Young salamanders / WED 9-16-15 / E-tailer of homemade knickknacks / Psycho character who is actually corpse / Vehicle clearing no parking zone / Transportation competitor of Lyft

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Constructor: Joel Fagliano and Finn Vigeland

Relative difficulty: Challenging (for a Wed.)

THEME: mall story — familiar phrases containing words that are also the names of stores one might find in a mall... clued mall-i-ly?

Theme answers:
  • 20A: "Welcome to the mall! Make sure you don't ___!" ("MISS THE TARGET") (get it?)
  • 26A: "The food court offers much more than just your typical ___" ("SUBWAY FARE")
  • 48A: "Some people hate the next store, but I don't ___" ("MIND THE GAP")
  • 55A: "I don't really know the employees in the tech store anymore because there's been a lot of ___" ("APPLE TURNOVER") 
Word of the Day: AKON (55D: "I Wanna Love You" singer, 2006) —
Aliaume Damala Badara Akon Thiam (born April 16, 1973) (pronounced /ˈkɒn/), is an American rapper, songwriter, businessman, and record producer. He rose to prominence in 2004 following the release of "Locked Up", the first single from his debut album Trouble. // He has since founded two successful record labels, Konvict Muzik and Kon Live Distribution. His second album, Konvicted received three nominations for the Grammy Awards in two categories, Best Contemporary R&B Album for Konvicted album and Best Rap/Sung Collaboration for "Smack That" and "I Wanna Love You". // He is the first solo artist to hold both the number one and two spots simultaneously on the Billboard Hot 100 charts twice. Akon has had four songs certified as 3x platinum, three songs certified as 2x platinum, more than ten songs certified as 1x platinum and more than ten songs certified as gold in digital sales. Akon has sung songs in other languages including Tamil, Hindi, and Spanish. He was listed by the Guinness Book of World Records as the #1 selling artist for master ringtones in the world. // Akon often provides vocals as a featured artist and is currently credited with over 300 guest appearances and more than 35 Billboard Hot 100 songs. He has worked with numerous performers such as Michael Jackson, Eminem, Snoop Dogg, Whitney Houston, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, and Gwen Stefani. He has had five Grammy Awards nominations and has produced songs for artists such as Lady Gaga, Colby O'Donis, Kardinal Offishall, Leona Lewis, and T-Pain. Forbes ranked Akon 80th (Power Rank) in Forbes Celebrity 100 in 2010 and 5th in 40 Most Powerful Celebrities in Africa list, in 2011. Billboard ranked Akon No. 6 on the list of Top Digital Songs Artists of the decade. (wikipedia)
I feel like this video was the inspiration for this whole puzzle—I really want to believe that it was:

• • •

Groany, but certainly well done. It's not clued to Wednesday—took me nearly twice my Wednesday time, so I have no idea what was going on. Seemed like a lot of effort to make every clue (or, you know, most of them) cutesy or ambiguous or hip or all of the above, and so solving was a grind. But the basic theme concept—a very old-fashioned little theme-clue story concept—is solid. I've never been in a mall Target, but I'm sure they exist.

There were a lot of things I didn't know or didn't know well, or clues that were hard for me to grasp.

  • 1A: Fancy wheels, familiarly (BENZ) — I had LIMO
  • 3D: "Psycho" character who is (spoiler alert!) actually a corpse (NORMA BATES) — I've seen this movie dozens of times. I watch it every Halloween. I had no idea NormaN's mom had a name. WTF?
  •  22D: A lot of rich people? (ESTATE) — a very good, but very tough, clue.
  • 6D: Some (A BIT OF) — hard to pick up *and* crappy. Not my fav combo.
  • 11D: Tobaccoless smoke, informally (ECIG) — ugh. Wanted CHAW. Couldn't get the NE to work at all because [Commotion] was also not bringing up SCENE, and I somehow put MOUSSE in at 10D: Soup or dessert (COURSE). Total mess up there. Also E-CIG is dumb all around. One of the no-go E-words for me. See E-CASH, E-NOTE, E-tailer (!?), etc. 
  • 31D: Vehicle clearing a no-parking zone (TOW CAR) — I literally have never heard of this thing. Where I come from, we have tow trucks. I also couldn't figure out what "clearing" meant, so yikes. 
  • 35D: Record holder (ARCHIVE) — ambiguous. Tough.
  • 15A: Certain quatrain rhyme scheme (ABAA) — "sub-optimal" would be kind. Also, you just kind of have to guess at As and Bs. Yuck. 
  • 65A: Woman's name that sounds like its first two letters (EVIE) — Yeah. OK. But EDIE, though...
  • 59D: Old World language (ERSE) — aw, c'mon, guys. ERSE? Smh. See also EFTS.
  • 63D: 2015 Melissa McCarthy comedy ("SPY") — contemporary clue. Nice. But a huge know-it-or-you-don't, i.e. people who know the word SPY (i.e. all of us) won't necessarily know the movie. But the movie was a huge hit. Fair. Good, even. But again, it added to potential toughness.
  • 58D: Transportation competitor of Lyft (UBER) — with all this tough cluing, I have no idea why "Transportation" was added to this clue. Totally unnecessary. [Lyft competitor] — pow, done. "Transportation" is awkward and vague and, I think, superfluous. You might've done something with "cab alternative," but...
  • 7D: Bygone game show filmed in a moving vehicle ("CASH CAB") — I have heard of this and it still took a number of crosses for me to figure it out. Lord help you if you've never heard of it. "Bygone"!
You have to really *want* to put AKON in this puzzle. That choice, I do not understand. But these crazy kids, who knows what they'll do ...

