Children's medicine in doctor-speak / TUE 11-17-20 / Bugler in Rockies / What a chop shot imparts / Photo posted days or weeks after it was taken on social media

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Constructor: Kyle Dolan

Relative difficulty: Medium (3:40)

THEME: GROW A SPINE (61A: "Show some courage!" ... as this puzzle's theme can do?) — last word in first themer is "I," and each subsequent themer adds one letter to its last word (through PI, PIN, SPIN) until you end up "growing" the word "SPINE" at the end of the last themer (which is also the revealer):

Theme answers:
  • MOTHER MAY I (16A: Cousin of Simon Says)
  • "LIFE OF PI" (24A: 2012 Ang Lee film set largely at sea)
  • HAIR PIN (38A: Support for an updo)
  • BACK SPIN (49A: What a chop shot imparts)
Word of the Day: Punjabi (53A: Many a Punjabi) —

 (GurmukhiਪੰਜਾਬShahmukhiپنجاب/pʌnˈɑːb//-ˈæb//ˈpʌnɑːb//-æb/Punjabi: [pənˈdʒaːb] (About this soundlisten); also romanised as Panjāb or Panj-Āb)[a] is a geopolitical, cultural, and historical region in South Asia, specifically in the northern part of the Indian subcontinent, comprising areas of eastern Pakistan and northern India. The boundaries of the region are ill-defined and focus on historical accounts.

The geographical definition of the term "Punjab" has changed over time. In the 16th century Mughal Empire it referred to a relatively smaller area between the Indus and the Sutlej rivers.[2] In British India, until the Partition of India in 1947, the Punjab Provinceencompassed the present-day Indian states and union territories of PunjabHaryanaHimachal PradeshChandigarh and Delhi and the Pakistani regions of Punjab and Islamabad Capital Territory. It bordered the Balochistan and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwaregions to the west, Kashmir to the north, the Hindi Belt to the east, and Rajasthan and Sindh to the south.

The people of the Punjab today are called Punjabis, and their primary language is Punjabi. The main religion of the Pakistani Punjab region is Islam. The two main religions of the Indian Punjab region are Sikhism and Hinduism. (wikipedia)

• • •

growing a spine tower
The editor's love affair with the grimly adequate puzzle continues. The theme does what it says it does, in its literal, punny way. The fill, outside the themers, is loaded with your typical short stuff, occasionally tiresome (ENID, ETAS, SRA, EYRE crossing AYE) but completely standard. There are some midrange highlights in "OH, GREAT" and the full-named B.B. KING (my fav answer of the day, actually) (42D: Blues legend with the hit "The Thrill Is Gone"). LAUGH LINE would be fine, except they never come in the singular, only the plural, so the lone line is awkward (34D: Facial wrinkle suggesting a jovial spirit). But all I could think about at the end of this puzzle was how awful two answers were: LATERGRAM (3D: Photo posted days or weeks after it was taken, on social media) and PEDS (as clued). I'm a constant user of social media and this is literally the first I'm hearing of this incredibly dumb term LATERGRAM. What does it rhyme with? Not "Instagram," that's for sure. I've heard of other Insta-related slang, like FINSTA (your "fake Insta" account); FINSTA makes sense to me, on multiple levels. This ... doesn't. What kind of horrible purchased word list did that come from? People post pictures they took days / weeks ago all the time. They're just pictures. Posts. The idea that you would have to invent this dumb name for them ... yikes. Admittedly, I don't use Instagram, which belongs to Facebook, which is a truly vile perpetrator of disinformation and abettor of violence. Deleted my Instagram account last year, and never really found any use for it while I had it. LATERGRAM ... phew, dumb. 

And as for PEDS. My dad was a physician, my mom was a nurse, my stepmom was a nurse, my sister is a nurse, I have pediatrician friends ... I've just never, ever, ever heard this term (this bad fill, normally clued in re: pedestrians) as slang for kids' meds. How do people not get confused using such bad slang? Why do you need different slang for *kid* meds as opp. to adult meds. Do they call old people's meds GEDS? (geriatric ... meds)? Look, you put PEDS in the grid, it's bad, just own it, embrace it. Don't try to shoehorn some slang in here to gussy it up. It stinks.

There's nothing much else here to comment on. The only sticking points for me were LATERGRAM and CAKEPOP / PEDS. The rest just kinda filled itself in. I did struggle briefly with COT, as I was thinking of "extra" as some kind of nice amenity, not a sad barracks-like thing they roll in so your kid doesn't have to sleep on the floor. That's all. Enjoy your Tuesday.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Chris 6:16 AM  

“ Do they call old people's meds GEDS?”

But it’s not “meds” it’s “medicine” as in the practice area—and pronounced “peeds”.

Still a terrible clue, but not for the reason suggested.

Tom Taylor 6:18 AM  

Many good friends are docs and they always referred to their pediatric rotations as “Peds” (pronounced “peeds”) ... feels pretty common to me.

Joaquin 6:20 AM  

An alternate solution can be had by using one, two, three, or four of the theme clues to give you “GROW A PAIR”.

I learned a new word today and at the same time realized that back in “my day” all photos were LATERGRAMs.

David Fabish 6:27 AM  

Gotta say, I clearly enjoyed this one more than Rex. It wasn't fantastic, but it had enough interesting answers to keep entertained.

As for the "issues", a quick Google shows that LATERGRAM is definitely a thing. It doesn't NEED to rhyme. It's "later" as opposed to "insta". And PEDS is also a thing, but not in the way Rex interpreted it. I didn't think of "meds" meaning drugs, but a medical field . And in medicine, people definitely talk about PEDS (pronounced "peeds") when talking about pediatrics. I have a friend who is a "PEDS doc", and that's exactly how he would refer to himself.

The NYTXW is definitely not what it used to be, but it's not as irretrievably bad as Rex seems to think it is. Rex, maybe you just need a nice long vacation. I think we all do.

Anonymous 6:34 AM  

"LAUGH LINE would be fine, except they never come in the singular, only the plural"---BS

K9doc 6:40 AM  

Rex, it’s PEDS, pronounced PEEDS, as in short for the specialty of pediatric medicine, NOT medication.

Lewis 6:46 AM  

Sometimes Tuesdays fly for me like a sled ride; and other times, like today, I need to bring in some cavalry, not the whole regiment, just a few who happen to be standing around. This is a roundabout way of saying this is a perfectly-pitched Tuesday puzzle, giving bite – gettable bite – to new solvers, and taking a more veteran solver like me off autopilot.

There was some vagueness in the cluing, a couple of answers I never heard of – CAKEPOP and LATERGRAM (both of which I’ll remember, as they may come my way in real life) – and a theme I tried without success to parse until I hit the reveal. All these elements drew me into the puzzle and thus made the Hungry Hungry Solver in me quite happy, as did some lovely answers, like MOTHER MAY I, LAUGH LINE, and (God bless) BB KING.

I did like seeing SUNG crossing ALOUD, SOOT sharing the puzzle with MESSI, and the side BETS.

IMO, an early week gem, a ruby Tuesday – thank you, KD!

SouthsideJohnny 6:47 AM  

Why bother having a theme if it is so hidden, so contrived, so convoluted that it is nearly indiscernible ? I’ve been doing the NYT puzzle on a daily basis for well over five years now and I had no clue what the theme was. I guess even on a Tuesday now the Times views hardcore solvers as its target demographic.

A couple of clues are still a mystery to me - how do we get from bugler to ELK ? Also, I understand the word “turnkey” to mean something is pretty much ready to use without any initial setup requirements. What is the connection with JAILER ? Maybe turnkey has an alternate (or archaic) definition ?

