Colony in ancient Magna Graecia / FRI 9-19-14 / Alcopop relative / South American cowboy / One living in urban poverty pejoratively / Toon toned down for 1930s Hays code / Divine showbiz persona / Nickname for Oliver Cromwell

Friday, September 19, 2014

Constructor: Finn Vigeland

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: none

Word of the Day: PEIGNOIR (36D: Negligee) —
A woman's loose-fitting dressing gown.

[French, from Old French peignouer, linen covering used while combing oneself, from peigner, to comb the hair, from Latin pectināre, from pecten, pectin-, comb.]

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• • •

This has charm and bounce. It's contemporary, but also features PEIGNOIRs and Oliver Cromwell, so it's got range. ONE POTATO is making me laugh—out of its cluing context, it makes about as much sense as THREE ORANGES. But it recalls singsongy childhood incantations, so even its relative partiality, I like it. SLUMDOG I like less (48A: One living in urban poverty, pejoratively). When it's not part of a movie name, its pejorativity really leaps off the page. The NE corner stands out as dull and weak in a puzzle that is otherwise solid and entertaining. RELLENO and LLANERO are virtual anagrams of one another (just one letter difference), and when combined with all the common fill / common letters in much of the rest of the fill up there (ELEA, TELE, ATEIN, NEO), the result is an anemic corner—though it's anemicness is probably highlighted today by contrast with how good the rest of the grid is, particularly the NW.

Speaking of the NW—HUMBLEBRAG was an instant gimme at 1A: Self-praise couched in self-deprecation, in modern lingo, and launched me into the grid with such force that I finished the whole thing in roughly a Wednesday time. That might be bragging, but I assure you, it is not humble. I just crushed this thing. Maybe it's because Finn and I are friends … OK, so we just went out to dinner that one time, and it was with a bunch of other people, but that's the closest thing I have to "friends" so just let me have this one, OK? He's my friend! We act alike and think alike and even finish each other's … sentences! That's right? How did you know I was going to say that? Are you and I also friends? No? HOMIES? Hmm. At any rate, I felt a mind meld going on, and consequently I Owned this puzzle.

LENA DUNHAM was on the cover of the New York Times Magazine this week. The clue for her was far too easy, I think. I'd've gone with [something writer actress something blah blah who is writing a four-part story for Archie Comics in 2015]. It makes me almost giddy to know that Archie will be my daughter's gateway drug to LENA DUNHAM. My daughter, having just started high school, having just started having a meaningful SOCIAL LIFE, having (god bless her) no interest in "Twilight" or Taylor LAUTNER, could use, I think, some LENA DUNHAM in her life. But baby steps. Archie steps.

Gonna go watch the Scottish referendum returns. Looks like NAE, but the night's still young …

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


jae 12:07 AM  

Easy-medium for me. Gimmes LENA DUNHAM and RAHM got me started in the NW. LLANERO,  RELLENO, and SEA FOOD took care of NE although I had Pasta before PILAF and ELbA before ELEA.  SE was easy.  SW on the other hand took some doing.   I had MISS M and ODES, but need some crosses to dredge up LAUTNER (I've managed not to see the movies).  Seeing SLUM DOG finally opened it up.

Delightful Fri. chock full of zip. Very nice Finn!

Mark 12:20 AM  

Super easy for a Friday after a really easy 1A. Do we really need "in modern lingo" to help us with that obvious first clue?

wreck 12:28 AM  

One of those puzzles that slowly but surely come together. Ended up on the fast side of medium for me as I struggled a bit with ORLANDO and LAUTNER.

retired_chemist 12:35 AM  

Medium time, easy-medium feel. Some confusion before I realized that ' was AcrossLiteSpeak for apostrophe in the clues for this one.

After some grief I got teh NW right. Having pip as a trial entry for 10D misled me. 9D was on A SLANT so HUMBLE_Ro_ became HUMBLE pRop. That's modern lingo, right? Fixed only after BUNDLE (8D) appeared.

Second fave wrong answer was eeny meeny for 35A. Another time sink to fix. Note to self: stop filling in long answers without crosses to check. Third favorite was TEst marketers (16A).

Bur the gem of wrong answers was Gabriel fAurÉ for 53A inst4ead of SATIE. Turns out they has a common love interest, Emma Bardac. Did. Not. Know. that, and it makes the wrong answer almost right.

All told, a very pleasant Friday with just the right degree of difficulty. Thanks, Mr. Vigeland.

retired_chemist 12:38 AM  

OK, [ampersand]apos; got turned into a real apostrophe just above. Hopefully this will stay as typed...

mathguy 12:50 AM  

I was expecting the usual Friday challenge. What happened? HUMBLEBRAG, IRONSIDE, and LLANERO were the only uncommon entries and the cluing was quite straightforward. Disappointed. I'll bet that SanFranMan's numbers will be near a record low.

chefwen 1:09 AM  

My, that NE was a tasty little corner.

