Croatian head / FRI 11-20-15 / Kind of butter used in lip gloss / Canoodle in Canterbury / Rapper with 2006 #1 album Press Play / Accessory for Che / Player of new girl on sitcom New Girl / Exuberant Mexican exclamation / Congresswoman in 2011 news / Joe of Eagles

Friday, November 20, 2015

Constructor: Mary Lou Guizzo

Relative difficulty: Medium

THEME: none 

Word of the Day: EROS (13D: Destination of NASA's NEAR) —
433 Eros is an S-type near-Earth asteroid approximately 34.4×11.2×11.2 kilometres (21.4×7.0×7.0 mi) in size, the second-largest near-Earth asteroid after 1036 Ganymed. It was discovered in 1898 and was the first near-Earth asteroid discovered. It was the first asteroid orbited by an Earth probe (in 2000). It belongs to the Amor group. // Eros is a Mars-crosser asteroid, the first known to come within the orbit of Mars. Objects in such an orbit can remain there for only a few hundred million years before the orbit is perturbed by gravitational interactions. Dynamical integrations suggest that Eros may evolve into an Earth-crosser within as short an interval as two million years, and has a roughly 50% chance of doing so over a time scale of 108–109 years.[5] It is a potential Earth impactor,[5] comparable in size to the impactor that created Chicxulub crater and led to the extinction of the dinosaurs. // The NEAR Shoemaker probe visited Eros twice, first with a 1998 flyby, and then by orbiting it in 2000 when it extensively photographed its surface. On February 12, 2001, at the end of its mission, it landed on the asteroid's surface using its maneuvering jets. (wikipedia)
• • •

There is some really nice stuff in here. The banks of Acrosses in the NW and SE are solid, and GABRIELLE / GIFFORDS is a great, current, important name that I don't think I've seen in the grid before—certainly not in full-name form. It's a *little* weird to have her name broken up so oddly (last name "first," i.e. farthest left, and then with the two name parts in totally different areas of the grid); normally you'd handle a marquee name like that a little more ... elegantly? I did enjoy seeing it, though.  I also loved the nose-thumbing at [Fossils] (OLD FOGIES)—it would be simplistic to see that answer as ageist, since it describes a type of older person (with a certain stodgy "In my day..." mindset) rather than older people in general. The same way that BRAT or IMP is not anti-child. I would never have thought of NEWS as an ACROSTIC (11D: NEWS for the four directions, and others => ACROSTICS). I would've said "acronym." Are all acronyms ACROSTICS? If "An acrostic is a poem or other form of writing in which the first letter, syllable or word of each line, paragraph or other recurring feature in the text spells out a word or a message" (wikipedia), then ... it would seem so. I think of ACROSTICS as puzzles or poems, not just ... a group of letters like we have in NEWS. But it seems I'm wrong. OK.

There's some not-great stuff in here, notably the double-improbably RE-words (RELAP, REICE), and the truly abominable LAICS (6D: Flock members). Wow. "'Twere profanation of our joys / To tell the LAICS our love"??? No. It's LAITY. The word is LAITY. The word will never not be LAITY. LAIC is a decent adjective, but it's an abysmal noun. Beyond that, though, I don't have many fill complaints. I'm not in love with P-TRAP (the "P" seems to have migrated from DIDDY to TRAP...), but it's crossed fairly enough by PELOSI. And MUS is gross and we've had ILE two days in a row now, but these are tiny things compared the overall solidity of the puzzle.  

IT'S A SHAME (27D: "So sad") that the puzzle ended on such a sour note for me, though. If you'd just cold asked me what a prefix for "Croatian" was, I'd've said "SERBO" (18A: Croatian head?). However ... because of the cluing on 13D: Destination of NASA's NEAR, I had no choice but to write in ERIS, since until just now I did not know that EROS (actually "433 EROS") was a celestial object of any sort. I knew very well, however, that, like CERES (20D: Destination of Dawn), ERIS is a dwarf planet. So I couldn't very well go with EROS, despite SERBO-'s sounding *so* much better than SERBI-. The NASA-related CERES clue made me virtually certain that the the other NASA clue had to have another dwarf planet as its answer. But no. It's some asteroid I didn't know existed. Irksome, as a. the only reason for this anomalous clue on EROS is that someone wanted to get cute with the parallel clues, and b. SERBO- is manifestly bad fill—always hurts to crash and burn on the grid's ugliest part. Well, second-ugliest. I mean LAICS, come on ...

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


jae 12:09 AM  

This was either easy or very much in my wheelhouse.  WALSH, GABRIELLE GIFFORDS, DESCHANEL, EROS (remembered it was a space rock) CADILLACS, PELOSI, and MACARENA were all gimmes. My only WOE was ALGREN and erasures were limited to Bad before BUM and gts before MGS.

Lots to like here.  Pretty smooth grid, a fair amount of zip, fun Fri.

Marginally puzzle related triva:  Zooey DESCHANEL played Zaphrod Beeblebrox's girl friend Trillian in the Hitchhiker's Guide movie.

