American pop-rock band composed of three sisters / WED 10-21-20 / Brew with hipster cred / Some derivative stories colloquially

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Constructor: Dory Mintz

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging (high 4s)


THEME: city puns — familiar phrases where first word is swapped out for a homophone that is also the name of a city; clues are wacky, of course:

Theme answers:
  • BERN BRIDGES (17A: Ways to cross a river in Switzerland?)
  • CANNES OPENER (28A: First showing at a film festival in France?)
  • DELHI COUNTER (44A: Census taker in India?)
  • SEOUL SEARCH (58A: Police dragnet in South Korea)
Word of the Day: BABU (1D: Hindu title of respect) —
The title babu, also spelled baboo, is used in the Indian subcontinent as a sign of respect towards men. In some cultures, the term 'Babu' is a term of endearment for a loved one as well. The honorific "ji" is sometimes added as a suffix to create the double honorific "babuji" which, in northern and eastern parts of India, is a term of respect for one's father. (wikipedia)
• • •

When I finished this, I assumed it had been written by an older person. By "older" I mean significantly older than me, and I'm 50. I also assumed "Dory" was a woman. Wrong on both counts! This theme is so slight and so stale that I'm genuinely stunned the puzzle was accepted. This feels like something straight out of the pre-Shortzian era. City puns? Some version of this theme has to have been done roughly 2000 times in the past half century. What's worse, the puns don't even result in funny or even genuinely wacky clues. They're leaden. Obvious. Plain. Boring. The only evidence I have that a bot programmed to think like a Baby Boomer who stopped solving puzzles in 1985 didn't make this puzzle was the clue on HAIM (6D: American pop-rock band composed of three sisters) and the freakishly (for this puzzle) current phrase, "I CAN'T EVEN ..." The whole frame of reference in this puzzle is largely bygone. I guess SOCHI wouldn't have been crossword-famous before 2014, but still, in fill and especially in concept, this puzzle seems like something straight out of the IMUS era (not sure exactly when that was, but most of it was not in this century, that I know). 


It was also maddeningly hard ... or ... futzy, I guess ... to get through. Does PBR still have "hipster cred" (5D: Brew with hipster cred)? That clue feels like it's from the '00s. I wrote in IPA there, which felt ... not dead on, but close. So that messed things up. I don't remember GTE at all (31A: Co. that merged into Verizon); don't think I ever dealt with them in any way. So that initialism was a mystery (I had ATT I think, even though they're obviously still around and haven't merged with Verizon). I wrote in LARSON, thinking of 2015 Best Actress Oscar winner Brie LARSON, instead of actress ALISON Brie, which is weird because I watched and loved "Mad Men" and know very well who ALISON Brie is (she played Pete's wife; she was also in the sitcom "Community"). So that error is very much on me. Ugh, really wanted RAMP before RAIL (30D: Skate park feature), and that one nearly killed me (because RA- was correct, I almost didn't notice the errors in the crosses). But the area that really slowed me down the most was the SE—total train wreck, starting with SCADS for SLEWS (49A: Loads). Later, BENCH for STOOP (55A: Urban sitting spot). Later still, MEALY for WORMY (50D: Like a bad apple). Jeez, WORMY? That's really, really bad. I've never had a WORMY apple. Yikes. Also could not make any sense of PHON-, which is easily the yuckiest bit of fill in the whole grid (56D: Sound: Prefix)


Still mad that CANNES and CAEN are in the same puzzle. Two French cities? With names that are ... well, not identical in pronunciation, but PRETTY damn close? And those two answers *cross* each other? And one of them (CAEN) is hardcore crosswordese? That's a lot of "no." BABU is interesting in that it's a real term that also definitely belongs to times of yore where crossword frequency is concerned. It appeared just last year, actually, but before that, only twice since 1997 (!). Whereas from 1948-88 it appeared some twenty-one times. It baffled me, for sure. But it didn't irk me the way, say, AU LAIT on its own did. Hey, somebody do an AU LAIT / OLÉ! / OLAY theme, quick! There's gotta be a way. Yes, it's a terrible idea, but better to be a spectacular failure than the lukewarm (re)hash that is this puzzle.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld 

P.S. I forgot to credit FANFIC as curent-ish (4D: Some derivative stories, colloquially). My apologies.

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]

138 comments:

Frantic Sloth 12:03 AM  

Saved PBR/BARUCH/HAIM for last because WTH??
Somehow I dredged BARUCH from deep within the echoing caverns of my mind and that helped me overcome the roadblock.
But PBR and HAIM could knock me out and steal my lunch money and I still wouldn't recognize either in a lineup.

Otherwise, the theme was cute if unexciting - but not bad for yet another debut! So many of these cropping up lately. (What's that about?)
It played a little tough for a Wednesdee for me, but I like when that happens.
Overall, an enjoyable solve.

Loved BERNBRIDGES in Norma Rae.

Discovery of the day:
I can't believe IMHO and IHOP both are in this grid. A sighting of either takes me back to 2/6/2020 and OFL's coinage of one of my favorite Rexisms and having them together is like coming home to the dog sitting in your "bark"alounger, wearing your smoking jacket and fave slippers, puffing on you pipe, and reading the WSJ. You can only hope for, but don't dare expect it - too joyous for words, In My Humble Opinion Pancakes.

🧠🧠.5
🎉🎉🎉

Harryp 12:08 AM  

Xword Info calls these Homophones, but I want to call them puns or plays on words. I know there is a difference, but I can't see a big one. Yet another debut puzzle, and it was a slightly challenging solve, especially since I had sABU at 1Down and that made BEEF hard to see. Great first acceptance, since I am sure others were rejected.

jae 12:08 AM  

On the tough side. Has AOL before GTE which took a while to fix, plus I’m not sure REV means “supercharge”.

I’m an ALISON Brie fan. I’m currently rewatching Community and she is delightful. I would also recommend the Netflix series Glow.

Liked the puzzle more than @Rex did. Nice debut.

SaltySolver 12:14 AM  

Found this one pretty breezy except for the NW which was a bit of a nightmare to untangle.

I think of having a BEEF with someone and not it being just a complaint or bellyache so that took almost every down (had to guess on BABU too).

Speaking of having a BEEF, my absolute biggest complaint is that if you're going to do "for short" get rid of the OF and just make the answer to 20A USA -- USOFA feels grossly crossword-ese and kind of dated. Does anyone say US of A in real conversation or is it just musty pop culture references?

Also didn't really like EGEST, which sure is a thing, but again isn't something you encounter in real life. That and FANFIC felt pretty tough when you don't have any supporting crosses to help. All of those things (and struggling to remember Bern, Switzerland) made for a pretty rocky go and frustrating finish in the NW.

Joaquin 12:15 AM  

@Rex complains that the theme of today's puzzle is "stale". I have been doing the NYTXW since before @Rex was born (really!) and the fact that the theme had been done before in no way impacted my enjoyment of the solve. Would Rex pan every new comic book that featured a superhero because superheroes have been done before?

