Nine-time presidential contender of 1940s-90s / FRI 7-16-16 / Island west of Mull / Mozart title starter / Musical group known for wearing red hats called energy domes / Lesser "Seinfeld" role played by Len Lesser / Prince in line to British throne after Beatrice / Word repeatedly spelled out by Franklin / Creator of Lawyer Perry / Superman catchphrase starter

Friday, July 15, 2016

Constructor: Matt Ginsberg

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: two pronunciations of UNIONIZED (36A: See 19- and 57-Across)

Theme answers:
  • 19A: One for whom 36-Across has four syllables (CHEMIST)
  • 57A: One for whom 36-Across has three syllables (PLUMBER)
Word of the Day: Harold STASSEN (14D: Nine-time presidential contender of the 1940s-'90s) —
Harold Edward Stassen (April 13, 1907 – March 4, 2001) was the 25th Governor of Minnesota from 1939 to 1943. After service in World War II, he was president of the University of Pennsylvania from 1948 to 1953. He was a leading candidate for the Republican nomination for President of the United States, considered for a time to be the front-runner. He thereafter regularly continued to run for that and other offices, such that his name became most identified with his status as a perennial candidate.  [...] Stassen was later best known for being a perennial candidate for the Republican Party nomination for President of the United States, seeking it nine times between 1944 and 1992 (1944, 1948, 1952, 1964, 1968, 1980, 1984, 1988, and 1992). He never won the Republican nomination, much less the presidency; in fact, after 1952, he never even came close, but continued to campaign actively and seriously for President until just a year before his death. (wikipedia)
• • •

When I saw the constructor's name, I knew it wasn't going to be a straight themeless. A feeling of dread set in, as I enjoy my Friday themelesses. In fact, Friday is probably the puzzle day most likely to make me happy. So I braced for a theme, and I guess there is one—but at three words, it's one of those half-assed themes you see occasionally, where you have a themeless built around an idea too slight for a regular, themed puzzle. I mean, sure, it's a cute little bit of wordplay. PLUMBER feels pretty arbitrary as an example of a unionized worker (TEACHER fits, for instance), but it's fine. It's just fine. And then there's the rest of the puzzle. And that is also fine. Two days in a row now where I feel like the ambition level has been pretty low. This grid is fairly smooth, overall, but not very remarkable except in its weirder answers (like ALL-INDIA) and its mystery names (EUGENIE and STASSEN, for me). The SW corner is nice, if name-heavy. And I do enjoy DEVO (54A: Musical group known for wearing red hats called "energy domes").

I don't know from "Lyricists." Whenever a clue starts [Lyricist...] I panic and start hitting the R, L and S keys. I'm probably thinking of LOESSER. Is that a lyricist? Yes! "Guys & Dolls"! Good for me. Anyway, LERNER (38A: Lyricist who adapted "Pygmalion") ... I think he goes with LOEWE the composer, not to be confused with LOEWS the theater chain, or LOWE'S the home improvement store, or Derek LOWE the pitcher, or the other Derek LOWE who is a medicinal [...wait for it...] CHEMIST! [takes bow, draws curtain, goes home]

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

P.S. wasn't til just now that I noticed that 40-Down did not read [Word repeatedly spelled out by Frankenstein] (RESPECT). Actual clue makes so much more sense.

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


jae 12:04 AM  

Easy-medium for me too with most of the resistance coming from the East side.

I tried it'sa before UPUP.

Cute mini-theme, a fair amount of zip, liked it.

George Barany 12:28 AM  

Lovely review by @Rex, and (as usual) you found @Matt Ginsberg's puzzle a lot easier than I did.

STASSEN is well-known here in Minnesota, where he was once a respected Governor before becoming somewhat of a laughingstock with his perennial quest for the Presidency. Then again, we've upped the ante on laughingstocks since then ... but I digress. As for that LERNER adaptation of "Pygmalion" -- you surely know it as "My Fair Lady," while PETE_BEST (a New York Times debut word) was the predecessor to Ringo Starr (and the rest is history).

Lots more in the puzzle (or the four mini-puzzles, due to the minimal grid-flow) to hack at ... and then all of a sudden, the epiphany: UNIONIZED.

True story: I was teaching my introductory organic chemistry class about mass spectrometry at a time of some labor unrest on campus. I wrote the word IONIZED on the chalk board, to indicate the presence of charge which is necessary for detecting signals in the mass spectrometry experiment, and then added the prefix UN- to indicate the neutral species which do not give signals. Then, with a flourish, I concluded: "If it's unionized, it won't work." The words were barely out of my mouth before I realized what my brain had concocted ... and of course, the class roared with laughter.

So yeah, what's not to love about CHEMIST? As for the being part of a union, good thing for a PLUMBER, teamster, teacher, ..., just about any profession except University professor.

