Friday, December 4, 2015

BuzzFeed 19:40 (Jim) 


CHE untimed (pannonica) 


CS 9:44 (Ade) 


LAT 6:40 (Gareth) 


NYT 4:49 (Amy) 


Damon J. Gulczynski’s BuzzFeed crossword — Jim’s review

Beautiful, beautiful grid today from Damon Gulczynski!

BuzzFeed - Fri, Dec 4, 2015 - Damon J. Gulczynski

BuzzFeed – Fri, Dec 4, 2015 – Damon J. Gulczynski

Those NW and SE corners are just stellar. Up top we get SWEEP THE LEG, THERE YOU ARE, and AARON SORKIN. If that’s not good enough, they have these outstanding crossers: WHAT IF, TYSON, HOOBASTANK(!), and EUROPOP. (The ERI / GENET tandem at 10- and 11-Down is about the only downside in the whole grid.)

I confess to having never watched “The Karate Kid” even though I’m right in the demographic for the original. So 1A‘s clue [Karate move Sensei Kreese instructs Johnny to do in his match with Daniel-san], got me to think “Karate Kid” but the only move I know from the movie is “WAX ON, WAX OFF”. And whaddyaknow, it fit in the grid, so in it went. Didn’t take long before I realized I had to rip it out.

Moving to the SE we find REALPOLITIK, DARLENE LOVE, and SUPER SOAKER with their crossers MOSELLE, FIXER UPPER(!), IS IT OK, and NO JIVE. And there’s no crud down there at all, unless you count EAU as crud which I don’t. Beautiful job!

The other corners are almost as nice with THE LORAX, LYIN’ EYES, and LOW NOTE in the NE and IRON MIKE, NOT TAKEN, and SINATRA in the SW. The Xs in XEROXES are adeptly handled in FIXER UPPER and THE LORAX, and we also get a MEAT PIE and an AMATEUR thrown in for good measure.

Things I didn’t know (of which there are a lot): Didn’t know DARLENE LOVE by name (“He’s a Rebel” singer), but was able to sort it out without too much trouble. Never heard of the “PEN 15″ club though it looks like it’s popular with middle school boys. Not familiar with “Me, Earl and the Dying Girl” which appears in the clues for 51A and 54A SOB and WEPT, nor “1Q84” which appears in the clue for 10D ERI. Nor Jean GENET in 11D. Nor Crystal MOSELLE (41D) who directed “The Wolfpack” (which sounds extremely interesting). In my screenshot, you’ll also see my error in 21A. [“I like my coffee like I like my men…I don’t drink coffee” quipster] for some reason made me think George Burns and Gracie ALLEN, and of course, I already admitted to not knowing its crosser, GENET.

Carson Daly on TRL (“Total Request Live”)

There is a good variety of clues and entries in the grid from an age-perspective. We get references to a number of 2015 films as well as Kesha, AARON SORKIN and HOOBASTANK from the recent past, but then we get EUROPOP, TRL, and “Karate Kid” from the 80s, LYIN’ EYES from the 70s, DARLENE LOVE and NO JIVE from the 60s and SINATRA, the Three STOOGEs, and Fay WRAY from the distant past (relatively speaking). That’s a great range of pop culturey knowledge!

Clues were pretty good — a bit wordy at times, but not over the top. My favorite has to be 63A [Arm full of water] for SUPER SOAKER. 46A‘s [“I ain’t lying, home slice from the 1960s!”] for NO JIVE made me laugh and goes along with this theme of historical era mash-ups. WARP‘s clue at 54D ([Pervert]) I find strangely elegant.

The BuzzFeed themelesses have been a joy to solve in recent weeks. I hope this trend continues.

Martin Ashwood-Smith’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up

NY Times crossword solution, 12 4 15, no 1204

NY Times crossword solution, 12 4 15, no 1204

I remain wiped out (*cough, sneeze, sniffle*), so let’s eyeball this puzzle and see what we’ve got. Two 15s that pair well, COMPUTER MONITOR and OPERATING SYSTEM, plus a quad-stack in the middle with four good entries—APPLIED RESEARCH, CELESTIAL EMPIRE ([Old nickname for China] … did I know that?), “I CAN SEE FOR MILES,” and DAYTON, TENNESSEE. I used the first couple Downs crossing the quads to crack open the middle of the puzzle.

