Die Meistersinger von Nurnberg heroine / THU 3-31-16 / 1890s vice president Stevenson / Bit of Blues Brothers attire / Jazzman Baker / Spaniard granted right to conquer Florida by Charles V

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Constructor: Ellen Leuschner and Jeff Chen

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: [Double __?] — all theme clues follow that model (familiar two-word phrases beginning "Double..."), and answers are familiar "___ AND ___" phrases where both blanks are filled with words that mean roughly the same thing as the ___ in the clue. Thus:

Theme answers:
  • 17A: Double solitaire? (ONE AND ONLY)
  • 21A: Double space? (NULL AND VOID) — not sure how "space" = "null," but ... moving on 
  • 33A: Double take? (SNATCH AND GRAB)
  • 50A: Double life? (VIM AND VIGOR)
  • 55A: Double back? (AID AND ABET) 
Word of the Day: DEER Valley (15A: ___ Valley (Utah ski resort)) —
Deer Valley is an alpine ski resort in the Wasatch Range, located 36 miles (58 km) east of Salt Lake City, in Park City, Utah, United States. The resort, known for its upscale amenities, is consistently ranked among the top ski resorts in North America. // Deer Valley was a venue site during 2002 Winter Olympics, hosting the freestyle moguls, aerial, and alpine slalom events. It also regularly hosts competitions for the International Ski Federation. (wikipedia)
• • •

Wow, that is a lot of wordplay for not very much excitement at all. Still kind of hung up on how NULL = "space," but I'm sure I'll get over it. Easy and dull, with some decent longer answers here and there, but also with some dreadful fill right where you'd expect it (i.e. in the thematically tight spaces—see DELA next to BRYN adjacent to IS SO, for example). The only thing I'm going to remember about this puzzle is Holy Crap there's *another* ADLAI Stevenson. I kept wanting and not wanting ADLAI because it fit and it's the epitome of crosswordesey names so likelihood of its being in this puzzle seemed high, but the date ... the date ... ADLAI ran against Ike so No Way he was Veep in the late 19th century!? But then the answer *was* ADLAI, so I looked it up and whaddyaknow? ADLAI I (now that would be some terrible fill) was Grover Cleveland's running mate the second time around (Cleveland won popular vote three times in a row, but got beat by Benjamin Harrison in the middle there). The two-time loser to Dwight ADLAI (ADLAI II, which would be really Amazingly bad fill!) was the grandson of ADLAI I. I had no idea. None zero none. History!

OVOIDAL is a painful word. Sounds like part of a disease name. The clue on EVA (4D: "Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg" heroine) is 19 kinds of preposterous. Forget that it's a gratuitous opera clue (the snootiest, most elitist and exclusionary kind of crossword clue), it expects me to have heard of it, and to know who composed it, when it's from, etc. I know none of these things. Buncha German words ... heroine. EV_? No idea. Luckily, the puzzle was so easy that this absurd clue didn't matter. Something about [On-schedule] cluing TIMELY feels off. Word means "appropriately timed," or "relevant to the times," which is not something you'd say about a train or bus. Those things run "on time." Also, what does "stink eye" mean. I think of LEER as an action that's sexual and somewhat lurid, whereas "stink eye" ... I don't know. Sounds like a face you'd make at someone you don't like. "Stink eye" cuts out all implications of lasciviousness, which seems wrong. I think my favorite answer was DRAWS STARES, just because it seems unusual and original. The rest was mediocre and over quickly.

Goodbye, March.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


jae 12:16 AM  

Yes, very easy for a Thurs. Liked it more than @Rex did, but he's right about the excitement level. He's also right about the EVA and LEER clues.

OVOIDAL is an odd word.

Carola 12:52 AM  

I agree with @Rex that the VERVE of the puzzle lay more in the theme clues than the answers. Cute idea, but I thought that overall the puzzle could have exhibited more VIM AND VIGOR.

@Nancy - Thank you for mentioning a while ago that @mathgent had referred you to a Patrick Berry puzzle that you found tough to crack. I was intrigued and went looking: was it "Turning Points"? It was terrifically hard for me to establish a beachhead, but I was trapped on an airplane so persevered and, using the "put it down and pick it back up" method, finally got it. Very enjoyable brain-racking.

David W 1:13 AM  

Isn't the term "smash and grab"?

Anonymous 2:06 AM  

easy. i only finish 5% of thursdays. today was faster than this week's monday for me

chefwen 3:28 AM  

Not In The easy category for me, more medium. It is Thursday after all, I would expect it to give me a little resistance.

OVOIDAL doesn't even look like a real word, but everything else fit, so what the heck, put 'er down.

Being a Haole I can tell you exactly what "the stink eye" looks like and it ain't no LEER. LEER is more like an ogle. Stink eye is more like "Get the hell of of my land, whitey". On the UPSIDE it's just a few and far between angry young men.