ETA BETA THETA ... goodbye.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

P.S. check out the little co-constructor bro-hug at 1-Across in today's Mini ... (Mini constructor: Joel. answer at 1-Across: FINN)

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


jae 12:09 AM  

Medium- tough for me.  Started out with Bmws which ZWEI corrected and also had CASHCAr before CAB.  I agree with @Rex about the cluing and then there are the cross referenced Greek letters. 

TOWCAR sounds odd.

ETSY is a gimme if you are married to a person whose Pinterest board comes up in the top five when you Google "succulent window boxes and containers".

DONNIE is currently in "Blue Bloods" which is one of the better shows on network TV.

I realize the ETA CHOC HPS line isn't pretty but the rest was mostly smooth and the theme was cute and just fine for a Wed.  Liked it.

Z 12:18 AM  

Of course NORMA BATES named her son after herself. Makes perfect creepy sense. Tried "the mother" first. Fortunately, it was too short. Never saw AKON or SPY and finished in a typicalish Wednesday time.

John Child 12:29 AM  

I rather liked this - A few gluey bits of -ese, but the spare theme allowed for the nice longer downs like Mother Bates and ARCHIVE. CUZCO was fun but started as Andes, so overwrite there.

TOW CAR would have been better clued to the notion of pulling a trailer, IMO. {It pulls a camper} maybe.

Played a little bit easier than my average for Wednesday even though I'm an older solver...

jp flanigan 12:34 AM  

Took me waaaaaay too long for a wednesday. I immediately thought of CASHCAB because it was the only show i could think of that happened in a car, but i dismissed it because there was NO way it was bygone...oops. I also never heard of a towcar (auto correct just changed that to toucher btw). It seems that i'm full of complaints today, but CHOC somehow really bothered me. I don't normally get too upset over abbreviations (as long as it's a readily used abbreviation), but CHOC just seems lazy.

I did enjoy the theme.

George Barany 12:46 AM  

So, here I am solving the puzzle at home, watching @Stephen Colbert interview APPLE CEO @Tim Cook. Our local mall, called Rosedale [not to be confused with Southdale, the first indoor mall ever, nor Mondale, a former Senator, Vice President, and Presidential candidate] has an APPLE store, as well as a GAP, but the nearest TARGET has its own venue, while SUBWAY is in a smaller strip mall. And of course, soon-to-retire local treasure Garrison Keillor hosts "The Prairie Home Companion" radio program from the FITZGERALD Theater in Saint Paul [not Saint John or Saint George, and certainly not Saint Ringo]. Fun stuff!

With CASHCAB and UBER and TOWCAR, not to mention the Greek letter rhyme theme ETA, BETA, THETA [come to think of it, @Rex did mention it], I do have some reservations ... but the one that bothers me most is the German two (ZWEI) versus PART_TWO in the fill. Correction, speaking as a chemist, the clue for ION, viz "What's A_BIT_OF a shock to a chemist" ... sorry, that's trying too hard and (in addition to the dupe) isn't even accurate.

But in the end, I suppose all's FARE in love and crossword puzzles ... congratulations to @Joel Fagliano and @Finn Vigeland.

Anonymous 12:52 AM  

Target is Target, not Target Emporium or Target Crapfest. Subway is Subway, not Subway Eatery Subway Delicatessen. The Gap similarly is The Gap, not Gap. An Apple Store is an Apple Store, not an Apple. The Store is part of the damned name.

Da Bears 1:06 AM  

@Rex, more and more your critiques are based on who the constructor is instead of what the puzzle is. Sad. Very sad.

chefwen 1:13 AM  

After reading the bio on AKON I have no idea how I've made it this far without hearing about him. I must be living in a fog. So I did finish with one error cuz I had sEEDY instead of NEEDY. Dang!

While I was working this I kept saying to myself "Hoo Boy @OISK is going to hate this one" I, on the other hand loved it. Esp. SUBWAY FARE and MIND THE GAP.

Elaine2 2:10 AM  

I didn't think the theme was so well done. Theme entries 1 and 3 were pretty good, but "SUBWAY FARE", while actually being a thing. didn't really work for me in the context, and the same for "APPLE TURNOVER" (you don't have a lot of "apple turnover," you have a lot of "apple turnoverS" -- sentence doesn't really work...)

I didn't know Norman Bates' mother's name either....Totally agree with Rex about "TOW CAR" (what?), the random rhyme scheme (ABAA?), and "CashCab?"

But, it was an OK solve overall.

Oh, BTW, Rex. "CHAW" couldn't be "Tobaccoless smoke" (11D) -- a CHAW is smokeless tobacco...

Happy Wednesday, everyone.

Anonymous 2:18 AM  

It certainly was ironic that HP was an answer on the day they announced up to 30k layoffs. Yikes!

Charles Flaster 4:24 AM  

Found it very straightforward but never changed sEEDY to NEEDY.
Never heard of CAREERIST or ETSY.
Liked many clues---ETA BETA THETA misdirect,ESTATE, EVIE, and CASH CAB was a good piece of the human condition.
I never liked CHOC as a short form.
One write over that was a bit ironic-- FITZGERALD for FaTs waller.
Thanks JF and FV.

