Composer of symphonic verse / FRI 11-2-18 / Bear in hit 2012 film / Genre for Anthrax Megadeth / Spinoff Nabisco cookies

Friday, November 2, 2018

Constructor: David Steinberg

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging (7:25)


THEME: none

Word of the Day: THE ZAX (45D: Stubborn Dr. Seuss pair) —
A story from the book The Sneetches and Other Stories features The Zax from the Dr. Seuss book. They are stubborn and arguable and have messy hair and hairy bodies. They live in the Prairie of Prax. Varieties of Zax include a North-Going Zax and a South-Going-Zax. Due to their stubbornness, they refuse to go in any direction other than their assigned directions. If a south-going Zax encounters a north-going Zax, they cannot solve their issue and the world progresses without them as yrs pass by, such as a highway being built over them and a city nearby while still standing angrily at each other. (Dr. Seuss wiki)
• • •

This one is trying So Hard to cultivate that "hello, fellow youths!" vibe that it's almost a distraction. It's definitely a creative and original grid, but stuff like COME AT ME, BRO (17A: "You wanna fight?!") and COOLIO (24D: "Sweet")—perhaps because of the time lag from conception to publication?—already feel like dad slang (also, really irked that the "BRO" part of COME AT ME, BRO, is essentially unclued, what with COME AT ME! being a completely legit, stand-alone phrase). Otherwise, the currency and variety of the answers in this puzzle are mostly welcome, although 1-Across ??? The science is not good there, man.


... and what is with the snickery bro-clue on SEX TOY (64A: Classic gag gift). Among a fairly broad segment of the adult population, SEX TOYs are just normal things. No gag involved ... unless that's what you're into, of course.


I think I wrote recently about my new-found belief that napping before solving was a powerful way I had (accidentally) found to boost my solving speed. Turns out this is total baloney. I was asleep on the couch from 8 to 10:30 and then cleared the cobwebs, gave myself a little time to wake up, came upstairs to solve, and ... just bombed. Well, no, not bombed, but couldn't ever get a handle on this thing. From COCOA at 1D: Hot chocolaty drink (MOCHA) to NONE AT ALL (!?) at 15D: Emphatic rejection (NO MEANS NO), I just kept swinging and missing. Forever it took me to get even small stuff like SHIM (48A: Level)—that one was particularly rough because it was a doorway answer, and not getting it kept me out of the south, which is where my real problems began (the entire SW, into the S, actually).

Actually, if you just draw a line from "?" to "?" clue to "?" clue in the W, you pretty much delineate The Bad Place. So from LOW BLOW (31A: Belt under the waist?) to WINE STORE (34D: Establishment to which customers have come for years?) to the BOOZE part of BOOZE CRUISE (58A: Wasted vacation days?)—that's the arena of death. None of those answers came to me without serious work, and then inside the rough perimeter formed by those answers, I really struggled with TONE POET (44A: Composer of symphonic "verse")—I wanted R. STRAUSS, which means I was really really mad at myself when I got the actual answer (ID EST I knew very well, too well, what tone poems were, but pffffft doesn't matter because I went looking for an actual "Composer" and not a general term). CHOSE was hard (54A: Stopped debating). AID was hard. And the DEBT part of SLEEP DEBT, also hard (27D: What insomnia causes to build up over time). I thought SLEEP DEBT was a myth, in that you can't just "make up" whatever number of hours you lost on any given day. And it's not like debt in that it's not some actual number that keeps going up and up and up. It's a vague concept. I wanted LOSS in those four spaces.


I assume everyone understood that the "years" part of the very reach-y but mildly clever WINE STORE clue had to do with vintages (34D: Establishment to which customers have come for years?). Just trying to head off questions in the comments / random emails. OK, have a nice day.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]

89 comments:

jae 12:43 AM  

Easy-medium except for the M in SHIM/RATED M. Had to stare a bit to come up with that one. Plenty of zip, liked it.

okanaganer 12:50 AM  

Re VEE DUB! In German, the letters VEE DOUBLE-U are FAU VEH and similarly used.

(Also LOWENBRAU is pronounced LOOVEN BROY (Lion Brew). Nothing to do with this puzzle, just, well, beer!)

Dolgo 1:37 AM  

Well, as a classical music fan, I was pretty pee'd off about TONEPOET. So I Googled it. Seems there's some dude who calls himself that and actually sells recordings on the web. I have a feeling that he's self publishing. But, with my prime directive, "it's okay if you can Google it," I guess I reluctantly have to accept it. But since it's in the same puzzle with COME AT ME BRO and BOOZE CRUISE I've kind of got a residual bad taste in my mouth. Even the chuckle at VEE DUB did not quite redeem David Steinberg this time.

Dolgo 1:39 AM  

PS Add COOLIO to my list of cavils.

