Tree-lined walkway in France / TUE 1-17-17 / Nubian heroine of opera / Makeup of planet Hoth / Deviate during flight as rocket / Deal with broken teleprompter say

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Constructor: Timothy Polin

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: A CARRIE / FISHER memorial puzzle (I think) — stuff related to her role as PRINCESS LEIA (53A: Iconic role for 2-/51-Down) in "Star Wars" (a title spelled out in the circled squares):

Theme answers:
  • CINNAMON BUNS (23A: Hairstyle for 53-Across, colloquially)
  • HELP ME OBI- / WAN KENOBI, / YOU'RE MY ONLY HOPE (18A: With 61- and 37-Across, famous line by 53-Across in [see circled letters])
Word of the Day: OLEAN (7D: Brand of artificial fat) —
Olestra (also known by its brand name Olean) is a fat substitute that adds no fat, calories, or cholesterol to products. It has been used in the preparation of otherwise high-fat foods such as potato chips, thereby lowering or eliminating their fat content. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) originally approved olestra for use as a replacement for fats and oils in prepackaged ready-to-eat snacks in 1996, concluding that such use "meets the safety standard for food additives, reasonable certainty of no harm". In the late 1990s, Olestra lost its popularity due to side effects, but products containing the ingredient can still be purchased at grocery stores in some countries. (wikipedia)
• • •

I want to pretend like this puzzle didn't happen, so I'm going to say only the bare minimum and then move along. Tribute puzzles should be great. Memorial puzzles should be especially great. Average, mediocre, OK—these are not good enough. The puzzle should kill, or it should not run. I suppose it's possible this puzzle was already in the pipeline (?) and they just ran it with a clue for her name that acknowledges her passing. But that doesn't seem too plausible. The whole thing feels slapdash. She's reduced to a single (albeit iconic) role; her character's hairstyle (from the original movie) (which I have never heard called CINNAMON BUNS—it's always "PRINCESS LEIA hair") is randomly thrown in, apparently just for symmetry (?); the circled squares are awkwardly close-to-but-not-quite centered (and aren't that impressive a trick to begin with); OBI-WAN is divided at the hyphen (!?); and the quote is out of order (again, for symmetry's sake). Throw in the fact that the fill quality is below-average (which is to say, Tuesday-average), and you have a puzzle that isn't really worthy of its subject. It's not tight enough. There's no real hook. The circled squares are just a tacked-on bit of artifice. CARRIE / FISHER was iconic for many reasons, and I wish more of those reasons were here, and that the core concept in general was just ... better. Tighter. As amazing as she was.

I like RAP DUO (9D: Rae Sremmurd, e.g.). It's probably important that you commit Rae Sremmurd ("ear drummers" backwards) to memory now, as it is likely to be the RAE of the future (if there must be one, and I assume there must). Take that ... Actress Charlotte of "Facts of Life" and ... Arctic explorer John! Aren't "old, neglected sweaters" MOTH-EATEN? I am having trouble buying MOTHY. Especially having trouble buying it on top of ALLÉE (garbage fill, esp. for a Tuesday, esp. w/ ALPE, ugh, already in the grid). And crossing OLEOLE (o-lazy) and FETTLE (!) ... maybe MOTHY belongs in that corner. It's certainly "neglected."


Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Hartley70 12:02 AM  

There is no better Tuesday than this. The puzzle was an unexpected pleasure for me and featured a celebrity who deserves the accolade. She was a talented, quirky delight. As far as I'm concerned, the theme is spot on for topicality and perfection for theme. I don't have a single complaint. Thank you, Timothy Polin.

Anonymous 12:09 AM  

As a Brit I can only laugh at ARSE crossing WANKENOBI, two obscenities one would not expect in the NYT!

Han Solo 12:28 AM  


LOL@ Michale Down

Little else to say about this disaster on a stick.

Anonymous 12:36 AM  

I just erased half a novella about how, why, and how much I hated this puzzle simply because I couldn't force myself to complete it.

Hated it.

PS: my Captcha has me looking for images with grass and one looks like house in Jamacia. Grass Yes/No? I'm guessing yes.

chefwen 1:35 AM  

Never cared for Star Wars movies. Got everything because it is hyped to death. I think I saw the first one and that was enough for me. On the other hand, I could write a book on wild BOAR, younger dog goes off every night, usually about 2 am when we invaded by the pigs looking for water. He races out the doggy door barking his head off, chases after them, they turn around and chase him, grunting and snorting, this goes on for a long, long time, we finally have to haul his sorry little ass inside and close all exits, just to get some sleep. Poor kitty just has to wait until morning to take a pee.

Sorry Timothy, just not the right subject for me.

jae 1:42 AM  

Medium for me.

ON A Roll yes - ON A RUN not so much.

Paul Rippey 1:45 AM  

Geez. I liked the density of themes and thought the fill was decent. Even I realized the puzzle fell short of perfection but it's a rush ish to get the theme and then see how they all fit together, and - well shucks, I enjoyed it.

Carola 1:46 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Carola 1:50 AM  

I'm all for a tribute to CARRIE FISHER and one of my favorite movie characters - and movies, but I agree with @Rex on the theme's execution. Besides the random CINNAMON BUNS and the scrambled quote, the off-center rendering of the title seemed especially irksome, in a "couldn't be bothered" sort of way. [Nerd alert] Jeff Chen, on xwordinfo, sees the circled letters' placement as a nod to the iconic crawl. But the title itself doesn't recede to a vanishing point - it keeps its blocklike form as it recedes into the starfield.

Unknown 2:09 AM  

It's a pretty common phrase, especially in gambling :)

Unknown 2:13 AM  

Dear Puzzle Brains - please tell me why Erie is the answer to The "E" in HOMES?

