Chief Theban deity / SUN 6-15-14 / Vietnamese coin / Title girl in 1968 hit by Turtles / Portmanteau landmass / Jane Helen Mirren's Prime Suspect role / Whitfield of Real Housewives of Atlanta / Title sneaker brand in Run-DMC / Journalist Pyle / People of Ghana Var / Truing Var / Like London Tube pricing /

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Constructor: Tony Orbach

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging

THEME: "Enrich" — "EN" is added to familiar phrases to get wacky phrases, clued "?"-style

Theme answers:
  • PREPARATION HEN (23A: Episode title for a cooking show featuring chicken recipes?)
  • LEAVENING LAS VEGAS (32A: Goal for a comic working the Strip?)
  • LET 'ER RIPEN (47A: Informal advice to an overeager picker?)
  • CAN I BE FRANKEN? (67A: Request to represent a Minnesota senator's side of a debate?)
  • RAMEN TOUGH (82A: Tarzan's response when asked if the noodles are cooked?)
  • ENSIGN OF THE ZODIAC (99A: Naval officer who's an expert in astrology?)
  • COEN ORDINATION (111A: Religious ceremony for two Hollywood brothers?)
Word of the Day: ASANTE (91D: People of Ghana: Var.) —
Ashanti, or Asante (pronunciation: /ˈæʃɑːnˈt/ a-shahn-tee), are a nation and Akan people who live predominantly in, and native to AshantiAsanteman, and in Ghana and Ivory Coast. They speak the Akan language and the Asante dialect, and are of Akan origin. Prior to European colonization, the Ashanti people developed a large and influential empire in West Africa. The Ashanti later developed the powerful Ashanti Confederacy or Asanteman and became the dominant presence in the region. The Asantehene is the political and spiritual head of the Asantes. (wikipedia)
• • •

This was an odd and, ultimately, unpleasant puzzle for me. The theme is really thin — I'm actually surprised how good some of the theme answers were considering just *now* thin — and easy to pick up, but the puzzle itself was far tougher than most recent Sunday offerings have been. Cluing very vague and enigmatic throughout, which would've been just fine, if the results had been worth it, but too often they weren't. Way too often. You hardly ever see the "Var." label in NYT puzzles anymore (much to the editor's credit). But today, two? And longer and awkwarder than you really want your "Var." to be (I mostly like my "Var."s non-existent, but that's just me). Also very, very light on the longer fill, and very dull and repetitive elsewhere. STERN *and* ASTERN? Wince. CAN TOO *and* ARE NOT. Yikes, the dreaded double-playground-retort. Unfortunate. EN DASH in a puzzle whose theme is adding "EN"? There's just an overall lack of smoothness and elegance. Also, a makeshiftness. SATIVA? HAO? Never seen either. SHEREE??? (119A: Whitfield of "The Real Housewives of Atlanta") No Siree. PENNIB looks nuts. Do you say IN REPAIR. I would think an adjective needs to get shoved in there to make real sense. I had to wait on MAY I or CAN I BE FRANKEN (an annoying wait with no aha moment involved). The whole thing was just a slog. A few of the theme answers are kinda worth it (I like the FRANKEN one best of all), but the first two feel forced. I don't feel EN-RAGE, but I don't feel good, either.

The worst problem, though, from a fairness perspective, is TENNISON (62A: Jane ___, Helen Mirren's "Prime Suspect" role). First of all, even people who have seen it before (hand up) aren't necessarily going to remember that. But that's fine. It's a valid answer nonetheless, if crossed fairly. Problem: it's not. That is not a standard name spelling. The poet is TENNYSON. He's famous. This spelling here … never seen it. So—to the crosses. And we get the super-strangely-spelled ELENORE (48D: Title girl in a 1968 hit by the Turtles), where the second "E" could easy easy easily have been an "I" (ELINORE … yes, more believable than ELENORE for sure). And then we get I WON where I WIN works perfectly as well (50D: When repeated, a happy cry). That really should've been ICON or IN ON or IRON or some other actual word that would've created no confusion. Two vowels inside a non-famous proper noun have crosses which can easily be different vowels; that's just … bad. I mean, it's bad editing. I can see how TENNISON looks better than TINNISON or TINNISIN or TENNISIN, in retrospect, but only marginally. You have to be very, very careful about the vowels in proper nouns, especially those you can't legitimately expect most people to know how to spell. There's an unfortunate carelessness about the construction here.

Vacation last week means I'm quite behind on my puzzle-solving, so I'm going to hold off doing a Puzzle of the Week this week (again), and either do Three next week or wait til the end of June and give out four Puzzles of the Month at that point. We'll see.

Going back down to watch England / Italy. (Update: England lost; but you knew that by now)

Enjoy your day.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Anonymous 12:38 AM  

Just boring. This theme doesn't deserve the pathetic fill. If they want to publish a theme this week then the fill better be fantastic. Not worth the effort.

Mussolini 12:40 AM  

I second the motion on TENNISON, and do so with the added credibility of just this morning reading the blurb about Prime Suspect, deciding whether to watch it or not.

Death to all anglophiles

jae 1:02 AM  

Easy-medium for me.  Top half easier than the bottom.  Most troublesome erasure was mAy before CAN.  That, and not quite believing I WON needed to be repeated to be a happy cry. 

Wondered about LEAVENING.  Seems a second def. is making the mood less serious as opposed to making bread more fluffy.

Ok Sun.  Mildly amusing and a more pleasant solve for me than for @Rex, but then I knew both the ELENORE and TENNISON spellings.  The former from crosswords the latter from having seen all the episodes.

