Friday, April 6, 2018

CHE 6:12 (Laura) 


LAT 6:18 (Gareth) 


NYT  7:25 (Jenni) 


David Steinberg’s New York Times crossword—Jenni’s write-up

I suspect ratings of triple-stack puzzles have a bimodal distribution – you either love them or you hate them. I love them. It’s so satisfying to start out with that sea of white squares and fill them all in. One of the criticisms of triple-stack puzzles is that they’re too easy, since you can fill in nearly half the puzzle with six answers. People also complain (justifiably) about the repetition of 15-letter answers. David got around the second objection by making this a 16×15 puzzle, and I don’t think it was too easy.

NYT 4/6, solution grid

The triple stack at the top:

  • 1a [Someone who cares too much?] is HELICOPTER PARENT. The question mark makes it clear that David isn’t saying the real issue is an excess of caring, which is good, because it’s not. I suspect he means “cares too much” as in “does too much” and I have officially won the overthinking prize for the day.
  • 17a [Serious competition] is A RUN FOR ONES MONEY. This was the first in the stack to fall for me.
  • 18a [It sends waves through waves] is a SONIC DEPTH FINDER. New to me because I am not a mariner. A quick Google search shows that it’s definitely a thing and a completely fair entry.

The bottom three:

  • 57a [Sophomoric rejoinder] is THAT’S WHAT SHE SAID. The clue almost saves this entry for me. Almost. “Sophomoric,” in my mind, means “juvenile.” The phrase is juvenile and crass, but that’s not the real problem with it. The real problem is that it’s misogynistic.
  • 61a [1958 Bobby Freeman hit covered by the Beach Boys and the Ramones] is DO YOU WANT TO DANCE. I tried it first as “wanna” instead of “want to” because that’s how I’ve always heard the lyrics.
  • 62a [Be beneficial to] is STAND IN GOOD STEAD. That phrase always sounds redundant to me although “stand” and “stead” are not really synonymous.

A few other things:

  • 19a [College Board offering, for short] is PSAT. Between this and 1a, this is an anxiety-provoking puzzle for the mother of a high school senior who does not yet know where she is going to college.
  • 6d [A large quantity] looked obvious to me, so I dropped OF in at the ending. Wrong. It’s OODLES, which is just a fun word.
  • 11d [Pressure meas.] also fooled me. It’s PSF, pounds per square foot, and not PSI, pounds per square inch.
  • 31d [Quick way through a toll plaza] is the EZPASS LANE. I wonder how this landed for folks who don’t live in the northeast US? It was a gimme for  me, but then I do live in the northeast US.
  • 59d [Teens fight, for short] is WW I because it’s not about teenagers, it’s about the 19-teens.

What I didn’t know before I did this puzzle: See above re: SONIC DEPTHFINDER. I also didn’t know the Ramones covered DO YOU WANT TO DANCE.

Nate Cardin’s Chronicle of Higher Education crossword, “He Who Shall Not Be Named” — Laura’s review

HE shall not be named, nor shall HE be included in any of the four themers, thus:

CHE - 4.6.18 - Cardin - Solution

CHE – 4.6.18 – Cardin – Solution

  • [17a: Culinary judge at an Idaho fair?]: TATER CRITIC
  • [24a: A for Amstel, B for Budweiser, C for Coors, etc.?]: BREW ALPHABET
  • [49a: Priest’s magnanimous exclamation at a gallery opening?]: BLESS YOUR ART
  • [60a: Conservative in the British Parliament who is prone to violent outbursts?]: BIG BANG TORY

Congratulations to Nate, whom some Fiend readers might know from his MGWCC guest puzzles and his inspiring editorship of the Queer Qrosswords project (if you haven’t gotten your copy yet, go to! To date, the project has made over $13,000 for LGBTQ+ charities!). One of Nate’s goals for Queer Qrosswords was to mentor and publish new constructors, so for that reason I’m especially psyched to blog his debut in a national print publication.

Whose sled, you ask?