Never heard of HUMBLE BRAG, had to Google LENA DUNHAM. Got the rest of the puzzle taken care of quite easily, but a DNF in the NW. Shoots!

On a lighter note the first humpback whale (51D) of the season was spotted off of the west shore yesterday. Looking forward to an active whale watching season this year.

Whirred Whacks 1:09 AM  

Rex: I wish your daughter better models than LENA DUNHAM. I find her (LD) boring.

Steve J 1:14 AM  

Definitely on the easy side, but really lively and fun. Like others, I dropped in HUMBLEBRAG straight away, which made things flow really quickly. Only stumbling block was the SW, where I couldn't see the downs (and, thankfully, have no idea who anyone in any "Twilight" movie is), and I couldn't piece together SLUMDOG for a (relatively) long while, as I don't recall ever seeing PEIG NOIR before (the word; I've seen the real deal plenty, not that I think it's enough quite yet).

Do WINE COOLERS still exist? Haven't had one since I was ~17. Which, I'm guessing, is about the latest age most anyone has one.

AliasZ 1:50 AM  

Let me go ON RECORD by saying that "self-praise couched in self-deprecation" was a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma for me. I never heard HUMBLEBRAG, let alone said it. I had no place to go but up from there, I thought. Wrong.

I did not know LENA DUNHAM, Taylor LAUTNER or MISSM. I'm no SEXPERT, but I do not feel INADEQUATE for having never gone on a MANDATE. We are no HOMIES. I haven't used a BDAY since my last trip to Europe, I never ATEIN a PEIGNOIR, I never tried RELLENO (I'm no LLANERO), and I read neither N OR M. I have no idea what NEO-soul or VOX pop is -- short for VOX populi perhaps? But I do know what WINECOOLER or IRISH coffee is, I live a moderately healthy SOCIAL LIFE, I like SATIE, Edith PILAF, and I love SEAFOOD: I see food, I eat it.

Level or not level? Make up your mind, huckleberry Finn Vigeland.

What I did enjoy was the two paired clues, and especially the clue "unit of energy?" for BUNDLE. I would have preferred unit of joy, but there is no measurement for joy.

This otherwise clean enough puzzle was definitely outside my comfort zone. Too bad, I could've enjoyed it even more.


John Child 6:13 AM  

Like @chefwen, HUMBLEBRAG and LENA DUNHAM were mysteries for me. I might have gotten through that if I'd been able to give up on earl at 19a. LADY is not a title in the same sense as earl: It's a courtesy prefix. Of course lady is a title in the mundane sense, so my complaint is just sour grapes.

The rest of the grapes were excellent though, even for an old curmudgeon who had to look up Ms Dunham. Thanks Mr Vigeland.

Moly Shu 6:55 AM  

Not easy here, same experience as @AliasZ. LENADUNHAM crossing RAHM, who and who? LLANERO crossing RELLENO, pass. NEOsoul and VOXpop, what and what? I like to think I have a pretty wide contemporary music range, evidently not. LAUTNER all from crosses, again, who? Did like ONEPOTATO two potato three potato four. We used that to determine who batted first in our neighborhood baseball games. Also liked the simple yet devious (imho) clue for INADEQUATE.

Anonymous 6:56 AM  

"it's pejorativity really leaps off the page"

See anything problematic with that very first word, Mr. English teacher? ;)

Glimmerglass 7:33 AM  

@anonymous 6:56: Yes.

Anonymous 7:41 AM  

admirals get stripes generals get stars.

Lewis 7:47 AM  

Every day this week has felt easier than usual. I'm trying to remember what I've eaten this week so I can do it again next week. That's my HUMBLEBRAG of the day. (Never heard of HUMBLEBRAG but I like it.)

Good writeup, Rex. Funny, personal, and puzzle insight. And the Judgemental Alert Level was an admirable Low.

SENTINEL was easy for me, as I lived in Orlando for a spell, but has everyone heard of this paper? Was Naticked at the RELLENO/LLANERO nexus, and guessed wrong. Never heard of VOX pop, and I like that too.

No laughs or ahas, and I usually like a few on Friday, but solid and satisfying nonetheless.

wreck 7:56 AM  

Head Slap -- just now got SENTINEL!!

joho 8:08 AM  

Rarely do I describe a Friday as charming but this puzzle is.

Loved ONEPOTATO which was joined by more food in the NW with PILAF crossing PILAF and RELLENO.

Great clue for PALETTES.

Isn't it nice when your SOCIALLIFE gets a FRESHSTART? Perhaps with a WINECOOLER or two.


Easy, yes, but ultimately interesting and superbly smooth. Thank you, Finn ... lovely!

Lewis 8:10 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lewis 8:11 AM  

Factoid: Mae Kwestel, the best known voice of Betty BOOP (which she did over a span of 57 years), was also the voice of Olive Oyl (which she did for 20 years).

Quotoid: "I married a German. Every night I dress up as Poland and he invades me." -- Bette Midler, the Divine MISSM

dk 8:21 AM  

🌕🌕🌕 (3 mOOONs)

After a day of flying (it seems if you want a seat that reclines on Spirit you have to pay for that as well), video card problems and other travails to numerous to mention I am amazed I have anything good to say.

