Website with virtual animals / FRI 6-10-16 / Vernacular much debated in 1990s / Literally land of sun / Tamid synagogue lamp / Classic R&B hit about returning lover / Green Hornet trumpeter

Friday, June 10, 2016

Constructor: David Steinberg

Relative difficulty: Medium (E-M for me, but ... proper nouns troubles might getcha)

THEME: none 

Word of the Day: BARBUDA (38D: Island north of Antigua) —
Barbuda is an island in the Eastern Caribbean, and forms part of the state of Antigua and Barbuda. It has a population of about 1,638 (at the 2011 Census), most of whom live in the town of Codrington. (wikipedia)

• • •
Lively, contemporary themeless from Mr. Steinberg. He's pretty good at these. Tougher than most Fridays of late, but still on the historically easy side for me. I can see how the puzzle might play much harder for some, though. EMPEROR PALPATINE (16A: Film villain who says "Your feeble skills are no match for the power of the dark side") is not Vader-famous, despite being an important figure in the "Star Wars" universe, and NEOPETS, well, god help you there. I was pretty chuffed when I "got" that one right out of the box ... then less chuffed when it turned out I didn't "get" it at all. See, I have a daughter who was the right age to enjoy "website(s) with virtual animals" (the fact that said sites still exist is news to me). And my daughter, like many children, did a lot of art as a child (painting and what not). And like a lot of parents, we hang said art in our house–daughter has her own special gallery that we also refer to as "the downstairs bathroom." So if you ever go in there, you will see her amazing visual-art tribute to her virtual animal obsession of yore (seven letters!):

["WEBKINZ Rock!!"]

WEBKINZ seemed like suuuuuch a David Steinberg thing to put at 1-Across, what with its Scrabbly letters and high youth content. But no. Thankfully, I could tell right away that no [Prominent feature of a sloth] was going to fit the "N--" pattern. "Uh, NUT? Hmm, I did not know that. Also ... that's pretty ... colloquial." So out went WEBKINZ and I had to get NEOPETS mostly from crossess. SRO was my first answer (sold right out!) but after that it was LACY and ATAT, and I started hacking at the NW from there. Once I got a grip, I was flying pretty good there for a while.

But bottom half was a little tougher, largely because I could not parse "I HEAR YOU KNOCKING" and I honestly had no familiarity with BARBUDA—a kind of Frankensteinian hybrid of "Bermuda" and "Barbados" and "barbituates" that proved very EELY for me. OCTO also killed me. I had OCHO, then thought "Oh, no, quattuor is Italian," and so wrote in ... OTTO. I know "seven" is SETTE, so ... OTTO? Ugh. That tiny error had massive repercussions, the largest of which was my racking my brain to remember a song called "I HEAR YOU KNOW KING." Maybe it was a song from the Civil Rights era? About the late Reverend? But no, OWTO surely wasn't 2x quattuor. I worked this all out without too much grief. It was nice to have at least a little resistance from a Friday puzzle, finally. Grid was very nice; there was some hot junk like NER and ATAT, but otherwise it was very very polished and balanced and thoughtfully clued.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

P.S. wife just walked in to tell me that off the "E" in WEBKINZ (see! she made same mistake) she wrote in EDITION for 2D: Issue (EMANATE). Turns out that "E" is correct (from NEOPETS), and that if you know NEOPETS (or WEBKINZ!) and write it in first, then EDITION is a hell of a trap.

P.P.S. just noticed this is 16 wide. This is the second 16-wide themeless I've seen recently. Apparently constructors are being encouraged to open their unused bag of 16s and let the answers fly. Fine by me.

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Loren Muse Smith 7:33 AM  

I'm not good enough to begin puzzles at 1A; starting with the fill-in-the-blanks is always a safer bet. So I almost went all Monday on this one and put "pack" for 26A. But I caught myself, so a tentative ATAT was my first entry. Crossed it with TYRANT and was off and running. Next I think were BRIE and MISO, affording me BOILER MAKER. Now there's a bad idea. Hey, I know what. Let's drop this shot of Daniels down into the beer mug and chug it. The expression "knee-walkin' commode huggin' drunk" comes to mind. Next thing you know you're staring out of the back seat of a police car.

I did try "abo" before NEG. And I also flirted with "oily" and "busy" before EELY. Oh, and "silk" before LACY. Bet I'm not alone on these goofs.

INEPT - My mother-in-law used the word "feckless" yesterday, and I decided right then and there to try to add it to my everyday walking-around vocabulary. What a great word.

If you're buying BRIE in this country that actually runs, you're lucky. The only place I can find brie out here in the boonies is at the Walmart in PETTYville, WV. I leave it on the counter for days, WAITING for that ammonia smell. Cut into it and. . . nothing. It almost doesn't even seem like food. Kinda reminds me of the sugar-free ice cream I bought once. Now that's some of the nastiest stuff I've ever tasted. I ended up putting the box in the sink to melt so I could rinse it down the drain, and it didn't melt. I'm not a huge preservative/chemical-phobe, but sheesh, it had that consistency-not-found-in-nature vibe going on.

I had a dnf because of the EMPEROR PALPATINE/UTE cross. I could've looked at that square all day and not seen that the UTE was person and not a country. UAE, USA… I was flummoxed. I didn't know BARBUDA, either, so I figured that 12D was still another place I'd never heard of.

@ralph from yesterday – Bingo. My thoughts excactly.

