King of Belgium during W.W. II / THU 8-16-18 / Engineering discipline for short / Spring awakening sign / Agricultural giant with mascot Bobby Banana

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Constructor: Alan Arbesfeld

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium (or harder, if you're not familiar with the subject's body of work) (4:49)

THEME: ROBERT / DENIRO (64A: With 65-Across, subject of this puzzle, born 8/17/1943) — a tribute puzzle honoring the actor on (or, you know, near) his 75th birthday:

Theme answers:
  • CASINO (1A: 64-/65-Across work of 1995)
  • THE FAN (7A: 64-/65-Across work of 1996)
  • GOODFELLAS (18A: 64-/65-Across work of 1990)
  • RAGING BULL (34A: 64-/65-Across work of 1980) 
  • DEER HUNTER (40A: 64-/65-Across work of 1978, with "The")
  • TAXI DRIVER (53A: 64-/65-Across work of 1976)
  • FILM STUDIO (10D: Employer of 64-/65-Across)
  • COMEDY CLUB (25D: Venue for a 64-/65-Across movie of 2016)
Word of the Day: "THE FAN" (7A) —
The Fan is a 1996 American psychological thriller film directed by Tony Scott, and starring Robert De Niro and Wesley Snipes, based on  the novel by Peter Abrahams. [...] The Fan got mixed to negative reviews from critics, as it holds a 34% rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 29 reviews. // The film brought in $18,626,419 in the United States and Canada. The opening weekend brought in $6,271,406 and then dropped down 47.2% the subsequent weekend. (wikipedia)
• • •

Is this puzzle talkin' to me!?

I don't know if it's talkin' to me, but I'm talking to you, and I'm telling you this is the worst kind of tribute puzzle. DENIRO is a legend and this puzzle has some great movies in it, but a grid crammed (over-crammed) with (sometimes arbitrary) trivia is one of the least pleasurable solving experiences imaginable. Here, I'll let constructing veteran Eric Berlin explain the problem:

Suffers! I haven't seen ABIE is soooo long, what the hell? You're gonna bring him out of retirement at the same time you trot out ARNE and ENTR' and REUP and ITER (!) TRAX (!?) and three-R, non-Aaron BRRR, sir? C'mon, stop, Stop. YOW. And, hey, there's HRE! I would love it if there were 2016 campaign t-shirts with typos that said "I'M WITH HRE!" and, say, a picture of Charlemagne or something. I would wear one of those. But I digress. This puzzle has ATIT and a TEAT, and also an ASS. Fun. What's not fun: totally forced, non-movie-title trivia like FILM STUDIO (?) and COMEDY CLUB. I mean, I loved "King of Comedy" but ... wait ... what? 2016 movie??? what the hell movie is that? [goes to wikipedia] ... "The Comedian"??? What Is That? Here, I'll tell you what it is. Actually, I won't. I'll just quote this tiny bit from the wikipedia entry: 
In North America, The Comedian was released alongside Rings and The Space Between Us, and was projected to gross $1–3 million from about 800 theaters in its opening weekend. It ended up debuting to just $892,021, finishing 21st at the box office. Deadline Hollywoodattributed the film's poor opening to negative critical reception and lack of award buzz, similar to Gold the week prior.
So COMEDY CLUB is not just an arbitrary phrase, it's a phrase related to a movie that almost no one saw. Unreal. Seriously, these long Downs are just "Can I find *anything* lying around DENIRO's long career and/or the entire world of movie-making that I can shoehorn into this space?" The aesthetic decision-making here is baffling. And "THE FAN"??? LOL, what? You're gonna put iconic stuff like TAXI DRIVER and RAGING BULL and GOODFELLAS in here and then try to sneak "THE FAN" (???) in there in the upper right, like I'm not gonna notice. Lesser pics chosen solely for their ability to fit in a grid symmetrically Do Not Belong. It diminishes the tribute.

Oh, and lastly, I leave you with the puzzle's final problem—one that is somehow as pedestrian as it is pertinent: his birthday is T O M O R R O W ...
    Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

    P.S. today (actually today) is Madonna's 60th birthday. Tribute? (Actually, in the NYT proper, yes; worth reading)

    [Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


    Lewis 7:50 AM  

    I loved the misdirect clues for AREA and EMTS, and there, for me, the wordplay of the puzzle ended, but every once in a while I like a puzzle that takes me out of Wordplay World.

    And after solving this, I read a little bit about DeNiro, and what is sticking with me is:

    * His dad was an artist who studied at Black Mountain College, which exists no longer, but made for a fascinating story, with faculty and students including Buckminster Fuller, Robert Rauschenberg, the De Koonings, John Cage, and Allen Ginsburg. Worth reading about.