I had planned to opine that MOORS are not slips but buoys but alas I would be incorrect. I never heard of HUMBLEBRAG but HOMIES saved the day.

Finally… chef's yell order up in this neck of the woods

All in all fine Friday fare.

RAD2626 8:28 AM  

Thought puzzle was great if a little easy. Having LENA DUNHAM and BETTE MIDLER in the same puzzle was apropos. Both annoying. Think "Girls" is awful but I am clearly not its demographic. Thought SE was elegant. Liked clues for POLLSTER and ONE POTATO.

Andrew Morrison 8:45 AM  

Halsey was a 4 star admiral. Nimitz and King had 5 stars.

Add me to list of people for whom LENADUNHAM is an unknown. I am vaguely aware of her name, but could not tell you whether she is a singer, or actress, or socialite. I am also only vaguely aware of Tyler
LAUTNER. thought he might have a home improvement show, or maybe was an American Idol. At least there was a vague recognition of his name given sufficient crosses. I am not big on TV and pop culture.

HUMBLEBRAG is also a new one on me.

In all, a fun average Friday puzzle, but I would be grumbling if I didn't have 'gettable' crosses.

Susan McConnell 8:53 AM  

Had to google for LAUTNER, but other than that, a pretty standard Friday. Gotta say, I don't see the big deal about LENA DUNHAM or her HBO show, Girls. Every once in a while I try it again, with the same reaction: Meh.

Charles Flaster 9:00 AM  

HARD and DNF.Lena Durham/humblebag=????????
Therefore upper left was my DNF.
Mistakes -"on a slant" and "treetop" for 1D.
Liked bundle and one potato.
Thanks FV.

evil doug 9:18 AM  

Archie? Sure. Lena Dunham? You're kidding. I'd only employ her as an example if I was shocking a porn addict off his habit....

We've had this talk before, Michael: pejoratives exist in the news, in our daily lives, everywhere. We can choose not to use them ourselves, but to pretend we can make them disappear--or would want to--by banning them from crosswords is futile, and simply penalizes us by shrinking our word base and eliminating some nicely textured, vivid words. Words. Just words. Beautiful, wonderful clusters of letters that offer us every possible connotative option of communication....

As one who must cherish the full scope of language and reject the concept of censorship, I gotta believe that in your heart of hearts you don't really believe that 'slum dogs' should be expelled--from ANy form of literature.


Hobbyist 9:26 AM  

n or m is not a novel in me book but a mystery.

jberg 9:42 AM  

Hard for me -- it just took me a long time to see things, and I had not idea about LENA DUNHAM or LAUTNER. Age, I guess. Another sign of age: I knew right away what the "spots where artists mix" were, but couldn't think of the word -- wanted 'easels' then 'palates' before STEEPS finally forced that second T upon me and the scales fell from my eyes.

For all that, I finished with an error -- MISSy crossing NORy, neither of which I knew.

@Evil, first, I love your new avatar. Second, I don't mind SLUMDOG, but would object to some perjoratives -- ethnic slurs, etc--that are just inherently offensive. So I didn't mind the clue for 58A, either.

851 9:52 AM  

Doug was a Professor of Public Speaking in Kentucky. I wonder if any of his students could follow what the heck he was trying to say in that middle paragraph?

mathguy 9:54 AM  

I learned HUMBLEBRAG from this puzzle not very long ago. LENADUNHAM is mentioned in the NYTimes Arts section frequently. She wrote a piece which appears in the current New Yorker. (I also don't like her show on HBO.)

Maruchka 9:55 AM  

The dreaded NW - NO idea what modern lingo nor golden globe winner were, until 2 googles made a swift end of it. ATEIN some HUMBLEpie..

The rest filled nicely-nicely, especially the SE. How many ways can one clue SATIE, OTTER, LIRAS?

Fav of the day - IRONSIDE. Keep seeing Raymond Burr and Alec Guinness, tho. Runner-up is PEIGNOIR.

@ Steve J. - I wish you joy of it!, supra.

@ chefwen - NE es muy apetitoso, que hace mi boca agua. Adobe chiles con 'peanut sauce' en Puerto Vallarta, yum.

Questinia 10:05 AM  

@dk's opination is correct. Tying a boat in a slip means it's docked not moored. Being moored is entirely different. The boat gets tied to an anchoring weight usually marked by a buoy somewhere in a sheltered spot. From there one needs to row to shore in a dinghy whereas in a slip you are already at the shore.

Loved seeing LENA DUNHAM, she writes an excellent article in the New Yorker about her childhood battle with OCD

Wonderful puzzle Finn. TY.

Anonymous 10:08 AM  

I got the correct fill on 11D ("Eschewed takeout" => "ate in") right away, but had a problem with it.

When you order takeout, you "eat in," right? I know, a nit, since "ate in" normally implies preparing the meal yourself. So in both cases, you dine at home, but either with home-made food, or with outside-prepared meals.

