Fragile fabric made from certain plant fibers / FRI 2-26-16 / 1991 Scorsese De Niro collaboration / Pioneering labor leader samuel / My response was informally / Yellow-flowered plant procuing sticky resin / Barber five-time Pro Bowler from Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Friday, February 26, 2016

Constructor: Paula Gamache

Relative difficulty: Medium-Challenging

THEME: none 

Word of the Day: ALOE LACE (15A: Fragile fabric made from certain plant fibers) —

Hvar: agave or aloe lace

Hvar lace is unique in that the thread is collected from the aloe leaves of agave plants that grow on the island. The leaves are picked at a certain time of the year and are then specially processed to produce a thin, white thread. // The Benedictine nuns in the town of Hvar are the only ones who make the Hvar lace, which is also called "aloe lace". (wikipedia, buried deep, deep in the entry for "Lacemaking in Croatia")
• • •

This seemed pretty good, and pretty hard, but I'm not sure about either judgment because I solved it while watching and Tweeting about the GOP debate last night. Looking over the grid, I'll stand solidly by the "pretty good" part. There were a couple of plant-based answers that were from outer space (ALOE LACE being the more hilariously outlandish cousin of GUM WEED (21D: Yellow-flowered plant producing a sticky resin), whatever that is), and there were a few unfortunate short answers, but otherwise it's mostly vibrant, colloquial, current, and (especially for a 66-worder) smooth. If I went strictly by my solving time, I'd have this in the Challenging category, but I have to factor in my debate distraction, as well as the time I spent getting a couple of mid-solve screengrabs, so ... Medium-Challenging. The distinction hardly matters. It played harder than average. Those NW and SE corners, because they have the little-answer footholds, were easy enough to polish off, but I found everything from the NE to the SW to be Saturday-hard. Thought I was gonna cut into the middle with ease after ESCAPE KEY came effortlessly out of the bottom part of the NW corner, but it got me precisely nothing.

Tried all the Down crosses, came up empty. Never heard of CUT TIME, so I was at a real advantage there (36D: 2/2, to Toscanini). Thought 24D: Noisy recreation vehicles would be some kind of BIKES ... maybe? (no). Had to reboot with SOU (48D: Trifle) in the SW, which got me USERFEES and RAF and on from there. SE was probably the easiest part of the grid for me.

But again those teeny tiny openings into mid-grid made breaking this thing open very tough. Somehow, from -------US, I got BETWEEN US (29A: "Mum's the word"). I think that "N" seemed probably based on my sense that 11D: Adds with a whisk would probably end in "IN" (it did), so I went with it. And then BE PATIENT jumped out from the B-P------ pattern and I had the traction I needed. Love "I'M LIKE" since it's ubiquitous and yet I (almost?) never see it in crosswords. Hate Y'ERS, as no one ever ever ever ever said that. No one even knows what Gen Y is. It goes Boomers, Gen X'ers, Millennials, and then ... Freegans, I think. I forget. What the everloving fudge is Gen Y anyway? Let alone this alleged "Y'ERS" thing. Yikes. I wonder if the fill was originally NEWTON over OXHIDE over TAILED. Not that the resulting ODER or NEDS would be great or even good ... it's just that the NEWTON / NEDS version seems like a more plausible way to go than NEW TOY (kinda "green paint") and Y'ERS (atrocity). But these are minor issues in an overwhelmingly solid puzzle.

Signed, Rex Parker, King of CrossWorld

P.S. wait, who the hell is PA BARKER? (32D: His wife and sons were Depression-era criminals). I keep googling and finding squat. Did anyone actually call this non-criminal guy "PA BARKER?" When I google "pa barker" in quotation marks I get, first hit, some old episode of "The Untouchables" TV show (?), and then a bunch of Pennsylvania-related things. Image search is worse. Just pictures of houses (??). PA BARKER seems pretty spurious. 

P.P.S. sorry I wasn't clear—Of Course I *know* who *Ma* Barker is (please stop sending me wikipedia links). She is famous. She existed. PA BARKER never did. Her husband's name was "George." He was never known as PA BARKER.  These aren't the Kettles, people. Come on.

