Neighbor of Mozambican / FRI 8-14-15 / Randall recurring character in Stephen King novels / King of Israel who founded Samaria / Woe that's result of extreme materialism / Girl's name derived from name of ancient Anatolian kingdom

Friday, August 14, 2015

Constructor: Natan Last and the J.A.S.A. Crossword Class

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: none 

Word of the Day: OMRI (18A: King of Israel who founded Samaria) —
Omri (Hebrew: עמרי, Modern Omri, Tiberian ʻOmrî) (fl. 9th century BC) was the sixth king of Israel after Jeroboam, a successful military campaigner, and the founder of the House of Omri, an Israelite royal house which included other monarchs such as Ahab, Ahaziah, Joram, and Athaliah. Along with his predecessor king Zimri who ruled for only seven days, Omri is the first king mentioned in the Bible without a statement of his tribal origin: although some scholars speculate that Omri was from the tribe of Issachar, this is not confirmed by any biblical account (wikipedia)
• • •

The appearance of a JASA Crossword Class crossword (co-constructed with the class's teacher—always a well-established constructor) seems to be an annual event. Or maybe biannual. Anyway, I've seen a number of these, and they're always at least Good. This is probably a function of a. *lots* of time and care and craft and oversight and wisdom and input, and b. the whole "well-established constructor" thing. Whatever the cause, these puzzles have always been pretty polished, and today's is no exception. They went with the max word count for a Friday (72), which is a very, very good place for novice themeless constructors to start (and while Natan is no novice, the class most certainly is). Higher word counts => easier-to-fill grids. This grid is distinguished for its near total lack of crud. Substandard stuff is minimal and spread out, so that the longer, fancier answers can shine through. Cheater squares probably helped here as well. These are black squares that don't increase the word count but make the grid easier to fill (today, there are four: left of 21A/right of 48A, left of 10A/right of 64A). Only wonks like me are gonna notice cheaters, and today they are understandable (since they are helping keep the fill clean around longer, marquee answers, which are the core of the puzzle's entertainment value).

I thought I was going to break my Friday time record there for a bit when I threw down AFFLUENZA instantly (1A: Woe that's the result of extreme materialism), and proceeded to get most of the crosses in quick succession. But then I moved over to the NE and came to a dead stop—a series of knowledge gaps and mistakes and misunderstandings took me completely off the rails. Main problem was a total failure to parse OMA- at the beginning of 19A: Hearst publication since 2000 (O MAGAZINE). I wanted it to be some newspaper set in OMAHA. The STAR, maybe? Beats me, but OMAHA was the only thing I could imagine starting OMA-. Sigh. Then there's my complete bafflement at SWAZI. Is that a resident of Swaziland? Not sure I could find Swaziland on a map, to be honest, and I've certainly never seen SWAZI before. It looks like an unfortunate mash-up of "swastika" and "Nazi." It's a legit answer, but I needed every cross to get it. I also put in RATSO instead of RIZZO, PAIN instead of PINE, and ISN'T instead of ISSO. So my sad grid looked like this:

But I rebooted with ODEA (as you can see) and things picked up again from there. Randall FLAGG was the only real obstacle thereafter, and he was totally pick-uppable from crosses.

Grid is full of solid and occasionally zippy answers. Nice slangy colloquial stuff with AFFLUENZA, "I'M ON TO YOU," SNOCKERED, "SEE YA SOON," and TAKE A BATH. There were a couple of wonderful clues, too: 52A: What might make you a big fan? for JUMBOTRON, and 52D: Ring exchange for JABS. Here's PuzzleGirl's pic of the JUMBOTRON at Yankee Stadium (taken during Sunday's Blue Jays/Yankees game):

 [She labeled this one "Hyphen abuse"...]

And here's a nice picture she took of today's co-constructor, Natan Last (left), at Lollapuzzoola 8 this past Saturday:

 [That's crossword constructor and Columbia University enthusiast Finn Vigeland there on the right ... oh, and eventual Lollapuzzoola champion Francis Heaney in the background, with the shorts and the noise-canceling headphones]

See you tomorrow.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


jae 12:12 AM  

Easy Fri. for me with plenty of zip.  

