Mentalist Geller / TUE 12-10-19 / Last O.G. network / Dippable snack item / Lizard in insurance ads / Savory quality as from MSG

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Constructor: Eric Berlin

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium (3:46)

THEME: the big brawl — All theme clues begin, "At the big brawl..." and then, well, the clue and answers basically indulge in boxing puns:

Theme answers:
  • CAME OUT SWINGING (16A: At the big brawl, the jazz musician ...)
  • BOBBED AND WEAVED (36A: At the big brawl, the hairstylist ...)
  • PUT UP THEIR DUKES (55A: At the big brawl, the king and queen ...)
Word of the Day: UPI (58D: News letters) —
United Press International (UPI) is an international news agency whose newswiresphoto, news film, and audio services provided news material to thousands of newspapersmagazinesradio and television stations for most of the 20th century. At its peak, it had more than 6,000 media subscribers. Since the first of several sales and staff cutbacks in 1982, and the 1999 sale of its broadcast client list to its rival, the Associated Press, UPI has concentrated on smaller information-market niches. (wikipedia)
• • •

Dutchess, 2002-2019
HELLO, READERS AND SOLVERS IN SYNDICATION (if it's the week of Jan. 12-19, 2020, that's you!). It's January and that means it's time for my annual pitch for financial contributions to the blog, during which I ask regular readers to consider what the blog is worth to them on an annual basis and give accordingly. It's kind of a melancholy January this year, what with the world in, let's say, turmoil. Also, on a personal note, 2019 was the year I lost Dutchess, who was officially The Best Dog, and who was with me well before I was "Rex Parker." Somehow the turning of the calendar to 2020 felt like ... I was leaving her behind. It's not a rational sentiment, but love's not rational, especially pet love. Speaking of love—I try hard to bring a passion and enthusiasm to our shared pastime every time I sit down to this here keyboard. I love what I do here, but it is a lot of work, put in at terrible hours—I'm either writing late at night, or very early in the morning, so that I can have the blog up and ready to go by the time your day starts (9am at the very latest, usually much earlier). I have no major expenses, just my time. Well, I do pay Annabel and Claire, respectively, to write for me once a month, but beyond that, it's just my time. This blog is a source of joy and genuine community to me (and I hope to you) but it is also work, and this is the time of year when I acknowledge that! All I want to do is write and make that writing available to everyone, for free, no restrictions. I have heard any number of suggestions over the years about how I might "monetize" (oof, that word) the blog, but honestly, the only one I want anything to do with is the one I already use—once a year, for one week, I just ask readers to contribute directly. And then I let 51 weeks go by before I bring up the subject again. No ads, no gimmicks. It's just me creating this thing and then people who enjoy the thing supporting the work that goes into creating the thing. It's simple. I like simple. Your support means a lot to me. Knowing that I have a loyal readership really is the gas in the tank, the thing that keeps me solving and writing and never missing a day for 13+ years. I will continue to post the solved grid every day, tell you my feelings about the puzzle every day, make you laugh or wince or furrow your brow or shout at your screen every day, bring you news from the Wider World of Crosswords (beyond the NYT) every day. The Word of the Day is: Quotidian. Occurring every day. Daily. Whether you choose to contribute or not, I'm all yours. Daily.

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Now on to the puzzle!
• • •

This was a middle-of-the-road puzzle from the 20th century. The gag is corny and kind of forced—"At the big brawl..."?? You say that like it's a normal kind of event. Like ... what? *The* big brawl? What? When? Where? I can imagine. Big party, big race, big sporting event ... I can imagine hypothetical theme answers taking place at the big a lot of things, but brawl? No. The very premise of this theme is hard for me to imagine. And anyway, these are specifically *boxing* puns. And did the king and queen ... like, get their dukes (their? possessive?) to fight in their stead, is that the joke. I mean, obviously the joke is king and queen are titles of nobility, and so is duke, but again, the situational premise is unclear and/or preposterous. Also old-fashioned (in a not-bad way) is the use of just three themers. That used to be much more common, but themes are usually at least a little denser these days. I have no problem with thinner themes if a. they are fantastic, and b. the fill is great. Thin themes should equal fantastic fill, and this ain't it. A bunch of longer answers, but they're just wasted. I mean, ABREASTOF is nothing anyone's gonna cheer for. NACHOCHIP ... is a different from a tortilla chip how? Everything just felt ... unflavored. Plain.