RJStanford 12:17 AM  

I guesses correctly on HAIM/BARUCH but that was definitely a Natick for me.

km3t 12:29 AM  

I can't remember the last time I was naticked as badly in the top centre with PBR/ BARUCH College/ and HAIM, which is a yukky word usually clued as the actor Cory. If you haven't heard of the college or the band, then you're pretty much SOL.

I'm usually pretty slow to criticize NY-focused stuff because, um, it's the NYT after all so I guess as a west-coaster this type of thing is going to pop up and I just have to deal with it. But really? This section was ugly.

bocamp 12:37 AM  

• Thx, @Dory for this multicultural feast. A fine puzzle and
entertaining solving experience! :)

• New to me were "Baruch" and "Haim", so "whack-a-vowel" at the "a",
which just looked better than the alternatives.

Baruch College

Haim (band)

• Ave. solve time.

• NW came together nicely and the rest of the fill went in without
much resistance, except for a minor glitch at 31A, where I dropped
"aol" in. Didn't take but a jiffy to see that "alum" had to be
"grad" and "GTE" was the fix. The last cell to fill was the "a"
15A/6D.

Overall, a very pleasant world trip! :)


Peace Bachialaxpúua 和平 Frieden शांति Paz 平和 Paix 평화 Mir 🕊

Pamela 12:42 AM  

I had fun. DELHICOUNTER was my fave.

****SB ALERT****

Queened for the first time in ages! Whoopee!

okanaganer 12:54 AM  

Double native language homophone mismatch warning! CANNES in French is not "can", it's "cah-nu". BERN in German is not "burn", it's "bairn".

Odd that we all pronounce certain foreign phrases quite accurately, for instance AU LAIT. One could be forgiven for thinking it is "aw late" rather than "oh lay".

Will and co. sure do go to extreme lengths on the clues for some routine short fill. 11 across is a 52 letter clue for a forgettable 3 letter answer!

(But I am so grateful there are no stupid college initials today. Yesterday there were two, and they were both clued via stupid stupid stupid mascot/nickname clues. Which I really really hate, if it's not obvious.)

The "Halloween time" clue reminds me that I'm not sure what to do 11 days from now. In Canada our national health official has green-lighted Halloween trickortreating, recommending using a hockey stick (or more practically if less patriotically, tongs) to dispense candy. But plan for how many kids? I usually get 150 to 250 kids, and if I estimate low I'm in a panic to shut off the lights and close the gate at 7 pm; if I estimate high, there's a pile of leftover candy at about 9 pm. Will there be fewer than normal? What to do...

chefwen 2:40 AM  

I kinda liked this one, thought it was fun. Unlike OFL I’m easily pleased. All the theme answers brought a smile and a chuckle. BERN BRIDGES won.

Had a Natick moment with the BARUCH HAIM crossing but guessed right with the A. Hadn’t heard of either.

Like Rex I had mealy before WORMY with my bad apple. I think I would swear off apples forever if I found a worm in one. ICK!

Dad Joker 4:11 AM  

Q: What's worse than finding a WORM in your apple?



A: Finding half a worm.

Taffy-Kun 4:44 AM  

36A: There is no direct connection between “Supercharge” and “Rev” - they are two separate processes

Jon Alexander 6:12 AM  

Naticked at HAIM BARUCH cross....last letter in the grid and luckily A came first in my plan to vowel run the square.

Yes...a very stale puzzle

ChuckD 6:16 AM  

Didn’t we just have a punny, homophone theme last week? I could do without it - but I guess it could be worse. Thought the overall fill here was workmanlike - although the grid creates a bunch of short gluey stuff - NAB x HAD and the long down corners. Liked to see BARUCH especially crossing BUGLES. HAIM, BABU/BABA and PHON should have been EGESTed by the editor.

Dreary morning - dreary puzzle.

KM 6:26 AM  

Wow that Northwest was hard. BEEF, BABU, EGEST, FANFIC did me in. Toughest Wednesday I can remember.

Lewis 6:34 AM  

I smiled right from the start in the NW with the first theme answer, plus BABU / BABA, and the good mood continued throughout, with the fun of trying to guess the other theme answers with as little filled in as possible, and with answers like KUMQUAT and I CAN’T EVEN.

I liked the BEEF up, the pair of LIE and backward LIAR, and a pair of excellent NYT answer debuts EVIL WOMAN, and LOCAL NEWS. The salad of easy and not-so-easy clues hit the Wednesday difficulty level right on the nose.

Enjoyable through and through, and a debut that portends well. Thank you and bravo, Dory!

The Joker 6:40 AM  

What's worse that biting into an apple and finding a worm?*



*Biting into an apple and finding half a worm.

Karl Grouch 6:51 AM  

With the exception of the NW area, I found this easy.

I think Rex is a bit too harsh, this puz has a lot of good things:
a clean and open grid, a consistent theme, some nice downs, a couple of original entries..

But I agree that overall it felt a tad stale.
Maybe the themers needed some splitting.

Something along the lines of WASHING TONNAGE, for example
or MAD RIDDLES could have spiced things up a bit.

OffTheGrid 6:56 AM  

I really mostly liked this puzzle. It had some crunch, especially HAIM/PBR/BARUCH. I simply did not know HAIM or BARUCH. MY fault. Should have gotten PBR but it just didn't click. The theme was corny but clever enough and fun. I do have a BEEF however. REV is NOT Supercharge. You can REV any engine, even a lawnmower. I suppose you could supercharge a lawnmower but it's still not the same thing. Edit fail IMHO.

The Joker 6:59 AM  

You beat me to it but I didn't know that when I posted.

thfenn 7:03 AM  

Maybe it's just because I'm 60+ but I wince a little bit every time there are complaints here about a puzzle being old, stale, passe, etc etc. Thought today's was fun and fair play.

Had no idea Pabst Blue Ribbon was hip, glad I still have some every now and then. Never actually heard of 'FANFIC', so learned something there as well, and agree the NW was the toughest part, all the way down to my having Dot crossing Net instead of DAB crossing NAB. But fun in the end, and BERNBRIDGES reminded me of a favorite mixup of my mother's: "Let's burn that bridge when we get to it".

Eric Hoffer was right, and here's hoping TWOTERM is unlike the current presidency.

pabloinnh 7:15 AM  

Hmmm...PBR went right in, remembered Bernard BARUCH, although I had not heard of the college, HAIM (???) was evident from crosses, just sang LYIN'EYES and some other unknowns, e.g. Mad Men references, were easy enough.

My nit is that BERN here functions as a verb and the other cities are adjectival, so an inconsistency there, although not a deal breaker.

My first morning in Madrid la madre served me a big glass(!) of cafe con leche (au lait, ole) which was something new to me, and I had one every morning after without mentioning my surprise, because, well, I was in their country and there to do new things. Haven't had a cafe au lait since, nor wanted one.

Any puzzle with KUMQUAT is OK with me.

Fun enough, DM, and congrats on a debut.

kitshef 7:20 AM  

Okay, now it has to be deliberate. THIRD DAY IN A ROW with an obscure musical name crossing an obscure proper noun. It is as though Will is deliberately trying to turn people off crosswords.

