Activity for Hobbes / WED 8-24-16 / 1/100 of a Norwegian krone / VCR insert / Bronx nine on scoreboards / PBS documentary series since 1988

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Constructor: Matthew Sewell

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: FANTASY SPORTS (36A: Field of DraftKings and FanDuel ... or 18-, 23-, 52- and 58-Across?) — themers are fictional sports (all from within the genre of "fantasy," broadly defined)

Theme answers:
  • CALVINBALL (18A: Activity for Hobbes)
  • PODRACING (23A: Activity for Anakin Skywalker)
  • QUIDDITCH (52A: Activity for Harry Potter)
  • POOHSTICKS (58A: Activity for Tigger and Eeyore) 

Word of the Day: ØRE (59D: 1/100 of Norwegian krone)
The krone (Danish pronunciation: [ˈkʁoːnə]; plural: kroner; sign: kr.; code: DKK) is the official currency of Denmark, Greenland and the Faroe Islands, introduced on 1 January 1875. Both the ISO code "DKK" and currency sign "kr." are in common use; the former precedes the value, the latter in some contexts follows it. The currency is sometimes referred to as the Danish crown in English, since krone literally means crown. Historically, krone coins have been minted in Denmark since the 17th century.
One krone is subdivided into 100 øre (Danish pronunciation: [ˈøːɐ]; singular and plural), the name øre possibly deriving from Latin aureus meaning "gold coin". Altogether there are eleven denominations of the krone, with the smallest being the 50 øre coin, which is valued at one half of a krone. Formerly there were more øre coins, but those were discontinued due to inflation // The krone is pegged to the euro via the ERM II, the European Union's exchange rate mechanism. Adoption of the euro is favoured by the major political parties, however a 2000 referendum on joining the Eurozone was defeated with 53.2% voting to maintain the krone and 46.8% voting to join the Eurozone. (wikipedia)
• • •

This is a wonderful theme concept, neatly executed. I especially love the alchemy by which it takes something for which I have mostly contempt (FANTASY SPORTS) and turns it into a perfect revealer, turning the phrase away from the corporate synergy of ESPN sportbro culture and toward the world of human creative genius. OK, so "Episode I: The Phantom Menace" was not, itself, genius, but I think the "Star Wars" universe on the whole is a remarkable feat of imagination, and the same can easily be said for all the other works from which the theme answers come. Who doesn't love remembering "Calvin & Hobbes" or the work of A.A. Milne? Hell, I couldn't come up with either CALVINBALL or POOHSTICKS (without a lot of crosses), and I still loved discovering them. The fill is pretty good today, too. I have no idea what caused the constructor / editor to go with the perverse krone-related clue for ORE (crossword arcana at its finest), and even after googling I have no idea what "TV TAPE" is (1D: VCR insert) ... but those (and maybe ILO & UNCAS) are the only real rough spots in an otherwise smooth grid. One of my Twitter followers just now questioned the fairness of the UNCAS / ROSEN cross (53D: The last of the Mohicans, in Cooper's novel / 67A: Al who was A.L. M.V.P. in 1953). I sympathize, as I utterly forgot UNCAS (a non-great answer for sure), but even if you don't know ROSEN either, the "S" feels like the only realistic guess. But this is a good time to remind constructors: *Watch* your proper noun crosses.

  • 3D: The albums "Godspell" and "Jesus Christ Superstar," for two (SOUNDTRACKS) — that's a term I associate with movies, not stage productions, *but* ... since both musicals were turned into movies that did in fact have SOUNDTRACKS, I'll allow it.
  • 15A: Main ingredient in soubise soup (ONION) — "Thinly slice two Spanish onions, and cook ten minutes in one-fourth cup butter, stirring constantly. Add one quart White Stock III, cook slowly thirty minutes, and strain. Dilute three tablespoons flour with enough cold water to pour easily, add to soup, and bring to boiling-point. Then add one cup cream, and one tablespoon chopped green peppers, or one-fourth cup grated cheese. Season with salt and pepper." (The Boston cooking-school cook book, Fannie Farmer, 1918)
  • 64A: Texas landmark that shares its name with a tree (ALAMO) — a tree? That's news to me. After a lot of googling, I *assume* the clue is referring to the Rio Grande Cottonwood, which has "Alamo" as one of its familiar names, though it's very confusing, as the *Fremont* cottonwood is also known as the "Alamo cottonwood" ... Tree experts: have at it. (Well now I see ALAMO's just a *generic* name for "A poplar tree, especially a cottonwood." How disappointing)
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Hungry Mother 7:53 AM  

Easy one today for me.

CFXK 7:54 AM  

TV tape? Is it a thing? Videotape is a thing. But TV Tape? UGH!

Lewis 7:57 AM  

Not knowing three of the theme sports and totally bamboozled by the SOUNDTRACKS clue (I was looking for a religious-based musical word)(and excellent misdirect, Matthew!) -- this puzzle had crunch for me. Fortunately, I like crunch. That NW corner was so crunchy my solving molars got a good workout.

I like RAMPS (wild onions) abutting ONION, and GEL next to WET. Appealing answers, I'm my opinion, are CONTRETEMPS, BAKLAVA, and ROCOCO. The cluing, aside from the one mentioned above, was mostly direct; I would have liked some more subtle/clever clue entries.

Nonetheless, very happy to see such a competent and spirited debut, and to have a new name to look forward to. Maybe one day, Matthew, you'll find yourself on my scantily-populated Fantasy League of Constructors.

Loren Muse Smith 7:57 AM  

I totally agree - neat idea, and what a great repurposing of FANTASY SPORTS.

My kids and I have actually played POOH STICKS. I wasn't familiar with POD RACING, but wouldn't it have been cool to have "Anakin" and not ANACIN crossing that?
I almost had a dnf because of "clip" for V LOG.

Anyone else notice RAMPS right over ONION? Here dear, have a Tic-tac. Please.

And FLAN/BAKLAVA – I'll choose the flan every time. That sugar assault of baklava is too lethal for me.

Oh, oh, and OIL/WELL. And NBA right next to NET with SHAQ underneath. Gobs of little flourishes to love here.

KICK ME - Sigh. So uninspired. Here's a better idea for a sign on someone's back: "Ask me if I'm wearing deodorant." I bet after the third person asks, the poor guy will duck into the bathroom for a private little sniff test. (Another version – "ask me if I'm wearing lip gloss." A male teacher actually came to me for a mirror after a masterfully-orchestrated prank some students and I carried out.)

