Stola woman / FRI 11-27-15 / Halluces / Follower of Able / Supports for gypsum boards / Adventurer in Grouchland in 1999 film / Onetime Ice Cube collaborator informally

Friday, November 27, 2015

Constructor: Peter Wentz

Relative difficulty: Medium (tilting toward Easy)

THEME: none 

Word of the Day: PETARD (40D: Small bomb used for breaking down gates) —

• • •

Started out crushing it, as I often do with Wentz freestyles, but then got repeatedly stymied, sometimes by my own mistakes, sometimes by genuinely puzzling / tough stuff. Maybe it's the alcohol or the pie or the seconds I had of both alcohol and pie. Maybe the puzzle is actually very easy and my brain was just in a feast-induced fog. But I don't think so. Thanksgiving dinner already feels like it happened a million years ago. Or yesterday, at least. The whole early eating thing is lovely when it's happening, but disconcerting later. All night, I kept wondering how it could be as early as the clock was telling me it was. I've been falling asleep early lately, it's true, but ... 7pm? My body was like "Yes!" but my brain was like "Bad idea." And my brain won. Anyhow, eating and drinking are both far enough in the past that I don't think they played a role in any solving slowness. Plus, I've had a Ton of coffee, so alertness is not an issue. No, I think this one was a pretty normal Friday, difficulty-wise. Quality-wise, I think it was solidly above average.

I was a bit clunky out of the gate, as I wrote in ZINS for CABS (1A: Napa options, informally), and had trouble convincing myself that Sublime were really SKA. But once I got LURK (15A: Browse without comment) and changed ZINS to CABS, those Downs started to drop and after just a minute or so I was already here:

It probably helped that I'm a huge John O'HARA fan and that I'd seen that exact clue on M.I.A. very recently (19A: "Bad Girls" rapper) and that I eat BOK CHOY with reasonable frequency (22A: Chinese cabbage). From here, it looked like I was going to sail easily into the NE—SNAP ON, in, TODAY, in, and then ... 7D: "Goodness!" I had ---Y and went with "OH, MY!" And that, right there, was probably the difference between Easy-Medium and Medium for me. A dumb little four-letter answer, but it kept me from getting Any of those Acrosses up there. Total stymification. So I went down and got RESPECTS and followed it further down into the SW corner, which seemed pretty easy until I got to AVERAGE ... what? I wrote in JOE at first, but there are multiple reasons why *that* was obviously wrong (51A: Regular joes). I wrote in MEN but took it out because AVERAGE MEN is not a phrase. And yet ... there it is. That is easily the most disappointing thing in the grid. I wrote in "AVERAGE JOE" for a reason—because that's the phrase. I'd also accept AVERAGE GUY. But MEN? Blargh.

I managed to crawl up the central passage to the NW, where I finally got OH, MY changed to I SAY!, and then that just left the SE, which was weirdly full of pitfalls. Dropped ENGINE ROOM no problem (28D: Scotty's domain on "Star Trek"), but other stuff proved harder. Got vocabbed to death there with both "stola" and "halluces" being huge WTFs for me. Even with -OG- in place at 35A: Stola : woman :: ___ : man (TOGA), my only thought was "... DOGE?" And [Halluces] had me thinking (perhaps not surprisingly) "hallucinates." Wrong. Also, the (awesome) clue on TEXT was tough to see through (35D: Exchange between cell mates?). Finally ended it all by conceding that the MEN in AVERAGE MEN had to be right. Is BAKER part of some radio alphabet or something. "Able, BAKER ... Candlestickmaker?" Who knows? All I know is that I got the Happy Pencil. Game over. Had a great birthday/Thanksgiving. Looking forward to a long weekend of leftovers and lollygagging.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Music Man 12:20 AM  

I Ike's this one a lot, except for the NW, which for you seemed to be pretty easy. It was my last area. And yes it's the joint army/navy phonetic alphabet that was used before the NATO alphabet. Had sEXT, which would've been better any way. Lots of good stuff, READY SET GO, YO MAMA JOKE, VOODOO DOLL, NO SIREE BOB, AUDIOPHILE, stellar!

Homer Twigg 12:33 AM  


Before 1955 there were a number of different standards in use, such as:
The old U.S. Navy Radio Alphabet:
Able Baker Charlie Dog Easy Fox George How Item
Jig King Love Mike Nan Oboe Peter Queen Roger
Sugar Tare Uncle Victor William X-ray Yoke Zebra

Homer Twigg 12:34 AM  


Before 1955 there were a number of different standards in use, such as:
The old U.S. Navy Radio Alphabet:
Able Baker Charlie Dog Easy Fox George How Item
Jig King Love Mike Nan Oboe Peter Queen Roger
Sugar Tare Uncle Victor William X-ray Yoke Zebra

jae 1:12 AM  

Easy except for NE where @Rex I too had ohmY before ISAY which led to NO how no way for 16a.  RECUSE, DENTYNE and IBID fixed it but it took a while.  So, easy tilting towards medium...or WHATEVER...