Prime Suspect and Helen Mirren fan 1:29 AM  

I disagree with the hypothesis that "Tennison" is unfair. This show was on for a long time and won numerous Emmys, with three of these awards being granted as recently as 2007. The show ran for many years as well.

chefwen 1:32 AM  

Liked it a lot more than @Rex, but I agree that it was bit of a slog. Part time puzzle partner off Island again so there was no passing it "to and fro". Renter boy not much help unless I run across a rapper that I don't know. He's a young un'. PB AND J was my first fill and crossed my fingers that it was right and not something like an orange.

If anyone wants to prepare some HENs, we have a plethora of them here.

Now that I look back on it I would like to remove my slog statement. I did enjoy it, it's my mood that needs improving. I'm thinking a glass of wine would help.

Capcha - see usa - is that an order? Sounds like a good idea though.

Steve J 1:46 AM  

What a tortured, awkward and ultimately unpleasant theme. (@chefwen: I had a couple glasses of wine around solving this, and it didn't improve my impression.) How the hell does LEAVENING LAS VEGAS make any sense in context of a comic? Maybe a baker working the Strip. Which still makes no sense. (@jae: Thanks for the alternate definition. The clue/answer combo still sucks. When's the last time anyone used leaveningin that sense?) That was by far the worst of the themers, but that's really just damning the others with faint praise.

I absolutely loved the clue for SAAB. One of the most brilliant I've seen. Kept reading the clue as 9 to 5, wondering what the hell SA__ could possibly be, when the lightbulb clicked and I realized the reference was to the SAAB 9-5 car. It's a shame that SAAB went bust. I loved their quirky cars.

Unfortunately, one fantastic clue wasn't enough to overcome a brutal theme and puzzle that didn't have much zip. Sloggiest Sunday in a long while.

Steve J 1:59 AM  

@Rex: I'm curious how not flagging variants is to the editor's credit. One of my biggest gripes with the NYT is running spellings that can be found 15 pages deep in Google results without any kind of indication that a non-standard spelling is being sought. Just because you can find AMIR or COHOE somewhere doesn't make it good fill, and failing to flag it makes it even worse in my little corner of the world.

I'd rather not have such var.s, but at least give a hint - just as is done with abbreviations - when they do end up in the grid.

JDipinto 2:14 AM  

Well, I liked that the puzzle included both Elenore (the first answer I put in) as well as her brother Eminor.

JDipinto 2:18 AM  

Well, I liked that the puzzle included both Elenore (the first answer I put in) as well as her rhyming brother Eminor.

JDipinto 2:27 AM  

Well, I liked that the puzzle included both Elenore (the first answer I put in) as well as her brother Eminor. (I didn't mean to post twice, I was trying to edit. Whatever...)

chefwen 2:28 AM  

Elizabeth Gorski over at the LA times tomorrow. Have not started it, but it looks promising.

O.K. @Steve J. You are right on the LEAVENING LAS VEGAS sticht, makes no sense, reinsert slog. You are also right that the wine did not improve the puzzle, but I tried, and I will keep on doing so.

Anonymous 3:49 AM  

This was abysmally bad. And could they not find anyone in NY who speaks Spanish? No Spanish speaker anywhere says "uno feliz año nuevo". It's "un feliz año nuevo". This is beyond lazy and into just plain wrong. This constructor's talents in Spanish are even worse than in English, and that's saying something.

jae 4:55 AM  

@Anon 3:49 - As a marginal Spanish speaker I think what the clue was going for was the count down to New Years which would start at the number 10 (diez) and end at the number 1(UNO). You may in the future want to take a deep breath before you post even if you opt for the anonymous option.

Dawn 5:42 AM  

@Steve J and @ Chef Wen:

LEAVENINGLASVEGAS does make sense. Leavening refers to Levity. Not having wine helped- just joking!!

Bob Kerfuffle 6:07 AM  

I enjoyed figuring out the themers, especially LEAVENING LAS VEGAS. And the SAAB 9 - 5 was a wonderful aha! moment.

But since we all base our complaints on our individual ignorance, I found the crossing of 91 D ASHANTE and 119 A SHEREE a Natick, and finished on paper with SHIREE - as with Rex's struggle with TENNISON, proper names can be anything, and the ASHANTE is actually clued as a variant.

Only noticed from Rex's write-up the almost symmetrical placement of 90 D ENDASH and 17 D ENRAGE, which could almost be themers Looking at the clue for 90 A, my first guess would be DASH; then I saw I needed two more letters and left it to the crossing to determine if it was EM or EN (that ignorance again.) Can't quite come up with a way to make ENRAGE fit the theme, though.

Few minor write-overs, 13 D ZONED before ZONAL; 67 A MAY before CAN, etc.

Anonymous 6:33 AM  

Welcome back @Rex!

Even though I may not agree with all of your assessments (for starters, this rather straightforward puzzle was NOT medium/challenging), I am happy to see a rejuvenated and articulate Rex Parker return to this blog.

This shows that everyone needs a break from time to time, even the incomparable Mr. Parker.

Vivat rex!


TokyoRacer 6:52 AM  

Agree with Rex and totally disagree with Prime Suspect fan. The clue is unfair. It doesn't matter if the show was on for several years and won awards. If you have not watched the show, you cannot get the answer. It's not a word, so you can't remember it/figure it out/guess it from the other letters. Only people who have watched (in fact are big fans of) the show can know the answer. That is unfair to the rest of us.

Danp 7:15 AM  

Two weeks ago the theme was ALADDIN. I think Will Shortz needs to broaden his limited scope of "good ideas in the world". And once again, the themers and especially their clues were dreadful. How do you make COENORDINATION worth solving? You at least need a clue that suggests the two words were put together purposefully. And PREPARATIONHEN? Not even Alton Brown would name one of his episodes something that forced.

chefbea 7:54 AM  

I really was expecting a father's day puzzle!! I agree it was a slog but I did like 23 across!! @Chefwen..can you send me a hen or two? Might serve it with ramen noodles.

