It uses clicks in lieu of paddles / THU 7-6-17 / Sports category prefix / Unsuccessful draft picks in sports lingo

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Constructor: Erik Agard

Relative difficulty: Challenging (Easy, except for one little part, which was a Disaster)

THEME: Killing two BIRDS with one STONE (I think) —two Across themers contain the names of two BIRDS, and those answers are crossed by two other themers, each of which contains one STONE:

Theme answers:
  • MARTIN LAWRENCE (16A: Will Smith's co-star in 1995's "Bad Boys")
  • SONY XPERIA (5D: Line of Japanese smartphones)
  • STEPHEN HAWKING (55A: Physicist who won a 2009 Presidential Medal of Freedom)
  • BAMBOO PALM (27D: Tropical houseplant) 
Word of the Day: BAMBOO PALM (27D: Tropical houseplant) —
Chamaedorea (from Ancient Greek χαμαί (chamai), meaning 'on the ground', and δωρεά (dorea), meaning 'gift', in reference to easily reached fruits, or the plants' low-growing nature) is a genus of 107 species of palms, native to subtropical and tropical regions of the Americas. They are small palms, growing to 0.3–6 m (1 ft 0 in–19 ft 8 in) tall with slender, cane-like stems, growing in the understory in rainforests, and often spreading by means of underground runners, forming clonal colonies. The leaves are pinnate (rarely entire), with one to numerous leaflets. The flowers are produced in inflorescences; they are dioecious, with male and female flowers on separate plants. The fruit is an orange or red drupe 0.5–2 cm diameter. Perhaps the best-known species is Chamaedorea elegans (neanthe bella palm or parlour palm) from Mexico and Guatemala. It is popular as a houseplant, particularly in Victorian houses. Another well-known species is Chamaedorea seifrizii, the bamboo palm or reed palm. (wikipedia)
• • •

I don't know why you're throwing gemstones at chickens, but ... knock yourself out, I guess.

Well this one had so much promise, but ended up being a disaster. A disaster in that I failed to finish it correctly (first time that's happened in years) and a disaster in that I think it's poorly constructed, despite some obvious merits. Let's start with the primary problem, which is that the phrasing on the revealers makes no sense. None. Zero. I only know one expression involving two birds and one stone, and that's the concept of "killing two birds with one stone." When I got to BIRDS, at first, I thought for sure the expression in question was going to be "a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush." But then there was the STONE part, and I was like "Oh ... OK." But back to the phrasing on BIRDS and STONE. [There are two, as the expression goes ...]. What? The expression is not "There are two BIRDS ..." The existence of the birds has nothing to do with the expression. Same with [There's one, as the expression goes ...]. That Is Not How 'The Expression Goes." It doesn't go ... that way. If you let the revealer clues tell it, the expression is "There are two BIRDS and also there is a STONE." What fresh hell? So (ARGH and SIGH) here's this amazing concept of a STONE going right through (Bam!) each of the two-bird answers. But the revealer phrasing utterly tramples on the "expression." Stunning that the most important clue(s) got so badly botched.

Then there's the problem that is primarily mine, but also (if Twitter is any indication) not entirely mine, which is the perfect *&^%storm of tough & trick & brand name cluing in the dead center of the grid. I've never heard of the SONY XPERIA. Never. Not once. Everything below SONY, I got from crosses, and at the very end, everything south of the X was suspect. This is because I (like many) plunked RIB down for 31D: Chest protector (BIB). Had I not fallen in the trap, I would've guessed EBAY at 30A: It uses clicks in lieu of paddles and boom, done. If EBAY had been clued in a way that computed At All, I might've adjusted, noticed the RIB/BIB mix-up, and boom, done. But as it was, I was so fixated on XPERIA and how I had no faith in any of it, and I was so completely baffled by where clicks and paddles could be equivalent, that there was no hope. Or, rather, I didn't wait for hope. After I ran the alphabet where I wanted the "E" in XPERIA to go (where, in fact, it did go), and nothing came of it, I just gave up. More patience might've brought the RIB/BIB thing to my attention, but at that point I didn't care. XPERIA really ruined it for me. If you didn't fall in the RIB/BIB trap, or if you knew XPERIA, or if the EBAY clue was somehow transparent to you, then you probably won't appreciate any of this. But the idea that a brand name (ugh, niche proper nouns—you have to be careful) abutted a deliberate trap, and both ran through a Saturday+ clue for EBAY!? Yeah, I was done. Not done in a fun way like "Oh, man, ya got me. Nice one." But done like "Well, that was dickish. Goodbye."

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

P.S. RUM RAISIN is not now and has never been "popular" (1D: Popular ice cream flavor)

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Geometricus 12:28 AM  

Same exact experience solving, except I stuck with it and got rIB changed to BIB to finish in a time about 40% less than my Thursday average. Didn't mind that the birds and stone didn't really make sense (Rex is right about that, but he's the critic and I'm not). Did the whole thing on a shurttle bus to and from fireworks at Music in Plymouth (MN), which were spectacular. Ate a Coldstone cookie cake batter ice cream sandwich while watching, thankful they didn't serve RUM RAISIN.

mathgent 12:31 AM  

Happy to see that Rex didn't know SONYXPERIA either. I knew that it started SONY but I had to Google Sony phones to get it. So, DNF.

But I also didn't spot the stones. ONYX and OPAL. Dumb.

Very neat gimmick. The stones "killing" the lines containing the birds. Had I been sharper tonight, seeing that would have given me a big aha moment.

Even though I whiffed on the gimmick, I liked it a lot. Very clean and lots of sparkle.

Pete 12:33 AM  

Yeah, disaster all around. I'm a big boy, so a bib only protects my shirt from butter when I'm eating lobster, and I never eat lobster without a shirt. I eventually got EBAY as at least that's a thing whereas ErAY is not, though I still don't understand the clue for eBay. Also HEN doesn't go with WREN, MARTIN or HAWK. WRENs and HAWKs form a family of birds, MARTINs need to be joined with swallos to form a family, and HENS are just female birds.

Pete 12:39 AM  

Ok, now I get it - in fancy schmancy auction houses you use paddles to make a bid. However, that's not how eBay works, so the analogy fails. Also, any auction I ever went to they gave you a scrap of paper with your number scrawled on it with a crayon. Ok, I got no class - in fact I do eat lobster without a shirt.

puzzlehoarder 12:40 AM  

I was worried I'd be the only one to fall into that RIB/BIB write over and I'd be too embarrassed to admit how long it took me to spot my mistake. In light of our hosts' rant I can now honestly say that it took me 16 minutes. If there were a twelve step program to solving learning to spot your mistake in situations like this would be the final step. When I finally gave up on making _RAY work I thought what can I change to make this work? Up popped BIB and EBAY and as our host would say "boom done". This makes up for having to write BAE again.

David G. 12:46 AM  

Same exact frustration for me, except I stared at ERAY for a couple of minutes, trying to figure out what it is, thinking clicks and paddles had something to do with a game controller, when suddenly, had an AHA moment and realized a BIB could be a chest protector, and EBAY was an auction where paddles were once used. It felt painful, not pleasant. I never even went back to find the birds or stones until I read Rex's review.

Had Boo for BAE until crosses sorted it out. What the heck is BAE?

OK concept, nice construction, but cruel, cruel cluing for a Wednesday.

Are we going to have to know every model of smartphone out there now?

Anonymous 12:56 AM  

I may be popular, but I'm not rum raisin popular.

jae 12:58 AM  

Below is what I wrote after finishing the puzzle successfully but before reading @Rex.

"Tough one for me. Mostly because I had rib before BIB and the clue for EBAY was tricky enough that it took me a while to see the error. Also, the smart phone was sort of a WOE. I mean, I kinda knew it once it was filled in but many crosses were needed and rIB was not helping.

Cute and clever with some fine long downs, liked it."

To the above I will add that I agree that the 2 BIRDS with 1 STONE theme has some problems.

@Deej - BAE - Before Anyone Else - We've seen it and discussed it recently.

Mr. Fitch 1:08 AM  

As Rex says, the cluing for the themers is comically bad. By the themer logic, the expression would be, "There are two birds and one stone." I have another problem with the theme answers, though, in that they don't perfectly encapsulate the expression. This could be cool if you had one stone (an actual stone, like granite) cutting through two bird answers going the opposite direction. As it is, we have the stones crossing long answers with two birds, but they don't cross ("kill") both of those birds. I think this concept would be acceptable if the stone answers crossed NO bird-related letters in the two-bird answers. But because they actually DO cross one of the bird answers, you're arguably killing just one bird with one stone.

Another reason the puzzle doesn't encapsulate the expression is that there are actually four birds being "killed" with two stones, not two with one.

I fell into the RIB trap too, but luckily had vaguely heard of the Sony phone and sussed out EBAY pretty quickly, but I can sympathize with others' frustration.

David G. 1:10 AM  

Thanks, @jae. I somehow missed that one.

vivian 1:20 AM  

Yay, I got a Thursday puzzle without having to look anything up. That doesn't usually happen.

Laura 1:34 AM  

Rum raisin is everyone's least favorite flavor. Do they even make it anymore?

Ando 1:45 AM  

I'm all happy right now I did a sub-17-minute Thursday (well below my average) on a puzzle that got Rex all pissed off.

Rum Raisin is awful. It was popular with my grandparents, and even they would leave it to gather ice in the freezer. Clue must have been some sort of joke.

