Hill that's steep on one side gentle on other / TUE 6-20-17 / Southern region where blues developed / Pilgrimage site in central italy / Roamer of Serengeti / Like group you're in if you're out

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Constructor: Jason Flinn

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging

THEME: AIRPORT TERMINALS (55A: Arrival and departure locales hinted at by 17-, 21- and 50-Across) — final words in the three themers are all airlines:

Theme answers:
  • MANCHESTER UNITED (17A: One of the premier clubs in the Premier League)
  • MISSISSIPPI DELTA (21A: Southern region where blues developed)
  • SOUTH BY SOUTHWEST (50A: Annual Austin festival)
Word of the Day: CUESTA (47A: Hill that's steep on one side and gentle on the other) —
A cuesta is a hill or ridge with a gentle slope on one side, and a steep slope on the other. In geology the term is more specifically applied to a ridge where a harder sedimentary rock overlies a softer layer, the whole being tilted somewhat from the horizontal. This results in a long and gentle backslope called a dip slope that conforms with the dip of resistant strata, called caprock. Where erosion has exposed the frontslope of this, a steep slope or escarpment occurs. The resulting terrain may be called scarpland. (wikipedia)
• • •

The one and only thing I like about this puzzle is that it looks interesting. 16-wide, with those ridiculous 11-letter non-theme Acrosses riding shotgun with the top and bottom themers? Bonkers. Oh, and KICKS BUTT is kinda fun. But besides that, this thing was deeply unpleasant. I'll start with the theme, which is just a bloated last-words theme. The revealer fails twice, first by being a really booooring entry, and second by being ... not really what ... those last words are. Those are airlines. They may have their own "terminals." Or they may not. Theme answers themselves are fine, but the revealer was kind of a letdown. And then there's Maude! I mean, the fill (and cluing). Hoo boy. Here we come to the Downside of the puzzle's "interesting" look. Those 11-letter Acrosses abutting the grid-spanning themers make for a ****ton of cruddy short fill in the crosses. INA SSN OPE (ugh) TRA EDA SYS TEMAS (double ugh). Things get rough in other places too: ACHOO TWPS (ugh ugh ugh) INTWO NCIS—that's a pretty section. My favorite*, though, was AKEY crossing CUESTA. That was my last square. I hate riddles. I hate bad fill. AKEY is an answer to a riddle, and it is also bad fill. CUESTA was just a thing I've never heard of that clearly doesn't belong in a Tuesday. I saw "hill" in the clue and thought "CREST ... A?" Oy.

I don't like the clue on LGBT (40D: Like the group you're in if you're out, for short), as it seems to imply that being "out" is a precondition of being L or G or B or T. Now it doesn't say "*only* if you are out," so I guess you can lawyer that clue into being technically accurate, but it feels off, and all for the sake of wordplay (in/out) that isn't even that good. The clue did get some pretty high-power defense when I complained about it last night, though:

Ben and Andy are certainly right, but I still think the use of the conditional in the clue is lazy and confusing. In frustration, I'm gonna go punch IDEATE in the face (12D: Conceptualize). I'm just tired of looking at it, is all. 

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Andrea Ojeda 12:49 AM  

I thought it boring. Uninteresting and fairly easy.
Plus, thinking about airlines and airports make me go UGH!

Anonymous 12:59 AM  

Not all airports have separate airline terminals. You can make the case that airlines "terminate" their flights at airports. I agree with Rex however that the revealer clue is off target.

Mike in Mountain View 1:02 AM  

I think the LGBT clue works fine. But, hey, I am a lawyer.

Also, I think Rex misses the fact that the themers are not just "last word" themers. The first words are places you can go using the airline that is the last word. You can take United to Manchester, or Delta to Mississippi, or Southwest to the South. So it's a tighter theme than Rex grokked.

Impressive grid-spanning themers. The long non-themers were fun, too. I'm not so happy about TEMAS on a Tuesday. Liked the clue to AKEY.

Needless to say, liked this a lot more than Rex did.

Big Jim 1:34 AM  

TWPS? Someone save me. .. I have no idea what that is!

jae 1:35 AM  

Medium- tough for me too. Pretty good Tues., a fair amount of zip, liked it @Mike a lot more than Rex did.


I got SHRUB with out reading the clue and when I saw the answer I was hoping the clue would have something to do with the late great Molly Ivins. Close enough.

jae 1:36 AM  

@Big Jim - Townships

chefwen 1:43 AM  

I hope I'm not the only one who misread 5D as GALOSHES and started to put down boots. DOH! Hungarian GOULASH was one of the first things my Austrian Grandmother taught me how to cook along with Wiener Schnitzel. Sorry Grandma, I erred.

SARONGS may bare the shoulders, but certainly not the chest.

After UNITED and DELTA showed up, the rest was pretty easy.

Anonymous 1:51 AM  

loved cuesta. for a moment i thought it was cesta, the basket they use to catch and throw the pelota in jai alai, "the world's fastest game." have not seen those words in a puzzle in a while. ¿Por qué?

thought the puzzle was a fine tuesday effort. harder than usual. nothing wrong with that.

and the rexster is tired of ideate? annabel-tired, or real-tired? note to self-If i ever feel tired all the time i'll go get it checked. what say you, Ben and Andy?

Anonymous 1:55 AM  

@chefwen: a man wears a sarong around his waist. ben? andy? can we get a ruling?

MaharajaMack 2:16 AM  

Townships. I work with land records. Got it on "T".

chefwen 2:21 AM  

@Anon 1:55 - Thanks, I've been been in a the dark, did not know that.

Hartley70 2:54 AM  

This wasn't too easy and it wasn't too hard, but it wasn't exactly just right either.

The words that were unfamiliar, CUESTA, IROC, TEMAS and AJA, were easily gettable by the crosses.

The theme didn't mean anything to me until I got to AIRPORTTERMINALS. At that point the airlines became obvious. I'm not bothered that not all the airports will have the respective terminal buildings.

This was more difficult than the average Tuesday which I appreciate.

I'm a fan of the riddle. I thought the answer should be a trickle of water but TALKED gave me the K, so AKEY came quickly.

What was missing for me was some light wit. I always enjoy a smile as I solve.

