Hindu festival of colors / THU 11-19-15 / 1946 creation originally intended to calculate ballistics tables / Pair on ketch / sibs sigs maybe / Zine distributors / Mario Puzo sequel / 2003 Lopez/Affleck flop / Christian Grey's specialty / Language akin to Tahitian

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Constructor: Andrew Zhou

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging

THEME: AUTOCOMPLETE (48A: Search engine feature ... or what you literally need to do to answer the six starred clues) — theme answers are missing their final parts, all of which are makes OR models of cars

Theme answers:
  • KATHIE LEE GIF(FORD) (20A: *TV celebrity who has owned both a clothing line and a wine brand) 
  • SOLAR P(LEXUS) (27A: *Never center in the abdomen that's strongly affected by a punch)
  • "HELP ME R(HONDA)" (30A: *1965 #1 Beach Boys hit)
  • BELON(G TO) (37A: *Have membership in)
  • STRING T(RIO) (42A: *Classical ensemble)
  • ANNO DO(MINI) (44A: *In the year of our Lord)
Word of the Day: HOLI (58A: Hindu festival of colors) —
Holi (pronunciation: /ˈhl/; Sanskrit: होली Holī) is a spring festival, also known as the festival of colours or the festival of love. It is an ancient Hindu religious festival which has become popular with non-Hindus in many parts of South Asia, as well as people of other communities outside Asia. // It is primarily observed in India, Nepal, and other regions of the world with significant populations of Hindus or people of Indian origin. In recent years the festival has spread to parts of Europe and North America as a spring celebration of love, frolic, and colours.
• • •

Gibberish in the grid is never Great, but this could've been a pretty decent puzzle if the theme execution had been consistent. All makes, no models—that's what it should've been. I was like "Oh, OK, Ford, Lexus, Honda, interesting ... and then ... GTO? Rio? What?" I was also like "EELED? What?" But that was a different kind of consternation. Concept is intriguing, but the execution just felt off because of the two models mixed in with all the makes. Also, all theme answers are weirdly crammed toward center of the grid, with all themers (except the revealer) appearing between the 5th and 10th row, inclusive. This isn't a flaw, exactly, but it seems like maybe a different grid design could've allowed some breathing room. Oddly, some of the cruddiest fill in the grid appears down where the theme pressures *aren't* that tight. ECARD alongside NOYES? ETES / ENTS / ASSES? ILE crossing HOLI? Probably should've been cleaner down there.

KATHIE LEE GIF(FORD) was tough for me, as the spelling of KATHIE is odd and I just ... don't think about her at all any more. I was thinking maybe Kathy Ireland or Katherine Heigl or something at first. I see now that the "wine" part of the clue was supposed to tip me off, but ... it didn't. Also not registering: EMILIO Barzini (24D: ___ Barzini, 'The Godfather" don). That could've been any Italian name. Is that character famous? Verdict: no. Here's how I know. Start googling EMILIO and check out the predictive searches. Here, allow me:

It's not til you get to [emilio barz...] that google offers up the right one. That's bananas. The only EMILIO I recognize on that entire list (above) is Estevez. EMILIO Aguinaldo was a Filipino revolutionary and first president of the Philippines. EMILIO Bonifacio is a utility infielder, most recently with the Chicago White Sox. EMILIO Barbarigo is a character in the Assassin's Creed video game universe. Thus concludes today's EMILIO lesson. I liked the (tough) clue on TOPIARY (5D: Clip art?). There wasn't much else I really Liked. I did learn the word [Sigmatism] (LISP), and I like knowing it, but I'm promptly going to forget it. I know me—I just will.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

P.S. Hey, check out the minor media coverage of that terrible, stupid clue on MEN yesterday. Both Jezebel and Mashable went after it (as did many, many solvers on Twitter). I have no expectation that the NYT is listening or cares, but I'm happy anytime these issues make it into the wider press.

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


jp flanigan 12:58 AM  

For the record, even IMDB lists the character as simply BARZINI...no emilio anywhere. I don't remember a line in the movie where his first name is mentioned. Perhaps it's in the book? Even if that is so, i think it's a long shot that anyone is supposed to know that.

Da Bears 1:28 AM  

Yesterday I posted a comment just to see if it would make it past the Censors. It was the first comment that made it in the last four tries. Rex’s critique wasn’t all that lame but his preaching does get tiresome on a blog devoted to a silly game.

I knew Rex wouldn’t like the inconsistency notwithstanding what Emerson said.

I really liked this puzzle notwithstanding the inconsistency between makes and models. They are all AUTOS.

George Barany 1:36 AM  

It's hard for me to say what I enjoyed more, @Andrew Zhou's Thursday-appropriate puzzle, or @Rex's fascinating dissection of both its strengths and weaknesses.

Yeah, I've seen "The Godfather" as often as the next guy, but am a bit shaky on the names of many of the supporting characters. In the context of today's theme, it was especially amusing to have @Rex walk us through Google's AUTO-COMPLETE functionality by way of making his point. Well played!

Can't wait to hear @John Child (who lives in Nepal) chime in on HOLI. If only the crossing ILE had been clued for one of my favorite amino acids, isoleucine, instead of a French island [guess it's ok to use that adjective again ... remember when certain politicians referred only to "freedom fries," "freedom kissing," etc., etc.?]

jae 1:42 AM  

Mostly easy except for the middle east.  My first problem was AUTO COrrect, even though it didn't fit, my SECOND problem was @Rex EMILIO WHO?.  These were enough to put the brakes on an otherwise smooth solve.

