Kingdom in Prisoner of Zenda / SUN 11-18-18 / Nagy of Hungarian history / Crescent-shaped Italian pastries / Mississippi River bottom feeder / Variety of stud poker familiarly / Peter's chief of staff on Good Wife

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Constructor: Byron Walden and Joel Fagliano

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging (11:31)


THEME: "Portmanfaux" — wacky phrases that reimagine the basis for common portmanteau words:

Theme answers:
  • MURDER CASE MURSE (22A: Satchel for a homicide detective?)
  • SKI RESORT SKORT (31A: Unseasonal wear on a winter vacation?)
  • BRADY BUNCH BRUNCH (52A: Late-morning meal for a TV family?)
  • GREY POUPON GROUPON (64A: One way to buy mustard cheaply?)
  • SPACE PROGRAM SPAM (71A: Emails such as "Click this link to become an Apollo astronaut?)
  • BURNING LOG BLOG (93A: Collection of Yule-centric posts?)
  • SALTED PORK SPORK (107A: Utensil for eating some cured meat?)
Word of the Day: OSCAR ARIAS (17D: Costa Rican president who won the 1987 Nobel Peace Prize) —
Óscar Arias Sánchez (Spanish pronunciation: [ˈoskaɾ ˈaɾjas]; born 13 September 1940 in HerediaCosta Rica) was President of Costa Rica from 1986 to 1990 and from 2006 to 2010. He received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1987 for his efforts to end the Central American crisis.
He is also a recipient of the Albert Schweitzer Prize for Humanitarianism and a trustee of Economists for Peace and Security. In 2003, he was elected to the Board of Directors of the International Criminal Court's Trust Fund for Victims. (wikipedia)
• • •

Only some of these are anywhere near believable as portmanteaux. You'd never portmanteau something as long as SPACE PROGRAM to a mere four-letter word (also, I don't think the "spiced ham" portmanteau is official—wikipedia claims that that's just "popular belief"). There is nothing particularly "Yule" about a BURNING LOG, so I have no idea what that clue thinks it's doing. Any log on any fire is burning, so Yule shmule (also "burning log" is a terrible stand-alone phrase... this portmanfaux could've / should've been soooo much better). And SALTED PORK is what you went with. SPORK [according to the wacky portmanfaux offered here] is just PORK with an "S" at the beginning, so ,... you could've gone with literally any "S" word ... why not SZECHUAN PORK or SEXY PORK or SPECKLED DORK for that matter. Since it's all totally arbitrary, these fauxmanteaux should all *kill*; too many of these are weak or boring.


There was a bunch of longer stuff I just didn't know, or didn't believe was a real thing (e.g. BLUE PAPER (?)), so things were tough all over for me. If I knew RURITANIA, I forgot it (3D: Kingdom in "The Prisoner of Zenda"). MUDCAT? No way (20A: Mississippi River bottom feeder). No idea about OSCAR ARIAS (though he seems to have been president the one time I visited Costa Rica—weird) and definitely no idea about RISE OVER RUN (I mean, that checks out, that is what slope is, but that is not a phrase I ever heard while learning to calculate slope). So the NE was very hard for me. The worst part, however, was the CORNETTI / IMRE crossing, which is really bad (78D: Crescent-shaped Italian pastries / 99A: Nagy of Hungarian history). Startlingly bad. I just guessed. I've talked to others tonight who had to do the same. I've never heard of CORNETTI, and while that sounds better than CORNITTI, IMRI seems like a very plausible Hungarian name to me. I guessed correctly here, but when you're crossing obscure nouns (esp. if one of them is proper) at a vowel, you have to be really really careful. Nothing cluing could've done for this one. The cross is just inherently yucky.


Five things:
  • 1A: Era of ignorance (DARK AGES) — don't like this. Should be DARK AGE. Saying DARK AGES implies that it is an actual period of time. There is no such time. It's some bullshit that people say about the early part of the Middle Ages. Also, we are super-"ignorant" right now. I mean ... jeez, just look around. Further, the "dark" part has more to do with the historical record—the small number of extant MSS from the period—than it does with the "ignorance" of the "era." I mean, hi, here's the most cursory research re: "DARK AGES": "The term employs traditional light-versus-darkness imagery to contrast the era's "darkness" (lack of records) with earlier and later periods of "light" (abundance of records)." (wikipedia). DARK AGE, singular, as a figurative term, fine. But please don't tell people the DARK AGES were a real time, or a time of "ignorance." Just reinforces presentist dumbness.
  • 1D: Deaden acoustically (DAMP) — oddly maddening. Even when I got to -AMP I just wanted TAMP.
  • 12D: Word from the Latin for "noose" (LASSO) — honest-to-god thought this was gonna be RIATA (or REATA)
  • 57D: Hightail it, saltily (HAUL ASS) — approved; my favorite thing about this grid
  • 67D: Western powwow held every year or so (NATO SUMMIT) — maybe not "powwow"; just maybe; just a thought; maybe; maybe examine your metaphors; possibly; is all I'm saying ... especially in the context of "Western." It's so easy to just change this to "meeting" or even "get-together" if you want some misdirection.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

PS I should've caught this:


It may seem a small thing, but casually assuming that a profession defaults to male perpetuates the erasure of women from the public sphere *and* the truly dumb idea that only women are gendered, or that we only need to mention gender when women are at issue—we often mark gender when the answer's female, but act like it doesn't exist when the answer's male. Bad habit.

PPS I'm getting email explaining the actual meaning of "spork" to me, which ... :( ...  I know what "spork" means. My first-paragraph comments were about the portmanfaux, not the actual word / portmanteau. Thank you.

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]

126 comments:

Randy (Boulder) 12:20 AM  

re: "There is nothing particularly "Yule" about a BURNING LOG, so I have no idea what that clue thinks it's doing."

Yule log! It's not merely a dessert.

See "Classic Yule Log" channel on your cable or dish, e.g. Chan 199 on Dish Network. :)

Unknown 12:59 AM  

Explanation for 102A: Like services covered by a health insurer (INAREA)???

Trombone Tom 1:20 AM  

I did not anticipate that the Gray Lady was ready to HAUL ASS, but enjoyed the mental image.

Tom R 1:41 AM  

Dark ages really is what that time period is called, not dark age. I sooooo whanted Trump Era there, but come to think of it, the past two years feels like a dark age with all the science deniers and lies, so there it is: Two dark ages, one in early medieval times, one now.

Thomas 1:47 AM  

I enjoyed this one. The portmanteaus were all familiar and the redefinitions, while obviously wrong, were funny and the kind of thing I might kid my grandson with if he ever asks me what GROUPON, SPORK, or SKORT means.

“Hey Poppop! What’s a SKORT?”

“A SKI RESORT. Now please pass the GROUPON for my SPORK.”