The clue "Eschewed dining out" would be correct. Easy to fix the nit, so why not?

Hartley70 10:08 AM  

I too tried eeny meany and Pogo for BOOP, but otherwise this was a very fast Friday. I was pleased to see a different clue for ARC. Somehow I missed that Christie book and I thought I'd read them all during a lonely stretch when I first moved to NYC in 1970. I laughed at the comment that we would have moved past wine coolers by the age of 17. They hadn't been invented when some of us were 17 and a six pack of beer among a car full of kids was as exotic as it got!

quilter1 10:09 AM  

I also never heard of LENADUNHAM or HUMBLEBRAG but got the crosses. Otherwise, easy peasy. Although I am into British history, I didn't know IRONSIDE. I knew it couldn't be Sweetums.

Leapfinger 10:09 AM  

From SATIE to NEO,
Whereever the Faure's blow
Who never will PEIGNOIR
And when the LADY is ILL
The guy makes a FRESHSTART
She's HOMIES alone
No tip to her COEN:
NO RAHM at the INN!

Yes, I liked it just fine.

Anonymous 10:12 AM  

Hoo! and Hah!

I find myself standing shoulder to shoulder with the Evil One.

Juan, the Word Frique

Anonymous 10:23 AM  

I'm not easily offended, but 58 across really irked me. Does anyone really believe that nerds don't have a social life? Seriously? What does having a social life mean to Mr. Vigeland? If I hang out with nerds does that not count as a social life? Jeez...

RnRGhost57 10:24 AM  

@851: I understood him perfectly.

chefbea 10:41 AM  

Too tough for me..and have a busy day

I do say Voila all the time...without the ET

Arlene 10:44 AM  

I must be from another planet - found this hard, had to Google a lot - didn't know most of the stuff here, but finally finished anyway.

I did know peignoir.

And I agree that nerds can have social lives - with their tech savvy, they're more popular than ever before.

Leapfinger 10:49 AM  

And now for a look at the puzzle:
Will level with you, I took more than a PASSION fancy to this GEM, liked the INNS and outs of it.

Trouble similar to many, mainly in the NW:
Wanted DUMBsomething for too long
Still want 'ON' ASLANT
Small grouse: Bathing is external; STEEPing couldn't get more internal.
Finally gOTTER done with one last BUNDLE of N-R-G.

Was very impressed with all the Nashoid LLs: ILL, LLANERO, POLLSTER, SOCIALLIFE, HILLTOP, RELLENO (which I used to get at Papagallo's). Fully expected to find LLBEAN in the grid, SATIEsfying both the LLs and the foodie group.

Speaking of foodie, we recently saw the onion nightie make its debut; today, we have the ONE-POTATO PEIGNOIR. Indications are for some interesting bedtime snacking. Might even peel off some PILAF with POTATO SKINS.

Another nice touch: MISSM near BEACH[es]

Hate to take @AliasZ to task, but:
NeoSeoul is a modern Korean city;
VOX Pop is a spin-off record label;
BUNDLE of energy indeed has an analogous measure for joy. There's the single "Jump for Joy", the double JfJ, the triple, quadruple and so on. I wouldn't overlook it.


Ludyjynn 10:52 AM  

BOOP-oop-a-doop! My favorite cartoons as a child were 1950s tv re-releases of Betty Boop and Woody Woodpecker, both fairly provocative characters when originally aired in the '30s and '40s. Good to see Betty in the grid, as well as the divine MISSM, Bette Midler, who puts on one hell of a live show. If you ever get the chance, go see her!

Like Rex, thought the NE 12D and 24A nexus was weak; luckily, I guessed right for the solve.

Overall, a pleasant easy-med. Fri. puzz. Thanks, FV and WS.

Z 10:59 AM  

Ignorance of LAUTNER and not getting that I was looking for a paper really slowed me down in the SW. (Is that first clause a HUMBLE BRAG?). Worse, I grew up reading the Holland Sentinel, so that really should have clicked in.

A WINECOOLER with a SEXPERT is certain to be a FRESH START for any nerd's SOCIAL LIFE. Or anyone else's for that matter. What a fine time in the SE.

@Evil - Not quite sure what you are arguing against. "I like it less" is hardly equal to "ban it." Personally, I didn't even realize it was especially pejorative. SLUM DOG is not a phrase I've run across outside the movie title. I'm not quite sure how being poor in an urban setting is any better or worse than being poor in the countryside. On the other hand, it's pretty easy to see that a certain someone is still holding a grudge. Pity or contempt? I guess I'll go with pity.

Nancy 11:09 AM  

Very easy for a Friday. But I agree with Anon 10:08: When you "take out" you absolutely eat in. (Unless you sit in the park with your takeout, of course.) As someone who, unlike chefbea and chefwen, thinks takeout is the greatest invention of my lifetime, this is a subject I know!

