Thrill seeker's appurtenance / FRI 1-19-18 / Third largest city in Switzerland / Last new Beatles track before their split in 1970 / 1966 Pulitzer-winning Edward Albee play

Friday, January 19, 2018

Constructor: David J. Kahn

Relative difficulty: Challenging



THEME: BEETHOVEN (35A + 36A) on EARPHONES (21D + 39D) — there is a note:



Word of the Day: PARADOR (8A: Spanish hotel) —
noun
  1. a hotel in Spain owned and administered by the Spanish government. (google)
• • •

Why? Why would you do this? Fridays are the Best Days for puzzles. My favorite day. Themeless puzzles that are on the easier side. These are usually the most delightful puzzles of the week. So why would you run this Saturday+-difficulty Maleska-era-skewing wisp-of-a-joke puzzle today!? If you had to do it, do it Tomorrow. It was certainly hard enough (my time was 2x normal Friday and well above my normal Saturday). This was a whole lot of brutality just so I could notice the "H" at the end. I probably could've made the experience slightly easier if I had Bothered To Look At The Note At All, but I resent notes and never read them until after I'm done. I take it as a personal challenge. A dare. If I need your note, your puzzle's no good and I'm no good as a solver. If I'd read it, I *probably* would've pieced together that the central answers were involved, and that would've given me BEET (instead of ACAI, ugh), and that western section might've fallen a Lot sooner (it was a nightmare). But I'm not playing your stupid reindeer games on Friday. Just *seeing* the little yellow "Note" symbol in my software gave me ill will toward this puzzle. And then it was hard and full of weirdness and obscurity and "clever" cluing, and Then the payoff was ... what it was. If you absolutely had to make this "joke," why not do it inside a clean, modern, delightful grid, instead of this painfully BORESOME one (I hope I'm using that "word" right—I refuse to look it up).


No idea:
  • GRAB BAR (1A: Help during the fall?) — ?????????????? Brutal. Do you mean "hand rail?" What the hell is a GRABBAR!? This was the beginning of the end for me in the west, as I had 5D: Smoking GUN. And thus -R--GAR at 1-Across. Forever.
  • ACCORDS (1D: Grants) — Oh, it's a verb. How nice. Not how I was reading it.
  • BEAR (4D: Difficult thing to do, informally) — without GRABBAR, no hope
  • PARADOR (8A: Spanish hotel) — a what now?
  • ABILENE (16A: Hardin-Simmons University setting) — I teach at a university and have never heard of this university, and thus could not have known where it is located
  • ABASE (9D: Mortify) — Kept thinking about someone being "mortified" and just refused to accept that "abased" meant the same thing
  • COY (26A: Hardly fresh) — ugh these words. What decade are these gender politics from? I had CO- and had to run the alphabet. Twice
  • SLOPE (27A: It's not on the level) — SLANT
  • PIERO (28D: Renaissance artist ___ della Francesca) — cannot keep all those guys straight, and without SLOPE ... nope
  • BEET (35A: Healthful juice source) — ACAI, as I (a) say above
  • GOPRO (37A: Thrill-seeker's appurtenance — just brutal, this clue. I forgot these exist. They don't have anything to do with the "seeking" of the thrill, just the recording of it. The word "appurtenance" is a horrifically ugly thing to have to look at. 
  • MEI (47A: ___ Lan (giant panda born at the ATLANTA zoo)) — there are so many damn zoo pandas at this point, expecting people to know the particular three-letter Chinese name part at this point is ridiculous. The cross-reference adds nothing here.
  • ELENA (50D: "The Vampire Diairies" protagonist") — nope, but luckily ELENA is a name that appears on crosswords a lot
  • ISN'T (52A: That right introduction?) — this may be the most painful "?" clue I've ever read, whereas my wrong answer is probably the best wrong answer that ever was. I had: STET. "DELE? No, that right! STET!" Me: "I don't know why the editor is talking like that, but OK."
Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]

176 comments:

Lewis 6:30 AM  

Lovely little ahas at getting DEB, DEFENSE, and NIT, then an explosive one when I DECODED the meta, and thank you for the wows, David!

This one fought me left, right, up, down, everywhere I turned, as though it fell from some alien wavelength. I was going "What?", and "Huh?", and "Yeesh!", and so on without a break from start to finish, brain sweating as it were. I loved it.

BarbieBarbie 6:31 AM  

GRABBAR is most definitely a thing and you will encounter it when you grow up, Rex.

Loved RRR.

This was a difficult puzzle for me. I had to reverse-cheat (googled a couple of answers after I had filled them in) so a technical DNF for me- also didn’t see the meta-answer no matter how I stared. I liked the challenge, but I agree it was a Saturday puzzle. The day-assignments seem all screwed-up this week. Somebody different doing them?

Donald Trump 6:32 AM  

Trump...married 3 times...5 children by 3 different women...cheated on his first wife with the second...cheated on the third wife with a porn star...and this is what the Republican Party considers "Family Values?" Lol. Y'all are killing me over here.

PKelly 6:35 AM  

When you are my age you will know exactly what a grab bar is!

Loren Muse Smith 6:36 AM  

Sure, this was hardish, but I’m surprised to hear Rex describe it as Saturday hard. Saying I like See Note puzzles is as predictable as Rex’s diatribing that he hates them.

I tell ya, after yesterday’s spotlight here on what I’m sure was an innocent inclusion of a phrase, I feel jumpy now. GRAB BAR. Hmm. Is this some deal with a nasty second meaning that I’m supposed to be outraged about? I checked. I think we’re ok today.

But then the word “appurtenance” (I agree, Rex, ugly-looking word) made me leery again. Now I’m seeing smut and evil everywhere. FLY/UNLACED. COT/TAPED UP. RETOOL. Even T-BONE feels dirty now. Not a good way to live.

Love, love, love the word BORESOME. Delightsome.

Apologies to all our peeps here from Idaho that I misremembered the clue yesterday as Iowa. Sheesh. And I’ve been to Idaho so many times! If you ever get the chance, the Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden is worth a visit.

“Slant” before SLOPE. Considered “Fiat” before SAAB.

“Bettees” before BETTORS. ;-)

In allegro speech (my MO) my asked her is ASTER. I aster if I could touch her grab bar.

Fun to have RELEASE right under GRAB. Wait.

Very deft handling on David’s part to connect MEI and ATLANTA. And have BEAR cross ATLANTA. Nice.

Biggest goof – misreading the clue for 11D (“stout cousin?” – yes, I missed the plural) and thinking it was the one for 12D. “Pleasantly plump” is a 15, but at least I didn’t write it in.

I absolutely loved this. What a find David had, noticing that the H could intersect exactly smack dab in the middle of four words to get the BEETHOVEN/EARPHONES cross. If I had noticed that, I would have gotten this rush of adrenaline, played around with it, figured out that I didn’t have the chops to pull it off, and then emailed a seasoned constructor to do the heavy lifting while I basically watch the magic happen.

This is probably my all-time favorite video clip, and I know I’ve shared it here before. It is absolutely worth seeing, I swear. Especially with today's theme. I probably watch it once a week because it cheers me up.

(Please don’t come on here and tell me that if you watch it backwards, it’s a hidden disgusting message.)

David Kahn – one of my favorite mini-theme themelesses in a long time. Bravo!

Donald Trump 6:37 AM  

I would have commented earlier, but I was too busy setting up an LLC so I could pay off the porn star I cheated on my wife with. Yes, the same porn I asked to spank me with a Forbes magazine.

three of clubs 6:40 AM  

EARPHONE not HEADPHONE

Rich White Male 6:56 AM  

Well I, for one, am very pleased that my contribution to the Trump campaign was used to pay off a porn star. I like a president who can pull a train!

JJ 7:04 AM  

This has never happened before. I 100% agree with Rex!!! BORESOME--really? ABASE ? There were several clever clues in the puzzle, but overall there were too many " Name the Panda in the Atlanta Zoo" clues

JJ 7:13 AM  

@LMS- that video literally gave me the chills --beautiful!

kitshef 7:25 AM  

A truly massive fail. By a good margin, the worst I’ve done on a Times puzzle since probably my first month of solving.