@OISK from yesterday re anglicized spelling. Bingo again - Cologne, Rome, Naples, Seville…

Nice puz, David. Whenever I see your name at the top, I NINK. And that's a good thing.

Brett Hendrickson 7:40 AM  

I had the whole thing filled in with NEOPETS and RACY for the teddy clue. This gave me a one-down of NEBURAE, which I figured was a cloud type I wasn't familiar with. Took a while to find my error and switch to LACY and NEBULAE. Good puzzle.

Anonymous 7:43 AM  

This was so easy and enjoyable for me that I fully expected Rex to attack it.
To me it started with a gimmee--Georges--and moved steadily upward. I guessed at the N linking neopets and nebulae and it turns out I was right.
Really fun puzzle.

Robso 7:47 AM  

Naticked at the cross of ___ TAMID and ANCIENT GREEK CRAFT.
For the record, I do the puzzle in ink because I can see what I wrote. And I hate doing it on screen.

chefbea 7:48 AM  

I don't usually do Friday or Saturday, but was up very early this morning so thought I'd give it a try. Finished it with some googling. Of course loved brie, dessert and miso

GeezerJackYale48 7:51 AM  

Nice, enjoyable, just challenging enough to be fun. Despite four years of Latin in high school eons ago, "quattuor" did not sound right, so my first thought was "mistake, mistake, they mean quattro". Then the dawn broke. Should have known better. David Steinberg would not make a mistake. What he makes is really good puzzles.

Zwhatever 7:57 AM  

Jeez Louise Muse - were you just sitting at your computer hitting refresh?

Anyway... Different pitfalls here. SWEETnEr was a little sour. That after SOMEway getting to SOMEHOW. Saw through the TYRONE clue immediately, but BYway didn't have enough letters. I don't recall ever seeing the word BYROAD, it's always "highways and byways" in my world. Hand up for not knowing BARUDA. Yep, crunchy crunchy south. I built out from the NE, DESSERT to BRIE and MAIN ST to BOILERMAKER (are college students still as stupid as we were?) and MIRED to the 15s and finally cleaning up my errors.

This puzzle points out a flaw to how I do my PPP Analysis. I count only 17 pop culture answers/product names/proper nouns type clues and answers. But they take up huge chunks of real estate. If EMPEROR PALPATINE isn't a gimme how exactly do you come up with that name. That is nine essentially uncrossed downs if you don't know Star Wars (the puzzle is 16x15). I HEAR YOU KNOCKING isn't as bad since it is a phrase. You don't have to know the song to suss out the answer. But PALPATINE? If you don't know it there is no particular way to suss it out.

I liked this puzzle, but I feel your pain if you struggled.

Dorothy Biggs 8:02 AM  

I'm with Robso in my hangup at TRI-EME/NE- crossing. NEd? NEu? NEt? Neither word was particularly inferrable. I just ran the alphabet until either I got the happy jingle, or I figured I had other issues. Got to R and BINGO.

EELY v. oiLY...held out on that for a while.

Hand up for wEbkinz. I have kids from that well as Club Penguin. But that didn't fit.

How many of you recited the Pledge while counting on your fingers? And how many of you didn't care and figured it would become clear?

jason 8:08 AM  

Favorite use of FECKLESS will always be from The Clash:

How you get rude and reckless?
Don't you be so crude and feckless
You been drinking brew for breakfast
Rudie can't fail

Passing Shot 8:09 AM  

Other than ININK and GIRL, I had nothing in the top half. Jumped to the SE corner and got GEORGES and BOILERMAKER right of the bat. In the SW, EBONICS and SOMEHOW "somehow" gave me enough of a footing to work my way through the bottom half completely. Threw in EMPERORPALPATINE (not that I've seen the more recent movies but I know he's a baddie) and that gave me enough to work with on the top.

Don't understand RASP -- anyone?

QuasiMojo 8:09 AM  

Dear Rex, I am sure you will get dozens of SRO remarks. It's Standing Room Only. I remember it as being an acronym for Single Room Occupancy back when NYC still had those. I went to see Star Wars the day it opened in NY, first screening, I think, but I left halfway through. Bored me to tears. Seemed like a kids version of Flash Gordon (if that isn't redundant.) So I've never seen any of the sequels and prequels. They're the equivalent of Nyquil to me. So that Emperor guy was a slog. I do like DS's puzzles though because they are sprightly and overall clean. Yours in Curmudgeonland.

Trombone Tom 8:09 AM  

Another great (and challenging to me) puzzle from Mr. Steinberg.

I ended up working this one from the bottom up as NEOPETS and EMPEROR PALPATINE were the last to fall. My grandkids are too old to be into the former and my Starwars info stopped being current many episodes ago.

Took me a while to land on LIZARD for leather. IHEARYOUKNOCKING brought back some old memories. Loved the currency and cluing for CAUCUSED.

I enjoyed this puzzle, but it was tougher for me than for @Rex because of the upper left corner.

Dr. Jeff Jacobsen 8:14 AM  

I always thought SRO (for an angel) stood for Standing Room Only.

Tita 8:28 AM  

INpen, Edo before UTE (Japan is the Land of the Rising Sun, no?), paw befor TOE, and changed LACY to rACY and back again.

Was wondering what Darth Vader's middle name might be that would let me fit it into the grid.

