Life, in Rome / TUES 9-01-20 / Brunch cocktails / Soccer great Mia / Round Table figures

Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Hi, everyone! It's Clare — here a week later than normal because of chaos last Monday. Law school classes started that day (all being done virtually), and Zoom had an outage, and my school's main web page crashed multiple times... It was super fun! All in all, I haven't really minded online learning so far; I'm just trying (and, yes, sometimes failing) to not get distracted.

On to the puzzle for today!

David Steinberg

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: PERSONAL PRONOUNS (52A: Gender identifiers often separated by slashes) — The theme answers are all personal pronouns...

Theme answers:
  • SHE / HER (as part of 22A: ARTHUR ASHE and 26A: HERD)
  • THEY / THEM (as part of 33A: BUT HEY and 35A: THE MET)
  • HE / HIM (as part of 46A: ACHE and 47A: HIMALAYANS)
Word of the Day: BROUHAHA (15A: Hubbub) —
Brouhaha is a French word sometimes used in English to describe an uproar or hubbub, a state of social agitation when a minor incident gets out of control… Typically, a brouhaha is marked by controversy and fuss that can seem, afterwards, to have been pointless or irrational. (Wiki)
• • •
Overall, I thought this puzzle was a pretty good one! I really liked the idea of the theme, and it felt fresh to me, too. The theme was executed very well — the way each set of PERSONAL PRONOUNS was offset by a square in the puzzle instead of a slash was a nice touch.

There was a fair amount of junky little stuff in the puzzle, though — possibly as a result of the formatting of the theme. See: ELSA, GPS, KIM, ETA, etc... I know three-letter words are to be expected out of puzzles, but some of these clue/answer combinations felt especially weak to me in an otherwise good puzzle. I especially hate those three-letter words like AHH (22D: Utterance from a hot bath) and OHO (10D: "Looky here!") because it's such a crapshoot: You never really know what combination of letters it's going to be. Having both SIRS (31A: Round Table figures) and SIRI (44A: One always getting asked questions) felt repetitive. Likewise, THE WHO (4D: Roger Daltrey's band) and THE MET (35A: N.Y.C. opera house). And, finally, I really disliked FB POSTS (7D: Social media things that can be liked, informally); that is just not a thing.

With all that being said, I really did like a lot of the words in the puzzle! A puzzle that fits in words like BROUHAHA, MIMOSAS, HIMALAYANS, CHAI LATTE, INTERVIEW, and MYOPIC is a win in my book. I also appreciated the love for Mia HAMM (26D), ROBB Stark (23D), and ARETHA Franklin (8D). And, I thought ARTHUR ASHE (22A) was especially timely, as the U.S. Open is just starting. (My dad has requested that I interject that he interviewed ARTHUR ASHE twice). SALAD (13D) as an introductory course was also fun — I didn't even fall for the intended misdirection by trying to put in something like "torts," my favorite introductory law school course.

  • This was the first time I immediately typed out ORCS (10A: Enemies of hobbits) rather than wondering if it was actually spelled "orks." Maybe I've finally turned a corner on this.
  • Does anyone even know what HBO Max (30A) really is or what it does? No? Me, neither.
  • My knowledge from 5th grade on the capitals comes in handy again for TOPEKA (54A). I really only memorized the capitals then to beat a classmate on the test...
  • This puzzle finally taught me who TARA Reid (35D) is. I'd pictured her in my head as a different actress for so long, but I finally Googled her, and I've got it all cleared up now.
  • THE MET (35A) threw me at first because I had the first five letters and kept trying to pronounce the answer as "theme"-something: "themer," "themed," etc.
  • In case you need a serotonin boost, here is a clip of BTS performing at a recent awards show (where this amazing k-pop group swept the four categories they were nominated for). Also, in case you missed the news, BTS just got their first number 1 ever on the Billboard Hot 100 for their song "Dynamite"! No, this has nothing to do with the puzzle. But, I'm making it my mission to get everyone to love BTS as much as I do. You'll enjoy the happiness boost — trust me.

Signed, Clare Carroll, a virtual 3L

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


manitou 12:32 AM  

and... there's actually a giant slash going through the grid separating the subject and object versions of the pronouns!

JD 12:37 AM  

Ah, David Steinberg adulted like the Boss of Cross.  Mimosas  and Chai Lattes. FB Posts and HBO Max*, But Hey Gram Gram, look, there's Aretha and The Who. A Tuesday with something for all ages without pandering to any.

That alone is quite a feat. But a simple Tuesday theme, cleanly and well executed? Throw that Tri Tip on the grill and mix me a Mai Tai. Seriously dude, here's to ya.

*Clare, Streaming HBO subscription. Old people (my people) use cable.

Joe Dipinto 12:47 AM  

Sorry about the chaos at your school last Monday. I did notice a butterfly flap its wings in Prospect Park the day before.

Harryp 1:00 AM  

More grid art. I finished and looked at the pronouns thinking that the square was being used as a slash, but later found out the grid center was a long diagonal. I liked the clue and answer for 1D and 5D AEIOU, but had to get CHAI LATTE from the crosses. Also good were BROUHAHA and MYOPIC. Fast Tuesday solve, so Medium strength. I am now familiar enough with David Steinberg's name not to have to look it up.

RAD2626 1:05 AM  

Just a terrific puzzle all around. Great theme, cleverly set off with slashes and terrific fill. Interesting topical issue, but can be enjoyed ignoring the currency of pronoun preference choices if you so choose. Probably my favorite Steinberg puzzle in a long time.

Nice write up Clare. Good luck with virtual law school. Makes the Socratic method dramatically more more difficult. You can just have a buffering issue.

Joaquin 1:19 AM  

I think I would have preferred a puzzle consisting of amateur nouns.

John Hoffman 1:44 AM  

Welcome, Clare! It’s a pleasure to read your review. You’re right: nobody says FBPOSTS.