FLAGG was a WOE and my only erasure was DRegS before DRIBS. 

N words mini theme: NOHO, NOLO, NIEN, NYET

My granddaughter and her friends were on the JUMBOTRON at Petco Park yesterday.  She's the one in the middle.

Lots to like about this one.  Nice job Natan and class!

Music man 12:20 AM  

I actually found this quite difficult, complete dnf. Had only a few answers, though I am a little drained from a whole week of adjusting to new job hours. There's also the fact that the "Newspaper Version" for the print feature was stuck on yesterday's puzzle...GRRRR!!!!! >8 so I had to deal with a new f

Music man 12:23 AM  

Sorry hit publish by accident, also starting to hate my iphone. But, I also had a new visual format to deal with too. NYT and Apple have it out for me...IM ONTO YOU!

jp flanigan 12:31 AM  

This was fun. Only trouble was SE, i had GAIER (nor sure why i thought that was spelled correctly) and i put in GOLEM instead of GNOME (I guess Tolkien doesn't qualify for "Legendary"). That had me tied for for longer than it should have. I absolutely loved the longer answers: DOTTEDTHEI, JUMBOTRON, TAKEABATH, etc. I had RIZZO, so SWAZI soon followed

Steve J 12:37 AM  

I also dropped AFFLUENZA in right out of the gate and thought I was off to my fastest Friday ever. It didn't quite end up being my fastest ever, but I wrapped this up in near-Wednesday time.

As quickly as this went, it was quite enjoyable. Some very nice fill and fun clues, with only a couple weak points. I'd be happy with quicker Friday/Saturday puzzles if they were all this solid.

Whirred Whacks 2:22 AM  

Gotta agree with Rex: very nice and went down smoothly. I've done three or four of these now, and have enjoyed each one.

NE went first with O MAGAZINE, Ratso RIZZO, and Luca Brasi.

Loren Muse Smith 4:51 AM  

Congrats to the J.A.S.A.! This started out hard for me, with my entrees finally being NEIN, GILPIN, and IS SO. I entertained some of the wrong answers Rex did but didn't write any in. I figured it would be RIZZO because of "Hoffman" and went ahead and banked on IS SO instead of "isn't."
My goofs were

"hasp" for SASH
"a joke" for A DRAG
"gulp" for GULL
"stoic" for STONY
"Syd" for CYD, smug that I had finally mastered that weird spelling.

For SNOCKERED, I had the initial S and the final ED and thought of the truly clever "feces faces" joke an anonymous guy made a couple of days ago. It fits for SNOCKERED.

Two things that hold zero appeal for me: TWIZZLERS (seriously – they're really food?) and THONG (seriously, Just Seriously?)

Rex – I like your portmanteau idea of SWAZI.

All in all, some fine Friday fare. I enjoyed it.

Susierah 5:01 AM  

My fastest Friday. But I get a dnf because like Rex had Ratso. I then changed it to Ritzo crossing Swati. Too bad, I wanted to get that perfect Friday. Nice zippy puzzle, felt fresh.

Leapfinger 6:44 AM  

My name is Inigo MONTOYOU. You killed my father. Prepare to die.

First and Last, a puzzle with lots of Class.

Anonymous 7:23 AM  

Liked the puzzle for the same reasons as Rex and everyone else. Funny, though, it definitely lacked a personality. Over the years we have gotten used to the style of some of the puzzle constructors. This one, however, had a "design by committee" feel. Just IMHO.

Idle musing. What's the opposite of affluenza? Epoora? iPoora? Webrooka?


SylvieT. 7:40 AM  

Can someone show me a door with a sash?

pauer 7:53 AM  

Fun puz. Reminder that Lollapuzzoola puzzles are available to buy/solve at home for another day or so at

joho 8:03 AM  

Natan and Class, thank you for this most interesting and entertaining puzzle! There are so many lively phrases not often found in a Friday grid: SEEYASOON, WENTEASYON, IMONTOYOU, BELIEVEME, and TAKEABATH. Loved SNOCKERED and the clue for JUMBOTRON is brilliant!

I had GULp before GULL (Hi, Loren!) and my sign was OpEN before OMEN.

Wonderful write-up, @Rex!

Natan, this is the one time being the.Last in class earns you an A+!