The thing that really killed it for me, though, was ACNED (29D: Benefiting from benzoyl peroxide say). I'm sure it's a word, it's just ... not a good one. I'm actually stunned to see that it has now appeared seven (7) times since I started blogging. I must've blocked all those others out. I think of that word as a joke because Raymond Chandler went after Ross Macdonald for using it once in a very memorable letter to mystery critic James Sandoe, and then Macdonald found out Chandler was trashing him behind his back and spent the rest of his life seething in resentment. Here's a passage from the letter:
A car is "acned with rust", not spotted [...] "The seconds piled up
precariously like a tower of poker chips", etc. The simile that does
not quite come off because it doesn't understand what the purpose of
the simile is [...] When you say "spotted with rust" (or pitted, and
I'd almost but not quite go for"pimpled") you convey at once a
simple visual image. But when you say "acned with rust" the
attention of the reader is instantly jerked away from the thing
described to the pose of the writer. This is of course a very simple
example of the stylistic misuse of language, and I think that
certain writers are under a compulsion to write in recherche phrases
as a compensation for a lack of some kind of natural animal emotion.
They feel nothing, they are literary eunuchs, and therefore
they fall back on an oblique terminology to prove their
Ever since I read this letter (in the course of writing an article on the Macdonald/Chandler relationship) I've never been able to take the word ACNED seriously, as all it makes me think of is cruddy, amateurish writing. Chandler was undeniably a jerk much of the time. But man he could write. I know Macdonald has his devotees, but ... find me the absolute best sentence in any Macdonald novel, and I'll open to a *random* page of The Long Goodbye and find a better one. People say Chandler couldn't plot to save his life. Knopf himself once wrote of Chandler: "He just can't build a plot: in fact, I don't think he even tries." To which I say, when you write that beautifully, who cares? I don't read Chandler for the intricacies of plot or to find out who "done it." I read him to live in a beautiful sad fallen world, one where I can smell the cigarettes, taste the whiskey, hear the surf, and feel the disillusionment. . . . aaaaaanyway, I didn't care for ACNED, is what I'm saying. The whole thing just was not for me. Again, not bad. I'd call it very competent last-century work.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

P.S. LOL the clue on DIDO (37D: Aeneas' love). Lavinia's gonna be so mad when she hears ...

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


jae 12:08 AM  

Medium. Cute, amusing, and reasonably smooth. Liked it a bit more than Rex did.

Joaquin 12:12 AM  

I certainly did not expect to get the Cliff's Notes on the Raymond Chandler/Ross Macdonald feud from Rex's blog. Initially, I was thinking "Who cares?" but by the end I was hooked and glad to have learned this obscure bit of biography. It sorta balanced the whining about the theme (which I enjoyed, despite not being a boxing fan).

Anonymous 12:51 AM  

I came to Rex’s blog today to find an explanation (or perhaps excoriation) of 2D (AMAIN). Finding neither, I must ask here: could someone explain what an AMAIN is and how it answers the clue “at full speed”?

chefwen 1:01 AM  

What @jae said, cute and amusing, I enjoyed it. BOBBED AND WEAVED came out on top.

Is UMAMI going to be the new OREO?

chefwen 1:59 AM  

@Anony @12:51 - AMAIN 2D, with full force, at full speed, in great haste. Uncle Goog knows all.

Benjamin Blanchard 2:08 AM  

@Anonymous, I agree, that was a jarring/weird one - a Google search suggests that this usage is from the 16th century. From Wiktionary: "(archaic) At full speed; in great haste."

albatross shell 2:27 AM  

I thought it was pretty solid Tuesday. Not too easy. Decent theme. Some nicely paired answers. Why would rex dislike ACNED when it gave him a chance to show off a good story?

I appreciated Ross Macdonald's writing well enough. I thought his plots were over-complicated at times. My favorite Macdonald detective writer was John D. Loved his salvage detective with the colorful titles. Always learned something about how the world works reading them.

Anonymous 2:28 AM  

Quick search of The Google says:
comparative more amain, superlative most amain) (archaic) With full force; forcefully, violently. [from 16th c.] (archaic) At full speed; in great haste. [from 16th c.]

Rex was way off on his “this is so last century” assessment as it appear we’re all the way back to the 1500’s on this one. Lol.

Loren Muse Smith 2:34 AM  

I don’t enjoy puzzles for the plausibility of the themers or to find fault with who done it. I enjoy them to live in a contemplative lexical world, one where I can marvel at words, ponder the language, smile at the themes, and feel the wonder. . . . aaaaaanyway,

revisiting the actual make-up of idioms in a whacky way but limiting yourself to scenarios that make sense… that’s a pretty high bar. My husband hates movies where the premise is outrageous. I love’em. I cried when Elliot and his friends got ET to his spaceship just in time, and I laughed just now when I pictured the king and queen enlisting the help of their dukes, the sax player sashaying onto the stage swinging his instrument.

Just being shown that BOB and WEAVE are at once pugilistic and hairstylistic was worth the price of admission. I wish I had the confidence of the Real Housewives of Atlanta, with their bajillion wigs and WEAVEs. These women completely COMPLETELY change their hair every day. What’s more, they’re utterly unapologetic about anything regarding their anything. I adore them. Admire them. Study them. (I have a list on my phone devoted to their speech and regularly add some of the more inventive brilliant coinages. I think I mentioned bitchassment recently, used to describe the act of gossiping about someone. I’ve totally added into the rotation. Teachers can bitchass with the best of them.)

Ok. So the SHAMPOO is a freebie at a hotel. I suppose if the Marriott is courting your business, the manager could offer other freebies. He could add the robe at no cost, could let you have the iron, could throw in the towel.

ACNED does look weird, but it also smacks of a Cockney hackneyed. And if you go back and look, it is an ACNED ARSE. Can’t unsee that now, can ya? You’re welcome.

And a tiny bit of an Easter egg with the south PAW. Sly, Eric.

Jyqm 3:25 AM  

It’s nice to be reminded every now and then why I started reading this blog in the first place! I’ll take Rex complaining about a subpar puzzle (and this one was indeed subpar) every day of the week if it means getting to learn about a literary gem like that wonderful Raymond Chandler letter “The simile that does not quite come off because it doesn't understand what the purpose of the simile is” — now ain’t that nice?