Frantic Sloth 2:01 AM  

I had the TH_ _
But I don't know if I'm disappointed or relieved that the answer to 24D "You, a long time ago" isn't THin. πŸ€”

This was pretty straightforward and therefore easier than yesterday, IMHO. And while the theme is...well...there, I'm afraid I can't rustle up more excitement about PERSONAL PRONOUNS.

I guess a happy side-effect of that theme is that it didn't detract from or kill the fill. thrill. @GILL?


CDilly52 2:13 AM  

Liked it! The big long diagonal “slash” was kind of a neat trick too , separating the pronouns. And for @Rex’s benefit, HBO/ciniMAX, are two channels often bundled as a single streaming “extra” purchase with one’s tv plan.

So good newer fill and very little junk. Liked seeing the fairly rare HIMALAYANS of the feline world. Beautiful breed that is fairly unusual to see outside serious breed-lovers.

Easier than yesterday for sure! Maybe the two should have been switched. Time to sleep. Tuesday is already here.

chefwen 2:18 AM  

Any puzzle that’s starts you off with a lovely MAI TAI is going to be a winner in my book. Hell of a lot more fun than LEMON TEA.

A fine Tuesday, with a little grammar lesson thrown in for good measure. BROUHAHA to my ears sound more German than French, must be in the BROU.

Love HIMALAYAN kitties, then again, I love all kitties. Can’t play favorites. Which reminds me and updated picture of Alfie would be nice, Rex.

JZRen 2:32 AM  

The squares formed the slash. Nice piece of construction.

Ben 3:08 AM  

I really liked this one! I loved the giant slash through the middle of all the pronoun pairs, and I thought the SIRS/MAAM pairing was a nice flourish as well.

Also, and maybe this is just because I'm from a slightly older demo than Clare, I've definitely both heard and said "fb post" before

Frantic Sloth 3:49 AM  

And so here I lie, wearing my crown of blind ineptitude after reading comments and learning of the grid slash running between the pronouns. This makes all the difference somehow and allows me to appreciate the theme much more.

And since I'm so proficient at it, I'm going to go pro with my blind ineptitude, start a university, sell some steaks, make some ties, fire some people, and run for President.
I'm gonna call this movement "Lez Prez" because we now know it's all about the Z.

The village. It beckons.

Jeffrey 5:25 AM  

I'm not sure I'm grasping the full meaning of the theme. It's common to have he/she or him/her in a sentence, i.e., pronouns separated by a slash, but when would you write she/her, they/them/, or he/him as they're shown in the grid?

ChuckD 6:17 AM  

Clare - you refer to the shaded square in lieu of the slash but you don’t mention the continuous slash graphic formed. This is heavy duty construction. Typically overall fill will suffer from the grid art - but this is an exception. Tight theme and wonderful fill made this an enjoyable- albeit easy Tuesday. I actually liked to see THE WHO and I THE MET both included.

The theme itself is not overly interesting - personal pronouns have become commonplace at this point so why not treat them that way. That said - this puzzle was an elegant treatment of the topic.

Lewis 6:28 AM  

On the construction side this is the work of a pro’s pro. The sash-that’s-a-slash perfectly bracketed by PERSONAL and PRONOUNS, with each pair centering a three-block mini-slash, is beautiful work. It creates a tough-to-fill-nicely grid though, and yet, David did, with answers like MAITAI, BROUHAHA, HIMILAYANS, TRITIP, THE WHO, MIMOSAS, MYOPIC, and CHAI LATTE.

But that’s not all. The whole solving experience, even with 22 threes, felt smooth as buttah. Work of a pro’s pro.

Then there was the AEIOU mini-theme of words ending with a vowel – more than one-third of the answers! I don’t follow this, but that feels exceptionally high.

One more thing. In some post puzzle research, I learned about the contemporary practice among non-cis-gendered people of putting SHE/HER, THEY/THEM, or HE/HIM (or sometimes adding HERS, THEIR, or HIS to the first two) after their signatures to specify their gender. That gave this puzzle an exceptionally current feeling to me, and taught me something I’m glad to know.

Thank you, David!

SouthsideJohnny 7:00 AM  

Nice, and pretty challenging effort for a Tuesday. Could do without the GoT reference crossing what I’m guessing is something similar to a Twinkie - those clues are like Dark Matter to me (as is anything to do with the Hobbit). I did get IAGO and THE MET - I’m usually lucky if about 50% of the trivia is in my wheelhouse - I wonder what the average Trivia/PPP “batting average” is for some of the more proficient solvers here ? It can be pretty brutal getting Naticked early in the week, lol.

Anonymous 7:02 AM  

It isn’t she/her that are separated by slashes. It’s he/she.

Irene 7:21 AM  

Anyone else find ELSA and MSRP a Natick?
I just don't watch Disney movies.

kitshef 7:23 AM  

Far better than your typical Tuesday, as I would expect from David Steinberg.

Not fond of ROBB crossing HBO - GoT was on HBO, so it's a bit like crossing two baseball answers or opera answers. Plus, networks can be pretty much any three letters, and GoT had character names like Maegyr, Hghar and Arryn, so don't be telling me ROBB is easily inferred.

But beyond that nit, a very pleasurable solve.

John H 7:24 AM  

Um, you didn't notice the huge slash that separated each set??

Adam Cooperman 7:26 AM  

Minor point Lewis, it's gaining popularity among cis-gender people as well for a variety of (imo) positive reasons. It normalizes the practice of declaring your pronouns, it shows solidarity with trans and gender nonconforming people, and it's a really good way to get bigots to out themselves.

I agree with your overall assessment though. This puzzle was an absolute blast to solve and anything LGBTQ+ adjacent in the puzzle always makes me smile. The visual tricks are incredibly impressive.

Really happy with this one.

Petsounds 7:28 AM  

I always like a David Steinberg puzzle and I always like a Clare blog post, so this was a happy morning for me. The whole solve felt smooth and...right. Unlike Clare, I was thrown by the clue for SALAD, but got that taken care of pretty quick with the Acrosses. Appreciated the something-for-everyone-ness of the clues too.

