Sobriquet for filmdom's Daniel LaRusso / FRI 1-26-18 / Stud poker variation informally / Ursine sci-fi creature / Atom with electronic imbalance / Verbal outpouring in slang / Life instinct in psychology

Friday, January 26, 2018

Constructor: Caleb Madison

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: none

Word of the Day: TALIA al Ghul (Batman foe) (44D) —
Talia al Ghul (Arabic: تاليا الغول) is a fictional character appearing in American comic bookspublished by DC Comics, commonly in association with Batman. The character was created by writer Dennis O'Neil and artist Bob Brown, and first appeared in Detective Comics #411 (May 1971). Talia is the daughter of the supervillain Ra's al Ghul, the half-sister of Nyssa Raatkoon-and-off romantic interest of the superhero Batman, and the mother of Damian Wayne (the fifth Robin). She has alternately been depicted as an anti-hero.
Talia has appeared in over 200 individual comics issues,[1] and has been featured in various media adaptions. The character was voiced by Helen Slater in Batman: The Animated Series, which became her first appearance in media other than the comic books. Talia was subsequently portrayed by Marion Cotillard in the 2012 film The Dark Knight Rises, and by Lexa Doig in the television series Arrow. (wikipedia)
• • •

This one was OK. Had ups and downs, high points and low points. HILO! (37D: Stud poker variation, informally) It's trying very hard to be contemporary, at least in a couple places, but in other ways (everything south of SISTER WIVES), it's kind of ordinary and dull (though I did like WET KISS and its clue, 40D: Sloppy planting job?). Difficulty-wise, it was very easy *except* for the NW corner, which threatened to stop me completely when I couldn't get Any of the longs Downs to work. I recognized Daniel LaRusso's name, but couldn't place it, and "filmdom" in the clue made me think LaRusso was an actor, not a fictional, titular character (3D: Sobriquet for filmdom's Daniel LaRusso, with "The"). And then 2D: Dead was just too vague for me to even guess at what INAN- could be. I thought maybe a phrase, like IN AN ... COMA? Something like that. Oh, and then there's WORD SALAD, which is what I had (confidently) written in at 1D: Verbal outpouring, in slang. WORD VOMIT is a. far less common than WORD SALAD, b. gross (has "VOMIT" ever appeared in the NYT!?) (A: no), and c. see a. and b. Luckily I didn't end there, because that would truly have been ending ON A DOWNER (15A: How buzzkills end things).

I know SISTER WIVES only because I'm vaguely aware that there was (is?) a TV show of that name. Like VOMIT, this isn't something that excites me. LORDE, though, is great, and I'm surprised she doesn't appear a lot lot lot more in crosswords. Short answer, favorable letters, super famous. Definitely a keeper. Just replace REUNE and all OLAF / OLAVs with LORDE wherever possible, is my suggestion. Outside of the NW, I got slowed down only in the SE, briefly, as WET KISS suddenly seemed wrong when I dropped in the definitely-right III (55D: Jr.'s son). III next to WET KISS gave me consecutive "I"s and everyone knows that's not possi- ... and then eventually I saw the clue for HAWAIIANS. And I put WET KISS back in. The end.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Unknown 12:07 AM  

By far the easiest Friday I've ever seen. Nothing tricky about it. Felt like a Wednesday puzzle.

jae 12:08 AM  

Easy-medium for me too (faster than yesterday's). An excellent Fri., liked it a bunch!

If you missed it the first time around I highly recommend HBO's "Big Love", the show that spawned the SISTER WIVES reality shows on TLC. Bruce Dern and Harry Dean Stanton are worth the price of admission plus you get Aaron Paul before he was Jesse Pinkman, not to mention The Beach Boys intro.

Unknown 12:12 AM  

Are the puzzles from previous big tournaments available anywhere?

Jason 12:15 AM  

Same — set a Friday record tonight

John Child 12:16 AM  

I could have done without SISTER WIVES whatever its context, and any sort of VOMIT doesn’t pass the cookies and ice cream test at 10 pm. Quite easy though, and that keeps the entertainment quotient up and the frustration index low.

MAKE SAUTURNes and sell them for EROS...

Unknown 12:18 AM  

Had a little trouble in the SE corner - saw the P from POSSESSES and put in toP for ceiling. Getting COVERBAND showed me my mistake. Finished in 23 minutes, which I realize is like an eternity for the crossword savants commenting here, but is a damn good Friday time for me.

Unknown 12:20 AM  

I killed this puzzle, and I can rarely say that about a Friday. Karate Kid was my first fill which opened up the NW corner, and flew from there.

Seth Romero 12:25 AM  

I have never in my life heard "word salad" but I hear people use "word vomit" on the reg. Sounds to me like you're just getting old Rex.

(coming from a 25 y.o.)

puzzlehoarder 12:28 AM  

This was about the same difficulty level as yesterday's puzzle. It took three minutes longer but just having to solve using my phone could account for that difference.

I'm not familiar with the CARRERE actress and the R of EROS was the last letter to go in but by that point I was sure of it.

No standoff sections. I started in the NW and went around clockwise. TALIA as Batman trivia was new to me. As clued it's a debut so the clue meant nothing to me, however it went in off the crosses without my noticing.

While not challenging it was an entertaining solve. Even the UTURN entry had kind of a "saturnalian" look about it.
A funny coincidence was that my wife called from NYC the moment I finished solving. She's taking our youngest daughter back to school. Today they saw a fashion exhibition at MOMA about bathing suits. There was a picture of three guys in SPEEDOS on a HAWAIIAN beach. It just so happens our oldest daughter is on vacation in HAWAII so my wife texted her the picture.

Carola 12:29 AM  

Not easy for me, and DNF. Starting from RARECOINS, I slalomed to the bottom without crashing into too many gates but left a patch of snowy white virgin territory in the NE. Not knowing Tia CARRERE made things tough. Based on the letters I had, I guessed at tuRRERo, resulting in a hockey team named the NY RuNnERS and building blocks made of tImbER. Eventually I remembered the RANGERS but never questioned my guessed at "t," so my building blocks ended up being made of tINDER. Not the best choice for home construction. Well, might as well go down in a blaze of...dopiness.

