1999 prequel that grossed over billion dollars familiarly / FRI 10-20-17 / Symbol for member of Anonymous / Arabic name that sounds like reply of agreement / Frequent locale in comic strip Andy Capp / Big name in digital security

Friday, October 20, 2017

Constructor: Peter Wentz

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: none 

Word of the Day: HODA KOTB (56A: "Today" co-host beginning in 2007) —
Hoda Kotb (/ˈhdə ˈkɒtb/ HOH-də KOT-bee; Arabic: هدى قطب‎‎ Hudā Quṭb Egyptian Arabic pronunciation: [ˈhodæ ˈʔotˤb], born August 9, 1964) is an American television news anchor and TV host known as the co-host of NBC's Today Show's fourth hour with Kathie Lee Gifford. An Egyptian American, she won a Daytime Emmy Award in 2010 as part of the Today Show team. Kotb is also a correspondent for Dateline NBC. (wikipedia)
• • •

Pretty nice work. I have a few ... issues (see below ... and every day, I guess) but overall it was satisfying: wide-ranging, currentish, and amply tough. That SE corner in particular really made me work. I am very aware of who HODA is, but I know her only as ... HODA. "HODA & Kathie Lee..." That last name ... I don't even know how to pronounce it. Now that I look at it, I've definitely seen it before, but I'm all of a sudden very aware of how I *know* the last names of the all the other one-named talk-show celebrities (I think), but have never even heard hers said out loud. Why don't people say her name? Have they been saying it all along and I've just been mishearing it as something else? Say her name! Anyway, she is famous and I am not sufficiently attuned to daytime television, so the KOTB part took Work. That corner had a lot of names, including a non-specifically-clued YASIR (49A: Arabic name that sounds like a reply of agreement)  (I considered YEMEN .... like "yeah, man"? ...) and our good old friend LAO-TSE, who somehow remained completely inscrutable to me until the very last cross (which was the "T" in KOTB). I also misread "service" as "device" in 42D: Digital storage service (iCLOUD), so that was semi-baffling. Oh, and lastly, I confused my Bucks and went with OWENS over O'NEIL at first (41A: Buck ___, first African-American coach in Major League Baseball). Good thing LOU Gramm was a gimme. That is one name-y corner!

  • 15A: 1999 prequel that grossed over a billion dollars, familiarly (EPISODE I) — yeeeeesh no. I mean, OK, in some contexts, sure, but no. "Familiarly" would be "PHANTOM MENACE." So weird to put forth this answer as the actual title, even "familiarly." Or maybe there's some Latin-speaking "Star Wars" subculture and this answer is EPISO DEI, i.e. the ... something ... of God.
  • 3D: Chucklehead (DIMWIT) — ah, the super-dated slang clue. Fittingly, I had NITWIT.
  • 40D: ___ ape (gibbon) (LESSER) — I thought this was going to be someone's name. Like, maybe someone named LEVIN discovered the ape and it's now known as a LEVIN'S APE. Something like that.
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Austenlover 12:34 AM  

I have been reading this blog for a number of years, but never felt so desirous of commenting that I went to the trouble of figuring out how to do so. However, the discussion of boiling eggs made me want to join in. About a year ago, I learned the trick and have had no trouble peeling eggs ever since.

Start them in boiling water. Bring the water to a full boil, put the eggs in using a slotted spoon, and cook for about 12 minutes. They come out perfect every time.

I did enjoy the puzzle.

tkincher 12:56 AM  

I had no issue with "EPISODE I", as it was the obvious fit when "Phantom Menace" didn't fit.

I fairly flew through this one, but I really enjoyed it. I wanted Buck Owens, as well, but the lyric from "Lookin' Out My Back Door" stuck in my head and reminded me-- "listenin' to Buck Owens"-- that he was a musician, and not an athlete.

A lot of the rest of it was up my alley, and nicely contemporary. Forgot what a lintel was for a bit. I always want TASSELS to be "tassles" for some reason. Oh, and had GReY for GRAY, initially. Smooth sailing, otherwise.

I guess if I had one complaint, I'm a bit tired of the "playground retorts": am not; am too; are so; are not; does too; does so; does not; ad infinitum. I get why they're there, I just feel like we see them an awful lot. Great puzzle, though!

Brett 12:59 AM  


wtf did I just read

Trombone Tom 1:09 AM  

It's readily apparent that I don't watch much TV because I worked my way steadily around the puzzle and then ended up staring at HODAKOTB with no clue at all as to whether this was an ancient Egyptian ruler or some new programming language. I eventually googled it and discovered it was the name of a real live co-host of a TV program. Well, live and learn!

The best thing this evening was the unbelievable ending of the Raiders-Chiefs game!

Larry Gilstrap 1:46 AM  

Has anyone ever seen Buck Owens and Buck ONEIL in the same room? TV on in the daytime makes me sad, so HODA I had heard, but KOTB sounds like a radio station west of the Mississippi. As a result, the SE fell very slowly.

I must have been absent the day they taught the distinction between GRAY and grey. It throws me every time. Nobody ever told me that Anonymous was personified by the GUY FAWKES MASK. Live and learn. Oh, and MAXES, if you say so. Puzzle tip: if Trig is in the clue, look for SINE in the grid. I always felt sorry for Math teachers.

Now to something I know about. AHAB has an ungodly motive: revenge on a not so dumb animal. He is godlike because he has control over the fate of every man on the Pequod. Starbuck is the only one who recognizes that.

I spent many days on the beaches of Southern California and learned to BODY SURF and reveled in the power of the ocean. I only almost broke my neck once. I still shudder about that moment.

