Half of hip-hop's Black Star / THU 7-3-14 / Female rapper with 2002 hit Gangsta Lovin / One named singer with 2003 hit Rock Wit U Awww Baby / Aptly named Olympics star / Dwarf planet beyond Pluto / Detective of '60s-'70s TV

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Constructor: Luke Vaughn 

Relative difficulty: Challenging



THEME: MOUNT ST. HELENS (39A: It left part of itself in 11 states in 1980) — ASH from this volcano can be found all over the grid (in 11 different squares)

Word of the Day: ASHTON Eaton (60D: Olympic decathlon gold medalist ___ Eaton) —
Ashton James Eaton (born January 21, 1988) is an American decathlete and Olympic champion, who holds the world record in both the decathlon and heptathlon events, and is only the second decathlete (afterRoman Šebrle) to break the 9,000-point barrier, with 9,039 points.
He competes for the Oregon Track Club Elite team based in Eugene, Oregon. In college, Eaton competed for the University of Oregon, where he was a five-time NCAA champion, and won The Bowerman award in 2010. In 2011, Eaton won the first international medal of his career, a silver, in the decathlon at the 2011 World Championships. The following year, Eaton broke his own world record in the heptathlon at the 2012 World Indoor Championships, and then went on to break the world record in the decathlon at the Olympic Trials. After setting the world record, Eaton easily won the gold medal at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. (wikipedia)
• • •

The more I look at this one, the more I like it, at least in terms of the theme conception. Didn't catch the "11 states" / 11 theme squares connection until I started preparing this write-up—that's a very nice touch, considering the central revealer seemed strong enough on its own to hold this thing together. There is some very nice fill in here, particularly where the hidden ASHes are concerned. The rebus square is always better when it is well and truly hidden (in this case, I mean 'inaudible'), so I liked ON A SHORT LEASH and TEXAS HOLD 'EM the best of the rebus-related answers. My main problem with this one was that once I discovered the gimmick (ASH squares), there wasn't anything left to do but find them. In practice, I found this somewhat tedious. On the one hand, I was grateful for the rebus, as it *definitely* helped me solve: SE corner went down in a flASH because SODASHOP (49D: Place to get a malted) was a gimme once I knew what I was looking for. But uncovering SLASH after CLASH after GNASH, well, it ground me down a little after a while. So this puzzle falls under the category of "Puzzles That I Recognize Are Very Well Made But That I Enjoyed Only A Little For Reasons That Are Probably Highly Personal And Idiosyncratic." There is one problem though—see if you can spot it:



That NW corner was a killer, first because it was where I started, and I could get only the weakest of footholds before falling down again and again, and second because even after I got the ASH theme, I couldn't figure out 1A: Sheepish (ASHAMED). All I wanted was ABASHED, which fit the clue, and fit in the grid, but did not otherwise work. Forgot ASHCROFT ever existed and spent some time trying to remember the other Bush appointee who was so terrible … still can't remember his name … Gonzales? *Yes*, Alberto Gonzales! If this had been an ALE rebus, I'd've been in business. But no. It was a really good day if you're a big fan of the early 2000s, what with ASHCROFT and EVE (4D: Female rapper with the 2002 hit "Gangsta Lovin'") and ASHANTI (53D: One-named singer with the 2003 hit "Rock Wit U (Awww Baby)") in the house. That is probably not the kind of company ASHCROFT is used to keeping, but whoomp, there it is. MOS DEF (28A: Half of hip-hop's Black Star) adds to the puzzle's strong Hip-Hop flavor/a.


One other main problem: wanted FELT instead of WEPT (43A: Had pity (for)). Seems small, and it is, but the consequences of that mistake seemed huge. Kept me from coming down easily into that SE corner of the grid. The inclusion of ASHEN in this puzzle is a tad disappointing, as it's the only ASH that actually relates directly to ASH. Would've been more elegant to run the table with non-ASH-realted ASHes. But again, this is good work. Much better than SO-SO (57A: All right). The ASH onslaught was a bit relentless, but that was, in its way, fitting. In parting, let me make the random observation that MOUNT ST HELENS can be parsed as MOUNTS THE LENS, and now that is all I can see when I look at the grid.

I leave you with a flick called (almost) OON FLIC:



Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

109 comments:

wreck 12:09 AM  

This was a tough slog, but gettable. Even after I figured out that the rebus was ASH, I still struggled to find them scattered in the puzzle. Probably just me, but I would have preferred that the rebus placements had some kind of rhyme or reason (maybe a volcano shape in the grid or something). I didn't realize there were 11 "ASH" squares until I came here, but that was just a throw-in and no bearing on the puzzle.

SenorLynn 12:11 AM  

Very nice, Mr Vaughn. Not very hard, but I was slowed down by filling in the rebi: 24:21.
REHASH was my 1st discovery, & it went quickly from there. Didn't get WEPT/had pity for,but OK. Liked LOO/throne, but I bet the Queen blushed.
Just got the new issue of the New Yorker, which has a good article on Brian ENO, so 56A was a gimme.

Steve J 12:12 AM  

I was in Seattle for work the first half of this week. Flying from San Francisco to Seattle, you pass right by MOUNT ST HELENS. Thirty-some years later, it's still jarring and impressive to be flying over the Cascades, seeing all these perfect conical mountains, then notice the one that has nearly half of it missing.

Picked up on the fact that there was a rebus very early (being a huge James Bond geek, I knew the answer for 31A had to be TEXAS HOLD 'EM - and I'm still annoyed they ditched the baccarat showdown from the novel in favor of the then-very-trendy poker), but it took me a moment longer to see that the rebus was ASH. Knew that as as soon as I got to 1D.

As Rex mentioned, the downside of this is that once you figured out the ASH rebus, this became a little mechanical. Another downside he didn't mention is the very choppy grid. Lots of short fill, some of it struggling to get to SO-SO.

