One-named satirist of ancient Greece / TUE 11-22-22 / Moth's cocoon phase / Chinese dialect spoken mainly in Hunan province

Tuesday, November 22, 2022

Constructor: Wendy L. Brandes

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: CUTTING THE CARDS (7D: Part of a blackjack dealer's ritual ... or what this answer is doing vis-à-vis the answers to the starred clues) — 7-Down literally "cuts" (through) five types of "cards" (that is, words that can precede the word "card")

Theme answers:
  • 17A: *1971 film about coming of age in a small, one-cinema Texas town, with "The" ("LAST PICTURE SHOW")
  • 22A: *Eloquence said to be acquired by kissing the Blarney Stone (GIFT OF GAB)
  • 33A: *Exams that value analysis and understanding more than rote memorization (OPEN-NOTE TESTS)
  • 43A: *Van Morrison song aptly featured in "An American Werewolf in London" ("MOONDANCE")
  • 50A: *Owning, as an achievement (TAKING CREDIT FOR)
Word of the Day: LUCIAN (19A: One-named satirist of ancient Greece) —
Lucian of Samosata (c. 125 – after 180) was a Hellenized Syrian satiristrhetorician and pamphleteer who is best known for his characteristic tongue-in-cheek style, with which he frequently ridiculed superstition, religious practices, and belief in the paranormal. Although his native language was probably Syriac, all of his extant works are written entirely in ancient Greek (mostly in the Attic Greek dialect popular during the Second Sophistic period). (wikipedia)
• • •

Hey all. I'm on (Thanksgiving / birthday week) vacation, so in order to spend maximum time with my family (whom I actually like), I'm gonna be microblogging for the next few days. Is that a term, "microblogging?" I feel like I've heard it. And now I'm doing it. Speaking of "Is that a term?": POLLER. Is POLLER a term? Well, funny story: I took a poll. Because I'm solving out of my element (i.e. at my mom's house, i.e. not in my office), I just decided to solve wherever I could get space, which meant the dining room table, which is less than shouting distance from the living room, which was where all my family was sitting. So I hit POLLER early (third answer I got), and I inaudibly groaned and sank in my chair, and then I asked my family, "Hey, what do you call [One sampling public opinion]!?" And my sister goes "... POLLSTER?" at the same time that my wife also goes "POLLSTER" and then I say "thank you!" and then my wife looks at me in horror and asks "omg did they try to foist POLLER on you!?" Yes. Yes they did. Therefore, because of this dramatic polling incident, I can say, with confidence, with the unbiased backing of at least two other reasonably intelligent people, that POLLER is a garbage non-word. 

I also asked the room, "Hey, for [Part of a blackjack dealer's ritual], how would you fill in the blank on the following phrase: 'CUTTING THE ___'"? I got three "DECKs." So again I say, with confidence, that today's puzzle is not [dramatically removes sunglasses] dealing fairly! These mots are not the mots justes. And the fill in general was a little subpar, a little xwordesey, a little hard to take (EIRE ETNA ÊTES etc etc). This is all too bad, as the theme is kinda cute. And of course it has to be "CARDS," not "DECK," or the entire premise doesn't work. So that's fine, actually. Just not a phrase I'd use for blackjack. Maybe clue it as part of a card trick? I dunno. Anyway, the theme works great. I don't really know what a PICTURE CARD is ... but I assume it's something, so ... thumbs up to the theme.

[You can see that the wikipedia entry is for "Cut (cards)" but when I add 
"blackjack" to the search terms, predictive texts wants "deck"]

OK, this blogging is not micro- enough for my (and possibly your) tastes, so let's move quickly to ... 

Five Bullet Points:
  • 19A: One-named satirist of ancient Greece (LUCIAN) — this seems an extremely non-Tuesday name. I barely know this guy, and I've spent a good deal of time around classical literature. This answer and XIANG (30A: Chinese dialect spoken mainly in Hunan province) really upped the level of difficulty today, though both answers were easy enough to get from crosses, and the rest of the puzzle was no harder than a normal Tuesday.
  • 29A: Lustful, informally (RANDY) — I can't stop laughing at "informally." Is "Lustful" formal? When you're black-tie horny: Lustful. When you're casual-Friday horny: RANDY.
  • 14A: Words of sudden recognition ("OH, IT'S YOU") — we interrupt this broadcast for a very necessary and relevant playing of "Escape (The Piña Colada Song)":
  • 49A: Careless or carefree (BLITHE) — a perfectly reasonable word, but I struggled to come up with it. Since the two clue words seem miles apart from each other, I couldn't grab hold of a word that seemed to fit.
  • 11D: Gritty residue in a chimenea (ASH) — whoa, I'm only noticing just now that the clue does not say "chimney"! I have never, ever heard of this term! "chimenea /ɪmɪˈn.ə/, also spelled chiminea (from Spanishchimenea which derive from French cheminée, "chimney"), is a freestanding front-loading fireplace or oven with a bulbous body and usually a vertical smoke vent or chimney." (wikipedia). I didn't know these had a name! I'm just glad I saw "chimenea" in a clue before I got run over by it as an answer!  

OK, that's all, see you all tomorrow. 

