Swimmer Matt who won eight olympic gold medals / THU 3-26-15 / 1971 rock classic inspired by 12th-century Persian poem / Ziff Simpsons character voiced by Jon Lovitz / Haaretz readers / Early Pierre Cardin employer / Draco Malfoy's housemates

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Constructor: Byron Walden

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: RINSE CYCLE (57A: Part of washing … or what's exhibited by the circled letters from top to bottom) — letters in "RINSE" "cycle" (perfectly) through all their sequential permutations (i.e. ERINS, then move "S" to the beginning and you get SERIN, then move "N" to the beginning and you get NSERI, etc., until you get RINSE at the bottom)

Theme answers:
  • SLYTHERINS (19A: Draco Malfoy's housemates in the Harry Potter books)
  • NOSE RINGS (27A: Some punk accessories)
  • INTENSE RIVALS (36A: Red Sox and Yankees, e.g.)
  • SPIN SERVE (43A: Tricky way to put a ball in play)
Word of the Day: Haaretz (39D: Haaretz readers => ISRAELIS) —
Haaretz (Hebrewהארץ‎) (lit. "The Land [of Israel]", originally Ḥadashot Ha'aretz – Hebrewחדשות הארץ‎, IPA: [χadaˈʃot haˈʔaʁets] – "News [of] the Land [of Israel]") is Israel's oldest daily newspaper. It was founded in 1918 and is now published in both Hebrew and English in Berliner format. The English edition is published and sold together with the International New York Times. Both Hebrew and English editions can be read on the Internet. In North America, it comes out as a weekly newspaper, combining articles from the Friday edition with a roundup from the rest of the week. An independent newspaper of record, some commentators state that it plays the role in Israel that The New York Times plays in the United States. It is known for its staunch left-liberal stance on domestic and foreign issues. (wikipedia)
• • •
My initial reactions to this weren't great. Mixing up letters over and over seemed trite, and though SLYTHERINS is of course a welcome answer, the fill in general seemed decidedly sub-Walden. I don't think I even believe that INTENSE RIVALS is a thing. Like, a stand-alone thing. So while the puzzle didn't seem terrible, it also didn't excite me, at all. Then two things happened. First, I realized that the theme wasn't just "mix up the letters in RINSE"—it was all those letters *cycling*, in order, through their various permutations, and, also, doing so in a way where all permutations are perfectly aligned, one above the next, resulting in a perfect column of circled in answers in the middle of the grid. Those two things demonstrate a high level of craftsmanship, and gave me a somewhat elevated appreciation for the puzzle as a whole. But then … then my feelings went from tepid admiration to something much more positive and much more intense … after I entered … the SW corner!

For the fantastic / alarming visual alone, I'm going to give that SW corner the "Best SW Corner Of All Time" award. If you weren't imagining a MALE (NUDE) engaged in PHONE SEX while wearing a SANTA HAT, well… you are now, and you're welcome. The only thing I'd change about that corner is the "G" in GIMPS. I get that it's supposed to add (I think) to the overall mildly perverted feel of that corner (insofar as "GIMPS" reminds me of "The Gimp" from "Pulp Fiction"), but it's a borderline offensive word (making it a verb doesn't really change that). I'd actually prefer PIMPS there, though I somehow doubt that would fly in the NYT. LIMPS or SIMPS works too. But this is hardly that important. What's important is MALE NUDE PHONE SEX SANTA HAT. *That* is a jolly good time. It's like the rest of the puzzle barely exists...

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Zeke 12:07 AM  

The also cycle when read as downs, but that's no big deal, it's necessary.

On the subject of "how stupid can one man be", I've had this site bookmarked for years. Recently I've had to type it in, and it still took me a month to realize it was re xwordpuzzle.blah blah blah. Yes, I am that stupid.

jae 12:17 AM  

My only problem with this is that it's way to easy for a Thurs.  I'm with Rex, great SW corner and a very well executed theme.  The only things that slowed me down were having to dig a bit to remember LEO and AYE sir before AYE AYE.

It might just be me but the grid looks a little like a washing machine viewed from the top? 

Liked it, but would have liked it more on a Wed.

wreck 12:17 AM  

Boy, I sure didn't realize the "cycling" of RINSE until I read Rex's review! I had lIMPS for a long time in the SW corner, which in turn kept me from seeing APASS in the NE for far too long. That said, it was still a pretty quick Thursday.

Whirred Whacks 12:30 AM  

I flew through this fun puzzle.

Matt BIONDI was the greatest American swimmer between the Mark Spitz and Michael Phelps' eras. I met him at Olympic Trials in 1996. Very affable. He's well-respected in the swimming community.

I once did a creativity seminar for the NEA (true story), and asked the participants to make up offbeat mottos for their organization. This one was my favorite:
"Lean to the left,
Lean to the left,
Stand up,
Sit down,
Strike, strike, strike."

Culture clash. I gave a speech in the late 90s in ABU DHABI to a group of about 200 women who were all covered in full Burgas. I don't know what their their experience was, but as a speaker it was quite difficult for me to get any feedback because I couldn't read their faces.

@Rex Disagree with your saying INTENSE RIVALS isn't a thing. Didn't you go to Michigan (for graduate school)? What would you call Ohio State/Michigan? Out here in the the Bay Area we've got Stanford/Cal. I'm sure most of the other commenters can contribute a few as well.

DebinSac 12:35 AM  

I, too, had to come here to see the cycling of the letters in rinse. And to see how droll the SW corner is. I agree, @jae, it looks like a washing machine. But I would say the face-on view of a front-loader....

