Gendered Seinfeld accessory / FRI 8-19-16 / Certain grenade for short / Fierce onetime Beyonce alter ego / Beatles title girl with little white book / On hoof in dinner lingo / Non-humanities acronym / Early Judaic sect / Nonactor with cameos in more than 20 Marvel movies

Friday, August 19, 2016

Constructor: Paolo Pasco

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: none 

Word of the Day: Walter ALSTON (21A: Walter ___, Dodgers manager before Tommy Lasorda) —
Walter Emmons Alston (December 1, 1911 – October 1, 1984), nicknamed "Smokey", was an American baseball player and manager in Major League Baseball (MLB). He is best known for managing the Brooklyn/Los Angeles Dodgers between 1954 and 1976. Alston signed 23 one-year contracts with the Dodgers. He had a calm, reticent demeanor, for which he was sometimes also known as "The Quiet Man". (wikipedia)
• • •

Always happy to see this kid's name on the byline. I know the puzzle is going to be reasonably current, reasonably snappy, reasonably clean. Again I will call attention to my 1-Across/Gimme principle, which says that if 1-A is a gimme, the puzzle is going Down. And 1-Across was in fact a gimme (1A: "Come again?" ("WHAT'S THAT?")), and down it went, this puzzle, though I did get an unexpected fight from the NE corner thanks largely to Walter ALSTON, whose name means nothing to me despite my being a baseball fan and, in my youth, a Dodger fan. Problem: I started paying attention to baseball / collecting baseball cards in 1978, which means baseball consciousness began with the 1977 season, which means I missed the ALSTON era entirely. Why does no one every mention his name ever? He's in the Hall of Fame, but not so's you'd know. 23 years is a Long time to manage a major team and leave, like, no impression. Blame Lasorda, I guess (who was a bona fide media star, and who won more than one World Series). ALSTON won a World Series in Brooklyn, but it was waaaay in the beginning of his managerial career. Anyway, ALSTON grid-blocked me, man. Not cool. Also had some issues with USO TOUR (12D: Entertainment for general audiences?) and HILLY (10D: Good for sledding, say). For the latter, I really wanted something snow ... y.

Very cool how he stacked BRING IT ON and IT'S GO TIME (58A and 61A: "Let's do this!"). Much much much more impressive to stack long answers with identical clues than to do the more typical stupid thing of having successive Across (or Down) answers have the same clues, as if anyone just goes through the clues in order. I was a victim of my own big vocabulary (or my own dimwittedness, take your pick) when I got to 43D: Model and had EPI- and went with EPIGONE! Who does that? No one. I am the sole human on the planet who did that. Congratulate me. [Rush, e.g.] for REED was tough, despite the fact that I recently swam in a large pond that was bordered by rushes and I even referred to them as rushes so that meaning should've been near the surface of my mind. But wasn't. [Batman?] for CASEY was also tough (the reference point there is the poem "CASEY at the Bat," in case you somehow didn't know). But everything in between was cake. Fun cake. Yummy cake. Good puzzle.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Da Bears 12:21 AM  

More like a B to me. No sparkle and nothing particularly contemporary. Any other By-Line and I suspect it would have received a lesser grade from @Rex. Nothing wrong with it except fairly easy for Friday and nothing stands out. I agree grid is clean. Forgettable Friday.

Unknown 12:41 AM  

Surprisingly easy for a Friday puzzle. Being 82, Alston was a gimme. Who the hell is Leona?

Ellen S 1:07 AM  

9 Inch Nails band members have names? Learn somethin' new every day!

Meg 1:36 AM  

Alston was a gimme for me, too. I even have his book on my shelf (yeah, he wrote one). Guess I'm older than you.

Martín Abresch 1:41 AM  

BRING_IT_ON over IT'S_GO_TIME is nice, but if the cost is putting them both above THE_STATES and crossing them with HAD_AT_IT, EPITOME, and ESSENES (ESSENES!!!) then the cost is too high.

I see longish answers with crossword friendly letters. RICE_A_RONI has appeared four times in the past year. ESTATE_TAX has STATE in it, which means an automatic point deduction. (That deduction is doubled in the further case of THE_STATES.) USO_TOUR tries to dress up USO. I see the same bit of crosswordese under there. Then USO_TOUR gets placed along RENOIRS and STAN_LEE: it's clean, sure, but there is no ambition there at all. Is there any fun, yummy cake in the southwest corner? I see a bunch of meh entries: BIG_EATER, BAD_EGGS, I_LOVE_L.A., and GLEANED.

Wait, maybe the yummy cake is in the six-letter words. REBIRTH? DEMISE? DYNAST? ARE_NOT? TETRAS? ALSTON? BAR_BETS? TEE_HEE? Ugh. So boring.

Some people might like MAN_PURSE but that's one Seinfeld joke I'm less fond of. It's a man! Wearing a purse! But he won't admit it's a purse! Wear what you want and screw the haters.

The clue for EVADES (Shakes off) was stretched to match SHED (Shake off). In the case of EVADES, the "off" is unnecessary and less accurate: it's just "shakes." The clue for USO_TOUR (Entertainment for general audiences?) also tries too hard: it gives general performances to the privates, not private performances to the generals.

It's not a bad puzzle. It's just boring. Very, very boring.

George Barany 1:52 AM  

TEEHEE to @Paolo Pasco's puzzle, and to @Rex's review of it. Some fun words and some clever clues -- with "Trust issue?" for ESTATE_TAX being a particular standout. Of course, my demographic had absolutely no problem with ALSTON, and the "Batman?" clue reminded me of Mighty KC from about 10 months ago, as well as this timeless YouTube clip starring James Earl Jones.

Did anyone else try DespoT ahead of DYNAST, or BAR_tabS ahead of BAR_BETS? Here in academia, we all know that STEM stands for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, while ALLY refers to those sympathetic to LGBTQIQ (click here for an image designed by my colleague @Lee Penn -- many of us have that sticker on our office doors).

jae 1:59 AM  

Easy-medium for me too. Vaguely knew ALSTON, but solidly knew I LOVE LA, MANPURSE, STAN LEE, ERICA, RITA and TRENT which my daughter, who is sitting here playing cards with my bride and grandkids, and who gave me a NIN concert t-shirt, did not not know when I read her the clue. Those answers plus the "Lets do this!" combo provided more than enough zip. Liked it a lot, or what @Rex said.

da kine 2:24 AM  

I thought this was a great puzzle but it was over all too soon. I finished in Wednesday-ish time.