Da Bears 12:28 AM  

Rex is so funny. He’s so PC laden that he spins and spins to explain why OLD FOGIES isn’t pejorative. Has Rex reached 40 yet? What Rex doesn’t know and won’t until he gets there is that anyone who is there doesn’t give a rat’s rear end what they are called. There are enough bad things about growing old that labels are meaningless.

Unknown 12:38 AM  

Can someone please explain how we get THRONES from [Going places?]?


Anonymous 1:09 AM  

"...and GABRIELLE/GIFFORDS is a great, current, important name..." Current? Really? Puzzle had a few good clues, a few good answers but ultimately a quiz in a box.

AliasZ 1:43 AM  

I love crossword puzzles, and it's rare that I dislike one. This one came close -- actually it may have crossed the line. What killed it for me was all the proper names I didn't know in key slots in a severely segmented grid. As is always the case, one either knows these names or not. Today I only knew one of them for sure, and even that not by choice. Let's see: GABRIELLE GIF[FORD]S, WALSH, PELOSI, ALGREN, DESCHANEL, DIDDY, and PAT RILEY. Which one was it? I don't even care.

-- RELAP... lap again? The waves lap the shoreline, than relap it. Does this work?
-- The ADDER is a snake and REICE looks ugly, but at least ILE wasn't crossed by HOLI today.
-- CERES as clued? No idea, but fairly crossed.
-- EROS as clued? No idea, and couldn't get it because I had HARD-C for Croatian head. Then had to take HARD-C out because it didn't fit MNEMONICS. Than MNEMONICS didn't fit anything except the ICS at the end, so I had to take that out too. As a result, I sat there for 3/4 of my total solving time staring at the snowy NE corner BEREfT of any ideas, bright or otherwise, because I had no idea if the name was AnnabELLE, MirabELLE, Aquarelle, GABRIELLE or JezebELLE. The clue may have as well been: "???"

The bottom half came together easily with very little MUS or fuss, even though I had no idea who the new girl was or what the 2006 rapper's appellation may be as rapwise I am profoundly challenged, but these were, again, fairly crossed. I wanted the PR excerpt to be a 'press release' but it didn't fit, then viDeoCLIP.

I could go on but why bore you?

IT'S A SHAME, because I did like TREE SAP, BUM RAP, RAMPART and a few others. And being one, I loved OLD FOGIES.

It was not a challenging puzzle the way the Saturday Stumper is, in which getting each cleverl and twisted clue usually results in a satisfying AHA! In this one, every letter in those names fought me to the end, and when finally surrendering, I felt no joy of accomplishment at all, only ennui. Lucky for those who knew more of them than I did.

I hope the Saturday puzzle will be more of a quality challenge. GO IN PEACE.

chefwen 1:49 AM  

Started off with a major mess with Mars at 13D, by sea at 16A, whites at 20A. Couldn't have been more wrong if I tried. Thank you puzzle Gods for GO IN PEACE, OLD FOGIES and a few other gimmes. Unfortunately, I had fewer gimmes than "no frickin' idea" items. That's when Uncle showed up and offered to help. Wouldn't have gotten through this one without him.

I'm going with medium/challenging.

Phil 5:35 AM  

Going places

Went quick for me considering my skill. Eros is a god ceres a goddess. Easy answer though serbo was even more a gimmee. Don't see Rex's problem.

Phil 5:40 AM  

Also have to say i tried to get Mnemonics for NEWS clue. Which may be true but didn't cross with much.

Bond 6:51 AM  

Who will do a PAT RILEY move, disregard the ACLU,USE FORCE on the ASOLUT ASS TRUMP by covering his face with a BERET? Once BOUND, relegating him BY CAR to his SWAG, CADILLACS and vertical THRONES, where he can drink too many colas and do the MACARENA with his excess energy...freeing each day's MEDIA CLIP of this LOONEY with the AMEBA brain.

lurker 7:12 AM  

Rex has said how old he is on his Twitter. But not directly....

Old Lady 7:46 AM  

Found it easy, with a wrong guess for SERBO/EROS cross. Language does matter, and I don't fault Rex for being sensitive to possible slights. However, those of us who have made it to more advanced years may have a tougher shell and not take them personally. What me? An old fogie? Never. A fossil, probably. Going places = THRONES = bathroom humor. Really juvenile. (Was that a put-down of those under 20?)

GILL I. 8:20 AM  

The names did me in. Well, most of them. I had OLD bOdIES because that's what fossils are??? I knew GABRIELLE GIFFORDS but I spelled her name with a B in there. DIDDY is about the only rapper other than Dr Dre that I know. That got me LOONEY and THRONES. I get a great chuckle when I see THRONES because I remember a clue that had Bette Midler in it some years ago. One of our posters from the past (@Ulrich) abbreviated her name and said something like "it's nice to see the divine BM sitting on her throne."
MATING....hmmm. I guess it could be some endgame action. My mind is wandering in the wrong direction. Is it one of those "gotchas?"
I enjoyed the puzzle because I had to work hard but each time I got an answer I was doing the happy feet dance.
I thought there was some good cluing especially for ARRIBA ACROSTIC and BUSES to name a few.
SNOG is fun but I couldn't remember what a canoodle is. SWAG got me last time and I have no idea who DESCHANEL is. Even so, with a few Googles just to make sure my answers were correct, I finally finished.
Liked it MLG!