Abfab Carla Mine! 1:45 AM  

Just to shake things up, I got EBAY, but didn't know PiBB and put in PuBB thinking at least it's related to a drink!

Traps abounding, including confidently putting in Raspberry, etds, Boo...

Oddly NEO was my hero! I've never seen the Matrix, but I remember my friend Hannah considering Neo for her baby's name bec 14 years ago she needed a name that started with N!
I thought NEO would be cool, but Nate has to settle for Nate the Great needling.

I love Erik to death...but my only criticism is the non-necessity to have to have ESP, RIM, BUSTS, PARA have sports clues.

I got ---------RENCE early and then LAWRENCE and tried to fit in Jennifer! I wonder if she and Martin are related?

Not sure what a POLEDANCE is, is that like a Maypole? A limbo how low can you go dance?

I've not heard of BIPODS but I liked the Bounciness of all the Bs...

UNTAG felt very very uptodate in my little world, and I got OSLO from watching the Tony's only weeks ago! Yet, he threw us oldies a bone (BONA?) with VCRS!

I may have told this story, but when my mom finally did one of my puzzles (together over the phone), she had G-AT and the clue was "Flying pest."

Mom: GOAT?

me: Mom, FLYING pest.

Mom: Oh! GNAT.

me: Yes, GNAT.


Mom: Yeah, I guess GOATS don't really fly.

TomAz 1:50 AM  

I got BIB instead of rIB right away, and reading these comments, I think that was sheer luck. BIB is simply what popped into my head, which made EBAY come.

Never heard of a SONYXPERIA either. $%&# that @*$!. Obscure proper nouns are the worst thing a puzzle can have. Worse than overused glue, worse than dumb partials, worse than BAE.

But the "theme" -- it made no sense at all. I got STONE and BIRDS from the crosses and even then couldn't make sense of it.

And yes RUMRAISIN is some dreadful dreck. I mean it's fine as a crossword entry goes, but it is popular only in the sense that everyone hates it.

Unknown 1:52 AM  

Had the same issue to finish, but luckily I was questioning how a RIB could protect the chest, since I personally define the chest as above the ribsand below the neck, and finally the eBay clue clicked for me. I also thought this was very disappointing for a thursday. Stupid theme, not very much of it, and theme a theme-specific answer being so terrible. I still don't think I completely understand it.

Anonymous 1:54 AM  

There's the same number of these in both 16A and 55A as in a certain expression. As in the expression, there's one of these in both 5D and 25D. Is that better?

In the early days of faux-Nordic Häagen-Dazs, when I first learned to eat ice cream by the pint, I'd venture that Rum Raisin was indeed popular.

Unknown 1:55 AM  

Also, I must have missed the BAE discussion, but honestly, that's what the kids are saying these days. Had a student ask me about my "bae" a few years ago even, I felt dumb for not knowing it even then.

Anonymous 2:12 AM  

I thought Bae was short for Babe, as Hon is short for Honey.

chefwen 2:21 AM  

I guess I'm in the minority, I actually like Rum Raisin. Not on the top of my list, but I do occasionally order it.

I just left my rIB and ErAY in thinking that eray is just some new computer thingy that I have yet to learn. There's a lot of that going around.


Marty Van B 2:24 AM  

I don't think I'd want to be friends with anyone who said their favorite ice cream flavor was rum raisin. That's the kind of person who probably also digs into the strawberry end of a tub of Neapolitan and I just can't identify with that. Are these the same people who own Sony smartphones? I guess we'll have to leave that question unanswered for sociologists and other academics to ponder and puzzle over.

andrea carla michaels 2:29 AM  

omg I just realized what a pole dance is! Weird that I blocked out my ten years as a stripper! As BAE West once said, I'm (s)now angel.

Anonymous 2:46 AM  

RUMRAISIN? Never heard of it. Got it from crosses and thought, "popular? Sounds disgusting."

Fell into the same trap in the center, even after pulling XPERIA out of the back of my brain (although I did Google it to double check since I still didn't trust it, especially after coming up with ErAY). Looked at the crosses on ErAY and decided, "I don't care" and just revealed the answer because at that point, I just couldn't be bothered anymore.

jae 2:58 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous 3:07 AM  

Don't get ATOM? Only thing I can think of is it is part of the word "A Two Volume" SIGH

jae 3:08 AM  

@Deej & Music Man - It was the April 3 puzzle blogged by Annabel. If you skip Mon. you would not have seen it.

@Anon 2:12 - BAE as short for Babe is an alternative definition. I'm just not sure what is gained by skipping a B. My 18 year old granddaughter went with Before Anyone Else when I asked her about it back in April.

chefwen 3:36 AM  

@Anon 3:07 A TO M. Second book would be N to Z.

Spacing helps 3:37 AM  

@Anon 3:07 - Think A to M as in the alphabet. First book A to M, second book N to Z.

Thomaso808 4:12 AM  

The theme clues don't claim to somehow encapsulate the expression, but instead just match the numbers, so I think the theme works. Not the most clever or entertaining theme perhaps, but it still works. I think it's pretty impressive to find two theme entries each with two birds and two each with one stone and put them all in a grid. Interesting that the STONE entries each span the two words but the BIRDS are each contained within the separate first and last names.

A lot of O-enders here. OSLO, EURO, NEO, RUNTO (I'm predicting a @M&A fave), BISTRO, PRO, INTRO, KAHLO (a WOE).

I also had rIB before BIB, but pretty quickly saw that ErAY needed to be EBAY. Good to see that Rex is human after all. BIB really is a more correct answer, so kudos to the constructor / editor.

I really look forward to some Thurs trickery, so even a cleverly clued themer is a bit of a disappointment. Maybe the NYT should bump up the pay scale for a BONA fide rebus or trick puzzle. Sorry, I know some folks really hate rebuses, but can we have just one day per week?

CLB 4:16 AM  

DNF for me too. Had RIB for BIB, didn't know XPERIA, was also hampered by the fact that I wasn't at all confident in BOY for "Whew!" (still doesn't *at all* compute to me), all meant I couldn't get EBAY from the hard clue. I actually stuck in the E in XPERIA to finish, but still had the R in RIB so should have seen it then, but had already given up.

Thomaso808 4:20 AM  

@chefwen if it was a Hawaii directory the first volume would be ATOK. A lot of K's here!

evil doug 4:51 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
evil doug 4:54 AM  

ARGH for Michael! A day that will live in infamy! My favorite thing now is to watch the angst-filled debates over the legitimacy of the birds/stone relationship....

Gotta hand it to ACME--good posts today.

I think SONY XPERIA was a character in Star Trek...or maybe a rapper?

[Hanke--James Spader--is going through the Twelve Steps, and working at Baskin Robbins. George doesn't think he got a satisfactory apology from Hanke, who had been loathe to offer fat-headed George use of a nice sweater....]

George: "I would like an apology."
Hanke: "All right, look, you know--"
Kid #2, [entering the store]: "Did you try it?"
Kid: "No, this guy doesn't know what he's doing."
Hanke: "Oh, yes I do. Yes, I do. OK? I'm interacting with someone here, if
you can understand that. Now, I'm sorry."
George: "Baah! There it is! You just said it! That's what I want! Now say it
again, and tell it to me."
Hanke: "I'm not saying anything to you. I'm not sorry. I was never sorry. It
was cashmere. I hate Step Nine! Where's that RUM RAISIN? Where is it? Can't
find anything. I need a drink. Ah, daquiri ice. Here we go. What are you
looking at? Get out! Come on, can't you see we're closed?! Get out!"

Anonymous 5:02 AM  

I wouldn't say BIB is any more correct than rIB just because a BIB goes outside the chest. After all, a bus driver isn't outside the bus, and a pocket protector isn't outside the pocket. The purpose of the rib is to protect the chest, even if it is inside the chest.

Z 5:24 AM  

I'm pretty sure hell has frozen over.

Finished the puzzle (after a DNF you know where) and had no idea what the theme meant. The PALM of BAMBOO certainly suggested some sort of hand job going on, but SONY XPERIA was opaque. DNF on a second level. I have to agree with Rex, though, no "Oh, I get it - you got me" feeling. Just a profound WTF. I've done lots of Agard's puzzles. This is the RUM RAISIN of his puzzles.

Trombone Tom 5:51 AM  

DNF here; the Sony phone did me in. I did pop BIB in as a first reflex.

Impressed by the devious clues for EBAY and SORT.

Like a couple of you I like rum-raisin -- once in a while. Can't see it as "popular" by any stretch.

Other than the DNF (sigh) I enjoyed it.

Cassieopia 6:04 AM  

Rex's critique nailed it exactly.

QuasiMojo 6:18 AM  

What a weird puzzle. One would have to be STONEd to understand it, I think. Or to compose it. Isn't it KAYAK that depends on clicks rather than paddles? eBay isn't about clicks. It's about auctions and views. Or was until Meg Whitman ruined it.

I filled in all the correct answers today but without any joy or sense of fulfillment. I guess I'll have to do the WSJ one now to get my fix.

Anonymous 6:18 AM  

@Geometricus: 40% less? Change your username.

QuasiMojo 6:24 AM  

P.S. -- oh, okay, now I get it. "paddles" as in those things people used to hold up at live auctions. Well, that is pushing it. ARGH!

BTW, did anyone else put in Rocky Road first?