Not Bob Vila 8:05 AM  

How is a SASH part of a door? Maybe if the door has a window in it??

Hartley70 8:24 AM  

This was a smoothie! It went down fast and without lumps, so I didn't have a single write-over and that's a rarity. Word of the Day for me was SNOCKERED. I had trouble trusting it's validity, but then I remembered SHAVETAILS and PANGOLIN and went with the flow.

AFFLUENZA made me laugh and much of the puzzle felt fresh, JUMBOTRON in particular. I might not have torn my hair out, but this was an excellent themeless with a high fun factor! Thanks everyone!

Old Lady 8:28 AM  

If the constructors wanted RATSO, wouldn't they have clued it "Dustin's role?"

AliasZ 8:30 AM  

I was not entirely enthusiastic about this one, sorry to say. I like a lower word count in a themeless, more of a flow, fewer black obstacles blocking the main concourse, and most of all, less trivia.

I do recognize the positive, but am overwhelmed by the negative: ANEG, NYET, NEIN, NOLO, NOHO, NIC, TEK, etc. -- you know who you are. ETTU, ISSO & ASTO. Partials are always ADRAG, they ADRAG the entire puzzle down with them, to the level of DAWG.

Plus GIGI, LYDIA, RIZZO and Lucille BALL too.

So many of these do not a sparkling themeless make.

DOTTED THE I? I always thought there were many T's to cross and I's to dot. That is the whole point of this expression. If you dot only one I, you are leaving all the others to be dotted by someone else. Sloppy, sloppy, sloppy.

@Leapy, I see your Sr. Inigo MONTOYOU and raise you some fancy WEN TEAS, YON.

What's the difference between a GNOME and a goblin, dancing or not? I have no idea.

All y'all, FLAGG ANWAR and upwar. Here's hoping for a much better Saturday.

Leapfinger 8:37 AM  

No chipped teeth, but a Friday to Handle With Care. Fell into a TRAP or two: [Zip] was ELAN before ZOOM, but still helpful as it gave me -SHAW at the end of 16A, enough to make me think of TRADESHOW. Trading a 4-letter WrONG for a 9-letter right is progress, and a good ROR. Also had [Take in] be GULP before GULL -- seemed vaguely reasonable at the time. It may have been the GILPIN made my GULL GULP; making that correction was my last fill, that finally told me that [Blast] was neither exploding nor ripping someone a new one.

@Loren, I did you one better: staid, stoic, STONY
(Are you sure that Anonymous facer was a guy?)

Overall, the Northeast WENt TEASY ON me. Nice clues for ETTU and JABS, and SNOCKERED is so descriptive: a snockered person can't stand up without holding on. However, the clue for THONG is a blatant exaggeration.

Hard to recognize ISAAC without his Bashevis on.
GANESH: I usually can't retrieve that name without visualizing him first, then thinking of Baba GANouj.
ADRAG - Most newspapers nowadays
WIDEN -- Usually known as an em ---
AFFLUENZA: Nothing exceeds like excess. No idea what's so dear about dearth.
Marx off for a missed opportunity with "LYDIA, the Tattooed Lady"; Breaking Bad to verse?
ANWAR, Sadat: Sad at an war, another war, any war.
And please FERMI la porte on your way out.

Get over the NEIN and the NYET. We found this a very enjoyable Friday solve, Ja Da Ja Da, oui oui, igen and igen.

chefbea 8:40 AM  

Any one else have trouble downloading today's puzzle??? When I go to crossword fiend or Xword info they still have yesterday's puzzle. Help!!!!

Carola 8:44 AM  

An easy Friday for me. I went at warp speed until being held up by FLAGG, had to pick-pick-pick away at the SE to finish.
I liked the chattiness - SEE YA SOON, BELIEVE ME, I'M ON TO YOU - and that there were both a GNOME and an ELF.
Also enjoyed a couple of other pairs, SWAMI and SWAZI, and NOLO and NOHO (with their girlfriend GIGI). All around a fun puzzle.

Dorothy Biggs 8:48 AM  

Medium challenging here. Did not know BRASI or SWAZI...I did know FERMI and GIGI...anyone catch on to how many I's were dotted in the making of this puzzle?

