Private-sector rocket launcher / TUE 8-4-15 / Lee with 2011 #1 album Mission Bell / Yearly gathering for superhero fans / One shopping for old curios / New York county bordering Pennsylvania / Low-growing tree often in dense thickets / Missing part of Great Sphinx of Giza

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Constructor: Joel Fagliano

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging (for a Tuesday ... actually, it was just that SW corner that slowed me down ... 3:48 solving time)

THEME: LIQUOR STORE (52A: Where to purchase the starts of 21-, 26- and 45-Across) — starts of said answers are units of booze:

Theme answers:
  • FIFTH AVENUE (21A: Fashionable shopping area in New York City)
  • SIX-PACK ABS (26A: Goal of one doing crunches)
  • CASE CLOSED ("End of discussion")
Word of the Day: SPACEX (3D: Private-sector rocket launcher) —
Space Exploration Technologies Corporation (SpaceX) is an American aerospace manufacturer and space transport services company with its headquarters in Hawthorne, California, USA. It was founded in 2002 by former PayPal entrepreneur and Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk with the goal of creating the technologies that will enable humanity to reduce space transportation costs and enable the colonization of Mars (fully and rapidly reusable rockets) It has developed the Falcon 1 and Falcon 9 launch vehicles, both of which were designed from conception to eventually become reusable, and the Dragon spacecraft which is flown into orbit by the Falcon 9 launch vehicle to supply the International Space Station (ISS) with cargo. A manned version of Dragon is in development. (wikipedia)
• • •

I was probably supposed to trip on LISTICLE (35D: "21 Pictures That Will Restore Your Faith in Humanity," e.g.), which is probably the most modern / least well-known entry in the grid, but that didn't trip me at all, and yet I still managed to fall on my face in that section because of a bummer of a cross-ref (the boring CAR / ACURA) and then TIOGA (living in NY helped some, but not much there), and then GOATS (50D: Their hair makes cashmere). My mind was sending only pictures of ... I think those are llamas. Or alpacas. Not GOATS, for sure. So I flailed around down there some, so my LISTICLE knowledge was for naught. Actually, I don't think I really know what a LISTICLE is. A list that is an article? As I typed that last question out, I became surer and surer that that is correct. But LISTICLE really seems like a brand name. There's probably a Let's see ... hmm, it's actually a dot "co." What the hell is dot "co"? This is too much new info for me to take in in one day. It was enough to learn cashmere = GOATS. Let's just leave today's learning at that.

["The stars are gonna spell out the answers to tomorrow's crossword ..."]

The theme! It was fine. Absolutely respectable for a Tuesday puzzle. In fact, for a *Tuesday* puzzle, it's bleepin' golden. Most Tuesdays end up Trying Too Hard and falling on their faces. This one just steps to the plate and hits a solid single to left, easily driving in the runner on third. This is all to say that the theme is fine, but not the highlight. The contemporary and/or bouncy fill is the highlight. SPACE X! COMIC CON! HOTH isn't contemporary, exactly, but since it's always 1980 in my soul, HOTH! I'd throw AAA and ISTS and maybe ANS. in the trash, but I'll take the rest as is. Nicely done.

  • 27D: Great Plains tribe (KIOWA) — a tribe I learned from crosswords, one that I now know of as "that K one in five letters how does it go again?" My first stab at spelling was pathetically close to KOALA.
  • 61A: What indicates everything that's left? (WILL) — first answer: ET AL. This answer is blatant sucking up to the editor. [and now here's the part where I say "I'm kidding" just in case ...]
  • 47D: Part of E = mc^2 (ENERGY) — I for real had EQUALS.
Thanks to everyone who filled in for me during my time at middle-aged summer camp (one week) and Giant Yearly Family Vacation (another week): Matt, Neville, Eli, Adrianne, Andy, Ben, Lena, Evan, Melissa, and the always lovely and reliable Annabel. It's very (very!) nice to know I can leave for a bit and all the trains will run on time (with fewer Mussolini-esque implications). You might get another pinch-hitter this weekend, as I head to Lollapuzzoola 8 in NYC this weekend (8/8!). Or else I will blog live from the tourney (or just post-tourney), which guarantees certain blog post features, none of which is complete coherence, but you'll live. Oh, and it goes without saying that you should head to Lollapuzzoola 8 this weekend if you are anywhere in or near the northeastern U.S. and also enjoy crosswords (presumably if you are reading this, you fall into the latter category; although if you do not, in fact, enjoy crosswords, please write me and let me know why you are reading my blog, as I am now dead curious).

See you tomorrow.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

PS if you somehow can't make it to Lollapuzzoola 8 this weekend, there's an At-Home version of the tourney you can play. Go here for details.

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


jae 12:12 AM  

Medium Tues. for me though LISTICLE, SCRUB OAK (did anyone try ShRUB OAK?) and ERIC and AMOS as clued seem a bit later week.  

I'm with Rex. Much good stuff here, liked it a lot.  My only nit is if you try to buy a FIFTH in the good old US of A (or pretty much any place else) what you'll get is .75 liters and that friends is not a FIFTH.

Steve J 12:13 AM  

A rare Tuesday puzzle that I found fun and lively. Lots of great, contemporary fill that didn't feel like it was trying too hard to be hip. A few nice clues. And another rarity for a Tuesday: a theme that had me guessing what it was until I got to the revealer. About as good as I could hope for from an early-week puzzle.

@Rex, welcome back. And I'll echo thanks to your guest hosts. They were all great to read. (BTW, a LISTICLE is one of those incessant "17 Things Only People Who Solve Crosswords Understand" lists posing as articles (hence the name) that overwhelm post people's Facebook feeds, and that Buzzfeed used to turn into a company worth hundreds of millions, if not more.

lit.doc 12:16 AM  

Listicle?! Tuesday?! No.

