Computer that accurately predicted Ike's 1952 election / WED 7-12-17 / Modern-day remake of WC Fields film / Gardner who wrote Case of the Negligent Nymph / Animals that provided hair used in Chewbacca's costume / Kind of boid that catches the woim

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Constructor: Elayne Boosler and Patrick Merrell

Relative difficulty: Challenging

THEME: Modern-day remakes — famous 20th-century film titles with updated (i.e. "remade," i.e. 21st-century) title elements, and then a revealer that is also "remade": GMO POPCORN (?!) (60A: ... and something to eat while watching the remakes)

Theme answers:
  • UBER DRIVER (18A: Modern-day remake of a Robert DeNiro film?)
  • THE PAYPAL DICK (28A: Modern-day remake of a W.C. Fields film?)
  • HOLIDAY AIRBNB (Modern-day remake of a Bing Crosby film?)
Word of the Day: "The Bank Dick" (See 28A) —
The Bank Dick (released as The Bank Detective in the United Kingdom) is a 1940 comedy film. Set in Lompoc, California, W. C. Fields plays a character named Egbert Sousé who trips a bank robber and ends up a security guard as a result. The character is a drunk who must repeatedly remind people in exasperation that his name is pronounced "Sousé – accent grave [sic] over the 'e'!", because people keep calling him "Souse" (slang for drunkard). In addition to bank and family scenes, it features Fields pretending to be a film director and ends in a chaotic car chase. The Bank Dick is considered a classic of his work, incorporating his usual persona as a drunken henpecked husband with a shrewish wife, disapproving mother-in-law, and savage children. // The film was written by Fields, using the alias Mahatma Kane Jeeves (derived from the Broadway drawing-room comedy cliche, "My hat, my cane, Jeeves!"), and directed by Edward F. Cline. Shemp Howard, one of the Three Stooges, plays a bartender. // In 1992, The Bank Dick was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant". (wikipedia)
• • •

This had highs, lows, and creamy middle—just like a good, or at least entertaining—film, I guess. From the jump it was hard, because of the Funny. Not surprising to see an abundance of wacky, quirky, "?"-type clues when the co-constructor is a comedian, but (for me) they drove the difficulty level up. Even the simple (and comedian-related) 1D: Give it up, so to speak (CLAP) had me falling on my face, as I had the "C" and instantly guessed CEDE. Had no idea what was going on with DANNO until the last cross (65A: Guy with a lot of bookings?). Still have no idea what 42D: Film lovers may run in it? means (SLO-MO!?!? Maybe if you specifically love "Chariots of Fire," I guess, but ...?). Had trouble seeing through tricky vagueness of 42A: Completely busted (SHOT). Clue on BODYSCAN also too general for me to understand it for a while (39D: T.S.A. screening). I guess it's funny to end with GMO POPCORN (takes "remake" to a different level), but GMO doesn't really replace anything in a familiar phrase (i.e. it doesn't fit the theme pattern), so it felt cheap / off / wrong. Please don't tell me GMO replaces "fresh" or "hot" because GMO POPCORN (?) (whatever that is) can be both. Another wonky thing about the theme: UBER DRIVER is a very real thing, where the others are ridiculous not-real things (and therefore, in this context, Much better—go wacky or go home). How many sub Gen-X people have even heard of "The Bank Dick"!?!? I am a TCM addict, so I managed to suss it out OK, but I can see that answer giving solvers a ton of trouble, just because that is by far the least familiar film of the bunch ("Holiday Inn," also, if you're not a big old movie buff, not exactly common knowledge (anymore)).

The worst thing for me about this puzzle was I fell into a terrible trap that I'm sure hardly anyone else fell in, but I know ... I pray ... that at least one other solver out there, somewhere, had this exact, insane experience: I wrote in RUBON for 15A: Apply, as lotion (RUB IN)—since That Is The Phrase I Would Use—and then ended up with FORE at the beginning of what looked very very very much like a golf clue (8D: What may have a dog leg to the left or right?). So I never, ever (ever) questioned the FORE part. Had *&%^ing FOREPLAY in there at one point, and ended up with FOREPLUG. Since "fire hydrant" is The Phrase That I Would Use, the idea that FOREPLUG was an obvious misspelling of FIREPLUG ... never occurred to me. I do not play golf, so I just assumed FOREPLUG was some dumb golf term I didn't know. The End. Too bad, because the FIREPLUG clue is pretty cute. And if the "I" cross had been clear *or* the wacky "?" clue hadn't contained a golf term ("dog leg"), I would've been able (ABEL!) to get an appreciate it. But instead I fell into a pretty hilarious hole and never got out. Game over. You have an error. So sorry. Better luck next time.

["Hotel, motel, Holiday Inn!"]

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

P.S. that clue on OILY is four-star (45D: Kind of boid that catches the woim?)

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


evil doug 7:00 AM  

The theme answers didn't wow me. But some creative clue-and-answer play leading to UNUM, NASA (I wanted butt or buns for my moon unit), DANNO, FIREPLUG, SPAY (next to ANGST, and below SIC'EM), KEBAB (next to LOIN), ID'S, OILY, PONG, ONE PLY, BODY SCAN (next to NOSY) and SLOMO (crossing SHOT). Also SLAY and CLAP for our comic's benefit....

I've not been a fan of these celebrity stunt puzzles, but this one passes muster.

Lewis 7:06 AM  

@rex -- As I see it, "Film lovers" means "lovers in a film", who run toward each other in slow motion. TIME WAS when that was a thing.

Loved this puzzle all the way through. Right on point for a constructor paired with a comedian -- got me smiling. Terrific theme, clean grid, and great cluing (UNUM, NASA, ANTS, ABEL, SLOMO). This puzzle had spark, and as your resident alphadoppeltotter, I must report that this puzzle has an unusually low number of double letters (4), where anything less than five is very rare. My apologies, but this is something I inexplicably track.

Possible theme answer: BAE, I SHRUNK THE KIDS.

FPBear 7:07 AM  

Anybody know what GMO POPCORN is?

Elle54 7:08 AM  

I really liked it! Good job!

BarbieBarbie 7:09 AM  

@Rex, the sub is GMO CORN and it's not only legit but funny.

So much to love in this puzzle. OILY bird, har. The cluing for UNUM, FIREPLUG, SPAY, NASA, DANNO. "Goat coat" and "troop group." So much fun. Loved the misdirect on SLOMO. And, for me, a double-giggle on the Carson with few monologues: first I laughed with the constructor as I confidently filled in BEN, then laughed at myself when it turned out to be KIT. I could almost hear the "gotcha!" Anyway- totally fun and satisfying Wednesday. Thanks EB/PM/WS. More please.

Elle54 7:11 AM  

I guess it means that the popcorn of today I'd "genetically modified" grown on a huge farm by a company like Monsanto

BarbieBarbie 7:12 AM  

Sorry, was typing when you asked. @FPBear, Genetically Modified Organism. GMO corn is the official descriptor for what some call Frankencorn.

FPBear 7:13 AM  

Googled it. GMO is genetically modified organism.

CLB 7:22 AM  

Had the exact same error as Rex. Didn't know what a FIREPLUG was, and fell into FOREPLUG the exact same way, via RUBON.