Steve J 12:36 AM  

I found this about as exciting as doing laundry.

Yes, the letters in RINSE do cycle. Spotted that quickly. But impressive construction feats don't automatically translate into interesting solving experiences. This is just one step removed from a word ladder. And why are the RINSE cycles going up? Is there a layer to the theme I'm not getting? Or do they just go up because that's the direction they're going?

Anonymous 12:40 AM  

Or that stoned @Zeke. Put down the bong. It's late.

Does anyone know the genesis of the alter ego Rex Parker? My guess would be that this name is derived from Lex Luther. Rex as the super villain, or so he has become as of late.

John Child 12:56 AM  

What a difference a day makes! I enjoyed this puzzle very much -- interesting grid and interesting fill. My only complaint is that it went by much too fast for a Thursday. I think it would have been better without the circles / shading (depending on the medium). With them is's an easy Wednesday difficulty.

I confess to the the same mental image @Rex offers for the southwest corner. Is he in OMAHA or at the YMCA?

Best of all there's so little icky fill that I can't find anything to be cranky about. Maybe REEKS, REELS, and REEFS, but the cycling stack forces that. Even the ugly partial at 1-Down GOT A PASS from me because of good cluing: I'll take GIMPS in service of that end.

"Intense rivals" googles far, far better than "sea scented" which pretty much got a pass yesterday. The World Cup cricket semi-final between India and Australia is happening right now. They are surely intense rivals...

mathguy 1:01 AM  

Not easy for me. DEL (as in Del Norte) was my only gimme. And the theme didn't help. I only noticed it after I was done. I haven't read Harry Potter, so SLYTHERINS was a mystery.

Didn't like "Got a pass" as a phrase. Also INRUSH? SHAPE?

PDA is personal data assistant, isn't it. What does it have to do with subways?

But don't get me wrong. I enjoyed it.

Carola 1:04 AM  

On seeing the constructor's name, I wondered, "Does Byron Walden do rebuses?" I didn't remember any, associating him more with themeless Fridays and Saturdays. ANYHOO, I was a little disappointed that we got circles on a Thursday, and that the repeating letters made the theme entries too easy to get. But I didn't notice how the letters were in a CYCLE so enjoyed that part of the reveal.

Harry Potter fan that I am, I loved SLYTHERINS (INTENSE RIVALS could have been clued as "19A and Gryffindor") and I also got a laugh out of the MALE NUDE having PHONE SEX involving a SANTA HAT (a fetish?). The REEKS - REELS - REEFS step-down across the center also stood out - for a SEC I wondered if it was theme-related.

chefwen 1:13 AM  

1A got me off on the wrong foot, yet again. Type A's went right in. BZZZZT! Wrong, sunshine!

Caught onto the RINSE thingy right away, so it went down fairly quickly.

Where is my Thursday rebus, damn it!!!!

chefwen 1:15 AM  

@Carola - Packers vs. Vikings/Bears comes to mind, yes?

Anonymous 1:24 AM  

Would someone be good enough to explain 33A to a solver who feels happy about almost finishing a Byron Walden?


Anonymous 1:47 AM  

G = short for Grand, used pretty much exclusively in reference to money ($1,000).
Thou = short for thousand, used in what context and by who I'm not sure.

Clark 1:57 AM  

@mathguy: PDA = public display of affection

@GGF: G and THOU are both short for "thousand" (at least I think that is what's going on here).

I asked Semi-Puzzle Partner to use his image finding skill to come up with a picture of a nude male with a phone wearing a santa hat. I was trying to figure out how to post a link (with suitable trigger warnings) while at the same time not getting Rex's blog flagged. But, no need, 'cause SPP failed to find conforming picture. The internet let us down. Too bad.

JTHurst 3:18 AM  

Wow, this puzzle heated up and covered the spectrum of wordplay interplay foreplay. Yesterday, we had nudes descending and today they were ascending -'aye aye'.

I had the same imagery as Rex and give him props for his commentary but I knew the hobbling gaits must be limps and just opposite in the NW we have inert. Male nudes across from L'amour in the YMCA. I mean d'oh. Well I only have a 'sec' and have to scoot. I only wanted to take a shot in the crease. Everything done in 'unison' is better. This puzzle seemed to 'enlarge' everything. Not that I am 'anti' the casual sexual innuendo and I am positive I will never say it again but this puzzle was like watching the spin cycle on the washing machine (only Andy Kaufman would have liked it) and made me desire the return of the Thursday rebus.

Is it indicative of me or did others immediately know the Plastic Ono Band? Maybe because I have her Ruby Grapefruit book.

Must hie. Ciao. Pop Gun Mai.

George Barany 5:10 AM  

This puzzle was Waldenesque, for sure. I presume that those of you who will attend the 2015 ACPT already know that @Byron Walden will be one of the eight tournament constructors. I look forward to seeing him, @Rex, @CascoKid, @Bob Kerfuffle, @Mac, and undoubtedly quite a few more of you in Stamford.

With apologies to the hero of Club Rex, I would now beg your forbearance to address a couple of loose ends from queries earlier in the week. Most of the prizes for the Enigma Variations crossword metapuzzle contest have now been assigned and distributed, as listed here. Special congratulations to @Dan Feyer and @John Wilson, who each won a random drawing to have our contest cover their registrations to the ACPT. We thank the generosity of all of our sponsors, who include some of the top names in all of cruciverbaldom, and note that the likes of @Vic Fleming, @Tom Pepper, and @Alex Vratsanos contributed new puzzles as contest prizes. The "midrash" which reveals the answer will be finalized sometime next week, but anyone who can't wait can send me a private e-mail.

