Iranian holy city / TUE 10-18-16 / Illusionist Henning / Spiegel co-founder Snapchat / Obsolescent data storage device / Tentacled marine creature / Rhyme scheme in last verse of villanelle / French city named after Greek goddess of victory

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Constructor: Mary Lou Guizzo

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium


THEME: MIDDLE NAME (57A: What 50-Across is ... or a clue to 17-, 29-, 35- and 45-Across) — "NAME" is embedded in "MIDDLE" of each two-word themer:

Theme answers:
  • VIETNAM ERA (17A: 1961-75)
  • BARCELONA METRO (29A: Public transportation system in the capital of Catalonia)
  • ARIZONA MEMORIAL (35A: National Historic Landmark in Pearl Harbor)
  • CAPTAIN AMERICA (45A: Marvel Comics superhero wielding a nearly indestructible shield)
Word of the Day: "MR. MOM" (31D: 1983 Michael Keaton comedy) —
Mr. Mom is a 1983 American comedy film directed by Stan Dragoti and written by John Hughes about a stay-at-home dad. It stars Michael Keaton, Teri Garr, Jeffrey Tambor, Ann Jillian, Christopher Lloyd and Martin Mull. (wikipedia)
• • •

Surprised by how bad this was. The theme wasn't really the problem—that was just ordinary: a very, very familiar concept, executed 3/4 adequately (BARCELONA METRO is a ridiculous reach, esp. compared to the solidity / familiarity of the other themers). But the fill, lord have mercy. Wince after wince after wince. There is no reason, none, for this much wincey fill in a non-demanding 76-worder. Even some of the longer stuff was drifting into crosswordesey territory (EERIER, ANEMONE). What the hell is ONE REED!?!?! Reeds are sold in strengths ranging from "1" to "5," but you don't "need" a ONE REED, so ... that means the answer refers to ... the number of reeds used by a clarinet. Oy. Yes, a clarinet has a single reed, and an oboe has two, but ONE REED is not a thing, not an answer, not. TWO DISHES! SIX CATS! NUMBER NOUN! What on earth? Also, no one puts ONE REED in a puzzle 'cause they want to. Like EERIER and ANEMONE, that is high-common-letter-count, semi-desperation fill. But the real issue is the shorter stuff, which just swarms you like gnats. AERO plural AVAS (!) ABAA *and* the non non non non answer ABRA, DESC, ARAL and on and on and on. Brutal. OVO IDIO ... it's just fragment and pieces of words, detritus, everywhere. OEN!? I mean ... medic. Please. It's a bloodbath.

["The Third Man," directed by ONE REED! (not two)]

And that conspicuous, absurd Scrabble-f***king up top, wow. Talk about forcing a "Q" into someplace a "Q" does not want to be. Two foreign proper nouns for Absolutely No Reason other than to ... put a "Q" in the grid. Honestly, the fill is baffling, startlingly bad. I mean, yes, ZIP DRIVE, despite bygoneness, is nice (36D: Obsolescent data storage device), but this is empirically bad overall, this fill. Also "Italian restaurant" is a very, very generous phrase to use in a SBARRO clue (12D: Italian restaurant chain).

Back to baseball.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

P.S. apparently this puzzle was submitted in 2013. I don't even know where to begin with that, except to say that that kind of lag time is (and has always been) unprofessional.

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]

87 comments:

Cathelou 12:09 AM  

DNF because of that damn Q. WTF.

Mr. Fitch 12:12 AM  

This was a terrible puzzle, but I solved it in record time for a Tuesday. It all seemed to go in without much effort, probably because a lot the awful fragmentary stuff had to be clued straightforwardly. The ONEREED thing was egregious.

Floregonian 12:22 AM  

Naticked by the gulf/city/Q. Can't say I loved that on a Tuesday.

In my early working life we used Zip drives like crazy. Nowadays a fast connection and a Dropbox account does essentially the same work, but in 1999, Zip drives were amazing—and necessary for design/interactive work. I still have a drive and a bunch of Zip disks laying around somewhere. I should fire it up, just to hear that initial click when the drive engages.

August West 12:23 AM  

It's ... It's not good.

AskGina 12:33 AM  

Clog was a gloomy beginning. With the likes of desc, aero. reba, aral, tar, roti, slav, dre, ovo, and ink following, the whole solving experience made me remember what it felt like as a child to rip open a Christmas gift hoping for that really cool magnet set and finding a polyester outfit from Sears instead.

Martín Abresch 12:52 AM  

I was happy to see Mary Lou Guizzo was the constructor. I generally enjoy her puzzles. Then I started this one and ... yeesh. I'm with Rex today. The fill is painful. With regards to Guizzo, I'm just going to mark this one as an early attempt, pretend it never happened, and look forward to her next crossword.

