Epitome of cool with the / THU 2-25-16 / Style with illusory motion / Cactus flower eaters / Ratio involving height weight for short / Neighbor of Miss Gulch / Insert your least favorite Congressman here / america's diner is always open sloganeer

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Constructor: Joel Fagliano

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: CRASH SITES (49A: Focal points of many F.A.A. investigations ... or a description of 18-, 24- and 40-Across?) — well-known websites "crash" (?) into each other, forming wacky phrases, clued wackily (i.e. "?"-style)

Theme answers:
  • AMAZON VINE (18A: South American monkey's handhold?)
  • YAHOO POLITICO (24A: [Insert your least favorite congressman here?])
  • VULTURE GAWKER (40A: Bird watcher upon spotting the rare California condor?) 
Word of the Day: ZOOL (38A: Veterinarian's branch of sci.) —
Zool: Ninja of the Nth Dimension is a platform game originally produced for the Amiga by Gremlin Graphics in 1992. It was later ported to several other platforms and followed by Zool 2 in 1993. (wikipedia)

• • •

This grid is bizarre. The puzzle is super-low word-count for any day, let alone a Thursday (66), but because of its shape, and specifically its massive black square count (43), it doesn't have the wide-open look you'd expect with a count that low (though those are reasonably open corners, reasonably nicely filled—a certain RHEUMYness in the SAXE-y SE notwithstanding). So style points for originality of grid shape. The theme doesn't quite work for me, though. I'm failing to feel the CRASHiness of the themers. It's more like JUXTAPOSESITES. ABUTSITES. It's just one site name followed by another site name. "CRASH" is a stretch and a half. Further, the site pairs are arbitrary and there are only three. I don't think of VINE as a "site." It's an app ... or a 6-second piece of video I sometimes see on Twitter. Not in the same ecosystem as, say, GAWKER. I also didn't know New York Magazine's Culture Vulture had become just VULTURE, but the name is correct, so no problem there. Seems like you could've made this Sunday-sized if you thought the theme was so great. JEZEBEL SLATE TWITTER BING DROPBOX. Lots of options out there. These weren't that funny—well, cluing on YAHOO POLITICO was decent, but the other clues were dull.

The fill ... IT'S OK. NYT average. Hardest clue for me by far was 36A: "Junk" (HEROIN). I had HERO-- and no idea. Even after I put in all the letters, I stared at it for a second, figuring I'd misread something. Then I got it. Junk. Junkie. H. Horse. Smack. I don't think I've seen / heard "junk" for a while, and we've got something of an opioid epidemic up here. Clue is fine, just baffled me. Had ARUBA for IBIZA (nowhere near each other, not sure what I was thinking) (28D: One of the Balearic Islands). For some reason the inclusion of a monkey in the AMAZON VINE clue threw me off terribly. Got AMAZON fast but was scrolling through monkeys trying to figure out what came next ... also scrolled through potential handholds ... ended up with TITI and RUNG. Neither, obviously, worked.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


jae 12:05 AM  

OK, we finally have a Tues. (or maybe an easy Wed.) puzzle. No erasures, no WOES, NO BUTS, and no stopping. Put in SPLAY and just kept going.

Only cringy answers were POGOED and ZOOL.

So, liked it and was fine with how easy it was because yesterday.

Ear worm: Nel Blu Dipinto Di Blu

AliasZ 1:09 AM  

This puzzle went over like a lead balloon. VINE, VULTURE and GAWKER are totally unfamiliar to me, and only know POLITICO from seeing the name on the YAHOO front page. Reading their headlines however never urged me to actually click through and visit the site. Thus the theme was a total dud for me. Even after getting the revealer, I had no idea what it meant, since I only recognized two of the six theme SITES at first sight.

Why do this and risk causing solvers to scratch their heads in bewilderment? It is akin to using obscure names that, even getting them from crosses, presents no epiphany, no moment of recognition, hence no satisfaction. Besides which, the "crashed site" phrases didn't strike me as particularly funny, in-the-language, or twisted in a clever or ingenious way.

The fill: ZOOL, IT A, IS AN, OBIE and ESPYS, and REMAP are not exactly stellar. I did like the Milky WAY ABOVE, AUNTIE EM, MR. ROPER, IBIZA, POETICS, RHEUMY, Matisse's SAILBOAT, and I work nearby the AIR TRAIN terminal in Jamaica, Queens.

-- When was the last time you POGOED?
-- I would have much preferred decathlon gold medalist Bill TOOMEY to another YAHOO POLITICO.
-- The Malamute is HUSKIER than the Husky. Does that make any sense?
-- My favorite: LOUNGE crossing IGUANAS. I am a closet lounge lizard.

