Full of noxious vapors / WED 6-1-22 / Only living creature in the genus Dromaius / City near Provo Bay

Wednesday, June 1, 2022

Constructor: Chase Dittrich

Relative difficulty: Hard!! (18:14)

THEME: Phrases where the first word is hidden inside circle letters for... some.... reason?? (Seriously, did I miss something?)

Theme answers:
  • Info not typically found in the Yellow Pages-- (HOME) PHONE NUMBER
  • Creative activity for grade-schoolers-- (ARTS) AND CRAFTS
  • Reason to sleep with a nightlight on-- (FEAR) OF THE DARK
  • Prized possessions for numismatists-- (COIN) COLLECTIONS

Word of the Day: PAELLA (Rice dish infused with saffron) —
In 2015, an emoji for paella was proposed to Unicode. The emoji was approved for Unicode 9.0 as U+1F958 "SHALLOW PAN OF FOOD" in June 2016. Although it is generally rendered as paella, Samsung has rendered the symbol as a Korean hot pot.
• • •

Happy Malaika MWednesday to all who celebrate! I am grumpy as I write this because the G train is not running and I had to bike for half an hour home after playing volleyball tonight and my legs hurt so so so much. Sorry for not being my usual Ray of Sunshine (TM), and please take everything I say with a grain of salt, anyway, I did not like this puzzle.

Here is me complaining about the theme:

I don't get the theme. Truly, what was the point? Why are half of the theme answers stand-alone phrases and the other half are bizarre partials? What do HOME / ARTS / FEAR / COIN have to do with each other, besides having four letters? Why open with a theme entry that seems to suggest many added layers (the Yellow Pages do have PHONE NUMBERs, they just don't have (HOME) PHONE NUMBERs, tricky tricky!!) when you're immediately going to follow it up with AND CRAFTS which is meaningless? 

Here is me complaining about fill:

Soooo many things that I do not care about in this puzzle, like a golf player and a 90-year old writer who inconveniently has the same last name and number of letters as a much more current writer, and classical music and baseball stats. I do not like to use the word "cr*sswordese" because, since everyone has their own definition for it, it just invites chaotic arguments. So instead I say, these are the words that were in this puzzle that I have learned from doing crosswords, and (upon learning them) have never ever seen them outside of a crossword puzzle: STNS (that is simply not a real abbreviation, I take the train and the bus constantly (EXCEPT WHEN THE G IS NOT RUNNING THRU BEDFORD-NOSTRAND DUE TO TRACK MAINTENANCE!!!!)), EFTS, RBIS. RONDO, OREM, and ETO would be in this category as well, except that I have not actually learned them. Don't remember ever seeing these before in all my years (two, lmao) of solving.

Here is me being nice:

A lot of the long down entries and mid-length fill were nice, like NINTENDO, STEAM CAR, and TAROT CARDS. (I typo-ed that as "torta cards" and, like, can you imagine???) PAELLA, RANDOS, and ASHLEE Simpson. All fit my definition of fun fill which is "they would be exciting to see in a themeless grid." The clue [Washington post?] for EMBASSY absolutely rocked.

  • JOB-- Word with snow or bank. Can someone explain this? What's a "snow job"?
  • LEA-- "Back to the Future" actress Thompson. I've never heard of her; my preferred LEA is Salonga.
  • PLO-- Arafat's grp. I don't remember seeing this in a grid before, although apparently it appears often enough. This weekend I learned a "fun" fact: In Israel, it is illegal for a Jewish person to marry a non-Jew. (The government will recognize marriages that took place outside of the country.)
  • ENID-- Children's author Blyton. I grew up reading her books-- mostly "The Secret Seven," but also all her hundreds of fairy tales. I think she's racist probably, but I'm a little scared to look into it and discover the full extent of the situation.
xoxo Malaika

The past seven puzzles were written by eight men; I believe seven are white.

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


mrn 1:51 AM  

Hello, OREM, my unwanted friend. It's been a while since we've seen you. Now kindly leave and never come back. And take ETO (whatever the f*** that is) with you.

okanaganer 2:00 AM  

Malaika! When we didn't see you last Wednesday I feared you had moved on to greater things. Glad to see you again. Too bad you didn't enjoy this; I did, once I got over whining "But today isn't a Thursday!"

Unfortunately the first themer was the best, in that it seemed like an error in cluing until I got the trick: completely plausible, if wrong, answer to the clue. The last one was similar but the clue/untricky answer mismatch was more subtle.

Typeover: for "Positions" I had RANKS before ROLES. DANSKA seemed fine; never heard of DANSKO.

Gay TALESE... that word has changed since my childhood. My oldest niece (2 years older than me) has Gay as her middle name and hated it for much of her life. I guess way back when it didn't have a certain meaning.

[Spelling Bee: Tues 9 min to pg; another 25 or so to QB. Got all the goofy words.

Anonymous 2:05 AM  

I literally only vaguely remember learning this from a past crossword's clue for SNOW but a "snow job" is "an effort to deceive, overwhelm, or persuade with insincere talk, especially flattery."

I expected it to involve cocaine or a certain sexual act like other X-jobs.

Anonymous 2:36 AM  

Referencing an Israeli law that is facially discriminatory (though in place to maintain Israel as a Jewish state) in the context of a PLO clue seems less of a tangential fun fact and more an overt shot at Israel. Sorry your train wasn’t running and you’ve gotten this far in life without knowing what a snow job is, but being casually anti-Israel isn’t cute.

Anonymous 3:47 AM  

the last seven puzzles were actually by 9 men, not 8 (which feels worse??)

Jasper C. 4:34 AM  

The cross of TALESE with DANSKO was brutal for me. Neither name is especially inferable (especially when I had RESTING at 39A). Eventually got it, but not before questioning my memory on OMEARA/OREM.

For the theme, only [COIN] COLLECTIONS feels like an apt execution of this theme. Two of them are awkward fragments. I really wanted to jam the entirety of [ARTS] AND CRAFTS into the grid and be done with it.

A STEAMCAR's 30-minute startup would certainly cause a MIASMIC atmosphere...

OffTheGrid 4:58 AM  

I didn't hate this puzzle but didn't like the gimmick. It totally got me but somehow I have to respect that. The names were difficult, too. Otherwise it seems like a pretty clean puzzle with some clever clues.

Conrad 5:33 AM  

Yeah, @Malaika, Hard! I fell head first into the "Gay" roxane/TALESE trap at 42A. The golfer at 15A and the shoes at 30D were WOES and I didn't get the theme until the very end. And all that lovely (not!) crosswordese that you called out, some from generations ago.

Anonymous 5:36 AM  

Snow job: hide your true motive while persuading.

Gio 5:47 AM  

Malaika, whatever you do don't look up what Gay Talese had to say about Kevin Spacey or women writers. I'd have to agree that there could not be more of a contrast between Gay Talese and Roxane Gay.

Joaquin 5:55 AM  

Yellow Pages ya say? I don't use those new-fangled Yellow Pages. I simply call "Information" and ask for the name of a plumber or whatever I need. Then, if my party line isn't in use, I call them.