Spot on Wednesday for this solver. @ED - ˉ\_(ツ)_/ˉ

BigMistake 7:57 AM  

Felt hard and then looked at my time, easy. Enjoyable

Lewis 7:59 AM  

That is, "in my opinion", not "I'm my opinion".

mooretep 8:03 AM  

Longtime lurker.
Enjoyed the puzzle, and glad you have adopted the grading system.

In the metric system, kilograms are not "weights", but masses.
Weight is the force of gravity on an object, whereas mass is the amount of matter.
If you could travel to the moon, your weight changes, but your mass does not.

I am a science teacher and this is a common source of confusion and a hurdle when we ask American students to speak in the international language and terms of science.

Were it not for Joseph Dombey being captured by pirates and turned over to the British in 1794, I would probably not be posting here.

Eagene Muleska 8:03 AM  

Aren't we centuries past the Great Vowel Shift? I know that on occasion, these boards have cited a vowel movement, but...

WELL WING? THAT's just SO Wong!

El Finger

George Barany 8:10 AM  

Nice to see the New York Times debut of my Minnesota cyberfriend (we've never met) @Matthew Sewell, who has actually been published in several other venues. Also very pleased to read such a gracious and supportive review from @Rex.

So much of this puzzle's content was out of my personal wheelhouse, yet through a mixture of well-chosen auxiliary fill and clever cluings, coupled with a few anxious moments in the northwest corner, everything came through sans Google or other crutches in a Wednesday-normal time of 12 minutes.

That clue for ORE must be new, BAKLAVA was what I had for desert just a few days ago, and Al ROSEN has been on my mind recently as I've been researching a puzzle on Jews who played for the Cleveland Indians (spoiler alert, the reveal is MEMBERS_OF_THE_TRIBE).

Speaking of Jews, the clue for SNIP reminds me of one of my favorite jokes. Also, the clue for ANSEL reminds us of this past Sunday's NATIONAL_PARK_SERVICE theme.

For another example of @Matthew Sewell's work, constructed in collaboration with the brilliant @Brad Wilber, try Crawl Space. That puzzle even comes with bonus "midrashim," one from the constructors, and another from me.

Anonymous 8:15 AM  

Los ALAMOs = the cottonwoods.

Joseph Welling 8:16 AM  

"since both musicals were turned into movies that did in fact have SOUNDTRACKS, I'll allow it."

I'm not sure if it helps or hurts the clue, but Jesus Christ Superstar was a rock opera concept album first, then a musical, then a movie. The more familiar album was not actually a soundtrack album. Though I'm pretty sure a soundtrack of the movie was later released.

aging soprano 8:17 AM  

Stage musicals produced SOUNDTRACK albums way before movies. When was the last time you attended a Stage Musical, Rex? They are always selling cd's of the SOUNDTRACK. Yeah, I know, the scalpers have made tickets unaffordable. Anyone own a Hamilton SOUNDTRACK?

aging soprano 8:17 AM  

Stage musicals produced SOUNDTRACK albums way before movies. When was the last time you attended a Stage Musical, Rex? They are always selling cd's of the SOUNDTRACK. Yeah, I know, the scalpers have made tickets unaffordable. Anyone own a Hamilton SOUNDTRACK?

Carola 8:21 AM  

Cute idea - which I'd have appreciated more if I'd heard of CALVIN BALL and POOH STICKS, ALAS. Looking at the crosses - SOUND TRACKS goes nicely with POD RACING (John Williams for the Star Wars series), but presumably POOH STICKS is not LETHAL. That could be QUIDDITCH, which almost dispatches Harry at one point - definitely more serious than a CONTRETEMPS.

Re: ANACIN ads - my mom and I loved this one and enjoyed doing sarcastic dramatizations. Looking at it again just now - have to love the male voice over about keeping "control."

kitshef 8:30 AM  

Fantastic! CALVINBALL, POOHSTICKS and QUIDDITCH come from three of my absolute favorite literary works, plus we get ROCOCO, CONTRETEMPS, BAKLAVA.

The price to pay all that beauty was modest: TVTAPE, ILO, UNCAS. Oh, and the horror of being reminded of that awful, awful POD RACING scene.

Played super easy. Wasn't trying for speed, but finished before it was time to flip the ONION-sausage potato balls.

@Loren Muse Smith - great catch on mini-themes. I especially like RAMPS/ONION. I also like POOH crossing PAW.

Irene 8:32 AM  

Sorry guys, but I hated everything about it. Filled it all in, but there was a void at the middle since the only sport cited that I knew was Pooh Sticks.
Uncas crossing Rosen?
Where is snippy carping Rex when we need him?

evil doug 8:34 AM  

Careful - - I have "cool" in my sights next....

crabsofsteel 8:35 AM  

VLOG? Really???

evil doug 8:36 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
CFXK 8:36 AM  

@aging soprano: I believe stage musicals produced albums called "original cast recordings." The term SOUNDTRACK is a reference to the strip on movie film that carries the audio information (the "sound track," as opposed to the "visual track," on the film), and came into use when music from film was published separately in record or audio tape form and labeled a "soundtrack recording."

Anonymous 8:36 AM  

@aging soprano -- I tend to call them Original Cast Recordings (or Albums), but not soundtracks unless I'm referring to a film. Do you think Sondheim refers to his "soundtrack" for Sweeney Todd (unless he's referring to the movie version -- and the less said about that the better)?

Great puzzle, but no one ever has or ever will refer to a TV TAPE.

And the S was not obvious to me in my personal UNCA_ / RO_EN Natick.

Hartley70 8:50 AM  

I think FANTASYSPORTS is a clever and fun theme. Unfortunately my knowledge of FANTASYSPORTS is no deeper than my knowledge of reality sports. QUIDDITCH was my only gimme and I had to use crosses to move up the grid until I reached Skywalker's athletics and had a full stop at the two letters after P. Pig just sorta felt right and there was no help from the NW, unfortunately.

I don't know Heart and I was trying to remember the names of Brian Wilson's singing daughters. I only had Carnie. I've never heard of VLOGs, didn't know the TAU symbol, and never used TV before TAPE. It just didn't work for me. I had TRACKS but I was thinking Broadway, not films erroneously. I didn't think SOUNDTRACK was used for both. I think of a Broadway cast album.

I got frustrated after staring at the NW last night and again this morning to no avail, and I shamefully took a DNF which is rather defeatist on a Wednesday, I know. (Head hanging low and a single sob is heard.) B for constructor because of the cursed NW, and F for me.

Nancy 9:00 AM  

Either all the people just like me are sleeping late this morning, or else I'm way out in left field. But I hated absolutely everything about this awful pop culture trivia fest. I only took the trouble to finish it so I could come here and say so. Since I'm unfamiliar with just about all the movies/books/characters upon which the theme answers are based, the answers just left me saying "Huh?" Even when the PPP skewed old, as in Tigger and Eeyore from "Winnie the Pooh", the answer POOH STICKS also left me saying "Huh?" What on earth are they? I can't even imagine what OISK will say about this. One of my least favorite puzzles of the year. Make that any year.

