Central Italian river / THU 5-25-17 / Pet with dewlap beret / Wait in strategic location in video game lingo

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Constructor: Erik Agard

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging

THEME: I'LL GO FIRST (54A: Trailblazer's declaration ... or a hint to 17-, 19-, 34- and 51-Across) — Familiar phrases where the last words have been changed simply by moving the letter "I" to the "First" position, resulting in a new words and wacky phrases and wacky "?" clues, huzzah!

Theme answers:
  • PURPLE IRAN (17A: Possible result of spilling grape juice on a map of the Middle East?)
  • FRENCH IGUANA (19A: Pet with a dewlap and a beret?)
  • ROLL OF ICONS (34A: Pantheon list?)
  • COVER IVERSON (51A: Guard the 2001 N.B.A. M.V.P.?) 
Word of the Day: FAN ART (11D: Some derivative drawings) —
Fan art, or fanart, are artworks created by fans of a work of fiction (generally visual media such as comics, film, television shows, or video games) and derived from a series character or other aspect of that work. As fan labor, fan art refers to artworks that are neither created nor (normally) commissioned or endorsed by the creators of the work from which the fan art derives. // A different, older meaning of the term is used in science fiction fandom, where fan art traditionally describes original (rather than derivative) artwork related to science fiction or fantasy, created by fan artists, and appearing in low- or non-paying publications such as semiprozines or fanzines, and in the art shows of science fiction conventions. The Hugo Award for Best Fan Artist has been given each year since 1967 for artists who create such works. Like the term fan fiction (although to a lesser extent), this traditional meaning is now sometimes confused with the more recent usage described above. (wikipedia)
• • •

Very tough, mainly because of the themers, which refused to give themselves up without a ton of crosses. The wacky clues were often very little help at getting to anything specific, and without the revealer, it's very hard to see any link among the anagrammed words, or any consistency at all in the themers. After finally locking down the first two, I was certain the theme was geographical—what are the odds of having both Iran and French Guiana involved in anagrams in the first two themers, and then having that theme *not* be about geography? Well, those odds are probably incalculable, and anyway, if I'd been paying closer attention, I'd realize that those countries were "involved" in different ways—i.e. one was the anagram itself, the other was anagrammed into something else. Because I was looking for countries, later themers were especially rough. ROLL OF --- had me unable to think of *any word* that could go there, even in the base phrase. ROLL OF ... the dice. That was all my brain kept doing. Plus I wanted whatever that last word was to be an anagram of a country (!).  Plus I don't think of gods of the Pantheon as "ICONS" (had IDOLS for a bit). This is what I mean about the clues being almost no help at getting to the actual answers. The worst case of this was, unfortunately, the revealer clue. A "Trailblazer" just goes, unannounced, and does Big, Important things heretofore unaccomplished. "I'LL GO FIRST" is not something a trailblazer would say. It's what someone in couples therapy would say. It's a banal statement for a quotidian situation and has zip to do with "trailblazing." That said, cluing aside, this theme is kind of amazing (even if it did take me almost two minutes of confused staring before I understood it)—simply move the "I" to the front, get a new word. Nice twist on the anagram-type theme.

The fill is pretty polished. Hard to pull off when you stack *theme* answers right on top of each other like that (I think of this as "Merling," since Merl Reagle stacked themers All The Time in his Sunday puzzles). Look at all the Downs running through those stacks of themers. There's really nothing bad. Nothing even mildly wince-y. This is what I admire, and see so little of—craft and polish. Dedication to the details, and especially to making sure you are sacrificing the rest of the puzzle on the altar of The Theme. It's not that there's No crosswordese in this thing—you can see repeaters hither and YON: PSA, ALI, OLE, ELI, MDI, ELLA). But now that I type even those answers out, the only one I'd try to ditch if I could is MDI. Maybe ENDO-, if possible. In short, there's not much to fault in the the fill. Considering the theme density, that's really quite impressive.

Tough parts:
  • 4D: Many a Trump property (GOLF RESORT) — seems straightfoward enough, but having GOL- coming out of the gate, I wrote in GOLD-PLATED. Later, I had GOLF COURSE (w/ REBOUND in the cross—21A: Public relations pivot (REBRAND))
  • 13A: Goes high (SOARS) — having tried ALDER for 5D: Wood that doesn't burn easily (ASPEN), I went with LEAPS here, and ouch. ALDER and NARC and SLID all confirmed ("confirmed") LEAPS ... until later crosses unconfirmed it.
  • 55A: Wait in a strategic location, in video game lingo (CAMP) — ah, video game lingo, the one knowledge sphere there's actually no hope I'll ever master, or get any purchase on whatsoever. I had CAMO. It's a good guess, I think.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Hungry Mother 7:17 AM  

ELI csused me to pause.

kitshef 7:22 AM  

Very fun puzzle, meriting two fun facts.

Fun fact: Mahershala ALI's birth name was Mahershalalhashbaz Gilmore.

Fun fact II: French Guiana is not an overseas territory (like Guam to the US), but a region of France (like Alaska to the US). As such, it is in the European Union despite being in South America, uses the EURO for its currency, and its existence means that France has an international border with Brazil and Suriname.

Like @Rex, had GOLF course before RESORT, AldEr before ASPEN and leApS before SOARS.

Anonymous 7:23 AM  

The Trump clue triggered my TDS, but because I is my favorite word, this puzzle was ok. - Michael Sharp.

QuasiMojo 7:32 AM  

Way too easy for Thursday. I was done in 15 minutes. I wanted more to chew on. The themers had little wit or charm in my book. And were oddly clued. IRAN is not the first country one thinks of as being in the "Middle East," in fact there's some debate about whether it is or it isn't. The constructor could have chosen a less clumsy way of phrasing the clue. But to what purpose? So that we can all laugh at PURPLE IRAN? Pretty ridiculous. ROLL OF ICONS is no better. Who ever says "ROLL OF COINS"? It's a roll of quarters or nickels or pennies. COIN ROLL is more common. I googled ROLL OF COINS and came up with zilch, except reference to crossword puzzles. I enjoyed this puzzle about as much as I do contemplating FAN ART.

