Young ferret / THU 2-15-18 / Jung's inner self / Cold medicine brand for kids / Old-fashioned cry of disgust

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Constructor: Peter Gordon

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: And the Osprey goes to ... — themers are all Oscar-nominated roles where the character's last name is a type of bird

Theme answers:
  • SCOUT FINCH (3D: Mary Badham's Oscar-nominated role in "To Kill a Mockingbird")
  • MARION CRANE (30D: Janet Leigh's Oscar-nominated role in "Psycho")
  • JACK SPARROW (31D: Johnny Depp's Oscar-nominated role in "Pirates of the Caribbean")
  • LUKE MARTIN (11D: Jon Voigt's Oscar-winning role in "Coming Home")
  • CLARICE STARLING (53A: Jodie Foster's Oscar-winning role in "The Silence of the Lambs") 
Word of the Day: NERTS (57D: Old-fashioned cry of disgust)
[My favorite part of this is the picture—thanks for the visual aid, Google]
• • •

I guess Lesley Manville's nomination for playing Cyril WOODCOCK came too late to make the grid. She doesn't look happy, Peter:

[currently nominated for "The Phantom Thread"]

Also, you could've done this one with all women and then had the revealer be Saoirse Ronan's Oscar-nominated role: LADY BIRD. The 2017 nominations opened up all kinds of possibilities! But what we've got is just fine.

Easy because easy, Medium because proper-noun minefields can be unexpectedly brutal, depending on your knowledge/ignorance. I flew (!) through this one, except for Every Letter of LUKE MARTIN (I finished the puzzle at 32A: RASP), and the tail end of ABIDJAN, which I have heard of but did not trust myself to remember, mostly because I wasn't sure that my brain wasn't just misremembering the name of the country AZERBAIJAN. Otherwise, pretty easy and loads of fun. I have no problem with a non-tricksy Thursday where the theme is just some oddly-related set of answers and the grid looks a little nuts (here, 16 tall and mirror-symmetrical). Really impressive that Peter could get this very narrowly-defined set of themers to be symmetrical while also having CLARICE STARLING slicing across the grid straight through two other themers. But why isn't the grid shaped like a bird, Peter!? Where are the wings!? You need to step up your game, man. Until then, this will do. Oh, but one question: What the hell is going on with TOM KITE? (67A: Golfer who you might think plays best on windy days?). Like yesterday's non-symmetry, today's TOM KITE is scratching the blackboard in my brain a little. Is it or isn't it a themer? Against: the fact that TOM KITE was never, to my knowledge, nominated for an Oscar; and he's not in a theme position (no symmetrical partner); and he's got a "?" clue instead of straight clues like all the other themers. For: well, there's only one "For," and that's the fact that KITE is sure enough a last name that is also a bird. You'd think that in a last name = bird puzzle, you could *somehow* avoid other complete names where the last name was a bird. But apparently not. Rex BEMOANS TOM KITE. Everything else is fine.

Trouble spots:
  • BAMBI (4D: Symbol of gentle innocence) — had the B then the MB, then the AMB, and each time could think only of LAMB(S)
  • ENAMELS (22A: Canine coats) — not hard, I just mistyped it as ENANELS, which only made my LUKE MARTIN struggles worse
  • MINAJ (30A: Rapper with the double-platinum album "The Pinkprint") — I am not used to seeing MINAJ on its own. My brain treats NICKIMINAJ like one word
  • 63D: Tear (JAG) — brutal, both because of the (at least) dual meaning of the word "tear," and because of the "J" cross from ABIDJAN, which, as we've already established, I just couldn't get a handle on
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Loren Muse Smith 7:12 AM  

Oh wow, Rex – great catch on TOM KITE. I missed it. I just saw that SWAN. (And I like your idea of “Lady Bird” as a theme idea.)

I’ve put this out there before: I’m not a birder. Don’t ask me to grab a pair of binoculars and head into the woods with you. But BUT… if there were such an activity to do with snakes, I’m in. How cool it would be to go out for a day and see rattlers, cotton mouths, copperheads out in the wild. Of course I’d stay way back and be all polite and respectful. Obsequious even.

But this is a tight little theme, and I enjoyed it.

Considered “acquire” before ACREAGE. Clue was “land.”

So I thought the cross there with the kids’ medicine would be a kind of T Quil or some such. I was thinking the T could stand for “toddler.” Dumb.

I agree with Rex that a non-Thursday Thursday is fine once in a while.

Unknown 7:12 AM  

That "J" in the JAG/ABIDJAN cross did me in....

Sioux Falls 7:15 AM  

After yesterday’s horror in Florida, This crossword took on a little less importance for me. There are no words anymore.

ncmathsadist 7:18 AM  

ridic, enhalo

what junk

Lewis 7:26 AM  

The puzzle flew by pretty quickly.

Good idea for the theme, and great research by Peter. Most impressive were the two long down themers crossing the across theme spanner. I had ENgage for "Put a ring on" before ENHALO. Lovely clue for ENAMELS. And, as your resident alphadoppeltotter, I must report that this puzzle had an unusually low double letter count (4). Anything under five is quite rare, although it did happen a couple of months ago (12/4).

With all the bird-as-last-name puzzles that have been done already (see Peter's notes), whether or when we'll see another is, I suppose, up in the air.

puzzlehoarder 7:31 AM  

I liked this puzzle inspite of my RADIC dnf. It wasn't so much that I was fuzzy on the meaning of cockamamie than it was a matter of not reviewing the clue and thinking whatever it was generally fit with RADICAL. What I was thinking about was the J of ABIDJAN. That was my last letter and instead of the "almost there" the filled puzzle just sat there. As soon as I read TRIAMINIC in Jeff Chen's review I of course realized my mistake. NAC seems as plausible an ending as NIC.

Off of just SCOUT I would not be able to come up with FINCH. I had to think of the father's name to do that.

Anthony Hopkins pronouciation of CLARICE has fixed that name in my memory.

MINAJ was what reminded me of JACK. I'd put in LARKSPARROW forgetting the themes were all full names. There probably is no such bird but it fit.