Larry Gilstrap 2:33 AM  

Very strange solving experience: started and finished at 28A, which is a RARE path for me to follow. When VCR's were first invented, me and my first-wife would tape All My Children while we were slaving Downtown, and watch it with dinner. I can never remember how ERICA spells her name, but CASEY homered at bat, today, anyway and joy ensued. I taught junior high school before it was in the middle, and I often would read the poem from the textbook. The kids ate it up. THE STATES have a rich culture. RENOIR crossing OIL. Come on folks! Road sign silhouette as a clue for DEER? That is the stuff of a Tough Grid Info Friday (Abbrev.) Even OFL's RATE of this puzzle was complimentary. Wheelhouse/outhouse moment involved an ANAGRAM using John Donne, for crying out loud. I am a good crossword solver, but groups of letters devoid of meaning result in some serious glazing over. Jumble or Boggle might as well be in Russian.


Dr. Bunger 2:42 AM  

Oops, regional dialect reference to "me and my wife." which of course should have been "my first-wife and I..." She was a nice lady, Erica was a tramp.

Anonymous 3:53 AM  

Genuinely relieved when 11D turned out not to be some modern monstrosity. Times puzzles are my only frame of reference, but it seems I should encounter SADAT in crosswords more often. Thought "cold and damp" would rhyme with "tramp" here. Thought on the hoof might reference to-go orders. Much enjoyment!

Loren Muse Smith 3:57 AM  

@George - I had the Y in place so didn't try "despot."

Anagrams are growing on me. Maybe those clues are kinda like baby steps to coax your brain into cryptic clue mode? I always just think I can't even begin to get That kind of cluing. I imagine I'm wrong, though, and cryptic clues are much crypticker than the one for 8D ANAGRAM.

MAN PURSE anagrams to SUPERman. Just sayin.

I disagree, @Martin – I'll absolutely take those crosses to get the stacked BRING IT ON and IT'S GO TIME.

I can eat my weight in RICE-A-RONI. Good stuff.

TONGS – I put examples of funny English outside my door, and yesterday put up a sign from some store in another country, DO NOT TOUCH BREAD WITH HANDS. PLEASE USE TONGUE. Cool.

@Larry Gilstrap - I listen carefully to speakers on tv, especially those from Australia and the UK, and I tell you – it's a free-for-all out there now with pronouns. The order, the case – none of that seems to matter anymore, at least for speakers who aren't concerned with such things. I can't think of any example where doing what you did would interfere with communication at all. Everyone understood you. All your sentence does is invite some people to feel superior.

I know I'm gonna get an email from a certain someone about this, something to the effect that my descriptivist stance is just as sanctimonious and judgmental as the pedants' prescriptivism. Sure. Guilty. I'll harshly judge those who judge others based on musty, fusty, desperate, unrealistic, grammar rules. I'll call them jerko-schmerkos, while I myself remain a hip, cool, reasonable, enlightened, fun-loving, evolved good egg. ;-)

Great puzzle, Paolo.

phil phil 4:40 AM  

Didn't know SASHA so DYNAmo slowed me down. Fun puzzle

to repeat another poster from a few days ago. The wednesday mini is a must do. Not hard and it shows off Joels talent without being a groaner.

phil phil 4:50 AM  

'Hates California is cold and is damp
That's why the lady is a tramp'

Back at ya Randy

Trombone Tom 5:45 AM  

Breezed through this thinking easy for Friday until I hit the SE where BRING IT ON and IT'S GO TIME would not come to me at all. Put the puzzle away for a couple of hours and came back to it and saw those answers right away. The subconscious can perform miracles!

Agree with @Rex about the initial across being a key. Having grown up in the Bay Area RICE-A-RONI ("the San Francisco treat") was a gimme. And a career as a trust attorney meant ESTATE TAX dropped in easily. TReeS before TRAPS. Did not know LEONA but the crosses were there after RENOIRS and STAN LEE were in.

Because of my Mississippi-Alabama lacuna I'd have to say this was a tad tougher than easy. All-in-all a pleasant soujourn with Mr. Pasco. I look forward to more from him.

TonySaratoga 6:43 AM  

Not sure how Leona and Kim Jong-un balance Rice a Roni Alston Manpurse Susan Lucci estate tax Columbus Nine Inch Nails Beatles Sadat Renoir Casey Stan Lee and Essenes to make this "reasonably current." This is an old old puzzle.

TonySaratoga 6:45 AM  

Forgot Beyoncé. Sorry. She helps on the current side. Still skews super old.

kitshef 7:12 AM  

Very easy.

Three of my first thirteen letters in were ‘U’s, and I thought M&A was in for the puzzle of his life. Alas, the rest of the grid was a wasteland.

So-so puzzle. Can’t stand playground retort clues, and most of the longs are pretty dull. Every puzzle has its share of proper nouns and phrases, but this felt unusually high, perhaps due to some perfectly good words clued as acronyms (SAT STEM DOE) or proper nouns (GENOA).

MANPURSE and RICEARONI are nice(aroni).

Anonymous 7:23 AM  

Alston won four World Series: 55 in Brooklyn, and also three in LA (59, 63, and 65). Lasorda only won 2. Just putting it out there.

Anonymous 7:24 AM  

Agree with @Da Bears. Rating and review seems based on Rex's personal opinion of the constructor, not on the actual puzzle that we're looking at.

I don't see anything particularly current in it. With fill like ALSTON, ERICA, ILOVELA and SADAT, it's firmly rooted in the last century. Not to mention such current references as Christopher Columbus and Renoir,. And ____ U.S.A doesn't belong in any Friday NYT puzzle.

And THESTATES, MANPURSE GENOA, etc. is the opposite of fresh and snappy.

A+ to Paolo for winning the local division at last week's Lollapuzzoola. F to Rex for a review that rewards reputation over reality.

Anonymous 7:26 AM  

Interestingly I put Moshe DAyAn in off one of the A's. Then "confirmed" it with the other A. Slowed down what was an already glacial time for the puzzle. Liked it though.

- Jim C in Maine

NCA President 7:37 AM  

The SW was my downfall...I don't think of GLEANED in those terms (Slowly picked up). I think of it more as sifting, as in picking out specific information from a larger amount of general information. Which, I guess, means it's a slower way to go. But for some reason, even though gleaning takes some time, I don't think of it as slow. All that to say, between thinking that the federal agency was the DOt (or epa, at one point), not knowing if 53A was EluDES or EVADES, not knowing ILOVELA well enough to know the lyrics like that, and a few other equally ambiguous questions, the SW took me nearly as long to fill in as the rest of the puzzle.

Which isn't saying too much because the rest of the puzzle went down fast.

I seem to recall the MANPURSE to be a "murse." I also thought about "manzeer" but it didn't fit.