Fun to have NULL AND VOID on Jeopardy tonight, or was that last night? Hope I didn't spoil anyone's recorded shows. If I did, sorry.

Anonymous 5:37 AM  

I though crossing "up on" with upside was absurd. If "up on" had even been clued as "upon" instead, it would have been more palitable.

jberg 5:58 AM  

II've heard "smash and grab" but never SNATCH. Also, UP crossing UP? Disappointing.

Hungry Mother 6:19 AM  

Played like a Tuesday.

Loren Muse Smith 6:54 AM  

Had to double down (sick and tired?) to get this one finished quickly as I have a ton to do before I leave town for the ACPT. I'm looking forward to catching up with a bunch of Rexites and talking more smack to a wicked-smart constructor, Syracuse alum, and all around amiable fellow. However the game ends up Saturday night, I'm sure we'll part ways AMICABLY.

I loved this wordplay. How cool to find in-the-language "__ AND __" phrases and then find in-the-language "double __" phrases with words that are synonyms for the "__ AND __" words. And in Chensian fashion, throw in some nice long downs: PEN NAMES TRES BIEN, BAD DREAM, DRAWS STARES, I LOVE PARIS… Even after several years of participating here, I'm still surprised at how differently we all react to a puzzle. This one provided a lot of excitement for me. I was fascinated by these examples of wordplay.

I agree that OVOIDAL is weird-looking. Had me staring out the window thinking about the adjectives that we can slap an AL suffix on – to overadjectivize them? Historic/historical, electric/electrical, comic/comical, cylindric/cylindrical… I dunno – there' a kind of admirable desperatesquesome quality to OVOIDAL. Yo, @M&A.

@jberg, anon, and Z from yesterday – two days ago, I linked the site OneLook, my go-to place to play around with themes. But, @anon – I tried forever to add your brackets to the equations to get anagrams of the letters. Is that the site you were talking about? For the ones yesterday, I just wrote down possible word endings for the first word and possible beginnings for the second word, so my "tical me* yielded "grammatical meaning." I sure would like to know how to do the bracket deal. If you're willing, my email is on my profile…

Ellen, Jeff, I disagree with Rex – the wordplay here was clever and fun for me. And exciting. I'll be mulling over possibilities all day.

Lewis 7:33 AM  

Having the clues be "Double _____?" to redundant phrases, and having those clues work is extremely clever. Bravo!

I once had a college professor who thought that the more words that came out of his mouth, the smarter he sounded, and his sentences were stuffed with ______ and ______ phrases that were ridiculously redundant. "If you turn in your assignment late, I'm going to be angry and mad." "It's a delightful and wonderful day." "What a clairvoyant and prescient thing to say!" Etc. I haven't thought about him in a long time, and I'm grateful to the puzzle for calling him up into my memory.

I liked INSITU, AMICABLY, and DRAWSTARES (for which I originally had DRAWacrowd). I like that backward BAD crossing TRESBIEN and that UPSIDE is on the down side. And we have a low TIDES.

It's a beautiful grid, too, with easy entry into all areas. Much to commend here.

Glimmerglass 7:47 AM  

I agree with @ Rex about LEER. "Stink eye" is a different kind of "dirty look" -- glowering and angry, not ogling and suggestive. I also agree with the posters who don't find SNATCH AND GRAB a real phrase. It's "smash and grab" (a store window or a display case).

Tita 7:58 AM  

This was far and away the easiest puzzle this week! I tore through it. I liked it, but the theme was too straightforward to be tricksy Thursday.

Lobster11 8:03 AM  

As someone who complains loudly about "after-the-fact" themes that can only be appreciated post-solve, I suppose I'm obliged to give this one a thumbs-up: Getting the first themer actually helped me figure out the others. That said, it seems more like a Wednesday sort of theme to me; I like a little more trickery on Thursday.

Z 8:28 AM  

OVOIDAL OVINES AVOID SLAUGHTER - I'll be looking for that headline all year in my weekly Farmers' News.

I don't know which I like better, "gratuitous opera clue" or "desperatesquesome." Whichever, it is not a good sign when the commentary out-amusitizes the puzzle wordplay.

Googled "SNATCH AND GRAB" and got police/military hits, so it appears legit. Hand up for thinking "smash and grab" is more in the language. Hand up, also, for thinking "stink eye" does not lead to LEER. More like the anti-LEER. The guy tries a bad pick-up lime and gets the ol' stink eye in return. Finally, CESSNA does not conjur "jet setter" to me, Lear does. CESSNA brings to mind a CESSNA 172. Yes, CESSNA makes jets, it's just not what I think of when I hear CESSNA.

Sallie (FullTime-Life) 8:37 AM  

Yeah, stink eye is what your mother gives you when, say, you're wriggling around in Church....where she can't really slap the heck out of you. But that look is just as bad. At least that's what it meant back in the middle of the last Century. So, yeah, that bothered me. But easy puzzle. Too easy. Not a Thursday sort of joy!