My other favorites in the puzzle, in terms of clever clues skewing to science or sports: RAN_HOME, SINE, YEAST, OPIATE, DIET_DRUG, and ARA. Least favorite, the duplications among ICE_UP, LACED_UP, and UP_UP. Still, on balance, so much to R-E-S-P-E-C-T and ADMIRE.

Marty Van B 1:02 AM  

Medium-Hard here.

Lots of erasures and an ultimate DNF at the intersections of BLOTS, TURKEY and STOREYS. It was the Y that did me in. I once worked in communications at a company whose official language was British English but still couldn't see STOREYS. That made TURKEY impossible to see and I couldn't decide between BLOTS or BLOBS which both seem like reasonable descriptions of calligraphic disasters.

Originally and PANINDIA that led me to believe 10D was the The Era of the GYP (as in GYPER which I now see is correctly spelled Gipper). That was tough to get away from because AFRICANS felt far too overly generic a term for natives of NAIROBI. Natives of the Kenyan Great Rift Valley are earthlings too, don't ya know?

I liked the challenge today even if it was a hard fought DNF.

Larry Gilstrap 1:17 AM  

I counted only four three letter answers. Does anybody keep track of that kind of thing? I have actually been to IONA, which features the tomb of St. Columba in a small stone chapel, and literally nothing else. One big ferry boat crossing, a bus ride across the island of Mull, followed by a short ferry boat trip to the tiny island. Reverse that process back to Oban and that's what I did on my summer vacation. I was a teacher and never saw any exterior door of a classroom that would OPEN IN, for obvious reasons.

Larry Gilstrap 1:55 AM  

What a DODO! I visited IONA in 1978 and remembered nothing about a small village and a retreat that apparently are there. I purposely used "literally," but stand corrected. Scotland is a nice place.

Trombone Tom 2:01 AM  

On the easy side for a Friday.

31A Gray head had me stumped for the longest time until . . . it suddenly clicked.

I miss Hugh LAURIE as Dr. House, not least because he plays a mean jazz piano. ALL-INDIA seemed kind of lame, but it is correct.

42A was a cinch as I had just downloaded the latest version of Chrome to my wife's PC.

Took me a while to get to BEND from compromise.

I'm looking forward to a greater challenge on Saturday.

I usually have to work harder on Mr. Ginsberg's puzzles, but this one was thoroughly ensconced in my wheelhouse.

Lee Coller 2:11 AM  

I thought the theme was "up". "Ice Up," "Laced Up," then the revealer, "Up Up." Or maybe just x-two letter preposition, as we also have "Railed At", "Open In," "Added On,"

Anonymous 4:32 AM  

Not a fun slog for me. Had a WOE at 3D/31A, but in retrospect I should have known better. Meh. Saturday is next.


Anonymous 4:58 AM  

Had an easy time with this puzzle as well, but can someone explain to me what gray head/LEE means?

Also did anyone see the live stream of a woman doing the puzzle on facebook (with 'crowdsourced' answers) yesterday? It was totally hilarious; much better than golf.

three of clubs 5:28 AM  

I believe that Isaac Asimov used the multiple pronunciations as a gimmick in an early short story. One reference:

Loren Muse Smith 6:20 AM  

Like @jae, I've been working my way through some old themelesses (I'm on 2004 right now), and there seem to have been lots more themesome Friday and Saturdays back then. Unlike Rex, I kinda like little themelettes like this. Heteronyms. Cool. What makes this even better is that the word's pronunciation changes in its number of syllables, too. I mean, there are a bajillion words with two pronunciations (sewer, minute, does, produce,…), but having the extra syllable is better.

Speaking of older puzzles, there is a book here (Maine cottage) with puzzles edited by Farrar – published in 1972. We've come a long way, baby. I couldn't get through even one. And most are 17x and 19x. The cluing nowadays is so so so much more deft and elegant.

And speaking of little Friday themes, here is my all-time favorite by one of my all-time favorite constructors, Peter Collins.

I don't know how you e-solvers do it, solve and make notes. There's no margin to pencil earth-shattering observations in. I hate this. I will say that I plopped down "gee" 31A immediately for "gray head," wondering why there was no question mark.

And @jae, I had "it's a" 58D first, too. And I almost wrote in "alpaca" before ANGORA.

@George – funny story about stumbling onto the double meaning of UNIONIZED.

FWIW, I tried to get "preacher" to fit before PLUMBER. My husband and I have been unionized for almost 30 years.

@Lee Coller – good catch on the UPs. In for a penny, in for a pound.

1A GREASY has two pronunciations – mine is gree-zee - so I was initially thinking this would be some kind of dialect joke. As a southerner, I pronounce a few words with extra syllables. Like Uncle Leo got arrested but was released on bayul. 34A is kind of a heteronym, too. The coffee shop isn't openin' 'til 9 so cool your jets.

Thanks, MG – always a pleasure to see your name at the top.

kitshef 7:13 AM  

Peeeeeee-ewww what a stinker. How do you get away with crap like the double ON (ADDED and IS) and the quadruple UP (LACED, ICE, UPUP). Plus RAILED AT and OPEN IN. Also, don't most exterior doors open out? Isn't that a fire code regulation?

