Friday, June 26, 2015

NYT 4:55 (Amy) 
LAT 8:59 (Gareth) 
CS 7:02 (Ade) 
CHE 6:06 (pannonica) 
WSJ (Friday) untimed (pannonica) 

Erin Rhode’s New York Times crossword

NY Times crossword solution, 6 26 15, no 0626

NY Times crossword solution, 6 26 15, no 0626

Congrats to Erin Rhode on a sparkling themeless debut! Lots to appreciate here. MANSPLAIN! It’s clued as 1a. [Patronizingly point out, in modern lingo], but if you’d like to learn about omnivoresplaining and straightsplaining, read this McSweeney’s humor piece.

“I’M AT A LOSS,” PORKY Pig, SALT SPRAY (which I don’t think would put waves in my hair—my hair has one mode no matter the atmospheric conditions, and that mode is straight), HIT A NERVE, HAVE IT ALL, PUP TENT, “IS IT GOING TO RAIN?,” and SWEETPEA also pleased me. And PROTEAN—that’s also a neat word. The LUSITANIA/U-BOAT combo is better than a U-BOAT by itself.

I’m not sure what to make of 12d. [Non-apology apology], “SORRY I’M NOT SORRY.” The thing people are using (far too much) these days is “sorry not sorry.” My son says nobody says it, they just write it. And he hasn’t encountered the version at 12d, either.

We’ve got some trade-offs for the zippy fill, with the crosswordese STERE; ODESA, a Ukrainian spelling/transliteration that is not echoed in the Texas city Odessa; ALERS; A-ONE with the spelled-out number; SLOES; and OYER.

Don’t miss Deb’s Wordplay post with Erin’s remarks about how she handcrafted the puzzle  (and about her MIT Mystery Hunt involvement).

Three more things:

  • 27d. [Does fieldwork?], PLOWS. In a literal farm field, as opposed to doing research fieldwork.
  • 36a. [Patron saint of chastity], AGNES. Did not know this. “Chastity” is overrated.
  • 48a. [Food items in shells], TARTS. Ah, yes. The “make them enter TACOS” gambit.

4.2 stars from me. Dropping MANSPLAIN at 1-Across does a lot to offset the bits of crosswordese.

Gail Grabowski’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Protest Plans”—Ade’s write-up

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 06.26.15: "Protest Plans"

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 06.26.15: “Protest Plans”

Happy Friday, everybody! How’s your weekend looking?! Today’s crossword puzzle, offered up to us by Ms. Gail Grabowski, has four theme answers in which the first word of each of those entries are synonyms of each other, all having to deal with actions during a protest.

  • STRIKE THREE (21A: [Umpire’s call]) – “Yer out!”
  • MARCH MADNESS (26A: [Annual basketball event])
  • RALLY DRIVING (43A: [Motorsports competition])
  • PICKET FENCE (50A: [Decorative backyard border])

Tore through this grid, and was hoping I could break the seven-minute barrier with this one. No real trouble spots, and long answers like SAYS WHO (5D: [“Oh, yeah?”]) and FINE ART were easy to come by, even with just one letter filled in before catching on to both (42D: [Gallery display]). Does anyone call mosquitoes SKEETERS these days (9D: [Pests in the sticks])? Can’t tell you that I have done so before, nor have I heard someone refer to them as that. The only Skeeter that I’m familiar with is a character from Muppet Babies. (By the way, for those who remember Muppet Babies, here’s a hilarious article on Funny or Die about some elements to the show, including Skeeter.) As much as Flo is all over television these days, give me Dennis Haysbert in those ALLSTATE ads over her any day of the week (37D: [Progressive competitor]). Nothing against Flo, but I’ve definitely suffered Flo fatigue! Instead of dance, I associate the TOE TAP much more with baseball, and the timing mechanism that batters use when trying to square up a pitch (25A: [Line dance step]). Now it’s time to get a hold of the NYT puzzle today (and not read about it on here before getting underway).

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: SEVE (19A: [Golfer Ballesteros]) – One of the greatest golfers of all time and the lynchpin of the rise of talented European golfers over the past four decades, Severiano “SEVE” Ballesteros (1957-2011) was a five-time major tournament winner, claiming three British Open titles (1979, 1984, 1988) and two at The Masters (1980, 1983). In 1976, a 19-year-old Ballesteros announced himself to the golf world by leading The Open Championship (a.k.a. British Open) by two shots going into the final day before finishing in a tie for second place. Outside of the Spaniard’s five major titles, Seve won 45 European Tour events and four other PGA Tour events in his career. In 2008, he was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor, and, on May 7, 2011, Ballesteros passed away at the age of 54.

