Creator of Sheriff Deadeye Cauliflower McPugg / THU 4-10-14 / Fast food chain founded by Italian immigrants / Alma mater for Toni Morrison Zora Neale Hurston / Sabin's study / Rio maker / Defib administrator

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Constructor: David Steinberg

Relative difficulty: Medium to Medium-Challenging

THEME: SIX FLAGS (59A: Popular day trip destination … or a hint to the starts of the answers to the starred clues) — just what it says:
Theme answers:
  • BLACK TIE (13A: *Kind of affair)
  • AMERICAN PIE (19A: *1971 song with the lyric "Helter skelter in a summer swelter")
  • RED SKELTON (25A: *Creator of Sheriff Deadeye and Cauliflower McPugg)
  • CHECKERED PAST (33A: *Sketchy history)
  • WHITE SALES (40A: *January events)
  • PIRATE RADIO (48A: *Some illegal transmissions)

Word of the Day: EMETIC (58A: Emergency room agent) —
Causing vomiting.
An agent that causes vomiting. (
• • •

Disappointing. Tuesday theme on a Thursday = huge let-down. Puzzle was slightly more difficult than usual (for a Thursday) due to amped-up cluing, but at its core it's just a "first words" puzzle, and not a terribly interesting one. I guess the low word count is what makes it tougher / later week. Shrug. There wasn't much value added there. It's not like the wide-open spaces were particularly scintillating. I mean, it's all fine. Nothing offensive (unless you find the vomit implied by the EMETIC offensive). Just not a very interesting *Thursday* puzzle, and not really that interesting a puzzle for any day of the week. I finished with an error at what is perhaps the puzzle's weirdest clue—12D: Honey-do list rejection. First, you don't reject an item on a honey-do list with a verbal rejoinder. Or … maybe you do, but the scenario is kind of forced / hard to imagine. Second, you don't reject an item on a honey-do list, period. You just do it. Or don't do it and hope she (I'm making gender assumptions here, as I've only seen this concept in a woman-listmaker / man list-doer scenario) doesn't notice. But "NO, DEAR." I'm not sure that's gonna work for you. I like my answer, "NO DEAL!" as it is a. not condescending and b. potentially disavowable as ironic. "Just kidding, dear. I'm on it." Anyway, REAL makes no sense for 30A: Bench warmer? (REAR), so that mistake is all on me. I was briefly thinking Johnny Bench …

Really had trouble getting out of the gate (in the NW). I somehow never even saw 14D: Rio maker (KIA) and "AMERICAN PIE" in my first fumblings up top—those would've saved me a bunch of time. I tend to wait to look at themers until I have at least a few crosses (mistake today). Finally got some traction UBOAT and SBARRO (after trying to make PT BOAT work at 7D: 8-Down sinker (ASHCAN)). Once I got going, the puzzle played Medium, maybe even a little easier than Medium. I don't normally love cross-referenced clues, but the grammar enthusiast in me really would've loved to see such clues on the intersecting HER and SHE. Favorite clue of the day was probably [Mark in the 60s] for DEE.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Mark 12:03 AM  

Just like yesterday's, except with (useful for solving) flags instead of boxes, cleverer clues, and more difficulty all around, especially when I “knew” that Zapper target must of course be BUG.

jae 12:05 AM  

Easy-medium again for me, mostly because the "flag" answers were gimmes.  I hear AMERICAN PIE at least twice a week on my car radio plus I bought the album when it came out in 71.  The rest were pretty obvious.   Only problem was wanting a tribe (oto, ote, ???) instead of a vehicle for 1a (Is Steinberg old enough to remember VCRs?).  Cute theme with some very nice fill...CSI MIAMI, the SHE/HER cross, PAISAN, MOPPET,  AL GORE, INXS... lots to like and I did a lot more than Rex did.   Nice Thurs. David.  I 

wreck 12:18 AM  

I liked it a lot! Played more like a Wednesday for me, but I thought it was clued well. I was scratching my head trying to figure out how "made it" was "TAGGED." It wasn't until I read Jeff Chen's write-up, that I realized it referred to the game of "Tag" (you're IT!). Brilliant!

Disappointed 12:26 AM  

What's a BLACK FLAG, other than a flag that's black? Does it mean anything other than a brand of cockroach killer? A CHECKERED flag means something, as does RED flag. Raising the WHITE flag means quitting, and AMERICAN flag has no metaphorical meaning, but does a BLACK flag even mean anything? How does a PIRATE flag even fit in here?

Just a bunch of flags.

Anonymous 12:31 AM  

Having never used "ute" to mean SUV nor referred to a remote control as a "zapper made the NW quite hard for me. Couldn't see what was going on there at all.

Moly Shu 12:38 AM  

Thanks for the BLACKflag picture @Rex, an iconic punk band. I was at a concert of theirs many years ago near the stage, and every time they'd stop to say something to the crowd, there were these kids standing right next to the stage (couldn't have been more than 12 or 13 years old) and they would scream "shut up and play! Play faster!" Black Flag would shut up and play, the kids would get pounded by the mosh pit, and everybody was happy.

