Distillery eponym Joseph / FRI 5-13-16 / Sardine relative / Big name in energy bars smoothies / Celebrity with fashion line V / Targets of president Taft / Punch line instrument / Celebrity whose name sounds like drink

Friday, May 13, 2016

Constructor: David Phillips and David Steinberg

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: none 

Word of the Day: IMAGINE DRAGONS (14A: Band with the 2012 double-platinum album "Night Visions") —
Imagine Dragons is an American rock band from Las Vegas, Nevada. Imagine Dragons' lineup consists of lead vocalist Dan Reynolds, guitarist Wayne Sermon, bassist Ben McKee, and drummer Daniel Platzman. The band gained exposure following the release of their debut studio album, Night Visions (2012) and first single "It's Time". According to Billboard, Imagine Dragons topped the year-end rock rankings for 2013; Billboard named them "The Breakthrough Band of 2013", and Rolling Stone named their single "Radioactive" "the biggest rock hit of the year" MTV called them "the year's biggest breakout band". Night Visions peaked at number two on the weekly Billboard 200 and UK Albums Chart. The band's second studio album Smoke + Mirrors reached number one on the Billboard 200, Canadian Albums Chart, and UK Albums Chart. // Imagine Dragons won two American Music Awards for Favorite Alternative Artist, a Grammy Award for Best Rock Performance, five Billboard Music Awards, and a World Music Award. In May 2014, the band was nominated for a total of fourteen different Billboard Music Awards, including Top Artist of the Year and a Milestone Award, recognizing innovation and creativity of different artists across different genres. (wikipedia)

• • •

Why can I never remember who's got a gun? I always want JAMIE to have the gun, but then JANIE's got it, but then I remember the Aerosmith video, which featured Alicia Silverstone, who really looked much more like a JAMIE than a Janie, but then I look it up and Alicia Silverstone wasn't even in that video; she was in different Aerosmith videos ("Cryin'," "Crazy," "Amazing"), so I don't even know anymore. My whole world is upside-down. Anyway, JANIE is the one with the gun. That was my one and only hiccup up top. Oh, given that I encountered IMAGINE DRAGONS, I sort of expected the Vanessa in question in 16A: Celebrity with the fashion line "V." (VANESSA WILLIAMS) to skew much younger. That clue had me trying to remember how to spell "Hudgens" (of "High School Musical" fame). It wouldn't have fit. Still, I did consider it. I did not consider SPRAT until the last cross was in. SPRAT is like SMELT and SHAD in that it is an improbable-looking fish word. To me, sardines are related to anchovies and SPRAT is Jack.

As with JANIE, I misspelled SICHUAN at first, but that seems infinitely more understandable. I spell the cuisine SZECHUAN. That didn't fit, so ... SECHUAN? ["incorrect" buzzer sound]. Strangely (to me) SICHUAN appears to be the preferred spelling (at wikipedia, anyway). I spent a long time trying to figure out the trickiness of 13D: Punch line instrument (SNARE DRUM). I thought "punch" was related to the act of drumming somehow ... and "line" was musical (as in "bass line"). It was only after I was done that I realized that the stereotypical punch line follow-up is a rim shot, played (presumably) on a SNARE DRUM. 15D: Little something for the road? (SMART CAR) also baffled me until most of the letters were in. Still, no real problems moving through that NE area. The only place I got stuck in the mud was the SE, where I couldn't come up with AGENCIES (I was thinkingn "apps" or "services" ... somehow AGENCIES seems like a pre-internet word). Speaking of mud (which I was, sort of), I thought 29D: Mud spot? was the best clue / answer pairing in the whole puzzle. Very misdirecty, very accurate (candidates throw "mud" at each other in TV ads, also called "spots"). 'Tis the season.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Loren Muse Smith 7:53 AM  

Boy, howdy, I almost just gave up on this with a ton of the top half blank. I think finally changing "yes" to BE A and seeing SNARE DRUM broke it all open.

Sometimes I wonder, especially with really clever constructors, if they purposely fill a grid so as to plant misdirects. I mean, what little constructing I've done, I'm jumping up and down on the couch because REFEEDING EELS fits. I can't imagine taking it to the next level and planting traps. But that penultimate M in PAJAMA BOTTOMS had me going straight to some kind of “drama.” And the initial V for VANESSA had me thinking Victoria Beckham Who never, ever smiles. Or Vanessa Hudgens. Whose name is too short. Hi, Rex.

And the tiger could've been "feline" not FIERCE.

I went all Monday on 52D and put in "eats" for CONS.

Had to change "ssa" to AKC. I remember feeling all rich because we had a dachshund registered with the AKC. Mom explained that those AKC registrations had to have three names, and I felt even richer. "Pompey Ducklegs Muse." We were landed gentry.

Last night my son and I were watching my new hero, Bear Grylls (and yes, I've read all the staging scandal stuff. I don't care; I'm learning that I have to take my clothes off and float them in my pack on a slab of ice as I swim that arctic river. I'm learning how to fashion a nifty hammock out of a piece of bamboo and sew up a rip in my pants with the agave needle and thread I bit off the tip of the leaf. And I'm learning to get really uncomfortable whenever Bear happens across *anything* - ANYTHING – because I'm afraid he'll probably just dust it off and eat it.) Anyway – Bear adds some SPRUCE to water he's boiling to drink to make a kind of spruced tea – flavorful and full of vittamins (sic). I found myself panicking that I wouldn't recognize spruce and made a mental note to look at its picture in my tree book. It's with my bird book somewhere.