Suzy 9:03 AM  

LOVED this puzzle! Thank you #Matthew Sewell. Only sligh complaint is TV Tape, which is certainly clunky!

NCA President 9:16 AM  

@aging soprano: I don't think musical recordings were ever called soundtracks. They are known as "Original Broadway Cast Recordings" (or "OCRs" as they're known in the biz.) As Rex mentioned, both shows in the clue became movies which then released what are called "soundtracks."

From the FWIW department: even though Hair's OCR (staged in 1968) and The Who's Tommy's concept album (1969) were released before the JCCS concept album (1970), JCCS is considered to be the first staged rock musical/opera. Hair is considered to be a pop musical about the rock and roll culture (not a truly rock and roll musical), and Tommy wasn't staged on B'way until 1993. So JCCS is a considered to be the first musical (opera, technically) that uses actual R&R music as its score. Also interesting is that the JCCS concept album that we all know and love is not truly an OCR. It was recorded by Rice and Webber to raise money to stage the production (1971) so it came out before the show itself. (Tommy's concept album came first too, but it had to wait a long time before it was ever staged in 1993). All three shows eventually became movies...with Tommy's film (1975) predating the Bway stage production. Those three shows have a very interesting intersecting history.

My hand up for the ROSEN/UNCAS crossing. I figured the last Mohican would be an UNCAn. Since xwords always seem to introduce tribes off my radar (Almec, I'm looking at you).

TVTAPE is stupid. I'm just going to say it.

Like @Lewis I was unfamiliar with three of the four "fantasy" sports. I know only QUIDDITCH. I think I've heard of that the one where you drop sticks in the river? CALVINBALL and PODRACING I got by deduction or inference or whatever means of figuring it out through logic, but they meant nothing to me.

And I agree with Rex, FANTASYSPORTS are obnoxious...and have become waaaay too serious and just another excuse to lose one's money. But as an upside, there are lots and lots of people who know more about the players on teams than ever before. Not to sound sexist, but I know women who aren't necessarily big sports fans who know more about each player on each team than I'll ever know or care about. So it's probably good for the sports overall.

GILL I. 9:23 AM  

I had the same experience as @Hartley70...and I might have had more huh's????than @Nancy.
FLAN and BAKLAVA were just about the only gimmees. I sort of knew QUIDDITCH and despite reading Calvin and Hobbes, It took me forever to get CALVIN BALL.
I forgot what a Mohel does for a living. I'm a female and I still winced. @George: A Suitcase!!!!!! That's some big dreaming there and it made my coffee almost come out my nose.
@Carola. Oh lordy...I remember that ad so well. Yes, my sister and I would do that act all the time. Mom was not so amused.
It's almost 6:30 in the morn here and already I'm bored.

Pete 9:26 AM  

When I, infrequently I admit, have to spell ROCOCO I'm always surprised it's not ROCCOCCO, perhaps with aperçus on one to all of the Cs. It seems wrong that it's spelled the simplest, most concise way possible.

TV tape 9:31 AM  

Rex's A- for this piece of crap puzzle is shocking. I'd think a puzzle that included TVTAPE, a completely nonsense word for something that doesn't exist, would be disqualified.

Z 9:35 AM  

Wasn't it just yesterday that Rex asserted that dreck at 1A/1D did not bode well for the fill in the rest of the puzzle? That NW corner is pretty ugly, but the puzzle recovers nicely. I assume the SCRUBS SMUT reference is to a little seen later work of Zach Braff and Sarah Chalke. No?

Regarding TV TAPE - the only thing I can come up with is that we used to use our VCRs to record TV shows, making it a TV TAPE as opposed to a movie tape. Maybe with SCRUBS SMUT on it. Not buying it? Me either.

@CFXK and @Anon8:36 beat me to my Cast Recordings/SOUNDTRACKS pedantry. Nothing worse than being a late pedant.

@Joseph Welling - beat me to pointing out that Jesus Christ Superstar was a concept album, but failed to mention that Deep Purple's Ian Gillan sang the part of Jesus on that album. I know it's a narrow genre and that others may disagree, but the man had the greatest Rock-n-Roll scream of all time.

@Lewis - "I'm my opinion" is a Commentariat Koan.

PPP Analysis

@Nancy points out the fundamental issue with Pop Culture clues, especially when Pop Culture clues are the theme. If the area of pop culture is not one you are familiar with the puzzle becomes arduous, even tortuous. This puzzle happens to be in my wheelhouse, so I loved the solve. But if theme were centered around 19th century Brit Lit, or mid-20th century Jazz, my reaction would have been less than positive.

Hartley70 9:36 AM  

@mooretep, interesting post and the link was fascinating. Thanks for stepping out of the shadows and posting it. Due to you, we've had a lively weights and measure discussion going on here this morning.

Patricia Granholm 9:41 AM  

True true-automatic F!

Mohair Sam 9:47 AM  

@Rex - So an English Professor teaching in Upstate New York, not all that far from Cooperstown, "utterly forgot" UNCAS but apparently had a gimme on ROSEN. Hmmmm. Thank heaven for tenure.

Fun debut puzzle for sure. Rex's review hit it right on the nose. I'll confess to forgetting UNCAS too, and I read the book twice - but who could forget Al ROSEN? We didn't know the FANTASYSPORTS beyond QUIDDITCH but they could easily be inferred. And who can hate a puzzle with roll off the tongue words like BAKLAVA and ROCOCO?

FANTASY SPORTS. @Rex mentioned his dislike, he didn't say why. It looks like fun, so does online poker. Many of the top poker players have left that game for fantasy sports because there is so much more easy money there. There's an old saying in poker: "If you don't know who the mark is at the table, it's you." If you're playing fantasy sports less than full time and without a sophisticated system of algorithms to test betting patterns - you're the mark. Play it like you do slot machines if you must, know you're almost surely going to lose.

@Nancy - I remember your question about themed puzzles. This puzzle is a great example of the advantages of a themed puzzle. I see you didn't like the puzz. Re-read Rex's write-up - he found more than a few flaws, but look how he shrugs them off (especially how he insists the solver should imply the "S" in ROSEN, how un-Rex is that?). Why? Because he just loved the theme. Looking back I realize I felt the same too. Hell, it was a really clever theme and made the solving experience lots of fun. Who cares about a TVTAPE or two?

kitshef 9:50 AM  

@Hartley70 - PigRACING would have been soooo much more entertaining.

