Org with World Factbook / WED 9-4-19 / Extinct relative of ostrich / Detective show whose premiere episode was directed by Steven Spielberg / Genre introduced to Grammys in 1989 / Go Set Watchman setting

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Constructor: Patrick Blindauer

Relative difficulty: ha ha, apparently Easy, but my time was Medium-Challenging (4:44)

THEME: ice cream cones — three answers depict different cone orders: a SINGLE , DOUBLE, and TRIPLE SCOOP, consisting of some combination (I guess) of VANILLA, CHOCOLATE, and/or PISTACHIO

Theme answers:
  • OV (14D: Yum! This won't last long, though!)
  • OOV (31D: I bet these flavors taste great together!)
  • OOOV (56D: Wow! Look at the size of this thing!)
Word of the Day: MOA (30A: Extinct relative of an ostrich)
Moa were nine species (in six genera) of now-extinct flightless birds endemic to New Zealand. The two largest species, Dinornis robustus and Dinornis novaezelandiae, reached about 3.6 m (12 ft) in height with neck outstretched, and weighed about 230 kg (510 lb). It is estimated that, when Polynesians settled New Zealand circa 1280, the moa population was about 58,000.
MOA, Haast's Eagle, and me
Moa belong to the order Dinornithiformes, traditionally placed in the ratite group. However, their closest relatives have been found by genetic studies to be the flighted South American tinamous, once considered to be a sister group to ratites. The nine species of moa were the only wingless birds lacking even the vestigial wings that all other ratites have. They were the dominant herbivores in New Zealand's forest, shrubland, and subalpine ecosystems for thousands of years, and until the arrival of the Māori, were hunted only by Haast's eagle. Moa extinction occurred around 1300–1440 ±20 years, primarily due to overhunting by Māori. (wikipedia)
• • •

The constructor, depicted here at the
2014 ACPT with an imaginary MOA
Well, I see that lots of people are setting personal best times on this one, but I'm guessing they were fully awake. I solved this at 5am, first thing out of bed, and the whole gimmick just didn't compute, especially the cone pictures, which had clues, so ... I thought they should actually form words, especially since the Os kept seeming like they wanted to be the starts of OH or OOH or OOOH.  So my brain never fully grasped that those answers were supposed to look like cones. Also some stuff was just not for me. If you put "dog" in a clue for a three-letter answer that begins with "C" then I'm putting in CUR, that's just how that works. Ugh. Very much resent [Dirty *dog*] for CAD. I don't know the ranks of people in "Sound of Music" :( and despite knowing very well what a RABBLE is I couldn't see it to save my life, even with the "R" in place, so the NE corner alone had me flailing around badly.

Further, I can never remember who this MCKAY person is (even though I've said this before) (53D: Adam who directed "Vice" and "The Big Short"), and wow that is the weirdest CIA clue I've ever seen (43D: Org. with a World Factbook). Rest of the puzzle was indeed pretty easy, but the above issues caused me to come out very much on the slow end of things. Oh, the other thing I resent about this puzzle: PISTACHIO???? Yuck, what? That flavor seems very much not iconic (anymore?). Also, I had the CHI- at the end of it and figured it *had* to be some kind of CHIP. PISTACHIO is not a flavor I think of, ever, when I think of ice cream. So, again, 5am me just couldn't process this theme effectively. I love that the grid is wonky and asymmetrical, though I can't say I love the theme answer placement (random) or the cluing (either [See this, see that] or those cone clues. Cone answers look cool, but I don't like the cluing on them at all. Oh, and the clues on the flavors? I mean, look at them. [Ice cream flavor]. That's it. Three times. That's boring. Like a TRIPLE SCOOP cone in mid-summer, this was tasty but messy.

Other things that happen when you try to speed thru a puzzle at 5am: eyes got only as far as "Vladimir" in the clue 5D: Leader born Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov (LENIN), and I had the -IN, so I wrote in PUTIN. I read [Had a competition] at 47A: Had a conniption, so LOST IT took a few stabs. We've already gone over the whole CUR issue (in both these places, as with my first pass at PISTACHIO, the letters I had in place before looking at the clue really really misled me). Rest of the grid was pretty VANILLA. I knew the "COLUMBO" clue right off the bat (10D: Detective show whose premiere episode was directed by Steven Spielberg), so that really should've opened up that recalcitrant NE corner, but all it did was give me the "C" that made me think 10A: Dirty dog was CUR. Pah, bah, and pish. Good day.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Lewis 6:16 AM  

Perfect summer puzzle. I smiled at the scoops and cones; at the clues for IDLED, NFL, and EDISON; at the bonus ice cream clues for OREOS and TAN; at NUMB, which reminded me of a brain freeze; and at the overall playfulness of this cool puzzle. Thank you, Patrick, for brightening my day, and wishing all no drips and the groove of an OOOV today.

Loren Muse Smith 6:33 AM  

Yo, @M&A – I bet you gobbled this one up, what with its letter-art ice cream cones. You were my first thought when I saw what was going on. My next thought was the conniption fit Rex might have over the clues for the cone pictures.

Seeing Patrick Blindauer’s name at the top of the grid is just about as lovely as an ice cream cone. I love his puzzles. Cool that TRIPLE crosses SCOOP and that each ice cream cone picture crosses its flavor.

