Black Sea getaway / THU 9-12-13 / Hamlet's parts / Short-story writer Munro / View from Valence / Subj of Austin library museum / Trendy features of some high-end gyms / Film lead character featured in Disney World attraction

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Constructor: Ian Livengood

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging

THEME: Superman — Each of the three parts from the tagline of the old Superman TV show appears in the grid, clued via reference to the last word in some other theme answer, i.e.

  • IT'S A BIRD (24A: Remark about the end of 18-Across) is clued via reference to Jack SPARROW (18A: Film lead character featured in a Disney World attraction)
  • IT'S A PLANE (39A: Remark about the end of 31-Across) via ref. to Bubble JET (31A: Kind of printer for home or office)
  • IT'S SUPERMAN (56A: Remark about the end of 49A) via ref. to Jeff KENT (49A: 2000 N.L. M.V.P. who played for the Giants)

Word of the Day: JEFF KENT
Jeffrey Franklin Kent (born March 7, 1968 in Bellflower, California) is a retired Major League Baseball second baseman. Kent won the National League Most Valuable Player award in 2000 with the San Francisco Giants, and is the all-time leader in home runs among second basemen. He drove in 90 or more runs from 1997 to 2005, a streak of run production unprecedented for a second baseman, a position typically known for its defense. Kent is a five-time All-Star and his 560 career doubles put him tied for 21st on the all-time doubles list. (wikipedia)
• • •

Very cute theme. Took me a long time to pick it up—this often happens with themes that involve multiple cross-references (not my favorite). I just get turned around and confused and lost. By the time I had the first inclination of what the theme was, I was way down at the bottom of the grid, inferring the "IT'S" in IT'S SUPERMAN and wondering, then, what JACK SPARROW had to do with Superman. But once I saw PLANE there, I got it. I knew SPARROW had to be right (was not at All sure about it until that moment, the clue being some but not much help). So everything's going pretty Thursdayish to this point. I've never heard of a BUBBLE JET, but everything else seems reasonably familiar. But then I went to finish things up in the NE. And then, for a long time, nothing happened. I mean, I had JACK SPARROW up there and *nothing* else. Oh, no, wait, I had ELAN for 23A: Pizazz (ZING), so that was nice. I wanted AWARD at some point at 8A: Badge, maybe, but even that didn't help and so I didn't keep it there long. [Tube inits.]? Thought it was to do with TV. [Black Sea getaway]? I don't know, the horribly-spelled ODESA? [View from Valence]? No idea what or where Valence is. Without the "Z," no real shot at WAR ZONE (9D: Where a photographer might take shots?). [Bros]? Nope. DAWGS not forthcoming (that clue is tin-eared, as I can see the equivalence in the singular, but not in the plural—"bros" are a specific thing that plural DAWGS are not—I don't think anyone would even use DAWG(S) were it not for Randy Jackson, but I digress).

The real killer up there—the thing that I kept thinking I should get but just couldn't, was [26A: Hamlet's parts]. The more I thought about the clue, the more the clue made no sense at all. Can't be related to the play. Hamlet *is* a part in a play. Could it be ASIDES? Are those parts? But BOL has to be right. SOL is not a thing (not in S. America, anyway). When I finally got ABODES (after testing ACRID and having it work out), I was, let's say, unhappy. That is a ridiculous clue for ABODES. Anything in a "hamlet" is a part of it. ABODES? I guess Will had some idea of quaintness linking the two, but that is one of the worst clues I've ever seen. No necessary relationship between clue and answer. It's like [City parts] cluing ATMS. It is true that they are all over NYC, but Come On. So thumbs up for the general theme concept and most of the fill, but the sucky cluing on ABODES just sucked all the pleasure out of this thing at the end. Likely not the constructor's fault.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


August West 12:00 AM  

Well, its a pangram, so its got that goin' for it.

Quick, fun Thursday, greatly aided by the theme. After initially dropping SRV into 4D with no expectation (but every great hope) that it would be correct, I quickly came to my senses and ceded to LBJ, in view of LIRR and BREAD.

That gave me JACK SPARROW off the "J", and IT'S A BIRD almost immediately after, as the NW vertical 9s fell into place. Then I just put JET at the end of 31A (after satisfying myself that the J worked at 33D), IT'S A PLANE at 39A, KENT at the end of 49A, and IT'S SUPERMAN at 56A. Everything else just fell in around these...huge tracts of land, and I finished in a Thursday easy sub-nine. Knew JARED Leto, so it had to be JEFF. BUBBLE emerged from its easy crosses -- Bias, Urn, aBle, planBs (eeeeeeeew ... ACRID!).


Also loved seeing ABU Nazir, as anticipation grows for the return of Homeland.

