Title Roman tribune of early Wagner opera / FRI 7-7-17 / European textile city that gave us word denim / Thimble Theatre surname / Actress Kate of House of Cards / Show on which Key Peele got their start

Friday, July 7, 2017

Constructor: Andy Kravis

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium


THEME: none 

Word of the Day: RIENZI (47A: Title Roman tribune of an early Wagner opera) —
Rienzi, der Letzte der Tribunen (Rienzi, the Last of the Tribunes; WWV 49) is an early opera by Richard Wagner in five acts, with the libretto written by the composer after Edward Bulwer-Lytton's novel of the same name (1835). The title is commonly shortened to Rienzi. Written between July 1838 and November 1840, it was first performed at the Hofoper, Dresden, on 20 October 1842, and was the composer's first success. // The opera is set in Rome and is based on the life of Cola di Rienzi (1313–1354), a late medieval Italian populist figure who succeeds in outwitting and then defeating the nobles and their followers and in raising the power of the people. Magnanimous at first, he is forced by events to crush the nobles' rebellion against the people's power, but popular opinion changes and even the Church, which had urged him to assert himself, turns against him. In the end the populace burns the Capitol, in which Rienzi and a few adherents have made a last stand. (wikipedia)
• • •

BIB! (24D: Lobster catcher?). Where was this clue *yesterday*, when I needed it!?

This puzzle is, by and large, gorgeous. The kind of puzzle that I was admiring mid-solve, the kind of puzzle where I'm nodding along like there's a great summer song on the radio. Wide-ranging, surprising, impeccably clued. I am never going to think INSTA or PEAT is great fill, but those damned clues had me actually *enjoying* INSTA (18A: Photo app, slangily) and PEAT (14D: Three follower, in sports). I look forward to the Further Adventures of Insta & Peat. I also love a puzzle that can go very high (brow) ... RIENZI wtf!? (47A: Title Roman tribune of an early Wagner opera) ... and then dive right down and buzz the control tower ... VAGUEBOOKS wtf!? (31A: Posts an intentionally mysterious status update on social media) ... and do so in a way that allows me to appreciate all of it: crosses fair, answer parts inferrable. Proper nouns properly handled, crosswordese minimal, and minimalistically clued. A very nice way to wake up (I'm doing the puzzle upon waking today, instead of promptly at 10pm, because yesterday was filled with a two-hour ice cream tour of Binghamton, with many failed attempts to track down the "popular" RUM RAISIN flavor (from yesterday's grid), and many successful purchases of RUM RAISIN alternatives—basically I had six kinds of ice cream for lunch ... and so later, after watching my wife get sworn in as the newest member of the school board ... got very sleepy ... like out-before-nine sleepy ... and so this puzzle was the perfect cure for my ice cream hangover. Speaking of: I am issuing a RUM RAISIN challenge. Is RUM RAISIN truly "popular" in your neck of the woods? Can you even find RUM RAISIN where you live? Does it exist? If you are so inclined, please go in search of RUM RAISIN in the next couple of days and send me a picture of yourself eating (or Refusing to eat) it. Tweet me at @rexparker or just send it to my rexparker at icloud address. I'll post the results of Rum Raisin Quest 2017 (#RRQuest2017) in Sunday's write-up.)


Some other puzzle—possibly a different (i.e. not yesterday's) Erik Agard puzzle?—prepped me for "MOONLIGHT" (which I still haven't seen), and its new-clue-for-ALI actor (6D: Mahershala ___, Best Supporting Actor for 17-Across). Forgot the actor's name, remembered the movie ... which gave me the actor's name. That was the answer that dug me out of an early hole—the French textile city hole. When you do way too many crosswords, the European textile city reflex is LILLE. Or it is for me, anyway. Yes, here's a nice wikipedia paragraph about LILLE: "The 16th and 17th centuries were marked by a boom in the regional textile industry, the Protestant revolts, and outbreaks of the Plague." But at least I knew NÎMES existed. That helped. Had RISK-TAKER before RISK-PRONE (which is my bad, as the clue clearly calls for an adjective, not a noun) (12D: Like someone who invests in volatile stocks). Realized I'm not actually that familiar with TOP CAT (49A: Hanna-Barbera feline), despite getting the answer pretty easily. I'm more familiar with the slew of other cartoon felines, your Sylvesters and your Snagglepusses and your Pink Panthers and your Toms and such. Only solving snags of note involved proper nouns (shocker)—RIENZI and MARA (I know Rooney, I do not know Kate) (54D: Actress Kate of "House of Cards"). Just a delightful solving experience, overall. One final ovation for the cluing, please. BOT! (42D: What may have a strong net effect?) NO-FLY ZONES! (27D: Dimension without planes). Just great.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]

81 comments:

Rebekah 6:33 AM  

Agree. Great puzzle!