Anonymous 3:36 AM  

It's not a TEMA! Not sure what TEMAS is. Some tough words in this one, SHIISM had me stumped. Caught on to the Airline theme so that helped.

Anonymous 3:37 AM  

AJA is such an awesome song btw

andrea carla michaels 4:13 AM  

@chefwen I read it as Galoshes too and thought STEpS???!

I started with "DO go on" and thought how cool and weird looking and fun... But wrong!
(Lex put me straight)

That double I I in SHIISM was super cool and a word I've never seen nor heard. Glad Shi'ites religion wasn't Shitism

Had to run the alphabet twice for IROc/IcET
Is there a car called IROd? An actor named InET? Big AHA moment to finish puzzle
(Not to be confused with Big AJA moment.)

The only thing I'll weigh in on with LGBT (besides possibility for being a sandwich with a toothpick) is that it's funny that LGBT is finally appearing in puzzles but it's now three or four letters too short.
Too little to late!? "Out" of date?
Nice tho sandwiched in the weeks between LA and SF pride weekends :)

And for the record, four 16 grid spanners KICKSBUTT!

Randy 4:15 AM  

I was impressed by the long theme answers without shifty fill making them work. The cluing for RUT and SARONG were difficult for a Tuesday but the rest was a lot of fun to solve.

Randy 4:20 AM  

Also the Steely Dan clue was fun since they're so derided as a shitty cocaine driven yacht rock band nowadays but made such undeniably catchy, if not ethically questionable (Hey Nineteen) music.

Thomaso808 4:43 AM  

I stared at PRI_E_ND_O_ for about two minutes. EDA, TEMAS, AJA, and SYS gave me no help at all.

Eighteen 3-letter answers! Tough to avoid dreck!

evil doug 5:27 AM  

Good lord. The answer was AIRPORT TERMINALS, not AIRline TERMINALS--precisely the "arrival and departure locales" of airlines, whether they have their own structures there or not. You're trying too hard, Michael. Gee, that's never happened before....

Conrad 5:42 AM  

@evil -- You're right. AIRline TERMINALS would have been a better revealer because the name of the airline was the end (terminal) part of the answers.

Loren Muse Smith 5:46 AM  

I’m with those who were looking for “airline” TERMINALS instead of AIRPORT TERMINALS. Yeah - I would have liked it more if the terminal” word had been an airport and not an airline, but I didn’t really stew about it.

@chefwen and @acme – I had the S in place, so I was going for “shoes” for my misread galoshes. Funny that galoshes is always plural, but goulash is hardly ever plural, and that plural threw us.

HIGH WINDS – serendipity. Last night I was watching the first part of Amadeus, and there’s a scene where the old Salieri is with a priest, describing a piece by Mozart. He tells the priest that it starts out simply enough, but then there’s this lone oboe that comes in… I heard it, too – there it was … but the note was so high, it sounded more like a flute to me. What do I know. And I snorted to myself that it was a HIGH WIND.

“Rancid” before PUTRID. They’re both pretty strong words, but I think I’d hope the mystery food forgotten in my fridge would be rancid rather than PUTRID.

Liked ARABS crossing SHIISM even though SHIISM is clued for Persians. @Acme – I loved your “shitism” joke. That would make a follower a shitist. Hmm. Maybe this could be a synonym for scatologist. Cool. And a doctor of proctology could be an assist. (Or a colonist.) A vice cop could be a hoist. Ok, I’ll stop. I’m putting off reading a play for this lit course I’m taking.

I’m with those who were a bit puzzled but didn’t mind.

Lewis 6:28 AM  

I'm confused on TEMAS. I see it is "themes" in Spanish, but nothing in the clue says Spanish. And Googling now for TEMA or TEMAS isn't helping. This is a new word for me, can someone elucidate?

This didn't KICKBUTT but did give me more of a fight than the usual Tuesday. Didn't know CUESTA or the aforementioned TEMAS. And some tougher clues were thrown in with the Tuesday-easy ones. But I'm not complaining; I love to be put through the paces, if the cluing/answers are fair, and here they are, IMO.

There's a high RISK, a RIM out, and LOW exactly where it should be. I like the sippy cross of SAKE and ICET. Very nice answer in PRIDE_AND_JOY. For those above who were lobbying for AIRLINE TERMINALS as the reveal, for what it's worth, Jeff Chen says that "airline terminals" is not a legitimate phrase.

In any case, a very nice solving experience -- thank you Jason!

Jeff Anderson 6:30 AM  

Last night I get Elizabeth Gorski's weekly puzzle in my e-mail. In the body of the e-mail she always talks a bit about the puzzle, but last night she opened up on puzzle philosophy. She thinks revealing the theme in the answer grid, usually in the lower right corner, is lame beyond belief. I've never seen her talk about construction like that but I kind of agree with her. Then this morning's NYT does just that and the revealer turns out to be lame and misleading.

three of clubs 6:31 AM  

Liked it. The solving experience felt different than usual.

George Barany 6:51 AM  

A bit late to the party, and much appreciative of @Rex's critique and the comments already posted. @Jason Flinn's puzzle, while not particularly hard, did increase my vocabulary and pop culture knowledge, as well as making me nostalgic for the @Alfred Hitchcock classic "North by Northwest" [n.b., Northwest Airlines dominated the MSP terminals for much of my time here, until being acquired by Atlanta-based Delta].

Interestingly, HAILSTORM is the same length as HIGHWINDS, and was an instinctive entry based on recent local meteorological happenings. The ASHBIN entry led me, through a convoluted path, to this lively @William Safire essay (remember Safire, who was much discussed a few Sundays ago?)--well worth reading.

I was surprised to see KICKSBUTT today (a New York Times debut), and also wonder whether it was fair to use "Southern" in the clue for theme entry 21-Across, given the later appearance of theme entry 50-Across.

Small Town Blogger 7:04 AM  

@lewis - I was mystified by temas too, and I've studied music and sing with several groups. I googled "tema musical term" and found several references. VERY obscure for a Tuesday if you ask me!

Pianist 7:04 AM  

TEMA occurs in musical scores. It is Italian for 'theme'. I suppose that makes it okay since I wouldn't object to adagio or allegro in a puzzle, but not on a Tuesday.