Happy father's day!!

OISK 7:57 AM  

Add me to the Tinnison-Elinore failures. Never watched the show (although my wife did) - had a hunch that it was Tennison, but Elenore? Elinore looked so much better…Otherwise, plenty not to like...

Carola 8:22 AM  

WOW, TOUGH! Took me forever, but I was determined to finish - which I didn't. Like @Bob Kerfuffle, I ended with ASANTi x SHiREE.

I was slowed down by a raft of proper names I didn't know - for every LATIFAH there was an ELENORE - and clues like "Portmanteau landmass" that left me with ??? dancing over my head. Mistakes didn't help: Basin for BEALE, PansY, HEDONISt, ALaRm, TENNySON. SUFIS it to say (Hi @Leapfinger!) that I came close to throwing in the towel a bunch of times.

In the end, RAMEN TOUGH provided the LEAVENING I needed to make it all worthwhile. I thought LET 'ER RIPEN was good, too. Other plusses - the SAAB clue and being reminded how to spell VANUATU. Oh, also HEN crossing THE EGG.

@Bob K - Thanks for pointing out how EN-RAGE and EN-DASH are positioned as almost-themers.

evil doug 8:38 AM  

Gotta love a song with creative lyrics like these:

"Elenore, gee, I think you're swell
And you really do me well
You're my pride and joy, et cetera...."


Leapfinger 8:38 AM  

Interesting. On almost any given Sunday, there'll be a number of 'bit of a slog's or 'total slog's cropping up But you have to realize that if you're used to running 5Ks, a 10K is going to be a grind. Six days a week, we're used to 15x15s, so if you've done 200 squares and note that you're only half-way through, it's almost bound to make you go "Dang!". For that reason, a 21x21 needs to be extra Sunny, have some extra LEAVENING. Or the solver has to reset the expectation-o-meter.

@DanP, based on very limited experience (your recent alternate clue comment), I've pegged you for having a good sense of humour, but I'm disagreeing with you today. PREPARATION-HEN made me laugh, because it was both a surprise and a great switch. I'm sure there are people whose lives are made misery by them, but there's just something comical about 'roids. Plus, there was a time I read about the trick of using PREPARATION-H for puffy eyes, since it shrinks swelling, and decided to try it, though my eyes didn't particularly puff (then). And promptly discovered that that particular active ingredient had been removed from the formula, so I felt particularly foolish to have put 'roid cream on my face. [One time only.]

Thought COENORDINATION the cleverest of the lot, since I'm a big-time COEN Bros. fan, as well as for the alterred meaning and the image the clue evokes. Also, I played with the theme trick a bit, and it's much harder to 'see' an EN inserted than to just tack it onto the front or back
So. Extra points for that.

Re the 'no fair' issue: that's kind of silly. It's a puzzle. We're supposed to try to solve it. We aren't in the schoolyard anymore. If it disgruntles you, that's different; you're entitled.

My gruntle was called into question, like @Mr Kerfuffle's, for SHEREE, and also in the 93A, 83D area. 94D coulda been JIMI, TIMI, SIMI or RIMI; 83D coulda been any of assorted 4-letter N--A rivers. *Finally*, my vision cleared to let me see AMP, but it was a TOUGH row to HO.

Only writeover was 80A[Command]= HALT --> HELM, and I'm sure that was on account of me blocking our erstwhile senator from NC.

Lots of good fill; enjoyed my Sunday Slog, front orbach.

Glimmerglass 8:39 AM  

In a really good (that is to say, challenging) puzzle, there's no such thing as an unfair clue -- just a bit of trivia you don't happen to know. If it's very obscure, well that's what makes the puzzle a challenge. You work it out from crosses. When two such clues intersect, we call that a Natick, but it's just something that happens. I wasn't crazy about today's puzzle, but I think EN DASH and ENRAGE were intentional and clever.

Unknown 8:44 AM  

Agree with Rex, and ditto Danp. I saw the title, knew what was going to happen, and flashed back to Aladdin. I forget who said it but this was a slog. I enjoy a good challenge, but there is a big difference between a challenge and a slog. When you are finished with a challenge, you are proud of yourself and do not feel that your time was wasted. When I finished this one, I did not say "I WON, I WON!" but rather "ugh." Sorry.

Anonymous 8:57 AM  

Love coming to the blog and seeing that not only does your post address all of my issues with the puzzle, but also caps it off with a great song by Stephen Malkmus. You've truly outdone yourself, enjoy the rest of your Sunday.

Leapfinger 8:58 AM  

@Carola, Hi back atcha! SUFIS goes back decades [for me] to Lessing's Golden Notebook...Now *there's* a slog!! And I was trying so hard to like it.

Why did the chickHEN cross the EGG? To get to the other fried? [ouch]

@Eevil, bolled me over again. Now thinking of all those inane lyrics. 'Why must I be a teenager in love?'...Well, you know, you don't gotta 'must be' anything of the kind.

jberg 9:02 AM  

I finished with the ASANTi/SHiREE error. I knew the former, no idea about SHEREE.

As for "Prime Suspect," I've never watched it -- but if I had, I'm not sure watching a TV show really helps you learn how a character's name is spelled (unless you watch it in a non-English-speaking country, with subtitles!) I just went with plausibility for that E. Tannison and Tinnison seem unlikley, and Tunnison, a real name, would give us the even less likely ELuNOR.

I'm with @leapfinger on PREPARATION HEN. Not sure it passes the breakfast test, but I've never cared about that.

@Steve J, I thought @Rex's point was not that variants should be unflagged, but that they should be avoided if possible - so that it's too the editor's credit if there have been few lately.