Talk about musty...GEORGES has been dead for like forever, and that Dogs of WAR guy too. I mean, it's like I go into. RAGE every time I see the word "classic" in a clue. And how am I supposed to keep track of all those TCM swashbucklers like TYRONE?

I'm going to go feed my NEOPET some bitcoins now.

Speaking of ancient fill, do you think those ancient Greeks got around to building OCTOremes? I mean, if a razor blade can have 5 rows of blades, then why can't a boat have 8 rows of oars?

Thanks, Mr. Steinberg's, for a great medium-to-easy Friday, and for learning me the origin of "bellwether" (which I probably would have spelled wrong before today.)

Seth 8:32 AM  

Really enjoyed the puzzle, though I got Naticked at TRIREME and NER. That letter could be anything.

Charles Flaster 8:33 AM  

Really enjoyed this with only missing UTE( my high school's nickname , NYC) .
Everything fell into place with getting
all four 16's pretty quickly.
I suggest knowing TRIREME as a piece of
CrosswordEASE as it really helps.
I loved cluing for RASP, CAUCUSED, TURBO, BEAR, and APE.
Write overs --COMPOUND SENTENCE for COMPOsitioNality but WAITING helped, TOE for eyE, and INRE for attn.
Overall, a terrific puzzle with no fill and beautiful symmetry.
Thanks DS.

Nancy 8:43 AM  

This was a mix for me of easy and hard, so I guess I'd call it medium. Every time there was a PPP answer I didn't know (NEOPETS; EMPEROR PALPATINE; GIRL on fire; I HEAR YOU KNOCKING), there was a lovely long non-PPP answer that was suss-out-able. (BATTLE OF THE SEXES; COMPOUND SENTENCE; PETTY TYRANT; BOILERMAKER). I had forgotten EBONICS and had to wait for it to come in, but I should have known it. 'Twas DESSERT to BRIE to BOILERMAKER that got me into the puzzle; I was having trouble in the NW because of the aforementioned NEOPETS and EMPEROR P.

Thought for the day (and please don't get mad at me, you lovers of contemporary pop music). When I was in the BMI Musical Theater Workshop, we lyricists were often criticized for writing lyrics that were "too on the nose." I put that in quotes, because that's the phrase that was used much too often for anyone's liking. But when you're solving a puzzle with a pop music title, there is no such thing as "too on the nose." The more on the nose, the better, it seems. Not so great for pop music, I would argue, but fabulous for the completely in-the-dark crossword solver. I had --RL On Fire. "Pick the most obvious response, Nancy." I had ---ARYO-K-O-K---. "Pick the most obvious response, Nancy." It worked both times. Just sayin'. Please don't yell at me.

kitshef 8:44 AM  

My second shot on a par four is generally a 3-wood, my drive having gone 25 yards or so.

A little bit of revenge for DNFs on 'easy' Wednesday and Thursday puzzles with an effortless and enjoyable solve on a 'medium' Friday.

Not really sure who EMPERORPALPATINE is, but know the name and knew it was a Star Wars thing. I did spell it PALPATain at first, but SIXIRON fixed that.

Only other overwrite was SWEETUMS before SWEETpea.

Not know BARBUDA? I mean, we get some complaints about trivia overload, but I think knowing the names of the countries of the world is not too much to ask. Antigua and BARBUDA is a fairly popular winter destination, from here and I'd bet from NY also.

Loved the puzzle. The four feature acrosses and the two long downs are all splendid, and we pay a very low price in fill. ATAT, (which could have been clued via Star Wars too), EELY and NER are it.

Not sure how this puzzle is 'contemporary', but it sure was lively.

Anonymous 8:56 AM  

I plopped "THE WAR OF THE SEXES" right in at 18A and "CONTRACT LANGUAGE" at 57A. Oops.

Tim Pierce 8:58 AM  

My heart sank when I got the leading E in 35D: Speech in a Spike Lee film, and I tried desperately for some way for it not to come out EBONICS. Ebonics (which is more properly called AAVE these days) isn't a punchline to a joke, it's a legitimate designation for a dialect of English, and it's not really an accurate characterization for Spike Lee's writing; watch Malcolm X or Get on the Bus or The 25th Hour for just a few counterexamples. I thought the NYT puzzle was doing much better with its handling of race in recent weeks and was disappointed to see this.

Anonymous 9:03 AM  

SRO is not "sold right out." It's short for Standing Room Only. Just fyi.

Lobster11 9:06 AM  

This was plenty tough for me, and I really enjoyed it despite a plethora of PPP WOEs. SOMEHOW I was able to get them all (almost) through a combination of crosses and inference. For example, I could stare at EMPEROR PALPATINE all day long without ever experiencing the slightest glint of familiarity, but I was able to get PALPATINE entirely from crosses and then infer EMPEROR from just a couple of crosses. The cross PALPATINE/UTE cross was a bitch, but seeing U-E got me thinking about sunny UTAH and the native UTES.

As implied by the "almost" above, I didn't actually get _all_ of them. DNF because of one cell, at the TRIREME/NER cross. If that doesn't count as a Natick I don't know what does. I ran the alphabet several times to try to guess which letter could reasonably complete both TRI-EME and NE-, and came to the conclusion that every one of the 26 available options made just as much sense as any other. So I'm gonna cry "foul" on that -- although I'm sure there will be somebody out there who is shocked that I wasn't able to just drop in TRIREME without the aid of any crosses.