Cynthia 4:03 AM  

@LMS. Good Easter egg!
Is this another?
The BIBLE is also below all the belting going on in the puzzle.

Dawn Urban 6:05 AM  

Loved the theme and the whole puzzle, actually! ...except for ACNED.

Brawls can happen in many places.

James Thurber did a sketch of a brawl that broke out during a dinner party, which resulted in ladies and gentlemen throwing salad plates at one another.

. @chefwen, agree. BOBBEDANDWEAVED was the best!

Lewis 6:17 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Hungry Mother 6:51 AM  

E to Y on the SE corner square because I didn’t read the clues; otherwise, very quick and easy. Filled in downs until the themers came into view.

Suzie Q 7:06 AM  

Medium in difficulty but large in fun.
I got a mental image of a skinny young Frank Sinatra in the first theme answer. "Oh, you mean that kind of swinging?"
Never heard of this Kim, Waze, or The Last O.G.
Dido isn't your usual Tuesday answer.
Surprised to see arse. The Gray Lady is getting edgy today.

I agree with @ LMS on this one and her avatar would have been a good theme answer.
This didn't deserve the panning from Rex.

OffTheGrid 7:10 AM  

@Rex, DUKES is slang for fists. Classic fight challenge is "Put up your dukes!" All three theme answers were very clever. I chuckled most at PUTUPTHEIRDUKES.

amyyanni 7:29 AM  

Vidi for I SAW, b/c I took Latin in HS? Envisioned the trombone player coming out swinging (at AROD). UMAMI does seem to be the next OREO. Thought Umami was a good thing, but then it's sometimes clued w/ MSG.

Hartley70 7:37 AM  

I popped in this morning just because ACNED annoyed the heck out of me. It was such a relief to have Rex scratch that itch.

Lewis 7:45 AM  

No palooka this, a Tuesday-appropriate lightweight puzzle by a heavy hitter (this is Eric's 42nd NYT puzzle), which left me slap happy over a theme I've never seen before and the brilliant BOBBED AND WEAVED, and grateful for a lovely bout.

mmorgan 7:47 AM  

I just could not give up VIDI for 25D (Caesar never said “I saw” in his life) and I had a incredibly hard time committing to the C in ACNED. But I did, finally. Ugh, is that a word?? Other than that, I had a splendid time with this, though now I’ll read Rex and find out why I should have hated it.

Ciclista21 7:48 AM  

Ugh. At the big brawl, the puzzle constructor (or editor) really showed his ACNED ARSE.

Birchbark 7:48 AM  

@Rex re ACNED -- If you can't say something nice about a word, that is an excellent way to do it. I know the next book I'm going to read because of it.

GHarris 8:01 AM  

Once I got off my butt (arse) and dumped potato for a nacho it all fell in place.

Petsounds 8:14 AM  

Easy, lazy, and sloppy--the worst kind of puzzle. Constructors relying on archaic terms need to have another cup of coffee, fire up the neurons, and come up with something better. AMAIN? Please. ACNED is pitiful. The stumble over VIDI/ISAW was also annoying. As was ABREASTOF.

But I enjoyed Rex's dissertation on the two pugilistic writers who came out swinging.

GILL I. 8:17 AM  

Well if ACNED got @Rex's knickers in a twist up the ARSE, then it's fine with me. I immediately wandered over to Chandler's "Philip Marlowe" played by Bogart. Then we have the lovely Bacall being seduced by him in "The Big Sleep."
I rather enjoyed this. I also thought the clues were rather fun. My only disappointment was not seeing a "Lady" before GAGA.
Hypothetical theme answers on a Tuesday? We usually get the blah mehs. Today we had something new (at least for me). I suppose if we had "Boxing" somewhere in the grid, it might've been too tres cool?
Does ATE really equate with Gorged on? I'd rather see some sort of pig in that answer. Just last night my daughter and I were talking about pigs. I mentioned that people EAT every single part of a pig and it made me kinda sad since some of them are kinda cute. She (lover of animals) said "No, that's good; nothing goes to waist."
NACHO NACHO MAN. I liked that CROOK APSE NOOK little corner.

QuasiMojo 8:18 AM  

I dislike "acned" prose as much as anyone, and the world of mystery writing is plum full of it. Characters seem too often to "race to the door" even though they are in a studio apartment. Or "chortle" more than is refined. Chandler had a style that went well beyond the genre. He wasn't perfect but he rarely showed the effort it took to craft perfect sentences. Personally I think The Long Goodbye just might be the great American novel everyone keeps waiting for. The Great Gatsby is often cited as one. And it is on many levels. But Chandler captured the darker side of the American experiment in a more profound existential way. Gatsby's crooks are unconvincing, and dare I say the romance seemed forced. MacDonald is a case unto himself. A couple of years back I read all of his novels, well the mysteries and suspense ones, in one long bender. At first I was dumbfounded by the clunky prose and hackneyed situations and a preposterous dependency on outlandish coincidence. But after a while I realized these long winded Byzantine tales were fascinating windows into the mind of the author. Like Freud's illuminating case studies. You can't take MacDonald at face value. The plot isn't the point either. He is lucid dreaming on the page. His nightmares are intense yet moving. And like those Hitchcock mind-benders such as Spellbound, Vertigo, or even Psycho they have their own perverse standard of logic in spite of ham fisted plots and an overdose of suspension of disbelief. I too am eager to locate this article Rex (Mike) wrote about Chandler and MacDonald (Millar.) Rex apparently doesn't read our comments so I won't ask him. But if anyone knows the name I might be able to dig it up.

