Doc Savage portrayer / FRI 8-29-14 / Political theorist Carl / Neighbor of St Kitts / Football Hall of Famer Tunnell / Miss Julie composer 1965 / Kroger alternative / Longtime Laker Lamar / Player of Fin Tutuola / Host of 1950s TVs Bank on Stars

Friday, August 29, 2014

Constructor: Daniel Raymon

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging

THEME: none

Word of the Day: RERI Grist (25A: Soprano Grist) —
Reri Grist (February 29, 1932) is an American coloratura soprano, one of the pioneer African-American singers to enjoy a major international career in opera. (wikipedia)
• • •

This puzzle gets one major thing right—the long answers in every quadrant are solid, and in a few cases flashy and great. 1A: Poll Internet users on (CROWDSOURCE), perhaps took me way too long, but when I got it, the struggle seemed worth it. There's a wonderful colloquial vibe all over, with IN A NUTSHELL, EXCUSE ME, REST ASSURED, and AND THEN SOME all lending the puzzle a lively chattiness. Good long stuff will make people forget bad short stuff—that's the general rule. Today, though … man, this puzzle really tests that rule. It's not so much that the fill is "bad," in the sense that plural suffixes are bad and variant spellings are bad and random roman numerals are bad (I see you, MMIV). It's just name-heavy. Not just name-heavy. Like, crazy-name-heavy. Laden with names that sound made-up. Names that just don't seem like plausible human names. But they are—they are real. I looked them up. Still, even after having looked RERI up, I'm not convinced it's real. I mean, she is. She's had a notable career. But her name's not famous, and it's certainly *entirely* unguessable (unlike, say, SCHMITT, whom I'd also never heard of, but whose name seemed plausibly human). What is a RONELY? Did he play Doc Savage on the radio? Do most of you even know who Doc Savage (pulp hero of yore) is? Oh, wait … crap. HA ha [seriously, genuine LOL]. It's RON [space] ELY, not RONELY. RON [space] ELY is best known for playing Tarzan. He played Doc Savage in a 1975 film you've never seen or heard of. Other big names in that movie include no one.

Then there's the potentially deathly proper noun mash-up in the NNE. If I hadn't been given the "French for 'the handsome'" part of that LEBEAU clue, that whole area might still be staring me down (21A: Longtime N.F.L. coach whose name is French for "the handsome"). Dick LEBEAU is somebody whose name I've heard, so I don't doubt his crossworthiness, but I wasn't gonna get him from [Longtime N.F.L. coach] alone. So OK, I got him. From French. But if you don't know football and don't know French, you might be in trouble. It seems especially cruel, then, particularly to non-sports fans, to cross the one old-timey N.F.L. answer (LEBEAU) with *another* old-timey N.F.L. answer., this time cluing a name not only obscure, but preposterous-looking. EMLEN? That guy hasn't been in the NYT, or any major puzzle, for 15 years. Thank god I'd heard of "NEVIS & St. Kitts" [by which I apparently mean "St. Kitts & NEVIS"] because otherwise that "N" is Entirely unguessable. And if you don't know the rules of French, you'd be forgiven for perhaps thinking LABEAU instead of LEBEAU. And *then* you'd have a real mess on your hands. Proper nouns, particularly ones that are manifestly obscure and unguessable, Have To Be Handled Carefully. If you must include them, keep them Far away from each other and try not to cross them with other proper nouns at unguessable letters. This is a big danger of a massively name-heavy puzzle (like this one)—you're always dancing through a Natick minefield. I don't think there are any true Naticks* here, but there are definitely some scares. The main issue is that Bizarro names distract from the otherwise high quality of the puzzle.

I didn't even mention LIAT, a name I now know because of crosswords, but … again, a very non-name-seeming name. Sports, opera, geography, cinema: whatever your cultural ignorance, this puzzle has a proper-noun groin-kick waiting just for you. The sports-averse must feel particularly pummeled. Crossing not-terribly-famous N.F.L. names and then a double dose of Bo Jackson!? *And* Lamar ODOM? All In A Single Quadrant Of The Puzzle!?!? I legitimately feel sorry for you anti-sports folks today. I really do.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

*For a definition of "Natick," click the "FAQ" tab up top; in a nutshell, a "Natick" refers to a crossing of relatively obscure proper nouns at an unguessable letter. I coined the term when I encountered just such a situation at the crossing of *N*. C. WYETH (whose name I now know well) and …. NATICK.


Whirred Whacks 12:07 AM  

Watched Dick LEBEAU play for Detroit Lions when I was a kid. Felt smart knowing NED ROREM! Wonderful to have MARIA CALLAS.

A lot to like about this puzzle especially the conversational 11-letter answers (as the Rexmeister pointed out). I'm usually slow on Fridays, but this was easier than Wed or Thur for me this week.

wreck 12:10 AM  

Hats off to anyone who completed this without a single Google!! I think I counted 20 proper nouns. That said, I had the entire South fairly quickly, but the entire North had me pulling my hair out.

jae 12:11 AM  

Easy-medium for me except for NW which required a fair amount of staring.  Had HONOR SYSTEM quickly but whooPS before CHIRPS and not seeing CROWD SOURCE and IN A NUT SHELL until I had most of the crosses put on the brakes.  So, medium over all?

Also EMLEN was tough to swallow as was RERI which is my personal karma for paying more attention to rap (ICE T was a gimme) than opera.  And Rex is right, knowing a lot of the sports clues made this easier.  

Solid Fri. with both crunch and zip.  Nicely done. liked it!

Zeke 12:12 AM  

I much prefer, as a spectator, a sports related groin kick among the choices offerred. I'm guessing if you're on the receiving end of a groin kick, you have to go with an opera groin kick, no? Wait, some Wagnerian sopranos look like they could pack some wallop. Maybe you should choose a cinema groin kick. Not any of the Schwatzenegger stuff, real cinema - Artsy French Cine. None of those people ever looked too dangerous.