Favorite thing by far was the clue for OILY. What's really great you're able to get it right away, know for sure it's right. Bravo!

blinker474 7:22 AM  

Like Rex, I had 'foreplug' to the bitter end. Could not imagine that I should 'rub in' lotion. Nonetheless, the puzzle was very entertaining.

Cassieopia 7:31 AM  

FoREPLUG here, too, and realizing the o was actually an I was the last square to fall. And earlier on, I was so completely convinced that RUBoN was the solution that I kept wondering what dog's legs had to do with FoREPLay and hoped mightily that it was a golfing term I'd never heard of. Yeah. Let's not go there.

This was a stubborn puzzle that put up quite a fight for a Wednesday but I finally wrestled it to the ground - very satisfying. Really liked it.

Small Town Blogger 7:34 AM  

I also fell into Rex's trap and ended the puzzle having foreplug! Didn't realize my mistake until I looked at the solve.

Anonymous 7:36 AM  

"Film lovers" means characters in a film who are in love with each other. They
often run toward each other (sunset in background?!) in slo-mo, often at the end of the film!

Unknown 7:37 AM  

First celebrity collab that worked for me. Now seriously going to have to dig up vcr tapes of Elayne.

John 7:40 AM  

Pretty easy and fun if you know your old movies and TV. The SLO-MO clue was great, oily bird as well. Solving on paper made it easy to go back and write "i" over "o" to complete fireplug, my only glitch. I was hoping Rex would show us a GIF of Jack Lord saying "Book-em, Danno!" The old Hawaii 5-O was the Baywatch of the 60s-70s. Very titillating. Apparently, Lord was awful to work with ...

Cassieopia 7:42 AM  

@anon 7:36 - thank you! That was bugging me!

QuasiMojo 7:42 AM  

Count me among the FOREPLUG set. I first wanted Foreword, as in a dog-eared book page. Haha. Fun hump day romp. But what on earth does DANNO mean?

Anonymous 7:43 AM  

I wanted AFTPLUG.

QuasiMojo 7:43 AM  

Oh, never mind. My query was answered while I was proving I am not a robot.

kitshef 7:54 AM  

With my Monday DNF at ON/iN fresh in mind, I was extra careful how I RUBbed, so got past that hurdle.

I loved this puzzle, and in particular I loved how you had to know stuff from before I was born AND know current stuff - in the same answers, no less.

chefbea 7:55 AM  

tough puzzle, I agree Loved the oily bird!!!. Never heard of Bank Dick. Don't understand Danno with lots of bookings??????

Mohair Sam 7:57 AM  

Finally! A celebrity puzzle to love. A comedian - a natural to crack us up with great clues. Played challenging in this house - we didn't know the Fields movie, only vaguely remember Crosby's, and the wrong directions we ran with the cluing - yikes!

I was going to suggest a trophy for OILY (45D) but Boosler is a Brooklyn native hence the clue was a natural for her, so no big deal. SLOMO so good, ditto GMOPOPCORN. We had ANGST before AGITA at 31D but when it fit better at 68A we were saved. SEMI before HEMI, anybody else?

Big argument in this house over RUBIN or RUBoN. I wanted to RUB the lotion on (like OFL), Her Ladyship wanted it IN. Luckily I'm a golfer and the PLUG thing saved us (another awesome clue). Maybe rubbing "on" lotion is a guy thing, and rubbing it "IN" is preferred by the ladies.

AIRBNB - Big noise locally as a local business man has purchased a couple of large homes in quiet neighborhoods, decided not to move into them, and begun renting them out as AIRBNBs pretty much full time. The neighbors and local hotels are very unhappy. Interesting to watch how it will play out.

Fun stuff team Boozler and Merrell. Thank you.

Exubesq 8:00 AM  

Great clues today, stop littering being my favorite. I was SO SURE 41A had to be the somnolent neurosurgeon and yet....
And haven't we seen SICEM recently? Stop maligning our canine friends, please.

Mohair Sam 8:03 AM  

For those asking: The old "Hawaii Five-O" series would usually end with an arrest and Steve McGarrett telling "Dan" Williams to "Book 'em Danno"

Anonymous 8:03 AM  

barbiebarbie, I don't understand your explanation. What word is being substituted for what other word? You say GMO Corn is the sub, but what is it substituting for? What is the original phrase?


Marcie 8:06 AM  

@chedbea. "Book em Danno"! Hawaii Five O

Mr. B 8:09 AM  

I wanted to be one of the oily boids to say I really liked this one.
Some tricky, but fun clues...
Finally figuring out FIREPLUG gave me a good chuckle. That was the last piece of the puzzle for me too.
I love watching classic I was familiar with the themers. GMOPOPCORN to top it off was perfection, IMO.
I LOINed something new when I had to look up PDA post solve. I wasn't grokking that one...but now I know!
Thanks Elaine and Patrick. Well done...

Kendall 8:14 AM  

I suspect I'll be in the minority here, but why hold back? I did not like this puzzle at all. I appreciate seeing the solved version and think the theme answers are nice, but I couldn't come anywhere close to solving them. This puzzle is challenging in the way that that makes tough NYT puzzles often not fun (for me), which is that they are targeted at people at least a full generation older than me. The way it started off I though it was going to be targeted toward younger people with fresh new takes on popular movie titles, but I only figured out one of them and that was UBERDRIVER. Even the video game clue is aimed for people older than me. First, isn't it a puck in PONG, not a ball? Is a square ball even a thing? Also, every version of the game released in the last 30 years has a round ball, not a square one. I ended up getting the answer but it still seemed off to me.

Hope you all enjoyed the puzzle more than me.

dandelion wishes 8:19 AM  

I really liked it! Good job! hi five :)

Two Ponies 8:19 AM  

Lots to love today.
Some days it pays to be old.
Fun trivia such as yaks and musette.
Elmo is a monster? I guess I never thought about what
the Muppets really are.
That fireplug stumped me too but now that I see it
I think it's very funny.
Big Jethro Tull fan so nice to see that answer.

Even with some attempts by others to explain
the GMO popcorn I still don't get it.

Best celebrity puzzle I can remember. Not too
much ego massaging.

chefbea 8:25 AM  

Now I em Danno...thanks

Joel Palmer 8:26 AM  

Aida is spelled with a D not a T

Anonymous 8:36 AM  

@2 Ponies - as in Cookie Monster. Kinda wanted acne for red monster.

ArtO 8:44 AM  

Thanks @Marcie Watts for the DANNO explanation. Totally out of my ken. Hand up with @Rex for RUBoN and completely missed the FIREPLUG cleverness cluing.

Toughest Wednesday ever for me.

yaffa 8:48 AM  

had foreplay and didn't get the wc clue. challenging today

Aketi 8:49 AM  

@Rex, I too was scratching my head over GMO POPCORN. @BarbieBarbie's comment made me think about the other meaning of CORN and when I separated each word (GMO POP CORN) the other meaning of POP popped into my head.

With all the FIREs in California, I had no trouble putting the FIRE in front of the PLUG. Stay safe out there.

@Chefbea, ditto on bankDICK. There are so many _ _ _ _ DICKs it could have been. As for DANNO, @John 7:44am answered your question. Think of the line "Book 'em, DANNO"

@Mohair Sam, I'm pretty sure that either our landlord or a nonresident is using AIRBNB in our building. Anytime I see someone come out of the apartment next to us, it is a person I've never seen before. Fortunately, the seemingly ever changing inhabitants are quiet.