I'm also in the camp of admiring the construction but not really having fun with this. I liked the concept - even if I blanked on the fact that the ASH rebuses were related to the volcano until I sat staring at the puzzle after it was completed - but there wasn't much joy for me.

(@Rex: I'm probably being dense, but I don't see what the problem is that we're supposed to spot via the map.)

Anonymous 12:20 AM  

The map shows debris/ash in 12 states, not 11.

Clark 12:24 AM  

I count 12 states. I suppose the clue should have read "It left part of itself in 11 states other than the one it is located in."

It took me forever to figure out the rebus. I had much of the puzzle filled in with holes all over the place. Finally I noticed that CLASH and SLASH had something in common . . .

Mark 12:28 AM  

Not only does the French (French Canadian?) map show twelve states that received ash, but it also shows how the ash politely halted at the Canadian border in such a neat line.

jae 12:30 AM  
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jae 12:32 AM  

Loved it!  Medium-tough for me because rebus.   The gestalt more than makes up for stuff like...OON, ONONE, DSO...  Plus, ON A SHORT LEASH, BOLT, MOS DEF, ASHANTI, TEXAS HOLDEM, ASHLEY OLSEN, METH...provide a fair amount of zip. 

I had no idea the fall was spread over 11 states.  Maybe it's @Clark 11 states not including WA.?

We all should know ESSENE by now.

@Steve J.  Me too for getting the rebus with TEXAS HOLDEM and annoyed also describes my feelings about the remake. 

A fun tricky Thurs. and an excellent debut.  Hope to see more from Mr. Vaughn.

Mark 12:39 AM  

Knew it was ASHCROFT, but he was too tall. Knew it was BACCARAT, but how could that word begin with TEX---? Smiled and enjoyed when the rebus fell for me.

Have often (every time I hear it, in fact) noted the aptness of the name BOLT; even more aptly, a few minutes after I typed it in, a contestant on Wheel of Fortune failed to solve "LI_E A BOLT FROM THE BLUE". He guessed the letter V instead of K and thereby passed on his potential winnings to the next contestant.

Dusty Rhodes 12:43 AM  

You know, Oklahomans are extraordinarly proud of their dust. During the Dust Bowl, they just let it accumulate so they could brag about how deep it got in their house. That, or they were just too damned lazy to clean it up. Anyway, at that time they took credit for every piece of dust that fell in the US north and west of the Red River. In the '30s, it got dusty in Maine? Yup, that's Oklahoma dust.

So yeah, sure the ash & dust from Mt St Helens skipped the 1000 miles from Denver to land in OK City, with not a speck inbetween.

Yup, sure.

Steve J 12:43 AM  

@Clark and @Mark: Ah, yes, you're right. I missed that little corner of Minnesota when I counted.

@jae: Don't get me wrong, I loved Casino Royale and think it's actually one of the best movies in the entire series (it's up there with the early Connery films, in my opinion). It's just the choice of trendy poker over classic baccarat that annoyed me.

Casco Kid 1:02 AM  

Fun puzzle. Spectacular theme density. Medium-challenging here too. I got ASH off ASHCROFT, which I remembered by humming a few bars of "Let the eagle soar...".

From there on it was a joy to find the full ASH array: 18 clues containing one ASH & two double dipping. Impressive. This is what the rebus-loving community calls a Thursday.

58 min. Scratched at ANTe/ASHANTe. I rationalized the 'e' by imagining the singer calls herself ah-shawn-TAY (hmm, guess not), and ANTe competes with PRO insofar as antecedents compete with progenitors for preeminence. But ok. I get it.

Casco Kid 1:04 AM  

http://on.cc.com/OCb8S6 this link gets to Ashcroft singing.

chefwen 1:51 AM  

Got it early on with ST(ASH)ED and WA(ASH)ING (ASH) ORE, but never connected MOUNT ST. HELENS with the ashes, GEE, talk about slow on the uptake. Sometimes it takes a two by four! Anyhoo got 'er done even if I did not know exactly what the hell I was doing.

Googleing only involved the RAPHOLES, Jon's definition, I take no credit.

Mark 2:20 AM  

While some of us are on the subject of ASHCROFT: They wouldn't let me vote against him for attorney general, but I did get to vote against him when he won governor of MO. Best of all was the year 2000 when Ashcroft became the only (so far) Senate candidate to lose an election to a dead person. (Thus he was at liberty to become Bush's A.G.)

Moly Shu 3:22 AM  

Liked it. Got the rebus at CLASH, but still had some difficulty. Stuck in the NW until I remembered ASHCROFT. Got a lot of the ASH's before the central theme, so it was a nice aha moment when it came in to view.

jae 4:35 AM  

@Steve J - Sheesh! Liked Daniel Craig and the remake very much.  Should have clarified that I too was annoyed about the switch from baccarat to hold'em.  Seemed like pandering to me.   Bond playing baccarat makes sense, hold'em not so much. 

Charles Flaster 5:13 AM  

Loved whole puzzle both before and after the rebus was found. Took 34 minutes with half of it after rebus discovered at sodASHop.
Did not know of REO trucks but perfectly clued.Do not know many rappers so crosses helped a great deal.
Casino Royale(s) were two terrible Bond movies.Texas holdem in second one was inane. Best --- FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE.
Sort of remember a puzzle with a Bond theme and some of the originals named in it but not sure.
Brilliant puzzle. Thank you LV.

Yasmin 5:33 AM  

BTW - Luke Vaughn, not Vaughan. Thanks for the positive review of my brother's first published crossword!! :)

loren muse smith 6:28 AM  

What a puzzle! Once I got my fill-in-the-blank, ON ONE, I went back up to the northwest and immediately had that Rebus Tickle because "shamed" or ASHAMED seemed to work there. I was so impressed to read Rex considered "abashed" there, too. I never noticed that they share the ASH.

