Travelmate in On the Road / SUN 12-13-15 / Former baseball boss bud / Available as London limo / Title ship in 1997 Spielberg movie / Lark for Halloween hooligan / Bosox division / Big bankruptcy of 2001 / Order at McSorley's

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Constructor: Tracy Gray and Andrea Carla Michaels

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: "Bands Together" — phrases are the names of two bands, clued as if that phrase were a real phrase, which sometimes it is, sometimes it isn't ... the clues are somehow *not* "?"-clues, despite occasional wackiness ... it's a bit of a conceptual mess, tbh

Theme answers:
  • CHICAGO TRAIN (22A: Elevated sight in the Windy City)
  • ONE-DIRECTION TRAFFIC (36A: All the cars going the same way)
  •  YES, NO DOUBT (55A: "Absolutely!")
  • EAGLES' WINGS (62A: They're seen spread on the back of a quarter)
  • BOSTON CREAM (72A: Kind of pie or doughnut)
  • POISON-FREE (78A: Like child-safe cleaning products)
  • FUN SMASHING PUMPKINS (95A: Lark for a Halloween hooligan)
  • RUSH THE DOORS (117A: What many Black Friday shoppers do at midnight)
Word of the Day: UKASE (93D: Czar's decree) —

• • •

An old idea. I've seen this done with movies, too, I think ("Double Features"?). Possible also with bands. Anyway, it's not hard to get the conceit, and after that, it's just a matter of "Have I heard of these bands?" (FREE was the only one I just don't know ... I assume it's some old '60s band). It's not like the clues or makeshift answers are funny. I mean, a bunch of them are just ... phrases. POISON FREE and RUSH THE DOORS and BOSTON CREAM are straightforward, normal phrases. But then you get nutso stuff like FUN SMASHING PUMPKINS (I think the puzzle would've been Much much better off had it been More nutso...) and then clunky awkward stuff like CHICAGO TRAIN (?) and ONE-DIRECTION TRAFFIC. You could replicate this theme infinitely. There's nothing special here. You just have to find symmetrical phrases and put them in the grid. Then fill. The end. And the fill ... yeesh. It's quite off / oldish, throughout. OCELLI? RELO EDA. SINO WEENY LAI. UTAHAN (always unwelcome). NODS TO (which is somehow not NODS AT) (see also the dupe in the clue for SIGNAL—[A wink or a nod, maybe]). EINE ASE UAL and on and on, with UKASE being the real cherry on the top. PRIMROSES and ISAAC NEWTON (67D: Who said "Aristotle is my friend — but my greatest friend is truth") give this thing some color, but otherwise, this thing is a throwback, and not in a charming retro way. More like ... in an OLD CAR stuck in a RUT kind of way.

I don't see a reason to go on. It is what it is. The NYT had been looking up of late, so I guess we were due for some regression.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Kenneth Wurman 12:09 AM  

Putting "One Direction" on the same line as the great band Traffic is insulting to music lovers! Steve Winwood, Jim Capaldi , Dave Mason -- tremendous musicians

jae 12:25 AM  

Pleasant breezy Sun.  Knew most of the bands, so this was easy and smooth.  Liked it more than Rex did. 

Anonymous 12:47 AM  

Very easy for a Sunday. I did the entire puzzle not realizing, or even recognizing, these were band names as I filled in the answers, though when I read Rex's comments I realized that the names of bands I knew were involved. Overall,though, a pretty joyless exercise in solving.

Charles Flaster 12:52 AM  

Very E Z with only unknown bands being --FREE FUN ( clued as " No charge amusement park") to fit the theme.
Write over CUPS for tsPS.
Liked clue for ANNEXED.
UKASE is old time crosswordEASE along with Irade.
Thanks TG and ACM.

ANON B 1:13 AM  

Do adults actually watch these band? I finished the
puzzle and guessed that they were the names of bands
hooked together although I have never heard of any of them.

The Ear Worm 1:24 AM  

Really struggled (I.e. Naticked) with LAI LEAH UAL. In retrospect, I see that UAL is an air carrier (United) but had dhL for long enough that I couldn't do it but be guess and check.

Finally got the happy pencil, but didn't feel good about it.

chefwen 2:27 AM  

I happened to love this puzzle, but I'm an ACME fan so I confess to being a little partial.

Liked putting the bands together and those I was unfamiliar with, TRAIN, FREE and FUN came back to me when I Googled their songs. It would be difficult to pick a favorite, but given the visual I'd have to go with FUN SMASHING PUMKINS.

Fun, fun, fun Sunday puzzle. Thank you Andrea and Tracy.

George Barany 5:32 AM  

It was interesting to learn that @Tracy Gray and @Andrea Carla Michaels have never met in person, and that this entire collaboration was conducted via e-mail. Congratulations to them both!

The phrase used to clue ISAAC_NEWTON could just as well have been said by ISAAC_ASIMOV, but I ultimately sorted out the southwest section ... with the exception that, having never heard of FUN (appropriate, huh?) or LOWES, I had to Google singer/actress Lola. I was wondering about ASE, but yes, enzymes are chemical entities. As a Professor who has read many a THESIS, I had to resolve the SCENE to determine the plural.

