Pakistani restaurant owner on Seinfeld / THU 2-14-19 / Opera that famously ends with line La commedia e finita / Can you classic cologne catchprase / Pepper used in mole sauce

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Constructor: John E. Bennett and Jeff Chen

Relative difficulty: Easy (4:03 ... really thought I was gonna get my recent personal best, but I I forgot, it's early in the morning, when even my fastest solving is pretty putt-putt)

THEME: OUT OF ORDER SIGNS (36A: Some bathroom postings ... or what the clues to 16-, 21-, 46- and 59-Across are?) — themers are just common street-sign phrases, and clues are those same phrases, just OUT OF ORDER (i.e. anagrammed IN ALL CAPS):

Theme answers:
Word of the Day: "I PAGLIACCI" (13A: Opera that famously ends witih the line "La commedia è finita!") —
Pagliacci (Italian pronunciation: [paʎˈʎattʃi]; literal translation, "Clowns") is an Italian opera in a prologue and two acts, with music and libretto by Ruggero Leoncavallo. It is the only Leoncavallo opera that is still widely performed. Opera companies have frequently staged Pagliacci with Cavalleria rusticana by Mascagni, a double bill known colloquially as 'Cav and Pag'. // Pagliacci premiered at the Teatro Dal Verme in Milan on 21 May 1892, conducted by Arturo Toscanini, with Adelina Stehle as Nedda, Fiorello Giraud as Canio, Victor Maurel as Tonio, and Mario Ancona as Silvio. Nellie Melba played Nedda in London in 1893, soon after the Italian premiere, and it was given in New York on 15 June 1893, with Agostino Montegriffo as Canio. (wikipedia)
A dramatic tale of love and betrayal, Pagliacci revolves around a commedia del arte troupe. Canio and Nedda are married, and the leads in the troupe along with Tonio and Beppe, however Nedda is secretly having an affair with Silvio. Fearing Canio’s anger, Nedda continues to hide the affair, and even goes as far to attempt to break it off with Silvio. Silvio and Nedda’s love is strong, however, and they plan to run away together. Tonio, also in love with Nedda, confesses his love for her, but she turns him away, shaming him. In an act of revenge, Tonio tells Canio that Nedda is having an affair like he suspected. During a performance, Canio confronts Nedda, and stabs her. Silvio attempts to save Nedda, running up on stage, but gets stabbed by Canio as well. The audience, not realizing it was real, claps until Canio screams at them, “the comedy is ended.” (
• • •

Way too basic for a Thursday. Finished the NW and thought, "Oh ... we're just anagramming, then ... fun." The fact that there was a revealer that tied it all together didn't really matter much. Didn't help, as I didn't really process that the answers were sign phrases. I was just left to anagram, and that's it. The only difficulty in the puzzle was (unsurprisingly) in figuring out the anagrams; so those answers where a bunch of 5-letter Downs ran through *two* themers (up top, down below) ended up being the toughest sections. The one up top wasn't actually tough for me at all because I had the first letters of all the Downs from ASCOTS, whereas below, where I finished up, I really did stumble around a bit. But just a bit. Not much. There's just not much to this theme, or this grid. Also, why put your OUT OF ORDER SIGNS in the bathroom. There are so many other places you might have imagined them. There are better ways to start my day than thinking of broken toilets.

Gotta finish this write-up quickly today, so let's move straight to ...

Five things:
  • 13A: Opera that famously ends with the line "La commedia è finita!" ("I PAGLIACCI" — the principal character, Canio, was originally played by NOTED TENOR Fiorello Giraud (the juxtaposition of this answer with the NOTED TENOR anagram is by far my favorite thing about this puzzle)
  • 6D: "Can you ___?" (classic cologne catchphrase) ("CANOE") — these dumb-ass ads from my high-school years are "classic" now? Wow, you live long enough, man ... 
  • 54A: First car to offer seatbelts (1950) (NASH) — completely forgot this was a car name (once). Had NAS- and was still a little confused
  • 11D: Pakistani restaurant owner on "Seinfeld" (BABU) — I imagine someone thought this was good fill, but it is terrible fill. Secondary ... tertiary ... what's below "tertiary"? ... anyway, such characters from your pet long-bygone shows are not welcome when something more widely known might've been used. I guess the crosses are fair, but I feel slightly bad for anyone who doesn't know who Jessica ALBA is
  • 24D: When repeated, a classic of garage rock ("LOUIE") — easy enough ... except for which spelling of LOUIS (?) I'm supposed to go with ... LOOEY? ... 
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Hungry Mother 6:41 AM  

Quick and easy. I didn’t grok the theme until I was half done.

puzzlehoarder 7:02 AM  

This turned out to be an average Thursday in spite of most of it solving at Wednesday speed. This was thanks to the south central region which briefly held out.

