Austrian city where Kepler taught / WED 10-5-16 / Salem witch trials accuser / Canonized fifth-century pope / Graphics-capturing device / Caffeine laden nut

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Constructor: Michael Dewey

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: A AND W (65A: Classic root beer brand ... or a hint to the answers to this puzzle's starred clues) — two-word phrases, first word starts with "A," second with "W" ...

Theme answers:
  • AD WAR (1A: *Mac-vs.-PC during the early 2000s, e.g.)
  • ACID WASH (6A: *Give a worn appearance to, as jeans)
  • APPIAN WAY (22A: *Road to ancient Rome)
  • ARIZONA WILDCATS (36A: *Tucson collegians)
  • ALTAR WINE (49A: *Holy Communion drink)
  • AIR WAVES (64A: *Radio medium)
  • ABIGAIL WILLIAMS (6D: *Salem witch trials accuser)
Abigail Williams (September 15, 1680 – c. 1690s) was one of the primarily initial accusers in the Salem Witch Trials of 1692, which led to the arrest and imprisonment of more than 150 accused witches. (wikipedia)
• • •

Wow, NYT has lapsed into some kind of theme-type funk. Really dusting off the oldies of late. This theme is flat like bad rootbeer. A ... and ... W. And ... that is all. An assortment of A/W phrases, crammed into a poorly filled grid. The end. Pretty POOR. And so much of it. When you try to make up for a weak theme by cramming a lot of it into the grid, you make the problem worse, first because increasing bad never equaled good or even better, and second because your cramming efforts end up causing the rest of the grid to suffer. Terribly. DIR ERNANI ASAMI RENTS before I even got out of the damned NW corner. Problems continue from there. I won't bother enumerating them. They're everywhere. Surprised this one was thought to be NYT-worthy, either in concept or in execution.

Gotta get back to the AL Wild Card game, as it is tied in the top of the 9th, so ... drama! Luckily, I don't have too much to say about this puzzle. I tore through it, with only ABIGAIL WILLIAMS (whom I didn't know) holding me back at all. GRAZ was another mystery. ATIVAN I've heard of, vaguely, but couldn't have told you what it did. ST LEO I is really really bad. Usually it's just STLEO or LEOI, but STLEOI, hoo boy, wow. Two terrible tastes that taste terribler together. I somehow remembered "ERNANI" (not sure how, but it's good to know that 25 years into my solving habit, opera answers are finally beginning to stick). My errors today were stupid and boring, e.g. ATRA for AFTA (22D: Mennen product), OLAF for OLAV (54D: Norway's patron saint) ... I think that's it. Happy to move on from this puzzle. See you tomorrow.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


jae 12:20 AM  

Medium for me. Only erasure was maNGY before DINGY.

Not particularly scintillating.

My 17 year old granddaughter drives a black TAHOE which is one of the biggest trucks Chevy makes, there are a few stories there.

Charles Flaster 12:23 AM  

Very easy and agree with Rex about
Four write overs--AD WAR for At WAR, ON A TIP for ON site, DINGY for maNGY, and
KOLA for cOLA.
Liked clues for ONE ALARM CHILI and KAOS ( only for white haired solvers).
Thanks JD

Unknown 12:32 AM  

Thanks, @Rex, for the @AmyWinehouse (I see what you did there) clip ... and how could @Michael Dewey possibly have known that I lectured on ACID_WASH (as part of an extractive workup of an organic reaction) earlier today.

I do want to stand up on behalf of ERNANI, a wonderfully melodic early Verdi masterpiece that still is regularly performed at major opera houses. If you can spare less than 2 minutes, watch/listen to this trio from a 2012 Met performance with @Angela Meade (Elvira), @Marcello Giordani (ERNANI), and @Dmitri Hvorostovsky (Don Carlo).

Anokha 1:39 AM  

Can someone explain the AD WAR answer? I remember Justin Long in the infamous Apple commercials -- but what was the PC war?

Unknown 1:55 AM  

Another rare agreement. This was a Tuesday at best, and would have been so-so for that.

Larry Gilstrap 2:10 AM  

This thing resonated with me in so many odd ways. When I was a kid, we never ate out, ever. Eventually, my folks would take me to a drive-in eatery on Friday night, either the McDonald's or the A&W across Highway 66 in Azusa. The root beer place offered car service with window trays and frosty glass mugs. We were Nazarenes, so no ALTAR WINE for our communions; Welch's grape juice. Pyschic moment: I had just been reading about SDSU football and turf TOE was all over the analysis. I thought, this seems like fodder for tricky fill. Et voila! Not a big Kepler fan, so GRAZ needed DR. OZ. I hear he is slated to be our next Surgeon General. Might a Southern Belle slip a MAGNOLIA into her BARRETTE? Maybe OFL should ask his physician about ATIVAN or a generic substitute; it just takes the edge off.

Ellen S 2:23 AM  

@Larry, you're making that up about Dr. Oz as our next surgeon general, please say you are.

Well, on a pleasanter note, I found the puzzle annoyingly easy, finished it in about 15 minutes, which for me is like lightning. I've never seen ERNANI performed, never will if I stick around Sacramento. Interesting to learn that it was the first one recorded.

I thought "all roads lead to Rome" -- APPIAN WAY was just an easy answer because it's the only Roman road I've heard of. That's where they crucified all the rebellious slaves, right? Maybe our next president will do the same thing, using Pennsylvania Avenue.

DNF due to At WAR which got me the big Puzzazz razzberry, until I corrected it to AD WAR. I have the same question as @Anokha, wasn't it a kind of one-sided war?

