Food item, quaintly / WED 7-10-24 / Device identifier, in computing / Tuscan red wines / Three-week bike race / Literature Nobelist born in French Algeria / Hard patterns to break / Box filled with bags / Prez's proxy

Wednesday, July 10, 2024

Constructor: Hal Moore

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: Tour de France? I think? — Bunch of bicycle race terms, as well as a couple of mountain ranges (on diagonals, in circled squares), which appear to be related to the Tour de France. I guess it's a long race up mountains, and so it's grueling, and so that's why the (punny) revealer is VICIOUS CYCLES (40A: Hard patterns to break ... or a punny description of the climbs up the circled letters):

Theme answers:
  • TIME TRIAL (8D: Segment of this puzzle's race)
  • CHAMPS-ELYSÉES (16D: Typical ending point for this puzzle's race)
  • GRAND TOUR (48A: Three-week bike race, such as the one featured in this puzzle)
Mountain ranges:
  • ALPS 
Word of the Day:
IP ADDRESS (3D: Device identifier, in computing) —

An Internet Protocol address (IP address) is a numerical label such as that is assigned to a device connected to a computer network that uses the Internet Protocol for communication. IP addresses serve two main functions: network interface identification, and location addressing.

Internet Protocol version 4 (IPv4) defines an IP address as a 32-bit number. However, because of the growth of the Internet and the depletion of available IPv4 addresses, a new version of IP (IPv6), using 128 bits for the IP address, was standardized in 1998. IPv6 deployment has been ongoing since the mid-2000s. [...] The IP address space is managed globally by the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA), and by five regional Internet registries(RIRs) responsible in their designated territories for assignment to local Internet registries, such as Internet service providers (ISPs), and other end users. IPv4 addresses were distributed by IANA to the RIRs in blocks of approximately 16.8 million addresses each, but have been exhausted at the IANA level since 2011. Only one of the RIRs still has a supply for local assignments in Africa. Some IPv4 addresses are reserved for private networks and are not globally unique.

Network administrators assign an IP address to each device connected to a network. Such assignments may be on a static (fixed or permanent) or dynamic basis, depending on network practices and software features. Some jurisdictions consider IP addresses to be personal data. (wikipedia)

• • •

[Best Director, Cannes 2024: Miguel GOMES
If it's not TOUR DE FRANCE, then I really don't know what we're talking about, cycling-wise. TIME TRIAL? Did not know that a "trial" was just a leg of the race. GRAND TOUR? That's something young rich guys take through Europe in order to become "cultured" or whatever. A longish European voyage. See the great art and architecture, etc. It was a thing. A "finishing school for young aristocrats." I associate it with Henry James, for some reason. But a cycling term? I mean, if you say so, OK, but it's bizarre not to have the words "DE" or "FRANCE" in this puzzle, and to have the revealer, instead, be this punny whatever it is. The theme answers feel arbitrary. That is, they seem like a random bunch of Tour de France-related terms, but they appear to be picked solely because they would fit symmetrically in this grid. It's not a tight set. And the mountains, yeesh. The problem here is location and proportion, which is to say, those ranges are neither oriented toward one another that way on a map (unless the Alps moved to the NW of the Pyrenees and I didn't hear about it), nor do they appear to scale in this grid (last I checked, the Alps were the much bigger range). The mountain ranges do convey ... slope, I'll give them that. But all in all this feels like a first draft, a valiant attempt to get a concept down on paper, but with none of the kinks worked out. It's trying to do a lot, but it's a mess. 

The pun also didn't quite land for me. Are "bike rides" called "cycles" in bike jargon? "That was a good cycle today, team!" This puzzle is asking me to know cycling terminology that ... well, as I say, I know the term TOUR DE FRANCE, and after that, my cycling vocabulary gets very wobbly. Yellow jersey, that's a thing, right? Palme d'Or? No, that's Cannes. Oh well. I'm sure cycling enthusiasts felt seen, and that's nice for them.  There were some high points (!) in this puzzle's fill, specifically STEP CLASS, SAT SHIVA, and Cloris LEACHMAN (34D: Cloris ___, Emmy-winning actress on "The Mary Tyler Moore Show"), who is the best. Just the best. In everything she ever did. From the opening scenes of Kiss Me, Deadly (1955!) to her Academy Award-winning performance in The Last Picture Show, to Mary Tyler Moore, she was never not great. Underrated, undercelebrated, legitimately great. Eight Emmys! Eight! With 22 nominations! Those are Julia Louis-Dreyfus numbers! I think I showed this clip from MTM before, but I don't care; her total commitment to this totally non-plot-related performance, all while Mary and Rhoda are half-ignoring her and half-looking-at-her-like-she's-nuts... it floored me. I have watched it too many times to count.

There's also this (her line readings, her gestures, every little thing, right on the money):

But after LEACHMAN and a few other answers, the fill quality drops off, sometimes precipitously. I've got two sections of my print-out that are particularly ink-covered today. The first is EELED ADE NED. Actually, ADE and NED are pretty innocent, but when you hang out with a (very) bad element like EELED, well, you're bound to be implicated. EELED! In the olden days, you used to have to be familiar with so much eel terminology. I know way more eel vocabulary than I do Tour de France vocabulary. Did you know that you catch eels in an EELPOT and that eeling is also referred to as "sniggling"!? If you solved puzzles before, say, 2010, then you definitely do know those things. EEL(S) EELING EELER(S) EELED EELPOT ... it's all redolent of ... a time. Bygone. Yore. (This article on glass eel fishing in Maine appeared in The New Yorker just last month and is actually pretty fascinating ...  though I don't think you'll find "EELED" or "EELPOT" or "sniggling" anywhere in it)