Ando 2:17 AM  

I hated VEE DUB. But liked the puzzle.

i skipM-W 2:29 AM  

I beg to differ about MSG; Steinberg is correct in my experience. I love Chinese food and am not noticeably prejudiced against Chinese or other Asians and never have been, but have gotten profound headaches from eating two Szechwan meals in one day, otherwise delicious, and am pretty sure MSG was the culprit. The sources you cite, at least the ones I looked at, seem neither definitive nor very scientific. They don't specify the size of the minority who get MSG headaches, but anyone could be among us who do, so the clue is right.Sleep debt is also a problem, but whether such a debt can be repaid by sleeping more a few days later remains questionable.

it was a hard puzzle for me, but correctly guessed Ted for the bear,M for the rating and therefore the Zax, Seuss characters I've never heard of.

Larry Gilstrap 2:32 AM  

This thing filled up pretty easily until I hit Texas and then things began to drawl. BOOZE CRUISE really helped and I love alcoholic beverages, truth be told, but can't imagine going on a bender.

If asked, I'll play SCRABBLE, but not very well. Anagrams are not my thing. Allow me, but SEX TOY was my nickname in college. Or was it on that BOOZE CRUISE? Dim memories of either.

TONE POET as clued is a stretch. The thing works, but the guy? C'mon man!

A SHIM is a thing used to level stuff. Nice!

I have driven many miles in a VW, or VEEDUB, during the 60s and 70s. I owned some beauties, both sedans and vans, but really those cars were crap, in retrospect. I was young and fun was had. But, no AC, legitimate heater, electrical system, horsepower, or Bluetooth. If you ever see a vintage VW on the road, you can smell it before you see it.

I forgot to have kids, so Dr. Seuss details evade me. My ties to San Diego are strong and the Geisel Library at UCSD was an architectural phenomenon before it was renamed for Dr. Suess. I drove my VW there to study in its early days after completion in 1970. Amazing building!

chefwen 2:55 AM  

Did not care for this one at all. Like Rex said, he’s just trying too hard to be COOLIO, is that even a saying? I’ve heard dealio, but coolio is new to me. COME AT ME BRO, BOOZE CRUISE, seriously?

Love HEATH BARS, hate BRAZIL NUTS.

VEE DUB, ugh!

DeeJay 4:54 AM  

Jeez , c'mon, Rex. This is a brilliant, clever puzzle, to which the term "Bad Place" should not be applied.

And re the incessant carping about stale cultural references, this puzzle is deemed somehow off the mark?

We solve because we like challenges. Sorry this was a toughie, Rex.

Anonymous 5:36 AM  

I had initially written THEZAX as XAZZAX (which has the two zaxes facing each other and refusing to budge, as in the story), but quickly came to see that that couldn’t be right. So I solved it but liked my answer better. :)

Brookboy 5:40 AM  

This puzzle was so far out of my wheelhouse that it wasn’t even on the radar. I couldn’t get a foothold anywhere. Among the entities that I knew (and know) nothing about were BOOZE CRUISE, THRASHMETAL, TONE POET, and SLEEP DEBT (I’ve had the unfortunate experience of having been tested for apnea three different times, each time requiring that multiple sensors be attached to my body with heavy goop, and then me being told to enjoy my night in bed in the sleep lab. I mention this as proof that I’ve had a fair amount of exposure to sleep science, and I don’t recall ever hearing the term “SLEEP DEBT”.)

I just was unable to get going at all. It’s hard for me to fathom how I can be so far out of sync with a puzzle. I am gonna chalk it up to a bad day. Fridays are usually challenging for me, anyway.

V. Lustig 6:01 AM  

@ I skipM-W:

From the FiveThirtyEight article cited: "As Brendan Nyhan, a Dartmouth professor who has researched how to influence attitudes about vaccines, pointed out to me in an email, it’s hard for people to change their minds about personal health issues because it contradicts what they have perceived to experience in the past. 'People who felt bad after eating Chinese food in the past may have blamed MSG … and thus resist information they encounter later about its actual effects,' he said. This may be the result of the availability heuristic, where people make judgments using the easiest information available, rather than looking for alternative explanations."

I'm trying to figure out how the fact (true fact, not Trump fact)that there is no scientific evidence at all - NONE - linking MSG to headaches is "not very scientific." By that logic, the fact that there is no scientific evidence at all supporting the assertion that the moon is made of green cheese is also "not very scientific."

At any rate, I did hear that one of the drug companies was looking into developing a vaccine against MSG headaches, until it realized that the same people who were convinced without any scientific evidence that MSG caused headaches were the same people who were convinced that vaccines cause autism.

BTW, it's a little cooler than normal here today: definitive proof that global warming is a hoax.

A Martin 6:30 AM  

I an clearly well past the target audience for this one but who calls a VW a veedub?

