Prison guard slangily / WED 5-10-17 / Rapper with line of Fila sneakers / Output from futuristic weaponry / Facetious subject of many articles in Onion / 1960s underwater habitat / Defunct UK label

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Constructor: Ned White

Relative difficulty: Easy

THEME: A badminton rally — someone SERVES (presumably with a RACKET) and then the BIRDIE crosses the BADMINTON NET seven times (with each "hit" represented by an actual bird(ie) name) before landing out of bounds, resulting in a judge's call: "IT'S OUT!"

  • DUCK
  • CROW
  • LOON
  • KITE
  • DODO
  • DOVE
Word of the Day: Red ADAIR (56D: Legendary firefighter Red) —
Paul Neal "Red" Adair (June 18, 1915 – August 7, 2004) was an American oil well firefighter. He became notable as an innovator in the highly specialized and hazardous profession of extinguishing and capping oil well blowouts, both land-based and offshore. (wikipedia)
• • •

Do you serve in BADMINTON from out of bounds? I honestly don't know. I assume you do, because otherwise the entire concept here falls apart. It's already muddy to begin with, given that the six BIRDIEs are supposed to somehow represent the BIRDIE *and* the fact of its being struck by a RACKET (?). I admire the ambition here, but the execution is a bit of a mess. Also, the fill here is routinely junk, starting right away with RISD (😖😖😖) and continuing on with SNERT and OSS and PES and NISI and on and on. Those last two are real groaners. Constructor's just not trying hard enough here to polish the fill. Makes for a terrible solving experience. Luckily, it was also a lightning-fast solving experience (somewhere in the mid-3s—and that's with an oversized grid).

I don't know where ION BEAMS (33A: Output from futuristic weaponry) are used as weaponry, fictionally or otherwise. The phrase is barely familiar to me, and that answer was probably the toughest to fill in. I've never heard anyone say PAL UP (with), so even though that was my first guess (off the "P"), I didn't trust it. Had STORM for SEISM (ugh, that word), which was my costliest mistake of the day, by a long shot. I keep looking over this grid for interesting things to talk about, but the more I look, the more I'm struck by how much crosswordese there is Yet Again (LBO, ENERO, ERSE, ECONO, -OSE, ERG, IDI, ADAIR, VENI, ODED, NAS, ASNER, ONA, ORE, REN, DODO, plus the aforementioned stuff). It's pretty ruthless. The Rut continues.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


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Anonymous 12:11 AM  

Badminton service happens inside the court, not from outside, you'll be disappointed to learn.

jae 12:25 AM  

Easy-medium for me. My only problem was realizing I've been spelling BADMINTON wrong all these years. Well, I've never actually spelled it, but if I had It would have been wrong.

Fun fact: "LA Confidential" celebrates its 20th birthday this summer.

For me the clever theme trumps the crosswordese, liked it.

Mike in Mountain View 12:34 AM  

There is an incredibly high percentage of squares devoted to theme answers, what with the six birdies and the badminton net and the racket and the serves and the it's out and the birdie. I count 60 themer squares, 44 black squares, and 136 non-theme letters. That's more than 30 percent of the letters as themers. So rather than complaining about the fill, I will applaud the constructor on an incredible feat.

And it's hard to be angry about the fill when the puzzle finishes itself in a sub-Monday time.

Great job, Ned.

If only you could have squeezed in SHUTTLECOCK, too . . . . Just kidding.

George NYC 12:41 AM  

Not happy with CTA as answer to L train clue. This is NYT puzzle. L train is prominent line between Williamsburg and Manhattan. In the news bigly with recent growth of that area of Brooklyn and the fact that it will be shut town for post-Sandy repairs, inconveniencing thousands. Subject of countless NY Times article. CTA is Chicago. That Will didn't change this shocks and kinda angers me.

Larry Gilstrap 12:56 AM  

I know something about birding and am proud of my skills with a spotting scope. I often amaze myself with my proficiency. I've seen a KITE kiting, a DUCK ducking, and a CROW cawing, or was it a raven? I just saw a mourning DOVE today, which makes me happy because they are threatened by those ALIENS, known as the Eurasian collared DOVE. I've even seen a LOON, not around here but in Vermont. Never seen a DODO, darn it! I'm itching to add that to my life list.

When I was a kid, BADMINTON was a relaxed back yard activity. My dad insisted upon calling the BIRDIE a shuttlecock, which my phone tells me is more correct. Then I saw the game played at its highest level in Olympic competition. That thing with feathers moves like ION BEAMS.

Hard to believe that the words President and imprisoned appear in the same clue. I guess it happens. Not to take anything away from the incredible life journey of Nelson MANDELA. I wouldn't have played Sun City either.

I admire when OFL admits he doesn't know something and people on this blog get all self-righteous and spew venom about how a college teacher is not Google-like. I'm sure he finds it amusing, and I find it endearing. Can I play? AREA MAN? I got nothing. Waiting to post until I perhaps figure it out. Still waiting. By the way, The Onion is fake news.

chefwen 1:37 AM  

Pretty easy, just a couple of problem areas. Like @jae had a little difficulty with spelling BADMINTON, tried it with two t's first, didn't work. ION BEAMS was new and and had aSE for the sugar suffix, that needed a little rethinking. AREA MAN was a total unknown, don't read The Onion, thank you crosses.

Loved all the little BIRDIES.

Anonymous 1:40 AM  

AIL and ILL?

puzzlehoarder 1:45 AM  

CTA is clearly a Chicago reference we call our trains the "el" for obvious reasons and if you really want to conserve letters just "the L". I'm sure it's been discussed. Late night tablet solvingwhile falling asleep is a real slog. Non bird clues for "birdies" so I only noticed that wrinkle when I'd ffinished.

TomAz 2:09 AM  

@GeorgeNYC: the NYT is generally not provincial, and you shouldn't be either.

