Alliterative "Doctor" of children's literature / WED 9-15-21 / Collaborative principle in improv comedy / Exclamation of shock spelled in a modern way / Old rug in a courtroom / Garfield's romantic interest in the comics

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Constructor: Sophie Buchmueller and Ross Trudeau

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: HEAD FAKE (57A: Basketball feint ... or a hint to 17-, 24-, 36- and 46-Across?) — theme answers are fake parts of heads, clued with wacky "?" clues:

Theme answers:
  • GLASS EYE (17A: Socket replacement?)
  • DENTAL CROWN (24A: Canine covering?)
  • FALSE LASHES (36A: Batter's additions?)
  • POWDERED WIG (46A: Old rug in a courtroom?)
Word of the Day: Doctor DE SOTO (62A: Alliterative "Doctor" of children's literature) —

Doctor De Soto is a picture book for children written and illustrated by William Steig and first published in 1982. It features a mouse dentist who must help a fox with a toothache without being eaten.

Steig and his book won the 1983 National Book Award for Children's Books in category Picture Books, Hardcover, as did Barbara Cooney for Miss Rumphius.

Doctor De Soto was also recognized as a Newbery Honor Book. At 32 pages it is one of the shortest to be honored in that awards program. (wikipedia)

• • •

Never warmed up to this one. If you describe the theme, maybe it sounds OK, but solving it was mostly unpleasant. The "?" clues were bizarre to me. There's no rhyme or reason to them. There's no pattern to the wordplay or phrasing. It's just "let's try to mask the answer a little, just to add some other level to the puzzle." Are the clues supposed to be another example of a "fake"? Like a "fake-out"? Like, "haha, you thought we were talking about pancake batter, but really it's an eyelash batter ... say TOUCHÉ now!" I dunno. The whole cluing logic was lost on me. And the DENTAL CROWN clue wasn't even a fake, really. Not sure it even needed a "?". The cluing phrases aren't good misdirection. They don't sound like actual things at all. [Socket replacement?] makes me think of ... nothing. [Old rug in a courtroom?] is just nonsense. It's like you had a potentially great revealer (HEADFAKE) and then didn't know what to do with it exactly and so ended up with this. Constructors, please take my HEADFAKE Revealer Challenge and make a better HEADFAKE-themed puzzle. I believe it's out there, the Platonic Ideal of the HEADFAKE puzzle. But this one just doesn't have the zip and zing and thoughtfulness it should. And the fill was truly grating in many places, from the "just 'cause it's in your enormous wordlist doesn't make it good" PIECEWISE to the "that's not an exclamation, that's a chemical formula, at best" WOAH, to the always unwelcome ETAIL sitting alongside the far more unwelcome NONPC (which somehow manages to be worse than UNPC, which is itself a bogus term used by bigots who mistakenly believe they are free-speech warriors whose truth-telling the libs just can't handle!). AS IF I CARE is original but it's also just not what people say. "SEE IF I CARE!" would be a Great phrase. "LIKE I CARE" is definitely in-the-language. AS IF I CARE ... sigh, sure, maybe some people say that, but when two better phrases come to mind, maybe your phrase isn't really the one you should be going with. 

I had all my trouble in and around the latticework of PIECEWISE / WOAH / FALSE LASHES / LLC / ASIFICARE, which seems like a lot of trouble, but actually there were just pesky patches. Not sure why I can't keep my LTDs and LLCs straight, but here we are in 2021 and sadly I still can't. I think the "cousin" in 33D: Inc. cousin made me think, like, "your cousin overseas ... Ian ... the British cousin," and so I went with LTD ... which is, in fact, British Inc. (or so crossword clues have told me over the years ... so I guess I feel less bad about writing in LTD now. I just misunderstood the way "cousin" was being used. No other difficulties with the puzzle, just questions. Like, what the hell is up with DOOR ONE (38D: "Let's Make a Deal" choice). I really (really) feel like there should be a "number" between those two words. Google thinks same.

"Let's see what's behind DOOR *NUMBER* ONE" is how I remember the phrasing (from back when I occasionally watched that show, which was when I was a child, which feels like the show's intended audience, but what do I know). The most puzzling answer of all, though, was COARSE. How ... how is the answer here not HOARSE (53A: Roughly speaking?)!?!?!?! I don't associate COARSE with "speaking" at all, but HOARSE, wow perfect. The phrase "roughly speaking" suggests approximation, but you turn it around via the "?" clue and give us an answer that means "speaking roughly," great! But that answer should be HOARSE, which literally means "(of a person's voice) sounding rough or harsh" (Google/Oxford Languages) (my emph.). COARSE is wrong here. Bad. Flat-out ... just no.

I was stunned to learn that Doctor DE SOTO was famous enough to warrant crossword inclusion (62A: Alliterative "Doctor" of children's literature).  Pleasantly stunned. When DOOLITTLE obviously wasn't going to fit, I was stuck, but when DE SOTO came into view, I was reminded of reading that book to my daughter a lot when *she* was a child. I'd forgotten that Doctor DE SOTO was a William Steig creation. Man, that guy couldn't miss. Hey, why is "Doctor" in quotation marks in this clue? That mouse is a Doctor of Vulpine Dentistry, show him some respect! Anyway, to sum up, Doctor DE SOTO, D.V.D., good, the rest of this puzzle, pass. Thanks for listening, bye.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


bocamp 6:21 AM  

Thx Sophie & Ross, for your crunchy creation. Loved the theme. :)

Both easy and difficult solve.

Breezed thru this one like gangbusters, only to be FAKEd out at PIECEWISE, INA, WOAH, DOLCE.

Spent as much time trying to come up with something plausible to make sense of those four, as I spent on the rest of puzzle all together.

Happy to say that I got it right, but with great trepidation when filling in the final cell. Phew/Whew!

Googling all of them now. lol

Love a challenge, and this definitely provided one. :)
yd 0

Peace ~ Compassion ~ Tolerance ~ Kindness to all

Lewis 6:33 AM  

This puzzle was for me a HEAD FAKE in another way – it faked out my head! I like to try to guess the theme before getting the revealer, and while I’m sometimes successful, today I had no idea. I think that’s because I was looking for a wordplay theme – the kind of theme that crosswords usually have – when there is none here. Nonetheless, I, a wordplay lover, got my fill of it in those terrific theme clues, playing on “socket”, “canine”, “batter”, and “rug”.