Zippiest fill outside of the 15s: “THOUGHTS?” clued as a question (I use this all the time); gross DETOX DIETS; LONG-STEMMED roses and wineglasses; PROLIFIC; and PECAN. Mm-mmm, I love pecans. Prolific pecan purchaser here.

Five more things:

  • 44a. [Sharp as a bowling ball], DIM. Never heard that phrase before, but I’m not so bowling ballish that I didn’t figure out the answer.
  • 17d. [Pretty good poker hand], THREE TENS. Okay, there was a whole hubbub when some poker hand was an LATimes answer and Gareth felt it was an arbitrary phrase. Does anyone wish to argue that THREE TENS is not rather arbitrary?
  • 57a. [Hoarders’ disorders], RATS’ NESTS. It would be nice to not play on people with a mental illness for a crossword clue, no matter how appealing the rhyme may feel.
  • 2d. [Coming or going acknowledgment], ALOHA. Hawaii! Do you appreciate Hawaiian culture? Probably you should watch this video of a dance troupe of men in loincloth-type outfits demonstrating a tremendous amount of muscle strength and control, plus some gyrations.
  • 13d. [Snapper on a field: Abbr.], CTR. Um, no. While the word center is often abbreviated as ctr., in football, it’s abbreviated C. Clue it as some other sort of center.

APIS, SCREE, LEPUS, and INO feel a bit more Saturday-level than Friday, but their crossings likely helped people fill those in even if the words were unfamiliar. Plural APRILS and -ISE, meh.

Overall, 3.9 stars from me.

Emory Ediger’s Chronicle of Higher Eduction crossword, “English Course” — pannonica’s write-up

CHE • 12/4/15 • "English Course" • Ediger • solution

CHE • 12/4/15 • “English Course” • Ediger • solution


an anniversary quote theme.

19-across initiates: [Start of a transportation factoid from 25 years ago this week] CHUNNEL MAKES | EUROPEAN MAINLAND | BREAKTHROUGH. The other two answers are 40-across, whose 16 letters merit the crossword’s 16×15 dimensions, and 62-across.

My issues regarding the theme are numerous. Beginning with the fundamental facts, from Wikipedia:

A two-inch (50-mm) diameter pilot hole allowed the service tunnel to break through without ceremony on 30 October 1990. On 1 December 1990, Englishman Graham Fagg and Frenchman Phillippe Cozette broke through the service tunnel with the media watching.

So, the event actually took place a month earlier than “25 years ago this week”.

Next: is the breakthrough really the significant achievement, or is it the thoroughfare’s opening? That happened some three-and-a-half years later:

Eurotunnel completed the tunnel on time, and it was officially opened, one year later than originally planned, by Queen Elizabeth II and the French president, François Mitterrand, in a ceremony held in Calais on 6 May 1994. The Queen travelled through the tunnel to Calais on a Eurostar train, which stopped nose to nose with the train that carried President Mitterrand from Paris. Following the ceremony President Mitterrand and the Queen travelled on Le Shuttle to a similar ceremony in Folkestone. A full public service did not start for several months.


Ironically, this seems to be a title from a vanity press.

Finally, is the quadranscentennial mark of an engineering feat news- and/or theme-worthy? I remain doubtful at best. At least it reminded me of the classic (apocryphal) British newspaper headline from the pre-Chunnel era, “Fog In Channel – Continent Cut Off”. (Research suggests it was supposedly a common radio weather forecast in the 1930s.)

Now that my disdain for the theme has been established, how robust was the rest of the crossword?

Solving report: That upper-right corner was the hardest section for me to complete. At 9d, I had no idea that the [Binkley pal in “Bloom County”] was MILO and could only think of BILL the Cat. Without solid crossings, I wasn’t assured that 12d [Albanian currency] was indeed the LEK. Took a while to perceive the wordplay in 13d [Modern art?] ARE, even though it’s a fairly hoary clue. 10d INMOST for [Extremely personal], with its unusual letter sequence, was tricky with limited crossings. Ditto for the MAKES part of the theme answer. Last, and most significant (since it would have cleared up most of the other ambiguities), was 17a [“Yoo-hoo” response, maybe] going to be I’M HOME, I’M HERE, or IN HERE? Rough stuff, all told.

