Octave's follower in some poetry / THU 12-8-16 / Subj group with noted gener imbalance / Groundbreaking 1990s ABC sitcom / Old-timey not / Hoppy quaff for short

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Constructor: Damon Gulczynski

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: Abbreviation-as-word — two-letter abbreviations, where letters are normally pronounced individually, are clues as if they were two-letter words. Wackiness ensues.

Theme answers:
  • 17A: Singers who go from "solo" straight to "ti"? (LA DODGERS)
  • 25A: Comedians who do material on the Freudian psyche? (ID CARDS)
  • 37A: "Young 'uns, yer cuzzins are heare" and others? (PA ANNOUNCEMENTS)
  • 46A: Shipping containers on Italy's longest river? (PO BOXES)
  • 58A: What Stephen King's editor provided for a 1986 novel? (IT SUPPORT) 
Word of the Day: RADIOHEAD (3D: Band that used a pay-what-you-want model to sell their 2007 album) —
Radiohead are an English rock band from Abingdon, Oxfordshire, formed in 1985. The band consists of Thom Yorke (lead vocals, guitar, piano, keyboards), Jonny Greenwood (lead guitar, keyboards, other instruments), Ed O'Brien (guitar, backing vocals), Colin Greenwood (bass), and Phil Selway (drums, percussion, backing vocals). They have worked with producer Nigel Godrich and cover artist Stanley Donwood since 1994. // After signing to EMI in 1991, Radiohead released their debut single "Creep" in 1992. It became a worldwide hit after the release of their debut album, Pablo Honey (1993). Their popularity and critical standing rose in the United Kingdom with the release of their second album, The Bends (1995). Radiohead's third album, OK Computer (1997), propelled them to international fame; with an expansive sound and themes of modern alienation, it is often acclaimed as a landmark record of the 1990s[1] and one of the best albums of all time. The group's next albums Kid A (2000) and Amnesiac (2001), recorded simultaneously, marked a dramatic change in style, incorporating influences from experimental electronic music, 20th-century classical music, krautrock, and jazz. Despite initially dividing listeners, Kid A was later named the best album of the decade by Rolling Stone, Pitchfork and the Times. [...] Radiohead have sold more than 30 million albums worldwide. Their work places highly in both listener polls and critics' lists of the best music of the 1990s and 2000s. In 2005, they were ranked 73rd in Rolling Stone's list of "The Greatest Artists of All Time"; Jonny Greenwood (48th) and O'Brien were both included in Rolling Stone's list of greatest guitarists, and Yorke (66th) in their list of greatest singers. In 2009, Rolling Stone readers voted the group the second-best artist of the 2000s. (wikipedia)
• • •

Concept feels ancient, and much of the cluing feels quaint (by which I mean highly NYT-crossword-conventional, culturally and chronologically), but the theme is consistent enough, and you do get two nice long Downs in the bargain, so all in all, it's fine, I guess. The two Downs actually feel like they're from a completely different puzzle. It's like a pretty cool themeless from 2016 tried to shove its way into a fusty tea room where people still say POOP when they mean "inside information" and reminisce about Admiral NELSON while leafing through their Poor Richard's Almanacks as "Downton Abbey" plays in the background and NARY a scone crumb is left on one's plate (ELSIE the spokescow is a major figure in this imaginary world). But seriously, RADIOHEAD and IN THE ZONE are nice answers.

I don't like EX-ARMY, but I once put EX-NAVY in a puzzle, so I am formally barred from legitimate expression of dislike here. The puzzle was pretty easy overall. My only slowness came from wrong guesses, or (in one case) completely failing to understand the phrasing of the clue. It took what felt like forever just to get WOLF (once OGRE went in, anything else was hard to imagine) (1D: Villain in some fairy tales). And I compounded difficulties up there by guessing ROAN (?) over ARAB (2D: Spirited horse). ROAN was a "horse" reflex, and I reflexed wrong. I forgot what Poor Richard's Almanack was. Completely. So ADAGES took some crossing. 5x5s are always dicey propositions—no short toeholds to get you started—and so the NE and SW corners were mildly daunting: only one narrow way in, no way out. They definitely took more thought/time than other parts of the grid, particularly the SW, where I had to back in. Looking at that corner now, though, I must've just not looked at the themer initially, because PO BOXES is obvious from the clue (if you've figured out the theme already). Anyway, there was minor flailing down there.