Anonymous 6:35 AM  

I like the pair if N?IL S??ON answers. OYL as in Olive and clan. Wrote in TOmCAT first. Dumb.

Trombone Tom 6:46 AM  

Well, here's a puzzle that moves @Rex into paroxysms of praise! That's a welcome change.

I enjoyed this Andy Kravis effort and managed to work my way through it in spite of a couple of WTF's (VAGUEBOOKS and RIENZI).

And I liked the return of BIB with a great clue.

OFL is calling for a poll of RUMRAISIN eaters/noneaters. I think this was pretty well exhausted yesterday. All you have to do is recap the comments. For the record, I have occasionally enjoyed it, but it's pretty hard to find in my area.

Benny the Ball 6:47 AM  

Top Cat was one of the most popular cartoon shows in Sri Lanka.

Originally broadcast on Wednesdays (8:30–9pm Eastern.) Prime Time !

Top Cat, the most effectual
Top Cat, whose intellectual
Close friends get to call him T.C.
Providing it's with dignity

Top Cat
The indisputable leader of the gang
He's the boss, he's the pip
He's the championship
He's the most tip top
Top Cat

Yes he's the chief, he's the king
But above everything
He's the most tip top
Top Cat

Top Cat

(Repeat)

Jonathan Alexander 6:49 AM  

Really nice puzzle....cluing was delightful and it ran a wide gamut with all crosses giving me insight into answers I didn't know. VAGUEBOOKS is a new one for me too.

Anonymous 7:05 AM  

Rum Raisin quite popular in NYC Haagen Daz makes the best. Found in all major supermarkets in significant quantities.

My favorite.

Agree about today. Terrific puzzle. Yesterday's puzzle epic fail as Rex detailed. Time for more ice cream.

QuasiMojo 7:08 AM  

Finally a not-so Freaky Friday. I used to love the TOP CAT cartoon. I knew RIENZI right off the bat because it features my favorite Wagner overture, a true "SET PIECE" of many an orchestra concert. Listen to James Levine's performance of it, if you can find it on YouTube. I've been to NIMES but never knew it was a textile city. It's better known for its handsome Roman amphitheatre. And the Maison Carrée. A magnificent "manse" sans moss.

Space Is Deep 7:29 AM  

Nice, easy puzzle. One WTF, RIENZI, but the crosses were easy. Also had a hiccup at the MANSE/ELSA crossing, but Sussex it out.

Irene 7:36 AM  

Great puzzle.
And as for Rum Raisin: It was occasionally served for dessert in my college dorm, back when college dining wasn't all central commissaries. We thought the kitchen got a special price on it and despite having a ravenous adolescent appetite, I skipped it.

Hungry Mother 7:42 AM  

Quick solve due to some lucky WAGs.

Glimmerglass 7:43 AM  

Good puzzle, very Friday, and an excellent review -- and not just because it was a positive review. RISK-PROof before RISK-PRONE I figured someone really, really rich could afford to make a bad bet). RUM RAISIN is available on Martha's Vineyard, but not in every shop. As I posted yesterday, I can't find the similar, but better, frozen pudding. The witness protection program will not permit me to post my picture.

Sir Hillary 7:43 AM  

Let's please move on from Rum Raisin...

Yes, this is a lovely puzzle. I was flying through it until I bogged down in the E/SE. I kept wanting ALLstAr[something] for Kobe, dropped in fOrGe for the blacksmith, couldn't see TOPCAT because of that mistaken F, took forever to recognize "club" as a sandwich (great clue, that), and basically guessed at the MANSE / ELSA cross (albeit not too many other possibilities there).

A few things were unfamiliar to me -- VAGUEBOOKS, TITTLE, RIENZI, ELSA, "Mosses from an Old MANSE" -- but all gettable via crosses.

NOFLYZONES looks great.

What are the odds that two entries could share a N-ILS--ON pattern? Pretty long, I imagine.

"Moonlight" is a beautiful film. I loved it. Mahershala ALI is fabulous and deserving of his Oscar, but I thought Naomie Harris was even better.

Joseph Welling 7:45 AM  

I always thought Top Cat was a knock off of Slip Mahoney of the Bowery Boys movies.

tkincher 7:51 AM  

I was off by a year and had Spotlight in for MOONLIGHT for too long! Other than that gaffe, an enjoyable puzzle, although I did get hung up on the crossing of EDEMA and ADUE. Maybe I'll remember them next time they come around...

evil doug 8:18 AM  

"The term, a portmanteau of the words three and repeat, originated with the Los Angeles Lakers of the National Basketball Association, during their unsuccessful campaign for a third consecutive championship during the 1988–89 season, having won the previous 2 NBA Finals in 1987 and 1988 against the Boston Celtics and Detroit Pistons, but were swept by the Pistons in the 1989 NBA Finals. The term is a registered trademark owned by Pat Riley, the Lakers' head coach from 1981–1990, although it was coined by L.A. player Byron Scott immediately after their victorious championship defense against the Detroit Pistons in the 1988 NBA Finals."
~Wikipedia

More Whit 8:23 AM  

Great puzzle indeed, with a self deprecating laugh regarding win, lose or draw. Game theory? Philosophy? I was all over the map until I ran the alphabet on "erb" and nearing the end ...voila! Ole. Out of the rut I was in.