Her Ladyship is right. Lotion isn't supposed to sit ON the skin; iit supposed to be absorbed INto the skin. If you don't RUB it IN evenly you are left with visible streaks of whatever color the lotion happens to be. If that happens with sun screen or a sunless tanning lotion, the resulting burn or dyed skin streaks can last for quite a while.

Hungry Mother 9:02 AM  

Right on my average today due to picking off the theme entries with ease. Also had "foreplay" for a while, due to "rub on", but figured it out.

Nancy 9:03 AM  

This is one of those times where the idea for a theme is just as terrific as the execution of the theme. How did the constructors get such an inspired idea -- that's what I wanted to know. My theory is that UBER DRIVER was the original impulse for the puzzle and that all the other theme answers were thought of afterwards. So I went to Wordplay blog to find out if I was right, but unfortunately the impulse behind the puzzle was not discussed. Anyway, I loved this puzzle, finding it imaginative and witty.

Writeovers: I also had FOREPLUG before FIREPLUG (great clue). Plus MERINO before MOHAIR (Sorry, Sam, I guess I don't always know my sheep from my goats), and JETEYE before REDEYE (don't ask; maybe that was due to SLEEPYEYE.) I also was looking for the GMO POPCORN "before" version, until I realized that that would be just plain POPCORN. If I find myself less distressed at the thought of GMO POPCORN than I do at the thought of GMO-other-foods, it's because I've never thought of POPCORN as a *real food*, anyway. If you're going to bastardize something, you might as well bastardize that.

Agree with those who have called this the best example of a celebrity collaboration puzzle to date.

Isandxan 9:05 AM  

Hand up for RUBoN. But I sussed (souséd?) it out in the end. Last letter to fall, but would have been a DNF if I had done it on paper.

Skewed old. Never heard of the WC Fields film and Holiday Inn was somewhere way back in the recesses of my mind and never made it forward, but I got them from the crosses and the modern references. So old but doable.

OILY was great.

Melrose 9:07 AM  

Great fun, clever theme clues. Loved the GMO popcorn. Thanks!

mathgent 9:08 AM  

@Lewis: "spark." Yes, indeed. It was ablaze.

Over the last six months, Wednesday's averaged 8.5 red plus signs in the margins and the record was 14. Today's had 18.

I didn't mind that the theme didn't quite finish. UBER, PAYPAL, AIRBNB fit into movie titles nicely (even though PAYPAL is not actually a bank), but the constructors weren't able to come up with a fourth.

It had everything I like. Crunch, a couple of unknowns ("musette" and origin of SPA), clever clues (e.g. the one about dog legs), rare entries (like ONEPLY).

I'm on my feet clapping.

Trombone Tom 9:26 AM  

Found this celebrity partnership more rewarding than most. Maybe it's because it trended old (like me) with references to W. C. Fields and the original Hawaii Five-0. It was neat the way the constructors balanced this off against the modern sharing economy expressions. However the GMO POPCORN revealer fell flat for me.

Held off on RUB(IN/ON) until FIREPLUG (a word I've heard since I was a kid) revealed itself, so I avoided that trap easily. The DANNO and SLO-MO clues were great.

Kudos to the constructor partnership and editor for a somewhat crunchy, but not too difficult Wednesday.

Meanwhile the West continues to burn. Thoughts and prayers for all those affected and the teams protecting them.

Phipps44 9:37 AM  

I thinki read some where that fireplug is a regional term. We used it in the mid west.

Z 9:38 AM  

I've thought the idea of celebrity constructors was a cheap trick. The execution has generally exceeded my expectations, though. Today's puzzle was a neat theme idea fairly executed with the kind of wordplay I like. I did suss out the "film lovers" trick while I solved, but fell into the RUB oN trap.

**Politics Alert - Feel free to ignore**
I'm always a bit bemused by my end of the political spectrum's reactionary take on GMOs. How long have we been genetically modifying plants and animals? Since civilization began. There are actually instructions in the bible on how to increase crop quality. Our pets have been bred for domesticity. Everything we eat is nothing like the original. There's nothing inherently wrong with genetic modification, but because Monsanto does it quicker our knees jerk. Every advance comes with potential risks. That doesn't me we shouldn't advance, just that we need to attend to and minimize the risks.

GHarris 9:43 AM  

Can't believe I finished a puzzle that undid Rex. Holy cow! I loved doing it and successfully completing it and knowing I outdid the master makes it so much sweeter.

Trombone Tom 9:43 AM  

@Z, my thoughts exactly. It's a little harder to hate Luther Burbank than it is Monsanto.

GAR 9:49 AM  

Can someone please explain Peck in a park = PDA? (61D) Thanks.

Joseph Michael 9:49 AM  

FOREPLUG seems to be a common mistake here, so I feel slightly less stupid for not seeing the FIREPLUG waiting to be discovered.

As others have said, this was a great collaboration and the best so far of the celebrity puzzles. It is imaginative, witty, and crunchy (like GMO POPCORN). Liked the comic's perspective on SLAY and CLAP and wouldn't have minded a few YUKS instead of YAKS thrown in.

My favorite themer was UBER DRIVER ("You lookin' at me?"). My least favorite was THE PAY PAL DICK since Pay Pal is not really a "bank" in the way, for example, that an ATM would be in the remade world.

Still, this puzzle gets a standing O. Would love to see another Boosler-Merrell creation.

TOCraig 9:53 AM  

Loved the whole thing and found it easy-medium, except for the D in PDA and Danno. Laughed at the themes (knew the films), Fireplug (great!), angst/agita, etc. knew to careful with Rub in/on and Kebob/kebab. No problem. Thank you all.

Joseph Michael 9:53 AM  

A peck (kiss) in a park is a PDA (public display of affection)

Cassieopia 10:11 AM  

@Z it's not the mods per se (although The Botany of Desire has some very good points about the symbiotic evolution of plants and human biology) but the resulting suppression of genetic diversity. Unintended consequences and all that.

Robert A. Simon 10:11 AM  

I like the collaborations if only to discover which celebrities are avid solvers. It adds a very real dimension to my perception of them. I always liked Elayne Booster (Oh, that Eighties hair!), and now I like her even more.

What I don't like is Rex's subcutaneous dissections. "THIS doesn't go with THAT!" and "A isn't of parallel construction with B!" and all the rest. The fact that an UBER DRIVER is a real thing and a PAYPAL DICK isn't is ridiculous and pedantic. They're both modifications of old movie titles. Period. End of story. Totally belong together in this puzzle.

And for GAR, these days "PDA" stands for "Public Displays of Affection," not just "Personal Digital Assistant." And yeah, it hung me up too.

His Radiance 10:15 AM  

Ditto on foreplug às in "I drove it into the foreplug on the back nine."

His Radiance 10:18 AM  

Ditto on foreplug às in "I drove it into the foreplug on the back nine."

Molson 10:29 AM  

I had the same foreplug issue. I have never heard of a fireplug before. That must be a regionalism, like bubbler in Wisconsin for water fountain?

Hartley70 10:34 AM  

Some days I feel older than dirt, but I still didn't recognize DANNO or THEPAYPALDICK. That's okay, the crosses helped me out, although I was seriously questioning DICK when I saw it. WC Fields is way before my time and Hawaii Five-O is a bit of pop culture I've skipped over.