Passing Shot 7:06 AM  

Enjoyed this right TIL CUESTA/AKEY. I'm sure AJA is a common crossword answer but I don't think I've seen it before in the 2 years I've been doing puzzles. Fantastic album and great title song featuring the *BEST* rock drum solo ever at the end. Reportedly, the solo was done in one take. https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=FWfQTY_K-_o

ArtO 7:14 AM  

Many obscurities and tricky cluing for Tuesday. Would have been more appropriate on Wednesday. Much legit criticism by OFL.

kitshef 7:14 AM  

I thought the theme was fine, and didn't mid most of the fill (though I see @Rex's point there).

My biggest issue was IRO- for a car crossing I-ET for a person's name. If you don't know one or both of those, what possible letter could you put in that crossing that would look reasonable in both directions? (hint - there ain't one). Of course, as it turns out the correct answer looks reasonable in neither direction.

Other issue was D-BI crossing T-MAS, where all the vowels are in play. Went with E by corresponding TEMAS with 'theme', but still.

Those are the kinds of crosses I shrug and say OK later in the week, but that have no place in a Tuesday puzzle.

Z 7:16 AM  

Even OFL falls for it on occasion, so I guess I should stop rolling my eyes when a commenter issues the same plaint. Here is the general principle as I learnt it in HS Geometry: All squares are rhombi but not all rhombi are squares. This principle is used for misdirection in puzzles daily and still people get tripped up. It is almost as important an issue as the rhyme scheme of military songs.

@Lewis - Hand up for the side eye at TEMAS. Maybe the music experts will defend it but seems like a cheap cheat to me.

Anonymous 7:16 AM  

Iroc crossing icet.....woe is me

Mary Perry 7:19 AM  

I liked it for the most part. Initially had ASHCANS and didn't know actress Mazar. Figured it all out once I solved AIRPORT TERMINALS. Of the 3 airlines, my fave is SOUTHWEST!

Hungry Mother 7:23 AM  

Had another DOH moment by misspelling both HOKUM and SAKE and not noticing it.

Glimmerglass 7:26 AM  

I liked this a whole lot better than @Rex did, as usual. @Rex gotta hate. I found it a normal Tuesday-easy, but with a few outliers (CUESTA, TEMAS). I agree with LMS about the revealer.

QuasiMojo 7:28 AM  

For the one thousandth time, Ciné does not mean "filmdom" in French or anywhere else that I know of. I googled "Le ciné en france" and it automatically adjusted to "le cinema." Who started this trend? Can someone show me an example where "ciné" is used in that context? It has always meant a theatre or cinema, well at least when I lived in France.

Otherwise, I am completely in accord with Rex this morning. I found the puzzle striving to be interesting but it failed to "kick butt."

Anonymous 7:33 AM  

In fact he uses the word hate twice and also says he "wants to punch it in the face." We should learn to be civil from these alt-lefties?

jessica cohn 7:38 AM  

Ridiculously hard for a tuesday

tkincher 7:40 AM  

@Thomaso808 same, I kept wanting "prized"-something. Found this a really fun puzzle for a Tuesday, myself, I had to guess at the crossing of DEBI and TEMAS but E seemed like the obvious choice.

Beaglelover 8:08 AM  

In what part of the country is applesauce hokum?

Nate 8:11 AM  

I got the big themer acrosses without thinking, so this should have been a total cinch for me. And yet, it wasn't. I got tripped up in the SARONG-RUT-OPE-GNU universe. And the DEBI/TEMAS crossing was no peach either.

"______, poetically." is just the absolute worst, every time. It's even worse than a directional clue, I think. OPE is not a thing. Don't pretend that OPE is a thing. I understand that puzzling is a tricky thing, and that sometimes you just need some vowels. But man, we have to have something better than OPE. OPE!

Amy 8:11 AM  

as a close reader of this blog, i was sure Rex would like this one for its poppy pop culture references (sxsw, friends, madmax, indiana jones etc.) and colloquialisms, kicks butt. and forgive for weird hokum, forced insists upon. wrong again!

L 8:21 AM  

Thank you! I don't get it.

chefbea 8:21 AM  

Tough puzzle. @chefwen...I guess all good chefs think alike...I too thought it said galoshes !!!.
Surprised Rex didn't mention Kiwi!!! I do like a good club sandwich!!

Jonathan Alexander 8:49 AM  

Naticked at tEma dEbi cross. Guessed that it was Debi, TEMA???!!! that about summed up the awful of this puzzle along with TWPS

Two Ponies 8:52 AM  

Feels like I did a different puzzle than @Rex.
It was lots of fun. Interesting words like putrid, perish, and sarong.
The phrasing of the riddle was lovely.
I learned a new word - cuesta.
@ Randy, Thanks for the new way to define why Steely Dan never quite rang true for me. Sort of like Carly Simon. Yacht Rock!
@ Beaglelover, I've never said applesauce but I suppose if you live somewhere in between the right and left coasts you have heard some word like this from people taught not to use bad language.

DBlock 8:55 AM  

And how long has it been since Debi Mazur was on Entourage??
She's about to start her 4th season on Younger, a truly absurd show that my daughter loves. She plays the BFF of a 40 something that passes for a 20 something. Essentially an extended version of fantasy island. Forgive the exegesis. I thought the puzzle was lame. They were airlines not airports.

Irene 9:00 AM  

For me the truly ugh moment was the cross of IROC and ISET.
Really? And on a Tuesday?

Alex T 9:04 AM  

Anyone who watched Jeopardy! last night would know that Delta Airlines got their name from serving the MISSIPPIDELTA when they first got started, so that clue was either timely or a failure.

Bob C 9:10 AM  

I didn't mind the short fill too much because 21A fell first, followed quickly by 50A and then I got the theme. Kind of unusual to do the themers first and then the rest but it made for a quick solve.

Noticed PRIDE AND JOY, a rather non-MISSISSIPPI DELTA blues song by late Austin "SOUTH BY SOUTHWEST" native S.R.V. His "Couldn't Stand the Weather" video is noteworthy for the HIGH WINDS (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nO23B5C_Mcw).