Zeke 12:22 AM  

Where I come from polling internet users is called doing an internet survey, while CROWDSOURCING is getting other people to do your work for you. Kind of like a modernized Tom Sawyer painting task. I googled "Crowd Sourcing" to see what usages there were in support of this clue, but all I got as results were notices that Plato's Retreat had rebranded, or retitled in yesterday's parlance, itself as Crowd Source. 'Sup with that?

Wait, we went through this yesterday. Sorry.

retired_chemist 12:22 AM  

Enough of the names were in my wheelhouse that I found this an easy to easy-medium puzzle. Proudest of dredging up LIAT and EMLEN Tunnell, neither exactly household words. RERI was all from crosses; RO_ _E_ turned into the forgettable RON ELY, whom I knew only as a Tarzan portrayer.

At 6D I immediately put in _ STAR and waited for the cross.

Zingy long answers, no complaints here about the short ones.

Thanks, Mr. Raymon.

Carola 12:40 AM  

I managed to negotiate the minefield of names (I counted 23) and enjoyed the just-right challenge of the puzzle. Unlike @Rex, the first thing I wrote in was RERI, whom I heard on Met broadcasts (but never MARIA CALLAS).

I liked the liveliness of CHIRPS and BEBOPPED and the clues for HONOR SYSTEM (I misunderstood "code" at first), CELL and OYSTER. Given the recent trend of words appearing in successive puzzles, I almost wrote in "ward" for the department store founder without any crosses but an unseen force stayed my hand (actually, my own cautious practice of always confirming crosses).

@Alias Z - I'm wondering if you'll have a RERI Grist clip for us. My memory is of her "Grossmaechtige Prinzessin."

Mark 12:41 AM  

I've edited out most of my comments on the names, since Rex covered that subject thoroughly, but jeez Louise, I've never seen (by seen, of course I mean googled), anywhere, so many improbable human names in one place at the same time.

On a happier note, we were all subtly reminded -- weren't we? -- of what we learned not too long ago: when someone says EXCUSEME, perhaps in response to an insult, the rude come-back would be DIDISTUTTER.

Joe 12:41 AM  

The stupid sports were insane in this thing. I can usually figure them out with crosses, but as Rex assumed, that goddam N at EMLEN/NEVIS did me in. Seven (seven!!!) sports clues was a bridge too far.

Steve J 1:16 AM  

Half of this filled in pretty easily (mainly the east coast and SE), and half of it was pretty close to impenetrable to me. Couldn't suss the long acrosses in the NW and long downs in the SW, and far too many of the far too many proper names were complete WTFs for me (I'm a football fan, with a good knowledge of the history of the game and EMLEN Tunnell was completely unknown to me; I was completely hopeless with RERI and LIAT - as Rex said, those don't even sound like actual names).

I generally have no complaints about proper names in puzzles, but this was too much.

Long acrosses were definitely quite good. I especially liked IN A NUTSHELL and AND THEN SOME.

John Child 1:58 AM  

* Grumpy redundant rant deleted*

There was no way I was ever going to complete this Trivial Pursuit without Google, so I gave up.

And you kids get off my lawn too!

chefwen 3:26 AM  

Started off real well in the SE and that's about where it ended.

Jon did his best on the sports guys, but with such weird names like EMLEN and LEBEAU it was a losing battle. I knew ODOM LAMAR only because he is kinda married to Khloe Kardashien, and don't think that I'm not embarrassed to know that, DAMN People Mag.

Too many proper names that are pretty obscure, unless you are one of those persons. Was about to throw in the towel as the NE was pretty bare, put the puzzle down for 10 minutes and banged the rest of it out.

DNF for blatant Googling, but all of my little squares were filled.

@Gill I.P. - Going to tackle "We are Family" tomorrow A.M.

chefwen 3:28 AM  

OOPS - NW, I am directionally challenged.

r.alphbunker 7:38 AM  

I loved CROWDSOURCE. The surveillance video of my solution shows that it was one of the last answers to emerge. I would love to get the videos of all solutions of this puzzle and somehow combine them into one video that would represent the consensus of the crowd.

To continue @Carola's pioneering crucimetric analysis:

I counted 29 biogeographical entries
IGA 61A {Kroger alternative}
LAX 16A {W. Coast airport one might think has poor security?}
LSU 65D {Fighting Tigers' sch.}
ORC 18A {Middle-earth baddie}
ADEN 45A {Mideast's Gulf of ___}
BEDE 32A {Eliot title surname}
DAME 56A {Angela Lansbury, e.g.}
ICET 26D {Player of Fin Tutuola on TV}
LIAT 40D {'South Pacific' girl}
MACY 46A {Department store chain founder}
ODOM 31D {Longtime Laker Lamar}
PAAR 29D {Host of 1950s TV's 'Bank on the Stars'}
RERI 25A {Soprano Grist}
RICO 30A {Anti-Mafia measure, briefly}
EMLEN 11D {Football Hall-of-Famer Tunnell}
NEVIS 27A {Neighbor of St. Kitts}
NOMAR 53D {ESPN analyst Garciaparra}
LEBEAU 21A {Longtime N.F.L. coach whose name is French for 'the handsome'}
RONELY 2D {Doc Savage portrayer}
YAMAHA 47D {Steinway competitor}
RACHAEL 37A {Ray often seen over a range}
SCHMITT 43D {Political theorist Carl}
BEBOPPED 22D {Played like Bird or Trane}
BUCHANAN 24D {Notable lifelong bachelor in U.S. history}
CHECHNYA 39D {Neighbor of Georgia}
EDHARRIS 42A {He played John Glenn in 1983 and John McCain in 2012}
LARAIDER 13D {Bo Jackson was one in '89}
NEDROREM 35A {'Miss Julie' composer, 1965}
MARIACALLAS 63A {Singer known as 'La Divina'}