I never mind being outwitted, and well played for doing that, Sophie and Ross, not to mention well played for those entertaining theme clues. Not to mention the answers YES AND, and AS IF I CARE which drew inner applause. Thank you for your puzzle!

John Galt 6:34 AM  

Methinks the roughly speaking clue went over Rex’s head.

snabby 6:42 AM  

True pleasure to see WOAH today. IRL I hate the fact that it's come into common usage when there's a perfectly fine original, but it's here to stay, and I loved seeing it in this puzzle.

RJ 6:43 AM  

I liked this puzzle a lot more than Rex - I've never heard of head fake but I also learned almost everything I know about sports from the NYTXW. Also movie directors, musical theater, and rap music.

I did not love piece wise, nor woah crossing- woah? not whoa? I did like Desoto not being clued as the old car and NOT seeing Cretan in this puzzle.

Not a bad way to start the day. Happy Wednesday everyone.

Trey 6:52 AM  

I liked the theme. Really liked “socket replacement” as a clue. That was clever.

WOAH was almost a WOE. Do we really need another way to spell whoa? I got a small giggle out of TEAPOT since we had SPOUT from last week from the same song, and clued that way. It was interesting to see SCALED and CLIMB crossing.
NAE (repeat from last week) and NAH were interesting as paired but not great fill overall. I got YESAND from watching “Lucifer” over the summer, as one of the characters does improv training to cope with stress. Overall an enjoyable puzzle.

GILL I. 6:58 AM  

Another day of what did I just puzzle.....I don't even know what a HEAD FAKE is. I thought of a HEAD take maybe or even a lake or make....and the list went on. Why? you ask...Because I don't have a frickin' clue what a prefix for futurism is. Oh...look! It's an AFRO...
Of course my mind wandered into the nethers - especially with GLASS EYE. When I was young and had no manners, there was this man who used to roll up Cuban cigars. He lived in a little hut in our small pueblo and he had this huge black smile. He has a GLASS EYE that never moved and he always looked cross-eyed. Of course I asked him about it and he told me a dog bit him in the nose and it made his teeth and his eye to fall out. I believed him, of course.
I've never worn FALSE EYE LASHES nor a POWDERED WIG. I see RIEN and I think of Edith Piaf.
Non, RIEN de RIEN.

ZenMonkey 7:01 AM  

The theme answers are all FAKE parts of a HEAD. GLASS EYE, partly false tooth, FALSE LASHES, and a WIG which is FAKE hair.

I found this difficult mainly because of PIECEWISE, a totally unfamiliar word to me, but not because I couldn’t grok the theme, which I thought was inconsistent but entertaining.

Also, Merriam Webster defines COARSE as

3 : crude or unrefined in taste, manners, or language
4 : harsh, raucous, or rough in tone

The clue fits either definition perfectly.

oceanjeremy 7:09 AM  

I really enjoyed all the theme answers on their own, but then the revealer hit and I was scratching my head. Hate the revealer, therefore I guess I hate the theme.

Could this have played like a themeless maybe? I think so! (Though it couldn’t have run in the NYTXW as a themeless.) Could the constructors have come up with a better revealer for these theme clues? No idea. But they probably couldn’t have come up with worse, so maybe they should’ve stabbed around for something else before running this as-is.

Hartley70 7:15 AM  

This puzzle was well placed on a Wednesday and I agree on a medium difficulty, maybe a tad harder because HEADFAKE as a sports term means nothing to me. It does, however, describe the themers appropriately, if not cleverly, for me. To start with GLASSEYE was nicely tricky and just a bit creepy because unlike the other themers, it’s not really a choice, is it?

YESAND was the best fill and WOAH the most annoying. TAGSUP/TApSUP was a coins toss as was LLC/Ltd, and I guessed correctly. I’m actually one of @Rex’s rare birds who would say ASIFICARE if I was being snarky. I couldn’t recall the last letter of the dopey NAE even though it appeared recently and I’ve already forgotten it again. Time to return to Scottish, please. PIECEWISE reads rather blah but might be a thrill to a mathematician. I needed the crosses there. ICEBOX was a trip down memory lane. It’s chilling to think I actually remember my grandmothers!

amyyanni 7:21 AM  

Liked this a lot. Glad to learn of Dr. DeSoto today. (Steig fan; who isn't?) Wonder if Dr. D can handle camel teeth? Because of course, it's Hump Day. Hope yours is happy. Hanging art today, having lived here enough to have a feel for where things might go.

kitshef 7:24 AM  

A curious thing helped my solve today. We don’t have HBO, so when 57D referenced a show I’d never heard of, HBO came immediately to mind.

No idea why a tabloid is supposed to be easy to read. I generally find them cringeworthy.

2D reminds me of the comic strip Garfield minus Garfield. Google it for a taste of existential humor.

NONPC crossing ANGERS and NIP is cute.

Anonymous 7:25 AM  

Help me with 15A. What’s “ina?” Jim

Conrad 7:26 AM  

DESOTO was a WOE, since my kids are older than @Rex's. "Alliterative" in the clue gave me the first letter, but I'd already guessed that the last two letters of 40D would be ED. But knowing the E helped because the Let's Make a Deal answer had to be ONE or two, and guessing ONE gave me ENDURE and the rest of the corner followed quickly. Fell into the @Rex Ltd/LLC trap but climbed right out of it thanks to DuLCE and Gabbanna, with the erroneous "u" getting corrected along with the rest of the SW. Basically medium for a Wednesday.

Lewis 7:33 AM  

I have to say, when I started doing the NYT crossword all those many years ago, it did feel like the typical constructor was a white male, middle age or older. There was much hew and cry about this a couple of years ago (@rex included), and what has resulted is a group of constructors that so much more fits the diverse family that we humans inhabit. This result, IMO, feels right, feels splendid, and has made the puzzle itself more varied, interesting, and scintillating, while keeping its high quality. Kudos all around!