Then there is LEASERS, which on a normal day would be something to be RAILED AT, but today almost flies under the radar with so much other garbage in the grid. Same with DIET DRUG.

Had smarmY before GREASY, which would have been much cooler. I did like the clue for SPEEDS.

But overall, jeez o pete that was awful.

Fargo 7:47 AM  

The reference is to Robert E. Lee... Head of the Confederate (grey) Army

Kim Scudera 7:49 AM  

@Anonymous 4:58 -- Robert E. LEE, head of the Conferates, aka the "Grays"

Tim Pierce 8:25 AM  

Thanks to @Fargo and @Kim for explaining 31A: Gray head. I had LEA/EUGENIA in that corner, which seemed to make as much sense as anything else.

This felt on the easier side of a Friday puzzle for me, and I enjoyed it a lot: clean fill throughout and a mini-theme that made me laugh out loud when I got it. The lower right corner proved to be a mess for me after I put in "look" for 58D and PREcook for 43D. Eventually I fixed 43D to PREBAKE and "fixed" 58D to "UPin". Sheesh. That corner was filled with BLOTS by the time I got done with it.

The one part that I disliked was the NE corner: ARA / ALLINDIA / STASSEN. "All-India" seems to be a popular name for restaurants and media companies, but AFAIK is not well known as an adjective for "subcontinent-wide". It's not too bad by itself, but crossing with the truly obscure ARA and STASSEN bring it down a notch.

Minor complaints. Really, I had fun with this one and enjoyed both the cluing (5D: When told "I'm sleepy," she sometimes says "I hope you're not driving") and the answers (DIETDRUG, UNCLELEO, PETEBEST).

Nancy 8:39 AM  

Oh, I see. Thanks @George B for enlightening me. For the CHEMIST, it's UN-IONIZED. Now I get it!

I enjoyed wrestling with this puzzle, which I did not find easy. At best, Medium to Somewhat Hard in three sections and Hard in the SE. Not knowing DEVO didn't help. And what I know about Superman would fill a thimble; I wanted IT'S A (bird, it's a plane) at 58D. Isn't UP UP (and away) the theme of either Pan Am or TWA? Couldn't see TURKEY, even with the T and the Y, until I had the U of UP UP. I thought the cluing was oblique throughout, adding difficulty. Loved UNCLE LEO. A nice puzzle.

Z 8:57 AM  

Did someone mention that they like Hugh LAURIE the musician?

"Insincerely polite" does not get me to GREASY, and who names a princess EUGENIE? I wonder if the teasing at Eton is as bad as any US Middle School... Oh, wait, princes only, no princesses need apply. Anywhooo, NW was the last mini I finished. Hand up for gEE to LEE, worrying that ANGORA wasn't correct because it should be ANGORrA (confusing my ANGORA with my Andorra, apparently), and drawing a total blank on AROMAtherapy. I did like the YEAST clue, though.

I never much appreciate it when two corners are isolated. When you have all four corners and, as a result, an isolated middle, the difficulty is artificially raised by that isolation. In the SW AXES opened up the corner. In the NE it was ILIAD. The SE took longer because I PRE-cooked before I PRE-BAKEd. I did rather enjoy seeing STOREYS after yesterdays little debate over the "proper" spelling of "storys."

TABOO also gave me pause because I presumed we were looking for something Yiddish or Hebrew, not Tongan. I know the Arabic equivalent, (Haram), so just presumed the clue was pointing me at something specific to Judaism.

Quick PPP
Pop Culture, Product Names, and Proper Nouns
22 of 70 for 31%. Highish, but I think it could play higher for people because of the isolated corners. For example, six clues in the SW are PPP (LERNER, UNCLE LEO, PETE BEST, Aretha Franklin's RESPECT, ERLE Stanley Gardner, and Time Magazine's ISSUES) and all six are dated. If I'm a 20-something or a 30-something that corner is going to be killer.

Glenn Patton 9:11 AM  

OFL is correct that there are lots of examples of unionized workers but, perhaps, Matt Ginsberg picked plumbers because, in addition to being members of their Plumbers and Pipefitters Local, they create "unions" (i.e., pipe couplings) every day as part of their jobs?

Wednesday's Child 9:18 AM  

A little easier for me today. My first longish answer was PETE BEST. What a story he has.

jberg 9:25 AM  

Rats-- I never figured out that Robert E. thing, and I don't know my minor princesses, to EUGENIa seemed just as good. I didn't get why 31A was LEa, but figured it was something about Thomas Gray and his elegy, with the lowing herd and all. I should have thought more. (I guess it could have referred to Lea Gray, the Columbus-based designer, except that I had never heard of her prior to right now.)

This one was hard for me, due to the aforementioned 'smarmy,' then RAN away, ILIum (where Paris was from), with its topless towers. I was ready to believe that there was an app called LE that helps you learn to drive, so that 21A could be LE uSERS. Also PREpArE before BAKE.