I follow baseball objectively, for the most part. I have liked all the teams in the post season. Admittedly I grew up in LA, so if Kike decides to hit three TATERS and knock in 7 RBI, I'm on board. May the best team win.

jae 2:01 AM  

Medium for me too. I had lOp before MOW for much too long.

I knew watching HODA and Kathy Lee would pay off eventually (today was Thirstday Thursday which comes after Winesday Wednesday).

Lots of sparkle, liked it a bunch and so did Jeff.

Greg Charles 2:15 AM  

Freaking hodakotb! It takes away the commonsense angle of crossword solving. The next time I see an impossible garble, instead of reaching immediately for the eraser, I'll have to stop and think, "Well, maybe."

@Jae, yes it paid off today, but at what cost, man?

chefwen 2:42 AM  

@Brett - You are two days late for the great hard boiled egg debate.

@Larry G. Tried body surfing once and ended up with sand in places where it did not belong. After that I kept to cement bottomed ponds. Lesson learned.

Never watch TODAY but remembered the name HODA KOTB because it’s so unusual. Like Rex, still don’t know how to pronounce it.

Mr. Sports Authority helped me out with SOONER and BYE WEEK.

jae 4:20 AM  

@Chefwen - It's COT (like the military bed) BEE (like the pollinator).

@Greg Charles - Mindless day time TV (which I listen to on ear phones while doing household stuff) beats listening to the news networks which can be stress inducing. The cost ... lower blood pressure. HGTV also works.

Big Jim Slade 4:57 AM  

When I go visit my mom she has HODA and Kathie Lee on in the morning while she does her thing around the house. I gotta admit, those two blowsy broads are pretty entertaining, and I think they really are hammered on the air. I mean they don't even hide the wine glasses and I don't think it's entirely an act. I'll bet the only reason they don't smoke cigarettes on air is that the building's fire code prohibits it, that's all that's stopping them.

Remember when people used to smoke on talk shows? Jackie Gleason could smoke an entire pack of cigarettes during a single interview with Merv Griffin, and that is a lot of smoking. Johnny Carson even had a fancy cigarette box on his desk that Don Rickles broke and boy was Johnny steamed! I can't imagine Jimmy Fallon smoking a cigarette without hurting himself but then I can't imagine Jimmy Fallon doing anything because I never watch him. The only good talk show host lately was the Scottish guy with the robot but they sent him to The Price Is Right so I won't ever see him again.

I once had a friend who was in The Price Is Right audience and she said that Bob Barker was very tanned but did not say hello to her so I guess he is a bit standoffish, although one of his models claimed he wasn't standoffish enough for her liking and that they had an affair and then he done her wrong, but we may never know the truth about that particular matter because they are all dead now. I think they're all dead; can someone check on that?

Rex I do believe you are the first person to ever get Buck Owens and Buck O'Neal confused with each other, but then I would always get James Franciscus confused with Tony Franciosa so I can't look down on you for that. Speaking of Italians, we have BADABING which is what you say when you shoot a mobster in the face at dinner. Question: if Michael Corleone was a war hero why did they have to teach him how to shoot a gun? Think about that and get back to me.

Lot's of other foreigners today with YASIR and LAOTSE and KOI and PARIS (chock full of foreigners!) and WIKIS (I think that's a tribe) and several others I'm sure. If you ever say that you hate stinking foreigners and someone gives you a disapproving look just say "but I meant I hate LOU Gramm the poodle-haired singer of the rock band Foreigner!" and everyone will nod and smile and go on about their business. Works every time.

Sound Advice: Never ever tell an angry woman what she is about to say. Nothing good can come from this.

Gotta' run now. Ciao!

Thomaso808 5:04 AM  

@Brett, two days ago you would have thought this was the food channel blog -- who knew what interest there was in egg peeling?

HODAKOTB was a total WOE for me. I filled in RUBES thinking I would have to run the alphabet somewhere, but lo and behold, I was done!

EPISODEI was fine with me, that's what I call it "familiarly" instead of, what is it, oh yeah "Phantom Menace".

Good puzzle, appreciate the long fill. Early in my career I worked with an older engineer who frequently, jokingly told me he had a ONETRACK mind, and it "was a dirt track".

Non-political comment: during the 2008 election, Obama took his family for a vacation in Oahu. One day he went to go BODYSURF at Sandy Beach, a popular but somewhat perilous surfing location. The Secret Service asked the local lifeguards to swim with him because he was a leading candidate. Lifeguards don't usually swim with people, but instead are trained to respond to problems. After taking a couple of swells, the lifeguards came out and told the Secret Service not to worry, that Obama knew what he was doing. His picture surfing was on the front page the next day. After he was president, he didn't do any more body surfing and stuck to golf and basketball, mostly non-lethal activities.

Conrad 5:13 AM  

@Big Jim -- Perhaps it's because war heros shoot rifles and mafiosi shoot pistols?

mathgent 5:23 AM  

I print up the puzzle and do it on paper. The clue for 17A in the printout reads "Iran-contra business." I presume that the newspaper version will capitalize "Contra." But it did confuse me until I had enough letters from the downs to see that it was a typo.

I can't recall ever hearing HAVEAGAS. Sinatra popularized saying that something "was a gas," meaning very cool. And of course I've heard the expression "I had a ball." But not "I had a gas."

Baseballer Buck ONEIL was in a previous puzzle. So I resisted entering "Owens," which immediately came into my head.

I liked the puzzle a lot. The only sour notes were HAVEAGAS and DOESSO which were strongly counterbalanced by a lot of neat stuff. BADABING (which immediately triggers images of pole dancers), ARCSINE, GUYFAWKESMASK (which led me to learn what the group Anonymous is), that OSCAR is in the NATO alphabet, SWANKY (not "slinky"), LAOTSE, the quote from Moby Dick.

