Green-glazed Chinese porcelain / FRI 1-29-16 / Relative of Without doubt in Magic 8 Ball / 2008 R&B Grammy winner for Growing Pains / For-profit university with dozens of US campuses / Vehicle that's loaded in Harry Belafonte hit / Watt-second fraction

Friday, January 29, 2016

Constructor: David Phillips

Relative difficulty: Medium (maybe slightly harder than usual)

THEME: none

Important crosswordese:
  • Ned ROREM (5-letter composer of crossword fame; he'll bail you out of many spots)

Word of the Day: CELADON (34A: Green-glazed Chinese porcelain) —

• • •

This isn't very exciting, but it's very clean. Very polished. No wincing at all, which is surprising for a 66-worder. Something about it just feels tepid, despite the flashiness of GENERAL ZOD and the odd-but-pleasingly-retro IT IS DECIDEDLY SO (7D: Relative of "Without a doubt" in a Magic 8 Ball). Hard to keep up that level of excitement and enthusiasm, though, with fill like CELADON and MACLEAN and TREELESS and MAUNA LOA and LEAVENED and WELL READ and TESH and BOREDOM — all fine answers, but nothing to make you really sit up and take notice. The one aspect of this puzzle that really does deserve credit—not just credit, but a medal of some sort—is the clue on CAKE PAN (10D: Battery container?). I had to work that answer letter by bleeping letter, and when I finally got it, I Got It, and it felt good. Worth it. When the struggle is worth the payoff, there's really no better feeling as a solver.

My biggest struggle today was definitely that NW corner. I got nothing on my first pass, and ended up having to back into it via the tail ends of SUNTANNING and "ONE, PLEASE" (I had "---, PLEASE" for the latter and just ... guessed. I bet on loneliness, and won big!). But those longer Acrosses didn't come easily, and without them, I was lost in the NW. The answer that got me started was BONET (5D: Lisa of "The Cosby Show"), and, as happens every time I get a toehold with a pop culture clue, I don't feel good about it. Feels like cheating. BONET OUTER LUNA ERG to (Mary J.) BLIGE. Then I dropped ZOD and went back to save the stranded answers in the NW. The rest of the puzzle just played like a normal Friday for me. I did have to send several longer answers across the grid before I got any real traction (always an issue when there's lots of white space), but once I got the basic latticework going ...

 [note the LEMON error...]

... the surrounding answers started to fall into place. I ended on PAR VALUE, which is fitting, as the puzzle was roughly as exciting as that answer is.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


jae 12:09 AM  

Easy-medium for me. One erasure: BLakE (I have no idea why) before BLIGE. Solid with a soupçon of zip (nice center downs), although I agree with Rex on the GENERAL tepidness. Still, a likable effort.

Mark M. 12:52 AM  

Had Two Please forever, never thinking One Please, which messed me up in that corner for a while, and though I got it, I don't get tart for Pecan

Carola 12:55 AM  

Challenging and fun. I really enjoyed chiseling away at this one and seeing answers gradually materializing, especially the stairstep down from DR PEPPER to WELL READ, with that intersecting (and thank-goodness-I knew-it) BANANA BOAT.

Quite a few do-overs:
I'M ok before I'M UP (loved the clue, once I understood it)
ImpudENT x miNi before INSOLENT x NANO
ACCEde before ACCEPT
neA x net worth (I had no idea what I was talking about)
most DECIDEDLY SO before IT IS

Apart from ROREM and the other crossword essential, TESH, the names caused me some hair-tearing. I had no idea about GENERAL ZOD or DEVRY, had forgotten BARR, and needed almost every cross for BONET and BLIGE. Since the latter two were clustered with the GENERAL, that area was the toughest for me to figure out.

chefwen 1:15 AM  

This puzzle became a whole lot easier after I sorted out all of my initially wrong entries. Toss before CAST at 10A, brats before WURST at 39D (that's the cheesehead in me) my tart was lemon before PECAN and my hockey players were in a fight that turned into a MELEE. I wanted fore at 1A until I remembered how much getting hit by a golf ball hurt, that nixed that idea. After all that MESS I had a really good time filling in the correct answers on top of my layers of Liquid Paper.

Da Bears 1:28 AM  

Rex, surely you can't be against software. Only a Luddite could not like this puzzle.

S sgibolon 1:35 AM  

Pecans are tart? As a Texan I can say decidedly not so.

Ellen S 1:42 AM  

Actually, must be somewhat Easier than usual, since I finished it.

Martín Abresch 1:50 AM  

I loved this one. The design is wonderful, with the 15-letter entry flanked by a pair of 10-letter entries and all running through that staircase of 7/8-letter entries. DR PEPPER, BLONDE ALE, TOY POODLES, GENERAL ZOD, BANANA BOAT, CELADON, WELL READ, DENIZEN, CAKE PAN—that's all good stuff in my book.

I solved I'M UP from the crosses, and it took me 30 seconds to decipher the clue: Shout when there's no cause for alarm? When I figured out that it was about alarm clocks, I laughed aloud. But I should point out that, in my case, I can shout I'M UP and there will still be cause for alarm. I am not a morning person.

The NE tripped me up for a while. I had KELV instead of KCAL. That clue for CAKE PAN was an absolute groaner (which I intend as a compliment).

Also liked the clues for SNORE (Embarrassing sound in a lecture hall), STONE (Mancala playing piece), and SHAVES (They often follow showers).

David Krost 3:13 AM  

90% of the time you and I could hardly agree less about fill and overall quality. By your standards of "sparkling fill" there would only be 5 crossword puzzles that could possibly exist, given the constraints of the medium itself.

But that aside, "battery container", even with a question mark, is an awful clue. The container does not have batter-like properties. Nope. Sorry. That should have earned a rebuke.

Loren Muse Smith 4:20 AM  

This was way harder for me than most Fridays. I guessed correctly on the GENERAL ZOD/CELADON cross only because I was familiar with the color. But, honestly, I wouldn't have questioned any vowel there.