Found the puzzle easy, had no trouble anywhere, no erasures or real sticking points. I usually struggle with @David's puzzles, but not this one. Maybe knowing the 4 acrosses in the NE helped as that section fell in no time. Liked MOPPET crossing PAISAN, and learned another new word. EMETIC. Very much in the like column.

Colin 12:50 AM  

I normally don't have so much trouble getting into the Steinberg mindset, but it took me a few minutes to start getting traction here. Aside from ASTA, ATV, NODEAR and ONS, I enjoyed this one. The clues for TAGGED and DEE were particularly inspired, and the SIX FLAGS revealer seemed a bit cleverer than this sort of theme often is. Not my favorite Steinberg puzzle (and a bit out of place for Thursday themewise, even if it was a long-ish solve for me), but his cluing is always so much better than a lot of what we've been getting lately and he's consistently one of my favorite constructors.

Casco Kid 1:30 AM  

Gave up at 80 minutes. About 60% grid filled with no progress for about 20 minutes. Googling didn't help much. Google for INXS made SIXFLAGS visible, but that didn't help solve any theme clues. Usually, I like to cheat on a few clues to see if that will help, but I didn't bother today.

Like so many Steinbergs, you start by solving his puzzle, but you finish constructing your own. The reaches back to his vague clues grow and grow until you're better off not looking at them. [12D Honey-do list rejection] NOtnow was my favorite invention in this puzzle, more common than and just as serviceable as the more strident NODEAR, as one day young David may discover. January events are WHITESnowS. I don't like my answer much, but it is better than David's WHITESALES. There's one of those every Saturday at the NATICK MALL. I never heard of an EMETIC or PIRATERADIO -- outside of Pittsburgh. How is zapper target a VCR? Is this some southern thing? How is a TINE a table poker? Who forks a table? Training ___. Training BLA works for me. MEH, too.

I'd call it absurdly undoable.

Earlier today I did a decade old Patrick Berry Thursday in 45 minutes with no googles. Spot on. The clues were subtle but afforded zero flexibility. David should do a few more PB1s himself.

John Child 1:30 AM  

I think this was the first David Steinberg puzzle I've enjoyed solving. I would rather have seen it another day of the week and had a "trick" or rebus puzzle on Thursday, but I liked the clueing and vocabulary.

Finished with an error that I will defend as a valid alternate solution: pOPPET and pINT. Anyone else?

NW was hardest for me also as I've never heard an SUV called a ute and TAGGED escaped me. Thanks @wreck for the explanation.

Jisvan 2:05 AM  

AGGRIEVE, IRRITANT, EMETIC, ENRAGE, LEER, SMEAR, LIE, DOIN, OOF! This was quite a TIRADE! (At least BABAR and AL GORE were trying to save the northwest from evil, so I can sleep at night!) @John Child: love your pINT and pOPPET! (What if hotels left pints on pillows, hmmm...)
Loved it! Nice Thursday, David Steinberg! Actually doable, for me, for once!

Doctor John 3:08 AM  

I have practiced full-time emergency medicine for 36 years. We have not used emetics like apomorphine or syrup of ipecac clinically for several decades. BTW we rarely "pump" stomachs either.
I did enjoy David's puzzle.

chefwen 3:09 AM  

Noticed the constructor and said to the cat, "well, so long easy week". Not so, whipped through this one so fast I had to double check to make sure I read his name right. Finished before cocktail hour and wondered what to do with my time. People Mag to the rescue.

Two write-overs bug before VCR at
3D and TORSo before TORSI at 29D. Loved the HER/SHE crossing, we needed to fit a candy bar in that area.

So, easy week continues. Will probably get my REAR kicked tomorrow.

loren muse smith 4:56 AM  

@Rex – how can I not have noticed the SHE/HER cross? Sheesh. So cool. And I cannot explain how on earth I saw NO DEAR with no crosses. I was checking to see if "tush" could be a bench warmer and saw NO DEAR immediately. I agree with your take on the clue, though. Maybe better would be "Husband's response to the question, "Do these pants make me look fat?" or "Am I ever wrong?" or "Do you care if I spend $400 dollars on a dress from the Talbot's catalogue?"

@Mark, @chefwen – me, too, for "bug" first.

@jae – me, too, on wanting a tribe there.

@wreck – I won't tell you what I kept considering for "made it" - _ A _ GED. I will say I watched the season of Vanderpump Rules, and this is a household word for those guys.

@Jisvan – I made a list like that, too, but mine had also ROAR AT and ILL (a word used in these parts to mean "in a bad mood." FWIW, in the same dialect, "backwards" means, simply, "shy." Took me a while to get that one.) HUNGRIER seems like it could be the cause of the incredibly bad mood.

@John Child – "pint/poppet" seems reasonable.

@Molly Shu – funny BLACK FLAG story!

@Doctor John – how interesting about not using EMETICs anymore. Wow. I can attest to the fact that hydrogen peroxide works beautifully on dogs. . . What do you do in the ER for people who have ingested something bad?

MOPPET lit is not a strong suit, so I did consider "Dumbo" first.