I fell for the old "The-J-Doesn't-Go-Where-You-Think-It-Goes" trick. I had jAmb at 64A for a while, making that I was curious to know what kind of ring exchange would end in a J. Filling in the downs there helped me see that jASH is not a thing. But I still waivered on the S since I associate a SASH with a window.

SNOCKERED is a word I've heard before, I kinda like it. Stinko...not so much. I'm barely okay with "blotto." Funny how many words we have for being sh*tfaced.

Oh yeah, DRIBS? And I wanted the legendary treasure protector to be a dragon, and I wanted GULp as to "take in."

All in all, I liked the puzzle. This class should do more.

Generic Solver 8:49 AM  

Anyone else think it's a poor choice to put the name of a terrorist in a crossword puzzle, or worse, train budding constructors that it is a good thing to do? I am pretty certain many will disagree with me on this this point, but that's my opinion and I stand by it. Even the constructor used the word "terrorist", and newsworthy does not equal deserving of mention in a puzzle.

George Barany 8:50 AM  

Did anyone else try PAULI instead of FERMI? A member of the JASA class, who is a friend of mine, confided to me the original AFFLUENZA clue: “Chi-chi ennui" -- either way, I was stumped, BELIEVE_ME.

Congratulations to @Natan Last (a fellow Stuyvesant alum, although many many years apart) and all of the students in the class, and kudos to @Will Shortz for this nice tradition.

Jamie C 8:59 AM  

This was my fastest Friday ever. Still took me about five times longer than it probably took Rex, but still I'm pleased as punch. In fact, maybe I'll start getting SNOCKERED early today to celebrate. Only writeovers were Ratso/RIZZO, snookered/SNOCKERED, take a loss/TAKEABATH. I absolutely crushed this thing.

jberg 9:00 AM  

Hard and fun, but I failed on the proper names. I read "The Godfather" once, but couldn't remember BRASI, and I had no idea about FLAGG-- so my blast was a GALE (wrong meaning), giving me bRASI and FeAGG.

Much more embarrassing, I never saw "Midnight Cowboy" and somehow didn't come up with SWAZILAND as I mentally constructed the map of Mozambique's neighbors. Malawi almost fit, but no. And for some incomprehensible reason it never occurred to me that RIZZO made more sense than RItZO. So I decided SWAtI must mean 'neighbor' in one of the indigenous languages of Mozambique. Duh!

It was a great puzzle. But I'm getting tired of the 4-letter neighborhood names. Not so much their use as clues, but the names themselved. It's spread -- now they have a NOMA (North of Massachusetts Avenue) in DC, here in Boston we have SOWA (South of Washington Street -- especially weird because it's actually East of Washington Street, which runs North to South). They're better names than "Innovation District" (which we also have), but it's gotta stop.

Anonymous 9:01 AM  

I put H HINGE for "door part." Just kidding.

Mohair Sam 9:03 AM  

Agree with @Rex and most here that this was a super-clean and fun Friday. Played more of a medium here - and yes, AFFLUENZA made us think we'd be done in a flash. But we stalled in the SW with the new to us GANESH and our struggle to suss the wonderfully clued JUMBOTRON.

Can't believe OFL made the beginners error of mixing the last name Hoffman with the first name RATSO. Shocked! (We were saved by OMAGAZINE and TWIZZLERS)

Mrs. Sam and I are told we were on the JUMBOTRON in Citizens Bank Park a few years back. We were battling to get into our cheapo fold-up rain ponchos when a shower hit and our neighbors yelled "hey, you're on the big screen!" - by the time our heads cleared the damned plastic we were off the board. Our fleeting moment of fame lost forever. For those of you unfamiliar with Citizens Bank Park it is located on the south side of Philadelphia where they used to play Major League baseball.

Thanks Natan and J.A.S.A. gang - great job!

Ludyjynn 9:16 AM  

This was totally in my wheelhouse, popular culture; AMEN!

So many media references, my favorite being from the Vincente Minnelli film, "GIGI". What a stellar cast, including the suave Maurice Chevalier and the worldly Hermione Gingold, sweetly reminiscing in a contrary fashion about their final youthful rendezvous. You can catch it on YouTube. Worth watching two real pros at work.