I didn't remember that a SPRAT was a fish. Just a quick heads-up: if you google SPRAT definition, the first thing you'll see is that it's a small fish. (We can't be having SPRAT steal yesterday's DO RE MI thunder. I never understood that one anyway – could someone finally explain it, please?)

@Chaos – I have to leave for school by a certain time in the morning, and I if I haven't finished a puzzle in time, I just throw in the towel and not give the dnf much thought. I try to post a comment before I leave because otherwise it could be among the dozens that won't show up until late in the afternoon. I guess I'm still in the mentality that this place is a conversation. I’m accepting that it's becoming more of a platform just to add our thoughts to Rex’s, though, so maybe I can relax my time constraints now.

I thought this was a terrific themeless. PAJAMA BOTTOMS, MAKE MINE A DOUBLE, IMAGINE DRAGONS, SNARE DRUM, GET BACK AT, ATTACK AD, SMART CAR… good job, you two.

George Barany 7:56 AM  

It's finals week here at the University of Minnesota, but seeing the byline of my young friend @David Steinberg got me to set aside a big stack of final lab reports that need grading and tackle today's puzzle, the fiftieth (!) that he has had published over a five-year period in the New York Times [and hi to not-quite-as-young @David Phillips, for whom it's "only" his fourteenth, all within the past two years].

I was thrilled to see the clue the @Davids chose for ARIA (click on the link for a rendition by the great @Jussi Bjoerling), but discouraged to see a great chemistry word like ATOM clued for some comic book hero. Having recently celebrated my thirtieth wedding anniversary, I am clueless as to how people find partners these days, but it seemed to me that a clue specifically calling out match.com would signal something less generic than DATING_AGENCIES. I know about Jeremy PIVEN, not from having ever watched "Entourage," but from this wonderful movie called "Keeping Up With the Steins," which deals with a bar mitzvah spiraling out of control. Somehow, I was able to infer VANESSA_WILLIAMS, who burst upon the national consciousness by being named Miss America 1984 and then having to resign ... it occurs to me that neither of today's constructors had been born then.

While I was eventually ABLE to suss out the 2012 band (thanks @Rex for highlighting it in your review), along with EZINE (instead of EVITE) and a few other noteworthy pieces of fill clued out-of-my-wheelhouse, what finally tripped me up was SICHUAN. While still in graduate school in New York City in the '70s, I enjoyed frequent trips to Chinatown for Szechuan cuisine, but I must have missed the memo when the spelling changed starting in the mid-80s. That, and not willing to let go of NERD in the spot that the @Davids reserved for PRIG. (Notice SNARE_DRUM today, following up on DRUM_SET yesterday.)

Some of you may recognize the name of @Arlene, who visits this blog from time to time. I was delighted to create Evie Welcomes Her Baby Brother, which announces a blessed family event (complete with a "midrash") Mazel tov!

John Child 7:56 AM  

If I’d been asked to define ODWALLA yesterday I might have guessed that it was a species of African antelope; PIVEN could be a part of the rigging on a sailboat. But then I’m over 60, watch very little television, and don't live in the US.

Those two words plus JANIE, and IMAGINE DRAGONS were all unknowns for me, but the mark of such a well-made puzzle is that the WOEs were obstacles but not stoppers. Several minutes longer than a typical Friday puzzle due to those words (and a long holdup trying to convince myself that SPRUCE could be a noun that meant neat). The verb form with “up” is familiar, of course.

I enjoyed every minute of the battle with this one, and appreciated how little “glue” there was. No groaning this morning. ;-)


Z 8:04 AM  

South first, then the north, mostly because I work acrosses until I get a toehold and that toehold was TRUSTS/ICE T. Hand up for the Szechuan before SICHUAN. Who knew all the take-out menus in the drawer were using a variant?

A little PPP* heavy in the north with big chunks of letters being used for IMAGINE DRAGONS, VANESSA WILLIAMS, Jeremy PIVEN, ODWALLA, JANIE and her gun, and STEVENS. While just 19/68 clue/answers are PPP, 44 of the 67 cells in the top five rows are PPP in at least one direction. It played easily enough for me, but I suspect there will be a few complaints about the north.

*PPP = Pop Culture, Product Names, and Proper Nouns.

Annette 8:09 AM  

Easy-Medium? Wrestled this to the ground and loved every just-shy-of-a-minute of it. Confidently threw down Victoria Beckham, which set things back a half hour or so... Loved SEAGRAM joining MAKE MINE A DOUBLE and TSHIRT crossing THONGS.

More than makes up for yesterday's "18 minutes under your average!"

Imfromjersey 8:10 AM  

@Rex I had the same troubles with Sichuan, tried to spell it Szehuan which was clearly not right. I had Dating [something] for a long time before I got Agencies. Imagine Dragons are annoying and overplayed, but I had no problem filling that one in. Overall an enjoyable puzzle!

Robso 8:14 AM  

Threw down VICTORIA BECKHAM first thing, because it fit, but once I got past that it was smooth sailing. I know that "neaten up" is the same as "spruce up." This makes things look neat. Does it also make things look SPRUCE?

Sir Hillary 8:23 AM  

Flew through this one, until getting a bit hung up in the SE. RUBoN and blUnt were irritating errors, although fixable once I figured out SPRUCE.

Speaking of which, in the context of neatness, I know SPRUCE only as a verb. So...is SPRUCE also an adjective, or is "Neat" also a verb (which would also be news to me)?

