Nickname for former NBA star Darryl Dawkins / MON 2-11-19 / Amy Adams Emma Stone hairwise / French female friend / Road route for Marco Polo

Monday, February 11, 2019

Constructor: Howard Barkin

Relative difficulty: Easy (2:43, one second off my record, and on an *oversized* grid ... so that makes this a record by a looooongshot for a 16x15er)

THEME: NEAPOLITAN (56A: Kind of ice cream suggested by the starts of 21-, 27 and 47-Across) — themers start with VANILLA CHOCOLATE and STRAWBERRY:

Theme answers:
  • "VANILLA SKY" (21A: 2001 Tom Cruise thriller)
  • CHOCOLATE THUNDER (27A: Nickname for former N.B.A. star Darryl Dawkins)
  • STRAWBERRY BLONDE (47A: Amy Adams or Emma Stone, hairwise)
Word of the Day: Darryl Dawkins (see 27-Across) —
Darryl Dawkins (January 11, 1957 – August 27, 2015) was an American professional basketball player, most noted for his days with the National Basketball Association's Philadelphia 76ers and New Jersey Nets, although he also played briefly for the Detroit Pistons and Utah Jazz late in his career. His nickname, "Chocolate Thunder", was bestowed upon him by Stevie Wonder. He was known for his powerful dunks, which led to the NBA adopting breakaway rims due to his shattering the backboard on two occasions in 1979.
Dawkins averaged double figures in scoring nine times in his 14 years in the NBA, often ranking among the league leaders in field-goal percentage. He also played in the NBA Finalsthree times as a member of the Philadelphia 76ers in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Dawkins set an NBA record for fouls in a season (386 in 1983–84). (wikipedia)
• • •

Fast as heck, man. When I finished one second off my record, I was like "Ohhhh, so close." Then noticed that it was oversized! So it's not a record, but it's definitely a record for an oversized grid. Always feels good to start the week by crushing a Monday puzzle into the rightfield bleachers. The actual puzzle was kind of a blur, but it felt pretty smooth, and CHOCOLATE THUNDER is worth the price of admission all on its own. Imagine having a nickname bestowed upon you by Stevie Wonder! You can take the Hall of Fame, I'll take that Stevie nickname, thank you very much. I could carp about -IAL (a terribly unappealing suffix, which may be redundant, but even as suffixes go, ugh) and OWER (by far the worst of today's -ER cavalcade), it really doesn't seem worth it. Those are two tiny answers, miles apart, and the theme is so simple, so elegant, so neat, with such solid themers, that I'd rather focus on the craftsmanship. The more puzzles I do, the more impressed I am by anyone who can turn out a M-W (i.e. easying) themed puzzle that just Works. Early-week puzzles are tough to do well (I typically don't like them, because there are so many ways that they can go wrong). I think too many constructors put too much emphasis on tricksiness, and fall too much in love with their own cleverness. Aspirational constructors (usually men) tend to give the easy themed puzzle short shrift, or botch it when they have a go at it because they Try Too Hard (forced themers, too many themers, etc.). A clean and sparkly easy puzzle, with a theme that just Snaps into place, is much harder to make than, say, your average themeless puzzle. I tend to like the latter more because they're harder to screw up. But I admire the well-made easy themed puzzle more than I admire all but the best themelesses. Building one is a underappreciated skill.

Five things:
  • 1A: Closes (SHUTS) — first instinct: NEARS ... not an auspicious beginning. Glad I turned things around.
  • 43A: Ready to assemble, as a home (PREFAB) — why do I love this word? It makes no sense. It just looks good and feels good to say, I think. Sometimes our responses to things aren't entirely logical.
  • 46D: Nickname (MONIKER) — as I was writing this in (off the "M"), I thought "uh ... 'K' ... does this really have a 'K'? ... man, that looks wrong." So I immediately checked the "K" cross and the AKITA went "woof," which I took to mean, "you're good to go."
  • 48D: Pacific weather phenomenon (EL NINO) — I'll let Nate handle this one:
  • 23D: Maneuver upon missing a GPS instruction (U-TURN) — I'd filled in U-UR- before ever looking at the clue and started typing UHURA before ever looking at the clue. Note to self and all: look at the clue first, type (or write) second.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


puzzlehoarder 12:33 AM  

I hit my 10 minute average for a Monday right on the nose. That's about the time it takes me to read the clues and write in the answers. I can do it faster but this had some parts I had to get on crosses.

The VANILLA part of 21A was easy but SKY had to wait for me to drop in the downs. That's three extra spaces I had to fill in. If I remember correctly it was a very forgettable sci-fi movie.

The basketball player and his nickname were complete unknowns. I checked xwordinfo (after solving of course) to see if he's ever had any prior mention in the puzzles. It turns out this is his debut. There's a poet named Dawkins and when you punch in DARRYL you get the famous STRAWBERRY the third flavor of today's puzzle.

TomAz 12:41 AM  

I have from time to time posted in here about how Rex finds fault in a puzzle I enjoyed, because he critiques from a constructor's, rather than a solver's, perspective. Today I find its angelic twin: Rex finds beauty in a puzzle which I found ho-hum. He may well be right, I can't really tell.

