Dwarf friend of Bilbo in Hobbit / WED 4-29-20 / Box office smash in slang / Rolling textual coverage of event / Imparter of flavor to Cabernet sauvignon wines

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Constructor: Joe DiPietro

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging (high-4s)

THEME: HALF OFF (24D: Discounted 50% ... or a hint to the answers to the starred clues) — themers are two identical four-letter words, but you only have to put in one of them (thus, HALF of the answer is OFF (the grid)):

Theme answers:
  • WELL (5A: *"Whaddya know ...")
  • BANG (16A: *In rapid succession, in slang)
  • CRAY (18A: *Bonkers)
  • CHIN (35A: *"Cheers!")
  • POOH (37A: *Dismiss lightly)
  • SING (59A: *Storied New York prison)
  • CHOP (62A: *"On the double!")
  • HEAR (67A: *"Amen to that!")
Word of the Day: "CHIN-CHIN!" (35A) —
Chin chin is a fried snack in NigeriaWest Africa.
It is similar to the Scandinavian snack klenat, a crunchy, donut-like baked or fried dough of wheat flour, and other customary baking items. Chin chin may contain cowpeas. Many people bake it with ground nutmeg for flavor. 
The dough is usually kneaded and cut into small one-inch (or so) squares, about a quarter of an inch thick, before frying. (wikipedia)
• • •

This one never really got off the ground. The theme just doesn't have enough juice. Feels like something I've seen a million times before—perhaps not with this revealer, but with this same whole "when doubled" concept. Super easy to pick up the theme because of the asterisks on the themers. Got BANG no problem ... but the next themer I encountered was CHIN, which ... wow. I have no idea what that is. Have literally never heard anyone say "CHIN CHIN!" in my life, to mean anything, let alone "Cheers!" This is the only thing that happens in my head when I look at this alleged expression:

Because CHIN (seriously, what?) crosses DAH (ugh, the lowest of all fill is the Morse Code fille), which crosses a down-the-marquee "Hobbit" name (BALIN), I felt like I was in real trouble here. I honestly was not (and am never) sure if DAH was the right term. I want it to be DOT and DASH, but ... no, DAH. I probably would've swapped out COLIN for BALIN, but then I never would've had CHIN in my puzzle, either? Well, one thing I know is that this section was yucky for me. Slightly surprised to find out that my answers were correct, in the end.

I guess CRAY (CRAY) has a slightly modern feel to it, and maybe LIVEBLOG too, but for every one of those there were three ye olden things like AD EXEC and PLATEN and yeesh, BOFF??? Not even BOFFO, just BOFF? Oh, and what the hell is GLOOPS? (33A: Thick, liquidy servings). That would be very rough in the singular; in the plural, it's nonsense. I thought the Swiss used Euros, which shows you how poorly traveled I am (I'm currently using the Lockdown as an excuse, which should be good for a while ... but the truth is I haven't been to Europe since I was 18) (note: the Brits will be happy to know that I'm not counting them as "Europe"). A DAY AGO feels very roll-your-own; not a strong stand-aloner. TRUTV is a real thing, but "Sister channel of HBO..." is big news to me. Does anyone call a driver a ONE WOOD? Don't answer, as I don't care about golf and never will. But I think I've only ever heard that club called a "driver." I got thrown by SLO-PITCH (36D: Softball designation), which doesn't have the (to me, expected) "W" and so ends up in the grid looking like SLOP ITCH, which ... sounds contagious. "Stay back! I've got the SLOP ITCH!" Was Kipling very quotable, because that is one weak-ass quote re: WORDS (5D: "The most powerful drug used by mankind": Rudyard Kipling). I literally can't see anyone nodding their head knowing and rubbing their chin (chin) in response to that banal a quip. IT'S SAD! See you tomorrow.
    Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

    [Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


    Frantic Sloth 6:03 AM  

    I really enjoyed this puzzle - theme and fill. It took a good Wednesday amount of effort and I liked it.
    The following nits are a dramatic recreation and, therefore, a bit over-the-top:

    GLOOPS? Autocorrect didn't like it and neither did I. Then again, who cares about autocorrect's opinions?

    CHIN (CHIN)? Never heard of it. Except with the three pigs' chinny.

    I really detest those first/last/really any letter of a word misdirects (SOFTG). They're cheesy and smack of laziness . (Or, should I say, the Deadly Sin That Daren't Speak Its Name?)

    And now a word from the "Double O" contingent:
    GALOOT ONEWOOD GOOF GLOOPS POOH (Big oaf's tee shot error slops sh*t)

    SEENIN. Is the qualifier "out of the rain" really necessary? I guess it's a tad "fancier" than just "escorted from outside", but not by much. I think it's all wet. Yes. I said it.

    The only thing more ridiculous than these nits is pointing them out in the first place.

    And so, my work here is done.

    You're welcome. Please hold your applause. No, please. I mean it. Stop.

    Frantic Sloth 6:11 AM  

    Rex is cranky today. Go know. But SLOP ITCH is priceless. It does exist, by the way - a side effect of mainlining Lysol.

    Loren Muse Smith 6:13 AM  

    I liked this, liked the reveal even though HALF OFF doesn’t necessitate the fact that the half you’re taking off is identical to the half left in the grid. No biggie. Still fun to hunt down all the themers. SING SING feels like the outlier in that the phrase’s origin isn’t the kind of English reduplication that the other ones are. Rex, @Frantic Sloth – CHIN CHIN went right in. I’ve heard it more than once for sure. (I just looked. Apparently it’s Italian for to your health.)

    Aah. Reduplication (redundant word, right?) Tough Wednesday! I would almost argue that this one Thursdayed, right? I kept looking up at the date to make sure it was Wednesday. I think I got the conceit with CRAY. English has tons of reduplicative phrases, but the smallest list (maybe) is the one where the entire word repeats, as in today’s themers. Hush-hush, bling-bling, goody goody. Other phrases repeat parts: knick-knack, hodgepodge, lovey-dovey, mumbo-jumbo, zig-zag. . .

    Lots of languages use reduplication as morphological inflections:

    rumah - house
    rumahrumah – houses

    tiki – melon
    tikitiki - big melon

    loba – speak
    lobaloba – run your mouth

    bela – lie
    belabela – lie 18,000 times in 1170 days.

    I like our English reduplication that’s more semantic – “contrastive focus” – to say the phrase again so that the listener understands what you meant was a little bigger in scope.

    A: Did you tell her?
    B: Yeah, I told her it started a 10. We’re good.
    A: No. Did you TELL HER tell her?
    B: Oh that. No. I didn’t have the heart. (To tell her she was being indicted.)

    Rex - I keep seeing SLOP ITCH in the grid, too. It’s so startling. To steal from Amy Sedaris – say this to a friend still on a crowded elevator after you’ve gotten off and the doors are closing:

    See ya later, man. Sure hope your nasty SLOP ITCH clears up soon.

    Joe – the sly “tartare” in TUNA’s clue was not missed by me. Hah. The cray cray dum-dum pooh-poohed ordering mahi-mahi tartare chop chop. [See also “bigwig” and “boo-boo” in the clues]

    @Frantic Sloth - couldn't disagree more with you on SOFTG. Loves those clues/entries.

    Maybe it’s just me, but “nether regions” feels more anatomical. A euphemism. Like the front-row kid in my daughter’s kindergarten class who unfortunately discovered the delights of his nether regions during a Christmas concert. Wink wink.

    PhilM 6:26 AM  

    Did Joe DiPietro really mean a Nigerian snack for Chin Chin? Surely it's the British version of cheers? See https://www.lexico.com/definition/chin-chin.

