Hungarian horseman / WED 2-19-20 / Reject romantically show interest romantically / Popular game that needs no equipment / Popular video-sharing service / Iron alloy that includes bit of tungsten chromium

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Constructor: Alex Eaton-Salners

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium (my typing was alarmingly poor—I think I typo'd ever entry somehow) (4:11)

THEME: SWIPE LEFT / SWIPE RIGHT (60A: Reject romantically ... or a hint to the starts of the answers to 18- and 35-Across, phonetically / 65A: Show interest romantically ... or a hint to the ends of the answers to 20- and 44-Across, phonetically) — language from the Tinder dating app, where you SWIPE RIGHT on people you're interested in and SWIPE LEFT on those you're not. Here, in the puzzle, "swipe" must be interpreted as a word meaning "take illegally"—you will find words that mean "take illegally" (or sound like they do when you say them aloud) on the "LEFT" or "RIGHT" side of their respective answers

Theme answers:
  • LYFT DRIVER (18A: One competing with Uber) (actually lots of LYFT DRIVERs are also Uber drivers, I think) (here, "lift" means "swipe" ... and LYFT is at *front* of its answer, so it's a SWIPE LEFT)
  • BLUE STEEL (20A: Iron alloy that includes a bit of tungsten and chromium) (here, "steal" means "swipe" ... and STEEL is at the *back* of its answer, so it's a SWIPE RIGHT)
  • KNICK KNACKS (35A: Tchotchkes) ("nick" means "swipe"... SWIPE LEFT)
  • KEYSTONE KOP (44A: Incompetent figure of old slapstick) ("cop" means "swipe"... SWIPE RIGHT)
Word of the Day: HUSSAR (4D: Hungarian horseman) —
hussar (/həˈzɑːr/ hə-ZAR/hʊˈzɑːr/) (PolishhuzarHungarianhuszárSerbian LatinhusarSerbian Cyrillicхусар) was a member of a class of light cavalry, originating in Central Europeduring the 15th and 16th centuries. The title and distinctive dress of these horsemen were subsequently widely adopted by light cavalry regiments in European armies in the late 17th and early 18th centuries.
A number of armored or ceremonial mounted units in modern armies retain the designation of hussars.
• • •

Well that was a chore to explain. And also a slight chore to figure out in the first place. Didn't take me long, but I did have to think about it, and when I figured it out, well, GROAN, for sure (43A: Response to a computer crash). I'm having trouble getting past the repetition of SWIPE, for starters. I get that in order for the theme to work at all (probably), you've got to repeat the word, but it's just such an ugly solution, somehow. Might've been nice to indicate that the revealers were app-related phrases, as I probably struggled more with the front end of -PERIGHT than I did anywhere else in the grid besides HUSSAR (which I confused with HESSIAN, and which I haven't seen in a puzzle since god knows when). The ostentatious app-iness of this whole puzzle (see also TIKTOK) gives it a very strong "Hello, fellow youths!" feel, as in "Hello, fellow youths! Did you see that KEYSTONE KOPs one-reeler at the Rialto last night!? ROFL, amirite!? Hey, who are your favorite EARPS? Mine's Virgil, duh! Do you like 'KOJAK?' 'Who loves ya, baby?' Ha ha Yeah, he's cool. Oh, hang on, BRB, gotta go TOT up the SODAS for our field trip to Six Flags. I mistotted last time and we DRANK 'em all before we even left the parking lot: epic FAIL! Hey, you guys wanna make an OPERA TIKTOK?! I mean RAP! RAP is what I listen to for sure. Anyway, think about it ..." Etc. This theme is just ... a lot. Extra. Trying real hard. I see the wordplay and the theme density and all of it, and I am sort of nodding at it appreciatively, but it wasn't really for me. Two of the answers get their homonyms from fanciful made-up words (Lyft, Kop). The fill, especially around where the revealers meet (i.e. the south), is really rough. ITSYITISIIIISPY!?!? Yeesh. Oh, wow, I just realized that this puzzle is 16 wide. It really can't follow any of the rules, can it? What a rebel... I can't believe this puzzle doesn't have a hit show on Nickelodeon already.

Five things:
  • 39D: Kiss amorously (SNOG) — I get that they use this word a lot in Harry Potter, but it still needs some indicator that it's foreign slang, imho.
  • 50D: Harry Potter's Quidditch position (SEEKER) — this puzzle has definitely read all the Harry Potter books, multiple times. Or, he's seen all the movies. Probably the latter.
  • 28A: Volunteer for another tour (REUP) — this was the final answer on the first Sunday puzzle I ever successfully completed (in 1991), so even though it is semi-garbage fill, I can't bring myself to hate it the way it needs to be hated.
  • 61A: Legislature V.I.P. (WHIP) — probably the hardest single answer for me, weirdly. It's down in that thicket where the revealers overlap and before I knew what the revealers were doing, it was rough, and even after I had the "W" from SWIPE and and the "P" from I SPY I still couldn't see what was going on. W--P ... my brain wanted only WIMP.
  • 47A: ___ pony (POLO) — yes, very "relatable."
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


mmorgan 6:06 AM  

Puzzle was fine, theme was incomprehensible but I get it now, ugh. I guess it’s clever. Didn’t make for a fun solve, though. One more week in Australia and then back to regular NYT/Rex time, which warrants a mini-yay, even though being here is a gas.

OffTheGrid 6:42 AM  

After some frustration I ended up quite liking the puzz. Two revealers, four theme answers. Neat. SNOG is common enough (and it IS English) to not need a designation as foreign. I entered MASH initially (kissing amorously) but no go. Then MASH shows up later. What fun! I liked the ":15 number" clue. I had to play whack-a-vowel to get the BANTU/HUSSAR crossing. RE UP reminds me of a departed friend. When we had our pledge drive at the UU church he would say "I upped my pledge. Up yours.