I'll have to assume that never-before-used clues for FINN (especially) and PEETA were added during the editing process, insofar as they refer to just-released or about-to-be-released movies that are not on my holiday "must see" list [consistent with a recent clue for ARLO, that graced the crossword pages of the New York Times ahead of the paper's review of "The Good Dinosaur"]. It also seems reasonable that they EAT BOSTON_CREAM in the AL_EAST. Kudos to "Something bound to sell?" as a clue for BOOK.

mrucker 5:52 AM  

The sheer wrongness of putting One Direction and Traffic in the same puzzle, much less the same answer, astounds me. When I told my husband, he was so disgusted he was speechless.

Bob Kerfuffle 6:36 AM  

Sorry to say, I thought the title given to this puzzle was something of a clunker. "Bands Together" just says, "This is exactly what you will get." Even a slight twist, say, "Banding Together," might offer a bit of misdirect and the thought that there might be some wordplay coming up.

Three w/o's: 107 A, confused the cinematic LOEW'S with the home repair LOWE'S; 108 D, COSI >> EINE; and, at 105 D, thought od Bret Easton ELLIS before Bret HARTE.

Anonymous 6:56 AM  

Free was a one-hit wonder with the song "Alright Now." Unless you live off the grid, you can't avoid that song.

Anonymous 7:12 AM  

This was a rare Sunday failure for me. I went with ISAAC ASIMOV and COSI in the SW instead of ISAAC NEWTON and EINE and just couldn't see my way out of it. It didn't help that I've never heard of a band called FUN before. I finally had to use the "Check All Letters" feature. Bummer.

Lewis 7:16 AM  

My highlight was solving one of the themers with no letters filled in. I thought it was a clever idea for a theme and wonder if it has ever been done before with bands (Rex was not clear on this). Even if it has, sometimes old ideas are good enough to bear repeating. The cluing was tricky in places, which I like, but I would have liked more clues with wordplay. Andrea mentioned in her comments on the puzzle that Will nixed her favorite entry STRAYCATSPOISONTOTO (he wanted the theme answers limited to two band names), but that would have been fun to find in the puzzle. My brain got a good workout, and it never felt like a slog.

Congratulations, Andrea and Traci, on the first Sunday puzzle in almost ten years by two women!

'mericans in Paris 7:19 AM  

EAU well, @Rex can't be accused of being a LAP DOG today in his review. We thought the double-band theme was a NEAT IDEA, albeit not very original. Perhaps INDIFFERENT sums up our overall experience. We found most of the puzzle easy, until we got to the south-east corner. Finally gave up and had to google 93D, 105D, and 106D. So didn't FINN.


-- Would prefer the clue to 30A to have been written "Some are 13- or 14-Down".
-- APP, ARR, EDA, EDY, ELS (why do so many meh three- and four-letter words begin with E?), UAL.
-- GOOF as a synonym for "slip". GOOF up, YES NO DOUBT. Can't explain why, but I just would not consider GOOF and "slip" interchangeable.
-- WEENY as a synonym for "pipsqueak", except when joined with teeny-WEENY. When I was a boy, a WEENY was what distinguished us from the girls.
-- UKASE. Really?

GLADE to see:

-- ELM (as a three-letter answer).
-- Crossing CYST with YUCK.

In crosswordum, does Santa OFTEN laugh "OHO OHO OHO?"

U'AL have a G'AIT Sunday.

Anonymous 7:28 AM  

What @Rex said.

Mohair Sam 7:42 AM  

Any Sunday puzzle that has Bud SELIG crossing an ELM tree right smack in the middle is bound to be boring, and this sure was. What @Rex said - except I'd change easy/medium to easy/easy.

Surprised ourselves by knowing every band (although TRAIN is one for which we know no music) - which bands were new to you? Wondered some if there was a group called AIL to go with R.E.M. at 25a. And yeah, all the clues should have been punny.

Only slowdown was UKASE (learned something there) next to ISIDRO, but the crosses were easy. New word "ecdysis" - yet MOLT seemed logical, go figure.

Thinking Will gave us an easy one as a gift this Holiday season given that most folks are so busy. Not many have time to spare for things like, say, wandering off to hermitages in the woods (not pointing any fingers here).

chefbea 7:50 AM  

What a great puzzle!! Had my aha moment after I got One Direction and they were bands. Lots of bands I never heard of.

What is ual? and ant is the symbol of industry??

Isn't this the first time two women have had a Sunday puzzle?? Go Acme and Tracy!!!!

smalltowndoc 8:05 AM  

I've got a problem with 62 Across. In all of the other theme answers, the bands' names are truly single words (FUN, TRAIN, SMASHING PUMPKINS, etc.). But EAGLES are pretty much always referred to as "the" EAGLES, making that (partial) answer an outlier.

@George Barany: You never heard of Lowe's? In what corner of this world do you live?

Maruchka 8:35 AM  

Start. Stop. Walk away. Come back. Restart... Push/RUSH, oleic/OLEIN, neonatal/NEONATES. Held out for tommyROT too long. Did not know that peacock eyes word. Something new is always nice.

No groove here, though. Oh, well - not every song is jazz. Thanks, Mmes. Gray and Michaels.

AliasZ 8:41 AM  

Not having noticed the title, I solved this one as a themeless puzzle. The long answers looked kooky enough, but not recognizing seven of the 16 bands gave me little chance of finding the theme even after I read the title.