    Frantic Sloth 6:30 AM  

    @LMS I'm thinking that kid's "extracurricular activities" in his pants was due to a severe case of the SLOP ITCH.

    Wasn't Tom Tom an early brand of GPS? I always wondered what the piper's son had to do with directioneering.

    BarbieBarbie 6:43 AM  

    One nit: BOFF clued as slang for “box office smash, in slang” is like “rents” clued as “parents, in slang.” You need to use words in the clue that are not also the answer. Edit Fail.

    I like a puzzle with a Thursday feel but Wednesday difficulty. Thanks Joe!
    PS why no song lyrics?

    Moien 6:53 AM  

    Chin chin is how you say cheers in Italy and sometimes (rarely) in France. It is pronounced “chin chin” but actually spelled “cin cin” in Italian and “tchin tchin” in French.

    beaglelover 6:54 AM  

    I think "chin chin" is an Italian saying when clinking glasses.

    Lewis 6:57 AM  

    Regarding that postal creed, they should add "...nor viruses", and bless these workers for tromping on as we insulate ourselves. So grateful to you all. You deliver in more ways than one.

    This was so quirky -- with BOFF, GLOOPS, CHIN CHIN -- it charmed me. Even PLATEN. That one I had to pull out of a brain room with a No Need To Know Anymore sign.

    There was a musical undertone (AMPS, MARACA, TRAP as in set, and even a backward TUBA), appealing answers (JUNKET, JADED, SPIN CYCLE, LIVE BLOG), double letters (O's and L's) clumped in the northern regions and combine that with the third-most-populous double letter (E), and you get a most appropriate OLE!

    The middle west coast, where I didn't know CHIN CHIN or BALIN gave me a dragon to slay, and I live for those dragons. So... quirky and charming, a terrific time. Thank you, JD!

    Joaquin 6:57 AM  

    What a coincidence! Just yesterday my wife and I raised GLOOPS in a toast and declared "CHIN chin" in *honor* of a certain orange GALOOT from HELL. Unfortunately, the gloop made me BOFF.

    Rug Crazy 7:02 AM  

    The only thing good about this puzzle is SPINCYCLE. Gloops....a variation of Glops....really?

    Conrad 7:06 AM  

    My parents, first and second generation Italians, said "chin-chin" every evening at the start of their cocktail hour. I don't know how they spelled it but they pronounced it "cheen-cheen" and they told me it was onomatopoetic, the sound of the clink of glasses when you weren't close enough to touch them together.

    Hungry Mother 7:10 AM  

    Very easy, helped along by the theme. No Wednesday crunch, but no complaint. Local beaches opening tomorrow morning, but I found a Clorox variety with a high SPF, so I’m set.

    mathgent 7:10 AM  

    Mr. DiPietro owns a bar in Chelsea. Cool job and, based on having done some of his puzzles, a cool guy.

    I learned a few things, like CRAYcray being a synonym for bonkers. Is that a regionalism? I haven’t heard it out here. Also TRUTV.
    And it’s fun to say POOHpooh and GALOOT. I also like to say BOFFo. I guess that BOFF is a variant.

    Doing one of Mr. DiPietro’s puzzles makes me feel like I’m hanging out with him over a beer or two. A good time.

    Smitty 7:22 AM  

    I'm NY Italian but never heard "chin chin" until the Godfather part 2 - In any case, I imagined it had a weird spelling like Cinzano...

    kitshef 7:23 AM  

    The ABC Murders (John Malkovich playing Hercule Poirot) uses CHIN CHIN a lot.

    What spoilt this puzzle for me was the non-theme stuff, BOFF, GLOOPS, BALIN (?????), and the bizarre clue for SEEN IN.

    I see my planned SLOP ITCH joke would be duplicative, which would be appropriate today but it was not as funny as ones already posted.

    @mathgent 7:10 - CRAY-cray is a modern way of saying "b*tsh*t crazy". Crazy squared.

    Anonymous 7:41 AM  

    I agree with most of Rex’s observations, especially galoops??!! But I hear chin chin in Italian households all the time.

    GILL I. 7:42 AM  

    Ha Ha...I thought this was cute. I wish Joe had found a way to sneak in TUK TUK. When in Bangkok, you must take one. Don't do it at night, they will take you the long way home to your hotel and charge you mucho bucks....
    I've said CHIN CHIN a lot in my life. I also say things like "Down the hatch" or "bottoms up." In Spain it's: Arriba, abajo, al centro, adentro." You hear that one a lot in Pamplona after you run with the bulls.
    I'm going to scoot over with @Frantic and the SOFTG misdirect. It got me good the first time I saw it....it might've been a P Berry intro, now it irritates a tad.
    I LOVE the word GLOOPS - especially when talking about hair products. Speaking of...My gorgeous hairdresser - who wears a ring in her nose - has a BFF that does LEG WAXING on the side. Every six months I'd go for a snip snip and Leila would do the yanking job. She's very good and only uses fresh wax. In Spain they use to re-use the wax and you'd see all these black hairs stuck in the gloop. Here you'd get sued..... Anyway, I used my husbands razor to shave the legs, thinking it had to be a fresh, sharp one. It wasn't. After I finished, my legs looked like I had stepped in a briar patch. The things I miss; the things we've so taken for granted....like being able to find yeast...(for bread, of course)...no SLOP ITCH involved in the making.
    Must go find my TIARA.

    OffTheGrid 7:48 AM  

    Tuesday easy but thought it was lame. My first response to the theme was "WHY?" Just come up with good clues for SING, CRAY, etc. Very little fun here.

    Joe 7:51 AM  

    "Chin chin" is common in Buenos Aires. Went there for a wedding and my wife and I still toast with it... Agree on "Boff" which I've only heard as a term for a sex activity. "Gloops," just no...

    WhatDoing 7:54 AM  

    CHIN CHIN is unforgivable. Having it cross DAH is downright irresponsible. Ruined the entire experience. Blech!

    Geezer 8:09 AM  

    I'm not sure I want to be that guy today but "CHOP CHOP" wanders into that area of language racism.

    NPR: Is the term “chop chop” racist?
    posted by Randall

    The term chop chop generally means to hurry up, but it’s usually directed towards someone you might consider a subordinate or even subservient.

    NPR traced the origins of the term and found it has an Asian root. It comes from the Cantonese word kap which means to make haste.

    It has also been directed toward Asians.

    NPR writes:

    The utterance “chop-chop” would also become closely associated with class over time, and was almost always said by someone powerful to someone “below.” A good example of this can be found in William C. Hunter’s , where he notes that “[w]hen a coolie is sent on an errand requiring haste, he is told to go ‘chop-chop.’ “

    The term, however, is not exclusively used towards Asians. It’s also used in the military and by Koreans during the war as a slang term for food.

    Taffy-Kun 8:12 AM  

    “Chin Chin” used to be very common in UK. Archaic now, but well known

    pabloinnh 8:13 AM  

    OFL saying he doesn't travel much and has never heard CHIN CHIN is one of those "half off" situations.

    PLATEN went in instantly but it's something I don't blame younger folks for not knowing about, see also "manual typewriter" and "dial telephone", among many others.

    BANGBANG only makes me think of baseball-"That was a BANG BANG play at first!". It's always at first base, and replays have stolen all the drama. I played SLOPITCH softball for more than thirty years. We usually resolved close plays without violent arguments. Usually.

    I liked this one a lot and would have liked it more if I could have seen all the asterisks, but that's my fault. WELLWELL makes a lot more sense for the clue than WELL. And too many dwarfs involved to come up with BALIN right away.

    Thanks for the fun, JD. Nice crunchy Wednesday.