Fun factoid (at least for me): I once sang Aeneas in a concert version of Purcell's opera "Dido and Aeneas."

Joe Dipinto 8:21 AM  

I would have liked the clue at 55a to be "At the big brawl, the folks of Hazzard County..." Still not great, but slightly more sensical than the clue that's there, imo.

A Gimme song.

Doug Garr 8:30 AM  

Note to Rex, who as we all know is nominally obsessed with language, usage, and definitions: The theme answers are not puns. They are aphorisms, or sayings, or even clichés. But they are certainly not puns.

Phil 8:31 AM  

Is it krossword-kosher to have abbr clue but not an abbr answer

WIFE (62a Mrs.)

TJS 8:41 AM  

Well ! A coherent literary discussion from Rex ! And a beautifully written Chandler excerpt to boot.
I enjoyed the hell out of this great Tuesday puzzle. After getting the first themer, I liked trying to sit and parse the two remaining themers off just a few letters, something I think speed solvers don't give themselves the opportunity to enjoy. How someone can carp about this puzzle is just a mystery to me, and it just seems that OFL is on some really forced negative vibe these days. Hope his non-crossword life is happier.

Greater Fall River Committee for Peace & Justice 8:41 AM  

The Song Of The Chattahoochee
by Sidney Lanier

Out of the hills of Habersham,
Down the valleys of Hall,
I hurry AMAIN to reach the plain,
Run the rapid and leap the fall,
Split at the rock and together again,
Accept my bed, or narrow or wide,
And flee from folly on every side
With a lover's pain to attain the plain
Far from the hills of Habersham,
Far from the valleys of Hall....

There are several more verses. When I typed AMAIN the editing program underlined it in red.

Z 8:43 AM  

I’m with @Muse on this theme. Fun reimagining of these phrases.

I’m with Rex on the fill, but not for the same reasons. I toted up 25 PPP answers and clues, putting this just under the 33% bar. What I found most irksome is that it’s the PPP that attempts to bring this puzzle out of the 1500’s and into to 21st century. Do we really need a Waze clue for RTE? Especially crossing UBERS? Or Twitter and Facebook to clue FEEDS? And can we please not use anything insurance for things like GECKOs. I mean, GeeZus those annoying insurance ads are already ubiquitous. Do we really need to reinforce them by including them in the puzzles? Get out damned spots.

@Joaquin - Right? Come for the crossword analysis, stay for the random literary tiff riff.

@Chefwen - I fully expect to find an UMAMI Oreo on my grocer’s shelf.

@Suzie Q - I’m not sure this was a pan.

@amyyanni - HS Latin and possibly that Veni, Vidi, and Vici have all appeared in the puzzle.

Regarding AMAIN - Feels like a term used on Speak Like a Pirate Day.

Speaking of geezus - 11D amused me given @anon2:36 yesterday.

JOHN X 8:44 AM  

“It was a blonde. A blonde to make a bishop kick a hole in a stained-glass window.”

― Raymond Chandler, Farewell, My Lovely

Greater Fall River Committee for Peace & Justice 8:45 AM  

Reading the rest of that poem online, I discover a BRAWL!!

And oft in the hills of Habersham,
And oft in the valleys of Hall,
The white quartz shone, and the smooth brook-stone
Did bar me of passage with friendly BRAWL,
And many a luminous jewel lone
-- Crystals clear or a-cloud with mist,
Ruby, garnet and amethyst --
Made lures with the lights of streaming stone
In the clefts of the hills of Habersham,
In the beds of the valleys of Hall.

JohnG 8:48 AM  

Amain sucked!!! Wow, what a word, has it even been used since 352BC?

Anyway, solid puzzle, hard but easy. But I lost on Amain because I don't know Kim Possible.

Ralph Malph 8:50 AM  

Nerd alert- “P.S. LOL the clue on DIDO (37D: Aeneas' love). Lavinia's gonna be so mad when she hears ...”

Amie Devero 8:57 AM  

Same as JohnG.... Amain? Kim Possible? WTH?
DNF on a crazy easy puzzle because of those two. Grrrr.

Kathy 8:59 AM  

I love those corny pun themes, so no problem there!

I didn’t understand ACNED either, but knew the D was correct, so I over-analyzed it as a rebus D making it acne disorder/ADH disorder. The rebus being loosely tied to the disorderly brawl admittedly tortured stretch for a lone supersized rebus square. Crosswords cause ones’ minds to work in mysterious ways.

I don’t think ATE and GORGE or ARTSY and PRETENTIOUS necessarily equate.

SouthsideJohnny 9:01 AM  

This one seemed to skew Monday-ish easy (or, maybe I am actually improving!). Rex mentioned the fact that there are only three theme answers, which I believe is a net positive. The constructor and editor don’t have to contort themselves (or get way too cutesy) to come up with and stuff in a fourth themer, and the fill is much cleaner without the additional burden of that fourth entry.

As a result, very light on gunk and garbage today. NEE is so crosswordese that it doesn’t even count as foreign anymore, SAO could have had a more Tuesday-friendly clue, but that is a quibble. ACNED and to a lesser extent AMAIN, while technically acceptable, are just symptomatic of the “tolerance of mediocrity” at the Times.