    * In "King of Comedy", DeNiro's character, an aspiring comedian, along with another character (played by Sandra Bernhard), kidnap a late night Johnny-Carson-like tv host (played by Jerry Lewis) on air, during DeNiro's monologue, and I love DeNiro's final line of that monologue: "“Tomorrow you’ll know I wasn’t kidding and you’ll all think I’m crazy. But I figure it this way: Better to be king for a night than a schmuck for a lifetime.”

    mmorgan 7:52 AM  

    I don't really disagree with Rex's critique of the puzzle's design, but I still enjoyed solving it. Sorry not to see Cape Fear here, but thank you so much for leaving out Meet the Fockers!!!

    Unknown 7:53 AM  

    Tomorrow is also my 30th birthday so this puzzle really missed the mark.

    'mericans in Paris 7:58 AM  

    Finished this one in about the same time as yesterday’s. Would have completed it faster if I wasn’t on the constant look-out for a rebus, such as A(Mp) METER, which is what I call the device. I was put-off at first by the cross-references (more on that below), but once I sussed out that the oeuvres were titles of popular films, the rest filled in itself pretty quickly. I had a number of write-overs, to be sure. But here’s a secret for any clue about a Belgian king: except for a 24-year period in the early 20th century (when King Albert I reigned), every Belgian monarch that reigned between 1831 and 1951 was named LEOPOLD.

    As a tribute puzzle, I admire that the constructor was able to fit in so many film titles without too much dreck. (It can’t run on a Friday, Dinero’s birthday, because Fridays are themeless, right?) But what was more fun for us (Mrs. ‘mericans came in at the end) was the fill, which was often cleverly clued. Ironically, it was Mrs. ‘m who grocked the plumbing sense of snake at 1 D, as well as OLDER; I was ready to enter, respectively “a LeG” and “a Life”. Nice to see OISE as an answer. The municipal cemetery of Auvers-sur-OISE (about 20 miles NW of Paris), where Vincent and Theo Van Gogh’s side-by-side graves are covered by intertwined ivy taken from Dr. Gachet’s home, is a regular stop for us when we have visitors.

    Interesting clue & answer set at 23 D. International TRADE is much maligned these days, basically because the ignoramuses in charge of the country’s policy don’t seem to understand that it is not less than, but rather more than, a simple quid pro quo arrangement: it is something that can ultimately improve the welfare of both partners.

    One thing that took away part of the enjoyment of this puzzle for me, however, was the inexplicably ugly way that the cross-references to the bottom row were made. What kind of punctuation is “64-/65-Across”? Seems like either Will Shortz or the person charged with transcribing the puzzle into print and the app has a limited set of marks available. (Suggestion: drink your coffee away from your keyboard.) “Hey, just use that universal punctuation mark, the slash!” With just one extra character, they could have written “64 & 65 Across work of …” and “Employer of 64 & 65 Across” (or, if you feel the two entries should be more closely linked, “64-65 Across”). Doesn’t that look neater? It does to me.

    kitshef 8:15 AM  

    Finished successfully, but had to Google post-solve to figure out what HRE meant.

    For most of my life, we were taught that a lichen was a symbiotic relationship between and fungus and an alga (or a fungus and a cyanobacterium). Now it appears that there are actually two (or more) fungi involved in any lichen, plus the alga or cyanobacterium.

    In England, ‘lichen’ is pronounced to rhyme with ‘kitchen’.

    In Namibia, there is a lichen field that is an honest-to-goodness, signposted from the highway, tourist attraction.

    Unknown 8:16 AM  

    No, sorry. Kept Quarters/Resided. That's a horrible clue/answer.

    Suzie Q 8:28 AM  

    The NYT is not the venue for this puzzle esp. on a Thursday.
    No fun at all. No Aha moments. There are no words for my disappointment. It is true that my day began with a truck that wouldn't start and a pile of puppy poop on the rug. Then I find that someone hijacked my Thursday puzzle. Bah humbug.
    I did think Rex had a funny t-shirt idea.

    Nancy 8:32 AM  

    So he was born on 8/17/1943. So what? Who cares?

    I hate tribute puzzles. They're always a complete snoozefest. But a tribute puzzle on a Thursday is worse than a snoozefest. It's a sacrilege. How could you do this to us, Will?

    Or maybe it's the reason you gave us such a terrific Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday this week. Maybe you were trying to make it up to us in advance. Knowing that the inevitable was coming...

