Balloon-carried probe / FRI 2-5-16 / Clean freak of sitcomdom / Chicago exchange in brief / Sister brand of Alpha-Bits / Of wrath in hymn title / Avian symbol of Ontario / Threepio's first master

Friday, February 5, 2016

Constructor: Mary Lou Guizzo

Relative difficulty: Easy-Medium

THEME: none 

Word of the Day: SONDE (35A: Balloon-carried probe) —
noun: sonde; plural noun: sondes
  1. an instrument probe that automatically transmits information about its surroundings underground, under water, in the atmosphere, etc. (google)
• • •

This was an interesting mixture of Great and Iffy. Luckily, all of the Iffy is in the short stuff (3- to 5-letter range). The grid-spanners are all fresh and solid and lovely, which is as it should be. When you stack 15s, you tend to have to stand for some junk, or at least some wobbliness; when you lattice (now a verb), you should be able to get your 15s all into the realm of Nice. The only issue I have with the 15s is the going back to the same "contemporary actress" well in successive long answers, i.e. following up SHAILENE WOODLEY with JESSICA CHASTAIN—both fine answers, but I like puzzlees better when they're drawing their answers from diverse realms of the knowledge spectrum. Here, if you are pop culture illiterate (and I'm looking at a whole lot of you), you don't get double-whammied in such short order. But again, on their own, both answers, fantastic, fair, good. And honestly this puzzle had me at "A MODEST PROPOSAL," so however much the thing stumbled after that, it was highly unlikely that I was going to look upon it in any way other than favorably.

I don't believe in GAWP. I just don't. So right out of the gate I had trouble. To [Stare in astonishment] is to GAPE. Later I was forced to change it—to GASP. But that left me with an opening of SH-T... for 3D: Question upon completing an argument, and that seemed ... unlikely (it's actually the wonderful "WHAT MORE CAN I SAY?"). When you have This Much short fill, with all but a small handful of non-15s in the 3-to-5 range, there will be blood. I consider AMPAS blood. American Pictures Association Of Somewhere? If it's an acronym related to movies and it's not MPAA, then I don't know it. Ah, "Arts & Sciences," ha ha. That's a pretty high-falutin' name for an org. that gives awards to [movie title redacted so as not to offend anyone]! Plural CSIS is awful. PREV, not much better, and you can see other scattered semi-wincey stuff throughout the grid. But I think the 15s do their job, i.e. capture our attention and admiration and keep us from caring too much about the rust and cracked paint and other minor structural imperfections.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


Loren Muse Smith 6:59 AM  

Rex – I was right there with you on “gape,” but I didn’t write it in because I sensed that 4D could be PENNED.

I finally found some purchase with drop TROU, and expression I've learned only from solving crosswords. Then EMORY, YOKED, and CANNERY ROW fell boom boom boom.

For 42D, my first thought was, "Ok. I'll bite." I saw immediately it was too long and moved on. Dumb.

GRANDSTAND SEATS reminded me of the book, Under the Grandstands by Seymour Heiney.

I didn't know JESSICA CHASTAIN or SHAILENE WOODLEY, but got'em both easily with the crosses. I had to guess on the B in NEBO/ABAFT, but I think that B was lurking in the recesses of my xword brain. Forgot to go back and guess on the AMPAS/ASCII cross, so I had a dnf.

Liked the balloon SONDE crossing LEAKY. Oops.

Mary Lou – you’re becoming such a prolific constructor! I really liked this one. Now you gotta shoot for a Monday, Tuesday, and Saturday to hit for the cycle. Bet that’ll happen in no time.

GILL I. 7:34 AM  

I GAWk, I tell you, because GAWP sounds more like an ODIC noise.
I don't know why, but I do care about rust and cracked paint and today it was all over the place.
Newt went to ECORT not EMORY because I say so. TOKES join teams (I read it as joint) and good ole Michael C. played SEXTER - you know, that one in the City.
I sussed the 15's which I really loved but dear SHAILENE WOODLEY did me in.
Every time I see CHIN REST, I think of a joke.

Geometricus 7:42 AM  

Actually had GAPE go 1A but next had GAWK for quite awhile until I realized farm animals are not KENNED, much less KENNEL.
I agree with the Easy part of the rating, since I joined back up in October this is my fastest Friday, 22 min.

@Rex I agree with you about AMPAS, when they say the whole name at the Oscars it always sounds a little out of place, but I always figure the science part is about the sound and light people and the geniuses inventing new kinds of digital media formats and such, but whose awards are given "earlier" at some other venue. I feel a little bad for them missing the big parties and all but they are probably healthier for it.

Dorothy Biggs 8:17 AM  

GAWP: Is this what the youth are calling it these days? Like "pwnd?" I have never in my life heard this word or seen it in print. I see that Google has, but really. SMH and gawping.

Count me in the group that got double whammied by the actresses in the grid. Well, quadruple whammied because first and last names! I wouldn't have known the answer had the clue given me 50% of each name. So that made it slightly more difficult for me. Luckily some of the downs were pretty easy to suss out.

A CHIN REST is only attached to a couple of string instruments. Stringed instruments? I think, here in music land, we say "stringed." I could be wrong. Anyway, I wanted some kind of capo. Or fret something. Or mike pick up...or something else than chin rest.

I liked this puzzle a whole lot better than yesterday's. That's really all I can say for it.