Larry Gilstrap 2:13 AM  

It's Tuesday, after all. I'm feeling as fit as a fiddle, or in fine FETTLE after a long weekend. Wait a minute, it's all weekend to me. Though not a huge STAR WARS fan, I was touched by the sad demise of two iconic actresses, who happened to be mother and daughter. Debbie Reynolds was about as big as they get.

If I had time I would talk about our visit to Hopi land in Arizona. I attended a Pueblo Dance, a surreal experience, if I ever had one. Those folks believe their origin began, "A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away..." I found no evidence to disprove that theory. The young women wear Hopi whirls in their hair, and I, like OFL, have never heard CINNAMON BUNS termed as a hairstyle.

The clue swindles had me going for the third person singular verb, but an erasure resulted in the plural noun, RIP OFFS. It seems as if ANDRE and Steffi have found normalcy and purpose after the spotlight; I hope so, anyway.

I'm not a PET guy, so consider the source, but I was glad to see the reference to beloved family members who were adopted, as opposed to having been rescued, an action that should involve a helicopter, at least. Now, adopting a kid from the waste heap of humanity, that's heroic.

Anonymous 2:27 AM  

Tom Silverman, HOMES is a way to remember the names of the Great Lakes. Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie, and Superior.

chefwen 2:29 AM  

@Tom Silverman- HOMES is an acronym for the Great Lakes, HURON, ONTARIO, MICHIGAN, ERIE and SUPERIOR. learned that growing up on the shores of Lake Michigan.

jae 2:31 AM  

@Tom - HOMES is a mnemonic for the Great Lakes Huron, Ontario....ERIR...

@Cary - ON A ROLL is the gambling phrase. ON A RUN is when the buddy of the guy who is ON A ROLL goes for drinks.

jae 2:33 AM  

@chefwen - beat me by 2 minutes and that should be ERIE not ERIR...

Martin 3:10 AM  

It's been "cinnamon buns" for ever. It's not random. It's not made up for this puzzle. It's in the Wikipedia article. Cinnabon got into hot water for trying to use Carrie's death to sell more crap. "I didn't know that" is not the same as "that's not a thing."

chefwen 3:16 AM  

@jae - Mnemonic That's the damn word I was looking for. Thank you!

Loren Muse Smith 3:59 AM  

I enjoyed the STAR WARS movies back in the day, but I’m not a die-hard. So I didn’t know that the quote was in the wrong order. I do really like how WAN KENOBI looks. It’s hard not to parse it as WANKEN OBI. Ichiko, you’re not gonna wear such a pretty kimono with that wanken obi, are you?

My sweater was “holey” before MOTHY.

I can’t be the only one who fills in the first L and the last E for that instrument and then waits to see if it’s LUTE or lyre, right?

I liked HELP right over AID. And there are six entries with a final I. Cool.

What a pain in the neck that we have to stop and decide if it’s AFFECT or effect. Little confession – when I speak, I make no distinction. Period. Same with IT’S/ its and YOU’RE/your. I use whatever I feel like when I talk. Put that one in your pipe and smoke it.

My best friend in Lilburn, Ga in Gwinnett County (hi, @Joe Bleaux – of course I recognize your name) didn’t articulate words with final L’s, so my y’all was her YAW.

Huge shout-out to @ROO and @M&A this morning!

Leapfinger 4:05 AM  

Well, I had my NW start and CARRIE FISHER when along came my first FAINT cognitive dissonance. I mean -- CINNAMON BUNS?? What else but that Timothy Polin is the real-world identity of @M&A?? Needs must, so I kept an eye out for supportive evidence, OUI or NEE. My findings:
*ROO, shout-out to sidekick @Darren V
*LUTE, clued with Renaissance Faire, asper @Numinous, runtpuz contributor
*U count, a respectable 6 of the li'l darlins
*HAUL, with the implicit starting U, raising U-count to an implied 7
*inexplicably absent reference to @LMS is part of insidious masked & anonymous cover, though LOIS MOTHY SAYYES may be an initial link, and much in the grid is frankly amusing. RAPDUO, in particular, sounds like an isle halfway between Krakatoa and Mindanao

Y'all decide. I'm sure you'll let me know if you think I'm wrong. Har-UMP!

Mr. Fitch 4:36 AM  

It's beyond time to revise the notion that the NYT runs the best puzzle out there. Let's stop holding it to a standard it can't uphold.

Andre Carrie Mothy 5:26 AM  

Like @LMS I thought all the words that ended in I were cool (OBI, NAOMI, SODOI, OUI)
With a funny French undercurrent with aforementioned OUI, ALPE, NÉE, ALLEE

But what I really love is a puzzle that you can really hear... In this case practically shouts out at you!
HELP ME!!! ITS a trap! TOO late!
(Even YIPS! and ADLIB)

All said with that RASP of CARRIE FISHER's ravaged later-years voice.
I thought it was a swell tribute to the wittiest woman alive (actually not so alive, but she will live on... )

Plus sort of an urgency to CRUX, SLAY, MAIM
And STARWARS undercurrent of CYBER planets made of ICE, Rockets that YAW off course

Only thing I dislike is RAE SREMMURD (which recently appeared in the grid) but it's the desperateness and noncleverness of the backwardness of their naming I object to, not the neat answer of RAPDUO which seems bouncy and gridworthy.

Oh! And I like the visual of OWLS turning their heads! I had OiLS and thought it was some LUBE ref!

Unknown 5:44 AM  

It's a mnemonic device used to remember the names of the Great Lakes.