Liked it even though @Rex is right about the theme inconsistency.  Having to work for a Thurs. is a good thing. 

Music Man 6:12 AM  

Glad you opened with the make/model inconsistency. That was my biggest gripe. Ruined an interesting theme for me.

Lewis 7:05 AM  

I loved this. The cluing was tricky; I especially liked the clues for OPEC, BEG, DENS, and ESP. Figuring out the theme gave me a terrific aha. Perhaps the puzzle would have been more elegant if all the theme completions were either makes or models rather than a mix, but the mix didn't bother me. All the answers fit in the basket that the theme required.

There are usually some words in a puzzle that are not in my knowledge bank (such as EMILIO here), but if fairly crossed, it's rewarding to get them anyway. And they were here, except for the HOLI/ILE cross that I had to guess on. I did notice that all the theme answers were in the puzzle's SOLARP(LEXUS) area, and found that to be an interesting design feature, not objectionable. I liked the Beach Boy mini theme with HELPMER(HONDA) and Little GTO.

What a terrific theme idea and fun/challenging solve. Thumbs high up!

Anonymous 7:27 AM  

Is it just me, or did we not sit around and wait to be offended as much seven years ago?

GILL I. 7:28 AM  

Well I learned something new today. SPONGE BOB, who lives in a pineapple under the sea, was created by a marine biologist...Why?
I'm not in the FAN CLUBS today.
I know KATHIE LEE GIF from "Live with Regis." Good for her for having some clothes and wine named after her.
PUTIN...hmm, would have clued him differently than "interpose." Maybe an interpol abuser...
Maria BELON was the Thailand tsunami survivor that they made a movie about.
Do people only eat one SNAPPEA?
Not my favorite Thursday puzzle.....

John Child 7:36 AM  

HOLI was certainly a gimme for one living in the subcontinent. Google it and then click the Images tab to see why it's the festival of colors. AUTOCORRECT wants that word to be holiday of course, since it's white American-Euro centric. RANT, RAVE!

It took me forever to see that the random missing letters were automobile somethings. I liked the puzzle much more then, but less as I thought about Make versus Model.

WA 7:39 AM  

My main problem with the puzzle, is the cars only go in one direction. I think had trouble with the puzzle because I gave Will and the constructor too much credit, that the name of the car would used downhill as well, not just dangling off the cliff.

And as far as the Barzini clue is concerned, how about for next week, "Number of hairs on Luca's knuckles."

Unknown 7:45 AM  

I thought Barzini's first name was Don.

Anonymous 8:23 AM  

I'm going to take issue with 33D. "Endure" means "remain in existence; last". If something MELTs, it literally changes its physical form. Hence, an ice cube does not "endure" when it becomes water…the ice cube as we knew it is gone. That, combined with the fact that I wanted STRINGq(uartet) for 42A really threw me off.

Otherwise, a great puzzle. Well below average for me.

Anonymous 8:26 AM  

The white male college professor is a bigger guilt nazi than the thread worn feminist. . Everything has to be strained through their myopic judgmental world view. At least Archie Bunker created value through humor as we cringed at his over the top biases. Not much value added by the guilt Nazi comments.

L 8:28 AM  

Is it just me, or is ASSES making a more regular appearance in the puzzle these days?

Anonymous 8:40 AM  

I think that eel, used as a verb, is to go fishing for eels. I've never seen it used as a synonym for slither. 40A should have been clued differently.

Tita 8:52 AM  

I absolutely loved this puzzle...!!!!!! Don't care a whit about the make/model thing, though it definitely gave me pause. What really gave me pause was not knowing that RIO is a car...ReO, YES, but had to be T[RIO].
IS STRINGT[RIO] a thing? Please enlighten me, oh Musicians of Rexville...

@Lewis..."Little GTO" was Ronnie and the Daytonas. (Confession...it's one of my GoTO shower songs...I love all those car songs from the 60's...)

@Joho...our MINI made it into the puzzle!

Now what practicer of SADISM coined the term "sigmatism" for LISP? Really? As a childhood LISPer, I had my share of older sibs who would make me say "S" words just to hear me lisp. Thank heavens they didn't know the official name of the condition!!!!

Btw, they also use EUROs in LISLE.

Mr. Zhou...a perfect Thursday puzzle. One I will remember. One that made me slap my forehead and say "Why couldn't I have thought of that?".

AliasZ 8:54 AM  

This could be an interesting theme, except that I would never think of RIO as an AUTO. REO yes, RIO no. Also, this is not an AUTO COMPLETE puzzle, it is an AUTO INCOMPLETE, or rather a GRAND THEFT AUTO puzzle. The autos are no longer parked at the end of those phrases, they have been towed or stolen. I sincerely was looking for some such revealer after the missing FORD, LEXUS and HONDA, like two-towed Škoda or something.

-- Just for fun, enter architect ANTONI G into your Google search box and see what you get.
-- Isn't Barzini that Mediterranean fish served in Italian restaurants? I had no idea it had a first name.
-- Holi smokes, that HOLI|ILE crossing was a killer. But it's OK, Will is allowed to make one bad choice a year.
-- If someone PREHEATS the oven, does that mean they heat it before heating it?
-- NOYES, NOYES -- NO or YES? make up your mind already.

EMILIO de' Cavalieri (1550-1602) was a Renaissance composer of the Roman School. His "Rappresentatione di Anima, et di Corpo" is considered the first oratorio. The link is for a very brief excerpt from it, but you may want to hear the whole hour-and-a-half-long work after taking the four-minute test drive in one of the autos missing from today's puzzle.