Lewis 6:37 AM  

I tooled along at normal Friday pace -- not a dash by any means, more like whacking through a medium dense area of vines -- until I hit Texas, the area between the SE and SW corners, where the vines seemed impenetrable. I didn't know THE ZAX, OHS, CHO, didn't know what Black Ops was rated, wasn't sure what kind of METAL Anthrax played, and wanted PARTY CRUISE. Thus Texas became the Black Hole of Megadeth. Man, I tried hard there, pounding and pounding, with my brain yelling LET ME IN! No success. When I resigned myself to the fact that things would never look up there, I ended up looking up, online. Never heard of BOOZE CRUISE or THRASH METAL, but I love both answers, and SO adored the clue for WINE STORE (along with those for SCRABBLE, LILT, and AD BLOCKER. Lots of spark and spunk in this one, and made with the confidence, polish, and constructing art that the talented Mr. Steinberg consistently produces. Don't quit this, David!

BarbieBarbie 6:54 AM  

ELI and ELHI in the same puzzle?
Easy but DNF because I went with kAPO and kOOLIO. Seemed right (but wasn’t). So, streak of zero. I know it was easy, though, because I’ve been reading about clues/answers I never saw, and that’s early-week stuff. But the seed answers were all great and this was yet another gem from my favorite constructor. Never stop, David.
Well, except for the ELI/ELHI thing.

Kate 6:57 AM  

Thank you for explaining the "wine store" answer, I did not get that clue at all. I rather enjoyed the rest of the puzzle.

kitshef 7:18 AM  

Worst Steinberg ever (though I was not around for his earliest work).

Garbage fill: COOLIO, COME AT ME BRO, RENTS TO, ASK UP, ESE, AGT, OHS, THE ZAX, OR SO, ESTO and especially ELHI - #1 on my ESE hate list.

VEE DUB is just dumb.

Too many tortured clues to list.

Basically, the antithesis of yesterday’s gem.

Ted Geisel 7:34 AM  

Well said V. Lustig @6:01! I'm a physician, and everyone wants antibiotics for their colds. "But my other doctor prescribed then last time and after I took them for a week my cold went away." "Post hoc ergo propter hoc" is a pervasive human idiocy.

michiganman 7:39 AM  

I almost always have to get a little (or a lot) of help on Friday but not today. It felt good. Now, I used "check" a few times so maybe that's DNF. (Is it?, I don't know) But it was still quite satisfying. My favorite was Said "O-D-O-U-R," e.g./SPELT. Also liked ARMY ANT combo. Had canOe before SLOOP, that didn't last long. I also got bogged down in the south central but finally dug out. I didn't think of Level as a verb so that made SHIM very slow in coming. I tried even and tier first. Liked 15D for obvious reasons.

Hungry Mother 7:52 AM  

Lucky that I knew SHIM to finish a problematic area. A bit of a Saturdayish slog today. Glad to finish.

American Liberal Elite 7:55 AM  

I use small amounts of MSG in my cooking, but don't tell anyone: too many orthorexics at my table. Also, isn't a ukulele case usually painted green?

QuasiMojo 8:06 AM  

David Steinberg’s puzzles tickle my fancy and bring out my inner dweeb. I enjoyed this latest effort. In fact I always feel a sense of pride in finishing one of his contrivances without googling as a lot feels so foreign to me. Like a Daddy trying to be hep with a cool cat. But being old-fashioned I kept putting the wrong answers in then resisted taking them out. Cocoa before Mocha; Slinky before Sex Toy; ottomanellis before Olive Garden; hip flask for low blow even though it didn’t fit; Atom Ant before Army; tier before shim; Rated R before M; etc.

As for VWs I come from a family that always had them, from the series of Bugs we had in the 60s and 70s, to the Rabbits in the 80s and 90s, and eventually to a Mexican-made Golf in 1998, then back to a Rabbit in 2008. I loved every one of them. They tore up the road. Always had stick shift and hand-cranked windows. I particularly liked the old beetles with the engine in back. It was coolios to throw your hard Samsonite suitcase in the front!

As for MSG, I knew it as ACCENT food flavoring and “meat tenderizer” while growing up and it always gave me that numbing ice cream headache feeling long before I ever even heard of Chinese food or tasted it. So I doubt prejudice or bias or herd-mentality had anything to do with my experience. I wonder what the original source is of the article Rex posted. So few of the so-called scientific articles online rarely are. Read it with a grain of monosodium glutamate.

Anonymous 8:09 AM  

Little surprised Rex let NO MEANS NO pass without comment, given that its primary meaning is as an anti-rape slogan. I found it a little crass myself, esp. with SEX TOY in the same grid. Indeed, what with DO I, CHOSE, LET ME IN, ASK UP, BOOZE CRUISE, GIMME, CREEPS, and RUT—oh, and WET NOODLE—there was a whole subconscious (dare I say RATED M for imMature) narrative about consent, or the lack thereof.