I have a number of issues with the theme execution on this puzzle... DUCK LOON etc are not actual badminton terms are they? They're just riffs on BIRDIE. And there's nothing magical about the shuttlecock crossing 7 times before going out.. the judge would still say ITSOUT if it only went over 4 or 5 times... the whole theme premise feels strained to me.

Because of the standard glue I finished in sub-Tuesday time

Will the Senate have the fortitude to impeach Trump when the time comes? He's made more than a few enemies in his own party over there...

Margaret 2:10 AM  

I do read the onion and AREAMAN still doesn't make sense to me.

Robin 2:14 AM  

Took me a little bit long for a Wednesday, but alcohol might have been involved.

IONBEAMS was no problem. Apparently I read more science fiction than does Rex.

Yes there was bunch of crosswords-ese in this one. But I do welcome the mention of Red ADAIR. Helluva firefighter back in the day for those of us who care about anything that was in the news before the year 2000.

The CTA was the one entry I had to track down to finish this off, as being a NYer, I had entered MTA.

George NYC 2:50 AM  

I agree that the puzzle shouldn't be provincial, but when you offer a clue that clearly requires local knowledge, I think solvers tend to lean toward a NYC piece of info. If the clue had referred to the "El," I would have thought of Chicago. "L" in the context of NY, where the puzzle resides, is under the MTA.

mathgent 3:26 AM  

There used to be a newsletter I subscribed to which had a section titled PBI. Partially-baked ideas. That's what this puzzle is. It attempts to give us a point in a badminton game but Instead priduces a gooey mess.

The word BADMINTONNET should represent the net. If so, the top two rows and the bottom two rows are out of bounds. Since the shuttlecock crosses the net seven times, the serve must be hit at 7A, which would be off the court and wide, where the alley is in tennis. Not where the badminton serve is hit.

And the server starts the point outside the right baseline and keeps moving left until reaching the left baseline where he or she knocks the shuttlecock wide. I've never seen a badminton point like that.

Loren Muse Smith 4:30 AM  

Rex – I rolled my eyes with your complaint about SERVE being in-bounds. And @TomAZ and @mathgent – I felt like y’all were overthinking this, too. But - BUT - I’m such a hypocrite; I was thinking it would’ve been cool to have that last southeast BIRDIE out of bounds. So the four-letter 59A could have been something like SAUTERNE, with the ERNE part finishing outside the grid. So I was overthinking it, too. It’s just that my overthinking was the superior way to overthink it. ;-)

I knew RISD from David Sedaris. His sister got a scholarship to got there, and he didn’t want her pronouncing it "RIZ dee". It was one of my first entries.

@Larry, @chefwen, @Margaret – AREA MAN shows up in tons of Onion headlines like this one.

And you can get this book.

65D EMU would have been one of my badminton shots – a dud.

Very, very clever puzzle, imo, with a ton of theme real estate (Hi, @Mike in Mountain View). Bravo, Ned! And I appreciated that the 6(!) birds were not clued as birds.

keleng 5:38 AM  

Ichiro crossing RISD?? ugh. Achiro crossing RASD made just as much sense to me. And I don't particularly like seism. And really, ail and ill in the same grid just seems wrong.

Anonymous 6:11 AM  

When will the Senate heed the the wisdom of Maxine Waters and impeach Trump?

Aketi 6:35 AM  

I liked the SENSE ORGANS above the ION BEAMS. Made me think of the blue ALIENS in Star Trek with cranial antennae.

I'm going to have to DUCK and cover if the SLINGS against the placement of the BADMINTON NET in relation to the RACKET continue. Despite having suffered through one season of being on the BADMINTON team I am a real DODO when it comes to this topic. I must have deleted all of it from my memory banks because of the humiliation of never having won a single game. That little shuttlecock/BIRDIE was much harder to connect with than a tennis ball. I bet if you counted the times my RACKET managed to connect with it (discounting the obligatory SERVEs) it would probably be in the single digits. I even managed to miss it sometimes when I tried to SERVE. Haha. There is definitely a reason why I never play games that involve catching, throwing, or hitting balls or other small objects resembling balls. Well, except when my son was little. He took great pleasure in knowing he legitimately was significantly BETTER AT mini golf than his mom.

smalltowndoc 6:43 AM  

RISD was easy for me. My wife graduated with a BFA, and that school was always prounounced "rizdee" because of the initials.

ION BEAM clue is okay, but a more real life clue would have been "output from a particle accelerator". My son is a high energy particle physicist, working at Fermi Lab, outside of Chicago and at the LHC at CERN in Geneva. Both have accelerators that generated high energy charged particles (i.e., ions).

Wasn't familiar with SEISM, although it appears to be a real word. Have no idea who/what AREA MAN is.

Second time in a week we had Supreme Court justices as the clue for ELI.

I thought this was a good theme dense, well layed out puzzle.

Lewis 6:51 AM  

Cool - a badminton game! Somewhere a couple of years back there was a puzzle that in the same way represented a baseball play, as I recall, and it was cool too. I love the misdirection clue for UNACCENTED. I see that backward ANO (Sorry,I don't know how to insert the accent) to accompany ENERO. My only wrong first guess was "yoyo" for KITE.

Ever play badminton? The court is small, but if you play against someone good, you will be sweating like crazy after three points. And it's a great game to watch when the players are experienced.

I love the out-of-boxness of the theme -- credit to the constructor and editor for getting this out.

Hungry Mother 6:56 AM  

Took me three triies to get RISD, even though I've walked past it.

Anonymous 7:00 AM  

Why shouldn't it be provincial ? Presumably the puzzlers in Omsk use regional clues as well.

NYC Area Man 7:02 AM  

Of course, I put MTA first at 42d. Changing it to CTA was easy.

Also, spelled it Badmitton.