Gotta run, make sure my car is still where I left it at stu[POR'S CHE]ckpoint right outside the bar.

Mike D 9:06 AM  

I am very much tiring of Rex's reliance on Google search's AUTOCOMPLETE to determine what is a good crossword clue and what isn't. Should we have guidelines for constructors? Maybe if it's the first hit it's too easy, but anywhere from 2nd-8th is OK, but after that it's too obscure? This seems to me to be an extremely petty and overly simplistic way to judge a clue or answer.
This was a beautiful puzzle. Great theme and revealer, great clues, nice fill, good mix of old and new, and challenging but solvable. Everything a crossword should be.

Hartley70 9:10 AM  

Well I missed the boat here. I solved this without a big struggle, but I took AUTOCOMPLETE at its face value and never noticed that the omitted letters were also the makes/models of cars. I hate it when that happens. Half the fun isn't enough. I finished thinking it was a likeable but strange theme. My bad. Good job to Mr. Zhou!!

Amy Pearson 9:11 AM  

Rex is so smart that if there's something he doesn't know then it must be way too obscure to belong in a puzzle. Yeah, Rex, it's clearly the constructor's fault, not yours.

chefbea 9:19 AM  

Tough puzzle for me. Knew there were words left off at the ends but didn't realize they were autos un tip Rex explained. Why does hitch=rub??

Dorothy Biggs 9:33 AM  

I got the AUTOCOMPLETE conceit early on, but that the left off letters were car makes was lost on me until I read Rex's blog. (Which, btw, is why I started reading this blog in the very first place...because I sometimes need a leg up in grasping the theme or some of the clues).

So, car makes. Got it. This probably took a while to create. Good on AZ for the hard work. As Thursdays go, I liked it. Interesting, challenging, and not like the other days of the week.

As for the MEN uproar, I followed one of the linked links to Emma Watson's HeForShe speech to the UN. As a parent of a trans-son and having gone through some seriously in-depth learning about gender and gender roles and how they are so influenced by our language and deep-seated in our cultural/societal DNA, I must say that the only way to undo so much of what is accepted as true is to actively un-learn it. First, it CAN be unlearned. Second, it takes time and great effort to unlearn it. And third, it is imperative that we all begin...no matter our age...if we want to make this a better place to live for everyone.

Whether it be "traditional" gender roles (which is what feminism addresses) or the more unconventional understanding of gender in general, the issue represents a new step in our evolution as a species. Unfortunately, I don't hold out any great hope that this will become a non-issue in my lifetime...or likely my son's...and given the xenophobia present in our current zeitgeist, it could be a long, long time.

But as understanding others becomes imperative for us to live together on this rapidly shrinking planet, it is important for us all to consciously take time out of our days to seriously reconsider our (what seem to be) irrefutable assumptions with regard to others. We do violence every day to people without our even knowing it and all the while justifying it because we believe our actions are "just how things are and the way they've always been."

It's probably time for us to change.


Tita 9:51 AM  

Meant to mention how much I liked Rex's use of AUTOCPMPLETE to belabor his Barzini rant. Clever boy.

Nancy 10:09 AM  

So what do you do when you actually finish a puzzle that has a zillion clues that are not remotely in your wheelhouse? You pat yourself heartily on the back, that's what you do! I loved, loved, loved the concept of this puzzle, and I found it extremely challenging. But I was at a disadvantage, having never heard of AUTO COMPLETE nor HELP ME RHONDA. And what I don't know about cars would fill a 3-car garage. (Fortunately, the missing cars were very well known, with the exception of RIO.)

What I loved most about the puzzle was that it was unsolvable without the revealer. I complain often about what I call an "after the fact" theme. This one was a "before the fact" theme, which I doubt anyone here was able to solve without the revealer. I had been real, real unhappy about BEEF UP, which had to be right, but which gave me an "F" at the end of someone's name. Unless that name was SMIRNOFF or ORLOFF, I really couldn't see how it would work. But once I had AUTO COMPLETE (even though I haven't the slightest clue what it is), I saw KATHIE LEE GIFFORD immediately. Then I said "Aha!" and went on to solve.

I just love SOLAR P(lexus) and ANNO DO(mini). This is one I'll remember for a long time. Or at least for the next week, since remembering things is not my forte.

Greater Fall River Committee for Peace & Justice 10:30 AM  

I've been horribly busy lately, but I have still been making time to do the puzzle. Until today. I got to the midwest and found two clues next to each other, one referring to 50 Shades of Grey and the other to Mario Puzo, and I said 'This is not my puzzle'. I had already gotten the trick, fro, SOLARP(lexus), it seemed entertaining enough. But not life-enhancing.

Bob Kerfuffle 10:36 AM  

IMHO (15A), an excellent puzzle. I have no problem with the makes/models issue, and the few obscure words were gettable from crosses. I really enjoyed it.

@Anonymous, 8:40, you say, "I think that eel, used as a verb, is to go fishing for eels." But the better verb for fishing for eels is "sniggle," which leaves "eel" free for other uses.