Somehow, it all clicked, except for that dratted LEE.

Hartley70 9:36 AM  

This played easy for me until I ended up in the SE and got stuck in cement. I had PCS, TAROT and BLOTS but I couldn't see the rest until I went back to sleep and let my subconscious do the job. Neither of us have ever heard of DEVO. One of us was fooled by STOREYS' alternate spelling.

Since I knew LERNER immediately and managed to wriggle out PETEBEST, EUGENIE, LAURIE and STASSEN, I had a head start on the rest of the puzzle. Look for the proper names first should be my mantra.

I was delighted to see the theme today. I don't understand why some prefer a themeless. Do you feel it makes the puzzle easier to solve? I like a theme because it adds a bit of mystery and if it's clever, adds a bit of fun. This had both. Thanks, Matt.

Carola 9:37 AM  

Agree about easy-medium: I solved it top-to-bottom at pleasurably non-GLACIAL pace. Lotsa help from the names: EUGENIE, LAURIE, STASSEN, NAIROBI, IONA, LERNER, PETE BEST, ARA.

I liked the theme - the 36A reveal got a smile from me, and of course made me wonder what UNIONIZED worker would get to star in 57A. Also ADMIREd UNSETTLE, COVETED, the clue for the angels and arches, and RILE x RAILED AT (hi@kitshef - loved your comment!).

oldbizmark 9:39 AM  

This played very hard for me. My NE and SW corners were messes. Never would think of "GREASY" as meaning insincerely polite. No idea about "EUGENIE." Couldn't for the life of me come up with "LAURIE." Still... actually... just figured out how un-I-on-ized could be pronounced with four syllables. PLUMBER did not come. Not sure why it has to be a PLUMBER who says unionized with three syllables (like Rex said) and this definitely threw me off a bit (as did not being able to figure out how it could possibly have four syllables - until I started typing this). Enjoyed what I could get but after a very easy week, I guess I was unprepared to tackle this one. Still, enjoyed the parts I was able to solve and the cluing was fair. Enjoy your Friday everyone.

Mary Perry 9:42 AM  

My only complaint: too many "UPs" ICE UP UP UP LACED UP.

Anonymous 10:12 AM  

Stassen isn't as well known as he once was, but he's an interesting guy. In effect, he's the impetus for the Ivy League. The ancient eight's member schools had been around for a long time before Stassen arrived on the scene, of course, but they had never formally been organized as such. Some of us hate to admit it, but the Ivy league is really a sports league.
Anyway, Stassen became president of Penn after getting aced out of the `48 nomination by Dewey. He did big things for the Quakers.
Hurrah for the Red and the Blue.

AskGina 10:13 AM  

Impossible. All India? Gray head.

Mohair Sam 10:13 AM  

Well this would have been an easy Friday if we hadn't fallen in love with "itsa" for Superman (hi @Jae), and if I didn't talk so fast that "ION" is a one syllable word for me (Where the hell is this four syllable word they're talking about!?!?). So it played medium here, and we thoroughly enjoyed.

We don't follow royalty at all and had to fill EUGENIE, sure is a funny sounding name for a princess. Surprised OFL didn't know STASSEN, a gimme here. I remember wishing he was running in 2000, the only year I didn't vote for President (this year will be the second time, where are you Harold?). Loved the clue for RESPECT, actually wondered where the word appeared in old Ben's writings for a while before the delightful "aha!" hit.

phil phil 10:14 AM  

Relationship with these should make some clever comments here

STASSEN should have used PLUMBERs. May have got in...

Wednesday's Child 10:31 AM  

I agree with @z that the difficulty is artificially raised when quadrants are isolated. Part of the fun is finding answers that extend into another area thus opening it up.

Still, an enjoyable puzzle.

Back to PETE BEST. I heard the story that Pete's girlfriend put pressure on him to drop out of the group. I find no evidence of this in his online bios.

Was Ringo the better drummer? Did John and Paul feel threatened by Pete's popularity? There seems to be no clear explanation.

Pete appears to be well adjusted now, a likeable guy. What a story.

old timer 10:33 AM  

Quite a divergence of opinion here. I thought this was as perfect a Friday puzzle as I've seen in quite a while. Fridays are supposed to be hard, and one thing that often makes them hard is they are heavily segmented. I took one look at the NW corner and gave up. 40 years ago I could have told you each of the first 20 heirs to the British throne. But all those royals keep having kids! I can't keep up or maybe do not care to.

So I crossed the page. Although I've been on safari, NAIROBI did not come to mind, for that is not a place where safaris take place. It's a fairly large city, founded as a capital by the Brits, and coffee plantations had pretty much wiped out the elephants and lions and zebras and giraffes. You can go north a bit to Mt Kenya and see some game, and go farther north to Samburu and see lots of game, but the wildest thing in NAIROBI is maybe a stray dog. But: The way to solve these tough puzzles is to take a wild guess and see if it's right. Mine was ALLINDIA. My next was RAILEDAT and the rest of the corner was easy.