AskGina 2:34 AM  

Oh yes, the famous ad war of the early 2000s. Who could forget that. And vel. Of course

Unknown 2:50 AM  

I liked ACID WASH and I liked BARRETTE. The only interesting clue was the trivia for ERNANI (Verdi work that was the first opera to be recorded in its entirety). The rest of the clues ... well, not much effort was made. The only "tricky" clue is ETCHES (Makes a lasting impression?), and that one is uninspired. Heck, this puzzle made me long for a good old "city-to-city dir." clue with its sad final clue for SSW (202.5°).

Oh, ARIZONA WILDCATS is 15 letters long and can cross ABIGAIL WILLIAMS? Gee um er wow I guess. Those answers put me to sleep, especially ARIZONA WILDCATS. Many college teams have interesting mascots: Arizona does not. At all. Arizona State Sun Devils. See? That's mildly interesting. It's unique, and it speaks to the location. But WILDCATS? Arizona shares that mascot with Kentucky, Northwestern, Kansas State, or Villanova. Snooze-o-rama.

Anyway, I fully agree with Rex today. So much ugh. Abbreviations (VEL, LAT, DIR), acronym (MTA), random direction (SSW), partial (AS A), halves of names (HAI, SWEE), prefixes (RENT-A, PEDI), French (SIL), random city (GRAZ), random pope (ST LEO I), random saint (OLAV), lots of random products (DASANI, CAMRY, TAHOE, AFTA, ATIVAN), and out-dated tv reference (KAOS).

The true revealer for this puzzle is AW-FUL.

Loren Muse Smith 4:17 AM  

I struggled with the northwest. I didn't remember ERNANI. So with some kind of C _ O officer for 2D, I had a mess. I didn't know those two had an AD WAR. Without the theme, I'd've thought "pc war."

And then, then… how many iterations did I have for 4D AS AM I?

as do I
me too (oops. Erase that. That was the clue)
so do I
so am I

Were there WICCAns running around in Salem back then? Bet they gave ABIGAIL a wide berth.

@Larry - I actually am not sure whether you're serious or not about DR OZ being the next Surgeon General. Heck – I can't really laugh. I had a DR OZ period, running around trying to find green coffee bean extract or someone to help me unblock all my my chakras.

Spent a summer in GRAZ, so no prob there. I attended a college lecture in Graz and remember that when it was over, all the students KNOCKed on their desks with a fist – some kind of approval or applause.

I did actually notice some of the wincers along the way this morning. SIL, AHN, VEL. But I always enjoy two theme 15s crossing. @Martin A – my favorite mascot is the UC Santa Cruz Banana Slug. Of course, I have to be careful snickering at other college mascots when my mascot is the Tar HEELS.

I had a brief thought that today is Ash Wednesday. It would have been really sly to run it this coming March 1, 2017.

Lewis 7:03 AM  

So, on the one hand, the cluing was too direct overall for a Wednesday, and the only answer that perked my interest was ONE_ALARM. On the other, I learned PEDICAB (which I'll remember) and ABIGAILWILLIAMS (which I won't), I smiled at the contrasting cross of ONE_ALARM and AFIRE, I smiled again as I realized that a "B" in front of FOE would have made it a perfect cross with AFTA, and I smiled yet once again at the ego stroking this very quick Wednesday solve gave me. And so, still smiling, I'm going to put on my ActiveWear and go for a jog.

Alicia Stetson 7:11 AM  

Today's puzzle beautifully illustrates the problem with Rex's daily negative reviews: when you get a truly awful puzzle like this one, there is no way for him to make his review much worse than usual. The reaction is "there goes Rex again" rather than, "Whoa, this puzzle was much worse than average. Just look at how much Rex hated it."

Anonymous 7:14 AM  

Very easy for Wednesday. I recommend the Bergonzi/Price 1967 RCA recording of ERNANI and the 1952 Callas recording of "Macbeth".

Anonymous 7:46 AM  

I had forgotten the fighting Banana Slugs. What a game if the took on the Delaware Blue Hens. You can tell the puzzle didn't have much to offer when you veer into odd college mascots.

- Jim C. in Maine

Aketi 7:47 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Andrew Goodridge 7:49 AM  

Sadly, DNF to end my streak :/. On a Wednesday! I got married to "AtWAR" on 1a and just couldn't see what I was supposed to do for tI? / E?NANI. Oops.

As a graduate of U of A, I absolutely defend and praise ARIZONAWILDCATS spanning the grid. Bear Down!

Also, I don't see how STLEOI is not ok but LEOI or STLEO is ok. The clue specified "canonized" pope, so the ST kinda had to be there, and it specified 5th century, so I feel like that I had to be there too. Of course, I hastily type this comment as I am trying to get ready to go to work ... as a teacher at a Catholic HS. So perhaps I'm a bit biased.

I thought the theme was fine. I'm not really put off by an old idea for a theme, as long as the theme answers are fun. Most of these were pretty good, imo. But I wish the NW had a bit more polish. The SW needed a rewrite as well. I don't think ONEALARM is necessarily awesome fill, but the clue made me laugh. Probably because it reminded me of Ned Flanders telling his kids he might have to go to jail for overstating the number of alarms in his chili.

Aketi 7:50 AM  

Wow, that actually felt like a Monday to me. While I am nostalgic about AANDW root beer, which I actually haven't had since I was in my teens, the other As AND Ws felt a little like getting a tiny fleck of a ONE ALARM chili pepper in a dish that was ADvertized as extra hot.

Unknown 8:02 AM  

So why is there a picture on the blog of Barq's rather than A & W root beer?

Barbara 8:08 AM  

I love to solve complicate puzzles. It makes me think logically. This is a good training before I settle down to my work at essay dune.

