Sci-fi narcotic / FRI 1-2-15 / Sportswriter Pasquarelli / Detroit debut of 1927 / Panegyrical lines / Fearless star 2006 / Newbery medal winning author Eleanor / Macroeconomics pioneer / 1958 #1 hit composed by Vice President Charles Dawes

Friday, January 2, 2015

Constructor: David Steinberg

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: none

Word of the Day: LEN Pasquarelli (50A: Sportswriter Pasquarelli) —
Len Pasquarelli is an American sports writer and analyst with The Sports Xchange and a 25-year veteran of covering the National Football League (NFL).The Sports Xchange is a network of professional, accredited reporters and analysts who cover each team or sport full-time.
Prior to joining the Sports Xchange, he wrote for  starting in 2001 and was a frequent contributor to the other ESPN outlets, including SportsCenterESPNEWSESPN Radio and ESPN The Magazine. Before ESPN, Pasquarelli served as a senior writer for CBS He has also covered the NFL for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution from 1989 to 1999, the Fort Wayne News-Sentinelfrom 1985 to 1989, Pro Football Weekly from 1982 to 1985, and Pittsburgh Steelers Weekly from 1978 to 1982.
Pasquarelli is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America and has twice won national awards as the Best NFL Reporter of the Year. He also has won several writing awards, including an Associated Press Deadline Sports Reporting Award in 1988. (wikipedia)
• • •

Pluto is not a planet. But a "minor planet" can be a "dwarf planet," which is what Pluto is, now, technically, which is confusing. If it's not a planet, then call it by some term doesn't have "planet" in it. Because if the term's got "planet" in it, it sounds like, uh, a planet. OK, now that that's over, this is pretty nice. Again with the long, low-lying sections (see Thursday), though here we get that thick, grid-crossing middle section (the puzzle's real highlight). Gotta admire how cleanly the whole central section came off. Acrosses are rock solid (and colorful), and the Downs are all real things. You do get something of an -ER smash-up there toward the lower right center (SWEEPER, POKER, HALER, GAINER), but it's pretty inconspicuous, and only one of them is a comparative adjective, so it's not like you're getting a bunch of the same parts of speech. Yeah, overall, this one really works. Will's core of insiders (Chen, Fagliano, Steinberg) are a pretty talented bunch, and we're seeing a lot from them recently (2 for 2 in the new year!). He needs them. Badly. Always happy to see their names.

HIS EMINENCE is practically an anagram of IN EXISTENCE. Two letters off is "practically" in my book. TIS EXINENCE. There's a strong reliance on common letters, but a. the grid never gets dull, and b. believe me, real words made from common letters are way, way better than the nightmarish stuff you'd be staring down if David had tried to cram in more "J"s. David's apparently been going to night school at the Patrick Berry Academy of Smooth.

  • 18A: Shooter for kids (TAW) — The crossword remains the only place in the world where kids still play marbles.
  • 19A: 1958 #1 hit composed by Vice President Charles Dawes ("IT'S ALL IN THE GAME") — Had all of it but the last word, and couldn't dredge it up. This made moving out of the NW impossible. Had to reboot down below, and even then had trouble moving into the middle. But MINESWEEPER was a gimme, and the center started to fall right after I got it. Toward the end, with no additional letters in place to help me, "IT'S ALL IN THE GAME" suddenly entered my head, clear as a bell. 
  • 31D: Got by (MADE DO) — Kept wanting this and then kept thinking "But … it's MADE DUE, right?" Dear lord.
  • 39D: Women, in pulp fiction (DAMES) — now you're speaking my language (pulp, that is). DAMES was the last of a four-in-a-row run of Downs I had to open the SE corner (IRIS, CDS, PETE, DAMES).
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld


Zeke 12:17 AM  

This was far and away the best, smoothest Steinberg puzzle I've done. While easy, whatever difficulty there was in the clueing, as opposed to not having participated in the litzing of Maleska's puzzles.

Anonymous 12:18 AM  

Another PAR. Par for the course?

TAW as a shooter in marbles was unfamiliar to me. Does anyone anywhere still play marbles?

For 31D, I clung to DWARF PLANET far longer than I should have, and that left the center stuck long after the relatively easy bottom and top. But sure enough, every dwarf planet is also a minor planet. After Pluto was demoted, it received designation number 134340 from the Minor Planet Center.

48D ENE was probably the first time I filled out one of these without relying on crosses. After Ebola, surely everyone knows how to find Sierra Leone on a map.

Expected 30D to be sAnER instead of HALER.

I thought Estes Kefauver would have been a less obscure choice for 54D ESTES. Your mileage may vary.

47D Pete Best was classic misdirection. He once carried out some classic misdirection of his own when he put out an album called "Best of the Beatles".

Anonymous 12:19 AM  

Oops, I meant 31A and 48A and 54A. Sigh.

jae 12:35 AM  

Easy Fri. for me.  My biggest problem was dwarf to outeR to MINOR.  That and @anon 12:18 sAnER before HALER were pretty much it.  The NW and SE went very quickly.  

Solid Fri., but not much to write home about.  I like a bit more zip.  Now back to the AV meta series.  Those are tough so far!

John Child 1:08 AM  

Hands up for sAneR. Hands up for the top and bottom being easier than the middle. Solid grid with a crazy-low word count. I have a few quibbles with clues, but that and a couple of WOEs are the stuff of late-week puzzles. All in all a fun one. Thanks Mr. Steinberg.

okanaganer 1:11 AM  

Re MINOR PLANET, aka dwarf planet:
I recently read an article on why Pluto was demoted. In 2006 the IAU decided that a planet should "clear its neighborhood", which means keeping its orbital path clear of bodies other than its own satellites. When the ratio of its own mass to all the stray bodies in its orbit was calculated, each of the 8 "real" planets scored at least 25,000 while Pluto got 0.08. However the terms "minor" and "dwarf" are still a bit controversial.

