First of minor prophets / THU 7-21-16 / Bitter component of tea / Prominent feature of Bert / 1960s chess champ Mikhail / Advantage for hockey team / Tandoori products

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Constructor: Jason Flinn

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: BAD LUCK (62A: Supposed consequence of any of the three no-nos in this puzzle) — things that are bad luck, represented literally in the puzzle. Thus:

Theme answers:
  • 14A: With 1-Across, no-no #1 (WALKING [under] A LADDER)
  • 19D: With 41-Across, no-no #2 (BLACK CAT [crossing] ONE'S PATH)
  • 38D: With 57-Down, no-no #3 (MIR / ROR [i.e. a "broken" mirror]) 
Word of the Day: KARYN White (20A: ___ White, singer of the 1991 #1 hit "Romantic") —
Karyn Layvonne White (born October 14, 1965) is an American singer who was popular during the late 1980s and early 1990s. She is best known for her R&B singles; "Superwoman" (1989), "Secret Rendezvous" (1989), "The Way You Love Me" (1988), and the Billboard Hot 100 number one single "Romantic" (1991). (wikipedia)

• • •

I lit this thing on fire, so it was hard to get a clear picture of this thing while I was solving. I think my minimal groaning indicates that it's pretty strong. The theme is definitely clever—I've seen this kind of literal representation of answers a lot before, but the tightness of the theme here is impressive. The "broken" MIR/ROR is not like the others, in that describing the two answer parts in relation to one another does not result in your literally saying the bad luck phrase (i.e. it's not "MIR [over] ROR" or "MIR [crack] ROR"), but it's still fits the broad parameters of the theme. The puzzle's only real problem is how weak it gets in the short fill. It's a bit of an old-school crosswordese cavalcade, with ILO, TAL, OLLA, SSRS, IDEM, and ENA all making appearances, and NAANS trying to convince us that it's a plural (at least it's the correct two-A spelling).

I lucked out by guessing 1D: Have an eye-opening experience (AWAKEN) right off the bat, which meant the first letters of all NW Acrosses were locked in place. Still took some work to see WALKING under A LADDER, but I just kept filling in crosses without much hesitation until that answer became clear. Blanked on ED O'NEILL (33A: "Modern Family" actor) at first despite knowing his work well. Had no idea Baba Mustafa was a TAILOR in "Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves," but, again, crosses. Had IBID before IDEM (44A: As above, in citations), and (my favorite mistake) CORN DOGS before CORN MAZE (thanks, IBID!) (29D: Autumn attraction). Nothing else too remarkable here. Solid work overall.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


jae 12:07 AM  

Easy-medium for me with SW on the tough side. Tried DEA and NRA before NSA and air before SKY and got fooled on DDAY clue. Also eyeBROW before UNI.

KARYN was a WOE, fortunately DKNY was not.

It's nice to see Al Bundy reincarnated as Jay Pritchett.

A bit too easy for a Thurs., but a fun solve or what @Rex said, liked it.

Gabe Tuerk 12:20 AM  

Surprised no mention of Tsar crossings SSRs. Thought it clever

I was comfortable with break a mirror (still am) and got it before the other luckless items.

Silliness in this sense seems ... silliness itself

George Barany 12:22 AM  

Very clever theme by @Jason Flinn, and kind review by @Rex who continues to dazzle with his solving speed.

In contrast, silly me, thinking SLAPSTICK would work instead of SILLINESS, but that was not REALISTIC. Also, thinking Barry seemed like a reasonable enough White singer for a #1 love song during a time I was paying attention to other things, thinking of Dior ahead of DKNY, and thinking of a different Jacques (Brel).

I did note an amusing continuity with yesterday's STAR_CROSSED_LOVE puzzle in at least part of the theme, insofar as the BLACK_CAT was crossing ONE'S_PATH. Seeing MIR at 38-Down had me reminiscing about the time this Russian satellite fell from the SKY. Accentuating these connections, TSAR crossed SSRS.

David 12:46 AM  

If you haven't heard of the French filmmaker and aren't connected to any of Ali Baba's thieves on LinkedIn, sAILOR and TAsI can seem perfectly acceptable and just as good, I would say. Guessing I won't be the only commenter today to question that square's gettability. The answers are unambiguous, but sufficiently arcane not to want them crossing.