Have a good weekend, everybody! See you tomorrow!

Take care!


Jeff Chen’s Chronicle of Higher Education crossword, “Give Me a Ring” — pannonica’s write-up

No, not a wedding ring, despite this morning’s historic Supreme Court decision.

CHE • 6/26/15 • "Give Me a Ring" • Chen • solution

CHE • 6/26/15 • “Give Me a Ring” • Chen • solution

Today’s offering proffers a retelling of one of the most celebrated anecdotes in both chemistry and psychology.

  • 24a. [The structure of ___ was not known until …] BENZENE. C6H6
  • 26a. [… chemist August Kekulé, lost in ___ …] REVERIE.
  • 41a. [… envisioned ___, a symbol of a snake swallowing its tail] OUROBOROS.
  • 60a. [… which helped Kekulé conceive of the carbon atoms in 24 Across in the shape of a ___ ] HEXAGON.

These four moderate-length entries don’t constitute much theme content, but there’s another level, as revealed by the circled squares. They represent the six carbon atoms and six hydrogen atoms bonded in the molecule’s structural arrangement, per Kerkulé.kekulé-stamp-DDR I’ve overlaid upon the solution grid a common diagrammatic version. The central hexagon is entirely regular, so it doesn’t align perfectly with the crossword’s grid, whose squares aren’t perfectly square; consequently, the angles (not to mention the lengths) of the bonds between carbon and hydrogen are not accurate.

A slightly more expansive narrative from Wikipedia:

I was sitting, writing at my text-book; but the work did not progress; my thoughts were elsewhere. I turned my chair to the fire and dozed. Again the atoms were gamboling before my eyes. This time the smaller groups kept modestly in the background. My mental eye, rendered more acute by the repeated visions of the kind, could now distinguish larger structures of manifold conformation: long rows, sometimes more closely fitted together; all twining and twisting in snake-like motion. But look! What was that? One of the snakes had seized hold of its own tail, and the form whirled mockingly before my eyes. As if by a flash of lightning I awoke; and this time also I spent the rest of the night in working out the consequences of the hypothesis.

Nice story, but the veracity is dubious. Consult this profile from the New York Times in 1988. If you’re still intrigued, the full text of Professor John Wotiz’s manuscript compiled after the announced symposium is available here.

Back to the crossword. By necessity of the lengths of theme entries, it has bilateral symmetry. Would have been super-splendiferous with full symmetry (horizontal + vertical, a combination which creates typical 180° rotational symmetry) to match the molecule’s (ignoring the distribution of single- and double-bonds). No simple way that I can see to achieve that.


On my Amazon wish list since December 2009.

  • A sextet of long vertical entries in the top half of the grid. 2d [Unfailingly generous] ALL HEART, 3d [Lucien’s “Later!”] À BIENTÔT, 6d [Skilled chiseler] STONEMASON, 8d [Process facilitated by silica gel] ADSORPTION, 11d [Sources of aromatherapy oil] TEA TREES, 12d [Bases of operation for tiny workers] ANT HILLS.
  • 14a [Island in a famous palindrome] ELBA, 63a [Middle of 14 Across’s palindrome] ERE.
  • 19a [Scandal suffix] -GATE. Scandalgate is one of my favorite bits of jargonese.
  • 32a [St. Pete stadium, with “the”] TROP. For Tropicana, I presume. Seemingly spurious sports abbrevs. are de trop, to me.
  • 44a [Pinch] SOUPÇON. It never fails to tickle me how the cedilla in this word suggests a miniature ladle. Factette: cedilla derives from Spanish, meaning ‘little Z“.
  • 64a [Margaret Atwood novel whose heroine paints the Virgin Mary holding a marble] CAT’S EYE. Deft clue, and perfect for the CHE.
  • 45d [Available for engagements] ON HIRE. More of a Briticism, I think.

Very fun and elucidatory theme, clean fill, good cluing. A better-than-average crossword.

