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Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Constructor: Alex Vratsanos and Sam Ezersky

Relative difficulty: Medium (time: mid-4s)



THEME: PAIRS OF CARDS (56A: Some poker holdings … or a hint to 20-, 24-, 30-, 41- and 52-Across) — theme answers are two-word phrases where both words can precede "CARD" in a common phrase:

Theme answers:
  • CREDIT REPORT (20A: Equifax offering)
  • HOLE PUNCH (24A: Three-ring binder user's gadget)
  • NAME CALLING (30A: Some childish insults)
  • TRADING POST (41A: Place to deal in fur, once)
  • HIGH SCORE (52A: Arcade achievement)

Word of the Day: TOPE (29A: Bend an elbow) —
verb
archaicliterary
  1. drink alcohol to excess, especially on a regular basis. (wikipedia)
• • •

So TOPE is "archaic literary"? But, but, but crosswords made me think it was "contemporary normal." Next you'll be telling me no one says AGAPE or AGAZE or AREEL or any of the classic A-words any more. If that's the so-called Real World, you can have it. I'll TOPE til I'm AREEL, thanks very much.

[A-DRINKIN' = valid]

PAIRS OF CARDS—I feel like we need to have a talk about Revealer Aptness (RA). I keep saying this phrase out loud—PAIRS OF CARDS—and it keeps not sounding like a phrase. It's not a poker phrase. Not a stand-alone phrase, anyway. Its colloquial value is null. This is hugely disappointing, as the theme answers themselves are *tight*, which they almost neh-ehhhhhhver are in this type of puzzle (the Both-Words-Can-Precede (BWCP) type). Most BWCP puzzles leave you with at least a few improbable linkings. Two words that don't really make a Phrase, but that can, in the right (dim) light, pass for a phrase. But this set of themers doesn't have that problem at all. They are legit. All of 'em, legit. Not a wobbler in the bunch. But then comes the big finale, the big reveal, the coup de grace etc., and it's ... PAIRS OF CARDS? Again, I keep saying it. I've said it twenty times now. It does describe what the theme is, but as a revealer phrase, it's simply not worthy of this fine theme concept. It is undeniably true, on a literal level, that PAIRS OF CARDS are [Some poker holdings]. A lawyer could argue that successfully. But you don't want to have to lawyer your revealer. Your revealer should, like a fool, Represent Itself … or better yet, smartly settle out of court because its case is so ****ing good. I'm not so much mad at this puzzle as I am SAD AT this puzzle. PAIRS OF CARDS sends the whole house of cards falling to the ICE-FREE floor. [Why say the floor is ICE FREE, you ask? What's that got to do with anything? Well, along with PAIRS OF CARDS, ICE FREE was the only other answer in the grid where I just shook my head and SAID "NO."]


We've got some textbook Scrabble-****ing going on with the "J" and "X"—high-value Scrabble tiles shoved into little corners in a way that makes for harmful surrounding fill—but TOPE and UNPEGS aren't terrible prices to pay. Grid gives us lots of vivid 6s and 7s, which are crucial to maintaining a lively themed grid (that is, crucial to having liveliness be a feature that extends beyond the theme itself). I sat IN IDLE for a while before I realized I was really sitting IN A RUT (apt). I  whiffed on my first pass through the whole NW quadrant, largely because I somehow completely missed the Manilow clue (2D: Hangout in a Barry Manilow hit). 7-letter gimme and my eyes drove right past it. Sorry, Barry. PANNED 8A: Gave the thumbs-down before I SAID "NO" to it. Finished in the TOILET. [Yes, I think I'll stop right there]
    Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

    [Follow Rex Parker on Facebook and Twitter]

    102 comments:

    George Barany 12:09 AM  

    It's such a pleasure seeing this puzzle, by my young friends @Alex Vratsanos and @Sam Ezersky, finally make it in print. I've forgotten how long ago I saw earlier drafts of this, including the originally conceived reveal: HOUSE_OF_CARDS. Anyhow, more of the backstory is covered in the "constructor comments" at xwordinfo.com; have fun checking them out.

    @Alex and @Sam are also honored by @Hayley Gold, who gives today's puzzle the acrossanddown.net webcomic treatment. There's an Earth Day tie-in, but I'll let interested @Rex-ites discover the remaining charms on their own.

    Whirred Whacks 12:09 AM  

    Fun, zippy puzzle (though I agree Rex about the confused nature of the reveal).

    I enjoyed Hayley Gold's "Earth Day" take on today's puzzle.

    My favorite comment though for this year's Earth Day celebration comes from our good buddy Bill NYE (oft-used NYT crossword answer) who just tweeted out (without a trace of irony):

    "Heading down to DC to catch an #EarthDay flight on Air Force One tomorrow with the President. We're going to #ActOnClimate."

    This Presidential Earth Day flight to the Everglades will burn 9,000 gallons of jet fuel and produce 95 tons of CO2. Well, I guess you gotta burn CO2 to save CO2!

    That deserves a double helping of 38 down: HEH-HEH.

    Steve J 12:15 AM  

    Huge yawn at the revealer. My PAIRS OF CARDS were covered in green paint. I gave a huge EYE ROLL when I saw that that was the revealer.

