Early capital of Alaska / WED 4-19-17 / 1917 dethronee / Salutation among Winnie Pooh friends / Log painted deceptively to look like cannon / Fly spurn thee Shelley

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Constructor: Emanuel Ax and Brad Wilber

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging


THEME: NOTE (52D: Word that can follow the ends of 20- and 54-Across and 4- And 26-Down) — also, the black squares make a kind of note symbol in the middle of the grid

Theme answers:
  • MONSTER MASH (20A: Classic song with the lyric "Whatever happened to my Transylvania twist?")
  • SAWED IN HALF (54A: Like some magicians' assistants, apparently)
  • RUNNER'S HIGH (26D: Exercise-induced euphoria)
  • WHISKEY SOUR (4D: Drink often garnished with a cherry) 
Word of the Day: VICUÑA (42A: Andean animal with expensive wool)
The vicuña (Vicugna vicugna) or vicugna (both /vɪˈknjə/) is one of two wild South American camelids which live in the high alpine areas of the Andes, the other being the guanaco. It is a relative of the llama, and is now believed to be the wild ancestor of domesticated alpacas, which are raised for their coats. Vicuñas produce small amounts of extremely fine wool, which is very expensive because the animal can only be shorn every three years, and has to be caught from the wild. When knitted together, the product of the vicuña's wool is very soft and warm. The Inca valued vicuñas highly for their wool, and it was against the law for anyone but royalty to wear vicuña garments; today the vicuña is the national animal of Peru and appears in the Peruvian coat of arms. (wikipedia)
• • •

A strange and rough enterprise. Strange because the theme is so rudimentary ("word that can follow" with a mere one-word revealer) I didn't know this theme type was even accepted any more. Usually you gotta do something extra to make a "word that can follow" theme fly in the NYT these days. Maybe the picture of the "note" in the middle of the grid was considered that something "extra." Since it relates not at all to the solving experience, it doesn't seem enough for me (though putting the "note" there is a nice little bit of superficial flare). Also strange—there's hardly anything musical about the puzzle. I  expected more. PLAY AREA gets a jokey piano clue (32A: What the keys are to a pianist?), but there's not much else. Then there's the strange grid—caused by the "note" structure—which is not-at-all-symmetrical (not a fault, just a feature).

["classic" ... but completely unknown to me]

But then there's the rough: namely, the frame of reference (way way before and to the side of my time—too bad for me) and the truly wincey fill, especially in what we'll call the "compromised corners" (NW, SE). Why "compromised"? Well, take out everything but the themers and you'll see. You've got tight corners that come pre-packed with theme material in the Across *and* Down. This is what can happen when you try to get slick and cross your themers. So the NW is a disaster. Like, a throw-it-out, no-way, not-gonna-submit-this disaster. "A CENT" (?) x/w "ERE I" (!?!?) is an automatic DQ, sorry, thanks for playing. I can handle a French king and a bygone Alaskan capital, but not not not when they're (monster) mashed together with ACENT and EREI. The SE is less bad (it would almost have to be) but still rough, with yet Another partial (A FATE—at least that one was easily gettable) and the partial N.CAR. and the semi-ridiculous HALLO. If either the theme or the fill in other places had been stronger, the corners wouldn't have stood out so badly.

["... HALLO!?"]

I did love the longer Downs. I love WHISKEY SOURs and remember and hope to re-achieve soon RUNNER'S HIGH. I've been to a conference in ABERDEEN (lovely) and, I mean, GRETA GARBO is GRETA GARBO, so no problem there. Do you curtsy with "TADA"?! (21D: Cry before curtsying or taking a bow). Seems like there are at least two intervening things between the cry and the curtsy, so "before" is technically accurate but leaves out a lot. That threw me badly. The use of "feud" to describe SHIA / Sunni relations ... I don't know. Seems flippant. They're not the Hatfields and McCoys or Joan Crawford and Bette Davis. DAYMARE is a preposterous concept. Inferrable, but preposterous. Just try telling someone you had a DAYMARE and see how seriously they take you.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]

106 comments:

Anonymous 7:38 AM  

Anybody remember that awesome puz Mike Sharp did for the NYT? Me neither.

evil doug 7:40 AM  

Don't much care about the celebrity angle, but this collaboration produced a lovely, lively puzzle all the same.

The theme stuff, and the note symbol? They're fine. But it's the other stuff that really shines.

Check out the longitudes: ANECDOTAL, WHISKEY SOUR, GRETA GARBO, QUAKER GUN (? Okay, if you say so), ABERDEEN, NORMA RAE, HALLO, ODORS, STEMS (nicely clued), JAKE (likewise), I LIED, MALAWI, SEISM, SWEAT....

The west to east Jetstream is rife with high flying wordcraft, too: VICUNA, SAWED IN HALF (wonderfully vivid), ANNULS, DAYMARE, SITKA (who knew?), the courageous vault of an injured KERRI Strug, a new twist for RUNS, the brilliant, died-too-young OTIS Redding and Bobby "Boris" Pickett's classic MONSTER MASH.

Nice going, boys.

Old Lady 7:44 AM  

I too expected more when I saw Emanuel Ax and was excited because classical music is definitely an area to which I am far more attuned (pun intended) than sports, celebrity trivia, and texting language. Nonetheless, found it easy-medium for a Wednesday.

Loren Muse Smith 7:46 AM  

I agree with @ED’s take, except that I like that some of our heavy-hitter constructors are teaming up with famous people, famous people who regularly solve the NYT puzzle. Here’s our celebrity pianist today.

(David Sedaris famously does the puzzle. Here’s hoping…)

Ok. I bet I’m not alone with having to ditch “alpaca” for VICUNA. Hah. Now I have a ridiculous mondegreen earworm, Vicuna Matata.

I had trouble with the JAKE/JANUS cross. Don’t really use JAKE that way. And “Two-faced.” I don’t know from Greek mythology and a cursory sniff in google yielded nothing. Did he just have two faces, or was he a real back-stabber, deceitful? I do believe JANUS had a son, Hugh, who was in fact quite a big jerk.

(Speaking of Greek – octopi came up yesterday in class, and I delighted in schooling the kids in the “proper” plural. They didn’t believe me. I googled it, found this video, and was stunned to hear that octopodes has four syllables, with the emphasis on the second syllable. In retrospect, I realize that of course it’s pronounced this way. Duh. This just really amps up the whole deal, and I’m determined to casually slip it into a conversation. Man, I’m tired. I had a nightmare that three octopodes were chasing me around, trying to pour 24 whiskey sours in my ear.)