David Stone 12:30 AM  

I found this much easier than the usual Friday and even easier with yesterday’s. It had mostly fun fill and occasionally challenging cluing. I didn't like REUNE or know AKON, but most of the grid was fairly impressive and/or engaging.

TomAz 12:31 AM  

I say hooray for Lorde, and also hooray for Lucinda Williams showing up in Rex's writeup. Rex's musical references are one of the many things I love about his blog.

SISTER WIVES was the last thing I completed. Which was sheer stupidity on my part; the clue said "polygamous" and I read "polygons". Face palm. The thing is I just heard the NPR review of the Waco minseries the other day so the concept of a sister wife was in my head. D'oh!

1A should be clued "Russian plot to destroy western democracy." Sorry, Anonymous posters soon to follow.

I had no idea who Daniel LaRusso was and I've seen the KARATE KID more than once. And liked it. But I just had to google to see if it was the name of the character or the name of the actor. (Thankfully, given the clue, it is the character). But I'm totally fine with the clue/answer. I have a pet peeve (expressed previously on here) about puzzles jam packed with actors names and film or TV references; I think that's a bad puzzle. But to include without over-reliance is totally fine.

I'm prattling.

This puzzle was fun. Easy for a Friday, yes, but so what. After yesterday it felt like a breath of fresh air.

Carolynne 12:32 AM  

WORDVOMIT was the first clue I got. It must be a generational thing? I love Friday puzzles although this one was easy.

Robin 12:46 AM  

@Seth Romero, WORDSALAD is more a writing thing than a spoken thing. It's what you get when someone has to write something and has no idea what to say and/or uses a lot of buzzwords. (In the latter sense, it's like buzzword bingo.) They start throwing words in and around, hoping the reader won't realize that it all adds up to nothing.

No idea who LORDE is. Saw the one-named singer that was 5 letters long and first though it was ADELE, yet again.

I can see where the AKON/ANION crossing might have messed up some people.

Despite RARECOINS being the first answer I filled, like OFL the NW was the last section of the puzzle that I finished. Ended up working clockwise from the NE.

Completed the puzzle about halfway between my record and average Friday times.

Trombone Tom 12:48 AM  

Well, I usually cringe when I see Caleb's name, in anticipation of current groups or singers I don't know, and AKON did not disappoint. The crosses were fair though.

I don't follow hockey and live on the left coast, so I impressed myself by plopping in NYRAptoRS for 24A. Only to discover that the NE was a mess and my self-congratulation was premature. NYRANGERS solved that problem.

Glad I wasn't midmeal when WORDVOMIT "came up."

Never having watched the show on TLC, SISTERWIVES was slow to reveal itself.

On the easy side for a Fridy, but highly enjoyable.

Stanley Hudson 1:32 AM  

All hail Lucinda W.

Larry Gilstrap 2:25 AM  

Pencil pausing is not indicative of an easy puzzle, and staring results. I filled in a sash from the rock-bound coast of Maine to the sandy beaches of San Diego followed by sessions of Shavasana. But, I'm like a dog with a bone, and I generally grind it out. Do I ever post without finishing and then reading OFL? It's what I do. And, of course, how would you know or even CARE? Hell, if it's been in the puzzle recently, I'm capitalizing it.

Clever cluing all over the page. Nice looking fill, as well. I'm certain many of you are enjoying FIRE SIDES now. The desert has been way too warm this season; nice, but not right. The year with no winter, or barely none. March Miracle?

I would only tolerate WORD VOMIT if it led to a WET KISS. Dinner and drinks would also work, and would be preferable. There has to be a morning after.

Love HAWAIIANS and the Aloha Spirit. King Kamehameha saved the SE, on the same island as HILO. When that fell in, the solve was concluding.

My wife sings in a COVER BAND and they sing to a rhythm track and the guys play guitars and she sings. They're entertaining; that's their job. She's an energetic singer with a smooth voice. It's a hobby for them and they get as many gigs as they want. Sometimes "real" musicians and purists are in the audience and they feel obliged to ask about the non-existent drummer,etc. Even famous bands are COVER BANDS, if they're smart. New music from old bands doesn't sell tickets. I even sing karaoke. Interpretation not imitation.

a.corn 2:29 AM  

I started out guns drawn, aggressive, planted WORDVOMIT in immediately, KENNY in second, thought “there’s no way these ridiculous answers are ri—“ crossed WIKILEAKS to validate. After that, I realized the puzzle was going to be uptempo and modern. Blasted through this, but in a very satisfying way. Really like the cluing for TAOISTS and STILETTOS

Larry Gilstrap 2:43 AM  

My brother liked smooth jazz. His name was Kenneth.

Loren Muse Smith 4:07 AM  

Hand up for not knowing WORD VOMIT. I have heard another even ickier one – (verbal diarrhea). Been accused of it here several times. Deservedly.

Anyhoo, I kept considering “word comet” because it makes sense, too. For me. I talk really fast.

Stepped right into the music trap and put in “a flat” for KENNY thinking why only in jazz?

I picked up an chalet vibe with FIRESIDES, PRONGS, IRONS, CINDER, I POD playing KENNY G, WET KISS… OMELET the next morning if all goes well.

@Calman Snoffelevich – I couldn’t find where to get your hands on previous tourney puzzles, but here’s the link. I bet someone there can help you. ACPT

Even knowing 1A had to begin with W, it took *forever* to choose WIKILEAKS from the bajillion things that could embarrass a public official. FWIW, “wind gusts” fits there, too.