Forsythia 7:37 AM  

Enjoyed this immensely! IdOlS before ICONS but getting the theme helped correct that.

I was okay with the "I'LL GO FIRST" for trailblazers since I took it as hikers figuring a path. We are preparing for my husband to hike the last 60 miles of the Appalachian Trail in Maine this summer so trails are on my mind. He started in college and has section hiked (mostly since retiring 10 years ago) and only has the last bit to go!

Didn't know the keys for EURO and found that interesting. Other DKs but the crosses and guesses were kind to me. RuSHed before RASHLY which made me wonder if odE was "toast option!"

Had fun...despite doing this at 4:30 a.m. after coughing all night from a bad cold, and then couldn't post until now.

Glimmerglass 7:39 AM  

Great (very hard for a Wednesday) puzzle, and a review that mimicked my experience. I also came to ROLL OF IdOlS, But I was sure of LINE DANCERS (lile dancers?). Part of my trouble was I didn't know the Nashville label. I was also misled for a time wth geography anagrams. I had REBouND instead of REBRAND, which hid RESORT for a long time. Great fun -- great review.

Two Ponies 7:41 AM  

Having a puzzle of unknowns or new words can be fun if it teaches me something worth remembering.
This puzzle had too many proper names, computer lingo, and black pop culture to be enjoyable for me.

Passing Shot 7:41 AM  

Really enjoyed this one. Like Rex, had GOLFcourse before RESORT and REBouND, which didn't really make sense, before REBRAND. Otherwise, more a Wednesday than Thursday level.

AW 7:42 AM  

What does Alabama (29D) have to do with a LINE DANCER? Why "down to" Alabama? I thought they did line dancing in Texas.

Jeremy Mercer 7:43 AM  

@Rex - Any idea what the deleted theme answer was ? Erik refers to it simply by the clue in his write-up — The blood of Jesus, say? (6,5) — and I can't crack it. Thanks.

Z 7:43 AM  

Confidently body-slamming GOLF course into the grid, confirmed by the thespian's quest being a role, made a write-over mess in the west. ImEan before ID EST made a smaller mess in the east. I figured out the I movement before I figured out the revealer, so that was good. I have no issue with the revealer because literal trail blazers go first to, you know, blaze a trail. Funny when the metaphorical usage is more prominent in one's thinking than the literal origin of a term.

I don't much like pure anagramming, just not my cuppa, but I thought this was neat. COVER VERSION to COVER IVERSON is my fav because the new phrase is a phrase we would have seen in sports pages. The other three are okay enough, just missing that extra "it's a real thing too" layer. My first impression is that Agard's "Glutton for Pun" puzzles are more creative, but he plays with grid design and shape so much there that this may be an unfair comparison.

@kitshef - Great trivia on French Guiana. Thanks.

Z 7:53 AM  

@AW - Alabama would be the musicians, "get down" is slang for dancing, so a LINE DANCER would get down to Alabama.

Passing Shot 7:54 AM  

@Two Ponies -- "black pop culture"??? Maybe OMAR EPPS is lesser known, but PURPLE Rain? Allen IVERSON? Almay's parent REVLON is certainly guess-able from crosses. And ELLA Fitzgerald is an international ICON. Please. It was a nice change of pace from the increasingly typical Star Wars/video gaming/sports "white teenage-age boy" cluing.

Irene 7:56 AM  

Finished it but it was a DRAG. No fun at all.
I had VAMP for CAMP. A guess, but when you vamp in music you kill time.
RCA and MCA in the same puzzle? (Now I'm sounding like Rex.)

Tom4 7:57 AM  

For the rare folks like me who got COVERIVERSION thanks to basketball knowledge, once PURPLEIRAN fell the theme was done and dusted. Faster than yesterday despite like @Rex going with GOLF COURSE and REBOUND.

Agreed with @QuasiMojo about the ridiculousness of Roll of Icons - as well as Iran's debatable place in Middle-East (a silly euro-centric moniker anyway)

Fun puzzle with red wine that didn't get spilled.

Ted 7:59 AM  

Finished, but with stumbling blocks.

GOLF COURSE to start, but BURR made that an unlikely answer, and for Pantheon I had ROLL ____ GODS, which seemed a pretty safe bet.

59A, promote shamelessly, I had PLUG.

chefbea 8:02 AM  

Got the first two themers...but what does Iverson anagram to be???

Of course knew what was in cobb salad

broken.pheonix 8:14 AM  

Enjoyed this one immensely. The only one of the themers I had issue with was cover Iverson (cover version!). Not ever having been into basketball (and being Australian) made it doubly hard so I got the revealer first. Still had no idea.

Otherwise it was a great challenge for a Wednesday and only 2minutes over my average.

Joseph Welling 8:14 AM  


Z 8:15 AM  

PPP Analysis
Pop culture, Product names, and other Proper Nouns as a percentage of the puzzle. Anything over 33% always causes some subset of solvers issues. Some days it is you, some days it is someone else.

25 of 74, so just over the threshold. Below is my list, including annotations that should be clear enough to people so I won't elaborate or add my own opinion as to the proper amount.

*ADO (Shakespeare clue)
CLUES (Jeopardy clue)
AIR SHOWS (Blue Angels clue)
*MDI (Michelangelo clue)
Sings *Gershwin

DEF Comedy Jam
*GOLF COURSE (Pepe clue)
Lucy LIU
*RCA (Usher, Pitbull and Pink clue)
ELI (Denzel clue)
*BURR (Hamilton clue)
*LINE DANCER (*Alabama clue)
*MCA Nashville
*ERIN Brockovich
Mahershala ALI

Z 8:19 AM  

Oops, I missed PURPLE IRAN, so 26/74, 35%.

kitshef 8:25 AM  

@Jeremy Mercer - how about CHURCH ICHOR (choir)?