Hey – the northeast was full of cool trivia about HOWARD, S'BARRO, and AUSTIN! Man, I wish we had a Whole Foods within driving distance.

CHECKERED FLAG. I wonder if this and "checkered past" are phrases that interfere with "uncharted territory" because I *always* want to say "unchartered territory." Sometimes I say it accidentally and then feel dumb and worry about it the rest of the day.

David, I'm not afraid of your puzzles anymore, and in fact, you've become one of my favorite constructors. I dispatched this one with no bumps save PAISAN and EMETIC, which did emerge from the back of my brain. Thanks for the Thursday romp.

Danp 5:06 AM  

Do I understand that the amusement park actually has six distinct flags, three of which are just a solid color? And that is the theme here? If so, this is NOT a Tuesday theme. It is a Nickelodean theme.

pax234 6:44 AM  

@john child - I too had the poppet/pint combo. With a British DH it fit perfectly!

Gubdude 7:23 AM  

I just want to see an Arrested Development clue for "her"?

Susan McConnell 7:56 AM  


Anonymous 7:59 AM  

c'mon, t-rex - if you're going to reference black flag, why not post link to this rollin's classic:

An overacting David Caruso 8:02 AM  

"I'd say this puzzle was...

[removes glasses]


Generic Solver 8:22 AM  

For some reason I was interested in the ingredients in a Whole Foods generic "365 Everyday Value" product recently, and noticed on the label that the company was based in Austin. Having this strong foothold made the puzzle fly by for me. Just goes to show you that if you happen to know the right esoteric fact on any given day, you're in luck!

AliasZ 8:33 AM  

The second day in a row it was not the theme, it was the overall quality of the fill that made it a good challenge. This puzzle should have been themeless.

There is no cleverness or Thursday-ish twists to the theme here. I kept looking for one, but nope. Any nation in the world besides AMERICAN PIE could have been a theme answer: Canadian bacon, Swiss cheese, Cuban sandwich, French bistro, if you catch my drift. And other colors besides black, white and red: yellow, green, blue and rainbow. If SIX FLAGS were clued differently, avoiding the actual meaning of the word FLAG, it would have offered possibilities to entries like FLAGellate, FLAGstaff, FLAGstone, FLAGrant, unFLAGging, camouFLAGe, conFLAGration etc. To me, that would have made it a Thursday-worthy theme. This way it seemed arbitrary, forced and without any humor.

The puzzle stands on its own as an excellent themeless however. Words like AGGRIEVE, IRRITANT, TRAPPERS, TIRADE, the overall lack of dreck and the ramped-up cluing made it a pleasure. Well, except ROARAT, and the cartoonish "hey, hey, hey, it's Fat ALGORE."

Starting from SIX FLAGS / Great Adventure in Jackson, NJ, you get on the NJ Turnpike, then head west on the PA Turnpike straight to HER SHE, Pennsylvania.

Have fun!

joho 8:50 AM  

I started out exactly like @Rex with SBARRO/ASHCAN/UBOAT and almost ended with the same error at NODEAl. REAl is a word, at least, but it made no sense. Finally saw REAR and finished.

Did no one else have rugraT before MOPPET?

I think this theme will be really well received by flag lovers. :)

CHECKEREDPAST is a great answer.

EMETIC is ugly.

I missed my Thursday trick puzzle so this was a little too straightforward for me, but a nice puzzle just the same.

I don't think David can make a bad puzzle!

Anonymous 8:51 AM  

I rather enjoyed the puzzle, but it seemed more suited for Tuesday or possibly Wednesday. Had to look up Toni Morrison's alma mater, but that would have been more obvious if I'd solved a couple of crosses first. For me it was a pleasant solve, but would have been better suited earlier in the week.

Carola 8:52 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Andrew Morrison 8:52 AM  

I am no expert, but I found this one pretty easy. Did it in 2/3 my average for Thurs. Only the NW gave trouble, since I wanted ANT for zapper target. My grandmother called her first wireless remote a 'zapper' and used it to fire up the old Zenith for her usual Wheel of Fortune/Jeopardy doubleheader.

A BLACKFLAG in Formula One, and probably most motorsports, indicates that you are to retire from the race immediately.

Carola 8:54 AM  

i gave this one a "Bravo!" I agree that the theme was easy for a Thursday, but I liked all the different flag types and was happy to see a David Steinberg puzzle replete with nifty words rather than proper names and titles. Loved CHECKERED PAST, AGGRIEVE, MOPPET, TIRADE, and the tricky clues. I had a lot of fun figuring it all out and SAW No IRRITANTs.


@chefwen - Thanks for the HER SHE bar!

jberg 8:59 AM  

That's a lot of theme answers, and I liked it fine -- especially after I had to take out the 'oto' I had written in , with a confident groan, as my first entry. Easy for a Thursday, though, can't deny that.

I was puzzled by switch halves = ONS until just now; now I see it, so I'm happy.

@danp, I believe the park was first called "SIX FLAGS over Texas," then shortened when they preceded Whole Foods in going national. I believe it refers to Texas history, though I can only figure out 5 of them (Spain, Mexico, Lone Star Republic, USA, CSA--was there a Hapsburg flag in there at some early point?). But themes just have to work with the words, not the substance -- and these are, in fact, six flags.