Glimmerglass 8:23 AM  

@Beau D. Many will explain that "sitting on the throne" is a joke euphemism for going to the toilet. I had no problem with SERBO/EROS. i rate this one "challenging," which is what I hope for on a Friday. This was fun.

Anonymous 8:25 AM  

You go (to the potty) on a "throne"

Unknown 8:35 AM  

When I sit on the throne, I'm going (places).

Unknown 8:36 AM  

When I sit on the throne. I'm going (places).

Anonymous 8:36 AM  

Going to the bathroom on the throne

Mike D 8:37 AM  

I loved it, the aforementioned REs notwithstanding.
I also love how every day, there are proper nouns in the puzzle, and every day, someone complains about the proper nouns in the puzzle. Too old! Too new! Too obscure! Too black! Too male! Too female! Too Disney! Too political! Too New York! Too crosswordy! Waaaa!

Anonymous 8:38 AM  

@beau - think porcelain thrones. I was disappointed mnemonics didn't work as I like both the word and the concept. The first two letters are pronounced in reverse, like our friend, the digraph 'WH' (of recent employment). I once delightedly came across a book of mnemonics. Sadly it was at least 95% questionable fluff---e.g., an impossibly long mnemonic for US state names that was itself utterably not memorable. I settled on being delighted by the books stupidity. The only worthy mnemonc included was the book's title, 'Wasp Leg.' It's an acrostic (?) of the seven deadly sins. (Wrath for anger, avarice for greed.) Enjoyed the puzzle.

crabsofsteel 8:46 AM  

ICEE? What is an ICEE?

Charles Flaster 8:56 AM  

Never thought I would finish and basically had five answers after twenty minutes.
GIFFORDS was my aha moment and smooth sailing after that . I will call this challenging and very proper namish but worth the wait.
Creative cluing for LOONEY, SCAR, and PLF FOGIES.
Write overs--CADILLACS for ChryslerS ( not my finest moment), STRUTTED for STRollED, and
Did not like MUS or BUSES.
ITS A SHAME by Fats Domino brings back a host of pleasant memories.
Thanks MLG.

Nancy 8:57 AM  

Hated this puzzle, didn't finish it, and almost threw it across the room. But before I get to all the pop culture I hated, let me mention all the non-pop culture wrong answers I had: LAMBS instead of LAICS at 6D; WINESAP instead of TREESAP at 35D, leading to WORST instead of TRUMP at 35A; HARD C instead of SERBO at 18A. Those stayed uncorrected. Then there were the mistakes I eventually corrected: MOVIE CLIP before MEDIA CLIP at 48A; SHAG before SNOG at 52A. And what do we have to help me out of the morass? A rapper, a pop song title, 2 Congresswomen (well, I should have known them, and I would have, if I had a memory like everyone else), 2 space probes, a Mexican expression and 2 brand names. Ugh. For me, im-possible and pure misery besides.

quilter1 9:00 AM  

I was tooling along solving from bottom to top until I hit the NE. There I struggled some, but finally finished. I call medium difficulty. I am an old fogie but anyone who doesn't know GABRIELLE GIFFORDS isn't paying attention.

Ludyjynn 9:10 AM  

I had an ABSOLUTe ball, maybe because this was totally in my wheelhouse, starting with SCOUT. Out of the depths of memory, I began to recite the Girl Scout oath in its entirety.

Like Rex, enjoyed seeing GABby GIFFORDS in the grid. How she has handled adversity is inspirational to me.

Thanks, MLG and WS. Smooth Friday.

cwf 9:11 AM  

@crabsofsteel: A "frozen carbonated beverage" that I personally enjoy exclusively in crossword grids.

pmdm 9:15 AM  

The "opposite" of clergy is laity. The "opposite" of cleric is laic. There is no problem with the word laic. Absolutely none.

There is much more of a problem with boring Proper Nouns. See the comments by AliasZ above.

Sometimes the write-ups read to me as follows: "What's known to me makes a good puzzle and what isn't known (or is unfamiliar) to me makes a bad puzzle." That's not really true, but today's write-up veers in that direction.

Since my rules allow me to use the Web to search for proper nouns (but never from the irritating search results that are posted simply to reveal the answer to a crossword clue - there should be a way to prevent those search results from displaying), I solved today's puzzle faster than normal since there were so many proper nouns.

K9doc 9:18 AM  

Who else had APPLE I for 15 D (tunes introducer)?

jberg 9:37 AM  

I'll like any puzzle with SNOG in it, and I liked this one. My main problem was bad vision -- I read the 13 as 12, and so put in GABy GIFFORDS; and read 3D as 5, and put in ADDEND. Also had LAmbS, then LAity (to allow OLD FOGIES( before LAICS, which was just as awful for me as for @Rex.

