Wednesday, October 26, 2016

AV Club 8:45 (Ben) 


CS 8:07 (Ade) 


LAT 3:19 (Gareth) 


NYT  3:28 (Jenni) 


WSJ untimed (Jim) 


Scott Yut’s New York Times crossword—Jenni’s write-up

My emotional response to this puzzle will last far, far longer than the three minutes and twenty-eight seconds I spent solving it. I thought, back in 2015 when Will apologized to Jezebel for using [Exasperated comment from a feminist] to clue MEN – I really thought he might have learned something. And then earlier this year when we had [Decidedly non-feminist group] as the clue for HAREM, and Slate took him to task, I thought “Now! Now he’ll get it.” Well, I’ve got another answer for [Decidedly non-feminist group] – NEW YORK TIMES PUZZLE EDITORS (apologies to Margaret Farrar. I didn’t know the woman).

This time it’s not one clue/answer pair – it’s the whole frickin’ theme of the puzzle. And it’s not just tone-deaf – it’s the crossword equivalent to street harassment. Yes, The New York Times Crossword Puzzle, that august institution, is taking its cue from a creepy guy on the street who likes to scream sexual suggestions at women. And no, I’m not exaggerating, and no, I’m not over-reacting, and God help anyone who suggests that I am, or who takes me to task for the tone of my post without also taking Will and his bros to task for the tone of their puzzle. Yeah, I’m angry. In case you haven’t noticed (and since you’re here on teh interwebz, I’m guessing you’ve noticed) we are two weeks away from the end of one of the foulest, most degrading, most openly sexist political spectacles ever visited on this country.   The Republican candidate was videotaped bragging about sexual assault, and he’s made a second (or third or fourth or fifth) career out of catcalling and insulting women on Twitter.  The only halfway decent thing to come out of this campaign (aside from Hillary Clinton winning) is that we might – maybe – actually have raised the consciousness of some people about the ubiquity of sexual assault. That consciousness-raising comes at the expense of women who are reliving their assaults every time they watch the news or read racy magazines like The Economist. So don’t give me crap about my tone. Just – don’t.

What am I ranting about? We have three theme entries and a revealer (and boy, is THAT ever an appropriate turn of phrase). Each theme answer has a word hidden inside. Take a look. So to speak.

  • screen-shot-2016-10-25-at-10-07-56-pm

    NYT 10/26 puzzle – solution grid. Feh.

    18a [Source of start-up cash, perhaps] = BANK LENDING. Let me take a deep breath and acknowledge that even without the execrable sexism, this is just a lousy puzzle. BANK LENDING isn’t even close to being in the language. Bank loan, sure. Bank lending? Nope.

  • 25a [Guava or papaya] = TROPICAL FRUIT.
  • 43a [“Fast Times” school] = RIDGEMONT HIGH.

Do you see it yet? No? Well, here’s the kicker. So to speak.

  • 55a [Not dress overmodestly … or what 18-, 25- and 43-Across do?] = SHOW SOME LEG.

Seriously? SERIOUSLY?

Look, boys, this is not cute. This is not funny. This is using women’s bodies for sport. The parts of her leg are even arranged bottom-to-top as if she’s lying down with her leg in the air – and the first theme answer crosses LIBIDO for good (or bad) measure.

Great job, Times dudes. You have reminded me that even though I’m a kickass mom and a devoted wife and a really good doc and a loving daughter and a writer and a decent first alto, what I am first and foremost is a body. A woman’s body. And you’ve taken away one of the few corners of the world – certainly one of the few corners of the internet – where I thought I might escape the knowledge that men are always looking, and often touching, whether I want them to or not. I’m the mother of a teenage daughter. God forbid I should spend three minutes and twenty-eight seconds dwelling in the delusion that she is an actual human being.

And, by the way, how much leg should we show, boys? Because we will be judged no matter what we do. Ankle? Calf? Thigh?


Not ironic. Seriously.

There’s supposedly a “breakfast test” that guides Will’s decisions about what material is too distasteful for the puzzles. Adolf Hitler doesn’t pass the breakfast test (or so I’ve been told) although Idi Amin apparently does (but this post is about sexism, not racism). If I had done this puzzle over breakfast, I would have thrown my plate of eggs and toast against the wall and sent the cleaning bill to Will Shortz. Here’s another clue for you [Evidence of male privilege and insensitivity]. Give up? The answer is THIS HORRIBLE EXCUSE FOR A PUZZLE. And that’s definitely in the language.

Steven E. Atwood’s Wall Street Journal crossword, “Prefixations” — Jim’s review

Nice grid today from Steven Atwood who’s usually good for a clever twist of word. Nothing new that we haven’t seen before, but it’s a solid theme executed well.

We’re given normal English words that each already have a prefix. But those prefixes are clued as if they were actual separate words.