I guess this is U-BOAT week in the Times!

Glimmerglass 9:08 AM  

Re NO DEAR: "You and the guys won't be drinking, will you?"

Mohair Sam 9:10 AM  

Rare case of the very easy Thursday here, just filled from top to bottom with little resistance. Did hang up for a minute or two with rugraT for MOPPET, but the crosses cured that quickly.

Disagree with most of Rex's comments today, except for his joy with the DEE clue (wondered for a while why I'd never heard of this DEE guy). NODEAR was clued cleverly I thought.

Agree with many above that this worked just fine and maybe better as a themeless.

Cannot believe we were on Steinberg's wavelength, on a Thursday no less. Maybe he worked with his grandparents to construct this one: VCR, UBOAT, ASHCAN, RED freakin' SKELTON, AMERICANPIE, PIRATERADIO, Dr. Sabin clue, and nobody under 60 has even heard the term MOPPET. Gram and Gramp may not have gotten a byline, but I hope David shares his fee with them.

Z 9:10 AM  

Either an easy Friday or a hard Wednesday, so why not run it on a Thursday. I had a lot of fun solving this. A few writeovers slowed me down, bug before VCR like lots of people, but also MOP top and SToIc in the SW.

Once again, the major complaint seems to be of the "I was expecting a Banana Split so this Hot Fudge Sundae sucks" variety. Dense theme, relatively little dreck in the short fill, fun misdirects (I liked "Table poker?), in the news answers like SBARRO, balanced with old pop culture answers like RED SKELTON and SHE (clued by the pre-fab four). All around, a quality job.

Questinia 9:26 AM  

Nicely clued, fleet, mildly flat.

John 9:32 AM  

I understand that the idea is to torture a common phrase or word so that the clue must be interpreted for its 4th or 5th, and least obvious connotation. Normally a ? will signal this exercise. So "Ute" and "Made it" stopped me. But since the Utes are a common Indian tribe, shouldn't 1 Across have ended with a "?" at the end? Certainly if 2 Down does, 1 Across should have too. Otherwise, kind of boring.

Laurence Katz 9:44 AM  

My initial reaction was that the theme of this puzzle was neither tricky nor clever enough to warrant a Thursday. But upon reflection, I get why it deserves a Thursday slot: It's all about the clues, which are plenty clever and tricky.
And they resulted in a rare mistake by Rex. Even rarer, I made the exact same mistake. "Real," of course, made no sense, but I shrugged it off. Then I came here and saw the right answer was "rear," which did not compute for a sec....then I got it. Yep, tricky and clever enough for a Thursday.

Wikipedia 9:46 AM  


Hartley70 9:50 AM  

I enjoyed this and whiz zed right along until I got stuck in the NW. I still can't see the Ute/Atv connection. Oh and I spent ages trying to make Hobart fit instead of Howard. Duh, would have been men's school then. The long clues came quickly so that was fun and easy for a Thursday.

quilter1 9:51 AM  

Slow to start then everything fell into place. Totally missed the theme til coming here, but then I usually do.

The Oxen of the Sun 9:54 AM  

I have NEVER heard of a "Honey-do list". total nonsense, to me.

chefbea 9:57 AM  

Got black tie right away. Then Red Skelton and white sale and figured all the rest were going to be colors...but no. Thought ute was an Indian so was stumped in the north west.

RnRGhost57 10:18 AM  

The Six Flags in California: Spain, Mexico, Bear Flag Revolt, USA, Russia (briefly in the 19th century on north coast), current state flag which of course derives from Bear Flag Revolt flag.
@jberg, maybe the 6th flag in Texas is the state flag, derived from from Lone Star Republic's

Bob Kerfuffle 10:21 AM  

Not a bad puzzle, not an easy puzzle, but, sorry, since I always like David Steinberg's work, just not a Thursday puzzle.

One write-over (Apparently no one else fell for it?), 7D, TINCAN (i.e., destroyer) before ASHCAN.

Steve J 10:24 AM  

My experience with and impressions of this one couldn't be more opposite compared to Rex's.

Found this very easy, finishing in Wednesday-like time. No, no trickery today, but the theme was perfectly fine and well-executed. The theme phrases were all solid, in the language and unforced, with a couple that were just great fill: CHECKERED PAST and PIRATE RADIO. There's a bare minimum of dreck and - specific to Steinberg - a bare minimum of that sense of trying too hard to be obscure or not really getting the nuance of a word.

That's two straight Steinberg puzzles I've not only not cursed (my usual response) but actually enjoyed (his Saturday from about a month ago was also quite good). Either I'm getting on his wavelength, or he's honing his raw talent.

@Z: Laughed at "I was expecting a Banana Split so this Hot Fudge Sundae sucks". While I think there's some legitimacy to that reaction, I do like to see things being changed up a little bit in terms of puzzle content. There's no rule that Thursdays have to involve trickery, or that it has to be confined to there. We had a Thursday-type puzzle last Tuesday, and most everyone loved it. I'd personally like to see things shaken up more. Difficult themed Fridays. Themeless Tuesdays. Etc.