Early goofs:

"naes" for NOES
"eat at" for PEEVE
"cnn" for TBS
"yeah" then "I'm ok" for I'M UP – (Yeah, yeah – they don't account for the clue's question mark)

I hit rock bottom, though with 25A. I've never played D&D, and I've never read The Time Machine. Nevertheless, I put in a ridiculous "Elois" for ELVES. Adding an S there to boot. Sheesh.

I agree that the CAKE PAN clue was terrific. So was the misleading clue for PECAN. I totally went down that rabbit hole, looking for some sour thing.

I liked BOREDOM right next to PAR VALUE. SNORE.

WELL READ/ELITES. Good cross. Hi, all you Tweedy Pop Prescriptivists (and hi, @Z). As I filled in SUNTANNING, I was vaguely thinking that "laying out in the sun" was more in my language. And then I had a little inner snort that so many would hate "lay" there. I just read on FB that a friend's son in Chicago has an English teacher who's teaching students to put periods and commas outside the quotation marks. Yay! First the singular they, now this… my cup runneth over.

Speaking of grammar, I didn't know SPEC could be a verb. So how do you put that baby in past tense? Speced? Spec'ed? . . . Just poked around this – Merriam Webster lists "specced" first, then "spec'd. Cool.

Eating POT PIES is the culinary equivalent to looking at someone's bajillion 1970s vacation slides from China.

All in all, a fair, and fairly tough, Friday.

Muscato 5:50 AM  

A nice clever Friday indeed and not a bad way to end a snowy week. However, am I the only iPad solver to be a little startled by one of the daily Miini clues - "like rhinos and teenage boys"? I got the answer, but I felt just a TAD sleazy doing so...

Anonymous 5:56 AM  

An excellent Friday puzzle. Thought "Lariat" would be "riata" and the SE corner was the last to fall. Had "dead end" instead of "boredom."

But "toy poodles" saved me.

Speaking of dogs, I can recommend "In Cuba I was a German shepherd" by Ana Menéndez. Marco Rubio, anyone?


phil smith 6:28 AM  

The answer to the clue in 13 down is wrong. John Tyler is not the shortest serving president, William Henry Harrison is.

Steven M. O'Neill 7:36 AM  

I confidently plunked down CHIHUAHUAS. Oops!

LaurieG in Connecticut 7:41 AM  

think of "batter-y" as an adjective, in terms of what is left around the edges of a cake pan.

Badmom 7:47 AM  

Watching two episodes of Sons of Anarchy before doing Friday crossword led to "gunrunning" being entered for "taking the heat" clue, slowed down NW corner, damn no-good bikers.

Norm 7:56 AM  

@phil smith : Try rereading the clue.

Anonymous 7:56 AM  

@phil smith - the clue was for VICE president. As WHH's VP, Tyler fits the bill.

Tim 8:20 AM  

Folks: PECAN is one ingredient that you might use to make a tart, which is how it's a "tart flavor."

Glimmerglass 8:21 AM  

Nice Friday puzzle. I made a fals start n the NW, which cost me several minutes. I confidently wrote *wolf* for 1A, feeling very smug that I'd got it right. "It is decidedly wolf," I thought. Otherwise, I pretty much agree with Rex's comments on the details. (I also had a late AHA moment with CAKE PAN. However, I can't agree with Rex's overall conclusion, "unexciting." Rex, when you don't like a puzzle but can find nothing wrong with it, it's tme to call Annabel.

AliasZ 8:23 AM  

I thought this was a solid, challenging and enjoyable puzzle.

There were a few stumbling blocks on the way. For me GENERAL ZOD was a major on, or rather the O in it. Not being a ceramics connoisseur to know what CELADON was didn't help, but then I remembered the good GENERAL started a clothing company called "I, ZOD" later in his life. He was nothing if not full of himself. Also, CELADAN, -DEN, -DIN, -DUN, and sometimes -DYN didn't sound quite right for Celine Dion, I mean, green glaze. We consider green paint a no-no, yet green glaze is OK. Wha...??

For ONE PLEASE, the clue should have been "Lonely lady's request at a ticket window." My first entry was TWO PLEASE, but SIX PLEASE and TEN PLEASE also occurred to me. ONE is such a lonely number. I found KCAL and CALTECH a little off-putting, but I wasn't UNNERVED by it.

Let me close with this delightful, lighthearted divertimento from the ballet "Le BASER de la fée" (The Fairy's Kiss) by Igor Stravinsky.

Happy Friday!

Tim 8:25 AM  

Hard to keep up the enthusiasm with answers like BLONDEALE and BANANABOAT and TOYPOODLES? Not for me! The NW corner stymied me until the very end, but I got the whole thing in a shade over 23 minutes, which puts it on the easier side of Friday puzzles for me.

Kim Scudera 8:27 AM  

@philsmith, I made the same mistake: the clue asks for the shortest serving *vice* president. No surprise, it's TYLER, Harrison's Vice President.

Z 8:33 AM  

You know that feeling you get, "Aren't I clever," when you see a clue like "Taking some heat?" and you write in gUNruNNING, which gives you "ughs" for your dejected interjection(s)? Yeah. Then you spend 5, 10, eternal minutes wondering what the hell kOrPIES are? ALAS, that was me this morning, turning a nice little Friday into a challenging Saturday.

I know CELADON from kitchenware, none of which has a green glaze, and I've never heard of GENERAL ZOD, so that final O was based purely on Evan's Heuristic (How you liking your new gig - too good for the Commentariat these days, eh?). Between my self-created problems, general ignorance (it took me forever to remember Lisa BONET and then I went with the IQ test guy. Oof), this came in at double my typical Friday time.

@Phil Smith - At least I saw the word "vice" in the clue, or that would have hung me up, too. I bet you know who Harrison's Vice President was, though.

Hand up for loving the battery clue and Hand up for predicting to myself that people wouldn't like that it looks like the pan itself is battery.