But what does one, as an experienced solver, say about a Monday? It is. This puzzle was fine, indistinguishable from countless other Monday puzzles. They go by in a blur, and that's fine.

But back when: The very first NYT xword I solved was a Monday. I was just starting to enjoy xwords and I thought I'll give the NYT a try. And I nailed it! And I was so proud! I had no idea, then, that puzzles were easier early in the week and got more challenging as the week went along. Who cares? I got it! It wasn't so tough!

Now, I look at a puzzle like this and can't help but hope someone else had that same experience today.

Robin 1:57 AM  

@TomAz, Beautiful comment. I didn't find this particular puzzle quite so ho-hum as you did, despite the fact that dis-like most themers. But I have to appreciate the satisfaction of solving a NYTXW for the first time whatever the circumstances. (But oh boy, once I was able to Fridays and Saturdays!)

Larry Gilstrap 2:09 AM  

I agree. I was on to this theme half way through the CHOCOLATE stripe and was hoping for NEOPOLITAN as the revealer. Maybe it's just me, but puzzles with very few three letter answers are more apt to sparkle. Case in point.

Went after cluing HAD AT still escapes me. I threw in RAN AT, but I've seen enough prison movies to know how to make a SHIV from a dining utensil. Hard to think of something more unpleasant than being incarcerated.

Thank goodness, TILDE does not include a tilde. GREY or gray; I'm resigned to never learning the difference. I prefer green tea.

Great advice smack in the middle: CALM DOWN. Chill out! seems a bit too imperative. Remember to become conscious of your breathing at random times throughout the day. It's all small stuff, so conserve on the sweating.

I've heard the word TAPIOCA all my life, but I'm not certain I have ever eaten it. My mom was big on pudding in pies, but she never referenced that word. Cultural cuisine?

Bob DYLAN was a big part of the sound track of my life, and, oddly, he has albums full of songs I've never heard. Dude is prolific. Many of his songs evoke strong memories of people and events in my past. On the other hand, he recorded some terrific songs with goofy lyrics. Gotta Serve Somebody is Exhibit A. Love the way he swaggers on that track.

Fun solve!

jae 3:16 AM  

Medium. Smooth with some fine theme answers, liked it.

@ Larry G. - My daughter is on her way back from Quito and had a great experience. Good food, very friendly people, and lots to see. She went to Buenos Aires about a year ago and Quito was more fun and interesting.

Loren Muse Smith 3:38 AM  

Rex – a most enjoyable write-up. You do Nice very well.

This brought back anxious memories from growing up. If Mom brought out NEAPOLITAN ice cream, I was in an immediate panic that I wouldn’t get a lot of the chocolate part. I can’t remember why she would buy it and not just chocolate – maybe it was on sale – but worry wart little pig that I was, I felt almost sick with dread. It’s been an exhausting life living so worried all the time.

I have agree that going with OWER is surprising. But maybe you’d pretty much have to give up BYOB to fix that corner, and I like BYOB. Rex - I also loved, loved, loved your “ER cavalcade” phrase. I’m adding cavalcade to my daily walking-around language forthwith. I stand in the hall between classes and watch the cavalcade of kids walk past me as though I’m a potted plant.

A fan of hospital food, I enjoyed TAPIOCA crossing VANILLA. Pudding. I think I’m a fan of any food I didn’t have to make. I have a nasty cold? Husband brings me a pbj? Heaven.

After the solve, I sat there wondering about the demonym NEAPOLITAN. Shouldn’t it be Napolite? Napolean? Who gets to decide this stuff? I especially feel bad for the Liverpool guys with their Liverpudlian assignment. If you’re in a regular carpool, are you a carpudlian? Hey. I’m on to something here. The little guys in the summer are kiddie-pudlians. Back in the day, offices had stenopudlians. Ok, maybe stenopudliennes. This was before women’s lib.

Speaking of nicknamnyms, MONIKER sounds like how Archie Bunker would pronounce Monica.

I keep checking to see if we have a delay this morning ‘cause it’s been raining and snowing. A school delay is like putting on some jeans and finding a twenty in a pocket. I get to put on the news and watch the cavalcade of cesspudlians. Bloody blerts.

chefwen 3:40 AM  

Never did care for NEAPOLITAN ice cream, always tasted slightly medicinal to me, just give me the CHOCOLATE, y’all can have the rest.

I was happy to get the puzzle, had to do it in between power outages. Wind gusts here up to 60 mph kept knocking out the electricity, it took me six hours to watch a two hour movie. Crazy weather.

Anyhoo, it was a lovely and ice creamy Monday puzzle.

Anonymous 4:20 AM  

I like that the TILDE is technically ‘over’ the appropriate N in ELNINO.

Brookboy 5:50 AM  

Nice smooth Monday puzzle, very enjoyable. I came in a little more than five minutes faster than my average, so says The NY Times. Felt even faster than that.

