James Mulhern’s New York Times crossword—Amy’s write-up
Omigod, no! Why?? Why would anyone make a puzzle in 2016 with GHETTO BLASTER in it? And why would any crossword editor think it was acceptable and buy that puzzle? Over at Deb Amlen’s Wordplay column, Will Shortz labors to defend the entry, concluding that “it passes muster.” I disagree. The American Heritage Dictionary labels it “offensive slang.” Given that Will bent over backwards to swear off ever using SCUMBAG (which only offended people who were old enough to know the word was originally used to mean a used condom) again, it is highly disingenuous to attempt a rousing defense of a racist term. I mean, really. And citing a black constructor saying he was okay with it—well, I checked with another black constructor, who says the term is racist. (Memo to white people: If a person of color tells you something is racist, it’s wise to believe them.)
Plus, hardly anyone is using boom boxes anymore. My teenager has never heard of the term, nor its racist slang equivalent. So it’s not only a racist term that shouldn’t be in the crossword, it’s also dated.
Okay. So, the rest of the puzzle has a lot of good stuff, like VICHYSSOISE (which I always want to be VICHYSOISSE), LEBRON JAMES, Eve ENSLER (if only vagina had made it into the clue), “HERE GOES,” DIVE BAR, HACKATHON (which I’d never heard of before joining Zynga this summer), BABY BJORN (had one!), SLAM POETS, “SUITS ME,” and KENYON College.
Now tired of seeing TWO-CAR and TONE-LOC, both of which I’ve encountered in recent puzzles.
Five more things:
- 15a. [Everything included], BAR NONE. I don’t think this BAR and the one in DIVE BAR are etymologically related, but I’m sure some solvers are irked to see both in one grid.
- 37a. [New Agey sounds], OMS. Any of you use this plural word in your own conversation or writing? How about TAROS? My main grocery stores don’t seem to sell taro.
- 27d. [Quattuor doubled], OCTO. That would be Latin for 4 and 8. I really don’t think I’ve seen quattuor before, but I must have (and then thoroughly obliterated it from my memory).
- 32d. [BJ’s competitor, informally], SAM’S. Sam’s Club? Is BJ’s a membership-based retailer? Is this a New York thing? Never heard of it.
- 12d. [Creature that Dalí walked on a leash in public], ANTEATER. Because Dalí had panache, people.
4 stars for most of the puzzle, and 0 stars for 33-Across. Let’s take it to a 2.75 average.
Joseph Groat’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s write-up
The theme is based on the special senses. Each of the five is used as a clue for a long across answer, and each answer is a definition of another meaning of that sense; in each case of course the theme meaning is ultimately derived from the sense. As usual for this theme type, the definitions are tortured, and hard to predict in their precise phrasing. Most of us I suspect knew [Touch] would refer to iPods, but guessing it would be clued as IPODCOMPUTER was far less likely. Especially given that, though all MP3 players, eBook readers, cellphones and other devices are computers, they aren’t referred to as such. The rest are POINTOFINTEREST, [Sight]; COURTINQUIRY, [Hearing]; MINUSCULEAMOUNT, [Smell]; and ARTCRITICSASSET, [Taste].
Apart from having to just ignore the theme answers, the clues in general seemed very vague today. See 1A: [___ salad]. WORD? TUNA? TACO? BEAN? CORN? CRAB? SIDE?
Your hardcore Latin of the day: [Esse __ videri: North Carolina motto], QUAM. Last seen in a print crossword in 1985, from what I can gather from Matt Ginsburg’s list. And all because QUIM didn’t get the green light… If only Robert Browning had chosen to use it in his work…
Kelly Clark’s Chronicle of Higher Education crossword, “All Shook Up” — pannonica’s write-up
This one has a great title. The best title.
- 56aR [Legendary entertainer anagrammed in 20, 28, and 47 Across] ELVIS PRESLEY.
- 20a. [House of Lords member puts Princeton on the market?] PEER SELLS IVY.
- 28a. [What the Lone Ranger might find if he visits his stable at night?] SLEEPY SILVER.