[Longmont, CO: The morning view from mom's dining room window]

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


okanaganer 2:18 AM  

Okay first off, it's OPEN BOOK TESTS where I was schooled. Never heard of OPEN NOTE TESTS. That just sounds bizarro.

Any way, CUTTING THE CARDS is fine... CUT THE CARDS is better, but whatever. Aside from PICTURE cards, the themers seem reasonable. Picture cards? Not a phrase I know. CREDIT cards, yes, since Covid hit I have put everything I've bought on my credit card. Just yesterday I bought something for 1 dollar... and put it on my credit card, cuz I have no cash! I felt silly but sillier things have happened.

For 23 down origin of "jasimine" and "julep" I thought: HINDI! No, that's 23 across, silly.

Anonymous 3:02 AM  

I got done in by the LIS / TRISHA cross because I wrote LYS (which at least Wikipedia backs me up on as valid) and, not being extremely familiar with Trisha Yearwood, I had no real way to know that TRYSHA was not simply an alternative spelling of the name. It wouldn't be the most unusual spelling I'd ever seen.

jae 3:08 AM  

Medium. The top third was easier than the rest. XIANG, ETES, and LUCIAN were WOEs. Clever theme and reasonably smooth given the constraints. Liked it.

...and yes, it’s pollster.

albatross shell 3:12 AM  

Oh the horror of it all, Rex. CARDS not deck. I don't do casinos so I don't know how it's done there. Six decks ,machine shuffled? Do they CUT THE DECKS? Do they put the top card upside down on the bottom? We did. In poker you are likely to saycut the car cut. Bl

albatross shell 3:45 AM  

Rex, oh the horror. ?Cards instead of deck. Maybe if it wasn't a mini-blog (more common than micro-blog?) Rex would have gotten to OPENbook instead of OPENNOTE. Do they still cut the 6 decks in a shoe at casinos? Do they still put the top card upside down on the bottom of the deck like us kids did? Or is that face-up on the bottom? I not a casino weekend.

Of course Rex is not exactly wrong.

DEADLINE RANDY MOONDANCE LAST PICTURE SHOW (that is what I called a movie when I was a kid) BLITHE SCRAPE BRIDAL ANYA (Queen's Gambit) INEEDANAP OHITSYOU all make for a nicely put together early weeker.

Harry 4:01 AM  

I like what time with his family does to Rex's style. Great, pithy write up. I give CUT THE CARDS a pass; but it feels "regional".

Anonymous 4:28 AM  

Love the view!

Conrad 4:58 AM  

When I was in college (back in the Pleistocene), we had both OPEN book and OPEN NOTE tests. In the former you could use your textbook as well as the notes you took in class; in the latter, textbooks were forbidden but you could use your notes.

Anonymous 5:17 AM  

<3 from South Africans (who are also on vacation)

OffTheGrid 5:32 AM  

I liked this just fine. The theme was solid and I liked that it was a bit difficult in spots. I held off on CARDS or decks until I had a cross but I do think CARDS is more common in real world. EXEDIN kinda clunked, along with the aforementioned POLLER. Otherwise very clean.

Anonymous 5:37 AM  

Microblogs are a thing. Twitter is the most well-known microblogging site/app.

Agree that it was open BOOK tests where I came from. I wonder if Googling is allowed these days?

Re: blackjack, the original game just used one deck. Casinos added more decks to cut down the players' advantage, especially for card counters and to minimize shuffling time. With a full table, you might only get one round with a single deck anyway, so there was a lot of time without bets on the table, to the casino's detriment. Dealing procedures vary slightly, but typically the dealer offers the deck(s) to a player for cutting purposes. The player uses a plastic cut card to indicate where the cut should be made. The dealer will then cut the deck at that point and burn the top card before play starts. Most large casinos use a shuffling machine to shuffle multiple decks while play continues with a second set of decks. In this way, there's no shuffling downtime, and the casino makes more money.

The phrase was always cut the cards where I came from. More typically, we would just say "cut" when playing cards at home.

tompdavis 5:50 AM  

I would say they spelled FLEUR-DE-LYS incorrectly, but then I googled it, and DON'T GOOGLE IT AT WORK :) Apparently it can be either.

Lizard Breath 6:25 AM  

When I was teaching, I’d use OPEN NOTE TEST to refer to a test in which students could use the notes they’d taken, but not books.

Anonymous 6:32 AM  

What is a DANCE card? Words/brands I didn’t know that I still don’t know after seeing them: ESSIE, XIANG, IDA, LUCIAN. Why so much language fill today? See also FARSI, HINDI. (Tack on PASO for some espanol.)

Phillyrad1999 6:34 AM  

So wanted the word deck to be somewhere in the revealer. Next faux pas was going with Putting instead of CUTTING. Even after I got CUTTING It took me a while to get the relevance to the thermers, NOTE, PICTURe etc. And when I did, well it was just a sigh. Not sure XIANG, HINDI and FARSI all belong in a Tuesday puzzle at the same time.

Anonymous 6:39 AM  
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Chris from LI 6:42 AM  

I came here for some hatred of 30D, and now I'm leaving disappointed.