WOE: ECKO. I've seen the halluces clue before.

CLIMB OVER seems like an understatement for crossing a range.

Liked this a bunch.  Lots of zip.  Let the lollygaging begin!

Anonymous 2:43 AM  

Minor Tour de France theme for me with "handlebars" and "petard" and "yo mamma joke."

"Handlears" and "Ready Set Go." Obvious.

"Petard" is so delicious and something I would expect to hear from Phil and Paul, like "fracas."

Of course, I can just imaging Bob Roll telling a "yo mamma joke" when the cameras are off. Roll on, Bobke!

It's never too early to think about the Tour.


konnofromtokyo 3:23 AM  

i was wondering about able baker too. space monkeys.

Moshe 4:32 AM  

Able, Baker, Charlie ... as in Checkpoint Charlie, Baker company,

OldCarFudd 6:04 AM  

Able, baker, - - - , is the beginning of the World War II era phonetic alphabet. In recent years it's been alpha, bravo, - - - . I don't know why it was changed.

Jim Segal 6:34 AM  

Baker is part of the radio alphabet. From WWII and maybe FAA

George Barany 6:49 AM  

Thanks for relating your experiences, @Rex, and again, glad that you were able to enjoy the simultaneous birthday and Thanksgiving.

My own take-home lesson from the @Peter Wentz effort -- it helps to step away a bit and come back to the puzzle. Given how often @Will Shortz-edited puzzles use "cabbage" as a tell for money, it was anticlimactic to find that BOK_CHOY was actually, well, "cabbage." And with the recent controversies about cluing MEN, today we see an adjective, albeit an AVERAGE one, in front of that common plural for {supply your own description}.

How many of you know the back-story behind "hoisted by one's own PETARD"? This explanation is as good as any:

Z 7:30 AM  

I had BIG -OES before I realized we had gone digital plus. Yep before YAH made e-E-AGE MAN a head scratcher. I used Evan's heuristic to guess PETARD and grok NOVA, which showed me that I had hoisted myself on my own PETARD with Yep.

Fun solve.

kvilksen 7:42 AM  

Probably my fastest Friday ever. Had NW in 2 minutes. Like Rex started with ohmY. But quickly erased it because I always want a STIFFDRINK after work. Was hoping I wasn't alone in that! Guessed on BAKER (after erasing "ready"). All in all enjoyed this and it made me feel good!

The Bard 7:43 AM  

HAMLET: There's letters seal'd: and my two schoolfellows,
Whom I will trust as I will adders fang'd,
They bear the mandate; they must sweep my way,
And marshal me to knavery. Let it work;
For 'tis the sport to have the engineer
Hoist with his own petard
: and 't shall go hard
But I will delve one yard below their mines,
And blow them at the moon: O, 'tis most sweet,
When in one line two crafts directly meet.
This man shall set me packing:
I'll lug the guts into the neighbour room.
Mother, good night. Indeed this counsellor
Is now most still, most secret and most grave,
Who was in life a foolish prating knave.
Come, sir, to draw toward an end with you.
Good night, mother.

Hamlet, Act III, scene IV

Anonymous 7:50 AM  

Exceptional puzzle.

There's letters seal'd, and my two schoolfellows,
Whom I will trust as I will adders fang'd—
They bear the mandate, they must sweep my way
And marshal me to knavery. Let it work;
For 'tis the sport to have the enginer
Hoist with his own PETARD, an't shall go hard
But I will delve one yard below their mines
And blow them at the moon.

Hamlet Act 3, scene 4, 202–209

Anonymous 7:52 AM  

AVERAGEMEN or not, this was one of the most enjoyable, clever, and AHA!-filled puzzles I can remember doing in q very long time.

Casco Kid 7:59 AM  

Easy medium here, and 39 minutes of fun. I did it after crashing-and-burning Byron Walden's AVCXW this week. I remain oh-for-Walden. So In my regular post-Walden foul mood, I turned to Wentz to cheer me up. He did, and fast. I've been asking for CYMRU for 18 months. Glad to see it make an appearance, if only as a clue.

LURK is apt insofar as I met a Rexworld LURKER in Liberia last week. Hola, @slapshot!!!! Stand and unfold yourself! @slap, like George, spent his first 22 years in NYC but has been living on the far side of the Mississippi for the last 50 years. I asked him if he'd feel like a fish-out-of-water if he were dropped back into Manhattan. He listed to port, raised his right hand to forehead height, palm down and fingers splayed, waggled it inecisively and said in a painful grimace, "Ehhhhhh . . . " YOUCANTAKETHEBOYOUTOFTHECITYBUT! Hmmm, sounds like a @GeorgeBarany theme, no?

Last week I was 6/7 missing on Sunday. This week, as I deliberately misspelled the gray squares yesterday, my streak is back to uno.

Hey, be sure to ecotour Liberia. Monkeys. Birds. Crocodiles. Tropical cloud forests. Volcanoes. Internationally aclaimed surfing along the rich coast. No standing army. All on Chicago time. ANADLE!