Sir Hillary 8:33 AM  

Loved this. Perfect difficulty for a Thursday. Like @Rex, I took a while to figure out the theme, so I ended up solving the perimeter of the puzzle clockwise from the NW. When I got around to COVERIVERSON and the revealer, it finally clicked for me.

Erik Agard is a superb constructor, another of the young guns who are doing so much great work these days. Check out his website "Glutton for Pun". The first five letters of the top row anagram to his last name. Hmmm...

Amusing to see a clue about "facts" right above a clue about Trump.

Yet another annoying cold "spring" day here in the Northeast. BURRrrrrrr!

Nancy 9:00 AM  

The only thing I liked about this was that I found it pretty hard. Other than that, it's really not my kind of puzzle. All that PPP -- not only proper names, but Microsoft Word symbols and video game lingo and slang. I assume that "getting down to Alabama" is a slang term in LINE DANCER lingo? Otherwise I don't understand the clue. I had GOLF course before GOLF RESORT at 4D, leading me to ROLE instead of PART at 41A. Not nearly as funny as Rex's GOLD PLATED, though.

And I had a 1-letter DNF at the FAN ART/PURPLE IRAN cross. Somewhere in the back of my always foggy memory, I remembered that FAQ is a thing -- though exactly what kind of thing
it is I have no idea. But anyway, I had PURPLE IRAq crossing FAq ART. That didn't take into account the anagram of PURPLE RAIN, but I hadn't figured out the theme at that point. I think it's a very ho-hum theme and absolutely no substitute for the missing rebus.

@Forsythia (7:37) -- I, too, have a bad cold. I'll pass along the word that @mathgent gave me off-blog yesterday. Liquids. I told him that I was drinking liquids -- vodka at the end of Day One and cabernet at the end of Day Two, which was yesterday. Although the above liquids did make me FEEL better, they didn't make me better. I'll behave more sensibly today, I promise. I have lots of tea and chicken soup lined up for today's regimen. Will they help? Probably not.

White Teenage Boy 9:01 AM  

Hey @PassingShot, bite me.

Anonymous 9:02 AM  

@kitself - Bravo! Amused by the use of "say?" to denote the heretical. And how could I not know that about French Guiana?

SouthsideJohnny 9:15 AM  

It would be nice to see the NYT go one day without an absolutely aweful, nonsensical clue. The Golden Contortionist award for today goes to the Alabama/LINEDANCER jibberish. Yuck.

Anonymous 9:20 AM  

So dern many cullerd people and cullerd things and cullerd culture!

Not that there's enny thing wrong with that, mind you . . . My yard guy's a Mexican and you never met a nicer fella.

puzzlehoarder 9:24 AM  

This was a good Thursday. The theme was entertaining and didn't insult your intelligence. The fill had enough resistance so that I actually used the theme to help finish the puzzle. Recognizing the name IVERSON made the lightbulb go off and that helped me to fill in ICONS. Those first two themers went in without my noticing the significance of the Is or even the possibility that geography might be a consistent element. That was early on and I was still focusing on the fill which was quite good. The REBRAND and FANART debuts helped bring challenge to their respective sections. The clue for ASPEN brought some obscurity to a common entry. It's also a pleasant switch to read a review where our host has respect for the constructors skill which in this case is well deserved.

Mr. B 9:24 AM  

I thought we were dealing with anagrams when I got PURPLEIRAN ... but now that I finished the puzzle - this "I" movement theme is a pretty neat trick... I liked it.

Top half went down quickly... but had more resistance in the lower half. I usually don't mind the short stuff - but to covert years into Roman numerals not my thing...MDI I CLD LIV without.

Still a fun puzzle...thanks Mr. Agard

Mohair Sam 9:33 AM  

Thought we were gonna ace this puppy - ran through DEF, RUE, ARE, GOLF, FRENCHpoodle - hit the wall, was thinking dewclaws. Yikes. In SW we read Harlem venue as Avenue and lost tons there. So the puzz played challenging as all Hell for us. Maybe we should read the the clues a little more carefully.

That said, this was fun. We had @Rex's experience to the letter - thought it was a country thing at first, then we wanted to roll dice. But unlike OFL we were fine with the reveal. Speaking of country - We've had friends who could "get down", and friends who liked to LINEDANCE - but they didn't know each other. Long time 76er fan here who never liked Iverson's game - every play ended when the ball touched his hand.

Very clever Thursday Erik Agard, thanks for the workout.

Hartley70 9:36 AM  

I didn't find this medium or challenging for a Thursday. Of course I entered RESORT right away because I'm not sporty enough to think of "course" first. I go right for the pool and the chaise lounge. An umbrella drink would be much appreciated.

It's that mind set that led to my one stumbling block, IVERSON. Never heard the name before and Magic Johnson, Charles Barkley, Michael Jordan or Lebron James didn't fit. That's all I have in my NBA repertoire.

The themers meant nothing to me until I saw the revealer. I get the idea but it wasn't exactly a thrill. I think of it as doing the job. My first thought was that the constructor had misspelled GUIANA and that's embarrassing in a way that sports ignorance is not. I have to thank @kitchef at 7:22 this morning for his informative post.

Lewis 9:49 AM  

My biggest takeaway from this delightful solve was that the cross of EGG and I'LL_GO_FIRST finally put an age-old question to rest.

mathgent 9:52 AM  

I liked Rex's comment. "I'll go first" is something you're more likely to hear in couples therapy.

Nice puzzle, but, as @Nancy said, no substitute for a rebus.

Does Alabama, the country band, do a line dance onstage? I would have preferred "Celebrant at a taverna." If you have some Greeks and a band, there's going to be a line dance, like The Sailor Dance.