AliasZ 1:04 AM  

Do you suffer from triskaidekaphobia? Then today's theme was quite REALISTIC for you. For me, it was an exercise in SILLINESS. Oops, I just knocked over the salt-cellar -- gotta throw a pinch behind my left shoulder.

Cute enough theme, if a little on the light side for a Thursday. I would've preferred a crunchier, perhaps rebus-laden puzzle, definitely with fewer names. After HOSEA, LAGASSE and ED O'NEILL Jason Flinn should've called it quits. But TAL, KARYN (who?), ENA, MARNE, OLSENS, etc. plus NAANS, SSRS, RGS, and especially OLLA (!) and ETUI (!!) left a bad taste in my craw. ETUI, Brute?

"ATRISKet, a-trasket,
A green and yellow brasket"
This doesn't sound quite right...

I think this sounds a lot better: Chorale Prelude "Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme" (Sleepers, AWAKEN), BWV 645, by J.S. Bach.


Mike S 1:38 AM  

I think it is Broken Mirror

Karl Bradley 1:40 AM  

Hi! Can someone explain why TAGSOUT is correct for 42D?

chefwen 1:41 AM  

My first entry was slap stick at 21D which was perfect until the only letter that seemed to work was the S. Dang, first in first out. AWAKEN came to me pretty quickly and I was able to get the theme early on with walking under the ladder. Fun stuff. The cracked MIR ROR was the last to fill with a loud AH HA! Clever.

Mike 2:29 AM  

I enjoyed this one.

phil phil 3:15 AM  

I think 'break' is the action word here, Rex
Breaking a mirror

Charles Flaster 4:13 AM  

Very easy but three fun themers with broken MIR/ROR my favorite.
Lots of CrosswordEASE--ETUI, TAL, NAANS, and TAOS.
Write overs--D DAY for iDes and wanted Slapstick for three Stooges clue but ARENA saved me.
Thanks JF

Martín Abresch 4:24 AM  

I liked seeing Bert and his UNIBROW appear two days after his best friend ERNIE.

My partner (the Ernie to my Bert) helped on a few answers today. She knew LAGASSE, DKNY, MARNE, and COAL_OIL. She also was wise enough to get me to turn off the RNC. We watched an episode of "The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt" instead.

I was held up for a bit because I had SLAPSTICK instead of SILLINESS (Typical Three Stooges comedy). Silly doesn't strike me as the right word for describing the Three Stooges. Their comedy is too painful—bonking on the head and grabbing by the ear. Silliness, in my mind, connotes frivolity.

Loren Muse Smith 5:38 AM  

I didn't guess AWAKEN right off the bat, so my aha moment came quite a bit later. This was like yesterday with the placement of the themers being a literal representation of the answer – I love that.

BAD LUCK comes in threes. Cool.

I thought I had fixed my error by changing "seal oil" to COAL OIL (and losing the ridiculous "ear" part for that gondola), but I still had a dnf because of the 23A TATI/TAILOR cross. I went with "Tasi/sailor" after rejecting "Taji/jailor."

I also put in "big nose" immediately for UNIBROW. Nice that it's right over SINGLE.

And my first thought for the 35A long distance relationship aid was "email." I. Hate. SKYPE. Much prefer not letting my conversation partner know I have hat hair and and dried marshmallow on my chin. Or was it toothpaste. White-out, maybe. (But, yes, I did go into town to the Dollar General recently only to discover hours later that I had been sporting a bright white spot of something on my chin. Then I stand there and try to tell myself that maybe no one noticed. Right. It was the size of a small tooth. Maybe if people had mistaken it for a tooth stuck to my chin, they would've given me quite a wide berth.)

I like thinking about superstitions, especially the little private personal ones people have. I have so many, but a big one is doing my level best not to laugh at someone falling down because I'm convinced that I'll fall soon after. As I should. So I enjoyed this, especially with the slow aha moment. Thanks, JF.

No BS 5:55 AM  

Anyone else get stuck with TASI and SAILOR?

Trombone Tom 6:54 AM  

What @Rex said, even to the point of having Ibid before IDEM.

This was a clever combination of theme and physical arrangement by Jason Flinn. It was on the easy side for a Thursday for me, but never as easy as it seems to be for OFL.

CORN MAZE was a cinch as there is a huge one each year in nearby Dixon, CA.

You don't hear of kerosene referred to as COAL OIL much these days. I feel fortunate never to have had kerosene administered with sugar as a cure for a cough, as was common in the days of my ancestors.