    JonB3 8:24 AM  

    Re: Double word usage. I'm reminded of an old joke, which I shall use artistic license to adapt to today's theme:

    A linguistics professor was lecturing to his class one day. "In English," he said, "a double negative forms a positive. In some languages though, such as Russian, a double negative is still a negative.

    However," he pointed out, "there is no language wherein a double positive can form a negative."

    A voice from the back of the room piped up, "Yeah, yeah."

    Teedmn 8:30 AM  

    It was a "me too", SO am I, SO DO I, kind of Wednesday today. I felt like someone had rewired my brain. Just so slo.

    CHIN-CHIN sounds more "Three Little Pigs" than a greeting. Crossing the ever-mysterious (to me) Morse Code with the BALIN or BoLIN or whatever your name is dwarf right next to it, that little western section was the one most likely to trap me but I guessed correctly.

    If anyone is coming at me with a serving that GLOOPS, I think I'll be saying, "No thanks".

    Joe DiPietro, thanks for the JUNKET today. I had to work for my solve, no CHOP-CHOP here.

    Suzie Q 8:36 AM  

    Yesterday we had hot wax and today leg waxing.
    Like @Loren, nether regions had me thinking "below the equator".
    The clue for jaded reminded me of the recent Bin There, Dump That.
    Gloops pretty much ruined this one for me.
    LOTR fan that I am I just could not remember Balin. Gimli, yes.
    Cray cray is fingernails on the blackboard to me.
    I liked learning about chin and chop.
    Mixed feelings today.

    mmorgan 8:36 AM  

    I hear CHIN CHIN very frequently, but I never hear GLOOPS or ONE WOOD.

    QuasiMojo 8:39 AM  

    Rex, you really need to get out more. Well maybe not right now. But when we all can. Chin Chin is still said in the company I keep and I use it often. Altho I don't drink Cinzano anymore, nor anything else stronger than a half-caf.

    I got stuck in the NW corner due to LINE and HELL. Finally "get a line on" popped into my head and whether or not it means "odds" I went for it and BANG it was done.

    The funny thing for me is that I use CRAY CRAY a lot. But that was the last themer I figured out.

    Cin Cin to this puzzle!

    xyz 9:13 AM  

    It's not CHIN CHIN it's CIN-CIN, it's Italian and may come from the Half-half Vermouth (Red and White) Cinzano. May be Italy's most common toast. Doesn't have the American penetration Ciao has. Rex doesn't know it so it doesn't exist? Right. Interesting to see the previous explanations looking it up and getting wrong answer on the internet. It's CIN-CIN and it's a real thing.

    Uninteresting puzzle, really dull fill, poor, not cunning cluing, the worst kind.

    Whatsername 9:16 AM  

    Liked this cutesy theme and - dare I say - RP’s cutesy review. Well maybe not cutesy but entertaining and even humorous compared to the sometimes angry rants. I agree this has been done before, but I wouldn’t go so far as to call it stale as there was plenty to keep it interesting. I didn’t know BOFF and then CHINCHIN was a big huh?? moment. Sounds more like a place where you might eat CHOP Suey than something to say when raising a toast. But overall I found it to be an enjoyable solve which is the general idea of this whole business, so I’d call it a successful effort. Thank you Joe.

    If Clare had written the review today she might have pointed out that no one under 30 ever says PLATEN. More than likely most people under 30 have never seen one either. A few years ago, I had a young - under 30 - trainee helping me dispose of some office equipment that had been in storage. Among the antiquated computers and big box monitors, there was a typewriter which was probably 10 years old but still worked fine. I was stunned when he asked me what it was and when I told him, he said he had heard of typewriters but he’d never actually seen one. Made me feel about as ancient as Laverne & Shirley back when they were on ABC, not to be confused with TRUTV.

    LEGWAXING is a form of torture which involves GLOOPS of hot liquid on skin. It’s not for the faint of heart.

    Birchbark 9:24 AM  

    Re OMEN:

    "This is the excellent foppery of the world, that, when we are sick in fortune, (often the surfeits of our own behavior) we make guilty of our disasters the sun, moon, and stars; as if we were villains on necessity; fools, by heavenly compulsion; knaves, thieves, and treacherous, by spherical predominance; drunkards, liars, and adulterers, by an inforc'd obedience of planetary influence; and all that we are evil in, by a divine thrusting on."

    -- Edgar, in "King Lear," Act I, Scene 2 (or 8, depending on the edition).

    From Samuel Johnson's two-page annotation to this passage: "In Shakespear's best plays, besides the services that arise from the subject, there is generally some peculiar prevailing folly, principally ridiculed, that runs thro' the whole play. ... [I]n this play of "Lear," the dotages of judicial astrology are severely ridiculed. ... So blasphemous a delusion ..., it became the honesty of our poet to expose. But it was a tender point, and required managing. For this impious juggle had in his time a kind of religious reverence paid to it."

    Johnson blamed the influence of the Italians in his note tracing the lineage of "judicial astrology." (See also, CHIN CHIN.)

    Brit Solves NYT 9:27 AM  

    Finally an advantage to be a British solver, then. Clueless on three-letter acronyms for government agencies, former senators, baseball stars and the like but... CHIN CHIN is extremely common here and everyone British will know what it means. So that was one of not so many write-ins in a fairly tough Wednesday.

    Never heard of BALIN, LOTT was unknown here as was TRUTV, fortunately just about got them from the crosses.

    Z 9:35 AM  

    SLOP ITCH was definitely this morning’s HAH Moment. Does make me wonder where that W went, especially since it is mostly always written with a hyphen.

    Golf (twice), one of the thirteen dwarfs in The Hobbit, SO DO I, a Morse Code clue/answer. I was barely out of the NW and it was like I was doing a Greatest Crossword Bitch Hits puzzle. I’m mildly surprised we didn’t see Ono singing an ARIA on the Oise accompanied by Eno. I haven’t checked yet, but my sense is that DiPietro’s puzzles are usually less GLOOPy.

    Hand up for the HBO TRUTV sister thing completely throwing me. Hand up for disliking all TV ending entries, ABCTV, NBCTV, TBSTV, ugh ugh ugh to all of them. Ugh Ugh. Duplication. Ugh Ugh Ugh. Reduplication? And also I am pleased to learn that “contrastive focus” isn’t a setting on my camera I don’t know how to use.

    @Geezer - It’s one of those things that when I see it in an old movie it highlights the casual racism of earlier eras. I think like lots of people, the fact that 30% of our society is racist was a bit shocking, but those old movies really drive home that they have always been with us.

    Pamela 9:36 AM  

    I didn’t love this puzzle either, but really, Rex! Never heard Chin chin? Have you ever gone out for drinks? Maybe not so recently, but back in the day? Wow! You poor, deprived thing, you!

    I thought I’d have a dnf at 32A until the theme revealed itself with SING. The last letters of Downs 61 and 52 were complete mysteries up to then. BANG took a while, all I could think of was Badabing, which of course didn’t fit. But once in Sopranoville there’s no way out, is there.

    And GLOOPS. What is that?! If someone served that to me, I’d have to leave the table. Overall, I found it tough, and not so much fun.

    Now to find out what you all said...

    thfenn 9:38 AM  

    PLATEN was easy and TRUTV was hard, so that pretty much nails my frame of reference. Didn't know CHIN CHIN but obviously should have, which is one reason I enjoy crossword puzzles. Definitely associate the nether region with a bodily area down below, that I don't also associate with HELL. Thought surrounding SOFTG with GLOOP, GALOOT, and GOOF was either inelegant or interesting, not sure which now. @Gill I, thanks for bringing up tuktuks, lots of fun memories there, tho mine would be from Dhaka.