    But why was it inevitable, Will? Is ROBERT DE NIRO a longtime family friend? Did he pay for your college education? Or perhaps, in one of his many tough guy roles, he "made you an offer you couldn't refuse"? Whatever. This is a terrible Thursday! I was hoping Rex would trash it, and he did.

    JJ_Rural_MO 8:39 AM  

    One of my fastest Thursday ever. Though even after figuring out it was Deniro movies, that still left a lot of choices. Took me a while to get over COttonCLUB for 25D. And it seemed there was almost a sub-theme of 2 syllable "i" answers: "ATIT, IPAD, TACIT, ISIN, VIDI, ITOO, ITER, RIOT, ABIE, BIER".

    RooMonster 8:45 AM  

    Hey All !
    Now I'm not one who usually debases Rex, it's his BLOGS and he can say whatever he pleases. I enjoy his (and y'alls) take on the puzs. That being said, he is way off the mark today with his lambasting of todays puz. Not only is he late to post today, but he rips apart a perfectly fine Tribute Puz. There's nothing wrong with Tribute Puzs, and todays is jam packed full of goodies. There are 9 themers, 10 if you separate ROBERT and DENIRO. I'm actually impressed by the fill, as the grid is under big constraints. I'm going to say it again, Every Puz Has Dreck. Even Rex's puzs do. He even admitted that on here a few times. This puz? Amazing fill, with all that theme. Most of what Rex complained about, is established -ese that doesn't bother the casual solver.
    THE FAN may not have been the most memorable movie RD ever made, but it was a decent flick, also starring Wesley Snipes as DENIROs object of obsession. A psycho role that DENIRO pegged pretty well. I could only imagine if "The Intern" was in here. Rex might have had a stroke.

    So, if you read all that, suffice to say I liked this puz. Who cares if it's a day early? THAW out, man.

    Anyway, I found it somewhat easy-medium, if that makes sense. Took a minute or two to get a foothold in spots, as the theme took up alot of space. But only had two writeovers, TUgS-TUBS, AMpErEr-AMMETER. Not too many REDOs! Got TRAXion after awhile. Har.

    TEATs and ASS 😋 🤣

    Stanley Hudson 8:48 AM  

    Just didn’t do it for me. There’s always tomorrow.

    Wm. C. 8:48 AM  

    Wow, not many comments yet for a mid-week puzzle.

    Unlike for others, this puzzle played hard for me. I'm not much of a film fan, though I have seen one of the De Niro films (Goodfellas) and have heard of the others (except The Fan). And I agree that Comedy Club is a bit remote.

    What really surprised me, though, is the extent of De Niro's work. As I googled the list of his works I was amazed at how many films he's done. And still at it at age 75 (almost). I normally have to google a bit late-week, but on this mid-week puzzle I think I set an all-time googling record.

    A bit frustrating for me on a day that plays generally challenging, but do-able.

    FLAC 8:52 AM  

    Best thing about the puzzle was that it made me recall DeNiro's many movies -- including great ones that weren't in the grid, like Mean Streets and The Godfather 2. Otherwise, kinda ho-hum.

    Matthew G. 9:05 AM  

    Will couldn’t save this puzzle for a year when De Niro’s birthday fell on a Tuesday?

    TomAz 9:05 AM  

    My experience was much like Rex's. If the puzzle had limited itself to the four classics (GOODFELLAS, RAGING BULL, TAXI DRIVER, THE DEER HUNTER) it would have been a lot better. Too bad The Godfather Part II is too long to fit.

    TRAX crossing ABIE is the worst.

    I do like the Charlemagne t-shirt idea.

    John V 9:06 AM  

    Hate, hate. tribute puzzles

    QuasiMojo 9:07 AM  

    @Wm C. There might have been more comments, such as mine which for no reason at all seems to have been omitted.

    Carola 9:08 AM  

    Disgruntlement alert. Not a FAN, of the movies (not having see any of them) or of the tribute theme on a Thursday.

    Thanks, @Rex, for the HRE t-shirt laugh and @kitshef for the lichen tidbits.

    Nancy 9:15 AM  

    @Matthew G. (9:05) -- I've selected your comment as Comment of the Day -- even before most of the others go up. Very funny. Wish I'd said it.

    Bagelboy 9:18 AM  

    Tribute puzzle fine, but agree completely that over-cramming crap movies and related trivia killed the fill. OISE, ENTR, ALGA, NOEL, LANG all crammed in the middle just garbage. Still ended up just 1 minute shy of my Thursday best.