The clue that threw me the most was 35D: Subj. group with a noted gender imbalance (STEM) (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math). I see what the clue is *trying* to do here, but ... a "subj. group" can't have a gender imbalance. Science is just Science. Engineering, engineering. The *field* (which is made up of people —teachers, majors, professionals, etc.) can / does have such an imbalance. But between the abbr. "Subj." (awk) to the context-free quality of the clue, I had no idea what I was looking at, what was being asked for, on a literal level. I was further hampered by having a daughter who takes a lot of STEM classes and wants to be an engineer, and who is being bombarded by promotional material from colleges touting the relative gender parity of their engineering programs (shout-out to tiny OLIN College, an engineering school that has the gender balance of their student population at almost 50/50; hey, there's a new way to clue OLIN—you're welcome, crossword constructors). Anyway, for personal reasons, my brain doesn't make the STEM-is-for-boys connection quite so readily as it's supposed to. Also, who says SCHMO when they mean "jerk"? Maybe someone in the Fusty Tearoom? I don't know. But the only appropriate clue for SCHMO that I know is [Joe ___].

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

P.S. the "T" in STEM and the "T" in IT SUPPORT mean the same thing. Judges say ... yeah, that's a dupe. Red card!

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Charles Flaster 5:30 AM  

Same solving experience as Rex with four writeovers slowing me down--DEAD ON for hEAD ON, MOTLEY for MedLEY, IMAC for IpAd and TRI for dis.
Liked the creative clue UNTIE; in fact it reminded me of the old joke about Will Knot.
LA DODGERS was also a wonderful themer!
Thanks DG

Anonymous 5:34 AM  

This puzzle's good.

Unknown 5:37 AM  

I enjoyed @Damon Gulczynski's puzzle, and @Rex's take on it.

Yeah, STEM is a big deal in academia. Click here for an example of what we're trying to do about it.

It was funny to see LA_DODGERS today, after yesterday's LEFT-HANDED @Clayton Kershaw (in the clue) // @Sandy Koufax (in @Rex's graphic).

Don't expect any history-changing announcements out of PA, or, for that matter, MI or WI. But thanks for not referencing Director Comey in the FBI clue.

chefwen 5:40 AM  

I don't know what wheel house I stumbled upon, but this whole week has been so easy for me it was almost boring.

Caught on here with PO BOXES and just backtracked to fill the rest of the theme answers. Filled in a lot of real estate with 37A and just worked off of that.

Was anxious for Rex to post as I thought he would rip this apart, and he LIKED it, go figure. I guess I'll quit trying to second guess.

I suppose Fri. and Sat. will knock me off my high horse, so I'll zip it now.

Loren Muse Smith 6:09 AM  

Easy Thursday. I bet this list of themers wasn't so easy to come up with. There just aren't a lot of two-letter words to play around with. I’m with @Charles Flaster - loved LA DODGERS – my first themer – so the aha moment came early. It made me laugh. I pictured a group of madrigals singing songs but going all tight-lipped and silent on any LA note.

And you can work the theme backwards to revisit entries, which is what I've sat here doing since I don't want to go to work…

PO OP – secret plan to overtake UPS in the delivery wars
UN TIE –special power-red Hermes reserved for security council meetings
PE SCI – exercise physiology
PA USE – making announcements
ER IN – special connection that helps shoot you to the top of the triage order
LA MAS – mothers in the City of Angels
TI LED...in the musical note polls because everyone was dodging that &%$# LA

Looking at words, letters, expressions, re-examining them, reparsing… is endlessly fun for me – so by definition I like all crossword puzzles. I really got a kick out of the unexpected twist Damon gave to these two-letter words.

Greg 6:48 AM  

Blazingly easy, except for the NELSON/LOUPE/POOP area down in the south-central, which tied me up significantly longer than anything else. The admiral means nothing to me, I can never remember loupe, and I still don't get the poop clue.

Lewis 6:52 AM  
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Lewis 7:00 AM  

@rex -- Even if you've done it in one of your puzzles, you can still dislike it.

This was a work-at-it solve for me. I was AT_IT for what felt like ALL_DAY. It probably didn't take longer than my average Thursday, but because my concentration level was so amped, it just felt longer. This is not a bad thing. It made my successful solve sweeter.

It's a cool word-playing theme, and in the grid I found a WOLF down, the fun-to-say ASTO/MENU/ETTU zone, and an intersection of POOP and LOUPE (which I don't want to think about any longer). I think the puzzle would have been more elegant without the non-theme question marked clues, but that is the nittiest of nits.

So for me, a happy tale of trial and effort. I liked it ATON.

CFXK 7:03 AM  

hmmm. Isn't the T in IT support simply the second letter of a Stephen King novel title - as clued? The conceit here is that the solver may see something else (in this case I.T.) but that something else isn't actually there in the puzzle - it's a misperception. The puzzle is about tricking one's perception.

Though, admittedly, I'm not really up on the finer points of crossword construction customs.