Evan 7:07 AM  

LATERGRAM is more an example of trying to sound hip, but sounding dated than it is making up a word (or hashtag). It was popular a few years ago, but has largely gone out of style.

kitshef 7:10 AM  

I strongly suspect today’s constructor must made a bunch of stuff up to see if he could get away with it. Never heard anyone refer to a triathlon as a TRI. I suspect no one has used TURNKEY in that sense in, oh, forty years. And while I fully believe that LATERGRAM is a real term, it is exactly the kind of newslang I detest.

pabloinnh 7:14 AM  

Like @Joaquin, I was wanting "grow a pair" and had to read the revealer three or four times before I could even see what it was saying. Preconceptual interference.

Agree that this felt very Tuesday-ish so well done on your choice there, WS.

Anyone ever have a CAKEPOP? I wouldn't know one from a bale of hay, as my old friends Burns used to say.

Solid stuff KD. Fun enough for a while.

OffTheGrid 7:29 AM  

I'm gonna take another look but I have a question. How is the solver supposed to identify which answers are the theme answers? No hint at all in the E-edition version.

Complaint: SPINE not "grown" in letter order.

ChuckD 7:34 AM  

Liked this for the most part - it did play harder than most Tuesdays. We’ve seen the add a letter theme before but this was clean with decent reveal. Initially wanted GROW A pair - that SE corner was toughest for me to get. Didn’t know CAKEPOP or LAUGHLINE. When I first met my son’s fiancé she told me she is a peds nurse - the clue’s use of medicine was a little clunky but does work.

Chemistry class on top was cool - but most of the fill was flat. LATERGRAM, HAS A SIP and FAJITAS are all pretty bad as is Kate and ALLIE. Liked the Bugler clue for ELK.

Decent Tuesday puzzle.

The Joker 7:52 AM  

Wish I'd had the paper version today. I would have PEED on it.

Knitwit 7:52 AM  

I liked this one. I wanted GROWAPAIR, until I figured it all out so that made me laugh. I’ll chime in on 68A-as a nurse who worked with kids for most of my career-it was referred to as “peeds”.

TTrimble 7:58 AM  

So we have Rex basically saying, "I never heard of it, therefore it's not a thing". A common enough ailment. But it's not a good trait to have for his role here. I mean, I hadn't heard of LATERGRAM or PEDS either. Doesn't mean I reject them out of hand. Why doesn't he research them before jumping to conclusions? (The complaint about PEDS seems to be based on a simple misreading of the clue: according to other comments, the "medicine" here doesn't mean pills or such, but a branch of medical practice. I learn something new.)

One thing that held me up a bit was FAJITAS. I was reading the clue as calling for a verb, and started off with tAco... before changing the t to an F, but it still didn't really come together until the end. Not helping was the fact that I didn't know "turnkey" could mean JAILER, and looking it up now, that seems to be an archaism. If there's anything in the puzzle that makes my nose wrinkle, it would be that.

Hadn't heard of MESSI either.

If I were in a fault-finding frame of mind, then I might carp on ACIDS, before remembering that the meaning isn't always chemical but can be culinary as well, as when a Top Chef judge opines, "this dish could have used a little more acid". Although the culinary usage seems to take "acid" as its own plural, being a collective noun? More research is needed.

The puzzle didn't thrill me, but nor did it seem to me "grim" as it seemed to Rex. Time was decently below average, and also decently below my usual number measured in Rex units.

Anonymous 8:03 AM  

I couldn't agree more re. Instagram/Facebook. I kinda liked Instagram and ignored the FB connection. But at some point they added a "by Facebook" reminder when Insta loaded. Couldn't ignore it any longer.

Wit 8:04 AM  

@ Joaquin - Love grow a pair!

Constructor says he built the puzzle around the GROWASPINE concept, but wow it was inscrutable. I personally prefer themes that can be a help in solving if you need it.

Re: COT. xwordinfo says it was clued exactly the same on October 3rd, 2020. The same clue also appeared in 2003. There have been a number of other variations on hotel room cot clues. I don't think I've ever stayed in a hotel room where a cot was offered. I've seen hideaways and trundles seem to be the standard when something needs to be brought in.

This appears to be the first appearance of BACKSPIN. That's remarkable. (I love the word remarkable - it's self-defining.)

Z 8:04 AM  

LATERGRAM sounds like something your significant other leaves on the pillow letting you know they will no longer be your significant other.

I had the same PEDS confusion as Rex. It makes more sense as explained here. Makes it more of downtown Rye answer than a riding the wooden roller coaster in Rye answer.

Tuesdays are going to Tuezz and this puzzle certainly did that. Finding an appropriate PI answer seems toughest. To have LIFE OF PI fit symmetrically with BACK SPIN must have been a nice find. The fill didn’t rankle overly, but it seems like there must be a fresher clue for ALLIE and “Jane ____” seemed a little on the lazy side. No obscure character from chapter 27 to beguile us with today I s’pose. CAKEPOP is something I’ve never seen. I assume it’s something one might find at a county fair. Otherwise a PERT little early week distraction well worthy of the Best Tuesday Ever award.

Z 8:09 AM  

@Southside Johnny - The sound an ELK makes is known as bugling. And, yep, before HGTV a JAILER was known as a “turnkey.” Don’t ask me where exactly, but I’m pretty sure I’ve seen the term used in movies and TV.

Hungry Mother 8:12 AM  

Fast here, apropos of some of my 18 TRIs, but not the latter ones. I’ve had three canceled this year due to COVID. I still haven’t noticed the theme of the puzzle.

Hungry Mother 8:15 AM  

All triathletes call them TRIs.

Mac 8:15 AM  

Little problem with 26d, big Mideast initials. Only 5 of OPECs 14 members lie in the Mideast. Others are in Africa and South America.

Frantic Sloth 8:24 AM  

Hmm. Don't see any grid art. Not even sure which of these answers are themers....

Okay. I'm officially annoyed. Can we please have a Tuesdee - at least a Tuesdee - where I can pretend to have a modicum of intelligence??
If I need to spend 20 minutes trying to grok a theme, it can just go grok itself.

Honestly. One of 2 things is going to happen:

1. The theme will be explained and my forehead better buckle up, or
2. The theme will be explained and I'll just go from mildly annoyed to pissed off.

Despite my history, I'm leaning toward #2.
Let's watch!

This one played a little crunchy to me, which is nice for the Tuesdee.
I liked some of the entries like MOTHERMAYI, LATERGRAM (though I'd never heard the term), and despite its role in the theme, GROWASPINE.

For all I know, that's talking to BACKSPIN. "Hey! Add an 'E' and literally GROWASPINE, will ya??"

Funny and timely that DIYKIT appears today. Just hours ago Mrs. Sloth inquired about my latest doings and buyings, and whether I was preparing for yet another hapless DIY attempt.
"Kinda", says I. "But this is more of a DYI project...Do Yourself In." Anybody know that feeling?

And, oh dear God - now I can't get this image out of my head: a PELOSI CAKEPOP. Totes, ball caps, and CAKEPOPs as upcoming campaign giveaways. "Make America Cake"



Seth 8:32 AM  

LATERGRAM, CAKEPOP, and PEDS are all part of my regular lexicon (being an Instagram-using Starbucks-frequenter who hangs out with a lot of medical professionals). I don't, however, know what BACKSPIN is or why a chop shot (which I read as 'chop shop' this whole time) imparts it.

Additionally, had a fun moment of confusion with 'Lady of Camelot', considering I thought that would be Gueniviere, aka GWEN, even though the clue before it was GWEN Stefani.

Thanks, Rex, for explaining the puzzle's theme to me though because I wasn't even sure what the thematic clues I should've been looking at were.

TJS 8:35 AM  

Fine for a Tuesday, IMO. A few aggravating fills,as have been mentioned, but what the hell. I've been using the Monday and Tuesday solves just as a warmup before working thru the Friday and Saturday archive, and the respective comments from long time contributors here. Started with 2015 and working backward to 2013 at the moment. Interesting to see how ephemeral were the concerns of commenters then compared to what we are dealing with in our daily lives now. Hoping that we are in the early days of a long term trend reversal. We have to hope, don't we ?