All in all a fun puzzle with a good payoff.

Conrad 7:03 AM  

@Karl Bradley, think baseball: A second baseman TAGS OUT a runner who is trying to steal.

Lewis 7:15 AM  

"Slapstick" and "Barry" held me up until my CSS kicked in (crossword sixth sense). The WALKING under the LADDER made for a sweet aha. I loved the clues for CREATES and TAGSOUT. There were areas of tussle, which are my favorite parts (they are hell during, and feel so good when they fall), so it was a fun solve. I loved the clever theme and execution, and while I'm not superstitious, after facing these bad luck indicators, I'm feeling like throwing some salt over my shoulder. That should work, knock on wood.

Melissa Bernardi 7:15 AM  


crabsofsteel 7:27 AM  

@Karl Bradley ... in baseball, if you tag someone out, you have prevented them from stealing. It took me a while too.

Mark 7:51 AM  

I found the puzzle quite hard.

Karl, Tags out is a baseball reference. If try and steal a base, but get tagged out then you were stopped from stealing

Suzy 7:54 AM  

@Karl-- tags out prevents stealing a base. Yes, it's awkward! Otherwise, nice puzzle!!

Z 7:58 AM  

jAILOR here.

@Kari Bradley - At the risk of being one amongst millions - TAGS OUT is what the second baseman does to the base runner when the base runner tries to steal second base.

The "slap" in slapstick seems most apropos for The Three Stooges, but the inevitable pie fight is the epitome of SILLINESS. Wondering if the pie fight would be considered an add-in or an add-on. Har.

I generally liked this puzzle despite the inclusion of TAsI/TAjI/TATI. But I am predicting issues with the PPP. When you get the interestingly spelt LAGASSE crossing the interestingly spelt KARYN and ED O'NEILL you are inviting frustration. Counting up the Pop Culture, Product Names, and Proper Nouns was surprisingly high in the across clues (16 of 37). The Downs were better, only 9 taking the puzzle total to 25/76. 33% and many classic -ese in the PPP count means this is likely to be a hard solve for people newer to crosswords.

(Follow up from yesterday's political/religion talk - You've been warned)

@Mohair Sam from late last night - I copped to sarcasm. The failure to see the equivalencies, though, is exactly my point. I have many Muslim friends who decry Wahhabism and all that is has wrought (which is a big part of why they are Arab-Americans). Americans make the mistake of thinking we are somehow immune to similar beliefs in our own country. Look at the lengths Oklahoma went to to kill someone and explain how they are better than the Sauds (or the Spanish Inquisition for that matter). Or look at my list of nut jobs from yesterday - each claiming the mantle of holiness to justify murder. This shows how close to the mainstream our own flavor of religious extremism is.

Unknown 8:02 AM  

In baseball, if someone on base tries to "steal" the next base by running over he can be tagged out if a player from the opposing team gets to him with the ball.

kitshef 8:15 AM  

Two really great puzzles in a row. Theme is clever and very well executed.

Fell straight into the Slapstick trap.

WoEs were ILO and KARYN White. Having made a big stink about ENA a couple of weeks ago, I put it right in this time.

First in was the great TAL, followed by TANNIN. I'm guessing everyone followed that same path?

Gabe Tuerk 8:18 AM  

Tags Out refers to applying a tag to a baserunner (sometimes) attempting to steal a base in baseball. It is used in other senses where the baserunner isn't necessarily stealing (play at plate or pickoff) but it was still cleverly done - especially abutting Home(ice) -tho' most don't steal home

pmdm 8:19 AM  

Karl Bradley: If during a baseball game you are on first base, and if you try to steal second base after the pitcher throws a pitch, the catcher may throw the ball to the second baseman who may tag you out. Get it?

NCA President 8:20 AM  

Pretty easy for me. I thought the theme was serviceable and I liked the literalness of the themers. Not quite up to a typical Thursday-like inventiveness, this was more Wednesday-like to me on all counts, but I liked the puzzle over all.

Ah, "ONES," how we've [not] missed ye.

Let me just say how redeemed I feel knowing that Rex had Ibid too. I have this really hazy recollection of my HS English class and doing footnotes. There are a few of those Latin footnote words still rolling around in my head. I have no idea what they mean any more, so a footnote word that starts with "I" immediately made me think of ibid. ADELINE made me rethink it and then I started thinking of other "I" Latin words/phrases I, "id est." And voila, IDEM came into view. One day maybe we'll see op cit...lord knows we see enough "et alia/i"s.