[Follow Rex Parker on Twitter and Facebook]


jae 12:06 AM  

Medium-tough for me too. Tried Tikki (yes, one K) before RONDE, Frat before FETA, and AstrO before ALAMO and I've been to San Antonio a lot, D'oh!

And, I skimmed the BARKER clue, missed the "his" part so had mA for a while.

Just about perfect for a Fri. Tough enough with some zip. Liked it a lot!

George Barany 12:34 AM  

@Rex, I enjoyed your review of @Paula Gamache's puzzle, along with your twitter feed describing the GOP debate.

Great scholarship on the hypothetical PA_BARKER. Of course, MA_BARKER is legendary, and there's Clyde's Bonnie Parker as well as Ma and Pa Kettle, but you're right about the non-existent pater familias of crime at 32-Down.

Neil 1:03 AM  

PA BARKER - I guess the husband of Ma Barker? A huge stretch for me:

Keen Ween 1:07 AM  

Somehow I finished this even thought I threw down 'stIrS IN' at 11-down and then right after that 'snIpeR' at 18-across (which is a better answer for the clue, right?) and was so sure of both. I was dying a slow painful death up there until I figured out that some answer must've been wrong. Along with having, at times, 'ESkimo bay' (sounds like a northwest kinda place) for ESCAPE KEY and 'not so fast' for BE PATIENT this was damn hard. Definitely entertaining though.

Also, when NOSTRIL (42 A: Blow hole?) went in I'M LIKE: "LOL, What is this? The Buzzfeed puzzle? Wow!"

Then I realized the clue still works without refering to cocaine. Well played, NYT.

Anonymous 1:21 AM  

Pretty unpleasant experience. Crosswordese like bahs, tatas. sou, fob, nisi, uhs, juris, etc., a good dose of not altogether common trivia like sandra oh, gompers. cape fear. aloe lace, geminis, gumweed, pen sets, Roboto, Ronde, loader, etc., a heavy dose of phrase answers which are almost always a pain like sure you are, between us, oh dear me, etc., and then the entry escape key which maybe has the clue of the year for artificial difficulty due to deliberate vagueness and general whose clue is quite the heavy lift as well.

I can see liking this puzzle or feeling it's well constructed but I found it a tough slog in a few spots and not very enjoyable.

Anonymous 2:48 AM  

Hmm. PA BARKER may be a joke. NEW TOY seems familiar to me as a humorous (and perhaps dated) phrase referencing childlike delight in technological novelties. Are the ESCAPE KEYs Puget Sound islets?

Alby 3:07 AM  

This one almost broke my streak (110 days). Healthy blend of Scrabble letters, good cluing, misdirection, strange but guessable words (ALOELACE, GUMWEED, SUBARID), colloquialisms. Pushed me to my limit.

Jon Alexander 6:42 AM  

Agree the middle was tough.

@Rex...I agree with the spurious nature of the PABARKER answer. I am assuming his is referring to George Barker who married the woman who was later known as MA BARKER. She and her four sons went on a killing robbery spree in the late 1920s. However George Barker had left them before this occurred and was never referred to as Pa Barker, at least in any kind of general usage.

GILL I. 7:01 AM  

Boy, I had that same head scratching experience with PA BARKER. I could have sworn it was dear sweet MA. Did the boys even call him PA?
I had some glitches along the way but I didn't care because I really liked this puzzle. Had a hell of a time with ROBOTO/RONDE and I so loved my entry "SURE as rain" for being all Uh-huh which took the GOMPERS out of me until I finally change it. @Rex's easy peasy ESCAPE KEY had me flaring my NOSTRILs.
What I particularly liked was Paula's cluing. She's always fun with her words too. VAMOOSED BOOMED GALOSHES galore.
Remember, TATAS aren't just for breakfast anymore...

Loren Muse Smith 7:04 AM  

This was beastly difficult for me. Hardest themeless in a long time. I would've thrown in the towel with only about half finished. But, I really, really wanted to be successful because, well, any grid with POMPOUS ASS, I'M LIKE, SURE YOU ARE, and the clue for NOSTRIL is just terrific.

At one point, I was so desperate that I started goofing around with thoughts like:

"killer" instead of TAILOR as the one getting lots of take-out orders
"Eugene Ore" for ESCAPE KEY. Sheesh.
"red fox" for NEW TOY (I guess a romp session with that little guy could be exciting in a This Could End Very Badly kind of way. (Rex – I had "xers" for YERS until the very end.)