Fun puzzle.

Two Ponies 7:38 AM  

All names and no tricks on a Thursday makes me feel cheated.

Another Marion already after Mrs. C very recently?

After years of filling in Eloi I finally bought a book of H.G. Wells novels that includes The Time Machine. After that I really ought to read Omoo.

Sarah C 7:41 AM  

ENHALO? ENHALO?? This is not a word. As we used to say in the mid-'80s, that is RIDIC.

I couldn't get behind this puzzle. There were some cute puns (oh,"canine" means a tooth! Oh, "chocolate coated" is chocolate LABRADORs!), and the mirror construction is elegant. But I expect more out of my Thursday.

Maybe I'm especially CRABby because there were so many feasible answers that were wrong (BAMBI could be lAMBs, BATHMAT could be arearug, MAILSIN could be hAndSIN). But I want to have some kind of feeling of triumph on a Thursday -- nothing SWANKY, just a fun rebus or letters squushed together in single square, or something. Sorry, this didn't do it for me.

Anonymous 7:42 AM  

Can someone explain the Canine Coats/ENAMELS?

TomAz 7:47 AM  

Other than SCOUT FINCH and CLARICE STARLING, much of this was really not in my cultural frame of reference. MARION CRANE and LUKE MARTIN are strangers to me. I mean, we may have met before, but they made no impression and I don't remember them.

ON 60A I had the --TER and just dropped in hATER without a second thought.

And again with ATE IT! Are constructors particularly prone to pratfalls this time of year? Are they all hungry? There needs to be an 'Eat It' Hall of Fame. Weird Al can emcee for the induction ceremony.

Very surprised Rex did not lash out at ENHALO. That word alone made me want to entrash this puzzle. But it had help: a partial on a city of 44,000 Idahoans; a golfer who won his last tournament 25 years ago and isn't named Arnold or Jack or Sam or Tiger; TRIAMINC wtf; a directional suffix (ERN) and plural (WESTS).

So: meh.

Harryp 7:47 AM  

OK puzzle, but I don't like trying to think of personal names in the first place, and that is the whole theme of this one!

Anonypuss 7:47 AM  

I rarely dnf but I missed the bird theme entirely and ended up with MARION shANE because:

* A critic is always a RATER and sometimes a hATER (looking at you, Rex)
* CLARICE should be Clarisse but CLARIsE will do

Jeff 7:49 AM  

African geography is a gap in my knowledge, and I’ve never ever seen ABIDJAN. Ran through the alphabet and liked zAG better than JAG. Also had hATER instead of RATER and, Psycho trivia not being in my wheelhouse, couldn’t remember MARIONCRANE. As a result, the SW was rough for me. Otherwise, totally doable and enjoyable. I say “NERTS” all the time, but always thought it was “nertz.” I vaguely remember an I Love Lucy episode where Lucy had a sign that said “Nertz To Mertz,” but maybe it was “NERTS To Mertz.”

Anonymous 7:55 AM  

7:42 the canine referred to in the clue is a tooth.

K9 doc 7:58 AM  

ENAMELS ? Sorry, but no plural enamels for teeth!

George 8:09 AM  

I guess 'ManaJ' which made the cross "Triamanic', which is kind of funny but wrong.

In elementary school, I remember seeing a film about ABIDJAN--really the film was about French speaking Africa for some reason--and I remember that the city seemed cosmopolitan and exotic, with beautiful dark-skinned, French speaking Africans eating croissants and drinking cafe au lait after waterskiing in the lagoon. When I finally went there last year, my expectations were low, more on the order of Libreville or Lagos. But to my surprise, ABIDJAN was lovely and cosmopolitan, with beautiful dark-skinned French speaking Africans eating croissants and drinking cafe au lait. I didn't see anyone waterskiing, but the lagoon was much nicer than I expected. As an added bonus, I love saying ABIDJAN.

Anonymous 8:14 AM  

The first time I saw Nicki Minaj was on TV - I think it was SNL - and it was obvious we were supposed to know who she was. I didn't, so I googled "singer two boobs face on top" and came up with her name right away. True story.

Anonymous 8:14 AM  

Ridic?....The only fault in this otherwise fine puzzle.

Unknown 8:20 AM  

I waited in vain for your denunciation of "enhalo" and "ridic." Such dreck ruined the puzzle for me.

Suzie Q 8:29 AM  

Frazier's dad was Martin Crane. That coulda been a double theme.
Dnf because of the African city I couldn't spell.
This is a fine Wed. puzzle. Oh, but it's Thursday!

RJ 8:38 AM  

I agree with Isaac Mayo re yesterday's horror...and this blog is my distraction.

I had a hard time remembering the last names of several characters so it took me a while to grok the theme. Once I did I loved it.

Best for me - Clarice Starling
??? for me - BAMBI - I had LAMBS 1st time through. Should have realized that the clue was singular. MINAJ? without NICKI


OldMotherRiley 8:42 AM  

I wasn’t aware that there is a type of bird called MARTIN. Where are they native?

GHarris 8:42 AM  

Easy?This was brutal for me. Yes, some of the names were vaguely familiar but surely not Luke and Marion. And who the hell is Hel? Also started with lambs and never heard of ridic. So, bottom line I worked out a lot but, ultimately,had to enlist Google.

Fatflappy 8:45 AM  

@Anonymous 8:14, ROFL.

Anonymous 8:57 AM  

Purple martins are common rural birds. Ever seen those bird houses that look like apartment buildings on a tall pole?
Those are for martins.

Ross T 9:01 AM  


Z 9:02 AM  

ENHALO seems vaguely Hawaiian, like mahalo and aloha.

I went with JAG with all the confidence of a 13 year old at a middle school dance. Mildly surprised that it was correct.

Everybody remembers the shower scene and forgets the opening shot, the broad landscape zooming into the single window making everyone in the audience into a voyeur watching the post-nooner conversation between MARION CRANE and her hunky boyfriend Sam Loomis. Parsing that opening scene, how it sets the tone, how it establishes the seemingly professional MARION CRANE as “that type of woman,” what it says about the mores of 1950’s America and the ability of the lecherous Alfred Hitchcock to recognize that and use it in his craft. Wowser.

