Spiny fish named after bird / FRI 4-13-18 / Layout with little concern for privacy / Many Youtube video upload / Render undrinkable as alcohol / Piece of armor worn over shin

Friday, April 13, 2018

Constructor: Joe Krozel

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium


THEME: none

Word of the Day: SEA RAVEN (43A: Spiny fish named after a bird)
Sea ravens are a family, the Hemitripteridae, of scorpaeniform fish. They are bottom-dwelling fish that feed on small invertebrates, found in the northwest Atlantic and north Pacific Oceans. They are covered in small spines (modified scales). (wikipedia)
• • •

I have been so happy in recent years to see the low-word-count puzzle fade in prominence. They're not just tough (which I don't mind) but the resulting fill is often unpleasant. Stuff like APTERAL  and VETOER and FROE (real examples). For a while there it seemed like a lot of constructors (all men) were in some kind of low-word-count arms race: Look how low mine is! Oh, yeah, well look at mine, it's lower! They became architectural stunts / pissing contests, but solving them? Yeesh, no. No fun. So when I first looked at this one, I wasn't too thrilled, especially since it's *Friday*, which is my fun day—the day when the puzzles are (ideally) reasonably breezy and wildly inventive. Saturdays are supposed to put you through the wringer, but Fridays?! Fridays want to take you to frolic on the beach and then get ice cream. Good ol' Fridays. Anyway, this Friday didn't look at all like what I wanted, but it was very doable, and ended up being far less painful than I'd feared at the outset. Not a fan of the highly-segmented, four-in-one type puzzle—the quadragon—because you have to get new traction in each quadrant. You better slide through the narrow opening into each quadrant or Good Luck. Today, the sliding was not hard. Well, 3/4 not hard... we'll talk about ZIPPERED later.


1A: One talking a blue streak? (CUSSER)—that's a good clue, but it's also the last thing I got up there. I thought maybe STYLER (as in, your hair STYLER (?) might "talk" to you about getting a "blue streak" ... in your hair?), and that was absurd but the -ER did suggest RESOLE (the first thing in the grid) (6D: Do some cobbling work on). Then I got lucky—my sister drives a Dodge DURANGO. Or she did. Not sure if her latest SUV is still a Durango, but that hardly matters to you. What matters is she loved the original Durango and talked about it affectionately and drove it into the ground, so while I don't know all the SUV models out there, DURANGOS, I know. From that, got the -UP at the end of STORES UP, and the MORE at the end of TAKE MORE. Then PENTA. So that corner was pretty much taken care of.

[PENTAgram]

Then took HOW SO into the SW. Actually, I might've thrown GAZELLES across, then dropped ZIP down, then put SIP at the end of HAVE A SIP (which I thought was SMALL SIP at first), but it's HOW SO that really propelled me into that corner. Very proud that I got WEASELED off just the "W" and threw BOREAL (!) across off just the "A"—finally, teaching poetry for umpteen thousand years pays off! This corner ended up being the easiest by far. I remember very clearly adding RONDA and ROUSEY to my crossword wordlist, so she was a gimme. Only SALE DAYS (?) proved at all eely. NE might've been very tough but I got ACQUIRED / TASTES off just the -ED in ACQUIRED (7D: With 12-Down, blue cheese and black coffee, typically). Also, QUINNS would've been a gimme anyway, and probably ROBLES too. Took a little time to give sideeye to UNNAILED (?) but got out of that corner in pretty good time, which left only the SE ... sigh.

[UMLAUT]

So for some reason I could not come up with the letters that followed ZIP at 26D: Like many coats with liners (ZIPPERED). We had recently seen ZIP-ON, I think, and so I went looking for some kind of compound word. I even considered ZIPPABLE (what the ...?). Finally just dove into the corner blind and lucked onto EARN IT (36D: Deserve something through hard work), and then immediately double-lucked onto DIVE BAR (49A: Seedy establishment). As with WEASELED, I couldn't believe my first guess ended up being the right guess. Also, I knew GREAVE! Somehow! Total D'oh! moment when ZIPPERED finally fell in, and, well, Quoth the SEA RAVEN, "There's no more!" ... puzzle to solve. Finished. Not my favorite kind of Friday puzz, but doable and enjoyable nonetheless. Huge applause for 20A: High points? (UMLAUT). That is a hell of a clue. Super wordplay, plus the fake plural? Mwah! Good stuff.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]

104 comments:

Forsythia 6:19 AM  

SE was a killer for me. I thought it impossible that IVTUBE could be the answer since YouTube was part of a clue. And MPEG isn't in my wheelhouse or SEARAVEN. And while I know DIVE as a seedy establishment, the BAR part seemed redundant. And GREAVE!! Natick upon Natick.

Loren Muse Smith 6:28 AM  

Yeah we’ve established here that lots of people don’t care for stunt puzzles. I’m not one of them. Rex – I loved your write-up this morning.

I see a grid like this with Joe’s name at the top (surprise, surprise) and settle in for a fight. This one didn’t disappoint. The four puzzles here all have something to offer: MESS TENT, DRUM ROLL, ACQUIRED TASTE (in the same quadrant!), OVERDOSE, HARANGUE (great word), WEASELED, MPEG FILE, DIVE BAR…

My daughter recently texted that Nana had served a lemon merengue (sic) pie. She sent *meringue in an immediate text amendment. I couldn’t let it go and kept referring to it as a lemon harangue pie.

“Render undrinkable, as alcohol” – where do you even start with that? I had a boyfriend in high school whose mom added Sweet’n Low to her red wine. Hi, Brad. And I guess you could argue that bartenders who’re heavy-handed with the vermouth render Bombay undrinkable.

I really liked the little mini tableau of offering someone something: Here, HAVE A SIP. Don’t like it? TAKE MORE - it’s an ACQUIRED TASTE. My go-to drink at school is seltzer, and I now keep little tiny Dixie cups for students to try it. They’re fascinated by the idea of just plain old water with gas, as the Germans say. 9 out of 10 hate it. Hate it.