Anonymous 11:23 AM  

Overall enjoyed the puzzle, but I have to agree with anon 10:08 that taking out is indeed eating in. And bathing is not steeping. And I have a fabulous social life and I am definitely a nerd. Just because I don't hang out with movie stars doesn't mean I don't socialize with my friends. although of course, LENA DUNHAM is probably both a nerd and a star and she probably has as good a social life as anyone.

Andrew Heinegg 11:25 AM  

Sometimes the objections to clues or answers to the NYT crossword puzzle in this blog leave me a bit bewildered. The clue for 58a says 'may not have one'. It does not say never or even in most cases. And, as far as I know, nerds have yet to be classified as a group subject to discrimination laws. Political correctness is slowly but surely smothering us as a culture. Sheez!

jburgs 11:37 AM  

@ retired chemist

I too had the apostrophes replaced by[ampersand]apos. It happened to me once before so did not get messed up like I did last time when I thought it was part of the puzzle. Hope the NYT IT dept. can look into this.

Leapfinger 11:59 AM  

Not sure how I feel about those POLLSTERs @37A; on the level, they're marginally better than if they were up-POLLSTERs, but still give politicians a cushion to nielsen, and voters gallup to be ropered in. More and more, the pols rely on this upPOLLSTERy to focus on swing votes, to the detriment of all; more and more, pols are about campaigning rather than about governing. And obviously, good campaigning does not necessarily EQUAL good governing.

Might be an idea for every POLLSTER UNEARTH to clean up their act [with a BDAY?], make a FRESHSTART on the side of better government. ET VOIci my semi-thoughtful OBS for today.

Thought of junk-yard DOGS first, but a country such as this should have no SLUMDOGS atall.

Very SATIEsfying puzz. Faure Friday.

the redanman 12:13 PM  

If HUMBLEBRAG had been a gimmie fo' me, it would have been easy. SLUMDOG isn't all that bad, I need more time with campus liberals, I guess ...

Anonymous 12:22 PM  

Love the performativity going on in the comments courtesy of the folks who don't know nor care about all this "modern lingo" (to say nothing of Lena Dunham and Taylor Lautner). More humblebragging on here today than if half the answers had been hip-hop artists!

Carola 12:32 PM  

Great puzzle, so many fun-to-write-in answers. I found it easy from the NW through 3/4 of the clock face, then got stymied by the SW. After deciding I should erase IRONfIst x manet, PASSION materialized, ET VOILA, I finished.

With PEIGNOIR in the grid, when I read "Ties up in a slip," I did not first think of boats.

DannyO 12:54 PM  

@rnrghost57 -- sorry, I had trouble following Evil's train of thought (underpowered, as usual), also. -- Dan

IHateDecaf 1:46 PM  

I love how the puzzle kicks off with HUMBLEBRAG. Embarrassingly, it often takes me as long as 8 seconds to enter my first answer into the grid, but today I got it instantly.

As far as SLUMDOG goes, have we forgotten the movie "Slumdog Millionaire" from a few years ago?

Anonymous 1:57 PM  

The only thing worse than Rex's arrogance is using his daughter for other people's entertainment on a public blog on the internet. People, if you blog, LEAVE YOUR KIDS OUT OF IT. Stop using them for other people's entertainment. Being a teenager is hard enough without having your father vent his opinions about what is wrong with you. It's mean, it's embarrassing, and it's dangerous.

Anonymous 2:04 PM  

Cromwell's nickname was Old Ironsides, not Ironside.

Road to Java 2:14 PM  


I got the LADY/B-DAY thingy 'almost intantly'.

You hate de caf? My kid won't eat veal either.

Numinous 2:19 PM  

No googles for me and relatively fast for a Friday (for me). I didn't know HUMBLEBRAG or LENA DUNHAM nor Taylor LAUTNER but they all got figured out in various ways. lAUTNER via crosses, the others because those words made sense as words given the crosses that were there.

When I was a film editor working on news-in-depth shows in Australia, we would usually do a VOX pops weekly. They were usually fun and vaguely silly; asking questions and then cutting together answers from a collection of people encountered on the street. Some of the answers would be truly hilarious in their evidence of ignorance.

Yeah, I get what Evil Doug is saying in his MIDLER ¶ but, then, I was a speech student in general, a forensics competitor and a Communication Studies major.

PEIGNOIR is a word I hadn't seen in a really long time. I don't think of it as a negligee so much as a dressing gown, though those can be naughty too. Hmmm? Why do I think of negligees as naughty?

A mooring bitt or mooring bollard is one of those big round things on the edges of docks for mooring a ship. The verb "moor" actually means to make fast or secure. Yes, there are mooring anchors with buoys (the boat I learned to sail in spent its off hours at one) but one also moors a boat to a dock or an aircraft to the ground.

I had the hardest time with the Divine MISS Midler. I just couldn't remember her name. Kept thiinking Muldaur knowing that wasn't right. I had fun with this.

wreck 2:37 PM  

As part of my trouble with the SW, I was trying to come up with a "persona" of "Divine" (the drag queen)!