Thankfully, knew RAE from crosswords, but am embarrassed to admit that I had to run the alphabet to get saXe/tuXes (they're often seen with bow TIES, Ian!). Also had to erase élan for ZING.

So, yeah, PLANBS sucked, but just about everything else here is pretty, pretty, pretty damn good.

Nice job.

Anonymous 12:10 AM  

A BUBBLE JET for your home or office? Yeah, maybe in 1985!

It took me forever to get that area because I could not possibly imagine that was the answer!

jae 12:10 AM  

This has a cute theme and a lot of zippy stuff, but, unlike Rex, I thought it was a bit too easy for a Thurs.   My only erasure was TUtus for TUXES and 21d fixed that.  

Part of it may have been a wheelhouse thing because I've been on that stupid ride at Disney Land more times than I can count with my grandson who, for reasons unknown to me, loves it.  That was 3 years ago though, so now that he's 11 maybe he's over it?

So, not sure why this is a Thurs., but I did like it.

Anonymous 12:20 AM  

BUBBLE JET is just Canon's name for their Ink Jet
printers. So they're not that ancient.


Evan 12:29 AM  

I think I had an easier time with this because IT'S A BIRD was the first theme answer I cracked. Once I got it, I looked down to see if there was another answer with a similar clue. There it was, at 39-Across, with the correct number of letters for IT'S A PLANE. So the a-ha moment came very early for me.

Looking back at this, I'm impressed that Ian managed to jam ABOUT THAT, JUMPSUITS, WAR ZONE, and JUICE BARS in there -- that's some great fill for a grid that's already constrained by six themers. BUBBLE JET was a mystery to me, but I don't know what else he could have substituted for that -- keep in mind that whatever the answer is can't be a real JET or PLANE, since SPARROW doesn't refer to a real BIRD. GOLDEN JET, maybe? (the nickname of NHL Hall-of-Famer Bobby Hull, which is probably D.O.A. as a possible themer because JEFF KENT is already there). Very little in the way of crap fill too, although as Rex points out, that clue for ABODES is just plain weird. I was convinced I had the wrong answer.

retired_chemist 12:39 AM  

HTG in the NE so DNF. Couldn't see DAWGS, didn't know RHONE was right so it went in and out (Acc. to Wikipedia it could have been drOmE, Valence's Department), Tube inits. were GMA (ADA on a TOOTHPASTE tube? Come ON!), and I thought a Black Sea getaway was a vacation spot like YALTA. Nothing unfair but an unfortunate confluence of stuff I couldn't see.

Theme is pretty nifty.

I always forget whether the explorer is RAE or REA.

So, 90% a nice straightforward Thursday with a 10% corner I couldn't do. Oh well.

Thanks, Mr. Livengood.

John Child 12:49 AM  

I found this quite difficult, despite how quickly the theme answers fell, once seen. The clueing was Fri/Sat for me: tube units = ADA, Ghost story = ATTIC, Ring collar = TEE, ETON jacket (wtf?), and of course ABODES as mentioned by Rex. LEAS and RAE new to me; never saw either of the tv shows referenced. Do you really RAKE a garden?

A Bum Wrap: The Eton Jacket

Steve J 1:27 AM  

Quickest Thursday in ages for me. Got JACKSPARROW nearly straight away (after I'd seeded it with a couple downs right after filling in LIRR). Mixed up my Latin genders at first and had TARSa, giving me aTSABIRD, which I knew couldn't be right, but I decided to leave it for the moment while I worked elsewhere. Once ITSAPLANE came together, had my a-ha moment, and I was off to the races.

NE was the slowest to gel. Had ELAN instead of ZING, and while I quickly picked up that Hamlet in 26A was not referring to the play, ABODES was the last thing that came to mind (agreed that it's a weak clue; I like the idea of the misdirection, but it's too vague; like Rex said, it could be anything - in fact, I considered LANES for a moment, until I got WARZONE and saw that couldn't possibly be right).

Enjoyed the theme. While I normally don't like cross-referenced clues, this was really easy to follow, and I really liked the right-left/call-response nature of the cluing.

PLANBS is the worst kind of plural of convenience, but aside from that blot, this was a really tightly-constructed puzzle, with lots of good fill (theme and non-) and meaty cluing. Good fun.

syndy 1:30 AM  

YUP crashed and burned in the NE section and mme without a PLANB! Looking at the answers there was pretty uch nothing there I was going to come up with. Also 50 down I believe that should be Mr. FUDD!

Aboutthat Cosmo Michaels 2:18 AM  

THis my friends, is a perfect puzzle!!!!
(well, that ABODES thing was a bit daft)

Not only a pangram, but every line had Bs, Ws, crazy letters galore! A Scrabblers dream:
8Bs, 4Js, 3Ks, 4Ws, XQZ

Fun, clever theme that was helpful to the solve (at least it helped me get SPARROW.