Is George Barany doing well? He hasn't been here for a while so I sent him an email a couple of days ago. No response yet.

ultramet 10:10 AM  

Weird. I found this puzzle quite easy. Yes, I made the Gold Course error but after that much of the fill was ok. No way was this medium-challenging

cheeseguy 10:13 AM  

Personally, I really liked the Line Dance clue. Not a dancer, but grew up watching friends line dance to a lot of different country bands including Alabama.

Anonymous 10:15 AM  

What does "cover version" mean?

MetroGnome 10:41 AM  

A "cover version" of is someone else's version of a song that's already been recorded -- e.g., anyone other than Prince doing "Purple Rain"!

RE: "PPP Analysis": Is Shakespeare ("ADO") really considered "pop culture"? And what in the world is a "Pepe clue"?

Anonymous 10:51 AM  

@metrognome, think of how the Pepe the Frog meme was adopted by some Trump supporters.

jberg 10:52 AM  

Learning how to get a euro sign was a nice plus! Doesn't work here, though.

As for the puzzle, I got PURPLE IRAN just from the clue, so I knew it was an anagram, and eventually IGUANA made me notice the initial Is as a feature. No idea about IVERSON, but with a few crosses I saw that it was a version anagram. But not until getting the revealer did I realize that the only letter moved was that I. Pretty neat trick.

I made the same course/RESORT mistake as almost everyone, but that's why it's fun, right?

CDilly52 11:12 AM  

Very, very slow on the uptake today and did not get the theme until I dropped in the remaining letters to FRENCH IGUANA, my favorite of the day. The "iguana" part fell finally when I remembered that my daughter, who had challenging respiratory difficulties during her first two years managed to weather all her time in hospital by demanding that we read to her. Not a problem, we are a very bookish tribe, but for several weeks the ONLY book she wanted was a silly story called "Me Too Iguana."

As with most kids and a favorite book, she knew the whole thing by heart, but it was the theatre of us doing the voices and sound effects that made her laugh as she struggled through the treatments and misery.

In trying to find "new" things to talk about, one evening, we were looking at pictures of
"Iguana" and my precocious Kate, with Granddad in the room says, "Mama, look; Grandpa Sam has a 'hangy-down-thing' like Iguana." And indeed, my father, who had recently lost a great deal of weight did have quite the dewlap. And that is where she acquired the word, and of course observed with pride aloud to each and every person with whom she came in contact who was blessed or cursed with the "hangy-down-thing" that it was a "dewlap." I am certain that the Children's Hospital staff was delighted to see the back of us! She is now 35 and provides mental health services to kids and families with chronic illness and regular hospitalizations.

Real workout, learned some new words and a fine Thursday puzz.

Anonymous 11:21 AM  

I think rex is just being churlish. Certainly too literal when he balks at the reveal. Its most certainly what a trailblazer says. Now, I'll grant that it might be muttered to himself, or even a bit of internal monologue, but that's precisely what they say. in word and deed. The reason or logos for trailblazing would start with those very words.
Nice puzzle Mr. Agard and because Mr. Sharp refuses to be gracious to Will, Nice job by you too Will.

Anonymous 11:24 AM  

Even 12 hours later, with confirmation of the facts, I still can't believe IVERSON was the league MVP. He was a living high-light reel (when healthy & playing hard), but the league MVP?

kitshef 11:25 AM  

@mathgent - I do not know George (except through his blog postings), but he did solve yesterday's runt puzzle and made a comment on having been away for a while.

RAD2626 11:31 AM  

I thought this was a really fun puzzle and very put together. @Jeremy Mercer @kitschef. ICHOR seems a bit esoteric. I can't figure it out either.

While my times are always multiples of his, and while I tend to like the puzzles more than he does, I generally find that I have the same stumbling blocks and difficulties as Rex. Today was different. PURPLE IRAN fell right away which made the others easy. Fast Thursday time for me. My biggest stumbling block was GOLD plated which I was sure had to be right. And I had no clue what ID EST meant until I looked it up after I was done. Can't say I like it very much.

Really blunt disclaimer of that clue by the constructor in his notes. As direct a blast at the editors as I have seen in one of those write-ups. Even included an apology to the solvers. Good for him.

Masked and Anonymous 11:33 AM  

REBOUND/RUSHED/ODE. Then desperate reboot to GOLFCOURSE. Then small M&A head explosion.

Real well-done puz. Funky grid splatzin of black squares. Like. Got the theme pretty early, since a FRENCHIGUANA has only one sane explanation for existin. Rest of the ThursPuz seemed to play a dash easier than average, at our house. Once all the misfires were cleaned up and the furniture got put back in place, that is.

staff weeject pick (out of 26 candidates!): MDI. Veni vidi calculi vicky, dude.

Primo weeject stacks, NW/SE. Shows some extra class, to have those along for the ride.

Thanx, Mr. Agard.

Masked & Anonymo4Us

weeject fever. catch it:

Tita A 11:33 AM  

@kitshef - thanks for the French Region fact - did not know that. On our last trip to France we visited the last 4 départements - our equivalent to seeing all 50 states. I guess now we have to get started on Outre-mer!

@Forsythia - good luck with the AT! I've only been on the tiny bit of it that cuts through Connecticut.

@Jeremy Mercer - I stand in awe of your guess at CHURCHICHOR.

Yes, I am the Queen of Keyboard Shortcuts! ctrl-alt-easy.
Give me a keyboard shortcut over multi=click mousing any day.

@Lewis - thank for the age-old question answer!

@jberg - many of those shortcuts are specific to the app...most MS products use them, as does Skype, but not most browsers. I use them all the time to get diacritics when writing about pie à la mode or complaining that año and ano are two different things.

The puzzle was a disappointment - I expect more trickiness of a Thursday. I suppose it's my boredom with anagrams that made my eyes roll into the back of my head when I figured out GRAPEIRAN. And yes, did expect them all to be countries,
and no, never heard of ROLLOFCOINS, or know that Cover Version is a thing. So the themers were pretty blah for me.
(Even though these were a more interesting variation of wordplay than an actual anagram...)

