Very muscular in slang / FRI 6-15-18 / Surname at Daily Planet / Hired gun in underworld lingo / Early conqueror of Valencia / River running down to sunless sea in Kubla Khan / Border river in Midwest / Second-most common family name in Vietnam

Friday, June 15, 2018

Constructor: Sam Ezersky

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium (6:17 ... on the slower side for me, but this was a 4 a.m. solve and I was bleary-eyed and mostly just poking at it)

THEME: none

Word of the Day: LA LIGA (2D: Spanish pro soccer association) —
The Primera División, commonly known as La Liga and as La Liga Santander for sponsorship reasons with Santander, is the men's top professional association footballdivision of the Spanish football league system. Administrated by the Liga de Fútbol Profesional(LFP), La Liga is contested by 20 teams, with the three lowest-placed teams relegated to the Segunda División and replaced by the top two teams in that division plus the winner of a play-off.
A total of 62 teams have competed in La Liga since its inception. Nine teams have been crowned champions, with Real Madrid winning the title a record 33 times and Barcelona 25 times. After Athletic Bilbao claimed several titles in the league's early years, Real Madrid dominated the championship from the 1950s through to the 1980s, when Athletic and neighbours Real Sociedad each won the league twice. From the 1990s onwards, Barcelona (15 titles) and Real Madrid (9 titles) were both prominent, though La Liga also saw other champions, including Atlético MadridValencia, and Deportivo de La Coruña. In the 2010s, Atlético Madrid became increasingly strong, forming a trio alongside Real Madrid and Barcelona which occupied the podium places exclusively. (wikipedia)
• • •

Great run through the middle. The rest was just OK. Got off to a very bad start with 1D: Perfumery compound (ACETAL), which ... how many damn ACE- words are there. -TATE, -TONE, -TYL, and now this? If it's perfume I know ESTER and ATTAR and maybe ENOL (is that related to perfume?), and then I'm out. ACETAL just isn't fun. But LA LIGA is, and it's football (i.e. soccer) mania now with the World Cup going on, so I enjoyed seeing this answer. I also weirdly enjoyed remembering that LANCE BASS exists (25A: Singer with the 2007 autobiography "Out of Sync"), though I'm reminded of that on a pretty regular bas(s)is, because I some how own this truck:

And another one like it featuring a different member of N*SYNC (Joey, I think). I used to have a buy-silly-crap problem. It's somewhat better now.

[35A: Perform a disco dance]

Biggest problems of the day involved LOP-EARED (14A: Like the Trix rabbit), which I couldn't see/parse well at all, and then DNA BANK (15D: Modern sort of "Noah's Ark"), which is a term I'm not that familiar with and so once I got to DNA-ANK, I made it a TANK—a DNA TANK. Like a FISH TANK, but ... for DNA. I almost made it a ZANK because of BOZO at 24A: Classic clown name, but then weirdly BOZO ended up being the answer to 24-Down, which was also [Classic clown name]. So I had BOTO / TANK for a bit. I was totally prepared to believe that there was a clown so "classic" I had never heard of him. Sounded vaguely Italian. BOTO, the vaguely Italian classic clown. Why not?

  • 56A: "Star Wars" villain (KYLO REN) — lots of trouble with this because ... I read "Star Trek"; I blame AGA KHAAAAAAAAAN! Hey, waaaaaaaait a minute. KHAN is in the clue for ALPH (6D: River running "down to a sunless sea," in "Kubla KHAN"), an answer that actually crosses AGA KHAN. That ... seems like an oversight. Shouldn't replicate a conspicuous clue word like that.
  • 33D: Investor's purchase outside an exchange, informally (OTC STOCK) — I'm used to seeing OTC clued this way, but man it looks/sounds dumb all written out fully like this.
  • 47D: Commercial lead-in to X (UBER) — I do not understand this clue. What is UBER X? Is X a variable, so it's actually UBER-[anything]? Oh ... looks like UberX is some subset of Uber (the rideshare service). That is a pretty niche clue. I've never taken an Uber in my life, so all the  Uber subtypes ... yeah, I haven't bothered to read up on those. 
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Passing Shot 6:20 AM  

Admittedly, I have been doing crosswords for only around 2 years, but this is the worst week I can recall in terms of quality. Maybe tomorrow will bring some enjoyment. I did like DO THE HUSTLE though.

RJ 6:34 AM  

Saturday hard for me. Had about 6 fill ins after my first run through with mistakes like PHASER instead of IONGUN. It's one of those days when the cluing sends me down the wrong road almost every time. I thought many of the clues were quite good, I just didn't get them.

Highlights for me

Joan armatrading in the blog - love her
I Was in college during 75-79 and we definitely DIDTHEHUSTLE
FTROOP was a show we bonded over as kids, although I'm sure that the portrayal of native Americans was cringe worthy
DNABANK took me forever to parse

I hope to have a more successful day at work than I did with this. TGIF.

