Italian for sleeves / FRI 5-27-16 / Longtime All My Children role / First novel of Great Plains trilogy / Hybrid woman-bird monster / Magna carta drafters / Title trio in 1986 comedy

Friday, May 27, 2016

Constructor: Damon Gulczynski

Relative difficulty: Medium (leaning somewhat toward easy)

THEME: none 

Word of the Day: TAXON (18A: Phylum, order or genus) —
In biology, a taxon (plural taxa; back-formation from taxonomy) is a group of one or more populations of an organism or organisms seen by taxonomists to form a unit. Although neither is required, a taxon is usually known by a particular name and given a particular ranking, especially if and when it is accepted or becomes established. It is not uncommon, however, for taxonomists to remain at odds over what belongs to a taxon and the criteria used for inclusion. If a taxon is given a formal scientific name, its use is then governed by one of the nomenclature codes specifying which scientific name is correct for a particular grouping. (wikipedia)
• • •
Taxon. Tax off. Taxon, tax off ... the taxer. TAX TAX.

[You're welcome]

I'm trying to think of things to say about this puzzle, but I'm fantastically distracted by my Twitter feed, which is half live-tweets of the Scripps National Spelling Bee, and half animated discussion about the strengths and weaknesses of "High Society" (1956). It's all too enthralling. Allegedly, there's an important NBA playoff game on right now as well, but I haven't heard a peep about it. This puzzle was enjoyable, mostly. West fell fast, east ... didn't. After a couple early miscues (AGE for SWM, ENYA for ERTE) I went sweeping down the west side of the grid pretty easily, then moved into the middle and kinda got stuck for a bit (finished in 6:09, so not *that* stuck, but stuckish). First there was the ON ICE / IN ICE problem (IN makes me wince), then the NE, where ... let's see. I threw AVAIL in and then crossed it at the "V" with ... OVATE. But when the "T" cross was some kind of green (er, that is, 13D: Kind of blue that's close to green), I somehow ... I ... well, I changed OVATE to OVOID and went with NILE. NILE blue. Is that a thing? It felt thingish. It was wrong. MIENS and DENS helped out and things settled down. Really really really thrown off by the word "attraction" in 34A: Attraction temporarily shut down and partly moved to Siberia during W.W. II, so much so that even with LENIN in place I still thought I was dealing with some kind of carnival ride. The LENIN SWING or something.... but it was just his TOMB.

[This video is unrelated to anything in the puzzle. It was on 89.3 The Current (Minneapolis!) as I was writing this, so I just stuck it in here, why not?]

Yucked out at the awkward EMBANK, where -MBAN- did zero for me (PET rock ... cute) (29A: Kind of classic rock?). Thus stuck, I switched to the SE to see what I could do—and bam, off the "O" got "O, PIONEERS," and RIC OCASEK would've been a gimme even without the initial "R" in place. Filled the grid back up to horrible EMBANK, ending with that "E."

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Z 12:36 AM  

I knew it was an issue so I did a quick count to confirm, 25/70 answers are Pop Culture, Product Names Or Proper Nouns. 38%, and also they take up big hunks of the grid. A triple PPP stack in the SE crossed by GERALD FORD. That section played easy since Ford was from Michigan and I still play The Cars on occassion, but it will slow a few people here, I'm sure.

My struggles, though, were in the north. Transliterated Chinese, gambling Meccas, and classical composers. I would have done just as well rolling Boggle die. Should have figured out sooner that "Italian" was code for "pasta," it would have helped. BARTÒK is familiar, but I would have put MACAO in the Indian Ocean and didn't know it was known for gambling. At least I knew how to spell LARSEN.

A decent puzzle, more wheelhouse than outhouse for me, but tone down the PPP some, please. Also, oN ICE, never IN ICE.

Da Bears 12:59 AM  

I want to congratulate you, Rex. Not for your comment but because your Blog was up and running before the NYT Wordplay, which is already three hours late. As Woody Allen said, Ninety percent of success is just showing up.

jae 2:08 AM  

Easy-medium except for the DNF part. I went with oN idea about either GILLS or GOLLS and I'd hate to be chipping at a block of ice to get to a beer at a picnic.

APIE was also a major WOE, but the crosses were solid.

Like this a lot in spite of the DNF, SKIN FLICKS, WHAT A JERK, HOT MESS, RIC O' CASEK....mucho good stuff.

Carola 3:22 AM  

I enjoyed solving (almost) this one, with its swings between the easy and the "no idea.". I liked the musical cross of BARTOK and BJORK, the political cross of LENIN and GERALD FORD, and the eclectic range of ROLES from DESDEMONA through ERICA to Kylo REN. OVATE was a nice foreshadowing of the BLOAT-FATTEN. duo.

DNF - it never occurred to me to rethink oN ICE, even though I've heard of GILLS but not GoLLS. Had to correct early guesses at bono for the artist and erose for the basil leaf (one of those smart ALECK answers that comes back to bite you).

Alby 4:56 AM  

Have only ever seen it spelled MACAu. Not sure why two answers in a row (50A and 52A) were clued with the same word and same meaning, unless that was some kind of misdirection. Otherwise, interesting profusion of Scrabble letters.

Charles Flaster 5:07 AM  

Liked this one and agree with Rex.
IN ICE is tricky.
Liked cluing for REAK TROOPER and ULNAS.
Dale Mitchell struck out to end perfect game by DON LARSEN.
Thanks DG

CFXK 5:47 AM  

Re 23D: The phrase is "RELL TROUPER," not "real trooper."