Hey, are EELS considered a VIAND? (40D: Food item, quaintly) (Segue!). Because I like EELED and VIAND about the same amount (i.e. naught, no amount, none). Also TINA'S in the ... possessive? ... not familiar to me (46A: "Tony n' ___ Wedding" (Off Broadway hit)). This is the same area of the puzzle with VICIOUS and GRAND, both theme answer parts that were not intuitive to me at all (CYCLES and TOUR, sure, those made sense, but the words that came before them, ????). And then running through (and near) alllll that, the VIAND and Tina and the front ends of the themers, was TEA CADDY (32D: Box filled with bags). Sigh. TEA CADDY. It's a thing, I know, but you know what else is a thing, a thing that is also much more "box"-like than a "CADDY"? A damned TEA CHEST, that's what! CHEST, also five letters, also starts with "C," bah humbug to CADDY. So anyway .... yeah, that section was a combination of ugly and difficult. As for the rest of the puzzle—besides the theme, I don't really remember it. See you next time.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld 

P.S. best error of the day was my complete misparsing of the answer at 3D: Device identifier, in computing. I had IPAD up front and assumed that I was looking for some kind of IPAD equivalent to the "Find My iPhone" app. And then I ended up with an IPAD [space] DRESS and wondered if maybe people were "dressing" their IPADs (!?) and that's how they "identified" them??? Anyway, the IPAD DRESS—there's a money-making idea for some enterprising soul. You're welcome. 

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Anonymous 5:46 AM  

I'm an avid cycling fan and this puzzle kicked my Alps. Cycling knowledge is useless when you've got no clue how to spell Pyrenees or Champs Elysees without autocheck. What a weird selection of cycling terms to include in the theme...

Anonymous 6:07 AM  

Raving about the greatness of Cloris Leachman and not mentioning Frau Blucher is inexcusable.

Andy Freude 6:08 AM  

Also “The Last Picture Show.” Another great Cloris Leachman performance.

Son Volt 6:08 AM  

So now we’re getting bike race themes? EELED and VIAND are bad no doubt but so are the plurals - CHIANTIS and the CYCLES themer.

Keep the circles out my puzzle.


Dan H 6:15 AM  

Bah, humbug! I thought this was great fun and appreciated the cycling/tour theme. The sloped alps and Pyrenees were clever. I’ll give you that they are not geographically placed, but really Rex, the larger alps can’t help having a shorter name. Ride on!

SouthsideJohnny 6:48 AM  

VICIOUS CYCLES and the circled mountains were the highlights. The rest of the tour-de-France quasi trivia felt forced and overall kept the puzzle at the “meh” level. VIAND, LIBRO and SCUSI were the lowlights. Not terrible, just not a lot of there there.

Anonymous 7:01 AM  

Raising Hope! CL and Martha Plimton!

EasyEd 7:09 AM  

I was a big fan of the Tour de France until the Lance Armstrong scandal broke. But I remembered enough of the jargon and locations to EKE through this puzzle. Maybe I’ll become a fan again…

Wanderlust 7:11 AM  

I wish my favorite Tour de France term were in this: domestique, a rider who assists the team’s leader with no prospects of winning himself. I envision him also doing the team leader’s laundry and dusting his trophies.

Thanks for the Chloris LEACHMAN clips, Rex. I agree she was amazing, as was really everyone on that show. Have you ever seen her performance at the roast of Bob Saget? She is so delightfully profane. She ends up roasting everyone there. “I have vibrators older than most of you. The difference is mine still work.” Sorry I don’t know how to post a link but google it.

Anyone else end up with SHIEzT? I was sure it was SCUzI. The yoga place near my house is named PAST TENSE. Clever, though probably not original.

Anonymous 7:18 AM  

Flat out hated this Wednesday.


kitshef 7:25 AM  

Well, it's weird to run this puzzle this year, of all years, as this year the Tour de France - going on right now - is not ending at the Champs Elysees, or in Paris at all, but in Nice. The clue is still accurate, as it says 'typical' ending point, but the timing seems odd.

With a theme based on a famous race, and with HARE in the grid at 23D, I kept waiting for 'tortoise' to appear.

I really liked the funky grid.

Cloris Leachman was on Dancing with the Stars in her 80s.

Conrad 7:26 AM  

I liked the puzzle a little better than OFL did, but I agree that the theme didn't land. Overall fairly easy if you ignored the theme. My only hangup was misreading the 8A clue as "Banking abbr." instead of Baking. That led to a brief interval with atm in the space.

At 23D I thought the genus member might be a wolf, but no that's Lupus.

Only WOES were SIMU Liu at 19D and the band SLADE at 33A.

@Anon 6:07: "Neigh!"

David Grenier 7:37 AM  

Lucky for me I’ve been listening to the Pomplamoose remake of the French pop song CHAMPS ELYSSEE (bah da bah da da) a lot lately so that answer was easy with a few crosses (didn’t know the tour ended there but know it’s a famous Paris street and know how to spell it).

Lewis 7:39 AM  

What a novel take on the Tribute Puzzle!

Usually, tribute puzzles feature a dry set of theme answers related to the subject – acrosses and/or downs – and the revealer is the subject of the tribute. The symmetry is the normal rotational symmetry, because the focus is not on the puzzle’s design, but rather on the subject of the tribute.

But looky here. The subject of today’s tribute puzzle – the Tour De France -- isn’t even in the grid! The theme answers include diagonals going up! The symmetry is diagonal (as if the puzzle is folded on a line going from the NW to SE corner)!

And it works! Those diagonal answers in the circles climb like the cyclists scaling the mountains. The diagonal symmetry subtly gives that climbing feeling as well. And how brilliant to leave TOUR DE FRANCE out of the grid? We all know that’s what this puzzle is about, why waste the space? We learn in writing class that suggesting rather than telling is more effective, and I found it marvelous in this puzzle.