@LMS: I’m with you on who gets to make up the rules. I live in Brooklyn, so I’m a Brooklyn-ite. But I also live in NewYork City, and here I’m a New York-er. I think I’ll go with Brooklyn because I like saying it. (I wonder if that’s why some people name their kid Brooklyn. Maybe that’s also why no one names their kid Da Bronx. Not that there’s anything wrong with The Bronx. My wife and I lived there for some years before moving to Brooklyn. But being named Bronx, or The Bronx or Da Bronx would give a kid some unneeded hurdles in life. Digression over.)

Rex, I second the comment that you do nice very well. Oughta try it a little more often.

Lewis 5:53 AM  

Three crosses stood out to me on this solid Monday -- CALM DOWN /THAW, BIG BANG / THUNDER, and OMIT / NOT AT ALL -- and AKITA fits right in a Barkin' puzzle.

Brett 6:33 AM  

I also sped through this one, which does feel nice. Too bad that it wasn’t STRAWBERRYFIELDS because then there would be SKY and THUNDER over the earthy FIELDS, all in addition to the lovely Neapolitan theme.

Mikey from El Prado 6:38 AM  

I must really like ice cream! PB by 10 seconds. Wow, and didn’t realize it was an oversized grid. But, you know... when you realize you’re gonna be close to a PB, you go for it, “racing” through the clues instead of a normal steady pace. Sometimes speeding causes errors. Today I was lucky. Best to the rest!

Hungry Mother 6:41 AM  

Would have been faster if I hadn’t put in NEoPOLITAN at first.

Lee 6:59 AM  

For 21A, I had VANI from the downs and wrote in VANItyfair without even thinking. Now I'm imagining the plot of a Tom Cruise thriller titled "Vanity Fair."

(It's been a while since I've seen it, but is Vanilla Sky a "thriller"?)

Michiganman 7:11 AM  

More ice cream

John H 7:12 AM  


CDilly52 7:19 AM  

@Tomaz: I enjoyed your sentiment enormously. Thinking in that vein along with my speedy solve of this puzzle made me think how very much my neophyte 8 year old self would have enjoyed it. This would have been one that (solving as I did then alongside my grandmother’s “resting chair”), she would have waited to see if I could get the theme. And I can almost feel my own excitement at actually doing so.

@LMS, My two siblings and I squabbled endlessly over the NEAPOLITAN forcing my mom to slice it through the cheap cardboard-ish carton and then have to put waxed paper and a rubber band around the naked drippy end of the thing only to complain about the mess it would make in the freezer, to which I would ALWAYS reply, “then just buy chocolate!” ‘Nuff said.

Clean Monday puzzle. Nice job Rex. An auspicious start to the week.

Unknown 7:20 AM  

Speaking of first times: My very first English crossword puzzle was the NYT Sunday puzzle in the International Herald Tribune! It took me a week (no Google to look stuff up), and I was only told afterwards what I had accomplished!

Sluggo 7:20 AM  

I’m always puzzled by Rex’s and others dismay when there’s a Spanish word in the puzzle that’s missing a tilde. Can’t we just accept that there are limitations to these puzzles and if a tilde was put in the puzzle, that would require a crossing tilde and I’d imagine it would make constructing near impossible. Then we’d have to leave out all Spanish words and OFL would hit us with #nytxwsowhite. Can’t we just accept that PINATA is PIÑATA and ELNINO is ELNIÑO?

And as I type this, I’m beginning to wonder what makes the tilde so special. I speak some Portuguese and Spanish and am learning German. In Portuguese, we could substitute either a ‘z’ or ‘c’ for words that have a cedilha when it’s impractical to type one.
Azores/Acores = Açores
cachaça = cachaca

For French words, we drop it altogether and nobody cares.

We wouldn’t think twice about separating the ligature œ to oe. If I saw SACRECOEUR I don’t think people would flip out because it’s not SACRÉCŒUR. Would they?

Why does the tilde hold some special power that people get upset when it’s dropped from a word?

That brings me to my last question. Why isn’t there a way to represent ‘special’ characters that appear other languages when you can’t do so with what you have available to you? In German, when you can’t pratically use an umlaut vowel, it is standard practice to add a ‘e’ after the vowel that should have had the umlaut.
Köln becomes Koeln and die Prüfung becomes die Pruefung.

Portuguese doesn’t have the tilde, so in similar Spanish words, the Portuguese word uses the ‘nh’ digraph for that sound. Therefore ‘viño’ is ‘vinho’ and ‘Español’ is ‘espanhol.’

We’ve even done the same in English replacing many of the borrowed Spanish words with tildes with the ‘ny’ spelling. Cañón became canyon. Can’t we just make it pinyata and El Ninyo and keep Rex from complaining. Every. Single. Time. that there’s a Spanish word in the crossword?

ghthree 7:25 AM  

@Larry Gilstrap
Spelling mnemonic: grEy = English. grAy = American. Works for me.

Suzie Q 7:34 AM  

This was a decent Monday with some entertainment value. Too bad that the three flavors were all clued with a proper name.
I have no idea who the blondes are.
@ puzzlehoarder, I got a chuckle from how you worded "If I remember correctly it was a very forgettable sci-fi movie". Good one.
@ Brett 6:33, Nice catch and even better suggestion.

