Da Vinci Code priory / FRI 5-15-15 / 2000s James Cameron cyberpunk/sci-fi series / Co-star of Greta Garbo in Ninotchka / Two-time mythological role for Anthony Hopkins / She's too cute to be minute over 17 / Hagar creator Browne / Hall of Famer from 1950s-60s Celtics / Chang Harry Potter's onetime crush / Athena's gift to Athens / Legalese conjunction

Friday, May 15, 2015

Constructor: David Phillips

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging

THEME: none

Word of the Day: Forever ALONE (5D: Forever ___ (Internet meme)) —
[some crap I tried to look up but it was something something 4chan reddit god-knows-what and I couldn't bother, sorry (it appears to be a big dumb ugly face … you can google it yourself, I assume)]
• • •

Memes seem like, nay, are, highly transient phenomena. Sic transit memes. They're also terribly insidery, and, generally, terribly youth-oriented, no matter how apparently widespread. I'm not sure memes make the best crossword clues/answers. In fact, I'm sure they don't. Memes age fast, and when your puzzle takes forever to come out (as the NYT does), it can't handle memes in a timely enough fashion. This one ("Forever ALONE") appears to have originated in 2010, which is like … 1878 in Internet Time. This is all to say I have no idea what "DARK ANGEL" is (looks like something someone who's destined to be forever ALONE would watch…) (1A: 2000s James Cameron cyberpunk/sci-fi series), so I'm old, I guess, but I also don't know what INA CLAIRE is (14A: Co-star of Greta Garbo in "Ninotchka"), so I'm not old enough. THE CARS, I know. Well. I am exactly that old. I am THE CARS years old. The real, real, actual main issue—in the NW, at any rate—is a yucky surfeit of proper nouns. All the long Acrosses, five of the Downs, yuck. I don't like when constructors mistake "names names names" for fresh / youthful / interesting. If you don't vary your fill, and especially if the fill you don't vary is names, you run the risk of having your puzzle become annoying and alienating to a lot of people. I was only alienated by the NW, though. The rest seemed pretty good.

There were some ick-ceptions (™). ATTIRER goes right into the Bad Fill HOF. RERATES = rough. I've heard of TO SCALE, but not IN SCALE. Barfy back-to-back Windows clues at SUITES and NTS :( I still don't believe AD-AWARE's good fill, as it's a specific brand name that I've still never seen in the wild—plus it's crutch fill masquerading as hip fill. AD-AWARE is really just a lot of useful letters and a "W." Puzzle has a good number of Longer Answers That Are Almost All RLSTNEA (see TRESPASSES, STRASSE, RERATES). Other tired stuff = SION (die die die) SES DEI ATOI DIK. But otherwise it's reasonably smooth and interesting. Despite my aversion to excess commercialism in puzzles, I really liked ADD TO CART (19A: Online shopping button), and the DATA PLANS / OLIVE TREE stacking provides a nice modern/ancient contrasting juxtaposition. SYNTHETIC and GIGAHERTZ make attractive grid lynchpins. This is a marginally appealing Friday puzzle, on the whole. Plus, I learned something semi-valuable, i.e. how to spell KIM-JONG UN. I had a "U" where the "O" goes. I know a woman whose last name is JUNG, so I'll blame her. Or else I'll blame Erica JONG, who I assumed couldn't possibly share a name part with the North Korean dictator. Why I assumed that, I have no idea.
    Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

    PS Brendan Emmett Quigley's latest puzzle ("The Other Way Around") is a good example of what a midweek (i.e. Wed.) themed puzzle should look like. Go do it.

    [Follow Rex Parker on Facebook and Twitter]


    jae 12:12 AM  

    Medium-tough over all  for me too, mainly because I completely blanked on "The Interview".  So, the NW took a while.   Also, BÊTE, the @Rex meme, and NAN were WOEs, PBA wasn't that obvious nor was the answer for Bash.   And, ills and woes before ADOS.   The rest was easy-medium.  

    Liked this a lot.  The only really iffy fill was ATTIRER, and there was plenty of zip.  However, I agree with Rex about the name heavy NW.  I kinda knew INA CLAIRE and KC JONES, but they required several crosses to emerge.

    Zeke 12:13 AM  

    That was the ugliest NW since Mt. St. Helens blew billions of tons of filthy ash all over the real NW.

    Dreisands 12:16 AM  

    Forever Alone was actually the first one I got. I'm also 25 so it's pretty much in my age range, which is the complete opposite age range of random 1920-30s film actresses as well as Celtics players.

    wreck 12:20 AM  

    On my way to quickest Friday ever until the NW! I had the same thoughts as Rex right along with "U" in JoNG. A decent puzzle ruined for me.

    John Child 12:28 AM  
    This comment has been removed by the author.
    John Child 12:29 AM  

    I crashed and burned at PBA / ANISE ED / INA. NTS is really unfortunate. There was once, 20 years ago, a Microsoft OS called Windows NT. I can't recall ever calling a box running that an "NT."

    Constructor's note at xwordinfo and NYT says that Mr Phillips was surprised that this was accepted. YEP...

    Anonymous 12:39 AM  

    I encountered trouble in all the same places. Everyone seems to find PBA non-obvious, as do I, but I still have no idea what it or the clue is supposed to mean.

    Any help?

    dr. fancypants 12:41 AM  

    Ditto John's comment about NTS--that's just some grade A nonsense. (Next up: "Apple products" cluing XES?)

    The NW was the wrong kind of hard with all those names. I got lucky and guessed that INACLAIRE kinda sorta sounded like a real name, but I still didn't like it.

    Anonymous 12:43 AM  

    Professional Bowling Association???

    Anonymous 12:44 AM  

    Professional Bowling Association, I think. 300 being a perfect score in bowling. I am happy if I break 100.

    chefwen 2:19 AM  

    Tough one for us. Had to consult Uncle G. A couple of times, which Jon hates to do and chastises me every time. "Are you cheating?". Yes, just a little. "No cheating aloud, hand it over". We finally got it done, but I sure liked last Fridays more than today's.

    chefwen 2:45 AM  

    I believe I meant Thursdays. It 's confusing with the vast time difference. It's an age thing.

