Soul singer Adams / TUE 11-24-15 / 3-D image in medical diagnoses / It's thing 1981 hit by Whispers / 1978 Cheech & Chong comedy

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Constructor: Gary Cee

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: SPIN CYCLE (60A: Washer action ... or a hint to four consecutive letters inside 18-, 23-, 38- and 49-Across) — SPIN "cycles" through four different formations within the theme answers:

Theme answers:
  • UP IN SMOKE (18A: 1978 Cheech & Chong comedy)
  • KEVIN SPACEY (23A: Academy Award winner for "American Beauty")
  • STEVEN SPIELBERG (38A: Besides Charlie Chaplin, only film director on Time's list of the 100 most influential people of the 20th century)
  • HMS PINAFORE (49A: Gilbert and Sullivan operetta set on a ship)
Word of the Day: OLETA Adams (14A: Soul singer Adams) —
Oleta Adams (born May 4, 1953, Seattle, Washington) is an American soul, jazz, and gospel singer and pianist. [...] // In 1985, Adams was discovered by Roland Orzabal and Curt Smith, founders of the English band Tears for Fears, while she was performing in a hotel bar in Kansas City, Missouri whilst they were on a US tour. Two years later, they contacted her to invite her to join their band as a singer and pianist on their next album, The Seeds of Love. // In 1989, the album was released and the single "Woman in Chains"—sung as a duet by Adams and Orzabal and with Phil Collins on drums—became her first hit.
Adams embarked on a world tour with Tears For Fears in 1990, performing by herself as the supporting artist at the start of each show, and remaining onstage throughout the Tears For Fears set where she would provide piano and vocals. // Following her work with Tears For Fears, Adams was offered a recording contract by their label Fontana Records and restarted her solo career in 1990, assisted by Orzabal who co-produced her new album, Circle of One. The album received much critical acclaim and (after a slow start) eventually peaked at no.1 in the UK in 1991 after she scored her biggest hit to date with her Grammy nominated cover of Brenda Russell's "Get Here". The song reached the UK and US Top 5 and became popular during the 1991 Gulf War conflict as families of deployed troops in the region embraced the tune as a theme song. 1991 also saw Adams sign to independent music publisher Fairwood Music (UK) Ltd. and contribute to the Elton John/Bernie Taupin tribute album, Two Rooms, on which appeared her version of John's 1974 hit "Don't Let the Sun Go Down On Me". Adams' version became another top 40 hit in the UK.// Her next album, Evolution (1993), was also a commercial success, making the UK top 10. It also featured her self-penned adult contemporary single "Window of Hope". Her 1995 release, Moving On, saw Adams move more in the direction of R&B, and she also reunited with Roland Orzabal for the duet "Me and my Big Ideas" on the Tears For Fears album Raoul and the Kings of Spain the same year. Two years later she released the Christian themed album Come Walk with Me. (wikipedia)
• • •

This theme feels like it must've been done a million times, but I could find just one. Sadly, it was very recent (2013) and had 3/4 of the same theme answers:


There's no way anyone could've expected today's constructor to know about this puzzle, as it's (somehow?) not in the (poorly updated) cruciverb database, and it was an LAT puzzle, not an NYT. You can see how a. SPIN CYCLE might lead you to just this idea, and b. this idea would lead you to these exact theme answers. Once SPIN CYCLE clicks in as a possible revealer, the number of roads and possibilities narrows considerable. Thus two constructors working completely independently arrive at virtually the same place with their themers. It happens. As for the puzzle's quality: fine. Mildly entertaining. The fill is decidedly OLD TIMES (59A: Days of yore), a bit stale. That NW corner for sure should've been redone, as the POTOK (1D: Chaim who wrote "The Chosen") / OLETA (14A: Soul singer Adams) crossing is something only a constructor's mother could love, and will Natick at least a small handful of people who have not been doing crossword puzzles every day for 20 years. ASSAI OMANI ESTEE ASSES ASPS NOES YSL ... none of it terrible, but when you pile up the over-familiar like that, it gets a bit suffocating.