Hungry Mother 8:19 AM  

Couldn't figure out the "S" in SHAILENE, so DNF today.

Hartley70 8:29 AM  

This was a fast Friday for a book lover and a movie devotee, and those 15 letter answers were loads of fun. Kudos to Mary Lou!

I'd never heard of SONDE and the army rank SFC had me fumbling around a bit. I tried tippy for LEAKY and pois (terrible) for UKES. I didn't remember that SHAILENE had an "i" in there. BTW, her acting in the DIVERGENT series is much less sappy (thank goodness) in a Katniss Everdeen style role.

I'm a big fan of GAWP. My British friends use it, along with "yobbo", another favorite of mine. Yobbos tend to do a lot of GAWPing in my experience.

AliasZ 8:36 AM  

I am not good at trivia, so these pop culture unknown full names killed this one for me. Not that they were impossible to get them from crossings, but because once I did, it was a huge "who cares?" with a shrug.

I loved the literary CANNERY ROW and A MODEST PROPOSAL and the the other three grid spanners, the rest of the fill however did not wow. Arbitrary Roman numerals, EMTS and CSIS didn't make me want to drop TROU. How good can a puzzle be when it starts off with the gape/gawk/gawp trilemma?

Of the "Diez melodias vascas" (Ten Basque Melodies) by Jesús Guridi, this is número OCHO: Danza. But you should listen to all ten of them. It is a wonderful work.

Sorry, Mary Lou Guizzo, for me this was a misfire.


kitshef 8:45 AM  

Funny, as my first thought was that if you are going to have grid-spanners, your first long across has GOT to be solid, and GRANDSTANDSEATS seems like green paint to me. Also, WHATMORECANISAY is weak. Really, AMODESTPROPOSAL is the only spanner I like. Two actresses I could not pick out of a lineup back to back?

Gape before GAWP (along with a cast of thousands, I'll wager). obI before ANI. So, only two overwrites on a Friday and a fast time = pretty easy--

--Except that I completely DNFd due to the SW ... AvAsT/NEvO/SsC. As a paper solver I did not know I had DNFd until coming here, but even had I known I doubt I would ever have gotten it fixed. NE_O and S_C you can fill in almost any letter and it looks as reasonable as the real answers, and there are a lot of pairs you could fill into A_A_T and get a pronounceable word.

Never having heard of SHAILENEWOODLEY, I spent a long time on that first letter. I had been thinking the second 'A' in AMPA_ stood for Academy, then suddenly realized it was the first 'A', and from there 'of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' spilled out - I think they say it every year multiple times on the broadcast.

RAD2626 8:47 AM  

Terrific themeless puzzle. Got GRANDSTAND SEATS and WHAT MORE CAN I SAY right away so was off and running. Had a good Friday time, but had a double dnf sadly, one from lack of knowledge and one just dopey: NEdO/AdAFT, and CANNaRY/aNOLA. On second thought, both dopey. Blowing it is annoying but the likeability of the puzzle more than made up for it.

Louise 8:53 AM  

Got my xword juices flowing. What more can I say? "Some cat sounds" very clever, and not obvious until the end. AMPAS evaded me at first, pop culture illiteracy strikes me down again. Good Friday challenge!

1820 Stone Colonial House 9:13 AM  

Hey guys, you can't rely on just your PSA rsults. You still have to DROPTROU and get TAKENABACK by the good doctor to make sure nothing GAGA is going on with your prostate. Just a reminder. Although I am Proudly Pop Culture Illiterate, I still finished this in under half an hour, good Friday time for me.

Robso 9:21 AM  

I'm not a constructor, but if I were I would do anything to keep from having to have HORA, ENOLA, ECRU and EMT all in the same puzzle. I second the GAWP complaint--yuck. And I know there are a lot of actors already, but I would have clued something with Paul for DANO.

John V 9:23 AM  

What @Rex said re pop stuff. MPAAS/46 a cross was brutal. Otherwise, pretty easy stuff.

Had GAWK at the end. GAWP is made up.

RooMonster 9:49 AM  

Hey All !
Agree with Rex's rating. Didn't wrack the ole brain like a usual FriPuz. Only two writeovers, but wrote over them twice, so four? GApe-GAsP-GAWP, and ODes-epIC-ODIC. Didn't really know the books, but inferrable from crosses. CANNERY ROW at least a known name, hence my ODIC writeover. Guessed at the S in AMPAS, was thinking maybe C. After all was said (written?) and done, finished 100% , no errors! WooHoo!

Got yer RRN in here, have no prob with PREV, fairly known Abbr. Thinking the RRN might've been IIII, since that's how 4 is on some clocks. Notice next time you see a Roman No. clock. UNSTOPS a bizarre type of word, but as clued, makes it sound normal. Ready, Set, Unstops!

Agree CSIS (again) just doesn't work. Granted, last time in arguments were there are several CSI shows, but still... TSK.

Drop TROU is an ImMODEST PROPOSAL. LEAKY ABAFT es no bueno. These are the YOKES, folks! :-)


Z 9:53 AM  

Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

195/196ths easy. 1/196th WAG*

Rex nailed it, the doubled up actresses from two movies I never saw finally did me in. When I read or hear CHASTAIN I always have to remind myself that there is an actor with that name. Still, I worked that one out from the crosses, just needing to promote my pFC to a SFC. NEBO was almost whack-a-vowel, but JESSICA is a common enough name that it was no real problem. Staring at -HAILENE WOODLEY was another thing all together. C, S, and T are all equally probable, D only slightly less so. Hence, a OWS DNF on an easy Friday.