Some of the theme components really didn't sound like band names to me. But who am I to know? For all I know, NEAT IDEA, REM AIL, UTTER ROT, STAL WART, NEON ATES, ITSA GO, PRIM ROSES, INDIFFE RENT, CRY OUT, OLD CAR, EGG SON, ISAAC NEWTON, ONA TRIP, and REASON OUT could have as well been all band names. Especially UTTER ROT. All this to simply say that the theme did absolutely nothing for me.

As a themeless, it was sort-of fun and easy enough, but nothing really stood out as especially sparkling, ingenious or fun. The NE corner showed some ELEGANCE with ADAGIOS, OCELLI, and NEAT IDEA. But San ISIDRO in the SE looks more like utter desperation, rather than a word the constructresses consciously were looking for a good opportunity to use, and were glad to finally find a spot in this grid to proudly TROT out and showcase it.

Let's have a little POMP. Cheers!

Anonymous 8:45 AM  

What's the issue of the Traffic / One Dimension pairing? Life's all about the Low Spark of High Heeled Boys

Annette 8:52 AM  

A joyless exercise, approaching UTTERROT. I don't mind if a theme has been done before, but this was mostly nonsense. FALANA, OLEIN, HARTE, American ELM instead of pie, Baked ZITIand not Alaska, OHO boy AHA, all seemed stretched. Finished, thank god that's over. I think I'll redo Thursday and Friday, the best NYT has offered in months.


Steven M. O'Neill 9:18 AM  

No ? on the theme clues, but they were in italics in the desktop browser app. Perhaps those don't come through in across lite?

JR 9:22 AM  

Rex is getting very old and crusty. He just doesn't like anything. I found this enjoyable because I knew all the bands (except free) which sussed out easily with the crosses. I want to see a puzzle that Rex actually likes, or better yet, one that he comes up with.

NCA President 9:36 AM  

@chefbea: UAL = United Air Lines, and an ANT, as in the fable vis a vis the Grasshopper, was

I thought the puzzle was very easy. There were lots of bands I didn't know. My youngest is a huge One Direction fan and so I've had to listen to them for the past couple of years.

Soapbox alert:

Just an aside, and as a professional musician, I just gotta say that folks who are put out by the proximity of One D and Traffic are missing the point. Pop music, in case you missed it, is much different now that it used to be. Production is the most important part of the game now...everything from the sound of the recordings to the polish and shine of the stage shows to the beauty of the performers. With technology as it is, music can be "created" to near perfection (by humans, btw) and the actually humanity has been air-brushed out.

If you dare, watch American Idol for a while. You'll soon see that qualities needed to win that "talent contest" are a good part looks, a good part sound, and the biggest part is marketability.

This isn't to say that modern pop music is devoid of heart and soul. The One D guys still try to sing their best and the producers of pop music have honed their skills to an art...they know what sells and they know how to replicate it and they know when to change you just have to know what you're looking for.

Having listened to One D over the last couple of years, do I like their music? Do I like their production? No. It's not my cup of tea. But there is no denying the catchiness of their melodies, the very heavy groove based tracks are catchy, and the there is no denying they are beautiful, if not androgynous, boys...they fit perfect with the 12-15 female set...(just like that somewhat popular band,, did in the 60s). The Beatles, if you recall, also took some heat for their music/production and how they substituted nice vocals (like Pat Boone or Paul Anka or even Elvis) for "production value," like the mop tops and the scratchy vocals and twangy guitars. And they were hotties too.

Music is a mixed may not like all of it (Debussy notoriously walked out on concerts all the time so this is nothing new)...but sometimes you have to know what to look for in order to truly judge. Not all music and/or music production is created equally.


That said, the puzzle was lukewarm for me.

C zar 9:42 AM  

The duplicate NODS AT and A wink or a nod rankles. SW had me locked up for a while for SIRE records and sport SAC. Agree with Rex that execution of the theme was flat.

Aketi 9:42 AM  

Started this off last night with ACCRA, one of my favorite cities. The second best fish I've ever eaten was prepared in a little stand in the market. (The best was on a beach in the Philippines.) Never made it to ERITREA but did get to eat injera in Addis Ababa once. The spices were much hotter there than anywhere else I've eaten. If I felt better and my taste buds were less impaired my mouth might have watered over the notion of TAPAS followed by BOSTON CREAM pie.

Oblivious to the theme until I got to FUN MASHINGPUMPKINS. Didn't cheat wth the word checker today, despite not having much APTITUDE for remembering band names or just names in general. I even found my error with OLSON on my own.

Liked ITSAGO with NASA
@George Barany, of the two ISAACs, I prefer Asimov to NEWTON

@Lewis, love STRAYCATSPOISONTOTO. One of our no longer stray cats would love to do that to the entire canine species,

Anonymous 9:46 AM  

ESSO is not "he." Never has been. I could see if it were "egli" which used to be "he, but no longer other than in dialect. ESSO ss "it."

Ludyjynn 9:47 AM  

I liked this one a lot and had FUN figuring out all the themer bands. Esp. liked the EAGLESWINGS combo and FUNSMASHINGPUMPKINS.

FYI, the band, FUN, won two 2013 Grammy Awards, for Best New Artist and Song of the Year, "We are Young".

@ChefBea, ANTs are known for being hard working or industrious.

Learned that OCELLI are peacocks' 'eyes' and ecdysis is MOLTing. Good to know.

PRIMROSES made me smile. When my local nursery stocks them, I know Winter is waning. I never buy them at a big box like LOWES, but try to support my home town growers. BTW, initially mis-spelled it 'Loews' like the movie theaters, and got held up in the SW for a bit.