Most days, a well-executed simple theme is all I want in a 15x puzzle, and this is a fine example of your standard letter-deletion theme-type. You’ve got your AXOLOTL, MUZAK, and FAULKNER as some fun, Chronicle-worthy fill, plus a nod to the higher-ed readership with DEANS and expert-level science-trivia terms like STOMA and TAIGA. Regarding [43d: Sled in movie lore]: ROSEBUD, if you were wondering exactly which movie, @abmartinson just yesterday on Twitter coined the term Rosebud interval as the minimum length of time that should pass before one may publish spoilers for various cultural artifacts. So the Rosebud interval for, say, Citizen Kane (1939), or any movie with a BIG SECRET MYSTERY is maybe a few years, but what’s the Rosebud interval for a crossword? A week or so? It would need to be enough time for regular normal people who aren’t crazy obsessed Fiends to get around to solving it. (Yeah, we spoil puzzles here on Fiend all the damn time, but that’s why you’re here; the Rosebud interval for a daily puzzle is necessarily shorter than that for a weekly puzzle.) How about a formula to calculate Rosebud interval in … minutes? Ri = ms2, where m = media type by language density and s = audaciousness vector of secret, such that larger more complex media types with super crazy spoileriffic plot denouements generate longer Rosebud intervals, on an algorithmic scale.

Lots to [12d: Be smitten with]: ADORE here! I’ll leave you with the best-selling B-SIDE [49d: “I Am the Walrus” or “I Will Survive,” upon release] of all time.

James Sajdak’s LA Times crossword – Gareth’s write-up

LA Times

Today’s theme features somewhat amusing long “ee” heterographs, with a variety of spelling changes. In order: MIR(MERE)FORMALITY; TIERS(TEARS)OFJOY; PIER(PEER)GROUPS; and SHEAR(SHEER)MADNESS.

We had more olde-school crossword answers than have been seen for a while, including TFAL over ORNE crossing ANEAR, ALCOA and ECU.


  • Mystery name was [Fashion designer Rabanne], PACO
  • [Elizabeth of “Jacob’s Ladder”], PENA. Great film! A couple of real surprise twists at the end!
  • Actually UNOCAL that […merged with Chevron…] was another mystery name.
  • [Deck alternative], PATIO. What’s the difference again?
  • [Cryptozoologist’s quarry], SASQUATCH. I named my previous lab x that, but her name was quickly shortened to SASSY. She was never sought by any cryptozoologists, though.
  • [Wicked slice], GASH. Wednesday’s puzzle had me thinking golf here.

3.25 Stars

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39 Responses to Friday, April 6, 2018

  1. alex says:

    Why is “that’s what she said” misogynistic?

    • Steve Manion. says:

      It is usually used to respond to an innocuous comment as if it were a sexual reference.
      In referring to a test, one student says “That was too hard.” The other responds as noted.


    • Mark Simpson says:

      Because it wouldn’t be a crossword fiend post if there wasn’t something to be offended by.

      • Jenni Levy says:

        Because it treats women as nameless sexual objects and assumes that everyone in earshot is fine with that.

        It never ceases to amaze me that people choose to read a blog that is avowedly feminist, anti-racist, and intersectional and then complain about the fact that the blog is avowedly feminist, anti-racist, and intersectional.

        • CSC says:

          If I had a Like button, I’d like this!

        • Mutman says:

          Don’t you like opposing points of view?? Or just a cheering section for your point of view??

          • Amy Reynaldo says:

            Pretty sure no woman appreciates the opposing point of view that says “you think that’s sexist, but you’re wrong,” just as people of color are not keen on white folks telling them the racism they’ve experienced isn’t actually racism.

          • e.a. says:

            god forbid somebody should want a cheering section for the controversial point of view that women oughtn’t be objectified!! for shame, women of crosswordfiend, where is your zeal for the noble intellectual pursuit of constantly debating your own humanity??

      • Noam D. Elkies says:

        One can be feminist but still not presume the worst: imagine a consensual sexual encounter. There’s a matching (if rarer) juvenile “that’s what he said!”. I suppose it’s still “heteronormative” (good double-dactyl word), but in a single-sex encounter the referent of (say) “that’s what he said!” could be ambiguous. I wonder if and how such phrases are used among LBGTQA&c. speakers.

        I see that (of course) Wikipedia has a page on this topic with further background and connections. The corresponding British phrase is “said the actress to the bishop”, where both participants, though clearly gendered, are unnamed stock figures and the encounter is presumably consensual but clandestine.


  2. huda says:

    NYT: HELICOPTER PARENT is a very cool first entry. The clue, with its question mark, is great because it makes you stop for a minute to think about the phenomenon, as Jenni did—whether there is such a thing as caring too much about your child versus showing your caring in an unhealthy way. Trusting a kid as you send them out into the world is one of the scariest and most caring thing you can do for them.
    One time when I liked (loved?) the hovering was when I was sick as a kid. My mom (like many mediterranean moms) had elevated it to an art form. And we’re talking about a bad cold or bronchitis here. Any time a little fever was involved, she was off to the races. I’d be kept home from school, in bed. There were rules and rituals, timings and guidelines, diets and stages. But somehow, it managed to make me feel special, and because it was time limited it was palatable. You start getting restless and time to go to school. I never managed to pull off this illness-enabled hovering with my own kids, and part of me thinks I deprived them of an interesting experience.