Z 8:45 AM  

Not easy here, mostly due to the SW and mostly due to me confusing the Oregon Ducks with the OSU BEAVERS. That mix-up made me think I was looking for whatever name the mascot was given. But, no, I'm just another guy looking for BEAVER.*

My other mistake was another self-inflicted delay. De NÎMES, from NÎMES. D'oh. Started with Lyons in that space which is so wrong on so many levels.

@evil doug - Ah, yes, the 1988 championship won on a moving pick call against Bill Laimbeer. Both the '88 Finals and '91 Eastern Conference Finals losses can easily be cited as evidence that the league didn't much want the Pistons to win. I don't actually subscribe to that theory, but rather to the pretty obvious notion that the refereeing in basketball has a bigger impact on outcomes than in any other sport.






*Just for you anonymous prude.

jackj 8:47 AM  

Much too easy for all the five-star accolades being awarded this puzzle.

"Great" or "gorgeous" it isn't; enjoyable it is.

And Rex if you're haunted by Rum Raisin ice cream, I hope you never encounter a Strawberry-Basil ice cream cone.

prandolph 8:58 AM  

Nice smooth puzzle, very fast for me. Liked it.

Nancy 9:01 AM  

Very enjoyable. It was pretty easy, except in a couple of spots, but it was never boring. And I was thrilled, thrilled by the lack of PPP, ugly acronyms, and other junky fill. Some thoughts:

Where were you yesterday, clue for BIB, when I really, really needed you?

You cannot imagine my feeling of relief when I read the clue for 20A and realized that ARM didn't fit.

Had RISK TAKER before RISK PRONE. Must go back and find out if anyone else did likewise.

Thought the clues for MAYO, NO FLY ZONES, BOT and RUT were great.

VAGUE BOOKS is a VERB??? What in the name of...??? It seems that contemporary Internet culture has produced a generation so 8D that it's almost like an entirely new species with an entirely alien TONGUE. But at least VAGUE BOOKS is not one of the awful text-speak acronyms, so I guess I should be grateful for small favors. Anyway, aside from that, I really liked this puzzle.

Stuart Showalter 9:09 AM  

Isn't anyone else impressed by the possible BACHARACH answer for 58A ("Promises, Promises" writer)? That threw off the SE for a long time. Very sneaky, Andy Kravis! :-)

Blue Stater 9:11 AM  

Agreed. Great puzzle. This shows that it is still possible to create well-clued, challenging, intellectually interesting, non-gimmicky puzzles and publish them in the NYT. Reminds me of the much- (and wrongly) maligned Maleska era. May that era come again.

Lewis 9:15 AM  

This was fun, and after solving the first third I knew the rest would be as fun as the beginning -- worth savoring. The joy came from the cluing. I like the cross of MOONLIGHT and IVORY, and love the clues for NO_FLY_ZONES and MAYO. Just a lovely, lovely solve that made me feel good about getting, and even good about being alive!

Mohair Sam 9:23 AM  

Played medium for us, and we'll agree with @Rex most of y'all that it was a dandy.

Delightful misdirect at 27D, I was searching for an answer from the space time continuum until NOFLYZONES nearly filled. How about "Thimble Theater" in a clue? Neat. "Aimee" the clue instead of the answer, nice change. We got ferdorkled for far too long by the VERB clue. Love the clues for MAYO and BOT. And in the "learn something every day" department - I always gave credit for the term denim to Levi Strauss.

Keep 'em coming Andy Kravis.

Teedmn 9:23 AM  

RoENZI, REENZI (nope), RaENZI (my first guess), RIENZI (looks promising), RuENZI: That's what is written on the side of my solving sheet. With RaENZI in but not feeling right, I decided to rethink it - I was getting tired of my daily DNF. TITTLE titillated the proper synapses so no sad confessions from me today. OLÉ!

Except for wanting "day trader" (never written in) at 12D and having written in PunT for "three follower, in sports", this puzzle went by pretty smoothly. While I SIFTed for a better answer, I put in Seek as a place holder at 55D. But I got NO FLY ZONES off the F (with a guess of ERIc, ERIk or ERIN at 26A providing the inspiration) so I'm sticking my TONGUE out at yesterday's massacre (my execution of it, anyway). I'm sure I'm not ALONE.