I had a good chuckle at "Bold way to solve a crossword," which is one of few answers I was able to drop in cold on my first pass. Honestly, I am just mystified by you folks who are so "bold" as to do these things IN INK. I always use a mechanical pencil (a Pentel Quicker-Clicker, for those keeping score at home) with eraser, and invariably make liberal use of the latter. I must admit, though, that for me the problem isn't simply your usual, expectable writeovers. I only use a pen when I absolutely must -- say, for writing a check -- because once I get a pen in my hand I instantly turn into an imbecile. I often go through several checks before successfully completing one successfully, after writing the wrong date, or the amount of the check on the line where the payee's name is supposed to go, etc. The idea of trying to do a Friday NYT crossword in ink is utterly unimaginable to me.

Jack Kaplan 9:20 AM  

Just a quick comment. SRO is not I believe "sold right out", but "standing room only" and was used in London theaters to indicate you could only buy entry tickets to stand at the back of the theater, because all seats were sold.

George Barany 9:26 AM  

Greetings from my ongoing California vacation, where I enjoyed @David Steinberg's puzzle despite not being able to finish it on my own. Thanks, @Rex, for your valuable perspective. @David, I appreciate the shoutout at 59-Across, but who is the other GEORGE that you were thinking of.?

Like @Loren Muse Smith, I Naticked at the T that intersects the sci-fi villain with the unsussable clue for UTE. Plus a few other errors that I won't bore you with. On the other hand, I've constructed enough puzzles of my own to recognize ERLE and AL_HIRT, and I once flew all the way to Nigeria to testify on behalf of PFIZER in a patent infringement lawsuit involving a blockbuster drug of theirs that dwarfs the sales of Viagra.

BATTLE_OF_THE_SEXES reminded me of this puzzle, but was also interesting because I originally had entered "the_war_OF_THE_SEXES." But then I started worrying, having put in SEXY for 22-Across (I know how a teenage mind works) and then WAR emerged in the Shakespeare at 28-Down. Fortunately, I trust the constructor, and was able to sort it out.

Yesterday, I shared a @Mark Diehl themeless puzzle for those @Rex-ites anxious for a bonus challenge. Today, I share the themed So It Goes by the remarkable @Steve Bachman. Enjoy!

Fats Domino 9:27 AM  

@Rex, good call on the Dave Edmunds video.

Maruchka 9:32 AM  

South filled nicely. North went South for too long. Had to cheat, IN RE: StarWars and online stuff. Racy/LACY, Bermuda (tho that made no sense)/BARBUDA.

I HEAR YOU KNOCKING, Mr. Steinberg! Come back another night and do it again..

Fav of the day - TURBO. Got stuck in a fork lift for equines solve, despite the '?' gimme. Clever boots, David. And could someone explain how ERRS relates to its clue?

@LMS - I've never successfully ripened a hard BRIE. Sigh. Love your fake food rant.

Mohair Sam 9:39 AM  

David Steinberg just gets better and better. Terrific themeless Friday today. Played medium in this house - might have been easy but we needed to cross every letter of PALPATINE. Proud to have guessed right on the T in UTE based on normally sunny skies that shine in Utah and on the tribe it was named after. And somehow remembered TRIREME to avoid the natick trap at 50A.

BARBUDA new here. NEOPETS new to us too, so NW took some time to fill - but the name is logical so it didn't offer too much resistance. Loved the clues for CAUCUSED and TURBO. "GIRL on Fire" only Alicia Keys song I've heard. Speaking of songs - I didn't know "I HEAR YOU KNOCKING" was considered a classic, but who am I to argue. And I'm betting I'm not the only one for whom BOILERMAKER was a gimme, maybe my longest gimme ever.

SIXIRON also a gimme (my favorite club, btw) which quickly gave us BATTLEOFTHESEXES. There's a guy lives near here plays a round of golf with only a seven iron. Puts three balls in his pocket, a few tees, and a scorecard. Consistently shoots in the 80s. Says carrying a bag and selecting clubs is a nuisance. He's probably got it right.

Hartley70 9:45 AM  

This was an easy and fast solve here. It would have been greased lightening if not for the upper NW, since I was WAITING for NEOPETS and EMPEROR to come to me. The former never did but the crosses took care of business. Needless to say, I'm loving this Friday!

Carola 9:49 AM  

A Friday treat, if a little on the easy side. Me, too, for starting with LACY and ATAT, which made PETTY TYRANT pop into view. Interesting cross with EMPEROR PALPATINE, who, as far as I recall never had that insult hurled at him (as in, "You're nothing but a ... !). I needed 4 crosses to remember the EMPEROR; I texted the clue to my equally Star Wars fanatic son, and immediately heard back. "emp palp" "on ��" - i.e., biking to work. I'd thought he might at least need a tiny hint....
Also couldn't quite remember: I HEAR YOU...calling? One do-over: IN pen. Never heard of: NEOPETS, NER, ERLE. Grammar gift: COMPOUND SENTENCE, from the C.
And another apt cross: BATTLE OF THE SEXES x ENEMIES.

Anonymous 9:57 AM  

SRO...Standing Room Only...have to go back a few decades...

Anonymous 10:06 AM  

Hartley 70,

Thanks for your answer to my question yesterday. I suspect your right about Rex's intentions. ( I love your pooch)



Vincent Lima 10:11 AM  

Nice that @Rex got LACY off the bat. My evolution included SEXY and RACY and a couple of others.