Thanks, Mr. Aagard, for dangling out the themer that didn't make the cut - can you verify if Mr. Mercer is right??
BTW - interesting comment on the GOLFRESORT clue on Xwordinfo.

mathgent 11:38 AM  

I heard from George Barany. Circumstances have kept him away, but he is still doing the puzzle and reading the blog.

BBC television reported last night that the British government was highly agitated with our government with regard to the Manchester attack. Their people had given our people confidential information on the bombing. But someone here had given that information to NYT, in violation of the trust they expect from our government. I didn't see this story in today's print edition of NYT, at least in the first section. All the news that's fir to print?

semioticus (shelbyl) 11:43 AM  

I might be biased because I'm a sucker for anagrams, but this was legitimately fun. It was a way easier Thursday for me, but any puzzle that makes me go "Haaaaaaaaa" when I figure out the theme is a good puzzle.

Furthermore, no archaic pop culture references or obscure Proper Nouns. All pretty knowable at a basic level of interest. That made the fill much easier. I agree with Rex's analysis of the fill.

Balanced, went by a little faster than I would have liked but yeah, great job Erik Agard.

Joseph Michael 11:48 AM  

In a puzzle where "I" comes first, EGO is an apt entry.

Thought the clue for 45A needed some indication that the answer was not in English.

Was not a FAN of ASTRO as clued. ("Hey, let's go up to the observatory and do some astro!")

And ROLL OF ICONS feels wrong in so many ways.

But I did like the originality of the theme and the solid quality of the construction. Also liked learning how to create the Euro symbol with my keyboard.

Anonymous 11:49 AM  

Anyone know if Mr. Agard is in fact an American. Because if he is, he's nuttier than Rex. ( Check out the constructor's note on Wordplay)Someone should help him out and explain to him im that Mr. Trump is indeed his president regardless of his feelings about it. Talk about alternate facts; this is the stuff of a child. Like stamping his feet and pouting because the world isn't as he would like it to be. Grow up.

semioticus (shelbyl) 11:51 AM  

Oh, by the way, Alabama is apparently a country music band, so a person who gets down to Alabama is thus a LINE DANCER. Mystery solved.

r.alphbunker 11:53 AM  

A search of Jeff Chen's word list found only 235 words that fit the pattern. The list is here. The vast majority don't work because there is no common phrase containing the word from which the i anagram was made. One possible candidate is PHONIES --> IPHONES clued as {Genuine Apple products?}

Details of solution are here.

skua76 12:14 PM  

I subscribe to Erik's puzzles and really enjoy them, so I was glad to see his name today. Was NOT idsappointed!

Tita A 12:18 PM  

I get breaking news alerts from the NYT app on my phone.
An alert on that story came in either just after midnight or then early this am. That is the e-equivalent of front page coverage.
I can't speak for the print edition.

They also included their official response within the article that spoke of the dismay of many UK political and intel leaders.

Don't take this as my tacit endorsement of the leaking of sensitive intel - or whether this was or was not sensitive to begin with - I'm simply letting you know that they are not burying the story.

cwf 12:22 PM  

I'm kinda late here and I assume most already know this, but Eric posts free puzzles on a vaguely weekly basis here if you want more of this cleverness.

Aketi 12:23 PM  

I've seen clients in many Trump owned buildings where almost ever conceivable surface is plated in or painted GOLd so I had a hard time letting go of the D PLATED and replacing it with F RESORT.

@Lewis, between the EGG and the EGO, which would GO FIRST?

The mango mousse white chocolate shelled EGG dessert at the New York Botanical Garden's Hudson Garden Grill is definitely something I'd be delighted to EAT AWAY at again.

@Nancy, a peer reviewed research trial that I read long ago showed that chicken soup produced statistically significant reductions in cold symptoms.

cwf 12:24 PM  

Sorry. EriK.

Georgia 12:26 PM  

Think of Alabama the band. You might "get down" and line dance to their music.

Georgia 12:28 PM  

Cover version. They aren't jumbled up anagrams, just pull out the "i" and put it in front for a different word.

Aketi 12:33 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Aketi 12:35 PM  

@Lewis, I took another look and discover an EGO that bends to the right in addition to the straight EGO crossing the IGUANA. The bent EGO shares the EG with the EGG.

So the answer is:


bg 12:37 PM  

Sigh. Themes are generally wasted on meat least for solving help. I appreciate RP's exposition and opinion of 'em for the most part.

bg 12:40 PM  

Sigh. Themes are generally wasted on me, at least for solving help. I appreciate RP's exposition and opinion of 'em for the most part.

Carola 12:40 PM  

This one gave me a lot of trouble. Same here on: getting misled about a geography theme (tried to anagram Rome) and going with GOLF course. I also went wrong on the thespian's "role" crossing L'Oreal: I thought they owned everything these days. I needed the reveal to understand what was going on and finish up the ROLL OF COINS and COVER IVERSON.

Liked REBRAND x ROUND TWO and loved DORITO x EAT AWAY - lemme at 'em!

Help from previous puzzles: OMAR EPPS! Also, in the just-because-it-has-to-be-so-write-it-in category: ARNO, ELLA, EGO, APE, OLE.

ASPEN: That one went right in with a "No kidding!" Shades of Girl Scout camp counseling in northern Wisconsin and trying to get a CAMPfire going.

Tita A 12:54 PM  

Hey - just can't resist giving more fuel to anyone who wants to invent anything...

Re: @Rex's awesome GOLDPLATED wrong answer at 4D...
A few weeks back, Devil's Advocate was on. My husband walked in on the scene where the lawyers are talking strategy with the billionaire who killed his wife and a few other people.
He said - "That's gotta be Trump's apartment..."
In fact, the GOLDPLATED room with the view of Central Park is, in fact, that, as per IMDB.


Wileyfex 12:54 PM  

Isn't today Thursday? Or is that the point?

IAmSethward 12:56 PM  

On 4D: Many a Trump property, I somehow started with --- ESOR- and really, really thought and hoped it was ---EYESORE.