    • Lise says:

      That is so sweet!

    • Steve Manion. says:

      Huda, maybe it is from my long experience as a tutor, but I see HELICOPTER PARENT differently than the deeply caring parent you have described. I see the helicopter parent as hovering over the student’s academic progress in an unhealthy, intrusive way. Even worse, when I was chairman of the Harvard Schools and Scholarship Committee for Western New York (Harvard had at that time and I think still requires a local alum to interview every candidate for admission), I had several parents who came to the interview and announced that “WE’RE” applying. I did not hold this against the student, but I found such potential interference (I did not allow it and politely told the parent to leave) absolutely disgusting.

      There was recently an article about a parent who let her very young child find his way home from someplace in NYC. I think Utah has a free-range parenting law. When the continuum flips from too much freedom to too much protection, I am more inclined toward freedom.


      • Jenni Levy says:

        Huda, that’s a lovely story.

        This is difficult territory for me, since I think mothers, in particular, get slammed for both being too hands-on and too hands-off. And mothers of color get slammed even harder. It’s not necessarily the parents deciding they need to hover; community standards sometimes demand it. If you allow your eight-year-old to walk home from school alone, you could get CPS called to investigate neglect. I don’t think it comes from an excess of caring. I think it comes from fear. As a society, we overestimate the risk of rare events like abduction and underestimate the capacity of a neurotypical kid to function independently.

        “We’re applying” has always rankled me – and I’ve caught myself saying it a few times during Emma’s application process. We’ve been very hands-off for parents in our peer group and I have been criticized directly and indirectly for that choice. David, of course, has only been praised for whatever parenting duties he takes on.

        Both the phenomenon of helicopter parenting and the criticism of it has classist, sexist, and racist overtones. It’s complicated.

        • Brian says:

          Jenni, would you mind sharing/pointing me in the direction of the classist/racist criticism of helicopter parenting? A quick bit of googling didn’t turn anything up. Isn’t most of the criticism toward helicopter parenting directed at an upper/middle class white mother stereotype?

          Absolutely agree with you regarding the rampant sexism and societal gender roles that come with parenting. And us dads don’t like it either – I’m not an incompetent parent that can’t be left alone with my own kid for ten minutes.

          • Amy Reynaldo says:

            I don’t know of any sources to answer your question. For the opposite of helicopter parenting, though, there certainly is inequitable treatment. An affluent white mom in NYC with a free-range kid gets written up in the newspapers and becomes a media darling, while a black mom somewhere let her kids go to the park down the block, visible from the windows at home, and was reported to police and child protective services. (When we were maybe 8 and 9, my sister and I were definitely allowed to venture out without our parents, and not staying within earshot/eyeshot of home. This used to be the norm.)

          • Jenni says:

            Essentially all public commentary on parenting is sexist, classist and racist. The “helicopter parent” is, as you say, white and wealthy and well-educated. The “Tiger Mom” is Asian. White, well-educated women are either helicopter parents who are smothering their kids and wasting their degrees or selfish bitches who go to work to buy fancy clothes and neglect their kids. For the latter point of view, look at anything Caitlin Flanagan has written about parenting.

            Amy has already pointed out the ridiculous double standard for women of color. Women of color are more likely to have CPS called and more likely to lose their kids once CPS is involved. In the public consciousness and the media, black mothers are neglectful and white wealthy mothers are helicopters.

            • Brian says:

              Thanks Jenni. Been reading a couple of Caitlin Flanagan’s articles, she keeps talking about “the good mothers”, which I’m 99.9% certain is thinly veiled “white upper middle class mothers”.

            • Steve Manion. says:

              I do not charge very much for my tutoring classes. Still, most of my tutees’ parents are reasonably well-off. I see problems with Tiger Moms who so overload their children with homework that the child has no other life. I see white affluent mothers who become resentful at a test that somehow results in their child being something less than perfect. I also see mothers who instill in their children a desire to pursue excellence and encourage that pursuit.
              Very few of this latter type hover over their kids.

            • Amy Reynaldo says:

              @Steve: Have you also got a taxonomy of dads, or just moms?