and 17 multiword/name answers
XIN 62A {Mark, as a survey square}
ICET 26D {Player of Fin Tutuola on TV} (Related to Mr T?)
RONELY 2D {Doc Savage portrayer}
TOSPARE 41A {As surplus}
USHERIN 8D {Mark the start of}
ALOEVERA 12D {Juice source for a trendy drink}
EDHARRIS 42A {He played John Glenn in 1983 and John McCain in 2012}
EXCUSEME 14D {Response to an insult}
LARAIDER 13D {Bo Jackson was one in '89}
NEDROREM 35A {'Miss Julie' composer, 1965}
REAREXIT 37D {Means of furtive escape}
ANDTHENSOME 67A {Words following an understatement}
CROWDSOURCE 1A {Poll Internet users on, perhaps}
HONORSYSTEM 15A {Code often used for take-home tests}
INANUTSHELL 17A {Summed up}
MARIACALLAS 63A {Singer known as 'La Divina'}
RESTASSURED 69A {'Don't worry ...'}

jberg 8:00 AM  

DNF, in good part because, even though I know that I don't know what each star class is, I still figured 6D must start with M. And I still don't get what a CELL tower, or tower CELL might be -- Oh! Like radio waves for cell phones! Doh!

As for ADDITIVE, I thought aloe was supposed to be soothing, so I went with seDaTIVE there. I did think of RICAN, but said, naw, that's not fair, they wouldn't do that. I didn't think of TEA trolleys either. The one thing I did get was EMLEN -- never heard of Tunnell, but at least it's a name, so I went with it.

Oh well, tomorrow is another day.

Does anyone else think it's odd that people towards the left end of the political spectrum are pretty much discredited when it turns out that they had a brief Nazi episode in their past, while life-long avid Nazis like Carl SCHMITT are becoming more respectable?

NCA President 8:10 AM  

I'm a huge NFL fan (well, by "huge" I mean I follow it more than the average gay musician does), and I have never heard of Tunnell. I grew up in the Bart Starr/Gayle Sayers'd think I would have heard about Emlen "Em" Tunnell at some point along the way if he was some kind of household name. ::raising hand:: for having to google that. It was my only Google, though.

Agree with @Rex about the abundance of names. BUCHANAN is a name I don't spell very's amazing how completely blank I was on how to spell that. Buchanon? Bucannon? Buchann--? I finally applied Occam's Razor and came up with the correct spelling.

Guilty in the LaBEAU error. Wasn't LEBEAU a character on Hogan's Heroes?

I've tried Aloe Vera juice. It's not for the faint of heart.

Does TOSPARE count as a partial? Not that it matters, but it looks a little funny.

Overall, a normal challenging Friday.

murphy 8:19 AM  

🌕🌕🌕 (3 mOOOns)

Just cause I do not know the answers does not mean the puzzle is bad. I am guessing today's theme is people dk never heard of and it does that well. At least I could guess SCHMITT.

But,,, when I went to the NYT site to check guesses like NEDROREM and clicked reveal the puzzle I was informed I completed a Friday puzzle in 10 seconds. Screw the HONORSYSTEM I am taking that number to the bank.

@john child: I am putting up one of those crosses that mark the grave of the dog that pooped on my yard: just sayin!

Takin the day off in celebration of Walker's destruction of labor unions in WI and the use creative accounting to cover up an unfunded State pension, demonstrating fiscal whatever. Perhaps he could share a cell with Perry.

Where is that Joan Baez recording of Joe Hill.

Lastly, despite being slighted by Andrea I am on my way to constructing my first puzzle. Wish me luck.

evil doug 8:20 AM  

Ah. leBEAu+neVIS=Beavis, seen here as Cornholio. Well played.


Glimmerglass 8:22 AM  

FIRE tower before CELL tower, but CELL wall? Cell wall is a thing (in fact two different things), but not an expression, like firewall. Even if I'd sussed out CELL, who knows star categories? Not me. CROWDSOURCE has nothing to do with polling -- it's a way to distribute work over the internet (check with Wkipedia). So I was defeated by 1A but otherwise completed this very fine (and very hard) Friday puzzle. Hey, it is what it is. No, you all know I don't Google.

Casco Kid 8:23 AM  

Unsussable. Ungoogleable. Uncheatable. 1:22. 6 googles after an hour: RERI EMIEN (yes, the google was wrong) NEDROREM mSTAR (another wrong google, but could have been kSTAR; SSTAR is a huh?) RONELY ICET.

Then cheats for CHIRPS ONAGER. HONORSYSTEM was not much of an anchor in the NE. Both CROWDSOURCING (which has nothing to do with the internet) and INANUTSHELL were unsussable without cheats. Bad googles didn't help.

Then errors as LIAn/neAR/SCHeMITT and ADDIcIVE/EcHNOS. I was thinking ADDICTIVE but at 1am wasn't reading straight, @jberg. This was before I had ALOEVERA, which isn't really addictive. I failed to check EcHNOS for sensibility. But the puzzle was too far gone, anyway.

I started 1A with ping because pinging people for their opinion is something I do everyday on the internet. gOt for WON. kATE for MATE.

Another bad solving experience. Will is punishing us this week. What'd we do?

Generic Solver 8:25 AM  

NW disproportionately hard (as noted by others), had to run through the alphabet for a couple of letters in "crowdsource", the last word to fall for me. Otherwise, I think I've seen all of those obscure names at least once in prior Times crosswords, so I guess there is some value in almost forty years of doing these puzzles.

Generic Solver 8:28 AM  

... well maybe I hadn't seen Reri before :-)

Sir Hillary 8:30 AM  

To use the "horses for courses" metaphor, this puzzle was Churchill Downs and, for a day at least, I was Secretariat. I blew through this in about 20 minutes, arguably my fastest Friday ever. The reason? Sheer luck that just every obscurity in this puzzle was in my wheelhouse, most notably arcane sports. As a Vikings fan, I know that my hero Paul Krause broke EMLEN Tunnell's career interceptions record. Dick LEBEAU? A household name. The male half of what used to be "Khlomar"? Check. I remember Bo Jackson's 1989 MLB All-Star Game MVP like it was yesterday, because he led off the game for the American League by hitting an enormous home run off Rick Reuschel. Still the greatest natural athlete I have ever seen

Bottom line, I was in a major Rain Man zone this morning. So, to be fair, I should change the metaphor. I wasn't really Secretariat (whose skill was supreme on any track) -- I was more like Mr. Ed who stumbled upon a Ferrari with the engine running. I enjoyed the experience and don't ever expect it to happen again.