  • Incidental to the theme is 30d [Country indirectly referred to in 40 Across] FRANCE.
  • Long downs are 3d [Driver of a vehicle with “frequent stops” sign, often] MAIL CARRIER – in some places they just walk, y’know. 29d [Vagaries] UPS AND DOWNS.
  • So glad that 32d [Kilt features] was PLEATS and not PLAIDS, as I was dreading. You bet I would have been pedantic.
  • 42d [Revolutionary, old-style] ANARCH. You bet it’s old-style, but I kind of like it, musty as it is.
  • Withheld answer for 36a [Cautionary opening?] because, even though my instinct was for PRE- I thought it might be SLO-.

Annnnd … not much else I found interesting, though to be fair the theme’s deficiency of appeal pervaded my impression.

Bruce Venzke’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword, “Such a Deal”—Ade’s write-up

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 12.04.15: "Such a Deal"

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 12.04.15: “Such a Deal”

Good morning, everyone! Today’s grid, brought to us by Mr. Bruce Venzke, is an elongated quip broken up into parts that happens to be the theme of the puzzle. Those puzzles always give me the most trouble, for some reason. Hey, at least what’s conveyed in the quip doesn’t actually happen to me at any of my stays in hotels.

  • TO SAVE SOME MONEY, STAY AT OUR BUDGET BED AND BREAKFAST, YOU MAKE THEM BOTH (17A, along with 27-, 50, and 65-Across: [Travel magazine ad for lodging])

Again, never been too comfortable with these types of grids unless I’m undoubtedly sure that I’ve heard the quip in question before. (I had never heard of this particular one before today.) I had played with a YO-YO a good number of times when I was younger, and could NEVER perform any tricks, and so wished I could (56D: [You can use it to walk the dog]). Honestly, how do those people do that with yo-yos?! Outside of the theme, nothing really stood out for me, expect for the fact that I’m going to have Shaggy’s voice (Casey Kasem) in my head all day after seeing SCOOB (27D: [Nickname of Shaggy’s dog]). Speaking of that voice, here’s Casey in character during one of the Jerry Lewis’ telethons. Zoinks!

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: NETS (1D: [Butterfly catchers]) and EAGLE (47D: [Scouting rank]) – Since 1994, play-by-play broadcaster Ian EAGLE (Syracuse alum) has been the voice of the New Jersey/Brooklyn NETS National Basketball Association franchise, first on radio and now on television, as you can catch both Eagle and the Nets on the YES Network. Eagle’s probably (no, definitely) one of the top five sports broadcasters in the country, and definitely give him a listen if you have a chance to watch his games, either on YES or on CBS, doing pro football and/or college basketball games.

Have a good weekend, everyone!  See you tomorrow!

Take care!


Craig Stowe’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s review

LA Times 151204

LA Times

I don’t know the name of the author, Craig Stowe. Is this a debut? It follows on from our BEAR theme yesterday with some lions and tigers… Oh my! Also, I don’t know the central theme phrase here either, KITTYCORNER . Is it American dialect? There’s quite a lot of discussion here: . Assuming it is a valid and common American English construct, it is an interesting revealing answer; a very odd turn of phrase indeed!

The KITTYCORNERs in question consist of intersecting pairs of fictional cats from various media: three domestic cats, three tigers, and two lions. The other 37 or so Felidae species are not represented. Bonkers T. Bobcat is unimpressed! We have: SHEREKHAN (originally from children’s literature), and STIMPY (from a TV cartoon); MOOCH (comic strip), HOBBES (likewise); MUFASA (cartoon film) and ASLAN (literature); SYLVESTER (TV cartoon) & TIGGER (literature). Many of those have appeared in multiple incarnations in various media. I didn’t think I knew MOOCH initially, but I did recall her; now what is the dog called? ASLAN is the closest to a stretch as the lion form is just an avatar. Also, is MEW a bonus answer?