@Kurt Bradley...I'm only guessing, but if you TAG someone OUT, you prevent them from not only stealing, but scoring as well. I'm thinking a scenario where the pitcher throws over to first base and catches a runner too far off the bag. The pitcher and first baseman prevented the steal. I suppose when a catcher throws someone out at second that is also preventing a steal. So yeah...tagging out effectively prevents basically all base running.

kitshef 8:22 AM  

Another Mikhail, Botvinnik, was world chess champion immediately before AND immediately after TAL. Strangely, he rarely appears in crosswords.

@Karl Bradley - it's a baseball thing. If a runner is trying to steal a base, he will fail if the defensive player TAGS him OUT.

Anonymous 8:28 AM  

"D-Day" clued By offensive "Date " doesn't seem right. Offensive moment ? Offensive engagement? Offensive commencement? Offensive thrust? Lots of better possibilities.

G.Harris 8:30 AM  

A runner attempting to steal a base is prevented from doing so when he is tagged out.

G.Harris 8:31 AM  

A runner attempting to steal a base is prevented from doing so when he is tagged out.

Hartley70 8:44 AM  

I thought the cluing was clever today and the BADLUCK threesome made a fun theme. I would have loved a Friday the thirteenth placement.

I expected a salt spill before I saw a BLACKCAT. I didn't know KARYN nor remember that Bert had a UNIBROW, but the crosses took care of that. My time was above average, but my easy rating doesn't detract from my enjoyment at all.

This was an excellent start to a fabulous morning, but maybe I should knock on wood as I say that.

Tita A 8:52 AM  

I love this kind of spatial wordplay. Seen it before, can't get enough.
The Ali Baba clue kept me wanting to fit ALLADeN st 1A, so took me forever to get the theme.

I was just out trying to catch FIREFLYs last night. In Portuguese the y are pirilampos...from the Greek for fire lamps. Maybe they use arE LOKI as their fuel? (Hi, @lms)

Yes. I love the SILLy clue for CLUE.

totally agree with @Martin about the Stooges clue. Never, ever liked them. What's funny about getting poked in the eye repeatedly! Guess it's better then getting kicked in the balls and/or fasting, which seems to have replaced that.

There was a CORNMAZE for a couple of generations near me...each year a different theme. Then Costco dangled moving there store from a quarter mile away to that farmland. Owners couldn't resist, and booted the farmer.
When along the paved-over desolation that is Route 7 they're are countless empty big boxes, all the town's here need is to add yet another to that inventory, and then to pave over an actual green space.
So Costco stayed where they are, but the maze is just a memory.

Sorry for that...those farmers had produced the best corn I've ever eaten, do a bit of door grapes to their pointless demise.

I'm also embarrassed to learn that I've unwittingly had Alterior motives all my life.

Thanks Mr. Flinn!

Marcy 8:53 AM  

KARL: 42D - think baseball, as in "tags out" can prevent stealing a base. Clever & refreshing theme!

Mohair Sam 8:54 AM  

Hand up with the multitude who thought Mr. Mustafa sailed rather than tailed. Judging by the outfits depicted by Disney a TAILOR would be a heck of a lot busier than a sailor among that lot for sure.

Very clever theme that made for a fun Thursday. Played challenging for us because what PPP there was hit us in our weak spots (HOSEA, TATI, KARYN, IDEM, TAL) and was located where it gave us trouble. How many ways are there to spell the name ONEILL? LOved the clue for CLUE. Speaking of which: We were stuck for a while on the Eastern side of the puzzle when Lady Mohair yelled "CLUE, SIP, BLACKCAT crossing ONESPATH" and did a little victory dance - you should have seen it.

@Carl Brady - It's a baseball reference.

About a year before she passed away we took my older sister to one of Emeril LAGASSE's steak houses here in Bethlehem, PA. She bought me an Emeril apron as a thank you gift. I cook every other night here, and wear that apron every single time. Memories.

Terrific Thursday Jason Flinn - thank you.

Nancy 8:54 AM  

Even though it was easier than many other Thursdays, I loved this puzzle to death. I was especially smitten with the MIR ROR pairing. But what on earth is a CORN MAZE? I knew that CaRN MAZE couldn't be right, and that, therefore, my IDA NEILL at 33A was wrong. But IDO NEILL would have been ridiculous. An actor who gets married a lot? You see, I had LAGASSi instead of LAGASSE at 2D, which kept me from seeing ED ONEILL. So technically, I DNF, though I feel in my gut that I solved it. I saw the theme straight off with WALKING under A LADDER. Great fun!

