Politico who said buck up or stay in truck / WED 7-13-16 / Shoe brand that sounds like letter number / Rhyme for Israel in carol / Rendezvoused near

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Constructor: Tom McCoy

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: from words to initals — familiar phrases are clued as if the last word (three letters in every case) were an initialism, i.e. clued wackily!

Theme answers:
  • COMMON E.R.A. (17A: Stat shared by many pitchers?)
  • "LET 'ER R.I.P.!" (26A: "Leave that lady's tomb alone!") 
  • DISAPPEARING A.C.T. (40A: Exam that's losing popularity in high schools?)
  • MAMMA M.I.A. (52A: Example of bad parenting?)
  • PICK ME, U.P.S. (66A: Cry from an eager applicant for a delivery job?) 
Word of the Day: ETSY (72A: Crafts website) —
Etsy is a peer-to-peer (P2P) e-commerce website focused on handmade or vintage items and supplies, as well as unique factory-manufactured items. These items cover a wide range, including art, photography, clothing, jewelry, food, bath and beauty products, quilts, knick-knacks, and toys. Many sellers also sell craft supplies such as beads, wire and jewelry-making tools. All vintage items must be at least 20 years old. The site follows in the tradition of open craft fairs, giving sellers personal storefronts where they list their goods for a fee of US$0.20 per item. (wikipedia)
• • •

The wackiness is borderline out of control here (contrasting heavily with the acceptable but vanilla fill), but I thought it all worked pretty well. The joy (and the difficulty) is definitely all in the themers. The clues are the key to whether a themer flies or not, and while the first one out of the gate ([Stat shared by many pitchers?]) is a clunker, they pick up from there, with the last two being genuinely funny. I wish the last one ([Cry from an eager applicant for a delivery job?]) had been imagined as an actual quotation, the way ["Leave that lady's tomb alone!"?] was, but it's tough to find a good one that doesn't use "ME". ["Ooh, ooh, I want to drive one of your giant brown trucks!"?]—doesn't really get at the idea of selection, though. ["Hey, Brown! I'm the one you should hire!"]. Something like that. Themers were difficult to pick up because how the hell do you know what three-letter abbr. is coming your way. Clues don't always give you much info. "Delivery job" is supposed to lead me to U.P.S. "Bad" is the only direct clue to M.I.A. "Exam" is all you get for A.C.T. (an exam I never took and don't really understand). So you had to work for the themers. You didn't have to work for much else. But it all evened out, difficulty-wise.

Very tough getting started, as the clues in the NW were often ambiguous. I had the rider using a ROPE with her "Giddy-up!" Maybe a CROP. Probably not a WHIP. Singular SPUR (!) would not have occurred to me. Plural, sure, perhaps. I don't ride. Maybe you just need the one. UNMAN is not a word I ever think of, so that was hard. [Some puppets] are, indeed, SOCKS, but that is a tough clue for SOCKS. [Bent] for KNACK, also tough in its ambiguity. OH NO are [Words of dawning realization], sure, but nothing in that clue suggests you are realizing something bad. I had I SEE, as I'm sure many others did at first. Oddly, the first answer of which I was certain up in that quadrant was ROMCOM (4D: "Sleepless in Seattle," for one). Even 2D: Give a buzz (PHONE) wasn't clear to me.

Had a question about one of the themers—namely, why would a "tomb" say R.I.P.? Shouldn't that be "grave"? But then I immediately answered my "why not 'grave'" question by looking at the answer that runs through that particular themer, namely GRAVE PERIL (8D: Serious danger). So "grave" was never an option. Still, I'd probably have said "Leave that lady's headstone alone?" I'm not that familiar with tombs. Maybe they do say R.I.P. But headstones are so much more common, seems like you'd want to go that direction. Only other clue complaint was the horrendous x 2 clue [Order for a "D, E, A, N, S" list?]. First of all, it makes no sense and is in no way clever. May as well just say [Anagram of "deans"]. "Order for..."??? You make the Dean's List or you don't. The wordplay doesn't even land. Further, neither clue has content, which is a terrible, wasted opportunity for interesting cluing (again, x 2). Nothing about cars in SEDAN clue, nothing about mountains in ANDES clue. Just a cornball pun, and a failed one at that. Sorry: two, at that.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


chris adams 12:08 AM  

one more issue that rex sort of got at but not quite: since the upper left corner was so difficult (in comparison to the rest of the puzzle), i started my solve down the right hand side of the puzzle, and for a bit thought the theme would be related to the x2 terrible "Order for a "D, E, A, N, S" list?" clues. so that was distracting, but the correct theme was soon apparent. still, as rex said, two slots where the clues could have done some good things and instead did about the exact opposite of that.