Now back to bed. After 24 hrs. of frozen pipes I was awakened to the lovely sound of water running in the sink.

ncmathsadist 7:51 AM  

Blessedly free of unpleasant crosswordese and obscure actresses with stupidly spelled names. Nice theme. Overall the best puzzle I have solved in months.

amyyanni 7:54 AM  

@ghthree, thanks so much! I have struggled with grey/gray and now you gave me the solution. Puzzle was great fun. What about we coffee ice cream aficionados?

Unknown 7:56 AM  

I agree with Rex on this nice Monday puzzle. I, however, was seduced by my own trickery and desire for complication. I had ASEVER for 9D and LIL for 22D and threw down VANILLASKY backwards for 21A. I was so proud of myself it stayed there for a good minute before it was 'Totally and Unforgivably Wrong'. Hubris overcame and I took it

SJ Austin 8:20 AM  

I got my NYTXW stats reset this week, so I decided to start doing Mondays downs-only. What a fun one to start with! Got it done in under 8 minutes thanks to the clean theme, although I have to admit I was greatly helped by accidentally seeing the clue for AKITA.

Wm. C. 8:43 AM  

A pro at my golf club is a huge fan of Bob Dylan, so legally changed his last name to "Nalyd." Or so I heard, never having actually asked him about his unusual name.

I don't understand why @Rexy and others on this blog make so big an issue of how important it is to race through the puzzles, trying to set a record for the day. Myself, I go at a moderate speed, enjoying the experience as I go.

@HungryMother, did you enjoy being featured in the theme? ;-)

RooMonster 8:53 AM  

Hey All !
CALM DOWN! It's just Rex with a nice review. See? He likes a puz every now and then.

Nice simple theme. Did notice the 16 wide grid today. Only had one writeover, literally one square, started to write cOlA in, but stopped at the C because I said "Wait, it might be SODA", and it was. Otherwise, clean complete puz with no errors. You could say I SLAYed it.

Never a fan of NEAPOLITAN ice cream. Who came up with that? Keep the damn flavors separate. It was probably somebody who didn't want to buy three separate ice creams, and thought "Let's just combine them into one!" That's almost as bad as RUM RAISIN. Har.

@pablo (again)
Do Spanish speakers pronounce MIAMI as Me-Ah-Me? No TILDE, obviously.

ARGYLE - when I was in High School, a couple of friends and I were in an ARGYLE sock phase. Combined with Converse Chuck Taylors. I had some serious ARGYLE patterns! Still wear Chucks, have about 35 pair now, even though the "experts" say men over 40 shouldn't wear them. Pish!

SO SAD if you forget to BYOB

Sergio 9:00 AM  

A complimentary review of a puzzle by a white guy ? I can all but guarantee that Howard Barkin and Michael Sharp are friends.

Sir Hillary 9:00 AM  

CHOCOLATETHUNDER, MONIKER, TIMER, ENDER, OILER, OWER. All apt, because this puzzle was a snoozer. As was VANILLASKY (definitely not a thriller).

Over and out.

GILL I. 9:02 AM  

Yes. Elegant for a Monday. Nice cluing. Howard has a bit of a love affair with the L words: LIL LEE LIN LAN LA LA LA.
When I do quickie Mondays, I like to find a word or two that interests me so that I can learn something. For instance: ST ELMO. I've known him since the birth of EEL but know squat about him. So I looked him up wanting to know about his fire and all that. That poor guy was tortured up the wazoo. Emperor Maximiam didn't like him preaching Christianity so he made up all kinds of ways to kill off ST. ELMO. None of them worked because an Angel always came to the rescue. One of the tortures was putting him in a barrel full of protruding spikes and rolling him down a hill. He survived to preach another day. By the way, not only does he save the souls of sailors but if you have abdomen problems, he takes care of those as well.
Has anybody ever wondered why IOWA is the chosen state for the caucuses? It's practically an all-white State and certainly doesn't represent our entire country. I think it was Jimmy Carter who made it the first crucial test on the path to the presidential nomination. I, personally, think it should go to Illinois.
When I first heard the term STRAWBERRY BLONDE, I said why? Strawberries are very red and blondes are yellow.
Thought the reveal was clever and cute. I've had NEAPOLITAN ice cream a couple of times. Why is it that Mothers think it's fun to buy an ice cream with three different flavors for 3 children - especially when all three want the CHOCOLATE.
BYOB and its memories. It was my favorite word when I was young, poor and a radical Uni student in Madrid. I had to explain what that meant to my Spanish amigos. They always brought a bota and my Yankee amigos always brought Vodka.
I hope the rest of the week is as nice as this one and that @Rex continues his "Nice."

pabloinnh 9:13 AM  

I'm with the crowd that liked the puzzle more than I like NEAPOLITAN ice cream. Who thought this was a good idea? Anyone who says they don't have a favorite flavor from among these three is pulling your leg, or as the Spanish would say, taking your hair.