Anonymous 5:19 AM  

CHAW, of course, is smokeless tobacco.

Music man 6:17 AM  

I was really expecting a much harsher write up for this one...

Hungry Mother 7:09 AM  

Had "SEEDY" instead of "NEEDY".

Loren Muse Smith 7:14 AM  

Rex – I had "limo," too, so an awkward "Momma Bates" first.

Also "toddy" before COCOA.

Don't know why, but this clicked with me easily as soon as I got an early APPLE TURNOVER. Same thought as Rex on TARGET, but I think I know of a mall in Raleigh that has one.

I got a bit of a kick out of the three cross-referenced Greek letters. In for a penny, in for a pound, huh?

I figured ECIG would get a frown. I do hear people say it, though. SHINE for SCENE (and RAINS for RUINS) could’ve avoided that, but I dunno – I’m open to these new e-words.

Rex – good call on "Edie" working, too. Take out the "woman" in the clue and Garfield's dog friend and Andy's son work, too. Never saw that before.

I liked SPY right under SNOOPS. Cool.

Nice puzzle, guys.

elitza 7:18 AM  

Maybe the constructor is from my town, where the only Target for... something like fifty or sixty miles in any direction is in the mall.

Tough Weds but got there in the end.

joho 7:40 AM  

Who knew mall stores could spark such an interesting and really fun theme? Joel and Finn, that's who!

Hands down the clue, "A lot of rich people people" goes into the Clue Writing Hall Of Fame.

Please don't drag me to the mall! But give me a fresh puzzle like this any day of the week!

Z 7:48 AM  

@anon2:18 - Tempting to call it the "Fiorina Effect," but she's been gone from there for a decade.

I googled "TOWCAR" and got a lot of British looking hits. Throwing the flag. As if German numbers and Greek letters aren't bad enough, Britishisms are a line too far.

@chefwen - I, too, thought of @OISK as I solved.

@George Barany - That the first fully enclosed mall was built in Edina ( or is that e-dina) seems like crosswordese trivia one should know.

Hartley70 7:57 AM  

The NE held me up because I was committed to momMABATES. Once I worked it out and tossed pdf for BCC, I saw that I was finished in my usual Wednesday time. It was a surprise because I thought this was a tough Wednesday without much dreck.

My toeholds were CASHCAB, great show/bring it back, and AKON, ARTDECO, and DONNIE of "Donnie Loves Jenny", worst show/you can skip it. I found the remainder of the answers interesting. This puzzle felt smooth and fun. I didn't tap the constructor info icon until I was finished and I wasn't a bit surprised to see their names!

Gubdude 7:58 AM  

Definitely played tough for me. Cluing was vague or misleading but not in a bad way. Had to think a bit more than usual on a Wednesday.

@Loren Muse Smith: I had the same limo/mommabates moment you had.

I loved CASHCAB when it was on. The New York one, not the short lived Chicago version.

I had about the bottom 2/3 of the puzzle done but the top 1/3 or so took me much longer to figure out.

NCA President 8:10 AM  

I liked the puzzle well enough. The cluing was inconsistent, and overall kinda gratuitous (as Rex pointed out), so some parts were pretty challenging. Not that I intentionally keep track of this stuff, but the new NYT applet on the site automatically keeps track of your average...and today I was over my average by a lot. I guess I have a new average now...

TARGETS are only found in strip malls, but I was thinking more enclosed malls. So initially the first themer made no sense.

TOWCAR? Is that what they call a car with a hitch on the back tow other cars?

CHOC? Do you use that on a blac board?

Where I come from "EVIE" is pronounced with a short E sound. There was a Cnristian inspirational singer in the 70s/80s named Evie Tournquist. I believe she pronounced it with a short E. Isn't EVIE short of Evelyn?

And CAREERIST seems made up to me.

I had vape before ECIG.

Anonymous 8:18 AM  

Wow Rex: you are really cranky. I thought this was a brilliant, funny and pretty contemporary, if not hip, puzzle. Harder than a usual Wednesday but well worth the effort.
What's wrong with ecig? I hear it all the time.

TaxGuy 8:33 AM  

I liked this. Played medium for me.. Tough, but fair clues. Minimal junk only GAAAA is with TOWCAR. never ever heard of such. It's a TOWtruck.

L 8:48 AM  

DNF...on a Wednesday. Sad for me.
The ETA, BETA, THETA thing was simply AWFUL. I basically gave up at that point.

George Barany 8:49 AM  

Another eerie coincidence: today's New York Times announces the death of SUBWAY's cofounder, Fred DeLuca. Well worth reading, including the deft way the obituary handles the Jared Fogle scandal, and describes "aggressive, sometimes questionable, tactics ..." that fueled the franchise's growth

r.alphbunker 8:55 AM  

Puzzle report

Finished with sEEDY for {Down-and-out} instead of NEEDY giving AKOs for the rapper. Is AKON a variation on "a convict?"

The puzzle report now lists the date of the first occurrence of each clue in a NYT puzzle dating back to 1942 along with the clue for the answer when it first appeared. A tip of the hat to David Steinberg for spearheading the PreShortzian project.