"Semi sec" for SUB ARID mucked up that area forever. And "sure you did" wreaked havoc down in the southeast.

There’s a little vignette running through this:

So he was sitting there, already in his galoshes, and he’s like, “I’m just gonna sit at home. And I’m like, “Sure you are, you pompous ass.” Jerk. Then I told him to vamoose those gompers from his nostril.

I ended up with a double-whammy dnf. First, I forgot to guess at the GOMPERS/GUMWEED cross. I probably would’ve gone with that G, but Tompers, Mompers, Dompers, Rompers… lots could’ve been feasible. And second, I had “booned” crossing “nls.” Oh dear me – I guess “boon” isn’t a verb.

@chronic dnfer from yesterday - your "I had find crossing pogied.." just hit my funny bone. I love "pogied" so much more than "pogoed."

@M&A - excellent dung beetle sentence!

This was a great puzzle. Bravo, Paula.

Anonymous 7:58 AM  

It was so difficult that on my first pass I had one single entry. That's when I decided to skip the second pass.

tb 8:12 AM  

PA BARKER probably should have been clued with a question mark. I liked it though, and dropped it in without any crosses.

I was naticked by ROBOTO and RONDE. Don't know either. Ran the alphabet and it could have been anything.


optionsgeek 8:16 AM  

OK, I'll say it, POMPOUSASS is odds on favorite for word-of-the-year award, 2016.

jberg 8:26 AM  

Had to cheat -- came here, saw that obscure Alaskan islet was actually the ESCAPE KEY, and went away to put in the rest of the SW, which was easy once I had that.

What really threw me off was "to Toscanini." I mean, it's CUT TIME for everybody, so why the Italian reference? I put in 'alla due,' since the correct 'alla breve' wouldn't fit. All I could get out of that was INVERT, and then I was so fixated on dogs that I couldn't get SLAV from the V.

But it was all worth it, since it led to my learning that Wikipedia has an article on "Lacemaking in Croatia."

@Rex, I'd be happy to see NEDS if you clue it "Flanders and Rorem."

Robert Friedman 8:48 AM  

Pa Barker being a sorta joke. We know Ma Barker and her dangerous sons, so...

Dorothy Biggs 8:50 AM  

POMPOUSASS and conversations about the GOP debate last night seem appropriate. And Rex, funny you declared the notorious pompous ass himself as winner of last night's debate (via Twitter) appears most news outlets, including the NYT, say otherwise. There is disagreement about who won, but certainly The Donald came out of the slugfest with lots o' 'splainin' to do. Not the least of which he appeared to have reverted to his middle school playground days. Ugh.

As for the puzzle, this one was an average booster for me. I don't know why exactly this was so much more challenging...I didn't seem to get hung up in any place in particular, it just took a lot longer than "average."

RES, JURIS, and NISI all in one puzzle. Where's nolo when you need it?

I guessed on GOMPERS/GUMWEED, dangerously close to a natick for me. The G appeared very arbitrary...a B or an S or a T could have easily gone in there.

I had wee before SMA. Sma? Nae.

Dumb clue of the day: "It's in the far northwest" (ESCAPEKEY, 35A). Precious. Just precious.

Sir Hillary 8:56 AM  

I whipped through the NW in no time, anchored by the gimmes CAPEFEAR and ALAMODOME. Next was the NE, with GOMPERS and WHIPSIN as my footholds. Things got a bit tougher in the SE, but ROBOTO, RONDE and SANDRAOH saw me through. Then I really bogged down. BETWEENUS came easily, but the rest of the middle stayed pure white. The SE was even harder, and only after BEPATIENT showed itself did the rest of the puzzle finally give in.

As I read the above, I realize that I tend to run counter to @Z's PPP theorem. The more there is, the better I tend to do.

Overall, I found this a quite enjoyable solve. POMPOUSASS, NOTORIETY, SUREYOUARE, SITATHOME, and BEPATIENT are all superb. If the price for such gems is a collection like EMP, RES, NISI, UHS, BAHS and YERS, I'll pay it.