Sorry Joel, I usually love you puzzles, but this one should have remained in your unpublished folder. IMHO.

Speaking of Queens, some coronation tedium by William WAITON may make me feel better. Or a wedge of Boston CREAM PIE.

Happy Thor's Day!

Unknown 1:21 AM  

Did you forgot to sharpen your CRUCIVERB PITCHFORK today, Rex?

Okay puzzle for me. RYNE Sandberg was my favorite player growing up. I liked the clue for RAT (Word that can precede or follow pack). I dislike the answer NO BUTS because, like Tina Belcher, I am pro butts. I also realized that there is a word that can precede or follow BUTT (answer below).

I didn't like Aristotle or his "Poetics" the first time I encountered them. As I've grown older, I've found him and that work to be quite interesting. As I recall, an imagined second volume of "Poetics," one dealing with comedy, is an element in the plot of recently deceased author Umberto Eco's "The Name of the Rose."

The clue to YAHOO POLITICO was very clever: [Insert your least favorite congressman here]?. Speaking of Clue: AUNTIE EM in the LOUNGE with the MR. ROPER?

That's all for me today. VAYA con Dios.

Answer: the word that can both precede and follow BUTT is HEAD.

chefwen 1:25 AM  

Got through the puzzle with little or no problem but was completely baffled as to the theme. Kept staring at those three long answers looking for something that might cause a crash. SITES never came into the equation, which probably wouldn't have helped my anyway. Of course I've heard of AMAZON, I'm an all to frequent guest there, and I know YAHOO, the others, not a clue.

Even if the lightbulb had clicked on I still would have thought this was a rather weak Thursday offering. I much preferred yesterday's puzzle which, at the time, I dubbed Thursday.

@chefbea - Give Elizabeth a warm Aloha from Jon and myself, and have a great Birthday Friday!

gourmand 1:55 AM  

There is no ETNA, only ZOOL.

I skip M-W 2:47 AM  

The FAA doesn't study crash sites. That's the province of the NTSB. The Times, i.e,. Shortz, should know this. I believe it's come up before. OK puzzle, though Rex is right about the arbitrary composites.

GILL I. 6:56 AM  

@Rex...I was amused that you mistook IBIZA for Aruba. I will go out on a limb to say the food is far better in IBIZA and if you ever decide to do a lot of playing and eating, you won't forget that isle...
Well, I was at a total loss on all those "SITES" theme-a-jigs. I know YAHOO and that's about it. I was just plunking in answers willy nilly not having a clue what this was all about...Alfie? My biggest hangup was not getting AUNTIEEM nor RYNE because I misspelled MAoNA LOA and I always do despite visiting most of the Hawaiian Islands. (Hi @chefbea!)
POGOED is my favorite word here. My pups do that when I cook bacon. Oh, RHEUMY looks good too - sort of like hitching a runny nose when you have a catarrh.

Loren Muse Smith 7:01 AM  

After wrestling this toughie to the ground, really, after finally getting the northwest, I had no idea how the theme worked. Now that I’ve read the write-up, I'm still iffy. VULTURE and GAWKER are not familiar sites to me, so I was desperately looking for Anything. So I'm understanding that these are all CRASH SITES because

1. These sites can crash?
2. They crash into each other?

Rex – yeah, I would’ve bought the CRASH part if the names had overlapped a little:

AMAZONETFLIX – movies about large alien warrior women

I feel old. At least FONZ, MR ROPER, VOLARE, AUNTIE EM, Archie Bunker's STIFLE, the RAT Pack all spoke to me.

POGOED finally helped me crack that *&^% northwest. I pogoed like nobody's business in 6th grade.

LECTERN – well, yeah. No one, No One, calls it that anymore. I used to dig my heels in and refer to this stand as a LECTERN, but it was just getting weird. Lots of people have no idea what you're talking about unless you say "podium." Dictionaries are acquiescing. So have I. I can't run around embracing language change and then be all sanctimonious about this one. It’s hard being a two-faced hypocritical descriptivist.

@M&A from yesterday – great sentences! How ‘bout

dung beetle/ harp
spittoon/cotton candy

Liked HUSKIER and BMI sharing a grid. Well, damn. Never-ending struggle.

I thought the odd grid looked cool, and I bet lots of the younger, hipper solvers will have fun with this. Off to yell at some kids to get off my lawn. I think they're making a VINE video.

Lewis 7:16 AM  

Another "merge" theme!