    The medium-length fill helps save the puzzle from being a complete snoozefest. EYEROLL, VIP ROOM, BIG PAPI, CADDY and SMASHUP were all quite nice. Nice clue for 66A, too. I didn't expect that answer at all.

    wreck 12:31 AM  

    I agree with the criticism of the revealer, but haven't come up with anything better yet. I would hate to throw out the baby with the bathwater. It was a quick, but otherwise decent puzzle.

    jae 12:34 AM  

    Easy for me.  No erasures and no WOEs, just a solid Wed. with some nice long downs.  Liked it, although Rex has good point about the revealer.

    RAD2626 12:46 AM  

    The slight oddness of the revealer did nothing to diminish my enjoyment of a terrific puzzle. As Rex points out, the theme answers are all better than acceptable; they hang together very well. Not a joker in the deck. Lots of snappy fill: BIG PAPI, VIP ROOM, CADDY, MENTHOL. Fine Wednesday offering.

    Anonymous 1:08 AM  

    Rex says ice free is weird. Seems to me that the phrase is usually used in the sense that if a river is "ice free" then it is navigable. Isn't that OK?

    GGF

    Thomaso808 1:24 AM  

    I did not get the theme until I saw the revealer, so no complaints about the revealer because it was an immediate and profound aha.

    I had the T and I in Toilet, so my first attempt was TrIfle bowl. Boy was I wrong.

    For 14A I confidently ran through the Greek alphabet and blew right past PHI and kept going to cHI. I spent ten minutes trying to find my error but was so convinced that cHI was right that I convinced myself that AcP had to be a thing. Wow, a Tues and Wed DNF in a row. GAH!



    chefwen 1:58 AM  

    Two write overs, panned before SAID NO at 8A and Garland before DOROTHY at 43D. Easily fixable when I saw the error of my ways?

    UNPEGS was a ??? That I just accepted. O.K. Puzzle, but I won't be writing home about it?

    Who is judge Amy?

    jae 3:08 AM  

    @chefwen - Judging Amy was a CBS series from '99 to '05 most notable IMHO for featuring Tyne Daly as Amy's mom.

    chefwen 3:14 AM  

    @ jae -I love Tyne Daly, can't believe I missed that one.

    Charles Flaster 4:24 AM  

    Liked puzzle and its reveal.
    Other PAIRS OF CARDS:
    Carlin and Black
    Benny and Burns
    Hope and Crosby
    Carson and Paar
    Musial and Gibson
    Dawkins and Pitino

    Really enjoyed cluing for EYEROLL and CPA.
    OSH will become new crosswordEASE.
    Thanks AV and SE.

    Anonymous 5:20 AM  

    ICE FREE ports were always vitally important to the old USSR. The Baltic States in particular. To the best of my knowledge they were ICE FREE year round.

    And then there's the Great Lakes and winter/spring navigation. I'm sure many people living in that vast area of the U.S. and Canada can fill in the rest of the details.

    -MAS

    Casco Kid 6:30 AM  

    Easy but unsolvable. I spent Rex's 4 minutes staring at _IN/_OONY and decided on LOONY/LIN . MOONY/MIN was second choice. Neither pair is responsive to the cluing. [Deg, division] ? What's that?

    Otherwise eNO/JeANNE. Oh well. Everyday is like this since ACPT.

    Casco Kid 6:53 AM  

    Deg. division is a MIN because one angular degree is 60 minutes. I was thinking degrees Fahrenheit, or the academic degree. MOONY/LOONY remain ambiguously clued. Remember this for your next Schrodinger.

    Loren Muse Smith 6:54 AM  

    I cannot turn off the part of my brain that constantly plays around with language, so I appreciate a theme like today’s that helps me reign in all the random thoughts and focus the musings. Hmm. GREEN BUSINESS? BANK DRAFT? CHRISTMAS GIFT? I’ll be occupied for hours.

    Before I actively started participating here, I would have solved this puzzle and moved on. I wouldn’t have noticed that two pairs of themers were stacked. Nice! And how ‘bout CHANEL/TOILET and DO IT NOW/ SAID NO?!

    I wouldn’t have gotten to know @joho off blog and know that she’s always good for a SMART COMMENT!

    I wouldn’t have said to myself, when PAIRS OF CARDS fell, “Hoo boy. Buckle your seatbelts, folks.”

    I wouldn’t have known what green paint was. I wouldn’t have known that Brian ENO was such a busy guy. Seriously. I couldn’t of so effortlessly parsed SANDP.

    And, this being my only foray into any blogosphere, I wouldn’t have understood what a troll was. Some, hiding behind their anonymity, can be so nasty…. I just don’t understand it.

    And others, appalled by some apparent apostrophe apocalypse, who’s soul purpose appears to be simply to embarrass people, are nasty in a whole nother way.

    “Don’t feed the trolls” is the advice you always read. Well heck. I guess I’m just grumpy this morning.

    Alex, Sam – I agree with Rex that the themers are all great. As another guy (whose become a friend off blog) says, “Liked it.”

    GILL I. 7:08 AM  

    Hi @Loren. Come here and visit. I make a mean Manhattan.....
    Oh boy.....@Rex is spot on in my opinion. I was LOVING this puzzle until I got to PAIRS OF CARDS....It was like listening to the Three TENORS sing "My Way' only to have Placido sing, at the very end, "I Did it Your Way."
    TOPE? I really don't understand that one.
    Still, there was much to ooh and AHA about today. Such a well thought out theme and a bit of an inelegant ending...