Brilliant idea and execution in my opinion. We've got it on a Wednesday, but it could work on any later day of the week. Of course it was a kick to see Rex go so wrong! Hmmm I wonder what his time was?

Hartley70 10:41 AM  

My significant other just explained to me that fireplug was the original name for hydrants. The old water pipes had a plug directly in the pipe that a fireman could pull out to get water. He says the original pipes were wooden. When I looked askance and asked for a citation, he told me "Secrets of New York" on our local PBS station. Can't argue with that!

puzzlehoarder 10:42 AM  

There's a lot to talk about in this puzzle and that's a good thing. I agree with others that this is the first celeb puzzle with good chemistry. That NW corner was just straight up difficult. Even the north center, which was where I started, had the ON/IN issue come up immediately. I've been a fireman in Chicago for 30 years and I can assure you that the term "dog leg" has absolutely nothing to do with any fire department terminology having anything to do with hydrants. It's pure fabricated misdirect on the part of the constructors and that's not a bad thing. The unevenness of the theme entries was another plus. UBERDRIVER was glaringly obvious and then the theme switches to obscure movies with a fourth movie related entry that doesn't follow the basic pattern of the other three. I approve. If you're a constructor keep them guessing, that's your job. What did I learn today? First off Elayne Boosler and Betty Thomas are not one and the same person. It's DANNO not DANKO. I never watched that lame show anyway. This "musette" clue for the ultra common OBOE entry is a debut clue for the Shortz era. I read through the whole 213 clue list. It was more common pre- Shortz but apparently it's been "retired." My take is that the editor saves these "killer" clues for puzzles of this quality. Either way it was 28 minutes of joy to a clean grid using my damn tablet. The K of KEBAB was the last to go in and no need to hunt for mistakes.

jberg 10:45 AM  

Fortunately, working the crosses from UNUM/UNIVAC I had PIMA by the time I got to 8D. That prevented 'golf hole,' and eventually I had GUST and BIG and saw FIREPLUG. Otherwise I might have gone with RUB oN myself --even though I put moisturizer on my face every morning, and am always careful to RUB it IN completely.

MOHAIR got me thinking of a possible theme involving sweaters, as in "appropriate sweater for a guy worried about male pattern baldness." Feel free to come up with your own.

@Kendall, there's no way around it -- crosswords are also going to draw from the sum of all human knowledge, from today's pop music and slang to the odes of Confucius. Read lots of novels and keep your ears open, and you'll be OK.

RooMonster 10:50 AM  

Hey All !
To discuss first what everyone's talking' 'bout, I wrote in RUB_N and waited on the cross. Never commit to ambiguous letters! :-) Same with clue Mauna ___, write in the final A and wait. Yeah, I be smart!

Puz was kinda wonky in my little world. THE bank DICK was never heard of, HOLIDAY inn also not known. Plus that GMO POPCORN seemed an odd entry. Best part was the cluing.

Smiled when got @MOHAIR. Kind of a chilling line, though, KIT SHOT MOHAIR. UNIVAC sounds more like a vacuum cleaner.

@Lewis, three of the four doubles are L's, that's gotta be some kind of odd thing, no? And also an ELS! Seemed like a lot of Y's while solving. 9 of 'em, but they stood out to me for some reason.


AW 10:59 AM  

Had to cheat with ELMO (because I don't think of him as a monster), AGITA (never heard of it), OBOE (because even doing a Google search for "musette" didn't get me anywhere close to "oboe"), SPA (because I've never heard of PONG, so had S_A but no nothing of Belgium towns), and PDA (because the "peck in a park" had me thinking of birds). But 2D is badly clued. "Toss" is the polar opposite of HURL. Still, a fun midweek puzzle.

JC66 11:00 AM  

I didn't get the SLOMO or POPCORN jokes until coming here.

EB & PM - Great puzzle.


Sometimes, we're so close to something, we can't see the forest for the trees.

I think the clue for 8D (FIREPLUG) refers to how dogs may "relieve themselves."

Anonymous 11:00 AM  

I agree with everyone who enjoyed the puzzle. Hands up for foreplug. I've never heard a fire hydrant called a fireplug. I like learning so no problem. Also appreciated the origin of the word spa. And, well, it took me way to long to come up with clap....

ColoradoCog 11:03 AM  

Not sure I agree that this was a full "Challenging Wednesday" but it definitely felt more like an easyish Thursday to me. Ended up about 10% above my Wednesday average. I fell into all the same traps as everybody else.

I think this was the strongest of the "celebrity" puzzles we've seen so far. I've always enjoyed Elayne Boosler's comedy, and I really enjoyed her "?" clues. For me, the theamers were the weak point of the puzzle. (UBERDRIVER was the strongest of these by far.) The fill clueing was excellent, and this was where Boosler's wit shined.

Two Ponies 11:08 AM  

@ puzzlehoarder, Perhaps I am not understanding your comment about "dog leg" but I believe there is nothing there that has anything to do with fire fighting. Dog walking, yes.
Whenever one of my dogs hikes his leg to pee on a fire plug I chuckle and chide him for being such a cliché.

Fire hydrant may be more common but fire plug still lives in our language. Sometimes a short stout person is described as a fire plug.

Georgia 11:10 AM  

"Book him, Danno" is a line from the old, original "Hawaii 5-0" series, so you'd need to be old like me to know it and know it well. The star would say it to Danno, his Hawaiian sidekick, with almost every end-of-episode arrest. Took me all 5 crosses to get it and then there was a wonderful, endorfin filled AHA moment.

puzzlehoarder 11:13 AM  

@Hartley70 Your husband is correct. I learned that history of the term fireplug in the academy. Another idiom associated with it is the term "plug ugly". Fire companies used to be volunteers often sponsored by bars. Simultaneous arrivals often lead fights as to which company claimed the fire. Securing the nearest plug was the first step to putting out that fire so the job went to the companies best fighter. They probably weren't good looking to begin with anyway.

Mohair Sam 11:15 AM  

In defense of DANNO: We rarely watched the show, didn't like it. But the phrase "Book 'em DANNO" swept the country for the run of the show and years afterward. Whenever one of us would punish one of our sons with banishment to his room, the other would give a sly wink and whisper "Book 'em DANNO".

@Aketi - OK, OK, I've gotten that lecture twice this morning. From now on I'll RUB the lotion IN. Sheesh!

@Z - Takes guts taking that stance - jerked knees, sacred cows and all that. You'll lose a liberal friend or two. But your point is well taken here.

Anonymous 11:17 AM  

"film lovers" = lovers in films (picture a couple running in slo-mo on the beach)

Geometricus 11:18 AM  

I was dancing all over this grid to get it finished because of the hard cluing. It was the easier southern end of the puzzle that made getting the rest possible for me. HOLIDAYAIRBNB and GMOPOPCORN were my first themers, and I discovered both almost simultaneously, then I grokked the theme and was able to finish slightly below my Wednesday average of 17:40.

I did not fall for FoREPLUG because a "RUB-oN" is a kind a temporary tattoo, the kind we used to get with bubble gum or in a cereal box when I was a kid. Lotion needs to be worked IN as others have pointed out.