- 47a. Quick conger escapes angler’s hook?] SPRY EEL LIVES.
Great title, right?
- 37d [British poet laureate from 1968 to 1972] DAY-LEWIS. Cecil, father of actor Daniel. It seems Daniel Day-Lewis has never worked with 59a [Robert who co-starred in “The Sting” and “Jaws”] SHAW, nor with Michael Sheen or Frank Langella, the stars of 1a [1977 Nixon interviewer] FROST/Nixon (2008).
- 41a [Their team colors honor the Giants and Dodgers] METS. Orange and blue, respectively. In 1957 the Giants left Manhattan and the Dodgers left Brooklyn. Bereft is the operative word here.
- Ovine doings in the southeast corner. 63a [Do a sheep-ranch chore] SHEAR crossing 53d [Noise of complaint] BLEAT.
- 55d [Brontë’s Jane and her uncle John] EYRES. Wow.
- 43d [Young with the album “After the Gold Rush”] NEIL. 16a [State called “The Mother of Presidents”] OHIO. 65a [“__ Can” (Sammy Davis Jr. memoir] YES I; David Crosby’s was Oh Yes I Can. Not finding a good Nash connection in the puzzle.
- However! Frost/Nixon was directed by Ron Howard, who also directed A Beautiful Mind, about mathematician JOHN NASH, and …
- … Themer 28a starts with SLEEPY, and 69a [Eleanor who wrote “The Hundred Dresses”] ESTES. ‘SLEEPY’ JOHN ESTES was a seminal bluesman whose most well-known song was “Milk Cow Blues”, which was covered by a young ELVIS PRESLEY in 1954!
Hey, how about that puzzle title?
Patti Varol’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post Crossword, “Archery Lesson” —Ade’s write-up
Goodbye, September! Hope you all are heading into the new month in style. Today’s crossword puzzle, brought to us by Ms. Patti Varol, taps into our inner archer (if any of us have such a thing residing in us), as each of the first words in the theme entries (or the first part of the first word) refers to an element that’s involved in archery. One of my favorite moments in watching the Olympics games this past summer was being at a bar and watching archery while talking with a few other customers about why South Korea is so good at it. We never came up with a conclusion, but we did marvel at the prowess of the South Korean women in the sport!
- BOWTIE PASTA (17A: [Farfalle])
- QUIVER WITH FEAR (27A: [Shake in one’s boots])
- ARROWHEAD WATER (48A: [Nestlé brand sold in the western United States])
- TARGET FIELD (62A: [Minnesota ballpark]) – I’ll make it there one day to watch a game!
It’s going to be a rainy day and weekend here in New York City, so there definitely will be CABS being hailed on account of the weather now (1A: [They may be called on account of rain]). Don’t usually see UTNE READER in full in a grid, so that was very nice (28D: [Alternative media digest since 1984]). One of its crossings was fill that I really liked, FLAKE (54A: [Unreliable sort]). Didn’t get stuck in any one corner, though it took almost all of its crossings to nail down SEA ANEMONE (11D: [Habitat for clown fish]). Of all of the old shows I’ve come across recently in syndication on the various channels dedicated to doing that, I don’t think I’ve come across MORK & Mindy at any point in the past few years (43D: [TV alien played by Robin Williams]). I think I might spend my Friday night channel surfing to see if Mork & Mindy is on television. Be jealous that your Friday night isn’t going to be as awesome as my night!
“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: CLEON (66A: [Jones who caught the final out of the “Miracle Mets” World Series]) – Not only did CLEON Jones make the final putout of the 1969 World Series to give the New York Mets their first world championship, he was a standout performer for the Metropolitans all season long. Jones was the starting left fielder in the 1969 All-Star Game for the National League and finished third in the NL in batting with a .340 average. The two players who finished ahead of him in batting are two players I don’t you’ve heard of before – Pete Rose and Roberto Clemente.
Have an amazing weekend, everybody! See you tomorrow!