Lewis 6:42 AM  

Solid puzzle. Just the right resistance for Friday, IMO, some nice answers (SWOLE, DOLLOPS, WABASH), out-of-wheelhouse answers to overcome (LANCE BASS, KYLOREN, ALPH), and some clever clues (NIT, COURT, FTROOP). I also liked the answers that started with unusual letter combinations (DNA BANK, G CLEFS, F TROOP, OTC STOCK, CTRL) to make me think I was on the wrong track.

Neither slain with difficulty nor let down by being let off too easy, that is, the puzzle was neither SWOLE nor sawft. Thank you for a very satisfying solve, Sam!

Z 7:15 AM  

Some of the PPP took some work. LANCE BASS was 66% filled before I remembered him, while some of it popped right in. SCARLET A and KYLO REN made the SW feel like a Monday. Hand up for having no clue on LOP EARED. I had -O-EARED before I got that one. Paired with AGA KHAN made the NE crunchy.

@RJ - Only vague memories of F TROOP, but I do seem to recall that the indigenous people were at least portrayed as smart. But, yeah, probably cringe worthy.

@JC66 - Nooooooo......

I’m surprised Rex didn’t mention that Erik Agard just got the gig doing the Tucson Star puzzle.

puzzlehoarder 7:20 AM  

Other than the NW corner this was an easy puzzle. I got off to a slow start trying to make EERIE work at 1A. CACTI and ICEMAN quickly got me on the right track but an ACETYL write over blocked the award answer. I'm unfamiliar with the Insync guy and I was dense on the ETCETC clue and was convinced it was a single unknown word. It's no excuse but compared to any other clue on the xwordinfo list for ETCETC today's clue was much more abstruse.

I should have switched to the NE sooner. When I did 5 of the 7 downs dropped right in and all 4 across entries became gimmes. This was a sign of how the rest of the puzzle would be. Turning into the rest of it was briefly slowed by SWOLE and the two cross referenced entries but the rest was early week easy.

My personal highhight was getting PHOENICIA just off the EN. I know it's just basic knowledge but I almost spelled it correctly on first try. I had PHOENICEA which is very close and IONGUN corrected it very quickly.

I mopped up the mess in the NW when AGATHA became obvious due to the HA at the end of it.

Despite my own stumbles this was a fun easy solve.

kitshef 7:23 AM  

You plop a couple of gimmes like DOOMSDAY CLOCK and DO THE HUSTLE in your grid and you are just making things too easy on a Friday.

That said, DNF at PHOENeCIA/eRVING. Knew both but not the spelling of either.

Not so for LANCE BASS, a name heretofore unknown to me. Wiki consult reveals he was a member of NSYNC, a band I was aware of but naming the members?? Bands I can name the members of: Beatles, The Jackson 5, The Who, ABBA, Green Day … that may be it for bands with more than two members.

Loren Muse Smith 7:36 AM  

Most enjoyable, funniest misread of a clue to date: 46D “World capital with a nearly cat-free city center.” I was marveling one that this was even doable and two that Sam had sussed out this little gem of a fact. What. They have a bunch of dogs patrolling? I was thinking border collies ‘cause they seem to have that fifth-grade Safety Patrol Mentality, ya know, with those orange sashes and official-looking patches and stuff.

DOLLOP. What a great word. When it comes to dollops of sour cream on my potato or Cool Whip on my joyless sugar-free jello, mine are pretty swole. The first dollop. So are the second and third dollops when the first one doesn’t go as far as I had thought.

But I feel embarrassed saying SWOLE. It feels Fifty Shades of Grayish. I just went to GNC to get this stuff Procera that’s supposed to help with mood, and the guy there was so swole it was cartoonish. He said Can I help you? and I deadpanned, Yeah. I saw you from the mall. Tough guy, right? Wanna arm wrestle? He starred a minute (they always do – this is a line I use anytime I see a swole guy – wondering maybe if I’m some kind of professional lady arm-wrestler) and then he laughed. But seriously – those guys who work in GNC are flat SWOLE.

Rex – Joey Fatone was another Nsync guy who was on DWTS. He said once that his name parsed to Fat One, and I was so astonished that I hadn’t noticed this first.

DO THE HUSTLE. In the late ‘70s, Tim N (senior drum major and wicked smart senior) showed up unexpectedly, so excited, wearing lime green pants, and wanting to show me this new dance style they were calling disco. I just remember wanting him and his pants to leave. I do have another Tim N story that I’ll save for later.

Kept seeing FT. ROOP for the TV show, even thought I used to watch it.

One last thing. NEUROTIC/DOOMSDAY CLOCK. In Chattanooga, we lived across the street from Mrs. Troxler, who was convinced the end of the world was coming soon. Mom told us we weren’t to talk about this to anyone. Mrs. Troxler never left the house, so she was this delicious mystery. One time I stole a salad plate-size cockle shell out of one of her flower beds, and Mom made me return it and apologize. I remember being a little crestfallen that she seemed pretty normal and was quite gracious about having been stolen from.

Sam – very elegant touch with the matching clues for the BOZO/BOBO cross.