I solved it pretty much as a themeless, waiting to see the CRASH connection, and when I was done and saw the connection, it was an "oh I see" rather than "cool!". I've been trying to think of a better reveal (something with "pairs" or "doubles" maybe?) but no cigar. I didn't see the double-website connection because I haven't heard of VULTURE, and AMAZON was one of my last fill-ins, and it could have hit me but didn't at YAHOOPOLITICO. I liked the clues for LEGO, RAT, and SOPH and the answer NOBUTS. The cluing was tricky enough to make this satisfying to solve, and it's a cool looking grid, albeit black heavy.

Quirky puzzle to me, and worth it!

Aitch 7:41 AM  

Agreed with Rex that "crash" seems like the wrong verb. But then it conjured an image of the words physically colliding. Which in turn brought to mind the two-headed pronunciation monster from Sesame Street. So now I approve.

Theme semantics aside, I enjoyed this. The open spaces felt like a Friday.

J Dubs 7:42 AM  

I think it should be "The FONZ" not "the FONZ." Any thought?

Annette 8:01 AM  

I've been away from the puzzle for the past five days, hoped to return to a clever one, was happy to see Joels's name, and came away disappointed. The theme is quite a stretch (really, when does Amazon ever crash?). I could make the argument that BLACKBOXES works just as well as CRASHSITES.

ITA, ISAN, TGI, and all the other 3-letter "words" don't make up for RHEUMY.


Glimmerglass 8:07 AM  

I also solved this as a themeless, somewhat missing the sometime Thursday rebus. I looked at my grid and then at the completed gris on "solution" and still didn't "get" the revealer. I had heard of only two of the six web sites, and I knew that neither YAHOO nor AMAZON ever crashed. So rather than saying the theme was poor, I'll say that it was I who crashed. Easy-medium themeless, and a bit humorless too.

Young Turk 8:12 AM  

Almost every day, we hear from Rex or one of his acolytes on this site about how the NYT crosswords are "stuck in another era" or "need to bring themselves into the 21st century" or "seem to only want to attract the old (white) people who still read an actual newspaper." Today, everyone seems to be complaining about "those kids and their modern lingo" because they haven't heard of a couple of web sites. What is this internets thing, anyway? A bunch of tubes or something? What is it for?
Maybe tomorrow we can hope to go back to some clues referencing silent movie stars from 1926 or second novels by Herman Melville.

rorosen 8:28 AM  

figured CRASH meant 'places to sleep' so kept thinking toward sofa or hotel-related answers,.. Hilton, Airbnb, the bushes,..

Lobster11 8:39 AM  

I'm with @AliasZ today. I wound up solving mainly from the bottom up, so got the revealer first. When I subsequently got VULTUREGAWKER it was very much in spite of the revealer rather than because of it. Later I got the second halves of the other two themers (___POLITICO and ___VINE) but then was stuck, given that AMAZON and YAHOO were the only two "sites" that I (would have) recognized as "sites." Only finished after some Googling -- much of which was wasted on looking for names of South American monkeys -- and then had to read Rex's writeup to learn what CRASHSITES had to do with anything.

I'm willing to take some of the blame for not recognizing that POLITICO, VULTURE, GAWKER, and VINE were all "sites." But even if I had known that and thus been able to make constructive use of the revealer, I would still have thought the theme and revealer were awful.

I'm surprised to see that some people, including Rex, liked the clue and answer for YAHOOPOLITICO. I have a lot of colorful terms that I would (and do) use to describe my least favorite politicians, and "yahoo" is down around #2,561 on the list.

Dorothy Biggs 8:40 AM  

Whatevs. Thursday, done.

I had trouble in the NW with TOOMEY, et. al. FONZ? Really? FONZ??

I'm pretty savvy to the interwebs given that I have two kids and I'm always trying to keep up with what's going on out there. I've never heard of VULTURE. I agree with Rex that the clue for 24A was the best of the three themers...to bad the other two were so forced.

TUROW is another name I've never heard of...maybe from some cloudy memory of it being in a xword puzzle previously somewhere, but evidently I'd forgotten it and I most certainly have never seen it in the wild. I don't read "legal thrillers." Crichton is the only author I know that might do that...because he's a lawyer, maybe?

I give today a 4 out of 10. Interesting grid shape kept me interested for a while.

Efrom Anant Tuckman 8:47 AM  

Today's limerick:
(Sorry about the B-Rhyme)

A puzzle that has a low word count
Is aptly compared to a turd mount
And including cream pie
Dare I say it, "Oh my!"
This grid is one making it to third mound

L 8:50 AM  

Hey, I'm a big fan of the FONZ but this is SO dated, it's sad. I thought (hoped?) it was going to be the BOMB.
And I still don't get the "crash" theme at all. It's way too random.

Sir Hillary 8:58 AM  

Theme feels Monday-ish, so I guess this is a Thursday due to the low word count and some sorta tough cluing. Can't say I loved the puzzle -- the "aha" moment was a damp squib.