George Barany 6:38 AM  

@Rex's account of solving @Damon Gulczynski's puzzle tracks my own experiences surprisingly well, save the part about finding it easy. I did get through all of the west and much of the east, but ultimately had to use the "check" and "reveal" functions a few times.

As so often happens with @Damon's puzzles, it was an enjoyable experience for the most part, with several interesting factoids learned from the quirky cluing (LENIN'S_TOMB topping that list, with SKIN_FLICKS not far behind).

It was hard to let go of ON_ICE, which is what the great GRETZKY (a New York Times puzzle debut word) skated on. BLOAT and FATTEN were consecutive answers with the same "swell" clue. ETON has appeared 190 times during the Shortz era (and 778 times in all), but this is the first time ever that its clue includes "green" and only the third time that the clue includes "blue."

Interestingly enough, I had been listening to Verdi's "Otello" all day in my office, so somehow DESDEMONA came to mind upon reading its erudite clue. It was also nice to be reminded of @Don LARSEN, author of the only perfect game in World Series history. I applaud use of the word "arms" in a clue that does not refer to the NRA. However, Cap-A_PIE (from "head" to "toe") stumped me, and the clue for BLAH was a (not so) HOT_(MESS of a) dupe.

Loren Muse Smith 6:59 AM  

Ok. Reporting a dnf live from beautiful downtown West Virginia. I thought I was gonna learn a new word, "goll" for some kind of half cup measure. You know – like it's a C-cup, but if it's one of those frightening little demi bras, then there’s a measure for just how far up it comes. Debi, I think the D cup works, but we’re gonna have to go with a bigger goll because, well, we don’t want anything peeking over the top, especially if the air has a nip; please try this 3 goll.

I know there’s a difference between TROOPER and “trouper,” but the couple of times I’ve looked into it, I lost interest pretty fast.

Had “’Stangs” before T BIRD. And I briefly considered “Onioneers” – I swear those guys over at "The Onion" are brilliant.

Yesterday at lunch I was asking the other lunch duty teacher if she said “smart eleck” the way I always do. Nope. She says “smart ALECK.”

The big thing I took away this morning was pondering “hybrid woman-bird monster.” Now there’s something to chew on. SWM seeks HWBM for friendship, deep conversations over bloated carrion dinners.

Very few people can WAX POETIC and pull it off. Seems to me that if you’re waxing poetic, you’re just sounding like you’re trying to wax poetic.

I wanted to say that I was able to end on ON END. I keep kicking around the phrase “ended up up ended” but I can’t seem to find matches for a puzzle. Anyone out there with ideas, just have your people call my people, k?

johnnymcguirk 7:47 AM  

These spelling bees are tantamount to child abuse. By watching it you are encouraging it.

Jon88 7:47 AM  

Disappointed to see that we've lost the distinction between TROOPER and TROUPER. I hate it when a word dies.

Dorothy Biggs 7:57 AM  

I finished this puzzle in 6:09 too. And by "finished" I mean, gave up caring. The SE, with all those names...RICOCASEK I should remember how to spell, but I don't. DESDEMONA and OPIONEERS were really obscured. So that took a while.

The NW was troubling too. Didn't know LARSEN, I'm not up on my Italian pasta actual meanings, and CHA should be CHAi...

But the two kickers were the GILLS/ULNAS/FUELS crossing. GILLS?? And the second was GRETsKY. That one was the one that was after I finished and got no happy jingle, it took me forever (and a little Googling) to narrow it down to changing the S to a Z. LAPAs seems like a perfectly good South American spelling (like BraSil).

So this took me a while. Rex could have finished the puzzle, gone out for dinner for MANICOTTI and a couple of GILLS of wine, and walked home in the time it took me to do this one.

Teedmn 7:59 AM  

This was a nice example of a Friday with some resistance but ultimately solvable. Too bad I had three errors. I could make excuses but really, it's annoying on such a nice puzzle.

I loved figuring that 17A was going to be a pasta type and getting it from CHA and RAN. DESDEMONA from FORD and ONE AM (I just noticed the "demon" in DESDEMONA, did Shakespeare do that on purpose?)

I will definitely check out LENIN'S swings if I ever get to Russia (Ha, @Rex!) and while @Rex enjoys all the amenities of lovely Mpls, I will be traveling to the remoteness called northern WI, where if you hear from me in the next few days will depend on whether I can tilt my iPad in the direction the cell signals are coming from. No WiFi at our friends' cabin.

Have a safe, wonderful Memorial Day weekend, all!

Anonymous 8:08 AM  

Liked the puzzle overall! It's too bad it couldn't work with the actual correct spelling, "REAL TROUPER" as in stalwart member of the troupe, but maybe that one is a lost cause these days, when people misspell many, many words that are easier than that one.

gifcan 8:09 AM  

More difficult for me. Didn't know either of the single-named artists. Went with LARSoN/ERTo.

Can you haw without hem?


Messed up on oNICE/GoLLA, but only because I didn't go through and check it.

Warriors won.

seanm 8:10 AM  

this was saturday level for me, mostly because of the SE, where all 3 acrosses are complete woes, even after seeing it complete no bells of recognition are rung. got the back half of each with 57, 58 & 59 being gimmies, but couldn't suss out the starts, even after getting ford.