Mohair Sam 8:40 AM  

Well we enjoyed this one a heck of a lot more than @Rex. Clever theme, different - and fun. Played easy for a Thursday - but that's Will's fault, he ran it a day late imo.

Just like Rex I flatly refused to write in ADLAI for the longest time - grandson - who knew? It's amazing how deep this politician blood runs.

Needed an alphabet run to get comfortable with DAB, hand up with the wtf crowd on OVOIDAL.

DELA and BRYN were very well clued I thought (DELA a simple aha, and BRYN a friendly gimme clued differently), couldn't disagree with ofl more on those.

In the spirit of today's puzzle we Syracuse hoops fans are getting an NCAA twofer this weekend. @lms mentioned the 'Cuse game Saturday night where the Orangemen are poised to shock her highly favored (and predictably smug) Tar Heels. She neglected to mention the Orangewomen who will be performing in the women's final four on Sunday night vs. the Washington Huskies.


Patrick Riley 8:51 AM  

Cessna brings to mind a small prop plane. A Leer is more applicable to the jet set. Not to be confused with leer, which should not be confused with stink eye. Meh.

GILL I. 9:05 AM  

@Ellen and @Jeff collaborate together and give us redundancy. Cute.
Is Creme DE LA creme redundant? I say TRE BIEN but a bit on the easy side for a Thursday....like sipping MOET Chandon out of a Dixie cup.
HAVENS conjures up an image of a perfect little inlet or cove where I can dip my feet in the cool water. Asylums reminds me of "One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest."

1820 Stone Colonial House 9:07 AM  

Okay, I'm gonna get picky here. I naticked at the IMDB/DELA crossing because of the hyphen between creme and creme. I think this is an unfair misdirect. Usually, or almost always in my puzzling experience, when a clue wants to indicate something is missing between words or phrases, an underscore is used to create a blank. The hyphen, however, creates a new "thing', a new word, in this case "creme-creme,"
which can easily be some kind of French pastry (Lord knows, there are enough of them). So I am wracking my brain for some kind of goo to fill a "creme-creme" instead of a missing phrase. Of course, if I had known what the eff an IMDB was, and my wife assures me I am the only one on the planet who does not, it would not have been a problem. Sorry. I'll shut up now,

Sir Hillary 9:15 AM  

Felt too easy for Thursday, but the theme is well-executed. The somewhat cruddy fill didn't really bother me today.

-- Really enjoyed the six long downs, especially TRESBIEN.
-- Isn't J.K. Rowling her real name? I always thought that PENNAMES would only be pseudonyms.
-- TIMELY can definitely be used to indicate a deadline has been met. The clue is fine.
-- Very brief write-overs: SkIPOUT and inON.
-- ISSO and OSSO in the same grid? Canadian gas station owners everywhere are bemoaning the lack of an _SSO trifecta.

Chuck McGregor 9:31 AM  

@ Lobster yesterday: Totally agree on Wah-Wah. (cf. “Wah, wah-a Watusi” lyric)

It seems to me there are a number of more or less redundant phrases in the language. When parsed, the words are not necessarily synonyms but are commonly used as if they were to express the one thought [} or idea. Some others of which come to mind.

From The Department of Redundant Departments of Redundancy Department

Cease and desist (Double order?)[Stop]
Look and see (Double vision?)[view it]
Rough and tumble (Double struggle?)[tough fight]
Hale and hearty (Double strength?)[healthy]
Over and out (Double doneness?)[I'm done]
Over and done (Double finish?) [It's completed]
Down and out (Double woe?)[low ebb in life]
Odds and ends (Double mixture?) [stuff]
This and that (Double neuter?)[various stuff]
Flotsam and jetsam (Double debris?)[floating stuff]
Ins and outs (Double facts?) [All there is to know]
Nooks and crannies (Double recesses?) [small niches]

Fat, dumb, and happy (Triple delight? A bonus thrown in ‘cause I like it) [I'm good]

There was some “double, double, toil and trouble” in the SE, trials and tribulations as it were, that gave me some fits and starts. However, no way and no how was this going to cause me any pain and suffering. So, I was able to use some tried and true tips and tricks to get each and every answer. When all is said and done, it was a nice and easy challenge, providing some Thursday rest and recreation that was fine and dandy.

Now that I’m up and at ‘em, see y’all in the in the by-and-by (rather than the bye-and-bye…at least for the here and now).

“One, two! One, two! And through and through
The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!”


Anonymous 9:33 AM  

I kept thinking that I was missing something, that there was a pun or that the clue could be placed before or after the two words in the answer. It was just plain and clear in the end

Bob Kerfuffle 9:36 AM  

Fine puzzle, some great word play, though not my ideal Thursday.

And now I prepare to leave my comfortable online life and venture into that weird three dimensional world of "real life" (in Stamford.). Back on Monday.