Thanks, NL and the JASA. You WENTEASYON me today.

Teedmn 9:31 AM  

Thanks, Natan Last and J.A.S.A class, you WENT EASY ON me today. It took me a while, but with only one major writeover on a Friday, (palmettos for JUMBOTRON, which I found way clever) I call it a CYDnch.

I liked the double meaning of TAKE A BATH and enjoyed finding TRANSMITS wasn't the two-word phrase I was expecting, based on the ESS after TRAN.

I know people who adore TWIZZLERS but I think their only purpose is to ROT your teeth.

FLAGG and GANESH were gimmes as was ISAAC. But I would guess the good people of Germany would say NEIN to the idea that NYET was a European refusal!

Brian Cimmet 9:39 AM  

Hi friends,

Rex, thanks for the Lollapuzzoola shout-out, and the fun pics and video. Congratulations to Francis! And for readers who don't know, Rex finished second in the Pairs Division this year. Not too shabby.

Also, I just wanted to let everyone here know that there is only one day left to purchase the puzzle set from Lollapuzzoola 8. Seven crosswords and a nine-puzzle meta, all for just $10. Come buy a set at and join in the fun!

Thanks, everyone. Back to your regularly scheduled comments...

pmdm 9:45 AM  

So far, I seem to have had the extreme opposite reaction to this puzzle. I actually thought the crossword class was being trained in how not to make a puzzle. Make sure you have God-knows-how-many proper nouns. Make sure there are numerous partials in the cluing. Of course, foreign words have to find there way into the grid. While it's true that there really isn't any ugly crosswordese in the puzzle, at what cost? Happy to read that others liked this puzzle. But not me.

Haiku Nerd 9:45 AM  


quilter1 9:49 AM  

Very nice indeed. Also had GULp before GULL, faltered at FLAGG, ran my mental rolodex of Hindu gods for GANESH, but got it all in the end. Thanks for a fun Friday, Natan and class.

cwf 10:11 AM  

Very clean and enjoyable. Brought two amusing references to mind.

Homer: "Hey GANESHa, want a peanut?"
Apu: "Please do not offer my god a peanut."

And, of course, Luca BRASI sleeps with the fishes.

Nancy 10:12 AM  

Thought this was quite lively and I enjoyed it. Had DERBY before BETTY at 62A, but most of my trouble came in the SE, where I didn't know FEAGG; never heard the word SNOCKERED (I wanted PLASTERED, but it didn't work); and had no idea that GNOMEs were legendary guards of treasure. I couldn't figure out -A-S at 56A: BANS don't seem like harsh punishments to me. Floggings and such seem like harsh punishments to me. My favorite answer was DOTTED THE I.

Bob Kerfuffle 10:30 AM  

Fine puzzle.

Didn't count ahead: Started 14 A as SEE YOU SOON before SEE YA SOON.

Fred Romagnolo 10:37 AM  

I had to google FLAGG, otherwise I made it. I wanted SNOoKERED, not familiar with SNOCKERED, but I knew NIC. I wasn't familiar with JUMBOTRON, now I know (I wanted JUMBOear). @Leapfinger: Princess Bride quote a hoot! If it's Tolkien is it "legendary" or literary? Fafner didn't fit so I tried Genie. OMRI, by the way is historically valid, actually mentioned in ancient references, other than biblical.

Fred Romagnolo 10:43 AM  

This is my first appearance in the blog for some time; I noted a vastly smaller number of entries. Then I saw the caveat that all blogs would have to be approved. I guess it's a good thing, because of the trolls; it certainly cuts down on the amount of time I spend here.

pwoodfin 10:46 AM  

I questioned Ratso vs Rizzo too, but the clue said "Hoffman's" role. Actor's last name = character's last name.

math gent 10:47 AM  

Very enjoyable.

I didn't notice the high word count because there were only seven of those despicable three-letter entries. There were 28 fours.

GIGI reminds me that it's time for me to see the movie again. I was hoping that Rex would inset a clip of Maurice Chevalier and Hermione Gingold singing Ah Yes, I Remember It Well. In his biography, Alan Lerner tells of a problem he had during previews of Gigi. One of the songs by Gigi's pursuer needed a lift. He got a room at The Plaza and locked himself in for the weekend. After two days and gallons of coffee, he emerged on Sunday night with the solution. "She's so ooh la la la, so untrue la la la, and she's not ... looking ... at me!"

