"Voila!" / FRI 6-29-18 / They provide quarters for dollars / "This is killing me!" / Luxury bathroom features / Middle of a dash?

Friday, June 29, 2018

Constructor: David Steinberg

Relative difficulty: Standard Friday for me (11:13)


Word of the Day: SCIPIO (38A: Hannibal's foe in the Second Punic War) —
Publius Cornelius Scipio Africanus (/ˈskɪpioʊ/; 236–183 BC), also known as Scipio the African, Scipio Africanus-Major, Scipio Africanus the Elder and Scipio the Great,[3] was a Roman general and later consul who is often regarded as one of the greatest generals and military strategists of all time. His main achievements were during the Second Punic War where he is best known for defeating Hannibal at the final battle at Zama in 202 BC, one of the feats that earned him the agnomen Africanus. Prior to this battle (near modern Zama, Tunisia) Scipio also conquered Carthage's holdings in the Iberian peninsula, culminating in the Battle of Ilipa (near Alcalá del Río, Spain) in 206 BC against Hannibal's brother Mago Barca. 
Although considered a hero by the general Roman populace, primarily for his contributions in the struggle against the Carthaginians, Scipio was reviled by other patricians of his day. In his later years, he was tried for bribery and treason, unfounded charges that were only meant to discredit him before the public. Disillusioned by the ingratitude of his peers, Scipio left Rome and withdrew from public life. (Wikipedia)
• • •
Happy Friday, everyone!  We've made it to the end of the week (and oof, what a week. *waves hand in the general direction of the news*).  I'm Ben Smith, your Substitute Rex for this final Friday of June.  You might know me from covering the AV Club or BEQ Thursday puzzles for Diary of a Crossword Fiend, or, if you're part of Crossword Twitter, I'm the person who runs Did The Tuesday NYT Crossword TUEZ.  When I'm not passing judgement on grids, I also co-host a podcast about the Eurovision Song Contest aimed at Americans, if you're into that sort of thing.  Anyways, enough about me, let's talk about today's puzzle from David Steinberg.

As far as BYLINES go, David and I are both within the "millennial" age range (though I'm on the old end of that), which meant that this week's Friday puzzle felt very much on my wavelength.  I'm not the biggest fan of sets of triple-(or especially quadruple-)stacks in a grid, since the wow factor of the long fill stacking neatly often means some less-than great stuff will be going on in the down clues to support it.  This appears to mostly get around that - BADA BING BADA BOOM, IMAGINARY FRIENDS, and DUKE OF WELLINGTON link nicely with only NAWLINS getting a little bit of a stink eye from me along the top, and TALENT MANAGEMENT, CHRISTIANO RONALDO (nicely timed for the World Cup), and MASTER CONTROLLER work nicely on the bottom with only OENO being SO-SO fill.

"AIN'T It Fun" is a great Paramore song that won the 2014 Grammy for Best Rock Song.  Their latest album, After Laughter, was one of my favorites last year and is also worth your time. 

2014 seemed to be a mini-theme in the puzzle, with the NAE NAE dance craze also popping up.  This whole solve was pretty on track for me - the lower right corner took me the longest, since the double A in AARGH looked like a mistake for a long time, especially since I couldn't decide if the grid's desired coffee size was a GRANDE or the heftier TRENTA.  This puzzle made me want to walk to my local 7-Eleven for SLURPEES, so excellent product promotion, NYT.  It also reminded me that the CAPYBARA (39D: Cousin of a guinea pig) is one of nature's chillest animals, as seen here:

I leave you with that image as we head into the weekend.  I liked this one!  I hope you did too.
Yours, Ben Smith, Chancellor of the Exchequer of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


jae 12:12 AM  



I did know NAE NAE from previous puzzle encounters and possibly seeing it mentioned on the tube?

I was iffy on spelling NAWLINS and CAPYBARA.

BADA....was a great start, the rest was a tad ho-hum. Still, a pretty good Fri., liked it.

Unknown 12:14 AM  

Midwest region was my hardest, self-inlicted, since I had drawLOTS and aTEST, which held me back. Finally remembered RYAN was the running mate, which led to my finish in under 22 minutes, which is a darn good Friday time for me. No complaints.

Unknown 12:41 AM  

I actually breezed through this one with a sub-17 Friday for the first time. Saved SOLTI/GRETNA for last, but I'm sure I've seen Solti in a puzzle before so avoided that natick.

Unknown 12:51 AM  

Error in friday crossword? Ronaldo Spanish?? There are two Madeiras...one in Spain and one in Portugal?

Lee Coller 12:57 AM  

I had two problems with this puzzle. The 8-down/20-Across was a true Natick for me. I've never heard of 8 down, and I know I've seen 20 across before but its one of those names I can never remember.

I also had trouble at 39-Down/46-Across, I didn't know Capybara, and unless there is another definition of APR (Annual Percentage Rate) that I'm not aware of (which is entirely possible), APR is no more a kind financing than MPG is a kind of car.

Larry Gilstrap 1:01 AM  

Those big old gridspanners up top and down bottom made this Friday enough for me. Even though MASTER CONTROLLER seemed a little green-paintish at first, just because I haven't seen it much, but that's just me. I see that the English have a history of combining pastry and protein: Earl of Sandwich and DUKE OF WELLINGTON.

I actually remember some history lecture from college involving SCIPIO Africanus, but I was gullible enough to believe there was a SCIPIO Europeanus. Did I just dream that?