@chefbea - The Bard hasn't been around lately, so here's a little Shakespeare in which rub = hitch:

To be, or not to be, that is the question:
Whether 'tis Nobler in the mind to suffer
The Slings and Arrows of outrageous Fortune,
Or to take Arms against a Sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them: to die, to sleep
No more; and by a sleep, to say we end
The Heart-ache, and the thousand Natural shocks
That Flesh is heir to? 'Tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wished. To die, to sleep,
To sleep, perchance to Dream; aye, there's the rub,
For in that sleep of death, what dreams may come,
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause. There's the respect
That makes Calamity of so long life:
For who would bear the Whips and Scorns of time,
The Oppressor's wrong, the proud man's Contumely, [F: poor]
The pangs of despised Love, the Law’s delay, [F: disprized]
The insolence of Office, and the Spurns
That patient merit of the unworthy takes,
When he himself might his Quietus make
With a bare Bodkin? Who would Fardels bear, [F: these Fardels]
To grunt and sweat under a weary life,
But that the dread of something after death,
The undiscovered Country, from whose bourn
No Traveller returns, Puzzles the will,
And makes us rather bear those ills we have,
Than fly to others that we know not of.
Thus Conscience does make Cowards of us all,
And thus the Native hue of Resolution
Is sicklied o'er, with the pale cast of Thought,
And enterprises of great pitch and moment, [F: pith]
With this regard their Currents turn awry, [F: away]
And lose the name of Action. Soft you now,
The fair Ophelia? Nymph, in thy Orisons
Be all my sins remembered.[4]

Malsdemare 10:58 AM  

Well, the clue was Barzini, and if you google THAT, Emilio is the first name to come up. I actually found the puzzle pretty doable and rather cute, though the RIO/REO thing is an issue.

@NCA president, nice polite rant/reminder.

Ludyjynn 11:01 AM  

Me likey. Got the theme early on courtesy of KATHIELEE. Great clue for TOPIARY enabled me to suss the unusual spelling of her name. The Affleck/Lopez screen misadventure, GIGLI, opened up the entire northeast quad. The 'inconsistency' of using car makes AND models did not cross my radar because I come from a family of AUTOmobile mavens who love anything and everything about car culture.

Writeover city: 'burg' for FLOE, 'pieta' for SAINT, 'good as' for TRUE TO.

Good clue for ECARD. But I still enjoy receiving birthday and holiday greetings via snail mail, displaying the beautiful/humorous graphics and then, after a decent interval, recycling them. You can create decoupage, flash cards for kids or use the recycling bin to justify the practice.

Like @Lewis, my bugaboo was the cross of HOLI/ILE. Was unfamiliar w/ the festival and still don't know of any Marquis island? Anyone care to 'splain it to me?

Thanks, AZ and DS. IMHO, this was a terrific Thursday.

Andrew Heinegg 11:03 AM  

Well, it was an interesting idea but, as Rex pointed out, the inconsistency in the theme answers of both manufacturers and models was well at least awkward and inconsistent. I can not calculate how many times I have seen The Godfather (many!) but, I cannot recall Don Barzini (the 'don' part indicating that person is the boss of his branch of the mob) being referred to by his first name Emilio. I can only assume it must have been mentioned in the book which I read once. I have never read the book but the Fifty Shades Of Gray answer was easily sussable from the crosses. All in all, I thought it was a decent effort for the bit of freshness that it provided although I was expecting a easy-medium rating from Rex.

Joseph Michael 11:10 AM  

Challenging but excellent puzzle. My favorite aha was the discovery of the LEXUS parked near the middle.

Arlene 11:27 AM  

I'm a Googler whenI don't know the names, songs, etc. So with some strategic Googling, I finished - realizing that AUTOCOMPLETE meant that only part of the answer was in the puzzle. I really did think about the AUTO part - but it was totally unnecessary to solve the puzzle. Never did get to look at what makes or models lurked beyond the grid. And I found Emilio immediately by Googling on Barzini.

Carola 11:33 AM  

Challenging for me, with much blind groping and grappling before I finally saw the invisible AUTOs, first the [LEXUS] and then slowwwwly the rest, each offering a MINI burst of pleasure. Favorite: R[HONDA]. Genius. Also loved TOPIARY and WHILE AWAY. SADISM next to OMERTA: a rather chilling pair complementing the Godfather don.

Super puzzle, Andrew Zhou - thank you.

gNapoleone 11:36 AM  

Did no one notice the misspelling of "wile" in 54 across? Or is this considered crossword poetic license?

Unknown 11:43 AM  

GIGLI? Really? Then I looked it up and got this : "Gigli has been considered one of the worst films ever released. The film was also one of the most expensive box office bombs in history, grossing $7.2 million against a $75.6 million budget."

Too bad there isn't a SAW auto of some sort. That would give us this gruesome "AUTO correction":

A Gigli saw is a flexible wire saw used by surgeons for bone cutting. A Gigli saw is used mainly for amputation, where the bones have to be smoothly cut at the level of amputation.


Get Over It 11:43 AM  

If you don't agree with something in the puzzle, DON'T DO IT. Everyone is so offended by everything. I get offended by the insistence on Political Correctness in society. We all have the right to our opinion and free speech. If you don't like or agree with it, change the channel.

Unknown 11:44 AM  

No, you're thinking of Don Corleone. Or Don Cornelius.

I'm a Godfather fanatic and pretty much know the movie by heart (as do many of my friends). His first name is never mentioned in the movie. I haven't read the book in a long time so I can only surmise it's mentioned there. I hate that goddamn Barzini clue.

Grammarist.com 11:53 AM  

@gNapoleone -

While away vs. wile away

The phrase meaning to pass time idly is while away. It is older and more logical than wile away. But because the second phrase occurs so frequently, it is now included in many dictionaries and is rarely considered incorrect.

The OED has instances of while away going back to the early 18th century. The phrase employs a now archaic sense of while—namely, to fill up the time. Today, while is used only as a noun or conjunction (except in while away), and because 21st-century English speakers not used to seeing while as a verb, it’s easy to assume that wile away is the correct phrase.