I was bleary-eyed as I started but sat up when I misread 4A as “midsize Nigerian.” Please note that the word in the clue is “midsize” and not “midsized. Yes.

CHASTE crosses SECTS. Just sayin’.

Loved the clue for NFL.

I was thinking that 48D would also be a themer because of its symmetrical placement, and I guess you could argue that ice cream is for some a kind of OPIATE. It sure makes me feel better. I’m currently on a Ben and Jerry’s Half Baked kick. Those little pieces of chewy fudge things are to die for.

I’m with @Lewis – perfect summer puzzle.

Hungry Mother 6:42 AM  

Very quick solve, faster than yesterday. Loved the theme and got some help from it. Now that vegan ice cream is getting popular, I’m back in the SCOOP game.

Small Town Blogger 6:56 AM  

Pistachio has always been my absolute favorite flavor of ice cream, so loved seeing it in the puzzle and not the dreaded (and expected) strawberry!

amyyanni 7:02 AM  

Ate up this puzzle! Good reminder that it's still summer.

OffTheGrid 7:16 AM  

@Rex. Haste makes waste.

4A--ALTIMA, by Nissan
4D--AVALON, by Toyota

Theme supportive food items to NOSH-GELATIN, TACO, ALFREDO, OREOS. To drink-MILLER, PORT.


beaglelover 7:17 AM  

Pistachio ice cream is delicious and a very popular flavor. You should get yourself triple cone today, Rex!

kitshef 7:18 AM  

Favorite error today was thinking Cop Rock might be the answer to the show directed by Spielberg. Not only did the initial CO work, but the final ‘K’ worked with my deKE (before PLOY).

When I was a lad, I was a big fan of the NBC Mystery Movie. McCloud, McMillan and Wife, and Columbo would take turns entertaining us. In later years, some other shows mixed in, most notably Quincy, ME. COLUMBO was, and remains, my favorite. As much as everything gets rebooted these days, I’m surprised no one has taken a shot at a new Columbo series. But how could anyone fill the Peter Falk role?

Interesting asymmetry both in the grid and the themer placement (SINGLE, DOUBLE, TRIPLE … OPIATE? SCOOP ... AORTA?)

three of clubs 7:21 AM  

Like the cones. But OMG! the sheer number of exclamation points! why is the puzzle screaming at me!? I can feel my heart racing!! Stop!

Ruth 7:22 AM  

I was sadly putting in CUR when that seemed to be what was developing in that spot, and was quite pleased that it turned out to be something else! My daughter has a sweet and lovely doggie whose breed is Blackmouth Cur, and we all feel sad and misunderstood every time the puzzle links CUR to some strongly negative connotation (and it comes up pretty often). I'll take a CAD any day! Thank you!

Ruth 7:26 AM  

I sadly started to enter CUR when that seemed to be what was required in that spot, and was quite pleased when it turned out to be something else! My daughter has a sweet and lovely doggie of the breed Blackmouth Cur, and we all feel she is unjustly maligned every time the puzzle links it to some vile connotation (which happens pretty often). I was happy to deal with a CAD instead!

albatross shell 7:29 AM  

Went down easier than Monday or Tuesday.  Together, the three total about right or slightly easy for all 3 days.  With apologies to non-sportsfans, I enjoy Ott ot Orr showing up once in a while. I miss them if they disappear for more than 5 months or so.
Did not think much of the clue for CIA,  but appreciate the effort. 

I enjoyed  the theme, liked the picture answers. I suspect many won't, but they do really look like cones.  Went out to the kitchen and had a dish of VANILLA with whip cream after I finished. Three small SCOOPs. Had cones, but then no whip cream. Would have had PISTACHIO if it was there.  Really enjoyed Monday Tuesday more. The theme and ice cream good. The rest so so. Nice trick of getting me to write lisT instead of CART.  EDISON was a quick double-think, but I think we have had it before. Columbo- who knew? Not me.

Nice puzzle for the end of commercial summer.

webwinger 7:42 AM  

Starting out I was shocked—shocked!—to find a two-letter answer, AND a symmetry violation, AND a nonsensical clue at 14D. Didn’t fully grok the theme until all the way down to the bottom. But I forgave in the end what I agree with @Lewis and @LMS turned out to be a delightful puzzle.

Had the same problems @Rex did with CAD/Cur and –CHI- in 55A. Also stuck for a while at 41A b/o the weird CIA clue, and I was convinced by then that the “treat” would be some kind of frozen confection. Finished in somewhat less than average Wednesday time.

Flew back to Chicago over the past long weekend to attend a memorial event for a friend I wish I had gotten to know better; learned a lot to like about him from the reminiscences that were shared. Almost an exact contemporary, just over 70. First time dealing with the loss of someone my own age that couldn’t be considered premature…

Elle54 7:53 AM  

Delicious puzzle!

David in Brevard 7:57 AM  

A very strange Wednesday offering, with a unique two letter answer, was this a first for NYT? Very fast here; 6 seconds slower than my best ever Wednesday and almost half as fast as yesterday’s foot dragger of a Tuesday!