Lewis 6:07 AM  

This was fresh, Friday-fresh, with cluing zingers (CARE, COVER BAND, STILETTOS, WET KISS) and seven debuts including the I-can't-believe-these-haven't-been-in-puzzles-before WIKILEAKS, NY RANGERS, and KARATE KID. And a puzzle skillfully made -- look at those three nines cleanly crossing another three nines in the NW and SE.

Caleb is one of a crop of young constructors that Will has been developing over the past, say, five years, rather than just sticking with tried and true crossword makers, and props to Will for doing this -- for encouraging and helping neophytes to hone their craft, for giving them a venue that they have a chance to be seen in -- ultimately for our enjoyment. For being a mentor as well as a puzzle polisher. Bravo, Will -- keep up the good work!

Andy Bathgate 6:08 AM  

Thank God for 1994, or it would feel like 1928;was the last time the Rangers won the cup

Anonymous 6:47 AM  

Andy Bathgate,
One of the best Rangers ever

kodak jenkins 6:49 AM  

It didn't seem easy at the time but I finished about 20% faster than my usual Friday.

I didn't get KARATEKID until the very end! I didn't know what "sobriquet" meant so thought I was looking for an artsy movie with a Japanese title by some famous director I'd never heard of named Daniel LaRusso. "Oh! THAT Daniel LaRusso!"

also mispelled CARRERE so was really befuddled by AELERS.

Very enjoyable puzzle with some uncommon clues and answers and hardly any clunkers.

-clue for TAOISTS (but wouldn't it be the Way?)


Hartley70 7:09 AM  

Lucinda Williams fan here, so thanks Rex. I agree this was an easy Friday. I wasn't moved to Google a thing. AKON might have been tough but I have him on my old iPod. WIKILEAKS was not my first thought, considering the Congressional slush fund, but it was a good second choice. KARATEKID was a blast from the past, way past, but the K gave it to me. I enjoy an occasional Friday that forgoes a bit of torture. The worst thing about this Friday is that Saturday comes next.

Robert A. Simon 7:29 AM  

Regarding 16A: IRONS come in sets, not collections, and yes, I gather collection is often used to denote a lot of something in crossword land, but it shouldn't be used when there is an actual, real, correct word for that "collection." Boy, did that sentence suck, but I think you get my point. Wrong is wrong.

In case you haven't heard it, here's a Lee Trevino line for the ages. One year, during a weather delay which I believe happened right here in Chicago during the much-missed Western Open, a reporter asked Lee what he did when there was lightning reported on the course. He said, "I walk down the middle of the fairway holding a 1-iron over my head, because not even God can hit a 1-iron."

mathgent 7:33 AM  

@LMS (4:07): I just looked up WORDVOMIT, a term I hadnt heard before. It means something said in conversation which the speaker didn't mean to reveal, according to a couple of internet sources. If so, the clue is incorrect. "Verbal diarrhea" is a term that I do know. I take it to mean worthless and excessive talk. Certainly not something you are guilty of.

NYRANGERS reminds me of my favorite trivia question. Who played for both the New York Knicks and the New York Rangers?

I liked the puzzle very much. Like Rex, I was solving at a brisk clip until I came to the NW. I stared at that corner for quite a while, trying different letters in different squares, until INANIMATE bingoed into my brain. Then a couple of good guesses on WORDVOMIT and KARATEKID and I was done.

I was happy to learn what a CINDERblock is. A construction piece made from coal ash and concrete.

Loved "Sloppy planting job?" for WETKISS. I nominate it for @Lewis's pleasing list of the best clues of the week.

Glimmerglass 7:34 AM  

I was defeated by CINDER block and two proper names I never heard of. C’est la vie, the old folks say. I was thinking of toy blocks, because “CINDER blocks” are not common these days — cement blocks, yes.

Elise 7:38 AM  

Agreed! WORDVOMIT was the only answer to me. I wouldn’t have even considered WORSSALAD. This whole puzzle fell into place for me quite easily, and I usually really struggle with Friday. I think the clues worked well for a younger puzzler.

kitshef 7:39 AM  

Hand up for easy, and hand up for loving me some LORDE.

Never heard of the TV show SISTER WIVES, so rationalized it as a reference to Jigme Singye Wangchuck, who as ruler of Bhutan married four sisters -- and then outlawed polygamy.

Birchbark 7:42 AM  

I wonder what the New Originals think of the clue for COVER BAND.

@Puzzlehoarder, akin to your "saturnalian" observation about 29A, I might have clued MAKESAUTURN as "Ferment a white Bordeaux?" Almost, anyway.

You learn something new about EELERS everyday.

Snoble 7:47 AM  

I've read Rex and this amazing blog for a couple years and never commented. Rex and y'all have changed my relationship with crossword puzzles and words in general. Time to dive in and be a part of instead of just observing.
This puzzle was a great example for me of what my brain does when I'm not watching. Totally stuck in the NW corner. Had 17A and 29A. Walked the dog, came back and immediately saw "vomit" (and thought, "Ooh, Rex won't like this ugly word!" ). Everything just cascaded from there. Insight--suddenly seeing the blatantly obvious.

G. Weissman 7:57 AM  

- sigh -

JJ 8:11 AM  

@Mathgent 7:33 trivia question. Is that an athlete, or an organist?

Geoff 8:14 AM  

Agree with several other young commentators—WORD VOMIT is absolutely something the kids say these days, word salad is not. I thought it was precisely type of contemporary, real, and interesting that Rex usually enjoys. I approve. On a broader point, maybe I just have a high threshold, but if the word vomit is too much *cue fainting couch* maybe the problem is not with the Times being too vulgar, its with the breakfast test being taking to too much of an extreme. Go play some Cards Against Humanity, and compare. It’ll be good for you.

Anonymous 8:25 AM  

Stumbled on NW. Had MIKE LEAKS as in microphone. Sorry about that.

The Hand 8:28 AM  

Regina Parker

Anonymous 8:42 AM  

Thank you President Trump for restoring our confidence in the economy. Dow up nearly 50% since election. Unemployment at historic lows. The forgotten man is finally being heard.