    MR. Cheese 9:39 AM  

    Commenters discussion of SLOP ITCH has made my day. You folks are mucho entertaining. Cin Cin

    Anonymous 9:43 AM  

    Would it have been too much to ask for to have 32 across, wasted on "the friend of a hobbit," to have been clued "Guitarist/songwriter Jefferson Airplane Founder Marty"?


    johnk 9:49 AM  

    Chin chin is an oft-used expression uttered in many places when participating in a toast. It is onomatopoeia for the sound of glasses clinking together. It could be spelled "ching ching". I've heard and used it in Brazil, Italy, France, Miami and New York, among others. Gloop and boff, OTOH...

    RooMonster 9:49 AM  

    Hey All !
    Just heard on the radio news two people were rushed to the emergency room for ingesting cleaning products. These are voters...

    Anyway, liked the puz. The Revealer was BOFF with three F's in it! Nine themers total (counting Revealer), albeit eight were four letters (technically eight letters ala the theme.) Add me to the group who hadn't heard CHIN CHIN as anything, and I have a 100% Italian uncle. But the others were known. CRAY CRAY is a fun one.

    That center section has a bunch of O's, F's, T's, L's and G's.

    A few writeovers, ditto-SODOI, stay-CALL, cAn-HAT, bIeGE-TINGE.

    Agree with Rex on the tough West center spot, with the CHIN, BALIN, DAH mash-up. But otherwise not too tough for a WedsPuz.

    Four F's, again with no social distancing. 😋

    Barbara S. 9:50 AM  

    I didn't blog yesterday, but I do have a submission for yesterday's theme (if anyone can remember that far back):

    CLUE: Couple secretly indulges in 60s dance craze.

    (Yeah, I know, but maybe I deserve a few points for trying.)

    31A Resident of a hobby farm: ANT. Are there hobby ant farms? Do people farm ants as a hobby? I'm missing something here.

    32A I had "Gloin" before BALIN. In fact a lot of those dwarves have 5-letter names, especially if you spell them wrong.

    16A and 67A It used to be that members of the Canadian House of Commons (federal parliament) used to bang-bang on their desks and shout, "Hear Hear!" to express agreement with something that had just been said. This was, of course, derived from Westminster, the Mother of all Parliaments in the U.K. I remember when that behavior was outlawed in Canada and members started to show support by clapping. I thought it rendered debate rather colorless and also it did absolutely nothing to improve decorum overall, which was the supposed purpose of the change.

    5D I was blown away by that Kipling quotation. And this from a *writer.* Not talking about words as tools or forces or tactics, but drugs! Wow.
    He said:

    "Words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind. Not only do words infect, egotize, narcotize and paralyze, but they enter into and color the minutest cells of the brain..." He said this in 1923. Hitler had taken over leadership of the Nazi Party in 1921 and I don't know if he was talking about that. How many people outside of Germany knew what Hitler was up to as early as 1923? But it gives one a shiver to place that quotation beside the events and attitudes of today. It's a quotation that I suspect will never be old.

    Here's a story about the "nether regions" (be warned):
    RE: Chin-chin (which I also understood was spelled cin-cin).
    A Japanese businessman's reaction to an Italian colleague proposing a toast:
    "I had not heard this particular toast before. In Japanese the word "chin" means penis. So when he said chin-chin to me, I thought at first he was insulting me. Then I thought about it, and decided if this man wants to toast my penis, who am I to argue? So I accepted the toast gladly."
    Oooh, the pitfalls of international relations.

    @Whatsername 9:16
    And then there's bikini waxing. OWIE!

    @BarbieBarbie 6:43 Song lyrics!

    Bang Bang
    He shot me down
    Bang Bang
    I hit the ground
    Bang Bang
    That awful sound
    Bang Bang
    My baby shot me down.

    David 9:51 AM  

    The few golfers I've known have used 1 irons for longest distance, not 1 woods, but they do exist.

    cin cin? Guess Rex has never watched James Bond movies

    apparently glop is gloop outside the US, who knew?

    Contrary to the clue, the Amish most certainly use power. They even use cell phones.

    soft and hard letters are the bane of my puzzle existence

    I still use my IBM Selectric to write letters to my representatives, they rarely even see emails

    This puzzle was a real clunker for me. Smiled at some of the answers but man it was slow going

    Anonymous 9:51 AM  

    Stop embarrassing yourself. chin chin is in ever cheesy mob movie ever made. And one wood is pretty common too. No need to throw shade on golf. we get it; you're a prol and golf is for the baddies at the country club. Grow up

    PhillySolver 9:56 AM  

    I spend a quarter of the year in France and our most common toast is chin chin, which represents the sound of our glasses clinking. It is as common as cheers in England. The write up missed the mark on this one.

    bauskern 9:57 AM  

    The origin of the term “Cray” from “Niggas In Paris” is actually not a shortened form of “crazy”, nor is it “cray”, it's actually “Kray”. It's in reference to the schizophrenic twins Ronald and Reginald Kray. We learn something every day. I thought this was a solid Wednesday. While none of the answers were particularly scintillating, I appreciated just how many themers there were. And re: rex having never heard Chin-Chin, he simply needs to get out more.

    Diddy-bop 9:58 AM  

    Morse code operators use the vocalized terms DIT....DAH, never dot-dash

    Nancy 9:58 AM  

    Baby talk -- all of it ugly, and some of it like CHIN CHIN and CRAY CRAY unknown to me. According to the 5D clue/answer, Rudyard Kipling says that WORDS are "the most powerful drug used by mankind." All I can say is: not these words.

    ArtO 10:00 AM  

    Doesn't know CHIN CHIN but is ok with CRAY CRAY????

    Blackbird 10:05 AM  

    So many are fretting over slop itch. The answer is not slop itch. The answer is slo pitch. The club is softball designation.

    Jim McConnell 10:11 AM  

    Am familiar with cin cin, an Italian toast (pronounced chin chin), but have never seen it spelled with h.

    Anonymous 10:12 AM  

    No way! Drivers today are indeed metallic but they are, owing to tradition, still called woods.
    And no one uses a 1 iron. You may recall Lee Trevino used to pull out a 1 iron and raise it to the heavens whenever a thunderstorm rolled over the course he was on. When asked why he would do such a thing, he replied " even god can't hit a 1 iron."

    TJS 10:17 AM  

    @Birchbark, thanks for the Skakespearian reference. Brought back memories of my first college course in the works of the Bard. Taught by a professor approximately 70, (back when we weren't "trusting anyone over thirty"), I was expecting a boring slog. Was I wrong. Only assigned about 5 pages of text per day, but his in depth explication of those five pages, and the underlying themes running throughout the entire work, was truly amazing. As I continued my studies, I found him constantly quoted in footnotes: "As the esteemed Shakespearian T.W.Baldwin has noted in his..." . He never indicated to us that he was a celebrated scholar. Was behind him at the liquor store checkout once. He bought a case of Boones' Farm.

    Stix 10:20 AM  

    Yeah, Rex, you gotta get out more. Well, later on I suppose. CHIN CHIN is the most common way to say cheers in France. I have my kids saying CRAY now but it makes my wife cringe. She thinks it’s a bit racist. I just think it’s funny.

    Pamela 10:21 AM  

    @Blackbird- But Slop itch is so much more entertaining! My fave of the day.