Guess I’m easily amused.

I definitely thought this was worth the relatively few dabs of crossword glue and the obscure fill like IMRE.

I had BLUEPrint before BLUEPAPER, never heard of CORNETTI (but now I want to try one) and MUDCAT was a gimme, since years ago I fished for them myself in the Mississippi River.

Harryp 2:28 AM  

The suckered me in with 40Down. I immediately put in Blueprint and had a hard time figuring out where I went wrong. All's well that ends well, but it took a while.

chefwen 2:53 AM  

As long as I shall live I’ll never remember how to spell PESCI, is it two CC’s and an I, two CC’s and an e, or sce, sci, oh hell, I give up.

Got all the right letters in their little boxes and said to puzz partner, “what the hell was that”? I rarely meet a puzzle that I don’t enjoy, but this was one of them. Sorry guys.

puzzlehoarder 3:35 AM  

I've stayed up way too late going over this thing. It comes across as one of those everything and the kitchen sink kind of Sundays. A lot to review. All this for a puzzle that sort of went down in half the time for yesterday's.

I say " sort of" because I got two dnfs. I had BESS instead of TESS and NONDEAL instead of NONREAL. That last one really didn't look right to me and I honestly didn't think of it as a NON term. What I thought was that it was some unknown term that just happened to look one. After all it is in the same puzzle as RISEOVERRUN, a complete unknown to me.

I may have not actually completed the puzzle but at least I didn't waste much time doing it.

As far as the actual theme goes the one nit I'd like to pick is GLOG being stuck in the middle of 93A. This purports to be holiday related due to the very random term BURNINGLOG while having a near spelling of GLOGG, which is very much holiday related. While solving I didn't know that it needed a second G so I kept wondering why it wasn't functioning like the other themers. Why was this spiced holiday drink showing up for no reason? Between the two of these guys they must have heard of GLOGG. Of course they would know how to spell it too.

Like I said I've stayed up way too late.

pearlquartz 4:20 AM  

Did it seriously bother anyone else that MURDER CASE MURSE was the only theme answer that didn't rhyme?

It tripped me up for a bit even though I had it filled in, because I was sure it had to be something else since all of the others followed the same pattern of the "portmanfaux" rhyming with the second word of the phrase. :(

ZenMonkey 4:34 AM  

This was...odd, but oddly enjoyable. Even when I didn't get the game because I had no idea MURSE was a real thing, and all I had was SKIRES at first with no thoughts on what that could be.

With TWERKING crossing REAR plus HAUL ASS, the puzzle is getting awfully cheeky.

Anonymous 5:00 AM  

I call foul on the 39 across/down combo. An RBI is not a RIBEYE. It’s a “ribbie.”

Hungry Mother 5:14 AM  

The theme went smoothly, but the SW held me in check for too long before I saw the light. Nice Sunday offering.

suea 6:12 AM  

The only thing about this puzzle that I REALLY didn't like was using " western powwow" as a clue for NATO meeting. Quite racist. Shame...

Lewis 6:17 AM  

What I take away most from this puzzle is the fresh feel it imparts. All along I kept coming across words that I've never seen in puzzles before or rarely seen. Some were everyday words, such as PEER GROUP, HUMERUS, MICROGRAM, HAPPENING, EPILEPSY, and others not so much, like AQUILINE, MUDCAP, and BLUE PAPER. In all, I now see in the XwordInfo analysis, there are, aside from the theme answers, 15 NYT debuts. After solving puzzles for a good number of years, freshness in a puzzle is rare and wonderful, and plaudits to Joel and Byron for this vibrant offering.

Two answers triggered memories from this past week: RIPIT flashed me back to Wednesday's RIBBIT; and POEM reminded me of Nancy's GEM yesterday.

Dustin P. 6:32 AM  

I wanted so badly for HAUL ASS to be SHAG ASS, a reference to Royal’s line from The Royal Tenenbaums.

Jofried 6:55 AM  

Fun puzzle! And Rex, any high school student who has taken basic Algebra knows RISEOVERRUN, it is absolutely used all the time. Hooray for a puzzle full of math and science clues!

Anonymous 6:56 AM  

Theme did nothing for me and I found it lame. I do support the Jenny Lewis. I discovered only a few days ago after discussing here how much I love Neko Case. Fantastic music.

Small Town Blogger 6:58 AM  

“In area” meaning in-network coverage.

Anonymous 6:58 AM  

I’m with @pearlquartz & @anonymous 5:00.

Just a piece of information from Maine. Here when someone is involuntarily committed to a mental institution it’s called BLUEPAPERing. The name refers to the cover of the legal order effecting the commitment.

— Jim C. in Maine

David 7:31 AM  

In math there are imaginary numbers. Nobody says "nonreal" number. Here in the Northeast we have catfish, down the Mississippi they are indeed called "mudcat". "Inarea"? No. Why would anybody shorten "Astros" to "stros"? Do they shorten the Gators to "ators" too? And I will never accept "murse" as a word.

Back when Wired magazine was hyperventilating about how the new WWW would "democratize" information and educate everybody I was telling people it would more likely usher in a new Dark Age (using that colloquially Rex). I was right.

chefbea 7:34 AM  

Had no idea what a portmanteau was!!! But I did get the Brady Bunch Brunch!!!

MissScarlet 7:35 AM  

Just read yesterday that recent research indicates 536 as the year when Icelandic volcanos began spewing smoke and ash all over Europe and Asia, hence, the beginning of “the dark ages”.

Kiki 7:41 AM  

A Yule log is a Christmas tradition that goes back centuries in ye olde England. You go out and get a big log to burn for days.

Rex, this was freaking brilliant (I especially loved GREY POUPON GROUPON and BRADY BUNCH BRUNCH). I can't believe you're complaining about how SPACE PROGRAM would never be consolidated to SPAM. Of course, it wouldn't! It's a fun poke at portmanteau words. Sheesh!

The wit was fabulous. Kudos to the creators of this puzzle.



'merican in Paris 7:43 AM  

Worked on this one alone, as Mrs. 'mericans was off in the Gulf (as in the Mideast, not the Deep South). Took me a long time, and several cheats, but finally finished late Saturday evening.

Got the clue at BRADY BUNCH BRUNCH, but the others didn't exactly fall into place. Entered "mute" at 1D (I thought the verb was DAMPen, by the way), so didn't see DARK AGES until near the end and then everything else in that corner fell into place. Hands up also for thinking "nowadayS" as an answer to 1A. Speaking of which, I recommend the BBC Radio 4 podcast from 5 November: "How to kill a democracy".

I was recently in Rome, so CORNETTI were familiar to me. Tough covering a brand-name bed (SERTA) and the first name of a long-dead Central European politician (IMRE).

Liked the scientific sub-theme (especially NA CL), but struggled with PPPs. So all in all a mixed experience.