Constructed with 56 theme letters set up as
11, 8, 9, 9, 8, 11

Ian should teach a master class on how to construct!
(He probably does!)


And JUMPSUITS and JUICEBARS crossing two theme answers.
Just fabulous!!!!!

chefwen 2:50 AM  

Holy Moly it's good to be back after our "mission of duty" in the Midwest. @Syndy speaking of crashing and burning, that's what my hard drive did the day before we left. Same day that the NYT site went down. Scared the liver out of me thinking "am I the only one, or is everyone trying to get to the site getting infected" Guess it was just coincidence. I am nervously getting accustomed to the new computer.

As far as the puzz goes, you can duplicate what @retired_chemist said. NE was my downfall also which resulted in a DNF. Dang! Got it right away with KENT and IT'S SUPERMAN, fell short with DACHA/DAWGS/AWARD. Oh well, on to Friday.

Charles in Austin 3:53 AM  

According to an online dictionary, a hamlet is "a small village or cluster of houses".

To me, "abode" suggests smalless or rural-ness -- as in "a humble abode".

I see nothing particularly wrong with the clue.

Gareth Bain 4:29 AM  

I don't get your objection to [Bros] / DAWGS at all.

Otherwise, I've said my piece elsewhere...

wa 7:01 AM  

Cute but so what. I too abhored abodes. Liked much of the other fill. Bubble Jet? What is the next clue punch cards?

Anonymous 7:31 AM  

I loved the theme and it was all fairly easy, UNTIL I hit the snags in the extreme NE corner. Some sketchy cluing and unfortunate crossing made that bit brutal compared to the rest.

r.alphbunker 8:18 AM  

Had JACKSPARROt in NE, knew that DAtGS was not correct but could not let go of PARROt.

Went to hear Will Shortz last night and really enjoyed it even though I am very familiar with the puzzles he talked about and the history of crossword puzzles. The Q&A session he had with the audience was excellent and he concluded with some word games with the audience. He really knows how to work a crowd!

One question from the audience was whether he read this blog. He said that he had until about two months ago when RP posted on his Facebook page that he hate-solved the NYT puzzles. He recommended Jeff Chen's commentary over at

Susan McConnell 8:20 AM  

Same experience as ITSABIRD and went and filled in the other two theme answers right away.

I kinda liked the ABODE/Hamlet thing!

Z 8:21 AM  

Nope, that ABODES clue is about perfect. Hamlets have little else but ABODES in them. But, of course, everyone goes to Shakespeare's Dane first. Fantastic clue.

Otherwise, a quick Thursday. Only challenge was the NE.

jberg 8:41 AM  

It's all been said - I pretty much agree with @ACME - except this: I really liked ALICE Munro in there at 45A, partly for gender equity but mostly because Munro in crosswords is almost always HH. I spent way too much time trying to see how Saki could fit in there, even though I already had the I in the wrong place.

Held up in NE because a) I had no idea about JACK SPARROW - never would have got him if I hadn't known he was a bird, and b) I thought the Hamlet parts must be scenES, such a good answer that I held onto it too long (thought that lake might border Chile, which might be horribly abbreviated as chi or chL).

The clued SPARROW is not a bird, and the JET is not a plane, but KENT is a surname. You could avoid it with a geographic clue for EAST KENT, maybe ('locale of Isle of Thanet'), but that's pretty lame. So I'll take it as is.

loren muse smith 8:45 AM  

Sometimes I actually worry that there is a finite set of theme ideas out there and that themed crosswords will one day just run their course. So to be presented with one like today's heartens me. How clever and different!

I agree the cluing was tough in places, but aside from the dastardly northeast, utterly gettable for me. And said tough clues were really, really good. VEILS, SEE ME, ATTIC, DREW, VACUUM – excellent clues.

For ABODES, I confidently put in "scenes" and kept it there for a long time. Also (I'm seeing probably among thousands) "elan" for ZING.

QUELL is a great word, and I just may use it today.

I guess SYR could have been clued differently, huh? What a mess.

I liked that there were two Black Sea clues. Also appreciated the GLAMmed UP TUXES crossing JUMPSUIT.

Parents of middle and high school students: EBAY's is a terrific site. Enter in the isbn number of a textbook, and you can buy a used one at pretty low cost. I kept a copy of my kids' textbooks at home each year so their backpacks weren't ridiculously heavy and so we had no 11pm trips to the school to see if a door was unlocked so we could break in to retrieve a book. One of my best parenting moves. Seriously. It's not dirt cheap, but it's worth it, imho.

