Fictional African kingdom in Coming to America / WED 10-24-18 / Noted piranha habitat / Ring around watch face

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Constructor: Michael Paleos

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging (4:42)

THEME: POP-UP AD (8A: Internet nuisance ... or a hint to four answers in this puzzle) — letters "AD" "pop up" (i.e. go up to the next line, leaping over two black squares) as part of longer theme answers:

Theme answers:
  • ROPE-AD-OPE (19A: Classic strategy in the boxing ring)
  • DEC-AD-ENT (28A: Hedonistic)
  • CAN-AD-IAN (42A: Like seven teams in the N.H.L.)
  • TRE-AD-MILL (54A: Where you may be going nowhere fast)
Word of the Day: BEZEL (48D: Ring around a watch face) —
  1. a grooved ring holding the glass or plastic cover of a watch face or other instrument in position.
    • a groove holding the crystal of a watch or the stone of a gem in its setting. (google)
• • •

This theme feels very familiar—maybe I've seen it in some other venue?—but no matter; it's a decent one. Enjoyable to solve. Not like "OOH ah!" enjoyable, but, I don't know, at least interesting. The main effect of it was that it kept making me trip because I kept forgetting about it, and so something like 54A: Where you may be going nowhere fast comes along and the answer appears to be TR- and I'm like "huh?" and then later "D'oh! Right. The theme!" The revealer is in a super dumb place. Was there really no way to get it into the 64-Across position, where it belongs. I mean, it's gonna be difficult with 48-Down starting with "B" and ending in "P," in five letters, but presumably you'd've tried to put POP-UP AD in the correct / final position **before** building the rest of your grid. I don't really understand. I double-don't understand putting ZAMUNDA in here. That is ... not a famous thing. At all. My eyes just picked up "Fictional African kingdom" and I already had -NDA so I just wrote in WAKANDA (actually famous). But instead I got this other kingdom, from a movie that I have seen more than once, and yet ... the name of the kingdom: nowhere to be found. I feel really, truly, terribly bad for people who aren't familiar with the word BEZEL, 'cause no way in hell you're getting that "Z" otherwise. Betting a bunch of people try BEVEL. It's essentially an uncrossed letter, as (I repeat) ZAMUNDA is not famous, and none of its letters are inferrable. Not great.

EDA and TES, also bad. ORA EKE ALO ATEN, not helping. "I HAVE IT" is at least odd, as I know it as "I've got it!" or something like that. I HAVE IT sounds archaic / stilted. I do like POWERED ON and LED ASTRAY, and the clue on BATCAVE is kinda cute, with it "DC" misdirection (38A: Secret DC headquarters). I found this puzzle a bit tough up top, as neither ADDRESS (1A: Discuss, as an issue) nor PERIDOT (15A: Birthstone for most Leos) came to me very easily (for different reasons), and then the same was true for ORINOCO (16A: Noted piranha habitat) and WANDERS (18A: Rambles) on the other side of the grid (I wanted NATTERS and probably had NADDERS (!) in there at some point). The clue on POEM is absurd, as you could argue that any song is a POEM (12D: "The Star-Spangled Banner," basically). So: theme good, but overall solving experience, less so. Oh well, at least Erik (Agard) won again on "Jeopardy" tonight and the World Series game looks like it's gonna be a thriller, so I'm gonna go round off my night by watching that. Bye.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


ghkozen 12:14 AM  

Ugh. This was a fun theme, but fill was like pulling teeth. Ruined my consecutive solving streak with the TES/DEVOE cross AND with the ALO/ZAMUNDA cross. Can’t do hyper-obscure proper nouns crossed with random, not-very-well-know-to-non-speakers romance language trivia. Give me an invasion of Germanic word tribes, and I’m set on the crosses. Give me a proper noun I don’t know but can infer. Don’t give me neither. Just poor form.

jae 12:23 AM  

Mostly medium. I knew BEZEL but not ZAMUNDA (I’ve seen the movie as many times as @Rex has). Where I ran into trouble was the telephono was a toss up between E and A (I really wanted OLA) so I flipped a coin and dnf. Despite that the theme was cute, liked it.

ColoradoCog 12:29 AM  

Isn’t 12D: ‘"The Star-Spangled Banner," basically‘ getting at the point that it was first a POEM and only later a song, which means it isn’t a clue that works for “any” song? I do agree that the clue could have been better.

chefwen 12:53 AM  

Oh Hell Rex, where was your usual spoiler alert? I tape Jeopardy and have not watchedit yet. Dang!

Puzzle was fun once I figured out where we were going with those weird three letter words. I did have to link up ZAMUNDA as I had OLA in at 59D but that really screwed up LOOK SEE. Had a right mess going on down there. I guess I’ll have to take a DNF.