Also, a number of you may recall how @John Child created a Sunday-sized puzzle called Paws to Consider; we rushed to get the puzzle out on March 14 for a special reason that is entirely irrelevant to the potential solving process. Several of you were kind enough to point out a couple of glitches with the puzzle. For this we are grateful, and have created for the same URL a slightly revised version of the puzzle that addresses all of the earlier issues. @Rexville is a terrific community!

GILL I. 5:12 AM  

I just know that five weeks from now, spouse will open the comics section of The Sacramento Bee, head for the puzzle and ask me 3 minutes later...."Do you remember the answer to Bump-and-run club?"
What I'm really curious about is why @Rex would find a MALE NUDE PHONE SEX SANTA HAT so jolly. I mean, really... picture that fat ass sitting in front of the fireplace, smoking his pipe and eating left-over popcorn.!
Not only do I love Byron Walden's name, I always enjoy his puzzles. I know I have to think and I can also really forget the ONO TDA ORE,EXT little fill-ins because everything else fills the bill.

Why in the world was I thinking
Le Carre for 62A? Maybe "The Most Wanted Man" was floating around my brain in a cowboy gidyyak romantic French way?
Liked the GIMPS MALE NUDE section as well as the ALPHAS PARENT.
ANYHOO, we at least have LAYLA. Is that a she?

Anonymous 5:22 AM  

Repeating my Wednesday comment: how did I know where the parochial Mr. Stark would go with his negativism by just reading the constructor's name?

GILL I. 5:26 AM  

Oops...was that a SAS misprint?

Charles Flaster 6:01 AM  

Challenging and DNF due to LEO crossing NOTES.
Had to suss the proper names--BIONDI, LAMOUR and SLYTHERINS.Theme was straightforward and helped in solving.
SPIN was artfully placed as in a dryer's spin cycle.
Thanks BE

Charles Flaster 6:02 AM  

Oops BW.

Aketi 6:19 AM  

@GILL I, thanks for bursting the bubble of my fantasy vision of someone other than Santa wearing his hat. Stale popcorn was a nice touch. Made my day.

Danp 6:29 AM  

I'll bet male nudes have to do phone sex in code if they are wearing santa hats? Nothing diplomatic about that.

Danp 6:29 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous 7:21 AM  

Intense rivalry. The competition between the two teams, not the teams themselves. I'm with Rex.

Loren Muse Smith 7:29 AM  

Not much to add, even this early. I had the same experience as many; when I saw CYCLE, I went straight to the circles and filled in the letters in a perfect cycle which made everything all the faster. I never even considered Byron would do anything else. He's one of the best.

Actually, that sw corner is a veiled autobiographical allusion to the great story that got the ACPT tourney kicked out of Brooklyn last year. They still haven’t found Byron’s SANTA HAT or the phone he was using during this spectacular PDA. And as I was farding in the bathroom this morning in full TOILETTE mode, I remembered that Byron was actually descending a staircase when security caught him.

I wish we could pass a law changing the spelling of DOH to "duh." What happened there? DOH will always rhyme with Noh. (SCOOT away and fast if someone has tickets to a show in Japan if you're not familiar with this kind of theater.)

Saw the REEKS, REELS, REEFS like @John Child. Had "limp" first. Oh, and had “Sep” (short for September) crossing “peres” before I figured that was just wrong.

Loved the puzzle, love all of Byron’s work. Good times!

Lewis 7:29 AM  

All my notes have been already covered, except for the ARTIE/D'OH Simpsons pair. The NW was tough for me, as I haven't read Harry Potter and was also having trouble sussing the answers from the clues. I didn't make the "G" connection at 33A and was sure that THOU was wrong.

I thought the theme was Wednesday rather than Thursday, despite the perfect cycling, but the difficulty level for me was Thursday right.

My male nude not only is wearing a SANTA HAT, but he's also holding a NINE IRON.

A Voyeur 8:16 AM  

Liked the puzzle, particularly visually on paper, solved with medium time and head-scratching. Hated INRUSH.

chefbea 8:16 AM  

Fun easy puzzle...I love doing laundry

At first had sculpted for 60A and scale for 27D...that all changed.

AliasZ 8:24 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rex Porker 8:25 AM  

As I near male menopause, I find myself having strange responses to sexual innuendo. Some days, the mere mention of a TEAT or an AREOLA in a puzzle will send me into an uncontrolled fit of disgust, which leads me to trash constructors and solvers in malicious ways; whereas other days, while performing my TOILETTE, the fantasy of participating in a PHONESEX PDA at the YMCA with a MALENUDE Matt BIONDI who is wearing a GIMP leather hood, a NOSERING, and a SANTAHAT while holding a NINEIRON makes me as giddy as teenager fumbling for a bra strap. Such bliss allows me to give APASS to bad fill like OPE, DOH, NEA, and SAS. Oh L'AMOUR...there's no accounting for hormones (or taste), I suppose.

AliasZ 8:29 AM  

I Thoreau-ly enjoyed swimming across this Byron Walden Pond in UNISON alongside Matt BIONDI. The only slightly inelegant part of the execution was that SPIN CYCLE never made it in. Also, I would have enjoyed the puzzle even more if the "REE*S descending a staircase No.2½" sub-theme were completed: REEKS, REELS, REEFS, reeds. What a shame to let a word ladder go to waste.

Didn't we have the writer Bernard MALENUDE in a puzzle a few days ago?

How do you clean the telephone after PHONE SEX? The same way as the NOSE RING after a juicy sneeze. It would be great if both were machine washable. RINSE CYCLE! DOH, now I got the tie-in to the theme.