My WoEs: GRAB BAR (successfully inferred), PARADOR, PALEDRY, PIERO, MEI-lan, TAMA, ELENA.

Add in brutal clues for GEMINIS, IMEMINE, NOTALOT, ISNT, ERROR, and GOPRO, and that SW was just a big dead zone.

Mr. Kahn, you beat me good.

Loren Muse Smith 7:28 AM  

@JJ – I know, right? I still get chills, too.

We’re surrounded by so much ugliness. An injection of beauty every now and then helps.

Anonymous 7:40 AM  

Tough!

Had guN for BAN. Had aiNT for ISNT. Also fell for acai instead of BEET, and wanted Nazi instead of NOIR. Had MaI for MEI.

Looking back, that's some small change but it really did grind me to a halt.

Ann 7:52 AM  

I got stuck in the crossword but thanks, Loren Muse Smith, for reminding me of that great video. Here’s my gift to you: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=OsyIuaVKnXw

Non Plus Ultra 7:59 AM  

Oh frabjous day! A connection with Rex on his plane.

I would almost completely agree except for this: when I filled in 60A I Me Mine and looked back at the clue, I wondered if it was a comment from one of the fab four on the deteriorating state of their union at the time. Lo and behold, "its lyrics serve as a comment from Harrison on the fractious situation within the group at that time."

Cool! And now that I think of it, lowandbehold would be a fun answer to fill in.

Birchbark 8:00 AM  

Fun puzzle, fun rant review. toroNTo --> ATLANTA and guN --> BAN slowed things down in the northwest. wryoneS --> GEMINIS slowed down the southwest.

SAAB may have pursued common sense relentlessly, but any former owner will tell you they never quite achieved it. On 900s, the key went in the ignition on the floor between the bucket seats. On the 9000 (I think it was that one), if you burned out the wrong taillight, the car wouldn't start.

QuasiMojo 8:04 AM  

This was a total BEAR. And I cry foul. Why "THE fall"? Grab Bars, whatever they are, I presume are used to prevent falls, not THE fall. It wouldn't be THE fall if you survive it anyway. Dumb clueing and even dumber answer. And the theme is about as funny as that stupid dog movie.

Which reminds me, did you guys hear Nancy Pelosi struggle to spit out the word "doggie-do" yesterday? It seemed like a skit from SNL. I apologize for injecting politics here but it's just the irony of her saying this after last week's "s-hole" controversy. And yesterday's runaway train crash here.

I actually had BEAR before putting in DRAG which seemed to make sense. But I could not get GRAB BAR and therefore had a DNF. (I had already cheated to get the damn panda answer. That was out of my wheelhouse and as someone who does not go to zoos, completely ungettable otherwise.)

ABASH means Mortify. ABASE means to belittle no?

I put in LESTAT for the Vampire character. I've never heard of the Vampire Diaries.

I wanted FIST for "that right introduction" but got a ham-fisted answer instead.

GOPRO is already old and out of fashion. There was a piece in the Times just the other day about young people eschewing it. They are about as au courant as an ALL IN ONE PRINTER. Ye, Gods!

How did this get accepted? Idaho, Alaska.

On a scale of ONE TO TEN, how 'bout ZERO? Well, I did like a DELICATE BALANCE. Well, Albee a monkey's uncle.

Exubesq 8:08 AM  

Me at 35D: Boresome? That’s not a word.
Too many minutes later:Boresome? That’s a word?

puzzlehoarder 8:10 AM  

I started in the NW with GUN supported by ATLANTA. This set me up for one of the worst standoffs I've had in a long time. Obviously I didn't complete that section before moving on clockwise. Everything went smoothly until I put in TIRESOME. Switching to BORESOME took some time. That was nothing compared to how long I tried to fit the name ELGAR into 1A with some kind of listening aid in rebus form. Maybe if I knew something about PRINTERs I would have figured it out sooner but I don't. Finally I gave up on the rebus thing, put in BAR and finished.

As for the giant H sitting smack in the middle of the puzzle with BEET and OVEN on either side, I didn't notice it it until I'd finished. Once I'd finished it only took a minute figure out the theme. Talk about your forest for the trees. It reminded of that movie with the big W at the end . You know the one.
Other than the Midwest and NW this was an easy puzzle. Those sections more than balanced out what was largely routine fill.

Tim Stadler 8:10 AM  

I believe it's earphone, not headphone.

Glimmerglass 8:14 AM  

Wow! Super hard. I am very proud that I got most of it (with great difficulty!). But the SW defeated me.

Anonymous 8:16 AM  

A word of advice for those with acute TDS - Don't look at the scoreboard.

Kevin 8:26 AM  

Why is a "nap sack" a COT? I get the play on "knapsack," but how does COT work. SLEEPING BAG, I could see. But a cot is the frame with fabric stretched across it.

Unknown 8:30 AM  

I didn't think the puzzle was so bad. I initially had tiresome for boresome, but that was the only tough spot. Once I had bar in the NW corner, grabbar was obvious.

On Again Non Again 8:31 AM  

@Kevin, Cause you can sack out in to take a nap.

FLAC 8:32 AM  

Aren't we being a tad closed-minded? Rex, I admire your high standards, but that's not the same thing as dismissing a puzzle because you dislike the concept. It's a bit like criticizing Ulysses because it's not Great Expectations.

Anonymous 8:32 AM  

Can someone please explain 52a “ISNT”????

FLAC 8:35 AM  

It's a failed meta-clue. ISN'T that right, Rex?

dp 8:36 AM  

@Anon 8:32

___ that right?

Miriam M. 8:38 AM  

This beat me up too. No complaints though. Going back over it I wonder why I struggled. Cheer up, Rex. Get em tomorrow

Pat 8:40 AM  

Wow, Rex. Maybe you just need some more real world experience, or maybe you're just really, really young. The whining about not knowing the names of main characters in major works of literature yesterday, not having heard of things like a grab bar (those are the things in showers, tubs and roller coasters, among other things), having forgottten that Gopros exist (really??)--just boring and stupid. Read some books, go out on the weekends, visit your randparents, eat some fruits and vegetables that came into vogue well before 2010 and you won't have to sound so silly next time. This was easy in the old world of Fridays, moderately hard in the new world of fluff Fridays only because of the vast stretches of white space. About 20 percent longer than my usual Friday over the last year..

John Child 8:49 AM  

My experience and reaction are pretty close to @Rex today. A key to a fun themeless puzzle for me is the longer vocabulary, 8+ letters. Only four such words today. ALL IN ONE PRINTER is great, but DELICATE BALANCE, ONE TO TEN, and BORESOME are pretty weak IMO. BORESOME is in the dictionary, but at its peak popularity in the late 1920s it was used 1/25th as much as plain old boring. In recent years the ratio is about 1 to 1000. This felt very much like puzzles from a time before there was computer-assist for constructors: “Yup, it’s in the dictionary, so I can use it.”

Btw, baby grouse are poults or cheepers.

Newf 8:50 AM  

I bombed this thing so thoroughly it made me wonder if I'd had a mini stroke in my sleep

newspaperguy 8:54 AM  

The race is on. Who gets carted off to the asylum first-Micheal or Donald?

Anonypuss 8:59 AM  

I am filled with good feelings about this one. My time (15:21) was a little less than average but it was still delightfully challenging.

Despite Rex's frustration with the clue, I loved the misdirection that led me to write in ACAI instead of BEET. Sure it made things harder but isn't that the point?

Plenty of other stuff to admire in this one.

Fred 9:00 AM  

Yes, the puzzle was boresome but there’s no need to get tetchy about it.

Two Ponies 9:00 AM  

Finally a puzzle to give the little gray cells a workout.

@ puzzlehoarder 8:10, Yes! That big W made of palm trees.

If you browse YouTube the GoPro has enabled some fantastic videos.

What does Hardly fresh/Coy have to do with gender politics Rex?

After such an easy week I was glad to see D. Kahn's name at the top.


Ted 9:06 AM  

Agree with Rex on every complaint. That whole West side was brutal. I finally had to cheat to get just any kind of handhold and finish it off.

All the listed problem answers: Yup.

Abilene?