-- Good, tough Friday clues for GENERAL, OMEN, TILE, and ESCAPEKEY.
-- Before "millennials" was a term, there were Boomers, Gen X and Gen Y. Agree with @Rex that no one really says YERS, at least not anymore. I read the clue's parenthetical as an acknowledgement of that.
-- For a minute I thought we might have our second themed Friday running, this time a rebus, because I looked over what appeared to be [raw]HIDE and S[emi]ARID in immediate succession.
-- Agree with @tb that PABARKER's clue needed a question mark.
-- Not a fan of TATAS. Feels like TATA would already be "words".
-- "Pomeranian" had me thinking dog.
-- I hope one of our classical music experts explains CUTTIME, because I have no idea what that is.

Good start to the weekend!

Leapfinger 9:08 AM  

I thought Mr. BARKER first, but realized right away he wouldn't be shown that much respect. Enjoyed the idea of Pie ALA MODOME and the vision of Samuel GOMPERS in TAILOR-made rompers.

SUBARID: Finally sold that dang Outback

No, really, I can't be the only one to WHIP IN that 'Something exciting to play with' is a SEX_TOY. Anyone?

Good times when you can enjoy your mistakes.

Friday: Enjoy it!

Mr. Benson 9:15 AM  

3/4 easy and 1/4 challenging (the SW) for me. CUT TIME and PA BARKER meant nothing to me. I put it down for a while, came back fresh, saw NOSTRIL and was able to finish it off.

I'm fortunate enough to be a football fan and 1980s Styx listener, so RONDE and ROBOTO were a pair of gimmes.

Somehow I intuited NEW TOY quickly from the clue with no crosses, so that got the NE going pretty smoothly for me.

Indypuzzler 9:17 AM  

I really liked this puzzle, very clever.
@Rex, I agree on the Gen Y situation. My daughter who is 32 considers herself a Gen Y but she has said that really she is considered a Millenial. She thinks of Gen Y as a narrow age range subset that relate to (or not) the Gen Xers but also relate to (but not quite) the larger age range of "Millenials" below them. About 5-7 years of people who aren't quite either and are like both. What say everyone else on that?

Susan Quilty 9:36 AM  

That PA BARKER clue had me seething last night. They must be referring to the infamous Ma Barker's husband, but he was a footnote in that story and, as far as I could find, never went by that nickname. They could have at least put a "?" after the clue.

But it did remind me of a disco song that I loved when I was a kid: Ma Baker (They changed her name to Baker for the song because it "sounded better" - Ha!)

Humbert H 9:58 AM  

Any relation to Clare?

blinker474 10:10 AM  

Many of you have already commented on this complaint by Rex:

"P.S. wait, who the hell is PA BARKER? (32D: His wife and sons were Depression-era criminals)."

I'm in agreement with those who believe it to be a made up word, but who also think that's just fine, since it's so obvious once you get ..barker.

Very tough puzzle for me, also very enjoyable. Thank you Paula Gamache and Will Shortz.
(I note that Shortz still gets the red underline; can't the NYT fix that?)

Hartley70 10:17 AM  

Whoa, this was tough and way harder than an average Saturday. I had it...I had it....until the final two letters. I couldn't see the M in BOOMED or the T in CUTTIME. I ran the alphabet. But BOOnED and CUeTIME just looked better. I may need new glasses.

pmdm 10:19 AM  

What is the answer to the clue "Winery on Lake Seneca NW of Watkins Glen"? Of course, there are a lot, but POMPOUSASS is one possible answer. The labels used by the winery feature a donkey dress if spiffy clothes. Great fun.

My interest was whetted by the commentary, so I entered PA BARKER (without quotes) in a Google search. The first hit was the Wikipoedia entry for Ma Barker, which made it easy to reason out PABARKER as the answer. But it really is fairly ludicrous that the constructor and editors allowed an apparently made up name to appear in a puzzle, even if wasn't that difficult to figure out.

Z 10:23 AM  

I'm finding the PA BARKER discussion amusing. I'm pretty sure that cloning technology was non-existent at the turn of the 20th century, so of course there was a PA BARKER. Ma was infamous, but she didn't have those boys without help. The clue references the infamous Ma, fine by me.