I started in the NW and stuck to the fill allowing the first two themers to take care of themselves. Even with the revealer in I still didn't catch on to the themes being strictly ROAD signs.

I further handicapped myself by writing in LEE at 60D. This was compounded by PIN at 59D. Trying to unscramble the last two theme clues at the same time I jumbled the two sets of letters. The flower and the gas weren't helping. Since I was working off of INCOHERENT, ELAN got me GLACE and all was soon well.

DeeJay 7:08 AM  

I agree too easy for veteran solvers. But not all solvers are veterans, right? And I suspect that the one third or two thirds of NYT solvers who never make it past Wednesday will he delighted to nail this.

And, who out there didn't know how to spell "Louie Louie?"

Tom Taylor 7:14 AM  

For those true Seinfeld buffs out there you’ll remember the episode about the opera I PAGLIACCI is a funny one (though it doesn’t feature BABU) ...

Loren Muse Smith 7:14 AM  

Nothing worse than several cups of coffee during a meeting only to see an OUT OF ORDER SIGN in the bathroom when there’s finally a break. If ever there was a reveal for anagrams, it’s OUT OF ORDER. As always with anagrams, I was left wishing the anagram and its partner were more connected. Like a sign for the Statue of Liberty saying Built to Stay Free. Or one for Slot Machines - Cash Lost In’em. How 'bout No Dogs Allowed to Joyless, Miserable Stinker Owns This Establishment. (Note – those first two are famous, established anagrams that I stole. The last one is my own.)

First thought for BOAT (load or lift) was “fork.” My lunch this week is a pretty big hamburger patty with melted cheese. And collard greens. We have only thirty minutes for lunch, and I have to make a conscious effort to saw off reasonable pieces of the meat so as not to force the other English teachers to avert their eyes. I swear. I mean, I could dispatch that thing with about five forkloads if I had no witnesses. I am not just saying this to be funny. Loading my fork with reasonable, ladylike amounts is foremost on my mind until I’ve finished all my food. Every day.

I see I had a dnf. My seatbelt company was “Nasa.” Dumb. I even vaguely wondered how it could be a company. Never questioned my “adtv.” It’s all ad-tv nowadays.

LOUIE Louie is one of the greatest songs of all times. I remember something about Washington trying to make that their state song. Just googled – yeah – it was A Thing. This means that the people in Washington are the coolest people on the planet. Even if it wasn’t voted in, they still tried, and that’s enough for me. What could the WV state song be? I mean, Country Roads was actually written about the western part of Virginia, so it’s kinda sad and embarrassing that we’re still using it as our song. I guess since we’re at the precipice of another strike, and since our state hemorrhages teachers… this could be our “song” at the Capitol for Round Two.

kitshef 7:25 AM  

Very easy Thursday, in part because the theme really did help. Rather than sit and figure out the anagrams, I decided to wait until I had a lot of the crosses filled in before trying. Before that happened I got the revealer, and that made the unscrambling process a snap.

mmorgan 7:31 AM  

Good fun tough Thursday for me, even though I’m not an anagram fan. The revealer really helped me here (not usually the case!), but getting each one still took some work even when the conceit was clear. Nice, that’s what I like! Yesterday’s puzzle was just (mostly) ultra blah for me but it was wonderful to finally hear some of @Nancy’s lyrics, in context. Wow. Yes. Thanks!!!

Jamie C 7:35 AM  

OUTOFORDERSIGNS INOUT??!! Surprised Rex let that slide.

QuasiMojo 8:02 AM  

As a tenor, but not a noted one, I was hoping the anagram would spell out some great singer of the past: Enrico Caruso, Jussi Bjoerling; Franco Corelli; Di Stefano; Jon Vickers; Jose Carreras, or even Placido Domingo although he is now a baritone, but we get DO NOT ENTER. Knocked the wind out of me. POOF! And I don’t mean GAS. See, I can do bathroom humor too.

Seriously, this puzzle was rolling along very nicely like a NASH along the Taconic and then hit a DETOUR with the ridiculous revealer’s clue. Why bathrooms indeed. I was expecting the Out of Order signs on the vending machines in roadside rest areas. And that sort. Wink wink at @Loren. And why plural? One Out of Order sign is sufficient. Unless several toilets are out of whack. My big fear is a sign at a cocktail party: “Out of hors d’oeuvres.”

Is this Louie Louie song the one that sounds like Louie Lou-eye? Why is that garage music? I googled it but got a bunch of INANE doggie and kitty videos.

GHarris 8:05 AM  

Expecting Thursday would involve a rebus I first put in antibody as a defense mechanism with “body” in a single box. Soon realized that didn’t work and after erasing things went a lot more smoothly. Got the themes without focusing on them as anagrams. Overall enjoyable.