Solvers working to improve speed: everyday I have been doing several puzzles on the "Crosswords with Friends" app. All the puzzles are sub-Monday easy (think TV Guide or People magazine) but most are well-constructed (just not super-interesting theme-wise, lots of current movie & song titles and current entertainment and sports celeb names) by the usual gang of constructors you see in more prestigious publications. For example, I just did a Patrick Berry puzzle yesterday in CwF.

Yesterday I started solving puzzles on CwF in "List" mode, where you just see the clue and number of boxes. I started getting times below 4 minutes and breaking previous records left and right. I think it helped my solving speed on the NYT puzzles.

Anyways, thanks to Elayne and Patrick for an entertaining solve!

jb129 11:23 AM  

I liked it altho I didn't know DANNO or GMO (Popcorn)

semioticus (shelbyl) 11:28 AM  

If this were a Thursday, I would have enjoyed it much, much more. Very interesting clues, tricky-ish themers. But this is not what I expected from a Wednesday so I was frustrated more than I was pleased.

GAR 11:32 AM  

Thanks Joseph and Robert. I don't believe I've seen or heard in crosswords or elsewhere that PDA can stand for public display of affection.

Malsdemare 11:36 AM  

Wow! I really liked this puzzle. It was exactly the thing that gets me going. Lots of places where I said, "no way," and then moments later, "hey! Way!" Not a single instance of dreck, and genuinely clever clues and fills, too many to list. More, please!

Political answer to @Z. Feel free to ignore.

I live in the middle of corn/soybean country. In addition to @Cassiopia's point about the suppression of genetic diversity, I have two other concerns about GMO food. 1) farmers MUST buy their seed from the company; they cannot plant Monsanto's seed and harvest it for next year's use. And if some of that seed comes up the next year (volunteers, so to speak), they are liable for patent infringement. 2) While some of this is being engineered for human benefits, in some cases it's going to be a problem. Imagine a seed that's developed to be resistant to a specific disease gets adopted by bazillions of farmers. Some small portion of that disease vector will "get through," infect the plant, and suddenly you have a whole new problem: bazillions of farmers who've adopted a modification that doesn't work and limited options in the short term for a replacement. There are lots of other problems that farmers are facing; right now we're in a drought and if it doesn't rain soon, the pollen won't mature to pollinate the corn. And the market forces at work with the huge agribusinesses are resulting in thousands of acres of played out cropland; no incentive to take care of the land. So it isn't just GMO that worries me. But in my heart I know that it isn't nice to fool Mother Nature. We have an awful lot of evidence that human-made attempts to manipulate the lady can result in disaster (Japanese lady bugs, kudzu). Off my soapbox.

Anonymous 11:40 AM  

Toss one's cookies = HURL.

Anonymous 11:40 AM  

Yeah, I made the same mistake with FIREPLUG, Rex. This puzzle had its moments for me, but as usual, way, way too many mistakes, marginal definitions (over the line, really), etc.

GILL I. 11:42 AM  

Que fun....! I love Elayne Boosler and I was elated to see her name right up there in lights with wonderful Patrick Merrell. This is one of my favorite quotes from her..."You never see a man walking down the street with a woman who has a little pot belly and a bald spot." The we get WC Fields..."I never drink water because of the disgusting things fish do in it." And then we get @MOHAIR the goat who got the OILY boid. WHAT'S NOT TO LOVE ABOUT THIS PUZZLE?
All of it...Primo Wednesday fun.
THE PAY PAL DICK made me laugh as I can see WC making that into some stand up joke.
SLO MO..Can't you just imagine Kenny G playing something in "An Affair to Remember?" Or am I thinking of that sappy movie "Love Story."
LULL TULL ANGST AGITA this was fun. Let's do it again!

joannamauselina 11:43 AM  

I too am an old movie fan, so that gave the puzzle an added plus! And I too had foreplug. I envisioned some complex plumbing system under the sink.

FMA 11:44 AM  

Elayne and Patrick - you killed it!

Tracy Bennett 12:00 PM  

I tried FOREPAWS in the FIREPLUG spot, until I couldn't make it work.

Masked and Anonymous 12:11 PM  

Put up a powerful fight for a WedPuz, at the M&A house. Always like a challenge, tho. Pretty nice theme, but the punchline was sorta lost on m&e, due to not exactly recallin what GMO was. Knew all the original movie titles ok, tho.

Went the totally worthless DABON/FORELIMB route, at first. Lost valuable nanosecs.

staff weeject pick: GMO. Nothin very desperate outstands in the puz, altho PIMA is a slight head-scratcher, as I thought they was Indians, somewhere out in the SW. (That's about all the Official M&A Research Dictionary says, too boot, btw.)

fave fillins: FIREPLUG (w. cute clue). FLYPAPER (did not get stuck there at all, due to moo-cow clue). OHREALLY. BIG right over SHOT.

Thanx, Boosler darlin and Mr. Merrell. A fun GMO-ed solvequest. [Cool concession stand shout: "OMG -- GMO!" Yer possible next puztheme?]

Masked & Anonym007Us


Anonymous 12:17 PM  

I couldn't get off mALTA. Talk about a face palm.

Anonymous 12:21 PM  

I absolutely loved this puzzle, and felt SO clever when I immediately figured out UBERDRIVER. The rest was enjoyably easy and fun.
I agree with, we have NOT modified specific genes in the past through introduction of viral transmitters or whatnot, we had essentially bred or hybridized plants and animals to achieve the "desired" results which also has implications, but much different than the ones presented by GMOs.

Teedmn 12:22 PM  

I'm glad to see that I'm not alone with my FoREPLUG. It's the first thing I looked at when I got here, to see where I went wrong. Unfortunately, it wasn't my only error.

When you don't get the theme while solving, or rather, the theme doesn't aid in the solve, you can let it be anything you want. I saw the GMO in GMO POPCORN, and the BNB in HOLIDAY AIRBNB. Not knowing a single one of the movies (I might have thought of "Taxi" DRIVER if I'd been getting the theme), it didn't bother me at all to have TSE PAYPAL DICK. GMO, BNB, why not a little TS Eliot? I thought maybe UBER DRIVER was the one that didn't match. It's not the first time HEMI vs. sEMI has tripped me up.

As many of you have pointed out, the clues for this puzzle were fantastic and fresh. Great job, EB and PM.

Unknown 12:26 PM  

Love, love, love your theme answer. Like it better than the WC Fields one :)

Bill Feeney 12:28 PM  

Oh! Dogs peeing...not the shape of the fireplug itself. Duh.

Unknown 12:31 PM  

Some other remakes I'd watch:

Text M for Murder
Twerks with Wolves
Mr Smith Goes to the Swamp

Unknown 12:33 PM  

I also had fore for the longest time and couldn't figure the rest. When I finally filled plug from the crosses, I didn't see the mistake till the end when reviewing answers. I like the answer; it's fun. That rub on/ rub in cross however makes me mad. Who says rub in?!? I am #TeamRUBON :)

Nancy 12:59 PM  

@GAR (11:32) -- I assure you that public displays of affection were referred to as PDAs long before the existence of IPhones. Or Blackberries. Or even beepers, for that matter. I remember the term from my teenage years, or possibly earlier.

@GILL (11:42) -- I never heard that Elayne Boosler quote. I like it so much that I'm going to Google her on YouTube. How true, how true is that quote!