"Modern verbal crutch" – LIKE like really like fascinates me? Like everyone uses it like all the time and uptalks to boot? Like everything is a question? David Sedaris, like, pointed this out to me and like now when people like uptalk all the time I just like focus on that and not like what they're like really saying?

Seriously, though. What a phenomenon. I ate like the whole thing. Feels very different to me from I ate the whole thing. Is LIKE the new ya know? Do other languages have this stuff going on, too? Maybe schoen in German? Enfin in French? Inquiring minds want to know. Enfin, je suppose enfin a effectivement un sens. But still. . .

Nice work, Ian. Loved it.

joho 9:04 AM  

This puzzle is a sheer delight! A totally original theme expertly incorporated into a perfect pangram with so many fresh active, scrabbly answers ... I can't say enough good things about it!

I have to agree with @Gareth
Bain, I hear nothing wrong with DAWGS and Bros.

And I must say, @Rex, it's kind of sad that just one clue sucked all the pleasure out of this for you. Especially with your love of comic books, this brought SUPERMAN out the comics into a crossword. How much fun is that!

ITSABIRD, ITSAPLANE, ITSSUPERMAN (who just happens to be Ian Livengood!)

Questinia 9:06 AM  

Just about a perfect Thursday puzzle.

Got TARSI immediately after scanning 20A and knew SUPS was the Thursday word for dines. Then NW fell presenting me with ITS A BIRD and all other ITSA answers.
Thought the puzzle easy until-

Stuck at BUBBLEJET: Thought it was another man's name out of consistency and couldn't think of a man named BUBBLEs.

Stuck in NE: Like everyone it seems. Fell for Hamlet as a play. Thought of London's tube and kept misreading Black Sea gateway instead of getaway.

Have no problem with ABODES although I emitted a low groan when it came and thought ADA was absolutely fair. More Friday or Saturday clues imo, so medium in difficulty.

Beautiful construction. Thanks Ian.

Sir Hillary 9:16 AM  

I get the Scrabbly-ness and pangram and the cute Superman theme, but for some reason, this one did nothing for me. Felt like it was written quite a few years ago and dusted off for publication.

Then again, I don't really like Picasso, To Kill A Mockingbird or Bruce Springsteen, so maybe it's me. :)

Notsofast 9:16 AM  

This puzzle was pretty unremarkable until I got to the NE corner. Then it was like "WTF?" Why is ADA "Tube initials"? Kudos for WARZONE and DAWGS, but I just didn't think of them. So, ironically, the section I find most interesting is the section I gave up on. I think I would have gotten it if I had thought of BOL instead of COL, which didn't unlock any doors.

Bob Kerfuffle 9:16 AM  

Finished with one wrong letter: The cross of 35 D and 38 A. Had UAR for 38 A (Would a Thursday require that the clue say "Bygone Mideast inits" if that were the case?) and could make no sense of "It may have a ring collar" nor of my answer TRE. Even after coming to the blog and seeing that the correct answer was TEE, I though it had something to do with golf and the shape or a variety of a golf tee. OK, now I see it is a tee shirt, not the kind with a V-neck.

And shouldn't it be "PLANS B"? :>)

MetaRex 9:23 AM  

Didn't have Rex's problem w/ ABODES but was also foozled by the NE...thought I was done in a decent for MR TH time and then realized I had XXAXX for the badge clue and XIXX for the pizazz clue...five minutes or so later WAR ZONE-ZING emerged. Nice...yowza! Not so nice was getting the incorrect signal after that and realizing ninety seconds later that I needed UAE not UAR. APE-AXE yesterday was nice misdirection...UAR-UAE, not so much.

dk 9:26 AM  

Those of you who know New York will be familiar with Hamlets (e.g., The Hamlet of Essex NY) and know they are comprised of ABODES.

I got the theme fill before the prompts and as did @August I used the alphabet for TUXES. I was stuck on pastas TUbES as I harvested my neighbor's Hubbard squash, roasted one and with a little garlic, oil, basil, etc. -- put it on Ziti (pasta tubes): totally tubular.

🌟🌟🌟🌟 (4 Stars) LIKE delightful puzzle dawg

Carola 9:31 AM  

A fun theme and fun solve. SPARROW led right to ITS A BIRD, so I had the theme early, and that helped this one go pretty quickly. I'm behind enough tech-wise that BUBBLE JET seemed NEW to me, at least relative to dot matirix! The punch line, though, would have had more ZING for me if I'd ever heard of JEFF KENT.

Agree on the nifty cluing and the many other answers to LIKE: JUMPSUITS, JUICE BARS, ABOUT THAT.
And with @jberg on how nice to see the terrific ALICE Munro.

