Ancient Greek colonnade / SAT 6-16-18 / Vacation destinations off coast of Venezuela / Japanese lunch option / path of overnight star / Flawlessly styled in modern slang / Former reality TV show first hosted by Anderson Cooper / Argentine soccer star, informally / Letters before Q

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Constructor: Sam Trabucco

Relative difficulty: Easy (5:48)


THEME: none

Word of the Day: CLOVIS (20D: First king to unite all the Frankish tribes) —
Clovis (LatinChlodovechus; reconstructed Frankish*Hlōdowig c. 466 – 27 November 511) was the first king of the Franks to unite all of the Frankish tribes under one ruler [wikicluing!], changing the form of leadership from a group of royal chieftains to rule by a single king and ensuring that the kingship was passed down to his heirs. He is considered to have been the founder of the Merovingian dynasty, which ruled the Frankish kingdom for the next two centuries. (wikipedia)
• • •

This was fabulous. It was so good that I'm not even that mad about a couple of really regrettable answers. The cluing was smart and sassy, and the fill was diverse and (often) contemporary. The whole thing was playful and fun, from the dad-joke "EXCUSE YOU!" (15A: Comment after a burp) to the clue on LGBT (10A: Letters before Q) (!) to the delicious BENTO BOX to the World Cup-relevant LEO MESSI (10D: Argentine soccer star, informally) to the weird trip down reality TV memory lane with "THE MOLE" (21A: Former reality TV show first hosted by Anderson Cooper) to, heck, even the clue on RING TOSS, which is perfectly misdirective (37D: Fair game). All that, and it was easier than usual, which always gives one a triumphant feeling. I got AZERA right off the bat, and that proved very helpful in giving me instant momentum. The "Z" wasn't immediately helpful (I was looking for ZENITH ... something), but, oddly, all the common letters in AZERA were. I had to get ZERO TO HERO entirely from crosses because, until the last square, I was totally misunderstanding what kind of "star" we were dealing with (2D: Path of an overnight star).



So let's look briefly at the regrettable answers. First, WIN AN OSCAR, which is about as EAT A SANDWICH an answer as I've ever seen in a grid. WIN AN EMMY / GRAMMY / TONY / SWEEPSTAKES / RACE  ... these are phrases one might say, but they are not tight, not standalone-worthy. So, for example, GET A LIFE, yes, GET A ROOM, yes, GET A POODLE, no (despite the fact that a human being might, in fact, GET A POODLE). The clue is also kind of dumb; it makes assumptions about what actors want to do (28D: What every actor would probably like to do). So that answer is a bit ridiculous ... whereas FAT ELVIS is just mean (36D: The King, late in his career). It's also not really a thing unless you clue it as the colloquial term for the Elvis stamp the public *didn't* vote for. Elvis definitely got fat, but FAT ELVIS was not a phrase of any standing until the whole stamp vote thing (26 years ago this month). FAT ELVIS is a loser in a national stamp vote. I could accept a stamp clue; but even then it's pretty insulting. Without a stamp clue, well, I OBJECT (19A: Court interruption). Also, I probably would've changed BEERY to LEERY because I just don't think anyone says BEERY (47D: Like pub patrons). But like I said, the rest of this thing sizzles so I'll take this one, FAT ELVIS, WIN AN OSCAR and all.
    Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

    P.S. waaaaaait a sec. Is a PALM tree the same as a palmetto? (26D: Image on the South Carolina flag)??? A quick perusal of the internet says ... not exactly: While they are all members of the Arecaceae family, palmettos (Sabal adans.) and palms are not the same plants." I see things called "palmetto palms," so maybe there's some common-parlance kind of way that this clue works, but ... it's the dang Palemetto State. Calling it just a PALMseems off.

    [Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]

    90 comments:

    jae 1:17 AM  

    Easier than yesterday’s for me. My only erasure was GEL INSerts before INSOLES (@M&A precious nanoseconds lost for ever).

    And, speaking of nanoseconds that’s about how long ON FLEEK was around 2 or 3 years ago. So, if you turned off your iPhone briefly in 2016 you should have no idea what it means. However, if you happened to watch “Food Network Star” that year (Season 12) it probably sounds familiar as that was the “cooking style” of the winning contestant...that season was like fingernails on a chalkboard...

    Anyway, as @Rex said, plenty of good stuff, but a tad too easy, liked it.

    Mark 1:34 AM  

    Started with LENOS and knew that the Roman road crossing LENOS, the crossroad so to speak, must be the famous APPIANWAY. Took me a while to get on the right road.

    puzzlehoarder 1:49 AM  

    I had a dnf due to BOSS at 2A. The clue went so far over my head that when I saw BASS in the xwordinfo solution I thought it was intended as slang for badass. I've been seeing too much SWOLE and ON FLEEK lately.

    The real problem is that I have a mental block about that word as a homonym for base. By itself I always see it as the fish or the ale. Yes I've been seeing it all my life but the problem persists especially when aplied to people.

    As soon as I saw those opera clues on the xwordinfo list it was like scales falling from my eyes.

    Where did I think this mythic OXE lived? Probably in the Himalaya with the yetis.

    Mike in Mountain View 1:57 AM  

    What Rex said. This was my fastest Saturday ever, more like a Tuesday or Wednesday time, almost twice as fast as a good Saturday for me. I'd actually prefer to have worked a little bit more, but the grid was filled with fun stuff.

    I'd never heard of ONFLEEK, but the crosses were fair. Last letter in was the "N" from the cross with NINE. Didn't know the highest score in Baccarat, either, but when I had _INE the "N" could hardly have been anything else.

    Graham 2:02 AM  

    Re: FATELVIS, and CHOKE COLLAR yesterday, and a lot of Rex’s objections, generally. Yes, these are bad things — mean to Elvis, mean to dogs, etc. But they are, in fact, “things,” to use the common vernacular. That is to say, they are phrases widely known and understood. Can constructors not use KIMJONGUN because he’s a brutal dictator? Or REVOLVER because it’s used to murder people?

    As we all know, HITLER was Time’s man of the year once. It’s not an honor — nor is it necessarily an honor to appear in a crossword. It means you’re notable, not that you’re good.