E. Buzz Miller 8:08 AM  

They’re AC/DC switch hitters . . .

kgev 8:16 AM  

Yeah, I agree. Disappointingly easy for a Thursday. KenKen was, too.

TJS 8:24 AM  

Solved this one just the way @kitchef did, ignoring the capitalized clues until I hit the revealer, which made the puzzle a snap. Looking for a more difficult workout when I see Mr. Chens name attached to a Thursday, but I guess starting the rest of the day a half hour earlier can be a good thing.
@LMS, I am amazed at how you can consistently produce comments so entertaining. At 7:14 in the morning, I'm standing in front of my coffee maker trying to remember the sequence of steps to set the process in motion. Your coming up with the State of Washington voting on Louie, Louie. I don't see how you do it, but thanks, again.

Rebecca DeMornay 8:27 AM  

Seinfeld is no one’s “pet show.” It’s iconic. After South Park it’s probably the greatest comedy the history of television.

Unknown 8:42 AM  

Waiting to see how many of the folks who are frequently incensed to see anything in a puzzle that offends their progressive/leftist/liberal sensibilities, will even mention that it might be a tad insensitive to have Ilhan Omar, whose antisemitism has been called out by her own party, in the puzzle. If have been a lot happier to see "Streisand's costar" as a clue.

Suzie Q 8:45 AM  

Before I understood the theme I stared at 16A dumbly and thought
"There's a tenor named Don O'tenter?"

I am not amused by anagrams so this was no fun at all.
The only redeeming quality was a stroll down memory lane remembering Canoe and English Leather colognes and my grandparents' Nash with the dusty pink paint job and push-button gear shift.

TomAz 8:49 AM  

I have never heard of CANOE, but I certainly know how to spell LOUIE LOUIE. Sheesh. But Rex: just wait til stuff that you remember happening during your adulthood is considered classic. that's a whole 'nother level of 'hoo boy'.

I solved this last night late, after a long day of meetings and travel. I got thrown off for a while by that 'I' that comes before PAGLIACCI. That slowed me down, but I still finished this 3+ minutes below my average Thursday time.

Fun fact: I was first diagnosed with sleep APNEA while under general anesthesia during a (relatively minor) medical procedure. I don't think that's an ideal time for that sort of thing to crop up.

TomAz 8:57 AM  

@QuasiMojo 8:02 am..

LOUIE LOUIE is like the classic garage rock song.

Garage rock (also called '60s punk or garage punk) is a raw and energetic style of rock and roll that flourished in the mid-1960s, most notably in the United States and Canada, and has experienced various revivals since then. The style is characterized by basic chord structures played on electric guitars and other instruments, sometimes distorted through a fuzzbox, as well as often unsophisticated and occasionally aggressive lyrics and delivery. Its name derives from the perception that groups were often made up of young amateurs who rehearsed in the family garage, although many were professional.

If that's not LOUIE LOUIE then what is?

Note, this publication
(one whose views I generally respect) has LOUIE LOUIE listed as #3 all time.

mmorowitz 9:00 AM  

The only reason I know NASH as a car is because of

My dad loved to play this for me when I was a kid

Anonymous 9:06 AM  

Can someone with more knowledge explain why “Pagliacci” is spelled “ipagliacci”?
Is there a reason? Or we should say “icarmen” and irigoletto”?

I tried google to no avail

Z 9:06 AM  

Anagrams? If I want to do anagrams I’ll do the Jumble. Bah. Humbug.

I’ve got to believe the OMAR clue was approved before this week’s controversy. Point of order, if you haven’t demanded the resignation of Steve King, Donald Trump, Mitch McConnell, et cetera et cetera, Shut Your Mouth. You have ceded any right to opine on her by your crass hypocrisy.

Nancy 9:06 AM  

Aren't there SPEED LIMITs when nothing's OUT OF ORDER? (Think school zones.) Aren't there STEEP GRADES when nothing's OUT OF ORDER. (Think Aspen. Think San Francisco. Think Nepal.) I don't really get this puzzle and find the theme a bit INCOHERENT. Plus much too easy for a Thursday. Sadly, there was nothing here that made me want to throw in the TROWEL -- even for a minute. Not a single TEASER. So I'll just GOEST away. BYE NOW.

Z 9:10 AM  

@anon9:06 - “I” is one of seven Italian words for the.

Gulliver Foyle 9:14 AM  

@anonymous 9:06 "I" is the Italian plural article, i.e., "The Clowns." In English, the "i" is often dropped so it's just shown as "Pagliacci."

Sir Hillary 9:16 AM  

I enjoyed this, but IDO agree with those who feel it should have run earlier in the week.

Like @LMS, I initially assumed (and hoped) that the anagrams would be more connected to their respective answers, but the excellent revealer was just as good.

I remember that CANOE ad quite well. Viewing it now, it's simultaneously hilarious and creepy. I always thought that piano vamp in the background sounded cool, and I still do.