@jae, me too for thinking a single I WON! would be happy enough.

sharp and stark before STERN, May before CAN, DoH! before DUH (more accurate for the head slap, I think), and AMoN RA before his brother in the AMEN corner. Also lOW before WOW (as in 'prices hit a floor of ... before trending up'). A slog, but that's what Sundays are for, no?

r.alphbunker 9:08 AM  

I wanted to settle for nothing less than PERFECTioN for {Beauty ideal} but the "io" was no help. Needed to erase it to see TEN.

TiNNISON did not look right but it looked better than ELENORE. This was another exception to the i before e rule.

Somebody needs to do an analysis of the eight years of postings to this blog to see if "slog" has ever been used to refer to an activity other than solving the puzzle.

r.alphbunker 9:10 AM  

You are amazing. You used "slog" to refer to reading a book!

Moly Shu 9:15 AM  

I'm taking @Jae's advice.
Deep breath.
Agree with @SteveJ right down to the SAAB 9-5, great car.
Hand up for SHiREE.
Happy @OISK got LATIFAH.
Never heard of Prime Suspect, let alone watch it, lucky to know ELENOR.
Now I'm going to slather my face in PREPARATIONH, just like all the cool (@Leapfinger) kids do.

Davidph 9:35 AM  

Arrgh! One silly vowel away from a solve, for the second day in a row. I thought the Dvorak was in aMINOR instead of EMINOR. (I play the piano; what do I know about symphonies?) That made the cross aDIT. Hey, that's a word!

Ludyjynn 9:42 AM  

@Rex, Reading your on-point comments today was more interesting and enjoyable than the solve itself. Welcome back!

I am embarrassed to admit that my gimme opening answer to the puzz. was SHEREE, one of the original hair-pulling, low class b#$!&#s on the highest-rated of the ubiquitous (so-called) "Real Housewives" franchise on Bravo t.v. I blame Andy Cohen, a network exec. there, for taking the cable station from its original arts-based programming format to the gutter "reality" glut of crap which is now shown and re-run 24/7. Low cost to produce for parent co. NBC; apparently reaping huge profits for what I call train-wreck shows.
UGH! Okay, I just climbed down from my soapbox.

Happy Father's Day, Guys. Be careful w/ the lighter fluid today!

David L. 9:54 AM  

Totally agree with Rex - very annoying slog. And why not a Father's Day theme?

Loren Muse Smith 9:58 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Loren Muse Smith 9:59 AM  

Agreed this was a little harder than I'm used to for a Sunday, but I finished with one square blank (I don't have Mr. Happy Pencil to answer to): NAPA/AHN. I had gone with "arm" for AMP and figured "Rimi" was a reasonable name for that food critic (Morning, @Leapfinger). Anyway, I didn't try to guess that A.

Rex, @Bob - I saw those two extra ENs, too, but I didn't notice that they're almost symmetrical. Good catch, Bob!

It took me forever to suss out RAMEN TOUGH because I guess I don't know "ram tough." I just googled it. Sheesh. I'm probably the only one in the country who didn't know that one.

Also, I didn't even know NOB was a word.

And since I had _ __GLAS _ I couldn't lose some kind of "glass" idea for LEAVENING LAS VEGAS.
"Basin" (Hi, @Carola) and "worm" (FARE) further mucked up that area, so the northeast corner was a knock-down-drag-out and the last to fall.

@Leap again – I liked PREPARATION HEN, too, and I'm right there with you – I tried that stuff on my eyes once when I read that Jennifer Aniston did it. Lemmings and all that. . .

Maybe it's from science fiction movies, but TENDRIL carries with it some kind of evil feeling and makes me feel nervous. "To her horror, DEBORAH slowly realized that there was a TENDRIL wrapping itself around her SHINBONE…"

With ELENORE nearby, I keep seeing EMINOR as her husband. Funny that ELENORE's presence brings another unexpected EN.

@Ludyjyn – Uh, good morning from the gutter! It's not at all lost on me that I was all over SHEREÉ (even though she hasn't been a cast member since 2012, and, yes, that accent is on the last E just like my middle name on my birth certificate, Reneé) but others are talking about the spelling of TENNISON, which I certainly didn't catch. When I see it spelled the poet way, I notice it looks better, but I sure would have never picked up on that. I was just wondering as I filled it in why it was clued that way. (@r.alph – I would say that trying to read any Tennyson would be a slog for me.)

So, @CR in MN form yesterday – glad you found the nerve to post here! I think you'll find that though this place is full of extraordinarily erudite, educated people who show good-natured tolerance for those of us who don't speak Tennyson, who use forced alliteration, who make goofs with its and it's, and who don't even always finish the puzzle. Welcome abored!

In the end, I liked the themers and enjoyed the puzzle, Tony! How 'bout this one: the mad scientist, upon noticing that the TENDRIL wrapping itself around anything it can find is slowly taking on the form of his own father… "Igor! I'm afraid we're growing a parent!"

AliasZ 10:28 AM  

Oh come on folks, it wasn't all that bad. It did not have ENHALO in it evEN though it could have beEN a themer. I found it fun and ENtertaining, if a little tougher than the usual Tuesday-ish Sunday.

It was also ENriched by many EN-words scattered around besides EN-DASH and ENRAGE: ar-EN-t, perfectt-EN, EN-tr', am-EN-ra, el-EN-ore, t-EN-dril, t-EN-nison, p-EN-nib, b-EN-eath, g-EN-t, oh-EN-ry and stam-EN-s. Did I miss any?

SCHULTZ, Schlitz and Schaefer are all great old beers. SAAB crossing NAAN was rather cute, yes maam.