Anonymous 1:24 AM  

“The Star-Spangled Banner” was originally a poem by F.S. Key that was later set to music and eventually became the anthem.

Dolgo 1:38 AM  

Basically not worth the effort.

Brookboy 3:10 AM  

OFL nailed it when he said that “Betting a bunch of people try BEVEL”. I am one of those and it took a while before I correctly guessed the Z (thinking somewhere deep in the recesses of my mind that it seemed like “BEZEL” might be a thing). That crossing was a natick for me.

I thought the puzzle was quite clever. I can’t imagine how a constructor goes about creating such a puzzle. Color me super-impressed.

From a solver point of view, once I got the idea, it made a couple of the remaining answers a lot easier. Fortunately.

A really nifty puzzle and a good review from Rex.

John Child 4:55 AM  

I liked this puzzle a lot. Rather easy because a lot of the clueing was straightforward, and to be a bit critical there was more familiar, short fill than I would like. But it’s a nice theme idea and well executed. Congratulations Mr Paleos for an impressive debut.

With clues toughened up and no circles this would have been a fine Thursday puzzle too.

JOHN X 5:27 AM  

I had a DNF because of that cross between PERIDOT and EDA. I may not be a birthstone expert but I thought I'd at least heard of them all but I've never heard of PERIDOT and I've never heard of EDA either. I feel great shame.

Sydney 5:32 AM  

This is one of my all time favorite puzzles. I caught on fairly soon what was going on, and the answers I didn’t know were easily gotten from the crosses. Thank you for such an enjoyable experience.

Anonymous 6:03 AM  

Cassieopia here. Loved the theme. DNF at ZAMUNDA/ALO and DEVOE/TES just like @ghkozen. Some bad fill, redeemed with some good clueing - “secret DC headquarters” being the star. Except for the unfair crosses as mentioned, and some nose-wrinkling fill (EDA, ORA, TRE, TDS ), it was a nice Wednesday and a really fun theme.

Lewis 6:03 AM  

Random reactions:
* In retrospect, "POP UP AD" seems like an obvious phrase to build a puzzle around. It's a term that's been with us a long time, and props to Michael for being the first to do so.
* There's a passel of sparkling clues (SOD, ORCA, TIME, POWERED ON, DOS, BAT CAVE).
* Sometimes I get theme answers from the reveal, but -- and this rarely happens -- this time I got the reveal after getting some theme answers!
* There's a lovely double-O fest in the SW.
* I would have liked the puzzle better without the circles (Hi, John C!).
* Took the opportunity afterward to learn a bit about the ORINOCO river. One of the great gifts of crosswords is that they spur motivation to learn new things.
* If the two of the O's in ORINOCO were A's, it would have been an anagram of OCARINA. As it is, the latter anagrams to ORINACA.

Jofried 6:28 AM  

@JOHNX...same exact experience. Never heard of PERIDOT or EDA and couldn’t figure out what was wrong up there. Also never heard of DEVOE so that section was a mess. On the other hand, ZAMUNDA someone popped right up from the recesses of my memory. Overall a frustrating puzzle.

Music Man 6:30 AM  

Fun puzzle, but the gimmick seemed more like it should be a Thursday puzzle.

RavTom 7:01 AM  

Very hard for me. Definitely a misplaced Thursday puzzle.

Hungry Mother 7:01 AM  

Two Naticks did me in. Way too much trivia for me. Laughed at myself when I put in “pAlOOKA.” Didn’t laugh when the Naticks were beyond me.

kitshef 7:14 AM  

Felt hard, with its PERIDOT and EDA and DEVOE, but I think all the toughness was crammed in up top – plus you don’t know the theme yet, and then the bottom is almost Monday-easy.

backROAD before SIDEROAD, POWEREDup before POWEREDON, Rex’s wAkaNDA before ZAMUNDA (just kind skimmed the clue first time through), Mach before MUSK.

Really fun Wednesday – some challenge, a great theme, little junk, and that great BATCAVE clue.

Rachel 7:26 AM  

This puzzle should get together with the one I reviewed in August so we can all have a peaceful and ad-free experience.

J. Stafford Smith 7:38 AM  

Except that is was written as a poem," Defence of Fort M'Henry," and only later set to the music of a popular British men's club song.The poem in this musical setting became known and "The Star Spangled Banner." But the poem had a life of its own, independent of the musical setting.

So, while you could argue that the lyrics of any song are poems, Francis Scott Key did not write song lyrics. He wrote a poem.

Karl Grouch 7:40 AM  

Hedonism is by far nobler, (both etymologically and semantically) than decadence.
I would have preferred to see 28a clued more as "voluptuous" or even "sybaritic" -even if the latter would be too friday-ish maybe.
But then again, that's what you get when puritanism rules.