    Mohair Sam 7:36 AM  

    Excellent and fun Wednesday puzzle. I have no idea what anyone's problem is with the revealer. I mean I have an idea what y'all think is wrong, but y'all are full of it.

    As for other complaints from Rex and here: ICEFREE is a common (and important) term to anyone living within 50 miles of the Great Lakes or any northern waterways.

    The UNPEGgin and pegging of currency (and other) prices is in the financial news constantly.

    Wanted TOkE for TOPE. While in college I was involved in a Boggle game with Mom, Dad, an Aunt, and an Uncle. I used "toke" and wanted my points. "That's not a word," Said Mom, "use it in a sentence." Uh-oh.

    Anonymous 7:52 AM  

    I checked my bible. The book after Song of Solomon is Ruth.

    OldCarFudd 7:57 AM  

    In WWII, the US supplied the USSR with weapons by ship, going over the top of Scandinavia to the ICE-FREE port of Murmansk. With the Germans controlling the entrance to the Baltic, it was the only navigable route available.

    chefbea 8:04 AM  

    Not a Dee-lish puzzle. Didn't get that all words were a kind of card.

    Kept trying to figure what kind of bowl I have in my kitchen that would fit...Oh I had the wrong room.

    Anonymous 8:07 AM  

    It is clear that Loren is repeatedly using incorrect words to bait the grammar nazi. The best revenge is...revenge?
    Maybe the poor nazi has the same disease you do, Loren--he or she can't turn off the part of the brain that loves language.

    Aketi 8:14 AM  

    @lms
    My sincere apology if my playing around with apostrophes yesterday made you grumpy. I just couldn't resist the temptation to JK the grammar nazi(s).

    I am still foiled by the clues with AND in the middle and only got S AND P from the crosses. When I read your post I first saw SAND P and then finally understood that it was S AND P.

    Z 8:20 AM  

    "Black Jack deal or a hint..." would give us the much better PAIR OF CARDS, if it weren't for that whole symmetry thing.

    Yes, when the Great Lakes are ICE FREE is a matter of economic interest to both the US and Canada.

    I went from Stooges (too long) to amigos to TENORS. You can decide what that says about me.

    A fine Wednesday.

    Anonymous 8:27 AM  

    In the RSV, Isaiah follows, Ruth follows judges.

    Aketi 8:27 AM  

    @anonymous 8:07 am
    Loren has always seems to be kind to others on this blog and she is always amusing.

    In Martial Arts, part of your progression is not merely mastering the physical skills, but also mastering the skill of helping lower belts to progress, A black belt who shames a lower belt who is having trouble with some of the skills would not be considered worthy of her or his black belt,

    Roo Monster 8:28 AM  

    Hey All !
    Argh! Thought I had a writeover-free, completely correct, no Goog puz, but when I checked, had lOONY/lIN, not MOONY/MIN! =:O. :-(

    Otherwise, enjoyable puz. Easy for a WedsPuz. Kind of an odd block placement (Upper and symmetric threes). Just sayin. Nice way to fit in 6 themers.

    Agree on the fun clue for TOILET. A K and Q away from a pangram.


    YUM
    RooMonster
    DarrinV

    pmdm 8:39 AM  

    Anonymous 7:52: You are both correct and incorrect to complain about the clue. The Catholic, Protestant and Jewish versions of the Bible (Old Testament to Christians) have different sequences among them. In your version, you are correct. In the Protestant version, you are incorrect.

    Too many of the clues these days have this type of problem. The clue to today's reveler is poor. Is there a way to get out of that? A boxing card consists of a a sequence of boxing matches. So if by pairs of cards you are reference of four sets of boxing matches paired up, the phrase makes perfect sense. But how would you clue that? I can't think of a clue that isn't ugly.

    AliasZ 8:44 AM  


    I prefer four, max. five long theme entries in a 15x15. Six of them tend to overburden the grid. But even with that, this one by Alex and Sam was very clean, save a few AAS, OSH kosh b'gosh, some ROLO, RAZR, IPOD NANO brand names, SANDPiper, STIPEnd, and ONO. I just wish ONO would go on a long hiatus and forget to return. MOONY belongs to the Unification Church of Sun Myung Moon, not in the NYT puzzle. I'm only half kidding.

    The theme itself was excellent as far as both-words-can-be-followed-by-X themes go. I didn't mind the revealer much because if for nothing else, it precisely described what was expected. However it could have been wrapped in a bit more mystery. Give us a little credit Will, we would have figured it out with "house of cards" or "card tricks" or "playing cards". Any of these would have been more in-the-language phrases than the bland PAIRS OF CARDS. We have a few pairs of brains among us.

    What I seriously disliked was that HOLE CARD and HIGH CARD related directly to poker, while none of the others did. That should have been avoided.

    I like my bourbon ICE FREE, my buttered roll without an EYE ROLL, and the OLD DAYS when a women were ladies, and when they SAID NO, they meant maybe.

    No three TENORS today. Let's listen instead to a CARD game: Jeu de cartes, Third Deal, by Igor Stravinsky. DO IT NOW! You may recognize snippets of another composer's melody quoted briefly from about 3:10 on. Great fun.

    Have a fun Wednesday.

    Z 8:48 AM  

    A little knowledge causes some (well, me at least) to be amused at the notion that there is a bible. I am not aware of any version, though, where Ruth follows Solomon.