What's more worrisome by far are the editorial decisions. I can forgive a fledgling constructor for submitting a mediocre grid, but editors are there to ensure a standard of quality. Why was this accepted in this condition? Why not ask the constructor to revise it? Why keep it on the shelf for three years? Weird and troubling.

I did enjoy a pair of clues: ANNUL (Change from "I do" to "I don't"?) and IODINE (What I may stand for?).

Anoa Bob 12:56 AM  

1961-1975 was the VIETNAM WAR. There are over 58,000 names on the D.C. VIETNAM WAR Memorial of Americans who lost their lives during that WAR. The U.S. dropped more than three times the bomb tonnage on Vietnam than was dropped during all of World War II. That, people, was not an ERA. That was a WAR. That was a fucking WAR.

jae 1:03 AM  

What @Rex said.

Larry Gilstrap 1:31 AM  

I agree with OFL that every other element of life these days pales in comparison to baseball. The ALCS is so tidy. The pitchers pound the zone and stuff happens. The NLCS is a complicated ritual of managerial decisions, and stuff happens. I had no idea where the theme was going until I pulled on my JEANS and noticed the revealer. What's so bad about a true aha moment? I admire the geographical themers, but shouldn't AMERICA come first, CAPTAIN?

My wife was a flight attendant for many years, and she reports that men who claim the title of CAPTAIN feel that it is qualification for mansplaining, to nobody in particular. Well, actually if the shoe fits...

Might as well piss off dog owners. I most often hear them making excuses rather than actually disciplining their charges. BAD GIRL is something any one would say in public to a dog?

I have studied poetry for decades, and know rhyme schemes for lots of verse conventions, but does a villanelle begin with "There was a young man from Nantucket..."?

Finally, I can't wait for the psychology majors to chime in with an excoriation of Freud. Id, EGO, superego are nonsense, we get it. But what is Schlomo? Great Saturday fill, I'm thinking.

Dr. Phil 1:36 AM  

Sigmund Freud was born in Schlomo somewhere out east of Germany.

Paul Rippey 1:37 AM  

In The NY Times crossword app, 50a WALDO (Ralph _____ Emerson) also lights up as a theme answer. Middle name, of course. That non-conforming themer provided a bit of interest in the mostly blah puzzle.

chefwen 2:37 AM  

Will not be going on my list of favorite puzzles.

I say BAD GIRL to avatar every time she presents me with a half chewed up dead chicken. Not a pleasant experience!

Loren Muse Smith 4:07 AM  

I join @Cathelou and @Floregonian in a dnf because of a wrong guess on AQABA/QOM. I've probably filled in AQABA before, but I never would've guessed that Q.

My dog, Molly, is a bit of a pistol, and just this weekend, my daughter admonished her with BAD GIRL when, having polished off her left-over pork roast, she went over and started a fight with Tucker to finish his, too. (Molly. Not my daughter. Who has become a pescatarian but not an in-your-face preachy one who makes you feel all guilty and stuff as you chew your slow-roasted tenderloin of mammal.)

Isn't it funny what a huge embarrassment a MIDDLE NAME can be? ( Richard Gere's middle name is Tiffany.) In sixth grade I overheard someone ask Bryan D what his middle name was, and I thought he answered, "Asbarth." I spent the next 20 years occasionally feeling bad for him. Asbarth. Who'd do that to a kid? Turns out I had misheard it. It's Ashworth. Whew.

I got a kick out of ABRA and BARBRA sharing a grid. Someone better than I am could come up with an ABAA poem with those words.

I also noticed two obsolete storage devices crossing: ZIP DRIVE/TAPE. Oh, and CAPTAIN AMERICA SWOOPing in to save the day. Or maybe he would LEAP…

Like @Paul Rippey, I appreciated WALDO clued as a MIDDLE NAME.

Best wink wink cross – DNA/JEANS.

Mary Lou – I recently said you lacked only a Tuesday to hit for the cycle. Congrats!

T. E. Lawrence 6:17 AM  

Aqaba !

Anonymous 6:18 AM  

52A: What birds of prey do. Stoop - Rapid decent from altitude, usually in pursuit of quarry.
New Tanzania neighbor "Rtanda".

DeeJay 6:46 AM  

I was struck by how dated the clues were. REBA McEntire, HIS Master's Voice, TAR (Cigarette stat), IMA Little Teapot,DOUG Henning, AVA Gardner, ABRA, MRMOM, DNA. As clued, this puzzle could have been solved in 1985, or would we have to change 36D to "Emerging storage device"?

doorslam 6:51 AM  

Ditto on the Q natick.

Andrew Goodridge 7:30 AM  

I agree with most of Rex's concerns, but ANEMONE is a perfectly good answer. As a saltwater tank hobbyist, I suppose I'm slightly biased, but I don't see how that's not a fair answer. I get that it's full of useful letters so it can easily be used as a crutch, and the word itself just looks awkward. But they're widely known, beautiful creatures so it passes my test.