And "Random Playground Retorts" is quickly becoming my least favorite type of clue next to "Random Roman Numerals" and "Random Directions Between Two Equally Random Cities." "Are not," "are too," "am not," "am so," "are so," there is just too much nope in those. Stop it already.

The "On end, to Donne" clue is the kind of clue found in a Puns and Anagrams puzzle. IMMHO it doesn't belong in a regular puzzle.

If we're using normative grading now and A = superior, B = above average, C = average, D = below average, and F = failing, then I'm going to give this a C. Pretty average...some good and some bad (I'm looking at you "Random Playground Retort). It was a pretty normal Friday. And if Rex is giving A's out to puzzles just because there have been so many bad ones, then our scale of grading is messed up.

I give it a C. Solidly average. C isn't bad....I just wouldn't want my doctor to have graduated from med school with a C, is what I'm saying.

Anonymous 7:37 AM  

The implication that Walter Alston won only one World Series, in Brooklyn in 1955, overlooks the three he won in LA, in 1959, 1963 and 1965 -- what many would call the Koufax Era.

Giovanni P. 7:49 AM  

God, that SW corner took me forever to get. Not because it was obscure stuff, but because I had a large portion of it wrong and couldn't get the right words. BAD EGGS and EVADES and GLEANED just weren't coming to me.

Solidly filled puzzle. Though I may have to start repurposing rants about gaming into crossword rants.

evil doug 7:51 AM  

It was never a "manpurse"....
(A pickpocket runs by, taking Jerry's carryall, while everyone yells in surprise)

Jerry: Hey! Officer! Someone took my European carryall!

Cop: Your what?

Jerry:, leather...thing with a strap.

Cop: You mean a purse?

Jerry: Yes, a purse. I carry a purse!

evil doug 7:55 AM  
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evil doug 7:56 AM  
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TonyR-NYC 8:03 AM  

Usotours for general(Brigadier, Major, 4 Star??) audiences perhaps?

evil doug 8:04 AM  
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kitshef 8:28 AM  

Walter Alston also had a remarkable career as a player. He appeared in only one major league game, playing two innings. He made one error in his two chances, for a fielding percentage of .500. He had one plate appearance, in which he struck out.

For those who don't know TRENT Reznor, you may remember Johnny Cash's version of Reznor's song HURT, released shortly before his (Cash's) death.

RAD2626 8:37 AM  

Pretty much with @NCA President across the board except maybe I liked it better. Top half flew; bottom half much harder. SW very hard to get a foothold except for BIG EATER. Had BARtabS instead of BETS which also messed things up. Thought double stack clue was a terrific plus. Repeat what I said yesterday. IMO this has been the best NYT week in a long time. As an aside, thought yesterday's WSJ puzzle was the hardest they have published. Difficult proper names and obscure clues. Took forever.

On the subject of CASEY, a managerial foe of Walt, does anyone know either where I can find or who authored my favorite xword puzzle ever which has the words of Casey at the Bat around the puzzle in a diamond shape? So clever. I lost my copy. Thanks.

Cleared2Land 8:40 AM  

"Dynast" seems like far too nice a word for Kim Jung-Un. I doubt that the last thought that went through Kim's uncles mind was "Geez, what a dynast that kid turned out to be."

Lewis 8:42 AM  

Solid puzzle, with some enjoyable clever clues (ANAGRAM, TONGS, BIT), and I love the word WRESTED. Nowhere in my brain existed LEONA, TOD, TRENT, or ILOVELA, but the crosses were fair. If you start with the second T in WHATSTHAT, you get a Boggle-style TREAT to surround RICEARONI (the San Francisco treat). There are five double-E's at the puzzle's midriff, and I sure hope those BADEGGS don't meet the BIGEATER, even though they cross. I did notice that I_HATE_LA riffs off "The Lady Is A Tramp".

So a lot going on, with a solve that was mezzo rapid for Friday, with the only big resistance coming in the SW. A very good solid solve, IMO.

GILL I. 8:50 AM  

Neat-o-rific cluing. My favorite part of this easy gender-neutral puzzle. I'm sorta agreeing with @Tony Saratoga's not very contemporary. I think the MAN PURSE is now called a MURSE and if you want to get all LeBron James macho, you'd probably call it a "pochette." Or maybe if you don't want to make any statement, you use a fanny pack with the RICE A RONI logo stamped on it.
I settle all my grievances, woes, joys and gossip over a BARTAB. Getting BETS was the hardest part of the puzzle for me.
Lots of names but all gettable. Easy, quick, fun little romp Paolo Pasco.....

Mr. Benson 8:54 AM  

ALSTON was a gimme for me, as it should be for any casual sports fan. Sorry it's in your blind spot, Rex, but not knowing Walter Alston is kind of like not knowing, say, Don Drysdale or Branch Rickey. Come to think of it, I'm surprised we don't see the name in crosswords more often, given the commonness of the letters.

I actually thought "Rush, e.g." was going to be TRIO (as in the band Rush) and was quite proud of myself for sniffing it out immediately. Alas. Still an easy Friday puzzle overall, though.

Marty Van B 9:04 AM  

Fun grid today. No significant slow downs anywhere. It definitely trended towards easy for me.

I had two erasures of note. MANsieres (because thebro wouldn't fit) in before MANPURSE. Both those episodes are classics. BARtabS in before BARBETS. The actual answer is better, IMO.

The puzzle also nailed me down pop-culturally when I had no problems plopping down TRENT Reznor but had no clue that Beyonce ever had an alter ego. Maybe Sasha Fierce and Chris Gaines could do a Ziggy Stardust tribute tour together sometime.

Anonymous 9:05 AM  

Hand up for TRIO for Rush (46A). Loved having TRENT (Reznor) in there as well (6D). Huge NIN fan here!

Z 9:33 AM  

Rex is being too kind? Seriously? Come on people, get real. Maybe, just maybe, Rex thinks this is a superior Friday puzzle.

Alston was a gimme. And just to pile on with @Anonymous7:23, one of Lasorda's rings half belongs to Sparky Anderson. It was under Sparky that Kirk Gibson matured as a grind it out hitter. Gibby doesn't hit that home run and it would have been the A's sweeping the Dodgers. You're welcome L.A. - now try showing up to a game on time and staying to the end.

LEONA Lewis was a familiar name, although I'd never listened to her. I'm trying to imagine Minnie Riperton doing this song.... As for Nine Inch Nails, I prefer them with a little Bowie added. As @kitshef mentioned, Cash covering Hurt is a famous cover.

@LMS and @Larry Gilstrap - I always thought the "putting 'I' last" convention more a matter of politeness than grammar or communication (which @LG seems to have noted and immediately rectified with a clarification). I do think oral language is inherently less structured and conventional than written language because it has the benefit of tone and body language to help convey meaning. Written language needs to be more prescribed to convey intended meaning. Still, descriptivists always win in the end.