Joseph Groat’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s review

LA Times 150626

LA Times

This looks to be a debut. I’m going to take a deep breath and say that this puzzle is not in a publishable state. The theme is unnecessarily uneven, the fill is unnecessarily weak. A bit of workshopping with a mentor on either / both fronts would have improved this puzzle a whole lot.

The theme: ST or sometime just T is added to make wacky-style phrases, altering spelling as necessary. Or, well, you could say T is added, provided you accept that some of the theme answers have been arbitrarily pluralised. FAUXFUR(S) becomes FAUXFIRST; GOESONASPREE becomes GHOSTONASPREE; FINGERSANDTOES becomes FINGERSANDTOAST; ROSEOFSHARON becomes ROASTOFSHARON; USERFEE(S) becomes USERFEAST. ROASTOFSHARON is by far the most elegant of the changes.

A theme arrangement of 9/13/15/13/9 is ambitious at the best of times, but for a newbie especially so. The temptation is always there, no matter ones experience, to try and cram as much theme as possible in. Experience should tell you where to draw the line. Here, I think the fill is beginning to strain a tad too much. For the most part, I don’t have hang-ups about specific answers, but an accumulation of high-end and contrived entries, especially when concentrated in specific areas, becomes problematic.

EMAG in a self-contained corner like the top-left looks really glaring. Its neighbour to the right has LOOS (as the author) with COROT and MOSSO for company. The middle has [Plural medical suffix], OSES crossing SETT. Plural suffixes should be utter desperation stuff. Middle-right has partial ASIN next to butt-ugly abbr. STMT. We also get Afrikaans insult HOERS in the middle-bottom. Many of these look like they’re in fairly blacked-in zones, but it’s the pressure of so much theme causing the short stuff to squelch out from the sides…

Some songs to end on a happier note: MAMAS and Seether (FAKEIT). On a more whimsical note, I’m not sure if [Confessional genre] is referring to EMO band Dashboard Confessional, or just that emo songs are frequenty confessional in nature. Anyone?

2 Stars. Gareth

Elizabeth C. Gorski’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Still Standing” — pannonica’s write-up

WSJ • 6/26/15 • "Still Standing" • Fri • Gorski • solution

WSJ • 6/26/15 • “Still Standing” • Fri • Gorski • solution

Another crossword with visual elements and left-right symmetry! (See today’s CHE.)

91-across instructs the solver to [Circle this word and nine identical instances to reveal a game formation] PIN. Instead of circling individual squares, I’ve superimposed an image over each trigram, because I’m on a kick today. The dectet’s arrangement is that of an inverted pyramid, the same—save for relative distances and element orientation—as that in bowling. To be thoroughly exacting, the figure is a tetractys, an equilateral triangle with four equidistant points on each side,

As with the Chronicle’s crossword—though almost in precisely the opposite direction—the primary part of the theme occupies a relatively small amount of real estate, and there is an additional element to flesh things out. Here, there are four long answers variously related to the game in question.

  • 24a. [You press it to prepare this puzzle’s theme] RESET BUTTON. Completely mystifying until the theme is revealed below it. Difficult even to parse.
  • 111a. [Invitation to play suggested by this puzzle’s theme] LET’S GO BOWLING.
  • 70d. [This won’t touch the puzzle’s theme] GUTTER BALL.
  • 77d. [They end with some of the puzzle’s theme still standing] OPEN FRAMES.

Not exactly the most amazing bunch of answers, and their specific relationships to the theme pins are strained to some degree. But something needed to augment the base and it seems unlikely anything better could have been achieved. It almost feels as if the aggressive long-stacking—not only along three of those four extra theme answers—but in two additional places—is tacit acknowledgment and atonement for the shortcoming. GUTTER BALL / APRIL FOOLS, OPEN FRAMES / EXTRADITES, RESET BUTTON / TRADE UNIONS (sometimes they strike)/ SAGEBRUSHES (scowling at -es pluralization), SOAPINESS / ASTONISHED, KEEPING ON / INHALATION. Plus, EASTER EGGS and SPIDER’S WEB.

You know, it’s after 4pm and I don’t feel like mining the crossword for more bits to highlight. So let’s spare the ceremony and just say it’s a fine puzzle, the visual aspect is admirably executed, and that’s that.

Oh wait! Favorite clue: 11d [Latin quarter word] UNUM. Note the lowercase Q in quarter.