But I suppose my personal biases don't overwhelm my opinion too much: I played clarinet in junior high and agree that ONEREED is pretty rough.

evil doug 7:35 AM  
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evil doug 7:42 AM  

Even if ale comes out of it, it's a beer tap....

Mansplain to your wife that men - - and women - - don't claim the title of Captain; they earn it....

NCA President 7:56 AM  

Nope. Just so much nope.

WALDO sticks right out there like a sore thumb. No elegance at all.

Agreed with Rex on ONEREED. It is the musical instrument equivalent of saying the sky is blue. A clarinet also needs someone to play it. It needs air to pass over the reed to make sound. It needs someone to sit in the audience to hear it. It needs a composer to write notes for it. Good god.

SBARRO is a pizza place. I am so used to eating pizza that I hardly associate pizza with Italy any more. In fact, "Italian" pizza has come to mean calzone or wood-fired...that is, very specific kinds of pizza. Just because a place makes pizza, doesn't mean it's Italian these days. It's not that there isn't a bit of accuracy in the clue, it's just lazy.

Had "leak" before CLOG and Neet before NAIR. Otherwise, the AQABA/QOM crossing was made easy because of xwordese.

This was one sloppy puzzle.

Jill Sullivan 8:03 AM  

Only good thing about this puzzle - remembering the resplendent Peter O'Toole as Lawrence. Thanks T.E.

evil doug 8:08 AM  

Where ACE crosses VIETNAM ERA, think Robin Olds. A triple ace--16 kills from WWII through Vietnam--he represented the highest standards of leadership and innovation in air combat. Highly recommend his autobiography, written with his daughter I believe.

Hartley70 8:11 AM  

I thought this puzzle had a lot going on (hooray!) and the Q quotient was pretty high for me. And yes, I had no trouble with AQABA. Now IODINE is another story. I had it from the crosses, but are we meant to "stand for it" because it stings so much we can't sit still? I was more likely to run from it as a kid. Mercurochrome was my drug of choice.

BADGIRL is certainly something I would say if I had a female dog. I live in a BADBOY world. Anything more complicated would sound like "bla bla bla bla" to my guys, but then I've never had a border collie. Perhaps I could reasonably give an EGO/ID explanation if I did.

There was lots of theme here to give me Tuesday level entertainment. I'll hunt for the NAME. I'm not proud. The long answers were not obvious and BARCELONAMETRO was fine with me. My son will be riding it on Thursday.

DUN is a great color. There was nothing as dopey as yesterday's Santa CLAUS to annoy me. "HIS master's voice" was delightfully old-timey and there was no dreck in the short fill. I didn't know ESME and am wondering if SBARRO has a life outside of Grand Central Station. I wrote a villanelle as a college assignment. You're probably lucky I can no longer recite it from memory. All in all I had a good time with this and Mary Lou is on the Honor Roll in my school.

chefbea 8:16 AM  

Noticed all the B's and A's and thought the theme would have something to do with that...but no!! Liked olive oil alternative but have never heard the word DUN as a color...

Alysia 8:22 AM  

"The Third Man" is one of my favorite movies ever.

I've nothing to say about the puzzle.

kitshef 8:32 AM  

While I was solving, I had the following thoughts:
- @Rex is going to go off on ONE REED and ALE TAP.
- @Rex is going to describe the theme as tired or dated
- @Rex is going to use the term "Scrabble f^&%ing".
- @Rex is going to challenge BARCELONA METRO as an answer.

Pretty easy overall if you know one of the Q words. Neet before NAIR mucked things up in the W briefly, but ARIZONA cleared that right up.

Alysia 8:35 AM  

I lied. I have things to say about the puzzle.

1) An olive oil alternative would be "canola OIL," not CANOLA. Otherwise, the clue should have been phrased something like "olive alternative, in cooking." Or something. It's just wrong as it stands.

2) I was thinking...if you're renovating a really big house, is it possible you might need three green paints? Indeed, I believe the answer is yes.

jberg 8:40 AM  

Very embarrasses that after all these years I still don't know what a villanelle is. Luckily, I never saw it- the crosses filled it in.

I did love the revealer. It took me a minute--since the themes all featured place names I was thinking "Where's Waldo?" 'Missing man' would've fit!

Anonymous 8:41 AM  

A qatick.

Nancy 8:45 AM  

There were answers I discovered I'd filled in without reading the clues, because the crosses were so easy. I imagine this was a lot harder to construct than to solve. I'm with Rex on ONE REED -- it's ridiculous. There were two fun clues: the one for IODINE and the one for JEANS. Why couldn't more have them been clever and imaginative? And I did like the answer BAD GIRL. But basically bland and easy.