TED Cole 7:05 AM  

This was a good 'un.

Dorothy Biggs 7:49 AM  

Here's one thing I like about xword puzzles and when constructors get the cluing right: 1D reads "Villain in some fairy tales." Obvs, ogre is the go-to villain in xwords...but that word *some* was well placed and even though I put in ogre, I was in no way convinced it was right...it took me awhile to we that 1A was probably WARP and I jettisoned ogre without looking back at all. Only in xwords do you know that "a villain in fairy tales" is an ogre, but "a villain in some fairy tales" is not and will never be an ogre. If you do these often enough you get to know the code.

Speaking of code, "not knot" to the normal person on the street would be meaningless...I knew immediately it was UNTIE. I wasn't happy about it, mind you, but again...code.

Did you know that the Farmer's Almanac has a hole punched through it in the upper left corner so that you can hang it somewhere for close reference? Poor Richard...smh.

mathgent 7:50 AM  

I can't relate to the comments of Rex and others listing original entries which were wrong and had to be changed. I think that this is a problem primarily for speed-solvers. To get a fast time, a speed solver probably puts in the first word that comes to mind after reading a clue.

I don't have many such corrections because I don't write in an entry unless it seems to be consistent with at least one of its crosses. And I don't time myself. It might also have to do with the fact that I solve on paper in pen.

Disappointed that we had a rebus-less Thursday. What we had was sound but without sparkle. Can't do better than a C.

chefbea 8:07 AM  

Didn't understand the puzzle at all!!! Had to come here to learn what it as all about.

r.alphbunker 8:11 AM  

16A. {Not knot?} ELOPE-->UNTIE
14A. {Like some accounts} IRAS-->ORAL

Jeff Chen's word list did not like ALS, APPT and INTRA

Details are here

M. David Hornbuckle 8:19 AM  

"Schmo" doesn't mean "jerk." It means "stupid person." Not that a single individual couldn't be both, but the clue is off on that one.

kitshef 8:23 AM  

A really nice puzzle, even @Rex won't be able to complain about this one, thought I as I finished with the M from ENEMY. Little junk, cool theme, mix of classic and modern references, what's not to like? (other than wanting a rebus...)

Well, he found a way. He had to count the very recent Downton Abbey as 'old' to get there. He had to interpret IT SUPPORT as I.T. SUPPORT. He had to dismiss SCHMO as old fashioned -- a word that is probably more popular today than it ever has been.

And the criticism was pretty mild. So let's call this praising with faint damnation.

Remember when ELLEN was called These Friends of Mine?


Passing Shot 8:32 AM  

Easy overall, but A TON of difficulty in the SW corner. Couldn't see ODIUM to save my life, and BLAst vs BLARE didn't help. Agree with others that SCHMO does not equal "jerk." I graduated from college a few years before RADIOHEAD hit the scene so they were never on my MUSIC radar, but it sounds like I need to give them a listen.

Anonymous 8:36 AM  

Really easy and really boring.

Jon Alexander 8:53 AM  

Very easy...really no stumbles except for OGRE out of the gate and even that was changed quickly...got the theme right away so was easy to get at those answers who he'd helped for some of the more "fusty" answers

Stanley Hudson 8:59 AM  

Very easy for a Thor's Day.

GILL I. 9:11 AM  

Was this Tuesday? I'm feeling like @chefwen. I know I'm just going to die Friday or Saturday.
@Rex said it all for me. Had the same STEM problem but I got WOLF off the F in Clarice's org.
I have an old Poor Richards Almanac that my grandmother gave me. I tried to memorize some adages from my hero Ben Franklin but the older I get, the more a forgetful SCHMO I become. The one I liked I had to look up because I couldn't remember exactly how it went - so here goes: "Women and wine, game and deceit make the wealth small and the wants great." Hah! Little did he know. I think I liked it because it started with Women and Wine.
Didn't know RADIO HEAD nor IN THE ZONE but they were sure easy to get. Jesus A LOU do you know how many maids there are in Downton Abbey...? I got EDNA because I knew LOU's disease and I knew EDGAR was a mystery award...I didn't know POOP was a dope...I thought it was dog caca. Hey, I learned something new.
I don't like it when the MUSIC'S over.....

Tita 9:14 AM  

Thanks for those alternates, @lms...esp. TI LED's clue.
@NCAPres...perfect explanation of the "some" convention. It carries over to the "many" which had me fuming at 12D... in *many* mosaics??? Really?! By definition, mosaics are made up of tiles...till I googled and realized...bits of glass, pebbles, etc., etc...