Keith 9:06 AM  

Love the idea of “Lady Bird” as an Oscar-themed revealer, but Jack Sparrow and Luke Martin are in there too. You’d have to work in Oscar-winning “Birdman” as well.

QuasiMojo 9:07 AM  

This was more difficult than "medium" for me. But I managed to finish it without cheating or yelling over at my neighbor in the cafe for help.

My enthusiasm for the theme was diminished somewhat by what I perceived to be mistakes. ENAMELS is just wrong. If you look it up in a dictionary there is no plural for enamel. And even if there were it would not apply to canines. There is only one enamel in your teeth. The one you have. Perhaps VENEERS would have been a better answer for that clue.

Since when is BAMBI identified with innocence? Well, apparently, new to me, it is now. Bambi Eyes is a thing (at least in the virtual Urban Dictionary.) And Bambification is allegedly a thing. Well, you learn something new every day which is what BAMBI was doing in the cartoon, a story about losing one's innocence. That too me is what Bambi symbolizes, well, at least unti he meets Godzilla.

SCOUT FINCH. Her name is Jean Louise Finch. She is nicknamed "Scout." And is listed only as "Scout" in the cast of characters (at least on IMDB. I have not read the script.) PEGGY Guggenheim was born Marguerite.

ERTE, hélas, is only "famous" these days in crossword puzzles.

Johnny Depp was actually nominated for an Oscar for PIRATES? aaarrrggghhh! And people ask why I stopped going to movies.

Pete 9:07 AM  

I was uncomfortable entering just MINAJ, as I had no way of knowing if that was her real name, a stage name whereby she would be properly called Ms. Minaj, or a stage name that's one unit, i.e. Nicki Minaj = Snoop Dogg.

There's a recently added side-kick on my one-time afternoon radio program who was brought in to attract a younger audience. He does the "truncate words" schtick, so I got to hear repug for repugnant, RIDIC for ridiculous, ad nauseam. I have a new afternoon drive time radio show.

@Isaac Mayo - Yes, there are words. They are "AR-15", "high capacity magazines".

Z 9:09 AM  

@OldMotherRiley - Purple Martins are good to attract because they eat mosquitoes and other flying insects we tend to find annoying. I used to see quite a few of those hotel looking birdhouses in lakeshore communities in West Michigan. I assume you still can.

Mohair Sam 9:22 AM  

@Lewis (7:26) - Alphadoppletoter has only two T's, turn on your spellcheck for God's sake. (great word btw)

Delightful puzz. Played medium/challenging here mainly because we needed to fill every letter for MARIONCRANE and LUKEMARTIN, and if you misspell Robatussin it fits nicely at 6D. And we need to visit Idaho and Ivory Coast.

Hand up with the lambs before BAMBI mob. And hATER before RATER because it's a far better answer (see Anonypuss (7:47)) - but ChANE just isn't a movie last name, so we guessed right. Last letter the "J" in ABIDJAN, bet we're not alone on that. Took a while to remember RIDIC, and EXURBan before EXURBIA cost lots of time too.

Don't know why I think this, but CLARICE STARLING and SCOUT seemed perfect names for their characters.

Ivory Coast is estimated to supply as much as 40% of the world's cocoa. Few pay attention to the deforestation of countries like Ivory Coast where in the past 50 years over 80% pf the rainforest has been destroyed for the sake of the cocoa bush. We need trees folks, given global warming. Next time you think of yelling at your neighbor for driving his SUV you might want to think about giving up your beloved chocolate to save the earth. (and shut up, we're a one car family with a Honda Civic)

Mr. Benson 9:30 AM  

There's no question in my mind that Rex cuts some constructors A LOT more slack than others. If this had been by, let's just say, Jeff Chen, stuff like RATER, ENHALO, HEL, AGIN, TENAM and RIDIC would have been savaged, and all the crosswordese like ERTE, MME, ACAI, ELOI, TOI and RONA would have received some kind of dig as well.

mathgent 9:37 AM  

Very enjoyable. Peter Gordon is one of the best constructors. Unfailingly smart and clean.

Happy to learn GEOstationary. An orbit synchronized with that of our planet so that it appears to be in a fixed position above us.

The grid is 16x15, 22% larger than standard.

Indelible screen memory. Anthony Hopkins saying "Quid pro quo, Clar-ice."

My wife is hooked on Ray Donovan. We don't get Showtime and are watching the series from the beginning via Netflix DVD. Delectable trash. Some very good acting, particularly by Jon Voight as Ray Donovan's father. (It just hit me. An actress in the series playing the lover of Ray Donovan's brother Bunch looked very familiar. I looked her up. She played the kidnapped girl in the pit in Silence of the Lambs.)

Biff Gnarly 9:47 AM  

Was happy to put HEL in immediately. I've been reading Norse mythology lately. Did it bother anyone else in recent Marvel Ragnarok movie that they had HEL's parentage different? Probably silly of me to have that reaction given that there wasn't much about the movie that really resembled the real Ragnarok story (for example, Hulk doesn't fight Fenrir (which was Fenris in the movie) in the real story - LOL), but in the middle of the movie I was thinking to myself "that isn't who HEL is".

Cory Calhoun 9:50 AM  

Had the *exact* idea for this type of puzzle years ago, then forgot. C'est la vie.

Sir Hillary 9:50 AM  

Wow, that is an impressive construction. And fun to solve. Top marks.

Nice northERN Canadian vibe with INUIT and LABRADOR. You can get quite a GALE up that way.

I have a good friend whose chocolate LABRADOR Retriever is named Atticus, after SCOUTFINCH's dad.

Johnny Depp's JACKSPARROW is him doing Keith Richards doing Dudley Moore's Arthur. Funny for about 10 minutes, then annoying as hell.

Favorite entry today was NERTS, which will forever remind me of Larry Linville's remarkable portrayal of Frank Burns.