Didn't care for the double "up" in 6d and 25d.

kitshef 7:19 AM  

There is some weak applesauce here: PAL UP crossing PES, ITS OUT, NISI, RISD(!!!!), and basically the entire SE corner. But for the most part, at least it is not the same stuff we see all the time. I mean, if you are going to put something ridiculous in a puzzle, isn’t it nicer to have RISD than ELHI?

And the theme is swell. Shame SMEW could not have been worked in. Some other four-letter birds:
Work all of those in and you have quite a BADMINTON rally going.

BarbieBarbie 7:24 AM  

This was maybe too easy, but so much fun that it gets an upward thumb anyway. Nothing wrong with the fill given the grid size and ambitious theme, densely-executed. Thanks for a fun puzzle!
I had QUAKE for SEISM, which messed me up, but I got over it. We all know seismograph, so no excuse for not figuring that one out. Nihi is a common part of that expression I don't know how to spell that starts with Nil. Ion beams come out of accelerators and what is it you think is coming out of a particle beam weapon, Rex-- dirt? Lots of modern-ish fill here, which should make us all happy. RISD is the happenin' place for art majors to want to go these days. I can't believe anybody could have run across The Onion even once and not heard of Area Man. There's always an Area Man headline.
Anyway, left this average solver very happy, and with coffee still hot.

Glimmerglass 7:28 AM  

Where is the word "shuttlecock"? Why isn't at least part of it in the grid? DODO is an extinct bird, as the others are not. Perhaps this dead DUCK is the one that's OUT. Awfully easy puzzle for mid-week.

Mtembe 7:32 AM  

Do you know why people object to Idi Amin? Because he was a black dictator.


chefbea 7:44 AM  

Gosh...I go away for a week and get punished with difficult puzzles....too hard for me. Got the badminton part but too many things I did not know!!!

Irene 7:44 AM  

I turned to the blog thinking that for once Rex would praise the cleverness of the theme, but no way.
I thought it was smart, amusing and Wednesday-ish. I had only one criticism: The L is supervised by the MTA; the El is under the CTA.

Anonymous 7:49 AM  

Yes, let's keep provincialism out of the puzzle. That way we can have the same generic, saccharine puzzles throughout the world! That would be awesome.

Anonymous 7:52 AM  

I'd like to see a guest puzzle by David Sedaris. He's such a funny, kind man.

Anonymous 7:59 AM  

The Talkimg Heads met at the Rhode Island School of Design.

Anonymous 8:06 AM  

For some good reading, check out the Hollywood snowflakes' reaction to Comey firing. Not exactly a MENSA meeting.

Nancy 8:20 AM  

When I saw RACKET and SERVES, I was hoping for a tennis theme, but when I saw the BIRDIES, I knew I was out of luck. It was going to be BADMINTON, more's the pity. I'm BETTER AT tennis. Tennis is a sensible game that's played with a ball, just as God intended.

I tried BADMINTON during one winter season at college. The Phys Ed teacher had suggested it, thinking I'd be good at it because I was good at tennis. She was quite wrong. I kept waiting for the BIRDIE to drop and was hitting up on it. "No, no, Nancy," the Phys Ed teacher said, "points are won in BADMINTON by the player hitting down on the birdie." Well you try hitting down on a birdie! Feathers are lighter than rubber, am I right, all you physicists out there? Therefore a birdie always falls with the feathers on top and the rubber ball on the bottom, right physicists? And therefore, if you hit down on the bird your racket will hit the bleeping feathers, am I right? So I spent that winter athletic season yelling at no one in particular: "Why are there feathers on this stupid ball? Who ever heard of putting feathers on a ball?

Needless to say, I did not become one of the world's great BADMINTON players. In fact, after that one semester, I never touched a BADMINTON racket again.

PokeMeInTheEye 8:20 AM  

I have a bachelors degree in geology and I've NEVER heard anyone use the term SEISM...

Nate 8:21 AM  

I was totally flummoxed by "Not stressed" for probably 5 minutes. It didn't help that it crossed with SEISM. When it finally clicked I let out a loud, "Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh..."

Good clue in a good puzzle.

Two Ponies 8:24 AM  

If I had constructed this puzzle I would have been very proud.
As a solver it was not so fun. Too easy.

I guess the ACLU doesn't have a branch office in Berkeley.

mmorgan 8:26 AM  

RISD was a total gimme for me (I'm from RI, and everyone calls it "Riz-dee"), and ENCI_O/_AS was a total Natick (I'm from RI).

wgh 8:26 AM  

I found it somewhat OK.

jberg 8:30 AM  

It's all in the punctuation. The L train is in New York; the 'L' is in Chicago.

Maybe all you folks posting random political comments should sign up for that Oracle training in Chennai.

SM28 8:37 AM  

I enjoyed this one! Got hung up on "Not stressed" at the end and kept doubting myself that I had the right spelling for "Foot, in anatomy." All in all pretty easy and fun, one of my better times for a Wednesday. I'd be interested to watch someone take a puzzle like this apart in 3 minutes or so - I can't even picture that degree of efficiency!

Sir Hillary 8:48 AM  

Impressive theme density, but not a very fun solve. However, I do like the central stack of IONBEAMS / SENSEORGAN / UNACCENTED / POLITICO.

Confused by ITSOUT, which seems to be in the "court" and yet clued as if it would be shouted if the BIRDIE were to land there. And what is magic about crossing the net seven times? Are there rules of badminton that I am missing?

I only know the Chicago system as the "El" (with the E) but I'm not a Chicagoan and will defer to those who are. In any event, CTA was totally gettable via crosses, so no issue.

Mash together the neighbors BETTERAT and AREAMAN and you get my favorite Pearl Jam song, "Better Man".

DUCK leading to SOAP...almost the Marx Brothers.