Z 8:37 AM  

@Mac - sure, but the clue makes no suggestion that OPEC is only middle eastern. It’s like saying Ford is big in Dearborn, MI. That is true even though Ford is a multinational corporation.

@OffTheGrid - SPINE is grown from the middle out. Center letter first. Then the next “layer,” then the outer “layer.” I actually thought that was a nice feature of the GROW aspect.

@Unknown8:32 - They sell CAKEPOPs at Starbucks?

Rethinking LATERGRAM, more the note the One Night Stand leaves on the pillow indicating that, while it was nice and all, there will not be a second night.

Profmom 8:47 AM  

Thank you! I was actually searching the replies here because I couldn’t figure out how a chop shop imparted backspin—I even googled chop shop to see if it had some other meaning than chopping up stolen cars! Can’t believe I never noticed it was chop shot!

Anonymous 8:47 AM  

If a theme falls in a forest and there's no one to hear it...thanks, Rex, because I never would have known what it was. Other than that, pretty much what Rex said, without the vehemence - although I have heard of cakepops and even made them once, I'm almost ashamed to admit - stupid idea, a waste of time - if kids can't like cake enough the way it is, or as a cupcake, something is wrong. So cakepops, why? Thought grow a spine was going to lead us into rated R territory but the letter count was off, so I got that. Best part of the puzzle, for me, was a trip to yesteryear thinking about Mother May I. Trying to remember all the details. - newbie

Jdavis 8:47 AM  

My husband and I have spent 40 years in medical education. Pediatrics is routinely referred to as Peds

Grown-Up Autistic Kid 8:51 AM  

Dull, lifeless, inadequate, poorly clued, sloggish

CAKEPOPS - yet another impending sign of the apocalypse

Other than that, this puzzle fell just short of awesome.

Anonymous 8:55 AM  

A jailer is the person who turns the key to the cell.

susan 9:03 AM  

The practice of taking care of kids can be called “peds” pronounced with a long e. But the clue reads like medication so I was stuck!

Sixthstone 9:08 AM  

Isn't part of crosswording learning new things? Seems Rex constantly complains about old and tired fill, but now he's complaining about newer phrases (cakepop, latergram, etc.).

All, just because YOU don't use a phrase or know a word doesn't mean it's not a thing.

Carola 9:10 AM  

I liked it: a COMBO of a "Wait a minute, what?" theme + lots of grid pleasures. I particularly liked the contrast of STEELy Nancy PELOSI over the soft, yielding CAKEPOP (for those unacquainted with this confection: crumble a baked cake into a bowl, mix with some frosting, form into balls, insert a stick, dip in further frosting, eat at your own risk). Also the musical mix of BB KING, BRIO, SUNG, ALOUD. Enjoyed seeing the olde-fashioned "turnkey,: which I associate with the unfortunates locked up in the Tower of London.

Jordan 9:15 AM  

Rex: Longtime reader, first-time commenter. LATERGRAM is a thing we youngs say!

Nancy 9:15 AM  

Find me a single pediatrician who says he works in "PEDS". Go ahead; I dare you.

TRI for Triathalon isn't quite as awful, but good it's not. If I have the energy to compete in a Triathalon, then I certainly would have the energy to say "Triathalon." And I want full credit for my achievement: I don't want you to think that all I did was ride a TRIcycle.

LATERGRAM -- a coinage of the self-absorbed Instagram generation? As in: "You didn't get my photo until a full 72 hours after it was taken? How horrible and inconsiderate of me not to have regaled you with it sooner! I know you haven't been able to eat or sleep or make love or anything while waiting for it with bated breath. WELL, HERE IT IS AT LAST, YOU LUCKY, LUCKY PEOPLE!!!!"

While solving, I thought this SPINEless puzzle was also THEMEless. I didn't notice a theme, didn't miss a theme, and when I got to the revealer, I didn't say "Aha!". All I said was "That's it? OH GREAT".

Not my favorite puzzle of this or any other week.

Frantic Sloth 9:17 AM  

Well, so much for the early-writing Rex. Although, I suspect he was still tamer than he might have been late-night.
Had to read Rex, to prove to myself there was a theme.
(Prior to that, I considered the possibility of another sneakily-placed themeless...A Sundee themeless and a Tuesdee themeless walk into a bar in the future and say "Hi! We're from the year 2020." Says everyone present, "Get. OUT!")

So, my BACKSPIN/GROWASPINE connection was close, but no cigar. Now, it occurs to me that there is a #3: a combination of 1 & 2.
That's where I sit - uncertain which maddens me more: the theme or my failure to grasp it. Especially after getting the slightest whiff of it on my own.
Bah. Definitely a bad taste left in the ol' CAKEPOP hole.

Speaking of...@pabloinnh 714pm I've seen CAKEPOPs, but have never tried one. They look disgusting and probably taste/feel like a ball of dryer lint.

@Z 804am Your LATERGRAM definition has my vote. Also the 837am rethink.

Still hoping someone will explain the whole PEDS/PEeDS thing. 😉

ChicagoMama 9:26 AM  

yup, agree

ChicagoMama 9:27 AM  

yup, agreed.

ChicagoMama 9:33 AM  

Another long time reader, first time commenter:

“peds” is short for pediatrics and is quite common if you know anyone who has been an intern or resident

i didn’t like how spine was “grown” until i realized the “i” is the middle letter and then it grows on alternating sides to make the “spine”

i’m too old to know “latergram,” but i accept that is a common term for those younger than i, and it was easy to figure out with some crosses.

Unknown 9:34 AM  

@ Nancy 9:15 I'm guessing you're not much of an endurance athlete. All triathletes refer to doing TRIs, not "triathlons." OK, maybe not the newbies.

Someone, somewhere, posited that rex was using his blog as a resume/interview to inherit Will Shortz's job. Not.gonna.happen. I'm guessing he should try a different approach.

@ Sixthstone 9:08 exactly. So often rex complains about the creaky, old fill, but then when something so fresh shows up that he's (gasp) never encountered it before, he throws a childish hissy fit. My father used to say, Those who can, do. Those who can't, criticize. Which would appear to sum up rex, except, to be fair, I did come across an old puzzle by him from 2010, and it was pretty good.

Question for those of you who refer to rex as OFL. Do you really look to him as your "leader?" Seriously? Would explain on a psychological level why so many folks gravitate to trump, I suppose . . . .

Nancy 9:35 AM  

One of those rare days when I feel I should have read the blog before posting my first comment. I find out from a bunch of people who are friends or colleagues of pediatricians that they really do say PEDS (pronounced PEEDS) and I find out from our very own blog triathlete that they really do say TRI.

I know I would never say PEDS if I were a pediatrician (how undignified!) and I'm pretty sure I wouldn't say TRI if I were a triathlete. But I'm neither, so I probably should have kept my mouth shut.

bocamp 9:36 AM  

Another enjoyable Tues., thx @Kyle! :)

Post solve: took a minute to grok the theme. Liked it!

Steady progress from the NW to the SE; came in just under av. time.

Holdups: three unknowns in the SE resulted in a brief "SMH"; nothing serious, tho.

New: "latergram"; "pod" (as clued); "cakepop"; "Enid" (as clued); "peds"; "grow a spine"; "MGM" (as clued); "BB King" (as clued); "art" (as clued).

Fav. clues/answers: "pin"; "backspin"; "miner"; "peds"; "laugh line".

Two riveting page turners: "Jane Eyre"; "Life of Pi".

Enjoyed playing "Mother may I" as a kid and with the grandkids. "That all of good the past hath had, remains to make our own time glad" - John Greenleaf Whittier

Just a big kid "at heart". :)

Fond memories of visiting the Sikh Temple in East Vancouver with my students.