HERES to you, TG and ACME! I'm off to fry up the latkes.

Z 9:48 AM  

I smiled at ONE DIRECTION TRAFFIC because I knew it would irk Steve Winwood fans. The only band I didn't know was FREE, but I know their hit.

This was the least sloggy Sunday in quite awhile. Looking back at the grid there are many of the usual suspects, but they just didn't bug me much today. Rex is probably correct that the possibilities are endless, but that doesn't seem much of a problem to me. Over all a better than usual Sunday IMHO.

Much like FREE, I bet most of us would recognize at least one FUN chorus (starting about :52 into the video).

Nancy 9:59 AM  

So I see the first comment here from @Ken Wurman -- that it's "insulting" to put ONE DIRECTION and TRAFFIC on the same line because one is obviously so much better than the other. (I forget which one he said is better.) And I'm thinking: this has to be one of the biggest gap in wheelhouses ever, because I don't even know who ONE DIRECTION and TRAFFIC are. (You'll be thrilled to know that I've heard of THE DOORS and SMASHING PUMPKINS, but only their names. I've never heard them -- or anyone else here -- perform.) This is so much not a Nancy puzzle -- and yet it mostly presented no problem at all for me because it was so easy and all the bands came in, familiar or not. That is until I hit Natick Corner in the SW. I assume the group before SMASHING PUMPKINS (-UN) is FUN, but that leaves me with F-O-ANA for Lola's name and -OWES for the Home Depot-like store and I don't know and I don't care. (I don't care SO much, that I forgot to look at the solution before coming to the Comments section. I don't want my comment to be erased, so I'll post this first and then I'll look at the answers.) I have to admire the skill that went into creating this puzzle and I didn't hate it, since it didn't cause me any frustration. But, when you don't know BOSTON and CREAM and CHICAGO and TRAIN, et al, there are no real aha moments, either. Over to you, @OISK.

Arlene 10:03 AM  

I finished all this - no googling - and figured these were bands. I don't know bands, so this was a bit of a reach. But all's well that ends well.

kitshef 10:06 AM  

@chefbea - as in 'the grasshopper and the ant'.
Kinda dull, with the only FUN coming from the songs brought to mind by the band names. I now have Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey stuck in my head.
ONHIRE, ITSAGO and especially REMAIL are bad, but most of the fill is adequate. I guess that sums up today's puzzle - adequate.

Tita 10:06 AM  

I liked this puzzle plenty...guessed right at the theme based on the title. It was mostly easyish, but thought I might DNF in the SE.
The theme rescued me, as getting THEDOORS helped me fill the rest of that section.

Ok, some of the phrases don't pop as much as the others, but it made for a fun game to play.

37D really messed with my head...a play on a French phrase, with he French spelling of a German city, but wanting the German response...I love it! And then you tossed in the missing EAU at 91D and thought we wouldn't notice...sneaky devils!

Liked 76A...was just at the Brooklyn Art Museum, and saw lots of cuneiform writing. It has always fascinated me.
Also thought clue for ALGEBRA was brilliant.

Btw...What else could Lola FALANA have become except for a singer... What a great name...

OCELLI was my favorite learning moment of the day...did not know the word for that very specific, and very startling type of animal mimicry. Our own @JenCT could enlighten us as to whether it is the Monarch or the Spicebush Swallowtail whose caterpillar form has the most hilarious OCELLI out there.

OHO...I am friends with Acme, and yes, that does cloud my judgement, but not any more than it may occasionally cloud OFL's.

Thanks for a great start to my busy Sunday, Andrea and Ms. Gray!

mac 10:15 AM  

Good Sunday puzzle! Quick and fun, and I very strongly recognized Andrea's voice in many of of the

Isaac was Asimov for a while, but Lowes put me right. Nice words: utter rot, stalwart, ocelli, primroses.

Nancy 10:29 AM  

Just remembered to check the late comments from yesterday, which I didn't see. @Teedmn -- thanks for (along with @GILL) letting me know that you have also had a BSOD experience. (Misery loves company.) Your comment was very funny. I also commend you for doing yesterday's puzzle in 25 minutes. I never look at a clock but I just KNOW it took me significantly longer than that.

@Aketi -- Your comments on bugs and plastic surgery were priceless.

CoolPapaD 10:30 AM  

Came here after several years of inactivity to say the same as @Kenneth Wurman and @mrucker - so, so wrong it must be right! There are no bad Traffic songs - not a one! Saw Dave Mason last year - what a treat!
I only do Sundays now and haven't seen ACME in a while, but I absolutely adore her, and in my eyes she can do no wrong, and this was no exception. It was clever, fairly easy, and it started off my day with a big smile.

Roo Monster 10:34 AM  

Hey All !
This was a fun, neat puz. Don't know why all the naysayers. With a 21x21 grid, you're going to get dreck, it's inevitable. UKASE, for example, I have seen several times in the NYTXW. To me, it's a normal-ish word. And threes will be threes, whether in a SunPuz, or a daily puz. I personally think these ladies did a great job!
So there. :-)

Heard of every Band except Fun. Loved Yes when I was younger. Still like them, still have all their records up to Big Generator! Lola FALANA, nice throwback there. Funny solve-ism, wanted toxic--- for POISON at first, had in _OI___, and the old brain dyslexiced the X after the I, which gave me THE SEx for THESES! About to cry UTTER ROT!