But wile is mainly a noun—meaning (1) trickery, cunning; (2) a disarming or seductive manner; (3) or a trick intended to deceive—and it’s occasionally used as a verb meaning to influence by wile. None of these definitions has anything to do with idly passing time, so wile away doesn’t make logical sense. Again, however, it is now a conventionalized misspelling, and only the most persnickety readers will think it wrong.

Jamie C 11:55 AM  

Well, @Ludy strikes again: Your incorrect 38 across should be "berg," not "burg." Unless you think there are a lot of random Jewish folks, or perhaps small cities, drifting in the Arctic.

Alan 12:01 PM  

First off, the makes/models issue is an interesting nit for Rex to pick, as(SPOILER ALERT) a recent BuzzFeed puzzle co-constructed by none other than Mr. Sharp featured a beer theme with answers concealing ALE and LAGER (the two basics types of beer, made with top-fermenting yeasts and bottom-fermenting yeasts, respectively), and STOUT and PORTER (more specific styles of beer).

I enjoyed this. I wanted HELPMER(HONDA) before getting the theme, but it didn't fit, then shortly thereafter ANNODO(MINI) had to be it, and then the revealer is right below that.

For a moment I thought that we were going with simply truncated phrases, perhaps just long enough for AUTOCOMPLETE to figure out what you wanted, as in if ANNODO is just enough, there must be other suggestions for ANNOD, and then the next 'O' clinches it (??) seemed like a lame idea. Then, of course, the AUTO part clicked, with a very solid aha moment.

Nancy 12:02 PM  

@Bob K: I also got RUB for hitch by thinking of Hamlet's Soliloquy -- "aye, there's the rub" being one of my favorite Shakespeare snippets. He did have a way with words, didn't he?

Wm. C. 12:27 PM  

@Amy Pearson --

Like many (most?) others, I didn't know Emilio.

I'm not often a Rex defender, but I think he defended his PoV on Emilio quite well, with the googling.

It isn't just that HE didn't know it, but he was pretty sure that only a few of us would know it. The observations above that it was fairly crossed is somewhat redemptive, but still ...

Also, agree with comments on ILE/HOLI crossing. Same issue. The "L" is still (the only) blank in my puzzle.

old timer 12:28 PM  

Thanks, @AliasZ, for today's absolutely marvelous contribution to my musical knowledge. I am wondering, though, why have I heard that De' Cavalieri except before? It is very familiar -- and delightful.

I did complete the puzzle, and with nary a Google, and my word for it was "crunchy". The jumble of letters that eventually became KATHIELEEGIF was totally confusing to me. Fortunately the BROS EURO SPONGE BOB corner was easy. Eventually I saw HELPMER and it occurred to me they left out the Honda. Which helped when I noticed they also left out a Lexus after SOLARP. Aha! So AUTOCOMPLETE means "complete the answer in your head by adding a missing kind of auto." This, in turn solved the musical question that had been bugging me. I had "STRINGs" and realized there is no such car as an "Ection". But there is a Rio, so it had to be STRINGT (Rio). There is no such thing as a string treo, so I was 100% sure of the answer there.

The Natick in the SW still needed to be solved. My reason for the correct HOLI/ILE answer is that "any one of the Marquises" had to be referring to the island group we know under the Spanish name, Marquesas. Naturally the French would call them by the French name for "wives of marquesses", and any one of a French set of islands is ILEs.

So I put that in and was delighted with the puzzle, as crunchy as a SNAP PEA, but very well done.

(And I don't know about you, but I tend to eat one SNAP PEA at a time, so the singular is correct).

Z 12:35 PM  

Is AUTO COMPLETE the same as "predictive search?" Seems to me they're different, but I really don't know. Busy morning here, so didn't get to this until lunchtime. DNF at HO-I/I-E because, with one letter left, I kept readin the clue "___, me?" instead of the actual clue. D'Oh!

Anyone else think "Amy Pearson" and "Alicia Stetson" are interesting gendered choices for our "favorite" troll? I can't prove it, of course, but the style and tone certainly fit.

"Guilt Nazi." Hmmm, if something is making you feel guilty maybe a little self-reflection is needed. If someone tells me my fly is open I zip my fly, I don't get angry at the person telling me. Likewise, @Get Over It and others writing similar comments, No one is telling you can or can't say something or even that they are "offended." What we are saying is that how you speak and write is saying something about you and our culture that maybe needs to be changed.

@NCA Prez - "If we want to make this a better place to live fore everyone...." Pardon my cynicism, but I fear that this is not a predominant desire in our country. Were that we were better than we are. I was debating with a Muslim friend of mine who was more disappointing on the issue of Syrian refugees, humanists or Christians. The only agreement we reached is that loud voices in both camps are betraying their ideals.

Unknown 12:35 PM  

Is "artistic bias" supposed to refer to the slant at which a canvas sits when placed upon an EASEL? If so, that seems like pretty tenuous cluing.

I liked today okay, but I take strenuous exception to HOLI crossing ILE, and ENVAC crossing NOYLE. Can't we have one day without an arbitrary acronym/proper name - insert random vowel/consonant crossing? Also, if ILE is supposed to be short for "Island", aren't they the Marquesas Islands?

Masked and Anonymous 12:46 PM  

Primo thème. (I kinda like what auto-correct just did with "theme", in that openin line.)

No problemo in M&ALand, with mixin and matchin makes and models. It ain't like there was just one outlier in the mix, or anything. So, the result weren't AUTO-CO-WRECKED, for m&e.