Grab Bar?

PARADOR???

Anonymous 9:10 AM  

I agree completely about MEI. The clue might as well have been “Vaguely Chinese-looking word” for all the direction it gave.

Pat 9:11 AM  

@LMS, thanks so much for the video, it turns out I needed that. I loved it when I first saw it a couple of years ago, this morning it made me tear up. A joyous reminder of how wonderful (wondersome?) humans can be.

Frank O'Connor 9:13 AM  

Despite the obscurity of "boresome" (which autocorrects to "tiresome" in iPhone, funny) I liked this puzzle...at least deserves a hat tip for the symmetry around the "H" without overmuch crosswordese.

Pat 9:14 AM  

@LMS, thanks so much for the video, it turns out I needed that. I loved it when I first saw it a couple of years ago, this morning it made me tear up. A joyous reminder of how wonderful (wondersome?) humans can be.

Two Ponies 9:15 AM  

@ LMS, Thanks for the video link. It never gets old.

Suzanne Hurel 9:16 AM  

Isn’t it earphones, not headphones???

Nancy 9:22 AM  

Very, very tough. I finally "solved" with one dead tree cheat: PIERO. I wouldn't have finished without it.

GRAB BAR for "help during the fall" -- That's a little too late, don't you think? I think the whole point of a GRAB BAR is to hold onto it so that you don't fall.

I had many ideas for the "thrill-seeker's appurtenance": PITON; SNOWBOARD; PARACHUTE; HOT-AIR BALLOON. GOPRO was not one of my many ideas. I have no idea what it is.

I stared at ---INIS for like what seemed forever, and couldn't get it. And the great irony is that I'm a GEMINI. I am so cosmically uninterested in Astrology that I didn't even realize how "expressive and quick-witted" I am. But thanks so much for the compliment, David!

My entire "home office" consists of one small laptop sitting on one largish LR desk. I don't have a PRINTER. So I was looking for an ALL IN ONE couNTER. (Didn't work, so I didn't write it in.)

A lovely challenge. I *suffered* more than usual on a Friday, and enjoyed it.

Hartley70 9:25 AM  

I liked this puzzle and I would have run it yesterday because of the H cross that I found delightful. BORESOME defeated me but didn't lessen my enjoyment.

Stuart Showalter 9:31 AM  

Wow. Rex/Michael had “ill will” toward a Puzzle??? Go figure!

@BarbieBarbie — Rex will never grow up. He will remain a whiney brat forever.

Pat 9:31 AM  

For those insisting on EARPHONE-- earphones go in your ears, headphones go over them. http://www.medicaldaily.com/earbuds-vs-headphones-which-will-cause-noise-induced-hearing-loss-366088

Sir Hillary 9:35 AM  

Hated the puzzle...

..except for one thing -- that it triggered @LMS to post that video link. I liked it so much I watched three others, my favorite being a performance of "Bolero" in a mall in Leeds, UK.

Way more fun than reading goofball Anonytrolls trying to be clever and failing miserably.

Anonymous 9:36 AM  

Oh dear lord....but thanks for clarity

Pat 9:42 AM  

Ah, that moment when you realize you've officiously missed the point,, and can't delete. :( Oops.. Yes, it reads EARPHONE.

Anonymous 9:43 AM  

Albee won the Pulitzer in 1967 not 1966.

Hungry Mother 9:46 AM  

Long slog for me today, but I finally got it. I’m much more stubborn than clever. I don’t read what the trolls post, but really do love to read commentary on the puzzle.

Ken R 9:47 AM  

I totally agree. Poor Rex is just as much a cupcake as the generation he teaches. No wonder they need "safe rooms" with Mr. Softy at the helm! Great Friday puzzle for a change and readily solvable

Anonymous 9:54 AM  

I, me, mine. Michael's (and Obama's) favorite words.

Anonymous 9:56 AM  

Yeah, but a great car to drive on a fast, curve-filled road!

TomAz 9:57 AM  

For the life of me I can't figure out how "Mortify" is any sort of clue that would lead one to ABASE.

This puzzle was hard and not much fun. The "theme" didn't help one bit. There is such a thing as hard and fun, and also not hard and not fun, but this was just kind of a slog.

Paperandink 10:02 AM  

TY Loren-muse-smith for a wonderful moment on a cold sunny northern day..cheers

Mohair Sam 10:05 AM  

Totally with @Lewis today. Flat out loved this challenge. Awesome cluing, nice mix of the current and the old without 1950's TV stars or little known rappers - and a couple of great "aha" moments (especially ISNT and GRABBAR). Disagree with almost everything Rex (and most of y'all) said except his point about this appearing a day early.

I think Rex can't help but get angry with puzzles that have clues out of his ken. Damned near every hotel in America has a GRAB BAR in the shower - you folks probably think it's an oversize face cloth rack. GRAB BAR's are sold and marketed as GRAB BARS, I bought and installed one for my mother-in-law. BEET juice is the latest healthy drink fad, I thought Rex liked things up to date? Surprised Rex didn't know Hardin-Simmons - I know it and I have nothing to do with higher education. What the hell is the problem with appurtenance - it's a freaking Friday Rex - you gotta handle four syllable words.

@Birchbark - Bought a used SAAB 900 a couple of decades back. Put 200 thousand more on it and coulda wept when it finally croaked and I had to trade it in.

@Loren - Yes you've linked to that one before, and yes, do it again. But you haven't linked to the Wierd Al "bob' video in a while - get with it!

We had a ball battling (and finally whupping) your puzzle today David J. Kahn. Thanks.

mmorgan 10:08 AM  

Struggled a lot but had many ah-has and found the difficulty to be enjoyable. I eventully got GOPRO from crosses (and expected it to be wrong), but even with post-puzzle Googling, I can't figure out what it is (it seems to be a lot of different things).

Anonymous 10:17 AM  

The first time I used my HP ALLINONEPRINTER I got a paper jam which produced a fatal printer error which would cost more to fix than buying a new printer (which I did). So much for convenience.

Albee won in 1967!!!!

pabloinnh 10:19 AM  

Fun tough stuff for me today, but eventually got a satisfying finish.

I was explaining to a class what a PARADOR is on a day when our superintendent happened to be observing. Suddenly he began excitedly exclaiming Parador! Parador! Turned out he was a big fan of the movie "Moon over Parador". It was our greeting of choice until he retired.

With many others, muchas gracias to LMS for the deilightful link. My ears are smiling.

Mohair Sam 10:19 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mohair Sam 10:20 AM  

@mmorgan - It's a tiny camera brand thrill-seekers wear on their body (usually the head) to record their adventures. Watching down-hill skiing absolutely takes your breath away.

@Two ponies - Yeah, nothing genderish about COY as I've seen the word used. Had a boss who'd say "Don't get COY with me" whenever we'd dodge his questions - gender of the offender never mattered.

Birchbark 10:25 AM  

@Mohair Sam and @Anon (9:56) -- yes, there was lots of upside in exchange for Saab goofiness. You mentioned cornering and endurance. I'd add great turbocharger and "responsive foot pedal" for lack of a technical term. And it started in cold weather. But common sense, not so much.

Z 10:27 AM  

EARP H ONES, so the “headphones” in the write-up is an ERROR that Rex will probably correct at some point.

Solving the dead tree version makes ignoring the note difficult. As a result, when I changed açaí to BEET with only about 1/4th of the puzzle done but all the themers filled, the “meta” was obvious. This definitely lessened the thrill of seeing it since I still had three corners essentially empty but didn’t need them.

Of all the clues for ABILENE you go for a small Baptist college? I went to a small Baptist college (it had more Catholics than Baptists enrolled) and still wouldn’t expect it to be used as a clue for the city (not that you could clue Kalamazoo by Kalamazoo College anyway). This seems to me to be fairly typical of Kahn’s cluing, things in my outhouse for things that would normally be in my wheelhouse. Unlike @Lewis, though, he never seems to hit me with one that gets a “nice” from me. Always more of a “seriously?”

BORESOME seems like a BORESOME sort of word that one might use to emphasize how trite and tiresome something is, like BORESOME anonymice and their decidedly BORESOME one-liners should find some other blog comment section to bother.