I have heard and typed "FB post," so count me in that (ancient) group.

Clare, your posts always make me smile, and I appreciate the BTS clip. In a time so dark that even lighting a candle often doesn't help, their goofy, happy tunes are a small ray of sunshine.

Unknown 7:47 AM  

Yes SIRS/MAAM appears to be part of the theme but without the "gray area". Something for the future royalty of the UK to work out.

Hungry Mother 7:56 AM  

Easy theme, mildly helpful. I used to be a big beef eater before I became a vegan, but TRITIP was an unknown.

mathgent 8:05 AM  

I used to read a monthly which had a column titled pbi. That stood for partially-baked ideas. It would discuss things in the current culture which didn’t quite click. I would call today’s theme a pbi. @Jeffrey (5:25) said it well. But Lewis says that some of the slashed combos mean something in the non-cis community. Even in that context, they seem clumsy to me.

I often like a puzzle with a weak theme, but not today. 22 Terrible Threes. Only 5 red plus signs in the margins (best: BROUHAHA) and they were offset by 5 pieces of junk. Unmoved by the big diagonal. Dull cluing.

pabloinnh 8:08 AM  

Now this is a Tuesday that knows how to Tuesday. Not always do we get a Feat of Construction that's also a Delight to Solve, but here it is. Had me at BROUHAHA.

GoT is way too violent for my taste but I'm going to have to learn some proper names for the sake of my xword fetish. The prices we pay.

In a word, Tuesdazo! Enhorabuena, DS.

Twangster 8:24 AM  

Apologies for the off-topic post, but did anyone happen to solve Saturday's "Wit Twister" in the printed paper? I'm stumped and have no way of finding the solution, since I don't get the printed paper during the week and the library is closed.

You have to find a 6-letter word that can be anagrammed 3 ways to fill in the blanks:

I listened ______, even to his dafter words,
And-- ______, anyway – our views aligned.
But at his "posh" reception afterwards,
The fare was ______, so I changed my mind.

RooMonster 8:57 AM  

Hey All !
Where's that "Hack and SLASH" joke? (Was that here? I actually think it was on a Monty Python site...)(The ole brain messing with me again.)

Neat puz. A slash puz with a slash in it. And that bonus SIRS/MAAM. Speaking of MAAM* (see below after you read my words of wisdom πŸ˜‹).

Rather clean fill, which is nice (and tough). Nice long Downs as others have mentioned. Looking for other symmetric /'s, MADE IT to TOPEKA, FAT EDS, OTTO IAGO, APPLE SALAD, HAMM SHAM. Har.

BROUHAHA always fun to see. AEIOU again. Fits in sometimes, not terrible fill. Nice mix of modern and aged stuff. ☺️

*Anyone remember NO MAAM from "Married with Children"? (For the youngsters, un-PC show when being un-OC was still funny)

One F

Unknown 8:57 AM  

I will always love a puz that honors Arthur Ashe (I think his statue was recently desecrated a few months ago in Virginia). And always felt that The Who are an entirely underrated band (currently listening to Quadrophenia). I don't know what cis-gender stands for or means, but I liked this puzzle. I think this is the second time in a week that HOHOs have appeared? No wonder we are an obese nation!
This was a solid Tuesday. I think what I liked most of all was a fresh, non-snarky, friendly write up of the puzzle. We don't get that too often, so thank you Clare.

Joe Welling 9:01 AM  

@ Jeffrey

A recitation of preferred pronouns is a relatively common sight in email sigs and (pre pandemic) conference ID badges. The usual format is subjective/objective/possessive (e.g., he/him/his), but using the first two in the puzzle is certainly recognizable.

Z 9:01 AM  

@JD said it well and @Joe Dipinto and @Frantic Sloth got the early morning LOLZ.

@ChuckD - Read the comments? They might make you want to reassess how “commonplace” the PERSONAL PRONOUN thing is.

@Several people - as @Adam Cooperman said, {announcing one’s PERSONAL PRONOUNS is} gaining popularity among cis-gender people as well for a variety of (imo) positive reasons. It normalizes the practice of declaring your pronouns, it shows solidarity with trans and gender nonconforming people, and it's a really good way to get bigots to out themselves.

FB POSTS is not a said thing. It is most definitely a written thing.

HBO MAX is HBO’s streaming service that is free if you already subscribe through cable but you can also pay for separately if you have cut the cord. Or something like that.

Fat Girl vs. World 9:09 AM  

πŸ’œπŸ’œπŸ’œπŸ’œπŸ’œπŸ’œπŸ’œCongratulations, μ•„λ―Έ!!!!πŸ’œπŸ’œπŸ’œπŸ’œπŸ’œπŸ’œπŸ’œ
Thank you for sharing your excitement over BTS with the world. Dynamite is...DYNAMITE and so much fun to dance to (as are many of their songs--they just won an MTV VMA award for Best Choreo!). My dad sent me a text message that you mentioned Bangtan in today's blog.
Thank you for showing that BTSArmy (the fandom) isn't just screaming teen girls, but rather a diverse group of people screaming worldwide (Billboard #1!!! and on Jungkook's birthday!).
If people are new to BTS, they should check them out. They are known for their wordplay in both English and Korean.

Birchbark 9:20 AM  

Q. How do you spot a teacher whose students drink hot beverages in school?

A. Her pupils are CHAILATTEd.

@Joe Dipinto (12:47) -- That explains everything.

pmdm 9:22 AM  

Seems to me many of the puzzles veer towards subjects that neither describe me nor enhance my enjoyment of the puzzle. (One should be able to say that without being accused of being a bigot.) But I would find it surprising to find people who have no appreciation of the talent to fill such a constraining grid in a manner that does not feel tortured. Quite a feat. I just wish i could warm up to the puzzle as a whole a bit more.

Now i can see why yesterday's puzzle appeared on a Monday rather than today.