Nice weeject stacks in the SW and NE, thanx U. Lil anjils. fave weeject, ingrido: ERN. Makes yah wish there was something called a erNASH.

For those that didn't cotton to the HOLI ILE corner (I was pretty much ok with it as is, cuz I learnt a new holi-Batman word), the M&A Help Desk can offer U this:

58. 45 user
61. High point in a Greek tour?
55. Marks on a bathroom wiper?
56. Reservations

For those (like m&e) that weren't real partial to plural French stuff in the SE corner, the M&A Help Desk offers U some singular French, in exchange. (M&A is tryin real real hard to be kind to the French now, but this here exchange must be done delicately, on account of there bein an endangered species U (1 of 6) in need of protection, here):

57. Sound choice
60. African continent tourist non-attraction
63. U in a crossword grid, for instance
51. What should be respected a mite, when critiquing the NYTPuz.
52. Phony beginning??
53. State in French

Next up: ECARD+NOYES. Again, this little area was ok by m&e. But, will offer this alternative, for @009's sake:

59. TV warrior lady's name
62. Kind of support France deserves: Abbr.
49. Frequent New York City call
46. "Climb all the way up that rope? Are you kidding me?!"
47. Common dog descriptor



Ludyjynn 12:51 PM  

@JamieC, thanks for catching my typo. Could do without your snark.

Masked and Anonymous 1:01 PM  

Oh, yeah … on that last set of New Clues, solvers would also need this:
46. Like a hip spot to do some exercises?


OISK 1:06 PM  

Tough one for me. I heard of "Help me Rhonda" only because it is an important "clue" in a movie (about a robot). Like Nancy, congratulated myself on finishing it perfectly. I agree with most of the nits that Rex and others picked - didn't like mixing brand names of cars with models, thought that the Barzini clue was unnecessarily obscure, and really disliked the clue for "melt." To figurative to suit this chemist! How about a nice science related clue like "Fuse,"? These are fairly minor gripes, though. I enjoyed solving this one, and it was suitable for a Thursday. Thumbs up.

cwf 1:09 PM  

I was really surprised to see beer BONG, but could not figure out why "sigmatism" meant LISB!

chefbea 1:10 PM  

@Bob K - thanks...I had forgotten that

Teedmn 1:18 PM  

Fun Thursday and a fresh concept IMHO (I'm never sure if the H in that acronym is supposed to be "honest" or "humble". I prefer the latter).

I had my share of RUBs in solving this but nothing I couldn't overcome. SECOND was SECure but that meant FLUEs were floating around the Arctic. Considering all the garbage in the ocean, maybe there are. I would have worn a tOga to an initiation ceremony but would have stood out like a sore thumb, I'm GUESTing. If ketches have two MASTS, perhaps my original sAilS is correct also but it didn't work in the grid. beer bONG meant 6A was looking like Sigmatism was LImb. Different from astigmatism, in any case.

Thanks, Andrew Zhou, very enjoyable.

LindaPRmaven 1:28 PM  

Sussed the theme early on thanks to KATHIELEEGIFford. I interviewed her eons (geez I must be doing too many puzzles) ago when I was a journalist. Didn't remember the winery but the clothing line that caused a brouhaha because the manufacturer was unfair to workers. Kathie sent Frank (poor Frank) with a big check to make amends as I recall.

Fun theme. BELONgto brought the biggest smile. And why not use both Reo and Rio? Good to span solver generations. Oddly HELPMERhonda was the last themer to fall. Shame on me having recently watched the Brian Wilson biopic. EELED was the only groaner. Have you ever heard anyone use eel as a verb in real life?

cwf 1:36 PM  

Turns out I just had to do today's BEQ puzzle in order to actually find BONG in a grid. Figures.

RooMonster 1:37 PM  

Hey All !
Toss me into the "like" group. Pretty fun puz once the trick was sussed. Like a few others, also wanted AUTO COrrects for a bit, thinking the themers were misspellings. Especially with the Beach Boys song. Had __LPM__ and no song coming into the ole brain. Looked down a few rows to 44A, wrote out Anno Domini, and already having the two O's in, said, Hey, it's missing MINI, (and with the AUTO in), grocked the COMPLETE part. Then that helped with the song and also 37A. Neat!

Was put off a touch by the models thrown in, but after the fact, I don't mind it! Fave was SOLAR PLEXUS. Who could've thought of that? Good stuff. Oh, and the RIO was a Kia (another [in]famous puz word). A small sedan.

Hey, @Lewis, did ya notice the ENDS and ASSES at the bottom? And for further SADISM, the SE corner, COMPLETE PUT IN EBERT ASSES! :-P

Some fun clues, agree with Rex on the rating. Thanks to Mr. Kerfuffle for the RUBbing, had trouble seeing the meaning too. Amazingly enough, only one writeover, 1A, TEase->TEMPT. Also lightly wrote in sonar for ENIAC, which doesn't count, as I didn't commit!

We need a collaboration twixt Andrew Zhou and CC. Thereby, Andrew Zhouquin Burnikel!


Anonymous 2:03 PM  

Why is ale cued as sold by the yard?please someone explain.

Z 2:25 PM  

YARD of ale. Yes, I've had one.

Martel Moopsbane 2:29 PM  

Contrary to Rex, I would argue that Barzini is indeed famous, even though his first name is not. Still, EMILIO was fairly crossed, so no Natick there.

And Tattaglia's still a pimp.

Masked and Anonymous 2:33 PM  

day-um. M&A forgot a New Clue in the New SE corner, too. Wrong again, clue-breath.
I can see now how the Shortzmeister earns his pay.