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71 Responses to Friday, June 26, 2015

  1. Martin from C. says:

    NY Times:
    Since we had a recent discussion about duplicates, I wondered if the proximity and similarity of the 59A clue word “Ultron” to 57A answer ULTRA is enough to set off some people’s klaxons.

    • pannonica says:

      I raise my hand.

    • Gary R says:

      How about the duplication of “Rhode” in the constructor’s by-line and RHODE at 31-A?

      • Lois says:

        Obviously a plus; I guess you’re teasing. Thanks for pointing it out. I didn’t notice.

        Weird thing about the puzzle was that it was one of the easiest Times puzzles of the week for me, although I’d never heard of “mansplain.” For me that’s a good thing on a Friday.

        • Lois says:

          I was trying to edit my post, and things went a bit wrong. I wanted to say that a fairly easy puzzle is a pleasant thing for me on a Friday.

  2. steveo says:

    NYT: I agree, this puzzle was a lot of fun. Can’t go into much more without starting to 1-across….

    Question, though, since I’m new to the crossword blog scene. Why does Wordplay and xwordinfo often (always?) have the same constructor’s notes blurb?

    • Hawkins says:

      Deb and Jeff ask for constructor notes at the same time, usually about a week in advance of publication. It’s left to the constructor to determine whether coming up with two distinct blurbs is worth the effort.

  3. CY Hollander says:

    Oh, hooray, a word that I get to complain about for a change! I have two objections to MANSPLAIN as it’s clued in the puzzle: a) it should be clued as modern feminist lingo, as I believe its usage remains confined to such circles, b) it more specifically refers to a man explaining something patronizingly to a woman—a woman can be patronizing, but she can’t “mansplain”, as far as I know.

    Also, you’re free to appreciate MANSPLAIN as a sparkling word, Amy—I don’t begrudge that—but it does make you lose any sort of moral high ground you might have when you complain about gendered words like “coquette”.

    Other clues I didn’t feel fit so well with their words: “to consummate” is to fulfill or complete something; I don’t feel END has quite that connotation. To consummate a marriage and to end one are two different things, for instance, and I’m having trouble thinking of examples where the two words are interchangeable. The SALT SPRAY clue was cute, but strained a bit too far, IMO: salt spray may be a product of the ocean, but it’s not an unqualified “product”.

    In terms of the fill, the puzzle was very good. I found it a touch easy for a Friday, but very smooth.

    Re “SORRY I’M NOT SORRY,” I can’t say what people are using nowadays, but the puzzle’s version makes sense to me, at least: “I’m sorry that I can’t offer you the apology you would like”.

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      MANSPLAIN is a word that punches up, not down. It’s an important distinction in gendered language, racial terms, humor, and other forms of language.

      • CY Hollander says:

        I suppose that whether men are really up and women down in modern Western society is probably the biggest issue we see differently, but I won’t start an argument about that today. I concede the distinction from your point of view.

        FWIW, as I said, I’d have been fine with the entry if it had been clued more precisely (at least to my sense of the language) as a word that f̶e̶m̶i̶n̶i̶s̶t̶s̶ some use to describe a male patronizingly explaining something to a female, though I still wouldn’t be personally fond of the word. (The reason I’d insist on “some” is that I believe others would specifically avoid it. “Modern lingo” sounds like it’s something everyone says.)

  4. CY Hollander says:

    SALT SPRAY (which I don’t think would put waves in my hair—my hair has one mode no matter the atmospheric conditions, and that mode is straight)

    I took the waves in question to be ocean waves (well, some part of ocean waves, at least).

    edit: …but, having now read the constructor’s notes on Wordplay, I see that “salt spray” is a real hair product sold in bottles, so I guess my points about “product” and ocean waves were mistaken.

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      And I read the constructor’s notes alluding to actual use of salt water on her hair. Plus, once water takes on spray form, it’s no longer a wave, is it?

      Edited: jinx!

  5. Brian says:

    I don’t agree with your distinction regarding MANSPLAIN, Amy. It is to me, and I assume others, condescending and offensive.

    • Gary R says:


      My interpretation of the “punching up/punching down” distinction is that many people believe it’s okay to be condescending and offensive as long as you are perceived to have been disproportionately on the receiving end of condescension and offensiveness (and the target of your condescension and offensiveness hasn’t received his fair share).