I don't like pronouns at 1A, really anywhere in the puzzle but especially not 1A. That's about my only complaint. I'll do a quick PPP Analysis in a moment, but I disagree with @Tony Saratoga. What we want with PPP is not too much and balance. A puzzle that is all post-2000 is just as bad as a puzzle that is all pre-1980. Beyoncé and LEONA LEWIS are going to be okay for the over 60 crowd because we have ALSTON and SADAT. As for RENOIR, ESSENES, and Chris Columbus, if you don't know a little art, music, religion, and history you're doing the wrong puzzle. Indeed, I think some here would be happy if all PPP was pre-1920.

QuasiMojo 9:34 AM  

Finally a puzzle I could grab onto with tongs, and bite into. It's "Rodgers and Hart" btw, previous commenter. And I too had Dayan before Sadat. Anyone remember that hilarious joke about Moshe Dayan and a parrot? Too risque for this blog... :)

Roo Monster 9:38 AM  

Hey All !
North part was easy, I was going along swimmingly till I hit the South. Ouch. Totally died down there. SW, had epa for DOE(??) which got me GraspED for GLEANED. Had to Goog I LOVE LA, since that answer was never going to surface. Finally got that. But the SE, the ole brain just stopped working. Of course, EPITOME and ESSENES didn't help. Also having TReeS for TRAPS and BARtabS for BARBETS messing me up. And REBIRTH wasn't coming out. So did alot of cheating just to finish. Oof. Can you say DNF? :-)

Still liked it overall. Don't think it's Rex A worthy though. B is my assessment.

Wanted Asshole for Kim Jong-un clue, but didn't fit. Nice misdirect at Superman? clue, had CApEd. AREtOo for ARENOT. Is that even proper English?


Hartley70 9:47 AM  

I had a faster than usual solve and only had two early missteps, Dayan for SADAT and bartabs for BARBETS. Bartabs hung around too long and that area gave me the most trouble.

Rex's "as if anyone just goes through the clues in order" comment made me laugh. I would amend that to "anyone else" because I solve as the mood strikes me and sometimes I switch from grid format to the clue format and solve as much as I can sequentially. That's what I did today and almost completed the puzzle. That's what amounts to "good fun" first thing in the morning here!

I enjoyed this puzzle. The entire week felt on the easy side as someone else has been pointing out each day. Today was no exception but I didn't mind a bit because the freshness and wit were right up my alley. A for you, Paolo!

Laurence Katz 9:49 AM  

My biggest snag was having "man-siere" before "man purse."

Nancy 9:51 AM  

I wanted RiposTe at 40D, but could see it wouldn't work. I think, however, it's a much more apt answer than REBIRTH. And @Phil phil and @Lewis beat me to the punch in pointing out that the lyrics to I LOVE LA are a direct riposte to "The Lady Is a Tramp." I am very familiar with the latter, but not the former.

I struggled in the SE, and having fOrkS instead of TONGS at 51D didn't help. Has anyone ever heard anyone say IT'S GO TIME? I haven't -- and certainly not as a substitute for "Let's do this!"

I thought there was some great cluing here: ANAGRAM; ESTATE TAX; HOURS; CASEY. I struggled to remember MAN PURSE, even when I had MAN. All I could think of was the discussion between Kramer and George's father on what to call the male bra. It was either going to be MANZIERE (which I didn't know how to spell), or THE BRO.

This was a puzzle that I found entertaining and that put up enough resistance to make it consistently interesting.

Anonymous 9:53 AM  

Walter Alston - quiet, classy man. Used to be people like that. doesn't pay well now.

Z 10:02 AM  

PPP Analysis
Pop Culture, Product Names, and other Proper Nouns as a percentage of the puzzle. 33% is the somewhat arbitrary line for excessiveness

24 of 72 for 33%. We'll see if this causes issues for people. So far I see some comments about not knowing certain PPP, but nothing yet to suggest that it caused anyone major solving difficulties.

The List

DYNAST Kim Jong-Un
Seinfeld's MAN PURSE
Yelp! RATE

TRENT Reznor
SASHA Fierce
CASEY At the Bat
Lovely RITA, Meter Maid

Carola 10:16 AM  

A fun puzzle that gets an A from me for distracting me from a miserable cold for some precious minutes. I think (through my cotton-wool-stuffed brain) that my solving experience was similar to others': easy on top, s-l-o in the nether tier, for me the SE. Like others, I had to erase TReeS and BARtabS, also snowY and the thought of DespoT. In the PPP area, I lucked out by knowing (without really knowing a thing about them) TRENT, SASHA, MAN PURSE, ESSENES, ERI?A; only LEONA and ALSTON were new to me. For me, the mirroring of the creaky crossword standards TETRAS and ARE TOO took away a little of the puzzle's sparkle.

Mohair Sam 10:17 AM  

We liked it a lot here. Didn't mind what little 21st century PPP there was 'cause we're talkin' Friday here, and it all filled fairly. As far as @Rex's rating seeming too kind to some - hey, any puzzle that includes STAN LEE's name and only gets an A- from Rex is harshly scored by OFL, IMO.

Threw in GronkED before GLEANED thinking our young constructor would be very today, but no. Someday, someway, I am not going to be fooled by an ANAGRAM clue. Fan of many many sports here, not baseball specific at all, but for some reason I just love the poem "CASEY at the Bat". Pure Americana I guess, I dunno.

@George Barany - Your lobbying worked! I remember ALSTON clued for the muralist a few Saturday's back and you mentioning that it should have been clued for Walter the Dodger manager - Will obviously has your ear.

@LMS - Eat your weight in RICEARONI? Good lord lady! That stuff is hideous. If you've got to gorge yourself with quicky rice GOOP go with Zaterain's. You're down south, show some regional pride.

@Z - Gotta give your Tigers credit for everything, dontcha? (Actually, Sparky is one of my two favorite managers ever)

Fun Friday Paolo - nice mix of young and old - keep 'em coming.

Head Like A Hole 10:36 AM  

ITS GO TIME said no human being ever.

Anonymous 11:00 AM  

I'm with Nancy. Who the hell says ITS_GO_TIME??? More like ITS_TIME_TO_GO

AZPETE 11:07 AM  

By any chance was this sign found in China? Seen similar goofs there. Made me laugh!

AZPETE 11:10 AM  

I see your hair is burnin'
Hills are filled with fire
If they say I never loved you
You know they are a liar
Drivin' down your freeways
Midnight alleys roam
Cops in cars, the topless bars
Never saw a woman
So alone, so alone
So alone, so alone

evil doug 11:10 AM  

Izzy Mandelbaum said it, that's who....