At least we had a nice theme today – nice enough that the puzzle wasn’t completely ruined.

Z 7:46 AM  

BABUji

Puns are fun. Shakespeare loved them so who are we to complain? This took me longer than Saturday’s puzzle, so definitely tough. But KUMQUAT, a fruit that just sounds dirty, improves every puzzle it is in. Put me in the “liked this lots more than Rex” camp.

PBR had hipster cred because it was cheap and just as good as all the other macro pilsners. Then it got hipster cred and stopped being cheap so lost its hipster cred. Like Rex said, this was all happening in the naughts. Now hipsters drink PBR ironically, which is its own sort of hipster cred, I suppose.

Interesting ALISON cover. It is a song I could listen to over and over again. ALISON seems like the kind of person who learned to open doors with just a smile. The best part of ALISON is how Elvis spelled “F U” as “My aim is true.”

Joaquin 7:49 AM  

I'm surprised at how many here have never heard of BARUCH College; it's a major school with close to 20,000 students. But then, HAIM is totlly new to me, and they are a Grammy-nominated, award-winning band.

Part of the joy of doing the NYTXW, includes learning new stuff almost every day.

feinstee 7:55 AM  

And what's GENEVA (35A) doing here without being part of a themer?

SouthsideJohnny 8:00 AM  

A lot of really inexcusable and shoddy entries (and in fact entire sections) today. Increasing an engine’s rpm has no impact on its maximum horsepower - thus, there is no connection between REVing and supercharging - the latter referring to design features. Just inaccurate and lazy cluing. There is no abbreviation in the clue for GRAD so you have two bogus entries crossing each other (another example of the Times publishing something that wouldn’t be acceptable in a high school senior class project).

The whole NE/North section is an absolute mess, especially for a Wednesday. Two foreign words crossing each other (AGRA, BABU) - yuk. Then the parallel stacking of BABA, the awfully clued PBR, and HAIM - crossing BARUCH and you have a truly unique mess, basically Friday-level difficulty and kindergarten-level clueing. Double-yuk.

In addition to the mistakes and a whole amateur-ish sector up north, we are treated to an additional helping of non-English gunk (UNA, ETRE,WEI, CAEN) - this whole thing is embarrassingly inept. I’m surprised that Rex went so lightly on them today.

mmorgan 8:01 AM  

Oh poo, Rex, I thought this was fun and clever, nothing stale about it to me. The themers all worked perfectly as standalone phrases and neither induced nor required any groans. And there was lots of nifty fill. Whatever.

Blackhat 8:29 AM  

9 names, 4 foreign words.

Joe Welling 8:30 AM  

Can you have an ELSE without a "then" in an IF-then-ELSE statement?

Ted 8:33 AM  

I had problem spots all over the puzzle, but the NW was particularly brtual.

BABU and BABA?!!? And both crossing AGRA and USOFA... which were... ugh.

BARUCH?? I'm from just outside NYC, many of my family went to college in the city, and I've never heard of this in my life.

REV is not "supercharge an engine." Just no. You rev when you press the gas pedal, that's it.

What a mess.

mathgent 8:38 AM  

Nice puzzle. Liked the four themers, especially DELHICOUNTER. Also liked the Eric Hoffer quote. I had a boss who would put that thought in cruder terms. “It’s OK to bullshit someone, just don’t bullshit yourself.”

Is HAIM a legitimate entry or junk? There are so many music artists, there’s a good chance that any pronounceable sequence of four letters is such a name. Have many of you heard of them?

Yesterday Jeff Chen had 22 Terrible Threes, today there are 21. Ugly trend developing.

Anonymous 8:38 AM  

Bern / Geneva
Cannes / Caen
Delhi / Agra
Seoul / Sochi

Anonymous 8:42 AM  

@Joe Welling. Yep, Python, for example, uses only IF and ELSE (and ELIF).

RooMonster 8:42 AM  

Hey All !
I like funny, punny, homophones/ sound alike thingamabobs. So this puz tickled my fancy. Most themes have been done before, so what? This one was fun.

To add to the GTE wrongness list, I first had MCI. All these bygone phone companies. Like bygone airlines. Or car makers.

Nice long pairs of Downs in NE/SW. Top half of puz B heavy. No FLOWER to land on today, though.

Add me to the group who never heard of BARUCH College. Where in NY is it? Is it down the road from John Doe college? 😁

Anyway, Congrats to Dory on a fun debut!

Two F's
RooMonster
DarrinV

burtonkd 8:46 AM  

Are CANNES and CAEN pronounced differently? Surprisingly hard to get a good, easy answer on page one of google search. Caen uses the a nasal vowel (like Quand). French Canadian wife pronounces both vowels ah and eh.

@okanager - I don't recall having heard the schwa at the end of Cannes before

@taffy-kun, I was thinking the same. Supercharge is to add equipment like a turbo, where as REV is just hitting the gas and racing the engine, measure on the crosswordese TACH.

Being NYC local, BARUCH was a gimme off the B from hipster centric area fave PBR, which was considered swill in my day.

RJStanford 8:47 AM  

Nope. I had “then” at first also. More so because the phrase is “if then statement” regardless of whether there’s an ELSE attached to it.

algiardello 8:53 AM  

Right on (to use an old-timey phrase). I thoroughly enjoyed this puzzle, including the puns, all of which were new to me.

Nancy 9:03 AM  

I needed CANNES OPENER (which I got off the A and E of CANNES) before I could get the BERN BRIDGES that preceded it. This is because the NW was hard for me. I don't know what FANFIC is, and BABU doesn't sound like anyone's "term of respect" to me. It sort of sounds like a term of disrespect. (Babble; baboon; Bobo the clown; bubblehead.) SRI is my go-to crossword puzzle Hindu term of respect and I'm sticking to it. As have more puzzle constructors than a DELHI COUNTER can count.

And should you really have BABU and BABA in the same puzzle?

After the NW (and AGRA, you were a huge help), it was all pretty smooth sailing. I thought the puzzle was pleasant, if not terribly exciting, and that the themers were well chosen and clued fairly. The surrounding fill was much less successful -- though I do appreciate the extra cities that were tossed in for good measure: SOCHI and GENEVA.

P.S. Maybe someone will explain to me what PBR is and why it has "hipster cred"?

Dexter Green 9:17 AM  

The phonetic spelling of Cannes is "kan" with the n pronounced as the n in pin or nip.

Speed Merchant 9:17 AM  

Super charging increases the pressure or density of air supplied to the engine. This gives each intake cycle more oxygen, letting it burn more fuel and do more work, thus increasing power.

Reving increases the amount of fuel which in turn increase speed.

Two different concepts.

Hungry Mother 9:26 AM  

Except for the Natick, a PRETTY standard Wednesday grid.

R Duke 9:33 AM  

PBR is Pabst Blue Ribbon beer. Got hipster Fred because it’s not a fancy craft beer. Agree with everyone about that NW corner, although knowing Haim helped. check out their current song “The Steps”. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J2O_xa8cems

Carola 9:41 AM  

The theme brought smiles and I enjoyed having to work harder than usual on a Wednesday. For those who, like me, have been doing Times crosswords for EONs: did anyone else, when filling in BERN BRIDGES, think of the old-timey grid staple the Aare, which those bridges cross? I also kinda liked the idea of AGRA-PHOBIA. On the other hand, DO IT x TWO-TERM?