George Barany 12:24 AM  

Maybe I'm oversensitive, but this puzzle by @Tom McCoy didn't do nearly as much for me as it did for @Rex. For example, my discomfort with UNMAN (and its awkward "Deprive of courage" clue] was exacerbated by seeing a song "I'll Make a Man Out of You" used to clue a different answer word [amen to the nice explanation from @Rex on why the 26-Across clue used "tomb" rather than "grave"].

ERA is an individual stat, so while two pitchers might coincidentally have the same numerical ERA, that doesn't seem like something they might have in COMMON. Never-minding the edginess of LET_'ER_RIP (why not "HER"), is this coupled to the EMITted gas in the 45-Across clue?

I did get a good laugh from PICK_ME,_UPS, and heartily approve of the NEURO clue.

jae 12:32 AM  

Medium-tough for me. Had the same issues/problems in NW that @Rex did and also got bogged down in SW. Blanking on MULAN, not quite knowing ASICS, agile before LITHE, and trouble spelling ASYMMETRY didn't help.

Completely agree with Rex on the D,E,A,N,S clues. Just irritating!

All that said, mostly liked it. Reasonably amusing.

Warren Howie Hughes 12:52 AM  

MAMMAMIA! If my gas is any good, I simply LETERRIP and YOU have to EMIT the AROMA will KNACK your SOCKS off! ANDES are the jokes folks! Apolo OHNO is an American speed skater that's also a dawning realization. And now to make my ESC VIA the nearest exit!

rudiger45 1:00 AM  

Tiptoed my way to a finish because I do solve on paper, INPEN, but still had no idea what the theme was until reading OFL. Concur that the "D,E,A,N,S" clues/answers were rather pointless. Altogether a bad combination that left a sour taste & made me wonder if I ever did a Wednesday NYT puzzle that was as cringe-worthy as this one. Or is that just me being too much of a GROUCHYPANTS? (GROUCHYPANTS?!?!?!)

Anonymous 1:10 AM  

I did not like the clue for 29A ("Welcome" sights?) for MATS. It should have been "site" instead of "sight." Yes, I see the "Welcome" om the mat, but the "Welcome" is on the mat--it is sited there. Perhaps an unimportant nit to pick.

Apparently courage is also a male attribute. ;-)

I liked the long downs. All four were rock-solid.


Larry Gilstrap 1:40 AM  

So we have dueling acronyms and anagrams. One I see as efficient and one I have never cared for. Groups of letters should have meaning, IMHO. Throw me a JUMBLE and the total ineptness is painful. Sometimes I can figure out the pun, but how do they make that cartoon/puzzle? I hear that acronyms are big on this internet thingy. LMFAO. When I see UPS or FedEx drive up, I think: What did she order this time? When it turns out I pressed purchase, is my face red! I doubt if any MLB pitchers share an ERA for more than a nanosecond. When I am out in the world and somebody makes eye contact and cries "Good Morning!", which does happen around here on the trail or around town, I SAY "HI". Always have. I have never been a coffee drinker.

chefwen 2:30 AM  

After reading Rex's review I was surprised as to how much easier I seemed to solve this one. It's usually the other way around. I must have been on the same wavelength as Mr. McCoy.

Wanted crop for 1A but ROMCOM fixed that question. Had aHsO at 14A and the little SOCK puppet helped me there. IN INK was my only other problem at 57D. PICK ME U.P.S. fixed that area which is where I caught onto the theme. The rest was smooth sailing.

LET ER R.I.P made me laugh out loud. Loved this one!

How many of you thought of @Ellen S while watching Jeopardy tonight.

r.alphbunker 3:21 AM  

Lists are ordered. The list of letters D, E, A, N, S can be reordered as A, N, D, E, S and S, E, D, A, N. Given that, as a programmer, I spend a lot of time sorting lists, I liked the 2X clues.

Post-googling MULAN I saw the appropriateness of the song "I'll Make a Man Out of You" and it paired off nicely with UNMAN

Dolgo 3:24 AM  

Harder than usual for a Wednesday, perhaps because of some clues that didn't quite ring true.

phil phil 3:53 AM  

'I can deliver!!'
'No Igor, we need a male specimen'
Possible dead heat for pitchers
Dog ate your exam papers
Dad's the single parent

Anonymous 8:08 AM  

The best headstone quote can be seen in Curb Your Enthusiam

jberg 8:10 AM  

I was so happy to finish that I never bothered to parse MAMMA MIA, and so never noticed the initials thing-- after COMMON ERA I thought we were dealing with different ways to write dates, and when that didn't pan out it all looked to random to me. I should have thought about it a bit longer.