Also, took them to a camp which featured "horseback" riding.

Big fan of "laugh lines". LOL

Laugh Your Cares Away - John and Dee Centinaro


Peace امن Paz 🕊

Sir Hillary 9:40 AM  

Not digging this theme at all. The order of SPINE GROWth seems random (3,2,4,1,5 in letter order). If anything, the "I" is the already-grown central spine and everything else attaches around it. Anyway, feels like the SPINE is not "GROWn" but rather "cobbled together".

Never heard of LATERGRAM, but this forum is about as close as I get to social media, so what do I know? PEDS is 100% a thing though, as many have noted.


Taffy-Kun 9:42 AM  

To You Know Who You Are: Please, please stop posting without reading the previous posts - it’s disrespectful and clutters up the Blog

Whatsername 9:44 AM  

Well I didn’t hate it but it didn’t exactly caused me to GROW A LAUGH LINE either. I had absolutely no idea what the theme was, even with the revealer I didn’t see it. Might have been easier to find if the letters were in order. Like others, I raised an eyebrow at at the clue for 33A, but if I do a lookup for “turnkey” on my iPad, the definition says JAILER.

@Z: I think you were right the first time in your definition of LATERGRAM as something your significant other leaves on the pillow letting you know they will no longer be your significant other. Probably on a post-it note. The one night stand probably wouldn’t bother.

mathgent 9:45 AM  

TTrimble knows *almost* everything. Many consider Lionel Messi the greatest soccer player of all time.

I’m picturing the cavalry helping Lewis slide down the hill.


The Boy Scouts play Simon Says. Some guys were really good at calling that game. “Simon says put your right hand up.” We’d all put it up. Then immediately in a commanding voice, “Put it down,” and half of us would put it down and have to sit. Do the Girl Scouts play Mother May I?

Pretty good puzzle, but not much sparkle.

Surfer Dude 9:49 AM  

The whole PEDS vs. PEeDs thing reminds me of "Hit and run" vs. "Run and Hit" - it's like Deja Vu all over again. Is it a requirement that everyone who posts here must beat that dead horse (I'm doing my part, as you may have noticed).

Another sign that the times have passed me by - I don't understand why so many people hate Facebook. Is it that painful to be exposed to opinions with which you disagree ?

ghkozen 9:57 AM  

LATERGRAM is 1000% a thing. It is current, lively, and very in-the-language. Best answer in the grid, period.

And while I know loudly judging coinages by those younger than you is a core self-absorbed Boomer value, we’re here and we’re making words now. Get used to it.

Anonymous 9:58 AM  

I am a NICU RN. We say peds all the time. Pronounced “peeds.” As in “we do neonates not peds.” I admit it’s a niche term.

Nancy 9:59 AM  

@Taffy-Kun -- Where's the Rexblog contract that makes that a requirement? I'm pretty sure it doesn't exist. I certainly know I didn't sign it.

I will read the comments when I'm bloody ready to read the comments and not a nanosecond before. If you feel "disrespected", that's a very odd and quirky reaction that I imagine is fairly unique to you. You'll just have to deal with it, poor, sensitive thing.

Wit 10:01 AM  

@ Anonymous

A chop shot is a tennis shot where you swing the racket more vertically than you normally would in order to cause the ball to spin "backwards": meaning it spins in the opposite direction of travel. This makes the ball fizzle when it hits the court on the other side and throws off your opponent's timing.

Backspin is also a concept in table tennis, pool, and (gasp!) golf. In pool it makes the cue ball stop or roll backwards when it hits another ball (good for avoiding a scratch). In golf it keeps the ball from rolling forward when it hits the ground.

It's also called "English" which I've seen in the NYT. English can also refers to sidespin - a related concept.

pmdm 10:05 AM  

TTrimble, Unknown and others do have a point. Mike Sharp can say unkind things when he is fooled by an entry. Give him credit at least that his rants of late seem (at least to me) as somewhat toned down.

The puzzle seemed perfectly fine for a Tuesday puzzles aimed at new solvers. Since it was accepted for publication last year, I suspect Shortz is trying to make sure the durations between puzzles with these types of themes are long enough. Credit where credit is due.

TTrimble 10:11 AM  

Aw shucks. And here I am thinking how becomingly modest I am. ;-) Actually, my earlier comment shows how little I do know about... things.

My knowledge about soccer/football is awfully slender, as you demonstrate. If you were to ask me, "quick, who's the greatest soccer player of all time?" I would blurt out, "Pele" without really knowing what I'm talking about.

Sports, generally, is where I'm up dumbo creek. My taste in sports is a bit eclectic as it is. I've been watching a lot of sumo recently, and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. And arm wrestling, if you consider that a sport. And snooker, if you could possibly consider that a sport.

jberg 10:12 AM  

@Southside—elk have a loud bellowing call; when they emit this call they are said to “bugle.”

Sami 10:16 AM  

This was a great puzzle Kyle! I was thinking - how am I going to get time to solve today, and keep up my streak. Today was day 30 and I even had time left over to post this.

A good puzzle to me gets me stuck thinking "Da da da DUH," all day, mulling and poring, bugling and putting some backspin on my day.

I am excited that until tomorrow I get to go out of the house and pretend to have a life. It is pretty stimulating.

I decided to aim for a 100 day streak, and then quit as I move into tax season again, and my left brain has to kick in for a few months.

Paul F 10:25 AM  

Yeah, PEDS ("peeds") is very common. Also, so is LATERGRAM.

Anonymous 10:27 AM  

does anyone call OB/GYN 'women's medicine'? or orhopods 'bone medicine'? or neurology (not the Atlas sort, of course) 'brain medicine'? and so forth. just askin.

GILL I. 10:28 AM  

OH GREAT...a TRI PEED discussion for breakfast.
Oh, wait...the puzzle. Well, I rather enjoyed it until I didn't. My 38A was a HAIR GIN. Because isn't it GOD Save America? Then I stopped and thought about HAIR GIN. Why not add some gin to your up do? You can take a little curl in your mouth and no one will be the wiser. Anyway, I get to the reveal and decide gin was wrong. I know you men would like to grow a pair, but SPINE it twas. Oh...I see what you've done Kyle. Cool beans.
When Kyle gives me a MESSI, I drool a bit. Next time he can add a little Luis Suarez and I will invite them over for some MOTHER MAY I.
What else did I like? LAUGH LINE. I have them; I'm proud of them. My hair is getting grayer and in the morning I look like PELOSI's eye puffs. But I live the LIFE of the vida loca.
I've never made a CAKE POP but today I'm making a Milk Street Bete Noire. I will post the outcome on FB because that's what I do. I will not perpetrate vile disinformation; I will only LATERGRAM my piece de resistance.

jberg 10:29 AM  

Not only are there PEDS, there are also pods, aka orthopedic surgeons.

There is exactly one restaurant nearby that 1) has a nice patio, and 2) serves lunch. Nextdoor to it is a CAKEPOP shop. Otherwise I’d have been at sea.

@Frantic— I was really rooting for you after you noticed the SPIN>SPINE thing, hoping the whole theme would become clear to you before you posted. Good try!

TJS 10:30 AM  

With ya @ Nancy, Do it your way. Some days I read'em all and decide whether I have something to add. Sometimes I just want to get something off my chest before seeing, or caring, if anyone agrees. No rules, nor should there be.

The Hermit Philosopher 10:31 AM  


Westword 10:35 AM  

Thought this one was pretty easy. Yes to B.B. King, big no to 40-year-old sitcoms. Latergram is definitely a thing. Have viewed and posted many. And my med school friends refer to their peds rotations, so that didn’t bother me. But with the great indie puzzles out there, and great puzzles in other newspapers, I have to agree that it’s a shame the vaunted NYT xword settles for puzzles that are merely ok.