These corner themes are trickier than most to fill. That’s a lot of white space to negotiate with two answers already more or less locked in! ENIWETOK is an interesting, albeit difficult answer; I can see it giving some people kittens as few of the letters are inferrable! IRISHSTEW is also good in that corner. ECH is a pretty bottom-of-the-barrel abbr. though. KITTYCORNER from those, TORCHSONG is an excellent choice.

There are compromises in most places, but things didn’t feel totally out of control: ASITS and ALOW are awkward plurals for sure, though they’re in the central area, that central area is receiving grid pressure from all the corners! Do people say RAVELOUT? Its in dictionaries. There are more, like plural DSCS, I’m just scratching the surface here.

Other comments: [Romantic evening highlight, perhaps], MOON. I didn’t know mooning someone was considered romantic. But then I know nothing about romance! Is [Christmas ___], PIE mince pie?? Those are the only pies I associate with Christmas time. Gag me with a spoon.

3.25 Stars. Interesting theme, featuring largely unavoidable consequences in the fill.

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49 Responses to Friday, December 4, 2015

  1. steveo says:

    Did not realize until I saw your screenshot that this is extra tall. (15×16) But why is it extra tall?

    Maybe that helps explain my horrible time on this. It was fun, anyway. (aka ‘ultimately solvable’)

    THREE TENS, sooooooo arbitrary, I agree.

    P.S. I’m still upset about the amistad/aimee conspiracy. Feel better soon, anyway.

    • Howard B says:

      16 rows tall is the best way you’re going to get a central stack of 4 across answers, using standard rotational crossword symmetry.
      i.e., it looks the nicest and most even that way.

  2. john farmer says:

    I’d say THREE TENS is a little arbitrary, but not a lot. If it were clued, say, as three $10 bills, that would be way arbitrary. But three 10s in poker is a real thing. As an answer it’s not as strong as “three of a kind,” of course, but it’s not completely made up. There are a finite number of poker hands and “three tens” is one of them. In fact, if you google around, you’ll find the hand has some nicknames like “San Jose to Gilroy,” “30 miles of bad road,” or just “30 miles.”

  3. Martin says:

    John’s right, I’m not much of a poker player, but knew that THREE TENS had a couple of nicknames… within a game that is very popular. In fact I debated about using one of the nicknames for cluing that poker hand, but opted against it and fell back on the same clue I’d used for am earlier puzzle of mine in the NYT. I did this more out of fairness to the solver (since not everyone is famiar with poker slang). Like it or not, this is not a “green paint” entry such as “TEN FORKS” or “TEN IPHONES”.

    Incidentally, I’m no poker expert, but isn’t THREE TENS one of those hands that’s just common enough to give poker its famous “edge” when it comes to bluffing? Good enough to raise maybe, but not good enough to be certain. Therefore, a good example of where expert bluffing comes into play. (Of course you can bluff with any hand, I know… but I hope you get my drift)

    Incidentally (with all due respect to Amy) if memory serves me correctly I deliberately chose the far top and bottom 15s that Amy was a bit “meh” about because they both (or one) had not been used before. Also while OPERATING SYSTEM as an entry, may not exactly set the cruciverbal world on fire, but it is a 15 of great importance and relevance, especially in 2015. We are in the middle of the battle of the (smartphone) operating systems, for example your (one’s?) iPhone uses IOS (the OS meaning OPERATING SYSTEM).

    (please, please, let’s not turn this page into a debate about smartphones… I was simply using it for illustrative purposes!!!)

    -Martin Ashwood-Smith/MAS

    • Sarah says:

      I’d call THREETENS arbitrary for sure. There are thousands of different poker hands that can be named, and this one is not special by any means.

      Three tens is not a cut-off of any sort, as poker can be played with various amounts of people, and there are hundreds of different variants of poker, and variants of the variants on top of that. THREETENS in two-handed draw poker would be a very likely winner, but in seven-handed hold’em, it’s pretty likely to lose.

      OPERATINGSYSTEM and COMPUTERMONITOR have both been used several times, by the way.

  4. Martin says:

    [Important note: any criticism/arguments I’m making are strictly my opinion and not intended to personally call out Amy for being wrong. The truth is that in general, Amy’s criticisms of my puzzles (and others), while I don’t always agree, has infuenced my own crosswords positively. So everything I’ve said above and below is intended in the spirit of friendly debate!]