So, bravo on this creative tribute puzzle, pushing the envelope. Bravo on including two answers that I can’t believe haven’t appeared in the Times puzzle in its 80 years – the iconic CHAMPS-ÉLYSÉES, and the acting great Cloris LEACHMAN. And bravo on some crackling cluing, such as [How to become a whole new hue] for DYE – Hah!

Big thumbs up, Hal, for this witty and filled-with-spark offering, fun and satisfying to complete, and out there in the very best way. Thank you so much for this!

Anonymous 7:43 AM  

I firmly believe that you can split all of humanity into two groups. Those who know how to correctly respond to ”Frau Blucher” - And those who don’t.

Anonymous 7:45 AM  

I vaguely remembered the GRAND TOUR being what @Rex described in the write-up. Also, hand up for the IPAD-something parsing error at 3D (Amy also mentioned it on Diary of a Crossword Fiend, so I feel like a lot of solvers had the same experience)

As a non-American I had no idea about either "hoosegow" or SLAMMER, I had to look that up after the solve. HOOSEGOW would make for a good themeless entry if crossed fairly. Also it spoonerizes to GOOSE, HOW?

Also as a non-American, I tried WARM first at 21D. Turns out that 90°F = 32°C which is solidly in "hot" weather territory.

Anonymous 7:46 AM  

Briefly felt my age when choosing LUCY liu over the likely more contemporary SIMU. SHIEST continues to look like a mistake to me. Broadly enjoyed this one, even if the theme is a little forced

Dr.A 7:58 AM  

I mean, TEA CADDY is definitely a thing, but yeah the rest, not really sure what they were trying to do. My husband is a big cycle and I have never heard the Tour de France (which he actually watches on TV) called The GRAND TOUR. Weird.

pabloinnh 7:59 AM  

After APS and PYRENEES and TIMETRIAL, it was pretty clear we were talking about the Tour de France, which made CHAMPRSELYSEES a gimme, although the spelling required a n erasure or two. I think this event is famous enough to deserve a theme, but maybe that's just me.

I'm sure I've seen SIMU before, but never remember . the name. Nice to hear about Tony and TINA's wedding, I didn't even know they were dating. I'm with @Wanderlust in wanting a Z, but I also wanted a Y in SHIEST, which looks like a dirty German word to me. Also, the clue "wound stinger" made zero sense, but I guess SALT fits that description. I think I'll start saying "Hey, pass me the wound stinger" and see what happens.

OK Wednesday by me, HM. Hardly Made me break a sweat, unlike the cyclistes, but a pleasant enough morning ride, and thanks for all the fun.

Benbini 8:02 AM  

Never heard of Cloris LEACHMAN nor SLADE so that was a very troublesome Natick, particularly since ALE works just as well as ADE for "summer refresher". Also spent a long time trying to fix NEAP, not realizing it was actually a word.

Bernie 8:08 AM  

I had no idea the Quiet Riot version of Cum on Feel the Noize was a cover! Fun!!!

pabloinnh 8:14 AM  

Was just reading yesterday's late ppsts about folks whose comments are missed and I wanted to add @Joaquin, who usually found some humor in a puzzle or its commentary. Also years ago someone wrote a semi-nasty response to an LMS comment and signed it using my name (this is before I knew about going blue). That bothered me no end and I wrote an email to LMS explaining the situation, and of course got a very gracious reply. Really miss her too.

Trina 8:16 AM  

Cloris was also a finalist (round of 18) in the Miss America pageant. Her scholarship winnings enabled her to study with Elia Kazan and I guess the rest is history. She entered the pageant having won the title of Miss Chicago. If you google pictures from this era of her life she was quite the Vamp!

And Rex please revise your write up to include a link to Frau Brucher and the horse whinny!

Druid 8:22 AM  


Druid 8:25 AM  

Chianti is from the wrong side of the Alps.

Mike in Bed-Stuy 8:27 AM  

For 34D, I would have gone with Best Supporting Actress for The Last Picture Show. Harder to fit into clue format, though.

Anonymous 8:28 AM  

“Neigh!!!” As the horses REAR UP!

Anonymous 8:33 AM  

Two more classic TV appearances by Cloris Leachman: at 80 years old, she makes out with a 30-something Jack Black in an episode of The Office; and she plays the mother to Billy Mumy, the 7 year old monster, in the famous Twilight Zone episode

Anonymous 8:39 AM  

Not only would the horses whinny at the mention of Frau Blucher—they would REAR UP!

Having a weird experience with today’s puzzle: Did not get credit for completion, but after more than 10 minutes of searching, and reviewing @RPs completed grid, simply cannot find an error. Don’t want to end my still relatively short streak, which began on July 1, with the fiscal/academic year. Anyone else have this happen?

Anonymous 8:40 AM  

Welcome back Mr. Parker. We missed you. Really. Yeah; we did. Honestly.

Neville 8:51 AM  

Just here to offer more praise for Cloris Leachman.

Diane Joan 8:54 AM  

I’d never have heard of the word “viand” if I hadn’t enjoyed some good food at “The Viand” restaurant pre-concert at the Beacon Theater. In a typical NYC moment saw Barry Mitterhoff (who was playing with “Hot Tuna” at the time) in there right before the show.

Bob Mills 8:55 AM  

Neat puzzle. Seemed easy at first, then it seemed I guess "medium" is apt for a rating. VICIOUSCYCLES isn't precisely accurate as a revealer, but close enough .I wasn't thinking in French, so CHAMPSELYSEES didn't occur to me until the last square was filled. Then the theme made perfect sense.