Mohair Sam 9:12 AM  

Well you learn something in the puzzle every day. Most of you learned CUESTA - I learned that MANCHESTER UNITED and Tottenham Hotspur each consist of 16 letters. While applying Wite'Out Lady M mumbled that nobody west of Ireland had ever even heard of my blasted 'Spurs.

Our oldest lives in Egg Harbor Township, NJ and uses TWP abbreviation on his return address all the time, it's legit. Hurricane before HIGH WINDS cost us forever. It's AUDREY Hepburn month on TCM, I'm glued to the TV. I guess I'm alone in enjoying the silly riddle at 36a. TEMAS?

John Fischer 9:18 AM  

@rexparker , I'll hold 'ideate' down while you punch it in the face. Repeatedly.

BarbieBarbie 9:31 AM  

I hate IDEATE too. Corporate-speak. A completely unnecessary word.

Sir Hillary 9:37 AM  

Decent enough for a Tuesday. I grew up listening to "AJA" (Steely Dan KICKSBUTT) at my house which was near a hilly street called La CUESTA. TEMAS was new to me, but I do like a Jobim composition called "Tema Jazz".

I think @LMS, as usual, is onto a cool idea -- phrases in which the "terminal" part of the themer is an actual airport. Unfortunately, I can't think of another example offhand.

mathgent 9:44 AM  

@Thomoso808: I had the same experience. I don't know Steely Dan's music but AJA has been in the puzzle at least twice, I think. I also blanked on EDA.

As a San Franciscan, happy to see ASSISI, the town of our patron saint.

I think that there is a city in California named La Cuesta.

I enjoyed it. The constructor seems like a bright guy.

Anonymous 9:47 AM  

Applesauce had me confused, wasn't aware that is a slang term for B.S. , going to start using that as my goto.

Tita A 9:50 AM  

@George B...you can never, ever post at 6:51am etc and open with "late to the party"... That's reserved for folks who post post-midnight the day of the puzzle. Are you trying to give us late-risers a complex?

I've hiked the Shawangunks CUESTA countless times, but never heard that word. Thought I was up on my geology terminology.

Was really bored by the Bush clue after I wrote in brUsh. How cool is it that you can add an R to those letters and get two synonyms for the word? Well, brUsh isn't precisely a synonym, but it's close!

I used to fly Northwest to the orient... they had dropped the Orient from their name by then, but they had great routes, and, they had the best ff program anywhere.

Fun to have IMLATE in an air travel theme.

Nancy 9:53 AM  

The most useful word, ever, that I didn't know and discovered in a crossword puzzle is CUESTA. Where have you been all my life, CUESTA? All those daunting hills I have slogged my way up and almost fallen and broken my neck on the way down -- and I had no idea that your "gentle side" was there all along, completely hidden from me. Ah, CUESTA. I'll be seeking you out for the rest of my life. Truly I will. I notice that you're Rex's Word of the Day. Well, you're mine, too. Soon-to-be-beloved CUESTA.

As for the rest of the puzzle: one of the crunchiest Tuesdays I've ever done. Which means I loved it. Not for the TEMA, which I didn't even notice and don't really "get", since I haven't read any comments yet. But for the subtlety of the clues. I had to do a lot of thinking today. At 11D, I wrote in DO GO ON much too quickly, but immediately changed to DO TELL. And I had ASHCAN before ASHBIN at 43D. Oh, and I had a DNF at the crossing of the car make (22D) and the SVU actor 34A) But that's OK. When it's two obscure names, I simply pronounce the puzzle "Solved". Always have, always will. Because I DNC. Despite that cross, however, I thought this was a nice, challenging puzzle -- especially for a Tuesday.

Blue Stater 9:59 AM  

Absolutely outrageous. Full of mistakes, as amply demonstrated above, and Thurs-Fri level of difficulty to boot.

jberg 10:01 AM  

Mixed feelings. I loved the themes in their own right; didn't know ICE T was in Law and Order, but at least I knew his name once I figured out how to parse it. But CUESTA??? And when you talk about music in English you say "themes." The tempo words have acquired additional connotations so we often use Italian, but that's different.

Isn't there a magazine named CINÉ?

Tita A 10:05 AM  

I also need to IDEATE on TWPS. Does any state other than neighboring New Jersey have them?
A term that has always annoyed me. I mean, do we have ctyships? Villageships? No. We don't. Because "village" is a perfectly good word all by its lonesome. So is "city".
Let me try it out on township...town...what do you know...that works perfectly fine on its own too!

THAT -ship is as unnecessary as the as the -at- of commentator. Does anyone commentate? No. They comment. So what's wrong with perfectly normal-sounding commentor.

End of rant.

DBlock 10:14 AM  

Ditto on hating IDEATE and forgot to include in my morning screed
Grew up in PA
Townships big there

Stuart Showalter 10:17 AM  

Haters gotta hate.
Rex gotta hate.

GILL I. 10:18 AM  

Challenging indeed. I took off like a bat outa hell and came to a halt in the lower extremities. Oh, boy did that HURRICANE hold me up. I knew it was wrong but couldn't think of anything else. IDOL AGING finally helped me get the HIGH. WINDS was a guess.
@mathgent...There's a CUESTA Inn in San Louis Obispo! I guessed CUESTA because it means hill in Spanish and I already had the C from the sneeze.
Add me to the wanting PRIzed something before getting my favorite PRIDE AND JOY. I wish it had been clued with Marvin Gaye.
@Mary Perry...Me too! I've always liked SOUTHWEST Airlines "Just Plane Smart" and humor that gets the edge off. At one point in my travel life, DELTA was my favorite domestic airline. I won't fly it anymore, nor UNITED if I can help it. Both airlines don't give a squat about their customers. I'd rather take Amtrak.
Other than being a tough Tuesday, I enjoyed the work-out.
What is someone trying to say when they say applesauce?....Kiss my BUTT? You're full of it?

Tim Aurthur 10:19 AM  

Rare Tuesday visit to Natick: IRO? and I?ET, not being into SUVs or SVUs. Is the car what that old commercial - "Like IROC" - was about?

Anonymous 10:20 AM  

DELTA stands for Don't Expect Luggage To Arrive

RooMonster 10:35 AM  

Hey All !
Pretty cool finding four 16 themers that basically make sense, and still only 38 blocks.