BroJo 7:38 AM  

Got the middle crosses in lightning time. But the NE corner was never gonna happen. Ever. Don’t know who or what Aga Khan is. Not familiar with the term LOP eared (I had big eared for the longest time). Ditto Kubla Khan river or the Polynesian capital. The rest of it was Wednesday-like for me. But those clues did me in. DNF.

Teedmn 7:39 AM  

ARR, typo DNF today. No wonder INeUS looked so strange as an inner ear bone but I never checked the cross because I knew COERCE was right. And my pirates always say ARg. Or is it ARrrg?

Clark KENT to the rescue today, as he so often is, as that was my first entry in this puzzle. It flowed pretty well so I was surprised it took me nearly 18 minutes to solve. I did flail around a bit after the NE was semi-filled in. Tentatively putting NErve in at 12D didn't help. And I had no idea about ALPH or APIA. LANCE BASS, who dat? An NSync alum, I figured, based on the book title, but Justin Timberlake was the only member I was familiar with.

Disco was all the rage when I was in college. Nothing worse than eating breakfast, semi-hungover, in the dorm cafeteria while THE HUSTLE spewed from the speakers. ARRrrg.

DOLLOPS is so evocative of yummy things - whipped cream, honey, mayonnaise. You never think of dollops of creamed kale.

Nice clue on CACTI, the ones sticking around in a desert.

Sam, nice Friday puzzle, it was SWOLE!.

Hungry Mother 8:02 AM  

I had to turn on the red letters and found 3 errors, easily fixed. Too many names for me today.

Jeff 8:08 AM  

I wanted one of the classic clowns to be Eric. I guess Mr. Ezersky is hung up on some clowns from the 60’s, man!

This played pretty easy for a Friday to me. The word list was a breath of fresh air after M-Th’s puzzles. Not a suffix, partial phrase or quasi-abbreviation to be found.

Anonymous 8:12 AM  

Ran the alphabet like seven times to get the cross of ALPH and LOPEARED. ALPH was a complete mystery, so I was stuck with "MOP EARED?" "HOP EARED?" "TOP EARED?" "SOP EARED?"

Space Is Deep 8:14 AM  

Bless doable crosses. Never heard of LANCE BASS or KYLOREN.

Hungry Mother 8:20 AM  

I think Singapore has a cat-free downtown. At least it was dog-free when I was there.

Anonymous 8:25 AM  

In mid-2016 (the last month’s data I could find) Uber was doing over 200k rides PER DAY in NYC alone, the vast majority of which were Uber-X. Given their growth, that number is probably at least double today. So with hundreds of thousands of people each day in the NYT’s home market using the service, probably not “niche”

Loren Muse Smith 8:29 AM  

Just got a friendly email from a reader who told me I misspelled stared. Oops.

Wm. C. 8:45 AM  

@Hungry Mother --

Singapore has a lot of odd laws. If you're visiting there (as I did several times when I was traveling on business) it's best to familiarize yourself with them in advance. Substantial fines and/or jail time for things like spitting on the sidewalk or feeding pigeons or bringing gum into the country.

It's a beautiful place, though. I often stayed there over weekends when on extended Asian trips, and played golf on a course on an island I travelled to on a cable car, as I recall.

mmorgan 8:53 AM  

Overall, I thought this was an excellent puzzle!

FLAC 8:55 AM  

Bittersweet to be reminded of D.C. homeboy Van McCoy, one of the great songwriters and producers or the '60s and '70s, who tragically died at 39, just four years after he released "The Hustle."

Nancy 8:58 AM  

Mostly enjoyed this puzzle, but plenty of NITS too.

Yet again another "Star Wars" clue (!) which crosses a "common" Vietnam family name. Not common to me, but I guessed the "N" in KYLORE-/TRA- and was therefore OK. Another correct guess with --NCE BASS. (Could have been VINCE or LANCE). But ACETAL was better than ACETAV. I've heard of ACETATE and ACETONE, but never of ACETAL.

"You get the point" is the worst clue for ETC ETC that I've ever seen. Just about anything would have been better.

What pirate says "ARR"? Why? When?

Some interesting sections, lots of white space (which I like), but some real bad stuff too.

mathgent 9:16 AM  

@Lewis (6:42): That's just how I feel about it, but I think that I had more of a struggle than you. The NW and the SW were hard because I didn't know ACETAL or LANCEBASS in the north and KYLOREN in the south. Also, I didn't know that their standard service is called UBER X.

I think that Jeff Chen is idiosyncratic in awarding his POWs. I think today's was clearly the best we've had this week. Another plus: only six Terrible Threes.

We just elected a new mayor here in San Francisco, London Breed. Sort of a surprise because she's straight and she beat a respected gay man, Mark Leno. She's African-American, but our Black population has shrunk down to about 6%. And she isn't as left-wing as he in a left-wing town.

Mohair Sam 9:19 AM  

NIT a gimme for all Rexites.

The post by @Anon (8:25) as to why UBERX is not "niche" brought to mind the famous New Yorker cover entitled "View of the World From Ninth Avenue".