And speaking of Germans, how ‘bout that UMLAUT?! UMLAUT actually describes a vowel movement, and this is indicated by those two little dots (or an “e” after the embattled vowel: München or Muenchen). I’ll pause while you write this down. The guy who was tasked with creating the German plural formations went ham and ended up with a system that rivals the US Tax Code. UMLAUT plays a big part there.

ein Wurst / zwei Würste
eine Tochter / drei Töchter
ein Maus / fünf Maüser

The guy was fearless.

(One little thing to add to your notes here - the two dots in our language focus on vowels, too, but only to alert the reader that the two side-by-side vowels are not a diphthong or some such as it would appear but rather two separate sounds. So our naïve doesn’t rhyme with waive. Those two dots are called a diaeresis, named after the Greek god Diaereses – god of separate vowel sounds.)

TGIF. Great pangram stunt feat, Joe.

PS - @M&A - were you thinking "sea pewit" first, too?

Alexander 6:41 AM  

I flew through this one! My best time ever for a Friday (25m) which is twice as fast as usual, when I’m able to solve them.

Not sure why exactly, but I just connected well with this one; though having only 6 proper nouns certainly helped.

Two Ponies 6:52 AM  

Too easy but I did enjoy the lively vocabulary.
Greave is some hard core old school crosswordese.
Curser or cusser? Sparse or scarce? Tricky.

What are you going on about with your rant about low-word-count Rex?
Throwing in a little jab about (all men) being to blame about some imaginary masculine competition? Living too long in the sheltered world of academe has brain-washed you. Having Ronda Rousey in the grid isn't good enough? You've gone full Soy Boy.

Lewis 6:58 AM  

I looked at the gorgeous grid and thought, "Say it isn't so, Joe!" Four minis, with nothing smaller than five letters. I, who usually build my solve on the smaller words, quaked at what spread before me. So I dipped my toe into the NW, and, while I didn't SMOKE it, it relented. The NE, however, stood its ground, no DRUM ROLLS there. "Hah!," said Inner Insecurity, "You're going to need to Google; you're not going to cut it this time."

I sidled to the SW, and while ScARcE instead of SPARSE held me up for a bit, I pulled an at-her-best ROUSEY, knocked one word out after another, and moved to the SE, where HAVEASIP gave me IMSAD, and ZIPPERED, followed by ARRESTED and the rest, but I was still hooked up to an IVTUBE and not out of the woods yet, for the formidable NE, but the Z (from ZIPPERED) was my savior (I pictured Joe in a Superman outfit, except with a big Z on his chest instead of an S), because it gave me GAZELLE, then came IDLED and the cheese and coffee answer, and with a big laugh at the clue for UMLAUT, I was genuinely excited at the prospect of WEASELING out of this thing and shutting up my HARANGUING fears.

And my "Say it isn't so" turned into a "Will you please do this again, Joe?" Great journey, great puzzle, great appreciation, Dr. K!

Hungry Mother 7:05 AM  

SMOKED it!

RJ 7:12 AM  

Another fun puzzle this week....I don't know if my heart can take it!

DENATUREd alcohol...the attempt to discourage the sale of untaxed ethyl alcohol by adding methanol and making it deadly. Not working for over 100 years.

Thanks @LorenMuseSmith for explaining the umlaut. My husband (German born, immigrated when he was 5) did not realize that the umlaut made things plural. Spelling is not his thing, either in English or German.

A truly enjoyable Friday.



kitshef 7:23 AM  

CUrSER went right in at 1A, which worked well on so many crosses it just had to be right. Took a long time to switch to CUSSER.

Didn’t particularly enjoy this for a few reasons. Certainly the lack of connectivity was an issue, as was how many two-word phrases it had. But the thing that really tipped the scales was the number of -ED words: UNMIXED, IDLED, TENDED, ARRESTED, WEASELED, ZIPPERED, ACQUIRED, UNNAILED.

“No one would be likely to confuse a sea raven with any other sculpin … It is stouter bodied than our other common sculpins, about three and three-fourths times as long as it is deep (counting caudal fin)”.

Theodore Stamos 7:35 AM  

It's not clear to me why the clue on 1A requires a question mark. (One talking a blue streak?). Feels to me like the answer relates to the clue in a straightforward way.

Geometricus 7:39 AM  

Before starting, I showed the grid to my wife last night: “nice, eh?” She, non-plussed, uttered “what, the puzzle has never looked like that before?” The open grid, lack of black squares, low word count, four-separate-puzzles-thing failed to impress. I dove in, determined to take her “a puzzle is a puzzle”-attitude and solve this thing.

I ended up with a time 20% less than I usually get on Fridays.

But for me, the NE with its ACQUIRED TASTE was the last to fall, but I thought shoulda gotten it earlier once I saw it.

@LMS, really appreciate the German lesson. I’m on a 12-day streak learning German using Duolingo, and having lotsa fun.

The goddess Diaeresis must be worshipped by Russian choral singers who hymn her with Al-le-lu-EE-ahs.

Off to substitute teach now that I lost my regular gig.

DeeJay 7:45 AM  

I had SEA ROBIN forever.

Glimmerglass 7:45 AM  

“Medium” for me, not “easy.” I got hung up for a time on a different sculpin, SEARobiN, common in New England, also spiny. We don’t have SEA RAVENs. Further, I put two Ns in DURANnGO, missing the plural. I finally caught my mistake with ZIPPERED, which gave GAZELLES (btw, it’s the liner that’s zippered, not the coat). Good write-up today, @Rex. In general, I’m more interested in your logic than your outrage.

Kodak Jenkins 7:54 AM  

Easy! At least 1/2 my normal Friday time at 20 minutes and shoot-I still haven't finished yesterday's puzzle after logging 70 minutes.

Also not a fan of quadragons but this one was really fun. I had not seen many of the answers in recent memory or ever (QUINNS, SEARAVEN, GREAVE).

A few combos I'm not so sure about. Most of my hoodies, jackets and coats are ZIPPERED regardless of how many liners they have. SALEDAYS just doesn't sound right, ditto UNNAILED. And why have ACQUIRED TASTES as the only double answered clue? Seems random. But these are small offenses for a puzzle without any annoying little fill answers like ABS, SRA, NGO, HWY, CIA (see Wednesday).

Ok, back to Thursday!

