Bygone brand of weight-loss pills / FRI 5-3-19 / Dessert traditionally served with an RC Cola in the South / Virtual community admin / Spicy Chinese dish with peanuts / CW sitcom/horror drama about medical examiner who eats brains

Friday, May 3, 2019

Constructor: Trenton Charlson

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium to Medium (5:42)

THEME: none

Word of the Day: "I, ZOMBIE" (13D: CW sitcom/horror drama about a medical examiner who eats brains) —
iZombie (stylized as iZOMBiE) is an American television series developed by Rob Thomas and Diane Ruggiero-Wright for The CW. It is a loose adaptation of the comic book series of the same name created by Chris Roberson and Michael Allred, and published by DC Comics under their Vertigo imprint. The series premiered on March 17, 2015.[4][5]
On May 10, 2017, The CW renewed the series for a fourth season, which premiered on February 26, 2018.[6][7] On May 11, 2018, The CW renewed the series for a fifth and final season, which premiered on May 2, 2019. (i.e. last night!?) (emph mine) (wikipedia)
• • •

This is a grid shape that isn't really capable of yielding great results, especially on a Friday. You can go *hard* with a grid shape like this, but you can't go very colorful. Everything ends up kinda gray. Middling. There are no long answers, which is part of the problem. When your grid is predominantly sevens ... well, that sounds OK, except when they all intersect, that means their quality is going to be heavily restricted. Basically, there's no marquee answer, no flashy stuff. The puzzle just sort of gets by. Today's is fine. Solidly built. There are some attempts at flair—RADIO DJ is nice (12D: Record holder), especially with that unusual terminal "J," and I guess TRUE DAT is supposed to be hip and current (15A: "You said it!"), though it's old hat in the NYT by now (third appearance). But any highs are offset by lows like ETTORE (7D: Automaker Bugatti who reportedly said "I make my cars to go, not to stop") (who is lobbying hard to be the next annoying crosswordese name) and the twin -AE plurals (one is more than enough, thanks). Things like DATA SET and ACCRUAL just don't really get the party started. The top half is decidedly better than the bottom half, but overall it's a bit blah. Passable, but blah.

[38A: No-goodnik]

I feel like I could describe most post-Tuesday solves with: "Struggled at first, but then [x y z] and things got much easier." That was certainly true today, where early on I was thinking this was gonna be on the tougher side for a Friday, but once I stopped trying to go down the west side of the grid and went back and looped around through the NE, resistance dropped considerably. AROSE to SIPPY CUP formed the walls that kept me stuck, but once I hopped SIPPY CUP and came down the east coast, things picked up. Probably solved latter 2/3 as fast or faster than the first 1/3 (which was largely the NW corner inside the AROSE/SIPPYCUP wall). Wanted MUD PIE for MOONPIE (a regional thing not from my region) (20A: Dessert traditionally served with an RC Cola in the South). Wanted some kind of -CAP before SIPPY CUP (8D: It might prevent a spill). Misread 27A: Some diving positions as "Some driving positions" and went looking for golf answers like RUFF (Var.?). Wanted SLOPE and SKI-something but couldn't get from 35A: Festival display to POMP. Other than that, my Thomas the Tank Engine knowledge is very rusty (my nephew hasn't been into Thomas for well over a decade), so PERCY needed every cross (52D: Friend of Thomas the Tank Engine). Luckily for me, those crosses were very easy to come by. Why would you do "bygone" "weight-loss pills"? Send TRIMSPA back to the '70s or '80s or wherever it came from. Send NOES there too, while you're at it. YESES I can somehow handle, but NOES looks ridiculous.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Loren Muse Smith 6:14 AM  

(@preferred customer, @CDilly52, @Z, and @David – I responded to y’all at the end of yesterday’s thread.)

This one gave me a lot of push-back. First entry was MOON PIE. I once knew a standard dachshund who ate an entire box of MOON PIES one day while his parents were at work. Epic.

Lots to admire here among the sevens Rex mentions: DROPOUT, DOG BITE, KUNG PAO, SEA SALT, TRUE DAT, TURBO JET… And I liked the two peacock-related cross MRS/EYESPOTS.

Rex – I agree on NOES; it looks weird. I think I read that you have a choice between noes and nos. Nah. I’d vote to go with no’s. Sometimes that apostrophe, however convention-flouting, does some pretty good aesthetic work as regards readability.

PLAY DATE and SIPPY CUP. Sigh. Those were the days, right? Once, my toddler son was hosting a play date – he and his co-toddlers climbing all over the requisite wooden swing/slide structure in our back yard. It was hot, so I sent my husband in to get them some juice. (Yes, that husband, the rubbing-alcohol-on-son’s-diaper-rash husband and this story does not end well but no one got hurt so okay fine.) He was inside for a bit and came out with a tray of our tall ice tea glasses (glass glasses), like 8 inches tall, all filled to the brim with juice. Each toddler had their own designated glass because my husband had written names on them with a sharpie.

LOST ART of conversation. Just look around today if you’re in a coffee shop or restaurant or park and see all the pairs and groups of people. Silent, each seduced by a phone screen. Mining the cyberworld for a better dance partner.

Any portmanteau, anytime, anywhere, just cheers me up. SEXPERT. Love it. Lots of people here think they have Rex’s number and fancy themselves Rexperts. (I believe he’s winding us up half the time, fwiw.) Firefighters who extricate people from car accidents are wrecksperts. A doctor who deals in stuff “down there,” a urologist, could be an erectspert. But that neologism will never get any traction ‘cause it’s a startling homophone for a feasible compound noun borrowed from German.

Wood 6:23 AM  

I disagree with @Rex on the quality of the grid. Amazing feat with very little dreck. Crunchy solve without being impossible. Loved it.