Also, Rex, how cool that you found that picture of OON FLIC. I don't thank you enough for the work and thought you put in here day in and day out, despite the trolls and their mystifying insistence on lurking and taking pot shots.

Unlike others with the gambling, I finally saw the trick at WASHING ASHORE/ASHEN. I initially had the ridiculous "washed out" for the shells, but since that worked for the clue "colorless," I figured it out.

I think the next square I found was SODA SHOP, but very early I had "shoppe" there.

Other troubles:

"ist" for OON
"hit" for SMASH
"Nicene" for ESSENE (Oops, @jae)
"Moesha" for MOSDEF
"wow" for GEE
"Eno" malapopped for EMI

Knowing the rebus didn't help me as much as it seemed to help others (I'll come stand next to you, @Wreck); seemed like I had to fight for every single one. Also – I had a dnf since I put the really-off "throes" crossing "Oanti," the latter being just another musician I was unaware of and felt bad for because of a dumb name. If I had noticed the problem, I probably could have fixed it. Damn. Should have counted the rebus squares.

The lack of rebus symmetry made this even more challenging, but I think the symmetry of the two answers with a double ASH was a really nice touch.

@Fellow Runtmeisters – Mom and Dad are visiting, and before that, I had some guests, so my puzzle time has been limited. Cool thing, though - non-puzzling Mom wants me to show her how to solve a Runt online. At least she will be blissfully unaware of all the rules that are broken. Speaking of which – here's one with two unchecked squares:

www.xwordinfo.com/Solve?id=4676&id2=856

So this was your debut, Luke?! Really, really nice job. I had missed the whole 11 count thing. Even better! I'll look forward to many more from you! Enjoy your day in the spotlight! (And, Yasmin – I hope you brag all day about your brother!)

Katie Lennon 6:45 AM  

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Mohair Sam 7:28 AM  

What's not to love with this one? Clever theme, very little "-ese", and current century clues.

Played easy/medium here, we finished the puzzle before we finished breakfast - unusual on a Thursday. 1d told us it was a rebus (Gonzales or Ashcroft), and CRAVE told us it was ASHCROFT - so we were off and running. I can see that if we had first worked across AbashED would have been a gimme and we would have lost a ton of time as did Rex and others.

@lms said this is a debut puzzle - we are suitable impressed here. Keep 'em coming Luke Vaughn.

Got slowed a little by the 21st century pop culture, but all the names rattled somewhere in mind so we got through unnaticked.

jberg 7:48 AM  

@Mohair Sam, are you saying that the 21st Century is post-current?

I loved this one, eventually. Took me all the way down to ASHEN to get the rebus, which led quickly to WASHING ASHORE and THRASHES/ASHANTI, but then I struggles some more. I never wrote in the obvious 'ovine' for 1A, but I did write in 'abashed;' and I read the book (in days of ELD), but never saw the movie -- so when I saw baccarat wouldn't fit, I thought it must be some other French blackjack-like game. Even when I had HOLDEM, I told myself it couldn't be TEXAS, as that would have been an anachronism (I don't go to movies much, you can see). But then I saw the rebus worked, so it had to be.

I had actually looked at CASH OUT early, figuring it could be an out rebus/ crossing 'cared about' if only that weren't too long.

It was only near the end that I put Reagan and Mondale out of my head and saw MOUNT ST. HELENS, whereby a tremendous wave of joy washed over me as I realized what all those ASHes were doing strewn around.

Other problems: pAtES before NAPES, and DSc before DSO, which made it hard to see that 51D was not a snake.

@Casco and @Loren, thanks for the links - but DO try this at home.

Susan McConnell 7:49 AM  

I thought this was clever and fun. I had the rebus at TEX(ash)OLDEM, but had a bit of trouble parsing the revealer,which I kept reading as MOUNTS THE...

Andrew Morrison 8:13 AM  

Can we just solve and discuss the puzzles without the snarky political comments? Left, right, I don't care. The crossword is my escape from all that noise, if only for a few blessed minutes.

On the key answer, I debated between MTSAINTHELENS and MOUNTSTHELENS. Cleared that up with crosses pretty quickly. Overall a nice puzzle.

Nancy 8:14 AM  

Saw the ASH very early on, but like chefwen, never saw the revealer. I like the puzzle much more now that I know there IS a revealer and what it is. Very clever. Other than being thrown off for a while by ABASHED for ASHAMED, which bollixed up the whole NW until the end, I had no trouble with this at all. "Medium" for me.

AliasZ 8:19 AM  


What a cool rebus puzzle. And a debut, no less.

Ring-a-round the rosie,
A pocket full of posies,
Ashes! Ashes!
We all fall down.


After staring at a mostly empty grid for a while, the rebus finally dawned on me on leaving the casino. With OUT already in place, I thought: what do I normally do when leaving the casino after hours of TEXAS HOLD'EM? Go OUT? Am OUT (as of money)? Ex OUT? Pf OUT? ShOUT? It did not want to come to me. But then I thought, what do other people do? Oh, they CASH OUT! That opened up the 10 other ASHes pretty fast. I thought for a moment that there would be an ASH in the revealer as in MOUNTSTHELENASH but ERIASH is not a thing. When I realized that 39A has no ASH, I thought that was even cooler.

Favorites: ON A SHORT LEASH, Throne room in Buckingham Palace. Least favorite: OWE/OWN and LOL/LOO crossings.

This weekend I will wear my flASHy and fASHionable BermudASHorts. Not being too bASHful, I'll try to crASH a July 4-party for some Hungarian goulASH, mASHed potatoes and ASHot or three of whiskey, and will try to avoid the KalASHnikov rifle. I know it's ASHot in the dark, but I hope it won't be hot ASHell.