Anonymous 6:53 AM  
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Anonymous 7:00 AM  

Agree with your point about the theme. This one was on the east side for me as I am so old that I learned ETO by doing crossword puzzles with my dad. Lea Thompson was a pretty popular actress in the 80s. Back to the Future being one of the more well known. That said I believe the last time I saw her was on Dancing with the “Stars” about 5 years ago which will give you an idea of how far her “star” has fallen. Snow job is a con or a lie or an untruthful story. And agree I have never seen the abbreviation STN anywhere but in a puzzle. May the train gods be kinder to you this week.

Robin 7:04 AM  

Malaika is complaining she has never heard of LEA Thompson or the PLO before, and I just feel really old.

kitshef 7:14 AM  

Very segmented grid and a theme that doesn’t seem to put a lot of pressure on it, so I feel like the fill should have been cleaner. It’s not terrible, but STNS, DANSKO, OREM, ESSO, RABE, ETO, ENID … this stuff adds up.

Anonymous 7:20 AM  
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Lewis 7:23 AM  

This puzzle played on the concept of the kangaroo word – one that contains its synonym, like MASCULINE which includes MALE. The word contained within is called the joey word; it’s like a baby kangaroo (joey) in its pouch. Today we have joeys that are not synonyms, but preceding words. I don’t know how Chase came up with these other than serious brainstorming, and much credit goes to him for that.

Once the gimmick hit me – and it came with a sweet aha – it helped me solve two theme answers. And that’s my preference, to have the theme be active during the solve rather than simply being discovered afterward. Much credit to Chase for that as well!

I liked the cross of MAHI and MAGI, as well as a backward DEW to go with MISTED. I got a hoho out of CAPO / RONDO / LOBO / DANSKO / ESSO / and NINTENDO, along with their wannabes RANDOS and EGOS. This was kind of an endo- puzzle, as 11 answers finished with that letter. I loved STEAM CAR, because I don’t think I’ve ever heard of it, and I would think the consummate definition of patience would be having one and waiting for the water to boil.

A most enjoyable jaunt, this puzzle – and much credit, Chase, for that as well. Thank you, sir!

Unknown 7:33 AM  

I didn't find this puz to be particularly hard. A few of the names were new to me, but ultimately inferable.

The write-up, on the other hand, was a bit grating. Maybe if the writer is having a bad day, they should take a deep breath and gather themselves before blogging. Or maybe they were just channeling their inner rex and trying hard to mine that vein?

Son Volt 7:33 AM  

Some vacuous takes today. Neat little trick - a little awkward with just the two stand-alone themers. I liked the lack of a revealer. JAWS OF LIFE and MIASMIC are nice longs - keep TEE SHIRTS and RANDOS especially with RONDO in the grid. No idea on DANSKO.

Enjoyable Wednesday solve.

Anonymous 7:36 AM  

Snow Job = con.

Lea Thompson starred in Back to the Future and the best high school movie of all time Some Kind of Wonderful. She also briefly had a sitcom in the 90s I think.

RBIs = Runs Batted In. I don’t really watch baseball and I have heard that my whole life so it doesn’t feel croswordese. STNS can go fudge a judge for all I care though.

I can’t believe there was no revealer to this theme. I don’t think the theme was inherently bad but it was internally inconsistent for the reason you mentioned, and the lack of revealer on a Wednesday made it way worse. I got stuck forever on the non-answers like AND CRAFTS because that’s not a thing. I mostly ignored the circled squares because for a Wednesday my expectation is that they spell something cute at the end. A revealer or consistency would have helped here.

RANDOS and RONDO? Really? Go fudge yourself NYT.

Anonymous 7:44 AM  

Aw, c’mon, commentariat, if we can put up with Rex’s rants we can allow Malaika one bad day. No need to jump down her throat for expressing opinions that are not your own. (Nor are they mine, for the record. I’m an old white guy who prefers RONDOs to RANDOs.)

Kate 7:49 AM  

I did not know LACES into and got confused in that part, but ROLES helped. I started with ROXANE, so had to backtrack there too.

pabloinnh 7:50 AM  

OK, there were a few pop culture type unfamiliar (to me) names, but the crosses made them easy fill ins and I didn't find this one terribly challenging. This is probably a combination of having done zillions of crosswords and living a long time, two things that will be part of Malaika's life, I hope.

Didn't catch on to the gimmick until OFTHEDARK, and then it was a fine aha! Nice

The only novel in English I had with me in Spain was Catch 22, and I nearly memorized it. I'm not sure how long it took me to realize that ORR represented an alternative, as in "or", but it was way too long.

PS Grandson Jack showed up yesterday right on time, all's well, and it's nice to have some good news for a change.

Also, STEAMCAR? Really?

A fine Wednesday indeed, CD. A Clever Diversion and lots of fun, for which thanks.

Laura 8:26 AM  

If mentioning an interesting, correct, important fact about a country is an attack, what are you saying about the country? I won't here, because this isn't a political site.

SouthsideJohnny 8:31 AM  

I'm not as particular about the details of the themes as some purists are - as long as it stays out of the way, contributes something to the solve and doesn't burden the rest of the grid with junk. I would characterize this theme as a success in that regard. Maybe a KANGAROO WORD revealer would have pushed it into some really uncharted territory.

The difficulty for me came in the small SE section with LOBO, ENID AND ESSO, AND ASHLEE. I also hesitated to commit to ROLES for positions, even though it's a legit clue.

Laura 8:32 AM  

Fun puzzle. So glad they didn't run another overly easy Thursday. No great clues, though a 4 letter city starting with Onear a river I don't know was a nice deception ( no Oslo). One in the eye to crosswordese.

Anonymous 8:32 AM  

pretty sure eng. doesn’t border ire.

lodsf 8:32 AM  

My puzzle had circles which highlighted the “missing” words. Once I saw HOME phone number it enabled me to easily see the others and the themers we’re a great asset (to me) in completing the puzzle. Aside from some unknown (to me) proper names found this one medium & enjoyable. Liked seeing MIASMIC and AEROSOL. Old enough to know PLO.

Anonymous 8:37 AM  

Malaika: The MTA map would like a word with you. If you look at some of their maps, they use "STN" for Penn Station.


bocamp 8:41 AM  

Thx, Chase; what great Wednes. challenge! :)

Hi Malaika; thx for your take. Hope you're feeling better soon! :)

Very tough!

Surprised I got this one right. It was a struggle all the way. Don't recall being so far off the constructor's wavelength on a Wednes. puz.

Loved the theme!

LEA Thompson fan here. :)

Fun coincidence: was at the dentist yd, and had an interesting discussion of misleading xword clues; used the example of NUMBER vs 'number', e.g., clue: 'Once used number' - answer: 'ether'.

New for me (as clued): ASHLEE, CLAN, THE HANGED MAN, NINTENDO, STEAM CAR, LSD, DANSKO, WAR BIRDS, ESSO. So much to learn! πŸ€”

Very much enjoyed the battle! :)

@Aelurus (6:30 PM yd)

Yw; glad it worked for you! 😊

Also from the dentist visit yd, discovered that both the receptionist and I use the word 'roate' as our initial entry for Wordle. :)
yd pg -3 (dbyd 0) / W: 2* / WH: 3 / Duo: 35

Peace πŸ™ πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡¦ ~ Compassion ~ Tolerance ~ Kindness to all πŸ•Š

JD 8:42 AM  

Trying to refrain, tryyying, can't. Rondos, Regrow & Rando LLP, representing musicians, hair tonic manufacturers, and just about anybody else.