HAUL ASS was definitely IN AREA. Had TPS been any closer to REAR, this puzzle wouldn't have passed the breakfast test!

Anonymous 7:58 AM  

I have a Ph.D. in mathematics and have also tutored algebra, and I have heard "rise over run" about 3 times in my life. I knew it but would call it a very rare usage.

I had never before heard that the "dark" in dark ages refers to the lack of records. That actually makes sense. I had a college professor fulminate over that term because that time period was not a period of ignorance and therefore the term was insulting.

Did anyone else stay stuck on various kinds of sheep herding dogs for a long time before realizing that llama was what fit?

"In area" isn't at all a synonym for "in network." Any insurance that limits you to "in network" has a network, and that's it. If you live in New York and you need a doctor while you're visiting California, you just need a doctor who's in the network. It doesn't matter that they are out of area. On the other hand, the doctor could be right across the street from where you work, but if they're not in the network it doesn't matter in the least that they are totally in the area.


benjaminthomas 8:04 AM  

It's your blog, so do what you want, but ...

So often your review just amounts to "if I knew it = good; if I didn't know it (or in fact if I am just really ignorant) = bad".

DARK AGE? In any other context you would have said "Unacceptable, it's obvious to any high school graduate that it is DARK AGES!"

RISEOVERRUN -- same thing (as noted by @jofried above.)

mmorgan 8:10 AM  

Well, I enjoyed it quite a bit and thought the themers were very good and pretty funny (except MURSE, though I trouble in the whole NW). But then again IMRE and OSCAR ARIAS were total gimmes for me.

Like @Thomas, I guess I'm easily amused.

@ZenMonkey: ha!!

I don't use the term myself, but I do occasionally hear the term POWWOW used to mean "conference" (one of its listed definitions). I thought it was a nice misdirection at the time. Do Native Americans find it offensive when used that way? I ask because I don't know, not to defend its use.

amyyanni 8:13 AM  

Enjoyed the plethora of baseball clues. Also stumbled over "bluepaper." Loved the mustard clue b/c I love mustard. Engaging puzzle.

mooretep 8:16 AM  

"Rise over Run" is to me, the best description of slope.

You could also use "delta y" over "delta x", y2 - y1 divided by x2 - x1, or tangent.

As a teacher of high school students, I find "rise over run" to be the most appropriate definition.

Anonymous 8:17 AM  

HUH?

Batty 8:26 AM  

A caught "foul" can result in a RIBEYE-Ribbie. (for the baseball challenged: A runner on third can score after a ball is caught, whether it is fair or foul, and an RBI is awarded)

frankbirthdaycake 8:30 AM  

NE was hard for me, for some reason. Not enough space for “delta y over delta x,” and not familiar with riseoverrun. The rest had it’s fun parts.

BarbieBarbie 8:30 AM  

God I hate it when Rex manspains feminism.

OffTheGrid 8:32 AM  

Seriously, please explain the racism of powwow. If you need to be offended go with the sexism of 22A as Thedoctordonna pointed out in her tweet. I noticed it while solving, wasn't offended but I was aware of it.

Anonymous 8:34 AM  

Rex, being a baseball fan I am quite surprised to your reaction to MUDCAT. "Mudcat" Grant was long time MLB pitcher, all star and one of the best nicknames in baseball - right up there with Blue Moon Odom.

QuasiMojo 8:46 AM  

The burning Yule Log was a favorite Christmas tradition at our house. They sell videos of it at Walmart, or did. IMRE is the Hungarian version of Emmerich. Manteau means Mantle in French. A bit of “crust” leftover from the other day?

Words like Murse, Skort, Spork exist only in desperate crossword puzzles, at least in my limited realm of experience — or “In Area.” Does anyone really say “pass me the spork” or “my dear, such a lovely skort you have on. Where did you buy it?” After finishing this enigma wrapped in a riddle wrapped in a tiresome conundrum like a MUDCAT in yesterday’s Times, I want to “haul ass” and buy me some Spam for brunch, slathered in Grey Poupon, bien sûr!

Jay 8:53 AM  

Bring back a themeless type Parick Berry to Sunday. It was so much fun.
This one, like most themed Sunday puzzles, left me unimpressed. Lame humor.

MickMcMick 8:57 AM  

All the titled answers either rhyme or they don’t 22 across? I had pulled pork, do llamas really guard sheep and goats? That’s a new one on me.

kitshef 9:00 AM  

Standard Sunday fare. Dull theme, so-so filler, cluing mostly too on the nose.

Never heard an RBI called a ribeye. Eversomuchmoreso for IN AREA – it’s always IN network. IN AREA is just a made up phrase used to fill a tight corner.

Well, I really enjoyed the clue for NATO SUMMIT.

There was a cartoon popular back in high school where i is speaking to π. i says “don’t be irrational”, and π responds “get real”. Man, we were wild back then.

Ash 9:12 AM  

Rats! Another DNF thanks to one word - I had DALE instead of DELL. I've never heard of GESSO or OLLAS so GASSO and OELAS seemed reasonable guesses. Oh well. Don't like that CASE doesn't rhyme with MURSE :-( "Rise over run" was very easy and familiar to me. Never heard of a TYRO before.

Reasonably fun puzzle for me - too much guessing but I guess that's par for the course for a puzzle-solving TYRO like me.

Anonymous 9:13 AM  

manspLains?

Hartley70 9:32 AM  

I’m happy to give points for silliness and this theme gets some. Even better, the long answers were not immediately obvious. There was a hodgepodge of fill, people I didn’t know, TESS and EVAN, one I had to think to remember, IMRE, and one I have no trouble spelling, PESCI. I think I would say “That’s a nice SKORT!” if I was on the golf course and it was a pretty Lily Pulitzer. Lots to learn here also, such as MURSE, ERASMUS, MICROGRAM, LLAMA. All in all this is what I look for in a Sunday so well done!

Chili Davis 9:36 AM  

Chill out people it’s just a crossword puzzle. A great one I might add. I’ve never heard RBIs called rib-eyes either but then again there are a lot of things I don’t know. Peace.

Suzie Q 9:39 AM  

My problem with Sunday themed puzzles is that they are too big. After you get the joke it seems to get beat to death by the time you're finished.
I'm surprised Rex complained about Nagy. I've seen that enough times that I just pulled it out of the crosswordese part of my brain without question. Rex has done a lot more puzzles than I have.
Of the themes I have to agree with @ pearlquartz 4:20 about murse. It does seem like an outlier among the themers.
Is Waze something like Google Maps? New to me.
I am offended by the vulgar twerking. No class, no shame.
The Churchill quote is a good one. I had no idea he said that.
Lastly, the expression I know is "For heaven's sake".