Liked this puz overall. Had my famous one-letter DNF at TEMAn/MALAYn. SAD. When do Indigenous people clues end in S? :-)

No trouble with that C in IROC/ICET, as I knew them both. #Humblebrag. Having 18 threes with four 16 grid spanners in an oversized grid isn't bad. Liked ONE AM and IN TWO in one puz. Just because. Light dreck, IMO.


Anonymous 10:51 AM  

Plaint? You're not an attorney. Hell you're not even British. You'd do well to stick to misdiagnosing the policalal clime ( Har!)

As for Rex getting his panties in a twist over the LGBT stuff, Really? Does this surprise anyone?

Anonymous 11:09 AM  

Methinks that the violence IDEATEd by Michael today is due to a flashback of his Bush Derangement Syndrome.

Mooncalf 11:11 AM  

Including clues/answers such as LGBT into everyday life
is a prime example of the erosion of a society.
The constant subtle infusion of abnormal behavior
creates an atmosphere of acceptance towards a mental
illness that has no place in the natural world.

Joseph Michael 11:11 AM  

This is one of the hardest Tuesdays I can recall. More turbulence than I'm used to in early week.

With TEMAS, TWPS, AJA, IROC, DEBI, and more, I had to keep my seatbelt on through the entire flight and ending up crashing in the end thanks to ICE T and that "Classic" Camero, which I have never heard of.

Had a hard time understanding 36d until I finally realized that the "I" in the riddle was the KEY talking about itself.

Liked KICKS BUTT, the shout out to the ever divine Ms. Hepburn, and the clue for LGBT.

Wondered what happened to American Airlines in the theme, then read the constructor's notes on Jeff Chen's site. It was apparentlly too hard to fit in and he opted for the (disappointing) AIRPORT TERMINALS instead.

Thanks for the workout, Jason, and for the word CUESTA. I just wish there weren't so many proper nouns.

Anoa Bob 11:12 AM  

First thing that caught my eye was the atypical black square pattern. Then I saw those four 16-letter grid-spanners and knew that the fill would probably not be the PRIDE AND JOY of this one. Maybe not PUTRID, but less than IDEAl.

Speaking of which, xwordinfo tells me IDEATE has appeared in the NYT puzzle 116 times over the years, 36 of them in the Shortz era. The first time was 1945, clued as "Make mental plans". So plan on seeing it again (and again) in a puzzle near you.

Thanks @Jeff Anderson for the comment from Liz Gorski about reveals being lame. I think it depends. If the theme is obvious from early on, as it was for me today, the reveal can be superfluous at best, and a waste of grid space. Maybe another phrase TERMINAting with an AIRLINE name would have worked better here.

For me, however, the best puzzs are those where the theme is not obvious, or is well-disguised, so that the reveal is AKEY part of the solve and gives us the much sought-after "aha" experience, quite the opposite of lame.

LGBT is so yesterday, right? (Or should I say AMIRITE?)

Speed Racer 11:13 AM  

IROC - International Race of Champions.
And that is no applesauce.

François Truffaut 11:14 AM  

@Quasimojo - Any French dictionary will provide a definition of ciné as some form of A familiar abbreviated form of cinema. So you can complain another thousand times that ciné doesn't mean cinema, but you'll be wrong each and every time.

mathgent 11:31 AM  

There doesn't seem to be a city in California named La Cuesta. I may have been thinking of the name William Randolph Hearst gave to his castle. La Cuesta Encantada. The Enchanted Hill.

Tita 11:34 AM  

(On an anon machine here...)

@Nancy...love your CUESTA commentary. Hilarious!

Also laughed out loud at your bike phobia you described recently with the "on your left" shouts prompted.


Don't. Feed. Trolls.

Colby 11:41 AM  

Tough Tuesday

Mohair Sam 11:43 AM  

@mathgent - You should never have confessed. If there ain't no La Cuesta, California there oughta be. Great sound to it. I could tell any California politician that it was my home town and they'd just smile and nod and tell me it was a great place to be from.

Anonymous 11:47 AM  

@Mooncalf, You need to watch more National Geographic. Nature is infinitely weird and wonderful from gender bending critters to a single celled organism that has seven sexes.

Anonymous 11:50 AM  

seven sexes.

Aketi 11:55 AM  

@malsdemare, nice story yesterday and I'm never going to blame someone who puts in a disclaimer.

Even though I've worn SARONGS, it always seems a bit RISKy no matter how tightly I wrap them.

Malsdemare 11:58 AM  

No matter how often he appears in a puzzle, I always fail on ICET. Which is awful because I knew IROk; Mr mal's graduation gift was a '69 GTO that we drove for years and now, as a retired boomer, has a Camarro SS sitting in the garage unless it's a gorgeous sunny day. So I know my muscle cars and still dnf'd. Crap!

Otherwise? It's a puzzle, it made me think in a bunch of places, groan in others, but still it's a puzzle. I'm happy.

BTW, for those who've asked about my surgery and pain. I had a steroid injection in my knee yesterday (got injured by a 75 lb dog launching herself at supine me) and apparently the knee bone's connected to the shoulder bones, and arm bones and neck bones 'cause I am mostly painfree for the first time in five months. This will wear off in a few weeks and we'll see where I am then. But right now, the gods are in the heavens and all is right with the world.

Cassieopia 12:04 PM  

@nancy - fab Ode to a Cuesta, made me :)

As for me, I absolutely MUST stop thinking H.H. Munro whenever the crossword is clearly asking for rice wine.

old timer 12:10 PM  

My thought after completing this (with some help) was, "Who will PUT me RID of this abortion of a puzzle?" IROC? TEMA? DEBI? Even ICET whom we have all heard of but not in that context.

I suppose the TERMINALS is a reference to the fact that the three airlines are the termination of their respective answers. That's an explanation, but not good enough to justify the stupid theme.