Great Friday puzzle in spite of of missing my wheelhouse completely. LALIGA, IRVING, and NIT our only near gimmes. And a special Mohair shout out to a certain Dr. TRAN on the west coast with whom I did a deal years back, and to a friend she recommended who was also named TRAN - without them 49D could have been any four letters. And this BOZO never heard of BOBO.

Puzzle was so good we forgive the dreaded Star Wars clue. And I'm with @Kitshef on band members' names - The Beatles, two guys from Genesis, Mick Jagger, and any group founder whose name is in the group's title (I'm looking at you Dave Clark as well as Crosby, Stills, and Nash). Beyond that I'm lost. (oh wait - there's Slash, Bono, and Natalie Merchant too)

Fun Friday puzzle Mr. Ezersky - thanks.

Nancy 9:26 AM  

Am I the only person on the blog who never heard of SWOLE? It must be derived from "swollen", yes? But just ask my many tennis friends who have had rotator cuff injuries if a "very muscular" shoulder is anything like a swollen shoulder. A most peculiar neologism, I'd say.

No, there are no DOLLOPS of creamed kale. At least I hope there aren't. Nice one, @Teedmn (7:39).

GILL I. 9:44 AM  

Sam always scares me. He throws in words like SWOLE and LANCE BASS and KYLOREN and ALPH and I'm never sure if I'll finish or even get a chance to fill in the unknown. Not so today. I managed to guess at a lot of the letters except my very last entry. RANCE BASS shall remain the out of sync man and I get a DNF.
CACTI was my first entry and because I loved that sticking around a desert clue so much, Immediately decided I'm going to love this puzzle...and I did.
Did not even HEM at MAD MAGAZINE 30A. I got that little puppy just from the Z in BOZO the clown. Lord, I hate clowns. So did my son. Good thing, too, since it saved me the angst of having to hire one for his birthdays.
DO THE HUSTLE was smile inducing....Back in the FT TROOP era I was a Go-Go dancer. I was a Boîte rat. I would dance everywhere and anyhow and I loved the music. I had some serious RAW TALENT. Anyway, my girlfriend and I went to Palm Springs for a week-end of frolicking and drinking and we were told of the best disco in town. We went. The HUSTLE was the newest rage. I met the handsomest gay man on this planet who taught me all the moves. Talk about having some SWOLE!....Anyway, he was patient and before you knew it, I had it down pat. My favorite part was doing the twirly arms. I hung on to him for dear life hoping everyone would think he was straight and that I was the luckiest girl on the dance floor. Didn't last long because his boyfriend came up to him, kissed him long and hard on the lips and took up the twirly arms with him. I was crushed.
Yes, DOLLOPS conjures up yummy images. I'm not so sure about mayonnaise, though. I usually slather that one.
Fun puzzle, Sam. Got me in a good mood. You can put LA LIGA and EL CID any DIA of the week for me.

Mike in Mountain View 9:52 AM  

In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
a stately pleasure dome decree
where Alph the sacred river ran
through caverns measureless to man
down to a sunless sea.
It was an Abyssinian maid
and on her dulcimer she played.

That's all I can remember from the relatively short poem, which is worth a read in full if you enjoy sharing in Samuel Taylor Coleridge's (probably drug-induced) visions. (LMS is getting into the spirit with her cat-free city and her audacious arm-wrestling offer and her memories of lime green pants. She's the prose poet of this blog.)

This was a pleasure dome of a puzzle, one of my fastest Fridays but filled with fun entries, Thanks, Sam.

TubaDon 10:01 AM  

Plopped down ALIEN and had 2/3 of the NW done before i erected a roadblock by guessig _ANC_ to be NANCY. Skipped to the middle and soon had the bottom half filled in, just guessing right at KYLOREN and INCUS. NE was ok after picturing a LOPEARED rabbit, but my hackles rose at SWOLE. Sounds like someone who ate too much. After HEMming a bit I ditched the Y and threw the LANCE to finish up. Lots of stuff I didn't know but guessable so I thought this was a good Friday puzzle.

John Child 10:04 AM  

Clean puzzles get progressively, maybe even exponentially, harder to make as the word count goes down, so this one at 66 words is pretty impressive for the balance of excellent long answers and minimal dreck. Thumbs up here. But I wouldn’t have minded more challenge: This came in halfway between my record Friday and an average time, so squarely easy ***.

My $0.02 on old puzzles versus new: even though there are fewer “gee, what a novel idea!” themes now, weekday puzzles are better than, say, 20 years ago. Friday and Saturday puzzles are easier now but have more interesting vocabulary. In both cases relatively fewer obscurities and less ESE make solving more entertaining. But clues are not as hard now — I would really like to see a higher difficulty factor in modern themeless puzzles.

RooMonster 10:06 AM  

Hey All !
Too bad @LMS isn't from Kentucky, because that whole thing is in the puz, KY LOREN. :-)

Agree with @BroJo 7:38, NE stacks were impossible. Had to quit with 6 empty squares because they weren't ever gonna happen. LOP EARED? Wow. Knew it after I cheated, but still wow. ALPH? So much for the four-letter River list. APIA? Yeah, OK. TOTAL BOBO on all that.