@Anon9:10 - That’s exactly how I read the clue.

@LMS - I hope it was unintentional, but I dealt with a lot of good kids who did asinine things. I can certainly imagine exactly the scenarios Rex described yesterday. That there were two constructors makes it even more likely that a little game of “can we get this past” was happening. And while the phrase is pretty meaningless to me, it’s clear from my Twitter feed that it is a commonly understood reference to gang rape amongst a younger crowd than regularly comments here. This points to something Rex has been arguing for quite awhile, the need to diversify who is in the editorial group and test-solver group for the NYTX.

Foldyfish 10:30 AM  

Sometimes I can relate to Rex's ire. This is one of those times. I gave up on this puzzle after a very determined start. I had many of the same missteps as Rex. GRABBAR just felt so wrong to me and smoking gun felt so right. I was confident in ACAI and at sea over COY... ugh...

Z 10:34 AM  

From Rex’s FAQ page for those confused by the Albee clue:

16a. The clue says Marisa Tomei won the 1992 Oscar, when she clearly won it in 1993. I remember because I hosted an Oscar party that year. Why would the NYT make such a stupid error?

You are the one who has made the error. Oscars are handed out for achievements that took place in the preceding year. Thus, 1992 Oscars are handed out in 1993, but they are still 1992 Oscars. If your complaint is about a different awards show, chances are the same system applies.

Bryce 10:41 AM  

I feel a lot better seeing how many others had smoking GUN, SLANT, ACAI, etc. I got down to GOP_O and still couldn't see it and had to run the alphabet. I did know the word appurtenance, having missed it in the 1991 Indianapolis Regional Spelling Bee.
Loved the challenge in this though and glad I got through it (also 2x Friday time).

Also I thought "bubkes" meant "nothing" as opposed to "not a lot." Maybe I'm in the wrong here?

Anonymous 10:44 AM  

NW was worst cluing I have seen in a long time. Dreadful puzzle.

George Levinger 10:45 AM  

Ha ha, Rex.

This was an easy one for me and I’m usually feeling the way you did on any other Friday.

I was puzzled by Fluff=ERROR. Clueing doesn’t make sense to me.

DBlock 10:49 AM  

I was fine except for NW
like others gun for ban
Cons for noir
And really wanted
Of no use for venting
Thought it was a nice statement
And just refused to budge
Expecting something much more complex than the big honking H in the middle which I saw and thought too simple given overall difficulty of puzzle

OISK 10:50 AM  

I don't like grab bar either. Other than that, not a lot to complain about. Took me about an hour, until I finally found "grants" for accords, a perfectly fine clue, and then grab bar went in. Had I DNF, I'd have had none of my usual excuses, no rap,just one product clue, almost no pop culture. I have never heard I me mine, but like emo, it seems to be a crossword staple. I am pleased with this puzzle, tough but fair.

Tom Rowe 10:51 AM  

I agree with Rex 100% today. It was brutal, especially the NW. Given time I can almost always suss things out but (shamefully) I finally had to cheat and get some help in the NW to finish. Note answer was clever in retrospect, but not helpful in solving.

GILL I. 10:51 AM  

I think I understand what @Rex is saying...sorta - since he does an awful lot of other puzzles that maybe have current jargon. I only do the NYT and an occasional WSJ and if I want to become au currant I do a BEQ.
I enjoy David Kahn's puzzles. They are always difficult but there is something about his cluing that never seems forced or too cute. I liked the small grouse NIT and the nap sack COT. PARADOR always brings a good memory smile to me. Folks, if you ever get to SPAIN, take the train from Madrid to Granada and stay in their monastery turned PARADOR . It's located in the Alhambra. It's really breathtaking - like @Loren's video. We were lucky to be living in Spain at the time Franco was converting all of the old monasteries and castles and forts into Government run-hotels. We only stayed in them if we could. They were cheap back then and the food.... so outrageously delicious.....I want to go back. And speaking of food....please don't BREAD your veal chops. If you're going to spend good money on veal, pan sear them in butter, olive oil and some rosemary.
Had some trouble in lots of places. Could not remember what Bubkes means. I get her mixed up with Bapkes, Babkas and Babushkas. They all sound like grannies to me.
GO PRO my biggest bugaboo. Could not finish that section without a cheat. Then it was a head bonk. Some of these young thrill seekers are insane. Have you seen the one where the guy is flying like a bat through little holes in the mountains ? My feet tingle just thinking about it.
Hardest entry was the GRAB BAR. I just could not see it. Oh, @Rex. Yes....one day you will need one. It has saved my husband's life. @Mohair - believe it or not there are TONS of hotels that still don't have them. Or maybe it's just the cheapos we stay in.
I enjoyed your wrath, Kahn.

GHarris 10:52 AM  

For once I agree with Rex's rating...challenging. In fact, for me the SW was an unmitigated disaster. Boresome? Mei? Isn't? Common
Fact that I finished the rest unaided (parador, go pro, grabbar etc.)is a source of much satisfaction.

TubaDon 10:53 AM  

Same problem with GUN , TIRESOME and trying to fit ELGAR as Puzzlehoarder. Finally erased those and got a hint from my wife.

ColoradoCog 11:01 AM  

This puzzle felt like getting a car out of the snow. I tried to get traction somewhere, anywhere, but nothing would stick. Just when I got a bit unstuck, I was totally stuck again. Eventually, after spinning for what seemed forever, and long past the point where I sure I would need to “call for help,” somehow I broke free and let out a loud “Whoop!” It felt hugely satisfying to have gotten through it successfully, but not much fun while I was in the middle of it.

Terry B 11:07 AM  

Horrid. "Healthful juice" changes monthly, from acai to lime to clam to pear, etc. "...during the fall" seem intentionally misleading. (Bernice, that's quite a bruise. Oh, I got it during the fall.) Panda names? Why not just some random letters? Fluff = error? Coy vs. fresh? Just horrid.

David Stone 11:13 AM  

My first DNF in months. Brutal cluing, brutal answers, not much enjoyment anywhere in the puzzle, never figured out the bonus puzzle even after cheating and writing in all the words and staring at the completed grid.

mrn 11:21 AM  

All of this awfulness just to get Beethoven and Earphones? Yuck. What a letdown and what a horrible puzzle. An EDATE is not a thing. GRABBAR barely. PALEDRY is just two adjectives. NOT A LOT is about as BORESOME as it gets. And is ALL IN ONE PRINTER the worst long answer of all time? Hated every bit of this puzzle.

John Hoffman 11:26 AM  

Agree with earlier comment: MEI = “Vaguely Chinese-looking word”

Tim Aurthur 11:30 AM  

With a bathroom renovation about to happen, GRABBAR was a gimme.

BORESOME is rare. Two citations in the OED, from 1895 and 1905.

One thing I liked was how symmetrical 10D and 57D both cried out to be LOBE, which didn't fit.

IIRC, Thayer's biography of Beethoven speculated that his name was a Dutch variant of beet garden or beet farm (cf. hof). So the first syllable of his name really does mean the vegetable.

Anonymous 11:32 AM  

I liked the puzzle more that Rex and breezed through most of it. But I found the SW challenging, and I guess if part of the puzzle is that way, the whole puzzle is. My great worry, over morning coffee, was that with the 35D, tedious, being the obvious *tiresome*, how many readers would have 35A, healthful juice source, as *te-t* and think, no, no way they could define that as a healthful "juice" source. Fortunately that not my worry, since Piero della Francesca one of my favorite Renaissance painters and teat not an option. I hadn't heard of Gopro, the panda, or bubkes--hence the challenge. I consider "bettor" and especially "boresome" as borderline non-words--who would ever say "boresome" for boring?

*Bettor* reminded me of those English riddles of a century ago.
Q: Who was better, Mr. Better or Mrs. Better?
A: Mrs. Better: she became Better.

Q: Who was better, Mr. Better, Mrs. Better, or their son John?
A: John, he was a little Better.

Etc. etc. Though I think the common version was Mr. Bigger et al.

Retiring these jokes is a good argument for married women retaining their surnames.