Lewis 6:25 AM  

I so wanted GO COMMANDO for [Boxer rebellion?].

Steve 6:28 AM  

Hey, where is everyone? Only one comment so far (Hi Loren!).
I liked this grid more than Rexie. I liked the "mini themes" of Peacocks, records, AE words (I liked them!) etc. I enjoyed the clueing very much too. Normally, Friday/Saturday is so-so for me. I love themes and themeless just seem to lack anything interesting for me, but today's offering really kept me interested and was just... fun!

BarbieBarbie 6:29 AM  

A band aid isn’t an AMP. It’s an AMPlifier. Clue needs work to show the truncation.

This one was hard for me. Good puzzle, though ephemeral.

pabloinnh 6:53 AM  

Kind of agree with OFL in that I thought that this was going to be a lot harder than it turned out to be. Pretty much good solid fun.

"The Rime of the Ancient Mariner" made me think of something that happened shortly after we moved to rural NH. I started playing softball and meeting people, softball and beer being good opportunities. After one game against the rival local team, some of us came back to my place to, um, socialize. After some time doing this, a local named Bobby, who I knew as the guy who loaded chairs at the ski area, stood up and recited said ballad. In its entirety. Never underestimate the locals, is the lesson I took from this. Also we've been good friends for forty years now.

So thanks for the memories, TC. Nice Friday.

Hungry Mother 7:08 AM  

Started easy, got tough, ended up a tad quicker than usual. Nice challenge, fun to solve.

kitshef 7:21 AM  

Felt about right for Friday. Had some grit, and some clever clues. Fill wasn’t the most exciting – I like SIPPY CUP and PARADOX, but not fond of the two AE plurals (@Anoa Bob - do those count as POCs?)

Does anyone watch I ZOMBIE? Is it any good? Been on my Netflix list for a while but haven’t started watching.

amyyanni 7:25 AM  

Like having Mrs. Peacock in the SE with the Suspect clue (CLUE) in the NW. Have played too that game too many times. I think I was fascinated by a house that big. And the puzzle is fascinating in a good way. Certainly held my interest.

QuasiMojo 7:42 AM  

Kudos to @Lewis above for the morning chuckle. I needed it today. I found this one semi-challenging and enjoyed filling it in. Some of the tricky clues were clever. FALL GUY. LOST ART. But that clue for I Zombie on CW (??) did not pass the breakfast test. When will this pandemic of zombie fascination end? Is there anything stupider or less interesting? Yes, comic books blockbusters. NBC TV is one of those answers that don’t pass the test either. The company is called NBC. Go ahead. Google NBC TV. It doesn’t show up except with TV SHOWS. Wanted that guy from Star Trek for BONES. I did know ATTILA immediately and NANA, even ALI BABA, which may be the PARADOX of my fate. I’m always time traveling. Things were better back when. At least in my imagination.

Birchbark 7:50 AM  

Misspelled PARAl[l]ax --> PARADOX for a consequence of time travel. The blur you see in just about every movie/TV/comic book depiction is parallax associated with moving about in time. What a great wrong answer, especially compared to dead-horse PARADOXes, which are pretty much everywhere.

Z 7:51 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Hartley70 8:09 AM  

There are so few comments so far because most of us are probably stuck somewhere in the grid. The left half was really tough for me. May I never see TRUEDAT again. PLAYDATE and SIPPYCUP were fun. AREOLAE and AORTAE were not. MRS felt like green paint. I have never heard DICE called bones but I’ve never PLAYed craps either. I didn’t know there were forests to cut for ALIBABA. I imagined him in a desert. ETTORE was tough because I know nothing about Bugatti. This played like a really tough Saturday for me, so I had a love/hate thing going on. Yippee!

Runs with Scissors 8:10 AM  

That was fun! It was also over much faster than it felt while solving. Nothing was clicking in the NW so I got the first toehold in the NE with a PARADOX of SAFARIS. I think I was IN A HAZE. Never heard of I, ZOMBIE but it seemed kinda obvious. Maybe it was Asimov’s character Robbie’s undead twin. I’ve never actually read anything by ANAIS Nin but the name comes up all the time in crosswords so it wasn’t too hard to figure out with the A___S. I never saw the clue for 22A, so I didn’t have a chance to wonder what in tarnation that was. “Treasure Island” was better RLS, it just had to be.

In the SE-ish, it was sticky in a few spots; I could not let go of daRCY for Thomas the Train Engine’s friend for the longest time. Don’t know what I was thinking there. My younger daughter had the biggest collection of that stuff so I knew it was PERCY, but it wouldn’t come through without a struggle.

Put SEA SALT on your KUNG PAO and everyone CLAMS UP. It’s not LAOTIAN. I was off to the races there.

In the SW I couldn’t see BAD APPLE to save my life. I’ve read “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner;” never considered it a ballad since ballad – to me – connotes music. “Yesterday” qualifies. AREAOLAE always brings out the 12 year old in me. I admit it.

Went all CODE RED in the NW but finally bulled my way through that china shop. It was fighting hard, but the picadores finally wore it down.

Haven’t seen Dr. Ruth show up – anywhere – in forever. Got the SEX part quickly, PERT was longer coming.

Over all a perfect Friday offering on a balmy Thursday evening. Nothing at which to sneer, no dreck that I could see, the fill is solid all round. I won’t even give an EYE SPOT to NOES. Or EYE SPOT.

I’ve always loved NADIR, can’t explain why. I’ve used it in casual but convoluted conversation, to the consternation of my fellow conversationalists. Maybe it’s a LOST ART.

Chortled, almost guffawed, at the combination BAD APPLE SYSOP’s DATASET. Who knows what records are really out there. ALI BABA and ATTILA on SAFARIS, TRUE DAT! was pretty priceless also.