@An overacting David Caruso: Now there's a tautology.

Doctor John 10:26 AM  

@ Loren
Emesis and gavage are not nearly effective enough at bringing up the toxin to warrant the risk of aspiration unless the ingestion happened very recently, is not sedating and is toxic enough to justify intervention.
Activated charcoal which has a large surface area is effective at ADsorbing many toxins.
Dialysis and charcoal hemodialysis can remove some toxins.
Lipid rescue for some highly lipid bound agents.
Supportive care with airway protection is key.

Occasionally, antidotes are available.
Ounce of prevention. Keep the stuff safely hidden away from the MOPPETS.
1-800-222-1222 is the national poison center number. They are there 24/7/365. An amazing community resource.

NCA President 10:27 AM  

I have not done one Steinberg puzzle that I have liked. In fact, almost 90% of them I highly dislike. I don't look at the name of the puzzle creator when I start. I rarely look at the name after I finish. But, most of the time I hate a puzzle, I'll look...and more often than not it is a Steinberg puzzle.

I've mentioned it before...he seems to come at cluing from the angle of simply looking through a thesaurus or dictionary and coming up with non-real clues/answers just for difficulty sake.

I know of no one who calls a remote a "ZAPPER."

EMETIC is way too contrived.

TINE as a table poker? That would be a fork, which happens to have TINEs. You could make the case that a fork's TINEs are also prongs, but no matter. Having TINE as a table poker is the puzzle equivalent of a joke that takes way too long to get to a lame punchline.

In fact, that's what these puzzles remind me of...way too much work for no more than you get out of them...which for me, is just a groan.


Masked and AnonymoUUs 10:32 AM  

Snoopin around (as usual), was surprised to see an answer clued as a revealer in a ThursPuz. Was extra surprised to see "starts of the answers" sittin there, in tht clue. Cool. Desperate ThursTheme! har. Allrighty, then.

Not that it's not a good puz. Seven themers! Clues designed to strangle the life outa yah. HER SHE. PTA PAT. Nice, feisty long stacks in the corners. Only 72 words. 70, not countin EMETIC 'n' OSE. Had fun. Limped home with a smile on my face. So, fair enough, young Mr. Steindavid...


Notsofast 10:32 AM  

I liked it. I'm warming up to D.S., but I also agree that it didn't seen like a Thursday puzzle. I like David's fresh clueing. He's fearless. Hello, Asta; haven't seen you in a while!

Gill I. P. 10:46 AM  

Is that it? Where's my Banana Split?
@chefwen at least you've got your MINT next to HER SHE...
Well, seeing AL GORE on top of RED SKELTON was something.

OISK 10:47 AM  

NCA President speaks for me as well. I generally dislike Steinberg puzzles, although I have correctly finished the last four or five. There are the usual "product or company" clues - six flags, Ute, (???) Sbarro, Kia, (David forgot to include a sneaker brand this time) computerese - What is a "live" blog?? Rock references, OK, I have heard of "american pie," something about Chevy's and Levies, but "Helter skelter???" More of the Monkees?? "Suicide Blonde?? I actually got INXS right away because I had the "X", and I have done enough Times puzzles to be aware that INXS is some sort of singing group… All of that garbage (to me - I know others think it is "fresh") is balanced out, however, by some very clever cluing. I do remember the Sabin vaccine; it came out just to late for me to avoid a very painful ( I was 10 ) Salk injection. I don't like David's puzzles, but this was a good one, well conceived, clever, and solvable. There is no reason he should be expected to write puzzles that are pleasing to 68 year old opera loving, rock phobic, non-texting guys like me.

OISK 10:49 AM  

Darn. I wrote "to late." Sorry, "Too late."

Too late...

Bisch 10:55 AM  

Squeaky clean. Obvious attention to constructioh in the grid and the fill. All of the theme answers are real things: there is nothing forced or convoluted. It played easy, but not every Thursday needs to be a workout. Looking over it again, I'm once more struck by how clean it is. OSE seems to be the only clunker. The theme is clever and flawlessly executed. Sometimes it seems as though this blogger goes on is negative autopilot. Unless the byline reads Patrick Berry, I expect the review to lead with all the things wrong with the puzzle. Whatevs. Great puzzle.

M and Also 11:47 AM  

Upon further review, I see that Steindavid had intended this to be a TuesPuz or WedPuz. The Shortzmeister made him turn around and write up some harder clues, and get rid of a coupla really fabulous weejects.

Can always tell a puz is gonna be clued extra-hard, when I can't get in the front door. 1-D, 2-D and 3-D were pretty intimidatin doormen. M&A had to sneak in at POLIO/LIE, which immediately served up REDSKELTON and then ASPECT. Finished in the NE corner, which tasked me somethin awful; didn't ever realize that "NODEAR" was an acceptable phrase. I learn so much, here.