Nevertheless, I felt very proud of myself for actually running the numerals and getting ASICS with no crosses. Less proud for spending about 5 minutes wondering why hectares wouldn't fit at 68A before ACRES finally occurred to me.

ArtO 8:15 AM  

Thought it was pretty darn tough but rewarding as the theme answers were quite clever. Agree that two pitchers having the same E.R.A. Is pretty unlikely but certainly possible. Add my hate to the D.E.A.N.S. An awful effort to be overly clever.

Lewis 8:18 AM  

In the past I've felt that Tom McCoy tried too hard in cluing, but in his past couple of puzzles, he's gotten smoother. The two dean's list clues gave me an aha that I liked. I liked the long downs MODERN_DAY and GRAVE_PERIL, and the ESC KEY clue. I like the crossing anagrams of ITEM and EMIT, and that the puzzle takes a STEP backward. WTG Tom for giving me a good springboard to my day!

Alysia 8:18 AM  

I'm with chefwen. This one was quite easy for me and I solved in just over half my average Wednesday time. After I got LETERRIP, the others just kind of came naturally.

But because I like to nitpick, I'll note that I don't particularly like cluing MEANIE as grouchypants. It's perfectly acceptable to be grouchy from time to time ("bad day at work, honey?"). Being a meanie, though, is usually uncalled for. I wouldn't say the two are one and the same.

Joseph Welling 8:25 AM  

I thought the "'D,E,A,N,S' list" clue was clever and an improvement over "anagram for DEANS." I suspect if there were a 2x clue of "anagram for DEANS," Rex would be complaining that it was not clever or creative enough.

Overall, it played as very easy for me. I went right through in order without any errors or backtracking.

Mark 8:28 AM  

I loved the puzzle. It had surprising clues and a reasonable level of difficulty. I agree the first theme clue and answer weren't up to the standards of the others, but I still don't see why so many are complaining. Often Rex likes it less than his audience, but in this case it's mostly the opposite.

kitshef 8:41 AM  

A puzzle that seemed determined to test my 'theme trumps fill' mantra, although in this case it was a combination of fill and cluing that pushed my buttons. As @Rex has noted, and as I hope scores of others will note, those DEANS clues were awful. And UNMAN is both terrible fill and stupidly clued.

But the theme is tree-menjus, so on balance I forgive those issues and give the thumbs up.

OHhO before OHNO, sHavE before PHONE, SWEEThEart before SWEETIEPIE.

Entrance exam for newborns? Baby SAT.
When the frat brothers will get there. Phi Rho ETA.

Nancy 8:41 AM  

Where to begin with what I liked about this puzzle? It's not only that the theme answers were so playful and imaginative, it's also that the non-theme clues were so playful, too. My favorite theme answer was LET ER R.I.P., although they were all pretty great. I chuckled at the clue and answer for 46A; liked the two DEAN'S list clues; liked the clue for ASICS; for STU; for ASYMMETRY. And absolutely no junk except for ETSY. Only criticism is that it was too easy and over too quickly. Study this one, all you PPP-crazed constructors out there. ILIE (69A) could have been clued as the tennis player, but wasn't. STU could have been clued as any one of a number of obscure names, but wasn't. A really fun puzzle -- obviously by someone with a sense of humor.

Mohair Sam 8:41 AM  

Loved the theme, and would have loved this puzzle but - and @Larry Gilstrap beat me to it - If I want to do the JUMBLE (SEDAN, ANDES, D,E,A,N,S) I'll go to my local paper, thank you. If the answers had unjumbled to something you get for appearing on the DEANS list, well, that would have been cool. But a random Jumble? Not so much.

We worked the puzzle top to bottom and thought the themers got bigger and bigger laughs out of us as we moved down. Don't know if Tom McCoy planned it that way, but it worked great.

Lost some time with SWEETheart before SWEETIEPIE, anyone else? SEEk before SEEM too. And ASYMMETRY a great long down in a world where symmetry is king.

L 8:42 AM  

UNMAN is ridiculous.

Lobster11 8:55 AM  

I thought this was grea, which is rare for me on a Wednesday. The clever and difficult-to-suss-out theme, combined with numerous ambiguous clues (esp. in the NW, as noted by OFL), made for a challenging-for-a-Wednesday or medium-for-a-Thursday solve for me. Just the way I like it.