MASH NOTE (5D: Love letter) and OVER HERE! (20A: Helpful cry during a rescue mission) are wonderful, as is SLURPS (6D: Eats noisily). Embarrassingly, I barely remember what a PET SCAN is (45A: 3-D image in medical diagnoses), and my father was a radiologist (sorry, dad). The scans that leap most readily to mind are CAT and MRI. But PET came back to me, eventually. It stands for "Positron Emission Tomography," only one word of which I can actually define. Sigh. I was only a mildly APT science pupil (36D: Perceptive, as a pupil) (meanwhile—non-humble brag—my daughter's report card just arrived and she got 115 in AP Physics. 115!? I am both proud and mildly embarrassed by the goofy fictional inflated "weighted" numbers they give students these days) (Oh, and let me undo the non-humble brag somewhat by telling you that her lowest grade, by far, was in ... English. [... crickets ...] If this is what passes for teen rebellion, I guess I'll take it.). Please give at least a smattering of polite applause for the TOKE / SMOKE crossing, which is adorable.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


George Barany 6:45 AM  

As I was working @Gary Cee's puzzle, I was scratching my head wondering what was going on with the theme. Sure, filling in A_LOVE for 2-Down and shortly thereafter encountering the word "love" in the MASS_NOTE clue led to some further scratching, and it was a good thing that I knew POTOK out of the chute because no way would I have ever figured out OLETA. For some dumb reason, I tried to jam in the legendary director of "Battleship Potemkin," i.e., SERGEI_EISENSTEIN, into the slot for STEVEN_SPIELBERG, so nice aha when that emerged. Another aha once the SPIN_CYCLE reveal emerged, and it was all over--a near personal record time.

@Gary's day job is as a DJ, so maybe he was spinning records, or maybe he was referring to his own cycle (of his 30 New York Times puzzles, at least one has appeared on every day of the week). But then I remembered @Byron Walden's RINSE_CYCLE from earlier this year, and got to wondering: Will this wash? Checking @Gary's own constructor notes made it clear that today's puzzle has been sitting in the laundry basket for 3 1/2 years. And now we learn from @Rex's review that the theme has also been done in the Los Angeles Times. Hmmm, great minds think alike?!

Segue time, based on the clue for 1-Down. Today, November 24, regular @Rex-ite @John Child and I raise a glass to say L'CHAIM to a highly prolific New York Times constructor, who has also hit the cycle. Find out who it is by solving
, which is 18x (18 = "chai"). Since there are aspects of the puzzle that are NSFW, the more timid of you may prefer to try a 15x version that is RATED GEE. And not to worry, the puzzle's honoree has already vetted the more outrageous 18x version!

Lewis 7:02 AM  

In the last week or so, the puzzles have certainly been assified, and today triples down: ASSES, ASSAI, LASS. I never heard of MASHNOTE and wondered if that A should be a "u", because I hadn't heard of OLETA. I liked the image of "Thief's bagful" for LOOT, and that clue has never been used in the NYT (nor do I see it on Cruciverb), so... good one! (I see "Ransack" has been used as a LOOT clue but that's a different sack.). I'm guessing the same sort of puzzle can be done with SPOT, or some sort of theme, as that word makes five anagrams, I believe.

It's nice to see PANAM flying high, and OVERHERE, indeed, is.

The theme didn't help the solve, but overall it was a fun jaunt. Certainly, if I were one to grade puzzles, I'd rate it higher than a CEE.

NCA President 7:36 AM  

If it weren't for POTOK/OLETA I would have beat my record time. But somehow I thought it was aLETA Adams, which, when compared to OLETA, seems just as viable. Never mind that POTOK is meaningless to yeah, PaTOK looked, you know, fine.

I scoured the puzzle for typos but could not find one and then upon my second pass-through, I saw that aLETA and the light went off...Oh! OLETA.

A lot of answers were filled in automatically with crosses before I even got to the clues. PETSCAN and SPINCYCLE are two that come to mind. I did the downs first today and breezed through fairly well.

Not too long ago "molto" was in a puzzle and defined by the clue as "very." I might have mentioned in the comments that "molto" was better translated as "much" while ASSAI was more closely translated as "very." So, here you go. ASSAI = very. I'll consider this a shout out from WS that he was mildly wrong before and corrected the error.

BTW, if any of you are doing absolutely nothing on Christmas Eve and happen to turn on your Public Television station (I'm not sure who does this), but FWIW, I was present (and in) the Christmas at Belmont taping that airs on PBS during Christmas week. Literally hundreds of very talented kids spent two full days sitting around peacefully and patiently waiting their 3 minutes of performance. Anyway, some really nice music for your holiday enjoyment. /crass self promotion

John V 7:50 AM  

Did not know OLETTA and I have been doing puzzles daily for more than 20 years. Wanted ODETA.

