Longtime NBC newsman Roger / MON 5-30-16 / Showtime's serial killer protagonist familiarly / Lover of Tristan in legend

Monday, May 30, 2016

Constructor: David Woolf

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: TOSSED SALAD (62A: Common first course ... or what's literally contained in 17-, 23-, 32-, 44- and 49-Across) — circled squares in the theme answers contain are scrambled versions of the word "SALAD"

Theme answers:
  • PIÑA COLADAS (17A: Tropical drinks often served with umbrellas)
  • SALSA DANCING (23A: Spicy ballroom activity?) 
  • DEAD LAST (32A: Finishing eighth out of eight, say)
  • ROAD SALT (44A: Application to highways before a winter storm)
  • DOUGLAS ADAMS (49A: "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" author) 
Word of the Day: "RED" (61A: 2012 #1 album for Taylor Swift) —
Red is the fourth studio album by American singer-songwriter Taylor Swift. It was released on October 22, 2012, by Big Machine Records, as the follow-up to her third studio album, Speak Now. The album title was inspired by the "semi-toxic relationships" that Swift experienced during the process of conceiving this album, which Swift described the emotions she felt as "red emotions" due to their intense and tumultuous nature. Red touches on Swift's signature themes of love and heartbreak, however, from a more mature perspective while exploring other themes such as fame and the pressure of being in the limelight. The album features collaborations with producers and guest artists such as Gary Lightbody of Snow Patrol and Ed Sheeran and is noted for Swift's experimentation with new musical genres. Swift completed The Red Tour in support of the album on June 12, 2014, which became the highest-grossing tour of all time by a country artist, grossing over $150 million. (wikipedia)
• • •

Mixed feelings. The theme is so hackneyed that I'm stunned it hasn't been done before. Cursory look through the cruciverb database doesn't turn up anything, though, so ... it's simultaneously original and old-as-dirt. But who cares? I didn't even see the theme. How could I? The puzzle was (until the very very very end) so easy I didn't have time to think about what was going on in those circled squares, or much of anything beyond the nice long Downs. And the fill was smooth enough, and grimace-free enough, that it didn't call attention to itself in either a bad or good way. It just flew by. Short fill is dull in parts, but not ugly. I don't like that the tossed "salad"s are not all broken across two words; PIÑA COLADAS is a yucky outlier in this regard. Should've been chucked. Boo. But overall, the puzzle was fine. I like how timely the puzzle is—at least for me, personally. As I write this, I am at the end of a Very LAZY SUNDAY (29D: Relaxing time after church, say), with a G&T in my rearview mirror and homemade mint chip ice cream (with mint from the garden) waiting for me when I'm through here. Hiked in the woods with dogs much earlier in the day, but the rest of the time I spent organizing my comic collection (which I'd let get disgustingly disorganized over a period of many years) and listening to music. If it were a tad less, uh, sweaty, today would've been perfect.

I thought I was gonna come close to my Monday NYT record solving time (which ... I actually don't remember, though I think it's 2:36. I've been faster on other easy puzzles, but not the NYT). And I would've gotten it, too, if it weren't for those meddling kids, by which I mean a Taylor Swift album name I totally blanked on and a "Longtime newsman" whose name I am never going to remember no matter how many times I see it in puzzles. Roger O'NEIL? Sure, why not? Not in my time, but great—his name crossing "RED" meant a hiccup of untold seconds, resulting in a final time of 2:45, which is still fast, but ... it's infinity far from from 2:36, in my experience. I see 2:40s a lot. I see 2:30s virtually never. I have dumb fat clumsy fingers, too, which ... don't do me any favors.

That's all. Stay authentic, colloquially! See you tomorrow.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


jae 12:28 AM  

Top half very easy, bottom half tougher so medium for me. Knew ONEIL did not know RED and had to dig a bit to come up with DOUGLAS (I did know ADAMS but for some odd reason I keep wanting a double letter somewhere in that name).

What @Rex said, liked it.