Nancy 9:25 AM  

Without the gray squares, I wouldn't have noticed the theme at all. With the gray squares, I couldn't help but notice it. They turned out to be completely extraneous to my solve -- with one exception. The THEY helped me get BUT HEY for 33A -- which, btw, I would never substitute for "nevertheless".

One Tuesday writeover: Musical CHOIRS before musical CHAIRS. This gave me PERSONoL at 18a -- and I almost didn't correct it. And a DNF on a Tuesday would have been ignominious.

I also misread 40A as "part of Lincoln's cabinet" instead of "part of Lincoln's cabin". You try to come up with a three-letter name for the former beginning with "L".

Now you've got your sirloins and your porterhouses and your t-bones and your ribeyes -- but I've never heard of a TRITIP.

Thank you ARTHUR ASHE for reminding me that the US Open has started. Usually 100 people at the tennis courts remind me each year, but now that no one's attending in person, I'd forgotten. If it was televised yesterday, I missed it.

A pleasant, forgettable puzzle. But I really liked the way MOM and SIRI were clued.

G. Weissman 9:29 AM  

So-so puzzle, good review, but “With all that being said” is a grotesque substitute for “That said.” That said, carry on.

Banya 9:36 AM  

Probably my fastest Tuesday ever. Raced through this one.

Tim Aurthur 9:36 AM  

Possible hidden messages?


TOPEKA, home to the Westboro Baptist Church

Carola 9:40 AM  

I was so surprised and happy about the theme (grandma of a trans grandson) that I completely missed the slash and the parallel SIRS/MAAM, so thank you to all who pointed those out! Lots of other pleasures in the grid, too: HIMALAYANS, CHAI LATTE, CHROME, TOPEKA.... The puzzle was a breeze to solve and a breath of fresh air.

As an example of this pronoun usage: my daughter is a college prof and includes this paragraph in her syllabus:
Which pronouns would you like us to use in this class? For some people, the question of pronouns is a recurring one; others may be unaccustomed to thinking about it with regard to themselves. You will have an opportunity to introduce yourself in your chat [the course is online] and include the pronouns you would like to use. Whether or not you choose to share, I encourage everyone to consider the question of pronoun use; you may share what you wish pronoun-wise, which may be nothing at all. If you have concerns about pronoun use during discussion, please feel free to DM me. (You can call me ; she/her/hers.)."

@David Steinberg, I think this is one of your best. Thanks.

Frantic Sloth 9:41 AM  

***Wit Twister Alert***


Speedweeder 9:41 AM  

@Twangster 8:24 - **** Spoiler alert ****

I'm sure a dozen people will have posted this already, but I think the first word you are looking for is raptly.

Dexter Green 9:46 AM  

To Twangster: Saturday's anagram answers: paltry, partly raptly. The order here is not correct.

Smith 9:51 AM  

@Jeffrey 5:25

Some folks put it after their sig to indicate preference ie,

Anonymous 9:53 AM  

Did anyone else smile at the intersection of TRUE and SCUM on a PRONOUNS themed puzzle? Or is truscum not really a thing outside of the trans community?

Anonymous 9:54 AM  

What the ****does “adulted” mean? And “Boss of Cross”? Is that English?
And what is BTS?

TJS 9:56 AM  

Good puzzle for a Tuesday. Not crazy about "But Hey" but lots of good longs.

So anyone who does not play the personal pronoun options game is a "bigot". How very enlightened of you, @Adam.

MofromLI 10:06 AM  

Ok..chai latte is a thing? Ugh

EdFromHackensack 10:06 AM  

I did not really notice the big slash until someone mentioned it here. As someone who makes a FBPOST once a day, I’ve never seen “FBPOST” anywhere. I watched GoT early on, but then I think there was an incest scene that turned me off so I stopped watching. Liked the puzzle. A little harder than a normal Tuesday but I am not complaining. Cheers all.

JD 10:17 AM  

Ok @(Fan) Girl πŸ’œ, I watched the video because of your post and a recent KPop answer (made me sneer) that made it into a grid.

Anyone who needs a shot of joy, watch the video. Motown to Kotown. Seriously, like today's puzzle it's fun for all ages.

Anonymous 10:18 AM  

Twangster, I figured out the Wit Twister, with the aid of a thesaurus and an anagram solver.
Here are some hints:
- the first word is a synonym for absorbedly or fascinatedly
- the second word is a synonym for somewhat
- the last word is a synonym for meager

The first two words are adverbs, so end in the same two letters. The third word has those letters in places #3 and #6 in its six letters.

Besides the last letter of the two adverbs, there is only one vowel, which is at place #2 in all 3 words.

And a giveaway hint:
The last word sounds very similar to a 7-letter word that is the food category that chicken or duck would be in. All the same consonants, in the same order.

Bob, the rookie. 10:35 AM  

Thank you Clare for the positive summary! I enjoyed the puzzle but feared double THEs would lead to a BROUHAHA from Rex. Not sure about the BTS plug though. Another boy band is not my cup of CHAILATTE, but happy that your finding enjoyment in music.
- BD

Nancy 10:48 AM  

@Twangster (8:24) -- It's not your fault, you poor, unfairly treated solver: THE DAMNED VERSE DOESN'T SCAN!!! There are two syllables too many in the first line. Here are the answers. Spoiler alert for anyone still planning to do the Wit Twister puzzle from last Saturday.

Raptly; partly; paltry.

You can't imagine how this "Amateur Hour" version of a type of puzzle that I also create and that I sent 41 samples of two WS over two years ago infuriates me. He's hired a person to do them whose verses as often as not don't scan properly and sometimes don't scan at all. Every single one of my Wit Twisters (or anagrammed poems as I called them in my cover letter) scan perfectly. If they don't, you're not playing fair with the solver, who relies on scansion to know the number of syllables and where the stresses of those syllables go in the missing word.

Here's an example of one of mine, @Twangster. The scansion is absolutely precise. Why not give it a whirl. Five letters.