The SW was right up my alley. LERNER, PETEBEST, etc. For a moment I thought the R would be "rescue", thinking of the explorer Franklin. When I got RESPECT I grinned. Best clue in the puzzle. UNIONIZED made it clear that there would be a worker of some sort in the SE and a scientist in the NW. PLUMBER fit and the rest of the corner fell easily.

My wild guess in the NW was AROMAS. That made the scientist a CHEMIST. For quite a while I thought I would Natick, not knowing whether the princess was Eugenia or EUGENIE. Then I realized that LEE was the "grey head" in more ways than one, and the puzzle was done.

I haven't been to IONA but I have driven across Mull. Dr. Johnson and Boswell visited IONA and it was pretty much the same then as it is now. It is the birthplace of Christianity in Britain. Columba ended his days in Jarrow, didn't he? It's near Newcastle, though the abbey is long gone. So is the abbey on Lindisfarne or "Holy Island" but that's a splendid place to visit. Spend the night if you can.

G.Harris 11:10 AM  

Southeast was my undoing. Had its a for up up, and didn't know Devo or pcs and could not finish. Worked out the balance and regard it as a partial victory.

Joseph Michael 11:13 AM  

Very nice puzzle with excellent cluing. Especially liked the misdirection in the clues for SIRI, ROBE, LEE, and PCS which turned short fill into interesting responses.

Andrew Heinegg 11:29 AM  

I got naticked in the s.e. because I never heard the Superman phrase start with up up. I remember it as: 'look, up in the sky; is it a bird, a plane? etc. If the constructor wanted up twice, IMHOP, he should have tried another clue like say, the first two words of a Fifth Dimension song (up, up and away in my beautiful balloon).

The odd part for me is that I found most of it Tuesdayish easy and the rest of it just not in my wheelhouse. Crossword schizophrenia, if you will;

C Christie 11:31 AM  

Once again, the leftist main-stream media spouts its socialist agenda in the unlikeliest of spots, the crossword puzzle. They've made subliminal brainwashing at art form, yet some of us see through their ploys. There's the NYTimes, putting UNIONIZED, front and center. While they certainly hope all the lemmings will cheer at figuring that out, it just won't happen, not while I'm alive and relevant!

I for one will not stop until I've stripped from all workers any input their employment status all but the most brutal machinations of the free market. Negotiate with the unions, arrange for some give and take, sure, I'll do that. I'll take, then forget to give. When I'm VP, the only prefix for ionized will be DE.

Wait, Pence!? Pence who? A pence is British, and not worth a damn.

Did I say something about being relevant?

Roo Monster 11:31 AM  

Hey All !
UP UP and away! With two more UPs. PICK ME, UPS! Inelegant for the four UPs?

Anyway, thought puz was nice, two pronunciations for Central word, some misdirect clues thrown in for good measure. For UPUP, had look first, then UP in. Is it not, "Look, UP in the sky..." I guess that would be Superman Observers catchphrase starter, eh?

Had AlpacA for ANGORA, ROBo-ROBE. Some other wrong letters here and there, but ended up on the whole as medium. Low block count, only 26. Low threes, as pointed out earlier, only 4. So a nice grid.

AXES another two pronunciation word for @LMS. Rexs PS AMISS very funny!

Time I RAN HOME...

Anoa Bob 11:51 AM  

I was listening to an interview on our local public radio station yesterday with author Jennifer K. Armstrong about her book Seinfeldia: How a Show About Nothing changed Everything, so UNCLE LEO (62A) was a nice little tidbit of synchronicity.

I wonder if LEE (31A) could have been clued in reference to UNIONIZED.

Speaking of which, I enjoyed reading @George B's episode regarding UNIONIZED. Once I was doing a chalk & talk in Biopsychology, not a subject known for its humor, and I heard some titters and muffled laughs from the class. I looked to see what brought this on and saw that I had misspelled the second word in "living organism". Can you guess what I had written?

Only need three more lower, right-most S's out of the next seven grids, and I'll be flush with Labatt Blues!

Matt Ginsberg 11:51 AM  

Interesting. When I was constructing the puzzle, I could have switched the blocks before 25-A and 30-A so that they pointed the other way, running diagonally up from the block before 34-A. That would have increased the flow from the NE and SW, and would (as it turned out) have been considerably easier to fill. But I chose not to do that because it would up the count on 3-letter words from 4 to 8. I hate 3-letter words, which are almost impossible to get to be lively.

Did I choose wrongly?

Micael Moroney 12:02 PM  

Ringo was the better drummer. George Martin wouldn't have Pete Best play on recordings.