Matt Williams 10:54 AM  

I too wanted OMAHA-something for 19A... Maybe (non-cross-friendly) NEWS... perhaps a subconscious recall of ORACLEOFOMAHA from the other day.

Charles Flaster 10:59 AM  

Agreed with Rex on easy/ medium.
Medium part for me was AFFLUENZA which helped with LYDIA.
One criticism was that SEE YA SOON should have had an indication of slang in the clue.
Write overs: STaid~>STOic~>STONY
RatsO~> RizzO.
Enjoyed this very much.
Thanks NL

Joseph Michael 11:26 AM  

The class gets an A

NeilD 11:28 AM  

I've never heard of SNOCKERED or its clue "Stinko" but I liked the rest of the puzzle

Tita 11:35 AM  

Plenty of fun stuff, as everyone is pointing out, but I sorta agree with @pmdm.
Sour grapes for a NW dnf? Nah - it just didn't delight me.

I thought I was doing awesome-for-Friday till the NW, where emptiness except for hiS[tory], sONO, and elan did me in. sYD and bNEG didn't help a bit either.

Never heard of AFFLUENZA, but like it. I was thinking it had to be some kind of -ism.

Finally had to cheat to remove my wrong letters - only then did I finish.

Thanks Mr. Last et al..

John V 11:36 AM  

LIked it. Fun; easy.

Lewis 11:59 AM  

@anon 7:23 -- materiallesstic?
@joho -- Also GULp and OpEN

The puzzle fell quickly (for a Friday) except for the SE, where I didn't know BRASI and FLAGG and couldn't parse ABOVE and GNOME. I finally had to Google FLAGG and everything became clear. I would have liked a couple of more clever clues (to go along with the one for JUMBOTRON), which I've grown to expect on a Friday. I did also like the clue for GAYER, and seeing ODEA over UVEA (it would have been grand if APNEA was above those two). The puzzle felt fresh and lively -- good way to springboard into the day.

Martel Moopsbane 12:07 PM  

If GANESH lived in a New York City neighborhood, would it be DUMBO?

Unknown 12:12 PM  

I also got AFFLUENZA right away. It was the title of a PBS documentary. I'm not sure if the filmmakers were the first to create that portmanteau, but it has since moved into the general lexicon. . . at least in my world!

This puzzle really felt like a smart Monday to me.

old timer 12:14 PM  

As is often the case with me, the bottom was easier than the top. I figured you have to lose your shirt to TAKEABATH, but I did not see, until now, that it also works as a colloquial phrase. DRIBS OMEN NOLO gave me SNOCKERED, and I wondered, isn't it "shnockered? It's always pronounced that way. But the given spelling certainly looked right.

I held off on Ratso v. RIZZO until I guessed the song had to be from GIGI. But I was thinking something like Nyazi ought to describe the neighbor of a Mozambican. TRAP gave me TWIZZLERS and then I remembered that Mozambique might also border SWAZIland. Twizzlers were big when my kids were of trick-or-treat and swim team age.

Don't know why I did not immediately think of AFFLUENZA, but it was not until I wrote in ASTO and FERMI that it came to me. I think the reason is, I wanted ZOOM to be a synonym for zilch, something like "nada".

Was anyone else hoping that OFL would attach a YouTube of Groucho's favorite song, LYDIA? Here is.

mac 1:01 PM  

Medium Friday to me, except for the ball-gull crossing. Left a few boxes open... Only afterward understood the words.

Very good puzzle with some very good clues!

Teedmn 1:05 PM  

I guess I'll have to start my posts with an apology to all those whose clever comments I am about to ape or parrot - yesterday @Carola and today @Ludyjynn :-).

When I hear someone use SNOCKERED, it is always rendered as SchNOCKERED. I don't know if that is a regional thing or if the speakers are always SNOCKERED themselves. Anyone else?

dk 1:52 PM  

🌕🌕🌕🌕 (4 mOOOns)

I do not think of a door as having a SASH. Had Ratso for RIZZO.