Son Volt 7:37 AM  

Not too keen on this one - clunky theme and Monday level fill. Agree with Rex that there’s a disconnect with the theme logic. Did like PIECEWISE and ARLENE. SEPTIC is not a great addition. Assuming the NIP x NON PC cross was intentional. Learned DESOTO.

Where’s the sassy Wednesday fun lately?

Trey 7:54 AM  

For the non-sports people on the blog - HEAD FAKE is often used when a basketball player slightly moves the head (and often upper body) slightly and quickly to one side to get the defender to move that direction, and then goes off quickly in the other direction. It is also seen in football and many other sports. Getting a very small advantage on your opponent is often the difference between making the play and not. There are videos on the web of really good head fakes where the defender over corrects, stumbles and leaves their opponent completely open

Mike Herlihy 7:54 AM  

I'm probably not the only one to tell you this, @Anonymous 7:25, but Ina Garten is a celebrity "chef" from the South, whose drawl is indicated by "eatin'" in the clue.

kitshef 7:56 AM  

@Anon 7:25 - INA is a name in this case. INA Garten hosts a cooking show and writes cookbooks.

Georgia 8:03 AM  

Ina Garten.

Kevin 8:04 AM  

Ina Garten, host of a cooking show.

Kevin 8:07 AM  

A “head fake” is when a basketball player moves his/her head in the opposite direction they intend to actually move in an attempt to fool their defender. I had PUMPFAKE first, though (the player fakes a shooting motion to try and get their defender to jump to contest the shot, allowing them to jump to shoot as the defender is coming down from their jump).

JD 8:08 AM  

A puzzle of cluewise cruciverbial Head Fakes that should have been this week's Tuesday. A lot of fun.

Dribbled my way from top to bottom. But traveling (no pun intended), in a time zone not my own and it's wreaking havoc on my already precarious sleep, so slobbering is to be expected.

Almost finished after one pass (again, no pun intended) and the reveal was a real delight. There's no play in basketball that I love more than a Head Fake, quick-thinking, surprising, and fun to watch.

Joaquin 8:13 AM  

Usually, I am delighted to learn new stuff when doing crosswords. But today I am not delighted; guess I'm "lighted" to learn there is an alternate (and acceptable) spelling of "whoa". What is the purpose/reason to use what is essentially an anagram of the original, perfectly good spelling of this word? Talk about yer WOEs!

SouthsideJohnny 8:14 AM  

Found it challenging, but not really enjoyable. The theme just seemed so “forced” to me - there was no humor or wordplay coming through on the theme clues or answers. Some of the other clues tried way too hard as well (see TARP, for example).

And oh, btw Mr. Shortz, if you consider RIEN a foreign word that has “slipped into general usage”, you speak a version of the English language with which I am not familiar.

JBT 8:18 AM  

Being a Maths major, I loved the inclusion of PIECEWISE. Also, really liked POWDERED WIG; it made me grin for some reason. Didn't care for WOHA, completely agree with Rex on that one.

pabloinnh 8:19 AM  

Having had problems with a detached retina and too much experience with toilets and drains, GLASSEYE crossing SEPTIC was a rather unpleasant way to start, but constructors can't know my personal yucks so on I went.

Can you get a DENTALCROWN on a canine? I guess so, but I've only seen them on flat teeth.

YESAND is news to me. Got to catch up. Ditto for DOLCE.

DESOTO to me is a car or an explorer. Sounds like a good kids' book though.

Hard for me to understand how people don't know HEADFAKE, until I think of all the things of which I am ignorant, which are legion.

@amiyanni-Good for you. Our art is still in brown paper moving wrappers and leaning against our dining table, wondering where it will go. We are finally down to one storage unit though, thanks to the flea market.

Nice Wednesday with some pushback, SB and RT. Somewhat Baffling but eventually Reason Triumphed. Thanks for the fun.

Jason 8:26 AM  

I was meh on this one too, but I have to admit “Garten of eatin’” is a fantastic clue.

Frantic Sloth 8:34 AM  

So, I guess in a world of "alternate facts" we're simply calling misspelled words "modern" now. That's actually a perfectly accurate description. It is very modern to not give a crap about spelling or grammar or similar "rules".
You go ahead and dumb yourself down, NYT, but I will forever bristle at WOAH.
Clearly I'm no genius and I appreciate the fluidity of our language but why did kids in my school get slapped around when they made such mistakes and now it's just "oh, that's not a misspelling - it's modern." GTFOHWT Isn't anything ever just wrong anymore??

HEAD FAKE indeed.

Well, at least I found the theme rather cute and fun. I enjoyed it...I guess that's why it couldn't run on the Tuesdee, despite being much easier than yesterday's - for me anyway, and I'm betting I'm not alone.

53A "Roughly speaking?" COARSE. Hand up if you had hOARSE at some point. I started with COARSE and thought "oh, no - hOARSE is better" and it still is. AS IF I hARE could mean something...perhaps if uttered by the victorious tortoise? Oh, well - a hOARSE is a COARSE of course of course.

I'm nothing if not wrong about something.


Peter P 8:36 AM  

@Anonymous 7:25. Ina Garten is a food celebrity on the Food Network, starring in her show Barefoot Contessa.

@kitshef - A tabloid is a newspaper of a size that is smaller than a broadsheet. They typically fold only along the side, whereas a broadsheet also has a fold down the middle (hence phrases like "above the fold" when referring to story placement in broadsheet newspapers.) Here in Chicago, the Chicago Sun-Times is a tabloid; the Trib is a broadsheet (though they very briefly flirted with a tabloid edition in 2011). In New York, the Times is a broadsheet, and the Post and Daily News are both tabloids. They are "easy to read" in that physically you don't have to do weird folds and contortions with the paper as you do a broadsheet. Tabloids just open up and read like a book. While you can do that with a broadsheet, it takes up a lot of space and is awkward, so typically one opens up a broadsheet, folds it back over, and then in half to read. Ergo, a tabloid is "easy to read" compared to this.

Yes, there's another meaning of the word "tabloid" that references sensationalistic news coverage, but the newspaper format term is what the clue is referencing here.