Another plus was that there were only eight Terrible Threes in the grid.

Doing the puzzle was like having a conversation with Peter Wentz. I could feel his personality coming through. A very impressive personality.

Anonymous 5:33 AM  

The NYT needs to put more women in their puzzles, after first checking with Mike Sharp to see if he's heard of them.

Hungry Mother 6:24 AM  

Faster than usual, but putting that B in place hurt when I looked at the across entry. I think proper names should be excluded from crossword puzzles and left to trivia games. Just saying.

Jason Webster 6:53 AM  

It's definitely EPISODE I, (and II and III), but curiously never IV, V, and VI. I think it might be some type of unconscious signalling towards the inferiority of the trilogy - they're not worthy of even being known by name.

kitshef 7:15 AM  

Pretty easy overall, right up to the point of … HOTA KOTB?!?!? Stared at that second T for a minute or two, disbelieving that it could possibly not be LAO TSE, but equally disbelieving HOTAKOTB could be a person’s name. In the end, I plopped it in anyway, expecting a DNF. Imagine my surprise.

Speaking of enormous garbage mounds: EPISODE I (both as a movie and clued that way)

Two Ponies 7:20 AM  

Is Big Jim Slade actually Don from Accounting?

Those masks creep me out.

Robert A. Simon 7:31 AM  

Chanukah (the "holiday" in the clue) MENORAHS are hardly "decorations." Even many of you goyim know, the story of Chanukah is that the eternal light in the Holy Temple in Jerusalem had only enough oil to keep going for one day. (Allowing the eternal light to extinguish is considered a major sin in the Jewish religion, much like ordering a pastrami on white.) Anyway, a messenger was dispatched to get more oil, but the nearest supply was four days out and four days back. Miraculously, the oil in the light lasted the full eight days. That's why Chanukah is called The Festival of Lights, and why only the Chanukah menorah has eight branches. All other menorahs used in temples year-round have six branches. In the book of Exodus, God even describes in minute detail how to construct a menorah and He said six branches, which is good enough authority for me.

So yeah, a "decoration" it ain't.

QuasiMojo 7:35 AM  

I'm sorry but that video you posted, Rex, does not pass the breakfast test. And people watch this horror show? Plus I had no idea Kathie Lee was still on the air. Geesh indeed. It all gives me GAS and the HEAVES.

Okay puzzle with a lot of bite but perhaps too much pop -- I can't even begin to care about Lucas and his "prequels" -- but a billion is a billion, so who cares what I think?

Was thinking OUT HOUSE before ALE, and am pretty sure it was an ARMS TRADE not a DEAL since it was secret, hence the scandal.

I loved ARCANA, BADABING and STRUM, but UNDER EAT was a stretch.


Sioban 7:41 AM  

@ Robert Simon,

Decoration can't be too offensive if you can compare it to a sandwich.

Anonymous 7:43 AM  

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Glimmerglass 7:49 AM  

Great Friday. Stuff from lots of different areas of expertise. I’d heard HODA’s last name often, when she did morning news. But I couldn’t begin to spell it. I finally left the B, but I worried that a yokel, a hick, a country person is not always “easily fooled.” Sometimes, it’s the city slicker who is easily fooled.

Vincent Lima 7:54 AM  

Until I saw the final line of your comment, Austenlover @12:34 AM, I thought you had figured out how to comment on the wrong blog.

G. Weissman 8:22 AM  

If only this was a one-time mistaken post from Austenlover.

G. Weissman 8:23 AM  

I’m sorry ... what were you saying?

AlexP 8:24 AM  

Not terribly sports minded, so I was stuck on SOONER at 21D. Had no idea that was actually the name of a team!

Sir Hillary 8:26 AM  

Dammit, @Two Ponies beat me to the punch on the Big Jim Slade / Don from Accounting thing. I need to get here earlier.

@Larry -- Orange County boy here. I too spent many summer days BODYSURFing the local beaches. Almost always it was Newport, but I never had the balls to try it at the Wedge -- too many scary broken neck stories.

@Robert Simon -- The first time I went to a Jewish deli was in Whitestone, Queens in 1986 with my Jewish then-girlfriend, now-wife of 28 years. Being a WASP from Orange County, I asked for pastrami on wheat with mayonnaise. The look I got from the counterman remains to this day the scariest I have ever received in any setting. And you're right, a MENORAH is not really a decoration.

As to the puzzle, what's not to like? Solid entries all around, and virtually no short junk (ERS and IDED excepted). Great clues for SCABS and FAIRSEX, the latter artfully done to make sure no one takes offense at the entry, which we all know happens a lot.

Never heard of twerps referred to as SNIPS. Could have been clued as "Cuts" to pair with MOW right above it.

Good stuff, which Pete Wentz always delivers.

evil doug 8:31 AM  

Speaking of HAVE A GAS, I used to DO ESSO.

I body surfed at Sandy Beach in the 70s, but I think they've outlawed it. Surprised they let O risk it.

Birchbark 9:04 AM  

The southeast was a true brain teaser. I didn't know that a word could end in TB. But all of the crosses had to be what they were. It was a relief to hear the Congratulations music after closing my eyes and hitting B.

@Larry, one could debate whether Ahab controls everyone on the Pequod or whether Starbuck is the only one who gets that. Fedallah comes to mind, maybe Pip after he falls into the ocean. The promise of the doubloon motivates the crew to pursue the whale as much or more than anything Ahab says. Though he loudly announces his will to find and kill Moby Dick, I don't think Ahab is in control of much at the end of the day. This contradiction makes him interesting.