Nancy 9:39 AM  

@Carola (12:52 a.m.)-- It was Turning Points, and I think anyone who solved it must be a genius. Ergo, you are a genius. Mathgent, too. Although I hate to give up on any puzzle -- and I almost never do -- this one was beyond my pay grade. I was afraid to write in more than 2 letters of any answer, not knowing at what point the answer was going to turn 90 degrees. And, because I didn't know the length of any answer, I found myself with too many answer possibilities for each clue. I would have called it unsolvable, but it obviously wasn't for really smart people like you, it wasn't. Congratulations!

Today's puzzle: It was challenging enough to require my full attention and having wavES instead of TIDES at 47D loused me up for a while in the SE. On any other day it would have been fine, but I miss my Thursday rebus. Will Will compensate us tomorrow, I hope?

Hartley70 9:40 AM  

This was a fine theme and a worthy early week puzzle, but I'm with those who find it misplaced on a Thursday. Thursday deserves a little more zip. I've felt that each puzzle this week has been shifted a day later than appropriate. Or maybe it's a week of Mondays? That's a depressing thought on several levels.

Anonymous 9:45 AM  

"Snatch and Grab" is a common enough phrase. It refers to stealing someone's purse or necklace. Usually a lady's. And I'm surprised Rex has never heard of Die Meistersinger. It's one of Wagner's best-known operas. But then I'm about as ignorant of anything to do with J. K. Rowling.

Nancy 9:46 AM  

@Lewis (7:33 a.m.) -- Laughed out loud at your redundant professor story.

Charles Flaster 9:48 AM  

Very easy and got theme at 17 across but it was wrong as I had ONE AND done.
This slowed me for a while but my hometown BRYN Mawr saved the day. I taught in that area in Pennsylvania where many beautiful Welsh names abound.
Liked cluing for TAPE, DE LA, and DRAW STARES which I first wanted to be a form of DRAmatical.
Good luck to all at the ACPT .
Thanks EL and JC.

jackj 9:49 AM  

Here an ADLAI, there an ADLAI, everywhere another ADLAI.

There’s ADLAIs everywhere.

While the string of namesakes began with the 1890 VP, ADLAI I, his name morphed into Ike opponent ADLAI II, who compounded the jumble when he begat US Senator from Illinois, ADLAI III (who served from 1970-1981), who then also added to the confusion in 1956 with the birth of ADLAI IV, (a business executive and an Adlai who at least worried about this conceit being continued), who said:

“"[w]hen my own kid was about to be born... the big debate began - were we going to continue this name thing? I was basically against it, needless to say fully aware of how being named Adlai E. Stevenson can be a Boy-Named-Sue-like albatross. But my dad and my wife felt strongly this was something we should do*.

So, not to be denied, we are treated to ADLAI V, born in 1994 and the beat goes on and on and on.

*-From Wikipedia

Thank You Josh 9:52 AM  

DEER / MENLO crossing seems like a double Natick to me (as someone who grew up minutes from the actual Natick MA I find it so great that it's x-word shorthand now). I had D_ER / M_NLO as the last square in my grid and just ran vowels.

Hartley70 9:56 AM  

@chefwen, the usage of "Haole" is a sadly disturbing concept in such a beautiful place. We have relatives in Hawaii who have never mentioned it, but I spoke to someone recently who moved back to the mainland because it was difficult for her boys in school to be disparaged with the term. I had never heard of this slur before then and didn't know how it was spelled until I read your post.

NCA President 10:04 AM  

I agree with Rex about NULL having a dubious connection to space. You can jump into the VOID...but I don't think you can jump into the NULL. I suppose mathematically you can have a NULL space...but I think the NULL in that case is an adjective, not a noun. As I pseudo paid attention to the theme (mostly just trying to find out where all the "and"s went), the NULLANDVOID answer was the biggest question I needed Rex to answer. As answered, it's left wanting.

As for SNATCHANDGRAB v. smashANDGRAB...I think sometimes constructors (and editors?) go with things that sound right...that sound close enough...and then at the end just let it go. I mean, what are you going to? Sue them? It's better to ask forgiveness than permission...so they just put whatever seems to work in there and they're on to a new thing. FWIW, Google's results show almost twice as many smash as snatch. I'm guessing if Ellen and Jeff had found just one result for snatch they would have taken it. Aw well, I'm a little grumpy today due to a lot of things so maybe I'm making too much out of this.

I had tAp at 23A to start...then found out via TRESBIEN that it was DAB and then, lo and behold, TAPON was in the grid anyway. Along with TAPE.

I think I like YAYME.