      Personally, I’m with you, but our view will not prevail here.

      • Bencoe says:

        Oh, man up.

      • pat says:

        I too agree. It’s the worst trait of liberalism — the outrage of their being offended, then their use of offensive language/actions is cloaked in the guise of directing their offensive actions towards a perceived majority, thereby somehow making their actions inoffensive (or playfully snarky, in the case of mansplain). Not the best equation for progress.

      • Brian says:

        Thanks for the response, Gary. I agree with you that our view is likely the minority.

        And even though I find the term offensive, it didn’t decrease my enjoyment of the puzzle.

        I’m just not buying Amy’s arguments that this is somehow okay because men historically have held most of the power in our society. If you don’t call out the constructor on this when you regularly call out constructors for sexist clues or answers, then as CY put it perfectly, you lose your moral high ground.

  6. pannonica says:

    I can appreciate how MANSPLAIN is controversial. But that’s blatant. What I find more subtly and insidiously patronizing, undermining, and upsetting is 32d [What many career women strive to do] HAVE IT ALL. I hope this does not need to be spelled out.

    • PJ Ward says:

      32d caused me to stumble for the very same reason.

      It seems to me that punching, whether up or down, is violence and almost always results in a counterpunch. Not helpful.

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      Agree completely on the HAVE IT ALL clue. “Career women” is a not-punching-up term that posits woman = one without a career, and a woman who has a career/job requires a qualifying term. Whereas “career man” is hardly a thing at all, because the default is man = man with a job. The default is that men can have it all—job and family—because there’s someone at home holding down the fort so he doesn’t have to do much childcare or housework.

      • Erin Rhode says:

        For whatever it’s worth, Will added the “career” — I think I had “some women” originally. I wasn’t a big fan of that change, for the reasons Amy alludes to.

    • CY Hollander says:

      I raised an eyebrow at that one too, especially in conjunction with mansplain and a female constructor, but the constructor’s notes on the blog that Amy linked in her post confirms that Erin Rhode was going for “a bit of a feminist flavor” in this one, so I’m sure she didn’t see that entry as problematic.

      I think it’s all in how you look at it. It’s true that men don’t face the same trade-offs between work and family that women do. Some of the reasons for that are social, and if you see “HAVE IT ALL” as endorsing those, I understand why you find it upsetting, but others are natural. If nothing else, the burden of gestating, bearing, and often nursing a child falls to women by biological lot, and they also have a shorter window of fertility. These are just facts of nature that make it harder for women to HAVE IT ALL, if “all” means family + career.

      • pannonica says:

        This is precisely why it’s insidious and patronizing.

      • Amy Reynaldo says:


        Is this mansplaining here, people?

        • CY Hollander says:

          Is it? I was just trying to explain how the female constructor may have viewed it, considering that she is not a horrid man trying to promote the insidious agenda of the patriarchy.

          I’m not sure if you’re mostly kidding or mostly serious, Amy, but if serious, this is why it’s such a frustrating word. If any explanation I give from my perspective is a mansplanation, I may as well not even try.

          • Bencoe says:

            Possibly the irony of a man attempting to explain the concerns of feminism and the complications of female biology to women…quite aptly fits the term MANSPLAINING.

    • Tracy B says:

      I’m with pannonica on this one—it got a cringe from me. The phrase is fine, and there are other clue possibilities.

      • Alex says:

        I thought the clue for HAVE IT ALL sounded dated. I got it, because I am old enough to remember it from the 1980s. But all the young families I know (yes, sorry-not-sorry, they are usually professionals who can afford outside help) seem to share the child-raising duties quite a lot more than could have been imagined 50 years ago. I think the Dads are really enjoying it, too.

        Proving my age, I’ve never heard of mansplaining. I’ve never come across that term in my life. It seems unnecessary.

        • pannonica says:

          It may “seem … like quite a lot more” but appearances can be deceiving.

          “Astonishingly, despite the increased workload of families, and even though 70 percent of American children now [date of essay: 2013] live in households where every adult in the home is employed, in the past 20 years the United States has not passed any major federal initiative to help workers accommodate their family and work demands.

          However, there are further developments.

          These are merely two reports, of course.

          • Alex says:

            @Pannonica: I guess we read these from different perspectives.