Michele 8:12 AM  

I started doing crosswords again a couple of weeks ago, after a few years of not doing them. The main change I've noticed -- though this wasn't an issue in this puzzle -- is that the Times seems to have accepted some kind of payola from Uber not only to use the word every other day but to clue it exclusively as a car service and never again as a German superlative. I dunno if I'm imagining this but I feel like my return to Crossword is coinciding with some kind of lame streak. I am relieved that you disliked this one, too.

kitshef 8:17 AM  

Did I fall asleep for three days and wake up on Saturday? This thing was ridiculously hard, and ended up with a DNF at ABa/aRNANI.

Pago Pago is in American Samoa, which is different from Samoa. Not sure that counts as an error, precisely, but the distinction is important.

GRAZ ARNANI MTA ABA IRMA ATIVAN + six WoEs, all in the top third.

On the plus side, clue for SSW is vastly much better than the traditional "Harare to Pretoria direction".

kitshef 8:26 AM  

Now have read the comments, and interesting that where I found the puzzle ridiculously hard, everyone else found it easy. And where I love the clue for SSW, at least one other person hated it.

ONATIPOKNOW is a particularly bad row; ditto MTAGRAZVEL.

eveostay 8:29 AM  

The KOFI/KOLA kross got me. (I had C. Sigh.)

RooMonster 8:34 AM  

Hey All !
In the minority here, as I liked this pux. At least the theme. The fill was kind of iffy in spots. NW killed me. Maybe opera fans will get ERNANI easily, but us uncultured types never heard of it. :-) Crossed with ABE Burrows (who?), a Roman Goddess, a DIR(@LMS C_O), and a "ditto" for ASAMI, and cheating ensued.

One pretty neat writeover was iKNOW FOR OK NOW. I was like, "O KNOW? What the hey?" Also maNGY-DINGY, AtrA-AFTA, Civic-CAMRY.

Interesting grid design, shoehorning 8 themers in there, with not one, but Two grid spanning 15's. I'll take a puz like this with spread out dreck and an interesting (for me) theme. So I'll go stand over there by myself, I guess. :-)


evil doug 8:42 AM  

I'll go with the Presbyterian College Blue Ho's. Their mascot is an alien hooker with a ghetto blaster.

Leapfinger 8:54 AM  

Makes a lasting impression? I think artists wood cut it.

Made your basic chicken-hearted start with the NW Downs,  so ABE-CEO-WAN-DITTO happened. ERNANI forced CEO->DIR and DITTO ->SOAMI, but it took remembering that limited ADWAR to sort things out.  Once I had RENTA I was rolling down the APPIAN WAY. Just goes to show how the sequence defines the solve.  Liked having the MTA on the APPIAN WAY and RENTA Tebaldi crossing ERNANI. [When RENTA Tebaldi sang the lead in ERNANI, she used her moat's art to make Elvira mad again.]

@Loren, not sure if you're aware our beloved TarHeel town has a coven of its own. 'Sawright, however, since those WICCAns are all white [witches there].

@Martin A, incisive, as usual, but you rather ran dom into the ground, by my lights. Not sure it would be worth losing a random partial to clue ASA with AcetylSalicylic Acid (abbrev). I thought it weren't awesome  and twere aw-full only in your sense, more like just your random Wednesday AW shucks.  Me, living as I do out Mount Airy Way, really missed  having ANDY appear in place of ABIGAIL. I know it's short of the magic 15, but where there's a will, there's a way. [Cue Mayberry  theme music as I realize I was thinking of Andy Griffith...]

@LarryG, sorry, but I don't think not being a Kepler fan is a  reason to cut the GRAZ.  Yikes for sure about POOR DR OZ! since it takes more than being a general surgeon to be General Surgeon, he'd have a rough row TAHOE.  Should that ever come to pass, twould be a good time to buy stock in GNC. 

Kute touch to have konjoined KOLA-KOFI for a kaffeinated korner. And OZONE AFIRE merits a discussion all its own.

Ah well, as always,  all's well that ands well. See y'all tomorrow.

evil doug 8:56 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Wm. C. 9:00 AM  

@Mr.Evil --

Heh, heh ... That's the PC Blue Hose, of course. A fine South Carolina college, of Scots heritage. So-called because of their tradition of wearing blue stockings on the athletic field. Go Blue Hose!

Aketi 9:24 AM  

Haha @Evil Doug, way seek out the potentially DINGY side of blue stockings. I think you missed a much better opportunity to explore Evergreen State's geoduck mascot. The geoduck fight song seems right up your alley.

Anonymous 9:28 AM  

When I was little I got a tiny A&W glass root beer mug, that I cherished for years. I thought this puzzle was very good.

puzzle hoarder 9:29 AM  

This one was a medium for me. Burrows was an unknown and I wouldn't know a Verdi from a Puccini. I also had a couple of write overs CIVIC/CAMRY and MANGY/DINGY. Something I didn't write down but which wasted a little time was guessing MANGROVE for 56A. It's pretty out there but it does fit. The E of ERNANI was the last letter to go in. ABE was pretty obvious but the opera title just looked odd. It's tailor made for crosswords and I should be more familiar with it.

GILL I. 9:30 AM  

@Ellen S....Tsk Tsk. You have to get out more or at least take a break from the SPCA. We have the Sacramento Philharmonic & Opera. It ain't so bad for little neck Sactomato.
Well, I had that dreaded DNF. The only anxiety meds I know is XanaX. Could not see ATIVAN/VEL/KAOS. Thought there were three too many "Me Too's" but I sorta liked the theme. Little mini religion with ALTAR WINE, ST LEO goddess DIANA and WICCA who believe in a Moon Goddess and the Horn Goddess and then we have sweet ABIGAIL WILLIAMS with her fits and hysteria.
The best root beer is Dad's.....