Hungry Mother 6:43 AM  

Very quick, but didn’t know what was being swiped. Maybe some dating app? Maybe I don’t care. Next!

Mac 6:45 AM  

I dunno, guys, I thought it was amusing! I liked ETRE clued unostentatiously, and I did like the freshness of some of the fill.

Lewis 6:48 AM  

Clever wordplay in the theme. The "phonetically" angle pushed this puzzle into Wednesday territory. If the answers simply had synonyms for "steal", say, PINCH HITTER, this would have been a Monday/Tuesday theme, I believe. The SWIPE LEFT and SWIPE RIGHT was a lot more fun than if AES instead used a SIDE SWIPE approach.

I didn't need the theme for my solve -- did anyone, I wonder? I enjoyed sussing it out, though, afterward, where it became a little bonus mini-poser. It hit me with a pop of pleasure.

And, with apologies in advance for saying this, that's my takeaway.

Petri 6:50 AM  

Wow, no. Hated this one and was grimacing the whole time. Who is this puzzle for? A tinder theme, with PEROT*, KOJAK, and KEYSTONE KOP? LYFT and Tchotchkes? Rex is fully right, this puzzle's theme is so try-hard wannabe young and it does. not. work. hard pass for me.

(* 30 year old here, living squarely in the tinder era, and Perot was before my time)

albatross shell 7:10 AM  

Rex Rex Rex. Very funny. I know some here wanted more humor from you, and whether you read us or nit, you have been delivering the wit.

I am not so sure that mixing young and aged clues is always a bad thing, but it did seem a bit strained today. Not sure why. Definitely thought the M T puzzes were better.
Have to hunt for good clues: Drop a line?, :15 NUMBER.

Fun answers: INCUSTODY, PERP.
Would have liked COOKIEJAR but even without crosses, it was a gimmie. Low pizazz factor might be the meh factor. Hope some of your comments here might make me appreciate something more.

Did like KNICKKNACKS and BLUESTEEL. Thought the former was going to be a pastry. And did learn about Mr. TAYE.

kitshef 7:20 AM  

Brutally hard. About once a year, we get a Wednesday like this. The entire NW was tough, and the theme baffled me no end. Had to read Rex to find out what SWIPE LEFT and SWIPE RIGHT mean. Between those, BRB, LYFT, ROFL, and TIKTOK, this puzzle was written for the POLO Pony, smartphone and OPERA crowd.

I do feel like I should have gotten HUSSAR faster than I did, though. There was a great Hungarian restaurant in London called the Gay Hussar that had a delicious wild cherry soup, served chilled. It was one of my top two(?) London restaurants.

vorpalhead 7:21 AM  

If you’re a septuagenarian (as I am) “rices” becomes “dices” because “BRB” is NOT in the lexicon.

Suzie Q 7:32 AM  

Before I figured out the theme (sorta) I thought the letter K was going to be part of it.
A theme based on the lingo of an on-line dating app? It might as well be in Bantu for all it meant to me.

Kevin O'Connor 7:32 AM  

Anybody else having trouble with NYT not recognizing a correctly filled in grid?

George 7:37 AM  

I learned the word SNOG from watching AbFab in the 1990's.

Allison 7:41 AM  

The clue for 33A slightly annoys me, since almost no introductory physics course will deal with atoms. They'll deal with simple motion, kinematics, circular motion, momentum, work and energy, etc., but when I took my introductory physics course, the word "atom" may well not have existed.

CanaDON 7:50 AM  

Lots of Ks, no? And once texting phrases supplant spoken ones , puzzles are going to look like alphabet soup .

Anonymous 8:15 AM  

Can someone explain the III answer to the clue :15?

QuasiMojo 8:16 AM  

So far this has been the worst week for puzzles at the NYT that I can recall. I haven't even been able to come up with any comments. Today's is no exception. This took me 7 minutes to fill in without any pleasure. In fact I found the theme not only ludicrous but tacky. Not too long ago I called the Times to cancel my online puzzle subscription. They asked me why. I said because it isn't any good anymore. They offered me a 50% discount. I'm embarrassed to say I took it, primarily so I can still use the archive. And the Acrostic (also not as good as before) and the occasional Patrick Berry contribution. It occurred to me that if they were so fast to offer the STEEP discount perhaps I was not the only one complaining.

Anonymous 8:17 AM  

For some reason, this was just ridiculously easy for me--and I'm pretty bad at this compared to most of y'all. I ignored the theme once I read the clues about the hints to the ends of blah blah blah. Too much work.

But I did think it must have something to do with the letter K. Don't think I've ever see so many of one consonant in a puzzle. Especially with so many words with multiple Ks.

Patrick O'Connor 8:21 AM  

I like this puzzle fine, and had no problem enjoying the revealer. As for 47A, my family will never forget the Honeymooners scene which Ralph, Trixie, and Norton are rehearsing a play about a rich man and his string of poloponies:

G. Weissman 8:29 AM  

A GROAN is not a response to a computer crash. That response cannot be printed here. A groan is a response to something annoying but not important enough to elicit real anger or stress. A GROAN is my response to this puzzle. SWIPE LEFT and ... next!

Johnny Mic 8:31 AM  

I think the :15 is indicating minutes in a time, and the III is where the minute hand would be for 15 minutes. Assuming you've got Roman numerals on your clock.

gregg 8:42 AM  

On a grandfather clock 15 minutes past the hour the big hand points to III.