Well, I am happy that Amy called out the GHETTO BLASTER. I knew immediately what was wanted in that space, and I am still shocked just thinking about it. A good example of “tone deaf.” Perhaps I should share here the first time I saw a beautiful break dancing performance in 1983, when I didn’t even know what it was called. It was in the middle of the afternoon in a bar in Yorkshire and the music was definitely not being blasted.
Ghetto blaster doesn’t bother me. The fact that this 5th-Friday puzzle was Wednesday-level hard, at best, does.
No, it does not pass muster. My kid knows what a boom-box is and has used the offensive term – but only once, at least in my hearing. Not OK. Sheesh.
Right. As someone old enough to have owned a boom box in the day, I can tell you the entry has been a highly offensive term all along. I also knew immediately what was wanted there, and I felt saddened it would appear in the NYT. It ruined my enjoyment of an otherwise fine puzzle.
Cecil Day-Lewis, poet laureate, also under the pseudonym “Nicholas Blake” wrote great mystery stories which were best-sellers. Once hard to find, these were recently reissued and I strongly recommend them!
I asked ESPN personality Bomani Jones about GHETTOBLASTER. He asked for the clue. His response was, “nothing offensive there to me.”
For those unfamiliar with Jones, he frequently uses his platform at ESPN to comment and make observations on matters of race and other social issues. He’s not viewed as being soft on bigotry and racists.
God help me, Rex is going to have hell in his comment section today, isn’t he? And I’m going to stick my head in there…whee. Well, at least they won’t be throwing the word cuck around.
Puzzle itself: BAGNOLD ruined me on this one unfortunately. Couldn’t get that BEBE/BAGNOLD cross, and I had it down as BABY BJORK. Dang.
My edit ran out before I could finish. Surprisingly not a lot of heat over at Rex’s place, though it is still early. Could be much worse though.
Also: Nice to be able to plunk HACKATHON down; the CS people in my department might love it.
LAT: Is there any reason the intersection of 8D and 23A couldn’t be an E rather than an I? (geniE and courtEnquiry)?
I also wonder why 8D doesn’t have a question mark. I’m often curious why such mythical, nonfiction type entries are clued as if they’re real things.
The main defense I can think of is that ENQUIRY is chiefly British, so in an American puzzle you’d expect INQUIRY. But I agree that the E is defensible, and basically as good given the clues. [Powerful lamp contents] could easily have been changed to something like [Mythical wish granters] to avoid the ambiguity.
where do I find the answers to the CS sun. 25 puzzle since Ade never did post, that I can see
I’ve posted a solution grid.
I think that including TONELOC’s hit “Funky Cold Medina” in the NYT crossword is at least as problematic as GHETTOBLASTER. FCM is a song about date rape and features some over-the-top violence against trans women :|
Thank you Pannonica, I had acouple o holes in the NW. BJS is a membership club which I believe is headquartered in Natick, Mass.
BJ’s Wholesale Club is headquartered elsewhere in Massachusetts. If you were making a crosswordy “Natick” joke, I approve!
We have BJ’s in southern NJ (where I live) and Philadelphia (where I work), but coming from the Detroit area, I had never seen one until moving east.
I thought the top was very easy, but I had some difficulty with the bottom because I did not see GHETTOBLASTER right away. I know for sure that it was not an offensive term in the inner city in Buffalo when I lived there. I frankly disagree that it is racist.
My cursory search online agrees with that assessment. Heck, Sears and Amazon advertise them as such.
Re LAT: It is Sierra NEVADA there is no plural.
It’s acceptable and common in colloquial English. It’s also redundant to call them the Sierra Nevada Mountains, but we do that as well.
Back in the day I thought GHETTOBLASTER was not only pejorative, but incorrect. The term suggests that they’re blasting IN the ghetto. But that wasn’t the case. They were blasting everywhere. On the street, in the park, at the beach, on subway cars, on buses, everywhere. It was one thing to have them accompany a show, but mostly they were being used for the listening pleasure of a single individual who seemed to feel that everyone withing a quarter mile radius wanted to share his listening pleasure. The rise of the Walkman was one of the great improvements in quality of life for New York City.
If you read Eco’s The Name of the Rose you may remember quattuor from a key image / plot point.