I was an adorable kid, I'm told, and smart as a whip. Yet, for some reason I invented not a legion of IMAGINARY FRIENDS, but only one named Carrie, or however she spelled her name. Too young for spelling. My family would ask me about her, and according to me, she had a busy life. Such innocence!

I have been hosting a film crew, championed by my nephew and his son, filming a movie at my house. The crew is just fresh out of high school, but very talented and headed to film school. We checked into a local hotel, because they filmed all night. Genre?: Zombie apocalypse. They did a great job cleaning up the blood.

puzzlehoarder 1:18 AM  

The upper half of this puzzle was about as easy as I expected it to be. GRETNA was the only unfamiliar entry up north. I stopped cold at SCIPIO and DISTRO. That latter one I've never seen before. Even having D_ _ TRO didn't help.

I had to start cold in the south stacks. The west end wasn't bad. I got CAPYBARA off the A of TALENT. The southern spanners then stopped at 65D. I screwed up the middle with OLDIE at 60A. On top of that I had EONO at 62D (sure it's dyslexic but it agrees with the preceding mistake.) RELYON at 48D made everything worse.

Luckily in the SE corner I got HECTOR off of SAC and backfilled the southern half correctly from there.

Not a bad solve but 11 minutes faster than yesterday's.

jae 2:49 AM  

So I finished the puzzle and posted to the blog and settled back to watch the Colbert show that I DVRed last night. In his confessions segment he brought up RONALDO and soccer. So, either I should have done the puzzle tomorrow or watched Colbert l “live” on Wednesday...or not. Anyway, no longer a WOE.

prlondon 2:49 AM  

Madeira (and Ronaldo) are Portuguese, not Spanish...

chefwen 3:17 AM  

Much easier than yesterday’s, thank you very much. Top half went in like a breeze, bottom half, a little more difficult. I did have to Google 67A, no clue and the downs were not going to help me. Oh well, the rest of it was fun.

Slushies before SLURPEES was our only write over, oh, except for 1A where I ended that with a BANG before BOOM, guess I’ve been hearing it wrong all along.

JOHN X 4:01 AM  

Wow, this puzzle was pretty easy. This was more like a Wednesday, it was fun but man I just sped through it.

I'm trying to figure out what exactly put it on the "millenial wavelength." I see maybe one answer: NAENAE. The rest of the grid is filled with SCIPIO Africanus and Little GTO and ELO and AFL and GRETNA Green and the DAKOTA Territory and the victor of the Battle Of Freaking Waterloo. Even the Internet answer, MSN, is from 1996. I guess there is that 2014 Grammy winning song: AINT.

Hey don't get me wrong I loved all these answers. There was a lot of ass-kicking going on. We got two of the best generals ever, along with their drinking buddies MAC and IGOR and these STAGS are all gonna BEGET and ANTE and be ONTARGET during the NTEST and then race the GTO against that lady's AUDI and get a SCAR and then go get some SLURPEES and then try to figure out how to use the digital Japanese BIDET. Dang that's a movie right there don't steal my idea.

Anyway what I'm trying to say is that this puzzle was a very enjoyable eleven minutes of my life.

jmiz 5:21 AM  

Looks that way!

Lewis 6:23 AM  

First, let me put i a plug for Joel's mini, with its clever theme.

Second, this one didn't fall quickly for me; things filled in in bits and pieces; I'd return to an area and fill something in, go somewhere else and find something there, and the little pools of solvation swelled bit by bit, until the trudge became a gallop, with some pleasing swath-fills, then suddenly a final whew and pat on the back. A case of the Power of Persistence. Where moments of "Why am I doing this" built to a "I'm so glad I did this!" ending.

Hopefully, a template for my life. Thank you, David!

QuasiMojo 6:49 AM  

Kudos to David Steinberg and to our visiting blogger.

I soldiered on during this one as there was a lot to chew on. Clueing the late SOLTI as a knighted conductor though was a bit odd since so many of them are or were, including Colin Davis, Simon Rattle, John Eliot Gardner, Roger Norrington and Neville Mariner, not to mention Sir Thomas Beacham.

We've had that large rodent creature here before. I'd love to see the expression on the face of a New Yorker if one of them ran down the subway track.

Quibbles: most of the stuff sold on eBay these days is not resale. It's goods straight from the manufacturer. The company continues to move away from auctions and yard sale material to emphasize SO-SO fare such as you'd find on Overstock.com.

I've never read "Fifty Shades of Grey" but if one of the characters is named "Anastasia STEELE" then I know I was right in avoiding it. Sounds like an SNL skit.

There's nothing luxurious about a BIDET. Most European homes have them. The real luxury is to have a urinal. Then there are no arguments about whether the seat should be up or down.

Wanted BIG GULPS before SLURPEES. I prefer FRIBBLES.

They sell Po'boys in Biloxi, MS too.

Napoleon's Grande Armee consisted of a large multi-national corps, not just French-speaking soldiers.

All that aside, I enjoyed Mr. Steinberg's clever Saturday puzzler.

Eric 6:50 AM  

Only way apr is a type of financing is if the clue is misdirecting with “type” as in typewritten vs. type of.

Robso 7:05 AM  

Got tripped up by putting in ATMS for “They provide quarters for dollars,” which gave me BYLIMES for “Journalists’ credits.” So I knew ATMS was wrong, but I liked it enough I couldn’t change it. And now here I am.

DeeJay 7:09 AM  

Fantastic puzzle, NAWLINS is a perfect entry, if you were thinkig INNS.