    Carola 10:26 AM  

    I liked this fusillade of phrases, something I just hadn't ever thought about before. BANG BANG, there they were, one after another. Fun. My first one in was CRAY, but since I'd never heard "CRAY CRAY," I thought we were in for some sort of missing Z trick. I didn't catch on until CHIN.
    Speaking of which, I associated CHIN CHIN with swanky types enjoying cocktails in a Noel Coward play, so I appreciate being enlightened about the Italian connection - thank you, @Conrad and @Redanman. The cross of JADED and JUNKET popped out: that would be JADED (me) about some politicians' sketchy "fact-finding" jaunts abroad.
    I resisted GLOOPS until the end. Still, there is something pleasing about GLOOPS- GOOF-GALOOT, with the SOFT G elbowing in among the three hard ones.

    mathgent 10:27 AM  

    CRAYcray reminds me of one of my favorite jokes. It’s the one where Mickey Mouse has Minnie examined by a doctor friend. After talking to her, the friend tells Mickey that she seems perfectly sane. Mickey says, “I didn’t say that she was crazy. I said that she was f***ing Goofy.”

    pmdm 10:28 AM  

    Do I remember Tristan saying "chin chin" in at least one episode of All Creatures Great and Small? Maybe some of you don't like this puzzle for various reasons, but it's great that it's resulted in my digging out the set of complete episodes and watching them again. For the days when they were still being shown on PBS (and the defunct NJN in particular).

    GHarris 10:32 AM  

    I blame it on a brain befogged by too long in place but I fell into the here-hear trap and couldn’t cleanly complete. Had to cheat to get the “a” which enabled me to fill in the final few words in the middle bottom.

    Nancy 10:34 AM  

    Anon 10:12 -- Perhaps the funniest golfing words ever uttered. It reminds me of why I liked Lee Trevino so much. Also, he played fast -- no dilly-dallying over the ball like Nicklaus and Tiger. Re the one-iron: I'll bet that, since the very first woman stepped on the very first tee at the very first golf club, almost no women golfers have been so stupid as to try to hit one. Most women don't even carry that club.

    BobL 10:37 AM  

    OMG @Blackbird. He/she is serious!

    Ernonymous 10:43 AM  

    Buon giorno a tutti! Salute! Cent'anni! Cin cin!

    Joaquin 10:47 AM  

    I was hoping (against hope!) to discover in this puzzle a reference to a former basketball player who played for my alma mater, Bak Bak. I suppose his athletic career is obscure enough to have made this a no-no.

    Crimson Devil 10:50 AM  

    Only thing missin was HUBBA-HUBBA, which I looked hard for.

    Anonymous 11:12 AM  

    I was sure "chin chin" was some sort of error or confusion, something brought over from Italian into English and then respelled to reflect the pronunciation. The expression cincin is very common in Italy and used like salut or skoal when drinking, particularly when clicking glasses. But I decided to check with my Garzanti dictionary and to my great surprise found that the borrowing was in the other direction. Cincin was taken from English into Italian, the English being chinchin, and the English in turn was borrowed from Beijing Chinese, where the term was a repeated expression "please," as in the Italian *prego*, as one might raise a glass and say "please" or go right ahead or please drink up. According to Garzanti, the etymology became lost over time, with the "cincin" being imagined to reflect the sound of glasses clicking.

    Anon. i.e. Poggius

    Ethan Taliesin 11:13 AM  

    It seemed a bit harder than usual. I liked the idea and the execution and cluing was decent, but...

    Wasn't crazy about HELL and its clue "Nether regions" not agreeing. I get it, synecdoche (another word spellcheck doesn't know), but it drove me crazy and slowed down that NW corner.

    On a related note, when one assume(s), how does that make an ASS out of U and ME? I can imagine the person making an incorrect assumption maybe, but the other person? I don't get it.

    Greg 11:13 AM  

    When I was a kid my first golf set came with three "woods"(made of actual wood, not metal); a 1, a 3, and a 5. The ONEWOOD was stamped with the number "1" on it, and it was usually (but not always) what you used on your drives.

    Whatsername 11:15 AM  

    @Frantic (6:11) and @mathgent (10:27) Hilarious! You made me laugh out loud.

    @BarbaraS (9:50) Bikini waxing. The horror!

    Anonymous 11:18 AM  

    my failing memory tells me that CHIN CHIN was some slang for conversation, but the wiki says this
    "Chin chin, Japanese slang for penis" so, I guess, @Barabra S, mine is twice as big as yours?

    turns out, my memory, though failing, not this time from dictionary.com
    "light conversation; chitchat."

    although shown as CHIN-CHIN

    jberg 11:24 AM  

    To me, CHIN-CHIN means have a lively conversation -- derived from "chinning."

    Unlike Rex, I loved seeing PLATEN, especially next to the more modern CRAY CRAY. Nice mix.

    The hard part was choosing between BALIN and GloiN. Fortunately, neither DAH nor Dot worked with the latter.

    All for now, I've got a tele-medical appointment.

    egsforbreakfast 11:27 AM  

    I was going to say tut-tut to the SLOP ITCH advocates, but since the favorable reactions are running better than 50-50, I’ll just hop on board and say aye aye.

    In addition to the often, and justly, praised SLOP ITCH, I noticed when I looked back at the puzzle, the curious, seemingly foreign, word ADAYAGO as the answer to 55A. I was surprised that Rex didn’t mention this little rap/hip hop gem from Backhousetexas (available on Spotify)

    Something seemed odd to me about having “Club for drivers” (19A) and “Gets ready to drive” (49A) in the same puzzle and using drive in the same sense. If the 19A answer was ONEWOOD and the 49A answer was BUCKLESUP or something, I would have thought it was a slightly clever take on the double meaning.

    Did anyone else think we were doing a puzzle by Joe DiPinto?

    John R 11:31 AM  

    I filled in one iron at first and it took me a while to correct it. I agree with those that say no one (that I know) uses a one iron, but I do seem to run into them in crossword puzzles now and then. I also agree with Rex that most people say driver not one wood. Now I can add one wood to the list of things rarely heard outside of crossword puzzles.

    @Loren Muse Smith - your elevator suggestion made me laugh. That was a great line. It made me think of the old anecdote about Alfred Hitchcock on an elevator, so I looked it up:

    The Elevator Story

    Barbara S. 11:36 AM  

    Dang! After saying something serious about Kipling in my last comment I meant to trot out that time-honored joke in case anyone doesn't know it.

    Q: Do you like Kipling?
    A: I don't know, you naughty boy, I've never kippled.

    Newboy 11:40 AM  

    Asterisks were overkill since the reveal & many theme entries should be enough. Not able to get a running start in the NW, but POOH & SING leaping out gave the game away on a leisurely saunter down the page. Sadly that short circuited the aha moments which might have occurred with fewer crutches to lean on. (Or make that “crutches on which to lean” for any lurking infinitive watcher who SWEATs IT as too too). AMISH always makes me long for a reviewing of Witness, one of Harrison Fords more interesting roles—and they had electricity.

    Karl Grouch 11:42 AM  


    On to the KenKen.

    Hungry Mother 11:46 AM  

    Chop chop referred to eating when I was in Thailand in 1963. As one who has run in 5 Goofy Challenges at Disney, I appreciate @mathgent’s joke.

    Masked and Anonymous 11:47 AM  

    @RP: yep. SLOP ITCH (aka "The GLOOPS") is pretty cool.

    I almost always thoroughly enjoy DiPietro puzs. He's a dependable scamp. Seems like a while since we last saw his by-line. I think he did a collab puz with Rachel Maddow, one time, not too far back.

    Theme was pretty easy, once you'd nailed one of the themers. Except maybe for CHIN(CHIN). But it was kinda fun to guess the themers right away, without botherin with their crossers. Helped out with the old nanosecond tally. Needed, due to that CHIN/BALIN/LEGWAXING area that also gave @RP trouble.