AliasZ 8:42 AM  

We have a few names today, AND THEN SOME, don't we? How in heaven's name are we to know ODOM, LIAT, EMLEN, RERI, LEBEAU, Carl SCHMITT, Fin Tutuola etc.? All of them? I give you that some people may know as many as three or five of the 20+, but all of them? You've got to be kidding me. I am totally MMIVed. Here's a challenge: an intrepid constructor should consider making a puzzle consisting of proper names only. How about it Joe Krozel or Tim Croce?

We could have had more: Hungarian cinematographer / director Rudolph MATÉ (1898-1964), Chinese general Zhao XIN (Han Dynasty), RICO Suave, dancer / actress ALOE VERA (or is it VERA-ALOE?), LAX Luthor, Lyz TAILOR, CAP Calloway, professional poker player Phil IVY, disc jockey Dan IMGAME, MMIV Miller (remember "Sing Along with MMIV?), the compound names of actor Stephen REA/REX/ITalo Calvino, German Chancellor ADEN Auer, LARA IDER (I don't know of anyone by this name, but I'll keep searching), et al.

Worst offense: turning bebop into a verb - although I must confess, I BEBOPPED a little last night...

Saving grace: MARIA CALLAS and the irresistible RERI Grist.

Thank MMIV it's Friday.

Arlene 8:54 AM  

I am so clever! I knew within a minute that I'd have to Google a lot of answers, so why wait? I do crosswords for fun, not stress - good enough excuse to begin solving by Googling! Now that's a novel approach!
So I learned a lot of stuff today I would never have known (or cared about) - and didn't break a sweat.

Now I can add yet another approach to "Arlene's Rules of Solving."

Anonymous 9:04 AM  

At least 17 person and place names. There ought to be a law...

Casco Kid 9:15 AM  

@Arlene I'm with you all the way, especially on MA-S's puzzles. I try to suss, but have no fear of Mr. Google, even after the occasional betrayal. ;)

oldbizmark 9:21 AM  

this played extremely easy for me other than the natick at RACHAE(L)IAT cross which I guessed and the DNF due to the other natick at the RERE(I)CET which I could not come up with. A lot of proper names, too many proper names, I should say but I enjoyed most of the fill around it and found it easy going.

joho 9:22 AM  

Nice write-up, @Rex ... one of your best.

Got most of this beast but guessed the A for LEBEAU who I've heard of but obviously don't know how to spell. Plus, EMLan looks more than a name than EMLEN.

I also didn't know ICET or ODOM which did me in. Just as a joke to make me feel better I purposely wrote in daSPARE, you know, in keeping with the sports theme, as in DA BEARS. Be sure to always keep daSPARE in the trunk in case of a flat.

@NCA President, I also thought that TOSPARE is a too long partial and an awkward answer.

Loved the clues for TEA and RACHAEL.

mathguy 9:22 AM  

As a lifetime NFL fan of a certain age, I remember the perennial All Pro safety Emlen Tunnell very well. I got BUCHANAN from the recent posting supposing that he was our first gay president. Needed them because I hadn't heard of CROWDSOURCE and LIAT.

Feel good that I was able to nail it cleanly before going to bed last night.

Mohair Sam 9:22 AM  

We fought a noble fight on this one and ended up with a personal natick at the "I" at 26d. Had heard of RERI but spelled her with an E at the end. TOSPARE was our last word and we never double-checked the downs. Certainly would have seen ICET in spite of never having heard of the Fin Tutuola. Damn, would have loved to put this one in the win column.

Rex is right, this one was loaded with natickable nouns. Usually I don't like that but somehow enjoyed today, probably because they were mostly sussable, a lot of aha moments. Although every letter of NEVIS and BEDE had to fill from crosses.

As a kid playing sandlot football I would, upon intercepting a pass, yell "And Tunnell picks off another one!" to annoy the opponent. EMLEN therefore a joyful gimme, probably why I liked the puzzle so much.

joho 9:24 AM  

@dk have you morphed into @murphy?

ArtO 9:30 AM  

Same experience as @Steve J in that the east went down quickly while the west was a total WTF. As an old NY Giant fan Emlen Tunnell was a gimme.

quilter1 9:36 AM  

A real slog for me as I am not a sports fan (except for Drake basketball). I solved the south first and the NW last. Never heard of CROWDSOURCE, so very tough. But I enjoy a struggle so it was fine.

Maruchka 9:46 AM  

Scary white space that filled nicely. NW and SE smoothest, except BRINGIN for USHERIN. Once corrected, and not being hip to the finer points, CROWDSOURCE worked. SW not so much, though it seems quite simple when solved.

Like seeing RERI, NEDROREM and MARIACALLAS close together, but not too close, as in life.

I'm still not sussing 19A. REG as in 'Coffee, regular, and make it snappy, baby'?

@ Alias Z - Haha for LAX Luthor. Something to consider, these days. Yeah, BEBOPPED, not so cool. Thought BLEWHORN for a sec.

@ Chefwen -Had to google the sports stuff, except LEBEAU, a doh, and knew that the RAIDERs moved to LA, then back to OAK. How'd I know? Male Bay Area relatives were all aghast!

Maruchka 9:57 AM  

Re: REG - Or is it '.. an' don' be stingy, baby'... ?