Charles Flaster 8:38 AM  

Easy/ medium as I was delayed by two PLEASE in lieu of ONE PLEASE. My other misspelled write over was BLONDE ALE for BLOND beer (ugh).
Liked cluing for SUNTANNING, I'M UP, and just the use of DENIZEN.
Also caught SHAVES early although my shave is during the shower and I do not have to use the "fogless" mirror any more.
Yesterday's ON POT might be smitten with today's POT PIES.
CrosswordEASE--ROREM, TESH, and ERG.
Liked this one--Thanks DP

Hungry Mother 8:46 AM  

I barely eked it out, so a normal Friday for me. Ever since my father flew over its 1949 eruption and took a bunch of color slides, I've been a fan of MAUNA LOA.

Robert Grady 9:07 AM  

Tart like a pastry tart.

jberg 9:07 AM  

For you and @Mark-- tart as a noun for a small pie, not as the flavor

jberg 9:16 AM  

I was thinking how easy this was until I got stuck in the SE, largely because of BLOND beer. The purist in me just couldn't accept an ALE as "similar to" a lager. But then I saw that I had a 5-letter composer starting with either U(nDO) or R and, like @Rex said, threw in Ned ROREM and everything was fine.

I did like the units-of-energy mini theme!

Mike D 9:16 AM  

Hey people: "tart" as in a PECAN tart, as in a "tart" might be of the PECAN variety. Not "tart" as in sour/acidic. A beautiful misdirect.

Hartley70 9:17 AM  

This was a rather meaty puzzle with lots to like, especially CAKEPAN and PARVALUE, DENIZEN and GENERALZOD.

The only spot where I felt let down was SUNTANNING for "Taking Some Heat?" It felt off and just didn't sparkle for me. Perhaps a sauna idea would have been more appropriate, or the program run by police whereby guns can be turned in without penalty.

kozmikvoid 9:26 AM  

I was cruising along nicely on this one. Started in SE and worked my way counter-clockwise. Then the middle, then...that was it...stuck. Everything was fitting perfectly: citIZEN at 30A, educated at 39A, fight at 28D, and just a complete mess below that. So after 15 minutes or so, got rid of everything in the mid-SW except citIZEN, which fit too perfectly not to be right. And I never thought I'd actually say this, but thank God for John TESH. He gave me a foothold, worked back up from there, citIZEN became DENIZEN and all was right in the world. It was a fun ride.

@Z: Is John TESH "better" than Dylan too??? :)

crabsofsteel 9:27 AM  

Kind of fun with the offbeat clues, but can someone explain "NOES"?

NCA President 9:29 AM  

@S sgibolon: I agree that PECANs are not "tart." Tart? Tart?? Yeah, no.

I also take issue with the clue for SHAVE. I (wet) shave before my shower...I thought everyone did...or maybe during the shower...but not after. I suppose if you still use an electric razor you might shave after....

There were lots about this puzzle I didn't like. Not because it was particularly hard, but because I just didn't like it. NOES, CELADON, BLIGE, BARR, ROREM (really? this guy gets way too many shout outs, IMO), LENAPE, and a few others.

Just weighing in and it's just my opinion, but this one just didn't do it for me.

Dolgo 9:50 AM  

I actually enjoyed this one, mostly for the same reasons as Rex did, and agree with his accusation of a kind of blandness. I like his comment about the feeling of accomplishment when you get a tricky clue. It helps explain why we like crosswords--something that many people don't seem to understand. I did have trouble with the northwest. I guess I should study up on the Cosby cast. I never watched the show, but it's been showing up a lot. Also, you had to knw Blige. You could never figure out such a name on your own.

Bob Kerfuffle 9:54 AM  

Nice puzzle, on the easy side for a Friday for me. With a load of proper names like this, either you know them or you don't, and this was once when I did.

Hey, MAUNA LOA got spelled out in full! Doesn't happen that often.

Nancy 10:04 AM  

I figure I would have needed a minimum of 3 Googles to complete. The first -- one to solve the CELADEN/DEVRY/GENERAL ZAD cross. The second -- one to solve the BLIGE/BONET cross. The third -- something to open up the NW corner for me. I was completely stymied -- since I had AMEN, instead of I'M UP, at 1A. (One of the few really good clues.) And that loused up the entire NW for me, with the exceptions of SUNTANNING and ONE PLEASE.

But I didn't Google. I'm much too stubborn -- and that's not what puzzle-solving is all about, to me. I gritted my teeth and cursed, instead. I focused on those few parts of the puzzle where I didn't need to know any obscure names, and I wrestled with those. NSA before PTA at 31A gave me NET VALUE before PAR VALUE at 31D. Eventually I got everything except the aforementioned WOEs. Was really annoyed and angry at this puzzle...and I know OISK will hate it, too.

Tita 10:08 AM too...I never entertained IMUP, because anyone who knows me knows not to trust me when I say that.
Plus, IMok fits so well.

gUNpAckING for forever.
Refusing to give that up caused my DNF. I cleared wrong letters, and then was able to race to the finish. Annoyed, because of course it's LUNA, of course it's BLIGE, and yes, know that I see it, I have heard of BONET.

But hey, clearing wrong letters is only the mildest level of cheating, so I won't beat myself up over that.

Wasn't it Harry Belafonte who loaded lots of toys and goodies in sANtassleigh...when I ran out of squares, no other song was allowed to enter my brain, so I had to wait for a bunch of crosses to see BANANA.


Hey...on the iPad, is there a trick to changing the case of already-tapped-out text ?
I only use this thing for the puzzles, and for visiting Rexville.
I'm an Android girl for everything else. There, I can toggle a word or a phrase through UPPER, lower, and UpLow with one swipe.
Text entry on this thing absolutely infuriates me. Some extremely unnecessary design decisions constrain my acceptance of this device.

(And while I am a digital immigrant (thanks @r.alph for teaching me that phrase), I am far from a Luddite, having made my career in the software and hardware business. If anything, that has made me acutely aware of user experience failures, and of how marketing and packaging can trump quality.)

Laurence Katz 10:09 AM  

Never ever would I get "I'm up" for "Shout when there's no cause for alarm?" I confidently wrote in "amen." Alas.