And I was thinking LEER jet as a jetsetter's jet. Cessnas to me are those little prop puddle jumper planes. So at 30A, I get my jetsetter's jet...kinda.

puzzle hoarder 10:08 AM  

I did this puzzle twice. Last night I did it on my phone as I was still at work. As usual this more than doubled my solving time. I had some logical write overs, OPULENT/OVOIDAL, DRAWACROWD/DRAWSTARES, ASAGROUP/AMICABLY. These mistakes are much easier to fix on paper. When I got home this morning I did it on paper partly to see how fast I could solve it with it fresh I my memory. Interestingly I follow the same pattern of avoiding what is confusing to me. My write over for 1D was OVALOID/OVOIDAL. That's not too bad if you consider that it's a perfect anagram. The only real difference is you can't find ovaloid in the dictionary. I think it's an oversight on someone's part. If you can make ovoid into a double adjective why not oval. I think I just discovered that could be a sleeper part of the puzzles' theme. Speaking of the theme SNATCHANDGRAB is all wrong. I completely fell for it until I read the comments. The other reason for doing the puzzle on paper was to have a handy reference. I'm using Mr Chen's website to see if I can objectively measure the difficulty of these puzzles. If nothing else it's very enlightening to see the various ways of cluing all laid out.

Masked and Anonymous 10:09 AM  

har. Well, NULL AND OVOIDAL to y'all, too.

For a real good time, Google up this: "stink eye pics". har2. The openin shot of the baby who just saw OVOIDAL in his puz's upfront regions is alone worth the price of admission. Feel free to mash the "more images" button, tho. Not too many "LEERs" in the mix, U Will note.

Not that it's the constructioneers' fault, but this perfectly good Tues/WedPuz theme looks kinda outta place on a sneaky tricks Thursday. Tomorrow is April Fools on a FriPuz, howsumever, so … ok maybe they're savin up for that. Today's puz did have a low word count (70), and all the trappins of lovely desperation that that deserves, so I'll give it that.

TREXBEIN was as close as I could come. So, SOU m&e. Some phrases just weren't in "At the Earth's Core" with French subtitles.

@009: Me neither, re: ADLAI vs. the 1890s. What would U say to there also was once a veep named TRUMP? yep. Thought U might.

Congrats to DJING, on its NYTPuz debut. Enjoy yer day. New sound effects is always welcomed.

ISSO OSSO INS INSITU UPONSIDE. (Latin for "Double dippin".)

Fun stuff. Eazy-e solve, except for that French with an ovoidal twist.
Thanx, ELLENANDCHEN (Double en.)

Masked & Anonymo3Us

Good luck at the ACPT, all U nice stink-eyed folks!

know yer desperation (and yo back, @muse):

Joseph Michael 10:12 AM  

Surprisingly easy for a Thursday. Liked the theme, but agree that this puzzle would hardly DRAW STARES.

Thought that a seasoned constructor like Jeff could do better than UPSIDE and UP ON, and TAP ON and UP ON. Did like oddness of the words OVOIDAL and DJING.

So overall a decent job, but I'll save the MOET for another puzzle.

Masked and Anonymous 10:25 AM  

{Double feature?}
{Double vision?}
{Double dip?}
{Double dummy?}
{Double negative?}

or maybe even
{Double cinnamon rolls?}

One answer …

[Above courtesy of Ellen & Chen's cuttin room floor.]

Tita 11:05 AM  

Ha - y'all didn't think I could be THAT concise, did y'all?

Now that I had my coffee, I can come up with plenty more examples above and beyond my first post.
Jeff Chen aids and abets many budding cruciverbalists...

@Chuck MC - you illustrate why this theme was such a feat - not all of those examples are synonyms.
Still impressive, though!

Funny ADLAI rant - I also wondered about the date, but it was about 1:30am, and figured I was wrong about him being a contemporary of my parents.

Agree about TIMELY and LEER being badly clued.

Hey - did I tell you the one about my altar boy brother and the Necco WAFERS??

My next French door neighbor's OSSO buco was TRESBIEN...well, TRESBoN, but close enough.

@chefwen - one and only time i was in Kuaii I learned the term "haole rot" referring to a skin condition that non-natives are susceptible to due to the high humidity.
I did not know it was used as you described.

Safe travels to Stamford - be sure to look me up when you get there! My 3-D name is Tereza. (wink-wink, @BobK!)

Thanks Ms. Leuschner - cool idea, diminished slightly due to day-of-week choice by ed.

mac 11:06 AM  

Mostly easy, but I did get a bit into a knot in the top-middle: I'm blaming "is as".

My puzzle weekend starts this evening already with dinner in NY with three participants!
See the rest of you in Stamford tomorrow.

Roo Monster 11:08 AM  

Hey All !
Puzzle itself was fine. But for a Thursday? No. Just a bunch of AND phrases? Where's the ThursPuz trickery? This was more a TuesPuz.

For a TuesPuz, it was fine. Lots of good themers, good lo.g Downs. Cluing fairly straightforward. Maybe I'm getting bitter...

orem-DEER, OLIVer-OLIVIA (who is OLIVIA the pug?), asti-MOET.

UPSIDE the head...

Steve Silver 11:46 AM  

"Ovoidal?" Oy vey. If only this clue had been avoidable for the puzzle constructors.

A surprisingly straightforward puzzle for a Thursday. This seemed more like Tuesday or Wednesday fare.