Charles Flaster 9:20 AM  

Very easy and Mondayish.
My comments are very similar to
KITE for Toyota
SEISM for StorM
CTA for mTA


Liked cluing for SCREW, SEA LAB , and ACHES.
BTW-- I helped my friend George Barany create a puzzle entitled EVEN ODDS ( 6 Down). You can access it at his website.
Thanks NW

Stereotypical Teen 9:26 AM  

So much acne lately...arrrgh!!

Rabbi Michael Bernstein 9:29 AM  

"AREA MAN found preeminent crossword of the entire universe to be not provincial enough" is the format of many Onion headlines

QuasiMojo 9:35 AM  

What's wrong with RISD? We get UCLA, ORU, UTEP and many other colleges and universities all the time. RISD happens to be an excellent, internationally known school. Roz Chast, David Chihuly, the Talking Heads folk and countless other cool celebrities went there. :)

CHIC does not mean IN VOGUE. Lots of people wear unfashionable attire and are still considered chic. In fact it is often the reason they are.

The MTA/CTA misdirect reminds me when the one in NYC was called the DOUBLE L. (LL). We also had the RR and AA and CC, and maybe a few others like that. I miss those days, primarily because we got to use really fun tokens and a ride was only 30 cents. Maybe 35 later.

I also LOVE Badminton so this was fun for me on a Wednesday. I agree there was some weak fill. "Better At"? but overall I enjoyed it. @Nancy, I am not sure I would call the thing in Badminton a ball. It's open on one end. By the way, shuttlecocks are useful for covering outdoor chairs with PESky sharp feet.

My disappointment however is that I filled it all in correctly -- double-checked it here -- but the NYT online version did not recognize it as being finished. The glorious ding-dong never SOUNDED.

Mohair Sam 9:45 AM  

Yeah, yeah, yeah - @Rex and all y'all are right (sorta) - pick, pick, pick.

As far as I can see you pick up your RACKET, ya SERVES the BIRDIE over the BADMINTONNET, hit six four setter birds and return, and when there ain't a bird ITS OUT. Different, clever as hell, and we liked it. So the cost of admission was too much -ese and a little RISD, small price to pay.

So we get ENCINO and San MATEO as answers and somebody is worrying that the Chicago Transit Authority is too far away from Manhattan for cluing? btw, has anyone checked if the Paris Metro has an "L" train?

Played Monday easy for us, not sure why - maybe because last Monday played like a Wednesday here. Never a big fan of The KINKS, but knew the song. Thought I was a hot shot at BADMINTON until I saw pros play it on TV, humbling.

@Rex - I've used the term PAL UP all my life, usually when pairing off little kids.

Fun puzzle Ned White - thanks.

kitshef 10:13 AM  

@Mohair - thanks for reminding me, I meant to squawk about the absence of a Kinks video in @Rex's blog.

Bill Palmer 10:29 AM  

Was hoping for "shuttlecock" but alas, "senseorgan" will have to do.

Malcolm Gibson 10:36 AM  

C'mon, Rex, lighten up. Not as "good" as Monday's, but still an OK concept. And I do love your blog...but: When you don't know something, you make it the puzzle's fault, not your own. Not knowing about how badminton is played, for example. (Look it up before criticizing.) Hey, I know how badminton is played (and if you've ever seen competitive badminton -- popular in many places of the world, BTW -- it's quite exciting and dynamic. Very fast!)

That said, keep it up -- particularly in putting pressure on NYT and Will Shortz about upping the consistency re quality, and for paying constructors a lot more money.

Hartley70 10:44 AM  

This puzzle made me so happy. The RISD museum was one of my favorite places growing up in the 50s and 60s. It was a tiny gem with a mummy and a giant wooden Buddha, in addition to some lovely art. It was just the right size to not overwhelm a young visitor. And right next door today we have the ACLU, another favorite of mine. This puzzle started out on my right foot!

The puzzle is easy but the theme is just beyond cute. I love the birdies. All but one are in my lifetime list, but @LarryGilstrap and I might have trouble scoping a DODO.

IONBEAM, antenna SENSEORGANS and ALIENS appeal to my love of sci-fi films. I liked your first paragraph @Aketi and agree.

My racket sports days are over, but I always preferred badminton to any other gym class offering. I was the 8th grade girls whiz at it in junior high, a dubious achievement I know, but before Title 9, we girls had to take what athletic options we could get. The good old days weren't always.

UNACCENTED was nicely misdirected and I had to change my mTA to CTA to finish the puzzle. I don't think CTA was unfair, certainly no more than the California cities. The NYT has a national audience as evidenced by the commenters here.

Anonymous 10:45 AM  

@Mohair. As usual, you're dead on.

@anon 6:19,
Never. The House starts impeachment proceedings; the senate adjudicates.

What's your problem?

Happy Pencil 10:48 AM  

What @Hartley70 said. Also, any time a subway is mentioned in a NYT crossword puzzle, the answer is invariably CTA, so that's a good one to file away for future reference.

@Quasi, methinks you have an error somewhere. Maybe take another look (if you care)?

GILL I. 10:49 AM  

Cute....Didn't understand the BIRDIE placements - I guess you're batting each little one over the BADMINTON NET.
Got RACKET and SERVES early on so I too thought we were playing tennis.
I was never really good at tennis because my sole purpose was to hit the ball as hard as I could and I did and it always ended up in someone's pool. On the other hand, BANDMINTON is cool because if you don't hit the BIRDIE hard, it sorta floats in the air for a while like a California Condor eyeing its next meal the fat EMU.
I almost went to Rizdee but opted to eventually go to San Francisco Art Institute. That's when SFO was fun to live in. I drove my green 69' VW Bug up the hill, always parked in the same spot, had my yellow Schwinn in the back seat anticipating a ride through Golden Gate after my art classes. I also had a large one bedroom apt. on Clay with a view of Pacific Heights, my own private garage and the rent was $200 a month. I was really a poor starving student but I lived like a millionaire.
One day.....just one day, I will spell Red's name correctly.