John Child 8:53 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous 8:57 AM  

Rex REED, I agree. This puzzle is a major downer

John Child 9:01 AM  

Overheard at my favorite Italian restaurant: "I'll have spaghetti and meatballs." "We don't serve that sir." "OK, what sort of pizza do you have?" "We don't serve pizza sir." "Well what do you serve?" "Italian food sir."

Ms Guizzo says in her constructor notes that she would have worked hard to excise much of the fill that has come under criticism today. But three years ago plus/minus this was accepted, and I was told recently that Mr Shortz has never reneged on an acceptance. I suspect this one would have been sent back for regrooving if submitted today though. (Skip to the 17:00 mark in the clip.)

Easier than yesterday here, and a nice "aha" from the revealer. I liked it better that OFL.

Leapfinger 9:13 AM  

The advent of motorized vehicles initiated a widespread for rubber tires in the 1890s. With a shortage of natural rubber laboriously harvested from the Brazilian Amazon, German scientists at Bayer began experimenting with synthetic rubbers, and were soon followed by Russian scientists as WWI increased the need for tires for military vehicles. Dupont followed with neoprene in the 1930s; though these synthetics found several military applications, fortunately none functioned well as tire material. It was in 1935 that German chemists synthesized the first of a series known as BUNA rubbers. No matter how thin you slice it, it seems to me that BUNA METHYLISOPRENE (hi @GB!) is no more a Thing than BARCELONA METRO.

In case this seems an EERIE topic for me to be thinking about, when I was a kid, my cousin gave me The Weeping Wood by Vicki Baum, a history of rubber with all its greed and horrors. That's where I learned my first words of Portuguese, about running amok, and about Henry Ford's  SAmer abandoned rubber plantations. Apparently, some thing stick.

PS: An ANEMONE (windflower) grows in a flower bed; a sea anemone grows on the ocean bed.

Now to finish the puzzle and then to see how often my nits have been dupliKATEd.

Victoria

His Radiance 9:26 AM  

Lots of people enjoy doing crossword puzzles for enjoyment and diversion. Arbitrary rules of content and construction are just that - arbitrary! Some people like to solve from the bottom up or only the down first etc.
While Rex's screeds and rants are often amusing dictating that the reveal mustn't be too close to the top, or fill must be current is investing arbitrary 'rules' with the force of Holy Writ.
Perhaps Rex should be known as the Curmudgeon of the Crossword.

GILL I. 9:40 AM  

I am a simpleton. I enjoyed the dreadful Tuesday puzzle. It reminds me of my favorite hole-in-the-wall diner in downtown Sacramento. The menu has never changed - they've been around for 30 years - and yet I can count on a delicious hamburger.
Maybe today the hamburger was over-cooked, but the pickles and the tomatoes were pretty good. QOM/AQABA no problem. ONE REED - oy, we've had that discussion before. Maybe it was clued differently.
I am the only one in my family of 5 sibs that never got a middle name. So to make up for it, I use my maiden name and married name and it's so long that my insurance card only uses part of it...McMa...!
Dogs will instinctively lower their heads the minute you say BAD. You can add love or sugar or sweetie at the end but when they hear BAD the eyes droop.
ARIZONA MEMORIAL - beautifully sad.

ArtO 9:41 AM  

As I was finishing this puzzle, I said to my wife "Rex is going to crucify this." And rightly so.

mathgent 9:48 AM  

I agree with all the knocks above, but I enjoyed looking up "villanelle." Wikipedia has a nice explanation of the form and illustrates it with Dylan Thomas's "Do not go gentle into that good night." I enjoyed reading that musical poem again.

Some beauty on a bleak Tuesday morning pulls this work out of D territory. Put me down for a C minus.

Mohair Sam 9:57 AM  

Finished this one only because the main character in the book I'm reading refused passage via tramp steamer to AQABA just yesterday. Otherwise I too would have been NatiQed.

What @Rex said, although not quite as bothered by ONEREED - it's a thing. Speaking of which - REED's "The Third Man" is one of a hand full of movies I required my sons to watch with me as they grew up. The Fairgrounds scene is as good as acting and movie making gets. Kinda like the zither music too ("The Third Man Theme"). The movie was in production when they went out for a drink and heard the zither player - Anton Karas, a guy working for tips in a local wine cellar - and hired him to write and play the music.

Anonymous 9:57 AM  

I never think of Sbarro as Italian.

Tita A 9:57 AM  

Figured out the middle NAME thing after 2nd themer, then spent rest of puzzle what the clever revealer would be. When I got WALDO, like @jberg, thought it would be something about finding where he is.

I suppose Rex is right. Except for ANEMONE, as @Leapy and @Andrew point out, is a beautiful creature, either in the ocean or in my garden, and a fun word to boot. The clue made it more difficult to uncover, since I think more of octopi and squid when I think of tentacles.

Joseph Michael 10:08 AM  

Kind of liked the theme, but...

Yikes...

