Stevens, who became a Stanford professor. If you haven't read Angle of Repose, you've really missed out.

Jillybean 2:25 PM  

To defend OFL... Born and raised in Brooklyn - and apparently lived on a street named for him- but never heard of DeWitt Clinton
Nevertheless, record time here

Tim 2:28 PM  

One’s grand flights, one’s Sunday baths, one’s tooting at the weddings of the soul, occur as they occur.

Unknown 2:56 PM  

OMG, @oldtimer mentioned the song about the
Erie Canal. We sang that song along with other
American tunes every morning in my Midwestern
third grade class. “I’ve got a mule, her name is Sal,
15 miles on the Erie Canal”. My Oneida ancestor who
left NY State became a surveyor for the Illinois and
Michigan Canal & invented some digging equipment.
He later moved to Iowa to raise mules.

Joe Dipinto 3:06 PM  

@Unknown 1:28 -- it's nice to have someone from your generation show up to post. All the rest of us here are only 29, so we can benefit from your experience.

JC66 3:13 PM  

@Joe D

Good one!

Raoul Duke 3:20 PM  

Yes, it's very rare that we get elderly boomers on Rex's blog to comment. That's why no one complains about clues that reference rap music, or video games, or comic books, or basically anything that's occurred since 1950.

Robert Friedman 3:26 PM  

HARMONIUM is a wonderful poetry book, Stevens first.

He responded to one of William Carlos Williams’s poems to display a philosophical and artistic difference over the nature and aim of poetry.

Anonymous 3:48 PM  

Had saNTA instead of PINTA, which made SaMPSON (seemed plausible) and UsI. Took a minute to track that down. Eventually remembered UPI and straightened it out, but I ended up with an only average time because of that.

SBpianist 4:38 PM  

Me too....

TJS 4:41 PM  

Unknown 1:28...You are not alone by any means. My impression of the commentariat is there are more than a few of us 60 and up. And I agree, there are many days the comments are more interesting than the puzzles. Give yourself an ID so we can know where yer comin' from.

Fred Wollam 4:50 PM  

"The Diet" is Japan's Legislature.

Chuck Chagrin 4:55 PM  

Even in California, where we panned for gold at Coloma and built models of Spanish missions, we learned about DeWitt Clinton in 5th grade US history. As for Stevens, two favorites are "The Snowman" and "Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird."

Fred Wollam 5:16 PM  

Right away, the clue for 19D caught my eye. As an Al Stewart fan, Wallis is branded across my lizard brain ("Laughing Into 1939")... so I solved from the center, out. Choked briefly at SH(A? wrf?)WARMA, and for a bit too long around TAx, but, in the end, thought this was 23A...for a Wednesday.

Cristi 5:28 PM  

I hate to be that correction-guy, but I did a report on DeWitt Clinton in the third grade...he was the 6th governor of NY and is credited with building the Erie Canal— being born
in 1769, he was too young for Constitution

Cristi 5:31 PM  

...unless you mean the NY Constitution, in which case...never mind. (In any event, I’m sure we can both agree with the statement, “C’mon, Rex!”

Larry Levinson 5:50 PM  

Amen, brother

Joaquin 5:51 PM  

@Unknown (1:28) - Bad form to be bragging about your youth. Many of us here would refer to you as "the kid".

The Amazing Randi 5:55 PM  

Erie canal was known as “Clinton’s ditch“.

Z 8:46 PM  

Scored on the first point I played and texted my wife saying “I should head home now.” I was right. 1-2 on the day and beat tired and back at it at 9:30 tomorrow.

I’ve said this before (and before that (and before that) ...) but nobody’s particular areas of ignorance are especially remarkable. We all have them. OFL has a PhD, a degree one can only acquire by mastering a lot of knowledge in a very narrow area. Not remembering WALLACE STEVENS or how he differs from William Carlos Williams in the less than 10 minutes he takes to solve a Saturday is hardly surprising. Personally, I got it from some dark recess of the old gray matter and was more than a tad surprised when W.S. worked. Woo Hoo. Whatever I had first for CHARLOTTE’S WEB did not, which is why easy for me is 20 minutes, not 10 minutes like OFL. Personally, I appreciate that he shares his stumbles. It shows Rex isn’t that far removed from the rest of us.

Patricia Hughes 10:09 PM  

Nice challenge for a Saturday. DeWitt Clinton was also a mayor of NYC. All boys high school in his name that my father attended in the 1930s. Swiss Roll was my downfall. I wanted rolatelle which came from the Persian restaurant where I first had the dessert.

JQ Public 10:46 PM  

@Z- Did Sharp save your life once ? Your pathological need to defend him is bizarre (and cute).

WeesaSuzi 11:19 PM  

Hated. Broke my streak...I love crosswords but this just irritated me. Sorry.

Teedmn 5:08 AM  

Fastest Baader-Meinhof experience ever for me - after calling SHAWARMA a WOE earlier, I passed a SHAWARMA King restaurant on the main shopping street of Reykjavik two hours later and got a good laugh.

Joshua 7:49 AM  

Finished it fairly quickly, except for "Ones on a diet." Maybe I should have been able to get there by getting 44 (had it in mind, but the "diet" across was killing me), 46 and 53 DOWN, but my vocab is pretty good and I have NEVER seen or heard of diet associated with legislation.