CDilly52 10:53 AM  

And quintessentially "Onionish!" LOL

QuasiMojo 10:57 AM  

@Happy Pencil, I checked it three times against the one shown here and everything matches up. This is not the first time it's happened. I only mentioned it to see if anyone else had the same problem. And to whine a bit... :)

Carola 10:57 AM  

Cute effort. I have some affection for BADMINTON as the only sport I was half-way decent at in gym class, so once I had the first few theme entries, I was fully into the game. Love the reveal. And being reminded of "L.A. Confidential."

dramawritcomp 11:10 AM  

Fun concept, with an active BADMINTON game in progess as the puzzle is solved.

Haven't played or even thought about the game in years, so the presence of the BIRDIE didn't make sense until I got to the end and finally GOT what was going on. Nice one, Ned.

Since I'm sitting in Chicago at the moment, CTA was a gimme. Liked the clues for UNACCENTED and SENSE ORGAN. Never heard of ION BEAMS, AREA MAN, or RISD, but figured out each from the crosses.

And, while there is a fair amount of crosswordese, it was a welcome change of pace to solve a puzzle without ACNE.

oldbizmark 11:14 AM  

way too easy for a wednesday. i'm with rex. the NYT CW has been subpar for way too long.

rex - can you start a new blog for another paper's CW that is better?

Nancy 11:14 AM  

@Quasi (9:35) -- I wouldn't call the BIRDIE a ball, either. I would call it just what you call it: "a thing". For me, that was precisely the problem. I'm surprised, though, to see how many of the people here regard BADMINTON as their favorite and best sport. I guess I won't be challenging you, Quasi, or Hartley (10:44) or Carola (10:57) to a match anytime soon. Nor even GILL, (10:49) who may not have hit the BIRDIE hard, but made it respond like a California Condor. I made my BIRDIE respond like a dying swan.

CDilly52 11:16 AM  

Alas, I solved this so quickly that I didn't even get the theme until after the fact. But I liked it and broke my Wednesday record (which is nothing to CROW about, compared to so many of my neighbors here).

@Namcy, you described my BADMINTON experience perfectly, and I was taught that one strikes a shuttlecock with a racquet and a tennis ball with a RACKET (which is also what the crowd makes at a football game).

@Quasi, spot on re CHIC.

The LOON Miichigan is prevalent around the many lakes, and an easy addition to one's birding diary. My family spent summers in the U.P. And I used to fall asleep sitting on the porch swing as the mist rolled across the lake listening to the loons cry.

Agree that this was probably more fun to construct than to solve, but a solid concept.

Anonymous 11:18 AM  

Dear Margaret. You do not read The Onion if "Area Man" makes no sense to you. Sorry, but you're lying. You may have read it once. That's not the same as reading it.

semioticus (shelbyl) 11:19 AM  

This wasn't bad. Mediocrity is OK. It was a mediocre theme, a slightly-worse-than-mediocre fill but at least there weren't any head scratchers, so I'll pass this one.

Anonymous 11:22 AM  

When I went to Yale only students at or graduates of Yale College could rightly be called Yalies or Elis.

gifcan 11:22 AM  

Grew up in San MATEO but took a bit to get ENCINO, crosses were all fair except for NAS.

Liked @Nancy's feathers on a ball rant.

Enjoyed this puzzle.

old timer 11:26 AM  

Nice stories, @Nancy and @GILL.I. Did I miss @LMS?

I think "L" probably should have been changed to "El". I also think most New Yorkers would only know San MATEO from its frequent appearances in the puzzle and would not know ENCINO at all. Since I grew up in LA and have lived most of my life in the Bay Area they were easy for me.

I spent the summer of 1967 in San Francisco. I had an apartment on Bernal Heights that cost only $70 a month. After I got off work at 10 p.m. I often went to the Old Spaghetti Factory for some pasta and, when I did not have vino, I would have a glass of Anchor Steam Beer. In those days, the number of places that sold steam beer was small enough to be written on a chalkboard at the brewery. The OSF had, I think, carried Anchor's product from the day they opened, circa 1959.

On my days off, I often went to Hippie Hill in the Park. Good Times!

P.S. The puzzle was Easy, and the crosswordy fill was inevitable as the constructor acknowledges on Wordplay. SEISM is a word you only see in the puzzle, I agree. RISD, however, is something many people know, just like they know the CTA. (And why, I ask, has no one ever clued "Muni" as "operator of cable cars"? Also, in 1967, 5 streetcar lines and many bus lines.

chefbea 11:28 AM  

Isn't what you hit back and forth in badminton called a shuttlecock???

SouthsideJohnny 11:41 AM  

There is no ACNE today. Is that legal ? I thought someone had passed a law requiring it to be included on a daily basis.

Masked and Anonymous 11:57 AM  

M&A don't know squat about BADMINTON. So, everything in the puztheme seemed fine by m&e. Didn't know why a bunch of featherballs were bein highlighted in the gray areas, but shrugged it off to maybe a sneaky "fowl ball" subthemer reference, or somesuch.

Theme mysteriousness coulda been worse, tho. Coulda been about rap stars playin BADMINTON at various New England design schools, say. Anyhoo -- theme was real different, and I like different, as more likely I'll get to learn somethin new, etc. And, hey -- no PEWIT balls were used, sooo … I'm good. Altho … should EMU be shaded gray, for consistency purposes? Or is this a gray area?