This was awful. Proper nouns account for nearly 40% of the entries. Awkward abbreviations and crosswordese abound. The only fun I squeezed out of this thing was discovering NAME in the middle of the themers. That pleasure lasted for about five.seconds.

Greater Fall River Committee for Peace & Justice 10:08 AM  

hartley70 -- Iodine's chemical symbol is I

Anonymous 10:20 AM  

I have never commented on a puzzle or Rex's write ups, but this puzzle is atrocious. Not difficult. I had a normal Tuesday time. But man oh man....partials, proper names, made up fill. I could go on, but neither should the NYT if this is what they are resorting to. So sad.

QuasiMojo 10:35 AM  

Tell us exactly how you feel, Rex! Don't hold back! "Down Boy!" I "zip"ped through this "drive"l. I liked "Aqaba" but then I once submitted a puzzle using it. Adding "Qum" was a tad unfair. I was hoping for a "Where's Waldo" theme. But I guess I'll settle for a ho-hum "middle name" theme that made me yearn to crawl back in bed. What choice do I have? Oh yeah, the WSJ and the LA Times, a Jumble, or a Word Search, and perhaps a Ken-Ken.

Z 10:45 AM  

@Anoa Bob - Tell us how you really feel. I had "war" first, off of VIET, but fixed it. No problem here with ERA. The war happened over there, but the impact on American society happened over here.

@Alysia - CANOLA oil is CANOLA. The plant it comes from is rapeseed. A little research shows that the breed of rapeseed is now called CANOLA, but CANOLA was formed by combining Canada and the Latin for Oil. One could argue, if one were a prescriptivist, that calling a breed of rapeseed CANOLA is wrong since it isn't an oil, it's a plant that creates oil. But I'm not a prescriptivist so I won't.

@Larry Gilstrap - We have a puppy with a fair amount of smarts to go with his energy. My spouse paid for six dog training sessions at the pet store. After week one she said, "you can just tell which owners aren't going to work with their pets." Weeks 2-5 she reported that "those" owners never came back. Paid for six, came to one. SMH. We've found the sessions very useful. Nothing earth shattering, but people who do dog training for a living actually know techniques and tricks. Zeke is happier and so are we. As for "those" owners, I feel sorry for their pets.

@Evil Dog - "Earned" - One wonders when news appears about some of the antics of pilots. Of course, one should never judge a group by its worst members.

Roo Monster 11:04 AM  

Hey All !
Dreck = high.
Themers = not ick. But not the best.
Puz = easy
Natick = that damn Q.

Thought I was seeing double (or quadruple) at all the A's and B's in N center. Liked the BADGIRL INKed up in JEANS, NICE! :-P

DRAGSTERs aren't in Fast and Furious. DRAGSTERs are those race cars with the extremely long fronts with the itty bitty tires. SBARRO is a fast food pizza joint. At least LEAPy made the puz!

SWOOP
RooMonster
DarrinV

Mohair Sam 11:04 AM  

@Anoa Bob (12:56AM)- I was feeling the same, didn't know how to express. Thanks.

Roo Monster 11:06 AM  

@evil DOUG ALSO!

(Meant to say... SWOOP, there it is!)

RooMonster

Charles Flaster 11:25 AM  

Have to agree with Rex although I usually like this constructor's offerings.
Loved the QOM crossing AQABA ; now add
Qatar and we have a trifecta added to CROSSWORDease,
ESME also can be included for the above.
ONE REED could have been clued "A Donna ".
ANNUL had the most creative clue.
Thanks MLG

jae 11:45 AM  

Just wanted to add this was easy-medium for me too. And, Mary Lou co-authored the Mon. LAT, which (IMHO) is more that a tad better than this one and also was Tues. tough for me. Plus, there is something about it that may appeal to @Z.

Masked and Anonymous 11:52 AM  

A wellspring of desperation gusher. But is it perhaps too much of a good thing?

Desper-bullets, for themers:

* VIETNAMERA - No problemo. Term used to classify war veterans.
* BARCELONAMETRO - A bit exotic, but yes, it is a something. So … this and previously listed themer are a-ok. Altho, the BM one is my least fave, I'd grant.

Mary Lou Constructioneer started publishin her NYTPuzs in 2014. This puz was submitted in 2013. Sorta like havin yer e-mails come back to haunt U years later, huh?

Desper-bullets, for non-themers:

* OEN. Hands-down fave weeject. Better clue: {"This is yoer moend ___ drugs" ??}
* ABAA. ABRA. AERO. ARAL. AVAS. Or, as we like to call it, The A-Team. First of all, ARAL Sea gets a pass. It's dried up everywhere except in crosswords, but it is still perfectly legit. AERO is in my dictionary as "short for aerodynamic", so also ok. ABRA is suspect, as @RP muses, becuz the magic word is "abracadabra", all run together. ABAA and AVAS are just plain pleasingly desperate.
* DESC. By no means a desper-debut, but does not have Patrick Berry Usage Immunity.
* EMAJ. The bright side: not as desperate as INEMAJ would be. Smallness trumps desperateness.
* ALETAP. Bright side: not as desperate as ONETAP.
* EERIER. Probably should get a pass. But it seems eery, tryin to compare the eeriness of various eerie things, somehow. Kinda like comparin ABAA and ABRA.
* ONEREED. One desperate mother. Grand prize winner.