If there’s a theme, well, I not only didn’t see it but it didn’t see me either. Is the big X in the middle with crosshairs on all sides supposed to be a bullseye? ‘Cause, y’know, it works; I just can’t see any clues or answers in the grid giving it sustenance. Maybe the SAFARI? Inquiring minds want to know.

Who-so list it nat y-here, Turn over the leef, and chese another tale (@Birchbark, thanks. I like it!): SEE HERE, I’ve decided verbs are no longer intransitive and transitive. They are henceforth more properly designated intransigent and wimpy. The intransigent verbs are the ones that are all in-your-face, I dare you to make sense of me and I ain’t changin’ for no one, see? ARiSE, wake, SEE, lie are examples of intransigent verbs. The wimpy ones, such as STICKS, TUCKS, LOB in the grid, just meekly follow the rules. Doesn’t that make much more sense? How many of you will follow me down that particular rabbit hole? :-0

Mark, in Mickey’s North 40

Z 8:19 AM  

That MOONPIE clue made my teeth start to rot just reading it.

I guess going FX comedy for ATLANTA when you already have a CW sitcom was too much this century for the NYTX.

I liked this fine, but agree with Rex that 4 eight letter answers and a bunch of seven letter answers really put a cap on the sparkle. It does seem like for every SEXPERT there’s a TRIMSPA. DATASET ACCRUAL looks like a session title at a CPA convention.

@Lewis - Great answer.
@LMS - Geez Louise, I said don’t @ me.... As for conversation, I don’t pay attention but I strongly SUSPECT I’ve added that M without much pondering it. Old habits and all. Still, I can’t recall ever not getting anyone’s meaning regardless, so I’m firmly on team #LetItDisappear. Unlike can/may, which still bugs me when people use the “wrong” one. Just because you can doesn’t mean you should so it’s always a good idea to ask yourself if you may. But, no, “can” means “can” and “may” now. Oh Well.*

*The very notion of a white Jackson Five clip in the Blog required a palate cleanser.

Bob Mills 8:55 AM  

Got everything execpt the SE corner, because I had AORTAS for 48-Down. Didn't like the answer for "You said it." Are we expected to talk like people in the 'hood? Who really says "TRUE DAT" in normal conversation?

Nancy 9:00 AM  

I don't gamble. I don't take weight-loss pills. Chinese is my least favorite cuisine. Did I have problems in the SE or what?

First I had to change DoCs to DICE (56D). "Bones" was a weird clue to me and I finally decided it had to be a stand-in for "sawbones", slang for doctors. This left me with SYS-P-T for the peacock feature. Something had to be done. I realized my mistake and corrected. But I still had to cross the unknown weight-loss brand with the unknown spicy Chinese dish. So I started to guess...

TRIMS?A. What would I call a weight-loss pill?
*TRIMS LA? The official weight-loss pill of Hollywood.
*TRIMS HA? You really think this pill's gonna work, sucker?
*TRIMS MA? So she doesn't have to wear "Mom Jeans" anymore.
*TRIMS PA? No more "Dad Bod". Oh wait -- TRIM SPA. That's a good one to put in your AD SPACE. Giving me KUNG PAO. Finished!!!

A crunchy puzzle that I enjoyed.

GILL I. 9:03 AM  

MOON PIE? Who dat? So I looked it up...are your ready? Evidently it got its name because a Kentucky miner happened to meet up with this baker. Said baker was trying to sell his wares and asked the miner what kind of PIE he'd like. The miner said he didn't care as long as it was as big as the MOON. Cute, huh?
And so my Friday experience went along its difficult way. Fits and starts. Had a heck of a time even getting started. Went south. That didn't help. Climbed back up and managed the SAFARI. That opened up the puzzle for me. Zipped along slowly. Never seen nor heard of I ZOMBIE. Knew Dr Ruth was into SEX but didn't know she was also a PERT. I now know ANAIS is into erotica. Was it because of Henry Miller?
The only area that I seemed to. know was that LAOTIAN KUNGSPAO SEASALT area. Never heard of TRIMSPAN. Looked into it. Anna Nicole Smith not only lost weight on it but I guess she also lost her life. Is that a PARADOX or what...
Like @Hartley, I didn't not know that ALI BABA went traipsing through the woods. I wanted Paul Bunyan or even Babe the Blue Ox.
Took a little walk outside because our weather is so gorgeous now, (hey, @Runs with Scissors, where are you in Ca.?) came back and re-grouped. I've never ever played Clue but I was so sure of AD SPACE and, well, SUSPECT sounds like a Clue sort of thing. Finally remembered that my favorite "Driving Miss Daisy" was set in Atlanta. How could I forget? I saw that movie about 10 times. So..little by little the puzzle opened up and I finished without a Google. Patience and time is your friend.
SIPPY CUP was my favorite. The APPLE of my EYE is our 10 month old granddaughter. Her little cup is her PET treasure.
LOST ART makes me sad. It's so prevalent now that nobody will every care or know the difference between him and he and her and she. Won't matter...unless you happen to be on Judge Judy. She'll correct your grammar. There's no such thing as "I borrowed him money."

Joe Dipinto 9:09 AM  

Extraneous clanguage (clue language) again today, like with Alan Alda yesterday. Did it help anyone get 7d to know that the automaker said -- excuse me, reportedly said -- "I make my cars to go, not to stop"? I'm surprised they didn't try to simulate an Italian accent: "Eh, I make-a my cars to go-a, not to stoppa!"

I hate these crap clues. Tell me, those of you who do the WSJ's and other publications' puzzles: do they attempt similar pseudo-clever stylings in their clues?

Bob Mills 9:10 AM  

For Nancy: I had "TRIMSYA" for the bygone weight loss pills. I figured if "TRUEDAT" was OK, then so is "TRIMSYA."