Never heard of NIBLETS and had trouble remembering the old Nissan model at 4 Across; had ALTERA instead of ALTIMA and OVERACT instead of OVERDID which really messed me up in the beer aisle.

No long answers to admire, no great clueing and the only interesting fact related to COLUMBO!

Oh nice misdirect at 27 Across and that’s it! An interesting but short distraction in a broken night.

OffTheGrid 7:57 AM  

I like your phrase "commercial summer". I live in a very tourist heavy town in northern Michigan near Lake Michigan. For me the post Labor Day period is the best time of year. I certainly don't resent tourists (I was a tourist before I moved here) but it's more relaxed with the crowds gone and I love the fall weather. The fruits of fall make a good encore for the ice cream of summer.

Joe R. 8:00 AM  

If you’re going to put MCI in your puzzle, why the heck would you clue it as a Roman numeral when there’s a perfectly good clue for it??

Nancy 8:03 AM  

Those Vs were really puzzling me, but I finally figured it out on my own before coming here, They're CONES! Ice cream CONES! Come to think of it, they do sort of look like cones, don't they? Thing is: Don't you think that CONE should have been in the grid? Or is SCOOP good enough? Actually, it's not: You can have your scoops of ice cream in a small dish or cup and I often have. When they're served in a small dish or cup, you are a lot less likely to have CHOCOLATE or PISTACHIO dripping from your blouse or embedded in your lap.

I liked this theme. I figure that Will Shortz liked it too because he let the constructor get away with a two-letter answer. Has this ever happened before? All you crossword historians help me out.

Other than initially wondering what the OV and OOV and OOOV were all about, I found this puzzle extremely easy. But the gimmick was tasty and refreshing -- sort of like ice cream.

Anonymous 8:12 AM  

The ALTIMA may be old but is also very much alive today. I had a 2015, lovely car.

Suzie Q 8:14 AM  

Fun and easy with great visuals of the cones.
Different from the norm by bending the rules with a nice result.
And we even have some Star Wars and boy does that make my morning complete!

Nancy 8:15 AM  

Those Vs were really puzzling me, but I finally figured it out on my own before coming here, They're CONES! Ice cream CONES! Come to think of it, they do sort of look like cones, don't they? Thing is: Don't you think that CONE should have been in the grid? Or is SCOOP good enough? Actually, it's not: You can have your scoops of ice cream in a small dish or cup and I often have. When they're served in a small dish or cup, you are a lot less likely to have CHOCOLATE or PISTACHIO dripping from your blouse or embedded in your lap.

I liked this theme. I figure that Will Shortz liked it too because he let the constructor get away with a two-letter answer. Has this ever happened before? All you crossword historians help me out.

Other than initially wondering what the OV and OOV and OOOV were all about, I found this puzzle extremely easy. But the gimmick was tasty and refreshing -- sort of like ice cream.

Lewis 8:16 AM  

Hey @JoeD -- This puzzle calls for some Lovin Spoonful lyrics!

pabloinnh 8:22 AM  

Labor Day always meant the end of our summer season of renting cabins in NH and starting to move everything from our barn apartment back into our 1784 house whose downstairs had been dining rooms all summer and whose upstairs had been rooms for rent. Big closing party getting the waterfront in and things stripped and put away, with tennis on the side.

Labor Day now is a day not to drive.

Very fun puzzle once the ice cream cone thing became clear, but that made it pretty easy for a Wednesday.

Nice to see Frankie Avalon again. Hadn't thought of him in years.

Thanks for the fun, PB.

GILL I. 8:23 AM  

Neat little theme. Took me forever to figure out the cone design. I like that the VANILLA started at the front, the CHOCOLATE in the middle and the PISTACHIO at the end. Symmetry in motion?
The fill around it didn't make me sing, though. Lots of oldie moldy stuff.
I like ice cream...who doesn't? I like chocolate cherry/mint anything. Haven't had any on a cone in aeons. I used to bite the ends off and suck the goop out. I do that with a TACO as well.
Please don't give me any food that jiggles. I don't like it when my plate talks to me. GELATIN reminds me of the hospital and getting my sons tonsils out. Ice cream is better.

davidm 8:37 AM  

Oof! (not to be confused with OOV). I went from hating to loving this puzzle in — not one fell swoop, but, literally, one swell scoop.

I initially hated it because, first, I generally detest cross-cluing, particularly when the coffee has not yet kicked in; and, second, because I got OV, OOV, and OOV before I got any of the clarifying words: SINGLE, DOUBLE, AND TRIPLE. I had no idea what any of this was supposed to mean, though I did see that the puzzle was ice-cream themed.

Then I got SINGLE for one down, and the penny dropped — one swell scoop!

I immediately revisited 12 down, where I had the utterly opaque ROUBLE; I understood at once that this was because, like probably everyone, I had written CUR instead of CAD for 10 across. The fix made, TRIPLE and SCOOP followed apace, and the puzzle was done.

I think it very clever to use letters to depict images rather than words, and got to thinking: wouldn’t it be even more clever for a word to describe its own image, and the image to depict its own word? It would be, for example, as if “ice cream cone” were a single word, spelled OV, so that when you wrote it vertically, the word and image were the same.

ARE there any such words in the English language? And if so, is there a word to describe such word/image combos, which must be very rare, if they exist at all? I had never thought about it before!