In through the door comes a really old guy. He jogs slowly in, and begins
doing physical jerks as Morty talks to Jerry.

MORTY: Hoh, here he is. This is the man I wanted you to see. Izzy Mandelbaum. He's eighty years old, but strong as an ox. (pointing) Watch this.

Izzy picks up a set of weights and lifts them chest high.

MORTY: See that? You couldn't do that.

JERRY: I could, but I choose not to.

Another old guy, Sid, enters behind the Seinfelds. He walks over to an exercise bike and climbs aboard.

SID: Hey Morty. (nodding toward Jerry) Who's this?

MORTY: This is my son Jerry, from New York. (leaning toward Sid) He thinks he
can lift more than Izzy.

JERRY: (protesting) I..I didn't say that.

SID: (calling over) Hey, Izzy, this kid says he can lift more than you can.

Izzy looks over. He releases his grip on the weights and they drop to the
floor with a clunk.

IZZY: Your kid's pretty funny, Morty. Should be a comedian.

JERRY: (smiles) Actually, I am a comedian.

IZZY: (challenging) Think you're better than me, huh?

MORTY: Izzy used to work out with Charles Atlas in the fifties.

JERRY: (jocular) Eighteen-fifties?

IZZY: Yeah, that's it. It's go time.

evil doug 11:11 AM  
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Jack 11:25 AM  

Any clue for a Seinfeldian gendered accessory immediately calls to mind Jerry Stiller shouting "It's a brassiere for men! A MANSIERRE!" (Or, the bro). I was disappointed when it was the more broadly-known man-purse.

Minor quibble aside, a fine puzzle.

AZPETE 11:29 AM  


Mike Rees 11:35 AM  

Very fun, very fast (for a Friday). Rated easy-easy for me. I had the Y,A and T in place for DYNAST so I cheerfully wrote in "tYrAnT" and that slowed me down a touch. SW was the last to fall, took a little bit to get a toehold in there. I was hesitant writing in BEAST because the Beast and the Antichrist are not the same thing, so boo on that clue. Also, I thought MANPURSE originated on Friends, didn't it?

Either way, fun stuff. Got ALSTON entirely from crosses, so it didn't matter that I didn't know him. RICEARONI was my first answer in, so I'll call that an @Rex near-gimme. Also a writeover for BARtabS before I got that one right. Just enough crunch for me, definitely concur with OFL's letter grade and writeup today.

I find it a little upsetting that it doesn't really matter anymore what the blogger thinks of the puzzle, there's always going to be someone panning him for it. Can't we all just enjoy the breath of fresh air that is a positive review?

Anonymous 11:36 AM  

At first, I had SORBETS in place of BARBETS. I thought it could have worked, and amusing just how close the spellings are.

MattG 11:40 AM  

"As if anyone just goes through the clues in order." That... seems like a pretty weird assumption to make. I think this is another case of Rex confusing his inner circle of intense crossword solvers with the general solving public.

jberg 11:48 AM  

As I write this, the last comment is by @Evil Doug and says it was removed by the author. I'm holding my breath.

Meanwhile, as for the whole pronoun nominative/accusative thing, I cite the authority of the great Huddy Ledbetter--

Me and my wife went all over town,
Couldn't find nobody let us settle down,
It's a bourgeois town...

But @Dr. Bunger was actually the first to point out the bicoastal cold and damp playground comebacks, he (or she, I don't know) just did it more subtly.

I actually started with tyranT at 30A, then got DespoT from WRESTED; it took history to reveal DYNAST. And for whoever objected to that, there's no contradiction between being part of a dynasty and killing off the collateral lines of your family. Unless you are in a place with a really firm tradition of primogeniture, it's just common sense.

jberg 11:50 AM  

Almost forgot -- did anyone else confuse Dodger owner Walter O'Malley with manager Walter ALSTON? It didn't fit, but it blocked the right answer from my mind until I had more crosses.

Chaos344 12:05 PM  

Hmmm? I'm no Rex Parker. I haven't solved in "Dead Tree" for over 15 years and I have no intention of regressing to that mode. Additionally, I never took the time to refine my QWERTY skills, so typing without looking at the keyboard is not an option for me. Ergo, I've resigned myself to the fact that I will never come close to achieving exalted speed solving status ala Rex.

Having said that, I'm pretty sure this is the first time in my long history of doing NYT crosswords, when I correctly solved the Monday through Friday submissions in well under an hour.

Back on Tuesday or Wednesday, someone opined that this might be Will's idea of "Newbie" week? An exercise in simplicity to foster new enthusiasm in the younger generation? One can only hope that person's stated opinion is correct. Over the last five days, I have done many puzzles in other well known publications. At least six of those puzzles were more difficult than the corresponding NYT puzzle of that same day. I sincerely hope that this is an anomaly and not a trend.

The NYT used to be the gold standard for crossword puzzles in terms of quality construction and level of difficulty. This past five days reminds me of the recent controversy surrounding the Common Core curriculum. Shall we hold back (dumb down) the best and the brightest, so as to assure that the slower students can obtain an equal level of mediocrity?

Isn't it bad enough that this blog seems to address the same old tired grievances almost every day? The puzzle skewed too old! The puzzle skewed too new! The puzzle was gender unbalanced! The puzzle wasn't PC enough! The PPP count was too high! On and on Ad nauseam!

IMHO, the Saturday Stumper is now the premier late week puzzle. Unless things change, I believe the WSJ will eventually overtake the NYT in terms of quality puzzles. I also believe that sites/blogs supplying quality offerings like those of BEQ, Matt Gaffney, etc, will continue to grow in popularity.

Just Sayin!

Anonymous 12:07 PM  

I am relatively new to CWs, so please forgive my ignorance - Why does 37-across end with a question mark? Doesn't that denote a play on the word "plate"? And the answer "big eater" is literal. I understand the oft-used "plate" meaning 'your agenda' - is that the reason?

evil doug 12:19 PM  

Everything I post is showing up twice, so I'm self-deleting the echo.

This is in sharp (or shall we say, "Sharp") contrast to a few months back when almost everything I wrote was arbitrarily censored. So I guess this is preferable....

AliasZ 12:19 PM  

I thought this was a rather lukewarm puzzle by Paolo Pasco. There wasn't too much sparkling stuff in it that will make me remember it in 24 hours. Except perhaps the ANAGRAM clue, and MAN PURSE which I always thought was MURSE.

Let's listen to Samuel BARBETS Second Essay for Orchestra.


evil doug 12:20 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Cheerio 12:25 PM  

I loved the smoothness of this puzzle. Thanks! For fun I keep a list of constructors whose puzzles I like. I thought to myself, this constructor should go on my list, his puzzles have a Berry-like smoothness. I went to my list, and his name was already there, with the comment "has Berry like qualities."

