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New York Times, Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Author:
Gary Cee
Editor:
Will Shortz
TotalDebutLatestCollabs
365/28/20091/1/20190
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
11198421
ScrabbleRebusCirclePangram
1.56021
Gary Cee

This puzzle:

Rows: 15, Columns: 15 Words: 78, Blocks: 36 Missing: {JQWXZ} This is puzzle # 36 for Mr. Cee. NYT links: Across Lite PDF
Jeff Chen notes:
I'm a big fan of 'what connects these disparate things?' themes. It's a lot of fun to get to the end of an early-week puzzle and still ... read more

I'm a big fan of "what connects these disparate things?" themes. It's a lot of fun to get to the end of an early-week puzzle and still have no idea what's going on. PASSABLE gave me a good a-ha click – PASS the HAT, PASS the TORCH, PASS the TIME, PASS the BUCK.

I also like Gary's consistency. You could use other passable things, like PASS MUSTER or PASS A NOTE, but sticking strictly to a PASS THE ___ pattern adds some tightness.

It's unusual to have mid-length slots (6-7 letters) add much to the quality of a solve, but there were a lot of strong ones today: PRONTO, PISCES, AGHAST, HOBBIT, EVOLVE, STOOGE. Outstanding stuff.

Speaking of AGHAST, though, let's address the issue that overrode the solving experience for me.

Will and I had a dialogue over BEANER; an offensive term slung at people from Mexico. I wondered if it might be a West Coast / East Coast thing, so I alerted Will about this. He thought about it but decided that since there is a valid dictionary definition, people would have to just ignore the secondary meaning.

I generally think Will does a great job in editing the NYT puzzle — hard to argue with results, with solvership exploding into the hundreds of thousands under his helm. This is one of the less than 5% of things that I strongly disagree with, though. Yes, BEANER is in the dictionary as a baseball term. But a pitch at someone's head is usually called a "bean ball," not a BEANER.

And I Googled BEANER to see what came up first — a page full of definitions as the racist term.

I respect Will's viewpoint that people will see what they want to see in any entry. For example, I personally take offense to CHINK in puzzles, and a couple of readers have bluntly told me "I'm being too sensitive" (and worse). My response is that it's easy to say that if you haven't been told to "go home, you dirty f*cking chink" (and much worse). But I do understand this one, since a CHINK in one's armor is a very common saying. So I shrug it off.

BEANER on the other hand, feels so, so, so very wrong, considering that the alternate definition isn't much in real usage these days.

Puzzles ought to be enjoyable, a smile-inducing diversion from the daily struggles of life. Even if BEANER punches just a small number of solvers, that makes it worth changing — especially since the fix is super easy. ABEL to AHEM and ANI to ALI is just one of the many ways to revise.

An ugly blot on an otherwise pleasant puzzle.

ADDED NOTE: A spokesperson from the NYT issued this statement: "Tuesday's Crossword puzzle included an entry that was offensive and hurtful. It is simply not acceptable in The New York Times Crossword and we apologize for including it."

Will Shortz notes:
(copied from Wordplay) I'm very sorry for the distraction about BEANER (2D) in today's fine puzzle by Gary Cee. Neither Joel ... read more

(copied from Wordplay)

I'm very sorry for the distraction about BEANER (2D) in today's fine puzzle by Gary Cee.

Neither Joel [Fagliano] nor I had ever heard the slur before — and I don't know anyone who would use it. Maybe we live in rarefied circles.

In researching this puzzle, we discovered the other meaning of the word as a slur. Later, Jeff Chen over at XWord Info brought it to our attention as well.

My feeling, rightly or wrongly, is that any benign meaning of a word is fair game for a crossword. This is an issue that comes up occasionally with entries like GO O.K. (which we clued last April as "Proceed all right," but which as a solid word is a slur), CHINK (benign in the sense as a chink in one's armor), etc. These are legitimate words.

Perhaps I need to rethink this opinion if enough solvers are bothered. I want your focus to be on the puzzle rather than being distracted by side issues. But I assure you this viewpoint is expressed with a pure heart.

Meanwhile, for any solver who was offended by 2-Down in today's puzzle, I apologize.