    Some fave fillins: JUNKET. SPINCYCLE. PLATEN. GLOOPS (harlarity prize). AMISH (mostly cuz of its clue).

    staff weeject pick: DAH. Cuz DAH DAH kinda sounds like somethin familiar.

    IRS loophole: Not April 15th, at least for the 2020 rodeo. [re: 44-A clue]

    Thanx, Mr. DiPietro. And, as always … please try to avoid them CHIN GLOOPS.

    Masked & Anonymo3Us


    puzzlehoarder 11:48 AM  

    This late week difficult Wednesday was a very welcome surprise, especially after the uninspiring fare of the last two days.

    I bounced right off of the first two sections up north. The NE was a very solid start by I had to smoke out the unknown PLATEN.

    CRAY confirmed SLYEST and gave away the theme but the puzzle had plenty of resistance left. I've never heard of CHIN CHIN and I'm really hoping that todays' solve fixes HEAR as opposed to HERE once and for all.

    The first letter of 32A had to be a B but I still needed ELI to get BALIN to pop up. My memories of "The Hobbit" are getting rusty.

    I'm not familiar with the term RAGER and BOFF has a totally different meaning to me as opposed to todays' definition. Quite a few tough spots to overcome making for a lively solve.

    Anonymous 11:57 AM  

    I don't get it. What is kipple?

    Timothy 12:01 PM  

    "Chin chin" (pronounced "cheen cheen") is also used very often in Spain (and many other Spanish-speaking countries), while clinking glasses of wine or cava at non-socially-distanced meals.

    Z 12:13 PM  

    @Blackbird - Nobody, besides you, is fretting. We’re laughing.

    @TJS 10:17 - I loved the kicker.

    @Ethan Taliesin - Is it synecdoche? If I say “the midwest” for “the regions formerly known as the Northwest Territory” is that synecdoche? I had no problems because HELL is comprised of the nether regions. “Nether” always refers to “low,” Netherlands, nethermost, netherworld. I just can’t quite see this as an example of synecdoche.

    @mathgent - Funny but it sounds like a HIPAA violation.

    @diddy-bop - The issue for solvers is that crosswords use of “dot-dash” and “dit-DAH” is roughly equal. Most of us frequent solvers have learned that Morse Code experts prefer “dit-DAH,” but that information never helps during the solve. A three letter answer is equally likely to be dot or dit or DAH. And a four letter answer isn’t necessarily dash. It could be dots, dits, or DAHs. And there is nothing interesting or clever to be uncovered. In short, Morse Code answers are mostly just tired fill.

    Anonymous 12:14 PM  

    I don't get it. What is kipple?

    whatever perversion most floats your boat.

    Jake W 12:17 PM  

    Dumpster fire of a puzzle. BOFF, PLATEN, GLOOPS, GALOOT should be banned from crosswords forever. The whole center of this is awful.

    Unknown 12:26 PM  

    I never heard chin chin as a toast until I watched Giada Delaurentis on the food network. In my Italian-American family we say cento anni! which sounds like chin don as my grandmother was from Naples. It means 100 years, as in I wish you 100 years of health or life. When my grandmother got into her 90's we started saying duo cento anni! (200 years)

    ghostoflectricity 12:27 PM  

    Read "The Hobbit" and the LOTR trilogy way back when, and never saw any of the associated movies that brought them into vogue with later generations. Any case, long since forgot a way-subsidiary character like Balin. To me, "Balin" brings to mind the cofounder of Jefferson Airplane, Marty Balin (1942-2018), who sang lead on a number of their songs, including this one from their debut (pre-Grace Slick) album in 1966, "Jefferson Airplane Takes Off." Kind of surprised nobody in the previous 80-odd comments mentioned it; is Marty already forgotten?


    Mr. Alarm 12:35 PM  

    Thanks again, Rex, for vindicating my response to this annoying puzzle. Ugly words all over, regardless of their pretense. Like Jake W. said.

    Z 12:37 PM  

    @Karl Grouch - Good one. I was thinking Tom Tom Club.

    @ghostoflectricity - You missed @anon9:43 asking for a Marty BALIN clue. With The Hobbit getting the three movie treatment, Tolkien’s BALIN is probably more widely known in the culture than Jefferson Airplane..

    KnittyContessa 12:37 PM  

    @lms love your examples and Amy Sederis. I also agree, "nether regions" definitely sounds like a anatomical euphemism.

    GLOOPS? Really? PLATEN?

    I thought Morse code was Dot and Dash, maybe Dit but not DAH. Crossing it with Balin was brutal.

    Joe Dipinto 12:41 PM  

    @egs – 'Tisn't I. But I accidentally met this Joe DiPietro once (I think I told the story here before). There's also a Joe DiPietro who is a Broadway playwright/lyricist.

    Both halves.

    jae 12:48 PM  

    Medium-tough. I caught the theme fairly early and didn’t really have any major missteps but it still took a tad longer than the average Wed. Not sure why?

    I have (a) heard CHIN CHIN, (b) never called it a ONE WOOD, and (c) am now hoping that they find a SLOP ITCH vaccine soon.

    Pretty solid Wed., liked it.

    KnittyContessa 12:50 PM  

    @JohnR Thanks for the link. I had forgotten about that story. As I was reading it I thought of the books Peter Bogdanovich has written that are filled with stories like that and indeed, this was from Who the Devil Made It! His other book is Who the Hell's In It. I highly recommend to both.

    DigitalDan 12:51 PM  

    Rex, you just haven't lived!

    Smith 1:00 PM  

    @ whats

    Wish I had an old typewriter! I keep a variety of old phones so my K-5 ESL students can experience them. A typewriter would be wonderful (if we ever go back to school... before I retire...)

    Malsdemare 1:09 PM  

    Y'all are in rare form this morning, from LMS' tale of the kindergartner to Hitchcock. We've even gotten some seriously fascinating background on CHIN CHIN and Japanese penises. And I can no longer look at SLOPITCH as a ball game; oh, as I write that, yeah, an image of a pitcher rearranging his, uh, junk has flittered unmercifully into my brain. Time to scrub my brain with lysol; do you suppose snorting would work?

    I liked the puzzle, though I erred with that damn Morse code thing and the dwarf, but the blog has been really entertaining.

    Ann Hedonia 1:20 PM  

    Great column/review. You are correct, as usual! GLOOPS is just stoop-id

    Ethan Taliesin 1:31 PM  

    @Z Maybe the nether regions comprise hell? But to get at whether it's a synecdoche... So you're saying the figure of speech "nether regions" is a singular group noun that doesn't fit the criteria? Maybe you're right. In your example "the midwest" is a stand-in for all those states and cities, and yeah, that seems so common to me that I don't even think about it being an example of synecdoche and a quick search doesn't show this as a prime example

    The definition I get for synecdoche is "a figure of speech in which a term for a part of something refers to the whole of something or vice versa."

    Perhaps a case could be made either way depending on which perspective you choose to champion.

    Maybe. Now you have me doubting

    Any mavens out there wanna chime in?

    What? 1:41 PM  

    Did Trevino actually say that? I’ve heard the story many times, usually quoting nobody in particular (“A golfer pulls out a one iron...”). It brings to mind a quote from Yogi Berra- “I never said half the things I said.” Wait. Did he really say that?

    Frantic Sloth 1:46 PM  
    This comment has been removed by the author.
    egsforbreakfast 1:53 PM  

    Seek immediate medical help (not from a volunteer EMT) if you experience SLOP ITCH in the nether regions after a bikini wax.