NEAT IDEA for a puz. OFTEN SunPuzs CRY OUT YUCK, but I wasn't INDIFFERENT to this one! Not too difficult to REASON OUT, I guess my APTITUDE to ZOOM was a NOD TO doing lots of puzs!

Had titanic for AMISTAD! Wasn't Titanic James Cameron?


GILL I. 10:37 AM  

Well I found this tons more enjoyable than last weeks DRAWL y'all.
Lots of whimsy that is so typical of ACME. I don't know Tracy Gray, but I can imagine both had fun (and working hard) putting this puzzle together.
I maybe agree with our OFL that OCELLI doesn't meet the ELEGANCE standard but we have incredibly stupid answers like ACR that seem to pass muster and not an OCELLI is blinked.
CHICAGO TRAIN was the OHO for me and I had fun looking for other bands. Didn't know many of them but that just added more of a hmmmm factor in solving.
There are several San ISIDRO's around the globe. I'm more familiar with the one in Spain. The "Festival de San Isidro" is held in May. Lots of dancing, LOTS of vino and everyone eats "rosquillas" - a yummy 72A.
It's cold and windy today and I have to go out in it but I'm happy because the Sierra is being covered in snow....
Fun job Tracy and Carla.

L 11:22 AM  

Fun, very doable Sunday puzzle. The rare occasion where I figured out the theme quickly and easily filled in the rest. FUN SMASHING PUMPKINS was the cleverest of the bunch with RUSH THE DOORS close behind. The others seemed kinda random, but they still worked, so fine by me.

Alan_S. 11:24 AM  

Agreed. That was my only thought this week, along with all the other great bands that would be shamed to share the same grid with them!

Alan_S. 11:25 AM  


jberg 11:25 AM  

I love Andrea's work, so I was rooting for this puzzle -- but there were too many bands I didn't know, so it became a bit of a slog. I saw it was about bands with FUN-SMASHING PUMPKINS, but didn't know FUN, was a band, so for too long thought the theme was "a band name in there somewhere. It was finally ONE DIRECTION TRAFFIC that made me see it.

Speaking of which, since the whole idea of this theme is strange incongruities, the objections to this answer on the ground of liking one band but not the other are just irrelevant. Sort of like not liking 1A because it might encourage eating disorders. Well, not really much like that, but still silly.

NEWTON was a better answer than Asimov because a) by the latter's day, not one thought that it was wrong to disagree with Aristotle, and b) Asimov would never have used such stilted language.

When I was bout two my family went on a picnic at the Eau Claire Dells, just outside of the eponymous city. I fell off a rock in to the rapids; my mother grabbed me by my foot but couldn't pull me out, so I hung in the swirling water for about a minute until my father could scramble over and pull me out. I have no memory of the event, but still get a little nervous in small boats. Anyway, we seem to be having a lot of Wisconsin geography lately, nice to see it!

@Chefbea, I was going to remind you of Aesop, but at least 4 people have beat me to it.

kozmikvoid 11:29 AM  

Surprise, surprise...I enjoyed a puzzle that @Rex didn't. I agree that there is plenty of YUCK fill, but I felt the theme was a NEATIDEA, though perhaps not the most original. This was FUN - not great, but enjoyable. My only gripe with the theme turned out to be ill-founded. I questioned why use the "the" for THEDOORS but not the "the" for the EAGLES. Turns out the Eagles are "the"-less. Who knew? I was actually seconds away from a DNF for the first time in a while, as I completed the grid and got no pencil. Was convinced the error was somewhere in the UKASE fill until my wife walked over and quickly corrected my GOOF: ese to ASE at 101A. That's why I keep her around.

As an aside, has anyone seen a post from @RexPorker in a while? I miss his musings.

Alan_S. 11:38 AM  

Hardly a one hit wonder as the great Paul Rogers (Bad Company and much more) emerged from that band.

Alan_S. 11:50 AM  

Really?, a professional musician and you don't know the difference between art and pop trash ?

old timer 11:51 AM  

I had a miserable time with this puzzle, because I immediately wrote in "independent" where INDIFFERENT belongs. And wrote in "Kohls" where LOWES is. And knew very few of the bands. TRAFFIC of course, and THE DOORS. And fortunately I have heard of ONE DIRECTION. And Lord knows I've heard "All Right Now" by FREE about a million times. Because it has (unofficially) replaced "Come Join the Band" as Stanford's feel-good song. You'll probably hear the Stanford Band play it come New Year's Day at the Rose Bowl.

It *was* an easy puzzle once I fixed my errata. Not until then. The easiest entry: UKASES. I've always liked that word, and tend to slip it into my writing whenever possible.

Alan_S. 11:56 AM  

Really Nancy? You're that square?

Teedmn 12:00 PM  

Not an easy one for me today. This was the third puzzle I solved this morning and the first two were tough so I was expecting to breeze through this, being all warmed up as it were. Instead, I was winded, brain-wise, so 38 minutes later and much black ink expended, I finished successfully in the SW, but barely as I didn't know FUN and FALANA was the vaguest inkling.

In fact, I totally missed that each themer had TWO bands, even though the puzzle title practically slaps you in the face with it. My excuse is that I hadn't heard of TRAIN so when I got 22A, I saw CHICAGO and thought that was it. Now I'm wondering how I could have missed TRAFFIC and WINGS (love them both), or CREAM. Didn't know NO DOUBT, FREE, either.