Help from previous puzzles: WEI; do-overs: GTt, RAmp, ScadS, CAb; no idea: HAIM, ALISON, EVIL WOMAN, ELSE as clued.

Edith Piaf 9:43 AM  

@burtonkd: Generally speaking, in French if there is an "e" following a consonant, the consonant is pronounced as in English - say, the 'n' in English "can". You can google "how to pronounce Cannes" or "how to pronounce Caen" and listen to the differences. As for the schwa, I've never heard anyone pronounce Cannes as "cah-nu" (more like CAH-neh), but those "end sounds" become even more pronounced in both French poetry and French songs. Just listen to me sing "La Vie en Rose" and you'll hear the title in 5 distinct syllables.

Hipster Fred 9:45 AM  

Cred

ALPAPilot 9:52 AM  

I enjoyed Caen and Cannes. They sound alike, but in France I don’t think they could be farther apart. I recommend visiting both.

Z 9:53 AM  

@GearHeads - I knew that answer would frustrate you. Unfortunately for you, crossword clues and answers make use of the fact that words, slang words especially, have multiple meanings beyond specific technical meanings. You are hung up on entry one of four in the link. Scroll down to entry two of four and you will find a couple of definitions that work as clued. What you are doing is the same as saying the clue is off because REV is short for Reverend. Yes, I see how the reference to an engine makes the clue seem like it’s being technical. All that means is you got got.

As for the great CANNES debate, Merriam-Webster has a little sound icon you can click on and hear a very American pronunciation, or you can go to the interwebs and find actual French people saying it. Anyway, one syllable pronounced the same as the “can” in “can opener,” but maybe try to be a little less nasally about it for the sake of your listeners.

re: If ELSE statements: Had to do quick boning up on this. An English example would be “If Kershaw pitches in the World Series the way he does in the regular season the Dodgers will win, ELSE it will be the Rays in 5.”

Sixthstone 9:53 AM  

For someone who "enjoys" crosswords, Rex doesn't seem to enjoy them very much, especially if they attempt any theme. Every theme seems to be stale, dull, inscrutable or done a thousand times.

Today's themers are fun. I quite enjoyed them. Tough overall solve in the N/NW for a Monday as many have mentioned. Not really a fan of BABA/BABU but ok. The weakest part of this puzzle was the inclusion of so many non-themer foreign cities (AGRA, CAEN, GENEVA, SOCHI) in a foreign-city-themed puzzle. This weakens the effect and makes it seem a bit of a hodge-podge. MIght as well toss in EUR and USofA for good measure.

Nancy 10:02 AM  

Aha. Pabst Blue Ribbon. Thank you.

I can't remember: Was Pabst "the beer that made Milwaukee famous" or the "beer that made Milwaukee jealous"? I know the other one was Schlitz.

I always thought that Pabst was a good cheap beer. It was my second favorite cheap beer after Budweiser, which was my "house beer". That's when I was young and saving pennies -- before I became a beer snob.* Now my house beers are Sam Adams for a good robust beer and Kirin for a thirst-quencher in hot weather.

The greatest beer I ever drank in a pub was Lowenbrau (imported from Germany) on draft, back in the days before it was bought by Miller and turned into swill.

*It's easy to be a beer snob when you now only drink about two bottles of beer a year. Barely costs you a dime. Beer gives me the hiccups and fills me up long before it creates even the slightest buzz. And it's fattening. It's sort of like drinking a loaf of bread. Now I'm a wine drinker and I look for bargains, since being a wine snob DOES cost money. Big time. You want to find excellent wine at bargain basement prices? Just ask me.

TJS 10:03 AM  

Gee,@Southside, for someone who described himself as an "intermediate level solver" not too long ago, you sure have developed some strong opinions about what constitutes "embarrassingly inept construction".

I thought this was a nice Wednesday level challenge, one of the better ones lately. I think if the clue for "rev" had left off the "as an engine" qualifier, it would have been fine : "Trump hopes debate performance can rev up/supercharge) his campaign". Seems OK for me, although horrifying.

Didn't a Peanuts character refer to her "Sweet Babu"?

Quite a few years ago when I owned a bar outside Chicago, one of our beer distributors dropped off a case of Pabst Blue Ribbon. I hadn't even heard of it for like 30 years or more, when it was pretty much relegated to the Drewries, Hamms class. As a joke I put it up on display with the Heinekin, Michelob stuff and priced it at $3.00 a bottle. Sold out and I had to start ordering case loads of it. Who knew?

Anonymous 10:06 AM  

Z,
No, Not at all. Your failure to understand the difference between RPM, revs, and air induction is comical. No word is as protean s you suggest. And the definitions you point to undercut your argument, they don't support it. Not even close. As Ted And Speed Merchant noted, revving and super charging are two completely different and unrelated things. It's true both concepts relate to engine operation? But so what? They are not interchangeable any more than saying Disc Golf and Ultimate are the same, because, you know, both involving flinging a frisbee. Its's all the same, right?

livelovecrossword123 10:08 AM  

From start to finish, I thoroughly enjoyed this puzzle. In a world that is so wrought with pain, illness, death, and sadness, it was exciting for me to see a puzzle that celebrates the good things in life: music, travel, breakfast diners, and new age phrases. I hope @Rex gets a taste of some of these things soon, because from the sound of this critique, it's been a while since he has had some fun.

But really, I think that really his anger throughout this whole review stems from the fact that he wrongly thought Dory was a woman--sorry that he's too fixated on 2003 Disney films to realize that names can be unisex. Either way, gender of crossword writer should be irrelevant. Get Woke!

EdFromHackensack 10:13 AM  

FANFIC??? I can't even. WTH is FANFIC? Fantasy Fiction? Is that a thing? can someone explain. Oy vey I need a nap

lukiegrifpa 10:19 AM  

Agree. Rest of the puzzle was a breeze but the NW killed me.

pmdm 10:19 AM  

I don't get it. Mike, you have seen an awful lot of NYT puzzles (most of which it seems to me you hate) and you are a very intelligent persons (I assume). So there is no way you should be "stunned" by this puzzle's acceptance. I can accept you dislike the puzzle. I am surprised at your surprise.

I liked this a lot more than most Wednesdays. I could pick nits with it, but it really deserves better. For a debut puzzle, it is quite good. And I hope the qualification doesn't imply less than enthusiasm.

Frantic sloth: (From yesterday) I had the same reaction/question.

Ellen C 10:21 AM  

Babu and baba on same puzzle!! Where was Lucy van Pelt's sweet baboo?

Nancy 10:23 AM  

@Z (9:53) -- If anything makes me nostalgic to be in France again, it's the side-by-side links you provide for the American pronunciation of CANNES (it sounds like a toilet or a tush) and the gorgeous pronunciation of the word by the French themselves. Such an exquisite language. I'm not a natural linguist, but I tried not to butcher it too much when speaking it. We were taught in high school by a real Parisienne, and that helped.