Wanted Time MAGAZINE for the PacMan thing, as we just discussed that on a puz the other day. Got to the I before I saw it was one letter too long. Writeovers include phaser-ION GUN (ugh, IONizer, maybe), raNT-VENT, hitMAN, ICEMAN (um, again, no. No one has ever been called an ICEMAN, never.)

Rest of puz played Fridayish. Nothing at first, then slowly filling. Had a DNF (besides the NE) with COERsE/INsUS. Don't know my bones. Har.

Final assessment, did like it. ADDsUP to a good FriPuz. I SAY TO you. :-)


Unknown 10:23 AM  

@LMS - A hearty hardy-har for the catless Oslo read. Brought up recollection of Wes Anderson's Megasaki City, where cats rule and exiled dogs drool very, very nasty stuff. Arigato, or cats ahoy!

Gary Johnson 10:29 AM  

F TROOP was great! The Indians were all Jews, I think.

Anonymous 10:38 AM  

You're setting yourself up @Roo by saying "never" re: Iceman.
Some smarty Pants is going to find a quote and blow you out of the water. Never say never around here.

Smokin’ in the Boys Room 10:40 AM  

I was a rock n roller in high school and college in the 1970s. I thought then and still think now: Disco Sucks.

Anonymous 10:40 AM  

Excuse me sir. I'm in the market for some nice breads. Where might I find them?

Well, it depends. We got your wheats on Aisle 1. That what yer lookin' fer?

No, ryes.

Nancy 10:43 AM  

Thanks for the Kubla Khan quote, @Mike in Mountain View (9:52). Visions, schmisions. When a poet has an ear as good as Coleridge's (just say those first five lines trippingly on the tongue and savor them) I personally don't care if he has the deepest, most original things to say or absolutely nothing at all to say. Or if I have no idea what he's saying. In this poem, I mostly don't -- but then I don't take drugs. It doesn't matter at all. Such euphony! Those first five lines! Those last eight lines! Drool. Here's the entire poem. Aren't you glad @Teedmn taught me to do this? :)

clk 11:05 AM  

Memory is such a weird thing. I’ve read several of John IRVING’s books and can even picture his face, yet could not come up with his name to save my life, even with the initial I and final N. On the other hand, I have never intentionally listened to anything by *NSYNC (wow, look what autocorrect did), yet got LANCEBASS off the ASS. Go figure.

pcardout 11:06 AM  

Speaking of your challenging cross, I had the author, briefly, as IRRING. This is because I thought "Let it all out" was a cute pun and answered it with RENT. (Apartments "To Let" means rent!). The actual answer, VENT, is straightforward, but not clever.

Maruchka 11:09 AM  

@LMS - A hearty hardy-har for the catless Oslo read. Brought up recollection of Wes Anderson's Megasaki City, where cats rule and exiled dogs drool very, very nasty stuff. Arigato, or cats ahoy!

pcardout 11:12 AM  

At my college "Talk like a Pirate Day" is well celebrated. ARR MATEY, it really is.

Hack mechanic 11:14 AM  

"hired gun in underworld lingo"? Am I the only one who struggled with this? I'm sorry but it's hit man. What the hell is an "Iceman"?

jberg 11:22 AM  

Weave a circle round him thrice,
And close his eyes with holy dread
For he on has honeydew fed
And drunk the milk of paradise

Not sure I remembered that exactly. There's also that woman wailing for her demon lover, and the deep romantic chasm. Great poem.

As for the puzzle -- am I the only 1 who threw in EERIE right away at 1A? And thought it was some kind of 'atomic" clock?

ACETAL is apparently the 'informal' way of saying acetaldehyde. Who knew.

Gotta run, will tryto check back later.

old timer 11:42 AM  

Finished the puzz, which was Easy for a Friday, and ended with KY LOREN, who I assumed must exist. OH! KYLO REN, whom I shoulda remembered. But didn't until coming to the blog. Had Suva for a while, before APIA, which is the capital of one of the Samoas.

I never memorized KUBLA KHAN in full, but ALPH came to mind soon enough. My favorite poem from that era is Ozymandias (look on my works, ye mighty, and despair.

Mr. Benson 12:08 PM  

I noticed the KHAN thing and figured Rex would mention it. Probably not good form, but how far does that rule go? "THE" is featured in the answer to 35A (DOTHEHUSTLE) and is also in many clues (just scanning: 14A, 25A, 30A, 42A, 4D, 20D, 38D.

QuasiMojo 12:19 PM  

@Loren let me know if you find out there is a cat-free city! I’m down for that especially after my many run-ins with the cray-cray cat lady on my block. I moved last week to a new place so I should be cat-lady free at least.

@Rex, I think you overpaid for that Lance Bass boy-toy truck!

Glad to be done with this week. Today’s was my fave of the LOT.