Wm. C. 9:05 AM  

@KarlB1:40 --

Think Baseball.

jberg 9:17 AM  

Me too with 'slapstick' first. So when I looked at 50A I saw that C and muttered to myself 'I don't know what this could be, but at least it isn't SSRS.' Then I got it all from crosses without noticing.

Somme before MARNE, RECAll before RECANT, IN A bit before FEW. So it was a little tougher for me, but I did like the theme.

@Karl Bradley -- it's baseball, if you TAG OUT a runner he can't steal a base.

AskGina 9:53 AM  

Eyebrow instead of unibrow (stuck w red nose before that) so dnf. But I like am easy Thursday so loved the rest of it

Anonymous 9:58 AM  

Agree with David and No BS above. I was also Naticked on the TATI/TAILOR cross, as I have no idea of Jacques who directed "Play Time" and SAILOR is a valid answer.

@Karl Bradley: It's a baseball term. One TAGSOUT a base runner when he or she is attempting to steal a base.


AZPETE 10:15 AM  

Count me in!

AZPETE 10:16 AM  

I guess your abuse is my frivolity!

Roz R. 10:18 AM  

@Karl Bradley, 42-Down relates to baseball. A player attempting to steal a base is prevented from achieving that by being tagged. Ergo, he's out.

johnny stocker 10:19 AM  

@No BS Right here with the TASI/SAILOR error. Would've been a pretty quick Thursday otherwise, but it took me a couple minutes to suss out that error. I've done enough puzzles that I should know Jacques TATI by now, but slipped my mind. I have a feeling it'll stick with me now, though.

Anonymous 10:21 AM  


Kristen Carter 10:33 AM  


ArtO 10:39 AM  

Took some work but Thursday is never "easy" for me. Liked the theme very much.o

Carola 10:42 AM  

Pleasantly medium for me, even though I got the idea early with WALKING under ALADDER - and even though there were quite a few entries from the fill-it-right-in crossword repertoire: ENA, TAL, TATI, NSEC, SSRS, NSA, NEE, NAANS, ETUI, OLLA. Nicely done theme! I really liked the surprise of the broken MIRROR.

ani 11:05 AM  

Stealing a base

Bryan 11:05 AM  


mac 11:20 AM  

Nice theme, fun solve, but way too many acronyms, the bane of my puzzle existence...

Roo Monster 11:26 AM  

Hey All !
Liked the theme. I made a Sunday size one similar to this, with more themers, natch, but was just getting ready to mail it in. Seems like every time I either mail one in, or get close to mailing, that particular theme comes out from someone else. Argh!

The MIR ROR was actually kind of difficulty to figure out. And who is Sweet ADELINE? Wanted Clementine, not fit, then Caroline, again, not fit. Also had bARry for KARYN, and erenoW for INAFEW. Wanted something more than SILLINESS for Stooges answers, like Slappiness or some such. Never much of a Stooges fsn, physical comedy is one thing, but theirs was too much.

Weird clue for LIZARDS. Our old friend ETUI is back after what seems like a long hiatus. Actually liked clue for NSEC, clever.


Jay Apking 11:27 AM  

It's a baseball reference. Tagging out someone trying to steal a base.

Anonymous 11:30 AM  

Yes. Here in Natick, we didn't catch the Tasi and Sailor problem because it seemed more reasonable that Baba Mustafa would be a sailor than a tailor. Never heard of Ed ONeill or Karyn White and I'm not sure I like that NSA clue. Thought it was going to be DEA. i would have said that Zeppelin's realm was a federal courtroom, so I was a little baffled at first about sky. Oh, wait, wasn't there a spirit in the sky before there was a zeppelin in the sky?

duceman33 11:32 AM  

Referring to baseball not retail theft lol
"Threw" me also

Ralph 11:37 AM  


Steve R 11:50 AM  

"Tags out" as in baseball

old timer 11:50 AM  

I wanted TATI at once though I never heard of "Play Time". Which is "Playtime" in the original French. Though the title is English. I saw his earlier work, Les vacances de M. Hulot and Mon Oncle, when I was in school.