IMAGINEDRAGONS...pretty annoying band, but pretty cool crossword entry.

Like SEAGRAM turning into MAKEMINEADOUBLE (cute clue). Is it okay to ask DATINGAGENCIES to MAKEMINEADOUBLE?

Great clues for CORE, ATTACKAD and HDTV.

I think of Cat STEVENS as an acoustic guitar type, but in my head I can hear that beautiful rolling piano in "Morning Has Broken". I guess that's him.

Jonathan Alexander 8:30 AM  

Once I saw JANIE I knew PAJAMABOTTOMS was it and the NW fell fast. Finished on the SICHUAN though like Rex I had an E in place of the I at FIRST.

I'm wondering about SPRUCE as an answer for the clue "Neat"....shouldn't the clue be neaten? I've only heard spruce used as a verb in this context.

NCA President 8:41 AM  

In spite of a couple of snags, this was relatively easy for a Friday.

SICHUAN being the primary culprit. I think most menus have it spelled with a Z...but it's that kind of word that, until you ask me, I think I know how to spell it. Turns out, I don't.

IMAGINEDRAGONS are not on my radar...nor is PIVEN. And I also can't remember who has the gun...but I know it ends with -IE and has an A sound in it. Like, say, Angie. Wrong band, wrong song...but I couldn't get it out of my head.

ODWALLA is expensive...I usually go with Clif bars.

Also had lAG before SAG...which made SEAGRAM hard to see. I didn't know his first name was Joseph...

I liked the puzzle...perfect level of challenge for me for a Friday.

Lobster11 8:41 AM  

Loved all of this except for my WOEfest in the NW, with PIVEN, JANIE, MISE, ODWALLA, and MOI (as clued) crossing IMAGINEDRAGONS. Ouch. Fortunately, I needed only one small cheat to finish: I Googled "en scene" to get MISE, and then everything else fell quickly. I probably could have eventually cracked that corner without the cheat, but I've got a lot to do today and decided against devoting any more time to it.

Come to think of it, I don't have time for posting to internet blogs either. Gotta run....

Carola 8:45 AM  

Medium for me, and fun to solve. I found it hard to get started with the Acrosses and ended up sending out feelers in all driections from ARIA x PANS.
Learned from previous puzzlesç PIVEN and JANIE. Do-over: getting distilling mixed up with brewing, I started with Joseph SCHLITZ.
I liked FIERCE over SICHUAN: it's way too hot for me.

Dolgo 8:57 AM  

Bjorling's one of my all-time faves, but for deep melancholy. Surely not for the vedetta-like rage swearing on the funeral pyre!

Dolgo 9:01 AM  

I pretty much agree with everyone. A good puzzle for 4-am insomnia in an out-of-town hotel. Perhaps a bit obvious for a Friday. The alternative spelling for Sechuan, surely, is common enough, if not often on restaurant signage.

QuasiMojo 9:09 AM  

Naticked on Odwalla/ImagineDragons. I had "telly" instead of "tally." I'm an anglophile. Although it's more likely a refrigerator would be "running" than a television. So I had Oowalla/ImagineOregons. ROFL. Well, I imagined some grunge group from Portland! Fun puzzle nonetheless.

oldbizmark 9:14 AM  

SUPER-DUPER EASY for me, which continued a very consistent trend for the week. Only hiccup for me was the SE corner. Everything else filled in without having to jump around. While the long answers seem solid on their face, the cluing made it too easy, in my opinion. I prefer a bit of a challenge at the end of the week. Oh well.

Anonymous 9:20 AM  

This must have been in my wheelhouse. It felt like a Wednesday to me. It's probably my fastest Saturday ever.

Hartley70 9:26 AM  

No no no way was this little gem easy. If I was solving on paper, I'd still be snarling at it when I was back in my PAJAMABOTTOMS tonight. As it is, I shamelessly made use of the "check word" function on my phone app, and I'll be wearing the "Cheater" hair shirt all day.

I was sure of PIVEN, MISE and took a guess at VANESSAWILLIAMS just off the V. And that's it for a jump start. Having crawled my way from bottom to top, I'm not sure why I found this so tough. My checks were nearly always correct, but answers like IMAGINEDRAGONS made me doubt my sanity. This constructing duo is fiendishly clever and I look forward to grappling with their next offering!

@Nancy, I just answered your evening post yesterday, but in a fashion typical of today, I did it as a reply to another's post. Sigh.

Daryl 9:34 AM  

Easiest Friday I've had in a while… nice to get a "12:57 under your average". Sichuan is how you spell it in one romanization system (hanyu pinyin); Szechuan and Szechwan are both totally acceptable.

Gregory Schmidt 9:35 AM  

I liked it. Thank you for it not being merely a short proper-name trivia contest.

Roo Monster 9:43 AM  

Hey All !
Well, I had the opposite of the posters so far. I thought the top half easy, and bottom half really hard. Live in Las Vegas, so IMAGINEDRAGONS easy for me, especially after (easy for me) PIVEN and JANIE, and interestingly easy MISE. After that, AGENDA became clear, and with the I_AGI_______ in place, got them DRAGONS, and also the PJBOTTOMS. In the E, had Man in for MRS, but once changed, already having HDTV and RAT, I saw the SMARTCAR. (Interesting side story, I had not too long ago, a 1976 Mercury Cougar, and a SMART CAR pulled up next to me at a light. His entire car was the length of my hood!)

Had SmelT for SPRAT for a long time screwing up that section. (What the heck is a SPRAT? Thought that was an English insult!) Did get W fairly easily.