Let's just spell out all three New Grid Areas, here:



clayplay 2:35 PM  

A string group with three players is a trio (often a violin, viola, cello, but it could be another configuration). Also, music written for three string players (or two string players and a piano, flute, oboe, etc) is also called a string trio. Lots of string trios out there.

Some bars gimickly sell their beer in a very long skinny glass called a yard. It may actually be a yard long - I've never measured.

Mike D 2:50 PM  

@ Nancy, speaking of Shakespeare: "He did have a way with words, didn't he?"
Ya think?

Mike D 2:51 PM  

Hey anon @ 2:03: I just googled "yard of ale." You should try it.

Fred Romagnolo 2:57 PM  

I could't for the life of me get IMHO from the definition, but this blog finally opened my eyes; I've got to improve my concept of fora. Likewise the RIO thing struck me as odd; got to update my knowledge. No one has mentioned that the great Beniamino GIGLI was coinsidered by many to be the greatest Italian tenor between Caruso and Bjoerling (yes, the Swede). At Bjoerling's death, Pavarotti was just getting started.

Thomas 2:59 PM  

To the one asking about ale/yard: ale has been sold in long thin "yard glasses" for a few centuries, mostly in England, mostly for festivities.

I saw nothing clued that would make me think the clues requiring an auto ending would be consistent in make/model. They could have added "sedan" or "coupe", and I would have been fine with it. I do not think it is a very strong complaint.

Wikipedia 3:05 PM  

A Yard of Ale

Court Jeffster 3:23 PM  

@LeVine, Dahling. Our spat is over until the next time the Old Yellers Network snivel at the millennials.

Mr. Zhou addresses the make/model inconsistency on the xwordinfo site.

> Some may grouse that the type of auto isn't consistent (that is, I have makes and models freely mixed). Unfortunately, it was either that or a puzzle without enough theme density for my taste. REO was originally part of it, but Joel and Will asked for all the cars to be modern; OLDS, as a short form, didn't cut it either.

I'd like to see Mr. Zhou's concept executed with a different disposition and choice of theme entries, because like many, I thought it was a brilliant idea that was let down by loose execution. On that note, in trying to come up with alternatives at the top of my head during my lunch hour, I came to respect the puzzle even more.


What's interesting here is that the name of the car make (or model) does not factor into the lengths of the theme entries. This produces two constraints. 1) The theme answer has to look incomplete to warrant its inclusion in the grid. 2) The front of the phrase has to be long enough to stand out from the surrounding fill and justify itself visually as a theme answer. So TAKE[SATURN] and POOPERS[COOPER] are a no go, because TAKE is too short, and TAKE and POOPERS already look like complete words. Rex is right to note that the bunching up in the middle that creates some funky fill, but it is necessary to achieving density when the best theme entries are so short and you need to find a 12 letter complement for AUTOCOMPLETE. I'm sure there's a better version of the puzzle waiting to be written with just the makes of the car, but hats off to Mr. Zhou for this formidable Thursday puzzle. I loved the Eureka moment you gave all of us when we filled in the AUTO.

Charles Flaster 3:47 PM  

Loved this one and assume it was difficult to create a reasonable grid.
Rex's---A car is a car is a car-- so make versus model does not wash here.
Liked ESP , STEEP, and FLOE.
How about interpose to describe the Russian leader?
The fill was very tolerable too.
Thanks AZ

Fred Romagnolo 3:56 PM  

A "yard of ale" check google.

Wm. C. 4:12 PM  

@Anon2:03 --

Re: Ale sold by the yard:

A novelty glass by which ale is quaffed in special toasts and drinking contests is a Yard Glass. It's narrow and about a yard high, holding a bit more than a quart of ale.

Norm 4:29 PM  

Anonymous @ 2:03 pm -- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yard_of_ale

Amelia 4:29 PM  

"Tattaglia's a pimp. He never coulda out fought Santino. But I didn't know until this day, that it was Barzini all along."

Often quoted in my house.

Norm 4:30 PM  

This theme left me flat. I think AliasZ nailed it. Should have been Grand Theft Auto.

the redanman 4:44 PM  

Yard of ALE in an English pub. Overall rather hard with devious cluing. A feat but not one hand clapping.

Anonymous 4:48 PM  

But I didn't know until this very day that it was EMILIO all along . . .

old timer 5:29 PM  

Anonymous @2:03 pm:

I think you have to be an old timer to remember when certain English pubs would sell you a "yard of ale." They had a special glass that was a yard long (36 inches) but of course not as wide as your standard pint glass. And if memory served, it held at least two pints, maybe 3 pints. Maybe 4! Oh. and the "yard" had a round bottom, so you had to chug the whole thing without setting the container down. The beer was free if you could finish it without spilling.

Probably not something many local licensing justices would approve of, but I think the pub I went to once on the Costa del Sol had one. Tha Spanish authorities didn't give a good goddamn about how drunk the British tourists got.

Arlene 5:30 PM  

@Anonymous @2:03 PM

A Yard of Ale -


you could have looked that up, by the way - by Googling YARD ALE

Numinous 5:49 PM  

I guess I'm stupid. I did notice Rhonda and GIFford but I failed to connect the inCOMPLETEed car makes and models. Somehow the puzzle didn't seem all that worthy of continued contemplation.

The on thing I did notice was the sports reference. Sports reference? In fact, an Elizabethan sports reference: RUB. It is entirely possible that Sir Francis Drake was contemplating a RUB as he was informed of the Spanish Armada (if that's not apocryphal). It is said that he was playing at bowls, lawn bowling. Bowls was played on a "rink" with a grassy surface which, in those days, was difficult to get smooth. A RuB was any bump, lump oro hump that would affect the course of the bowl. RUB it the wrong way, so to speak.