Slowed down a bit by not knowing Emeril's last name right away. The rest of the puzzle was very Easy. The only groan-worthy answer was REL, an abbreviatiion no one has used ever. The real WOE for me was EDONEILL, but it was gettable on crosses.

derrick eckardt 11:58 AM  

Hi Karl,

It's a baseball reference. If someone tries to steal a base, you have to tag them out with the ball.

Michelle Turner 12:02 PM  

Think baseball.

oldactor 12:03 PM  

Instead of MIR//ROR, I wanted HAT//BED. Anyone else?

El Finger 12:12 PM  


T Cruz 1:11 PM  

First, I would like to congratulate Jason on getting a puzzle published in the NYTimes. It's no mean accomplishment to do so, and facts speak for themselves: this puzzle got published.

That being said, I would like to focus on how you should react to this puzzle. If, for some reason you find the gravamen of this puzzle to your liking, that's fine - laud it as you will. If on the other hand, there are things you find distasteful about this puzzle, I'll help you damn it. Hell, I'll rant on for quite a while damning it. I don't particularly care if I come across as a petulant ass, I'll damn it. TA[TS]I / [TS]AILOR? what sort of pathological narcissist would leave that obvious, pointless bit of confusion in a puzzle? A man who doesn't love American Values, that's who. And just wait, he'll blame it on some inter/editor in a day or two. What, you knew TATI? He was required viewing in your "International Auteur Film Studies" class at Barnard? Well lah-di-dah. I tell you, in Texas we don't know TATI, we have a God-given right not to know TATI, and no socialist Supreme Court will ever abrogate our right not to know TATI!

Masked and Anonymous 1:17 PM  

Only 3 U's. What bad luck!

Well done theme.
Some other possibilities that understandably didn't make the cut…






FURTE [tough one to get]

fave weeject: ROR. It appears that some LIZARDS, in the wrong place at the wrong time, will now have 7 years of BADLUCK.

I had pretty good luck, solving this puz, btw. Thanx, Mr. Flinn.


Teedmn 1:24 PM  

Yes, in my grid, Baba Mustafa was a sAILOR ASEA, like so many others. COAL gas (at least it IS a fuel) left some COAL-like deposits in my SE and I must REpeNT of mistaking it for RECANT at first.

I DIDN'T like the way 57D was shaping up, as ROR made little sense but once I got the 1A and 14A pairs, I was able to fill in quite a bit of the theme entries. I used to do a 8K run at an apple orchard in October, and the last section took you through a CORN MAZE which was my favorite part (they blocked off the wrong turns so you didn't have to worry about solving the MAZE while tired).

Nice that we had the good LUCK of getting this fun Jason Flinn Thursday puzzle.

Michael Greenebaum 1:38 PM  

I wanted to make the [initially HIDDEN] AGENDA part of the theme but I guess it wasn't.

Chip Hilton 2:48 PM  

@David, and others - one error for me, TAsI and sAILOR. I should've caught it, recognizing the director's name as I do, but once sAILOR went in, I never checked the cross. Tsk, tsk, tsk.

Fun puzzle, clever theme, sullied by some of the three-letter answers.

I know I should watch his speech tonight, but I'd rather watch Kim and Kanye, if it came to that.

Anonymous 3:21 PM  

By my count, 25 "Baseball" responses to @Karl in the last batch of 32. D'ya get the point, @Karl.

This is one of a number of reasons why this moderated format detracts from the blog quality.

On this one I'll be ---

Anonymous. ;-)

OISK 4:12 PM  

@Nancy and I share a DNF at roughly the same spot. Having spent all my autumns in Brooklyn NY, I have never heard of a corn maze, (or if I have, I ignored it...) although Google tells me there is one in Queens each September. I had ID E_ and I couldn't remember what the letter was. Like Rex, I had IBID first. So I ended up with ID Ed and Corn Daze. Which seemed like an appropriate name for a harvest festival. I considered "maze" as well, liking id em better than id ed, but guessed wrong this time.

Otherwise, nice puzzle, and despite my error, pretty easy for a Thursday.

foxaroni 6:28 PM  

Like almost everyone, had "slapstick" for "silliness," "air" for "sky," "ibid" for "idem," "onebrow" for "unibrow," etc. Nice to know all the great minds on this blog run in the same channels!

TAGS OUT refers to retail vendors--usually clothiers--who make sure their price TAGS are displayed OUTside of the garments, so no one walks away (steals) with them. At first I thought it was a baseball reference, but I knew that couldn't be right....