Add my voice to the Cloris Leachman chorus. She was worth the price of admission...whatever she was in. Clovis Leachman started out as the daughter of a stage-door mother who always encouraged her with the admonition, "Sparkle, Cloris!" That became her mantra, even as she ridiculed the phrase later on.

Smith 8:56 AM  

The Last Picture Show!!

Also, how does @Rex label this Medium when I got it done in under Mon & Tues time this week? Just whooshing all over. Forgot Slade, think I thought it was Quiet Riot, but nothing else even caused me to stop & think. Huh.

Also, re yd late posts, @Z stopped posting here because he got offended by something, but I don't remember what.

Anonymous 8:57 AM  

Natick city.

RooMonster 9:01 AM  

Hey All !
Diagonal Symmetry today. We seem to be getting more of these lately. This one corresponds to the Diagonality of the Mountain Ranges. Can you see the symmetry? Take the puz from the NE corner (Square numbered 10) and fold the puz diagonally to the SW corner (Square numbered 54), and Viola! Your Blockers will line up. There's 42 Blockers today, high.

GRAND TOUR new here. Haven't heard it referred to as that. Or is it a different race than the Tour De France?

Wanted bATSHIVA, but UbURY not a thing. Changed to the S, but didn't get the Happy Music. Being a WedsPuz, I tried to look for my mistake. Gave up and hit Check Puzzle, which ends all sorts of streaks. The "puzs in a row" streak, which wasn't many regardless, but also the "X amount of Wednesdays in a row" streak, which sat at 10. Oh well, reset. Turned out I had SCUSe/CHIANTeS, and never would've caught it. Always thought it was SCUSE. Ah, me

So a sort of VICIOUS puz today. Have to accept the puz ASIS, though it's missing a certain letter...

Happy Wednesday.

No F's

Anonymous 9:08 AM  

Nice effort, but have to agree with OFL for a change - not quite enough.

I picture this theme in a Sunday grid with numerous opportunities for geographic and cultural references to France. After all, since we just celebrated the 4th, we should tip the beret to the Frenchmen who bailed us out 250 years ago! Hope one of you gifted people can pull that off for next year.

Speaking of France, when Mbappe beat his man and got off an open shot from in the box in the last few minutes, I thought "overtime" for sure. That miss over the bar was the one that got away. Unfortunately, the narrative is now about his failure, instead of his guts for playing the whole tournament with a broken nose

Andrew Z. 9:13 AM  

I quit this puzzle around the halfway point. I figured out the bike racing theme and was looking where to put the Tour de France answer when I realized there wasn’t one. I tried to move on but using esoteric places and minutiae about your hobby is not going to go over well with anyone that doesn’t share the same passion.

Alison 9:18 AM  

Puzzle was fine, Cloris Leachman clips were sublime

Tom T 9:22 AM  

Oh, WOW! A Hidden Diagonal Word (HDW) “rare gem” in today’s puzzle! Eight letters long! And really easy to find, since each of the 8 letters had a circle around it—lol. P Y R E N E E S, So … “Diagonal, yes, but not exactly “Hidden.” But how many of you noticed that the 8 letter PYRENEES is composed of two 4-letter HDWs back-to-back? We might clue them as, “Funeral _____” and “_____ and not heard.”

PYRE (moving to the NE) and SEEN (moving to the SW) back-to-back. How cool is that! I’m sure there are other 8-letter words that accomplish that feat, but I can’t think of one. (There’s EGGSHELL for example, with EGGS & HELL, but LLEH (backwards HELL) is not a word, so it doesn’t meet the criteria.

And the HDW magic of this puzzle has more to offer beyond the PYRENEES and the ALPS. There’s a 5-letter HDW which I might clue as, “What James Dean’s character was missing in a 1955 film.” The answer is CAUSE (as in, “Rebel Without a ____”), and the Hidden Diagonal CAUSE begins with the C in the nice 6D answer, STEPCLASS.

And on top of that, the answer to 28A, IAN, is duplicated not once but twice--two Hidden Diagonal IANs! And those 2 Ian’s are walking side-by-side! See if you can find them (go ahead—it’ll take you back to childhood placemats at a local diner) in the SW quadrant. Here’s a hint: if these 2 guys were bicyclists, they might take part in the GRAND TOUR.

My HDW love tank is so full! Thank you Hal Moore!

I’ve nothing to ADD. After you move to the next post, these comments will be PAST TENSE.

Anonymous 9:27 AM  

Just as a point of information: the Tour de France is not “the” grand tour (other than in the sense of being the most famous one, and the only one with which the vast portion of humanity might be familiar), but rather “a” grand tour, of which there are (to the best of my knowledge) three. The Vuelta (de Espana), the Giro (de Italia), and the much better-known Tour de France.

Randy L 9:31 AM  

Every American trying to cram QUIET RIOT into five spaces today..

Anonymous 9:31 AM  

this was easy except viand. rex, maybe watch one stage of the tour once. your rant today make you seem sorta uncultured

Anonymous 9:33 AM  

Solved as a themeless, as I do whenever I see little circles in the grid. No, ed., I tire of these little games you like to pedal. There, I spoke my mind.

Anonymous 9:35 AM  

Well, Andrew Z, you got 3 minutes of your life back. I hope you used it wisely.

Sir Hillary 9:35 AM  

Wow, talk about a narrowcast. That is some DEEP cycling nerdness going on.

But I like it. CHAMPSELYSEES is as gorgeous as a crossword entry as it is impressive as a place (de la Concorde😊). And I have fond memories of the Tour de France going back to 1978, when I was fortunate enough to spend 3 weeks in July with my godparents, expat Americans who lived in the western suburbs of Paris. We watched a few stages in person, and to a teenage American who knew nothing about competitive cycling, it was cool to see these guys venerated as rock stars by the European fans.