DeeJay 7:10 AM  

Having spent my honeymoon on Madeira, I did scratch my head on that....

kitshef 7:12 AM  

Really reluctant to put in CRISTIANO RONALDO, because why would an airport in Spain be named for a man from Portugal? What an absolute failure by the editor.

On the other hand, that was about the only thing that made this harder than, say, an average Tuesday. If you have to rely in incorrect clues to increase the level of difficulty, you might as well just throw in the towel and put answers like AARGH in your puzzle.

Well, other than the editorial gaffe and the easiness level, I did like the puzzle. And the Times should have caught the error, and they decided what day to run the puzzle. So I'll pin this one on NYT not on the constructor.

three of clubs 7:17 AM  

Nice to see that reading my sister's Regency novels payed off. Prefer NAWLINS to the lazy NOLA. Another memory of CAPYBARA ... https://www.google.com/search?safe=active&biw=1920&bih=985&tbm=isch&sa=1&ei=dRM2W43eBsGfzwLEvLTAAQ&q=barbecued+capybara+on+a+stick

Stanley Hudson 7:33 AM  

From Wikipedia: “Madeira International Airport Cristiano Ronaldo, commonly known as Madeira Airport (Portuguese: Aeroporto da Madeira), or Funchal Airport (Aeroporto do Funchal) (IATA: FNC, ICAO: LPMA), is an international airport in the civil parish of Santa Cruz in the Portuguese archipelago and autonomous region of Madeira.“

Anonymous 7:34 AM  

Madeira (/məˈdɪərə/ mə-DEER-ə, /-ˈdɛərə/ -DAIR-ə; Portuguese: [mɐˈðejɾɐ, -ˈðɐj-]) is a Portuguese archipelago situated in the north Atlantic Ocean, southwest of Portugal.

RavTom 7:49 AM  

Can someone explain 41A? Why DISTRO?

Suzie Q 7:52 AM  

Kinda fun and kinda easy but yesterday was a hard act to follow.
Totally agree with @ QuasiMojo about bidets vs urinals. I've seen plenty of bidets but no one seems to know how to use them. Urinals in your home makes perfect sense. I'm sure you could find some attractive ones.
Now, where was I? Oh yes, the puzzle.
Capybaras are much bidder than I thought.
Gretna Green from the puzzle is in Scotland as I just learned. The only one I knew of was in London.
Saw the clue for Field in Hollywood and thought Sally? W.C.? Then I saw the answer was a grid spanner. So much for that idea.

Z 8:00 AM  

The early comments are already suggesting this will be a wheelhouse/outhouse sort of day. I am not surprised. The PPP (Pop Culture, Product Names, and other Proper Nouns) count comes in at a hefty 25/72, 35%. This includes the PPP dense DUKE/ELO/SOLTI/GRETNA Green area up north. Frequent puzzle solvers and classical music fans will have little trouble with SOLTI, but that will be natickville for lots of people I suspect. The issue with PPP is always that if you don’t know it there is little to help you infer it. DISTRO, NAE NAE, GRETNA, SOLTI all could be problematic for people. Heck, even IGOR crossing RONALDO is a potential natick. Why not a Y instead of an O?

Two writeovers here, draw LOTS before CAST LOTS and flipping Tmc to TCM. I was wondering about the airport clue. Yep, the clue is wrong. He does play for Real Madrid, but someone didn’t double check.

A decent Friday, but a little less PPP would be an improvement.

Z 8:06 AM  

@RavTom - Wikipedia can.

clk 8:07 AM  

Yep, if you’ve read many historical romances, GRETNA Green is a gimme.

Anonymous 8:12 AM  

What is the error? I'm pretty sure there is only one Christiano Ronaldo and one Madeira, both Portuguese.

Anonymous 8:23 AM  

GRETNA/SOLTI was a miserable cross.

Anonymous 8:23 AM  

@kitshef and others. "absolute failure"? "editorial gaffe"? really?
What makes anyone think that Madeira has anything to do with Spain?

RRR Supporter 8:28 AM  

A few of those CAPYBARA images are from Rocky Ridge Refuge! Show Janice some love - she does great work.

I normally dread these long triple-stacks but I had a good time with this one. I enjoy David's work quite a bit.

Unknown 8:33 AM  

Distro is software shorthand fir distribution

kitshef 8:43 AM  

Anon 8:23: In my paper, the clue reads "Athlete for whom Spain's Madeira Airport was renamed". So apparently, David Steinberg and/or Will Shortz think Madeira is in Spain.

Anonymous 8:44 AM  

@Z - What is wrong about the airport clue ("Athlete for whom Portugal's Madeira Airport was renamed")?
Do you have a different clue?

John Child 8:46 AM  

I realy liked this. @Z is right about the ppp, but that’s what made it hard. Friday puzzles are supposed to be hard. The other fill and clueing are pretty easy, so I eventually finished... with an error. Couldn’t see NAWLINS with an I, since there’s no I in New Orleans. GRETNA who? So etNS had to be something I didn’t know.

Glenn Patton 8:47 AM  

I learned about Gretna Green from some of the earliest crosswords I did a thousand years ago. It appeared somewhere else recently. It's claim to fame is as a destination for eloping English couples since Scotland allowed marriage with no waiting period.

Anonymous 8:47 AM  

Ok, I see. The online clue is correct. So we're both right.

Sir Hillary 8:48 AM  

As if we needed more evidence that Americans are generally soccer dunderheads, the CRISTIANORONALDO clue does the trick. Yikes, that's embarrassing.

I really liked this puzzle. Steinberg has previously gone 16-wide to accommodate stacks, and this was worth the non-convention just like his earlier efforts WERE.