DannyO 2:50 PM  

@Numinous --

Yeah, I guess it does take a Communications Science degree and a background in Speech and Forensics to decode what the heck Doug says. ;-)


sanfranman59 3:28 PM  

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

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

Fri 17:01, 19:38, 0.87, 27%, Easy-Medium

Top 100 solvers

Fri 11:48, 12:34, 0.94, 36%, Easy-Medium

I think HUMBLE BRAG is a new one on me. Can anyone provide some context for its origin? Is it a play on words of some kind or just a neologism? I was expecting the former, so I thought the second part might be a variation on 'pie'. But no.

Melodious Funk 3:31 PM  

I don't get the big deal about ED's comments, they were quite straight-forward. All the paragraphs. If one doesn't agree with him (probably a few here) then it's obscure. Those that dont care one way or the other, it's fine. Whateveah.

And some Anonymouse is right, Cromwell was indeed Old Ironsides. Or Ironsides. Never Ironside. I'm a bit of an Anglophile, I know such things. Even the ship in Boston Harbor is Old Ironsides. I'm an unreconstructed Bostonian.

And I'm happy Scotland is staying in the Union. I don't know why exactly, Britain wouldn't be the same without it. But nevertheless 47% or so voted for independence. I wonder about the ripple effect on the Basques, Catalonians, Northern League of Italy, Kurds, et al.

What is this? A crossword puzzle blog? Oh, sorry.

Fred Romagnolo 3:32 PM  

Again, an older generation default: HUMBLEBRAG, LENA DUNHAM, LAUTNER. would have finished otherwise. No excuse for not knowing the Christie title. has Brit TV done it? That's how I know Christie. All the people who want crosswords to be politically correct are intolerant. Politically correct - intolerant: but then, I repeat myself. Anyone not familiar with SATIE's music would do themselves a favor by investigating it. It's French, but not at all like Edith PILAF's stuff.

Leapfinger 3:33 PM  

To MOOR or not to MOOR? Had FV simply gone with Otello, tHEN I'd have had me another LL for my collection.

@Carola, you totally done me in with your revisioning of [Ties up in a slip]; SO much better than picturing the guys in a peignoir. Even with ostrich-feather trim...

Fred Romagnolo 3:37 PM  

Best thing about Scotland's staying in is that they can continue with the Union Jack, the combination of the flags of England and Scotland; red cross on white, white X on blue: still the best looking flag in the world.

Anonymous 3:38 PM  

It's like my parents are the only ones who comment on this blog. Scolding Lena Dunham, missing modern pop culture references. Boring.
Also, "SWF" would pretty much never be an abbreviation on There are categories, like "women seeking men, " so to say "SWF" would be redundant and pretty outdated. is not your local newspaper from the 80's.

Fred Romagnolo 3:40 PM  

They are the emblems of St.s' George and Andrew; the patron saint's of each country

Atlantasolver 3:57 PM  

"On record"? Not "On THE Record"? Awkward. And don't we eat in after getting takeout? Otherwise, nice puzzle.

Anoa Bob 4:01 PM  

Taking off my word-nerd hat (no wiseacre, it's not conical!) and putting on my sailor hat. First got my sea legs during a hitch in the Navy in the 60's and have messed around in boats ever since. My present boat, a Cape Dory 28, is snugly tied up in a slip in a local marina.

The clue for 29D, "Ties up in a slip" unequivocally puts it in a nautical context for me (although I got a chickle from @Carola's comment). And for this old mariner, to anchor, to MOOR, and to tie up in a slip have always meant distinctly different things. They seem to get jumbled together sometimes in xword puzzles.

michael 4:39 PM  

I didn't know humblebrag (though I like it), but Lena Dunham was a total gimme. I'd say she's impossible to miss, but judging from the comments I'd be wrong.

I got a slow start on this one, but finished it quickly. It would have quicker if I had systematically looked at the clues, but I didn't see the Lena Dunham clue until I got around to the northwest corner late.

I thought the cluing on this puzzle was exceptionally good.

Sfingi 5:04 PM  

"I am so humbled by this honor," makes me want to heave. Glad there's an expression for it.

I actually like SLUMDOG, as in millionaire; lovable.

SATIE is a common cw clue, and I like SATIE's stuff. I always wondered if there was a contest or fad for artists drawing sketches of the man.

Maybe Scotland can break up into clans, and each one will have it's own plaid flag.
Britain always believed in divide and conquer, which worked when Scotland was already divided into clans; but, the conquer part had to follow, or the clans would still be there. Maybe we could learn a lesson vis-a-vis Arabs.

Thanx all for the water-info. I'm totally landlocked and have no ancestral memories of the knowledge.

mac 5:16 PM  

Loved this puzzle, a lot of fun to solve. Easy-medium for me.

A couple of write-overs: humble crow for -brag (hadn't heard it before but it's a great word), reinforced by candle (light measure?). Inadequate fixed that.

I also tried to be much too specific with the shore dinner. Salt cod almost fit.

Nice words and terms and excellent clues (had a problem with "ate in" also).

mac 5:17 PM  

Finn may consider himself a nerd. Aren't we all?