I liked this puzzle plenty, even if it's not quite tricky or hard enough for a Thursday. It was very easy to grok the theme. My favorite one is PO BOXES.

Mohair Sam 9:26 AM  
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Nancy 9:29 AM  

I liked the droll clue for LA DODGERS and the clever clue for ELSIE. But if you're not going to have a Thursday rebus, what you put in its place should be pretty great. This was not that. Most of the theme answers seemed forced to me. With the exception of ELSA before EDNA at 5A (I must remember to remember my downstairs characters better), there was NARY a problem for me in a puzzle that just seemed STALE, somehow. I'm with @NCA Pres in that, while I knew "Not knot" was UNTIE, I didn't have to like it. I would say that I solved this at WARP speed -- except that I don't do anything at WARP speed.

QuasiMojo 9:32 AM  

Sometime Rex's comments about people older than himself are downright offensive. Let it go, Rex. There are people who are older and smarter and wiser than you. That does not make them "stale" or over-the-hill or irrelevant. Scones and Downtown Abbey and Poor Richard's Almanac are very much IN and OF the present. So get over it. Personally I'd rather have old Dames and Ednas and Hennys instead of Olsen Twins and Joe Pesci and Ellen.

This puzzle was prickly and contrived. Aside from minor irritants such as "chai latte" -- a latte is a thing only in America. Latte means milk in Italian (ciao, Elsie!) and therefore can be used with any word. A chai latte is basically green paint. (Wasn't there an old joke about "green milk"?)

As for Schmo, doesn't Joe Schmo mean just any old guy? I don't recall it implying that he is also an idiot.

Perhaps I am for taking the trouble to finish this one. I hope tomorrow's puzzle affords us a bit more pleasure and fewer punches below the belt from OFL.

ArtO 9:33 AM  

Aha moment came with LADDODGERS and just moved steadily through thereafter. Thought this was fun and appreciated the theme. Too damn much carping about it from OFL. I understand the desire for perfection but it's often the enemy of the good (as some are wont to say) and this puzzle certainly rated a "good." (IMHO)

Mohair Sam 9:42 AM  

The proper definition of SCHMO is neither "jerk" nor "stupid person." A "SCHMO" is best defined as any person, living or dead, who disagreed with my brother-in-law Carl, rest his soul. May I never hear that word again.

Awfully easy for a Thursday - but kinda different, and fun. I stumbled here and there, but Lady M zipped right through, she actually had to spell "d-o-z-e-n" for me and say "get it?" for me to understand ZEE. Didn't sleep well last night. I was insulted for a second when I thought PA meant the Commonwealth hereof and not a father.

@NCA President - The hole in Poor Richard's is to let you hang it by a string in the outhouse. Keeps it dry.

@Rex - IN THE ZONE has been around a long time (I know, my only hoops skill was shooting) - I'm surprised it passed your test.

AZPETE 9:57 AM  

Disappointed in lack of a Doors link.

Pete 9:59 AM  

Unfortunately, "Downton Abbey" is very much in present - it's the go-to programming for my sad little third-tier PBS station's current fund drive. It's actually much worse the nth time around than it was the first time - you no longer have any reasonable hope that everyone gets crushed by the house falling to pieces due to its inevitable decay from time and its innate irrelevance. I guess it's better than the "Classics of Do Wop" or "Celtic Women", but not that much. If someone could explain why, when they're begging for money, they put on crap that no one likes rather than their normal programming which their viewers presumably like I would appreciate it.

Hartley70 10:01 AM  

This was quick and easy like a box of Jiffy muffin mix. That's not to say I didn't enjoy it while it lasted. Yum. The theme worked for me and I really liked @Loren's clever list of additional theme entries.

I was mindlessly cruising along through the river of clues when I realized "jerk" was leading me toward a collision with SCHMO. @Mohair Sam has his Carl and I have my Marie. I can see her standing with her weight on one leg and her hand on the opposite hip, admonishing the current object of her displeasure with "Don't be a SCHMO!". It was always said with the greatest disdain. I haven't heard the word since and never want to hear it again. In fact, I refuse to consider it even a word. When I rule the world it will be gone. I suppose that to her, who would be 106 today, it was the equivalent of a-hole, much worse than a "jerk".

John Child 10:14 AM  

@Pete: Ha ha ha. Riverdance or Blue Man Group. Or maybe a root canal. "No. make it stop. Here's my check."

RooMonster 10:19 AM  

Hey All !
Was going to complain about some themers where you only said the abbr., but after reading @Mohairs getting of PA (which is what I thought originally, [and saying why not VA or TN?]), I realized that the clues meant for you to sound out the "word", but it also is the abbr. as a second pronunciation. Did that make sense?