Loren Muse Smith 6:28 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Loren Muse Smith 6:30 AM  

Well heck. I was doomed early on when my go-to proverb was a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. Magnificent disregard for the symmetrical BIRDS and STONE. Dumb. I went “rib” but figured out BIB/EBAY pretty easily. I read the comments twice and didn’t see anyone who had the same wrong-thinking that delivered me up my technical dnf (I finished but didn’t get it). What threw me was that PALM was part of the “one thing” deal; I completely missed the OPAL there. (Hi, @Z – maybe you were thinking the same way?) So I was going two birds and one hand. Sheesh. Yeah, even though OPAL and ONYX were right there under my nose, I was looking for some kind of word for hand in SONYXPERIA. Decided that it was some Latinsome fancy word for hand hidden there somewhere.

So my flame-out was especially spectacular.

Some huge positives here:

*what a terrific find that ONYX bridges SONYXTERIA, the obscurity notwithstanding.

*RUM RAISIN was very easy for me to get/understand, but I would’ve like it clued as a sauce instead. I used to order it on some dessert – can’t remember what – but it was roll-your-eyes-back-in-your-head-and-shiver delightful.

*RUM RAISIN is right next to SPARE TIRE. Well, ye-ah. No fab ab there, buddy.

*And speaking of bonus downs, SNOW ANGEL right next to POLE DANCE. Now there’s a funny juxtaposition. Could be the name of a dance troupe. Ladies and Gentlemen, I bring you The Pole-Dancing Snow Angels, starring Andrea Carla Michaels! (Acme – I laughed at your comment that you used to be a stripper.)

*BEEF PATTY and ADOPT A PET (this is where my mother-in-law adopted Rat Poison Tucker. It’s worth a watch if you didn’t click on it when I shared it last time.) The four long downs are great.

Anyone who knows Erik knows that he’s a mensch. Here’s my EA story I’ll tell again because I’m afraid he’s gonna take a bit of a beating today here. When I was teaching in the prison, my students were obsessed with crosswords. With Will’s blessing, I took in puzzles every week, and if there was time, we did one at the end of class. On one such night, Jamel, pushed back and slammed his pen down. I want a rap puzzle. He could be testy. Tattoos up the wazoo, menacing grill on his teeth, swagger… So I went on the FB group Puzzle People and asked if someone could direct me to a rap-themed puzzle. Erik Agard constructed one specifically for my class – the clues were the birth names of the stage names of star rappers. So EMINEM was clued “Marshal Mathers.” It. Was. Loaded. With. Rappers. THE NOTORIOUS B.I.G. spanned the middle. The students were beyond thrilled. Shouted out answers, whooped, attacked it. On the way out, another student, Justin, stopped and looked at me for a minute. Finally said This was a very nice thing your friend did for us. They went on to commission an NBA and an MLB puzzle, and Erik constructed both for these inmate students.

I liked the theme idea, loved the bonus downs, liked BUSTS, POLE DANCE, GAPE, liked the piratespeak ARRS and ARGH. I just went down the wrong proverb rabbit hole and never recovered.

Anonymous 6:34 AM  

I never thought rum raisin ice cream was at all remarkable, until i tried it as part of a rum cake dessert at a local restaurant....boozy rum cake and rum raisin ice cream, little daub of caramel sauce and toasted pecans. Divine, unfortunately the landlord raised the rent and the restaurant closed.

Xperia and pibb stumped me, but somehow I got that clicks/paddles was about online bidding. Maybe because I just ordered paddles for our charity auction.

Jeff Anderson 6:36 AM  

I love puzzles by Erik Agard and I think my familiarity with them helped me out today. I got caught on RIB as well, but not forever. And I have heard of the XPERIA.

Lewis 6:36 AM  

I greatly liked the answers SPARETIRE, OSLO (as clued), SNOWANGEL, and RUMRAISIN, and I loved the clever cluing for EURO, ATOM, SNOWANGEL, TPS, and the wonderfully devious clue for EBAY.

When I saw the constructor's name, I got excited, though I didn't know why. I just knew it was going to be something creatively different, and it had to be my subconscious remembering his other puzzles. This one didn't disappoint, and next time Erik's puzzle shows up I'll be just as excited and remember why.

Anonymous 6:48 AM  

All of the above plus C(K)ORN is a grain, not a vegetable.

King Harvest 7:00 AM  

So, corn is actually a vegetable, a whole grain, and a fruit.

Anonymous 7:17 AM  

BAE is short for "babe" The acronym came later. There is a word for this I can't think of. It also applies to Arby's (America's Roast Beef, Yes Sir).

Andrea 7:24 AM  

"Popular ice cream flavor" for RUMRAISIN has got to be the most inadequate clue of all times.
And I also fell into the RIB/BIB trap. Had to come here to figure that out and had to google the Sony smartphone. ARGH!!

CFXK 7:35 AM  

@Anonymous (7:17 AM): Backronym

Glimmerglass 7:41 AM  

I tip my cap to the constructor. I stuck with rIB, when BIB would probably have given me EBAY. No complaints -- ya got me. I agree that the revealer is ridiculously phrased and caused me the same confusion as @Red and @LMS. However, I had no trouble finding four birds and two stones. RUM RAISIN was a gimme for me (got it off RU. . . .). It's the flavor I settle for when the icecream specialty store doesn't carry frozen puddng. (You almost never find frozen pudding anymore. It melts quickly -- maybe it actually contains alcohol? -- and is hard to keep firm in the glass case.)

Irene 7:42 AM  

I didn't finish, to my shame, and one of the things that stumped me was PIBB. It was as much a blank as the XPERIA. Anyone else?

Johnny 7:52 AM  

I thought this puzzle was GREAT. Everything interlocked yet it was a house to house fight, street by street, to get through all four sectors and end up in a climax in the dead center, as it appears so many others did, for I could see their bodies littering the ground around me.

And that is a beautiful center. The SONY(something) vs the (something)PALM and those four beautiful shorts in there. All empty and what the hell? And BIB is the key, the lynchpin: go wrong here and the tiger comes out and eats you, or maybe just maims you horribly and gets bored and walks away.

This was old-school in the best sense of the word. This puzzle was a fine cigar with good scotch. This puzzle was solid. Dark oak and black leather. Every answer was gettable but nothing was free. Gets some traction and then work, baby, work, and then you realize you are at the summit and what do you do now?

You put in BIB is what you do and suddenly EBAY is staring you in the face and the rest falls in just .. like . . so.


Elle54 7:53 AM  

Rib/bib Like Rex, I gave up cuz I didn't care. I've never had Rum Raisin, just assumed I wouldn't like it. Are the raisins super hard and frozen?

Unknown 8:04 AM  

The word you're looking for is "backronym," a false acronym created after the fact.

r.alphbunker 8:05 AM  

Had the same RIB/BIB confusion as lots of people but also had 42A. {Sports category prefix} PARI-->PARA (as in PARImutuel betting, horse racing is a sport isn't it?). But EXPERIA sounded familiar and I was able to clean up that area. The letter I sweated the most was the B of 22A {Hon, modern-style} BAE/19D {Classic Britcom} ABFAB.

Details are here.

Hungry Mother 8:09 AM  

BAE/ABFAB Natick did me in. DNF, but my second guess was correct.

chefbea 8:09 AM  

54 comments already!!! will read them later. Two tough for me!!!

Two Ponies 8:10 AM  

I suppose if you are going to run a puzzle on a Thursday that has so few interesting words in it then there is no choice but to make the clues as obscure as possible.
If that was the goal then this was a success.

Anonymous 8:13 AM  

Great speech by POTUS in Poland this morning. Crushed it.

HairyNosedWombat 8:17 AM  

Easiest Thursday in ages for me. I guess I was lucky to get EBAY first.

Gorelick 8:27 AM  

Rum Raisin is my favorite. The clue obviously was referring to me and my preferences.

Moly Shu 8:29 AM  

@KingHarvest, any chance of a reunion tour? It would certainly be a supernatural delight.

Tita 8:30 AM  

@Fitch, Pete, ACME, lms...wonderful!
@Erik Agard...@lms's story makes me love the puzzle more, even though I agree about the awkwardness.

I dnfd at that rIB too. But I love RUMRAISIN.'s probably been 20 years since I would regularly buy it, but only because Donatello and Cardiac Arrest oh and Lemon Ginger and Bordeaux Cherry are just so too good at my local ice cream magician's place. (I'll Bacio in Danbury).

We make SNOWANGELS when sitting in the hot tub and needing that cool-down. Oh man, is that unpleasant... who was it that said those extremes are good for us?

Oh...I found MARTIN and HAWK and that added up to 2 so I stopped. Made the clueing even awkwarder. Only thought of the bush expression, so a DNF at the rIB thing and due to not getting the theme.

Two Ponies 8:30 AM  

@ ACM, I'm still trying to envision you as a stripper. Not just a summer job in college but for ten years!?

Having met Andrea in person it is difficult to picture.
Every stripper I've ever seen looked bored and "too cool to smile" so it's hard to imagine ACM without a more friendly expression.

You can't drop a bomb like that without more info. So what's the story?

BarbieBarbie 8:34 AM  

OK, I have read all the comments, and it looks like I was the only one in the universe to fling down BRA for BIB. Oops. But at least I'm not mixing up chest with clavicle.