M&A alternative game setup: Jai Weejectai Ball. This is played with two symmetrical nets, built all from weejects. Grid portrayed this admirably well:

1. Net #1 has weeject stack base of SIS-EMI-REN, and grid-spannin net makeup of EMI+LBO+AIL+ELI.
2. Net #2 has weeject stack base of TAO-EMU-RAT and grid-spannin net makeup of ERG+OSS+CTA+EMU.
3. Note that each playin area (between nets) is thus 5x16, except one poor area only gets to be 4x16. This smallest area gets extra respect, by havin more U's decoratin it.
4. Rest of the rules are made up, as play progresses. [Sound familiar, Congress?]

RISD. har

Thanx, Mr. White. Too bad they wouldn't ever arm us with RACKETs, in my gym classes.

Masked & Anonymo5Us

Best WedPuz imbedded song lyric: "DUBAI DUBAI DO DO …"


John Child 12:03 PM  

A shame EMU showed up with the other birds. Monday easy, largely because of the two-dozen entries of thoroughly pre-owned fill. Some of that is inevitable of course, but by Wednesday I hope to do more than just fill in predictable answers to predictable clues.

Anonymous 12:12 PM  

Agree. It should have been "el" train.

Blue Stater 12:41 PM  

Several Naticks in this, one of them compounded by an error in the clue. The Chicago public transport facility isn't the "L" train; it's the "El."

Joe Bleaux 12:43 PM  

My reaction was similar (but some might say it was THE good clue).

skua76 12:56 PM  

@happy pencil...your comment did remind me that it seems to have been awhile since we'd have to guess between IRT, IND, or BMT subway lines in a NYT puzzle. Hope it stays that way.

Joe Bleaux 1:10 PM  

@Ned White, were the quote marks around the much-discussed L in the clue supposed to signal that it wasn't to be taken literally, but rather as a homophonic reference specifically to Chicago's elevated rail, as distinctly NOT to a NYC line? (And remember, Mr. White, you're under oath here.)

Anoa Bob 1:16 PM  

From early on I was much BETTER AT BADMINTON and Table Tennis than Tennis. You'd think that skill at one would transfer to the others. Nope.

If you're playing badminton in the backyard with friends then the object being hit back and forth is called a BIRDIE. If you're playing badminton at the level where there's a judge to make the "It's out" call, say in a tournament or league play, it's a SHUTTLECOCK.

I watch a lot of "How It's Made" on the Science Channel and naturally tuned in to see the segment on shuttlecock construction. I was amazed at the great care and fine tuning that went into the process, especially the repeated wind tunnel testing to make sure it was balanced and spinning properly. If you've got five minutes, here 'tis:

Shuttlecock construction

If there's some SEISMic activity (34,800,000 google results), would not that entail at least one SEISM?

Teedmn 1:21 PM  

I'm not sure when it finally dawned on me that "battledore and shuttlecock" was BADMINTON when I used to read about children playing the former (maybe in Louisa May Alcott books or something of a similar vintage). Perhaps I finally saw a drawing of said game. But I did find it gratifying today to splatz down BADMINTON, correctly spelled, in at 16D. I have never played an official game. It was usually something done out on the lawn with the neighbor kids and clacking RACKETs making a RACKET as everybody tried to hit the BIRDIE all at once. Fun stuff when you don't care who wins or whether you are hitting up or down on the shuttlecock (hi @Nancy!).

Like @LarryGilstrap, I never know if the big black birds are CROWs or ravens - I pretty much just call them crows. And there is no shortage of either LOONs or mourning DOVEs around here. One of my friends sheepishly told me how her husband laughed at her when she wondered, if the DOVEs called all day long, why were they called "morning" DOVEs? That's usually the kind of oops I make.

This took a bit over my average Wednesday. When I can't put anything in the grid until 15A, I'm probaly in trouble but it all smoothed out after the NW. Thanks, NW, for the creative puzzle.

RooMonster 1:22 PM  

Hey All !
Finished puz earlier, forgot to post! And I know no one can live without reading what I thought ...

Was a cool, different type puz. Hadn't heard of a KITE bird before, just Googed it. There are several types, apparently. Who knew? Obviously all youse, since no one asked.

Impressed by the theme density. Led to a little dreck, but hey, every puz has it, and it wasn't all that terrible here.

Put yoyo in for KITE before getting theme. Also had writeovers StorM-SEISM, PEd-PES.

Now, aren't you glad I posted?

Lovely SPAM, wonderful SPAM

Cassieopia 1:24 PM  

The BIRDIE goes back and forth over the BADMINTONNET - what's not to love? I thought this was one of the cleverest and most interesting themes in quite some time, and nary a pimple in sight.

@puzzlehoarder pointed out that all the birdies were clued in a non-avian fashion, even more elegant.

Really loved this puzzle, and delighted in the visuals. So it was easy, who the whoop cares, when it was so much darned FUN?!

Jeff Lewis 1:33 PM  

And in a fake Onion article, an AREA MAN is oft quoted.

MadBum's Theft 1:47 PM  


Agreed! I thought the theme was clever and entertaining; you know, Tuesday puzzles aren't ever going to be world killers. The light-heartedness and abundance of so many decent theme answers (who doesn't love birds) overcame the (admittedly) iffy fill. I thought it was a dove -not a dodo -of a puzzle.

JC66 1:53 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
JC66 1:54 PM  

Maybe the EMU was the BIRD(ie) that was hit out.

Aketi 2:24 PM  

@Nancy, supposedly, according to my high school coach, the way you slay the "feathers on a ball" (or maybe feathers on a demiball?) is by flicking your wrist. Do NOT take my word for it, however, because flicking my wrist did not improve my dismal performance. I was beyond BAD at BADMINTON . I wouldn't mind swishing a RACKET around in the air on Teedman's lawn if I wasn't required to make contact with The BIRDIE like @Quasi, GIll, Hartley, Carola, Anoa Bob, etc seem to be more than capable of doing and enjoying. Of course even better would be sitting on the sidelines with a drink in hand watching them play because it is pretty to watch the BIRDIE floating in the air.