Agree with SICHUAN spelling looking odd. Had an E for the I, which got me FeaST for "That's a ___!" Sounded OK (and yummy, too!)

But the S! Had MAKEMoNEy_____ off the y in yon before I had the correct AGO. And ETh for ETA, along with a few other lightly written in guesses (which were all wrong, BTW) got me ThraShtalking for 58A. Was gonna complain about it being TRASH talking, not THRASH! Finally saw STINK, which got me to ETA, and everything eventually fell. And finished error free! Yay me!

Did want asses for GEESE, loafS for IDLES, dab oN for RUBIN, but didn't commit to any of them. Oh, one other writeover, had ODWALiA.

So a fine struggle, cool grid, FIERCE battle! Lost a few more brain cells. But now I can GABS that I was ABLE to AMAZE myself on all the ANSs I got! :-)


Mike D 9:50 AM  

Has anyone else noticed that Rex absolutely PANS puzzles he doesn't like, but then today, which I infer he liked as there was a lack of said panning, he doesn't comment at all whether he liked it or not? I wonder if he gets any joy out of solving at all anymore?

Nancy 10:06 AM  

Yes, @Z, there will indeed be complaints about the North. Yuck. This puzzle almost took the heart out of me before I'd even begun. So much PPP -- all of it out of my wheelhouse. The Jeremy I know is Irons; I didn't know VANESSA WILLIAMS...nor JANIE...nor IMAGINE DRAGONS. (Is there any end to the ridiculous names that pop bands have devised for themselves?) I am so proud of myself that I didn't give up; that I persevered in the face of such adversity. And that I wrestled this bear of a puzzle (that Rex calls easy/medium, but, boy, is he wrong!) to the ground and won. Despite the PPP, there were things here I liked: PAJAMA BOTTOMS; ATTACK AD; MAKE MINE A DOUBLE. Thank God, for the latter -- I got it from maybe two letters. The South of the puzzle wasn't all that easy either, but it seemed easier because it was so much fairer. One question: Is a SMART CAR necessarily "little"? Can't it be the same size as a dumb car? Anyway, a struggle that I sort of enjoyed...but only once I knew that I was going to win.

Steve M 10:11 AM  

Agencies not.......

Nancy 10:11 AM  

Oh, I forgot to list ODWALLA as one of the names I didn't know. That was the worst. Because while PIVEN and VANESSA WILLIAMS were names I'd at least heard of, even though not in the context of the clues, I wouldn't know ODWALLA if I fell over it.

Steve Reed 10:21 AM  

Oh, if you ain't got the do re mi, folks, you ain't got the do re mi,
Why, you better go back to beautiful Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Georgia, Tennessee.
California is a garden of Eden, a paradise to live in or see;
But believe it or not, you won't find it so hot
If you ain't got the do re mi."

- Woody Guthrie

Cabbage is old-timey slang for money.

Charles Flaster 10:26 AM  

Loved this one and learned some modern names.
Creative cluing for EZINE, PAJAMA BOTTOMS , and AGENDA.
I knew I would have to suss SICHUAN and IMAGINE DRAGONS.
Write overs were VANESSA WILLIAMS for VANESSA redgrAve, SAG for SAp, TRUSTS for TRainS, and FIRST for laugh.
Should clue for SPRUCE be Neaten and not Neat?
Thanks to the Davids

Chaos344 10:30 AM  

Really good puzzle. When I looked at those long across clues on top and had absolutely no idea about 14 and 16A, I figured I was in for at least 45 minutes of wrestling. As it turned out, MHP arrived at around my normal Friday time. I was very lucky to have had some wheelhouse clues, and the crosses gave me the help I needed for IMAGINEDRAGONS, VANESSAWILLIAMS and finally ODWALLA.

@LMS: Of course! Your explanation makes perfect sense. I should have realized that, since we all know you are a teacher. I for one am very happy that you always make the first batch of posts, since I look forward to your hilarious comments. Leapy usually provides the afternoon mirth.

I'm assuming your husband feeds the eels first thing in the morning? Do you get the chore of refeeding them when you get home from school? How big do you let em get before you smoke em? Tell "Froglegs" I said Hi.

puzzle hoarder 10:33 AM  

I'm a little surprised at the medium part of today's rating but if you don't keep up with current music and you're not familiar with the name PIVEN I could see how the north section would give you trouble. IMAGINEDRAGONS is a debut but I'm one of those boomers who've given up on classic rock altogether. Misspelling SICHUAN as SECHUAN kept me from seeing FIRST @ 32D and caused a little hiccup mid solve. It has nothing to do with SZECHUAN that's way over my head. That first vowels just sounds more like an E. I had to fix this when I came back up from the south. My other truly stupid moment was thinking the 39A clue was plural and putting in MAS. When SMARTCAR changed the A to an R I actually thought it was MR pluralized! There I was thinking wow I never realized MRS is MR pluralized. I haven't smoked pot since 1985 and I couldn't tell you the last time I was drunk so I really have no excuse for it.
Despite these glitches this turned out to be an easy romp to a clean grid. This was an entertaining quality puzzle and the constructors are kids. The one has 50 NYTP! Freaks of nature.

Greater Fall River Committee for Peace & Justice 10:34 AM  

I absolutely cannot abide cluing 'Want' to mean 'NEED'. Wants and needs are two different things.