Oh, uh... why is "Rouge counterpart" = NOIR? Does that mean "White counterpart" = GREEN?

Unknown 1:15 AM  

Tough, tough Friday. 90 minutes. 9 errors. but a complete grid solve. Yeah. 9 errors, amd I finished the grid. It was work.

Steinberg's clues were just vague enough to make a secondary solve plausible. Strangely, I put the last 35 minutes into the NE, where I ended with no errors. Wow, but center and south look like a bad case of acne.

[Hearts] PIneS then PITtS for PITHS. Synonyms, really.
[Brand maker?] RoDeOsPOKER for REDHOTPOKER.
PINCUSsIONS was a residual from trying to make disCUSsIONS work for [Stuffed accessories] That was painful.
[Youtube upload]/[Living] CLaP/aNEXISTENCE. OK. Mine was pretty bad.
TENEMENT and TATTLETALES were invisible. I came up with a made-up proper name for the former, moNMENY. mAnTLETAnES for [Rats] You know? Harry Potter? Tolkien? Lewis Carroll? The same process led me to stab at TAW, so whike my process is not optimal, but it is also not completely wrong. And I'm not bashful about guesses, right or wrong.

MODELt for MODELA. 50-50 on the guesswork.

The proper task of life, per Nietsche: tRy for ART. I guess that was me talking, not Nietsche. The point of life is to try. If the point of life were to succeed, or be beautiful, or make ART, or whatever, I'd stop doing these damned puzzles and only do what I'm already good at. You'll have to forgive me if I gave Nietsche undue existential credit.

Steinberg led me into the forest, then left me there. I made my own way out. It could have been a better experience.

I'll be back to tRY again tomorrow.

Anonymous 1:20 AM  


Red ROUGE and black NOIR are probably a reference to roulette tables (a game originating in France).

Anonymous 1:20 AM

Jim Walker 1:22 AM  

Usually I struggle a little with young Steinberg's offerings, but this one came in well under half an hour while watching my beloved Buckeyes tough it out against a great Alabama team.

Have to rate it easy, but very snappy and clean. There Should be more words like LEGERDEMAIN. It's fun to say.

Ravini 1:28 AM  

Okanaganer-- assuming rouge and noir are your two roulette options, yes? A French invention, after all...

Enjoyed this one despite a touch of despairing slog half way through. Clever, clean cluing, I claim.

Mark 1:45 AM  

Stendhal's Le Rouge et Le Noir highlights contrapuntal secular and religious

chefwen 2:00 AM  

@Carola - Oh Ye of little faith. Yes there were quite a few heart stopping moments.

I saw the constructor and let out a groan that I'm sure was heard throughout several counties. Whipped the upper left corner in record time and had visions of me coming to the blog and reporting that I had finished a David Steinberg Friday puzzle with no outside help, and that's exactly when that image ceased. After a couple of cheats I was able to put this one to bed. Happy to have all my squares filled in, but sadly a DNF for cheating.

YUP, saner here too.

RED HOT POKER had me wincing and smelling burning flesh. Not a nice thought.

Garth 2:00 AM  

Another fine write-up by @Rex. There can only be one explanation for his past three reviews: His new year's resolution was to embrace the view that the construction of crossword puzzles is an endeavor that reflects the human condition. Thus, as we aim for improvement, we also accept the imperfections of ourselves and others.*

What a great looking puzzle. I've never quite understood the critical comments about Steinberg's puzzles. But then again, I've never quite understood a lot of the criticism I see in this blog. Are some puzzles better constructed than others? Yes. Is the fill better in some puzzles than in others? Of course. Is it OK to discuss this? Yep. But as in art-form or craft, there are going to be top practitioners and others who are trying to get there. Not everyone is going to be a John Coltrane or a Patrick Berry. And kindness is a virtue.

*I can dream, can't I?

Unknown 2:26 AM  

Pluto is a Kuiper Belt Object (KBO.) Didn't fit.

Pluto is also MINnieschum. That did fit.

Alan 3:21 AM  

Smooth fast Friday for me. Got to love REDHOT...ADULTMOVIES and MINESWEEPER.

Also got a surprising amount of enjoyment from the ART clue: I'm working my way through the nyt puzzles archive, and happened to do, earlier today, this one from Sunday, 3/24/2013

dmw 3:23 AM  

Easy Friday (which means for me, I finished it). No "cheats" but lots of check letters. How does the group feel about that? And while I am at it, what's a WOE?

There were nine 11 letter answers (and two 15's). Very good.

"Estes" often clued Park near RMNP, or something like that (Estes Park, a town at the Eastern gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado).

Anonymous 4:08 AM  

@Casco Kid,

I think maybe your imagination is your worst enemy.

"Minnie's chum" could plausibly be a crossword clue. It's never going to be a crossword answer, at least not in the New York Times, not on Will Shortz's watch. It's just an arbitrary joining of words rather than an actual common expression or idiom.

On those (hopefully rare) occasions when an answer really is some arbitrary multiple-word expression, the clue will strongly hint or set it up in some way.

Anonymous 4:33 AM  


Personally, I'm a purist. No googling, no asking a friend, no check letters (unless I've already given up as DNF). Even for a clue like "4D Calculator button", I avoid looking at a calculator. Just me and the puzzle.

On the other hand, the iPad app lets you cheat in a way. It automatically checks the puzzle as soon as you fill in all the letters, and then it tells you if it's correct or not. There's no way to turn off this feature.