As noted by others above, the CHAMPSELYSEES finish isn't happening this year due to Olympics prep. First time that has been the case since 1905. Also this year, the final stage will be a TIMETRIAL for the first time since 1989. This means that it will be competitive, as opposed to the ceremonial parade it usually is. If the race is tight going into that stage, it could be really exciting, as it was in 1989.

Anonymous 9:37 AM  

There are three grand tours. One in France, one in Spain and one in Italy. Each is 21 stages.

Nancy 9:38 AM  

Some people climb a mountain just because "it's there", so they say. That's how I felt about the puzzle. The mountains were there. They were just...there. But I didn't have to engage with them in any way in solving the puzzle. So, once again, a lot of constructor energy expended on a conceit that leaves the solver out of the process.

What on earth is IPAD DRESS??? Especially as clued.

Actually, I enjoyed the puzzle. I liked the punny revealer and the clues for PAST TENSE and SOLD. VIAND was an unexpected and colorful word. As for the circles -- they actually helped me get PAST TENSE from the P. So they were not completely without usefulness today.

James G 9:46 AM  

First time commenter here- came to say that as a big cyclist I definitely loved the theme. Got ALPS and PYRENEES right away and figured it was a mountain theme, then got TIME TRIAL and squealed “It’s a Tour de France theme!!” Texted my mom stat to make sure she does the puzzle today as she and my dad are also major cyclists.

Going for a CYCLE is definitely a thing and the Tour de France isn’t “the” GRAND TOUR but “a” GRAND TOUR, aka one of several famous multi-day cycling races. See also Vuelta a Espana and Giro d’Italia

Anonymous 9:47 AM  

Yeah, this has happened to me. But it always turns out I made a simple vowel substitution that I just couldnt see even though I compared the answer given by Rex thoroughly, or so I thought.

walrus 9:47 AM  

even as a daily viewer of the tour de france and a network programmer, i found this puzzle tedious at best. the revealer is forced. describing a ride/stage/climb as a “cycle” is not a thing. as another commenter noted, what a year to run this puzzle given the tour is finishing in Nice. the increase in computer jargon is off-putting and exclusionary.

andrew 9:49 AM  

Had the privilege of seeing Ms. LEACHMAN from a front row center seat in 1989 as she portrayed Grandma Moses in a play written specifically for her.

First act was her as a middle-aged woman - obviously very much the recognizable Cloris. Act II she transformed into the more familiar Grandma Moses. She was spectacular!

The makeup and costume were first rate, but what was extraordinary about the performance was the elderly mannerisms she so naturally portrayed. Pursing the lips, licking the teeth, the shuffle/walk - no longer Phyllis but Grandma! Being so close to the stage, thought I would see the flaws. But there were none. (Can’t find any videos of any scenes from the play, which is a shame.)

Puzzle was Wednesday fine - of course about the Tour De France (despite Rex’ faux confusion - surprised he didn’t say isn’t the GRANDTOUR a golfing thing?).

The memories of an amazing, almost one woman show (there was a male actor playing a number of roles) is just a bonus.

Anonymous 9:53 AM  

Why not continue with the French tour and use French terms for the wine, excuse me, and book?

Liveprof 10:01 AM  

@Diane Joan 8:54. Love Barry Mitterhoff! His band Silk City played at my daughter's bat-mitzvah about 25 yrs ago. Ouch.

Gary Jugert 10:02 AM  

It's been a week of reasonably tepid puzzles. For my money, bike racing is only interesting when Lance Armstrong is dominating by cheating, or when there's one guy in the audience leaning out too far and then 25 racers end up in a pile.

I've been to the Alps once and it's pretty great. I've been on les Champs-Élysées once and it's the same as an outdoor shopping mall in Peoria.

I own a TEA CADDY because I am just that fancy.

They did part of @Tom T's HDW job with those anti-@Nancy circles. That makes them CDWs I suppose.

Propers: 6
Places: 2
Products: 2
Partials: 9
Foreignisms: 4
Gary's Grid Gunk Gauge: 23 (32%)
Recipes: 0 (beta)

Funnyisms: 1 🤨

Tee-Hee: SNOT


1 Lit The Stranger afire.
2 Why I was late leaving the ristorante and why I'm now in the hoosegow.
3 Art critic.
4 Slode?
5 What the pimp did.
6 The shocking price my local gym charges for a walk up a stair.


My Fascinating Crossword Uniclue Keepsake from Last Year: Swag for a black bear. EBONY POOH GEAR.


Beezer 10:04 AM  

Seems like the majority of folks liked this puzzle and count me in as one. Gee, I had the SAME initial read of IPAD DRESS, VIAND a new word to me, loved CHAMPSELYSEES being squeezed in, and I thought the circles for ALPS/PYRENEES was a nice touch. As with others, my initial reaction to @Rex’s LEACHMAN examples was “Where is Frau Blucher”!?

Now I need to go back and look at the comments late yesterday. @Smith, @Z quit working the NYT puzzle due to an answer that I believe was UNBORNBABY. The departure had nothing to do with @Rex or the commentariat.

Tom T 10:10 AM  

As a Pacific Time Zone crossword enthusiast (Port Angeles, WA--drop by for a visit before you board the ferry to Victoria), let me add my comment to the discussion from yesterday about posting later in the day. Most days, I'm able to solve "tomorrow's" puzzle before I go to sleep. (As noted by others, we westerners can access the puzzles at 7:00 PM.) And I usually look for the Hidden Diagonal Words before bedtime and occasionally type up my comment in a Word file before I go to sleep.

I'm an early riser, around 6:00. So, it's grab the first cup of coffee, fire up the computer, and post my comment, usually sometime between 9:00 & 10:00 Eastern Time. I've been glad to know that a number of you look back at the comments late in the day to see what we "later posters" have to contribute!