Andrew M 10:10 AM  

I confidently plopped down SIGNSPOINTTOYES and "confirmed" it with TOYPOODLES, which was a strange experience. I also got IMUP because I assumed that 2-Down started with "Mt.", so it was a solve filled with fortuitous wrong guesses. Ended with GENERALZOD because if I've ever heard of the guy, it was in some other crossword long out of memory. Had to guess at the "O", but it seemed the most likely candidate.

Nancy 10:15 AM  

@kitchef (from yesterday) -- A Mount Rushmore of songwriters who are genuine poets? What a nifty idea! Can you add me to the nominating committee?

chefbea 10:18 AM  

Tough but yummy puzzle. Had to google a lot

There is a whole dinner in this puzzle - Banana, wurst,pot pie, pecan tart leavened (bread) and cake pan with batter stuck to it!!!

Sir Hillary 10:22 AM  

Methinks OFL has reset the themeless bar at KAC level, and while that's admirable, it will make for lots of disappointments. C'mon @Rex, don't miss the beauty in this one!

After I solved this puzzle and looked back on the finished product, one word came to mind: Berryesque. No, there weren't many (any?) truly WOW! entries, but holy cow, that is an impressive grid. Look at that ascending stairway of 7s and 8s! I'm no fan of NOES, and ONEPLEASE feels a bit forced, but I can't complain otherwise. Even names I had forgotten or never knew (greetings, Messrs. BARR, ROREM and MACLEAN!) were all quite gettable via crosses.

I love the clue for TYLER, because although it's easy, it's also somewhat indirect because even though TYLER was President, he holds a place in history as the shortest-tenured Vice President. For some reason, it reminds of a great piece of baseball trivia: In 1917, a pitcher named Ernie Shore entered the game in relief after the starting pitcher walked the first batter of the game and was immediately ejected for arguing balls and strikes with the home plate umpire. The baserunner was then thrown out trying to steal second, and Shore proceeded to retire the next 26 batters in a row. For many years, he was credited with a perfect game, but it has since been downgraded to a no-hitter. The hot-tempered starting pitcher that Shore replaced? Babe Ruth.

homebrewedtees 10:33 AM  

@NCA President - The grooming sequence is not only standard, it even has its own (NSFW) tee shirt.

quilter1 10:48 AM  

Ended in the NE. Medium challenging but got it. Fridays usually are a DNF.

JC66 10:51 AM  

@NCA President

Further on @Anonymous homebrewedtees' comment.

Most people shave after or during showering because the humidity softens the beard, giving a closer shave. Exactly why people using electric shavers, who need dry skin for best results, shave before showering.

Mr. Benson 10:52 AM  

Am I the only one who had GENE______ for the "Powerful foe of the Man of Steel" clue and immediately thought "Hackman"? (I realized that would be a bad answer, but I did test it to see if it would fit. ALAS, it did not.)

Jill Sullivan 10:58 AM  

Funny, I am always slower than Rex, but I thought this was incredibly easy. Of course, I am sitting here drinking a DRPEPPER - best soda ever! And David Krost...a cake pan does indeed get "battery"...when there's batter in it. Loved that clue!!

GILL I. 11:02 AM  

I always know I'll like a puzzle when the 1A is a great answer. It took me a long time to finally GET it. I'm a two PLEASE kinda person because I never go alone to the movies. Well, one time I did. I was in London and bored so I took in Goodbye, Mr. Chips because everyone was raving about it. I sat in a middle row where all the seats were empty and this creep sat right next to me, lit up a fag, and began trying to fondle me. He was ugly, to boot! Anyway having that "one" made me angry and I was determined (hi @Nancy) not to Google. Finally clawed my way out of that mess and went on my merry way.
TOY POODLES are darling but they've been so inbred, they really don't resemble a pup. I suppose if you have one hanging out of your Gucci, that makes it OK.
Good, good puzzle David Phillips. The cluing was darn fantastic and if you have BANANA BOAT in your puzzle, that makes it even better.
@Loren...Periods and commas outside the QM? took my grandmother ages to teach me to put them on the inside...:-)

chefbea 11:06 AM  

PS - forgot the Dr. Pepper to wash everything down!!!

puzzle hoarder 11:15 AM  

This puzzle deserved more praise than it was given. The answers covered a wide range of subjects and there were some nice twists to the clues. My only mistake was CELADEN. I have seen the actually word before. It's underlined in my Webster's. There's no date so I probably haven't seen it in a puzzle before. The general was ZED or ZOD. Never having been a Superman fan I couldn't tell which.@JAE you might have conflated BLIGE with DRAKE at 5A. I briefly considered USHER for 15 A because I confused it's clue with the one for 5A.
I filled in the NW first. SUNBATHING went in before TANNING. The NE corner was a little harder to start. BANANABOAT gave me BLONDEALE that made it easy to fill in the SE. SPEC gave me LENAPE. I don't know why the tribe is so familiar. The word doesn't even show up in my Webster's and it's not annotated anywhere. The middle section was filled in more from the SW Thanks the NE. Despite having really enjoyed the book and the novel I only came up with the author with help from the crosses. I didn't fully understand the clues for 27A and 10D until I read the comments.

Kimberly 11:27 AM  

In most puzzles I look for the "giggle moment" where a clue is so undeniably clever I can't help but laugh. There were zero giggle moments in this puzzle; solving it felt more like a chore or an obligatory morning workout. Maybe I'm just not a fan of the themeless puzzles (although some themed puzzles are so trite they're eye-roll worthy), but this one was particularly boring to me. I didn't even get a sense of accomplishment when finishing. Maybe I'm just getting curmudgeonly in my old age.

Z 11:30 AM  

@kozmikvoid - Har! I'm still waiting for TESH to be clued as Holo Klingon. I guess he is a better Klingon than Dylan...

Leapfinger 11:45 AM  

Terrible start. 'Shout w/o cause for alarm' was first WOLF and later FIRE; to my great sorrow, nothing worked with either great answer, except for the frozen FAJITAS,which further delayed the dead-endery.