Anonymous 8:10 AM  

I've always thought it was "trouper," not "trooper," in that sense, and some quick Internet research appears to confirm.

More Whit 8:12 AM  

Far too many proper names for my taste, and beer is kept ON ice, not "in ice".

Robso 8:15 AM  

[At cookout]
Jack: Hey Biff, where the hell have you been? You went to get a beer 15 minutes ago.
Biff: The jerks are serving beer "in ice" and I had to use an ice pick to get it out.
Jack: Christ! Who serves beer "in ice?" Lame.

kitshef 8:18 AM  

I thought this was fantastic. Zero dreck, moderately difficult, and fabulous longs like NOTAGBACKS, DESDEMONA and WAXEDPOETIC.

AME was a WoE,and even after looking it up I don't believe I have ever seen it in a church name (and one of my closest friends is Rector at an Episcopal church).

Had some spelling hiccups along the way - LARSoN before LARSEN, MACAu before MACAO (ev'ry stinkin' time!), and I left a couple of letters in RICOCASEK blank pending crosses.

A great puzzle, and one which merited a better review.

Anonymous 8:22 AM  

Way too many proper names. I knew Bartok, Bjork, Lumet, Debi, even Erica and Desdemona, and had an unforgiveably hard time with Gerald Ford (I think it was the fact that he was called a "leader.") But I never heard of Lebon or Gretzky (sorry guys) and I assumed that Ric OCasek was Rico Casek.

Considering that I also never heard of tag backs I had a generally enjoyable time with this one.

Suzy 8:23 AM  

The best part of this blog is always reasing Loren Muse Smith and George Barany-- thx! Fun puzzle, but too many pop refernces for me!

Jon Alexander 8:49 AM  

DNF due entirely to the SE pop culture tristack that reeked of ugh (I'm also looking at you APIE)....some great long ones though (HOTMESS WHATAJERK SKINFLICKS). Still, I will grouse about the overloading of all the proper names.

Chim cham 8:51 AM  


AliasZ 8:53 AM  

Enough already with all the proper names.

This puzzle gave me no joy whatsoever, only frustration. As I successfully finished one small segregated area, another unknown proper name stopped me from getting into another one. For me this was by far the worst puzzle of the week. I would have much rather had A PIE.

Chim cham 8:53 AM  

If WAX POETIC isn't already the name of a rap group, it ought to be. To the inter-webs!

Chim cham 8:53 AM is:)

Vincent Lima 8:59 AM  

I happened to have done an old (January 2015) Thursday yesterday with [GILL][GILL] replacing CUP in RECUPERATE, so GILL was a gimme.

As for the rest, I had WHATcheeK before WHATAJERK and the fact that the K worked made it hard to erase "cheek."

I tried Hermitage, the Saint Petersburg art museum before Lenin's Tomb; I'm slightly curious how you take parts of that: his head is in Siberia, but his feet are firmly planted in Moscow? I guess the embalmed body is just one element of the tomb.

Steve M 9:12 AM  

Not a problem except gills was a hang up

Anonymous 9:22 AM  

Too many proper names---and too many from music (RICOCASEK, WTF?)

But I disagree about IN ICE versus "on ice:" the latter merely means keeping something cool or cold, whereas _literally_ beer is kept in ice (often covered with ice) at a party.

Z 9:37 AM  

@Jon88 - Hmmmm. It looks like it all depends on what you think a "word" is. One word in French gets changed in English and then sometime later the original French is brought into English to distinguish between artistes and military types. About two days later Tweedy Pop Prescriptivists start correcting people about the "proper" spelling. Bottom line, it's nice to have a distinction between artistes and the fine folk of the Ohio State Police, but troop and troupe are really the same word. No word was harmed in the making of this idiom.

@johnnymcguirk - Hyperbole much? Parents living vicariously through their children is hardly limited to Spelling Bees. I must admit, though, that I can't watch without feeling a little sad for these families. I heartily wish they'd each be given troop/troupe and being eliminated regardless of the spelling they picked.

@NCA Prez - Hand up for wondering where the I went. Looked it up post solve and apparently CHAI derives from CHA. Of course, we're talking about transliteration from an entirely different writing system for a language that is very old and has many dialects so I'd have preferred a dance clue.

@kitshef - I responded to your late admission with an admission of my own.

Lobster11 9:42 AM  

This was definitely not on my wavelength. I got much closer to finishing this than I thought I would given the number of WOEs -- including many of the PPPs and some of the little junk like CHA, AME, and ETON -- but I didn't enjoy it. In the end my downfall was (predictably) the awful GILL/INICE cross and the brutal SE.

Nancy 9:44 AM  

Thank you at @Z for telling me, right at the top of the blog, how awful the PPP in this puzzle was and why I am so unhappy with it. I threw in the towel with just about nothing filled in in the South, other than DESDEMONA, which I got off the D in GERALD FORD. Everything else was so out of my wheelhouse as to have been almost on another planet. Maybe in a different solar system. I did enjoy the top of the puzzle, which seemed to be from a different constructor, entirely. Now, I was watching baseball in 1956, but it took me forever to come up with LARSEN, thinking first of NEWCOMB and DRYSDALE. And then when I came up with it, I initially misspelled it.