Peter P 8:06 AM  

Average Wednesday time here, despite figuring out the theme at the first clue (ROPE-A-DOPE). Should have finished faster, but, even though I prefilled the "AD"s, somehow I lost track (like Rex), and got stuck at 28A with _EC, and was tearing my non-existent hair out running the alphabet in my head, trying to find a synonym for "hedonistic," only to realize a few minutes later that this was part of the theme clue, and I already had _ECADENT filled in. Smh.

Only other place that gave me an issue was hunting down what square I had incorrectly filled in at the end. Yet another smh moment. Influenced by the Zombies' superb album Odessey and Oracle, I had ODeSSEY/OOZe crossing instead of ODYSSEY/OOZY. And I knew very well that it's spelled incorrectly on the album (or purposely spelled that way as wordplay on the word "ode," depending on whom you believe.)

And I have no issue with the Star-Spangled Banner clue. It was originally a poem, titled Defence of Fort M'Henry, by Francis Scott Key, then got set to the tune of an English drinking song, To Anacreon in Heaven before becoming what we know now as The Star-Spangled Banner.

DeeJay 8:06 AM  

Fantastic puzzle, this is why we love crosswords. Why is it odd that the revealer is in the NE as opposed to the SE?

liser 8:17 AM  

Hi, Rex. I'm fairly (read: 100 %) certain this comment will mark me as the remedial solver in this thread, but why does a dash indicate "ope" in today's puzzle? the only reason i even sorted out the answer is because I solved around it...

amyyanni 8:22 AM  

Another beVeler, another 'liked it but more of a Thursday' solver. Admittedly, stayed up too late watching the Series.

kitshef 8:27 AM  

@liser - the "-" clues indicate that you have already been given the clue elsewhere and there is no independent clue for this part.

In the case of OPE, it was clued at 19A, ROPE(AD)OPE.

GILL I. 8:31 AM  

Hola, dígame, si? Anybody home? ALO? Does anybody say that? Is that short for aloha? Why is that bugging me so much? I was about to yell that OLA was missing its H.
I also went nuts trying to figure out why plain ole ROPE was some sort of boxing strategy until I saw the AD above it and the DOPE of this dope figured out the POP UP AD thingamajig . Pretty clever and I got over hating ALO and ORA and EDA and MAO. Loved BAZOOKA, though.
BEvEL and beit. A big fat DNF on Wed. No matter because this was a good puzzle and I had not done one similar. So, Kudos, MP.
If anybody here wins the Mega they can join hands and give MUSK a run for his outer space flights. I mean, other than trying to help the starving and the homeless, what better way to spend your billions?
I wonder how many shelters could be built with that kind of money......

Anonymous 8:32 AM  

It indicates that the answer is a continuation of the prior clue. I only learned that here a few weeks ago.

mmorgan 8:32 AM  

Funny, I often barely notice the stuff that Rex dismisses as junk, and this puzzle was no exception. I then see it after he points it out but it rarely bothers me, though I see his point.

I got the theme fairly early with ROPE/AD/OPE, but I got the revealer (agree, strangely placed) largely through the Downs and my brain spent a few fractions of a second wondering what a (phonetically, bear with me) poe-PEW-pad might be.

Nice puzzle!!

Anonymous 8:33 AM  

24D for you.

Anonymous 8:33 AM  

Eureka is the state motto if California - I have found it! 25D "I have it," not so much.

John H 8:35 AM  

Peridot is a really beautiful stone, but it is only marginally more familiar than August's other two, sardonyx and spinel. How many leos actually know this?

Really enjoyed this, and once I got the gimmick, an easy solve. Had no problem with the less familiar answers, like Zamumba, because the crosses worked for me.

"Eureka" literally means "I have found it," so both "I've got it" and "I have it" are equally off/on the mark.

Mordechai 8:49 AM  

I haven’t seen the movie in years but it’s impossible to forget James Earl Jones intoning ZAMUNDA in that marvelous voice he has. Agreed it may not be crossword-worthy but it was a gimme (at least for me). It didn’t hurt that as the son and grandson of jewelers BEZEL was a gimme (as was PERIDOT for that matter).

InThe Dark 8:54 AM  

I think 20, 29, 43, 55 were just blanks so constructor could complete theme answers. I regret I did not figure it out. I was comfortable with CAN as an abbreviation since the clue was N.H.L. The others didn't make sense. My mistake was not studying the grid to find what was going on.

Suzie Q 8:59 AM  

Really fun solve with a twist that feels new to me. We've seen so many attempts at something new that don't always work but this does.
Bat cave was great. I was thinking of something like a bunker under the Pentagon. Good one.
Bezel/bevel is a coin toss every single time.
I can never remember how to spell odyssey either.
To the folks who didn't know Eda LeShan - file her away, you'll need her again.
Popupad looks really weird in the grid.
Thanks Mr. Paleos.
Is this a debut? I don't recognize your name.