Suzie Q 8:00 AM  

The grid pattern looks like windmill to me. Lots of wind but not much mill but I jumped in anyway. I'm glad I did.
That fish had me stumped for awhile. Isn't there an aquarium fish with peacock in its name?
It always throws me when a country like Angola is clued with OPEC because, of course, I'm falling for the Mideast misdirect. Another misdirect that turned out not to be one was Seedy Establishment. Being Friday and all that I went so far as to think maybe a nursery or some plant store connection. Sigh, trying too hard I guess. Then, the clue with blue cheese and black coffee made me wonder if they were two of those headache triggers. See? Trying too hard.
Sometimes I'm my own worst enemy.

smoss11 8:03 AM  

Really enjoyed your comments. Diaereses- as in two monkeys, right?

John Child 8:04 AM  

Let’s hope m&a gives us four gruntz today in honor of this quad. Too easy, but there is pleasure in blowing through a Friday puzzle.

I’ve been led to believe from an unimpeachable source that puzzles with no long answers don’t interest the editor, but the - count ‘em - 20 eight-letter slots here were mostly fun. (UNNAILED AND OVERDOSE, I’m looking at you sideways.)

Sharon 8:11 AM  

Is b-star a proper noun? If not, I count only five.

pabloinnh 8:12 AM  

This was in the "Gee, all my hunches came true" department, which made it lots of fun and really fast.

My only quibble is UNNAILED.

"Oh oh, the siding is unnailed. I'd better get busy. Looks like it might need some more green paint too."

Don't think so.

'mericans in Paris 8:14 AM  

My first thought when opening the page to the puzzle was, hmm, a Fylfot! (See second example on the page.) Actually, not's not entirely true. My first thought was, "Is that grid designed like some kind of swastika?!" But I looked it up, and of that genre, the particular, counter-clockwise design seems to be closest to a Fylfot. So now you know.

Mrs. 'mericans arose before I did this morning, and managed to complete the SW, plus GAZELLES. I then promptly filled in the SE. I knew DENATURE after my having spent a couple of years as a prominent critic of policies to promote fuel ethanol. (Don't get me started on flex-fuel DURANGOs.) In that case, the DENATURant is gasoline, not methanol. I don't think there's much illicit drinking of that MIXED drink taking place. Nice to see the almost perfect symmetry in the puzzle between UNMIXED and DENATURE(d).

Mrs. 'mericans had also entered MESShall in the NW and nasils in the NE, so that slowed down completion of those quadrants. But once I got CUSTOM and CUSSER in the NW and guessed at UNNAILED (ugh!) and ACQUIRED TASTES in the NE, the rest fell into place quickly. We got the happy pencil jingle at just over one hour, which is around normal for a Friday for us.

OPEN-PLAN offices are the pits, unless you work in a field that requires a lot of vocal brainstorming. Otherwise the effect is just the opposite: everybody tries to be as quiet as a mOUSEY.

Loved yesterday's puzzle, too, but finished it (with Mrs. 'merican's GWTW knowledge helping to complete it). Expected to see @chefwen extolling its virtues: she got her usual wish, plus a nice Hawaiian clue.

QuasiMojo 8:17 AM  

After about seven minutes I barely had a toe-hold in the top left corner. But then miraculously, for me, I quickly got "Acquired Tastes" (which I loved) and I was done in another eight! As I've said before, I love themeless puzzles and miss seeing them more regular like, if you catch my drift.

I had worried we'd be EXEMPT from a "Friday the 13th" theme somewhere and maybe we did get one, but only in subtext: Do not ADJUST your screens! Cue DRUMROLL. This MPEG FILE reveals SIRENS that UNTAPE the bandages FASTENing their CRANIA together, exposing their SINUSES, while B STARS in the DIVE BAR say TAKE MORE, HAVE A SIP and a few SMOKES, while they LEER AT the young GAZELLES they WEASELED in, still UNNAILED in their ZIPPERED bodybags, yet IDLED from an OVERDOSE via an IV TUBE of UNMIXED DENATUREd alcohol. "I RAISE the dead," one HARANGUEd. Should they be ARRESTED for a JAILABLE offense? Torn apart at the limbs by STEEDS? HOPE SO! They will EARN IT. Acquired Tastes indeed! Time to GREAVE.

Gretchen 8:19 AM  

Too east for Friday

Sir Hillary 8:21 AM  

I opened the paper and was prepared to hate this one. In the past, I have not liked many of JK's puzzles, particularly in what seemed like his heavy stunt-puzzle phase a few years ago (low word count, fewest black squares, etc.).

Make no mistake, this is an über-stunt puzzle -- a 56-word pangram for heaven's sake. But it's also a very good one. I am mildly UNhappy at the iffy UN____ trilogy, but otherwise the grid is remarkably devoid of garbage, a real achievement given the constraints. It was really fun to solve.

We had a DURANGO about 15 years ago and liked it. My favorite entries are DRUMROLL and JAILABLE, though -- and right next to each other.

I wouldn't want one of these every Friday, but this is my all-time favorite Krozel puzzle by a mile and an excellent Friday puzzle, period.

Sharon 8:24 AM  

English has similar vowel movement in words like:
One man - two men
One mouse - two mice
One foot- two feet
One goose - two geese
And don’t get me started on crazy English plurals!

ghthree 8:25 AM  

37D reminded me of the following lines from Princess Ida, sung by a warrior
who is shedding his armor before battle:

These things I treat the same.
I quite forget their name.
They turn one's legs
To Cribbage pegs
Their aid I thus disclaim!

During breakfast (when my wife Jane and I solve together on paper) I sang these lines to her. Together, we basked in fond memories of our college years with Gilbert and Sullivan. It did nothing to help us solve.

This is the only one of the four quadrants that we actually got, helped by DENATURE, which was a gimme. We remember DENATUREd alcohol as antifreeze and fuel. Nowadays, these concoctions are replaced by more complicated molecules. We were DNF in the other three.

When I first saw the grid, it reminded me of a swastika. But if it had been a real swastika, the center would have been solid black, which would have completely isolated the four sub-problems. Any significance in this? Probably not. The mind looks for associations, and tends to find them even when they don't exist.

Happy Friday, the thirteenth!