Great to see CHOCOLATETHUNDER himself, destroyer of backboards. I think there was some redesign done specifically due to DD, as backboards rarely do this anymore.

Just right for a Monday. Thanks HB. You miss having my uncle's name by two letters.

Colby 9:16 AM  

Ten seconds off of a Monday record for me (3:43). Still can't get it into my head that NASAL is an adverb without the "ly"

Z 9:18 AM  

Rex’s discussion of the craftsmanship behind doing an “easy” Monday remind me of Harvey Meyer, my HS choir teacher, explaining that grandiose impressed the audience, but singing quietly well is actually technically more challenging. Interesting that there are at least two “queens of Monday” but no “king of Monday,” or even “Earl of Monday.” I wonder why that is.*

@LMS - “potted plant” made me chuckle. Back in my Assistant Principal days I spent dismissal time outside being a presence (amazing how much trouble is averted just by being present) and chatting with the students. More than once I would find out about future problems and call in a student the next morning who would be amazed that I knew about some issue. They would wonder how I knew and I would have to resist the urge to say, “because you told me.” Potted plant, indeed.

@Larry Gilstrap, @ghthree, and @Amy Yanni - However you spell it, it is just A Whiter Shade of Pale.

A good NEAPOLITAN is sublime. All you “just buy chocolate” people are getting significant side-eye.

*No I don’t, sometimes it’s hard not to poke the brobear.

Crimson Devil 9:29 AM  

Re potted plant reminds of defense lawyer Brendan Sullivan’s response to Senate panel questioner who had shushed him during Iran contra hearings: Well, Sir, I’m no potted plant !

Anonymous 9:49 AM  

It's clearly an adjective in 6A.

Nancy 9:49 AM  

I wish I could be as nice about this Monday snoozefest as @TomAz, but I can't. I always wonder when I solve a puzzle with such obvious, on-the-nose cluing: Was it as boring for the clue-maker to create as it was for me to solve? Look at this puzzle, everyone, and see if you can find even one mildly interesting clue. I can't. Not even one. MOAN.

Anonymous 9:51 AM  

@Michiganman 7:11. Nice link!

pabloinnh 10:05 AM  

Hey @Monstruo Ru--

Yeah, Miami is Mee-AH-mee. In Spanish the vowel sounds are always the same, which is sensible. Try explaining to someone why the first "i" in Miami is "eye" and the second one is "ee". No wonder we spend so much time in grade school studying spelling.

mmorowitz 10:12 AM  

Perhaps if she were at the helm instead of at communications, there would be something called "The Uhura Maneuver"

GHarris 10:24 AM  

@ brookboy re using the Bronx as a name; my understanding is that the name of the borough derives from colonial times when much of the land there was owned by a family named Bronke. When persons spoke of making a visit they spoke of going to see the Bronkes. That's why it's the only borough whose name is preceded by the article "the".
@TomAz you expressed my very thought about how today's write truly made clear why Rex's reviews are so often at odds with the reaction of those of us who are merely solvers.

DeeJay 10:32 AM  

A Dutch family name Bronk owned much of the land north of Manhattan in the 1600's. Over time, the area then known as the Bronk's land became Da Bronx.

Anonymous 10:33 AM  

@Sergio 9:00 a.m: From Rex Parker Wed. 12/28/28—“Well, this was the first time I've ever had a puzzle spoiled for me because the constructor sent me a letter of apology. I've known Howard for a long time...”

Lloyd Mangrum 10:34 AM  

Shallow minded bloggers (usually men) tend to make accusations of gender bias without evidence that it exists based on a full understanding of what percentage of puzzle submissions come from each gender.

Anonymous 10:40 AM  

@LMS, who made the only comment about NEAPOLITAN's name, not just the flavors: Naples/Napoli was originally called NEAPOLIs (Greek for "New City") which begot the Latin adjective NEAPOLITANus. Ice cream was introduced to America by Italian immigrants (Mille grazie) who were, and still are, IMHO, the ice cream experts of the world. The 3 colors were originally supposed to represent the tricolor Italian flag, but I guess Americans preferred chocolate (as so many comments suggest) to whatever the original flavor was (blueberry?)- MaryMcCarty (working on an old iPad where I can only contribute as Anonymous )

Lewis 10:44 AM  

My five favorite clues from last week:

1. Help for a star witness? (9)
2. Metric unit (4)
3. Field of flowers (6)
4. Small square (4)
5. Places for toasters and roasters (6)


jberg 10:46 AM  

I'll spend a few days in Naples this May, with my first assignment being to find out if a) Neapolitan ice cream is really from there, and b) why they call themselves that -- although, now I think of it, I think they say 'napolitano' --neapolitan must be English.

I didn't know the movie, the nickname, or what color hair those women have (and it's a little odd these days to think of hair color as fixed), but they all fell easily from the crosses.

@Loren, I burst out laughing when I saw your avatar, though just possibly it does not pass the breakfast test. But then, it's off there on the side where it's easy not to look at for those who so choose.