    If @lms uses "who's" when she means "whose" in a sentence about not rudely correcting people's apostrophe use one (well, me at least) might conclude that she is having a little fun. She is, after all, a serial self-correcter. I'll leave it to others to ponder reign/rein/rain.

    MOONY v. lOONY - I think of the first as a loss of reason due to infatuation, the second as the loss of reason due to bad political reasoning, so I never considered the L for "Lost in reverie."

    jberg 8:54 AM  

    I think a lot of commenters don't read the comments, and so didn't notice from @George Barany that the original revealer had been HOUSE OF CARDS; a better phrase, but a less accurate revealer. I think I'd have preferred it, but I can see the argument for the choice that was made.

    Showing my ignorance of the ordering of the Bible, I put in pSAlms from the S in Aesop, and confirmed it with IN A RUT (which is a delayed malapop, since I'd tried it before IN A JAM a few days ago). That held me up for a bit.

    I got UNPEGS right away, but I've never heard it say of prices, only of currencies. It's what Greece wishes it could do now.

    Somehow I'd never known J.K. Rowling's first name. I think I'm going to try to forget it.

    dk 9:01 AM  

    🌕🌕🌕 (3 mOOOns)

    House of Cards as a reveal would have been…. like the OLDDAYS. You know the sunny slope of memory.

    My inner 12 year old chortled over 66a. And my inner 16 year old thought "fights for the user" would have been a better clue for 60a. Lastly ROZ is my favorite character from Monsters Inc. Cannot recall seeing the clued TV show.

    All these are my problems along with staring at 3d for 3 minutes wondering: What kind of room would celebs been in? A top room? Then rho became PHI and the sun shone again.

    Had unregs for 61a till some little gray cell fired and BIGPAPI revealed itself.

    All told a fun morning that cleared my Wednesday bar. As I have often opined this is my favorite day as the challenge of the rest of the week is now before me. I am areel

    TTFN

    joho 9:05 AM  

    @Loren, loved that you had the guts to bring up subjects that none of us really want to or really should (Don't feed the trolls!) discuss. I can't speak for anybody else, but I found your frustration totally understandable and even poignant. I thought your using "soul purpose" was brilliant! And isn't that a sad thought if true.

    I loved the theme today but have to agree with those, including @Rex, who were let down by the reveal. However I think the theme answers more than make up for that.

    Anybody else have CREDITRating before CREDITREPORT? I did before I got the theme.

    Oh, and I've never heard of a HOLE card (doesn't mean it doesn't exist :)

    I give this one by Alex and Sam a HIGHSCORE ... thanks, guys!



    NCA President 9:06 AM  

    Anon 7:52am: Ruth comes after Judges. Not sure which Bible you are looking at.

    So I read the constructor comments at xword and see that PAIRSOFCARDS was a WS directed thing, or at least WS guided the constructors away from their original houseOFCARDS to something else which turned out to be PAIRSOFCARDS. There was also some further fixing here and there which did, IMO, pay off.

    But with all the fixing, TOPE managed to stay. TOPE. Uh, nope. In a Friday/Saturday puzzle, maybe. But here in this collection of words, TOPE is definitely the outlier by several miles. I'm not saying it sucked, I'm saying that in all the fixing that was going on, that one might have been fixed too.

    Otherwise, nice puzzle.

    Suzy 9:07 AM  

    Very fun, well-constructed puzzle-- thank you! Too much sniping by bloggers!

    joho 9:08 AM  

    "Or really shouldn't"

    Lyle Lovett 9:13 AM  

    One of my albums is called Joshua Judges Ruth. That's the only way I remember the order of those, and only those, books (in some bibles, it seems).

    Anonymous 9:18 AM  

    Hebrew bible: Isaiah is followed by Jeremiah, Song of Solomon is followed by Ruth, which is followed by Lamentation.

    grammar nazi 9:19 AM  

    LMS: "couldn't of?" I guess that was on purpose, too? Keep baiting, I'll bite.

    NCA President 9:26 AM  

    Anon 9:18am: Please excuse my Christian-centric POV...I thought all Bibles looked like the one(s) I have on my shelf. I should have known better. FWIW, Xtians can barely agree on what Song of Solomon is actually called.

    RnRGhost57 9:31 AM  

    @Lyle Lovett: LOL

    A TOPEr who drinks his scotch neat (i.e. straight out of the bottle) 9:41 AM  

    @MAS etal - Ice free doesn't equate to "not impenetrable due to ice". Most winters the Great Lakes are navigable, though rarely to never ice free.

    Hartley70 9:41 AM  

    Now that @Loren has brought it up, in the last few days I've noticed that I might be the only reader who has no idea what "Green Paint" means. I think of it as the color of institution walls in the 50's and 60's, so it can't be a compliment.

    I thought the puzzle was a good mid-week entry, but I might have done a switch with yesterday. I liked the theme and had no issue with the reveal, but with the exception of JOANNE and TOPE, I found the answers very straight forward. And not a Natick to be found!

    Nancy 9:47 AM  

    Today I needed the revealer to help me finish, since I was being driven crazy by all the product names. Thanks, @Casco, for explaining MIN to me. I got it, but I didn't "get" it, if you see what I mean. I had Garland before DOROTHY, then thought of DOROTHY, checked some of the crosses and corrected immediately. And I had Stalk before SPEAR -- not the first time I've made that mistake, if memory serves. I'm headed out early today: it's beautiful now in NYC, but they're predicting Tstorms and maybe even hail (!) for the afternoon. Bye.