Anonymous 7:02 AM  

It should be picture postcard (as in Joni Mitchell's "Hejira" and at least one song by Van Morrison). But "poller", hoo boy, that reeks.

Son Volt 7:12 AM  

The central NYS Rex would have lambasted this one - funny what a change of environment will do. This was a mess - too many themers and associated asterisks for a Tuesday. Maybe do the physical cutting theme on a Thursday or even Sunday without so much highlighting?

Mostly ugly short stuff here - refer to the entire NE corner and LAC x AOC and the entire SW corner. XEDIN x ESSIE?

OH ITS YOU, GIFT OF GAB and I NEED A NAP are all solid - but with the theme density there’s not much room for any other goodness.

Hey baby que PASO

This was rough.

Anonymous 7:22 AM  

Wait... Rex's mom lives in the same town as Mr. Money Mustache? Mind blown...

kitshef 7:25 AM  

Very impressive theme density. Also impressive density for the secondary theme of languages. And the third theme of letter-words (I PHONE, U HAULS, E TRADE, B DAY).

Was it worth that XIANG/XED IN cross? I’d say yes.

Also also impressive: no non-themers are ‘cut’ by 7D.

I think of a POLLER as a voter – one who goes to the polls, not one who conducts polls. But it’s definitely a word I’ve heard – possibly due to the midlantic nature of my upbringing.

Bob Mills 7:25 AM  

The word for someone who conducts a poll is POLLSTER, not POLLER. Bad.

SouthsideJohnny 7:44 AM  

Way, way too much unorthodoxy in today’s grid for my taste. It’s everywhere you turn - POLLER ? LUCIAN, LYIN crossing LAC, LIS, SHO, XIANG, ANYA, GIT, HINDI and the difficult to watch and horrific to contemplate ESSIE crossing PASO. Difficult to fathom that people may actually enjoy putting that stuff in their grid - maybe collateral damage caused by the constraints imposed by the theme entries ? If so, please get rid of the theme and spare us the HINDIs, FARSIs and IDAs of the world. Man, sad to see a Tuesday grid so thoroughly abused like that.

Of course there is one bright spot to the day - the guest appearance by Sloth, the greatest deadly SIN of them all.

Anonymous 7:52 AM  

Hated that one too

bocamp 7:59 AM  

Thx, Wendy; this one clearly CUTs the mustARD! :)

Med+ (Wednes time).

Didn't grok the theme until post-solve analysis. Very clever!

Good start in the NW; LUCIAN / PISCES coming with the crosses.

Had TRIciA before TRISHA, and book before NOTE.

ESSIE & ANYA are starting to take hold.

Somehow managed to drop CUTTING THE DECK in (must've had an extra letter somewhere in there). lol


EIRE / Erin is always a kealoa for me.

Watched THE LAST PICTURE SHOW for the umpteenth time recently.

Fun adventure today! :)

@jae, pablo

Easy-med. Croce (1 1/2 hrs), with an educated guess in the NE (but not with the 'salon'). The upper left was the tough quad for me. See you next Mon.! :)
Peace 🕊 🇺🇦 ~ Compassion ~ Tolerance ~ Kindness to all 🙏

mmorgan 8:00 AM  

Rex really wrote this?? Doesn’t sound like him at all. The tone is no BLITHE that I thought it was a guest blogger. Must be the Colorado air. I had no problem with cutting the CARDS — it seems highly familiar to me as a phrase though I don’t know anything about card games — but I couldn’t figure out the theme at all. I finally saw part of it with CREDIT and DANCE, but PICTURE?? I was looking for something like Jack or King or Clubs to be cut in two by the long down revealer, but that went nowhere. POLLER seemed ridiculous but at least it was easy to get.

Anonymous 8:07 AM  

Love that view

Joaquin 8:11 AM  

If you google POLLER you will find it is a real word and can be used as clued (instead of "pollster"). But no one does use it that way and certainly not on a Tuesday.

Anonymous 8:12 AM  

Back in the day at dances women had dance cards where they'd write men's names on the card of who they intended on dancing with (to keep track of who they accepted to dance with). The cards often had an order with specific dances and some we're elaborate and we're kept as souvenirs.

Jon Alexander 8:13 AM  


One who surveys an arctic gondolier? POLAR POLER POLLER

The proper names in this one were a toughie, but most, as Rex said, could be inferred from crosses. Played on a medium challenging level for me.

PICTURE CARDS are a thing…they are a tool to help children learn to associate words with objects, animals, etc., but the weakest of the themers no doubt.

Cea 8:18 AM  

Gift of gab??? What happened to the THE? Gift of THE gab, please.

Anonymous 8:25 AM  

Sometimes late
When things are real
And people share the gift of gab
Between themselves

Anonymous 8:26 AM  

Amy: Anonymous 6:32, several generations ago, women carried dance cards at formal balls, often a little booklet on a ribbon going around the wrist. Men would sign on lines for individual dances.
Anonymous 7:02, Hejira is one of my favorite Joni albums (I see the moon at my window; thieves left that behind).
Puzzle is entertaining but found the westside middle a challenge. ESSIE, PASO & XEDIN tripped me up for a time.
Enjoy your visit, Rex. Did you know a POLLER is also a tree cutter? Also: a barber.