Good, solid work. Nothing really more to say, and I'm definitely not interested in any Ilhan OMAR back-and-forth that's yet to come. BYENOW.

pabloinnh 9:21 AM  

A little disappointing not to have anything to do with Valentine's Day, especially for us incurable romantics. Otherwise fun if a little easy for a Thursday.

The worst thing is that now I've got an earworm involving a little Nash Rambler going "beep beep" behind a Cadillac and as they go faster and faster and it turns out the Nash driver can't get his car out of second gear. Thanks a lot for that one, Mr. Bennett and Mr. Chen.

mar 9:22 AM  

@Anon 9:06: If I remember correctly from my Italian class of 1971, one (the) clown is "il pagliaccio", but 2 (or more) clowns are "i pagliacci" -- but there is only one Carmen or one Rigoletto

Devito 9:22 AM  

Thanks for the valentine @Jeff Chen! Got the gimmick, finish a Thursday, four day streak. Haven't had that for a while (was that easy week December or January?). Yessiree, ignorin' the vet's "easy" whines, feelin' super smart right about now. Til I stuck a question in a parenthetical and almost blew off the top of my head trying to figure out where the question mark would go.

In any case, I'll just have some breakfast and bask in my brilliance. I just hope no one ...ate my Rice Krispies! That's a joke son! Vesti la giubba, whatever THAT means :D

GILL I. 9:25 AM  

Nothing like starting my morning spitting out my coffee with @Suzie Q's favorite tenor, DON O'TENTER.
Well, other than laughing out loud, I thought this was going to be fun. Opera. For sure. Then I see some bathroom postings clue and begin to wonder. Why? I'd rather it be a pinball machine.
I don't particularly like anagrams. Brain doesn't function that way. Even so, this was awfully easy for mind-blowing Thursday. I still don't get why the OUT OF ORDER SIGNS for a bathroom have anything to do with all the road signs. There is some fun stuff here, though. Didn't Sally call Linus her Sweet BABU? Then we have a ROSY dawn which will delight a sailor. OMAR means eloquent and a gifted speaker. She's not quite a gifted speaker after mispronouncing Elliott Abrams name very loudly. She's crossing a CAMEL - was that intended?
I think I remember "Can you CANOE." Maybe because that fragrance belongs with Tabu. Want to kill someone in an elevator? Try CANOE and Tabu.
Now I'm singing "La commedia e finita." I used to listen to Caruso sing it and when he cried at the end, I'd cry with him. Nothing sadder than hearing a grown man cry.

Anonymous 9:35 AM  

Am I the only one who didn't get ELATED / SENT? I've looked up and I can't find any real reference to "elate" meaning "to send". I see the latin is "to carry" but...

Anonymous 9:47 AM  

I’m a big opera buff and Pagliacci was the first thing I figured out in the grid, but a) couldn’t totally remember how to spell it and b) couldn’t figure out why my best Italian orthography kept leaving me with an empty square.

I have NEVER EVER heard that opera referred to as “I Pagliacci.” Not in my collegiate music history courses and not at an opera house. A google search reveals that some posters for some productions do say “I Pagliacci” but they are FAR outnumbered by posters that omit the I and it’s just “Pagliacci” on Wikipedia and many other websites.

So I guess it’s technically correct but it’s just not good or fair, and honestly brought a lot of frustration to a puzzle that I otherwise would have enjoyed

Nancy 10:06 AM  

Aha! The signs, themselves, are in order, but the clues to the signs are OUT OF ORDER. Making the clues the OUT OF ORDER SIGNS. Which, of course, clue 36A couldn't state more clearly -- if only I'd been paying closer attention. Mea culpa. Or as Gilda Radner would say re my 9:06 comment: "Never mind!"

Z 10:11 AM  

@Anon9:47 - I’m about as far from an Opera buff as one can be and had no trouble with I PAGLIACCI, which makes me wonder if the “I” is more common in crossworld opera than in real world opera. I also wonder about the subtle difference between “The Clowns” and “Clowns.” In English dropping the “the” allows a play on meaning through verbification. Does that work in Italian?

@Gill I - Since she came over at the age of 14 after four years in a refugee camp, I assume English is her second language. Seeing her read her questions and statements seemed pretty stilted. Whatever else though, her “that wasn’t a question” was perfect.

Anonymous 10:16 AM  

TIL 56D "send" can also mean to delight or thrill.

Lewis 10:22 AM  

The puzzle put me into an anagramming mood, and I see that an anagrammed INCOHERENT makes sense to me in two ways. First, CHEN IN ROTE at first does sound incoherent to me, who thinks of Jeff (one of today's constructors) as a creative sort, but then, when I imagine him in his computer programming mode, there is a ring of truth to it. Second, the anagrammed INCOHERENT echoes the current administration, IMO, with two incarnations: ENRON ETHIC, and ECO THINNER.