    Anonymous 9:25 AM  

    Bleh. Trax crossing with Abie, never heard of either. Then ammeter crossing Arne, both also unknown.

    GILL I. 9:29 AM  

    A tad on the meh side. I'm not a fan of tribute puzzles. I also figured out who Alan was referring to right after entering GOOD FELLAS. Went to the bottom and ROBERT DENIRO just slid in. With just maybe a letter or two, I figured out the rest of the films.
    I'm impressed that so many of his films were referenced here but the price of admission didn't quite cut it for me. The first thing I thought of was how stale and oldish it felt. ITER? Really? I think that was one of the first Roman thingies I memorized back in the Bronze Age. Even ORLANDO as clued for 18A felt Shakespearian old.
    So OBERLIN was the first to break from tradition? Good for them. If it ever appears on Jeopardy, I'll ring in.

    jberg 9:37 AM  

    I'm feeling bad -- I know a lot of these movies were good, even great, but I haven't seen a single one of them. I've got to get out more.

    I was kind of annoyed by the puzzle, but not nearly as much as Rex. CLOG was pretty good, as has been pointed out, and there was a lot of other clever cluing. And I learned that the Holy Roman Empire lasted a lot longer than I'd thought -- crosswords are so educational!

    Actually, I've never had a BURRITO, either -- tacos, enchiladas, tamales, yes, but somehow the occasion hasn't arisen. Maybe I'll get one the next time I go to a movie.

    Hartley70 9:38 AM  

    I had fun with this, although I was sure for a while that Martin Scorsese was going to appear. Doesn’t he always? I don’t mind a tribute puzzle at all and why not stuff the theme? DeNiro is an American icon and rather a force of nature. I love a rebus Thursday as much as the next solver, but it’s all the sweeter if Will mixes it up and at least this isn’t a baseball theme.

    There was a nice mix of easy and difficult movies to conjure up. I also was a FAN of the fill. I like a little education in the morning and I got it with TRAX, OBERLIN, ITOO, HRE and RIGA. They were all gettable from crosses and I’ll remember OBERLIN and RIGA. ITOO would buy one of Rex’s HRE tees for sure.

    pmdm 9:41 AM  

    Roo Monster: I'm with you in that I liked the puzzle more than Mr. Sharp and Mr. Chen did. (I much prefer the way that Mr. Chen expresses dissatisfaction.) But it's not true that just because a person has a blog that person has a right to say whatever that person wants to say. Owning a blog does not give you the right to lie, bully, conspire to overthrow the government, and so forth. While I don't think Mr. Sharp overstepped the line today, I do believe he sometimes does, which I would say is wrong. Some people, like Will Shortz, don't pay him attention because he thinks Mr. Sharp is a "crank". I would change that to "over the top at times," which for me is OK as long as that line is not crossed.

    I am a movie fan with little time to watch movies. While some of the movie titles refer to iconic masterpieces (Deer Hunter, The Godfather), in general I needed a DeNero database list to complete today's puzzle. And without any real payoff for me. This puzzle reminds me of a puzzle published many years ago whose theme was also movie titles. In that case, the theme involved Alfred Hitchcock movies. I am a great fan of Hitchcock, but somehow that doesn't impact on my reaction to tribute puzzles. I support the concept, but they tend to just leave me feeling like I solved a themeless puzzle. Odd.

    Sometimes it seems Mr. Sharp complains just for the sake of complaining, perhaps to stir the pot. Since the puzzle was published today, he complains that the puzzle was published the day before the actual birthday event. If it were published tomorrow, he would complain as he has in the past that Fridays are supposed to be themeless. Seemed a little transparent to me today. THe the whole premiss is wrong (to me). Often, significant events are celebrated for the entire year. The classical music world has been celebrating the 100th anniversary of Leonard Bernstein's birthday all year long. Of course, radio station will ramp up the celebration Radio station will ramp up the celebration on August 25. I wonder how much Mr. Shortz likes the legacy of Mr. Bernstein.

    RAD2626 9:44 AM  

    NW was easy corner so CASINO went in right away which meant 64/65 across went in right away and it was cool having ROBERT DENIRO as the literal foundation of the puzzle which was otherwise mostly blank. Small but positive note. Otherwise not much to add to others’ comments.