Far from giving NAWLINS the side-eye, it's my favorite entry.

DUKEOFWELLINGTON, SCIPIO and HECTOR give the grid a battle-hero vibe.

Cryptic clue of the day: Terror group takes private jet up for Middle Easterners (8)

RooMonster 8:59 AM  

Hey All !
The CAPYBARA area did me in. Managed to complete rest of puz (fairly fast for a Friday), but got stuck there and had to cheat. Had Tmc for TCM, with cenTERCOMMAND. Hit Reveal Square for the R in CRISTIAN, which got me to change to TCM. But SCIPIO was a WOE, and SCAR/CASTLOTS/APR/RYAN were all not entering the ole brain. Thought the rodent was CaPaBARA or baraBARA. AARGH.

But, like I said, otherwise a nice puz. Nice stacks. Light dreck for a Duo-Triple stacker.



Birchbark 9:10 AM  

The DUKE OF WELLINGTON seems right at home in a triple stack with BADABING BADABOOM and IMAGINARY FRIENDS. Just beautiful. Evokes Mahler's 8th symphony.

From there to the NAENAE-SLURPEES-DISTRO-RICH-AARGH downward staircase, a reminder that what we experienced above was in essence transitory. And a logical segue to the banality of TALENT MANAGEMENT, MASTER CONTROLLER, and where-in-the-world-is CRISTIAN ORONALDO.

Robert A. Simon 9:12 AM  

I normally look at triple stacks the way I would look at grizzlies at a campsite--I don't have a chance. But this time, the bear just wanted to visit and maybe borrow my solar charger. There was a lot of stuff I just knew--SOLTI, CAPYBARA (I watch an insane amount of wildlife TV), NAENAE, and about ten others. I am always better off with nouns than with synonyms. As a result, I finished in fourteen minutes, which for me is very fast.

Side note: when his name first started showing up as the constructor, I thought he was David Steinberg the comedian and film director from the Seventies and Eighties. That Steinberg was clearly very intelligent and I thought, "Wow. Something else he's really good at." When I found out (from this blog) that indeed it was the David Steinberg who constructed puzzles in between his Bar Mitzvah lessons, I was flabbergasted. I admire constructors a great deal, but to be so good so young is truly amazing.

On a related topic, can anyone explain how the heck you go about constructing an acrostic?

Maruchka 9:13 AM  

BADABING! North went in TRES smooth.

Speaking of north, fun to see GRETNA Green. Scottish haven for runaway Brit teen weddings. And a shout out for Chuck Berry's 'You Never Can Tell', from this side of the pond.

Daughter had the hots for frozen SLURPEES back in the day. Made my head hurt.

Thanks, Mr. Steinberg. Always a pleasure.

Mohair Sam 9:24 AM  

Would have loved this one, but one and one-half errors by the constructor and editor killed the joy.

The RONALDO wrong country thing is terrible. I said CHRISTIANORONALDO fits but they'd never name a Spanish airport after him (Real Madrid or not). And maybe someone uses the term APR financing - but APR is a kind of financing like batting average is a kind of hitting. I spent a lifetime in finance and that "P" was the last letter I (grudgingly) put in the puzzle.

On the positive side, the top stack (we love stacks) is a gem with BADABINGBADABOOM and IMAGINARYFRIENDS - the DUKE being a gimme here opened that puppy right up - and quality downs. Our guest Rex (nice job, btw) pointed out all the millennial stuff, and we knew essentially none of it - but crosses were fair and we got it all (with one guess - NAENAE). I like a puzz where I learn something.

@Quasi (6:49) - We don't do dirty movies so the Anastasia STEELE name had to fill - but I cracked up at your comment that it sounded SNLish - absolutely!

Total non sequitur department - When someone gets a base on balls a lot of minor league teams throw the name of a bail bond company on the scoreboard and announce this "walk" brought to you by Vinnie's Bail Bonds. - get it? Our local team has started doing the same whenever our catcher throws out runner trying to steal a base - "Caught stealing? Call Vinnie's Bail Bonds". I like that better. (tip of the cap to Stephanie Plum)

pabloinnh 10:02 AM  

Fun triple stacks (always fun when you can do them) and a timely futbolista.

I enjoyed seeing "capybara" because I used to teach a Horacio Quiroga short story called "El paso del Yabebiri" in which our island-bound hero is saved by a kind capybara who swims across a stingray-infested river with the needed rifle on his head, if that all makes any sense. I think I always enjoyed it more that the kids did.

Teddi and Teddy 10:04 AM  

Liked it. We finished in under an hour, which for a Friday is good. Kudos to you under 20 min Friday solvers.
Capybara photos were the best! Thanks Ben

Bob Mills 10:08 AM  

I hated "SOSO" for "just fine." Otherwise a typical Friday, hard but doable (except for "SOSO," which means "mediocre." And "mediocre" isn't just fine).

Rob 10:08 AM  

Easier than it looked at first, had to infer some crosses but very doable. But man, there are some great long answers in here.

Mohair Sam 10:11 AM  

@Those wondering why some of us are bitching about 67A (RONALDO clue) - we ran our puzzles earlier - the original clue asked for "Spain's Madeira Airport" - obviously Will as apprised of the error and corrected.

Gulliver Foyle 10:28 AM  

Reiterating from above:

Madeira International Airport Cristiano Ronaldo, commonly known as Madeira Airport (Portuguese: Aeroporto da Madeira), or Funchal Airport (Aeroporto do Funchal) (IATA: FNC, ICAO: LPMA), is an international airport in the civil parish of Santa Cruz in the Portuguese archipelago and autonomous region of Madeira.