TTrimble 10:37 AM  

My reading is that OFL can be affectionate, or ironic, or some combination of the two. I don't think the general tenor of the commentary supports that Rex enjoys cult-like status, like you-know-who.

Frantic Sloth 10:45 AM  

@Unknown 934am "Question for those of you who refer to rex as OFL. Do you really look to him as your "leader?" Seriously? Would explain on a psychological level why so many folks gravitate to trump, I suppose . . . ."
I don't understand your confusion. Were all just one, big, brainwashed lemming family. Don't tell me you haven't noticed the blind adherence and desperate love we all share toward OFL. To a person, we are dripping of sincerity and earnestness with an utter lack of sarcasm, cynicism, and skepticism, and you'd best get on board with it or suffer the consequences.
My advice: Place your tongue firmly in your cheek and wonder no more.

@bocamp FYI Bashful, Doc, Dopey, Grumpy, Happy, Sleepy, Sneezy. BDDGHSS. It was a spur of the moment ideation, concocted in the blink of an eye. Obviously 😉

@Taffy-Kun 942am I don't know if I know who I am or not, but...if your comment is directed to those of us who post before/without reading Rex and the comments, you're going to be disappointed I'm afraid. That's an M.O. that I copied from @Nancy because it offers an unsullied insight to one's personal opinion without outside influence. Perhaps it's not for everyone, but it has its merits.
If you're addressing the "River of Dead Horses" that happens E.V.E.R.Y. D.A.Y.... well, I guess you're going to be disappointed again, unfortunately. As long as people are, well, people, that's never gonna stop. So, sorry - I guess you're just going to be disappointed either way. It's a cross we all have to bear. 🤷‍♀️

@ghkozen 957am Touched a nerve there, did we? I find "self-absorbed Boomer" particularly amusing for its flagrant irony. 🤣🤣

@jberg 1029am Thanks for your support! I'm sure it helped on some level. 😁

fiddleneck 10:48 AM  

Didn’t know you could make your own cake pops; they are sold at Starbucks.

Anonymous 10:54 AM  

LOL! Rex misunderstands the clue and blames it on the puzzle not his ignorance. And he doubles down on it by citing some of his family's CVs. Classic Rex. The best part though, is Z using some beat-to-death joke to somehow claim that clue and answer could've been better. So rich. So much fawning. So very Z.

I thought the pair of gray cheek thrushes I saw this morning would be the highlight day. But the Bobbsey Twins have blessed me with even more joy.

Crimson Devil 10:59 AM  

Good Tues puz, ‘cept for PEDS, LATEGRAM, TRI, & CAKEPOP, all gettable though. Did like JAILER & LAUGHLINE.

Z 11:01 AM  

@Whatsername - Point taken. Maybe if the One Night Stand were especially standish? I mean if the night was more miles standish than wham bam a note could ensue, couldn’t it?

@Taffy-kun - “Disrespectful?” Wow. Seems a tad overly sensitive. Several commenters current and commenters who no longer comment have said they want to give their candid reaction. With all the strong opinions expressed here I can understand thinking it more honest to read comments post posting so that one’s post is one’s own. There are also some who comment who eschew Rex. Not my thing, but whatever.

@pmdm - I dunno. There is variation from day to day, but overall Rex has been Rex the whole time I’ve been here with the sole exception of never having a good word for Shortz for the last 10 years or so. I saw all the giddy elation over Rex not timing himself one day and thought everyone should put the fireworks away. Sure enough, exact times the last two days.

agarlock 11:04 AM  

Pediatrician here, and confirmed: We call it Peds ("peeds").

Maudie 11:04 AM  

I have a friend who is a pediatrician, she uses PEDS all the time. I immediately knew this answer, before checking the crosses, because of her.

And I’m an elderly Gen X-er who has also heard of LATERGRAMs and CAKEPOPs.

fuzzle47 11:10 AM  

Given the clear legitimacy of both PEDS and LATERGRAM, I'm wondering...does Rex ever acknowledge his own lack of knowledge and maybe apologize for being inappropriately critical?

yesgrrl 11:17 AM  

I knew GROW A SPINE immediately because earlier in the day, someone had sent me a meme styled as a medical diagram, helpfully describing how Republican senators and advisors could easily and quickly grow theirs. Therefore I loved the theme and this puzzle and harbored a thrill thinking about how Rex would latch onto it, to make a timely political statement. I admit as a newbie solver (2-3 years) my pleasure of the solve includes guessing whether Rex will like or excoriate it, then my final step is coming here to confirm. I’m getting increasingly better at solving puzzles but am only at about 25% with Rex-guess-success.

Newboy 11:17 AM  

Thanks Kyle for a Tuesday to remember. Didn’t see you backing into the grid’s backbone since AcrossLite didn’t indicate any linkage to the reveal- - -like many others trying to overcome a previous fraternity house background, I couldn’t see beyond GROW A pairx. Sorta brings home how ones wheelhouse is another’s outhouse doesn’t it. Still enjoy recalling the several TRIs of decades past when finishing under 3 hours was as much an obsession as Rex’s sub-whatever speed solves. We do all have our quirks. Any grid that will allow a moment of B.B. King is okay and toss in some TURNKEY for the GAOL FAJITA bar and I’m on my way to multicultural ecstasy.

How is a soccer star like a teenagers room?

Both are MESS?

yesgrrl 11:19 AM  

The Narcissist Who Must Not Be Named

Anonymous 11:23 AM  

The Narcissist Who Must Not Be Named

second cousin, twice removed to
She Who Must Be Obeyed (and that's not Rumpole)

Unknown 11:24 AM  

hi. I'm from italy, and I'm kinda satisfied about what I'm able to achieve now. it takes about one hour, but I can do a Saturday without help. I'm good with that (a good crossword for me takes the time of a breakfast). but I'm a little at loss about themes. we do not have themes in crosswords in my country, if not in the lame ones. are themes intended to be an aid for solving, or are a puzzle-in-the-puzzle? I should be happy when I solve one without a clue about the theme, or if I don't get the theme even after I lose?

bocamp 11:29 AM  

@Z 8:37 AM

Good catch on the themers growing "inside out" feature; that adds a new level of admiration for it. :)

@Jordan 9:15 AM

Thx for that, and welcome aboard! :)

@ChicagoMama 9:33 AM wrote:

"i didn’t like how spine was “grown” until i realized the “i” is the middle letter and then it grows on alternating sides to make the “spine”"

My thought exactly, although you sussed it out, where I had to learn it from @Z's earlier post. LOL And, with @Jordan, welcome aboard! :)

@mathgent 9:45 AM

I was a Boy Scout; played both "Simon Says" and "Mother May I". 😉

@Wit 10:01 AM

Excellent explanation of the significance of spins (english/draws) in various sports; I've employed the "back spin" technique in all the sports you've mentioned. Had a wicked "side spin" for volleyball serves in jr. hi., and taught my baseball pitchers a "choke-change" "top spin" pitch, which looks like a "12-6 o'clock" curve (easier on the arm than the slider/curve variations).

@TJS 10:30 AM

Agreed. My first contribution of the day goes in blinders on; thereafter, I go back, read Rex, all comments, then post accordingly.

@Frantic wrote:

"@bocamp FYI Bashful, Doc, Dopey, Grumpy, Happy, Sleepy, Sneezy. BDDGHSS. It was a spur of the moment ideation, concocted in the blink of an eye. Obviously 😉"

Hey, hey, I'm thinkin' here. 😉

Peace امن Paz 🕊

RooMonster 11:31 AM  

Hey All !
TuesPuz. Interesting you add a letter to the front of I, then to the end of PI, the front of PIN, the end of SPIN. Was working title "Back and Forth Add A Letter To Get Neat Revealer"? Asking for a friend.