GILL I. 8:45 AM  

I'm trying to find the rights words for this puzzle. It is a puzzle, right? So I'm puzzled. Can someone explain to me in American English what was this all about? Alfie?
I kinda understood the LYFT and the STEEL but you lost me at KNICK and KOP. TIK TOK sounds like the name of a clown in a Stephen King novel. There is such a thing as a DEWAR flask? I only know the scotch. At least we have KOJAK and the EARPS to keep me in my generation loop.
I've been rejected romantically and I've had a few show me romantic interest but I'll be damned if the handsome men in my life ever swiped me right or left.
@Quasi pretty much said it for me. May I just add that I liked COOKIE JAR. I never understood why it would be embarrassing to have your hand caught in one. I always dug around for the fattest one I could find.

newspaperguy 8:51 AM  

“It wasn’t for me,” aka “It’s in the New York Times and Will Shortz is the editor.”

Nancy 9:18 AM  

I came here to find out what on earth was going on with the theme answers -- which I didn't understand in the least. Now that I've found out what the ridiculously convoluted and weird explanation is, I see why I didn't get it in the first place. But it doesn't matter -- I solved the puzzle as a themeless and it provided plenty of challenge for a Wednesday.

The NW corner was a bear for me -- a sheet of pure white -- and I had to go RIGHT, then down, then LEFT and then back up to that corner to have any crosses at all. I was initially thinking of OMIT or EDIT or DELE, rather than FISH, for 1A. (Good clue). For 1D, I was thinking of DIE YOUNG rather than FAIL. I didn't know BRB (damn those text abbrevs.) nor HUSSAR nor BLUE STEEL. I never thought of the laconic and understated STEEP for 3D -- it didn't sound nearly DEADLY or EXPERT or ARE YOU OUT OF YOUR EVERLOVIN' MIND enough. (None of those fit, so no writeovers.)

By ignoring the theme, I enjoyed this puzzle a lot -- an approach I highly recommend to everyone.

Anonymous 9:31 AM  

not crazy about blue steel. W-Cr alloys are common enough, but "blue" not so much.
It's a bit difficult, but if you want to know about the 3500 or so types of steel, Stahlsclussel is the place to go.

Petsounds 9:33 AM  

@Petri: Perot was a major political figure in the US, so it really doesn't matter that he was "before [your] time." So were both Roosevelts. So was Thurgood Marshall. So was Lincoln. So get the idea. You're still expected to be familiar with these people, even if they're not of your generation.

I loved the :15 clue, even though--or maybe because--I had to burn up some neurons trying to figure it out. SNOG is definitely a British-ism and should have been clued as such. I have no idea about the Tinder meanings; I've heard people refer to SWIPE LEFT and SWIPE RIGHT--just never paid attention. Still, my solve came in well under my Wednesday average, and I had a good time with this one.

jberg 10:03 AM  

After seeing both KNICKKNACKS and KEYSTONE KOP in theme-answer positions, it was a big disappointment that those Ks had nothing to do with the theme--even though a theme of double-K phrases would not have been nearly as good as this one. So I did like it, once I figured it out.

Several minor gripes, though -- as @Allison noted, the ATOM is a subject in more advanced physics courses. I don't think this has changed, although I hear that many biology and chemistry courses start with atoms now.

I don't think HUSSARs are particularly Hungarian, but I guess that's OK. I was afraid for awhile that it was going to be magyAR, which would have been awful.

Isn't pony just another name for KEG, or a particular size of keg? I've heard people talk about getting a pony, but never heard the phrase Pony KEG. I think he was trying to hard to have two reflecting pony clues.

@Gill, I don't know about Steven King, but TIK-TOK actually is a character in several of the 30+ sequels to "The Wizard of Oz."

By the way, @vorpalhead, are you new here? If so, welcome! Is that the name you always use, or did you just make it up because "snicker snack" is reminiscent of KNICKKNACK? Anyuway, I'm 76 and I have a ricer (my son gave it to me because he thought my mashed potatoes were too lumpy). I've never seen BRB either, but it makes more sense (Be Right Back!) than BdB would.

@Rex and some others are complaining that the puzzle tries to seem youthy, but has all these references to old-timey things like the Keystone Kops and Kojak. But if it didn't, Rex at least would be complaining (as he often has) that it was skewed to a particular generation.

Z 10:03 AM  

"I am sort of nodding at it appreciatively, but it wasn't really for me." Yep.

@OffTheGrid - No, it's British, so a foreign indicator is appropriate.

@vorpalhead - I like your nom de blog.

@Allison - My thought exactly. I seem to remember a lot (well - remember the topics) about gravity and inertia and friction. I think an ATOM is more likely to come up in a Chemistry 101 class.

@Anon 8:15 - This has been answered but the time you posted is a perfect example. The :15 of 8:15 would be III on a grandfather clock.

@Quasimojo - Besides, you'd miss us.

@G. Weissman - ROFL - Yep. Been there and I most definitely used words I would never have used in front of my Mom.

@Petsounds - "major political figure?" He's right there with Garfield's vice president and the guy who lost to Fillmore.

One last puzzle note - Lots of people hate sport mascot answers and that's certainly understandable. At least the Baltimore RAVENs have a name a Lit major might infer.

pmdm 10:07 AM  

A theme that makes you think before you get it is quite OK with me if it is not Monday or Tuesday. In fact, it increases the liklihood of an AHA moment, so I think I like it very much.

Interesting that the editing team rejected an entry referring to the call letters of the TV station that produces NOVA. Even as they allow much (for me) esoteric modern slang. Kind of tells me here their heads are at. [See XWordInfo for my source.]

I believe a puzzle like this one should entertain. (Don't ask me why I feel this way.) Sadly, this one did not entertain me. Perhaps it could have used more KEYSTONE KOP humor (which I am a sucker for). So while I would give the puzzle a pass, for me I would not say in flying colors.