Died in the NW for some reason. Couldn't see WARP, had iRAs for ORAL, and forgetting PLO left me with_iLF and _sO. So hit Reveal Word for 1A. Ouch. SW took a while also, but managed to get all that. PO River a WOE. And USAIR just stopped last year, no? ZEE took a second to parse. I was like, isn't there 26 letters? :-)

@Lewis, there is also MESS UP down. Not sure of the significance. And a U in
in the last square. Unusual.

To everybody not understanding POOP in the context here, it means the details (DEETS, har!) of something. The scoop, the skinny, what it's all about. Get it?

Liked it overall, felt more like a Wednesday. Oh, and I am EXARMY! In case you cared...


DJG 10:29 AM  

As always, solvers who want more inside poop on this puzzle can visit my blog: scrabbledamon.blogspot.com/.

A few other comments:
1) The STEM clue wasn't mine, but I think it's a fine clue.
2) I also think of SCHMO as being synonymous with "stooge," but "jerk" is literally a dictionary definition of SCHMO in every dictionary I consulted. In Merriam-Webster's online dictionary the single word "jerk" is the only definition given.

jberg 10:52 AM  

As too many of you noticed, I got a little confused the other day between the StL CARDS and the AZ CARDS. So after I got LA DODGERS, and then saw ID CARDS filling itself in from crosses, I figured maybe they were a soccer team, or field hockey, or something. But no, the puzzle was going in a different direction.

During August and September, while my wife was recovering from a broken neck, we watched the entire Downton Abbey series, one episode per night -- so I confidently put in anNA right off the bat at 5A. I enjoyed it, but I can see why some might not. Now that we've finished it, we can no longer agree -- she wants to watch Fawlty Towers, and I want The Wire.

I too objected to SCHMO=jerk, but you can use them interchangeably in such phrases as "some poor SCHMO/JERK is going to have to clean that up."

It was OK, but my PA never talked like that. Was this meant to refer specifically to PA Kettle?

@Loren, great list, but I don't think TI LED works, as you don't pronounce the letters. But you could do it in reverse: special efficient for illuminating the note after la.

Joseph Michael 11:01 AM  

Liked the new definitions for LA DODGERS, PO BOXES, and PA ANNOUNCEMENTS and the long downs as well. But felt this should have run on a Wednesday due to its level of difficulty and rebuslessness.

Could have done without the POOP, especially over poor ANNE. But I guess that's life in the crossword world.

jae 11:02 AM  

Yes, pretty easy for a Thurs. Kinda cute, liked it.

Noam D. Elkies 11:07 AM  

As I recall 45A:SCHMO is thought to be a euphemism for "schmuck", which is indeed Yiddish for jerk/a-hole, and at least as vulgar as the (un-bowdlerized) a-hole because it literally means "penis" -- so I'm still a wee bit surprised to see it in the NYTimes crossword after the SCUMBAG hoo-hah. Nice puzzle; thanks for explaining 61A:POOP.

Seth 11:23 AM  

But...the T in IT SUPPORT here doesn't stand for Technology, so...no dupe! Red card for flopping!

Warren Howie Hughes 11:27 AM  

@33 Across, I was sorta Leaning to PISA, but then I suddenly decided instead to skip to ALOU, my darling!

Anonymous 11:32 AM  

@Seth - Wha? IT support = Information Technology Support. The people who tell you to reboot when your PC crashes.

old timer 11:57 AM  

Very Easy Thursday. LA DODGERS (Boo! says this Giants fan) helped with the remaining themers.

Hands up for not understanding POOP in the context of "dope", and I agree, POOP is almost no longer in the dictionary in the sense of information or news. Its fecal meaning has pretty much taken over. I also never heard of that King novel but took it on faith that IT was right.

OTOH, the clue for STEM was DEAD ON. "Subj. group" = group of subjects, precisely what STEM is.

Malsdemare 12:11 PM  

@dlg Thanks for showing up. I really love it when constructors pop in to give their own inside POOP on the puzzle. I liked the puzzle though I finished too soon. Since I can't bear to read the news for more than five minutes these days, I need other things to occupy my brain while I wake up. Thank God the weekend is coming with tougher puzzles, I hope.

I was quite pleased to instantly know NELSON; names of anyone are rarely in my wheelhouse, though I did pop in Anna for the Downton Abbey maid, but malsdeJay is a model shipbuilder and our favorite construction is the Victory. Typically, he does a bunch of research on a ship while he's building, and of course shares it all with me because, you know, who else could possibly care how many gun ports the San Phillippe carried, or how hard it is to make all the ratlines on a three-masted ship. For the Victory, he actually used his frequent flyer miles to go to England for a weekend to visit the still-commissioned ship. So the Admiral was a gimmee.