George Barany 12:28 AM  

Right, @Rex, of all the ways to clue RED, it has to be an album name crossing a TV newsman. The eventual TOSSED_SALAD reveal in @David Woolf's puzzle became obvious early in the solve, and may have incrementally contributed to the overall Monday-esque experience. Nicely done!

With some friends, we've cobbled together a politically themed puzzle entitled 56-Downed-Up Charges that we hope provides a nice Memorial Day diversion to like-minded @Rex-ites.

Unknown 1:21 AM  

Infinity far? Is that a thing or the G&T talking :)
I'm surprised it hasn't been done too. I actually screen shot it for a friend who I just taught about revealers, with the tag line, "a classic theme revealer"

Androniyes 4:50 AM  

What is the Alan/Robert Alda connection to this puzzle?

aging soprano 5:14 AM  

Oh, Rex, I wish you could come here on some lazy Sabbath and organize my photos, music, or any of the other disgustingly disorganized collections I have littering my house. No comics though.
This xword was indeed exceedingly easy. As soon as I wrote PINOCOLADA, I looked for the revealer and filled in TOSSEDSALAD. Also had to guess at the RED/ONEIL crossing but it sounded right. Also had eon before ERA but was aware that it could be either one. Don't know what a KOA is, or an RV for that matter. Can someone illuminate this for me?

Loren Muse Smith 5:53 AM  

Rex – I don't solve as quickly as you, so when ROAD SALT fell very, very early, I saw the theme immediately and even looked at 62A and even wrote in TOSSED SALAD without looking at the clue because I'm just that incredibly smart. (Ok. I did write in TOSSED SALAD, but not so sure about the smart part. Ask a couple of Rexites here how I stink it up on Trivia Crack.)

And I had the same thought – boy I bet some people will complain because this has been done a lot. It's crossed my mind before when thinking of good anagram reveals, but I never, ever considered even looking to see how many bajillion times it's been done. So, cool that it hasn't.

I think I've brought this up here before – this whole word-final F that turns to V when the word is inflected with an S confuses me. LOAF is weird because when it's a verb, it's LOAFS, but when it's the joyless Nickels 35 Light whose toast is a bright spot of my morning anyway, it's loaves. Huh. So you could argue that They're both big goofs but John, especially, gooves off on lazy Sundays.

In Charleston, our neighbor adopted an adult male shelter Mastiff – E. Nor. Mous. And his name was OSAMA bin Laden. I love giant dogs, but that guy scared the bejeezus out of me.

FWIW, I recently kept hearing Jonathan Waxman talk about how much he prefers a composed salad, so I investigated just what that was. I've decided I'm going to like them better, too, and have been doing my level best to work the phrase into conversations so others can run home and look it up. I'm imagining the day I can frown at the waiter over my menu and say I don't see any composed salads here. Sigh. I'll just have the Sole Amandine. It's my plan not to be too haughty.

So speaking of being a shameless snob, my son's girlfriend, Jo, is visiting for the weekend, and, both former waitresses, we were comparing notes. This irrepressible, powerful urge takes over me sometimes when I meet people, and I'm desperate to let them know just how cool and sophisticated I am. And the things offer up vary depending on my (startled?) victim. With Janet the bus driver who could back up an 18-wheeler, I had to let her know I had changed a station wagon tire in the '80s and picked up a snake I had never met before once on a walk in the woods. With Jo I had to let her know that I understand that people who order PIÑA COLADAS before dinner don't know the deal and never tip well. Then I fretted the rest of the day, worrying that she herself might order a Piña Colada before dinner and that actually lovely, big-tipping people order them before dinner and maybe I should back-pedal a bit but then maybe she already sees right through me. Funny. You always think you want people to get to know you until you're terrified they'll get to Know you.

Hey, Mr. Woolf nice job. You and all your fellow Woolves have an enjoyable Memorial Day. I somehow have this urge to watch Zoe Saldana in Drum Line.