@Two Ponies -- Spot on about Mrs. C. There she is again -- MARION and ROSS right there together, separated by a sort of MER du Noir.

Hilarious that TOMKITE fits the bird theme. I didn't catch that while solving. The clue is apt, though -- he shot a fabulous final round in windy conditions to win his only major, the 1992 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach.

Tita 9:51 AM  

How appropriate a theme, given that we spent several hours at the Shepaug dam yesterday watching lazy eagles looking for easy fish pickin's in the turbulent water.
(Turns out the fish become slightly dazed when the turbines spew them out into the water above the dam...they float to the top, then become lunch.)
Also saw up close a kestrel, barn owl, and red-shouldered hawk, courtesy of the local Audubon Bird rescue lady.

Yep...I wondered what more there was to the theme when I saw KITE and SWAN.

@lms...I'd join you on that snake walking tour!

Wasn't too annoyed by all the people,since I was mostly looking for bird names. God thing, since I never even heard of the LUKEMARTIN movie, much less the character.

Isn't CRANE a brand of BONDPAPER?

Fine bird-rich puzzle, but a disappointing Thursday.

Anonymous 9:53 AM  

You are so right, Mr. Benson. Rex threw all softballs to his pal. BTW, remember Ensign Benson from “Don’t Give up the Ship”?

Tita 9:55 AM  

And BATHMAT is the most cockamamie c@me/answer pair ever.

Hey...COCKamamie...another bird reference.

JOHN X 9:55 AM  

This was a Thursday puzzle? I never noticed a theme until I was told about it. Last names are all birds? Ok, I guess so. All Oscar nominated character roles? If you say so.

Whatever happened to complex themed rebuses on Thursdays?

GILL I. 10:11 AM  

I suppose the AHA came with JACK SPARROW. I already had plucky SCOUT FINCH in, so I did my hmmmm, I bet this is for the birds.
Could not remember LUKE's last name. I reluctantly saw "Coming Home" because everyone said you had to. I despise Jane Fonda. I hated her then because of the idiotic things she said about Vietnam. How ironic that she falls in love with a disabled Marine vet, fresh home from Nam. I look at her now and wonder how she opens her mouth to eat. Hollywood.....
I loved Johnny Depp in every movie he ever made. There is something about that face of his. Remember his Edward Scissorhands? I also love Jodie Foster. I know she's probably better known for her Silence of the Lambs role but her "Nell" role was one of my favorites.
There was stuff in here that made me wince. I will never say RIDIC even though I love adorbs. ENHALO is found where? Would Emerson use that word? I also sighed a bit with old stuff like ALENE RASP ERTE INUIT TOI MER MOM. The cluing felt boring to me. No play here.
I'm glad @Rex liked it. I thought it was a bit on the ho hum side for a Thursday. Maybe because it made me think of GI JANE.
P.S. Thanks for all the awwwws yesterday. It made me laugh. I showed the posts to my husband and he said SHEEEESH!

Steve 10:15 AM  

Canines, as in eye teeth

Nancy 10:17 AM  

A DNF with the 6th and 7th square unfilled. That's because I too had LAMBS at 4D and therefore had LA--MAT for the tile floor cover. I never heard of the cough medicine and I never heard of Loki's daughter.

But the puzzle is RIDIC. I say NERTS to RIDIC. And I say NERTS to so much else. I mean when you have a theme that calls upon people to remember the entire names of characters in movies (I can remember Scarlett O'Hara and Rhett Butler and not much else), should you add to the misery by throwing in more PPP like MINAJ and ROSS and ERTE and ELOI. You should not.

I also think there should be a rule that if the constructor doesn't know a name off the top of his head, the solver shouldn't have to either. I mean maybe Peter knew CLARISE STARLING and JACK SPARROW. but do you really think he remembered LUKE MARTIN or MARION SHANE? I rather suspect he didn't.

Normally I'm a rATER as a critic, but today I'm a HATER. Didn't like this one at all. Bet OISK doesn't either.

Z 10:18 AM  

@Mr. Benson - Can we give this canard a rest? Oscar nominated roles, full names, last name also a bird, four going down symmetrically, two intersecting with the fifth, a grid spanner. This is a tight theme set. Yes, there is short fill, but no Yma Sumac or Yoko Ono. No RRNs or RCDs. We do get an ERN and an ERTÉ, but hardly enough to distract from the quality of the theme. Take any puzzle Rex has trashed and see if it compares favorably to this one? Yes, he is tough, even caustic, but rarely inaccurate. You can disagree with matters of taste, but I challenge you to find a flaw he has pointed out that hasn’t been a flaw. Constructors have two choices in my opinion, have hurt feelings or construct better puzzles. “Rex doesn’t like constructor x” is excuse making.

Nancy 10:20 AM  

Oops. I see from one of the comments that it's MARION CRANE crossing RATER crossing CLARICE. I had MARION SHANE crossing HATER crossing CLARISE. The problem with PPP in a nutshell.

Anonymous 10:31 AM  

I'm starting to feel like the NYT should have a cultural context warning system. Like, when a puzzle is all about archaic films, the grid should be orange so we know to stay away from it. Whenever I see "Frozen" or "Game of Thrones" in a clue, I already tune out, but this was impossible for non-movie goers. Cities in Ivory Coast and Idaho? No problem. But brand news for children's flu remedies and film roles. No way.

jannielouise 10:38 AM  

Yay for birds and movies, but I too found the theme untidy owing to ERN, TOMKITE and BONDPAPER (which at least for me is too closely linked to "Crane".)

Could tell "Put a ring on it" was something only a constructor could love, and tried to get it over with by slapping in ENHoop - oops. Instead it was the still un-dead ENHALO...

Never heard of TRIAMINIC. Is it advertised on TV?

Unknown 10:42 AM  

TOM KITE did win his only major shooting even par on the last day of the 1992 US Open at Pebble Beach/ The wind was so strong he hit a 6-iron to a downhill par-3 of less than 100 yards, into the wind.

JC66 10:44 AM  

I'm surprised that not one of the negative commenters said "This puzzle is for the birds."