So this puzzle not only delighted, but made me think of something I had never considered. What more could you ask of a puzzle, especially mid-week? *Off to hunt for word/image combos in English*

Nancy 8:37 AM  

Sorry for the duplication. When my 8:03 comment wasn't there in the batch that went up at 8:14, I re-submitted it. At 8:15, my original 8:03 comment mysteriously appeared. Followed in the blink of an eye by my re-submitted post, now with an 8:15 time attached to it.

Well, actually, don't think of it as a duplication. Think of it as a double scoop comment.

QuasiMojo 8:53 AM  

I scream for ice cream a lot. But I've never seen a cone shaped like that. More like one of those paper water cups of yore. The ones that stuck together and you pulled out five at a time.

Gelatin is a food ingredient, not a food. A taco is a treat? Nah. The Hatfields and McCoys were mortal enemies, not rivals.

Pistachio is not iconic, as Rex says, but where did it say it had to be? I happen to like Pistachio but only if it is made from real pistachios. And not dyed green. They serve it here where I live with CBD added. Yuck!

Even though I flew through this like a MOA on a skateboard, I never felt like I was enjoying it. Dull fill such as Overdid, Roadmap, Altima, and MCI as noted. But then I am rarely entertained by stunts of any type. This one was way too Vanilla and Chaste. No KINK.

Joe Dipinto 8:56 AM  

Rex, it would be funnier if you'd said " I put in PUTIN." (But only slightly.)

I love ice cream and I love Patrick Blindauer puzzles, so my reaction to this was
♪ Ice cream! He brought us ice cream!
Vanilla ice cream! Imagine that! ♪

For some reason I entered AVALON in the wrong direction, and then almost did it *again* somewhere else, so I thought I'd have a writeover-fest on my hands. But I caught on to the theme quickly and everything went down smoothly from that point.

30a in conjunction with the theme reminded me of an incident in high school when a bunch of us went to the nearby Baskin-Robbins after class. There were signs pushing something new they were offering called Moa Moa Fruit Punch. One of our group told the server he'd like to try it. So she asked him which size cup he wanted -- small, medium, large? He said "Oh no, I want it in a cone." She fixed him with a death glare and slowly said "It's a *DRINK*." The rest of us teased him mercilessly afterward, of course.

And Rex: PISTACHIO was and is one of the most iconic ice cream flavors ever.

♪ Wouldn't you agree
Baby you and me
Got a gr

y kind of l

e ♪

Zygotic 9:14 AM  

Post Labor Day placement just screams “I don’t want summer to end!” to me.

Same reaction as Rex to PISTACHIO. It seems like it was far more common and popular in my youth than it is today. I’m pretty sure I’m the only one in the family that would ever consciously choose it. Everyone else in the family likes ice cream with some sort of peanut butter flavor in it. Yuck.

The other problem with Cur is that it was “confirmed” by “unusual.” I briefly considered bud Costello, before COLUMBO helped me come to my senses. My only other writeover was starting to put in Valli but I stopped when I realized I needed more letters than Mr. Valli possessed.

@LMS - It’s BISECTS, which is a little kinky if you ask me. Of course, twice as many options at every party....

Joaquin 9:21 AM  

Gimmicky enough to be a Thursday puzzle and too easy for a Wednesday. But fun.

A Moderator 9:26 AM  

@Nancy and others - When we go in to approve comments they appear in reverse chronological order, and they may not all fit on the screen. That is the reason an 8:30 comment sometimes gets approved before an 8:00 comment. We are usually pretty quick, but have had to slow down lately because spellcasters (remember them?) are trying to sneak through.

Vanilla Forever 9:33 AM  

I am no expert in ice cream flavors, but it does seem (anecdotally) that Rex is right about PISTACHIO (see also: rum raisin). I only go to boutique-y ice cream shops these days, the kinds that infuse lavender in with their vanilla, or green tea, or bourbon, or some exotic salt, or etc. There are countless flavors these days, but there still remains the regulars: vanilla, chocolate, and/or strawberry. Granted, those flavors have been modified, but they are there. Strawberry seems to be a distant third, but the fruit family of flavors is still really popular.

Pistachio? I can't remember the last time I saw that flavored ice cream in my favorite stores. There are nut flavors, sure. Peanuts, walnuts, pecans...but the classic green pistachio is rare. Butter pecan, IIRC, is still relatively popular. Bubble gum (is that flavor even found in nature?) continues to be a thing...

That isn't to say pistachio ice cream isn't any good, nor is it any kind of direct insult to those who continue to eat it and think it's the "best" of all ice creams. Hey, I even like rum raisin. But I'd never buy a half-gallon or quart or pint of it. A little bit goes a long way.

I personally like vanilla because you can dress it up in so many ways. A flavor like vanilla can go with just about anything you throw at it and can adapt to your mood.

Dorothy Biggs 9:37 AM  

I latched onto the theme fairly quickly. This seemed like it ought to be a Thursday kind of theme since it was "unconventional."

The only hiccup was at the MOA/ALA crossing. I did not know "Go Set A Watchman" that -LA could have been anything as could the extinct bird. Thankfully I saw the theme there so I got the O easy enough.

Otherwise, pretty easy peasy lemon ice-creamy.