Music man 12:20 AM  

Oh my god, he's back. I was wondering who the pinch hitter was since they didn't identify themselves, just assuming it was still a pinch hitter because of the lack of hatred for the puzzle lol. But I guess you either really did like it or had a really nice vacation :)

I liked it. I'll say that. But did you solve using the downs only method? Cause I had -OATS before I read the clue for GOATS. And something like -N-RG- or something obvious enough for me to get ENERGY right off the bat. You did beat my time by a good 12 minutes or so, but hey, I guess we just solve at completely different levels. :)

Never in my life have heard of LISTICLE btw.

Glad you're back!

George Barany 12:25 AM  

Welcome back, @Rex!

From this puzzle by @Joel Fagliano, I learned a new word, LISTICLE, to describe something that we all see way too much of. Very pleased to note the classic (1804) EROICA symphony, balancing the sort-of-classic (for its time = 1973) PIANO_MAN, by Billy @Joel (not @Billy C).

My biggest laughs, though, came from @Hayley Gold's webcomic, which riffs on many of the answer words found in the puzzle, and their relative placements in a grid that presents two + and four - signs mapped out prominently by the black squares. Check it out for yourselves.

mathgent 12:32 AM  

Absolutely wonderful. Only 10 three-letter entries, I was introduced to seven entries including LISTICLE and SPACEX. And there were 6 sparklers including COMICCON, FIFTHAVENUE, and SIXPACKABS.

Best Tuesday in ages.

chefwen 1:00 AM  

Not a slam dunk Tuesday for me. Messed up with in a SEC at 23A and toil before EARN at 59A. I guess I don't know how to spell LIQUOR, put an E in there instead of O, which is odd, cuz god knows I consume my fair share of the stuff. Cute puzzle that tripped me up briefly.

Music man 1:35 AM  

Would you believe than when I was student teaching, my CO-OP pronounced it "uh-roy-ca" ?!?! He was a sax player...

travis 1:58 AM  

Here in Pennsylvania, you'd have to go to three different stores to buy all those. Fifths would be bought at the state store, cases at a beer distributor, and six-packs at a bar/restaurant.

Anonymous 2:33 AM  

Best Tuesday I've seen in a long time. Fun, lively, and dare I say effervescent. Thought it might be a BEQ once I got the theme.


DrLee77 6:13 AM  

Put me in the LISTICLE of people here who never heard of LISTICLE. @Rex Welcome back. As I live in northwestern PA, I knew that TIOGA was a county here, so I figured what the heck, try it. Good guess. They juxtapose btw. ENERGY=Mass x speed of light (represented by the constant C) squared. Nice write up @Rex.

TrudyJ 6:40 AM  

A Mountain Goats video! My day is complete.

LISTICLE was a gimme for me too.

ChristopherF 6:45 AM  

Don't want to spoil what is truly a fine Tuesday puzzle, but the one thing you won't find in a liquor store in the NYT's home state is a six pack - liquor stores are restricted to selling only wine and the harder stuff.

aging soprano 7:01 AM  

I found this one easy for a Tuesday, and I am not a super solver. Welcome back Rex. You must have had a good vacation. The R&R seems to have mellowed you. Nice. Struggling here with 95 F. temperatures and 85% humidity has left me feeling LISTICLE. Or maybe my LISTICLEs are making me feel that way. Anyway, am happily making my LISTICLE of what to take to Salzburg next week. Looking forward to mountain air, which I hope will A CURA me, too, so I can come back mellow like you.

Z 7:06 AM  

"In fact, for a *Tuesday* puzzle, it's bleepin' golden." Yep. My favorite bonus themer is 20A.

AMOS Lee and Billy Joel performing EROICA in Manhattan. Coming soon.

elitza 7:08 AM  

Dug it. Finished in 6:41 on the iPad, which is a pretty standard time for my Tuesdays. COMICCON! PIANOMAN!

JFC 7:24 AM  

VERY surprised at Rex's rating for this one. Maybe vacation led to a mental LAPSE or two? I found this exceedingly easy and straightforward.

Moist Man 7:30 AM  

Rex has been welcomed back from vacation with a lot of "moist" answers, which I know will make him happy. BASTE, WET NAP, ALOE, EGGY INKY OILS, SOURED milk. Just noticed EGGY crosses DENNY'S. Cute.

Mike D. 7:41 AM  

I have a (BASTEd?) beef with EEK. I have never heard it used as a synonym for "whee!" or "yay!" or "fun!" EEK seems to me to be more appropriate for the spotting of a large insect or maybe a mouse in the house, not for the glee of jumping on a chair. Just sayin'.

Oscar 7:42 AM  

If you can't make a squeaky clean 74-worder, don't. Just don't; I don't care who you work for.

aging soprano 7:43 AM  

EEK! There's a LISTICLE in there. But let's be reaLISTICLE: it's too hot to jump on a chair.

Haiku Nerd 7:44 AM  


Billy C 7:46 AM  

I suspect the people complaining about LISTICLE on a Tuesday are the same folks who complained about APERCU on a Monday. My feelings are exactly the opposite: I LOVE a challenging word or two thrown into an early week puzzle. Spice of life and all...

Unknown 7:47 AM  

Listicle always feels strangely dirty to me - like it's the testicle of lists.

I also had ShRUBOAK. AMIhA looked wrong to be Italian, but it took the 'you're almost there' box to force me to change it.

@chefwen, I've said it before, but seriously: we have the same dog.

aging soprano 7:51 AM  

EEK! Look at the size of the LISTICLEs on that GOAT.
The guy is simply unLISTICabLE.
Do you like LISTICLEd cucumbers.
We get LISTICLEs hanging from our roof in winter. Actually, we don't.
So many wonderful things you can do with a LISTICLE

aging soprano 7:53 AM  


AliasZ 8:06 AM  

What do you call an experimental LISTICLE Web page? Test-LISTICLE.

Cool Tuesday puzzle with a simple enough theme to not cause much confusion, and sparse enough to not cause lots of junk fill, but allow some TIOGA, KIOWA, AMOEBA, AMICA, EROICA and the like. ANTIQUER sounds weird to me, unless it means "more ancient", but if AOLER and NBAER are OK, I guess so is antiquer -- what do I know?