Wileyfex 12:57 PM  

I still think that today is Thursday

Chip Hilton 1:08 PM  

A trailblazer would indeed say, "ILLGOFIRST." Bravely striding into the unknown.

Fun puzzle. I thought it was pretty lame that the last word in the theme clues simply started with an I. It took a second look at PURPLEIRAN to realize the theme was more Princely.

Nancy 1:15 PM  

@Aketi (12:23) -- I'm on my way to heat some up right now. I hope it doesn't have to be homemade to work. It definitely has to be homemade to be delicious, but delicious isn't on my mind right now since I can't taste anything anyway.

Re: the constructor's comment on his objections to the 4D clue. First of all, I'm a big Will Shortz fan. Second, I do think that Agard's horror at the mere use of Trump's name is a bit -- how shall I put it? -- over the top. But I also think that any constructor's objections about any clue at all should be listened to and followed. While I wouldn't give him final say over what clues are used, I would give him final say over what clues may not be used. Why should a constructor be left feeling uncomfortable or embarrassed over what appears under his name? It's his puzzle, after all. And it's not as though GOLF RESORT is especially hard to clue. You could clue it as "Pebble Beach, for one." You could also clue it as "Vacation spot where no one wants to be trapped."

Joe Bleaux 1:17 PM  


jb129 1:18 PM  

I got through 3/4 of the puzzle & then put it down. Shouldn't have cause I never got back to it again. I got further than I thought & it gave me a run for my $. It was a good stumper.

Teedmn 1:22 PM  

A flood of black Ichor (nice one @kitshef!) COVERs my grid. I started off with @Rex's GOLd (waiting to see if it was GOLd-signed or -plated) so a d_ENCHIGUANA was what, dRENCH? Gah, I got it at that point though the fact that the theme was the I doing all the moving was still not sinking in, even with PURPLE IRAN filled in.

I have yet to break my oft bemoaned habit of not reading CLUES all the way through - 9A, I read "letters", "bottle" and "beach" and promptly splatzed in Sos. 10D was oI_____ and I thought, "Usually it's the PIANO that makes the most trouble for movers". (I should know - I had enough friends to help me move my piano five times between 1985 and 1991; and they all still speak to me! I must have said "Pretty POR favor" very prettily.)

I loved the 29D clue and answer for LINE DANCER.

Great chicken/EGG catch, @Lewis.

Thanks, Erik Agard, this puzzle isn't a DRAG, it SOARS.

Jeremy Mercer 1:38 PM  

@kitshef - Bravo for CHURCH ICHOR ... I still can't see any "official" confirmation of what the deleted theme entry was, but yours fits so perfectly: 6, 5, and just a little too esoteric to be kept in the puzzle, I think you nailed it...

mathgent 1:44 PM  

@Tita A. Thanks for that information. I'll look for the story in tomorrow's paper.

@Nancy. Wonderful comment in favor of a constructor's wishes being followed. I totally agree.

Rad 2:28 PM  

@Masked and Anonymous said...
REBOUND/RUSHED/ODE. Then desperate reboot to GOLFCOURSE. Then small M&A head explosion.

Love this. Same thing, except my error extended into ROLE for Thespian and then LOREAL for makeup and BRAG for promote. I wound up with a dnf, unfortunately, because I couldn't think around PLUG for promote, and that stuck me in the end.
Also had BCC and CELL crossed for awhile, which really slowed me down.

I picked up the theme after IRAN and IGUANA, which helped me get rid of GODS where ICONS belonged.

@ Joseph Michael: Thanks for reminding me why I had no idea how IDEST fit; agree that it needed foreign cluing.

Overall, I "finished" in average Thursday time, though, and really enjoyed the backtracking.

JC66 2:33 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
JC66 2:49 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
JC66 2:50 PM  


Yes, what @mathgent said.

Also, make sure the soup is really hot. Inhaling the fumes is supposedly a key part of the cure.

Malsdemare 3:08 PM  

I had to cheat for ALI though that should have been obvious but wasn't because I thought Kiri (Takanewa) sang Gershwin so I bounced between her and ELLA.

And I'd really like to know what my brain is doing these days. GOLF RESORT took forever to see despite lots of crosses, as did FANART and PART. I wanted role there and resisted changing it for way too long, which really slowed me down. I had lauder (off the L in role) before REVLON. In fact, role my persistence with role made that whole corner a trial. It wasn't until I took it out and let my brain off its leash that APOLLO dropped and I finally corrected my errors. I, too, had REBouND before REBRAND. I guessed on OMAR EPPS and chortled at LINE DANCER, though it took forever for me to see it.

Overall, good puzzle, made me work hard.

@Nancy. Echinacia (sp?) and vitamin C. Lots. Hubby had a cold in Feb that lasted weeks. When my body finally caved to the pressure, I loaded up on the above and it was gone in five days. Never got nearly as bad as his. And I agree about honoring a constructor's wishes. Puzzle has his name on it; it shouldn't offend him. If he protests about a clue, Will should take his name off it.

And y'all are teasing me with the alcohol. Because I'm on Tylenol with codeine, I'm off wine, and IT'S DRIVING ME NUTS. It's bad enough feeling sort of crummy without depriving me of one of my few vices. Okay, rant off.

@Tita I get the alerts as well; didn't see that one.

Anonymous 3:33 PM  

Hey Agard - you know who's not ANYBODY'S president? Hilliarly. Suck it up snowflake.

Anonymous 3:47 PM  

The 'Cover Iverson' clue and answer were not correct, if one was to follow the theme of the other three "I'll go first" answers. The clue (51A) read "Guard the 2001 NBA M.V.P.?" All the other theme answers had their last words rearranged so the 'correct' word was changed by moving the letter 'i' to the front (rain = iran, guiana = iguana, coins = icons). However, the correct answer for the 2001 NBA M.V.P. is Iverson; there was no moving the letter 'i' to create a new word. Fail...

jb129 4:04 PM  

I thought Will Smiith played Ali so although it was obvious, I questioned the constructor & therefore, myself.