First word in was ODIC and the entire NW to SE diagonal went in almost Monday quick, just a hiccough with SONar->SONDAE and GApe to GAWP, but pHAT was an unlikely question starter so a 0.2 sec fix. Favorite answer is, of course, GOAT, A SNAIL SPACE, Harlan Ellison's latest short story collection.

*Wild Ass Guess

Carola 9:58 AM  

It was nice to have an easy one for my re-entry into puzzledom after days of travel. I was also a GAper for a while but otherwise was able to sashay from top to bottom with little resistance. The actresses names went right in, as I knew SHAILENE WOODLEY's name from "The Descendents," and Jessica Chastain is a favorite of mine,
@kitchef - I agree about GRANDSTAND SEATS.

Nancy 9:59 AM  

For me, it was first GAPE, then GAWK, and finally GAWP, because, like @lms, I wanted PENNED. I hesitated for a moment between Felix and UNGER, but RISK made the right answer clear. While there were many too many names, I knew most of them -- with the exception of SHAILENE WOODLEY. (Sorry, honey, I'm sure you're a swell actress.) I did know JESSICA CHASTAIN, and I knew the two book titles: A MODEST PROPOSAL and CANNERY ROW. But, once again, I forgot to check if I naticked or not. It could be ANI/NEBO or ALI/LEBO or ARI/REBO or maybe even something else. I guessed the N. I'll have to go back and see if I'm right.

I liked GO AT A SNAIL'S PACE and I liked the clues for DOTS and MARSH. Mostly, though, I found it name and title-heavy, and not all that much fun. Not all that much of a challenge, either. But I can imagine others enjoying it much more than I did.

jberg 10:01 AM  

As @Rex predicted, the two actresses were a total mystery to me. I'd heard of the movie titles, but not seen either. So basically I worked from a) crosses, and b) some sense of could and could not possibly be a name -- e.g. you could see SHAILENE as some transmogrification of Sheila. Still DNF, because I've not seen Star Wars I-III, do didn't know about the robot master. I tried Obi, but that didn't work. Is ANI short for Anakin Skywalker? I should have thought of that.

I'm in the 'green paint' camp on GRANDSTAND SEATS -- I sit in the grandstand, tout court. Otherwise, I liked it.

Sir Hillary 10:08 AM  

This was quite enjoyable, rust and all. The 15s make it all worth it.

SHAILENEWOODLEY was amazing in The Descendants. JESSICACHASTAIN has been great in everything I've seen her in.

AMPAS has been TAKENABACK by criticism that its actor/actress nominees are pure NILLA. Awards show AIRS February 28 in PRIME time. I'm sure it'll GOATASNAILSPACE.

Chaos344 10:14 AM  

OMG! My fastest Friday puzzle ever, and by a mile. Felt more like a Wednesday. Totally wheelhouse!

Minor stumbles:

Couldn't believe 1A wasn't GAWK, because "Many Farm Animals" are indeed KILLED. Had to get SONDE completely from crosses.

The 15's fell really fast because of the abundance of early crosses. Knew JESSICA CHASTAIN immediately. She was great in Zero Dark Thirty, but guys will like her much better in JOLENE!

Took a few letters to get SHAILENE WOODLEY. I didn't see The Fault In Our Stars, but I saw ALL of Shailene in White Bird In A Blizzard! Yummy!

AMPAS to MAR and PREV, to MARSH to ASCII (Love how that acronyn is pronounced phonetically) to VIII to SHAILENE to ILLBITE, all in about 15 seconds or basically as fast as I can type. I have still to look at the keyboard.

Much the same with JESSICA breaking open the whole SW and DEXTER doing the same in the SE.

Great puzzle, but It was just too easy for me today. That however is a personal anomaly. I may never again solve a Friday puzzle this fast.

chefbea 10:21 AM  

No time to finish the puzzle or read the comments. Loved the clue for diary.
From yesterday..people were asking about ocean=main....think over the bounding main
Also from yesterday someone mentioned late last night that yesterday's date was 2-4-16...which was probably the reason for the puzzle!!

Now to get started with all the super bowl cooking..chili, wings dips etc.

Oh..and have fun in Westport all you puzzlers

quilter1 10:29 AM  

Yeah, gape before GAWP and didn't know the actresses but finished. Proud I knew ABAFT.

Maruchka 10:34 AM  

Loved TROU, BEBOP, IRAE, ABAFT, GAWP, Swift and Steinbeck. Great consonant crossings. But got mired again in the pop culture MARSH.

That said, the challenge for me is getting into the constructor's groove. About 80% today, the remainder ???!!! googles. Don't ASCII why.. I will try harder.

Thank you, Ms. Guizzo

Phil 10:52 AM  

Had GAWk and figured i was ignorant of the word kENNED...maybe it related to kennel in some fashion do only proble.