Trey 8:47 AM  

Thanks for the explanation on papers. Learn something new every day

Nancy 8:50 AM  

Cute puzzle idea. Of course, being me, I was inattentive to what the theme was and solved it as a themeless. Then when I got to the revealer, I felt guilty. Because, as I say, the theme is cute and deserved to be noticed. But even without noticing the theme, I found the fill lively and fun.

PIECEWISE is completely new to me, but I'm expecting long, complicated explanations from the mathematicians on the blog -- and am also expecting to understand not a single word of it. AS PER what has happened to me so often in regard to other mathematical explanations here.

Why do I always think that LLC is LLD? Always, always, always. Why is this such a recurring problem for me? But even I, who knows precious little about fashion, knew that DOLbE was wrong. DOLBE isn't about fashion; DOLBE's about stereo, right? Something like that.

As you know, I always complain about car clues. But I know the car DESOTO a lot better than I know the doctor. Was Doctor DESOTO the father of DOCTOR DOOLITTLE? (That's the only "D" children's literature doctor I know.)

Not an especially hard puzzle, but colorful and enjoyable.

Peter P 9:10 AM  

@Nancy - "Why do I always think that LLC is LLD?" Perhaps you're being facetious, but you're probably simply conflating LLC with LTD and coming up with LLD. The brain is a funny thing. Just remember: "Limited Liability Company" and "LimiTeD."

Nancy 9:12 AM  

YES AND was my favorite answer too, @Hartley. I went to You Tube to see if I could find it explained in an amusing manner, and here's a brief clip I like a lot.

TTrimble 9:19 AM  

The clue for PIECEWISE (sample phrases: piecewise-linear, piecewise-continuous, piecewise-defined) is definitely clunky. Just about any function you care to name "changes" over different intervals, unless it's a constant function. What is undoubtedly meant is that the *expression* used to *define* the function may change form over different intervals. For example, if I define a function f by stipulating that f(x) = -x when x is 0 or less, and f(x) = x when x is 0 or more, then I have presented a PIECEWISE-defined function. Not a PIECEWISE function, thank you very, very much.

(All due respect to @Joaquin's Dictum, I have to draw the line somewhere when it comes to outright sloppiness of expression. If there is some pretense to appealing to the solver's mathematical sophistication, then please, please handle the language with a modicum of care. The precision of mathematical language is one of the most precious commodities of which I am aware, and it's downright offensive to see the words just slopped around. Yes, I DO CARE.)

Stepping off the soapbox now. Today's puzzle was definitely easier than yesterday's. That's all I'll say for now.

yd 0
td pg -5

Nancy 9:20 AM  

@Peter P (9:10) -- That's it!!!!!!! I am conflating LLC with LTD!!!! Now, how do I stop? Maybe this is exactly the memory aid I need. If so, thank you.

Frantic Sloth 9:21 AM  

Had a feeling Rex wouldn't like this one. Wonder why....

I agree with DOOR number ONE. If you're going to reference the actual show in your clue, you'd better be accurate. Else, get out.

Quite pleased to read his COARSE/hOARSE discourse of course, but I didn't mind it quite as much.

Hand up for Ltd before LLC, but it was quickly corrected.

@JD 808am Been wondering where you were...glad to see you're back and still drooling. Next time don't forget to pack your time zone.

@Mike Herlihy 754am You might be thinking of someone else (Paula Deen?) because INA Garten is from Lon Gisland, NY. She is "The Barefoot Contessa".

Ω 9:22 AM  

WOAH - @Frantic Sloth with the COARSE language about WOAH.
Personally, Woe onto you if you can’t spell your random interjections as Gof intended. You don’t belong in polite society.
Best WOAH line goes to Rex, though, that's not an exclamation, that's a chemical formula…
Ooh Ooh, how about this:
Whoa WOAH Woe your boat
Gently down the stream
Merrily Merrily Merrily
Spelling is but a dream

Loved this. Took 7.32 nanoseconds to ponder the revealer, got the slightly macabre shiver of today’s six million dollar man (We can rebuild him. We can make him better) with his POWDERED WIG and GLASS EYE and FALSE eye LASHES and DENTAL CROWN (obviously hiding either a microchip or quick acting poison in case he is ever captured) and chortled. I also loved all the Wednesday level word play in the clues, repurposing socket, canine, batter, and rug. This just hit the old funny bone in just the right way for me this morning.

Yes, Rex failed to parse COARSE correctly. It seems to me that since he started solving in the morning rather than at night this has happened more frequently.

Every time I see DOLCE and Gabbana I wonder if they are sweet.

Doctor DESOTO was a gimme here. A little surprised Rex hasn’t plugged Aimee Lucido’s new book yet.

Ω 9:31 AM  

BTW - Today’s PPP is 24%.

jbh 9:33 AM  

To Mike Herlihy - Yes, Ina Garten is from the New York area - not from the South!

(Of course, "Garten of eatin'" is a play on Garden of Eden.)

TJS 9:36 AM  

Rex doesn't like / scrambles for nits to pick, on a Ross Trudeau puzzle? I am shocked !!

Frantic Sloth 9:43 AM  

@Z 922am So sorry to have offended your delicate sensibilities. 🤣 But, that doesn't give you the right to do a half-heinied Elmer Fudd impersonation. Please correct "stweam" and "dweam" and most importantly, "mewwily mewwily mewwily", you hack! 😘

TJS 9:45 AM  

Wait, if "unpc" or "nonpc" are terms used by "bigots", what do we call someone who is disturbed by a reference to "The Mikado"?

Anonymous 9:50 AM  

If DOOLITTLE is too long to fit for a children’s lit doctor clue, you can always try DOLITTLE.

bigsteve46 9:56 AM  

Something about this puzzle just touched a raw nerve for me. I am a daily "solver" but only an occasional commenter. Somehow, this kind of puzzle - intensely crosswordy - and a review of the comments - reinforced all of my negative prejudices against NYT crossword and its "in crowd" solvers. I mean, I get the print NYT every day and even waste a few more bucks to get the puzzle on line and read the contents of this blog almost every day - but... it's bad enough I waste all this time - what the hell, I'm 75 years old and have put in my time pushing the rock up the hill ... but ...

I mean ... what kind of life are you leading if you have to make a comment on a crossword puzzle EVERY SINGLE DAY??