Blerg 9:40 AM  

Murse, skort, and spork belong in the same language bin as postlewaite, words so horribly ill conceived that they should've never been uttered a second time after first being said aloud. And now they're billboarded in a puzzle.

Stros? There are people so lazy that they can't find the voice to make the
sound ass? Check the NYT puzzle. They seem to take a tittering delight in working it in. Heh heh we said ass.

Haul Ass? Yeah, it's a thing. So is Suck D***. Are we there yet? It fits the verb/slang for a body part. Heh heh. I wish.

Amelia 9:49 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Teedmn 9:50 AM  

The western half of this puzzle was hostile territory today. GOJI BERRIES, RURITANIA. Is BURNING LOG as clued just weird to only me? I see from the comments, not. Or AT SIX? Are munchkins GNOMEs?

I solved this randomly and I was at that place where I would hit the tab button over and over again, knowing that if I didn't have any idea the last time I was at that spot, well, nothing had changed since. Things like "Secures with a band". Hmmm. I even considered "signs" a la a record company. Gah.

I can usually overcome the Sunday slog blues with randomization but not today. I did laugh at my lame attempt to write out the equation for a line at 16D as AXPLUSB (then what?), not thinking that A is the slope and I needed the equation for A, duh. Basic math was a long time ago. You forget how to talk about such things. Though I was so proud of myself the other day. A friend got a "growing frog" (a dollar store special) as a booby prize after a card party. You put the frog in water and it "grows", increasing 600% in size according to the package. She was trying to calculate how big that would get and after trying to look it up on her phone, she asked me and I was able to say, confidently, "Seven times bigger". (I later double-checked, and I was right). So this frog goes from 4" to 28" and when it dries out, it is supposed to shrink back. It must be made out of some special GLOOP.

I WISH I could say I liked this puzzle but I can't, though I appreciate the effort. The clue for TWERKING was good, and hey, HAUL ASS. And I got to repeat my EAUs mistake of earlier this week before replacing it with the X. And, perhaps inspired by @Nancy's marvelous ode to yesterday's puzzle, I thought maybe Kipling made the "one-eyed man is king" quote (didn't put that in, though). So there were things to like. Thanks, BW and JF.

Peter P 9:53 AM  

Interesting to see some of the discussion about RISEOVERRUN. Perhaps it depended on when and where you were taught, but that answer was a gimme to me with no letters filled in the grid. It had been repeated so often in high school, that the answer was a reflex.

I, too, was a little confused by the northwest themer (MURDERCASEMURSE), as it didn't follow the rhyming pattern every other answer had. It was the last theme answer I fillled in, and took me awhile to convince myself of the missing letters to fill.

Count me in with the folks who have never heard an RBI called a RIBEYE. This seems to be another of the baseball oddities in the past few months. What was the other weird one we had? "What a 'singleton' is in baseball lingo" : HOMERUN. Another one nobody has ever heard of. Both were inferable with the cross clues, but neither any baseball terms I had heard in the wild.

As for MURSE, SPORK, and SKORT only being used in crossword puzzles, well, I was aware of these words having never seen them in crosswords before (as I'm still relatively new to this.) SPORK is the only one of these, though, that I heard with some amount of frequency. MURSE I've only heard used very tongue-in-cheekily, and SKORT I have no idea where I know it from, but it's a term I must've encountered in the wild a few times to have remembered it.

I enjoyed this one a lot. Had fun filling it in on the flight to Phoenix to visit the in-laws for the holidays.

PS: I don't get why sometimes I have to do a recaptcha and sometimes not. I just had to finish over a dozen (!) pages of identifying various items in a photo before it believed I wasn't a robot. Typically, it's only a couple.

Anonymous 9:58 AM  

Seems you forgot to include the first paragraph in the Wikipedia entry:
"The 'Dark Ages' is a historical periodization traditionally referring to the Middle Ages, that asserts that a demographic, cultural, and economic deterioration occurred in Western Europe following the decline of the Roman Empire." [Wikipedia]

Surprised that you do not know anything about Imre Nagy. He is not an "obscure" person to readers of post-World War Two history. Perhaps, after reading this excerpt, you might be interested in the entire Wikipedia entry.
"Imre Nagy (Hungarian: [ˈimrɛ ˈnɒɟ]; 7 June 1896 – 16 June 1958) was a Hungarian communist politician who was appointed Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the Hungarian People's Republic on two occasions. Nagy's second term ended when his non-Soviet-backed government was brought down by Soviet invasion in the failed Hungarian Revolution of 1956, resulting in Nagy's execution on charges of treason two years later." [Wikipedia]

Also surprised you have never heard of cornetti, which is the plural of cornetto. Perhaps you have not spent much time in Italy.
"A cornetto, meaning "little horn", is an Italian variation of the Austrian kipferl and the French croissant. It differs from a croissant in being softer and containing less butter. The main ingredients of a cornetto are pastry dough, eggs, butter, water and sugar." [Wikipedia]

Birchbark 10:00 AM  

"Just reinforces presentist dumbness" -- that's the best something of 2018, but I'm not sure what. You could say the same thing about much of next Friday.

Nancy 10:01 AM  

It's hard to critique something that's so playful and silly. The silliness made the theme answers hard to figure out without a lot of crosses. Which added some challenge. Which I enjoyed. And in every case there was a surprise when the theme answer came in. My favorite clue was for SPACE PROGRAM SPAM. My favorite answer was GREY POUPON GROUPON. Imaginative, if weird, and very enjoyable.

From yesterday: a belated thanks to @Roo, @chefwen, @Puzzled Peter and @Hartley for their nice comments towards the end of the day.

GILL I. 10:03 AM  

I saw the title and I said "ooooh." I saw the constructors and I added a "La La."
Like @Kieran, I penned in "brilliant" in my little margin. After last Sunday's ick, this was quite fun.
So....MURDER CASE MURSE is infuriating, dated and sexist? Wow. I thought it was kinda funny. The ribbing my boss took when he was the first to carry around his MURSE. I still see his face now. Dumb smile but proud that he carried all of his valuables in a leather pouch and therefore not bunching up the pants pockets of his expensive tailor made suit. To each....and all that.
@Barbie B. You made me laugh out loud. Sans the "L" and all. I knew exactly what you meant....Too may sighs lately.
@Rex. But SALTED PORK is a thing....SEXY PORK? Is that a thing? I think you'd offend the swine.
My favorite was the BRADY BUNCH BRUNCH. I loves me some BRUNCH.
I had the wonderful fortune of meeting OSCAR ARIAS Sanchez in Costa Rica. We were on a powwow convention and he was asked to be a guest speaker. He's small in stature but grand in more ways possible. My MURSE boss at the time, had the chutzpah to go up to him and ask if he wanted to sit with us at dinner. He did. He didn't stay long but the 5 minutes he gave us were wonderful. We need some more OSCAR's.
I did not know that LLAMAS guard sheep and goats. Do they spit on them if they stray?
Loved your fun Portmanfaux's, Byron and Joel.
Please pass the Poupon.....