    Bob Kerfuffle 9:51 AM  

    Revealer didn't bother me, but had grid revision allowed it, would A PAIR OF CARDS been better? (With appropriate revision of the clue also, of course.)

    Good Wednesday to me; kept me guessing about the theme.

    Crag 9:55 AM  

    I love that Loren uses the tmesis “nother” — a word that is so often (always?) shunned by dictionaries.

    I also enjoyed the use of the idea of “deductive reasoning” in the clue for 25d. An idea misused by that master of inductive reasoning, Sherlock Holmes and his author.

    44 down, “icefree” reminded me that the Northwest Passage had been searched for in vain over the centuries by Henry Hudson and other explorers. Now, thanks to global warming, and a correspondent freedom from ice, somebody finally managed in 2007 to slip a boat through Canada from sea to shining sea. “Asparagus unit” didn’t make me hungy, but it made me laugh.

    Great puzzle today, when the clues finally broke open for me, like shattering a block of ice, which is fun. DNF, tho, not quite.

    Roo Monster 9:59 AM  

    Story time... (missing @'mericans stories)

    I awoke on the COT, as the GAG I pulled on my wife CAME back on me. Jeez, a little hair SINGE, and she had an EPIC fit. Decided to hide my RAZR so I wouldn't YELP if she were to try to SPEAR my BIG PAPI. HEH.

    I felt as though I was IN A RUT. I told my wife that, and she did her EYEROLL at me. After the NAME CALLING (she was still sore from the failed GAG), she said, "Why don't you go out?" Seeing she had an ICE FREE whiskey, I decided to DO IT NOW.

    Longing for the OLD DAYS, I jumped in the CADDY and made my way to THE COPA. Ordered a beer, lit up a MENTHOL, then happened to glance at the VIP ROOM. Saw STIPE, ROZ, JOANNE, and AMY, but not ONO. Guess she SAID NO to the party scene. Saw a poker game going on, so joined in. My ENDER was the fact I had three PAIRS OF CARDS! Maybe I thought it was ACEY deucey! A man named ISAIAH said I needed to go, or get a JUT WAX. Not sure what that was, but sounded unpleasant.

    I didn't want to get into a SMASH UP on the way home, so I stopped drinking. Hit the HEAD, or TOILET as it's commonly known, put in my earbuds from the IPOD NANO, and headed home, hoping my wife wasn't still POCO loco!

    RooMonster

    Z 10:07 AM  

    @NCA Prez - I'm always skeptical of assertions without reference. Unfortunately, the sentence, "The Jewish textual tradition never finalized the order of the books in Ketuvim," in the Wikipedia article on the "Jewish Bible" also comes without support. I'm sure someone here can better illuminate us poor gentiles.

    @Hartley70 - Green Paint explained far better than I could.

    @A TOPEr who drinks his scotch neat (i.e. straight out of the bottle) - There is a website that posts an annual list of where freighters "lay up" for the winter when the lakes become unnavigable due to ice. The unusually cold last two winters (counter-intuitive results of global climate change) have led to later starts to shipping season.

    Steve J 10:08 AM  

    @Hartley70: From when Rex first used the phrase: "... 'GREEN PAINT answer,' which, in crossword-constructor-speak, is an answer made up of weak adj./noun pairing. TALL WOMAN, for instance, is not a good puzzle answer. It's certainly a phrase one might say, but it doesn't have enough coherence, conceptually, to be a good crossword answer." That day's puzzle actually had BEIGE PAINT as an answer, which makes me laugh.

    @Bob Kerfuffle: Personally, A PAIR OF CARDS wouldn't have been better. It's closer to a phrase you may actually hear, but it's still not really a poker term. In poker, you're holding one pair/a pair or two pair.

    Ludyjynn 10:10 AM  

    Misspelled STIPE initially as 'Steip', which led to 'Esther' momentarily v. ISAIAH until the NRA shot that down. Write over city!

    Lots of NAMECALLING in this puzzle which I liked, but which may have driven others to TOPE.

    @LMS, your "soul purpose" line cracked me up.

    @Thomas, hand up for an irritating DNF w/ 'Chi' instead of PHI. Since I refuse to get a so-called smart phone, do not have any familiarity w/ 99 cent APPs. Makes me want to YELP.

    You must listen to the late Hawaiian singer, Iz (Isrel Kamakawio'ole) sing "Over the Rainbow". It's all over YouTube. Enjoy!

    Thanks, AV, SE and WS.

    Z 10:18 AM  

    For @Ludyjynn*

    *This is post 4, but it shouldn't count.

    chefbea 10:22 AM  

    @RooMonster...Great story!!!

    Doug Garr 10:30 AM  

    This was a stupid puzzle theme-wise. Really ridiculous. I play serious poker, and none of the theme answers has anything to do with poker (except for the word calling).

    Ludyjynn 10:32 AM  

    Thanks for the direct Iz link, @Z. Forgot to mention that his version of "Over the Rainbow" was used in the Drew Barrymore/Adam Sandler film, "Fifty First Dates". I got turned on to his music while visiting Hawaii. Took a tour on Maui w/ a wonderful guide who played a CD of Hawaiian tunes as we traveled. At the end of the day, he handed each of us a copy of the CD as an Aloha gift. Lovely gesture and I have practically worn out the disc re-playing it in the car ever since!