The two + / - signs in the grid really mean nothing at all despite all efforts of Hayley's Marvel-ous comic on the matter. Speaking of comics, COMIC CON is a convention ostensibly for comic book enthusiasts, but it turns out it is a ruse by stand-up comics to sell you time-share resort condos in Detroit. A real comic con. Like the plus/minus signs in the grid that add up to zero: they cancel each other.

SILAGE reminded me of the Chantilly Codex, a manuscript from c.1350-1400 held in the museum at the Château de Chantilly in Chantilly, Oise. [Hey, I knew Oise from puzzles!] It contains music of a dozen-or-so composers of the era including Guillaume de Machaut and SoLAGE. It is music in the Art subtilior (subtler art) style that followed the Ars nova movement. Some of the musical notation in the manuscript is in odd shapes (circle, heart, etc.) to illustrate its content (round, love song, etc.). It is mesmerizing music that may calm your nerves and put you in a trance. Enjoy.

Fun puzzle. Thank you Joel.

Craig 8:10 AM  

I don’t agree with the definition for the word “moot” in the clue for 18A. The clue definition assumes a disparaging verdict against the point being raised by the person using the word. I checked in three dictionaries around this place, and not one of them agrees with that. The phrase “moot point” usually means that a point has been rendered as “not pertinent to the discussion at hand”, which doesn’t suggest that the point can’t have value elsewhere. If we loose the actual or historic meaning of the word, then referring to someone’s point as “moot” will carry an extra dash of nastiness, as if we’re saying: “Your point is worthless!” And the language will be diminished in a small way, and English speakers will have gained one more way to speak rudely to each other. The only place I know of that repeatedly gets this word wrong in print is in The New York Times crossword puzzle, perhaps for the sake of space. If I were in charge of things over there, I would want to get things right as often as possble.

Other than that I enjoyed the puzzle. It’s good to have Rex back, and it’s nice that he leaves his readers in good hands, while he’s off doing interesting things.

dk 8:13 AM  

🌕🌕🌕🌕 (4 mOOOOns)

A joyful romp and on a Tuesday! I am in the shrub oak crowd.

I am off to a LIQUORSTORE tomorrow to buy Bullet Rye for Sazeracs this weekend. According to the American Cocktail Museum (NOLA of course) Sazeracs may have been the first cocktail. Still have Absinthe from the days when your ordered it fro Romania as a herbal tonic (ALOE free I am sure).

Will see ACME tomorrow -- clearly the highlight of anyone's week.

Thanks Joel!

JackF 8:16 AM  

Nice Tuesday -- nothing spectacular but solid. Got slowed down in the northeast with a lapse on amica -- I can never seem to remember Italian words for things.

My big complaint is the revealer. "Where to purchase" six packs, cases and fifths. In many states, including New York, liquor stores are not allowed to sell beer and wine, so you could not purchase a conventional six pack or case at a liquor store. Would have much preferred to see the old fashioned "package store," or see "fifth" converted to "forty" and "liquor" to something more beer-centric. Or the editor could have taken the lazy way out and changed the clue to "where one MIGHT purchase...."

Leapfinger 8:24 AM  

Wow, @Rex, you sound tanfastic! and put out a great blog!! Seems that vacation did you a world of good, in spite of concurrent dustups. Maybe we got us a win-win situation.

Saw that we started out with another LISP LAPSE, and wondered if Will WILL ever (L)EARN. But further along, SEWED was SEWN on right (See? it helps to BASTE first) so perhaps it's just a SEW-SEW situation. Who NOSE?

Thought the theme was pretty tight after I got to CASE CLOSED. Until then, what with FIFTH and SIX, I thought we were going numeric. Have to think the cross of SIXPACK and SPEW is no accident. Had SIOux (sweet!) before before KIOWA, but everything else unfolded quite sMOOThly, Even the ones I didn't know kind of LISTICLEd me.

Oh yes, previous xword experience took me to WETone before WETNAP. I 'spose a WETNAP indicates short dreams.

KIN INKY!! (for a Tuesday)
Have a good'un.

RAD2626 8:27 AM  

Agree with all of the positive sentiments. Yes, not only tried ShRUBOAK but stuck with it. AMIhA seemed a bit KIOWA-ian, but I did not want to either "check" or look it up, so a Tuesday DNF which is a little discouraging. Also went with iNaSEC but got that eventually corrected. Fine puzzle with some very clever clues. Liked clue for WILL the best.

Leapfinger 8:31 AM  


Because they're bigger than rabbits. And Cats.

quilter1 8:41 AM  

Not too hard but crunchy enough for Tuesday. I can't believe I am commenting so early. Where is everyone? Hand up for never having heard of LISTCICLE. Huh?

Carola 8:42 AM  

After FIFTH AVENUE and SIX PACK ABS, I was expecting something like "seventh heaven" - and thought Joel might be criticized for randomly beginning with "FIFTH." So, CASE CLOSED was definitely a shock to my little gray cells.

LISTICLE was new to me; I briefly wondered if was going to be LIfe list; knew TIOGA from my daughter's grad school years at Cornell. I appreciated the positive clues (champagne, high-five, cookery) for POP, SLAP, and BASTE. SPEW x SLAW is how my husband feels about anything made with cabbage (apologies to those having breakfast).

chefbea 8:44 AM  

Got the theme at fifth avenue...knew it was liquor store. IHand up for not knowing listicle. Also did not know spacex. Of course loved slaw and baste

Tita 8:46 AM  

Only 7 comments? I must imagine all the clever comments already made... Like the mandatory kerfuffle over LISP...

Was expecting something seven-ish as the third themer...Didn't make the link till I finally looked at the revealer.
Yes, a fine Tuesday. The clue for EEK is fun.
And fun clue for NOSE, though it makes me mad to think of Napoleon's men taking potshots at it. Well, in doing my own fact-checking, what do I discover but a huge mystery and disagreement about not only who destoyed that nose, but about the Sphinx' ethnicity.

Thanks Mr. Fagliano, thanks to all the fabulous subs, and thanks Rex for taking that vacation and for coming back.