For those who didn't study French, I recommend Z's links even more highly. You'll get a real sense of why the language is so beautiful from just that one word.

MichGirl 10:25 AM  

I feel like I'm a million years old because this was a super easy solve for me. I didn't enjoy it but I slammed through it like a Monday. I even asked Alexa was day it was because I was so surprised.

Another Anon 10:31 AM  

Expanding on @Anon 8:38, For extra credit:

BERN to Geneva direction.

DELHI to Agra direction

CANNES to Caen direction

SEOUL to Sochi direction


Answers later, maybe.

Anonymous 10:39 AM  

Annoying

Unknown 10:40 AM  

Had the same issue. Got Agra immediately but my turnaround came when I realized Crow was a tribe.

Newboy 10:45 AM  

Joined the crowed bus for Natick this morning. Ironic since I would have placed it geographically in the NE instead of the NW? Additionally my Grandpa name bestowed by our firstborn is BABa—close enough to be a trigger to 1D most days. Gonna split over for a peek at xwordinfo since several comments above raised interesting questions. Thanks Dory for a fun & frustrating grid.

Joe Dipinto 10:46 AM  

Baruch College is part of CUNY, its buildings are in the E. 20's in Manhattan. I wouldn't expect many outside of NYC to have heard of it, but I liked seeing it in the puzzle. (It gets bonus points because my optometrist's name is Dr. Baruch.)

Greater Fall River Committee for Peace & Justice 10:47 AM  

I believe Pabst was 'The Beer that made Mel Famey Walk us'. Baseball story of which I only remember the punch line. Famey was a pitcher, I guess, who got drunk before the 9th inning of a game he thought he had in the bag. Back when pitchers pitched whole games.

I would have preferred 'Big expense some city dwellers are lucky enough not to have' as a clue on 19A, CAR.

Chip Hilton 10:48 AM  

Sigh . . . It was hard for Rex so it stinks. Yeah, I’m old, but I don’t think that’s why I found it charming. I thought it was really neat that the two French cities with similar pronunciations were included. CAEN is a great place to visit, by the way (as is CANNES, of course), with William the Conquerer and Battle of Normandy sites a-plenty. Yes, I started with ipa but crosses took care of that. Toughest things for me were EGEST and FANFIC instead on nonFIC. I thought this was a great Weds. puzzle. Thanks, Dory Mintz.

jberg 10:52 AM  

I had actually started to look up the WEm Dynasty, as I didn’t believe it existed, when I realized skate parks could have a RAIL. I don’t know what for, but that’s just me. Way too much obscure or ambiguous clueing for my taste. But having BABU and BABA in the same puzzle made up for a lot.

Clue: Dad who’s a sot.

Answer: BABU A RHUM.

sixtyni yogini 10:53 AM  

Liked it. Cute. 🤗 And made almost all the same mistakes Rex did. (Haha in triple the time.😜)

Whatsername 10:55 AM  

Struggled with the NE corner because I misspelled AGRA and FANFIC was totally foreign. I looked up the definition but I’m still not sure I understand what it is. Had a Natick at HAIM/BARUCH since I didn’t know either and really any vowel could have worked. Don’t feel quite so bad since I see from a quick skim of the comments that others were tripped up there too, but man, I really hate it when I get stumped before Thursday.

Thought I knew everybody who was ever on Mad Men, but I just vaguely knew the name ALISON Brie. The actress herself though, was quite memorable as the lovely but spoiled princess Trudy Campbell. Haven’t seen IMUS in a crossword in quite a long time. Wonder what he’s doing these days, not that I care. PBR Has cred? Wow! I was drinking it decades ago because it was cheap so I guess I was hipster when hipster wasn’t cool.

CANE/CAEN/CANNES TWO-TERM DEHLI COUNTER BEEF PHOBIA

ghthree 10:59 AM  

I used to carry a card on which I had written
"Les sons de Saint-Saens sont sans sens."
Most native French speakers got a chuckle when they saw it.
It's always been my personal bete noire.
(Sorry about the lack of circumflex.)

Gretchen 11:00 AM  

I enjoyed it. Just hard enough for a Wednesday and clever puns.

Dad Joker 11:01 AM  

I figured. No worries. Great minds and all that.

Swagomatic 11:18 AM  

I hit all the pitfalls on this one - but, overall, I thought it was pretty good. Unlike Rex, I don't mind the corny pun (what pun isn't).

Newbie 11:20 AM  

Hi. Could you please explain why each puzzle always has an answer shaded in blue? Thank you.

Joe Dipinto 11:23 AM  

@EdfromHackensack re FANFIC – "Fan" as in aficionado. Fans of a particular, say, TV show, will make up their own plots and story arcs drawing on the show's characters and other elements. It's been a popular phenomenon for awhile.

Crimson Devil 11:26 AM  

PRETTY tough for Wed.
PBR actually was my first.

Nancy 11:34 AM  

@ghthree (10:59) -- Is that your coinage? It's brilliant and very, very accurate.

Re BABU:...And on Wordplay, Andrew from Ottawa reminds me that the BABU character in Seinfeld was hardly an object of respect. I bet this also influenced my reaction this a.m. -- though I wasn't consciously aware of it.

relicofthe60s 11:34 AM  

So a puzzle that has a bunch of contemporary stuff (including a band I at least have never heard of) is dated because it also has some old stuff? And Imus, who was on the radio until 2018, is not of this century? Give me a break.

Anonymous 11:41 AM  

Just because you've never heard of it, don't make fun. Baruch is part of CUNY (City University of New York) system. It's on Lexington Ave @ 25th Street in Manhattan.

David 11:41 AM  

Not at all bad for me, but I'm older than Rex. In fact, I'm old enough that in my youth I built out quite a few cars, what one may refer to as "supercharging" them. You can "rev" a Moped, you can "rev" a Volkswagen Bug; it has zero to do with "supercharging."

Other than that I've pretty much already forgotten the puzzle...

Anonymous 11:43 AM  

I crashed and burned on 48 across. I put in "corrupt" for "Like Barack Obama's presidency.." and never really recovered.

Masked and Anonymous 11:50 AM  

Fun puz. All four (international) themers are debuts, for the NYTPuz. Sooo … if this theme has been done 2000 times, I reckon this is at least a whole new take on it. Fave themer: CANNESOPENER.

Other debut meat: DOGSITS. EVILWOMAN. LOCALNEWS. Dory Mintz.
More cool stuff: FANFIC. KUMQUAT. BABA & BABU. LYIN. BABU was new to m&e, tho; lost valuable nanoseconds.

staff weeject pick: WEI. No wei does M&A know most of them Chinese dynasty names.
Primo weeject stacks in the NE & SW, btw.

Thanx for yer sparklin fresh "2001st Anniversary" pun-fest, Mr. Mintz. And congratz on yer mighty fine debut. And thanx for not tryin to also fit ULMTREE in there, even tho it musta been temptin.