Joe 8:10 AM  

This was one of the best Fridays I've done in a while. Plopped in COMEATMEBRO, OLIVEGARDEN, and ADBLOCKER immediately off no letters, and everything else flowed no problem. You people are crazy with your criticism. COMEATMEBRO, BOOZECRUISE, THRASHMETAL,SLEEPDEBT, all great answers. Fill was just fine on this one with lots of great answers. Hooray for constructors making more fresh puzzles. Not a single clue/answer related to anything before I was born. Hopefully crossword puzzles keep moving in this direction (i.e. nothing ancient that people should be expected to remember).

Amy Yanni 8:18 AM  

I too was lost in Texas with Larry & Lewis. Nice company and puzzle. TGIF everyone. Looking forward to wiping out my sleep debt, caused not by insomnia but by 36 innings of baseball in a weekend.

Anna Freud 8:19 AM  

Sometimes a puzzle is just a puzzle.

Twangster 8:24 AM  

Sleep debt, while not as literal as the financial kind, is real enough to have its wikipedia entry: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sleep_debt Sleep doctors talk about it a lot.

SJ Austin 8:30 AM  

I liked this one a lot. Was kinda bummed when it was over.

Roo Monster 8:37 AM  

Hey All !
SASSy puz today. Rex complains about "old, stale fill", then we get this one, and he's "trying too hard". Har.

I liked the COOLIO words in here. HEATH BARS! BRAZIL NUTs! BOOZE CRUISE! THRASH METAL! WET NOODLE! COME AT ME BRO! NO MEANS NO! C'mon, some good stuff.

Relatively easy, only hold-up area was that whole WINE STORE/THE ZAX part. Wanting tier for SHIM first not helping. Also had Zac Brown Band for ELI, but I think the Zac one is more Rock. Everything else was slow and steady, keeping the brain drain to a minimum.

TONE POET new here, but crosses fair. We even get SCRABBLE. No LOW BLOWS in here. Liked it? DO I. Guess I TOLD you. Har.

GIMME CREEPS
RooMonster
DarrinV

Vote NO on Tone Poet 8:44 AM  

TONE POET is not a thing. I don't care if it's Google-able. A composer composes tone poems. That same composer may compose a lot of them. But the "poem" part of tone poem is not the same as something that a "poet" would write...it is called a tone poem because in the early part of the 20th century, when composers were getting away from symphonic form (sonata allegro, sonata rondo, etc), they wrote "programmatic" works. They were loosely based on some kind of narrative...and since they were artistic by nature, they were considered "poetic" interpretations of say, Don Juan, or Death and Transfiguration, or the Merry Pranks of Til Eulenspiegel, or even Romeo and Juliet. I can't prove this, but it's possible "Tone Poems" overtook "Overtures" as a way to describe large symphonic works with no particular form. But never was a composer called an "overturist" either.

At no point was Richard Strauss, the king of the post romantic composers who wrote a ton of tone poems, ever considered to be a "tone poet." That is laughable, and a sign once again the DS just makes sh*t up and WS evidently goes along with it. BOOZECRUISE? I've worked on many cruises as a musician who would be amazed at how often passengers would get so pass out drunk (NCL has a "unlimited drink" special) that they'd probably hardly remember their cruise they spent so much money on. But I've never heard them called a Booze Cruise, no matter how cute the rhyme is. And MSG as a cause for headaches? What decade are you living in, David?

I love when I start a day angry because of a NYT puzzle. It's why I've canceled the subscription and now just waiting for the subscription period to end.

wordstorn 9:04 AM  

@Quasimojo:

If you have difficulty with using Google, try the following terms:
"MSG science"
"MSG headache science"
"MSG scientific literature review"
"Dietary glutamate metabolism"

Congrats for making your false inference without the help of racist stereotypes, but that doesn't make your belief any truer.

QuasiMojo 9:17 AM  

@wordstorn, thanks for the information and suggestions, but am I really supposed to take recommendations for research from someone whose profile picture is a hand giving the finger? Plus your blog has no posts. I’ll stick to my headache-free ignorance on this one.

Whatsername 9:27 AM  

@Vote NO at 8:44 - Years ago, I took an NCL cruise - on the original Norway - which was old, lovely and so very elegant. This was back when cruising was like flying used to be; you got dressed up and acted like you were somebody. Anyway, on one of the islands we took a side excursion on a pirate boat where they served a special pirate “punch,” the purpose of which seemed to be to drink as much as possible in the few hours time you were out. I remember those were commonly referred to as taking a booze cruise.

Ginny 9:32 AM  

Seems odd to accuse a puzzle of trying too hard for a youth vibe when it was actually constructed by a real life youth.