OK. This runtpuz is gonna be hard enough to leave a mark. Those of U chefs that have trouble accessin it: thank yer lucky stars, and go bake cinnamon rolls, instead...

jmirk 11:49 AM  

The six flags over Texas were: Spain; France; Mexico; The Texas Republic; C.S.A.; U.S.A. . Every Texan learns this in elementary school.

Dawn 11:50 AM  

Now I know a name of puzzle constructor to be wary of.
Didnt finish, Mr. Steinberg.

I did love SHE/ HER cross.

CHECKEREDPAST was obvious after CHICKEN didnt work. BLACK flag is the insect repellant, maybe someone ese has mentioned this. Take away the white skull and BLACK flag could also reference pirates.

AliasZ 11:54 AM  

Syrup of ipecac was at one time recommended to be kept in all households with small children as an EMETIC, however its production and sale have been recently discontinued due to its limited health benefits and questionable efficacy. Misuse of ipecac syrup has been blamed for the death of singer Karen Carpenter in 1983.

Two utes.

Favorite clue: "Made it" for TAGGED. I stared at it for a while until decided to place the accent on it instead of "made."

French composer Francis Poulenc (1899-1963) wrote a delightful work titled L'histoire de BABAR, le petit éléphant for solo piano and narrator in 1940, based on the children's stories by writer/illustrator Jean de Brunhoff (1899-1937). The work was orchestrated by another French composer, Jean Françaix (1912-1997) in 1945. The above link is of this orchestral version, narrated by Jacques Brel (1929-1978), who is obviously no longer alive and well and living in Paris. It is 27 minutes long but it's worth every one of them.

crossvine 12:06 PM  

I had trouble in the NW corner as did some other commenters. That was the one that kept me up late last night.

I did think the flag theme was kind of weak and liked the idea that a stronger take would have been FLAGellate, etc.

I did think of BLACK FLAG as the brand of insect repellent (still around?), which jived nicely with my original ideas for Zapper target (BUG or FLY).

Z 12:11 PM  

If there are peas on my plate I will use the leftmost tine of my fork gently push them off to one side. If the chef makes an appearance... well let's just say that I'll give whirled peas a chance.

M and A-roarat 12:20 PM  

@Z: har.
Peace on Earth, good will toward pun groaners.

Anonymous 12:25 PM  

are you actually near the Monsterous Natick Mall or was that a "Natick" joke? Claire in Belmont.

Anonymous 12:27 PM  

as a mom we were told to keep it in the medicine chest and not to use it, good marketing scheme..Claire

chefbea 12:31 PM  

@M&A This chef just printed out your puzzle. Not going to make cinnamon rolls - made potato chip cookies yesterday

Fred Romagnolo 12:33 PM  

@jberg: I'm guessing you suggested Habsburg because of Maximillian; He was during our Civil War so Texas was out of the picture. For "item" I had soso, thinking 2 stars was less than desireable (hotel). I thought zapper was a microwave. But I did make at finally

John V 12:36 PM  

The usual cavalcade of proper names, pop stuff, etc. Could not get SW, so DNF. I mean, I hate myself when I cringe at seeing a constructor's name, but there it is.

HER/SHE/WHENCE is not a pretty sign, IMHO.

Bob Kerfuffle 12:36 PM  

@M&A - I asked for it, and you gave it to me, good!

What a brilliant puzzle; I wish I had been able to solve it. But, despite thinking I *knew* what the answers were, I was left hanging like the exuvia of a cicada, still clinging to the bark of a tree, but feeling quite hollow inside.

Loved it when I cheated a bit and finished, although the system had a hard time accepting the answer.

Don't stop - you are improving the art of crossword constructing every day!

mathguy 12:39 PM  

I've never heard zap to mean using the remote on a tv or a VCR, but I checked the online dictionary and it's legit. That and the devilish clue for TAGGED did me in. Being defeated was a downer so I can't say that I enjoyed the puzzle. But I thought that the theme was quite nice and it helped me fill in the squares.

Anonymous 12:40 PM  

@Alias merci! and as a mom I first thought of the computer game Zapper! sorry for my ipecac comment before reading all the way through. Thanks Doc for Poison control number, am emailing to all my kith and kin. Good dog Asta! --Claire

Pirate M and A 12:44 PM  

@Bob K: har+.

"The Emetic of Constructioneers"

Mohair Sam 1:07 PM  

@NCA President - I see you are not the only poster zapped by ZAPPER. In this household the term ZAPPER is the only one we use for the many remotes. Maybe it's a regional thing.

@An overacting David Caruso (8:02) - Loved your post. But isn't your screen name redundant?

Ludyjynn 1:18 PM  

Is there a full moon or what?! This was, dare I say it, an easy solve for me. Until very recently, like @SteveJ noted, David Steinberg puzzles were an enigma to me. This was a pleasure to navigate. Really laughed when I saw the ALGORE/KOCH Brothers references.

I remember how peeved I was to discover that only one season of CSI:MIAMI was actually filmed there. After that, they just spliced-in establishing exterior shots and did the rest of filming south of LA. If you catch the reruns on WE TV, you can tell the difference.