Lots of highbrow and not-so-highbrow stuff today. Bet you won’t catch Brad watching a Steven Segal movie as he reads Nevada Barr. That’s my aegis. No, Brad’ll be reading Fitzgerald or Shelley with the original La Cage aux Folles on in the background. Probably won’t even need the damn subtitles.

Anyhoo – fine, straightforward puzzle. I liked the picture of the NOTE and liked wondering what the themers would be. GORDON LIGHTFOOT, BYE BYE LOVE, WAIT AND SEE, GO OFF THE DEEP END… Oh – and we got a two-fer with WHISKEY SOUR. Cool.

Lewis 7:50 AM  

Much that I love here. That theme answers cross twice, and if you color them in, it almost looks like a musical "natural" symbol. That I learned MASH note and QUAKER-GUN. Some lovely non-theme answers (ANECDOTE, DAYMARE). That the abbreviation for the state the Nascar Hall Of Fame is in (NCAR) looks like the abbreviation for "Nascar" itself. That the puzzle has a RUNS out and an EKE out. That STEMS echoes the theme, as they can be found on musical notes. And that cute visual of the theme, in the middle, to look at all along.

All in all, a Wednesday of note.

Johnny 8:04 AM  


AGLET! I love the word AGLET. When I started doing the NYTimes puzzle 20 years ago AGLET was one of the first strange crosswordese words I learned. I never knew there was a name for the end of a shoelace before that.

Also, @Evil Doug, you seem to think QUAKER GUNS is some sort of made-up term, but it isn't. Confederate defenders repeatedly fooled Gen George McClellen with QUAKER GUNS in their fortififications, and McClellen was always convinced he was up against far more forces than there really were, which contributed to his seeming inability to ever launch an attack.

evil doug 8:11 AM  

Aware of the concept. Just didn't know the term.

r.alphbunker 8:13 AM  

I thought the vocabulary in this one was excellent. QUAKER GUN alone made the solve worthwhile.

Details are here.

Rhino 8:14 AM  

I hated this one, but I'll admit 95% of that is the JANUS/JAKE crossing. Wednesday DNFs make me angry. (But this lovely blueberry donut I'm having for breakfast is helping me feel better.)

kitshef 8:14 AM  

Bit of a mixed bag. I really liked all the long answers, and I am very grateful that we did not get a puzzle loaded with music obscurities.

The fill was pretty good - I didn't mind the NW but the SE was grim, the worst being I LIED next to A FATE.

But of course theme trumps fill, and as far as the theme goes:
Is that all there is? Is that all there is?
If that's all there is my friends, then let's keep dancing.
Let's break out the booze and have a ball,
If that's all there is.

John Child 8:20 AM  

SOUR MASH, HALF HIGH. Sounds like junior year in high school. I accept the previously-owned theme idea as part of giving a world-class musician an entrée as a celebrity constructor. I'm less sure about the grid art. If the fill could have been better with a conventional grid then I would have preferred that.

QUAKER GUNS definitely a win. A thumb and a half up.

gcedwards10 8:24 AM  

Odd no mention by Rex of Emanuel Ax, wonder if he missed it. Agree this would be a pretty weak puzzle with an underdeveloped theme by any professional constructor, but ii assume it was deemed acceptable precisely because it's from Ax.

Aketi 8:28 AM  

Thankfully OTIS set me straight when I garbled Betty Gable with GRETA GARBO and created GRETA GaBLE.

Still waiting for the day I experience a RUNNERS HIGH. To date, no amount of running has led me to that experience, I only get the HIGH when I stop running or when I decide not to run or when I do some other aerobic exercise such as Martial Arts or skiing. My orthopedic surgeon wrote down when I can resume activities post surgery. I'm eyeing the two month post surgery box where it says I can "resume running". My immediate thought was "do I have to?"

Nancy 8:30 AM  

Lively and enjoyable, despite a bit more in the way of proper names than I normally like. And quite "crunchy" for a Wednesday. I figured the clever 32A clue/answer PLAY AREA was the part of the puzzle either done for or by Emanuel Ax. Only after finishing the puzzle, did I realize that the entire theme was music-related. Or at least three out of four theme answers. HALF NOTE, HIGH NOTE and SOUR NOTE (my favorite) fit adorably. MASH NOTE not so much. But the whole thing is playful and breezy and I had quite a bit of fun.

I didn't remember that NORMA RAE lost Best Picture to "Kramer Vs. Kramer." One of the great injustices in the annals of the Academy Awards, I'd say. I adored the former and thought the latter was greatly overrated. (Many here will completely disagree, I'm quite sure.)

Aketi 8:30 AM  

You know I think a WHISKEY SOUR might go quite well with a Crème Brûlée DONUT for dessert.

Anonymous 8:34 AM  

So much of this is old and bad. PLAY AREA? Maybe a basketball court or a jungle gym but certainly not a piano.

Z 8:38 AM  

Agree with @Evil Doug about the good stuff and I agree with OFL about the bad stuff. Look at the SW corner, all the crosses are overused to the point of being cliché. I'm also with OFL on the "way before and to the side" description. That's not a complaint, just an observation. Fitzgerald, Thurber, Nevada BARR, NORMA RAE, MANGIA (me: MANGer is French, what would the Italian be?), VICUÑA, all fit one or the other descriptor.

I just saw an article pointing out that Sunni and SHI'A have a long history of peaceful coexistence and the recent religious "FEUD" is really a fight between extremists. I am loath to call a crossword clue "wrong," but in this case the clue is wrong.

@Anonymous7:38 - I do. They were good. I also remember his decision to not submit to the NYTX anymore for reasons never stated here. If you happen to have an online subscription you could find those puzzles and solve them yourself. Or you could just fuck off.

Tim Pierce 8:40 AM  

UV RAY as a singular? No. That is not a thing.

Anonymous 8:41 AM  

Ridiculous number of trivia and non-celebrity persons. Just gave up.

QuasiMojo 8:50 AM  

Way to ICE AX, Rex! Welcome to a great pianist. Despite some clunkers, I thought this was a solid Wednesday puzzle. Some colorful answers: "Whiskey Sour" "Janus" "Mangia" "Vicuna" (BTW, that's what William Holden was urged to buy in 'Sunset Boulevard'); "Sawed in Half" "anecdotal." "Has a Nip."

I did find "Shia" for FEUD very off-putting considering they are killing each other. At first I thought it must be Shia LeBeouf and some actor he hates. Nicolas Cage? (Oh wait, that's me.)

Which reminds me @Nancy, very few people liked Kramer Vs. Kramer but Dustin Hoffman was on his "can-do-no-wrong" kick. It did introduce me to Meryl Streep however, playing a lesbian. And that brings me to "DRAG SHOW" and "La Cage aux Folles." Many full moons ago I went to a very lively drag show in the South of France and it was exactly like the one in the movie. Fabuleux! Vive les reines! Turns out it was Cinéma vérité.

