Grassy surface / FRI 1-1-16 / 2009 million-selling Justin Bieber release / First bishop of Paris / Prominent feature of dubstep music / Goddess who caused Trojan women to riot in "Aeneid"

Friday, January 1, 2016

Constructor: David Steinberg

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: none  

Notable Crosswordese:  
  • ELOI (7D: "The Time Machine People")
  • ENIAC (28D: Historic computer)
  • OTOE (48D: Winnebago relative)
Notable Recent Pop Culture :
  • Justin Bieber's "MY WORLD"
  • LCD Soundsystem
Word of the Day: "MY WORLD" (11D: 2009 million-selling Justin Bieber release) —
My World is the debut extended play (EP) by Canadian recording artist Justin Bieber. It was released on 17 November 2009, by Island Records. The album is considered the first half of a two-piece project, later being supplemented by his debut studio album My World 2.0 (2010). After signing a recording contract in light of his growing popularity on YouTube, Bieber worked with collaborators including his mentor Usher, in addition to producers Tricky Stewart, The-Dream, and Midi Mafia. Its music incorporates pop and R&B styles, and lyrically discusses teen romance and coming of age situations. (wikipedia)
• • •

I'm trying to solve and blog and watch "After the Thin Man" (1936) on TCM, all at the same time. Multi-tasking generally means doing many things suboptimally, but a. I somehow still managed to crush this puzzle, and b. I had the delightfully bizarre experience of hitting the clue 45D: Gumshoe Charles (NORA) just as said gumshoe was lighting up my TV screen. And here I thought ASTA got all the crossword action. Unexpected! This movie takes place on New Year's Eve. Seems like people partied way harder in 1936. Nick just finished accidentally making out with a lovely woman *not* named NORA. I guess it was dark. See, trying to blog and watch at the same time means I keep missing things. Ugh. OK, just blogging now—this grid looks great, but somehow was not that exciting to solve. Maybe the cluing was just too straightforward. After yesterday's lively, current, playful cluing, today's seems quite plain. But this is a matter of taste. The grid really is nicely done, if far far too easy to move through. I thought that big, open center was going to cause trouble, but that turned out being the easiest part of all.

[Happy New Year]

I had some trouble getting started. BEAT for BASS (1A: Prominent feature of dubstep music), SEEMED for SEEN AS (4D: Perceived to be), ERIS for IRIS (24A: Goddess who caused the Trojan women to riot in the "Aeneid"), ST. PARIS for ST. DENIS (that last one was just stupid—"Paris" is in the dang clue) (3D: First bishop of Paris). After that corner was done—whoosh, off I went. Where I pulled SWARD from I don't know, but I pulled it (13D: Grassy surface). Thought there might be ALGAE on the slide instead of an AMEBA (26D: Slide presentation?), and needed 8/9 of POLE DANCE to bring it down (that first ninth was the issue) (38A: Provocative performance). The one really surprising thing in the grid was the clue on LCD (54A: Rock's ___ Soundsystem). I like them quite a bit, but don't think of them as crossword-famous, whatever that means. Once I HASHED out ORISON, the rest of the puzzle (i.e. the SE corner) was a snap.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


jae 12:06 AM  

Happy New Year everyone. Easy-medium for me.

Erasures: Purée before PASTE ( DENALI fixed that), @Rex SEEmed before SEEN AS, and adult before RIPEN.

After doing 3/4 of the Tausig quartet this seemed anticlimactic.

Interesting mix of good (WHEN IM SIXTY FOUR, LOU REED) and not so good (MY WORLD) rock and roll with a smattering of classic crosswordese (ETE, ORISON, ETAS, ENS and what @Rex listed). Kinda liked it.

Z 12:11 AM  

24 minutes while watching Drunk History. Easy peasy. Ewe before YEW, fooled by the Middle East clue and the ice cream clue, so took a little extra to suss those out, otherwise a pretty straightforward solve.

Happy New Year everyone.

Anonymous 12:20 AM  

While I knew enough not to commit to Nick Charles, there's no way Nora was a gumshoe. Asta sniffed out more crooks than did Nora.

ENS? 1:14 AM  

"Sinner's heart" is ENS. Can somebody explain?

My best guess is that the "heart," or three middle letters, of the word sinner's is NNE. Which is 1 E and 2 N's. Or E,N'S. ENS.

That would be the worst clue/answer I've come across, so I'm sure I'm missing the real explanation.

Thanks and Happy New Year.

RT 1:18 AM  

Okay - can someone chime in on the 24 across cluing/answer - because it seems like there is an error:

Eris - is the goddess of discord - and is the source of the legend given in the cluing. (It also just so happens that she's a big feature of the _Illuminatus! Trilogy_ worth the read if you're into science fiction.)

Iris - is "the goddess of the rainbow, the messenger of the Olympian gods. She was often represented as the handmaiden and personal messenger of Hera. Iris was a goddess of sea and sky"

I can find no effective mention from any source where Eris can be substituted for Iris. Especially considering that they have different parents in most of the ancient text where both show up.

I'm only ranting because I spent quite a bit of time with 1D as "brownee" thinking that there was some Old English spelling of the standard dessert that we all know and love.

chefwen 1:42 AM  

New Years Resolution #42 - Stop cowering in fear upon seeing David Steinberg's name in the header. This was fun!

Love beads on top of pole dance struck me as funny. I have no idea why.

Not one write over, Whoo Hoo!

Happy New Year!

Max 1:51 AM  

LCD Soundsystem not generally considered a rock band.