Lewis 11:48 AM  

@jackj -- Always good to see you!

Nate 12:16 PM  

(Long time reader, first time poster!)

I do the crossword on the NYT website, and Thursday is when I start doing the "puzzle check" before I complete the puzzle. Today I did the "puzzle check" much less frequently than usual. I'm a little bummed to find out that so many here thought it was easy, because I concluded that I was getting better! Oh well.

I didn't even understand the "Crème-crème filler" clue and answer until reading the comments (I got it by getting the acrosses anyways, so I didn't need it). I would have preferred an underscore as well.

Completely agreed on the Cessna clue. When I hear "Cessna" I think small 2-4 seater flown by amateur pilots, not rich person jet. Oh well.

I originally completed the "Snatch and grab" clue before understanding the theme, and had "Snapchat again". Heh. It fit! guess I'm showing my age (under-30 puzzler).

All and all, an enjoyable Thursday, at least for me! Only one opera clue, and not too much that a younger person wouldn't be able to hazard a guess.

Paul Johnson 12:19 PM  

OVOIDAL REALLY??? I don't give a damn if you can Google it. The OID means you don't need an AL. They're both modifiers. So the modifier has a modifier. Next up APISHLIKE, CARTOONISHLIKE, SWEDISHLIKE...

Andrew Heinegg 12:19 PM  

The reactions to this puzzle run the gamut and, as always, reveal much about the blogger. Lewis reminds me of the Will Rogers quote about never having met a man he didn't like except that, for Lewis, it is a crossword. That is not meant to be a criticism of Lewis (or anyone else with a similar or even completely different take). It is just my inferral that he must be a positive thinking and ever optimistic kind of person as evidenced by his reviews which always have something nice to say. I found this puzzle to be both easy and unfortunately dull. It has already been pointed out that smash rather than snatch is the correct thematic. Like OFL, I find the Adlai Stevenson answer and the story behind it to be the most redeeming feature of this puzzle. But, as I tried to explain at the start, to each his own and there is no arguing with taste, etc.

Dick Swart 12:22 PM  

Rex, were your epithets for Meistersingers or opera in general?

Anonymous 12:29 PM  

Come on Rex. If you're gonna complain, don't be lazy about it. Take the time to complain about the right things. When we read your blog, we're looking for validation. We want you to share in our indignation. "Null" okay, you're right, it's bad. But "One" and "Only" !!! They are both horrendous. They are glaringly wrong. Solitaire is a card game. It doesn't mean solitary. This is the first themer of the bunch, and it is ridiculous.

PS: you are so used to saying "Bad fill," you have become blind to good fill. "DELA" clued the way it was was good fill. Fill can't all be bad. There must be some short words in a puzzle. Enough with your knee-jerk "bad fill" already.

Paul Johnson 12:30 PM  

OR... OVALOID. Makes as much sense.

AliasZ 12:45 PM  

One man's snooty, elitist, exclusionary, gratuitous opera clue is another man's refuge from from the latest pop, rap, street lingo, Simpsons, reality TV clues of the week.

I loved the cluing of the theme answers in which the word in the "double ____" phrase has a different meaning than the answer would suggest. My favorites were "double back" for AID AND ABET and "double life" for VIM AND VIGOR. The "double solitaire", "double space" clues were more straight up. According to Ellen Leuschner on xwordinfo, the seed idea for the theme was contranyms like "buckle", but it evolved into this clever re-purposing. It is part and parcel of crossword construction.

A few additional themers occurred to me:

SAD AND LONELY -- Double down
NOW AND THEN -- Double date
FAR AND WIDE -- Double vision
CLOAK AND DAGGER -- Double agent
DUMB AND DUMBER -- Double dip
HIGH AND MIGHTY -- Double up
PINS AND NEEDLES -- Double sharp
CEASE AND DESIST -- Double stop

Enjoy some Irish VIOL music. Happy Thursday!

Anonymous 12:56 PM  

Excuse me, Rex?? Opera clues are the "snootiest, most elitest, and exclusionary" clues?? Where do you get off on that? Yes, you SHOULD know basic, standard opera trivia because that's part of what being CULTURED is. And yet we are expected to know ridiculous and usless information like car models, obscure politicians and all manner of sports trivia for crosswords...I could equally demand that those are exclusionary and boring. Please check yourself and your ego before you wreck yourself. I always enjoy your blog, but please consider that just because something might not interest you doesn't mean it isn't interesting.

Anonymous 1:45 PM  

I agree with Sir Hillary - the clue on TIMELY is fine. For example, "I'd like you to finish this in a timely fashion." This means "on schedule" doesn't it?

Wm. C. 1:49 PM  

Replying to a few of the comments above about "Snatch and Grab" vs, "Smash and Grab:"

Both are valid descriptions.

"Smash and Grab" usually refers to smashing a plate glass window in front of a Jewelry Store display, foe example.

"Snatch and Grab" usually refers to snatching a jewelry necklace, purse, or briefcase, as examples.