Joe 6:17 AM  

I agree with Martin, almost everyone I know has referred to them as "cinnamon buns." I didn't think it was as bad as you seemed to, save "oleole."

I was more disturbed that the mini puzzle this am misspelled Mojave Desert as "Mohave." Ugh.

Lewis 6:27 AM  
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Lewis 6:41 AM  

@acme -- same train of thought re OWLS/OiLS!

I didn't know the movie quote, which gave the puzzle a bit more grit, which I liked. Nice clue for ADLIB, and answers that appealed to me were ONARUN, FETTLE (because it's so silly), TIE_INS, PIETA, and ALLEE. And I liked seeing that EXIT out.

I saw Carrie Fisher recently on one of the talk shows and was charmed by her honesty, grit, wit, and her adorable tongue-wagging dog. A line from her movie as a tribute felt shallow to me after experiencing her as a person in those few minutes on tv. But the puzzle reminded me of her once again, and I'm grateful for that.

Outside The Box 6:46 AM  

Amen! Well said. And Rex, just because you've never heard of "cinnamon buns" doesn't mean you should do derisively dismiss the rest of us who have.

Admiral Ackbar 6:52 AM  

I thought it was a tribute to Erik Bauersfeld.

Passing Shot 6:58 AM  

I did have a sneaking suspicion, as I completed the puzzle, that Rex wouldn't like it. I've only been at this a short time but even I felt this was a rushed tribute. The out-of-order quote is just one problem. ALDA is BAH. ERIE is BAH. INE is BAH. OLEOLE is BAH BAH. Liked the clue for 22-across, but this was not good.

I am not a robot 6:58 AM  

Always cinnamon buns it has been. Out of order quote should not be. Poor attempt to sound like Obi Wan ends here. A tribute puzzle is a nice idea but with the person she was it could have been so much more fun. Then again, these are the more accessible things about her that most people will be able to get. She would be amused, resigned, and hilarious about it.

My favorite gem from her mighty wit is in Postcards from the Edge, "Nothing's ever really over, it's only over there." She made baggage the best joke of all.

Anonymous 7:01 AM  

I liked this puzzle. Thanks keep up the good work.

Yoda 7:06 AM  

The quote order sounds like I would say it.

Anonymous 7:08 AM  

This puzzle stunk. I could do much better. You'll just have to take my word for it.

- Rex Parker, King of Crossword

kitshef 7:32 AM  

I take the opposite tack on memorial puzzles. Of necessity, they must be quickly constructed, or they will appear too late. I can live with an OLEOLE here and a SODOI there, phrases that might have been edited out given more time.

Heavy theme density will always yield some iffy fill, anyway.

I think its one of the better of it's kind (in LMS-speak).

Hungry Mother 7:51 AM  

Nice Tuesday puzzle playing very easy for me.

chefbea 8:04 AM  

Never was a star wars kids all were!!! Thought it was a great puzzle!!

Anonymous 8:09 AM  

@Iamnotarobot I assume you meant Yoda, not Obi-Wan...

Amie Devero 8:37 AM  

Likely a stupid question: Having four sharps=ine...??? Wha? Please explain.

Lobster11 8:43 AM  

I'm putting this one in the category of puzzles that are impressive (at least to me) from a constructor's perspective -- in this case, with respect to theme density -- but at the expense of being a fun solve. All the cross-referencing, in combination with the out-of-order quote, drove me nuts. Even the splitting of OBI-WAN at the hyphen is something that seems clever from a constructor's perspective (given that we customarily use hyphens to break words between lines of text), but was just annoying from the (my) solver's perspective.

Personally, I will take "fun solve" over "impressive construction" every time.

Anonymous 8:48 AM  

In music. 4 sharps is key of E

Z 8:48 AM  

Last week I linked to a "tribute" puzzle (since "snark puzzle" isn't a genre, yet) that was published within hours of news breaking. Except for the subject, it was in every way a better puzzle. Polin is a competent constructor, so how does a tribute with this many issues get published?

@ACME - RAE Sremmurd are a couple of kids (21 and 23 now) and when I've seen them being interviewed it shows. I'm not qualified to comment on their music, but I will note their big hit is titled Black Beatles.

@kitshef - I'm generally anti-tribute puzzles, and this puzzle is an example of why. Yes, PRINCESS LEIA is an iconic role, but it is a bit reductionist to encapsulate a life in one role. What about Marie Fisher? Or Joliet Jake's homicidal ex-girlfriend? Or even her role in Hannah and her Sisters? Do we forget her books? Or her work on mental health? Is it possible to do such a puzzle? Sure. Have I seen one? No.

Having nothing to do with CARRIE FISHER but of interest to me and maybe some of you, David Brin on STAR WARS.

jberg 9:16 AM  

As someone said, memorial puzzles have to be done fast, and probably the average solver only knows her as the Princess, so that was all right with me. The one flaw is the symmetry thing -- if you go to so much trouble to achieve it, then don't throw in the non=symmetrical Star Wars clue for 10D. Either clue it as "kind of axe," or "border guards," or something, or find a Star Wars reference for KEGS.

My first thought, having grown up on the shores of Lake Michigan, was "why does anyone need a mnemonic for the Great Lakes?" Especially one that is boring and in random order. "Oh Be A Fine Girl, Kiss Me!" is useful because it gives you information you might find hard to remember. Maybe a sentence made of SMHEO (So Many Helicopters Eating Omelets?) would be worth the trouble, as I always have to stop and think about those last two in the East.

@Loren, you don't have to know the line -- I didn't either -- but the clue tells you it's out of order. But never mind, I'm having too much fun imagining you saying "you're" when everyone thinks you're saying "your." Throw in a "yore" sometime and really shake things up!