GILL I. 7:58 AM  

Well, I've been doing puzzles for over 20 years and I hope Gary Cee's mother loved OLETu as much as I did. MuSH NOTE sounds a lot more lovey dovey than anything sent to me en MASH.
Nothing VILE for this Tuesday. The TOKE/SMOKE made me smile/smirk. I also liked A TIE/BELT and I'll throw in EBBS/LAGS.
I want to meet someone, someday, who has a wonderful name like FIONA Apple. If it's made up,I'm crushed.
Very safe, calm and cute easy Tuesday puzzle. Nary a step-child seen today, even if it's a repeat theme. Oh, I just saw the MEN clue....who would have thought...and dang, there is our best friend ASSES.
I have to make pies.

jberg 8:02 AM  

One writeover -- WE'RE HERE before OVER HERE, leading me for a moment to think that the theme would be visual but non-aural rhymes (if that's the right word). But KEVIN SPACEY took care of that. The rest was easy, with a momentary hesitation at CHIC since it led to an initial HM....

If this was submitted 3.5 years ago, the LAT puzzle had not been published yet, so it was definitely co-invention.

Other than that, it's all been said. Is someone keeping score on the African capitals?

L 8:08 AM  

ASSES, again?!? Is it just me, or are we seeing this again and again?
The POTOK OLETA cross was a gimme, so I had no trouble with the puzzle today. Adequate Tuesday puzzle, imo.

Hartley70 8:11 AM  

Definitely on the easy side and I don't do the LAT but I feel sure I have seen this before also. I think the first time I saw it, I was more excited. It made for a very quick solve and a good puzzle for newbies.

chefbea 8:19 AM  

Fun puzzle...I do a lot of laundry...when I'm not cooking!! @Lewis..I had mush note because I never heard of Oleta.

keleng 8:27 AM  

yup, POTOK/OLETA got me too....bad crossing, in my opinion....

Gregory Schmidt 8:33 AM  

Crossing OLETA with POTOK and NEGEV on a Tuesday gets the constructor a big old middle finger from me. I was so determined to get this that I literally cycled through every vowel combination in both of those crossings until the music played. Terrible.

Tita 8:42 AM  

Thanks, @GB...*that*is the puzzle that I tried to remember when I got to the revealer.

Back when I was writing MuSHNOTES to every Yankee player, Sparky LYLE had just come on the scene as this new thing called a relief pitcher.he was a great one , and cute to boot.

I blame him for my dnf caused by above guess.

The house I grew up in was in Thomas PAINE's Apple orchard. Only twice did we try to eat or bake with the apples from the two trees we had...but they were primo climbing trees.

@Numinous from you of course remember too, back in the OLDTIMES, tuna cans could be opened on the top and bottom...
Those would be our egg forms.
We make those mom calls it "Egg McMahan".
My husband calls his variation "Oeuef a lá Phil".

Tim 8:48 AM  

I'm somewhat amused that I seem to be the only one who had no problem with POTOK but was Naticked at OLETA/NEGEV.

Anonymous 8:53 AM  

Adequate Tuesday for me. It did feel a little familiar, although I don't recall seeing this specific theme in another puzzle.

I made the same pAtok/pOtok error as NCA Pres @ 7:36. Once I realized the puzzle had an error, some deep brain cobweb shifted and I figured it out.

The clue for APT bothered me a bit. I'm familiar with it meaning 'appropriate' or 'likely', but a quick dictionary look-up confirms that it also can mean 'quick to learn'. Apparently I am not/was not an apt scholar for secondary or third definitions, no matter how apt they are.

Mohair Sam 8:54 AM  

So as Rex predicted we naticked at the O in OLETU (guessed an A), and therefore we confess to a Tuesday dnf. BUT . . . . Mrs. Mohair reminds me that if we solved online Mr. Happy Pencil would have helped us to guess again, as I suspect is reality for many of you high techies. Am I right? Or am I right? You know who you are.

Theme of two movies, a director, and an operetta - very entertaining indeed. Am I the only person who thought "American Beauty" was a lousy movie with a lot of great actors?

I remember many years ago using TOKE in Boggle at a family gathering and being asked what it meant, it wasn't in the dictionary. Oh oh.

Anonymous 8:56 AM  

The SPIN theme appeared in the NYT about a year ago, if I remember right, with SPINCYCLE as the revealer. Except in that case, SPIN appeared in 2x2 squares that "spun" clockwise as you moved clockwise around the puzzle.

Anonymous 8:59 AM  

I had no idea what a "Mash Note" is, so "mush note" seemed to work just fine, since I had never heard of ole Oletu. Or Oleta, or whatever. What kind of stupid clue was that. Oddly, I did remember the LAT puzzle. When I started this, I had this weird feeling of de ja vieu. I went back to an old briefcase which I had last taken on a business trip to LA and, sure enough, there it was. But that happens to a lot of us from Natick.