A couple of notable clues/answers debuts:

11/28/1976: HPS {Plato's precursor} Is this an abbreviation of Hippocrates? (There are some very creative abbreviations in preshortzian puzzles!)

07/05/1942: ERS {Vicia orobus} (Vicia orobus is some kind of plant, but ERS?)

1/17/1988: APPLETURNOVER {New York City sales?} The puzzle that this was in
featured pastry puns. Perhaps the chefs among us might enjoy perusing it. Sorry @M&A, no cinnamon puns.

Tita 8:55 AM  

Oh the irony of UBER and Lyft in the grid with CASHCAB.
And yet another jab by the NYT at the Republican candidates, with HPS in there the day after yet another huge layoff.

I don't really like tons of product placements in my puzzle, so I was annoyed during the solve, but this is a well done theme.

Lots of those 1%ers' ESTATEs will be needing TURRETs once the UBER and Lyft drivers realize the only ones making a living at this racket are the founders. I bet they all have more then TWOCAR garages...

Some really creative clueing.
Thanks Mr. F and Mr. V.

OxfordBleu 9:01 AM  

So it's either too hip and modern or it's too old fashioned, or it's too ephemeral. Make up your mind, @Rex. I used to find your blog entertaining, now it's just whiny. I don't recall the last time you had a crossword you actually enjoyed. Maybe it's time to stop and do something else.
E-cigarettes are perfectly reasonable things in modern lingo, and are likely abbreviated. I wanted VAPE, but CHAW is smokeless tobacco, not vice-versa.
You can't complain that NYT crosswords are getting too old time and won't attract new solvers, and then turn around days later because you hate something that has some fresh content, just because you are too cool to go to a mall Target.

Nancy 9:28 AM  

I'm still on Bermuda time, so I'm posting early-ish today. For me, this was a nice "welcome home" present -- breezy and playful, with no arcane drivel. Even the one name I didn't know, NORMA BATES, was fun and funny, once it came in. (I had MOMMA BATES first.) I found the puzzle pretty easy, but not boringly easy, if you see what I mean.

The Times costs $9 per issue in Bermuda (!), so I only ordered last Friday's. I'm going back over the past 12 days to see what I missed, puzzle-wise. I did have yesterday's paper delivered to my apartment and I did yesterday's puzzle before going to bed. But it was too late, I was too tired, and the puzzle was much too blah to comment yesterday. Missed you all as I swam in the Atlantic, much rougher than the Caribbean, doing my very best not to drown. Didn't.

chefbea 9:37 AM  

Fun Mall puzzle and so much food...subway, cocoa, choc. Of course, did not know Akon...never heard of him

chefbea 9:40 AM  

Forgot to mention apple turnover with the food

thfenn 9:46 AM  

I liked it. Started off with CHILE over CUZCO. MOTHERDEAR, MOMMYDEAR, LORNABATES all sent me down the wrong road, had no idea she was NORMA. Didn't get to CASHCAB until I ignored 'bygone' which it isn't. Didn't mind TOWCAR as I think the vehicle clearing the no parking zone is the car being towed (what's the tow truck towing? a tow car.) - at least that's how I got to it. Am still not very good at this - finishing a tough wednesday or a thursday without a reveal, a check, a peak at this column, or some other cheat still gives me a bit of a rush, and ends up being a half hour well spent.

ArtO 9:49 AM  

Really tough cluing for Wednesday. What is a HATE-WATCH? Was trying to think of a name for fancy rims until I put in Z for S in 4 down which led to BENZ. Seems to me a tow(ed)car would be the "vehicle clearing a no-parking zone."

quilter1 9:50 AM  

We have a couple of TARGETs in malls here and a few free standing. I had Normansmom before crosses corrected me. I liked the theme and the puzzle. Rated medium for me.

Cassieopia 10:03 AM  

I had NORMAnsmom which I was pretty proud of even if it wasn't right. My favorite was ARCHIVE followed closely by having ESTATE and TURRET next to each other. I'm 57 and found the e-answers gimmes (ECIG, ETSY, HPS, BANNERADS) but struggled with CASHCAr, never heard of it. The only disappointment was TOWCAR. Loved this puzzle and have a new personal best Wednesday time!

Z 10:09 AM  

@ArtO - Lots of my younger, millennial type, friends gathered together to HATE-watch the first Republican debates. Drinking games and mocking were on the agenda. Sadly for the Republican Party is that many of these people are relatively conservative on foreign policy and fiscal issues, but they have absolutely no tolerance for anything that even hints at racism, sexism, or homophobia, so there is not a single candidate in the 17 who will ever get their votes.

Carola 10:11 AM  

Agree on "challenging": besides the overall tough cluing, the NE corner gave me fits, as I couldn't get "toddy" out of my mind (hi, @loren) nor could I see the easy EAST for the jet stream heading. Yeah, EAST, except during polar vortex days when it brings icy winds from Canada directly south into our shivering state. Also, who says "THE" TARGET? Finally seeing SCENE cleared things up.
Favorite themer: MIND THE GAP.
Favorite entry commenting on itself: EDGY, on the edge.

I knew NORMA of last week - my daughter's wife teaches and writes about Hitchcock and just published an article on "Psycho."

chefbea 10:41 AM  

@NCApresident..when I lived in Ct. there was a target in a mall in Stamford. Here in Wilmington the Target is in a strip mall

Joseph Michael 10:50 AM  

This was A BIT OF a challenge but in a good way. Don't remember CASH CAB, don't know what a HATE watch is, never heard of AKON, never called a Mercedes a BENZ, and never saw a TOWCAR only a towtruck.