Doremi: It's in a Woody Guthrie song, warning dust-bowl Okies not to move to California. 'Don't swap your old cow for a car if you haven't got the do re mi folks.' Something like that. A musical amplification of 'Dough'; Dough is slang for money and I guess in some era or other cabbage was also. It's a stretch.

Wm. C. 10:46 AM  

@Nancy10:06 --

Yes, I originally had trouble matching the clue with the answer also.

But a Smart Car is actually a brand of car that is very small, no back seat and two narrow closely-packed seats in the front. 32 mpg city, and it'll park in spaces where only motorcycles can fit.

I assume that it's mostly bought as a city vehicle, because I'd sure hate to be riding in one that got in an accident on the highway!

See: http://www.smartusa.com

Anonymous 10:47 AM  

Do re mi and cabbage both are slang for money

Andrew Heinegg 10:50 AM  

I too found the top half more difficult than the bottom. I have no idea how two people collaborate to construct a puzzle but, perhaps one David did the top half and the other David did the bottom half? All in all, I thought it was a Friday appropriate puzzle that I completed without a lot of hesitation and would have finished quickly but for imagine dragons and sprat and the hesitation on the alternate spelling of Sichuan, which I have seen before. I also found it curious that OFL attached videos and dissected parts of the puzzle yet never gave a true indication of what he thought of the quality of it.

Roo Monster 10:50 AM  

@Nancy, LOL at your SMART CAR comment! Apparently you've never heard of or seen one. Which made your comment valid, although truly funny! It is a make of car, the original being a SMART ForTwo. It's a really small car, slightly longer than 8 feet.

So there ya go! An addition to your Personal PPP (PPPP?)


jberg 10:56 AM  

I almost turned to internet searching here, but then it started to fall into place. Like many, I wanted some kind of drama at 1A, SPurtS before SPLAYS, FelinE before FIERCE, one and then Man before MRS (ox, I'm sexist) and had no clue to any of the proper names up top. (Except that, being older than @George Barany, I guess, I went with VANESSA Redgrave -- which at least gave me 7 letters.) MISE was kind of a lifesaver, as it couldn't be anything else.

As I understand it, when China became a world power they decided to demonstrate that reality by making English speakers change the spelling of many, many Chinese words, including Szechuan. It took me a long time to remember that one. Almost as long as it took me to give up on finding a short for of American League pitcher as the "unlikely swinger."

@Rex, SPRAT are small, like sardines; I think Jack are much bigger.

One more course to grade, 15 more papers to read. After our retirement party yesterday (my wife and I are doing it together), it feels like I shouldn't have to do this -- but there it is!

jberg 10:59 AM  

I forgot two points. One, back in 1943 when I was born, my father was working in the Louisville SEAGRAM's distillery. That didn't help me at all today.

And I think they sell ODWALLA at WAWA, so it may be almost as regional as that.

Anonymous 11:15 AM  

I thought this was the easiest Friday I've done in a long time. I got PIVEN, IMAGINE DRAGONS, VANESSA WILLIAMS and SNARE DRUM right away. So the top half was a breeze.

Bookdeb 11:16 AM  

@lms, I figure that the use of do re mi for cash came from someon trying a playful way to say "dough". So, it is a slang term for a slang term, which makes its relationship to the original meaning very abstract.

old timer 11:21 AM  

@George Barany, nice article about your law school in the Times Business Day section today. I subscribe to the print edition so I can read that section, and do the puzzle on paper. Everything else good in the paper is just lagniappe.

I found very few obvious footholds in today's puzzle. Fortunately, one was SAG, and I also wanted AKC -- we had a registered Boxer when I was a kid -- great dog except for the drool. SAG gave me SEAGRAM and confirmed my initial hunch to MAKE MINE A DOUBLE. The bottom fell pretty quick after that, while I stopped to admire the clever SPRUCE and the improbable TRUSTS -- who knew Pres. Taft was a trustbuster?

I had no trouble with SICHUAN. I did have "meh" before HEH. I was stymied in the top, wondering if the "bedroom set piece" was Madama Butterfly. I thought it was fair to Google for IMAGINE DRAGONS and once I did, the rest fell into line pretty quickly.

Anonymous 11:34 AM  

When was the last time anyone bought an RCA TV?

Lewis 11:40 AM  

@johnchild -- Great post from start to finish!
@anon 9:20 -- It's probably not.

One of my great joys in solving is when there is wordplay in the cluing. That's why I smile inside when I see David's name on top (as sole or co- constructor) because it's one of his hallmarks. In this puzzle there were some 13 clues that involved wordplay (PAJAMABOTTOMS, EZINE, RAT, CORE, MRS, MAKEMINEADOUBLE, AGENDA, ANS, TALLY, SMARTER, PAIL, ATTACKAD, and SOUR). Each one is a word puzzle in its own right.

And so this puzzle was a great deal of fun. In my book, the Davids were Goliaths!

Joseph Michael 11:53 AM  

Nice job, boys.

GILL I. 11:54 AM  

Good gravy...How to start my favorite day of the week puzzle...PIVEN...right off the bat never heard of, seated a couple of doors over with JANIE. ODWALLA sounds like an onion.
Ran downstairs and little by little got those long ones in the downstairs area. OOF.
Headed back up-stairs and Googled PIVENS. Voila, sez MOI. Got the PAJAMA BOTTOMS right of the P...!VANESSA came in second. By golly, I got her done - with just one Google...!
Are THONGS those flip-flops, or that one piece string that goes up your arse?