Now I have to get my ASH in gear and go to work.

But not before sharing with you this quintessentially American music. It is the second movement of New England Triptych by William Schuman (1910-1992), based on a hymn tune by William Billings (1746-1800) titled When Jesus WEPT.

PS. If there is anyone out there who still believes Arjen Robben was fouled in the Netherlands-Mexico game, enter "Arjen Robben dive" into Google or Bing. You'll find out that the he escaped retrospective punishment from FIFA after he admitted diving in the game. Cheating is cheating is cheating. Ugly. If this is the only way The Netherlands could get into the semifinals, they do not deserve to be there. Simple solution: diving = automatic yellow card. Diving in the penalty area = automatic red card. That would stop it.

Happy Fourth eve day, everyone.

Glimmerglass 8:38 AM  

Fun rebus. I started with "ovine" (hackneyed crosswordese for 1A), but after I got ON A SHORT LEASH, I changed 1A to Ab[ash]ED. Oh my, that didn't work either! MANNIX bailed me out. Good job, Luke.

Generic Solver 8:51 AM  

Had croft for 1 Down, so I knew it had to be a rebus, but Brent Scowcroft was the only governmental "Croft" coming to mind. So I thought maybe the rebuses were about various types of ships or vessels (e.g. "scow"). Fortunately, I realized that was a bit too wacky a concept, and discovered the "Ash" rebus somewhere else.

Anonymous 9:03 AM  

@Alias Z - What's "retrospective punishment"? You have to go kneel in a corner and think about what you did?

Norm 9:06 AM  

This was very nice. Even after getting the rebus, there were sticking points (singers and actors are not my strong point), so it was a worthy Thursday puzzle. Brought back memories of my temporary move to Seattle in August 1980 when girlfriend and I drove north from Berkeley. As I recall, the ash was still thick on the ground beside Interstate 5, and I think we stopped a couple of time to make sure it wasn't covering the vents for the radiator.

Anonymous 9:08 AM  

@AliasZ: Arjen admitted diving earlier in the game -- not on the critical call. He was plainly fouled earlier when no foul was called. The final penalty was at least as valid as the one in Brazil's opening game. Get over it.

Arlene 9:13 AM  

I love rebus puzzles. I figured out the ASH connection with CLASH and SLASH - but had to Google for ASHCROFT because I, too, got stuck on ABASHED. Didn't know MOSTDEF either without Googling.
I enjoyed this a lot - fun to solve.

jberg 9:17 AM  
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Z 9:34 AM  

@Andrew Morrison - No.

@Alias Z - I knew what Robben said. I've watched the replay. He was clipped and he made sure the ref knew it. I'm pretty sure the ref had warned the players that he wasn't going to let another foul go by. The ref had done a pretty good job of not getting overly involved, but when there is that much tripping and grabbing at some point you have to call something. If the only way Mexico could get through is by the Ref not calling anything... well, this debate is how political fights get ugly.

@OISK and @Alias Z - You might find this article about whether or not Ultimate should have refs interesting.

Oh, the puzzle. I have exactly two problems with it. It made me remember John ASHCROFT and ASHLEY OLSEN. Otherwise, loved it. I thought the randomly falling ASH was perfect, and made some of the required dreck and -ese well worth it.

The Syndy Solvers are now playing baccarat with their captchas. Timely Bond discussion.

@jberg - For whatever reason, whenever one tries to link to the runt puzzles at xwordinfo the link doesn't work. I'm not anywhere close enough to being an expert to understand why.

dk 9:35 AM  

🌕🌕🌕🌕 (4 MOONS)

WASHINGASHORE (not to be confused with Dinah Shore) gave me the puzzle.

Wanted Baccarat or Punto Banco for the Casino Royale game (not to be confused with a royale with cheese).

My petty needs aside: Great time with this puzzle.

joho 9:48 AM  

SMASHing debut, Luke! Very impressive, indeed.

I love a rebus and this was one fun solve! Had me GNASHing my teeth at first but it fell pretty quick once I got the concept. Great clue for the reveal and definitely having 11 ASHES in 11 states added to depth of this puzzle.

Brilliant cross at CASHOUT/TEXASHOLDEM!

Loved it!

joho 9:49 AM  

@Rex, great write-up, too!

mathguy 9:58 AM  

Long time no rebus. This was a good one. It always delights me when there are two rebuses in one entry like WASHINGASHORE and ONASHORTLEASH, even though the clue for the first one was a bit forced.

I think that I am getting like Rex. I appreciate puzzles that I can do rather easily when they have charm. As Marlon Brando said to Al Pacino in Godfather I, "I like my wine more these days."

wreck 10:09 AM  
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wreck 10:10 AM  

I'm with Andrew Morrison - could not give a flying flip about anyone's politics.

Bob Kerfuffle 10:15 AM  

I really liked this puzzle, very nice rebus very well used, but ultimately DNF, big-time.

My take on Rex's map, which seemed to fit with his comments, was that it showed the major damage was in the NW. That was my downfall, for sure.

I don't find that anyone mentions having had 1 A as B ASH FUL, which perfectly fits my definition of "Sheepish." (AliasZ includes it in his comment, but not as an entry.) But that was for me what Loren Muse Smith called a "faux hold," an unshakeable, must-be-right entry that just blocked me from seeing anything else. I totally blanked on Bush appointees, anatomical structures, old TV detectives, rappers, and French detectives. Only 5 D kept screaming at me, "Must be DEEP!", but I wouldn't listen.

Also, it's summer and I am not going to spent excessive time on any crossword.

Mohair Sam 10:36 AM  

I know this is a waste of valuable keystrokes, but I'm very much with @Andrew Morrison and @wreck on the politics angle - I wish it would go away on this blog.