Anonymous 9:10 AM  

Boiling eggs -- after you take them out of the boiling water, put them in ice water for a couple of minutes and the shells will come off much more easily.

HumptyDumpty 9:15 AM  

But I like my hard-boiled eggs still hot. That's the crux of the matter.

Nancy 9:19 AM  

After struggling with all the names and other things I didn't know, I finally wrote in the last letter, and stared incredulously at what I had just wrought: HODAKOTB. (Google's not accepting this, btw.) And I thought: This is not possible. But evidently it is. You have to understand that I've never seen even 5 minutes of "Today", because I'm 1) not up that early and 2) when I am up that early, it's never from choice and I'm grumpy and tired and I don't want to hear the sound of the human voice. (Well, maybe from George Clooney, but certainly not from someone named HODAKOTB on a television set.) And this was after taking wild guesses to come up with ONEAL (41A), OSCAR (46A) and LAO TSE (48D) who sounds like a very wise and enlightened GUY. Anyway, how can there be anyone named HODAKOTB? That's a really nasty letter combo, Peter.

It was the SE that almost done me in, but I had trouble elsewhere too, thanks to LOP instead of MOW at 19A and GUY FALKES MASK at 34A. (Amazing I got that answer; you don't expect me to spell it right, too?) Anyway, a very difficult puzzle for me, consistently interesting and involving, but not always, IMO, fair.

Richard 9:22 AM  

Joe Posnanski wrote a wonderful obituary of Buck O'Neil that is easy to find on the Google.

Fawked 9:30 AM  

@Big Jim and @Conrad, They didn't teach Michael how to shoot a gun. They taught him how to set up a hit.

@Big Jim, You're insane but keep it up. Tell Don from Accounting I said hi.

@Anonymous who'll show up soon and start insulting others, like the lady said, "You're wearing a sheet but we can still see your shoes."

Now that I've stopped watching television, long outgrown Star Wars, and the kids have moved out taking their current slang with them, I may have to give up crosswords past Monday and Tuesday (the old folks home of the crossworld).

Guy Fawkes did me in on this particular masterpiece. A great puzzle but as baffling to me as @M&A's daily comments.

Nancy 9:30 AM  

I completely forgot to mention BADABING. Another answer I stared at blankly, thinking I'd lost my everlovin' mind. I guess someone, somewhere has said it some time. Anyone here? Is it related to VAVAVOOM? ET VOILA? PRESTO CHANGO? I really didn't like this answer!

Good grief -- people are still talking about the best way to peel a hard-boiled egg???? As @LMS would say: "Sheesh!"

Blue Stater 9:31 AM  

Uh, "Twerps" = SNIPS? Huh?

Anonymous 9:40 AM  

Puzzle tries too hard. I have a problem with BBSHOT, FAIRSEX, MAXES and UNDEREAT?

Rube 9:51 AM  

Episode1 a bit annoying but otherwise an excellent puzzle. Best in a long time and the first time I have almost been stumped in several years. Thank goodness for arcsine. Then McAfee and on from there.

Tita A 9:52 AM  

@Austenlover...welcome! A most interesting reason to break your silence, I must say.

@mathgent...HAVE sounded off to me too.


Puzzle...I got it, though it didn't go down easy...
I had FAIRiEs for way too long, not wanting to believe the stretch required to connect the tooth fairy etc. to a dated term for women...

And the ever-xworthy eel Fish made the SE even harder to complete.

TASSELS is very green painty to me. I decorate anything standing still with 'em. I collect them. They hang from keys, doorknobs, drawer pulls, chandeliers, they make opening zippers on cosmetic bags easier, they are on the corners of pillows. Some are made of cotton, some silk with gold thread, some from raffia...
In only one room are there TASSELS on curtains. I do have several curtains with fringeS, however.

Ok...let's all talk about fringes now instead of eggs.

Mr. WentzI can forgive any Friday I finish the sin of way too much PPP. Maybe because of the inclusion of SWANKY...a great word.

jberg 10:00 AM  

Just finished a piece by Bill Bryson about how Americans call their gardens YARDS and do 'yard work' instead of gardening, which takes all the fun out of it. Despite that, I had lop -- limbs, then hew -- trees, then MOW grass and lawns before I got to YARDS. So I think I finished, but can no longer actually read 20 A after all those writeovers.

Like so many here, I had No IDEA about HODA KOTB, but I think that's my fault -- she's a major personality on a major TV show, so we ought to know it if we are going to do crosswords.

On the other hand, UNDER EAT? Has anyone ever said that?

Don't sass me, you little SNIP(s)!

Lindsay 10:00 AM  

Hi All ---

Haven't been around lately, but popped in to see what HODAKOTB was all about. Yikes.

Errors: sillS for BEAMS, and trying to spell FAWKES like Faulkner.

In contrast to Rex, I thought FAIR SEX and HAVE A GAS gave the puzzle a musty vibe.

Two Ponies 10:13 AM  

@ Tita A,
With that style of home décor I am assuming you don't have cats!

GHarris 10:21 AM  

Had the SE all done except never put in the k because Kotb just didn’t
look right so I was screwed there. The N W was my real undoing. Episode 1 of what? I guess it’s a Star Trek thing. Also started with lops for mows and had ride surf. Never heard anyone say badabing for there you have it, so despite all the hard work and what I felt were really good gets I finally went down in flames.

johnny stocker 10:23 AM  

The NW corner was the last thing to fall for me as well, but I must take issue and say that EPISODE I is a perfectly legit answer. I've heard that movie referred to that way as often (if not more) than 'The Phantom Menace'. So tricky, but fair for a Friday.