    Larry Gilstrap 2:38 AM  

    OFL likes it, and so do I. Nothing really easy about corners of the solve, but some things fell in early: I live with a NEOSPORIN advocate. Any skin injury, the product name comes up. How come every time my dermatologist goes digging or zapping, he sends me home with Vaseline?

    WIN AN OSCAR gets Beatles' immunity. Ringo covers Buck Owens's "Act Naturally," which features that phrase. "You cain't never tell..." Not certain I ever heard EAT A SANDWICH in the canon of either of those recording artists.

    I know my -ologies and -ologists, but the folks who study dreams is a new one on me. It's like somebody sneaked an "r" in the wine people.

    Elvis was a big deal, and apparently still is. FAT ELVIS is unfortunate. The guy kinda became a caricature of himself late in his career. My phone tells me he was 42 years old at his death, which is not really late in a career, for most artists. Who consciously TRIES TO sabotage their body? but it happens. Don't embiggen yourself physically! If you get an EGO BOOSTER from time to time, embrace it! Just click like; oops, wrong platform.

    Love the Italian TRIESTO, but am struggling with the clue. Kidding!

    As already stated this week, love the Elizabethan English of the KJV.

    Mike in Mountain View 2:43 AM  

    @Nancy. You're very welcome for the poem quotation. That poem made quite an impression on me, too.

    Charles Flaster 3:16 AM  

    Easy with a DNF at ON sLEEK. Never heard of it.
    Rex’s review was spot on.
    Loved the misdirection of I OBJECT.
    Liked RING adjacent to BINDER.
    Thanks ST

    chefwen 3:23 AM  

    Got quite a few long ones right away, WIN AN OSCAR was the first in and some wild guesses without any crosses was most helpful when proven to be correct. All combined this was a lot of fun and much easier (for me) than Friday’s puzzle which was a struggle. Had sign at 50D so that corner was a mess. I know I’ve heard ON FLEEK before, but why or where is a mystery plus I had that darn S in there. It took both of us to unscramble that corner.

    Great puzzle, loved it.

    chefwen 4:02 AM  

    Thank you @jae, that’s where I heard it, mystery solved.

    Anonymous 4:21 AM  

    Thanks to my 16 year old, I know ON FLEEK (and lit, woke, triggered, etc.) AZERA is discontinued, should be clued as such. LGBT clue was used exactly the same last year sometime, I remember b/c MNOP held me up forever. Easy to Medium for me.

    Scott Harris 4:25 AM  

    FATELVIS was a well-known phase like picasso’s blue Period. I accept it without objection. BEERY annoyed me. Will has a thing against pub patrons. They never just have one drink and go home.

    Loved SCOTTY POBOY Cross given that I’m a scott from New Orleans. A fast clean puzzle and I’m thrilled rex didn’t find fault with it.

    Cathy 4:27 AM  

    Great puzzle! Had a fun aha at LETTERS BEFORE Q.

    My only twitch was reading Rex. FAT ELVIS- Just mean, Pretty insulting.


    Had Elvis been a black woman he would have hit the roof.






    Loren Muse Smith 5:35 AM  

    I don’t really speak car, so I almost had a dnf with “Acura” for AZERA. When I finally remembered STOA and saw BEGIN, in inferred ZERO TO HERO (!) and got EGO BOOSTER.

    I guess compliments are ego boosters for sure, but I just want to run and hide under the bed when I get one. Well, when I get certain kinds. If you compliment me on my enviable weird noise repertoire or my knock-knock joke where I force you to say I eat cowp who, then my ego is boosted. If you think about it, BOOST is kind of a cousin of the contronym (like sanction). Svia, Jan Odall, Grr Mendel, Di Riviera, Nadin Rdimer have all had their EGOs boosted. Hah.

    @puzzlehoarder – me, too, with the BASS deal. I keep a spot on my wall for students to post complaints to the guy who oversees English. My favorite was from a couple of years ago, Kevin C, who wrote, Dear Owner of English, bass, bass, base. What’s the deal, man? Can you fix this? I was thrilled. This was exactly why I started the wall, to get them to notice the ridiculous spelling that is our language sometimes. Kevin is the one I used to joke with about weedate and weedeaten . He’s working on the pipeline now, the goal of most of my students, and making more than twice what I make.

    @Nancy, @Mike in Mountainview, @jberg - from yesterday. It’s embarrassing to admit I’m not moved by poetry. The beauty of “art” escapes me, and I feel so ashamed. But BUT there was that time at the Louvre when I turned and saw Georges de la Tour’s Joseph the Carpenter and was speechless. Also, my sister and I just saw Oceans 8 and when Lara’s Theme started playing during a scene, I was awash with feeling for what a beautiful melody that is. I decided it’s a Viennese waltz, and that’s what George Clooney and I will dance to instead of The Blue Danube. I know - both songs are probably pedestrian.

    I’ve written about this before, but, sure, “art” is pretty subjective. When I hit the dirt road driveway leading to my house and Owen and Hank are down at the metal shop waiting… when they turn on the BOOSTERs and run full-out next to my truck, their joy is a Thing that I feel, and my heart soars. That’s *my* poetry, I guess.

    “Back to school purchase” – jeans with holes above the three-inch mark so they break the dress code so the girl can whine and complain that she’s always targeted and it’s so unfair and she’s just gonna be home schooled so there. Girl. Bye.

    Nice to learn the word “oneirologist.” Dreams are fun only if you’re talking about your own. Listening to someone else’s dream is about as interesting as a Greek colonnade. But while I have your attention, last night I dreamed that my husband and I were looking at this ginormous house to buy in California – like 20 rooms – but it was oddish, and right before I woke, I was noticing this commode against a wall in one of the rooms. A working commode where you’d do your bidness right out in the open. And Patrick Merrell was the real estate agent showing us the house. See? My dream is Bor. Ing.