    AliasZ 2:51 AM  

    @Zeke, @Wreck and @John Child, I am totally with you.

    I sorta enjoyed the South and the NE, except ATTIRER, RERATES, INSCALE and a few other clunkers, however I totally gave up on the NW cluster (cluster is half a word) of names and trivia contest.

    How many solvers knew all the proper names in this one? DIK what's-his-face, NAN whomever, KIM-JONG UN (who by the way, put into law that all men of his nation shall have exactly the same haircut as his), IM PEI, Stephen AMBROSE, INA CLAIRE, KC JONES, Ivan LENDL? Plus DARK ANGEL and CHO Chang (cha-ching)? I mean, all of them. Are you kidding me?

    Will must think the English language is running out of words, thus he has to resort to proper names of all ilk to fill puzzles. What a shame.

    Best words of the day: SYNTHETIC TOUPEES, then G-STRING, QUEENIE and MISS USA hanging off GQ MAGAZINE. That's it.

    PBA may be: Patrolmen's Benevolent Association, Philippine Basketball Association, Partial-Birth Abortion, Prevent Blindness America, Pseudobulbar affect, Palm Beach Atlantic University, Professional Bowlers Association, Public Broadcasting Atlanta, Pennsylvania Bar Association, Poly-Butyl Acrylate, etc. etc. I almost forgot my favorite: Paralysis By Analysis. Which of these has 300 members? Search me.

    Sorry David, I think the world would've been a happier place if Will hadn't accepted this one. Come on now, I have seen you do much better.

    I hope we get a Patrick Berry Saturday.

    Carola 3:12 AM  

    I also found the NW to be a BETE but guessed right and finished. Liked puzzling out the other quadrants. Thanks, @Doc Ross, for explaining PBA.

    @Alias Z = to answer your "how many solvers" question: I knew DIK Browne, NAN Goldin, KIM JONG IL, Ivan LENDL, CHO Chang, IM PEI, and Stephen AMBROSE, but not KC JONES, INA CLAIRE, or DARK ANGEL

    Moly Shu 3:22 AM  

    Strange, I had no problem in the NW, my struggle was the SW. DEI and NISEI being the main culprits. exam before TEST and Armoire before ATTIRER (attirer? Really?) kept that section nearly unworkable.
    Never getting SES, CHO or DEI without the crosses. rATe before DATA and some other kind of TREE, maybe maplE, can't remember. SNL alum? Well at least it's a new clue for tired fill. Not a good clue, but new. I'm gonna go in the didn't like it much column.

    George Barany 4:20 AM  

    This puzzle by @David Phillips was tough, for reasons already articulated by @Rex and quite a few of the earlier commentators. I did appreciate the reminder to one of my favorite movies, "Ninotchka," which starred Greta Garbo and Melvyn Douglas. INA_CLAIRE had a supporting role. This 4-min YouTube clip is behind the film's tagline, "Garbo Laughs."

    Charles Flaster 4:36 AM  

    DNF in NW as Mr.Natick got me at ANISEED/BETE.
    Writeovers-- Armoire for ATTIRER? and exam for TEST.
    54down-- AVE is rather general as is PENNE

    Liked cluing for NAP and GEAR.
    Thanks DP.

    GILL I. 5:00 AM  

    Yes, this puzzle started out by alienating me...I always want to complete the 1A's or at least some of the downs. All I did was jot down churlish comments and then asked myself if I wanted to continue. Because I had nothing better to do, I continued on and was glad I did. The rest of the puzzle was kind of fun.
    I was so sure of PASTIES for the Burlesque wear but then I remembered NISEI and, well, GEAR does have teeth.
    Went back upstairs and plopped in ADD TO CART because I do that often. I needed Google's help to finish all those damn proper names.
    I always pronounced it MEH MEH until someone looked at me funny while I was trying to be all knowing. He didn't say anything (nobody ever does) but I looked it up. MEEMEE MEEMEE....It's all about MEEMEE.
    I will look up ATTIRER and see if that's a real word.
    I finally finished BEQ's THE OTHER WAY AROUND. Try it, it was fun.
    Good write-up @Rex.

    r.alphbunker 5:14 AM  

    Got half the correct letters in 1/4 of the total solve time. Spent the remaining time sussing out the left side of the puzzle.

    I "knew" that Celtics Hall-Of-Famer was Bill RUSSELL.

    Imagine my surprise when, in desperation, I asked for incorrect letters to be highlighted and his name lit up in red!

    I share @John Child's concern about NTS. What is next, DOSSES?

    NTS has been used 12 times in the Shortz era. 10 of those times it has been clued exactly as in today's puzzle. I am sure that this is something that WS is not proud of. The other 2 clues were {Some versions of Windows} and {Windows options}. The latter was particularly devious because the capital W did not signal a proper noun.

    Before WS, NTS was considered as abbreviation for nights, net tons or New Testaments.

    Windows NT Server is definitely something and could be clued without a POC as {Windows server: Abbr.}

    NTS can also stand for New Toy Syndrome which is defined in the Urban Dictionary as
    "The problem where an owner of a new expensive toy is blinded to the obvious shortcomings of that item. Usually applies to both electronics and cars, but can also apply to girl/boyfriends."

    Googling for images that match forever alone meme will educate you on what that is. I had never heard of it.

    Hartley70 5:38 AM  

    I had to look up INACLAIRE because I was stuck on a man for that spot. NAN I got from crosses. I knew the others on @AliasZ's list. Otherwise not too bad a Friday, although the correct answer was often not my first guess, ie pasta for PENNE. Hi, @chefbea, PENNE is my fav pasta as it happens!
    If the Celtic isn't Bob Cousy, it's an "I dunno".
    Oh look, the sun's coming up. I don't really enjoy insomnia solves, but that's hardly the fault of the constructor. One soporific puzz requested for tomorrow, please.