Struggled mightily with Miasmic, Orr, Iris. Miasmic I sussed. Biometric Scan Identifier, MAYBE? Maybe not? Are we talking about the eye? Too much for a Wednesday. Try the flower next time we're on a Wednesday. All I remember of Catch 22 characters is Milo Minderbinder, maybe? Maybe not. It was 50 years ago and I skipped a lot of pages.

As well read as I am on WWI, better than anyone else really, I've never ran across War Birds. And I'm good looking. Also, smart. Oh, there's EGOS/(EGO) for the 18th time this year with a calumny of a clue. Poor Ego, such a bad rap.

pianoguy 8:45 AM  

I got the top third of the grid pretty easily, and I didn't even realize the theme even though it was staring me in the face. Whoops, agreed that I don't see the real point of it.

Zed 8:47 AM  

I’m with Malaika on this. The first answer is wrong until HOME is put in front, but a stand alone wrong answer to the question. If the others had followed that pattern the theme would have made sense. But as it is this is just a “letters can be used to make different words” puzzle.

Wow, OREM hasn’t appeared since 2020 (when it appeared 3 times) The last calendar year without an OREM is 1991, and several years in the interim it has had five appearances. Is OREM at risk of disappearing like EDINA has (five years stuck at 99 appearances in the puzzle)? I doubt it. More likely is that we’ll have an OREM run.

I think Malaika has said this a few times now and I think it is inaccurate, “crosswordese” as I understand it and see it used means terms (usually short words) that appear in crosswords with more frequency than you see or hear them “in the wild.” So even though Yoko Ono is still fairly famous, ONO is still crosswordese because she’s not that frequently discussed these days. Liberty Mutual notwithstanding, Emu still appears more often in puzzles than Robin or Jay or even Wren. I occasionally see (new) solvers misunderstand it to mean “stuff I saw first in a puzzle,” but that’s not the common usage. For example, you might not know who Gay TALESE is, but the 46 appearances of TALESE over 50 years is roughly equal to how often one might expect to hear about him.

jberg 8:48 AM  

Illegitimi non carborundum, Malaika, your comments are fresh and insightful.

I seriously regarded PHONE NUMBER along the lines suggested by @Joaquin, viz., the Yellow Pages would not be the place you went to look one up. I didn't even think about the circles until I got to OF THE DARK (among other things, because they were hard to see once I had filled in the letters), then went back and worked out the other ones.

Somebody should count, but my impression is that stations are move often STAS than STNS in the NYT; fortunately, I had NINTENDO already.

Gay TALESE wrote for the NYT for a few years, so I guess that makes him puzzle-worthy, but you've gotta be old to remember him.

I suppose everyone has heard of the Stanley Steamer, but STEAM CAR seems a little contrived.

And i realize that "often" does not mean "usually," but I would have put "gigue" at 5D if not for REGROW. (I play mostly baroque sonatas, I guess classical may be different.)

My step-daughter just gave me a night light for Father's Day, so it was nice to see one in the clues!

Smith 8:52 AM  

Easy. Even without getting the theme until the last one!

Malaika is just young. Kudos to them for expressing their opinion. At their age I knew no one wanted to hear mine.

Snow job to me suggests something less evil than an outright con. More like a load of bull that you can easily see through... just my ... opinion.

Zed 8:56 AM  

@Anon8:32 - Is it that body of water that is in between or that ENGland is not the entirety of the United Kingdom? Either way, the answer is fine. Remember, the puzzle uses all kinds of alternate meanings for things to try to fool us.

Anonymous 9:02 AM  

"Warbirds" usually refer to WW2 fighter aircraft, not WW1 ones.

Anonymous 9:06 AM  

The non diversity is not on purpose. STOP being offended by every single thing! Stop.

TJS 9:08 AM  

I have a few questions.
Why are we reading the observations of someone who has :

been doing crosswords for two years

uses * for some reason instead of the "o" in crossword

has never seen PLO, RBIS, Orem, etc. in a puzzle

thinks some one may be a racist but doesn't want to take the trouble of investigating

"golf player" ??? Like, can you imagine ???

This puzzle was also annoying on so many levels. Steam car. regrow, ampmmahimagi...why go on ?

Anonymous 9:12 AM  
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Anonymoose 9:16 AM  

@Anonymous 7:44. "Damn Right!" and AMEN.

I enjoyed Malaika's forthright comments. It was actually quite delightful. There's no reason to trash her or her opinions. And @Anonymous(the troll) 2:36. Your feigned indignance is more than annoying.

Anonymous 9:30 AM  

From Wheel of Fortune: RSTLNE represents approximately 45 percent of all letters in a standard English text.

Talese is a useful entry for a constructor.

RooMonster 9:36 AM  

Hey All !
First Themer I got was the bottom one, as COLLECTIONS by itself is an apt descriptor of the clue. But then saw the circled COIN, said, "Huh, neat!", and set out to figure out the others. So a nice little theme, that was enjoyable to figure out. I don't give a fig that two of the Themers are partials. 😁

Couple of Naticks (for me), TALE_E/DAN_KO. Y'all should know by now I don't know writers. πŸ™‚ Now I can't find the other one I thought was there! Har.

Would've sworn that ASHLEE spelt her name ASHLEY. So much so, I had a DNF there with YSSO. *Raises a fist in the air* ASHLEE!!

Some Random Rumblings:
cauStIC first for MIASMIC. We get a RONDO RANDOS pair. Nice long Downs. Eel first for EMU, only to find EELS later. Forgot what we call that. How can an EMU be the only living creature in that genus when an ostrich is basically the same thing? What someone would say when their hair treatment worked? AMEN REGROW JOB! I once had a car that took twenty minutes to go into drive. It was just a bad transmission. But, same principal of having to heat up (well, in my mind, anyway.) 😁

yd -5, should'ves 3
Duo 36 ( really should've been 34), missed 1-4-5-7 (with 4 & 5 being bonehead guesses, as there were four possible answers, and didn't wait to eliminate the letters )

Three F's

jammon 9:42 AM  
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Gary Jugert 9:58 AM  

I celebrate Malaika MWednesdays, but I do it on Saturdays.

I thought it was another delightful puzzle and I am old enough to know the stuff in it. Usual amount of clunkers, and I see no reason to include golfers in any puzzle despite loving the game. It's filled with insufferable privilege cascading all the way down to my local course.

Also didn't catch the theme until OF THE DARK and then I heard a delighted OHO escape from my head.

What exactly do we expect from these constructors when it comes to themes? Would we be happier with all themeless so we could have more time to discuss ATM machines? We complain far more than we celebrate. Cue @Lewis.

I'm guessing the Anonym-oti will be obsessing over poor Israel and poor males, so as soon as @Nancy posts I'll read something else.