I made some errors today which were really dumb. First, even with DOS in place, I had bUlKIER in my head, so I sat staring at my bE*OIN / OPA*T cross for the longest time. Doh!

Worse, in the NW, I had ****ONVINE but kept trying to think of a South American monkey (a gibbon, perhaps?). Thus, I was able to drop in "the bOmb" at 4D without incident. Finally I figured out AMAZON (the best known site in the puzzle, I would imagine) and things fell from there. Ridiculous.

Z 9:06 AM  

Having a hard time finding the love for this one. I think I like it less than OFL. With the interesting look to the grid I was expecting something more to tickle my fancy. My fancy remains untickled.

This puzzle poses a PPP issue. Are the themers Pop Culture? Standing alone, certainly, but when clued wackily? The Websiteness of the answers is intrinsic to the theme, so I think they have to be included. But then, are they one or two answers? Personally, VULTURE is WOE, but GAWKER isn't. So I think this means they should be counted as two. With the most favorable view, this puzzle still has 30% PPP. Counting the themers as single answers take the percentage to 35%, firmly in the bad zone. The most honest analysis puts the PPP at a record of 39%. Based on this I'm with @Alias Z, this should not have been published.

PPP List

Clue clue
Verizon clue
TGI Fridays
Matisse clue
EDEN Prairie

20/66 or 23/66 or 26/66

@LMS - I'm perfectly comfortable explaining the difference between LECTERN and podia, who and whom, singular they and plural they, etc. The point is to be clearly understood, and that the LECTERN goes on the podium seems an important distinction. What I won't do is say to someone who uses "podium" to mean "lectern" that they are wrong. "I know most people call that thing a podium, but I was taught that is a LECTERN and the podium is what you stand on."

Hartley70 9:09 AM  

I wonder if I'm the only one who tried to make "ice" work on either side of pack. I watch "Nova" more often than 1950's movies.

I'm sorry to read that LECTERN is becoming obsolete. I hadn't heard. It's a more melodious word than "podium". The "pod" prefix is the new darling of the lexicon. I'm not a fan.

This solve took me a crazy amount of time, like I'm Rip Van Winkle and suddenly it's Saturday. I started in the South so I had the theme, but I had not heard of VULTURE or POLITICO and VINE is a stretch so I struggled to get it. And where's that monkey? I looked everywhere, trying to make "capuchin" work. Without the little fellow, AMAZONVINE didn't feel right to me.

I enjoy a tough Thursday and that's how this played. With this theme, I bet one can add a minute of excess solve time for each year of age over 50. The little gray cells got a workout today.

Teedmn 9:16 AM  

This took me a while though ultimately, it wasn't that tough. Did anyone else plunk down "testes" at 36A? And I was thinking maybe the "Three's Company' landlord was Roper's mother. I had 'fAr ABOVE' which made 'arNE' look good at 8D so 7A was Ma ROPER. Finally seeing WAIT ON fixed all that. I liked the clue for VULTURE GAWKER even though I've never heard of VULTURE. The CRASH connection to the theme does seem very tenuous but IT'S OK.

Thanks JF and WS.

Blue Stater 9:21 AM  

Well, I finished with only three mistakes (none of which I would have known anyway), which is the closest I've come to solving a Thursday since the puzzles went nuts years ago. I recently solved a rebus, too, so maybe there's hope.

cwf 9:28 AM  

@NCA President: You must remember Turow because his first book is a classic piece of crosswordese: ONEL. Michael Crichton was an MD, not an ATTY.

chefbea 9:38 AM  

The only sites I know are amazon and yahoo...So vine, politico,vulture, and gawker are sites??? Thought rheumy would be WOD

Love Boston cream pie!!!

Wm. C. 9:42 AM  

What @AliasZ said, first two paragraphs, ditto. Lead Balloon, some unreasonably obscure "sites" for the readership as a whole. Maybe on a Saturday? No, not even then.

Shame on you, Mr. Shortz!

Anonymous 9:52 AM  

This puzzle is interesting in that there is enough past pop culture for an oldie to solve it and enough current culture for the younger set. Being the former I solved smoothly but had to come here to find out what it was all about. So okay but no great aha.

Anonymous 10:07 AM  

I kind of enjoyed the puzzle because for a Thursday, I flew through it. But every complaint mentioned is valid.

Except for The FONZ. Ayyyyy!

(And I agree it should be "The" with a capital T.}


The English Avocado 10:08 AM  

Hooray. A thoughtful, perceptive essay with plenty of connections to other texts. No breathless, incensed ranting. A good story about the solving experience. Rex Parker of the past is back!