Anon. i.e. Poggius

Roo Monster 11:33 AM  

Hey All !
Put me in the tough crowd. Unashamed use of Check feature. :-)

Finished without getting meta. When Rex pointed out BETTHOVEN is when I saw that and EARPHONES. Kinda neat.

RATE ONE TO TEN - RRR, ERROR :-)

COY COT
RooMonster
DarrinV

Tim Aurthur 11:38 AM  

ONE TO TEN, ALL IN ONE, ONES. Flaw or minitheme?

JC66 11:38 AM  

Like @Rex, I don't read the notes pre-solve so did this as a themeless (as Fridays usually are). Found it really hard with many of the issues others have already mentioned but finally finished in the SW.

After reading the note, I tried to tie the 4 ONEs in the puzzle with the BIG H for the meta, to no avail. So technical DNF, I guess.

@LMS

The clip was great, but your post was better (as usual). Thanks.

Masked and Anonymous 11:39 AM  

har. I,ME,MINE. ME,I.

Fun & feisty FriPuz. Cool grid art usage.
@RP: day-um. Well, good mornin, Stormy McSunshines! Primo mcbullets, tho. Addin two more …

* BAN. Wanted HOT. Then GUN.
* GRANTS. Wanted HONDAS.

staff weeject pick: RRR. Makes yah think. Which triple-letter answers have never ever been used in the NYTPuz? Answer: GGG, JJJ, NNN, QQQ, TTT, VVV, YYY … and … of course … UUU. [no respect]
Triplets with Patrick Berry Usage immunity: AAA. BBB. EEE. III. SSS.

Thanx, Mr. Kahn. Sorry that @RP lost his composer.

Masked & Anonymo1Us


hey, @RP … themeless fix!:
**gruntz**

JC66 11:43 AM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
JC66 11:45 AM  

@Tim Aurthur

TBONE, too.

Anonymous 11:49 AM  

Skimming through for easy fills to get started had me listing HEYJUDE then LETITBE before IMEMINE, all songs I know but thought clue referred to last song released as single. Poor George, always an afterthought with the Beatles.

Hungry Mother 11:53 AM  

Here’s one of my GoPro adventures at Victoria Falls when I was 75: https://www.facebook.com/computingdoc/videos/vb.801410768/10153938174375769/?type=3&theater

Joseph Michael 11:58 AM  

What the H was this?

Anonymous 11:59 AM  

Smoking _ _ N and it's not GUN? That took me forever to undo.

Pam Fletcher 11:59 AM  

No art history Rex? Or travel in Spain? This puzzle was fun!

Hungry Mother 12:09 PM  

The Parador in Ronda is awesome: http://www.computingdoc.com/Spain/email11/sp112.jpg

Lee 12:16 PM  

Can someone please explain what Ed in “Ed basics” means?

Lee 12:18 PM  

Can someone explain who or what Ed in “Ed basics” is?

And how does “Beguilers” clue “TEASES”? I can’t get my ahead around the tense.

Malsdemare 12:28 PM  

Oh yes, it was hard. I finally threw in the towel and looked up PIERO which helped a little. I also googled the pandas and boy, I hate to be critical, but it's MEI LUN, not LAN. But lots of stuff that fought me, not the least of which was PARADOR, where I ultimately went down in flames. I don't usually pick nits, but while I'll accept that to err is to fluff, I've never heard of fluff as a synonym for an ERROR. I sure fluffed 37D, but my ERROR there; was it a fluff? I dunno. That's a stretch.

There was lots to like, though. Great misdirects: SERAPES, GEMINIS, ISNT, and then just invisible answers. GRABBAR is real, though it took me forever to see it. You install them in bathrooms and hallways where people with poor balance may need some help staying vertical.

@LMS I adore flash mobs and that one is a winner. There's one in the law school at the University of Minnesota that's awesome, though the season is now passed. https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=uH8FvERQHtM

Masked and Anonymous 12:35 PM  

@Lee -
Ed = Education. The three R's are the Education basics of: Readin, Ritin, and Rithmetic.

M&A Help Desk

kitshef 12:42 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
pmdm 12:55 PM  

Nancy: You're comment yesterday was perfectly fine. I just missed the irony, if that's the word.

Michael Sharp: Why would Mr Shortz do this? To annoy you, of course.

I found the puzzle OK. Now to put on some Beethoven.

Two Ponies 12:58 PM  

@ GILL I.10:51, That is exactly the YouTube video I mentioned. The guy is wearing a wing suit. Breathtaking. I want one! Sure, I'll get killed doing it but what a way to go.

Re: the panda name and Chinese-sounding word. That about sums it up.

I am always amused at the way products or instructions are translated to English. A friend in China showed me a photo of a perfume bottle that was almost marketed but caught in time. The lovely gold writing on the black bottle said Pull My Finger.
It was supposed to say Take My Hand Gently.
Dodged a bullet there!

Carola 1:03 PM  

Count me in for finding it challenging and loving the workout. Last in: finally grasping GRAB BAR.

I'm a "Note" reader, so I was looking for the composer right from the start. That capital "H" (mis)led me to believe that it was a clue to the first letter of the composer's name. I was BETTing on Haydn, who was hidin' in the grid. I did find BEET H OVEN, but feel dopey that I never saw the EARP H ONES. For me it was enough to have him on TAPE.

GRAB BARs - I resisted our contractor's strong suggestion that we add them to our remodeled bathroom, until the Internet led me to some nicely designed "balance bars" - allowing me to continue in my baby boomer's denial of aging and the spectre of a nursing home. Very glad to have them.

PIERO della Francesca - A trip to Arezzo several years ago fulfilled a dream held since Art History 101 to see his fresco cycle, The Legend of the True Cross. I wish the online images could do it justice.

Anonymous 1:06 PM  

Boresome? BORESOME??? Not. A. Good. Answer. I agree totally, this felt much more like a Saturday entry. As for the "theme"? Please stop using the grid as an excuse for bad cluing. It's about the words, not the black squares!

Anonymous 1:06 PM  

Lee @ 12:18 Someone who is a tease is beguiling. It’s a bit of a stretch in the definition of “beguile” if you ask me

Anonymous 1:08 PM  

Lee @ 12:18 “Ed” as in Education. The three R’s

FMA 1:13 PM  

I feel like I've been run over by a MACK truck...

Teedmn 1:18 PM  

Thank goodness I never thought of a smoking guN - after I put in BAN at 5D, I GRABbed right onto that GRABBAR and held on for dear LIVED. Most of my hold-up today, and I agree this was tough for a Friday, was having put in "Get Back" as the Beatles' last new track, confirmed by the laughably easy guess of "ear" at 57D. Only after I had filled in the NW and had seen ALL IN ONE PRINTER did I manage to change that.

And I resigned myself to a DNF at PARADOR crossing PALE DRY. I didn't know the former and ran the alphabet for the latter. I was pleased to find I had guessed correctly.

After spending so much time filling in the grid, I didn't spend a lot of time looking for the meta, which is too bad - it's kind of cool.

Thanks, David Kahn.

And @LMS, thanks for the Des Moines laugh.

Blackbird 1:22 PM  

Yuck. Got the NE andd much of the center, then sighed and decided to check out Rex. Grab bar is a thing, Rex, if you need help sitting down or getting up, useful for disabled and elderly people. But the clue is lame. Finding a letter by looking at the shape of the black boxes is too much of a stretch. So the missing "h" of earphone is a constructor's cheat. Cute, but no no cigar. Oh, about that "gar" -- that's what I had, not "bar". Definitely smoking gun, not smoking ban -- although, in daily life, I'm all for somking bans, and definitely not for smoking guns.

The answer for 56A is wrong. "Bupkes" definitely means nothing, which fits the space, which is the answer I confidently wrote in, and which screwed up the whole SW. Bupkes does not mean "not a lot".

I got "Abilene" from the crosses. Since the clue asked for a place name, a "setting", Ablilene worked. Like Rex, I never heeard of the college in the clue, but who knows the names of all the colleges in the United States....

Andrew Heinegg 1:41 PM  

I bought a Saab for my first car. It would stall without notice while moving from the day I drove it off the lot. Time after time I brought back to the dealer. The last time I brought it there, I spoke with the service manager. He told me had fixed it himself this time after concluding that it was an electrical problem. I was sure it wasn't but, what could I do.