So on more than one occasion, I finish filling in the letters, and then the automatic check reports "incorrect" before I can do even a cursory inspection for typos or other silly errors. I look and fix the problem, and the software still counts it as a successful completion.

But other times there's an actual Natick, and you can try first one letter and then another, and when you finally get it right, the software still counts it as successful.

On those occasions you have to use your judgment to decide whether you "really" solved it (a silly typo you would surely have caught) or not ("solving" a Natick through the process of elimination).

Omar Devone Little 5:27 AM  

The Wire

Danp 6:20 AM  

I'm surprised Pete Best didn't get sued for Best of the Beatles. Then again, in about the same era, I bought an album of hit songs through a TV ad. Imagine my surprise when I later learned the name of the band was "The Original Artists".

Anonymous 6:48 AM  

Beautifully constructed puzzle! The stack of five eleven letter words was awesome. David Steinberg is already a brilliant constructor and we can look forward to many more great puzzles from him. My only complaint is that is was way too easy for a Friday with several gimmes. As much as I enjoyed the elegance of the puzzle, I missed the satisfaction that usually comes with solving a difficult Friday NYT crossword.

Z 7:14 AM  

Lovely puzzle. NW and SE were easy, the central diagonal was tough. The only nit I have is the tripartite nature of this grid. Fortunately, enough toe holds here that it only caused a MINOR slowdown, not a train wreck.

@Casco Kid - I, too, considered Disney. Luckily, I didn't come up with "chum" and "pet" was too short. As for that Anon's comment about random words, there have been times even this week when letters looked pretty random until I grokked the clue/answer. MInnieschum is a perfectly plausible answer to the clue.

WOE=What On Earth

Susierah 7:34 AM  

The holidays have me so confused about what day of the week it is! I finished my usual early morning solve with no errors or googles in 56 minutes. All the while thinking I was doing a Steinberg Saturday. Man was I excited to finish, then after I come here, duh, realize it's friday!

My word of the day, taw. Never heard of that.

evil doug 7:54 AM  

Or, Garth, Will's New Year's resolution was to stop publishing shit puzzles (add that to your list, Pete...)

I hate Joni Mitchell. I'd rather hear Andrea Mitchell sing.

Dames, up top, lech, adult movies, entice, pin cushions, ports? Janet Reno.


r.alphbunker 8:08 AM  

I'm in training for the online version of the ACPT. Using the ACPT scoring algorithm I got 1515 points for this puzzle assuming that the solve time for the puzzle was 45 minutes.

A question: What would have been time limit assigned to this puzzle at the ACPT?

Here are the details:

Adjusted solve time = 16 min
# correct answers * 10 = 640
All correct bonus = 150
Time bonus = 25*(45-16) = 725
Score = 1515

mathguy 8:21 AM  

Good job today, Rex.

Do people say "Up top" when initiating a high five?

It wasn't at all easy for me. One of my problems was that I didn't know MINESWEEPER. I learned today that it isn't spelled "tattle tail."

Good crunch, good variety of entries, very enjoyable puzzle.

Conrad 8:29 AM  

@dmw, in my opinion there is a continuum of cheats, and it's up to each solver to draw the line between "reasonable help" and "DNF".

Some of the crutches I've used at one point or another, in order from least amount of cheating to most, based primarily on the probability of coming up with the correct answer:

6. Ask a friend or relative ("Who played the Lion in The Wizard of Oz?")

5. Search Google/Bing/Wikipedia/dead trees with a suspected or proposed answer, seeking verification ("Does 'AIT' really mean 'island'?)

4. Crossword app's "Check" function

3. Search Google/Bing/Wikipedia/dead trees with clue, looking for answer

2. Crossword Dictionary, or Search Google/Bing with "crossword clue {clue}"

1. Look up solution on Rex's blog, xwordinfo, etc., or use Crossword app's "Reveal" function

Susierah 8:50 AM  

I also got held up forever because any actor's name that starts with a j was Jolie, and 2014 is over.. Anyone else.

Also, what about today's mini? "Big name in pads?" That was an early morning shocker!

John V 9:07 AM  

Very easy, about 30 minutes. Last couple Steinberg puzzles have been much more accessible. Thanks for that, David. Only hang up was having written in MINDsweeper. Truly. Erasable gel pen is my friend.

Mohair Sam 9:12 AM  

Played medium for us. Steinberg's work always seems to have us going through one pass feeling helpless, then guessing at a couple, and then steadily building and finishing - perfect late week NYT crossword experience, imo.

Anyone else notice that Steinberg built a quintuple stack with not one word of crosswordese intersecting, not one? Wow.

Lots of stuff I knew and didn't know I knew (JETLI, MINESWEEPER, i.e.). Absolutely loved seeing LEGERDEMAIN in a puzzle.

in case nobody else has covered this: @mathguy - yes, UPTOP is a common request for a high five.

Great puzzle - As I've been watching David Steinberg seems to have gotten better and better at construction.

Dorothy Biggs 9:12 AM  

Waking up today in SEC country is wonderful. Lots of crow being served up hot and smelly. As a non-SEC fan, I love how talk went from as many SEC teams in the 4-team playoff as possible (maybe even 5!) to 0 SEC teams in the championship game. It's why they play the game, people. (That sound you hear is ESPN desperately trying to figure out how to cancel a championship game with no SEC team in it.)

Oh yeah, the puzzle.

Maybe it's that Alabama was "stunned" last night, or that SEC fan is munching on crow, but this puzzle was actually easier than most Fridays. I was "stunned" that it was a DS puzzle.