Hungry Mother 8:50 AM  

Just a joyless slog for me today. Nothing wrong with the puzzle, except for some trivia, but I was just mentally sluggish today. Hopefully, my morning run will go better.

QuasiMojo 8:53 AM  

Someone at the NYT has a "Speedo" fetish. I sailed through this one with pleasure even though I had never heard of nor could grasp many of the clued singers. Having AXION slowed me down until I figured out ON A DOWNER which I found amusing. I've been accused of being a DEBBIE Downer a few times myself.

My only real quibble today is with the clue for III. "Jr's son." Well, what if Jr's son did not have the same name? He wouldn't be a III. He could be a II if he has his grandfather's name. Small point but it irked me.

VOMIT however did not irk me. It's a commonly used word and I'm surprised it's never been in the NYT before. I don't find it as offensive as other slang used recently. Plus the term "vomit draft" in editing is used often. I saw it many times in the book I'm reading at the moment: "The Vanity Fair Diaries" by Tina Brown, which has its share of WET KISSes, SNAKES who OPINE, ABERRANCEs, STILETTOS, PRONGS and Hi-Lo URSINE creatures.

Michael Tong 8:56 AM  

To be fair as One Of The Youngins I've heard WORD VOMIT a lot lot more than I've heard WORD SALAD.

I really liked this puzzle, but definitely some of that is because it was easy.

Teedmn 9:25 AM  

Pooh, a dumb DNF just when I thought I had avoided one. I had no idea who Tia of 21D was. And crossing _INDER, all I could think of was bINDER - don't they use straw as a bINDER to make adobe? But I ran the alphabet and CINDER came to mind. Hah, that's definitely right. I hit the check solution button (solving online today) - wrong. "Life instinct, in psychology" is not EgOS, erp. I thought the clue and answer didn't match but ignored it.

Other than that, this was an easy Friday. WORD salad before the breakfast test-failing VOMIT. (Crossing OMELET? Ew). "Clubs" before IRONS. Happily EVER after instead of "EVER SINCE you and your brother came along....".

Some nice cluing on CARE (51D), COVER BAND (32D) and WET KISS (40D). I was lucky that I got 20A with crosses because AKON means nothing to me though I did know LORDE. We get the plural SPEEDOS again. And we have a backstabber crossing STILETTOS.

All in all, a fine Friday, thanks Caleb.

Nancy 9:37 AM  

Despite not one but two one-named pop singers and two actors and roles I didn't know (ugh), I enjoyed this puzzle and found it challenging. The entire NW put me ON A DOWNER, since I didn't see one single answer I could fill in. My heart sank, and I skipped to the bottom, hoping I could eventually get back up.

I never heard of 1D, and it doesn't pass my breakfast test. So much so that I won't even type it here. Look, you all have your breakfast tests and I have mine. And the thing is: I'd just had breakfast.

Wanted air KISS before WET KISS (40D). But there's no Yankee with the name R---E (48A). Great clue for WET KISS.

My jazz G (8D) was bENNY, as in Goodman. (A purely generational thing.) It actually helped me with 4 out of 5 letters, so it was a good wrong answer.

EVER after before EVER SINCE (57A). Straightened out by III (55D).

A bit too much pop culture, but an engrossing and challenging puzzle that I liked. It's been an unusually good week so far.

GILL I. 9:47 AM  

Not easy at all. Stumbled everywhere. If it's not Cher or Adele I'm at a loss. Thanks @Kitshef for the LORDE link. I've heard her on the radio but wouldn't know the name since FM radio NEVER ever tells you who the singer is. She has an interesting voice. Is AKON a he or a she?
I know motor mouth. Don't know the VOMIT or the salad one. Cute what the KIDDOs come up with these days. I want to see bitchen in a crossword.
The downstair was easier for me. STILETTOS was my first entry in the basement. God, I hate those things. Why, dear SISTERs, do you wear those things? Have you ever seen the toes of a ballet dancer? Yours are going to look like that if you keep stuffing your feet into those daggers. How do you walk down the stairs?
Moving right along...HAWAIIANS yessiree. I read all about King Kamehameha in Michener's book "Hawaii." People said he wrote nothing but lies. Since I didn't know any HAWAIIANS I believed the entire book.
I don't eat pizza so NAPLES was hard for me. I wanted a Pete or a Domino or maybe even a Hut because those are the ones I see on TV. So it's NAPLES and not Chicago.
Went back upstairs and Googled ANION just to get me started. then I Googled AKON. Then I Googled LORDE and then I Googled EWOK. Talk about your big fat cheat. It did open the sneaky door for me.
Why don't I know the difference between a philatelist and numismatist? Oh...KENNY G. How clever.
So, little by little, I finished. The only thing that brought a smile was seeing TORTA and HOBO. HILO can take a flying leap.

Z 9:47 AM  

WORD salad is a fairly common cable news talking head descriptor of the utterings of our truth adverse politicians and their spokespeople. WORD VOMIT is perhaps more accurate, but less likely to make our TV screens. At any rate, I had TED before either occurred to me so no problem.

Easy Peasy all the way around until I put in EVERafter and toP in the SE. HAWAIIANS and FIRESIDES made "after" obviously wrong, but it took a little more work to fix CAP. Last letter in was correcting CARRERa while thinking "can we get any more obtuse cluing EELERS?" I don't think I have ever spelt CARRERE correctly in my first pass. I even thought to myself "I always spell this wrong" as I spelt it wrong again today.

REUNE is such a classic backformation, but will we take it a step further and make "une" a verb? "I have such fond memories of my first year of college, the beautiful oak trees on the quad providing shade as we uned for the first time."

@TomAZ - Not so much a Russian plot as them being quick to utilize the credulous.

@Robert A Simon - Just in case you're not joking, it's a puzzle so the clues sometimes use synonyms for better words as a form of misdirection. So wrong is wrong but getting fooled is just getting fooled.