Otherwise very quick and bright.

old timer 10:52 AM  

Don't know either of the actresses, but I am not ashamed to consult Wikipedia. So I was able to do the puzzle in a reasonable time. AMPAS was easy -- you watch enough Oscar shows, you know the full name of the Academy. GAWP is a great word, not used enough (yes, I put in "gape" first -- I bet you all did). In retrospect I could have got the actresses just on crosses, if I had figured out 11D. But I didn't. My last entry was GOAT AS NAIL SPACE, and what that goat had to do with "crawl" was a total mystery, at least at first.

Had "Dodge" before the excellent ROYCE. I wonder if the other co-founder was a Mr. Rolls?

Greater Fall River Committee for Peace & Justice 10:52 AM  

Another one that I finished in the upper left, where ine would normally start. Well, didn't really finish, the Woodley dame's first name was random letters some of which were wrong.

SOMEBODY MENTIONED JESUS GURIDI's BASQUE MELODIES!!!! I thought only I played that. Bought it as a souvenir in a dusty music store in Valencia.

Molson 10:54 AM  

Agree that the 15s are lovely and I like to see the inclusion of more women in the puzzle and women as constructors. But I disagree on being able to look past the short answers.

When 1A is GAWP (also did the GAPE to GAWK to GAWP change as crosses fell) and 5A is ODIC and you have SENAT and IRAE and NAE and AMPAS and CSIS and SONDE and VIII and TNUT... it's just too much.

GAWP and ODIC being 1 and 2 as you look at the grid is just off-putting to start.

WHAT MORE CAN I SAY? At least it was over quick and it was easy so I didn't have to GO AT A SNAILS PACE. (which I first parsed as GOAT...)

mac 10:56 AM  

Easy-Medium until I hit the Ampas. I have to look up Shailene Woodley, Jessica I know.

Cannery Row brought up nice memories. When I was a young teen I discovered John Steinbeck. I read every book he has written, one after the other.

I liked the clue for ex-pat. We've done that a couple of times.

Lewis 10:58 AM  

Good Friday battle for me. Never said GAWP in my life, but I'm tempted after seeing it a few times in puzzles. I loved the clue for EMTS (but I've seen it before), and would have liked a greater amount of wordplay cleverness in the cluing. I loved WHATMORECANISAY (though thought "else" might go where the MORE is), GOATASNAILSPACE and ILLBITE.

(Autocorrect wanted "ILLITE" for ILLBITE -- what the heck is an illite?)

The grid is clean overall, though had anyone here ever heard of AMPAS before? I like the SKIRT crossing the TROU, the high RISK, and the backward OBEN echoing yesterday's OBAN. Overall, for me, a high quality solve, terrific springboard for the day.

Phil 11:01 AM  

Oh yeah had 'spin doctor before my namesake, doh.

cwf 11:05 AM  

Considering that two of the 15 letter spanners were crossless gimmes (AMODESTPROPOSAL and JESSICACHASTAIN) I found this to be something of a struggle. ABAFT is a new word for me (well, probably saw it in a crossword at some point). And SFC - "sergeant first class", I take it? Anyway, Naticked right there. So close.

Anonymous 11:06 AM  

aNi/Nebo was a natick for me.

kozmikvoid 11:06 AM  

Big fat DNF for me. Couldn't get the H in HORA/OHS, refused to put GAWP so I was left with kENNED farm animals, and had never in my life heard or seen the word ABAFT. I figured it was nautical so I had AVAST, even though I know it's not the opposite of afore. Adios, consecutive finish streak. Other than not finishing, this one was OK...better than others of late.

And I stand corrected on the use of blacklist for Hollywood yesterday. I didn't know Trumbo referred to the blacklisted actors of 60 years ago. It's ancient news, but the fact that a current, multiple Oscar-nominated film highlights the scandal makes the clue fair and relevant. I still didn't like the puzzle, but I'm OK with blacklist now.

Berselius 11:45 AM  

DNF due to the HORA/OHS and NEBO/ABAFT cross. Had no clue on either answer, even after seeing the solution here. Didn't think the cluing was great on this one in general - nonplus = ADDLE?

Unknown 12:08 PM  

Liked it overall. Perfect level of difficulty for a Friday. Had a younger feel to it than most puzzles of late. I'm a pop culture fan so I'm sure that helped. Thanks Mary Lou!

Martel Moopsbane 12:10 PM  

The two actresses were "puzzlees" for me, too.

North Beach 12:11 PM  

I was really TAKENABACK that there wasn't a Nonplussed/Nonplus discussion. I always thought 2 forms of the same word in clues or answers was verboten in Crosswordlandia.
AND I found out that I thought Nonplussed meant almost the opposite of what it actually means. Color me ADDLEd. It reminds me of the day that, as an adult, I found out that fitful meant the complete opposite of what I had previously thought. Any other words out there like this?

Tita 12:23 PM  

@Hartley - my tiny sailboat is very very tippy - but thankfully, not LEAKY at all, unless I forget to put the bilge plug back in. Someting I would never, ever, do... [gulp]

@aliasZ - love 'trilemma'.

A SW dnf - was never gonna fix obI for ANI, or pFC (Private first class), so AJAR was hidden, and _ _ SPICACHASTAIN was just another name as improbable as SHAILENE (which I did get from crosses.) Oh wait - I took a wild guess that the role was DEXTER and not sEXTER, even though WOOsLEY weems like more of a name.

Love GAWP. It's what our crows say. They seem not at all perturbed by the 5" of new, heavy snow. They can get to our compost pile anytime they want, no matter the conditions.