I actually put tzatziki sauce on my falafels, so I did have some trouble trying to fit that in over TAHINI...given the T start and the I ending. I resisted TAHINI because I thought it was actually in hummus. Ah well, learning at the school of xwords is continuing education.

Do New AGERS still exist? I thought they died out with the 80s.

Twangster 9:18 AM  

Great puzzle ... Van Morrison does a nice version of It's All in the Game:

Arlene 9:26 AM  

I had to Google my way through this one - allowing me to move along. Interesting how that process goes.
Par for the course for a Friday.

Mohair Sam 9:52 AM  

So OK, wife pointed out that my comment that there was no crosswordese crossing the quintuple stack was silly because there were no threes or fours. What I should have said is that everything was fresh, not forced (well, maybe HALER) - but still . . . . . how 'bout words like PITHS, CREPE, UPTOP, SLAKE for fill - awesome.

btw - Have eaten probably a thousand falafels in my life and just learned the name of the sauce today.

quilter1 10:01 AM  

First thought at seeing the grid was I'm not going anywhere with this. But then completed the lower block, NE, center and finally the top block. Me, meeting cardinal, what do I say, what do I say? Oh, yeah. Very enjoyable Friday.

Maruchka 10:04 AM  

Hands UP for HALER. Maybe 'cuz it made PIN CUSHIONS work. Pleasantly surprised (given DS history) by how swiftly it all flew by. Only real hang-UP was the middle - UP TOP? MINOR PLANET? Loved RED HOT POKER, tho. Got hung UP A TAD trying to make it IRON. Get along, little dogies! Also liked the clever clue for 46D - sad but true.

Fav of the day - SLAKE. SLAKEd my thirst mucho mas, saluting 2015. @Gilly - No gin 'tinis for A TAD :-(

Rouge et NOIR - Fromage du jour in SF, back in the day. Camembert, anyone? Uh, not now.

A happy and healthy year to all!

joho 10:08 AM  

I think this is the fastest I've ever finished a Friday and I *know* it's the fastest I've ever completed a David Steinberg puzzle! I started at 1A with the easy answer, TEACH, and just zipped on down from there until the final tiny holdup at TEK/KEYNES. Done!

Weird and wonderful solving experience ... thanks David!

Bob Kerfuffle 10:20 AM  

Good one!

Mostly easy, once I got a few footholds.

And, I am amused to say, after reading @joho's comment above, that my very first entry was the pair of gimmes at TEK/KEYNES. As often noted, each of us has a different set of strong points!

Sir Hillary 10:25 AM  

Superb Friday. I found it tough though, because the single PORTS linking the top and bottom to the middle left me stranded for a while. The central section fell last, but it was not easy or even medium for me.

What an amazing grid. Only 27 across entries, which include two 15s and nine (!!) 11s. That middle section is stunning.

UPTOP made me chuckle, because it seems so dorky these days. I can only see someone like Phil Dunphy actually saying it.

What made me chuckle even harder was the thought of Nick NOLTE as sexiest anything. His infamous mug shot is all I can remember.

Loved the results of both college playoff games yesterday. Pac 12 vs. Big 10 -- sit down, SEC. Go Ducks!

Whirred Whacks 10:37 AM  

Bucks and Ducks!

Medium for me (40').

REWEDS was last for me (took me a while to think of a context for "takes a second"). Got TAW from crosses. Never heard of it (and I did play marbles a long time ago).

Best clue for 2015 (so far): "Group for people who are feeling blue." DEMOCRATIC PARTY
Perfect. :-)

Bucks and Ducks!

Nancy 10:37 AM  

Also had SANER instead of HALER. I think we all were fooled because SANER is such a puzzle perennial. And that kept me, like so many others, from seeing CUSHIONS instead of CUSSIONS. I really liked the zippy, non-proper-name answers: TATTLETALES, HIS EMINENCE, RED HOT POKER, LEGERDEMAIN. A treat, even though it was pretty easy for a Friday.

AliasZ 10:40 AM  

My new rule: Any crossword constructor who is too young to be admitted into ADULT MOVIES is not allowed to use this entry in his puzzles.

Great post-holiday sale: three puzzles for the price of one. I started with the NW puzzle and when finished, I had ITSALLINTHE. What can possibly follow that will give me a foothold in the center puzzle? Maybe IT'S ALL IN THE mind, it's all in the wind, it's all in the name, it's all in the fame. mAINER, wAINER, nAINER, fAINER makes as much sense as anything else. Then came the SW puzzle, where I ended with ___CRATIC PARTY: theoCRATIC, buroCRATIC, hipoCRATIC? Once again I had no inroads into the center. 32D could have been some kind of ____TENT with auToCRATIC, no? And this describes why I hate secluded corners.

Otherwise it was a fairly clean puzzle, RIPENER and HALER notwithstanding. RIPENER is what I call a person who does not believe in personal hygiene, and days or weeks pass without a bath. The M-W definition for HALE is: "free from defect, disease, or infirmity." One is either free from defect, disease or infirmity, or not. There are no grades of "free from", logically speaking. How would you even use HALER in a sentence? "My uncle Bob's mind is HALER than your aunt Mildred's."

MADEDO is the site where the final battle between good and evil, also called Armadedon, will take place during the end times.
TAHINI is the exotic South-Pacific island where Paul Gaugin painted all those naked beauties.
Am I reading these right?

"I tawt I TAW a puddy tat!" Where did I hear this? I am drawing a blanc.

Jacques Ibert (1890-1962) composed "Escales" (PORTS of Call) in 1922-24. Let us listen to this lively performance of the final port, Valencia, by the Detroit Symphony and Paul Paray, who also conducted the world premiere of the work in Paris.