Meanwhile, @Rex is trolling his own blog by doing the SRO thing again. Just to see how many people will lecture him this time. :)

Nancy 10:13 AM  

@Kitshef (8:44)-- On those infrequent occasions when I "play" golf, I use a 3-wood for my second shot on a Par 4 too. Or if I am in really deep rough, which happens quite often, a 5-wood.

@lms (7:33) -- You poor, poor, deprived person! If you ever find yourself in NYC, just let me know, and I'll bring you the best Brie available in the USA: "Fromage de Meaux" by Rouzaire. It runs as though it's being chased by wild horses. And, btw, I also loved I NINK.

Unknown 10:14 AM  

Rasp = File

Anonymous 10:16 AM  

Rex knows what SRO means. He's just twitting you a bit.

Greater Fall River Committee for Peace & Justice 10:25 AM  

Barbuda was the first thing I put in, courtesy of the globe within arm's reach of my puzzling seat. But I never got the northwest, neither neopets nor the emperor. And I know what SRO means, but what does it have to do with angels?

Interesting front page Times article about the disappearance of the period, by the way

Unknown 10:37 AM  

I would bet Rex knows very well what SRO stands for. But I like his twist better than Standing Room Only. Sold Right Out - hilarious.
Had no idea about Emperor Palpatine. For a while I had _alpa_in_, and Al Pacino screamed at me for the longest time. Natiked on UtE and PALPAtINE. Didn't connect UTE to Utah even when finished. The crossing at Natick at NEr and TRIrEME also bit me. But as was pleased to almost finish on a Friday.

Junief 10:45 AM  

You are right. Can't imagine why Rex got the idea it's "sold right out."

GILL I. 10:56 AM  

Good write-up @Rex. Your daughters got talent!
I liked this puzzle but I didn't enjoy it much. It's like ordering a tiramisu for DESSERT and having to poke around for the bits of chocolate. One here, another underneath the cream, some on top. When you find them, it's yummy.
NEOPETS last to go in. I want my feudal lord to be MESNE. BOILER MAKER was one of the few I popped in immediately. I don't much like beer but I do like whiskey...I'll have to give it a try someday when I'm depressed or sad or something.
BARBUDA took a bit but then I remembered it in another puzzle that gave me fits. NER Tamid? Could you clue NER as short for nervous?
American supermarket BRIE is just awful. I don't think it's even classified as cheese. Trader Joe's has nice meltable Brie from France. No ammonia odor though.

Mohair Sam 10:57 AM  

@Rex - Cut it out with the SRO you fiend.

@Kitshef - Try the three wood off the tee. Two years ago I sold my driver on eBay and my SIX IRON replaced my three wood as the second club on a par four. It can happen to you.

Andrew Heinegg 11:03 AM  

As a dead tree solver, I always solve in ink. I have trouble reading the light colored pencil marks so, if I have doubts, I just fill it in ink in about the same light tone as a pencil. Today, I filled in Stan for 5d and Abo for 55d. When the crosses proved them wrong, I wrote over them.

I always enjoy Mr. Steinberg's work. Like others, I had no idea about Emperor Palpatine, Barbuda or Neopets. But, they filled themselves in easily enough with the crosses and, as always, there are some fun misleading clues such as caucused for Met for a party. Such a nice
and Friday appropriate puzzle;

Junief 11:03 AM  

"Vernacular much-debated in the 1999's" is not a clue that appears in today's printed version of the puzzle. I assume that was the online clue for "Ebonics?" Clue for that in the printed version is, "Speech in a Spike Lee film" -- probably not a clue that Mr. Lee would like.

Anonymous 11:07 AM  

Has anyone ever seen a memo starting IN RE? I worked for 47 years reading 10? Memos a day and nary a IN RE


old timer 11:12 AM  

@George Barany, you don't need to pay pharmacy prices for Viagra anymore. You can by HealthyMan viagra for a fraction of the cost! (And how, I ask, have they not been shut down by a trademark infringement suit?).

The puzzle was Easy, Easy for a Friday, a day that often sends me to consult Dr. Google for my own cruciverbal dysfunction. The only potential Natick was PALATINE which I thought might be "Paladine", but I decided the natives called the place "Ute", and Utah is a very sunny place. BOILERMAKER gave me EWES, and as OFL says, if you have the first letters of your Downs you are in good shape. I took Latin decades ago so knew OCTO at once. Hat "Bermuda" before BARBUDA, like many of you, but that was quickly cleared up.

My first thought for the clouds didn't seem to work, and it did not take long to think of NEBULAE, which are indeed very far away. Had "inane" before INEPT. Had to get NEOPETS entirely on crosses. But my only problem with TRIREME was that I thought they were a Roman war-boat and not Greek. Am I right in assuming that enough slaves to man a TRIREME would be so expensive that tey were not used for civilian transport or freight?

I also was confused by IHEARYOUKNOCKING. Why? Because I always thought that was the title and first line of the Little Richard song that is in fact "Keep a-knocking". Classic Mondegreen for me. I was maybe in Sixth Grade when I heard it, about the same time I heard about menstruation. So I thought the song was about how the man would have to wait til tomorrow to have sex with his girlfriend. Little Richard songs always, to me, were about sex, and in fact some of them were.

Karl 11:18 AM  

Why are Adams and Jefferson clued as ENEMIES?

dbud 11:36 AM  

can someone clarify how SRO is related to angels? I got the answer right, just do not know why.