@Gill, you've triggered the retired political scientist here! The problem is that neither the federal government nor either national political party gets to decide which state is first -- the states pick their own dates (with some limits). NH actually has a law directing the Secretary of State to set the date of the primary ahead of any other primary; if some other state tries to get ahead they just leapfrog it. The national parties try to regulate it a bit, but knowing that NH will fight back hard if they try to make it go later.

Yikes, look at the time! Gotta run.

Howard B 10:53 AM  

- OWER stinks. It's scored low in my word lists.
Although I knew it was suboptimal, I couldn't pry it out without adding obscurity or more subpar fill elsewhere. So had to make a calculated choice here.
- Only other vanilla--- option was VANILLA ICE, which felt more stale to me. Plus, his sampling of "Under Pressure" just chafed me back in the day :).

FWIW, I did clue this one rather on the easy side (since it's not a tricky theme), but I believe the editor's clue changes made it even easier.

@Sergio - Some of my past puzzles have been sufficiently (and usually justifiably)... er... criticized by Rex as well. I honestly don't think he cares about the writer, just his subjective merits and/or flaws of each puzzle. Have a good Monday!

GILL I. 11:19 AM  

Hey @pablo....I'm so glad you found this blog because now I have someone to play with. How about:
He falls on me bad.
Good wave.
For if the flies.
Give me bread and tell me stupid.
Throw for less.
A lo echo, pecho....Try translating that one!

Banana Diaquari 11:22 AM  

Mikey likes it!!!

Warren Howie Hughes 12:10 PM  

"TILDE end of time, long as roses bloom in May, my love for you will grow deeper with every passing day"..."And here you were actually thinking Rex, I no longer cared..." :-)

Amelia 12:11 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
CDilly52 12:29 PM  

Nice analysis; thank you! I have had many similar thoughts and think that the reason we do not have the ability to insert diacritical marks is perhaps due to the added difficulty it would create for constructors who would have to find a cross that contains the same mark. While I think this would be technically possible, it would not be very easy to find two words that average non-whatever language speakers might know or be able to suss out. Which brings me to my final thought: I truly believe we in the USA need to work harder to become moderately fluent (and insist, whenever possible to include a language requirement in our schools) in a second language as do most of our international allies. I know that when Inwork in Europe, folks appreciate my less than stellar Spanish and German (not so much my abysmal-but -slowly-improving French) and ultimately we typically use English at work, but I try to insist that we “chat” in the language of the country where I am. It is truly a humbling experience when I am in France (and often doesn’t last long before we move on to “anything else Carol knows except French.” )

old timer 12:46 PM  

Yeah, my first thought was giving a black NBAER the MONIKER OF CHOCOLATE THUNDER would make OFL mad as hell. Yeah, those were different times. Tell that to the Marines, or to Virginia "Progressive"s.

10 minutes pen on paper, pretty much a record Monday for me.

Oh, @LMS! How do I love you? Let me count the ways. Today I especially loved the Liverdpudlian dictionary, or Scouse Larousse. I *think* Liverpudlian is a joke word from start to finish. Unlike Mancunian, which seems to be from the Roman name for the fort there. Though why Mancunians are not Mancastrians is beyond me.

Rainbow 12:55 PM  


You "just know it"? Any evidence?

Masked and Anonymous 12:58 PM  

Do-UBERS on the NE* can get rid of OWER. Gettin rid of IAL in the central W side** ain't so easy, due to CHOCOLATE and STRAWBERRY and PREFAB bein guests of honor. Neither one bothered m&e all that much in the first place, tho. Need a lil desperation, to assure us that the puz weren't made up by a computer.

fave moo-cow eazy-E MonPuz clue: {Squiggly mark in "piñata"} = TILDE.
staff weeject pick: IAL. Better clue: {Pol's answer to "OK, so who doesn't wanna face this Inconvenient Truth"??}.

Thanx for the ice cream treat, Mr. Barkin. Primo PREFAB+CALMDOWN+ARGYLE center steps.

Masked & Anonymo3Us




Amelia 1:20 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous 1:45 PM  

Very enjoyable Monday challenge. Thanks very much Mr. Barkin.

Warren Howie Hughes 1:59 PM  

"Let's Harkin to Barkin...OWER Congrats!"

Hungry Mother 2:00 PM  

@Wm. C.: yeah, you’d think my seeing the NEAPOLITAN section of the Naples Daily News daily would help me with my spelling.

Z 2:01 PM  

@Amelia - Rex mentioned on Twitter that he "just learned" about Wonder bestowing the nickname, so you seem on solid ground about him having looked it up. As to why Rex looked it up, that is what one does to avoid firmly inserting one's foot into one's mouth. I cannot count the number of times Uncle Google has saved me from embarrassment. You make it seem like a negative, whereas I wish more foot chewers would ask Uncle Google first.

@Howard B and @Sergio - Rex was less than fond of HB's 4/1/17 puzzle, for example. I find the entire "Rex raves/pans because ..." trope the laziest and most tiresome of comment.