Cheerio 12:27 PM  

p.s. My notes also have that Paolo Pasco was born in 2000. Maybe that's why Rex is being kind today, though since I thought the puzzle was great, I wouldn't say he was being kind, just normal.

The5th Harp 12:30 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
worst 12:30 PM  

+1 on descriptivism--and what's not to love about regionalisms?

Nancy 12:31 PM  

@jberg (11:48) -- I chuckled mightily over your "It's just common sense" mot. But if we were both to find ourselves in line one day for the same DYNASTic position, I doubt I would manage even a small smile :)

The5th Harp 12:34 PM  

Was going to make the same point. Of course, he had Koufax and Drysdale

The5th Harp 12:34 PM  

Was going to make the same point. Of course, he had Koufax and Drysdale

The5th Harp 12:35 PM  

Was going to make the same point. Of course, he had Koufax and Drysdale

The5th Harp 12:35 PM  

Was going to make the same point. Of course, he had Koufax and Drysdale

The5th Harp 12:35 PM  

Was going to make the same point. Of course, he had Koufax and Drysdale

worst 12:42 PM  

I read through the across clues and then the down clues filling in the gimmes. Then I go back through starting across and cross-reference for the rest of the puzzle. No idea what people normally do! (I save clue format for rooting out errors at the end.)

Joe Bleaux 12:50 PM  

You are correct, sir! (And Seinfeld was brought to my mind again at 61A, "IT'S GO TIME" -- Lloyd Bridges as the super-fit geezer ... remember?)

Joe Bleaux 12:55 PM  

You are correct AND thorough, sir!😉

Joe Bleaux 12:58 PM  

You are redundant, sir! But that's OK, OK?

G.Harris 1:08 PM  

I too had mansiere and bar tabs which prevented me from getting tongs. I didn't know Stan Lee. Otherwise got it all. Had to get help from Rex to finish.

Numinous 1:13 PM  

This was a PPP googlefest for me I am sorry to say. TRENT, ERICA, RENOIR. I have no idea about the Museé d'Orsay and what's in it and I couldnt' get "The Lady is a Tramp" out of my head. Then I couldn't remember if she "Hates California" or "Hates San Francisco". Oh well. I guess this is an appropriate departure from "Newbie week".

In any case, I'm rather distracted today. After nearly a year of effort on her part, My step-daughter was sworn in to the U. S. Navy and will be commencing Officer Candidate School as a Surface Warship Officer (SWO) on Sept. 11th in Rhode Island. She was accepted by the Board a couple months ago but has been waiting in limbo for a "ship-out" date. At last, it's come. I know she will be a great officer, she has been managing people since she was in high school. My wife and I are very proud (should I have said "Me and my wife"?). In four months or so, she will be learning how to "drive" a destroyer. After two tours, she'll be able to decide is she wants to transfer laterally to Intelligence which is a somewhat closer match for her two university degrees, Criminal Justice and Sociology. Secretly, I think she's going to love "driving" a ship.

(Sorry, this is the only place I have to brag about my 23 year old child.)

Teedmn 1:18 PM  

New Friday record, time-wise. Even the WOEs of LEONA and ALSTON in the NE didn't hold me up all that much (thanks STAN LEE AND RENOIR(S)!). Though if 32A had been the MANsiere, I would have been stymied - I didn't watch Seinfeld back in the day.

Wrong playground comeback, AREtOo, thinking back to the Star Wars character. epa before DOE. "srha" before DONA even though there was no abbrev. indicator in the clue. Otherwise there was nothing to GOOP (when IT'S GO TIME in "black ops", do they say "GO OP"?) up my solution today.

It's fun to see Paolo's name on the crossword just a week after he took first place in the Lollapuzzoola Local category - congrats!

mathgent 1:20 PM  

@MattG (11:40) finds Rex's assumption that no one goes through the clues in order to be weird. (Is this the genius Matt Gaffney?)

I always go through the clues in order to fill in the gimmes and to look for a clue that reveals a theme.

If I come to the last clue and only have two or three gimmes filled in, I know that I'm in for a struggle.

Michelle Turner 1:22 PM  

Awesome version of that song!!

Michelle Turner 1:29 PM  

I remember. One of my faves when I was a kid. Made me feel all grown up.

Hartley70 1:39 PM  

@Numinous, you go right ahead and brag your heart out! That's a wonderful accomplishment for her and she'll love spending her off time in Newport. It'll be gorgeous on the water in Narragansett Bay in September.

Chip Hilton 1:41 PM  

3 Down clue: Was ON the cast of? I realize you can't use IN since it's part of the answer, but still found that misleading. I kept wondering if it had to do with a cast album.

For 1955 alone, Walter ALSTON deserves to be on Dodger Rushmore.

evil doug 1:45 PM  

God bless her and I'm grateful for her willingness to serve.

evil doug 1:46 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sheryl 1:58 PM  

I finished it, and since I so rarely finish Friday puzzles, I am happy. Fun puzzle.

Chaos344 2:23 PM  


My hearty congratulations to and your wife regarding your daughter's official entrance into the United States Navy. I'm sure you are both very proud. As a retired submariner, I have a profound respect and admiration for "deep water" sailors.

Having said that, and with no disrespect intended toward your daughter, she will never truly "Drive" a destroyer. The actual "hands on" operations of all shipboard functions are invariably performed by enlisted personnel. More importantly, your daughter will be learning the proper procedures and maritime knowledge necessary to give the correct orders to the helmsman regarding course, propulsion speed,(bells),etc. On a submarine, that would include depth control. Except for perhaps a brief period during training, your daughter will never actually man the positions or touch the controls that actually make the ship turn, increase or decrease speed, etc.

Based on what you stated regarding your daughter's education, it sounds like she is better suited to become a "spook." Two tours, (eight years) is a long time to waste ship board if she believes counter intelligence could be her forte! America is currently undergoing a dearth of quality technicians in the intelligence field, as well as a lack of human assets in covert ops.

If you're really interested in a fantastic story of declassified Naval intelligence gathering, I suggest you read Blind Man's Bluff by Sherry Sontag. Google that. It will blow you away!

GILL I. 2:41 PM  

@Numinous...Wow - and only 23. What a wonderful and valiant career choice. Of course you're proud and I'm glad you shared it here.

okanaganer 2:47 PM  

Re "THE STATES"... maybe it's not so much in the language down there, but here in Canada it most definitely is.

"The last time I was in the States..."

"Where's she from?"..."The States."