Anonymous 9:00 AM  

I guess PO Po PAD would be a police station.

Suzie Q 9:01 AM  

I'm with @ chefwen re: Jeopardy spoilers.

Karl Grouch 9:11 AM  

"Hola" is Spanish.
"Olá" is Portuguese.

Arden 9:13 AM  

Hahah I got every letter perfect but somehow didn’t notice the circled letters or the theme. So I was very confused by the blank clues but hoped for the best.

pmdm 9:28 AM  

Lewis: I suspect that Shortz felt that removing the circles would have made the puzzle too difficult for a Wednesday. And I do believe that the puzzle without circles (and maybe with a few of the clues written to be more difficult) would have made this a Thursday puzzle.

Suzie Q and chefwan: I suspect Mr. Sharp is very careful to avoid spoilers for crosswords yet to be published, but in a sense blogs like this one are spoilers for those who did not yet finish the puzzle. But you are absolutely correct. He should at least warn readers when he writes something like that. I was on vacation last week and won't be watching last Friday's game until tonight. I guess I know who won. And who won an Monday. It was unthinking of him. Hopefully he will avoid doing the same tomorrow.

The constructor explains more or less why the reveler is located where it is in his comments posted on XWordInfo. Given that I am so annoyed by 8As that I use Safari's "Reader" option when visiting some of the more obnoxious sites, the reveler was a piece of cake to me, which made the puzzle much easier. Congratuations to Paleos on his debut puzzle.

Nancy 9:32 AM  

Did even one person on this blog know/remember ZAMUNDA. Even one? Thought not. I didn't know I had a DNF until I came here. My BEvEL/vAMUNDO cross seemed perfectly swell to me. Obviously I never heard of BEZEL either. Rex's prediction is on the money. And he's right that it's a terrible cross.

Other than that -- one of the best Wednesdays I've ever done. I got the theme immediately at ROPE-A-DOPE (which, if you're young and never saw an Ali fight, you might not get) and I went looking for the revealer somewhere below. Couldn't initially find it. Never thought to look in the top row, since that's not usually where revealers lurk. Anyway, the kind of theme I most love -- the one you absolutely need to suss out in order to solve. I filled in all the ADS ahead of time and then went back and solved in my usual orderly way.

My one nit is DECADENT for hedonistic. Much too strong. I consider myself a bit of a hedonist and I'm certainly not DECADENT. Hedonistic simply means pleasure-loving or pleasure-seeking and not all pleasures are DECADENT by any stretch of the imagination.

QuasiMojo 10:02 AM  

I thoroughly enjoyed this puzzle, in particular the Bat Cave clue. Reminded me of when I was a kid and I used to buy DC comics because my brother preferred Marvel. They were only ten cents. That won’t even buy you a DROPped song these days.

I’m surprised Rex didn’t know our national anthem was originally a POEM, published. Or that it had traces of pro-slavery sentiments and that its author has been well-documented as being pro-Slavery. Of course many were during that era but you can’t get all hyper PC about other minor issues appearing in the NYT puzzle and elsewhere without ADDRESSing that elephant in the living room too.

I’m glad Erik Agard won again. I hope he writes a blog post or an article about his experiences on Jeopardy. If they allow that sort of thing.

Sir Hillary 10:03 AM  

Very nice theme. Has anyone commented that each of the portions connected by the POPUPADs could themselves be standalone entries? Some really bad ones for sure (OPE, TRE) but still.

Clues for DOS and BATCAVE made me smile.

But...there are some truly unfortunate crosses in here. I feel bad for anyone who:
-- Doesn't know early '90s R&B or speak French.
-- Isn't familiar with a BEZEL or a fictitious African Kingdom from a 30-year-old movie.
-- Guessed wrong on a foreign language phone greeting.

Overall, a mixed bag which on balance I liked. But I can understand how others would arrive at a very different conclusion.

Preferred Customer 10:11 AM  

Today was way easier for me than yesterday. Shorter time, finished without resorting to Google, no errors to hunt down.

However, I didn't understand the reveal until I came here. I didn't know the dash meant continuation. Aaak.

I just was talking to my August, Leo born sister about her birthstone, I SCUBA dive (rotate the bezel on your watch) so a lot of the things I didn't know were solved by those two answers. I was a little worried it might be "besel" with the s sounding like a z. According to the internet some Spanish speakers say "alo" but I just figured that if the French use it I'd put it in and hope somebody among the millions of Spanish speakers would also say a variant of hello, because the telephone started in an English speaking country.

WRT bezel vs bevel, bevel is a shape on the edge of something, not a finished product. At least it's main definition there could be some odd use of which I am unaware.


Lindsay 10:15 AM  

So the AD at 1A turned out to be a red herring. Harrumph.

Unknown 10:26 AM  

Hated it for a while, thought it was just that ADs are randomly circled. Then loved it once I realized what was going on.