Linda Vale 9:12 AM  

This was a great crossword. Imo, one of the better ones so far this year. Possibly, Rex has some animus toward the constructor. Evidence shows that Rex glorifies the puzzles that are made by his friends. This puzzle deserves praise. Thank you Trenton Charlson!

Anonymous 9:15 AM  

It's iZombie, not "I, ZOMBIE"---you don't get it, and obviously have never seen this great show (clever, funny spin on a very tired subgenre).

DavidL 9:15 AM  

The review was too negative. (Shocking, I know.)

I thought this was a well-constructed puzzle with not much garbage and plenty of Friday-worthy tricky cluing and interesting answers. I was proud to finish below my Friday average.

Enjoyed clues and answers on SIPPYCUP, DOG BITE, DROPOUT, ACCRUAL, ADAM.

I learned a lot too -- the currency of Laos, that Anais Nin wrote erotica, that Verdi wrote an opera about Attila, the existence of "iZombie".

A college friend of mine who lived in China told me that when eating KUNG PAO dishes, they used to compete to see how many peanuts they could hold side-by-side between their chopsticks. I've been trying ever since. My personal record is one.

I never understood the fuss about words ending in "AE". They're totally legit, in my opinion.

Bravo, Trenton Charlson.

SouthsideJohnny 9:19 AM  

Fridays are pretty much out of my league, and this was no exception. I was able to make more progress than usual due to the minimal amount of abstruse references and other nonsensical trivia. It’s refreshing to see a couple of solver-friendly efforts strung together after the string of duds early in the week.

GHarris 9:19 AM  

Only a few gimmes (knew Dr. Ruth had to start with sex) so had to work hard and even with the assistance of my co-solver Auto check took me an hour to complete.

Nancy 9:28 AM  

@Lewis (6:25) -- What a fabulous clue!!! If the constructor sees it, he'll kick himself for not having come up with anything half that good.

@Loren (6:14) -- "Mining the cyberworld for a better dance partner." Beautifully put. And so true. I also lament the LOST ART of conversation and cringe when I see people behaving in the way you describe.

@Quasi (7:42)-- You're right. It really was a better world back in the day. 1. See paragraph above. And 2. The zombie culture that you describe. Thoroughly revolting. The clue didn't pass my breakfast test either.

@Hartley (8:09) -- I also had no idea that ALI BABA was a woodcutter. Like you, I didn't know there were any forests in his world. I thought his world was sand and camels and caravans.

Speedweeder 9:40 AM  

@BarbieBarbie: I think AMP has become a word unto itself; it has its own entry in Merriam-Webster. Like AUTO for automobile, I don't think it needs to be clued to indicate truncation.

Unknown 9:42 AM

puzzlehoarder 9:51 AM  

I did this last night and found that Eastern half of the puzzle to be very difficult. Putting in TURBINES at 33A was the single biggest reason. After a very prolonged struggle I finally reread the clue. Once TURBOJET was in place the NE finally opened up. FARE was a major road block. It was as if I'd never seen it as a verb. The PA of PARADOX was doing nothing for me but once SEXPERT went in PARADOX popped right up.

In the SE there were enough unknowns that putting in AORTAS had a very stymieing effect. Finally recognizing EYESPOT from the correct letters I had was the key to solving that section.

The final letter of ETTORE looked like it was going to be tough. I knew the clue for 29A was crossword 101 but for the longest time I couldn't remember why. One of these days I'll go over all those "keyboard" clues so they
don't look so foreign to me.

While I didn't go quite as far down the 40D clue's rabbit hole as @Lewis did, I vaguely recall considering something along the lines of WEDGIES.

The good news is that I got far more than the average amount of solving pleasure out of this puzzle. It just required some pain to get there.

pmdm 9:53 AM  

Just as Z is bothered by those who misuse "may" and "can," I (especially as an ex-OSHA inspector) grit my teeth when people switch "shall: and "will." And by the way, Z, I'd say Linda Vale's comment deserves a response. I thought that complaint had been put to rest.

Oh, and the puzzle. I liked it more than most themeless puzzles. It certainly did not bore me.

Nancy 10:22 AM  

@Bob Mills (9:10) -- Speaking seriously, not facetiously, about my TRIMS?A dilemma, I actually hesitated between writing in TRIM SPA and TRIMS YA -- both of which seemed like serious possibilities. I planned to include TRIMS YA in my 9:00 a.m. "list", with a funny aside. (Don't think I would have come up with anything as good as TRUE DAT, though.) Anyway, being me, I forgot. What was it that T.S Eliot said: Between the idea and the reality...Falls the shadow.

pabloinnh 10:24 AM  

To those of you thinking Ali Baba lived in a desert, I'm sure he would say, "Well, yeah, now!"

Also re the lost art of conversation and the smart phone, I see phones in the same way I see satellite dish tv--the object is not to see what's on, but what else is on.

nyc_lo 10:27 AM  

A nice puzzle, but oy vey, easy-medium?? I must have mixed up my vitamins with some stupid pills; took me longer than last Saturday’s or Sunday’s. I guess MRS Peacock is a thing some people know. But that makes two “Clue” clues in one puzzle? Seems like a theme that got tired and went home for a nap. Ignoring that and NOES, it was some nice, chewy fill but definitely fell on the challenging side for me. Now what did I do with those vitamins...

David 10:29 AM  

Really, @lms, why would I color you that?

Another bad start, putting Alabama at 1D. A Lo Start perhaps.

I don't really remember much of the solve, except it took longer than usual. I know about moon pie, but I don't know why. Had the Z and couldn't figure out for the life of me what single letter might come before zombie. Rebus for "Dr"? In any case he seems a bad apple.

Favorite answer, sysop. Because I am a geek as well as a nerd.