Tom 2:47 PM  

Late to the party again 'cause I solve in the morning after watching the Left Coast news. Slowed at BARtabS and BADdieS, and had GOrP for a while. It's kinda sticky, isn't it? Wanted the MAN bra thingie until I got STANLEE (Stanley?) and RENOIRS off the last letters of Walter's name.

Who does things like quote dialogue from an old sitcom? Do people who do that have a life? Blame Google for the ability to find stuff like that. Oh, that was @evil doug. Any connection to the BEAST?

BTW, if you have to Google to finish isn't that a DNF? I never Google, despite the fact that my daughter-in-law works for them in Mountain View

Gene 2:50 PM  

Sometimes, being an OLD baseball fan helps; ALSTON was a gimme.

Teedmn 2:56 PM  

Oh yeah, TRENT was a gimme; sometimes in mid-winter I will walk out into our garage to find my husband listening to his Nine Inch Nails CD while keeping warm with our Reznor brand garage heater (Wikipedia states that TRENT is a descendant of the founder though the company is no longer owned by the family.)

Mohair Sam 2:58 PM  

@Numinous - Brag your ass off without apology - you are rightfully very proud. Congrats to her and to you and your wife.

Numinous 2:59 PM  

Thank you all for your kind words of support. They are deeply appreciated.

@Chaos 344
I have to chuckle a bit here, of course I know that as an officer she will only be giving orders to enlisted personnel. I used "drive" in quotation marks for that reason. That was what she was told, possibly with a smirk, by her recruiting officer. Also, as per him, he was referring to two periods of sea duty when he said tours (possibly separate ship assignments). I also believe she'll have a ball actually doing something as opposed to sitting still analyzing. She's always been a hyperactive person. Though she does have an analytical mind, she thinks better on her feet.

Nancy 4:37 PM  

@Numinous -- Didn't see your 1:13 p.m. post until just now, but let me belatedly add my voice to the chorus of cheers for your obviously talented and very self-motivated daughter. I'm sure she has a distinguished career ahead of her and that her work will prove to be of great value to the country. As everyone else here as said: Be proud. Be very, very proud!

Alison 4:43 PM  

I must be in rare demographic that knows Walter Alston, Erica Kane, Sasha Fierce and Lovely Rita. Puzzle played way, way too easy for satisfying Friday solving experience. Donne clue was my only big smile.

Tita A 5:48 PM  

So late, even though the minute I got 54A, I knew I needed to stop in here.

A sure way to get on my mother's good side is to write her a good-old-fashioned letter, AND, address it to "Exma. Sra. D. Maria Cristina Bettencourt Pery de Lind Freire de Andrade".

The D, of course, stands for DONA.

Whatever you do, don't call her *just* a DONA, or *just* a Senhora.

I readily admit that I am wildly glad and relieved that a consequence of growing up in THESTATES is that I did not develop the sixth sense of knowing the proper form of address to use based on your own station and that of the person with whom you're speaking. It's way more complicated than only worrying about the formal and familiar verb tenses to. It includes the title.

As a kid I got a chuckle out of Sr. Dotor, which I translated as Mr. Doctor - an honorific used for anyone with an advanced degree.

Puzzle? Easy! NE tough, but still finished before falling asleep.
Liked it fine.

Z 6:00 PM  

@Numinous - Congrats. It ain't bragging when it's true.

@Mohair Sam - Me a 'homer?' Guilty. Although that was more about Sparky and Gibby than about either being a Tiger. Sparky put the pressure on Gibby by declaring him the next Mickey Mantle. Gibby never quite made it to that height, but he has two memorable World Series home runs and has two World Series Championships to his credit. And if you're going to hit memorable home runs, you might as well do it right and hit them against Goose Gossage and Dennis Eckersley. Gibby himself gives Sparky lots of credit for the kind of player he was and how he went about the game.

@Chaos344 - I bet we agree on Common Core, although for very different reasons. It's one of those ideas that sounds wonderful in the abstract (there is a common base of knowledge that schools should guarantee all students master) but is impossible to operationalize in any meaningful way. To imagine that there is a common set of knowledge for the variety that is THE STATES is hubris writ large. Heck, within 50 miles of my front door I have metro area that is one of the top 10 economic engines of the country, communities with large numbers of immigrants, wealth enclaves, farm communities, a major university, a major urban university, and just about everything in between. A common core of knowledge for just that 50 mile radius is a pipe dream. Of course, I also love the irony of this conservative love child becoming a right-wing punching bag. A typical example of the Republican Party not taking "yes" for an answer and further evidence that the right wing of the Democratic Party has better Republicans than the GOP.

Düdie 6:38 PM  

I'm a Monday-Wednesdayer so I can't do Thursday+ without cheating. Given that, at the end I usually find something interesting but not today.

Barbara Weinstein 6:44 PM  

So sorry, Rex, but you are not the only one on the planet--I had epigone before epitome (though I did quickly realize my error).

allan 10:24 PM  

@rex Here in NJ, I just turned on the Yankees game. They're playing the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. They showed Mike Scioscia, who is in his 17th season with the Angels. Just think: Some day in the future someone blogging the NYT puzzle might make the exact same comments about Scioscia as you made today about Alston. Eerily similar managerial careers.

Leapfinger 11:10 PM  

@Martin Abresch, I don't know why ESSENES merits not only a 'high cost' and also italics to boot. Granted that I now live in the Bible Belt, but that was a familiar word to me long before I moved here. As for EPITOME, I have (at least) one stack of books decorating my abode, and I view the top book in the stack as the EPI-TOME, so I enjoyed the entry for that reason I's hazard the guess that you weren't very WRESTED when you wrote that, though I'll admit I didn't find it completely aWRESTing and do agree with you about the private/general USO TOUR thingy.
You really didn't appreciate REBIRTH right next to DEMISE?
How about STIRFRY next to OIL crossing RENOIR?
The potential for crossing HOURS with OURS?
The hauteur of HOTAIR?
(otoh) Iamb almost SURE there's no rhyme or reason to set TRAPS for POETs' feet

DYNAST made me think Paolo HAD___IT in for cartoonist Thomas NAST; DYNASTY (otoh) would be a horse of different fire-department...

Agree with @Rex that the 1A/D is critical, and even though it was easy, WHATS_THAT is one way of getting you from the starting WHATS_WHAT to the final THATS_THAT

Thought it would've made a souper Wednesday.

My 'pologies. GLEAN on me if it's obvious I haven't read all the comments yet; THAT's next.


Mickey C 11:27 PM  

Huh? How many World Series have the Angels won under Scioscia?

Leapfinger 12:17 AM  

Wondered for a moment whether SASHA Fierce ever got together with Carlos Danger.