WSJ - Wed, 10.26.16 - "Prefixations" by Steven E. Atwood

WSJ – Wed, 10.26.16 – “Prefixations” by Steven E. Atwood

  • 18a [Design of a navy vessel with different features?] SUB VERSION. This clue feels a bit awkward for a rather bland entry.
  • 28a [Pressure of dealing with a former spouse?] EX TENSION. Nice.
  • 35a [Carfax report?] AUTO BIOGRAPHY. Good clue.
  • 42a [Educational opportunity for prisoners?] CON COURSE. Fine.
  • 55a [Company that composes insults for its clients?] DIS SERVICE. Funniest of the lot. Reminds me of this Monty Python sketch and specifically the Complaints Department at 3:58.
  • 24d [Like a very small fireplace?] MONO LOG. This was a surprise to have one Down themer in addition to the five Acrosses. It’s impressive that this one crosses three other themers (all at the Os!), but the clue doesn’t follow the pattern of the others. It’s not a bad attempt at humor, but it’s definitely not right. It still uses the prefix as a prefix (meaning one). Instead, the clue should read [Account of the spread of the kissing disease?] or something similar.

All in all though, a fun theme. I enjoy themes that use existing phrases in different ways.

Moving on. Or “in,” I should say. 8d is MOVE IN [Take up residence], and you know what I did today? I took up residence in a new home in Washington state. We’ve been living out of suitcases and temporary lodging for over three months, so today is a big day for our family. We are super happy to finally be in a home. All the furniture arrives tomorrow, though, so I’m going to be wrapped up unpacking and such. Tomorrow’s post might be a bit abbreviated.

Back to the grid. Good fill: UNAMUSED MONGOLS involved in a SKIRMISH. Speaking of British comedy (see Monty Python sketch above), SKIRMISH is the name of a fictional “military-based general knowledge quiz show on digital cable television channel, UK Conquest” hosted by fictional character Alan Partridge. Alan Partridge (played by Steve Coogan), is a “tactless and inept” radio personality whose deep insecurities would be depressing if he wasn’t so funny at making an ass of himself. I’m Alan Partridge is definitely my favorite British comedy since Monty Python. If you’re already a fan, be sure to check out the very recent fan podcast Monkey Tennis which goes over every episode in hilarious detail.

Okay, sorry about the detour. I also like the clue for EATER [No faster?] and the entry PROLIX [Long-winded]. BEAR OFF (31d, [Final stage of a backgammon game]) is completely new to me, but then I’m not a backgammon player.

Not much that made me scowl overall, but then I just watched some Monty Python and Alan Partridge videos, so I’m in a pretty good mood. Nice puzzle overall.

Erin Rhode’s AVCX crossword, “Cold Serial” — Ben’s Review

Cold Serial

Cold Serial

Hey, it’s the first puzzle from Erin Rhode since she was announced as a new addition to the constructor rotation at the AV Club earlier in the year!  This one’s a 3.5/5 in difficulty, although the theme felt a little familiar to me:

  • 18A: Streaming dramatic series about teens playing Yahtzee in the Bronx in the 1970s? — THE GET DICE 
  • 23A: Streaming mystery series filmed by putting GoPro Cameras on parasitic insects’ heads? — TOP OF THE LICE
  • 49A: Streaming comedy in which Aziz Ansari brilliantly considers the feelings of others? — MASTER OF NICE
  • 58A: Streaming comedy in which Liz Lemon works at Uncle Ben’s? — THIRTY RICE
  • 37A: Modern date, and an apt description of this puzzle’s theme — NETFLIX AND CHILL

The theme this week gave me a little bit of deja vu – I feel like sometime in the last year I’ve solved a crossword that was riffing on “Netflix and chill”, and it may have even been the AV Club.  The theme mechanic felt just a smidge inelegant to me, replacing the last three letters of currently streaming series on Netflix (The Get Down, Top of the Lake, Master of None, and 30 Rock) with ICE doesn’t quite pass muster with me.  At this point I’m nitpicking, but 30 Rock was originally a network show (unlike the rest of the shows used, which all originated on streaming services), and isn’t spelled out as Thirty Rock, so it felt like the odd man out here.


Enough griping for now – there were plenty of things to like in the rest of the fill:

  • 20A: Innuendo-laden eggplant, for one — EMOJI

    This pumpkin will disappear in 10 seconds.

    (we had a pumpkin carving thing at work last Friday and my team carved the ghost emoji into ours)

  • 47A: Where Godwin’s Law originated — USENET (tried to make this THE NET at first, which is sort of correct, but not fully)
  • 65A: Online marketplace where you can buy many kinds of bedazzled leaf crown — ETSY (if you’re in the market for a faux floral crown, let me know.  I have a cousin who does this)
  • 10D: Language on the Cadfan stone in Tywyn — OLD WELSH (nailed this one on the first try with no crossing letters and felt mighty proud, y’all.)
  • 38D: “Alien” workers? — FILM CREW (thought this was clever)
  • 46D: Former Twins pitcher Jim with sixteen Gold Glove awards — KAAT (this is the clue where, even without an author credit, I would have known Erin Rhode wrote the puzzle)
  • 52D: A goat-related one will allegedly prevent the Cubs from winning the World Series — CURSE (nooooooooooo!  Rooting for you, Chicago!)
  • 54D: Code with a deprecated blink tag — HTML (remember when every webpage had blinking text?  I would say those were the good old days, but we deprecated that functionality for a reason.)