Steve J 10:01 AM  

@Maruckha: I also had BLEW HORN at first. Erased that quickly. Like you and @Alias Z, I was not found of the transmogrification of bebop into a verb.

pmdm 10:07 AM  

For those who recently have bitterly complained about the pervasive negative qualities about the write-up, hopefully they will appreciate today's excellent write-up. I don't need to communicate my complaints about today's puzzle - others have - but if I did, it would certainly sound a great deal more severe than the write-up.

Shortz acknowledges that he pushed the limit with proper names in today's puzzle. And he makes the point that he purposely made the Le Beau clue easy because of the concentration of difficult proper names. I still don't forgive him for today's puzzle.

Raymon eagerly wants to complete the cycle (having a puzzle published on each day of the week). God help us if his Sunday puzzle is as proper-noun-centric as today's puzzle.

Thank you Carolina for the info - I was going to take the time to count them myself. Proper nouns amount to 32% of today's clues for those who wonder.

duaneu 10:09 AM  

Kind of interesting to see LA RAIDER. In last night's Seahawks-Raiders preseason game, when the Raiders won the coin toss, the ref mistakenly referred to them as "Los Angeles"". Hard to believe it's been almost 20 years since L.A. Lost both its NFL teams.

RooMonster 10:10 AM  

Hey All!
Hands way up for me for all the crazy names shoehorned in this puz. The NW wasn't quite as bad as some, was still hard. The NE was my downfall, holy smokes, EMLEN, LEBEAU, NEVIS, BEDE, NEDROREM, come on! Uncle! Then throw in the RERI RICO ICET ODOM area adjacent to the NE area, and I saw some smoke rising from my head! *Fizzle* Had to make liberal use of the "Check Puzzle" feature on this one. Not a cheat, per se, just a varification process! On days off work, I solve online. So today was an online day, hence being able to use the "Check" feature. Makes sussing out answers a little easier when you know the one you put in is wrong!

ONAGER was a new one, heard the word before, didn't know what it meant. TOSPARE es no bueno, As Surplus? Bad clue, bad answer. XIN took a while, had _IN, took some time to suss the X. ETHNOS is somewhat iffy. Don't get the BEBOPPED clue, or the REG clue...

Writovers: tint first for PERM, thinking of the salon puz from before, Cut for CAP, afroED for TEASED (hey, if all obscure names in this puz, why not obscure hairdos?), aSaP for RSVP, ClOuDSOURCE for CROWD, thinking internet=computer. Put SSTAR in immediately! Thanks, previous puz!

Overall, puz was hard, leaning mightily toward challenging with all the names. Managed to get maybe 75% of answers either without "Check" or "Reveal", so not terrible, but the things like LIAT, et. al. were primarily only gettable if you have knowledge of the particular area they're in. Or something...


wa 10:26 AM  

Knew Em Tunnell because he was one of those legendary Giants I never saw play.

Usually Tarzan is associated with Ron Ely, I did not know he otherwise worked.

I always used additive in the context of motor oil or some chemical mix, rather than a trendy drink I do not drink.

Had trouble with the first letters of crowd source, otherwise it was medium to well done.

Z 10:28 AM  

I take issue with one thing Rex wrote, "I don't think there are any true Naticks here, but there are definitely some scares." The EMLE-/-EVIS is about as true a Natick as you can find. R, S, and N all look equally likely, while D, M, T, and W are not far behind. R at least gives you a dyslexic spelling of Elmer, so struck me as the most likely. NEVIS is a 36 square mile island with 13,000 residents (by comparison a certain city in Massachusetts - 16 square miles with 33,000 people). Maybe, maybe, if I remembered that Alexander Hamilton had been born on NEVIS... Nah. The epitome of a Natick.

Bob Kerfuffle 10:43 AM  

Medium-challenging, indeed, but I found it ultimately doable, no write-overs, etc. Quite a few names I didn't know, but all gettable from crosses. Good puzzle for a day when you have time to do it!

@ Maruchka - My take on 19 A, Short order?, is that REG is short for regulation.

joho 10:44 AM  

I also like LAX crossing LARAIDER.

3 and out.

John V 10:50 AM  

Good puz but what everyone said about proper names.

Anonymous 10:52 AM  

And that makes a perfect week of whiny, pompous Rex reviews. Getting a little redundant on the "obscure fill" whine, no? Mix it up a little, wouldja please Rexhole?

Scott 10:55 AM  

Two wrong squares - I put in RIB instead of REG for and feel a little gypped by the whole thing. This isn't exactly a Natick but an entirely reasonable alternate answer (short ribs, I mean) crossing two obscure, non-inferrable clues feels unfair when ONABER and RONILY would seem just as plausible as ONAGER and RONELY.

Z 11:09 AM  

Anonymous 10:52 raises an interesting question; Is repeatedly whining about whining "Meta-Whining?" Inquiring minds wish you would find a more suitable blog for your tastes.

Anonymous 11:16 AM  

I wanted to encourage anyone who felt like giving up on this puzzle, as I did at first, to keep at it. When I saw the huge number of proper nouns I was tempted just to throw it away, but something told me to give it a chance. Soon after (without Googling) I cut a swathe from 5D down 51D, despite it being loaded with proper nouns. There's still the whole bottom and many other areas to work out, but I suspect it's gettable. I think we can solve this without Googling. Shall we give it a shot?

Doris 11:25 AM  

Ogden Nash often a good source, though not as good as The Bard. From "The Carnival of the Animals," to music of Saint-Saëns, as spoken by the one and only Noël Coward:

Wild Asses

Have ever you harked to the jackass wild,
Which scientists call the ONAGER?
It sounds like the laugh of an idiot child,
Or a hepcat on a harmoniger.
But do not sneer at the jackass wild,
There is a method in his heehaw.
For with maidenly blush and accent mild
The jenny-ass answers shee-haw.

That's how I knew ONAGER. Although a wildlife lover, have never seen any other mention of the creature.

Carola 11:35 AM  

@ Sir Hillary - Masterful ride on that metaphor!