Jane Thorne 10:20 AM  

Yahoo,as in Jonathan Swift.

Katzzz 10:32 AM  

At first I was thinking that the themers were sites that crash your computer.
Seemed more like a Wednesday to me. While Wednesday's seemed more like a Thursday.

Nancy 10:39 AM  

I'm very late -- but if I type really fast and say very little, I might make the first cut for a change. Let me surprise everyone by saying I liked this one, despite knowing nothing at all about CRASH SITES (How is that different from a website?). And also not knowing MR ROPER or AUNTIE EM. But I found it a challenge all the way through, and I had to come back to the NW to finish it. Couldn't think of TOOMEY (though I knew him) and I wanted garaGE instead of LOUNGE for the Clue room. It wasn't in my wheelhouse, but I finished it with the help of my handy-dandy Atlas from the 1950's, where I found EDEN Prairie, MN, which I didn't know. (Sorry, @Teedmn). I knew there was a D for the 2nd letter, so I looked no farther once I found it. And since we had our rebus-like puzzle yesterday, I guess I can't complain that we didn't have one today.

Unknown 11:09 AM  

I think Rex has a soft spot for Joel. As he does Gorski and Berry.

Joseph Michael 11:11 AM  

I was happy to see Joel Fagliano's name at the top of the puzzle and liked the intriguing grid design, but came away feeling let down by the theme and the fill.

Listing a bunch of web sites seemed kind of boring and identifying them as crash sites seemed kind of insulting. I use amazon.com regularly and have never had a problem.

I will still be happy to see Joel's name at the top of future puzzles, but I hope they will display more of the style and wit that was missing from this one.

Greater Fall River Committee for Peace & Justice 11:11 AM  

Yuck. Got all the east and I suppose I could have gotten the west if I had wanted to think about Clue and '58 hits and what are they, blogs? Didn't bother to finish.

old timer 11:31 AM  

I agree with today's writeup.

Certainly not Easy for me (for a Thursday), it took the better part of an hour to slog through it without any help from Dr Google or Wikipedia. But in the end everything was gettable, once I changed "biol" to ZOOL, which gave be IBIZA. I've heard of Ibiza, and its attractions for the "party hardy" crowd.

Another writeover: "Tony" for OBIE. The Tony will come this year no doubt.

Did anyone else try to fit "genitals" in as an answer for "junk"?

Anonymous 12:21 PM  

Didn't ZOOL stand for zoology as a sci (science) for veterinarians?

I skip M-W 12:25 PM  

Am over 70, still read Times on paper daily, am now reading a second novel by Melville ( Pierre, or the Ambiguities, written the year after Moby Dick) yet I have seen stuff from all these sites. In fact, they are all mentioned, with some frequency in the " grey lady".

Anonymous 12:29 PM  

I'm so tired of modern crap in NYT puzzles. I understand the need to keep some of us au courant. I even appreciate being compelled to be more aware of my contemporary world. But this aspect of the puzzle needs to be balanced by challenging content that asks you to know something about the past as well as the present. The only time I ever find these puzzles easier than do the pros on this site is when they mix in some academic content. And that ain't too often. I'm ready to look for a different crossword world than that offered by NYT.

Cassieopia 12:33 PM  

The theme is about web SITES that can CRASH, versus physical, IRL sites such as a construction site. And VINE is a website; where do you think all those mini videos are hosted? I'm familiar with all those sites so the theme worked for me, and I thought it clever, especially YAHOO POLITICO.

Anyone else of a certain age think of Sears Toughskins jeans upon finding the word HUSKIER in the fill?

kitshef 12:35 PM  

Pretty hard for me - one of those puzzles where you never reel off a string of answers in a row but instead keep almost stalling out, getting a lifeline here or there and eventually putting it all together.

ITA is awful, as is the revealer. On the plus side, MRROPER, AUNTIEEM, IGUANAS, HUSKIER, HOVEL, LECTERN, RHEUMY. Lots of good stuff.

Does anyone ever say ILKS?

@AliasZ - I always figured Bill and Mary TOOMEY would have some kind of super-children. I agree that TOOMEY would have been much more welcome.

Anonymous 12:45 PM  

Speaking of the FONZ, I randomly picked up a book at the library this weekend to read to my almost 4-year-old and was surprised to realize once I got home that it's co-written by Henry Winkler. That was a demerit at first, but my son absolutely loves it.

nick 12:48 PM  

Any puzzle with "fonz" and "mr roper" as must-knows earns my enmity. Yes, it was easy and in places fun, but overall the ancient pop culture data base (volare?) makes it feel musty and obsolete.

jberg 12:49 PM  

DNF. I got the theme OK, and I even dredged up Pat TOOMEY's name (he's pretty well known, actually) -- but I put in arrAY off YEN, and never gave it up, so AMAZON and EDEN were the only things I had right up there. Finally gave up and came here, saw STIFLE, and it all made sense.