GILL I. 12:09 PM  

Took me about two hours to finally complete and I loved every minute. I guess most of the second hour was REALLY trying to figure out how UNIONIZED had 4 damn syllables....Oh..UN-I-ON etc. Clever - so was PLUMBER.
NAIROBI is also called "the Green City Under the Sun." I've not been to IONA but I was in Kenya back in the sixties. I loved everything Kenyan especially after reading "Something of Value." I remember seeing both Mt. Kilimanjaro and Mt. Kenya while standing in the middle of The Nairobi National Park.
Now, I really want to know why shaving with a razor is TABOO in Jewish law. How else do you shave? Sharp knife? a SNEE? - inquiring minds would like to know.....!

Lewis 12:13 PM  

@loren -- I keep a scrap of paper and pen by my computer for notes. And... have a great time!
@Z and @Wednesday's Child -- I don't think isolating the corners artificially raises the difficulty; I don't see anything artificial about it. It is an element that genuinely raises the difficulty, it seems to me.

This fell right in my wheelhouse, apparently, where it felt like there were more gimmes than usual for a Friday, and where the tricky clues were on my wavelength. I liked the mini theme, and the answers GLACIAL (as clued), UNSETTLE, and COVETED, and the clues for PCS and FALLEN. It was like doing four mini-puzzles; I would have liked more connectivity (the middle didn't seem like a separate puzzle -- the four corners contribute quite a bit to it). Also, the clue for ALL_INDIA ("Subcontinent-wide") seemed too broad (as though it were about subcontinents rather than India). Southern Africa and North America are subcontinents (and there are more). I have found out that there is a specific Indian Subcontinent, but the clue felt misleading to me.

I loved UNCLE_LEO rooming with PETE_BEST. That's a scenario that makes me smile, as this clean and clever puzzle made my heart do as well.

Numinous 12:34 PM  

I misposted this in yesterday's blog, "As I have already said, it's too bad Wednesday's puzzle was the POW!"

My family (well, clan, actually) is from Mull so IONA was a gimme. Many clansmen were priests and regarded IONA as home.

Hands up for panINDiA and PREcook. I had EUGENIa before I figured out LEE. I can't imagine what would happen to the monarchy if there was some terrible disaster and suddenly Britain was left with Queen EUGENIE Regina the first.

kitshef 12:39 PM  

'Pon reading the comments, realized I DNFed at EGENIEa/LEa. I assumed Lea Gray was one of the seemingly infinite actors/singers unknown to me. One more reason to revile this puzzle.

Anonymous 12:57 PM  

Considering that Friday usually takes less than five minutes, and I'd didn't even finish this one, let me rant. I don't like the digs at the Confederate States of America. Lee was a general of the Army of the CSA army, and not a "gray head." Taboo is not yiddish or hebrew, so what gives? Africans? Ask anyone from Nairobi, and they will say they are Kenyans. Ever hear a guy from toronto say he is a North American? Never heard of Lerner, Eugenie or Hugh whoever. Devo I knew, but in my childhood Superman started with "look!" not upup. Greasy is just plain wrong. Glibly is better. Who is Suri? Where is Mull. Franklin who? I liked Alpaca better than Angora and braces better than aroma. I never got the theme. This was way ugly, or I had better move in to the Alzheimers unit now. If I could remember how to spell it.

Mohair Sam 1:03 PM  

@Wednesday's Child - Back in the day the day the story was that George Martin, their producer, told them that they could use the popular and handsome Best on stage but he demanded a session drummer on their recordings - Martin just didn't think Best had the talent. Producer Brian Epstein is said to have felt that the situation was ridiculous and talked the other Beatles into letting him fire Best.

You'll probably get six other explanations.

Teedmn 1:33 PM  

Matt Ginsberg certainly UPped the ante on this Friday puzzle with its cute mini theme. It played hard for me because I first had the popular "it"s a" answer at 58D and then changed it to "look" as in "Look, up in the sky, it's a bird..." 65A's SPEEDS changed this to looP and no matter how much black scratching out I did there, I couldn't get rid of looP in my vision. I finally figured it out.

I think PLUMBER is not just green paint - PLUMBERs use UNIONs in making couplings in their work so there's another layer there, whether intended or not.

I agree that GREASY doesn't fit the clue, for me, but otherwise I really enjoyed this Friday challenge.

NCA President 1:33 PM  

The mention of Ms. Franklin and her famous song reminds me of a (probably apocryphal) story of when she was rehearsing a concert for the Fort Wayne Philharmonic. Ronald Ondrejka, conductor at the time, was an old school European with very little pop culture exposure. The story goes that during the rehearsal, Ms. Franklin pulled a diva and threw a fit...again, as the story goes, one of many fits prior. Maestro Ondrejka had had enough of this and stopped the rehearsal and, in front of the entire orchestra said, "What you need, Ms. Franklin, is to show a little respect!" And with that he stormed off the stage.

This was told to me by a FWPhil member, but that doesn't necessarily make it true...but why let the truth stand in the way of a good story?