Anonymous 9:58 AM  

Anon 9:12,
Why pick on Gaza? Lots of counties around the globe criminalize homosexual relations.
In the Americas alone we have: Antigua & Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, St Kitts & Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent & the Grenadines

Closer to home, anti-sodomy laws were ruled unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2003, but they are still on the books in 13 states: Alabama, Florida, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, Utah and Virginia.

I wonder why a third of the countries around the world and a quarter of US states think sex between two folks of the same sex isn't just a bad idea, but in fact criminal.

Barbara S. 10:02 AM  

I always enjoy it when Malaika (or Clare) mentions unknowns in the puzzle. And not because it allows me to feel superior in my decrepitude, of course not. But because it gives me insight into what young adults today tend to know and tend not to know, which helps me in my interactions with them. And also because it makes me remember a time when I, too, frequently encountered references for which I lacked the antecedents. I was forever having to ask some relevant person to explain. Wikipedia and the massive number of online information sources would have been extremely useful then -- I'm glad they're available to neophytes now (as long as they learn to read critically). That time was frustrating in the moment because there was so much to learn but, like so much of youth, it now has a halcyon cast.

Tom T 10:09 AM  

I was done in by two PPPs that featured double letters: ORR and ASHLEE, with ORR crossing the confusing (for me) IRIS clue and ASHLEE (which is, to me, a truly awkward spelling) crossing an Italian word.

Even without those dnf answers, I found this to be a difficult puzzle. I had a lot of white spaces unfilled my first time through the clues.

Ah, well ... another short streak meets its demise.

Anonymous 10:10 AM  

European theater of operation.

Anonymous 10:11 AM  

Consenting adults should not be prohibited, or even discouraged, from marrying each other if that’s what they choose to do. There’s always a convenient excuse for the prohibition (religion, tradition, ignorance etc.) but it is always, always wrong. I can’t believe this is still a point of contention for some, and that merely mentioning this backwards tradition in a crossword blog amounts to “Attacking a Nation”. Get over it, trolls- right is right.

Challenging Wednesday puzzle, great write up. Thanks Malaika!

OldCarFudd 10:36 AM  

This post will take a while to read. If you don’t want to know about steam cars, just skip over it.

In the 19th century, steam made the world go ‘round. There were steam trains, steam ships, steam tractors, steam generators, - - - . People understood steam. When newfangled horseless carriages appeared, many were steam-powered; early gasoline engines were noisy, rough-running, and cantankerous. But they got better fast, and soon eclipsed steam engines for cars.

While the Stanley is the best-remembered steam car, it wasn’t alone. There were at least 50 manufacturers. The first automobiles in the White House fleet of carriages were White steam cars. (White, the sewing-machine company, built more steam cars, and more sophisticated ones, than Stanley. They were so good that a prominent English writer said the only comparable car was the Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost. In 1911 they switched to internal combustion, and eventually became a highly respected builder of heavy trucks.)

Steam cars were fast. A specially designed Stanley made the world’s land speed record on the sand at Ormond Beach, Florida – 127 miles an hour in 1906!

Steam cars were powerful. F.O. Stanley went to Colorado in the hope of curing his tuberculosis. He built the Stanley hotel in Estes Park to entice others to visit the area, but he had to get them to Estes Park from the nearest railhead, east of the Front Range. He ordered built a fleet of Stanley Mountain Wagons, 12-and 15-passenger buses that could climb the dirt road along a river from which they could periodically siphon water.

Steam cars were physically easier to drive than the gas cars of the day. No clutch. No gears to shift. No dangerous cranking to start the engine. No stalling in traffic.

And now, the rest of the story. I have a 1911 Stanley steam car (the name the company used; Stanley Steamer was the popular nickname). It gives a whole new level of meaning to “pain in the ass”. Yes, it takes half an hour to get it going; I have to light a pilot light (which burns hexane, which I have hazmat-shipped to me for about 30 bucks a gallon). Then I have to warm everything slowly until I can start the main fire, which burns kerosene (which I can’t find in quantity in northern New Jersey, so I take 5-gallon cans to a friendly airport and fill with JetA. Talk about miasma; it smells like an airport!). I run about 500 psi of pressure, so I have to heat the water to over 400 degrees F. And I have to find water every 25 miles or so. Sometimes something goes wrong, and the car catches fire. There are reasons they’re not built any more. But what a hoot!

Whatsername 10:37 AM  

I like the basic idea for this theme and had a sweet aha moment when I discovered the hidden words. The circles in the themers were helpful in the solve which is always a plus IMO. Yes, a tad inconsistent and challenging for a Wednesday but still nicely done IMO.

Obviously I’ve heard of LEA Thompson and PLO and a whole lot of other things but not LACES into. LIGHTS into is the expression more familiar to me

RE: The past seven puzzles were written by eight men; I believe seven are white. This is not important to me. Because I pay for a subscription, I feel free to critique the editor’s choice of puzzles selected for publication, not the people who created them.

Aelurus 10:39 AM  

Caught on to this puzzle at 29A, having CRAFTS but no room for ARTS AND, then noticed the circles played a part. Liked it a lot and was glad of the missing revealer, leaving the aha! to me.

Have worn clogs since college, so DANSKO went right in. Was happy to graduate from the wooden soles of another brand to the more flexible rubber and have been wearing Danskos ever since.

Didn’t know OMEARA, CLAN as the rapper, or ASHLEE and its cross ENID but gettable.

For 46D had Her, then HIS, and wondered if that’s how it would play for @Whatsername.

Nice to see BEES, MIASMIC, RONDO/RANDOS (the latter learned from the NYTXW), MOMA (MoMA, as they like it).

Thanks, Chase, for a lovely WEDnesday puzzle.

@Nancy, @Joe D, @ bocamp – Now to Phrazle. Wasn’t able to get back to the blog till late yesterday, where I left short notes for y’all, with thanks.

Anonymous 10:40 AM  

Thank you for the write up Malaika. I always post anonymously because I don’t have a blogger and not out of fear of these trolls. Bigotry comes out in the weirdest and worst ways. A difficult puzzle, and I completely agree with everything else your puzzle made note of. I had DAY for JOB which still seems more apt.

KnittyContessa 10:40 AM  

Hi Malaika,

I lived in Brooklyn for most of my life - much of it near the R line - I feel your pain!
The first thing I noticed, too, was yet another male constructor.

@Lewis I never heard of kangaroo or joey words. I've learned a lot about the nuances of crossword construction from your posts. Thanks!

Nancy 10:45 AM  

Very hard for a Wednesday and quite peculiar. As a word puzzle, what you end up with are phrases like HOME (IN) PHONE NUMBER; ARTS (IN) AND CRAFTS; FEAR (IN) OF THE DARK and COIN IN COLLECTIONS. None of which make any sense at all.

And because they make no sense, they weren't all that much help in solving. Though ARTS AND CRAFTS did help me change OTOE to CREE.

We've seen this kind of puzzle before -- but always done a lot better than this one. Puzzles where the concept of "in" or "inside" or "within" play an actual role in the phrase you end up with. This one didn't work for me -- though I can't complain that it didn't offer plenty of challenge.

Gary Jugert 10:49 AM  

@OldCarFudd10:36 AM

You win the internet today.