Liked the EBAY clue. RUMRAISIN, eeewww. @Evil, a tip of the hat for retrieving a Seinfeld scene for any reference!

The ATOM clue was laugh-out-loud looking-backwards genius. First I got the intent of the clue, but didn't know where to end the volume, so left it for the cross. Then I saw it was the world's most I'm-avoiding-that-trite-clue, back-handspring of a clue for ATOM. So great.

Didn't feel like a Thursday, for some reason. Maybe the non-aha nature of the themer clues. The fill was great, so I have no complaints. I agree with most of Rex's observations, but without the flying spittle.

@LMS, what a great story. How lucky for those guys that you knew Erik.

Lobster11 8:36 AM  

I hated this from the very beginning, when my first four entries were RSVP, UPCS, VCRS, and ARRS -- at which point I started wondering whether there would be any actual words in the puzzle. The theme/trick/whatever was going to have to be something really great to win me over after that. It wasn't.

Rodger 8:44 AM  

I wanted X-RAY sted EBAY and RIB sted BIB really badly, which made me SIGH. HOW could that be?

Birchbark 8:50 AM  

It turns out that RUM RAISIN isn't so popular, given that all the popular kids are laughing at it. But now that a few strong souls have come to its defense, I too will stand on my desk and quietly support it. It was my dad's favorite flavor, so a good vibe on seeing it here.

I liked this puzzle but did not fall into the RIB trap. That made the EBAY clue challenging but fair, with a mild "aha" when solved. Finished a little better than average Thursday time.

RooMonster 9:04 AM  

Hey All !
Mr. PIBB is yummy! And getting harder to find. I think they came out with PIBB Xtra just to stay current and not get lost in the wake of the Big Two (and not talking about the two BIRDS).

And who the heck knew MARTIN is a bird? Apparently all y'all, as no one has complained about it. I was searching that first themer for the other bird. I found WREN, saw INLAW in there, thinking that was it, twistily?

Had rIB, but EBAY easily inferable, sorry Rex. :-) Saw that BIB was just as acceptable as an answer.

3D, Betamaxes weren't technically VCRS, were they? Weren't they marketed as separate things? Or is the ole brain not working correctly again? SIGH.

Off topic, sometimes these posts are difficult to compose with the damn autocorrect. I got a new phone a few months back, has the autocorrect, which is batty once in a while. My old phone didn't have it. It was actually easier to type with! First time I put in RooMonster, it corrected to something like Room on aster. Har.


Blue Stater 9:08 AM  

A typical WS-era puzzle, alas. Too clever by half. Or, really, too clever by 999/1000ths. Gimmicky, marginal cluing, the lot, as Rex points out far more fully than I could. We and the NYT deserve better.

Hartley70 9:12 AM  

@Acme 2:29am, I'm not sure if that makes you a Patsy or Edina, but I'm going with Edina, darling. Yes, darling. Yes, I am.

turkeyneck 9:12 AM  

Agree re: rum raisin. But Rex seems to find a skate many of the puzzles I find confounding. I thought eBay was as transparent as you could get although as oblique a clue as you could muster. The crosses are what let Xperia reveal itself. More obscurity so I sympathisize. "Rib" never occurred to me probably the hidden blessing in the end.
Keep the faith and thanks!

Anonymous 9:22 AM  

Well, someone must stand up to all the rum raisin haters out there. One website says that rum raisin is popular in Latin American and the Caribbean but not really in the US. I must have some Latin blood in me as I LOVE rum raisin ice cream. In response to comments above, I don't attack the strawberry first when eating Neapolitan and I use LG cell phones, so I hope that will keep me keeping me from being ostracized by others who don't like rum raisin ice cream. I do notice that one list shows that Americans like chocolate and vanilla as their favorite flavors followed by cookies and cream or strawberry. Chocolate varieties seem to be quite up there along with butter pecan and pralines and cream. If rum raisin is so bothersome, I won't bother talking about eggnog or kale (which can be a little chewy) varieties of ice cream. I liked the trickery in the puzzle and liked the puzzle as a whole. I think it came close enough to the theme and like all others who have written in "rib" for chest protector the last 20 years, I followed suit. So I thought it was a good misdirection. I don't know about the xperia either but have probably seen that name somewhere. I don't really think ebay is impossible to figure out and would not consider it a natick even if it did trip up OFL. I give a thumbs up to the puzzle!

Alexander 9:24 AM  

You're not alone! I also threw in BRA to begin with, even though it didn't really fit the clue.

That made ARM seemed like a plausible answer to 36A (thinking trophy cups). But it did make EBAY slightly easier to get

CFXK 9:30 AM  

At RooMonster (9:04 am). VCR = Video Cassette Recorder and is a generic term for any video recording device. When VCRs were mass marketed commercially, there were two technologies competing for dominance: JVC's VHS and Sony's Betamax (along with several others that quickly fell by the wayside). Though Betamax was generally agreed to be the superior technology, VHS won the battle, primarily because: it had a longer record time; and JVC licensed its technology to other manufactures, while Sony did not.

Nancy 9:36 AM  

Let's start with 1A, which I found the most baffling -- and, when I realized the answer, unfair -- clue in the puzzle. Because it really depends on who is saying "Yeah, I can make it" and also what's being referred to. If Trump says it about making it to the top of the Most Beloved Presidents of All Time list, then it's a BRAG. If the person going into the OR for sextuptle bypass surgery says it, then it's HOPE. As far as it being an appropriate RSVP, well it's not at all the grudging and ungracious remark that I would make. What I would say is: "Thank you so much for inviting me. I'd love to come." But that's just me.

I found this puzzle to be a rather unenjoyable combination of hard and boring. There was a lot of short, ugly fill. And of course I have no idea what that one letter is where 5D and 30A cross. Nor do I care.

Anonymous 9:36 AM  

As I see it, the problem is that each stone "kills" only one bird. If there were four down clues, two each with OPAL and ONYX, and the additional two crossed HEN and WREN, then OK. Or at least better. There would then be two sets of two birds killed by two stones, though for each set the two stones would be of the same type. Maybe better to have the birds in four acrosses, so each stone could in fact kill two. And then if only the saying were "Cross two birds with one stone."

Anonymous 9:37 AM  

Since I've been looking for a new phone lately, I knew SONY XPERIA. It still didn't save me from falling into the rIB/ErAY trap, since I just assumed that ERAY was a kind of medical machine that used sonar instead of paddles. I ran the alphabet and fixed it, but...

The cluing on the theme answers was indeed a mess. I'm not sure why whoever wrote them made them so complicated. "There's one/two of them in the expression, and in # clue" would have been clearer. I also wanted kill to be in there somewhere.

Overall, though, I quite liked it? The gimmick was clever, it had some fresher-feeling answers, and I liked some of the non-themer cluing.

Anonymous 9:38 AM  

As I see it, the problem is that each stone "kills" only one bird. If there were four down clues, two each with OPAL and ONYX, and the additional two crossed HEN and WREN, then OK. Or at least better. There would then be two sets of two birds killed by two stones, though for each set the two stones would be of the same type. Maybe better to have the birds in four acrosses, so each stone could in fact kill two. And then if only the saying were "Cross two birds with one stone."

Sir Hillary 9:41 AM  

Wow, 9:40am and already 80 comments. Guess people are back from their holiday breaks.

Of the 80 thus far, @Z encapsulates my thinking best with (I'm paraphrasing) "this is the RUMRAISIN of Agard's puzzles". I love me an EA puzzle, but this one fell a little flat. Perhaps I now unfairly demand of him, as I do of PB1, that he be positively brilliant every single time.

-- I am one of the rIB crowd. Stared forever at ErAY before figuring it out and finishing the puzzle with the B.
-- Reading the downs in this puzzle, RUMRAISIN leads to SPARETIRE. In real life, too.
-- The original ABFAB run in the '90s was some of the funniest television I have ever seen.
-- I saw OSLO earlier this year. It's wonderful -- a combination drama/history lesson.
-- @Acme -- you missed PRO as unnecessarily sports-clued. Not that I mind; big sports guy here.
-- I hated the ATOM clue. It's one thing to clue the same word cleverly. It's another thing entirely to clue a legitimate word such that it must be awkwardly parsed into something else. Too cutesy by miles. Worst thing about the puzzle (yes, I know I am overreacting).

Hartley70 9:52 AM  

This was a bon bon with a chewy center. Before I start moaning, I'd like to say I enjoyed this puzzle and the fill was interesting and nicely tricky. RUMRAISIN gave me a laugh. That clue must have been tongue in cheek. I don't think I've seen that flavor for 40 years but I sure remember the taste. (shudder!)

@Barbie redux, I too had bra before BIB, but I saw the error.

My stumbling point was PIBB. I've never seen the stuff. I assume it's a last name, so where's the apostrophe S? It would have helped if I knew the ending of XPER--. That led to the PARA/PARi conflict. Is horse racing a true sport? So I eventually went with PARA as in gliding. Hi, @ralph.

This didn't really feel like a Thursday. I see the thematic issues. Birds and stones didn't quite hang together, wrong kind of stones, (I'm thinking a piece of gravel or hunk of granite)and only one bird in a pair being hit by the stone. The implied killing part wasn't much fun either. I'm a bird lover.

Mohair Sam 9:55 AM  

We dnf'd for the exact reasons as the 9th greatest solver in the universe, how can we feel bad about that?