Anoa Bob 2:22 AM  

The theme is obviously the menu for a New Year's Day feast starting with Cow LIP BRAISED to perfection, followed by a choice of RICE PILAF or a medley of RISOTTO and TOMATO PASTE ROUX, and topped off with MRS Fields' dinner ROLLS. Dessert is a HASHED BROWNIE guaranteed to make you put on your LOVE BEADS and do a POLE DANCE.

Dolgo 4:04 AM  

Gee, I was watching the Thin Man movies, too, or else I would have not gotten that clue so easily! But a lot of the rest of the puzzle was pretty easy, especially for a Friday. And,if you watched all those TCM films tonight, you would know that Nora helps Nick often. BTW, I'm proud of you for getting "fclef," Rex, or at least not griping about the clue being unfair!

Karl 5:03 AM  

I notice that it has been a long time since I have seen AMEBA with an O (AMOEBA. This is the only spelling I learned when I was taking biology many years ago. Is it now an obscure spelling?

George Barany 6:04 AM  

So nice to see the New Year rung in by my friend @David Steinberg, who--we need to keep reminding ourselves--is still a teenager. Thus, it was a special delight to learn that WHEN_I'M_SIXTYFOUR was written by @Paul McCartney when he was still a teenager.

64 is a perfect square, a perfect cube, and two raised to a perfect number power! Read @David's constructor notes here for the inside story about how this puzzle was created, and the fact that he had to consult with his parents to validate the crossword-worthiness of the Beatles song as a spanning entry. OTOH, I was unable to locate any teenage consultants to validate the crossword-worthiness of MY_WORLD.

A little over a year ago, @David and I were collaborating on a puzzle which required us to clue the word ABOUT; David insisted on referring to the @Meghan Trainor hit All About That 1-Across (try the link; it's not what you think). Another song I had never heard of, but now one of my favorites.

And on that merry note, Happy New Year to all in @Rex-land, from the Land of 10,000 Beers.

Rex Parker 7:48 AM  


You are correct (re: [Sinner's heart] = ENS). That kind of cluing is common, and in fact we had an entire theme built around it just this past Sunday.


Anonymous 8:10 AM  

Got the middle section right away, followed by the bottom and then the top. Glad it wasn't harder. New Year's Eve, and all that.

Best wishes to everyone for a happy and healthy 2016.


zac 8:20 AM  

ENS as the plural of EN, or how you say the letter N.

prandolph 8:28 AM  

Easy medium puzzle. i think the phrase "easy peasy" should be outlawed.

I also was watchin The Thin Man movies last night, the first one ws very nice.

Happy New Year solving puzzles.

Loren Muse Smith 8:29 AM  

David – always a pleasure. I cannot imagine filling a themeless grid and then expertly tweaking places you're not happy with. I've been known to do a happy dance when "eelers" fit somewhere.

I, too, fell into the "ewe" trap, but WVA made that very short-lived. My goof was "golden" before WALDEN. Wasn't thinking author, eau or otherwise, but rather a place where Fonda did his honey. Dumb. LOU "Rawl" was dumber.

My "sauce thickener" – a couple of tablespoons of cornstarch added to my chili, surreptitiously whisked whilst my family argues about where to put the Christmas tree. ROUX schmoux. And I don't even really know what Swiss steak is, let alone that it's BRAISED. I think I would just throw some cornstarch on it, LAMINATE it, and call it a day.

Don't we all have a POLE DANCE, LOVE BEADS, SHAME-FACED story? There was this one time in Innsbruck…

Happy New Year, everyone! How fun to have the kids home from college and how funner to look forward to the FAREWELLS when they drive back to college.

WVA/coal. Hmm. My son is about to graduate from WVU with a degree in petroleum/natural gas engineering. Talk about your hot-button. Someone find him a job, will ya? I'll send you some chili.

It gets worse, though. My daughter is going to go to vet school – (Gareth, she still has lots of questions but doesn't want to bother you) and is volunteering in an animal shelter at Pitt. So there's this pig who has shown up– a male pig inexplicably named Coco (my avatar) –and has been put in with all the dogs Apparently he's extremely smart and quite miserable. So she's petitioning us to adopt this guy. To build a pen and make him a pet. She say's he loves to receive soft new blankets and can BRAISE a mean swiss steak.

Hey, Rex – I've really, really enjoyed having the time to participate here over my break, and I appreciate that the posts have been approved more often during the day. Thanks again for all the time and effort you put into this place.

Z 8:44 AM  

@ENS? - Too elaborate further, the clue should be understood as "the heart of 'sinner'" (note the apostrophe's placement), making it the two ENS in siNNer.

@RT - I popped "Iris Aeneid" into the search engine and got lots of hits. even makes mention of it.

I finally did BT's fourth puzzle. FYI, Rex's link works, but as of 8:30 Friday morning there is no link on Buzzfeed's usual page list of puzzles. I've noticed this same oversight before. The puzzles at BF have been fun, if a little overly testosteroned at times. It's too bad that a digital native site like Buzzfeed can't do simple things consistently correctly.

puzzlecrone 9:08 AM  

Puzzle Crone here: Eris is correct. Iris is much too nice.

Nancy 9:31 AM  

@R -- I also thought 24A was eRIS, but had to change it because of BROWNeE. Unlike you, I just assumed I was wrong and that this was IRIS's one and only foray into mischief-making.

@Anon (12:20 am) -- Loved your NORA comment. I had sort of the same reaction you did.

I found this medium, and needed to change some of my early answers to complete. I had LACE before LASH at 47D; LIMOS before ROLLS at 33D; RANT before VENT at 9D; and MY WORDS before MY WORLD at 11D. The crosses I already had at 20A kept me from putting in WHEN I fall in love, instead of WHEN I'M SIXTY-FOUR.