Anonymous 6:22 AM  

Since when is an ERA a Long, long time? That would be an EON

Lewis 6:24 AM  

The theme helped my solve, because after filling in a couple of theme answers, I slapped in the reveal, which had no letters filled in. Answers that appealed to me were DELUGE, SATYR, LAZY_SUNDAY and DEAD_LAST (a finish I'm hoping for a certain LOUD someone in November). I like having KOA and KIA in the same puzzle, and I see the puzzle has high MARX. There's also a backward DER to echo yesterday's puzzle.

This managed to be easy without insulting my intelligence, which makes for a good Monday. I think it will serve puzzle newcomers well. Nice one!

Z 6:58 AM  

Apologies to the anonymous poster yesterday who doesn't know what "PPP" stands for. Once upon a time it meant "Post Puzzle Puzzler" until someone complained. People get upset about the strangest things.

Pop Culture, Product Name, and Pop Culture Analysis

26/78, 33.3333333%. Right at the Line of Problem Inducing PPP. Easy for Rex, but if you're new to puzzles there is enough PPP to cause issues.

Groucho and Harpo MARX
Tristan and ISOLDE
DOMAINs from GoDaddy
EDO Period
Rococo and Post Modern STYLES
UMA Thurman
ANNE Boleyn, Brontë
RED from Taylor Swift (really?)
KIA Optima and Sorrento (but not Lorenzo)
SWAN from The Ugly Duckling

MAPs from Rand McNally
AVIA shoes
The Oracle of OMAHA
OSAMA bin Laden
OTTO von Bismarck
Roger O'Neil
Tiny TIM

Most of the PPP has to be PPP, but there are five answers that did not have to be PPP. The difference between 21/78 and 26/78 can be significant.

@Chaos344 - Your musings yesterday reminded me of the lesson I learned while going through breathing classes with my wife before our first son was born: There is a wide range of normal.

chefbea 7:47 AM  

What's not to like. Saw all the tossed salads right away.
Enjoy your memorial day all!!!

RooMonster 7:49 AM  

Hey All !
Easy peasy. Got ROADSALT as first themer, looked at the shaded squares (NYT online puz thingy usually has shaded squares) and said, "Huh, TOSSED SALAD." Went to revealer, and sure 'nuff. Liked that there was 5 themers and a revealer, with very little dreck. My only nit is clue for ERA. Technically an ERA can be a long time, but Eon fits that clue 100% better.

YesterPuz kicked my butt. Not sure why I couldn't seem to get a solve-flow going, but eventually gave up. Didn't even come here to check it out...

Liked this puzs almost pangram.


Rabi Abonour 8:20 AM  

Reiterating a previous comment, that clue for ERA strikes me as a mistake. But I was happy to see DOUGLAS ADAMS in the puzzle.

Why does this theme type even exist? Does anyone enjoy it?

Alexander 8:30 AM  

RV is a recreational vehicle (think camper van, or a less permanent mobile home). I had never heard of KOA before, apparently it's Kampgrounds of America, a private campground organization.

Jlb 8:37 AM  

For @agong soprano. An RV Is a Recreational Vehicle. It may be a big fancy motorhome, a little non-fancy motorhome, a towable (trailer) or even a van conversion. KOA is Kampgrounds of America, a chain of campgrounds. I know these
things because I am an aging former RVer ans frequenter of KOAs. I still miss it!

Nancy 8:50 AM  

I wondered, en route to the revealer, whether it would be TOSSED SALAD or MIXED SALAD. Other than that, a breeze. Well, with one exception -- I have no idea what KOA is.

Thought for the day: I would rather have a LAZY SUNDAY than paint a fence with GREEN PAINT.

Anonymous 8:56 AM  

I'm surprised that only one anonymous commenter so far and not Rex has noted that the clue for 63 down is flat out incorrect. It is clued for crosswordese "EON" but instead we got crosswordese "ERA". Think that was a last minute change? in any event, I sure that threw off a lot of novices who may actually have tried to guess the word from the clue instead of racing through on the acrosses.