IMHO, this was a respectable theme, well-executed. Sorry, Rex. David Steinberg, I am now an official fan and will no longer quake in dread when I see your byline. Thanks!

chefbea 1:21 PM  

We call the remote..The Clicker

lobsterkatie 1:25 PM  

For me this was one of those were the easy clues were very easy and the hard clues were impossible -- not much in between. Definitely reminded me of the bad old days when I was 12 and the puzzle constructors were 50 and I had *no clue* what they were talking about most of the time. ASTA/VCR/RED SKELTON/MOPPET/PAISAN/ASHCAN/ute/Sabin... all 100% new to me (except VCR, which I've obviously heard of and grew up with, but have never myself owned).

Oh, well.

lobsterkatie 1:26 PM  


Arlene 1:31 PM  

Did not finish - was cruising along fine when the SW did me in - specifically "EMETIC". Interesting clues, though - definitely a specific style.

Jim Finder 1:51 PM  

So, who is/was Mark Dee, or Dee M... wait, I just got it.

Regarding TAGGED (made it), I was thinking baseball ... not perfect reasoning, but it seemed good enough.

Dawn 1:55 PM  

Since the discussion of emetics continues, I cannot but help to remember an April event involving hydrogen peroxide and dogs.

Now 25 years past, we gave daughters Easter baskets and left for church (not wise). On our return, found their baskets devoid of chocolate and dog, Henry, looking happy.

While the girls cried, Henry and I were in yard with peroxide bottle. It worked! He lived to steal pot roasts and take chunks out of newly decorated birthday cakes for many years to come!

An overacting David Caruso 2:34 PM  

The comments about my screen name are correct. It is indeed...

[removes aviator shades]


[puts aviator shades back on]

...inasmuch as it is tautological, repeats itself, and says the same thing over and over.

Tiffany Johnson 3:12 PM  

Made It? with a capital I and/or in quotes would have been better to go with the game of Tag. Ute as an SUV? In no universe I have ever known. Emetic is one of those words you hear only in crosswords (or medical journals from the past century). I had PINT/POPPET. Used to work at Whole Foods so knew Austin right away! Got the theme right away with INXS/SIX FLAGS. WHITESALES in January? Um, no.

Anonymous 3:21 PM  

Don't know why so many had trouble with zapper. Like Mohair Sam that's what I've always called the remote. Worked in developing countries for many years before settling in NYC. No idea where I picked it up. My 15 year old always corrects me, however, when I ask "where's the zapper?"

dk 3:35 PM  

🌕🌕 (2 Moons)

I will give you two guesses as to something I might want to use a Zapper on.

Another difused blast from the past puzzle. To wit:

According to my Company Store catalog WHITESALES are never ending.

REDSKELTON - bring me the pigeon.

MONOGRAM - the only place to have one is on the tail of one's shirt.

SIXFLAGS - oft disputed gang territory in So. Cal.

ps. Did you hear Rex DOIN Archie?

sanfranman59 4:00 PM  

Midday report of relative difficulty (see my 8/1/2009 post for an explanation of my method and my 10/15/2012 post for an explanation of a tweak to my method):

All solvers (median solve time, average for day of week, ratio, percentile, rating)

Thu 15:15, 18:26, 0.83, 20%, Easy-Medium

Top 100 solvers

Thu 10:09, 10:31, 0.96, 39%, Easy-Medium

Steve J 4:01 PM  

@Jim Finder: I also thought of the baseball use of TAGGED.

@Dawn: Your dog/chocolate/hydrogen peroxide story reminded me a great Louis CK clip where he was on Conan, talking about having to get his dog to swallow hydrogen peroxide because it ate some chocolate.

retired_chemist 5:34 PM  

The six flags over Texas: Spain, France,Mexico, The Republic of Texas, CSA, and USA, according to Wikipedia.

retired_chemist 5:38 PM  

I too am warming up to David Steinberg. Since I generally don't much care about themes, any weakness others perceived in the theme was not a weakness to me. I saw some very nice cluing and some good fill.

Thank you, David.

Dawn 5:42 PM  

@Steve J
Its my own material, honestly! But thanks for the compliment...

Glad someone had the wherewithal to look that up. But I dont know where they found the flags to represent Six Flags over St Louis!

JenCT 6:23 PM  

@Rex: " don't reject an item on a honey-do list, period. You just do it." I love that!

@The Oxen: Oh, it's a real thing! "HONEY, can you DO these 27 things today? Preferably, before breakfast?"

Thanks for the useful info, @Doctor John.

sanfranman59 10:03 PM  

This week's relative difficulty ratings. See my 8/1/2009 post for an explanation and my 10/15/2012 post for an explanation of a tweak I've made to my method. In a nutshell, the higher the ratio, the higher this week's median solve time is relative to the average for the corresponding day of the week.