Liked the wordplay in the theme, though, especially APPLE TURNOVER, and the misdirection in a lot of the cluing, such as that for ESTATE and POPE.

Wanted "Mother" BATES, though it wouldn't fit and couldn't conceive of Norman calling his mother "momma," so was glad when NORMA finally showed herself.

Hated CAREERIST (has anyone ever actually said that?), but enjoyed the puzzle overall. Hope this is the beginning of many collaborations for Joel and Finn.

Andrew Heinegg 10:56 AM  

The blog today is fascinating. Some think Rex is too hard on the puzzle. Others think he is giving it a pass because of the constructor names. Some complain that Rex is too fussy about answers that are too far back in time or too remote although current. All of this leads me to think that he is right on the money with today's puzzle, which was quite good and well constructed. I thought it was perfectly suited for a Wednesday. If I have a complaint, it is that the theme answers are not 'groany' enough.

mathgent 11:00 AM  

Like some others I whiffed on AKON, putting in SEEDY. I'll remember his name because of the marvelous video that Rex posted.

I was thinking the other day about the number of words and phrases I've learned exclusively from crosswords. There are quite a few. ETSY is one of them. It's been in the puzzle a few times over recent months, @Charles Flaster.

I hadn't heard the term "hate-watch" before. I guess it means a show you watch even though you hate it in some way. Something like a guilty pleasure. I watch Hawaii 5-0 even though I recognize how schlocky it is.

Good puzzle.

jberg 11:03 AM  

I got to 36A before I'd figured out the theme, so I confidently wrote in SUndAY FARE, as in a roast. Seemed a little odd, but I went on, and didn't think to come back to it until I finally realized that NORMA nATES didn't make much sense. So that slowed me down, the rest not so much.

I've heard the car called a 'merc,' but not a BENZ, but I don't trust my own experience on that one. TOW CAR, though, is just not right. This is the third Wednesday of the month, so they were out to tow cars in front of my house -- so it could have been clued 'how to clear a no-parking zone,' but the towing is definitely done by trucks (called that even when they don't actually tow, but pull the offending vehicle onto a flatbed).

And it's a specialized gripe, I guess, but to ENGRAVE is not to etch. To etch, you paint an acid-resist on the plate, then dunk to plate in acid to eat away whatever is not covered by the resist. To ENGRAVE, you actually scrape into the surface of the plate with a hard tool.

But those are just gripes. I liked the puzzle, and the writeup!

@NCA President, a CAREERIST is someone more concerned with climbing that ladder than with being ethical. I bet you'll find it to be one of those words that pops up all over once you know it.

jberg 11:07 AM  

@whirred whacks from yesterday -- yeah, I was surprised that I didn't know the song myself. I think I got some other song in my mind that blocked it.

Hera 11:16 AM  

Eta does not rhyme with theta nor with beta.

AliasZ 11:31 AM  

I enjoyed the theme, a clever repurposing of tired store names into common phrases. My favorite: SUBWAY FARE.

In the fill, what jumped out at me was CAREERIST. How does one even use this word in a sentence? "Tom had six different careers in his brief professional life. You may call him a CAREERIST." "Dick is a headhunter responsible for matching the right people to the right careers. He is a CAREERIST." "Harry is a CAREERIST politician." I don't think any of these work.

The other thing that jumped out at me is the not one, but two duplications in clues and/or entries, as @GB so correctly pointed out: ZWEI clued as "Two, in German" and the entry PART TWO. Thus "two" actually appears three times, once in Ger. and twice in Eng. Then there is A BIT OF as both an entry and a clue. Is this following the spirit or letter of the law of NYT crosswords?

Then there was TOW CAR which should have been TOW truck, and E-CIG which should be retired to the gated community where all other E-words reside. Gated, so they cannot escape and infest crossword databases. Other than that, the fill was clean and pleasant for me, for which I thank Joel and Finn. Good going, guys!

I could select music from my vast collection of Deutsche Grammophon ARCHIVe recordings, but let me instead offer this lovely aria from the opera buffa "Le nozze di Figaro" by Mozart: "DOVE sono" sung here by Gundula Janowitz.

"Where are they, the beautiful moments
Of sweetness and pleasure?
Where have they gone,
Those vows of a deceiving tongue?"

Lewis 11:32 AM  

@nancy -- "breezy and playful" -- nailed it.
@loren -- IVY works too, as well as the last name of James, the author of "A Death in the Family".

This puzzle had a fresh fun feel. The cluing didn't feel forced to me; and it felt fair. Great clues for POPE and ESTATE. The fill is relatively clean, though not pristine. EAST is east and a mini theme of words starting with E (14). A high quality solving experience -- bravo, gentlemen! Note to constructors: Pairing with Joel is probably a pretty good guarantee of NYT publication...

old timer 11:39 AM  

Technically a DNF for me, because I forgot to change "zeta" to BETA, thus leaving me with "CashCaz". I've heard of CASHCAB, too.

I thought this was a first rate puzzle, which had me grinning. ZWEI, which almost everyone should know, made BENZ and therefore NORMABATES obvious. I thought APPLETURNOVER was just fine. Any bakery will sell you one, and you'd have to be pretty hungry to have more than one. ECIG? Very much an issue in a lot of localities.