I appreciate REX's personal response to the STEM clue, but even with two daughters active in science, I'm still quite aware of the imbalance of the sexes in STEM fields. But I was thrown by the implication that the imbalance was in the subject, not the people working in the field.

The only reason I got ELLEN and PESCI is because I do crosswords. I've never seen Ellen, though I know who she is, and have seen a Pesci movie exactly once. I have no idea why I knew RADIOHEAD, though I needed quite a few crosses to see it. Guess I'm old. But REX has already pointed that out. Thanks, buddy.

Now to immerse myself in genealogy, one way to not only avoid the present but to put it in perspective. Nothing like logging the deaths of five of your children to TB before they are thirty to make you realize there are some improvements in our lot that we can hope won't change.

Anoa Bob 12:44 PM  

Ex-Navy here. I do a workshop for our local sailing club, called "Why Knot", and one of the criteria for knots is how easy they are to UNTIE (16A). Like @NCA President, I knew right away that the clue "Not knot" would code UNTIE and at the same time knew it was wrong. "Not knot" would mean there is no knot there in the first place, so nothing there to UNTIE.

Like seeing IN THE ZONE. It can apply to lots of activities. In billiards it's also called being In Stroke or In DEAD Stroke. It means that you are no longer deliberating about all the DEETS of a shot, you automatically, instinctively see what needs to be done and, as the ad says, Just Do It.

Once tried to watch an episode of Downton Abbey. Couldn't do it. But I do have a jeweler's LOUPE, so maybe I'm not a total SCHMO.

Good word-nerd stuff with ODIUM, PHENOM & MOTLEY.

Anonymous 12:56 PM  

It's not enough that the NYTimes, Obama and the Left bombards us with gender issues, now it creeps into NYTimes crossword puzzles on a near daily basis. There's STEM which is needlessly and awkwardly clued with gender. And ELLEN, a once quirky but funny show that turned into a weekly proselytization, which explains why barely a year after the Puppy Episode, the show died. Not because we're a bunch of bigots. We just don't like be lectured at in what is supposed to be a comedy. ENOUGH!

Masked and Anonymous 1:27 PM  

LADODGERS: Primo themer. All but one themer was plural. The IT-one evidently woulda been a plural of inconvenience. Didn't really sidetrack my enjoyment any, tho. Cool theme; worth it, just to get LADODGERS, as clued.

PA-themer clue was interestin. The quote almost needs a "…hide the silverware!" endin, or somesuch. Kinda temporarily mind-blowin, that this themer started out PAANN+… Started worryin about the authenticity of my CHAI and RADIOHEAD guesses.

Any puz that features POOP has obviously been crafted by a master-level constructioneer. I mean, shoot -- there's yer rodeo. Nice to have ONIT right next-door, too boot.

fave Downton Abbey maid: ANNA. This didn't cost m&e a whole precious ton of nanoseconds, due to EDGAR's help. Not sure which maid EDNA was, however.

fave weeject: POM. Potential better clue, clearly = {Mop up??}.

Fun solve. Thanx, Mr. G.

Masked & Anonym007Us


Teedmn 1:34 PM  

My go-to explainer of all things Yiddish (a co-worker) says that a SCHMO falls between a "schlemiel" and a "nebbish"; a schlemiel is a person who spills coffee and the schmo is the person who gets spilled on. So not a jerk so much as unlucky.

After a 16 minute Wednesday solve yesterday, I was surprised to get a 9 minute Thursday, so I guess I'm in the stodgy, STALE wheelhouse @Rex complains about.

RADIOHEAD was not only a gimme, I had just determined that I was going to buy their latest album after reading in today's NYTimes that it hit several music critic's best album lists for 2016. Love their music.

A simple but entertaining theme and little POOP, I think DJG was IN THE ZONE.

DJG 1:34 PM  

By the way, Dave Dameshek of the Dave Dameshek Football Program podcast frequently starts his interviews by asking guests, "What's the poop, fella?" So it's not completely dead as a non-scatological term. Also, it's pretty funny to hear how his interviewees, many of them football players or analysts in their 20s, react to his old-timey greeting.

Fred Romagnolo 1:38 PM  

IPA - "happy quaff"; can anyone explain? I'm one of the old-timers that OFL so often purposely offends - you get used to it. Not knowing NELSON is tantamount to being ignorant of Napoleon, unimaginable. I wondered about USAIR and AIRIER in the same puzzle. Glad someone used Shwartzenegger, instead of Palmer, for once. After ANNE the House of Hanover became the ruling family, til Victoria married Albert, then Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, til WWI, then Windsor anglicized the family name, ridding it of its Germaness.