Byron GOT A PASS on DEL, ONO, FAA, OPE, DOH, NEA, ENL, both SAS and LIP, and APASS. Constructors of inferior pedigree would have had their assets put through the RINSE CYCLE for this pile of crosswordese.

ANYHOO, for music, I could go with the famous tenor, Mario DEL Monaco, but let me instead offer these lovely OLD Airs and Dances by Ottorino Respighi.

Now I've got to SCOOT.

Generic Solver 8:35 AM  

I'm always surprised that Harry Potter is apparently considered "common knowledge" in these puzzles. I don't have kids and have never had any interest in reading the Harry Potter series or any other fantasy novels. Just not my thing. And the names are never anything one could easily infer. Am I the only one on this planet who hasn't read Harry Potter?

Leapfinger 8:38 AM  

AYE AYE AYE!! Talk about INTENSE RIVALS, the Dook Blue Devils and Tarheels are right up there. The family now includes alum/fans of both (as well as NC State Wolfpack), so March is a touchy month hereabouts. ANYHOO, to my ear, 'intense rivalry' and 'bitter rivals' sounds more natural. Chacun has their own gout, right?

@Alias, I think we're on Day 4 of the LEO Nine. Or is it only 3?


I, MAC, am not your TOI, LETTE me assure you. THOU has shown me that Free Love can cost more than STEEP SIN. I don't need A BUD HABItually to SAS me. Things have gone BIONDI bounds of the bareable, and I now ask that THOU not come SLYTHERIN to my DIOR no more, no more.

BO TOX, but now, BO walks. PREYS be, I have nothing to HIED.

Noticed that Walden punned by coming across with the "CENT of a MALE NUDE". Liked that he even worked in AL PHAScino.
Did not appreciate the OLD SHAPE pair quite so much.

As @jae (and others) have mentioned --have/has mentioned? Oh,who cares!! -- a good puzzle, but not for a Thursday.

Does that NOSERING a bell?

NCA President 8:45 AM  

I think "Bitter Rivals" is the thing that describes teams and fan bases who hate each other. They may hate each other intensely, but they are commonly called bitter not intense. I guess bitter is just a few steps west of intense.

Rex, I'm disappointed that you didn't add LAMOUR in with your fetishistic Nude Santa on the Phone imagery.

Speaking of PHONESEX, do 900 numbers still exist in a world of internet porn and sexting?

I got the theme early and as has been mentioned a few times in the last couple of weeks, by filling in the blanks, the puzzle became much easier (and shorter).

I wanted "Bump and run club" to be some kind of Ninja demolition derby...a clandestine group of people who are actually responsible for all those dings you find on your car and can't remember how the hell they got there.

Anonymous 8:52 AM  

I wonder if BIONDI eats a bialy while riding his Bianchi?

Bird 8:53 AM  

Liked it. Loved the SW corner but not fully until @Rex provided the image. Speaking of images, to me the grid looks like the front view of a top loader in the middle of a spin cycle.

As a sports fan I can name many rivalries with 36A (Giants/Cowboys, Notre Dame/Michigan, Islanders/Rangers, …)


Lewis 8:55 AM  

Factoid: During University of Nebraska football games, Memorial Stadium (in OMAHA) becomes the third largest city in Nebraska.

Quotoid: "I obviously don't feel under pressure to look young, because I have had no BOTOX or surgery. I don't judge people who choose to have it, but I don't want to erase who I am." -- Diane von Furstenberg

joho 9:03 AM  

I'm sitting in a doctor's office waiting to bring my sure to be groggy husband home after having a tooth removed so @Rex's great write up and everybody's clever comments are especially appreciated this morning.

I really have nothing to add other than I was excited to see Byron's name at the top of the puzzle and happy that he didn't disappoint.

I loved it!

BTW when your laundry REEKS it's time to throw it into the washing machine!

Anonymous 9:12 AM  

Public Display of Affection

Tita 9:13 AM  

@Generic - no, I've not read them either, but have absorbed a small percentage of the lingo by osmosis. The books and films are so huge that yes, it's fair.

@jae & @deb - thanks for the visual. It's a front-loader to me too.

BOTOX is a portmanteau of botchulism and toxin. Yeah - gimme some of that, please. Was their marketing guy on vacation the week they were naming the thing? (It hasn't hurt sales, though, has it...)

So Rex - you hated architectural puzzles on Sunday - but you loved the craftmanship today?
Come on - you're just baiting us, aren't you...

That whole southern section IS pretty hilarious, what with all the inuendo INCODE - I definitely agree that YMCA, even SCOOT & ELUDE, belong to that sub rosa sub theme.
For me, this was a bit of a let-down - wanted more Thursday trickses.

So, great Wednesday, disappointing Thursday.

Anonymous 9:15 AM  

You've done it again, Professor Barany!

Rug Crazy 9:17 AM  

Another Limp MaleNude

oldbizmark 9:20 AM  

still working on yesterday's puzzle after an easy friday-tuesday run. but, this one brought it back to easy.

RnRGhost57 9:37 AM  

GIMPS as a verb is hardly "borderline offensive." Now GIMPS as a noun, that's a different story, unless you're Al Swearingen of course.

Nancy 9:44 AM  

Amen, @Steve J., amen! How much I agree with you! I also agree with @jae and @Tita who likewise were disappointed in this puzzle's lack of Thursdayness. That being said, I Naticked at the crossing of LAYLA and SLYTHERINES, so I DNF. I also DNC (did not care.)