I'm usual fond of using original Greek or Latin plurals, but these two threw me, I suppose because I'm so used to seeing them with the "s" plural. I think this is the first time I've ever seen them otherwise. Double whammy. I presume constructors don't much care one way or the other and just use what works. But this *is* the New York Times, the paper of record. A few years ago they changed their style to eschew original Greek and Latin plurals and go with the "s" ending. Perhaps their puzzle should use the same constraint?

Noes does look weird.

Nice to see both Bugatti and MGs referenced. But I could never afford the former and prefer a Triumph over an MG.

CDilly52 10:36 AM  

ROFLMAO!! Erectspert has to be the word o’ the day! Thank you for my daily belly laugh.

CDilly52 10:42 AM  

That was exactly my final - and worst- trouble spot! Went through a very similar process once I determined that the diet pill was not Fenphen (which is really spelled Fenphenn, I gather).

jberg 10:47 AM  

Starting with 1A, I didn't get a thing until LOST ART at 17A. I've been hearing people say that about conversation since the 1950s -- and they probably were saying it before, I just wasn't old enough to notice. What they used to mean was that the kind of conversation the upper classes would have at dinner parties had faded away; nothing to do with smart phones. Probably in another generation hand gestures and facial expressions will have gone too, replaced by emojis.

I liked the puzzle more than @Rex -- very little trite fill, lots of tricksy clues, just right for a Friday. I was slowed up by putting in PLAYmATE, and even more by guessing Naacp from the N. TRIM-fit sounded vaguely familiar (turns out it's also a brand of weight-loss pill, so can you blame me?); TRIM SPA not at all, so that took awhile.

The thing about Latin plurals for body parts is that if you use them for one, you's better use them for the other one -- so I don't think Rex's complaint about that is valid.

@Loren, there you go again -- 4 photos of people I don't recognized. I should get out more.

JC66 10:50 AM  


Hint, they're all MGs.

TJS 10:51 AM  

Was holding "suspect" in mind for 3 down when I got to Mrs. Peacock and thought we had a themer. Started looking for scarlett,plum,etc. but not to be. I generally like long hard struggles on Friday and Saturday, but by the time I tried to finish off in the ME O just didn't think this was worth any more of my time.Radiodj,eXorbitant hubbub confirmed.

Anonymous 11:00 AM  

I enjoyed this puzzle, just challenging enough for a Friday. OFL must not have spent a lot of time down South; I first heard of this combination by listening to a song by NRBQ ("New Rhythm and Blues Quartet"), a fine old band. Here's a YouTube link:

Carola 11:02 AM  

My rating is 3/4 easy, 1/4 hard (the NE). For the "easy" part, I found I was helped a lot by my years of grid-filling: ANAIS, NAST, SYSOP, DATA SET, TRUE DAT, EYESPOT, NBCTV, AREOLAE, RAS. Unfortunately, none of those appeared in the NE. I had SAFARIS and IN A HAZE, but...TURBOwhat? PARAwhat? (@Birchbark, I kept circling back to PARAllaX, to see if an extra space had magically appeared), SEXwhat? (I actually considered SEXnERd). Finally, I saw that a ZOMBIE was likely to be involved, and, as the Internet says, "wallah!"

@puzzlehoarder - I hope your recovery is going well.

QuasiMojo 11:05 AM  

@Nancy, 9:28am. Thanks for agreeing. We often do see EYESPOT to EYESPOT. But I actually laughed at my earlier comment. I’m not sure most people would think those days with ATTILA were so rosy. Ha. Verdi’s day? Yeah, I’ll take it.

Klazzic 11:06 AM  

I am with you, Quasi, enough of the zombie crap in the NYTXW. Take all that rap artist dung to the landfill, as well. Found the puzzle today to be almost as simple as MOONPIE, though nearly ETTORE my hair out on that bit of esoteria. Enjoy your weekend, folks. I'm off to the gym to see my Flexpert.

Whatsername 11:23 AM  

For some reason, this puzzle seemed a bit off, like something was missing but I didn’t know what. Rex hit the nail on the head though - there are no long answers. It might lack pizzazz but it was definitely in the Challenging category for me. As he said, it’s a solid effort.

@LMS- “Mining the cyberworld for a better dance partner.” I will remember that the next time I’m sitting in a restaurant watching those sad couples who have nothing left to say to each other.

@GILL - I’ve probably seen driving Miss Daisy a few more times than you have, but I would not hesitate to watch it again if I found it while channel surfing. I love Jessica Tandy. Wasn’t she just the epitome of the grand old southern lady. And Morgan Freeman. What a phenomenal performance from a phenomenal actor. They don’t make em like that any more.

@Monte Boy - I had the same thoughts about that movie from yesterday’s puzzle. Frankenstein/Fronkensteen/Veektor. It’s not Legosi or Karloff who come to mind but the great Gene Wilder and Marty Feldman, the delightful Teri Garr, Madeline Kahn and Cloris Leachman. And of course the brilliance of Mel Brooks. The making of that movie must have been an absolute scream.

Anonymous 11:33 AM  

Puzzle fine. A little tough. It's okay to like a puzzle Rex and it's okay to not pretend every one is easy. If they are all easy, there's no point in you going on. Admit this was tough. Admit some are enjoyable and enjoy your life a little more. Please.

CDilly52 11:43 AM  

This is my favorite style of puzzle, crafted by a creative constructor who is gifted that special ability to misdirect. While the solve was well within my Friday parameters, it felt very difficult, particularly the SE. if it were t for KUNGPAO, I probably would have had a dnf. One of my favorite things about crosswords is their ability to evoke powerful memories with just a clue and answer.