What else went wrong?
OOPS - ALAS (THE oldest university in Sweden)
GENERAL ZOG, which had me searching for a Yiddish word ending in _ENEG that meant 'LEAVENED'
APPLE/ANNOY before PECAN/PEEVE, though no US V.P. was 2 Ys
IT_IS_certain_to_be: Go big or go home. Yeah.
Pleased to suss that BARR more likely than BURR

I wasn't pleased with the SUNTANNING clue (them's rays, not 'heat', and feel oBLIGEd to say I wanted to throttle someone when the 'batter-y' thing turned out to be a CAKEPAN. Fortunately, I was narrowly saved from Assault by DR PEPPER.

I, MUP has to be the Readers Digest Condensed version of the Henson biography "I, MUPpet".

CELADON MACLEAN, for some good old-fashioned American PECAN tart Pie. Only if you must.

Was somewhat UNNERVED to see @NOES K ELVES in the NW, when I expected him to be 'IN THE MOMA'

Clever misdirects and CELADON DENIZENS, to boot! No BOREDOM here, and what more can a Xwod PARVenUE ask?

Day O and counting.

Z 11:47 AM  

@NCA Prez and @JC66 - I'm with you, Prez. Shave then shower. I've heard the explanation that @JC66 gave before. I think it may have once been true, but is hardly necessary anymore. I use shaving soap and a fresh razor (for the small portions of my face and neck that I shave). The last time I nicked myself was 1979, the last time a woman complained that my shave wasn't close enough was never. I think the need for a humid environment is along the lines of the idea that Dylan is the G.O.A.T, more myth than reality. (Hi again @kozmikvoid).

mac 11:49 AM  

Very good puzzle! Lots of trouble in the NW, so I turned to the bottom of the puzzle and filled it right in. Only write-over in that section was SNORE for SNORT.

Hand up for wanting "two", I've only once gone to a movie by myself. A dark and cold night in NY, late afternoon, and there was only one other person in the cinema.

Several pop culture clues I did not know, but could piece together quite easily. It was very helpful that I remembered Bonet, though.

Easy-Medium Friday for me, and a nice solve.

Jay Apking 12:20 PM  

"Vice" not Potus

Andrew Heinegg 12:21 PM  

Yes, there is a whole dinner in it but, when the entree for the dinner is frozen pot pie from the grocery store, ugh. Plus, there is enough gluten in it to rethink the whole meal! But, seriously, it was a well composed effort if a bit lacking in dazzle and amusement.

Master Melvin 12:37 PM  

I thought GUNRUNNING was a great answer for 17A which would have made 2D MOUNT something, like MOUNT IDA. Took awhile to work through that.

Nice puzzle.

old timer 12:41 PM  

I'm groaning now that I understand the clue for CAKE PAN. BLONDE ALE was a good clue. Not a popular style in a world full of IPAs, but it is an ale that can almost taste like a lager.

D'oh moment: LEAVENED. Wha? moment: KCAL. When I was growing up, the station did not exist.

Martel Moopsbane 12:42 PM  

Thank goodness the answer to 8D wasn't Mr. Mxyztplk!

No. 1 Fan 12:48 PM  

Lisa BONET was the great-looking teenager, as opposed to Phylicia Rashad who played the great-looking Mom, and Keshia Knight Pulliam, the adorable little Rudy.

Robso 1:04 PM  

I also had trouble in the NW--MT DENALI for MAUNA LOA, GUN RUNNING for SUN TANNING, but I stuck it out. Still ended up with a mistake with IT IS DECIDEDLY NO.

Paul Johnson 1:11 PM  

Since when does a pecan have a "tart flavor"? Not by my palate and not by Wikipedia "...seeds of the pecan are edible, with a rich, buttery flavor." And if the clue refers to what you can put into a tart, tell me what the hell can't you put in a tart, mouse droppings?

Leapfinger 1:15 PM  

@Martin Abresch, you liked SHAVES (They often follow showers)? I thought it kinda sorta sexist. My 'often follow showers' was either BABIES or BUYERS. (As in real estate.) More Femme-ly oriented.

@Loren, I spect either would do, dontcha know? (I also thought of Eloi.)

@Muscato, hopefully, there aren't poachers out there looking to mutilate teenage boys. Oof.

@Charles Flaster, any mirror is a 'fogless' mirror if you wipe it well with good old-fashioned newsprint.

Let's hew to the Grammar Track: that entry should have been ONE_PLEASES, though some would argue that TWO_PLEASE even more. Just ask Nicki Minaj A TROI. (I know I used that before, but I do get a kick out of it!)

@Alias: I, ZOD vs I, MUP? Funny how we kinda sorta saw I- to I-. Not a bad start, but CELADON is a great finish.

Anoa Bob 1:28 PM  

I like misdirection in clues and always perk up when the "?" pops up. But when the clue depends on the misuse of standard English, I call foul. That happened today right out of the gate with 1 Across "Shout when there's no cause for alarm?" With the _M__ in place as the second letter, like several others, I thought of AMEN, and, when crosses didn't confirm that, I tried IMOK.

IMUP doesn't fit the clue because "alarm" without an article in front denotes a psychological state of fearful agitation, but the answer depends on "alarm" being a thing, some kind of sound-producing device, and as such, needs a definite article in front, "AN or THE alarm", to be standard English. That would be an easy, obvious mistake to correct in, say, an ESL class.

This sort of misuse of the presence or absence of an article to go for misdirection came up recently when "Tool used in the evening" clued SANDER. "Evening" as a time of day gets an article in standard English, while "evening" as the present participle of "to even", something one might do with a SANDER, doesn't.

For me, misdirection at the expense of misuse isn't clever, it's just wrong.

Teedmn 1:31 PM  

I have a black, cooling lava flowage oozing down my NW. The first answer I CAST in at 1A was "fire", thinking of the taboo shout in a theater, which I did facetiously but had cause to regret once I had my third or fourth writeover up there. With NOES and TAD in, I saw the OA ending and put in krakatOA (fits perfectly) and 1A became OK__. Finally, SUNTANNING made that all come right.

"dEkEs" before MELEE at 28D and eTudE (thrown off by "playing" in the clue) before STONE. At the last second, before coming here, I decided CELADeN looked much better than CaLADeN so I avoided the duple DNF but GENERAL ZeD stayed, ALAS.