@Quaismojo - SPEEDO has such useful letters, but I still would not mind its absence from puzzles. OLAF I in a SPEEDO listening to Eno while dining on EELs should be an ugly enough image to remind constructors to avoid them whenever possible.

@Calman Snoffelevich - I think (not positive and I don't have time to verify) that if you go to the link @LMS provided and create an account you will have the opportunity to buy previous years' puzzles.

@Snoble - Welcome.

Jamie C 9:55 AM  

Seemed like a LOT of POCs today. I'm too lazy to count...

Anonymous 9:58 AM  

“Word salad” used to be used (maybe still is used) by EFL teachers to describe some of the very fractured syntax you often see in compositions written by beginning learners (i.e., throw a bunch of random words into the bowl and toss well). I’ve never heard it used to describe verbal excesses.

Bob Mills 10:04 AM  

Am I the only one who prefers non-theme puzzles? This was fun to solve, but I don't understand "COVERBAND" even though I got it from the crosses.

Nancy 10:11 AM  

@Robert A. Simon (7:29) -- Thanks for quoting Trevino's hilarious bon mot. It's not only a great golf line; I consider it one of the great lines anyone's ever said about anything.

@GILL (9:47) -- STILETTOS were obviously invented by the Marquis de Sade, and I wouldn't subject myself to their torture any more than you would. I've never seen ballerina's toes, but I'll take your word for how horrible they are. Ballerinas do, however, have the most wondrously high arches, a fact that leaves me, flat-footed my whole life, green with envy. My first year at Camp Pinecliffe (I was 10), the feet of every little girl in Bunk 1 were examined by the camp doctor. As he walked past the row of bare feet, he would smile and say "Good"..."Nice"..."Very nice"..."Fine"... Then he came to me. "YOU!", he bellowed, "YOU HAVE NO METATARSAL ARCH!!!" I almost burst into tears. I had absolutely no idea what a metatarsal arch was, but I knew from his tone and demeanor that not having it/them was a Very Bad Thing.

As far as pizza is concerned, GILL, I leave you with the wonderful words of Sophia Loren from many, many years ago: "You Americans refer to pizza as 'fast food'. Where I come from, we call it dinner."

Anonymous 10:14 AM  

What are you writing about. Perfect example of WORD VOMIT!

Two Ponies 10:20 AM  

Caleb's puzzles are getting better. There are still plenty of clues for younger solvers but with fair crosses that even dinosaurs can get.
I have never heard of either singer but it didn't keep me from solving the puzzle.

Very nice Friday, thanks Caleb.

@ Snoble 7:47, Walking the dog has helped me plenty of times too.

chris 10:23 AM  

I have a question. Since I moved in the US everyone told me I can't use "hobo" in a conversation, because offensive. I see the NYT crossword use it a lot. What am I missing?

Maruchka 10:25 AM  

Fun and fast and finely tuned. Thanks, Caleb.

@Robert Simon - ah, those wacky golfers! Good story, thanks. Caddied for Daddy back in the Trevino/Fuzzy/Crosby days..

Just getting over the nastiest flu ever made WORDVOMIT too close to home. Heal!

Anoa Bob 10:27 AM  

If memory serves me correctly, the team that the NEW YORK RANGERS beat in 1928 to win the first N.H.L Stanley Cup was the Lake Hamana EELERS.

Speaking of 1928, maybe you could get away with saying that EROS (28A) was the "Life instinct, in psychology" in those days, but even then it would have looked like Greek mythology by way of 19th century Freudian psychodynamic mumbo-jumbo. Psychology (and psychiatry) has moved on past the Freudian stuff since the early 1900's, though you wouldn't know it based on the NYT xword puzzle clueing.

Speaking of which, "word salad" is used to describe the speech pattern of people suffering from severe psychosis, usually schizophrenia, where their words seem to be randomly "tossed" together.

This seemed a bit of an S fest, with POCs all over the place, including the super-POC POSSESSES. It's a plural of convenience itself that enables five other POCs. Grid fill gold there.

GILL I. 10:33 AM  

@Nancy...You made me spit my coffee out. Good thing I didn't have vodka in it. I bet you don't wear a size 10 shoe, though. And....what the hell is a camp doctor doing looking at little girls feet? I hope he didn't move on to the Olympics. Sofia can eat anything as far as I'm concerned. I'll eat pizza for dinner if it's one of those French kind with artichoke hearts in it. I know...blaspheme!

Timothy Smith 10:33 AM  

I knew the Seattle Metropolitans won the first US Stanley Cup...but just before the NHL...Oops.

pabloinnh 10:34 AM  

"Word salad"? "Word vomit"? I really wanted "logorrhea", which even fit beautifully. Not slangy enough, I guess.

Had not heard of "sister wives" except that my father-in-law remarried after his wife died, and he married her sister, which I know happens occasionally but did not realize had now become validated by appearing on tv.

JC66 10:34 AM  

@mathgent said...

NYRANGERS reminds me of my favorite trivia question. Who played for both the New York Knicks and the New York Rangers?

@JJ said...

Is that an athlete, or an organist?

I say...

Gladys Gooding*

*It's an answer to an old trivia question. She was the longtime Madison Square Garden organist.

Andy Bathgate 10:38 AM  

Gladys Gooding played the organ for Knicks and Rangers

TubaDon 10:41 AM  

Despite never having seen Wayne's World, Tia's name was the first thing I wrote down. I do wish that some one-named singers would pick a more pleasant-sounding "sobriquet".

JoeNY 10:57 AM  

Hey TomAZ you are anonymous

James Bond 11:05 AM  

John Podesta’s password was Password

'merican in Paris 11:10 AM  

I guess I'm going to have to keep plugging and learn all the crosswordese. I found this puzzle doable in most corners, but DNF because of the east. Finally had to click the "reveal errors" button and there were four squares with crosses! Have heard of WORD salad, but never WORD VOMIT, but I got it after I got the V.