@Nancy - thought to myself as I solved, "Nancy will hate this one".

@NCA President. Yes, you each drop your stick into the water at the upstream side of a bridge, then you run to the other side of the bridge to see whose stick emerges first. Originally played with pine cones, later adapted to sticks. You can actually play Poohsticks on the restored original bridge if you are willing to visit East Sussex.

mathgent 10:01 AM  

Thanks to those above who explained what's wrong with SOUNDTRACKS. It struck me as off, but the reason didn't hit me.

I usually like a puzzle where I learn new words, but VLOG, CALVINBALL, PODRACING, POOHSTICKS? I don't feel that my store of knowledge has been enriched.

I did learn from the internet that ALANON is not the same as Alcoholics Anonymous, although they are extremely similar.

Joseph Michael 10:02 AM  

Not in my wheelhouse, so I'm inclined to agree with @Nancy. Though I didn't hate the puzzle. I just didn't get it.

As for POOHSTICKS, the image conjured is not a pleasant one.

Music Album 10:08 AM  

it makes me a headache Dog Stomach Swelling

mathgent 10:09 AM  

@Mohair Sam (9:47).

"If you don't know who the mark is at the table, it's you." Great one. Hadn't heard it before.

jberg 10:09 AM  

Put me in the 'loved it' camp. I did know all the games, but it's interesting to read the comments and see that everyone's experience is different in this regard -- one person's gimme is another's total blank. That shows the cultural reach of the puzzle, a good thing in my opinion.

@Nancy, just so you know, you don't really have to complete the puzzle before coming here to say you hate it.

Roo Monster 10:15 AM  

Hey All !
Hand up for TV TAPE being a non-thing. Also VLOG is out there. Do YouTubers say that? Agree with those who said NW hardest part. Redo in order there.

Did like theme, forgot about CALVIN BALL, even though Calvin & Hobbes was one of the best (if not The best) cartoons ever. Might start some name calling with my next pronouncement, but as comics go, Marmaduke and Frank&Ernest are the two worst ones out there. One persons opinion.

Read 9D as Model's job and wrote in pose! Oops. ENTER ON also kinda wonky. CONTRETEMPS a new one on me. Interesting to have two Down 11's.

And @Z, it seems from your post you didn't like TV's SCRUBS. I thought it was an awesome show. Perfect blend of comedy, real-life type scenarios, some drama, and overall very well written. Again, one persons opinion. Seems all my little quirks are coming out here!

ANACIN becoming popular. As an ex-bakery worker, BAKLAVA nice to see. ROCOCO know from x-words. TV TAPE still not a thing! :-)


deerfencer 10:22 AM  

Must've caught OFL in a good mood; any other day he would have gone off on a rant about TVTAPE, which is indeed truly bad.

Disliked this one throughout whilst solving; looking at it afterwards, it seems well executed, just a theme that interests me about as much as making bagels from scratch.

Pass the lye.

Arlene 10:22 AM  

Got through this puzzle quite well, even though I was essentially flying without a net.

I can give additional perspectives on VLOG. In the Deaf Community (those who use sign language as their main means of communication), the VLOG is the preferred media choice for "blogging". Since American Sign Language (ASL) is not a written language, written blogging doesn't work particularly well for this population. VLOGs are preferred simply because they can use ASL - and convey and be understood by their intended audience. For non-ASL users, like myself, it is helpful if these VLOGs are also captioned.

Aketi 10:27 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Loren Muse Smith 10:30 AM  

@ED - mea culpa. I've had that one coming for a while. Hey - it's part of the Use Fewer Exclamation Points effort.

chefbea 10:30 AM  

Hated the puzzle!!! Don't know anything about fantasy sports or any of the clues...except for Calvin and hobbs.

Aketi 10:42 AM  

Finished fairly easily, despite the annoying VLOG TVTAPE cross.

@Nancy, I didn't hate it, but I can see why you would.

After visiting a grand total of 21 universities and listened to their info sessions that always included mention of club sports, I think QUIDDITCH has transformed from a FANTASY SPORT to a real sport on many campuses, seconded by broom ball. Personally, I think Lehigh's bed racing wins the prize for most original activity. They did have to ban racing down the rather steep hills and require riders to wear helmets.

old timer 11:10 AM  

I liked the puzzle almost as much as OFL, except for the ROSEN/UNCAS Natick. I once knew ROSEN I suppose. But somehow I thought there was a "Kalin"(Al Kaline, actually).

I've never read any of Cooper's novels, and I doubt he is assigned reading in many college English classes. What I have read are Mark Twain's hilarious sendups of Fenimore Cooper's "literary offenses."

AliasZ 11:12 AM  

I used to own a clunky TV with a door on its side that hid the H and V-LOG I mean 'hold' knobs as well as the brightness, contrast and volume controls. Of course, the hinge of the door broke the first week. I had to use a piece of what I called TV TAPE to hold it in place. My VCR only accepted VHS cassettes, it would have got jammed up had I tried to insert my TV TAPE.

ENTERON is another name for the human gastrointestinal tract, from la boca to el ano.

UNCAS was a gimme, having read most of James Fenimore Cooper's Leatherstocking Tales as a teenager, and ROSEN appeared often enough in puzzles to remember him.

When WINGS of chicken ENTER ON
The long trek through our enteron,
They don't need an aileron
To bank on the banks of Amazon,
Or be shown on the jumbotron
With TV host Tom Bergeron,
Who never sported a chevron
On either sleeve of his Dacron
FANTASY SPORTS coat [oxymoron].

But enough silliness. How about some ROCOCO Variations played by cellist Leonard ROSE[N] (1918–1984)?


Natticus 11:20 AM  

When I was a camp counselor I ran an afternoon activity called Calvinball, where another counselor and I and a group of campers made up the rules to a game on the volleyball court as we went along. I don't even know if/how we kept score. It was amazing. For that alone I love this puzzle.... Except UNCAS/ROSEN.

Incidentally, I vaguely remember calling VHS tapes "TV Tapes" as a child, so that one wasn't so terrible for me.

jae 11:39 AM  

Easy for me. No erasures and no WOEs other than maybe POD RACING and POOH STICKS which were very inferable. I skipped the 3 Star Wars prequels so, although I know who the characters are, I have no idea about the plot details. I also never read Milne. On the other hand I'm a big fan of the Watterson (Kenyon grad) strip.

Clever, fun, delightful, an excellent debut, liked it a lot.

Joe Bleaux 11:47 AM  

Re your last sentence: Hu hu! Yes, indeed. I laughed til it hurt at Twain's takedown. (Remember his contrasting an ordinary Native American and a "Cooper Indian"?) Thanks for triggering the memory.