GILL I. 9:40 AM  

I'm on the fence with this one. @Rex kinda said what I felt...struggles all over the place. Where to begin....
I'll start with COOLIO. Now, had David clued him as a rapper or even as a chef, I would have gotten it. I saw him on Food Network and he calls himself the "Ghetto Gourmet." He's one COOL dude.
Then we get to THRASH METAL and I couldn't get heavy or some such out of my mind. Left that area and went back up to the attic....MSG wasn't singing. My chocolaty drink was cocoa and he didn't want to leave. Finally...the G in GIMME gave me MSG. I don't get Chinese headaches but could someone please tell me why I'm always hungry a few hours after eating delish take-out?
OLIVE GARDEN is so, so not anywhere near Italian food. It's like sayin Taco Hell is real Mexican. Just my two cents.
Had to Google the unheard of TONE POET and even though we bought every single Dr. Seuss book, I had to cheat on THE ZAX as well. That gave me the SEX TOY. I've never gotten one of those things. I get things like "Depends."
Did like VEEDUB. Cute. My very first car was a silver '69 VW Beetle. I lived in SFO at the time and that little baby zipped in and out of China Town like nobody's business. After its third re-built and about 250,000 miles, I traded her in for my red-hot Nissan Stanza. Now I drive a good ole American Ford Taurus.
MOCHA OLIVE GARDEN HEATH BARS OREO THINS WINE and BOOZE Hmmmm.
Favorite clue: Tears don't rip it TISSUE.
Must decide whether I want to still sit on the fence.

Little brown bear 9:44 AM  

Don’t understand the wine store clue.

Rainbow 9:47 AM  

I tried to find background on TONE POET and was not successful. Thank you for clarifying. I didn't know any better until I read your post.

Anonymous 9:49 AM  

While it may or may not be a myth that MSG gives headaches it is a stretch to say that it’s a xenophobic myth. See Post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy.

Anonymous 9:55 AM  

Here's a URL that interested people might like re:MSG (National Institutes of Health)

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4870486/

Anonymous 10:22 AM  

Ugh. Not a good puzzle. Some poor entries and tortuous cluing. Trying to link the word 'case' to ukulele just to have a mini-theme of two entries referencing ukuleles?! No, just no. Millions of things have a case. Nothing about the word case makes you think 'ukulele'.

Also a very unfriendly puzzle for non-Americans (a sizeable and growing number of NYT solvers - something they should take into account) with lots of names that are impossible for us to get: Olive Garden, Heath Bars, Oreo thins, veedub... No idea what elhi is. Tone poet shouldn't have been allowed or re-clued in a much less misleading way. Overall my least fave puzzle for quite some time.

Hungry Mother 10:22 AM  

I drive a 2010 New Beetle convertible with the license plate “MOONBUG.” Never heard of VEEDUB and didn;t even notice the crosses filling it in. I always thought “Punch Buggy” was the slang term.

pabloinnh 10:25 AM  

Same problem area as everyone else-had CRUISE and METAL but what kinds? Dr. Seuss was familiar, THEZAX a total mystery. Finally wrestled this into submission and did my best Tarzan yell, so worth the effort.

Also, have heard, and still hear VEEDUB but have yet to hear anyone say COOLIO. If anyone did say that around here I suspect they would be considered ridiculous.

Usually like DS's puzzles and this was no exception. Tough fun Friday.

Crystal Balls 10:29 AM  

Enjoyed the frat bro theme but where was the revealer? Too bad Matzo couldn't be plural. We could've had the clue "Edible Balls." It would've fit right in!

Shim always sounded like a frat bro insult to me, "Dude, don't be a shim."

At my age there's an ever so slight chance that I'll be alive and doing crossword puzzles when Steinberg is 60, although there's a lesser chance that crossword puzzles will still exist. I wonder if he'll be using the future equivalents of Come at Me Bro, Sex Toy, Thrash Metal, and Booze Cruise, or play to his base and still use them for the Monday puzzles.

@Rex, Gag Gift is a better clue than "gift for a fairly broad segment of the adult population." Dude, you're such a shim.

Nancy 10:33 AM  

Steinberg as his very worst. The plethora of pop culture clues was soul-crushing, and my soul was duly crushed. Then there was the godawful COME AT ME BRO and COOLIO. Add to that the beyond ridiculous VEEDUB. The tortured clues for WINE STORE and CASE, among others. I had less of this puzzle completed than any puzzle this year, I think, when my crushed soul and I at last departed the scene. About two-thirds. Not fair and not fun.

nunya 10:47 AM  

Tough but fair. My kind of puzzle.

Suzie Q 10:47 AM  

This was just what I needed for this dark rainy morning. I'm surprised that more people didn't love this. I had great fun.
Vee Dub came easily. I've heard it plenty of times. Same with booze cruise (aren't they all?).
So many wonderful words to discover as this puzzle unfolded. It took a lot of effort but was worth it.
I'm not so happy with the uke clues. Ukes already seem to sound pretty high so if you put a capo on it you might be out of human hearing range and make the dogs howl! Just kidding.
@ Larry Gilstrap 2:32, You're in rare form today!