I had "and me!" before SO DO I, crossing nicely with AND RE. I was going to write a little story about it, but OBEYS forced me to change it.

Nancy 9:20 AM  

I tend not to like tribute puzzles at all, and this one was a bigger SLOG than most. While CARRIE FISHER was a warm, funny, always interesting lady offscreen, onscreen she played a role in a movie that I walked out of after 50 minutes, cursing myself for not having walked out sooner. I don't care about the Princess, I don't care about the hairstyle, I don't care about the quote. For me, this puzzle was a complete bore and a total waste of time. Sorry, CARRIE. You died too young, and offscreen, in your later, more self-aware years, coiffed in a normal person's hairstyle, you were quite a riveting presence.

Mike D 9:33 AM  

So Rex wants a crossword puzzle. Yes, a crossword puzzle! That is as amazing as Carrie Fisher was. Rex is a moron.

three of clubs 9:41 AM  

I'm folding. It feels like too much like a chore to finish these puzzles and then enjoy the comments (which I do). Typically less than 10 minutes to do the chore and then more time spent discussing it. I also stopped watching most sports for the same reason.

I like doing crosswords as a mild check on my mood in the morning, so I'm going to subscribe to something else for a year. Save 40 dollars and perhaps 182 hours a year --- wait, that's a whole week of waking time. I really am not getting any younger.

I'll be back, but not for the puzzle.

QuasiMojo 9:44 AM  

Like @Nancy, I walked out of the original "Star Wars" back when it was still called "Star Wars." It was the first showing in Manhattan, I think. Many moons ago. As someone who never understood the appeal of Carrie Fisher as an actress, let alone a celebrity, although I give her credit as a clever writer, I found this puzzle painful to undertake (pardon the pun) but I wanted to know what the secret message was in the circled squares. And to see what all of you have to say about it. I mention this only to point out how out of the loop I feel when doing the NYT puzzle since its wheelhouse nowadays is not anything like mine. I'm not sure I even have a wheelhouse anymore other than old Claude Rains movies and Ronald Firbank novels. If I didn't enjoy this blog so much, I would probably live up to my threat of not doing them anymore. Haha. But you guys always start my day off on a fun, snarky note and I don't want to lose that. As for "Drummers Ear" I thought it must be something like "swimmer's ear" only worse!

Cassieopia 9:46 AM  

I love Star Wars, and love this puzzle! And just as Star Wars was a guilty pleasure that was savaged by Pauline Kael but had hidden depths that made it into a classic, this puzzle had its problems but the overall charm and wit made the solving experience delightful, at least for this Star Wars fan. Talk about it being in my wheelhouse!

I can understand your disappointment, though, if you are not a Star Wars geek and have not seen the movie 20 times, and were expecting a Carrie Fisher tribute instead. This puzzle is not really a Carrie Fisher tribute so much as it is a Star Wars tribute via Princess Leia. Since Star Wars is my only exposure to Carrie Fisher, and I never exposed myself to the multi-dimensionality of her talent, I was delighted rather than annoyed.

Things I loved:
- CINNAMONBUNS! And according to articles found using the most rudimentary of google searches, Carrie Fisher herself used that term to refer to the Princess Leia hairstyle.
- I interpreted the broken quote "Help me, Obi Wan Kenobi, you're my only hope" as a silent reference to Yoda, a character formed and voiced by the great Frank Oz.
- The planet Hoth was referenced! It was the wrong planet for the quote (quote is from IV; Hoth is in V)but still.

The non-Star Wars fill was fun too. The three word fills were low on abbreviations (such as ERS, OEM, RDS) which I very much appreciated. Instead we had YAW, URN, and PET (the clue for PET was great, I experimented with dog and caT first).

Had lAme before MAIM, metOo before SODOI, and dIanA before PIETA. So, the puzzle gave me something to chew on and figure out, I guess that's why you guys sometimes use "crunchy" to describe a puzzle.

And look at the other fun words that I cannot recall having seen in a puzzle recently (at all?) such as CRUX, FETTLE, RAPDUO.

Bottom line: I loved it and am saying that loud and proud. Thank you Timothy Polin!

p.s. @iamnotarobot: that was Yoda with the strangled syntax, not Obi Wan Kenobi.

I am not a robot 9:51 AM  

@Anon 8:09, thank you! Sheesh

L 9:52 AM  

Add me to the slog camp. I'm no Star Wars fan (I'm all about the Trek!) but I know enough to do this lousy puzzle. But I got tripped up all over the place. And writing RIPSOFF didn't help either. I'd like to see the end of all musical scale clues - I don't know my major from minor, my INA from INE etc. It's just a guess, no fun in solving.

But even this nonfan knows about the CINNAMON BUNS 'do. C'mon Rex, it ain't a stretch.

L 9:53 AM  

Add me to the slog camp. I'm no Star Wars fan (I'm all about the Trek!) but I know enough to do this lousy puzzle. But I got tripped up all over the place. And writing RIPSOFF didn't help either. I'd like to see the end of all musical scale clues - I don't know my major from minor, my INA from INE etc. It's just a guess, no fun in solving.

But even this nonfan knows about the CINNAMON BUNS 'do. C'mon Rex, it ain't a stretch.

Rural Sophisticate 9:55 AM  

I always get Star Wars and Star Trek confused. One had Dr. Spock and one had Bigfoot, that's all I know.

Anonymous 9:58 AM  

Not sure why the consensus is that tribute puzzles have to be done quickly. Major newspapers have obits written for anyone who's "still" anyone. They periodically update them, so they're ready for publication. Why not tribute puzzles?