Z 10:04 AM  

2 good ones, 2 that were meh, 3 that were terrible. Yeah, not so much. There are a couple of nice longer down answers, but then there’s stuff like GOJI BERRIES and RURITANIA. Maybe somebody likes that sort of trivia but that somebody is not me. I think finding three truly funny “Portmanfaux” and making this a Wednesday puzzle would have been better.

For the unaware, OFL is a medievalist. When a medievalist mentions that a concept you were taught in middle school social studies is inaccurate you might want to accept the expert or do a little research. Going the “well actually” route,... well, not what I would do.

I did get what the BLOG themers was going for, but I agree with Rex, the clue fails. Yeah Yeah, Yule Logs are burning logs. But, the BURNING LOGS around a campfire have nothing to do with Christmas. “Ghost Story Time Posts” works better in my opinion.

It was “ribbies” for the vast majority of my life, but an ex-player and now ex-Tiger color analyst always called them RIBEYES and would frequently make steak jokes. No problem here.

Having done a great deal of my school admin training during the math wars (TBF - like the reading wars, the math wars will never really end) I am very familiar with RISE OVER RUN, even though the term was never used in any math course I ever took. Surprisingly*, using English words to describe math concepts helps a lot of people learn a concept better than Greek letters and variables. The Math Wars heated up in the 90’s, so I strongly suspect those of us who took Algebra before 1990 will be less familiar with the term. If you want the quick and dirty version of what the math wars are all about, there’s a large coven** that think some people just can’t learn math. Their opponents believe all people can learn, I’m definitely on team “all people can,” although experience has taught me that even though all can, many refuse.

Speaking of covens, local news about a private school with the highest rate of “religious exemptions” for vaccinations suffering an outbreak of chicken pox seems timely given today’s ignorance discussion. To Rex’s point, the early middle age’s ignorance can easily be matched by the ignorance that surrounds us today despite our advancements in science.




*By which I mean not surprising at all.
**My apologies to Wiccans everywhere.

Rob 10:12 AM  

This was tough, took us more than 40 minutes! (I usually do the weekend puzzles with my wife.) Definitely bugged me that the first themer was the only one not to rhyme. That was the last area I filled in because I had been conditioned to expect it and I just couldn't figure out how --RSE could possibly rhyme with CASE. Poor form.

TomAz 10:21 AM  

to the various commenters: IN AREA is a thing, but just barely. It has a different meaning than 'in network'. I'm an actuary, I work in health insurance, this is my field. IN AREA is the opposite of "out of area" -- out of area coverage is required for medical issues which arise while traveling someplace where you don't normally live or work. Such coverage is typically required by insurance regulators, for obvious reasons. IN AREA, though, doesn't really have much meaning other than "not out of area".

I agree with Rex, that CORNETTI/IMRE crossing was awful. Let's play Guess the Vowel! And yes the portmanfaux were mostly weak groaners.

I don't get the objections to 'powwow' though. Native communities in Arizona use the term all the time. Earlier this month I was seeing signs for the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Pow Wow around the area. It seems quite different from offensive words like 'squaw' or other slurs. If we're objecting to the simple fact of cultural appropriation, well okay, but then I hope your thanksgiving menu doesn't include squash, or pecan pie.

TomAz 10:23 AM  

Also, who the heck calls RBIs "rib eyes"? They're "ribbies".

JC66 10:26 AM  

Surprised no one has mentioned the that @Rex doesn't know that dork is synonymous with penis

@Z

Like you, I grew up with ribbbie, but for years, Keith Hernandez, the NY Mets color guy, has used RIBEYE to refer to an RBI.

@Nancy

I have family visiting, so didn't see yesterday's comments until this morning. Great poem!

Anonymous 10:26 AM  

Reminds me of the joke "He was so fat that if you told him to haul ass he had to make two trips".

Unknown 10:27 AM  

Totally agree, @Chili. We're living through a new Dark Age, and people are hyperventilating over the tiniest violations of their sensibilities. It's a puzzle, folks.

Actually, after solving the ...MURSE theme clue first, I was thinking initially it would be a masculine theme, given portMANfaux. Got disabused of that silly notion soon enough...

Actually, I enjoyed the theme execution quite a bit, actually LOLed over the thought of Jan whining "Marcia, Marcia, Marcia ... her toast always falls to the floor butter side up!"

NONREAL is definitely unreal, an imaginary answer. Final toughie for me was ENC; I had ENV (of course) and wondered whether a "murder vase" was some new weapon choice in the 10th Edition of Clue.

B. Crosby 10:29 AM  

Of course there is nothing particularly "yule" about a burning log. :/ https://youtu.be/TqAEYKShfzY

Rainbow 10:47 AM  

EEUW!

CDilly52 10:50 AM  

Thank you! After struggling for just over an hour, I finally got all the squares filled but for the life of me could not understand how to connect the theme clues to the full theme answers and like @chefwen 2:53, did not enjoy or appreciate the puzzle. Until I read and laughed out loud at your post.

Nancy 10:58 AM  

...And thanks today to Lewis, Teedmn and JC66.

I love your (PORTMANFAUX?) blog name, @Blerg (9:40) and am wondering what it stands for. A real name like, say, Blanche Goldberg or Blaise Berg? Or what about Blog Greenberg? I've never seen it before. Did you make it up today in honor of this puzzle?

@TomAz (10:23) -- Actually, I've never called RBIs either Rib-eyes or Ribbies.

I didn't know LLAMAs guarded sheep and goats either, @GILL (10:03). "Do they spit on them if they stray?" So funny!

ghthree 11:09 AM  

Several of the words used within the answers appear to be portmanteaus themselves:
GROUP + COUPON => GROUPON
SPOON + FORK => SPORK
WEB + BLOG => BLOG
SKIRT + SHORT => SKORT
BREAKFAST + LUNCH => BRUNCH
I haven't checked the histories, but I think most of them are accurate.
:-)
I posted this comment more than an hour ago, but it hasn't yet appeared.
When I tried to post it I was invited to sign in to Facebook.
I closed my Facebook account last month.
If I can't post to Rex directly, I'll stop posting(but not reading) this blog.

Anonymous 11:13 AM  

I would say that Nagy an important figure in Cold War history, but one could very easily forget that his first name was Imre.

Music Man 11:32 AM  

This one?

http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-Gi85rDapcDo/TjG8FoWsSXI/AAAAAAAAAtg/F5RGs_k2cJU/s1600/Math-jokes.jpg

A guy in Idaho 11:33 AM  

Used to get steamed up about Rex's goofy (imo) pc outrages... but it IS his blog, so...
His opinions are his, mine are mine.
I'm over it.
I read this blog to see if my daily experience mirrors others.