Had no problemo with the solvequest, tho. RWANDA/DRAGSTER/ZIPDRIVE/GOTHIC/SBARRO/IODINE were fun stuff. AQABA was a near-gimme, dueto "Lawrence of Arabia" flick usage immunity. Also, revealer + theme idea were topnotch.
Mucho thanx, Ms. Guizzo of 2013.

Masked & Anonymo3Us

**gruntz**

old timer 11:52 AM  

Most tidepools in N California have ANEMONEs. They have lovely tentacles to sweep in their prey, Sometimes i pull a mussel from a nearby rock just to watch the creature eat it.

I agree with OFL today except for ANEMONE and QOM/AQABA. Both places have been in the news often enough in the last 40 years. I enjoyed writing in that Q.

I would have called BARCELONA METRO green paint. The other themers were intrinsically interesting, and I needed the revealer to get VIETNAMERA, which obviously rhymes with Pete Seeger's (and Jose Marti's) Guantanamera.

Carola 12:16 PM  

The theme kept me intrigued enough that I barely registered the OEN-crowd. As a "Lawrence of Arabia" fan, I knew AQABA right off, but I did think the cross with QOM was un-Tuesday-ish.

Re: BAD GIRL: give yourselves a two-minute treat and check out this clip of Dick Powell and Ruby Keeler singing the beginning of "Pettin' in the Park" from "Gold Diggers of 1933."

@Anoa Bob, you gave voice to my pausing over VIETNAM...ERA?
@Mohair Sam, thanks for the lore about the zither.

foxaroni 12:29 PM  

@M&A--Laughed out loud at "This is your moend oen drugs." Funny post, as usual.

I don't know music notation all that well. A key with four sharps could have been a letter A-G, plus MAJ, SRP (sharp) or FLT (flat) for all I know. And those Italian music instructions--vivace, lento, sherzo, liberace--kill me every time.

Took me longer than usual, due to EMAJ, but finished. I agree with nearly all the critiques, but still enjoyed it. Thanks, MLG.

mathgent 12:31 PM  

@jae (11:45): You mention doing the LAT puzzle. I do the WSJ every day and find it consistently superior to this one. If it weren't for this blog, I might do the LAT instead of the NYT. Before I began doing the WSJ, I would do the LAT every morning. I thought that it was just about the same in quality as the NYT. I don't want to do three crosswords every day. How do you compare LAT and NYT puzzles?

Masked and Anonymous 12:34 PM  

p.s.
M&A Nostalgia Dept.

"Pardon me Basque, is that the Barcelona Metro?
Track twenty nine, dude you can gimme a shine
I can afford to board a Barcelona choo choo
I've got my fare and just a trifle to spare … "

M&Also

Numinous 12:44 PM  

I liked seeing QOM. First time I saw it in a puzzle it really ticked me off. Why? M&A could tell you. Because it has no U. AQABA suffers from the same affliction, as do Qatar and Qantas.

Along with everything else a clarinet needs is ONE REED. Most players have a bunch in their cases but in any given performance, they only need ONE.

I have never eaten anything from SBARRO. Looking at the menu, the only thing Italian there is the pizza and even then, it's more American than Italian. Baked Ziti is described as "Italian American comfort food". Comfort? Only gives me indigestion. Stromboli? Another American invention. Caesar salad comes from Baja California. Spaghetti and meatballs? Another American invention. Might as well call Subway an Italian restaurant, they have a meatball sandwich.

This puzzle dated back to the earliest days of Mary Lou's constructing. Will is either clearing out his backlog or doesn't have a better Tuesday on offer. For me, it reminds me of my earliest solving days even though this played easier than this would have way back then. Am I critical of this? Naw, y'all have done a much better and more thorough job than I could have. I finished this a couple minutes under my average. I was surprised it took that long. Maybe my averages are finally coming to reflect current reality.

Numinous 12:52 PM  

Oh yeah, most of the guitar music I've written has four sharps. EMAJ was a gimme. I play in other keys too but I've also transposed a lot of stuff to E as well. Of course transposing on the guitar is as simple as sliding up or down the neck a few frets.

Numinous 1:00 PM  

Where is my mind today? BAD GIRL? You're lookin' at her over on the right. At six months old, she can get into a lot of trouble around the house. In her defense, she's really smart and learns stuff quickly. I have to laugh at her as she jumps for the knob on the back door to get back in the house. I'm sure she'll be disappointed when she discovers that merely touching the knob won't open the door. She has an amazing nose too. She's already dug up an old bone that was buried five or six inches deep in the garden.