Hartley70 8:55 AM  

TADA....I really enjoyed today's puzzle. I finished in my average time so the difficulty level was spot on, but I thought the fill and long answers were fresh as can be.

QUAKERSGUN was fantastic. I have never heard of FILE or JAKE. SITKA and DAYMARE and PLAYAREA were surprises. I fell for alpaca before VICUÑA. ILIED made me laugh.

RHODE and WHISKEYSOUR have personal significance. One because it'll always be home and the locale of many good times, and the other because it was the source of a very very bad time. Too many WHISKEYSOURS were my first and only drunk when I arrived in NYS as an 18 year old. I had to hold my hand on the wall all night to stop the bed from spinning and I have never contemplated downing a SOUR cocktail again.

I have to confess. I was a fan of this puzzle before I realized there was a note in the center. I had completed the puzzle without reading the reveal or tapping the info icon for the constructors. Once I saw that, it became icing on the cake, or better yet, two baguettes cradling a princess cut diamond.

Jersey John 8:56 AM  

You know, I had a DAYMARE just last week. I imagined that Rex did a blog on my life and he kept saying "This fill is just terrible!"

Tita A 8:57 AM  


Puzzle was fine, though I could not guess the theme until I had filled in the revealer. The back story over at Wordplay is interesting. AboutMr. Wilbur as much as Mr. Ax. But no mention of the squabble over putting AXE in the puzzle.

@Johnny...I had that little happy jolt of nostalgia at AGLET too!

We have a restaurant up the road a ways called MANGIA MANGIA!, and yet that answer took me forever.
If I ever get chickens, I want a RHODE Island Red.

@lms...thanks for the Ax link. Makes me want to dust off the old keyboard and try again to teach myself. What a fine talent. And I like that he looks like the shop teacher and/or the baseball coach. Nice juxtaposition.

@Nancy... disagree with you only in granting any importance at all to Academy Awards. Or any other awards that are nothing more than everybody patting each other on the back and expecting everyone else to care. Oh the banality! The Academy is the best at the marketing of the whole spectacle, but oh man...get over yourselves allready!

Thanks for a nice puzzle. So far, Mr. Ax and Mr. DeGrasse-Tyson are my favorites in the celebrity lineup, being people I admire.

Anonymous 9:07 AM  

Allah Akbar

Hungry Mother 9:07 AM  

My time was medium, but I had a mighty struggle with the NW. Very rewarding to get this one.

Nancy 9:08 AM  

@Aketi (8:28) -- I just love your RUNNER'S HIGH comment today and we're on the exact same page. You get your athletic highs from martial arts and skiing. And I got the highest of athletic highs from tennis. Running? Phooey. You put one foot in front of you and push yourself onwards until everything from the waist down hurts. And if it doesn't hurt today, it certainly will tomorrow. I call it RUNNER'S LOW.

When I was in my late 20s or early 30s, I was on the Reservoir track wearing my electric-blue Adidas running shoes, only for me, they were walking shoes. (My tennis shoes were in my locker at the Central Park clubhouse.) A grizzled old timer decided to chat me up. "I see you're a runner," he said, pointing at my shoes. "No", I said, "I'm a tennis player. I tried running once, and I had shooting pains from my arches to my thighs for the next 72 hours. And I had run no more than an eighth of a mile maximum, I'm quite sure." "Oh, that's to be expected." he said. "Everyone has pain when they start running. You just have to be willing to get through your pain threshold."

"Forgive me, sir," I said, "but I don't even want to be introduced to my pain threshold!"

Charles Flaster 9:11 AM  

Medium due to keeping HAS A sIP for a long while. HAS A NIP cleaned up the middle right and readily enabled me to finish.
Favorite clues were
MANGIA
PLAY AREA.
CROSSWORDease-- AGLET( of course).
If you have never achieved a RUNNER'S HIGH, stop now ( running AINT worth it).
Walking and swimming are much more productive.
Thanks to EA for his debut and thanks BW

Nate 9:11 AM  

There were some nice things in this puzzle, namely SAWED IN HALF, but man on man did this puzzle skew old. Incredibly old. I'm 30 and half of this puzzle was a total mystery to me. Who in the world is James Thurber?

Dave B 9:12 AM  

Nobody is bothered by SASE for (I assume) Self-Addressed Stamped Envelope?

Bill Feeney 9:14 AM  

Spoiler alert! Pettiness ahead. NASCAR is never Nascar. Always NASCAR. @ LMS I think I spotted Hugh Janus on the subway refusing to give up his seat to an older lady.

Cleared2Land 9:18 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous 9:19 AM  

Rex,

Is it appropriate to allow some to say F off?
Seems to me that's beyond uncivil.

How about it regulars? Does that response seem reasonable?

1820 Stone Colonial House 9:25 AM  

Dnf'd at the PREV VICUÑA cross with PREt tICUNA. I imagined TICUNA to be an expensive luxury fabric brand. Press release: "President Trump stood out from the other robber barons in his PRETernarural TICUNA sport jacket from the IVANKA FOR MEN Fall Line."

chefbea 9:34 AM  

too tough for me. Got the note and all the piano related things - but what in the world is a mash note??? Guess I'll google it

Moly Shu 9:34 AM  

Ok, I'll bite. Who in the &$?@ is Emanuel Ax, and what in the &@?$ is a MASH note? And don't get me started on that whole RUNNERS, GUN, FILE area. Not only was this outside my wheelhouse, I'm now starting to question if I even have a wheelhouse.
@LMS, Hugh JANUS. My inner Beavis and Butthead just went ballistic. Heh-heh-heh

BarbieBarbie 9:47 AM  

Two-faced may not turn up Janus, but try Janus-faced. Very common. Some well-know sculptural renderings too. I liked this puzzle and had so many do-overs that I agree with the rating. Deep sigh of satisfaction. Yeah, hand up for ALPACA.

BarbieBarbie 9:49 AM  

Oh and I think a mash note is a crush-y fan letter type of thing.

Aketi 9:53 AM  

@Charles Flaster, since I have never achieved a RUNNERS HIGH does that mean I can't stop yet? That thought makes me want to have a WHISKEY SOUR with my Crème Brûlée DONUT for breakfast after I finish my coffee.

@Nancy, I never watch the Academy Awards and had totally forgotten Kramer versus Kramer. Not so NORMA RAE. It came out around the time when one of my many varied "work my way through college" jobs was as a cook in a restaurant. Fortunately, that mostly meant food prep since I am not really much of a cook. The restaurant owners started bouncing checks, so the restaurant workers union saw an opportunity and helped us strike. We felt inspired by the movie, but I have to say that much of the rhetoric from the restaurant owners and the union at that time remind me of the hyperbole that dominates some of social media memes about politics. Our paychecks did bounce, but the working conditions were not "sweatshop" conditions. I did eventually get my paycheck but by then I was offered more hour the other job down the street as a bank teller and never took a job as a restaurant cook again.