Gregory Schmidt 11:48 AM  

Really? The fill wasn't bad? Disagree. And topped off by the Naticky UNCAS/ROSEN cross. Ugh. Although I'm sure that was another "gimmee" for our resident humanities/baseball specialist.

relicofthe60s 11:57 AM  

I find it startling that so many people don't know Uncas. Are there a lot of New York Times readers who haven't read The Last of the Mohicans or at least seen the movie? Seems to me far less obscure than some of the rappers with which we are regularly afflicted these days.

The real question is whether Uncas is the last Mohican. He dies in the book, but his father, Chingachgook, survives, making technically the last of the Mohicans.

Neil Nathanson 11:57 AM  

I like these fantasy sports. Too bad Whack Bat from Fantastic Mr. Fox was not included. It would hav fit the theme nicely!

nick 12:00 PM  

Seems to me that @Rex forgave a great many sins in his delight over the theme here. 1D is just plan ridiculous and any other constructor would have been lambasted for it. And Rosen/Uncas? No. But Calvinball fits so neatly into the (late lamented) C&H universe that ultimately this was mostly OK.

Mike Rees 12:00 PM  

So, are you saying that an object in a weightless environment is the same measure in kilograms as is it in a weighted environment, but the same does not apply for Imperial weight measures?

How does one accurately measure mass in kilograms in places where the force of gravity varies?

Numinous 12:01 PM  

I've never read The Las of the Mohecans but I knew UNCAS. Well not off the bat but was scratching and scrambling my brain to try to remember it. I got the U the N and the A, not having POOH STICKS yet but I AHAed UNCAS. And that gave me ROSEN. No biggie. Somehow I'd already gotten FANTASY SPORTS, and had figured out QUIDDITCH from the Q. I've never heard of CALVINBALL or POOHSTICKS and I already had PO_RACING. Figured that one out too and now I can't get Jar Jar Binks outta mesa head. Just for the record, I loved Star Wars when it came out but have hated every other "episode". It's wonderful that Lucas made as much money as he did but as a "life's work", I think it's kind of a waste. His USC buddy Stephen has a much more interesting oeuvre (excellent xword fill, that).

TV TAPE doesn't bother me at all, I don't know why. I understand what it means. It was the second clue I contemplated and I thought through Beta and VHS, the 2" Videotape also came to mind. VLOG gave it away. I'm sure we all know what a bLOG is, a shortening of web LOG, a Video LOG easily becomes VLOG. The term has been around a while, watch more YouTube. Some of it is a stupid waste of time but there are some bright informative folks out there making some interesting little vids. SciShow is an excellent example.

I have to agree with @Rex's grade today, I thought it was a suitcase full of fun. This is the second debut this week, are we detecting a trend?

Anonymous 12:04 PM  

A-??? No, this is a FAIL---TVTAPE is the lamest answer I have ever seen, made worse by crossing VLOG. VLOG I can see, but I don't believe TVTAPE has ever been used in the history of Mankind.

Maybe I'm just in a bad mood because the NYT software didn't give me credit for Tuesday's solve, despite showing my time for completion in the archive. No point in complaining--they take my money, but are unresponsive, I've found.

I may go back to the LA Times puzzles: they are harder, and they they are free.

Floregonian 12:05 PM  

*Raises hand.* I'm the "one of my Twitter followers" who got naticked by ROSEN/UNCAS. Never been described that way by anyone (I follow many, many people on Twitter, of course) but it's technically true. I do follow Rex on Twitter, and I'm usually happy about it.

I'm glad to see a few other folks felt the same way about that particular crossing, though untangling it and doing something else in that lower part of the puzzle would be a real mess. I felt like it was a small price to pay for getting QUIDDITCH in the puzzle, which went in early and happily stayed right where I put it.

It's probably restating the obvious, but I also thought TVTAPE was an epic aberration in an otherwise sparkling puzzle. For me, that word (and to a lesser degree ENTERON) was overpowered by the overall quality of the rest of the fill. Right in my wheelhouse, as well.

ROCOCO was by far my favorite non-themer. It may be simply spelled, @Pete, but it sure sounds to my ears exactly what it is. It's feels frivolously fancy every time I say it.

Floregonian 12:19 PM  

I'm in my 40s, was a lit major at a very good school, and I neither read the book nor saw the movie. There's a lot of literature out there, and unless you're talking about international blockbusters, it's a bit dangerous to assume that everyone has read or seen anything. Actually, even then. I'll bet there are a decent number of folks here who haven't read or seen any of the Harry Potter books. I think Rex is right—not about the obviousness of the letter "S"—but about constructors watching for proper name crossings.

QuasiMojo 12:22 PM  

"Yay" (or more correctly "yeah!" for @Nancy. I totally agree with her (per usual). This was a dreary slog. Never heard of any of the four theme answers (which is not a reason to dislike something, I know) so I relied on the other clues to fill out the grid successfully. But some of those, such as "TV Tape" and "Enter On" (really?), "ILO" were "lethal." Kudos for "Contretemps" however.

Floregonian 12:28 PM  

Also, I'm an amateur (oft-rejected) constructor and I actually built a very similar (but inferior) grid a couple of years ago that riffed on a similar theme, except that I ran FANTASY FOOTBALL down the middle of the grid and then crossed it with a bunch of invented, ridiculous things, like ROCKET CLEATS. It was a fun exercise, but this grid is so much better. (I'd happily share the grid, but I don't know protocol. It's not that good, but I'm sure I'd learn something from all of you.)

QuasiMojo 12:30 PM  

P.S. A "soundtrack" is any recording of a film's musical score or in some cases spoken dialogue. It has nothing to do with Original Cast Recordings. The soundtrack to "A Clockwork Orange," for example, is one of my faves, but it seemed semi-ridiculous here to clue two shows best-known as stage musicals (and in the case of "Jesus Christ Superstar," rock-opera) for a dull movie reference. Both films did poorly at the box-office and I suspect more people bought the stage recordings than they did any later soundtracks. I did enjoy recalling the time I went to see "Jesus Christ Superstar" on Broadway and had a dozen or so nuns in full habit sitting in front of me, rocking joyfully to the beat!

Anonymous 12:36 PM  

Not knowing any of these sports made the solve unsatisfying and mysterious.

timjim 12:50 PM  

I'm with @Nancy. Didn't know any of the sports and so this was no fun for me.

ANON B 12:54 PM  

If I have to read Harry Potter stories
in order to complete puzzles, then I'll just
have to look up a few answers.