Nice puzzle, Andy Kravis, thanks.

Laurence Katz 9:26 AM  

Word of the day for me was "tittle." Never seen it before.

Stanley Hudson 9:36 AM  

A great Friday puzzle--thanks Andy K.

@Joseph Welling, interesting conjecture re: Top Cat and the Bowery Boys. Here's another conjecture: Flintstones based on the Honeymooners.

Canon Chasuble 9:44 AM  

After yesterday's total debacle, this was a pleasure. I agree with QuasiMojo about Rienzi, which was based on Bulwer Lytton's novel of the same name, a book it took me forever to finally finish. And B-L is the author of the greatest opening line in literature, "It was a dark and stormy night." He also coined the phrase "The pen is mightier than the sword." Not too bad for an author who is almost totally unremembered today.

Wm. C. 9:52 AM  

Living in Concord, about 300 yards from The Wayside, Mosses From an Old MANSE was a gimme for me.

Anonymous 9:52 AM  

Could not agree more with Rex. I truly enjoyed this masterpiece of a puzzle. Absolutely delightful puzzle in every respect.
I loved the clever cluing and some of the long answers.

DNF because I had bOPCAT instead of TOPCAT. But otherwise I was done in one seating and in less than an hour. RIENZI was an early entry as I am a Wagner fan and it gave me NO FLY ZONES in no time.

A+ for enjoyment and E for Easy.


RooMonster 9:58 AM  

Hey All !
I don't share Rex's enthusiasm for this puz. Funny, usually I do like most puzs that Rex just destroys in his write-ups. Today's he likes, where I found it kind of a cluster.

VAGUE BOOKS?? What in tarhooties is that? Aimee ANOUK? Think I maybe heard that name that one time in that movie. . . Very off (to me) clue on ENFORCING. Writeovers aplenty, ALLstar____- ALLteamusa- ALLNBATEAM, white-IVORY, pesO(?)-EURO, pot-BIB, BaT-BOT, gracE-IRENE, ROSElyn-ROSERED.

And who is TOPCAT? I was an avid cartoon watcher in my youth and don't know that one.

MOONLIGHT also sorta kinda rungs a (faint) bell. Haven't read the comments yet, but hoping no one says "Didn't that win 2017's Best Picture?" Cause y'all know we've had the year-film discussion aplenty.

RODE UP the NO FLY ZONES
RooMonster
DarrinV

Knitwit 10:02 AM  

Really liked this one even though I misread 1A as "filling station" and immediately wrote "white" for 3D!!!! Once I replaced Spotlight with
MOONLIGHT (and reread that clue) I was in good shape. Loved TOPCAT and could still sing along with the intro!!

AW 10:06 AM  

Here in Concord, MA (Hello, Wm. C!) we have no fewer than three great ice cream parlors/stands (Reasons to Be Cheerful, Eriksons, and Bedford Farms) and not one sells Rum Raisin--or has in recent memory.

This was surprisingly easy for a Friday, with the exception of RIENZI, TITTLE (nifty new word for me), and VAGUEBOOKS.

mathgent 10:20 AM  

Very nice puzzle. Quibble: "club" should be capitalized in the clue for 38D.

Marty 10:26 AM  

Rex, If you have Amazon Prime, you can stream MOONLIGHT for free.

I didn't take a picture, but I happened to be in Philly last weekend and enjoyed some rum raisin ice cream at the Franklin Fountain.

GHarris 10:28 AM  

Found it relatively easy until I hit the SW where I was flummoxed and made a couple of bad guesses and thus dnf. Here's another vote for rum raisin, especially Haagen Daaz (sp?)

Carola 10:30 AM  

Easy and enjoyable. (De) NIMES x EURO gave me my start, and the gird unfurled from top to bottom, with a snag half way down, where I had no idea about VAGUEBOOKS. I had to scan the down the clues until RIENZI's Z gave me what I needed for NO FLY ZONES (loved that one). ROSE RED was lovely to see.

I knew TITTLE previously as the partner of "jot." Besides Yelberton Abraham, of course.

RISK PRONE led nicely into AT A PRICE. I also liked the mossy "OLE" MANSE.

Schatzi 10:35 AM  

Denim is literally de Nimes

Rita Flynn 10:37 AM  

I generally like themeless, and this one was fun. One quibble- VAGUEBOOKS? I've spent a lot of time on social media and have never run up against that one before. I was trying to make it SUBTWEETS but alas, no luck. What else is there? GHOSTGRAMS? SNEAKPINS? WHISPERCHAT? WEAKLINKS?