Carola 11:34 AM  

Well, chacun à son GROU-PON, I guess. I'm with the GROUP that found the theme tiresome. I did enjoy the challenge of finishing the puzzle.

Z 11:39 AM  

@ghthree - they are all portmanteaus but with different provenance than the wacky ones in the puzzle. I think SPAM might be questionable, but the other six are definitely portmanteaus.

ArtO 11:42 AM  

Whew! What a slog. BLUEPAPER??? (Blueprint to most construction folks); RIBEYES for ribbies (never heard the steak version), RISEOVERUN!! Holy Cow!! (to quote Phil Rizzuto); GOJIBERRIES!! (not into alternative medicine).

A couple of cute themes (SKIRESORTSKORT, GREYPOUPONGROUPON, SPACEPROGRAMSPAM) but not a pleasant Sunday morning workout.

Ed Rosenthal 11:44 AM  

“The Gray Lady” is a traditional nickname for The NY Times.

Loren Muse Smith 11:46 AM  

This theme is right up my alley. Hah. Taking common portmanteaux and re-explaining them. Beyond delightful.

I can't run my mouth as per usual 'cause I'm at Mom and Dad's and had to solve this on my phone. Yuck city.

GREY POUPON GROUPON alone was worth the price of admission.

I thought briefly that TWERK is a portmanteaux. There's this four-letter word that begins with TW that refers to, well, "down there" on a woman. So that merging with jerk. Nah. I do remember when I was in middle school, Mom told me that that word meant REAR. (She believed this and was not stirring up trouble.) I used it willy-nilly until someone pulled me aside and told me the deal. Bet I surprised a lot of people up until then.

Byron, Joel - two constructing giants - terrific fun this morning!

TubaDon 11:58 AM  

A fairly good puzzle spoiled by some problems. Got the BRADY BRUNCH immediately, but then assumed that all the rest would rhyme...and they did, except for 22A, shich cost me many minutes of staring since I knew HUMERUS was correct, but had no idea what a MURSE was, but finally went with it. Guessed NONREAL right away, but cringed at it. Also spent too much time trying to work YULE into 93A. INAREA was also a guess. And aren't high kicks more typical of Cancans than ASS shaking?

Unknown 12:32 PM  

Too many male puzzle creators. That is how we end up with a murse. Pay attention to us puzzle editor.

JC66 12:36 PM  

In honor of @Evil Doug

The Seinfeld MURSE.

Unknown 12:39 PM  

Totally agree about the Nagy thing. I was stunned that a crossword blogger would make that complaint. Crosswords have been keeping Imre Nagy’s name alive for decades.

Blerg 12:52 PM  

@Nancy, It was coined by Tina Fey to express all sorts of frustration, which was my reaction to this puzzle. I detest Murse, Skort, and Spork.

If you are a man and you want to carry a purse, man up and call it a purse. I won't belabor the rest. Except of course these: Rise over run (sounds like something to do w/panty hose), Haul Ass (not a prude but geez already), Strohs, and the other horrible baseball clue.

I did love Aquiline, eaux, burning log blog, and dark ages (when the first thing that popped into my head was Now?).

Addendum: Joel Fagliano's minis make my day. So, sorry for being a crab Joel.There was a lot of good here.

Anonymous 1:20 PM  

The Toledo Mudcats?

Malsdemare 1:22 PM  

I'm not native, and I haven't read the entire blog, so forgive me for piping up. But I think POWWOW is okay. A POWWOW is a gathering of the tribes, or nations, for celebrating, trade, negotiations. There's a huge one in Albuquerque every April; I highly recommend it. It’s probably an Anglicized word that the tribes use and as such, wouldn't be an issue. There's nothing pejorative or coopting about it. My two cents. I shall ask some of my Navajo friends and report back.

RISEOVERRUN and NONREAL sank me, but I thought it was fun nonetheless. Loved the TWERKING and REAR cross. Pat on the back for getting ERASMUS off the E and S. Thumbs down for BLUEPAPER; that was dirty pool. I've heard of man purses and . . . .maybe . . . Murse. Would like to forget them. Give me a break; if you're carrying a bag for your stuff, it’s a purse. Get over yourself.

Thanks, guys

Aphid Larue 1:26 PM  

Yes to lack of rhyme being a problem.

Lynx 1:47 PM  

Did not know BLOOP and GLOOP were actual words. I have heard of 'blooper' and 'glop'. Today's silliness rubbed me the wrong way, didn't especially enjoy it.

RooMonster 1:52 PM  

Hey All !
I got A GRIP, and actually liked this puz. So Nyah.

Did have SKiRT instead of SKORT. Ugh. That math problem causing me puz problems. RISE iVERRUN, sure, why not? Math can be confusing, after all. Other wrongness, CORNiTTI/IMRi, and OLAf1/EfAN. Maybe with EfAN was thinking of an internet affectionado?

Themers were neat. Cracked up at Rex's SEXY PORK. SYNAPSIS firing when HAUL ASS appeared. Agree with the BLUEPAPER. Who, wha? Get that APER outta there and give me the correct RINT!

Writeovers, EAUs-EAUX (I know, I know, we just had it the other day), EXPARTiot-EXPARTNER, TYkeS-TYROS, glen-DaLe-DELL, msg-GMO, themer ScAM-SPAM.

Did get GOJI BERRIES correct, though! It's funny parsed as GO JIBERRIES. 🙂

RIP IT TWERKING - Har.
RooMonster
DarrinV

jberg 1:57 PM  

There's a statue of IMRE Nagy in Budapest; he's standing on a bridge in a little park, near the parliament building, if I remember right. My wife and I were there about 10 years ago, and spent a little time watching engaged couples come along, stand up on the bridge with him, and take their picture. This was about 50 years after the Russians executed him. I'll never forget his name now.

I don't see why the theme answers have to rhyme, but I guess if some of them do then the rest should; and I'd hate to give up GREY POUPON GROUPON. But I just checked -- Groupon doesn't have one at the moment.

I liked the theme, but I thought the best thing in the puzzle was the way they sent up those who get upset about missing diacriticals.

Art Vandelay 2:13 PM  

those complaining about "ribeyes" aren't Mets fans..Keith Hernandez often refers to RBIs as Ribeye Steaks during telecasts.


Also those offended by MURSE...using MURSE for that clue in no way implies that only men are detectives. If they had used PURSE would it have implied ALL detectives are women? Of course not. But a MURSE is indeed a satchel that could be carried by a hypothetical male detective...perhaps working alongside women and men with all sorts of other satchels. They just needed an M to match MURDER.

thefogman 3:24 PM  

This one was challenging, clever and fun. Why all the fuss Rex?

michiganman 3:32 PM  

True that Yule logs are burning logs but most burning logs are not Yule logs.