Malsdemare 12:31 PM  

I actually finished in respectable — for me —time, but my bete noire was the NW. i confidently popped in CACTI, and ELECT, tried ICEMAN, got AGATHA and then stared at that -TC-T and erased it all. Somehow I managed to skip right past TIME, which would have made the penny drop. Eventually, I wandered back up top, google LALIGA, and the rest fell with a nice kerplop. I had laNe before KENT, and that area was slow, but I got WABASH off the W, and when I revised to KENT, got WHEATS, and then tiptoed slowly through the rest.

DOOMSDAY CLOCK, makes me sad, but Paul Manafort is going to jail, so there's a tiny ray of joy to be found in the world (tho I imagine not for Manafort's family; of course, I don't know him or them; they may be saying "Thank you, universe, for getting him out of the house; he was driving me nuts!”)

The thought of lime green pants makes my eyes sting. But I adore disco. Years ago, my hubby and I were at a sales meeting at the Greenbrier right after it had reopened after a long strike. A fantastic DJ named Mayonnaise was working in the bar that night and I danced with every man there, learning all those cool dance moves. Mayonnaise even went out to buy a copy of a new hit by a local group, Champaign, called "How 'bout us?" The hotel was pretty empty and our group camped out in the bar every night, enjoying the new dance craze. Last year, on a family vacation at the Greenbrier, we ran into Mayonnaise, still working (bellhop), and ready to reminisce about his DJ days. As we hugged goodbye, he dropped this gem. "Yeah, Kathryn Johnson [of Hidden Figures fame] worked at the Greenbrier [in the gift shop] as a teenager; she lived behind my house." He then told us how, when the chef discovered her intelligence, he made her spend her lunch hour with him in the kitchen teaching her French. Mayo has now retired; I hope he's having a great time.

God bless disco!

Malsdemare 12:39 PM  

By the way, for what it’s worth, that little gem about Johnson is more likely to be something I'll crow about than my relationship to Charlemagne . . . Just sayin"

'merican in Paris 12:41 PM  

Took me an hour, exactly. Not exactly a HUSTLE, I know. I found it easy in places, but with swampy patches in the south and southeast. Had to get every letter for KYLOREN from the down crosses. That name still means zip to me. Took me awhile there because I was expecting the Vietnamese name to be something like "Hong".

DNF, because I had "PHOENeCIA" and "eRVING".

LANCE BASS sounds like something one would do with a rotting fish.

WHEATS is ugh.

Question of the day: Do DOOMSDAY CLOCKS get reset when the country switches to daylight savings time?

FrankStein 12:47 PM  

Dagger before Agatha. Then Edgars. But the Dame finally appeared.

Trombone Tom 1:03 PM  

@Lewis you and I are of a mind.

I think this week was kind of a setup on Will's part. What I considered an egregious Thursday made me appreciate all the more the crunch and clever cluing Sam E gave us today.

Maybe the relative ease of DOOMSDAY CLOCK brought the difficulty level down a tad, but there was enough resistance to make this a pleasurable solve.

I didn't know LANCE BASS but the crosses were certainly fair. And I can never spell (AGA)KHAN on my first attempt. I blame it all on Kathy Zahn who was mayor of Albany back in the '50's.

pmdm 1:04 PM  

LMS: Thank you for making me smile. The World needs more of that.

Nancy: I think ARR is one of these thing that occur only in comic strips and never in real life. I think I've seen it in comic strips numerous times when pirates utter an exclamation. Other than that, I've never heard a real pirate.

Mathgent: I think that Jeff only will award a POW once a week. After all, that's what the name implies. So if two great puzzles run during the same week, only one of them will receive a POW. Although I remember one of Jeff's comment stating he was at the point of violating his [self-imposed] rule.

Anonymous 1:28 PM  

My God! The world has gone mad. F Troop portrayed everyone badly. It was a sitcom. It was broad, silly and inane. but nothing like offensive. The US Calvary was the chief pincushion. The Indians were always putting over the bumbling cavalry. really, nothing to cringe at. and surely nothing to apologize for. If you want offense, listen to Samantha Bee. Now that's offensive.

shza 1:57 PM  

ALPH is a niche clue; UBERX is not.

Joe Bleaux 2:02 PM  

VERY offensive. "Feckless" crossed a line.

Anonymous 2:10 PM  

I finally had to cheat in the NW corner. When "eerie" didn't fit for 1A, I couldn't come up with another possibility. And I persevered in reading 13A as "dessert" instead of desert, so could not fathom a possible answer. I kept picturing ice cream or pie with some kind of "things" sticking out of them. And I wanted "voted" for 16A (y'know, those little stickers that say "I voted").

So a DNF for me. Cuz I cheated. I also consulted with my nerdy daughter-in-law about 56A. She possesses encyclopedic knowledge about Star Wars, Game of Thrones, Harry Potter, Dr. Who--all of which make my eyes glaze over. Is that cheating? Don't some people do puzzles together? Are they cheating when they consult each other?

Charley 2:14 PM  

The real mystery writer’s award are the Edgars, so that threw me off. And swole? Anyone?

My wife claims to be from Norway 2:19 PM  

I resisted 46D for a long time because we were in Oslo last year, and it didn't strike me as carless at all (though we did see quite a number of people in suits and other business clothes commuting by bicycle). We learned too late that there was a train from the airport to the city center (and that the airport was a long way from the city center), so we paid about 50X too much and took a cab, adding to the carness.