Lewis 8:44 AM  

Oh, I enjoyed the aha that came when figuring out the theme, enjoyed running across unfamiliar words in grid and clue (XIANG, chimenea, POLLER), seeing SHO crossing SHOW, seeing the rhyming crosses of ASH/SPLASH and GIT/GETFIT, seeing ATTIC on top, and finding a word not crossed by 7D that can legitimately precede CARD, that word being TITLE.

But what I want to focus on is Wendy’s grid-making skill. Yes, it’s tough enough to have CUTTING THE CARDS run through five other theme answers. That requires each horizontal theme answer to contain a common phrase that has a “card” word with a letter in just the right place. Impressive.

But her grid-making really comes to the fore when considering how dense the theme is (Hi, @Kitshef!). This theme uses a sky-high 76 theme squares (usually themes are in the 40s or 50s), 40% of the boxes with letters in them! To accomplish a mostly junk-free grid, as this one is, with so much theme takes wow-worthy skill.

Brava on that Wendy! And thank you for a lovely and eye-opening puzzle today!

Anonymous 8:54 AM  


Anonymous 8:58 AM  

Echoing my thoughts exactly!

Trina 9:09 AM  

DANCE CARD: Back in the day, young women at Deb balls and the like carried a dance card on their wrist. Would be suitors would put their name down for specific dances.

pabloinnh 9:12 AM  

Caught on to the theme early when I guessed the vertical CUTTING was going to cut either a deck or CARDS, and GIFT made it CARDS, so that was a kind of an early revealer, which I kind of don't like, but no way to avoid it here, so fine. As for the deck vs. CARDS issue, I think the phrase I've heard is "You trust your mother but you cut the CARDS.", so it made sense to me.

Some beyond-Tuesday answers, as others have noted. I liked the added spice.

I had GETF_T and wondered who would want to GETFAT. Oops.

My favorite answer here was BLITHE, as it made me think of "BLITHE spirit, bird thou never wert", which is absolutely the only time I have ever seen "wert" anywhere.

Nice theme and solid construction, WWLB. Won't Look Back at this one but fun while it lasted, for which thanks.

@jae, bocamp-Toughish Croce but got 'er done. The NE was a bear.

RooMonster 9:14 AM  

Hey All !
Rex stole my opening line! 😁😜

"You almost got me, you sneaky X" is what I said as I got to my last letter, the dastardly X in the XIANG/XEDIN cross. Took a full minute of first an alphabet run, then rereading clue for the 73rd time, until finally the ole brain cottoned onto what was required. "Aha (a literal Aha moment!), It's an X!" Said I. Threw it in, and Happy Music. Then wagged my finger at that X.

Quite cool to get a 15 Down answer "cutting" the various types of cards. Notice it actually cuts the word of the card, e.g. it goes through PICTURE,, and not LAST or SHOW. Tough to do.

Puz made by Wendy L Brandes, when I first glanced at her name, it quickly looked like Badass! Wendy L Badass. Har.

I can live with POLLER. One who POLLS. The weird one up there is RSS. Blog feed inits. could be ROO. 😁

When the 15th letter of the alphabet slaps one? O HITS YOU

On that note... BYE.

Three F's

Made in Japan 9:18 AM  

I think CUTTING THE CARDS is a more commonly used term than "cutting the decks", the reason being that most card games use only one deck so the term would be "cut the deck". "Cut the decks" sounds odd to me... but then again I don't play a lot of blackjack.

Nancy 9:18 AM  

To repeat what was said at the top of the comments: I've never heard of an OPEN NOTE TEST, only an OPEN BOOK TEST.

I found this harder than most Tuesdays -- and I also didn't get the theme at all. I was wondering what THE LAST PICTURE SHOW had to do with cards (answer: nothing); what OPEN NOTE TESTS had to do with cards (answer: nothing); etc., etc.

My mind can be too literal, I suppose. But I didn't think to take the "cards" out of context.

Didn't matter. I solved as a themeless and I enjoyed the puzzle. For anyone who never saw THE LAST PICTURE SHOW: It's a really terrific film that you should try to watch.

Anonymous 9:30 AM  

Picture cards are another name for face cards, e.g. jacks, queens and kings.

Tom T 9:40 AM  

PASO/ESSIE/XEDIN required some "cleanup on aisles 30, 34, & 38" before the Happy Music played, so one of those dnf's that doesn't end a streak for the online solver.

Total agreement on the inclusion of POLLER, even if it is, in fact, a "real" word.

Tried to find a 15 letter phrase with FLASH in the middle (JUST A FLASH IN THE PAN is 18), but no luck. Flash would be better than PICTURE, imho.

Anonymous 9:45 AM  

Agree with Rex et al on poller. Cutting the cards is used far more than cutting the deck, however. In fact I’ve never heard anyone say cutting the deck. I’ve been a regular poker, cribbage, hearts, spades, clubs, gin, euchre, and blackjack player since I was 5 (I’m 71 now) and I’ve lived in 11 states and two countries and I’ve only heard cut the cards - not cut the deck. So thumbs up on pollster over poller and thumbs down on deck over cards.