Masked & Anonymo6Us


Illustrated dejavuosity:
**gruntz**

burtonkd 11:53 AM  

@Edith Piaf - lovely to hear from you. Agreed that in poetic (and sung) French, final schwas are pronounced because syllable count is very important and it creates an elevated air. Assuming we are not singing or reading a poem about Cannes, "n" pronounced and final schwa is silent. (as per the spoken examples provided by Z)

@Z, didn't get got since I filled in REV, but even your second definition starts by saying "to step up the number of revolutions per minute of". Yes, it is a xword, and loose associations are generally fair game, but a clue with a car specific term should ideally not lead to another car specific term that means something else as the answer.
You can supercharge an engine without revving it up.

@Nancy, I had the same little frisson hearing the pronunciations. However, watch some current hard-edged French shows or step into a Parisian taxi and that loveliness is nowhere to be found. Perhaps because I (perhaps falsely or unfairly) associate French with a certain beauty, it is particularly jarring.

egsforbreakfast 11:53 AM  

I liked the theme. It may have been stale, but each solve of a themer at least gave me a brain smile (probably not enough to actually raise the corners of my mouth). Compare this to yesterday’s realization that the themers consisted of lettters that were in reverse order of their appearance in the alphabet. No brain smile there. Just a shrug and a further reminder that the ability to program for specific patterns in large word lists is a big asset in today’s crossword constructing scene.

@Nancy. When I imagine the Venn diagram of Nancy’s life vs. the hipster scene, I’m not seeing a lot of overlap. This is part of why I like reading your comments.

Anyway, as they say in the puzzles, Le HAIM (To a girl-band’s health).

GHarris 11:58 AM  

The discussion about the difference in the pronunciation of Cannes and Caen requires me to tell the following tale. Vacationing in Paris my wife and I planned to make a side trip to Normandy. After spending hours in a RR ticket office I purchased two tickets to Caen, or so I thought. Well you can infer the rest. Walking back to our exchanged apartment on the Seine I examined the tickets. The first thing I noticed was that the trip seemed awfully long time wise. Then the price was really steep.Once I realized that I had booked us on a train to a movie festival site and not the hallowed invasion beaches we rushed back to the ticket office, waited a couple more hours and found a sympathetic clerk, who, after shaking her tete at the crazy Americans misuse of her language, and sharing a laugh with the clerk next to her, kindly exchanged the tickets and issued a refund for the difference. Viva la difference, Viva La France.

Whatsername 11:58 AM  

Re my 10:55 post, it was the NW corner obviously. Another senior moment. 🙄

@okanaganer (12:54) I sympathize with your Halloween dilemma as I traditionally have 100 or more little ghosts and goblins beating a path to my door also. I say load up on the candy. At my house there’s no such thing as too much chocolate.

@Joe Welling (08:32) Regarding the programming command, I was thinking along those same lines. My first reaction for that four-letter answer was THEN, not ELSE. I suppose it does technically come after the IF, but the clue seemed off to me.

GILL I. 11:59 AM  

So a brew with a hipster cred isn't a professional bull rider? No?
HAIM needs a little L'c in front of it so we can make a toast to some beer? No?
BUGLES are corn snacks and not someone tooting in the morning? No?
Ay Chihuahua......where is my sweet BABU when I need him...
I was finding Dory today.....I borrowed some of @Frantic's brain beans and tooling along. I also thought about AU LAIT and @pablito. I lived for cafe con leche....Then mind wanders to CANNES - an expensive city that's not nearly as nice as Nice.
So I think if I ever constructed a puzzle for the first time I'd love a @Rex critique. I would frame it in gold and hang it over my newly bought bidet. I would encourage everyone to take a pisser.
Signed.....UNA EVIL WOMAN.

CT2Napa 11:59 AM  

@Joe 8:30

it’s computer programming...

Use the else statement to specify a block of code to be executed if the condition is false.

if (condition) {
// block of code to be executed if the condition is true
} else {
// block of code to be executed if the condition is false
}

Anonymous 12:02 PM  

@Whatsername. FANFIC is kinda like when blog commenters make up their own theme answers related to the puzzle.

Blanca147 12:19 PM  

Fewer than normal.

Jennielap 12:38 PM  

Rex, I think, judging by the videos you post, that you are an even bigger fan of Elvis Costello than I am! And I never heard this cover by EBTG, so thanks for that. Meanwhile, hope the kitty is feeling better. “Cone of sadness” left me chuckling all week.

Not bad for a Wednesday, altho I had “Beau Bridges” for a bit, which got me nowhere.

bertoray 12:39 PM  

I too took umbrage at REV's clue.

Frantic Sloth 12:43 PM  

@Hipster Fred 945am I kinda prefer Fred 😉

@Z 953am LOL! You just can't help yourself, can you? Donning my helmet for the inevitable barrage...

@TJS 1003am Different spelling, but good memory!

@pmdm 1019am Ha! Thank you!

@Greater Fall River 1047am That was fun!

@GILL 1159am 🤣 Speaking of fun...

Unknown 12:45 PM  

@ Newbie,
I think that's the last word that rex filled in.

Anonymous 1:07 PM  

How does "egest" pass the breakfast test? It specifically means "to shit." It's like the NYT knew that it's a word that people don't know, so it's ok. Definitely an, um, egesty puzzle

bocamp 1:18 PM  

@TTrimble & @Pamela 12:42 AM 👍

Pangrammatic g
___

Cute Interaction Between Cat And Koi fish

Eagles - "Lyin' Eyes" (in concert)

Took French in h.s.; teacher did her best, but I never could get the pronunciation right, especially "monsieur". I did make some points, though, when I took my poodle, Jacques, to the French-themed party she hosted for her students. 😉

Bonjour 😊



Peace Bachialaxpúua 和平 Frieden शांति Paz 平和 Paix 평화 Mir 🕊

Teedmn 1:22 PM  

Gee? No, GTE. I remember the name of the company that merged into Verizon by that commercial tagline from who knows when. My other choice there would have been MCI (did they merge into Verizon? No idea) but GRAD made the choice obvious.

HAIM BARUCH crossing spelled trouble here but I guessed correctly.

I didn't really read the clue for 52D so I'M Up in the Morning went in before I remembered about IMUS, a show I never heard and never will.

This was a nice debut, congrats Dory Mintz.

GILL I. 1:27 PM  

@Anony 1:07...and here....all these years...I thought it meant to pass a kidney stone.
OK, so now I know it's Pabst Blue Ribbon. I'm not much of a beer drinker so maybe my vote doesn't count. I will say with the best authority I can muster that I tried it once and it is the ugliest beer that passed my lips. @Nancy says beer makes her burp...I spent time using the bidet. I don't understand beer drinkers - not even my husband. That stuff is filled with bubbles, it makes you want to go to the bathroom all the time and it makes your breath smell like porcupines.
Drink wine.

BobL 1:32 PM  

@TJS.