Masked and Anonymous 9:56 AM  

yo, @Muse - yep. Grid letter art was definitely on the table when we were discussin collusion on runtpuzs, back in Aug 2014.
Some walks down memory lane for U, on that:

… was Possum Wearing a Dunce Cap.

… was Cat Undergoing Brain Surgery.

… was Mountain View Seen from Across the Lake.

… was Snake Descending a Ladder (or Eloping).

… was Common Sight for Arnold Palmer.

And, of course last but not least:

… Triple-Scooped Treat.


Still say this was my fave:

… Cow on a Cold Morning.

Newboy 10:05 AM  

I’d like to like it more, but the clues were so obvious that I didn’t even see the cleverness of the OV, OOV, OOV, themers until I stopped in here. Only lisT before CART to erase since I hadn’t even read the down crosses which made it clear that I had LOST IT. Still, worth the brief solve time as Patrick LET (me) IN ON the Spielberg / COLUMBO factoid.

CDilly52 10:06 AM  

Well, count me in as a lover of PISTACHIO ice cream. But (shout out to @Quasi) only if it is real and not dyed some fake green color. My taste buds are color blind.

I guess I adore it because one year my mother made me a chocolate birthday cake with pistachio mousse between the layers and cream cheese frosting. Every year we got to order the flavor of cake/frosting. I love chocolate with plain white buttercream. She found the recipe and branched out. To create some drama (and probably to get exactly the reaction she received, she peeled loads of pistachios and placed them all around the top of the cake. Looked exactly like the dried peas she and Gran used to make one of my favorite ever foods - pea soup with lots of ham. So of course the cake comes to the table, candles ablaze (somewhere between 5 and 10, just can’t recall) and after extinguishing the candles, I complained loudly, I’m sure (that was pretty much me as a youngster, loud) - “Eeeeew!! Why did you put peas on my birthday cake?!?!?!” Then she cuts a slice and more green peas! For the 50s and 60s in Columbus Ohio, we were pretty adventurous eaters, at least by comparison with my peers. So, thinking I was going to “get her back” I picked several “peas” off the top of the cake and gobbled them down. Thus began my love affair with the PISTACHIO. I am crazy for them and all the middle eastern desserts full of them. So delicious. And cream cheese frosting? Life changing. My family just calls it “Carol’s cake” to this good day.

So a I fell right into the Cur/CAD trap and was blasting through the acrosses but came to a screeching halt at NUMB. Solved everything else in super quick time except that chunk of 22, 25, 28, 33A. The rest of the puzzle was easy and when I came back to the blank spot DECIMAL fell and gave me the rest.

I am an absolute fangirl of Patrick B’s work and thoroughly enjoyed this homage to ice cream. Especially liked the letter art depicting the scoops. Hopefully fall is coming; summer in central Oklahoma has been decidedly not OK. Hot hot hot hot!!! I need some pistachio ice cream, better yet gelato.

RooMonster 10:17 AM  

Hey All !
Where's the Tin Roof? Har. I like the Jammed variations of ice cream. The more stuff in there, the better! You'd be surprised how many people buy just plain VANILLA. In the supermarket world, the frozen foods department saying was 'If you're out of VANILLA, you're out of ice cream.'

enemy before RIVAL which messed up the little center section. Plus MOA a WOE, but got the A from ALA.

@Nancy, if that doubling happens, you can go back to one of your posts and hit the Delete Post button thingie.

No end to summer here in Las Vegas. Stays in the 100's pretty much all through September. Todays high is 107. So bring on the ice cream!

Speaking of which,cam I the only one who doesn't eat ice cream in the winter? I have a friend who says that's weird.

Nice to see PB2. It's been a while, no?

OOO> - OO> - O> - Gone!

puzzlehoarder 10:17 AM  

A very easy Wednesday. The solve time was identical to yesterday's down to the second. I found this more interesting than the theme.

Thank you to all who responded to my post yesterday concerning my nephew. You were all very kind.

The grid pattern today looks a bit like a figure. There's a mini virginity theme going on with CHASTE and LOSTIT on either side. Not much of an observation but as I said the theme did little for me.

jberg 10:27 AM  

This wheelhouse thing always surprises me. I taught political science for 45 years, and the CIA World Fact Book is the unquestioned standard reference book for information about different countries in a page or 2 per country. C.P. Snow bemoaned the gap between the sciences and the humanities, but now I think it's a gap between the humanities and the social sciences.

Similarly, PISTACHIO may not be as common as VANILLA, but it's certainly a well-known flavor (at least to me), all that is required for a puzzle. I do admit that I read the clue for 31D early, and kept looking for "Neapolitan" somewhere in the grid. I also made the same Cur error as everyone else, so I was looking at rOUBLE at 12D, and trying to remember some flavor that was distinctly Russian.

Random thought: is a PEARL a stone? Or can you be a birthstone without being a stone at all?

@Loren, If there's a way to blow up your avatars I can't figure it out -- clicking on it just gives me the same image on a large blank page. So I can't figure out whether those things in the upper left are jelly beans of shotgun shells. Probably doesn't matter, as I can't figure it out either way!

Anyone else have lisT before CART? For a moment I wondered if there was a Grammy for ska.