C. Y. Hollander 10:38 AM  

One thing I learned during construction of this puzzle is that if you look at “MOUNT ST HELENS” enough over the span of two years working on the same puzzle, you start parsing it as “MOUNTS THE LENS,” which I think is something a photographer does before taking pictures of a volcano.

From the constructor's comments on the NYT's Wordplay blog.

Anonymous 10:46 AM  

Congrats Luke Vaughn- on a fantastic debut puzzle!

Loved it!

r.alphbunker 10:47 AM  

Solved this on Wednesday evening so I guess I could call it an Ash Wednesday puzzle.

I solved it in a weakened condition. I had lost a lot of blood solving the "Easily Swayed" fireball. It was like that puzzle started out as a runtpuz with huge amounts of totally crap fill and then the constructor noticed an amazing pattern in the crap that got the puzzle sent up to the big leagues.

Got the ASH rebus on CL[ASH]. Found lots of them with no idea why ASH was an interesting rebus. And then the revealer materialized and I was totally in awe.

Needed to turn 63D {Colorless} waN into [ASH]EN to finish.

@Loren
Great runt. Your runts are princes disguised as paupers. Rock solid theme and trademark autobiographical clues.

It was an inspiration for this:
{Mick Jagger text to actress Weld?}

@M and A

TI {Halftime?}

@Z
If you are building a link to work from this blog I am pretty sure that you need to start with http://

Two Ponies 11:05 AM  

I always enjoy a rebus and this was mostly well done. There were too many proper names for my liking esp. from music genres I avoid and sports clues. I did like the clue for Evel. Clever misdirection.

Z 11:09 AM  

@Mohair Sam, @Andrew Morrison, and @wreck - Your request is like wishing that people would all be exactly alike and never disagree. Pangram or not? Rappers or not? To EEL or not to EEL? All of these are essentially political questions. MY LAI? JEW FRO? ILLER? All political questions. Did Robben dive? Political question. And, yes, this eclectic and smart crowd will debate these things, and ASHCROFT and Bush and Obama. Short of becoming a hermit I don't know how you avoid politics.

@r.alph - I think I tried it before, but here it goes.

wreck 11:21 AM  

@ Z
Might as well debate religion here too. Knock yourself out.

Hartley70 11:25 AM  

Brilliant Thursday! I love a rebus every time and this one made me suffer in a good way. I got the ash early from soda shop but I couldn't get that northeast corner for love or money. Rehash did me in because I kept trying to keep redo then reel...the definition of insanity, but in a good way of course. Thanks for the fun, Luke!

Hartley70 11:28 AM  

@wreck LOL! Let's hear it for the much maligned Episcopalians!

Real Anonymice Take Sides 11:37 AM  

Our Merry Band of A.Nonny.Moosers ha decided it's time we stand and protect our good name. We ourselves have no opinion on 'the dive' or 'the call' or any of that stuff, since our group of AnonyMice is famously indifferent to soccer in general and the W.C. in particular,but it seems to our small red eyes that if @Z has the vertebral starch to rebut under his own name, then the @AnonyRodent(s) of 9:03 and 9:08 ought to come out of their hidey-holes and do as well. What the 'Ell, are you a man or a ...? Oh, right!

OISK 11:42 AM  

No one else had a Natick at Mosdef (wha???) and REO? I guessed right, because somewhere in my brain lurked the information that both REO and Geo had to do with cars and/or trucks. When a puzzle is this clever and well done, I overlook my aversion to pop-rap-hiphop and just say "Well Done!" There is a singer named Ashanti? Eve? Never saw "It takes two" and don't know who Ashley Olsen is, but vaguely recall that there are twins named Olsen? My mild criticism of this lovely puzzle is - If you've already used Ashanti and Mosdef, then don't also use a rap clue for "Eve." Agree with @Two Ponies, but enjoyed this one very much.

chefbea 11:44 AM  

Late to the party. Did the puzzle while waiting in the doctor's office for my yearly physical. After I realized the theme...it was a lot easier.

Now we are waiting for Arthur...It's pouring now - the wind hasn't really started. Brought in a lot of plants etc. Most fire works cancelled.

Sir Hillary 11:48 AM  

Late today, so mostly rehashing what others have said...

Nice puzzle. Reminded my of the time-lapse video of Mt. St. Helens exploding. Absolutely staggering stuff.

Agree that ON[ASH]ORTLE[ASH] and the TEX[ASH]OLDEM/C[ASH]OUT cross are brilliant.

Could not parse _ELYON for the life of me. Went through the alphabet three times and almost settled on PAt (as in "stand pat") before finally getting it.

@r.alphbunker..."Ash Wednesday"...very funny!

Would be interested why @Rex randomly disses Alberto Gonzalez. Was there something Mr. Gonzalez did to offend him, other than (I assume) being affiliated with the wrong political party? On second thought, I'm not interested at all.

Big Bond dork here (hence my name and avatar). The Hold 'Em match in Casino Royale was definitely pandering, but worse was the completely implausible scenario of the climactic hand. Most hands of poker are quite boring, which makes for lots of ESPN editing and forces filmmakers to concoct goofy scenarios that would never happen in real life. Overall, I love the film though.

Staying inside today...it's hot ASH ell.

Carola 11:54 AM  

Genius. I loved how the ASH was randomly scattered, and the 11 squares for 11 states (thank you, @Rex) are the sprinkles on the cake. I caught on with ASHCROFT, but I'm in the group that had to work to discover where all the ASHes were STASHED. I had quite a bit of ASH before the reveal, which I thought was terrific.

Master Melvin 11:57 AM  

Yes, the James Bond of the novels might play a drunken round of rock-paper-scissors with Tiger Tanaka. But TEXAS HOLD'EM in a casino? I don't think so.