CaliMarie 10:32 AM  

I’m with Gill. Who says ALO? In France they say ALLO. But I’ve never heard a Spanish-speaking person answer the phone anyway except by saying HOLA.

JC66 10:39 AM  


As pointed out above, ALO is Portuguese for hello.

Anonymous 10:43 AM  

Yes! Jeopardy spoiler alerts, please.

Malsdemare 10:54 AM  

I really liked this. I got the theme answer early, but I always forget about the theme as I’m solving, so I was 2/3 through this before the penny dropped. That meant it didn’t help me at all with the solve since I already had all the answers in place. BEZEL I knew but I misspelled ORINONCO so my member of the seafaring trio was the famous PoNTA and when I went looking for my error, I failed to see how idiotic that was. Sigh.

We brought in our giant Jade and Aloe plants from the deck yesterday and they came with resident TOADs. One drove my dogs nuts, hiding under the sofa until I retrieved it and set it outside. Ugh! I can handle (literally) all sorts of creepy things but I hate touching toads, just hate it. That was a true act of mercy on my part, though it’s cold out so the damn thing may be looking for another ride indoors.

I hate those POPUPADS, especially the ones that you have to click to remove. I refuse to buy anything or follow any link that pops up and annoys me. And, yes, I know that any name recognition is good advertising, but I rarely notice who is bothering me so those ads don’t even get the benefit of being memorable.

I really liked the clue for TREADMILL; we’ve got one of those and once the weather become incompatible with walking, I’ll be on it daily. I’m making a list of movies to watch while I tread.

I liked the puzzle more than Rex did.

Karl Grouch 10:55 AM  

Sorry to POP-UP AD nauseam, but "olá" not "alo" is Portuguese for "hello"..
"Alo" is not widely used, but is something a spanish-speaking person could say in certain parts of Latin America

pabloinnh 11:04 AM  

If OFL wants a 5-letter word starting with B and ending with P, I suggest "bloop" as in, Benintendi just hit a bloop double into left that bounced into the stands.

I'm with those who wanted HOLA but didn't have enough room. ALO I have seen in lists of telephone greetings in various Spanish-speaking countries but haven't heard anyone actually say. In Spain it's "digame" until you realize it's your buddy on the phone, then it's "dime". Except for the silent h's and a few other traps, Spanish is wonderfully phonetic--telefono with an f, e.g. Filadelfia, e.g.

Learned BEZEL when I was working in a garage; all those rings around dials on your dashboard fit the description too, it turns out.

Agree with the folks who thought this was a great fun Wednesday. Bravo.

Z 11:07 AM  

I figured out the theme really early, plopped in the ADs, worked through it quickly, then discovered a double DNF (BEvEL and EnA). UGH.

Yeah, yeah, Key wrote a POEM that then was put to music. What does that have to do with Rex’s point, could argue that any song is a POEM?
Let’s compare, “A piece ... in which the expression of feelings and ideas is given intensity by particular attention to diction (sometimes involving rhyme), rhythm, and imagery.” or “expressing the writer's emotions, usually briefly and in stanzas or recognized forms.”
Hmmmm, One certainly could argue that these definitions (from the OED) are essentially interchangeable. I mean, that lyrics are poetry is one of the most basic arguments against the whole “rap isn’t music” mistake. In short, Rex’s contention seems so obvious that all the comments are getting the arched eyebrow here.

@Gill I - My best guess is that ALO is akin to “allô” in French, which the interwebs tells me is Québécois and Louisianan or used on the telephone. Id est, an English infection.

jberg 11:09 AM  

@Nancy, see @Mordechai -- so there was at least one person. Not me, though.

OTOH, I got BEZEL right off. It's one of those words that you can't forget once you encounter it -- I mean what is it, anyway? I knew the word was part of a watch for at least 20 years before I knew which part it was.

The theme was really hard for me. I saw the POPUPADs fairly early, since they were circled; but I couldn't figure out the dashes. I knew the - meant I had to figure something out, but I didn't realize it was as specific about something that had been clued elsewhere. I thought CAN was fine for the NHL, but after the puzzle was all completed and I was just sitting there trying to figure it out, I suddenly saw CANADIAN, after which I found the rest. Neat idea.

Does it really ever say NEE on a wedding announcement? I mean, you aren't 'nee' until you're married, so I don't see why it would be there. Or are announcements sent out after the event? I guess maybe so.

Still confused about ALO. So far, only one person has defended it (@JC66) as being Portuguese; but an earlier comment said Portuguese say OLA, which is what I wanted to put in there.

I got BATCAVE fairly quickly, but I really wanted that pizza place Hillary Clinton was using to run a child prostitution ring -- oh, wait, was that fake news?

Anonymous 11:15 AM  

I think “alô” is mainly used when answering the phone in Brazil.