Katzzz 10:26 AM  

As in the Sam Cooke song “You Send Me.”

Mike Herlihy 10:28 AM  

You forgot to add "Spoiler Alert" before including the plot of Pagliacci. :-)

jberg 10:35 AM  

Hi @Nancy, I was getting ready to explain it, but you beat me to it. I figured you'd love the anagrams more, but true, it's an easy puzzle. The only hard part was figuring out why the revealer was in a bathroom, while the signs are on the road.

Still, I love anagrams, so I liked it.

Biggest problem: not thinking they would stoop to the deceptively-clued POC at 4A, so putting in 'cravat' before ASCOTS. Also the bBc news hour. Neither too serious, since I waited for more crosses before making "backsplash" my stove part.

I couldn't figure out how Overthrow was ERR until just now -- aha! baseball! That's the best wordplay in the puzzle, aside from the revealer.

GILL I. 10:35 AM  

@Z...I agree "that wasn't a question" was worth the wince inducing play to Mr. Adams.. Fox had a field day with her. No surprise. She's got cojones - no doubt.
I'm also going to say that I agree with Anony 9:47. I, too, have never ever heard Pagliacci referred to with the "I" in front. NEVER once - ever. But, it was inferred. Yes, must be a crossword thing. The show must go on.

RooMonster 10:38 AM  

Hey All !
@Rebecca DeMornay 8:27
Not sure if I'd rate Seinfeld as #2. There have been a lot of great comedies. I agree on South Park, but there's also Married With Children, Scrubs, and of course, Monty Python that I would rank above Seinfeld. Probably others I'm forgetting. My two cents.

Knew we were looking foe Anagrams when I saw the clues, but figured they would be the actual thing that was anagrammed. Like an actual noted tenor for NOTED TENOR. Not being up on my tenors, I went to the next one, SIMPLE DIET, and was looking for a simple diet. You get what I mean. :-) But there were just anagrams. At least they were all in the same group, Street Signs you might see, but then the revealer should've been something about OUT OF ORDER on the Street. Just Sayin'.

That's not a dig at the puz, I did enjoy it.

Rex, who wouldn't know Jessica ALBA? She's a Babe! Schwing! :-) It's been a minute since I've seen or heard WIG out. Writeovers, icee for GELS, and a real funny one, I PadLIACCI. Har. Is that an opera about IPADS? That South Center was a toughy. ANCHO, PEONY, GLACE, yeowch.

Still upset over the OCTAD of Planets. Bring Pluto back!


Whatsername 10:41 AM  

Very easy Thursday and I like jumbles so enjoyed the anagrams. Loved the OUTOFORDER revealer but I don’t get the reference to bathrooms. Would have been much more logical to clue that as “some highway postings” or anything relevant to road signs or driving. For what it’s worth, obscure Seinfeld trivia is fine by me but for the record, the Pagliacci episode was way funnier than the one with Babu.

Greg Charles 10:52 AM  

From the same Wikipedia article Rex quotes:

The title is sometimes incorrectly rendered in English with a definite article as I pagliacci. Pagliacci is the Italian plural for "clowns", and i is the corresponding plural definite article, which, however, is not used in the original title.

Anonymous 11:01 AM  

Only a troglodyte.... would edit Homer (not sure what happened there)

Marc Kwiatkowski 11:14 AM  

Agree with @jberg (though not sure what POC is) about 4A. The clue "Dandy neckwear" did not suggest a plural and dandyism is much more associated with the cravat than ASCOTS

Carola 11:22 AM  

My initial, disappointed "Oh, no, anagrams on a Thursday?!" morphed into "Nice one!" for the tight array of theme answers and the clever reveal and also for the personal blast-from-the-past elements: the NASH Rambler my family owned, my copy of the original Kingsmen album with LOUIE LOUIE, bought in Portland in 1964, and the guy in college I dated who wore a moth to the flame...

CAMEL over OMAR: Can anyone forget the shot of Sharif Ali (OMAR Sharif) approaching the well in Lawrence of Arabia?

QuasiMojo 11:26 AM  

@TomAz, thank you! Thanks for the info and link. I had no idea about garage music. The only sound coming out of my garage growing up was a lawnmower revving up. Count me among the “I Pagliacci” crowd. As for operas that begin with “the” think of La Boheme. Les Huguenots. La Traviata. I Capuleti e I Montecchi. Die Meistersinger. Etc. Not to mention The Ballad of Baby Doe.

Banana Diaquiri 11:50 AM  

the only famous Jessica's are Rabbit, Fletcher, and Biel. who's this ALBA person?

Anonymous 11:52 AM  

I agree... an easy one for Thursday. But I say, “so what?” It’s nice to occasionly rip through a mid-week puzzle, so no complaints from me. Thanks very much Mr. Bennett and Mr. Chen for this cleverly constructed plum. Very enjoyable.