@Hartley70, Title 9 wasn't enacted until midway through my high school years so lack of choice was precisely why I tried BADMINTON. I ended up sticking with gymnastics where I was in the middle range of a team of mediocre gymnasts. At least I had good company.

Anonymous 2:34 PM  

Not sure if it was a crow or a raven cawing? Hmm, not sure if you're serious, but... Ravens croak. It's much deeper than a crow's caw. Unmistakable really. Again, if you were joking, I'll eat...whichever corvid you like.

Trombone Tom 2:46 PM  

Still looking for battledore and shuttlecock (Hi, @teedmn). This was an easy, but entertaining, puzzle. Don't agree with @Rex's many quibbles. Maybe his problem is that he is loath to PAL UP with most puzzle authors.

Anne H 3:40 PM  

RISD's Roz Chast is the featured artist of "Motherlode" on the cover of this week's New Yorker which just dropped through my mail slot!
Enjoyed today's puzzle although it took me longer than my Wednesday average time. I guess it's because I've only played badminton once in my life (in sixth grade!) and didn't know how to spell it :-(

Happy Pencil 4:11 PM  

@Quasi, I hear you. I just know that sometimes I'm convinced I have everything right, and then I come back later in the day and instantly spot my mistake. But a little whining is never amiss!

@skua76, I'm not even sure what CTA stands for (Chicago Transit Authority?), but whenever I see a subway-related clue, I plop that in without a second thought. This was a case, I think, where too much knowledge slowed some solvers down. I rarely have that problem!

Peter Puzzler 4:38 PM  

Rex doesn't, apparently, remember that he commented on the puzzle of Mar. 27, 2015, and the appearance therein of IONBEAM.
How do I know? I'm following up the dailies with puzzles from 2015. Just did Mar. 27 a day ago.

QuasiMojo 4:58 PM  

@Happy Pencil, you were indeed correct. I had SNERD instead of SNERT. Invisible since the GOD looked so good. I never read the clue for "grokked" -- so no GOT. I'm the DING DONG. lol

Peter Puzzler 5:15 PM  

@Quasimojo -- it's "Dale" Chihuly, not "David".
And for my money, having seen two gigantic exhibits of his work in the DeYoung Museum, by and large he doesn't do RISD proud.

Anonymous 5:16 PM  

There is a world outside of ego-centralist New York, with people who love solving puzzles. Give us a darn break, will ya?
CTA was a gimme for me.

emily 5:20 PM  

Thanks! Now o get it

Peter Puzzler 5:22 PM  

@oldtimer: I drove the J,K.L,M and N lines in 1964 -- working the Extra board out of Geneva yard for 6 months.
Those toy trains were nothing but fun!

QuasiMojo 6:07 PM  

Thanks @Peter, I Knew it looked wrong. I was thinking Dave. I appreciate your pointing it out.

old timer 6:32 PM  

@Peter Puzzler, in 1970 I actually gave a thought or two to signing up for the Muni, specifically in order to drive the streetcars. I love trains and train-like vehicles, and figured the tough part of the job was putting the trolley back on the wire. They come off way too often, and when Muni bought LRV's they ordered a much more stable system for connecting the car to the power source. But the rest of the job struck me as far more easy than driving a bus. One reason people love streetcars is that the tracks make everyone confident that the car will not be lost en route.

Also, I truly loved two of the routes, the J (which in later years I took all the way from 30th and Church to the Transbay Terminal as I lived at 29th and Noe) and especially the N. Always crowded at rush hour, but there was no greater thrill than riding down to the end of Judah and walking through the tunnel to the beach.

I would have been happy to be a cable car gripman and could easily have been the conductor, who takes the fares, and sets and releases the rear brake. Except I did not think I had the physical strength to handle the grip. Probably the most physically strenuous job in the Muni system.

Joe Dipinto 7:05 PM  

I think the adjective you want in your penultimate sentence is "relentless", not "ruthless". Crosswordese can't really be ruthless (unless "Ruth" is excluded from the answers, I suppose).

Anonymous 8:47 PM  

It's the New York Times. Do your own damn puzzle.

Unknown 8:54 PM  

Easy but I, too, had MTA until I parsed the diverting clue for 41A.

Unknown 11:31 PM  

Sometimes I forget it's called badminton and not bagminton because I watch too much trailer park boys :/

Leapfinger 11:52 PM  

The Onion is fake news, @Larry Gil'sTrap? Say it ain't so!

I've known some seriously killertype BADMINTON players; some of those smashes were clocked at 98mph. Probly the reason my first impulse was thinking all those circles were going to be DUCK DUCK DUCK DUCK DUCK DUCK. I'm not kidding, in the right hands, anything can be a lethal weapon. Thought it was a lovely conceit, though it must have been a job reviving the DODO. My instinct would've been to skip the extinct, but hey, it'll be fine once it warms up.

@MountainView Mike and others, metoo for Shuttlecock... and Battledore, to boot

@kitshef, Ha! I thought we were being SERVEd a KIwi but that had to go fly a KITE

The EMU wasn't the only party-crashing BIRDIE; there was also the near-symmetric wREN. In the Overly-Specialized-Knowledge section, there's also the PES anserine bursa of the knee, to reference your friendly neighbourhood Goose. High Marx for how close we came to DUCK SOuP.

Aside from the fine feathered themery, I noticed the good fill more than the lukewarm: UNACCENTED POLITICO MANDELA SEISM UP has great promise, and IONBEAMS takes more SENSEORGANS than nonSENSEORGANS. Hey, if you can't be a BA SINGER, no reason to be a BS SINGER. And it was great form to follow the usual PEE RAT and LEE RAT with a BETTE RAT. Davis or Midler, your choice.

You know what they say, @Ned White: Nil NISI bonum. In this case, no problem!!