            The second article says that men want to actively participate equally in child-raising. Hey, it’s fun and life-enhancing and creates an unforgettable bond. Much more so than a job.

            The first is more equivocal. It seems to me that men want to, but sometimes can’t be, equal care-givers.

            Which could also be explained by the fact that women can choose to be SAHMs w/o being judged.

            If a new father were to say to his wife, I want to stay at home with the baby until he is five, and I expect you to work to support the family – I don’t think this would be accepted as normal or fair by most people in the States.

            I’m not oblivious to the fact that most childcare falls upon women, especially (obviously) when they are single mothers with an absent baby-daddy, but at least in the professional classes, women today do get to have it all a lot more than men do.

            It’s gradually changing in Europe, which for the last few decades seems to lead the way in social rights. In most countries, men get paternity leave; in some cases it is mandatory, or they can split it with their wives.

            So, yes, HAVE ITALL sounds 80s to me. Times have changed, and fathers have changed.

  7. Tracy B says:

    It’s a phenomenon that happens in the world and that people have labeled (aptly, I think), but I don’t believe MANSPLAIN is a feminist word. I’ve heard men who aren’t particularly feminist use it, about themselves and others, with humor and understanding. If it’s got to be labeled as feminist in order to clarify that it doesn’t represent the point of view of everyone who might be solving the puzzle, then I’d think a lot more of our language is masculinist and needs to be labeled as such because it doesn’t represent my point of view.

    Every so often a man is not squarely behind the lens of something presented to a wide audience as representative of the culture. For me it’s refreshing.

    Anyway, welcome Erin! I loved this puzzle.

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      Exactly, Tracy! Yes. The default has been masculinist.

      Maybe if the language in crossword fill and clues were more balanced and less masculinist, more women would be motivated to get into the business.

    • CY Hollander says:

      I think it’s rather analogous to gendered words that go in the other direction: it’s based on a stereotype that probably is based on a kernel of truth, but it’s still potentially harmful in the way that stereotypes are: in framing a negative thing as something characteristic of all [in this case] men and even unique to them, and making it easier to dismiss any individual male explanation as a “mansplanation”. I’ve seen “mansplained” used many times this way, and in my experience, the effect of it is often to dismiss an entire argument that may well have contained valid points even if the perceived condescension was real.

      The other reason I see MANSPLAIN as a feminist word, more so than similar words are masculist, is that it doesn’t just reflect a cultural stereotype, it was specifically coined and promulgated to promote one. It’s a word with an explicit agenda, if you will. When I see “he mansplained it to me”, I don’t just read “he condescendingly acted as if I needed an explanation”—I read “he condescendingly acted as if I need an explanation—which is something men do all the time, and isn’t that annoying?”

      I’m quite certain that, at least when the word was first coined, its users were explicitly using it to push a feminist agenda. That may have changed by now, though.

      • Alex says:

        I live a sheltered life. I have never heard of the terms “mansplained,” “masculist,” “mansplanation,”or “masculinist.” Are these words?

        I have heard of “manspread,” however, and guys, you do not need to do this.

        I can point you to thousands of B&W photos where men didn’t need to “manspread” in the 50s or 60s. I doubt male anatomy has changed much since then.

  8. PJ Ward says:

    I just read where the Tallahassee PD released an incident report concerning a FSU QB punching a woman a bar. Almost all information about the incident was redacted. Notably present in the release was the victim’s name and address.

    There’s a lot of work to be done.

    • Gary R says:

      My understanding is that police departments are obliged to release this information in response to a FOIA request, unless the victim is a minor or the charge includes rape or sexual assault. They can probably claim an exception if they believe releasing the information would be likely to put the woman in danger (something that might have applied in this case).

      • PJ Ward says:

        I’ve got to believe the woman has probably heard from “fans” already.

      • Papa John says:

        I wouyld guess it’s more often the case that police department issuing the report has it redacted to protect itself.

  9. David L says:

    This was a lively puzzle, provoking a lively discussion, although I thought it was far too easy for a Friday. My only hold-up was filling in the last square at the E_D/_ET crossing. If to consummate a marriage means to end it then someone is in trouble, and there are plenty of nets that have connection to fish.