Stuart 1:51 PM  

In Linear Algebra, the nullspace of a matrix A is the set of vectors such that Av = 0.

So if you're Math Professor, like me, "null" and "space" go together perfectly well.

Somehow I don't think that's what the puzzle writer had in mind in that "Double Space" clue...

Anonymous 2:02 PM  

The snootiest and elitist clues are the golf ones. Old white man clues for old white man ! You can find opera info anywhere

Gregory Schmidt 2:26 PM  

As a professional opera singer, EVA was a no-brainer. I will agree that it is obscure, but seems no more "snooty, elitist, or exclusionary" than any of the arcane literary characters and authors, or Greek mythology, which so regularly appear in crosswords, and which Rex regularly admits are "gimmes" for him. It seems that many crossword enthusiasts have literature backgrounds, but from my perspective, trying to come up with "ATHELNY" Jones, for example, is every bit as ridiculous (and exclusionary) as EVA.

Leapfinger 2:30 PM  

Odd that the VOID of the Day was DEER Valley. I spose that extra VOID in OVOIDAL couldn't've been aVOIDed.

By my lights, a pleasant solve, but summat low on the quirkiness I look for on Thursdays. Otoh, the theme picks up a quirk that seems widespread in the English language, though I'd've first thought of Double Dutch. I LOVE PARIS in the Springtime when a flute of MOET Champagne goes down TRES BIEN. Gotta say that throwing in ON_SITE stymied me with the resulting I_DOG, but was pleased to be led to learn about ADLAI II's Old Grand Dad.

The only quibblet is that I wouldn't've placed the HOTSPOT UPSIDE down from the SNATCH_AND_GRAB. Just taint anatomically correct, as I see it. Y'have to hold tight to what's right and leave your LEER (and your CESSNA) at the door.

Interestingly, A_MIC_ABLY comes through loud & clear, and over & above a few bits of -ese, the puzzle hews nicely to the straight & narrow. Now I have to look brighteyed & bushytailed, for I'm expecting company that I suspect will eat me out of house & home. Ah well, no one said life would be all smiles & chuckles.

On that note, will cease & desist. Thanks, E & J!

the redanman 3:11 PM  

I got really, really bored, but I finished. YAYME

robber 5:40 PM  

Way to easy for a Thursday (it is Thursday right?) ;-)

Quite fun, but nothing notable to comment on specifically.

Cheers to all

beatrice 7:23 PM  

Oh, my.

I don't have a access to a crossword database, but I have seen EVA clue via Wagner more than a few times. It is only three letters. And The NY Times is not 'TV Guide'. The opera - all more than 4 1/2 hours of it - 'has been one of the most performed operas ever since its premiere in 1868'. It is a 'rara avis' - its characters, music, and story are all utterly engaging; it is dramatic and light-hearted, profound and warmly human, by turns stirring, funny, and touching. And that overture - just what's not to like.

So here's that overture: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AQB3rWeFFFM

And since EVA is the star of the day, here she is in a classic (very old) recording. (Photographs are not from this opera!) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NMX9fuI_qL

Rabi Abonour 8:24 PM  

I think the LEER clue is legit; in mind the word can refer to lasciviousness *or* plain malice. It's not something I'd focus on in a puzzle that crosses UPSIDE and UPON.

paulsfo 8:38 PM  

Are you allowed to call your son "the second" if he's the *grandson* of the "the first"? What if he's not related to "the first" at all?

@1820 Stone Colonial House: Thanks to a computer-scientist friend, I've known of the IMDB for quite a while. In fact, it was created in 1990, which was (just) before the World Wide Web itself even existed! So, your wife may be right. You may have been the last person on the planet. :D But now you know!

@Thank You Josh: Regarding MENLO. Even though I was only a few blocks away from it, just this morning (in Menlo Park, CA), I was sure that the M_ _ L _ college in the Bay Area was going to be MilLs. So I agree that MENLO is a bit obscure for a Thursday. However, since DEER is such a common word, and a reasonable name for a ski area, this doesn't feel like a Natick to me (and, btw, I don't think there's such a thing as a "double Natick").

Paul Johnson 10:14 PM  

Frankly Rex, you're a dick. My comments on balance are no worse than so many others. And yet you never post them. See ya, Asshole.

Joseph Welling 11:45 PM  

In law, documents are "timely filed" when they're in by the deadline.

For null as a space, the "null set" is an empty set.

Leapfinger 9:42 AM  

@Paul Johnson, I see @Rex is playing Gotcha with you. Another case of 'the house always wins'.

OTOH, make up your mind.

Z 10:06 AM  

@Paul Johnson - You are incorrect on two points. OVOID is a shape, like a sphere is a shape. Therefore, adding -AL to OVOID is no different than adding -ical to sphere. Second, "never" is clearly wrong since you have three comments showing today alone.

kitshef 3:59 PM  

Still catching up from vacation (posting this on 4/4). Disappointed with both theme and fill. On to Friday's puzzle...