    Also, while I’m on a bit of an admittedly defensive roll right now, it never in my 25 career as a professional constructor occurred to me to be concerned at the relative “meh-ness” of the plural APRILS. Do pluralized months never occur in normal conversation and the written word? For example we (in Victoria BC) had one of the driest Augusts on record. I’m sorry to be do argumentative Amy (we really do get along very well), but I disagree strongly with you on this point.

    Incidentally, I would have preferred PERILS here, but it’s been a while, for some reason the “P” although doable led to an issue I didn’t particularly like (I’m sorry, I have forgotten exactly… it’s been a year!) For example IRISH could have become the partial “I RISE”/ leaving SEP or SEA in the Across 3-letter word above.

    Incidentally there’s a great clue for the partial “I RISE”:

    “Maya Angelou’s “And Still __”

    Considering the importance and beauty of Maya Angelou’s poetry, in retrospect maybe I should have used it. But, please nobody take this the wrong way, sometimes the bar-raising, such as the criticism of what used to be too many partials, has sometimes been reduced to any partials being singled out period (and I’m not referring specifically to Amy or any blogger). This has made some other compromises necessary, particularly in more complex grids. In this case APRILS, which hadn’t (and still doesn’t strike me as particularly egregious.

    Now, the above could be consideted by some as “my, he’s got a thin skin with his defensiveness”. But, in reality my main goal is to hopefully spark some debate on this page, and also, let some of you in, on what, as a constructor, goes through my mind during some of the construction process :)

    One more thing: for fans of quadstacks here is a special treat: another (unpublished) quadstack. Click below and get the full details!

    “Opera Boxes” (and no, it’s not all about opera: it’s another themeless quadstack)


    • Beth says:

      Our weather men couldn’t do the last day of the month wrap up if they couldn’t use pluralized months.

    • Sarah says:

      The sentence with AUGUSTS could be rewritten as “We (in Victoria BC) had the driest August on record.”

      I don’t see APRILS as a particularly terrible answer, but it’s still something I would avoid (APRIL is several times better, IMO).

    • Lois says:

      No need to be defensive about this puzzle. It received great ratings. I loved it. I never thought I could complete one of your puzzles.

      That said, with your challenging structures and stacks, you need more leeway in permissibility. I didn’t think you crossed any lines today, or at least not many.

  5. Andy says:

    The NYT entry THREE TENS reminded me of this picture.

  6. Evad says:

    Usually at a loss for ex-basketball players, Mr. ODOM came right to mind.

  7. pannonica says:

    NYT: Many, many plurals, especially among the downs. FACTS, LIMOS, DETOX DIETS, THREE TENS, APRILS, MISSOURIANS, BELONGINGS, USERNAMES, ACIDS, DON’TS, RTES, FALLS (as a collective singular—but I omitted THESE, which lacks a terminal -s), THOUGHTS, MGS, RAT’S NESTS, and finally, aptly, EXCESSES. I found this abundance distracting.

  8. Martin says:


    “headline from the pre-Chunnel era, “Fog In Channel – Continent Cut Off”. (Research suggests it was supposedly a common radio weather forecast in the 1930s.)

    I’m not sure if you are being a bit satirical or not, but as as ex-Brit…

    This headline is true (I only think it happened once). But, I’m a little embarrassed about having to say this, but the headline is a very famous joke. The Brits are and have been well known for their self deprecating sense of humor. This has been a famous British joke for decades. To be honest if you take it seriously, it’s a little insulting to my homeland.

    Secondly about wondering if the engineering feat of the 31 mile triple underwater highspeed rail tunnels known as the channel tunnel is a worthy engineering feat to commemorate over the last 1/4 century is a worthy candidate, I’m keen to hear your other candidates during this time period (I’m not denying there are others, probably the Dubai skycraper would be up there too. But it was mainly built by virtual Indian slave labour.

    If I have completely miss understood the tone of your post then I apologise on the other hand if you are serious I am speechless if I have completely misunderstood the tone of your post then I apologise on the other hand if you are serious I am speechless .


  9. ArtLvr says:

    Wow — not sure who’s being tetchy, but I thought the Chunnel completion well worth a puz celebration, and the puzzle was fun too. No need to apologize or apologise!