NEW TOY is a fine phrase. It can refer somewhat innocently to the guy who always needs the latest tech, car, or JET SKI, "Oh that Z and all his NEW TOYs." Less innocently, it can refer to the Donalds of the world and their penchant for replacing wives with a NEW TOY.

Challenging here. One unfortunate crossing (RONDE/SANDRA OH) but an otherwise low PPP count and ratio (14/66, 21%). Toss Mr. ROBOTO in that corner and I was a little surprised when I counted. Still, it was not PPP that made this challenging to me.

Rex is oft accused of having constructor biases. For the last Gamache puzzle I referenced how generally negative Rex has been about her puzzles. Then he goes and writes a GENERALly positive review about a GENERALly good puzzle. Damn him for not living down to his critics opinions.

Anonymous 10:47 AM  

Hilariously thought that 9A was boytoy for a quick second ;)

Z 10:50 AM  

A half dozen comments appeared while I typed. I hate when that happens.

@Sir Hillary - My little research project isn't really about what works for individual solvers. Back on 2/13 I thought the puzzle was wonderful when a bunch of older solvers thought it was atrocious. Using my rubric I see now that the puzzle had a high level of PPP, that those solvers complaints were valid. I'm predicting some natick calls in the SE, but not wide spread damning of the puzzle for too much pop culture in today's puzzle.

@Indypuzzler - I always thought that Generation Y'ERs were older then Millenials. To me a Millenial is someone who reached majority since the turn of the century. But it is all made up stuff, GENERALizations to sate our pattern-seeking needs. There is a wide range of normal out there.

Kimberly 10:51 AM  

Hated this one from the get-go. Maybe I was just in a terrible mood from dealing with a real estate crisis all day, but I wanted to punch my iPad repeatedly while solving. Every single first guess answer was wrong. Every one. I think ROBOTO was the first correct answer I got, informing me that every other south east answer was wrong wrong wrong. For the first time in a long time the NYT xword just made me feel stupid. Might have been the Ativan. Might have been the brain fog from stress. Might have been old age. Or maybe I'm just stupid now and have to learn to navigate the rest of my life with half a brain. Thanks, Friday crossword, for illuminating for me my new-found state as an idiot. Seethe.

Bob Kerfuffle 10:54 AM  

Good one! Agree, Medium-Challenging.

One w/o: 45 D, BOOS >> BAHS.

Two entries I pondered but never made the wrong entry: 18 A, HITMAN >> TAILOR; 47 A, SAYS ME (yes, it should really be SEZ ME) >> I'M LIKE.

There is a very infrequently-appearing word in this grid which showed up in another puzzle I did this morning, but rules forbid pointing it out.

RooMonster 10:58 AM  

Hey All !
Tough'un today. Got the NW and SE fairly easy-mediumish, but that NE-middle-SW was a nightmare. Originally had mixeSIN for WHIPSIN, and editOR for TAILOR. But managed to get that corner sussed. Never got the G of _OMPERS, and only other from 21D to SW was BETWEENUS. I also put in EskimobaY for ESCAPEKEY. Oh, had OMEN at 43D. Rest was/stayed white space. Gave up and came here. There were quite a few I wouldn't have figured out after seeing the answers, so glad I saved some ole brain power.

@Anoa and @M&A, from a couple days ago, I was referring to that particular puz at hand that "Hey, Will said yes" because everyone thought it a bad puz, and I had my whiny rant in there! Should have added "to this puz". :-)

And how do you not know Mr. ROBOTO? ;-) Domo.......


Carola 11:05 AM  

Verrrry hard for me to get traction on this one. First pass: GOMPERS, RIG, and FLORET. And so I'M LIKE UH-oh, this is going to be hard. So I did lots and lots of laps around the grid, gradually picking up answers while also revisiting "no idea this time, either" clues a number of times. After an eon, I finally achieved critical mass where I could rely on pattern recognition to speed things up. An enjoyable struggle and satisfying to finish.

Do-overs: My "take-out" person was an edItOr and my blowhard was a knowitAll. For the product of Greek culture, I considered Fage, which is always in my refrigerator.

Unknown 11:07 AM  

Good puzzle!