When I first heard that song back in the day, 64 seemed really, really old to me. Just as it obviously did to Paul. Sigh.

chefbea 9:40 AM  

Fun puzzle...I'm stuffed just by writing all the foods...Mrs. Fields,Rice pilaf, swiss steak,risotto, and a brownie with ice cream on top...and then some Bordeaux wine...almost forgot the ketchup!!!

Tita 9:42 AM  

Easy for me too...finished in one sitting. Plenty of surprising see, plenty of cheater squares, plenty of 3rd grade titters, but all made up for by the contrite ORISON given near the end.

Off to playing tourist in the city with our tourist friends...

Happy New Year!

Nancy 9:44 AM  

@Diana WIL (from last night, 11:30ish) -- I think you're new to this blog, or at least to commenting on it, but for my money, your post last night was one of the wisest PERSONAL OPINIONs I've ever read here. Don't miss it, everyone. (Especially you, OISK.) All I can say is "Amen."

Ludyjynn 9:58 AM  

TOMATO PASTE was very timely as the NY Times Business Section article just this week focused on the Heinz takeover/selloff by Warren Buffett and its effect on the large Canadian tomato processing plant/workers. Learned an interesting fact that Canadian regulations require ketchup be made from tomatoes and NOT from paste. So the clue should have read "US ketchup base", IMHOPINION.

Female flower children who wore LOVE BEADS were unlikely to have worn BRAs. So I appreciated the APTNESS of the clue and the juxtaposition of all three answers in the grid.
Coincidence? I think not.

@Karl, hand up for wanting my AMOEBA with the O, thank you very much.

Could have done without POLEDANCE, a rather SOUL-less display.

This puzzle's food-centric mini theme is making me hungry. Think I'll pour a mimosa and cook up some brunch.

Thanks, DS and WS.

leah712 10:05 AM  

Okay, I'm not exactly a newbie,but I swear I have never seen ORISON before. Never ever. Had to run the alphabet to get it, and now I have "Ave Maria" stuck in my head.

mac 10:21 AM  

Easy-medium to me, and a decent Friday.

No idea why, but "when I'm sixty-four" came to me without crosses, and the roux followed. Was stuck with limo for a while, but it worked out. Learned "sward", nice word.

Best wishes for the new year to all you Rexites, and Rex and family.

Mohair Sam 10:37 AM  

Another fun Steinberg, played easy/medium here. Absolutely loved the clue for ROLLS (Big cheese wheel). Interesting factoid about an odd song, btw.

Lousy bowl game led me to join @Rex and others here at TMC and "The Thin Man" series. Hadn't seen the films in years. Fun to see NORA instead of the cruciverbalist's best friend Asta in today's puzzle. Learned from Robert Osborne that Myrna Loy (NORA) was never nominated for an Oscar - unreal, she was great.

Hand up with the "ewe" crowd. But I'll bet I'm alone in cleverly counting 18 letters in "Magical Mystery Tour" and realizing that it gets down to 15 letters if you "take 'you' away" as the song says. . . (Lady Mohair will be laughing at me for about a week). But hey, it's a Friday, and it's a Steinberg, and "Magical Mystery" sounds sixteenish. No?

NCA President 10:37 AM  

This one was relatively easy for me. I also had ewe for YEW, drop for BASS, taro for ROUX, and my personal favorite goLDENPOND...I'm pretty sure there was a cabin in that movie. I think.

FCLEF...if you're not a musician, that's just what's commonly (and almost exclusively) known as the bass clef. The treble clef, OTOH, is a G-clef. The history of those names go back a long time. What's funny is that when I saw that clue and answer, I had my suspicions about who the constructor was. I was not wrong.

Overall, nice puzzle. Fairly straight ahead, no yeah, success.

Hartley70 10:46 AM  

This was an easy/medium but most enjoyable Friday. Thanks DS! I had never heard of SWARD or LCD Soundsystem. Everything else was familiar, okay maybe not IRIS/eRIS, but it was inventively clued. My last entry was the RICEPILAF/AMEBA cross and I loved it. Just good fun from top to bottom!

Anonymous 10:54 AM  

I don't get the rice pilaf answer.

Anonymous 10:59 AM  

@Nancy, the occasional typo is one of the hazards to typing in your own commenting name. @Diana has commented here before intermittently, but has previously signed in as @Diana LIW, which was abbrev for Lady in Waiting. I assumed she picked that because (as she has stated) she does the puzzles in syndication, but I also wondered whether she might be making a double play and also concurrently have a RISOTTO in the oven.


Anonymous 11:01 AM  

Lucky Jim is a hilarious, hilarious book. Enjoyed seeing it in the grid.

Bob Kerfuffle 11:07 AM  

Puzzle gets a couple of extra points from me for the symmetric placement of 18 D, RIM, and 42 D, LIP, both clued as "Edge."

Hand up for ERIS >> IRIS. Thanks, @Z, for researching the matter.

Happy New Year!

Teedmn 11:38 AM  

PB1 smooth from David Steinberg - nice. I had a few writeovers; totally ignoring the ? at the end of 33D's clue, I put in edamS for Big cheese wheels? Sheesh. And my ignorance of the Aeneid let me put in eRoS at 24A because who else would have the Trojan women rioting than the god of amor? And my big source of coal was temporarily tVA (sorry @LMS) but I couldn't make sense of Justin Bieber's album "MY tORus" so that got changed :-).

I liked seeing the SWARD SWERVE, the BASS BROWNIE base, and the POETIC POLE DANCE cross.

And I agree with @Nancy that @Diana WIL's post yesterday explains for me why current pop culture is less accessible than the older references. That said, I was mixing up in my head LCD Soundsystem with Dub Narcotic Sound System (possibly even more obscure than the LCD version), and I have to wonder if I'm the only one here who has heard of the Halo Benders?