I really had no nits to pick, other than the ugly UNMAN and its clue and maybe the side-by-side MULAN and ASICS (which were both WOEs for me). Sure, a pair of matching anagram clues would ordinarily be considered weak, but I thought dressing them up in the "dean's list" wordplay made them fun. I also don't agree with the gripe about COMMON E.R.A. I don't think the idea is for "common" to denote "exactly the same," but rather "ordinary" or "average" in the general sense. I also don't see why there's anything wrong with "tomb" in the clue for 26A, or why "headstone" or "grave" would have been better. If these are the puzzle's biggest flaws, then (1) it's a pretty darn good puzzle, and (2) you're just being a grounchypants.

As if the theme weren't tough enough to suss out on its own, I managed to find a way to make it tougher by thinking I had it figured out, but being very wrong. The first themer I got was PICKMEUPS in the SE. It didn't occur to me that the UPS part was an abbreviation, so I parsed it instead as "Pick me" to do "pickups." Needless to say, trying to apply that recipe to the other themers held me up for a long time. When I finally became convinced that 52A had to be MAMMAMIA I was utterly perplexed, but when the nickel finally dropped I got the much sought-after Aha! experience that rarely comes on a Wednesday. Happy happy.

Carola 8:55 AM  

For me, this was the crossword equivalent of AROMA x UMAMI. I loved the theme, and I loved how the answers got funnier from top to bottom. With COMMON E.R.A., I thought, "Okay, I see how it works"; with LET 'ER R.I.P., the laughing started. Genius. Pause for breath at the smile-worhy A.C.T., then MAMMA M.I.A.!

I wonder what useful pieces of information have now been crowded out of my brain by the OKRA and EMU facts.

Roo Monster 9:13 AM  

Hey All !
Seems a bit chewy for a WedsPuz. Couple of missteps mucking things up a bit. For ASYMMETRY had A_YM____Y, and wrote in AnYMositY, which I think is still a better answer for how it's clued. Also GReatPERIL, much better than GRAVEPERIL, rTe-ETA. So kept me on my toes, alot of the clues on the edge of their meanings, IMO.

Did like the theme. Fav PICKMEUPS. Just funny to imagine someone waving their arm in the air, "Ooh, ooh, over here! PICK ME, UPS!" Also, LET 'ER RIP and MAMMA MIA pretty funny.

In the UNMAN unword camp. Wanted OHhO for OHNO. Also, lots of partials today, SAY HI, MET AT, SAVE AS, IN PEN, RAN UP. All good, btw, but usually Will frowns on more than two. All better than YesterPuz's HAS AC.

Liked the long Downs, also. Another good puz from TM.


cwf 9:14 AM  

LETERRIP doesn't necessarily refer to an engraved item. It references the sentiment.

PIX 9:24 AM  

@ 3Down: UNMAN


Mac III.iv.72.2 What, quite unmanned in folly?

Steve M 9:25 AM  

Come on common era......not clever

Sheryl 9:32 AM  

For some reason, SPUR came to me immediately, and I did the northeast corner first and fast. I only slowed in the southwest, and could not get the square in the corner (N) because of the cross of MULAN and NSYNC, neither of which I knew. DNF by one square due to a PPP cross.

chefbea 9:34 AM  

Fun puzzle. Hand up for wanting crop for 1 across..and not liking Andes!!
Maybe we'll have okra tonight

OISK 9:38 AM  

I got a DNF (on a Wednesday!!! ) - combination of bad spelling, and a brand of shoes. I am terrible at product names - not a shopper, and I don't watch ads! So I had MOMMA MIA, and OSICS. I should have known "Mamma" of course, from opera lyrics, if nothing else. Terrible, embarrassing error!

As to the puzzle, the really clever theme, and the chuckles it brought me, more than made up for the messy (for me) SW. What is a boy band? Is there an age requirement? You mean like the Osmand (sp?) Brothers? Were the Beatles a boy band? In any case, Nsync has been in so many puzzles, that it was not a problem. There was a movie named MULAN? (I never heard of the song, either) ASICS? ( or as I had it, "OSICS")

Anonymous 9:45 AM  

A highly educated rider on a highly educated horse will only use one spur at a time (except when backing up, when you wouldn't say "Giddy-up!"). A spur should indicate to the horse that it is to take a step, or a bigger step, with the hind leg on the same side as the spur used. Spurs should be used alternately based on the gait and the horse's use of its hind legs within the gait.

Of course, 99.9% of the time this isn't the case - oafish jabbing with spurs simultaneously with yelling "Giddy-up!".

I have what I call FWS moments when solving puzzles, where I'm so annoyed I just reveal the answer. On days where I'm in a good frame of mind, these are restricted to clues such as "Golfer Isao (or Aoki)". Today I had two: D.E.A.N.S.

These days, whenever someone wants to get together and suggest we "MEeTAT x" I ask if it HASAC. Because I like to make up non-phrases.