Anonymous 9:53 AM  

The picture cards are the jack, queen, and king.

Anonymous 9:54 AM  

The theme IDEA is fine, execution... If you wanted it to be cards and not deck why oh why would you pick the one game known most for having multiple decks instead of I don't know any other card game? Poker?

Maybe I'm too young, but picture and dance are certainly not cards I've ever thought of even if I can recall hearing them.

Otherwise not bad, had to punch in paSo/EsSie in the end, but a fine Tuesday.

Nancy 10:06 AM  

@Harry (4:01 a.m.) -- That's what you call "pithy"??

Anonymous 10:09 AM  

I’d like to second that EXEDIN was lame

Anonymous 10:11 AM  

Me too

Anonymous 10:17 AM  

I’m 36 and have no idea what a dance card is. This theme was confusing.

What is with all the French in these crosswords? I love languages but it just strikes me odd.

lodsf 10:32 AM  

Nice view … and … happy birthday!

Much to like about the puzzle but must admit I tried to but didn’t see the theme until pointed out. I “blame” that on the fact that the first themer was (almost) completely unknown to me — once it was explained I kinda remember hearing ‘picture card’ for face card. ‘Dance card’ is certainly still in the language (metaphorically) but actual dance cards are arcane. For that matter aren’t ‘note cards’ now arcane? I remember using note cards to study but that was a loooong time ago. And just never saw ‘credit card’ or ‘gift card’ (those things one gets that sit in the drawer & often never get used - must be a boon for the retailers but I digress…).

But once explained I loved seeing the theme. :)

GILL I. 10:33 AM  

Upon final reflexion, I thought that just maybe the unwanted Tuesday stepchild had started becoming smarter and well behaved. This puzzle had lots of smarts in it. It wasn't the usual breeze; thinking was involved, and spelling lessons needed to be heeded. It was fun to solve.
My favorite answer was ASH. A "chimenea" is Spanish for our chimney. Perhaps the clue should mentioned Spanish? Aye dios mio.
CUTTING THE CARDS flowing down the middle intersecting a CARD for any occasion. I thought that was primo.
I'll show my ignorance here and say I didn't know BLITHE. I've seen the word in the wild but had no idea what it means. I wouldn't even know how to use it in a sentence. I'm careless all the time...Would you yell out "There goes the queen of BLITHE?" Actually, I wouldn't mind that title.
Fun Tuesday.

td 10:34 AM  

I've played a fair bit of poker and say cutting the cards is okay. In fact I think one would say "cut the cards" over "cut the deck" at the table. "Hey, you forgot to cut the deck" would be odd. Agree on "picture card" though. If someone had a card with a picture on it and said "What a delightful picture card" I would think oh, I didn't know that was a common designation. Didn't slow the solve though. Didn't stop to understand what the theme was until I was done.

Joe Dipinto 10:35 AM  

All of the ladies attending the ball
Are requested to gaze
In the faces found on the dance cards

Jeff Chen observes that M-W defines "picture card" as the British term for a face card, i.e. jack, queen or king. If so, it's kind of cheating to use an actual card from a deck in a theme entry.

Joseph Michael 10:47 AM  

It’s deck not cards, ollster not oller, and book not note, but it was a good theme anyway and a fun puzzle to solve. And while CUTTING THE CARDS, you can also have a WILD TIME CALLING TRUMP GREEN.

Diego 10:49 AM  

Same as @Nancy 9:18, couldn’t figure out the theme till I came here; OFL fixed that, but he’s wrong about the cards since most of us cut them. Like Nancy and others, enjoyed this one, thumbs up for Brandes who focuses mainly on words, not architecture and gimmicks, at least in this example. I found it fresher and crunchier than most Tuesday offerings and hurrah for that. I also second Nancy’s endorsement of The Last Picture Show, a great American movie.

Anonymous 11:11 AM  

My mother kept a dance card from shortly after she met my father. His name is written in about every third dance, and the last. I think the man approached the girl at the beginning of the evening to ask if he could write his name in for a dance. Or six.

egsforbreakfast 11:11 AM  

As some of our Tarot-savvy commenters have probably already noted, 43A contains two types of card. The MOON Card and the DANCE card. Yet only one is cut by the revealer. Similarly, there seems to be something called a (55A) BRIDAL card. Google it.

Being a Warriors fan, I appreciate that STEPH crosses TITLE.

Arise thou sun, and let the night be day
For then I’ll clean mine ass, upon yon new bidet
Oh what a way to start my (49D) BDAY

This puzzle didn’t present much of a solving challenge, but the theme was clever and must have resulted in some huge difficulties in filling the rest. So, compliments and thanks, Wendy L. Brandes.

mathgent 11:21 AM  

I liked it. It wasn't hard and I solved it without using the theme. Now that I think about it, knowing the theme wouldn't have helped. After solving, I saw the revealer cutting through the different cards. Sweet touch.

Many of us seem proud of knowing that "pollster" is more commonly used than POLLER. Some even think that it is wrong or at least a major flaw. Allow me to politely recommend that they review Joaquin's Dictum.