Stanley Hudson 10:08 AM  

Emanuel Ax: Bold as Love.

@Anonymous 9:19, if you don't dig "fuck off" you can always opt for "piss off"

relicofthe60s 10:09 AM  

Emmanuel Ax is not an obscure rapper or an actor in a dumb TV comedy, so Rex might not have heard of him. The best thing about this was learning from the Wordplay blog that Ax asked Brad Wilber to call him "Manny."

John Child 10:12 AM  

@anony, sometimes telling someone to fuck off is appropriate. But I promise you that if you adopt an identity, hang out here for a while, and read and comment with good intent that you will get a much better reception than that.

Anonymous 10:15 AM  

Stanley,

I was only asking. As it happens, I wasn't the poster Z told to F off. I was simply startled that no one called him out on his boorishness.
I think your ill-mannered and coarse post says much.
The deafening silence from everyone else says the rest.


Anonymous 10:26 AM  

F off sissy

GILL I. 10:30 AM  

Emanuel Ax. Wow. I always look at the constructor names before I start. I saw his name and knew there could not be two. I heard him play in Carnegie many moons ago and he gave me that RUNNERS HIGH (or, in my case, endorphins) feeling.
@Aketi. I ran just for that feeling. You think you're going to explode and all of a sudden you feel like climbing a mountain. At least I did. But then again, I felt that way after drinking my go to beverage when I first arrived in NYC (Hi @Hartley) WHISKEY SOUR. Remember those little packets with the sour mix? Then add - in my case - Scotch.
I'm glad @evil posted early because he captured my mood. I thought this puzzle was full of wonderful words and it brought back some good memories. La Cage aux Folles first watched while living in San Francisco. I loved that movie - especially Ugo Tognazzi. Then seeing the Birdcage about 50 times because it ALWAYS made me laugh and I loved Robin Williams and Nathan Lane is someone I would like to sit at a bar with because he'd probably make me laugh so hard that I'd fall off the stool.
RHODE Island Red. I think that was a clue last night on Jeopardy. I don't think anybody got it but I kept shouting out RHODE RHODE RHODE.
Thank you Emanuel and Brad for a fine Wednesday puzzle. As HENRI Lautrec might have said. Mon Dieu this puzzle HAS quite A NIP...

Anonymous 10:31 AM  

John,

I didn't see your comment before I posted to Stanley. I hang out here every day. I have an identity. I don't need to adopt one. Further, I assure you that I read and comment here with good intentions. I bitterly resent the implication that I don't. Your advice is simply gratuitous. And your assertion that it's sometimes appropriate to use profanity is one that I shan't agree with.
As proof of my board bona fides, this is three posts, so I'm out

Sir Hillary 10:32 AM  

LIKES:
-- The center note. Reminds me of a Keith Haring poster.
-- The good long stuff, best summarized by @evil doug. SAWEDINHALF is my fave.
-- The Mid-Atlantic section. All fun and lively.
-- Learning what a MASH[note] is. I had never heard the term, and will never use it, but it's an addition to the memory bank.
-- Being reminded what a good movie NORMARAE is. Pat Hingle's character's death was brutal.
-- Seeing one of my favorite feelings -- the RUNNERSHIGH.
-- EKEOUT. So much better than the usual EKE/EKES/EKED.

DISLIKES:
-- The NW and SE. Too much dodgy fill.
-- RUNS and RUNNERSHIGH in the same puzzle.
-- PREV. Yuck.
-- The fact that it took me way to long to figure out that SHIA wasn't LaBeouf.

The LIKES win.

Mohair Sam 10:33 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
QuasiMojo 10:41 AM  

Do people still drink Whiskey Sours? I remember all those old movies when the demure beauty would sip at hers then bite down on the cherry in a less than demure fashion. No doubt it came from Bing Hampton. Have fun in Water Mill @ Mohair.

Happy Pencil 10:42 AM  

Well, I'm embarrassed to admit it wasn't until I read Rex's write-up that I realized SHIA was not, in fact, Shia Labeouf. Here I thought he was engaged in a battle royale with someone who had pointed out to him that simply calling himself a "performance artist" doesn't actually make him one.

Weird, weird way to clue that particular "feud."

Mohair Sam 10:43 AM  

Man oh man what a battle. Tough Wednesday for us, but we fought through.

Five long answers were gimmes or nearly so for us and we still struggled. Love for alpaca killed us, and we did not want to believe DAYMARE (still don't), and we were toast in the north central until good old NORMARAE was remembered. NW gave us a hard time too - @Rex makes a good point there.

Last guy to say things were JAKE was Bogie playing Philip Marlowe in like 1940, who else could pull it off? We're with the crowd welcoming AGLET home.

Have you ever wondered about the contract when places "lend" their names to things. When do ABERDEEN cows have to return their name? Are there late fees? Default clauses?

@Johnny - Yup, working my way through McPherson's "Battle Cry of Freedom" and just last week discovered QUAKERGUNs. They were no small part of the reason McClellan retreated from Richmond in 1862 believing he was outnumbered 2 to 1 when he actually had superior numbers. Had McClellan pursued the attack he would have almost certainly taken the city and the war would have been greatly foreshortened. The Rebels brand new commander that week was an unpopular General nicknamed "Evacuating" Robert E. Lee whose troops lost many of the skirmishes that actually took place. A characteristically nervous McClellan retreated anyway.
"Evacuating" Lee defeated in 1862? What on earth would we have named all those Southern buildings, schools, and highways?

Happy Pencil 10:48 AM  

@Bill Feeney, I happen to agree with you, but in fairness, the NYT house style is to lowercase acronyms of more than four letters. Here's the relevant explanation from their style guide:

acronyms. An acronym is a word formed from the first letter (or letters) of each word in a series: NATO from North Atlantic Treaty Organization; radar from radio detection and ranging. (Unless pronounced as a word, an abbreviation is not an acronym.) When an acronym serves as a proper name and exceeds four letters, capitalize only the first letter: Unesco; Unicef.

Roo Monster 11:00 AM  

Hey All !
Why is there a swan in the middle of the grid?
That was my first thought upon seeing said grid. Then after getting NOTE, realized it was a... NOTE. Ah, said I. And first themer I got was MONSTER MASH, and thought maybe I don't have the theme yet, as a MASH note isn't something I'm familiar with. But I got the rest of 'em, so took that on fate.