Alexander 8:35 AM  

I’m including:

QUINNS
ROBLES
ANGOLA
ROUSEY
DURANGOS
ENDERS

Oscar W 8:38 AM  

ACQUIRED TASTES are the only ones worth having.

Chris 8:48 AM  

SMOKED this one in under 8 minutes, a new Friday best. Everything just seemed to fall into place.

@ Theodore: “Talk a blue streak” is an actual phrase that means a long, uninterrupted stream of chatter. Doesn’t have to relate to cursing at all.

Trombone Tom 8:50 AM  

This was a formidable appearing grid, but flowed smoothly until I hit the NE and decided to put the puzzle away and retire.

I'm guess Joe Krozel is an ACQUIRED TASTE, because that jumped out at me this morning. However I don't much care for NAILABLE.

ROBLES is a gimme for a Californian. Then vineyard acreage around "Paso" has grown exponentially in recent decades.

Never heard of a SEARAVEN. The things we learn (and often soon forget) in the Xword World!

FLAC 8:50 AM  

Lots of decorative umlauts in heavy metal land: Husker Du, Motley Crue, Blue Oyster Cult, Motorhead, etc. The more Teutonic-looking, the scarier, I guess. (My computer doesn't do diacrits, so you'll have to trust me.)

And lots of gimmes in the puzzle, which made the grid far less daunting than it appeared at first glance.

Z 9:10 AM  

@LMS - Are you sure? I thought Diaereses was the Goddess of Vowel Movements. A real regular sort of gal. Mess with her and it’s the runs for the rest of the day.

I got a real chuckle out of 37D. It opened the SE for me for an odd synchronicity of reasons. My trivia team was defending our three-peat Tuesday night and failed by one. In the homonym speed round we got “grieve” but misspelt GREAVE as “greve.” One of my teammates knew the word but not the spelling. If we had gotten that one right we’d have gotten into a tie-breaker and the chance to quad-peat. Seeing the clue three days later in the NYTX was an actual laugh out loud moment. If it weren’t for learning GREAVE at bar trivia that SE corner might have whupped me.

I circled 34D. Random letter stars are never welcome. Here, it felt a little like cheating. Mostly, though, Krozel pulls this off with minimal dreck. JAILABLE would seem iffier if it weren’t for our current political zeitgeist. Paso ROBLES is a place I think I saw in a crossword once or twice before. I seem to recall ENDER’S Game giving people fits in the past, but apparently not so much anymore.

As for PPP, I see
Aidan and Anthony QUINNS
ANGOLA
Rhonda ROUSEY
Dodge DURANGO
ENDER’S Game

Five out of 56 is really really low. I don’t recall ever being below 20%, let alone below 10%. Kudos.

TomAz 9:21 AM  

@FLAC, 8:50am: Husker Du heavy metal? Grant Hart is rolling over in his grave.

I thought this puzzle was a hoot and a holler. Finishing a Friday 25% under average time and not wincing much was fun. So many cool answers. (I do wish I could unsee UNNAILED though.)

SW went first, then NE, NW, and SE was last. I dropped in 'faucet' for IVTUBE and that threw me off for a while.

Z 9:22 AM  

@Alexander - Heck, I even mentioned Paso ROBLES and then totally missed it when I went back to count. 6 out of 56 is still really really low, but the 10% barrier remains intact.

@Two Ponies - Maybe it is just different life experiences, but Rex’s comments on dudes getting into a low-word count pissing contest just rang too true here. Something too many men (and some women, but not nearly as many) have to learn is when you get in a pissing contest everyone ends up smelling like urine.

Anonymous 9:27 AM  

Cusser? Even my white trash, northern Appalachian upbringing didn't get me there. And it's been way too long since I changed a diaper to remember that involve tape. Has anyone ever said, "Wait a sec, I need to untape this diaper." And I've heard open floor plan but never, "It has a lovely open plan."

So the NW mini puzzle was painful.

But the other three were a joy!

Bagelboy 9:34 AM  

I'm about 50/50 on finishing fridays and got this one in a good time for me. Northeast corner was the hard one for me, even though i knew QUINNS. Harder since I originally had GIRAFFES before GAZELLES, which was a problem.

johnny stocker 9:38 AM  

I don't know what it was, but I smashed my Friday record by nearly 2 minutes today-5:45. Everything was just going down smooth as silk. Good stuff.

mike colt 9:45 AM  

Agree
To easy for Friday.

Nancy 9:51 AM  

Never heard of DENATURE, so I just looked it up. What???? You're doing what to my liquor??? You're making it...poisonous? Deliberately? Because you don't want me to TAKE MORE than I should? You don't like it when someone STORES UP wine by the case? You only want me to HAVE A SIP? No, not even that much? Well, I'M SAD and all I can say is I certainly HOPE NOT! I want my libations UNMIXED with ethanol-laced swill when I RAISE my glass. Whaddya think this is -- a DIVE BAR? You should TAKE MORE interest in the epidemic of drug OVERDOSE deaths in the US and make us drinkers EXEMPT from your less than OPEN PLAN. In fact, you should all be ARRESTED! Damn you! Damn! And now you've turned me into a CUSSER as well as a drinker!

Oh, the puzzle. Very, very easy except for the SE. (Where DENATURE lurks.)

mathgent 9:51 AM  

Be careful what you wish for. That's what I was thinking while is was struggling in the NE. After years of complaining about crosswords with too many Terrible Threes, this one didn't have a single one, AND I WASN'T GOING TO BE ABLE TO SOLVE IT!

But after I got NE, the rest fell into place rather easily.

Enjoyed Rex's witty comment very much.

I

Anonymous 9:55 AM  

Great puzzle Mr. Krozel. I was sure it was sea robin, so that corner took me forever. Unnnailed was beneath you, but everything else was superb. Thank you

Nice humble brag Z. I mean, are you that desperate that you're crowing about a local trivia contest? Why not say grieve came up the other night, but none of us could spell it.

Anonymous 10:02 AM  

@Anon 9:27 - You're the first person in the history of the universe to start a sentence with "And it's been way too long since I changed a diaper", even if it is to express the time span to explain something away.