Lots of Abbr./initials in this one. DIYKIT is rather funky. CAKEPOPs are something not known to me, but sound delicious and impossible at the same time. OH GREAT got a chuckle. We've all been there.

36 black squares today, and no Re "way low block count." Har. 🤣

One F

gringa 11:45 AM  

Total "gimmes": PELOSI, STEEL, EYRE, SOOT, LOG, ERA....

Felt insulted just filling in anything so obvious.

Rivers 11:45 AM  

@Nancy, your “oops, my bad,” shows that you are, indeed, a classy lady.

Masked and Anonymous 11:48 AM  

This particular puztheme idea seemed to kinda grow on m&e, as I solved the puz.

Some likable stuff I met along the way: BBKING. DIYKIT. OHGREAT. ATHEART.
Some stuff I learned along the way: LATERGRAM. CAKEPOP. PEDS.

staff weeject pick: TRI. They shoulda/coulda gone with TMI, here. Then its crosser at 31-A could be SMH, which we just recently learned all about. ARC turns into HRH, or somesuch.
That TRI clue was evidently not a fave of the Comment Gallery. It woulda been cooler, I'd grant, if there is one race event where U need to wear a swimsuit, helmet, *and* running shoes, all at once.

Thanx for the fun, Mr. Dolan.

Masked & AnonymoUUs

or themed:

What? 11:50 AM  

I never blog until I read all the comments so I can appear knowledgeable and respectful.

MichGirl 11:55 AM  

I feel like "grow a spine" calls for vertical, not horizontal, clues.

egsforbreakfast 11:57 AM  

I find that at least 98% of comments that accuse the editors of missing or not knowing something or making something up are actually failures on the part of the commenter. There are several modes of such failures:

1. Commenter misread the clue.
2. Commenter didn’t think through the subtleties of the clue.
3. Commenter didn’t research (not even a quick Google check) before declaring the answer wrong or made up.
4. Commenter fails to grasp that a clue that leads to the correct answer is acceptable, even if it is not correct in every technical detail

There are probably other types of commenting failures of this sort. My point is, if one wants to just post away about editing flaws without thinking it through, one will most always be seen by many as simply unaware of the workings of, or basis for, such “flaws”.

Still, I like reading it all, and I also quite liked this puzzle.

Malsdemare 12:03 PM  

@mathgent. Back in the last century when therapy dogs actually were physically present when working (as opposed to now when we are doing reading programs with kids via zoom), we’d play a version of Simon Says: Simon says, “Sit your dog,” and butts go down, “Down your dog” and, yup, half collapse on the floor. Kids, and their parents, loved it: It was double fun, smart, obedient dogs and dumb handlers!

Odd Sock 12:05 PM  

I was stunned the first time I heard an elk bugle. It is such a high pitched sound that I did not expect to come from such a huge magnificent beast. It reminded me of how I felt the first time I heard Mike Tyson speak!

Frantic Sloth 12:30 PM  

@MichGirl 1155am👍 Better idea!

@egsforbreakfast 1157am I mostly agree; however, sometimes it's more funner to just vomit ignorance at the top of one's voice. So I've been told. 😉
There's something to be said for a good Emily Litella rant.

Xcentric 12:31 PM  

The puzzle just fine for a Tuesday and the theme was definitely gettable. Looked over the theme answers and saw it in the end (no pun intended.)
None of the “controversial” clues and fill seemed like that big of a problem to me. Once filled in I could see how the answer could make sense - tri for triathlon, latergram vs Instagram, peds for pediatric medications, etc.
Agree, the clueing wasn’t perfect, but heck, how often do you get a perfect puzzle?
I try not to let the perfect get in the way of the good.
Do any of our long time commenters have any idea what percentage of the clues are usually changed/tweaked by the editor? It would be interesting to see original vs edited clues - now that would be an interesting discussion.

thfenn 12:35 PM  

Struggled with today's. Started off with a smile, given that the newest member of my family is a 7 week old named ISLA. But quickly became a slog - went with SueT over SOOT, for some unfathomable reason, and downhill from there, e.g. 'intro' before MOTIF, 'CornPOP', and somehow even BLueS came to mind before BLISS, which surely is a bad sign.

Tried forever to figure out how GROWApaIr_ was going to work, looking at words with pairs of Is in them (IONIC, LIFEOFPI, HAIRPIN, DIYKIT, OILRIG), pairs of Es (STEEL, REED, CELEB, ELSE, EYRE), pairs of Os (COMBOS, SOOT, NOONE), pairs of As (DAMAGED, ATHEART, HASASIP, BALSA), not to mention pairs of Ms (MOTHERMAYI, MGM), a pair of Bs (BBKING), a pair of Ls (LAUGHLINE), and pairs of Ss (BLISS, MESSI, HASASIP).

As I tend to be one of those who reads and then posts (seems like we're back to a high level of snark today, no?), count me among those who are familiar with the use of PEDS when referring to paediatrics, and had no issue there.

But GROWASPINE produced the 'aha' moment - so while harder for me than most Tuesdays, ended up fine.

Z 12:39 PM  

@Unknown Italian 11:24 - Only rarely, in my experience, do themes help with solving the puzzle. Today’s puzzle is more typical for me where I get to the GROW A SPINE answer and have to go back and look to see what happened. Maybe 5 times a year I suss out a theme early and it helps me get the other theme answers. On very rare occasions knowing a theme has helped me with a difficult cross.

@fuzzle47 - Well, Rex did apologize to Canada for the national anthem mistake, but only on Twitter.. Oh wait, he did add an update on the blog: [update: LOL apparently it's "we stand on guard for thee," you can stop emailing me now, thanks :)] That must have been added really late because it wasn’t there when I checked the blog after seeing his Tweet.
I think as a general rule I’ve only seen him post updates rarely and he mostly lets his errors stand. I’m not sure why anyone ever thinks making an interpretation error of a crossword clue/answer would ever require an apology. I’m sure Rex isn’t the only solver who read “medicine” as drugs rather than profession.

@greenegsforbreakfast - Nice synopsis. For #1 there are at least two types; Flat out reading the clue wrong like chop shop instead of chop shot or not seeing how a clue word means something else like misunderstanding how “medicine” works in the clue today.

@MichGirl - Now that you say it I agree.

@What? - 😂🤣😂 - I see what you did there.

@Newboy 11:17 - It looks like your punchline got auto-corrupted.

@10:54 - Sort of stalkery aren’t you? Also, if you insist on commenting on my comments learn to read.

@Unknown 9:34 - Whoosh. Duck much?

Unknown 12:39 PM  


albatross shell 12:46 PM  

I thought this was a Starbucks crowd here. I go to one about twice a year so I didn't know CAKEPOP. But the person who was with me knew and she goes as often as I do.

TURNKEY: Not used much currently, but not uncommon in in old or historically-set books, plays, films and songs. Just happen to be watching The Beggar's Opera with Lawrence Olivier playing MacHeath. I think it was used there. Or did someone call Chester that in that Gunsmoke episode I saw? Hmmmm. Or both?

Check out his highlights on YouTube. He flicks his little finger and people fall down. The Barry Sanders of that other football game.

I thought the theme was fine. Even helped me get (HAIR)PIN, my last word in. Had net there first time through.

Great misdirection on the BACKSPIN clue. Had me working on stolen cars.

What a teen tells Nana when asked to do a chore?


Nigel Pottle 12:52 PM  

Cake pops are a thing. You aren’t wandering in bake shops or coffee shops much I guess. Starbucks sells them for gawdsake. And I don’t frequent Starbucks much but I’ve seen them there and in other places, not just county fairs. Rex could use a little sugar in his tea, or coffee. Bitch bitch bitch. “I’ve never heard of it so how can it exist!” A tad on the narcissist side, I think. Not that we don’t know that.