Mary McCarty 11:21 AM  

Read 11D as “chimera” and wondered if they mean “phoenix”, but chimeras breathed fire, so it’s all good.
@Gill I: since the answer for 11D is in English, no reference to Spanish is required, but isn’t that breaking the “rules”? Doesn’t a foreign language reference in the clue denote a foreign language answer? Or maybe CHIMINEA is considered an English word now, just as “jasmine” & “julep” are? Call in the referees!
Seeing KING in 50A had me looking for suits instead of types of cards, but that didn’t last long (especially since the KING wasn’t cut by the revealer.)

Beezer 11:23 AM  

Like @Nancy, I enjoyed the puzzle as a themeless but really didn’t feel like sussing out the CUTTINGTHECARDS theme. I WILL say that THAT had to do with never having heard the term PICTURE card, and @anonymous 9:30 is right that it means face cards in a card deck. I googled picture card and had to scroll down, down, down past greeting cards, including photo greeting cards before I got to a Merriam-Webster entry that basically said it was British. Ah well, you learn something every day.

@Joaquin also brought up the fact that POLLER is technically correct but unlike pollster, it has alternate meanings. Still, I doubt whether anyone with DNF due to THAT.

I THINK I tend to use the term CUTTINGTHECARDS but seems like I’ve heard deck also. The fact that the ING was added on bothered me not.

Also, hand up for never hearing the term OPENNOTETEST. I will say that profs who gave open book tests typically allowed you to look at your class and study notes as part of that.

Son Volt 11:27 AM  

@Nancy 9:18a - a wonderful film. Written by the late, great Larry McMurtry.

Anonymous 11:27 AM  

Yes. I can’t believe nobody else knew this. Perhaps they never sat at a blackjack table.

Carola 11:37 AM  

I liked the puzzle just fine while solving it and like it even more now after the comments pointing out the theme density and the creativity and skill required to run CUTTING THE CARDS through the five examples. Even though I had the reveal right from the top, I didn't understand the theme until I'd gotten all the way down to CREDIT; back at the start, I hadn't understood what PICTURE had to do with CARDS and then, I guess, forgot about it - until CREDIT bonked me on the head. Loved going back and discovering the DANCE CARD.

Apart from the theme: Easy, except for that X, which required an alphabet run; do-over of shame: "adverb" before BLITHE; 30 years of teaching flash before my eyes: TESTS followed by GRADED.

RAD2626 11:40 AM  

Cute concept. Well done. Having played a fair amount of both blackjack and other card games of chance, I think “cut the deck” and “cut the cards” as well as “face cards” and “picture cards” can be used Interchangeably and so are fair usages. POLLER I agree is a little sketchy, but sounds okay in the sentence “Given all the wild accusations flying in all directions, it was good of Matilda to volunteer as an exit poller this month.”

Alice Pollard 11:49 AM  

ESSIE/PASO crossing was a bear. Had ANnA before ANYA. great actress, I should learn her name

jberg 12:11 PM  

Never got the theme, kind of embarrassed about that -- but I enjoyed the puzzle.

I agree with @Joe diPinto that equating PICTURE cards with face cards would be a fault; but there are other kinds of picture cards. Once I knew what the theme was, I thought of flash cards used in learning a language.

I grew up in Wisconsin, so it was fine, but Fond du LAC seems pretty obscure if you're not from around there. No one's complaining, though, so maybe it's better known than I thought. Fun fact: it's at the fond (bottom) of the lake only if you are thinking about a north-oriented map; hydrologically, it's at the top, since Lake Winnebago drains out of its North end. Always confused me as a youth.

Gary Jugert 12:15 PM  

It's usually a Q or Z, you know, the rock stars of letters, but occasionally O HITS YOU.

XIANG/XEDIN exed me out this morning.

I was reading the Wikipedia page on Lucian earlier today and I fell in love with him. They say the only thing they know about him is from his own writing and it's difficult to tell what's true because he's so sarcastic. My kinda guy.

I've been taking music classes over at the university and none of it is OPEN NOTE TESTS, so being an old man with a slow brain means an extra measure of failure each time. They're making sure I don't aspire to join the New York Philharmonic.


1 Vote for smooth talker.
2 The moment she says, "I do," after which she's just a wife.
3 Curry emulating Jackson.
4 That unfortunate "conversation" between spouses when one would like to go to her mother's, and the other would like to watch Battle Bots.


Seth 12:27 PM  

Dear Will Shortz,

How about no more French in the NYT crossword until we can figure out what the hell is going on.


Pete 12:27 PM  

Well, Google is no help in resolving the great CUTTHEDECK vs CUTTHECARDS controversy of today - searching "cut the deck" pulls 1.8M hits, "cut the cards" pulls 1.25M hits. Ngrams however, has "cut the cards" beating "cut the deck" by a little over 10%.

In my never ending quest to find the middle ground upon which we all can agree, I would suggest that we all, on occasion, CUTTHECHEESE.

old timer 12:32 PM  

PASO was easy. ESSIE was not, and I needed every cross.

BLITHE was a very common adjective in the Northeast of England, if you are a fan of Tyneside and Northumbrian folk songs, and I was, to the point of making pilgrimages to Newcastle to hear the High Level Ranters at their home pub. And Newcastle is a lovely "toon",

It is written in stone that in any game involving serious money, the last CUT of the CARDS is performed by one of the suckers -- I mean, players. If you play poker at home, often only the dealer CUTs, but CUT he must.