Sometimes something goes wrong, and the car catches fire.

First of all, hilarious.

Second, the fact that you actually take it out for a spin now and again is either awe inspiring or straight up crazy.

Thanks for your post.

jae 10:53 AM  

Easy. Sorta tricky theme with no reveal but some fine long downs. Fun Wednesday, liked it.

Anonymous 10:53 AM  

Oldcar Fudd,

You neglected to mention perhaps the steam engine's greatest strength: 100% torque at 0 horsepower. Try approaching that with an internal combustion engine.

jazzmanchgo 10:54 AM  

RBI = Runs Batted In; it's already a plural. A baseball player has a certain number of RBI, not RBIS. To put the "s" at the end is the equivalent of saying that fuel-efficient car gets over 40 "MPGs," or an LP (remember them?) revolves at a rate of 35 RPMs.

jazzmanchgo 11:00 AM  

. . . also, "Snow Job" is a pretty well-known synonym for "con job." No less a legendary con artist than Col. Tom Parker, Elvis Presley's manager/Svengali, was so proud of his abilities in this line (stemming, no doubt, from his earlier occupation as a carnival manager) that he actually created a semi-fictional club called the "Snowmen's League," for which membership was supposedly based on one's ability to "snow" one's opponents (or, in carny terms, one's "marks").

Masked and Anonymous 11:07 AM  

Had no big problem catchin onto the neat theme, after splatzin in (HOME)PHONENUMBER. (ARTS)ANDCRAFTS was still kinda hard, because I wasn't yet expectin any partials like ANDCRAFTS.

no-knows: PAELLA [sounds slightly familiar, tho]. DANSKO [thought it was just DANSK]. ASHLEE. LEA. RANDOS [slightly inferable]. Genus Dromaius critters.

faves: NINTENDO. TAROTCARDS. AEROSOL. EMBASSY. Maybe MIASMIC, as I half-learned somethin there, as a new word to describe farts.

staff weeject pick: ENG. Was kinda partial to the {Neighbor of Ire.} clue -- had a hint of madness to it.

fave Ow de Sperational stuff: STNS. RANDOS. ATASTE. ATASTE mighta been cooler, if it had been set up as an extra themer: (ATE)ATASTE.
Primo weeject stacks, NE & SW, btw.

Thanx for the buried treasures, Mr. Dittrich dude. As Yoda might say: iFoUNdit.

Masked & Anonymo1U


bocamp 11:11 AM  

@OldCarFudd (10:36 AM)

What a great post! :)

@Aelurus 10:39 AM 😊
td pg -6 / W: 5* / WH: 4

Peace πŸ™ πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡¦ ~ Compassion ~ Tolerance ~ Kindness to all πŸ•Š

Resist 11:11 AM  

If those of you who focus on the gender of the constructor pay for your puzzle access, you might consider canceling your subscription and let the NYT know the reason. Start a movement.

Anonymous 11:12 AM  

Fun fact(?) Orem was the home of Word Perfect, the word processing program of the 80s/90s. I used to install it with a stack of ~30 floppies.

Newboy 11:15 AM  

Thanks Malaika πŸ‘πŸΌ always fun to see your take on the grid of the day. Maybe take a moment to read @Barbara and @Lewis as their takes will give some generational balance. I’m guessing that they have a few decades of solving/constructing that adds weight and wealth to their respective storehouses.

I loved the solve for the reasons they cite. Perhaps that’s because my background is closer to @Joaquin’s so I can appreciate his humor (though we had to turn the hand crank on the wall to get the operator—gave Dad plenty of time to fire up the Stanley). Just a fourth NYT puzzle for Chase, but his is a name I look forward to seeing again frequently.

Aelurus 11:23 AM  

@Barbara S 10:02 - Wonderful post! So true.

@OldCarFudd 10:36 - Agree with @Gary Jugert 10:49: thanks for the information (I'd not heard of a steam car), and for the astonishment found so many decades later in the inconveniences, to say the least, of such an antique car.

Anonymous 11:24 AM  

if you do it this way Malaika MWednesday & trade ; without the blanks, you get
Malaika MWednesday ™

Nancy 11:26 AM  

Phrazle 87: 2/6
⬜πŸŸͺ⬜⬜⬜ ⬜🟩πŸŸͺ⬜🟨

🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩 🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩

Aelurus 11:29 AM  

@bocamp 11:11 - 😊 (and I just found the emojis, LOL, though I rather like the keyboard better)

JC66 11:29 AM  



Anonymous 11:36 AM  

I could not accept Eng as a neighbor of Ire. The UK is the neighbor of Ire, but Eng is not a parallel to Ireland.

Anonymous 11:40 AM  

Read the clues then read the fills as one phrase.
Not found in yellow pages - home phone numbers (the pages list only businesses).
Night light - fear of the dark

And so on.

Uke Xensen 11:42 AM  

Too easy for a Wednesday.

johnk 11:44 AM  

EASY, but shrug shrug. Nothing TO DO but fill it in. I'd love a week without those little circles in the puzzle. My nits: STNS (ho hum), LEA (why not LEO?), ATASTE, DANSKO (sooo tired of shoe brands) - but mainly RANDOS (ugh).

Anonymous 11:53 AM  

AMEN. Not only is the construction imaginative and interesting, but ur explanation is so very well put. Thanx (again) Lewis.

Big Hitter 11:55 AM  

Similar to a recent discussion we have RBIS today. RBI is a term and the plural is RBI'S. If said without the initialism it's Run(or runs) batted in. Note that the R is not necessarily plural.

Hartley70 12:04 PM  

I totally enjoyed this Wednesday puzzle, Chase. It was an easy/medium for me. The theme wasn’t obvious at the PHONENUMBER entry. It didn’t hit me until ANDCRAFTS and then I thought it was a neat trick. EMBASSY and MIASMIC were great answers. TALESE, PLO, ETO were a stroll in the past. That final E in ASHLEE a nod to the present. I’ve never heard of OMEARA but it was fairly crossed and I liked thinking about that creepily detached tail on the lizard. AEROSOL was tricky and WARBIRDS was a cool name that I’ve not heard before. This is just what I like on a Wednesday!

Hartley70 12:07 PM  

@pabloinnh, Congrats, Gramps! Jack is a fine name.

tea73 12:10 PM  

I'm always amused by what the younger generation doesn't know (and Rex too for that matter!), so I have no problem with a relative neophyte stepping in to blog. (Though I would suggest googling "snow job", before posting.

@OldCarFudd enjoyed hearing about your car. I knew vaguely that steam cars were briefly a thing, nice to learn more.

Catch-22. I have tried to read it four or five times. I always get stuck about 50 pages in. I want to like it, but it just seems... boring. So, no, I never heard of Orr, though he may have appeared in the pages I read. The only names I remember are Milo and Yossarian.

I bought a pair of DANSKO clogs because a friend swore by them. They were the most painful shoes I have ever worn. My foot is apparently not the right shape for them.

Agree that it would have been more elegant if all the phrases made sense both with circles added and not. So really liked (HOME)PHONE NUMBER and (COIN) COLLECTIONS, but the other two with partials, not so much.