Probably inadvertantly topical: SYR - WAR ZONE - PLAN BS - with thoughts of IRAQIS in the background.

chefbea 10:06 AM  

fun puzzle. Once I got its a bird...the rest was easy. Never heard of Jack Sparrow or Jeff Kent

Sandy K 10:19 AM  

So much to LIKE ABOUT this puzzle!

The theme was SUPER!

IT'S A pangram!

The clues tricky, but gettABLE. The fill was AWL right.

Nothing sucked except the VACUUM...

Had JUMP SUITS, TUXES and VEILS, a COSMO, a JUICE BAR and the TAJ to GLAM UP the grid. Lots of elan, I mean ZING!

mathguy 10:34 AM  

Loved the puzzle. Zippy cluing throughout. Like everybody else, found the NW to be a bear. I don't see why the clue for WARZONE has a question mark. Got ADA from the acrosses but even after Googling it, I don't know what it represents. Something to do with guitars?

Susan McConnell 10:48 AM  

@mathguy Check out your toothpaste tube...

Ellen S 10:52 AM  

So we're not going to have anyone come and lecture us that VACUUMs don't suck, they just, well, I don't understand actually how what they do isn't sucking.

Anyway, I was relieved that @Rex and everybody had the same problems I did in the NE, what with medal/AWARD and élan/ZING. (hey! Blogger filled in the accent for me! Maybe someday it will learn about hyperlinks and convert URLs for us...)

@Bob Kerfuffle--you betcha! I filled 19D with what Ian wanted, but kept thinking, it should be Plans B.

@DK, according to various Internet sites, Essex, NY refers to itself as a town. But in the 1970s I lived in the Hamlet of Red Hook, about 60 miles north of Poughkeepsie. It was not a "cluster" of anything but rather, scattered ABODES with a lot of undeveloped land in between. There was a "town" portion where houses were more clustered, and an honest to gosh general store with a window display that I swear hadn't been touched since the Great Depression: it featured overalls covered with dust, behind flyspecked window panes. But the "hamlet" designation referred to an administrative subdivision of the county.

chefbea 11:37 AM  

why is 35 down Tee??

Bill C 12:11 PM  

Rex, Isla del Sol is on the southeast side of Lake Titicaca. That was my first post-Googling answer there, leading me to pray that War Zine was not an answer. Though I'm still lost as to why there was a question mark on the WARZONE answer.

Rob C 12:28 PM  

What a great puzzle. Tough at first. I got the theme about half way through and easy from there. So med. Thurs in the end. Cluing was superb, for the most part.

We got an abbr. geography tour with BOL, SYR, UAE... led by LBJ?

mathguy 12:30 PM  

@Susan McConnell. Thanks for American Dental Association (although my Crest tube doesn't have it).

Ray J 12:33 PM  

I’m guessing that the ? is there because a WAR ZONE is a place where a photographer may come under fire as well as take photos.

Loved the puzzle. The theme definitely helped me get SPARROW. The NE was brutal.

Steve J 12:36 PM  

@Loren: I hear aber used a fair amount in German as a filler word (there's also doch, which in my experience existed more in my textbooks than in common use). Not to the extent that some people use "like" in English, but that's the closest analogue I can think of. My French is far too rusty to recall what I've heard used there.

@chefbea: Think TEE shirts. Specifically, think of ones that don't have V necks.

@Ellen S: I'll bite: How is it that vacuum cleaners don't suck? In their ads, they're always going on about suction.

oldbizmark 12:50 PM  

too easy and boring for a Thursday.

Doc John 1:36 PM  

Rex, I am totally with you on the ABODES thing (and I love your ATM analogy). The NE was a total slog for me- at one point I wasn't even sure I was going to finish. I finally gave up on élan and that did it. Whew.
And yes, the 1980s are calling Mr. BUBBLE JET.

Anonymous 1:48 PM  

I was very proud of "asides" for Hamlet, but . . . fail.

Anoa Bob 2:02 PM  

Just got the prototype POC-o-meter back up and running. There was a complete melt-down a few days back when the puzz not only had a plethora of POCs, but it included the super-POC ESSES as an entry, which not only spelled out the culprit S's, but also served triple duty in making three other POCs. Best I can figure, the circuitry went into some kind of positive feedback loop and self-destructed before I could shut her down.

At least today's offering didn't reach that level, but there were enough POCs to set the VACUUM tubes aglow and the banks of relays achatter. Didn't take long. With JUMPSUITS, TUXES, & IRAQIS coming out of the gate, and then DAWG & ABODE and PLANB & GIRL sharing final POC S's, the meter needle was bouncing alarmingly off the upper limit.

Lots to admire in this one but JUICE BARS sealed the deal and assured a final readout of "POC Assisted".

ahimsa 2:04 PM  

I enjoyed this one a lot! I agree with @AugustWest - the only entry that brought a frown was that awkward plural, PLAN BS.