Kyle 12:58 PM  

It seems odd for someone whose favorite criticism of a puzzle is "old and tired" to have been using the same "I've never heard of this so it doesn't exist" shtick for years and years.

Google things.

thfenn 1:01 PM  

LOL, FWIW, I enjoy reading OFL, think there was no reason to complain about PEDS, think there's nothing out of whack in referring to him as OFL, and agree with @Nancy and others on whether to read and comment or comment and read.

Douglas 1:02 PM  

I know it’s been hashed out but I am a pediatrician (cardiologist) and rarely use the full term pediatric. I say peds cardiology all the time. 3D reminded me of the great Mitch Hedberg bit - One time, this guy handed me a picture of him, he said "Here's a picture of me when I was younger." Every picture is of you when you were younger. "Here's a picture of me when I'm older." "You son-of-a-bitch! How'd you pull that off? Lemme see that camera... What's it look like? "

jae 1:05 PM  

Slightly tougher than medium, mostly because I had to fix HAIRnet. Smooth and clever, liked it much more than @Rex did. Jeff said this one would have been POW in most weeks, so it looks like we have something even better coming up.

bocamp 1:11 PM  

***Posting before/after reading all comments alert***

I vote for patience and tolerance.

Commenters' posting habits are far-ranging and variable. They're sorta like life. 😉

I have a rule of thumb for my posts, but even then, may not always adhere to it 100%.

"Live and let live" 😊

Peace امن Paz 🕊

egsforbreakfast 1:23 PM  

@Xcentric 12:31 pm. Do any of our long time commenters have any idea what percentage of the clues are usually changed/tweaked by the editor? It would be interesting to see original vs edited clues - now that would be an interesting discussion.

I don’t know the answer to this, but you might find it interesting to go to and scroll down on the home page to “Will Shortz provides a clue-by-clue analysis of how he edits a crossword“.

Joe Dipinto 1:30 PM  

Missed cross-cluing opportunity: The tempo designation for the first movement of Beethoven's Fifth is Allegro con brio.

Anonymous 1:43 PM  

As usual, half the comments are old people complaining that they didn't understand a clue that is post-1979.

There seems to be a misunderstanding from some comments re: LATERGRAM. The term is commonly used with relation to vacation or travel photos. For example, if I am posting a photo of a recent trip but am not longer in that location, I would use #latergram to call out that I am not actually in that spot anymore. I don't want a bunch of people saying "wow you are in Mexico right now???" when I post a photo I took last week, but am now at home. It basically gives advance notice that I am not at that location anymore but still wanted to share the photo.

I'm surprised you people didn't complain about POD Save America more.

Not surprised about the CAKEPOP hate, that's another one for the youngs.

the PEDS and TRI hate is misplaced, I know plenty of people in both fields and every single one of them uses those terms.

Anonymous 2:00 PM  

While it's possible to read "Child's Medicine" as pediatrics, that requires looking for the 15th definition of Medicine. You're then left with Child's practice of Medicine, which is also awkward. This would have been fine for Friday or Saturday, not a Tuesday.

Also, I hate "GROW A SPINE" Anyone who would presume to say that to me would get, at least, a resounding F*&k You!. I would expect that same if I were to say that to anyone.

Anonymous 2:28 PM  

these days TURNKEY describes tricked out building space, most often for rent/lease at the short term. doesn't fit, does it?

Maddiegail 2:30 PM  

I was a letter short on the answer I wanted for 15D!

Anonymous 2:32 PM  

Anyone who would presume to say that to me would get, at least, a resounding F*&k You!

well... what if you're a Right Wing senator who refuses to call The Orange Sh!tgibbon (not my coinage, but I cleave) a liar for just 1 of his ~20,000 prevarications? either a spine or a set of gonads would be nice. :)

Unknown 2:44 PM  

@ Frantic Sloth 10:45
I was referring to the many times I've seen posters refer to rex as OFL, and not in an ironic or tongue in cheek manner, but truly as a legitimate form of address. Unless the irony is utterly going right over my head . . . . but usually the post has a positive or complimentary vibe to it.

Note: I see "OFL" usage primarily amongst the ten or so "regulars" who "dominate" the boards, never or extremely rarely among first-timers or infrequent posters. However, I rarely see Z employ the term, although he often strikes me as playing Sean Hannity to OFL's Donald Trump! (only slightly exaggerating)

Whatsername 2:50 PM  

@Taffy (9:42) Many people post before reading comments or just skim them first, or possibly they don’t ever read others’ comments at all. It’s a matter of personal preference. Whatever your pleasure, there’s a foolproof way to deal with what you consider clutter. Just keep on scrolling.

@Z (11:01) Oh no you don’t! I’m not going there, but I am curious. Are you speaking from experience?

@MichGirl (11:55) Excellent observation. A vertical SPINE would’ve been awesome.

pabloinnh 3:00 PM  

@Anon. 1:43-Well, I'm one of the "old people", but like the majority of "old people" who comment on newer terminology that appears in the xword, I'm not "complaining". Many of us are fond of learning new stuff, and say so. Today I learned LATERGRAM (thanks for the explanation). New to me, as the next instagram I post will be the first one. PEDS was new, but ignorance of this term seems to be related to experience, not one's age. Also I learned CAKEPOP, which I gather is sold at shops called "Starbucks", which I assume is some kind of patisserie.

Contrast the reaction of "old people" to the general dismay of seeing a clue like "turnkey' for JAILER. Now THERE's some "complaining".

Anonymous 3:12 PM  

Laughing at Rex's hateful review of this one... I thought LATERGRAM was a fantastic word to appear in a puzzle (it is definitely a thing... a common thing, in fact). It was a nicely integrated piece of millennial slang.

Also can confirm.... I am a pediatrician and we refer extremely commonly to our field as "PEDS" (as others have said, it sounds like 'PEEDS')... so does everyone else in the medical field. This clue is referencing medicine as a discipline, not medicine like a pill you swallow. It's the same as calling orthopedics "ortho" and neurology "neuro"- just common medical slang.

Rex... take a chill pill (like a pill you swallow this time)

albatross shell 3:44 PM  

15 down:
I made it just the right length even though the the I was long.
Or are we making the same joke?

Anonymous 3:46 PM  

@ghkozen (9:57) Congratulations on solidly absorbing that core self-absorbed value by loudly judging those older than you. Boomers are here and have been making words since before you were born. Get over it.

pmdm 3:49 PM  

Z: I didn't mean to imply Mr. Sharp is less frequently negative but was only observing I found his judgments voiced a little less vehemently. Then again, I just may be in a better than average (for me) mood. And I'm not sure, but his hatred for Shortz may only have popped up after Will rejected a crossword submission of his. Too much research for me.

Egsforbreakfast: I once emailed Shortz a comment about I thought one of the clues was technically incorrect. (Not how I would have phrased it.) He sent me a rely that said (not in a flippant way) that the clue was close enough to being correct as crossword puzzles demand. Personally, I think a clue should be 100% correct (especially when a small clue change achieves that), but the rules are what they are.

Allie C 3:53 PM  

Joining the chorus that "LATERGRAM" is definitely a *thing* but not super inferable from the clue so the generational divide is strong with this one. Total gimme for me but while I threw it down with no crosses I thought, "No chance Rex has ever heard of this one and he will hate it." I love being right! I also have pediatrician friends and other doctors who have been on med school rotation and they always refer to the practice as "PEDS" with a long E.

I DO like hearing what Rex had trouble with, but if he wants to take it further to opine on whether answers are cross-worthy he should really Google as a rule ("latergram" and "peds medicine" both get millions of hits). Just because you've done thousands of crosswords doesn't mean you're done learning new stuff from crosswords!