Pete 10:45 AM  

@Z - That's the old story about Purple Martins. In fact, the Purlpe Martin's favorite food is the dragon fly, or in a pinch, a damsel fly. The favorite food of the dragon & damsel flies are mosquitoes and mosquito larva. Attracting Purple Martins only leads to greater mosquito populations. If you have a mosquito problem, just push bamboo shoots in the ground leaving the top 3' above ground, giving the dragon flies a place to perch.

Z 10:57 AM  

@Pete - I can’t believe they lied to me!!!!!! I now know more about Purple Martins than Muse knows about snakes, so it’s all good.

GILL I. 11:08 AM  

@JC66...I think I sorta did in my first paragraph...;-)

jb129 11:21 AM  

Loved it.

jb129 11:22 AM  

I loved it especially Chocolate Labadors.

Anonymous 11:22 AM  

I feel so dumb....have heard and probably used the phrase re-damn-diculous for years. Thus ended with REDIC and TRIAMINEC. I must have been exposed to ads for this cold medicine at some point but had no idea if TRIA-anything was a thing.

Also, ENHALO??? As a verb? Said no person ever.

Still enjoyable but ENHALO is RIDIC.

Pete 11:31 AM  

@Z - It's the damned bird-house-condo manufacturers cartel. Decades of brainwashing the public with fake news left everyone believing a lie and buying their death-product.

Joseph Michael 11:34 AM  

When the theme consists of proper nouns, it is unfair or at least unkind to load up the rest of the grid with even more proper nouns -- nearly 20 of them.

Are we really supposed to know brand names like TRIAMINIC?

Then we have "words" like RIDIC, AGIN, and ENHALO to add to the fun plus lotsa painful three-letter junk.

My only chuckle was realizing that 52D does not refer to a calf nursing.

I don't mean to be a CRAB, but this puzzle kinda STANK.

RooMonster 11:37 AM  

Hey All !
The PPP today was SKEWING RIDIC. Also, RIDIC is ridiculous. With all these ADORBS ET ALII answers like these, is a singular K far behind?

PPP theme. LUKEMARTIN by EMIL and PEGGY, crossing ERTE, SCOUTFINCH by ROSS and ALENE and BAMBI and an oddly clued TOI, TRIAMINIC MASERATI crossing only-last-name MINAJ and ugh RIDIC, etc. And Hockey MOM??

All that really reduced the pleasure of this puz for me. ABIDJAN was a straight Google look-up, never would've got that, and by that part of the puz, the ole brain BEMOANed too much to figure out BEMOANS, so left that as BE_O__S, along with BON_PAPER and MARIONsRA_E.

RATER this a HEL ThursPuz. NERTS.


Unknown 11:49 AM  

Exactly the same here!

JC66 11:52 AM  


I didn't read your comment as negative, so your "for the birds" didn't resonate that way for me.

Carola 11:58 AM  

A little birdie told me.... After JACK SPARROW, I recognized the significance of SCOUT FINCH and saw that we were in a sort of Hollywood aviary, which allowed me to write in the last names I didn't know: MARTIN, STARLING, and CRANE (after considering the possibility of a misspelled CRowe). Had the same thought as @Rex about that KITE lurking down there in the shrubbery.
I loved the appearance of yesterday's Valentiine chocolate as a LABRADOR!
With a brother-in-law who did two Peace Corps stints in West Africa, I was familiar with ABIDJAN.
As a grade-schooler, my daughter's cough syrup of choice was grape Dimetap, which we discovered her secretly nipping at. An ineffectual stern talking-to was followed by hiding it.

@puzzlehoarder - Me, too, for "Atticus....FINCH!"
@mathgent - Thank you for explaining GEOstationary.

TomAz 12:56 PM  

@Nancy: "I also think there should be a rule that if the constructor doesn't know a name off the top of his head, the solver shouldn't have to either."

I second the motion.

Stephen Minehart 12:57 PM  

This was an impressive grid, and an interesting premise, but is was no fun at all for me. I haven't seen the Jon Voight movie and probably never will. I have seen Psycho a few times, but even if I saw it last night, I probably wouldn't be able to come up with Marion Crane. Those proper names Naticked me all over the grid.

Chip Hilton 12:58 PM  

What @JOHN X said. I prefer something with trickery of some sort on a Thursday.

Nice puzzle, for a tough Wednesday (But could’ve done without RIDIC and ENHALO).

Masked and Anonymous 1:01 PM  

@muse: yep. Snakes are cooler. Livin in rattler roundup country, I highly recommend still bringin them binoculars along for yer snake tour, tho. Wonder if there were a lotta Oscar nominated snakes? Ron Eely? Ava Garter? Humphrey Boagart? Monty Python? Kevin Spacey? But, I digress … Nice LAT WedPuz, btw.

HEL yes! East/west symmetry meat! 15x16 more-for-yer-money grid! Entertwined themers! ARFS! TOMs! KITEs! ERNs! CRABS! EWErs! LABRADORS! There's yer zoo-RODEO. This puppy has it all, dude. thUmbsUp.

RIDIC. har

ABIDJAN sounds eerily unfamiliar to m&e. And it's got 4 megs worth of peoples. Must make up a song, to help me remember it …

Prettiest town I've never gone.
Vipers there stay off yer lawn

Thanx, Mr. Gordon. U always do very good work. This one was good, but not one of yer all-time best, IM&AO. Try another one, with the snakes … ?

Masked & Anonymo5Us

" … I sit alone most every night
Watch those ivories coast out of sight
Don't I wish they were playing my song


Unknown 1:01 PM  

There also is an ANI and a MOA lurking in the SW, in addition to the ERN, SWAN, and KITE.

Trombone Tom 1:23 PM  

Damn with faint praise. The puzzle was somewhat amusing and the theme coherent, but I for one look for something more challenging on Thursday.

Fie on ENHALO and RIDIC.

Count me, too, among those confused between ABIDJAN and Azerbaijan.

Purple martin "apartments" were rife in Indiana when we lived there.