I try not to overthink the Mon-Wed puzzles. I'm generally anti-theme so I just hold my nose and fill in the blanks on Thursday. Friday and Sat make my week. If the puzzles are good then they were worth waiting for. If not, the reviews make my day.

Today's puzzle? Meh.


GILL I. 10:14 AM  

I thought she called them hairy earphones.
I wouldn't call this a tribute puzzle at all. It was simply about a role CARRIE FISHER played in a movie everyone has heard of. A tribute might include some of her fabulous books such as "The Princess Diarist" or "Wishful Drinking."
This was just OK. It's Tuesday so I come to expect OK on this day. Maybe I would have liked it better if Timothy could have worked out the STAR WARS symmetry. I don't know why that bothered me so much.
Loved WANK meeting ARSE. How do you do?
TOO ROO y'all.

Greater Fall River Committee for Peace & Justice 10:19 AM  

I think 'Hell-bent' is a bit strong for INTENT.

And I don't think of "'til now" as all that informal, it is after all short for "Until now" which sounds very formal. I would usually expect a crossword to call it 'poetic', a conceit I actually keep expecting them to give up on. Maybe this is the beginning of that.

Then there's 'What have we here?' OHO indeed. Or AHA or HO or HOOBOY or whatever. I'm pretty tired of those.

Ted 10:20 AM  

@Rex - I think the spacing of STAR WARS in the circles is meant to represent the opening crawl/logo. It's sort of a pyramid shape.

Also, all the clues made perfect sense to me. The hairstyle was CERTAINLY called Cinnamon Buns every time I've seen it discussed.

I enjoyed the puzzle very much!

thfenn 10:31 AM  

Did this one waiting for a garage to repair a new car that shouldn't be having trouble starting, which had me thinking about RIPOFFS and TIEINS. Fine Tuesday fare for me - got the theme, enjoyed some of the fill, did it without cheating in around 15 minutes. Perfect. Not a huge Star Wars or Carrie Fisher fan, and as some discussed when she actually passed, would've enjoyed a tribute that included a reference to or line from When Harry Met Sally.

Paul Harrington 10:32 AM  

Carly Rae Jepsen wants you to give her a call

RooMonster 10:57 AM  

Hey All !
As far as tribute puzs go, this one was nice. Sure, she starred in other movies, but most people would remember her in STAR WARS, her iconic role, than in other movies. All actors have that one role they are remembered for more than any other. If they're lucky, or a great actor, then maybe they get two. Stallone, e.g., Rocky, then Rambo, then he was in "Stop, or My Mom Will Shoot". See? No one will be making a tribute puz on that one.

So yeah, thought this one was nicely done. Agree that the quote should've been in order, that would've required top/bottom symmetry instead of left/right. Very isolated corners in NE and SW, my only nit. Enjoyable for @M&A I'm sure!

Speaking of the Masked One, CINNAMON BUNS!! Man, I'm sure he polished off a few doing this one. And yes, ROO!! Thanks to everyone for the shout outs! :-)


Howard B 11:00 AM  

While I agree there were noticeable technical issues with the construction, I did enjoy solving it and uncovering the circled squares. At the end of the puzzle, that's really all I ask for.
Oh, and CINNAMON BUNS is valid in this context. That is all.

Tita 11:14 AM  

Don't you dare diss ALLÉE... one of the elegant, beautiful defining features of rural and urban France alike!

It always makes my heart glad to encounter one. In particular. When I see a rural thoroughfare that had to be widened, but they went to the trouble and expense to put the new lanes on the other side of the allée, and sometimes even planted a new row to the other side.
It shows not only a sense of beauty, but also a sense of allée requires a decade or more to reach its prime.

I should include a clip of the clippers they use to force trees in formal parks into their absurd perfect squareness... they are a cross between Edward Scissorhands and an assembly line robot.

More later, when I have a chance to read comments.

old timer 11:22 AM  

I think Polin had a different puzzle with CINNAMONBUNS in it and reworked it to turn it into a tribute puzzle for Ms Fisher. That would explain why it is so sloppy and below Polin's usual standard.

Question: Is this the first appearance of ARSE in the NYT puzzle?

Bob C 11:36 AM  

Chuckled at "IT'S a trap!"

Anonymous 12:00 PM  

Carrie Fisher wasn't so much BELOVED as she was pitied, perhaps in a loving way. A tragic life rife with inner, often needless, struggles, despite being dealt a very good hand. Still all my best. You are missed.

Crane Poole 12:00 PM  

No real qualms. The broken quote's slightly awkward. Knew it easily but never heard the CINNAMON BUNS reference. I've some love still for the original films. The 4-5-6 which were actually 1-2-3 thrilled me not and I labeled C-R-A-P.

Thanks for the laughs, those who mentioned WANKEN OBI or even unparsed WANKENOBI. That's iboneknaw in reverse. And @jberg, SMHEO was a smile.

ALDA AIDA AURA (Veni vidi vici? Klaatu barada nikto?)

New favorite fiction(al) author MOTHY ALLEE PEERS.

John Child 12:14 PM  

ARSE three times in the Shortz era, once before.
ASS 248 times in the Shortz era, thrice in variety puzzles, and 370 times prior.

Jon 12:27 PM  

Didn't they have to apologise but her fans had said Carrie would have laughed? I am personally sick of this always apologising society where everyone is a special snowflake. I get it, she passed and using her likeness to sell crap isn't cool, but that hair style is a character, not the actress that died. That being said, i felt this was a fun puzzle, decent fill, and only a few caused me a headache. Though my mistakes are usually due to my fat fingers on the iPhone app and since I use the pencil feature on clues I am truly guessing on, it is often hard to find but i digress.