    Anonymous 10:39 AM  

    Doug @10:30, I don't think you understand crossword puzzles.

    Karin 10:41 AM  

    What's a hole card?

    Anonymous 10:47 AM  

    Do you people have no pride? Google "hole card." It's easy. And fun!

    Anonymous 10:47 AM  

    I loved Tyne Daly too, until she made anti-Semitic comments on "The Talk"!

    Joseph Michael 10:48 AM  

    Great puzzle. Solid theme and lots of good fill. Congratulations, guys.

    Unfortunately, like @Thomas808, I thought that you could buy an ACP for 99 cents. Guess I need to move from CHI to PHI.

    Hartley70 10:51 AM  

    Thanks @Z and @SteveJ. I'm glad I asked. Never in a million years would I have figured that out on my own!

    Anonymous 10:52 AM  

    @Karin - In many poker games, each player is dealt one or more cards face down so only they can see them, with others dealt face up. The card(s) dealt face down are the hole card(s).

    pfb 11:04 AM  

    Completed the puzzle and even with the reveal was not sure what it was. I finally wised up. Overall, a nice effort with a fewer groaners sprinkled in.

    Patrick Swayze 11:14 AM  

    Best unused themer of the day: FLASHDANCE!

    mathguy 11:19 AM  

    @Hartley 70. Thanks for the link explaining "green paint." @Steve J uses it from time to time and I sort of knew what it meant from context. Yesterday's Science Times had an article about the color green. Most of it was over my head, but there seemed to be some good stuff in it.

    Nice Wednesday, but a little lacking in crunch.

    Lewis 11:21 AM  

    Three days of insightful, nonjudgmental reviews from OFL coinciding with the disappearance of Rex Porker -- COINCIDENCE????

    @ludyjynn -- Got turned on to Brother Iz in Hawaii as well. It is a shame he left us at such a young age.

    I had PSALMS before ISAIAH, which held up my NE, and liked EYEROLL and VIPROOM. I thought about the cross-wordiness of ICEFREE and justified it by thinking of people talking about the streets on a very cold day, and it seemed okay.

    I like TOILET and HEAD so close together, and the puzzle felt zippy.

    Chip Hilton 11:25 AM  

    What @Suzy said at 9:07.

    Jessica Beals 12:01 PM  

    Hey @ Patrick @ 11:14: Nice theme answer, but I think you may have wandered into the wrong movie...

    RAD2626 12:09 PM  

    Jumped at virtually every misdirection: chi, stalk, Garland and credit rating. All fell with crosses. Gave me way more AHA moments than usual. Probably why I liked the puzzle so much.

    @Z. Great idea re blackjack clue. Would have totally solved the problem.

    old timer 12:22 PM  

    Hands up for writing "Garland" instead of DOROTHY, "stalk" before SPEAR, and totally forgetting that the MLB team could be PHI (I had Chi). Wanted "Roy" or "Ron" at 35A, until I remembered RAZR is a Thing.

    Catholics add Wisdom and Sirach after the Song of Solomon and before Isaiah. Didn't matter, I took that one on faith it was right in some version of the Bible.'

    Since PAIRSOFCARDS was the last themer I got, it wasn't much help in solving the others. Butit was fun to read Rex's review and realize that both parts of 5 answers can be followed by CARD. That's pretty awesome.

    Thomaso808 12:41 PM  

    @LMS I like your list of extra double themers. I was thinking GREENPAINT almost makes it, but paint card is not quite a thing.

    @ludyjynn the sad thing is I was actually solving on my iPad with an APP! Doh!

    And yes, I have several CDs from Israel Kamakawiwo'ole and his original band, the Makaha Sons of Ni'ihau. I am very happy you had a chance to experience his music while visiting and were able to take that piece of Hawaii home with you. @Lewis, @Z, @ludyjynn, and everyone else, the best way to refer to him is "Bruddah Iz". Residents in Hawaii are often amused by visitors trying to use the local colloquialisms, but I think in this case everyone is welcome to say "Bruddah". Kay den, nuff sed.

    mac 12:48 PM  

    OK puzzle, with the "panned" write-over as well. FYI, constructors, there's a town in Holland called OSS, known for its Unox sausage company.

    I needed several crosses to get "pairs" at 56A. Chanel was a surprising bit of elegance in that area, especially next to Big Papi, heh!

    Lewis 12:57 PM  

    Factoid: Asparagus is one of three vegetables common in North American cuisine that comes from a perennial plant (along with artichokes and rhubarb), and the SPEARs grow at a rate of six inches or more each day.

    Quotoid: "My folks CAME to U.S. as immigrants, aliens, and became citizens. I was born in Boston, a citizen, went to Hollywood and became an alien." -- Leonard Nimoy

    Carola 12:59 PM  

    Wow, lots o' theme! And...continuing in my dim-bulb mode this week, I needed the reveal as worded to spell things out for me: "Oh, PAIRS OF kinds of CARDS!" Seeing "poker" in the clue had made me fear that knowledge of poker arcana would be needed to understand the theme, and I couldn't get any closer than "ace in the HOLE" (if that's even a poker thing.).

    Anyway, I thought this was a superb example of the BWCP type - solid two-word phrases but (for me) so nicely concealing how they were all related.