Mohair Sam 10:04 AM  

Mostly what Rex said, except I kinda like a low word count puzzle every now and then. Expected a struggle, but not so much - like many of you my first inclination was right on most clues. And of course your sister's DURANGO matters to us Rex, how could you think otherwise?

All these years I thought she was Ronda Rowdey, that held us up a little. Just like @Z's buddy we know GREAVE only phonetically and risked the "I before E" rule and went for "A". Anybody else notice that I before E always works when you don't need it, and never when you do? Puzzle Partner thought of the Aurora BOREALis or we would have lost the random letter STAR game.

Been here too long - every time I see a word like UMLAUT I think of @M&A.

@Loren - Your German lesson cracked us up here.

@Z - Read your first paragraph over breakfast, thanks a lot.

michiganman 10:16 AM  

Good puzzle with 3 uglies: UNNAILED, JAILABLE, DIVEBAR. I had trouble with ZIP____, too. Considered offon, onoff, and ables. Had sailor (1A) then CUrSER before CUSSER. Today's vocabulary builders: GREAVE and SEARAVEN, not that I'm likely to use them. Just hope I can remember for future xwords.

Stanley Hudson 10:19 AM  

Is logorrhea diaeresis of the mouth?

Urban Dictionary definition of UNNAILED: a gal who won’t let you get past first base.

Huskier Du wasn’t heavy metal.

Steve M 10:26 AM  

Best puzzle in many moons!

Cory Calhoun 10:29 AM  

This may be the first puzzle in a long time that Rex liked overall and the review over at Diary of a Crossword Fiend uniformly did not!

Freaky Friday? Friday the 13th?

Yes.

Nancy 10:29 AM  

Especially funny comments from @pabloinnh (8:12), @Oscar W (8:38), and @Anon 10:02.

@OISK -- It looks like we have another G&S maven in @ghthree (8:25).

@Loren -- Just how many languages do you speak, anyway????

Since so many of us here like challenging puzzles, I'm not quite sure why low word count puzzles seem to be the exception and engender so much vitriol. FWIW, they simply represent a different kind of challenge to me and I generally enjoy them as much as any other kind of challenging puzzle. Yes, sometimes they can be frustrating, but isn't that true of all kinds of difficult puzzles, not just this kind?

Anonymous 10:30 AM  

Wow.

Record time wow.

7 1/2 minutes below Friday average wow.

Faster than every average other than Monday wow.

As in, I now have a faster Friday than Thursday, wow.

GILL I. 10:40 AM  

@Nancy...HILARIOUS..Seriously, girl - made my morning. Too bad OPEN PLAN wasn't OPEN BAR!
@Rex...Your blue streak in your hair also made me laugh. STYLER indeed. Had Joe used that for an answer, I think I would have enjoyed this a tad more. As it is, I think I'm in the @ketshef camp. I kinda got tired of the ED's and all the things ending in S. I did like this pangram; it wasn't obvious nor too tedious. I just kept thinking that the cluing was uneventful.
I guess when I got to UNNAILED sharing a seat with JAILABLE I began the uh oh train. ACQUIRED TASTE gave me a needed boost and GAZELLE finally put the cherry on top. Speaking of coffee and ACQUIRED TASTE...so true. Not so much with blue/bleu cheese. I didn't start drinking coffee until my 20's and hated it. I was in Spain at the time and their coffee was really strong but that changed when I saw all the campesinos put some Fundador into the mix. My that's good. I'm only a one cup in the morning sort of gal but it has to be Peet's Italian Roast. None of the Folger's mud.
Liked the UNLAUT clue the best and @Loren's explanation. I don't know any German but spouse speaks it. I'll have to show him your comment.
In a poker challenge do you really say I RAISE. Don't you have to add something to it like YOU at the end?
Remember the buggers in ENDERS Game? That's what I look like at the moment. Must go take my shower.

GHarris 10:51 AM  

Often surprised at how quickly I am able to fill in the NW of a puzzle where, invariably,I begin my solving ( although today I had to change curser and mess hall and reshoe to resole). However, unlike Rex, who has written that a good start in that quadrant usually insures an easy ride,I find little relationship to solving the balance of the puzzle. Today was no exception. Needed to work hard in other quadrants but, glory be, got it all done and feel really good about it.

Amelia 11:16 AM  

Rex nailed it with one sentence. Exactly what I was feeling. I, too, could not believe that my first answer was always the right one. Don't get me wrong, I liked the puzzle, but because of that, I felt it was a little too easy. The only exception, oddly, was the first. Of course, I had curser. Damn.

Umlaut. One of the best clues/answers ever.

I drink my coffee black and like blue cheese. No acquisition for me.



Charles Flaster 11:22 AM  

Easy and enjoyable.
One writeover with MESS TENT for MESS hall.
HARANGUE is a favorite of mine.
Coincidence from beyond: UMLAUT was last word filled in for today’s puzzle and was also the last word needed to complete the Spelling Bee section in the NYT variety section from this coming Sunday.
Anyway, thanks JK.

Cassieopia 11:23 AM  

@Hungry Mother me too! Best Friday time ever.

old timer 11:38 AM  

Definitely Easy for a Friday. Helped that I guessed ZIPPERED right away, and GAZELLES, and knew it had to be STEEDS instead of ponies. Actually the Rough Riders brought their own working horses, I think, or some of them did.

I UNTAPEd many a poopy diaper back in the day, so no problem there. Took a while to find ANGOLA. Had "scarce" before SPARSE. Had ROBLES right away, being a Californian.

My nit to pick here is that most offenses above the level of a parking ticket or a minor driving offense are JAILABLE. A serious offense is one that can send you to prison, not just jail, though even those offenses are usually bAILABLE.

@LMS made me think of "The Awful German Language" by Mark Twain.

Oh, and Husker Du, with an umlaut somewhere, is a simple matching game for children. When I first met my wife's (then) youngest niece, I played it with her. She was maybe 3. Or certainly no older than five, and SMOKED me.

Unknown 11:48 AM  

+ Robles

Lewis 11:52 AM  

@johnchild -- Believe it or not, OVERDOSE is a debut!

Bob Mills 11:53 AM  

Got everything except the MPEGFILE cross with GREAVE. What is an MPEGFILE? And why would many people upload it?