Fatigue induced mistakes - "Titanic" before AMISTAD, ad lib before HOC, INDependENT before INDIFFERENT.

Thanks, Tracy Gray and ACME, I just wish I could have enjoyed this without @Rex's help with the theme.

Alan_S. 12:07 PM  

After reading all the comments I can't believe there are so many solvers out there who are either so old, so square, so straight or so over educated that they can't relate to the music referenced in this delightful, easy breezy puzzle. I'm over 60 and grew up with many of you. I know who you are and still can't imagine what rock (pun intended) you live under!

Andrew Morrison 12:07 PM  

Another day, another record time for me. These easy puzzles are real ego builders for me! 15 minutes? Insane! I know that's probably a dreadfully average time for the big dogs, but it sure made me feel on top of the world.

For me, the bands were the key to the quick solve. I knew all but FUN, but that filled itself on the downs. Strange how everyone has such different life experiences - I can't imagine not having at least heard of these bands, let alone not having listened to them. By my reckoning they span at least 50 years of rock/pop (i.e. Contemporary) music, from TRAFFIC to ONEDIRECTION.

Now, an opera-themed puzzle? THAT would be a struggle.....

Z 12:07 PM  

@Anon8:45 - Excellant. I wish I had said it first.

@Aketi - I am partial to fresh whitefish at just about any restaurant in Michigan's U.P. Stop by the Village Inn in St. Ignace for the planked whitefish. Fantastic every time.

@NCA PREZ - I've been guilty of this most of my life, but the tribalism surounding music is really quite amazing. Living near Ford Field here in Detroit has yielded some interesting insight. One Direction filled the place on consecutive nights with hordes of suburban tweens and their parents. The only crowd that's been bigger was when the Jehovah Witnesses had their huge conference (and those were basically the same people every day). The best day was the Saturday the JWs were at Ford Field and Jimmy Buffet was next door at Comerica. Cultural dissonance at its finest. Whatever we may think of the musical tastes of 10-16 year olds, the simple fact is that ONE DIRECTION sold more tickets each night than Jimmy Buffet or The Rolling Stones. Even if they don't speak to me, there is quality there. I'm reminded of the mental gymnastics people went through when Ryan Adams found lyrical merit in the musings of Taylor Swift. It would be interesting, too, to watch The Donald take on Zayn Malik. That's one Muslim he won't be able to keep out of the country.

Anonymous 12:12 PM  

There was a band named POISON which is arguably better known than FREE. More recent, anyway.

Virginia Lady 12:20 PM  

As a younger baby boomer with a teenager, I had heard of all the bands except Free, but remember their song. I would recommend checking out Train who have had great songs like Drops of Jupiter, Meet Virginia & Hey Soul Sister. One of my favorite lyrics is from Save me San Francisco - "I've been high, I've been low, I've been yes and I've been oh hell no", pretty much sums up a Rex review...

chefbea 12:21 PM  

Thanks everyone for explaining my questions!! Who works harder ..a bee or an ant?

RAD2626 12:27 PM  

FUN puzzle even if that was only band I did not know. Agree it was easy although I had a few stumbles. Carelessly scribbled in Titanic first. Also had the SE, so I put in SErena as the favorite in the U.S. OPEN, before the crosses got me to SEEDED. Struggled in the north for a bit with LAP DOG and ON HIRE, but stared at it long enough to make the answers appear.

Roo Monster 12:30 PM  

Some quick rockin Bands smushed
Down on her luck princess?
Skid Row Cinderella
Fist to the face?
Five Finger Death Punch Kiss
Electric pioneer's revenge?
Tesla Avenged Sevenfold
APB for a rough bunch?
Motley Crue Warrant
Royalty shackled?
Queen Alice In Chains

Cmon, everyone join in!


Benko 12:59 PM  

I'm surprised at how many people's only outlier was FREE. Although they didn't last long, their song "All Right Now" has been pretty ubiquitous on classic rock stations. And their singer, Paul Rodgers aka "The Voice", went on to bigger success with Bad Company. A family friend,since passed away, was in a band with the guys from Free in the 60s called Black Cat Bones.

Meg Greer 1:03 PM  

Easy as pie! As soon as I got STYLUS, WPM and ASAP, SMASHING PUMPKINS popped right out. PEETA has been a recurrent character in the Hunger Games since the first movie. Solved UKASE, FALANA, FINN, HARTE and GOOF with the crosses, after erasing GAFF which is a bit more slip-like to me. My biggest toughies were OCELLI and SEATAC, because musical crosses I have to bear. If you've never heard of THE DOORS, well, "This Is The End".

Paul Rodgers 1:37 PM  

Google "Free" and "Bad Company"

Aketi 1:37 PM  

Just noticied that bands were not the only two things stuck together in the puzzle, cities were too.

@leapfinger, in response to yesterday, November 14th ONATRIP to check out our 11th college. We had AMPLE time to listen to the info session, tour the campus, watch the football game, enjoy the ELEGANCE of the birds (eg the one in my profile pic) in the gardens at sunset, and stuff ourselves at Dame's Chicken and Waffles. I had that with EAU, not DRANO.