Johnny Mic 10:12 AM  

Same! My worldview has been forever altered.

Carparminder01 10:12 AM  

I hated this puzzle but the whole thing was with it just to read that post script about the iPad dress

SusanA 10:22 AM  

Really liked this one. Played perfectly Tuesday for me.
Wondered about GRANDTOUR, but not really a cycle racing nerd, so thought it must be another race Ikd not heard of? Because things I haven't heard of are a common thing for me in Xwords!
I thought OFL might comment on the general reduction in rotational symmetry. I like that the new guy is exploring and trying new things.

Beezer 10:23 AM  

@Roo…I forgot to congratulate you on your book! I’ll keep my eyes out for it on Amazon.

Tom T 10:40 AM  

@ Gary Jugert: CDWs (Circled Diagonal Words)--nice call!

Kate Esq. 10:42 AM  

I found this one very easy (hit around my Monday average time) and I’m not a cycling enthusiast, but I did read a romance novel
Set during the Tour de France about fifteen years ago. Once Alps showed up, every other theme answer basically filled itself out, except for Grand Tour, and I guess the vicious part of cycles but one or two crosses made that easy because it is a phrase that’s in the language that was clued pretty straightforwardly. The rest of the puzzle really put up no fight, though I share RP’s distaste for all verbs related to catching eels.

Hack mechanic 10:50 AM  

Does anyone remember tea chests, seen one or know what they are?
It's how tea was shipped & sold way back in the days before tea bags or modern (plastic) packaging.
Sorry Rex, no one would have a tea chest it's tea caddy!

Anonymous 10:53 AM  

I spent an extra 3-5 minutes looking through my WOEs only to discover I had SCUSa instead of SCUSI. My own fault but added to my distaste for this particular puzzle.

egsforbreakfast 10:54 AM  

Did you ever wonder what became of the Sex Pistols? Well Sid, the bassist, went on to found a bike company. VICIOUSCYCLES.

Raised eyebrow at LSD as "Drug that's "dropped"". Not a phrase you often hear. I dropped LSD once with Sid Vicious. Better to clue LSD as "Mixed up Mormon?"

I would have loved to see Leachman play Ant-Man in the Marvel film.

I really liked this puzzle. Thanks, Hal Moore.

jb129 10:56 AM  

Aside from that, having never ridden a bike (never got off training wheels thanks to an over-anxious Dad 😳 I'm surprised I finished this as quickly as I did.
Thanks for the learning experience, Hal :)

kitshef 11:00 AM  

Re: the posters past discussion. Although she does pop in occasionally still, I really miss the daily postings of Barbara S.

GILL I. 11:04 AM  

Oh...I'm so glad you posted those videos of Cloris. Happy feet dance.

The puzzle? Not quite a VICIOUS CYCLE but I did a lot of huh's hither and yon. I'd forgotten what Hoosegow meant for a nano minute. Light bulb moment...It comes from the Old West when the Mexicans or Spaniards used the word "Juzgado." It means to judge or judged and the Americanos spelled it the way it sounded. Hoose go...= juzgar...Clever, no? Your lesson for the SLAMMER day.

Pauses galore. Isn't it spelled SCUZI? I'll ask the waiter as he pours the CHIANTIS that I didn't order.
SATSHIVA...Is that really you? VIAND is a quaint food item? TEA CADDY...I forgot about you. I have a blue and white Chinese porcelain one but it holds my coffee.

The Theme? Two mountains and bicyclists in France. Yes...It should've been the Tour de France and the tenth stage. "Cum On Feel the NOIZE?"

jae 11:07 AM  

Medium. No WOEs and typos were it for erasures.

Pretty smooth grid given the constraints.

Me too for the IPAD confusion.

Liked it but @Rex makes some valid points.

jberg 11:15 AM  

My initial reaction was the same as Rex's, but I never noticed the diagonal symmetry until I had to figure out why he was saying that the theme answer were symmetrical.

I filled in ALPS, saw that we were climbing mountains, so I decided to fill them all. I had the double E already, so PYRENEES was obvious, but when I looked for the next bunch of circles there wasn't any. Hmm...

Then my horse REARed, which caused no end of trouble. Then I got CHAM, and figured the winner would finish with a CHAMpagne bath as his or her teammates poured bottles of bubbly on him or her. Thank God for EELED, which sorted the whole thing for me (though I was disappointed when it turned out to be EMBER rather than ElvER).

Anyway, I think a little better of the puzzle now that I have more sense of the construction.

TinaTinaTina 11:50 AM  

Maybe some luck involved in the order I tackled this one, but it ended up being a Wednesday PR for me. Nyoooomed through it and relied on crosses a LOT.

Carola 11:54 AM  

Easy-medium for me, and I enjoyed solving it, for the unusual grid layout and especially for the l-o-n-g CHAMPS ELYSEES, for its elegance and for better reflecting the actual real estate it occupies than the two mountain ranges that some tectonic mishap has squashed into a peripheral triangle. I was fine with the Tour de France terms, as my husband and his brother are avid fans, and am also an old friend of VIAND and collect TEA CADDies. My troubles came with the unparseable (for a while) IP ADDRESS and the misspelled ELYSsee (geez, agreement!), making my fire remnant "smoke." It did seem odd to me that the constructor opted not to include TOUR DE FRANCE in the grid, instead going for a punny reveal that (for me) didn't quite nail its landing and refers only to two of the theme answers, rather than completing a GRAND TOUR of them.

@GILL I. - Thank you the "hoosegow" lore!

mathgent 11:55 AM  

For some time now, I've been scanning Rex and going right to the comments. Reading them all. Sad to say, lately Rex's stuff has been more rewarding. Aside from the six or seven commenters who consistently come through, most other posts these days are egoistic musings.