Andrew Heinegg 12:07 PM  

I thought this puzzle was simply delightful. Plenty of crossword double entendre clues and fun crosses e.g. cash out and Texas Hold
'em. As for Mr. Ashcroft, he, regardless of what you think of his political bent, turned out to have integrity and strength in the face of the monkey business in the Stellar Wind matter. But, I remember him most for his order to cover the breasts of the bronze statue of the Spirit of Justice outside the Justice Department. If I recall correctly, Mr. Ashcroft spent a fair amount of money to have the drapery made to make this brazen lady appear more modest. It had been there since 1933 and no one had any problem with it until Ashcroft being appointed Attorney General in 2001. I almost fell over laughing when I saw the picture with the breasts covered!

Mr. Benson 12:17 PM  

"That NW corner was a killer" -- yet another way for the puzzle to pay tribute to Mount Saint Helens!

ArtO 12:42 PM  

Always like a rebus and one with so many simply added to the enjoyment.. Well done Mr. Vaughn! Thank you.

Leigh Elmore 12:47 PM  

26 across threw me. I had the E-R and also all 11 ASHES. Since the clue is "Go off" I filled in UPT for ERUPT since it was kind of in the middle and related to the theme. Of course I hit a pyroclastic flow!

Bob Kerfuffle 1:26 PM  

@lms - Another fine runtpuz!

Took me 5:06, pretty good for me, but even though I filled in the right letters, the meaning of 18 D escapes me. (Keep in mind that my brain is officially on vacation.)

Leapfinger 1:31 PM  

So.
My girl's name is MASHa.
A friend has named his guitar SASHa.
Another friend's dog is called BASHa.
I've summered in a dASHa.
And make my tabbouli with kASHa.

And yet, and yet, it took me for dang ever to see the ASH scattered over the grid. Maybe because I began shamelessly with 'ovine'. Maybe because RENEE and OON led me to CANNON instead of to MANNIX, which made me ignore FLIC, though the many French FLICks I've seen brought that straight to mind. Probably due to critical parts of the brain going offline in the wee hours, clue 18A only had me think 'Gee, that sounds like 'on a short leash' [It's Thursday, ding-a-ling!], and I went on to produce that Lacy Grid mentioned by @who? Finally revisited 18A, saw the light, and finished in style. Next time I'm smokin', if my brain's talking to me,shall remember to FLIC my ASH.

A quick return to yesterday: after surfacing from a long day, I read all the comments. Really liked @Sir Elton John's "Elderberry Wine", and would like to know who wrote it. Lots of good reading materiel, but a special KUDO to @SirHillary for 'ad homonym attack'. Hillarious!

@chefbea, the grandboy just started his first real job as a camp counsellor, and yesterday they got the order to relocate inland all the way to Raleigh; I suppose there's no place nearer the coast to put some hundreds of kids, but the logistics of that move, with the ferry and all, has got to be staggering. I'm sure my boy will be doing a fair bit of growing up. Hope everyone stays safe from Arthur, and that the kids get some fireworks, wherever they are.

Great debut, LOOk Vaughn, and a Happy Fourth to everyone, Don't do anything rASH!

Numinous 1:37 PM  

I tried to think of a three letter word that meant CLASH. Then I saw SLASH followed by REHASH but I didn't enter the rebi until I came across what had to be SODA SHOP. So then, with my rebus cap firmly on my head, I started hunting for all the ASHes.
MOS DEF was in a flim with Bruce Willis. He has a great voice with lots of character. To be honest, ASHLEY OLSEN rather surprised me. Somehow I juast wasn't expecting her.

I think this was a terriffic debut and will look forward to more from Mr. Vaughn.

And here is a runt that came to me in a dream. Warning: it has four unchecked squares.

http://www.xwordinfo.com/Solve?id=4685&id2=901

It's also at runtpuz.org

Bob Kerfuffle 1:44 PM  

@Numinous - Also a nice runtpuz, though I would dispute your characterization of four squares as"unchecked." Took me 2:03; might have been quicker if I knew the difference between Across and Down.

Sir Elton John 1:50 PM  

@Leapfinger - The words to "Elderberry Wine" were written by Bernie Taupin.

It's referred to as "an Elton John song" because I sang it, which isn't really fair, but that"s show biz.

mac 1:52 PM  

Fantastic debut! Figuring out the rebus helped tremendously.

Last letter in was the S in ERIS. For a while I thought the central answer was Mount St. Helen ash....

Fred Romagnolo 1:56 PM  


I was teaching Middle School science (physics) at the time of the eruption; my mom lived in Eastern Washington, and collected a test tube worth of ash and sent it to me. You can imagine what a coup that represented! It's still a proud possession of the science dep't. I've given up on "rapholes" and unASHAMEDly google them, don't count it as a DNF. Belatedly, I'm with @Andrew Morrison, & @wreck, and @Mohair about people "proudly" showing their political "superiority" in a crossword blog: @Z: the way to avoid it is to avoid it. It on ly makes the user (whether lib or cons) seem tiresome; can you imagine having to share a table with someone like that at a dinner? I have had to, sigh!

Numinous 2:45 PM  

@LMS: Liked your runt. Took a while to do because I had to make a paper grid. Infosolver doesn't work on my iPad.

@BobKerfuffle: Thanks. WIth possibly one or two exceptions, I made the clues as easy as possible.
To get LMS's 18D, think two words.

John V 2:47 PM  

Got nothing. Just could not get traction to save my life. Clever theme, for sure, to be admired. But a total ASH-kicking here.

Z 2:50 PM  

@Fred - Politics is like gravity - impacting our lives whether we talk about it or not. I don't really note any "superiority" going on. The commentariat seems to lean left and people have strong positions, but we are hardly of one mind. Some of the "political" discussions here have been the best, especially since this crowd seems especially sensitive to the idea that disagreeing is okay but being disagreeable isn't.