First of all - tip of the hat and big bow to Eric Agard for the puzzles he constructed for the inmates. Thanks for sharing the story @LMS. Learned that he's a good guy, also learned that he must love the hell out of RUMRAISIN ice cream - popular? Sheeesh.

We found the two birds and the one stone(s) with no problem, but it never occurred to us that one was killing the others. It isn't the upper body strength the audience is focused on during the POLEDANCE. Wondering if RUMRAISIN ice cream didn't cause its neighboring SPARETIRE. Can't believe they've made an Xtra of that hideous Mr. PIBB - more caffeine, just what teachers are seeking in their students these days.

Another classic Seinfeld sequence from @Evil Doug. I'd forgotten that was Spader. Good stuff.

Terrific Thursday Erik Agard - thanks.

RooMonster 9:57 AM  

@CFXK 9:30
Har, thanks for that. I knew my brain was messing with me. :-) Had VCR mungled up with VHS.

@Sir Hillary 9:41
Agree with ABFAB being hilarious. I think my favorite scene was when Patsy woke up on the table after burning the kitchen. And I was always amazed at how the daughter could keep a straight face!


boomer54 10:06 AM  

The private Cloud Club Restaurant operated for about 45 years in the 3 top

floors of the of the Chrysler Building ( where the gargoyles are ) .

During that period , the #1 dessert was far ... a warm slice of apple brown

betty topped with a scoop of rum raisin ice cream

AW 10:09 AM  

I actually had BAMBOOPAL for 27D and ATO for 62A and had to use "reveal word" to get the "M." Then I stared at ATOM as "half of a two-volume directory" and did not get it until I read this blog. Same thing for XPERIA and EBAY, with that wickedly clever clue of clicks and paddles. Never saw BIB, either. Just got stuck on RIB. The 32A clue "Decorates with some rolls, for short" had me groaning when I finally got TPS by using "reveal word" for 33D POLEDANCE. Just a delightfully wicked Thursday.

pmdm 10:13 AM  

Just because you don't like something doesn't make it bad. All of you who are calling rum raisin ice cream horrible etc. are wrong. You don't like it. True. Great flavor for those who like it. True. If it were bad nobody would buy it, and that certainly is hardly true.

Is it popular? Based on how many ice cream store I visit sell it (sometimes rotating it with other flavors, I would have to say it's popular. It's hardly rare to find a store that sells it.

Elle54, the best way (in my opinion) to eat the rum raisin ice cream is when it has gotten soft, perhaps even a bit melted. That makes the raisins soft and they taste better that way to me.

The rum flavor should be subtle, not strong enough to overpower the ice cream. Not all manufacturers get the balance right. And the flavor should not taste artificial, as it sometimes does. For those who've never had any, sample a few different brands before solidifying your opinion of it.

The puzzle was harder than a typical Wednesday puzzle. Perhaps the clues should have been just a little harder and it should have been published on a Thursday. The "smartphone" section seems to me way too tough for a Wednesday.

Bryce 10:16 AM  

@Loren: that is a great story, and a great thing that both you and Erik did. Thanks for sharing!

Chris 10:17 AM  

Finished w/o too much trouble, but would like to register a small complaint against RIM. In my experience, the edge of the golf cup is the LIP. This caused me some delay in the BAMBOOPALM.

Teedmn 10:21 AM  

For everyone who had @Rex's error, I went one better - I thought 42A was PARi as in PARi-mutuel betting. That made the phone the II one in a series. So with that SONY XP_RIi mess, it didn't bother me at all to put in xrAY at 30A, somehow justifying it by thinking of "paddles" as in defibrillators so xrAYs....SIGH (which was a great clue, BTW).

So a big BAMBOO PALM slap and we try again tomorrow.

jberg 10:22 AM  

@BarbieBarbie, we could have a contest! Here's my entry:

"Backward Confederate general" = EEL

@ACME, I'm so glad you figured out POLE DANCER, I was dreading having to explain it.

@Nancy -- I think the rule is that there has to be some meaning of the clue that the answer fits; it's up to the solver to figure out which meaning it is. That was certainly true of 1A -- I had _SVP and figured it must be an error before a coulple more crosses gave me RUM RAISIN. Another exapmle is 61A "Stripe" = SORT. That took a lot of thinking, even after I got it. I was going to go with SORe, based on the line in "Messiah" "and with His stripes, we are healed."

I did think that the BIRDS in 35A were in hand, while the concealed ones were in the bush -- but didn't apply that to the stones, so I agree that the theme needs something more.

But what really saved me in this puzzle is that I couldn't see BOY at 24D. I just sat there looking at BO_ and thinking, well maybe they're a dIPODS instead, and it's DOH (still not good). So I left it blank, which somehow kept me from locking in on RIB (I did write it in, though).

And I have to say it -- to me, it's not a BISTRO unless there's a banquette, white tablecloths, and they serve organ meats. Not at all the same as a cafe, but I know, it's good enough for crosswords.

I enjoyed this a lot, despite the theme problems. Also, PYLON!!!

Anonymous 10:23 AM  

Thank you Mr. Agard.
Rex is mightily mistaken;this was a gem.

A hand job of a puzzle? Grow up.
Get your titlliation some place else.

Unknown 10:24 AM  

Just got KILLED on the EBay/Xperia cross, like everyone else. I really hate brand names in puzzles, but did like the two birds/one stone thing. Would've liked it better had the stones been the kind you actually throw, but I guess it's hard to work dolomite into a long down.

Marty 10:24 AM  

Boo. I like RUM RAISIN; I had some the other day.

Nancy 10:28 AM  

With just one Google, I managed to kill two birds with one stone. I had no idea what ABFAB was, and when I found out it was a very popular British TV comedy series, I went to YouTube to investigate -- with the thought of maybe trying to rent some DVDs if I liked it. While there, I discovered the secret of @Hartley's totally mystifying 9:12 shout-out to ACME about "Edina" and "Patsy". Why, they're characters in ABFAB that's who they are! If it's pop culture of any kind, @Hartley can always be counted on to know it. Unless it's sports.

But within 15 seconds I had made a big decision not to ever watch ABFAB. Why? It has a laugh track -- a very raucous and annoying one. That's what used to be called "canned laughter" back in the day. It's ruined about 90% of all the sitcoms ever produced. I wish to God they'd stop using it!

Carola 10:28 AM  

Fun to solve. Seeing the two birds in MARTIN LAWRENCE early helped me get the equally unknown to me SONYXPERIA - I was unsure about the X until the stone confirmed it. In the other bird pair, HEN next to HAWK is just too cute.

RUM RAISIN is apt next to SPARE TIRE: ice cream will do that. Also liked the farm mom stack of EWE and DAM.

Me, too:
- Thought of Bra, resisted it; wrote in rIB; figured BIB out at the end along with the "paddles" reference.
- Disgruntled that the one stone kills just one of the two birds, leaving the other unscathed.
- Had slept through Monday's class where BAE was discussed.

Maybe just me: Alfie before ABFAB (I had no idea, obviously; have never seen either), and POLE vAult before DANCE.

OSLO memory: on a once-in-a-blue-moon trip to New York in April, I was in a Broadway playhouse eavesdropping on the chatting all around me before the show. I couldn't believe all the plays these people had seen! (Picture one of those sobbing emoticons with tears squeezing out! [I live in a theater desert.]) Anyway, a woman behind me dismissed OSLO as "too shouty." Filed away for future use.

jberg 10:29 AM  

@Loren, thanks for the video! We've been petless since our cat died about three years ago, but my daughter's dog Elsie has been visiting us for the past 11 days. Now her family's back from Mexico and Elsie is going back home tonight -- and tomorrow we're heading for the nearest shelter to find a dog of our own.

Molson 10:31 AM  

While Mr. Agard can make some very nice puzzles, all too often when doing his puzzles I encounter some clue or answer that are trying to be too clever by a half and end up, like Rex, not feeling amused, but by feeling "Well, that was dickish. Goodbye."

Joseph Michael 10:59 AM  

BOY, this puzzle sure has generated a lot of buzz. I agree with Rex that the theme doesn't quite hold together since there is no "killing" involved, but the cluing and fill are often excellent.

Loved SNOW ANGEL and POLE DANCE as clued. Also liked the fairy tale cluing of ONCE and AFTER. Didn't know SONY XPERIA but figured it out from the hidden ONYX once I knew the theme.

To TP a house is not to "decorate" it any more than covering it with graffiti is, so that clue feels off to me. But overall Erik has done a PRO job in getting the day off to a good start.

Anonymous 11:06 AM  

This is the most unpleasant puzzle I've seen lately, with its obscure definitions of common words, and 30 across, which seems to be ERAY, although for no conceivable reason the first letter in Rex's version is replaced by a red square.

old timer 11:22 AM  

I cheated. Looked up SONY smartphone on my Wikipedia app. Life, you know, is sometimes too short to solve an almost impossible puzzle. But I wasn't even tempted to put anything other than BIB as the answer to "chest protector". Not after raising three girls and having three (so far) grandchildren.

I at least knew the PIBB line of drinks existed -- never tried any,

Rum raisin ice cream was popular 60 years ago, I liked it. Not as much as I liked coffee ice cream of course. Back in the Sixties and into the early Seventies Berkeley had a wonderful ice cream store called Bott's. Michelin 3 star place IMO (worth the voyage). Their rum raisin flavor was my favorite.