Happy New Year all.

Paul Johnson 11:39 AM  

Had to look up MYWORLD which let me know it went platinum. So I figured I'd at least sample something that sold so many copies. Wow. Truly awful "music". Turns out I haven't missed a thing.

cwf 11:40 AM  

There's a reason @rex didn't have his usual list of three and four letter crossword drek: there really isn't any here. It's all glue-free substance. Well, maybe NLEAST. FCLEF for Bass Clef is new to me. The cluing was witty; personal fave was "One side of the Mideast".

Paul Johnson 11:42 AM  

I should I add, loved the WHENIMSIXTYFOUR nugget. Prescient. Now if only Paul was currently 64 and not 72. Here's to that musical genius. And btw Justin Bieber, you're no Paul McCartney.

old timer 11:42 AM  

AMEBA, amoeba, subpena, subpoena, let's call the whole thing off. Lots of words have varied between the original oe spelling and the simple "e" spelling.

It took only the FOUR to get Sir Paul's song. I was decades away from that age when it came out. Decades away when my wife and I joked about someday having grandchildren named Vera, Chuck, and Dave. And now we have three grandchildren, but our daughters, obstinately, did not choose any of those names. Indeed, I don't think any kids are named Vera or Chuck anymore.

Fun puzzle. I was stuck for a long time because I put LIP up top where RIM is. Knew it had to be wrong since duplicates are not allowed. Finally with Google help replaced "Eris" with IRIS, "tinhorn" with AIRHORN, got BROWNIE, and completed the puzzle. But BROWNIE is not the "base" of any ice cream. The base is whatever mixture of milk, cream, or other fats you start with.

Gotta say, STDENIS is a gimme for anyone who has studied a map of Paris. Rue St-Denis is one of the two straight Roman roads leading north from the Seine. It angles eventually to take you to the place the good saint is buried. (The other, Rue St-Martin, becomes Rue St-Jacques on the other side of the Seine, and is so named because if you followed it all the way South, you would eventually cross into Spain and can continue all the way to Santiago de Compostela -- Santiago being the Spanish name for St-Jacques, or St James in English).

Roo Monster 11:57 AM  

Hey All !
Don't know why this puz was difficult for me. New Year's party hangover? (Not really hung over, but I usually go to bed about 7pm [start work at 4am] so maybe staying up past midnight has something to do with it!)

Agree that the middle stack seemed easy. Did online today and did make use of Check Puz feature... S center was a bear. ORISON a WOE, AMIS also. Bookended by OTOH, OTOE. And couldn't hash out HASHED fpr some reason.

Was hoping for a New Year's Day tie in somehow, but no. For me, a typical, but slightly easier DS puz. At least I made it in puz! (In French!)


Andrew Heinegg 11:59 AM  

Happy New Year all, even if it has always struck me as a 'artificial' holiday; It was easy but fun too; My only writeovers were swale for 13d and, thinking far too fresh for processed foods, ripe tomatos (incorrect spelling of the plural) for 50a. Perhaps Mr. Shortz thought it would be a good idea to get the new year started with a pleasant and easy go so that the solvers could get started on breaking the resolutions just made!

kozmikvoid 12:01 PM  

Very tough for me, but it could be due the minimal sleep time and maximal drinking. Got most of the long crosses pretty easily (for those asking, RICEPILAF is clued as a side dish for Middle Eastern cuisine). Also had ewe before YEW, but figured it out pretty quickly. I spent half my solve time trying to get ORISON. First I was convinced the cross was AMeS, then AMoS, then AMeS again. Wasn't sure whether it was LASH or LAtH. Felt pretty good about NORA and OTOE but even started questioning those when the middle didn't fit. ORISON and the happy pencil means I'm batting 1.000 for 2016.

Anonymous 12:05 PM  

I share diana wil's frustration in not knowing the new cultural references while being Familiar with generations of older cultural info. But I fear it is a function of age. The younger amongst us seem to have knowledge of the new. As far as using the term old, my mom always introduced a friend as one of longstanding rather than using the term old.

Chuck McGregor 12:10 PM  

Happy New Year To All!

@Diana,WIL 11:21 PM (yesterday):

“Years ago, in the not-so distant past, we had 3 TV channels, land-line telephones, and letters.

“Now, we have 700-plus TV channels, Smart/Stupid/Land/I?, and phone of the day phones. ‘Social Media’ has us in touch with a few thousand people we'll never meet. All of these outlets give us news of music/shows/news/celebrities/reality people, and various variations.

“In other words, we used to have a common culture. We now have a jillion possibilities. It's just too much to expect the average (or even uncommon "puzzler person") to keep track of.”

She asked for a response to her most excellent (trivia: whom is known for saying that? Hint: SNL) post. After penning the following I realized it has (spoiler alert) been said more than a few times before in many ways. That said, here’s my spin on what she said, not having read any others as yet:

I would characterize what she said was saying as we used to be exposed to more limited cultures [sic] or, more generally, simply far less information. At its core the communication of information has 3 parts: a sender, a path, and a receiver. While the number of senders (i.e. humans, potential senders equaling the number of receivers minus 1), has roughly doubled in the past 50 years or so, the number of potential communication paths between them has easily grown by several orders of magnitude. For the math challenged, an order of magnitude means either ten times or one tenth. So, TV channels “paths” going from 3 to say 300 (about what my provider could send to me) would be two orders of magnitude or 100 times more channels. That equates to 100 times more sources (senders) of information (ignoring that the information itself originated from multiple senders), like the difference between 1 book and 100 books.