Unknown 9:37 AM  

24D? Lead-in to cab. Pedi? Not registering.

GILL I. 9:43 AM  

Make that Horn God....Thank you.

chefbea 9:43 AM  

Tough for me. Too many things I did not know. But loved the theme and all the food..flambe, Irma Bombeck and chili and of course root beer. Grew up in St. Louis and alwas went to the A and W Root Beer stand. Had the best burgers and of course root beer

Nancy 9:47 AM  

Usually the revealer is supposed to help you get the theme answers. In this case, the theme answers helped me get the revealer. Since I didn't know if 61D was SSW or SSE, I also didn't know if the root beer was A AND W or A AND E. 1)I don't drink root beer and 2)The root beer of my day was Hires. Or Hire's; I don't remember. Anyway, I looked at the theme answers, noticed for the first time that they were all A-Ws and finished the puzzle.

I guessed at ATIVAN crossing KAOS -- because KAOS sort of sounded like a more villainous group than KOOS or KIOS. Since I'm not the most relaxed person on the planet, I think the fact that I didn't know ATIVAN is probably a Very Good Thing. Had to change eRMA to IRMA at 8D -- otherwise I would have ACED my WASH at 6A, and that seemed very strange indeed. Too many brand names, too many car models, for me to really like this puzzle.

Mohair Sam 9:52 AM  

Everything Rex said.

@Kitshef - Feel better, you're not alone - we found it challenging here too. We saw the asterisks, searched out the revealer, figured Barqs or AANDW, knew ABIGAILWILLIAMS and figured we were off and running. Unfortunately we were just off.

Our problem came in the NE. Thought BARRETTE didn't need the last TE, IMMOBILE had one M, VEL was "spd", KAOS was chAOS, SUNNI was SUNii, had Www for WEB, and never heard of ATIVAN or GRAZ. Took a long time sorting that out (cured by DROZ).

Speaking of which - Surgeon General? Why not Dr. Phil? Or let's have some real fun - Dr. Laura? Maybe Dr. J? - loved watching him operate.

@Alicia Stetson - Point well taken. I noticed even @LMS had to work hard to be nice today.

@Loren - Loved your WICCA / ABIGAIL crack. Had an annoying and noisy neighbor who was WICCAn - thank you so much for the delightful image (Nicole, we'd like you to meet our new friend ABIGAIL . . . ).

mathgent 9:53 AM  

I just learned that Mel Brooks created Get Smart; Buck Henry was also involved. The line I remember from the series is when Don Adams was defending a beautiful woman who is sitting on the witness stand in a provocative pose. "Ladies and gentlemen of the jury," Adams says, "are these the legs of a homicidal maniac?"

It had a little crunch but that's all. A weak C minus.

Tita 9:56 AM too...we didn't eat out so much that one of my earliest memories is bursting out crying when we reached the restaurant and I realized we weren't going on a picnic...
I think that was the last time I wore BARRETTEs.

(And ACME labeled your turf TOE experience "synchronicity"... I don't know what it is, but when the crosses filled it in for me, my breakfast sure was spoiled.)

@Martin...I much prefer the SSW requires a merely slight knowledge of arithmetic, rather than a specific knowledge of geography.

@Gill...thanks for pointing out the overall religion theme...

Puzzle had some really good fill and clues...y'all have mentioned them already. I include RENTAcop in that list, even though I always wince a bit when I hear that's just as demeaning as it is supposed to be. I suppose the theme was a bit ho-hum, but was a good solve.

Alex 9:57 AM  

Hmmm. This was solidly "medium," at least, for me. I was tripped up by that danged ERNANI, and a number of the should-be-easy four letter answers that I am to ashamed to enumerate. pcWAR by cIo made the NW tricky for me.
I'll trust all of you that this was a really bad puzzle. I don't think I have a good enough palate to really judge. Except for that awful Thursday from a couple of weeks back with all of the anagrams.

Nancy 10:11 AM  

@mathgent (9:53) -- The line you quote from "Get Smart" is priceless! You've made me sorry, now, that I never watched the show.

@Martin Abresch -- I loved, loved, loved your AW-ful bon mot.

Z 10:12 AM  

@Joseph Welling - It's a well known fact that Stefan Zweig and Jean Arthur preferred Barq's to A AND W.

@Andrew Goodridge - LEO RRN is crosswordese. St. Lo and the one letter longer St Leo are crosswordese. Combining crosswordese with crosswordese gives us crosswordese squared. For this Michael Dewey will have to do 20 Hail Rexes.

As for ERNANI, it's hard to remember something one has never heard of. Hence, I'm glad ABE Burrows had a common name. Although Abu Burrows has a nice ring to it.

@Gill I - Horny God?

"Barely spiced chili?" Why bother?

Ampersandwich themes - not my cuppa.

alton rockthrow 10:12 AM  

According to xwordinfo there has never been a NYT puzzle with the answers FETCH, SHOVEL and SWEEP. Today's puzzle was continuing that sad trend. If anyone knows of a puzzle from some other source that contains those answers please post a reference here. Thanks.

Leapfinger 10:17 AM  

Almost forgot. To keep company with RENTA Tebaldi, I'd like to submit La donna IMMOBILE.

@FredRom, if you're out there, apologies for not choosing Mario Lanza or Caruso.

Tita 10:23 AM  

And 2 more points...
Thanks for the birthday wishes...this was a big one, and the first to make me feel like I should feel old...!