Z 1:01 PM  

@Roo Monster - My Way Home may be the finest half hour of sitcom ever committed to TV TAPE (nope - still doesn't work). My Musical is a close second. Just because I like a show doesn't mean an interesting cross should be ignored.

@Mike Rees - Here is a not too complicated explanation as long as you aren't intimidated by formulas. Wikipedia has an explanation, too, that looks to be all words (I confess - I didn't bother to read the Wiki article).

@relicofthe60s - I know UNCAS from crosswords. Even by my junior high years in the 1970's Cooper had fallen off the "every student should be forced to read this" list. I don't think I know anyone who has read the book or seen the movie. At least it has never come up.

@Mohair Sam - I'm of the opinion that gambling should be legal and taxed. What I find troubling about the FANTASY SPORTS industry is that it is gambling posing as not gambling. If someone finds poker or the slots or FANTASY SPORTS entertaining, fine. But let's make sure that people are informed about what's really going on before giving their money to DraftKings. And then let's tax the profits. A lot. Detroit's three casinos paid $300K a day in taxes last year. I imagine Fantasy Sports would generate at least that much if Michigan could tax it.

ANON B 1:21 PM  

And that goes for Star Wars also.
See my comment at 12>:54 PM

Teedmn 1:28 PM  

I read "The Last of the Mohicans" only a few years ago but Cooper's writing seemed so tortured to me and the characters so flimsily outlined that I don't remember a single character's name and while I was reading it, I had trouble picturing what they were doing or what their surroundings looked like. Only the dialogue seemed to be written in normal English sentences. I guess I should check out the Twain send-up - it sounds like a gas. (After admitting yesterday that I despised "The Magic Mountain", I am losing any claim I may have had to being one of the literati. @Carola, was the book any better in German or was it just a blessing that some pages were blank?)

That being said, I was able to pull out the UNCAS/ROSEN cross correctly (thank goodness the ILO was clued as an anagram or I surely would have DNFed in that section.)

I knew QUIDDITCH and CALVINBALL. I was thrilled to get CONTRETEMPS off the CON. And unlike @LMS, I would eat FLAN after my BAKLAVA in order to lighten the sugar high a tad.

One of my co-workers often says, when a customer calls back to place a new order, "When you take a thorn out of somebody's PAW, they remember you kindly".

Congratulations on your NY Times debut, Mr. Sewell!

Anonymous 1:31 PM  

I think complaints about puzzles like this should be directed back towards their editor, Will Shortz. There was a letter published to the NY Times several months ago complaining about the puzzle: I have forgotten the name of the woman who wrote it. I suspect that there is no consensus about this among those who contribute to this site: Rex Parker seems to regard allusions to modern pop culture with sympathy. I am from Indiana University, where Shortz got his B.A. Indiana has made a great fuss over Shortz as one of our “success stories.” Shortz at Indiana was able to create a “personalized major”: he majored in enigmology (sp.) or something like it, i.e. puzzle studies. I never question that Shortz is clever with words, as I think his public radio show demonstrates. But I suspect that this cleverness preceded his Indiana tenure. I’ve suggested, when Indiana brags about Shortz and their “personalized major,” that if Indiana had required Shortz to have a normal major–English, history, or classical studies–perhaps he would not have ruined the NY Times crossword puzzle, that there would not have been so many references to daytime television, idiotic movies, electronic media, and bad music. Academia has made a huge fuss about its “openness,” as exemplified by such things as “personalized majors.” Some regard this as progressive; a few of us, myself included, see it as fundamentally reactionary. Perhaps when we greet the election of Donald Trump this November, we can turn to the “progressive” academics and ask, like the Paduan professor Pietro Baglioni in the tale of Hawthorne, “and is this the upshot of your experiment?”

Larry Gilstrap 1:39 PM  

I guess it's time to revisit the whole outhouse/wheelhouse conversation. Let's make a puzzle containing stuff about which Larry knows almost absolutely nothing, and decorate it with a FANTASY motif. Agree with OFL about some of the flaws in construction, but I, unfortunately, can't share his joy in the themers.

Martín Abresch 1:46 PM  

Hard dislike a puzzle that has CALVINBALL as the answer.

I knew both UNCAS and Al ROSEN. Just the other month I was talking about "Last of the Mohicans" with my family. We were all big fans of the Daniel Day-Lewis movie. It's been a long time since I read the book, but I recall it being incredibly boring. My mother is from Argentina, and she recalled enjoying reading an abridged Spanish version and being disappointed by the full-length English version. We figure the Spanish version cut out the boring bits.

I did have trouble with ANN/AL-ANON. N was the most probable letter so I guessed correctly, but it was a close thing as ALANON looked like gibberish to me.

My time spent solving the puzzle was split rather evenly between the NW corner and everything else.

Numinous 2:02 PM  

@Beatrice, I did what I said I would yesterday.

Z 2:04 PM  

@Anonymous1:31 - I'm not even on your lawn.

BTW - People actually play QUIDDITCH. Quite a few people near you if you live in the NE.

No BS 2:12 PM  

Z's references explain distinction between mass and weight nicely, but do not answer how to measure mass in zero g. The key fact is that mass resists acceleration, ie the more mass you have the more force you need to accelerate to a given level. This YouTube shows a simple spring-pendulum or oscillator which will oscillate at various speeds depending on the mass of the object being oscillated. Crude, but effective in demonstrating the principle.

Chronic dnfer 2:23 PM  

Horrible little puzzle although not as bad as yesterday's.

Masked and Anonymous 2:26 PM  

@RP: Was that really written by U? [tap,tap] Testing. U wrote *that* NYTPuz blog review today? Such glowing praise? Such luv of a themed puz? Such funky fill forgiveness? Such … Sunshine on a cinnamon roll? Really? That was U?!? Mm-mmellow, dude. Nice bullets, btw.

TVTAPE. har. Now that's what I'm talkin about, UNCA ROSENS. Now there's some upfront and passionate desperation that M&A can sink his teeth into and celebrate. thUmbsUp, Mr. Sewell. Nice debut, too boot. Didn't know many of the FANTASYSPORTS themers, but that ain't the puz's fault. Sorta knew PODRACING. I think maybe I woke up at a key moment during that Harry Potter flick, and soaked up a vague recollection of QUIDDITCH [Is that the hole where Britexiters bury their EU investment bonds?], so … ok enough to pass muster at our pancake house.

Personal NE passage trouble: Had IPO instead of IRA, so really quid-ditched the NE corner up, somethin fierce.

fave grid stuffins: KICKME. TVTAPE (har). CONTRETEMPS = M&A W.O.T.D. POOHSTICKS (Whizzpopper cousins?). WEBCAM.
fave weeject: POV. Honrable mention to ORE with the line thru it. Does POOH also have a line thru it?