This puzzle was okay. I didn't know EUGENIE, but I do know a EUGENIa. Trouble is, the Gray leader clue didn't help at all. So LEa stood there, hiding in plain sight. I got to the end of the puzzle and couldn't find my error for a very long time. I was on track to do really well until that little hiccup...

I just finished to "My Fair Lady" so I knew of LERNER.

I needed to come here and read Rex's blog to find out what the "theme" was. UNION-IZED v. UN-IONIZED. Meh. You mean a word can have two different pronunciations and mean two different things? Color me shocked. Heteronymns. At least with true heteronyms you don't need that UN start...

Sheryl 1:39 PM  

Not easy for me, but I managed to finish without googling - unusual for me on a Friday. I liked the two-pronunciation word.

Dolgo 2:26 PM  

I had "Lea" also. I wasn't sure about the pincess, and I stretched for a pasture in a poem by Thomas Gray. DUMB!!

Martín Abresch 2:28 PM  

Three years ago, a Reddit thread made the Internet rounds: What's the most intellectual joke you know? I have seen this thread get reposted on Facebook many times, and I've seen numerous other sites post their own versions of "15 Jokes Only Smart People Will Understand" that directly stole from this thread. In the original thread was this joke: "How can you tell the difference between a chemist and a plumber? Ask them to pronounce unionized."

That's why the answer is PLUMBER rather than teacher.

Z 2:36 PM  

@Wednesday's Child - To partly answer your question spend 3 minutes watching this.

@Hartley 70 - Themes constrain puzzles. Look at the blank grids for Fridays and Saturdays and compare them with the blank grids for Wednesday and Thursdays and you can see a difference. Themeless puzzles will generally be much more wide open, while you'll find more black squares and short answer blocks in a themed puzzle. A theme is constructed around a neat idea or bit of wordplay. Themelesses have to built around cool words. Which is better is a matter of taste. Like a gin gimlet with a twist of lime versus a vodka tonic with a twist of lemon. Very different if you know what to look for....

Alan 2:51 PM  

Easy for me, as I got CHEMIST shortly after starting successfully in the NW, and then plunked in UN-IONIZED without reading the clue. My wife, a doctor, pulled the read-this-word-for-me trick with that word one time (I was pro-labor), so it jumped to mind. A couple of hiccups with bleepED before CENSORED and thurmaN (yeah, Strom Thurmond doesn't actually fit there) before STRASSEN (who?) in the NE, and BLObs and PREcook in the SE.

AliasZ 3:43 PM  

@George Barany, congrats on your prominent placement in the puzzle.

Floregonian 4:20 PM  

Funny thing about the exterior doors where I live in Florida: they all open *out* because of hurricanes. The frame keeps the door from blowing inward, which (like any unintended opening in a house during high winds) can result in the roof coming off and significant damage. It took me a while to get used to, but now seems pretty normal. And during the hurricanes I've personally experienced, I've been glad for the practice.

Nancy 5:41 PM  

@Matt Ginsberg (11:51 a.m.) -- I haven't a clue what you were talking about in your post, which is why you are a constructor and I am not. I looked at 25A and 30A and I looked at the black squares around them and instead of saying Aha, I said WTF? But it sure sounds as though you know what you are doing -- whatever it is. As for: Did you make a mistake? Should the sections have been more intertwined? Even if that meant more three-letter words? I say No -- emphatically. I enjoyed this puzzle just as it was, Mr. Ginsberg, and I thank you for it.

Sherri Fogelman 7:58 PM  

You had me at even the mere ability to construct .....thanks and pay no attention to the haters behind the curtain

Adam Frank 8:15 PM  

I had "Look" after "Itsa" - "Upup" I got from the crosses. I agree - the right side of the puzzle gave me far more trouble than the left, especially the SE corner as a result of the aforementioned "Upup". Still, a fun puzzle - I liked it more than @Rex did.

Mohair Sam 8:15 PM  

@Z 2:36 - Thanks for the link - neat stuff.

Mohair Sam 8:37 PM  

@Matt Ginsberg - No, you chose wisely - any move that halves the threes in a puzzle is a good move. As I said earlier we thoroughly enjoyed this puzzle, now I realize at least part of the reason why.

Doug Freeman 11:01 AM  

@Martin Abresch
Thanks. Was trying to remember where I had JUST seen this theme, and it was a recirculation of that Facebook post.

Patrick Kellogg 1:47 PM  

I'm having trouble understanding 41 across "CLUBS TO BEAT PEOPLE WITH?" The answer is ACES, but that doesn't make sense to me. Do they mean the Ace of Clubs? There is only one ace. I could see "CLUB (singular) TO BEAT PEOPLE WITH?" but that's still not a good clue. Am I missing out on some specific unknown bridge knowledge like diamonds-beats-spades? Thanks,

Lois 8:06 AM  

Gill I: About your question regarding shaving in Jewish law, the prohibition is from Leviticus 19:27. There is a lot of material on the subject online. Wikipedia has a good article. Many Orthodox Jews do not shave, but some use an electric shaver rather than a razor.

spacecraft 10:44 AM  

Easy in places (NE, SW), medium to challenging in the other corners. Yes, once more the NW waited till last. GREASY for insincerely polite?? Must be a local thing. Even with gimme LAURIE in, the rest didn't come (at the time, I hadn't yet figured out the syllabification of the central answer).