@Alias Z - Thank you for the beautiful clips. No wonder I never forgot RERI. Ah, for the old days when singers regularly came back on stage for repeat bows in the middle of a performance. If I can dawdle down memory lane for a minute, I remember being stunned when during a performance of A Masked Ball at Covent Garden in 1971 the show came to a halt for an extended ovation when Carlo Bergonzi made his entrance - before he'd even sung a note. Can't imagine that kind of thing happening today, at least in a U.S. house.

George Barany 11:52 AM  

With so much insight and erudition in this CROWD_SOURCEd commentariat, the only thing I can think to add is this: It has been lamented that the Los Angeles area has lost two professional football teams. Amend that, please, to one and a half. I think it's fair to say that the LA_RAIDERs were merely "borrowed" from Oakland. And as disorienting it is to see Rams in Saint Louis, so much more to see Cardinals in Arizona.

Trivia question: Which urban areas are represented by major league professional (men's) franchises in all four "major" sports (baseball, football, basketball, and hockey)? Be sure to include the Twin Cities, although some might argue that the Love-less Timberwolves are minor league.

RooMonster 12:06 PM  

Philadelphia is first to pop into mind...

RAD2626 12:08 PM  

Thank you @Doris. Should have paid more attention to Ogden Nash. Had to get ONAGER from the crosses. Forgot about RAIDERs being in LA. tried to squeeze Oakland in somehow. Agree with those liking the long non-name clues. HONOR SYSTEM early big help. CROWD SOURCE last to fall.

Campesite 12:12 PM  

Having grown up in Oakland when the town had teams that vaguely matched it's underdog blue collar personality (vs that fancy city across the bay), I really wanted to dislike this puzzle. But other than the fact I found it easy (sheer luck), two things saved it for me:

1) Bo Jackson captured my fascination as much as any pro athlete ever has, even though he was an LA Raider.

2) I now know who Emlen Tunnell is. The man really should be a household name. Wikipedia tells me he was the first African American inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, this after suffering a broken neck so severe he was rejected by the US Army and the US Navy while trying to enlist during WWII.

Wikipedia snippet: Tunnell was undrafted after college, and began his pro career by hitchhiking across the country from Iowa to New York City to meet Jack Mara, son of Giants founder Tim Mara, and ask to try out for the team. In his Hall of Fame induction speech, Tunnell thanked the West Indian banana-truck driver who dropped him off near this Polo Grounds "appointment."

jdv 12:13 PM  

Challenging. Very good write up by Rex today. Described my solving experience to a t, including RONELY vice RON ELY. Wish I could say the same about the puzzle. I spent more than half my time in the NW. BLT for REG prevented me from getting the first three downs for most of that time. The 'e' in REG was my last square filled in. Painful.

Ellen S 12:45 PM  

@Carola - RERI Grist was the first thing I filled in, too. I saw her some 40+ years ago in Ariadne Auf Naxos at the San Francisco Opera and fell in love on the spot. I know she had a stellar career, at some point I checked/googled maybe, but I never saw her name again all the intervening years. But no hesistation when I saw the clue. When @Aliasz calls her irresistable, that's an understatement! (Thatnks for the clip!)

Otherwise, what everybody else said. I had a feeling while I was solving that I had done this puzzle before, maybe decades ago. I didn't know any of the sports peeps, but their names came to me almost as easily as RERI's. I knew ICE T because I watch too much TV; didn't know RON ELY had played Doc Savage, but did know him as Tarzan, so I recognized what the letters were turning into. Just old scraps of garbage floating to the surface ... no Googling required.

@Doris, thank you for the Ogden Nash.

@Murphy -- what @Joho said, what happened to dk?

Ellen S 12:46 PM  

Oh, and @Campesite, thank you so much for the info on EMLEN Tunnell.

Masked and Anonymo5Us 1:25 PM  


This puz was brought to U by the conjugation of the verb "to stump", in the principality of Nomar Emlen's national lingo.

Kinda liked this one. Has achieved an upper, very slippery, funky plateau of desperation that I so richly enjoy.

Probable seed entry: THAR.
Nice long stacks.
Nice blind alley X's.
fave huh?-name: LIAT. Duck sister of HIAT and DIAT. But, if you've loitered around here very long, U already knew that.

Kinda sad, to see Desperation Week at the NYTPuz nearing its end. Hopin against hope for a themed Joe DiPietro pangram with the circles, to really round out an excellent week of @63 write-ups...

"Random Roman Nedrorem"

Numinous 3:01 PM  

@Roo Monster: I cheated, I had to. I got out a piece of paper and wrote down the election years in reverse to remember them so I could come up with the "Latin" for 2004. I do puzzles using the take-home exam code. If I get a letter wrong and the app informs me, I reckon it's a marginal DNF if I can find and correct the wrong letter. If I use the "check puzzle" feature, its an actual DNF. We all have our own different ways of doing things, Just thought I'd mention mine.

I've always known that in English it is permissible to make a verb from any noun, proper or otherwise. I had to smile at BEBOPPED when I finally got it. Initially, I read Bird as Byrd and with all the other sports guys in the puzzle, I was trying to think of some basketball play. (Digressively, skip to the next ¶ if you like) Somewhere I read or heard that if any two people know the meaning of an utterance, it is a word. In some inane source, possibly Reader's Digest, readers were invited to submit words their families used that were not in the lexicon. The one my family and I adopted from that was garpaction; when the garbage can is too full to put any more in.

Somehow all the rest of the names filled themselves in with crosses to stir some memories. I had the same problem as @Rex with RONELY until that name popped up. NED ROREM I got from partial crosses only because I've seen/heard the name before somewhere.

First pass got me some sprinkles all around the grid. Hand up for BLT. Then I settled down and solved deasil from the SE around to the NE. Most of the eight and eleven letter answers gave me some nice AHA moments. I think it's the AHAs that keep me doing puzzles and why the lack of them make M–W a bit of a slog for me. This one left me feeling like I hadn't wasted my time.

Z 3:09 PM  

Apropos of nothing other than our shared love of word play, Pop Songs redone as Shakespearean sonnets.