3/5 stars for me – the theme here still needed a little polish, but the rest of the fill was pretty good.

Donna S. Levin’s CrosSynergy/Washington Post Crossword, “Add-Ons” —Ade’s write-up

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 10.26.16: "Add-Ons"

CrosSynergy/Washington Post crossword solution, 10.26.16: “Add-Ons”

Good afternoon, everyone! I hope you’re all doing well and/or having lunch as good as the spaghetti and meatballs I’m having at the moment. Oh, this is a crossword blog, not a food blog. Today’s crossword, brought to us by Ms. Donna S. Levin, is all about puns, as well-known nouns are altered by adding “ON” to them and creating a new phrase and meaning.

  • FLAGON WAVER (20A: [Customer trying to get the barkeep’s attention?]) – Flag waver.
  • DILLON PICKLE (27A: [“Gunsmoke” marshal’s sticky wicket?]) – Dill pickle.
  • DRAGON RACING (49A: [Sports contest where the mounts have fiery breath?]) – Drag racing.
  • BATON MOBILE (61A: [Ozawa-Calder collaboration]) – Batmobile.

If you like your crosswords with hints of politics in it, then this definitely is the grid for you, with the clues and/or entries pertaining to GORE (18A: [Bush-whacked 2000 candidate]), LLOYD (37A: [Bentsen who told Dan Quayle he was “no Jack Kennedy”]), KOCH (30D: [New York City mayor who became a television judge]) and, in a way, the NRA (50D: [Gun lovers’ lobby (abbr.)]). Also, there’s a whole bounch of idyllic places to reside in, both real and mythical/biblical, including UTOPIA (54A: [Shangri-la]), EDEN (32D: [Paradisiacal place]) and OAHU, a place I really want to go to sometime soon (14A: [Diamond Head’s Island]). But I’ll be in a paradisiacal place tomorrow: Pittsburgh, PA. At least, according to Pittsburghers, it’s paradise.

“Sports will make you smarter” moment of the day: SERENA (24A: [Star that’s close to Venus?]) – What more needs to be said that hasn’t already been said about the one of the greatest, if not the greatest, women’s tennis player of all time, SERENA Williams? Well, I won’t say anything, but I will put up a picture of her that one of my photographers, Robert Cole, shot of her while we were covering the 2016 US Open early last month. Fierce, isn’t she?


Have a great rest of your Wednesday, everyone! I’ll be coming to you from the Steel City tomorrow.

Take care!


Patti Varol’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s write-up

LA Times 161026

LA Times

This theme isn’t much – 11/13/11 – you might say it’s mere [Peanuts] –  CHICKENFEED, SMALLPOTATOES or even CHUMPCHANGE.

It does make it easy to construct a clean puzzle. In fact, I’d say this makes a very good Monday for a Wednesday. It’s clean, but there aren’t so many standout answers – mostly vocab like GEWGAW and STARSHIP (no link) – and the clues are Monday-level: over the plate.


3.5 Stars

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97 Responses to Wednesday, October 26, 2016

  1. Ethan says:

    For me, the issue was the *clue* for the revealer. Why put a value judgment on showing some leg or not? Why bring in “modesty” and all the baggage that comes with that concept? Why not just clue it as “what basketball uniforms do” or something gender-neutral like that? If that had been the clue, I suspect the puzzle would not have aroused the same reaction. Of course, I am a male, so take my comments with a grain of salt, lest I be accused of the dreaded mansplaining.

    • ===Dan says:

      Do you really think “show some leg” appears as a phrase in the language in anything other than the sense that Jenni is talking about? If “what basketball uniforms do” is a legitimate clue, then “expose the knee” would be an equally valid answer. But you’d never see that phrase in a grid, because it’s just a meaningful string of words: it’s not any sort of common expression. And the common expression that “justifies” the revealer is only the one that Jenni’s talking about, I think (or possibly an allusion to that sole sense).

      • Ethan says:

        Eh, to be honest I don’t know how in the language “show some leg” is regardless. My point is that not covering the leg is neither an inherently good or bad thing to do, so the clue’s use of “overmodestly” brought on the perception of value judgments and the invocation of sexist societal norms. There are also plenty of places in the world where it is a taboo for men to wear shorts in public.

        • Jenni Levy says:

          That “eh” says a lot, Ethan. I would suggest you ask some of the women you know if they think the phrase is “in the language.” It is. It’s in the language because we are told to “show a little leg.” A cursory Google search shows a scene from “Criminal Minds” and a lyric from Christina Aguilera. Your male privilege is showing if you don’t think it’s “in the language.”

  2. Lou says:

    45-Down clued as “Onetime, for-girls-only course, for short” simply wrong as boys take HOME EC too

    • Gary R says:

      I think that’s the point of “Onetime…” Boys didn’t used to take HOME EC – they took “Shop.” (I’m 60 years old, so maybe this is an old-timer’s clue/answer.)

      Alternatively, I suppose “Onetime” might refer to the fact that they don’t call Home Ec “Home Ec” anymore.

    • Gareth says:

      In 1997, I wasn’t allowed to take home economics and had to take woodwork (which I assume is, basically, “shop”.) Don’t know if it’s changed at the school, but I suspect it hasn’t, and it’s a goverment-run school!