    G. Weissman 9:46 AM  

    I’d add ALGA to the list of B.S. in this piss-poor puzzle.

    michiganman 9:53 AM  

    My first theme answer was ROBERT DENIRO after a slow start. Then RAGING BULL. It was mostly smooth sailing after that but not especially easy. I liked clever cluing for CLOG, IPAD, EMTS, NOEL, OLDER. FILMSTUDIO felt LAME somehow, expected a name. Crosses: AIMED/ DEERHUNTER, TRADE/RIOT (Wall Street?). RIOT(Hoot)/COMEDYCLUB.
    THE FAN was a very good movie. If it had equaled the better known works at the box office it, too, would be on the A list. Box office and Oscars are not the only standard. Like anything else personal taste affects likes and dislikes. I hated Birdman (I know it's not Deniro)and would have walked out if I had not been with friends. Further, some of Deniro's comedy movies are less than stellar.

    Linda Vale 9:53 AM  

    Can someone please explain 55d ISIN ?

    ArtO 9:54 AM  

    YOW! That was some tough write-up directed at one of the all time constructors. But, I must admit much of it was warranted. Went down to 64/65a, got ROBERT/DENIRO with a couple of crosses and the rest was just sussing out the films...a few of which I'd never heard of. Too easy for Thursday.

    Anonymous 9:56 AM  


    Anonymous 10:07 AM  

    Why is The Fan a problem? The puzzle is about DeNiro movies; there's no requirement they be good movies. It's a fine tribute puzzle, some really nice bits like Douglas, Oberlin and Orlando.

    As for comedy club, it's a spot on clue for a movie that has its flaws but plenty of high spots too. Besides, it's famous enough. Tayor hackford (A lister) directed, and Edie Falco( A lister), Patti LuPone ( A lister) Danny DeVito ( A lister) are all good in supporting roles.

    I'm with Harley. After Goodfellas and Casio, I went to 64 across and Martin fit right in. 65 across proved difficult. Took me a while to give up on Scorsese, which I'm sure Mr. Arbesfeld intended.
    Thank you sir. I enjoyed it.

    Sioux Falls 10:11 AM  

    @Linda Vale — ISIN is gangspeak for “I am in” (I.e., yes, I’ll do it) Think “I is in” = I’s in = ISIN

    Anonymous 10:11 AM  

    What an utterly wretched experience. It ended in 1806? Huh? King of Belgium? Some sci-fi I never heard of crossing a 1922 Broadway show I never heard of? YOW! Horrible clueing, totally non fun. If solving was like this everyday, I wouldn’t. Yuck!

    Anonymous 10:17 AM  

    Linda Vale 9:53, like Boston slang or something, some kind of contraction / slur for “I is in”

    CDilly52 10:17 AM  

    HAHAHA! I have had that song from A Chorus Line running through my head constantly since I finished the puz in the wee hours this morning! Happy to see I may not be alone.

    Lewis 10:18 AM  

    @anon 9:44 -- Actually OBAMA has appeared only once this week, yesterday.

    TJS 10:21 AM  

    Thought this was one of the best puzzles TV Guide has ever published. Wait...what? Oh,never mind.

    Anonymous 10:38 AM  

    @idiots: "is in", as 3rd person present - no slang, no Boston, no "urban", no nothing. "He joins the gang"; "he is in for the lunch outing"...

    @anon 9:44 Yes, it is cruel to keep being reminded what presidents could be...should be...were meant to be...

    kitshef 10:46 AM  

    @Linda Vale - if her co-workers ask Mary to lunch and she says yes, she is in. [if she says no, she is out].

    Odd Sock 10:47 AM  

    Even though DeNiro has aged badly and turned into a spittle-flinging rabid self-important nutcase he has done some quality screen work.
    If the puzzle was designed to highlight his best work I would have included Ronin and Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. The latter has an impressive cast and DeNiro plays the monster if you can imagine that.
    I recommend both.
    The puzzle was a big letdown. TV Guide indeed.

    Outside The Box 10:47 AM  

    How is The Godfather (part II I believe) left out of this puzzle?

    Anonymous 10:51 AM  

    So sad, I see Aretha Franklin died. Another legend lost.
    That would be a worthy subject for a tribute puzzle.

    Crimson Devil 10:56 AM  

    T & A duly noted; TRAX/ABIE complete mystery; thanks for education re demise of HRE and for memories of De Niro, one of the best, along with Duvall.

    Joe Bleaux 11:03 AM  

    Re 55(D), enough with the ridiculous "I is" explanations! As soon as one "says yes" to the gang, one IS IN it, simple as that.

    pabloinnh 11:03 AM  

    LEOPOLD and OBERLIN went in instantly, because my head if full of useless stuff like this.(SADR City would be Exhibit C.)The DeNiro movies I know about rather than know so easy enough.