@Sir Hillary - If you change your mind about knowing about Mr. Gonzales and the reasons people feel passionate about him, just google "torture memos." See my comments about MY LAI the other day for my take on him and John Yoo. Different war, same outcomes.

@ralphbunker - I was certain that I had added http:// before and the embedded link didn't work. Most likely another example of PICNIC, since it worked this time.

Three and out.

ANON B 3:15 PM  

Help!
27Across)In the Times the clue is "Jones for".
Why is the answer "Crave"?

a very smug redanman 3:20 PM  

LOL easiest rebus ever. NW was easiest part. So we compare rote regurgitation to actual puzzle solve. Rex you lose, I win.

bb 3:28 PM  

Jones "I got a basketball jones" craving

okanaganer 3:39 PM  

Odd...the only map I could find that didn't stop at the Canadian border is this one which shows the ash covering about 20 states and 3 provinces.

I remember we got a very light ash fall at our cabin in central British Columbia on the first day.

ANON B 3:40 PM  

If "jones" is an addiction,
then how does "jones for" become
"crave", not "craves"?
And what kind of people have ever heard of that term?

Urban Dictionary 3:59 PM  

Jones

chefbea 4:40 PM  

Small world department ...Have been listening to the weather channel all day, and as I was reading @leapfinger's post...they were talking about it on the weather channel.

It's sort of calm now but we have had lots of rain and gusty winds!!!

ANON B 4:48 PM  

Urban Dictionary @3:59)
If that was supposed to
answer my question, thanks
a lot! You were no help.

Anonymous 5:00 PM  

@Nate - Jones is slang for a craving or an addiction.

Not anonymous 5:00 5:41 PM  

@Nate - It can go either way depending on sentence structure:

She has a jones for cookies.
She craves cookies.

I have a jones for cookies.
I crave cookies.

My understanding of the term is that it was originally slang for heroin in the '50s and morphed in to verb form in the '60. So, the original type of people would be drug addicts.

Anonymous 5:55 PM  

Ashcroft, while deathly ill in his hospital bed, stood for justice and said No to Gonzales and Andy Card pushing for warrantless wire taps. No fan of some of his other policies or singing voice, but he do the right thing for this country.

ahimsa 6:48 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
retired_chemist 7:01 PM  

Dubya is reported to have called Gonzales "Mi abogado," meaning "my lawyer." I think of it as Mi avocado," since Gonzales was soft, green, and good with just about anything.

Oh, the puzzle. Yes, more, please. The parade of ASH rebus squares did tire a bit but the sheer number of them was impressive. The puzzle seemed to take me forever but I am pretty much where I usually am relative to the NYT times. I am OK with "challenging."

Wanted ERiS or a while, and fixing that made TWIX visible, which helped a LOT with the East.

Thanks, Mr.Vaughn.

ahimsa 7:11 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
ahimsa 7:13 PM  

(sorry about all my typos and re-posts!)

Loved it! Any puzzle about Mt. Saint Helens (aka, MOUNTS THE LENS ... I'm going to start calling it that!) is okay with me!

I had the best luck solving today but I would have liked the puzzle even if this were not true. I started writing in possible answers very lightly (solved on paper today) up in the NW area - AREOLE, MANNIX (now how did I remember that??? I've never seen the show), DEEP, CRAVE, RENEE, OON - not knowing that they would all be correct. It was a very strange feeling when I saw -CRO-- down and -AM-D across and figured out that [ASH]CROFT and [ASH]AMED would fit. This type of thing rarely happens for me.

So, no writeovers for me in that NW area but I did have several elsewhere in the puzzle. And I definitely had to count to make sure that I had all 11 ASH entries.

Kudos to Luke Vaughn for a great puzzle! I don't mind a few answers like OON, MAH, DSO, etc. to get something so clever.

Leapfinger 7:54 PM  

@okanaganer, I think your map seems more realistic. The one Rex used seems contrived, esp with that neat oval in OKLA, with nary a speck in the Panhandle or Kansas. It probably only represents accumulation above a certain level.

Must thank @Rex for the OON FLIC poster. Alain Delon and Catherine Deneuve? Nice!

Not surprised if anyone had problems being reminded of ASHley Olesen. Poor thing, even rolling both twins together, there wasn't much to remember. OTOH, we could have been handed one of the KardASHians.

Quietly bearing the shame of my MIDOCEAN SPL[ASH]DOWN, I'm off to check out the neonates in the Runtz Room.

Leapfinger 8:25 PM  

@Numin, had to laugh when I saw your 'grid'. Slow going [9 min.], because I had to think about some, but didn't have to change anything. Really liked 2A, 8A.

@muse, this is scary. I got 10A off 2 crosses, anticipated 11D from the first 2 letters...without the clue. I may be reading your comments too closely, am recognizing your way with words.

Luke 8:28 PM  

Glad to see my puzzle was generally well-liked! I was expecting Rex to hate it for its ESSENE, DSO, and OON, it having 80 words, and it being a rebus.

A couple notes-
I originally balked at ASHEN for the same reason as Rex, but figured its meaning was far enough removed from "fire remains" that it was better to use than ASHER ("My name is ___ Lev").

I didn't notice the TEXASHOLDEM/CASHOUT connection until I read these comments. My original clues ("Game in which a kicker is sometimes used" and "Take what's yours") were not casino-related, so all props to Will on that.

Similarly, my original clue for EVE was "First wife" and Will made the connection with ASHANTI that I hadn't noticed. Because of MOSDEF being in there I wouldn't have made the choice he did but that's just a matter of opinion. I also thought his clue for WEPT was weird but certainly better than my boring "Blubbered". That was the last entry I clued and I couldn't for the life of me think of anything snappy.

Thanks for all the compliments, commenters--definitely made me feel good today!

chefbea 8:35 PM  

@Luke glad you chimed in

krepitch 8:37 PM  

Great puzzle, Luke!