Tom 10:30 AM  

Almost tried to put squishees in 36a, but those are sold at Apu Nahasapeemapetilan's Quik-E- Mart. Thanks Hank Azaria. Thanks to "Send in the Clowns" song for remembering the lyric "isn't it RICH..." to help out with 45a. New way to clue GTO. Excellent solve, 43 seconds faster than my average.

Chazz Palminteri 10:43 AM  

If I were to do nothing else for the next ten years other than try to define BADA BING BADA BOOM, to explain to someone from Peoria how BADA BING BADA BOOM is used in context, I wouldn't come up with Voila. Not even after completely exhausted standard English, Italian, and frankly French. No Voila.

Junief 10:46 AM  

Anonymous: That’s the error. He’s not Spanish.

Carola 10:46 AM  

Like others, I found the top half easy, then had to go to work on the lower tier. A mistaken SLUshEES + not knowing DISTRO slowed me down on the right side for a while. Fun to write in: NAWLINS next to GRETNA Green, CAST LOTS (can't explain why; maybe because Scipio's soldiers might have?).

I really liked the TALENT MANAGEMENT in the grid, with a-TEAM representatives from the military (as @Sir Hilary noted; one could also add ARES to the DUKE, SCIPIO, and HECTOR [great catch!]), music with SOLTI, and sports with CRISTIANO RONALDO.

Hartley70 10:48 AM  

Another David Strindberg gem gave me a good time this morning. If my daughter hadn't gone through a CAPYBARA love phase as a child, that word would have defeated me. With the CAPYBARA advantage, I made it through the bottom half faster than the top, but this still felt like a Saturday to me.

I just saw a terrific photo of some of our regulars on the Stamford ACPT Facebook page. The good time was evident in their smiles!

TubaDon 10:50 AM  

Paper delivery was late, so I was wide awake for this one. The Iron DUKE's name popped out right away, and the vericals tooppled one-by-one to the crosses, the GOOM punctuating the last of the northern line to fall. Had to chuckle at NAWLINS. A flashback to 10th grade Latin class gave me SCIPIO and a dimly remembered CAPYBARA and a tentative ISRAEL.. gave me traction into the souther climes. TALENT... was obvious, but I was sidetracked by TMC instead of TCM for a short time until the MASTER CONTOLLER in my thalmus set me right. I cant come close to Ben or Rex for completiion time, but this was a fairly fast Friday fun feature for me.

A Grimwade 11:01 AM  

Agreed. This is a doubly horrible mistake. Madeira is a Portuguese island, and Ronaldo is the great Portuguese football and player.

GILL I. 11:17 AM  

AND HERE YOU HAVE IT fits. Dang, it's BADA BING BADA BOOM. GRETNA and BIDETS saved my soul.
@Susie Q...I always use BIDETS to wash my feet. In Spain it was originally used as arse wipe. The toilet paper back in the 60's was brown wrapping paper or something similar and it was more "sanitary" to have a little warm squirt up in that area rather than an itchy bum. How civilized that you got to choose except when you had to use a bathroom in a restaurant. My favorite was the two feet variety. You just had to be sure you stepped off the feet before you pulled the little string from the ceiling and flushed.
The upstairs was easier for me and more enjoyable than the basement.
I did smile at CAPYBARA. Bored Panda just had a cute little video of one named Chico prancing with cows and chickens and rats and alligators. They are very social for being giant rats.
Had no trouble with CRISTIANO RONALDO because I was and still am a huge Real Atletico fan. He and Messi are my soccer heroes. But boy did that clue make me do a double AARGH and HUH.....I'm with @ketschef and @Mohair....A major wrongy dongy.
An enjoyable romp today with just a few head scratcher. Don't know DISTRO. HECTOR was nearly impossible for me to get and cluing SERRANO as mouth burning is a tad exaggerated. SERRANOs are mild if you compare them to maybe an Habanero. If you can't take the heat of a SERRANO then you're a wuss.

Anonymous 11:18 AM  

App has Portugal so I presume Spain is print only error

Z 11:21 AM  

@Mohair Sam - Shortz et alii can’t fix the newspaper, though.
@Anon8:44 - The clue that anyone with a newspaper and, apparently, the early online solvers have is 67 Athlete for whom Spain’s Madeira Airport was renamed

oldbizmark 11:45 AM  

Squeaky clean solve for me. Easier than a usual Friday but no complaints. Best puzzle in a long while.

mathgent 11:58 AM  

Ms. STEELE was in a puzzle I did a few days ago, probably WSJ.

Enjoyable. David Steinberg does wonderful work.

What am I missing? How is APR "Kind of financing."

Nancy 12:07 PM  

So out of my wheelhouse as to have been in a parallel universe. Nonetheless, I finished it with no cheating...somehow.

GRETNA Green is a "historic" eloping site?
There's a dance called NAE NAE?
There's an athlete named CRISTIANO RONALDO?
CAPYBARA is an animal?
NAWLINS is a legit spelling?
BADA BING BADA BOOM? People say that?

Some nice clues and interesting long answers here, marred for me by a lot of really arcane contemporary stuff. I know there will be those who love it. I liked the crunch a lot, but wasn't wild about all the fill. Still, a very good challenge.

AW 12:50 PM  

12D "___ It Fun" (2014 Best Rock Song Grammy winner)
The song won in 2015.