    Too fast for a Thurs. I miss the stunt puzzles.

    Richard 11:06 AM  

    If there ever was a puzzle that justified a rant against Will and the NYT, this seems like it to me. I think the review was spot on without being nasty. I disagree with it in only one respect. It left out The Deer Hunter in the list of iconic movies.

    old timer 11:10 AM  

    Not so easy for me but I got everything in the end. I have seen or at least heard of most of those DeNiro movies.

    I want novice puzzlers to know they need to know HRE. Stands for the Holy Roman Empire, founded by Charlemagne and perished in 1806 under Napoleon. There were stretches of history when being elected Emperor meant something. Yes, elected. because the rulers of certain countries were Electors, able to choose an Emperor when the post became vacant. In the end, the Archduke of Austria (a Hapsburg) was always also the emperor, so the drama went out of the elections.

    But they had a rule: No one could claim to be King of any country within the Empire. Thus the Kings were always of some place outside the borders, like Prussia or Hungary.

    Cassieopia 11:14 AM  

    Finished under my average, but not a fan of this kind of puzzle. I have to know movie names? An actors name? Where’s the wordplay in that? This was more trivia night than crossword morning. Blech.

    QuasiMojo 11:14 AM  

    No one asked but that never stops me. The comment I made that was either blocked or deleted was that I have always gone out of my way to avoid DeNiro movies. So this was quite a chore for me to finish. Turns out it’s Madonna’s 60th today. I’m surprised they didn’t pay tribute to her, altho I can’t say I am a fan of her movies either. :)

    Amelia 11:15 AM  
    This comment has been removed by the author.
    Whatsername 11:17 AM  

    This was very easy for me, but I am a fan so didn’t take much effort once I had Casino. I was disappointed to not see Martin Scorsese or The Godfather, for which DeNiro spent 4 months learning to speak Sicilian and won an Academy Award. Speaking of which, he’s been quite vocal with his political commentary, but I often think these celebrities do more harm than good with their outspokenness. I had no problem with THEFAN but COMEDYCLUB threw me. I did not remember that one at all. I was guessing EDY on 43A and had WOW in 46A and took a while to finally see it. Overall I liked this puzzle immensely, but it does seem like an unusual choice for a Thursday.

    @TJS - Good one! I was thinking People Magazine but yours is better.

    Yargh 11:21 AM  

    IS IN, not I'S IN.
    Tribute, schmribute.
    What about HEAT, with Pacino? Great movie, stupid ending, DENIRO could've easily gotten away.
    What the hell are TUBS?

    Hungry Mother 11:29 AM  

    It took me a while to get THEFAN. The rest was easy. I love his body of work, even the slap-dash early stuff in NYC. I

    Joseph Michael 11:50 AM  

    Who stole my Thursday puzzle?

    jb129 12:06 PM  

    Love Robert DeNiro who, aside from his film accomplishments which are many (can't believe some on this blog haven't seen them, but there you go .....) had the b__ls to give it to the President at one of the Awards Shows, to which "Mr. President" didn't respond via tweet).

    Austenlover 12:06 PM  

    This is not just a birthday tribute. DeNiro recently announced that he is retiring from acting, so it’s also a farewell tribute.

    Banana Diaquiri 12:07 PM  

    International TRADE is much maligned these days, basically because the ignoramuses in charge of the country’s policy don’t seem to understand that it is not less than, but rather more than, a simple quid pro quo arrangement: it is something that can ultimately improve the welfare of both partners.

    if you take OFL's advice and read up the 'proper' paper, re: Madonna, you can also read up articles on the current Turkey basting and an op-ed on China. both hammer home the fact that the 'really, really unfair' trade policies of all the other countries on the planet are, in fact, meaningless to the USofA. which has gotten orders of magnitude more clout out of international TRADE for decades. Bretton-Woods (look it up, if you care) made the US Buck the world's de jure reserve currency, and even with the collapse of that agreement, the US Buck remains the de facto reserve currency. we get so much more benefit than any other country. only a f**ing moron wouldn't get that.

    CDilly52 12:10 PM  

    HAHA! I’ve been humming the song 🎶🎶 since my late night solve!

    Unknown 12:18 PM  

    Running the puzzle today makes no sense.

    CDilly52 12:19 PM  

    While I thought some of the film choices could have been better, I also have tossed my cap into the “wonderfully ‘thick’ theme” camp and accept the inevitable weaknesses that such a theme-heavy puzzle engenders. The clever clues made up for the drek, in my opinion. Got CLOG at the off since I just “snaked” one out of my bathroom drain, and felt so proud not to have been misdirected. You may all sneer, but as a very “non-pro” solver, it is little victories that keep me solving each and EVERy day.