Maybe I'm an OLD FOGy myself, but THRONES didn't pass the breakfast test for me. Fortunately, I'd eaten already. And while I loved the political theme, with GABRIELLE GIFFORDS, PELOSI, & TRUMP, it seemed a little insensitive to clue being shot in the head as "in 2011 news."

I don't think SERBO-Croatian exists any more; after the breakup of Yugoslavia both Serbs and Croats insist they are different languages, usually citing theer different words for "belt." But maybe the Bosnians still speak it.

With the PT, I was looking for some kind of flying dinosaur, and wondered how it got under the sink. And TREE SAP seems like green paint to me. I've never understood the rules about duplication, so I'm not sure about "Going places" in the clues and "GO IN PEACE" in the grid -- a combination that really flunks the breakfast test.


Z 9:51 AM  

I liked this puzzle because most of the proper nouns are in my wheelhouse, but, taking a step back, this was proper noun heavy. Gabby Gifffords is this generation's James Baker, CADILLACS is a flat out gimme for someone residing in Detroit, I like most things Zooey DESCHANEL (she's the "she" half of She & Him and played the "Dorothy" character in Tin Man, for example), everyone should check out NASA's APOD site or get the app, PELOSI, Che's BERET, , even DIDDY went in because he was just in some other xword yesterday. But, yeah, that's a lot of trivia that just happened to be in my wheelhouse.

ALGREN, on the other hand... I had AL---N and thought, "that's Lou Reed not Al Green." I did not know the movie. to be fair, I was pretty young in 1962.

I thought the THRONES clue was more BF or BEQ, no, mostly Buzzfeedy. BEQ might have NSFW clues, but doesn't have the potty humor vibe that BF does. I also went with Take on Me before the MACARENA because Aha was just in the BF puzzle yesterday.

I liked it but maybe one or two fewer proper nouns would make it a fairer Friday.

Unknown 9:53 AM  

Is it me, or has there been an ass-load of ASS, both singular and plural, in NYTCW in the last week?

Sir Hillary 9:55 AM  

Good puzzle, not great. The long entries are quite good, but some really drecky short stuff (RELAP, REICE, MUS, AMEBA) turned me off.

I had personal setbacks with ToiletS and menmonICS.

I will admit that a chill ran through me when I got to the "Much-praised name" of ALLAH. All I could picture was the Paris terrorists doing just that as they mowed people down. The answer and clue are both perfectly legitimate, and I hate that I reacted the way I did. I guess that's why they call it terrorism. Very sad.

Robso 10:10 AM  

I liked this puzzle. My only problem was putting in a B for "Field of note?" for BUS (business, "notes" being money), crossing with "Endgame action" BATING (as in bating a bear).
Am I the only one? I guess both of my answers stretch things a bit. Dunno.

The Ridger, FCD 10:49 AM  

In racing, you lap another driver when go around the track and pass them so you are ahead by a whole lap plus. If you do that twice, I guess you relapse them. Or perhaps it means to lap them after you've fallen behind; re- verbs are tricky that way.

Bob Kerfuffle 10:51 AM  

Nice puzzle, though it felt a trifle easy for a Friday, despite being divided into three almost isolated sections.


Sad to say, I was somewhat acquainted with one of the people killed in the GABRIELLE GIFFORDS shooting. And I just noticed the further co-incidence of 1D, SCOUT. This woman was the widow of a Scoutmaster in our Boy Scout Council in New Jersey, who was visiting her adult daughter in Phoenix.

The Ridger, FCD 10:52 AM  

Bear baiting is spelled differently. This is a chess term.

The Ridger, FCD 10:54 AM  

Marine is a chess term, as in checkmate.

Hungry Mother 11:03 AM  

Very nice challenge for a Friday. Just made it through, which is appropriate. At 75, I'm happy to hear anything, including "Old Fogie."

mac 11:11 AM  

This puzzle may have its problems, but I had a really good time solving it. The meaning of MUS only just came to me....

Toilets fits in 21A. Old fogies went in without crosses. Another ass!!

The Dutch national anthem, the oldest in the world except for the words of the Japanese one, has 15 stanzas, the first letters of which spell out "Willem van Nassav (Nassau).

Nancy C 11:15 AM  

@sir hillary, why do you feel it necessary to apologize for a perfectly legitimate response to a name which has been shouted by terrorists as they ruthlessly murder in his name? Crossing it with "go in peace" was the one thing in this puzzle I thought would bring the most blog comments. Instead I see Rex glory in finding Gabrielle Gifford in the puzzle and carrying on about why Old Fogies is inoffensive. In the end, it's a crossword puzzle. A game.

Ptrap Diddy 11:17 AM  

Hand up for mnemonIC; hard to let go of too. Am I to understand OFL dnf'd?

Mohair Sam 11:18 AM  

Liked this medium/challenging Friday a lot, although it was a little heavy in proper nouns. Saw a couple of complaints about Gabby GIFFORDS, but we all should have gotten her name off of a couple of letters - courageous lady, how soon we forget.