Nancy 8:59 AM  

So let me be consistent here. A crossword laden with proper name trivia you DO know is just as bad as one laden with proper names you DON'T know. Yes, it was easy, and yes, it was boring, and I don't know why these kinds of puzzles get published. Tune into Jeopardy if you want a trivia contest. I'm not going to count, but I think the proper name ratio to non-proper name answers was at least 2-1 or maybe even 3-1. Thought this was awful.

Ludyjynn 9:08 AM  

I liked the '70s lovefest: "Animal House" TOGAS from 1978; same year as C&C's TOKE filled "UP IN SMOKE"; Tina FEY born in 1970; six of STEPHEN SPIELBERG's films, including "Jaws" and "Close Encounters...".

Rex, nearly 10 years ago, a PETSCAN was instrumental in saving my life. I am so grateful for this advanced medical diagnostic tool. BTW, not all insurance plans at the time covered this expensive procedure; luckily mine did.

Saw a NYC production of the "HMS PINAFORE" in the '80s (if memory serves). It starred Linda Ronstadt and Rex Smith. Very well done. It was fun to see her out of the pop world context. Ahhh, OLD TIMES.

Thanks, GC and WS. Theme reminds me that Tuesday is laundry day!

Ludyjynn 9:12 AM  

Oops, ignore my previous HMS Pinafore remark. It was the "Pirates of Penzance" production w/ Ronstadt et al. At least I got the composers right!

Roo Monster 9:13 AM  

Hey All !
Breezed through most of the puz in about 8 mins (quick for me), then hit the NW corner last, and died.An additional 10 mins up there, and still had to cheat. So, thanks, NW, for a DNF. Managed to get everything except 1A,14A, 1D, 5D. What the heck is a MASH NOTE? @Rex POTOK/OLETA Natick, and still befuddled how I couldn't drag out PANAM. To borrow a LMS-ism, sheesh! Managed to wrangle out NEGEV, so there's that.

The rest was good. We get these letter-rearranged-type-puzs every now and again. Surprising to see TOKE in a NYTX. NOAM a WOE, but the HMS makes it a lock. Resisted putting in FILETS for a bit, confusing it with fillets. Doh! Another well clued MEN. PALE on top of SNOW.

Hate Mon or Tue DNFs. Oh well. At least we have LASS ASSES for the MEN to SPOT. :-P


Anonymous 9:15 AM  

After an appreciated layoff period, @Dr. Barany's at it again -- using this blog to promote his puzzles.

Z 9:18 AM  

When I got to the reveal I felt like I just did this one. I don't know if it was Rinse Cycle or the LAT puzzle or both, but I definitely had that deja did that feeling.

What‽ We can't have both Sparky LYLE and Freddie Patek in the same puzzle? Hand up for aLETA/PaTOK. Bah. POTOK does look righter after the fact. Purely learned from xwords, though, so no real help.

NEGEV, RABAT, Muscat, the Nile, Today's North Africa/Arabia geography lesson brought to you by the letter Cee.

If OLETA Adams is crossworthy why not Kurt VILE?

The Rhino 9:25 AM  

Honestly, I'm not interested enough in this puzzle to comment - except that I got my fastest Tuesday time ever. So I guess it was pretty easy.

Anonymous 9:30 AM  

Hat tip to The Simpsons for teaching generations of non-theatergoers about the HMS PINAFORE (49A). I know nothing of the operetta, but I will never forget the spoof of "Cape Fear" with Sideshow Bob on the boat.

Charles Flaster 9:30 AM  

Very EZ although I did introduce a new singer--OLETu.
Rex is spot on with today's review.
Favorite cluing was for SNOW.
CrosswordEASE--OMANI and YSL.
George B's puzzle concerning a certain constructor is truly a work of art. Try it!
Thanks GC.

Joseph Michael 9:33 AM  

At first, I thought it was going to be a stoner theme with UP IN SMOKE, TOKE, and SPACEY. Was disappointed to discover that it was only the SPIN CYCLE of a washing machine.

Hated the OLETA/POTOK cross and couldn't believe there were more ASSES in the grid. What is the NYT trying to tell us?

Oh, well, at least MEN got a clue that wasn't sexist.

Teedmn 9:35 AM  

I had to solve online today so a bit slower than a typical Tuesday. I'll join @Lewis et. al. on considering MuSH. Reminds one of "crush", no? Poor OLETA, you obviously deserve more recognition but a WOE for me.

Like @Gill I, I thought it fun to see yet another clue for MEN, no exasperation in this one. And I liked the 67A clue for SNOW. And does anyone else think it ironic that nowadays an RSVP is just a click on a webpage?

Thanks, Gary Cee.