Dorothy Biggs 8:49 AM  

I know LISTICLEs primarily from reading Cracked has been around a long time (even before the interwebs) and have always published "The 5 Craziest Things You Learn As An Exotic Dancer," type articles...which are always in the form of a, ergo and to wit: LISTICLEs. Buzz Feed and Mental Floss have adapted the format (and a lot of others) so listicles are everywhere now.

IMHO, today's puzzle should have been yesterday and yesterday's today. This one was breezy without one hangup. I caught on to the theme very early with SIXPACKABS and CASECLOSED. I kept looking for a "handle" though...a "handle" is a bottle of liquor with, um, a handle. It's like a gallon or a liter or something...the next size up from a fifth. A "handle" would've been a nice misdirect and a lesser known term of liquor store items, but as it is, easy peasy.

I'm reading a book currently that goes into some detail about E=MC2. It's that speed of light squared part that is mind boggling to me.

My only nit...ANTIQUER seems a bit forced.

And apropos of nothing, if you've read the xwordinfo write-up by JC, he wondered about buying a CASE at his local liquor store since, where he lives, beer is not sold there. He thought buying a case of liquor was a lot. Which it is. Unless you're having a party, of course. But my guess is that liquor stores in Washington (?) sell wine...and a lot of people buy wine by the case. Here in Tennessee, if you buy it by the case you usually get a 10% discount. So, load up!

mac 8:54 AM  

Rex is back!

Excellent Tuesday puzzle. Needed some crosses for listicle, but I had heard of it, and seen many.

Looking forward to Lolla this weekend!

GeezerJackYale48 9:07 AM  

So is "listicle" a modern term or invention for this puzzle? OK, OK, I know "modern term" properly categorizes me in the last century.

Ludyjynn 9:08 AM  

Interesting...the infamous Spiro Agnew referenced for a third time in so many weeks via "nattering NABOBs of negativism", one of his memorable caustic SAYings. That man could LASH out and SPEW like nobody's business. But we all know how illegal CASH bribes enabled his political enemies to SIC him and he became their GOAT and they dispatched him w/ EASE when he resigned as VPOTUS in late 1973. CASE CLOSED.

Very nice Tuesday solve. Thanks, JF and WILL. Welcome back, Rex.

GeezerJackYale48 9:12 AM  

Jae, you hit one of my hot buttons. You can't buy a fifth, nor a pound can of coffee, nor a half gallon of ice cream, et al. Make it a little smaller, maybe the consumer won"t notice.

joho 9:22 AM  

Glad to have you, back, @Rex!

I'm high on the theme, a lot of fun with the perfect reveal.

Like just about everybody I tried to make sense out of LISTICLE. It just doesn't look right. So I made a real word by changing SLAW to STAX and KIN to KEN.

I keep parsing it SCRU BOAK, too, don't know why. If you think LISTICLE is obscure!

HOTH was new to me, too. But all crosses were fair, the grid was clean and current making the solve easy and entertaining.

Thank you, Joel! And, of course, we can't ignore WILL today!

Steve M 9:25 AM  

Top notch Tuesday

Nancy 9:34 AM  

Let me echo @mathgent: "Best Tuesday in ages." A relatively high level of difficulty, no junk at all, a cute theme (although, once again, I solved as a themeless) and cluing that was often misleading and clever, rather than obvious and blah. I especially liked the clues for LASSOS, AMOEBA, WILL and SEWN. Actually had to come here to see if I had solved correctly (I had), since I wasn't sure of LISTICLE and TIOGA. BTW, is a LISTICLE a list that's as ephemeral as a popsicle?

One writeover: ENGIRDLE before ENCIRCLE, but ERIC Blair straightened me out.

RooMonster 9:43 AM  

Hey All !
Thought it would be a numbers theme after having a FIFTH and a SIX PACK. Some un-Tuesday words in here, KIOWA, HOTH, NABOB, SILAGE, LISTICLE (WOE, that one).

Did think it felt more Wednesdayish, maybe Will has his days mixed up! :-) Was a nice, dreck free puz. I still wonder, as Wills assisstant, if Joel gets the money for his puzs or if it stays in house. Curious. I guess only WILL NOSE! Thought LASSOS was LASSOes. @jae, I had ShRUB! Also writeover- etaL->WILL.

LOL at Rex's Equals! Good stuff!


Andrea 9:52 AM  

Welcome back!!!
It's always 1980 in my soul too :^)

Leapfinger 9:58 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Carola 10:07 AM  

@aging soprano - Bon voyage! I envy you - I was wishing I could get teleported over there for Cecilia Bartoli's Norma. But this aging opera fan must make do with memories of Joan Sutherland from the 1960s.

Z 10:18 AM  

@ludyjynn - Although Spiro uttered them, the words nattering NABOBS of negativity were actually the work of William Safire.

Interesting that the NYTX would use a non-NY definition of LIQUOR STORE. Where I live the most common term is "party store," although LIQUOR STORE is heard, so no problem here.

Colby 10:35 AM  

One of the best Tuesday puzzles I have ever played. Fresh clues and answers + an alcohol theme = top shelf puzzle.

Tita 10:40 AM  

I meant to mention SEWN today, @Leapy... I missed the BASTE connection, though.
Hey - is the cross of EROICA & COMICCON on purpose? I'm sure there is tuetonic superhero wandering the halls at that show...

Hope to see lots of you at Lolla!

I Would Date Hayley Gold in a Heartbeat 10:43 AM  

Anyone familiar with the term "package store"?

The Mouse that ROARS 10:49 AM  

@AliasZ, one who goes antiquing (gerundiform noun verbification) gets to be called an ANTIQUER, according to the "Add -er or -r [for words ending in e]" Rule to describe persons(s) indulging in Activity X. The alternative recognizes me as about to become numerically ANTIQUER within the week than I currently am, categorically speaking. Rather than ANTIQUE, however, I am ANTI-EEK, since I believe that business of jumping on chairs to EEK (presumably when a mouse appears on the horizon) implies a whole lot of gendered stereotyping.

Or so I HERD.

jberg 10:50 AM  

Both Wisconsin, where I grew up, and Massachusetts, where I live now, lets LIQUOR STOREs sell anything alcoholic; MA does have separate wine-only stores, however, and restaurant licensing is much more complex. Anyway, that one gave me no trouble. I spent more time thinking about 62A, "Like Frensh toast," as I was in 'too clever by half' mode -- wanting something like 'salut' or 'brule.' I had to get the GG from crosses before I saw the light.