Jon 12:30 PM  

Where do you find stats like that, as I have been noticing more and more asses appearing and as an aspiring constructor and reading some first timers pushing the boundaries I got some clever clues that would near that line just curious to see if some of mine have been done before.

Andrew Heinegg 12:31 PM  

The reactions to this puzzle remind me of the canard of: 'everywhere you go, there you are'. Which is to say, I don't care for sci-fi in any form and so, like Nancy, I took myself with me when I walked out of Star Wars and when I solved this puzzle. I also have a great admiration for the obstacles overcome by Ms. Fisher to be as successful in life as she was. So there is that.

I am always a bit perplexed by Rex when he complains that some answer is not a thing when it is both easily sussable with the crosses and, in this case, cinnamon buns was apparently the descriptive phrase used by the person that had the hairdo. I kind of like the moniker as, although I have never heard of it, it does conjure up a 'correct' image. I take it as a bit of fluff trivia that I learned from the puzzle and the blog.

The puzzle was uninteresting and the mothy answer has to go. If you're going to do a Carrie Fisher tribute, some kind of Star Wars stuff is inevitable but, something besides Star Wars in addition would have given the puzzle a better chance of being enjoyable. But, as always, let's hope for a better tomorrow.

BTW, are we anticipating a Trump and/or inauguration theme for Friday's puzzle? If so, I hope Rex has insurance that will cover his computer blowing up. Perhaps Maldesmare can give everyone some live updates while commenting on the puzzle. You can multitask, right?

Andrew Heinegg 12:33 PM  
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DigitalDan 12:36 PM  

In Mel Brooks' Spaceballs parody, Daphne Zuniga as Princess Vespa actually wore cinnamon buns as part of her hairdo. So yeah; it's a thing.

Lewis 12:37 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous 12:42 PM  

@Andrew Heidegg

I hear they anticipate a larger turnout for the protest than for the inauguration. If anything blows up, I think it'll be the orange top

Greg 12:43 PM  

In general, I really dislike the device of: verb+preposition in clue = different verb+different preposition in answer. Today's offender - "is victorious in" = WINSAT.

Masked and Anonymous 12:43 PM  

yep. Mighty hard to sum up one's whole life well in just a few symmetric puz entries …

… but, talk about yer iconic Rolls … !

Debut of a WANK-word entry.
ARSE has indeed been wanked 3 total Shortztimes (yo, @John Child) -- twice by Mr. Polin! Three times would be a fixation, Timothy -- (just sayin).

staff weeject pick: INE. Honrable mention to the weeject stacks, in the West-Central and East-Central, of course.
Best clue: {Makeup of the planet Hoth}. I think that's where "The Empire Strikes Back" starts out at. Icy. Noth so hoth. har
fave row of total desperation: WANKENOBI + MOTHY. Superb.
Lively vocabins: SAYYES [double-Y!]. RAPDUO. RIPOFFS. ROO+TOO [closest M&A could find to R2D2].
Nice T-bone-structure, for grid layout.

Thanx for the fun, Mr. Polin. Good job, Carrie Fisher darlin.

Masked & Anonymo6Us


Cassieopia 12:52 PM  

@M&A: "noth so hoth" - EPIC. Now everytime I rewatch the opening scenes of V I'll be hearing that in my brain. Awesomeness.

Teedmn 1:11 PM  

I started my freshman year of college in 1978 and became friends with a young woman from NY state. She was tall (for the times - now all the girls seem to be 5'11") and sturdily built and had crazy, wild curly hair. At one point she confessed that her high school nickname was Wookie. I gave her a blank stare and had to the reference explained. The Star Wars phenomenon had completely missed me, even though my small town usually got the popular movies within a reasonable time frame. I eventually saw the movies, probably on video, though I remember seeing Return of the Jedi on the big screen at a snowy Saturday matinee with tons of squirming under-age kids - the Ewoks flying through the trees was a cool scene.

My tough spot was in the NE. 16A was "gist" and 10A threatened to become "dire" but after I finished the lower part of the quote, I was able to infer the OBI in 18A, giving me LUBE. So I will take the ICE DROP LUBE EXIT here and hope @M&A gets his fill of CINNAMON BUNS today.

Masked and Anonymous 1:28 PM  

@Cassieopia: Thanx. M&A sure aims to please. And it coulda been far far away worse -- if I'da, say, cited Mr. Polin's second use of ARSE in a NYTPuz as a: Polin Arse Copy. So, at least M&A has some meager modicum of pride left …


yo, @Barany dude:

QuasiMojo 1:39 PM  

I 'm with @ TitaA. "Allee" is a beautiful word and thing. I recall driving from Nice to Avignon and passing through some gorgeous ones. And regarding "mothy"" sweaters, I wonder if "slithy toths" wear them.

Doc John 2:11 PM  

Get an effing life already, Rex! No, the puzzle wasn't perfect, and I agree about the disorder of the main quote, but overall it was full of theme fill and paid good tribute to Ms. Fisher's iconic character. And yes, CINNAMON BUNS are definitely a thing and your not knowing that doesn't make it so. Sometimes you're such a smug bitch. I know you look up other things before blogging, why didn't you check on this?
Also, the circled letters form the same sort of trapezoid that the original Star Wars logo formed. In perfect symmetry.
You try doing that, Mr. Smarty Pants!
(My biggest complaint- ALDA over AIDA. I'll get over it.)

Dick Swart 2:25 PM  

A timely tribute puzzle.! Not worth pondering the Rex review.