And I just can't let that Rex comment from last Wednesday go...
In the spirit of we're-not-supposed-to-reveal-previous-answers, I'll just say that this...
I usually don't complain about what Rex complains about not knowing...but when he implies that it's not just obscure, but not worth knowing...
That City north of Lisboa is a beautiful place, and not at all obscure if you are an aficionado of a certain type of fortified wine. It is the gateway to a UNESCO World Heritage site.
And the aforementioned wines produced there are the reason for the oldes treaty in the world, between England and Portugal.

Oh...and the Brits will add the O to the front of that city, hence the reason for the Portuguese spelling.

You're welcome.

QuasiMojo 10:26 AM  

A&Wful. I swear I saw both "wan" and "Irma" in the LA Times puzzle yesterday (or at least the one that shows up in my paper.) And "wicca" just the other day. This theme was as dated as "acid wash" jeans. I love "Ernani" but the clue for it was forced. The opera is many wonderful things but it is hardly remembered for that. "Dingy" in my mind means "dark" not "dirty." So I first had "mangy" but not being a pet fancier, perhaps even that was wrong. Count me in among the "one alarm" chili crowd. I can't take too much of that extra-hot stuff anymore. Probably because I gave up sipping "altar wine" a long time ago.

Mohair Sam 10:27 AM  

@Z - Love Your reply to Joseph Welling.

JC66 10:28 AM  

Here's hoping @rex reads & heeds @Alicia Stetson's 7:11AM post.

Pete 10:37 AM  

Well, this puzzle continued the ineptitude of last night. Thanks world.

With nothing good to say about anything, I'll talk about WILDCATS. In the woods behind the parking lot behind my office there's a colony of feral cats. For years a local cat-benevolent-association had tried to capture and neuter the cats. Once they finally caught and neutered the last female, the built a house for the colony, registered the colony with the State as a licensed colony (OK, maybe there is such a thing as too much regulation if there are regulations about licensed feral cat colonies) and continue to care for, and feed (as required as the sponsor of the feral cat colony), the cats.

At the exact point where all the hard work had been done, random do-gooders also started feeding the cats. Five different people a day would feed the cats, to the point where buzzards started coming to eat the canned food. There would be a small flock of buzzards gorging on off-brand tuna, terrorizing the cats. The cat-benevolent-association put up an official State issued telling the random do-gooders not to feed the cats. The do-gooders were not to be dissuaded. I told the do-gooders that by leaving extra cans of food they were attracting vermin. Their reaction was that it wasn't their extra cans, it was other people's extra cans. I suggested that they read the official notice to not feed the (sponsored) feral cats. They felt it didn't apply to them.

I've started naming the buzzards. I'll call one Pence.

GILL I. 10:45 AM  

@Tita. You might also add that it was the Brits who developed Portuguese wine into port. My husband would like to thank all the kind people of the Douro Valley......

Masked and Anonymous 10:50 AM  

Only 74 words in this A&WedPuz. Knew a low word count might be brewin, when I saw just two words in each Across line, at the top and bottom. And 8 themers? Anticipated some tasty desperation. Wasn't disappointed.

Theme of root-beer-related phrases, evidently. Didn't seem to float @RP's boat. Was ok by m&e, but who the heck is ABIGAILWILLIAMS? Inventor of the root beer? [nope -- Charles Elmer Hires was the first marketeer, not A.W.]

How M&A solvequest began: Read 1-Across clue. Saw the extra asterisk upfront. Went lookin directly for the revealer, at the other end. Read 65-Across clue. Thought of A&W first thing, as used to grow up next to an A&W drive-in. Went back to 1-Across, and wrote in AD&WAR. Stopped to admire the weeject stack in the NW, losin a few precious nanoseconds. Rest of solve was fairly easy, except for ABIGAIL NOTHIRES, and these bullet-worthy pups:

* GRAZ. Learned somethin, here. Austria's second-largest city.
* ERNANANANI. Opera later covered by Sha Na Na.
* OKNOW. fave entry. Could also be re-parsed & clued as: {Who knows what notions Winfrey has??}.
* AHN. fave weeject & member of the semi-gorgeous SE weeject stack. Learned somethin again, altho since it's a disembodied name, not much hope of M&A Brain absorbin it successfully.
* RED. Least fave weeject, as it was too respectable to allow the SE weeject stack to become immortally desperate. As is, it is only 202.5° desperate.

Thanx, Mr. Dewey. Root beer. mm-mm.

Askedm & Wanonymo1Us

old timer 10:55 AM  

The Portuguese spelled it Oporto when I was there in 1966. Or at least my map of Spain and Portugal did. Probably when Salazar fell the name was changed. Also, the O comes back in compounds. Camara do Porto, cidade do Porto, etc. Plus the Spanish retain "Oporto" as the city name. Lovely city I agree,

Very easy for me, and a good thing too as i got almost no sleep last night, I knew GRAZ was a city in Austria, which helped, and ERMANI looked familiar.

I agree the fill could have been better. But I have a soft spot in my heart for AANDW, Root beer in their glass mugs was a real treat.

Anonymous 10:56 AM  

Leapfinger, we always call La donna IMMOBILE: ELEPHANT'S EARS.

Jane Thorne 11:05 AM  

Jihad, maybe?

oldbizmark 11:11 AM  

Northwest was a nightmare for me. Otherwise, easy puzzle.

Joseph Michael 11:16 AM  

Old fashioned theme with not much fizz.

Having just reread Miller's "The Crucible," ABIGAIL WILLIAMS was a gimme. Liked it and ACID WASH, but the themers otherwise felt flat. Hard to get excited about the fact that one word starts with A and the other starts with W.

So I have to say NAW and NAY to this puzzle. And, besides, I thought a BARRETTE was a small tavern.

Elephant's Child 11:24 AM  

@quasimojo, if your freshly-washed laundry is sadly characterized by 'dingy whites', it looks dirty rather dark. And Woe betide you.