Anonymous 8:13 AM  

In case people read the comments late (Like I am, day after):

* RISD is the country's premier art and design school and is incredibly rigorous. For Rex not to know it (doesn't he teach at a university?) is just, well, sad.

* If you have ever watched competitive badminton, you know it is also a serious and difficult game. Most people in the US may only see it during the Olympics, but in some countries it is taken just as -- or even more -- seriously as tennis. I've tried it -- it is pretty fun and a really good workout.

happy May!


Tita 5:01 PM  

Way late...let me just say...

I loved this puzzle, in spite of PALUP.
I love backyard BADMINTON. Doesn't even really need a NET when we play.
I love that the BIRDIEs are not clues as birds.

Fun fact...(unless you're a goose)
Competition BIRDIEs are made with Portuguese cork and with feathers from the left wings of Chinese geese.

Too bad you couldn't have gotten a goose into this grid.
Much fun - thank you Mr White!

spacecraft 10:16 AM  

I wish DINK could have been worked into this grid somewhere. Especially after a series of SMASHes (also woulda been cool to include), the dink can drive you LOONy getting to it.

Doing acrosses, I didn't even notice the RIHL at 1-down. In the final read-over I really questioned RISD; Rhode Island was easy enough to figure out, but SD? I could not imagine. Finally had to Google it to satisfy my curiosity: oh, School of Design. Okay, that works.

Also questioned AREAMAN. Huh? Is this, like, a faux superhero, a teaching tool for Geometry 101? Hi, I'm AREAMAN! I'm six feet tall and three feet wide. What's my AREA? (hint: nine nerds marching) No, it's just a newspaper headline. You'd think the folks at The Onion would be a little more inventive, say for instance, AREA DODO.

A third big ? was PALUP. Sounds like something you get in your nose or colon. I challenge whether anyone ever in history has used this term, but I believe the constructor was desperate to make everything work and this was the only way. IMHO, it was worth it.

I am pleased--nay, delighted, to install the statuesque Kim BASINGER as DOD. It's about time. Despite some fill roughness, including ENERO and--oh look--another RIHL!, I enjoyed doing this one. As to the score, well, how could it be anything else? BIRDIE!

Burma Shave 10:50 AM  


ITSOUT that an AREAMAN made a RACKET whence
an AGING Ms. BASINGER did PALUP with VIGOR to surprise him.
He GOT to LEADER to bed, LEIA star, and, in a SENSE,
ORGAN music SOUNDED with her OVERT attempt to SEISM.


Anonymous 1:53 PM  

From Syndication Land:

Fun puzzle! I like a puzzle that reminds me of all the fun we have at family reunions. The cousins get very competitive at badminton and it's incredible to see how fast they get that birdie moving! It's such a family friendly game that even the old folks can play. We are also getting into corn hole lately...someone should make a puzzle about that!

Thanks, Ned!

leftcoastTAM 2:21 PM  

Nice misdirects: golf? tennis? No, it's BADMINTON! Fun getting to it.

Wanted Fresno before ENCINO, needing crosses for it and MATEO. Forgot about The Onion's AREAMAN; funny stuff. RISD an outlier.

@spacecraft got there first with his patented BIRDIE.

Diana,LIW 2:57 PM  

Uh oh - it's one of those "look at another clue" puzzles. Then it took an easy turn. BIRDIEs indeed.

BADMINTON was one of those games that always dissolved into "new rule" making and no reliable outcome. But anyone could play, and who had a tennis court?

The Onion produced a funny NASCAR parody a few years back. Here it is, or Google "onion nascar"

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting to turn left

rondo 3:45 PM  

Well, there’s a lot of theme stuff going on, on both sides of the BADMINTONNET. Lemme TOSSUP a BIRDIE and see if I can whack it over.

Those CLERKS that aid the Supreme Court aren’t your run-of-the-mill CLERKS. Guys and gals who’ve GOT JDs and who are super smart and are BETTERAT the law than most attorneys. They oughtta have a more important title than CLERKS.

Too bad ICHIRO didn’t come to this country earlier in his career, he’d have even more MLB records than he does already. Great player.

No doubt about yeah baby Kim BASINGER.

Except for the Pod/PEd/PES mess and the StorM for SEISM I didn’t SCREW up too much.

Anonymous 6:16 PM  

Had to ask someone about pronouncing Mateo but that was the only hint. One letter off with CTY instead of A. Took much me a longer time to solve than you Mr Parker.Still three days in a row without looking up any answers is decent.


wcutler 6:41 PM  

Larry Gilstrap 12:56 AM (a month ago, I guess; I'm in syndication land): I don't consider a satire site "fake news", as there is no intent to deceive and no intent to pass off the content as real. I see that Wikipedia does include such sites as the Onion in its definition of the term, but I would not think Facebook's stated intent to identify fake news would include sites like the Onion.

Rabbi Michael Bernstein 9:29 AM: I liked your example headline.

I agree the puzzle was easy, except I was DNF in the mid-west, in so many places. I didn't get the concept of the bird flying over the net until I came here, though. So again, thanks for the blog and (almost) all of the comments.

leftcoastTAM 9:25 PM  

I agree about ICHIRO. He is the Zen master of baseball.

rain forest 11:48 PM  

Oh @Spacey, you're such a softy. I think you liked this one more than did. However, I am way above where OFL was on this. I checked, and he was blah, blah, old, no Simpsons, blas, damn Will Shortz, blah blah, effing NYT, where's the sparkle, blah, blah. It gets embarrassing. Just give it up.

Anyway, as I said, I had a hard time seeing the relationship to badminton (great game) in the grid layout. Perhaps I'm visually challenged, but it escapes me. Nevertheless, the NET and all the BIRDIEs make it worthwhile. Meanwhile I was on the golf course today where I made nary a BIRDIE. Oh well.
The beer after the round was worth the price of admission, and three lost golf balls.

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