Andrew Heinegg 1:38 PM  
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Anonymous 1:44 PM  

It's hoppy quaff, not happy. It refers to the brewing process of making IPA which gives the taste of hops to the ale. Just had to fix spellcheck which wanted to make it hippy ale! I assume that is what happened to you as well.

I'm Not a Robot 1:45 PM  

As an SF Giants fan I'm outraged to see another reference to the LA Dodgers this week and I demand an apology! (I'm not really outraged. I just get so sick of everyone in the USA being indignant at the slightest perception of a slight that I thought I should try it. I don't tweet, so this blog is the next best thing).

Numinous 2:38 PM  

WARP went right in and, as OFL often says, when 1A pops right up, the rest is EASY. As a result, I never considered OGRE and had WOLF in mind as I moved through the acrosses. No speed solver here, a Thursday usually takes me about an hour. This one took a little over half that.

I was pleasantly surprised to see the LA DODGERS. That was after I figured out PO BOXES. I had considered New Orleans sandwichs and their synonymous bobbing water markers (PO BOUYS) before I had to give in and put in the X. Never heard of King's book, IT, but took it on faith.

I always enjoy figuring out the meta-clues, the ones that refer to themselves. ZEE gave me IN THE ZONE. I asked Mrs. Numi for ERIN. She doesn't like xwords but has watched lots of Dancing With the Stars on Hulu. When the MUSIC'S Over gave me fits. I just couldn't remember it at all. I had a gay friend in Australia who was really into the Doors and played their albums all the time. Why? Could it be that Mr. Mojo Rising was ugly? Speaking of rock groups, I've heard of RADIOHEAD but I've never heard them. Like @Passing Shot, I think I might have to investigate them. Thanks for the Word of the Day, @Rex.

For a while, Poor Richard's Almanac stopped putting the hole in the corner. Readers objected so PRA resumed the practice. Who would have thought so many people still use out houses? While reading the POOP for today, why not put yesterday's page to good use, @Gill? Don't want to loose all those adages thoough. Too bad the Sears catalogue no longer uses newsprint.

I had a problem with TILED. I don't consider tesserae as tiles so that took me a while to commit to. I've probably watched too much Time Team on YouTube.

@DJG mentions on xword info that he was hoping this would run on a Wednesday so he could "hit for the cycle". Will must not only be short on Sunday puzzles. Thursdays must be in short supply too.

Carola 3:58 PM  

@jberg, "...recovering from a broken neck": WHA? I hope she's doing well.

Disgruntlement at a too-EASY Thursday tempered by LA DODGERS, which I thought was inspired. I DODGE all too many LAs, inadvertently, as I can't carry a tune. Also liked MOTLEY, DEAD ON, IN THE ZONE. A possible sign of doing crosswords too long: when you know right off that a "flight part" has nothing to do with air travel.

Martha 4:45 PM  

I don't get Jesus, for one/alou. Someone? Anyone?

evil doug 4:53 PM  

"alou" means Christ in Latvian.

Martha 4:57 PM  

Haha! It's an obscure baseball ref, but you almost had me.

Numinous 5:39 PM  

Actually ALOU isn't all that obscure in crossworld.

Numinous 5:42 PM  

I'm vaguely surprised nobody has mentioned MÖTLEY Crüe.

evil doug 6:48 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
evil doug 6:49 PM  

Just havin' some Felipe/Matty/Jesus Alou fun, Martha. Welcome aboard...

Unknown 7:03 PM  

Schmo and jerk are the same in the context "any joe schmo" and "any jerk". Jerk just meaning average, unimpressive person.

Unknown 7:04 PM  

-- a nutcase

I.A. MacAdam 8:09 PM  

Good evening, snailfacts.

Not sure Wha brought that on, but Aril nutcase is called a pericarp. Hope that helps.

Dorothy Biggs 10:13 PM  

I could be wrong, but I believe the hole is punched into the Farmer's Almanac, NOT the Poor Richard's Almanac...unless they are the same thing. Which, I don't think they are.

But if they are, then I stand corrected.

My post earlier today not clear, but from my "research" (read: the Google), I could only find the hole in the Farmer's Almanac when I Googled it, and no hole in the PRA. I was just basically commenting on almanacs in general.

Leapfinger 11:01 PM  

Not a bone-crushing Thursday, but also not a PISA cake. Really liked the clues for STAIR and EXARMY, and the clue/entry pairing IN_THE_ZONE was inspired.

The grid's having both WOLF and LOUPE garou on me, though I'll admit to a WOLF PAUSe, as I also started with OGRE.