Anonymous 5:49 PM  

I was sure 1a was going to have "to a fault" somewhere in it. Like, "I'm very analytic, almost to a fault." One of my least favorite HUMBLE BRAGs.

Mohair Sam 6:28 PM  

Played brutal for us. Took us well over two hours, but we still almost loved it - how can you not like a puzz with the wonderfully clued ONEPOTATO smack in the middle? And Betty BOOP no less? And Bette Midler? And the cluing was lots of fun.

But here's what we didn't know: HUMBLEBRAG, LENADUNHAM, LAUTNER, RELLENO, LLANERO, PIEGNOIR. That's a lot of letters to fill. But we got it.

Why "almost" loved it? A "Twilight" clue stops any remote possibility of love for a puzzle. The NYT puzzle has gotten me to read two of the Potter books, one of the "Hunger Games" series, and I'm three books thru "Game of Thrones" (which I actually like). But I've seen minutes of "Twilight" here and there and will never, never give in. I'll push for banishing of "Twilight" clues instead.

Z 6:31 PM  

If you have ever been confronted with the "What is your greatest weakness?" interview question you have likely used a HUMBLE BRAG. Here are some fine examples compiled from Twitter.

The Old Commonwealther 7:10 PM  

Aw come on, @FredRoma, you left out the Cross of St. Patrick! What will the IRISH say?

Chris 8:34 PM  

Wow. The comments today are amazing to me. I'm 56 and slammed in HUMBLEBRAG and LENADUNHAM without thinking twice (although had to wrestle a little with the Twilight clue.) Rex's "it's" gaffe is the big news of the day, IMO.

LeapF 8:36 PM  

@sanfranman, here's what I found about HUMBLEBRAG:

In 2010, comedian and Parks& Rec writer Harris Wittels jokingly made a Twitter handle dedicated to calling out “humblebraggers,” or, people who publicly downplay an impressive accomplishment in order to get attention.

from a site called HelloGiggles [really], an article on new dictionary words, 8.16.14

OISK 9:11 PM  

Humblebrag, Lena Dunham, Lautner, were completely unfamiliar, but gettable. Like others, I guessed blindly at the Relleno Elea cross. Got it right, but just lucky. Certainly not easy for me, more like an average Friday, but not the kind of challenge I particularly enjoy.

Natick 9:11 PM  

HUMBLEBRAG was a gimme, as was LENA DUNHAM. I watch Girls, but prefer the other cast members (as I did with SITC).

Slowed in the SW, but it fell into place. Only bust was AbC / bELLENO before ARC / RELLENO. Couldn't find it on my own and had to rely on Rex. Sooo close to an easy Friday solve.

This one was in my wheelhouse.

Lewis 9:31 PM  

@Z -- that HUMBLEBRAG link was hilarious! Thanks for posting it.

sanfranman59 3:09 AM  

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

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

Mon 6:03, 6:03, 1.00, 49%, Medium
Tue 7:06, 7:50, 0.91, 22%, Easy-Medium
Wed 8:54, 9:30, 0.94, 35%, Easy-Medium
Thu 14:54, 16:57, 0.88, 26%, Easy-Medium
Fri 17:00, 19:38, 0.87, 26%, Easy-Medium

Top 100 solvers

Mon 3:48, 3:57, 0.96, 24%, Easy-Medium
Tue 4:50, 5:21, 0.90, 15%, Easy
Wed 6:01, 6:08, 0.98, 43%, Medium
Thu 9:31, 10:29, 0.92, 31%, Easy-Medium
Fri 10:49, 12:34, 0.86, 26%, Easy-Medium

Anonymous 9:41 AM  

Did anyone else let the POLLSTER cross trick them into "On guard" for 38D Sentinel's place?

I also had MISSy and NORy at first, but the latter just didn't fit, so I resorted to alphabetical enumeration. Even then I was left wondering what the heck "No R.M." meant, until I came here.

Anonymous 2:01 PM  

Never heard the word "humblebrag" which sounds like it will be forgotten forever in a year or two. Never heard of Lean Dunham, Taylor Lautner, the director Coen or his movie "True Grit" (I thought it was talking about the John Wayne movie). What kind of message is the Times trying to send by publishing stuff like this? You're basically telling anyone over 40 -- you don't matter, please just go die!!!!

LHS 888 3:43 PM  

This one was difficult DNF for me... just not in my wheelhouse I guess. ?UMBLE???? = WOE, but I sure do like HUMBLEBRAG as a word now that I've seen it. I had LENA, but no idea about DUNHAM until I broke down and googled Girls. That also took care of the RAHM problem (another WOE). No problem here for Taylor LAUTNER or ORLANDO Sentinel. LLANERO on the other hand was a word I knew I'd seen before in xwordland, but I just couldn't dredge up out of the gray matter.