The SE caused some BLOTS when I wrote PREcook and StakeS. Thought I had two choices for the Superman thing: MORE (powerful that a locomotive) or ABLE (to leap tall buildings with a single bound). Neither fit. Also forgot about the Brit spelling of STORieS. Took way too long to get PCS from Chrome runners, duh, and finally COVETED came to light and helped pull the whole thing together.

Have you ever been saved at a natick square by the fact that the letter you picked formed a word that was already in the grid? That happened to me today. Didn't know the Mozart title (well, I did afterward, headslap), and SIRS going down made as much sense as anything for "Top of the line?"--but then there sat SINE--and there was another SINE at 27-down! So I went back, ran the alph--oh crap, of course. EINE Kleine Nachtmusik. Double-duh! I did more headslapping today than Gibbs.

No real ISSUES with the fill, for a change. SIDEB a slight annoyance, but nothing to RILE me. Gee, will SIRI really do that? Good for you, honey, but as you are a disembodied entity you are not eligible for Damsel of the Day. That award goes to the awesome Aretha "Frankenstein," lol--Franklin. Birdie.

Burma Shave 11:40 AM  


LACEDUP, but OPENIN front to EXAMINE and probe.
With RESPECT, it’s no TABOO, no CENSORED sin to ya,
lest LAURIE RANHOME ‘cause she’s not at ALLINDIA.


leftcoastTAM 3:23 PM  

Easy in the south, challenging in the north, medium in the center.

South: DEVO, unknown but gettable via crosses. Did Superman really say "Up, up, and away"? Sounds real corny now, but guess he did.

Center: The two pronunciations of UNIONIZED escaped me until I came here, so didn't get CHEMIST in the...

North: Mainly NW, familiar coffin corner. Couldn't translate the clue (insincerely polite) as GREASY. Then a brain freeze on Hugh LAURIE's name, despite his "House" being a TV favorite.

There, the puzzle finished me.

rondo 4:08 PM  

Nary a write-over for me, due again to lotsa mental cross-checking to prevent premature annotation. It takes some time, but that finished grid looks oh so nice. The areas with the “themers” went slowest because of the cross-referenced clues.

Harold STASSEN is a gimme here in MN. Sometimes known as the “Boy Governor” – elected at age 31. I actually went to the state capitol rotunda some years ago when his body laid in state in honor of his service.

Only knew EUGENIE due to the missus always checking on Brit royals. Don’t know if it’s proper to call a princess a yeah baby or not. EUGENIE sure takes after her mother. Can Jenny Craig or a DIETDRUG be far behind? Depends on what gets ADDEDON.

CASES on top of EMPTIES reminds me of the parties we used to throw.

@lefty - I'll just go with the laude clue yesterday as being a "partial".

Looks like my golf team of 50 and 60-somethings will be playing the team of 20 and 30-somethings for the men’s league PENNANT next week. Same thing happened in softball last week.

Musical stuff: Was Ringo or PETEBEST? Who knows? DEVO a gimme, you must Whip It.

I can take a Fri-puz like this all the time. Even if it’s more than UP and UP.

Sailor 5:43 PM  

I enjoyed the mini-theme, the lack of three-letter fill, and the nod to the great Aretha Franklin (sock it to me!) so thanks to Mr. Ginsberg. Nicely done.

Those positives largely - but not completely - compensate for the borderline-high PPP and, especially, the several slightly off-kilter clues.

In a perfect world, 1A would have been "smarmy," an absolutely terrific word which perfectly fits the clue, but alas. Count me among those who finished the NW last, and also those who have never heard GREASY used as clued.

Besides 1A, there is TABOO, a Polynesian word with a Jewish clue. I expected the Yiddish "treif" there.

I also raised an eyebrow at AFRICANS and PREBAKE, both of which are obviously technically correct, but... would you introduce either Abdel Fattah el-Sisi or Uhuru Kenyatta as an "African"? No, the one is Egyptian and the other Kenyan. Similarly, meals prepared ahead of time are generally referred to as "precooked" even if they were cooked by baking.

So, one thumb up, but, sadly, not two.

rondo 5:54 PM  

@sailor - you are so correct on the word "smarmy". If not for my newfound self-restraint, that would have gone in immediately and made the NW a mess.

Anonymous 7:08 PM  

LERNER was the lyricist for My Fair Lady which was based on the myth of Pygmalion.

leftcoastTAM 8:14 PM  

@rondo: Braggadocio is very un-Minnesotan. Were you born and raised there? (I was, which may account somewhat for my sensitivities.)

Teedmn 9:46 PM  

@BS, true LOL due to ALLINDIA. Excellent repurposing of the fill!

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