And thanks for the letter count, @ACME! I noticed all those Bs while solving. And 10 Us! (hope I counted right--someone correct me if that's wrong) M&A should be happy.

I am in awe of people who thought this was too easy. I thought the cluing was a bit hard (but fair). And I'm sure lots of things that were gimmes for others (I never get LIRR except from crosses, don't know "the TAJ", and ABU who?) were really hard for me. My first 100% certain entry was ALICE Munro (*love* her stories, just finished reading "Too Much Happiness").

I finished this correctly but it took a long time. I got the ITS SUPERMAN first and then filled in the other two.

I had a much harder time than most figuring out JACK SPARROW even after I knew the end had to be a bird. I have a vague memory of ads for those movies but I never saw any of them (just not my thing). I had -A---PARRO- for a while and thought, "Hmm, did Disney do a parrot movie?"

DAWGS was very slow to come for me, too. I wanted DudeS and thought maybe Pizazz was the name of a ZINe? My final letter was the G in DAWGS. But I think the answer fits the clue just fine.

I guessed Hamlet meant town early on so I was thinking of lanes, alleys, etc. For some reason I was able to guess ABODES without much of a problem.

I thought JUMPSUIT was snowSUIT (going down the slopes) for the longest time. And I loved that ATTIC clue!

Kudos to Ian Livengood! Fun puzzle.

Paul Keller 2:06 PM  

In many ways, this seems like a puzzle I should have liked. The theme is good, but solving felt more like a slog than a challenge. In many spots, of which the NE was only the most severe example, I spent long periods staring at mostly blank space unitl a bunch of answers suddenly fell into place. I think the problem was a combinations of things I didn't know and too many clues that were not very helpful.

joho 2:06 PM  

@chefbea, the clue is referring to a TEE shirt.

Bird 2:18 PM  

Got nowhere fast until I hit the theme with SPARROW and JET giving me BIRD and PLANE.

Liked the theme and enjoyed most of this puzzle, but DNF the NE corner as there were too many (Friday?) tough clues to get any kind help from crosses. I was also stuck with JACK SPARROW and ELAN. TUBE inits. could’ve been anything from RCA (television) to MTA (NYC subway) which I tentatively entered and gave me MEDAL at 8A.. Then thinking perhaps the Black Sea getaway was TRIPOLI (nope doesn’t fit and wrong region. Screw it, back to work.

PLAN BS or PLANS B - Why is 19D plural anyway? How can you have more than one Plan B?

I’m with @Rex on ABODES. And BUBBLE JET? What about INKJET?

Rube 2:24 PM  

DAWGs didn't bother me as there is a "DAWG pond" at the end zone of the Raider's stadium in Oakland... and there are plenty of "Bros" there.

Guessing DACHA early made the NE fairly easy for me, and ABODES, although eliciting a groan, felt very Thursdayish, as did ADA.

My problem was in the SW where ITSSUPERMAN and ALUNSER went in immediately, but I wanted a specific Ghost story, e.g, E.A. Poe or such, something racy for XX, and I-beam for bar stock. All came clear when I realized that nothing accompanies cho-choo trains, so went looking for trains elsewhere.

Love Thursday puzzles that are relatively easy w/o Googling.

Saw Boito's "Mefistofele" at the SF opera last night. Excellent production even if the singing was just OK... recommend it.

Anonymous 2:48 PM  

I think planbs is more than awkawrd; it's incorrect. The plural of Plan B is, plans b. Just as the plural of father in law is fathers in law.

okanaganer 3:29 PM  

I guess I have a dirty mind cuz I first thought of CALL GIRLS for 3D. When I came to my senses I wanted something to do with diving, but WET SUITS and DRY SUITS were too short and SCUBA SUIT wasn't plural.

Lewis 3:38 PM  

Not easy for me -- seemed like lots of names and initials I wasn't sure of. But I liked it, the cuteness of the theme, and the tricky clues. It had ZING.

retired_chemist 4:45 PM  

Love the parsing PLAN B.S. Explains many government actions.

August West 5:07 PM  

@Rube: The Dawg Pound is in Cleveland. Raider Nation inhabits "The Black Hole" in Oakland.

Inquiring minds 5:08 PM  

@Anon 2:48 - Is that sota like Plurals of Convenience or PsOC is the plural of POC?

Questinia 5:10 PM  

@Ellen S, have a good friend in Red Hook, things haven't changed that much I'll bet but Rhinebeck and... Hudson! Hudson is the go-to place for anything hip north of the Big Apple. What do you think of them apples?!