From whychristmas.com:

The custom of burning the Yule Log goes back to, and before, medieval times. It was originally a Nordic tradition. Yule is the name of the old Winter Solstice festivals in Scandinavia and other parts of northern Europe. The custom of the Yule Log spread all over Europe and different kids of wood are used in different countries. In England, Oak is traditional; in Scotland, it is Birch; while in France, it's Cherry. Also, in France, the log is sprinkled with wine, before it is burnt, so that it smells nice when it is lit.

The Yule Log was originally an entire tree, that was carefully chosen and brought into the house with great ceremony. The largest end of the log would be placed into the fire hearth while the rest of the tree stuck out into the room! The log would be lit from the remains of the previous year's log which had been carefully stored away and slowly fed into the fire through the Twelve Days of Christmas.

kitshef 3:51 PM  

@Music Man - same principle, but this would have been back in the seventies. Interesting that you can copyright something that has been around for decades. And I like "don't be irrational" better than "be rational" - more in the language.

TCProf 4:01 PM  

Nice to see that someone remembers Jim "Mudcat" Grant, a great pitcher for the Indians.

As to spam and the space program, the original Apollo astronauts, most of whom were skilled test pilots, hated the passive role they played in their trips into space. They referred to themselves as "spam in a can," since they had no control over what the rockets or capsules did.

IrishCream 4:32 PM  

Really? Not at all doubting your expertise; I just heard it so many times in junior/senior high math classes that I’m surprised to learn it’s not universal. Maybe a regional thing? I encountered it in New England in the 1990s.

IrishCream 4:34 PM  

I appreciate it, because there are plenty of jerks who only take it seriously if another man points it out.

Paul Mazur 4:53 PM  

It's fun to see what trips people up. Rise over run was a gimme. Wtf is Ruritania and who cares. Awkward puzzle but still fun spending time with my wife on a Sunday solving.

Joe Dipinto 5:02 PM  

Whãt à tëdîous, ùnfún piéce øf gārbâge.

ghthree 5:47 PM  

Several observations:
1: I wear a bag around my neck. It keeps most of my pockets nearly empty, preventing an unsightly bulge. My wife Jane wears a similar bag. According to the ads I read when searching for the product, if a man wears it, it's a messenger bag. If a woman wears it, it's a purse. This distinction was probably coined by the advertisers. Jane and I simply use the word "bag" for both.
2: In re 95D: If you are interested, Google Ogden Nash on the subject of Llamas.
3: Here's a WWII marching song:
We're saving three rounds and we'll use them well. Parlay Voo.
We're saving three rounds and we'll use them well. Parlay Voo.
We're saving three rounds and we'll use them well.
For Hitler and Tojo and Alfred Hormel!
Inky Dinky Parlay Voo!
Notice the spelling. These were Yanks marching.
4: I hadn't heard (or thought about) the word "Munchkin" for years until Trump appointed his Treasury secretary. Did others have the same association, or am I the only one?
5: Finally, a technical point:
I wrote an earlier submission about portmanteau words.
I sent it at 9:32 AM.
I got a message inviting me to sign in via Facebook.
I refused. The post disappeared.
More than an hour later, I posted it again.
This time, I received the "Your message has been posted" response.
Shortly thereafter, it appeared on the blog.
What's the difference?
I'm guessing that the first time, I hit the Facebook icon. The second time, I submitted directly.
Maybe Rex should remove the Facebook icon from his blog.
He has eleven at last count. If he removed one, most of us would still be able to reach him.


Anonymous 6:07 PM  

As a historian, I get so tired of the righteous rants defending the Dark Ages. The facts are these. Compared to the preceding era, the population declined, the economy contracted, life expectancy fell, literacy rates fell drastically, war became more common, etc, etc. In short, yes, it was a Dark Age, and it was a shitty time to be alive. The only reason it's become trendy to argue the reverse is the contemporary assumption that any value judgments made in the past must have been made due to prejudice and bigotry, and since we are so much more enlightened now, we know that that those judgments must, ipso facto, be wrong, and the reverse obviously true. That's the real presentism going on here, not the perfectly reasonable application of the label 'dark age' to a period of stark decline.

Anonymous 6:54 PM  

Rise over run is definitely a phrase used for slope in all math books.

BD 7:08 PM  

if there wasn't any Dark Age(s), then why was there a Renaissance? who says human/societal development continued to apace from Rome?

Costanza 7:15 PM  

Agree with Jberg about the mocking of the diacritical scolds. If only they’d include an año without a tilde... Lol murse tell me someone is actually offended by that. It’s just a joke people. Lighten up. Waiting for the inclusion of manzier.

krazykat 7:42 PM  

Because Spam is a brand name its origin is irrelevant and so, by definition, can't be a portmanteau.

Anonymous 8:19 PM  

Thanks! Now I get it!

Anonymous 8:39 PM  

PostleTHwaite

Jill 10:33 PM  

* ages
PROPER NOUN
Dark Ages
1. (proscribed) The period of European history encompassing (roughly) 476–1000 CE.
2. Greek Dark Ages (c. 1100 BC - 750 BCE)
3. Dark ages of Cambodia (c. 1450 - 1863)
4. Dark ages of Laos (c. 1707 - 1893)
5. Dark Ages in cosmology
6. (figuratively) Any relatively primitive period of time.

English Wikipedia has an article on:

Dark Ages
The usage of Dark Ages to refer to the period from roughly 476-1000 is now mostly proscribed by historians as a misnomer, as the term was created during the Enlightenment referring to lack of historical records at the time, and technological/scholarly progress did not drop as is commonly thought by laymen. A more correct term in contemporary usage is the Early Middle Ages.

Granted, the Dark Ages is now considered to be a "misnomer" by historians, but they continue to be recognized.as common designation for this period.

I'm disappointed that you would take such a position, Rex. Big fan but surprised that you press this conceit in your blog.

Joe in Newfoundland 6:25 AM  

funny, I always thought crossword puzzles were about words. Now it seems words can be bad, and "billboarded", and perhaps should be 1984ed out of our intellectual memory. The cluing is one thing, but words themselves are historical artefacts. I agree with Suzie Q that it's "for heaven's sake", not "for heaven sakes". In fact that seems to me to be a serious lapse on the part of the editor.

Glad to see the opening comments about the Dark Ages (although it is Dark Ages, not Dark Age).

lizz 8:52 AM  

Sorry, no. It's not "really" what the early medieval period is called. It WAS called that, in another dark age in which people falsely believed that nothing of interest, use, or value happened in Europe before the "magical" rediscovery of Classical texts. But those people were wrong, and the designation has long since changed. Hence Rex's correct dismissal of the term as "bullshit."