Wm. C. 10:45 AM  


Hi, @AW --

When the kids lived here, we were regulars at the Bedford Farms Concord location. Isn't Erikson's Ice Cream over in Stow?

pmdm 10:50 AM  

A rum raisin challenge? Fair enough. But to satisfactorily settle the issue, here's my idea.

Supermarkets only sell popular stuff due to limited shelf space. (Except when helping manufacturers test the popularity of new products. Some new flavors in my supermarket being currently tested for flavored seltzered water.) So why doesn't everyone check out whether your supermarket carries rum raisin ice cream the next time you go. If most do, it must be popular.

Kind of funny that todays puzzle received a very favorable review here (odd as that is) while Jeff Chen was fairly grumpy. Go figure.

Do you stick a needle into a sewing kit or in a sewing kit?

puzzlehoarder 10:52 AM  

This was about a minute faster than yesterday's solve which makes it average for a Friday. Rather than being stymied by a final square, today I had trouble moving out of the NE corner where I started. I thought LAGS was BOTS and BOT was LOB. I recognized GOYA immediately but not MAYO. After much wasted time I skipped ahead to FYI and NOFLYZONE and the rest became Wednesday easy. RIENZI and TITTLE had to go in from the crosses but that didn't amount to a speed bump. It was definitely a nice looking late week puzzle just too much user friendly material. I know BIB reappearing was just a coincidence but it sure looked like someone was getting their chain yanked.

GILL I. 10:55 AM  

@Roo...Her name is ANOUK Aimee. I bet you've heard of La Dolce Vita or, perhaps, A Man and a Woman? Fantastic actress. You need to leave Vegas for a while.;-)
I thought this was OK. Nothing more. I enjoyed it but I wouldn't sing to the heavens. I had a few hangups but overall it was pretty easy for moi.
Had VAGUE Bites because I don't know what a VAGUE BOOK is. BEST BUY was the hardest for me. Don't ask me why but I wanted something like Beelzebub.
What a way to clue the magnificent GOYA. Velazquez is the renown court painter. If you ask what GOYA is known for it would be his "Caprichos." He only painted Carlos IV because he was hungry. Further, why Charles even appointed him is a mystery since GOYA made a mockery of the portraits.
Hand up for RISK Taker and loving the clue for MAYO.
Wanted to squeeze in FELIX for the TOP CAT. Happy I got the BEVER.
@Jackj...How about "Schweddy Balls"?

jberg 11:02 AM  

Fortunately, I've attended a concert performance of RIENZI -- or rather, I attended half of it. The damn thing is 5 hours long, and I left at intermission; not that I didn't enjoy it, just that I was falling asleep. I still regret the decision, as the star aria is in the second half.

Were it not for that chance familiarity, and that "Mosses from an Old MANSE" is one of the Hawthorn cards in "Authors," which we used to play at my grandmother's house (she was from the era when church-going Protestants didn't play cards, so they played other games, like "Authors" or "Pit," the worked just like cards), this would have been a lot tougher. As it was the MAD TV/MARA cross was just a lucky guess -- MoRA looked just as good to me.

VAGYEBaitS before VAGUEBOOKS (@Nancy, it's a verb because 'Facebook,' meaning to post something on FB, is a verb), ane ALL-star before SALL-NBA (but knew it was wrong, as one letter too many. And I wanted that needle to go under or in the SKIn, making it hard to see PEAT.

A fine puzzle, just the right amount of challenge -- although DNF in the end because I had ROsE UP and didn't think enough about how IsOS didn't make sense.

@Rex, to elaborate on what 4 others have said already,the clue for 1D says 'gave us the word "denim."' That's all you need.

OK, I'm off to see if the Ice Cream Smith has rum raisin.

Horace S. Patoot 11:05 AM  

Nîmes is memorable for the particular textile that came from it, the textile "de Nîmes", shortened to denim.

mac 11:06 AM  

Fantastic Friday! It felt easy at first, then put up a fight here and there. Vague post, vague blog..... but true, the crosses fixed it easily.

I only like hazelnut and rum-raisin, and I get the Haagen-Dazs ones in CT and NY.
I happened to have a scoop of rum-raisin just this afternoon. We call it Malaga in The Netherlands.

Robert Konigsberg 11:12 AM  

I loved, loved, loved this puzzle.

jae 11:17 AM  

Mostly easy for me too.

NAIL SALON was my first thought and luckily it worked. Plus MOONLIGHT was a gimme so the NW went very quickly.

The RIENZI/TITTLE cross was a guess but what else could it be.

ALL star wouldn't fit, ALL pro wouldn't work with the crosses, so ALL NBA it had to be. My attention span for B-Ball is limited.

VAGUE BOOKS was a WOE. If it's a Facebook term my millennial grandkids probably won't know it as they eschew Facebook. Twitter on the other hand... Just checked with the granddaughter, she had not heard of it.