The theme was basically fine, with a slight weakness for SIX-PACK ABS, which refers metaphorically to a real six-pack, whereas FIFTH and CASE were clued with completely different meanings. On the other hand, I admired getting the scrabbliest letters, X and Q, into the themers--and equally admired the decision not to try for a pangram unless the Z could be put into a themer as well.

@GeezerJack-- there are two different phenomena going on. The FIFTH to .75 litres is part of the universal switch to metric for pre-packaged liquids. The change of coffee packaging (at least, bags of beans) from 16 to 12 oz. is, as you say, an attempt to get consumers to accept higher prices.

Welcome back, @Rex!

weingolb 10:55 AM  

I found this puzzle easy but intriguing (mostly because of the vocab). It didn't try too hard; it just made you play the game.

Of course, an alcohol theme would tickle someone like me whose handle is an anagram for "wine blog" and is German for wine and blog spelt backwards. Anyone else really into rosé these dog days of summer? I'd take a FIFTH, a SIXPACK or a CASE of it right now!

@Craig your point is not MOOT, but I wonder if you read the clue as I did, inferring a moot situation rather than point — "the situation has become moot" does mean the situation is no longer worth discussion, no? But I guess the crux of your comment is whether "not pertinent to an argument" can be taken within a context to mean "not worth discussing." Interesting point.

Anonymous 10:57 AM  

ABC stores.
Package stores.
Bottle stores.
State stores.
Off-licence stores.
Maybe even Mom and POP stores.
Euphemisms all. They're LIQUOR STORES.

Malsdemare 11:06 AM  

In my head, it is Wednesday so I kept thinking this puzzle was awfully easy. So it was a double relief to come here and discover my error, partly because that redeems the puzzle and partly becuase that puts off the dentist one more day (whew!). My semi-loved third Alma Mater made the puzzle without any reference to you-know-who (or don't, as the CASE may be). Didn't know LISTICLE, but I'm in fine company there. Here in Illinois you can buy anything anywhere, including pseudo-fifths in the drug store. But I do dislike the multiple stops required to get beer, wine, and groceries when at my daughter's in PA.

PIANOMAN made me smile at the memory of my then teenage daughter pounding away on my mother's beloved grand piano, singing "It's nine o'clock . . ." at the top of her voice. Then segueing into Jerry Lee Lewis. Hard to know if classically trained Pauline would have loved that someone adored her piano or hated the music it was producing. Loved, I like to think.

Now to give a listen to SoLAGE.

chefbea 11:07 AM  

Here in North Carolina you buy liquor at the ABC store (American Beverage Control), beer and wine at the grocery store or World Market, and wine at a wine store or CVS - while picking up your prescription !!

Anonymous 11:12 AM  

Second time in two days that I beat my old record of solving time. Either the puzzles are getting easier, or those little grey cells from yesterday are still in play. Thanks for not having an O reference in this puzzle. that was getting tired.

Malsdemare 11:13 AM  

@AliasZ. Gorgeous! Thanks for the link.

Da Bears 11:28 AM  

Apparently, someone else has opted for JFC, which is fine as I hold no copyright. So this will be my post as JFC.

Glad to see Rex back and in good humor.

Did anyone notice the progression: fifth, six pack, case, store (1-6-12-X)?

Candy is dandy but liquor is quicker -- Ogden Nash.


Tita 11:30 AM  

@weingolb - for a summer wine, try a Portuguese Vinho Verde (green wine - green as in new - not color).
Slightly effervescent, nice and refreshing, and at the price, you don't mind dropping in an ice cube to keep it cold.
(I am the polar opposite of a wine snob, even though when I grow up I want to become one.)

I needed PIANOMAN to become well-established as the test pattern of my mind before I realized that it is also a themer!!

cwf 11:31 AM  

Seemed really, really easy. I only had to read about half of the down clues. One I did read tripped me up; has "linkbait" off the LI instead of listicle.

old timer 11:33 AM  

Yesterday: 8 minutes. Today: 10 minutes. So from my point of view, yesterday was Monday easy and today was just a bit tougher. Reason being, I needed crosses. I usually can solve 80% of a Monday down-only or across-only.

I am always shocked when Rex is tied up in a quadrant that I find easy. But we have LIQUORSTOREs large and small in California, and they all sell beer and at least some wine. Our best known such store sells wine from at least 100 local producers.

TIOGA was an inspired guess, but almost every geographical feature in California not named by the Spanish and Mexicans was named by pioneers from Ohio, New York, Pennsylvania or New England. We used to travel regularly across Tioga Pass on our way to Inyo County, always stopping at the "Mobil Mart" aka the "Whoa Nellie Deli". Great food, great beer, and a fine view of Mono Lake. This year, road work on the Tioga Road in Yosemite made it better to take the Echo Summit and Monitor Pass route, almost as fast, but longer -- and after all, the Mobil Mart is 2 minutes from Hwy 395, so we stopped by anyway.

No doubt Rex will be grouchy some day this week, but his praise was spot-on for this one. And I loved LISTICLE.

AliasZ 11:45 AM  

I have been known to scour flea markets for LPs, which makes me a VINYLER.

Suggestions for future NYT crossword-worthy words describing various collectors:


The possibilities are endless.

Joseph Michael 11:54 AM  

Add me to the LISTICLE of those who liked the puzzle. Simple theme hidden at first to produce a satisfying aha moment. Solid fill with a few nice misdirects in the cluing. Great job, Joel, as usual.

Welcome back, Rex. Your blog has certainly mellowed out with your friendly writeup and a welcome absence of vitriol among the comments. Not even a rant yet about the clue for LISP.