JD 9:57 AM  

@ttrimble, Ooooo, I hesitate to say this, but sauce for the goose, etc. Close enough is always offensive when you know and care.

After all, a clue is not meant to be a math lesson.

Tom T 9:57 AM  

Got off to a quick start, but paused to get in a morning walk before it got too hot. While walking, I realized I had 2 themers already (GLASSEYE and DENTALCROWN) and thought, "Surely this is not going to be all medically repaired/replaced body parts! How will we clue heart valves and hip replacements?" Glad it turned into HEADFAKEs.

The Whoa/WOAH issue is more about pronunciation than spelling. The "modern" expression of shock renders it as a two syllable word--"Wo-ah," or probably better represented as "Whoa-ah." Alas, it appears from a brief search that Woah is gaining acceptance as "proper" spelling of the slang-ism.

Greater Fall River Committee for Peace & Justice 9:59 AM  

My entire experience of 'Let's Make a Deal' is from the time I was getting chemotherapy. Every couple of weeks I would go to this big room full of many reclining chairs with people in them, all hooked up to IV drips, from machines which beeped on a regular basis. And beeped and beeped until one of the too few IV nurses found time to deal with them. They tell you going in that each chemo treatment will be 4 or 5 hours, but by the time you waited for all the beeps to be attended to it was usually 7 or 8. There were many televisions in this room, and it seemed every other person getting chemo wanted to watch Let's Make a Deal. They were not all watching the same episode, but they might as well have been, they seemed identical but out of phase. It was like being in downtown Vienna during tourist season, where every storefront is blasting out the Blue Danube Waltz on their own Muzak track. This is not for the faint-hearted, and definitely not for the young and impressionable.

Oh, the puzzle. I remember it as always DOOR number ONE.

EdFromHackensack 9:59 AM  

got it all, but PIECEWISE I never heard of and seemed wrong. WOAH? never heard of it. Liked the theme. ZenMonkey explained it perfectly. had BAn before BAR. and DOORONE just seems odd. but fun puzzle.. thanks Sophie and Ross

Anonymous 10:02 AM  

You are correct, but I wondered if the constructor/editor was the one who confused Ina Garten with Paula Deen. Can't see why you would use "eatin'" in referemce to Ina Garten.

Whatsername 10:11 AM  

Good idea for a theme and I liked the revealer. Even non-sports fans could probably figure that one out to get the themers. So good job on that and congratulations to Sophie B. on the debut.

However, I was somewhat disturbed by the use of GLASS EYE in a joking sense. A prosthesis is not really in the same category as a WIG or FALSE EYELASHES. Perhaps I am overly sensitive because I have two family members who wear one but that just came across as a little NON-PC there IMHO.

RooMonster 10:14 AM  

Hey All !
INA Garten. Dang. Obscure if you don't watch cooking shows. Is she famous enough that non-watchers should know her name? Like an Emeril? Inspired clue, however, had I known her.

Neat theme. FAKE stuff on HEADs. My bugaboo is when women shave their eyebrows, and then pencil them in. Dang, when did real eyebrows become unwanted things? I missed that memo. And sometimes they are drawn in absurdly. Leave your poor eyebrows alone. What'd they do to you?

WOAH. Har-ah. Pronounced "woe-ah" I take it. Are we going to go back to all the Westerns ever made, and dub in woe-ah for whoa? Kids these days.

Although nits/complaints, I thought this was a good puz. PIECEWISE was a guess here, was down to empty space for the first I and the W, but couldn't come up with any other word that sounded correct. Plugged the letters in, and Happy Music!

Not terrible on the dreck. ETAIL is cringey, but acceptable. What else should we call it. 'Shopping online'. Too long.

Nice puz, Sophie and Ross. Gonna modify one of your clues. 34A One who wrangles snakes? Har.

Five F's

Anonymous 10:19 AM  

A hoarse is a hoarse, of course,of coarse...

Peter P 10:22 AM  

@Anonymous 10:02 - "Garten of eatin'"/"Garden of Eden" pun -- Ina Garten is most famous for being the Barefoot Contessa, a Food Network cooking show. I suppose you could pick a nit and say she's more properly a "Garten of cookin'" but you lose the pun and "Garten of eatin'" works just fine for me, as she is associated with food and cooking, which is associated with eating.

Anonymous 10:24 AM  

Ina Garten was born in New York and currently lives on Long Island. The "eatin'" in the clue is a play on Garden of Eden. She is not from the south and has no drawl.

Anonymous 10:27 AM  

Play on Garden of Eden

Frantic Sloth 10:33 AM  

@Roo 1014am Just for you.

Joaquin 10:37 AM  

@bigsteve46 (9:56) asks, "what kind of life are you leading if you have to make a comment on a crossword puzzle EVERY SINGLE DAY??"

Speaking for myself: One can lead a full life of many interests, a loving family, and strive to make the world a better place. And at the same time enjoy a stimulating hobby in the virtual company of virtual friends with the same hobby.

So I would ask, "What kind of life are you leading if you are put off by that?"

Shawn 10:53 AM  

Maybe it’s a generational thing? I’ve spelled it WOAH my whole life, which made for an extra breezy solve today

Carola 11:00 AM  

Loved the reveal, the EYELASHES and WIG, enjoyed ENTITY, TOUCHE, ICEBOXES, and TAGS UP, appreciated finding out why I don't know anymore how to spell "whoa," and got a smile out of recalling the wonderful Dr. DESOTO.

Speaking of NONPC, Domenico DOLCE is no stranger to hot water in this area. For example: "In 2018, ahead of a blowout fashion show intended to woo its Chinese clientele, DOLCE & Gabbana released a series of racially insensitive videos featuring a Chinese model attempting to eat Italian foods with chopsticks. The campaign was perceived as racist and arrogant...." (from

@amyyanni 7:21 - I enjoyed your cheery post. Happy art-hanging day!
@Whatsername 10:11 - Same feeling here about the GLASS EYE.

pabloinnh 11:10 AM  



Unknown 11:11 AM  

Inventing a word that is an exact synonym for an existing word must be discouraged if not banned.

oldactor 11:13 AM  

I highly recommend INA Garten recipes. My favorite is "Chicken thighs with Creamy Mustard sauce". I make it often...quick, easy and delicious. You can probably find it on Food Network. It calls for dijon and whole grain mustard and sour cream. Bon appetite!