Happy Friday!

Joseph Michael 10:40 AM  

So far 2015 has been a year of excellent puzzles.

Didn't know LEGERDEMAIN but liked learning it. Also liked the clue for 40A.

Elaina 10:58 AM  

Legerdemain is such a lovely word. I tired to fit in SLIGHTOFHAND first, then switched to the French form. I also got stuck with SANER rather than HALER and OVER (7D) rather than EVEN. Since I can't spell in any context I had ADAMENT for a long time.
@dmw - Due to my spelling issues I fall back on the check function when things get impossible - and almost always find it is because of a spelling error, usually involving vowels. I refuse to use google or wikipedia but call on my husband when questions involve popular music, cars or golf.

Wine Diver 11:05 AM  

I had OVER instead of EVEN for 7D (Like 2014 but not 2015 ) as i thought that was clever and timely.

Teedmn 11:10 AM  

Official DNF since I looked up the definition of "panegyrical". I had in my head that it referred to the longitude or latitude lines but the definition led me to ODE. And it did me no good. Like @rex, I came to the end of IT'S ALL IN THE and could think of nothing but "wrist", obviously wrong for many reasons!

So I took a break, read the funnies (humor supposedly ups your ability to reason, so I've read) and came back. Where I had only DAMES crossing DYNE in the lower two thirds, I suddenly got OPED and finished all the way back up to TA? crossing RE?EDS. I was going to put in B for no reason but put in W instead and my jaw dropped when I got the happy music. REWEDS now made sense but had to look up TAW. Just a weird solve today, 40 or so minutes of head-scratching but no Googles. So very fun in my book. Thanks, David Steinberg!

ps: @ Casco Kid's PINCUSsIONS must be the injuries they get in that extreme contact sport of bowling :-) .

evil doug 11:15 AM  

JERRY: Hey, Elaine, have you noticed your boyfriend has developed an annoying little habit?

ELAINE: (Squints, imitating Puddy) The squinting?


ELAINE: (Stares ahead, again, imitating Puddy) The staring?

JERRY: No. He keeps asking me to give him a high-five.

ELAINE: I thought all guys do that.

JERRY: Slapping hands is the lowest form of male primate ritual. In fact, even some of them have moved on - they’re using sign language now.

ELAINE: Is that bad?

JERRY: What do you think the Nazis were doin’? (Imitates the Nazi’s salute) That was the heil-five.

Hartley70 11:19 AM  

NW went in like a dream, then the South. I spent a little time trying to put some Disney in the middle, but it worked itself out fairly quickly. Then I hit that nasty little finger sticking up in the NE. Could not do it!

Favorite answer was ALL IN THE GAME. A delightful "who knew?"

mac 11:22 AM  

Beautiful puzzle, especially the staircase quint stack, but not easy for me.

@John Verel: you should patent that mind sweeper!

Falafel is even better with both hummus and very garlicky tzatziki.

Unknown 11:41 AM  

@Teedmn, Indeed, I had considered conCUSsIOnS as [Stuffed accessories].

The wilder my guesses, the less I trust the cluing. That MINORPLANET was relatively easy for me this time means I still don't trust David Steinberg.

Anonymous 12:01 PM  

Really enjoyed both yesterday and today!

Carola 12:04 PM  

Very enjoyable to solve. Happy memories of slow-dancing to IT'S ALL IN THE GAME accompanied me as I waltzed through the NW and then did a slow-motion bunny-hop around the rest of the grid.

Thoughts of "Thanks goodness for previous crosswords" at TEK, NOLTE, and ...sAnER. For "hokus-pokus," I took a stab with "abracadabra" - it fits!
REWEDS was also my last - had to run the alphabet for the W.

@chefwen - Faith restored! :) Great to see Melvin Gordon shine and Barry get the win - and very satisfying to get some validation for the Big Ten.

retired_chemist 12:05 PM  

I have changed. When David Steinberg first was in the NYT I did not like his work. He has IMO grown into one of the better constructors around. This puzzle is an exemplar. All lively and nothing to criticize.

Thank you, Mr. Steinberg.

Fred Romagnolo 12:18 PM  

At first I thought DEMOCRATIC state, 'cause they're colored blue, but DAMES & TYRANT gave me party, but didn't get the joke 'til this blog! I thought the game was called "battleship," but it didn't fit, then the crosses gave it to me. @Casco: I knew that the MODEL A was towards the end of the 20's from reading "Only Yesterday," the superb history of that era. I've never had a falafel, but crosses saved me there. @Marushka: I knew roulette and the novel, but had forgotten the cheese, thanks. Anyone notice that POTATOES had the same spelling as that of an unfairly criticized Veep? I didn't know TEK but soma wouldn't fit, but will I remember it? No one mentioned that IT'S ALL IN THE GAME, wasn't written in 1958, but much earlier, in '58 it was a golden oldie. Unlike almost everyone else, I got the middle first and branched from there.

Steve J 12:24 PM  

While I generally dislike grids that allow only one entry point into major sections, this was pretty well done. Good fill, and clean at that, and nice cluing (the latter is the best evidence of Steinberg's maturing as a constructor; he used to seem to try too hard for obscurity, but now things seem natural). Good, medium-challenging Friday here (I couldn't crack the far NW corner without googling, since like any, I had IT'S ALL IN THE ____).

old timer 12:38 PM  

Here in California, we saw lots of Oregon games on TV this year. I swear the Ducks are the best I have ever seen. Ever. Of course on any given Saturday.... Or Monday or whenever that college championship is being played.