Think of it this way. How many people could one send a Christmas card to in 1950? How many today? The answers would around tens then and millions, even billions, today due to the number of communication paths available to receive it as opposed to the one communication path people invariably used to use: the “old” Post Office. If I say this post is a Christmas card to all who read it (and let it be so), how many have I sent it to?

Just as solvers have far more information readily available, so do crossword puzzle constructors. However, is it the latter’s job to be “fair” in picking answers that are coincident with a solver’s choice of information to know amongst the glut available? Is that a requirement for Jeopardy clues/answers where, unlike doing daily crosswords, real money is involved in knowing the answers? Do contestants (or viewers) cry foul when they ask for some English king or, say, some actor they have never heard of portraying same in a 2014 movie? The information for either is now instantly available to most everyone in the world. Therefore which one is more “fair” to ask for? Should I be reading current movie reviews, where said actor may likely be mentioned, instead of reading “A History of the World in 100 Objects” by my namesake Neil MacGregor, where said English king may likely be mentioned (further on than I’ve read so far – it’s a loooong but fascinating book)? If I wanted to win money on Jeopardy or always successfully finish crossword puzzles (or both) I’d have needed to do both.

Of course, the big elephant in the room is the time available to do both. I don’t have it, so I’ll likely fail on at least one of those questions. However, I really can’t and won’t say one or the other was an unfair question to ask because of that.


Nigelily 12:20 PM  

A momentous day for me in that I finally remembered ELOI after seeing it in about 50 puzzles. A pretty easy puzzle, except that I entered in WHENIMSIXTYFive instead of SIXTYFOUR, which caused some problems up in the NE corner until I figured out my mistake. I didn't know ORISON or NORA so had to guess (correctly) at the cross.

Aketi 12:27 PM  

A few people used AIRHORNs last night to say their FAREWELLS to 2016 which were loud enough to wake me up to greet the New Year, I still managed to get up early enough this morning to go to 7:00 am Brazilian Jiu Jitsu lab, but not early enough to eat breakfast. I should have eaten some ROLLS before ROLLIng with the guys.

@Anoa Bob and @Chefbea, your comments about all the food references have made me ravenous. So I'm abandoning my resolution to eat less within half a day of entering the New Year.

The juxtaposition of SHAMEfACED with HALOED seems to be appropriate fir New Year's resolutions. Don't we al, want to drop the memories of things we did that made us SHAMEFACED last year and envision the good deeds that we intend to do this year that will make us worthy of being HALOED?

Ludyjynn 12:31 PM  

My bad. I just re-read the article about the Leamington, Ontario tomato plant and Canadian law prohibits tomato JUICE from being made with TOMATO PASTE, not ketchup, as I erroneously wrote in my earlier post. So the clue is correct as it stands. My first of many errors to come in 2016! But since I have now consumed my first mimosa of the year, I don't feel any pain.

Bronxdoc 12:31 PM  

Mideast SIDE dish

Lewis 12:33 PM  

Loved this puzzle. For some it may have been easy, for others, difficult or impossible, but for me, it was just right, one of those where the Red Sea begins to open and answers ping again and again -- at just the right pace. Not frustratingly slow or boringly fast. And there was so much to like. Clues for ETE, WARS, ROLLS, RICEPILAF. Interesting answers: AIRHORN, RISOTTO, SHAMEFACED, LOVEBIRDS, HASHED.

Even though the BASS is high and RITE is left, this puzzle was, I repeat, just right for me, an excellent Friday. Perfect start to the puzzle year!

Chuck McGregor 12:44 PM  

The link @LMS posted yesterday prompts some thoughts for the new year based on the reason I frequent @Rex.

What fascinates me is the widely varied comments, associations, reactions, et al that can be elicited from the same clue and/or its answer. This answers the question of what is “correct” about either. Nothing. The relationships, as it were, people have with a particular word and/or clue often provide a wide variety of “correct” definitions, usages. and contexts, (albeit some bordering the outrageous) . Indeed even coincident thoughts are often colorfully varied.

In other words this blog is a good example of what Mr. Pinker discusses, but often taken, usually quite humorously, to another level in the “abuse” of prescriptive correctness or any other form of language correctness.

In a more down-to-earth view:
Certainly the regular commentarial here seems to be largely a bunch of kids at heart, the playthings being words. The “game” is to express how these words we are presented each day have affected us. This is done emotionally, intellectually, and humorously. Sometimes all three at once. Also from eloquently to farcically; from happily to angrily; from objectively to often very subjectively.

We have both rule and grammar, and the more general language mavens, but overall we have word and language lovers. Also we have very smart ones, smart because you are far more often smart enough to laugh at yourselves than others (if ever the latter). To me, that equates to both intellectual and social intelligence.

I, too, am such a lover and what’s not to like about keeping company with such a group such a this?

So, y’all was a daily treat that can’t be beat. Ayah, I hopes to see ya herebouts for 2016!

(Or, if you will: To read the posts from all of you was a daily treat that could not be surpassed. Yes, I hope to see all of you here on this blog during 2016!...Nah!)


Anonymous 1:02 PM  

Anon 10:54 - Rice Pilaf is a side dish of Mideast origin. Torture that sentence into the clue, and you've got it.

Z 1:02 PM  

Hey! Who stole my "Wikipedia." Easy peasy. It was @prandolph. FWIW - I generally use "easy peasy" to mean easier than just "easy." Imagine a muse in Innsbruck.

@Anon10:54 - "Side" is often used to mean "side dish," making the clue, "One side (dish) of the Middle East."

@Bob Kerfuffle - I'm always half hopeful that an actual error has been uncovered when I follow up on a "Shortz is wrong" claim. So, my pleasure.

@teedmn - Pretty sure My Torus will be Bieber's 2016 release, sponsored by fellow Canadian institution Tim Horton's.