Perfect putdown on SS Johnny - he's been bugging me for months with his

'get rid of Shortz shit"

old timer 1:34 PM  

I thought the puzzle was pretty good, and OFL was over the top. Really my one nit here is that CANNES is almost never pronounced like "can", even by American tourists. If you can say "san troh pay" you can say "Cahn". Quite true, most English speakers rhyme BERN with burn, if they haven't been there. BERN is, however, a perfect place to spend a couple of hours in on your way to anywhere else, and if you are visiting Switzerland by train, you are likely to change trains in BERN once or twice, so why not? That said, if someone told me they wanted to stay in a Swiss city for a week, I would tell them Lausanne, because you get two cities for the price of one. Ouchy, on the lake, is charming, but so is the city center. And it is funny to hear Americans call it ouch-y.

Now if you want to visit CAEN, you want to visit the rest of Normandie too, including Mt St-Michel, and my advice is to rent a car in Paris for a day or two, because the countryside is adorable, and there is fantastic food in every little village. Plus, cider, which replaces both beer and wine wherever you go. With a car, you can go cider tasting, and have some splendid picnics.

I am glad to find Edith Piaf is alive and well here. She had me at "Milord" and I used to play "Je ne regrette rien" over and over, back in the day.

Hack mechanic 1:39 PM  

Me too, rod (as in hot) or ram ( as in charge) would be better.
Technically supercharging is mechanically driven, turbocharging exhaust gas driven even though both are ".blown" engines. Rev has nothing to do with either.

Oh Please 1:48 PM  

I though it was fun. I like dumb puns.

Rex, have you ever considered antidepressants?

Z 1:48 PM  

@burtonkd - (B)ut a clue with a car specific term should ideally not lead to another car specific term that means something else as the answer. Take it up with Shortz, not me. The "technical term used in a non-technical way that is sure to inspire experts in a field to scream 'wrong wrong wrong'" is an entire genre of of clues/answers. I recall sailors, tennis players, chemists, and physicists all having their moment (and I'm sure I'm not remembering even more). To borrow from the coding world, what you are describing is a feature, not a bug (well, at least according to Shortz et al.).

@Nancy - I was just going to link to Merriam-Webster, but that version literally made me wince, so I had to find a more listenable version.

@Newbie - I see someone answered your question, but let me point you and others to Rex's FAQ page for the answer to this and many other questions. (@burtonkd - I just noticed again #16)

@Frantic Sloth - Moi????

Was reading a book review of a biography in the New Yorker and saw this (maybe not exact): {the author} spends too much time sneering rather than seeing. Criticism about criticism is a little meta, but a great line is a great line.

Unknown 2:03 PM  

Infantile puzzle.

pmdm 2:04 PM  

Z: Add musicians. I, for one, have complained when "andante" is clued as slow. To me, andante is closer to a walking or flowing speed. I even think one of my comments here was rejected (I guess for being too technical). It's one of these things that can be frustrating to technicians, because the problem is so simple to fix. (A definition of "moderately slow" would be terse and undeniably correct. I think the attitude Shortz takes is that a lot of these definitions are close enough for crosswords. And maybe good enough for government work.

kitshef 2:17 PM  

@TJS, Ellen C - it was Sally Brown who used that term about Linus vP.

tea73 2:20 PM  

I'm fond of dumb puns. Spent a year in France and five in southern Germany so I know the pronunciations aren't exact matches, but that's fine. It took me forever to remember BARUCH college, but there's also a biblical BARUCH though his book got booted from the standard Bible. I was in China two years ago and while my first guess was Han, it didn't take too long to come up with WEI. I think HAIM has appeared in crosswords before, but I did not remember their name. Seemed easy for a Wednesday - slightly less than 3x Rex. Elvis Costello is one of those musicians I want to like, but in the end I really can't stand his phrasing and all his tunes sound the same to me.

Whatsername 2:38 PM  

@Anonymous (12:02) thanks! I get it now.

Anonymous 2:45 PM  

Z,
Piffle. The clue is wrong. Not in some hard-to-fathom, deep-in-the-weeds kind of technical way. It's just wrong. And the error is plain to see. Revs pertain to speed, movement. Superchargers increase air density. Not speed. It's not about movement. And unlike pmdm's example above, it isn't a matter of degree or interpretation.
They are not akin. One is not a subset of the other. They are not related.

Consider your car's climate control. If you raise the fan speed, it has no effect on the temperature. That's because the temperature is controlled by the thermostat. One thing controls temp. another controls air movement.
No fair minded person would say that fan motor ( also called a blower) is synonymous with the thermostat, though they are part of the same system.

I use this, admittedly, imperfect analogy because a supercharger is often called a blower. And for the same reason. It's all about the air. Revs are not.
Sometimes understanding something helps. I hope this helps you.
But be assured this isn't the hill to die on friend. It's not even a close call.

DigitalDan 2:55 PM  

They used to make a thing called the PHONograph. PHONetics is a thing, too, as are telePHONe, megaPHONe, or even smartPHONe. Oh, well, pays to be old.

okanaganer 2:56 PM  

@Joe Welling 8:30 and @CT2Napa... in many common programming / scripting languages (eg javascript, PHP) the IF control block format is something like:

if (a > 0) {do this} else {do that}

However the very first language I ever used, back in 1977, was called PL-1 (short for "Programming Language One"!...how clever). I was quite delighted that many statements were almost in plain English. It actually used "then" as well:

IF a > 0
THEN do this
ELSE do that

In both cases the ELSE is optional.

Anonymous 3:06 PM  

Hack,
Yes!!! One is parasitic. The other perfect! ( No letters to the editor please. Turbo technology has come a long way).

If anyone cares, David Letterman tells a wonderful story about Volvo wagons, Paul Newman and superchargers. Newman was soooooo cool. Well worth googling.

ghthree 3:11 PM  

@Nancy,
Thanks for the ego stroke.
Yes, the sentence
Les sons de Saint-Saens sont sans sens.
is my own composition, born of my frustration with nasals.
I created it as a self-motivating pons asinorum.

Here's a short selection from Ogden Nash, as part
of his poem inspired by the Carnival of the Animals:
Camille Saint-Saens was wracked with pains,
When people addressed him as "SAINT SANES"

He held the human race to blame
Because they could not pronounce his name.
So he turned with metronome and fife
To glorify other forms of life.
Be silent please, for here begins
His salute to feathers, furs, and fins.

Both Google and Bing translate this sentence correctly.
It looks like both are using the same app for pronunciation.

Maybe some day I'll be able to pronounce it well enough
to get Google and/or Bing to recognize it.
That would require some serious wood-shedding on my part.

pabloinnh 3:55 PM  

Ay mi amiga GILL I-As someone who loves (good) beer, no PBR's please, it grieves me to learn your opinion of it. Champagne has bubbles too, a good thing. Nor does it (beer, not champagne) significantly increase my skipping to the loo, but I am lucky that way. An IPA a day makes me a happy man, and so far no one has complained of porcupine breath, but that may be due to my insatiable Altoid habit.

Now wine--I like wine just fine, but I discovered in Spain that wine can cause ceilings to rotate and in the morning fear that you might die and then fear you might not. I am pretty sure I had anoa breath, although at the time I didn't know what to call it. Moderation in all things--I'm still working on that one.

Anyway, have a sip of a nice cold double IPA. I'm betting you'll enjoy it very much.