LaneB 7:10 PM  

40 steseAll was well until I was left with the NE corner. Filled RHONE and - SPARROW, but was confounded by the clues for D 8 , 9 , 10 and 12. Still do not make the connection between Tube inits and ADA or Bros and DAWGS. Didn't completely fill out ABODES and still think the Hamlet's parts clue is lousy without being clever. A Thursday DNF and I'm kind of a sore loser.2 eluson

andreas carlas michaels 8:54 PM  

alright @anoabob...
HOWEVER, GIRLS needs that final s.
As does, arguably, ABODES.

Concede to you only on PLAN B.S.!

Melodious Funk 10:19 PM  

PLANSB is just silly. There's no analogy to fathers-in-law or attorneys general. "I have one plan A but I have two plan B's in case Plan A doesn't work. I also have three planC's because I like to be prepared."

Suppose there are two separate married women, each with a husband. They have two father-in-laws. A married couple have fathers-in-law.

I suppose it's all arguable, I'll leave it to LMS to clear it up.

englishteacher59 11:25 PM  

I haven't read all of the above comments, so probably someone has already said this, but Rex is absolutely wrong with his criticism of ABODES for "Hamlet's parts." A hamlet is a village. A village is comprised of houses, usually very modest houses, which is very neatly suggested by the clue. Furthermore, the analogy to ATMs answering "City parts" is utterly ridiculous. Houses, or abodes, are a necessary component of a hamlet. Sometimes that's all there is to a hamlet. Great cluing, Mr. Livengood!

Gramps 12:25 AM  

I haven't read all the above comments, so I don't know if anyone has said anything about "Hamlet's parts.", but...

What, what's that you said Johnny? How did you know what I typed? Oh, I talk when I type? Really? Anyway, what was that about Ctrl-F? I just hit Ctrl-F and type in a word, then all the matching words on the page are highlighted? Ok, I'll try.

Damn, there were 18 matches to hamlet on the page. No, now they're 19. What will these computer guys think of next!

Back to what I was going to say - Hamlets are small villages. They can have many things, post offices, offices, stores, pubs, restaurants, almost anything. They only thing they can't have is a church (then only in England where the lack of a church is part of the definition).

Steve J 12:57 AM  

@Melodious Funk: Sorry, technically speaking it is Plans B. In the phrase Plan B, "plan" is the noun and "B" is the adjective. You pluralize the noun, which is why it's "attorneys general", "fathers-in-law" (in all cases; it's never appropriately father-in-laws, unless there are multiple laws governing marital relationships that I'm not aware of), etc.

Phonetically, "plans B" indeed sounds weird. Then again, so does "plan B's"; I'd say that if your sentence gets to the point of needing to pluralize that phrase, your sentence needs a, well, plan B.

Ellen S 3:39 AM  

@Steve J, I don't know. Only some maybe magazine article saying when you slurp up a soda through a straw you're not sucking? But what are you doing then? But I'm afraid to think about it too much because it reminds me of an unrepeatable overheard admonition of a young man to his girlfriend one afternoon in the college dorm.

On that happy note I'll fast forward to @Questinia. Hudson? Hip? I had to look it up to even know where it is! And hip didn't even exist in the 70s in the Hudson Valley. On Saturday nights the parking lot at Caldor's was full of cars, young singles with nowhere better to go than a discount store, barely a step up from today's Dollar Stores. Pathetic. BUT: a couple of guys bought the Pine Plains Opera House and renovated it and showed old movies there. The complete Nelson
Eddy canon. Dinner at the Rhinebeck Arms followed by "Rosemarie" over in Pine Plains--life doesn't get any better than that.

Anonymous 9:01 AM  

"Plan B" is the noun, but having more than one Plan B is just silly.

retired_chemist 9:16 AM  

America and Russia each have Plan A's for what to do in Syria. When both fail. they both will go to Plan B's.

I think I;l go have a HI-C. Maybe two Hi-C's.

Jim Finder 9:10 PM  
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Jim Finder 2:11 AM  
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BP De Guzman 11:53 PM  

An industrial loan is used to help a business involved in some form of industrial production. The provided through an industrial loan helps meet the costs of the equipment necessary for the business to operate.

spacecraft 11:57 AM  

Pretty much what others have said. I very nearly DNF on account of that NE; stared at it for a while before hitting on an alternate for ELAN: Zest! The Z gave me WARONE, so the badge was an AWARD (duh! I think now, after the fact). To me a badge is more of an ID than an award, but then I watch too many cop shows. Anyhoo, Zest wouldn't work, but just before I was ready to give up ZING came to me, and then it all fit. Whew!

I agree that "Hamlet parts" is a real ZINGer of a clue for ABODES, but at least you can say: it's not wrong. The flag fluttered, but stayed put.

It wriggled again on PLANBS, but I had to accept, albeit reluctantly, @retired_chemist's explanation. My take is that if there were a second backup plan, wouldn't it be PLANC? ITSABIRD, ITSA fourth backup plan...