Like @JT Hurst, I had lIMPS before GIMPS. I also had MALE boD
y before MALE NUDE, but changed it quickly when the Y didn't work.

@Whirred -- While I didn't agree with you that this puzzle was in any way "fun", what I did find fun were your comments about it. Just delightful.

Hoping for a more interesting tomorrow.

NCA President 9:47 AM  

@Lewis: Memorial Stadium is in Lincoln. And yes, at 80K+ the stadium becomes the 3rd largest populated place in the state. Coming from a town of just over 22K and sitting in the stadium, it was a little mind boggling.

FWIW, Bryant-Denny in Tuscaloosa is the 4th most populated place in Alabama on Saturdays.

Roo Monster 9:53 AM  

Hey All !
WedsPuz, nice idea, staircase cool, but bad fill and bad grid design. IMO :-)

Todays puz kinda interestin. Picked up on the RINSE "CYCLE" theme of RINSE being "cycled" one letter at a time, so that got me to fill in all the circles (or shaded squares, as the NYT puzapp had them). Was gonna comment on the SW corner also, but Rex beat me to it! My hang up was NE corner. Couldn't come up with many answers there. Spelled ABU DauBI wrong, couldn't see NINEIRON or ROILETTE. Only Downs I had were ANTI & UNISON. So gave up ang took the DNF. These things will happen!

Never read the Harry Potter books, but the movies were cool. I see ELUDE is becoming more popular than evade. I always seem to still put evade in every time! And LEO again! Wondering if Will lined up the LEO puzs on purpose? Not complaining, as I am one. (A Leo, that is.)

Wanted lIMPS for GIMPS, but changed afer APASS. @Gill, if you were being serious, LAYLA is a song by Eric Clapton (I think! If wrong, I know others will correct me!), and yes, she's a she!


Merck Index 10:04 AM  

@Tita, Botox is a composite of BOTulinum TOXin, which is produced by some strains of Clostridium (a soil bacterium). Other species of Clostridium produce the toxin that causes tetanus, while the Cl. botulinum produces a toxin that has been used for over half a century to treat a variety of disorders. A host of these are neurological conditions marked by muscle spasticity, but other indications include gastric cancer, allergic rhinitis, anal fissure, obesity and migraine.

So... your 'botchulism', which occurs mostly in elective plastic surgery applications, is cute, but not entirely appropriate.

Whirred Whacks 10:23 AM  

@Nancy 9:44

Thanks for the kind comment. With respect to my puzzle description ("fun"): it's not my style to dump on any particular puzzle, unless it's very unfairly clued. This puzzle gave me 20 minutes of solving enjoyment, and also provoked positive personal memories of Matt BIONDI and ABU DHABI. The constructor probably spent 15-20 hours making it (I'm just guessing here), and got paid only $300. So, I'm pretty charitable.

The sun is just coming up now, and I'm sitting on my hill with my three Corgis. Gonna be a good day -- and wishing you one as well!

Z 10:33 AM  

Between today's NYTX and yesterday's AVCX I am certain that tomorrow's puzzle will be heavy on the rock and roll.

I was fearful that this was going to be 75% Wheelhouse and 25% Outhouse as ABU DHABI and TOILETTE were not helping me finish the NE. HIED finally trudged up out of some xword recess of my brain and I finished. The year would have thrown me off at 2D, but I had just read an article about the George Harrison/Patti Boyd/Eric Clapton/Unrequited love->Marriage->Divorce thing yesterday and it mentioned the source of the title LAYLA.

I don't know what to make of a puzzle with a very well executed bland theme with tons of non-thematic fun. "I did the laundry well" doesn't exactly inspire, but the corners are fun fun fun.

A SLYTHERIN'S PARENTs would be ALPHAS for sure. You probably think "sand trap" when you think of ABU DHABI, but you shouldn't. And then everyone goes down in the south. Using beer-ratings, the theme is a PBR, the theme-execution is an Oberon, and the corners are Two-Hearted Ales.

Z 10:40 AM  

@Whirred Whacks - Laughed at your NEA cheer. A classic example of what happens in organizations. Leadership is far left, rank and file tends to be slightly right of center on everything except teacher contracts.

Joseph Michael 10:56 AM  

Enjoyed the erotic undercurrent of the puzzle. Makes doing the laundry more interesting.

Also thought the cluing was better than usual, especially for 16A, 63A, 13D, and 29D.

Agree that it seemed more like a Wednesday than a Thursday, but it was still fun to solve in spite of SLYTHERINS which, as a non-reader of Harry Potter, I only got from the crosses.

AYE, AYE, Mr. Walden. Good job!

Ludyjynn 10:58 AM  

@Whirred, I'd add the Orioles as INTENSERIVALS to the Sox and Yanks. BTW, I had 'classic' before INTENSE.

Now I know there are at least three of us who have yet to be sucked in to the Harry Potter book/film universe. Hi, @mathguy and @genericsolver. Got it via crosses, but it was the last section to go in.

@ChefWen, hand up for 'type
AS' before ALPHAS. Like @LMS, had to change 'l'IMP to G; sorta ugly word, IMO. Otherwise enjoyed the entire SW quad.

This was a medium Thursday for me w/ quite a few writeovers.

ANYHOO, I liked it. Thanks, BW and WS.

Anonymous 11:15 AM  

Why is 'onetime' old?

Leapfinger 11:23 AM  

'Onetime' doesn't have to be old, but in its meaning of former or formerly, it well can be.