Oh. There was a puzzle? Easiest Friday for me in a long time. If you went to Cat'lic school, you knew what to call your Cardinal: His Eminence, James Francis Cardinal McIntyre. I wonder if they still do that? Put the word Cardinal after the first names and before the last?

I remember the song "It's All in the Game". Didn't know VP Dawes wrote it though. That helped me finish the top. Gave up on the middle, and easily guessd "INEXISTENCE". And, knowing there is nothing like a DAME, the Democrats came into view.

I had REDHOT on one side of the middle and PLANET on the other. I thought the stuffed accessories would be something else, but PINCUSHIONS became obvious -- and it also became obvious that SANER was wrong and HALER was right.

Rex was right to rate this as easy-medium and equally right to praise it. It was very much in Patrick Berry mode.

Fred Romagnolo 12:42 PM  

Does "checked" words mean after you put it in, you look it up to see if you were right? If so, if you do it before you finish, is it cheating?

r.alphbunker 12:45 PM  

@Fred Romagnolo

One definition of cheating is anything you can't do at the ACPT.

Anonymous 12:59 PM  

They're called planets if they have sufficient mass for their self-gravity to overcome rigid body forces to make them round. Major or minor, they are still planets.

Numinous 1:18 PM  

I've been questioning the soundness of my mind lately, after my recent illness. Lots of typos and google DNFs as I do the dailies and the archives. Today, in an eyelash under an hour, I finished a DS cleanly with nary a cheat of any sort. True, I had a few Cascoesque WAGs as they say in the LAT blog but they erased themselves as crosses became clear.

@Conrad, there is yet another form of cheat which may be the worst of all: There, one can enter the letters one has in the answer and use ?s for missing letters. One can also enter some elements of the clue if necessary. If one has the correct letters for the answer, one will get the right word 99% of the time.

One cheat I eschew always: where google finds the crossword answers. Usually, within thet tempting forest there is at least one link that doesnt reference crosswords. Of the more than 1,000 NYT puzzles I have done in the past several years, I've resorted to that and @Conrad's number one cheat no more than five or six times.

I promised to write this on my blog and facebook but i'm having a hard time doing it so here goes:
On Oct. 20, both my wife and I were admitted to the same hospital, I with a kidney infection and ulcerated prostate. She, on the 22nd. had her left leg amputated. I was released on Nov. 17th and went straight to her room and stayed there with her, being of whatever help I could, until her discharge on Dec. 20th. As our house is three stories with all the bathrooms on the top floor, we are staying with old friends who have a single story house in North Georgia. While my wife's wound is healing nicely, I'm still changing her dressings every few days. I apologize for pitty-potting, something I hadn't rushed into.

In those two months, except when I was too drugged to care, I did do the crosswords and even went back over the ones I missed. Today's DS is one of the very few clean finishes in all that time. Xwordinfo, today, provides some interesting insight into the development of what I would call one the finest minds in xword constrution.

Plaudits, accolades and kudoses (it IS a singular word) to @Rex for his beautifully positive write-ups today and yesterday. I hope he returns to his curmudgeonly ways soon, I'm feeling a bit unbalanced.

RooMonster 1:21 PM  

Hey All !
Well, unlike y'all, I found this med-challenging. I did get the NW easily as others, but the rest came about sloooowly. I had to finally break down and Goog a couple answers. :-( Looked up 54A, ESTES, which still didn't get a spark in the SE. Also 26D, NOLTE, who'da thunk he was that good-looking twenty-some-odd years ago! But that got me a toe hold in the center. Wanter either dwarf or outer PLANET, but also wanted INTOW, so after sussing out TATTLETALES and changing sAnER to HALER (Hello everyone!), finally saw MINOR and PINCUSHIONS. RIPENER held me up a bit, but knew it was MODEL A, since the T was in the 1900's-19teens.

Did like the puz overall, know it was difficult to fill with little to no dreck, however, the sectioned off areas seemed odd. Just sayin.

Was it Fred that mentioned the POTATOES thing? (Typing on phone, hard to scroll back through!), the Veep spelled it with the E on the end of the singular. That was wrong. When it's plural, it gets the ES, instead of just an S. Singular, potato.


Numinous 1:46 PM  

Anecdote time:
In 1971 or so, I was working in Minneapolis as a film editor. I was hired to do 12 2 minute commercials for Northern States Power that aired on the National Geographic show. After the third or fourth one, the actor/narrator started coming in at night to see what was happening. In the course of conversation, he told me he was all confused, not knowing what he was doing as the director had given him no motivation for his character. I told him that he was "The Authority" on nuclear power and it was his job to inform the public. That seemed to satisfy him.

The next day, I mentioned the actor's dilemma to the director. He said he didn't give a s**t, the guy was just a dumb f***ing cowboy from Arizona.

The actor? People Magazine's Sexiest Man Alive of 1992.

Whirred Whacks 1:58 PM  

@Numinous You seem pretty lucid to me! I enjoy your comments. Best wishes to you and your wife for a speedy recovery.

Charles Flaster 2:18 PM  

Busy day yesterday so late here.
Echoing everyone else-- well constructed and gettable after some thought.
Medium for me.
EVEN opened up the top.
Never heard of TEK or TAHINI but they could become crosswordease.
Puzzle was extremely well done!
Thanks DS.

Lewis 2:29 PM  

@alias -- loved your blanc quip!
@numinous -- happy that things are healing and great Nolte anecdote

I flew through the top and the bottom, but the swath from SE to NW put up a good fight. You have to credit Will for sticking with David, who started out so wild and crazy. Will saw David's potential (as I think did many of us, certainly me) and chose to nurture it, and now the fruits are coming forth. I nominate Will as RIPENER of the year.