I was so proud of myself for getting CAKE PAN off the AK, since that was the biggest misdirect today. ELVES was my first guess for 25A since my D&D character was a thief ELf named Ranier when I played in the mid '80's (what else did nerdy Sci-Fi/Fantasy fans do in their twenties?)

This was a nice brain-strainer that was yet solvable in my average Friday time, so thanks, David Phillips.

Masked and Anonymous 1:59 PM  

M&A's gonna go ahead and give this FriPuz a satisfactory, even tho he had trouble finishin right. First, the problem intersections of lost hope ...

* GENERALZ?D/CELAD?N. I had no clue. Well, actually I had two clues, but the wrong vowel pick. Wanted U, of course -- but, went with E. doh! Wrong again, M&A Breath.
* LENAP?/T?SH. I'm gonna give this pup a pass, since both answers have Patrick Berry Immunity. And, cuz I guessed E correctly. But, watch it, Phillips dude.

Now for everything else, which was extra primo …

* More U's than weejects. (5 to 4)
* Most of the weird bits had Patrick Berry Usage Immunity. KCAL. LENAPE. TESH. ROREM. TBS.
* Great IMUP single-? clue. Coulda also subbed "Viagra" for "alarm" in that clue. So, nice flexibility there.
* Equally great CAKEPAN single-? clue. Had BULLPEN there, for too day-um long, tho. Watched valuable NANO seconds just swirl merrily down the dugout commode.
* BANANABOAT. This one was of them puzs where M&A had to go thru all the clues, at the outset, and cherry pick those few that he knew from the gitgo. BANANABOAT was the long password that enabled me to gain entry to the rodeo.
* More great fillins: MAUNALOA (yo, @BobK). ONEPLEASE (companion of NOTHANX??). Any Magic 8-Ball answer. WELLREAD. TOYPOODLES. BLONDEALE. DENIZEN. DRPEPPER. SUNTANNING (mainly cuz of its clue). ERG (A TAD of EneRGy that no doubt is endorsed by both TBS and the PTA). POTPIES (Almost usually delicious fill).
* TREELESS. har. Now there's some common, U-less but Use-ful letters. Could just hear the constructioneer, trying desperately to recharge the old grid-fillin batteries, with this puppy. Luv it.


Masked and Anonymous 2:27 PM  

Knew Lisa BONET. She was in a fairly schlocky flick with the always pleasinly-weird Mickey Rourke, called (I think) "Angel Heart". Plot required some blood-drippage on her, as I recall. Was Robert De Niro's call for help film, way, way before Dirty Grandpa.

Speakin of schlock flicks, am havin a reel dilemma, pickin out just the right cinema selection, for the Friday Night Schlockfest. Had just scored several important candidates, at the local junk store:

* Ant Man. Unfortunately, bro-in-law had recently seen it already, on a flight to Poland. I checked him out on this, during last night's Hello Fresh pigout and winefest.
* Bob Luman at 'Town Hall Party'. Some really boss kinescope performances of a classic rockabilly artist, compiled by Bear Family Records.
* (Newsflash -- M&A was just selected via phone for a free trip to the Bahamas). Almost like winnin the big lottery, other than this seems to happen about every month. Not real sure I'd wanna win the billion-dollar lottery, anyhoo -- too much responsibility. But, I digress, in mid digression.
* Snowpiercer. Has lots of big time actors in it, plus Song Kang-Ho.
* Minions. Temptin. M&A likes anything that features fart guns.
* Dismal (tag-line: Eat or be eaten). One critics reaction: "A great film! Cannibalistic Swamp Rat Glory!" Shoot. Sounds like more fun than a Trumpless GOP Debate.

But, I digress.

Should also mention that I really, really liked the @009 write-up. Appreciated the BLIGE refresher course video. Tryin hard to keep all these new artistes straight. Listened to a primo James Bay record album last night, during the Hello Fresh pigout. Helps with the digestion, since in-laws prefer the spicy all-vegetarian entrees. Keeps the dogs from tryin to get some, at least.


DJK 2:28 PM  

The clue is shortest-serving VICE president, not president.

Chuck McGregor 3:05 PM  

Today is the way I like ‘em. Tough, maybe requiring a TAD of help (cheats), but eventually doable. I did some bold guessing to get there which was about 50/50 > help/hurt. Guessed MAUNA LOA off the “OA.” However, I also (ever so wrongly) guessed MACRAEE (as in Carmen McRae) for the “River….” guy. A Carmen (f.) for a Norman (m.)?

Some of the other proper name crossings UNNERVED me: CELEDON, ROREM, LENAPE, TESH, BILGE, BONET. I think I might have seen the first one before, but the others = ?? (Used to live on the Delaware border, but no LENAPE in sight.)

“Vehicle” equating to “BOAT” is legit, but, if one didn’t know the song/Belafonte, I imagine it could have been a misdirect.

Speaking of misdirects, absolutely loved the clue for CAKEPAN. All kinds of “batteries” crossed my mind. I had to get through several moments of WT &*#%? even after I had the answer filled in. Same with 1a. Great clue....after I figured it out....after I got the answer.

I would have expected a period [.] after ED given that PTA is an abbreviation. However, I found (M-W Unabridged) that ED is defined as an “informal” noun and is not listed as an abbreviation. Also PTA is defined both as a noun and abbreviation

@ LMS: “outside the quotation marks??”?? Really!! What will they [plural intent, thank you] think of next? Maybe dealin’ with those apostrophes? Its’ a thought that Ill’ say isnt’ something I couldve’ said wouldve’ been possible, but whos’ to say it wont’ happen?

@ LMS: “Eating POT PIES is the culinary equivalent to looking at someone's bajillion 1970s vacation slides from China.” Sad to say, I resemble that remark (Marie Callender’s or homemade), though they’re of China, Maine.

@ Tita: “had to wait for a bunch of crosses to see BANANA.” I see what you did there :>)


Charles Flaster 3:11 PM  

Should be a "perfect " game !!

Mohair Sam 3:26 PM  

Delightful Friday challenge. We dnf'd for our lack of knowledge concerning pottery and super heroes - we had GENERAL ZeD (Overall a more intimidating name, btw).