David 10:37 AM  

Yep, I had CUR as well.

Rex, it's well worth the 2.5 hour drive to get from your town to Bellvale Farms Creamery and have yourself some pistachio ice cream served in an old fashioned waffle cone which is, indeed @Quasi, shaped like a V. Just drive on down 17 to Chester and take Bellvale Road. Do it on your next trip to NYC why not? Bring a road map.

This was very fast for me, I guess partly because the ice cream flavors were all just standard. There is no substitute for Peter Falk, but Columbo still airs in NYC over one of the in-between stations (I think 9.4). I did not know Spielberg directed the first episode.

I'm surprised at the surprise the World Factbook brings up. It's a great resource to check if you're going to be traveling on an American passport to certain parts of the world.

Anomaly is a very nice word; this was a pretty fun but too-easy-for-Wednesday puzzle.

John Hoffman 10:41 AM  

Cute theme. For “Shopping aid,” I had LIST instead of CART. I have never heard of an MOA! So I failed when I put MOF. I figured that the book took place in FLA instead of ALA. So I made errors. But I still loved the puzzle.

Frog Prince Kisser 10:52 AM  

ONO, I LOSTIT and OVERDID on the ice cream - had more than a NOSH! But I really enjoyed it! Thanks much Mr. Blindauer!

Masked and Anonymous 10:53 AM  


@Muse, again;
Here's that old dusty collab runtpuz, from the vault:

Meanwhile, today's NYTPuz was a refreshin respit from stuff-at-end-of-themers week. Luved it like a close big cousin, of course.

staff weeject pick:

Thanx, Mr. Blindauer.

@Muse had suggested this primo gridart themer, back in the day:

… was Expectant Super Model. har

Chim cham 10:58 AM  

Remember the into with the flashlights?

GILL I. 11:04 AM  

@Joe D. You outdid yourself today. Thanks for the laugh!
@Moderators...Just want to re-add my thanks for all of your work. The spellcasters have found a way into my Email so I've had to disable the follow-up comments.
I have this sudden desire to go find some Bourbon and Corn Flake ice cream in a cone.

Joe Dipinto 11:10 AM  

Okay, @Lewis, this is for you -- with apologies to John Sebastian:

♪ Did you ever have to make up your mind?
Caramel or chocolate, or perhaps lemon-lime?
There's so many flavors and they all look sublime --
Did you ever have to make up your mind?

Sometimes you really want sorbet, the texture's amazin'
But then you get distracted by the tub of rum raisin
The girl says "Who's next?" That's you! You're still in a bind; she says
"I'll take the next person while you're making up your mind"

And then you bet you better finally decide
Go with the caramel and forget lemon-lime
There's too many choices, get the chocolate next time
Did you ever have to finally decide? ♪

Anonymous 11:14 AM  

that is the weirdest CIA clue I've ever seen (43D: Org. with a World Factbook).

not if you've ever spent some time in DC. it's on the desk/bookshelf of any informed person. well, at least before the Carrot Top Dictator, who prefers to make up his own facts. like, there's never been a Cat 5 hurricane. just 4 since he's been on the throne. one of which razed Puerto Rico, and it was all their fault. it will be instructive to see how much aid The Bahamas get from London and DC (they are mostly white people, you know). more than PR is my bet.

Anonymous 11:20 AM  

So much fun!

Klazzic 11:35 AM  


Triple scoop with a 🍒 on top.

Joseph M 11:43 AM  

This puzzle was a treat.

Took a while to switch from verbal to visual mode and see the ice cream cones. Then suddenly there they were.

Sweet clues for NFL, DECIMAL, and COLUMBO.

A few too many unwanted bits in the ice cream — MCI, CEO, OTT, CCS, AHA, etc — but I definitely look forward to MOA puzzles from Patrick Blindauer.

Anonymous 11:59 AM  

@anon 11:14 a.m.- Your knowledge of the demographics of the Bahamas rivals the President’s knowledge of hurricanes.

albatross shell 12:01 PM  

Yes, ice cream in winter, but seldom in cones.

albatross shell 12:13 PM  

@jberg 1027am
Oops, I guess the CIA clue was better than I imagined. Thanks for the info. I just thought they would have a several 100 pages on every country, and the clue was a lame attempt to misdirect to Information Please or The World Almanac, one of which was in my Christmas stocking for years.

QuasiMojo 12:13 PM  

@CDilly, great story about pistachios. Thanks for sharing.

Katherine 12:24 PM  

I literally just bought PISTACHIO OREOS last night at Fairway. They are great!

Crimson Devil 12:28 PM  

Very enjoyable end of summer puz.
If FRANKIE AVALON, can Annette be far behind?
ANOMALY excellent word.
Best clue: for NFL.

Bourbon Street 12:31 PM  

@kitshef: I agree with you that it would be difficult for anyone to fill Peter Falk’s shoes. Some characters are so associated with the actor that it’s impossible to conceive of anyone else playing the part. I remember Steve Martin (a very talented actor) failing miserably at Inspector Clouseau. There is only one Clouseau and he’s Peter Sellers.