Both my canines are crowned, I've worn Powdered wigs on stage, but my eyes are not glass YESAND I've yet to wear false eyelashes. They sound uncomfortable.

Joseph Michael 11:15 AM  

Whoa. I mean, WOAH. I must disagree with Rex’s PAN of this puzzle, even though there’s not even ONE Mikado reference in it.

Loved the dark humor of the theme and the image of someone with a GLASS EYE and DENTAL CROWN wearing FALSE LASHES and a POWDERED WIG. Might that person with the FAKE HEAD also have an orange spray tan?

I see the BOA here that should have been in yesterday’s puzzle and the return of the singing TEAPOT from a few days ago. Favorite fill: AS IF I CARE, YES AND, and TABLOID (as explained by @Peter P, 8:36am).

Thought that PIECEWISE was a term used to describe NRA members.

mathgent 11:17 AM  

Like Nancy, I solved it as a themeless. I had circled the clue for 57A and then went back to see what that was about. Ah, false things in or on the head. Meh.

It had some crunch and one cute clue. "They can be even, paradoxically" for ODDS.

PIECEWISE function is not a commonly-used term in my experience. I have heard of a function being piecewise continuous once in a while.

Anonymous 11:24 AM  

Synonym for “rough” is “coarse,” particularly in respect of speech.

jb129 11:43 AM  

I'm not into basketball

Didn't like this puzzle which is unusual for me for a RT puzzle.

Tim Carey 11:44 AM  


jae 11:46 AM  

Easy-medium. dis before PAN and enamAL before DENTAL were it for erasures.

WOAH was a WOE.

Fun theme. Liked it and Jeff gave it POW. A fine debut for Sophie Buchmueller!

Anonymous 12:22 PM  

I wrote a book about stopping horses, but I don't talk a bout it much because it's a tale of whoa.

maybe consider some more shuteye. Your opinions are so often crummy, but at least you used to not make boneheaded factual errors like today's regarding coarse.

Ω 12:31 PM  

@Frantic Sloth - Row to Rho to WOAH to Elmer Fudd - Whoa Whoa Whoa. Let’s slow down just a little bit.

Merriam-Webster on Whoa v. WOAH. Fascinating stuff. Bring back Ho! I say.

Masked and Anonymous 12:34 PM  

Interestin approach. The themers are clearly extra stuff added to faces -- but with no extra twists to that. Then the revealer don't actually reveal anything, it just sorta makes a joke out of what the themers are.
Missed not havin any tats or studs, btw. Masks mighta also worked, come to think about it.

Had to solve PIECEWISE piece-wise, even tho I was a math major. And PIECEWISE crossers INA & WOAH & DOLCE made that tough on the solvequest nanoseconds. Does WOAH rhyme with Noah? OK if M&A, in keepin with today's theme, calls WOAH a WORDFAKE? har

staff weeject pick: INA. Didn't know that there Garten person, but cool clue, anyhoo.

Primo Jaws of Themedness, not seen too very often.

DOORONE -- har. Best Ow de Speration of the day. [yo, @RP] But, as an afterthought, has any Comment Gallery commenter said "YESAND … no!" yet? [M&A feels like he probably should be about commenter #100 on that notion.]

Thanx for gangin up on us, Sophie B darlin and Ross T dude. Yesand congratz to Sophie B on her half-debut.

Masked & Anonymo3Us

p.s. To the commentator who asked why we come here everyday: Why, to put our heads together, of course. And for the hars, which are good for U.


CT2Napa 12:44 PM  

woah is used in plenty of books - see woah

disORIENTated 12:50 PM  

Hey! What about NIP? Nobody cares about that any more?

MJB 12:52 PM  

When he was four of five, my nephew David, now 42, was obsessed with Dr. DeSoto. His parents were so tired of reading it to him that my sister finally recorded it on his little Fisher Price tape recorder. He almost wore it out.

chance2travel 12:52 PM  

Blazed through this one in Tuesday time.

Being overly familiar with math terms, I had to pass over 5D when stepWISE didn't fit.

Fortunately avoided the COARSE v hOARSE dilemma after getting the CARE part of 34D after filling in ASIFI.

Agree with Rex that I'm just so over 9D. Unless it were clued something like "poor excuse for offensive humor". Or go the video game route in the sense of Non-Player Character (characters in the video game who are programmed, rather than controlled by the gamer)

DENTAL CROWN was my favorite, because I filled it while still thinking about dogs, and when I caught on that it was referring to teeth, my reaction was "good one!"

Frantic Sloth 12:54 PM  

@bigsteve46 956am Judge much? We can't all have a "big" life like yours, so take pity on us, won't you? Oh, and if it's so irksome to you why bother coming here? To put it another way, what kind of life are you leading if you're so concerned about commenting on commenters and the life they're leading?

@Joaquin 1037am Hear! Hear!

@Shawn 1053am If by "generational thing" you mean nobody is taught spelling any more, you've proven my point.

@Z 1231pm Okay, I'll stop. Or should I say "Whoa is me"?

mathgent 1:00 PM  

My favorite posts this morning.

Trey (7:54)
Peter P (8:36)
sbh (9:33)

Crimson Devil 1:02 PM  

Expected, mistakenly, Rex et al. to go off on Monty Hall Paradox. What should contestant do?

Anonymous 1:11 PM  

Rather tough for a Weds. I did get it, but wondered if FALSE LASHES and PIECEWISE and LLC were right (yeah I had Ltd before LLC). Indeed, I needed to look at the comments here to discover PIECEWISE was correct, or sort of.

I believe my youngest daughter, born 1984 is absolutely in a different Generation from her sisters, born 1979 and 1980. It is solely from the youngest one, and her friends, that I had no trouble at all with WOAH. Pronounced like WOE, but stretched out. Based on "whoa" of course, but "whoa" is what you say to a horse, and in saying it, I, at least, have always pronounced the "wh", the same as what, why, where, and for that matter whittle and (big) whoop.