Alexandra M 4:04 PM  

Rex, must you always go on tirades when you PERSONALLY aren't familiar with an answer? Do you need a token millennial/female friend to run things by? I volunteer as tribute. LATERGRAM is absolutely a thing, and if you'd seen even one episode of Grey's Anatomy you'd know PEDS ("peeds") is too. I wish you'd apologize the next day or in an edit when you go off on a rant like this and the entire comment section calls you out. You complain about the NYT being dominated by old white men but single-mindedly use your personal old white man vocabulary to decide what's "real" and what isn't.

Maddiegail 4:11 PM  

@albatross (3:44 p.m.) I do believe so. (Guess I could've use an E and a Y, huh?

Ingrid 4:59 PM  

Imagine if these four Q/As: Obama Era, Pod Save America, Nancy Pelosi. Handmaid’s Tale had instead been Bush Era, Ben Shapiro Show, Devin Nunez and Atlas Shrugged. Imagine the melt down from the blogger and the commenters. Hey it’s his blog he can write what he wants. It’s just sad how intolerant one side of the conversation is while pretending to be the tolerant ones. Classic gaslighting.

sanfranman59 5:11 PM  

@ghkozen ... "And while I know loudly judging coinages by those younger than you is a core self-absorbed Boomer value, we’re here and we’re making words now. Get used to it." ... We Boomers weren't the first generation to engage in this distasteful behavior and I'm quite confident that we won't be the last. Get used to it.

Biden Fan 5:28 PM  

@ Ingrid- Agreed. I’m a Democrat and have no problem seeing the names of Republicans and right wingers in a crossword. I think that’s true of most Democrats. Rex represents and a tiny minority of Democrats who, thanks to the internet, can wield a lot of influence. There’s no doubt in my mind that the constructors and editors are influenced by Rex and the rest of the woke crossword world. The puzzle suffers. Imagine being upset at seeing NRA or Trump in a puzzle ? Do these people ever leave their homes ?

GILL I. 6:00 PM  

My mother, my father, my aunt, my uncle, my first cousins, my second cousins, all my neighbors and my maid were all pediatricians and none of them heard of PEDS. I read EVERY SINGLE person before I post so that I can be sure I don't say how much OFL needs to get a life, stop drinking and read some Shakespeare instead of Donald Duck.
I love coinages and self absorbed Boomer values and I always look forward to our friend @Z and his million posts. If @Frantic doesn't post I go into post partem depression. I also put my eyebrows on before I leave the house. lord.....

bocamp 7:23 PM  


Peace امن Paz 🕊

Jeremiah Wright 7:33 PM  

God Damn America ...I’m Raphael Warnock and I approved this message.

webwinger 7:47 PM  

LATERGRAM here, but still wanted to weigh in. I thought this was one of the best Tuesdays ever. Loved the way SPINE GReW from its core “I” with successive additions front and back. Liked how the theme emerged gradually before being highlighted by its revealer/final answer. Difficulty level just right--almost exactly average Tuesday time, though it seemed a bit more crunchy than usual.

Theme answers were all pretty snappy except for HAIRPIN, which at least did not detract. Fill was quite good too, IMO. Nice clues for IONIC and MINER. I too can confirm that PEDS is in very common use among healthcare professionals.

Regarding OFL, I believe I was the first to apply this moniker to @Rex, back in 2013. It began, of course, as a reference to the Rocky and Bullwinkle show, specifically the army officer called Fearless Leader to whom spies Boris and Natasha reported. Seemed somehow right as a designation for RP, as its perpetuation seems to have confirmed. BTW, I recently watched The Death of Stalin, terrific dark comedy flick starring Steve Buscemi as Khrushchev, in which General Zhukov, a leader of the Soviet Army since WW2, was a minor character. He was portrayed with what appeared to be a large scar from a saber wound on his face, just like FL in R&B. Not sure which came first (though as a historical figure I’d bet on the general).

Doc John 8:19 PM  

Somewhere, there is a conservative crossword blogger just ripping his/her hair out at the inclusion of PELOSI in the puzzle.

Did anyone else try "corndog" for CAKEPOP?

And add another vote to the "PEDS is a thing" camp.

RooMonster 8:26 PM  

I don't like those who don't like others non-liking of people who dislike others' disliked posts. I get agita when reading about the reading of others' posts that were read without wanting the reading.

Can't we all just stop posting, stop reading, stop disliking, stop complaining, stop. Stop the madness.

RooMonster 😂✌️ Guy

Unknown 8:29 PM  

Cake pops is a sign of the coming apopcakesalypse ... SORRY

Graham 8:37 PM  


dusky 8:40 PM  

Perhaps the worst puzzle ever. Totally agreed with you,Rex. The cluing sucked. Grow a spine? Is that even a phrase? No. It's Grow a Pair. I had to have every single cross to get the answer. Because I found it unbelievable.

albatross shell 9:05 PM  

My one and only favorite post on this subject. But says it al

Unknown 9:16 PM  

For people wondering about the term "turnkey", it appears in the movie Silence of the Lambs. The evil warden says to Jodi Foster "I'm not just some turnkey" soon after he meets her.

albatross shell 9:16 PM  


I might say grow a pair or get a spine. Google has quite a bit of grow a spine going on. So that is a pretty thin argument for unbelievable and worst puzzle ever.

Anonymous 10:07 PM  

Rex is really talking out of his a** if he’s never heard of the term peds yet knows all these medical professionals.

Nancy 10:13 PM  

Wonderfully funny 6:00 p.m. post, @GILL. You really captured so much of the absurdity of today's blog. I laughed out loud.

Joe Dipinto 10:21 PM  

I can't *believe* no one posted this.

The duo that gave us the execrable "In The Year 2525" back in 1969 followed up that success with this cheerful little ditty sung by a rapist who seems to be attempting self-crucifixion in his jail cell. Understandably, this song never made in onto the Billboard charts. Enjoy!

– Zager & Evans

Mr. Turnkey, it's ten pm in Wichita Falls
August sixteen, nineteen-sixty-nine and I'm in some bar
Mr. Turnkey, I need a woman and I'm ain't getting far
I never was the kind of man a woman looked for

But Mr Turnkey, she looked at me with flirting eyes
Mr. Turnkey, she was lovelier than oil rights*
Mr. Turnkey, she led me on, she led me on,
She knew she wasn't going to let me love her

Mr. Turnkey, I forced that girl in Wichita Falls
Mr. Turnkey, I'm sitting here crying in my coveralls
Mr. Turnkey, I don't want to be the man I am
Mr. Turnkey, I'm calling from block number four
Mr. Turnkey, you ain't never seen nothing like this before
Mr. Turnkey, I nailed my wrist to your wall, I'm going home

Mr. Turnkey, I'm calling from block number four
Mr. Turnkey, I ain't got the strength to call once more
Mr. Turnkey, I'm crying, hanging here dying
Tell her I'm sorry

*my favorite lyric

Frantic Sloth 11:02 PM  

@J-Dip 1021pm Thanks for the lyrics, Chuckles. 🤣

@GILL & @Roo win the comments today!
@GILL Have you done something jolly with your hair? 😉

Monty Boy 11:05 PM  

I liked this one a lot. I must be old - I knew who the turnkey was right away.

Regarding spines: I watched a NOVA recently about writing materials. Parchment is made from animal skin treated with hot water and scraped many times. When you hold the finish skin to the light you can see the outline of the skeleton of the beast, including the spine. Hence the name of the part of a book that holds the whole shebang together. Kinda neat.

Steve 9:19 AM  

PEDS is a common enough short-hand expression in epidemiology. We finished the adult survey but the PEDS version is still in the field.

RAZ 3:00 PM  

Cakepops have been sold at Starbucks for several years. They're delicious. Small round cake stuck on a stick - like a lollipop but with cake!

EB 12:31 PM  

Only every single pediatrician

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