Anyway, I still finished this faster than usual and enjoyed doing inspite of missing half the theme.

Numinous 6:43 PM  

@2:03, there is a glass with is flared rim that is three feet long which has a sort of bubble at the bottom. If you fill it, you have a yard of ALE. It's quite a challenge to drink a yard of ALE straight down though there are college kids dumb enough to attempt it. I guess it's sort of like a beer bONG, those funnels with tubes kids will pour beer from a keg into with someone swallowing from the other end while spectators chant encouragement.

@Teedmn, both ketches and yawls have two MASTs. You can tell the difference between the two because one has the second, or mizzen MAST before (in front of) the rudder and the other is abaft the rudder. I have a mnemonic to remember which is which, ketch yawl later.

@Bob Kerfuffle, you managed to brng a whole segment of my past to me. In the years I worked the Southern California Renaissance Faire, I not only taught how to speak Elizabethan but I spent a couple of years with a group doing stage shows. One of the things I did was that soliloquy. a few years prior to that, I had a game booth that was based on lawn bowling. My crew managed to come up with a nearly inconceivable number of ribald "bowl" jokes. In order to lead that group I had to learn how to bowl. In the process of researching and learning, I learned the meaning and use of the word RUB.

chefbea 8:48 PM  

I really like the music by The Cars, you auto listen to it.

Anonymous 9:58 PM  

@NCA prez - I don't share your vision.

Andrew Heinegg 10:39 PM  

Good call!

wa 1:22 AM  

The puzzle was autodidactic.

Unknown 2:30 PM  

Check out Ray Bolger's Scarecrow in the Wizard of Oz: definitely an "h" in there

rondo 10:54 AM  

Yeah AUTO COMPLETE, har. So I had to do this mostly from the bottom up. A novel idea that I didn’t care for much. That’s me and a Thurs-puz I suppose.

Interesting cross at “HELPMERhonda” and ”Be TRUETO your school”, though the down is not an AUTO when COMPLETEd.

I’d say yeah baby JLo is just GIGLI enough, in the right places.

Even on Christmas Eve I’m not feeling much love for today’s puz. Merry Christmas to all syndi-landers.

Burma Shave 11:19 AM  


Her SADISM TEMPTS me, her AIM is no MERE test,
she’ll MEET RUB and TAME me WHILEAWAY as my GUEST.


spacecraft 11:30 AM  

I knew right away that something "rebusian" was going on, because the definitive--the only--answer to 27-across is SOLAR PLEXUS. PLEXUS by itself won't do, and anyway the downs seemed to fit one letter at a time starting with SOLAR. Mystery!

So I scanned the clue bank for a revealer, finding it at 48-across. Worked around down there till I got AUTO[something]. And then the light came on for what is easily the aha! moment of the month. Oh man, this is clever. And later, with the delightful HELPMER[HONDA], I was thinking, there's no better way to WHILEAWAY my time (almost an hour!) than by doing this puzzle.

You can nitpick about makes vs. models if you want to, but the payoff of those two on the sixth line is worth anything. Another little lagniappe is the fact that ENIAC, b. 1946, appears at: #46!

Cool that PUTIN was not clued as the Russian president. A few writeovers: I misspelled NOYES putting the S before the E, my (rusty) French "Are" was sont, and my back up was rECOrD before SECOND. Oh, and I started KATHy, writing the Y before realizing that wasn't going to fit. All in all, I found this one challenging but rewarding. A-.

eastsacgirl 1:29 PM  

Hand up for wanting AUTOCOrrect (even though it didn't fit) at first. Absolutely knew it had something to do with cars even though I couldn't suss out how to make it work at first. Wanted STRINGquartet for the longest time. Finally figured out AUTOCOMPLETE and everything fell. Took me about 3 hours and 3 cups of coffee though.

Merry Christmas Eve to all the syndi's!

Longbeachlee 3:06 PM  

Forget the Godfather research. What other Italian names that end in ilio fit? Yes, there may be others, but in this case ignorance is bliss.
More Gigli trivia. Beniamo Gigli, early 20th century tenor.
Makes vs models. I didn't even notice. Am I brain dead, or is Rex et al anal?

rain forest 3:45 PM  

Who cares whether some were makes and some were models; they were autos that completed the themers in a brilliant puzzle. Lotta fun, lotsa clever.

Just google Barzini, and you get EMILIO, dammit.

I was trying to think of a themer that would have Chevrolet completing it...

Wonderful puzzle on a lovely Christmas Eve. Merry Christmas all, or if you choose, Happy Festivus.

spacecraft 7:34 PM  

You mean, for the restofus? Berry Christmas! I'll add Feliz Navidad! Hanukkah is over; hope it was happy. Kwanzaa? Not sure when that is. Anyway, a happy one! For our foreign friends:

Mele Kalikimaka (which is MEREly as close to "Merry Christmas?" as you can get using only the Hawaiian alphabet)!

Joyeaux Noel!
Froeliche Weinachten!

Only ones I know. Well, the British say, "Happy Christmas!" And I assume they, along with Billy Ray Valentine, wish you a "Merry New Year! HAHhahaha HAH!"

Unknown 4:48 PM  

To sleep, perchance to dream...aye, there's the rub.

surfersrule 1:48 PM  

Little GTO was a hit by Ronnie & The Daytonas, not The BBs.

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