So I start the puzzle with BEARCAT and the assumed "K" at the TV station and Mrs. Mohair sits across from me at the breakfast table. She stares at the upside-down to her puzzle for a few seconds, and says (cool as cucumber), "10 down is gonna be CAKEPAN". Just like that. Wickedest clue of the month, upside down off the K and the A, ten seconds flat. How 'bout that?

IMok for IMUP cost a lot of time. Hand up with the crowd who struggled in the NW (even though we luckily avoided the gUNruNNING trap).

Again, terrific Friday David Phillips - thank you.

Chuck McGregor 3:38 PM  

Hope this gets posted. For any who expected a comment from me about yesterday’s “Speaker’s position” > AMP,” I did, but the moderator God(s), as is their prerogative, chose not to post them. Though not offensive that I could see, in retrospect, it was probably a wise call after further thought.

One apparently credible explanation for the answer: @ Anonymous 3:20 PM yesterday > “Ms. Gorski had in mind the kind of guitar "amp" that is actually a combination amplifier and speaker in a box.”

Assuming that is the case, the “?” for the clue has to mean “could be,” given the almost countless other “positions” in which speakers are found, apart from guitar amps. However, many guitar amps do not have a speaker. The fact is most "amps" used for sound systems for home, concerts, movies, et al do not have speakers.

However, I see nothing whatsoever that prevents reading the clue as asking for a speaker’s position "with" something just as well as for its position "in" something (or on / near /… ,et al). Otherwise you get, Where’d you locate it? Speaker’s position amp.” Sounds like dialogue from an old B western.

As such, there is another explanation whether on Ms. Gorski's mind or not. There are a huge number of things which have speakers built into one thing “with” their amplifier, just like those guitar amps.

Here's a few examples: cell & cordless phones, appliances of all kinds, arcade games, televisions, computers (laptops, desktops tablets, etc.), vehicles (apart from the audio stuff), medical equipment (those "beeps" usually come from an amplifier and speaker in there), pagers, elevators, cash registers, ATMs, gas pumps, GPS devices, electronic doorbells, all kinds of toys (for young & old), emergency vehicle sirens, bull-horns, boom boxes, table/clock radios, and even greeting cards. The list goes on and on.

Given an educated guess (usually a good one for things audio) there are far, far more things where a speaker's position is in a thing "with" an amp than not and way more things than where the speaker is "in" a thing called an “amp.”

So the clue/answer? Maybe it was not the intent, but I’ll defend it is as spot on in that, by far, the most common position for a speaker on the planet is AMP - WITH one, not in one, on one, under one, apart from one,......


Mike M. 3:48 PM  

The heat and moisture also also opens up the pores for better skin health and less razor burn post-shave. Has anyone here ever had a shave at a barber?! Hot towel and hot lather first, the shave. As a very hirsute gentleman I always shower first!

David Phillips 4:21 PM  

@Rex: I understand that your opinion is your opinion and that you value your independence too much to say anything other than what you truly believe; but, when I see comments like those from @puzzle hoarder or @Sir Hillary or @GILL I. or @Glimmerglass, you come off as less an impartial moderator and more a Trump-esque figure trying to infuse your own brand of negativity upon the world.

And, yes, I get it. You're a critic; that's what you do. But, your words, your praises, your gripes, and your expert opinions have the power to influence so many solvers and constructors alike, perhaps more than you even realize. Echoing @Sir Hillary's and @David Krost's posts, when only a handful of (themeless) puzzles a year tickle your fancy and when your opinions almost consistently deviate from the general consensus, maybe it's time to reevaluate your place as this blog's leading authority.

Martel Moopsbane 4:47 PM  

I take issue with the cluing for 31D, PARVALUE. A reverse split certainly doesn't have that effect for no-par stock and doesn't necessarily have that effect for stock that does have a par value.

choochoo 62 4:56 PM  

People are misinterpreting 21 down. Tart should be read as a noun Pecans are commonly used in tarts as the main flavor.

OISK 5:10 PM  

Had very little insight into zod or zed, and never heard of Devry. So I was pretty much stuck, BUT, my wife, sitting next to me in the plane knew celadon, and I was saved! Comic book villains can be added to my list of clues that can ruin a perfectly fine crossword...Never heard of Blige either, but Lisa Bonet saved me in the North. Pretty tough Friday for me, as Nancy predicted...

TonySaratoga 5:30 PM  

WOLF for IMUP made the NW a long, error filled slog for me. Not sure why I held on to it so long before admitting error. I liked this puzzle a lot.

Dansah 5:31 PM  

Con=anti so noes as opposed to yeses.

Dansah 5:32 PM  

Con=anti. So NOES as opposed to YESSES

dick swart 6:36 PM  

Will Shortz! And Bob Mankoff! The New York Times xword ed of fame/infamy (this column) and the cartoon ed of The New Yorker magazine are a doubles team at Grand Central Station.

Watch the video:

kitshef 8:23 PM  

Me too for wolf before IMUP, cnn and Tnn before TBS, and chihuahuaS before TOYPOODLES, plus had SUNbAthING before SUNTANNING.

But the real issue was the SE, even after correcting to TOYPOODLES. rice before BARR, RavEl before ROREM, play before MESS, icexLExx before TREELESS, but BLONDEALE in, took the 'EALE' out, put it back in. Nothing was working. Finally decided to REDO the whole section except for TOYPOODLES and had a think. Eventually, SERVER came to me, which gave BOREDOM, and the rest all fell into place.

Then came here and the first comment is @jae with easy-medium and only one overwrite, and started feeling a wee bit stupid.

GENERALZOD was the main villain in Superman 2 (1980), and 'kneel before Zod' is kind of a thing, even today.

jae 8:47 PM  

@puzzle hoarder - Yes, DRAKE not BLakE! Thanks.

Z 8:53 PM  

Not all TARTS are TART. Which points to three lessons. First, remember that words often have different usages (nouns or adverbs for example) and meanings. Second, if you think a clue is "wrong" you should read the blog and the earlier comments (or ask) before stating unequivocally and erroneously that a clue is wrong. Third, when a clue isn't clicking rethink what you think the clue means.