Hartley70 10:00 AM  

This took me twice my usual time so I can't agree that it's a medium difficulty. I got so twisted around in the NW that when the rest of the puzzle was finished, I finally deleted the whole messy corner and started fresh.

"Shear" became PHONE and I regretted that. "Shear" was a nice reminder of the silliness of BUZZING the heads of the HS boys' swim team so their times would improve. My "Team" became COMMO. No surprise because I never get the sporty clues "right off the bat". Come to think of it, swimming gets no crossword respect in the NYT!

I stopped trying to use Spanish first names and used the obvious SENORA. Because I couldn't make Dulcinea fit, I thought we had a Wednesday rebus going for a bit.

And finally I saw SOCKS. Since I once fashioned Mother Teresa out of a sock and a softball at midnight with the help of a crying 6 year old, I can't imagine how I overlooked it for so long.

Fun times this morning. Is it lunch yet?

old timer 10:06 AM  

Oh, I just gave up in the ASICS MULAN section and came here. I had MAMMA MIA but not ACRES. And never would have gotten ASYMMETRY because I was looking for a numerical difference between two sides. Math folks, is the ASYMMETRY at all right?

LET 'ER R.I.P. has nothing to do with gravestones or tombs, though a gravestone often, and a tomb occasionally, has R.I.P. engraved on it. It simply means "let her rest in peace".

Z 10:20 AM  

Bullpen ERA, Starters ERA, ERA versus left-handed hitters, ERA versus right-handed hitters. Team ERA, Team ERA in day games, night games, in home games, in away games, On Tuesday's when Mars and Venus are in opposition. No problem with COMMON E.R.A. here.

I'm not seeing anything complaint worthy in the fill. Sure, we get an EMU here and an ETA there, but there will be short fill and this puzzle does a nice job of mixing it up. No eely Oona Ono-Eno riding a tern into the WSW to see Olav/f MDCLXVI to be found. Complain about the cluing being too straightforward if you must, but the fill itself is fine. Even the POCs are relatively few.

Likewise, the PPP is a very low 15/78. Personally I don't think two animated movies are particularly crossworthy, but that is minor when the overall count is so low.

UNMAN - Hmmm, an uncomfortable concept on so many levels, but a crossworthy word nonetheless. As has been pointed out, it has Shakespeare immunity which has to be even higher than Patrick Berry immunity. And the clue is pretty much exactly what it means when it is used, so hard to fault the clue. No, the uncomfortableness to the modern ear is the notion that courage is a masculine trait, and the fault for that lies elsewhere.

AskGina 10:29 AM  

Unman is a word. The worldwide web says so. So it's a word. And it's not the political correctness aspect of it that bugs me, it's that most probably no one's been heard uttering it since it was used in a sentence like "Methinks he's been unmanned." Dumb. As for the theme, they're all common phrases and then you get to mamma mia. Imagine a crowd of catty mothers standing around waiting to walk the kindergartners home. "Where Tyler's mom?" "Late again. She's a mamma mia." Ahem, snarky glance to the right. I look back on it and I can see its a pretty decent puzzle.I'm not sure why it wasn't more fun for me.

Numinous 10:44 AM  

This fits my definition of speed solving for themers from yesterday: COMMON ERA, LET 'ER RIP, MAMMA MIA, PICK ME UPS, are all "in the language. The cluing for these is truly whacky. As some have pointed out, a COMMON E. R. A. is excedingly unlikely. MAMMA MIA reminds me of a Queen song. I expect you would have to exhume her to deny her R. I. P. And how many of us need five or six cups of coffee through the day as PICK ME UPS?

Can't say I was crazy about this puzzle but when I sat back and looked at it after finishing, I changed my mind and decided it was pretty cool. I was a bit surprised that Jef Chen gave it a POW which leaves me wondering what is in store for us for the rest of the week.

I don't mind UNMAN at ll, I seem to have heard or read it fairly frequently in my life as it rang true once I saw it in the NW which didn't give me hardly any trouble at all. I jumped right in with SPUR and gave it no further thought. The SW gave me all the trouble and was responsible for my going over my average time by a bunch. I initially put Rocky in as part of Rocky Horror Picture Show thinking of the line, "in just seven days, I can make you a ma ha ha han." The on in the NW that I had a hard time with was ROMCOM. I'm just not into the abbreviated name thing, can't stand JLo, ARod, KFed, CaLexa (try to figure that one out), et al.

I'm from the film industry in California, I don't laugh. I did, however, have a few instances of saying to myself, "That's funny!"

Tom 11:12 AM  

Didn't need to be reminded about Sarah PALIN and her idiotic utterings. Is my Left Coast bias showing? Started with ROMCOM, rolled through without much trouble from there. Got the trick as soon as I wrote in COMMON ERA, the new non-religious way of referring to AD in dates.