Amelia 11:38 AM  

@TimPierce I was also horrified when I saw ebonics matched with Spike Lee. He has clearly never seen a Spike Lee film, as it's not true and quite offensive, as a result. Would be like saying Spielberg's characters all talk with a Yiddish accent. This is not political correctness talking, this is just wrong.

Anyway, had absolutely no trouble with the puzzle, which puzzles me, as I'm a thousand years older than the constructor. It did take me longer than it should have to get Seurat's first name. But it gave me, a Sondheim New Yorker, a chuckle. OHHHH. Sunday in the Park with......

Anonymous 11:51 AM  

I think the cluing on 35D is borderline racist.

Lewis 12:11 PM  

Lively, clean, and clever. I loved the clues for SRO, OMIT, and TURBO. Out of that area of my brain that holds things that I had no idea I knew came TRIREME and GEORGES. I like the animal sub theme, with the CAT, BEAR, PETS and APE, as well as the IN trifecta (ININK, INEPT, INRE). David has kept that college age area of interest as well with the LACY teddy, the CASK and BOILERMAKER, and maybe even the MISO from a sushi bar.

I misspelled EMPEROR for a while, which gave me for the dictatorial boss PoTTY_TYRANT, and I actually bought that for a while, as a genuine phrase that I hadn't heard of. I like it, actually, bringing out the immaturity that underlies tyrants' behavior. Which of our presidential candidates this time around would end up as a potty tyrant if they won?

Indypuzzler 12:19 PM  

@Passing shot, RASP is a metal file which you could use to "saw" through bars in the jail. I am disappointed that the Spike Lee reference was made in the print version to EBONICS...I too use the app and think that is a much better clue. Not sure whether to admit that I know enough about Starwars to have the "change over time due to the powerful effects of Dark Side" Senator to Emperor Palpatine. Had to get NEOPETS through crosses and I suppose that is because my children are too old and I don't have grands yet. (Or do normal adults do this?) I thought this was a more enjoyable than average puzzle overall. @Karl Bradley....I just caught your comment...ya, I don't know if enemy is right. Today I would use the term "frenemy" I think.

Anoa Bob 12:27 PM  

Not sure how a RASP (46A) would be a get-out-of-jail aid. I have several. They are used for shaping wood and other soft materials, like horses' hooves (hoofs?). Jails are usually made of sturdier stuff.

I'm shocked @Lobster11, shocked I say, that you didn't know TRIREME (37D) straight away (it and the BIREME are long-time crossword staples), especially since TYRONE (45D) Power garnered a Best Actor nomination for his swashbuckling portrayal of a TRIREME commander in the epic Hellenicus back in '37, I believe it was.

If you want to go one step further with a BOILERMAKER (25D), plop the shot glass of whiskey directly into the glass of beer and you get a Depth Charge. Then it's "Down the hatch!"

Lobster11 12:27 PM  

It looks like the clue for 35D was different in different versions of the puzzle, which might explain why some people objected to it and others didn't. @Tim Pierce quoted it as "Speech in a Spike Lee film," but the clue in my version (NYT web site) was "Vernacular much debated in the 1990s." The former sounds borderline racist to me, or at the very least very un-PC, but I don't see anything offensive about the latter.

jae 12:30 PM  

Easy-medium for me and pretty much what @Mohair said in his first paragraph....guessed right on the T in UTE and knew TRIREME from crosswords past. LIked it a lot.

Can't believe commenters are biting on Rex's SRO joke again.

Masked and Anonymous 12:31 PM  

@indieWHA: Yer absolute top names for 007-letter virtual animal websites:

1. NETPETS. [Early guess, here, btw]
2. WWWORMS. [specializin in (cuddly) fishbaits]
4. TYR-ANTZ. [Norse version of (cuddly) fire ants]
5. VIR-MINT. [fave]
6. NER-DIES. [fave weeject = NER, btw; ultimate in 3-letter desperation]
7. SURF-TOE. [mainly for sloths]
8. WEB-LIKE. [facebook subsidiary, mainly for ducks]
9. E-LAND-ER. [friendly crossword-fill letters!]
10. E-EL TORO. [two (tough to get ahold of) specialties]

Ok then. Some crossword-solvin virtuosos do hard puzs like this ININK. M&A dares to do it INEPT.
Had no idea, on: NEOPETS (wanted NETPETS, but U know that). EMPERORPALPATINE (wanted SENATORPALPATINE -- throw a "villain" clue at M&A, and he immediately thinks of Congress). EBONICS. NER. TRIREME. BARBUDA (did like B'AR crossin BEAR, tho). MISO as clued (we get served MISO soup at the local Japanese choke-and-puke; paste?!? Sounds about as yummy as LACY-LIZARD-BRIE).

fave funny-lookin entry: PFIZER. Name of a company co-founder, M&A Research Dept. confirms.

Thanx, Mr. Steinberg. themelessthUmbsUp, despite a NER-vous SW corner.

Masked & Anonymo6Us

for BEAR-ly fans, only:

Master Melvin 12:35 PM  

Adams & Jefferson were indeed political enemies during the Washington, Adams & Jefferson administrations and the elections that led up to them. But earlier on they were allies in the production of the Declaration of Independence.

And after their administrations they conducted a remarkable correspondence for several decades. That correspondence continued until, even more remarkably, they both died on the same day: the FOURTH OF JULY, 1826, exactly 50 years after the adoption of the Declaration of Independence.