Amelia 10:15 AM  


I'm with you on the slightly dumbing down of the ACROSTIC. Although every once in a while, it rises to previous levels. It might be that its constructors need a break. I think they've been doing it for decades. The Puns and Anagrams got a new owner and it's much better. Might I recommend that you look for the acrostic in the Wall Street Journal. It's just different, so you might find it better. I think they do it once a month. You can find it online, I think. I like it. I like all their puzzles, in fact.

As for this puzzle, it was fine. Clever in parts, not so clever in parts. Insane theme. Ignored. I didn't get the whole swiping clues. (I do know about swipe left and right, because I'm alive at this point in history.) But fortunately, we have Rex to explain things, and he's right. If it takes that long to explain the theme, it ain't good.

Amelia's complaint of the day: When you write something at the end of the day, no one sees it.


Newboy 10:17 AM  

After 55 years of marriage, we’re a bit sketchy on all APPS—especially dating ones. Toss in TIKTOK and RAP trivia & it raises this solve beyond Rex’s “easy.” Still KEYSTONE KOP, PEROT & KOJAK came easily to mind, so I guess it all balances. The solve today had me bouncing about the grid as though I was playing Pong, perhaps the most recent video game to which I can claim competence. Interesting certainly, so I SWIPE RIGHT on this sweetheart.

Z 10:18 AM  

@jberg - It's been a few decades, but the two options available in my college days were a half barrel or a quarter barrel. A quarter barrel was a PONY keg. I live in one of the densest craft brewer regions in the world and now I see sixth barrels are a common thing. Let me add that my knowledge of keg sizes is in no way related to my memory of physics.

@pmdm - Huh. I swear I've seen WGBH in a NYTX puzzle before. Maybe somebody with access to the database can confirm or debunk.

pabloinnh 10:18 AM  

Well, I knew the SWIPERIGHT and SWIPELEFT stuff, but only second hand, as my wife has the only smart phone in our family, not that she's on dating apps. At least that I know of. All the homonyms escaped me, and finding out induced a big, oh. OK.

My favorite answer has to be BLUESTEEL, as I used to describe myself as 165 lbs. of whistling blue steel, which I stole from somewhere. Not true then or now, although I actually did own a '68 steel blue Camaro, the most fun car I ever owned.

OK for a Wed., although it went too fast and the theme escaped me. Thanks anyway AE-S.

What? 10:22 AM  

Finished with no errors but still don’t understand the theme. I don’t care.

Z 10:30 AM  

@Amelia - not true.

@Albatross Shell - AND! AND! - I said exactly what I was going to do before I did it. I do feel bad for snookering @JC66, but everyone else just had me chortling throughout the day. @pmdm also emailed me to let me know he was on to me. I must admit you are giving me too much credit - I started off just to prove that Rex's statement was wrong (and it did make me twitch for a second before I saw how it worked). The rest just sort of evolved from there.

Pablo 10:35 AM  

I'm going to disagree with Rex and say I actually liked this one. When I see AES, I assume it will be a slog, but his latest have been far less obscure and less about constructing feats. I appreciate a solvable puzzle, even if the theme is weak.

That being said, the theme is weak. Very weak. KEYSTONEKOP, really? The only part of that you're using for the theme is KOP. The rest is just... anything. SWIPELEFT/RIGHT is a fine place to start, but the rest is just forced and awkward. Homophones of words for swipe. Why? It's just not clever enough to answer that question on it's own, and I'd bet most solvers did not use the theme in this solve.

My other gripe is TOT. This is, 99% of the time, an abbreviation. Yes it is also a standalone word, but when is the last time you heard someone say they "totted up the votes" or anything of that nature. When TOT means sum, it's usually an abbreviation for total. I had SUM in that spot and UTES for 27D and getting out of that bind made for a tough solve.

Highlights included COOKIEJAR, PGRATING, and STARLESS.

Weak theme, but I appreciate when you can go through a puzzle after the fact and only identify a few truly flawed or obscure clues/answers. Well constructed as a puzzle, maybe bit weak in the theme.

Whatsername 10:35 AM  

With due respect to the constructor for the effort of creating this for my solving pleasure, the end result was more of a frustration than a joy. I finished without the theme and then stared at the answers wondering what the theme was supposed to be. I appreciate having to work at it but goodness, this was a struggle. So much explaining. I get all the revealers except for KNICK / NICK? for which I could find no online definition meaning to “take illegally.“ I did find an urban dictionary with NICK as a noun, as in “someone who would steal.” Just curious, can anyone explain that one?

I know who KOJAK and the EARPS are, but I’ve never used LYFT or TICKTOCK or Tinder for that matter. That’s probably because I occasionally suffer from seniorITIS, but I am always grateful to learn new things which keep me in step with the times. Crosswords often do that but today I felt more like I was tripping over the convoluted theme, and it wasn’t because I was ROFL.

Anonymous 10:36 AM  

How would a lit major or anyone else infer Raven for the mascot of the Baltimore NFL team?
Poe wrote the Raven over the course of a decade. But it was finished and published when he loved in Mrs. Brennan's farmhouse in the upper west side of Manhattan. Saratoga Springs, NY also likes to claim a role but's it unclear if he really worked on it at Barhytes tavern or not.
In any event, Charm city aint in the picture.

Carola 10:38 AM  

I give it a grudging "ingenious," the grudging part because I think the reveal should have included "and positionally" (cumbersome, I know, but it would cover the full phrases, SWIPE LEFT and SWIPE RIGHT). Very neat idea, though, and skillful wrangling of homonyms and double meanings.