Enjoyable just for what it was ... a tribute!

tea73 2:43 PM  

I'm surprised by all the Star Wars hate. Saw the movies (even the bad ones) many, many times. And yes we all laughed about Mel Brooks' Spaceballs parody with cinnamon buns instead of hairdo. Absolutedly it's a thing. I've never heard that hairstyle referred to as anything but the cinnamon bun hair style - as in thank goodness they didn't make her wear it with cinnamon buns in the subsequent movies.

Did not like the way the quote was broken up. Never noticed the circles.

I had ratty before MOTHY.

Was amused by boulevard being the clue for PARK AVENUE

AliasZ 2:50 PM  

@John Child, from your analysis @12:14 PM, it is obvious that being an ASS is a lot more useful.

@Martin H (I presume) @3:10 AM, I did not know that! Now I am craving a cinnabon...

@Leapster, what are you doing up at 4:05 AM?

Rapa Nui,
Rapido, a RAP DUO
With basso continuo!

No mention of CARRIE FISHER's mom. I would argue that she is more worthy of a tribute puzzle than her daughter. Sic transit gloria mundi...

Anonymous 3:08 PM  

That's a fine fettle of fisher

Z 4:11 PM  

@Teedmn - The average American woman is 5' 3½" tall, making my wife exactly average (much to her surprise after making a similar observation Friday night).

Anonymous 4:23 PM  

1-20-2017. End of an error.

John Child 4:29 PM  

ASS at least has more cling options. You can't very well have your ox and your arse before you...

@Jon, if you aspire to make puzzles you should visit and join Use the Analyze button at the bottom of the solution of each puzzle to look at published puzzles and then the Analyze Your Own Puzzle link to see how your work compares. The stats I cited come from the Clue and Answer Finder section.

Tita 4:34 PM  

I'm back, as promised, but yaw have said all there is to say.

That leaves me with no choice but to present the next, and final, installment of "A Parrot Named Laura".

At this early ecotourism resort, we had small huts with no heat or electricity. "Running" water was supplied in the form of a large tank above said hut which held water warmed by the sun. Showering involved selectively opening a valve. It actually worked just fine.

It did invent you to take quick showers. And good thing, too...
Had I taken my usual too-long showers, Laura would have gnawed her way right through the bathroom door.
You see, when I stepped out of the shower, I could hear her chewing. When I opened the door, there she was, with a satisfied look on her face, next to a pile of sawdust, and a chunk of the door gone.
She just couldn't stand to be away from me!

The couple that ran the place told us that she adopts one person every week. Since we were there befor tourist season, we were the only ones available... We got along so well that I am quite confident that even if the place had no vacancies, and were filled with Audubon Society bigwigs, that she still would have chosen me.

Whew...fear not...I've drawn that story out as much as is possible. Nothing more to say about that. Laura and I say "Obrigada!"

(Of course, I could start making stuff up... Hmmm...)

Anonymous 4:38 PM  

You can credit Obama with more jobs. Turns out the sniveling snowflake protesters are getting paid this Friday.

Anonymous 5:02 PM  

Not excited about Trump's ascendancy to leader of the free world, but blame has to be placed squarely at the feet of his predecessor. A legacy resoundingly rejected.

Malsdemare 5:21 PM  

@Andrew I won't be at the Inauguration; I'll be flying. But I would not have watched anyway. There's a suggestion going around that people turn On the TV before the inauguration and when it starts, turn it Off.

George Lucas was a malamute owner/lover. Wookie's voice is patterned after the mal's distinctive woo-woo. You're welcome.

Puzzle was just fine. I liked ARSE, FRETS, CRUX, PIETA. Carrie's books give you a glimpse of here you wouldn't recognize from her movies. Her description of sitting with Jabba the Hut in that surreal bikini is wet-your-pants funny. I don't think she is any less an icon than her mother. But that's me.

Anonymous 6:12 PM  

Can someone tell me why PEERS is the answer for entitled sorts?

Z 6:20 PM  

@Anon6:12 - British PEERS are people with titles like Earl, so they are entitled. @sailor folk - cf the discussion of "sheets" and "sails."

Anonymous 6:26 PM  

I'm guessing PEERS refers to hereditary peers who are entitled to sit in the British House of Lords based on their lineage. Maybe I'm wrong? Seems a little much for a Tuesday clue.

Numinous 6:32 PM  

George Lucas says the CINNAMON BUN hair style was patterned after the hair styles worn by the soldaderas, the female revolutionaries of the Mexican Revolution. I recently saw an article stating that though I'm not sure where. All I could find wehen I looked today pointed more to single Hopi women wearing a similar hair style. I lost interest in Star Wars after the second or third episode. I genuinely believe that it was a waste of Lucas's talent. Somehow I managed to avoid any of the other films CARRIE FISHER was in, never read any of her books, nor saw any of her late night television interviews.

The puzzle seemed ok to me, maybe not up to @Timothy Polin's standard but still, ok. The NE was giving me trouble so I took a couple hours off to do some house cleaning and organizing to clear my head of the nonfunctional preconceptions I had for some of the answers. Other than the NE, I didn't find it hard at all. Once I saw HELP ME OBI, I had the whole thing figured out. YOURE MY ONLY HOPE/WAN KENOBI seemed a bit off to me but the structure of the grid seemed to make it acceptable to Yoda.

RooMonster 7:11 PM  

Aren't PEERS ones who pee?

Another senseless drive-by posting.

Anonymous 7:29 PM  

DeVos isn't taking a salary either. This sure aint Hillary's America.

Anonymous 7:48 PM  

When has Fakeahontas last been to the bone zone? Uptight doesn't begin to describe her.

Anonymous 9:58 PM  

Mr. Troll, go back to Trollville and choke on your own vomit. Thanks.