Proud Mamma 7:12 PM  

Not easy. Liked the theme, not the fill. I too had slapstick. SW had me stumped. One of thses days I might remember Bambi's aunt.

Rabi Abonour 8:13 PM  

I enjoyed this a lot as a light, clever Thursday. Pretty good time, but I got Naticked on ADELINE/IDEM.

Anonymous 9:14 PM  

For god's sake, @Rex, bring back the trolls! They are infinitely preferable to a thousand people explaining basic baseball rules to somebody who probably knew perfectly well but unfortunately just didn't think of it! Please, please have mercy!!
This was a lovely puzzle. Many thanks!

Sheryl 9:26 PM  

@Z Hard solve for me - much harder than the usual Thursday - and I think you nailed why.

Ben Hartwell 11:12 PM  

Solved this one sitting next to an Indian colleague. Asked if, then later confirmed that NAANS is correct: "a billion people are groaning"

Even my autocorrect didn't recognize it as I was typing this comment.

Leapfinger 11:28 PM  

@Karl, I suspect you of a base canard.


I'm going to start growing my own tea in my garden' I just have to prepare a special TANNIN bed.

Waiting for @Vlad

ulysses 11:50 PM  

Apparently I DNFed. F that.

Leapfinger 6:45 AM  

@Chip Hilton, I don't know that I'd go as far as Kim and Kanye. Maybe I'll just sit in the closet and say Ommmm my Gawd

Alan 1:29 PM  

Maybe this was just me, but my eyeballs went straight past the "living" part of the visible from space clue, and I confidently threw in GREATwAllofchina, which of course fits. Held me up for a while, but only until I had STICKSANDSTONES in place, which had to be right, prompting me to reread the REEF clue. Didn't know LEEKRASNER or MERLE, but I can't imagine anything but the 'R' at that cross.

Prosper Bellizia 7:56 PM  

Explain EST as the answer to 22 Across
"Is in Paris or old Rome?"

Z 9:56 PM  

@Prosper Bellizia - The equivalent of "Is" is spelled the same in French and Italian (although the pronunciation is different), EST.

spacecraft 11:18 AM  

Well, I thought I was Setting it on fire too, with that big. obvious, central gimme Slapstick. Man, talk about clue entrapment! That one cost time, bigtime, so no, not easy for me. More ink blots in the NE with SINGerS instead of the much better clue-fitting SINGLES. And, more time. As a frame of reference vis-a-vis OFL's two or three minutes, I happened to begin this puzzle exactly on the hour, so I noted my finish time out of curiosity. Forty minutes, and that was straight-ahead, no-break thinking and solving. And, I knew TAL.

Clues were late-week tough; I'd say even further along than Thursday. It was fun sussing some of them out--the entire first column, e.g. I agree with OFL's assessment of the short fill; those two bars in the NE/SW that break down those sixes into threes make for some choppy (A)SEA. ONA REL is particularly yucky. Plus, we have a new Random category: RFL (random football linemen).

Indeed, the price for a beastly clever theme is high. I enjoyed working it out, and even figuring out what really went into 21-down. But all that short SILLINESS detracts. The choice for DOD is either KARYN...or KARYN. I guess I can't keep the LIZ of LIZARDS for another day, can I? This one is totally unknown to me, so I hope she wears her tiara well. KARYN it is. Despite the short-fill shakiness, I'll give this one a birdie. As I said, I enjoyed the solve.

Burma Shave 11:42 AM  


WALKING into the pub, be REALISTIC, there are lounge LIZARDS INAFEW,
if one STALKS you CLOSEUP, say, “Hey SAILOR, I’ve been ALERTED about you.”


Longbeachlee 12:18 PM  

To all the Tati dissers: Mr. Hulot's Holiday and Mon Oncle were as funny as any film ever made. I saw them 70 years ago and I still chuckle when I think of them. Any sign of pretentiousness makes me think of the penurious rich uncle who only turns on the fountain when the doorbell rings, and turns it right off again if the ringer is declasse, such as when it's the poor nephew portrayed by Tati.

Bananafish 12:42 PM  

JAILOR/TAJI here. Made the most sense to me since Aladdin gets jailed for srealing fruit, at least n the Disney version. I don't remember anyone having a suit fitted.