Really enjoyed the peacock entries. Made me remember all the games of Clue in the deadly heat of August before central air. My “posse” (I actually think my Dad coined that term for one’s regular gaggle of cronies, with the potential to be nogoodniks) would play outside every Saturday until the heat became unbearable. We would then retire to my “clubhouse” in our basement’s former coal bin. A small closet-sized room with a door, it was large enough so that four or five of us could lie on the cool cement floor. One of the only cool places in the house, it became the pre-teen headquarters for hours of games or just daydreaming while we looked up at the sunlight coming through the opening left after the old coal chute had been removed. Dad replaced it with sort of a trap door so the area could still be accessed from outside. Why? No idea. But in order to be “admitted” to the clubhouse for the first time of the day, we each were “required” to get on our bellies and drop feet first into the basement. That was the rule. What is it with kids and rules? Today’s puzzle took me back to the coal bin.

We settled on Clue as the game du jour one particular summer-no idea why, although probably because we could never agree on which extra “rules” to use in Monopoly. Board games were a big deal, but after everyone had played and played we tended to augment the rules to make the game more difficult or funnier or both. Our main rule in Clue one long summer included the requirement that the one making the accusation had to do so in rhyme, and the quality of rhyme was adjudged either worthy or not. “Not” meant the slacker-poet was ordered to do some task for the rest of the group - usually scrounge something to eat from upstairs (never a difficult task if my gran was in charge). So, in honor of the memory and as a tribute to a wonderful puzzle, here’s an example of how one might have successfully won a game of Clue circa 1962:

Mrs. Peacock, always clever
disliked Professor Plum,
and decided she, his head to sever
intending to dispatch the bum.

She lured him to the Hall one night
planning therein to end his life,
But Lo! ‘‘Twas she died in the fight -
Professor Plum, the Hall, the knife!

Thus endeth my trip down memory lane today. What a wonderful puzzle that brought me back to a really easy and happy time. Happy weekend everyone!

Whatsername 11:55 AM  

@Mont Boy - Oops! Don’t know how I could forget the portrayer of the man himself, Peter Boyle who was a stitch and Gene Hackman, one of my all-time favorites.

Malsdemare 11:58 AM  

Y'all know what I'm going to say, right? It was hard, I fought it here and there, finally won, so it’s GOOD! I like SIPPYCUP, seeing one of my favorite former home cities ATLANTA, sort of knowing TRUEDAT (I don't care if it’s dated; it’s slang I'm too old to have grown up with so feel smug I knew it). I'm just a simple girl, Rex. A nice struggle, that I survived, is all I need.

Time to read what y'all have to say and then get to work.

RooMonster 12:03 PM  

Hey All !
Liked the three 7's crossing three 7's in each corner. Not easy to fill cleanly. Trenton ended up with nice non-dreck fill.

North tougher than South for me. NW, had zip for APP and ArizonA for ATLANTA messing me up. Had the correct ADSPACE and SUSPECT, but took them both out as I couldn't get anything else to work. Finally put them brain, saw NOES, then sussed out the rest. Always want to spell ATTILA wrong, as ATILLA.

NE was really pushing back. Wanted Tracy (as in Lords) for 9D. Har. The big hold-up there was having bigBlock off just the B, and not wanting to let it go. Took out correct LOBE, and when still couldn't get anything, reluctantly took out bigBlock, put LOBE back in and finally saw RADIODJ, helping to get TURBOJET, and the rest of the corner fell.

Still don't understand FARE as clued. Anyone?

We have a big Bass Pro Shop here in town, and they sell the MOON PIEs. Several flavors, as a matter of fact.

Had one of those pay once TV box things to avoid a monthly cable bill, when it worked it was great, bit box deteriorated quickly. Anyway, was able to get any TV show, commercial free, so I started to watch iZombie. It was a pretty cool show. I know the clue description makes it sound stupid and cheesy, but it was a decent show. Haven't seen any of the newer seasons.

BAD APPLE is a great Guns N Roses song.

Some corner mini-stories.


Fred Romagnolo 12:07 PM  

I am somewhat befuddled by the absence of outrage at the use of "true dat." Is it no longer offensive to use supposed Negro dialect? Can I now talk like Mammy in GWTW?

Banya 12:10 PM  

iZombie's season premiere was last night - so good timing!

Nancy 12:10 PM  

@Quasi (11:05)-- I'm certainly getting up there in age, but I'm happy to say I don't don't go all the way back to the days of ATTILA. If you do, Quasi, I fear you may be too old for me :)

@whatsername and @GILL -- What a wonderful movie. It's one of those very rare times when the movie version is just as great as the stage version. I saw the play off-B'way with Dana Ivey, who won the Obie that year, and I think Morgan Freeman may have been in that production. I was sure the movie wouldn't measure up and was delighted to be wrong. Jessica Tandy was a revelation. I haven't, like you guys, seen it 10+ times, but I'd absolutely watch it again if it came to a TV near me.

Nancy 12:27 PM  

@CDilly 52 (11:43) -- We were typing at the same time, but I HAD to come back for (yet, again) another post to tell you how much I loved your playing CLUE in the coal bin memories. Oh, how I wish I'd known you and your pals back then.

With the exception of 1)the lack of A/C and 2)the whole plunging-feet-first-into-the-coal-bin thing, I would have killed to have been there (pun intended). You show yourself to be an excellent poet, @CDilly, but I really think I could have given you a run for the money. I really do. And what enormous fun it would have been to try. Wonderfully interesting and enjoyable comment!

Runs with Scissors 12:30 PM  


I'm behind the Orange Curtain, a few miles from the house that Mickey built.

Anonymous 12:34 PM  

I'm hardly a Red Stater, but worked for one (Texan by rearing, RI by birth. gad). One of his favorite breakfast, which he claimed was preference among all people South, was RC and a Moon Pie. Dessert??? Not hardly.

Search, 'rc and a moonpie' for more information.