The ----- today wasn't fiendish enough.
The editor just made it tougher.
He wants all our ----- to be dripping with sweat,
He wants all us solvers to suffer.
Now you know the -----; it's a Saturday grid,
The clues will be weird and Shortz-sited,
The answers as long as a passage of -----,
Your ev'ry attempt will be blighted.
And just as a ----- is a thing that will grow
From a seed to a bean to a bean dish,
A puzzle's a thing that will grow through the week
From the docile and sweet to the fiendish.

egsforbreakfast 10:54 AM  

@ Birchbark 9:20. At first I thought your CHAILATTEd joke was headed toward Brew Ha Has, which could be something to do with giggles and beer.

Liked the puzzle, but have one, admittedly nitty, question about current use of pronouns. 52A is clued as “Gender identifiers often separated by slashes.” It doesn’t specifically say that it is referencing the grey answers, but I took it that way. So, the question is, are THEY/THEM gender identifiers? Or am I overattibuting meaning to 52A?

Whatsername 11:05 AM  

I loved the puzzle and the theme, especially the elegance in the grid layout. The staggered cascade of the shaded themers with PERSONAL headlining and PRONOUNS trailing is a thing of beauty. Thank you Mr. Steinberg, for this lovely work of art. If you are not currently holding classes on crossword construction, you should be.

I’ll take a MAI TAI with dinner, a MIMOSA at brunch or a LEMON TEA anytime, but I’ll pass on the CHAI LATTE. Chai tea is great but that sounds just awful.

Clare, good to see you again, nice review. HBO/MAX is a package of premium movie channels offered by most suppliers of TV services. They are all overpriced IMO but HBO/Cinemax is one of the better options.

@Frantic (3:49) You’ve got my vote. πŸ˜‚

go ahead, please troll me 11:09 AM  

I love all the pretending how great this puzzle wasn't
virtue signaling at its finest, that expression is not dead
who it applies to has been selective

Just as yesterday's terrible puzzle gone soft upon because it was a statistically badly-needed female constructor

Feel the Love

What? 11:19 AM  

Very pleasant puzzle and not only because I finished it as fast as I could write.

Twangster 11:20 AM  

Thanks so much, Nancy. I figured out yours – good one!

ChuckD 11:25 AM  

@Z - based on the takes here you could be right. I’m staring at 4 discrete work emails received this morning all with declared pronouns in the signature so I guess it’s environment dependent.

Z 11:36 AM  

@Southside Johnny - Early week I think I know 80% or more. Saturday it might be as low as 25% and there are times it feels like 0%. A big thing with short PPP is I ignore what I don’t know in the clue and focus on what is sussable. Lots of it turns out to be relatively common, ELSA or Ned Stark. Some of it is a variation of the common like ROBB Stark. No need to have watched Frozen or GoT. Other times I just have to rely on crosses, say for someone like Snape from Harry Potter. Fortunately, for the short fill, names tend to appear often if they have useful letters and reasonable lengths. So a Ned Stark appears more often than a ROBB or Arya Stark or Jon Snow. Cersei Lannister isn’t going to appear very often.
Long names are another thing altogether. When I don’t know a PPP answer it’s an exercise in getting the crosses and looking for patterns. That’s part of what makes Saturdays challenging, long PPP that hasn’t appeared repeatedly before. It’s the day we might see Cersei Lannister or her equivalent from some 19th century opera.

@egs - Gender neutral is a gender.

@TJS - Pretty much. And it’s not a game.

Masked and Anonymous 11:55 AM  

Didn't know about the whole SHE/HER etc practice of addin such slashed pronouns to one's email signatures. Learned somethin new, there. And, as others have noted, primo ginormous slash puzgridart.

staff weeject pick: ITD. Pro-noun-y-ish.

Fairly easy solvequest, at our house, other than I lost precious nanoseconds in the NW corner, due to FBPOSTS/BROUHAHA. Made sense of em eventually, but had to smoke em out from fillin in a lotta the crossers. Similar problem in the SE, with CHAILATTE/TRITIP.

sparkly moments of filldom included: OKTHEN. BUTHEY. MIMOSAS. INTERVIEW. SIGNED. Musical CHAIRS [Had COMEDY there, at first, until I couldn't roller-skate in a buffalo HEdD].

Clues weren't overly scrappy … only spotted one ?-mark clue [for SALAD]. The MOM clue was sorta cheeky, but I nailed it mighty pronto.

Thanx and welcome back, Steinberg dude. Nice slasher puz. fave slasher: SCUM/SIRI.
Darn good sub-job, @Clare darlin. Safely learn up a storm, U masked student U.

Masked & Anonymo5Us

Ernonymous 12:11 PM  

I watched first season and half of second of Game of Thrones, which is enough to know the crossword stuff. I'm happy that worked out. I dont know why I didn't finish the series, but I'm pretty sure because I'm scared and peeing my pants every time I watch it. @Z don't forget LENA Headey is also coming up who is the actress who played Cersei Lannister.

GILL I. 12:20 PM  

You start my day with @JD and her Boss of Cross, add me some @Frantic and her Lez Prez, a sprinkle of our friend, @Joe D and his butterfly flap, and I'll be drinking a MAI TAI before you can say Jack Rabbit.
So, first off: made me look up the BTS and the "Dynamite" hit. I've never heard of them but they sure are cute. If I were, oh , say, about 40 years younger, I'd go sniffing around the attic and pull out my thigh high go-go boots and do a little boogie with them. Alas....I've reached the creaky "shuffle" age and I'm afraid I'd make an ass of myself.
We need our friend @Loren to be here and tell us a story about pronouns. She's been AWOL for so long, I've forgotten what she looks like.
I had fun with this until I got to your SALAD. Why do American eat salad as the first course? All it does its fill you u before you can enjoy the boeuf en croute. Be civil and eat it with your meal, or be it at the end so that you can digest your food, and then stuff yourself silly with some frommage. (French, of course).
Ooooh....I just read @Nancy. Does Master Steinberg bring out the best of the commenters ? this is fun.
Speaking of MAI TAI's....@chefwen, I never used to like them because I thought they were too sweet. Then my son-in-law made one for me that made me want to "kiss this guy." I'm not really into sweet drinks, preferring to share a Talisker with @JC66, but I'm up for anything new.
Less smokey today. How are things in San Francisco, @mathgent?
Oh, and @pablito...Of course GoT is violent. That's what makes it so interesting. Sister sleeping with brother, beheadings, lust, name it. has dragons and I love dragons.