I kept thinking of pie hole as some kind of jerk until I recalled my ex-wife once telling me to shut my pie hole. Note: Her nickname is Gone Girl….. let me tell you my FEARS…. wait is that a knock on the door.

I learned a new definition for GULL today as well.

Pork butt is slow roasting on the grill and the wolves are at my door. Steeping hot chilies in peach nectar for the soaking. This will either be ecstasy or an epic fail.

My musings aside: A GREAT Friday puzzle. TGIF

C.J. from Green Bay 2:10 PM  

Fun puzzle.
But I do see @Alias Z's point, that there is a bit of gunkiness here, for a themeless.
On the other hand, I also see @Rex's point on several themed puzzles, like yesterday's, which
also sport a little subpar fill. (Don't get me wrong -- yesterday's puzzle was, overall, amazing to me.)

Which is a harder task to fill cleanly? To wit,

In a themeless, you can basically put anything in you want. You have a blank canvas. Only true unique restriction is the lower 72-word limit. If you have a bad fill area, simply replace it with something better. Lots of opportunity for "sparkling" long fill. Obscure words get more of a pass, because themeless grids have -- for some unknown reason -- been designated "more difficult".

In a themed, you must surely be restrained by the fill entries, many of which take up a lot of the grid's real estate. But you get cut some slack, on the number of words: now up to 78 (or more). If you have a bad fill area, you can replace it, within theme-imposed restrictions. Less opportunity for impressive (non-themer) fill, because it would usually have to play nice with the established block of theme material. It is up to the theme material, to produce a big part of the grid's sparkle. And a lot of themes have already been used -- to death.

I have the impression that Rex favors themeless puzzles, just looking back on his past blogs. His preference, so his call.

My preferences? Being a long-time solver, I treasure a fresh solving experience. A novel theme is always a winning start. Learning some new words (that aren't crossing each other) is also high on my list. Seeing debut words that I know is great. I also like a challenge. This all leads up to me really looking forward to Wednesday and Thursday NY Times puzzles, and almost all themed Fireball puzzles.
Sunday puzzles are ok, but lack staying power for me.

I would lobby for more themeless, easy puzzles, even occasionally on Monday-Tuesday. And more themed, harder puzzles, even on Friday-Saturday. But that's just me.

Thanks, and everybody keep up the good work!
CJ from Green Bay

Anonymous 2:58 PM  

SNOCKERED is drunk, SCHNOOKERED is conned ( from snookered, beaten at pool)

William C 3:14 PM  

Re: door sash (since several are questioning) --

A sash is a frame into which glass is set. The sash could be in either a window or a door, and it can be either fixed or slidable.

GILL I. 3:28 PM  

Puzzle felt grandparenty....warm and all Brown Bettyish.
Maybe I was in the mood for words like AFFLUENZA and SNOCKERED.
LYDIA, ISAAC, RIZZO, GILPIN, FLAGG and BRASI - all invited to the Glastonbury Musical Festival.
Good Job JASA; I bet you have fun with this...
@dk...I smell the puerco all the way here. Any chance of yuca on the side?

bwalker 4:46 PM  

I finished, tying a streak record of five (Woo-hop!). It took me a little longer than an hour. I had GeniE for GNOME, DRaBS for DRIBS, brAin for SWAMI. 9D could have been clued "Egyptian Nobel laureate." Got Luco BRASI, and Brown BETTY. SNOCKERED is pronounced SchNOCKERED when you're feces faced, in my experience. I enjoyed it, having to work for nearly everything, but with ultimate success.

Anonymous 4:49 PM  

I liked @CJ from GB's slant on having easy + themeless Mondays. Why complicate a beginner's solve with a theme? Let Tuesday be the simple, themed one, and let Friday be the hard as nails themed one.

I think it would take more talent to come up with a good, original themed puzzle. If all you have to do is come up with random, interesting words as seed entries for a themeless, then turn a computer crossword-filling program loose on it, I don't see quite as much artistry at work there.

Nancy 4:52 PM  

@Just realized that I had GULp instead of GULL, giving me GApE as an answer to Blast. Never took a second look, never corrected, hence a careless DNF.

jae 5:19 PM  

@Nancy - You should check Rex' s completed grid, especially the SE corner.