Idle curiosity - Do you say SWARD like you say "sword" or like you say "swaddling?"

svl 1:26 PM  

Recovering Classics major here: IRIS is the correct answer for 24A. She's the goddess of the rainbow, but also serves as Juno's personal messenger. Juno (who has a serious grudge against the Trojans for a few reasons) sends her down to Earth to stir up trouble in the exiled Trojan camp.

Carola 1:39 PM  

Easy-medium here. I found it to lean a little more toward BRAISED Swiss steak than sparkling Champagne on the Steinberg verve-meter, but there were some bright nuggets. Like @loren, I loved SHAMEFACED terminating in POLEDANCE. Crosswordese or not, I always love seeing the POETIC ORISONS*. And SWARD is a fond reminder of learning crossword essentials at my Dad's knee.

*From Shakespeare:
Juliet: For I have need of many orisons/ To move the heavens to smile upon my state.
Hamlet: The fair Ophelia! - Nymph, in thy orisons/ Be all my sins remembered.

@Anoa Bob, I loved your menu!

Wileyfex 1:39 PM  

Anonymous: Rice pilaf is a dish that might accompany your meal in West Asia, a.k.a. the Middle East.

GR 2:20 PM  

@Bob Kerfuffle et al - Seems like a lot of people had ERIS before IRIS. (Obmetoo: Me, too.) Clearly great minds think alike.

Tried FOOTFALLS (??) before FAREWELLS if that means anything.
Had to go to another computer to submit this - sorry Rex if you got like 5 copies of the first attempt.
Happy new year to all and hopefully we can all say that again next year.

Charles Flaster 3:09 PM  

Late entry. Loved this one and EZ.
Clever cluing with upper left being last to go.
Should have known ST DENIS!
Thanks DS and HNY to all.

the redanman 3:16 PM  

Of course it was easy, I finished, no cheating of any kind.

Bonne Année a tout ici

Numinous 3:48 PM  

I've always been a bit superstitious, feeling that what occurrs on New Years Day is some sort of indication of how the coming year will be. I was very happy to see David's puzzle today.. I was also surprised by how easy it was. I groaned, trying to find a toehold but ELOI, SWARD, CRED and NL EAST. Got me going. I had a few initial thoughts which proved correct even though I didn't enter them at the time.

I recall, in the past, absolutely hating young Master Steinberg's work but gradually coming to appreciate and then actively liking his puzzles. While I know I won't be around to see it, I know that because of him and several of his contemporaries, the future of crosswords is assured.

Thanks @Lauren for that wonderful article. Much of the gist of that was hammered home for me when I took a course in introductory linguistics. Language is a wonderfully fluid thing, ever changing, ever growing, ever variable.

Happy New Year and thank you all for being the community you are.

Wednesday's Child 4:56 PM  

Nicely said.

Loren Muse Smith 5:03 PM  

So, @Mac – I take it you didn't care for Pinker. I can certainly believe he's full of himself, but I do like his take on the"correctness" snobbery of grammar pedants. I mean, c'mon, does anyone really misunderstand me if I say I'm going to go lay down for a bit? I'm beyond caring if anyone judges me.

@Chuck McGregor – well put. @Numi, @Z – glad you liked it. @Chaos – it wasn't too long ago that we had some people who delighted in pointing out our grammar/usage transgressions.

Hey, @M&A NO NAME – I'm officially registered for the ACPT. You going again? How will I know you? Will you be the one with the TOMATO PASTE smeared on your LIP?

If you wanna find me, just look for @Bob Kerfuffle in his bird shirt. I follow him around like a puppy. It's embarrassing.

Chuck McGregor 5:24 PM  

Lest anyone misconstrue my calling folks here "kids" in a previous post today:

In high school a teacher told me, "Never forget what it's like to be a kid." That struck and stuck with me. I've come to believe he meant two things that separate "adult" adults from "kids": curiosity (meaning about everything)and imagination (meaning fantasizing about most anything).

It is the loss of those two things that takes the "kid" out of kids.

So calling someone a kid (meaning at heart) is meant as a compliment. The world has enough "adult" adults that no longer really imagine or are curious much beyond their own niches in the world.

"When are you going to grow up?"
"Never" or "Why would I want to do that?"


Carola 5:42 PM  

@Z - The "w" is pronounced: "ward," with an "s" in front of it.

kitshef 6:26 PM  

Beautiful puzzle with so much to love and minimal dreck. Alas, 2nd time in a week I've DNFed on an easy puzzle. This time it was ORoSON/AMoS that got me -- and I know AMIS but didn't think it hard enough (ORISON was a non-starter).

OISK 7:17 PM  

Finished after a very slow start, just staring at the puzzle looking for one certainty - ah. NL East. But it gradually yielded, and I no longer cringe when I see David's name. The pop references are now balanced, and even I have heard of "When I'm sixty four," although I had no idea that Paul was that young when he wrote it. My only complaint, and a very minor one is "LCD". I have no idea what LCD sound system is, and in addition, a clue like this could be any three letters at all, if one (like me) hasn't heard of it. In a case like that, something related to liquid crystal displays, while less fresh, is better. However, David was careful to make the crossing three clues very gettable, and even though I had no idea who Lou Reed was, having Louree_ - couldn't think of any other possible letter there but a D.

Agree very much with @ Nancy about the Diana Wil post from last night. I would add that other than my own ignorance of them, I have no objection to pop culture, in moderation...But puzzles that are overloaded with them are not just difficult; they are unenjoyable. I commented on on of David Sternberg's early puzzles, saying that it belonged in Teen Magazine, not The Times. I was criticized for commenting on David's age, but I was commenting on the puzzle's contents, which included hip-hop references, and Sneaker brands, among other mysteries. His puzzles were always brilliant, but now I actually enjoy them!