I had LIMP before GIMP also; that word carries less sting as the braided edging used to finish some upholstered furniture.

nick 11:27 AM  

Couldn't get past the glut of junky trivia and proper nouns. No fun.

evil doug 11:36 AM  

How could this not be linked today?:

Pulp Fiction bring out the gimp

you're welcome


JFC 11:38 AM  

I think Rex has the wrong party wearing the SANTA HAT.


andy 11:39 AM  

Nope. You hear two team names used as reference to the competition all the time. If we want to get nitpicky, we can say it should use the "/", as Whirred did rather than "and", but say "Stanford/Cal" to anyone in the Bay Area, and they know your referring to The Game - an intense rivalry.

old timer 11:44 AM  

I found it plenty tough, because I did not get the RINSE CYCLE trick as some of you did. That, and I too don't think INTENSERIVALS is a way to describe the Sox and the Yanks. It proves I really am old, because in my day the intense rivalry was between the Yankees and the Dodgers, and poor old Boston seldom had a chance to win the league.

I started the puzzle with only two gimmes (DEL and ISRAELIS) but the SE was very easy, and the SW was no real challenge. APASS gave me ALPHAS, and when I replaced "picks" (on) with PREYS I recalled the right spelling of that house at Hogwarts

Now, my brain is STEEPED in the Kinks, so it was easy to imagine LAYLA with her (his?) NOSERING, who PREYS on the MALENUDE at the YMCA who likes to wear a SANTA HAT. They only had PHONESEX, so I have NOIDEA why there was such an INRUSH of spectators, but let me tell ya, that locker room was getting pretty crowded.

(By the way, I hope 'mericans in Paris will be coming back -- they were the best at this sort of banter.)

Bird 11:45 AM  

Did some thinking about 36A. Perhaps Rex is right that the answer is wrong. I'm thinking the rivalry can be described as intense, but the teams are hated rivals.

@Ludyjynn - the Orioles are rivals to the Yanks and Sox (as all divisional teams are), but I wouldn't describe the rivalry as intense. At least not like the Yanks/Sox war.

Arlene 11:46 AM  

This was not a quick solve for me - I guess starting with TYPEA and misspelling ABUDAHBI didn't help! I also thought the RINSE cycle should be physically cascading down in a spiral, so I wondered why there were repetitions of letters.
Don't even ask me about the SW! But baseball, golf clubs, nudes and sex - coupled with a laundry cycle - was this the work of a single male?

Roo Monster 11:56 AM  

Turned the radio on to the Classics station, and, you guessed it, LAYLA was playing! The Info said Derek & the Dominoes. Was Clapton a Domino?


Steve J 12:26 PM  

Regarding INTENSE RIVALS. If teams can have an intense rivalry, then calling them INTENSE RIVALS works. It's not the most common expression - variations like "big rivals" or "huge rivals" strike me as more common - but the phrase is definitely in the language (such as this headline on a story about the rivalry between the coaches for the Duke and North Carolina basketball teams, who have one of the most intense rivalries in sports.

@chefwen: As a lifelong (and tortured, which goes with the territory) Vikings fan, I agree that the Vikings/Packers/Bears triangle is a very intense rivalry. Funny how the Lions never really figure in, despite all these teams being in the same division for 50+ years. Years ago, I worked somewhere where we had people who were fans of all four teams. The rest of us always teased the Lions fan for being the equivalent of the little brother all the big kids tolerate but largely ignore.

@Ludyjunn: To me, an intense rivalry has to go both ways. The O's and fans may view the Yankees and Red Sox as rivals, but it doesn't go the other direction from what I've seen.

@Tita: botchulism | noun - An illness caused by bacteria, which causes those infected to continually screw things up.

@George Barany: I finally got around to the Club Rex puzzle. I got a great laugh when I caught on to the theme. Excellent!

John Child 12:27 PM  

Ah youth... http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Derek_and_the_Dominos

Bob Kerfuffle 12:31 PM  

I thought the grid, on paper, with the five shaded rows of anagrammed entries, had a vague resemblance to a side view of the agitator of a washing machine.

Good puzzle, but didn't stir up any strong emotion either way.

Z 12:38 PM  

More about the making of LAYLA.

Wikipedia on the source of the name LAYLA.

The original (music videos didn't exist much in 1970).


Roo Monster 12:48 PM  

Yes, yes, the power of Wikipedia. Shoulda just looked it up before sounding like a baboon!
Interesting facts about the song, tho...


Roo Monster 12:51 PM  

See above Reply to John Child... :-)
(Real one??)

Maybe I can Wiki "The Real John Child " :^D


Anonymous 1:01 PM  

I still don't get how "G" equals "thou"

Chip Hilton 1:13 PM  

I briefly had cyberSEX for 63A., but that led to NrA for the teacher' org., which was patently absurd.

Intensity from across the pond: Celtic/Rangers, Spurs/Arsenal, Everton/Liverpool, and so many more.

I flew through this one, except for the NE, thanks to not knowing the spelling of ABUDHABI and going with football instead of golf for bump-and-run (NinersFC? Ha!). I too was impressed by the rinse cycle. Neato.

wreck 1:16 PM  

@ Anon 1:01

"Clark" answered it late last night

"G" is slang for thousand ("20 G's" = $20,000)

A "thou" is also slang for thousand
("20 Thou" = $20,000)

Masked and Anonymo4Us 1:29 PM  

Not Agitatin.


** gruntz **

Tita 1:42 PM  

@Steve J - lol - I like your definition!

mac 1:55 PM  

Enjoyable Byron Walden puzzle, not as easy to me as to some of you.

Limps for gimps at first. Lots of good clues and words. I liked it a lot.