Anonymous 12:21 PM  

How is that accomplished? Do tell.

Anonymous 12:27 PM  

Not sure there’s a “rule” for pluralization and if there is I can’t wait to break it. I think it would take at least one generation to go from RBI’s to RBI in baseball and broadcasting.

Joaquin 12:27 PM  

“Homosexuality in Russia is a crime and the punishment is seven years in prison, locked up with the other men. There is a three year waiting list.” –Yakov Smirnoff

Anonymous 12:31 PM  


Joe Dipinto 1:05 PM  

Some days after you finish solving a crossword puzzle, you think "Why does this puzzle exist?"

Today is one of those days.

On the other hand: holy crap!
Phrazle 88: 1/6
🟩🟩 🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩 🟩🟩

Did not expect that at all.

ccredux 1:06 PM  

I apologize for my comment about Israeli law. It wasn’t anti- Jewish as someone has pointed out. I didn’ t think it belonged in this blog but I over reacted . Apologies to the blogger— sorry! Thanks for all the comments pointing out my mistake.

Luker2453 1:09 PM  

Golfer!, Not golf player!

Anonymous 1:22 PM  

Ninetail = the weed used to make switches, a type of whip that was part of corporeal punishment back in the day... Putting that perfect fit instead of Nintendo and having to unwind it cost me. Did anyone else go there?

Aelurus 1:24 PM  

@bocamp 11:11 - πŸ™‚
(I just found the emojis, LOL, but mostly prefer the keyboard)

@Joe D 1:05 - Another Phrazle in One! Congrats!! Hmm, PDT can't access #88 for 13:37.

Phrazle 87: 3/6

🟩⬜⬜⬜πŸŸͺ ⬜πŸŸͺπŸŸͺ⬜🟨
⬜⬜🟩🟩⬜ ⬜⬜🟨🟨🟨
🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩 🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩

Anonymous 1:28 PM  


never seen or heard that without the attached "cat o". and spelt with the trailing 's'.

Ethan Taliesin 1:52 PM  

What is it with the guest bloggers and their quotidian updates? I went for a walk. I'm so tired and crazy busy. I ate my favorite food yesterday and it was so good. It's all so self-absorbed. At least the number of exclamation points was not as high as they've been in the past. Anyway....

I had RESTING/DARSKO for NESTING/DANSKO. Ah yes, Dansko. Maker of the classic Danish wooden shoe, but out of normal shoe materials. American company. Cultural appropriation!

Anonymous 2:01 PM  

anon 1:28,
Not only that, I've never heard the bizarre claim that a Cat O'Nine tails was made with ninetail or the even stranger claim that there's a weed called ninetail.
A Cat O' Nine Tails is made with good old fashioned cotton cord. The nine comes from the number of plaits traditionally--though not exclusively-- used.
The less said about corporeal rather than corporal punishment the better.

Anonymous 2:06 PM  

The lack of a revealer to make sense of the theme answers was really odd. After finishing it, I too went back in search of a hidden one. Nope. Maybe we are supposed to figure one out where the answer is meta and explains the missing reveal?

The best I could come up with was “Overwrite” as some sort of play on “over-right” to explain that there was a necessary correction written over the actual answer?

That was the best I could do.

Chase Dittrich 2:15 PM  

Thanks for solving, everyone! Great critiques, all around, especially in regards to some of the themers being standalone and others not. I didn't realize that when I was making it. Good to consider for future puzzles.

Sorry for anyone who struggled on DANSKO/TALESE. I know that's a tough crossing!

(Not sorry for being a white man, though. Can't really help that.)


Anonymous 2:23 PM  

At first I thought Rex had written this review and I said to myself- what? He doesn’t know what a snow job is? Then I saw it was Malaika. So all is forgiven. « Snow Job » is really old slang. As they say, way before your time.

ccredux 2:59 PM  

I want to apologize personally to Malaika for my comment on the Israeli law. Your comment was in no way anti-Jewish. I am terribly sorry for my reaction. I look forward to more blogs from you! .

SharonAK 3:08 PM  

I found this hard for a aWednesdy.

I'lm surprised at the comments about an "anti-Jewish" remark in the write up
D did not see one. I saw a statement of fact that was neutral. Even if it had been anti-Israel that would not make it anti-Jewish.

However, I agree with the comment that one should not suggest a person is racist without knowledge.

Liveprof 3:14 PM  

Did someone mention Catch 22?

"Now where were we? Read me back the last line."

"'Read me back the last line,'" read back the corporal who could take shorthand.

"Not my last line, stupid!" the colonel shouted. "Somebody else's."

"'Read me back the last line,'" read back the corporal.

"That's my last line again!" shrieked the colonel, turning purple with anger.

"Oh, no, sir," corrected the corporal. "That's my last line. I read it to you just a moment ago. Don't you remember, sir? It was only a moment ago."

Too funny. I miss Joseph Heller, alav hashalom.

Anonymous 3:15 PM  

You can’t use Diesel fuel (from the “gas” station for the kerosene? Why?

Anonymous 3:20 PM  

Thank you!

Amelia 3:21 PM  

Pursuant to the discussion of run or runs batted in, it will not take a generation. All announcer and sports announcers use it correctly.

In the singular, it is RBI. "He has one RBI."
In the plural, it is RBI. "He's leading the league in RBI."

As for the casual (IMO) racist language, just reverse it. You'll see that it's a problem. What's wrong with 7 White people constructing crosswords and getting them published. Nothing. It's not a crime. What would be wrong with critically saying 7 Black people did the puzzle this week? Try it.

As for Jews in Israel, not as simple as you think. The majority (if not all) official weddings are Orthodox or ultra-Orthodox. Those folks won't marry people who aren't from the same flock. But there are many ways (including for same-sex partnerships) to make a legal connection. I believe they are trying to change this by giving Conservatives more power.

Funner fact: In the Islamic world, Muslim men can marry outside their faith. Muslim women can't.

Anonymous 3:22 PM  

I'm with Malaika on this one (fellow female millennial solver here!) Lately I've been playing a game where, when I'm about halfway through the puzzle, I try to guess whether it was written by a man or not. Surprise surprise, I'm always right! ...Until today, when I saw the "Write Gay" clue and thought, wow, this one was definitely authored by a woman! Ha, ha, joke is on me. I have nothing against male constructors, I just wish more of them would include the cultural diversity of references that female and BIPOC constructors tend to include. When I have a harder time guessing whether the puzzle was written by a man or a woman, then we can talk.

Nancy 3:28 PM  

You're killing me, Joe!

Phrazle 88: 2/6
🟩🟩 ⬜🟨⬜⬜⬜🟨 🟩🟩

🟩🟩 🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩 🟩🟩

Close, but no cigar for the phrace. How do you do it time after time?

Jeff B. 3:34 PM  

Negative comments about Israeli policies are not necessarily anti-Jewish. We can disagree with how they treat people, especially Palestinians who were there for centuries, without having ethnic bias.

Anonymous 3:46 PM  

Agree 100%!

CT2Napa 3:47 PM  

A run batted in is a statistic credited to a batter whose action at bat causes one or more runs to score, as set forth in this Rule 9.04.