            • Steve Manion. says:


              I have never met a Tiger Dad. I have had many Asian dads somewhat involved either because I met the dad in the poker room or because the mother spoke no English.

              I have had many white dads that were my primary contacts. In almost all cases, the dad was totally goal-oriented: getting a score that gave the student a chance to get into a particular school or qualify for a scholarship. Even the dads of jocks who wanted their son to get a Division I scholarship to a school like Stanford, did not interfere with the tutoring process or even ask questions other than how’s my son doing.

            • Steve Manion. says:

              I know this thread is essentially over, but my mention of dads seeking Division One scholarships for their sons (or daughters) may have missed the subtext I was alluding to. The closest thing to a helicopter parent or Tiger Mom I have seen among men is the father who wants to live vicariously through the athletic feats of his children. Such dads can be every bit as intrusive in their child’s pursuit of sports excellence as any mother’s intrusion into their child’s academics. But even such dads almost never say anything to me other than do your best and try to get a good score for my child.

    • Zulema says:

      Perhaps because I had five children, I must have also deprived them of the helicopter experience, but I have a daughter who is definitely such a parent (I am safe because she doesn’t come here). Her son is about to graduate from college, and we find that he is 22 going on 14, which the rest of the family attributes to the helicoptering experience. We all hope she will now leave him alone, as long as he graduates.

      I hope this was not TMI. I apologize if it was.

  3. Lise says:

    I had OODLES of errors: wrote ESME going down instead of across; instead of GUSTO I had “genie” which I knew right away was wrong but I did not want to let go of it… The worst was “spool” for SCREW, which messed me up in that area for ages, as I had no idea what sort of BABIES had appeared in the 1940s, but those answers make sense. The clue for SCREW is clever.

    The puzzle was rife with lovely answers, but I have to agree that “sophomoric” is less correct than “misogynistic” for that particular entry. If it were merely sophomoric, it would not make me uncomfortable when I hear it said (which isn’t often).

    Overall, an excellent puzzle. I had been thinking recently that I have been missing triple and quad stacks, and here we are! Thanks!

    • Jenni Levy says:

      I also had “spool” instead of SCREW and couldn’t see my way past it for quite some time.

  4. David L says:

    David Steinberg was co-constructor of the puzzle last week that had the very ugly entry PIZZAFACE. And now this one has ACNE and ZIT. Strange.

    Good puzzle, tho. Little harder for me than the average Friday.

  5. DH says:

    I was fooled at every (figurative) corner of this puzzle, and delighted in working my way out of the holes I had dug. I had “SPOOL” instead of “SCREW”, I had “GLUT” instead of “ACNE”. Once I had “HEL …” at the top I put in a “P” and resisted taking it out for too long. Once I had the first “S” at 58D I put in a second – wrongly guessing that the answer would be SSE or SSW. “ELMO” was tricky for me, because to me, he is anything but a monster. (I do realize that “monster” in Sesame Street parlance is not a scary thing – but we all see our own shades of meaning). Also ETAS instead of ETDS … PSI instead of PSF, and on and on. It was the crossword equivalent of Murphy’s law.

    Whether it was the triple-stacks or the entire puzzle as a whole, I got a lot of satisfaction in finally completing it – and doubly so for getting the “pencil guy” right out, with no errors.

  6. Gareth says:

    Curious, the a-side for Gaynor was Substitute. This song is best-known outside of the States for a version by South African band called Clout…

  7. Alan D. says:

    Re: LAT. A perfectly fine puzzle except I didn’t like those little northeast and southwest sections. You have carte blanche to do whatever you want in there and the results are totally boring. Not much imagination. I would have even preferred scrabble f******.

  8. MattG says:

    Three cheers for AXOLOTL!

  9. scrivener says:

    To answer Jenni’s question about non-NE US solvers: I live in Honolulu, and have for most of my life. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a toll plaza. But I’m aware that they exist and that some people get to breeze through them (sometimes at a variable and unknown cost? what the heck?). I manged to figure out PASS LANE, but those first two squares were among my last to fall. EZ didn’t even occur to me. NO PASS LANE? Was I looking instead for a traffic directive that made the flow faster? GO PASS LANE? Was that the name of the speed-through enabler?

    It was a brutal yet not especially maddening puzzle for me. I did do one “check entire puzzle” near the end (with one red slash, for the already mentioned PSI/PSF) and crawled across the finish line at 37:14. Yow.

  10. Anne Fay says:

    “Boy toy?” –> GIJOE… cringed when I found that one.

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