Anonymous 10:30 AM  

@Nancy: Valium. It's called Valium. Look into it.

Scott 10:41 AM  

I enjoyed the puzzle, and I’m baffled by the complaints about EPISODEI. As johnny stocker said, i think it is more common to hear it referenced as “Episode I” than as its actual title. And “familiarly” means “informally,” which seems dead on. I’m stumped!

Nancy 10:44 AM  

Go peel a hard-boiled egg, Anon 10:30, you snarky, cowardly gutless wonder.

Anonymous 10:44 AM  

Fawk off. I only insult those who deserve it. Beside, insult others? Does anyone insult themselves? You good sir are a nitwit

Anonymous 10:45 AM  

@Nancy and others

Badabing was name of the strip club the wise guys on the Sopranos hung out at. It also is from a line in The Godfather where Sonny is trying to tell Michael how messy a hit is, compared to shooting a rifle at some far-off target in the army. He says something like 'you put gun right up to their head, and ba-da-bing, you blow their brains out all over your nice suit.

Remembered Hoda's name from the handful of times I was home sick with nothing else to watch, but that last name was super tough, as was the whole SE quadrant.


Anonymous 10:48 AM  

A TV worker who entertains low-IQ idlers, a sports worker who does the same, an ancient sage with half-clver quips. Thank God for Lou Grammatico, a true entertainer and sage.

Z 10:56 AM  

HODA KOTB is a nice example of "not a natick" after two days of naticks. I checked every cross on KOTB and they are all fair, so I went with the oddly spelt name I've never heard or seen (I think Jane Pauley was hosting the last time I watched Today) and it is correct.

@Austenlover - Welcome. Personally, I can think of no better reason to comment than the proper boiling of eggs.

Regarding the prequels - I'm a heretic in the desert on these movies. I'm sorry, but what exactly is better about the original trilogy? The acting? The science? The characters? The plot? I know Jar Jar Binks gets lots of hate (and accusations of not so subtle racism) but is he really all that much more annoying than C3PO? And if Lucas had actually followed through and made Jar Jar a hidden Sith Lord... what would everyone think then? There's also much talk of poor acting in the prequels, but I see lots of less than OSCAR worthy acting in the originals, too. To me, all six of the films are part and parcel with each other and only a false sense of the greatness of the first three allows so much derision of the prequels.

@Robert A. Simon - You win comment of the day with "much like ordering a pastrami on white."

RooMonster 11:06 AM  

Hey All !
Enjoyable puz, was going on an easy-ish, leisurely ride through the puz, til I hit that SE. Yowch! 5 names (with HODA KOTB as a Who?), plus IDED, ICLOUD (which I thought was known as just "the cloud"), and BEDSIDES when BEDroomS was the logical-er answer. MENORAHS also took a while to see as clued. But managed to actually get everything correct! *BEAMS* (Or should that be *Lintels*?) :-P

Had arEtoO for DOESSO as only other writeover beside BEDroomS-BEDSIDES. Odd clue for LESSER. Is that comparable to a slug as a LESSER snail?

If you usually skip over the Spell Caster posts, do yourself a favor and read today's @Anonymous 7:43. It's a real hoot!

So a good FriPuz with an appropriate send-off to the past work time: BYE WEEK. YASIR! :-)


Anonymous 11:15 AM  

Egyptian people have funny names. Let's make sure everyone knows that's unacceptable.
Weird names shouldn't be allowed, ever. Weird people, neither. Uncle Donnie told me that long long ago. That's why I love him. Weird people sure are weird. Uncle Donnie sure is my hero.

Carola 11:50 AM  

I found myself caught between "KOTB can't be right" and "KOTB has to be right," resulting in not filling in the B of RUBES and coing here for enlightenment. I agree that the name of a Today co-host is hardly ARCANA and that the crosses were all very fair. Failure of nerve on my part. Otherwise, an enjoyable challlenge, with FAIR SEX a particular treat.

@Z - Just to make a start...the original has a plot that makes sense, a lightness of touch despite the import of the mission (fate of the galaxy!), and enchanting effects using models (unsurpassed opening shot) while the leaden EPISODE I revolves (as I recall) around a trade war (hard to get invested in) and drowns in CGI overload.

mathgent 11:51 AM  

The newspaper puzzle didn't correct the clue for 17A, "Iran-contra business." Contra is the name of a group and should be capitalized, no?And proper nouns remain capitalized even in hyphenated words.

Joseph Michael from Accounting 12:10 PM  

Found myself with the same dumb stare at HODA KOTB thinking it couldn't possibly be right and then came here to discover that it was. So much for the "Today" show.

Except for that hiccup, this was a fine Friday puzzle with lots of fresh and challenging fill. Especially like BADABING, GUY FAWKES MASK, and SNIPS as clued. Also like YASIR as an affirmation.

Misread the clue for 1D and came up at first with BEANS but couldn't figure out how "cut" could be a clue for NOW. Also had "trivia" before ARCANA, "vies" before WOOS, snd "Owens" before ONEIL.

Earlier this week we had DO RE ME. Now we have DO ES SO.

But do chefs wear APRONS when they peel eggs?

puzzlehoarder 12:12 PM  

I've said before that I've never watched a single Star Wars movie. This was a big reason for why the NW was so difficult for me to solve. A NITWIT/DIMWIT write over supported by MOW messed up the west end. For 20A I kept trying to make LAWN, GRASS, or PARK work. YARD didn't occur to me for a very long time even with BODY being an option for 5D. Finally guessing BEAM was the big break through. BADABING was a pleasant surprise.