Anonymous 9:02 AM  

Doesn't SASE stand for Self Address Stamped Envelope? If so, then shouldn't 7D be "env" and not "enc?"

Z 10:53 AM  

@anon9:02 - Either can fit the clue, although ENClosure is slightly preferred exactly because SASE includes the implied word “envelope. If you send a manuscript the SASE will be one of your ENClosures.

PatKS 10:56 AM  

I agree with you Rex. I didn't like this puzzle one bit and it's making me want to spume. It's a lot of gloop. Can't believe it took 2 men to do such a lame ass puzzle.

zdrass 12:38 PM  

Rex often finds difficult the things he doesn't happen to know, as do we all. But Rex: time to sharpen up, a few years ago, you also complained about Imre Nagy, a name from my very long-ago youth (I'm 78!), also Imre is a very common Hungarian first name.

Elizabeth T 4:39 PM  

I agree. The sexism (especially) and lack of rhyming of 22a bugged me for the entire solve. Surprised Will Short either missed this or allowed it. Blue paper was lame too. Feels like a forced fill. And whether dark age or dark ages is an allowed term anymore, “ages“ is plural but “era” is singular. Another missed edit. This puzzle was a disappointment.

satellite73 8:17 PM  

Nagy is a crossword gimme, like Roman road, or Silent film star Negri. But this "portmanfaux" silliness is why I rarely do the Sunday puzzle.

Anonymous 8:22 PM  

It’s either / both. I heard “ribbie” before “ribeye” for sure, but “ribeye” is at least a decade old. I have, in fact, frequently heard my favorite MLB team’s announcer refer to men on base as “steaks on the table.”

ETC 8:53 PM  

I never heard of the llama thing either, but true story: at the exact moment I was puzzling over this clue (still sounds highly improbable), my co-worker in the break room was saying that her niece wants to get married on a llama farm in NJ because she loves llamas! Needless to say, this clinched that one for me.

ETC 8:54 PM  

Ok thx.

Anonymous 6:34 PM  

Can someone explain to me why MURDER CASE MURSE is sexist? Like the other theme clues, it takes a portmanteau from modern slang and imagines one or both root words are different. It does not suggest detectives are men, it suggests they solve murders

unclejohn 10:45 AM  

Re,, llamas, here in Texas they are quite commonly used to protect livestock from coyotes, as I understand it ( being a transplanted Yankee)
I was confused by "ribeye" also until I checked and after some delving I found the affirmation. While I'm at it, I had env in lieu of enc, should've questioned myself on that one.

Unknown 10:49 PM  

Now wednesday. I stared at this finished grid for 3 days trying to figure out what the hell a "skire sort skort was." I was sure Rex or one of you would explain it. When i saw zero comments, it finally dawned on me. Duh.

spacecraft 11:21 AM  

I did this, and it wasn't particularly challenging, but there was little joy. Just some terms that are repeated with a few extra letters added? What is the point? I mean, you have -DERCA-, -IRES-, -ADYB-, -EYP-, -ACEPROGR-, -URNING- and -ALTED-. So what? If these fillers had been words...oh wait, there's IRES. Well, one out of seven is--a MISS.

Hand up for BLUEPrint, I'd guess that spawned a ton of writeovers. No idea what NONDEAL is. Longer fill is good in spots; I agree that HAULASS is the star of the show. Shorter fill has at least as much crappola as might be expected in a big grid.

Julia Roberts as TESS, "the best part of my day" per Matt Damon, is DOD. A pretty good part of mine as well. These two constructors aren't new, and they've turned out better work. Bogey.

Burma Shave 1:46 PM  

NONREAL POEM

GEE, IWISH that one of the USES
of a GREYPOUPONGROUPON for lunch
is to MAKESURE MISS Marcia chooses
to HUMERUS at the BRADYBUNCHBRUNCH.

--- ERASMUS "RAS" KIDDERS

rondo 2:00 PM  

Didn't get the joke until seeing the discount on mustard, then things picked up. @spacey - The letter i means it is an imaginary number; NONREAL.

In the 1960s the MN Twins had a popular pitcher name of Jim "MUDCAT" Grant.

No lies. Laura DERN for yeah baby.

Coulda used more humor, otherwise it's just BLOOP GLOOP.

Diana, LIW 3:35 PM  

Got the joke pretty early on - missed a few PPP answers, but otherwise, had lots of fauz fun.

Diana, LIW

AnonymousPVX 4:01 PM  

Wow....this puzzle is the perfect example of the theme puzzle where the tail wags the dog.

MURSE is DEFINED as a man-purse....hard to disagree about the implication here.

So I got the solve and really disliked every moment of it.

Also....after a lifetime of company benefits and now Medicare plans....I’ve never heard of IN AREA, always IN NETWORK. Always.

Finally, RIBEYES are not pronounced the same as RIBBIES. Geez.

rainforest 4:35 PM  

Three write-overs: BLUEPrint, SKIRt, and HYPEd, all eventually fixed, but each caused a slowdown and loss of those precious nsecs. I finally figured out the theme when I parsed out SKI RESORT...

Here in Canada we have a TV channel which will show a BURNING LOG all day at Christmas. Quite festive, especially if you don't have a fireplace.

Anyway, some of the themers might have been a little ham-fisted, but nothing to get all riled about. Wacky is wacky.

What's all this discussion about DARK AGES? That's what they're called even if that terminology is incorrect, which I doubt.

Summary: I liked the puzzle. Now, the 2018 Grey Cup. Go Redblacks. Har.

spacecraft 6:47 PM  

Ouch! A DNF after all; never caught it. HYPEd left NONdEAL. No wonder I never heard of that. Duh! Talk about your MISS! No matter: my E!A!G!L!E!S! beat the NYG today, so it's a good day. :)

Unknown 6:59 PM  

For those of us old enough to remember 1956—the Hungarian Revolution thwarted by Soviet tanks—Imre Nagy is not only a no-brainer, he's a hero.

foreverlennon 10:40 AM  

I hated this stupid puzzle ! Totally unenjoyable . How do some minds think??!

Unknown 4:14 PM  

While Mudcat Grant may have pitched for Cleveland (no more Indians, pls), his best years were with the Minnesota Twins, my favourite team back in the day….he was wonderful in the 1965 World Series when the Twins took the Sandy Koufax Dodgers to the 7th game….as i result of knowing that his nickname came from his native Louisiana, Mudcat was one of the first clues I got in this difficult puzzle, not really knowing what a portmanteau was…another of my early gets was, of all words, Imre…..which Rex complained about it…..and i am the slowest Sunday crossword solver north of the border, where we struggle with all the Americanisms…..

Jaime 12:37 PM  

Wait. People are bothered by “murse” but not “heels” for 9-across “Elevators in an office building?”!?! Are women still assumed to be the ones working office jobs? Ugh. I’m no feminist, but this one bothered me.

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