K9doc 9:00 AM  

@andrew tarr: Aldas is an anagram of salad

Anonymous 9:07 AM  

@Tarr - You're asking about the ALDAS?

mac 9:36 AM  

Very easy with an easy to pick up theme, but I liked how the theme answers were in the middle,
like in a big salad bowl.

Agree with the eon/era issue, and KOA is new to me (I do not like acronyms), and misspelled.
Road salt seems like green paint alright. In CT they now brine the roads before the snow starts, when it stops they sprinkle a mix of sand and salt. Road salt, I guess.

Ben Smith 9:36 AM  

I was surprised LAZY SUNDAY wasn't a reference to the (now) classic SNL Digital Short

Lobster11 9:48 AM  

Finally getting around to responding to @Chaos' three-part post from yesterday, in (one of) which I was prominently if unflatteringly featured. (I understand that no offense was intended, and none was taken.)

Anyway, @Nancy's late post last night largely captured most of what I was going to say: Your tier system -- which implies a hierarchy that I don't belong to -- omits a distinct category/type of solver: those of us who solve purely for pleasure, without trying to compete against anybody else or even with ourselves. I'm neither a master nor a wannabe. Thursday through Sunday I print the puzzle and sit out on my back porch to relax with the puzzle and my coffee; sometimes in the late afternoon I print one from the archives and sit on the porch with the puzzle and a tequila (100% agave, of course, on the rocks.) My enjoyment comes mainly from sussing out clever clues and themes, and testing my memory for vocabulary and proper names that I once knew or feel like I should know. I enjoy learning new words and proper names that have some utility outside of crosswords, but take no pleasure in learning crosswordese that is useful only for solving crossword puzzles. Ergo, I get frustrated when the only thing standing between me and a completed puzzle is a handful of crosswordese answers crossing each other at uninferrable letters. The puzzles I like the most are the ones that manage to be challenging without resorting to arcane trivia or rarely used words that happen to have crossword-friendly letters. And those puzzles are pretty rare, so I gripe a lot.

chefbea 9:56 AM  

@Nancy KOA=Kampgrounds of America

Teedmn 10:07 AM  

As a pescatarian, I eat a lot of TOSSED SALADS, so this was an enjoyable puzzle today, right at my Monday average of 6:30. I saw the shaded squares last night when I went to print out the puzzle but they didn't print out on my sheet so this morning I had to work a slight amount to relate the theme to the theme answers. Fun to circle the salads. (And if I never have to eat another over-dressed Caesar salad again, it will be too soon)!

Last night my friends and I were discussing different elements of Douglas Adams' oeuvre - we all remembered different parts of the books but all agreed they are hilarious. My favorite vignette is the lorry driver who didn't know that he was actually a rain god, which would explain why it was always raining in his vicinity. Whenever he phoned his wife to let her know he would be home soon, she would run out to bring the clothes in off the line. Funny stuff!

I did not have to go over hill and DALE to get an internet signal today! Thanks for the nice Memorial Day puzzle, DW.

AliasZ 10:25 AM  

Cute little theme, made easier by the commonality of the letters in SALAD. No matter how you toss them, they lanDASALikely theme candidate. I agree, VIDAL SASSOON or something like it would have been better than PIÑA COLADAS, although I wouldn't mind sipping one on the beach today. I meant a piña colada, of course.

The puzzle didn't start auspiciously with Karl MARX at 1A, then Karl ROVE further down, but I enjoyed TAR crossing SALT, although it wasn't sea salt. OTT and OTTO, not so much.

I always thought it was a meat cleaver, but I'm no butcher, except of the English language at times. Which made me wonder how long before they'll charge ME A TAX for breathing the air.

What are the chances of a "tossed cookie" theme in our future? Toss a coin.

Have a pleasant Memorial Day, and remember the fallen.

old timer 10:29 AM  

11 minutes for me. An Easy Monday time would be 6. But I could not come up with SALSA so I actually made use of theTOSSED SALAD and realized I had a choice between "sasla" and SALSA; thus the puzzle was done. RED was a WOE too, but easily guessed.