Thanks to the NW this turned out to be a good Friday workout and a welcome distraction from local events.

For what it's worth I've lost most of the use of my left pectoral muscle thanks to a BODYSURF accident at Wind and Sea beach in San Diego a little more than ten years ago. A wave broke on my back and drove my left arm into the sand so hard the tendon tore off of the bone. I went from a young mans body to an old one in a single accident. They can reattach the tendon to the bone but not the muscle that tore off of the tendon.

Masked and Anonymous 12:26 PM  

Can't go wrong there, when yer seed entry is Anonymous's mask. themeless thUmbsUp.

fave I-word: ICLOUD. Is this where desperate IBANKERs gather? Or is that only in EPISODEI? It could all confuse the M&A less, if one would KO I stuff.

staff weeject pick: LOU. Parse as "LO! U!", to behold its true beauty.

Especially partial to the "Chucklehead" NW corner, today. Came up with about 6-7 wrong Chucklehead answers, before gettin with the program. [OAF. DUD. NUT. DOOFUS. NITWIT. I-IDIOT. etc.]

Thanx, Mr. Wentz. Just exactly the right amount of flyin fur and I-fun.

Masked & Anonymo5Us


AW 1:00 PM  

NW was my donnybrook. Never equated "twerps" with "snips." Stopped watching the Star Trek franchise after the second movie so no clue what "Episode I" is. Was familiar with Iran-Contra, of course, but couldn't come up with the words for what "business" it had to do with (duh). Failed to notice the plural possessive in 2D so even though "apron" was the first word to come to mind, it wouldn't fit without the "s" (double-duh). Ironically, Hoda Kotb (56A) was one of the only gimmes for me. Go figure.

AW 1:03 PM  

Oh, and it's "it's a gas," not, not, not "have a gas" (12D). No, never.

Anonymous 1:05 PM  


Your assessment of why the original Star Wars is superior to all that follow ( O.K. maybe not Empire...;) is spot on. But I think you're wasting your breath. @Z is either being contrary ( likely to get attention which he seems to crave) or he really is as ill-informed as his nemesis seems to think. Either way, save your breath to cheer during The Last Jedi.

Maruchka 1:13 PM  

What a sweet puzzle. Problem here was the NW - nitWIT/DIMWIT;
in re/NEAR; thrum/STRUM. Doh. Thanks, Mr. Wentz.

Buck O'NEIL - Met him via Ken Burns documentary. He was a delightful and insightful commentator. Vale, and play ball!

Has anyone else binge watched American Experience dvds lately? For me, it's become a necessary antidote, when I find myself in, out, and over Trumped.. and a good deed in support of PBS.

DrBB 1:20 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
DrBB 1:25 PM  

Nice difficult-enough-to-be fun puzzle, with SE the obstacle to a 15 minute solve for me too. HODAKOTB was absolute gibberish to me--what language has a name ending in "TB"??? 47D could only be RUBES, even though I held off putting the B in that last open square while trying squinting hard at every other cross to see some way to make that T go away. Finally entered it... and got "Did you get all letters correctly?" Grrr! So I spent another few minutes with TB before noticing I'd mistyped ICLOOD for ICLOUD and it finally fell.

Oh, and I had to struggle to get Buck OWENS out of my head, too, but at least I knew it had to be something else, unless it was some cruel clueing indeed. Trivia point: Owens isn't really known for his picking abilities but he's actually a pretty dab hand with a Telecaster.

Anonymous 1:33 PM  

@DrBB, that language would be Arabic. Also Hebrew and all other Semitic languages. Not real languages? Not real people? Good on you, you anti-semitic jerk. Welcome to the USA, where everybody who isn't too different is welcome.

KTB - reading / book / writing
QTB - blessing / superiority / excellence

Language is something crossword people should appreciate - unless they're Amurrican!

Anonymous 1:49 PM  

Body surfing seems like the kind of skill a Hawaiian might have. How would a Kenyan learn it?

Brent Langford 1:50 PM  

My son knows IV as “A New Hope”. So I’ve failed him there.

Teedmn 1:53 PM  

14:28 time for a Friday means pretty typical for me. I had no foothold to start and had to go down to the SW where LESSER crossing PARIS got me in the door. Black ink ensued in the SE where ahI made Andy Capp's locales "ALE shops" but I floated out of that on the ICLOUD. I gave HODA KOTB a second look but she seemed familiar so I didn't sweat the weird consonant ABuTment.

I was really wondering if you could lOp your YARDS (which was making DIMWIT look like arMpIT would fit) but I couldn't make "lintels" out of B_AlS so I MOWed lOp off and finished right there. She BEAMS, yay, a successful Friday.

Thanks, Peter Wentz, nice job.

Lance Corporal Johnson 2:00 PM  

I agree with Big Jim: if Michael Corleone was a war hero why did they teach him to shoot a gun? This is a very big plot hole to me.

Michael was clearly a Marine Corps combat veteran, as evidenced by the Silver Star and Purple Heart medals on his uniform at the wedding reception. His experience fighting the Japanese in the Pacific would have given him a lot of experience with close-in and face-to-face battle with fanatical enemy troops. If given a choice Michael probably would have requested naval gunfire to perform a 30 minute bombardment of Louis Restaurant with 5" high-explosive shells prior to his arrival. After entering the restaurant he could set off a 20-lb satchel charge on Virgil Sollozzo's head and then blast Captain McCluskey with a flame-thrower, then he could have called in a ground-support airstrike by Corsairs from Long Island (perhaps Tessio could arrange this). I think this would have been much more realistic.

So this is a major plot hole and it ruined the whole movie for me and Godfather II as well.