"old rug in a courtroom" made me immediately think of the late, great Horace Rumpole, who famously wore a wig he bought 40 or 50 years in the past, from the retiring Chief Justice of some obscure colony. I bet Rumpole came to many people's minds.

Dr. DESOTO? Total news to me. But I believe there are two or thee Dr. Seuss books I could almost recite verbatim. It's fun to have fun, but you have to know how! And there are several puzzles where I have said out loud, "Now wait a minute, Mr. Socks Fox!"

No problem with any basketball or baseball slang. If you live in Northern California, at some point you are likely to become a Giants and Warriors fan, even if you never were much of a sports fan before. Buster Posey and Steph Curry are our local heroes.

Anonymous 1:12 PM  

As someone with an extensive background in math, I strongly object to the clue for PIECEWISE.

A function can be PIECEWISE continuous, PIECEWISE linear, PIECEWISE constant, etc. (all of which have the obvious meaning). But it CAN'T just be plain old piecewise in any usage I've ever heard of in the 55 years since I first heard of functions. It has to be piecewise SOMETHING.


egsforbreakfast 1:19 PM  

A long time ago, in a crossword far, far away, RODEO could have been a kinky cookie with a center.

Continuing with the subliminal sandwich cookies theme that has been running for days in the puzzle, please note that 63A and 64A form OREODDS.

I’ve got to say that this was a good and enjoyable puzzle. In addition to the shortcomings in Rex’s review that have already been pointed out, I was particularly surprised by this excerpt:

“ The "?" clues were bizarre to me. There's no rhyme or reason to them. There's no pattern to the wordplay or phrasing. It's just "let's try to mask the answer a little, just to add some other level to the puzzle." Are the clues supposed to be another example of a "fake"? Like a "fake-out"? Like, "haha, you thought we were talking about pancake batter, but really it's an eyelash batter”

I think that that is more or less how crosswords work in many instances. Would Rex have preferred the clue to be “Additions to naturally occurring hair just above the eyes”. Such an approach would not get my vote, nor, I assume, that of Will Shortz.

Congrats on a fine debut, Sophie Buchmueller, and keep up the good work, Ross Trudeau.

tea73 1:33 PM  

Oof this was hard. Despise basketball though I'm familiar with some of the lingo from crosswords. PIECEWISE baffled me as I never ran into it in any math course I took. (Up through Calculus.)

I have used WHOA and usually pronounce it with a little bit of a schwa at the end.

@RooMonster, I don't watch cooking shows, but she's definitely famous. They seem to interview her on NPR every time she comes out with a new cookbook.

At least the puzzle reminded me of this: Door NUMBER Three

Anonymous 1:35 PM  

Tell me, what do your scores "yd 0" and "td pg -5" mean at the end of your post?

SharonAK 1:39 PM  

@Rex LOL your "Planck batter/Eylealsh batter rifff. But did not understand your complaint about the theme answers.
Thought they were all amusing (except glassy was a bit shudder causing) and fit the theme well.

Had not heard of a head fake, but just assumed it was a sports thing so it worked well as the reveal

Joe Dipinto 2:00 PM  

So I'm looking through my ancient Mondadori's pocket Italian/English Dictionary for asificare, which I know is a verb meaning "to not give a shit" and I notice that it has a whole table of 156 irregularly conjugated verbs, but there are no examples of basic, regularly conjugated verbs preceding that. My M-W Spanish/English Dictionary, otoh, starts with the basic regular conjugation for each infinitive ending: -ar, -er, -ir.

As if any of you care.

I like today's new addition to crossword cluing "...spelled in a modern way". Behind Door 1: the Retro Spelling. Behind Door 2: the Modern Spelling. Behind Door 3: the Anagram. Which do *you* think contains the prize? (Don't forget to switch your choice when Monty asks you.)

Anonymous 2:32 PM  

The fill in this puzzle was lively, unpretentious, and playful. Same for the theme entries. The reveal worked well as a homonym for the common category of the other theme entries. Being unfamiliar with basketball lingo, I didn't know the reveal term but was fine with that especially because the term helped to balance out a puzzle that leaned feminine with a term that didn't. Look at the comments on this blog for this week's three puzzles, and also take another look at the puzzles. See the gender slant in both puzzles and comments—including Rex's comments? Women tend to like puzzles that are more playful than strictly logical, that include children, fashion, cooking, and everyday experience, and that appeal to all ages. (You may scratch your head at that last one, but take a look at puzzles by men and women. You usually can't tell how old a female puzzle creator is, but you can usually peg the man's age category—young and hip, dad-aged, geezer aged,… Because women are more inclusive and empathic men are more competitive and tribal? Just wondering.) Men tend to like puzzles that are more strictly logical and fact-based and that are heavy on sports, techie stuff, and other male-dominated achievements and hobbies. Male commentators tend to pan puzzles by women as boring, banal, and insufficiently logical. Women often find puzzles by men boring, arcane, and dry. There are of course crossovers in appeal but when a puzzle like this past Sunday's puzzle is by a man and appeals more to women than men it's usually because it leans towards the feminine preferences stated above—and in consequence away from the men's preferences. Note this: apart from more feminine-leaning content, the design feats pulled off by Sunday's puzzle guy are much more typical of a male constructor than a female one. And how did this play with the gender divide? Women admired it and men blew it off! This says good stuff about women's ability to appreciate what they can't or don't easily do. And what does it say of men? (Again, just wondering.)

ghkozen 2:35 PM  

Yet another baseball puzzle. Why are we expected to endure constant baseball themes, every 3 days it feels like, and myriad baseball clues every other day of the week??? Can we please have at least one puzzle that doesn’t embrace the absolute idiocy that is baseball, the worst sport in the history of time? Enough. Is. Enough.

Crimson Devil 2:46 PM  

Many thanks for link to Steve Goodman song. He’s the songwriter credited by David Allan Coe with adding all-important lyrics re prison, Mama, train, drunk & rain to perfect Coe’s country & western song.

Ω 2:54 PM  

@ghkozen - There are only four sports related clue in the entire puzzle, 1D, 12D, 25D, and 57A. Of those only one has to do with baseball.