DAYMARE is laughable. If anything, it should really be a NapMARE. SAWED IN HALF sounds off to my ears for some reason. SAWN IN HALF?

Had thr DRAG____, tried ster, race before SHOW. Had _____rusH in first for RUNNERS HIGH. Agree with y'all on that. Running just makes you tired and achy. HIGH, um, no.

@Rex said grid was "not-at-all-symmetrical", but disagree. It's somewhat symmetrical on the outside. Just sayin.

And to @Anon 9:19/10:15, if you hang out here long enough, you'll get sick and tired of these Anonymous asshats who post here to rile people up. So although I was a bit taken aback by Z's comment, as he is usually more reserved and more articulate, I think the statement was well put.

EELS-MARE
RooMonster
DarrinV

Bill Feeney 11:04 AM  

Thanks Happy Pencil. I did not know that. So NAACP would be written Naacp? In my defence I see Nascar everywhere and it's just a pet peeve.

Aketi 11:12 AM  

@z, I do adore you even if the anonymice are feasting on your bread crumb today. I was going to make a suggestion, but I realized I would have been a total hypocrite. I was going to invite you to take some Martial Arts classes because I tell myself that it is an outlet for my anger and thereby reduces my tendency to drop the F-bomb. But then I remembered when a newbie with a wrestling background who was double my size attacked me with a neck crank that was so vicious and fast and made me neck crack so loudly that I was afraid I'd be paralyzed. The Brazilian Jiu Jitsu guys still chuckle about how loud and how fast Mother F***er erupted out of my mouth. Nevertheless, I must have abided by their unwritten code of conduct well enough because I was invited to secret fight club and the newbie didn't last long.

@Nancy, I respectfully disagree with you about SISSY. I think it is derogatory, but on the low end of the Richter scale of derogatory - a little above wussy and below pussy. I don't think my father ever used the term SISSY with my brother, but he did call him "Never Sweat" because my brother never finished his chores. I always knew my father was truly disgusted someone if he labeled that person a "Big I Am". He detested narcissistic people who felt like the world owed them everything just because they were who they were, claimed credit for other people's work, and couldn't stand legitimate criticism. A "Big I Am" was at the top of my father's Richter scale of insults.

Malsdemare 11:14 AM  

Ditto everything @Gill said. I DREAM about running, even though it's been 20 years since I ran 40 miles a week, and I'm pretty sure my neurosurgeon is going to tell me to never run again (or horseback ride or white water raft) and I'M HEARTBROKEN. I am so jealous of the men and women my age who still run and I'd disobey the doc except my pain threshold and I have been on intimate terms for the past four months and it's time for a divorce.

I'm also pretty pleased that I'm in the puzzle!! That's a first for me, though the implication that I"m associated with daytime horror does mute the jubilation somewhat.

I'm embarrassed to admit I don't know Emanuel Ax; my mother is rolling her grave, and if I admit my ignorance to my concert pianist brother-in-law, his estimation of me will plummet and I like him too much to disappoint him.

@anonymous 10:31. The individuals most likely to say something offensive here are those who post anonymously, a fact that results in a greater willingness to be pre-emptively coarse. Many of us have been attacked pretty viciously by "anonymice," been called names and told to f*** off quite regularly Without a unique identity here, you share your identity with a pretty broad and not necessarily nice pool.

I loved the NOTE in the center of the grid. This was just fun. Thanks Brad and Manny!

Tita A 11:18 AM  

OK, I'll bite.

@Anon's asking about @Z's riposte and yesterday's affronted solvers being affronted over SISSIES are related topics, in my mind. (As @Anon@10:26 so "eloquently" confirmed).

What resounding hypocrites we are.

Examples:
"Rude. Offensive. Vulgar. Offensive. Crude."
This is how a wildly successful Broadway show pitches its $300 tickets.

Wildly successful comedians and comedies make rampant use of some of the basest humor - the kind I thought we all outgrow in the 4th grade.

So how do you reconcile being incensed over some word in a crossword puzzle, when you chortle over it when Amy Schumer says it?

@Z, @John Child - if you were at my house, and another guest made a stupid and obnoxious remark like @Anon@7:28 made, would you say that to him? With me within earshot? With my mom within earshot?

Yup - I'm an old fart who fools herself into believing that civility, politeness, and manners are good qualities. Speak your mind, yes! But just as you oughta avoid kinda, like, yaknow, you can make your point even better without the need to be gratuitous.

I do laugh out loud at Jon Stewart, Jon Oliver, and their ilk in spite of, and sometimes because of, their f-bomb drops.

So yes, @Affronted Anon@9:19, I not-so-secretly thank you for questioning.
However, remember that this IS still BY FAR the most civilized open forum I know of on the Interwebs.




2 and out.

ghostoflectricity 11:20 AM  

I've had daymares every day since Nov. 9. Otherwise, a crappy puzzle.

jae 11:25 AM  

Medium-tough for me too. QUAKER GUN was a WOE (hi @ED) as were RONS and BARR (as clued). Plus I needed MONSTER MASH to get LE ROI and A CENT.

Thanks @Johnny & Mohair for the McClellan info.

Cute visual, nice long downs, fun theme answers, and some crunch, add me to the liked it contingent.

Marty Van B 11:31 AM  

I printed out the PDF of the puzzle to solve on paper as I always do.

I didn't see the note nor is Emanuel Ax a "celebrity" in my or anyone I know's world. It didn't even occur to me Google the name until coming to the comment section here. I'm sure he's wonderfully talented but if his renown has transcended the one niche he's known in, I certainly haven't seen it.

All that probably helps to explain I why I really disliked the puzzle. There's was zero fresh about it. Even the clue on BARR went for a mystery writer rather than comedienne. That's fine in and of itself, but this is Wednesday and there's nothing else that's contemporary here. Janet RENO might be the most modern name in the grid.

Two huge thumbs down and a raspberry from me.

Erin Milligan-Milburn 11:35 AM  

Anybody remember when a person could choose not to read a blog they didn't like instead of being forced to both read a post and then leave a non-constructive anonymous comment?

Masked and Anonymous 11:36 AM  

The unsymmetric part of the grid is noteworthy. It is symmetric, except for the central note and, more interestinly, an extra single black square [which I call HarNote] just west of 37-Across. Musta not been possible to fill the grid, without HarNote. HarNote may be the world's first "free-standin solo cheater square" in the history of the NYTPuz. Cool. M&A luvs HarNote.