To my bike-lovin' friend, Steve, from the tennis courts: I should have listened to you much more carefully, instead of tuning out, whenever you WAXED POETIC about bikes. Maybe I would have known 47A, instead of having it simply add to the many, many Naticks for me in this puzzle. I'm not mad that I didn't finish this -- only that I wasted so much time on it when it was completely un-doable and completely unlovable. I thought it was a HOT MESS.

DJG 9:52 AM  

If anybody is interested in some extended constructor notes, visit my blog:

Let the good times roll!

Jamie C 10:12 AM  

If EMBANK is the worst thing you can find in a puzzle, it's a pretty damned good puzzle.

Alicia Stetson 10:14 AM  

Did anyone see Steph Curry EMBANK that layup last night?!

Chaos344 10:16 AM  

Really liked this one, but that probably stems from the fact that it was very "wheelhouse" for me. Only proper name where I had to rely totally on the crosses was BJORK. Like Rex, had ENYA before ERTE. Haven't seen CAP-APIE used in a Times puzzle for ages, but I recognized it right away. Meanwhile, over at Game Of Thrones, the Sons Of The Harpy have caused a big HOTMESS for Dany. Looks like a temporary truce with the "Unsullied" is now in place thanks to Tyrion and Lord Varys?

Loved the clue for DESDEMONA, since I often say something very similar to my significant other while in the throes of passion.

@LMS: NYAH NYAH! Didn't get me today Loren! Absolutely ROTFLMFAO, but my keyboard was miles away from my coffee cup, so no projectile nasal spray issues.

Well "GOLL DERNIT!" Do they still say that down in West Virginie? Sounds like Debi's 3 goll D Cup Runneth Over? Perhaps a GOLLy-Gee cup is in order?

Thanks for that image of the SWM and the HARPY having a romantic dinner of fresh road-kill. "Pass the BLOATed possum please." Priceless!

In the interest of furthering your puzzle construction ambitions, I am responding to your request for ideas regarding a crossword clue and answer pairing with "ended up up ended." How about "opted for doggie"? That would have worked perfectly crossing G-uest SPOT at 34D in yesterday's puzzle, no?

@Z: Good to see the PPP count back. I knew it had to be sky high today.

Moving along to the "typos are a real bitch" department, @Charles Flaster says he liked the cluing for REAK TROOPER, but @CFXK reminds Charles that the correct phrase is RELL TROUPER! Can't make up stuff that good!

MANICOTTI get outta here! Ciao!

Anonymous 10:30 AM  

The word is Trouper

Charles Flaster 10:31 AM  

REAL, of course.

RooMonster 10:42 AM  

Hey All !
West Center and SW easy, NW put up a little fight til BJORK sang through. (See what I did there?) SE easy, as I knew Cars singer immediately. But NE, Holy obscure words, Batman! OVATE, TAXON, MIENS, ETON. All big time WOEs. Even down to the GILLS. Cracks me up with the Rexsters time of just a few seconds over 6 minutes! My time was just about 8x that!

Learned MANICOTTI means sleeves, so not a total waste! Did like the long Downs. Never heard of the Great Plains books, so instead of seeing it as O PIONEERS like someone above said, I was luke, "What is an OPION-EER?" :-)

SCRAMBLES(the ole brain)

GILL I. 10:45 AM  

Did not enjoy this one bit. Here I'm thinking what a wonderful week of puzzles and on my favorite Friday I get a ton of names that were just not doable. I also didn't like some of the cluing. It felt like a kid yelling "ha ha, you're a dummy." I mean the clue for LENINSTOMB was just plain mean. How about a rester in Red Square...Okay, that sucks as well.
NO TAG BACKS? OVATE for sweet basil? PET is a classic rock? too cute and not the least bit fun.
I'm going to eat hot dogs.

lg 10:46 AM  

Did not enjoy it as much as I wanted too, mostly because his puzzle was very difficult for me. I knew quite a few answers but severely struggled with ETON, TAXON, GILLS, BARTOK, TAXON and a few others.

Early stumbling blocks were WHATAJoke for WHATAJERK, S__NbrICKS for SKINFLICKS, SWf for SWM which turned MANICOTTI into a HOTMESS for me because I had it starting with f, oNICE for INICE (because I've never heard anyone say beer is "in ice", it's always "on ice") and several other stumbles.

Hard for me, didn't have fun, mad at myself.

Katzzz 10:49 AM  

I'm pretty liberal when it comes to language usage, but trooper instead of trouper is wrong. Just dumb to allow it in NYT Xword.

Martel Moopsbane 10:56 AM  

Any LENIN-themed carnival attraction would have to be a ride involving revolution, like a carousel.

jberg 11:17 AM  

People are being far too kind. TROOPER is just wrong. Troopers are police officers (in some cases) and soldiers. A Trouper is a member of a troupe of actors, and a REAL TROUPER is someone who always upholds the "show must go on" tradition. lists "trooper" under "can be confused," not even alt. or var. Trust me, if we come to lose this distinction, civilization will end.

Aside from that, I mostly enjoyed it. Adele before BJORK, senior moment on BARTOK--I kept running through Austrian, rather than Hungarian composers.

I agree with the propoer names criticism, though. SE was a bear. I didn't know RICO CASEK, didn't know what the Bosstones played, and although I actually saw the movie, only knew Kylo REN from reading about it afterward -- I suppose his name was mentioned, but not so that I noticed. Fortunately, I had read it, and SKA was obviously a better choice than SyA as a music genre.