I struggled with 56A. I felt it had to be Betty BOOP, but for the life of me couldn't bring myself to believe it would be BOOP without the Betty.
Hand up for not thinking bathes = STEEPS
Hand up for falling into the onASLANT rabbithole.
Hand up for Pasta before PILAF. Yes, both risotto and PILAF are rice dishes, but I was focusing on texture & they are not the same in that respect.
Loved seeing ONEPOTATO, SOCIALLIFE, FRESHSTART, PHENOM, SEXPERT, PEIGNOIR in the grid. Although I struggled with this puzzle, there were a some ahas for ma along the way.

Thanks, Finn.

spacecraft 1:31 PM  

"Easy?" Hardly. Lots of never-heard-ofs, including the apparently well-known LENADUNHAM. Not Jeff's wife, is she? Also n.h.o. HUMBLEBRAG, though it's made up of two words that sensibly fit the clue. This forced me to write over onASLANT with the correct ATASLANT.

Started with ARA and IRISH, the former a very overworked xword name and the latter a bleedover from IRISHCOFFEE. The SE came down fairly quickly for a Friday, and after seeing that "fire" didn't mean pink-slip, so did the SW. Once I UNEARTHed 2d, the NW was done.

Then there was the NE. Yeesh! I guessed at nearly half of those letters, throwing down an "L" wherever I needed one in the Hispanic entries--and it worked! By sheer luck I finished with no errors, despite n.h.o. ELEA, LLANERO, RELLENO or NEO-soul. It took forever for TELE to light me up: "What marketers might follow." I say again, Yeesh!

Who knew Oliver Cromwell originally played the wheelchair-bound police chief later played by Raymond Burr?

SEXPERT? That's another n.h.o., but it makes a sort of compressed sense. I guess. I'll go ONRECORD as liking this one--except for that NE. B.

282: Yeesh!

roondo 1:31 PM  

Where's @Spacecraft today? Hope to see him along with @eastsacgirl and Ron Diego.
Same as so many before re: HUMBLEBRAG and LENADUNHAM: and I really don't know a thing about Twilight esp not the actors. So this wasn't a slam dunk for me, kinda hard in those places. Do they still make WINECOOLERs? Not my cuppa.In these parts a shore lunch is not SEAFOOD, it's beer-battered walleye.

315 - PHENOMenal

Anonymous 1:56 PM  

Here we are, Rondo: Spacecraft above and me below. (A Crossword Sandwich).
This one not very easy for me but with the help of Wiki I did finish. Hey, when you're 150 yrs old like me you just don't know words like Humblebrag. And I had to look up Lena D.

I have to ditto Spacecraft on this one. More like Med/Challenge

Ron Diego

DMG 2:35 PM  

This one didn't play "easy" for me. Did the East half, got stuck in the SW "forever", untilI I realized Sentinels must refer to a sports team and not those nifty looking guys out side Buckingham Palace. But the NW!! Just couldn't get a enough crosses to solve the slang and unknown actress, and would never have guessed PHENOM! Isn't that more "modern lingo"? Off for another cup of tea while I lick my wounds!

345 Well, at least it looks nice!

rondo 2:41 PM  

FYI the Orlando Sentinel is their newspaper. Rather be in a sandwich with @eastsacgirl!


Anonymous 3:16 PM  

Too late, Rondo. It's already done. Over and out.

Ron Diego

P.S. I use the Rondo tag for one of my other sites, You Copycat !!

Ron Diego0

Dirigonzo 3:45 PM  

I came through this relatively unscathed with only a couple of wrong turns in the SE where cityrat had to come out in favor of SLUMDOG and my resort options were spaS before they were INS. Otherwise the crosswords worked their magic and produced the words I didn't know so fair enough. Seeing both Bette Midler (The "Divine" MISS M) and Betty BOOP in the grid made my heart go pitty-pat. Well done Mr. Vigeland - I hope you shouted ET VOILA! when you produced this one.

1209 - yeah, that's about my NORM for the week.

rain forest 4:10 PM  

If you don't know HUMBLEBRAG, lENADUNHAM, or NEO-soul, this is tough, as it was for me. Also didn't know that admirals have stars-thought they had various numbers of stripes. Anyway, like @Spacey, I persevered on all the little crosses, made three guesses, and ended up with a correct solution.

What's wrong with SLUMDOGS unless it gives one a guilty conscience, which one (percent) can do something about if they cared to?

ORLANDO held me up more than the two biggies in the NW, actually.

Can't read the captcha. Second try - 8324, raise.

Get Real! 5:01 AM  

Seriously! Nobody thought there should be a question mark after the 16 across clue?

The llanero / relleno cross was terrible. Natick!

Make public=unearth? That's quite a tough clue/usage of the word,in my opinion, when Lena Durham & humblebrag make that corner tough enough already!

The French word cross in the SE corner was poor. I took Spanish in High School and German in college. Your paper is obsessed with French!

While I completed the puzzle correctly with no aids, I didn't think it was easy. And I don't think puzzles like this should be published in a daily newspaper. I think they are too "cliqueish" and should be saved for specialty puzzle books for the masochists that enjoy such torture.

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