I wonder if the choice of the word “BOUT” instead of “BRAWL” would have given the theme entries more of a boxing connotation (instead of a street-fight feel). Anyway, all-in-all a fun puzzle. We shall see if the pendulum swings back toward a trivia quiz tomorrow.

Nancy 9:09 AM  

Cute, enjoyable, quite smooth with the exception of ACNED, and over too soon.

mathgent 9:09 AM  

Quasi: Enjoyed your comment about "the great American novel." Not Gatsby, IMHO. Maybe GWTW or Grapes of Wrath. I haven't read any Chandler. I just bought The Long Goodbye for my Kindle, 99 cents.

Only bright spot for me was the clue for POISONIVY.

Z 9:09 AM  

Regarding KIM crossing AMAIN - What other vowel seems plausible there? Plus “KIM POSSIBLE?” Say it out loud. I’ll buy that the crossing might have slowed people down, but that “I” is pretty sussable if you use a couple precious nanoseconds to ponder the, uh, KIMpossibilities.

Nancy 9:17 AM  

@mathgent reminds me that I also liked the clue for POISON IVY. I've never heard the saying before, not even at Camp Pinecliffe, where, had they employed that verse, maybe my friend Judy S wouldn't have come down with POISON IVY every other minute.

Karl Grouch 9:19 AM  

I actually enjoyed this one.
I like old expressions and old books.
And I sure like Raymond Chandler.

"You go in through double swing doors. Inside the double doors there is a combination PBX and information desk at which sits one of those ageless women you see around municipal offices everywhere in the world. They were never young and will never be old. They have no beauty, no charm, no style. They don't have to please anybody. They are safe. They are civil without ever quite being polite and intelligent and knowledgeable without any real interest in anything. They are what human beings turn into when they trade life for existence and ambition for security".

Raymond Chandler, The Little Sister

Mary in Greece 9:25 AM  

i'm so glad you object to acned. I've never run into it before and truly it doesn't sound like a real word, even if you have seen it before. Sounds to me as if the author is trying to fit hackneyed into his sentence and gets all tangled up. Even though the puzzle was all filled in, I really went to your blog to find out what you thought of acned and was delighted to find we were on the same page. I love your caustic comments, look forward to them.

Anonymous 9:27 AM  

Re: 11D, SON.

At last the mystery of the Trinity has been solved. At the Council of Ferrara and Florence in the late 1430s, Catholic and Orthodox or Byzantine theologians tried to heal their schism. Everyone knew that the question as two the true Church being headed by a Pope or a Patriarch was nothing compared to the knotty question of the relation of God the Father to the Holy Ghost. After the Council the Byzantines essentially decided it was better to lose their state to the heathen Turks than to compromise on the Trinity. (The Turks took Constantinople in 1453 and most of what is now Greece over the next decade.) Too bad they didn’t have the theologians of the NY Times to explain that the true nature of the Son was as a “go-between” of the Father and the Holy Spirit! Actually the NY Times position would not have helped: had their position won any adherents they would not have healed the Schism but created a third Church.

Anon. i.e. Poggius

Pete 9:31 AM  

@John X - You're a total piker, you know that? One lazy-assed sumbitch. The last time Rex went on about ACNED and quoted the Chandler/McDonald feud someone had the decency to transcribe the whole blond section. You, one lousy sentence from the best 2-3 paragraphs in American Literature.

pabloinnh 9:31 AM  

The only problem I had with AMAIN was, is this going to be AMAIN or APACE? And when EMIT appeared as a cross, it had to be AMAIN. This may be a result of doing years of crosswords, or thinking the first time I saw it--hey, that's a neat word. Those are the kind you don't forget, and I haven't.

I liked the theme just fine, and had no problem with the premise being "at the big brawl". I'm giving the constructor enough artistic license to invent his own situation. Besides, you need it for the themers, which were fun, especially since I got CAMEOUTSWINGING off the C in GECKO, which made me feel all clever and tricksy. BOBBEDANDWEAVED is nearly perfect.

Thanks for the Tuesday fun, EB. Well done you.

Karl Grouch 9:31 AM  

Great quote and so true to your Xplicit persona!

RooMonster 9:32 AM  

Hey All !
Funny puns. Take the puz for what it is, Rex. Jeez.

ACNED, har. That's what you could've changed ACTED to in YesterPuz to get rid of WHITE. It would've gotten you WHINE. But, there was ACNE already in that puz on the opposite side. Maybe rework that section?

But enough about yesterday, the Langoliers are already eating it.

Liked this one. The puns worked well. Kind of a nit with I SAW. Put in VICI, but that got me _VVE___ for 24A. OOPSIE.

Three F's. CROOK NOOK. 4 Double O's, in case @Lewis didn't mention it.


Anonymous 9:53 AM  

@Rex you should watch mlb brawls videos sometime. The dukes are indeed the king's men by the way and they were supposed to do their master's fighting. To me literature and history always went together so it always looks strange when a philologist hates anything pre current decade. And Chandler's plots are just fine for the kind of mystery writing he always did and advocated. They are realistic, but neither plain nor superficial.

Dorothy Biggs 10:06 AM  

So Rex is saying that ACNED is hackneyed? I personally scribbled in "clear"...I think benzoyl peroxide is a treatment for acne, yes? If you have benefitted from it, your face is clear. If you are still acned, you are not yet benefitting. "Someone who would benefit from benzoyl peroxide is..."