    Aketi 6:05 AM  

    @Zeke, LAUGHING.no longer makes my ribs hurt, so thank you for brightening up my morning after what Hartkey70 just coined "an insomnia solve". Honestly it was a giant cheating google fest for me rather than a solve. So much in my outhouse that I only got two on AliasZs list. Demoting myself to lower than a white belt this am, I'm more like the level of the groupon tryouts who usually can't make it through a whole class..

    Conrad 6:51 AM  

    I often order PENNE with vodka sauce at a trattoria. Today I got my PENNE with green paint.

    Loren Muse Smith 7:04 AM  

    Man, oh man – this played like a really hard Saturday for me. I fought tooth and nail to get the northeast, but that’s about it. I did get BÊTE and then most of the southwest, but, well, heck.

    My printer is on the blink, so I had to solve this online, and I just don’t have the will power not to peek at squares. It starts out innocently enough; “Let me just check this one square”… (“I’ll just eat this one ice-cream sandwich”), and before I know it, I’m wantonly, shamelessly, revealing answers willy-nilly… (and I’ve polished off the last several ice-cream sandwiches standing over the sink. Yes. I’ve done that.)

    I don’t think, though, that I could have finished this even if I had had it on paper and tried to chip away at it for a while. There were too many things in my outhouse: DARK ANGEL, INA CLAIRE, IN SCALE, QUEENIE KC JONES, DIK, PBA, ADAWARE, NAN, ALONE, SION. . .

    Some early goofs:

    “mews” for MAWS (rationalizing that clue is a stretch, I know)
    “exam” for TEST, like lots of others
    “rte” for AVE
    “I fold” for I CALL
    “pale ale” for PILSNER (off the L in “fold,” hah!)
    “armoire” for ATTIRER , again, like others – great misdirect, that one.

    I actually was buffaloed by HERBS’ clue and considered “nouns” several times.


    Hey, @Alias – I liked the SYNTHETIC TOUPEE, too. We can add the NAP on the other side and picture a TOUPEE with the NAP all wonky. To quote Bud Light’s Real Men American Heroes – couldn’t look phonier if it had a chin strap.

    Mr. Really Bad TOUPEE Wearer

    Bud Light presents Real American Heroes
    Today we salute you, Mr. Really Bad TOUPEE Wearer
    More than any neon sign or exploding scoreboard ever could, your chrome dome cover says, "Hey guys, look at me."
    You think it looks natural, but it couldn't look phonier if it had a chin strap.
    Made of space-age fibers, it can repel anything: rain, wind, snow, and especially, young women.
    So crack open an ice cold Bud Light, Mr. Stud in a Rug, then crack open another for that thing in your head.

    Off to lick my wounds. This one slayed me.

    Steve O. 7:40 AM  

    I had NGUN for The Interview. For some reason my mind couldn't get past "smokinggun" even though that has two Gs. Then my wife came by and told me the answer and called me a doofus for not remembering the Interview. DON'T LET YOUR MIND GET STUCK IN A RUT PEOPLE.

    someone named ropper 7:52 AM  

    @George Barany Did you know Greta Garbo?

    dk 8:07 AM  

    🌕 (1 mOn)

    Let that side of bacon Rex Porker say what he/she will. Our dear leader is spot on.

    No traction on this one. None. At first I thought it may have been that I was up all hours reading the latest Longmire (Dry Bones) and being all tingly as the TV show has been picked up by Netflix. But: Nope!

    One positive outcome I am listening to THECARS as I create predictive models of the behavior of….. well you….

    Unknown 8:10 AM  

    Googles for INACLAIRE and shamefully KIMJuNGUN and KCJONES, then ended with 8 errors in 1:10.

    NISEn/DEn (Natick)

    * ANIzEto/zION (best guess, ANISSEED 2 esses?)

    * Pow/woOS (these work ok; PBA means nothing here, but the movie 300 was about POWs, in a sense. This crossing makes the puzzle a total crap shoot.)

    * KIMJuNGUN/ALuNE (dope slap)
    * otTE for BETE I was going for otre or otra)

    Unsussable but googleable.

    Dorothy Biggs 8:15 AM  

    Completely agree with everyone about everything regarding the NW. And I suppose WS probably doesn't care much that solvers complain about the abundance of names since I guess they are mostly inferable, that is, there are no rap artists in there. But still. I won't say it's unfair, but it made the puzzle hard as Hades to solve to the point where it wasn't fun.

    As for INACLAIRE...David Phillips is how old? 17? 18? How would he know this name except that either a) he is a classic film trivia buff, or b) he Googled it. In the same way many of us have the unspoken rule that you shouldn't use words in every parlance that you can't spell, I don't think constructors should use words/names that they don't know apart from scanning the internet or running down a thesaurus. If DP knows who the hell Ms. Claire is, then I apologize. Otherwise, nope.

    French possessives should be outlawed. I see how valuable they must be to constructors...there appears to be an endless array of them and they are all mostly vowels...but seriously, if you're going to use them, use them judiciously.

    This puzzle reminded me of how I've felt after solving another puzzle by a young constructor who shall remain nameless. I know everyone likes their puzzles "chewy" for a Friday, but there is chewy and then there is artfully chewy. This is just chewy for its own sake which just turns into that paper/rock/scissors game where you smack each other on the wrist when you win. It's just pain, and no gain...and therefore no fun.

    Z 8:18 AM  

    Rex is too kind today. 17 answers in the the NW and ten, TEN, are proper names. KIM JON should have taken his GUN and shot that corner to shreds and started over.

    Anything good? Well, GQ MAGAZINE has a photo spread of MISS USA in her SASH and G-STRING. Now there is an internet meme for you.

    This puzzle gets a Leinenkugel rating from me - trying to be all trendy and hip but too much unpleasant junk added to be good.