Karneval in KÖLN kicked off yesterday. I definitely GAWPed when I was living in Germany at the shattered stereotypes when I saw how wild and crazy they get!

Even though ASCII is a super-common term to me, that clue had me stymied. Cross that with a random letter string at 27D, and that was almost undoable. Knowing ASCII, once I saw _SCI_ opened up alot.

Thanks Ms. Guizzo, even if I would have preferred less trivia.

Masked and Anonymous 12:23 PM  

Grrrreat, Guizzo!
Did have one or two "close calls", here ...

Was real all-set to call Schrow-dinger square, at the GAW?/?ENNED crossin. I KEN many a farm animal: GOAT, LLAMA, DONKEY, LAY-PEWIT. GAWK is, of course, squeaky clean perfectomundo. GAWP is from Mars. Either that or some sorta sound a junkyard dog with fierce indigestion makes. QED. (yo, @John V.)

Wrong again, M&A Breath. Unfortunately, we have a mic drop situation on (or out of) our hands, here. GAWP has … believe it or not … Patrick Berry Usage Immunity! day-um. Makes my tummy hurt. gawp.

@009: I'm not so sure that havin a bunch of grid-spanners latticin away at each other like a herd of horny whales necessarily leads to an eazy-e fillins constructioneer assignment, for the rest of their surroundins. Have U tried to do this latticework gig, on this kind of 2x4 (plus 2 extra kinda broke-lattice-thingies) scale? Looks hard to do. In anyhoo case, man, do we ever get treated to some magnifico lil tasty treats of desperation! Primo fun stuff. Could just gawp at em, for hours. A few choice hits:

* ODIC. gawc! The HORA! Better ODIC clue: {O, TOM … ___ … O, Hairy … ??} Dove-tails better with the past 2 puzs' TOM-TOMs.
* PREV/VIII/NILLA/ELEC. Short-ish for Pre-Vanilla-Election.
* SONDE. Learned somethin newer than snot (or SHAILENEWOODLEY), here. Wanted SONAR. Never on a SONDE.
* MERC/CSIS. Never run, with merccsis-ers in yer grid.
* SFC. Sergeant First Class. This implies that there is an SSC, for this dude to lord over? Good to know. gawp. pardon. (Just had a "fave weeject" twinge.)
* ASCII. Parses to a de-coded "AS 102", intriguinly. I'm just gonna go ahead, and 90%-assume 102 is the code for "U", in this solar "System" … bumps yer U-count right on up to: [ker-ching] 3.9.
* UNGER. Wanted FELIX. To clean my house. Playing the UNGER games only lost me a tiny litter of valuable runt-o-seconds, tho.
* ANI/NEBO/ROYCE/JESSICA+. Nice. Can not complain, as I got all of this, with no problemo. Gawp clap, for m&e.

The Official M&A Overalls Difficulty Rating: Hello, Mary Lou -- Gawp-bye Heart.

Masked & Anonymo3.9Us


Andrew Heinegg 12:43 PM  

I looked in the mirror and realized I was looking at a pop culture illiterate after doing this puzzle. I was able to figure out every letter of Ms. Woodley's name, save for the S to start since I also don't know the initials making up the 'Academy'. But, other than the stated objections of others such as gawp (please!, not even in the suggestions above the letters line), it is a nice little effort.

Bronxdoc 1:00 PM  

Agree pretty much with Rex. Had gape first, had never heard of sonde or Shailene, and had no love for prev. For me, done at a snails pace.

TrudyJ65 1:02 PM  

Big TFioS fan so I had no trouble with SHAILENE, but JESSICA was in the category of "actors whose names I've heard but don't really know who they are." Much easier than most Fridays for me.

Does anyone ever clue CSIS as "Canuck spy agency"? Would anyone get it if they did?

Teedmn 1:22 PM  

Nice Friday puzzle although I had a DNF pileup at the SW corner. I had AMPAg (thinking the 27D acronym ended in Actor's guild) so the actress at 46A was gHAILENE. I read the book "The Fault in Our Stars", very good, I cried. The movie got great reviews but I didn't know the actress. JESSICA CHASTAIN on the other hand, has become ubiquitous. I saw her first in 'The Help'.

In the far SW, I had AvAsT and obI at 51A. Even though I was staring right at the O of obI when I realized 51D was AJAR, I continued to go ODIC there. "O, JAR" is my version of "Ode to a Grecian Urn"

I dropped 'dead' before TROU, had the universal GApe before GAWP and the three letter cereal of the day was first kix, but I 'kixed' that. Nice clue for 44D, YOKES. Watching CHIN REST emerge was fun and the double "nonplus" cluing also.

Thanks, MLG.

Bob Kerfuffle 1:22 PM  

Late delivery of my NY Times today due to (now rapidly melting) snow. Since I got the paper so late, I had already had both breakfast and lunch, so I just sat down and did the puzzle uninterruptedly. Took about 17 minutes. Seemed a lot quicker than my usual Friday, but I rarely do a puzzle at home without distractions.

Unfortunately, finished with wrong letter at 27D/46A. (Hi, John V. -- See you at Westport tomorrow?)

Two w/o's: 9A, had the R at the end, could only think of OSCAR at first, needed some crosses to get UNGER; and 57 D, AURA >> AIRS.

Joseph Michael 1:24 PM  

I liked this puzzle until I got to the grid-spanning names which made me fume in UNGER.