Masked and Anonymous 2:26 PM  

Thanx, @AndreaTracy darlins. M&A is not up on many of the band names that are more current than The Doors and Chicago, but a few of the newer ones at least sounded like someone who mighta performed on SNL or a talk show when I was watchin. Love most all of em, but just too many have mounted up in my limited headspace, over the years. @009: I don't recall that FREE band, either.

fave non-themer entry: ALGEBRA, which also had a clever clue, too boot. Reminded me of the old math joke:
Integral of [ dcabin/cabin] = log cabin (yo, @009! De-lighted to see the bears ain't got to U yet!)

Sometimes the punchline is: log cabin + C = houseboat, btw. And it's calculus, I reckon.

Masked & Anonymo11Us


Charles in Austin 2:27 PM  

In my opinion, Rex showed commendable restraint in his review of this puzzle, which I so thoroughly detested. Only my insane stubbornness kept me going to its bitter conclusion.

Hartley70 2:33 PM  

I really thought this was a cut above most Sundays lately. I look forward to an ACME Monday, so it was a treat to see her name today. I don't know her so I'm bias free. I notice nobody has complained that the puzzle skews old, is dated, tired, and suffers from the geriatric blahs, a common thread on this blog from kiddies in their 40's and below. That alone gives it a win in my book!

I knew "of" all the bands even if I couldn't instantly recall their music (I'm lost in the 60's for that skill) so the themes were fun to fill. I thought the cluing was light and perfect for a Sunday. I give the girls a grade of A.

Numinous 3:12 PM  

I entered ySIDRO thinking of the one in California near San Diego. But somehow PUMPKyNS just looked wrong. I blew it on FALANA. I had oSE and maybe lUN which didn't look much like a band name to me. But loLANA looked fine.

The Koln clue cracks me up; I can think of it as "No. de Cologne" and NEIN sounds like Nine. I can almost make Non de Cologne work in my head but no quite. I rode on a riverboat from Koblenz to Koln once. There certainly is a lot of EAU around there.

I knew most of the band names but none of the pairings were as interesting as STRAYCATSPOISONTOTO. Some of the cluing was pretty clever though.

Numinous 3:15 PM  

@Gil I, missing the snow in the Sierra. My family has a cabin in Pinecrest, near Dodge Ridge. The driveway is impassable when it snows.

OISK 3:26 PM  

@Nancy knows me well. I finished without much difficulty, and without much enjoyment. Most of the groups were either completely unfamiliar (One direction? Traffic?) or familiar only as names of groups I wouldn't recognize if I heard or saw them. I assume this was pleasurable for those who are fans of at least a few of the groups mentioned. That does not include me!

Nancy 4:38 PM  

@Alias Z's wonderful 8:41 am comment hadn't yet been posted when I was posting mine. But for those of you who are not rock band aficionados, you may find it -- as I did -- the blog high point of the day. I could cite some of it, but why spoil the FUN of letting you see it for yourselves. It's really funny and what makes it funny is that it's so true.

Norm 4:49 PM  

Yawn. Totally agree with Rex. This could have been a FUN (was that really a band?) puzzle had it been wackier. As it was ... not.

CLB 5:32 PM  

I don't like the clue for indifferent. You can feel very strongly and not take sides. At first I put independent and then refused to put indifferent until forced because I knew it was wrong.

Willie D 6:49 PM  

If the blogger brags about knowing Traffic, The Doors, Rush and other 70s rock band, he is deficient is forgetting Free with Paul Rodgers.

By the way, Mr. Mojo Risin' celebrated a birthday last week. Of course we all know he's not dead--just living in a Paris flat with JFK and Elvis. ;-)

Z 8:04 PM  

@Alan_S and other smartphone users - The smartphone version of blogger allows you to reply to a specific comment and have it appear directly under the comment. On every other platform your comments appear as random non sequiturs. Hence, the @nomdeblog convention when replying to others' comments.

@AllKnowersOfFree - The number of one hit wonders whose band name I don't know far out paces the count of one hit wonders whose band names I do know. The Ubiquity of The Song (pretty sure that's a Europop group) is basically irrelevant. I just recently learned the name of the group who sang The Final Countdown because they're appearing in an insurance ad.

@Alias Z - I found 7 bands named ROT, but none known as "Utter Rot." I am disappointed that Jungle ROT chose not to honor its cheesehead roots and go with Udder Rot.

Anonymous 10:51 PM  

Whenever I read a poster making the point about today's bands being trash in relationship to the bands they grew up with, I read it as "I am really old and crotchety". Unless you're a teenager, you're not supposed to like pop music. That's the whole point of it.

Now go drink your Metamucil and get ready for your 5pm dinner reservation.

Geometricus 12:05 AM  

@M&A, love your calculus joke. Looks like Andrea had a word left over from her last puzzle in the NYT back in early November (with Loren Muse Smith). Remember the BobbyTrap puzzle? As a math teacher, I've never thought of algeBRA as a type of BRA (wonder, push-up, training -- and Alge? Is that what Ariel wears when her clam-bra is being ... de-barnacled?)

Anonymous 5:20 PM  


Anonymous 11:40 AM  

What kind of cave or bubble do you live in? Even deaf people have heard of the Eagles, the Doors, Rush, Chicago... wow.

rondo 12:54 PM  

Despite what OFL said, I liked this puz a lot. This is the first Sun-puz in ages that I actually enjoyed completing right to the very end. I recognized all the bands, older and newer, and didn’t mind who (where was The Who?) got stuck with whom (Guess Who?). Can’t believe all those who didn’t know FREE, who evolved into Bad Company. And how can I not like a puz with my wife’s name in it?