Hartley70 11:30 AM  

I'm delighted you got that off your chest, @Tita. There's no need to let things fester when Rexworld is here to sympathize. Now am I supposed to use the O or not?

@Loren your packed lunch anecdote yesterday was perfection. I've read it to several friends who loved it as much as I did.

ERNANI, was brutal but the rest of the puzzle was just fine with me. Not knowing the WILDCATS or ABIGAILWILLIAMS made for some fun. I like a Wednesday with some bite. I suspect both a Wildcat and Abigail could be equally nasty in their day.

The frosty mug at AANDW in Attleboro, MA. was heaven on earth on a sweltering summer day when I was a kid. No root beer has ever tasted as good since, so I've had to become a cream soda afficionado. Stewart's in the glass bottle isn't half bad for anyone so inclined.

QuasiMojo 11:37 AM  

@elephants child -- haha! "Be-TIDE"? :)

Leapfinger 11:40 AM  

@Alec Schwartz, a pedicab is a rickshaw sort of thing with added superstructure which is attached to a bicycle the cabbie pedals.

Anony 10:56, La donna IMMOBILE was always a favourite for wordplay, since the days when college friend was going out with a fellow named Eddie Pencer, so whenever he joined the crowd, we'd all sing out that last bit. (He didn't have much else to recommend him, as I recall.)

@Pete, No good deed goes unruffled. Perhaps the do-gooders should incorporate as a licensed feral buzzard-feed society.

Elephant's Child 11:45 AM  

Good eye, @QuasiM. You pass.

Carola 11:50 AM  

I vote NAY on this theme, too. But it seems to have brought out the best in the comments - thanks to all.
DINGY? OxyClean.
After a drug reaction that took me to the ER with sky-high heart rate and blood pressure, I was sent home with some ATIVAN. I can see why people would get hooked.

@George Barany, thank you for the clip. Hvorostovsky, and I'm there.
@Ellen S, your Pennsylvania Ave: black humor at its finest.
@Loren, I got used to the KNOCKing for profs upon their entering the lecture hall and at the end of class when I was on a junior year program in Germany. Years later, in my German Department here, it was the custom to do the same for guest lecturers. I thought that was overdoing things. Oh, one of those guests was the then city poet of GRAZ.

AliasZ 11:55 AM  

A rather rudimentary theme today, I'm afraid. None of the chosen A-W entries were especially thrilling, except perhaps ABIGAIL WILLIAMS and the APPIAN WAY. It wouldn't have required an Allen wrench, arm wrestling, or straining your abdominal wall to get to the bottom of the artesian well of award-winning A&W phrases like atomic weight and Andy Warhol on Ash Wednesday.

Speaking of which, take a listen to this rather unconventional but impressive performance of the Pines of the APPIAN WAY from Ottorino Respighi's Pines of Rome.

Who can ever forget Al Pacino dancing to the tango Por una Cabeza by Carlos Gardel (1890-1935) in Scent of a Woman with Gabrielle ADWAR?

Numinous 12:20 PM  

A&W is the only root beer allowed into our house. Themers with A and W starting each word don't bother me one bit. I even find it vaguely amusing figuring out the combinations. I did, however, have a problem with ALTAR WINE. I just can't find any down at the local liquor store. I have served the wine in communions in the past and we usually had a nice Cabernet or Zinfindel. Somehow, neither of those worked in this puzzle. At least we never tried to use Mogen David.

Now Civic would have been a good answer for 7D IF Honda and Nissan hadn't already been used in the clue and IF Civic would would have been bigger than a compact. The cars mentioned were "full sized" sedans so CAMRY was the obvious answer as it is the one of the "big three" of Japanese cars that was left out. I've always wanted a Mitsubishi Eclipse painted dull gray with big red circles painted on the doors and a vanity plate that reads "ZERO".

I noticed that there was some crappy fill in this but I just didn't care. I never even saw 59, 60, and 61D. I had to go back and look to see what y'all were on about, AHN? Jeeze. Where?

So, I'm gonna go and stand next to @Roo. Where @Rex thought this was "all wet", it didn't dampen my spirits in the least.

OISK 12:26 PM  

Dasani, Camry, A and W, Afta, Tahoe, and Ativan hugely exceeds my allowable maximum of product clues. All were reasonably familiar, though, except Ativan, (????) That could be a problem for those who don't think of "velocity" as distance over time (more correctly, displacement over time. If I remember my physics correctly, distance over time is speed - scalar quantities, while displacement over time is the vector quantity, velocity) ) - I thought of speed and rate first myself.

I thought that Linz, not Graz was the second largest city in Austria. I was wrong, so I learned something today! Can never remember which team plays in Tempe, which in Tucson, but Arizona State didn't fit.

Get Smart! When the moon is full, the tide is high !

Dick Swart 12:37 PM  

I didn't mind an easy puzzle when it comes with great references in the comments.

* Carlos Gardel ... the Bing Crosby of SA!

* That trio from Ernani!

* And memories of A and W in icy glass steins at the drive-in with kids receiving free rootbeers in little tiny steins

Masked and Anonymous 1:12 PM  

Didn't even remember ATIVAN was in the puz, until ONATIP from readin @OISK's comment. Musta just filled in the crosses and moved on, during the solvequest. Certainly would not have known it, if I'd needed to. So, ATIVAN dodged the bullets, in M&A comment#1. My puz was on drugs, and I didn't even know it.
Thanx, @OISK.

I think it's also always kinda cool when someone misspells a puz answer in their comment, promptin everybody to worriedly recheck their grid, to see what they all may have just gotten wrong. Looks like ERNANI might be the big winner today, in that regard. Shoot, ERNANI even looks wrong, when it's right. Could be a misspell of ATIVAN, or somesuch.