The following are all in the encyclopedia of common crossword knowledge, and if they are not, should be:

- All the names associated with the following shows: "Hogan's Heroes," "Blazing Saddles," "Dr. T & the Women," "Prime Suspect," "Life is Beautiful," "Kung Fu," "Arsenic and Old Lace," "Veronica Mars," "Chicago," "An Affair to Remember," "Peter Pan" and "Real Housewives of Atlanta."
- HAO is a Vietnamese coin.
- NOB is not spelled with a K.
- ELENORE by the Turtles did not refer to Eleanor Roosevelt.
- Archipelago names in the South Pacific.

OK, it wasn't a PERFECT TEN, nor my all-time favorite Sunday puzzle, but it wasn't the worst either.

But I am sure Fats Waller's own version of Dem Dry Bones will make everyone feel a lot better. SHINBONE is conspicuous by its absENce.

Enjoy your weekENd!

Benko 10:38 AM  

I agree that ENDASH was intentional. Seemed that way to me. STERN and ASTERN in the same puzzle is a rare 5 letter dupe in nontheme fill, though. Strange.
I have to admit that this puzzle rubbed me the wrong way, same as many other solvers. There were several times while solving I thought to myself, "Really??? That's not good."
Stephen Malkmus' former band Pavement was a highlight of 90s pop rock.

Ken Wurman 10:39 AM  

"Leavening" ruined the puzzle for me.. simply a horrible answer. Loved the Turtiles / Flo and Eddie..

Carola 10:56 AM  

Acrostic solvers - Interesting echo of one of the crossword puzzle entries/ comments.

@Leapfinger - Wait, it's okay to use "slog" together with The Golden Notebook? Out loud? :) I did some major bookshelf triage this week but couldn't manage to part with it.

Leapfinger 11:03 AM  

@jberg: If you do the puzzle late night, there's no breakfast test...It's someone else's problem!

@r.alph: Scary tie-in! Now it's your job to search the last 8 years for 'slog's, see if I'm the first.

@Moly Shu et alii: Dang! I hope I haven't started a trend. NB to all interested parties -- [that's an ENDASH] The shrinking ingredient has been removed from the formula. Mostly all that's left is the anesthetizing stuff. If you put PREPARATION-H on your face, you mightn't know which part to sit on.

@tu m'amuse: If you think TENDRIL is scary, look up the Tingler, early 60s horror flick. Will send shivers down the spine.
Re your very good if tortuous lead-in 'growing a parent': The child is father to the man. Pretty cool parallel, si?

These may now be a let-down:
NORTHERN lights yesterday, AURORA borealis today.
From ANEG to TYPEAB, Bloody good
PBANDJ: 1 vowel, 5 consonants. Sweet!
EURASIA, I'm Africa.
The SHINBONE connected to the HIP? Brrrap, wrong! And the KNEE is *badly* dislocated.
LEAN SIN vs Fat Piety: your choice. HERESY? PERhaps.

EN-SCHULTZigen mich, BURGER-Meisters, but I'm having trouble turning off this Leapy FAWCETT. HAO do you like that? Hope no STERN rebukes, maybe some of these ARTICLE-worthy.

Happy Paterfamilias all around!

JD 11:05 AM  

Gere's wife in Dr T and the Women. Not knowing that and not giving a damn that I didn't was the most satisfying moment in not solving this thing. No wait. Not knowing whitfield of the Real Housewives of Atlanta. Yea that's it. No, no wait. It was the Gere thing. Oh gosh, I'm just torn

Z 11:17 AM  

LEAVENING caused problems? Uh, definitely a PICNIC problem (Problem In Chair, Not In Crossword). A couple of great groaners, the rapper P BAND J, your usual range of improbable knowledge (Egyptian gods to Real Housewives), Jane TENNISON and Farrah FAWCETT fighting over GUIDO, and two, count them, two IDAS. What's not to love.

Youngest graduated yesterday. I say this with only a tiny bit of bias, one of the nicest young men you could ever meet and a wonderful Father's Day present.

jdv 11:31 AM  

Challenging w/2 errors. TiNNESON and ASANTi. It took me 29 minutes to track down these errors. I was really, really hoping for a Patrick Berry puzzle today. I can always trust that the fill will be good and the phrases familiar. In short, I needed a puzzle that I could trust; especially after the last few days. This puzzle gets my vote as worst of the year. First of all, the military abbreviation for Yeoman is YN. Echo what Rex said about TENNISON/IWON/ELENORE and ASANTE. Can someone help me with 60d 'Need Spelling' TIRE. This is my fourth bad review in a row. Is Shortz on vacation?

Anonymous 11:38 AM  

Fawcett crossing perfect ten was a nice touch that no one has mentioned yet...

janie 11:44 AM  

>an annoying wait with no aha moment involved

but for this solver, a "haha" moment.

"one man's meat..." and all that --


Leapfinger 11:50 AM  

Congrats @Z. Those are the Father's Day ties worth having.

HAO do you like that? Thought there'd be more coming out of Forest Hills. Consider the gauntlet thrown. If you thought the theme thin, Turn ENtail and move on:

Tales from the ENcrypt
ENgender neutrality
(ENgrave consequences
(ENviable option
New River ENgorge [have rafted it, Ha!]
ENgross National Product
Thyroid ENgland
ENquire of paper [that would be NYT]
ENgross Anatomy
Trick or ENtreats
ENtropic of Cancer/ Capricorn
ENtail lights are the ENding on my car

Vegetative, some from a Grocery ENlist:
Oak/Maple ENtrees [Maple is tastier]
Apple ENcore
Queue ENcumber
Sleazy ENdives

ENure the Top
Gregorian ENchant
Happy ENtrails To You

My personal favourite: Albrecht ENdurer, the ENgraver

Until we meet again.

Anonymous 12:05 PM  

Was forced to upgrade to the new app today, had been resisting. I admit the old one was far from perfect, but still not happy

Arlene 12:11 PM  

I didn't finish - even with Googling. I can't even remember the last time that happened. I got all the theme answers, even if I didn't know why.