    Frantic Sloth 1:56 PM  

    @EthanTaliesin and @Z I'm no maven so (as is so often the case with me), I had to look up the pronunciation of "synecdoche" and stumbled on this YouTube debacle, which will be my go-to version.

    Once I stop laughing.

    GILL I. 2:08 PM  

    Oof...just finished bathing my two little pups. They think they are otters. Water all over the bathroom, walls and my hair. No wonder I pay through the nose to have them groomed.
    @Nancy...Lee Trevino and your ONE WOOD story. I had the off chance of meeting him on an airport bus from our hotel to the LAX airport. We both got on at the same time - he, being the gentleman, let me on first. I, being the shy person I am, sat down and practically screamed "don't I know you!!!!!!!" He smiled at me and introduced himself. I probably screamed back and told him I thought he was the best golfer on this planet. He smiled back and said something like "well, Jack might not think so." We only went about a mile but I spoke to him in Spanish the entire short ride. I guess he was amused. I don't look Mexican. He tipped the driver $20 for a 10 minute ride. I was so ashamed that I only had one dollar on me. Best dollar I ever spent!

    gd_in_nc 2:15 PM  

    and isn't pooh pooh just shi*t?

    Z 2:55 PM  

    @Ethan T and @Frantic Sloth - Just to be clear, I don’t know either. And now I see I might even be confusing it with metonymy. At least now I know how to pronounce synecdoche. Thanks @Frantic Sloth.

    @egsforbreakfast - I hear nether regions SLOP ITCH is often contracted at music festivals.

    I don’t know about anyone else, but I really really want SLOP ITCH to replace DOOK in our crossworld dictionary.

    NonaCarla 3:02 PM  

    “Chin chin “ is an Italian toast just like “cheers “ in the US.

    Aketi 3:03 PM  

    @lms, leave it to you to come up with loba loba.

    webwinger 3:16 PM  

    Pretty much agree with @Rex on this one. Never ever heard CHIN CHIN. Nor CRAY CRAY. BTW, isn’t that derived from crazy, and wouldn’t that make it sort of a slur against the mentally challenged? Just sayin…

    Hey, why not clue WORDS with reference to the famous Hamlet quote?
    Polonius: What do you read, my lord. Hamlet: WORDS, WORDS, WORDS.
    Would that come too close to the theme without being a proper themer?

    So it’s come to this: My increasingly involutional dotard mind yesterday insisted on viewing via DVD an episode of Mickey Mouse Club from 1956, featuring the start of the first Hardy Boys serial, The Mystery of Applegate’s Treasure. It was fun. Also have on the same disc the entire 10 HB episodes, which I plan to re-watch one per day. Well remember following Frank and Joe (and their gal pal IOLA, also in the series, and now also in my memory because of her recent appearance in the NYTXW) as they pursued their quarry through situations that were truly dangerous and scary, especially by today’s standards, and led to their detective dad getting into a fist-fight to protect them at the climax.

    Now that a growing number of US states are adopting a sensible middle-of-the-road virus strategy—masks and social distancing in public, stay home if ill or high risk, no large crowds but most businesses open, monitoring progress in terms of hospital admissions (interestingly, in all states without having met recently issued federal guidelines regarding numbers of newly documented cases)—it seems a good time to think harder about ensuring one’s own safety. An important adjunct to government mandated or recommended behaviors would seem to be having access to a pulse oximetry device. These simple-to-operate inexpensive (about $50, many models available from Amazon) gadgets have been widely used in hospitals for many years to measure the oxygen content of blood. A very significant but not much publicized observation about COVID pneumonia is that it may cause dangerous lowering of blood oxygen before there is much awareness of shortness of breath—apparently a big reason why so many deaths follow rapidly after onset of subjective breathing difficulty. Get a pulse oximeter now, and if you have any respiratory symptoms at all use it, and call your healthcare provider immediately to report any measurement that is below the normal range given in the device’s instructions.

    Unknown 3:25 PM  

    Chin chin. Familiar with it. Cray: I got it but it is complete nonsense to me. Who goes around saying “cray cray”? “ Damn fool” is good enough for me

    TJS 3:34 PM  

    @JonB3, "yeah,yeah" and @JohnR with the Hitchcock story, great stuff, thanks for lightening the mood. Sorely needed these days.

    Re. Slo Pitch, I believe the Chicago area is the only place in the country where 16 inch softball is played. Under-hand pitching with an arc, no-gloves, ten men to a side. The "No Glove Nationals" are played every year in Forest Park just West of Chicago and attract all the best teams for a three day tourney. You would think that pitching would not be much of a factor since you have to lob it up there, but every years the best pitchers are in the final 4 to 6 teams. The ball, called a clincher, softens up after the first few innings but is pretty rock hard to start the game. Guys play into their late 30s, pitchers longer. Lots of fun.

    Frantic Sloth 3:34 PM  

    As of 3:28pm the term CHIN CHIN has appeared on this page 42 times.

    @Z I like how you think. If not for the extra typing effort, SLOP ITCH would have my vote. Also, thanks for the "synecdoche vs. metonymy" article. I might even understand the difference - and that is saying something.

    Whatsername 3:47 PM  

    @Crimson Devil (10:50). Half a HUBBA. That would be tough to clue. “What you might say to someone who just got a bikini wax.“??

    @egs and @Z: You’re killin’ me. 🤣 The discussion has been so entertaining today that I keep coming back to read more SLOP ITCH cracks. And I just wanted to point out that we have Rex to thank for most of the laughs - a nice change from the usual grousing about his bad attitude.

    Ethan Taliesin 3:59 PM  

    @Frantic Sloth. That was super funny! I will definitely be using that pronunciation next time I toss it into casual conversation

    kitshef 4:26 PM  

    @TJS - very fond memories of playing 16-inch softball in my University of Chicago days. Cold weather, Dungeons and Dragons. Warm weather, 16-inch softball. Which is probably why my UofC days only lasted three quarters.

    Joe Dipinto 4:38 PM  

    The comments today bring to mind one of my favorite James Thurber stories.

    pabloinnh 4:42 PM  

    @eggs, Z, Frantic, et. al.--

    I always pronounce it "Schenectady". Problem solved.

    Also for Chaucer fans, "The Miller's Tale" is a fine account of how the "nether regions" can be pretty funny. Helps to know "nether yen".

    oisk17 5:07 PM  

    Cray-cray is ka-ka, along with gloop, a Hobbit character... I've never seen maraca used in the singular - Always "we heard the maracas." I didn't see the asterisk on 5 across, and couldn't understand why "Whaddya know" = "well."

    Disliked this one very much.

    manitou 5:15 PM  

    If I was someone who could solve a Saturday puzzle in 6 minutes, I would be *grateful* to learn things that are as commonly known as CHIN-CHIN, CINCINNATI CHILI, and BRISTLECONE PINE instead of complaining that it made the puzzle more challenging. Sheesh.

    Anonymous 5:35 PM  

    Someone said earlier “the fact that 30% of our society is racist ...” Is that really a fact ? Does he/she know what the word fact means ? Whoever wrote that should think more and bloviate less or at least try and provide documentation of this “fact” that isn’t opinion. Very divisive comment that was probably written but a racist trying to sow discord.

    webwinger 5:46 PM  

    Who knew so much fun could be had with a double CHIN? And so many great stories from the commentunity today: Hitchcock! Trevino! Thurber! The yeah, yeah anecdote (@JohnB3 8:24) is true, from the life of Columbia University philosophy professor and legendary wit Sidney Morgenbesser, quoted in his 2004 NYT obituary.