  3. alex says:

    Hi Jenni,

    Thanks for your write-up. Forgive me if this sounds rude, but I would like to understand further. Would it ever be appropriate for someone to use the phrase “show[ing] some leg”? Or does that inherently say, as you put it, that a woman is “first and foremost a body”?

    Would this crossword be more acceptable if it appeared in a fashion magazine?

    • Jenni Levy says:

      It is never appropriate as a suggestion. Never. Not ever. I don’t read fashion magazines, so I can’t speak for their audience.

  4. Dbs says:

    Washington Post crossword puzzle— what page is it on today? Is it missing?

  5. ArtLvr says:

    The stain on the body politic will be noted in history books, but it won’t lead to civil war. My O’Nasheous take:

    The Groping Galoot is a Mobius Loop,
    All surface with only one side.
    His focus is bogus, a fillip of goop:
    A paean to unweening pride.

  6. Huda says:

    NYT: I make a point of rating the puzzle before reading the review, and I gave this puzzle a high rating. And then I read your review, Jenni, and I was surprised that it had not even occurred to me that the puzzle was offensive. I focused on the fact that I had no idea what the theme was and was surprised and amused by the literal take on the expression. I think of “showing some leg” as something people can do voluntarily, sometimes for convenience and sometimes to flirt. I realize it has a sexual connotation but I had not seen it as an assaultive one. I realize this might have been a simple-minded and superficial reaction to it, but it’s the one I had.
    I am completely and totally with you in terms of my sense of outrage about what went down during this campaign. I shudder at the thought of young girls hearing the news or some boys thinking this behavior is remotely acceptable. With my advanced age and exposure to a variety of cultures, I thought I had a read on the world . Until recently with the influx of young women into some areas of science, I’ve lived in a male dominated field and had to navigate all sorts of issues, and I realize that sadly a lot of craziness continues. Still, I’ve found a lot of what has recently happened simply stunning, and truly disheartening.
    I simply wanted to relate these two facts…that I’m with you on the general situation we’re living through but I did not perceive this puzzle as offensive.

  7. dh says:

    WSJ 40-A: “Fiction Expert = LIAR”. I think if that person were truly an expert, they would not be known as a liar.

  8. Scott says:

    Seriously? It’s just a puzzle!

  9. Amy Reynaldo says:

    I had dinner with a couple longtime friends last weekend. One told us about a recent experience she had in downtown Chicago. There were two men in suits on the sidewalk, one trying to hail a cab. His friend (who apparently wasn’t even trying to flag down a taxi?) berated him for his inability to get a cab, impugned his masculinity, said my female friend would be able to get a cab faster than he would, and told my friend (a 51-year-old woman), to “show some leg.” This crap is still festering in the real world, and it would be great if our crossword puzzles wouldn’t shore up the sexist status quo.

  10. dave glasser says:

    AVC: I had the same concern about original Netflix shows, but when I checked I learned Top of the Lake wasn’t a Netflix original either. Fun puzzle though (been waiting for Erin’s debut!)

  11. Michel Hobbes says:

    Jenni, Jenni, Jenni…way to overthink it. This is exactly the kind of oversensitivity that is making us into a nation of namby pamby weaklings. Perceived offense….run for the safe space. Is there no end to this silliness? It’s a crossword puzzle not an exercise in feminist psychology. As for your need invoke the current political campaign I would like to suggest that your political preference doesn’t matter one whit when it concerns a crossword puzzle critique. That kind of gratuitous left wing flag waving is as sickening as the political correctness that has spawned the language police.

  12. Papa John says:

    I don’t want to get into the mess about sexist insults but the revealer is not an imperative, i.e., telling a woman to show some leg; rather it’s merely describing what the fill is doing. Although the phrase “showing some leg” may imply a female appendage, the clue isn’t explicit.

    I also see the order of the leg parts as becoming more revealing as one ascends from ankle to thigh, as opposed to Jenni’s illusion to ‘legs up in the air”.

    If a woman is wearing a mini-skirt or shorts is she not showing some leg? Who tells these women to show some leg when they don these togs? Is she being an exhibitionist for doing so? Is an observer a sexist for stating she’s showing some leg? (Damn! I was so trying to stay out of the fray!)

    Since I’m in it, I may as well go all the way — “…read racy magazines like The Economist” — or Cosmopolitan or Bust?

    And — “…what material is too distasteful for the puzzles” – are you implying that legs and leg parts are distasteful?

    What’s with the veiled threat — “I’m not over-reacting, and God help anyone who suggests that I am”? Should Scott and Michel (see above comments) being taking cover?

    The neuropathy in my legs reminds me, constantly, that “what I am first and foremost is a body”. I can be the nicest guy in the world but the pain will not go away. I carry sexual urges in myself in the same way as that pain. It’s part of my biological make-up and I see no reason to apologize for being aroused by the sight of a woman.