@Ellen S, I have a story about Nine Inch Nails but it's somewhat disgusting.

@Gill, if you don't think a fannypack with a RICEARONI logo makes a statement, I have a BARTAB I'd like to share with you. (teehee)

@Mr Benson, I always conflate Rush (the band) with Tusk (the band).

@The Fifth Harp 'harped' on the same point -- five times. (teehee)

@Tita, interesting variant on Betancourt, and love the 'Andradje' name.

@Numi, Outstanding!... @Chaos' provisos notwithstanding. The missus and you can be proud as Punch. ADMIRAbLe.

spacecraft 11:07 AM  

I guess I will never understand OFL. Wait...why am I trying?? This guy must be, like, his son, because today's puzzle waves at A- as at a plane from the ground. The adjective that hit me was: dumb.

The first two across in the NW: cold gimmes on a Friday? And then I see 3-down. Not just an AP but a SUPER-awkward partial (test: if you have to write a SUPER-awkward clue for it, you have a SAP). More than dumb! I've seen this before; please don't let me see it again.

And the dumbness continues with the infamous Playground Retort: all such entries are mind-dullingly dumb. AMNOT! ISSO! ARETOO! (that's what I wrote at first, causing a w/o; must have been thinking of my droid friend from the other day) This is the crap that we need to get rid of. HADATIT doesn't exactly scintillate, either. Hey, I guess they HADAT SADAT in that war. ESSENES along the right column looks very crutchy.

The most trouble I had was with the "comeback," where Riposte held me up. More wasted ink, but at least here, the clue tried to be Friday-ish. Elsewhere it was too easy for the day. The other interesting clue is "Burn" for DIS. Two DOD candidates intersect; I give the nod to SASHA as clued: i.e. Beyonce. Ooh, yeah. Letter grade? Well, there are some high points here, maybe a C-. SHED the GOOP, and it could improve. With golf season coming to an end, and the score sort of in between bogey and par, We'll shift over to football. Two yards, second and eight. Not really what you want.

Burma Shave 11:55 AM  


The BIGEATER made a STIRFRY with OIL and BADEGGS in it,
it ACTEDIN a bad way, and for HOURS ITSGOTIME every minute.


rondo 3:16 PM  

WHATSTHAT A minus doing there? This puz was OK but not SUPERior. I made it a bit tougher than it should have been down south with REBound as a comeback instead of REBIRTH. No prob otherwise.

Nobody mentioning REED and DEER crossing (no, not DEER XING)? Not only an ANAGRAM but totally reversed. Something like that would fit in nicely in the Harper’s puz which I cranked out in a coupla HOURS earlier this week.

There is a bistro in Mpls called Barbette, but it’s probably not the kind of place to place ONES BARBETS.

Two yeah baby singers in LEONA Lewis and then SASHA Fierce, as done by Beyonce, whom a local sportswriter calls Bouncy, which is accurate enough.

Enough of my HOTAIR, I wouldn’t RATE this puz as high as OFL did.

Diana,LIW 3:42 PM  


Because of my persistent slowness I didn't notice the nits many have pointed out, but instead was truly happy every time I got a bit more headway.

But then, the Midwest did me in. Have the ever popular ELUDES for EVADES, know ILOVELA but couldn't remember the exact name, and wanted something punnier for BIGEATER. Considered caver and cager before CASEY.

Two little changes and I finished it off by myself. So OF COURSE others think it was easy.

OTOH, I'm glad I still have fun times with puzzles like this one.

Here comes the weekend - enjoy!

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

leftcoastTAM 4:12 PM  

Lots of good acrosses and downs in the four spacious corners. Moving right along, pleased at getting John Donne's "on end" ANAGRAM, which opened up the often resistant NW.

Then trying to finish it off in the lower middle, got BARBETS/DEMISE cross, again feeling pretty good about closing in on what appeared to be a relatively easy Friday solve.

But no-o-o. Stymied by the shorthand IMO and the biting TONGS, wildly guessed at IMa/TaNGS. (No excuse for IMa, but tangs have a little bite, don't they?).

An otherwise good day spoiled.

wcutler 5:25 PM  

I'm with Sheryl. I finished it. Correctly. I'm just posting this for evidence that I can sometimes do a Friday, and that when I can't even get half of a Thursday, as was the case last week,, or when I was two words off (plus one incorrect) yesterday, it's not because I'm totally hopeless at these things.

So my finishing the puzzle defines it as easy for a Friday, but actually, the only answer I could fill right in was IMO, and that didn't help with any of the downs that crossed it. I had to work at figuring out everything, was surprised that it worked.

Count me as a Canadian who says "the states" all the time.

rain forest 5:52 PM  

For me, easy except for the SE where BARtabS held me up for way too long. As a result, REBIRTH was my last entry. Some nice clues (for: HOURS, TIX, POETS, ANAGRAM, HISTORY, and maybe others), and a certain smoothness throughout kept up my interest (or kept my interest up, @leftcoastTAM). I liked it a lot, despite those things that raise @Spacey's ire.

I'm sure that OFL would know Casey Stengel, and so Walter Alston should have been right there.

sdcheezhd 6:58 PM  

ALSTON was a gimme, which was good since I had no idea on LEONA Lewis, but had CAREW as the batman off the CA.

Sailor 6:59 PM  

Just finished reading Mr. Pasco's "Constructor's Note" at Wordplay. This puzzle is apparently an early effort. I must say that I admire both his obvious talent and his ability to critique his own work in public.

I agree with the constructor's own assessment that this puzzle lacks sparkle. I also found the clues surprisingly uneven. Some were very good (33D: "people thinking on their feet"), some were just plain wrong (I completely agree with @NCA Prez that "slowly picked up" is not the meaning of GLEANED; nor is "sticky" the defining characteristic of GOOP), and some tried so hard to be cute that they missed the mark entirely (the USO's mission is to bolster morale in the ranks, not to entertain generals).

Young Mr. Pasco is obviously a talent to be reckoned with. I look forward to seeing more of his work, and I wish him all the best. Having a Friday puzzle published in the NYT is quite an accomplishment for a young constructor. Rex's grade, however, was over the top. I agree with those who rank this puzzle as C level work.

leftcoastTAM 10:01 PM  


I agree with your comments about the puzzle except the one about "sticky" not being the "defining" characteristic of GOOP. Defining? 1)How do you define "defining"? 2)Where did you get your definition?
3)Why does "sticky" not qualify as one of the definitions?

Now you have me thinking about the meaning of GLEANED as well.... My trusty Merriam-Webster says one of the definitions is "[having gathered] information or material bit by bit"....Also, check out the definitions of "sticky", and you might change your mind about that, too.

Puzzles can be reasonably flexible or elastic.

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