AFun solve. Got MONSTERMASH instantly first, off nothin but the clue, which gave m&e a very large foothold. Only 71 words, so a pretty wide-open grid with a corn-U-copia of neat long entries co-mingled with a few primo minor notes of desperation. And EELS. Learned stuff, too, such as: VICUNA. MANGIA. HALLO. MASH(note).

staff weeject pick: ENE. It achieves celeb status, due to its proximity to the HarNote.
For warm, fuzzy desperation, it don't get much better than ACENT/EREI, right out of the rodeo chutes.

@Aketi: yep. WHISKEYSOUR with do-nuts. And M&A recommends vodka with cinnamon rolls. Breakfasts of champions.

Thanks, Ax and Brad. This was one bad-ass brad-ax WedPuz.

Masked & Anonym007Us


**gruntz**

jae 11:38 AM  

...and if you're interested in just how easy we have it these days try the June 29, 1996 Saturday puzzle. The NE corner is especially fun.

Pete 11:43 AM  

I liked it much better than did Rex. I halfway attribute that to proximity to yesterday, akin to the fact that any male following me into a single's bar is always perceived by the ladies as an Adonis, whatever his objective appearance may be.

Happy Pencil 11:51 AM  

@Bill Feeney, NAACP would be considered an initialism, not an acronym, because you pronounce it not as a word but as its individual letters. As I understand it, the NYT style applies only to acronyms. So NAACP would remain in caps.

This is a pet peeve of mine as well, so I know where you're coming from. The BBC also uses Nafta and Nato, which drives me absolutely up the wall, but there you go. Individual publications do have their own style peculiarities. More than you ever wanted to know about this topic, I'm sure.

@jae, thanks for the tip on the archived puzzle. I always appreciate you pointing out these tough ones for a little extra challenge.

That's three for me. Have a great day, everyone, and play nice!

Anoa Bob 11:54 AM  

Should it not be SAWN in half?

After reading the comments, I'm not convinced that anyone here has ever experienced a genuine RUNNER'S HIGH. If you have the time, allow me to explain.

When I was a RUNNER, I would do 3-4 miles several times a week, but this only resulted in me being tired and relaxed. No HIGH. (As a child of the 60's, believe me, I know what HIGH is.) Then I ran in a big 10K race and paced myself perfectly, my best race ever, so that I had nothing left in the tank at the end. I was totally spent and exhausted.

I collapsed, limp as a dishrag, in the back seat of the car. About twenty minutes later on the way home, it happened. I was overwhelmed with a physical feeling of calmness and well-being that merged into a psychological, spiritual sense of supreme peacefulness and serenity. Aha thought I, this is the RUNNER'S HIGH I had heard about but never experienced before.

Fast forward to a couple of years later: A friend showed me a golf ball sized glob of what looked like plumber's putty or play dough. He said it was raw opium. Since we were on a boat in international waters*, several of us sat around and smoked it. Bingo. I had the same care-free physical and psychological sense that all was completely, profoundly right in the world. And I instantly knew how powerfully addictive this stuff was. I've never touched any opiates of any kind since.

So, a little ANECDOTAL account of why today's RUNNER'S HIGH brought back such vivid memories of an intense experience from over 50 years ago.

*Okay, I think the statute of limitations has expired. It was in a cabin back in the hills in East Tennessee.

Charles Flaster 11:55 AM  

STOP! You will get hurt before you get HIGH!
Seriously, I have never met a runner who does not get hurt.

GILL I. 12:16 PM  

@Anoa...I truly enjoyed your little "HIGH" talk.
I love endorphins. I'm glad someone put them in our bodies. Every high I've had, whether it be sex, drugs or booze is different for me. Laughter - and I mean down on the ground, can't stop, hurt my sides laughter is about as close as the feeling I get from finally getting past that "hit the wall, I'm dying" stage. Euphoria - second wind; I can't stop...
Like @Malsdemare I can no longer run. I ruined my body running and skiing. Took too many falls although I still ride horseback when I can. Getting old can be so cruel but I can always fall back on some good dope to get me laughing hysterically.

John Child 12:19 PM  

Har @Jae. 23:33. Good fun!

3 'n out

old timer 12:23 PM  

If Thursdays were not always gimmick-puzzle days, this would have run on a Thursday. Definitely harder than your usual Wednesday solve. But I enjoyed it. Carefully crafted to avoid Naticks, I thought. JANUS was almost as much of a gimme for me as AGLET.

I could have kicked myself when I did not immediately come up with MONSTERMASH (it was a graveyard smash). But that I think is the only clue that skewed old. After all, people of all ages still read F Scott Fitzgerald even though they may (like me) never have heard of "Two for ACENT" and everyone has heard of GRETA GARBO and "I vant to be alone."

Though maybe VICUNA skews old, too. I think I knew it because a VICUNA coat or rug figured in the Sherman Adams scandal in the Eisenhower era. I no doubt read all about it in TIME Magazine.

Cleverest clue: The one for MANGIA. Hardest, for me, the one for WHISKEYSOUR. I'm a rye Manhattan man, myself, which also comes with cherries.

Anonymous 12:35 PM  

Z is known on this board for being kind of a dolt.

Malsdemare 12:53 PM  

Ah, anonymous 12:35: Thanks for making my case.

Andrew Heinegg 12:56 PM  

I thought this was delightful in every way. It was Wednesday appropriate for difficulty and I agree with a number of other bloggers that some answers were really good. I felt it was on par with the quality of the Neil DeGrasse Tyson collaborated puzzle, which I liked a lot.

I believe every word that Tita A said about politeness, manners and courtesy. Without trying to veer off in a political direction, the current atmosphere is most uncivil. In fact, I quickly grow tired of reading political blogs because they almost always often turn into a 10 year old boys type of personal insult contest with the 'winner' being the one with the nastiest sounding insult that resonates. I say boys since, when I was 10, I didn't hang around with girls. I sure hope they were more civil and courteous than the boys.

The runner's high brought me back to the time when I went overboard with it. I hated running at first but, once I got the old runner's high, I was hooked. I ran ever increasing distances until I got the marathon itch. Then, I ran a number of them.

The problem was I was not paying careful enough attention to the messages my body was sending. Eventually, I ended up with a meniscectomy of my right knee. The surgeon, an enthusiastic runner himself, said I could still run but I needed to limit it to about 3 miles no more than two or three times a week. I did some reading on it and decided no times a week might be better in order to avoid knee replacement surgery which, at that time, was a dicey proposition. Further aggravating me was an article on the front page of the N.Y. Times about a month after my surgery about an extensive study done on people with torn meniscuses. The results were essentially equal for those who had surgery and those who didn't. Reminded me of what my father, a doctor and an anesthesiologist for most of his professional life, said. You don't get surgery unless you absolutely have to and don't expect your condition to be the same as it was before the issue that lead to the surgery arose.