(a) The official scorer shall credit the batter with a run batted in for every run that scores

(1) unaided by an error and as part of a play begun by the batter's safe hit (including the batter's home run), sacrifice bunt, sacrifice fly, infield out or fielder's choice, unless Rule 9.04(b) applies;
(2) by reason of the batter becoming a runner with the bases full (because of a base on balls, an award of first base for being touched by a pitched ball or for interference or obstruction); or
(3) when, before two are out, an error is made on a play on which a runner from third base ordinarily would score.
(b) The official scorer shall not credit a run batted in
(1) when the batter grounds into a force double play or a reverse-force double play; or
(2) when a fielder is charged with an error because the fielder muffs a throw at first base that would have completed a force double play.
(c) The official scorer's judgment must determine whether a run batted in shall be credited for a run that scores when a fielder holds the ball or throws to a wrong base. Ordinarily, if the runner keeps going, the official scorer should credit a run batted in; if the runner stops and takes off again when the runner notices the misplay, the official scorer should credit the run as scored on a fielder's choice.

Georgia 3:55 PM  

Ha, yes, but it says "neighbor of Ire."

Whatsername 3:56 PM  

@pablo: Great news on the arrival of wee Jack! Congratulations to you and your family. I love that baby names seem to be trending toward the more traditional classics. My little great nephew, now already 15 months old and walking, is named Henry. And a friend who recently welcomed a little girl, named her Adeline.

Georgia 3:58 PM  

Mine too! "Snow job" is now "BS." Not a criminal act.

Georgia 4:02 PM  

As to RBIs, according to Google the plural is: RBIs.
"Some people reason that since “RBI” stands for “runs batted in,” there is no need for an additional “S” to indicate a plural, and speak of “120 RBI.” However, though somewhat illogical, it is standard to treat the initialism as a word and say “RBIs.” In writing, one can add an optional apostrophe: “RBI's.”'

Ride the Reading 4:15 PM  

At the risk of bringing up another movie from long ago (!) that Malaika might not be familiar with - "snow job" was substituted for another four-letter "job" in sanitized-for-younger-viewers airings of "Animal House," when Dean Wormer is overseeing the investigation into Delta House.

AP style is RBI (singular), RBIs (plural). You won't persuade me it is otherwise.

Ride the Reading 4:33 PM  

A follow-up to my post of a few minutes ago...AP changed its style to RBI/RBIs at some point 30 or 35 years. In my AP Stylebooks from 1977 and 1988, it's RBI, singular and plural. By 2003, it was RBI and RBIs. I don't have Stylebooks between those years.

Just speculating....perhaps it was originally RBI in both to save a character, from when transmission might have been charged by the word or character, and 60 WPM was the text transmission speed on teletype.

DGD 4:49 PM  

According to Wikipedia his given name is Gaetano (his parents were Italian immigrants). Not unlikely nickname for him to acquire or choose when he was young as you said.

OldCarFudd 4:55 PM  

I'm glad some folks enjoyed learning a bit about steam cars.

Gary Jugert, awe inspiring and stand-up crazy aren't mutually exclusive. It inspires awe in spectators that some folks are stand-up crazy enough to drive these beasts. In most years, there are a couple of week-long tours for steam cars. Typically 30 to 40 cars show up. Also typically, several don't complete the whole tour. There are many tours every year for pre-1916 cars sponsored by the Horseless Carriage Club of America. I usually drive one of my gas cars, but there will often be a steamer or two - sometimes mine - in the mix.

Anon 10:53, do you remember the story of "The Little Engine That Could"? A little switch engine struggles to haul a freight train over a mountain when the big engine has broken down. He says: "I THINK i can I THINK i can" until he crests the hill. My steam car makes the same sound. I pile kids in the car, find a steep hill (there are a couple in my neighborhood), slow the car down to barely walking speed, and feed it just enough steam to chug up the hill. We all call out "I THINK i can I THINK i can" in sync with the engine. Then I add some more steam, and the chant becomes "I THOUGHT i could I THOUGHT i could" as I blow the steam whistle. All because of max torque at 0 rpm. The kids love it. Me, too!

Anon 3:15, kerosene is more volatile than diesel. Fuel for a steamer is burned out in open air, not under compression in a cylinder. It has to be pre-heated so it passes through the burner as a vapor, not a liquid. Diesel fuel is too dense.

OK, that's more than you wanted to know. I'll shut up now.

Blue Stater 5:34 PM  

This mess epitomizes for me all that has gone wrong with the NYTXW during the Shortz era, which I keep hoping will come to an end soon. Gimmicks, meta-gimmicks, distinctly unclever (and often wrong) clues, etc., etc., etc. Today's was simply a disgrace, particularly for a Wednesday.

Anonymous 5:38 PM  

re: "Negative comments about Israeli policies are not necessarily anti-Jewish"

I think what's striking here though is the choice of what and when to criticize, the arbitrariness in the unprovoked context. Malaika might as easily (and accurately) have said (since the seemingly the prompt was "PLO") "Palestinian women in Gaza can't marry non-Muslims" or "Women in Gaza are subject to "Marry-your-rapist" laws". These other associated tidbits would not be "anti-Palestinian" or "anti-Muslim", that should be plain too (though had Malaika noted as much in this arbitrary context, many readers might be justified in wondering why. True, yes, but relevant... how?) What a writer chooses to comment on in the guise of a "fun fact" is not simply a statement of interesting trivia, and there's nothing to be gained by pretending it is so. This was a "fun fact" intended to express a judgement. Clearly Malaika is 100% entitled to disapprove of this Israeli policy; and certainly that doesn't in itself convey anti-jewishness, any more than it would have conveyed islamaphobia to report the sad state of policy in Gaza.

So instead of asking if this conveys anti-Jewish sentiment, I find myself asking: why is this the context for raising one's feelings about Israeli policy, of all things in the world? is this "fun fact" such a singular preoccupation that almost any context at all is suitable for discussing it? When someone uses an utterly random occasion to bring something up, it is very natural to say... huh? where did that come from? why that, why now? and if the answer is "because this is the thing that most disturbs me the world right now" one might also then say... huh? really? That's a terrible little "fun fact", but, really, that's what you can't help but mention, apropos of nothing at all? what does that say about the speaker?

The world is full of awful policies, retrograde governments, cruelty and indifference. And we each pick the ones that somehow are most troubling to us, since we can't possibly encompass them all; the ones which we can't help but bring up whenever we possibly can. And that choice may say something about where our heads are at. For whatever reason, Malaika is very, very concerned about marriage laws in Israel: fun fact! I don't think we can say where the writer's head is at vis a vis jews or Israelis, based on this alone. But we should not pretend that "fun facts" are "fun" at all, or casual, or meaningless. Throwing out comments like this in the breezy flow of crossword chatter is very distracting, IMO.

Try it. Fun fact: [fill in whatever is most troubling to you in the world right now].

It's an odd choice in the context of crossword chatter!

egsforbreakfast 5:46 PM  

I realize that the usage below is not exactly on point, but I thought that, nevertheless, youse oldsters would thrill to averse from Snoopy vs. The Red Baron by The Royal Guardsmen:

After the turn of the century
In the clear blue skies over Germany
Came a roar and a thunder men had never heard
Like the screamin' sound of a big war bird

Unknown 6:15 PM  

re: "when I'm about halfway through the puzzle, I try to guess whether it was written by a man or not. Surprise surprise, I'm always right!"