  13. lemonade714 says:

    The problem from a male perspective is that while your concerns are are well spoken and understandable, they may not be the concerns of women in general and are at the very least confusing for men. I have a great deal of respect for all genders, races and beliefs, but magazines that purport to be women’s magazines, or fashion magazines continue to affirm the stereotypical roles. The simple fact that you dismiss fashion magazines at a time when many millions of your sisters read them suggests that you are in fact limiting your perspective. Men are also encouraged to take their shirts off. I wonder what the end game you seek really is. Men and women are different. I think the focus should truly be on all people showing respect to all others, but let us not try and eliminate the differences nor take humor out of life.
    You certainly are entitled to your opinion, but if you have already sentenced fashion magazines to purgatory, do you still have an informed opinion?

    • Commenter says:

      What do you suspect the “end game” is?

      • Amy Reynaldo says:

        It’s almost certainly manocide. All part of the vagenda of manocide.

        Fashion magazines have some good content. Melissa Harris-Perry is working for Elle now. Cosmo ran Barack Obama’s essay about being a feminist. Marie Claire and Glamour have also had their feminist pieces. However, what pays for that journalism is largely fashion and cosmetics advertising and the editorial content that presents a fairly limited view of what “beauty” is (tall, very thin, not too dark-skinned, always spending money on makeup and haircare products).

        • Papa John says:

          “…vagenda of manocide.”

          Thanks for that, Amy. It all makes perfect sense to me, now. (Where do these guys come from?!?!)

          For those of you who haven’t clicked on the link Amy provided, I strongly urge you to so. It’s a hoot!

  14. Sarah says:

    The revealer seems like a made-up phrase, that’s its bigger problem.

  15. Jack says:

    I asked my wife of 49 years to read Jenny’s comments and tell me what she thought. When she finished reading, she looked up and said, “Is she bipolar?”

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      That is pretty damned insulting to both Jenni and people with bipolar disorder, isn’t it? I’d simply delete your comment but I want you to know it’s not cool.

      • Jenni Levy says:

        Well, I don’t think people with bipolar disorder are irrational, deluded, or otherwise less human than the rest of us, so I’m not insulted, although I’m sure that’s how it was intended. I don’t like having my name misspelled when it’s right up there on the post – that always makes me wonder if people are actually reading what they respond to.

        Isn’t it funny how angry women are presumed to be mentally ill? By “funny” I mean “old, tired, and misogynist.” And yes, before you say this was a comment ostensibly made by a woman, women can also be misogynists. It’s the patriarchy. We’re soaking in it.

        • Amy Reynaldo says:

          Right. Insulting to you because it suggests that your anger is because you must be mentally ill, rather than rationally angry about a very specific thing.

    • Rex says:


      Fuck you.

  16. JohnV says:

    AVC: way too one dimensional to be a fair solve. Hated it. Foul.

  17. Jack says:

    I agree I probably should have rephrased my wife’s (actual) comment, but frankly we both saw Jenni’s outburst as so unreasonable a response to so innocuous a set of clues and theme as to make us wonder at her state of mind. This is extremist overreaction. So help me God.

    • Deb says:

      Praying isn’t going to help you now, Jack. I would honestly suggest apologizing to Jenni and spelling her name correctly when you do, because that was really dismissive. If a male blogger had said these things, would you have been so quick to have that reaction?

      There is nothing extreme about being angry about having this stuff shoved down your throat day in and day out. Having people objectify you in an insulting way and then getting reactions like yours when calling it out is all part and parcel of how women are treated. If it doesn’t sound familiar to your wife, perhaps she has internalized it to the point where she no longer *knows* how she feels about it.

      Similarly, some women still buy fashion magazines because many still buy into the idea that no matter what they do, they are never good enough, attractive enough or well-dressed enough unless they buy the products in the ads. They still rely on other people to tell them how to look, what to *be,* even just for a season. So the argument (made by someone else in this thread) that this is OK because women still buy fashion magazines is hogwash and you know it.

      • Jenni Levy says:

        And, to be clear, I didn’t condemn fashion magazines. I said I don’t read them. I also don’t read motorcycle magazines or cross-stitch magazines. So?

  18. Chris says:

    Can we just have Jenni (yes with an I) not do any more write-ups for awhile? I think we need to all just get along.

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      If her write-ups trouble you, you’re welcome not to read them. I appreciate Jenni’s perspectives.

      The onus for “getting along” when it comes to sexism is on men. Women can’t dismantle the patriarchy (just as people of color can’t undo systemic racism).

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      Also, it’s pretty shady to use a fake name and email address for this comment. All your other Fiend comments from the same IP address use another name and address, S.

    • dave glasser says:

      Can we just have you not do any more comments for awhile?

  19. John from Chicago says:

    If anyone cares, you should go to Wordplay and read the constructor’s notes. What Jenni’s concern is the furthest thought from what the constructor had in mind. Actually, his idea was a male version of this:

    • Jenni Levy says:

      Intent does not equal impact. Somewhere along the way someone should have realized what the impact would be. He does not get a pass.

  20. Sean says:

    Jenni’s reaction is ridiculous. Every day something is bound to upset me. Unfair treatment or expectations. Poor or dangerous drivers. Idiots in the news. People kneeling. People killing others. Corporations taking advantage. Politicians cheating, lying or otherwise being immoral. On and on. What makes me decent is that I keep it to myself or my close friends. I don’t tell the world or teh interwebs how to behave. The world is a complicated place with millions of opinions and innate behaviors.