Stavros Maltezos 1:11 PM  

Stink eye = sneer

Burma Shave 8:55 AM  


With VERVE and VIMANDVIGOR IDIG that game,


LongBeachLee 10:44 AM  

The Smiths, Loren Muse, and myself always seem to agree, but not today, dull and easy for me. Hope we can patch it up tomorrow.

eastsacgirl 11:56 AM  

Didn't even get through a half cup of coffee on this one. Easiest Thursday I can remember.

rondo 12:10 PM  

Well, this was better than cramming a whole word into one square. But again, I tried a little speed and under the M in IMDB I saw Bay Area and immediately put in Marin, so made a mess of that. After fixing that I went at a normal pace and finished with no further errors. Apparently I’m not GOODAT speed solving.

Perfect opportunity to clue Richie HAVENS, but I suppose that skews too old.

“She keeps MOET and Chandon in a pretty cabinet . . .” (Killer Queen by Queen)

Anyone else old enough to have ridden in a DESOTO? Probably most everyone in Syndiland.

IMAN. Supermodel. Yeah baby. Any clue that starts with “Supermodel” . . . well, you know. And I suppose EVA Longoria and OLIVIA Newton-John are too easy for a Thurs-puz.

@D,LIW – results with an UPSIDE. Good news.

This week has seemed easy to me so far. I suppose the other shoe might drop. YAYME.

spacecraft 12:28 PM  

I finished it: YAYME! But easy?? Not over here. Couldn't get my head around OVOIDAL. That's a word? Why isn't OVOID enough? Crazy. And much more time was lost with DRAWacrowd. Of all the ways OLIVIA could be clued, we go with a pig in a kids' book? We might have had potential DODs* DeHavilland or D'Abo; instead there's EVA Longoria. Come to think of it, she'd win that contest anyway, even beating IMAN.

It's curious that all these themers are redundancies, though solidly in the language. I suppose the second word is there for emphasis. Fill is pretty chewy for a Thursday; I just don't understand all those easy ratings.

@M&A: you must be a bridge player; how ELSE would you know about double dummy?

Triumph factor aside, this one gets a par.

*Damsel of the Day

Diana,LIW 3:28 PM  

It's Thursday. I believe I completely and cleanly solved the Thursday puzzle. Haven't yet looked at Rex or any other comments. I'm predicting:

OFL will say his talking parrot completed the puzzle before breakfast.

More to come.

Lady Di, waiting to post

rain forest 4:06 PM  

Weirdly personally appropriate puzzle today. My first name is actually DENNIS (though I prefer "Rainy"), I drive a JETTA, I've done some DJing, and though somewhat aged, am full of VIM AND VIGOR. Just a few facts for ya.

I somehow parsed OVOIDAL as meaning that the building in question is not a perfect ovoid but is ovoidish, or rather, the puzzle word. No idea if that makes sense at all, and frankly my dear, I don't give a damn. However, I will be all avoidal regarding OVOIDAL.

As soon as I got HOTSPOT, and SNATCH AND GRAB, I just knew they would provide excellent fodder for @Burma Shave, and he didn't disappoint. He never does.

I didn't know that J K ROWLING, and ROBERT GALBRAITH were PEN NAMES of the same person. I suppose that the former is a pen name, because you're just not going to refer to her as "J", or are you?

The best thing about a '57 Desoto was hiding three guys in the trunk and going to a drive-in movie and just paying for one. Teenage hijinks.

Anyway, fun and easy puzzle.

Diana,LIW 7:33 PM  

what did I tell ya? If I finish, a lotta peeps say "easy."

Just curious - anyone know why P. Johnson is so p'd off? I've had comments "unaired" and assumed it was mere user error, or system default. Sheesh! People! In your life a grip you should get. (sez Yoda)

This puzzle was a fine example of why I'm not a "world-class" solver, and why that's sorta' ok with me. 'Cause, you C, I had fun. Again. 'magine that!

And had a dnf with IMnB crowing nALA. I know the website, but don't remember the initials as I don't remember what they stand for. Ah well. What is so rare as a day in May in Syndieland?

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

Diana,LIW 8:52 PM  

A P.S. to @Rainy

I heard an "article" on NPR yesterday about a rocker named Rain Forest from Canada. Is Rain Forest a common nickname in Canada? A relative of yours, perhaps? Coincidence?

BTW, I have a friend from work named Forrest Baird. He literally wrote the book about philosophy. "From Plato to Nietzsche," later updated to "From Plato to Derrida."

Diana, Can't See For(r)ests for Trees?

rain forest 3:12 AM  

@Diana,LIW - I am not Rain Forest, the rocker, but I did spend a few years playing and singing in pubs, sometimes rock music, but mostly folkish stuff, you know, Gordon Lightfoot, Jesse Winchester, etc.

Also, at times, I can be quite philosophical. What can I say?

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