Whatsername 1:05 PM  

@CDilly52 - What a great story! It took me back as well. Reading it, I can almost smell the damp musty walls of your clubhouse. We had one of those hidey holes too but it was dark and spidery so I wouldn’t go near it. Still it was “cool” to hang with your posse in those days before central air, no matter where you did it. Good times.

jae 1:33 PM  

Easy. My only erasure was adorE before value, because I hadn’t read the 30 Rock clue yet.

ETTORE was a total WOE, fortunately I’ve seen TRUE DAT before.

Very smooth with a bit of sparkle, liked it.

Teedmn 1:40 PM  

I created my own sand traps today, one in the NW and one in the SE. I chipped my way out of them but time was awasting. I had to wedge my way into the grid with a MOON PIE, figuring that no one in the South would be serving Red Velvet Cake or sweet potato pie with RC Cola.

I'm not sure what went wrong in the SE. I had both CLAMS UP and ACCRUAL in and ended taking them out because... I did have @Nancy's DoCs at 56D and was wondering if the Peacock could be CBS' or ABC's logo because NBCTV was already sitting in the grid. Like @Gill I, I've never played Clue and everything I know about it is from crosswords. This didn't hurt me in the NW but MRS wasn't a gimme, nor was PERCY.

In the NW, I slapped in AlabamA for where Miss Daisy was setting, and when I came back to that area and saw TUCKS, I changed it to AugusTA, sigh.

Like @Gill I and @Hartley70, I was surprised to find ALI BABA in the woods. I mix him up in my mind with Aladdin and Sinbad so finding him at all is sometimes astonishing.

Lots to like here. I always enjoy Trenton Charlson's puzzles and this was no exception.

JC66 2:04 PM  


FARE thee well (have a good trip).

Anoa Bob 2:29 PM  

I grew up in the South, in Tennessee, and desserts were served pretty much after every evening meal, and not once in the 17 years before I took off to see the world do I remember being served a MOON PIE and R.C. Cola for dessert. Not once. Apple pie, peach cobbler, banana pudding, German chocolate cake, home-made ice cream, lemon meringue pie and goodies like that, yes, but MOON PIE? Not in our family and not in anyone else's that I knew of. "Hrrrumph, the very idea" I can hear my grandmother say.

@kitshef, yes, whether it's an English or a Greek or a Latin plural, the essence of a POC is the same. There is an increase in the letter count, and therefore the grid filling power of the entry, without a commensurate increase in interest or value of the word. AORTAE, for example, has 20% more grid fill capacity, than AORTA. Sure, it's a perfectly legit word, but the reason it's there is because it fills more space. "Look, up in the grid! It's expedient, it's gratuitous, it's a Plural Of Convenience!"

The increase in grid-fill POC winner today is NOES. That's a whopping 100% bump in space filled over the singular NO. Does it have a 100% increase in value or interest? MGS comes in second with a 50% increase.

Boy, the NYT xword has kicked it up a notch i edginess, what with the regular appearance of ASS in recent grids. I'm still trying to figure out how 24D SKIP ASS relates to SLOPE, as clued. Maybe Urban Dictionary can help in this matter.

JC66 2:42 PM  

@Anoa Bob

I'm not sure if you're kidding or not, but it's SKI PASS...what you need to "hit the slopes."

Anonymous 3:01 PM  

@cdilly, Genius!

Birchbark 3:16 PM  

@Teedmn (1:40) -- The next time I hit out of the sand, I'll be thinking about dessert.

@Carola (11:02) -- A secret space to make PARAllax work has some Thursday theme potential. Maybe a Galileo's-birthday tribute puzzle.

@Runs with Scissors (8:10) -- Manie thantes for the rant alert.

pabloinnh 5:04 PM  

Hey @Anoa Bob-one of my dearest friends here in the wilderness of NH is originally from Lookout Mountain, TN, and I have heard him discuss this particular dessert, so I confidently wrote in MOONPAH.

Ha ha, just kidding. Actually, you can buy a moon pie almost anywhere around here. If they're regional, it's a large region indeed.

Anonymous 5:31 PM  

Ha ha, just kidding. Actually, you can buy a moon pie almost anywhere around here. If they're regional, it's a large region indeed.

I grew up in your general vicinity, and never heard of a MOON PIE until I hit DC. So, off to the Wiki to settle the question. So, yes the device called MOON PIE is South specific, made in Tennessee. OTOH, the Wiki reminds me that the device I grew up with what was called a Scooter Pie. Basically the same thing, but made by others. (But Mother bought us Mallomars; creme to cracker ratio is much better.) Since I haven't partaken of such devices in decades, it might be that true MOON PIEs are now vended in both Blue states and their traditional Red states. But not as desserts. I suppose that the French might serve individual eclairs or the Italians individual cannolis, though. I once or twice ate at fancy restaurants, and there was a dessert cart with such. Never saw a MOON PIE on the cart next to the eclairs.

albatross shell 6:13 PM  

Everything from PERCY to BALLAD was a problem for me. Embarrassing, considering my handle here, it took a while to remember that ballads didn't have to be sung and Yesterday - a short pop song - also qualified. And even after filling in some
Some crosses and guessing ALIBABA only had a vague feeling it was correct. Double AE plurals didn't help. Then CODERED and BADAPPLE and I was on my way. But TRIM OF TRIMSPA and PERCY were not anything I knew. Spent way too much time to get any joy out of it. Maybe a blah sense of accomplishment, but no joy.

The rest of the puzzle wasn't easy but not as difficult. The only real hangup was the NE. I thought they were called tIPPYCUPS and FARE was what you paid to get on. Finally occurred to me FARE could mean get along, which could also mean get on, as long as you were not meaning boarding. If that was intentional misdirection it sure worked on me.
Also I had _ _START, so when the LO filled in I was left wondering what the heck is a LO START?
The puzzle was about two grades better than me.