Paul Rippey 11:53 AM  

Good puzzle, good write up. That’s enough about crosswords. Let’s raise consciousnesses now!

Here’s a rule that @Rex might consider: Before making a gratuitous reference to males or to white people, ask yourself if you would make a similar gratuitous reference to women or to people of color. For instance, would you say, “For a while there it seemed like a lot of constructors (all women) were in some kind of [add whatever bad thing comes to mind].”? If you wouldn’t say it about women, then don’t say it about men.

Carola 11:54 AM  

A nicely challenging Friday for me. Got my start with QUINNS x crIminal (soon nixed by GAZELLES), ended with MPEG FILE after correcting pEER AT to LEER AT. Also went temporarily wrong with MESS hall.
With 2-word lines, I'm always tempted to look for phrases. Today the only one that really worked was SIRENS OVERDOSE (my experience in New York City hotels), but I also liked trying to envision UNMIXED CRANIA.

Z 11:54 AM  

@Nancy re Low Word Count Puzzles - The vitriol is not for the challenge, but for the dreck that the constructor inflicts on the solver in order to get a low word count. I think this is my standard complaint for any puzzle I label a "stunt puzzle," just because it is a construction feat does not make it a good puzzle. Even today, better than many, has the -ED issue that's been noted. Thankfully, the pangram element was achieved pain free.

@Charles Flaster - Seriously? You were so eager to post a spoiler that you did it twice?

@Anon9:55 - Har. It's Bar Trivia. Not sure why you would think mentioning winning at bar trivia would be considered bragging, but it's bar trivia. Trivia. As in trivial knowledge, you know, like knowing the word for a knight's shin guard. If I were going to brag about anything, humbly or otherwise, it is far more likely to be about ruining @Mohair Sam's breakfast than having acquired a lot of otherwise useless information.

Calman Snoffelevich 11:54 AM  

Easiest Friday ever, and probably somewhere between Wednesday and Thursday dificulty.

Kath320 11:55 AM  

The clue at 7D - Blue cheese and black coffee - made me think about those two things being mixed together and UGH! Can't get the image out of my mind! Thanks, NYT!

Master Melvin 11:59 AM  

SEA ROBIN held me up for a long time. Never heard of a SEA RAVEN. Like other northeasterners I've caught about a thousand SEA ROBINS while fluke fishing. They are so-called cuz they have the same brown-red coloring as the bird, and their large pectoral fins look like wings. When unhooking them you have be careful of the spines. So they fit the clue perfectly.

Aketi 12:02 PM  

@nancy, loved your DENATURED rant.
@LMS, thx for the lesson on UMLAUTs.

I took one look at the pinwheel shape and smiled. Then discovered the queen of the arm bar in the puzzle. I love armbars.

Anonymous 12:04 PM  

Yesterday, Z revealed his age, a year younger than me. Up to then, based only on his posts, I had a mental image of a full thirty years older than that. Still can't picture it.

Masked and Anonymous 12:08 PM  

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly…

The Good:
* Incredible construction. Reminds M&A of havin four Desperate Word Square (™) runtpuzs to solve.
* Nine U's. UMLAUT! (yo, @Mohair Sam … U haven't been here too long, dude; U just read some questionable commentaries) Great UMLAUT clue, as @RP already mwah-ed about.
* Ow de Speration. faves, by Word Square: NW = UNTAPE. NE = UNNAILED. SW = BSTARS. SE = ENDERS.
* Cool grid layout, with all kinds of symmetry, except for the East-West one.

The Bad:
* Too eazy-E for a FriPuz, by just a smidge. Gained precious nanoseconds. Expected more biter-challenge, when I saw the (spinnable anyhoo's way) grid.
* Zero weejects. staff picks: ZIP. DEE. DOO. DAH. This has gotta be a record. Unless one can have -1 weejects -- a kinda cool concept for a runtpuz, btw.

The Ugly:
* The alarmin image raised by @muse darlin, re: a possible SEAPEWIT entry.
* Pangram meat. Normally, this would be impressive in a grid like this. Almost was, this time, except for scorin that "Y" offa ROUSEY/SALEDAYS. har

Thanx, Mr. Krozel. The Good list wins … thUmbsUp.

Masked & Anonymo9Us


dessert (Whoa! -- just one serving, @John Child):
**gruntz**

Aketi 12:08 PM  

@Z, can’t help myself. The first thing that thought that entered my mind when I read the last sentence of your 9:22 am post was “Not if you wore a rain coat, rain hat and googles”. Protective gear is always helpful in combat.

TJS 12:40 PM  

I am amazed at how often I anticipate the comments of Rex and the regulars here will be one way and they are diametrically opposite. I thought for sure that the majority would savage this one as being way too easy for a Friday and yet the majority are complimentary. The only quarter I even slowed down for was Northeast. This felt more like a Wednesday at best for me. Oh well.

James Pratt 12:47 PM  

This one started out tough. Halfway through, I was worried I'd DNF. I couldn't make headway in the north, so I ended up working up from the south. ROUSEY and GREAVE were my toehold gimmes in each quadrant. Southwest was the first to fall for me. Like others, sussing out whether the puzzle is going for SPARSE or ScARcE has become taxing, so I tend to leave the conflict spaces blank. In this case, WEASELED helped to make the choice for me. Had to fight my way around the Southeast after GREAVE, but eventually it fell. Working up from GAZELLES, I got JAILABLE, and the rest of that section fell quickly.

In the Northwest, I started with PENTA and MESShall (which DURANGOS quickly righted). Figured the diaper answer had to be UN____-something, but those letters didn't really help much. The X was the last to fall.

Mark 12:55 PM  

"High points" is indeed a nice clue, but we had it already in January as "Some high points of Mötley Crüe?"

TubaDon 1:11 PM  

I just came out of a 90 minute root canal so when I saw the grid not only my mouth but my brain went numb! Luckily when I took up my pencil I breezed through the west, and had only a mild delay in the NE because I danced with Paso DOBLES at first. The SE was a little tougher since I started with ZIPPEDUP, but I finally got DENATURE of the corner and made it to the ENDERS.

Chip Hilton 1:12 PM  

I flew through this, by my standards. A nice accompaniment to a quick tuna sandwich lunch break while I paint the sunroom.