Anoa Bob 2:09 PM  

Homer's favorite ice cream

Anonymous 2:12 PM  


Didn'y you know, Spanish is pecial. Turn on NPR and listen to how they insist on pronouncing Venezuela or Tijuana. It's absurd. No media outlet, not even NPR, tries to emulate German and say Veen when they speak of Vienna. They don't try to sound French and use Paree when they mean Paris, It's an affect. A fad. There's no reason not to use an English pronunciation of foreign word when English has such a pronunciation or word. It's risible. Serious people don't do it.
So too with diacritical marks and the like. They're unnecessary in a crossword. Have been for hundred years. That a certain segment like the punctiliousness of it all, says more about their shallow thinking than any linguistic expertise they (think they) possess.

Anonymous 4:10 PM  

Re 32D
Anyone besides myself not completely enamored by “The Times They Are a-Changin’”? Some of us who sang it with great gusto in the early 1960s, when George Wallace et al. were “standing in the doorways and blocking up the halls,” felt a little awkward about the song toward the end of the decade, when we ourselves were invading campus buildings and occupying deans’ offices. The song seems to preach conformity–this is the way things are and the way they are going to be, and you had better get out of the way not “criticize what you can’t understand.” It sometimes makes me think of the pro-fascist manifesto by Anne Morrow Lindbergh, late 1930s, “The Wave of the Future.” Certain things that I am told regularly that I must accept I will not accept, e.g. political correctness, the use of *they* as a pronoun for a singular antecedent (such childishness! –insisted on by OFL, the New York Times, and even the Oxford University Press), and the notion that capitalism is here to stay (even accepted by “socialists” today averse to Marxism). That we “can’t criticize” what we aren’t experts in, as a political notion, is less sophisticated, less progressive, than the political thought established in the early 15th century, when Cosimo de’ Medici, ca. 1430, affirmed that he was perfectly capable of criticizing the conduct of Florentine troops even if he himself had no military experience, just as he, not an artist, was able to appreciate the superiority of the paintings of Giotto.

Anon. i.e. Poggius
ps: thanks to anon. for explaining the origins of Neapolitan ice cream. I've been to Naples a number of times an had never really thought about it--I'm sure I've never seen that ice cream there.

Anonymous 4:37 PM  


You so nailed it! 99 to 1 odds.

Joe Dipinto 4:54 PM  

Rex, did you watch the Grammys? Women won. We never called it Neapolitan ice cream in my house. It was Van Chockstraw (usually Breyers). Back then I disliked the strawberry; now strawberry is one of my fave flaves. Did you hear me? I said there were female Grammy winners. I liked this puzzle. Back when I was attending the NYT tournaments, Howard Barkin was consistently a top finisher. I find his puzzles very smooth. They won more than men, I understand. I.A.L. Diamond was Billy Wilder's screenwriting partner. Etta, Renee, Leia, and Nana are women. St. Elmo and Earl Grey aren't. Neither is Andy E.T., whoever that is.


Sergio 6:39 PM  

Z: Read review of 4/01/17. If that’s the best you can up with then you’ve proven my point. The main complaint was that it ran on Saturday instead of Thursday. That decision is made by the editor not the constructor. If that puzzle had been written by, say, Bruce Haight or David Kahn, he would’ve excoriated it, Instead, his friend wrote it so a mild rebuke. Hey, I’m all for sticking up for one’s friends, but if you’re suggesting that his reviews aren’t influenced by the gender, race , age, or whether he is friends with the constructor, than you are either dishonest or totally delusional.

john towle 7:09 PM  

In Wisconsin you get served honest-sta-Oshkosh-b’-Gosh ice cream with real cream in it, don’ cha know. Nobody ever complains there, about ice cream at least. Just mighty dang thankful to have it.



Anonymous 7:28 PM  

Bravo. Bravo. Amwn. Amen. Amen.

Marc 7:36 PM  

CHOCOLATE THUNDER was great, and a gimme. Darryl Dawkins had a great career, and was one of the first to forego college and directly enter the NBA from high school, which the NBA had not allowed previously until the ABA started doing it. His backboard shattering dunks were legendary, as were the names he gave to specific glorious dunks: The Turbo Sexophonic Delight, The In Your Face Disgrace, and the best... The Chocolate-Thunder-Flying, Glass-Flying, Robinzine-Crying, Babies-Crying, Glass-Still-Flying, Cats-Crying, Rump-Roasting, Bun-Toasting, Thank You-Wham-Bam-I-Am-Jam. Mark Robinzine played for the KC Kings and was the victim of said dunk.
Also, he was from the planet Lovetron.

albatross shell 7:59 PM  

@Z 410
I think you should remember Dylan was writing about the early 60s civil rights movement. The senators standing in the way were those filibustering civil rights laws and fighting jim crow. The rattling of walls was prophesy for those not lending a hand. Nowhere is there any general proposal for acting this way about any or every issue. Could it be adapted by fascists? Yes. Was blocking hallways to show resistance to the Vietnam war fascistic? I was for it sometimes, sometimes not. Did I feel I was a hypocrite? No. Did I feel like the song was hypocritical? Not at all.

Banana Diaquiri 8:53 PM  

RE: Dylan

just remember, his tenure as a 'protest singer' was very short. he became a navel gazing babbler soon enough. Ochs was the protest singer. hanged himself when he found no one was listening.