Anoa Bob 3:13 PM  

@Campesite's, after reading your remarks, I'm chagrined I didn't know EMLEN Tunnell. (At first I pronounced your handle Kahm Pay See Tay!)

@AliasZ, I once was going to clue IVY in a puzz I was constructing as "Poker player Phil", but after double-checking, found out his name is IVEY.

Does ONAGER rhyme with CONGER?

Sir Hillary 3:16 PM  

@George Barany -- New York, Philly, Chicago, Washington, Miami, Boston (counting Foxboro), Dallas, Twin Cities, Phoenix, Oakland (if you expand to San Jose), Detroit, Denver. I think that's it.

-- Sports Rain Man

Bomaka 3:31 PM  

A fun, tough-ish puzzle! Didn't google, but when my spouse and daughter (who do puzzles like they're taking an exam, and audibly, enthusiastically toss down their pencils when finished) stalled, we crowd-sourced in order to ooze to a finish.

I got some good footholds in each sphere: onager, oyster, Lebeau (happily @Rex, french saved me there), Nevis, Ned Rorem, Ed Harris, Maria Callas, icet (love Special Victims Unit.). The last letter to go in was the e in ronely...

The sports figures were a total mystery, but all get table with no real Naticks.

Perfect Friday fare! Hope more to come from Mr. Raymon!

Gill I. P. 3:44 PM  

Well, I didn't think women had a groin but I guess they do. So yes, I was kicked in that general vicinity.
@Maruchka. I would have felt Einsteinesque if I had thought BLOWHORNS, instead I just went ahead with BAGPIPPED. What the hell, I didn't know any of the names lurking around that vicinity anyway.
Some good long stuff though and I loved the clue for LAX (poor security...yes!) and for the ubiquitous RACHEL Ray.
@Leapy from yesterday: Thank you amigita..What a very nice post.

George Barany 3:59 PM  

@Sir Hillary: Well played.

@Numinous: Head start options to your weekend's puzzling joy

@Leapy: I second @Gill I.P., what an amazing family.

David Levy 4:44 PM  

Pleb led to Buchanan and into the SW corner, which was easy (although XIN?). Nomar is just one of those names that sticks with you, and that led to the SE corner falling into place.

Then BEBOPPED let to MVP (I'd forgotten Bo was an LARAIDER), and suddenly NEDROREM and the Venerable BEDE showed up. LEBEAU was a gimme from the French; never remembered him. ALE and LAX were gimmes, as was NEVIS.

The NW corner though took some parsing. Once I remembered ONAGER though, it all finally fell into place. A Friday that must have played to my sweet spot!

Leapfinger 4:56 PM  

Write-up on the money, @Rex!

@AnoaBob - No, ONAGER rhymes with conajure.

@r.alph, would love to see that composite, then follow it with a WordPlay viewing and totally OD.

@dk - On Wisconsin! My fave rehabbed dude is M. Milken, elevated to teaching at some Very Reputable Institutions. A testament to ...something.

@Alias, you're obviously good with names. Would you agree GeorgeB is a Pal? RERI [as always] reminded me of Rere in Zilahy's "The Dukays".


Much of my solve was along the lines of:"NE_R_R__?, Hmm, that looks like NEDROREM, let's try NEDROREM and see what happens". It helped that ODOM is a common name around here. Really, really wanted to put an A into square 11, but had no basis. Had no idea if Fin Tutuola was an acting part or a game that's played. Did, however, remember LIAT, I had been that taken with the gorgeous France Nguyen when I first saw South Pacific. I remember most of my early obsessions; where I left my glasses, not as much.

"Should we go with a venous cut-down or a REGular IV?" "MM, IV!"

I see that someone else already made the conneXIoN with NEVIS and NUTSHELL.

Many entries were slow to come, eg, PLEB only after thinking of 'just an ordinary SLOB'; some were complete unknowns/WAGs; some filled in swimmingly, like the lovely SE. For which, abject gratitude.

IMO, a Friday as they ought to be. Thanks, Dani!

Anonymous 5:04 PM  

I'm so glad I didn't let the proper nouns scare me into Googling, something just told me at the start that it would all be filled in by context. And it was -- well almost. I got stumped by "Rear exit" because I had "pin" instead of "Xin" (which I don't think I've ever heard used concerning checking a box). And since I couldn't get rear exit I couldnt' get Rachael Ray. I suppose people who knew who Rachael Ray is must have gotten that quadrant quickly. I enjoyed this puzzle a lot. BTW, not everyone calls Maria Callas "La Divina" -- a sizeable group of people call her "the strangled cat". I'm in that camp, but respect other knowledgeable people who worshipped her.

Leapfinger 5:26 PM  

Addend: From somewhere or other, I knew ONAGER as 'wild Asian ASS'... but since doing the solve, have discovered it's also an ancient Roman siege weapon, a heavy CATapult, more precisely.

So. Should someone bag one of these critters and have the head mounted on the study wall [a practice I thoroughly disapprove], it could, with some leeway, be called a 'cat-ass trophy'.

[How much leeway do I get around here?]

ps.: I'm ready to take bets that GeorgeB can't write a sentence sans embeds. ;)

Steve Rosenthal 5:40 PM  

Sometimes one person's "Natick" is another person's "gimme." The obscure stuff was mostly in my wheelhouse, so I really liked the puzzle. I even remembered Emlen Tunnell from my boyhood football cards days.

Steve R

mac 6:32 PM  

Not too tough except for the NW. Why did I have Cloud source? BLT for the short order? Didn't get it until Rex explained, but in hindsight Ron Ely is fantastic.

Needed French to get Lebeau, one of my first entries. Wrote Amlen at 11D, Hi Deb!

Nice Friday work-out.

Anonymous 7:19 PM  

Once again Mr. Barany cannot resist using this blog to show off his own puzzles...

Penna Resident 7:44 PM  

how to really screw this one up:

1. as mentioned earlier, Rib was an excellent ? response to 19A.