Political enemies perhaps. But united in their passion for the health of the new American republic. Our present-day politicians could learn much from them.

Joe Bleaux 12:41 PM  

I think it's because those who bankroll a theatrical production are known as "angels" (who'd be thrilled by a sign indicating they'd invested wisely). But don't take that to the bank :)

OISK 12:47 PM  

Add me to the list of those who disliked the "ebonics" clue, and also to those who DNF on a movie character from a film I've never seen, and probably would not remember even if I had. An otherwise pretty well clued, well constructed puzzle ruined by a pop culture obscurity - David Sternberg used to do that a lot, but I have generally enjoyed his recent puzzles. In fact, except for the unforgivable Palpatine ( I had Palparine )- if you are going to insist on a clue like that, at least make the down clue for "UTE" more easily discernible. ( Salt Lake City athlete? )

Joe Bleaux 12:48 PM  

Red-letter day for ol' Joe! I finished a Friday puzzle (in ink) in less than 10 minutes! And it wasn't because Mr. Steinberg threw only softballs; it's a fine puzzle (especially nice cluing). I just happened, luckily, to know enough of the answers that I easily sussed out those that would've stumped me as standalones. Boy, that was fun!

Hartley70 12:50 PM  

@Anonymous 10:06 AM, Rubin sends you an ARF!

amyloowoo 12:52 PM  

SRO is standing room only, btw.

Joseph Michael 12:53 PM  

This is one of the first David Steinberg puzzles that I have actually enjoyed. Even though there were many answers I dudn't know, such as NEOPETS and EMPEROR PALPATINE, I was able to get them from the crosses. Especally liked BATTLE OF THE SEXES, I HEAR YOU KNOCKING, and PETTY TYRANT. Also enjoyed Rex's review which, for a change, began on a positive note.

Tim Pierce 12:54 PM  

@Junief, @Amelia: very interesting that the online clue for 35D was "Vernacular much-debated in the 1990s" (which is almost exactly how I would have recommended cluing EBONICS). That sounds like Will or someone else on the staff noticed this and fixed it at the last minute, but not in enough time for the print version. Makes me feel a little better.

Masked and Anonymous 12:54 PM  

1. I Hear UUUUUU Knocking … primo.

2. Sold Right Out. har.

3. ATAT. New Democrat (and Republican?) partier's mantra (Attack Trump, Attack Trump). Better Trump campaign slogan: "trUmp!"


oldactor 12:58 PM  

Angels=Investors in Broadway productions.

AliasZ 1:05 PM  

At 4D I had TYTY from the crosses. What else could it be but PETTY TYRANT?

I mostly enjoyed this one, except EMPEROR whatchawhosit, who was EMPEROR PALPATING at first. Loved BATTLE OF THESE XES and I HEAR YOU KNOCKING.

Enjoy your Friday!

Wm. C. 1:13 PM  

@dbud --

People who fund plays that for some reason or other involve some risk are known as Angels. Naturally, they are happy when the play is Sold Right Out, with Standing Room Only. ;-)

kitshef 1:14 PM  

@Lewis, clearly JOHN Kasich would be the Potty Tyrant.

@Mohair Sam - I'm not sure you understand just how bad my golf game is. Believe me, if I could hit a 3-wood off the tee any better than the driver, I would hit it every time. Really, to get anything resembling an actual golf shot it has to be a 5-iron or shorter. I do like your friend's idea. Maybe if I just go with 5-iron (and probably putter)...

chefbea 1:53 PM  

@dbud..when you back a show...give money towards are an angel

Doc John 2:07 PM  

Not really sure why you classified NER as junk. It's a perfectly good Hebrew word that means "light."
TRIREME I happened to know because of a framed Hermes scarf that friends gave me that features a ship and prominently features the word TRIREME.

Anonymous 2:27 PM  

@dbud: SRO Theater angels, who back plays, are thrilled when the play sells out and their investment is recouped.

Tita 3:08 PM  

I forgot two important comments...

Rex - that drawing rocks!! How old was your daughter when she did it??
I love the perspective, the faithful rendering of the decor in her bedroom (or perhaps what she wishes it were), the cat in an unusual pose for a kid to select...
Did she actually have a rug that said that?
(Love the eyelashes on the cat too...)

And I am shocked - SHOCKED!! that so few people know TRIREME, or know it only from crosswords. Can I feel chuffed if I offer that my minor in The Classics and my love of sailing left biREME, TRIREME, and quatriREME permanent placement on that cookie-tray in my brain?

And as long as I'm talking specifically to @Lobster, I love your riff on writing INpen!

Alex V Cook 3:08 PM  

Spelled EMPORER wrong and had POTTY TYRANT for a while and it cracked me up enough that it took me a while to figure out what happened.

Mike Rees 3:18 PM  

This was almost too easy to be fun. I lucked out filling in NEOPETS and the SWU villain, and it's was all roses from there. Tried doing the crossword consecutively for a change (for me, this means using solved letters to jump around the puzzle, following the answers instead of the numerical clue order). Almost got MIRED at the bottom, but SOMEHOW managed to TROT into that section with those last three references, and it was a walk the rest of the way. Beat my average time by half. Whee!

Rabi Abonour 4:21 PM  

One of the most enjoyable NYTs for me in some time. NEOPETS came fast to me, but is it really still around? Feels like it should probably be avoided. TRIREME / NER Natticked me, but mostly this played fairly easy without being too simple.