I guess I'm another person who never heard of RAM TOUGH even though I guessed right.

And I really thought we were working on a PERFECT TAN - which would have made it Basin Street Blues.


Virginia 12:43 PM  

I can't see how "Tennison" is any more unfair than the names of obscure baseball players. I've at least heard of Speaker and O'Doul (Thursday and Friday respectively), but Bando? Really? And I actually like baseball. The football clues leave me totally at sea. Given the number of sports clues we non-fans have to put up with, I think it's a little unreasonable to complain about clues involving long-running, award-winning TV shows.

I was able to tease out the "ramen tough" answer, but I didn't get the pun until the comments here reminded me of the old ad campaign. Pretty dumb (both me and the clue). On the other hand, I liked "Coen ordination" a lot.

Mohair Sam 12:55 PM  

Aha moment of the decade for me - owned a Saab 9-5 for 6 years, favorite car ever, and last letter in this puzzle was the "B" in NOB replacing a "g". Stared at SAAB for a few seconds before the aha actually registered.

Lost a lot of time by misspelling both LATIffa and ELEanor. @Evil Doug - thanks for the reminder of the horrid lyrics. A love song probably shouldn't contain the word et cetera. How 'bout we update it with "you're my pride and joy, yada, yada, yada"?

Fine with Tennison, I misspelled her with a "y" too, but the cross with ARTICLE wasn't overly difficult once you had a couple crosses. Whenever we see a Helen Mirren movie I always recommend to my wife because "it stars DCI TENNISON."

Now we have to know the names of the Real Housewives people? There must be a dozen of those shows. Yipes.

jae 12:58 PM  

There is a reason behind the inane ELENORE lyrics. The Turtles's record co. was pressuring them write a follow up song to their hit "Happy Together." To placate the label they wrote a song that was the musical inverse of Happy and coupled it with goofy lyrics. The record co. loved it and it became a hit.

Anonymous 1:02 PM  

Last time I saw my Father I was 5 years old. He was supposed to be with the rest of us on the ship that sailed from Le Havre, but apparently some last minute business came up to delay him, supposedly for a couple of weeks. Somehow, I got 2 telegrams for my 6th birthday, one signed Papi, the other Vati, and that was it, till we heard he'd passed away about 35 years later, somewhere in Germany. A small distribution came to us, the rest went to his common-law wife. All I really have are a few photographs and some fading childhood memories. As a kid, I used to imagine he'd show up just to see how we had turned out, but that didn't happen.

So Dads, take your roles seriously, and kids, value what you have. Happy Father's Day.

Acrostic Solver 1:06 PM  

Sorry to say this was just a groaner...

LEAVENING LAS VEGAS? RAMEN TOUGH? NOT exactly KNEE-slappin' or cute- NOPE! The others were just ok.

Knew my VWS, but NOT my SAABs- had NO idea what that was til I came here.

Wanted Rex to be harsher than he was.

Carola- Thanks for the TENNISON/TENNYSON hint.

Chip 1:09 PM  

ED: surprised you can't see a goof---

Anonymous 1:11 PM  


Oscar 1:27 PM  

Nice puzzle, Tony O. Don't listen to the haters or the douche bags (which covers almost everyone who comments here). I'd like to see them try to do better.

Thanks for an EN-tertaining solve! More, please!

Anonymous 1:31 PM  

There are many cultural references I don't get because I've aged out of some aspects of modern culture. I happen to have seen every ep. of Prime Suspect and took note of the spelling. But ask me about who sang some popular rap tune and I'm dead in the water. You win some, you lose some.

I struggled over about 4 entries and eventually had to ask for the answers, but I didn't think it was worth carping over as much as Rex and other commenters.

mathguy 1:34 PM  

I naticked on the V where TVAD crosses VANUATU. Is that archipelago well known?

I'm surprised that WS let LEAVENINGLASVEGAS stand.

Great alternate themers from Leapfinger. My wife laughed out loud when I showed her "Happy entrails to you."

Mr. Benson 1:35 PM  

I thought I'd also see a criticism of using the clue "A, but not B or C" (44D) in the same puzzle where A and B are themselves parts of different answers -- not just included in words, but as themselves, in their stand-alone-letter capacity, in 1A (PBANDJ) and 14A (TYPEAB).

On the plus side, I got that clue instantly and threw in ARTICLE immediately.

Fred Romagnolo 1:38 PM  

@jdv: When you tire, you need a spell of relief. @Leapfinger: Absolutely agree on "The Tingler," one of those marvelous Vincent Price B&W's of the 50's. @Carola: 1st thing I thought of when I figured the name; there was a similar connection between the two puzzles about 4 weeks ago. I laughed out loud at PREPARATIONHEN, but then thought might be considered "Bad" taste. There was an episode of "Maude" when she slathered Preparation H over her entire face to ease the wrinkles. I also thought COENORDINATION was pretty good. Still reject LEAVENINGLASVEGAS. Saw the "var." in Ashanti, so I, too, presumed ASANTi, and figured SHiREE was O.K. A natick for me. I liked it better than a lot of you. Names of major Egyptian gods is NOT esoteric knowledge. That's HERESY.

Fred Romagnolo 1:48 PM  

@Acrostic Solver: you were just a spoiler: see how I handled it. Be more careful in the future.

mac 1:49 PM  

Wow, crunchy and chewy Sunday, hardest in a long time. It also took me some time to figure out the theme, but I like the preparation hen and Can I be Franken.

I had to dig deep for Jane's last name, but I did know it, loved the show.

Happy father's day!

Anonymous 2:12 PM  

@jvd when you tire you need spelling - someone to spell you.

anon in Montreal 2:38 PM  

I liked LEAVINING once I got the sense. I had to look here for SAAB and IDAS and figured 'meh'. I don't get the connection between Tarzan and Ram Tough, unless it is that Tarzan leaves out verbs.