What was your source for the number of states that were covered? I see some that say 11 and some that say at least 11. Just curious.

Sfingi 8:49 PM  

The puzzle was DNF and can't even Google, but I do have a little jar of MT ST HELENS ash on a kitchen shelf from when my cousins lived in Olympia.

No doubt the puzzle was brilliant, and I knew Rex would like it.

(She has a cookie jones.) Sonster once told me I have a pistachio jones.

Anonymous 9:14 PM  

@Leigh Elmore 12:47

It sounds as if you had a bit of ERUPTILE dysfunction.

Mohair Sam 9:51 PM  

@Luke - thanks for saying hi. And, yeah, keep 'em coming (although you look kinda young - maybe clue a Mel Torme thing next time to make me feel better).

Anonymous 10:23 PM  

Re the map: There is no problem. Ash spewed over those 10 states...plus Alaska. 11.

Anonymous 11:32 PM  

The clue for 2D points to areolA, not areolE. Here's how the EB defines areole: Cacti can be distinguished from other succulent plants by the presence of areoles, small cushionlike structures with hairs and, in almost all species, spines or barbed bristles (glochids). Areoles are modified branches, from which flowers, more branches, and leaves (when present) may grow.

Anonymous 11:53 PM  

Interesting that the Ipad app gave me full credit without a rebus in a single square.

For ASCHROFT, I put in ACROFT.

I was thinking the theme was leaving out the SH, as in SH for (visually) silent, and, as I said, I got credit.

jimczajka 3:21 AM  

Also had BASHFUL for a long while - with FRIDAY as my detective - although I guess he was gone by the 70's. Did get it, though...

Anonymous 3:57 PM  

Yecch, another pop trivia contest! Three different clues referred to rappers or contemporary soul, no melody required. I’d be ashamed of myself if I knew the answers to such questions. Why can't they make references to "musicians" who actually know how to play the C Major scale? If not for all the pop culture references, the puzzle would have been easy. Obvious answers and uninteresting cluing, and a theme that was all too obvious. Yecch!

A Loa 6:32 AM  

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Anonymous 11:19 AM  

A fantastic puzz, enjoyed it very much after discovering the "ash" thing. At first I was looking for other trees like elm, fur, oak. Now that would have been a doosie.
Sincere congrats to Mr. Vaugn.

Ron Diego 8:20 AM PDT

rain forest 1:49 PM  

I don't always read the comments of the real-timers, but when I do I sometimes get impatient with the squabbles, spats, disagreements, and the runtpuz discussions. I only want to get a sense of how others found the puzzle of the day without hearing about life experiences.

Today's was a great puzzle. I first sensed a rebus at CASH OUT, but didn't know if it was ASH or OUT. Guessed WEPT (sort of had to) which made ASH the culprit. I was fixated on the NW for too long (one of my solving failings), but eventually got ASHCROFT, even though I didn't know him. American political figures are tough for we Canadians to get.

After dealing with the NW, it wasn't that difficult, but overall I took about an hour, which usually is my limit. I was very impressed with the whole thing once I was done. Wondering if there are entries that @Spacey will flag...

Cannot read the captcha. Try again. 1523. Dang

Pappy P 2:58 PM  

Great puzzle> Caught on to the gimmick early, figured there was 11 of them and got after them. Crushed it. Really liked it.

spacecraft 3:01 PM  

Nothing flaggable here. My personal aversion to rap/hiphop does not automatically warrant the hankie. I agree with @OISK that the clue for EVE was gratuitous and totally unnecessary. [The two of us are birds of a feather.]

Started in the north central with BOLT and the obvious CLASH, so I knew from the outset we were doing rebusiness. Later when I got to the central revealer, I felt like an insider in on the joke. Very cool.

Luckily I was able to negotiate the rappers via crosses; the rest actually came down pretty easily. Liked CASHOUT crossing TEXASHOLDEM (that, of course, would be the remake; Fleming's introductory book features not Baccarat but Chemin de Fer--similar to baccarat except that the players play against each other and the house merely takes a rake).

Is it possible? A grid with FOUR rappers that I LIKE?? Yep. This must remain an ungraded special. I'd have to take it down to a C at most, and I'm not willing. Call it "extra credit."

924 isn't worth any cASH in either game.

Dirigonzo 3:51 PM  

Oh, that was fun! I spotted CL(ASH) and SL(ASH) from the git-go and ON(ASH)ORTLE(ASH) showed me the rebus squares. Then the volcano clue told me how many there were; the symmetry of the double rebus words helped, too. All of which is just a long-winded way of saying what @Pappy P already said.

Shout-out to one of the Labs in my avatar at 39a!

121 - really?

DMG 4:10 PM  

Had a good time looking for all the ASH piles and CASHED in on most of them, but failed at the OLSEN girl, even tho I had the last name! What can I say? Especially after making a good guess at the O in MOSDEF! One rapper down, xxx to go!

@Rainforest: would you believe American political,figures are sometimes hard for Americans to get? Sometimes you get what you voted for, and sometimes you get the other guys take. And then, lately, it seems all of them are a bit strange. On to 2016

My hunt through a blurry Captcha world finally gave a barely readable 110, making @Spacecraft's hand look good!

Dirigonzo 4:57 PM  

@DMG - Before you move on to 2016 please make your vote count in 2014 as the entire House of Representatives and one-third of the Senate are up for grabs, and the results will determine how much gets done, or doesn't get done, before the next presidential election.

Anonymous 5:34 PM  

I guess the one other poster and me were confused about 2D definition for areole Someone enlighten me because areole refers to Cacti small cushiony structures with hairs etc.

Dirigonzo 7:33 PM  

@anony 5:34 PM - the best I can come up with is this definition from freedictionary.com which in the third definition likens AREOLE to "areola", which certainly fits the clue. I think that's fair for a late-week puzzle.

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