37A is flat wrong. Yeah, I know - VH1 has MACARENA. But "Come on Eileen" is the greatest one hit wonder ever, there is no room for discussion.

Which spelling of AMEBA gets the "var?" from Will Shortz? Loved the clue for THRONES - lots of good clues throughout this one. And why did this NBA fan take so long to come up with PATRILEY? Because Popovich has 8 letters.

When we did the puzzle we thought Mary Lou Guizzo had a clever misdirect with OLDFOGIES for fossils at 17a. Now @Rex informs us that we were victims of "nose-thumbing" by said constructor. Thanks Rex, I was in danger of having a nice day.

Z 11:21 AM  

@pmdm - if only the answer were "laic."

Anonymous 11:25 AM  

"Thrones" - loved it.

Hartley70 11:40 AM  

I found this challenging, but after what seems like hours, I got to the end with two squares open, the S of LAICS because I didn't understand THRONES until I got here, and the M of MUS because MATING felt like a lame answer for the endgame clue. Otherwise it was a great Friday because I loved the struggle.

I started off with GABRIELLEGIFFORDS first and then DESCHANEL plus ITSASHAME which gave me the entire SW rather quickly. PELOSI made my mnemonics wrong, but COLORS fixed the NE. And there I sat until I saw CADILLAC and SWAG and then MEDIACLIP in the SE. All the tough crosses fell from those except the two open squares. Super fun solve!!

Carola 11:47 AM  

Loved the puzzle, found it very fun to figure out. Enjoyed the stacked "headlines" OLD FOGIES USE FORCE and PELOSI STRUTTED. Loved CADILLACS next to BY CAR and MACARENA next to MUS.

Do-overs: LOONie, Denier (before DYE LOT), GO IN grACE.

Masked and Anonymous 12:00 PM  


* OLDFOGIES. Started out with OLDBODIES, in there. Was about to call a "green paint" infraction.
* ADAGE. My proudest puzmoment, today. Got this off nothin.
* EROS. Wanted MARS, but it already started with the E off ADAGE. Knew there were yer three choices: a)ERIS b)EROS c)Wrong again, M&A breath. SERBO/SERBI made it a close final call, but guessed right.
* CERES. Wanted VENUS. You're calling yer probe DAWN, and sendin it out, away from the sun, to the asteroid belt? D.A.W.N. = Dreadful Awful Wrong Name.
* CADILLACS. My first grid entry, off nothin, once PONTIACS wouldn't fit.
* Names. Sorta knew most of em, this time. Like @009, thought DIDDY looked pretty stripped-down, without his P on. Got GIFFORDS quickly, then oldfogieness blocked recollection of her first name; and all those nice, free letters in the offing. I think I had trouble, becuz vaguely knew her mostly as goin by "Gabby". So, wanted a ??-y name. DESCHANEL=sounds familiar. Knew PATRILEY, once I had a few letters. PELOSI was no problemo. ALGREN appeared solely courtesy of his crosses.
* SELMA. Been there. Single stop: MacDonalds.
* MACARENA. Best One Hit Wonder ever? Really? No… For real?!? Just went and watched some of it on the YouTube. Had a lot of gals in sorta beachwear outfits, twerkin. And two oldfogies in suits. Opening lyric was if I got it right: "When they want me, they can't have me, so they come dance with me … etc." This was not sung by the suited dudes, tho, which woulda been neater. But, I digress.
* 007 U's. Hello, Mary Lou, goodbye U-drought! Thanx U, darlin.

fave FriPuz moo-less clue: 35-D's {It's transported by phloem}. Misunderstood "phloem" as "phlegm". Common mistake, among oldfogies that don't know what phloem is. Many faux answers ensued

M&A had a fairly smooth solve, but did have trouble turning that grid rampart at 36-A or so, into the SE sector. It was well-protected by 36-A's and 39-A's cryptic single-? clues. Had to reboot, with: MGS. Then TYPEA. Then finally, grudgingly, REICE. Then GOINPEACE. Last entry: SNOG. Only temp SE misstep: had MEDeACLIP. har. Mucho pitiful. Might make a good themer, someday, tho ...

Agent 007-U will return, in "The Spy Who Snogged Me" …



Numinous 12:02 PM  

I had a pretty much similar problem as @Rex, I confidently put in LAIty which messed me up in the NW leaving that corner the last to fall. Like @Nancy, I put in MovIe CLIP first. I managed to get GABRIELLE all by myself but needed to research her first name. For some reason that I no longer remember, I had an S where the G went in 1A. I guess, @quilter 1 that I just wasn't paying attention. SCOUT, @Ludyjynn was my first entry too and you had to mention the Scout Oath. It wouldn't have crossed my mind had you not mentioned it. I'd have wanted Lou Reed for 5D but the clue made that impossible.

I wonder if "Graffiti" might have worked as a clue for RAMP ART.