JC66 11:23 AM  


I wasn't saying ALO was Portuguese; I thought (I guess mistakenly) that an earlier poster had.

Wedding announcements can appear in the newspaper after the wedding (the clue would've been better with "in" rather than "on.")

GILL I. 11:24 AM  

@JC66. The accent on the second "f" of telefono sent me to Spanish right away. I'm a Spanish digame which, when you think of it, is rude. It sorta mean "tell me" or "what the hell do you want." HI @pablo. So I went to Google to see if anybody says ALO and evidently some South Americans do. Maybe in Argentina because they don't really speak Spanish. ;-)

RooMonster 11:28 AM  

Hey All !
Well, I couldn't grok the theme, because I forgot about the circles, and was trying to figure out how all the - answers made sense. Tried to put them together, OPEENTIANMILL. Har. I always wondered how @Nancy claims she never sees the circles. I did see them at first, but then they seemingly disappeared from sight as I solved. Strange. So a Not-Grok-The-Theme DNF. Maybe I was more concerned with the closed off NW and SE corners. Really all four corners.

Considering the demand of ADs on black squares, the fill was NOT SO BAD. Even though the corners are closed off, they're still big to fill cleanly. So a great ODYSSEY by Michael in making this puz.

NEET clues for ORCA and BATCAVE. Some odd words, OCARINA, ORINOCO, ZAMUNDA, BAZOOKA, PERIDOT. I am a Leo, so knew PERIDOT. Only nit (of course there's one), ALO. Huh? Wouldn't it be HOLA? LOOK SEE here. :-)


Kelly 11:31 AM  

BEVEL-putter, right here

CaliMarie 11:40 AM  

There’s no accent on Telefone in Portuguese so I thought the clue was Spanish.

Unknown 11:50 AM  

James Earl Jones saying anything is totally crossword-worthy. Coming to America is such fun, totally recommend it all these decades later (and, if you've seen Trading Places, you'll appreciate the Ralph Belamy/Don Amache cameo)

GILL I. 11:52 AM  

@CaliMarie. Adding a little Fonzi-ism, you are correctamundo.

jb129 12:13 PM  

Thank you kitchef for the heads up on "_" clues - I didn't know that (after all these years!). I thought this was gonna be doable for me, but I struggled in the long run.

Odd Sock 12:32 PM  

@ Lindsay 10:15, Good catch!

This was a Wednesday well done and nice debut.

Too bad "America the Beautiful" can't be our anthem. Much nicer song and a lot easier to sing.

Since Jeopardy! is on our minds (no spoiler) I am watching Eric with a feeling of brotherhood within the Crossword Clan. I seem to hear a note of disdain in Trebek's voice when he says Eric is a puzzle maker. What does he have to be snobbish about? He's a game show emcee for Pete's sake! I'd like to see him try it himself.

Anonymous 12:40 PM  

@JC66 - good point about announcements. And of course one is NÉE as soon as one is NÉE–which is to say, as soon as one is born. My French to rusty to recall whether NÉE has gender.

Anonymous 12:43 PM  

@Lindsay - hence the circles, ah.

Richard 12:43 PM  

Solved it without ever grokking the theme.

Can you imagine competing with Erik Agard in Jeopardy? No, thanks.

Carola 12:49 PM  

Challenging for me and registering high on the Rewarding Meter once I figured out the theme. I have to ADmit to being very slow on the UPtake: I had no idea what was going on until TRE-AD-MILL. Then, finally, I could go back and fill in the remaining blank ??? spaces. So nicely done - plenty well disguised for me, even with the circles. So neat that the segments of the answers are all words by themselves. Lots to like otherwise, too: PERIDOT, ORINOCO, BAZOOKA.

Agree on: 1) the difficulty of the ZAMUNDA - ALO - BEZEL area: fortunately for me, I knew the watch ring; 2) the wonderfulness of the BAT CAVE clue.

Anonymous 12:57 PM  

Telefone is Portuguese for telephone. Teléfono (the actual clue) is Spanish for telephone. Why are we bringing Portuguese into the discussion?

Teedmn 1:04 PM  

I had a few writeovers that made this a longer solve than my average Wednesday.

For instance, messed up my French at 23A with Toi before TES. I took the 6D clue, "Lawn order", as an order to one's offspring - mOw! which kept ADDRESS from readily filling in. I wanted "gold for us" at 9D instead of "pray for us" (ORo before ORA) and I was asking, a la @Gill I, where the missing H in hoLa was in 59D. Oh, I HAVE IT, it's Portuguese - oLA. But LOOK SEE gave me oLO and that made ZAMUNDA more likely than ZoMUNDA (no problem with the BEZEL).

Somehow I misread the clue for 42A about seven times as referring to the NfL and although that didn't delay me in splatzing in CAN AD IAN, it did have me wracking my brain for any CANADIAN NfL teams. Hockey, duh.