Craig 11:55 AM  

@weingolb at 10:55, that’s interesting about the anagramability of your handle. With a name like weingolb you really should start a wine blog. What’s that? You did? Is rosé officially a “craze”? I did not see that coming. Last year we had a “song” of the summer, this year it’s a “wine”. (though not if @Tita has anything to say about it.) I think a definition of “moot” doesn’t include a judgement or evaluation of the “point” or “situation”. A judgement of “worth” may exist in some context or other, but not in the definition. That word seems to be used often these days.

weingolb 11:55 AM  

@Tita In my opinion, crossworlds are good and ready to retire the Italian ASTIs for some prime Portuguese VINHO placenames — DAO being at the very top of that list.

Andrew Heinegg 11:56 AM  

I would like to take this opportunity to express my thanks for the vetting of this blog. It has now become what it should have been always: comments on the day's puzzle, amusing and informative anecdotes about answers to the puzzle and side subjects related to the puzzle. Gone are the vitriol and the ads for voodoo doctors who save marriages.

I thought today was a fine effort by JF. You are either happy or not with outre answers like listicle on a Tuesday. I like them as long as they are sussable, which all of the answers today were. A solid effort;

JTHurst 12:07 PM  


@ aging soprano - like
@AliasZ (twice) - like
@Leapfinger - like
@anonymous (10:57) - like

Go Figure (GF)

Bob Kerfuffle 12:27 PM  

Fine puzzle. Hand up for WET ONE before WET NAP.

I can sympathize with Rex's puzzlement over "" I was proofreading the brochure for a computer conference this year when I came upon a mention of a software developer that had ".co" as the suffix. No, obvious mistake, I said, must be ".com", anybody knows that. Went back and forth a few times, turns out I was wrong, it was ".co". This Wikipedia entry may explain more to you than it does to me.

On a personal note, staring to feel better, really hope I can get to Lollapuzzoola on Saturday to see Nancy, mac, Tita, Rex, others.

OISK 12:52 PM  

Listicle was mystical. Got it because I have heard of Tioga. Aren't there enough ACTUAL words in the English (and occasionally, French, German, Spanish, Hebrew) to use? Three of the last four puzzles have included "words" I have never seen, and never hope to again. Never heard of Spacex either.

But that said, what made this a really good Tuesday puzzle, was that the more obscure answers were almost all clearly discernible from the crosses. (Never heard of Amos Lee, either, or "Hoth," which is really obscure for any day, not just a Tuesday. But look at the straighforward across clues that lead to Hoth. (Better clue? Hose with a 1-across?) For me, that is part of the essence of good construction.

Well constructed, fine Tuesday puzzle!

Steve J 1:34 PM  

I guess it's known to me because I work in advertising and media, but I'm a little surprised at how little-known LISTICLE appears to be. Yes, it's a very neo neologism, but it's one that's gotten a fair amount of circulation and more than a fair amount of derision.

@weingolb: One of my favorite things every spring is the release of a new batch or rosés. After I discovered some years back that they weren't all the insipid, sweet wines I remember my parents drinking, and that there were so many wonderful, dry, minerally and citrusy examples, they quickly became among my favorite things. And I'm with you on retiring ASTI from crosswords.

@Z: Liquor stores and their ilk appear to be one of the relatively rare cases where the homogenization of American English hasn't had much effect. Party store is pretty much a Michigan thing, if I remember correctly, and elsewhere you have package stores/packies, bottle shops and more (listed by another poster earlier today). I wonder if that's in part due to the crazy quilt of regulations regarding the sale of alcohol in this country.

ANON B 1:34 PM  

What kind of a mind knows of such
a word as listicle but also can
come up with such an obscure example
of one? My mind is boggled.

Charles Flaster 1:39 PM  

Liked this EZ workout.
Learned LISTICLE and able to suss it with TIOGA from my NY days.
Thanks JF and REX( good luck at L8).

Arlene 1:50 PM  

I guess the word of the day is LISTICLE! It looks better on paper than said out loud, by the way.
Glad I'm in good company - solvers who can get words they never heard of!

JohnAyers 2:02 PM  

Rex: I read to see if I am the only person that thinks a word or clue is wacko. Live in Texas

GeezerJackYale48 2:37 PM  

jberg: thanks for the word on changing liquid measurements to metrics. I also bought a six pack of tonic water the other day, and while I wasn't looking, someone has evidently reduced the 12 oz bottles to 10 oz, which no longer fills my vodka/tonic/lime drinking glass. Bummer. On the subject of liquor sales, we in Pennsylvania have the awful state-run liquor stores. But you don't buy beer there. No, you can't buy it in a store either. You have to go to a distributor - but if he owns a bar, you can buy a 12-pack there. No no, not a six-pack. I don't think my state sells them. But some stores can get licenses to serve beer. Some can even sell some... I think two - two bottles, that is - or a groaner...or? Any fellow Pa residents can correct anything wrong I have written, because I long ago gave up and started driving 10 miles to Delaware, which has no such rules - or sales tax, either, for that matter.

Z 3:33 PM  

@GeezerJackYale48 - regarding smaller tonic water bottles, the solution is simple...more vodka.

@Steve J - ah, prohibition's lasting legacies. I noticed while in NC that many craft brewers have tap rooms but don't serve food, a relative rarity here in the mitten.

Ellen S 3:50 PM  

Long ago I lived in New York State. As I recall, the liquor stores (whateve they were called) sold both wine and distilled spirits. They definitely did not sell beer, which you could buy in a grocery store. More interesting, another thing the liquor stores (which sold wine, remember) did not sell, were not permitted to sell, was corkscrews ... (were corkscrews? Another thing were corkscrews?) And not open on Sundays, right?

On the other hand, every convenience store (some open 24-hours) sold cigarette papers and other essential stuff. You had to really plan things out to get drunk, but you could get stoned very conveniently. My co-workers demonstrated this often. (To my knowledge, though, the convenience stores didn't sell the actual dope, just the paraphernalia.) Have to go to a hardware store to buy a corkscrew????? Really???? While whiskey has screwtops?

Here in California you can buy anything anywhere any time. (I don't think the convenience stores sell cigarette papers, or at least don't have them up by the cash register like the ones in NY.)