Your loyal first grader, @cascokid.

John Child 8:24 AM  

I'd always assumed that PETARD was a strap or rope, based on "hoist by one's own petard," but I now understand the idiom. Cool... Halluces made me think of my wild youth.

I liked this a lot.

Teedmn 8:31 AM  

I was hoist with my own PETARD today. I consider this a pretty easy Friday. CABS went in right away, and the NW fell fast but like @Rex, I had ohmY at 7D. Wandering down to the SW, I put in Nuke at 44D off NOTIP. I couldn't quite remember designer Marc's surname. YOMAMAJOKE made Nuke wrong. So with P_TA__ at 40D, I put in PoTAto, thinking it would be a small bomb.

The SE was easiest for me: with ELMO, CLOG and BOOT confirmed by BCE, I climbed up from there, making the answers for Halluces and Stola fall into place with crosses. Going up the center, I was able to overcome my NE mess caused by ohmY and also my 13D Naes, then cOns. NO SIREE BOB cleaned all of that up, leaving my SW still unfinished. I finally saw AVERAGE MEN and HANDLE BARS, but I left 40D at PoTARD (was I thinking "pottage"?)

I don't think I'll need a STIFF DRINK to recover from my DNF, so thanks, Peter Wentz, for a chewy Friday puzzle.

kitshef 8:46 AM  

NOwaynohOw before NOSIREEBOB, DENTiNE before DENTYNE, iso before BCE, soap before RAGS. That's a pretty clean Friday (for me).

Some delightful cluing. Target for a snake, Dating inits., What's the point, Exchange between cell mates, Starting line (lucky for me READYSteadyGO wouldn't fit), One stuck abroad. And lovely answers: AUDIOPHILE, VOODOODOLL, YOMAMAJOKE,NOSIREEBOB.

You won't find a puzzle much better than this. My woes (ECKO, OHARA) were fairly crossed and there is precious little junk considering the number of 3- and 4-lws (YAH being by far the worst offender).

BIGTOES should have been easier for me, as I know the big toe as the hallux, but never made the connection to the plural until I had BI_TOES filled in.

I wonder how you would hoist someone from a small bomb.

quilter1 8:48 AM  

I really liked this, although I got slowed down in different spots than @Rex. The NW was the last to fall for me. But very enjoyable solve with answers that made me smile. Happy lollygagging, everyone.

pauer 8:50 AM  

I went with OHMY, as well. D'oh!

Fun puz. Glad you had a nice bday, which my unborn daughter will not be sharing, it seems. She'll be here soon, though!

August West 9:06 AM  

11:17 of delicious post-Thanksgiving dessert. Look at that beautiful baby. KBS and AVERAGEMEN are the only groans in it. Loved it.

Nancy 9:11 AM  

Imaginative cluing and colorful answers. What's not to love about this puzzle? Not knowing E-KO slowed me down, and I did have to look up "halluces" to get BIG TOES. I never watched "Star Trek, so I had no idea where Scotty hung out. I had PLUG before CLOG and OUST before BOOT. Most of all, I had HAH before YAH, which I imagine I'll find out many of you did when I go back to read your comments. I loved STIFF DRINK crossing FRESHENS and I was looking for a 3rd such answer at "What to grab for the road." HANDLEBARS, clever though it was, was such a letdown. This, to me, was everything a themeless should be. Lively and entertaining.

Ludyjynn 9:21 AM  

This is my favorite kind of solving experience, a toehold here and there: ELK, CAINE, SKA, ENGINEROOM, JEB, allowing whole quads to gradually open up like a blossoming flower, starting w/ the NW and ending w/ the NE.

Writeovers: 'ad out' before NO TIP (great clue!) and 'nays' before NOES. Briefly had 'mend' for SPAY, my favorite clue and aha moment. As Bob Barker says: please spay and neuter your pets!

So much to like TODAY. Thanks, PW. You have my utmost RESPECT.

jberg 9:46 AM  

My experience was very similar to Rex's -- NW corner went right in (though in my case without noticing M.I.A.), badly delayed by oh mY, difficulty seeing 'halluces' as anything but a verb. I also wanted cAtS before MARS, but which at least made me see that Bravo should be BAKER.

Is BOK tOY, which sometimes shows up in my box share, just a variant transliteration of BOK CHOY?

I enjoyed the solving expereience -- but REDID? Really?

jberg 9:47 AM  

And @The Bard is back! Welcome back, I've missed you!

Jamie C 10:00 AM  

Cruised through this loverly Friday gem. If AVERAGE (green?) MEN is the only thing wrong one can find with a puzzle, it's doing pretty well. Count me in for sEXT before TEXT, and the nice-mean trap of ohmy before ISAY. Unlike Rex, I solve better after a few drinks.

Billy Shakes 10:05 AM  

There's letters seal'd: and my two schoolfellows,
Whom I will trust as I will adders fang'd,
They bear the mandate; they must sweep my way
And marshal me to knavery. Let it work;
For 'tis the sport to have the enginer
Hoist with his own PETAR'; and 't shall go hard
But I will delve one yard below their mines
And blow them at the moon: O, 'tis most sweet,
When in one line two crafts directly meet.