The next day I was driving on Interstate 5 at 60 miles an hour and the entire car shut off, dashboard display, everything. I nervously steered the car to the shoulder and survived.

After that, I spoke to a number of Saab owners and was told by one that anybody that buys one of those cars ends up with a 'Saab' story.

Phil Calbi 1:52 PM  

Responding to the Anonymous who asked for an explanation of 52A: That Right Introduction

The answer is, ISNT
The puzzle is lookin* for the phrase, “Isn’t that right.”
So the word ISNT would be an introduction to the words, THAT RIGHT, giving us - Isn’t That Right

Tedious, I know, but’s it’s apparently what passes for wit in crosswords nowadays.

Phil Calbi

ArtO 1:54 PM  

I finish Fridays only occasionally and to finish about 80% of today's and see the Challenging rating was something of a minor accomplishment. Smoking GUN certainly stymied me up north but there were too many really tenuous clues.

And many thanks to LMS for the wonderful link. Definitely worth seeing again. And, yes, goose bumps.

Andrew Heinegg 2:09 PM  

As usual, there are clear divisions on the take to the puzzle. I thought Rex was spot on with every criticism of this one.

I have used a grabbar occasionally since I had my hip replaced but I never thought to call or heard it that as its name. And, I agree with quasimojo that the wording of the clue for it was deceptive in a wanky sort of way.

The one that there seems to be the most division on is boresome. I presume that, like most of you who typed the word into their blog commentary, for me it showed up with a red squiggly line underneath it. Not that makes it unacceptable. I'm just saying.

Then there is the beguile matter. If it means something other than charming someone in a deceiving manner, I need to expand the only understanding of the word's meaning I ever had.

As blackbird noted, bupkes is not not a lot. It means zero, nada and such.

And the name of the Panda born at the Atlanta zoo crossing boresome; the overall impression for me is the constructor making it extra difficult by placement of words in the puzzle that do not make you think:' oh you got me good and fair and square with that one'. But, as always, there ain't no arguing with taste.

Andrew Heinegg 2:13 PM  

Yeah Rex. Boo puzzle. Beguile, boresome crossing the name of a Panda born at the Atlanta zoo, and bupkes as a clue for not a lot add up to a pretty poorly constructed puzzle, IMHOP.

Anonymous 2:13 PM  

I initially entered all the erroneous answers that Rex mentioned, but I felt pretty good about finishing the puzzle without cheating and without any help from the hint (I thought it might be about HAYDN, but I could never find that word and didn't understand the hint until I read this blog). I would have rated it a fairly easy Friday puzzle instead of challenging.

Trombone Tom 2:19 PM  

Thank you, David J. Kahn, for a rip-roaring Friday workout that I thoroughly enjoyed.

GRAB BAR was no problem; I installed them for my parents decades ago and now find I need them. We saw many fine PARADORs on our last trip through Spain.

I was defeated though by the NW and my insistence on seeing a smoking GUN and inability to suss out GRANTS from the clue.

No objections to the theme or that big honkin' "H".

Kimberly 2:44 PM  

I found the puzzle difficult but it didn’t drive me to rage.

Stop normalizing your ignorance, Rex. Just because you don’t know something, it doesn’t mean it’s either obscure or nonsensical. I have grab bars in two of my showers. They’re not hand rails. They’re grab bars. And they’re common.

This habit of hating every puzzle that is too clever or too difficult is saying things about you I’m pretty sure you don’t want to be said.

Instead of being angry, why not find delight in discovering that there are things you don’t know and that there are still things you need to reach and struggle for. Challenge is good. It fosters growth, and if we’re not growing, we’re dying. Reframe your world perspective and become a discoverer, a learner. Don’t take pride in complacency and jeer at those things which temporarily confound you. Get excited by them. Thrill in them. They mean you aren’t dead yet.

Hating things which are over your head starts to smell vaguely conservative. Don’t be that guy. Contempt rarely elicits respect, and it never makes someone look superior or smart. It’s a trap for the mediocre. You are not mediocre. Stop slurping up that bait.

Carola 2:45 PM  

The missing link.
Piero della Francesca, fresco cycle, Legend of the True Cross.

sanfranman59 3:09 PM  

This week's relative difficulty ratings. See my 1/2/2018 post for an explanation of my method. In a nutshell, the higher the ratio & percentage, the higher my solve time was relative to my norm for that day of the week.

(Day, Solve time, 26-wk Median, Ratio, %, Rating)

Mon 3:44 4:08 0.90 20.9% Easy-Medium
Tue 5:18 5:19 1.00 46.0% Medium
Wed 5:39 5:54 0.96 46.8% Medium
Thu 9:55 10:16 0.97 44.9% Medium
Fri 19:57 11:37 1.72 96.4% Very Challenging

WTF list: PARADOR, Hardin-Simmons U, Neo-NOIR, MEI, BORESOME, PIERO, TAMA, PALE DRY, ELENA. Plus, very difficult cluing. 2 minutes above my 6-month Saturday median solve time. Brutal.

Nancy 3:15 PM  

Thanks so much, Loren! It's a truly magical video -- and though some people here seem to have seen it, I hadn't.

Another hand up for having thought that "bubkes" meant "nothing" rather than NOT A LOT. But since my knowledge of Yiddish and Americanized Yiddishisms is *bubkes* to write home about, I was much too willing to take David's word for it.

The SAAB comments today are far and away the most interesting car discussions I've ever seen on this blog. They're like a bunch of valuable public service announcements. Is that awful thing still made?

Kimberly 3:19 PM  

@LMS I love flash mob videos but had never seen that one. Thank you. I grinned and got teary-eyed. Love the little one clinging to the top of a lamp post, furiously directing the orchestra with one free hand.

Beethoven is at times my master and at times my deepest foe. My fingers hate him and my soul loves him and my mind has imaginary, passionate debates with long dead masters about things like the repeat after the exposition in the first movement of the Pathetique. I personally think anyone who goes back to the introduction would fail the marshmallow test, since the first chord completes the resolve, which should not happen until the end. The entire piece should instead live inside a suspended musical moment of time between the dissonant chord at the end of the Allegro and the final chord of the rondo. Between the systolic and diastolic. The lub and the dub. The entire movement is a single heartbeat. Resolving that chord prematurely by returning to the Grave demonstrates an inability to delay gratification. Only the most childish players would do it. Harrumph.

Nobody cares, of course, but I am compelled to say it,

Suzie Q 3:20 PM  

Grab bars aren't just for the old or infirm. Bathrooms are dangerous places. Really, think about it. Water, soap, slippery tiles, glass shower doors. What could go wrong?

Besides, if you're feeling frisky with your sweetie it gives you something to hang onto!

Nancy 3:26 PM  

@Kimberly (3:19) -- How's that again?

Chip Hilton 3:37 PM  

I'm writing this without reading any of the 120+ comments already posted because I don't want them to influence me. I, like Rex, found this quite difficult but, unlike Rex, in every way, delightful. Why should rigorous be wrong for a Friday? What's wrong with GRABBAR? It's a legitimate thing, for goodness sakes! I've heard of Hardin-Simmons since the 1950's! Yeah, SLOPE is not level! And on and on.

The H crossings were neat. I went in expecting a Handel or Haydn theme (having read the Note. I'm not stupid.) but had already entered and erased BEET before making the connection to OVEN. Two fine clues in the vertical crossing, too, I thought.

Sorry, Rex. You're just totally tiresome when a puzzle doesn't suit your fancy.

GILL I. 4:10 PM  

@Two Ponies....Sky diving is on my bucket list of to dos. I might ask for three parachutes or I wouldn't mind some handsome dude strapped on top of me with his GO PRO. (I once saw a YouTube of an elderly lady - I think it was her 100th birthday - have her false teeth go flying off while tandem jumping.... You have to wonder were they might have landed).
On the other hand, you'd have to pump me full of good whiskey, pull my fingers quite a few times and promise me a spot in heaven, before I'd ever do that bat maneuver.