Masked and Anonymous 1:03 PM  

This puppy steinbergered m&e. Stuff not in my bag:

* NAWLINS. I do get what they're gettin at, but SHEEHY-SH.
* GRETNA. Historic, huh? Musta slept thru that there lecture.
* NAENAE. More likey clue like this: {Rob Roy's taboo??}.
* SOLTI. Don't know many conductors. Especially ones that cross NAWLINS & GRETNA.
* SCIPIO. They coulda scipio-ed this entry, if they was of a mind to.
* DISTRO. Mean'n'less. Woulda been a good name for that Disney whale in the Pinnochio flick, tho.
* STEELE. Fifty shades of I don't know again. Or care, normally. Did wish I knew it during the solve, tho.
* SERRANO. Solve-burnin chili pepper.
* CAPYBARA. Well … may have vaguely heard of this varmint before. And thenafter forgot it. Might be thinkin of KOOKABURRA, tho.
* AARGH. Now, here's one that I not only knew, but was sorta in the mood for, by now.
* CRISTIANORONALDO. Never had the pleasure, no matter what the country. Coulda used about anything but South DAKOTA in the clue, and fooled the likes of m&e.
* BADABOOKBADABOOM. Only version I've ever heard tell of.

Needless to say, much research ensued, during the solvequest.

staff weeject pick: GTO. Enjoyed its clue's song reference. Yeah, yeah …

Thanx for the mildly sadistic puz, Steinbergmeister. Your penance is to work on the runt down in the depths of this cast of lots.

Distro-ed Masked & AnonymoUUs


Teedmn 1:15 PM  

Like Robso 7:05, I had ATMS instead of INNS to start with at 24A, just picturing those dollar bills nestling in their little home, waiting to be distributed out into the cold world...Righto.

That, along with SerPIO before SCIPIO, Golden Rules (I was wondering when the original rule had been added to) before RATIO and pesTeR before HECTOR, were my write-overs. 61D, with the I in place, had me reflexively filling in Inga before considering that Young Frankenstein wasn't exactly a horror flick.

Even with all of that extra black ink, I had a sub-13 minute finish so a pretty easy Friday for me. And as a non-soccer fan, that Madeira Airport could have been in either Spain or Portugal (my puzzle's clue said Portugal) and it would have made no difference to me.

Nice one, DS.

Angry Richard 1:17 PM  

I am among those who believe OFL too frequently criticizes the editors and editorial process of the NYT. However, I think that the mistake of initially saying that either the most famous or second most famous soccer player in the world has an airport in SPAIN renamed for him is absolutely inexcusable and terribly careless. To compound this mistake, the clue was changed at least 90 minutes after being posted WITHOUT some acknowledment of the initial flagrant cluing error. AARGH to Will and staff, along with possibly Jeff Chen and Jim Hendry (spelling?)

DrBB 1:36 PM  

DUKEOFWELLINGTON was a gimme and that made the whole North fall quickly--more like a Wednesday than a Friday up there, difficulty-wise, triple-stack notwithstanding. The South half had more snags for me and made it feel more Friday-worthy, including some nice contemporary-ish references (I wanted DISTRO to be DEBIAN, but fair enough). My only really grump was SOSO, which nohow no way means "just fine." I would have clued it "It could be better," or even better, "Not so how." Definitely falls on the negative line of "How ya doing?" responses.

FWIW, my particular favorite response to that question when things are not so how is "Fair to partly cloudy."

Banana Diaquiri 1:47 PM  

@Nancy (et al):
BADA BING BADA BOOM? People say that?

in mob TeeVee shows and movies, all the time. generally set in NYC, of course. code for a hit.

CAPYBARA I always want to say chupacabra (yes, I want to believe)

Richard 1:51 PM  

Excuse me for basically posting the same comment three times. They did not seem to be posted immediately.

Master Melvin 1:59 PM  

Love stacks. Loved this one. 16 wide, too.

Throwing down DUKE OF WELLINGTON with no crosses gave me a great start.

Nothing wrong with NAWLINS. There must be 50 places along Bourbon St where you can buy a NAWLINS tee shirt.

@Mohair: Your post reminds me of Bad News Bears, where the sponsor on the back of their uniforms is CHICO'S BAIL BONDS, if I remember correctly.

Banana Diaquiri 2:04 PM  

I don't keep my dead trees copy, so from memory, the clue for MOOT is the opposite of its true meaning, but in sync with what most people believe:
"open to discussion or debate; debatable; doubtful"

Nancy 2:11 PM  

Sorry, @Quasi. Sorry, @Suzie Q. I would much, much rather have a BIDET in my house than a urinal. (Did I remember to say much, much rather?)

I thought the worst thing about having CRISTIANO RONALDO in today's puzzle was not knowing who the heck he was. Like me. But now I see that knowing who he was and also knowing that he was Portuguese BEGET many more problems.

@Teedmn -- I also had ATMS before INNS (24A). And actually, I think it's the better answer. But BYLINES (9D), the only real slam dunk in the neighborhood, straightened me out pretty quickly.

@Hartley -- Your daughter went through a "CAPYBARA love phase as a child"? Does that mean that you kept a CAPYBARA (whatever the hell that is) as a pet?

Chip Hilton 2:50 PM  

Geez, you soccer people are sensitive! Spain/Portugal, what’s the big deal? Makes me no never mind. All I care about is my boy Aaron Judge, who’s gonna clobber the Yankees tonight! Go, Sox!

Norm 2:51 PM  

You need to consult a better dictionary than dictionary.com. Per Merriam-Webster [and probably any lawyer] MOOT is something that is "deprived of practical significance : made abstract or purely academic" or, per the clue, "no longer important." Appeals or certain issues on appeal are often dismissed as moot when no relief can be awarded because of changed circumstances.