Carola 11:59 AM  

Chiming back in to say I've found it interesting that some others know SPRUCE as a verb but not adjective. I don't think I've heard it used as an adjective for a long time but I remember as a child hearing grown-ups describe someone approvingly as looking "very SPRUCE," as in dapper, spiffy....

purplepol 12:11 PM  

Really enjoyed this Friday. Actually had more of a visual solving experience than usual--had to wait until double, nonsense, and dragon popped out at me as opposed to deciphering the clue.

Master Melvin 12:15 PM  

Don't care for CrossName puzzles like this one. Much prefer CrossWord puzzles.

Bronxdoc. 12:25 PM  

Exactly so. Not complaining. Enjoyed it.

jae 12:36 PM  

Easy-medium for me too. PIVEN and AMAZE gave me PAJAMA BOTTOMS and it went pretty smoothly from there. Scrod before SPRAT was my only real erasure ( non-real erasures are when you start to put in the wrong ANS but glance at the crosses and stop).

Delightful, liked it a lot!

Mohair Sam 1:04 PM  

@Nancy - Smart Car is a brand, and they are tiny. There are some here in the US, but they are huge (intended) in Europe.

Tough for us, concentration of PPP in the North made it so. Thank heavens for good old EZINE (Rex hates it, I know) or we woulda been fried. ODWALLA? What a name! Never heard of the product before so I'm not throwing rocks at it, but I stopped eating energy bars when I began reading the ingredients list and felt like I was looking at the cheat sheet for a Chemistry 301 exam.

Getting to like the Steinberg clues things more and more as time goes by, PAJAMABOTTOMS / ATTACKAD / SMARTCAR good examples today.

Anyone else notice that @Rex never told us how he felt about today's puzzle?

Masked and Anonymous 1:15 PM  

Hard one to get started on. Sneaky clues and skewed slightly name-y, on the top half. (I blame David, for that top half.)
Twice as many U's as yesterday's puz, and second day in a row I got to say that. Luvly trend.

First entry M&A could write in with at least 50% certainty: PAIL, after several minutes of window shoppin. Pitiful. The nanoseconds gushed by in torrents, before my eyes. Like most themeless grids with big stax at top and bottom, M&A gravitated to the relatively calm seas of the middle. With his PAIL and pooper scooper. Tried ARIA where the foreign gibberish clue was, then somehow thought of SPRAT. Then ventured ATTEST off the (presumed S)+T ending. Large Mexican border wall of black squares prevented any movement to the east.

Finished the puz, "moments" later, in the SW, with the K in AKC. AKC = doggies, I'm pretty sure. Nice weeject -- my fave, cuz I luv doggies. True recent story: Was goin over to inlaws' house to pick em up to take em to the airport for a month-long visit to their son's family over in Europe. Their dog was sittin in a mopey pile behind the front storm door. He knew from experience what all this fussin and packin meant. Bein slightly early, I came in and had a seat to wait -- dog immediately shuffled somberly over and nuzzled me in the knee, lookin for sympathy. Anyone who don't give a dog lots of attention in that situation must be as cold-hearted as the upper part of this here FriPuz. But, I doggress …

I assume SMARTCAR must be referring to the SMART Automobile division, as they make real small "microcars". But then, that's sorta like sayin FORDCAR, right? Ain't that a little wobbly-soundin? So … ok, then -- sweet desperation!

I will put my plain awful spellin attempt of SECHWAN up against all challengers.

Is HEH "snarky"? Seems more villainous, or somesuch. Wanted MEH. Yo to EZINE, as it's been almost a year, since we've seen it here, last. Been even longer for MISE-en-scene, whatever that is … but haven't mised it as much. Speakin of special events, congrats to Mr. Steinberg on NYTPuz #50. And the dude just started gettin published in 2011? Day-um. Must be one of them SMARTDUDEs.

Thanx, David P&S. M&A felt ganged up on, but still had fun.

Masked & Anonymo4Us

harder than snot:

Teedmn 1:21 PM  

I agree with @Rex's easy-medium rating. EZINE crossed AMAZE right away. I counted off at 16A to see if VANESSA WILLIAMS would fit and JANIE next to AGENDA made it so. 27D was duH momentarily. 36A was @Rex's SeCHUAN so I looked at 32D with Fe_ _ _ and wondered if "that's a FeR(r)ET!" was a phrase :-).

Hindi at 44D did not stop me from putting in MAKE MINE A DOUBLE off only the L (@Nancy, what kind of lushes are we?) and pointed the way to TAMIL. 28A was ebb before SAG but the only real block to a smooth solve was thinking APPALL had either two P's or two Ls but not both (online dictionary shows APPAL is also okay) so that cut off the flow a tad.

Nice collaboration, DP and DS, and congrats to DS on puzzle #50.

Hartley70 1:50 PM  

Crikey! No wonder I've fumbled around today. I just noticed it's Friday the 13th.

LaurieG in Connecticut 2:06 PM  

Cabbage = Moolah = Dough = Do Re Mi. Picture yourself as an extra on the set of "Guys and Dolls". I hope thi$ clarifie$ the $lang.

Chronic dnfer 3:15 PM  

Wheelhouse. Had to google to make sure Sichuan correct otherwise flew threw it. A rarity for me on a Friday. It's raining out again.

Martín Abresch 3:26 PM  

VANESSA WILLIAMS came to mind quickly because it was one of the answers in Joe Krozel's quintuple stack of 15-letter answers.

This puzzle was an easy Friday for me, though I got some key help from my puzzle partner who knew PIVEN, IMAGINE DRAGONS, and SPRAT.