FISH x HUSSAR: Memory Lane Alert. Sometime in the 1980s on a January-school-break family trip to London, we had lunch at a Hungarian restaurant in Soho I'd been reading about - The Gay HUSSAR, warm and cozy on a frigid day, glowing with red velvet furnishings, and serving a poached salmon dish that was so perfect I've never forgotten it.

David 10:41 AM  

I thought I might be suffering a made-up affliction called "senioritis" but I've looked it up and see it's a made up affliction to excuse boorish behavior of HS students. Okay then, it wasn't that. But I was thinking things like, "I guess anybody who thinks snogging is amorous would also think an app is somehow romantic." "What the heck have kop, steel, lyft, and knick got to do with romance?" Senior, by no itis.

I still have my plastic square slide rule and its leatherette case on which, emblazoned in gold lettering, it says, "Physics is phun." Yeah. No to atoms being studied in Physics 101. Possibly not much thought of in astrophysics, but certainly studied in particle physics.

Yes, it's a Dewar Flask, not for whiskey.

I liked a lot of the fill and most of the long answers were quick for me, but the swipe thing just didn't work, possibly because I've been married for 41 years and met my love the old fashioned way. You know... in person? Other than swipe I did have sum before tot.

Quite a mix of old and new, which I don't find bothersome, I'm kind of intrigued by it and despite the difficulties understanding had some fun.

Yes, Rex. Many Uber drivers also drive for Lyft. They pretty much have to as Uber gets away with the largest tax dodge in history by ignoring their drivers (except to help them get sub-prime loans to pay for their cars) and Lyft treats theirs with a modicum of care. If you've never read "Debt: The First Five Thousand Years" you should. Then you'll understand there's nothing new about either bitcoin or the gig economy other than their reliance on new technology. They've existed in other forms before, and they always end badly. Humans just don't like to learn much, it's one of our less endearing traits.

TJS 10:43 AM  

I'm with Rex, etal, on this one. Some really good fill, and I have learned that I have to work around most of the internet clue/answers, but to have a reveal that is such an "insider" reference is annoying. Not the worst, not the best.Hate the clumsiness of the "ekes" clue, btw.
Those who have no knowledge of Mr. Perot might want to learn a bit about his candidacy. The last third-party attempt to attract any real attention. We could be wishing for a renewed attempt to establish a legitimate third party in the not-too-distant future.
@Z, again we differ. My knowledge of keg sizes is directly related to my memory of everything.

Pablo 10:44 AM  

Another comment. ATOMs do not come up in Physics 101. That's kinematics and maybe some simple fluid dynamics, buoyancy, etc... but phys 101 is 99% of the time very much focused on macro scale things. Chem 101 will talk about atomic structure, mostly in relation to electrons/orbitals, and later physics courses will talk about the nucleus.

I've always felt the NYTXW needed to at least run the science clues by someone who has thought about science in the past 30 years. The clues usually come off like someone trying desperately to remember their college chemistry lab. Someone in that office must know something about science. Find them and clean up the puzzles. They've been annoyingly inaccurate as of late.

Mr. Cheese 10:47 AM  

Cast my vote for :15? A great clue!

RooMonster 10:48 AM  

Hey All !
Took Rex puzsplaining for me to get what the heck the theme was. Aha, homonyms of SWIPE on the LEFT and RIGHT of themers. Pretty neat, now that I see it. But why is grid 16 wide? (Which I noticed today, YAY ME!) Is it to line up the overlapping Revealers? Cause if it was 15 wide, you'd end up with SWIP over IGHT, and clean fill becomes nigh impossible. It would also leave ___PT___, since the three-square black block would be moved over one column. And you'd have a different block pattern. My theory of why Alex went 16 wide, because there's really no other reason.

Anyway, my nit-picking aside, I did like this puz. I can't remember if there's been another two-Revealer puz I've seen. I'm sure there's been, someone find one? Also thought about a K theme, it just so happened that two of the themers needed them.

People under 50 are gonna say, "Who the hell is KOJAK?" Har. Like Dan Tanna of Vegas. I liked how he drove right into his living room. I'm about to knock down my wall from the garage to do the same thing! See also: Barney Miller, Welcome Back Kotter, WKRP in Cincinnati, Original Magnum and Hawaii-Five 0, BJ and The Bear, The Fall Guy, The Love Boat, Fantasy Island, etc. Feel free to add others.

Got a big chuckle out of @BFB's post from Yesterday, saying he/she has "a hard time understanding RooMonster from time to time". Har! Sometimes I find it hard to understand myself! But, your nom de blog has an F, so, awesome! Speaking of F's, four today. Nice.


Gio 11:17 AM  

@whatshername Nick is British and not really slang as it is the main word they use for To Steal=To Nick. It is slang but used by everyone, all the time

Masked and Anonymous 11:19 AM  

Well, yep … sorta like Kids Day, at the NYTPuz. OK by m&e (occasionally) … some of the other NYTPuzs slant (swipe?) more toward my older-than-snot wheelhouse, sooo … fair's fair.

Got all confused, thinkin LYFT was supposed to be a sound-alike for LEFT, while tryin to figure out the theme. Since I'm sort of a understand-theme-early-in-solvequest fan, I lost untold precious nanoseconds. At least the SWIPE LEFT/RIGHT notion sounded real vaguely familiar, so I had a slight fightin chance.

staff weeject pick: BRB. Be Right Back, I assume. Can't think of anything else that comes close to fittin "Just a sec". But ain't that R then kinda a no-no, since "Right" is already in a puz themer, at SWEEPRIGHT? Just sayin. Not askin for a refund.

Thanx for the challenge, Mr. E-S. But yikes … someone stole my nanoseconds! [TIKTOK TAYE ache.]