All solvers (this week's median solve time, average for day of week, ratio, percentile, rating)

Mon 5:45, 6:12, 0.93, 16%, Easy
Tue 7:19, 8:32, 0.86, 11%, Easy
Wed 8:21, 10:13, 0.82, 11%, Easy
Thu 15:21, 18:26, 0.83, 21%, Easy-Medium

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:46, 3:58, 0.95, 21%, Easy-Medium
Tue 4:39, 5:11, 0.90, 14%, Easy
Wed 5:22, 6:14, 0.86, 12%, Easy
Thu 9:46, 10:31, 0.93, 33%, Easy-Medium

spacecraft 11:54 AM  

Ah, young David: do you ever expect to be married? And if so, how long might it last? (We're talkin' days here, not years.) If the words NODEAR ever escape your lips, you are in for a lifetime of alimony. Learn this NOW.

To the puzz. While I won't say I *hate* DS grids, they do take me out of my comfort zone; he always includes something from modern technology and/or culture that leaves me clueless. What a way to clue SHE/HER! The movie I shoulda known, it was an Oscar nominee ferheavensake. But that old-school album cut that few of us remember, that threw me.

My other near-natick was right at 1a. Took me a while to get that "Ute" meant a vehicle, not a Native AMERICAN. And "Made it?" finally lit a bulb in the ol' brain: "TAG(GED), you're it!" I have zapped bugs, game aliens and countless cups of cold coffee--but never a VCR.

Thewonderful REDSKELTON started me off with a rare theme gimme. And no, he was not CORN. Did the middle first, went down and got the revealer (duh, for Steinberg), up to the NE, where heWN stalled me a bit before getting AUSTIN, and at last that sticky thing at the start. Must have stared at A__, with _AGGED and _CR, for several minutes before finally seeing it.

Two yucky pair. Again.

Anonymous 1:18 PM  

Boo Rex writeup. I liked it a lot.

Steinberg very clever fellow. Look out for when he becomes 21.

Ron Diego

Pair of 9s and pass

rain forest 2:06 PM  

Interesting that people often make statements as to what they think a puzzle on a Thursday should be. I don't get it. Certainly, this puzzle was of Thursday quality/difficulty, with some great entries as noted.

@Spacey, you are correct. I said "NO DEAR", and am now divorced. Bye-bye, half my pension. But I digress, a la M&A.

When I got BLACK, RED, and CHECKERED, in that order, I initially thought we were looking for checkers terms. Not the case. Only got SBARRO because it was in a puzzle last week.

Nice one.

Straight. Check, hoping to be raised.

Solving in Seattle 3:13 PM  

I started with the theme at 59A and worked my way clockwise through the flags. Loved PIRATERADIO.
NW toughest for me - almost waved the WHITEflag.
ASHCAN UBOAT is a noce piece of WWII history for a kid as young as David to know. Good puzzle with no cheap fill.

Hey @Waxy, your team is doing well! Good luck.

Eight numbers available and the best I can do is 3 pair. Out.

Dirigonzo 3:30 PM  

I admit to a twinge of trepidation when I saw it was a DS construction, but I ended up loving it. His early puzzles always seemed heavy on facts and low on fun (to me)but this one had some real pizazz to it. Given David's youth the training-BRA could be all he's had experience with, WHENCE the clue.

Like @Bob Kerfuffle I had a UBOAT sinking a tinCAN before I reread the clues and realized I had the wrong sinker - an ASHCAN (as my dad, a tincan sailor from WW II, referred to depth charges) sank the UBOAT; I like it much better that way.

In the end, the "Ute Zapper" did me in as I never glommed on to the vehicular reference and ATo/oCR seemed marginally plausible (or desperate, pehaps).

But back to Table poker where I am looking at fives full of treys so of course I raise.

DMG 5:01 PM  

Struggled with this one, and eventually Naticked out in the mid-south. No idea of the Monkey's song, or the movie, and my PIRATEdidea didn't help. Anyway, I somehow ended up with twoFLAGS crossing some other stuff I couldn't hack (INXS really ??). Knew something was deeply wrong, but there it was.

Three 4's, two 6's. I'm out.

Waxy in Montreal 9:52 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Waxy in Montreal 9:58 PM  

Natticked as per @Diri with OCR/ATO. Also had REAL/NODEAL with a way less-than-convincing link between the bench and the Real Madrid soccer team in mind.

Otherwise, found this a challenging but fair Thursday.

Trust Bruin fans currently in the ASHCAN don't feel too AGGRIEVEd and will clamber onto the Canadiens bandwagon as they begin the next Stanley Cup playoff round against the New York Rangers Saturday pm.

GO HABS GO!!! (as per 45A).

dmast 11:44 AM  

I'm a Sunday-Thursday type solver. That being said, I did a quick run through the clues, and couldn't figure out even one! One of the other comments above referenced "getting into a Steinberg mindset" in order to solve his puzzles. Well, that is clearly not my mindset either. An entirely wasted puzzle for me.

Dirigonzo 3:37 PM  

@dmast - don't let Friday or even Saturday puzzles intimidate you. They may kick your butt at first and maybe you won't finish the grid right away, but around here we don't call that defeat, we call it a learning experience. All of us are at one place or another on the learning curve. Once you start to do them I think you'll discover that late-week puzzles are not only the most challenging, they're also the most fun.

OK, @Waxy - GO HABS GO!!!

Waxy in Montreal 4:09 PM  

Thanks @Diri. Never too late to see the light...

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