Crimson Devil 12:34 PM  

Nice puz.
Excellent write-up virtuaLLL Clare.
BROUHAHA great word, reminds of rhubarb.
BUTHEY quite good.

Teedmn 1:13 PM  

BUT HEY, OK THEN. Actually, seeing HEY in the puzzle makes me think of this cartoon.

I think ETA as clued for 55D should have been at the top of the puzzle, and MADE IT, 17A, should have been at the bottom.

David Steinberg, another nice puzzle and a Tuesday to boot!

Anonymous 1:13 PM  

For those interested, once AT&T bought up the parent of HBO, DISH dropped it, citing exorbitant pricing. I can't find a list of cable/sat systems that have done the same since the 2018 buyout, but Amazon and Roku are making the same complaint with the latest HBO offering. Treat the customer well. Ain't American capitalism great? And, btw, recent figures show folks fleeing AT&T satellite. The customer is always right.

Birchbark 1:31 PM  

@egsforbreakfast (10:54)re CHAI LATTE BRewHAHAs -- A brilliant improvement. Well said.

bocamp 1:34 PM  

Thank you @David for another skookum puzzle! Especially liked "fbposts" although some have said it's not "a thing". As @Z indicated (and my friend Google backs him up) it's definitely a written "thing". However, I just said it 5 times quickly without so much as a flub, so now it's absolutely a spoken "thing". Next time I F.T. w/ my daughter-in-law, I'm going to try it out on her, as she is an avid "FB"er.

JD 1:43 PM  

@Gil, Damn, I wish I'd saved my gogo boots!

So many interesting comments. Brings to mind my favorite Dylan lyric from back in the day. What goes around, comes around.

Come mothers and fathers
Throughout the land
And don't criticize
What you can't understand
Your sons and your daughters
Are beyond your command
Your old road is rapidly agin'
Please get out of the new one
If you can't lend your hand
For the times they are a-changin'

jae 1:49 PM  

Easy-medium. The NE was on the tough side. Smooth, clever, timely, liked it. Jeff gave it POW.

SouthsideJohnny 2:12 PM  

@Z - wow, 80% - I'm definitely envious. I do rely on the crosses as you mentioned and attempt to suss out what might be a plausible answer. The real difficulty is when you have PPP crossing each other and you venture into the dreaded Natick territory.

I have come very, very close to completing a Sunday puzzle without assistance on several occasions (but as of yet, have not been quite able to grab the gold ring). Every time I could not close it out was due to two trivia answers crossing which I was unable to discern. I contend that a reasonably proficient solver should at least have a fighting chance at completion without falling victim to "either you know it or you don't" trivia entries crossing. Apparently the powers that be at the Times do not share my viewpoint on that aspect of the solving experience though.

Anonymous 2:26 PM  

Hey all,
Help me out please. I see the CDC breaking down Covid deaths by male and female. I don't see any other genders? Dont they/ xe/ xem/ dem/dose not respect the other 65 genders? Asking for a friend. Thanks

bertoray 2:34 PM  

Refreshing write up. Thanks Clare.
Like @Nancy, I initially had CHOIR/PERSONoL entered.
On a plate or a puzzle I love seeing TRITIP.

naomio 2:46 PM  

raptly partly paltry

RooMonster 2:55 PM  

@Anon 2:26
Please don't use Hey All - that's my schtick.
That wasn't me, BTW.
Just trying to keep my sanity and respect here. ☺️

RooMonster Hey All Only Guy

bocamp 2:57 PM  

@Clair – enjoyed your comments, as always! I do take issue with your "junk" list, tho. I guess it's somewhat obligatory for guest commentators to include a "junk" list, but why would a top pro like David Steinberg include anything but the best possible fill for the 3 & 4 letter fill that is inevitably crucial to the panache of any crossword puzzle? ELSA, GPS, KIM, ETA are all current and fresh, IMO; They're friends I don't mind seeing, especially when they're needed as supporting actors, so to speak. BTW, the inclusion of "Kim" (being the most common South Korean surname) affords, IMO, a segue into your BTS K-pop vid (which certainly did provide an energy boast for me). In fact I now have enough energy to write and say "FB post" "FB post" "FB post" "FB post""FB post" five more times (I had already said it 5 times without a flub (as I indicated in a previous post); it is a "thing". Your dad was blessed to have had the opportunity to interview the classy Arthur Ashe. All the best with your virtual 3L studies!

jberg 3:04 PM  

@Z, @ChuckD -- Yeah, I was surprised too - not whether people like or dislike listing one's pronouns, but by the number of people who've never seen it done. Also who don't know the word "cis" (hint -- it's the opposite of trans).

You do usually get a possessive along with the other two, but that wouldn't work with the big slash, so I thought it was worth giving one up.

@Nancy, that anagram poem is really tough! You sent it to me a couple of years ago, and I figured it out then, but now I can't make any headway with it. Don't tell me, though! I'll keep working on it.

@Anonymous 9:54, you have a blue name but there is no information in your profile. Didn't know you could even do that, but why do you want to? But to answer your question, adulted is a back formation from "adulting" which is what people in their early 20s call it when they learn how to wash their own laundry.

Z 3:21 PM  

@Southside Johnny - I contend that a reasonably proficient solver should at least have a fighting chance at completion without falling victim to "either you know it or you don't" trivia entries crossing. You and me both and we aren’t alone. Two arcane PPP crossing at a vowel is the absolute worst.