I loved the clues for TATTLETALES, REWEDS and RIPENER, and the fresh sparkling answers HISEMINENCE, REDHOTPOKER, LEGERDEMAIN, and UPTOP. And where are the ugly answers? Nowhere. Look at all those beautiful long acrosses!

And, we have an ODE under PAR!

Anonymous 2:35 PM  

My favorite answer was CDS, double ententre for the clue "There's not much interest in these nowadays"

Lewis 2:47 PM  

Factoid: There are 5,000 varieties of POTATOES, and they are the world's fourth-largest food crop, following maize, wheat, and rice. (Wikipedia)

Quotoid: "Capitalism is the astounding belief that the most wickedest of men will do the most wickedest of things for the greatest good of everyone." -- John Maynard KEYNES

Stevlb1 3:05 PM  

Should the "c" in "cardinal" be capitalized, in the 17A clue?

OISK 3:17 PM  

@retired chemist got it exactly right - I also disliked the first couple of Steinberg puzzles, and now, either he, I, or both of us have evolved; I really like his work! (side note: I will be a "retired chemist" myself as of June 28th, although I left an option to return open...) I don't know who Pete Best is, but I know I have heard the name - don't bother, I'll Google it - is he the guy Ringo replaced?

Great puzzle, David, the kind where at first I couldn't find a place to begin, but eventually finished it with no guesses.

Mohair Sam 3:30 PM  

@numinous - Best to you and your wife, glad the recovery process goes well. And your posts have been as solid as ever would never have known. Love the Nolte anecdote, btw.

@Stevlb1 - Only it you're Catholic. Have a niece who is an atheist forever trying to convert (deconvert?) believers. She sent her son to a parochial school and complained to them about capitalizing the G in God. Sigh.

Anonymous 3:48 PM  

@Casco Kid, @Z

The only conceivable way an answer like "MINNIE'S CHUM" could appear in a NYT crossword would be as part of some consistent punning theme, with clues marked by question marks. To invent a very lame example: "What a fool might masticate?" = NINNY'S GUM, "What a toon might use as bait?" = "MINNIE'S CHUM", etc.

Here, however, the clue is straightforward, not question-marked, standalone and not part of any theme: "Pluto, for one". There is simply no way you will get "MINNIE'S CHUM" as a remotely conceivable answer.

I'm not putting down Casco Kid, it's good that he's sharing his thought processes with us. In return, I'm trying to offer constructive criticism and suggestions. I do think he's got a certain "tone deafness", if you will, to what could or couldn't be a valid answer in a particular context, and that's holding him back. More experienced solvers will instinctively reject the types of answers he tries, perhaps without even being able to put into words the reason why.

PS, in my experience, it's far better to leave squares blank than to fill them in with low-probability answer attempts that are really a stretch. That's because those bogus letters will really interfere with your mind's ability to flash-recognize a valid word from a few crosses.

Chip Hilton 4:01 PM  

No problem with Eleanor ESTES, having taught in a school where the library is named for her. She based the town of Cranberry in her books on our town. Her book "The Hundred Dresses" is a moving lesson on the evils of prejudice and bullying. I'll bet Ms. Estes knew what a TAW was.

michael 4:39 PM  

I agree with others that David Steinberg's puzzles have improved greatly lately. Nice to see the change!

Ludyjynn 4:43 PM  

For a long time I was ADAMANT that I would never 'get' David Steinberg, but his and my recent efforts have happily proved me wrong! I'm EVEN starting to appreciate the guy's sense of humor. This one played medium for me for a Friday.

I was drooling from the outset because TAHINI went in first. Immediately started visualizing the mouth-watering falafel balls and shawarma pitas I get in Wheaton, MD on University Blvd. at Max's Kosher Deli and Café. Here's the irony: the kosher deli stuff is mediocre, but the shawarma bar is run by a Palestinian man, Mohammed. We refer to him as the shawarma Nazi, like the Seinfeld soup Nazi, because if he doesn't approve of your behavior in the (usually) long line, he'll let you know it. Very intimidating! But if he likes you, he may comp you a couple of the best falafel balls you'll ever taste! (He likes me). He is an artist, carving the seared lamb and arranging all of the optional goodies you point at for him to stuff in the pita in layers of deliciousness. His Israeli salad and sauteed eggplant slices are esp. good. And the TAHINI gets drizzled on top last. YUMYUMYUM! If you're in the D.C. area, you must try this.

@Numinous, my sincere wishes for continuing recovery of you and your wife. Your NOLTE story made my day.

Thanks, DS and WS.

Anonymous 5:05 PM  

@anon348 - I think the only time you would see "Minnie's chum" as a grid entry is in one of Trip Payne's "Something Different" puzzles. Every long answer is basically a random pairing of words.

Z 10:12 PM  

@anon3:48 - Huh? Pluto and Minnie are Mickey Mouse's "Friends." Also "chum" is a synonym for "friend." Hardly random. Hardly punny. Pretty darn straight forward, actually. Although, somehow getting the fishy chum in there with the friendly chum would be pretty good.

Gabe Tuerk 12:49 AM  

I'm guilty of having said "up top" as recently as ten years gone. Very happy with this puzzle with the exception of minor (should be dwarf) planet

Leapfinger 2:40 AM  

Many a tear has to fall,
But it's all

Thought that this was a Steinberg puzzle that die-hard Steinberg puzzle-haters could get behind, quite the smoothie, for sure. The only lapse in judgment (imo) was the LECH clue, what with Walese available, and equally Friday-worthy, per me.