What I thought folks might complain about is MINDTHEGAP. A phrase instantly familiar to anyone who has ridden London's Underground. But totally unfamiliar to anyone else. We Rexites must be a well-travelled group.

I finished in the NE, where I had confidently written in "vape" where ECIG belongs. And had not thought of COCOA or RUINS, so TARGET was not obvious. In part because they are almost never *inside* a mall, though you may well find a Target adjacent to a mall and on mall property. Where I live, one Target is among a collection of stores that includes a Costco and a BevMo and Office Despot. But a new one just opened *at* one of the malls, in a space where two different department stores had been. You can walk right in from the Mall itself.

GeezerJackYale48 11:40 AM  

Read 32 comments before someone besides me (you, ArtO) questioned "hate-watch". Never heard of it and it sounds terrible.

I also thought I remembered Norman addressing his "Mommy" during the movie, so that gave me grief for a while. And of course there are tow trucks - no tow cars, please.

Guess I had better stop rereading, because the more I look the more ere, ers, choc, akos, tee, ate a piece a pi, etc I see. Goodbye.

Honey Crisp 11:51 AM  

@Elaine2 0210

"Boy, did I have a lot of pie!" or "Boy, did I ever have a lot of cake!" sounds perfectly normal to me. Why should 'a lot of APPLE_TURNOVER' be singularly different?

PuzzleMom 11:51 AM  

This was a DNF for me and I found both cluing and answers really hard. Never heard of Cashcab, Towcar, Erde, NormaBates; Careerist and the whole upper left took me forever because I had CCs for one down and an S where the Z should be in Zwei. I'm a huge fan of House but ERs literally never occurred to me, I don't connect House with the ER at all, and, while I don't watch "Grey's Anatomy" I would have thought the locale was a morgue. Silly me. I wanted Slop to be oats or corn, so gave up on the lower right corner. Aaarrrgh!

Blue Stater 11:54 AM  

Just awful. Awful. Awful. Awful.

Z 12:22 PM  

Wow. People must have great work environments and fields to have never run across CAREERIST before. The Wikipedia article is pretty good, but the short version is a CAREERIST is someone more interested in getting ahead than doing the right thing, or even what is best for the organization.

Masked and Anonymous 12:23 PM  

Nice, wide-open 74-word grid, with long extra-credit fillins flyin in both directions: CARREERIST, BANNERADS, PARTTWO, ARTDECO, NORMABATES, FITZGERALD, ENGRAVE, CASHCAB. Oh, and also ESCAPED and ARCHIVE. Not many U's in that there list, tho.

4 U's in the puz, so at least the usual average amount. CUZCO is a nice vessel for a U, plus two themers had a U. Speaking of theme, it was the easiest part of the puzzle to figure out. Like others have mentioned, this WedPuz had kinda feisty clues, to make up for the fairly transparent themers. General overall effect: fun, in a different feelin sorta way. Different is always good.

@r.alph: U R correct, in your subtle call for a cinnamon-roll-related puz theme. Will get to work on that little puppy, even as we speak.

@009: SUPERB write-up!! Zillions of bullets! Yessss. More of that, please. And don't pay no attention to them people wonderin why U like one puz and then come down brutally hard on the next one. Schizophrenia has buckets o'entertainment value. Check out Donald Trump, fer instance.

ECIG spelled backwards is GICE. This is the most useful thing that can be done with an ECIG.

"Poor Little Bard Lamb Who Has Lost its Way -- A BAA, A BAA, A BAA…"


RAD2626 12:24 PM  

Thought Rex review fair and actually pretty positive. Disappointed I whiffed on ACOs/sEEDY. Glad others did as well. CHip for CHOC for A BIT, and do not think TOW CAR is acceptable. Liked the puzzle and the theme. Good catch on Mini-shout out.

Bird 12:36 PM  

I cringed at TOWCAR and almost stopped but I wanted to get all the themers.

55A doesn't work because it s/b "turnover at Apple"

Not happy with this one

Happy Humpday

Martel Moopsbane 12:41 PM  

@Z, if you don't like the Britishism of TOWCAR (awful answer!), why no hate for the equally British MINDTHEGAP?

Agree with chefbea, there is also a TARGET in an enclosed mall in Trumbull, CT.

edmcan 1:12 PM  

Belaboured and confusing cluing. I'm sure the constructors were having a ball. Too much for a Wednesday.

The Rhino 1:31 PM  

TOW CAR? No. Otherwise I liked this one a lot.

@George Barany: My father lives in Roseville. His name is Doug. Please, say 'hi' to him for me.

Alan 1:40 PM  

Hand up for sEEDY/never heard of (or made note of anyway) AKON. so DNF.

Slowest Wednesday in quite some time here.

A lot of the same hangups as everyone else. Part of the reason to hate HATE-watch, which I'm not hip enough to be familiar with, is the "hate" in the theme clue "Some people HATE the next store, but I don't ___"

the redanman 1:41 PM  

Tedious for its own sake, clues and answers. What the internet has wrought. Meh & ugh. Finished, no errors, no sour grapes, just an annoying puzzle.

linda d 1:49 PM  

Hate watch - my edition of paper has two hyphens showing before watch. (One may just be a flaw in the newsprint.) So I still don't get hate watch, particularly when crossed with an often varied rhyme scheme. I ended with abab and hbte, which does pop up with Google.