    Startling to learn the word “embiggen.” That EM part is a version of the EN in ENLARGE. The N changes to bilabial M because of the bilabial B that follows. I’ll pause while you write this down…. Can I go on? So anyway, that suffix en accomplishes what the prefix has already done. Make something stiff – stiffen (not enstiffen). Make something sick – sicken (not ensicken). It would follow that if you make something big – biggen. The em is superfluous. I’ll get Kevin to write a complaint. (And yeah, yeah, enliven, embolden, enlighten… are thumbing their nose at me. I’m just running my mouth ‘cause I don’t want to vacuum and clean the bathrooms ‘cause my daughter is coming home for a few weeks before she starts vet school and then I can ask her why Hank is limping.)

    Oh - just to clear up any creepiness, Owen and Hank are my dogs and not men who work on our farm.

    Hungry Mother 5:43 AM  

    No problem other than getting the “M” in THEMOLE. Pretty fast Saturday, but not easy for me.

    Lewis 6:17 AM  

    Two Sams in a row!

    Lots of spark in this one in the answers (i.e. EXCUSE YOU, ZERO TO HERO, BENTO BOX) and clues (DECAL, ZERO TO HERO, RING TOSS). VING, in case you're wondering, as I was, is short for Irving. It took the longest time for me to get PALM, even when I had the PA, and to get SUSHI because I kept seeing rolls as the kind that come in breadbaskets.

    There is a Kevin Spacey mini-theme, with "House of Cards" crossing WIN AN OSCAR (of which he's won two), as well as crossing ZERO TO HERO, of which he's the opposite.

    What a splendid zingy jump-start to my day, better than an alarm clock. Thank you for this, Sam!

    mathgent 6:28 AM  

    @LMS (5:35): Great! I love the ego boosting. Di Rivera!

    I'm with Rex. Not hard and good fun.

    But I have a couple of complaints. "Tub-thump" is not a good clue for ORATE. And it was mean to have a devilish question-mark clue for AHS (which I needed to get ZEROTOHERO).

    Two straight puzzles with only six Terrible Threes. Bravo!

    I seldom watch soccer but as a full-blooded Spaniard I was required to view Spain-Portugal yesterday. Happy I did, very exciting. I feel sorry for the Spanish goalie who fumbled a save. It occurred to me while watching that the definition of a goal in soccer and the definition of a touchdown in football both involve a ball breaking an imaginary plane.

    Kevin 7:05 AM  

    We have a PALMETTO tree in our flag in S.C., not a PALM. Palmetto trees are not just a type of palm tree. It would be like saying that an ant is the same thing as an anteater. Sure, they are both animals and have “ant” at the start, but they are not the same thing at all.

    QuasiMojo 7:06 AM  

    Fat Elvis was a moniker long before there was a stamp of him. I didn’t even know there was a stamp controversy. Never heard of The Mole and guessed The Dole. My knowledge of soccer stars ended with Shep Messing. Azera is an ugly name for a car. Sounds like a drug for people suffering from too many bad Dreams. Terrific puzzle all around, except for that Oscar one. They lost their importance and relevance around the time George C Scott refused his.

    kitshef 7:22 AM  

    Quite hard for me, including worst DNF in ages thanks to 1) Japanese cuisine, yet again 2) my complete inability to make sense of IOB__C_ at 19A c) RIOJA. Wound up with RIOlA/ANNa/BENkOBOX/IOBlaCk.

    Was able to get ON FLEEK only because I remember my hatred of it that last time it appeared in a crossword. I have yet to hear or see it in real life. On The other hand, ABC ISLANDS and FAT ELVIS were super.

    kitshef 7:28 AM  

    @Kevin - that was my first instinct, too. But it turns out a palmetto is a type of palm. So it's more like a clue that appears to want 'fire ant' and the answer being 'ant'.

    Aketi 7:35 AM  

    @pablo... If you didn’t notice @GILL I was awake last night & I always check the late night comments the next morning.

    Of all the answers to get hung up on I can’t believe I got to FATEL_IS before I slapped my head and plunked down the V for such an obvious answer. Of course, me being me, I saw the RING TOSS and kep thinking who is the KING of the RING? Clearly Ali wasn’t going to fill that one. I had FAT in there first and I thought, “no it’s not going to be a FAT someone is it?” and then I dropped the E in and stopped thinking about FAT KINGS.

    @LMS, I had fun imaging what Owen and Hank looked like BOOSTIng both before and after your reveal.

    RJ 7:42 AM  

    A DNF Saturday because of the LEOMESSI/THEMOLE cross. I know little to nothing about soccer. The NW corner was the worst for me because I had IAN instead of LOO and RXS instead of AHS. I also had the letter run before LGBT.

    I completely missed the FATELVIS era and since I would love to live near a pub - not a dive bar - I had filled LOCAL on my first pass. I don't think of pub goers as BEERY. It certainly isn't an EGOBOOSTER.


    I have to go in to work today, so Beam Me Up, SCOTTY (and yes, I know this phrase was never actually spoken on TOS)!

    Z 7:52 AM  

    @QuadiMojo - I beg to differ. It was the 1992 stamp vote that brought FAT ELVIS into the lexicon as a stand alone thing. The phrase was surely around before 1992, but the USPS is responsible for making it crossworthy.

    Anonymous 7:53 AM  

    I rarely comment here, but as a former wine professional, I can’t tolerate RIOJA. RIOJA production is mostly red, but white RIOJA is one of the most famous and distinctive styles of white wine coming out of the entire Iberian peninsula. And RIOJA rosé is freaking delicious. Is RIOJA production mostly red? Yes. So why not clue it as such?
    This is like all the times ASTI is clued as if it was just another sparkling dry white wine, as opposed to a lightly effervescent dessert wine.
    WS has the resources of the NYT at his disposal—and the ability to use Google, I presume? Or just call Eric Asimov or Flo Fabricant and run these clueless wine clues by them, maybe?
    It’s sloppy, like me after too much RIOJA.

    Space Is Deep 8:00 AM  

    ONFLEEK? Never heard of it. Fortunately the crosses were doable. Easy/medium for me.