GILL I. 11:52 AM  

@Carola: Be still my heart. My true love....OMAR Sharif. My other true love...Peter O'Toole.
[sigh]. Ridi, Pagliaccio, sui tuo amore infranto!

Masked and Anonymous 11:56 AM  

SIMPLE DIET SPEED LIMIT sign would be kinda cool, as a bathroom stall postin. 30 TPH, say.

Well, anagrams ain't exactly a fresh ThursPuz theme idea, but the 36-A revealer did tie everything together mighty nicely. Sooo … ko. And ok.

staff weeject pick: ATV. Almost anagram of VALENTINE. Primo central weeject stack, btw. Neat how that stack helps trowel up the central reveal, so it don't get too many crossers with the other themers.

fave fillins: EXTRASMALL. LOUIE (louie). "Louie, Louie" (by The Kingsmen) even had the extra distinction of soundin like it was recorded in somebody's garage. Got the 45; on the Wand label.
IPAGLIACCI don't anagram to squat.

Thanx for GANGin up on us, Bennett & Chen meisters.

Masked & AnonymoUUs

extra-small, one more time:

nyc_lo 11:58 AM  

I, for one, will never complain about a Thursday being too easy. I mean, Thursdays suck anyway, as in “Who left this day lying around getting in the way of Friday?” A fun, easy-breezy puzzle works for me.

Ethan Taliesin 12:00 PM  

These anagrams aren't on point enough to be worth it. BABU from Seinfeld was fine, but I was delighted to be reminded of CRAZY JOE DAVOLA. Sad clown :(

A Moderator 12:17 PM  

Find somewhere else to discuss Omar.

Z 12:23 PM  

@Greg Charles - Thanks for pointing that out the note. I hadn’t bothered to read beyond what Rex included. I am a little cautious about accepting that note since there is no citation, but Americans mis-translating something from a foreign language would hardly be a singular occurrence.

Pete 12:25 PM  

I thought this was an absolutely horrid puzzle. Even if one enjoys anagrams, which certainly don't, everyone has to admit that the actual fact of the anagram is totally without wit. The only exception, of course, would be for it to follow LMS's requirement, in which case it's a mere coincidence, but at least a funny one. Unless SPEEDLIMIT anagrams to TENGRAMSOFCRANK I don't care what SPEEDLIMIT anagrams to. So, the only thing this puzzle has going for it is that OUTOFORDERSIGNS begs for anagrams of signs. That's fine, my dogs beg for what they believe to be their fair share of my dinner each night, but they don't get it. A man's got to eat, amiright?

Anyway, the theme never should have been done. On top of that, there was nothing, absolutely nothing, in the rest of the puzzle to make up for a zero rating on the theme. A boring puzzle on top of a zero theme.

OffTheGrid 12:26 PM  

This puzzle held together like a tissue in the rain. The theme clues just hung out there all by themselves to die. They were just fodder for the anagrams.

Banana Diaquiri 12:39 PM  

BTW, while NASH is correct in one sense, first to offer seat belts as an option, SAAB, which I tried to get in, but that B nixed it, was the first to make them standard.

DasNitMeister 12:45 PM  

Leoncavallo originally titled his story Il pagliaccio (The Clown). The baritone Victor Maurel, who was cast as the first Tonio, requested that Leoncavallo change the title from the singular Il pagliaccio to the plural Pagliacci, to broaden dramatic interest from Canio alone to include Tonio (his own role).[6] - Wikipedia

I doubt we'll ever know if "Il Pgliaccio" got renamed "I Pagliacci", i.e. "The Clown" became "The Clowns", or that "The Clown" became "Clowns" I would suspect that "I Pagliacci" (as "The Clowns" is a more apt title than just "Clowns") is correct, but both are common.

jae 12:47 PM  

Easy. A tad bland. A tepid liked it.

Aketi 12:56 PM  

Powdered WIGS and ASCOTS seem to be appropriate attire for some PBS shows.

The anagrams were a little too easy once I figured out they were all ROAD SIGNS

The ROAD SIGN I wish cars and pedestrians would follow is an anagram of NO EYEBALL INK. Gotta stop watching all the crazy places people choose to have tatoos on the Inked shows.

@LMS, loved you avatar. Sorry to read that there might be another strike. My sister is still hanging in there after the riots that her school administration covered up. It was a full scale riot with the lone officer at the school down until back up arrived, lots of kids hurt and the administration put out a false statement that no kids were hurt. Fortunately, no shots fired, just fists.

Teedmn 1:13 PM  

This was an easy enough Thursday and it appears that I have no excess ink on my grid so no write-overs? Not a common occurrence for me. The biggest hold up I had was not being sure of the opera and having absolutely NO idea there had ever been a cologne called CANOE. Too weird. And to my chagrin, S-E-E as the famous Alamo one kept bringing ScEnE to mind for far too long.