Joseph Michael 10:35 AM  

Got the theme within the first minute of solving and thought "Oh, no. No. It can't really be this again...can it?"

Yet there it was. Another SO-SO TOSSED SALAD. Made by SLY Mel OTT from EDEN after arriving at the KOA in his KIA.

Please pass the MEAT AX.

Mohair Sam 10:53 AM  

@LMS - And haven't we all been there with your PINA COLADA predicament. I'm going to commit to memory your thought that "You always think you want people to get to know you until you're terrified they'll get to Know you." Great stuff.

@Nancy - KOA. Hot damn, they're Kampgrounds of America. They have roughly 500 locations, but I doubt you'll find one near Central Park. Gotta get off that little island of yours now and then.

Fun little Monday, like Rex and lots of others here I'm surprised that no constructor has ever thought to toss the SALAD before.

Mohair Sam 11:05 AM  

@anon 6:22 AM - You asked since when is an ERA a long, long time? In January 2017 we will begin either the Trump ERA or the Hillary ERA. Need I say more?

Steve I 11:07 AM  

Aldas - salad

jberg 11:27 AM  

OK, we've got EEL and ELL, KIA and KOA, OTT and OTTO, OSAMA and OMAHA (with OBAMA in the clues) -- this is the comfort food of puzzles.

What did one part of my phone bill say to the other? "You a fee -- ME A TAX!"

The trouble with the theme is the revealer -- you know what it's going to be before you come to it, so you don't get that little thrill of recognizing how neat it is.

If a vow is like an oath, then AVow means 'swear.' AVER does not. Here in Massachusetts they ask you in court if you want to swear or affirm; I associate AVER with the latter.

But it was fun and fast, and at least OTTO did not require guessing a number.

@Loren -- Trivia Crack? Is that what they're smoking these days?

jberg 11:32 AM  

@aketi from yesterday -- responding to my comment from the day before! Yes, rose hip tea is a thing -- but the clue specified a tea made from petals.I guess I'll try it once my rosebush blooms!

Mohair Sam 12:26 PM  

@Lobster11 and @Nancy (from yesterday) - Nicely put.

chasklu 12:29 PM  

The theme saved me from ROCKSALT, allowing me to get OSAMA and DAMNS.

Masked and Anonymous 12:45 PM  

Wow six courses of SALAD. Too bad the 5-squared SALAD bars couldn't be colored green.

M&A desperately searched for a replacement for PINACOLADAS (length=11) that would make @indie009 happier. Altho, then weeda missed out on a classic @muse related story. (yo, @muse: M&A can sure relate to this don't let em get to know yah too well theory of yers.)
"Top" LADAS Possibilities:
* ENCHILADAS. nope. Only 10 long.
* GLAD ASS NIGHT (and the Pips). day-um. 12 long.
* LADA SPUTNIK. Small Russian family car.

Thanx, Mr. Woolf. More fun than mixin veggies with a meat ax.

Masked & Anonymo3Us

alternate food chain:

Anonymous 12:48 PM  

It's noon already, and no reference yet to Chris Rock's "Tossed Salad" piece? Who'd have thunk 1000 random people had that level of decency.

Masked and Anonymous 1:19 PM  

@indie009: "mixed feelings". har. "Stay authentic, colloquially!" har2.
Primo writeup.

I kinda tapered off from addin much to the old comics collection, once Carl Barks retired.
Xmen and Avengers and superhero wars are ok, but need some Beagle Boys and towns called "Omelet", from time to time … to keep it tossed up.


Leapfinger 1:21 PM  

@Loren,I once had a discomposed SALAD. I just hated to disturb a piece.

Mastiffs can really be scary, but it was a couple of Afghan hounds that really worried me. One was called Yossarian, and he was infamous for eating large chunks of siding off a trailer. Not tearing them off and gnawing on the pieces, but actually ingesting them to leave not a trace behind. They talk about a cast-iron digestion, but his absorption with aluminum really concerned me. Especially after he started to glisten.