    Carola 8:09 AM  

    Tough for me and DNF - my overnight star lasted only for one night, so went from ZERO TO zERO (admittedly the crossing AzS for doctors' orders made no sense, but I threw up my hands). I also slowed myself down with "tags" as the writing on the wall and Slug before SWIG. Had repressed ON FLEEK. EGO BOOSTERs included the no-crosses-needed ABC ISLANDS, PALM, BENTO BOX. I liked RING next to BINDER.

    pabloinnh 8:13 AM  

    Nice to know some folks are still up at night (hi @Aketi, hola @GILL I) and that my little observations are not just flung into the void somewhere, which is often how I felt in a classroom.

    Today was almost a how-fast-can-you-write day, and I agree that it had lots of fun clues. But, ONFLEET? Where have I been? Someone want to use that in a sentence for me? As my old friend Burns would say, I wouldn't know that if I ate it in my soup. But as he also said, it's a poor day when you can't learn something.

    Teedmn 8:23 AM  

    Well crumb cake, I DNFed on this easy Saturday at the cross of LEO rESSI and THE rOLE. MESSI has been in crosswords before but I think the LEO kept me from seeing the last name properly. And what kind of reality show is THE MOLE? A show with little cameras set underground in MOLE tunnels, watching them chew roots or whatever MOLEs do when they aren't making mounds of dirt in your yard?

    This puzzle had some great clues. "Fair game" for RING TOSS, brilliant. "Sticky patch" for DECAL. And watching 19A form, IOB_____. Would an IOn Burst interrupt a court? Sometimes the things that pass through the brain while solving seem almost DREAM-like.

    Speaking of DREAMS, unlike @LMS, I don't mind people telling me their dreams. And those dreams where you can't find the toilet and then you do and the stalls are all occupied except for the totally exposed one in the middle of the room and people keep walking in and out and you can't go...I've found that I wake up and really need to go to the bathroom when I'm dreaming about toilets - my subconscious getting signals from my bladder. I dread the day that I dream I find the bathroom and everything is just fine and I do my business and wake up to...a real mess.

    Mr. Trabucco, nice job!

    Ted 8:29 AM  

    I crushed everything except the NW.

    Being a car guy, I wanted to fit EQUUS in for the luxury Hyundai... but that wasn't crossing well with RIOJA.

    STOA was ungettable for me, I had IAN for LOO (John).

    I'd gotten NETFLIX ORIGINAL off of just XO without hesitation, but everything else was a head scratcher. I was not ON FLEEK for that corner.

    Never heard of the ABC ISLANDS.

    Faith 8:34 AM  

    I found it a little difficult so of course it must be an easy one for everyone else. I liked most of it but did not appreciate Fat Elvis. Not cool .

    Hartley70 8:48 AM  

    So glad I stopped by and caught some primo LMS today. Under the bed you go girl. A happy Rex is a gift to start the day too.

    Embiggen made me smile, ONFLEEK made me groan. It's so tired and last year, or was it the year before? Just stop.

    My way in was WINANOSCAR. The long downs were lifesavers, if not as "real" as ANTIDOTES. I stumbled at the end with the M cross at MESSI and MOLE. H, P, and R all worked equally well to me. H was my letter of choice because I wanted to see Anderson's guests dig themselves out of one.

    CashPo’ 8:50 AM  

    The Fat Elvis thing made me remember the time I asked the postal worker lady for a stamp with a Madonna and Child image and she told me that Madonna wasn’t on a stamp yet. Yet!

    Birchbark 8:50 AM  

    It would be interesting for oenologues and oneirologues to get together and compare notes about different sorts of RIOJA.

    @TeedMN (8:23) -- How about that rain this morning? Layers and layers of dark clouds and wind, patches of blue sky, chaos, and now just plain windy, low-thundery rain over here. My dream of mowing the lawn today is under reconsideration. I too DNF at THEhOLE/LEOhESSI. Figured it was wrong but couldn't see the way out.

    John Child 9:17 AM  

    Excellent puzzle despite being over too soon. THE MOLE and ON FLEEK are ridiculous but were fairly crossed. IMO, POW.

    Anonymous 9:21 AM  

    Great clueing, but really just Wednesday- or Friday-level difficulty. Very enjoyable puzzle for sure.

    Nancy 9:31 AM  

    I knew I was in trouble when 1A was a %$&%$# car. Your gimme = my complete Huh? It was the writing on the wall, and although I eventually got AZERA and ABC ISLANDS, I thought an "overnight star" might be ZERO TO zERO. You know, fame is fleeting and you end up right back where you started.

    This gave me AZS at 31A, which I was deeply, deeply unhappy about. But I figured: maybe it's a newer, better version of AZT.

    I think I'll go and live in Greece. The language won't be any more peculiar there than today's "modern slang" (48A). ON FLEEK??????? What the bloody hell is that??????

    Big DOOK today, even though it filled in. For "get going" (14A), I had --- IN from the get-go. What was it? SET IN? LOG IN? OPT IN? Nothing was quite right. Then BEG IN filled in when I got EGO BOOSTER and guessed ABC ISLANDS. BEG IN as in "I'd like to join your game. May I?" I suppose you could "get going" by "begging into" something or other. I finally saw BEGIN -- after I finished the puzzle. Talk about your blind spots and idees fixes!

    Very crunchy, and I enjoyed it despite the $#%$#$ car.

    Joe 9:33 AM  

    Ironic to use "House of Cards" for NETFLIX ORIGINAL, since it originally appeared on the BBC as a massive hit starring Ian Richardson.

    Stuart Showalter 9:35 AM  

    “This was fabulous.” Totally agree.
    (But did some imposter write that? Surely OFL doesn’t use the word “fabulous” in referring to a Will Shortz-edited puzzle.)

    Roo Monster 9:36 AM  

    Hey All !
    Agree on the easiness of today's puz. Was still 5.02 Rex's though.