Loved how clean the fill was, and I enjoyed the cluing. PAJAMA BOTTOMS, ODWALLA, ATTACK AD, and MAKE MINE A DOUBLE were highlights.

On the grid design, I think that I'm becoming a fan of a black central square and pairs of seven-letter answers in the central column and central row. It's not terribly common. So often, the center is where answers get shorter and choppier, but this design seems to open up white space.

Alby 4:09 PM  

As a former Washingtonian who was around for the ODWALLA E. coli outbreak, I knew the brand. Always heard the phrase as MAKEitADOUBLE. The inclusion of IMAGINEDRAGONS and DATINGAGENCIES as long answers reminds me of a Tinder Nightmares exchange:

"You like Imagine Dragons?"
"Yeah, why?"
"Sweet. Well imagine draggin' deez n--s across your face."

lg 6:03 PM  

Easy-Medium, yet your entire post is about how much you struggled? Hmmm, it was definitely medium-hard for me, due to the bottom. I had literally every odd down at the top, but no evens. But, filling out the rest was easy because of the crosses. The bottom however, was tough. DATINGANGENCIES is not what I would have expected. I Had DATINGwebsites first. That threw me off for a while. Never heard of GEESE for Chuckleheads before. Silly goose, yes, so I guess that's the connection. SPRUCE for neat? Maybe for the clue "neaten" or "tidy" but just the word "neat" doesn't work for me. The clues for CONS and DEN also don't make sense to me. Oh well.

ATTACKADS, SPRAT, SPLAY and SPLAYS were also tough clues. I also don't like RCA as a "Big maker of..." plasma TV's. RCA is not really "big" at making much of anything anymore.

Anonymous 6:08 PM  

Amen (but it's Friday!).

mac 6:18 PM  

Nice Friday puzzle, although I started out with VICTORIA BECKHAM (hi, Loren). I wrote in MOI and was convinced that wasn't right, it was just too funny!

Anyway, I had a good time with it. Just an enjoyable Friday!

Unknown 6:25 PM  

There was a heady moment there when I thought 15D: Little something for the road? was SMACERAL, although not how I thought it was spelled. As in 'a little smackeral of something': an amount of hunny that Winnie the pooh might have for elevenses. Alas, not to be.

orangeblossomspecial 6:31 PM  

Two hits from PAJAMA Game:

'Hey There', featuring John Raitt singing to a Dictaphone

'Whatever Lola wants'

Bella 6:50 PM  

It's spelled SICHUAN according to every mainland Chinese person since they invented pinyin as the PRC approved transliteration system. -Sincerely, a second generation Chinese immigrant

Anonymous 7:23 PM  

@Rex - So Jamie has the knife, Janie has the gun. A kinda pretty tune, IMO, the Aerosmith golden oldie in question.

Teedmn 8:07 PM  

TALKING NONSENSE = cODsWALLop, just sayin'

Nancy 8:32 PM  

@Teedmn (1:21 p.m.) -- I think I had two letters -- just the A and E of MAKE. But you did it off just 1 letter? I bow to the champ. Hic.

Nancy 8:37 PM  

@Wm C; Roo; Mohair -- You're absolutely right, all of you. I had no idea SMART CAR was a brand. I thought it was a car with artificial intelligence -- sort of like the computer that won Jeopardy.

Tim Pierce 8:50 PM  

Actually, the homecoming queen is the one who has the gun. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xG3yGdQYwqg

Z 9:47 PM  

I'm pretty sure that if there is a Whole Foods store near you you can find ODWALLA.

duH -> doH -> mEH -> HEH. I'd say something snarky but with that many writeovers it's probably best that I don't.

@Gill I - "Where's the Z?" - NC -> CO -> NC -> MI.
As for THONGS, it's plural so both.

@SMARTphone commentators - The "reply" function only exists on SMART phones. As a result, your "replies" appear as random non sequiturs to everyone else. If you want anyone else to understand what your are referencing using @earliercommenter is the minimum. Some sort of reference to the earlier comment would help, too.

kitshef 2:24 PM  

Puzzle of the year (to date). Here is what I did not love: EZINE. Everything else was a dream - just the right toughness, filled with magnificent words and phrases.

@Unknown at 6:25 - SMACkERAL of course requires the 'k'.

spacecraft 10:43 AM  

Perusing the clues at FIRST, I expected a typical toughie, especially with the co-bylines. Didn't know a thing--until "Thing, at bar," RES. I probably still would have gotten it from the clue "Thing at the bar," but omitting "the" made it a gimme. And from there it just flowed. I did have to keep thinking, but never too hard, and I wound up agreeing with the easy-medium rating. Even 29-down filled in from only the second T. In my neck of the woods we're being inundated with them; in fact one hopeful was flat-out called "Dirty Danny" in numerous ATTACKADs--and he won! Handily! Makes you wonder about the other guy!

Hand up for thinking it was SZECHUAN--and spicy doesn't even begin to describe it. Have copious amounts of water at the ready, folks. Just a couple more nits: how big a name can ODWALLA be? I never heard of it; it went in 100% on crosses. Oh, and the clue for 21-across is inaccurate, as the Stones will ATTEST:

You can't always get what you want, [REPEAT X2]
But sometimes, if you try real hard, you get whatcha NEED!

Hard to miss the DOD; she takes up the entire third line. But let us give honorable mention to oldie-but-goodie Stella STEVENS. Sorry, Cat. You my man. As far as constructors named David goes: MAKEMINEADOUBLE! Not quite a double-eagle, just the 2-under variety.