As @George_Barany kind of hints at, the point of identical clues such as 50A and 52A should be to point to very different meanings of the word. So after I reconciled myself to the misspelling and put in BLOAT, I was looking for some kind of fop or dude for 52A. It needed a lot of crosses to fix that one.

Those complaining that they didn't know ERTÉ -- better learn him, he will probably be back within the week.

Mikey from El Prado 11:27 AM  

Oh, the irony... Anyone who adult beverages at all knows that beer is put ON ice, and the only time I've ever heard the term gills was in reference to booze. So, because I couldn't get a beer stuck IN ice, I chose to have a gill of whiskey instead.

Bill C 11:30 AM  

Is one a.m. really an early hour? I typed in six, since that's the only three letter early hour I know of.

old timer 11:31 AM  

My dictionary says it's a "real trouper" too. But I think I've seen REAL TROOPER all my life. TROOPERS come to rescue the settlers from the injuns (and were usually from the 7th Cavalry). Troupers show up 6 nights a week, plus matinees Sundays and Wednesdays.

GILLS? Anyone who spent enough time in an English pub knows they are a liquid measure, and by law every drink of hard liquor must be served in some fraction of a GILL, no less, no more. A serious drinker asks for a double.

IN ICE is correct. You fill the cooler with store-bought bags of ICE cubes and put the beer or soda IN it. "On ice" means you have bought a block of ice to keep your bacon and eggs (and maybe white wine) cool.

MACAO is how it was spelled when I was young. Confirmed by my 1940's Rand McNally.

Like OFL, I immediately thought of some roller coaster that was shut down in the War. But why would, say, the Cyclone at Coney Island be shipped to Siberia? The easy GERALDFORD, GILLS and INICE made LENINSTOMB obvious. My final answer was NO TAGBACKS. I had wanted to fit "no takebacks" in there, rebus style.

A very good puzzle and gettable, for a Friday. I did Google for Mr. Ocasek, and to confirm it was Simon LEBON. I never would have come up with TICS as "motor problems"

JBT 11:33 AM  

I have to agree with the IN ICE comment. That is a nonstarter and should have been changed. For a bit I thought ATILT (4 down, Not straight up) could also be ON ICE. I was hoping for an ice theme for a moment.

My other pet peeve is 9 down. The clue says "They're marked with X's". This is poor cluing. The X is not possesive it is plural. Lose the apostrophe.

old timer 11:35 AM  

Forgot to say that EMBANK is the usual word for such things. Where I live, our creek was EMBANKed decades ago to stop seasonal floods downtown. Not enough, though -- they ended up damming the creek upstream and creating a combinatiion park and flood control area. In really wet winters the most-used aspects of the park are underwater for a few days.

demit 11:37 AM  

A trooper might troop along, and that's nice, but a "real trouper" is a member of a show troupe, dedicated to the principle that, no matter what, the show must go on. Boo on the NYT.

Joseph Michael 11:46 AM  

This did not come easily, but I enjoyed most of it. Especially liked WHAT A JERK, HOT MESS, REAL TROOPER, WAXES POETIC, and LENIN'S TOMB.

Hated A-PIE, perhaps my least favorite answer so far this year. Would have preferred fewer names in the puzzle as well, though most could be sussed from the crosses.

Count me in as a victim of GOLLS and beer that would never be IN ice, always ON it.

Stupefying Jones 11:47 AM  

My cocktail measuring device displays a gill right between a snit and a split.

Saw Ric Ocasek years ago riding an escalator in the Poughkeepsie Galleria of all places. Before I realized who he was I said to husband, Look at that poor woman. She looks just like Joey Ramone. Whoops!

Anonymous 11:48 AM  

Problematic motors don't TIC they TICK. As in they make a TICKing noise. Were they to TIC your whole damn car would shudder with spasms. Hey Damon G. get a dictionary.

Anonymous 11:49 AM  

When I lived outside Ithaca in a big farm house with other grad students we had a crate of beer stored out on the back porch. We had forgotten it was there when the temperature dropped and we had an early fall snow storm. The beer covered IN snow, became ICE. Since we were frugal we tried to see if it was salvageable when it thawed. I would recommend thawed beer.

Anonymous 11:57 AM  

Had what nerve for what a jerk.had scrabble for altho I knew lenin's tomb and Desdemona this puzzle was too hard for the likes of me.

OISK 12:14 PM  

@aliasZ has it right. A DNF for me- these pop culture infused pure guesses seem to come in waves. After nearly a month without an error, I've had three one square DNF in the past week. Ricocasek has appeared before, but there is no reason I would remember it, him, her...and the down clue was Kylo___. So I had R__N, and Cas___K. The choice was Rin and Ocasic, or Ren and O casek. And I guessed wrong, because I thought that REN could be clued more simply, but RIN could not. But look at all the pop-rock cluing here. Debi Mazar, and Kylo Ren. (and Erica, but that is easy enough,although I never watched any daytime soaps) And in the music (?) genre we have Bjork(??) RocoCasek, SKA, (clued with "Mighty Bostonians"??? A "Brown eyed girl" (??) clue, Duran Duran, (who lost to Leanard, Leanard?) Just too much. I should be pleased with only one error. But I'm just annoyed. No tag backs??