Anonymous 2:34 PM  

That train to the city center in Oslo is a great deal. Really easy. Cheap, fast. The goods. But like you, I didn't get the feeling that there were fewer cars. Hmmm. Anyway, Norway is a stunning country. Simply gorgeous.

Hey joe bleaux, I dare you to use the Samantha Bee word in front of your wife or mother or daughter. If you can't say in front of them, you probably should refrain from saying it on tv. As for feckless, you sure are.

Masked and Anonymous 3:04 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rick 3:12 PM  

I always thought pirates say ARG, so I convinced myself that PRINTGUNS were the nozzles that spray out ink, and the press would have to order new ones sometimes. Arg.

Mark 3:29 PM  

I had it on good authority that Coleridge would have pronounced ALPH like "afe" as in "safe." Pretty convincing when you compare advice on how to pronounce Ralph Fiennes and Ralph Vaughan Williams.

Masked and Anonymous 3:59 PM  

Pirate clown theme!

Nuthin I couldn't handle, but the NW ACETAL/LALIGA/LANCEBASS combo was pretty much touch-and-go-guess time. Better clue, to suit M&A's BOZO-level of 2007 singer knowledge: {Fish in an unsportsmanlike manner} = LANCEBASS.
Honrable try-a-little-tenderizer mention to: BOBO/SWOLE, also.

Lotsa great long ball fillins. DOOMSDAYCLOCK splatzed in between MADMAGAZINE and DOTHEHUSTLE kinda sums life up, present day. ETCETC.

staff weeject pick: ARR. Selected from only 6 weejecta-menu items, tho. Came dangerously close to settlin for ARG/PRINTGUNS. Figured U could 3-D-copy firearms, maybe. And pirate lingo is pretty flexible.

Cool FTROOP clue. Interestin TRAN & UBER clues. Interestin is a step down from cool, tho.

Thanx for the feisty fun, Mr. Ezersky. Puz did not quite live up to the first two letters of yer last name. And congratz on puz #25.

Masked & Anonymo4Us


Anonymous 5:06 PM  

Lots of esoterica in this one. I threw in the towel after getting pretty much nowhere.

jae 5:17 PM  

Mostly easy except for (like others) NW which was on the tough side. ACETAL and LA LIGA were WOEs, and I needed a couple of crosses to remember LANCE BASS. Plus I had @Roo hit MAN before ICE and @jberg started off with kinda tough.

Excellent Fri., liked it a bunch (more than this week’s POW).

sanfranman59 5:36 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. Your results may vary.

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

Mon 4:21 4:30 0.97 38.1% Easy-Medium
Tue 5:38 5:26 1.04 60.0% Medium
Wed 6:11 6:22 0.97 48.1% Medium
Thu 9:37 9:47 0.98 48.7% Medium
Fri 10:48 13:01 0.83 27.7% Easy-Medium

I did a lot of head-scratching here and am surprised it ended up as an Easy-Medium. LANCE BASS, SWOLE, ALPH, UBERX are all completely unknown to me. I needed a lot of help to get ACETAL, AGA KHAN, LOP-EARED and KYLO REN. Then there was the BOZO/BOBO and laNe/KENT coin tosses.

To me, it's a tribute to the constructor that I had this many trouble spots, but was still led through in relatively quick order. Add in some nostalgia that hit home in OHIO (born and raised), MAD MAGAZINE, DO THE HUSTLE, F TROOP (even AGATHA and IRVING, I suppose) and I say this one's a TOTAL SMASH.

Anonymous 5:44 PM  

Why was yesterday’s “choke collar” objectionable but an “iceman”, i.e., an assassin, ok ? Is Rex more offended by choke collars than by murderers ?

Anoa Bob 5:55 PM  

SWOLE sounds like something I might have heard somebody say when I was a kid growing up in TN: "Got into a nest of yeller jackets t'other day and they stung me all over my neck and head. My face SWOLE up somethin' awful."

Don't know---and don't care---if it's KY LOREN, KYL OREN, KYLO REN or maybe it's just one word.

And who would name their child SCARLETA?

roscoe 88 6:00 PM  

interesting that in the list of cities and countries with almost car free centers, Wikipedia does not list Oslo or Norway at all.

Teddi and Teddy 6:19 PM  

Gary Johnson- funny Ftroop comment. Teddi liked the show so much she learned to play the theme song on the piano. ( 7 or 8 years old?)
Also we thought it was things sticking around in a dessert. Sheesh.
And eerie was wanted in NW right away it slowed us down. Liked it though.

pabloinnh 9:06 PM  

After reading through all the comments I am inspired to share lots of funny stories and interesting observations (ask me about my full-lenth parody of Kubla Khan someday, same rhyme scheme and meter), but it's about the time of night when everyone stops reading comments and goes on to lead real lives.

So for now, thanks for all the fun, which I want someday for an epitaph.