Jamie C 10:22 AM  

@kitshef @ 0846: You answered your own question. One is not hoisted FROM a petard, one is hoisted BY a petard; the small bomb explodes and lifts one from the ground.

Mohair Sam 10:35 AM  

@Ludyjynn - Our solving experience in this house matched yours almost word for word. Same toeholds, same "adout", same "nays". Amazing - I'll spare you the thing about great minds.

Learned here where 'hoisting on his own PETARD' comes from, thanks all.

Four neat triple-stacked tens and not a lot of 'ese', impressive. Loved the clues for YOMAMAJOKE and ADAGENCIES. Lotta great clues today as a matter of fact.

Mrs. Mohair will not allow BOKCHOY in this house - @chefwen or @chefbea please come to my aid and tell her it's great stuff.

We have visited the Wyeth Museum at Chadds Ford, and attended an Andrew Wyeth exhibit at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. A print of "Christina's World" has hung in our living room for over 30 years - we made a trip to the Museum of Modern Art specifically to see the real thing. Yet the first "M" in MOMA was our last entry. Go figure.

Chuck McGregor 10:48 AM  

YAH, I SAY, those DANES from BCE were not your AVERAGE MEN. NOSIREE BOB. They could be, in all RESPECTS, real STUDS with BIGTOES. O (what) MEN LURKing in the TEXT of many a CANTO,

I BID you a fine day TODAY and remember -- SPAY STUDS.

Alison 11:10 AM  

If only every NYT puzzle were as clever and satisfying as this one!

Tita 11:13 AM  

Finished! Lots of great fill here. Fun to solve.

Sure, I know the alphabet...when you make airline reservations with an actual person, they will repeat res codes back to you using it in some form. My cryptologist puzspouse uses it all the time.


Learned about Halluces...though I bemoan whatever more interesting tidbit slid off my cookie tray of knowledge in order to make room for this one.

Joseph Michael 11:14 AM  

Enjoyed this a lot in spite of having PITARD instead of PETARD. A much better answer for fashion designer Marc whose last name would have ended up ICKO..

Thought the cluing was especially clever and challenging and admired the 10s that wrap around the grid.

Favorite moment: VOODOO DOLL as one stuck abroad.

old timer 11:25 AM  

Nays before NOES here too. And oh my before ISAY, which was perfectly clued. The poor BOK CHOY gets no respect around here, but like it in a stir fry. The SE was tough. I had SAXONY at once, but only after Googling for ELMO did I get VOODOO DOLL, and accept that the ENGINE was in fact followed by ROOM.

Finished with YO MAMA JOKE, and was wondering if someone is going to complain.

Excellent puzzle all round, and a belated HBD and HTD to OFL. Nice writeup today.

Lewis 11:33 AM  

@rex -- Another terrific writeup, you are in the zone. As for AVERAGEMEN, "average man" is certainly a phrase ("the average man drinks x cups of coffee a day..."), and so Peter/Will must have figured this would qualify as well. Like you, I'm not so sure.

As for the puzzle, it fell smoothly for me except for the SW, and there is an abundance of things to like in it. Clues: SPRAINS, SPAY, VOODOODOLL, BCE, RESPECTS, and MARS. Answers: FRESHENS, NOSIREEBOB, VOODOODOLL, RECUSE, BREAKRANKS, and STIFFDRINK. And I like how FRESHENS meets STIFF DRINK.

I didn't like YAH either as a word or its clue. Is YAH common here to anyone? (I'm not talking about "ya" as in "see ya later".) And for that ABLE follower, I considered "bagel" for a few moments, thinking it was possibly a chain. Overall, just a terrific Friday solving experience, with challenge, ahas, and spark.

Amelia 11:42 AM  

One of those "I can't believe he doesn't know this" scenarios. (Able, baker....) But got to give Rex credit for admitting it.

Wm. C. 11:48 AM  

For those of us who have lived in France, petard has a inelegant secondary meaning. ;-)

Steely Dan 11:58 AM  

Soul satisfying puzzle for Black Friday.

Andrew Heinegg 12:20 PM  

This was a lovely puzzle and cheating finish for me because of the SW and petard, thinking the old saw did not indicate a bomb so much as a plan that backfired. However, fair is fair and this puzzle was so well done, one can only admire it in spite of the failure to complete it.

Barbara Weinstein 12:36 PM  

I don't see how this could ever be an "easy" Friday. Even with the "y" it took me forever to get "Fix, as a toy"--a double tricky clue. Average Men was unavoidable but, like Rex, it took me a long time to accept it. I originally had No Way No How, instead of Nosiree Bob. But by far the worst for me was the cross of VINE and CARE. I eventually resigned myself to those being correct, but I still cannot figure out how "care" could be an answer for "pains." Can someone help me out here?

Carola 12:56 PM  

Easy and a treat to solve.