The second Afghan was a large black male that someone brought to a party. We weren't ever properly introduced, but he took an intense and unswerving interest in me. His owner and most of the guys at the party were gay, so maybe I was just an olfactory novelty, but blow me if it didn't look as if that damn dog was going to have me for dinner.

Anyway, a nice fresh Monday, and thanks for all the fish.

Unknown 1:27 PM  


Lurker Librarian 1:28 PM  

@anon 6:22 I was annoyed at first, too, but then I thought of geological eras. The Cenozoic has lasted for 66 million years, so I'd say that fits the clue.

I used to turn my up nose at the KOA crowd back in my younger DAZE of ROVE-ing about the prettier places in the West. Now that I'm OLDEN picky about my personal comfort, I understand the appeal. If I ever buy an RV, perhaps I can hire a driver named OTTO.

Chaos344 1:41 PM  

A bit late getting to the puzzle today, having just returned from participating in our town's annual Memorial Day ceremonies. Not really too much to add about the puzzle that hasn't already been said. It was pretty straight forward.

In regard to the late comments of yesterday and a few more today, vis-a-vis my lengthy Sunday post:

@jae: I wasn't surprised by your comment. You are kind of like my puzzle doppelganger, since our solves and critiques often mirror each other. We are close to the same age, so we've probably been doing puzzles for about the same length of time.

@Anonymous old timer said...

@Chaos, I was sorry not to be mentioned. But maybe *you* can explain what GLACE has to do with a candy apple.

Sorry old chap, but I couldn't mention every poster and it was not my intent to categorize anyone and everyone. Lobster and Nancy just happened to be the two that were the most grumpy about the PPP issue yesterday. Tomorrow it will be someone else. If you're still wondering about GLACE, it is simply a sugar coating. In the case of candy apples, that sugar base has lots of red food coloring as well. GLACE is pronounced GLAH-SAY, and the accent is on the second syllable.

@Nancy: Sorry if I touched a nerve, as that was not my intent. I had to laugh out loud that you thought hedonists should have their own category, since I consider myself the quintessential paradigm for hedonism. I think my picture should be next to the definition in the dictionary. I don't think hedonists rate a whole new category, but perhaps a subset of group three? Your point is valid, and you have every right to opt out of puzzle that you know you won't enjoy. My problem is that I'm also a Taurus. Once I start something, I'm too stubborn to quit, even if I'm getting really, really, pissed off! Come to think of it, I guess that makes me a masochist too? ;>)

@Z: I get your point regarding the "wide range of normal", but I'm not too sure how that relates to my musings? I wasn't trying to define what constitutes normal when it comes to how different people approach solving puzzles. I was just opining that there are four distinct groups. There may even be subsets of those groups, but I'm not qualified to go any deeper than I already have. LOL! BTW, did you ever learn how to breath? They have a Product for that now. They're called BreatheRite Strips. Hope JV brings his A game today?

@Lobster11: Well, I'm glad to hear you took no offense, but I kinda had the idea that you wouldn't. You don't seem like the type. My reply to Nancy pretty much covers your latest post as well. I totally understand your feelings regarding the "enjoyment factor." Kudos for having the good sense to have a fine tequila at hand in case the "aggravation factor" rears it's ugly head. If griping is cathartic for you, let er rip! :>)

Z 1:52 PM  

Three Letter E Words

EDO (make sure you scroll to definition 2 - coming to a Saturday puzzle near you)

xyz 2:42 PM  

Better than most doing this sort of thing

chefbea 3:57 PM  

Just remembered a great salad story. I had made a cobb salad for a party at my house. I carefully lined up on top of the greens avocados, chopped egg, chicken, some cheese, tomatoes and cucumbers. Looked beautiful. We were all watching a football game..waiting for dinner to be served. One of my guests came to me and said..."I hope you don't mind but I saw the salad on the table so I tossed it for you.!!!