Teedmn 1:25 PM  

Bah, BAMBI, I'm with @Nancy and the silence of the LAMBS at 4D. I actually did fix that at the very last second. My lATHMAT (is lATH referring to some kind of fiber?) was giving me wrinkles from my scrunched up nose, as was the French pronoun TOs. So fixing that smoothed several problems out for me. But then there was my "oops" on Nicki MoNAJ. Just a stoopid mistake.

Not having heard of L_KE MARTIN or E_IL and the Detectives was making the "bag man?" at 16A hard to suss out. If it's EvIl, would the bag man be an MVP? Doesn't fit with L_KE. If the guy's name is LaKE (why not? It's a movie), would the bag man be ARP? But ErIL sounds RIDIC. LUKE/UMP/EMIL, ah!!

And after all that, MoNAJ. Arg, as Jack Sparrow's crew members might say. Peter Gordon got me again, as he does on many a Fireball puzzle.

@Gill I, me too on Nell. I love that movie.

Teedmn 1:28 PM  

And then there's M&A's Coeur d'Alene, Abilene, ABIDJAN tribute song. Primo, thanks for the laugh!

OldMotherRiley 1:30 PM  

Thanks to @Z and Anonymous for information on martins.

OldMotherRiley 1:36 PM  

And thanks to Pete for further info on martins!

Stanley Hudson 1:38 PM  

M&A, thanks for the parody of a very fine George Hamilton IV. I am headed to YouTube to hear the original.

Anonymous 1:42 PM  

Should we not expect more from a Thursday NYT? This was nothing more than a proper noun assault.

Anonymous 1:46 PM  


Mr. Benson is right. All the fill he cited would've had Rex screaming had the constructor not been an FOS (friend of Sharp).
And Mods, I'm not sure I UNDERSTAND WHY YOU LET @Z's response fly. Mr. Benson gave very specific examples to buttress his argument. @ Z only carried Rex's water with banal generalities about Rex's criticism. (the facts Z presented in Rex's defense are not germane to the criticism Mr. Benson was making. ) I don't begrudge Z his opinion, but I fail to see how he refuted. Mr. Benson's contention.

semioticus (shelbyl) 1:57 PM  

Zero fun for me. Actually no, a little fun in the beginning, before the Proper Noun Minefields made me go crazy. TRIAMINIC-HEL-MASERATIS-AGIN/MER-MINAJ-ANITA-RIDIC-ENID section is an abomination. Sorry. I haven't even talked about ALENE/ENHALO yet. Horrible fill.

I wish that he had foregone one theme answer/replaced it with a revealer to open it up a little bit. I don't mind really tough Tuesdays, as long as it gets me something in the end. What does this puzzle offer us as a reward? A funny revealer? A linked-theme? Nope. Nothing. Zilch.

Also, if you have filled your grid with junk/Proper Nouns, throw some help in the solver's way. I haven't heard anyone call Nicki Minaj just Minaj. Even that, which should be an easy answer for me, took a long while.

Are there good things about this puzzle? Yeah. Some of the clues. BONDPAPER, EXURBIA. ARMCURL. That's it.

GRADE: D+, 1.9 stars.

beaglelover 2:04 PM  

What is PPP?

Kimberly 2:08 PM  

As Rex gets kinder I find myself growing more impatient with NYT.

That was supposed to be a Thursday theme? Was there a title somewhere for the revealer? Not in the NYT app. Not even if you clicked the info button. I never even saw they were all supposed to be bird names; it was just a bunch of movie characters. Barely a theme. Thursdays and their cleverness (or at least attempted cleverness) are the best part of the week other than Sunday. I feel cheated.

Joe Bleaux 2:15 PM  

As a rule, I'd say any theme built on PPPs is strictly for the birds, but excepting the two egregious clunkers already cited (RIDIC and ENHALO, if there's any question), Pete Gordon pulled it off. @Masked and Anonymous, thanks for the George Hamilton IV earworm, and bravo for the lyricism: "Watch those ivories coast ... " Har! Double har! Ain't nobody gonna top that today, bud.

semioticus (shelbyl) 2:16 PM  


It's very rare for Rex to be kinder to a puzzle than both Jeff Chen and the Crosswordfiend crew. This is one of those days.

I agree with the being cheated sentiment. If you are going off-brand, at least give us something good. Yes, you might include a theme for a Friday puzzle, but make sure that puzzle has a good fill. Don't sacrifice quality just to have done something.

BarbieBarbie 2:24 PM  

Did anyone else see an Oscar statuette in the black squares?

Mike 2:46 PM  

THIS puzzle you like? What a load of garbage!!! GEO ARFS ERN HEL AGIN NERTS TENAM KIT and then all the fictional names and ABIDJAN??? Gimme a f&cking break Rex, if you hadn’t known the names you would’ve spazzed on this. Seems like you like a puzzle if it’s easy for you. This thing sucked.

puzzlehoarder 2:46 PM  

I don't understand people who criticize a constructor for putting material into a puzzle that they don't know. That's their job. If they only produced puzzles of what you yourself know wouldn't that be boring? A puzzle that requires you to use what you know to get what you don't know is a good puzzle. Puzzlingly should always involve the imagination. If you don't like thinking I understand that TV Guide has a puzzle. Were I the constructor of today's puzzle all this whining would be music to my ears.

Mike 2:48 PM  

I couldn’t agree more. Hated it. This is the type of puzzle a non-daily solver would just give up on and hate.

pmdm 3:12 PM  

Z: Today it seems that Mr. Parker did cut an enormous amount of slack. Mr Gordon himself knows of 5 puzzles using the same theme, three of which were published in the NY Times. Usually Mr. Sharp is quick to scream about something like that. Not today. Why?

I don't even remember names of characters in movies that I've watched (like Psycho), so I simply went to my reference books and got the names. After that, the puzzle went pretty smooth, as you might predict. For me, this does not make for a fun Thursday puzzle.But it's perfectly fair to run a puzzle with a theme like this on occasion for the enjoyment of those who like this type of theme. I just hope it remains rare.