Charley 1:52 PM  

I know tow truck. Never heard of a tow car. Never heard of T-Boned for a crash. Never heard of Cash Cab.

Martin 1:53 PM  

I didn't think the cluing was too tough for a Wednesday, and I did like the theme. There's a Target in my local mall so I didn't have that problem. The fill was really nice with the exception of TOWCAR, ABAA, and the ETA/BETA/THETA glob. I really don't like indefinite clues.

Teedmn 2:04 PM  

Wednesday? I don't think so. DNF at 7D, never heard of the show and when I saw 22A, I started my Greek alphabet run with zETA so 21D was correct but 34A wasn't. And the clue for 7D made it guessable, too. Drat.

CAREERman, stop watch, wanting some kind of nut at 24A instead of CHOC, EllE before EVIE, I'm tellin' you, my self esteem is in RUINS. I seem to have found THE GAP in my MIND!

Thanks for the unusually challenging Wednesday, JF and FV.

Roo Monster 2:15 PM  

Hey All !
Fun, punny WedsPuz. Agree with the harder-than-normal rating. Got hung up in a few places. This puz came in waves for me. Lots of staring at white space, then a flurry of answers, followed by staring again. Odd.

Many misdirects/writeovers:
mags-> BENZ
pEn-> TEE
Emma-> EVIE
and spelled sWie!->ZWEI
so puz was evading me for a bit.

But, overall, enjoyable. Do agree with most of Rex's gripes, though. At least it didn't MISS THE TARGET!

ETA, BETA, THETA, it's all Greek to me!

Hartley70 3:32 PM  

@MartelMoopsbane, how I love that name! Thanks for the TARGET info. Who knew?

Martel Moopsbane 4:21 PM  

I'm trying to come up with a clue for which CHOC would be an acceptable answer. Best I can do is "Heavenly coffee, without the knuts."

Anyone else?

quilter1 4:22 PM  

@old guy. I used to work for an office despot but didn't know I could find him at the mall.

mac 4:44 PM  

Tough but fun Wednesday. I agree with Rex's critique.

@Martel Moopsbane: the Trumbull Target used to be in a separate building, then was moved to the mall
a couple of years ago.

chefwen 5:24 PM  

R.ralphbunker - I would have loved doing that puzzle. Thanks for the link. Now I'm inspired to head into the kitchen and whip up some fabulous desserts. Calories included!

Anoa Bob 5:34 PM  

Never heard MINDTHEGAP before. Uncle Google tells me it's a Briticism. Further sleuthing turned up a recent "Did Beyoncé Photoshop her thigh gap" flap.

Not sure why THEGAP is clued as next in the clue "Some people hate the next store, but I don't mind___". Seems a tad random.

Once owned a '68 Volvo 144---loved that car---that got TBONED by a '65 Buick Behemoth in a rain storm in Knoxville, TN. (Home of UTENN. NOT!) I came away mostly unscathed, but the Volvo was totaled. Got pulled to the junkyard by a TOWCAR. Not!

Bob Kerfuffle 6:08 PM  

Fine puzzle, but I am relieved to see I wasn't the only one who found it unusually difficult. I thought some of my problem came from having a particularly annoying day; I only got to sit down and do the puzzle after 5 PM.

Count me among those finishing SEEDY, not NEEDY.

Those who never heard of "HATE watch" must have missed the little flap when @Rex was quoted as "hate-solving" the NY Times crossword.

Today's theme reminded me of when I mentioned my vacation plans over at the runtpuz blog and @M&A re-parsed my destination as a visit to the cross-wordy Mall Orca. So funny, I'll go back again next week.

Which only leaves me to wonder at 29 A, what do young salamanders have to do with Electronic Fund Transfers? ;>)

anonymous 6:49 PM  

Misspelled "zwei" as "swei" which left me with "pins" for fancy wheels (which I rather liked) and a bit of a muddle in that corner. Trudged thru the rest cleanly in much slower than Wednesday time so I'm glad I was't alone in finding this difficult (for a Wednesday).

Brian W. Ogilvie 9:35 PM  

This wasn't that tough for me; I did it on a teaching morning without taking too much time from class prep. I hadn't heard of CASH CAB, though, and idiotically thought that zETA rhymed with ETA and THETA. I had no idea about AKON, but once I realized that "John or Paul, but not Ringo" wasn't POet (my first thought—harsh!) but POPE, the crosses got it for me. I agree that TOWCAR is an abomination.

Leapfinger 9:35 PM  

@Monsieur Martel le Bane des Moops

In your search for a valid CHOC, all I can suggest is what shows up in Position 3 in the A-D HOC. I think CHOC finally gave us an abbrev worse than GUAC.

Thought this was a fine and twisty challenge [for a Wednesday ;D], with a tight and clever theme, backed up through the grid with clues that make you think. The best themer was SUBWAY_FARE, because layered meanings, but APPLE_TURNOVER made me L, but not out OL.

Made about all the close-but-no-cigar errors already mentioned (except for some that @TEE DOVE into, she deserves a gold star), and also tried 'parT OF' for A_BIT_OF. 'Furor' for SCENE with 'vape' for ECIG made the NE the ugly corner. To date, had not heard of a TOWCAR, CAREERIST (as fully nuanced in today's comments), CASHCAB nor HATE-watch, yet I survived.