Glad to see others have come up with explanations for all the other things that seemed odd, including "picture cards", which I too first heard in England. And yes, someone doing a POLL is a pollster, but someone who votes, or someone who asks voters whom they voted for as they leave the booth, is a POLLER. I think the distinction is, pollsters hire POLLERS to ask the questions that form the basis for a POLL.

Joe Dipinto 12:51 PM  

@jberg – Fond du LAC was an immediate gimme. (But then, I was an atlas geek as a kid.)

Anonymous 1:01 PM  

Agree. These are two different things. Unlike “pollers”, “open note tests” are are thing.

Anoa Bob 1:25 PM  

Another prime example of themer bloat if yous ask me. When I clicked 17 Across, half the dang grid lit up in in a pastel peach-like color. Most distracting. Five themers, two of them grid spanners, and a grid spanning revealer meant that not only would surrounding fill take a backseat to the theme, it might not even get a ride at all.

This is another puzzle that I think would have worked better in a different format or venue. For it to work smoothly in a crossword grid, I definitely think that this is a case of "less is more". Maybe just the three, stuck-the-landing themers---I nominate GIFT, DANCE and CREDIT)---or at most four. I also nominate OPEN NOTE TEST as one to get cut. For this 30+ year veteran of the chalk and talk trade, OPEN BOOK TEST would be the go to phrase. And either way, it's a 12 letter phrase in a 13 letter slot. (See how easy and convenient that fix is?)

Looks like a couple of opportunities to up grade clues were missed. The rock group EAGLES had a big hit with their (5D) LYIN' Eyes about a woman who marries "A rich old man...with hands as cold as ice". And there's a 2020 film (49A) BLITHE Spirit based upon the 1941 play of the same name by Noël Coward.

Home Depot sells a "chimenea" similar to the one pictured in OFL's post.

Maybe I have a touch of dyslexia. Every time I look at 14 Across, I see OH SHIT IT'S YOU! Or it could be I just NEED A NAP.

Anonymous 1:41 PM  

Me too. In fact we had more “open notes” than “open books”. Extra incentive to actually pay attention and actually take notes during lectures.

egsforbreakfast 1:57 PM  

One sampling public opinion naked: POLLER bare.

Anonymous 1:58 PM  

PASO/ESSIE is an ugly, non-inferable crossing. I sont enjoy running out the alphabet. Yuck. XEDIN is also gross.

Masked and Anonymous 2:01 PM  

Cuttin CARDS is fine. POLLER did not make it to the Official M&A Help Desk Dictionary, at all.
The 7-D revealer is kinda CROSSING the cards, more than CUTTING them, but it's still a cute notion for a theme mcguffin, and I can live with that fine.

fave cut card: DANE. cuz that still makes sense, after you cut the C.

staff weeject pick: SIN. cuz it's always good to cut the SIN out.

Thanxedin, Ms. Brandes darlin, you clever crossword card you. A real xiang-er of a TuesPuz.

p.s. Great view, @RP! Happy vacay, dude.

Masked & Anonymo5Us


Joe Dipinto 2:27 PM  

I think of a pollster more as an organization or entity that sponsors a poll, hires personnel to conduct the poll, tabulates the data afterward and reports the results. Someone who is, say, canvassing a neighborhood to ask the questions on behalf of a pollster would be a POLLER.

There. I've decided on that distinction, and that's how it shall be.

Anonymous 2:27 PM  

As a kid, on rainy days in the summer, we always played cards. We would cut the cards and Jack Queen and King were always picture cards, never face cards.

Doug Garr 2:50 PM  

As soon as I filled in POLLER, which was like right away, I knew I would hate this puzzle. Um, it's POLLSTER, of course, and though Poller is a word, nobody ever uses it, even the pollster's I know. Hate this puzzle even more than Rex did? Wow. That's an achievement.

Anonymous 2:53 PM  

(aka face cards)

Sam Ross 2:55 PM  

PASO/ESSIE crossing is yucky

Anonymous 3:04 PM  

Abstract expressionist asking about political choices: Jackson POLLER

SouthsideJohnny 3:13 PM  

@Anoa - you nailed my sentiments exactly. It seems like half the people who post here frequently don’t even bother trying to discern the kludged up themes and just wait for Rex to explain it. There’s so little payoff or wow-factor in many of the themes that it’s just a shame to tank the grid with junky fill day in and day out. Must be a royal pain to construct these monsters as well. I guess Shortz must think they add value, so there is some merit in being king, even if he drags the NYT puzzle down to mediocrity (it may be there already).

Anonymous 3:20 PM  

Joe you made my point and were succincter

OhioGabe 3:23 PM  

I have a political science degree. We hire pollsters. If I said "poller" in my office, people would think I'm an idiot. It's not a word.

Anonymous 3:25 PM  

Thank you. Me too

Pdxrains 3:29 PM  

OMG this was a brutal Tuesday. I'm a guy so never heard of ESSIE. XEDIN is awful awful awful. Never heard of the movie or the van Morrison song. Then there's obscure vocab clues like Garret... Jeebus .