    ThatcherBaxterHatcher 8:23 AM  

    Any puzzle that just piles on the trivia, especially the proper name trivia, is unworthy and unfair, because it denies the solvers a chance to work back to the answers via crosses and educated guesses based on general knowledge of how words work. My usual reaction when I see a NW like this one is to toss the puzzle and go on to something more rewarding, like organizing my sock drawer. But my wife convinced me to stick with it, and we eventually hacked our way through. Can't say I am feeling very rewarded for the effort, with clunkers like ATTIRER,RERATES,ATOI, SES, and NTS. Don't see why the clue for PGA needed a ? -- it turned an obvious answer into a snipe hunt for something tricky and clever. SNL is a clunker with a clue that is itself trivia.

    Jim Walker 8:51 AM  

    @NCAPresident: Perfect. I would simply add that for me the perfect puzzle is completely un- googleable.

    AnnieD 9:37 AM  

    I'm with LMS on this one....it was a tough Saturday for sure. Fell into a lot of the same traps that she did too. No reveals, no google, but a use of "check" function to get through it.

    This one was so chewy that it aggravated my TMJ!

    chefbea 9:39 AM  

    too tough for me, as Friday's usually are. What are memes??? and PBA???

    Nancy 9:47 AM  

    Awful, just awful. I agree with Zeke, wreck, John Child, Alias Z and Z, but with GILL I most of all, as in when she asked herself: Do I really want to continue? When I saw the cyberpunk/sci fi clue at 1A, I asked myself: Good grief, it's not going to be one of THOSE, is it? But, sadly, it was. All proper names, and even such an important, worth knowing name as KIM JONG UN was clued in such a way as to make it ungettable without a lot of crosses.

    From out of some deep recess of memory, I pulled INA CLAIRE and SION. But it didn't help nearly enough. And the clue for PBA was ridiculous; it would be like calling tennis pros "6-0, 6-0, 6-0 people". Pro bowlers may aspire to 300 games, but aspiring isn't achieving.

    I could talk about early mistakes, later corrected, that threw me off, such as Irish for INURE (52A), but that gives this puzzle more serious attention than it deserves. I almost dropped it before completing the SW and the NE, but hung around long enough to solve them. Then, with the NW and SE still undone and seemingly undoable, I said: the hell with it.

    OISK, when I finally meet you tomorrow, we can begin our conversation with how much we hated this puzzle. And I do know you're going to hate it.

    RnRGhost57 9:59 AM  

    Lots of clunkers but not an unmitigated disaster.

    Ludyjynn 10:03 AM  

    As @Aketi said so artfully, this puzz. was "in my outhouse". Except for the NE quad, GQ, STRASSE and SYNTHETIC, what a slog! YEP, what you all said about the NW quad. In a word, I CALL it 'awful'.

    RIP, BB King and Lucille. You were one of a kind.

    Arlene 10:20 AM  

    I solved about half of this puzzle (the left half) - Googling for the things I could - and then just gave up. I didn't want to spend more time on this, and it surely wasn't fun. I don't recall this ever happening before - surely not in a very long time.
    So whatever was in this puzzle, it turns off folks like me.

    Bob Kerfuffle 10:28 AM  


    Agree with everyone on this one - Almost gave up a couple of times, but pushed on until only the NW had blanks. And really, only 2 D and 21 D left to solve. But for 2 D, couldn't decide if it would be ANISETT or ANISOIL, neither of which was very promising, never imagined ANISEED (how can that be? Isn't there an"S" missing??) 21 D was just an impenetrable clue, even after I had sussed 38 A's "200 at a 500." I suspected PENNE, but it didn't help much. Don't know Zola or much French beyond usual crosswordese, so no help from 24 A. And even for someone named Kerfuffle, 28 A, Troubles, did not seem very close to ADOS.

    jrstocker 10:32 AM  

    Do people really have a problem with the Interview clue for KIMJONGUN? That was a gigantic story 6 months ago. My only problem was that I got my North Korean desposts mixed up and started with KIMJONGil

    NW wasn't too bad for me, but admittedly if LENDL and KCJONES had been baroque pianists or something rather than 20th century athletes, I probably would have had similar issues.

    GeezerJackYale48 10:32 AM  

    Good Grief! I saw "Ninotchka" as a kid. Melvyn Douglas was the romantic lead. Ina Claire was an important supporting role. Not good. But I worked it out. Same with K C Jones. Once I got past Bill Russell and Sam Jones, that is. So being old helped a bit. But "Internet meme"? No way. This is a puzzle with internet memes and Ninotchka co-stars and K C Jones?
    Spans too many generations for me. Oh, wait. You say it may have been created by someone who had no idea what a Ninotchka was or who K C Jones might have been? Ah. Nuts. Had high regard for the puzzler after the other 3 corners. Now I am disillusioned.

    jberg 10:35 AM  

    Isn't there some guy named jAcK eNGEr in some TV series? No? Anyway, that was good enough for me to decide the cartoonist was jaK and the obscure actress was aNA CLAIRE. But I couldn't figure out SION, and had PgA/gEnE.

    So I'm disgruntled, which may influence what I am about to say -- but GQ MAGAZINE??? That's green paint, isn't it? I mean, GQ is a MAGAZINE, but the title of that magazine is GQ. People do say it in the long form, so it's marginally OK -- but only worth it (IMHO, not in @rex's) if you put an X in somewhere and give us a pangram.

    You say enure, I say INURE, let's call the whole thing off.

    GeezerJackYale48 10:38 AM  

    Bob Kerfuffle, I have already submitted my groans about the NW corner, but I couldn't pass up agreeing with you about "aniseed". I knew ouza was anise-flavored, so eventually gave in to what I was sure was lazy crosswordese. (That was after I finally accepted "ados" as the correct answer for "troubles" instead of woes, ills, ails, etc.) Grr.