SharonAK 11:57 AM  

medium? I thought sure this would be rated easy for a Wednesday. Seemed to go as fast as a Monday for me.. I had No idea bout Slade nor Sars (altho that sounded familiar once it appeared). Many answers did not come to mind immediately but came easily through crosses.
My first thought of 16 D was Paris so Champs Elysees came from just CH ...
The pun in 55A makes me smile. And I liked seeng uphill Alps and Pyrenees.
A fun puzzle.

Whatsername 12:01 PM  

Well, I’m not into CYCLES, TIME TRIALS or any such EVENTS so the puzzle played kind of so so for me. I found it challenging in places though, as I’m certain I would the actual TOUR itself. It would be like me trying to climb Mount Everest, I seriously doubt I would ever even make it to base camp … where apparently SARGE rules.

As far as I’m concerned, Frau Blucher was one of Cloris LEACHMAN’s best roles. Someone may have already beat me to it but here she is in Young Frankenstein, 
cringing while the horses REAR UP at the sound of her name.

Ride the Reading 12:02 PM  

To see many of the bike-racing things in one stage, look up video of the final stage of the 1989 TdF. It was a time trial on the final stage. Laurent Fignon was leading Greg LeMond by 50 seconds going into the stage.

LeMond made up that time in a 25-kilometer time trial that ended on the Champs-Elysees, and won by eight seconds. Still the closest finish in TdF history.

Liked the puzzle - though I had trouble on the cobblestones of Paris-Roubaix when I read the clue for 48A as three-wheeled instead of three-week.

Rug Crazy 12:14 PM  

I hope I never see VIAND again

Masked and Anonymous 12:25 PM  

Holy CHIANTIS SCUSI LIBRO tour, Batman. This here was one real unusual WedPuz …

1. Features a puztheme that shall remain unnamed [as far as the solvequest is concerned].
2. 72-worder. Qualifies as a themeless rodeo.
3. Jaws of Themelessness. Double qualifies it, ALA item 2.
4. Bevy of no-knows [at our house] that triple qualifies it, for Fri/SatPuz levelness.
5. Mountain Slope puzsymmetry.
6. Has the circles, but just in the NW. They are nice and symmetric(al), btw.

staff weeject pick: LSD -- high in the PYRENEES.
best SUSword: VIAND. Just edged out EELED.

no-knows included: Penobscot and Passalphabet. Lepus. NED. SCUSI spellin. CAMUS. TINAS. SATSHIVA. LIBRO. GRANDTOUR. SIMU. VIAND. STEPCLASS. ?-CoV-2 virus codes.

some fave stuff: SNOT/EVENT [as with the puztheme, 's not event that gets named in the puz]. IPAD DRESS [yo, @RP]. USURY. PASTTENSE & its clue.

Thanx, re:cyclin, Mr. Moore dude. Gotta like its differentness, I reckon.

Masked & Anonymo4Us


Anonymous 12:41 PM  

Hated this one. Ridiculously hard for a Wednesday, there were a ton of words I couldn't even begin to guess. Never heard VIAND in my life, lots of proper nouns, and it was stuffed with hyperspecific biking terms I couldn't possibly know. CHAMPS ELYSEE is gibberish to me. One of the worst puzzles I've done in a while for me.

Anonymous 12:47 PM  

I’m with OFL ON IPAD DRESS. “Just one more modern thing I don’t know about…” I thought.

Anonymous 12:55 PM  


Sarah 12:55 PM  

As a 30-year-old, not a fan of the LEACHMAN / SLADE / NED Natick. I will do my homework though and watch these clips you are all raving about :)

Teedmn 1:14 PM  

I said yes to the IPAD DRESS. Really, I had a vision of a little frilly edging added to my iPad cover and never looked again at the answer to see the correct parsing. Har!

I have friends who watch the Tour de France avidly so none of these terms was unknown to me. I see Rex's point about whether CYCLES is a noun describing bike trips but at the time I filled it into the grid, I didn't bat an eye. Good thing I'm not a crossword critic.

I thought this was fun. Thanks, Hal Moore.

okanaganer 1:17 PM  

Very entertaining writeup today Rex! I used to be a big Tour de France fan, watching it every evening after work. Then it moved off of the channels I get and just faded away. ELYSEES PYRENEES SCUSI CHIANTI!

I SAT SEDER before I SAT SHIVA so obviously my Jewish knowledge is quite shallow.

@Gary J, the architecture on the Champs Elysees is pretty good so I'll have to check out that mall in Peoria, it must be pretty spectacular!

Anonymous 1:28 PM  

If it helps, the Tour de France is typically decided by two strings of days: the section through the Pyrenees and the section through the Alps. So that makes SOME sense, but then it doesn't really feel like it connects with anything else, just a little thing in the corner. There's no reveal it's just very half-baked.

Anonymous 1:43 PM  

I took my dogs to the river yesterday because when you're a dog and are chest deep in a nice flowing river you don't care that its 98 degrees with 94% humidity. That is, until you see the eel or the snake swimming around you. Then you decide it's time to go home to the AC. No EELER I, nor my dogs.

You can't make money on IPAD (oddly, because there's no significant IP there) Dresses - you can only start the fad, then every one else will do their own thing without giving you money. I have lots of these ideas, e.g. pet jewelry - Earrings for you poodles! Cat bracelets! If it ever caught on, billions would be spent on it, but no way for one person to make a million.

ChrisSaintH 1:45 PM  

Medium my alps! Toughest Wednesday in a long while.

okanaganer 2:00 PM  

According to my thermometer (in the shade, on the north side of the house), not quite 11 am yet, and it is 36 C (97 F). Glad I don't live in a hot country!