Having grown up in the shadow of the Laurentians, I opted for the STES. Agathe, Marguerite, Anne de Beaupre et alia as the 'Subj, group with gender imbalances', since nun of the STES. are of the male persuasion. Having that turn into S.T.E.M. bordered on the demoralizing.

Of the themers, LA DODGERS was hardest for me to catch, because not-Brooklyn. My favourite was 37A, for highlighting that PA'AN NOUN CEMENTS Anglo-Indian spelling discrepancies. I know, I know, PA'AN isn't NA'AN, but you know what I mean.

It wasn't easy, but I had to try...
Surgical assistant undecided whether the newborn should bottle-feed...
Head of triage team, racked with indecision
How the old Zenith set tersely answered the question 'What are you?'
Lakota home, ready to travel
What the numbers 1-14 boasted to the Surgeon General

Reversing the conceit:
Old TV variety show, new spokes-host for little blue pill
*E.D. Sullivan

And pulling one out of thin air for opera/xwp-loving parents:
Au pair who hesitates to speak up
Don't mean to be Agravating any ACHEy Alpacas, but I notice that, for the second day, someone's possibly insinuating 'Is LAMAS bad?' into the xwp consciousness*. What with PESCI WARP also in the grid, I suggest we stay alert to coded messages about Pakistan and especially the Khyber Pass region in upcoming constructions. My tinfoil hat is ready.
*IS_BAD yesterday, LAMAS today; what could be more obvious?

Thanks, DG, I enjoyed this, on multiple levels. Obviously, you're D'AmonG friends.

Anokha 1:23 AM  

I thought this was okay. Not groundbreaking in terms of novelty, but moderately challenging for a Thursday and enjoyable enough.

pdplot 4:43 AM  

Did not understand this puzzle. Did not like this puzzle. Still don't get it.

Burma Shave 10:23 AM  


RADIOHEAD’s MUSIC’S on a PAUSE, of a sort,
my IMAC won’t BLARE it without ITSUPPORT.


BS2 10:24 AM  


The PLO needed I.D.CARDS to fly U.S.AIR


rondo 11:55 AM  

I wasn’t IN THEZONE for this puz, seemed like it took ALLDAY. In large part because of symmetric write-overs at passE for STALE and panam for USAIR, which really affected ATON of crosses. BTW, isn’t USAIR kinda violating the theme thing since the first two letters also spell a word?

There’s only one ARNIE, and it ain’t that SCHMO Schwarzenegger.

RADIOHEAD was a gimme, especially because the morning DJs on 89.3 The Current (stream it) were talking about that pay-what-you-want album just the other day. Turns out that people paid an average of about ten bucks for it.

Former MN Gopher and Chicago Bull Trent Tucker hosts a RADIO show locally called INTHEZONE. Yeah, he could shoot. DEADON.

Sideline commentator yeah baby ERIN Andrews is on the MENU today. Never did see that illicit video.

I’d bet that most folks in MN know some OLSENs and NELSONs. A former schoolmate of mine married a NELSON and hyphenated the last name. Does that make her a half NELSON? Surely not a full NELSON.

Better than jamming bunches of letters into one square. That’s my take ONIT.

spacecraft 12:04 PM  

@lms: great list of more themers--especially TI LED! rofl!

This should have been easy-medium for me too, but blanking on a couple of entries that shoulda been gimmes held me back. It happened in the last corner, the SE. Yeah, that's right: for once the NW was easy! Could not for the life of me figure out what "One of a dozen?" meant. EGG? TEN? Duh. Turned out to be one of those STUPID word-as-letter entries. More and more I hate those. It finally occurred when I stopped blanking on INTHE...? LOOP? GROOVE? Again, double-duh. ZONE. Of course. Hardest headslap of the year so far. And what four letters could be a traitor rebuke? Triple-duh! Why it took me so long to see that is scary. But for a while I was staring at that corner with nothing filled in. Nobody's fault but mine...except that %#*@! ZEE.

ANNE Hathaway wins DOD...the OLSENs are growing up, true, but--hey, isn't Ann-Margaret's last name OLSEN? Honorable mention, at least. Despite my personal glitches, I have to be fair and declare this puzzle pretty well-done. Objectively, it has to be a birdie.

Anonymous 1:58 PM  

Third day in a row of really enjoyable, fair puzzles. Stem had me confused, tho...

leftcoastTAM 2:17 PM  

Took a while to see that this was NARY (?) a rebus, had an "aha" moment, and then all was well. Simple, TIDY, quaint, but not STALE.

Liked it a lot.

Longbeachlee 4:26 PM  

Funny one on me, got the puzzle, understood the theme, but didn't see what po had to do with shipping. The rest of the clue was on the top of the next column.

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