    GeezerJackYale48 12:48 PM  


    On y va 12:49 PM  

    I literally used HRE in an email this morning when writing to my kids that I just found out that their 42 greats grandfather was Charlemagne (isn’t wonderful? I knew I married up, but sheesh.

    Teedmn 1:08 PM  

    Is there anyone who doesn't love ROBERT DENIRO? He's been in so many movies, some of them really bad, that I wonder if he's ever said no to a script.

    My absolute favorite role of DeNiro's is his portrayal of Captain Shakespeare in "Stardust", a 2007 movie based on a book by Neil Gaiman. The movie was so-so but DeNiro, as a cross-dressing pirate captain in a flying ship, steals the show, in my opinion.

    That all said, I wasn't pleased to get a tribute puzzle on a Thursday - And there were so many things I didn't know right off (LEOPOLD, ORLANDO, OBERLIN, THE FAN, LANG, DOUGLAS, ABIE, TRAX) that I was worried about having a DNF. Especially the TRAX-ABIE crossing. ABIE seemed like vaguely familiar crossword-ese so I went with the A, whew.

    Elvis died on 8/16/1977; has there been a tribute puzzle to the King? And now Aretha, so sad.

    Anonymous 1:24 PM  

    Obama has been referenced in the puzzle or it clues three times this week.

    There is a natick here. If you've never heard of The Fan, a slow slow moving ship can be a sub. Trust me, i've been on them. they are slow. Real sea people don't use the word tub, so I got stuck with shefan.

    marty 1:36 PM  

    Tribute puzzles are almost all universally awful. The degree of the awfulness is aggravated by running on a late weekday. Please Mr. Shortz, leave Thursday, Friday and Saturday to their regularly scheduled jobs. Relegate tributes, puns, quotes, word ladders and their ilk to other days, or - better yet! - don't run them at all.

    Jake 1:57 PM  

    Pure tedium.

    jb129 2:05 PM  

    VIC @ 12:59! A Maxine Waters themed puzzle! Great idea!

    Someone finally with a sense of humor.

    I still can't believe anyone has avoided or not seen any of DeNiro's films...... Do you only go to this site? I guess your loss cuz he's very talented & made great films.

    puzzlehoarder 2:37 PM  

    I did this in average Thursday time on paper last night. Several things caused an artificial delay.

    The first was starting in the NE meant that the first theme I truly recognized was RAGING BULL. The theme clues use the phrase "work of" not "star of" so I couldn't tell if it was just referencing just Deniro or Scorsese as well. I knew the directors' last name didn't fit but for the life of me I couldn't recall his first name. This morning it came to me and sure enough it's 5 characters as well. The point is I wasted a lot of time and effort trying to dredge up Martin.

    The other two time sucks we're confusing the 33A clue as being for 30A and the 50D clue as being for 51D. You never know when the truly unusual and or out and out debut clue or entry is going to show up. Sussing something like that out can be a highlight of an otherwise pedestrian solve. This leads me to put time and effort into solving an enigma that just isn't there.

    TRAX was new to me. I was amazed to see it's only been clued this way and there is quite a little list at xwordinfo. Somehow I've missed it every time. Not hard to figure out that A. ABIE as clued was also an unknown but just as a name it's easy to recognize. Why the constructor and the editor have not picked up on TRAX as being the name of Chevys' current mini SUV is a mystery. They usually love obscure car names. Don't you agree Nancy?

    Speaking of @Nancy, thank you and the others who've expressed empathy for my recovery. Yesterday was my first out patient PT session. Now I have even more exercises and I have to do them 3x a day.

    Bill Johnson 2:38 PM  

    I liked this puzzle. These are some of my favorite words.

    Steven Seagal 2:47 PM  

    As Robert Deniro's best friend ever this puzzle really hit home for me.

    RooMonster 3:03 PM  

    Here is the trailer for THE FAN.


    QuasiMojo 3:32 PM  

    @jp129, of course I do other things beside visit this site. Although when it is close to 100 degrees outside I tend to prowl around here more than I probably should. There is a whole world of films and actors who interest me besides Mr. De Niro. I did see one film he did that I liked. 1900 by Bertolucci.

    jae 3:49 PM  

    Easy-medium seems right. I’m not fond of cross referencing so I started off annoyed, but the theme became obvious very quickly, so I ignored the cross referenced clues and just tried to fill in DENIRO movies from the crosses. That went reasonably well.