Anonymous 4:08 PM  

Sorry Roo,
Didn’t mean to step on your toes. Or is it tail?
In any event, since you’ve made a point of claiming a common phrase as yours and yours alone, I think I’ll use it. What’s the harm? You sign your, let’s call them musings. Me? I’m just a Will-O-The-Wisp. A few bits that go whoosh in the vacuous void we call RexWorld.
And surely not even the dullest folks hereabouts— side eye at a prolific bloviator who shall remain nameless- would mistake our posts.
Mine are riddled with logic and typos. Yours... with riddles.

Peace out monster from Down Under.

pabloinnh 4:17 PM  

@GILL I-amiguita mia-

If GoT just had dragons, I'd always watch it. It's the "beheadings and blood" that I don't find interesting, just icky. En cada pais su uso.

@Crimson Devil- I read somewhere that background actors on radio used to mutter "rhubarb" over and over to simulate crowd noise. I wonder if that's true. Seems like it could be.

@JD-Sang that one last week at our hootenanny for the first time in a long time. Still hoping the optimistic tone is not misplaced.

Anoa Bob 5:01 PM  

Okay, got the "personal pronouns" part of the theme, but am flummoxed over the "gender identifiers" part. How can THEY/THEM qualify as "gender identifiers"? And I join the commenters who questioned the SHE/HER and HE/HIM pairs as actually existing in the wild. Anybody ever see those slashed combos outside of today's grid? With so many of yous smart cookies lavishing unconditional praise on this one, I must be missing something here. (Wouldn't be the first time.)

Ernonymous 5:20 PM  

@anoa Bob if you google "non-binary gender" to the Wikipedia entry it can explain better than I can. The paragraph on Pronouns in that article explains the they/them which is how some non-binary and gender fluid people prefer to be referred to instead if he/him or she/her.

Gary 5:38 PM  

Very much enjoyed this one... until I got the “Keep Trying” warning when my fill was complete.

I guess I was too short-sighted by my lack of love for long-haired cats to recognize (despite multiple reviews) the error in my ways:
HIMALAiANS should never cross MiOPIC


Bill L. 5:48 PM  

See Erik Agard for instance.

bocamp 6:10 PM  

Informative article: Should You Put Pronouns In Email Signatures And Social Media Bios?

Sis, not cis 6:10 PM  

I want trans people to have a full, happy and rewarding life. I want them to be respected and feel comfortable with whatever gender identity and pronouns they have chosen for themselves. But I also want them to respect me.

I am not a "cis-woman". I am a woman. I have always been a woman. I insist on my right to always be referred to as a woman and to never be referred to as a cis-woman. Feel free to choose any identity you like, trans people, but please understand that you're not at liberty to alter or fudge mine.

Anonymous 6:16 PM  

Nancy, can I have some hints to your puzzle?
-Does the last blank refer to a bean dish? Or is it a type of bean?
-Is it five different letters?
-What would be the order of the blanks if they were in alphabetical order?

Ernonymous 7:04 PM  

@sis not cis why does it bother you so much to be referred to as a cis-woman? People aren't actually calling you that, to your face, as in: hey cis-woman, come over here". If anything, it would not be used in your presence at all but in a more generic way in writing.

And they are not "altering" or "fudging" your identity. You are either trans or non-trans (cis). You are still a woman. It is to distinguish you from trans, so what is the big deal?

Nancy 7:06 PM  

Anon (6:16) Big hint. (Don't look anyone who doesn't want a big hint.) Scroll way down...

Three of the five missing words begin with a "P".

Runs with Scissors 7:10 PM  

Short version -

I enjoyed the puzzle. But then, I always do.

A slasher puzzle...I didn't actually notice.

Mai Tais, and Blue Hawaiians, can result in technicolor yawns (love the Aussie vernacular).

HIMALAYANS...needed some yaks.

I cut the cord, got rid of the satellite dish, put up an OTA antenna last September. I think it's been 6 weeks since I turned on a TV. Books are better.

For those who have never heard of, or consumed, TRITIP: it must be BBQd. Period. It can't be done any other way. And once you do have it, you'll realize it's one of the best cuts extant.

Am I the only one to think it? I don't care what pronouns you use. If I'm speaking to you I'll use your name; if I'm referring to you it'll be as whatever seems most appropriate. I am certainly not going to remember your preference.

Somewhere behind the Orange Curtain

Anonymous 7:40 PM  

I prefer to refer to myself as the King of France. Should you oblige me?
Sis, not cis is of course correct. Why should the normative identify be modified. Set aside any judgment, surely any person who claims to be trans is a deviant. That is to say, a deviation from the norm. To modify the standard is to undermine it. That’s why cis gender is pernicious.

Anonymous 7:49 PM  

No one is calling you a jerk to your face. Why are you bothered that they refer to you that way unbeknownst to you?

This is logically equivalent to Giovani's claim. That the folks who patrol this blog are sympathetic to his argument does not refute mine.

RooMonster 8:04 PM  

Two things:
@Anon 4:08
Har! And touchΓ©. I reread my last post, and I sounded like an a-hole! Didn't mean it that way... Ah, texting... (or blogging, really)

Figured it out with your P hint. I had given up! Thanks.


TTrimble 8:34 PM  

@Giovanni 7:04
I am puzzled by your stance. Suppose someone calls herself a woman. She might be trans, but she prefers to identify simply as a woman, without having anyone making inferences or guesses one way or another. Why should that not be honored?

Anonymous 9:04 PM  

You’re as far from an A-hole as is humanly possible. The fault was mine. Hey all is all yours, and rightly so.
Peace my brother.

Sis, not cis 9:51 PM  

@Anonymous 7:40 -- "To modify the standard is to undermine it." And "pernicious" is the perfect adjective to describe the effect. You've captured precisely why the term "cis woman" bothers me so much, only you've said it much better than I did.