    The phrase HAVE IT ALL irritates me because it has become a lazy and empty cliche. No one can have it all, as far as I can see, man or woman. There are plenty of stories about children having distant or difficult relationships with a father who was constantly at work, rarely at home, and disengaged when he was at home. Not that I would know anything about that personally, of course.

  10. Amy Reynaldo says:

    CY, when you dominate the discussion about a feminist issue and drown out the women’s voices … do you see that you’re doing that? Do you see what that does? You’re making everything about you and how the word affects you, and how your knowledge of women’s fertility lets you explain “having it all” to a bunch of women. This is kinda sorta the thing that happens to far too many expert women—a man presumes his knowledge is more complete and he explains at her.

    • CY Hollander says:

      OK, I will leave the discussion about this “feminist issue” then. My apologies for thinking it had anything to do with me.

      • pannonica says:

        Doesn’t need to be a catch-22, but it is admittedly treacherous to navigate.

      • Amy Reynaldo says:

        When Congress is 80% female and 95% of S&P 500 CEOs are women, we’ll talk about how harmful bias against men is.

        • Amy Reynaldo says:

          (Similarly, I’m not going to get fired up about “anti-white racism” or “persecution of American Christians” because we’re certainly not at a point where either of those groups has ceded its hegemony.)

          • Lois says:

            I can tell you that a colleague at work some years back was offended when I used the acronym “WASP.” I was surprised but found that I had learned something.

            Related to this “mansplaining” controversy was the fact that I needed so many explanations about what it means. The gender angle was not self-evident at all. I guess Amy’s post today could be an example of womansplaining.

    • Dan F says:

      “Dominate”? “Drown out”? Huh? This was an unusually interesting and levelheaded comment thread today. Why not just win the argument by arguing?

  11. huda says:

    HAVING IT ALL: is an annoying term for lots of reasons, and, thankfully, has a stale sound to it.
    Balancing it all is definitely a current and present challenge that a lot of young people of child bearing age face, with women having more pressure on them for biological as well as social reasons. I see it and hear about it in science all the time and it definitely takes its toll, especially on the careers of women scientists. But it’s also relevant to the men, some of whom have indeed stepped up in trying to carry as much of their share as possible.
    One of the things I am proudest of is that my son is one of these men. He just called me saying he had taken some time off from work because it was his daughter’s last day of school and he was taking her to the park. And he does his share consistently, regularly and spontaneously. He also loves it and takes joy in it. More importantly, I think the kids gain a lot from having two very involved parents.
    It seems to me important to acknowledge both the progress and the huge amount of work that remains to be done. Our society has a long way to go, and the more we engage all parties in a realistic and thoughtful process of solving these problems, the better the outcome not just for women but also for men and especially for the kids.

  12. Alex says:

    @Pan: Although I filled the CHE, it was largely by crosses. Your explanation helped a great deal. Sometimes your crazy erudition helps! Thanks.

  13. Gareth says:

    Although it doesn’t >quite< work, a LLAMA is not an image, [Spitting image in the Andes?] for LLAMA made me smile a lot. Anyone who has had to deal with camelids of any sort can relate...

  14. sbmanion says:

    Wow! I just finished the puzzle and did not expect to see so much controversy. I did anticipate comments on HAVE IT ALL, but was surprised to see so much controversy over MANSPLAIN. I just saw the wonderful movie INSIDE OUT with my kids (I use them as my excuse to see every Pixar and most other animated movies), and one of the funniest scenes occurred at the end when the now 12-year-old girl flirts momentarily with a 12-year-old boy. The emotions in the head of the boy go completely haywire. I have always thought that that is the way men are with respect to women and MANSPLAINING is just another example of how men are born with what I call the “fool gene” when it comes to women. I see it as strictly humorous.


  15. Zulema says:

    I still love the NYT puzzle despite all the “splaining” that was done. To me, old that I am, it reminded me only of Dennis the Menace, who used the term a lot. Huda is right that “balancing it all” is a better concept, but it didn’t fit. PROTEAN was great, so was LUSITANIA and the UBOAT. Torpedo didn’t fit and the UBOAT was literally the source. Too easy is not a negative quality, when one is solving at midnight.

    • Alex says:

      Well, unless you were one of the almost 2000 on the Lusitania who died after being attacked by a U-boat. That wouldn’t have been great, agreed?

  16. Papa John says:

    Earlier, Alex wrote: “Which could also be explained by the fact that women can choose to be SAHMs w/o being judged.”