2. 3 letter baseball team starting with M. hmmm, i didnt know bo played for the mets.

3. football team starting with _AR_I. hmmm, i didnt know bo played for the cardinals.

now im thinking the "bo knows" commercials where he played every sport - maybe he played for every team too.

really wanted 22D to be BEBOPPED, but it doesnt have a T - finally resolved bo's mets aversion. didnt like LEBEdU, but lots of french words i dont know, so finished with a ton of nonsense names of things.

Pete 7:50 PM  

As long as WAWA is in the puzzle, I'm sure you'll all forgive this rant.

WAWA's: You're my go to convenience store. But it's August 29, can you please explain why you've introduced Pumpkin Spice coffee once again? Do you think anyone actually likes that crap? People drink it only out of forced seasonal giddiness, not because they like it. At most it should be available between 10/15 and one week after Thanksgiving. It's friggin August, and you've usurped my Kenya AA spot for Pumpkin Spice?

michael 8:40 PM  

I'm good with names and know a lot about sports and found this puzzle easy for a Friday. But I understand the complaints. I'd be whining if the puzzle was full of opera, rap, and television clues.

Robso 10:21 PM  

I misspelled PAAR as PARR. I want to be mad at the "Ray often seen over a range" clue . . . but I can't!
Brilliant! Ha ha ha! (Sorry, it's late.)

Anonymous 10:28 PM  

There are too many 8-letter neighbors of Georgia (39D) with 4th letter C: BLACK SEA, then CAUCASUS, and finally CHECHNYA!

OISK 11:34 PM  

Late to the party, but this one was fine for me. In fact, the entire week has been OK. There were too many proper names, and I never heard of either Bebopper, nor of Lamar Odom, but those are balanced out by the opera references. I recalled that my stamp collection had stamps marked "St. Kiits, Nevis and Anguilla.", so no problem there. Never heard of Doc Savage either, but I HAD heard of Ron Ely. Good puzzle despite the proper name criticism. If i can get through tomorrow it will end a perfect, no DNF week. (and I had 3 of those the previous week.)

Langfelder 11:54 PM  

Long before Barbara Streisand and Jackie Evancho, Reri Grist sang "Somewhere" in the original cast of "West Side Story" (1957)

Langfelder 11:55 PM  

Long before Barbara Streisand and Jackie Evancho, Reri Grist sang "Somewhere" in the original cast of "West Side Story" (1957)

Anonymous 7:38 AM  

I know Emlen Tunnell from my childhood. He was the first black to play for the Giants. I was able to see a few games at Yankee Stadium. He was an excellent defensive back and punt returner. His last game for the Giants was the sudden-death loss to the Baltimore Colts in the NFL Championship game in 1958. That one I listened to on the home-game TV in those days; just the road games.

Anonymous 5:19 PM  

"Excuse me" said Bird to the folks at his table "I gotta go bebop. I'll be back after I have Bebopped"

spacecraft 11:11 AM  

For a Friday, this seemed rather tame to me; then again I'm probably one of the few who remember the great EMLEN Tunnell, and as for LIAT: man, the first time I saw that movie, when Bloody Mary presented her daughter to "Lieutellen" Joe and said "You like?" I said, "Ooh yeah, I like!" France Nuyen, love ya, baby. Keep talkin' that happy talk.

The puzzle was very uneven; you had these sports names, thankfully I'm OK on those but woe is the anti-sport solver today! Long answers just seemed to fall in with only a few crosses. What else could possibly apply to take-home tests but the HONORSYSTEM? I dunno, I guess I've come to expext more on a Friday.

I just Xed IN the short fill, feeling an extra level of pain with the year Dubya was, incredibly, reelected. C-minus.

5859 = 27 = hey, whaddya know: IX!

ecanarensis 2:26 PM  

I actually knew RICO right off, but those others....puh-leeze. This was a combo Friday for me....part amazingly easy, part utterly impossible. And shouldn't PLEB have an E on the end?

I'm glad Rex feels my pain. I'm going to round up my VANS and take off over the RTEs and RDS and try to forget all those insane non-name names.

And @Gill I P, we goils soitenly have a groin...& getting kicked there is exquisite agony for us, too.

DMG 3:56 PM  

The lyric that goes "Names, names, names, all I hear is names..." Is spinning in my head right now. So many names, so little knowledge of sports! Still, in spite of thinking Bird was a basketball player,I blundered my way through this puzzle, except for the NW. Finally peeked for CROWDSOURCE, (not what I thought it meant), and moved on. Yet still a DNF. PeEr and a unsure ending for ETH-- kept me from seeing BUCHANAN, the one name I really should have known!! So it goes.

7407! Get to split the pot with @spacecraft!

rain forest 5:15 PM  

DNF'd at the RERE/RICO/ICET natick.
Should've been able to guess ICET, but the other two--no way. I really really want to know why RICO is an Anti-Mafia measure. Didn't notice if it was clarified up there.

Oddly the entire East and South were pretty easy, but the rest was tough sledding, culminating in that central area. Some very zippy long answers.

1512 = 9

Anonymous 6:00 PM  

Where was Butthead?

Dirigonzo 8:04 PM  

I got my toehold in the SW and climbed back up and across the grid with no major hang-ups, but that left the NE/mid-Atlantic largely blank. I filled that in excruciatingly slowly by running the alphabet numerous times, but eventually reduced it to one blank square at the EMLE_/_EVIS cross where I guessed wrong with "r". Thanks to @Z for identifying that cross as a true Natick and making me feel better.

@rainy - I knew RICO was right but couldn't remember what the acronym stood for. Turns out it's this.

1225 - really?!

Anonymous 9:37 PM  

This puzz done did me in. Got everything but the NW, and just couldn't crack it. So I'm grading myself C+ for today. My fedora is now being doffed for you other geniuses. I am putting a hex on Mr. Raymon. So take that!

Ron Diego La Mesa, CA

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