Numinous 8:07 PM  

@Chuckie McG: when I was in fifth grade, I had a "girlfriend" who was in sixth grade. One day, whilst out by the fence around the playground, staring out through the chain-link, we were musing on 42 and other stuff. I remember telling her that I always wanted to remember what it was like to be us, then. In many ways, sixty years later, I have failed but in many others, I have succeeded. Especially when dealing with PEOPLE under the age of, oh, say, twelve or fifteen. When my patience flags, I dig deep to find the empathy I need to try to understand them and treat them as the PEOPLE they are instead of just some still ignorant not-yet adults. We are the sum of our experience, always, no matter the quantity of that experience. BTW, I've never given up dreaming. I suspect the novelists among us never have either.

Masked and Anonymo3Us 8:11 PM  

@muse, darlin: 50-50 on the tournament. 50-1 shot on the TOMATO PASTE LIP.
Must find cinnamon roll shirt ...


Teedmn 11:05 PM  

@M&A, ask and you shall receive, assuming I did this link correctly, but I won't know for a while.
cinnamon roll shirt

Unknown 11:13 PM  

Those of you who do the crossword the old fashioned way (i.e. by hand, on the actual newsprint) may have noticed that the paragraph just above and to the left of the puzzle states, "The next Coachella will also feature the return of LCD Soundsystem, the dance-rock band led by James Murphy..."

Gregory Schmidt 12:19 AM  

The crossing of ORISON with NORA and AMIS was a complete double-nattick for me.

Tita 11:19 AM  

Synchronicity...was browsing at Blick near Cooper Union (my old haunt) while playing tourist yesterday, and on the radio came mention of LCD Soundsystem - mere hours after I heard of them for the first time in this puzzle.

Had I not done today's puzzle, that announcement would have been simple white noise, completely tuned out.
But instead, my ears, and brain, processed it. Has anyone studied this phenomenon?

Jim Finder 5:30 AM  

Tita, Google The Baader-Meinhof phenomenon.

Tita 10:56 PM  

Baader-Meinhoff phenomenon is a much cooler name than Frequency Illusion, though certainly less descriptive.

Odd coincidence...when we were living in Heidelberg, 4 people moved into the ground floor of the neighboring building. We only ever saw them when we were on our balcony. Because of their dress, tastes in music, and general lack of priority given to tidiness, my husband extrapolated out to dubbing them the Baader-Meinhoff gang. They were perfectly fine people, of course, but I will always remember living next door to the Gang.

But back to the topic at interesting...I can see how *seeing* something, like a really rare word or person in a crossword, then seeing it again in the wild, would waken this phenomenon...but it still strikes me as unlikely that somethings as passive as not-listening to Muzak would still aurally highlight something I had never had active knowledge of before.

I am also not astonished to know that I can get such an answer to such a question on this blog.

Diana,LIW 8:46 PM  

Posting here early Thurs evening, to be sure to get the Syndie crowd. First order of biznez: a reference to Wed OWLET and Thurs small carpet. Fair warning, I look like a sweet preppie girl (tho I'm an older lady) but have the heart of Weird Al Yankovic. I'm sure that's why you like me. Anyway, here 'tis:

Just copy and put in your search engine. ;-)

OK, I'm sorry. Here's the real gist of my message.

As you all know, our own Burma Shave is having an anniversary. I'm gonna suggest an Open House Party on both the 8th and 9th. Let folks wander thru. Bring a rhyme, or a snack, have a drink, and toast our BSing buddy. What say ye?

Puzzle on...

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

spacecraft 11:12 AM  

His face
was loved
by just
his mother
he BSed
and now
oh brother!

Happy anniversary. Many more to come!

On to today, a most surprising lamb after yesterday's wolf. Definitely the two came in the wrong ORDER. And with a DS byline I was doubly surprised.

Come on now, did NOBODY think of SPRINGSTEEN--THE "Boss?" I all but wrote it in...but the ELOI made me back off. David, you owe me a grid with Bruce in it!

There were a couple of things I didn't understand, like RICEPILAF as a Mideast side and BROWNIE as an ice cream base (I never did that; seems like overkill). By and large, however, this one slapped down like a Tuesday. Sure, it's a 66-word themeless, but it still felt way too easy for a Friday. Maybe that's part of his genius.

I have to take off for PERSONALOPINION: green paint. What, pray tell, IS an opinion if not personal? That puts a minus on the A.

BS2 12:02 PM  


then LETS LIE on the ground and do it RITE for a SPELL.


rain forest 2:03 PM  

This was surprisingly easy for a Steinberg oeuvre, but so well constructed that I could only admire how it all fit together. I made the same intial three goofs in the NW as OFL (Beat, then BASS, SEEmed, then SEENAS, and the very popular eRIS, before IRIS).

The entire North section went very smoothly, as did the entire South, but I had to fight with goLDEN POND, thinking it just can't be right, until I remembered Thoreau, and then swoosh! the puzzle was done. I recall seeing ORISON at least once before although didn't know what it actually is. Must go to the Google.

Smooth and enjoyable, like RISOTTO.

@Ladi Di - I'm in for the party, and I'll bring a rhyme, a nice Zinfandel, and canapes, but, as is typical, everyone will have gone home when I get there, empty martini glasses with olive pits and swizzle sticks in them, noise-maker paraphernalia all over the floor along with a few nacho crumbs. You'll must likely have to read my comment retroactively, so to speak. At any rate, your idea is a great one, and I hope @Burma Shave is properly humbled by all the attention he will be getting from his Syndie admirers.