Tom 1:02 PM  

Meh...

Anonymous 1:15 PM  

@ED 7:42 - Man, you "choose to be offended" by the most innocuous things.

Teedmn 1:21 PM  

I'm glad I knew QOM was a Iranian holy city or, holy batman, I probably would have DNF'd. Easy Tuesday, otherwise. Congrats to Mary Lou on finally reaching the septfecta of puzzling.

I think the woen has goen to M&A's hoed (or perhaps it is the paucity of U's.) Made me laugh, anyway.
For me, the theme worked and the revealer duo of 50A and 57A were nice. BAR BRA seems like an entry to a different theme, if I could figure out what it should be.

My brother still has his resume on a ZIP DRIVE so he can come to my place of work and revise it - he hasn't figured out how to do any editing on his laptop. So not completely obsolescent yet.

Alysia 2:01 PM  

Holy wow. I never, ever knew that (obviously). Two years of Latin didn't get me through to oleum, I suppose.

I stand humbly corrected.

Karlo Kitanovski 2:05 PM  

I have many Qualms about this Quite Questionable fill. It's time to Quaff a colossal bowl of yaQona to Quiet my senses.

Crane Poole 2:14 PM  

"ClarinetIST'S need" perhaps better. AQABA/QOM. Surely you jest. I haven't done nearly as many puzzles as you folks. Hated it.

Leapfinger 2:19 PM  

Well hello, Mary Lou, good-bye QOM!!

@M&A, got a laugh out of your Barcelona CIEU CIEU, tieu. Saw yieu tippytoe past that boy, swoop!

@Teedmn, I think you have it: BAR BRA, burn same.

Off to support my local dentist. TARTAR for now.

Hartley70 2:41 PM  

Thank you @Greater Fall River. I couldn't see that for the life of me.

RAD2626 4:21 PM  

Although I wrote in WAR first as well, the US never officially declared war in Vietnam. The military still officially refers to it as a conflict, although I have to say it seemed a lot like a war to me during my year there.

Theme was okay although I thought it was going to be "missing man" as well since I noticed the word man backward in each themer. Did not notice NAME going forward. Duh.

Too many DNFs and naticks on the AQABA/QOM crossing to be good for a Tuesday.

AliasZ 4:40 PM  


As usual, this puzzle was not quite as dire as one would gather from reading Rex's write-up. At least for me it wasn't.

But BARCELONA METRO? Really? Why not the VIENNA METRO, DINA MERRILL, TUNA MELT, UNA MERKEL, VENA METACARPUS, MELINA MERCOURI, etc.?

-- ONE REED gets one finger. A better clue would have been: "Marsh unit."
-- When does ANEMONE become an enemy? When you don't know how to pronounce it.

Listen to the SonatiNA MEridional by Manuel María Ponce Cuéllar (1882-1948), better known by his second MIDDLE NAME, Ponce.

jae 5:11 PM  

@mathgent - there is considerable overlap among NYT and LAT constructors. In general I'd say the LAT puzzles tend to be slightly easier except for the Sat. puzzle which is comparable to the NYT Sat. As for quality (which is somewhat subjective) I'd say they are equal, i.e., sometimes pretty good others times not. I do the LAT because I've arranged to have the paper show up at my door every morning.

Berselius 5:42 PM  

If only they clued SBARRO with "Michael Scott's Favorite New York Slice!"

beatrice 6:36 PM  

Lively discussionoid today

@M&A - I second Leapy - loved your BARCELONA_METRO! And for those who hate the entry, I was skeptical, too, but just a bit of googling revealed that this is indeed what it is called in English, as in Spanish (I presume) it is 'unofficially' called 'Metro de Barcelona'. Has its own wikipage and everything. Am I missing something?

@ Numy - what a remarkable looking creature you have!... some variety of devil-dog, perhaps? She sounds like a real handful, but I agree, smart counts for a lot.

I, too, resisted ONE_REED - after all, a clarinet is referred to as a 'single-REED instrument', not a...well, anyway, another instrument that needs but ONE is the chalumeau. Telemann is one of the composers who wrote for it.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=voePKo1wJvo


Da Bears 7:46 PM  

Rex’s insertion of the trailer from The Third Man might be the highlight of today’s Blog. I guess Rex likes it, even though it is older than he. It is a timeless classic despite being set in a post-WWII Vienna which remained partitioned into four zones until the Soviets left in the early 50s. It is noted for its zither music throughout the entire film. Nothing but the zither. Haunting. The best scene, which sums up the insanity of the times, can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nyuJQ_UO7OE

Anonymous 8:48 PM  

To add to the chorus of complaints, and I've said this earlier: isn't it a puzzle no-no to have the solution etymologically related to the clue? I'm thinking of 56A, roasted and roti.