My problem corner was the southeast. MPEGFILE crossing GREAVE had me running through the alphabet, searching for the correct consonant. Should’ve been quicker to see the PEG segment.

Loved UMLAUT. Danke, Frau Bischoff, for beating your head against the wall trying to teach me German all those decades ago.

Teedmn 1:14 PM  

This started out so easy that I suspected it might be a Robyn Weintraub Friday (Hi Robyn, nice to have met you at the ACPT!) but not today. I needed a few ahas to get the NE and SE but they didn't make me wait too long so it was a 13:49 Friday, below my average of approx. 17.

UM___T - even with that in place, I couldn't get away from thoughts of mountains as "high points". When I finally connected the dots, it was nearly head-slap time. Down in the SE, remembering ENDER'S Game broke that open, though the N ENDing of 43A had me thinking of heroNs. And I really wanted 49A to be a misdirection for seed companies or nurseries or some gardening establishment but it wasn't to be. BSTARS saved me from miNDED at 44A in the SW.

Just the right amount of crunch for Friday, so thanks, Joe.

Teedmn 1:27 PM  

While @Quasi felt this puzzle had a dark sub-theme, I think @Nancy found the true [DE]NATURE of it - alcohol poisoning. Nice riffs, both of you.

And @LMS, I love your daughter's new dance, the lemon merengue!

phil phil 1:28 PM  

@Alexander my best too just under 25 too.

Thought the clues were straightforward. I just didn’t find them a problem.

But not long ago another constructor published UMLAUT as the high points for a rock band, playing off the Motley Crüe. So that made that one a drop in.

Charley 1:38 PM  

I worked in criminal justice. Never heard anyone say jailable.

FrankStein 2:27 PM  

Marmite is an acquired taste. But black coffee?

Anonymous 2:42 PM  

My average in a Friday is 29 minutes and I did this one in 15:01. Best time ever. Good time for a Tuesday for me. Maybe I just had a psychic connection with the constructor. Big fan of Enders Game and got Zippered with just the Z. Who knows why sometimes things fall your way?

jberg 3:20 PM  

Yeah, sort of fun, but way too easy. I did have CUrSER, Od victim before OVERDOSE, and of course SEA RobiN -- but they all got fixed pretty quick. I didn't even notice the pangram.

@Two onies, don't forget Scanty!

I'm gonna give up trying to be clever; I read the comments trying to think of diaereses jokes, but @Z's were so much better. Only why is he Janus-faced? That would seem more appropriate for the god of dipthongs.

@Nancy, they denature it in order to evade the tax on pure ethanol. That's why rubbing alcohol is so much cheaper than gin.

kitshef 3:32 PM  

@FrankStein - I'm with you 100%. Black coffee is simply undrinkable and no amount mithridatism can overcome that.

Hungry Mother 4:11 PM  

When a Chem major, I worked a summer and two semesters in the chem storeroom. When I was on by myself at night, I used to supply my buddies with 10 ml beakers filled with 90% alcohol. The bottle was marked “denatured”, but I knew that it wasn’t. I’ve caught many sea robins when fluke fishing in South Jersey, but didn’t think to write it in. I got SEARAVEN as soon as I saw the “V”.

Anonymous 4:17 PM  

MPEG stands for Motion Picture Experts Group and is a video file format which is used for storing and compressing videos on the computer. Quite a few people upload them to YouTube, Facebook, etc.

QuasiMojo 4:18 PM  

Thanks @Teedmn! Nancy’s was better written. Lol. Have a super weekend.

Z 4:23 PM  

@jberg - Just don’t mess with the Goddess Diaereses while wearing a diphthong

@kitshef - See! I thought @FrankStein meant drinking coffee black was natural, no need to acquire the taste. The only reason to put anything in one’s coffee is to hide bad coffee. Strong, bitter, and black or don’t bother me.

@Aketi - I’ve tried proper attire. Never successfully. It always seemed like, no matter what, I was the one stuck mopping up afterwards (probably not true, but still). IMHO the only way to win in a pissing contest is not to play.

@anon12:04 - Other than my frequent comments about my age, what was current as I grew up, my taste in music and literature, incessant mentioning of still playing ultimate in the GGM (over 50) division, and my “avatar” (that’s me throwing the disc around my good friend Bendix), I don’t know how you deduced my actual age. Outstanding deductive power. (seriously - 87? I hope to be even more argumentative and pedantic by then)

'mericans in Paris 4:31 PM  

@Z -- The other day you said your age was 57. You don't remember?

sanfranman59 4:37 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. Your results may vary.

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

Mon 4:52 4:18 1.13 80.8% Challenging
Tue 4:25 5:37 0.79 7.3% Easy
Wed 4:46 6:00 0.79 14.6% Easy
Thur 18:02 10:09 1.78 96.7% Very Challenging
Fri 13:01 13:23 0.97 44.0% Medium

Four mini-puzzles for the price of one: an insanely Easy Friday in the NW, an Easy-Medium NE, an Easy SW and a Very Challenging SE. I'm not a fan of such uneven solving experiences. It was like a Wednesday with a Newsday Saturday Stumper in the SE quadrant. All I had in the SE after about 5 minutes of stare time was ENDERS, TENETS and a very tenuous LEER AT and EARN IT. Those letters were close to zero help down there.

I found a lot not to like about this puzzle. So many uninteresting multi-word answers, plurals and -EDs. I groaned at "High points?" = UMLAUT, though I guess that's what's intended with a pun. SEA RAVEN crossing GREAVE??? Come on. The random-lettered STARS in the SW was an annoyance. ZIPPERED? What a waste of a Z. UNNAILED??? So you can just throw UN- in front of any old word now? And nothing screams "Do this puzzle" quite like CUSSER at 1A.

Thank goodness it was over relatively quickly.

Theodore Stamos 4:46 PM  

Huh. You don't say. I guess you learn something new every day. Thanks

Joe Dipinto 4:55 PM  

Way easy for a Friday, but I liked it. DRUM ROLL, HARANGUE, ZIPPERED, ACQUIRED TASTE -- good stuff.

I once read an article about Chloë Sevigny which stated that (I paraphrase) "she added the umlaut to her name when she was older; it wasn't on her birth certificate." I was diacritically opposed to the author's statement.