MINE SWEEPER, it was cleaning like a New Broom, and loving every minute. Except in the NE, which was a bit of a PAR ODE E, mainly because I was DORMANT instead of ADAMANT, and my second wouldn't duel. Small POTATOES, in the long run. Oh yes, I also made PITHS of CORES, and thought perhaps DS hadn't heard Pluto was no longer the nINth PLANET... Figured if there's a half-GAINER, there must also be a GAINER.

Moi AUSSIE, thought "Le Rouge et Le NOIR", definitely Stendhal.

Not having had @Ludyjinn's felafel, I think of it mostly as an excuse for tzaziki.

Other bits I liked:
The fog CREPEs on little cat feet;
'Semerson, 'SLAKE and Spalmer;
LEN ART Cohen, though he don't sing like JONI;
@mathguy's TATTLETAils.

Some ODE DAMES, the AGER they get, the RIPENER they are. I'm just hoping for HALER and Heartier.

LEGER Aujourd'hui

Thanks, young David. This was real TINToretto.
Love from LEGER Pouce.

Number One Fan 3:14 AM  

Numi, my dear boy, I'm glad to hear you're all logically sound. Rather relieved that you weren't down to See Ole PeeDee River, rather harder to get over, right?

Am certain that you are the most dedicated and tender of care-givers, and hope your dear wife had a BKA rather than AKA. In my experience, the altered body-image is about as hard to adjust to as anything physical, but if all goes right, she should do very well.

Will put in a Good Word for all y'all.

Unknown 5:16 AM  

That middle block looked pretty daunting at first glance but I managed in the end even with 'loves' for 'hearts' and 'gimme' for the 'high-five request'. Like @Wine Diver I also had 'over' for
the 2014/2015 clue.
Can I ask you all something? I'm relatively new to Rex's blog and I've been wondering about the word in the grid that is coloured grey with one red letter - What does this signify? Sorry if it's obvious and I'm just being thick...
Have a great weekend!

Anonymous 6:19 AM  

@Cynthia G, that's presumably the last word (grey) and last letter (red) that Rex fills in. Rex takes a picture of his completed grid for the blog, and you'll see that in your own completed grid, there'll be a word highlighted the same way.

Anonymous 6:41 AM  

And just a reminder to all newcomers, Rex does have a very useful FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) tab at the top of the blog, where you will find the above and other questions answered.

Unknown 7:51 AM  

Thank you very much for the info Anonymous - Now I know! I will check out the FAQ also :)

Anon0619 8:44 AM  

Just want to clarify that Anon0641 is a different entity from Anon0619.

No telling why that section is called FAQ, when the Qs are simply Recurring but not really FA. I move the section be renamed RQ.

Anon0641 9:14 AM  

God forbid that anyone should confuse one helpful Anonymous with another!

Is there something about this blog that puts everyone in a fighting mood? :(

AnonyMore 11:43 AM  

As of what time of day did clarifyin' become warfarin'?

Perhaps some random Anonymiser just wanted Cynthia G to know that more than one person cared enough to respond.

Put that in your snipe and poke it.

spacecraft 12:39 PM  

Loved @AliasZ's nimble mind drawing a "blanc." Uh-oh. My new browser has spell check; sporting two red lines already. Oh well. To today's intense mental workout, courtesy of David S., who should join Scorpion shortly.

Did the "North by Northwest" off the gimme song title; I remember being told it was written by a veep. Its SE counterpart had a smaller gimme--PETE--but fell after the P suggested ...PARTY. The bigger they are, David, the harder they fall. Sometimes those sixes and sevens can be a lot tougher.

The center should have come along sooner, but it was a while before my bruised brain hit on a game I PLAY EVERY DAY: MINESWEEPER. Duh! I only use the left click, on spaces where I know a bomb ISN'T. If I do it right, the last space will trigger the instant filling-in of all 99 bombs. Cool effect. A harder way to play (15%), but cool.

The narrow NE and SW corners were last to fall, and toughest. I left the Ford MODEL blank, waiting on T or A. What the heck is a "RIPENER?" See? Even spell check red-lines it. And REWEDS? Wow, that one passed! I had to run the alphabet till I got to that W, though. I dimly recall TAWs. That word is so old it got red-lined.

Kudos for such a clean 64-worder. Like I said, Walter wants YOU. Three entries made me wince: the two longer ones in the previous paragraph, and the RD at 48a. Oh, how COULD you? A-.

rondo 1:16 PM  

The kid sure seems to be getting better; almost look forward to his byline now, unlike before.

Somewhat tougher than medium for me. Like @spacey got the NNW, then nothing in the middle, then all of the SSE an finished from SW to NE. So I was all over the place.

Remember when ADULTMOVIES were only on 8mm film? Those DAMES would TEACH me things I could't EVEN imagine. Probably turned me into a LECH.

This was just a fine puzzle and I hope the caliber remains high.

civil eddyalt = 0

rondo 1:17 PM  

The kid sure seems to be getting better; almost look forward to his byline now, unlike before.

Somewhat tougher than medium for me. Like @spacey got the NNW, then nothing in the middle, then all of the SSE an finished from SW to NE. So I was all over the place.

Remember when ADULTMOVIES were only on 8mm film? Those DAMES would TEACH me things I could't EVEN imagine. Probably turned me into a LECH.

This was just a fine puzzle and I hope the caliber remains high.

dgexin 522 = 9

rondo 1:20 PM  

Sorry but it left me hanging with my post the after the first attempt. But I got a 9 out of the second

rain forest 3:29 PM  

Excellent puzzle, well-constructed, good mixture of clues, accessible.

"She REWED the year after her first husband fell off the fishing boat and expired".

Of which President was Charles Dawes the Vice?

Walesa 5:21 PM  


spacecraft 6:23 PM  

Silent Cal, '25-'29.

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