We only have tomorrow to look forward to - after this week, I think that Friday will not be a joy

Larry Gilstrap 4:06 PM  

ICHOR was my first guess, as well. I've seen it in puzzles past.

Not a lot of resistance from this Thursday effort. My theory is that I'm getting smarter, humor me here. It seems we have experienced more quibbling about clues from the comment section than even from OFL. Is that the new attitude? Let's nit pick, I'LL GO FIRST! Reminds me of a bunch of NATO leaders jockying for a photo-op.

"Four letter word Sings Gershwin" (1950) in a NYT puzzle? Let me guess: ANKA, ENYA, CHER, ABBA, COMO, KITT, LIZA, SADE ... got ELLA off the crosses. I think you know better.

I was in a community theater show last year and we used to goof around with singing and dancing while idle at rehearsal. If you have ever seen me, I don't look like a guy who would know how to Country LINE DANCE. Think aging hippy surfer. No raven hair, ruby lips, tight jeans, cowboy boots, and hat, trust me. But if I'm at a wedding or a bar and 'Mustang Sally," etc. breaks out, get outta my way! People are AGAPE and my wife assures me that I'm not making a fool of myself.

Marcus Wannabe 4:17 PM  

Ah, if only chicken soup was a cure for a pain in the ass
and a running mouth....

Anonymous 4:44 PM  

Grrr. Damn that Trump! Creating all those jobs and boosting the stock markets 20%. There's not enough wine in the world . . . .

Joe Dipinto 5:07 PM  

@Jeremy Mercer -- the answer is in Jeff Chen's notes on Xword Info

QuasiMojo 5:10 PM  

@Nancy, good one about vacation spot and being "trapped"! Had me chuckling.

Anonymous 5:23 PM  

@Anon 3:47 - You're mistaken. The common phrase there is cover version, which was converted to (and clued as) COVER IVERSON. It follows the same form as all the others, e.g. the song title Purple Rain got coverted to, and clued as, PURPLE IRAN.

Unknown 5:30 PM  

I doubt anyone reads my comments, because I am in bed by 9:00 PM (when the puzzle appears online) to start work in the early morning, and thus solve in the evening, but anyway... "Gets down to Alabama" is a great clue. Just because you don't know that Alabama is a band that lots of people line dance to, it doesn't mean there is a problem with the clue. It is way more legitimate than the myriad crosswordese terms that appear everyday. This was a really interesting, well constructed puzzle, the best of the month in my opinion.

Anoa Bob 5:35 PM  

Re the GOLF RESORT clue: Maybe today's constructor got to preview the clues prior to publication. but I suspect not. In my experience, the theme and fill was what had to pass editorial muster and the clues were never part of the process. After acceptance, there was the wait. Then a notice of the date of publication, usually a week or so ahead of time. It was only when it finally came out that I would be able to see which of my clues made the cut and which were change by the editor or staff.

By then, whether or not I like the changes was moot. It was a done deal, a fait accompli. Many of the changes were for the better, I thought, a few not so much. But that was part of the process and to be expected. After all, both my name and the editor's name were at the top of the puzzle.

Besides, I always invoked the Tyler Hinman canon: "If you like the clue, give me credit; if you don't like the clue, blame the editor."

I'm a moron too 6:10 PM  

Yeah, and if only they had figured out a way to work COVER VERSION into the puzzle.

Unofficial Blog Cop 6:13 PM  

Does this mean you don't want to hear about know-it-all @Nancy's tonsillectomy again today???

Space Is Deep 7:54 PM  

Extremely easy. Didn't even get the theme until I'd finished and studied the long answers. The crosses made the tough gimmick easy/unnecessary. I was surprised by the rating. Thought Rex would fly through this one.

jae 7:59 PM  

Medium for me. Add me to the "this was a fine Thurs." contingent. My only erasure was pLuG before FLOG. Liked it.

BarbieBarbie 8:03 PM  

@Unknown, you're the second commenter this week to assume that everyone here lives in EDT and works a day job. Not true. The only comments that aren't likely to be read are the ones posted after the next blog opens. And even those sometimes get answered. Opine away!

I liked today's fine, though I do love a rebus. (Does anybody know how the crossword def of rebus came to be? It seems all wrong. Unless we're supposed to be drawing pictures? I don't think you always can?)
Never noticed that the "i" was always being poitioned first, until the revealer. But I actually got the themers right away, for some reason.

August West 8:11 PM  

Slam-dunked this in under 9, nearly 6 full minutes under my average Thursday time. Got PURPLEIRAN, and immediately headed SW to work out the revealer. It came to view in seconds via its extremely easy crosses - APOLLO, EGG, ADVICE, ERIN, ASTRO - which simultaneously confirmed IVERSON to have been the '01 MVP. And that's all she wrote. GOLFcourse/REBouND, FRO and FANART caused momentary pauses (particularly having never heard of the latter), but were also easily correctable via crosses. More of tough-ish Wednesday. Need more fight in my Thursday.

Anonymous 6:41 PM  

Loved the theme. However Iverson is not an anagram. Picky, surprised Rex didn't notice.

Anonymous 11:03 AM  

"Familiar" phrases? Hardly. For such a fun theme, the answers were extremely out of whack, even for a Thursday. ROLLOFCOINS you'd think would be familiar but think more; Have you ever once used that phrase? "I need a roll of coins for parking." Uh, no. Lame. Extremely disappointed that I solved the entire puzzle without understanding the theme only to later learned that the chosen phrases were vanilla and random trivia. I have never heard of FRENCHGUIANA and I had a research paper on Suriname. Terrible execution.

Burma Shave 9:35 AM  


on RIBS, EGGs, and DORITOs if you wanna.
ROUNDTWO is worse to SPEW, if you RASHLY say,


rondo 10:18 AM  

Like OFL, I was also thinking geography after the FIRST two, but after muddling through the bottom half Allen IVERSON cleared things up so there ARNO unfilled squares.