Do the majority of non academians still use BC/AD for dates?

Enjoyed LEMUR as it brought a chuckle remembering King Julian, possibly on of the funniest cartoon characters of the last 20 years. The penguins, too.

Anonymous 11:20 AM  

That northwest column was awful. No, you don't have a singular spur, and you probably would not have a whip or a crop, because no one who rides a horse ever says "giddy up" which I thought had something to do with glee. Never heard of sleepless in seattle, so I finally stuffed in PG film, which was wrong. Common era made no sense, nor did "Oh no." Bent being knack? Maybe. but unman. Awful. Just awful. not ready for prime time.

mac 11:54 AM  

Tough puzzle for a Wednesday, but in hindsight it may have been the NW dat slowed me down most.
Very funny, especially Mamma MIA and Let er RIP! Sweatheart before Sweetiepie, too.

Etsy is quite well know, and was in the news a while ago when it was claimed some of their wares were made in the Far East instead of by crafters in the U.S.

Gregory Schmidt 12:05 PM  

Is GRAVEPERIL green paint? Both ATOP and ATILT? METAT, RANUP, lazy prepositions.

Fitz 12:17 PM  


I had GREATPERIL and MODERNITY in for the early big downs but knew it wasn't right. Once I swapped my PEROT out for the correct PALIN the NE really came together for me.

- Fitz

Masked and Anonymous 12:24 PM  

1. In my dictionary.
2. Starts with a U.
3. Is a literary term [See @PIX, above]
4. Constructioneer gets one free pass anyhoo, as per the M&A New Rule.
So … I got over it, quick.

This puz was right up my sweet spot. Super-clever theme idea. Killer clues. Good fill and unfill. Modicum of exquisite desperation (yo, @MULAN-ASICS). Fun solve. Rodeo. Too bad @muse is off in the backwoods somewhere, doin who-knows-what; she'da luvved this puppy. Worth comin into town to get a cell signal, girl.

fave clue: No doubt whatsoera. Either of them D, E, A, N, S list ones. These are really really dangerously close to runtpuz double-?? clue-caliber stuff. Feisty. Nice and different. Funny. Primo. I say let em rip. [Or, don't let em R.I.P., dependin on yer perspective.] thUmbsUp. Mighta gone with just one of em, tho; no need to gloat.

007 pickmeUps, today! Also quite cool. That tears it. Start crankin out the day-um yard signs. "Tom McCoy for President."

Masked & Anonym007Us

Welcome back, @Lewis.

tea73 12:56 PM  

Not bothered by UNMAN Shakespeare used it:

LADY MACBETH. What, quite unmanned in folly?

Loved the puns, didn't really mind the anagrams once I caught on. Wanted whip and then crop, and I had some other wrong word across, so it took me a while to erase everything and put in ROMCOM.

Joe Bleaux 12:56 PM  

It's so late, few solvers will read this, which is a good thing because even they won't care. That said, it's uncanny how often your posts are so similar to what I was going to say. (And that will be the most egotistical thing I will say for the rest of the week.)

Chuck McGregor 1:08 PM  

Took some reveal letter cheats all across the top to get those areas going. I was surprised at some of my tentative fills elsewhere actually turning out to be correct.

My favorite themer was MAMMAMIA, especially with the juxtaposed MEANIE literally adding to the "bad parenting" notion. Great clue.

Speaking of bad, that's what "Bakery output" becomes with "OH NO! SOUR AROMA!"

Speaking of SOUR AROMA, I wonder if CHEFWEN has ever tried to make OKRA PITA? Probably need a bunch of honey to make it a SWEETIEPIE.

LITHE PICKME UPS: The guys in pairs figure skating

SPUR SNAG: No useful help with a "Giddy-up."

PHONES VIA ASICS: How Maxwell Smart does it when working out.

ME? TATLESS, though I've thought about getting one.

I found politico can mean: "politician, political agent," usually in a derogatory sense (dictionary.com). Re Palin? True dat (IMO).


Teedmn 1:24 PM  

Lots of fun today. My lucky guess off the bat at 1A SPURred me to a successful solution, albeit a bit over my normal Wednesday time. Since I was solving IN "ink" (my lucky @Diana LIW pencil being at home), I placed a bit of extra ink in that AREA writing PEN over the top of it. And my brain wasn't agile enough to see LITHE right away at 63A. And I agree with @Rex that the vagueness of "bad" in the theme clue for 52A wasn't giving me M.I.A. even with _ _ _ MAMIA in the grid. But it all worked in the end.