I am going to endeavor to somehow use "recherche" in a sentence today. Maybe at the grocery store, maybe at work, maybe on a random Reddit post. But I will do it.

I too wanted "vidi" at all costs. Also "galas" for FETES.

Also also, I think NACHOCHIPS are what people tell other people to buy when they are going to specifically make nachos with them. Tortilla chips are used with salsa and guacamole, nacho chips are topped with cheese and other stuff and put in the oven. I dunno, I'm just making it up...I never say nacho chips.

Gerry Kelly 10:07 AM  

Rex! you've got to chill!! way to serious about little things! he didn't mention the NRA or Nazis!

JC66 10:09 AM  


You can email @Rex and ask him for the link.

rexparker [at] icloud [dot] com

jberg 10:32 AM  

I had some crosses, but didn't need them, for the first and last theme answers -- but in the middle there I really wanted BOBBED AND Wove. I was going to come here and complain about WEAVED, but for some reason I checked a dictionary and found out that I had been wrong all these years -- it's an alternative past tense, but generally used for this particular meaning of weave (one wouldn't say one had weaved a rug, OTOH). So no complaints, although it is sad to contemplate that poor ACNED kid with ADHD.

@Nancy, that 'leaves of three' saying must be regional -- I heard and read it all the time growing up in Wisconsin, especially in the Boy Scouts.

@Pabloinnh -- I've always thought "force AMAIN" but "came on APACE" for speed; I think it's that particular meaning of amain that is archaic. But no matter, I love all those a- words: alee, atop, athwart, apop, arod....

One small question, maybe you Chicago folks can help -- can you really say ELS in the plural like that? You take the EL, just like you take the subway.

I've never really read Chandler either -- guess it's time to start.

QuasiMojo 10:40 AM  

Thanks @ JC66 Will do!

@mathgent it occurred to me after reading that you got the kindle of The Long Goodbye that perhaps my point of view on its merits is due in no small part to its being part of a series of novels, in fact the culmination of them in a way. It would be interesting to read it without having read the others. I hope you enjoy it!

Rita 10:48 AM  

@Karl Grouch
I haven’t read Chandler. If the dismissive imagery you quoted is what folks like about his work, I’d best stay away.

Crimson Devil 11:04 AM  

A few weeks ago I tried AMAIN in NYT Spelling Bee, only to be declined, so I e-mailed curators: same response. And today, voila, it shows up as answer to 2 D in their own crossword! Q.E.D.
Nice Tuesday; enjoyed ARSE.

Birchbark 11:35 AM  

What a Tuesday:

@Quasimojo (8:18) doubles-down on Chandler who, having KO'd Ross MacDonald, now BRAWLs with F. Scott Fitzgerald for the Great-American-Novel title. (I'd vote "Moby Dick" or, less safely but more heartfelt, Thomas Pynchon's Mason & Dixon". Wish @Larry Gilstrap were here to second me on half of that.)

@Anon/Poggius (9:27) nails the mystery of the Trinity, schism, and the history of medieval empires all from the too oft-mumbled placement of SON between Father and Holy Ghost, and nicely done via perceived NYT editorial bias. I smiled.

And @Great Fall River CP&J (8:41, 8:45) finds the poetry in AMAIN and BRAWL.

I'm waiting for my favorite Minneapolis bookstore, Laurie Booksellers, to open so I can see what what old volumes he has for Chandler and MacDonald.

Masked and Anonymous 11:37 AM  

At the big brawl, the right-wing Senators HADNOTHINGLEFT.
At the big brawl, the geologists DROPPEDLIKEAROCK.
At the big brawl, the naturalists TOOKITOUTSIDE.
At the big brawl, stable geniuses PLEDBONESPURS.
Fun theme ... QED. (yo, @Crimson Devil)

Great fillins, too boot. faves included: NACHOCHIP [CHIPS, with a runt-roll to the west]. DOWNGRADE. POISONIVY. MUMBO.
ACNED appears in the Official M&A Help Desk Dictionary. Sooo … ok. and har

staff weeject picks: UPI & URI. Toss in USS … go for a bigger brawl, U all. Honrable mention, to @Muse darlin's PAW.

Thanx for a cool TuesPuz, Mr. Berlin. It was scrappy, yet didn't put up much of a fight.
Primo write-up, @RP. Hang in there. M&A'll hold yer beer.

Masked & Anonym8Us


Sgreennyc 11:44 AM  

Rex doesn't know what he's talking about when he trashes Ross Macdonald. His pretentious bullshit is typical of many of the so-called professors I endured during my school years.

Anoa Bob 11:44 AM  

One of the things I have discovered about filling grids is that often I reach a point where trying to get rid of questionable fill becomes like a game of whack-a-mole. In the process of taking out one undesirable entry, another pops up in its place. And sometimes it means the loss of very nice fill, to boot.

Those who object to AMAIN in the NW can try their hand at a remedy. It's a fairly closed-off corner with only 3s, 4s and 5s, so it should be relatively easy to pencil in other solutions. The only constraints are CAME at 16A and ONE at 22A. Should be lots of possibilities there. The question is will any of those be better than what we have now.

ACNED will be much more challenging to excise. There's the 15-across themer and a couple of long downs, DOWNGRADE and NACHO CHIP in that area to work around. If you try to change anything there, you may decide that ACNED isn't so bad after all.

puzzlehoarder 11:54 AM  

Monday easy Tuesday. Only three seconds longer than yesterday's solve. Some of your more palatable dad humor for a theme.