I would have preferred CRuSH SITES, but hey.

@Loren -- a LECTERN is where you put a book (originally the Bible) you're going to read from; a podium is what I stand behind so they won't notice how fat I've become.

Carola 12:49 PM  

CRASH, and how. As in CRASH and burn. This one went right past me. I didn't understand the reveal; rather I thought the various SITES themselves connoted some sort of crashing. Like you'd read GAWKER when you were too tired to do anything but CRASH with a trashy website? I dunno. I gave up and came here for enlightenment.

Tita 1:16 PM  

Boooooring... Sure,I know all the sites (except VULTURE), but as Rex and others have said, there is no connection, and no clever resulting phrase, except for YAHOOPOLITICO.

I got echoed at first, as I thought the odd grid was going to be the game of Clue...now that would be fun...had anyone done that? (good one, @Martin...)

Yesterday was a far worthier Thursday than this.

Tita 1:18 PM  

bOmb for FONZ held me up...I can't be alone there ..

Masked and Anonymous 1:22 PM  

Oh, man … M&A was just 99.9% positive that the revealer was gonna be BLACKBOXES. I mean, shoot -- there was 43 of em, in the puzgrid. Plus, M&A is not up on all them website names, so the themers didn't mean much, except for bein nice, weird answers to the clues.

U-distribution among the lesser fillins:
* 3-letter weejectITAs: 0
* 4-letter Saxeballs: 0
* 5-letter Ibizaburgers: 2
* 6-letter RHEUMYswithaview: 4

Luvly, that we finally got a NYTPuz dedicated to CRASHSITES. Missin go-to themer: INDIANOCEAN. It's huuuge. Also: JEB!CAMPAIGN. But, I digress.

Actually, a pretty challengin solvequest, probbly due to extremely low word count (66). That word count, plus a themed puz, just sings out for yer quiet moments of sweaty desperation. But the desperado gourmand will be somewhat disappointed, today. Looks like Joel had way too much time on his hands, and cleaned up his grid, so that it's mostly all CREAMPIEs and POETICS. Well done, my son.

@Roo: What Anoadude said. You'll get to there eventually, tho. Just stick with it. I know. I've seen yer primo runtpuzwork. I mean, heck -- if the Trumpmeister can make it to the White House …

Masked & Anonymo6Us

By popular demand, we once again have a meta puz to solve…

(m)Use in the Same Sentence Challenge, #2:
[please, no wagering]

* The sated dung beetle CRASHed into the harp doing Mach 1, spraying debris throughout the audience, so that the little sh*t really hit the fans.

* Acme Spittoon cleanup tip #41: If spitters were chawin regular-like, while also munchin cotton candy:
1) Sell spittoon for its scrap metal value immediately, and
2) Please send us pictures of yer SITE'S clientele.

Paul 1:35 PM  

I am not much of an expert solver, as by Friday I am normally done, but this was quite easy. I am mystified why people don't get the crash thing. I believe it means sites that feature celebs who have crashed in some way. Although someone did rightly point out that the NTSB does the investigations, while the FAA might then change the rules/regs after the results are in.

Masked and Anonymous 1:42 PM  

yo, @Annette - good to have company, on The BLACKBOXES Theory. Once they settled for CRASHSITES, they shoulda almost been obligated to include RUNTPUZ.gov in one of their themers, tho.

yo, @Jason Webster - NYTPuz goes with whatever they do in their news articles, caps-wise. But, if there ever was an exception to be made, The FONZ would be near The top of The List.

Themer bodyparts with M&A-knew-it immunity:
Yeps: AMAZON. YAHOO. Not sure about POLITICO, but a solid maybe.


Ellen 1:44 PM  

The theme made me cranky because Amazon Vine (the first I completed) is a real program run by Amazon for their reviewers. So once I had that I confidently put on Yahoo Politics (a real subset of Yahoo! for political news) -- and then got stuck on the Vulture thing. And "crash"? Gah. Hated it.

Also, as someone else pointed out, the FAA doesn't generally investigate accidents. The NTSB does. Bad editing. :(

Tim Pierce 1:44 PM  

I thought CRASH SITES meant companies that were involved in or affected by the Internet market CRASH of a few years ago, and was puzzled because neither Vine nor Politico were significant players. Maybe Rex's interpretation makes more sense. It definitely confused me.

Perhaps TWITTER BING could have been "Chandler's flighty cousin?"