Mohair Sam 1:07 PM  

@Lewis - My brother-in-law Carl (rest his soul), a native of Queens, used the term YAH frequently and it meant "oh, sure" and nothing else. Maybe it's a New York City thing.

Mike D 1:20 PM  

@Wm C: Speak for yourself. My PETARD is anything but inelegant!

Jamie C 1:23 PM  

The crossworld: the only place where the word "toy" can ONLY mean dog. It never, ever, means a plaything.

AliasZ 1:43 PM  

I liked this very much, especially VOODOO DOLL, BACK PAGE, AUDIOPHILE, STIFF DRINK, the YO-YO MA JOKE, and especially READY, SET, GO! AVERAGE MEN, not so much.

I also think RESPECTS should have been clued as a verb rather than a plural noun. At a memorial, RESPECT is being paid many times over, which doesn't make them RESPECTS. "Many people paid their RESPECT" sounds right, "many people paid their RESPECTS" sounds off. Am I wrong?

Let us listen to the BOKCHOY Theater Orchestra play the overture to Khachaturian's Spartacus.

Nice one, Peter.

Enjoy your long weekend.

Court Jeffster 1:57 PM  

> I still cannot figure out how "care" could be an answer for "pains." Can someone help me out here?

It's idiomatic, @Barb. "They took great pains not to damage the 4' tall celebrity wedding cake while lifting it from the delivery van." "Care" would work as a substitute for "pains" in this particular scenario.

Anonymous 2:10 PM  

OK, let me try and represent the Trekkie world for a second. Scottie did not work in the engine room. he worked in engineering. later, Georgi worked in main engineering. I got so hung up on that that it took me an extra ten minutes to do this puzzle. I kept trying to get engineering to fit, and then I hit that stupid average men problem, so it occurred to me that maybe there was a rebus in here somewhere. Sorry, I'm not happy with this puzzle. And i guess "yo mama" is part of the NYT puzzle ghetto theme we've been seeing lately.

Kevin Denelsbeck 2:16 PM  

Really nice puzzle, with lively longer fills and non-annoying short ones. Great cluing on SPAY and TEXT. Also, thanks Rex for the Rachel Sweet video, she should've been huge but didn't have enough original material. That said, one of her remakes ("Everlasting Love", with Rex Smith) is one of very favorite remakes ever. The video is low budget, but the song itself has terrific energy!

Da Bears 2:16 PM  

A belated happy birthday, Rex!

Alby 2:17 PM  

Way slower than average for me. Got hung up on VICE instead of VINE (and hence, BREAKRACKS instead of BREAKRANKS) because Vice has been in the news a lot. Got faked out by ENTERPRISE in place of ENGINEROOM. I've only ever heard YESSIREEBOB. Great cluing on ADAGENCIES and SPAY. AVERAGEMEN is made up. VOODOODOLL took me a while because I couldn't be sure if "stuck" meant "stabbed" (as in hip-hop slang -- the NYT crossword's been doing a lot of that lately). All in all, a good puzzle to wake up to on work-free Black Friday. Doable but not without its tough spots.

OISK 2:43 PM  

What @Nancy said. Really nice, smooth Friday. Easy or not, it is gratifying to solve Friday after DNF on Tues and Wed.! I got stuck for a moment, just a moment, on a spelling failure. Is it Audio, or Audeo? Why that didn't click in immediately, I don't know - old age? Of course a rapper (MIA) was no help at all!

Loved the clue for voodoo doll. No need for a stiff drink after this one, a nice cab will do. It is a really gorgeous day in NY, perfect for outdoor crossword solving...

Letterpress Distilling 2:48 PM  

I thought this was the easiest Friday I've seen in many years. I commented to my wife, "This is like a regular Wednesday or easy Thursday..." Perhaps the clue construction was just in my wheelhouse. I filled the NW straight away and kept thinking, "Ok, the hammer's gonna drop when I leave this section." Never did. And I usually finish about half the Fridays I start...

Came here and was shocked to see it listed as "medium."

dick swart 2:50 PM  

Thank goodness this was shading toward easy after Turkey Torpor Black Friday.

Radio phonetics changed by the time I was learning Morse at Ft Hood, TX in 1957 at 103 degrees with headphones on!

Alpha, Bravo, Charlie, Delta, Echo, Foxtrot, Golf, Hotel, India, Juliet, Kilo, Lima, Mike, November, Oscar, Papa, Quebec, Romeo, Sierra, Tango, Uniform, Victor, Whiskey, Xray, Yankee, Zulu.

And my most used shortcuts: IMI - send again your last transmission and QRU - send again slowly.

Numinous 4:11 PM  

Happy Day-After-Your-Birthday, @Rex and many more to come. Now I know, you and I are both Sagitarii. If one buys that stuff, that sorta 'splains something to me.

I guess I found this one to be about average. The nice thing about the late-week puzzles, for me, is that usually everything fits so well that the happy pencil has to pop up.