    I also wanted EQUUS for a bit (Hi@Ted 8:29), and IAN, but had a sneaky suspicion about RIOJA, had STOA in, then out, CROON also in then out, but when I finally put AZERA, CROON, and RIOJA in, I saw IOBJECT, then LOO, then victory! Cleaned up INSertS in the SE, getting me to DECAL and IDOL, and thinking I successfully solved the puz! But, got the "Almost there!" message. Argh! Had CLOnIS/AnON, because a good author/publisher could be an AnON, and who cares about King CLOVIS? (Well, maybe the Frankish tribes...) :-)

    Embiggen made me laugh. What a cool word! @Lorens rant on that was fun, too. Have heard ON FLEEK, but it's been a (em)bitten while. Plus, don't know it's meaning. Also caught by the MNOP for LGBT. Put the non-sandwich GYRO and (em)BOIL cleared that up. eel before saying, AHS, AHI. :-) Another funny writeover, cinemaXORIGINAL. Har. Then chilled with NETFLIX. (Did ya get that?)

    ABC ISLANDS. Interesting. Guess they ran out of names.

    Some nice clues in this here puz. I like easy-ish SatPuzs, doesn't rile up the ole brain, it's a nice EGO BOOSTER. I was WON OVER.

    FATE TAKETH DREAMS away. Well, EXCUSE YOU! I TENDS to SORT of ORATE BEERilY. BOSS.

    NEED SWIG
    RooMonster
    DarrinV

    Anonymous 9:43 AM  

    Anyone else get the sneaking suspicion that companies pay for product placement in these puzzles? NETFLIXORIGINAL is just so cloying and corporate...

    Anonymous 9:46 AM  

    I don't know how MANY lyres Apollo had, but he probably played ON his lyre and WITH his dick.

    Mark 9:47 AM  

    I was just about to say what Joe did. Since House of Cards is barely original, that is, it stretches the definition of original, why not just pick some show that is fully original and put that in the clue. That it isn't original held me up for a long time, and passed me off. Two thumbs dow.

    Imfromjersey 10:05 AM  

    I have been told by my teenage daughters that no one says "on fleek" anymore, it's passé. So you know when a slang word shows up in the NYT crossword it really is over. I enjoyed this puzzle too, found it easier than Friday.

    Nancy 10:10 AM  

    Oops. A second DNF. @Quasi had THE DOLE instead of THE MOLE. I had THE ROLE. Doesn't that sound like a reality show, everyone going after the same ROLE? Ah, well. Or as I should say AZS well.

    @Larry G (2:38 a.m.) -- I love your wisecrack about someone sneaking an "R" into the wine experts. Actually, I had a very similar reaction.

    @Loren (5:35 a.m.)-- There is certainly nothing remotely "boring" about your dream. In fact, I think Freud, were he still alive, could write an entire book about it. As far as art goes, it's so personal. I am often moved to tears by both music and poetry, and yet the biggest emotion I can muster up in the presence of a painting is to look at it briefly and say" "Nice painting." I can like the painting, I can think it's quite an excellent painting, but to feel real emotion -- that just doesn't happen. (Which is not a good thing, btw. I do believe that the more things in one's life that engender real emotion, the richer a life you will have.) But it is what it is. None of you would want to go through a museum with me, because if I agree to go through it at all, I go through on roller skates.

    @pabloinnh from late last night -- Much as I love "Kubla Khan", I would love to see your parody of it. I imagine it could be a howl.

    Wm. C. 10:16 AM  


    @anoa from yesterday --

    Re: why is "DNA Bank" a "Modern Form of Noah's Ark?"

    Gotta admit, I thought this was a "reach" also, but concluded that a DNA bank is a storage place for a wide range of this component of living species, just as Noah's Ark carried a wide range of living species. --???

    bookmark 10:31 AM  

    @Kevin: As another SC resident, I agree with you. We live in the Palmetto State, with a palmetto on the state flag.

    mathgent 10:37 AM  

    ONFLEEK. If I am reading the comments correctly, this is a slang expression that is not used any more. The only reason I have for learning a slang expression is that some segment of us is using it. That I have a chance of hearing it or reading it. But if the slang failed to find a place in the culture, why would I want to learn it? Slang like this should not be in the puzzle.

    Eileenalana 10:39 AM  

    That ABC Islands are Aruba, Bonaire and Curaçao. Great scuba diving there.

    QuasiMojo 10:49 AM  

    @Nancy, you and I would make great tourists. I go through museums as if on a people mover through an airport. My feeling is if you are in Rome or Florence or even DC spend your time amidst the people, on the streets, in the cafes, or city parks. That is where la vita is.

    Wm. C. 10:50 AM  


    @Ted8:29 and @Roo9:36

    Re:ABC Islands. I'm not sure if your comments meant that you were confused by this, and if not, I apologize. I too was (momentarily) confused by the fill, but then realized that it was referring to Aruba, Bonaire, and Curacao, three islands off the northeast coast of Venezuela.

    I've actually been to Aruba years ago on a Sales reward trip, so I immediately knew the "A" Aruba part in front of "islands', and filled in the "B" and "C" off crosses. But I had to google map to get the other two, though when I did I recognized the names.

    Banana Diaquiri 11:03 AM  

    I don't know of any actual DNA Banks, but there've been numerous reports about seed vault(s) in/near the Arctic.
    here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Svalbard_Global_Seed_Vault

    Aketi 11:25 AM  

    @Teedmn, those DREAMs are the worst. During my who's the KING confusion the DREAM I was thinking of was ML KING's which sadly seems even further away than ever.

    I have a much less aspirational DREAM that might be more feasible now BJJ has a great euphemism for the elderly. They are called Masters. And the older you get the higher your level. Every year they have a huge tournament in Las Vegas for the Masters. Recently some woman named Betty managed to inspire a network of old girls that pressed for more inclusion and got the age categories expanded and started linking up with each other to compete there. I've never been to Vegas. My sister loves Vegas and said she'd meet me there. She wins at gambling and I lose, but she's pretty liberal in sharing the quarters and dimes that magically fall out of the machines for her. I'd probably get squished to the mats but I'm starting to think next year in Vegas. I've already scoped out my potential competitors and Carter with them and they're up for it.

    Masked and Anonymous 11:38 AM  

    FLEEKy good.

    Nice, slow but steady solvequest … only nanosecond spinout [yo, @jae] came around the SE's ONFLEEK/VIAVENETO/FATELVIS area, which we shall nowforth call the OVF Islands.