One third of the puzzle is proper nouns. There's lots of bad fill. And I don't have a CHIN REST on my guitar. WHAT MORE CAN I SAY?

jae 1:29 PM  

Easy-medium for me. The only answer that wasn't familiar was A MODEST PROPOSAL .

Me too for GAWk.

IIII before VII which OCHO fixed.

Very nice set of 15s, liked it.

Crossworder 1:54 PM  

To those who were concerned about the grammatical correctness of "powerful offers" in yesterday's puzzle, the off-ers are the killers, those who OFF other people, so the mafia are, indeed, powerful offers. I loved that clue!

Thomas 2:09 PM  

GAWP was awful.

SONDE, ABAFT, and IRAE obscure (to me). (But, hey, it's Friday.)

Fine with either CSIS or EMTS, but both?
Fine with either actress, even though I've seen neither movie and hadn't even heard of the former, but both?

I'd personally never heard of HORA, but it was a dance, so I didn't expect to. Is it commonly known? Interesting that it was just below "Horatian" clue.

TROU made up for the dusty UNGER.

Unknown 2:35 PM  

I agree with everything Rex had to say. Loved the longer answers: AT A SNAIL'S PACE, I'LL BITE, WHAT MORE CAN I SAY?, A MODEST PROPOSAL. I'm lucky that my partner knew SHAILENE WOODLEY and JESSICA CHASTAIN.

I have always had a soft spot for the movie version of CANNERY ROW starring Nick Nolte and Debra Winger (and narrated by John Huston!). I need to go order me a beer milkshake.

We did not finish as we were stumped by the NEBO/ABAFT crossing.

A fun Friday!

dick swart 2:41 PM  

Cliche line : "I'd like to thank the Academy ..." of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

And the Sciences awards you don't see on the Big Night are for the effects that create enjoyment and big bucks at the box office! Sometimes the only reason for seeing a flick.

Chronic dnfer 2:56 PM  

Gawp? Didn't know either actress. Guessed Dexter. Pole a better answer for 15a. Dnf here.

Dolgo 3:30 PM  

This was more of a challenge for me that "easy-medium" would suggest, but I persisted. Got most of the hard stuff, but came up short with "addle" for some reason. I shouldn't give up so easily! Many of the challenges (most of which were easier for me that they seemed to be for many others. I really enjoy a good challenge on Friday s and Saturday s!

Z 4:30 PM  

@Berselius - Nonplus
@Northbeach - Sin - using a word in a clue that is also an answer, even if a different form or tense. Lesser sin - using the same word twice as an answer. Not a sin - using the same word as a clue twice (here with different tenses because the answers are different tenses). A feature - using homographs as clues to mess with the solver.

@kozmikvoid - Anything related to or derived from our flirting with McCarthyism is always relevant, even if there isn't a movie out or a Broadway revival of The Crucible. Of course, I'm the guy who just picked up Nixon's The Real War at a used book store for a little schadenfreudesque amusement. I'm only to page 11 and have already run into the paranoic, "...we find ourselves confronted with a choice between surrender or suicide - red or dead," the sixties described as an era of "anti-intellectualism," a plea to not hold "our Africa policies hostage to the bitter memories still cherished by those who struggled for racial equality in America," {because aren't all bitter memories "cherished"?}, and praise for those waging "jihad" {yes, italicized in the original} in Afghanistan.

A reminder that, as a common courtesy, writing about yesterday's puzzle should happen in yesterday's comment section. Not everyone solves puzzles in order. Or at least be kind enough to not include any spoilers.

G. Weissman 4:43 PM  

Exactly when did it become Kosher to use any word in French or Spanish in the NYT crossword? I understand foreign words that have migrated into English, but "senat"? I see this more and more in the puzzle, and it seems a cheap way to do fills.

Dolgo 5:15 PM  

This was more of a challenge for me that "easy-medium" would suggest, but I persisted. Got most of the hard stuff, but came up short with "addle" for some reason. I shouldn't give up so easily! Many of the challenges (most of which were easier for me that they seemed to be for many others. I really enjoy a good challenge on Friday s and Saturday s!

Leapfinger 5:33 PM  

I guess if WWhitman can YAWP, MLGuizzo can GAWP, though I, with most, will gape and gawk.

It was a fun gal thing for me to know ASCI before I ever learned of ASCII, and it's still a fun gal pleasure to see though it hasn't had mush room to grow.

Seems I was right on the median as far as Square 46 and most other traps are concerned, though I differed in the Felix/UNGER dichotomy: living as I do in Nascar country, I first went with UNsER (sigh). Initially, also considered WHAT_MORE_do_you_want. JESSICA_CHASTAIN was all The Help I needed.

Loved seeing old friends like CANNERY_ROW and A_MODEST_PROPOSAL, the Middle Eastern grouping of ACRE, Mt NEBO and King TNUT, and everything in @Sir Hillary's last para.

GO AT AS NAILS PACE? I guess if feet have NAILS, NAILS can have feet...

Far as I know, the SuperBowl is this SONDE-day, but I aren't sure which day is EX-PAT Day. Guess y'all will have to check with your individual EXes.

Bottom line: MLG sure showed a lot of DEXTERity in this construction

Now to let the old CHIN-wag take a REST, and see what the other comments have to say.