Now I come to the digraph of recent mention, recently mentioned here. I'm sure that there was a time in the place where a term like MNEMONIC was created when people who knew the term would have pronounced both consonants at the begining kind of like saying "MeNOMICS" but without much of the schwa in there. As I try it out, I find that it is actually possible.
Once upon a time, when I was in college, in fact, the first of the many times I've been to college, I took a drama course (I thought I wanted to be an actor). Part of that course was a rather long and detailed unit called Production of Speech. We talked about English accents, Mid-Atlantic accents and American Radio English from the thirties and forties as well as learning to carefully pronounce every letter in the alphabet and variations on the vowels. Boy was that ever boring. It did, at any rate, teach me how to listen. That's how I was able to learn from a book, learn from period manuscripts and research to eventually teach Elizabethan pronounciation at the Renaissance Faire.
Yeah, it's really common to transpose the W and H in words like cool huwip but I'm almost positive there was a symbol, at one time, for the WH sound which can be successfully pronounced as one would say Whew. Try it out. Soon you'll find yourself one-upping Stewie.

Now that I've gone from point A to point B, I'll say I found this puzzle about average for a Friday. If I'd remembered Giffords, I'd have come in way under time.

old timer 12:02 PM  

I thought it was a first-rate puzzle. Know what? OFL did, too. He just went way out of his way to find something to criticize. Except for LAICS. No excuse for LAICS. Not a noun. Only an adjective, and I have the dictionary to prove it.

REICE is fine with me. RELAP is even finer, because it is a real thing that happens on the track -- and in a swimming pool, too. If you have ever timed a lane at a swim meet, you soon learn to keep a careful count of the number of times your swimmer has touched, on the 500 free, Sometimes the fastest swimmer will lap and RELAP the slowest one

I found the puzzle smooth and satisfying, with more than a few Patrick Berry moments. SERBO was a pleasant surprise. SNOG was delightully British, and fresh. Not in my dictionary (copyright 1997) because the word was not then in common use.

The puzzle is in part a paean to Western women who, against all odds, manage to get themselves elected to Congress as Democrats. Of course, living where I do, I have known of Nancy PELOSI since her long-ago rise to prominence in Marin County. She is one SHREWD woman, and you really do not want to mess with her.

Leapfinger 12:03 PM  

Well, Hello, Mary Lou! Good outsmart!!

I didn't have to USE FORCE for the unfolding of the NW, but for a few mad moments I thought we had back-to-back REpeats of kAthIELeE GIFFORDS. Five out of nine matches? Eerie! A fine seed entry, and a cute touch beside PELOSI.

There were a couple of discouraging areas of specificity where I was sure I was Royally SHREWD. a) that clot of entertainment media specifics on the mid-West Coast, and b) the glut of NEAR NASA tid-bits in the NE
Fortunately, I finally remembered the time P Sean DIDDY Combs Puffy Dogg DrIceDre was changing his moniker on a weekly basis, and ultimately had enough to visualize the one-hit wonder, though these days I'd probably go with MACARON before MACARENA. And FRANkly, the only reason I knew Zoe (Zooey?) Bechamel - as clued - was because she's saucy.
In the NE, I also mooned over all the possible vowels in ER_S, and think my problems with 18A rose because I don't know the Croatian word for THRONE.

An extra S in LAICS, a missing O in AMEBA? I can live with it
Some noticeable REREcidivism; when that happens, all you can do is REICE your RELAPse.

A 35A clue that TRUMPs yesterday's PUTIN clue;
SNOG, just because;
PAT RILEY, maybe the only NBA coach I could name, having read that he had his players train with ballet, yoga, meditation or some such;
Seeing the RAM_PART meet the BUM_RAP; that was a big hit!

I will now wait to see if anyone starts up with a CADILLAC pronunciation of Caddy-yack. I love purists; heck, it took me years to stop calling Renaults Ruh-nose.

Thank you, Mary Lou, I like the way you STRUTTED your stuff. ARRIBA! ARRIBA!!

Fred Romagnolo 12:12 PM  

Gee, Rex, if Racism is wrong (and you continually see it everywhere), then surely Ageism is too. THRONES was potty humor, not really appropriate. I do agree with Rex on LAIty. SERBO-Croatian is recognized as a language; Serbian and Croatian (and Montenegran, and Macedonian) are varieties of it. DYELOT is a new one on me, but I don't knit (like the bones of OLD FOGIES).

Conrad 12:17 PM  

I loved this puzzle. I like any Friday or Saturday puzzle I can finish and I love any Friday or Saturday I can finish without help from Sergey and Larry. I'm glad I'm not as smart as @Rex and the others who had HARDC for Croatian head because if I'd thought of it I'd have DNF'd.

Lewis 12:26 PM  

There's a G-spot at the intersection of SNOG and MATING.

I usually write down clues and answers that I especially like as I do the puzzle. For the clues today I had zero and for answers three: STRUTTED, BUMRAP, MEDIACLIP. So I would have liked more of both in this Friday, but that doesn't mean I didn't like the puzzle; it just means it was a blue collar puzzle rather than a memorable standout. The solve was a blue collar workout, filling in here and there, waiting for crosses to help on answers that had me stumped, and in dribs, drabs, and occasional floods of filling, I made it through, grateful for the workout.