@muse: Primo smirk-shrug thingy. U are so talented.

Thanx and congratz to the constructioneer. Keep that there U-count up. Dare to be desperate; next time, go for GREENTVPAINT (har).

@RP: That really really really was U? day-um.

Masked & Anonymo3Us


Anonymous 3:01 PM  

11D should be IPO, no? Else what does T. Rowe Price have to do with India Pale Ale?

Tom 3:11 PM  

Any crossword that references Calvin and Hobbes is a winner for me. The most imaginative, fresh, hilarious comic strip ever. When Bill Watterson penned his last strip, I quit reading the comics page and have never gone back. Fortunately I have the three volume set of his works, which I read a bit at a time and enjoy all over again.

RE: the puzzle, easy Wednesday. ANSEL Adams seems to be showing up a lot lately. TVTAPE is a stretch, since we all called them VCR tapes where I live.

Favorite other word: CONTRETEMPS. I'd forgotten what it meant.

Anonymous 3:14 PM  

@Anon 3:01 11D is IRA, which may be invested in T.Rowe Price

Anonymous 3:21 PM  

@Relicofthe60s - I hate grammar Nazis, but its' "..with whom we are afflicted", not "with which". Rappers be people, not things.

GILL I. 4:02 PM  

@Anony 3:21. That's so sweet of you to point out @Relicofthe60s oopsie. I always appreciate someone correcting my mistakes. English was not my first language and boy have I been accused of grammar solecism. If it weren't for polite gents not engaging in CONTRETEMP tete a tetes with me about these god-awful mistakes, I would have never had the courage to say my piece in this blog. Just don't you dare correct my pronunciations....Gracias

Bill 4:09 PM  

Why not RASH and ELOI at 1A and 14A to avoid both TVTAPE and VLOG?

Carola 4:28 PM  

@Teedmn, despite dutiful efforts, I found the book impenetrable in both languages. I think I just didn't have the background to put the intellectual arguments in any kind of context. It's probably not too far off to say that for what I got out of it, all of the pages might as well have been blank. But I still get a kick out of the prize - besides the unprinted pages, it was an indescribably cheap, flimsy volume.

Mohair Sam 5:32 PM  

@Z - Yes, I think it behooves our governments to inform the people that fantasy sports are pure gambling, with the dice loaded in the favor of the pros even more than they are in poker and horse racing. I've always been in favor of legalized gambling, so we're not gong to argue on this issue at all.

I do worry about governments running gambling in that they'll market things like fantasy sports as they do the lottery, reduce payouts sharply, and fantasy sports could become just another tax on the poor.

Anonymous 5:46 PM  

Alamo is a "gimme" if you speak a bit of Spanish and live in the west. We do enjoy the NYT crossword out here also.

Elle 54 6:03 PM  

Finished but have no clue what these things are and how they relate to Draft a Kings,. Are they games people bet on?

Nancy 6:29 PM  

@Teedmn & @Carola -- What a huge relief to find out that I wasn't the only person to hate "The Last of the Mohicans". I was force-fed it in grade school-- 8th grade, if memory serves -- and it was the first, but emphatically not the last, of the Great Books I hated. Unlike you guys, I don't remember a thing about it or why in particular I hated it, but, hey, that could have been close to 60 years ago, so, as Gilda Radner would say: "Never mind."

There were so many other Great Books that I hated. "House of the Seven Gables" was another. (Was that grade school or early high school?) Boy, did I hate that book! I didn't hate Jane Austen, but I certainly didn't like her either. (That was in 11th grade: my English teacher was less than thrilled with my reaction, as you might imagine.)

But it was in Freshman year of college, when I realized that my keen dislike of so many Great Books was going to be a huge liability if I decided to major in English (which everyone, including me, had assumed I would.) We were reading "Women In Love" by D.H. Lawrence. There were two couples, I forget their names. One was a blond couple that did exciting things like gallop on white stallions, with the sun reflecting off their blond hair... or something like that. The other was a just-too-pwecious dark-haired couple who were just so exquisitely sensitive to everything artsy that you could die. I identified completely with the blond couple...and I remember really liking their white stallion. So I go into class only to discover that Lawrence has used "white-dark symbolism" throughout the novel and that everything blond or white or metallic represents the inhuman, mechanical universe and that everything dark represents earth, Nature, regeneration and rebirth...or some such. OMG, I thought, I'VE IDENTIFIED WITH THE WRONG COUPLE!!!! Can there be anything more ignominious? I am obviously not cut out to be an English major. And what's worse, I don't care about "light-dark symbolism" in this novel. I'm not really sure I even buy light-dark symbolism in this novel. There simply have to be more important concerns in the world than light-dark symbolism in a Lawrence novel. My decision was made on the spot. I decided to major in Government.

Anony 3:21 9:04 PM  

@Gill I - It's not as if I corrected who to whom. What I did was point out that when referring to people, particularly a predominately black group of people, it's better to refer to them as people, not things. Big difference.

Teedmn 9:09 PM  

@Nancy, D H Lawrence is another author I haven't gotten to yet though it has always been my intention to do so. Funny that in choosing Government, you chose something about as far from "black and white" as you can get :-).

Anonymous 11:43 PM  

The Alamo was built in Mexico by Spanish speaking people and you look up the tree in an English dictionary? And you're surprised you don't find it? I guess English profs aren't expected to know history or be aware there are other languages.

Virginia 12:17 AM  

Loved it, despite the ridiculous TVTAPE, because it featured three of my all-time fave FANTASY SPORTS (plus POD RACING, about which I have no strong feelings.) I noticed that several commenters said they didn't know how to play POOHSTICKS, and one even seemed concerned that violence might be involved. So, to calm any residual fears, here are the rules, courtesy of Wikipedia:

"Poohsticks is a sport first mentioned in The House at Pooh Corner, a Winnie-the-Pooh book by A. A. Milne. It is a simple sport which may be played on any bridge over running water; each player drops a stick on the upstream side of a bridge and the one whose stick first appears on the downstream side is the winner."

Anonymous 1:25 AM  

Loved it, despite Uncas/Rosen

Leapfinger 8:16 AM  

Enjoyed @Professor Baglioni and @larry Gilstrap's sorrow, though I didn't fully relate to either.

@Nancy, your last sentence... I roared.

@Numinous, shall try to read what you wrote, also.

@George, loved revisiting the corpus of your wallet joke, but you realize it's physiologically unsound, don't you?

Am just starting to recover from the slap in the face to WiLL WeNG.

POOHSTICKS? I remember the game described in the AAMilne book (even can visualize the illustrations), but don't remember it being named as such. Oh well, shall cross that bridge when I get to it.