Funnily enough, the long answers gave me the least resistance. Slotted in RARE COINS, STILETTOS, NAPLES and HAWAI'IANS (Hey @chefwen!) without any letters from DOWNER answers. EVER SINCE and FIRESIDES also went in quickly. It was the proper names that tripped me up. Also, wanted "o RiNGS", so didn't see PRONGS. And am so accustomed to the French spelling of OMeLETte that I couldn't remember the American.

Are SISTER WIVES polygamous if they are married to only one husband?

semioticus (shelbyl) 11:15 AM  

On the same page with Rex. There are some slight issues, but otherwise a very good puzzle. The fill is lively! When just 28% of the answers have 3 or 4 letters, that gives you a great opportunity for a juicy fill, and boy does the constructor take advantage of it. 14 9-letter answers, and they are all great! (Well, almost, but still) If you have so many sparkly answers (ABERRANCE COVERBAND RARECOINS WIKILEAKS KARATEKID WORDVOMIT) and the only price you have to pay is a little bit of III SRS REUNE TSARS and OLAVI, I am more than OK with it. Oh, and on top of that we get MAKESAUTURN. Brilliant.

What's even more impressive though is the cluing. Generally a funny tone, but there are also some zingers there. "Diner order that gets filled?", "Sharp-looking footwear?", "G in jazz", "Sticking points", "Ones who know the way?", "Something that people wish you would take when you leave" and finally, an Hall of Famer in "Sloppy planting job?" Just great.

Some might find it easy for a Friday, but there are different kinds of easies. This one is easy because i) the clues are not trying to frak with you but rather want you to have "haha" moments and ii) this is a very clean fill given all the long entries. There's a line between sloppy-easy and well-created, and this one falls on the latter side.

GRADE: A, 4.65 stars.

QuasiMojo 11:16 AM  

@Z, it would be even worse if Olaf were listening to ONO.

semioticus (shelbyl) 11:23 AM  

Oh, I forgot one of the best! "Act without originality" Just great.

Anonymous 11:33 AM  

Gladys Gooding also played for the Brooklyn Dodgers

Ilana 11:36 AM  

Both Karate Kid and Kiddo in the puzzle? Thought that would be verboten?

Master Melvin 11:37 AM  

I believe Gladys Gooding also played for the Dodgers. So the way I heard the joke many years ago was, "Who played for the NY Knicks, the NY Rangers and the Brooklyn Dodgers?"

Marty 11:42 AM  

Kenny G is something, but he is NOT jazz.

old timer 11:53 AM  

Very entertaining puzzle, and my only hangup was in the NE where I googled for CARRERE. WORDVOMIT was a new one for me -- WORD salad I have often seen.

For SISTERWIVES I immediately thought back to ancient Egypt where many a Pharaoh to be married his sister. I did not see the polygamy connection, but then I suppose Pharaohs were men of many wives.

My father was a III and I am a IV. Oddly enough, my father's father was not Jr. Jr was his uncle, but this Jr had only one surviving child, a daughter. So my grandfather carried on the name by giving my father his uncle's name and adding the III.

'merican in Paris 12:00 PM  

Hey @oldtimer! You being a IV reminds me of a guy I worked with fresh out of college. He was also a IV -- John Cox IV, I believe -- and he told me that a few months before graduating from college he started receiving computer-generated letters from credit-card companies, and several would start off with:

"Dear Mr. IV, ... "

So, of course, that's what I called him from then on.

Hoffman 12:01 PM  

First Friday puzzle I've been able to complete without a single puzzle check, or even a Google search. 16 minute solve time vs. an average of 30. Feeling pretty good about it. pretty, pretty, pretty good.

Malsdemare 12:12 PM  

DNF here. I googled for CARRERE and entered CARRERa, giving me the well-known aELERS. I also had to google for LaRusso. But the rest slowly emerged, leaving me quite pleased with myself despite the error. I really liked WETKISS, KENNY, KENNY, STILLETOS. I'm happy to be home again where there is a working FIRESIDE. The wonderful Loren also said, "Everything I am I owe to spaghetti." To which I say, "if only."

I hear WORD salad often with reference to some of The Donald's more free-ranging interviews. But I'm most familiar with hearing verbal diarrhea, courtesy of a sister who doesn't have a very functional filter.

Unknown 12:30 PM  

@Z - Ha! "I have such fond memories of my first year of college, the beautiful oak trees on the quad providing shade as we uned for the first time." Hilarious!

RooMonster 12:33 PM  

Hey All !
Well, the SISTER WIVES actually moved to Las Vegas, and I've actually driven some of them and their various family members to tapings. They have four houses in a cul-de-sac. Everyone is free to come and go in any house.

Tia CARRERE is a babe! Schwing! Ha! A little Wayne's World reference for ya. Maybe the (ahem) older crowd knows her mother, Barbara (sp?) CARRERE?

NE corner toughest for me. WORD VOMIT is a harse sounding thing. Wanted that for ITIS, and trying to parse KARATE KID from the letters I had was difficult, even though I knew the character name, but couldn't put my finger on it. How about that POCtastic word POSSESSES? Not only is it a POC itself, it provides us with 5 more! Awesome. Hopefully @Anoa Bob's head doesn't explode. :-)

So a not-too-shabby FriPuz. KENNY G and all.


RooMonster 12:45 PM  

@Me 12:33
That would be NW corner, naturally. And the only way I know LORDE is from South Park. Hilarious episode when it's revealed that Randy Marsh is actually LORDE. Gotta love South Park.


Masked and Anonymous 1:08 PM  

Wow, U don't get yer 9x9 NW and SE corner stacks in a grid very often. What a treat. Would've expected more pockets of desperation than what we got to pump out of it. Did have 20 plural answers, tho. POSSESSES alone kicked in for 6 of em. And no I didn't count NAPLES.

staff weeject pick: SRS. And BAS, too. Plural abbrev. meat. Sweet.
fave clue: {Something that people wish you would take when you leave} = CARE. Only becuz OFF don't quite fit, tho.