    Leapfinger 11:15 AM  

    I tried "Forever Amber", then "Forever AnniE", then gave up with a big bald spot in the middle of the NW.

    Barring strong reasons to the contrary, I think I'll continue to avoid anything describable as 'cyberpunk'.

    Pyrrhura Breeders Association might have 300 members. I like Professional Bad Ass, and could probably achieve Paralysis By Analysis.

    We could of used a Thursday HA before -RERATES (What lagomorphs charge?) and a HAR before -POSTITS (with a nod to Oprah).
    Bottom line: Some ERUDITE, some just plain HERTZ...

    Famous last words:
    "ART Brut?"
    "YEP, Caesar"

    As The Man says, TGIF

    Robso 12:07 PM  


    Joseph Michael 12:20 PM  


    Anoa Bob 12:22 PM  
    This comment has been removed by the author.
    Lewis 12:23 PM  

    @lms -- That Real Men bit was friggin hilarious! Like laugh out loud spit out liquid hilarious. B.R.A.V.O!
    @Nancy -- when you saw the clue "It's got teeth", was your first thought "snail"???
    @Rex -- excellent writeup, right in your groove, and I agreed with it all today.

    I'm wondering if David Phillips was happy with the NW or tried like hell to better it and just couldn't. That quadrant was hard and no fun. The rest of the puzzle for me was hard and fun, and I loved it. Words in the NW I totally didn't know: DARKANGEL, INACLAIRE, SION, BETE, ALONE and NAN, and it was too much to overcome.

    RooMonster 12:26 PM  

    Hey All !
    On my first pass through, I thought this was gonna be another rebus puz, as a bunch of answers I wanted were one letter too long. But left it alone to see what would happen. Had about 3 answers on that first pass through! Kept chipping away, got SE first, then sussed out the NE, finished up the SW, and stared at the NW whiteness/wrongness for a good 30 minutes before I finally broke down and had to Goog. Three Googs up there. K C JONES, NAN, BETE. Agree with the brutal NW crowd.

    Writeover city, had many of the same as youse guys, illS-> woeS-> ADOS, bagel-> PENNE, bBw-> PBA (think of me what you will on that one!), ANISEte-> ANISEED, exam-> TEST, Armoire-> ATTIRER, also REsAles> RERATES, wanted jAWS-> MAWS. Phew!

    Proud of myself for getting about 85% of puz, and it being correct! Luckily didn't solve online today, or I also would've succumbed to ample Check Puzzle button!

    So, didn't hate it, wasn't a favorite puz, but managed to keep my interest as some cool answers emerged, like G STRING, GQ MAG, POST ITS. Give it a solid C on the puzzlemeter!

    ERUDITEd :-)

    David Phillips 12:33 PM  

    Hey all!

    Thanks for the comments. I suspected this one would receive a few ounces of vitriol. Better (i.e. less proper-name-heavy) themelesses are in the pipeline.

    Also, it's not a Patrick Berry themeless tomorrow, but you'll still be in for a treat. =)

    RooMonster 12:34 PM  

    Oh, and PBA = People's Bullshitting Association!

    @Lewis, speaking of laugh out loud funny, your comment to @Nancy!!


    Anoa Bob 12:35 PM  

    GIGAHERTZ & SYNTHETIC were high points, but that was about it. For me, phrases like ADD TO CART & LOCAL TV make GREEN PAINT look absolutely scintillating.

    I guess it pays to be a speed solver at times, so you don't dwell too long on any one entry. I'm the opposite and tend to look for ones that are rich sources for free associations. In that regard, TOUPEES was a hoot, but CHEMO was a buzz kill. Life throws enough unpleasantries at us on a daily basis, so could do without them in puzzles.

    In related xword news, the opah has been discovered to be the only truly warm-blooded fish. Gives added legitimacy and a fresh clueing angle for that old grid-fill chestnut.

    OISK 12:57 PM  

    The NW is just awful, impossible, horrid. And that is despite knowing KC Jones, and guessing Dark Angel. Ina Claire??? How obscure are we getting here? Never heard of the meme, of course, know anisette, but not aniseed, didn't know Dik Browne, and there just weren't enough letters to get me Kim Jong Un, which among all of this tripe, was a fair clue. Never heard of Nan Goldin either, and "SION" , which I got, is one more unfortunate proper name. You just can't load all of this stuff in the same corner. Nancy is correct, I hated it. And it is my worst DNF in many years - first time I have had an entire section pretty much empty in recent memory.

    Annoying pop references even in the parts I completed included GQ Magazine, "Queenie" Adaware, NTS,... Just some balance, David! Please!

    Lewis 12:58 PM  

    Factoid: Julius Caesar wore a TOUPEE.

    Quotoid: "Man is the only kind of varmint sets his own trap, baits it, then steps in it." -- John Steinbeck

    THE David Phillips 1:01 PM  

    @David Phillips 12:33pm: How do we know you're David Phillips?

    MrSarfa 1:03 PM  

    DNF due to much Googling. Like Rex, I had no idea about DARKANGEL, INACLAIRE, or forever ALONE. Also didn't know KCJONES, which made the NW essentially impossible.
    Took all the crosses for me to get ATTIRER because I absolutely refused to believe that someone would put that in.
    Also, hand raised here for IfoLd before ICALL.

    Anonymous 1:27 PM  

    SNL alum? Really???

    dick swart 1:27 PM  

    NW … WTF!

    Questinia 1:40 PM  

    Dear Mr. Phillips,

    I would have truly appreciated Pewdiepie instead of OLIVE TREE in the SE.

    ~ Q

    Questinia 1:44 PM  

    @ Lewis, I've also heard Julius Caesar tried shaving his head and wearing a backwards baseball cap but to no ave ail.

    JFC 2:16 PM  

    @AliasZ, while you were growing up in Budapest listening to classical music and reading classical literature, I was growing up in Chicago’s burbs wasting my time going to bowling alleys. I even bowled back then and joined a bowling league with the Wife when I was in the Air Force living off base in small town Warrensburg. Notwithstanding that, PBA came slowly to me but the cluing makes perfect sense as clued with a question mark. 300 is a perfect score for bowling and many members of the PBA, if not all at one time or another, have scored a perfect game of 300.