FrankStein 5:08 PM  

@Z, you’re right. That was my point. Even though I liked Kitshef’s take. The clue made little sense to me. There’s nothing to acquire in drinking “black” coffee. Adding hazelnut would make it “acquired” — something I’m proud to say I never have.

Nancy 5:27 PM  

@jberg (3:20) -- Wiki didn't say that when liquor was DENATUREd it was about avoiding taxes. (That I might have forgiven.) They said it was to discourage recreational drinking, and that's what made me so cross. See here.

Thanks for your nice comments @GILL, @Quasi, and @Aketi.

Bravo, @kitshef, @FrankStein, et al. Black coffee is indeed undrinkable. If it were an ACQUIRED TASTE, surely I would have acquired it by now. I have often been told by people who drink their coffee black: "You take milk and sugar [now Splenda] in your coffee???? You're not a real coffee lover." Well, I suppose, then, I'm not. What can you do? But it's not a competition. Hell, it's not even a pissing contest (hi, @Z).

puzzlehoarder 6:12 PM  

The problem with high value letters is that their relative rarity facilitates solving. That's a big reason for why this puzzle was so easy to solve. When I saw the grid I was hoping the constructor had saved up obscure words to weave into some kind of midlength masterpiece that would be a challenge to even start. Of course then it would have been a Saturday. What we got instead was some harmless fun and about a half and half mix of good entries interlaced with bland fill. My daughter's wedding is tomorrow so I way over my time here.

Joe Dipinto 6:29 PM  

Aaah, ya buncha wimps! I've been drinking espresso since I was, like, five years old. Yeah it tastes a little better with a pinch of sugar stirred in (or a sambuca on the side), but it's good unadorned as well. I don't usually drink regular coffee black (actually I don't drink regular coffee at all anymore), but I have, and I didn't find it to be any worse than if it had milk and sugar in it.

Lewis 6:51 PM  

@puzzlehoarder -- Congratulations!

Honeysmom 7:05 PM  

My compliments to Rex today -- amusing, informative, and kind to constructor. Rare! My best Friday ever, only missed MPEG and greave!?!

FYI to Theodore at 8:48AM. Blue can be "off-color," hence "cussing."

GILL I. 7:16 PM  

@puzzlehoarder. I second @Lewis....Congratulations!
Our daughter's Baby Shower is tomorrow. First girl for the dad's side of the family. Eat your heart out Princess Charlotte of Cambridge!

t-dawg 7:27 PM  

For a moment I got really excited when I thought 21A: Layout with little concern for privacy might be PANOPTICON ... and the grid kinda looks like a panopticon... no dice, but maybe an idea for another constructor sometime hmmmm?!?!

sanfranman59 7:44 PM  

Bravo, Quasi!

Nancy 7:56 PM  

@puzzlehoarder -- Still another well-wisher is sending you congratulations and good wishes. And congrats to you too, @GILL.

sanfranman59 8:02 PM  

@GILL ... Poker players often declare a raise before deciding how much they are putting into the pot. It's all part of the psychological gamesmanship.

Randall Clark 8:30 PM  

Flew through this – under 13 minutes is probably a slow Friday for many of you, but it has got to be my best by far. Loved it though, rather than finding it too easy. I threw in ACQUIRED TASTES with no crosses, and darned if it wasn’t right. I lived in ANGOLA when I was a tot, I’m very familiar with JAILABLE (maybe more from watching Law And Order rather than my 22 years in federal law enforcement?), and I loved the series ARRESTED development. Most of my wine sampling has involved well more than a sip, since they know I’m going to buy more once my sobriety has departed, but I’m guessing HAVEASIP would be more likely if it was a friend offering a taste out of their glass. I only recently (since ACPT) started paying attention to constructors’ names, but if this puzzle is anything to go on, I am a big fan of Joe Krozel.

Larry Gilstrap 8:46 PM  

I was impressed the moment I recognized this buzz saw flailing out of the printer. Stacks on stacks and those quadragons that OFL called out.

The fill had some fun stuff, like this little travelogue: Go skiing at BOREAL near Tahoe, or wine tasting in Paso ROBLES, or ride the train from DURANGO, but at least find a DIVE BAR in each town. I've not been to ANGOLA, so you're on your own.

Scurrying to the phone to lay eyes on a SEA RAVEN. New to me!

The whole concept of ACQUIRED TASTES is interesting and complex. A lot more going on than people arguing about pizza or coffee. Remember smoking? That sure didn't feel good the first time, but I looked cool. Sour and bitter seem to be the culprits at first taste of food or beverage.

John Child 9:05 PM  

@Lewis - Noted the debut but oofed at the word in the context of America’s current opioid epidemic.

semioticus (shelbyl) 9:15 PM  

Mixed feelings about that one. Unconnected blocks are not my favorite things, but now I know that this puzzle is called a quadragon. The fill is superbly fresh, but there are some issues: First of all, too many UN- words. UNTAPED and UNMIXED, OK. But UNNAILED? There are also BSTARS and ZIPPERED etc. But overall, there isn't a single word that makes you hate the puzzle. That's quite a feat.

I would have appreciated more puns and zingers in the clues, but again, nothing annoying, smooth stuff.

In the end, this is a gimmick puzzle (panagram, 90- and 180-degree symmetry, low word count). But it does a great job in not feeling like one. That is an achievement in itself, but I am really curious as to what percentage of regular solvers appreciate such -and very often insufferable- gimmicks. I'd put the over/under at 20%.

This has been a very solid week though. Good job, NYT.

GRADE: B+, 3.7 stars.

RAD2626 9:50 PM  

This played for me like a Patrick Berry puzzle which is about the highest compliment I can pay. Clever cluing, not too many proper nouns, fun wordplay, and from a constructor I usually have trouble with. Very good puzzle. Enjoyed it thoroughly. Progress that Rhonda Rousey is crossword worthy despite her career tailspin. It was very cool about two years ago when she was on her amazing streak that the two most prominent and recognizable athletes in the US were Rhonda Rousey and Serena Williams.

Mickey C 5:10 PM  

Um, Sharon. You’ve already started on crazy English plurals.

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