    I’m with @Rex, this seemed like trying to put 10 lbs. of “theme” in a 5 lb. bag. The results aren’t pretty...BRRR, NONS, ISIN, APER...

    Z 4:30 PM  

    Someday there will be a good tribute puzzle. Someday.

    Just caught up on almost a week of puzzles and blog posts. Some things never seem to change. Anonymice have a soupçon of reading ability. Someone is going to complain if there is an Obama reference (tbf - equally true if the first crime family shows up). I agree with about 95% of what Rex writes.

    @LMS - Is it pronounced “elms?”

    Bourbon Street 10:59 PM  

    How does the NYT crossword leave out “New York, New York”????

    Harryp 12:08 PM  

    Sorry, I meant Blitzing through SATS.

    TJS 7:21 PM  

    test comment

    Burma Shave 10:18 AM  


    are OLDER FANs of Cinderella’s.
    Like RAGINGBULLs when EVER they confront her,
    they go ATIT like real GOODFELLAS.


    spacecraft 11:11 AM  

    I agree, basically, that the grid is overstuffed with themers and themer-wannabes, though I'd fall short of a full-out rant. My biggest disappointment is the omission of one of his best--and the length fits perfectly!--A Bronx Tale. Woulda been neat to cross that X with 53-a...but that's another puzzle.

    My problem with solving this is a familiar one: I am TERRIBLE at timelines. Please don't ask me what year ANYTHING took place. When you get this far (78) the decades start melting together, never mind the individual years. Still, after a short while studying the clues, the key person emerged, and after that it was easy-medium. Par.

    thefogman 11:18 AM  

    I had appoloCLUB then cOttonCLUB before COMEDYCLUB - and that's no joke. Rex hates themers so I knew the *&%$ would hit THEFAN for this one. Overall, I thought it was a decent puzzle - with the exception of the the NE corner which had 7D TUBS (Slow-moving ships) crossing OBERLIN which was crossed by HRE I had TUgS and DNF'd because of it. I guessed HRE right but I had to look it up afterwards. I'm not sure if OBERLIN is well-known to most (it sure isn't to me) so I'd say that was corner was unfair and took away from what would have otherwise been a most enjoyable solve. Aside from that, I'd say it was quite the accomplishment to pack the grid with so much DENIRO-related stuff. Alas, it could have been a contender if only for that NE corner.

    thefogman 11:41 AM  

    PS: Oberlin is also notable for this...

    Oberlin is a true pathbreaker in American education. This liberal arts college in Ohio was the first school to accept not only women as well as men, in 1837, but black students as well as white, in 1835.

    rondo 12:42 PM  

    Well, no write-overs, but I pretty much did it from DEERHUNTER down to ROBERT DENIRO and then the top half from E to W. Sideways glances after discovering ATIT and a TEAT next to ASS.

    Around these parts THEFAN is KFXN (formerly KFAN on AM) FM 100.3 sports talk radio.

    Also around these parts, local bluesman Jonny LANG reached his peak of STARDOM 20 years ago while still in his teens. Haven’t heard much of him now that he’s OLDER. One of my favorite tunes of his: Probably his biggest hit:

    Stretching out for Ellie Mae Clampett, yeah baby Donna DOUGLAS.

    I don’t mind the occasional tribute puz (didn’t we have TRIBUTE yesterday, an omen?). Happy belated b’day to ROBERT DENIRO.

    leftcoastTAM 2:10 PM  

    Agree with the gist of Rex's critique, but not so much the tone. DENIRO is a great actor who has made some flops. So what? What great actor (aside from Meryl Streep and a few others) hasn't? The problem here is that if you know Deniro and his work, this puzzle is too much of a snap for Thursday.

    rainforest 3:12 PM  

    Wine-making day today! A new supplier of California grapes, so fingers crossed.

    With the puzzle, I at first thought "Oscar winner" was 64-/65-Across, but of course that didn't fit, and then I hit THE FAN, and so ergo, ROBERT DENIRO. Pretty easy after that. I'm OK with tribute puzzles, and among actors DENIRO is certainly deserving, if anyone is, though he is past his due date now. Maybe he'll do a Chistopher Plummer and deliver a scintillating supporting role in his declining years.

    Nice to find out his birthday is two days after mine, I guess.

    I liked it, but gotta go. Grapes await.

    Diana,LIW 9:35 PM  

    Well, uBIE was my downfall. TRuX? Who knew?

    Otherwise, proud of my Thursday effort.

    Just learned about OBERLIN the other day. Pays to pay attention...

    Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

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