@Z (9:38) and @Malsdemare (11:36) -- I'm with Mals (although I really couldn't follow all the complicated details of what she was saying.) But the bottom line is: You really can't fool Mother Nature. Yes, Z, we've always tinkered with Mother Nature at the edges. But I see a huge difference between breeding two tame dogs together, or even mating a poodle with a Golden in order to get a big playful love machine that doesn't shed. That doesn't seem unnatural at all. But messing around with a cell and substituting a different nucleus -- well that just seems creepy to me, whether in plants or animals. Creepy and potentially very, very dangerous.

old timer 1:06 PM  

DNF because I never saw CLAP and therefore had "flips" instead of PLOPS (thinking of psychiatrist's couch of course). Gave up and came here.

Despite the difficulty I looked nothing up because it is just wrong to do that early in the week.

@malsdemare, if you *deliberately* replant kernels from a Roundup ready corn crop, you could be sued for patent infringement. If a few volunteers spring up from last year's corn, no worries. That famous case you are thinking of was brought because a farmer saved enough seed for the entire next year's crop. Of course, Monsanto made a profit in any case from the sale of two years' worth of Roundup, but they wanted to get the word out that re-using patented seed is a no-no.

Calvin 1:28 PM  

"Kind of boid that catches the woim?" is one of my favorite clues of all time. I loved this puzzle.. funny, challenging, and very clever!

RAD2626 1:30 PM  

Fun. Fell for every trap: RUBoN, aNgst before AGITA, sEMI and never can spell KEBAB right but plowed through. Must have been great fun to come up with theme answers:

The Last JPEG Show
School of Emo
Seven Spouses for Seven Partners

crabsofsteel 1:45 PM  

Once I got the theme, I did not even try to finish. Too dumb.

Also, a French vineyard is not a "cru." "Cru" means a vintage. A vineyard would be "champs" or "terroir." Sloppy work, Mr. Shortz.

TomAz 1:59 PM  

Count me also as one of the RUBON / FORExxx fools. Except: I don't believe you rub lotion in, you do actually just rub it on. RUBIN has a different meaning, making a person feel worse about something they already feel bad about; salt in the wound. Therefore, I conclude without the slightest bit of self-righteousness, the error lies in the clue, and not in my answer.

GMOPOPCORN was kind of a bizarre revealer but whatever. The theme answers were kind of fun and I enjoy the banter here coming up with others. The Wiccan of Oz. There Will Be PolyHeme. Manchester Under the Sea.

GILL I. 1:59 PM  

CRU...IS a vineyard. Mon dieu, t'as l'aire fou...!

BarbirBarbie 2:05 PM  

Off-topic alert, skip if bored by GMO thread

@oldtimer, nope- I think- he sold it to the elevator, then immediately bought grain from the elevator to use for seed. Not innocently-but his reading of the contract was that this was a loophole and OK to do. I think the courts disagreed.

@Z, @Nancy, @ Mals et al-- doubtful that the Bible contains instructions for crossing a mouse or a virus with a plant. Those are the GMs that people are worried about. Including me-a scientist who was raised among scientists and has seen often enough that "we are smart enough to do the research" gets used as a proxy for "the rest of you must be stupid to worry." Always ask the questions. Never accept ISAYSO as an answer. (And for all you Quality People out there, if the answer is "I stole some information I'd like to share with you," stop and call the FBI, dummy.)

Z 2:11 PM  

More GMO and politics:
@Cassieopia and @Malsdemare - The long-term protective need for genetic diversity seems obvious to me. That corporations behave badly and need to be tightly regulated for our protection and theirs is obvious to me. Neither issue has much to do with the benefits or costs of gene modification. That's what I'm trying to suggest, we take one issue (Monsanto does bad things) and muddy it with another (messing with genes directly rather than through sex is creepy(@Nancy - you have lots of company)). I'm not worried how the farmer produced fat red juicy strawberries, I'm just glad that I live in a time where we have fat red juicy strawberries.

@Mohair Sam - Probably one or two, but I don't think anyone will mistake me for a Republican anytime soon.

Aketi 2:15 PM  

@Nancy, what you mess around with Is much smaller than the nucleus. I actually did my BS in molecular biology and had an internship with a group that worked on the Ti (tumor inducing) plasmid which is a small circle of DNA found in Agrobacterium tumefaciens. That bacterium genetically reingineers plant DNA so that plants develop crown galls. Molecular biologists discovered that you could use that plasmid to insert other strips of DNA into the plant genes. All this occurs at the microlevel whereas breeding occurs at the macro level. In comparing it to surgery it's a little like the difference between using athroscopy versus using a hacksaw.

I think both genetic engineering has plenty of important ethical issues to consider as @Malsdemere pointed out, but breeding dogs has similar issues. Bulldogs, for instance, may be cute, but they have been so overbred that they now have serious respiratory issues.

crabsofsteel 2:17 PM  


You need to have lived in France like I did, or be married to a Frenchwoman, to know that a CRU is NOT a vineyard. For example, a better Medoc will be given the appelation "Cru Bourgeois" to signal that it was destined for the noblemen of the time. Do you think this translates to "Noble Vineyard"?

Tu petes plus haut que ton cul, Monsieur.

Aketi 2:26 PM  

@Mohair Sam, I should have realized you already had the lecture. I also realized that the gender divide betWeen RUB on and RUB IN may have to do with differences in products, after my son's shaving cream disaster this morning. He RUBbed it onto his face but used so much he RUBbed it INTo his ear and had a panic attack because his ear was filled with shaving cream. He did manage to finally clean most of it out of his ear but he left for work complaining about the sound of bubbles popping in his ear.

Dick Swart 3:00 PM  

A fun Wednesday! Loved the film switches... particularly with two iconic stars, and one whose versatility may not be as easily caught. I grant the "are you talkin' to me" scene is a gimme for DeNiro, but it is just one in a panorama of characters v Der Bingle and Fields.

Nancy 3:01 PM  

@Aketi -- If you didn't see my Monday 5:01 p.m. shoutout to you, you've just now given me reason to shout it out to you again.

Anonymous 3:03 PM  

Honestly, it didn't take a genius to jump start this economy - Obama just needed to remove his foot from its neck.

jae 3:03 PM  

Yes, on the tough side for a Wed. I solve on paper and my last entry was changeing ON to IN because FOREPLUG???

Delightful and fun, liked it a lot.

@z - Well said.

Anonymous 3:15 PM  

@crabsofsteel there is a Wiki article "Cru (wine)" about wine classification and the first sentence is "Cru is 'a vineyard or group of vineyards, especially one of recognized quality'." So it seems that according to at least one objective source, CRU can be a vineyard, and that makes it ok as a clue. I think @GILL.I might be correct. I also think @GILL.I is a Madame, not a Monsieur.

Jeremy 3:24 PM  

Also had foreplug with no idea why.

Film lovers I think refers to *characters* who are *lovers* in the film. I think it is a cliche that they run toward each other in *slo-mo*.

Thomaso808 3:54 PM  

A very fun puzzle that reminds me how great a solving experience can be and why Rex so often gets down on other lesser offerings.

I agree it would have been better with a fourth movie title entry. Many great ones have already been suggested. GMOPOPCORN was a disappointment.