I do think the bathroom tie-in in the 36A clue was unnecessary - that left me wanting the signs to be something you would see in or around a bathroom and only DO NOT ENTER came close. I think trying to re-interpret any of the others as bathroom-related would NOT pass the breakfast test.

At 51A, my brain didn't want to work past Dune BUGGY or the big worms in the Herbert Dune series so CAMEL gave me a chuckle. And our MN 5th District congressional rep., Ilhan OMAR. DJT has already called for her resignation over her tweets. While I don't approve of her tweets, I thought that coming from the TIC (tweeter-in-chief) was richly ironic.

While this had no Valentine's Day connection (except possibly OYSTERS), I thought this was a fine, maybe not Thursday-ish, puzzle. Thanks, JEB AND JC.

Vic 1:57 PM  

A nit, but the baseball term for an overthrow is an “ERROR” — definitely not an “ERR”. OMG, I’ve turned into a crossword geek...

Old Gridder 2:04 PM  


Z 2:12 PM  

I feel like this 1902 article is pretty definitive that the definite article is not a part of the title. I mean, if you can’t trust the librettist who can you trust. Just in case that JSTOR link doesn’t work, it is Reference #2 in the Wikipedia article.

Ben 2:29 PM  

It's being used as a verb here, not a noun -- "to overthrow" is "to ERR" is "to commit an error."

Joe Dipinto 2:47 PM  

Having "I Pagliacci" and Milli Vanilli in the same puzzle strikes me as insanely funny.

Yes it's "I Pagliacci" despite what people call it, much as it's "Madama (not Madam) Butterfly" and "Messiah" (not "The Messiah").

I enjoyed this puzzle, but like GILL I. and others, I don't get why the revealer clue places the signs in the bathroom when the signs are all related to driving.

@Rex -- LOUIS LOUIS? You're kidding. Really? Also, you seem unperturbed by Box 54. Progress...

@Quasimojo -- ooh, The Ballad Of Baby Doe.

Trivia question: "Pagliacci" is mentioned in what Motown song?

Stanley Hudson 3:05 PM  

@TomAz, anyone who references Paste Magazine is aces in my book. I've been an off-and-on subscriber for the past umpteen years and missed the article you note. Thanks for the link.

Joe Dipinto 3:06 PM  

Actually a perusal of recordings on Amazon show some with the "I" and some without. I always knew the formal title to be "I Pagliacci" but information on which is correct seems rather blurry overall. I guess you can call it whichever you want.

Mary Worth 3:06 PM  

I am sick of E. Buzz Wilson's tawdry mouth. Pure filth.

Pete 3:22 PM  

@Z - I don't know what you think is dispositive about that citation, but if you think it's because he refers to "Pagliacci" rather that "I Pagliacci", you should be aware that he also refers to "Medici" where as the piece is universally known as "I Medici". Leoncavallo being pretty casual in his writing here.

Z 3:39 PM  

@Pete - Damn. Way over my post limit, but you raise a great point. I will offer the following (which I’m not sure I find convincing) and then shut up. Whenever Leoncavallo refers to Medici the English “the” precedes it, but this is not the case for PAGLIACCI. Of course, all the titles are italicized in the article, but not the “the,” so maybe whatever works graphically for the libretto cover is correct enough. One thing I’m sure of, in Crossworld letter count is what matters.

Anonymous 3:47 PM  

Anybody else sick of hearing every thought that enters Z's head?

QuasiMojo 4:08 PM  

@Joe diPinto, “Tears of a Clown.” Opera is a tricky business because of the language issues. For instance it is or was customary to use “la bohème” without a capital B, but very few companies list it that way. It’s easy shorthand to say I saw Pagliacci last night just as we say I saw Meistersinger at the Met, or to say that so and so appeared in four Ariadnes last year. I’m not sure the issue is worthy of this much discussion. ;)

Nancy 4:19 PM  

@Carola (11:22) and @GILL (11:52) Some thoughts on that memorable Lawrence of Arabia scene that @Carola provides above:

1)OMAR sure takes his own sweet time in getting across the desert, no? I could have listened to an entire aria from I PAGLIACCI while waiting...and waiting...and waiting for him to arrive.

2) While I normally go for dark men over blonds -- Rhett ahead of Ashley every time -- in this case, @GILL, I'll take Peter O"Toole well ahead of OMAR. I've never found Sharif attractive -- not in Lawrence, not in Funny Girl, not in Zhivago. Much too stiff.