    Last night’s movie (after Mickey Mouse Club, with my inner 7-year-old safely in bed) was the very much R-rated About Last Night (based on the David Mamet play Sexual Perversity in Chicago), starring beautiful people Demi Moore and Rob Lowe, but most enjoyable for best friends played by Elizabeth Perkins and Jim Belushi. SLO PITCH in Grant Park was prominently featured. On the schedule for tonight: Synecdoche, New York, a very strange vehicle for Philip Seymour Hoffman.

    GLOOPS is so close to GLOrP, the term for the stuff that is found inside a STYE (aka chalazion)…

    John R 5:58 PM  

    @Joe Dipinto - Thanks for the Thurber story!

    Anonymous 5:59 PM  

    Anonymous 5:35: That was @Z. Just ignore him. Bloviating is what he does. Don’t feed ‘em Z.

    Anonymous 6:03 PM  

    Web 5:46- Demi before her implants. I liked her better then.

    Nancy 6:14 PM  

    @GILL (2:08) -- What fun! You seem to have met everyone who's anyone at one time or other. Lee sounds nice. Nicer, certainly, than you made Yul sound a couple of weeks ago.

    Good to see you back, @Oisk. I'm happy that you disliked the puzzle as much as I did.

    @mathgent, re "regionalism": I live on the other coast from you and I've never heard CRAY CRAY in my life. And I hope I never shall. And yes, amid all the childish theme words, I'd quite forgotten GLOOPS and OWIE. Ugh. Also it's BOFFO, not BOFF. Check out "Variety" if you doubt me.

    I would think it's in some ways harder to hit an underhand SLO PITCH than an underhand fast one. And that's because your bat is not traveling on the same plane as the rapidly falling pitch and you have much less time to make contact. I always hated being thrown those big arc pitches and preferred the ones that went straight. Discussion, anyone?

    Z 6:34 PM  

    @pabloinnh - I see what you did there.

    @Frantic Sloth 3:34 pm - Says the person with the two word nom de blog to the gent with the single letter nom de blog.

    @not Joe DiPietro4:38 - Thanks. If I ever read that (which seems likely, there was a time when I read a lot of Thurber) I’ve forgotten.

    Finally got around to looking at past DiPietro write-ups. First, he does far fewer NYTX puzzles than I thought these days. Between 1 and 3 a year the past half decade. xwordinfo.com says he has 134 puzzles over 25 years, but most of those must have been earlier. I did just a quick perusal of about a dozen Rex write-ups and several of them are highly complimentary. I’d thought most of his puzzles than today’s offering, and it seems that impression has some basis.

    @Anon5:35 - Seriously? You can’t be bothered to use a find command? Anyway - Me. 9:35 this morning. I’ll let you deduce the reference.

    Different Anon (I swear) 6:53 PM  

    @Z Unable to deduce reference. It’s your claim that it’s a fact, not an opinion, that 30% of society is racist. Please provide a link. I know you’re good at that. Thanks.

    Maria 7:02 PM  

    @anonymous 5:35- As you probably know there is a small minority of commenters who haphazardly throw around terms like racist and sexist. Best to ignore them.

    Anonymous 7:35 PM  

    In case it hasn't already appeared enough in this blog, the toast is cin cin. It's Italian. It is not spelled chin chin which is two body parts, or a Chinese surname. Madonna santa! Aiuto!

    Joe Dipinto 8:37 PM  

    @John R – likewise for the Hitchcock story.

    Is the kittycat in your avatar bored with all of us or just with Rex?

    Ernonymous 10:52 PM  

    @anon 7:35 you are correct about the Italian spelling but Porca Madonna la Puttana, there are variations in spelling used in UK and other places where it is spelled CHIN CHIN.

    Anonymous 11:58 PM  

    Boff != Boffo....

    Frantic Sloth 12:03 AM  

    @pabloinnh 442pm
    @webwinger 546pm
    It appears that I now have to pronounce "synecdoche" as "Schenectady" and "Schenectady" as "synecdoche" and watch "Synecdoche, New York" with Hoffman/by Kaufman as Moses supposes.

    Where will I find the time??

    @Joe Dipinto I'll leech onto @John R and thank you for the gift of Thurber - my very first "favorite author" as a kid.

    @Z 634pm I really don't see the problem with our respective noms de blog. It doesn't bother me any.

    And can somebody, anybody puhlease explain what CHIN CHIN/cin cin is about??

    Anonymous 10:19 AM  

    Bond movies not only have CHIN CHIN, I think they also probably have Swiss FRANCS, don’t they? “Deposited to my account within 24 hours, Mr. Bond, or else the Queen will explode!”

    Burma Shave 9:20 AM  


    a LONE, JADED HOBO, misunderstood.
    I POOH POOH the WORDS they say

    --- FRANC LOTT

    rondo 10:01 AM  

    WELL, I had nearly all the same thoughts about the puz as OFL, so I know how he feels about it, and SODOI.

    Both of my summer sports are represented today. I played SLO(w)PITCH softball for 46 seasons and don’t recall seeing it without the W. You sometimes hear the driver called a ONEWOOD – a great big ONE is stamped right there on the sole of the club – maybe even more these days with all of the hybrid and fairway WOOD options. The ONEWOOD is what this guy TEESUP with about 2/3 of the time. As I will today and tomorrow.

    As a youth I spent time in the summer BALIN’ hay.

    Back to work, I’m GONE.

    spacecraft 11:19 AM  

    Well, well. A bang-bang puzzle to sing about. 18a was new to me: "You'd be cray-cray to stick around till the po-po show up." Yeah, like in these riots. So was 35a; the only double CHIN I know is the one hanging under my jaw.

    So the Kipling quote is "banal?" I don't think so. It's painfully true today, as when You-Know-Who keeps using WORDS like "great," "incredible," "tremendous," etc., hoping that if he repeats them often enough, the people will ignore the truth and believe him. ITSSAD to see that it may actually be working.

    LOTS of brain-wrenching fill here, but I draw the LINE at GLOOPS. This is Not A Word. And just who is HAL FOFF? (bit of LEGWAXING there) I further object to the RP (not OFC but Random Pronunciation) of SOFTG. ADAYAGO is way less common than yesterday; still it is used. But these are pet peeves and I shouldn't take HALFOFF my score for that.

    ONEWOOD who'd qualify for DOD, had she survived, was Natalie. Birdie.

    Diana, LIW 11:43 AM  

    Not knowing EWAN cost me the NW, but got the rest. What can I say. Is it Wednesday? Is it June?

    Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

    Anonymous 1:05 PM  

    Very solveable but did not care for this one. CHIN chin? ITSSAD as an answer for "so tragic"? Not sure what rain has to do with SEENIN. DAH. The aforementioned GLOOPS. Using TRAP interchangeably with ENTRAP?
    Just way too many of these clues fell completely flat for me. With better cluing and losing gloops, this could have been a solid puzzle but it feels like a GOOF to me.

    Anonymous 1:35 PM  

    Doubtful Trevino would joke about lightning - he was hit by a bolt and taken to the E.R. (Hinsdale , Illinois, and yes, I was there to witness it.)

    leftcoaster 3:02 PM  

    Inclined to agree with Rex's critique of this HALF OFF puzzle.

    CHIN-CHIN for "Cheers!" Please, no. CRAY-CRAY for "Bonkers". Sounds like baby talk.TRUTV? Not in HBO's or even TBS's league. BALIN? Pretty obscure.

    Wanted a SOFT T instead of the SOFT G in "generation". Thought the T might be a little slyer.

    Liked the general idea, but didn't get much of a kick out of it.

    rondo 7:48 PM  

    I still miss @RonDiego

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