I liked it. Congratulations, Michael Paleos, on your debut.

Joe Bleaux 2:23 PM  

Hi, Lewis -- A recent puzzle that you may recall had double L's tied to triple L's (near the NW corner ... ring a bell?) If you mentioned it, I missed it. Do only double *vowels* so interest you? (And what again, please, is your word for yourself as our "resident" cataloguer of such pairings?) Thanks for your time (and for being the post I'd read daily if forced to choose only one).

Preferred Customer 2:29 PM  

@anon 12:40 the extra E in née makes it feminine. Makes sense, since the guy typically doesn't change his name.

Grammar Nut 2:42 PM  

Would someone please cite a source for "ope" meaning continuance, or a dash, or a hyphen? Thank you.

Anonymous 3:03 PM  

@Grammer Nut - The answer to 19A: Classic strategy in the boxing ring is ROPE A DOPE. In this puzzle it got filled out as ROPE [AD] OPE, where the AD was popped up 1 row.So, the entry for 20A was OPE, but 20A really had no clue (hence the -, signalling that the answer to 20A was the continuation of answer to 19A).

John Hoffman 3:03 PM  

Grammar Nut: It's part of the theme. Read Rex's notes.

JC66 3:07 PM  

@Grammar Nut

The theme of the puzzle is that the AD part of the answer "pops up" so you get



Anonymous 3:12 PM  

@Carola. ent, dec, tre, ope, are words? Easy to spell. Would you use them in a sentence please?

Z 3:20 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Z 3:22 PM  

@Grammar Nut - Nevermind. Retracting my answer since I was the 4th response.

I missed Jeopardy last night (busy finishing second at trivia night - lost the tie-breaker), but there have been a couple of moments of Huh?!? The first was answering Oklahoma with the big fat “keystone” hint in the clue and the second was not recognizing Marbury v Madison from the clue. I can’t imagine even qualifying for Jeopardy, but every once in awhile the contestants stumble in ways that seem especially surprising. The other weirdness going on is that Around the Horn on ESPN keeps rooting for Erik because he interned there. Yesterday they ran a little clip of him with far less amazing hair.

JC66 3:26 PM  

Anon 3:12

Tony Soprano went to the ENT on DEC 2nd because he was TRE tired. The first thing the doctor (a part-time poet) said was OPE your mouth and say ahh.

I. Kant 3:35 PM  

How nice it must be to live in a world where every opinion, perspective and argument that differs from my own is just objectively wrong - a world where everything just seems so obvious, and where people who don't see that are just stupid.

Dan M 3:43 PM  

Hard disagree both on ZAMUNDA and on the general concept of only having seen “Coming to America” one time. I had a bit of a hard time remembering the exact spelling (I started with ZuMUNDi) but that movie is a genuine classic. And super-duper famous.

Anonymous 4:39 PM  

As a child of the ‘80s, Zamunda is absurdly famous.

Nancy 4:56 PM  

@Odd Sock (12:32) -- I've suspected Alex Trebek of being an empty suit for 40 years. It's easy to say BOO HISS and pretend you know all the answers when you've seen all of them prior to the game. He needs to see them ahead of time -- he has to practice all his various accents in advance. It's long been obvious that he knows who's answered what on the final question, that he can somehow read what they've written -- otherwise he couldn't make the seemingly prescient comments he makes. I've never thought he's remotely intelligent and I'm always careful to avoid listening to him. For 40 years I've been waiting for him to be replaced, but I guess they'll carry him out feet first. Or else me.

Carola 8:36 PM  

@Anonymous 3:12 - here goes:
- ENT: a treelike being in Tolkien's Lord of the Rings
- OPE: a poetic contraction for "open," as in this speech by Antony in Julius Caesar
Woe to the hand that shed this costly blood!
Over thy wounds now do I prophesy,—
Which, like dumb mouths, do ope their ruby lips,
To beg the voice and utterance of my tongue—
- DEC: abbreviation for December
- TRE: Italian for "three"

Peter P 9:17 PM  

As for BEZEL, maybe I read too many tech blogs or something (though I don't read many at all), but it comes up a lot in articles and talks about phone and monitor designs, as well. That's where I know the word from. You know that border that laptops or phones have around their screens? That's a BEZEL, too. I'm sure now that all y'all know the word, you'll see it pop up a good bit. What's the name of that effect again? Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon.

Lewis 9:37 PM  

@joebleaux -- Thank you for your kind words. I believe it was @roo who asked me to give myself a title for being the double letter monitor, and I came up with alphadoppeltotter. I do see the triple letters, but they only count as 1, because I don't count letters twice, so the first two letters of a triple letter can't be re-used, so the last letter is discarded. If it were four of the same letter in a row, it would count as two. Any puzzle with fewer than five double letters is unusually low (and I report on them), and those with more than 20 are unusually high (and get my mention). It is inexplicable, even to me, why I do this.

spacecraft 10:23 AM  

I'll go along with the mainstream here (no SIDEROAD this TIME): theme kinda cute; fill SOSAD. Within the theme, though, it'd be neater if all the partials stood alone well. Some do, but DEC, ENT and TRE, not so much. The fill was just...OOZY.