Initially I wasn't fond of the dual DEANS list clues but upon re-reading, I find them a welcome change. Thanks, Tom McCoy!

ANON B 1:29 PM  

Can someone please explain Mamma M.I.A.?

Thank you.

Masked and Anonymous 1:32 PM  

@indie009/WHA -- re: "Had a question about one of the themers—namely, why would a "tomb" say R.I.P.?"

M&A Help Desk analysis:
1. By "say", we assume you mean "have written on". Tombs rarely actually utter anything, except in some really squirrelly (but primo) schlock flicks. So … we assume you were "just sayin" that.
2. The puz clue {"Leave that lady's tomb alone!"?} really never does present requirements that anything be written on the tomb.
3. To make the "it is written on" assumption would mean that the same assumption should then apply equally to all the other themed clues …
{Stat shared by many pitchers?} would imply that their ERA's are tattooed on their butts, or somesuch, etc.
4. Back to the tomb: It is conceivable, that the letters "R.I.P." could be written on something within said tomb. Example: A name tag in actor Rip Torn's tomb.
5. What @cwf said, above. It's the sentiment that counts.

M&A Help Desk

T'omb it may concern:

Jim 2:34 PM  

Not a fan of the theme -- 3 of the 5 themes were bad or silly (UPS and ACT being the exceptions). A quick look at the MLB stats and there is a (sort of) Common ERA -- 4.50 (meaning you have given up 1 ER for every 2 innings pitched). 3 players share it right now.

Hated the DEANS list clues. I guess they are different but like the themes, too cute by 1/2.

Really disliked the short 2 word clues. Always hated to see A TEE clued and this puzzle has 10 such 4/5 2-word answers (nearly 15%). Being clever with longer answers should demand similar details in short fill. OHNO IAM not a fan.

chefbea 2:48 PM  

@AnonB mamma missing in action = bad parenting

Mohair Sam 3:13 PM  

RIP. Legendary Texas Ranger John "Rip" Ford earned his nickname during the Mexican War when it was his job to send letters home to the families of Rangers who had been killed under the command of his boss, Jack Hays. Ford would always end the letters "R.I.P."

@Numinous from yesterday - Great point on why speed solvers such as Rex seem unusually annoyed (in early week puzzles) over words or phrases such as "HASAC" which don't sound smoothly and quickly in our heads. The extra sip of coffee and bite of toast we loungers take while thinking it out is precious time off the clock for them, and infuriating. I had never thought of that. Explains what seemed like Rex's overreaction.

the redanman 4:08 PM  

Clue-ing was way too clever to be enthralling or engaging, NW simply tedious. Unnecessary degree of obtusity took all the joy out of this.

Not all that clever either.

Linda 4:22 PM  

@ANON B, Bad parenting: Mamma missing in action

beatrice 4:49 PM  

For a gimmick-y puzzle, I thought this was pretty cute. And as a non-lover of anagrams, thought the 2x clues were a clever way to do it, so don't get all the hate. UNMAN is just *old* - per dictionary.com, '1590s, "to deprive of the attributes of a human being," ... meaning "to deprive of manly courage" is attested from c.1600; that of "to emasculate" is from 1680s.' Seems to have evolved or devolved pretty quickly. Times are different now, a bit less chauvinistic **perhaps**, the NYT xword should emerge from its cave.

Seeing ANDES set me to looking for some of the baroque (just learned it's from Portuguese 'barroco'='misshapen pearl') music of colonial South America, which is often a wonderful hybrid of European and indigenous forms and spirit.

Juan de Araujo came from Spain and ended up in Peru. This is a setting of a rather curious text, written in 'a Spanish creole, with many words borrowed from African and Amerindian dialects'.

The "Codex Martínez Compañón" (c.1782-1785) comprises watercolors and musical compositions of indigenous artists of Peru. Here's a 'live' version of one of them:

Then there's this - 'Hanacpachap cussicuinin' - an 'anonymous hymn to the Virgin Mary in the Quechua language but in a largely European sacred music style... composed before 1622, Franciscan friar Juan Pérez Bocanegra published it in 1631, making it the earliest work of vocal polyphony printed in the New World (modern orthography: Hanaq pachap kusikuynin)'.


beatrice 4:54 PM  

I thought I pasted the link to the last piece, but I'm not sure. Just in case I'm publishing it here.


Anonymous 5:46 PM  

#Anon B, yes, it's dumb

Ralph 6:30 PM  

Reminds me of the suggestion I got from one of my students: "You should grade on a curb."

Stuart Horwitz 8:19 PM  

I didn't really care for: good name for a guy who's seething: STU. Yes, that is my name. And it's not STEW, for one thing. Also isn't stewing more reflective even if still paralyzed? Seething felt a little strong. Maybe I'm just bitter (or stewing).