@Craig -- give up trying to save "moot point". It's a lost cause. The language is evolving. Please note, "evolution" doesn't really imply progress, just change. We humans are not better than worms, however more complex we may be; we are worse if you compare who does the most good for the planet, and who the most harm. My campaign was to save "eke out." Once upon a time it meant "supplement", and it was clued that way in the puzzles until just a few years ago. Families that were in straitened (sp?) circumstances because for instance they were trying to live on the diminishing income from investments that had been divided over several generations, would "eke out" their meager income by taking in washing or making cut-paper greeting cards. But apparently the entrepreneurial spirit is gone and people no longer look for ways to supplement inadequate incomes, they just figure ways to cut back, live on less, don't go to the dentist. They "make do" or "barely scrape by", and so "eke out" is clued in the puzzles these days. The old meaning is as extinct as the Delta Smelt.

Very fun puzzle, and fun writeup. Welcome back, Rex.

George Barany 3:56 PM  

Having never heard or read the specific term "LISTICLE," I typed it into Google, and the following came up immediately (i.e., on the main search page, without requiring any further clicking):

an article on the Internet presented in the form of a numbered or bullet-pointed list. "a recent BuzzFeed listicle called “21 Pictures That Will Restore Your Faith in Humanity” has attracted more than 13 million views

Isn't it interesting that the specific example chosen by google is identical to the example @Joel Fagliano and @Will Shortz have chosen for their clue?

Malsdemare 4:03 PM  

@GeezerJack. In some of the small upscale burbs outside Philly city, there are what pretend to be bars but are really trendy beer stores. They sell lots of designer beers in six and twelve packs and will have a table or two in a corner. If you ask, you might even be able to order a sandwish which someone will run home to make. Where there's a will, there's a way, or something like that. And the beers are breathtakingly expensive.

Masked and Anonymous 4:15 PM  

Yo, @009. U picked a primo puz, to come back home for. Booze! Probly not as many U's as you'da hoped for, tho.

Top ten -ICLErs: [answers later on]

1. Article that is just an embarrassin physical exam (yo, @AliasZ)
2. Article that comes out on Father's Day
3. Article that was unmercifully edited down to bare bones
4. Article that is continued next month
5. Article where the author can do no wrong
6. Article about a buncha Wrigley Field losers
7. Article with Scarlett Johansson in a sorta bathing suit that gets continued next month
8. Article by Republicans about what they like about Obamacare?
------- line of total desperation -------------
9. Arm with suckers on it, emerging from farm building??
10. Rickles predecessor??

M&A (clutchin desperately at 3 lonely lil U's)

**gruntz gruntz gruntz***

Anonymous 4:52 PM  

I don't know what the issue is with LISTICLE - It's simply an article from which the art has been replaced by a mere list. Just as the evening news hour has been changed to the evening [reading twitter feeds and showing instagram posts] hour. Art replaced by volume, no skill involved. Very 21st century.

Young Turk 5:17 PM  

You tell 'em anon @ 4:52! When I was a kid, we had to write essays on slate. With chalk! and if that wasn't available, we just pricked our fingers and wrote in blood, on tree bark. That's what I call art!

Masked and Anonymous 5:27 PM  

Answers to ICLErs:
--------- line of total desperation -----------
9. BARNACLE (would also accept BARNICLE.), 10. PICLE (would also accept PICKLE. Or QUICKLE.)


Where'd @Lewis go? Just published a runtpuz (mostly) just for him, over at that other place …
Where'd @muse go? day-um. U leave town for a week, and the bill collectors go out to try and track yah down ...

Aketi 5:54 PM  

Foiled by the robbot checker this am before dashing off to work, but it's all good because it saved me from repeating what Leapfinger noticed before the robot checker ate my typos.

I thought that the ALOE and WET NAP should have been thrown into the first aid kit so you can clean out the wound before applying the IODINE.

So many L's today without a LLAMA. Has Lollapuzzoola ever ended up in a puzzle? If LEN LASSOS a LISTICLE at the LIQUOR STORE, WILL he then LAPSE into a LISP? If someone laughs because he LISPS, WILL he then LASH out?

It is hard to maintain SIXPACKABS if you drink SIX PACKs.

When I was a teen, my best friend had a GOAT who loved to eat gravel, the leaves from SCRUBOAKS, and the hair off her Shetland pony's tail. When her mother wasn't home she'd sometimes let the goat into the house. We'd also sometimes sneak a glass of wine after school and one day we caught the goat sipping from our wine glasses when he thought we weren't looking,

aging soprano 6:07 PM  

They all reach television and the internet eventually. But it is still exciting to see/hear really top notch live performances every so often. Yes, I am looking forward to it.

Nancy 6:13 PM  

@Bob Kerfuffle -- Hope you can make it to the tournament after all. @Tita says to be on the look-out for someone wearing a loud, "lucky" Hawaiian shirt.

@Z -- I love your answer to the shrinking tonic bottle. And for everyone out there having trouble buying liquor and wine -- and how can that possibly BE??? -- come to NYC. We call our stores LIQUOR STORES, they sell liquor and wine AND corkscrews, and I have a choice of at least 5 different stores within a radius of only 4 city blocks. Hic.

aging soprano 6:26 PM  

Hey AliasZ, you forgot LISTICLER: someone who writes or reads LISTICLES.
I love this word. It is so SEUSSICAL.

Anoa Bob 7:15 PM  

@m&a, I'm thinking it should be @8:58.

I thought there were some nice touches in this puzz. Liked the PIANOMAN & SCRUBOAK twin downers.

Is a WETNAP one where you have a WETDREAM?

The following is a bit nerdy, so you've been warned: This was a tale of two corners for me. The NE was good with the aforementioned delightful vertical duo. The SW was a different story. Maybe the "Q" right in the middle of the mix doomed that area to some iffy fill.

Several LCMs. were employed to get it done. A suffix, -IST, gets a 33% grid filling POC, and the GOAT and its HERD share a two-for-one helper-square POC. SOUR, as a verb, gets a 50% boost in fill power by being shifted to the past tense. And to top things off, a noun-to-verb groaner at ANTIQUER rounds out the LCM fest.

And then there's LISTICLE.