Anonymous 10:20 PM  

The New Wave Feminists were banned from the Women's March in Washington. They're apparently not really women because they're "pro-life". (scare quotes intended make up your own mind on that one) . Tens of millions of American women voted for Donald Trump, but they're not really women either because, well they voted for Trump.

Anonymous 10:27 PM  

If you don't believe it's ok to terminate a pregnancy up to and including the the time
the baby, I mean cluster of cells sorry, enters the birth canal you aren't really a woman.

Anonymous 10:39 PM  

Not seen any of the Star Wars movies but this puzzle was easy given all the hype they receive. The supposed famous line was filled in from crosses. The fact it was reordered was lost on me.

Its a Tuesday puzzle, easy, with common crossword fill. Basically par for the course.

Believe Me 1:33 AM  

Those tens of millions of American women who voted for Donald Trump certainly are really women. They're just the women who make bad choices about men.

TonySaratoga 6:44 AM  

If you haven't heard "cinnamon buns" as descriptive of Leia's hair, you've been underground for 35-40 years.

Anonymous 7:04 AM  

I hadn't heard of "cinnamon buns" until yesterday and I leave the house every day. Oh well, we all have our pockets of knowledge. It's even possible I know something that Tony Saratoga doesn't know.

rockdoc 1:16 AM  

Day late and dollar short, but I wanted to note that I dropped in GOAT instead of BOAR, GAH instead of BAH, and all that added up to a TAP DUO - which, in retrospect, seems ridiculous but not all that impossible.

Z 5:58 AM  

Har! Ran into this article posted 2/16 and was reminded of this month old puzzle.

Burma Shave 10:11 AM  


“SODOI need SOME INTENT TOO pay ya?”

“BAH, TILNOW I’ve had IDLE RIPOFFS in bed,
YAW’ll need to URN it, to have a PRINCESSLEIA.”


spacecraft 10:30 AM  

Pretty much what OFL said. Actually, she was a ton more fun as the jilted bride in "The Blues Brothers," for my money. Now, I'm sure that to her family, CARRIE was "beloved," but to include that word in the clue denotes widespread deep affection...not sure THAT applies. It's not as if she was ever even remotely an Oscar threat.

But iconic in the STAR WARS saga, I'll give ya. And I'll even give her the DOD SASH. The word "damsel" seems to fit her roles rather well. It's TOO bad she didn't have a better tribute puzzle.

As OFL has pointed out, the impression given by 1=across is likely to AFFECT one's perception of the whole. And what greets us this morning? A RPA (random play act), which naturally contains a RRN. Not good. The result of an impossibly dense theme, I suppose. Bogey.

rondo 11:35 AM  

I saw the first few STAR WARS movies and they didn’t really do much for me, at least not until we finally got yeah baby CARRIE FISHER into that metal bikini, and that was the only reason. I didn’t remember the characters’ names back in the day and only keep up on any of it through xwords. But I’ve always known about the CINNAMONBUNS reference.

Another puz with a double OLE and not a single Sven nor Lena in the clue.

I suppose it’s hard to put together a decent tribute puz at the drop of a hat. Probably there are some better puzzles already in the can for celebrities of a more advanced age. If I was a constructor I’d probably be thinking ahead.

All that said, I didn’t think it was a SLOG.

leftcoastTAM 1:51 PM  

How could anyone not like this one? Always a few, I guess. It's a nice tribute to CARRIE FISHER built on a good, solid STAR WARS theme.

SE provided crunch with the ETSY, FETTLE, MOTHY, ALLEE crossings, but they sorted themselves out with the correct spelling of LEIA after considering a couple of variations.

Thanks for the memories, Mr. Polin.

leftcoastTAM 2:34 PM  

Having just scanned real-time comments above, I'm struck by the extent of: (1) ego-involvement, (2) nit-piking, and (3) whining, more or less in that order.

Am I whining?

rain forest 3:53 PM  

@leftcoastTAM - there's always lots of those 3 elements in the blog comments. Comes with the territory, I guess. No, you weren't whining; you were reporting.

I found nothing here, except for 1-across, to consider complaining about. Though it appears to be a last-minute job, I think it is an acceptable tribute. CARRIE FISHER is known primarily for her role in SW, and though she proved to be self-deprecating and even funny in her last few years, focusing on her mental health issues wouldn't have been appropriate.

In any case, puzzle I did like.

Diana,LIW 6:01 PM  

Storms created 8-hour power outage last night. Then, this am, no Net, phone, TV. So I'm late.

Basically what @Rainy said. I never begin at 1-A - or at least seldom do, so an ACTII type of answer bothers me less than others. I guess.

Never saw SW, but feel like I could quote the movie word for word, it's so in the culture. With a million send-ups. Esp. that hairdo. Enjoyable Tuesday.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

leftcoastTAM 11:31 PM  

@rain forest: Thanks for the feedback. I guess we all could do a little more of that in our small but steadfast group of latecomers.

lodsf 12:02 PM  

A nice tribute to Carrie Fisher. Yes, she was so much more than her one iconic role but the Star Wars basis makes the puzzle accessible to most people.
Nostalgic -- 6 weeks later -- reference ("this Friday's inauguration") to a time 'long long ago' when we had a different president.

Jentaps 1:29 PM  

It is Yoda you mean. Obe Wan Kenobe speaks in a normal fashion.

Montanaboy 12:30 AM  

I doubt this will be read, but here goes. About the out of order quote. The clue reads in the right order: "With 61 and 37 across , a famous line ..." Read the answers in that order it's correct. Can't believe no one saw that. BTW great puzzle.

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