Joe Dipinto 2:55 PM  

@ghkozen – I agree. A basketball-themed puzzle would have been nice on a day like today.

david 2:56 PM  

How about the nice inclusion of REPENT on Erev Yom Kippur...

Gio 3:00 PM  


Che me ne frega! A beautiful idiom and also a synonym to Asificare

Trey 3:02 PM  

@bigsteve46 (9:46) - I dabble in heart surgery when not doing the puzzle, reading the blog or posting. Quite a fulfilling life as well with several other hobbies. This takes a few minutes here and there, and clears the head

Mr. Peabody 3:11 PM  

@Anonymous 232 How did you get the Wayback Machine to work in reverse?

Hartley70 3:18 PM  

Thanks@Nancy! Tina Fey is wonderful. I think I learned YESAND from her book, which is a miracle since I remember little, a bit more than the nothing that you remember. LOL!

Joaquin 3:28 PM  

Regarding 34-D. The name of my insurance company is CFI Care.

Crimson Devil 3:34 PM  

…and pickup trucks!

Loren Muse Smith 3:50 PM  

@Frantic- I wish this place had a “like” button. I’d likebutton the crap out of the first paragraph of your 12:54pm post.

Crimson Devil 3:56 PM  

Amen to that.

Whatsername 5:07 PM  

bigsteve46 (9:56) What kind of life am I leading? Well since you asked, a perfectly nice one filled with numerous pursuits, among them doing the daily NYTXW. Once I retired from my full-time job and had more time to devote to my crossword hobby, the Rex Parker blog and accompanying commentary became a daily complement to my solving experience. It wasn’t long before I joined the discussion and found I enjoyed the occasional interaction with others, including many of the “regulars.” I look forward to reading their reactions and would be disappointed if they didn’t take the time to share them each day. I’m close to your age and have also done my time pushing the rock up the hill to use your term. This is how I choose to spend a portion of my day - every single day - so my question for you is: why on earth would you care?

@Joaquin (10:37) Well said. And 3:28 .. . Good one!

@LMS (3:50) Ditto

Anonymous 5:15 PM  

Just watched a 30 minute clip of the late great Norm Macdonald. To call it NON PC would be an understatement. Highly recommended. RIP funny man.

Joe Dipinto 5:27 PM  

@Gio – Molte grazie. I am practicing saying "Che ne me frega!" as I type.

finny 5:42 PM  

@Joaquin, I so agree

Joe Dipinto 6:12 PM  

Well I guess it would help if I got the words in the right order. "Che me ne frega!"

Anoa Bob 6:33 PM  

I'm also olde enough to remember the ICE BOX. We had a refrigerator when I was a kid and even then I realized what an enormous improvement that was. YES AND before the ICE BOX, nothing, unless you were wealthy enough to have ICE or packed snow shipped in from remote locations. I still give the fridge a hug now and then. I'm serious.

Thanks kitshef @7:24 AM. It's becoming increasingly harder to find good existential humor these days!

This Anoa always gives the side EYE to WHOA and WOAH. They are both wrong. It should be spelled WOH or perhaps just WO. It's one syllable, people. See BOA at 22A? That's how an -OA- word is pronounced. Q.E.D.

bigsteve46 @9:45 AM, got you by one year so I can say get off my lawn! Actually your post gave me a good chuckle, even if there was a little TOUCHE there! I enjoy it so have been stopping by here off and on for a long time. Seems like there have always been regulars and this "regularity" has taken quite an uptick post COVID. Thanks for the laugh. Don't be such a stranger.

jae 6:38 PM  

If I were to Marie Kondo my life, this blog would be in the “keep it” pile. That wasn’t the case a while ago but it most definitely is now (thank you mods).

TTrimble 6:41 PM  

"Ooooo, I hesitate to say this"

And well you should. :-) Actually, I anticipated someone saying this. But I'm telling you, the clue is downright confusing, even for mathematicians.

This is no ordinary case of "close enough", or "good enough for the NYT and its clientele". I am sorry, but in my honest opinion it's a botch job. It's confusing out of sheer ineptitude. I say this even as a dues-paying member of the @Joaquin's Dictum club.

I shan't say a thing more on the matter. I had run out of blood pressure medication this morning and need to fix that. Hope you understand! :-)

Anonymous 7:13 PM  

@anon 5:15- yeah Norm was great. So were/are Richard Pryor, Lenny Bruce, Dave Chapelle, Louis CK, and countless other NON PC comedians. Rex has every right to dismiss them as bigots. It’s his loss.

Blue Stater 7:18 PM  

Classic WS puzzle here. Bad concept, difficulty artificially inflated by mistakes, of which -- I agree with OFL -- COARSE is by the far the worst (in a crowded field). Enough already.

Anonymous 7:38 PM  

couldn't let it pass, so didn't see if anyone has spanked those clueless:

INA Garten is a NEW YORKER.

Anonymous 8:23 PM  

... And Jewish! Now, that's so Not Southern.

GILL I. 8:36 PM  

@Frantic...all your posts. Can I have what you're having?
Dinner and drinks on me.....Everyone who comes here is welcome. Even the curmudgeons.

Anonymous 12:31 AM  

@Anonymous 2:32
But what about the 63 other genders? The woke people here want to know.

eejit 1:04 AM  

This was way easier and faster than yesterday. I’m guessing someone else has already said that. Kind of surprised how many people don’t know head fake. I guess a lot of crossword people don’t watch sports. It’s a feint essentially. Someone else has probably said that too. I thought coarse was kind of obvious. Someone… Not a bad puzzle, some clever stuff here and there.

Unknown 2:21 AM  

Loved this puzzle.
Had me singing a very non PC, parody song from my long ago childhood.
"After the ball was over"

BSK 4:31 AM  

What’s the story with Rex and RT?

DigitalDan 1:13 PM  

I had a 'roni 'za the last time I was on a cray cray vacay! AAAARRRGGHHH!!!
And when did the "us" get removed from "versus?" Ever notice that the crime drama standard GSW takes five syllables to pronounce, whereas "gunshot wound" takes three? All these shortenings are even worse than the modern habit of using verbs as nouns instead of using the proper gerund form (third quarter spend).

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