Beezer 5:17 PM  

Well. It’s okay that no one read my post a few or several days ago with respect to nail polish. I get it it…I’m not BLUE! Okay folks. For whatever reason, please remember OPI and ESSIE as anything that MIGHT relate to fingernails (or toenails for that matter) seems to be recurring now as an xword answer. I personally “paint” my own nails and toes (when “necessary”) BUT OPI and ESSIE are used at “nail salons.” They are also sold in drug stores for wimmin like me who can’t stand to waste the time having a “mani OR pedi” done. Snoozola and waste of money in my mind.

Okay. Our beloved @Z used to occasionally “harp” on this. This is NOT a criticism. For whatever reason, this blog treats phones and computers/and some tablets differently which is why (I know it seems weird) that we use the @ designation in posts. In other words, if you hit “reply” on your phone…many people won’t know WHO or WHAT you are replying to. Anyhoo. Like I said…not a criticism, just a fact.

Thracymachus 6:04 PM  

Cutting the cards…no problem at all. Picture cards and dance cards? Out of touch.

Anonymous 6:55 PM  
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous 7:00 PM  

I live outside Longmont honored to have Rex in the hood!

GILL I. 7:05 PM  

@Mary McCarty 11:21. I'm guessing the CHIMINEA is probably now English!. Doesn't everything?
We're off for our Thanksgiving feast...We're having (get this) Japanese Sushi and Sashimi. I know it sounds blasphemous but no one in our family really likes turkey or ham. If we can't have a Cuban feast: Morros y Cristianos, roast suckling pig, yuca al mojo, platanos verde y maduro and flan for dessert, we opt for Japanese with some good Sake...
Be safe; have fun and eat tons. see you after Thanksgiving....

dgd 7:44 PM  

At least for me place names like that one stick in my head so I have known the NAME since I was a child but have no clue about the PLACE.

dgd 7:57 PM  

I never complain because I don't cook but I do not particularly like turkey. I do not think it blasphemous to not have turkey at Thanksgiving It is a wonderful idea.. People seem to great lengths to make turkey palatable. Why?

Anonymous 10:31 PM  

I'm usually pretty positive on most crosswords, but this one felt very awkwardly clued with a lot of forced or extremely uncommon words and phrases as answers. The theme idea is fine.

Anonymous 11:06 PM  
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
LesleyB 11:36 PM  

Had decks in there and it screwed entire solve. Poller - can’t even type it in this comment box, it autocorrects to Polled. Awful, made-up word, poller

Anonymous 6:15 AM  

Me too! But googling "fleur de l" just now brings up the LIS spelling, so... I guess we both like the alternate spelling better. :)

Joe Welling 8:45 AM  

I teach at a law school, and there are still OPEN NOTES test, and open internet test, etc.

Joe Welling 8:47 AM  

I teach at a law school, and there are still OPEN NOTES tests, and open internet tests, and a handful of other variants, including the "closed" counterparts of each one, up to "closed everything."

TTrimble 1:40 PM  

Yeah, but it's not "Open Notes Test", which is indeed a thing, but OPEN NOTE TESTS, which is ridiculous. Who says "open note test"?

thefogman 10:49 AM  

At first, I too was of the opinion that it should be CUTHEdeck, but then I remembered this scene…

That’s all folks!

thefogman 11:05 AM  

PS - At first, I was also of the opinion that PICTURE cards were not a thing. Until I thought of the Jacks, Queens and Kings in a deck of playing cards. All in all a very-well executed thene by a relatively new constructor. Bravo to Wendy L. Brandes.

spacecraft 11:36 AM  

Bad guy: I'll bet you $100 I can cut the ace of spades out of this deck.
Maverick: You're on.
B.G. (whips out a machete and slashes the entire deck in half): You lose.
M. (pulls ace of spades from his shirt pocket): No, I win.

Ah, those were the days. Actually, the dealer does NOT cut the cards. [S]he offers them to a player, who inserts the red cut card. Only if all players at the table refuse the cut will the dealer perform this action, calling out "Dealer cut!" to the pit boss.

Fun, clever theme, though I don't know "OPENNOTETESTS." Book, yeah; note, no. I'm told it's a thing...whatever.

I agree that XIANG is a tad beyond Tuesday, but my major pain here is the horrid XEDIN. This intersection needs to be torn out and redone, and forget about the damn X. ESSIE was also unknown, but crosses were fair. Theme material takes up much of the grid, so some fill latitude, such as POLLER sans the -ST-, must be granted.

I was impressed by the openness of it, with nice roomy corners. No area felt hemmed in; only 70 words. Birdie.

Wordle par after three straight BBBBG guesses.

Burma Shave 2:34 PM  




rondo 5:56 PM  

Lotsa language stuff to know. Also lotsa threes, 20 ORSO.
Wordle par.

Anonymous 3:51 PM  

I couldn't remember what a chimenea was, for the life of me, until I saw the picture Rex posted. Then it hit me. They were all the rage for a short time, around 30 years ago, during the house building boom. You put it on your patio, or in your back yard. They were out front in all the hardware stores and megamarts.

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