QuasiMojo 4:21 PM  

High five @Andrew H. And hey @Nancy is the Grab Bar building still there near Grand Central? Tehee. :)

CDilly52 4:28 PM  

@LMS, the Beethoven video always gives me hope for humanity through the universal language of the arts. Thanks!! Down with the full-on flu so this one killed me from the start.

Larry Gilstrap 4:58 PM  

Mid-solve last night.

Voice from other room: How's the Puzzle?

Me: Hard.

But, eventually the grid is completed. That's why I look forward to doing the puzzle each day. Nothing BORESOME about this; reactions may vary. I live in the Southwest, so I see lots of Spanish named things, but PARADOR is a new one on me. If I do ever stay in one and shower in a porcelain tub, I would expect a rubber mat and a GRAB BAR.

I balked at the Beguilers/TEASES connection, at first. Oh no, here we go again! But, my phone assures me that one nuanced meaning implies deception, which is what, of course, TEASES are up to.

We used to hang out at a local coffee shop and one of our group loved to read everyone's horoscope for the day from the newspaper. She was winsome and most were delighted by the attention and the over-the-top reactions of those gathered. Fun times! Rarely, but sometimes, somebody would get all scientific or anti-superstition on the frivolity. I guess they thought astrology was nonsense. That was sort of the whole premise of the ceremony. Lighten up! Must not have been GEMINIS.

ghkozen 5:12 PM  

Note that in addition to a no-name university in the clue, Abilene is the 27th-biggest city in Texas, per wikipedia. Am I expected to know the top 27 cities in each state now? Is Old Orchard Beach Maine fair game? Insane.

Joe Dipinto 5:35 PM  

A Beethoven puzzle with earphones, but no Elise or Eroica. Nor Ode nor Joy. Moonlight or Archduke would have been welcome inclusions as well. Pffft.

Joy2u 5:40 PM  

@LMS . . I wish the sound on my laptop wasn't stuck on 'off'. Even without the sound, it was uplifting and plumb inspiring.
I am never on time to actually participate in this blog; although there is really no need since by the evening of 'the day' when I finally have done the puzzle, pretty much everything that needs saying (and much that does not) has been.
I just have one little question. What was the piece they were playing and singing? Was it, "Ode to Joy"? I read lips and it looked like it, so just had to ask.

Rob 5:51 PM  

This was just tedious. Creaky doesn't begin to describe it.

I stuck myself for a bit entering LET IT BE for I ME MINE.

Anonymous 5:54 PM  

@Nancy, what @Kimberly was saying was that sophisticated types ignore Beethoven while playing Beethoven because they know better than Beethoven.

Yup.

Lewis 6:39 PM  

@joy2u -- Yes it was.

MidgeMidge 7:12 PM  

Flash mobs are fun. The orchestral part was great. Thanks, @lms

Unknown 7:14 PM  

I googled "Giant pandas in American zoos" because I didn't know the answer and got completely tripped up by LAN versus LUN. Plus it turns out the panda in question doesn't even live in Atlanta any more.

Patrick Butler 7:43 PM  

First time in ages that I had to give up. Completely agree with Rex on this one. East side was easy, West had so much I have never heard of or was clued bizarrely. Might have helped if I’d seen the note (because I probably would have gotten BEET - like so many others I had ACAI.) but I have never seen a note indicator on the mobile app. Can anyone tell me how you find that? I also never see the puzzle title, which might help sometimes.

Paula K. 7:45 PM  

Nice little Friday:

1. March for Life.
2. Senate Dems filibustering to shut down government.
3. House Dems concealing FISA abuse memo.
4. 66 House Dems vote to impeach the president over alleged "s-hole countries" comments.
5. DOJ files to retry Menendez.

Redstater 7:54 PM  

We just keep winning.

a.corn 8:11 PM  

Whoa. This went past challenging right into absolutely no fun.

OldCarFudd 8:40 PM  

@Loren Muse Smith -

That flashmob clip you posted is superb. Doers it have a website address I can use to send it to my family?

Many thanks!

Gil Fitzhugh

semioticus (shelbyl) 8:48 PM  

I would like to burn this puzzle to the ground.

Look, @John Child put it perfectly. On Friday and Saturday we get a themeless. Full of long words, double/triple stacks, and fun entries. OH THERE'S AN H IN THE MIDDLE OH MY GOD WHAT A COOL TRICK LET'S SACRIFICE THE REST OF THE PUZZLE BECAUSE IT'S SO COOL FFFFFFFFFFF*CK YOU.

That's not the letter H, that's a rotating middle finger at the solver.

The clues give you nothing. A few tricky clues are great, when everything is tricky/obscure, what am I supposed to do? Guess? The proper nouns are impossible, There are 9 pandas in the Atlanta zoo: Yang Yang, Lun Lun, Mei Lan, Xi Lan, Po, Mei Lun, Mei Huan, Ya Lun, Xi Lun. Am I supposed to know all of these? PALEDRY oh we can just stick two adjectives together now? Here's a clue: "Today's puzzle". Answer: ASSSHIT. Go figure.

Theme is not a proper theme but it fucks everything up. The fill has absolutely no freshness. The clues are shit, trickiness is overdone. Whatever. I'm done. Jeff Chen has a politer version of my review anyways.

GRADE: F, 0.9 stars.

semioticus (shelbyl) 8:57 PM  

No actually I'm not done. This puzzle has ALLINONEPRINTER, ONES and ONETOTEN. Two of those would be bad, it has three! 3! I'm not even mentioning ISNT on top of NOTALOT.

Goddammit this puzzle was lazy, weak and obnoxious at the same time. What a deadly cocktail. I don't understand how people can like this crap. Maybe it's a generational thing.

clk 9:03 PM  

This was just a boring slog with no payoff. The word challenging implies that completing the task will lead to a feeling of satisfaction, of a job well done. This puzzle had none of that.
There were a few clever clues, for EPEE or even for COT, but so many bad ones. I agree with Rex (with the exception of GRABBAR, which I thought was fine) and would also add PALEDRY as a terrible answer and fluff a terrible clue for ERROR.
With 3 college age kids, I feel like every college in America must have sent us mail over the past few years and yet I’ve never once heard of the one listed here. I guess they rightly realized that my young heathens would have no interest in a small Baptist college.

Anonymous 9:04 PM  

I guess I could google Gopro.

JC66 9:10 PM  

@OldCarFudd

Here's the link you can copy it & email it to your family.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GBaHPND2QJg

Jeff Schuh 9:59 PM  

I have a beloloved 92 Saab convertible, didn’t for the life of me get the pursuit clue, and questioned the crosses until the end.

But the awkward “that right introduction” clue shiuld have been “ain’t” FGS

Jeff Schuh 9:59 PM  

“Beloved”

Joy2u 10:06 PM  

@Lewis . . Thank you so much . . I was so enjoying the whole show that I didn't really care that I couldn't hear it, then suddenly I saw them doing the chorus and . .
Well, @LMS, it is a piece of music that has been my favorite since I was a small child. Seeing this today brought tears to this old lady's eyes.

ebtobiassen 11:24 PM  

I almost always think Rex is too harsh and cranky. Not this time. Nowhere near harsh enough. Obscure pandas and rotten clues (why neo-noir? The clue isn't a clue; it could be neo-almost-anything. And teases are beguilers? I don't think that word means what the constructor thinks it means.) I will grudgingly pass accords for grants--fooled me too, but with the rest of it this too seems like dirty (neo) pool. Oh yes, probably I'm missing something, but pale dry doesn't mean medium sweet where I come from. I know sec ain't brut, but dry ain't medium sweet either. (Okay, Canada Dry maybe.) Feh!

puzzlehoarder 11:47 PM  

@ghkozen 5:12, the name ABILENE is one of the town's Johnny Cash sings about in "Wanted Man". That's how I recognized it so easily. The university in the clue I've never heard of.

JC66 11:55 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
JC66 11:58 PM  

I've seen ABILENE clued as the Eisenhower Museum location numerous times over the years.

clk 12:49 AM  

That’s Abilene, Kansas, not Texas.

clk 12:51 AM  

And the Eisenhower library clue seems less obscure to me, though I went there with my Girl Scout troop so I’m not exactly unbiased.