I'm genuinely surprised by some people's reaction to AMAIN. Either English hasn't been their family all that long or they're just not that well read. It's no coincidence it's right next to GIMME.

ACNED simply means that a person has acne. It's no different than saying something is diseased if it has a disease. ACNED could be used to describe skin or even a face. No polite person would use ACNED to describe someone in general. Unless of course they had it coming.

I skipped a number of clues going through this thing(AMAIN). Did not know we had RTE clued by "Waze". Sounds like another app I've never used.

Anonymous 12:08 PM  

along with some others here, John D. is much more to my liking. a better writer, too.

Anonymous 12:12 PM  

NACHO CHIPS are, like it or not, a true sub-genre of corn/wheat chips. they are impregnated with real/faux NACHO cheese flavour. you find a host of them at your favorite on-line e-tailer.

MJB 1:05 PM  

My husband's favorite Chandler quote (said almost every time I sharpened a knife before cooking)

“There was a desert wind blowing that night. It was one of those hot dry Santa Anas that come down through the mountain passes and curl your hair and make your nerves jump and your skin itch. On nights like that every booze party ends in a fight. Meek little wives feel the edge of the carving knife and study their husbands' necks. Anything can happen. You can even get a full glass of beer at a cocktail lounge.”

Teedmn 1:18 PM  

I kind of liked ACNED. With my recent focus on cryptic puzzles, I thought it could make an interesting cryptic clue of the homonym type (plus add a letter) looking for HACKNEYED as the answer.

Diminish, not long enough, DOWN sized, wrong tense and not exactly matching the clue. DOWNGRADE, finally at 7D. And then my struggle at 25D. 24D was G_VEO__ and try as I might, I couldn't imagine how "vidi" was going to work at 25D. That's two "sheesh" answers in a small area of the grid! But vici.

POISON IVY. I have pored over photos and posters of what POISON IVY looks like and I still fail to recognize it in the wild. If I venture through the border of some wild, wooded spot, I resign myself to a possible run-in with the stuff.

I nearly left TASTe in at 50D but for once I took a few moments to work out why "Mmm" didn't work with that answer - yay, TASTY crossing IDLY.

@LMS, nice first paragraph, avatar and "throw in the towel"!

Eric Berlin, I liked your Tuesday puzzle very much.

Unknown 1:23 PM  

Liked it more than Rex surprise surprise... for Rex if a puzzle isn’t perfect then it’s basically not good...also what’s wrong with a nacho chip? Most of us love ‘me...bobbed and weaved was best of the three themes...why does Rex almost insist a good puz has to have at least four themes? I dunno

john towle 1:25 PM  

And they are very fattening…laden with evil ingredients.

You’re welcome.


old timer 1:29 PM  

I LOVED the puzzle. Clever, well crafted, amusing, and Tuesday Easy.

Except for ACNED, which prompted the best digression in any Rex column I have ever read. I went through a Ross MacDonald phase a few decades ago. And by the time I got to the last of them, I was ready to throw the paperback against the wall. Were ever better plots composed by a worse writer? The books are still buried in the mystery section of my library, but so bad is the taste RMD left in my mouth, I have never picked them up again. Unlike Chandler, or Christie, or (now) Winspear. Maisie Dobbs is the best character ever created. The plots? Not so great, but the elegant writing more than makes up for the defective machinery. I feel the same about all of Dickens except for A Tsle of Two Cities.

When I read about BRAWLs, I am brought back to when I used to take a class in playing the recorder, and how delighted I was to find a "branle" was a musical version of a free fight.

tea73 1:32 PM  

I hate boxing, but loved the theme. The King and Queen putting up their dukes made me chuckle.

Agree 100% that ACNED is a terrible word, but I loved getting Rex's story. I read a little Chandler when I briefly thought I should read some of the classic mysteries - but was reminded that with a few exceptions, I don't actually like mysteries as a genre. Haven't read Ross McDonald at all.

Did not fall into the vidi trap, though I considered it.

I knew the New York Times crossword puzzle believes that ARTSY means pretentious, but not that gorged is the same thing as ATE.

Disliked AMAIN, though I think I knew it from nautical literature.

Richardf8 1:32 PM  

IDLY - I would love to see this clued as an Indian Bread. It would be a real twofer: A clue for "idly” that does not involve inaction and an answer for Indian bread that is nether Nasn nor Roti.

Masked and Anonymous 1:36 PM  

And at the big brawl, the dukes LOOKEDOUTFORTHECOUNT.
Sorry. Couldn't resist steppin back into the frey, to deliver that blow.


Photomatte 1:39 PM  

I did the online version and got everything right but still got the 'error' message. Anyone else? I've checked and rechecked.

Geezer 1:48 PM  

Validate yourself.

bertoray 1:50 PM  

Thought for sure the king and queen were gonna somehow royally crown someone.

chuck w 1:57 PM  

@jberg. I'm from Chicago, and sure, you can pluralize El or L. "the weather was terrible, but the Els were running." @teedmn, poison ivy, of course, has 3 leaves, and the middle stem is usually longer than the others. Of course, there are other plants with 3 leaves, so just go by the adage, "leave them be."

GHarris 2:12 PM  

Anyone else go with peroxide blond before accepting acned?