Scott Thomas 8:00 PM  

Has anyone had this trouble with Across Lite?: After entering a letter, the cursor does not move to the next square. I have to arrow the cursor over to the next square. I have uninstalled and reinstalled the program, to no effect. What to do?

David G 10:44 PM  

Rex, you're a pain in the neck, but I got a real chuckle out of the ALDAS. Kudos.

(OMG the anti-bot puzzle is salads too!)

kitshef 11:01 PM  

Solved as a themeless, and loved it.

Thank goodness "or Harpo" was added to the clue for 1A because OTHERWISE NOT A SOUL IN THE WORLD COULD HAVE FIGURED IT OUT.

Leapfinger 4:19 AM  

Nice to see so many had the explanation for KOA. That was one I knew, cuz I'd passed a lot of them on the road in the days I explored the beauties of the SW, pitching my little pop-up tent in Zion, Canyonlands and such. (You see, @Nancy, some Jews do camp!) One little-known fact that I think worth mentioning, however, is that their first corporate offices were in Los Angeles, so the name of the outfit originally was KOA-LA. They soon had to cut that down because it didn't go over well with the You-call-Eep!-to-us crowd.

Eats, shoots, leaves

Teedmn 12:47 PM  

Ah, @Leapfinger, thanks for not straining the KOA-LA tea of Mercy for the long, dark, tea-time of the soul!

Burma Shave 9:57 AM  


they KEEPITREAL close, never taking a SEAT.
After PINACOLADAS that SATYR DALE starts advancing,
one hand on SUE’s ASSET then ROVEs to her TEAT.


spacecraft 10:20 AM  

I have to laugh. Just for chucks I noted the time as I started this one. Went straight ahead without a hiccup until, doing acrosses in the SE at the very end, I wrote down ROam instead of ROVE, so lost the few seconds it took to write over those two letters. I looked at the clock.

It was 21 minutes later.

And he's talking about UNDER THREE minutes? IMPOSSIBLE! I don't believe it, and wouldn't even if I SAW it! I'd insist I'd been slipped some kind of time-altering drug.

Anyway, yes, ridiculously easy. As soon as I filled in the first gimme, made famous by Rupert Holmes and containing those final five shaded letters, the jig was up. "Oh OK, TOSSEDSALAD. That'll be the revealer." Even the pseudo-natick in the SW (I didn't know either of them, either) didn't slow me down. What else could go in there except an E? I also didn't know that LAZYSUNDAY was a thing or that there's a MEATAX in that butcher shop, but they went in smoothly.

DOD candidates abound. Several DIANAs, notably including the clue lady, plus the ubiquitous UMA. But have you seen the DOTUSes lately? They are growing up quite nicely, thank you. Take a bow, SASHA.

Even on a Monday--BTW, happy Fourth, Syndies!--I expect a few gray cells to be moved around. A walk in the park. Still, no DAMN!S in the fill, so...SOSO. Par.

rondo 11:17 AM  

Listen up Mr. Shortz and staff. I can live with the ERA / Eon dispute, either way probably OK. But that clue to the answer in the dead center of the puz is wrong, wrong, 100% wrong, wrong, wrong. TAR is not in a paver’s supply. There is not one ounce of TAR in any paved road, if there was, it would be most regrettable. TAR is distilled from wood or coal and might be used on a roof (probably not these days) or to seal a wooden ship (thus a sailor called a TAR). Creosote is the carcinogenic TAR they used to coat railroad ties. TAR is not the same as asphalt, which is a petroleum product and IS used in paving products. The La Brea TAR Pits is a misnomer because that goo is actually asphalt. If we’re actually interested in being accurate in cluing, TAR and paving should never, ever appear together in a clue, especially in the NYT xword. No matter decades of misuse of the word TAR, the clue is factually incorrect. Now do we understand about TAR???

ROADSALT is another matter and can be any of a number of chlorides, usually NaCl, which mixed with H20 (snow or ice) yields a bunch of HCl, hydrochloric acid, that eats up your steel car, which is NOT driving ALONG on TAR.