@ANON B 1:13 AM, you must be a real hoot in conversation or at a party. Do adults watch these bands? First of all you don’t just watch bands, you listen, you move to the music, let your mind run FREE, etc. Adults? These bands range from the 1960s to the 2010s; boomers to current kids; pop to heavy metal, I’m 60 and have heard of, and heard all of them. What kind of vacuum do you live in ANON B?

OLGA Kurylenko is my favorite Bond girl of the Daniel Craig era. Before LEAH Remini was a yeah baby she made an appearance on “Cheers” as one of Carla’s kids. One-time yeah baby Lola FALANA has one of those perfect xword names. I will confer yeah baby status on the OLSEN twins even though they try so hard not to look it; they are naturally good looking.

My feelings toward this puz are not INDIFFERENT – it’s a NEATIDEA and I really liked it!

spacecraft 1:18 PM  

@Geprge Baranay: I too noticed that Asimov fits the space (SPACE, get it?), and didn't know, for a while, which name would work. I'm a huge fan of both.

So, TRAIN is the name of a band?? I started out expecting two band names to dovetail in each theme answer, but when "TRAIN" went in on crosses I was disappointed. Then later, with entries like EAGLESWINGS and RUSHTHEDOORS it seemed there WERE two after all. But FUN??? Seriously? There's a band called "FUN?" You have got to be kidding me.

Just as awkward was trying to fill the fill. Example: "Favored at the 96-down, say." Well, I'm thinking that OTHER USOPEN, the golf one, where you might get a favorite with the bookies, but there's no such thing as "SEEDED." But then I remembered that tennis has a copycat-named event. PGA should have copyrighted the name. Now we have confusion! There's more: REMAIL is legit but forced, and WEENY?? YUCK. And what in the world is "Sport-UTE??" Is this supposed to be, like, a SUV? God, I hope not. CRY and REASON double up OUT.

Writeovers: "Not taking sides" could easily mean INDependENT, especially in political affiliation, and in the current electioneering atmosphere that's what came to me first. Also tsPS before CUPS and aHa for OHO.

But it wasn't all UTTERROT. I'm surprised OFL never heard of FREE; their "All Right Now" remains a rock classic. One-hit wonders, maybe, but what a hit! Theme was a NEATIDEA. Overall: C.

Burma Shave 2:26 PM  


the CINEMA to OFTEN have the OLSENs do nude SCENEs.
EAU those Beantown boys will RUSHTHEDOORS
as the OLSENs make all BOSTONCREAM their jeans.


rain forest 3:43 PM  

From the giveaway title through the band names, this was a very easy Sunday. I liked most of it, though I never heard of FUN or FREE, but I know the song.

I liked TRAIN's "Drops of Jupiter" from the last year ever of decent music.

A classic ACME puzzle which flew by quickly. Okay by me.

AnonymousPVX 4:12 PM  

Not sure why the umbrage at the onedirectiontraffic mashup solve. This is a crossword blog and not a band rating blog.

I agree that no one should be complaining that they never heard of these groups. Most were monster bands with multiple huge hits. A good crossword solver should have knowledge in various areas. Complaining that you have never heard of these bands is a bit shocking. What rock have you been living under, indeed.

leftcoastTAM 6:35 PM  

This was a good all-around Sunday solve for me. It took some walking away to ROCK (bands) myself out of some ruts, but I finally fell together.

BTW, I'm on PST and syndicated, so my posting time is/seems a bit late.

Cathy 7:00 PM  

Decent puzzle. Have always said THE EAGLES. Knew the bands except for FUN. I often wonder, when a not so known artist/band gets AMPLE googles, do they know? Are their AGTS RUSHing to the phones saying we got 500 hits today?!!
Funny story. While working at a hotel in Vegas, these 4 guys walked out of the employees OTIS elevator (whoops, no Otis today, or for a long time actually). This was a secured floor with the high roller suites. They said they were ONE DIRECTION. Said you need to take the guest elevators, they go in both directions. I kid you not. English accents, wasn't sure if lifts go one way. So I knew ONE DIRECTION, and TRAFFIC was a gimme.

All right now!

Anonymous 11:44 PM  

Cute clues for 27D, 37 D. This puzzle needed lots more clues like these.

I agree that mating ONEDIRECTION to TRAFFIC is artistically disturbing. But the bigger problems are, first, that nobody ever says this (it's one-way traffic, right?) and second, this clue is utterly uninspired. The theme clues, at least, need a little spark, even if it's low.

The musical disputes sucked all the air out of the room, I guess, because only Rex (and now me) noted the inclusion of the egregious UTAHAN. In this era of personal pronoun preferences, this Michigander hopes we can also agree that Utahns have the right to tell us who they are, the opinions of east coast editors notwithstanding.

Anonymous 1:42 PM  

Sport-ute? Pretty sporty for the Times.

graphicanalysis 9:07 PM  

Only got to this today, a week and a half late, enjoyed that both "the" Eagles and Wings are bands, and that both Free (apparently a band) and Poison (think hair from 80s) are bands. I am sorry to report it was my knowledge of Poison that allowed me to get the clue. In short, this puzzle made me laugh.

Swagomatic 12:34 PM  

Nope, it's Eagles with no "the."

wpg alien 12:53 PM  

United air lines, busy as an ant-i.e industrious

Bradford Caslon 8:44 PM  

Right on, Alan!

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