Fun and slightly feisty FriPuz. Thanx, Mr. Madison. IDE like to see more of this primo 9x9 stuff.
Bet @RP was just relieved that this FriPuz didn't try to sneak in a theme.

Masked & Anonymo3Us


OISK 1:18 PM  

Lorde, please, no more one name singers. @Andy Bathgate - one of my favorite sports memories- The penalty shot against Hank Bassen, (Detroit) that got the Rangers into the playoffs. I was there. Side balcony admission. 50 cents!

Solved correctly, but too much pop culture to keep me happy. lorde, Akon, Carrere, Sister wives, all unfamiliar. I also don't think a "cover" lacks originality.

TomCO. 1:39 PM  

Lorde is actually Randy Marsh, a geologist from South Park, Co.

Hungry Mother 2:01 PM  

@Roo Monster: I get most of my news from South Park, and sometimes, like today, xword answers.

@Hoffman: nice Larry David regerence. Wife and I are finally working our way through Seinfeld on Hulu.

Oldflappyfrommississappy 2:06 PM  

KENNY G is VOMIT and INANIMATE. And I bet he wears a SPEEDO.

Airymom 2:09 PM  

It should be against the law for any coverband to play a Stones song. Trust me, you don't sound like Mick and you just don't have the attitude/strut-ability/kahones.

Thank you.

I thought it was a great puzzle. Love "word vomit". My daughter called me from college today ("Go Blue!") and it took some doing, but I used the expression correctly in a sentence. She was very impressed!

Anonymous 2:10 PM  

Chips and black bean dip for lunch. I just ripped one and levitated a little bit.

jberg 2:29 PM  

I liked it, but unlike most, apparently, I found it tough on account of not knowing hardly any of the proper names. For a long tie all I had was the S from ironS (could have been clubs, balls, who knows what else -- well, woods).

For the hockey team, I was looking for either a city or a team name -- so it took most of the crosses to see NYRANGERS.

Fortunately, for almost all of my teaching career I had a colleague who was (and is) a Mormon feminist, and was involved in writing biographies of some early Mormon women; among other things, she would talk about how SISTER WIVES would support each other. (@merican, if they had more than one husband they would be polyandrous).

I loved all the clever, misleading clues, and was even willing to take EELERS when they were served up so beautifully.

@Loren, excellent point about WIND GUSTS, poetentially embarrassing to a) women in skirts and b) men with toupees.

Anonymous 2:48 PM  

I couldn't finish this, but then again I sold all my stocks when Paul Krugman warned the markets were going to crash.

Phil 2:53 PM  

Check me as heard of WORD VOMIT over word salad???
Sounds like someone parentizing their kids slang.

Now that's repulsive. Yuk

Phil 2:57 PM  

Had islanders because it fit but I don't believe they were in the original six

JC66 3:24 PM  

@Master Melvin

Thanks, I forgot about the Dodgers. Hell, it's only been 60+ years. ;-)

Joe Dipinto 3:55 PM  

@Bob Mills 10:04 -- Cover bands exclusively perform songs first done by other artists; they don't do any original material.

This was a verrry easy Friday -- I hit nary a snag as I made my way from the SE up to the NW, which I agree was probably the toughest section. Would have liked a different clue for Kenny though. And I don't really think of KIDDO as meaning "Little buddy" (that would be Gilligan).

Anonymous 4:34 PM  

For pizza, Naples, and Sophia Loren (first two in puzzle; last in a few posts above), there's a very nice movie, *Oro di Napoli* (Gold of Naples), set in Naples just after WWII and sort of an homage to stereotypes about the city (director: Vittorio de Sica; movie circa 1950), somewhat as the later Fellini's Roma picks up stereotypes about Rome. Fellini's Roma honors Rome, De Sica's *Oro di Napoli* honors Naples's gold, i.e. its people. It is five or six vignettes, one of which is a sort of street, pizza-to-go place, where Sofia Loren makes the pizzas. No one in Naples has any money (the pizza is sold on credit), and few have jobs--thus free time in spent in meddling in everyone else's business, and, for the young men, ogling Loren who makes the pizzas. Loren's husband perhaps would have a proper sit-down pizzeria had he not spent all his money on her wedding ring, which she forgets one day at the home of her lover (she's been pretending to go to daily mass). He notices the missing ring, and she says it must have fallen into a pizza. Thus they take their list of that days sold pizza's (credit recorded) and try to hunt down the ring. Entire movie entertaining, though I found only three of the vignettes truly memorable. Don't know about its availability: I looked for youtube versions, and found a copy in Italian with Spanish (!) subtitles--but I'm not good at hunting these down. I think it's almost never on AMC or TMC or regular TV.
Anon. i.e. Poggius

sanfranman59 4:47 PM  

This week's relative difficulty ratings. See my 1/2/2018 post for an explanation of my method. In a nutshell, the higher the ratio & percentage, the higher my solve time was relative to my norm for that day of the week.

(Day, Solve time, 26-wk Median, Ratio, %, Rating)

Mon 4:14 4:08 1.02 60.7% Medium-Challenging
Tue 6:00 5:33 1.08 65.7% Medium-Challenging
Wed 6:34 5:54 1.11 70.0% Medium-Challenging
Thu 24:27 10:16 2.38 100.0% Very Challenging
Fri 11:02 11:37 0.95 44.6% Medium

It's been more than 7 years since the last Caleb Madison Friday in the Times and I averaged more than 29 minutes on the other two in my spreadsheet. My late-week solving ability has clearly improved. Who says an old dog can't learn new tricks? My only WTFs in this one were AKON, EROS (with that clue) and TALIA (and I was a huge Batman fan as a lad in the 60s). SISTER WIVES made me squirm a tad.

sanfranman59 5:04 PM  

@Calman Snoffelevich ... I'm pretty sure the ACPT uses NYT puzzles published in the paper ... at least they have been for the past number of years. I think they're published on consecutive days the week after the tournament. If you have a crossword subscription, you can get all published puzzles back to late 1993 from the archives.