Z 6:28 PM  


Quickie link posting lesson.
Replace the left bracket with the less than symbol and the right bracket with the greater than symbol, otherwise type it exactly, replacing the italicized part as described:
{a href="the url you want to link to"}the text that you want to appear{/a}

@pmdm - If “fine” and “solidly built” are going to elicit that response, why bother. Their mind is made up and no facts are going to sway them. I mean, I just flipped past Bill Kristol making the argument for impeachment and conviction and there are still people who think the Capo in Chief is doing fine.

@Fred Romagnolo - TRUE DAT has entered the vernacular, I think the New Orleans Saints Who dat? chant played a role. As an older white guy, I wouldn’t use it for exactly the reason you site except in very specific settings.

@JC66 - He’s definitely joking.

Preferred Customer 6:52 PM  

Regarding cyberspace and lost arts, I deplore the lost art of navigation. It seems people can't stop looking at the phone long enough to move through the world safely.

pabloinnh 6:59 PM  

@Nonymous 5:31

The local versions definitely do not show up on a dessert cart, but you can find them wrapped in cellophane next to a lot of cash registers in convenience stores and what we still call "country stores" and even the gas station/quick stop which has become ubiquitous. I also have seen the moon pie spinoffs with various fancy flavors, i. e., not moon pies.

"Scooter Pie", OTOH, is what I used to call my now large adult son when such a nickname would have been suitable. It seems to have spilled over onto my granddaughter. I never heard the origin of that, or have any idea of why I might have been using it, so thanks for the etyomology.

albatross shell 7:52 PM  

Thanks for the old new-to-me NRBQ.

CDilly52 7:54 PM  

FARE as in, “How did you FARE on the biology exam?”

CDilly52 7:55 PM  

Thanks Nancy! I enjoy you as well, and can tell that we are contemporaries.

Aketi 7:56 PM  

@Anoa Bob, good one.

Anonymous 9:05 PM  

So true on the "noes." When it's R.S.V.P., you know, French, how is it not "nons"

albatross shell 9:31 PM  

We have amish woopie pies here. I prefer the ones with vanilla cakes. The filling is vanilla, whipped egg whites, sugar and crisco. My favorite these days is the amish raisin bread with about a half-inch+ of frosting on top. Just butter and eat. Better is to take the frosting off, toast then butter and spread the frosting on as well. The mix of butter and frosting over the raisin bread is heavenly.

Jon R 3:40 PM  

Pretty good puzzle, but I couldn't get the SE at all. Too many Peacocks and references to things I've never heard of (TRIM SPA?). Killed myself trying to remember anything about Thomas the Tank Engine, which my daughter just adored 5 years ago...but alas nothing. Definitely did a face palm when I saw PERCY as the answer. Yes, he was a good friend indeed.

Burma Shave 10:29 AM  


will PET and then SKIPASS.


rondo 12:02 PM  

I started off in the wrong medium at 1a, confidently filling in AirtimE where ADSPACE belonged. That’ll slow things down. MOONPIE was the first correct thing to appear and the pace picked up a tad. Clean the rest of the way, but it took plenty of time, which is just fine.

I only know of MOONPIE by way of the late columnist turned comedian Lewis Grizzard. The bit:
A man walks into a place and orders a MOONPIE and an RC. The proprietor says, “You must be from Arkansas.”
Man: “Because I ordered a MOONPIE and an RC?”
Proprietor: “Of course!”
Man: “Well, sir, I’m seriously offended.”
Proprietor: “Why’s that?”
Man: “Well, if I came in and ordered a Polish sausage, would you assume I was from Poland?”
Proprietor: “Of course not!”
Man: “Well, if I came in and ordered French fries, would you assume I was from France?”
Proprietor: “Of course not!”
Man: “Well then why on earth do you assume I’m from Arkansas because I ordered a MOONPIE and an RC?”
Proprietor: “Because this is a hardware store.”

No sign of a yeah baby so any one of those gals in ZZ Top’s video for ‘LEGS’ is nominated.

I thought this puz FARE for Friday.

leftcoast 3:05 PM  

Easy in the South, tough in the North:

1D: Georgia>>Alabama>>>ATLANTA
1A: Ad slots>>AD SPACE
8A: TV shows>>SAFARIS
16A: In a hole>>IN A HAZE, and the winner...
18A: Paralax>>PARADOX


rainforest 4:09 PM  

Very good puzzle which I found challenging at first, but once I went down the East, it became more "mediumish". I thought the fill was delightful and the cluing appropriately Friday-level.

The terminal E on AORTAE was my last square filled in but it made sense for EYESPOT. I knew it was some kind of spot, even though I've never seen a peacock, except for MRS.

Things that were gimmes: ETTORE, NADIR, MGS, and KUNG PAO. They helped a bunch.

Learned something about ALI BABA. TRIMSPA came completely from crosses.
I really liked this one.

Diana,LIW 4:31 PM  

Close, but no cigar for me today.

Lady Di

spacecraft 9:14 PM  

If you don't know MOONPIE, you never watched "The Green Mile," in which Wild Bill buys one for a nickel so he can Animal-House blurt a mouthful into Brutal's face.


Great movie moments. I did this one in about five Rexes, not bad by my standards, so I'd concur on the easy-medium rating. DOD ADA Nicodemou can be my SEXPERT anytime. I liked it just fine, thank you, and am pleased to give it a birdie.

Anonymous 1:26 PM  

Like Loren didnt get started until moon pie. Filled in the complete west prior to much at all in the east. Worked that from south to north with radio dj (with a clever terminal j) and I zombie fitting into safaris and nadir. I hav to disagree with OFL on this one, I think it would be much more difficult to construct something of merit with a plethora of 7s and four 8s to work with. What it lacked in pizzazz it made up with in workmanlike efficiency. Surprised OFL did not chide for AHA but then again it was a necessary part of the corner as constructed.

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