Z 9:20 PM  

@albatross - ? I didn’t write a comment at 4:10 and I didn’t write anything about Dylan today. No idea what you’re writing about.

@Sergio - Huh. Your logic is impeachable.

Anonymous 9:30 PM  

impeachable adjective
making one subject to impeachment, as misconduct in office.
liable to be impeached.
I don’t think that word means what you think it means.

Anonymous 9:52 PM  

Z:Remember. Uncle Google can keep you from exposing your elementary school vocabulary. You must stay disciplined. Thus endeth the lesson.

Anonymous 9:59 PM  

To Albatross shell. Your point is well taken--I don't dislike the early Dylan in general, and most early protest songs I think are good. My only point was that this one rubbed me the wrong way, and I wondered if any others felt likewise. The semi-protest "Little Boxes" I also didn't like--I still think of it as mean-spirited and smug.

Sorry about the confusion about who was writing (see Z's comment at 9:20). Actually it was @Z who kindly told me how to rediscover my lost user name and password, and I never got around to doing it. I try to mitigate confusion over anonymity by adding the Poggius to anything I contribute.

Albatross: I appreciate the remarks.

Anon. i.e. Poggius

KFC 2:49 AM  

@BD - That’s Nobel prize winning “navel gazing babbler” you....

Z 10:13 AM  

LOL - <a href="”>I said exactly what I meant</i> and that it flew right over your head is something I find more than a little amusing.

DBlock 3:36 PM  

Lovely thought
My sister has remained an early week solver and I often look through Mondays and Tuesdays as they are to her and know that she often struggles as we glide through.
But we all have things that are easy for us and those that challenge us.

kitshef 2:54 PM  

Can't see Neopolitan ice cream without thinking of this

Burma Shave 9:55 AM  


tho I’m NOTATALL REAL fond
to AVOW her LI’L MANE shows us


spacecraft 11:09 AM  

I agree: solving this one was NOTATALL order. The entire theme was almost an instant gimme. For once I noticed the extra row, but it didn't matter much.

Some lovely fill, too: TAPIOCA, OLYMPICS, CALMDOWN, MONIKER. Still ANDYET (?? Who talks like this?), some shorter fill could elicit a MOAN. The LIN LAN fraternal twins, and an old nose-wrinkler from the RANAT/RUNAT/HADAT family. Again, who talks like that? And for sure no one says "OWER." At least UTURN, letter-added slut that it is, is better than UEY or UIE. We never complain when hyphens are omitted from an answer, but the TILDE calls out the army. Go figure. But here, at last, good ol' TILDE gets some respect. Until we get to...yeah. What the tweet said.

DOD candidates abound; either STRAWBERRYBLONDE mentioned in the clue, either ABBA girl, and the ever-popular ETTA. But winning today is RENEE Russo in this judge's humble opinion.

If we had to have LALALA, I wish the clue had been "I can't HEAR you!" See, now THAT's what people say.

Because I like ice cream, although no-sugar-added caramel beats NEAPOLITAN all to hell, I give this a birdie.

rondo 12:05 PM  

I had one write-over because it was the first modern OLYMPIad that was held, not the first modern OLYMPICS, which *were* held. The clue says ‘The first modern *one* was held’ . . . , shouldn’t we keep our plurals straight? Or is that too much to ask from educated people. And next time we see the Swedish money ÖRE we should all complain TILDE cow come home like some do for the TILDE? Knock it off already.[MOAN]

Is LEDON a French godfather?

@spacey your MONIKER is not showing.

Another missed opportunity for ex-Packer HAHA Clinton-Dix.

I’ll stick with yeah baby RENEE Fleming as clued, though it’s hard not to recognize Princess LEIA and her steel bikini.

NOTATALL bad, save for the OLYMPICS clue.

leftcoastTAM 12:46 PM  

I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream! Especially NEAPOLITAN.

Amy, Emma, and RENEE. ETTA, LEIA, and LIN. DODs for the rest of the week.

Diana, LIW 12:49 PM  

Once more, we have a Monday meant to edify the beginner and amuse the old guard. As a keeper of the Monday realm, I approve.

NEOPOLITAN is one flavor (flavour to some of you) I rarely buy, tho my freezer is always stocked with its companions. We all scream for eyes cream.

Not a fan of thunder, but love me some CHOCOLATE.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

PS - was that @Spacey? Is another name uncovered - like you-know-who.

leftcoastTAM 1:37 PM  

Is @spacey a Linda?

BS2 5:34 PM  

BTW - tomorrow marks 1500 consecutive days of verse.

leftcoastTAM 5:54 PM  

A lingering thought: It makes me feel good that Rex liked this easy Monday puzzle as much as he did.

spacecraft 7:24 PM  

Linda is my much better half. How my MONIKER failed to appear is a mystery to me. Thanks for your concern.

Sky Bolls 5:17 AM  

Wonderful Post. Samesky's Sky Bolls, and Sky Pops Strawberry Chocolates gives a pleasing taste in each Bite

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