Anonymous 11:00 AM  

"Of course, a small subset of people do have negative reactions that are directly due to glutamate" - in other words MSG might give you a headache, as the clue says. When I was a child, I got pain in my neck and jaw after eating MSG and I had never heard of Chinese Food Syndrome, so it wasn't xenophobic or imaginary.

TubaDon 11:08 AM  

SCRABBLE was the clue to the east, OREO THINS (yum!) gave me most of the West. Struggle a bit with the NW, but finally realized that VEEDUB was some sort of slang. The SW corner was easy, but was completely stumped by the Texas Tease area, even though I had SLEEP DEBT and CRUISE in place. Had to give up the pencil and check for errors online before I got THRASH METAL. Another problem was that I blanked on M rating, but considering 64A, this puzzle is flirting with that category.

Malsdemare 11:17 AM  

Well, no, I didn’t get the clever WINESTORE thingy, and wow, I apparently don't know my Seuss characters. I had TONEPOEm for POET (obviously I didn’t go back and check the clue after I filled in the m), and that made THEZAX impossible to see, not that I knew them anyway. I got LOWBLOW and COMEATMEBRO pretty easily; not sure what that says about my reading habits. Yeah, SEXTOY didn’t quite work for me, though I think my sisters and I bought a slew of them for sister #2 when she turned 60. We are going on a BOOZECRUISE in March; 18 days in New Zealand and Australia: scenery, wine tours, hiking, pampering, all sorts of excursions. I am one lucky woman to be married to someone whose salary far outstripped that of a professor at a small, midwestern university. Thanks, Mr. Mal! 50 years and counting.

Thanks, David. Now to see what others have to say. Almost afraid to check given some of the acrimony yesterday.

Crimson Devil 11:17 AM  

Years=vintages.

Anonymous 11:20 AM  

hah dis place be cray

Anonymous 11:32 AM  

Dear Rex, add me to the list of non-xenophobic MSG-sensitivity believers. I first experienced it when I was 17 and started eating in Chinese restaurants in Philly's Chinatown. No headache, but a definite numbness around the jaw. For years I had no idea what caused it, only learning of MSG and Chinese Restaurant Syndrome much later. It never interfered with my love of Chinese food, but I'm happy that restaurants leave out the MSG these days.

Bagelboy 11:36 AM  

Got slowed down bottom middle. had THINGS for THEZAX. As in Thing 1 and Thing 2 from Cat in the Hat. Also COCOA for MOCHA like Rex.

Banana Diaquiri 11:42 AM  

I defy anyone to show that VEEDUB existed in the vulgate before the Warriors became the DUBS. it was always just VEE DOUBLE-U

Banana Diaquiri 11:45 AM  

@Larry Gilstrap:
My ties to San Diego are strong and the Geisel Library at UCSD was an architectural phenomenon before it was renamed for Dr. Suess.

how the hell did that happen??? he's from my hometown, and one of his nephews was in my graduating HS class. said hometown is in MA.

Bob Mills 11:48 AM  

If you're going to use "VEEDUB" for Volkswagen, at least say, "for short" in the clue. Really terrible use of colloquialisms.

jberg 11:55 AM  

I had TIER before SHIM— ID EST showed me it was wrong, but I figured that game must be rated X or R. Do games have a different set of ratings from movies? Also, I didn’t understand WINE STORE until I read @Rex, so I let thinking that might be the problem. Plus I had _ISE at the end of 62A and was looking for something about either sleeping or failing to sleep through sunrISE. Finally TISSUE gave me CRUISE, BOOZE went right in (I’m astounded people haven’t heard of them—they’re an actual commercial category around here. But then we’re a college town with a harbor.).

@Rex, DS could have been making the same “gag” pun you did. If so, however, it deserved a ?

As for COOLIO, I thought it was intended to be a bit dated— kind of like “Sweet.”

@Gill, don’t stay on the fence! It’s time you CHOSE.

newspaperguy 12:00 PM  

I have wondered on occasion if Michael isn't having us all on, testing to see if bitchiness is contagious, or at least a suggestive approach to see if others will follow. There seem to be an increasing number of commenters who complain about the most absurd things, somehow thinking that every puzzle should make everyone happy. What world to they live in, I wonder.
And, by the way, a Veedub has been a thing for more than a half century. If you don't know, or don't like it, that's your problem, not the constructor's. Americans, you have been Trumped.

cliff 12:02 PM  

Generally the least satisfying Friday puzzle in recent memory. Agree the the colloquialisms were plain stupid -- and not on a level of broad usage that justifies them for a puzzle. Note to Will: I'll avoid all David Steinberg in the future, and you should too -- he needs to grow up first :-)

FrankStein 12:45 PM  

According to a search on google books “Vee-Dub” has been in use since about the early 70s. Perhaps of Australian origin. Bill Fisher’s How to Hot Rod your Volkswagen Beetle, from 1970, uses it. As do several slang dictionaries from the period.

crabsofsteel 1:09 PM  

VEEDUB was a LOWBLOW. Cheesy clues + obscure answers = COMEATMEBRO. What is the idea with SPELT, which in English should be SPELLED, in relation to O D O U R?