I love it when that happens. Thank you Mary Lou!

Leapfinger 12:29 PM  

@Robso, breath is bated; bears are baited.

Am shooting for being the 7th person to say that.

Joe Bleaux 1:11 PM  

Are you sure the Fats song wasn't "Ain't That A Shame"?

Sir Hillary 1:23 PM  

@Nancy C - I was not apologizing for my reaction (and will not), merely expressing dismay that such a reaction can come while doing something as trivial as a crossword puzzle. World we live in...

Teedmn 1:40 PM  

Toughest Friday in a while, a decent run up to Saturday so I enjoyed this. But ultimately not a total success as MATING crossing PATRILEY was a DNF spot.

The NE put up a lot of resistance for me. My company sells Y TRAPs so with CERES and ABSOLUT, that gave me YEL at 22A which gave me Janet YELLEN. Yes, the clue had "House" in it, big as life, but you try telling my brain that! And what did my many years of knitting gain me at 10D? A big slap to the forehead after I finally got PELOSI to show me DYE LOT.

I'm glad OLD FOGIES did not turn out to be OLD ladIES as I feared at one time. I should have realized that Ms. Guizzo would not treat her gender so poorly after having so many strong and interesting women in the grid. Actually, I had "dinosaurs" in there first but Joe WALSH persuaded me to change it. Thought 15D was going to be "applei", glad it wasn't.

Thanks, Mary Lou.

Anonymous 1:44 PM  

Two gripes. NEWS is not an acrostic. It is mnemomic. Also, what's with the continuing cross of proper names no one has heard of? Ren and Algren? Who the hell are they?

Thomas 1:58 PM  

LAIC(S) is certainly a noun. It is less common than cleric, but of equal heredity. Tougher and less obvious get than "LAITY", but not terrible. If you "have the dictionary" to prove otherwise, then I would find a better dictionary.

AMEBA annoyed me, as I only ever spell it amoeba, but once I had it, I could not help but accept its propriety. Man, that looks weird to me, though.

What, however, in the hell was up with ADDER? I realize one who adds often does so via "columns", but that really seems weak. Is there something I am missing? If not, that is far and away the weak link of the grid.

On the positive side, THRONES (I'm 37, going on 13.) and BUM RAP were nice.

OISK 2:01 PM  

I am with AliasZ and Nancy. Didn't care for much of the cluing, but I did finish with no errors. Don't know the cartoon "Ren and Simpy)?) so I didn't know that Ren is a a dog, and never heard of Algren. Almost guessed "Rex." Product names (Absolut, shea butter,) are always tough for me. The clue for "Buses" is just too cute. Student drivers? Come on! Never heard of Diddy, don't like the clue for "Ascrostics" which can be clued far less deceptively = I know it is Friday, but still... P trap? Peon for "grunt". dye lot, ugh. No joy for this old Fogey...

Didn't know eros, and "By cab" occurred to me before "My car," so a near error there as well...

Unknown 2:38 PM  

I know that PELOSI/PTRAP should be a gimmee, but I was having trouble getting DYELOT (thought it might be EYELET), so PELOSI was not immediately obvious. My complaint is crossing the P in PTRAP with a proper name, since those little bends under the sink are variously referred to as U-raps, S-traps, and C-traps as well as P-traps.

Also the crossing of REN/ALGREN. I've somehow never heard of Ren and Stimpy, and I've certainly never heard of Nelson Algren, so the N at the cross was a complete guess for me. I figured REX would be the most likely name for a cartoon dog, even though ALGREX seemed unlikely.

I wish we could have one grid this week that didn't contain a proper name Natick.

Unknown 3:13 PM  

I answered a question yesterday using 'Reply' and it ended up iatrached to a different comment. I think this was because I had to sign in to google again.and it hasn't happened before. Therefore, I will boldly suggest that should be where you reply to specific people, thus avoiding having multiple replies appear all over the blog.

Numinous 4:39 PM  

@Leapy, if you're going to moon over vowels maybe you need a BUMRAP.

jae 4:56 PM  

@Mohair - "Come on Eileen" was my first thought when I read the clue, but alas it wouldn't fit. So, it had to be MACARENA.

Amy Pearson 5:09 PM  

@ Sir Hilary et. al.: More people have died in the name of Jesus in human history than in the name of Allah. Perhaps your "chill" should be reserved for the mention of His name as well?

Rina 5:55 PM  

This is the second time in as many months I got side-tracked by REDOUBT for RAMPART. After all it crossed with BADRAP and TYPEA. Maybe it was ALLAH's will that I GOINPEACE. MUS?

Arlene 5:58 PM  

Even with Googling, I didn't finish this puzzle, and didn't want to. That is RARE for me.
Just thought you folks would like to know.

LindaPRmaven 6:06 PM  

Challenging for me. I found THRONES (Going places?) thoroughly execrable, more noxious than LAICS. Surprised Rex didn't even comment on it. Liked that PELOSI and GABRIELLE GIFFORDS were both worked in. Shame TRUMP was in the center though. I too tried to make mnemonics work for NEWS for the four directions, and others. It is a better answer than ACROSTICS, I insist! A tedious workout on the whole. No dancing the MACARENA over this pus.