Having graduated from Loyola U. Of Chicago, I put in RAmBLE rather than RABBLE even though it didn’t quite fit the clue. Then I couldn’t figure out what the heck a NImLET was, and why I hadn’t heard that term. When the lightbulb went on (NIBLET), I immediately slapped my forehead and blamed my school because it couldn’t possibly be my fault that I misread a clue. /s

I wanted to comment at length on the joys of PISTACHIO ice cream, but I now have two cats vying for my attention and therefore am reduced to one-handed typing.

Chip Hilton 1:00 PM  

Resenting PISTACHIO? Sigh . . . Rex says things that make him sound an awful lot like the Oval Office occupant he so despises.

Fast and fun. Mr. Blindauer always entertains.

jae 1:07 PM  

Easy-medium. Fun and delightful, liked it a bunch. Jeff gave it POW.

Teedmn 1:08 PM  

I had an average Wednesday time, even though I put the lisT before the CART, ALA @albatross shell and others. And with the last three letters of 55A in place, I was wondering what kind of ice cream flavor ended in oHIO.

Nothing else got in the way of my enjoyment of this puzzle. I adore ice cream but I rarely eat it - can't keep it in the freezer without bingeing. But I'm pretty much a VANILLA sort.

The ONES place and DECIMAL made me smile.

Patrick Blindauer, this is a great Wednesday puzzle, and so much easier than that 11 puzzle meta you created for Lollapuzzoola, which is still giving me fits!

ArtO 1:13 PM  

Fun puzzle. Tuesday and Wednesday mixed up this week.

Loved the single, double and triple scoop cones. More than made up for the two word shock.

"I scream you scream, we all scream for ice cream." (doesn't that date me!?)

pabloinnh 1:16 PM  

Clearly today's theme is inspirational, at least to those of Lovin' Spoonful fans.

So, with apologies to, or envy of JoeD, and without his musical notes--

What a day for an ice cream,
What a day for an ice cream guy,
And it's got to be ice cream,
Can't be bothered with no cake or pie,
And even when everything's running down my chin,
You can clean up my face but don't wipe off my grin,
Come grab some with me or I'll just go alone,
And bury myself in a triple dip ice cream cone....

Salty 1:33 PM  

This puzzle is a delight. Rex needs more coffee.

Everyone knows that it’s “Captain” von Trapp - though I always love how much Rex hates musicals.

Notice how each ice cream cone intersects one flavor? Gorgeous construction!

Pistachio is perfectly valid as a flavor. I was expecting strawberry, but it has no O or V to intersect the final cone. Also, the V in vanilla is left, the O in chocolate is center, and the O in pistachio is right. Kudos to the constructor!!!

old timer 1:35 PM  

@Joedapinto, you have done outdid yourself today! I'm a member of the Lovin' Spoonful generation, and their songs are etched into my brain. Though sometimes confuse with Simon and Garfunkel songs. What a great time it was for us to be young, with such great songsmiths (I'll add Robert Hunter and Jerry Garcia, since I lived in San Francisco in those years).

Pistachio was one of those weird flavors you would find at second-rate places like Thrifty, and also the flavor was ubiquitous in NYC. I was a Baskin-Robbins boy myself, and looked forward every year to that free cone on my birthday. (My loyalty has switched to Three Twins, these days, and if I do visit 31 Flavors, I like Very Berry Strawberry the best).

Loved the puzzle. And here in the Bay Area, September is the hottest and most summerlike month, so this was the right time for this challenge.

Bill L. 1:37 PM  

@Nancy – Try Patrick Merrell’s January 15, 2004 offering. You’ll need to print it out from the archive because the Across Lite (.puz) version has no clues.

Swagomatic 1:38 PM  

I never got scoop on the cone shapes. Fun puzzle, though.

Rug Crazy 1:44 PM  

HE must have been more than half asleep

xyz 1:48 PM  

PISTACHIO is my single favourite ice cream flavour. Not iconic? Sure, right. Actually the only non-disgusting Ben & Jerry's.

Good Lord there was a ton of crosswordese in this thing.

CIA World Factbook is one of the FINEST! references you can use. You can see how not-so-best-in-the-world USA Healthcare is among many other things.

Stupid little puzzle. Easy

Anonymous 2:05 PM  

@11:14 Anonymous
London and D.C. mostly white?

Are you freaking kidding me?

the true Anonymous - the one that has a clue

tea73 2:06 PM  

I don't think I can get bourbon and cornflake (aka Secret Breakfast) ice cream on this coast.

I thought there was a nice misdirect at 41 Across where I put cone before TACO. I also tried enemy before Riva.

My favorite flavor - coffee the more intense the better - was no where to be found.

Joe Dipinto 2:17 PM  

@Pablo -- VERY COOL!!!!! I love it! I know what I'll be whistling for the rest of the day. ;-)

Larry Wilkerson 2:19 PM  

Maybe I can get in this time ...

Joe Bleaux 2:28 PM  

I’m back! I’m really NOT a robot! I kinda enjoyed the ice-cream puzzle, although I didn’t recognize the vines at first.

Anonymous 2:33 PM  


well, the folks in power sure are, although the really rich DC folks live in Chevy Chase and Great Falls. lived in DC, and it's been taken back by the pale faces the last couple of decades. but, it will be instructive to see if London treats the Bahamas better than DC treats Puerto Rico. dontcha think? which damn gummint is more humane?