    I can attest to that. I have been the house technician for many years, taking on the responsibility of cleaning, laundry, shopping and cooking (as well as the jobs usually assigned to males, like car and house repair). Believe me, I’ve had my fair share of femmesplaining on how that is all supposed to be done.

    Living in a small, rural town, it’s not unusual for gossip and rumors to wend their way back to the subjects of such talk. So it is in my case, when the mocking, disparaging comments about my particular domestic situation have found their way back to me. In one instance, I know of, the untoward comments were made by a woman.

    • Alex says:

      Papa John,

      Thanks. My much-loved male cousin has played the same role for years, to the absolute benefit and delight of his children and his wife (a name partner at a big law firm). He adores being the SAHD and he is wonderful at it. Okay, he’s not a great cook, but he comes from a long line of terrible cooks – namely, my family. He’s an amazing parent and husband.

      Femmesplaining – I want to say that is not a word.

      Ignore the disbelievers and innuendo. It’s nonsense and it’s none of their business.

  17. ahimsa says:

    CHE: I loved this one, even though I know next to nothing about chemistry, mainly because it had one of my favorite words, OUROBOROS. And I had heard the (possibly apocryphal) story about BENZENE so it was not completely unknown to me.

    WSJ: Always fun to have a visual layer on top of the grid.

    NYT: I liked it, congrats to Erin Rhode and thanks for posting comments here. I enjoy reading what constructors have to say.

    Re: MANSPLAIN, maybe this article will help provide some context:

    TL;DR – Rebecca Solnit is at a party when another man interrupts her to explain about a book. But the book is one that she authored. The man simply assumed that he knew more the subject than she did.

    This is just my opinion (I’m no expert on linguistics or feminism) but I don’t see the word MANSPLAIN as a criticism of men in general. It’s a criticism of patriarchy and male privilege, the pattern of ignoring women’s voices, experiences, and expertise.

    If you don’t do this, then it’s not about you, even if you’re a man. No need for any man to feel bad about the word or feel that he is being attacked.

  18. e.a. says:

    perhaps 1-across should have been clued as the possessive MAN’S PLAIN, e.g.:

    [Where you fall to when you lose your moral high ground because you declined to police a word that calls out misogynist behavior the same way you police misogynist words themselves]

    or simply:

    [The male tears in the Fiend comments section fall mainly in the ___]

      • Bencoe says:

        An interesting angle not previously brought up in this thread. The word does refer to misogynistic behavior–a man assuming a woman needs an explanation because she’s not as smart or informed as he is. The validity of this aspect of the term seems to have been lost in the outcry over whether or not men in general should be offended. I certainly didn’t find it offensive, but then I’m not waiting around for perceived insults to throw in feminists’ collective face.

  19. ArtLvr says:

    Popping in late this evening, I found the lengthy commentary above very amusing! Too bad if most of you missed Pres. Obama’s eulogy in Charleston — it was outstanding. And the Supreme Court decisions announced today are notably historic too. My only thought to add regarding the puzzles today was that Gareth was too hard on the author of the LAT. I really enjoyed the originality of the theme phrases, and would have given it a much higher rating! De gusitibus…

    • ArtLvr says:

      p.s. See also photos of the White House glowing with rainbow-colored floodlights!

      • Eliza says:

        ArtLvr, I adored Obama’s eulogy, and I have never heard a more amazing rendition of Amazing Grace. It never occurred to me that it means as much when sung completely off-key and well, badly, as when it’s performed by a well-meaning person. Hey, I elected a President, not a singer.

        I admired him for just singing it, knowing he would be off key, but also knowing that it was the right song to be sung by this President at that occasion.

        And as for the White House being lit in rainbow colors. Brilliant. I saved that pic and sent it to my teenage gay nephew (no marriage equality in Australia yet) just to say that this will happen faster than he will believe. It will.

  20. Patrick Merrell says:

    I found this puzzle a refreshing and noticeable change of pace, having more of a female vibe to it. Enjoyable.

  21. Michael says:

    To me the clue for ODESA misleadingly implied a much more proximal neighbor of Kyiv. Odes(s)a is 300 miles to the south. While the clue is technically correct, I doubt we’d ever clue, say, Corpus Christi as “City south of Dallas.”

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