Bronxdoc 1:55 PM  

Crighton was an MD

Cassieopia 2:16 PM  

P.s. WRT the "interesting grid shape" mentioned by many posters here - does anyone else think it could be a representation of the "He's dead, Jim!" Chrome error message? If so, that elevates this puzzle from "good" to "great" IMHO!

puzzle hoarder 2:44 PM  

I love the Devo hats on either side of the puzzle. This is the second time they've been used recently. The theme never really helped me with the solve. Like a number of the other commentors I worked around them as if the puzzle was themeless. After finishing it I came away thinking only the first half of the theme answers were websites. I'm obviously not familiar with the internet. AMAZON and YAHOO are familiar but I can't imagine them crashing. After reading the blog and the comments I'm thinking the theme is two sites crashed together maybe?
Started in the NE. 7A had to be Mr "somebody" and that got the ball rolling. My most egregious error was initially putting RYAN at 8D. He tied the Cardinals with a homerun in the ninth and won the game with another homerun in extra innings on the day the spouse and I got married. We were all watching the game between the ceremony and the reception. It was an unusually hot June 23rd in '84 here in Chicago.
To make a long story short I filled in the E side from top to bottom. Then worked W and finished with the NW. The internet element helped keep it from being too easy for this old fashioned solver.

Unknown 3:30 PM  

Late start today, Squelched in the Clue's fromwith to much Junk and a mornings overdose of Boston's specialty. I made it through, Quit [My] Excuses after catching a glimpse of a Rare California Condor Towing Over my front porch here in Petaluma. Looking forward to Friday's, the puzzle, not the "eatery" (would almost rather eat at "America's Diner")...

Leapfinger 3:45 PM  

No CRASH. The theme components are only NEAR_SITED.

Everything above YEN either started as unknown, drew a blank, or was a wrong guess. PARLOR (of course), but I thought HIVE pretty good for a small construction company. I considered JUNGLE_VINE except for the unlikely J position, and the AMAZON issue has been well-covered earlier. My residual beef is with IGUANAS as cactus flower-eaters: since cacti (as far as I know) only bloom for a short period each year, IGUANAS are either rounding out their diet with many other edibles or else they indulge in some heavy-duty fasting. So why zero in on the cactus flowers? The only reason I can think of is that IGUANAS are significantly harming the biome with all their ravenous cactus flower-eating and, to date, I haven't heard word of this. It seems as reasonable as describing me as someone who mops her kitchen floor. The entire quadrant seemed fraught with "Huh?"s, but maybe my POGOED had just got up and POWENT.

Time was when @JFC used to carry on about the early DSteinbergs and their (perceived) edgy pyrotechnics. That's how today's Fagliano felt TOOMEY: not asking to STIFLE the exuberance, but think it needs to be harnessed and toned.

Barring a built-in bad-hair day in the NW and generalized theme failure, a not uninstructive Friday.


Proud Mamma 3:52 PM  

I was clueless on the theme. NW stumped me until the end when i realized amazon was related to yahoo. Before that I only had Toomey,yen and eden.

Array for splay may have been the problem, even though it was penciled in lightly.

Chronic dnfer 4:15 PM  

I had find crossing pogied which left me with ahadonvine. At least I got Ibiza and zool. Victory for me and a good week this far.

Sir Hillary 4:44 PM  

The fact that among this blog's commentariat we have at least five distinct interpretations of CRASHSITES...

-- "Crashing" two website names together (I believe the intended meaning)
-- Websites that might "crash" (i.e., go down)
-- Websites that might cause your computer to "crash"
-- Internet market "crash"
-- Websites featuring celebrities who have "crashed" in some way

...tells you all you need to know about the quality of the revealer.

Z 4:51 PM  

@jberg - right about LECTERN, not right about podium. You had me wondering if I misremembered. @LMS - I note that Wikipedia has a Prescriptivist on the loose.

@Anon 12:21 - Rex jokes in many different ways.

Part of my impetus for doing PPP was a curiosity about whether it's just an "age" thing or something that transcends age. My 39% PPP calculation suggests that a substantial subset of solvers would have strong negative reaction to this puzzle. I think comments 17-57 support this. In short, a constructor can have ¼ of her puzzle laden with abstruse pop culture, products, and proper nouns with little fear of frustrating a sizable portion of solvers. The higher the percentage the more likely the puzzle will frustrate some significant portion of solvers. While age may factor in which subset is fuming, it is excessive PPP that prompts the complaints. quod erat demonstrandum

Rabi Abonour 7:39 PM  

DNF on the SE, with SAXE and RHEUMY crossing the difficult-to-parse EX-ARMY. Otherwise liked this fine, but agree that VINE is an outlier. Too simple a concept to have to stretch like that.