"Heavens to Murgatroyd" came to mind at one point but that was Snagglepuss.

Solid Fri., liked it a lot.

Anonymous 11:36 AM  

I also loved this snappy puzzle! Great clues! Even better answers! Was in the grocery store this morning buying vanilla Haagen Days and looked for Rum Raisin... And there it was, on Long Island NY.

old timer 11:44 AM  

I would have been OK if I had known MOONLIGHT and MANSE and RIENZI. I didn't and put down "risk taker" before RISKPRONE to boot. NOFLYZONE was indeed perfect and I got it from the ALL (?) TEAM and the FYI answer.

Of course being a West Coaster who roots for Stanford and Cal every fall, I knew BEAVER at once. I have always wondered if they considered a name change back in the days when your major cities had old theaters that specialized in "beaver flicks". Hunting for "beaver" in that sense seems a little strange, but there is a great old folk song where the hero gets out his sporting gun to hunt for the "Bonny Black Hare." Worth seeking out on YouTube!

I never cease to be amazed that GOYA was a court painter, given his revolutionary themes. But he was, and as a result the Prado in Madrid has an outstanding collection of his works. Madrid is in its way as great a city to visit as Paris, and way cheaper.

Anonymous 11:50 AM  

@Z,
I'm no prude. I'm just not puerile. And I still pity you. A vulgar joke based on anatomy? You should quit while you're behind.

Two Ponies 11:51 AM  

I love a puzzle that teaches me something new like the origin of denim and tittle.
Never cared for Hanna-Barbera cartoons even though I watched them.
Internet annoyances? Too many to list.
Nail salon took awhile since it started as mail _____.
Surprised to see Rose Red, always in the background behind Snow White.

If a bride is inviolate she can wear white not ivory.

Anonymous 11:51 AM  

Have absolutely never seen Rex so mellow and (justifiably) complementary! I don't know what he is smoking this morning, but I sure would like to try some, lol.

Steve Haner 11:53 AM  

Would be surprised if you were unable to find Rum Raisin at Pat Mitchell's. I believe Rum Raisin is a popular but seasonal flavor.

old timer 11:55 AM  

Oh, I should add if you ever are in France, Nimes has a *complete* Roman house (originally a temple) the Maison Carree'. By "complete" I mean it has the original walls and outer columns and has always had a roof, which has been replaced as needed over the centuries. Plus it has one of the best preserved Roman arenas in Europe. Worth a visit, and easy to visit too as it is on the direct TGV line from Paris to the South of France.

Anonymous 11:59 AM  

Yes, great puzzle. And I'm glad to learn "I" dot TITTLE, and surprised I didn't know it. But I'm surprised that no one mentioned what I think is bad cluing for 64A Furniture and such onstage SETPIECES. That's just not what SETPIECES means. SET PIECES are distinct, carefully and often elaborately produced, memorable parts of movies usually, like car chases or dance numbers.

Now, in fairness, I did find the following, unknown to me despite my experience acting in and directing plays:

Set Piece: Theater. a piece of scenery used as part of a stage set, as a profile or three-dimensional construction built to stand independently on the stage floor: A few set pieces simulating rocks and a fence constituted the scenery for the first act.

But that definition does not include chairs. Simply a piece of a set does not make something a SETPIECE, any more than a tooth is a mouthpiece, or six and two are pieces of eight.

Masked and Anonymous 12:00 PM  

@RP: yo. Raisin' the RUMRAISIN issue again? Alrightee, then.. As of last night. Cold Stone Creamery ain't got it. The guy did say that he could go ahead and come mighty close, by addin raisins to whatever other flave we picked, if we BYOB-ed the rum. That'd make quite a photo op.

*** *** *** <--- (tittles)

Smooth FriPuz, with a few noteworthy M&A troublespots …

* NIMES+ANOUK. Kinda tough side-by-side crossers, when tryin desperately to figure out the NW 9-stack. Survived test #1, cuz MOONLIGHT was a gimme.

* VAGUEBOOKS. Learned somethin new and probably worthless, but got this sucker from the crosses. No BIB/RIB dilemma, today. Sooo … ok, on test #2. Lost alarmin amount of precious nanoseconds, tho.

* T?TTLE/R?ENZI. This came down to a one in five shot, for the M&A. When in doubt, I guesses U. Not today, M&A breath. Flamed out my bonus solvepoints, on test #3.

Had ????AB at 22-Across, and was driven nuts tryin to come up with the NASA project. Eventually, rescued by LINOLEUM. Which floored m&e, that I hadn't already thought of SKYLAB. M&A's brain cells are slowly turnin to rumraisin, I reckon ...

staff weeject pick: BOT. Mainly becuz it has a clue that was too hot for M&A to handle. All I know is I BOT the farm, understandin what that clue was all about.