I see Non-GMO on labels all over the place, but marketing folks touting their GMO products, not so much.

RooMonster 4:21 PM  

Everyone calm down about the GMO stuff. Once AI becomes self aware we're all doomed. Science is scary, and scientists keep pushing the boundaries stupidly.
Two cents.


Mohair Sam 4:27 PM  

@Aketi - Great anecdote, the horrors of youth. But you'll note the RUBoN forces are gaining momentum. @Ashley Brickley has even given us a hashtag #teamRUBON - beat that.

I am just loving the logic some folks used to justify FoREPLUG. Maybe Boosler can use it in her routine - "You know those geniuses you see working the Times Crossword on the train every morning? Let me tell the truth you about them . . . . ."

@Z - Well said again.

Anonymous 5:05 PM  

@ Ralph Phillips 9:37 AM:
That must be it. Illinois born & raised, and HEMI-stunned so many people didn't know FIREPLUG. Also the golf/dogleg was too simple for NYT puz, so I never got stuck on FoRE! And I don't wanna know how some have a dog leg in their FoREplay!! Yikes!!

Loved the cluing for SPAY & OILY.


sanfranman59 5:14 PM  

I think this is a first. Rex calls a puzzle Challenging and my crossword solve times spreadsheet calls it a straight down the middle Medium for me (6:34 solve time, 6:33 avg Wednesday in 2017). Will wonders never cease?

Loren Muse Smith 6:00 PM  

I’ve been without power since Monday morning, and it’s just now come back on. Hideous doesn’t even begin to describe it. So I just checked the puzzle to see what I missed and was crushed to see that it was a Patrick Merrell – one of THE nicest guys not just in crossworld but in the galaxy.

Loved the idea of the theme and its execution. Loved it. Congrats, Ms. Boosler on your debut. You couldn’t have been teamed up with a nicer, more creative collaborator.

Okie dokie. Here’s looking forward to tomorrow’s offering… (@you-know-who! Hah!)

Joe Dipinto 6:09 PM  

Loved this puzzle. Great theme answers and fill, snappy clues all over the place. Given Ms. Boosler's profession, it seems a particular attempt was made to be witty, and it succeeded.

(More modern remakes...

John Wayne movie -- THE GOOGLERS

Cary Grant movie -- BITCOIN SERENADE

Orson Welles movie -- NETIZEN KANE)

GILL I. 6:17 PM  

@crabsofsteel. Hah! I actually love the literal translation but you still have your CRU wrong. Petes an all...!
By the way, je sui un femme... mieux que la bourgeois.

crabsofsteel 6:26 PM  



Do you believe everything you read on the Internet? Wiki has it wrong. Do you think that a wine labelled "Grand Cru" means "Big Vineyard"? I will double-check with my brother-in-law (un Bordelais) but I think I'm right on this.


Churlish Nabob 6:34 PM  

I bet @Nancy rowed CRU in college. Coxswain no doubt.

Questinia 6:43 PM  

Yasssss Rex.... rub on, but not until dab on.

GILL I. 6:54 PM  

@crabs. When your brother-in-law tells you you're wrong, will you admit it?

Anonymous 7:05 PM  

Boom. Stocks at record highs. You all focus on Donald Jr whilst I gaze at my stack.

Ta ta, damn Kremlin! 7:43 PM  

Anonymous 7:05

Trump will be forced to resign before the end of the year.To avoid jail for his family and impeachment for himself. Check the London oddsmakers, if you don't believe it. But just remember you heard it here first.

Anonymous 7:59 PM  

I know just enough about wine to be dangerous...after 6-7 week-long bicycle trips (shameless plug for Butterfield & Robinson) in France and many years of 'sampling.' ;-)). In the Burgundy region the appellation applies to the vineyard and subsequently, the wine produced from that vineyard. There may be more than one landowner/vineyard in the same small location, but they will all have the same name/appellation--e.g. "Gevrey-Chambertin Grand Cru". That appellation--regular (forgot the wine snob term), Premier Cru and Grand Cru in good/better/best order--derives from the terroir (soil & climate), the landowner/winemaker and the history of the grapes/wines produced. Thus, the designation/appellation most definitely applies to the vineyard.

BTW, "vintage" relates to the year the grapes were grown & harvested, so it has nothing to do with "Cru".

In Bordeaux it's much the same except they play around with the terminology. There "Grand Cru" means the regular/lowest quality wine/vineyard. They come up with "Premier Grand Cru" (A or B) for the better ones. There may be more, but my interest is predominantly in Pinot Noir/Burgundy.


JC66 8:05 PM  

Anonymous 7:05

Unfortunately, that's where the US is today. Too many (especially Republicans) would happily trade morals for money.

Anonymous 9:25 PM  

Actually, instructions for genetically modifying plants predates the bible.
History begins in Sumer. (Look it up, Cretin)
Also,pets bred for domesticity is a jumble of redundancy.
Other than that, you're spot on Z. GOOD FOR YOU!!!!

Anonymous 9:32 PM  

Did your son actually have a panic attack about shaving cream?
Thats sadder than your blather about ju jitsu. Good luck.
Hope he can buy a pair somewhere.

Anonymous 10:01 PM  

OMG! Had the same GD problem with RUBON and ended up with FOREPLUG and couldn't find the problem. Argh!

Anonymous 10:16 PM  

"Some dumb golf clue"?
Boy, you are a bit hard. Try some graciousness in front to of being's more dignified.

Elayne 10:31 PM  

Wow, awesome read here. Thanks for liking it, not liking it, finding it easy, finding it hard, and being delighted with the fun we tried to include in our clues. I am happy so many of you had a good time. The GMO/bible tangent was very educational, and I love all the passion on this page. Thanks for giving us your time today, it means a lot to see it come to life.

OISK 10:48 PM  

@Ta da damn Kremlin. (wish we could avoid politics in this blog) London oddsmakers give 9 to 4 AGAINST Trump being replaced this year. They do make it odds - on (4 to 7) that he fails to complete his entire first term. (check Ladbrokes).

Impeachment seems very unlikely, given the makeup of the House, before 2019.

As to the puzzle...I had my first DNF in about a month with Foreplug and Rub on. Otherwise, this was a good Wednesday puzzle. But sorry, that clue for "Rub In" is just not acceptable, when it applies MORE accurately to rub on. In fact, you must rub the lotion on BEFORE you can rub it in. Just bad. And even worse because there are so many ways to unambiguously clue RUBIN, ( Abbie Hoffman's friend Jerry. Or, "make worse, as embarrassment over an error". ) The clue for fireplug was clever, although I have seldom heard it called that in NY (Hydrant, johnny pump...) I don't care for "GMOPOPCORN" as part of the theme, either.

Two Ponies 10:48 PM  

@ Elayne, Thanks for the puzzle and glad you dropped by. This place is a real zoo at times but the animals are amusing.

Joe 10:55 PM  

Elayne, you are a joy. Keep up your good work with the boxers, and the fireplugs!

Teedmn 11:44 PM  

GMO at its best?

Peter N. 12:54 AM  

I had the EXACT same experience as Craig P.!! Missing the sole "D."

Peter N.

Joe Dipinto 3:39 AM  

@Elayne -- glad to see you checking in. Absolutely brilliant job on the puzzle! (must also congratulate P. Merrell, although he is an old hand at this). So, maybe we will see more puzzles from you in the future?