  10. Martin says:


    MEA CULPA to Amy.

    I mistakenly said that she thought my top and bottom 15s COMPUTER MONITORS and OPERATING SYSTEM were “meh”.

    She did not say anything of the kind! I’m gonna repeat that: Amy did NOT say this.

    Another blogger said he thought they were dull. Hence my poor excuse for mixing the two blog comments up. I should have reread Amy properly before commenting.

    The truth is that I was distracted, but that is beside the point. So once again I apologize. So… on with the

    MAS/Martin Ashwood-Smith

  11. sbmanion says:

    All poker hands are relative. THREE TENS in stud poker is normally a winning hand–a very good hand. However, if someone is showing three or four cards to a flush or straight on his up cards, it is marginal. THREE TENS and THREE FIVES both have the advantage of taking away all but one of the tens and fives in the deck, thus minimizing the chance of someone catching a straight.

    In hold’em, three tens is normally a winning hand. In Omaha, it is normally not a winning hand. The reason that is a dangerous hand in Omaha and to some extent hold’em correlates to the reason that it is an advantage in stud. In order to have three tens in Omaha or stud, there must be at least one ten on the board, making a straight more likely.

    One could only be said to be bluffing with three tens in games like pot limit or no limit. If there were two tens on the board in hold’em or Omaha and someone clearly had a straight or flush, a big bet might convince the person with the flush to think that the bettor had a full house. In limit poker, it is rare that three tens would be a bluffing hand.

    I am aware of most of the nicknames in poker, but usually do not use them except for “wheel” and “Broadway.” Some of my friends like to say “24” if they have four sixes, but most players roll their eyes at anything like that.

    I had absolutely no problem with the clue and answer. Three of a kind is called trips or a set and a set is a pretty good hand.

    I enjoyed the puzzle.


  12. Joe Pancake says:

    So stoked to see the nice write-up for my BuzzFeed puzzle!

    If you want to read some constructor thoughts on this puzzle, visit my blog


    • Jim Peredo says:

      Aha! Now we know who you are!

      I enjoyed reading your blog post, too. I spent many hours in college playing “Punch Out” with my roommate. Impressive how you got that southeast corner to come out so nicely. Well done!

  13. anon says:

    NYT: “57a. [Hoarders’ disorders], RATS’ NESTS. It would be nice to not play on people with a mental illness for a crossword clue, no matter how appealing the rhyme may feel.”

    I read “disorder” as “lack of order”.

  14. huda says:

    NYT: I found it both fun and remarkably doable. I had LORE for LYRE, thinking that Lore is a string of stories from the past (I still like it :). As soon as I gave up on that O and thought of the Y, the whole south fell.

    I like that MAS gets in there debating his puzzle and giving additional information. It makes it feel more like a community.

    I feel as Amy does, health-wise, except it started yesterday on an airplane trip all the way from Kuwait. No fun at all. It’s a relief to be home.

  15. Meem says:

    I, too, “heard” lack of order when I read the clue. The thought of disease never crossed my mind. But given Amy’s ongoing medical issues, I can understand what she “heard.”

  16. Amy Reynaldo says:

    People! Hoarding is a mental illness. My criticism had nothing to do with “disorder” in the clue.

    • David L says:

      I don’t agree. There are extreme kinds of hoarding that result from mental illness, to be sure. But the idea that the word ‘hoarding’ can only refer to the actions of a mentally ill person is going too far. Some people **ahem** like to amass large quantities of toothpaste when it’s on sale, for example. That would be hoarding as an example of good fiscal planning…

  17. Lois says:

    With the label of mental illness for hoarding, and your consequent desire to protect hoarders from being mentioned in a puzzle after they/we have been labeled as ill, aren’t you cutting off hoarders from the spectrum of humanity? This is often the consequence of labeling people as mentally ill.