JTHurst 3:15 PM  

This puzzle was s Morton’s Fork. Epitomized by 52d. The answer could be either, ate at, or what Janet Jackson exhibited at a Super Bowl halftime show.

CashPo' 3:23 PM  

Bill Clinton didn't ENHALO.

Anonymous 3:30 PM  


"I don't understand people who criticize a constructor for putting material into a puzzle that they don't know."

Depends on the material and its concentration.

"Puzzlingly should always involve the imagination."

A proper noun barrage doesn't ask for your imagination.

Aketi 3:39 PM  

@George, when I used to work a lot in West Africa, ABIDJAN used to be where I’d get stuck for a week because of canceled connecting flights. I never saw anyone waterskiing, but I did visit the beaches where the orange sand, green palm trees, and blue sky were so vivid they sometimes almost hurt the eye. This was 20 years ago and crime rates were high, but I managed to enjoy going out for croissants and café au lairs in the morning and dinner and dancing at night without any problems.

@Quasi, You made me laugh about BAMBI and Godzilla. BAMBI is actually kind of a horrific story of one disaster after another, mostly involving man as the culprit. George Carlin does a riff on zombie apocalyptic type disasters in “Natural Disaster - BAMBI is Dead.”

@M&A, thanks for the lyrics today. ABIDJAN also has mambas in addition to vipers. I prefer dancing to mambos in the open air nightclubs. It’s either flight or fight for me when it comes to mambas.

Bob Mills 3:41 PM  

Almost gave up, then finished it without an error. Amazing, since I never go to the movies any more.

QED 3:41 PM  

It would be nice if, on occasion, NY Times crossword puzzles would have at least a passing relationship with standard English. Evidence: ENHALO. And I suppose RIDIC, given the other comments here. I do the Washington Post puzzle every day as well, and I find it much more enjoyable than the Times puzzle because it uses clues which typically reflect normal English usage. NO one on this or any other planet has EVER said ENHALO. I can accept and even enjoy clues which are fairly tangential to the core meaning of a word. But not words that are so far away from reasonable usage as this one. It is positively endeplorable.

semioticus (shelbyl) 3:46 PM  


If it's any consolation to you, I also whine about stuff that I know but others might not.

When your theme is five movie characters, cutting down on other proper nouns is not a bad idea. Generally speaking.

Banana Diaquiri 4:07 PM  


not a themer just because: TOM waited for a windy day to head to the ball field to fly his KITE

Anonymous 4:09 PM  

This puzzle was a Morton’s Fork. Epitomized by 52d. The answer could either be, ate it or what Janet Jackson exhibited at her Super Bowl halftime show.

Z 4:15 PM  

@anon1:46 - I thought I was pretty specific, although on re-reading I see I elided over some oft discussed points. Being over my limit and being quite certain that this is beating a dead horse for lots of people, can you find a single example where Rex’s criticism did not have support from the puzzle? Being hyperbolic isn’t the question, either. I mean a tight theme with five theme answers with only moderately over-used fill that Rex trashed. We’ll wait.

As for why the mods let my comment through, didn’t anyone tell you? I’ve been ENHALOed.

jberg 4:17 PM  

I never thought of BAMBI instead of lAMBs, so I finished with lATH MAT, and a blank square in the middle of 24A because I didn't think 21D could possibly be ReSS. This was one of those cases where I thought I'd finished because I forgot that I had to go back and fix something.

OTOH, I loved the birds, which helped me change hATER to RATER.

@BarbieBarbie, good point about the statuette!

I think RIDIC is ADORBS; on the other hand, though, ADORBS is RIDIC.

jberg 4:18 PM  

@puzzlehoarder, they're real enough; see this page.

Anonymous 4:19 PM  

Small nitpick. The Inuit language is Inuktitut (In-ook-tee-toot). Inuit is not a language.

Owsley Stanley 4:26 PM  

@ BarbieBarbie: "Did anyone else see an Oscar statuette in the black squares?"

Only after I took the drugs.

sanfranman59 4:26 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 4:27 4:09 1.07 72.0% Medium-Challenging
Tue 6:40 5:47 1.15 76.9% Medium-Challenging
Wed 8:12 6:00 1.37 90.9% Challenging
Thu 8:41 10:09 0.86 27.5% Easy-Medium

I'm a little surprised that Rex didn't say anything about RIDIC, ARFS or ENHALO.

Snert Is Nertz 4:34 PM  

Hobson's choice, Morton's fork, Buridan's ass . . . What's the diff? They're all cray cray but also totes fab, if a bit presh.

OISK 4:40 PM  

Add me to the haters (as Nancy suspected) . Like @Bob Mills I almost gave up several times, but unlike him I DNF on what for me was an impossible cross of a rapper (MinaJ?? not MonaJ, or MenaJ? I went with Monaj. Thought maybe it meant Mona J.) with a brand name of a children's medicine - Triaminic? Triamonic? Triamenic? Brand names crossing rappers. Perfect. And movie characters. I've seen Psycho, but had no idea that the character was Marion Crane, and without "enhalo(??)" had a tough time, but got it. Scout Finch? Scout was not her name, it was her nickname. I remembered "Scout," but took forever to come up with Finch. Clarice Starling???? Luke Martin? Never saw "Coming Home." All meaningless (to me) pop culture references, probably not remembered by most people who SAW the movies. Never saw the Depp films either, but somehow recalled Jack Sparrow. Cute clue for Labrador though.

I didn't mind Wednesday's but Tuesday? The made-up words I 've never seen get murse and murse.

Fourth DNF in the past three weeks - these pop culture failures come in waves....but this one , with its meaningless (to me) theme answers was the worst of the lot.
Ridic???? Yeah, if that's a word, that's what it was.

puzzlehoarder 5:00 PM  

@anonymous 3:30, You're missing my point entirely.
"Depends on the material and it's concentration."

No it doesn't I completely reject this idea that entries should be categorized and that the proportions make any difference. An entry is an entry. You either you can understand the clue or you don't. Wether an entry is an obscure name, slang no one uses or a contrived abbreviation makes no difference whatsoever. It's an unknown and you have to figure it out.