Unknown 3:01 PM  

My app has Spain.

Anonymous 3:03 PM  


As usual your gibberish got my goat. Moot can handle the load of meaning debatable and not worthy of debate because the outcome is uncertain or insignificant. These are both primary definitions. Look in any dictionary you like. The purported conflict between the real and popular meanings is a distinction which only exists in your head.

The big news today folks is Porsche using the fastest race car in history to obliterate the track record at the Nurburing. can't wait for banana to explain Stuggart's latest to me.

Banana Diaquiri 4:06 PM  

Per Merriam-Webster [and probably any lawyer]

ask your lawyer the purpose of moot court.

Banana Diaquiri 4:07 PM  

As usual your gibberish got my goat

of course, as I am the GOAT.

catpez 4:14 PM  

I'm embarrassed that I didn't get CRISTIANO RONALDO -- just a few days ago I came across a meme regarding his bronze bust @ Maderia airport. They originally had a smiling Ronaldo bronze statue, which was ridiculed mercilessly (remember the Lucille Ball statue fiasco?), so they replaced it with a serious Ronaldo. Now everyone wants the wacky Ronaldo back. Search on "cristiano ronaldo bronze sculpture" and the fun will ensue.

Go figure.

Finished the puzzle only with lots of help -- much of the historical references were way out of my wheelhouse.

Z 4:47 PM  

Oxford English Dictionary Online agrees with both @Norm and @Banana Diaquiri. As for me, I suggest taking Mental Floss’s advice.

RooMonster 4:54 PM  

@AW 12:50
We've had that discussion here mega times. Here is how it works:
The awards for the year 2014 are given in the year 2015. The whole year of 2014 had to be complete for every song to be considered. So the awards are given in 2015 for 2014 songs. So when the clue says 2014 Best Song/Movie/Show/Whatever, it will be given in 2015.
Got it?


Outside The Box 6:16 PM  

Totally agree about 39-Down/46-Across. Cluing for APR is totally wrong. And what the heck is a capybara? Never heard of it.

Sonny Corleone 6:40 PM  

BADA-BING -- In the March 2009 "Vanity Fair," "The Godfather Wars," Page 327, actor James Caan discusses his portrayal of Sonny in movie classic "The Godfather." He used "a rapid-fire, Don-Rickles-meets-the-Mob bravado that elevated his character to a whole new level. Then a phrase was delivered to him straight from improvisational heaven. It popped into his mouth as he mocked Michael, after hearing his kid brother say he intended to kill Sollozzo and McCluskey, the corrupt Irish cop who had broken his (Michael's) jaw: 'What do you think this is, the army, where you shoot 'em a mile away? You gotta get up close, like this - and bada-bing! You blow their brains all over your nice Ivy League suit.' Bada-bing became a mantra for mobsters and aspiring mobsters. More recently, it served as the name of Tony Soprano's strip club in 'The Sopranos.' 'Bada-bing? Bada-boom? I said that, didn't I? Or did I just say 'bada-bing'? 'It just came out of my mouth - I don't know from where.'" The Godfather Wars, Vanity Fair, March 2009, online at http://www.vanityfair.com/culture/features/2009/03/godfather200903

sanfranman59 6:59 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 3:43 4:30 0.83 6.2% Easy
Tue 5:37 5:21 1.05 61.1% Medium-Challenging
Wed 6:44 6:39 1.01 57.4% Medium
Thu 16:24 9:33 1.65 94.4% Challenging
Fri 8:43 12:55 0.68 9.3% Easy

An Easy David Steinberg Friday? That's almost unheard of and with an over-sized grid to boot. My solve time was 8+ minutes below my average on 23 previous DS Fridays. So this was a big departure for me.

My erasures were lAKOTA before DAKOTA (3D), GRETel(?) before GRETNA (8D), eRoS before ARES (55A ... mythology is a major weak area for me), pAcYBARA (cousin of an elephant?) before CAPYBARA (39D ... a little episode of dyslexia there perhaps) and Mer (duh) before MAL (66D).

I think there were only two total WTFs for me here (30A: NAENAE and 41: DISTRO). STEELE (47A) and AIN'T (12D) were also beyond me, but I didn't really even see either one since they were filled in by crosses. SCIPIO (38A) was tough, but I've at least heard of him.

I was surprised that an airport in Spain was renamed for RONALDO and with good reason. The airport is in Madeira, Portugal (oops). That makes much more sense.

I don't think that APR is really a "kind of financing", is it? Between this and the airport in Spain, I think the editors were either asleep or high or both when they published this one.

Adam 8:34 PM  

Finally my lack of interest in soccer combined with my lack of world geographical knowledge combined to allow me to get CRISTIANO RONALDO and not know there was anything wrong.

I used to watch ZOBOOMAFOO with my kids; they did a whole episode on the CAPYBARA, which was consequently a gimme.

I liked this one a lot, although I found it a tad easy for a Friday.

Monty Boy 8:45 PM  

@M&A 1:04 said it all for me. Looks like a Saturday for my wheel-house.

Ian 12:16 AM  

Ronaldo stroked his chin when he scored his third goal in the opening game of the World Cup. Why? Goat whiskers. He was taunting his opponents. G(reatest) O(f) A(ll) T(ime).

Ian 12:20 AM  


RavTom 9:25 AM  

So the specific type of software is irrelevant to the clue? It’s just an example of a kind of software?

AW 10:50 AM  

Got it. Thanks for condescending to set me straight.