    But what humors me most about Jenni and her ilk is how they can demand others’ behaviors and send them a bill for her shortcomings.

    Be less a temperamental brat and learn to calmly deal with your perceived injustices.

    Yeah Amy, I’ll go away.

  21. Craig says:

    Wow. Just wow. The mansplaining here is really over the top.

    Women are sufficiently often asked by assholes to “show some leg”. It’s not new. It’s like catcalling, and hell, it’s often part of it. This doesn’t happen to men, and that’s why the phrase carries the baggage it does. It’s not hard to understand.

    Denying that the phrase is sexist is either willful ignorance or a blatant inability to empathize. I don’t know which one is worse.

  22. Jenni has been kind enough to blog Wednesdays for me, as it’s quite difficult solving and reviewing in a timely manner one-handed while feeding an infant. My review of this puzzle would have gone much like Jenni’s, but with less eloquence and more typos.

    The upside to toting around young children is that there is generally less catcalling and other harassment. Probably partly from the children’s presence, and partly from looking like I have fewer than zero craps to give about showing some leg, or smiling, or doing whatever with my body that some man feels entitled to tell me to do.

    Thank you, Jenni, for putting into words what many women thought but what I could not have said quite as well.

  23. Craig says:

    As for the deflection of the Patrick O’Brian books, there, the characters “show a leg”. They do not “show some leg”. The devil’s in the details.

  24. Jim Firenze says:

    The notes from the constructor seem reasonably as if he wasn’t trying to engender Jenni’s ire:

    Scott Yut notes:
    This being my very first published crossword puzzle, I’m quite pleased about seeing it in print. I started constructing a few years ago after solving more and more puzzles. Thought I’d try my hand being on the other side. I started from ground zero, even submitting a few puzzles that didn’t follow the basic rules of construction. Not a good move, but they were so much easier to build when I could make up the rules as I went along.
    The theme for this puzzle came to me in a bit of a flash. I was standing on a curb as a friend was pulling up in a car to pick me up. Fooling around, I stuck my leg out and pretended to hitch up my skirt so as to get a lift as a hitchhiker. Because I had been reading Patrick O’Brian novels about Captain Jack Aubrey and the Royal Navy, “show a leg” popped into my head because it is a phrase that frequently appeared in those books. Back in that time period, gentlemen “showed a leg” when they stuck out a stockinged leg and bowed by way of introduction. I was looking for crossword themes at the time so whenever some odd phrase popped into my head, I bounced it around for crossword angles and fell upon “show some leg” and theme answers that had leg parts in them. When I hit upon RIDGEMONTHIGH, it felt like I might have something good.
    The editors seemed to like the idea right from the get go, though not the initial theme execution. I am green at this stuff, so their comments were very welcome and very helpful. After a fair amount of back and forth, I finally got something that seemed to work pretty well. I was instructed to build for a Monday puzzle and was surprised to see it coming out as a Wednesday.

    • Jenni Levy says:

      See above re: intent, impact and not getting a pass. That is not the same phrase, and someone should have realized it. Perhaps someone would have if there were more women working for Will Shortz, and he listened to them.

    • austin says:

      “Fooling around, I stuck my leg out and pretended to hitch up my skirt so as to get a lift as a hitchhiker.”

      haha! as a joke i pretended to use my body as currency, like a woman would!

      nope, nothing offensive about that.

  25. Chuck says:

    Wow, the NYT critique was far more offensive than the puzzle itself!

    Hehe, Jenni is the anti-Trump! Should trademark that. Someone who says something equally buffoonish, but from the other end of the spectrum of propriety.

    • pannonica says:

      “Actually”, your characterization of Jenni being offended as offensive is doubling-down on the offensiveness. #nopuppet4eva

  26. Amy Reynaldo says:

    It’s amazing how invested some men are in insisting that sexism doesn’t exist and that women’s reactions are spurious. Guys! Why don’t you smile more? Just relax!

  27. Amy Reynaldo says:

    I’m heartened by the number of men I’ve heard from (here and elsewhere) who are not at all in agreement with the male commenters who deride “political correctness” and accuse women of inventing offenses or overreacting. You know what kind of men women like? The kind who don’t dismiss their responses as incorrect, hypersensitive, or crazy.

  28. Chuck says:

    I believe every woman should have the right to “show some leg” without it being deemed offensive. Men too, for that matter, although that may be more along the lines of “show some chest”.

    Gone are the days, in this country, where even showing a little ankle was deemed inappropriate for a woman, thankfully. Maybe it HAS gone a little far in the opposite extreme in places where it still might be inappropriate — say, in the workplace, — but “showing some leg” at an Oscars ceremony seems fine to me.

    The problem of the review for me — because of being a man no doubt — was that it was squarely aimed at men in general. The Kardashian-watching generation of women (and men) probably play a large part in generating this bad stereotype. So, maybe the first two paragraphs above were not what was being addressed with the review, yet I believe many, many, many women would disagree with it for this reason.