When I looked at the clue, I thought about mending but a poodle hoped into my mental lap and I put SPAY without another thought. I had thought abou ohmY but didn't put it in until the long acrosses made ISAY obvious. ENGINE ROOM went in straight away without another thought. As I think about it, ENGINEering is a more appropriate answer but Star Trek has all but vanished in my rear view mirror. I just read an interesting article in The Atlantic Monthly about a Star Trek episode that delves very deeply into the nature of communication. It was called "Darmok. Fascinating. TNG seems to have a redeeming feature or two.

One year, I never got around to taking the Christmas lights down from my house and got ribbed by my neighbors all year long about it, "So, when are you going to take down your lights?" Right after dinner that Thanksgiving day, I turned them on. A bit later, as we stood out in the middle of the street I got to say, "So, when are you going to get around to putting your lights up?"

I hope y'all are gearing up for a warm and wonderful Christmas.

Nancy 5:02 PM  

@Alias (1:43 pm) -- I almost always agree with you on everything, but I'm shocked, shocked that you would pay your RESPECT rather than your RESPECTS at a funeral. The plural may not make that much sense grammatically, but it absolutely IS the idiom that's always used. I've never heard it said any other way, in fact.

@Barbara Weinstein (12:36) -- Take CARE to avoid that drone flying right over your head. Take PAINS to avoid that drone flying right over your head. (And did I happen to mention that there's a drone flying right over your head?) BTW, I also was thinking NO WAY NO HOW for NO SIREE, BOB, but I didn't write it in because the crosses weren't working. Was anyone else here initially thinking that?

Court Jeffster 5:03 PM  

> OK, let me try and represent the Trekkie world for a second. Scottie did not work in the engine room. he worked in engineering. later, Georgi worked in main engineering. I got so hung up on that that it took me an extra ten minutes to do this puzzle. I kept trying to get engineering to fit, and then I hit that stupid average men problem, so it occurred to me that maybe there was a rebus in here somewhere. Sorry, I'm not happy with this puzzle. And i guess "yo mama" is part of the NYT puzzle ghetto theme we've been seeing lately.

@Scotties, I guess such comments are part of an Old Yellers Network we've been seeing so much of lately.

From Langston Hughes's epic cycle, "Ask Your Mama":

I moved out to Long Island
even farther than St. Albans
(which lately is stone nowhere)
I moved out even farther further farther
On the sound way off the turnpike—
And I'm the only colored
Got there! Yes I made it!
Name in the papers every day!
Famous—the hard way—
From nobody and nothing to where I am.
They know me, too, downtown,
All across the country, Europe—
Me who used to be nobody
Nothing but another shadow
In the quarter of the Negroes,
Now a name, My name—A name!
Yet they asked me out on my patio
Where did I get my money?
I said, from your Mama!

This short passage may give you a sense of how the black pastime of "playing the dozens"/"yo mama jokes"/"snaps" arose in response to the Old Yellers Network who assume the worst of black people and deny them credit for the contributions they have made to our speech and culture. Also why that fierce tradition of dignity might be inspiring to those of us who disidentify with the homogeneous values of the Old Yellers Network.

Hughes' text is not available in the public domain, but you can find it in The Collected Poems of Langston Hughes should you decide to make the effort. And if you can't, there's also a PBS documentary about a musical realization of Hughes' "Ask Your Mama" that confirms the narrow range of what you choose to acknowledge as Culture.

You're welcome.

David Krost 5:14 PM  

One thing I have noticed about you Rex is you complain too easily about an answer like AVERAGE MEN. It is simply swapping the colloquial phrase (regular joes) into the clue list from the grid. Since equalities are commutative (a+b=b+a) it works either way. In other words, you wouldn't have complained if the clue had been "average men" yielding an answer of REGULAR JOES, so no reason to complain about this.

I also completely agree with the comment that Scottie virtually always said he was in "engineering", but I can't swear he never said he was in the ENGINE ROOM when on his own ship. I think there was a time travel episode where he was in the engine room of a nuclear sub.

beatrice 5:54 PM  

Oh my - very nice puzzle, indeed, and one which suggests a bit of musical WHIMSy from the mind and pen of Herr Mozart:

'A Musical JOKE' - (video page includes the Wiki article about this charming piece)

Airymom 5:54 PM  

Great puzzle. Worked on it in the cafeteria during lunch. For the first time in decades, I worked "Black Friday". That's what happens when you work at a hospital rather than the 30 years when I worked for the government. A lot of folks were off, so I had an area to myself. Therefore, when I finally "got" the answer "spay" and slapped the side of my head and yelled "hooray", no one saw. It's a brand new job, no need for folks to think I'm weird.

I hope everyone had a nice Thanksgiving!

Charles Flaster 6:01 PM  

Could not muscle my way out of all these write overs.
ENTERPRISE, OH MY, TRIDENT, REDS, LOOKS, WITS, ADMISSIONS, NONCE, SNAPPY and one of my all time favorite wrong responses: NO HOW NO WAY.
Nuf said.
Thanks PW.