Melodious Funk 2:55 PM  

I guess I'll have to 'fess up. First time in a memory I had a DNF on a Sunday.

LEAVENINGLAS_EGAS. And what's a bug? _WS?


{head slap}

I thought the puzzle was tough, medium-challenging, even more. And a total delight for me.

GILL I. 2:56 PM  

According to my husband the lyrics to the Turtles song is:

Elenore gee, I think you smell
and you really look like hell.

Hand up @Loren for not getting RAMEN TOUGH but I loved ENSIGN OF THE ZODIAC and LETTER RIPEN made me laugh.
If you enjoy watching a ton of very drunk adults acting the very best of BASEST, go to the all-inclusive HEDONISM in Negril. It sounds awful if you happen to be shy and introverted like I am, but it's really fun if you let your [ahem] hair down.
Happy Father's Day to all you deserving and not so deserving folks.

Anonymous 3:01 PM  

Just for the record: that rapper some of you were so delighted to see in the puzzle the other day (who was 100% unknown to many of us) crossed with multiple can't-be-sures (BLITZED could have been HIT or LIT; JOT or DOT was possible elsewhere). So just because you didn't know TENNISON (one of the most popular BBC series of the past 25 years) and ELENORE (a song I heard hourly in high school) doesn't make them any more unfair.

Maruchka 3:03 PM  

@Jae - Your critique conjured up my favorite twice-told I WIN (var.):

"...Her lips were red, her looks were free,
Her locks were yellow as gold:
Her skin was as white as leprosy,
The Night-mare LIFE-IN-DEATH was she,
Who thicks man's blood with cold.

The naked hulk alongside came,
And the twain were casting dice;
'The game is done! I'VE WON! I'VE WON!'*
Quoth she, and whistles thrice..."

*ENphasis added by blogger.

Really liked ENSIGN OF THE ZODIAC. A movie matinee serial from long ago and far, far away..?

Happy Dad's Day!

Anonymous 3:19 PM  

Rex, you got it exactly right - -a real slog I usually manage to finish a Sunday by persistent work but after a time I decided it was not worth the effort. NYT, can I get a refund?

Maryclem 3:24 PM  

Jane Tennison a wonderful character in a wonderful show.

Moly Shu 3:31 PM  

@Oscar, wondering if I'm a hater or a douche bag? Hoping for the former, fear I'm the latter.
"Deep breaths, Moly, deep breaths"
Thanks @Jae

GILL I. 3:31 PM  

@Leapfinger....I put you in the "I have to read you twice" category so that I'm sure I'm laughing in the right place...You are a TAT aMUSEing!

Z 3:51 PM  

@Moly Shu - I always love the warm fuzzy comments. Don't you? I've decided that I'm a h8er.

Re: TENNISON - the complaint is that for those who have never seen the show (which is always most people no matter how good or popular a show*) all three vowels are hard crosses. ELENORE could just as well be ELiNORE, I WON could correctly be I WiN, and TENNySON is a poet solvers will know. If you draw a Venn Diagram of people who didn't know the rapper and people who never watched Prime Suspect I would be in the overlap. I did manage to get the rapper and TENNISON. I would put not knowing the rapper in the PICNIC column, all the crosses were fair enough for the day of the week. I do think Rex's criticism of the vowels in TENNISON has merit. I still liked the puzzle, though.

*I looked up the most watched show of 2012-13. NCIS was #1 with a average weekly viewership of 21 million. This means that roughly 290 million Americans did not watch it every week.

Leapfinger 3:58 PM  

@Gillyflower: Any place is the right place to laugh, but be careful ---[EmDASH] the LD50 is very close to the therapeutic dose.

Talk more, will you? I love to see your avatar pop up.

Shall apologize properly to @Carola tomorrow.

Anonymous 4:14 PM  

I take "uno" as being the last number in the countdown from "diez."

RnRGhost57 4:37 PM  

More work-out than fun experience. Or maybe more PREPARATION H than HEDONISM.

Rex, welcome back; the YLT and Malkmus vids much appreciated.

SenorLynn 4:45 PM  

I got Vanuatu--a neighbor got a series of little envelopes in the mail from there, one of which was misdelivered to me.I guess it's the only place to get a certain vitamin/supplement.
How is Jolly Roger a brig?

Carola 5:14 PM  

@Leapfinger - Can't wait to find out what for :)

@SenorLynn - A brig is a kind of sailing ship....and having gotten that far, I had to look it up. From Merriam-Webster: "a 2-masted square-rigged ship....short for 'brigantine'....First use 1712."

ANON B 5:15 PM  

One of the few, possibly only
puzzles I had to use Google on.
And even then the puzzle was
unpleasant. Who ever heard of
At least the Capchas are getting easier.

Anonymous 5:28 PM  

I'm glad to see us fathers getting some love on this board; after that M-O-M grid on May 11, I would've bet the ranch on a corresponding theme today. Maybe I'm just a little ouchy, having watched my newly minted college grad head off to NYC to carve out a life. A bittersweet Father's Day, but I'm blessed that he's happy and healthy and headed for good things. Best wishes to all - including the Moms who made us Dads.

Karen 7:04 PM  

Well i never watched Prime Suspect but I knew the character's name was Tennyson, or Tennison, or Tenneson.

And despite it being one of my favorite songs I always thought it was Eleanor, gee I think you're swell.

Not Elenore, you should learn to spell.

Oh well.

masfamoso 8:19 PM  

Why mention the unfairness of Tennison and not that of Ashante/Sheree, especially since the people of Ghana can be Ashanti or Ashante? If you don't watch Real Housewives, how would you know if Whitfield"s first name is Sheree or Shiree, neither of which is exactly a common first name.