    Anonymous 2:36 PM  

    Had a fun time with this one... but that NW... Couldn't tell if I needed ANA or INACLAIRE. And I had PTA/TETE, which seemed a reasonable guess.

    Anonymous 2:37 PM  

    I give this one four A's: Annoying and alienating, and ATTIRER is atrocious.

    Danger Man 3:30 PM  

    I agree with Anonymous: SNL ALUM.....really?

    mathguy 3:43 PM  

    Liked it a lot. Very crunchy. I got naticked twice in the NW.

    Happy to see KCJONES. I was at University of San Francisco 1952-56. I was a scrub on the freshman basketball team with Bill Russell. I knew KC. He was a true gentleman.

    We were flying all day yesterday to return from West Palm Beach and wasn't able to comment on the HAHAHA puzzle. One of the all-time greats, IMHO.

    Z 4:26 PM  

    As I watched the Subway guy drown some chicken in a Tabasco and butter sauce it occurred to me that yesterday's "buffalo" clue could be "improved." Using @LMS's way of explaining:

    Tabasco Sauce covered Albany deer (that) Tabasco Sauce covered Boston deer scare (turn around and) scare Tabasco Sauce covered Atlanta deer.

    Let’s take out some unnecessary words:

    Tabasco/butter sauce covered Albany deer Tabasco/butter sauce covered Boston deer scare scare Tabasco/butter sauce covered Atlanta deer.

    Let's give that Tabasco/butter sauce a name:

    Buffalo Albany deer buffalo Boston deer scare scare buffalo Atlanta deer.

    Let’s change the verb:

    Buffalo Albany deer buffalo Boston deer buffalo buffalo buffalo Atlanta deer.

    Let’s change the place:

    Buffalo Buffalo deer buffalo Buffalo deer buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo deer.

    Hey. Let’s change the animal:

    Buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo.

    You are so very welcome.

    nick 4:51 PM  

    Trivia quiz. Not a fan.

    RooMonster 5:22 PM  

    Thanks@Z, I think my brain just twisted a bit. Lost more brain cells on that then on a bender!


    Fred Romagnolo 5:42 PM  

    Sometimes it helps to be a fogy: got Ina Claire immediately; she was a great stage star and occasionally made movies, so the clue is fair. I was sure that 16A was Kissinger 'cause I had DIK, & GIGAHERTZ, but LENDL cleared that up. ALUM should have had an abbreviation indication. The only reason I DNF'd is because of PBA, I see the (feeble) rationale, but still can't accept ADOS as "troubles". I didn't know NTS, or DATA PLANS, or THE CARS, but crosses fixed that. The only thing I referenced (almanac, not google) was K.C.JONES. After I finished I did 1 google: ANISEED. David Phillips is correct on that one. BTW San Franciscans know that Miss Claire was a permanent residence in a Nob Hill Hotel here after she retired from stage and screen.

    mac 5:44 PM  

    I knew Nan, but not Ina and Dik.

    Not a total wipe-out but there were a few holes. Attirer is really too much, and the 4 French clues must have been annoying to some.

    I didn't know G-strings have existed that long, or do we still have burlesque shows?

    I thought "add to cart" was very funny!

    RAD2626 5:52 PM  

    Liked two number sports misdirected - bowling and Indy 500. That's about it. Same traps and woes as everyone else.

    joho 6:05 PM  

    I was proud of myself for getting all but the NW which I was ridiculously difficult. Troubles the clue for ADOS when it had to be ails or ills? I don't think ADOS are necessarily troubling.

    I think the "NW Corner" can be added to our crossword lingo. It's broadened Natick's area.

    I was too busy today to come here until now and I'm glad I did because I feel much better having read the comments!

    Oh, and @Loren "You think it looks natural, but it couldn't look phonier if it had a chin strap." absolutey made my day!!!

    John V 6:06 PM  

    What @rex said. Awful.

    Dansah 6:15 PM  

    I don't do puzzles for "almost". That NW was poorly constructed. I can't believe I'm saying it but Rex was too kind.

    Alan 6:19 PM  

    Got DARK ANGEL immediately, starring a young Jessica Alba a genetically engineered (and really hot) superwoman, and then GIGAHERTZ, LENDL, KIMJONGUN, and ADDTOCART in short order. Steady progress from there that turned into slow progress when I circled back around to finish in the NW, ending with a faceplant on DaK/aNACLAIRE, so DNF.

    David from CA 6:33 PM  

    DNF due to 1 box. unfortunately that box was 6 squares wide by 7 deep - have never had such a solid expanse of white with the rest of the puzzle completely filled in. Reasons same as many others.

    PBA clue seemed definitely Saturday level - something like "Folks throwing lots of strikes" would have maybe given a toehold into that section.

    Strange how Rex will nitpick a theme to pieces for minor things that annoy him and thereby completely pan a puzzle, but this one he comes up with many valid objections shared by the majority of commenters, but then calls it a "marginally appealing puzzle". Was looking forward to the Porker's comments :(.

    Masked and Anonymo4Us 7:06 PM  

    Har. U'da thought the NW corner of this puz had ripped up people's plumbin, or somethin. OK, so INA CLAIRE is pretty desperate stuff. In the first place, I don't know a whole lot of INA's. In the second place, she wasn't in very many post-1930 movies. So, a tough sucker to plunk in the middle of an openin stacka 9's.

    Did y'all know there was another actress named INA Balin? She was in a movie with Elvis, and another with Paul Newman. But Ina digress…

    @63: yep. Memes are a tricky business. There's been some that have hung around like styrofoam:
    * Have a nice day
    * Kilroy was here
    * Baby on board
    Didn't know the Forever ALONE meme, but it was fairly easy to deduce, eventually. Have a nice day is sure a lot cheerier, tho.

    fave desperate weeject: NTS. @r.alph and I have discussed elseruntzwhere the problem of cluing this NTS puppy up in a fresh way. Ruff. {Antsy up the middle?}, maybe?