Lewis 6:13 PM  

@aliasz -- I'm with @Nancy here, and have always said/heard "People paid their respects", as best as I can remember.

jack reeves 6:13 PM  

Great puzzle. Really "clicked" for me. The very first Friday puzzle I've ever solved to perfection without a single cheat.

Z 6:25 PM  

@Anon2:10 - Agreed. Only a complete misunderstanding of starship construction would allow ENGINE ROOM as a thing. On a Submarine maybe, but never on a starship. I got it from the crosses, but I wasn't happy about it.

chefwen 8:06 PM  

Was too tired (all day cooking) and too mentally exhausted (damn Packers) to tackle the puzzle last night, but I sure enjoyed it today.

Favorite was 20A SPAY, brought on a big chuckle and a "oh cute" when I got that one. You hear Oh YAH quite often in the Midwest, it's not unusual to hear it several times per sentence.

@Mrs. Mohair, try baby Bok Choy. Steamed until tender crisp, sautéed in a little butter with salt and pepper and finished off with a splash of Balsamic vinegar. Good stuff.

August West 9:21 PM  

If you say, "Oh, sure" and "Yah" in your best "Fargo" Frances McDormand, you will appreciate the brilliance of both clue and answer.

jbt0107 11:39 PM  

Was hard to get in a good mental place for the top right, because I had "NOTACHANCE" rather than "NOSIREEBOB" (which are equally good fills, IMO)

Z 11:48 PM  

@Court Jeffster - Variations on YO MAMA JOKEs go back at least to Babylonia, and Shakespeare had some, too (Villain, I have done thy mother.). While playing the dozens is an African-American thing, the Yo Mama variation belongs to the species.

Your OYN reminds me of an old rejoinder; "I'm not yelling. God is making sure you hear me."*

*I should add that the person yelling this believed it to be true at the time.

Leapfinger 3:01 AM  

Like @Chas Flaster, had ENTERPRISE and TRIDENT as well as the standby OhMy, but weaseled my way clear of all the sneaky traps. Double the pleasure, double the fun.
More Petard BALMS today with that nod to Lord Petard WHIMSy, and a raft of good clues and fill.

@Chuck McGregor, I was thinking that if you SPAY STUDS, you'll get AVERAGE MEN, but that may not be exactly what I had in mind.
@AliasZ, it's as @Nancy said. If you search on it, at "pay my res", Google completes the phrase in the plural. You have my respect free of charge, but I pay my respects.

There's a fine locker-room sequence about YO' MAMA JOKEs in "Remember the Titans", one of my favourite sports films, which is based on Real Life Events, so something of the kind may really have happened.

Funny that @Ludyjinn and others mentioned getting a TOE-hold in the grid today. Got me to thinking that the Pollices you have on hand really do relate to the Halluces afoot. And here's thumb-thing else to think about: when Paul Bunion got Hallux valgus, those were some Really BIG TOES. I could go on with more digital humour, but in dis location I'd probably have to SPRAIN most of technical terms. I must have something indexed.

A worthy Friday, Petard Wentz!

Court Jeffster 7:12 AM  

@AliasZ, I don't choose anecdotes willy nilly. Please note @AZalias the original anti-ghetto context in which the rejoinder was made. Jokes insulting one's family are part of all cultures. The jokes you point to in Shakespeare or in Ancient Babylon are one-liners and have no ramifications beyond their immediate context. My point was that someone like Langston Hughes could transform the one-liner into a principle of organization determining a larger whole. Moreover, as Hughes, Ellison, Baraka, Baldwin, Hurston, Morrison, etc. could tell you, "Yo mama jokes" are part of a black literary and performance tradition (from slavery onward) that entails outdoing one another in friendly rhetorical battle or sounding off against the white antagonist who delegitimates black authority. Let this serve a lesson. Fat anecdote and thick description will always pack more wallop than the flaccid one-liners you've tried to whip out.

Interested Onlooker 7:56 AM  

@Court Gaffester,

@Z and @AliasZ are not the same person. Kindly redirect?

Mr Johnson 8:04 AM  


'Fat'and 'thick' compared to the 'flaccid' whipped out? What are we comparing here?

Z 8:24 AM  

@Court Jeffster - Wrong Z. Always amazing to me that anyone could confuse the two us, but hey, it happens. Also, I think you added meaning to @Anon2:10 that wasn't there. There's been much criticism lately in these comments regarding a level of tone-deafness in the puzzle regarding African-American stereo-typing. I thought that was the point of the comment, not an "anti-ghetto. Intent. Third, Shakespeare wrote "flaccid one-liners?" "I just did your mom" doesn't seem flaccid to me. Fourth, Yes, YO MAMA JOKES are part of insult battle tradition in African America culture. But, they are hardly unique to that tradition (which was my point before). Fifth, "no ramifications beyond their immediate context?" You make some good points, but you don't need to elevate Langston Hughes (for example) by attacking others. I'm not sure we know the context of the Babylonian riddles, but Shakespeare is still read and performed 500 years later exactly because of the ramifications beyond the plays' immediate context. Let's hope that Langston Hughes is studied in 2500 the way Wm. Shakespeare is today.