OISK 12:15 PM  

Note: I will be in Salt Lake City for the next couple of weeks, starting Tuesday. It is easier to get the puzzle (on paper) in Paris, Vienna or Prague than it is in Utah!

orangeblossomspecial 12:24 PM  

Which portion of Lenin did they leave in Moscow -- the head, torso, feet? Perhaps only the beard.

Lewis 12:25 PM  

I learned that CHA is Chinese for tea and that a GILL is a half cup -- who knew? Me now.

As clued, there were 11 answers not in my consciousness (one of them, i.e., MANICOTTI, which I've heard of but didn't know its Italian meaning), and that was too much of a handicap, so I employed the least help I could (three lookups), making this a very enjoyable solve. Answers that appealed include MANICOTTI, LENINSTOMB,HARPY, and WAXESPOETIC, and I got a kick out of the clue for PET. I like BLOAT and FATTEN next to each other.

Friday level work that gave me my fix. Thank you Damon!

Tita 12:48 PM  

I agree with Rex about the fill/clues, but it was high-ppp challenging for me, and therefore not a very fun solve.

I did like seeing "flowery language" after yesterday's reference to the language of flowers.

I did know Don LARSEN, only because back in my Yankee-obsessed youth, I learned that he pitched that perfect World Series game exactly one week after I was born. That meaningless coincidence made it memorable enough that it remains to this day as a factoid I can rattle off at the drop of a hat. Useful only in xwords and maybe Jeopardy.
"I'll take Random Baseball Facts from when Baseball was Fun and Affordable" for $2,000, Alex."

Thanks, Mr. G., in spite of the trivia-fest.

Manicotti and Amigos 12:52 PM  

themelessthUmbsUp. Worked it tag-team with PuzEatinSpouse. A good time was had by all.

@muse: HWBM seeking SWM owning grain and seed store. Please describe store. har. My fave entry was FATTEN.
Cooler clue: {Bo Derek after letting herself go}. Runtpuz seed entry.

@indie009: LENINSWING and a STALINMISS. Got lucky and coffin-nailed that puppy off just the IN.

Masked & Anonymo1U

puzzle hoarder 1:00 PM  

Great puzzle in spite of a GOLLS/ONICE DNF. TROOPER/TROUPER? There's no point in knowing the rules if they don't play by them. How else would you get a non-phrase like IN ICE.
GILL is the real oversight for me. My Webster's weights and measures table is highly neglected. Only minim has been both underlined and dated. Studying these things seems like cheating in advance. Once I've seen it in a puzzle though it becomes grist for the hoard.

Wm. C. 2:26 PM  

@Anon11:48, et. Al. ---

Automobile motors may TICK while cooling down, but a human with motor problems may be the victim of involuntary TICs.

Carola 2:41 PM  

@Anon 11:48, re: TIC - I took "motor" here to refer to muscles, as in the phrase "small motor skills."

Anonymous 3:07 PM  

Anon 11:48 TIC refers to the motor skills/function of your body, not of your car (which has an engine by the way, not a motor (unless you drive an electric car, or have specific concerns about your starter motor)).

Sheryl 3:23 PM  

This puzzle contained way too many proper names from pop culture - music, sports, TV, film - that I don't know and don't care to learn. Plus one or two esoteric geographical names on top of that. I did not like this puzzle, did not enjoy solving it, and DNF.

kitshef 3:51 PM  

@Anon at 11:48. Think a problem with ones motor skills (twitch aka TIC).

Tita 4:05 PM  

Wanted to say that I love Rex's description of his journey through 34A...
Hilarious! And just how I felt...till I realized it had to be something of national import that needed protection.

Chaos344 4:28 PM  

Wow! The blog is really fun today. I'm lovin the cat fight between the TROOP/TROUPE GROUP and the INICE/ONICE MICE. I won't claim that I know the definite answer to either conundrum, but I would like to add my two cents to the opinions expressed up till now.

The second post by @Z to @Jon88 makes the best case for TROUPE/TROOP having the same meaning and his comment wins first prize for hilarity with the phrase "Tweedy Pop Prescriptivists" and his assurance that "No word was harmed in the making of this idiom."

OTOH, @jberg makes the most compelling argument that TROOPER is just plain wrong!

As for the ONICE/INICE imbroglio, I will agree that there is a certain ambiguity in both usages. While the phrase "put the beer on ice" will be used much more often than "put the beer in ice" the later is probably more correct in terms of the actual process. I'm going to side with @old timer at 11:31 AM. If you are going to "ice down" any amount of beverages, this is how it usually occurs. With a large cooler, you put a layer of ice on the bottom. Then you place as many cans/bottles (on their side) as you can fit on top of that ice. When you've done that,you add another layer of ice to cover those containers. This process is repeated until you run out of ice, beverage, or cooler space. If you're not using this process, you're not properly maximizing your ice or cooler capacity. Just Sayin!

@Anonymous 11:48 AM LMAO! Gives a whole new meaning to Pontiac's beloved GTO. Instead of Gran Turismo Omologato, we would have Gran Tourette's Omologato. The catch phrase could have been something like. "Pontiac GTO, Its Real Quick But Its Got A Tic!" (Cue the PC police entry theme!)

@Anonymous 11:49 Did you accidentally omit the word "NOT" in your last sentence? I understand that you had recently graduated from college and were still in "frugal" mode, but if you recommend thawed beer, your tuition was wasted!