    Fun but feisty FriPuz. Now, off to fix my plumbin…



    Ludyjynn 7:25 PM  

    @joho, I second your motion to add "NW Corner" to the lexicon. Good call!

    weingolb 8:27 PM  

    "_ alum," when calling for SNL, is not a clue. I'm not sure what it is, perhaps random is the best term for it, or whatever is the counterpart for green paint when green paint appears not in the grid but rather in the cluing. Okay, maybe it's not as bad as BEATLE clued by "Former _".

    ADAWARE is especially annoying because it is a made-up name that is one letter away from meaning the exact opposite (adware).

    I'd like to go back to being unaware of ADAWARE please.

    Nancy 8:37 PM  

    @Lewis -- I should have thought of SNAIL. Very funny. But actually I thought of COMB, first, which was just as wrong.

    @joho -- Let me echo @Ludyjynn: that "NW corner" is a great new coinage for Natick-like puzzle woes. Or ADOS, if you prefer.

    BUT THE MOST INTERESTING TIDBIT FOR ME ON THIS BLOG TODAY: @mathguy played basketball alongside the great Bill Russell! So mathguy must also be jockguy. All I can say is WOW! Am I impressed!

    Teedmn 9:07 PM  
    This comment has been removed by the author.
    Teedmn 10:03 PM  

    DIK was a gimme for me. Then the AGE and ART crossing. I M PEI was a gimme. The rest was like carving marble, one chip at a time. But oh, the NW. If WS had left David's original clue for 16A referring to Dennis Rodman, it would have gone right in but as it was, I had KIM and GUN and couldn't think past a Kardashian clue.

    I had left my iPad on the opposite side of the house in order to avoid @LMS' "ice cream sandwich over the sink" temptation but after 40 minutes, I succumbed. Fired up the AcrossLite and everything I had down on paper was correct per the "check" button, much to my surprise. Even RAM INTO, which I was sure would either be RUN DOWN or something to do with a party-type bash.

    But my great shame was _DO_ for troubles. As sketchy as the clue was, you would think I could recognize the epitome of crosswordese but GOD NO.

    So a DNF after all. And right before I did this puzzle, I did the one in today's Syndiland, and it, too, was by David Phillips, so I started this one thinking I was in for a treat, sigh.

    Well, at least I can add QUEENIE to Nadine and Maybellene as girls in Chuck Berry songs, and creepy talking heads that are Forever ALONE and I'm left with the image of the Donald with a chin strap so the day is not a loss. Thanks all y'all, for the laughs, and DP for the puzzle angst :-).

    Anonymous 10:38 PM  

    Sorry, getting to today's puzzle rather late. Difficult treatment = chemo? Really?

    Z 1:09 AM  

    "SNL alum" gets 321,000 hits, lots of them from headlines. Movie stars, senator, dead, talk show hosts, they're everywhere.

    @anon10:38 - when you know someone doing CHEMO the clue will make perfect sense.

    Leapfinger 3:18 AM  

    I'm not as old as @Fred Rom, so I don't remember Ina Claire the way he does -- it was more a matter of recognizing the name after it filled in. "Oh yeah, I've heard that!"
    So I looked her up, and no surprise she wasn't more of a gimme; her heyday was in the 20's-30's, much like Claudette Colbert. However, Colbert continued her career into the 70's and 80's, while Claire's appearances became rare even in the 40's. The NYT obit, when she died in '85 at age 92, makes clear just how outstanding she was in her craft.


    The article says '[her] tipped-up nose and yielding chin... suggested both humor and beauty'. I'm quite sure she would have enjoyed that 'yielding chin'.

    Billy C 9:17 AM  

    Nancy --

    I kinda played basketball alongside Bill Russell.

    My junior high school team got to play on the parquet of the old Boston Garden (late 50s, I think) at halftime of a Celtics game. Btw, we won 14-8, I scored 8 points including a fall-away buzzer-beater. I wasn't a particularly good player, just lucky that day.

    Anyway, the Celts came back out for the second half and we got to stay on the court shooting warm-ups with them.

    Making it more memorable was the fact that it ended up being the highest-scoring game in NBA history up to that time, something like 175-145, no overtime.

    Maruchka 9:37 AM  

    Got smacked yesterday. Bad head cold met some bad cluing. Well, partly. Finished today, but not without outside help. Wait a minute - THE CARS? Had Ramones, tho really wanted ADDTOCART and CHEMO. Am I the only one?

    Loved QUEENIE, ANISEED, LENDL, RUSSELL (great man - lucky @mathguy & @Billy C). ADAWARE? New to me - thought MAL, but did not fit.

    Today's paper delivery went somewhere else, I'm guessing. I'll be late to the Saturday party...

    Leapfinger 9:46 AM  

    @Maruchka, me too had MalWARE a tete.

    @Z, I think Anony10:38 got that; it's just that the word CHEMO is kinda fraught with connotations.

    pmdm 12:22 PM  

    I hit the publish button before finishing my observation.

    Another way the clue is ironic is that it refers to the Drug Czar as "highest." So someone that is the highest himself is trying to keep people from getting "high." That is truly ironic.

    pmdm 12:26 PM  

    My initial comment for NCA President and Nancy got lost. Weird.

    Another type of irony is that normal titles of power imply controlling distribution. So a Drug Lord or Drug Barron actually controls the distribution of drugs, but a Drug Czar seeks to eliminate distribution of drugs. Not sure that really is irony.

    Leapfinger 7:34 AM  

    That comment most likely isn't lost.
    The real irony is that you're here on the wrong day, Prime Minister.