Ben 2:13 PM  

Wow, this was such a weird puzzle with a potpourri of theme-ish answers/gimmicks/jokes. I found it really hard for a Wednesday. Wouldn't mind seeing more strange stuff like this every now and then.


Anonymous 2:21 PM  

Listen to it. Way better than Quiet Riot's version.

MetroGnome 2:57 PM  


Oliver 3:01 PM  

I liked almost none of that. The theme would be fine if the themed clues weren’t so vague.

Also, VIAND? EELED? SCUSI? Come on.

Anonymous 3:19 PM  

LEACHMAN/SLADE/NED section seems pretty deadly to younger solvers. I full-on guessed and just happened to get it right, but feels like you could have easily run the alphabet on it.

Anoa Bob 3:20 PM  

I bet the reason TOUR DE FRANCE isn't in the grid, even though the puzzle is apparently a tribute to that EVENT, is that it is 12 letters and there are no 12 letter slots in the grid.

There are a couple of 13 letter slots so one possible solution would have been to bump it up to TOURS DE FRANCE (POC to the rescue!). That has already happened when the 12 letter VICIOUS CYCLE got an S boost to fit its 13 letter slot.

Speaking of which, how is a climb of any kind VICIOUS? Maybe grueling, demanding, exhausting or the like but VICIOUS? A person or animal can be VICIOUS, as in being violent, savage or fierce, but a bicycle climb? I think VICIOUS CYCLE(S) is an interesting concept but it is too much of a stretch as a "punny description" of a bicycle climb if you ask me.

And before I go, I think 14A "Like much Cajun chicken" BLACKENED is restaurant speak for burned.

Um, bye.

Anonymous 3:53 PM  

Ditto that. What a well crafted response.

SouthsideJohnny 4:14 PM  

Oh @Anoa - I don’t know if you are being tongue-in-cheek, if not, I definitely disagree with you regarding blackened chicken and its cousins (I.e. blackened steak, etc). The layer of butter combined with the extremely high temperature creates an “air barrier” which actually elevates the protein from the cooking surface just enough to let the spices toast and do their magic. It’s a beautiful cooking technique and surprisingly easy to master (be sure to do it in a scorching hot cast iron (a must) pan under an industrial strength vent hood. - or better yet using a burner on an outdoor grill).

Anoa Bob 5:06 PM  

@Southside, I was being serious. I think BLACKENED is a side effect of restaurants wanting to cook chicken, steak or fish as quickly as possible and get it out to hungry customers with minimal delay. Then restaurant-speak---BLACKENED to perfection!---puts the "lets the spices toast and do their magic" spin on the obviously burned food. If the pan or grill is "scorching hot", there's no toasting going on, things are being burned, charred, seared, etc.

What concerns me most about BLACKENED food is that exposing food to excessively high temperatures creates a witches brew of carcinogenic compounds, some of which may be contributing to the increased incidence of colorectal cancer seen in younger and younger people these days.

I'm in the low-and-slow camp, using low temperatures and cooking for long periods of time when it comes to preparing the tastiest and healthiest foods.

Makaio 5:08 PM  

Wholeheartedly agree with the appreciation of Cloris Leachman. MTM, etc., yes, but also High Anxiety! Young Frankenstein!

Barbara 5:12 PM  

Le Tour de France is one of three GRAND TOURS in the summer. Giro d’Italia is in May, Vuelta a España is in August/September. The scenery in all of them is beautiful. There are mountain stages, flat stages, and a time trial or two. I’m an avid cycling fan, watch all three of them, and this puzzle was pretty lame, for reasons already said. Vicious cycles, indeed.

ghostoflectricity 5:17 PM  

Cloris Leachman's MTM work, her turn as the mother of the monstrous child in what for me was the scariest episode of the original "Twilight Zone" ("It's A Good Life," which she reprised with a grown-up Anthony Fremont, again played by the now-adult Bill Mumy, in a revived TZ in the 2000s), her tour de force entrance in her first film, "Kiss Me Deadly," and so many others (Frau Blücher in "Young Frankenstein," at whose name all the horses whinny in terror) were all outstanding. But for me her Oscar-winning performance as poor Mrs. Ruth Popper, the high school football coach's neglected wife, in 1971's "The Last Picture Show" was one of the greatest film performances of all time. Watch her in the last scene of the film when her teenage lover Sonny (Tim Bottoms), who has betrayed her, returns to her in desperation. Her acting, her shifting through an entire spectrum of emotions, is simply unforgettagle.

Anonymous 5:36 PM  

I first heard about the Tour de France in my first French class in Jr. high school
I figured many would be bothered by cycling references. But I am surprised Champs Elysées resulted in a lot of complaints. I would agree with the editors who found it Wednesday appropriate.
About natick Rex invented the term and has defined it as an objective word People here have turned it into a subjective meaning. Two crossing words I don’t know, An example of how words change in meaning in real time!!

Anonymous 6:16 PM  

Great puzzle for those 50 and older, I have to assume, or for those who wish it were 2004. Thursday came early this week. Slade? Leachman? That L took a few tries. Also it’s UTC now not GMT smh.

Anonymous 6:30 PM  

Device identifier should be MAC address. That's what's unique... The IP address can change if you use DHCP. Just sayin

Anonymous 6:33 PM  

You may already be aware but the Tour de France is currently happening hence the theme.

Anonymous 7:06 AM  

For sure! I was a big Slade fan back in the day (Noddy Holder!), and hated that this lesser cover became THE version to a generation. That’s right! And get off my lawn!

Anonymous 7:15 AM  

People used to drop ACID.

Anonymous 9:38 AM  

REAR UP!! Perfection.

Anonymous 11:48 AM  

Correct - grand tour is a descriptor of a type of race (of which there are three, which you correctly identified) - it is not a nickname for the TDF.

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