@OISK: They syndicate the NYT crossword puzzle in the Salt Lake City newspaper. I believe it is call the Mormon Tabernacle Crier?

Chaos344 4:35 PM  

@OISK: OOPS! My mistake sir. The correct name of that Salt Lake City newspaper is the Mormon Tabernacle EnCHOIRer. I believe the editor is BringEm Young!

Z 4:53 PM  

I'm sorry IN ICE defenders, but if you show up to a party with a cooler of beer and say "I brought some beer IN ICE," you are immediately getting cut off because everyone will think you're a REAL drunk TROOPER.

Get Over It 5:36 PM  

Rex, check out the version of "Johnny and Mary" by Todd There with Bryan Ferry.

Mohair Sam 6:37 PM  

Some really clever cluing and tough-for-us PPP led to a dnf in this house today. Much of it filled, but we were simply overwhelmed. HARPY, TAXON new to us. We were able to WAXPOETIC but MIENS never came to us and with TAXON we were defeated in the NE.

Fan of both Duran Duran and The Cars music, but if your group formed after 1970 and did not include your front man's moniker in your name I'll not know him (Bono excepted). Never watched soaps (ERICA) - and placed Titicaca in Africa, tough one. Oh well, sometimes you get the PPP (Don LARSEN, Wayne GRETZKY, DESDEMONA), and sometimes the PPP gets you.

Listen @Will Shortz, I've read two Harry Potter books to keep up with the puzzles (same book twice, imo). I've read all five "Game of Thrones" books just to keep up (four outta five well worth the effort btw). But I flatly refuse to sign up for HBO to learn the endless actor and character clues the NYT requires for "Entourage." I think I speak for more than a few here.

Larry 10:51 PM  

TROOPER = 10-4
TROUPER = actor/dancer

Otherwise you would have a dance troop. And I don't think anyone wants that.

Anonymous 11:13 PM  

It's trouper, for heaven's sake. Doesn't anybody care any more? Will S., of all people? I'm really sad now.

In ice is fine. I've gotten a wet and cold hand many a time, reaching into that cooler full of freezing water and melting ice cubes that once surrounded the bottles, to pull out that last beer among the nasty not-diet sodas that nobody wanted. The bottles were definitely in ice at the start of the party.

Anonymous 11:14 PM  

@Anonymous 3:07 PM I would be hard to go motoring in your old crank car since according to you it has no motor. Motors move things: electric, gasoline, muscle, etc.

Z 12:57 AM  

@Larry - Don't be so sure.

Leapfinger 1:53 AM  

Björk Guðmundsdóttir. Reason enough to go by a single name. Pavlova danced the Dying Swan, and after it was dead, Bjork wore it.

Thought 'Not straight up' a neat clue, so I had ON ICE there, and again for the beer clue. Guess what? Both wrong.

WHAT A JERK describes perfectly each of the the TICS I experienced in almost every section, starting with 1D, which could've been White/Black/Asian/Pacific Islander Married/Single/Divorced/Widowed Male/Female/Bi/LGBT/Undecided/NC resident. Pologies for categories omitted, but that's 96 possible combinations already.

Published was OUT before RAN
Turned up was AROSE before ONEND
Swell was SUPER before BLOAT
And my blue was CYAN, of course, it being Friday...

Usually, I'm not as focused on the PPP concept as some others, but today they seemed to alternate between the truly unknown and the ones masquerading behind obtuse clues used as a MIENS to FUEL us.

I think we've danced around the TROOPER/TROUPER issue enough, but I'd like to add another note: Much as I appreciate the OPIniONEERs' thoughts about Tweedy Pop Prescriptivists, I'm concerned about the Spandex Mom Descriptivists' taking hold too much. What's the point of polishing the perfect phrase when you WAX POETIC or even when you WANE PROSAIC if your audience is used to lumping all sorts of similar words together? Words carry the most weight when they make distinctions.

So for a number of reasons, I didn't enjoy this the way I wanted.

PS: I thought the 6D and 8D clues elegantly paired to point 8D at a non-musical artist, and also thought of the Hermitage at 34A. The LENINgrad Madonnas, you know; a very good book.

Hi @GILL!!

Unknown 3:08 AM  

Started out with BLAH, then LA PAZ and HARPY. Was I the only one who initially put in ADAMS for "Smart" guy?

Jane Thorne 12:20 PM  

Apostrophes do not indicate plurals except for numbers (1940's) and letters (Oakland A's). So "marking X's" is okay.

More Whit 1:30 PM  

Never heard anyone say: "hey, put this beer in ice"...unless we were at a Buffett concert in which case it could've been "through ice" or "over easy ice" or "Jell-O shots for ice"...

More Whit 2:05 PM  

Hey all you IN ICE aficionados: thanks so much for the tutorial on how to keep beer cool at a concert. Us ON ICE folks never knew all that folklore...whilst I wax sarcastic let me point out something using your own words: if you place beer on a layer of ice then it is now ON ICE. Crikey. All in good fun and had many laughs over this...can't wait for next Buffett concert!!

xyz 2:40 PM  

No Googles or help, just a guessing game gave me - TWO letters wrong, took me a while, maybe an hour but IN/ON ICE and A-PIE, damn I should have figured that one out.

OK puzzle with a couple of messy bits, but it's Friday, the hardest I regularly do. I want to get comfy with FRIDAY before startingdoing every Saturday.