Eric Clapton 2:01 PM  

And all this time I thought I based LAYLA on a couple of EDDAS.

dk 2:08 PM  

🌕🌕 (2 mOOns)

Easy and fun.

I have NOIDEA what the fuss is about the SW corner.

Biggest confusion was 16a as I was focused on the artistry of slip and fall as it relates to insurance fraud. Golf: who knew! Thank heavens for BOTOX and the ever popular HIED as they saved my hide.

Only grumble was SPINSERVE as in my tennis days as a young dk one may have put spin on the serve, etc. Alas no one cares about senseless quibbles over clues and fill --- errr. except all of us

Rex Morgan and Judge Parker are characters from the comic strip Mary Worth. Given our dear leaders fondness for Ally McBeal and the strip Cathy I am just sure this is the origin of Rex Parker.

Mohair Sam 2:08 PM  

Learn something everyday in the NYT puzzle. Today I learned how much time can be lost by misspelling ABUDahBI (hi @Arlene) and not watching The Simpsons. Thank Heaven for BOTOX.

Had my favorite puzzle experience - looks hopeless, guess a couple, fill a couple off that, get the theme (a beauty, btw), fill a few off that, then a few aha moments taking you to the end. Nice one Mr. Walden.

Once again got payback for suffering through two volumes of Harry Potter.

The Times is on a great puzzle run this week (starting Sunday) in my ever-humble opinion.


There are teams that everyone (except the locals and the ignorami) hates--the Yankees, the Cowboys, Duke, Notre Dame, Harvard (if one is an Ivy Leaguer). These also tend to be the teams whose merchandise is sported by people around the country and around the globe who have very likely never set foot in any of the respective stadia or campuses. But just because you hate them with an intensity matched only by the passion of rex's hatred of mediocre fill, that does not make them your INTENSERIVAL. Rivalries are mutual, and they have long, long histories.

John Child 2:12 PM  

@Roo: as Z says, early content is scarce, but try this: https://vimeo.com/41733507. Turn the volume up to 11. Or 12.

Fred Romagnolo 2:27 PM  

I agree that the wealth of porn on the internet has made PHONE SEX pretty obsolete, but I used to get a kick out of all those old jokes about someone's heavy breathing on the phone. We didn't need @evil's take on the SW, since OFL covered it pretty well. I, too, haven't read the Harry Potter books, and didn't care for the movies, but then, I hated The Sound of Music, so what do I know. The crosses made it work. Also didn't know Plastic ONO Band, or R.O.C.K. in the USA, but the crosses worked, and of course I'm with the Bay Areans who have always called it the Big Game (UC Berkeley vs Stanford). Still don't know why NINE IRON is the bump and run club (anyone?).

Anonymous 3:13 PM  

Hey I know Fred: Why don't you Google "bump and run golf" and see what it says? Just an idea...

Anonymous 3:13 PM  

The nine iron has a large club face set at a wide angle to the shaft. It is used to lift the ball over a trap or hazard (the bump) and then to roll on the green (the run).

GILL I. 3:14 PM  

Hi @Fred....it's one of those golf terms that nobody other than golfers ever use. The NINE IRON is used to...well, bump and then run to the clubhouse for a drink.

Chip Hilton 3:16 PM  

@Fred R - Bump and run is a shot played in golf from just off the green. The object is to get the ball airborne so that it clears the fringe, but quickly hits the green and starts rolling, like a putt. The nine iron is often used for such a shot.

Billy 3:22 PM  

@FredR --

You must not be a golfer.

If your ball is, say, 10 yards away from the edge of the green, and the hole is 20 yards beyond, then you may elect to play a bump-and-run shot.

You hit the ball in a moderate trajectory, landing it on the front of the green, where it bumps then runs onward -- hopefully, into the hole, but at least close to it so that it's a "gimme," so that you successfully got "up-and-down".

Of course, this play can be also done with a7- or 8-iron, or any of several wedges, depending on the specific geometry of the ball and hole position, and the club preferences of the player.

More than you wanted to know. ;-)

Z 3:27 PM  

The Rex Parker Origin Story

Lots of other Rex in the News items can be found at the top of the blog by clicking on "Rex Parker in the News." I suggest starting at the bottom so that you can track Rex's mild-mannered alter ego's hairline. Explains the helmet.

Anonymous 4:01 PM  

Thanks @Z. I've always wondered about the name. Guess I should have done my homework. This explains it all.

Anonymous 12:40 AM

GILL I. 4:08 PM  

Just curious @Z....What made you go back in time? Does "Those Were the Days My Friend" have anything to do with it?

Z 4:24 PM  

@Gill I - Someone asked (maybe yesterday?) and then @dk put forth the Rex Morgan/Judge Parker hypothesis. I recalled reading the story at some point.

@anon 4:01 - I only ran into it before because Rex had mentioned some article. Amazing the number of times Rex has been deemed media coverage worthy. I'm guessing you're the person who asked the question.

Ludyjynn 4:43 PM  

Hi, @Bird and @SteveJ, while maybe not quite rising to the level of 'war', observing rabid fan behavior from both the Balto. home team and visiting NY or Boston team and fans over the years at the old Memorial Stadium and now Camden Yards, sure looks like INTENSERIVALry to me!

@Z, thanks for the LAYLA links. Maybe TMI about their love triangle!

@LMS, I'm afraid we'll be stuck with DOH for as long as The Simpsons remain popular. I, too, prefer the predecessor, 'duh'.

@GillI, I will relate your hilarious 'bump and run' explanation to my avid golfer friend, who will likely spit up his clubhouse drink in response!