Nancy 8:54 PM  

I find that I have grown enormously fond of all the avatar dogs on this blog.

Anonymous 11:30 PM  

Another WIN for VIN!!!!

joannamauselina 1:19 PM  

Ditto. I was so pleased to watch the trailer and reminisce.

Gregory Schmidt 2:16 PM  

Yuck, yuck, and yuck. How in the world is AQABA crossing QOM allowed? And on a Tuesday? Fail.

Burma Shave's WORST 10:19 AM  

EERIER IDIO-OVO-EGO

The MIDDLENAME is trouble. A BADGIRL? ESME plays a NICE one.
In JEANS and ALSO ABRA, ESME works the ALETAP for FUN.
EVAN (CAPTAINAMERICA) CALLS and thanks her,
you see, ESME (MR.MOM) is a DRAGSTER,
so removing HIS BARBRA wasn’t the WORST thing he/she’s DUN.

--- REBA “WALDO” RWANDA LANKA
this stream of unconsciousness composed in the SBARRO
near the BARCELONA METRO, with love and ALSO squalor

oh QOM on, it’s not the 19 lines of a villanelle
if I was a sheep, I’d give you ABAA

rondo 12:16 PM  

Bradstreet called and wants their DUN back. And a VOCAB AQABA and AVAS ABRA ABAA to you. With a ROTI AERO SBARRO and an ARCO IDIO OVO, too. Sing along everyone, in EMAJ. ♯♬♯♫♯♪♯
I’ll leave yeah baby REBA and her red dress outta this. Baby IMA want you ♫♭♪♫♮♩ . . .

I came of AGE in the VIETNAMERA. My dad came of AGE in the WWII ERA. Both of us during wars. ERA seems fine to me to describe the time frame.

ONEREED is probably less preferable than single REED. How about “just Walter” or “just Willis”? Or in my case, just Cheryl, BADGIRL.

No w/os, but as I neared the finish line I knew there would be harsh words for this puz. I won’t pile on any more, it wouldn’t be NICE.

spacecraft 12:21 PM  

I was upset enough that this horror should appear on a Tuesday when it belongs squarely on the weekend--well, no: it truly belongs in the incinerator, but if it MUST reach print, there's NO WAY it should appear today. But to see a rating of "easy-medium" is nothing short of infuriating! There is simply NO BLANKING WAY that ANYONE can call this easy-medium. C'mon, man, the capital of California? So, there's a province in Spain by that name, and TUESDAY solvers are supposed to KNOW that???? Give. Me. A. Break. The "VIETNAMERA?" First time EVER I saw that monicker. Is that really a thing?

I could go on, for at least half of the entries--both theme and fill. The only difference would be how many question marks I'd put at the end. And the clues! "Guess things" without even a "?" ? It's a great clue--but NOT ON A TUESDAY!

I do agree with OFL on one point: if McDonald's is a"restaurant," then I guess SBARRO is a "restaurant." Liberal indeed.

23-down is clued as a partial chant--typical in this grid--but could have been the Trask boys' love interest in "East of Eden," so fetchingly played by Julie Harris in the film. Therefore, since my beloved TROI has already worn the DOD sash, let us bestow it upon the winsome ABRA.

The puzzle itself gets a bogey; it would have been less jarring if appearing much later in the week. Mr. Shortz receives a double-bogey: one stroke for printing it at all and another for doing it now.

leftcoastTAM 1:52 PM  

Some crunchy stuff here, but didn't spit it out like Rex did.

MIDDLE NAMEs of theme weren't exactly in the middle of theme answers, but close enough.

BADGIRL (in plural, wasn't that a movie?) held things up a bit in the NE. Wanted "be still" first, though dog might not understand. AOL was bit of a surprise in the SE. Didn't know they were big on IM scene.

So, I liked this one well enough.

Diana,LIW 3:50 PM  

BAD Q. BAD GIRL! I join the Natique Clique.

OK - no one has posted the obvious question, so I guess I'll have to be the one. Where the BLEEP is Brian Eno's middle name? You know. Peter George St John le Baptiste de la Salle Withoutt it, this puzzle makes no sense. IMO

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

rain forest 4:36 PM  

Because I learned that a clarinet differs from the oboe and the bassoon in that it uses ONE REED, I was proud of that answer. Also, oddly, I knew QOM, and as a result, AQABA, which I should have known, wasn't a problem.

Other than that, I don't share the hate that many have expressed for this puzzle. I don't think I have the DNA to "hate" a puzzle. Wasted emotion, in my opinion. I found this diverting, and a little more resistant than the usual Tuesday, and that's really all I need.

If the theme is old, it nonetheless worked, and I liked the bonus WALDO because it answered the old question about where he is. In the MIDDLE.

leftcoastTAM 7:05 PM  

@rain forest-- I like your attitude about the "love-hate" issue.

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