Questinia 8:33 PM  

I dnf because I thought 9-5 was the movie with Dolly Parton and everyone who worked on it belonged to SAAG, the Screen American Actor's Guild.


Idiosyncratic and earnest. More fun than I've had with a Sunday in a while. Thanks Tony.

Not Rex Parker 8:44 PM  

"Never seen either. SHEREE??? (119A: Whitfield of "The Real Housewives of Atlanta") No Siree."

GILL I. 8:54 PM  

@Leapfinger....I send a caryophyllus your way...!!

Anonymous 9:09 PM  

I can't believe nobody has said anything about the YMA cross with AMENRA. That seems impossible. Are either of those even remotely known? Not by me.

r.alphbunker 9:13 PM  

The big winner was the theme. Four of the top ten references were theme answers plus several commenters (mainly @Leapfinger) came up with other theme possibilities, 32 in all.

The word slog appeared 19 times, most of them criticisms of the size of the puzzle. @Leapfinger and @Ludyjyn mentioned slogging through a book.

The word "slog" has been used 946 times in this blog since its inception on Sept 1, 2006. Not sure how many referred to the act of solving the crossword puzzle. Will announce the first use of the word slog in this capacity soon.

Nobody commented on UPN. Without looking at the puzzle do you know what it is?



Z 10:11 PM  

@r.alph - Yes, the network that broadcast Star Trek:Voyager.

@anonymous9:09 - YMA Sumac is high crosswordese on the same order as the two IDAS. Remember her, she shall return. AMEN-RA does not make quite as many appearances, but he, too, shall return like a mummy in a cheap horror flick.

Anonymous 11:38 PM  

What is the connection between Ramen noodles and Tarzan? I got it but I have to admit I don't get it.

Anonymous 12:24 AM  

Someone suggested Tarzan was invoked because he apparently didn't use verbs.

Me Tarzan, you Jane. Ramen tough.

OSr Group 1:27 AM  

Nice blog.
Block Board Manufacturer in India, Flush Door Manufacturer in India

Anonymous 10:14 AM  

"Uno" is the final word of the countdown before midnight -- I've attended many Spanish-language new year's eve services. The proper term for this is "Cuenta regresiva", but when I used to listen to the Spanglish radio station they preferred saying "tob tweny coun-down". OK, now to my point. We're on the edge of civil war because of these cultural references. This puzzle people were enraged about "Tennison", but you've got no problem with references to the Kardasians or devoting a whole like to "Souljawhatshisnamenoskillnotalent". We can avoid this civil war with a very simple rule: no proper nouns that can't be solved entirely by the surrounding context (such as "Odom" the other day re the Kardasians). I'm ready for a truce, aren't you? Till that day, I'm going to keep railing against the mindless worthless drivel that passes for American TV and movies.

Unknown 6:07 PM  

No question on puzzle; in general agree with Rex. Question about the strange videos with the commentary?

spacecraft 1:08 PM  

DNF because I JDNC (Just Did Not Care). Why wade through a morass of obscurities for a bunch of nonsense sayings that are "EN-riched?" I mean, not only do I have to know the song, I also have to know how to spell ELENORE, a name to which there are at least half a dozen variant spellings? No thanks.

And no, @lms, you are NOT the only one on the planet who didn't get "ram tough." I don't care enough to Google it, but I assume it has something to do with TV ads for Dodge trucks. Yawn.

I can slog through genuses and 3rd-rate actresses with the best of them, if there's a payoff in the offing. Today...nah.

ecanarensis 2:20 PM  

Ugh. Ugh ugh ugh. Hated this one. I also don't think that ens is enough to enexcite me (if he can nounize 'ENDASH' --YGTBK!-- I can enverb excite. Sorry, @glimmerglass, but the cross of ENDASH & ENRAGE being just sorta similarly close to the "theme" just served to point out how near-accidental the theme was...tho I confess I found ENSIGNOFTHE ZODIAC somewhat amusing.
This one served to remind me yet again how far out of today's culture I am due to not having a TV. I used to have one, @r.alphbunker --I have no trouble IDing "UPN" in instant accord with @Z no matter how much I may wish I didn't remember ST Voyager.

This one is just an ENSIGN OF THE TIMES.

Dirigonzo 3:03 PM  

Well I managed to finish it, although my completed grid is a mess, and I liked it well enough as all of the base phrases seemed reasonably "in the language" and I always like a good pun so the "wacky new phrases" made me chuckle. I ended up by guessing right on the SAAB/NOB cross but I had to come here to wee why it was right (never heard of the Saab 9-5). Life's too short to be grumpy about a crossword puzzle.

rain forest 5:36 PM  

Once again, solving the puzzle while watching the World Cup turned out to be fortuitous. The game was exciting, and so as my attention went back and forth, I didn't experience any sense of "slogging", which happens on many a Sunday. I enjoyed the them, even RAMENTOUGH (if you say it like Tarzan).

Love Helen Mirren, and TENNISON, as well as ELENORE were gimmes. Tougher in the AHN/NAPA/MIMI/AMP area, but sussable. SHEREE was a pure guess: could've been an A or an I in there.

Anyway, I'm with @Diri. I prefer to be gruntled about a puzzle.

Joshua 9:30 PM  

DNF due to the SAAb/NOb crossing.

I fully agree that SHEREE/ASANTE was a Natick. In fact, I'd prefer to call a Natick a "Sheree" instead. I used to live near Natick, Massachusetts, so at least I would recognize that as a correct spelling.

VANUATU, on the other hand, is perfectly legitimate for inclusion in the puzzle. It's a country.

Anonymous 7:23 PM  

I'm late to this party, but UNO Feliz Ano NUevo? Slipshod. NOt spanish, not idiomatic just filler. A little like in repair...... Disappointed.

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