There are a few high points, and the solving experience was NOTSOBAD, but having the revealer POPUP to the top row makes for easy pickin's. I never heard of DROPS in the clued sense, but do know BEZEL. I think I learned it from descriptive text--perhaps in a POPUPAD.

Can the DOD be anyone other than TARA Reid? I think not. The King of ZAMUNDA might approve, but for me this one gets a bogey.

Dand 10:37 AM  

As alluded to in Rex's write-up, I thought TES was a NaticK; intersecting it with Devoe. Not an R&B fan, nor did I ever learn French. Spanish and Italian were my Romance Languages. No problem with bezel and Zamunda!

thefogman 10:48 AM  

How did I do? NOTSOBAD. Only one mistake which I corrected with my pen in DARKRED ink. I had CdN instead of CAN for 42A because I failed to solve the gimmick and NHL in the cluing made me think this had to be an abbreviation. APART from that, all I can say is 19A, 28A and 54A made me scratch my head but I was LEDASTRAY in my haste to finish. Nice work Mr. Paleaos.

Diana, LIW 11:42 AM  

Well, I found it an "ooh ah aha" solving experience. When I got the gimmick, I was delighted to finish it. 'Till then, 'twas puzzling and scratching my 'lil head.

Agree with @Rex that the movie kingdom wasn't so memorable. At all. Saw the movie - once in bits - on TV and never wished to see it again.

My aha moment came from CAN AD IAN, after noticing the ADs (thanks, circles) - so a shout out to @Rainy and all our CANADIAN bros and sises. (sisses?)

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

PS - props to DROPS for POPing up here.

Burma Shave 11:58 AM  


but LOONIER than a CANADIAN divorcee.


centralscrewtinizer 12:42 PM  

Double DNF, but not for the suspected places. No French so thought it was TuS which gave DEVOu, which looked Nancy fine to me. Also stupidly had yOn instead of NOR. This last surely because I never saw the theme even though ROPE A DOPE should have given it away. I read the so-called revealer as one word and not three and counted my lack of internetese as why I had never seen the word.
So a really great solve still, and an even better appreciation of the effort, blind to me until coming here.

thefogman 1:22 PM  

Correction: Nice work Mr. Paleos.

rainforest 2:28 PM  

Interesting puzzle with a theme that gave me an AHA! when I "saw" CAN(AD)IAN... (paused while I STOOD for O Canada). That enabled me go back and "see" ROPE(AD)OPE which finally made sense because I didn't understand how just ROPE could be a boxing tactic.

Analyzing the theme has me a little confused, however. Of course POP UP AD makes sense but in the actual execution of it, I visualize the circled ADs popping *down* into the black squares - they don't POP UP because they are already there. Maybe I should visualize the ADs lurking mysteriously under the black squares from where they can POP UP to complete the themere. Am I missing something? Am I being obtuse? MOI - Canadien?

Other than that perplexing (for me) feature, I liked the puzzle a lot. Guessed correctly because ALO seemed better than ELO.

The PERIDOT happens to be my birthstone, so that was nice, too.

Anonymous 2:32 PM  

Please come back Miss Muse

rondo 3:23 PM  

I had a nanosecond of trouble with my launch at first as POWEREDup and my wOrk had to become TOIL. ZAMUNDA only from crosses. Kinda odd giving away the secret right away.

I’m no Leo, but my birthstone is PERIDOT. Gimme.

Didn’t realize that OCARINAs were ancient. My mom had one that was made from Bakelite or some such material.

IHAVEIT on good authority that to more easily slip your crystal into the groove, lube it with BEZEL gel. HAVE a Baal.

This puz was NOTSOBAD.

leftcoastTAM 8:17 PM  

Basically agree with Rex's take on this one. Tricky, clever theme, and some tough fill.

The latter, which created some real problems for me, were in the NW and SE, particularly the NW. PERIDOT was last to go, but wanted Toi before TES. In the SE, wanted BEvEL before the unknown BEZEL, and vAMUNDA left me with a cold DNF.

Liked the pop-up AD gimmick, with the "aha" moment at DEC AD ENT. Since DEC ENT nearly qualifies as an antonym on dropping the AD, was a bit distracted an looked for similar treatment of the others.

ROPE AD OPE clued as a "classic" boxing strategy didn't seem quite right. I thought Ali invented it not too long ago, in modern times, but I guess it could be called a modern classic.

Enjoyed wrestling, not boxing, with this one.

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