Like OFL, I did not know that CUESTA has a defined meaning in geography/geology. But I think anyone who has driven 101 from the Bay Area to LAX is familiar with the famous CUESTA Grade, rising right out of San Luis Obispo and taking you to Paso Robles and ultimately the Salinas Valley. It is, for me, the most sharply defined boundary between Southern and Northern California. And in a miracle of engineering, the Southern Pacific put its Coast Line route right there, too. If you ever take Amtrak's marvelous Starlight between LAX and Oakland you will be awed as you round those curves and look backwards or forwards as the rest of the train can be seen. You would have been even awed-er if you had the good fortune as I did to ride in the rear observation car of the late, lamented Coast Daylight, drinking a soda or (like my mother) a tasty cocktail.

Mooncalf 12:12 PM  

If all there was on this earth were Tetrahymena we would not be here solving puzzles.
If we continue to tolerate what is abnormal for most other species I guess that will be all that is left.
Thanks for the links.

Kath320 12:19 PM  

As we neared the end, Husband and I had some concern that 55A was going to have something to do with airport urinals, and if so, wondered how Rex would handle it.

Masked and Anonymous 12:22 PM  

Oh, what the hey. Fill had a few desperate spots, but nothin TERMINAL. Theme was ok TuesPuz fare, but the reveal was kinda TERMINAL. In this case, the M&A staff recommends splatzin (something 8-long)AMERICAN into 55-A, ditch the revealer, and celebrate with a cinnamon roll or two. Woulda also fought to have UNITED cross somethin more colorful, like BEATUP or KICKSBUTT.

Ode de Speration award winners, by length:

* weeject: EDA. Coincidentally, was considerin this pup as a runtpuz entry, just last night. Didn't go with it, as wanted to be able to sleep that night. Made it a nice gimme today, tho. [Unlike DEBI.]

* 4-letterer: TWPS. har

* 5-letterer: TEMAS. As in: All My Emas Live in TEMAS?

* 6-letterer: CUESTA. Is at least in the Official M&A Research Dept. Dictionary. [Unlike TEMAS.] So … sorta ok, but still subtly desperate.

Exceptional weeject stack work in this puz. Glad they went 16x15 on the grid size, to accommodate four [count em] of the lil darlins. KICKS BUTT.

Liz, Liz, Liz. [Gorski, Gorski, Gorski.] Hard for m&e to hear that revealers are to go the way of the PEWIT. Tough rule to generalize to all puzs … especially untitled ones. Especially since yer most recent NYTPuz [TuesPuz 23 Feb 2016] had a revealer. Confuses the M&A.

Thanx, Mr. Flinn. And besta luck with that there special prosecutor investigation. Maybe take the fifth, if asked why yer theme was noticeably un-AMERICAN. Fun puz to solve, with lotsa U's in it, so U should get off the hook with just a warnin. [If there is any justice in the world …] The good news: can plead Patrick Berry Usage Immunity, on AJA.

Masked & Anonym007Us


Joe Bleaux 12:25 PM  

@Nancy, Do go on! I had to ashcan those exact two writeovers myself.

Andrew Heinegg 12:32 PM  

The answer is NYC from many years ago by my recollection. But, it was so many years ago that I believe seeing it in this puzzle was the first time I have seen or heard it referenced in at least 50 years.

ScreamingEagle 12:43 PM  

I've been involved with music (much of it classical) for over 20 years of my life, and I've never heard of TEMAS. I even googled it and couldn't find anything pertaining to music. I don't really think that's a legitimate thing for a crossword, let alone a Tuesday-level one. Especially with the "melodic" word in there, I kept thinking TUNES. Ugh.

And yeah, I agree, weak theme and even worse fill. After getting MANCHESTER UNITED right away with no crosses, I was thinking "okay, it'd be cool if these were common 'place + airline that flies there' phrases" (I have no clue if United flies to Manchester), and was willing to give Mississippi a pass (I'm sure Delta flies there somewhere), but then was wondering where "Southby" was...

Malsdemare 12:44 PM  

@Mountain Mike, great catch on DELTA to MANCHESTER, and so on. I missed that entirely; too busy saying to myself "M I SS I SS I PP I." That elevates the quality of the puzzle greatly.

@Loren, Oh to have your facility with words. "Assist, Colonist" indeedy.

@ Nancy. What Tita said. But I have mixed feelings about "on your left." I usually have my described-elsewhere kamekazi dog with me, six foot leash, and I like some warning there's something overtaking us. I like the little bell, preferably rung at a distance that gives me time to get her in heel position. But on your left, same warning distance, works. Doesn't work if you're two feet away.

Robert A. Simon 12:47 PM  

The first time I heard the word "ideate," I was a beginning copywriter at Leo Burnett here in Chicago. One of the Lord High Creative Directors instructed us to go forth and do precisely that, and I thought to myself, "Boy, is that pretentious, or what?" Nothing in forty years has changed my mind. And while I have the attention of the three of you who read or write comments this late--sorta like being the guy who runs a marathon in eleven hours flat--every time I disagree with Rex or, more likely, think he's being pissy, I remember that the role of a critic isn't just to be critical, it's to hold his or her own standards up high every single day so everybody can see them and then compare whatever it is--a movie, a book, a meal, a puzzle--to those standards and never give in. To the degree that we like/agree with any critic is the degree to which we agree to the standards and how unyielding the critic is. I disagree with Rex often, but I love how he stands his ground.

Two Ponies 12:50 PM  

Dobie Gillis was in the puzzle recently.
Got the DVD from Netflix.
Easy to see how this might have been a template
for so many sit-coms yet to come.
Fresh young face and love interest looked familiar.
Roll credits and she was Tuesday Weld.
Will now be looking to see who else had early starts
to their careers in The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis besides
Bob Denver.

Teedmn 1:08 PM  

I know who ICE-T is but having never seen Law & Order anything, I didn't get that cross with the classic Camaro - I thought of @ACME's IROd and IROn and stuck with the second one, sigh.

I'm glad everyone else had the same reaction to TEMAS - post-Googling led me only to Spanish themes and a really weird Urban Dictionary hit (aren't they all?)

@Nancy, I can now imagine you taking a siesta on the gentle side of a CUESTA in Central Park!

I had Hailstorm first as did @GeorgeB and for the same reason. A little over a week ago, they had to get the snow plows out to push the hail off the streets in a suburb near me. And already, I see new roofs going up on houses that were in the storm's path.