@M&A - I see you were thinking of me, although I usually drop the "General."

@Chuck McGregor - I had a post not make it yesterday as well. Pretty sure it was moderator oversight or Blogger snafu rather than anything I said. It took a lot for Rex to go to moderation and he pretty much is laissez-faire unless one is being a total ass. Too bad, though, it was my best comment ever and now none of you get to read it.

@David Phillips - You do know there are other blogs out there, don't you?

Z 8:59 PM  

@dick swart - Thanks for the link and we need to teach you how to embed.

Barbara Weinstein 10:22 PM  

The NW corner was by far the most difficult, especially since I originally put "WOLF" for ONE Across (Shout when there's no need for alarm). It took me awhile to undo that.

Randall Clark 11:00 PM  

I got the whole thing save one letter. I had PA _ VALUE and RO_EM. That was a natick for me. I started with y, since pay value seemed to make sense, and royem could be a name. Nope. Pad value? Nope. Pat value? Nope. If you aren't into stocks, and you don't know the composer, how would you suss that out without plugging in random letters until you get the victory splash?

+wordphan 2:03 AM  

Baked an Apple Cake tonight and used "batter." Didn't seem "battery," but that does explain a lot! Thank ms!

Mohair Sam 7:37 AM  

@OFL - Don't reevaluate nothing.

Charles Flaster 11:10 PM  

Thanks for the hint.
YOU can try keeping your blade in olive oil, between shaves, and blade's sharpness will be saved.

spacecraft 9:57 AM  

With the -OA ending, I had either Krakatoa or MAUNALOA (obviously I am terrible at geography and don't know where that trail is). But the aha! of IMUP (!) clinched it. Synchronicity there, because today we happen to have a very early appointment, for which we set an unneeded alarm. I was up already, slaving over this.

Once I finally zeroed in on the word "DECIDEDLY" in that 8-ball phrase it got a lot easier. Too long I was trying to fit "definitely" in there.

Ah yes, good old GENERALZOD, who thinks he's God. What a sweet moment when he says: "And now, finally, kneel." And Supe thrown him for a loop. Sweet, too, was the pinball landing spot of that asshole in the diner. "I've been [push-push] working out." Gotta love it. A.

Burma Shave 1:02 PM  


ALAS, I should be SUNTANNING, I’m ACHY and pale,
with a high RATE of BOREDOM my ARMRESTS on the BARR rail.
Me: “OPEN ONEPLEASE, if you’ve rum and DR.PEPPER for sale.”
BARR tender: “Hey MAC,LEAN over. That lady BEARCAT’S just out of jail.”
but IMUP to ACCEPT the challenge, “SERVER! Buy that BLONDEALE!”


leftcoastTAM 2:04 PM  

This one really got to me, and it was more than just a PEEVE.

Some proper nouns and names were out of my range of trivia: GENERALZOD, MACLEAN, BEARCATS, and especially CELADON. And the crosses didn't help much. Left a large DNF gap in the middle.

(Some consolation that I finished yesterday, but cybercats ate my posted homework. I swear I did not CHEAT.)

Anonymous 3:26 PM  

Hartley--what kind of dog is that in your photo--looks cute!

Cathy 3:49 PM  

Daaay o, da a a o. Now I want to watch beetle juice.

Quite a few mistakes. Unkosher for LEAVE NED. I don't understand why leaving Ned is not fit for Passover. Gosh darn it:)

Googled "Miss Julie" composer. Wiki said Alwyn. S/E doomed. Gotta remember ROREM.

In junior high school no one drank DR PEPPER. Rumors had it that prune juice was one of the ingredients. There was a kid named Pepper, (sister was Candy) last name Mintz. Poor guy. But there was also Snow White.. So CAL in the seventies!

rain forest 4:17 PM  

This played 'medium' for most of it, after starting in the due North and backtracking to the NW where things just sort of fell into place. Had to resist putting in aMen for 1A, and then the right answer just came to me.

The only place of serious concern was in the DEVRY, CELADON, ZOD area, none of which I knew. I assumed that the university is pronounced DE VREE, and O was a complete guess. Wasted a ton of valuable nanoseconds, a la M&A.

As noted, very little drecky stuff, although, also as noted, just about anything can be in a tart. Kind of green-paintish, but the crosses decided.

rondo 5:06 PM  

This was a really fun puz that made me work just enough to appreciate it. The only real troublesome spot was in the far NE with toSs-pASs-CAST. It kinda solved like three separate puzzles for me due to the black squares carving off the NW and SE.

Funny all the college nicknames one can remember. BEARCATS a gimme, probably from watching decades of March Madness.

Crossing yeah babies today in Mary J BLIGE and Lisa BONET. I was crushin’ on the latter until she married Lenny Kravitz. And, again, we could have had Sharon STONE, wonder if she still SHAVES?

Does one get STONEd from POTPIES?

It’ll be at least a couple months until I’m on the St. Croix River kayaking and SUNTANNING. Would it make @Cathy and @D,LIW UNNERVED to know that no tan lines result? But a tan does. Many a Sun-puz has been done while floating with the current.

Nice little challenge today. Definitely not the WURST.

Diana,LIW 8:49 PM  

I thought "yesiree" Amen had to be one-a and didn't hesitate for a moment. That messed up a lotta other moments.

Used to live near the Lenni Lenape Indian area, so I knew that one. But... Foiled again by the propers - names that is. After a first go-thru with a coupla' answers, I was getting cranky with this puzzle. Twas truly PEEVEd. So, naturally, I started looking some stuff up. I know when I'm defeated.

Then, finishing up, I forgave all because of the clever clues. The battery one alone was worth the price of admission. IMUP for tomorrow's challenge.

@Cathy - knew a woman whose maiden name was April Mae Joon. No lie.

Diana, Lady, Waiting, ITISDECIDEDLYSO

Shelley Palumbo 2:13 AM  

Glad I wasn't the only one.

lena 6:59 AM  

Thanks for this.

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