And I'd recommend everyone check out the puzzle @George B and @John Child created to honor someone who has most likely affected everyone on this blog to some extent, for better or worse :-). I liked the NSFW version with the Buzzfeed edginess.

Carola 9:35 AM  

Remembering the earlier RINSE CYCLE puzzle, I found the reveal a little bit of a let-down, but I thought the theme answers were a delight, along with MASH NOTE, OVER HERE, SLURP, LAY A TRAP. I also liked the cross of the clothing options PINAFORE and POLOS.

@Gill I. - Pie day here, too.
@Mohair Sam - I thought "American Beauty" was pretentious and terrible.

Glimmerglass 9:35 AM  

In my memory files, a MASHer was a man who made unwanted sexual advances. I don't recall seeing the phrase MASH NOTE, but it would have been lewd, not romantic.

Gracie 9:41 AM  

Agree that POTOK/OLETA cross not fit for a Tuesday. Never heard of a MASHNOTE, so NE corner wasn't pretty. Otherwise fine and smooth. Amazing to see overlap with the LAT puzzle Rex found. I do remember RINSE in a recent NYT puzzle, stacked and spun.

Slow Motion 9:47 AM  

Not sure if Rex noticed that SPIN actually does cycle; the order of the letters doesn't change, except for jumping from the beginning to the end. Top to bottom, it goes PINS, then INSP, then NSPI, then SPIN. Nice.

quilter1 9:49 AM  

Pretty easy. MASH was slang for flirting about a hundred or more years ago. Receiving a MASHNOTE could have been welcome or unwelcome depending on the writer. I guess sexts would be modern version.

Bob Kerfuffle 9:57 AM  

Seemed like a decent Tuesday, and post-solve I was pleased to see how SPIN went through an orderly cycle.

No write-overs; I knew POTOK, and I thought MASHNOTE was just an ordinary English word.

About 1 A ("____ Games): I was recently dragged (figuratively) to a movie set in a fictional country called PANEM, which was noted for some kind of games . . .

Even further afield, since we may be seeing certain words repeatedly, I will offer for vetting by experts this clue to 9 D, MEN: "Chess pieces, including the Queen." Would that be accurate?

Chuck McGregor 10:23 AM  

Musing on doing the S-P-I-N of SPI N without SPANning words oPINS the door to INSPect other iNSPIred entries (or maybe not) that (hopefully) won’t leave one gaSPINg - such as this ARSENAL of random clues:

Former outfit on Wall Street: PINStripes

____ Gadget: INSPector

Xylophone cousin: GlockeNSPIel

Political hack: SPINster

I wonder if ALIs in CALI are APT to be EIRE. Do I SPOT a possible STEVEN SPIELERG film?

I bet a lot of TOGAS went UPINSMOKE during (@yesterday) NERO’s reign.

mac 10:28 AM  

Very easy, with the NW taking a little more time. Good thing I knew Potok (he rooms with Chaim in my memory, somehow), but that A in Oleta was a guess.

Yup, @NCA President, I started out with "molto".

RAD2626 10:40 AM  

I thought the whole NW corner was a disaster, not just the author and the singer. The desert was no break either and I wanted The Isley Brothers' "It's Your Thing"' even if it didn't fit since I wanted to do what I wanted to do. Otherwise puzzle just fine although weird that editors would sit on it so long and then put it out so soon after a similar theme. Either 1) there is a real shortage of Tuesday puzzles or 2) we should expect a WASH cycle soon.

Arlene 10:43 AM  

As a paper and pen solver, I enjoy playing with my puzzles after completion - so went ahead and circled all the SPIN cycles. I didn't know OLETA, but I did know POTOK and NEGEV, so no problems for me.
Which reminds me that back in the 1960's, there was a movement called "Irrigate the Negev" - here's some info about that -

Andrew Heinegg 10:43 AM  

I thought it was a reasonable effort for a Tuesday. What struck me about the bloggers comments was the 'strength' of the reactions to the puzzle. I think there is something to be said for a puzzle that either really pleases or enrages the solvers.

Anonymous 10:47 AM  

At least it was a better clue for "men" this time.

old timer 11:08 AM  

Very easy, but also very boring. ASSAI always confuses me, because it seems obvious that it is the same word as assez in French, and that means "enough". "Assez vite" would mean "fast enough" or fast-ish. Why is it different in Italian? I would have thought "molto allegro" would, on that theory, be faster than allegro assai.

As a long-time New Yorker subscriber, I had no trouble at all with POTOK. And certainly none with NEGEV. So while I did not no ALETA, it was easy enough to get.