Masked & Anonymo3Us


dadnoa 11:24 AM  

+1 for this entire reply. Had to read the NYT explanation as I didn’t get the theme at all. Have read it AND Rex’s much simpler explanation. Wow, that was a long way to get to a theme.....and I still don’t totally understand why it’s a theme......

Pete 11:27 AM  

Agree with @Anon 9:31 re BLUE STEEL. Tungsten/Chromium alloys are called Tungsten/Chromium alloys. I see that BLUE STEEL is used in the context of Japanese Knives, made from blanks produced by one specific source. The Tungsten/Chromium alloy made by this company is wrapped in blue paper, hence it is called BLUE STEEL. Other than that, almost no BLUE STEEL, anywhere. Sometimes people refer to spring steel of a certain, well, springiness, as BLUE STEEL but that refers to the temperature at which it was annealed, not its composition. A specific (made in Japan) Japanese knife alloy is a pretty tenuous and specific context to use as a clue where there are other, way better, ways to clue it. Say the movie "BLUE STEEL". That was only 30 years ago so it may be too current for this puzzle, but what the hey.

Physics 101 is Newton, nothing but good old Sir Isaac. No ATOMs involved.

Dan 11:43 AM  

Not only is the atom a very fundamental part of Chemistry 101. (Not at all a part of Physics 101.) But how many times is ATNO in the NYTXW? Atomic number. As in, the periodic table. On the wall of every Chemistry classroom, everywhere.

Anonymous 11:57 AM  

It seems telling that no conservatives on this forum seem to have any objection to the inclusion of Eric Holder in the puzzle. I have no doubt that if the current AG were an answer in the puzzle Rex and the rest of the outrage mob would be up in arms. Definitely speaks to the maturity level of the two sides. Fire away. LOL.

Swagomatic 11:58 AM  

I had a very long,though ultimately fruitful, search for a typo. I had SPOT and COKE, instead of SPAT and CAKE. I never really caught on to the homophone thingy. This was an okay puzzle, and if you subtract the twelve minutes of error searching, I did okay against my average.

oisk17 11:59 AM  

Never heard of a pony keg, but I Googled, and it really is a "thing." 7.75 gallons of beer. Finished this one, but had no idea what the "theme" meant. That was an annoyance. The clue for atoms, as others have noted, should have been chemistry 101. Still, some good cluing, only one unfamiliar pop culture reference ( Taye, which has appeared often enough for me to know it), and a delightful absence of acronyms, made this a very nice puzzle for me. My compliments should balance my swipes.

jb129 12:01 PM  

If I don't enjoy something I'm not gonna do it. So I will skip this constructor's puzzles from now on.

Melrose 12:03 PM  

Nope. I shouldn't need to know about Tinder to be able to solve a NYT puzzle. I finished it, but never understood the theme.

Tom R 12:05 PM  

I am 75 and long married. Tinder is a totally irrelevant thing to me, so swipe left/swipe right is meaningless. And that is true of a lot of modern slang or trivia. I just want a puzzle I struggle with some because of clever clues for universally known things, or even obscure things which are guessable. Yeah, I get it - I am probably in the fringe age range for this group, but a lot of folks my age like crosswords and few of us are like Rex with such a wide-ranging knowledge of everything. I admire him for that, BTW, but I am selfishly interested in my puzzle experience and I just don't appreciate today's theme.

Frantic Sloth 12:09 PM  

Hand up for completing the puzzle while ignoring the theme. Once finished, I reviewed the theme until my head hurt and then I just read Rex to get the point. Mediocrity-heavy, bordering on downright annoying. Blech.

Gio 12:22 PM  

It should have been that SWIPE LEFT had synonyms for rejection like YOUUGLY and BUTTAFACE. SWIPE RIGHT should have had synonyms for attraction like YOUGOTAHOTASS and TWERKITBITCH.

Whatsername 12:23 PM  

@Anonymous at 11:17 - Thank you for the explanation. If it’s British I understand why I couldn’t find a definition anywhere. Still, used by everyone all the time? Apparently not in my neck of the woods.

QuasiMojo 12:31 PM  

@Amelia, I cut my teeth on the acrostics back in the day by Thomas H. Middleton. I loved those. Lately I've noticed a certain tendency to overuse ellipses in the quotes, and a habit of shortening authors names (using initials) and occasionally playing around with the titles of the works themselves. I also think they are making some of the answers theme-related to the subject of the quote which is kind of cool but it makes the puzzle much easier to do.

albatross shell 12:34 PM  

My ninth grade physics had atoms. Took chem in college. Hard to believe my HS physics had more than physics 101. But maybe. Tough fair teacher Mrs. Ainsworth. Really liked science. Don't ask about Bio teacher.

@Z That was going to be embarrassing if I was wrong.
I like a joke, but posting stuff you do not believe should be obvious or rare. It seemed obvious to me, maybe cause I did not look at yesterday's comments until I did today's puzzle, so did not get sucked in a step at a time. Also you may be stubborn on occasion, but seldom dense.

And the theme answers were good today. But for the rest I'll stick with my original post.

The NYT constructor's notes explains precisely and in detail the nonstandard size. And also has many interesting theme answers as the puzzle evolved. Maybe the first iteration was better?

LenFuego 12:34 PM  

No one else had trouble with the NW corner? BANTU and HUSSAR are not in my wheelhouse, BLUESTEEL is barely even a thing as clued, RICES for “Reduces to bits” and TOT for “Add (up)” I have never heard used before (I wanted RAZES and TAB), and throw in the very crosswordy clue of “Mast” for SPAR (would there have been something wrong with a boxing clue?), and it all TOTs to my hardest Wednesday corner in a long time. (You see how bad TOT is?)