Adam Frank 9:32 AM  

What everyone else said. TIRESOME is a word; BORESOME is not in current use. Hasn't been in decades. ABASE ≠ MORTIFY. DEducED before DECODED (figured it out from DEB).And I knew I ME MINE, which helped in the SW. I saw the big H (I solve on paper and couldn't avoid the note) - which helped me with BEET once i saw EARP(H)ONES and (H)OVEN - but I had to Google BORESOME. I join the hating on the panda clue and PARADOR. As a Grateful Dead fan I'm familiar with ABILENE; once I Googled Hardin-Simmons University and saw it was in Texas the B and terminal E got it for me. But man, this one was no fun at all.

Wade 3:53 PM  

I went to Hardin-Simmons for one semester. The main thing I remember about it is that it's in Abilene.

The joke name for it is Hardened Sinners, by the way. On account of it's a Baptist school.

burtonkd 6:34 PM  

Still having a hard time accepting cot as a nap sack. A sack encloses you - sleeping bag, blanket, Snuggie, hammock, pjs - could make a case for any of these, but not cot, a surface you lie on. May as well answer it as the cold, hard, floor since you could sleep on that, or car seat or tarp or JUST UGH!

Ando 7:29 AM  

A cot is never a sack. Boresome is not a word. I don't get the clue for ISNT and the composer listening device should have been something specific to that composer, and it's HEADPHONES anyway. Lots of crappy bits here.

rondo 12:01 PM  

On the verge of easy (for Friday) for me. Only write-over ERROR was my smoking guN before the BAN. GRABBAR a gimme; anyone not knowing that one needs to climb out from under their rock and check the sunshine from time to time, even if it means 6 more weeks of winter. One could certainly hit the sack for a nap on a COT. ISN’T that right?

Thought more folks might mention the flick Moon over PARADOR.

On a scale of ONETOTEN I’ll give TAMA Janowittz a yeah baby. Har.

But the puz gets a TEN. NOTALOT bad to say about it. The BEETHOVEN/EARPHONES thing was pretty cool. Liked this Fri-puz a TON. More please.

spacecraft 12:38 PM  

Waal, out hyar in the hinterlands we never get them thar notes, yeller or any other color. So this cowboy had to solve a la @Rex--perforce. And solve it I did. Damn! I'm so tough I scare myself!

Many of the clues, as has been pointed out, are off-center to the point of being actually WRONG. Still, I persevered, wedging in with EARP/SPY. Relying heavily on -S and -ED endings, I DECODED the east until I had enough letters to remember {A} DELICATEBALANCE. No, I don't know where that college is either, but with ___LENE I figured it had to be ABILENE. So on to BREADED and the NW; there gimmes ATLANTA and ASTER helped. Had a TON of trouble with the tippees; wanted waiTeRS for a long while and couldn't reconcile with BREADED. SLOPE and NIT finally suggested BETTORS: sure! (First of several aha! moments)

The SW was harder still. Had ALLINONE...what? No idea. On to the "That right introduction" clue. This wording makes no sense unless you put "that right" in quotes and supply the lead-in, the "introduction." Man, that's obfuscating. But once ISNT occurred (aha1 #2), things started to open up. The piercing SITE ought to be either ear or LIP; I was going Occam's Razor with EAR until I hit on SERAPES--which, BTW, people might wear when checking into the symmetrical PARADOR. Finished in the SE when I finally thought of PAYLESS: doh! Been there many times. So, I'm supposed to FLY a proposal, eh? String it on up there and see if the kite-eating tree eats it up? Talk about your off-putting clues!

I did notice, WITHOUT the stupid note, that I had BEET-H-OVEN going across; thought that was kinda cute. However, I confess to missing the EARP-H-ONES part till coming here. I agree headphones should be the answer, but that dog don't hunt in this grid.

Worked so hard at solving (not even a writeover, folks!) that I forgot to look for a DOD. I suppose there are myriad ELENAs who would fill the bill; let's reward actual accomplishment and give it to Justice ELENA Kagan: you go, girl! Obviously the triumph factor in this one breaks the world and Olympic records. Still I can't award an eagle because of the iffy cluing. Birdie.

centralscrewtinizer 2:12 PM  

I actually gloated at getting this challenging puzzle and knowing stuff poor Rex did not. We all have lacunae on our knowledge, but not to know grab bar does grab one.
Still, naticked at ToMA / NOToLOT. Never heard of either. Thought bubkes were some kind of dodo/bozo cross. Still, a happy DNF.

Burma Shave 2:54 PM  

GOPRO, PAYLESS

UNLACED from ABILENE to ATLANTA, ELENA TEASES and ELATEs,
she ISN’T COY with ONES who ASTER, she gets ‘EMBEDS on EDATEs.

--- DEB BASEL-EARP

rainforest 2:55 PM  

Hoo-boy, this was HARD. I started quickly with RETOOL, BAN, and ASTER, and after getting EPEES, and BREADED, things weren't too bad in the NW. I do not know what a/the PARADOR is, and the site of that university was unknown, but I somehow, square-by-square, put the NE to bed.

Muddling around the middle, I eventually had BEET and OVEN on either side of the big H, and so I had an AHA there. The note served as a theme revealer for me in this puzzle. Nothing wrong with that. I like notes.

The most challenging section was the SW, and I had some of it filled in, GEMINIS coming like a bolt out of the blue, and I finished by asking "could this be ERROR? could this be PIERO? could this be BORESOME? could the Panda be MEI Lan?

And so they all were! Literally amazing. I'm proud of myself, and I liked this puzzle.

rainforest 3:24 PM  

Second attempt at commenting, so I'll give you the Cole's Notes version.

The NW came relatively easily with ATLANTA, BAN, RETOOL, and ASTER.

The rest of the puzzle was *challenging*.

Had an AHA when I had BEET and OVEN on either side of the H.

Finished up with educated guesses: PIERO, GOPRO, ERROR, BORESOME, and the biggest get - GEMINIS. Really liked it.

thefogman 3:58 PM  

Done! I agree with Rex. This one was quite challenging. The gimmick was a little thin but I generally enjoyed solving it in spite of the whiteout riot that spilled out all over the grid.
My last entry was GEMINIS. I could not figure it out until I finally solved GOPRO which gave me the G. Then I got it. Coincidentally, Gemini is my zodiac sign, but alas that didn't help much at all (not very quick-witted on my part). BTW, I don't like the all-too-frequent appearance of techy stuff like GOPRO in xwords. I wish Mr. Shortz would expunge such non-words. On a scale of ONETOTEN, I give this a seven.

Note to Rex:
Be like BEET(H)OVEN. Don't be afraid of notes. You'll have NOTALOT of ERRORS while enjoying the DELICATEBALANCE - not unlike a PALEDRY sherry wine. You'll FLY through xwords, without needing to whine or SAAB so much afterwards.

BS2 4:11 PM  

BORESOME GEMINIS

Even a PARADOR key EARPHONES set from ONETOTEN will RELEASE
ABASE line with DELICATEBALANCE STEEPED in BEETHOVEN’s BEETs.

--- PIERO “TBONE” GRANTS

Diana, LIW 7:54 PM  

took forever - dnf - cheated shamelessly.

Lady di

leftcoastTAM 8:15 PM  

Rex said it all. This was brutally bad even for a Friday

strayling 8:23 PM  

Horrid puzzle. Obscure for the sake of it, this one played like a tour through someone's first discovery of a thesaurus.

leftcoastTAM 8:43 PM  

ONE more -- even throwing in ONE TO TEN along with ONES? Even to forgive all-in-ONE-printer? And so much else. Sheesh!

leftcoastTAM 9:20 PM  

@fogman -- In re your Note to Rex: You may be pulling your britches up a little too high.

leftcoastTAM 9:32 PM  

@fogman -- Sorry, the phrase is "getting too big for your britches". (I'm just pulling your leg.)

Anonymous 12:17 PM  

I don't understand FLY as the answer to 59D, Work, as a proposal. Would someone please explain.

thefogman 1:21 PM  

To Anonymous above:

If your idea doesn't FLY then it does not work as a proposal... Or at least I think that's what 59D means.

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