    • aries says:

      Agreed. The trend of labeling behaviors as mental illnesses (esp. since the release of the DSM-III in 1980) over the past few decades is a discouraging one, in my opinion. The theory was that it would help overcome stigma and motivate people to seek treatment (this dovetails with the political legitimization of disease necessary for financial compensation by health insurance companies). However, labeling someone as diseased is its own stigma, and it lessens the need of self-agency in the process. Thomas Szasz wrote prolifically and critically about his own profession of psychiatry in titles such as “The Myth of Mental Illness,” “The Manufacture of Madness,” and “Pharmacracy.” See also Foucault’s “Madness and Civilization” and “Discipline and Punish.” These texts represent an extreme angle, but essentially argue that mental illness designations are a creation of the political elite in an attempt to exert social control, and as Szasz argues psychiatry represents the dark side of the “therapeutic state,” wherein psychiatrists are agents of the state, rather than serving the patient. We’re not jailing the insane anymore, but seemingly every behavior nowadays brings with it a disorder spectrum (internet addiction disorder was briefly discussed in the DSM-5, and will likely be listed as a full-blown disorder by the time the DSM-6 is released). I argue it’s a form of cultural gaslighting.

      • john farmer says:

        A lot to think about there. Thanks for that. I was surprised to learn today that compulsive hoarding is now considered a mental illness. As always, the authorities have ever-shifting ideas about what behaviors and beliefs are acceptable, or not. For several decades, homosexuality was listed as a disorder in the DSM; today, gays are okay but hoarders are not. Some pe0ple are considered delusional for believing things that are no less strange than the dogma of many religions, whose believers generally are considered sane. I tend to take a non-dogmatic view on many things (including crosswords!) and have a soft spot for eccentrics and skeptics, so I try to take whatever the authorities say with a grain of salt. Progress is made not by those who conform but by those willing to deviate from the norm. True in life, and in puzzles too.

  18. Amy L says:

    Random thoughts:

    Loved the Hawaiian dance. Thanks for including it, Amy.

    MAS: Thanks for the way you clued THREE TENS. A non-poker player like me could get it and understand it. Amazing puzzle, by the way.

    Hoarding is a mental illness? Doesn’t it depend on the extent of the hoarding? Some people are hoarders but not to where it becomes debilitating. Every office seems to have a pack rat who has stacks of paper all over the place, or so a friend has told me.

    The Chunnel factoid was a little weak as a theme, but I don’t think its 25th anniversary was being celebrated as much as just stated as fact–perhaps to make it easier to solve.

    To you people with colds: Rest, drink liquids, and do crossword puzzles. You’ll get better real soon.

  19. hirschho says:

    Any brief comment about THREE TENS?

  20. Huda says:

    My first objection to the clue for RATS NESTS is that I don’t think it fits my notion of what that expression means.
    Figuratively, a rat’s nest is a messy spot or knotted, uncombed hair. More literally, since I work with rodents, I think of rats’ nests as critical for the survival of babies, not relevant to hoarding. Hoarding is about collecting unnecessary goods out of a sense of compulsion. That’s not the drive behind a rats’ nest. So, when I got the answer, I did not think it was a particularly apt clue. And of course, I agree with what Amy picked up, that the association between hoarding and rat behavior is not exactly complimentary.
    If the answer to the Hoarders’ Disorder clue had been “compulsiveness” I would not have found it inappropriate. There are in fact disorders of behavior, thought, emotions and moods, and we need ways to acknowledge them and treat them.
    So, not my favorite clue of the day.

  21. Papa John says:

    As I see it, we’re all mentally ill (and I don’t mean just the crossword freaks out there, I mean the entire world population) and we’re each judged (diagnosed?) by the “extent of it”.

    • Lois says:

      I wish I could “like” this comment. I mean, I really LIKE this comment!

    • pannonica says:

      Interestingly, with the most recent edition, the DSM changed to Arabic numerals, DSM5. Did DSMIV appear in any crosswords?

      *nb: Hyphens in the titles not reproduced.

    • Bencoe says:

      This seems true to me. Just as no person is absolutely physically healthy, so is no person absolutely mentally healthy.

  22. Martin says:

    Thanks Sarah I’ll remember to consult your expert advice in the future. But that may be a little difficult since you permanently hide behind your psychonym.


  23. 7d5a9b1 says:

    There’s this to be said for THREETENS–with a few crossings it’s easily inferred. Unlike the entries in today’s trainwreck of an LAT: SHEREKHAN crossed with ENITOWEK and ECH; MASER with MOOCH–never heard of any of these. (Well, I have heard of an echelon, but never seen it so abbreviated.)

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