Teedmn 1:12 PM  

I had a nice distribution of black ink on this one, with the popular cOCoA starting it off. I circled the clue for 4A as nice for "turret" as a tank top and boy howdy, did that muck things up in the north.

(Spoiler for Thursday puzzle: yesterday we had boy TOY and today it's SEX TOY.)

My IED in at 36A would have worked with LILT if I hadn't put in wInd first. I thought the use of a ukulele in the 24A and 54D clues was gratuitous. I've never seen anyone use a CAPO with a uke, but with a guitar, you betcha.

Hating the clue, "Heck, yeah" for DOh, it took me a while to see TISSUE, d'oh. And I never recovered from having Call of Duty: Black Ops as rated R - I was still trying to justify shirring as a type of level when I called it a puzzle and went to check.

I just finished an article in the Oct. 29th New Yorker about Debussy and his tone poems - and if you mentally SPELT it Debussey, as I did, it would fit in at 44A. And it worked perfectly with wInd at 31D. Why I didn't put it in is anyone's guess.

Are "mimed" and APED equivalent? I CHOSE yes, but would be willing to reopen the debate.

Thanks, David, for a sneaky Friday puzzle.

Anonymous 1:15 PM  

Either I’m the only one who thought of porn STORE for 39 down (“Establishment to which customers have come for years”), or those comments have been censored. I guess I’ll find out.

JC66 1:23 PM  

@Crabsofsteel

In England odor is SPELT ODOUR.

@Anon 1:15

Good one, LMAO

pmdm 1:40 PM  

Eric Akgard stated he received a pie in the face more than once for contributing a tournament puzzle solvers hated the most. Based upon today's puzzle, I would guess that's because one of David's puzzles didn't appear in the tournaments.

Perhaps some people do say, vee-dub, but I have never heard it pronounced any way but vee-double-you. Newspaperguy, maybe you have, but the number of people who use that pronunciation is probably too low (in my estimation) to justify inclusion in the NYT puzzle. I don't think that's a problem I or anyone else has. By the way, your proposition probably has a bit of truth in it. At any rate, birds of a feather do flock together.

I don't mind learning things I don't know, but so much of the crap in a David puzzles involves entries I will forget by tomorrow. I would not call the puzzle bad. I would say that depends on the audience. And today, his puzzle was probably a bad puzzle to publish in the NY Times. At least, many of the comments here lead me to that conclusion.

Could you tell hat I disliked the puzzle a great deal?

Roo Monster 1:51 PM  

@jberg 11:55
Yes, they do. E=Everyone. T=Teen, M=Mature. I might have missed one.

The WINE STORE clue should've been worded differently. Establishment to which customers have visited for years? is much calmer and doesn't evoke the SEX TOY aspect. My two cents, BRO.

RooMonster

Adam 1:53 PM  

Further evidence the Times needs more women puzzlemakers.

Charley 2:10 PM  

Like all of Steinberg’s puzzles this was full of garbage. No one says sleep debt. It’s sleep deficit. Have you ever seen a store that sells only wine? Rare. Coolio for sweet is junk. I could go on.

Joe Bleaux 3:25 PM  

Steinberg lights me up like Agard, or Haight, but this wasn't him at his best. @Rex's first sentence is a bit strident, but ... yeah. Despite that infamous patch of Texas, I finally finished with no mistakes and no help -- whole lotta sussin' went on down there, though. (And I'm marking the date: It's quite likely that the first puzzle that I finished and @Lewis didn't will be the last😉.) Happy weekend, all.

Odd Sock 3:50 PM  

Thank you Anon 1:15 for putting that thought to words. I couldn't quite figure out how to phrase it.
So much animus today. Rex's "I don't know it so it must be junk" attitude has become contagious around here. I have come to look forward to David Steinberg's work and puzzles like today are why.
At least there was no Star Wars.

Aesop 4:00 PM  

Lots of sour grapes today.

Anonymous 4:18 PM  
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous 4:22 PM  

Also, SPELT is past tense in England.

CDilly52 4:23 PM  

Well, there are wheelhouses and outhouses and I floated from one to the other. Felt like the foot on the gas pedal was having muscle spasms. Best clue was “Spot remover?” And then there were the ones I believed I had pat but no: cocoa for MOCHA, wind for LILT, atom for ARMY (from the fierce cartoon of my youth “Atom Ant,” capo for CASE (even though we had a CAPO on the instrument yesterday). And I screamed through the rest especially where my incorrect answers were reinforced by the same letter crosses. So, now that my pity party is over, I have to say it was not special for me in any particular way but I didn’t hate it.