Anoa Bob 11:26 AM  

Unless we have inside info, it's unclear who should get the credit or blame, the constructor or the editor, for the clues. In my experience, the clues are where the editor is most likely to make changes. At a minimum, the editor at least gives a stamp of approval on the constructor's clues that remain unchanged.

After doing the puzzle last evening, I had a FITful night's sleep, with much angst-filled tossing and turning, while my dreaming brain tried to make sense of how the "as the expression goes" part of the clues FIT in with the theme answers. This morning, after reading all the blogs and comments that I can find, there's still no closure on that account. ARrrrrrGH.

So, a KOR, two ARRS and a PARA walk into a BISTRO hoping to GAPE at some BIPOPDS doing a POLEDANCE...

Anonymous 11:27 AM  

Terrible terrible. NO ONE knows the Sony phone. Sorry Sony. Bombed product.

On the other hand Rum Raisin is my favorite flavor! Haagen Dasz!

gifcan 11:34 AM  

Whether the puzzle is good or not so good, the comments here are always entertaining and sometimes educational.

Never heard of ABFAB or BAE (missed that conversation).

A dnf but fun nonetheless.

Masked and Anonymous 11:45 AM  

Sorta different theme vibe. When finished, I felt like I at least vaguely knew what the deal was: Two BIRDS with one STONE themers. (With BIRDS & STONE as twin symmetric lil revealers -- cute.) Upon closer inspection lookie-loos, however, M&A was left scratchin the old braincasin, becuz:

* MARTIN bird is indeed with an ONYX crossin stone. WREN bird not so much, altho it does at least score a BEEFPATTY.

* HAWK bird gets paired up nicely with the crossin OPAL stone. HEN bird has a GNAT.

Anyhoo, lotsa fun fillins, sooo ... ok solvequest, with the usual wrong-again guesses (yo, RIB/BIB & LIP/RIM). Had vaguely heard of the word XPERIA before, but woulda at first leap thought it was associated with some stupid TV drug ad. But, hey -- cell phone devices are kinda like drugs anymore, I reckon.

staff weeject picks : Those 3-blacksquare-long weaslers in the NW and SE corners. Honrable mention to KOR(N) & BAE.

Thanx, Mr. Agard. Wild one.

Masked & Anonymo3Us

for @RP's dogs:

Aketi 11:46 AM  

I went from the bra to the rIB to the BIB. I'd never punch someone in the clavicle but I would aim for the chest.

I stopped looking for BIRDS when I found two, completely missing the WREN HEN. I was also among those that thought the PALM was the one hand.

I did get OSLO right away because the relatives that came to town for my son's graduation suggested it. Unfortunately, my sister and I had been running around NYC so much that when the curtain fell we both snoozed through the first act. Once we woke up we really enjoyed the dialogue in the second act.

@LMS, today was the day when I was going to get back on track after my mini VACATION with the relatives, I was going to stop dithering around on the internet and get back to the gym for my PT for my knee. I even fantasizd about trying to work on developing FABABs. But you had to slay me with the ADOPT A PET video and the story of Rat Poison Tucker. I literally burst into tears when I read about his diaphragmatic hernia because our BAD ASS FAT CAT Charlie had that same condition. I'm glad Tucker was spared the operation. We adopted Charlie shortly after the ASPCA repaired his, which helped him recover 50% of the use of one of his lungs that had been completely crushed. He went from 10 pounds post surgery steadily increasing his SPARE TIRE to the point that he now weighs over 16 pounds. All of our attempts to put him on a diet have been BUSTS.

Now that I'm over the sobfest over what Tucker and Charlie must have endured, I have the urge to eat a tub of RUM RAISIN ice cream while soaking in a lavender epsom salt bubble bath. Coffee is my favorite ice cream, but digging around in a tub of ice cream for those rum soaked RAISINS is definitely high on my pleasure scale. Even though I like nuts, I don't like them in my ice cream, So rocky road is annoying to eat because I have to hunt for the nuts to throw out while excavating for the marshmallows.

GILL I. 11:47 AM  

Oooof. What a strange EG puzzle.
I always try and start with 1A. Got the RSVP off the VCRS and PST and thought to myself "what a flippant little turd" It's like they're doing you a favor by attending your party. "Yeah, I can make it." Well, I've just disinvited you. Ask me what's wrong.....SIGH.
On to RUM RAISIN ice cream. Folks, let it melt a bit and then pour it over some Jamaican dark rum. The raisins look like little droppings but it tastes really good.
I got SONY and then stared. When I went shopping for my first smartphone, I spent hours in AT&T trying every single phone. I thought SONY was followed by the Ericson. Something clicked and I could visualize the XPERIA. I'm glad I stuck with the iPhone.
The clues for A TO M, ESPana and TPS were primo. Made me grin.
I watched ABsolutely FABulous twice. I'm still nostalgic over the "Keeping up Appearances" and my favorite "As Time Goes By." ABFAB made me wince. Where's Mrs. Bucket when you need her.
Love me some Frida KAHLO but dang, cross her with KORN?
Didn't they live happily AFTER all?

QuasiMojo 11:50 AM  

@Nancy, I'm right there with you, for the same reason, plus a certain lack of subtlety.

jb129 11:59 AM  

Hated this puzzle - didn't care to even finish it if I had the inclination.

It seems to be more for the constructor's ego than for our enjoyment

Z 12:05 PM  

@LMS - Bush/Hand - yep.

@LMS - Great story.

@RUM RAISIN lovers - I don't know how popular it can be when the best ice cream company in the world doesn't offer it. But I'm one of those people who likes my beer too bitter so I hardly think you should take my assessment of your preference too seriously.

@anon10:23 - I'm happy to see I offended you. Feel free to complain to the management.

Stanley Hudson 12:10 PM  

Normally I enjoy EA's puzzles but this one wasn't in my wheelhouse, Maybe it's the RAISIN thing--the mere smell of them, let alone the taste, makes me deathly ill.

Masked and Anonymous 12:12 PM  

Upon further gruntin and contemplatin, I guess the compromise theme could maybe begrudginly be like: "Two birds, one with a stone".

Or stoned out of its mind bird theme. har

The clues for BIRDS and STONE are suitably phrased, in the second theme theory case. (yo, @RP)

Anybody else notice how bizarrely moo-cow eazy-E that NE corner was? Just sayin.


Anonymous 12:14 PM  

I wasn't moved by offense, but pity.

Tita 12:14 PM  

Ok...I figured it out. We all put in rIB because BIB is just wrong.
BIBs protect shirts.

Do aprons protect stomachs...? or clothing...


@Nancy, @Gil... Totally agree re: RSVP.

jjpennyless 12:21 PM  

Put in bra for BIB and glad I did because it gave me EBAY and everything else fell into place. Had I thought first of rib I would have been screwed. Curious, though, why some commenters have mentioned that the clue didn't fit bra. Doesn't a bra protect a chest from injury during exercise, or even protect it from sagging as one ages? You have to accept that chest is a synonym for breasts, but that doesn't seem like much of a stretch. Am I missing something?

Agree with others that a golf cup has a lip, a basketball goal has a rim.

RooMonster 12:21 PM  

Um, pmdm 10:13, and also Deej 12:46, today is Thursday, you seem to have lost a day somewhere! :-)

@Anoa Bob, the expression goes - Able to kill two BIRDS with one STONE. - Meaning you can take care of two things at once with one action. Agree that clues were kinda enigma-y, but I think the point got across.

RooMonster Help Desk (Usurped from @M&A!) (You can take it back now, @M&A! :-P)


Malsdemare 12:28 PM  

@Loren fantastic story and I just fell in love with our constructor. More people like that, please.

I really can't add to the comments; everything I'd say has been said. But I will offer a plug. If you can find Graeter's ice cream (Cincinnati origins but available in some grocers and ALWAYS by mail order), you have to try it. Once you've tried it, you'll be hooked. Chocolate mocha and double chocolate chip are the favorites in this house. Seriously, if we're serving ice cream for dessert, NO ONE turns down a dinner invite to our house. Small warning: it's pricey. We send it as a congratulatory gift to our kids when they finish advanced degrees (a mere BS is insufficiently laudable).

Joe Bleaux 12:36 PM  

And so cruel Thursday comes and goes, leaving me sittin' on the dock of the ray, reeking of ray rum, and listening to the distant raying of the hounds ...

Anonymous 12:43 PM  

Already had the "R" so a nine-letter "popular" ice cream is OBVIOUSLY rocky-road. Rum-raisin is a popular flavor for ipecac syrup.

Warren Howie Hughes 12:49 PM  

This flighty Thursday offering from the MINE of Erik Agard was, as the expression goes, "Strictly for the BIRDS!"

Two Ponies 12:50 PM  

Okay Andrea, so you were kidding but I was so tickled to think it might be true. Ah well.

Used to love AbFab but a recent viewing made me realize that if you weren't as drunk as Patsy it isn't so funny anymore.

I'm babbling, must be the heat.

Masked and Anonymous 12:53 PM  


@Roo -- M&A can always use all the help desks he can get.

@Thomaso808: yep. RUNTO-matically great.

RUMRAISIN ain't M&A's particular thing. Cold STONE Creamery's BANANA ice cream, laced with chocochips -- now, that is pretty sweeet. Say it with m&e … Gotta have it.

UNTAG. har. Or maybe hARGH? Delicious, STONE-cold desperation. Enjoyed. It's the lil runty things in life that row yer boat.