OISK 9:35 PM  

No carless errors here, but two awful (for me) crosses supplied nits worth picking. Lance Bass, with Acetal - both completely unfamiliar, (and I am a chemist - we called it acetaldehyde, or ethanal...) and Kyloren with Uber. Never heard of "uber X." Didn't like "swole" either, but that was obvious from the crosses.

Always like geography, though - I have been to Apia...though not Phoenicia, (but I have been to Venicia.."to Venicia's shores have come...".) and will be visiting the land of the Incus in October...

GILL I. 11:17 PM  

@pablo....I'm still awake.... ;-)

Unknown 12:02 AM  

Can someone explain DNABANK? Wtf does it have to do with Noah's Ark, and why is it in quotes?

Anonymous 3:31 PM  

Most enjoyable part of today's puzzle was alternative answer fits. "You jest" rather than "I object'. "Metflix on demand" rather than "Netflix original". But Azera was a stumper for me. I cheated and looked up Hyundai models, but Axera has been dropped by Hyndai in 2018.

rondo 10:34 AM  

Hey @Anon 3:31 - get on the right page.

Scattered inkfests abounding with at first hitMAN, WHites, rANdyBASS ??, BOZO the wrong way, and raNT before VENT. In an odd turn, the DOOMSDAYCLOCK saved the DIA. @spacey will surely have something to say about GCLEFS, SCARLETA, APTEST, OTCSTOCK, and perhaps even FTROOP.

There certainly was no political correctness about FTROOP when it first ran. The soldiers were mostly buffoons and the natives were not called indigenous. FTROOP was “where paleface and redskin both turn chicken”, before they subsequently cut the words out of the theme. And BTW, Wrangler Jane, yeah baby Melody Patterson, was only 16 when she first had the hots for Captain Parmenter – forged ID. Signs of that TIME?

Somewhere around 3 or 4X OFL’s TIME. Sometimes I can be such a BOBO, or BOZO.

spacecraft 11:02 AM  

I can't believe it. Easy-medium???????? This isn't Thursday, it's Saturday on steroids! Impossible! I couldn't even get started. The most DNF-ish DNF I have ever had. Not even close.

spacecraft 11:32 AM  

Of course it's not Thursday. That was...[redface]

Diana,LIW 11:32 AM  

@Foggy - not yet done solving, but must point out the ultimate result of Certs Breath Mints

Lady Di

Burma Shave 11:44 AM  


and TIME for the ALIENs to fire RAY-IONGUNs.


thefogman 12:37 PM  

A toughie for me. DNF because I had dogEARED for 14A and LANsEBASS for 25A. Allow me to VENT just a bit here. The cluing was a bit too cunning and the crosses weren't much help in key spots. But I probably could have solved if I would have just stopped a few seconds to verify. That's what you get for trying to DOTHEHUSTLE and beat the DOOMSDAYCLOCK. Guess I failed the APTEST. Now I feel like a TOTAL BOBO. HATS off to Mr. Ezersky.

@D,LIW - Good one!

Diana,LIW 1:55 PM  

It seems that my paper had the same puzzle as @Spacey's today.

Even after the worst cheating session I even committed, I still couldn't finish.

I'm feeling tired today (cortisone shot for a potential rotator cuff injury(?), and we have smoke in the sky from local first), but I think that at my best this puzzle would best me.

What can I say? I got the clown names right off the bat.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

Diana,LIW 1:57 PM  

And pirates say "Aargh"

Lady Di

centralscrewtinizer 3:04 PM  

Ozymandias whispered a few choice words in Kubla Khan's ear. Muslim pirates say aga, not arr.

rainforest 3:19 PM  

Smooth and enjoyable puzzle, roughly medium for me. Bonus points for including part of that glorious poem "Kubla Khan", the only poem I recall from Grade 12 Lit. Oh wait; I also remember the line "The Assyrian came down like the wolf on the fold". Was that Byron? Must check. Yep, Byron.

Anyhoo, coupla things I didn't know: LANCE BASS and SWOLE, but I knew ACETAL, and the latter fell to crosses.

Things just fell together while solving this beauty, with colourful answers and nice cluing galore. Sometimes that happens - not a single write-over.
Bravo, Sam!

leftcoastTAM 5:39 PM  

Theme for this themeless: "Helpful crosses".

Needed them for ACETAL, LALIGA, ALPH, and APIA in the North, and for SCARLETA* and KYLOREN in the South.

SWOLE? Okay, I guess.

*Must confess--had TRoN instead of TRAN and SCARLETo instead of SCARLETA. Unhelpul cross spoiled my theme.

Anonymous 5:52 PM  

Aside from asking someone if it was OTC or OTR STOCKS this was done without any hints. Five days in a row. However I missed WHEATS and had RYEATS. Silly.


spacecraft 7:28 PM  

@Rainy (and just so you don't think I'm a total BOZO): The poem in question is titled "The Destruction of Senaccherib." From 5th-grade memory:

The Assyrians came down like a wolf on the fold,
And their cohorts were gleaming in purple and gold.
The sheen of their spears was like stars on the sea
When the blue wave rolls nightly on deep Galilee.

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