1
A
2
B
3
E
4
L
5
F
6
I
7
G
8
A
9
B
10
R
11
O
12
A
13
D
14
G
E
N
E
15
O
N
E
16
P
R
O
N
T
O
17
H
A
T
T
18
R
I
C
K
19
P
I
S
C
E
S
20
A
N
I
21
A
L
I
K
22
E
23
G
E
E
24
S
E
R
25
U
M
26
T
O
R
27
C
H
S
O
28
N
29
G
30
T
R
E
M
B
31
L
E
32
V
A
T
33
V
I
A
34
A
L
A
35
E
I
N
36
L
E
N
S
37
T
38
I
M
E
S
39
I
G
N
A
40
T
U
R
E
41
C
A
N
I
42
S
N
O
43
P
E
N
44
A
B
A
45
S
I
N
46
T
E
A
C
47
H
48
E
49
R
50
B
U
C
51
K
T
E
E
52
T
H
53
S
H
O
V
E
54
T
O
O
55
S
A
R
56
E
E
57
B
O
D
58
E
59
P
I
L
O
60
G
61
P
A
S
S
62
A
B
L
E
63
S
A
V
A
G
E
64
A
S
P
65
L
I
V
E
66
P
R
E
S
E
T
67
S
H
Y
68
I
T
E
M
© 2019, The New York TimesNo. 0101 ( 25,256 )

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Students & seniors
Across
1. First victim of sibling rivalry : ABEL
5. ___ Newton (cookie) : FIG
8. Somewhere across the ocean : ABROAD
14. Transmitter of freckles or blond hair : GENE
15. "You're ___ to talk!" : ONE
16. "Now!" : PRONTO
17. Three goals in a single game : HATTRICK
19. Leap day baby, astrologically : PISCES
20. Darth Vader's nickname as a boy : ANI
21. Similar : ALIKE
23. "Hmm, I don't know" : GEE
24. Blood fluid : SERUM
26. Its lyrics tell of unrequited love : TORCHSONG
30. Shiver from fear : TREMBLE
32. Big tub : VAT
33. By way of : VIA
34. Turkey ___ king : ALA
35. A, in Munich : EIN
36. Telescope part : LENS
37. Music staff notation : TIMESIGNATURE
41. Child's plea : CANI
42. ___-Caps : SNO
43. Calligrapher's tool : PEN
44. League that used a red, white and blue ball, for short : ABA
45. Greed or gluttony : SIN
46. Someone who likes to see many raised hands : TEACHER
50. Reason to get braces : BUCKTEETH
53. Push : SHOVE
54. ___ close to call : TOO
55. Ranee's wrap : SAREE
57. What's shaped at the gym, informally : BOD
58. Literary last words : EPILOG
61. Barely adequate ... or what the starts of 17-, 26-, 37- and 50-Across are : PASSABLE
63. Wild : SAVAGE
64. Slithering killer : ASP
65. "___ a little!" : LIVE
66. Car radio button : PRESET
67. Short of money : SHY
68. Couple that might be snapped by paparazzi : ITEM
Down
1. Horror-struck : AGHAST
2. Pitch to the head, informally : BEANER
3. Total : ENTIRE
4. Call from a chair umpire : LET
5. Chocolate kiss wrap : FOIL
6. Provoke : INCITE
7. Gordon ___, lead role in "Wall Street" : GEKKO
8. Mobile device download : APP
9. Smart : BRIGHT
10. Things to stop and smell : ROSES
11. Quick appraisal : ONCEOVER
12. Caught a bite : ATE
13. Beehive and bouffant : DOS
18. Go off on tangents : RAMBLE
22. Watergate hearings chair Sam : ERVIN
25. Savory taste : UMAMI
27. Cocktail hour nosh : CANAPE
28. Number of batters in a lineup : NINE
29. Neither a liquid nor a solid : GAS
31. Famous collie of radio, TV and film : LASSIE
35. Inflated self-image : EGO
36. Break in the workday : LUNCH
37. Popular perfume : TABU
38. Out of commission : INACTIVE
39. Hammond ___, writer of "The Wreck of the Mary Deare" : INNES
40. Kids : TEASES
41. Vehicle with a meter : CAB
45. Moe, Larry or Curly : STOOGE
46. Defeat decisively : THRASH
47. Tolkien creature : HOBBIT
48. Develop gradually : EVOLVE
49. Cash in : REDEEM
51. Nuts containing caffeine : KOLAS
52. Spanish food served on small plates : TAPAS
56. Athletic award : ESPY
58. Hard-to-explain skill, for short : ESP
59. Tee box sign info : PAR
60. "I ___ it!" : GET
62. Cable news host Velshi : ALI

Answer summary: 3 unique to this puzzle, 1 unique to Shortz Era but used previously.

Found bugs or have suggestions?