    (Yup, me-too had that extra window open)

    paulsfo 1:56 AM  

    @mathguy: did you know Bill Prewitt at USF? I don't know his exact years but might have been the same as yours. He's a big Irish guy and a jock, though not sure if he played in college.

    I also thought that "troubles" was a bad clue for ADOS, but the dictionary shows that I was just unfamiliar with one of the primary definitions of the word.

    kitshef 11:53 PM  

    Ugly dnf with basically the entire SW empty, other than RESIDENCE. Part of the problem was the awful INSCALE. Had oNSCALE, which made me thing 33A was (blank) zone, like auto zone, only longer. SNL clue was awful. ATTIRER I agree with @Rex completely, HoF-level bad. And why on earth does 51A clue have a question mark? It is an utterly straightforward clue. The question of whether or not to use the question mark can be tricky, but in this case it is obvious, and obviously wrong.

    Also did not like bash as a clue for RAMINTO. And ... INACLAIRE????

    Putting all that aside, it was still a weak puzzle. liked DARKANGEL and CHO ... and that's it for likes.

    Stephen 6:24 PM  

    Experience a minor crash: I had NAs, which beswoggled me, because I simply could not imagine that I had to correct 32A from YEs to YEP. Now that I looked, I *love* the clue!

    51A is "mouths to feed?". Why the "?"? What's so sly or indirect about MAWS that it needs the question mark?

    SNL alum? really, really, really? Let me pile on against that goofy clue.

    "GPS abbrev" is an invalid clue that only works because it has been used (invalidly) in crossword clues before. GPS is a satellite system that knows absolutely nothing about an "AVE". It is the navigation box that has the map and the AVEs in it, not the GPS subsystem. Hopefully, when no one has a dedicated GPS box anymore, and it all happens in our phones or wristwatches or brain implants, this silly misnomer will quietly die.

    Burma Shave 9:39 AM  


    ALONE and not with a SASH
    ICALL that DARKANGEL my QUEENIE, and I’m king,
    YEP, I’m in RESIDENCE with ERUDITE trash.


    rondo 10:37 AM  

    As I look at the finished grid, there are no write-overs today, unlike the early week puzzles. Not to say this was easy, it wasn’t, but I just didn’t make any mistakes. Unusual for a Friday. Have to admit INACLAIRE went in all by crosses, but no spilled ink.

    Started with the gimme DIK at 1d and had no problem recalling DARKANGEL, starring then 19 year old yeah yeah yeah baby Jessica Alba. The story line was forgettable, but not the black spandex/leather outfits worn by the star. That was the reason to watch.

    BTW – I googled INACLAIRE, a real yeah baby in her time. Even made the cover of Time magazine (not GQ).

    Got KCJONES from just the K. Back in the day it seemed as though the Celtics were on my LOCALTV station every Sunday, so I remember a lot of Boston basketball names.

    THECARS – oh the memories of what happened in my RESIDENCE after a few PILSNERs with THECARS turned up loud. Thank you Kathy and Bernadette.

    This puz was a TEST, but caused no UNREST, even in the northwest. Nice Friday.

    First time with food pics for me

    Anonymous 2:57 PM  

    The only funny or entertaining thing about this day's puzzle is Burma Shave's ditty. Ugly puzzle, lousy clues, and I do not accept David Phillips apology. So There. And Will Shortz should be held accountable too. SNL Alum, what the hell is that! I did get Attirer but believe it's unknown/unused. ADAWare is a little too technical. I've heard of antivirus and spyware but not ADAWARE. Group of 300 people as PBA? C'mon now. Had to look up Bete Humaine and feel that clue was a bit prissy and uncalled for.
    After completing 95% of the puzzle, I feel like I need a long hot shower to rid the angst.

    Ron Diego Unhappy in La Mesa, CA

    rain forest 3:13 PM  

    Very tough today. When you confidently enter forever *youNg*, exam, and Armoire on your first pass, you are in trouble. I actually found the NE and the SE relatively smooth and straightforward, but the entire West was a bear.

    Eventually seeing GSTRING was a breakthrough in the SW, but untangling the NW took a looong time. "Group of 300" was opaque until, finally, I thought of bowling, which of course gave PBA. and then ADOS instead of "ills' or "woes". The last entry was ALONE, and I have no knowledge of that "meme". I dislike the term and the concept anyway. But I did finish, taking maybe the longest time for me to complete a puzzle.

    spacecraft 4:40 PM  

    DNF in the north. I don't even remember KCJONES even after seeing the name. Hall-of-famer, you say? Not THAT much fame. Bob Cousy, sure. This guy?? Ya got me. I must admit I recognize Ivan LENDL; I just couldn't retrieve him from back then. That's my bad. I thought the priory was ScION; simple spelling mistake, but I thought maybe there was another, 4-letter one. Couldn't parse ADDTOCART with just AD_T_____. "Sting" for TRAP? Well, yeah, I get it; "The Sting" is one of my all-time favorite flicks. But still, a brutal connection to ask us to make. And as for brutal connections, that 300 thing is ridiculous. That's so far out of line as to be flatly unfair. You can't ask anybody to come up with PBA off that. Flag. The rest of it I simply did not know.

    And RERATES??? Seriously? Okay, I was gonna rate this one INC because I only did half of it, but now I'll RERATE it to F. So there.

    DMG 6:48 PM  

    This is a test. I have tried several times today to post my comment on the puzzle on my IPad but the robot won,t let me. Offer a picture selection to solve, then demands I copy some gibberish and post it, but it just won't copy. This is to see if I can get on on the IPad Air. I prefer the other one, but if this works....

    DMG 6:51 PM  

    Well that worked. My comment was basically that the puzzle was off my wave length. Too many memes, 200 something, 300 somethings. Solved about 2/3 and threw in the towel. About to give up on posting if this is going to be an every day thing!

    leftcoastTAM 7:45 PM  

    YEP, ICALL most of the NW a SET TRAP, and I RAMmedINTo it. DNF

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    GTownInfo 8:05 PM  


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