"A proper noun barrage doesn't ask for your imagination."

Maybe it's asking for some basic knowledge. If there's anything I've learned from the NYT puzzles it's that the "proper nouns" they're asking for are 101 level knowledge for whatever category they're taken from. The clue usually has something relevant to help you out. If anything the editor does too much spoon feeding. Any clue that has a question mark is cryptically telegraphing the answer. You have to use your imagination to read it properly.

@semioticis (Shelby), Well at least I know this is you. Yeah they were all movie characters. I didn't pay that close of attention. I don't care about themes. I just knew it was full names and the surname was also a type of bird. I thought TOMKITE was part of the theme.

If you really must whine I suggest you try out the "clue finder" feature over at xwordinfo. Punch in the word "cheese", it should give you s nice selection as an accompaniment. Not the word or fact finder. It's the second one that covers clues. It's a great way to brush up on whatever category you're weak in.

Anonymous 5:05 PM  


"Ideologue" rant for IDEALOGUE (Idealogue was properly clued).

jberg 5:17 PM  

@Nancy from yesterday: By golly, you're right! I was too busy this morning to throw out yesterday's paper, so I was able to make the comparison, and the squares are smaller indeed. I guess I didn't notice because when I don't have my reading glasses handy I have to take off my regular glasses and squint, so they always seem smallish.

I still maintain that it did not turn pink when I finished, however!

JC66 5:26 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
JC66 5:27 PM  


Late yesterday someone noted that @roo pointed out that the puzzle was 17X17 but ran in the same space that a 15X15 would. Therefore the squares in the paper were slightly smaller.

Joe Dipinto 5:37 PM  

I liked the fill in this puzzle *a lot*. ACREAGE, NUCLEIC, MINAJ, ABIDJAN, ARM CURL, SWANKY, MASERATIS, BOND PAPER..all excellent. My one quibble with the themers is that four out of the five are pretty iconic roles in filmdom, the outlier being LUKE MARTIN. I filled in the other four immediately, then thought "Who T F remembers the name of Jon Voight's 'Coming Home' character?" Has anyone seen that movie more than once?

But aside from that it was top-notch, imo.

Two Ponies 6:17 PM  

So much ado today over enhalo. I agree it's a strange word no one would actually say in a conversation but I'm fairly certain we have seen this more than once in the past.

I don't miss the foul name-calling we had that started the blog moderation but I have to admit that there were times when it was amusing. Now I feel like I am being scrutinized through a two-way mirror and it feels creepy.

Anonymous 6:40 PM  


"...I completely reject this idea that entries should be categorized and that the proportions make any difference."

The question is one of concentration and obscurity. An area laden with obscure trivia, terms and/or names can render the grid useless.

"Maybe it's asking for some basic knowledge."

Once again, proper nouns don't require imagination and the heavier the count the less the puzzle requires it.

La Moda 9:22 PM  

ENHALO and RIDIC seemed silly. The dog owner here was flummoxed by ENAMELS for canine coats, since we never refer to that part of the tooth in the plural. Functions like proper noun without an article.

addisondewitt 11:38 PM  

Scout Finch, Clarice Starling and Marion Crane we’re all fine. The Luke Martin was kind of ridic because there is nothing iconic about that character and his name. Drafter was straining to find a fourth Oscar bird. Oh and “ridic” is fine not bad fill. It’s a thing people say.

kitshef 11:26 AM  

DNF at TRIAMeNIC/MeNAJ. If that particular horrible crossing occurs again, I'll probably DNF again.

Also, that's CAPTAIN Jack Sparrow.

Burma Shave 10:17 AM  


It’s SKEWING MORE than insane,
that “SWANKY” motel that she ATE_AT,
CRABs and BEMOANS using that BATHMAT.


rondo 12:15 PM  

MORE Thursday puzzles like this, please. Yes, a few answers came by crosses, but that’s OK. Had the _AMB_ and like others put in lAMBs, that area was the last fixed and finished.

Of course MARIONCRANE was portrayed by yeah baby Janet Leigh. Nicki MINAJ DNQ, IMHO; too much ACREAGE back there, and her one chance to speak she called Bon Iver: bahn eye-verr.

Yeah, a coupla answers were RIDIC, but what the HEL.

spacecraft 12:31 PM  

Cool puz. The fact that they're all birds is a mind-blowing extra that I didn't even notice till getting here. Too many long gimmes to mount a serious challenge--yet there was a true Natick at #63. Couldn't get what "Tear" was with _AG. After a couple of alphabet runs I took a flyer with J: lucky me!

Again asymmetric, but no matter. At least it's l/r symmetrical. Theme & execution boffo; fill is RIDIC only in a couple places. DOD contest is fierce today; Janet as MARION, Jodie as CLARICE--but I'm afraid Nicki MINAJ wins. And how else (MORE?) could we score this one? --Birdie!

leftcoastTAM 3:31 PM  

Easy-medium? Uhh...not here.

TRIANIMIC? HEL? ENHALO? ABIDJAN? EMIL? JAG (as "tear")? Also, didn't associate LABRADOR with "chocolate". And that's just the non-theme stuff.

As to the theme, had trouble with JACK SPARROW and LUKEMARTIN, despite what should have been enabling crosses. (Would add the semi-thematic KITE and ERN to the bird line-up.)

PPP's, including a couple of the themers, were more than a bit too much to deal with today..

strayling 7:38 PM  

Far too many names I didn't know for me to finish without guessing (pride prevents me from googling).

Missing LABRADOR did me in in the SW, but it was a great clue - pairs nicely with the upper canine ENAMELS.

Plus, my favourite bird got a mention so I'm left feeling happy.

Anonymous 8:27 PM  

Agree with others that there were too many proper nouns to be fair puzzle. Good for the movie buffs and Thespians, but fatal to many of the rest of us. And my first dnf for the week so that hurts a little.

centralscrewtinizer 1:34 AM  

Hmmm, two actors playing creepy roles sharing these letters.....
Anthony ___kins. Perkins and Hopkins. Who knew?

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