5wkslater 2:16 PM  

Stiff, and not in a good way.

rondo 2:27 PM  

It’s you, ewe, YEW! That was my only write-over in this really nice puz and it slowed the NE for a while. Got Sir Paul’s song from just the IX. Lots to like about this puz and the clues, in my PERSONALOPINION.

Music all over this puz and the only one I didn’t know was the Bieber answer. I think I’m happy to say that. LCD Soundsystem gets a fair amont of play on MN Public Radio’s 89.3 The Current. Stream that station, you’ll like it. LOUREED was one of the all-time greats, The Current played a lot of his music in the days after his passing.

Food all over too as others have pointed out. Nothin’ wrong with lotsa music and food.

Great puz DS, but where’s the yeah babies? OTOH we do have a MRS POLEDANCE and NORA and IRIS.

Burma Shave 3:44 PM  


ILOVEBEADS of sweat as they DRIP from a BRA,
when the POLEDANCEr’s wet, MYWORLD’s a dropped jaw.
but in APTNESS this minion is SHAMEFACED and pathetic.


Diana,LIW 4:19 PM  

Hey youse guys! You and ewe and yew. After yesterday's flaming crash and burn, this puzzle was difficult but doable for me. Kept my patience. Only one google (to see what a Swiss steak is), and then one Natick at Orison/Amis. But now I've learned a new word and a new author. I love P.G. Wodehouse's Bertie and Jeeves, so sounds like Lucky Jim will be on my reading list.

I used to teach a class to help adult students be successful learners. Put the emphasis on learning, or as I would say, "the mission of this course is to help you fall in love with learning like you did when you were 2 years old." You know, before big fat "F" grades made you fear your errors. Fell down? You got back up! One thing I taught was how, and when, to use a grammar/style guide. I have dozens of same, and brought them to class to show how often the grammar "experts" disagree. Every "rule" has a place it could be broken - the aim is to communicate clearly what you want to say. A reaction paper is not a journal is not a blog is not a dissertation. You don't need to memorize rules and definitions, just know when to look something up. English is a living language - the OED only gets larger, not smaller.

The students had two guides. "Woe is I" is funny and memorable. "Easy Writer" listed the top 20 errors in college papers, and gave easy-to-use examples an explanations of corrections. I wouldn't "correct" their errors, but would circle the error and put the corresponding error number over the circle. Students could then see their error patterns and actually LEARN by looking up the explanations. And I let them re-write any paper for extra points - either correcting errors or adding new thoughts or changing their responses. Yes, that was a lot of work, but we were having a two-way conversation, and I got to see their writing actually improve over a 6-week course. LMS's post on grammar yesterday was along the lines of the gospel I preached.

Today is a beautiful day in Pacific Grove, and tomorrow promises temps in the 70s. Butterflies are flittering about, and I can see the whale-watching boats sail by on the bay. Life be good.

Peace, out.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

leftcoastTAM 5:28 PM  

Had some problems like RP's "trouble getting started", and resolved them--at a much slower pace of course.

I think I've been a fan of Myrna Loy since I was a little kid going to the Saturday matinee double features. So it was a quick switch from Nick to NORA.
The loveliest silver screen actress of them all IMO.

A solid Friday outing, playing on the medium side. I'm happy to see Mr. Steinberg's good fine more within reach these days.

leftcoastTAM 5:44 PM  


One can have an opinion while knowing that many others have it, too. One can also have a PERSONALOPINION, knowing that it may be more peculiar. Thus the qualification.

You have a point, though, that the qualification may be overused and often needless.

rondo 6:15 PM  

@D,LIW - a respectful (and typical) Midwestern Lutheran response to your post -
Today is cloudy in St. Paul, and tomorrow promises temps near 30(woo hoo)! Snowflakes are flitting about, and I can see the plow trucks drive by on city streets and the freeway. Still, life is not bad.

Bundle up before you go, out.

I was through Pacific Grove in 2012 and can picture the scene. Good for you. If I ever retire I want some of that.

Diana,LIW 8:52 PM  

Got that, @Rondo.

My grandparents grew up in Finland and took me to the Finnish Lutheran Church in Brooklyn whenever they had a pastor for the day. Services were all day, half in Eng/Fin. You haven't lived until you hear hymns sung in Finnish. Quite dirge like. Nowonder I became a Quaker when I moved to Philadelphia.

So, growing up in the NY/Phila area, I get snow. And my current hometown of Spokane has plenty of it. Grandma used to tell of days with one hour of semi-light. Spokane gets less light in the winter than St. Paul - it's farther north. Nyah, nyah. ;-

Here's a rap (don't we crossworders all love rap?) parody to my winter hometown. Cut and past. Read the Monterey Herald (home of awful crosswords) article, and enjoy the video.

Hope you get it RonMan!

Diana, You-Know-Who

Cathy 9:48 PM  

Okay, this is a late post, 6pm PCT. Queen of procrast... In..ating. Huh?

Good workout D.S.!

Thought RICE paddy. Paddies? Paddi? (one side of the Middle East) Wondered if there was some kind of law prohibiting over growth. This my friends is over thinking. RICE PILAF. duh.

Never heard of DUBSTER music. My brother plays BASS. He's up there with Stanley Clarke, Jaco Pastorius etal.
It's all about that (real) BASS.

Had to google Bieber, for MY WORLD, to correct Ewe to YEW. Finished a fine puzzle.

From Wikipedia-

Free offer! Free offer!
Rip a fender off your car/mail it in/for a half-pound jar/BURMA SHAVE.

A large number of fenders were received by the company, which made good on its promise.

Feb. 9th....

5wkslater 4:26 PM  

This puzzle is stiff, and not in a good way; more in a plaque build-up, hardening of the arteries kind of way

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