    WINANOSCAR seems fine, to m&e. It's eminently gettable, and makes perfect sense. And it's total fresh fill meat … debut entry. So what if it's not sparkly enough to be a primo movie title, or somesuch. M&A proposes a crossword theme where all the phrases are stuff like WINANOSCAR. Additional candidates …

    * LOSEONESKEYS.
    * PLACEANAME.
    * SHOWTOTHEBATHROOM.
    * TIEUPTHEPHONE.
    etcetc.

    staff weeject pick: AHS. Mainly becuz of its primo {Doctors' orders?} clue.

    Thanx, Mr. Trabucco. I wrote a Q in the margins, right after LGBT, so the grid could have its pangram. Seems fairly fair.

    Masked & Anonymo2Us [Excuse & You]


    p.s. Hey! @muse! What happened to Tucker dog?!? Did he fleek out on d-con?


    **gruntz**

    stanley crowe 11:47 AM  

    Good catch on “Palm.” Because I know the difference between palm and palmetto, I had “moon” at 26 D. That screwed me up for a bit.

    old timer 11:56 AM  

    ON FLEEK was my last entry. Never heard the phrase myself. And THE MOLE was my one lookup, though in retrospect I did not need it. LEO MESSI I hear about every four years.

    Oh, and @LMS, at the risk of giving you a SWOLE head, you can share your dreams every day,

    jb129 12:06 PM  

    I enjoyed this puzzle - it may be "last year" but can someone explain "ONFLEEK" to me?

    pabloinnh 12:08 PM  

    Hi @Nancy--you're very nice to think I wrote a memorable parody. It was for a college English assignment, one of those "write something in the style of" things. I thought it came out pretty well but it's very time and place specific and probably wouldn't mean much to someone who was not at my school then, e. g., the title was "Esselyew", based on the initials of my fair university, and the rest was in a similar vein. Fun for me, not sure about anyone else.

    I have since written a (I think) very good version of a doo-wop song for our almost famous quartet. We needed something for a lawyers' convention (bass is a lawyer) and after lots of thought I came up with the idea of lampooning the Dion hit "Runaround Sue" which became "Run Around and Sue" (You drive a Lexus not a Subaru/'Cause everybody want to runaround and sue) and so on. Instant classic.

    Anonymous 12:11 PM  

    Anonymous 9:46 AM: No need to be crude.

    Amelia 12:21 PM  

    Liked it. A bit too easy. But had some major boo-boos. (Ultimately corrected.) Leg it before Begin. Two bosses instead of one boss and one bass. Isn't the villain the boss? Cmon.

    Bentobox and Neosporin were gimmes for me, a hypocondriacal Japanese food eating NY'er.

    Loved sticky patch, Tub-thump, Writing on the Wall, Hero of New Orleans, and Embiggen, a word I've never seen or heard, but could certainly understand.

    Carry on.

    Outside The Box 12:25 PM  

    I didn’t read all the above comments, but I hope someone addressed the clue for 26d: “Image on the South Carolina flag.”

    Well, I live in South Carolina and the answer is dead wrong. The image in the South Carolina flag is the Palmetto Moon, a combination of the Palmetto tree and the moon.

    A Palmetto tree may be a type of palm, but our flag has a Palmetto tree on it, not a palm tree.

    Anonymous 12:41 PM  

    on fleek??? give me a break. I doubt there are that many 12 yr olds doing the NYT puzzles...

    Mo Pariser 12:42 PM  

    It's nice getting a Saturday win following a Friday DNF.

    Did anyone else originally fill CAVALIER for 36D The King late in his career? I loved that one. Year 15 and strong as ever. Fat Elvis works too... I guess.

    GILL I. 12:43 PM  

    Sometimes it's fun to come in late. Everything has been said but you get to comment on the comments....
    First I will say that I'm glad OFL liked this puzzle. Sometimes I worry. Anyway, I liked it the minute I entered ABC ISLANDS. AZERA was the ONLY woe I had today. Said to myself "Man, this is too easy or maybe I'm just brilliant" because I whipped thru this puppy faster than LEO MESSI can try and bite his opponents ear (GO SPAIN).....!
    BENTO BOX SUSHI ROLL (Hi @Nancy) got the juices flowing. Glad to see LGBT has their Q back.
    @Anony 7:53. So glad you posted. That was the ONE clue that bugged me no end. Now it only bugged me because you are so right about the RIOJA whites. Gadzooks they tasted awful many moons ago but they are delicious now. I try and buy any of the Lopez de Heredia white (when they are on sale - which is rare because people will spend $30 plus on them and not bat an eye). I'm not sure about the rose because I haven't tried any lately and besides, I've been sticking to French.
    I think Will is totally oblivious to Spanish errors. We've had the enye discussion up the ying yang to no avail. One of my biggest peeves was the constant YO TE AMO redundancy. Finally someone smart dropped the YO.
    @Teedmn. I have toilet dreams all the time. I've had the same one you did at being stuck with the only stall that has no door. More often than not, mine involve me searching through slums and ghettos and sty's before finding one and it's usually very dirty and I'm trying to find those paper covers for the seats and well, I'll leave everyone to their imagination as to what finally happens.
    ON FLEEK was one of those Millennial words of the week. I think I first heard it used in a Taco Hell advertisement. LOOOONG time ago.
    VIA VENETO smile and memories trying to cross over that avenue in my rented little Fiat 126. I finally got on it only to find myself in the wrong lane at the first of many roundabouts and getting jostled and hemmed in. Gad....try getting out of those damn things. AND...buses coming at you in the other direction.
    Thank you SAM # 2. This was a delightful Sat. romp. Next time, though....drop the BEERY. Boozer is a lot better and so you do't offend the Elvis crowd, you could always use FAT ALBERT.

    jberg 1:23 PM  

    @Mo Pariser, took me a minute to realize you meant Lebron, not Charles I. Your clue works for either.

    Trombone Tom 1:42 PM  

    What a lovely, breezy puzzle from Sam Trabucco.

    Hand up for starting with ZERO to zERO. Hi, @Nancy!