Teedmn 1:21 PM  

I was initially "distress(ed)" to find my entry to 6A was actually ACID WASH. And AFTA is a WOE, along with ERNANI. The A&W drive-in was the main gathering of a summer's evening in our small town, with the car hops and all (it's now a DQ).

Fave non-ick line is column 4: RENT-A-SONG KOLA (new offering at the A&W drive-in?)

This puzzle did not leave me IMMOBILE with A&We but neither did it raise ONE ALARM. Thanks, MD.

And thanks, @Rex, and your partner in crime, Craig, for all the A-W twitterisms.

Andrew Heinegg 1:28 PM  

I got naticked at Ernani but only because I was dumb enough to put a t instead of a d at 1a. I couldn't figure out what member of a board would be abbreviated with the first two letters being 'ti'. Duh.

I am also with the OFL and the naysayers on this one. Too many commercial names and crossword trivia short answers to make it interesting.

As a former altar boy in a Brooklyn Catholic parish, I did the de rigeur secret tasting of the altar wine. In thinking about it years later, while never actually seeing a bottle with a name on it, I couldn't help but wonder if it was Manischewitz wine. It is/was a too sweet taste to me and I never had a notion to steal another sip. But, I did take note that some priests took ceremonial sips while others made sure there wasn't a drop left in the chalice (the Mass wine vessel).

Wm. C. 1:41 PM  

@AndrewH --

Ad Deum qui laetificat juventutem meum ...

Unknown 2:23 PM  

Since it seems like the thing to do to announce everyone's "gimmees":

ERNANI - opera
ABIGAILWILLIAMS - there is an opera based on The Crucible (also titled The Crucible).
GRAZ - There is an opera about the life of Kepler.

Once person's WTF = another person's wheelhouse! ;)

Numinous 2:39 PM  

@Pete, I liked your buzzard story. Or is it a cat story? Have you considered buying a BB gun? For the extra folks who feed the cats, not the Buzzards. (Protect the wildlife and all that.)

I've heard of ERNANI, I've even heard ERNANI, at least some of it. The name doesn't jump off the tip of my tongue like SUZI Quatro's but it is in the memory bank. Today I learned that it was the first opera recorded in its entirety. Fun Fact. Of course learning FFs is part of the attraction of crossword puzzles.

ABIGALE WILLIAMS I was dimly aware of but had forgotten. She reminds me of a character in a movie I saw when I was far too young for that sort of thing. The movie was "The Bad Seed" and as a ten or eleven year old, that movie creeped me out, My recollection of ABIGALE, wherever I came across her is that she creeped me out just as badly. Unctuous characters like that crop up from time to time.

Tom 2:51 PM  

Best part about finishing this puzzle was my last entry—WAN. Know a lot of operas, but not familiar with ERNANI. But WAN reminded me of one of my favorite lyric poets, Sir John Suckling. First of all he has a great name. And here's the poem:


Why so pale and wan fond lover?
Prithee why so pale?
Will, when looking well can’t move her,
Looking ill prevail?
Prithee why so pale?

Why so dull and mute young sinner?
Prithee why so mute?
Will, when speaking well can’t win her,
Saying nothing do’t?
Prithee why so mute?

Quit, quit for shame, this will not move,
This cannot take her;
If of herself she will not love,
Nothing can make her;
The devil take her.
—Sir John Suckling

Almost as good as my all-time favorite from that time by Robert Herrick, kind of a 17th century dirty old man:


Whenas in silks my Julia goes,
Then, then (methinks) how sweetly flows
That liquefaction of her clothes.

Next, when I cast mine eyes, and see
That brave vibration each way free,
O how that glittering taketh me!
—Robert Herrick

Definitely more than a ONEALARM poem...

Unknown 3:11 PM  

@Leapfinger. Thank you! Never heard of a pedicab before. Nice new word. Definitely not usual Wednesday NYT fare, IMHO.

Unknown 3:22 PM  

@M&A - I always enjoy reading your comments. Today, I laughed at your re-parsing of OK NOW. Reminded me of a certain ad campaign from the 80s. "O, you don't KNOW Diddley."

Aketi 3:24 PM  

@Alec, to add to Leapfinger's apt description, you can ride in PEDIcabs in NYC. They now compete with the horse carriages for tourists who want a ride around Central Park.

Mohair Sam 3:47 PM  

@Alec Schwartz - Pedicabs are ubiquitous in New York's Central Park, hence no surprise to find them in the NYT puzzle. They are a great way to see the park for out of town visitors, especially if you get a friendly driver (but bring your wallet). I'm still in favor of renting a bike.

@Nancy - I fully expected you to post a story about being run down by a PEDIcab in the park. Hey, we haven't been to the park for a few years - has the new Mayor succeeded in shutting the horse carriage rides through the park? Last time we took one was during Christo's "The Gates."

@Evil Doug - When I read your post earlier I had no idea that the Presbyterian College logo was actually Blue Hose. The delayed laugh made it all the better - great stuff.

jberg 3:50 PM  

C'mon folks, why all the bitching about ERNANI? You don't have to know when it was recorded, just that it's a Verdi opera starting with E. Surely you've memorized them all?

Seriously, thanks to @George Barany for the clip. As a bonus, I think those are epees that the two men are waving around so ineffectually.

My only gripe, other than the aforementioned dullness, was the cluing of OZONE. It is indeed a greenhouse gas, but that's not what it's known for-- first, protecting us from UVB in the stratosphere, and then causing all kinds of health problems down low. Too hard a clue for a Wednesday, even if the Z made it a gimme.