I am not one to complain much about fill like the rest of you -- heck, I like crosswordese -- but I find it hard to believe you all gave a pass to the ETA/TAL/ETUI area. Heck, it's not like TANNIN or ALIGN have any sparkle to them.

rondo 12:47 PM  

EDONEILL steered me away from Slapstick (for which I also had considered pratfallS), but the rhiNE and RECAll and deA created a huge inkfest in the SW. Also started to enter sweet caroLINE before realizing it didn’t fit. Lotsa Pilot G-2 blue ink spilled in that corner. No way I call this puz easy.

First time I remember seeing LAGASSE instead of the more xword friendly Emeril.

DKNY was a Big Apple slam dunk. I can usually find DKNY jeans in my size on the closeout rack at Macy’s for half price, or less.

Twin yeah babies in the OLSENS today. Are they still SINGLES? No CLUE here. I was not in the pop music ARENA in 1991, so I had to google KARYN, yeah baby.

BLACKCAT used to be the expensive brand of firecrackers, when I cared about that stuff.

A DNF was ATRISK in the SW, nothing pools of ink couldn’t fix though. Can’t believe OFL was not railing against the spate of recent cross-referencing. He found this puz easy, but I DIDN’T.

kitshef 1:37 PM  

@Bananafish - rip on ETA and ETUI all you want, but leave the magnificent TAL out of it!

@rondo - always found the twins very offputting. Elizabeth is my OLSEN of choice.

leftcoastTAM 2:42 PM  

Well, it looked "Easy" after finishing but it was not so easy in getting there, mainly because the PPP content slowed me down.

I liked the theme. Clever and cleverly done, and it definitely helped in the solve.

Pauses at the TANNIN/TAL crossing, until realizing that not only wines have tannins, and the CORNMAZE/LIZARDS crossing, due to mental cross-circuiting of maize and maze.

Like others, DEA before NSA, quite a mislead, but NAANS and ATRISK sorted that out clearly enough.


Diana,LIW 2:44 PM  

Not knowing a lot of the pop culture stuff made the solve less than fun for me. Had a couple of lookups.

But the theme, as placed, was fun.

Good ole ENA and ETUI make a comeback.

Now, to last Thursday. Hope my brain works better there.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

rain forest 3:05 PM  

I think I'm getting something here. Yes, I think that TAGS OUT is a baseball reference.

I liked this puzzle a lot, particularly the broken MIR ROR. Cute. I must be that rarity who didn't think of "slapstick" and so that possible problem eluded me. Also, I guess if you just know TATI, then that crossing was just a gimme.

Interesting, to me at least, that the puzzle played easy and yet had a number of clues that were testing. I had fun with it.

@Z - I generally like your erudite comments, frequently with an admixture of supporting information via links. Re @Rex, I have vacillated between ignoring his propensity to point out things that I just don't see in the same vein, and out-and-out disagreeing with him. I know it is pointless to air my disagreement, but sometimes I can't help myself. Thus, when a puzzle contains a word, or a series of words that trigger(s) one of his "strange" comments, I actually knit my brow (kmb) and wonder what the heck is going on. Why do I not react similarly? Maybe I'm obtuse, or maybe Rex just can't help himself either.

Z 3:27 PM  

@rain forest - Just wait. Five weeks in the future you'll get a full out left v right tête a tête regarding Gitmo and Rex didn't even write the blog. I cut myself off after two Gitmo comments.

Sailor 9:57 PM  

So, this feels kinda weird. Seems like there is always someone here ready to complain that commenters like the puzzles when they know they answers, and don't when they don't. And today we have a puzzle that lots of people liked, in spite of finding it easy, but no complaints. Hunh.

I found the theme to be kinda cute, but thin. Lotsa ETA, ILO, ONA, REL kinda fill, but also some fun clues for TAGSOUT and FIREFLY.

It would have been easy for everyone, I guess, if it hadn't been for the PPP fill which you either knew, or didn't. Lots of you did, but there was some that I didn't: KARYN crossing LAGASSE crossing EDONEILL made the NW a challenge.

Most of this puzzle seemed way too easy for a Thursday. The NW was hard only because of the PPP trivia. So, uneven, and just weird.

OTTO 5:11 AM  

I liked the "broken" MIR ROR. That it didn't follow the pattern of the other two made it even better. I'd like more of that in Thursday puzzles. The short fill was crap but I'll give it a thumbs up for bending my brain for a moment - (bad luck when a Soviet space station is overhead??)

Blogger 6:09 PM  


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