@muse: Primo Erik Agard story. Constructioneers are the nicest peoples. Hope U have a super day, EA. Shoot, U had me at them three weirdball black-wall squares in the far NW. Like a crossword with sideburns.
Are those yer original BIRDS and STONE clues? Us peeps always wanna know the whole story. (Not that we're firin up a special prosecutor, or anything.) Thanx again,


BBPDX 12:53 PM  

I agree. Haagen-Dazs rum raisin is delicious and, perhaps, the only rum raisin worth eating.

Warren Howie Hughes 12:54 PM  

mathgent, ONYX to Goodness, OPAL!? :-)

Mohair Sam 1:38 PM  

@Anon (12:43) - You'll be pleased to know that your Rocky Road finished 14th on the list of "15 Most Popular Ice Cream Flavors". RUM RAISIN did not make the "Popular" list. 1d was clearly in error.

@Gill I - disagree on ABFAB, we loved it here. Do agree on "As Time Goes By". But no Britcom will ever match "Fawlty Towers" imo.

Geometricus 1:47 PM  

I heard once on the internet that "bae" in Swedish means poop. Don't know if it's true but it's hilarious if it is.

mathgent 2:10 PM  

I'm still thinking about the puzzle a few days ago where GO was called a board game. That seems terribly wrong to me. Just like calling chess or checkers a board game. To me, all games are either games of skill or games of chance. I would define a board game as a game of chance played on a board.

The distinction between games of skill and games of chance is not easy to pin down. Certainly Candy Land, Go to the Head of the Class, and Chutes and Ladders are games of chance. Clearly, chess, checkers, and GO are games of skill. But most games require a combination of the two. I call Monopoly a game of chance even though a certain amount of skill is required to win. I call backgammon a game of skill even though getting good dice is very important.

Among card games, Bridge is a game of skill and War is a game of chance. I consider Crazy Eights a game of chance even though winning requires some skill. I consider Gin Rummy a game of skill.

One way to distinguish between games of skill and games of chance is whether or not they have tournaments. They have chess tournaments, they don't have Monopoly tournaments. They have Bridge tournaments, they don't have Crazy Eights tournaments.

Anonymous 2:14 PM  

Um, they have go tournagents. It's therefore a game of skill.
Hence it is a board game.

robber 2:34 PM  

WTH is going on Will?
If you keep pumping out garbage like this and like the last 7 of 8 Sundays then start paying constructor's a bit more. I'm pretty sure that money/profit can't be that big of an issue can it?
Thursday and Sunday IMO are the days that set the NYT xword apart but the run of trash in the last two months has been pathetic.
It's your name on the you even care?
Please bring back the creative and enjoyable work that brought most of us here.

robber 2:44 PM  


fawlty towers
benny hill
as time goes by
keeping up appearances
on the buses
monty python
vicar of dilby
are you being served
one foot in the grave
yes minister
yes prime minister

never ever ever abfab!!!

ok i have said enough....hopefully Sunday will be great

Anonymous 2:54 PM  

This was a very well constructed and clued puzzle as has come to be the norm from Mr. Agard. The story by @ LMS not only humanizes him even more but underscores the breadth of his talents and knowledge.

As a solver I am frustrated when I do not know something I think I should or I cannot remember. Not caring about any development post-1963 is hardly a badge of honor. There are 169 million registered users of EBay who all know it is an auction dependent on clicks. Sony sold 28 million Experias in the last six months, not Apple numbers but not insignificant. By contrast, Broadway Guild estimates 20 million people have seen Oklahoma since its debut in 1943 during WWII. And yes people will be singing Beatle songs and quoting Hamilton lyrics for generations to come.

David Stehle 2:57 PM  

Yay me! I solved the puzzle and OFL Rex didn't!

(Never mind how long it took me.)

Aketi 3:08 PM  

@GILL I, all the RUM RAISIN haters (I'm looking at you Z -- even though I like bitter beer I still love my rum and raisins) are making me want to try your Jamaican rum version, while playing Gin Rummy. In addition to playing the board game of scrabble (often accompanied by alcoholic beverages), my Grandmother and her sisters played gin rummy with the same results. It always ended in accusations of cheating. The only difference is that the cards would end up on the floor rather than the scrabble tiles. The most competitive of the sisters was my Great Aunt Gin.

Charley 3:09 PM  

I love rum raisin. Stone me.

hankster65 3:20 PM  

Holy moly, Rex had a dnf? I'm going to look out the window and see if I can spot some flying pigs. Rex's goes a ways to sooth my dnf. A total messfor me. Btw, I'm a huge fan of ice cream and never once in my 70 years have I ever eaten rum raison nor will I ever.

GILL I. 3:51 PM  

@Nancy. I usually read all the comments before I post. I looked at the 80+ before I wrote mine and since I was in a hurry to go out, I didn't read them until now. Like Minds and all that except you were more polite...!
@Mohair. I thought John Cleese was brilliant in "A Fish Called Wanda." Anything with the Pythons, though, makes me cringe after about 5 minutes. I'm pretty sure the canned laughter (Hi @Nancy again!) is what makes me want to scream. Fawlty Towers and ABFABS have some of the fakest more irritating squawks that could possibly emanate from the human body. Too bad since BritComs are fantastic. Remember "All in the Family"? Thanks to "Till Death Us To Part" we got the best US sitcom ever produced.

Lewis 3:54 PM  

Erik did extremely well to come up with two answers that contained two birds. I've been trying to come up with another, to no avail. Among many delights in this puzzle, Erik, specific props for this one!

Mohair Sam 5:41 PM  

@Gill I - I lived in England during the first few seasons of "Till Death Us Do Part" it was so far superior to "All in the Family" that I couldn't get into the American version. We had no Queen in America for a "royalist" Archie to worship, the English guy was easier to laugh at. I'm a Python fanatic, although Lady M. is in your camp. Seinfeld best American sitcom imo.

Oboe Bae 5:50 PM  

Yep. I put BRA and felt very certain of it! I would argue that a BRA protects a woman's chest while a BIB only protects a person's shirt.

Alexscott68 6:20 PM  

I had ROCKY ROAD (a legit popular flavor of ice cream) for RUM RAISIN but quickly sorted that out and mostly enjoyed this puzzle, finishing 5 minutes under my usual Thursday time of 32 minutes (I imagine Rex's is like 5-6 minutes?). I agree that the cluing for the theme answers should have made more sense for the expression it was trying to refer to. I too thought of "A bird in the bush," forgetting all about the STONE part. Had to read Rex to realize what the expression actually was. I had RIB for BIB at first, but realized the mistake simply because ERAY is not a thing and EBAY is. Saturday level clue, though.

Nancy 6:36 PM  

@GILL (3:51) -- No apology necessary, for heaven's sake! I also post before reading comments and I like it most when other people's comments are...well...virginal, that is exactly what they think upon finishing their solve, with no regard for what's already been said. When people have the same reaction I do, it pleases me. As you say, great minds and all that...

@Malsdemare (12:28) -- Chocolate mocha and double chocolate chip -- yessss! Now that's what I call ice cream! I'm with all the people here, too numerous to count, who think RUM RAISIN is an abomination. They're absolutely right.

Anonymous 7:19 PM  

@Robber, there was a little thing called The Office that some people quite fancied.

Space Is Deep 7:34 PM  

Add me to the list of those who have never heard of RUM RAISIN or SONY EXPERIA. also burned by BIB/RIB.

The One True Tami 8:56 PM  

I also did not like this puzzle. I do like rum raisin, though. I like rum, and I like raisins. It works for me.

Saul Perdomo 9:59 PM  

Rum raisin and Sony Xperia are fairly well known in my neck of the woods, fwiw.

Christophe 10:03 PM  

DATA ON MARKETSHARE of the Sony Xperia:
Even in Japan, Sony’s market share is only 17.5% and in the U.S. it’s around 1%.

OISK 10:22 PM  

How many completely unfamiliar entries? Brand names-Pibb and Xperia. Neo? Bae? Korn? Awful "cute" clue for eBay? Kahlo? Finished it somehow, pleasantly surprised when I checked my answers, but not happy. The clever theme notwithstanding, an unpleasant solve.

Kate 12:17 AM  

I got BIB and EBAY but wasn't clear on RIM (first tried TIN) because of SONYEXPERIA (which I also had never heard of). I also took a while to figure out BAMBOOPALM for whatever reason.

Paloma Vita 12:18 AM  

You exactly expressed what I went through, step by step... thank you for that!

David G. 12:23 AM  

@RooMonster - Halfway through this morning, reading the comments, I realized it was Thursday, but I always do my puzzles on the iPad the night before, so I solved on a Wednesday, even though it was a Thursday puzzle. At least, that's the excuse I'm giving myself.

That said, I have to weigh in on the great RUM RAISIN controversy: I love rum raisin. I probably haven't had it in 30 years, but it was always one of my favorites. However, my wife hates it, and since I can't afford to buy an entire tub of ice cream that I will eat by myself, I have forgone it for the sake of my ABS.

Still, RUM RAISIN has been a flavor for at least 45 years, as I remember first having it at the local Thrifty Drug Store when I was a TWEEN. Any flavor that can last that long gets some credit for popularity, as there are many flavors that don't even make it through a second summer.