I have no idea where Tom PAINE lived, much less that he had an apple orchard with trees still bearing fruit within living memory. PAINE' "The Crisis" is the finest work of its kind I've ever read. It must have thrilled every Patriot who saw it. Until today, I had not known that Paine owned property in the US, and in fact returned to this country before he died.

Bond 11:31 AM  

Like a basso* in the H.M.S. PINAFORE, Chris Christie is at it again, BELTing out a PALE rendition of his favorite aria, Using a Tragedy for Political Purposes. Immediately after the terrorism in Paris, Christie put 9/11 through the SPIN CYCLE, and came up with more VILE, maudlin ALMS to his own bravery and courage that day. When those ASSES in his office used four days of the commute up at that little SPAN known as the George Washington Bridge as their own personal ATARI (“Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee..”) the Mafia governor’s federal ambitions went UP IN SMOKE. When he found himself at the kids’ table during the “debates” Christie was in quite a STEW. Then, great news for the Christie campaign, Paris happened! Just like OLD TIMES, here’s Christie actually regaining traction among gullible voters who get caught up in his STEVEN SPIELBERG-like terror recreation: their worst nightmare. But of course Chris would be able to handle that 3:00 A.M. phone call…He’d be up checking out his refrigerator’s ARSENAL. When a concerned citizen called Trenton after Paris to say, “He can’t call the president “lawless,” the TYPE A lass said she wasn’t sure he would RSVP on the message, as he got all his MASHNOTEs at night, between SLURPS.
As Tom PAINE said, “These are the times that try MEN’s souls.” He might have added, So have a TOKE. And I did. And I will. I will go into my SILO where I keep all my contraband, like how the pyramids kept all that grain.* *

*@ Alias Z: is that a thing?
** Gifted Hands’ theory
Ed Note: “Gifted Hands” A modest title for an autobio..

Masked and Anonymous 11:44 AM  

Yikes. A 5x5 opening NW corner, with a bottom row lineup of K-E-V-I-N. Toss in another V from OVERHERE, and you've got one day-um-near-impossible corner to construct fill for. Tasty desperation ensues.

NEGEV OLETA A-LOVE POTOK. har. Now that's what I call a fiery MASHNOTE.

(single) U of the Day: SLURPS/UPINSMOKE. Lil darlin. [p.s. 6 U's, in that there clone puz, tho.]

Thanx for the spin, Mr. C. Especially liked the orderly PINS-INSP-NSPI-SPIN cycle, with each front letter movin to the back, as the cycle progresses. Avoids the NIPS.


**meta gruntz**

jae 12:06 PM  

Easy for me too.  Although, as many of you have pointed out the NW corner was kinda tricky.  Did not know OLETA and had to infer LOVE...tough corner for a Tues.

Reasonably smooth grid, solid Tues. theme, plus one of Cheech and Chong's funniest movies, liked it.

TheoCratic 12:33 PM  

I sure felt like one of the "asses" when I couldn't understand what "ATIE is like kissing your sister" meant, and then realizing it was "a tie" not "atie." But I'm not a sports fan, that's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Luckily I was able to get "MASH NOTE" from my abiding love of The Simpsons. WHOOP-DEE-DOO TARANTULA TOWN! WHOOP-DEE-DOO TO THE WORLD!

Thomas 12:38 PM  

Haha, wow. POTOK/OLETA cross on a Tuesday? I was going to gripe about MASHNOTE, having never heard of it, and having tried MUSHNOTE in its stead, but OED attests it to as early as late 19th century, so that's that.

TOKE/UPINSMOKE was great, of course, although I did not notice until the end, when I was searching for my error. I was quite convinced there was an error on their side, and had even started to pen a missive to NOAh Chomsky, when... oh. Oops. My bed.

13 across clues were cluing proper nouns. 9 down clues. (I exclude the demonym Omani.) Yikes. Admittedly, some were easy, but that seems like a lot.

Masked and Anonymous 12:38 PM  

Alternate MASHNOTE:



Pete 12:56 PM  

After entering Kevin Spacey, then Up in Smoke crossed by toke, I thought we were venturing into new territory for the NYTimes xword puzzle.

I was wrong.

Anoa Bob 1:07 PM  

Everything I know about HMS PINAFORE I learned from this episode segment of The Simpsons.

Since constructors only get paid for their puzzles in the month when it is published, 3 1/2 years seems like an insanely, unconscionably long lag time between acceptance & publication. Since you are only notified when your puzzle is coming out a week or two before its publication date, this means today's offering was in puzzle limbo for over three years! Would not this discourage top constructors, who may rely on puzzles for some income, from submitting their work to the NYT? Would not this tend to lower the overall quality of puzzles being submitted to the NYT?