    I vaguely remembered seeing ON FLEEK somewhere months ago.

    NETFLIX ORIGINAL seems a tad too commercial.

    And to @GILL I, from my very first exposure to Italian driving back in 1963 I came away convinced that Italian autos were equipped only with horn and accelerator.

    Jordy Carpenter 1:47 PM  

    Let me just say that THEMOLE was awesome, and there are still some versions going on elsewhere in the world that are tremendously entertaining (the Dutch version is especially fun).

    Mohair Sam 2:15 PM  

    Late today because of the World Cup, and I owe a big thank you to Sam Trabucco. Started the puzzle about 9AM, got to 10D and thought "Need an abbreviation for Diego or Leonard" - and thereby realized I was missing the Argentina/Iceland Word Cup match. Tuned in just in time for Argentina's goal and the Iceland goal that followed on its heels. Awesome match - but nothing can top yesterday's Portugal/Spain classic.

    Oh yeah, the puzz - I'll join the throng that loved it. It played tough for us because didn't know our ABC's nor could I remember AZERA or RIOJA, and thought you CROONed to sweethearts, not babies. The AZERO made me think of Hyundai's Theta II 2.4 Liter engine which tested my driving skills (try the engine stopping cold when you're passing a line of trucks on I-95), I'll never buy a Hyundai product again.

    @Joe (9:33) and @Mark (9:47) - The "Original" in Netflix Original refers to the production you are viewing. Netflix produced the American version. And I, for one, preferred the BBC's production - Ian Richardson's evil character almost had you rooting for him (the bastard).

    Best song most of you have never heard may be ELVIS Presley blues by Gillian Welch. You gotta appreciate blue grass a little, but the lyrics capture ELVIS and her metaphor comparing Elvis to John Henry (the steel drivin' man) is awesome and holds truth.

    jberg 2:17 PM  

    Darn, I wrote a really witty comment, then hit the “sign out” button instead of “publish” and poof! There it went. Anyway, I actually had a puma on that flag. But I read enough pulp sf as a lad to know AVON, and that reminded me that it’s the PALMetto state. Lighten up, everybody! Sure, that clue is too narrow, and the one for RIOJA is too broad, but everyone got them, right? I don’t even object to calling maguro AHI.

    @Loren, i love your ego-boosting idea. I look forward to seeing it in the Sunday puzzle.

    @Amelia, your comment makes me wonder—is it LEGIT to BEG IN?

    @Gill, great suggestion—no one can object to Cosby!

    Anoa Bob 2:46 PM  

    I think 6D should be OBENTO BOX.

    Wondered why RING TOSS at 37D was clued "Fair game". It doesn't seem to be inherently fair or unfair. Oh. Game at a county fair. Were any of those games at county fairs fair?

    Wm. C. @10:16, although I thought to myself "Hmm. Really?" yesterday when I saw DNA BANK, it was someone else who commented on it.

    OISK 3:04 PM  

    No idea what a Bento box is, but in Brooklyn, Italian, Russian, Chinese, Thai, and Kosher are far more common cuisines than Japanese. ( I have eaten in a Japanese restaurant once.) Thought the puzzle was fine until it sprung a fleek. I'll nitpick on 6 across - more villains are baritones...

    Love geography, have strolled the Via Veneto, and snorkeled in all three ABC islands. Leo Messi missed a crucial penalty kick it the World Cup today. (serves Argentina right for cancelling their game in Israel...)

    I don't know car names, but Azera was easy to get from the crosses, and "on Sleek" which seemed to make SOME sense, was eliminated by "Sate" not fitting the down clue at all.

    Nice puzzle, but I don't think an obscure bit of slang, no longer used, that doesn't appear even in the literature of the time (AFAIK), should not appear at all. Ever.

    Calman Snoffelevich 3:07 PM  

    A question from yesterday's puzzle (15D): what does a DNA BANK have to do with Noah's Ark, and why is it in quotes?

    Suzie Q 3:59 PM  

    I haven't had this much fun in ages.
    Fat Elvis! Embiggen! Zero to hero!
    This was a blast.

    Yesterday's focus on choke collars bothered me because it is such a great tool when used properly. A quick light jerk gets the dog's attention and after awhile merely making the chain jingle does the trick. No, it not for any other use like tying the dog to a tree.
    Rex made it sound like a torture device but it's not. Ask the owner of a stubborn or easily-distracted dog.

    I'm surprised no one has complained about hero being a clue and an answer. Didn't bother me but this is a tough crowd.

    j gold 4:05 PM  

    Was wondering whether NETFLIXORIGINAL was paid product placement. Because it kind of reads like it.

    Aketi 4:11 PM  

    @Jberg, on your last comment. That was an example of another HERO to ZERO. At my age having bern around long enough to have experienced the hidden ZEROs in some HEROs so it’s no longer surprising but it’s always disappointing.

    TubaDon 4:29 PM  

    Got started very late because I came home exhausted from an outdoor concer and took a nap. Penciled in EGOBOOSTER, NEOSPORIN, FATELVIS, POBOY and something INSOLES right away and was surprised when they held up. Never heard of AZERA, THE MOLE or ONFLEEK(I didn't think slang was that ugly) but eventually guessed them all. Does anyone use BOSS for cool anymore? I thought that went out with the middle ages.

    Mohair Sam 4:30 PM  

    @Quasimojo - Our oldest son got Shep Messing's autograph in when Shep played for Rochester in 1979 - of all the random soccer players on earth how the heck did you remember his name?

    Anonymous 4:50 PM  

    Louisville Lip by Freakwater

    Pat 6:27 PM  

    I don't quite follow LGBT before Q. I get that LGBT is Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual, and Trans-sexual; why add Q to it? I thought they were all queers. Is this some new lingo?

    Andy S 7:11 PM  

    Ironic that LEOMESSI went FROM hEROTOzERO today.

    sanfranman59 7:17 PM  

    This week's relative difficulty ratings. See my 1/2/2018 post for an explanation of my method. In a nutshell, the higher the ratio & percentage, the higher my solve time was relative to my norm for that day of the week. Your results may vary.