I strongly agree that the very term "woman" is being [deliberately] undermined by qualifying it. I suspect that's the idea -- to make sure that there's no such thing any more as an ordinary woman. To rejigger the identity of half the human race in order to make the point that you're no more an outsider than anyone else is the height of chutzpah and hubris.

Ernonymous 10:33 PM  

I should have been more clear. Whatever one wants to call themselves, or how they think of themselves is fine. A transwoman can of course refer herself and think of herself as a woman. She is a woman, 100% a woman. A cis woman can also refer to herself as a woman.

Trans and cis-gender are descriptions. These terms exist in vocabulary.They are descriptive terms, use to describe. They are not what someone "is". That was my mistake, when I wrote you are one or the other. You can be what you want. You are whatever you know you are.
These terms are used by people, usually in writing, to describe, not to describe a person's true essense. I don't know how you could take the words trans and cisgender out of vocabulary. I think if someone were doing an academic paper and used these terms in description, it should not be offensive to anyone, because it's being used in a general way to describe. When the first poster said she was offended by the use of the word, I was puzzled as no one is in particular specifically calling her a cis woman, however in an essay, she may be put into a group and referred to that way by the author, and I didn't understand how that would offend anyone.
I understand this is a serious issue, it is literally a persons life. I have a cousin who I am very close with, that is, well a woman, and things have been difficult for her. I was not trying to be insensitive or flippant.

Anonymous 10:45 PM  

Nancy, it’s anon at 6:16 again. I’m just not getting it. I just can’t get my brain to work right on this! Can you “spill the beans” about the five words?

Anonymous 10:49 PM  

@Giovanni- I thought this was a crossword blog. Opinions are like a-holes. Everybody has one.

A trans solver 11:04 PM  

Came hoping the comments wouldn’t disappoint...and was disappointed.

Thanks @Giovanni (and others). No thanks for quite a few other comments here. I thought they were moderated.

TTrimble 11:37 PM  

@Giovanni 10:33
Thanks for explaining. Your position seems clear enough, and reasonable enough to me. I too can't see a harm, in the context of an academic paper in sociology, and for the purpose of maintaining clear conceptual distinctions relevant to the paper, in referring to cis- and trans-. (I mean, after all, there *is* a clear conceptual distinction.) And of course, if a person explicitly identifies as cis- or trans-, then no harm. In ordinary discourse, one must simply listen and go by the personal preference, and no further.

The word "deviant" is interesting -- somewhat akin to a wolf whistle. Consider calling someone a "sexual deviant". There is just enough plausible deniability where someone using the phrase could fall back on, "no, all I meant was deviating from the norm by one standard deviation" (or whatever). At the same time, the phrase itself unquestionably carries a taint of referring to something considered unacceptable in society, if not something outright criminal.

Nancy 10:07 AM  

Anon 6:16 -- SPOILER ALERT for everyone else. (Scroll down)

I'm giving you the last one -- the hardest one, the one you asked for: SPORE. You do the rest: I have full confidence in you! :)

Adam Cooperman 4:56 AM  

Bigots tend to get mad when they see people who list their pronouns and mock them for it. That's how they out themselves. I wouldn't consider somebody a bigot for omitting (intentionally or not) their pronouns somewhere.

That said, the way you talk about pronouns it seems like you've kinda outed yourself here.

thefogman 10:14 AM  

Not bad. Bonus (gender-neutral) pronoun THOU at 24D.

Burma Shave 10:55 AM  


BUT,HEY, WHO RANKED WHO was persuaded?


spacecraft 11:37 AM  

Typical early-week hack job, to me. A weakish theme, with (ugh!) shaded squares, the old crutch vowel string and other fill woes...and then I saw the byline. WHAT?!? Are there two Davis Steinbergs? (Actually, there are probably dozens.) BUTHEY, the one associated with crosswords surely didn't crank out this one, did he?

The most praiseworthy entry in the grid is a PPP: ARTHURASHE. That and DOD TARA Reid. I had no idea that HIMALAYANS were anything but mountains, much less how to describe cats native (presumably) to there, so points for education on that one. But CHAILATTE? Yuk. and FBPOSTS; no fan of double-letter add-ons. This is so far beneath DS' usual standard, it makes me think he's out of money and desperately needed a sale. Bogey.

Anonymous 11:47 AM  

In my experience these slashed gender identifiers are most helpful with names like Chris, Pat, or Dana, etc. Otherwise they are being overused by the supposed ‘woke’ folks and others trying to appear ‘correct’ with way too much focus on gender. I don’t care about your private parts. Gettest THOU the job done SIRS and MAAM and I don’t care about your gender, or your PERSONAL PRONOUNS. ARETHA gets some respect today. I imagine there was a purpose for putting in this DS puz.

rondo 1:11 PM  

@spacey – these days in the government/corporate world there is often an add-on to a person’s pre-set email signature declaring by which PRONOUNS they prefer to be called/referred. It usually looks like this:
(Pronouns: She/Her/Hers)
I find it tiresome. Notice the slash, similar to the black square slash through the heart of the puz.

And Mr. Steinberg doesn’t *need* to sell to the NYT. He is the editor of the Universal Crossword as found in the Mpls Star-Tribune and other fine fish wrappers near you. I suspect that this puz publication was meant as a statement.
Agree on TARA Reid.

leftcoaster 2:11 PM  

Lots of PPP here, BUTHEY, that’s what the puzzle is about.
Liked it.

rainforest 2:42 PM  

This is a pro's pro doing a Tuesday in a very satisfying puzzle. Simple but well-presented theme with a nod to modern usage. There *were* a few crosswordese entries, BUT HEY, they were used in service to some great answers. I once had a tenant who owned a HIMALAYAN cat - a beautiful and visceral animal.

MIMOSAS, BROUHAHA, CHAI LATTE (I agree-yuk), ARTHUR ASHE, ARETHA really helped with the overall sense of the puzzle. I'm a fan.

Diana, LIW 5:53 PM  

Count on David to save the day after yesterday's MoanDay puzzle. Good times were had here!

Diana, LIW for Crosswords

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