The theme TOKE (past tense of take, right?) a toll on fill quality, as evidenced out of the gate in the NW corner. Another indication is the high number of S's in the grid, 24 of them today, most in the service of POCs. That's about 15% of the total number of letters in the grid, or 2 1/2 times the frequency of the letter S in standard English text. I guess you could say the S's were working their ASSES off!

Numinous 1:33 PM  

I'm surprised at y'all. I got POTOK with no thought at all. You saiy Chaim, I say POTOK, pure reflex. MASH NOTES was no problem either. For half a second I considered MoSH as in MoSHpits but in no context other than I know that term. What screwed me here was spelling NEGEV with an A. I had to go back and look carefully to realize my mystake. I had no idea that an OLETA existed anywhere on this planet and the only thing I know about soul music is Barry White which didn't fit.

I enjoyed this T&A puzzle even though there were no Ts in it. Nary a one, my inner fourteen-year-old was bereft. The only titillation to be found anywhere was the lad and his LASS (nervous titter).

@Tita: alas, tuna cans are no longer openable from both ends but my egg muffin, with its NOOKs and crannies, was delicious all the same. The silicone egg rings I got are rather larger than a tuna can so I imagine the egg cooks more quickly.

Thsi puzzle flew by and nothing else gave me even a little pause. I'm going to have to delete my app and reinstall it to establish a new baseline. My recent times have all been low, well below average so I think I have to start again.

AliasZ 2:02 PM  

SPIN CYCLE, RINSE CYCLE -- what's next? Business, life, lunar, menstrual, motor, solar, vicious, etc.

"It's ___ Thing" could be ABOVE, A DOVE, A JOVE, A MOVE, A ROVE, A TOVE, A WOVE.
"Soul singer Adams" cold be OBETA, ODETA, OJETA, OMETA, ORETA, OTETA, OWETA. This could be the second worst Asmara. Which is the likeliest? Oh I missed it: A LOVE and OLETA.

Yesterday: NOS. Today: NOES. Which is correct?
Chaim and Chomsky in the same puzzle must be a first.
"Set a trap" out-googled "LAY A TRAP" 590,000 to 93,900.
ASS and ASSES appear so often in NYT puzzles, we don't even blush anymore.

For this gloomy Tuesday afternoon, eEnjoy this super-lovely Allegro ASSAI by Mozart.

@George Barany, loved those snazzy puzzles. Thank you. Don't stop!

And thanks Gary Cee for this easy but fun Tuesday puzzle.

Anonymous 5:10 PM  

Restore our fortunes, O Lord,

like the watercourses of the Negev.

Jim 5:46 PM  

Agree with Nancy, so many proper names that this was just awful. The NW was terrible.

chefwen 6:00 PM  

Other than spelling POTOK with an eK and KEVIN with an eN I had no problems. Those were both easy fixes. Didn't know OLETA and after reading her bio felt that I should have. Pretty impressive.

I do the LAT puzzle every day so my feeling of déjà vu was understandable.

Easier than Monday's puzzle for me.

Kris in ABCA 6:28 PM  

Like @The Rhino, this was my fastest Tuesday ever. Potok was a gimme for me, so I never blinked at Oleta.

Music Man 6:45 PM  

Yup kudos on the UP IN SMOKE/TOKE cross, but seeing that almost identical puzzle with the themers in the identical spots must be embarrassing a little. And yes that NW corner naticked the hell out of me.

OISK 6:54 PM  

First DNF in three weeks, and it comes on Tuesday! At least I was not alone in this. Oleta? What really rankles is that I had it correctly finished. But Oleta? Could it be that I misspelled Potok? Patok? (I have read "The Chosen" more than once) I had a student with the last name "Patek," and thought of that first. But finally, I decided foolishly that Oleta is impossible. DNF. Happy to see a G and S reference though. Oh, "It's a love thing"??? No, it's vile....

smalltowndoc 7:13 PM  

POTOK was a given for me. Wasn't familiar with MASH NOTE, but nothing else fit.
@Rex: Your dad was a radiologist?! You're not as bad as I thought you were (says this small town radiologist).

GILL I. 7:42 PM  

@Anoa Bob. Thank you for sharing that information. Wow...Makes me feel bad and somewhat mad. Does anyone wait over three years to be paid for their work without going to Small Claims?
I guess it's the prestige of having your hard work appear in the New York Times? What power.....

kitshef 11:12 PM  

I'm with @carola on American Beauty. Self-indulgent tripe about those with no reason to complain doing so.