    (Day, Solve time, 26-wk Median, Ratio, %, Rating)

    Mon 4:21 4:30 0.97 38.1% Easy-Medium
    Tue 5:38 5:26 1.04 60.0% Medium
    Wed 6:11 6:22 0.97 48.1% Medium
    Thu 9:37 9:47 0.98 48.7% Medium
    Fri 10:48 13:01 0.83 27.7% Easy-Medium
    Sat 16:02 15:59 1.00 56.3% Medium

    This felt more difficult to me than Medium, but I somehow managed to channel my crossword-solving muse a few times: RIOJA from scratch to get a toehold, EGO BOOSTER off just the OO, WON OVER off the W, GEL INSOLES off the G (from the ultimately incorrect SluG before SWIG).

    I did have a couple of unfortunate write-overs. AlERo then AlERA before AZERA made me very slow to get ZERO TO HERO (great clue/answer) and ANNE. While SluG before SWIG gave me GEL INSOLES, it was a complete solving block for WIN AN OSCAR and IDAHO STATE, which I thought was going to be utAH-something.

    I'm watching the phenomenal LEO MESSI and his Argentine teammates take on Iceland as I type this, so kudos for timeliness.

    Three post-solve look-ups for me today: BENTO BOX, CLOVIS, ON FLEEK. And did Will really allow "embiggen" as a clue?

    I felt guilt writing in FAT ELVIS, but not because I'm particularly sensitive to fat-shaming. Quite the opposite. I'm apparently prone to it myself since it was the first thing that came to mind when I read the clue and then thought, "Nah. It can't be."

    Fantastic puzzle.

    Larry 2:13 AM  

    Palmettos are palms. The palm on the flag is commonly known as a cabbage palm, while the scientific name is Sabal palmetto.

    Joe 7:31 AM  

    For those still following and asked about the DNA BANK, they are referring to the fact that many species of animals, endangered or other wise have had their DNA (genomes) preserved and sometimes sequenced, and a molecular way of saving them , in essence, like that animals saved from the flood in the story of Noah in the Bible.

    rondo 11:09 AM  

    I'll blame my slow time on watching Tiger climb the leader board at The Open. A really fun solve that went from nowhere to complete rather quickly, save for GELINSertS. Thought that the clue should have indicated that it was short for GYROscope.

    I see a coupla other golfers BESIDE Henrik Stenson are wearing Hugo BOSS, the only brand of golf and office wear the missus lets me buy anymore.

    FATELVIS has been around longer than the stamp kerfuffle. Before his death even. Factual, not mean; don't get caught in that trap.

    Hathaway, Heche, Bancroft, Francis; pick an ANNE, any ANNE. Yeah baby.

    Fine puz that has me WONOVER. Back to The Open.

    Burma Shave 12:01 PM  

    IDOL DREAMS

    ANNE is an EGOBOOSTER for a PO'BOY at a loss,
    SHE'S got YOU WONOVER when SHE TRIESTO be the BOSS.

    --- VING "THEMOLE" BEERY

    spacecraft 12:04 PM  

    Ditto on the DOD, the Tiger watch and the INSert thing. I think there's a fishing competition called BOSS of the BASS, not to be confused with BOSS of the moss, putting statistic leader.

    Coupla naticks on this one: sq. 6 for one. No idea at all about the lunchbox thing, and it took several run-throughs of the alphabet before I realized they were talking about a singing range. The other one was ONFLEEK (???????). The down clue seemed to want FATE, but that weird across made me doubt it seriously. I certainly never heard of it--and I can't even imagine what it stands for, or is derived from--or anything. ONFLEEK is just a total mystery. I left it in with grave misgivings, believe me.

    I remember THEMOLE. Can't understand why it didn't last, while SURVIVOR...survives. Cooper had to go back to CNN; Probst has made a lifelong career. Go figure.

    This felt awkward all the way through. While not exactly challenging, it did take some effort. I kept getting last parts of entries and not knowing what came before. --ORIGINAL? That sounds like it should come first. ORIGINAL--. And --ELVIS? What ELVIS? Surely you're not going with FAT; that would be WAY too un-PC for this day and age. Oh, but FAT it was. Again, go figure.

    Then a clue non-word: "Embiggen." Get serious. This baby won't WINANOSCAR with me; though benign weather at Carnoustie is producing a birdie barrage, today's puzzle will not join in. Par.

    Thefogman 2:36 PM  

    DNF. Done in by the dreaded NW corner - again.

    leftcoastTAM 3:52 PM  

    I OBJECT to THE MOLE.
    Was the upscale host, Mr. Cooper, an eponymous "mole" on the show?
    Never watched it, so don't know.
    I wanted rOLE.
    Alas, my one-letter WOE.

    (With apologies to Burma Shave, syndie poet laureate.)

    rainforest 4:18 PM  

    First of all, @Spacey (from yesterday), you're no BOZO; quite the opposite.

    Secondly, I attacked this puzzle while watching THE OPEN, and had little trouble with the NE through the centre down to the SW, except for ON FLEEK(?). There, the down word just had to be FATE, so in it went. ON FLEEK eh? Where hath our language gone?

    Then, I struggled with the NW and the SE while Tiger briefly challenged, and many players made many birdies and eagles. LOO took an absurdly long time (tried IAN, JoN, and JAN). 1D had to be ZERO TO something - thanks, AHS.
    VING was tough until I head-slapped RING TOSS (great clue). A little bit of clean-up where I had to change INSertS to INSOLES.

    So 2/3 medium, and 1/3 challenging. Was this puzzle ON FLEEK? Not quite.

    Diana,LIW 5:16 PM  

    The puzzle had me at EMBIGGEN. That made me smile.

    Not that I completely solved it, but boy did I enjoy the wordplay - thanks mister constructor person.

    Figured ZERO TO zERO was some kind of mathematical angle thingie for celestial subjects.

    Don't doctors ask for AzS? Even Dr. Oz? Awww...

    I haven't reached FLEEKdom since I retired and stopped wearing those perfect eyelashes. Right. Sure. You say you believe it, and we're both LYRES.

    Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

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