You may not be aware that a high percentage of clues are changed by the editors. They are NOT as written by the named constructor. And some smaller percentage of the answers on the grid are also likely to have been changed. You may think you are guessing at the gender (sex? actually, i don't know what you think you're guessing!) of the constructor, but that's simply not true.

At most, you *might* be guessing something about one or the other editor who tweaked the clues and answers, maybe? Although at the NYT, at least, those are pretty evenly split between (apparently, judging only from their pics and names) men and women (though I can't guess at their gender identities, and I don't know anything about them personally.)

But I also think you are mistaken regarding the ability to guess at a constructor's sex or gender from their puzzle. Even claiming to do so betrays a presumption of gender stereotypes, roles and characteristics. As though cis-female constructors might not write about... what? what kind of clues and answers would you expect a "male" constructor to write? how exactly do we define sexism, if it isn't the presumption of innate traits by virtue of one's presentation in a photo? Would you change your analysis if you learned that one of those pics is a trans male? or a gay man? or a straight woman with a traditionally male name and seemingly male physique?

Why not just say it directly: puzzles should be inclusive in their clues, answers, and themes. They should reference the concerns and interests of a widest-possible audience, inclusive of various age, socioeconomic, gender, religious, cultural and physical and geographic characteristics. There's nothing gained by disparaging straight white men as less able to produce such puzzles, or by imagining that non-white, non-straight women are especially well suited to producing them. Why not applaud all constructors (and all humans, even the sad group who never construct a thing!), even straight white men, who contribute to the world we claim to want?

gdaddywinz 6:38 PM  

What they just said

KennyMitts 7:52 PM  

I believe she starred out the “o” in crosswordese to indicate that she thinks it’s a dirty word. Other than that, I agree with your points. People whose life experiences differ from my own have no business posting their thoughts on the internet, especially on a site as sacred as a crossword blog.

Photomatte 8:25 PM  

A very easy puzzle, even though it took me awhile to grok the theme; the only time I got stuck was with ASHLEE Simpson, never heard of her. Had Ashle and though it must be Ashley but knew the Down answer was wrong at the end.
Lea Thompson was right in my era (class of 87, yay!), but the best high school movie of all time has to be Fast Times at Ridgemont High. That movie features first-time roles for four future Oscar winners (Sean Penn, Forrest Whitaker, Nicolas Cage and Jennifer Jason Leigh); how many other movies can claim that?! The Breakfast Club is a very close second, of course.

Anonymous 8:26 PM  

I just thought they were similar…back when KEROSUN kerosine heaters were all the rage, it was common practice to fill up your can from the Diesel pump. As I remember, if you kept the receipt you could get a refund on the tax. So at least for the heater you could use either.

TAB2TAB 9:11 PM  

Why is NINTENDO a switch maker? Am I missing something?

Anonymous 9:31 PM  

Anti-Israel isn't the same as antisemitic.

Anonymous 10:46 PM  

Fun fact - According to a 1993 report by the British National Criminal Intelligence Service, the PLO was "the richest of all terrorist organizations", with $8–$10 billion in assets and an annual income of $1.5–$2 billion from "donations, extortion, payoffs, illegal arms dealing, drug trafficking, money laundering, fraud, etc."[98] Estimates of the Palestine Liberation Organization's alleged hidden assets vary wildly and only Arafat had the whole picture. A former PLO finance minister said it was $3 billion to $5 billion.

RooMonster 12:07 AM  

NINTENDO makes a game console called the Switch. Unsure if it's still being made.

RooMonster Only Ever Had An NES Guy

Best Buy 12:09 AM  

The Nintendo Switch is a home gaming console put out by, you guessed it, Nintendo.

Anonymous 1:12 AM  

You’re working very, very hard to try to disprove something that I’ve found to be empirically true: that I can almost always guess whether a puzzle was created by [to respond to your point]
someone whose first name suggests that they identify as a woman or a man. Sure, editors change clues, maybe even answers. And yet my truth is my own: that I vastly, on average, enjoy puzzles by diverse constructors more than those created by white men because of the rich diversity of references I find there. We are all allowed to hold our own preferences and truths, and that’s mine.

Otter 1:21 AM  

@TAB2TAB This is one of those clues where the inability to tell the capitalization of the first word matters - NINTENDO makes a gaming device called a Switch. It’s relatively newer as far as video games go, so I’m betting there’s a bit of a generational difference in who got this clue easily

Anonymous 2:50 AM  


Joel R. 3:46 AM  

Rex / Michael, this is a classic case of how, when you're in a bad mood from some extrinsic cause, you become a cranky, self-pitying, all-around bad sport about the puzzle and its quirks. (This is by way of saying that I myself found this puzzle clever, elegant, and a delight to solve.)

You trot out the usual complaints about how the fills are banal, unexciting, and disappointing, and how the words are terms no one uses in actual life, whereas in fact (I would suggest) part of what a puzzle tests is one's knowledge of words that aren't part of our daily discourse. And yes, let's call them crosswordese. Your ritual hatred of such fill is a bit like biting the hand that feeds you.

One of your strengths is an ability to admit when you're wrong, often recounting thereby how you filled in an answer incorrectly, in such-and-such a way, until sone other configuration made clear by correct fills brought you around to the right answer. Another strength is your appreciation of clues (usually for long answers, across or down) that are genuinely difficult, not because of a vocabulary matter but because of the smartly crafted riddle posed by the clue. Your best columns celebrate such riddles in a manner pleasing to a reader such as I, and I was pleased that you found a few here (June 1) worth admiring, DESPITE your bad mood.

All this is quite apart from other non-intrinsic factors that lead you to reject a clue or an answer--e.g., that it's politically incorrect, or depressing to think about, or just out of key in some unspecified way with your personality or spirit.

All this is by way of saying that your best columns are the rave reviews you give some puzzles--usually those designed by constructors you've long admired. I also admire those columns that fault the things you typically object to but somehow find a reason to enjoy the puzzle anyway. But lately, such columns have been few, and your bad moods often lead me to close your blog feeling that its not worth listening to Rex, at least for that day.

Shannon Cassio 4:08 AM  
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Rex Parker 4:35 AM  


I didn't do this write-up.

Best wishes,

Anonymous 2:04 PM  

Maybe you should just feel informed. Lack of knowledge just because one wasn’t alive before a certain time is no excuse for ignorance. We still have schools, right?

Anonymous 2:28 PM  

Ehh, mentioning something negative about Israel in the context of a clue about the PLO is hardly a random, benign bit of trivia. Particularly given that the trivia she shared was incomplete. *No* interfaith marriages of any kind can be performed in Israel. That means Christians and Muslims are equally discriminatory when it comes to performing religious marriage ceremonies (Israel has no civil marriage). Yet her comment singled out Jewish weddings. Just not a great look.

Anonymous 3:54 PM  

JJL has not won an Oscar, though she was nominated for her role in The Hateful Eight.

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