Thanx, Mr. Kravis. Fun and feisty rodeo, but that one cross RUENZI-ed m&e.

Masked & Anonymo5Us


5 in 5 shot, here:
**gruntz**

Joseph Michael 12:02 PM  

Was sure that 58a was "enforking" (even though I had never actually heard of such a word), so the SE corner was a challenge, especially with TOPCAT and ROLO crossing AT A PRICE.

Liked VAGUE BOOKS (even though I had never heard of that either) and many OTHER entries, such as TITTLE (great word), BEAVER (great animal) and MAD TV (great comedy show of yore).

There were some things about the puzzle I didn't like. But after reading Rex's rave review, I don't want to say anything negative for fear of breaking the spell.

Rex, maybe you should keep doing the puzzle in the morning instead of at night. It seems to have put you in quite a good mood. Or maybe it was just all the ice cream you ate.



Pete 12:34 PM  

Beautiful puzzle, but on the hard side for me, based solely on my time. I hate the timer in Across Lite and usually turn it off before I start solving, but today I didn't. I only turned it off at my standard Friday PB1 puzzle time * 1.2 when I was less than halfway through.

As for Rum Raisin, the internet isn't good for anything if it's not good for random lists, and it acquitted itself quite nicely for ranking ice cream flavors. An exhaustive search, where in this case 'exhaustive' means until Pete got bored, of [rank ice cream flavors], Rum Raisin only showed up twice in the lists. Once was a listing of all flavors offered by Bassets Ice Cream where it came in 25th, just ahead of Peach. The other was the 10 worst flavors on Huff Post, where it ranked #8, just behind Licorice.

Tim Aurthur 12:43 PM  

I spent a good part of the 1980s staring into grocery store freezers at all the Haagen-Dazs containers of RUM RAISIN and wondering, "Does anyone ever buy that?"

Joe Bleaux 1:18 PM  

Excellent Friday puzzle. Thanks, AK. Familiarity with the Geek Squad got me connected in the SW, and I worked up from there, enjoying excellent cluing all the way. Write-overs, though, on SEEM for SIFT, and ALL PRO for NBA til I came to my senses (even before the crosses). In the NE, luckily caught my misread of "Filing" and the AI in the downs gave me a quick NAIL SALON to start the section. VAGUE BOOKS a new one on me, too (first mentally tried BOAST and BOOST, which of course didn't work with OYL or NETWORKING). An all-around satisfying solve. Happy Friday, all.

Aketi 1:26 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Aketi 1:29 PM  

I confess that I sometimes do VAGUE BOOK just cuz.

FYI, I think that there is a difference between RISK takers and the RISK PRONE. Life would not be living without taking some RISKs even if that sometimes does come AT A PRICE.

@Anonymous 11:50 am, I'm surprised you didn't object to the TONGUE and the STRAPS accompanying the BEAVER in the Puzzle.

@Sir Hillary, TMI alert, don't read further.

@Tim Aurthur, yes absolutely someone does buy it, especially when Rex Parker effectively double dog dares us to find it and show a picture of ourselves eating or not eating it. I actually eat ice cream only about once a year and I just had an artisanal strawberry ice cream sandwich on the HighLine with my sister last week when she was visiting me. Since Rex threw down the gauntlet (and the ice cream sandwich was unworthy of its artisanal label), I am going to double down on my annual ice cream quota. I just discovered with 10 seconds of effort that Emack and Bolio's has RUM RAISIN on the menu. Then I am going to make up for it by going to the gym this afternoon and fight club tomorrow even though I went to BJJ this morning. That's how much I love RUM RAISIN.

Anouk Comic Moonlights 1:35 PM  

I'd like to see a puzzle where Mahershala ALI marries Mahala Yousafzi ...

By the way, ALI also was the courtly soldier love interest in "Hidden Figures" (dreadfully titled but good film about the unappreciated women at NASA)

I saw them back to back and couldn't figure out why he looked so familiar...
It's quite the Daniel Day Lewis trick ("My Beautiful Launderette" as gay punk and uptight English gentleman prig in "A Room with a View") to appear in two Oscar nominated films that were relatively small, playing wildly different characters and sort of burst onto the scene!
Now in the NYT puzzles no less.

I learned the whole "de Nimes" thing from another puzzle, maybe even this blog so am surprised that that threw so many folks...
It threw me at the beginning bec I thought that was like including the answer in the clue, which is a no-no. But I guess there's no other way to clue Nimes that wouldn't be way too obscure.

We could ask Andy Kravis, but my guess is that the N?ILS??ON parallel was either intentional for balance or more likely he had been experimenting with 9 letter triple stacks and one was an earlier version of the other.