    Either way, this is a “first world” issue where something as innocuous as the phrase “show some leg” generates so much ire. That rage might better be channeled to confronting the systemic misogyny that occurs in other countries that enFORCE the cover-up of the female body. PC or not, the review exposed a bit of shelteredness of the reviewer where THIS issue consumed so much of her time and energy when there are clearly unambiguous, inarguable, non-PC things going on in the world to do with women (Trump’s statements being written off as ‘locker room talk’ and accepted by some as such, being one of them).

    As far as dragging in politics, couldn’t agree more with that part of the review, yet don’t want to see it here. I do crosswords to get away from the current political clusterf$ck in the news, so was annoyed that I couldn’t avoid it here (where generally it’s kept to a minimum).

    • e.a. says:

      chuck, i have questions:
      -the puzzle was constructed by a man and edited by a man, so female sexual agency (“the right to ‘show some leg'”) enters into it where exactly?
      -your problem with jenni’s post about street harassment and objectification of women’s bodies is that it’s aimed at men? ??? ?????
      -please don’t try to trivialize legitimate concerns about systemic misogyny in The crossword puzzle by bringing up other countries and impugning the reviewer as sheltered. you can channel your ire where you want, but you don’t get to tell other people what they can and can’t get upset about. wait this is supposed to be a question. uh. what gives you the right
      thanks in advance

      • pannonica says:

        And here I thought that Chuck had cut through the buzzing nonsense and Explained It All for everyone.


        • Jenni Levy says:

          I particularly enjoyed Chuck’s complaint that I contaminated his politics-free zone with my anger about having my space invaded by misogyny. With, apparently, absolutely no clue.

      • Chuck says:

        Jenni turned the puzzle into something it was not, then extemporized and built upon that false basis. <- (IMO) Your comment of "…enters into it where exactly?" is spot on, both for my post and her review.

        Also, she used the technique of "screaming" her opinion, pugnaciously challenging people to disagree, in order to somehow prove her point, which, IMO, is the style by which Trump (puerilely) attempts to make himself heard, and something that should be retired from both politics and personal discourse.

        There. Shorter and simpler, but probably just as grating to those who disagree, for which I apologize. Trying to provide a different point of view, with my "right" to provide another opinion based upon thousands of interactions with women, along with a family full of strong, intelligent women who speak their minds.

        • e.a. says:

          some more quick q’s:
          -are you familiar with the concept of tone policing
          -is it your position that we should value your expertise on these topics because you (a man) have interacted with a large number of women
          -does the puzzle need to be unambiguously inarguably offensive for you to empathize with and support your fellow community member who was offended by it

        • Amy Reynaldo says:

          Jenni didn’t “turn it into something it was not.” You are merely declaring your perception and opinion to be somehow more valid than hers. It is not.

          • Gary R says:


            You’re correct – there’s a difference of opinion here – but Chuck is not the only one who believes his (or her) opinion is somehow more valid than others. (Rex was at his [Ahem] erudite best in demonstrating that.)

            I thought Jenni’s observation about the puzzle’s revealer had merit. I also thought the vehemence of her reaction to it was a bit over the top. And I think that “over the top” reactions often work against the cause/position they support, by focusing attention on the reaction as opposed to the original issue/offense – and that’s the unfortunate part.

            But, if we can have a presidential election that works this way, why can’t we have a crossword blog that works this way, too?

          • Amy Reynaldo says:

            Gary R: Please see e.a.’s note on tone policing above.

          • Gary R says:

            Yup – respectfully disagree.

  29. Chuck says:

    Amy, no, just equally valid.

    I think Gary hit on it best. I probably would’ve given more thought and consideration toward Jenni’s view had she done it more evenly.

    I WILL think twice about using the phrase “show some leg” going forward, so her rant and the responses to it — albeit inflammatory in her case and excusatory in the latter — maybe did SOMEthing to drill it into this thick male head. :-)

    So, maybe I lost this argument, but ….. this blog is RIGGED!!! :-)

    • e.a. says:

      chuck, i appreciate that you’re open to exercising restraint on this particular phrase going forward.

      a more general point i hope you’ll consider: if jenni was being “over the top” in her post, it’s not because she’s a bully or a demagogue. it’s (correct me if i’m wrong, jenni) because of all the times she and others spoke out on issues like this one, at what you’d consider to be an acceptable volume, only to be met with crickets at best, derision at worst (scroll up), and always a lack of evidence that those concerns were being addressed by those who have the power to do so. what can one do at that point but get louder?

      so my question is: what can we – you, me, commenters, constructors, editors – do to make jenni et al. secure in the knowledge that they will be supported, and their concerns heard, no matter how they choose to express themselves?

  30. Gary R says:

    … what can we – you, me, commenters, constructors, editors – do to make jenni et al. secure in the knowledge that they will be supported, and their concerns heard, no matter how they choose to express themselves?

    e.a. – That’s a very difficult standard to aspire to – and maybe not an appropriate one. The way one chooses to express herself/himself matters. Increasingly, it seems to me that people don’t appreciate that today. Do you want to assure Donald Trump fans that they will be supported, and their concerns heard, no matter how they choose to express themselves?