JC66 12:39 PM  

For me, doing the acrostic on line rather than on paper is much easier because a letter entered in one place (i.e. the answer) automatically appears in the other (i.e. the grid/quote).

GILL I. 12:41 PM  

OK....NOW I get it. It's a dating app on Tinder and LYFT/STEEL/KNICK and KOP are all forms of swiping taking without permission yada yada yada. I will now say COOL BEANS.
I looked at the app and boy am I glad I met my husband the good old fashion way.... On a flight to London on British Air. Met some other cool dudes in bars but they never lasted.
I know a lot of people do the online stuff and I've seen some videos of first date situations....Some are funny as hell - especially if your first impression is so awful. One guy excused himself from the table to visit the Loo (after he ordered a lobster dinner) and never came back. The list goes on.
I'm sooooo glad I'm not into the dating scene anymore. Even though it was fun back in the day, I'm so damn picky no one would want me.....

Anonymous 12:42 PM  

He'll be hurt. (or she? Alex?)

Astrologer 12:45 PM  

Just to have a nit-there is no such thing as a starless night. They're always up there.

jae 12:51 PM  

Easy. It took a bit of post-solve staring at the theme answers to grok what was going on. Fun, pretty smooth and clever, liked it.

JC66 12:52 PM  


I may be the dense one, but I just reread yesterday's thread re: PP and still don't see that you were joking, but I'll take you at your word.

Ti OverNamed 12:54 PM  

Crosswords have made me loathe the word EKE, which is a shame, since it's a fine word.

webwinger 12:55 PM  

Found this harder than usual for Wednesday but quite doable despite the numerous youthy entries. There was definitely also considerable fodder for us olds. A mix like this should appeal to everyone, right? Of course not! It will have everyone complaining...

I met my wife online about 15 years ago, but that was well before Tinder. Somehow l figured out that the SWIPE business must relate to a dating app, and thought the specific theme concept and execution were pretty nifty. Agree that PEROT has enough historic significance to be fair game for younger solvers—certainly more than KOJAK. (BTW, a friend of mine, political science professor, wrote a cool book on the 1992 election called Three’s a Crowd.)

Anyone else wonder about est in the clue for 5A crossing EST at 8D? Maybe it’s part of the conspiracy around repetitive entries I hinted at on Monday. Counting the two SWIPEs today, three of the last four puzzles now have had duplication of words and/or significant parts of words in the grid.

Anonymous 1:07 PM  


Why on Earth would you take Z at his word? I read yesterday's comments, and I don't believe him for a second. Why would I? It beggars belief. I'm beginning to think he may be ill.

Gio 1:10 PM  

@whatshername I meant it's used by Brits all the time
They use NICK more often than they use the word Steal.

Anonymous 1:25 PM  

last time I looked, BLUE STEEL was the result of immersion surface coating, not alloying. and, last time I checked, IN CUSTODY happens when your arrested and not yet behind bars, wherever you may be. behind bars means convicted and sentenced - we'll see how Roger fairs.

Gio 1:30 PM  

@Gill I My millenial sons do Tinder. It would have been useful to me ten years back but they had Craigslist personals No Strings Attached section which shamefully I resorted to on occasion. But yeah it's not very romantic these days. Was it better in the 50s necking on Lovers Hill in the back seat them getting a reputation?

CDilly52 1:43 PM  

Agreed, @anonymous 8:15. I spent more time trying to figure that out than solving the puzzle and it was my only conclusion.

Ben 2:06 PM  

Very tiresome review. So the criticism is.. what, exactly?. That the puzzle includes a mix of old and new fill?

Teedmn 2:13 PM  

I agree with much of what Rex said about the theme - I needed it explained to me after I got tired of trying to read the revealer clues. But it is an AE-S puzzle, and those often leave me feeling this way so it's mostly just me (and my lack of any experience with Tinder, eww).

I was stymied in the far NW - even with BANTU crossing STEEP and HUSSAR, I had to leave for greener pastures (not knowing BRB and having Btw there obviously didn't help.)

Having moved down to the TOT OTOE area, I was looking at 2D ending in TODY. I kept insisting to myself that there were NO words that ended in TODY and what was I doing wrong? CUSTODY, har. I love it when something in the brain clicks.

III clued as ":15 number" hurts my head. KOJAK reminds me of my friend's cat, named after his orange and white Colby-Jack coloring. Does anyone still have a purse that SNAPs?

Hugh 2:46 PM  

I'm just chiming in to say this is my favorite Rex review ever! :o)

Doug Kalish 3:54 PM  

Agreed. Atoms are a subject for Chem 101.

Anonymous 4:02 PM  

@David, I had to take Uber to and from work for several weeks after I broke my knee and couldn't bend my leg. I asked ever single Uber driver I had how they felt about Uber and about California's new law forcing the company to recognize them as employees. I also asked them why there were driving for Uber.

I was shocked. They all liked driving for Uber (and Lyft, which most of them did) and resented California's new law. Every one of them. They all had different reasons for driving but most of it was for some extra income.

After that, the Sacramento newspaper ran a front page article on the resentment by musicians and Uber drivers over the new state law.

Adam Lipkin 4:21 PM  

Mild annoyance: LYFT DRIVERs are not Uber competitors; that would just be LYFT. I mean, it wasn't like it was hard to get, but the two things aren't comparable.

tea73 4:38 PM  

I solved the puzzle, but couldn't figure out what the theme was. Just a little too convoluted for me!

My Physics 1 course ended up with a unit introducing us to things atomic. I was lost and asked the TA for help. His help started with, "You remember this from Chem 5...". Well no I did not. Chemistry was not a prerequisite for this course and as I was pre-architecture not pre-med, I had not taken it. I was told, it was too complicated to explain if I didn't have the background. Thanks a lot.