Anonymous 9:22 PM  

The Ronaldo mistake is an epic fail. Really really bad.

+wordphan 3:21 AM  

Great job! Love, love the capybara!

Unknown 7:13 AM  


spacecraft 11:02 AM  

I somewhat surprised myself on this one. Though I didn't know any more of it than, say, @M&A, I seem to be done with it--and correctly (!)--in relatively short order. Of course, it's a huge help to plunk down a gimme gridspanner: DUKEOFWELLINGTON. Off that start I fairly soon had the north. Actually, down in the middle (BTW, why is ODOMETER clued "Middle of a dash?"?), around that six-square black blob, is where I had the most trouble. The dance was a total WOE, but I had NAENA_ and simply assumed a repeating E, which left me with ER_CA, so what could that be but ERICA? Ms. Hall, I profusely apologize for not knowing you--in fact, let me make amends by awarding you the DOD sash. DISTRO, of course, was a WHA??.

Down below, I didn't know my sweaty peppers, so there was a Natick with that "Fifty Shades" name. I am proud to report that I have never read that--and never will. People who somehow think there's not ALREADY enough pain in the world aren't worth an instant of my time. Eventually I wound up with STE_LE, so I inferred the other E. And RONALDO has a first name? Who knew? Also, I don't recognize "MASTERCONTROLLER." Is that a title? Kind of reminds me of a STTOS episode called "Spock's Brain."

[EYMORG] Brain and brain; what is brain?
[MCCOY] It controls bodily functions.
[EYMORG] CONTROLLER! It is not allowed!

Despite these unknowns, I wrapped this up within half an hour, which for me would generate an "easy" rating--relative to Friday. But it didn't feel easy doing it. I can't explain. About my only nose-wrinkler was the unfortunate bleedover NTEST: I detest that in crosswords AND in real life. Let's put a ban on both. Birdie.

thefogman 11:02 AM  

Another great one by the wunderkind. The top half was easy peasy for me. I thought it was going to be BADABINGBADABOOM, until I worked my way down. Turns out the top was soft and the bottom was crunchy. But there was nothing half-baked about it. ONTARGET as usual. Well done Mr. Steinberg.

thefogman 11:10 AM  

PS - The Ronaldo booboo is one that MATERCONTROLLER Will Shortz should have corrected.

Burma Shave 11:55 AM  


ONTARGET to be a GRANDE high-roller.


centralscrewtinizer 1:47 PM  

Exact same solve as @Lewis I am happy to say.
Before YAMS tAro and of course SLUsh before SLURP. What's that noise?
Like BTEAM and BETAS reflecting each other.
NeyNey before correct answer. Sorry I just can't write that. Nay.
RICH was slow to come up, obscured by brain thinking droll. Droll.

rainforest 2:21 PM  

I was going to beat my chest and brag how smart I am, but I see about everyone found this relatively easy. Oh well.

One write-over: sweet pEA=>TEA, but otherwise clean. I too was a tad confused about the RONALDO clue, but basically shrugged my shoulders and moved on. Wonderful player, but Pele remains the greatest in my mind, though.

There were a few entries I didn't know, but there were also some which just opened up the stacks for me, and so I guess I'd call this "medium", but I enjoyed the entire solve.

This guy Steinberg is impressive. (Ed. note: The original David Steinberg, Canadian comedian and director/producer is/was also impressive and creative.)

Favourite clue: the one for ODOMETER.

rondo 2:28 PM  

One write-over as I figured HECkle was quite appropriate, don’t HECTOR me on that.

This puz must be skewing old since DAKOTA Territory hasn’t been a thing for 130 years. However, yeah baby DAKOTA Johnson skews about a hundred years younger than that. The eastern half of the current North and South DAKOTAs were actually part of the Minnesota Territory. And the western half of DAKOTA Territory became parts of Montana and Wyoming. And if you’ve seen 50 Shades, you know that no part of DAKOTA Johnson is in a state of virgin territory. And that woulda been two 50 Shades clues.

I guess PSHAW is what you say when you can’t say pshit.

When the BYLINE’S DS, it’s always better than SOSO.

El Dingo 3:32 PM  

Is no one else annoyed by the desperate invention AARGH? Since I have no clue regarding any newscasters younger than Walter Cronkite, ERICA could just as well have been ERICh... giving us hARGH.

Which is just as legitimate as the pathetic double-A AARGH.

Hargh, hargh, hargh.

Diana,LIW 4:13 PM  

Not easy. Not peasy.

Skews neither old nor new. Or knew, for that matter for me.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for brain awakening

Waxy in Montreal 5:13 PM  

OENO! Five weeks on and the NYT MASTERCONTROLLER still hasn't seen fit to correct the 67A error - we syndisolvers obviously rating only BTEAM respect.

Loved the puzzle though. This David Steinberg obviously has has as many tricks up his sleeve as the his older namesake has/had. Introduced to NAENAE, DISTRO and CAPYBARA today. GRETNA Green featured for years in cheesy stories in the British press (Newsof the World, etc.) about young English couples who eloped just north of the border to get hitched under the much more liberal Scottish regulations - at the other end of the spectrum from the quickie Las Vegas divorce mills.

leftcoatTAM 6:42 PM  

Really a good one. What I'd expect from David Steinberg.

But I have few nit-picks:

Doesn't the AFL still exist as part of the AFL-CIO? SOSO is "Just fine"? More like meh or okay, isn't it? MOOT is "No longer important"? Isn't it something still worth debating?

I didn't finish, but I liked it.

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