Enjoy! from LEAKY

kitshef 5:50 PM  

@Northbeach - enervate means the opposite of what a lot people suppose.

old timer 6:55 PM

In which the Weavers remind us to "dance the hora". It was the B-side of "Goodnight Irene", the Weavers' greatest hit. Only folk music in my house when I was a kid, and boy did I love that record. The version above includes a comment by the genial Lee Hays about how they decided to sing most of the song in Hebrew.

I wanted PFC, of course, but I know enough to have thought that a PFC is an E-3 if not an E-2. So had to be some sort of sergeant.

I'll just repeat what I always say. The NYT expects you took French in high school, and have a very basic knowledge of Spanish, and at least a musical/geographical knowledge of Italian (e.g., "Firenze" for Florence or "Roma" for Rome, along with "adagio" etc.). German tends to be more limited. Fine with me -- I took 4 years of Spanish in high school, a crash-course in French after my Freshman year in college, and ended up becoming an insatiable reader of French novels and stories. Really, if the entire puzzle was in French I could do it as long as everything was in the present or simple past/future/present subjunctive tenses. (I never saw the point of learning the verb forms the French hardly ever use themselves -- save that arcana for Spanish which uses every known verb form! And I'm I'm pretty good at at least *faking* Italian -- you need about 50 basic words, and if you know the linguistic rules, can easily translate your Spanish to Italian -- basically, you get rid of any Spanish diphthongs and replace them with the most likely vowel.

Steve M 6:59 PM  

A wonderful Friday puzzle except for gawp which got me off to a rough start but all is well that ends well so to speak

Mohair Sam 7:13 PM  

Any puzzle that crosses A MODEST PROPOSAL with CANNERY ROW is a fine puzzle in my estimation, CSIS and EMTS be damned.

Surprised at all the bitchin' herein about GAWP, a fine and spoken word in my universe. And I'm shocked, shocked!, that so many of you don't know who all the Oscar winners thank when they thank The Academy.

@Rex has a point about two long pop culture actresses - we don't know WOODLEY but she filled. CHASTAIN's last name stuck because of her terrific performance in "Zero" and her sharing of the name with Brandy (I'm a sports geek), JESSICA had to fill however.

@Martin Abresch - Didn't know they'd made a flick of "Cannery Row" - thanks for the heads up. Hello Netflix.

Chronic dnfer 7:21 PM  

So no one else wrote in pole at 15a?

Moses 7:59 PM  

Mt NEBO is the place where I was granted a view of the Promised Land, that I was never to reach myself.

Anonymous 8:13 PM  

@old timer, yup. Charles Stewart Rolls and Sir Frederick Henry Royce formed a partnership in 1904.

Luis Buñuel 8:34 PM  

Anyone who doesn't know Dalton Trumbo, make some effort to see Johnny Got His Gun (1971). The movie may be older than you are, but worth it. Interesting that Metallica bought the rights to the film so they could keep using its scenes in their video of One without paying royalties.

Crossworder 8:37 PM  

@Z. You're right and I'm sorry. I'm new here, and I won't do it again. Thanks.

puzzle hoarder 9:15 PM  

It's been a busy day at work so my comment is late. This was too fast of a puzzle. I was so happy with my time I didn't check through to spot a couple of obvious mistakes.
I thought Woosley looked right. After finishing the SE I didn't look back to see Sexter. While it would make an interesting title I like to think I'd come up with Dexter being slightly familiar with the show.
As glaring as that mistake is putting CFC in 60D is even worse. Even I wouldn't spell Jessica that way,at least if I was just writing it by itself.
A lot of people were stumped by Nebo. I don't know why it was familiar to me. I have no record of seeing it in a puzzle. My best guess is it's in the name of a church I've seen.
In just the 4 or 5 months I've been following this blog (commenting is much more recent) this is the third time I've seen ASCII.
This is the first time for entering AMPAS that I knew what all the letters stood for. That makes it very easy to put them in order. @Tita thanks for the tech advice. The spouse could probably teach me.

Diana,LIW 9:22 PM  


Tomorrow you can view a land of promise in the past.

My deLorean awaits...

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

PS - Par Tee

North Beach 9:47 PM  

Yup, @kitshef, got me on that one too. SMH.

Anonymous 10:18 PM  

@Thomas 2:09p, seeing "Horatio" in the clue just above HORA raises some interesting ideas about 'second-order'/'shadow' cluing. Hope this doesn't drop TROUble in your lap.

OISK 10:39 PM  

Terrible puzzle, my worst finish in a year. Got Naticked in three places, had no shot, and guessed wrong each time. GAWP is a word? dNF. Shailene is a name? Dnf2 . Abaft? That makes three. Two movie names across, a movie acronym down, crossing a brand name..No shot, not rewarding. A Bronx cheer from Brooklyn....

OISK 10:53 PM  

Worst finish in years. Three errors, all impossible Naticks where I guessed wrong. Gawp??? Shailene? Crossed with a movie acronym? Unforgivable. Awful. And finally, Abaft with Nebo. That one , perhaps, I should have gotten. But Acronyms should not be crossed with obscure first names. Never. Not even on Saturday.

Amelia 1:04 AM  

You would find the word "gawp" in many works of literature, particularly English literature. If you were more familiar with literature than you seem to be, that is.

spacecraft 11:23 AM  

Hand up for the GApe/GAWk/GAWP evolution; my #4 square looks like Ground Zero. But it's a P, I'm telling you. You can't make it out, but it's a P. I know, I know: Use A Pencil.