ANON B 8:48 PM  

@masked and anonymous:
You asked why a tomb would say R.I.P
and got a long five part answer from the
M&A Help Desk

But the tomb didn't say anything. The clue was
"Leave that lady's tomb alone".It was just
anybody saying it.

geordie 9:38 PM  

@mohair sam. I never managed to get rid of sweetheart, since I knew sweet was right and couldn't think of anything else. I finally realized that it was 'seem' instead of 'seek', but still DNF.

Leapfinger 7:36 AM  

Don't see the problem with UNMAN.

On the one hand, there's the regular rather theatrical kind of cast rate. You see this at play in eUNuch, one kind of UN-MAN.

One the other hand there's probably still people around who remember the United Nations MAN when he was still Deputy Attorney General Hammarskjold.

And I never METATarsal I didn't like.

Burma Shave 10:14 AM  


There are MODERNDAY PICKMEUPS to USE if feeling “UNMAN-ish”,
any GRAVEPERIL with your SWEETIEPIE YOU want to banish,
SAYHI to blue pills and the DISAPPEARINGACT will vanish.


Longbeachlee 11:13 AM  

I think Rex has forgotten his difficulty criteria, which is difficulty relative to other puzzles published on the same day of the week. On that basis this one is medium challenging at least.

spacecraft 11:45 AM  

Perhaps not a total return to sanity, but it's a start. We still have the leftover nonsense partial in METAT; that alone takes birdie off the table. SAVEAS is a legit, though techy, phrase.

My NW woes continue, but at least today I have lots of company. UNMAN, Shakesperian or no, just isn't in the language. The definition is weirdly specific, sort of the opposite of "Man up!" My gateway into the west sounded like baby talk: OWIE and SWEETIEPIE. I don't solve INPEN; I solve in ink. I solve WITH pen. Another awkward--but not ridiculous--partial. Some day soon could we please have one entire grid with NO partials? That would be refreshing.

Theme is cute, fill is spotty. Another classic DOD is AVA, whom I used to wish I could see more than just barefoot. Par.

rondo 3:15 PM  

Well, I’m confident enough to do the puz INink (not INPEN) so of course there’s where the one write-over was. I kinda liked having those longish answers holding things together.

I took the ACT in high school. The SAT didn’t seem to be as popular, at least not in these parts. From what I’ve heard over time, the ACT seems to be more comprehensive. Score of 33 put me at the 99th percentile. Yeah, that’s a brag.

Mowed my lawn in a pair of ASICS Monday night. The nephew remarked about my green shoes.

SCIS looks more like a TV show. What’s the size of the Bridge of Sighs? Will a group of Poli-SCIS cut weeds with scythes – er a sling blaide lock ‘em cowney boze dew? I lock ‘em frinch frahd pertaters, uh hunh . . . OHNO! Wake up! A little trouble with the NEUROtransmitters there.

AVA was, of course, a yeah baby in her time and I must give a reluctant nod to Ms. PALIN and her real and spectacular wits.

All pitchers have a COMMONERA of zero at the start of the year. After a few games it’s a rare thing to see.

Not a bad puz, but I did it byPEN INink.

leftcoastTAM 4:45 PM  

OHNO! Posted a sterling write-up which must have blown up somewhere in outer space. MAMMAMIA!

Teedmn 10:36 PM  

@Burma Shave, I think you should be getting royalties on that there Viagra jingle, nice!

And @rondo, love your take on Carl's vernacular. Next to "300", "Sling Blade" is my husband's favorite movie. Just mention 'frinch frahd pertators' and you'll get him doing his best Billy Bob imitation.

rondo 10:41 PM  

@teedMN - I used to get chastised because my vocal was too good - and creepy

Sailor 12:51 AM  

It's late, but for the record, working backward:

“He also knew that rivals are best UNMANned by being ignored.”
― John Irving, A Prayer for Owen Meany (1989)

“On Earth, we are UNMANned by our longing for a pastoral past that never really existed; and that, if it had existed, could never exist again...”
― Isaac Asimov, The Gods Themselves (1972)

“A man is seldom more manly than when he is what you call UNMANned, — the source of his emotion is championship, pity, and courage; the instinctive desire to cherish those who are innocent and unhappy, and defend those who are tender and weak.”
― William Makepeace Thackeray, The English Humorists of the Eighteenth Century (1853)

My best! my last friends!
Let's not UNMAN each other: part at once:
All farewells should be sudden, when for ever,
Else they make an eternity of moments,
And clog the last sad sands of life with tears.
--Lord Byron, Sardanapalus (1821)

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