JC66 2:41 PM  

@Joe Bleaus

Welcome back!

Carola 2:45 PM  

I'll echo everyone who said "delightful" and "treat." Solving in the newspaper, I enjoyed embellishing the cones, making them the star attractions of the grid as they of course deserve to be.

Ice-cream been on my mind lately, as my favorite place to get a VANILLA V is closing next week. I believe @malsdemere has been there, too, and will appreciate the loss.

Anoa Bob 3:21 PM  

Anyone gain some weight after doing this puzzle?

There are some unusual aspects in this one. The first I noticed was the lack of any symmetry. And then the two-letter entry. And then the high-for-any-grid 42 black square count. That almost guarantees a slew of three-letter entries. Hard to breathe life into those.

But the the biggest ANOMALY of all for me was the very low letter S count. The frequency of the letter S is around 6% of all the letters in standard English text ( letter frequencies). I count 9 Ss in this grid out of 183 open squares. That's right at 5% of the total. It's rare to find an S frequency below 10% in a typical NYT grid and often it is even higher. Other than a few NIBLETS here and some OREOS there, this one is dang near POC (plural of convenience) free! Unheard of!

So I'll raise a glass of MILLER beer tonight in TRIBute to this PEARL of a puzzle. Might even have a PISTACHIO ALFREDO TACO.

Another friend of LMS. 4:33 PM  


pabloinnh 5:18 PM  


Hey thanks, my friend. Clearly the same sorts of things amuse us both.

And as it says (somewhere) in LOTR, praise from the praiseworthy is high praise indeed.


rosebud 5:23 PM  

I loved the theme once I figured it out...we discovered Graeters ice cream this summer and I have been enjoying single, double and triple scoops! I love pistachio ice cream and only wondered why spumoni wasn’t in the puzzle...

BillT 5:32 PM  

I don't see an issue with Symmetry, only cluing. An OPIATE is about the only thing that is more addicting than ice cream, and having too much might clog your AORTA.

bert 6:29 PM  

I guess I was the only one to natick at the 66A/58D crossing, ORc/MCcAY? Alrighty then.

Loved the theme, but the asymmetry at 14D wanted me to have all of the cones be asymmetrical, or have there be a fun joke or reveal with the black square above.

VictorS 7:04 PM  

If you go to the Chinatown ice cream factory in NYC they have great flavors like lychee black sesame almond cookie and longan (fruit similar to lychee). Then they have a section on the menu for exotic flavors -which they define as vanilla chocolate and strawberry

Anonymous 7:28 PM  

@Anoa Bob:

Made Fettuccini Alfredo w/chicken, mushrooms, basil, and shallot for din din. Didn't break either, which is an accomplishment. Send $5 and I'll tell you the secret.

Seth 10:20 PM  

OMG OMG OMG I beat Rex's time!! First time that's EVER happened. And it'll never happen again.

Jeremy 11:29 PM  

I adored this puzzle. Love pistachio ice cream (and gelato, and macarons, but not Oreos), follow Adam McKay on Twitter (but I might have him muted) and I’ve used the CIA World Facebook a bunch, with gratefulness it exists. Oh, and I saw the 1, 2, and 3 scoops pretty early in my solve.

It still took me much longer than Rex to finish, but by my norms it was a relatively easy and enjoyable solve. That’s part of the joy of this thing: we all are different and it makes every crossword different for every solver.

a.corn 12:16 AM  

If you’re calling gelato ice cream, then pistachio is huge.

spacecraft 11:27 AM  

Well, this one was a jarring ANOMALY, for sure. Asymmetry and a "wee-weject!" There had to be a good reason for that--and turns out, there was. I found myself in the middle of a Pictionary game while doing this. BTW, I was doing the downs in the NE, including the above-mentioned ANOMALY, so the CAD/Cur thing didn't happen here. That area was slapped down forthwith, as was the case all around.

I liked the concept, though the fill suffered from it. Loaded with PPPs, plus the old RRN. Learned a fascinating fact about the Iranian flag. After being set up with VANILLA and CHOCOLATE, I was surprised with PISTACHIO at the bottom. That gets rid of Neapolitan! DOD is Janis Joplin, lovingly nicknamed PEARL on her posthumous album. Birdie.

Burma Shave 11:32 AM  


That SAP COLUMBO was CHASTE, so OVERDID the effects
At an EVENT so disgraced, when LETINON BISECTS.


leftcoast 3:14 PM  

Monday and Tuesday were tougher than this one -- Except, what are those V's about in the the three sizes of the SCOOPS?

One of them, OV, is an odd-ball two-letter answer. (Thought they were ruled out.) Went elsewhere to find that the V's are supposed to represent cones under the SCOOPS. What? Okay.

That didn't necessarily make the puzzle tougher, though. It made it seem a bit dumb. And the several cross-references made the solve a bit annoying.

Sitting back and looking at the whole thing, though, have to say I like the flavors

rondo 8:09 PM  

V is a TRIPLE SCOOP, huh? Kinda dumb and 26 threes (and a two) if I remember the count from this A.M. Save the gimmicKs for Thursday.

@spacey - good call on PEARL. Yeah baby.

As they say on ORK "Nanu, nanu"

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