Whatsername 4:39 PM  

@Anonymous at 1:10 - thank you for the clarification. I don’t feel so uninformed now. LOL.

Joaquin 4:48 PM  

I have never used a dating app (been married over 50 years) but still don't understand how someone alive in 2020 is not familiar with the "swipe right/swipe left" concept. It's referenced everywhere.

Gio 5:43 PM  

@the Atom Insisters: I just asked my son, a current Physics 101 teacher. He said Atoms are taught in chemistry, not physics. Another poor clue.

GILL I. 5:50 PM  

@Joaquin, amigo. I have an iPhone and a MacBook Air. Yeah, I've also been married (34+years) and yet I have never ever heard of the swipe syndrome . Please tell me where I was supposed to become aware of this app.? I still swear by the old "meet in a bar, lock eyes, exchange phone numbers, meet up in a nice restaurant, (pay your portion), go home in a taxi and then meet up again in Disneyland." It worked for me.

Kathy 6:13 PM  

I finally had to give up—the northwest refused to yield. The rest was easy. I grokked the swipe layer of the theme, but not the “synonyms for stealing” layer, but that didn’t get in the way of my solving most of the puzzle.

I’m married almost fifty years, have never used a dating app, but I’ve read enough about them to know about the swiping yea or nay. I met hubby the old fashioned way, in a bar in Venice CA.

Oddly, in Cincinnati they call a deli a pony keg; I haven’t heard this colloquialism anywhere else.

Agree, Rex is inconsistent in his application of criticism of puzzles that skew old vs young. Which makes me suspect he just wants to be perceived as young and cool. This particular puzzle seemed to have something for everyone from Tinder to Kojak.

Flinque 6:14 PM  


Flinque 6:14 PM  

You read my mind

Amelia 8:01 PM  


Just wanted you to know that I was waiting for someone to do that. I knew what they wanted, I knew it was kinda wrong, I knew someone here would say something. (Starless)


xyz 9:07 PM  

Did this late in the day, I don't think there is much good in this puzzle.

Randy (Boulder) 9:17 PM  


nick and cop are slang for swipe, as is lift. Steal is, well, not slang for swipe.

Anonymous 9:45 PM  

Finished in about 30 minutes, then spent another 5 trying to figure out what the hell the theme answers had to do with SWIPE LEFT/SWIPE RIGHT. I had to come here to find out and was highly disappointed when I read Rex's explanation. I was convinced that the gimmick was going to involve some kind of actual movement with the words and doing so would correspond with the adjacent answers in same way, but no. Not getting the theme completely took away from the satisfaction that normally comes with a perfect solve.

There was some decent fill with the mid-to-long answers, but the cluing was pretty blah all around. Way too many abbreviations. I swear I've seen SPAT and SPAR 50 times in the last month.

Nice clue for PG RATING. There was another clue that stood out as pretty clever when I was solving, but I can't remember what it was now. Cool to see HUSSAR in a puzzle.

Unknown 9:51 AM  

Spar for mast?

thefogman 11:32 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Burma Shave 2:10 PM  


he DRANK nearly a KEG last night.
A RARE SEEKER with NAE subtlety,


spacecraft 2:12 PM  

I finished the puzzle all right, but as to the full theme explanation--that was beyond me. I found nothing whatever in KNICKKNACKS germane to "SWIPE." Apparently the word "nick" can mean to take unlawfully; I certainly have never heard of anything like that. The whole thing is unwieldy at best.

PGRATING, like most ^$#&() letter-added entries, was very hard to root out, but other than that the solve wasn't too far from midweek difficulty. There was some stuff to elicit a smile, such as INCUSTODY crossing KEYSTONEKOP (I am a native of the Keystone State). DOD HANA Mandiklova graces the grid. Par.

rainforest 2:36 PM  

A mixture of old and new pop culture, within the themers and in the 2 revealers, as well as throughout the puzzle, peppered with a few witty clues and interesting fill, made this puzzle fun to do. Also fun was parsing the revealers. When you enjoy solving a puzzle that was clearly cleverly constructed, you've got a winner.

Diana, LIW 3:53 PM  

A "sit down twice to do it" puzzle - I like that on a Wed. Even tho I'm such a luddite I don't have a "cell" phone (just an old Trac one for emergencies), I still have heard of Swiping - thus, I got it.

Now, back to the news. Sigh.

Diana, Waiting

leftcoaster 4:08 PM  

Since I know nothing of the Tinder dating app, the SWIPEs LEFT and RIGHT made little or no sense as clued by the revealers. At least not to me. (Nor did KNICK as one of the synonyms.)

Nonetheless plowed on dutifully, filling in all of the themers, but the two revealers' clues and uses of the SWIPES were baffling, even after finishing them off (with one cheat).

Tinder, indeed.

rondo 4:48 PM  

Did this as though it was themeless. Nick? Never used it. Cop? The only thing I ever KOPped was a feel. Didn’t realize it was STEELing.

In the 4 corners ITIS like Vegas where I’ve OFT BET.

No real complaint, but the theme was kinda obtuse.

BTW, Starting at 11:59 CST Friday the governor of MN has ordered shelter-in-place. At least 2 weeks. Don't know what that's gonna do as far as getting a newspaper.

Diana, LIW 5:41 PM  

@rONDO - WE have had shelter in place for weeks, and we get the paper every day. Lady Di

strayling 7:27 PM  

A KOP can send someone to the NICK, which is UK slang for placing them IN CUSTODY.

Did I mention that I'm easily amused?

  © Free Blogger Templates Columnus by 2008

Back to TOP