Fast forward some 15 years to the end of last month and I had to have hip replacement surgery. Recovering from it now, I am sure that is was also a product of so many miles run over so many years. If I had to do it again I would. I would just be a lot more careful (and moderate) this time. Endorphins​ are wonderful things. The opiods you take after things like hip surgery so that you can somewhat function and sleep, not so much;

Anonymous 1:09 PM  

He hate me.

Mohair Sam 1:13 PM  

What's in a name? I'll tell ya what's in a name Willy Shakespeare. Emanuel Ax sounds like the name of a great classical pianist. So we learn today that he asked Brad Wilber to call him Manny. Manny Ax.

Manny Ax should be a collector for Tony Soprano. That's what's in a name.

@old timer - JAKE skews just a tad old, as does the Thurber clue.

@Z - You? Guilty of troll feeding? We get some fool with that comment once every couple of months. Deeeep breaths.

Teedmn 1:17 PM  

Tough for a Wednesday here and a DNF to boot. I didn't realize I had an error until I saw JANUS in @LMS's post and thought, "Not JANiS?" I guess my SPF covers infra-Violet RAYS, sigh. And here I thought my alphabet RUNS at the 5D-18A cross would by my error AREA.

I actually wrote in grAY AREA at 32A thinking that the white and black keys made, you know, grAY (hi Tracy Gray :-).) PLAY AREA made a much better answer.

And I nearly left 32D at PREp, when I suddenly remembered the VICUÑA. PREp is what you do earlier to get ready... yeah, I thought not.

Nice job, Emanuel Ax and Brad Wilbur.

JC66 1:24 PM  

An Hour of Running May Add 7 Hours to Your Life

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/12/well/move/an-hour-of-running-may-add-seven-hours-to-your-life.html

tea73 1:26 PM  

I actually had a whisky sour for the first time in probably thirty years at a wedding I attended last month. It was delicious. I rarely drink cocktails any more.

VICUNA eluded me for a long time. I'd somehow managed to have Licuna there, leftover from trying to misspell Llama. (PREl for preliminary seemed reasonable.)

I remember watching Kramer vs Kramer and being baffled that they didn't just go for joint custody instead of having that stupid court battle. Never actually saw NORMA RAE.

Larry Gilstrap 2:06 PM  

No problem with JANUS. I taught Mythology back when it was current news. Not really. "Two-headed JANUS" is also referenced in The Merchant of Venice. When I was an undergraduate, our Shakespeare Prof. required we use the Folger Library paperback editions of the assigned plays. They cost considerably less than a dollar at that time and are still in print today. They feature text on the right and notes on the left facing page. Invaluable tools for the student. So when Solanio mentions the god, an illustration and notes are inches away. Finally, if you ever watch one of those scratchy black and white art films on TCM on a Sunday night, there's a good chance you might see the logo of JANUS Films. The only time I have heard JAKE used to mean "Hunky-dory" outside of a puzzle was by Vin Scully and John Sterling. Good enough for immunity in my book.

Today the wheelhouse, tomorrow...?

travis 2:17 PM  

My nephew's name is SITKA so it will never not make me happy to see it in the grid.

Anonymous 2:36 PM  

Obama = Sissy

Trump = Bold Leader

Jennifer Freeman 2:48 PM  

Z's comment referenced Anon 7:38 whose post (The first one here today) was exclusively about Rex not about the puzzle. If you invited a guest to your house and the first thing he said when he walked in the door was something derogatory about you, what would you say?

JC66 2:58 PM  

@GILL I

Before it closed a number of years ago, I used to go to the World Gym across from Lincoln Center regularly. From time to time, Nathan Lane would show up with his personal trainer. In order to make his workouts easy/nonexistent, he'd put on a spontaneous one man show for 45 minutes or so, keeping his trainer and the rest of us in the gym in stitches.

Anonymous 3:11 PM  

Granted, Anon 7:38's post could be interpreted as rude, he (or she) has a point. Rex is kind of like the sports announcer who never played the game criticizing an athlete who plays the game. Not a lot of credibility there.

Mohair Sam 4:38 PM  

@Anon (3:11) - Nobody listens. Read @Z (8:38), last paragraph. Kindly disregard his last sentence.

Three and out.

Nancy 5:21 PM  

From the Misery Loves Company Department: While @Malsdemare (11:14), @GILL (12:26) and @Andrew Heinegg (12:56) are all lamenting the sense of loss they experienced in having had to give up running, I can truly identify with each and every one of them -- even though my own sadness comes from having had to give up a different sport at what seems like much too early an age. Malsdemare, I still dream about tennis, and now, 7 full years after stopping, my dreams are finally of actually playing tennis, and playing it well. But during the year I stopped playing and for at least 3 years after that, my dreams were of not being able to get to the tennis court. There were thick brambles in a forest I couldn't get through...or there was a moat I couldn't get over...or there was a traffic jam that made me late for the court, and my partner had already left. As I say, these dreams went on for years. GILL, you nailed it when you said "Getting old can be so cruel." What's even crueler for me, though, is all the players I know who are older than I am -- some MUCH older -- and are still playing tennis and playing it remarkably well.

While I can't speak about running, I have a tennis anecdote that you may be able to identify with: The wise person -- someone you deeply respect -- who comes to you and says sternly: "Nancy, you have to realize that tennis is not a matter of life and death." (Long pause). "It's much, MUCH more important than that!"

Malsdemare 6:50 PM  

@Nancy 5:21 Odd that you describe your dreams as evolving. Now that you mention it, my earliest dreams always included a hitch, literally, in my stride. I just couldn't get into the groove. But recently, I'm flying, in the groove, soaring really, which makes the loss all the more poignant.

So does anyone remember the college graduate dream? Only grads had it and it always involved somehow missing a class or an exam so that you weren't going to graduate. Well, after I finished my PhD, that dream regressed to high school. I figured I didn't dare get a post-doc or I'd be back to grade school. Dreams are too fun!!!

Anonymous 8:17 PM  

@Z

Sorry I'm late to the party. Squirrel!

Warren Howie Hughes 8:47 PM  

Instead of a DAYMARE,I had a roll-in-the-hay with an "OldGrayMare" and believe you me, she ain't what she use to be!

Anonymous 9:47 PM  

Gold in a pond? WTF
Great admiration for Mr. Ax the pianist but not Mr. Ax the cruciverbalist.
This whole celebrity crossword collaboration is strictly PT Barnum.
Theme entries were but inconsistent. MASHNOTE was the nonmusical outlier.
The usual Shortz-edited verbose, pedestrian clues made this an unpleasant solving
experience.

Anonymous 11:19 PM  

That Tita person at 11:18 comment was best I've read on this blog in a long time. Have some perspective people.