Can't quite believe @Rex got me to read the words 'Bone Thug-N-Harmony' and 'Kardinal Offishall' today, yet I survived that also. Taken all together, I think 55D opens up AKON of Warms.

Other drips and drabs:
*Like @GeorgeB, I was shocked by the clue for ION; chemists are more likely to get a charge than a shock therefrom. However, as mentioned above, I didn't get A BIT OF help from the repetition.
*'A lot of rich people?' was cute for ESTATE, but just remember that you not-so-rich folks get to leave an ESTATE when you shuffle off these mortal coils. Hope that doesn't coil anyone's toes.
*Which leads me to consider just how different ENGRAVE is from ENtomb.
*Liked ARCHIVE (more subtle than ARscallion), CUZCO and ART_DECO. Worried about political freedoms in New England when the advertising goes to BAN_NE_RADS. "Comes the Revolution...!!!"

If that was a bit over-the-top, chalk it up to a mild case of TURRET's Syndrome.

Thanks for the cool collab, JFFV!

Leapfinger 10:53 PM  

@NCAPrez, EVIE can be a diminutive form of Eve, also. Or it could be for the long-E Evelyn as the Brits pronounce it, as in Evelyn and Evelyn Waugh. (Laughable though that may be.)

@Nancy, glad to see you were not successful. In drowning.

Vancouver Nana 2:21 AM  

Hate watch has two definitions: 1) monitoring hate groups eg by Southern Poverty Law Center; looking for "hate speech" which maybe a threat to a community. 2) or watching a TV program you hate waiting for it to be cancelled. Loosely used as watching a movie you hate or going to a club you hope will close. Urban dictionary prefers the first definition.

Overall agree with what Rex said. Makes me feel not quite as hopeless when it comes to figuring out Wednesday puzzles!

Burma Shave 9:54 AM  


While eating my APPLETURNOVER, I paid my SUBWAYFARE,
then that NEEDY TRAMP NORMABATES sat on my lap.
Of COURSE,I HATE when she makes ABITOF a SCENE there,
saying, “You can’t MISSTHETARGET if you MINDTHEGAP.”


rondo 10:22 AM  

Well I certainly wouldn’t have known MINDTHEGAP if I hadn’t paid my SUBWAYFARE in London. Have all the other blog-posters been there, too? Or just blindly fill it in? Seems like there might have been more CROWing about that one.

I’ll BET A dollar with THE T.A. that I ETA APPLETURNOVER and had an ECIG, TUE, during his COURSE. (ABITOF HATE for most of those answers, and TOWCAR.) SLOP.

CASHCAB was a fun show. CAREERIST was not a fun word. A sheep lets out ABAA.

The FITZGERALD Theatre is just blocks away from me in DT St. Paul. Home of Prairie Home Companion.

This puz had its shortcomings, and I HATE malls, but I DOVE in and finished anyway.

spacecraft 12:31 PM  

I liked this one but I had two big problems with it: 1) What is a TOW CAR? I've never seen one. I've seen lots of tow TRUCKS, but never a TOWCAR. And 2) I get the other familiar phrases, but MINDTHEGAP?? That's supposed to be "familiar?" What does that even mean? Let's see, there's a scene in "Groundhog Day" when Phil steps off the curb into a water-filled pothole; should he have "minded the gap?" I for the life of me can't think of another way this phrase makes any sense at all. Perhaps Ned the Head should have said "MINDTHEGAP!" instead of "Hey, watch that first step; it's a doozie!" Me, I like the movie version better.

More WOEs: AKON, and SPY as clued. Oh, and HATE-watch? I don't get that one. You don't have to be on the lookout for that; it's all around us--unfortunately. Still, I thought the other themers were cute, and outside of the crutch ABAA the fill was fairly interesting. Yeah, NORMABATES would of course name her son Norman: what else? Perfectly inferable even though her name was never mentioned. B-.

Longbeachlee 2:24 PM  

Am I the only one who watched Bates Motel on A and E? Norman always calls his mother "Norma" to her constant chagrin.

William Heyman 2:51 PM  

I thought that Norma Bates was dead and Norman was talking to himself.

leftcoastTAM 5:26 PM  

Liked the puzzle, fun theme, good clues. Problems in the Minnesota area (my home state, where life was good). Didn't know HATE-watch and guessed wrong on the quatrain sequence. Should have had it via CAREERIST (not a fan of them), but saw it too late. Further west, at the motel, at first I thought I saw mOmMA BATES in the shower, but then realized it was NORMAn gussied up as NORMA.

All quite discomforting.

Anonymous 12:19 AM  

Busy day and did the puzzle at dinnertime. Loved the whole concept and really found it easy. Thank you Vancouver Nana for the Hate Watch thing. That "a" was the last letter I put in and it was a guess. I should have known because I donate to SPLC annually and believe they are the best thing since blueberry muffins.

Anyway, I said it was very Easy for me and maybe that's because I did the puzzle late in the day. Because of my age, my mornings are a bit foggy even with a cuppa caffeine.

Humping over Wednesday and expecting a tough Thursday. Ciao, whoever is still out there in Syndieland.

Ron Diego, La Mesa, CA (Where we only buy and wear LOVE Watches).

Blogger 9:59 PM  

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