David G. 12:35 AM  

Oh, I almost forgot, a bib is not just for food: cyclists, hunters and skiers all wear bibs to protect their chests. I could swear I've heard an umpire's chest protector called a bib on occasion, though no amount of searching I've done bears that out.

Anonymous 11:39 AM  

I'm not going to go to this webpage anymore.

Been following this page for a long time. It's just too negative.

Puzzles aren't perfect gifts from God. Denouncing them all the time because they aren't... Not my cup of tea.

Maybe they are gifts (from someone), and I can celebrate the fact that not only have they been presented to me (by someone) for my enjoyment and edification (which seems surely worth celebrating and being grateful for), but also, for me, they are fun to do and I learn many interesting things along the way. Ragging on them endlessly... Thanks anyway.



Unknown 5:25 AM  

Are you interested in joining the illuminati brotherhood and make your
dreams come true this is your chance to make it happen. contact now
and enjoy Benefits of being
a new member. As a member you will get to enjoy many
things name them cars, money, fame, popularity,
houses, connections etc. - you will be given $30,000 every two weeks
as a membership blessings, inbox us now if interested email contact ...+2349036812898 for more info

kitshef 8:52 AM  

BAE is an abomination that should never be permitted.

Agree with @Nancy and others that the RSVP clue is way off base.

Never heard of XPERIA.

Completely agree with @Rex that the theme does not work.

Yet ... I enjoyed it. go figure.

Blogger 4:33 AM  

There's SHOCKING news in the sports betting world.

It has been said that any bettor needs to look at this,

Watch this or quit betting on sports...

Sports Cash System - Advanced Sports Betting Software.

Blogger 8:03 AM  

If you need your ex-girlfriend or ex-boyfriend to come crawling back to you on their knees (even if they're dating somebody else now) you have to watch this video
right away...

(VIDEO) Text Your Ex Back?

Blogger 3:35 PM  

Are you looking for free Facebook Likes?
Did you know you can get these ON AUTO-PILOT AND ABSOLUTELY FREE by getting an account on Like 4 Like?

Diana,LIW 7:10 PM  

Trailing on from yesterday, looking for the DOOK definition for myself and @Foggy.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

Teedmn 8:11 AM  

DOOK was from a puzzle answer of DO OK, (as in "How are they at table tennis?" "They DO OK") which many people including myself read as DOOK. So that is the blog term for words mushed together in the grid which can be misinterpreted.

Burma Shave 9:44 AM  


BOY, her BUST’S where ISLET my GAPE go.
That BIRD’S FIT for TENS STONE worth of romance,


Joe in Newfoundland 9:51 AM  

Syndication land chiming in. Maybe RUM RAISIN was a regional thing, or a generational thing - when I was young, and living in northern Ontario, it was very popular. Perhaps because we could eat "rum" and be naughty.
In general, boo. But "boo" in the way Ruth Gordon says it in Harold and Maude.

rondo 10:30 AM  

Has to be the first time that my first 5 entries were abbr.s – RSVP UPCS VCRS PST and etaS, soon AFTER changed to ARRS, but still an abbr. ARGH! Thought the last letter would be that E, but it was the w/o of the neighboring r to become B; that one that got so many to DNF.

Frida KAHLO, Bert from Sesame Street. Enough on that.

Mixing idioms, I wonder if having a BREW with yeah BAE BAE Sharon STONE in a BISTRO is worth a PARA BIRDS in the bush. Or something.

Odd SORT of puz. Wouldn’t have made any connection without those iffy clues. DAM GLAD to finish.

spacecraft 10:54 AM  

Epic, I mean EPIC, fail. I could not muster a single entry in the north central. Content = GLAD???? In what universe? 5-down requires techie know-how; forget that one. Again, not living in New York, I don't go to plays, so cluing OSLO that way was another no-go.

RUMRAISIN popular????? In what universe? I seem to be asking this a lot. Did the NE, actually, and found _IPODS for the clue "Two-dimensional stands." Okay, so BIPODS. At the risk of sounding repetitive, IN WHAT UNIVERSE? Where is the center of gravity?? HOW would a two-dimensional stand...stand??? After quitting this horrible thing, I Googled BIPODS. Turns out they're for guns, so I guess the shooter not moving forwards or backwards is enough to keep them from falling over. No wonder I was at a loss: I have nothing to do with guns.

A frequent syndi-blogger uses the word "pisser" way too often, but this time he's spot on. This grid was loaded with them. If this is typical of Agard's work, I'm just going to skip him entirely. DNF.

thefogman 11:02 AM  

Good challenging puzzle, although I'm not a fan of the expression Kill two birds with one stone as it promotes cruelty to animals. Plenty of misdirects. I had chocolate before RUMRAISIN and cRib before TREE. EBAY was clever cluing as was POLEDANCE but the best one was SNOWANGEL.

thefogman 11:08 AM  

I just read OFL's comments above and realize that I liked and finished a puzzle he neither finished nor liked at all. Holy smokes! That's a first!

centralscrewtinizer 12:30 PM  

Great story from LMS, but a word to the wise. Always say it this way....When I was in prison, teaching....with a nice little comic pause after prison.
DNF because I had SONYXPERas which led to PiBB and PARs, none of which looked weird having never heard of the first two and the last looked ok. So I failed differently from most but similarly ignominiously. Enjoyed the struggle but still feel a little wtf about Pibb, which is just a terrible moniker for a soda.
Did anyone mention there is such a thing as a hen hawk?

Longbeachlee 1:34 PM  

I would say that considering that the money crowd in the Ice Cream industry keeps Rum Raisin on the menu, it is indeed popular.

LMS, don't be so hard on yourself with the technical dnf. I, also a Smith, missed the gimmick, and I'll sleep fine tonight.

Diana,LIW 2:39 PM  

Just because I had a dnf doesn't mean I couldn't enjoy the puzzle. As usual, my WOES got in the way. Hand up for rIB.

I remember when rum raisin was one of the very few HD flavors - it was kinda exotic in the '70s.

And, as usual, I liked the weird clues. Laughed at the TP decorating technique.

So...could A TO M be a DOOK?

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

PS - the roof is done, and I won.

thefogman 3:00 PM  

My apologies if I missed it, but what's a DOOK?

rain forest 3:24 PM  

Well, there's always something. I had a weird experience with this puzzle, which was definitely not in my wavehouse, or on my wheel-length, but emboldened by the easy NE and the big white space in due North, I soldiered on. Challenging, for sure.

Something about the obliqueness of the clues and the different feeling while solving was somehow captivating. Obviously I had rIB at first, and left that part for last. Meanwhile, I had a w/o with MANs>MANY, giving myself a big headslap. My hero STEPHEN HAWKING was the key to the south, and it was in his name where I first saw the 2 birds. Thus I went back to the North and sussed out MARTIN LAWRENCE, of whom I've never heard, and painstakingly got all those other words in the North.

So, inevitably I had to deal with the SONY phone and ErAY, complicated by the fact I had pIn(?) for the golf cup part. Suddenly BIB/EBAY clicked (not "paddled") in, and from somewhere XPERIA came to me.

So, tada, I got it, and realized the expression in question was "2 BIRDS w 1 STONE", saw the "STONEs" piercing the 2-bird answers, and that was good enough for me.

Different. Fun. Btw, my favourite ice cream flavour is mocha.

peter 4:05 PM  

Never met an ice cream I didn't like, my favourite being Blue Cheese. Well done Erik, dear OFL (our flatulent leader) Rex had a DNF, kinda like roguefart. Everyone can now leave the room.

leftcoastTAM 4:20 PM  

This was a tough Thursday but gettable, thought I, but it ended as a pain in the arse.

Have to agree with Rex that the theme, such as it was, was garbled, and for me EXPERIA/PIBB led to a DNF in the middle.

There was other trickier stuff in the fill, which I got, but it would be a waste of time to dwell on it.


Diana,LIW 5:27 PM  

@Foggy - see me at 7:10 pm and @Teedmn at 8:11 am for the DOOK follow-up.

Lady Di

Anonymous 5:28 PM  

It is good to I am not the only who struggled with the Sony brand part. That led to a incorrect guess. Also had to ask if there was a RUM flavor because RUMVEISIN seemed wrong. If you include that it was 5 letters. Two for one down and missing letters for the Sony brand.


thefogman 8:02 PM  

Totally off the subject, but I almost OD'd on Sriracha sauce just now. Folks, be careful how you use it.

Unknown 8:22 PM  

I say again these puzzles are clearly not edited because no one would let that STONE nonsense pass

Anonymous 10:12 PM  

I had to come here to find out what "as the expression goes" meant. Poorly clued. Never heard of the phone and ERAY made no sense, but I figured it had to be something because Xperia as a smartphone name made more sense than the other 25 choices. Never occurred to be that rIB should be reconsidered (though I'm pretty sure I've stumbled on that one before, and not all that long ago).

wcutler 5:29 PM  

Thanks RooMonster 9:04 AM for the comment about the two birds - I stopped looking when I found the first one, didn't quite understand how the clue was working. I'm probably the only person who didn't get NEO, and it's the only sci-fi book I've ever read. PIBB sodas? Are they in the US?

DNF by a long shot, but liked it.

Blogger 4:36 AM  

+$3,624 PROFIT last week!

Subscribe For 5 Star verified winning bets on NFL, NBA, MLB and NHL + Anti-Vegas Smart Money Signals...

  © Free Blogger Templates Columnus by 2008

Back to TOP