The P in PETSCAN stands for positron, the antimatter analog to the electron. Basically you get injected with a radioactive isotope, which decays, emitting a positron. When the positron encounters an electron they mutually annihilate, producing gamma rays. The scanner detects the gamma rays. I mention all this as I think there is a general perception that antimatter is the stuff of science fiction, rather than something that is real and helping save lives.

This was my first ever non-Monday solve using only downs. One overwrite - NayS before NOES, quickly corrected thanks to Senor Spielbergo.

Tita 11:31 PM  

@old've not visited the Thomas Paine Cottage in New Rochelle?! He was given land that was taken from a Tory, as a reward for his patriotic services, as per a map I have and wiki. I used to walk past it every day on my way to school.
It's off Paine Ave., and just south of Paine Lake, where I used to ice skate.
Now you know!

Leapfinger 11:17 AM  

I'm putting my money into @Bonds. Sound stuff, but if you're going to run the Pubs' roster, it'll be a while till you get to Dem others. Consider intercalating 4:1, maybe. You have some of the best materiel on tap.

@AliasZ perhaps they could run that menstrual cycle on a monthly basis. NOHS knows no noes; we're probably due for a reASSESsment.

Phillipe POTOK: Watch this space

Paul Winston 6:53 PM  

Every once in a while, I solve a puzzle and clip it, intending to look at Rex's corresponding blog entry. But life overtakes, and I don't get to the blog for a week or two, and I miss the discussion. That's what happened here.

I can't believe this one got in! The quality is fine, but the sexual overtones and references were off the charts. (Don't get me wrong; I love that, but I'm not used to seeing it all in a NYT puzzle.)

In addition to ASSES, LASS, and ASSAI, there's ARSEnal (ARSE ANAL?), ASkew (not ASSkew, but close), BOCA (Spanish for mouth, because "let's not confine ourselves to one orifice"), and ANNIE (phonetically similar to ANI) over PAINE (similar to PENIS.) We've got togas, we've got KEVIN SPACEY (whose sexuality is always speculated on in the tabloids), and "spin cycle" could easily be "penis cycle," as it is in stevENSPIelberg. I didn't find it VILE, but I kept on looking for the G to go with SPOT (65A.) Don't eat the PALE SNOW.

Just saying............................

art mugalian 8:39 AM  

Check out the hilarious West Wing episode (first season, I think) when the characters continually confuse Pinafore and Penzance. "It's about duty." "They're ALL about duty!"

Burma Shave 10:48 AM  


Back in the OLDTIMES it all went UPINSMOKE,
‘twas the RESIN SANS STEMs when we took ANEW TOKE.


rondo 11:03 AM  

Yeah it was easy except the NW Natick. Had no idea of the gimmick until the revealer. Was hoping for something funnier after the TOKE/UPINSMOKE cross followed by KEVINSPACEY, but alas, this puz was Too-staid.

At least there was comedic yeah baby Tina FEY (that’s the way to clue that word) and one time musical LASS yeah baby FIONA. And ANNIE when she gets her gunnin’ on.

@leftcoastTAM – pretty sure yesterday’s “revolutionary” HIFI referred to the record going round and round.

Never heard of a PETSCAN, sounds like something at the vet’s.

If this is the type of puz in the Tuesday ARSENAL, the future is as PALE as the MN SNOW I just finished shoveling.

spacecraft 12:17 PM  

One of the pleasures in solving these puzzles is the memories they evoke. "When I was a lad I served a term" as chorus member for our high school production of HMSPINAFORE. It contained a song with the following lyric:

"Goodness me, what was that?
Could it be, it was the cat?
It WAS, it WAS, the cat!
Imagine that: it was the cat!"

Well, a couple of buddies and I agreed we would employ the current slang word for police and sing "It FUZZ, it FUZZ..." We were no doubt influenced to do this after a few TOKEs went UPINSMOKE. The director, our music teacher, called us in afterward. "You know, you guys could have gotten away with it if you hadn't turned to each other breaking out shit-eatin' grins. That'll cost you zeroes for participation." But we argued that after all, we DID sing in time and in tune, and we'd never do it again. He relented pending our last promise. Ah man, those were some fine OLDTIMES.

I gottA LOVE a puzz that gives me that moment, has one of my favorite directors as a centerpiece, and sports the word SLURPS. Yeah, the fill gets tired here and there, but it's a small price to pay. A-.

rain forest 2:52 PM  

A pleasant and fast Tuesday which nonetheless resulted in a DNF at the OLETA/POTOK cross. I don't mind that, since I knew neither individual and the A that I chose gave two possibly real names.

Anyhoo, I must go and retrieve my laundry as the SPIN CYCLE has just been completed.

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