@Tita A - good to see you back, it's been a while since I saw your comments. TWPS are everywhere in Minnesota. My hometown sat in Clark Township, just south of Dunbar Township where there was no town. I'm afraid I don't know what kind of governing body runs a township - but I think the township halls do provide rural voting precincts.

I liked the double meaning of TERMINALS with the airlines. Thanks, Jason Flinn.

ps; @M&A, thanks for NOT using EDA in a runt!

Anonymous 1:26 PM  

R.A. Simon

I'm not sure I agree with your idea of what's essential to criticism. I want insight, not intransigence from my critics.

You were right about that creative direction. He was pretentious. I'm guessing you never used ideate in any copy-written or spoken--that you produced.

Voomed 1:30 PM  

Ok obviously I'm an idiot. I don't understand AKEY riddle, yet seems everyone else does? Please explain! TY

Carola 1:36 PM  

Today I'm hanging out with those who failed the ICET test. Also joined the few who first went with "DO go on" and @George Barany (fellow Midwesterner) with the obvious "Hail storm." And "rev" before AMP.

I really liked the theme answers, but I felt the reveal was a little wan, having been too DIM to recognize the play on words with TERMINALS. I agree that AIRline seems like a better way to go.

CUESTA was new to me - Wisconsin having had an interesting glaciation history, I thought I was up on the most important topographic terms of the landscape, with our drumlins, eskers, and moraines and such. But no. It turns out that I'm bracketed by CUESTAS to the east and west; in fact, I learned that the upland to the west "consists of two cuestas and one monadnock." I feel that Lewis Carroll could have made something of that.

BarbieBarbie 2:07 PM  


@mathgent, whooo, Hearst Castle:
I saw a Madonna / Upon my honah / in a seventeenth-century niche; / .....[etc.] - Dorothy Parker

For me this was easy, for some reason. Fast-ish time, but mostly I am unable to relate to many of these comments because I never had to read many of the the clues. Must have been total wheelhouse overlap.

I've now heard two Gorski opinions about the only possible correct way for puzzles to be. Both of which seem open to other views. I like doing the puzzle in order and coming to the revealer and looking backward for a little Aha frisson. And, per the older discussion on "plagiarism" (reminder: it wasn't), it's not as clear to me as it is to Liz that constructors should do the editor's job for him/her. Flex up, Liz.

Anonymous 2:25 PM  

@Voomed, you can pass through the most impenetrable of doors if you gently use A KEY.

QuasiMojo 2:31 PM  

@Francoi Truffaut, I never said the word "ciné" doesn't exist as an abbreviation of cinéma, as in movie house or motion picture. What I said is that it does not mean "filmdom."

Jack (of Crossnerds) 4:17 PM  

I finished the puzzle thinking this was one of the best Tuesdays I'd done in a while. All those lovely long crosses, and I thought the clues were very clever. My co-host on the show agreed... interesting that both Rex and Jeff Chen didn't care for it.

Unknown 4:24 PM  

Can we also talk for a minute about 15D? Shiism? Really??

Martin 4:47 PM  

Is TEMAS a good entry? Of course not. Is it made up? Of course not. Here's the Webster's Third New International entry for "tema." Note that it even documents "temas" as a plural. It doesn't flag it as a foreign word (it's not in italics). The etymology is Italian, but it's no less an English word than "piano." Less common, for sure, but a thing nonetheless.

Blackeyedsusan 6:31 PM  

I worked in a government office in New York State. Whenever anyone came in and talked about TWPS, I knew they were from New Jersey. New York has towns; New Jersey has townships. To be more precise, New York State is divided into counties, and counties are divided into cities and towns. Towns can be further divided into villages.

Anonymous 7:01 PM  

All you LGBT alphabet soup folk won't be so tolerant of all the refugees you want to waltz across your precious open borders when Sharia law is declared and they throw you from the rooftops.

Anonymous 7:20 PM  

I didn't hate this at all. Unusual. I usually agree with Rex.

I do not, however, agree with 7:01. Just to be clear.

Voomed 7:25 PM  

TY. Get it now, but not impressed by this riddle. Not one I'd ever repeat! But I will remember it for next time. Ugh.

Anonymous 7:34 PM  

I know you're telling the truth because you're cocksure and in error.
I live in Falls Township, PA.
Typical government employee... so sure yethat so wrong.

Anonymous 8:25 PM  

Please don't stab horses in the neck.

Music Man 12:17 AM  

Anyone actually google tema? Does not google very well. Even with adding music to the search

Assisi Cuesta Malays 2:35 AM  

IDEATE seems like the word CONVERSATE which you hear all the time (Well, at least I do, as I'm a "Judge Judy" addict).

@anon 10:20
I love acronyms like Don't Expect Luggage To Arrive!!!!!
That's like Fix It Again Tony for FIAT, etc.

Altho I'm taking SOUTHWEST tomorrow and flying back on DELTA to my beloved Minneapolis.
On my trip home from the ACPT, Delta managed (on a direct flight!) to break off my luggage wheel. I was lamenting how was I going to get home (it was a four wheeler, so I could tip it but not the right direction) loudly...

Luckily I was cursing Delta on the escalator and this guy who works for the airlines simply said "Go back to the Lost Luggage desk and they'll give you a new suitcase."

Sure enough, they wheeled out a same-sized suitcase and even apologized for the color. It was BRAND NEW, still with tags. And the woman was lovely.

So I wrote to Delta complimenting this service and the gal, but saying I wanted my luggage handling fee refunded on principle (Bec I'm still pissed about that new charge and plus why should I have paid for them to mishandle my luggage???)
AND altho the new bag was terrific for getting home, it wasn't as nice as the luggage I lost (and had to leave behind).

I was amazed. I wrote late on a Friday night and by next morning I had an email saying they'd refund the luggage fee and replace the bag cost... how much had I paid for it and when?

I was honest and said it was years back and the list price for that piece was $200 but that I had probably gotten it on sale.

So they said they'd refund an additional $80.

I thanked them for that, tho I thought it was an odd arbitrary amount and I made a joke that it was better than being dragged off the plane (It was the same week as the United PR disaster).