Fawked 2:19 PM  

Anon @10:44 am, I meant posters other than me, although now I'm happily among them you nitwit. Kinda like being on Nixon's enemy list.

Chance 2:25 PM  

Yes, its SNIPS. I google, so you don't have to --- see my blog.

Lewis 2:25 PM  

Anon 7:43 -- Hah!

I don't think anyone has done this yet... I did a bit of internet research, and in case anyone is wondering, Hoda Kotb is pronounced HOE-duh KOT-bee.

Nor has anyone complained about crosswordese in this grid -- it is remarkably clean for any grid, no less a 68-worder. This is one fine Friday!

hankster65 2:26 PM  

Thanks Big Jim for a most enjoyable read. You've livened up my dull afternoon.

Questinia 2:31 PM  

This was like Swarovski studded jeans under a ripped silver lame tee baring radiant-cut diamond nipple piercings. So yeah, like what @jae said, lots of sparkle.

Anonymous 2:31 PM  

Lance Corporal
Well done. But be careful with syntax. The way your third graph reads, the Godfather was ruined for you and Godfather II owing to the plot hole.
I'm sure you meant The Godfather and The Godfather II were ruined for me by this plot hole.

ChE Dave 2:37 PM  

This one went super quick for me. Only hiccup was LAWN for 20A, but as soon as BODYSURF and ARMSDEAL showed up it was corrected. Didn’t know Hoda’s last name, but the downs were gimmes.

One opinion, I thought EpisodeI was fine as an answer, arguably on the geeky side.

Austenlover 2:40 PM  

Humpty Dumpty, I like them hot, too. Just rinse the eggs in cool water until you can handle them and peel away. No ice baths.

Ok, enough about eggs.

hankster65 2:42 PM  

Had BEAnS instead of BEAMS for a very long time due to mixing up lintels with lentels. Duh! That and Ms KOTB delayed the happy song for a long time. Fun puzzle!

Aketi 2:46 PM  

I did HAVE.A GAS once for a surgery. It was nitrous oxide. I can see why they called it laughing GAS.

@Masked and Anonymous, would U be offended if I decided to be U for Halloween?

@Austenlover, maybe it's not the eggs that came in the meal kit, but the 12 minutes that made the difference in my first time ever perfectly peeled eggs.

@Nancy, I've never watched the Today Show either for the same reasons. I wouldn't even want to listen to George Clooney. If, however, he chose to come to 7:00 am BJJ, kept his mouth shut for the first 15 minutes it takes my to go from hating myself for getting out of bed too early to really being happy that I did, I might actually be delighted to hear his voice that early.

Aketi 3:08 PM  

FYI, Nancy is definitely 13a in yesterday's puzzle after picking out the most pleasant spot in Central Park on a spectacularly gorgeous day yesterday.

@all the BODY SURFers, I can't remember how I ever convinced myself to do it in the freezing cold California waters in my teens. Now I wear a wet suit for diving even in the warmest of tropical water.
@Chefwen, wet suits minimize the sand problem. Kind of astonishing how much sand a bathing suit can collect.
@puzzlehoarder, sorry to read that you lost your pec to body surfing. Sounds dreadful.

Mohair Sam 3:21 PM  

My solution to the egg problem: Honey I can't get this frickin' thing peeled!
Thanks, you're the best. Love you. - It's worked for 40 years.
(It's her solution for opening jars and all computer problems)

Penny for the Guy?

Anonymous 3:37 PM  

Holy crap! Michael wasn't triggered by BB SHOT or ARMSDEAL. Nary a complaint about FAIRSEX. Meds finally adjusted, Mr. Harper?

Masked and Anonymous 4:22 PM  

@Aketi - M&A would be honored. And so would the letter U.

M&A Special Requests Desk

Almost forgot to say "har" to UNDEREAT.

Wm. C. 4:28 PM  

@Nancy --


The phrase was used by Sonny Corleone in "The Godfather." It was then picked up as the name of the strip club in the TV series "The Sopranos," in the back of which Tony Soprano kept his office.

Crocodillo 4:42 PM  

@ Anon 1:33, Dr.BB only asked what language has that sort of letters. I did not read anything critical in his remark. What set you off? Was it the extra ??? You sound like you are looking for trouble where there might be none. Even you must admit that she has an unusual name.

Joe Dipinto 5:07 PM  

A person can HAVE A BLAST or a person can HAVE GAS (perhaps after eating hard-boiled eggs), but I don't recall anyone ever HAVING A GAS.

I started smoothly in the SE off LOU and HODA KOTB (her name is so weird that I never forgot it after seeing it just once) and cruised up the right side and across and down to the SW and came to a screeching halt in the NW.

First I had HEW and TREES at 19 and 20a and IN RE at 7d; then changed 19 and 20 to MOW and GRASS; realized GRASS isn't "things" so changed it to LAWNS. Weirdly it never occurred to me that 3d might be NITWIT; I had DIMWIT all along. The other problem was that I couldn't see anything except DRIPS for "twerps", and thought "blacksmiths' wear" might be VISORS. I figured the movie was a Star Wars but, since I've never seen any of them, didn't know the title.

Anyway it finally sorted itself out, but that corner was killer for me.

iamjess 5:08 PM  

So, I mixed up the I and E in ONEIL, giving me MAXiS and eCLOUD. Those both...work.
Also a DNF on KOTB.

Tita A 5:54 PM  

@Two Ponies...two cats. To my never ending astonishment, in 15 years, these two have disinterestedmy swatted at a few only about 5 times.
They also leave the Christmas tree alone.