    Sorry – I know that’s far outside the context of a crossword blog. But at the same time, a crossword blog is just another part of the discourse we engage in day-to-day. Here, I’d prefer to think that we are all generally “friends,” with a common interest. So to keep it civil, and to help the bloggers (and commenters) feel safe in expressing their opinions, I’d suggest three things to think about before you hit “Post Comment”

    (1) Recognize that whatever your opinion might be, there is someone out there with a different opinion – and the person with the other opinion is not necessarily “evil,” “stupid,” or “out of touch.”
    (2) Recognize that no matter how confident you are of your opinion, there’s the possibility you’re wrong.
    (3) Never post anything you wouldn’t want your mother to read (hey, Rex!)

    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      I can’t speak for Rex’s mom, but I know my mom would be cool with me telling someone to fuck off for simultaneously calling someone mentally ill for expressing feminist anger and insulting mentally ill people by using them to deride someone.

      • Gary R says:

        Without getting into whether that was the appropriate interpretation of the comment Rex was responding to, I’ll stand by my previous comment – how you respond matters.

        In the household I grew up in, Rex’s response would be written off – “Why pay attention to the opinion of someone who doesn’t understand how to express his opinion in a civil way?”

        “Fuck off” is the comment of someone who isn’t able to/doesn’t want to/won’t take the time to put together a comment that might be persuasive. My mother would have been appropriately dismissive.

    • e.a. says:

      ok your guidelines are groovy, but, like, hold up, y’all get that equating jenni with donald trump is fully ridiculous, right? you get that loud misogyny and loud decrial of misogyny are not equally reprehensible because equally loud, right? yes?

      • Gary R says:

        Like, y’all get that I didn’t equate Jenni’s comments with Donald Trump, right?

        Like, y’all get that I wasn’t being loud, and I wasn’t decrying (denying?) misogyny, right?

        But I’m happy that I can feel safe expressing my opinions on this blog. Thanks for your tolerance, e.a.

        • Amy Reynaldo says:

          Yes, Gary, we got that you weren’t decrying misogyny. Team Fiend is big on decrying misogyny, racism, homophobia, and transphobia. When people pipe up to tell us to hush with the decrying of such things, we don’t take kindly to it. We haven’t deleted those comments, but they sure are tiresome.

        • e.a. says:

          sorry if my question was unclear. let me try to break it down a little:

          loud misogyny = e.g., rallying against a woman politician by focusing on her gender, in a tone that might be considered uncivil
          loud decrial of misogyny = e.g., protesting misogynist references in a crossword puzzle, in a tone that might be considered uncivil

          i understand that you object to the tone in both cases. what i was asking was: you understand that, despite that, these two cases are not equally bad, right? can you see how the power dynamics at play here would maybe justify one anger more than the other?

      • Chuck says:

        I’ll respond to this one even if it was aimed at Gary, because my original comment was inappropriate and meant to be hyperbolic, but I didn’t couch it that way:


        • Jenni Levy says:

          Chuck, I suspect you believe that your tone is measured and reasonable and a model for discourse of difficult subjects. It lands on me as patronizing and dismissive.

          e. a. is correct when he says that calm and reasoned statements of my reaction to misogyny are not received with gratitude and apologies. They are, in general, ignored – except for the time I was fired.

          You are asking me to be concerned about your sensibilities while showing barely a trace of concern about mine. You seem to think that his has not occurred to me before. I have spent my lifetime being told to sit down and be quiet. I am done with that.

          • Chuck says:

            Thanks for the personal reach-out Jenni. I hereby apolologize. As sincerely as the internet lets me. If we were face to face you’d know it was sincere.

            I actually talked this over with my wife and she got me to understand exactly what you just laid out about the “why” of your tone.

            As far as MY tone, apparently there’s a word for it which I learned from this thread — Mansplaining. Hehe, I’m afraid that’s too ingrained in all of my kind, I’m aware of it, try not to do it, and try not to get too defensive when somebody points it out.

            Over and out,
            Chuck Dawkins

  31. Jenni Levy says:

    Chuck, we’ve run out of reply options, so I’ll put this here. Your most recent reply is the only one in this thread that actually surprises me. Thank you. Mansplaining is not ingrained in all of your kind – there are plenty of male commenters in this thread who have avoided it. So I have hope.


  32. sbmanion says:

    I have never used nor would I ever use the phrase “show some leg.” I have seen it as I stand in the grocery checkout line and see the articles in Cosmo, Glamour, etc.

    But my first thought was of the most elegant, sensual dance I have ever seen in which the dress is as important as the beauty of the dancer:


    • Amy Reynaldo says:

      Hang on, Mr. Man. Her dress and her beauty are the important things, and not her skill, her partner’s skill, the man’s sheer shirt and form-fitting pants, the man’s sensual moves? You’re definitely applying the male gaze here, but it’s not a universal thing at all.

      Also? That dress is hideous.

      • pannonica says:

        Not for me to speak for sbmanion, but it could be that he was referring to the beauty of the dancer’s artistry, but chose an unfortunate shorthanded manner of expressing that, given the hothouse atmosphere at present.

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