Bread and circuses, y'all.

Burma Shave 11:45 AM  


WELL, POOHSTICKS I can’t bear, and QUIDDITCH? OSSO much chasing,


spacecraft 11:58 AM  

I'm always surprised at which nit you folks will pick. SOUNDTRACKS schmoundtracks; who cares? At first, I thought it was eightTRACKS. That whole NW was an absolute bear, the fantastic TVTAPE not helping. MY big objection is ENTERON. Who says that? I had __TERON and still resisted--but what else could it be? That's by far the dumbest entry in this grid, leaving TVTAPE in the dust.

They've just been rerunning the whole Star Wars saga on TBS here, so PODRACING helped. As big a fan of C&H as I was, I missed that panel that mentioned CALVINBALL--though it was easy enough to suss out. And even this non-Potter adherent knew QUIDDITCH, a really great made-up word. Nut POOHSTICKS? That's a new one--and since that's where I started (with the lion's PAW), I was second-guessing myself all through the SW.

But I can't believe the UNCAS/ROSEN cross was so hard for so many. This is supposed to be a well-read bunch (better-read than I am, mostly!) and yet so few remember UNCAS?? THATSO (ugh)?

One pleasant memory was triggered by the clue for 31-across. I used to be a 76ers fan when they were a bona fide pro team--I don't know what they are now, just a schedule filler for NBA teams to pad their win columns. At any rate, they had a wonderful announcer named Dave Zinkoff. When a player was at the line for two shots (or a 1-and-1), after the first was made the Zink would intone: "He'll have aNOTHAH!" RIP, Dave.

DOD is ANN Wilson's sister Nancy. Well, the clue includes her: close enough! Not much to complain about today; I don't know if it climbs all the way to A-, but it'll move the chains. First down.

rondo 12:41 PM  

What @spacey said about TVAPE/ENTERON, THATSO bad; also the UNCAS/ROSEN issue, damn near a gimme. He also stole my thunder on Heart’s ANN Wilson and yeah baby sister Nancy. Great minds, or something.

Did not know CALVINBALL as that strip was carried by the enemy paper (Mpls StarTribune).

The injured dog walked into the saloon looking for the man that shot his PAW.

I wonder if NBA STAR SHAQ can shoot PAR? Probably not without ONEMORE ANACIN (or an IcyHot).

POV is APBS series. And this puz was no A- with at least 25 3 letter answers. ALAS, OFL too enamored with FANTASYSPORTS.

Anonymous 1:02 PM  

Found that "poohstinks" was a possibility...not without its logic....

leftcoastTAM 2:06 PM  

Agree with Rex that it's easy-medium and that TVTAPE is a head scratcher (V in the crossing with VLOG was the last letter in). I used to call them "video cassettes" or just "cassettes". Close by, first wanted eight track(!) before SOUNDTRACK

FANTASYSPORTS virtually filled itself in, and the more obscure names of the sports themselves were revealed pretty easily by crosses.

Didn't know ALAMO was a tree, but it made sense, and I'm old enough to remember that Al ROSEN, who went on to become a popular baseball field manager, had been a star player, for the Cleveland Indians, I think.

QUIDDITCH was a highlight and something of a spelling problem, but crosses helped with that, too. Remembered UNCAS from the great Daniel Day-Lewis movie.

Much of the fill was familiar stuff, but the long CONTRETEMPS stood out as lively and fresh.

Enjoyed it.

rain forest 3:03 PM  

@anonymous at 102 PM I'll bet a few others contemplated that one. LOL

I'm with the crowd who absolutely loved CALVIN and Hobbes, and so this puzzle is great. As wincey as ID is, KICK ME for not minding it. Its meaning is clear. I think ENTER ON is something that people say, or may say, or may have said. So, OK.

The sad thing about FANTASY SPORTS is that the players watch a game and only root for whoever is on their fantasy team rather than the actual teams playing the actual game. I was in a fantasy hockey league for a few years and found that was happening to me, and so I stopped participating. However, the FANTASY SPORTS in the puzzle are all part of a unique and creative theme, in my opinion. I think I read, or had read to me, all the Pooh books, but don't remember POOH STICKS. But the others were familiar, and that is why I finished this entertaining puzzle. Hey, I even knew UNCAS.

Diana, LIW 4:26 PM  

My Mom had a copy of "Last of the Ms" on her bookshelf. I picked it up, could not get a toehold, and even my 17-year-old high school senior self knew that life was too short... (Hi @Teedmn and @Nancy) And, no, I don't remember an MPV from a sport I don't watch, and didn't watch back when I was a toddler. Sheesh - NOT a gimme.

But I already had a dnf with RANa being the Indian princess, giving us the game of QUIDDaTCH.

I LOVED the fact that these fantasy sports all really do exist in their fantasy worlds. I thought they were just made up by the constructor until I checked them out at Bill Butler's site. Made a cool puzzle cooler.

Agree with others on a few clunkers (TVTAPE being the worst, IMHO). And the partial of a partial THATSO a very close second. But all in all it was a fun puzzle - good Wednesday.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

kathy of the tower 2:27 AM  

Whenever I go to Minnehaha Falls I always play POOHSTICKS and have since I was 8 years old.

I don't understand the hate for Star Wars and Harry Potter. Is it too lowbrow for the rarified world of the NYT? They have had a huge impact on the popular culture, witness Disney World and Universal Studios attractions. Have you forgotten your sense of childhood and adventure and all the wonder and magic that is out there? Or even simply the need for a little escapism? I've certainly enjoyed them and will again, it's fun.
End of rant, I still enjoy the comments.

Anonymous 5:02 PM  

I know I'm a day late, even here in syndication land, but this puzzle was such a joy that I just had to comment!

I'm in my 50s and VLOG was a gimme. Really! It's a thing, and it's been a thing for a while. And after that, TVTAPE fell right in; no harm, no foul. I did have quick a moment of "huh?" there, but whatever. I moved on to the rest of this awesome puzzle.

I actually shouted "CALVINBALL!" Out loud, startling my wife and cats, when I got 18A. After that and PODRACING, I immediately starting looking for QUIDDITCH, even before seeing the revealer. As soon as I had those double-D's I popped it right in without even looking at the clue. I love when stuff like that happens.

Googling "Broadway Soundtrack" yields lotsa results, so yeah, I think the term is fair. Plus, as Rex conceded, JCS and Godspell were also films with soundtrack albums, so it works anyway. Nothing to see here. Move along.

I confess I had no clue as to UNCAS, but Al ROSEN was another gimme, so I remained Natickless throughout. Delightful Wednesday and a terrific debut from Matthew Sewell!

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