LindaPRmaven 6:07 PM  

Meant "pus" not "pus" for that last word.

Leapfinger 6:44 PM  

Sheesh. Imagine someone in lacy underthings just one single time and they never let you forget it.

nemo paradise 7:31 PM  

Gabrielle Giffords is hardly an "important name." Can we keep political preferences out of this?

"Relap" does not mean to pass once.

"Buses" are not student drivers, any more than "carts" are golfer drivers.

kitshef 8:54 PM  

MUS??? Had MrS, thinking it was the cookie lady (and thinking shouldn't it be Fields?). Eventually BUMRAP came in, and was forced to accept MUS. Came here believing the wonderful blogcrowd would enlighten me, but alas no.
flaUnTED before STRUTTED, mnemonICS before ACROSTICS, CANuS before CANIS, and of course MrS before the still-baffling MUS.

Z 8:45 AM  

@kitshef - MUSic. I think someone did clarify above, but I don't remember who.

L.F. 9:04 AM  




Z 11:23 AM  



(Double Ba-da-boom)

Even if, "I don't remember whom (clarified)," were correct it would be wrong.



kitshef 7:07 PM  


Nope, nobody had clarified, and I thank you for it.

Waxy in Montreal 9:57 PM  

Let me be the first in syndiland to wish us one and all a very merry Christmas Day! Here in the northeast, we are enjoying balmy temperatures without a hint of snow. LOONEY weather indeed.

Appropriate Dec. 25th answers from the syndigrid: Do not USEFORCE but GOINPEACE. Nice to see ALLAH and DEUS coexisting too.

spacecraft 12:11 PM  

Hand up for ACROnym, which I was so sure of that I started writing ACRO...and then counted the spaces: whoops! But luckily, it turned out that the ACRO part was right. I wholeheartedly agree that ACRONYM belongs there, and that ACROSTIC describes a certain kind of puzzle in which a quotation is scrambled into a word list whose initial letters spell out the author and source of the quote. This was but one of a plethora of clues leading anywhere BUT to the answers.

OFL mentions the ILE bleedover but ignores GIFFORD/GIFFORDS. THAT's some bleedover! All this bleeding must leave a "Closing line that stays with you?" Wow. See what I mean about the clues? BOUND as a present-tense verb. Fair enough, but again, wow. No sir, not medium, not with those clues. Challenging. I solved it, but by the skin of my teeth.

I echo @Waxy's greeting: Merry Christmas to all--and to our northern friends, Happy Christmas and Joyeaux Noel!

[No grade today: it's Christmas!]

Burma Shave 12:57 PM  


when a CERES of BUSES can CREWS that far.



DIDDY tries to RAMPART of that MEDIACLIP into our ears,
so change DESCHANEL on the RADIO, and no BUMRAP we’ll hear.

--- REICE ICEE (baby)

rondo 1:23 PM  

More than medium for me with multi-write-overs such as LAmbS LAIty LAICS and in the NE marS got me BYsea then EROS got me BYaiR before BYCAR. BadRAP before BUMRAP, related to DrDre before DIDDY. lupuS before CANIS. Couldn’t remember if two Ds or two Ls in CADILLACS, and I used to drive one! Ultimately correct, but what a mess I made.

Zooey DESCHANEL is today’s yeah baby based on hotness; GABRIELLE GIFFORDS based on accomplishments.

Yeah there were a few not so great answers, but this puz was a good challenge and fair throughout IMO. A nice present on Christmas morn. Merry Christmas to the syndiland cohort. In Swedish = “God Jul!”

leftcoastTAM 4:29 PM  

Here in syndiland it's Christmas Day. Santa, aka Ms. Guizzo, aided and abetted by WS, left a lump of coal in my stocking.

I couldn't get a robust foothold anywhere without cheating.

Not only did I not get several tough ones (e.g., mnemonics instead of ACROSTICS), but several relatively easy ones (e.g., DrDre instead of DIDDY).

I guess I haven't been a good boy this year.

Merry Christmas to all syndilanders.

ecanarensis 4:39 PM  

late to the party here, but ACROSTIC is just wrong. Just...wrong wronger wrongest. Nonono. An acrostic is "a poem, word puzzle, or other composition in which certain letters in each line form a word or words.
"NEWS" is a MNEMONIC, which is something Ccompletley different from an acrostic; it's a memory aid (which an acrostic is not) --tho the 4 cardinal directions hardly seem to need a memory cue, except for the very unfortunate.

Some popular mnemonics which aren't so cute 'N' short include "King Phillip Came Over For Good Spaghetti" (for taxonomic hierarchy)...or if you want to stick with acronymic mnemonics, ROYGBIV is a good one (colors of the rainbow), RICE (how to treat a sprain), HOMES (names of the Great Lakes)....and so forth.

Misusing words just to make your puzzle 'harder' is just lazy, cheating, and stupid.

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