Anonymous 11:21 PM  

I admit I thought about Shia LeBouef at first and his war with Trump or those other dudes who are always trying to track him. He is one weird dude. It is true there has been wars between Shia and Sunni. Maybe we can't attribute everything to differences between the two. Likely ethnic differences play a huge part. That being said, there are more wars today of Muslims fighting Muslims than any other religion.

Space Is Deep 8:55 PM  

Tough Wednesday! The NW was brutal. Mangia was an unknown. That's a Friday/Saturday clue/answer.

Geophany 4:14 AM  

I kind of enjoyed the roughness--something different, anyway, a break from the staleness that I think comes with the editing. It feels good-natured.

Edac2day 7:15 PM  

Painful.

Burma Shave 10:13 AM  

RON’S ANECDOTAL NOTE

You see NORMARAE get SAWEDINHALF
at so CILIA DRAGSHOW in a BARR up in Fargo,
while down in ABERDEEN we EKEOUT a laugh
as, with EASE, I NOTE, JAKE RHODE GRETGARBO.

--- HENRI “LEROI” VICUNA-MANGIA
this stream of unconsciousness brought to you by QUAKERGUN OATS

spacecraft 11:42 AM  

@Mohair Sam: Well, not quite the LAST time. In that excellent film "The Sting," Gondorff asks Hooker if he's having problems with Lonegan's hitmen. "Nah," replies Johnny, "Everything's JAKE." To which Henry replies, "You can't play your friends."

Another really top-quality film is the Americanized version of the DRAGSHOw: "The Birdcage." I urge all who haven't seen it to do so. Too much good stuff to go into here.

I found this medium-ish, maybe a tad toward challenging. I had the wrong woolly animal with alpacA, so inkfest there. Then I kept trying to make HASAfew work until finally giving way to the NIP. This East PLAYAREA was the hardest, and last one done for me.

Interesting theme vis-à-vis constructor Ax; he must have enjoyed working on it. I agree about the compromised corners, and maybe EKEOUT IS better than EKE by itself...but not by much. My personal theory is that EKE cannot exist without OUT, so the whole thing should be a single word: EKEOUT. The rest of it is JAKE with me. Par.

I take a moment to salute DOD KERRI Strug, who incredibly stuck a landing on a broken foot, exhibiting one of the most remarkable examples of courage I have ever seen. How she didn't pass out from the pain I don't know, but she even managed a triumphant smile. You earned the sash for sure, honey.

rondo 11:58 AM  

Tough time getting started, probably due to the reasons given by OFL. But then MONSTERMASH a gimme and things started to fall. Upon further review, nothing overwritten, but I know it consumed more time than a usual Weds-puz.

I started my cocktail career at the former Spotted Horse BARR with WHISKEYSOURs, but don’t recall the cherries.

Went to a DRAGSHOW at Club Aqua in Key West a few years back. Hilarious, but watch out for grabby hands if you want a photo with a performer. Also saw a DRAGSHOW in Vegas in 1987. Don’t remember the joint, but we were right up front thanks to the gals in our group. We guys chose Redd Foxx the next evening.

As I’ve mentioned before, yeah baby GRETAGARBO was my grandmother’s cousin and never forgave grams for permanently moving to the USA.

This puz not done with particular EASE, but then again, really no SWEAT. Hard to knock a puz when RON'S in it.

rain forest 12:55 PM  

First thought after reading comments: @Z - you've plumbed new depths in your continual defense of Rex.
Second thought: I recall a limerick which began:
"A dashing romantic VICUNA
Fell in love with a fifty-pound tuna"

Anyone know the rest?

Other than those random, unrelated observations, I kind of found this puzzle charming, mitigated by calling the SHIA-Sunni conflict a "feud". More of a slaughter, I'd say. Overall, medium here, with a bit of an oddball theme, but the NOTE in the centre kind of enlivened it a tad.

HALLO was exactly how the Pooh characters greeted each other. Loved those books.

leftcoastTAM 2:04 PM  

A bit skeptical of "celebrity collaborations," this one turned out to be JAKE with me.

Not too hard, not to soft, but just about right--a Goldilocks puzzle.

Hadn't thought of the NCAR-NASCAR overlap before, and wondered if that is just a coincidence. Probably so.

Hadn't heard of Fitzgerald's CENT book, or of writer BARR. Don't think I've heard of DAYMARE either.

PLAYAREA is something of a head-scratcher.

Enjoyed it.

Sailor 2:33 PM  

Per the comments from Roo Monster and Anoa Bob, 54 A should indeed be “sawn.” SAWED is a past-tense verb, but the assistant is clearly not doing the sawing. The clue calls for the past participle used as an adjective. Many past participles are indeed formed with the addition of “ed,” but not, typically, verbs ending in “w,” i.e., the ball was “thrown,” not “throwed.”

fakt chekker 2:35 PM  

At a neighborhood gym. He was soon taught to swim, And in no time at all he was scruna.

Diana,LIW 4:29 PM  

A few too many unknown PPPs kept me from a clean solve. JANUS and JAKE were fine with me. NCAR and AGLET did me in. Should have gotten NCAR. Darn. And thought I'd read all the Fitzgerald books. Apparently not.

Being a Friend, I found the QUAKERGUN cannons hilarious.

Feeling great today, but I'm still only going to MANGIA soft foods. Gerber's anyone?

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for permanent crowns

leftcoastTAM 9:26 PM  

@Diana--Ah, yes, permanent crowns. Been through this several times, including right down in front, lower and upper. Worth the time and effort and, I guess, the cost.

wcutler 9:48 PM  

Once again, I'm so grateful for this blog. I did NOT NOTICE the note in the centre of the puzzle. I didn't know the term "mash note", think it's not at all a musical term, but at least the clue was a musical thing. Anyway, liked the puzzle, found it fairly easy, actually completed it correctly for a change.

Scott McLean 12:19 PM  

Not impressed with this one. A few nice entries did not make up for the utterly terrible fill. ACENT, EREI, APR, AFATE, HALLO, UNAS, NCAR, SRS, PREV - all awful. SASE and EELS are borderline.
Then, a four-letter "word that follows" revealer? Weakest theme ever. (When's the last time anybody used the term "Mash Note"? 1949?)
And to make matters worse, I ended up with a DNF by putting in "cAKE" at 5-down. Seemed reasonable, but because I had absolutely no idea about the name of the obscure fairy-tale god, I didnt know it was wrong.
I'm going to forget this puzzle ever existed and get on with my life now.

Anonymous 5:17 PM  

A couple here really threw me. Especially INVECTIVE. Had Landrt so I should have guessed land at. And RECTI instead of RECTo. The rest were in the middle. IMBUE and ARS stumped me. Could have been better.

Mark

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