DavidL 4:37 PM  

According to Rex, if the puzzle is not outdated, then it's trying too hard to be fresh. Sheesh.

Anyway, thought this puzzle was easier than yesterday's, and easy for a Friday. I was surprised at the Medium/Challenging rating.

So many answers to enjoy - BOOZECRUISE, ADBLOCKER NOMEANSNO, BRAZILNUT, HEATHBARS. I have no problem with COMEATMEBRO. I even got a chuckle. The cluing was inspired, too.

However, I agree with the consensus that TONE POET is not a thing.

Sneaky Pete 5:16 PM  

@Charley 2:10 p.m: Every liquor store that I remember being in sells wine. Every wine store (excepting those on vineyards) that I remember being in sells liquor. The ones whose main focus is wine are referred to as wine stores. They’re definitely things,

Suzie 5:19 PM  

I got COME AT ME BRO as soon as I had the C, which admittedly I got from cOCoA first and then immediately erased when I realized they were shooting for MSG (and bear in mind that one can have a food allergy without there being a broader Chinese Food Syndrome caused by MSG, all ye headache-havers).

BOOZE CRUISE took me embarrassingly long to get. It was on the tip of my tongue for ages. Possibly complicated by my not remembering the existence of THE ZAX and having THings in there (as in One and Two) for a while.

SLEEP DEBT came easily once I read the clue correctly, which took about half the puzzle. I kept seeing "what causes insomnia to build up over time" and I couldn't figure out what that meant.

TONE POET was vaguely annoying, as I kept reaching for a specific composer, too. And ELHI has got to be my least favorite abbreviation of all time. On the whole, though, this wasn't as tricky as it might've been.

JQP 5:40 PM  

I think David Steinberg is one of the best constructors out there and this puzzle was great for the most part. I just can’t wait for him to outgrow these puerile double entendres. Favorite clue/answer: Tears don’t rip it/ tissue. I just hope there was no double entendre that went over my head.

Preferred Customer 6:50 PM  

I grew up saying "vee dub" . Of course I also grew up down the street from the "you dub"...

I I never see ELHI again I'll be happy, you can have Coolio too. But that's just my aesthetic.

PC

Suzie 7:15 PM  

It was usually "vee dubs" for me, not we said it too. I'm surprised to read so many comments saying they'd never heard of it before.

And yeah... no one actually says "Coolio." It's not a thing. It should go away.

Anonymous 8:17 PM  

Amen to Newspaper Guy at 12:00. Not having heard of something is not grounds for scorn and dismissal. It is usually an opportunity to learn something... one of the reasons I get up in the morning. And if SEX TOY AND BOOZE CRUISE make you gasp, you're not allowed to make fun of Mike Pence ever again. Thanks, Mr. Steinberg, for a fun puzzle.

phil phil 9:18 PM  

Had the same problems as Rex but took me alot longer and my wife had to help me out with the SEXTOYS. I got back by scoffing at her missing the MSG which stumped me because of the COCOA. wanted CGI for headache cause. Anywat my sweetie is very much affected by MSG, I nitice it too but not so adversely mostly insatiable thirst, more then salty foods.

My problem was started by 'texts' clue. Had AFAIK and wanted idest genre but couldn’t pull the trigger on the texting idea.

Z 10:12 PM  

I did this hours ago. I thought there was a lot of sparkle and a lot of dreck, so I gave the sparkle a +1 and the dreck a -1 and did a little adding. The sum was +2. Overall a good puzzle, but a lot of stuff stopping it from being a great puzzle.

COOLIO is definitely so 1990’s. Today I only ever hear it used sarcastically.

My first thought on NO MEANS NO was that the clue was off. Then I put the words into the mouth of a parent and realized the clue was fine.

As for MSG. Person does X then feels Y. One possiblity is that X caused Y. Another possibility is some factor Z happens with X and it is Z that causes Y. And a third possibility is that X preceding Y is purely a coincidence, they have nothing to with each other. What the research shows is that MSG doesn’t cause headaches.

Anonymous 10:58 PM  

Worst puzzle I ever saw.Guy has been known as a horrible constructor since he started at 16.Fill is terrible,anyone should be able to see that.

Dolgo 1:37 AM  

You obviously don't live in California.

Dolgo 1:40 AM  

You onvobviou difndi read my explanation very well

Paul Plotnick 9:58 AM  

This constructor and I are on different wavelengths for sure. I groaned when I saw his name and just knew it would be a DNF. Having owned 5 VWs, I got veedub early, but struck out here and there. Grunge Metal. Cocoa.Elhi (hate that term - what I call a crossword word-never used in real life).I have 5 ukuleles and have never used a capo or seen one used.

Trigger 12:45 PM  

The puzzle was unpleasant. But stop with the word police. THIS will be the death of democracy.

Anonymous 3:58 PM  

It’s great that hipsters want in, but please go a little slower. Thanks

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