Unknown 5:58 PM  

"Word vomit" is fresh. Count me among those who've never heard of "word salad." Puzzle deserves credit for lack of crosswordese.

Harryp 6:29 PM  

Everything was going fine until I had ALL in 41 down and dropped ALLEGE in. That stopped me from ALOUD and KIDDO, so never recovered and had a DNF. Bummers.

GILL I. 6:35 PM  

@Poggius 4:34. WOW...Thanks. All I did was go to Google and type in " Gold of Naples". Open up Movie Clip at your service TCM. Right there ...In black and white is Sofia. It's in Italian with English subtitles but I'm glad you mentioned it. So fun to watch. Sofia must have been about 20 years old. - Doesn't matter she's still gorgeous!

Joe Dipinto 6:39 PM  

@sanfranman59 -- I don't think that's true: I competed in the ACPT for the seven years that it was held in Brooklyn, and none of those puzzles was ever published in the NY Times. I was able to receive paper copies of them by mail one year by contacting the website -- I'd forgotten to pick up a packet when leaving the Marriott. I don't know how far back they can go though.

Word Salad Virago 7:20 PM  

I’m quite certain that I would never use the term WORD VOMIT, thank you.

3 Sheets to the Wind 7:25 PM  

If you ate a grommet would you vomit?

CLB 7:33 PM  

I DNF'd on CINDER as well. Didn't know the proper name cross, and I can't explain why, but my brain read "Building block makeup" and thought it was a kind of makeup (as in cosmetics), at which point I surrendered without a fight :-)

Barry Frain 9:27 PM  

I find you pathetic.

Barry Frain
East Biggs, CA

Oldfatbasterd 9:29 PM  

Rex was less niggardly with his praise than usual.

Ando 1:59 AM  

I've never heard WORD VOMIT, but I've heard word salad often, primarily to describe Sarah Palin's or Donald Trump's response to a particularly challenging question. A person in over their head like that will just string phrases together and hope it sounds convincing.

Ando 2:01 AM  

Here's how you know it's a generational thing: When you google each phrase, WORD VOMIT returns hits from Urban Dictionary, WORD SALAD from Merriam-Webster.

GHarris 2:04 AM  

Too many names and total unknowns so, although I did some good work, I did not finish. That became all the more painful when I read here how easy it was for most others. Tomorrow’s another day.

Al Camus 2:10 PM  

John Miller posing as anonymous @8:42...

Diana, LIW 11:27 AM  

In case you were about to tune into the Nat Weather Service to see if there had been an earthwuake in the SE - nope, that was me, struggling with that corner.

Don't know why it gave me fits, but all of a sudden it gave way. Just as I was about to cheat. so yea me.

I see there is commentary about WORDSALAD and WORDVOMIT. I thought both the VOMIT and the S-WIVES were kinda yucky. Just my thots.

Yesterday was a good day for a FIRESIDE read and a cat.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

spacecraft 11:32 AM  

This felt uneven. Just when I thought it was going to be typically Friday-tough, a gimme appears, and God's in His heaven again. Cluing is similarly all over the difficulty map. For TALIA, why not DOD candidate Shire instead of a character only a Batman fanatic would know? (Sorry, Adrian, Tia CARRERE beat you out this time.)

Then there's the unsavory (WORDVOMIT, SISTERWIVES) entries that deserve their obscurity--not that the less-obscure WETKISS is any more, uh, savory. Starting in the SE with HEF/HAWAIIANS, I was dismayed to see three shameless crutches: RRNs OLAVI and III, plus a five- (5!) S word down the right-hand border. This is one of the wunderkinds, no? He can't do better than that?

And would you stop already with the one-name singers? LORDE OK, but AKON??? Enough! There are some nifty long answers here, and I like HILO coming down to HAWAIIANS, but overall I have to give this a bogey.

rainforest 1:27 PM  

First entry: HEF; then HAWAIIANS, and so the SW went quickly once I changed toP to CAP.

Not knowing SISTER WIVES, Daniel LaRusso, AKON, or LORDE, slowed me down but in general this went smoothly with lots of nice answers and/or clues.

I friend I play golf with has irons from a variety of makers - truly a collection.

I doubt I'd appreciate a bearded TIT, or a blue one.

Fairly easy yet entertaining puzzle. Yeah, lots of esses. So?

leftcoastTAM 1:33 PM  

Glad to see an easy-medium Friday that is actually easy-medium.

Last letter in was K in the EWOK/AKON cross. AKON unknown, EWOK vaguely recalled from somewhere.

Favorite entry: STILETTOS. Don't know why.

Burma Shave 1:51 PM  


OPINEd, “ITIS VITAL to UPSET your lives.”,


rondo 4:08 PM  

My computer crashed during my first try at brilliant commentary so this will be brief-ish. No w/os, so probably not so tough. This puz was painting me a picture of TAOIST HAWAIIAN SISTERWIVES in SPEEDOS and STILLETOS by the FIRESIDE.

CINDER blocks are not so much CINDERs these days, except when desired for lighter weight, using fly-ash for part of the aggregate/cement mixture. And all those blocks are concrete blocks, not cement blocks as called somewhere above. Cement is a part of concrete, as are CINDERs, sometimes.

Had breakfast in the same room as KENNY G one time. In NYC the week before 9/11.

Tia CARRERE: yeah baby.

WORDVOMIT I could do without, especially crossing my OMELET. Decent puz.

Steelhead 4:52 PM  

er, I thought the 1917 Seattle Metropolitans were the first hockey team from the U.S. to win Lord Stanley's Cup?

fakt chekker 5:55 PM  

In 1917, the Seattle Metropolitans became the first American team to win the Cup. After that season, the NHA dissolved, and the National Hockey League (NHL) took its place.

The clue specifically says NHL

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