In any event, neither OMAR nor Peter steals the scene. The CAMEL steals that scene. Such dignity. Such gracefulness.

sanfranman59 4:36 PM  

An Easy NYT Thursday (6:15) at only 1.5 Rex Parkers and my 7th fastest solve time of 484 NYT Thursdays. There wasn't much resistance at all here. At first, I thought the theme was going to be more interesting because of the I PAGLIACCI (13A)/{NOTED TENOR} (16A) pairing in the NE. But it was fine as it was. I recall a few enjoyable moments during the solve and don't remember any guffaws. The clue for CANOE (6D) was a head-scratcher. A little more challenge would have been welcome, but I'll take an Easy Thursday. No erasures! Yahoo!

Anonymous 5:02 PM  

@ Anon 3:47, Yes.

David 5:05 PM  

Not a great deal of fun for me, I don't like anagrams much. I'm also quite literal so even looking at it when done I'm thinking, "but none of these signs have anything to do with something being out of order". Had to come here to learn to think of anagrams as being words with letters "out of order" rather than words with rearranged letters.

Had Seneca off of "I care" but then there was notre, so I switched to Oneida. That was my only hiccup really. Nash pioneered many automotive innovations before being incorporated into AMC. Nice to see a shoutout to them. And for some reason, probably the feel of saying it, I love the word trowel.

Even with the anagrams this felt way easier to me than a Thursday should.

Joe Dipinto 5:56 PM  

The lights on the Empire State Building are simulating a beating heart -- very cool!

Christophe Verlinde 7:34 PM  

I've been attending opera performances since 1985. Never have I seen an opera poster of program that says "I Pagliacci". Here is a URL to the libretto:
It clearly states "PAGLIACCI", not "I PAGLIACCI".

Carola 7:50 PM  

@Nancy, about your first point - David Lean said that here he was following advice from William Wyler: "If you're going to shock an audience, get them almost to the point of boredom before doing so."

Adam 8:40 PM  

It would have to be “Barbra’s co-star” for OMAR to be the correct answer....

Tom R 9:17 PM  

4th in a series: quartenary.

So looking for an opera theme after I Pagliacci and NOTED TENOR, but, alas, not to be. Everyone is right - too easy for a Thursday.

Oldflappyfrommississappy 10:25 PM  

When I see one of Z’s posts it’s all I can do not to puke.

Gary NYC 10:26 PM  

Yawn. Check the Troggs. It’s pronounced LEW-EYE, LEW-EYE.

Andrew Heinegg 11:32 PM  

So, don't read them or the rest of the blog, for that matter. Your post reminds me of the Trump supporters railing against CNN on a CNN podcast. You don't like it? Don't watch it. I think FOX News is as fictional as a fairy tale so I don't watch it. It's easy.

Anonymous 1:09 AM  

Andrew said “. I think FOX News is as fictional as a fairy tale so I don't watch it. It's easy.” How can you know it’s fictional if you don’t watch it ?

Burma Shave 9:48 AM  

HEY GANG . . .

OUTOFORDERSIGNS are everywhere, BYENOW I SEA a few.


rondo 10:00 AM  

I was not recalling that first I in the IPAGLIACCI answer, but got there anyway. OCTet before OCTAD was not helpful.

Not sure if I want to recognize MN Rep Ilhan OMAR or not. Not a ROSY scene.

Nothing OUTOFORDER with yeah baby Jessica ALBA.

Gotta WIG out. BYENOW.

William Heyman 1:40 PM  

Modern gas stoves should have a piezo electric crystal, which, when activated, creates a spark to light the gas. No pilot lights anymore.

Anonymous 1:43 PM  

Is this the syndicated puzzle for March 21, 2019?

Anonymous 3:00 PM  

Hello. Syndication solver here. This puzzle was extremely difficult for me since the clues in my paper were for a Ross Trudeau puzzle and not from Jeff Chen etal. I had to search the internet to find the correct clues to this puzzle which upped the difficulty tremendously. This actually my this puzzle a lot more fun even if a tad annoying.

Taz in Cali.

leftcoastTAM 4:14 PM  

Medium Thursday is fine by me. Better than fine, really.

Was encouraged by getting off to a good start and through the top four rows pretty easily, including the usually resistant NW.

Anagram themers gave this gave the whole puzzle some kick. As for the revealer, have seen enough OUT OF ORDER SIGNS in public restrooms, and the signs say what anagrams literally are.

SSE clump of four downs -- PEONY, GLACE, RADON, and ANCHO -- put a SPEED LIMIT on the solve down there. Okay by me, since I'm not and expect never to be a speed-solver.

Nice work by Bennet and Chen.

strayling 7:05 PM  


Anonymous 9:43 PM  

If the ONLY reason you still subscribe to a newspaper is because it carries the NYT Crossword Puzzle, and your favorite puzzles are the Thursday ones, it's particularly maddening when said newspaper prints a set of clues that don't go with the grid.

-East Bay Times subscriber, SF Bay Area.

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