Teedmn 7:54 PM  

Nice Tuesday, average time for me. Writeovers at 9D with stage before LARVA and the WET one at 41A.

My employer had the brilliant idea of opening a branch in NYC so we could keep some inventory closer to our East Coast customers. It never paid off but for two years, as the Controller, I had to keep track of the myriad tax rates for all the NY counties plus CT and NJ who have reciprocity tax collection with NY. So TIOGA no prob here. (Dealing with Con Ed was very problematic!)

Back in middle school, there was a school sponsored dance with a live band. During a break in the music, one of the band members asked my friend to dance to the records they were playing during the break. To make conversation, my friend, a farm girl, asked the guy the name of their band. "Sweet Savage", he bellowed over the music. "Sweet SILAGE?", she queried disbelievingly. Still makes me laugh.

Thanks, JF and welcome back @Rex.

Leapfinger 8:49 PM  

@JTHurst, that was a potentially cryptic comment, but I'll take it with the best possible spin. Gracias, me gusta tambien. A good day for I THurst as well.

@M&Icle, shamefully, I only came up with CUBicle and TENTicle. In line with the day's theme (not that I recommend it), U could have a Scotch over ICICLE. For any who prefer Scotch and soda: Let's get fizzicle.

I was hoping @Bob Kerfuffle would say something I could disagree with, so I could respond with NABOB,... Whatever is holding you down, @BK, I hope it resolves in time for you to Lollapuzz with the best!

Elephant's Child 9:20 PM  

@aging soprano, your enjoyment shines through, and is contagious.

@Anoa Bob,

ANTIQUE, ANTIQUing, ANTIQUER: therefore it's a noun re-nouned (renounced?) after being verbalized. The groan-worthiness persists.

re the WETNAP, see 0824 comment. Short dreams only.

RooMonster 9:22 PM  

Hey there @M&A, you silliticle one you! @Lewis is on his own vacation, and @Lorens been here. Maybe you scared her away when you came back! Ha! Just kiddingicle. :-D


Bob Kerfuffle 10:12 PM  

@Leapfinger - I would loch to have been able to accommodate your wish for a dialectic pun, but I hope I can tam my inclination to brae about my wee problems. Just a little lame-Ness, which modern medicine may have rendered a Dundee-al. As I speak no Scottish, I would be rather Hogmanay-tied in Firth-er going Forth with discussion.

Seriously, looks like I can limp my way to LP8.

But if my shirts are lucky (I never said so), why do I always finish in the middle of the pack?

Henry 10:12 PM  

A fifth of a gallon is 757 ml, so you are missing one small swig, my friend. That spoonful might be all the medicine you need to mend yiur mien.

kitshef 10:51 PM  

Wot no @LMS?

Came here expecting to read fawning over LISTICLE, as @Rex seems to have a liking for newly coined words.

Normally not a fan of "common" phrases, but ONESEC is a both real and clued properly.

Only overwrite the inexplicable IPaD before IPOD. Thing is I thought about it first, then put down what is manifestly the wrong choice. I did the same recently with WIERD/WEIRD. Pause, think, fail.

Anonymous 11:46 PM  

That was Rex? So mellow...

Aketi 12:12 AM  

Spoiler alert, don't read the following if you don't want a slight hint to (what is now) today's puzzle. I wrote it backwards to make it more difficult to inadvertently read if you don't want the hint.

.segareveb cilohocla gnisahcrup ylerem naht ticilli erom si taht ytivitca fo tluser eht rof deraperp eB

Leapfinger 12:55 AM  

lol, Nay Bob, but ye've aoch a dab hand with yon .Scottish dialectical it nigh kilt me!! Tis the very divil's mark if an old hag is to be saying any wurrud to the contrary, and aye fraught with pure and unadulturrated mean-ness. Gude loch ta ye in yer puzzlin' endeavours at yon Lollypazooler! Break a leg!, um, mebbe not...

Anonymous 11:48 AM  

An ANTIQUER is someone who applies the antique look to a piece, much the same as "distressed" jeans are made--including holes that actually look threadbare. Ridiculous, but a hot seller. I suppose you could call one who shops for antiques an ANTIQUER, but that's an inferior clue. If I go to the Automall, am I a "carrer?"

Burma Shave 11:55 AM  


You can’t SCRUBOAK with ALOE,
A FIFTH of vodka from the LIQUORSTORE
will EASE those OILS away.


rondo 12:17 PM  

Gotta say this is one of the better Tues-puz opportunities ASOF late. Did it with EASE, but no real complaints, I must SAY.

I bought that AMOS Lee CD when it came out. Lotsa good stuff there.

Saw PIANOMAN Billy Joel onstage with Elton John at the MGM Grand in VEGAS years ago. One stop of the PIANOMeN tour. Fantastic. They sure can tickle those KEYS (no, not diarist yeah baby Alicia).

Figured that LISTICLE might be a shift (list) in one’s jockstrap.

Here’s to a drinking theme on a Tuesday. Making a trip to the LIQUORSTORE seems in order; I believe I WILL.

Ginger 6:11 PM  

Several years ago the good people of Washington State voted to get the state out of the liquor business. Then, they voted to get the state into the marijuana business. Go figure.

Hand up for not knowing LISTICLE and it seemed there were a lot of pop music references, however, I'll drink to the rest of the puzzle. Maybe a good cabernet ...

Anonymous 7:24 PM  

An Easy one for me, with no complaints. I usually cow and shudder when I see Fagliano's name I know him as a purposeful, pernicious, puzzle pro who delights in scrambling my mind. I didn't know he could also be gentle. Thanks, Joel.

A fun puzzle and learned a new word today. I'm going right out to buy a listicle. Hope they're not too expensive.

The Comiccon clue reminded me of being in a shuttle with a group of men on our way back to the parking garage. One older (than me)man asked aloud why the airport was so busy today in San Diego. No one said anything so I piped up and said "Ya know there are about 50 thousand extra people in town for the Comicon convention." And he bellowed back, "WHY DON'T THEY ALL GROW UP!" The rest of us roared.

Ron Diego, La Mesa, CA
(Where our compasses only have three points: North, South & East).

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