Another day with OLE and no Sven or Lena.

I saw Peter Revson, of the REVLON Revson family, race against Jackie Stewart in the Can Am series way back when. No lack of EGO there. ASFOR Peter, he drove as RASHLY as he lived the rest of his life and died in a crash soon after.

I will never RUE choosing Lucy LIU. Yeah baby.

Very clever puz. Even good enough to PACIFY OFL.

spacecraft 11:10 AM  

@anon 11:24: IVERSON was the star on a bad team; as such seemed almost unstoppable and (you could almost say) single-handedly won many games. I'd call that MVP material. And that gimme was one of several kick-starters I needed to get this toughy done.

I saw right away that there was some anagramming going on, but the specifics eluded me for a long time. It took me three themers to notice that the "I" was being moved to the initial position. This is how a Thursday should be: approachable but still needing some cerebral calisthenics. As such I'd call it medium, maybe slightly tilted toward challenging-ish. A good workout to prepare the brain for the weekend.

I wasn't aware of Trump's penchant for GOLF at any of his RESORTs, so that one was a sticker. It did help to know that a dogie is a motherless calf, or ORPHAN. That helped me...git along. Sorry. Liked the dual clue for RYE with "toast"--both a bread and a libation!

DOD candidates at every turn: LEIA, ERIN, ELLA, ALI--even Amy TAN. However, today I am pleased to award the sash to the lovely--and fit--Lucy LIU. And I'd have said that even if you hadn't beaten me to the punch, @rondo.

What OFL said about the fill, RRN aside. A solid birdie.

Diana,LIW 12:20 PM  

Was having quite the easy time, especially for a Thursday. Started toward the bottom, and had the revealer prior to the themers.

Then...I got stuck in the mid-east, and was "this" close to declaring a dnf, when who in the world but OMAREPPS came and saved the day. I have no idea where he came from, and couldn't tell him from the Eiffel Tower. But there he was, and then, as @Rex would say, boom, boom, bam. Done.

The "I" clue also helped me. Anyone who has worked for tips is very familiar with the ROLLOFcoins one ends up with at the end of a shift.

Good catch, @Spacey, on the dual clue for RYE. My favorite toasted bread (but not fav drink).

Beats a rebus by a mile - good Thursday

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

Anonymous 1:02 PM  

Mr Parker,

I made the same mistake as you. Thinking they were country related. However the insight that the "I" was the theme came a bit later. Also thought it was Idols not Icons at first. However knowing Linedancing was the answer made me change it. Finished it without any hints or looking up answers but made two mistakes. Carshow instead of Airshow and Adbrand and not rebrand.


leftcoastTAM 1:49 PM  

I'm with Rex on the theme, but expected he might have been a lot more critical. Surprisingly, he pulled back and gave the whole thing quite a bit of praise (by his standards).

He was also quite gentle with the fill. It appears that I had less a struggle with it than he did. Can that be true? Not really; he operates with much higher and different standards.

He's way, way ahead of the pack, and I'LL certainly not GO FIRST, ever.

P.S. I've never written a post about "Rex and me" like this before, and expect not to presume to do so any time soon again.

rain forest 2:36 PM  

Fun, tending to wacky; medium; very competently constructed.
Only w/o was course->RESORT.
Back in the day when a bunch of us played low-stakes poker, I would frequently bring a ROLL OF COINS. Now, it's a wad of 20's. Yikes!
Excellent Thursday and preferable to a rebus, imHo.

leftcoastTAM 6:21 PM  

@ All Syndilanders: I'm bothered that we (myself included of course) don't interact a bit more. Realtimers' exchanges are mainly what make their comments lively and entertaining. Sure, there are only a few of us out here, but might we do more about that?

spacecraft 7:22 PM  

Certainly--as long as we don't start ranting about polly-ticks. I've got a warehouse full of rants on THAT subject.

Diana,LIW 7:33 PM  

Like what do you mean, @Lefty? (I totally agree)


In the last few days I've "spoken" to @Rondo, @Spacey, @Lefty and others. (And I worried that My comments re: your "rock" could be taken incorrectly.)

I heard @Rainy talk to @Spacey.

@BS got comments.

However, I believe you mean longer, more thoughtful, epic comments. Yes?

What say we make a concerted effort in the next few days to wax poetic, or rhapsodic, or odean, to our fellow synde4rs?

Lady Di

Diana,LIW 7:36 PM  

Totally agree about the poly-ticks. Too many ticks this spring/summer. Such comments can put you out of lyme.


leftcoastTAM 7:50 PM  

Okay, I see. As a small group we're doing a pretty good job now without overdoing it.

strayling 8:02 PM  

I'm not very talkative, but I do leave the occasional comment just to show willing.

\ Shoreline represent!

rondo 10:49 PM  

Love all you folks, even if I don't say it often enough.

rain forest 11:25 PM  

@Lady Di, @Spacey, @Rondo, @leftcoastTAM, @Burma Shave, @stayling and others - I'm game. This is something that a guy named @Dirigonzo wanted to do a few years ago. That was when our little SYNDIcate wasn't quite as little. Diri was/is a a gentle, warmhearted guy whose presence I miss, but he always was a devoted syndi-ite. Miss him. So yes, let's do this. I'll try me best to step up to the plate, because, like @Rondo, I love you you people.

Scott McLean 12:22 PM  

Confidently plopped down aLI in 22D (after having _LI already), then realized that was Will Smith, not Denzel Washington. Thank goodness for REBRAND, or I would never have remembered the title of that movie nobody saw.
And then, lo and behold, ALI shows up later in the grid! Go figure.

Theme was OK, not mind-blowing. RP can be impressed with the construction all day; it doesn't really matter to the solving experience, which was only so-so.

Longbeachlee 2:15 PM  

Dang. I got thre hard stuff, but jumped into per favor(e), and never dug my way out. I have an excuse. I just got back from Italy.

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