Michael Stewart 1:41 PM  

The Hartford logo is not an image of an elk, it is a Red Deer. The logo is based on the painting Monarch of the Glen. Elk and Red Deer, while both members of the deer family, are separate species. From Wikipedia entry on Elk:

It [elk] was long believed to be a subspecies of the European red deer (Cervus elaphus), but evidence from a number of mitochondrial DNA genetic studies beginning in 1998 indicate that the two are distinct species. Key morphological differences that distinguish C. canadensis from C. elaphus are the former's wider rump patch and paler-hued antlers.

Diana,LIW 10:48 PM  

It's New Year's Eve. In Syndie Land, our puzzles are Thanksgiving style. I'm watching a slew of ASTA movies on TCM (Nick and Nora sleuths) and am realizing how adorable that pup was. Woopf! Long live ASTA

Also, realizing - that's not true, just wanting to say - that pop culture has changed in subtle and not-so-subtle ways. We discuss almost daily whether a puzzle is "old" or "fresh" when it comes to cultural references. "Stale" some say, or "fresh" others state.

I am here to proclaim the ultimate argument on "old vs. new" in puzzie notes.

Sure - it's nice, fresh, and good to have some "current" references in the NYTP. After all, it's the NYTP! However, cultural references have changed in one very specific way in the last coupla decades. Are you ready? Here's my argument:

Years ago, in the not-so distant past, we had 3 TV channels, land-line telephones, and letters.

Now, we have 700-plus TV channels, Smart/Stupid/Land/I?and phone of the day phones. "Social Media" has us in touch with a few thousand people we'll never meet. All of these outlets give us news of music/shows/news/celebrities/reality people, and various variations.

In other words, we used to have a common culture. We now have a jillion possibilities.l It's just too much to expect the average (or even uncommon "puzzer person") to keep track of.

THIS IS WHY PUZZLES THAT SKEW "OLDER" ARE FAIRER!!!!!!!!!! We all know Lucy and Ricky, Abe was Lincoln, Asta was that cute pooch, and Shirley Temple was Shirley
Temple. I know what a Victrola is, how to do the Charleston, and why quill pens were used to sign the Declaration of Independence. Even old media is still the "norm" via re-runs.

Yes, it's fair to glean the wheat from the chaff by discovering who knows the "angry goddess of toe fungus," or the "Urdu phrase for nose hairs." We all (we crossworders) need to have a bit of knowledge of extreme trivia. However, a puz filled with only "current" trivia (names/titles/etc.) is merely frustrating. And, ultimately...stupid. There. I said it. STUPID. WHO CARES?

I mean, I can answer questions that were "popular" in my mother's time, and in my grandmother's time...but the rapper who had a small audience last week, or the reality show about to be cancelled, is not going to be in that group - EVER!!!

That's my opin, and I wonder watcha think?

Love reading y'all...

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords (now in puzzle third grade :-) )

Torb 12:33 PM  

Banged it right out. Happy new year from the syndicated crowd!

Burma Shave 1:27 PM  


but NOSIREEBOB, those PETARDS as BALMS are duds
and BREAKRANKS with RESPECTS to what the SIRENS think.


rondo 1:51 PM  

TODAY’s was a fine puz marred only by my write-overs in the corners – redS for CABS and neMO for ELMO – and then gEne for TEXT, cell exchange, right? I REDID those and all was well.

But I see no good reason to clue FIG as an abbr. It’s a word after all. Newtons starter?

And a severe lack of yeah babies TODAY. Unless ONE runs into a real VOODOODOLL, like in a Bond film. Not happening in MN.

I plunked in ENGINEROOM right away, but didn’t Scottie also run the transporter room?

A really good puz in all RESPECTS, especially for us AVERAGEMEN.

Happy New Year to all syndies. "Gott nytt år" i Svensk.

spacecraft 2:09 PM  

HAPPPP-Y NEW YEAR! I took a long while doing this, but not because of any dire difficulty (though, of course, that rapper had to go in on crosses). It was between parade floats, Psycho, Rear Window, and the Twilight Zone marathon. I was flipping like mad. Every once in a while I'd stick a word in the grid.

I know of the hallux, but forgot momentarily the plural halluces. I wonder if "hallucinate" derives from seeing stars when you stub your BIGTOE.

Only one writeover: NOES over NayS. Had a bit of trouble with Scotty's domain, which I know to be "engineering." That's what they call that area of the ship, NOT "ENGINEROOM." As if the propulsion system on a starship could be contained in a single "room." Bah, ISAY. Bad clue.

Finally got the NW (last again!) after thinking SPRAIN instead of strain, thus AUDIOPHILE and done. Fine way to kick off (!) the new year. A-.

leftcoastTAM 12:58 AM  

I think I agree with you, @Diana,LIW.

Longbeachlee 3:01 PM  

Brilliantly said, Diana. My faith in myself is fully restored.

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