Anonymous 9:05 AM  

So many brilliant word people not knowing one of the great 20th century poets makes me sad. Please, introduce yourself to WALLACE STEVENS, perhaps beginning with “The Idea of Order at Key West.” You can read it here: https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/43431/the-idea-of-order-at-key-west

pdplot 9:34 AM  

This soon to be 86 year old found this the best and most clever puzzle in a long time. No ELO, EMO,ENO, ORR, rappers...Started will Wallis Simpson and never looked back. Wife provided me with Wallace Stevens. Aside - I've got some great puzzle ideas but never seem to be able to complete one.

bstuber 1:28 PM  

Apparently shawarma is a gyro ... who knew that?

Telvo 3:01 PM  

SJ Austin: Stuart Scott was a great anchor but 'en fuego' was Dan Patrick's phrase. See http://www.danpatrick.com/dp-dictionary/

kitshef 10:54 PM  

Can’t say I enjoyed this one. Too much of the difficulty came from obscure Japanese words (AHO and whatever that clue was for EEL) and unknown names like WALLACE STEVENS and ARI somebody and shows I’ve never seen like THE SHIELD.

And no, it was certainly not Friday-easy.

rondo 12:04 PM  

Well, they sure didn't call him SWISSROLL Morton. I've only ever heard it called a jellyROLL, but yeah baby TERI wouldn't let me. Wouldn't call it easy due to that whole bottom layer of the ROLL. Almost threw in the towel before a large light bulb came on for the finish.

spacecraft 12:13 PM  

What I saw? The business end of a scorpion. Didn't see food at all. And INRE food: SH (I find myself looking back to the grid so I can copy letter for letter) AWARMA???? Yikes, there's a food called that? Believe me, that puppy took every single cross--and even then I thought I was off somewhere.

I started with the actual stinger: DOD Wallis SIMPSON. Hey, anybody who can make a guy renounce the throne of England has GOT to be DOD material (would have, of course, opted for TERI Hatcher had she not won the sash yesterday). Then I followed the Yellow...etc.

IMFINE with calling it a themed puzzle--or not. No rule book of mine says you can't have one on Fri/Sat. Whatever. Didn't know 48a, but 9d? As soon as I saw the clue I knew it would be DEWITT. Cluers love to give those misdirects, and I recall him from GRADE school!

Couple of defects: AAAH, and REPO/REPOLL, but overall a pleasant solve. Nice inventive asymmetrical grid. Fresh. Birdie.

Burma Shave 12:49 PM  


There WAS no navy for SEASHANTIES,
they're PURTY neutral, so not ANTIS,


Don 1:08 PM  

Every New Yorker should know DeWitt Clinton, the early 19th century governor who masterminded the…Erie Canal, home of that common crossword clue, Sal the mule. In fact, the canal was called by skeptics, Clinton's Ditch.

One of the commentators said Clinton was a founder who participated in creating the Constitution. Sorry, he was only 18 years old in 1787, but his Uncle George, also a New York governor, was a contemporary. However, he opposed the Constitution, and wasn't a member of the convention. Uncle George did eventually become vice president under Jefferson, replacing Aaron Burr.

A great clue.

leftcoast 3:44 PM  

A gettable puzzle, but with some tough cluing and answers that took some head-scratching.

Top of the list: SHAWARMA. That baby required all the crosses; same for SHO. SEA SHANTIES needed some of the crosses in an helpful upper stack. Had essentially the same response except for a couple of late fixes in the bottom one.

REPOLL seems off; usually a lot more than a "second opinion" going on in polling. As a nit, thought LEGISLATORS should be "in" a diet, not "on" it, and that it maybe should've been Diet with a capital D in the clue.

Wanted DIVORCE lawyers (didn't fit) before PAPERS and the currentl politically hot "quid PRO quo" before tit-for-TAT.

Last-named STEVENS was elusive, and couldn't come up with the ROLL of the graphic SWISS ROLL until a late correction.

Overall, liked what AE-S did here.

willzimjohn 2:31 PM  

Different meat used in a shawarma.

Unknown 5:40 PM  

34A. No matter how many times I count, "was" appears 10, not 11, times in he opening line of a Tale of Two Cities

Z 6:06 PM  

It 1 the best of times, it 2 the worst of times, it 3 the age of wisdom, it 4 the age of foolishness, it 5 the epoch of belief, it 6 the epoch of incredulity, it 7 the season of Light, it 8 the season of Darkness, it 9 the spring of hope, it 10 the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way—in short, the period 11 so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.

@unknown5:40 - I replaced every WAS with a number #11 is just much later, dangling out there by itself. I also wonder if Dicken’s teachers ever criticized him for run-on sentences.

LenFuego 6:29 PM  

I am fine with "in" a diet rather than "on" a diet, but when a clue uses definitional misdirection (by using a surprising definition in the context of the clue), standard NYT protocol requires a '?' at the end of the clue.

(I am sympathetic to those that want to do away with that use of '?' at the ends of clues altogether, but if they are going to be used they need to be used consistently.)

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