At first wasn’t really in the mood for a tough Friday crossword, but looked at a few clues and what do I see? 28a Chuck! Well, seeing my name with its own clue, my mood changed for the better. However I couldn’t make McGregor fit, so I TOSSed that idea out (har).

First entry was GOMPERS from my youthful stamp-collecting hobby. Then FLORET, as just had some broccoli. From then on, slow and steady won the day (my usual, the slow steady part that is, not the winning). I fill in the “K” for IMLIKE and ( ‘cause I’M LIKE online) was literally startled when the “Congratulations” pop-up suddenly….well….popped up. I just wasn’t aware it was my last letter, let alone that my fill would all be correct! I literally said to myself “What the…? Wait! You didn’t give me a chance….” (to pause a moment before I fill in the last letter, as is my normal wont, to scan the puzzle a bit then get ready to savor the jingle or get my “solved it” hopes dashed). No. Boom!! There is was, telling me, “Ready or not, you solved it!” Well, that was no fun! Jeesh. The nerve! How rude! OH DEAR ME.

CAPE FEAR for a NEW TOY (seeing “some assembly required” and the instructions are in Chinglish)

ALOE LACE >>> OXHIDE (range of material strength)

VAMOOSED TAILOR (hope you got your clothes before he was)

INVERT USER FEES (where they pay YOU to cross the bridge)

GUMWEED BAHS (so, you just HAD to try and pick some. Here’s some turpentine)

ESCAPE KEY FETA (well, don’t eat a Greek salad when you type)

NOSTRIL BOA (eeew, just eeew)

BOA UHS (redundancies of the last syllable)

EMPRES GOMPERS (form a union. OK, a stretch.)


Jamie C 11:14 AM  

I confidently entered ONEACROSS at 35-across (it's in the extreme northwest). OHDEARME it took a while to undo that one, but with a prayer to ooxteplernon I got 'er done. I had no idea that PT BARNUM had such a checkered family history though.

Chaos344 11:24 AM  

Excellent puzzle! Took me about 10 minutes longer than my average Friday to conjure up MHP. For a while, I thought I might be looking at my second DNF of the year, but my Taurean nature forced me to persevere.

In no particular order to the solving experience:

Threw in ONEACROSS at 35A but saw almost immediately that it would not work.

I would have jumped on that SEXTOY with LEAPY, but couldn't see how 11D would ever start with an X. GOMPERS was known to me.

Agree with Sir Hillary that GEN Y was legit before "Millennial" replaced it as the preferred term for that demographic.

Not a big NBA fan, so had ASTRO before ALAMO for a spell, until remembering that the Alamo was in San Antonio.

Speaking of DOMES, Domo Arigato MR. ROBATO and you too RONDE. Both of you helped make the SE my second finished quadrant.

Put in PABARKER off the K of IMLIKE. I thought the inference to MA and the kids was pretty obvious, but agree that a question mark for the clue might have been fairer. That fill led directly to NOSTRIL/OMEN/SLAV.

Had to get most of CUTTIME from the crosses, but that nice pair of TAS helped. Likewise for SANDRAOH. Didn't hesitate at 45A. Drag Queen and BOA go together like Fish & Chips!

Finally finished in the NW by parsing POMPOUSASS instead of falling on it! No "stinkin" KIDORY/KABUL/BADU for me today!

@LMS: ROTFLMAO! "Red Fox" or REDD FOXX? They're both little guys. The former lived in a junk yard, while the latter prefers the bush! Maybe that's what Leapy named her SEXTOY?

Well Done Paula!

Nancy 11:25 AM  

A wonderfully enjoyable challenge, filled with aha moments. I would have been here much sooner if I hadn't spent most of my morning on the trail of the discontinued product. Or, rather, the maybe-discontinued product, which is an even more time-consuming pursuit. (Didn't find it; must try a different product.)

I was helped in the SE by SANDRA OH, whom I mainly knew because she was a friend of my niece at Oberlin. Still, the SE was where I almost naticked. I was determined not to, since I liked the puzzle so much that I did want to finish. And therefore, I made an inspired guess at the RONDE/ROBOTO and, yes, LOADER crossing. (Does LOADER sound like a cleaning-up machine to you? It doesn't to me.) I guessed right on all three and so I finished. Another inspired guess was ADULT, since I have no idea what a NSFW link is. Very enjoyable -- marred only by my annoying search for the maybe-discontinued product.