Nancy 4:59 PM  

When my younger brother (the died-in-the-wool golfer) was trying to teach me, (the died-in-the-wool tennis player) the bump and run shot, he seemed to not much care what short iron I used. "Grab a 7, 8, or 9 iron, whatever you like," he said. What he wanted to teach me was the right stance for the shot; off which foot to hit the shot; how open or closed the club face should be; and how much of a backswing and follow through I should employ. (I forget his advice in absolutely every single one of these categories; I play golf, if lucky, once a year, and my memory isn't what it used to be, either.) But as I'm reading the comments about the bump and run posted here, I'm thinking: I'm not even a golfer and yet I know that you don't have to use a NINE iron. But Billy, who IS a golfer, straightened everyone out (at 3:22, I think.) Thanks, Billy. My brother would call you a true golfer!

Steve J 5:50 PM  

@LMS and @Ludyjynn: To me, "duh" and "doh" are not synonyms. Doh is closer to "oops" or "that was dumb of me" and is more innocent, while "duh" is like a sarcastic "obviously" or "I/you should know better" and has more than a hint of judgment.

Of course, the internet being the internet, there's a comparison out there.

jae 6:57 PM  

@Deb and Tita - I could go with front loader.

Re: Bump and run: I prefer an 8 iron. You get more "run."

Anonymous 7:31 PM  

how is "G" thou? and what is a crease shot?

jae 8:17 PM  

G is short for grand. One grand is slang for $1,000 as is 1 G.

Crease in the clue refers to a facial wrinkle which is treated with BOTOX.

OISK 10:32 PM  

Finished it correctly, although I didn't know what PDA was until I came here. I think it has been in the puzzle before (as public display), but I don't recall ever hearing or reading the term anywhere else. I knew that there was a song called "Layla," and having read just one Potter book, still remembered Slytherin. Never heard of "Rock in the USA, or Artie Ziff, or "Where you can hang out with the boys," (have heard the song at the ball park) , have never ever said "Anyhoo," , but there was enough clever stuff to keep me interested.

spacecraft 11:15 AM  

No one seems to have noticed those three central downs: REEKS REELS REEFS. Was this deliberate?

I did not think this was easy, though after grokking the theme I was given a couple of badly needed assists from the shaded squares. I must be one of the few people around who never GOT into "The Simpsons," or the Potter books--but give me Mellencamp and I'm your guy. For my second entry I just took a leap of faith and put in THOU for "G," and the east was done.

Hand up for oNRUSH, and for not liking INRUSH. But after ONO, I naturally thought that "fair" was sosO. I had NOIDEA it was the other kind of fair. Thankfully that all got straightened out, and I headed for the last, toughest area: the NW. Early on, with 5d ending in O, I laughingly thought ANYHOO--but of course they'd never put THAT in a puzzle.

Of course.

One other writeover: TOILETry instead of TIOLETTE. Whateverre. I am not nearly as enamored of that SW corner as some, but it does make me wonder what happens NEXT. As a grid-I-never-thought-I'd-finish-but-did (!), I have to give this at least a medium-challenging and an A.

@DMG: No doubt you have since discovered that you were thinking of Cleveland AMORY (no early R) yesterday. I knew about ARMORY because there was one near where I used to live, in the '60s. Brenda Lee played a concert at the Kingston (PA) Armory--and I BOUGHT HER A COKE! True story.

rondo 12:24 PM  

My only write-over was one @spacey had at TOILETry, souns a little more manly with that ending. Got the first two cycled RINSES then the reveal and that finished of the others. Kinda clever bit of constructin’ there.

Went to a ballet last night based on Rodin’s life as a sculptor. Lots of near NUDE MALEs (and females). No SANTAHATs though.

I use a 7 iron to bump and run; I seem to get more loft with any club than most folks. Sucks for distance though. Will be going this PM.

I like Thursdays better like this than with the squares filled up with multi this or that. And Rex Porker kills me.

Burma Shave 1:14 PM  


and STATES she has NOIDEA of what to ELUDE.
A CERES of ALPHAS, then RINSE and repeat?
No, what she GOT was that one OLD MALENUDE.


ecanarensis 1:24 PM  

NCA pres 8:45, I dunno the answer to your query, but have an interesting 'N' fun ancient PHONESEX trivia factoid. Back in the days of landlines & "hit redial," you could get a real thrill when merely trying to book an innocent room: one day I started to dial the Motel 6 800#, & got interrupted after dialing the first 9 digits. I hung up. Then I picked up again, hit redial, & then the final digit. I got connected to a PHONESEX line. Figuring I goofed somewhere, I repeated the sequence --9 digits, hang up, redial, then last digit. More PHONESEX. It was a repeatable phenomenon & worked from any landline with a redial button. Made me wonder if they were leaving a red light on...

rain forest 4:58 PM  

Fun puzzle, good theme, and the visual works if you think of the inside of a clothes washer, agitator in the centre, and the letters S E R N I being thrashed about.

I wonder what body part the MALE NUDE has placed the SANTA HAT on...

Anonymous 6:58 PM  

Good Medium puzzle for me today, and I'm not a Harry Potterite so that answer was a guess. A real clever play on words, so my hat's off to Mr. Walden's PONDerings.
Being an old fxxt, the word Gimp was nothing new. There was an expression, "He has a gimp leg" in use back in the old Philly days. And, hey guys, give a guy a break. I hear the word "intense" used by the young folks all the time. Ergo, it fits right in with modern language.

Always glad to read Rain Forest comments. Where is Seattle Slue?

Ron Diego, the Greatest and Humbleist solver in the world.

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