    @Roo Monster - Thanks for the laugh!

    Anonymous 2:04 PM  

    House of Cards would have been a much better revealer...simply clued to the Kevin Spacey series.
    NY Times solvers aren't stupid, they would have connected the dots.
    Pairs of Cards is pedestrian and awkward.

    Laurence Hunt 2:25 PM  

    I feel compelled to make a couple of comments on today's puzzle. I would have gone with Orson Scott Card's youth scifi novel, "Ender's Game," for the "ender" clue. This was recently a movie with Harrison Ford and Ben Kingsley --- though Mr. Kingsley greatly outperformed the deconditioned Mr. Ford in this one. Given that the film is recent, and the book a top seller, it would have been a better place to go for that clue.

    The other point is "ice free." While the topic was well-discussed today in regard to the necessity of ice-free ports in winter, I live in a non-port northern city, where "ice-free" means NON-NAVIGABLE in winter. We rely on the ice roads to reach otherwise non-navigable destinations through the cold winter months. So where I come from, "ice-packed," "well-iced" or "solidly-iced" would mean navigable in winter.

    Leapfinger 2:25 PM  

    Dang @lms, how can you be funny and smart and perceptive on a daley basis? But let's have that be CHANEL TOILET water, okely-dokely?

    Did any of y'all hear about the bouncing baby boy (why are babies supposed to bounce?) who was born in the El Al airport? The mohel performed a HUB-Bris.

    Was wondering whether R.E.M., besides having Mr. STIPE, also had a Mr. Stamen, a Mr. Pistil or a Mr. Petiole. I'm not expecting an Anther. (So sorry, I just had too many undergrad botany courses; hard to leave that stuff behind.)

    So glad they never got around to producing WoMENTHOL cigarettes, but now, with ACAI, I must go.

    ps to @Alias: I didn't know Rene deCartes was Jeu-ish...maybe?

    Anonymous 3:12 PM  

    Another revealer option: how to score points in cribbage play...'pairing cards'.

    Honeysmom 4:06 PM  

    What the heck is SANDP for 500 Managers for short (55D)? Excuse my ignorance, but hope one of you crossword geniuses can tell me.

    Bob Kerfuffle 4:20 PM  

    @Honeysmom -

    Maybe I can get in an answer before any of the geniuses see your question:

    "The S&P 500, or the Standard & Poor's 500, is an American stock market index based on the market capitalizations of 500 large companies having common stock listed on the NYSE or NASDAQ."

    Ludyjynn 4:37 PM  

    @Jessica Beals, sorry to nitpick, but my name is Jennifer Beals and I played Alex in "Flashdance". Jessica Biel, another lovely actress, is married to Justin Timberlake, BTW.

    Three and out!

    Michael Nouri 5:21 PM  

    @ludyjynn - You beat me too it.

    Anonymous 5:43 PM  

    Beals, Biel, Jessica, Jennifer, Efron, Braff. Meh.

    Z 5:50 PM  

    Oh, to be a headline writer.

    Rand Paul 5:56 PM  

    Oh, to be a douche-bag pretend libertarian.

    Ian Newbould 7:20 PM  

    Rex, 4 minutes to solve it. My question has to do with your blog review. How long did this one take, and how long does it normally take? I thought today's blog was really good btw. Just a query - do you spend much time on them or does the wit and wisdom just roll out and on?

    +wordphan 2:32 AM  

    I guess "S and P" is some kind of business thing? Still in the dark here. I thank you for guiding me in the right direction, but WHAT IS "SANDP"?!

    Setting a Poor Standard 6:30 AM  

    SANDP = S&P = Standard & Poor's --

    Standard & Poor's
    Financial services company --


    Standard & Poor's Financial Services LLC is an American financial services company. It is a division of McGraw Hill Financial that publishes financial research and analysis on stocks and bonds. Wikipedia

    Get Used to It 6:41 AM  

    Welcome, everyone, to the wonderful world of crosswords, where brand names and rapper names rule because they provide useful letters where ampersands are spelled AND as in SANDP, BANDB, RANDR, but AND may be represented in a rebus by &, as in GR&ST&, if the constructor is GRANDSTANDING; where BTEN and UTWO may appear as you have never seen them before; where the US Marine Corps has been abbreviated USM; where the Keystone State may be known as PENNA or PENNSY, but never PA; Oregon may be ORE or OREG but never OR; where words may arbitrarily appear backwards, upside down, or fractured by stray letters coming from the other direction; etc., et alia, et alii, et the whole thing. Get used to it.

    Burma Shave 8:45 AM  

    HOLEPUNCH

    In the OLDDAYS my date DOROTHY never SAIDNO,
    she’d say, “Let’s DOITNOW, ‘cause that’s how EYEROLL.”

    --- ELMO MOONY
    (true story)

    rondo 9:15 AM  

    Kinda agree with OFL re: revealer, it just fell flat. The rest was more or less OK. Slow in the NW due to cHI before PHI. Otherwise a quick fill.

    @Spacey is bound to love SANDP. I suspect there will not be a HIGHSCORE for this puz?

    POCO could have been clued as the country-rock band, I suppose. On a Saturday. I loved that band.

    The NRA favors gun control. Please use both hands.

    BIGPAPI used to play for my Twins. Manager Kelly traded him because he wouldn’t hit to the opposite field. Rest is history.