Kimberly 8:35 PM  

This was not a Thursday puzzle. Not. Thursday puzzles have a "trick," not a badly clued mini theme (nothing crashed anywhere). Boo hiss.

xyz 8:51 PM  

Easiest Thursday ever

spacecraft 10:31 AM  

Not my cuppa. I mean, I finished it and all, but didn't enjoy it much. This anti-tech guy knew YAHOO and AMAZON--and only GAWKER because of the recent flap with Mr. Hogan. Hulkamaniacs cheered the victory...but man! $140 MIL??? That's one HELLUVA lot of embarrassment. The others? They're all sites? Who knew?

The rest of it was suitably Thursday-difficult, but sprinkled with enough gimmes to make it all quite doable. Medium, and meh. No yeah babies, unless you let your mind wander upstairs from MRROPER to the luscious Chrissy, Suzanne Somers. Yep, she can be MY thighmaster any time. Or I hers. C.

Torb 11:36 AM  

Finished with not real issues but still haven't a clue about the theme.

Burma Shave 11:39 AM  


With AIRS he says, “OHYOU CREAMPIE, let’s go to the COPA.”
“EASEUP and LEGO,” she did say,
“WAITON me to say ITSOK.”
“STIFLEd!”,he thought,“TOOMEY this LOUNGE is too RHEUMY to grope her.”


rondo 12:44 PM  

Got what I called for yesterday – no gimmick. Just a bunch of webSITES that have CRASHed. Kinda lame, but again no write-overs. Could this be the week of perfection?

Come on now you supposedly educated people. Bipod, podiatrist – pod = foot/feet. You stand on a podium and put your notes on the LECTERN. Is it that hard??

Shout out to EDEN Prairie, MN, a Mpls suburb only slightly less reviled than oft seen Edina and a bit further removed from the tall buildings.

I went to Klub IBIZA in Odessa, Ukraine. It’s no LOUNGE, but a huge open-air dance club on the Black Sea. From the upper level one can see SAILBOATs and freighters. This is THE club in Odessa to bring or find yeah babies. My date Natasha had connections enough to arrange VIP seating where the staff would actually WAITON you. Dirty dancing not only allowed, but encouraged, ITSOK. Natasha told me to EASEUP on my tipping, or she would quit her job to become a waitress; apparently it was WAYABOVE the norm there. I was a HERO IN her eyes. Turned out to be the best night ever.

Hope the streak continues tomorrow VAYA con Dios, my darling.

Diana,LIW 12:48 PM  

Oh. Hmm. Now I get it.

Cheated like crazy cause I'm so nervous today. Nervous as a cat in a carrier box. That's cause I'll be traveling today with Mr. Waiting and our two cats - in carriers under the seat in front of us. The part that gets me nervous is having to take them out of said carriers at the TSA checkpoint, where they put the carriers, sans cats, thru the x-ray machine. We are traveling back to "true home," and we're both sure we're forgetting SOMETHING. Say a prayer...

What should be a 2.5 hour trip takes almost 8 hours. I have a couple of puzzle books. ;-)

I saw what I think is a Cal. Condor a few weeks back, and I've been hoping to have another siting - didn't expect one to show up in the puzzle clues. I'll take that as a good omen. I am now definitely a VULTUREGAWKER. (Mr. Waiting wants to know what a condor is doing in the puzzle.)

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for the cab and the plane

tmwcb 12:56 PM  

I really wanted GRINDR for GAWKER -- in time, I suppose

rain forest 3:38 PM  

Apparently there are those who believe and even expect the Thursday puzzle to be offbeat or tricky in some way (rebus e.g.). In my case I always approach the morning as a NYT puzzle day, and attempt to solve it.

Today's was somewhat offbeat, and easy-medium for me, but not knowing that VINE and VULTURE are websites made it difficult to work out the theme. I guess you can visualize the CRASHing of these sites, but it seems a stretch.
Nevertheless, I completed the puzzle reasonably quickly, and thought that it was pretty good, absent the theme. RHEUMY raised the ire of some, but I think that is a perfectly good word.

The grid is interesting in the way the black squares are placed and I was trying to determine if there was some theme connection, but no soap.

Longbeachlee 3:43 PM  

I want special recognition in the falling in love with a dumb assumption category. That was that there was a crash at Schoopol Airport, and was thereby looking for strings of letters of places that had famous crashes. Oh that was a shooting at Schiphol Airport. I finally did let go of that one and finished, but I still think it was hard.

leftcoastTAM 6:22 PM  

Agree with Rex on the theme. CRASH? Like SUBMERGE the other day. Oh well.

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