Also, ASAMI and ASA together? At least clue the latter as 'botanist Gray,' or something more interesting.

Late in the day, I'd better start working!

Hungry Mother 4:36 PM  

Thought I was buying a DNF today until I filled in DIR to get the TaDa. Mostly easy for my perception of Wednesday puzzles. My kids and spouses are DIRs or VPs, so this should have easy for me.

TomAz 5:02 PM  

I didn't think this was that bad. Played pretty normal Wednesday for me. In his writeup Rex displays the level of vituperativeness I thought Saturday's puzzle deserved.

Chim cham 7:40 PM  

After looking up who ABE Burrows is I was rewarded with a great new cultural reference point, but also completely bummed out to find that, as a person born the year before he died, I shouldn't know who he is. The bummer is that he's the very type of figure I love to know all about BECAUSE I shouldn't know of him. Tactfully drop a reference like that around someone twice your age and the look on their face is priceless:)

Struggling 8:03 PM  

Think I'll get a Valerie ringtone. Thanks for posting that great clip. Made my night.

AnonyMoi 8:23 PM  

@Tom, a sweet disorder in the dress... Nice!

Nancy 9:18 PM  

@Mohair (3:47)-- We don't see many PEDIcabs in the park above 86th St, thank heaven. It's crossing the Park Drive to get to the Boathouse at 76th that's the real problem. Also walking down on the West Park Drive to 59th St. But bikes, OMG, whizzing by at 40 mph, in the park, on the street, on the sidewalk, going in the wrong direction, going through lights. It's bikes, not PEDIcabs that will be the death of me. And, yes, I mean that quite literally. Other NYers worry about terrorist attacks; I worry about being hit by a bike. I estimate the odds of being run down by a bike are 800,000 times greater than being hurt in a terrorist attack for any given person. I'm thinking of writing a memoir on the subject, to be called:

I'm Just Roadkill

I also have a mystery, set on the Upper East Side, in mind. I will title it:


Anonymous 10:48 PM  

@nancy, it's late so you might not read this and it's totally off topic. When my son was a baby a friend came from Africs with his two kids, one of whom was a totally hyperactive seven year old. I'm not sure why I did this but I volunteered to take care of the boys violating my rule that adults should always outnumber the kids. Little David, the seven year old, had never seen crosswalks before and it was a challenge to get him to the park intact. In the park, David wanted to push the stroller. I had at least enough common sense to recognize that I should out my son into the Baby Bjorn and not let David pretend that he was a PEDIcab driver with my son in the stroller. He had actually seen PEdIcabs in Africa and in Bangladesh, II thought It was a challenge to keep David safe while crossing the streets of Manhattan, but that was nothing compared to trying to keep David from killing others withthat stroller as he crazily ran up hills and then launched the stroller down hills so he could run after it while everyone scattered in all directions to get out of the way of the stroller.

Unknown 11:29 PM  

Well everyone else was bored, but I was thrilled. My name is Abigail Williams so I will treasure this crossword always, even if the clue wasn't "amazingly beautiful and accomplished woman" ;)

Mohair Sam 9:59 AM  

@Anon 10:48

Hope you see this - told my wife to check Nancy's post from late last night, she did and then read me yours. The picture of the joyous kid terrorizing park goers with the stroller is a delight, although I think I may have been one of his victims!

Unknown 9:21 PM  

Even if you're on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there. Thanks for sharing you knowledge :)

spacecraft 10:39 AM  

DNF. When I saw the asterisk by the first clue, I scanned for the revealer clue, found it, and immediately groaned. My pet peeve is not only in the puzzle: it's the revealer! AAAAUGH!!

That in itself wasn't quite enough to make me quit, but when I hit the double natick at 2-down it was all over. "A_WAR" made no sense to me, and that ridiculous gaggle of letters for the Verdi opera made even less. _I_? Well, I guess the clue threw me; of course the director is de facto a board "member," but we're accustomed to thinking that a mere "member" is something other that the DIR. ADWAR is fine; I just didn't think of it.

I will not deny that after last night's global disaster, a feeling of "Why bother?" prevails. The days of civilization are numbered; they always were, but today that number has plummeted.

I didn't even get far enough to uncover a DOD. Lost ball; picked up.

Burma Shave 12:17 PM  


even HAI on ATIVAN she’s fine,
AFTA a mix-up with AANDW somehow,
and more than a NIPAT ALTARWINE.


rondo 2:31 PM  

I really wanted DIR to be a C_O for too long. It also took some doing to get mph converted to VEL. The rest was a piece of cake.

@DIANA, LIW – you made the puz again. Yeah baby and congrats!

Worked on a road project once with a connection to WICCA. One residence along the road was owned by the publisher of Llewellyn Publications and according to neighbors the WICCANs held their seasonal celebrations there. Probably included some sort of ALTARWINE. Strange goings-on according to said neighbors. I see he died a year and 2 days ago.

First illicit bottle of WINE was Bali HAI. About a buck for the bottle and another for the handling charge, to a recently returned and sympathetic ‘Nam vet. Had a good time at the teen dance at the community center that night.

KOFI Annan graduated from Macalaster College right here in St. Paul, MN.

Yesterday’s results seem POOR to me, but maybe I’m BIASED.

Anonymous 2:53 PM  

I do crosswords for fun. This one rated high on fun, and was challenging for a Wednesday, too. So there, you who say nay!

Diana,LIW 4:12 PM  

The deLorean took me to the wrong day after I checked out Rex on 11/9/16. So tomorrow's comment is about today. Most comments were very short, and not much about the puzzle.


rain forest 12:09 AM  

Puzzle was OK.
I weep for the USA.

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