Thanks again to this blog.

Burma Shave 9:45 AM  


LETS that STAR HARPY still work.


rondo 10:36 AM  

EMBANK is a very real word, especially in the road building game where we use terms like excavation and EMBANKment all the time. If that’s the biggest complaint, LETS OVATE after we STOOD. One w/o at that pesky oNICE area, but remembered GILLS as a measure and not fish parts or Vince’s family.

All those names, which were gimmes BTW, saved this puz from being a HOTMESS for me. They are so very common that if you don’t know the majority of ‘em, well, I pity the fact that you’ve been so isolated. You really need to expand your horizon. Pat on the back that RIC OCASIK is or was married to SI swimsuit model and yeah baby Paulina Poritzkova. Now there’s beauty and the beast. DEBI Mazar a combo of b & the b depending on the light. But I would OGLE Wayne GRETZKY’s yeah baby daughter, she must have got it from mom Janet. Björk a yeah baby, but in a weird Icelandic way. Name means “birch” in all Norse languages BTW.

I’ve been to LENINSTOMB, a must-see in Red Square.

Simon LEBON is or was a yeah baby for the gals, at least for the missus, especially when we saw Duran Duran from 10 feet away in a small Mpls club several years ago as they were brushing off the rust before hitting arenas. There, the occasional one for the ladies.

Owned both a 1958 TBIRD and a 1998 TBIRD. Loved that ’98 to death, just like my women, fast and good-looking. Maybe pre-’58 an alt to Vettes, not really after that. So it is with TBIRDS.

SKINFLICKS is just fun to say and this puz fun to do. And no SHOCKS. Enjoy the long 4th weekend. I’m starting today since I’ve only had an occasional Sat or Sun off since Prez Day back in Feb. Biking the Gandy Dancer today (hello @teedMN), hopefully to some AVAIL.

spacecraft 12:50 PM  

For me, medium leaning strongly toward challenging. The trouble started in the NW (again!) with--natch, since I live here--VEGAS. If that ain't a gambling mecca...but then, so is MACAO. Couldn't make sense there, so went the good old "opposite dir." to SSE, where the double gimmes RICOCASEK and DESDEMONA awaited. Radiated out from there and wound up "back home" in the NW. Feared a DNF for a while before trying BARTOK, which forced the change to MACAO. Then suddenly I remembered MANICOTTI and the game was up.

Very name-y, but interesting, hard enough to provide a triumph factor, and with minimal fill SHOCKS. Solid birdie. Today I'll defer to @rondo for the D'sOD. Though I should mention that ERICA--just the name ERICA--evokes sexiness. Maybe it's because it's only one letter from EROICA, and two from EROTICA...okay, I'll add that Susan Lucci is a very well preserved DOD. ETON blue??? WHATA clue!

Sailor 1:06 PM  

Well, I'm among the many who wanted "trouper" at 23D, but in doing some research on the question, I learned that I had an incomplete understanding of the meaning of "punk out." I thought it meant simply to give up, but apparently the phrase originally had the specific meaning of backing down from a threat. That being so, I concede that REALTROOPER is correct as clued.

Diana,LIW 1:49 PM  

Shout out to the troups - everyone knows its OVER ice. Yeah, do that to your beer.

I learned some new words - no, not the ones Mr. W says to his computer. Those words don't show up in puzzles.

New to me:

ETON blue - looked it up - like it
GILLS - new way of being drunk to the gills
Lake Titicaca - What? Not in BS's poem? Talk about a gimme.
Cap-A-Pie - from French, Pied a Cap - the "English" version - BLAH
CHA vs. Chai
the true meaning of MANICOTTI
Forgot the PIONEERS didn't start with Oh - Oh no.

Was surprised, though, that some hadn't heard of AME or ERTE. ERTE is right up there with etui and Esme in the crossworld.

A live and learn Friday.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords, and got some new ones

rain forest 2:34 PM  

This was medium+ for me, mostly because I entered 'teal'for the blue-tending-to-green, and took a looong time sorting that out. ETON? Who knew?

Trouper over trooper in the sense of the puzzle, surely, or maybe you don't like to be called Shirley.

Some gimmes helped here: GILLS, RIC OCASEK, ERTE, maybe a couple others. Never heard of the trilogy or OPIONEERS, but the other two entries of that triple stack took care of it.

I'm with @old timer on the IN ICE question, and was prepared to go through the description myself. Thus, one might SAY "on ice", but what you DO is to put the beer (or Sauvignon Blanc) IN ICE. QED

leftcoastTAM 3:03 PM  

PPP content too much for me. Punked out early. Guess that's because:

1. Too old, at least for this one.

2. It's not at all in my wheelhouse.

3. I'm not enough of a REALTROOPER?

On that last one, I really hope not. Like Arnold said, I'll be back.

Longbeachlee 4:59 PM  

Is it a DNF if you really meant Rico Casek?

Diana,LIW 9:40 PM  

I'm gonna guess, @Longbeach, that it depends on whether Mr. Casek is a racketeer.


Lady Di

crlarsen35 11:06 AM  

Hot mess? hawed? Proper Nouns up to the eyebrows? Weak! Maybe OK for someone who listens to what passes for music these days. Breaks every rule in the book that I grew up with, don't mind phrases but too many obscure (to me) names of pop culture types. No fun.

Blogger 6:22 PM  

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