Despite these defects, I have to agree that the overall puzzle provides many delights, though Chubby Checker might have filled in 56a with THETWISTER!

captcha= sosmali: Is that why they took to piracy--low self-esteem?

rain forest 1:53 PM  

What a treat of a puzzle! I started in the due North with LIRR and LBJ, and RAKED, and so JACKSPARROW went right in. ACRID, and then RHONE which I knew because I was in Valence last year. Then I put in SoCHi for the BS getaway (it's where the upcoming winter olympics will be held), which caused a snarl. Left the NE and went to the NW where I guessed TAJ, but SUPS, ROM, TUXES gave everything there. Stupidly didn't realize that ITS A BIRD was a SUPERMAN reference, but from somewhere, DACHA came to me, and that was pretty much the end of my struggles.

Some very clever cluing throughout, and no problem with ABODES (after all, that's pretty much what a hamlet is), or with PLANBS (you have a PLANB; I have a PLANB; we both have PLANBS, Sally). I *did* wonder if the plural of plan B might be plans B, but, whatever.

No crap fill, excellent cluing, it's a pangram, and ALICE Munro is in there (most recent recipient of the Nobel Prize for Literature; Canadian; established Munro's Book Store in Victoria 50 years ago; virtuoso of the short story).


Solving in Seattle 2:25 PM  

Nice shout-out to @Rainy & @Waxy with ALICE Munro showing up, which in real time was before the Nobel committee awarded. Good job, Ian!

My two groaners were AFLAME & PLANBS. @Rainy, you cracked me up with your PLANSB discussion.

My Black Sea getaway was soCHi (nyet), then I moved to yAltA (nyet), then ended up at my DACHA (da!).

Orig. had gwb for 4D. Figured that 4A had to be the Long Island RR which gave me the L--. Oh, LBJ!

Got the theme with ITSABIRD and went down to 56A and threw in ITSSUPERMAN. (Sprained shoulder from back pat.)

Short sigh of relief that our esteemed congress kicked the budget can a couple of feet down the road. Noble of them to eschew a pay raise in 2014.

Capcha: morexib. Shout at the gentlemens club?

Waxy in Montreal 2:58 PM  
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Waxy in Montreal 3:04 PM  

Second what @Rain & @SiS have said about ALICE Munro and her appropriate appearance in the syndigrid at this time. (What exactly did Ian know - and when?)

Also had SOCHI before DACHA - SOCHI would have been a much more current answer. DNF due to the NW corner where both TAJ & ABU were unknowns and EATS was assumed for dines - should have chewed on it a bit more!

ROBB NEN yesterday, Giant teammate JEFF KENT today - Barry Bonds tomorrow?

Captcha = dwardsh (Tolkien describing certain of his Middle-Earth residents after an ale or two too many?)

TAM 4:07 PM  

Three words in NE: DACHA, DAWGS, ZING. Ouch! Otherwise, no pain.

Dirigonzo 4:18 PM  

This played easy for me because for the second day in a row I caught the theme early with ITSABIRD and just wrote in the rest of the phrase when I came to the appropriate clues (@SiS - you pat my back and I'll pat yours). The stuff I flat-out did not know (e.g. DACHA) filled in nicely from the crosses. But of course perfection eluded my grasp with OWS at UAr/TrE. My son-in-law has a very funny story about GLAMUP - it involves a woman who applied spray glitter when another product was intended (enough said).

DMG 4:52 PM  

A lot of names in this one. Somehow I stumbled into JACKSPARROW, tho I don't really know who he is, and recognized LIRR when it appeared. On the other hand, I had to look up JEFFKENT, and he solved the SE for me, once I remembered ALICE and gave up trying to work in HH. I also spent too long wanting RCA in the NE, but eventually it worked out. I associate DAWGS with Maudlin's Willie and Joe.

So I ended mostly there. Came here to see what Hamlet was doing with AcODES, and misspelled JARaD, so couldn't see SEEME! And, while it filled itself, does anyone say "ring collar"? T-shirts have necklines, not collars.

@rain forest: I would be inclined to say that you and Sally both have a Plan B.

rain forest 5:15 PM  

@DMG Let's try this:

I have a Plan B; you have a Plan B;
so, Sally, how many PLANBS are there?

Or: Let's get all the syndilanders to each draw up a plan B, and then let's pool our PLANBS.

Or: never mind...

DMG 7:32 PM  

@rain forest: UNCLE

ricky james 4:06 AM  

What a treat of a puzzle! I started in the due North with LIRR and LBJ, and RAKED, and so JACKSPARROW went right in. ACRID, and then RHONE which I knew because I was in Valence last year.
Superman Leather Jackets

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