Burma Shave 12:02 PM  


as she SPLAYS a pair of THONGS,
she TALKSNONSENSE on how FIRST she got ‘em,

this stream of unconsciousness sponsored by DATINGAGENCIES

BS2 12:08 PM  

My writeover bled into the verse. SICHUAN.

rondo 12:32 PM  

Well I had troubles from the get-go. JANIE was easy until her PAJAMAdrawerS got in the way, and that “w” made the wAter running. Yeah baby VANESSAWILLIAMS should have been easier than she was, but at least I know what she’s got her nose into these days. And the daBoN made a mess in the SE.

Agree with @spacey re: NEED v. want. Not the same.

I’m guessing that, as clued, the THONGS are not footwear? Yeah baby. OGLES ensue. Cue SNAREDRUM.

CRIMEAN over-sized river, but it wasn’t easy for MOI. HEH.

Sailor 12:37 PM  

Feeling my age today. James who? What band? What celebrity fashion line? There was lots to like in the bottom 2/3 of this puzzle, but about the north end, what @Master Melvin said. I have not paid a lick of attention to the pop entertainment scene for years, decades really, and that made the north both uninteresting and undoable.

Sailor 2:54 PM  

Further thoughts on that north end, after noting @Z's PPP analysis: the problem with the very high PPP there is that you either knew those things, in which case that whole area was a dead gimme (as reflected in the number of commenters who found this puzzle easy), or not, in which case it was total WAG territory. From a construction point of view, you obviously want to be somewhere in between those extremes.

Szechuan, the spelling which lots of folks wanted for 36A, is not so much a variant as a holdover from the colonial-era Wade-Giles transliteration system, still in use in the USA in lots of restaurant names and menus. SICHUAN, however, is the approved modern spelling (since the 1980's) in the PRC-mandated Pinyin system.

Diana,LIW 3:07 PM  

Got the south - great for a Friday for me! Enjoyed the wrestling match.

The north, not so much. Not just the PPPs in my outhouse, I put in the usually hilariously wrong words at:

SMARTCAR - nightcap (I knew THAT had to be wrong, but it hung on...)
TALLY -clock
MOI - non (Knew it could be that, too)
SPRAT - smelt, which gave me:
SPLAYS - sparks
ebb, lag, SAG was on my own, tho
respelled SHICHUAN a few times - heh - like just then - shish

Had Shitake Mushroom Stir Fry with edamame last night (from Mr. T. Joe) - just spicy enuf for me. I agree, @Spacey, that edamame wouldn't seem read "snacky" (or would that be snackey?) to me. But fine in a stir fry.

Per @Longbeachlee - I, too, wondered how Chaos could declare an alphabet run a dnf. I guess it would be on a "device" since said machine would tell you if you were correct. Another reason to solve on paper. With pencil. And eraser.

Looking up a couple of PPPs changed things a lot. So I'll take my half done, and call it a day.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords, and Dragons, Imagine that

rain forest 3:22 PM  

Easy-medium-lucky for me today. At first I wasn't going anywhere. MOI, RES, PAIL, ARIA. That was it, but then I just put in AMAZE, JANIE, and EZINE, and that was (sort of) the key to the North, ie, Canada, even without knowing PIVEN or ODWALLA (?). Sounds like an Australian marsupial.J Btw, NEED and "want" aren't necessarily synonymous, but mostly, I think people do want what they NEED, unless you're a greedy little bastard.

Lucky guesses at SAG and SEAGRAM, combined with DATING as the start to 57A made the South relatively easy. I balked at SPRUCE as equivalent to "neat", and still wonder. Maybe I'll look it up. Maybe not.

Finished up in the middle where the spelling of SICHUAN was an issue, and completely not knowing why Taft had TRUSTS as targets. "I hate them damn trusts. Trust me on this".

Very nice Friday puzzle.

leftcoastTAM 4:13 PM  

Much like Rex's experience with this one, except of course it took me eons longer and, worse, I cheated to get CRIMEAN, which opened the way to the finish line.

I had written in Malayan and wanted to stick with it, though I wasn't sure of it, and it didn't work.

I liked the top and bottom tiers of long answers. One of them, IMAGINEDRAGONS gave me fits. Getting ODWALLA (with spouse's help--yes, I cheated twice) helped a lot there.

Even with the DNF, I enjoyed it and look forward to tomorrow's.

kitshef 5:47 PM  

@Longbeachlee, @Diana -

about a week ago (you'll see the post four weeks from now), I finally clued in to the fact that 'run the alphabet' was being used in two different senses. For the paper solver, it means you sit there and think 'could an A go there? could a B go there?' until you get the AHA!

But for someone using an app, it means typing in an A, then typing in a B, etc., until you get 'the happy music', whatever that might be (In my mind's ear, it's the jingle to the original Muppet Show).

I would concur that only the latter is a DNF - and really, at that point why not just use the 'reveal' button?

Sailor 8:31 PM  

One more usage note, and then I'm done for the day, I promise.

Re want vs. NEED: the older sense of "want" is, precisely, to lack what one needs. Think: "to be in want." It's from the Old Norse "vanta" meaning "deficient."

It's only in recent times -- America's post WWII prosperity, perhaps? -- that "want" has come to be synonymous with the desire for something that is not needed. I notice that some dictionaries are beginning to tag the older sense of "want" as archaic.

And that's all for today. See you here tomorrow, I hope.

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