I've never made a triple or quad stack puzzle but I imagine you do them as separate SET PIECES and then sort of glue them together... I know that's how some collaborators work where one person does the top half and the other the bottom.

VAGUEBOOK posts ("I'm so sad but send me good vibes but I can't tell you why because I don't want to jinx it..."), like pictures of food, are things that trigger my unfriending instincts!

Cassieopia 1:41 PM  

I still struggle mightily with Friday/Saturday puzzles, so while this was a DNF, I got closer than usual.

Had RISKtaker before RISKPRONE, but OLE saved me there.

I couldn't get past the center, though. Had ALLproTEAM and was so convinced it was correct, and couldn't remember TOPCAT to save my life (hePCAT was as close as I got) that I never got a toehold there.

Then, not knowing RIENZI or VAGUEBOOKS at *all* (I wanted VAGUEBaitS instead, doesn't that make ***so*** much more sense?), I ended up with NulLYgONES as the "dimensions without planes". Polygons, octagons, null as zero...I dunno. Sounded good at the time.

Still, the puzzle was fun while it lasted, and it's encouraging to get further each Friday...

Oh, and TITTLE was the best word in the puzzle, hands down. Now I have to figure out how to use it in an everyday sentence. TITTLE alone was worth the price of admission.

Happy weekend, all!

Cassieopia 1:45 PM  

@M&A - you tittling at your Cold Stone Creamery story made my day.

Anonymous 2:37 PM  

Me too !! Well maybe 800 yards.

Anonymous 4:34 PM  

@Aketi,
I didn't object to beaver in the puzzle. I objected to @z making a beaver joke. I find it crude. I'm a little surprised you dont.

Aketi 4:47 PM  

@Anonymous 4:34 pm. I guess because there is so much flagrantly distasteful language about women's body parts in the news and social media that BEAVER seems almost quaint in comparison. About the level of "gosh darn it" versus the "F-bomb".

David Schinnerer 5:12 PM  

That WAS NOT Michael Sharp writing the review today...was it? Far too nice and complimentary...wow.

Am I the only one who still can't figure out the "bot" thing? Explanation someone??

Thanks.

Stone and Chisel 5:34 PM  

I'm with @ David Schinnerer, I don't understand "bot" either.

GILL I. 6:34 PM  

@David S and @Stone and C
a BOT is a computer program that simulates a human and then spams the hell out of you. Very annoying. "A strong net effect" is putting it mildly....!

Diana,LIW 7:07 PM  

Writing to @LMS from Syndieland

Loren - Damn it - you are a writer. Everyone says so. What are you waiting for? Summer vacation. It's here. Start you David Sedaris-competing memoir now!

Diana, LIW

Thomaso808 7:54 PM  

Just picked up a pint of RUM RAISIN ice cream at the local Safeway in Kailua, Hawaii. It's pretty yummy!

BarbieBarbie 8:53 PM  

@Stuart, me too on BACHARACH. Still humming. 3-3-4/8 beat, classic BB. Not sure that's his right spelling, but it did fit.
I think we are seeing the difference between Cheerful Morning Rex and Grumpy Evening Rex. I enjoyed this puzzle too, but it doesn't seem like quite the outlier OFL describes.
Yesterday I said Eewww to RR ice cream, but considering that I love sour cream raisin pie, maybe I should try it again.

Anonymous 9:33 PM  

for most meetings I have been in NOTWORKING makes more sense.

So many missing for me, VOICE instead of POISE, BUGS instead of LAGS , BAT instead of BOT, TWIX instead of ROLO, great one with MAYO, nice.

Hartley70 12:54 AM  

I went for Lyons before NIMES. I had no idea that RIENZI or TOPCAT OR VAGUEBOOKS ever existed, but I had a swell time with this puzzle. I think I agree with weirdly Happy Rex completely.

I met Andy Kravis at the Westport Tournament I believe. He was young and nicely modest in the face of his win. Seeing this puzzle, he's got it ALL going on in the puzzle world!

Adam Frank 12:14 PM  

No one will ever convince me that VAGUEBOOKS is a word, although it was gettable from the crosses, as was RIENZI. I loved TOPCAT when I was a kid. Loved the clue for NO FLY ZONES, and as @Rex said, the fill was clean with a minimum of old-school crosswordese, but VAGUEBOOKS ruined it for me - it's the first time I've ever seen that sequence of letters together, and to me it's just new-school crosswordese - a word only seen in crosswords, never in real life.

Albert A. Barbieri, Jr. 12:15 PM  

Tomcat cohorts: ChooChoo, FancyFancy and Benny the Ball.

fiddleneck 12:22 PM  

Why is a perp a kind of walk?

Andy 6:36 PM  

Many opera fans know of Rienzi...though I bet no one has ever seen a production of it! Rex, you need to brush up your opera. It makes puzzle solving much easier! :)

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