Anonymous 2:37 PM  

What, no woman count today? Dido, Neve, Maude, Reba, Kim, wife must have met the quota today, or we might have seen 1A as a woman and 20A as 2 women instead of a [gasp] fake man.
I only come here for the unbiased statistics.

sanfranman59 4:47 PM  

FWIW, I think of a 'tortilla CHIP' as something to dip, but a NACHO CHIP (34D: Dippable snack item) as something that's already slathered with dip, cheese and other toppings and, therefore, doesn't require any dipping.

Anonymous 5:25 PM  

Raymond Chandler evokes smokey, scotch ... See. Even I can't write one sentence as well as he.

GILL I. 5:48 PM  

@Teedmn....When my parents shipped me off to "Circle F Due Ranch Camp For Boys and Girls" in Lake Wales, Fl. our sweet counselor made us recite the following:
"Leaves of three, let it be"
"Berries white, run in fright"
"Hairy vine, no friend of mine"
( I had to look it up because I forgot it). No mind. I never knew the difference between the Ivy or the Poison Oak. It grows everywhere. I now know that IVY is hairy and Oak has hairs on both sides. Is there anyone on this earth that hasn't been infected with this virus? I'm actually OK with spiders and snakes, but the ivy/oak poisons makes me itch even now, thinking about it.

Nancy 9:41 PM  

There's been a lot of Chandler quoted on the blog today, and I read all of the passages with much interest. But my vote for the very best line cited here comes from @MJB at 1:05 p.m.:

"Meek little wives feel the edge of the carving knife and study their husband's necks."

What a marvelous line! Why it's enough to make me abandon my lifelong passion for Dame Agatha and read me some Chandler. I must have read some of him back in the day -- I ran the Literary Guild's Mystery Guild for five years, for heaven's sake -- but I don't really remember the Chandler books at all. I only remember Bogie in the films: Bogie who was sometimes Sam Spade and sometimes Philip Marlowe and I never remember which one in which film. They sort of seemed like the same person, to tell the truth.

Always, I've preferred well-plotted closed-room whodunits to hard-boiled detective stories. From what's been quoted here I see that Chandler could write rings around Christie. But Christie gives you fabulous puzzles with ingenious twists. She creates her characters with a few broad strokes and they all have their full two dimensions. That's all I want or require in a mystery. Beautifully wrought prose just slows the reader down in getting to the denouement.

Still, if someone I respect as much as @Quasi thinks that "The Long Goodbye" is The Great American Novel, I'm going to order it from the library, by gum!

Teedmn 11:34 PM  

The couplet I always heard was “Leaflets three, leave them be”. And I look for shininess. And the “thumb” of the mitten on the leaves. And I still fall foul of the stuff. As @Gill I says, it can be a vine. Or a bush. Or just a low-lying plant. I think I've run into them all, but never consciously.

kitshef 9:51 PM  

Great contributions from M&A today. Liked the puzzle for the same reasons as LMS. Not sure why the real housewives of Atlanta are to be admired while Trump is to be reviled for similar behavior.

digitalmarketingservices 12:49 AM  

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Burma Shave 10:44 AM  


WIFE said, “NACHO chest”, and ADDS, “NACHO NOOK.”


spacecraft 11:25 AM  

Still one more female name to further crowd the DOD stage: Lady GAGA! She's BUILT, she gets there first at 1a, she wins!

3d was a...well, you know. I had fun with this one, ACNED and ABREASTOF aside. AP's are bad enough; a nine-letter one is not very TASTY. But there's a ton of great stuff here. Oh, isn't Ann-Margaret's last name OLSEN? Honorable mention, at least! One blemish for writing GIVEOut before OFF. I agree with the easy-medium rating, but not the final score. I'd love to say Mr. Berlin EAGLED this hole, but the ARTSY ACNED and 33d force a DOWNGRADE to birdie.

rainforest 3:20 PM  

Lots to like in this puzzle, and not much to pick nits about. I think ACNED is colourful use of the language.

The theme was just fine, with common phrases used within specific contexts. Not really "punny", but pretty funny in all three. As a bonus the fill was varied and thoughtfully clued.

In all, the puzzle FEEDS my appreciation of constructor skill.

leftcoaster 5:14 PM  

Clever, consistent theme that also tends to write itself in. So pretty easy as well as smooth and good .

The fill also includes some related "brawl" words including APOP, MOUTH off, PELT, and the milder SPAT.

ACNED seemed an awkward answer to its "Benefiting from" the treatment clue.

AMAIN is fine as "full speed" (nautical?), but slowed down the solve a bit with first encounter with KIM on kids' TV .

leftcoaster 5:18 PM  

Oh, thematically, meant to include the Brit that got knocked on his ARSE.

rondo 7:24 PM  

This must be the week for gridspanners. Time will tell.

For anyone who cares, every post yesterday after @Burma Shave was removed by a blog administrator. What did we say?

I was going to go GAGA, but the OLSEN twins win by an extra nose. (NEVE has been and/or will be in town to film a movie, so a yeah baby alert to keep ABREASTOF).

I suppose that poking the bear might help to keep quality up, but I didn't see much here to complain about, especially for a Tues-puz. But nobody ASKED me.

BTW, if anyone saw my SHERRI and LAURIE post on Sunday, I saw LAURIE last night and she buried her father today.

strayling 7:25 PM  

I was going to post something about that south-PAW, but LMS did such a good job that I wont even try.


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