    This puz was neither EPIC nor a SMASHUP. Lotsa 3s, so less than a thrill, but no NAMECALLING from me.

    4159 - too much, or too little

    spacecraft 11:24 AM  

    Arrgh! But since my rants fall on deaf ears, we move on. I suspected, when the themers started landing, that we had ourselves a BWCP, as OFL puts it. Tried to guess what it was, but failed until I got to the revealer. (Funny, my auto-spellchecker red-lines "revealer" every time. I'll threaten to use "reveal" as a noun!) As soon as I saw CARDS and went back over them, I Gibbs-slapped myself. Of course, you idiot! (Apparently, you can hyphenate anything. "Gibbs-slapped" went through UNPEGged.

    Speaking of, UNPEG and GAG reels seem to be terms known only within their respective industries, leaving us outsiders to scratch our heads. No matter; they went in on crosses.

    I agree that ICEFREE and PAIRSOFCARDS aren't very much in the language; indeed, HOUSEOFCARDS, if pulled off, would have been WAY better. Probably best would be simply CARDS. It's amazing how many times that word is employed in two-word phrases in our language. Must be a testament to the times we live in. SIMCARDS, anyone?

    I mostly liked this, with one glaring exception; guess. One other quibble: OSH is a real outlier for any day, let alone (MikeMikeMikeMikeMike!) hump day. That too was a simple cross-fill. I loves me some ROLOs. One look at my svelte figure (no, I am NOT in my ninth month, thank you!) will confirm that. SANDP: definitely not Standard, but surely Poor! Heavy on the tech side--IPOD NANO, Equifax, RAZR, YELP--but otherwise nice. C-. Woulda been a B- but for 55d.

    ecanarensis 12:02 PM  

    From long-delayed syndic land: I'm with @Thomas & others, I didn't (really) finish because I couldn't figure out what an ACP was, even though at 99 cents it's a steal. Got stuck thinking of airport codes, for some reason, so couldn't let go of CHI, since there ain't no PHI destination. But I don't care & I won't quibble, because otherwise this was the fastest, easiest solve I've ever had. And to see OFL label it as "Medium" will have me dancing all day, since I literally flipped the paper to make sure it really was Wednesday....I figured it had to be a Monday.

    Thought the PAIRS OF CARDS reveal stunk, & read the theme answers multiple times to try & fit them into the reveal --& failed. But I'm not a poker player so I just figgered I don't know the lingo.

    But it don't matter, 'cause I zipped thru & am feelin' right eddicated 'n' smartified.

    ecanarensis 12:16 PM  

    @grammar nazi;

    "Couldn't of" is one of a family of idiocy that's becoming ever more rampant these days, along with its bastard siblings "shouldn't of," "wouldn't of," and so forth. Evidently people have decided to write exactly as they hear, instead of attempting to put down words that mean something. I've seen it many times in best-selling print books, which theoretically have editors who should know better. I find it less surprising in self-published ebooks.

    It drives me almost crazier than the utterly moronic and illogical "I could care less," which has been infecting print and speech for way too long now.

    longbeachlee 1:20 PM  

    @Rex: Time-mid 4s? What does that mean?

    Not Rex 1:24 PM  

    @longbeachlee - It means Rex solved the puzzle in a time of somewhere between 4 and 5 minutes. Nothing unusual for him and other speed solvers.

    Gram Marian 2:19 PM  

    @ecanarensis - I wish it was a mute point but its not. Their having problems over they're that there not even aware of. Proper english has it's place, but I could care less. Its been decimated but not by you and I..... or by you and myself.

    Anonymous 2:20 PM  

    I finished this one and rate it Easy. L liked it, have no complaints, and think the rest of you are loco. So there!
    Thank you Alex & Sam for a delightful companion with my morning coffee.

    As far as Mr. Rex is concerned: Discount 50% of what he comments and consider the other 50% gibberish. He's young and hasn't faced many of the vagaries of life, I'm assuming.

    Ron Diego, The only Sage of La Mesa, CA.

    DMG 3:09 PM  

    Struggled with the NE where heldUp led me to a pOPE with a bent elbow! Figured "no way, and managed to straighten things out. Also,had to make the gaRland/ DOROTHY switch. Still ended DNF. A TV role crossing a brand name left me with a blank I couldn't figure out. Didn't catch the theme until thhe revealer spelled it out, and I'm still not sure what a NAME card is. Something like a place card, one of those tags you paste on at meetings....?

    186

    spacecraft 6:42 PM  

    @ecanarensis: 'Scuse me, but PHI definitely DOES have a mlb designation. Granted, the Phillies are more of a non-team these days, but they DO exist.

    leftcoastTAM 8:40 PM  

    Had a problem absorbing the revealer as a poker term, but also missed its plural referent until I read RP's review. My DNF was at the Naticky JeANNE/eNO crossing.

    ecanarensis 12:55 PM  

    @spacecraft 6:42, I meant that there was no PHI destination as in airports...once I thought of CHI as a place for planes to land I completely lost sight of the clue & the fact that it had to do with MLB, not airport designations. Back when the Reds still played at Crosley Field (when I was barely more than an embryo) I saw the Phillies & their momentous mustaches, so I shoulda known better. I got on the wrong track, to thoroughly mix metaphors & transpo.

    ecanarensis 1:04 PM  

    @Gram marian2:19, For the love of God, Montresor! Stop! Uncle!

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