Next thing I know, they also threw in $100 coupon on my next Delta flight (thus the trip home from Mpls)!!!!

So for one broken wheel, I got a $25 luggage fee refund, $80 for luggage differential, brand new suitcase and a $100 flight credit
(for a NYC-SFO $150 flight!!!!) So I made out like a bandit.

Moral of story, if they ruin your luggage, they actually can replace it THEN AND THERE. I had no idea and I've had many a ruined suitcase (Southwest once insisted a long tear was already there!!! How would I have packed???!!!)

And if you combine your complaint with a compliment it costs them nothing to throw in a credit, esp these days when everyone has had enough with the dreadful customer service of airlines.

Blackeyedsusan 3:05 PM  

To Anonymous at 7:34PM. - you probably won't read this because I'm posting a day late. But I rarely post, and it's kind of a kick in the teeth to have someone react so meanly to my comment. Being right across the river from New Jersey not far from the George Washington and Tappan Zee bridges to that lovely state, we did business with people from New Jersey. I did not mean to imply no other state has townships; of course I know they do. But we didn't have people coming in from Pennsylvania - rather a long trip for a personal appearance. So the people who came in talking about townships were invariably from New Jersey. And too bad you have such a low opinion of government workers. I served my community well for many years, as did many of my colleagues.

Allie Fritz 3:49 PM  

I agree with you, Blackeyedsusan! Unnecessary meanness, and your point was clear to me. Don't let Anonymous get you down.
I moved from New York to Ohio and was surprised to start seeing signs for "townships," which are, in fact, abbreviated as "twp" on some road signs, and I always think "twerp" in my head when I see one.

thefogman 9:58 AM  

A little bit on the easy side even for a Tuesday. I had ASHcaN before ASHBIN and bLts before CLUB. The theme became obvious early when I solved MANCHESTER UNITED and MISSISSIPPI DELTA. But there was nothing to it after that. This puzzzle needed another element to get it off the ground. Sadly, it was grounded by the fog of its own blandness.

spacecraft 10:15 AM  

Definitely not Tuesday fare. CUESTA? Are you kidding me? I mean, the crosses rammed it in, but really! I often wonder what weird language geology borrowed many of their words from. Eskers and moraines, oh my! And TEMAS?? Yikes!

But that's not the only reason this feels Thursdayish. Some of the clues are...I dunno...off. Or maybe it was my brain that was off. It played pretty hard throughout, so I agree with OFL's rating.

No question about the DOD: one of my all-time faves AUDREY Hepburn--especially in that moment in "Roman Holiday" when she pronounces,

"You have my permission to withdraw."

Gotta love it. Also gotta go. Decent brain workout, but outlying fill. Par.

Burma Shave 10:21 AM  




Longbeachlee 12:36 PM  

Count me in the hailstormers. I had trouble letting go.

Diana,LIW 1:08 PM  

HOKUM??? Applesauce??

Bill Butler says he never heard it outside of crosswords, so I guess we might see this again.

Just back from eye doc - must rest same. See ya.

Diana, LIW

leftcoastTAM 1:57 PM  

Grid spanning themers and revealer were pretty easy, but some of the fill were not.

CUESTA and TEMAS needed crosses for sure, while IROC/ICET cross, the last piece to go, took some staring at before recognition.

SHIISM had a strange look, too, while the "swift steeds", usually called ARABian, are also ARABS it appears.

The middle section on the West side was the most resistant part of the puzzle.

If this was a Tuesday, have to wonder what Wednesday will be like but that's fine with me. Crunchiness is a good thing any time.

rain forest 2:45 PM  

As I begin this, Mitch McConnell is urging senators to vote yes to debate a shit health bill, just because the Republicans really really want to have a tax reduction for the very wealthy. Turns my stomach, as does his use of "momentarily" to mean "in a moment" when of course it means "for a moment".

hand hand
^ ^ <= hands being thrown up (sorry. End of discussion which I
| | guess I'm excluded from because: Canadian. But: Trump.)

I liked this puzzle and found it medium. ICET/IROC both gimmes. Thought the clue for LGBT to be spot on. Straightforward theme impressive for the length of the themers, and a revealer which works for me. Light dreck despite the number of 3s. AJA is a great album.

Excellent graphics by @rainforest, doncha think?

rondo 3:30 PM  

Mighta gone for hailstorm except I already had gimme SOUTHBYSOUTHWEST filled in. Don’t understand OFL’s issue with AIRPORTTERMINALs as they are indeed arr and dep locales.

Tip o’hat to poster above mentioning SRV tune PRIDEANDJOY. It KICKSBUTT. But to the one posting about Steely Dan’s age inappropriateness, if you listen to the words it’s just the opposite; the “fine Colombian”? That’s another matter.

TWPS are very common if you deal with legal descriptions (Section, TWP, Range) of property at all. Generally 6 miles by 6 miles, 36 sq. mi., with one of those sq. mi. sections devoted to a school, back when they were created. In MN all organized TWPS are governed by a town board. They hold elections in March rather than Nov. Unorganized TWPS, though few, are just that and found up north where population is very sparse. I know as much or more about TWPS as I do tar.

HOKUM: Gloria Steinem founded SHIISM.

I’m guessing it’s the male version of a SARONG that leaves the chest bared. Unfortunately not so with yeah baby Dorothy Lamour. AUDREY Hepburn of course the puz yeah baby today.

Nice puz, IMHO. Does not belong in the ASHBIN.

rondo 3:38 PM  

My aunt Judy did, however, found Judy-ISM.

Larry Jordan 3:45 PM  

Warren Beatty.

wcutler 4:44 PM  

I feel so disheartened when I'm DNF on a Tuesday. I even finished last Friday's puzzle. In the mid-West, my only answer was MAHI; I had 3x3 blank squares. Well, I had SOYA instead of SAKE. It's not Mr. Flynn's fault that all I could think of for 4 down was KICKSASS but couldn't come up with KICKSBUTTS. Is the noun in the expression even ever plural? No-one says "kicks asses".

I was expecting "arrival and departure locales" to mean airport names, so was disappointed in the revealer clue, since MISSISSIPPI is not an airport name, and I thought SOUTHBY was probably not an airport name. I was willing to think MANCHESTER might be.

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