Lewis 4:51 PM  

@kitshef -- Good one!

Anonymous 5:49 PM  

@amy - btw, back the winner

michael 6:57 PM  

Although I did not find the puzzle particular hard, I got stuck (missed entirely) the crosses of ner/trireme and ute/emperorpaplatine.

Got ebonics right away, but was surprised that this was the answer. Not sure if this is right and haven't seen the term "ebonics" in quite a while.

puzzle hoarder 7:55 PM  

Busy day at work so a late entry. Lots to talk about a fun puzzle but once again I'm distracted by the pseudo racism spotting. Does anyone for one moment seriously consider the NYT to in any way shape or form to promote or evince racism. If so they need to come to Chicago so I can give them a racism tour. The final step of that tour will consist of me dropping you off in a certain area at a particular time. This is not intended to endanger you but just orient you to what racism is like so you'll be better able to know it when you see it.

Vermonster 12:18 PM  

The video is hilarious. Lip synched, guitar not plugged in, girls barely dancing, some just sitting, the campy guy playing "air cymbals", camera not on the guitar during the solo...made my day.

Anonymous 12:01 PM  

I have doing NYT crosswords for 36 years and I could not object more strongly to ENEMIES. It is wrong, wrong, wrong.
That would be to say Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders are enemies.
This is the first time I've posted on this blog. Some notable errors (besides ENEMIES) are Neil Armstrong's first-man-on-the-moon quote, CHA CHA CHA, and OMELETTE, all of which have been subsequently corrected by Mr. Shortz.
C'mon Will, let's correct this one.
John M. Sweeney

Unknown 10:43 PM  

Doesn't SRO = "standing room only"?

Burma Shave 10:16 AM  




rondo 10:33 AM  

Only one w/o at BeRmUDA, but did not get started in the NW. Started boldly with ININK – as always – then ALHIRT and worked all around from that, finishing in the NW with EMPEROR whatsisname and finally NEOPETS, whatever that might be.

If I’m using a SIXIRON or less on my second shot, consider me happy and I feel less INEPT.

GIRL on Fire by yeah baby Alicia Keys is a fine song by a finer artist.

Can’t see LACY without SOMEHOW adding Underalls, ala Caddyshack. Yeah baby. No PFIZER product needed.

Saw the grid construction and immediately guessed it was a DS puz, and was not disappointed.

leftcoastTAM 3:40 PM  

I don't feel bold solving ININK because slow and deliberate is my usual style, which suits me well at the end of the week.

And slow it was finally filling in the top three rows, especially that unknown (to me) villain EMPEROR, who made the rest of it relatively easy.

In the South, which went first, it was tough flushing out BARBUDA, first inking in Bermuda, but without making a big writeover mess.

Misreading "clause" as "cause" at first wasn't helpful in seeing COMPOUNDSENTENCE.

Who knew that the old crosswordese standby UTE literally means "land of the sun"? Not I. It's my Word of the Day.

Diana,LIW 4:39 PM  

Once again my lack of Star Wars knowledge defeated me. Yet it was an enjoyable exercise getting what part of the puzzle I could - maybe 90%??

Hand up for the bottom half much easier than the north side. And having Attn: instead of INRE for the longest time messed up the middle.

Still don't get the clue for ERRS - is it a slang phrase I don't know? And my eyes read "belies" instead of "belles" for the EWE clue. Note to self, get glasses RX filled.

OATEN cakes? Ugh! Would rather have a SWEETPEA.

Once again, glad I don't write mine up IN INK.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

leftcoastTAM 5:43 PM  

A baseball fielder ERRS when he "boots", or misplays a ball. (You'll likely get more such responses.)

Waxy in Montreal 6:04 PM  

@Diana, "boots one" is baseball parlance used when a defensive player is INEPT (e.g., if the shortstop muffs an easy groundball) and thus commits an error, or ERRS.

Confidently was entering Anakin Skywalker ININK at 16A when to my chagrin/mortification/shame discovered the grid was actually 16-wide. So began the long slog to eventually come up with EMPERORPALPATINE (who?). However, as usual, young Mr. Steinberg's grid was a great pleasure to solve. Even guessed right at the NER/TRIREME junction preventing a DNF. Didn't speed things up any either with a PETSRUS at 1A.

Have to agree with those slagging INRE, an alltime crosswordese special. Probably wrote/read 10,000 memos during my working career without ever once encountering it. RE sure, but never INRE!

Diana,LIW 9:07 PM  

Thanks @Lefty and @Waxey

My baseball (softball) days were short. When I discovered, after my first hit at bat, that catching a fly ball made me "out," I was outta there. The Lady was not an athlete, like my mom. Let's put it this way, when I was on the lineup, it didn't create a STO audience. SRO, if you don't know, stands for Standing Room Only. More often, a term used in the theater. Which I do love.

Diana, Lady-no-longer-in-waiting-for-boots-answers

kathy of the tower 1:10 AM  

This was fun. One answer led to another and voila, I was done.

I needed a pick-me-up today. My package didn't come, my new glasses are a bit hard to adjust to, and OMG the news is just too depressing, so this was a ray of sunshine.

Anonymous 1:54 PM  

I seldom check this site any more but I had to come here today to see if you had posted the Edmunds video. My favorite video ever. There isn't a single component of it that doesn't crack me up.

Blogger 4:45 PM  

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