Further messy inkage occurs at set before ILK. Despite these gaffes, also despite my not knowing who those actresses are, I found most of this pretty smooth sailing. Until, that is, I got to the SW. There, i had to GOATASNAILSPACE. What is with all these uber-obscure geographical names lately? Yesterday OBAN, and today--not to be one-upped--NEBO. NEBO, really?? Where do you guys even FIND this stuff? A bit further up, there are too many I's. ASCII crossing VIII looks like desperate fill. I agree the fifteens are good, though.

Another hand up for the green-painty feel of GRANDSTANDSEATS. It's the grandstand, folks. Despite the name "stand," there are ALWAYS seats there. (I'm guessing there didn't use to be, else why call them "stands?")

When I see the name CHASTAIN I, as I'm sure most do, think of the top-shedding Brandi of Team USA fame.

I've only ever seen "nonplus" in the passive, a la clue #29-down. an amusing term; why didn't they just say "minused?" The whole thing ADDLEs me.

Since I've never seen either of those gridspanning girls, I'll have to go with lady GAGA as today's yeah baby. She'll do quite nicely. Overall easy-medium; Let's award a B; allowances have to be made for some rough fill in this grid.

Burma Shave 12:59 PM  


I DARED her, “remove your SKIRT and show me
that PRIME ACREage of body heat.”

She said, “I’LLBITE”, not TAKENABACK,
“GOATASNAILSPACE when you play.”
Was it a RISK to drop TROU? NAE, I had the knack.


rain forest 1:30 PM  

Nice puzzle, though if I didn't know AMPAS (remembered Arlene Francis talking about the "Academy of..." and thinking: pretentious), I might not have got that actress. Other than that, the puzzle went smoothly once I settled on GAWP, a perfectly good word, which I think preceded 'gawk' in the lexicon. They are synonyms, I think.

HORA first heard on a Weavers' record, as mentioned above.

@Judith65 - you wondered if anyone would get 24D if clued "Canuck spy agency".
I would, although it might better be clued "Clutzy Canuck spy agency".
I liked the show DEXTER, but my better half halted our watching after three seasons.

There were a lot of nice clues in here, and I can overlook the few squishy/desperate entries which hardly ever bother me anyway, because overall the solving experience was enjoyable. Loved the grid-spanners.

Cathy 2:18 PM  

GAWP! Really? Yes. Didn't you run the alphabet? No. Why not? Because, because Kenned sounded okay. Ya know, we gotta get those farm animals in the kennel. Get em all Kenned up...

So even with my google fest I DNF, or ahem, solve. Didn't know the actresses, Newts alma mater, Dexter. Liked seeing good ole Felix (the cat) UNGER.

leftcoastTAM 2:19 PM  

Went along Wednesdayish until ending in the SW region where I triple-Naticked by choosing the Arabic nine instead of the Roman VIII. {sigh}

Consolation (aka DNF) prize for correctly guessing NEBO.

Otherwise (a big otherwise, I admit) an unusually easy Friday.

rondo 2:45 PM  

Yep. GApe/GAWk/GAWP got me too. The SW was the other inkfest with 51a: obI, and 51d: open, and Sgt for SFC. But I like my Zebra pens. The rest of the grid is remarkably inkblot-free.

First thought for 9a was felix, but NAE, 13d was not clued for an xray.

Was expecting a little more outta @spacey re: the RRN: VIII and the TNUT. And maybe an old car of his was a MERC.

GAWP. Feast or famine in the yeah baby department. They’re all over this puz from top to bottom and I would offer up AMODESTPROPOSAL to any of them. So where to start? I prefer to go down. Right there at 1d GAGA could be clued as the Lady, and down low ANI could have been DiFranco; both righteous musical yeah babies; they haven’t TAKENABACK seat to anyone. Now for those yeah babies who were actually clued. Again, I prefer to go down. (I’ll keep usin’ that one until I get a synderella to take note.) Supermodel NAOMI for sure, though her taste in Russian oligarchs must be questioned (AJAR ODIC ACHE there). SHAILENEWOODLEY is not yet as ubiquitous (thanks to @teedMN for the word) as yeah baby JESSICACHASTAIN, but probably will be soon. Yeah baby. Wouldn’t be surprised to see her first name pop up in future late week puzzles. Remember it.

Gotta like a puz with all those long answers. They can be helpful or they can be killers. Or yeah babies. TSK.

ecanarensis 3:32 PM  

As usual the actress/TV stuff left me clueless (except for the ancient UNGER).

However, my addiction to Alistair MacLean novels --he had me with "HMS Ulysses," starting in childhood-- stood me in good stead. His folks often used radio-SONDE balloons ("Ice Station Zebra" for one...outstanding book, dreadful movie). A hearty salute, Alistair, wherever you are.

Diana,LIW 3:54 PM  

Mind the GAWP! That's SONDE advice.

A fun solve for the 15ers, but some of the other unknowns gave me another dnf. So, I'll put the puzzle ABAFT me for now, and BEBOPing along.

Was at a car show once where I overheard a car owner say, "Yes, all my Rolls are Silver Ghosts." Sure. Me too.

Diana, The Gawking Lady

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