Anonymous 5:33 PM  

Easy Friday until I got to GULL, FLAGG, GAYER, and GNOME

Can someone explain why GULL is the answer to Take in ? I had GULP.

OISK 5:43 PM  

@George Barany - Knew about Wolfgang Pauli, but I thought of Fermi first, so Pauli was excluded...

Other than "snockered", which is even rejected by autocorrect, I have no complaints. Fine, well clued, appropriate difficulty. Winning streak is now three weeks.

bwalker 6:07 PM  

Oh yeah! I'm wearing a GANESH t-shirt, and my folks live on LYDIA Street, though I got LYDIA from looking at the maps in Grandad's KJV.

evil doug 6:08 PM  

What a coincidence! "Gape and Gulp" was our annual spring break vacation party at the ol' Pike house.

Susan Gardos 10:44 PM  

Did anyone else besides my husband "gobellyup" before "take(ing)abath?"

Anonymous 11:44 PM  

Anon 5:33 GULL as in GULLible, easily taken in.

spacecraft 11:07 AM  

No WOE FLAGG for me: I'm a Stephen King nut, and the "Walkin' dude" of "The Stand" jumped right out. If you haven't, either read this book or see the miniseries which remains faithful to it. (Watch for King himself in a bit role). The TV cast includes a remarkable actor named Bill Fagerbaake; there's a name for constructors who need a double A. "M-O-O-N, that spells good!"

This pretty much took care of the SE; I had about half the letters in 65 across when I thought: SNOCKERED? I know that, but is it a word? Well, no, it turns out, but it was right anyway. Took a "bit" to get DRIBS--I've always heard it paired with "drabs--" and parse BELIEVEME. Went astray with pULL for "Take in," as in salary, though that "pull" is usually accompanied by "down." When at last I got THONG, GULL was a real WOE, but I threw all my hopes on the root word for "gullible" and left it in. I had to correct DOTTEDeyEs to DOTTEDTHEI first.

No confusion on RIZZO; the clue clearly states "Hoffman's," ergo, surname for surname. Had it read "Dustin's," I'd have gone with RatsO. This led to pretZel [something] for the treat, so TWIZZLERS was my second and final writeover.

Once again the NW brought up the rear; I've never heard of AFFLUENZA but it made enough sense to be gettable. I had tried to work with INRE instead of ASTO; no wonder I abandoned this area at first. The F's of FERMI and FEARS got me going. I never appreciate single-letter entries; today there were three: Aneg, dottedtheI, and Omagazine. WOEs: OMRI and BRASO. Otherwise a cool grid with only DRIBS of subpar fill. I give it a B+. Good job, kids.

rondo 11:40 AM  

Couldn’t have been too tough as I had no write-overs, yet I filled it in like a clockwise double spiral and finishing about in the middle.

Just say no? In two languages that I can actually speak, German more than Russian. The Swedish “nej” is probably too obscure.

CYD Charisse, a leggy yeah baby of her time. Peri GILPIN (usually we get her first name, or TV name, as an answer) a yeah baby for a time. Couldn’t we have worked in yeah baby Grable for BETTY? Probably not late in the week.

Don’t know why folks entered RatsO for RIZZO, clue would have been “Dustin’s role” not Hoffman’s. Seemed simple to me.

The xword class must have been quite diverse given the breadth of the answers and clues. Makes for an interesting solve.

eastsacgirl 1:10 PM  

Own all Stephen King books so started with FLAGG since the The Stand is my favorite. Pretty easy for a Friday but smooth fill.

Anonymous 4:59 PM  

A big, big DNF for me. Never heard the word Affluenza nor seen it in print, so there went the ball game. The NE and SE and SW were all filled in so I wound up with a 75 in Crossword Class. I wasn't there when Samaria was founded and I didn't know Lydia but I knew her sister, Chlam.

Anyway, looking forward to the Sat. puzzle.

P.S. Kudos to all who finished the puzz.

leftcoastTAM 5:42 PM  

@rondo: I'm one of those misguided folks that went for RatsO instead of RIZZO and mangled the spelling to fit the GIGI cross. Get out the dunce cap.

Anonymous 1:06 PM  


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