Anonymous 9:44 AM  

Definitely one of the worst Wednesday puzzles I've ever attempted to solve. Theme was utter trash, revealed was nonsense-- we've had GMO corn for centuries-- and the difficulty of the puzzle was not rewarding. Not sure why this was a pass for the editors.

crabsofsteel 4:00 PM  

@GILL I. said...
crabs. When your brother-in-law tells you you're wrong, will you admit it?

I would, but I'm not. I spoke to my brother-in-law in France, who confirmed that CRU means vintage rather than vineyard. For example, Bordeaux CRU 2011 was a good vintage. If you are going to use French in a crossword, please use it correctly.


Anonymous 4:59 PM  

Sorry crabs, I think you are wrong as well. Larousse as well as two other dictionaries on line definitely say that "cru" refers to a vineyard. Perhaps it is used different in the area where your brother-in-law lives. I lived for a year and a half in France and attended language school there. I was definitely taught that the word for vineyard is "cru" which is very specific and doesn't apply to other vineyards. In any case, you should at least acknowledge the authority of a French dictionary.

Wm. C. 8:37 AM  

@GillI --

French grammar --

How about Je suiS unE femme

LE Bourgeois


Tarheeled 3:19 AM  

Got the whole puzzle sans one single write over. Dnf, however, because of the 61/65 cross. I wanted to write Danno for some reason, but don't know what pda means. Still don't. After checking with this blog, the Danno dropped. Hawaii Five-O! Duh! Great puzzle. I'm 83, so Holiday Inn, Bank Dick, etc. were right up my alley. On the other hand, gmo, pad, Airbnb, had me hopping!

Edward Huff 10:37 PM  

I too had FORE.... If you ask me, GMO is Guh Mo (Get MOre) popcorn and something to eat... but popcorn _is_ something to eat. I may be biased because I had GETPOPCORN at first.

Also the GMO supermarket label is stupid because all breeding modifies genes, and because each new case of a lab inserted gene would need its own name and label. They will be totally different and each will have different risks. And don't eat tomato leaves, gmo or not.

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spacecraft 11:00 AM  

Forget any hotties that might appear in the grid: today's DOD has to be our co-constructor Elayne Boosler! The lady should join Will's editorial staff as a clue rewriter. Not only did these clues (okay, co-kudos to you too, @PM) add a layer of difficulty, but many of them simply SLAY me!

I don't quite understand OFL's DNF. If "FoREPLUG" doesn't mean anything but FIREPLUG does--and fits the clue--where's the problem? Now grant you, I needed to work that from below, but still...once PLUG was in place it seemed obvious.

This puzzle is everything a puzzle should be, including--in spades--entertaining. No fill dreck anywhere, amusing theme, medium-challenging for a Wednesday...this one gets the UBER-rare double-eagle, which term I much prefer to "albatross." Congrats, you two--and please do give us a "remake!"

Burma Shave 11:58 AM  


That UBERDRIVER YEARNS to TALK money with EVERY chick,
with AGITA he YAKS and earns HIS title – “THEPAYPALDICK”.


thefogman 12:28 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous 1:49 PM  

Really fun and rewarding puzzle to accomplish. More like this, please!

thefogman 2:17 PM  

I never thought of ELMO as being a monster. Tickle me ____ would have been more fair, although perhaps too easy. I had biAs before LEAN but aside from that, I had no major problem solving this one. What's remarkable is that I found it both enjoyable and I finished it unlike OFL - for only the second time ever!

Warning. Rant alert...

Speaking of monsters - Frankenfood (which is much scarier than ELMO) should be clearly labeled as being GMO. But it is not labeled because the producers know people will buy natural food instead of Frankenfood. And our governments would rather represent the interests of Big Agra than citizens who have become guinea pigs unknowingly consuming man-made genetic material which never existed before with perhaps irreversible and dire consequences for our species and the planet. But we must look at both sides of the argument, right? All is well so long as the almighty dollar prevails.

Anonymous 2:36 PM  

How do you count when you are not sure about the last word? For instance with Kebab and Loin it seemed right I checked if it was was Kebas or Loiu. Thought it could be AIRSUB instead of AIRBNB. Less likely,yes but one never knows.Had the same problem with one Saturday hint. FOREE or FORES. It was course FORES but had to make sure.


leftcoastTAM 2:48 PM  

A bit of ambivalence about this one. It's clever and challenging, but the theme's humor seems a bit strained, though I liked GMOPOPCORN. The non-themers OILY boid and FIREPLUG provided a chuckle, too.

NW, as is often the case, was the toughest. Had fLOPS before PLOPS, and CLAPS was elusive. Elsewhere, had ANGST before AGITA which then showed up below.

This is good, solid stuff and the cleverness makes up for any strain.

centralscrewtinizer 2:54 PM  

Had to smile when angora transmogrified into MOHAIR. @Mohair did not say if he smiled at his handle, having been to smitten with rubbing on.
Also stuck with FoRE, running with FoREPLex. Had reST for GUST and never correctly untangled that middle. Vaguely remember AGITA from puzzles. Must remember better.
Anyway, lots of fun even if I did go down in flames.
So did OFL dnf? He seems to have said so in fourteen ways without actually using the nice shortcut.

rondo 3:52 PM  

OHREALLY? Well, I put both the I and O in that square before it was the FIREPLUG spot because I knew it could go either way. Just made sure to pick the right one when the time came. Same could be said for the sEMI/HEMI dilemma. Advantage paper over devices.

Won a PONG game for your home TV in a raffle back in the “OILY” days when PONG first came out. Short-term fun.

Jethro TULL – Locomotive Breath – not exactly a LILT.

Nothing wrong with @spacey’s logic, but I’ll go with yeah baby Jessica ALBA, who has been kind of a BIG SHOT since the Dark Angel days back at the turn of the century. Insert SLOMO LOIN BODYSCAN TALK here.

Recognized the humor in some of the clues. Pretty nice puz. BYE BYE.

rain forest 4:03 PM  

Two thumbs way up for this one. Just a lot of fun all round. I won't list all the highlights - they've been mentioned multiple times above. I even learned where Chewbacca's costume came from...if that is true.

Unknown 11:45 AM  

A day late in sydie-land, but I couldn't resist popping in (GMO popping?) to say how much I loved this puzzle!

I got UBER DRIVER from just a couple of letters, and after that, the other themes were practically gimmes. So no trouble there, but still quite fun.

I must be the only person here who didn't have FoREPLUG (Really? "Foreplug"???). I knew you could either rub your lotion on or rub it in, so I just left that square blank. No earthly idea on PIMA, so I was left with F_RE_LUG. After a few moments of ruminating on that, the light bulb clicked on. Great clue among many great clues.

"Real" constructors should take note of how clean the fill was here. Not an EEL, EPEE, ENE, SSN, or random Roman numeral in sight. Which I'm sure was mostly Mr Merrel's doing - one of the best NYT contributors working today.

Outstanding effort. I enjoyed it start to finish. Bravo!

Learn more PureCloud Reseller 4:52 PM  

Very interesting post.

Inflow Comm Chicago Shoretel Provider 11:45 PM  

They're cool like that!

Wedding Packages Maui 11:16 PM  

I hope to see more of it.

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