But they make up for giving me and my tassels a break when I put up the Presépio...
Check my Village blog and you'll see why it is beyond irresistible.

Tita A 5:55 PM  


Space Is Deep 7:15 PM  

Jberg mentioned Bill Bryson, which gives me an excuse to plug The Mother Tongue. Anyone who loves words should read this book.

Anonymous 9:04 PM  

Joe Diponto--
I had a gas reading your drivel.

semioticus (shelbyl) 10:06 PM  

SW corner was a breeze. NW was fun to figure out (I actually half-heartedly liked EPISODEI). SE was troublesome (especially if you'd never heard of HODAKOTB before). NE killed me, I've wasted God knows how many minutes there) Having fried chicken for dinner definitely helped though because I had given up in the afternoon, and when I got back to it a few minutes ago, BADABING! BREADS came naturally, and it was very easy after that.

Anonymous 10:34 PM  

Got the OTB at the end and was wondering if somehow Off Track Betting was a sponsor/host somehow?

She’s been on a major show for 10 years, guess that’s on me...

Likewise, claiming not to know anything whatsoever about Star Wars is rather annoying in a precious I live under a rock kind of way....

Aren’t boys “snips and snails and puppy dog tails”?

Have a ball, have a go at? Too many letters, so have a gas will have to do

Joe Dipinto 12:14 AM  

@Anonymasshole 9:04 -- I hope it was radon.

Hartley70 1:02 AM  

I liked it but it should have been saved for November 5th.

Anonymous 9:32 AM  

In what world does "BADABING" mean "And there you have it!"? Between that non-starter, EPISODEI, the trig clue, and the utterly baffling (to me) GUY FAWKES MASK, this was a disaster. In contrast to Rex's experience, I found the southeast corner pretty easy.

Very much disliked "have a gas" for "really enjoy yourself." Has anyone ever heard anyone ever say that...ever? I had a gas? I had a blast--yes. "Have a gas" sounds like a digestive disorder. This puzzle and I were not simpatico at all.

Anonymous 4:17 PM  

1. Soprano venue


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rondo 11:46 AM  

Piece. Of. Cake. ORELSE leftover pumpkin pie. At 1d BEAMS easily went in and then ARMSDEAL and MOW . . . you get the IDEA. About 15 minutes to finish, maybe SOONER.

Buck O'NEIL a gimme and did much off the playing field. If you ever get the chance, visit the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City, very much worth your time. The American Jazz Museum is in the same building, so you get a twofer. And Arthur Bryant's is NEAR, just around the corner if you're looking for some BBQ. The very best ribs. Get there early ORELSE ODDSARE you'll be in a line down the block.

Never thought of HODAKOTB as a yeah baby, but she's here Today, so why not?

Any ARCANA became clear, this puz URNS high marks.

spacecraft 12:08 PM  

Well, with my Eagles flying high at 9-1, I'll approve any puzzle with a Wentz byline! This one was crunchier than a granola bar, but good. Typically Friday-tough.

Started in the SE with BEDSIDES--because where ELSE would nightstands go? This led to AHAB, etc. I'm lucky that I was watching TV one time when DOD HODAKOTB's name came onto the screen. I went: huh? You can't have a name like that! Ah, but you can. That stuck with me; most things that can't be yet are anyway do. So that line helped a lot. Other quadrants weren't so easy, and as to the center: I had no IDEA. After a few crosses gave me a string of --AWKE-- the choices became rather restricted, and I was able to suss out the name. MASK was harder to unearth and came much later.

Finished in the NW--surprise!--having to change nIt to DIM, and shooting a hand up for twerps = SNIPS???? That was one bad clue. We also have one bad entry: the RPR. We're driving the Al-Can; where shall we gas up? Oh, let's DO ESSO. These lone blemishes do not take much away from an otherwise fine puzzle: Even Carson throws an interception once in a while. But he's still my guy--and so is Peter. Birdie.

Diana, LIW 12:51 PM  

My "cut" was a "lop" and BAH was TMI, so lots of head scratching up top until things changed. But that "namey" corner did me in. mAOTSE, didn't know HODA's last name, don't know baseball players much less coaches - just nt in my ALEHOUSE.

But the rest was fun to suss out. Good Friday.

Still recovering from yesterday's awful, truly awful, t-day dinner. They even managed to suck out the flavor from a carrot stick. Mr. W an I laughed all the way home about the awfulness. The only good food was food that the hotel didn't prepare - cheese, prosciutto, salami. Oh - the stuffing was ok. Dry turkey. Raw prime rib. Cold veggies. Sad.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

rainforest 1:47 PM  

When I finished the puzzle with HODAKOTB, I was convinced I had a DNF on my hands even though all the crosses made sense, so I left it in, and BADABING, it was correct.

Otherwise the puzzle was most enjoyable pretty well everywhere. I started in the NE and worked down the East side, leaving that SE corner for last. Lots of fine entries in here. Even the playground retort is one I hadn't seen before.

I guess if you can overeat, you can UNDEREAT. Lucky guess on MOW, but YARDS took a while to "ahem" parse.

Really liked it.

thefogman 2:03 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
thefogman 2:05 PM  

This was a nasty one. Lots of devilishly deceptive traps (MOW grass? No. MOW lawn? No. MOW the YARD! Who says that?) A bit weak in the cluing department. BYEWEEK I mean too many tech-related clues like ICLOUD, USBPORT, MCAFEE and WIKIS - almost a theme. In spite of it all I almost nailed it. But alas I went with RUsES instead of RUBES because I do not know who HODAKOTB is - SAD! End result is a DNF only because of one square which, in a puzzle like this, is a moral victory to me. Now, off to the ALEHOUSE!

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