LeeB 5:02 PM  

Liked it! I worked at GTE many, many years ago, otherwise not so sure I would have gotten that clue.

Smith 5:17 PM  

@Pablo 7:15

🙋‍♀️ for BERN not fitting the pattern. Glad I read before posting. Thx!

Smith 5:22 PM  

@Joe Welling 8:30

Seems 'then' is no longer used, probably as it's kinda implied. I found that odd when learning Python in my old age but makes sense, as in the code posted in a previous reply.

Smith 5:33 PM  

@Ed 10:13

Fan fiction. Take a minor character and write a story...

For example, 'Ahab's Wife, or The Star of the Sea' imagines the entire life of a character barely mentioned in the original. Or 'Natasha, Pierre' on Bwy. Or, if not too much of a stretch, some midrash. Or a marvelous book called 'Sisters at Sinai'... yep, it's a real thing.

bocamp 6:08 PM  

-3



Peace Bachialaxpúua 和平 Frieden शांति Paz 平和 Paix 평화 Mir 🕊

Miriam 6:18 PM  

I worked at Baruch College, so I was thrilled to see it in a NYTimes puzzle. It’s part of CUNY, the City University of NY. i doubt if I would have so easily gotten the clue however if I didn’t live in NYC.

Z 7:23 PM  

@pmdm - I think your plaint, while still of the “driving experts mad” sort, is categorically different. That is, “slow” is accurate but insufficient if you’re an actual musician who needs finer gradations than just a broad “slow.” What’s going on with the REV clue is the editors allowed “engine” into the clue which makes it “wrong” to all the gear heads because they insist that the clue is now referencing the technical definition. That “supercharge” and “REV” might be used in some other context, say sports, is opaque to them. Derrick Henry supercharges his engine when he sees a safety in front of him. Derrick Henry REVs his engine when he sees a safety in front of him. Look at 1A and 65A today for two quick examples that pop out to me where meanings are stretched far from their technical definitions.

3quicky2 8:52 PM  

Yes, probably would.

Anonymous 9:09 PM  

Z,
No! There is no usage of rev as a a synonym to supercharge. That the puzzle uses it as such is not proof that the usage exists. Forget gear heads. Have you ever heard supercharge as a synonym for rev?
I certainly haven’t, and I’ve been around cars, engines my whole life.

Anonymous 9:14 PM  

Z,
I am in sports!!! You tool! The Derek Henry analogy is all kinds of inaccurate. I mean have you ever watched an NFL game?
You think Henry readjusts as he sees D backs? He simply lowers his shoulder, or , ask, Josh Norman, stiff arms the. Into oblivion. But supercharges his engines? Or revs his engine? You’re embarrassing yourself.

Mr. Benson 10:21 PM  

Odd that Rex would comment on there being multiple French cities but not on the fact that GENEVA is sitting right near BERN.

I would think it’s a foul to include any other cities where city names are part of the theme. I expected a rant on that and a statement that it disqualifies the whole puzzle.

Amy 10:46 PM  

Loved it. Cannes and Caen have not remotely similar pronunciations. Rex is not good at geography or foreign languages (my passions) but I still love him.

Mr. Alarm 11:55 PM  

All of Rex’s criticisms aside, I guess I’m a childless “DAD”, ‘cause I love the puns! Themeless, whatever you call it, a welcome reprieve from yesterday’s torture chamber.

BTW: I don’t know what the demographics are for the New York Times crossword, but I think it’s safe to say that a good majority who regularly solve them are at least her 50 to 70 years old. So, not sure if your “too old” criticism is that valid.

Anonymous 12:36 AM  

Still trying to figure out a time of under 5 minutes with so many initial errors. I only messed up "Alison" and still finished in 7 minutes. I'd love to watch the solving process.

JOHN X 2:59 AM  

Dang it!

I can’t believe I missed a conversation about supercharging. I could have wrote ten paragraphs.

Anonymous 10:05 PM  

Steamrolled right through this but couldn't crack the northwest at all. Beef for bellyache?!? Agra? Babu? Egest?

Someone should have Egested this into the trash before publishing it.

spacecraft 9:51 AM  

FANFIC, really? Looking at it, I can now see, OK, FAN FICtion. But really. We are becoming a nation of stenos, using abbreviations and cutoffs at every turn. No wonder I can't understand the young any more!

The whole NW was like that. There's a BARUCH college in Manhattan? I bet you that even you LOCAL solvers, or 3/4 of you, didn't know that one. As for us out-of-towners, forget it. And HAIM? And this is only WEDENSDAY? Yikes!

The PRETTY ALISON Brie is DOD. One writeover, ICANTgooN, which almost came to a literal conclusion. The puns were not enough to elevate this beyond par.

thefogman 10:25 AM  

I have no major BEEF about this one with the exception of that Naticky cluster of PBR, HAIM and BARUCH. Had to guess for the A in HAIM-BARUCH and I probably wouldn’t feel so good about it if I guessed wrong. But aside from that it was a fun solve. Maybe not pants-pissingly funny but much more enjoyable than how Rex feels about it. IMHO it was AMUSING and PRETTY PRETTY good and I ani’t LYIN’.

Burma Shave 11:16 AM  

KUMQUAT ERROR

I HAD TWO SEARCH every DELHICOUNTER
and LOCAL RETAIL SHOP, yet knew it:
I’d find a PRETTY EVILWOMAN and mount her,
but in my SEOUL, ICAN’TEVEN DOIT.

--- REV. BABU BABA BARUCH

rondo 12:01 PM  

If I was the puzzle critic, my biggest BEEF would be the other foreign cities – SOCHI, CAEN, GENEVA – chewing up so much space in a foreign city themed puz. But I’m not the critic, so that point is PRETTY much moot.

HAIM was a gimme. They can rock out so much better than the repetitive pop songs that get the airplay. Collectively or individually the HAIM sisters merit a yeah baby.

Back in the day, PBR was the beer of choice for many in this neck of the woods. Almost every tavern had PBR on tap. Don’t get how the hipsters got involved. PBR is a rather mediocre inexpensive beer. But I’d take one if offered.

The corners are Uncle BEN’S.

Not side-splitting wacky, but OK, IMHO.

Diana, LIW 2:33 PM  

I always wonder if it's LYIN or...wha????

Hey @Rondo - I thought that the PBR was kind of a jokish hip thing. What do I know?

There was actually a point at which I didn't think I'd finish. Then I did.

Having t-day a day early today. Only Mr. W and moi.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for the sides

Anonymous 3:47 PM  

Very enjoyable and fair. The most fun in weeks of solving. Good one!

Nancy - try Carlo Rossi Paisano. Cheap and good.

leftcoaster 5:31 PM  

NW is something of a STY (“Total mess”), holding BABU, FANFIC, BABU, and HAIM. SE wasn’t clean either. Anyhow, got most of it.

Theme locations are PRETTY good. CANNE add CAEN, GENEVA, SOCHI, and can add the whole EURopean continent.

So this is a Wednesday puzzle? OK, don’t mind them tightening up a bit.

Thanks, DM.

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