And the yeah babies abound today starting with omnipresent UMA Thurman, the town’s first cougar ANNE Bancroft in The Graduate, and all-time musical yeah baby DIANA Ross. Or @DIANA, LIW.

Got the TOSSEDSALAD gimmick after a little SALSADANCING, so not much drama to get to the finish. By my count this puz is LADED with 21 3-letter answers, that’s 27%, nearly as high as the PPP index, a lot even for Monday. But it’s a holiday even in syndiland, so enjoy it and KEEPITREAL just like the OLDEN DAZE.

rondo 11:31 AM  

Well then, I sorta timed myself in the 7 to 8 minute range, though that in itself ADDS nothing NOBLE to the solve. Maybe lost time circling so many potential yeah baby clues.

leftcoastTAM 12:54 PM  

Monday quick and easy, like good SALSADANCING, except for three hitches in the middle of the set:

Creep before CRAWL, octads(?) before OCTETS, and rocksalt before ROADSALT.

Still learning the spicy dance.

Wooody2004 2:44 PM  

My SALAD DAZE were in another ERA. I would come in DEADLAST in a SALSADANCING contest.

Question re: 41A. Why does KOAnan O'Brien pressure people into touching his nipple?

KEEPITREAL and have a Happy Fourth!

Sailor 3:10 PM  

At my house, we sort into loads of whites and colors. Colors go together even if they are pastels. Except light blue, which can occasionally go in with the whites. This line of thought actually went through my head until I noticed that it had to be DARKS because DOUGLASADAMS. I knew then that I needed more coffee.

I see that the real-time solvers are continuing the conversation on styles of solving that we last saw on a Sunday several weeks ago. I have to say that I'm completely in tune with @Lobster11's comments at 9:48 AM.

Most surprising to me today was that so many people have apparently never heard of KOA. Can we assume that these are people who travel only by flying between major metropolises? (Or would it be metropoles?) It is impossible to travel cross-country on the interstates in my region and remain unaware of the presence of KOA.

I hope you all have a happy and safe 4th.

rain forest 3:53 PM  

Yeah, dead easy, *except* when one is really obtuse as I was today. Right off PINA COLADAS, I saw SALAD, and went to the revealer and thought "mixed salad". Not long enough, so then it had to be "mixed greens", but of course that made no sense. Then came Tiny TIM, and boy did I feel stupid. So, yeah, dead easy...

So, @Rondo, have you ever seen those roadwork guys walking along a road with a lot of cracks in the pavement, holding a wand connected to a hose connected to a tank on the truck? Isn't it TAR they are spraying on/in those cracks? I'm pretty sure it is.

'Nother good one, @BS

Diana,LIW 4:56 PM  

Yesterday lox and cats. Today, I'm one with the puzzle.

Quick and perfect for a Monday. Inspires me to have a great salad tonight.

The KOA unawareness is just another example of something I've mentioned before - if you're not looking for "it" you may not see "it" even if "it" is everywhere. Like Nova lox.

Great TAR soliloquy, @Rondo. Isn't it funny how when something is very much in your wheelhouse you almost HAVE to correct a false notion?

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

leftcoastTAM 7:19 PM  

I'd like to second what @Sailor said about realtimer @Lobster11's post.

rondo 7:41 PM  

@rainy - Nope, not TAR, it is either an asphalt emulsion or depending on the operation, possibly a rubberized crack filler with no hint of acutal TAR. It can be a TAR look-alike and has mistakenly been called TAR for a hundred years or so. You can check the standard construction specification book for any of the 50 states, and I have checked them all, and you will find no mention of TAR. As D,LIW noted, this is my wheelhouse. As is an inside pitch, letter high.

leftcoastTAM 7:37 PM  

Okay, @rondo, this comes very late for your TAR thread, but you may get to it and check out Bill Butler's comments on TAR for this puzzle if want to see how it might be considered admissible.

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