Anonymous 11:27 AM  

Had hitman for TAILOR and inaminute and then inasecond for BEPATIENT. Thank goodness for CUTTIME, which got me started.

The Republican debate? Don't get me started.

old timer 11:28 AM  

I did all of the puzzle except the SE without help. But I simply could not come up with SURE YOU ARE. And RONDE and ROBOTO were a Natick. So I basically looked up all the proper names in that sector. At which point, I got LOADER and LOYAL and was able to finish.

I did have "wee" before SMA, and "meta" before FETA. And was hoping for CAVE *cats* simply because my oldest daughter used to scare her sisters by pretending to be a "cave cat". But BATS it was, obviously.

Gotta say, "nullius JURIS is a legal term you can go for decades without seeing. Same is almost true of RES nullius, but it does come up sometimes. NISI is the most common of the legal words in this puzzle. It used to be, in California, you got a divorce decree that was NISI and you had to wait six months to make it final. NISI means "unless" so I suppose the meaning was, "unless you and your spouse reconcile". NISI or "NISI prius" is an English term for the jurisdiction of a trial court. "Nisi prius" means "unless before" and summonses in civil cases used to require the jurors to appear before the Court of Kings Bench in London unless before ("NISI prius") the stated time the case was first heard at a local court of assize. The Kings Bench judges used to ride circuit, holding courts of assize in, for instance, York then Durham then Newcastle then Carlisle.

Gene 11:35 AM  

Amazing to me how many people don't seem to get the PABARKER joke!

Lewis 11:44 AM  

There were 11 answers outside my knowledge base, so, as Rex says in his review "I was at a real disadvantage there". Needed a couple of research stops. Nonetheless, I loved the grit, the clever cluing (especially NOSTRIL, ESCAPEKEY, PENSETS, and IMLIKE) and some terrific answers (NOTORIETY, POMPOUSASS, and FLORET). I liked NOSTRIL echoing ODOR, and I wanted "hitmen" for those with the take-out orders.

Look at all those interlocking words sashaying across the middle -- this must have been a hard puzzle to put together, and thank you for this terrific result, Paula!

Robso 11:45 AM  

I gave up on this because I threw in ESKIMO--- for "It's in the far northwest" and I was never going to let that go.

Proud Mamma 11:58 AM  

What Susan Komen hopes to save with "the": Tatas.

Martel Moopsbane 12:22 PM  

I knew this was going to be tough for me when the first answer I wrote in was GOMPERS.

Didn't PABARKER go on to fame as the long-time host of The Price is Right?

Masked and Anonymous 12:35 PM  

Research reveals very little about anyone famously known as PABARKER. Ma Barker's hubby was named George, but he never got into the crime biz. Smells like a "desperate criminal" name, to m&e.

This was yer basic 3-bears puz. NW puz was too easy. Middle puz was too hard. SE puz was just right.

YERS. har. M&A is kinda from the yers generation, coincidentally.

fave clue: {Something exciting to play with}. Least fave answer: NEWTOY.

Almost needed to law-yer up, to solve this puppy: RES. JURIS. NISI. {Something exciting to play with}. etc.

Kick M&A when he's down clue: {It's in the far northwest} = ESCAPEKEY. Little known fact, confirmed by research and mainly askin around. Ginormous reset button, hidden in the forests of Oregon, in case of National Emergency. Was installed, right after the Trumpmeister took both the SC and NV primaries.

RONDE ROBOTO. Nickname of a Barker Gang member. Mini-theme.

fave M&A-knew-it immunity answer: GOMPERS. Mystery answers: CUTTIME. GUMWEED. PENSETS. (yo, @muse: bet yah can't use all 3 of those "mystery" jewels in one sentence…)

Thanx, Ms Gamache. Was 14-D clue one of YERS?

Masked & Anonym6Us


kitshef 12:43 PM  

Terrible. IMLIKE, BEPATIENT are bad enough, but then you have SUREYOUARE crossing OHDEARME and SITATHOME. I don't think we have an initialism for short words used to make up an answer when you're too lazy to come up with real puzzle fill, but there oughta be one. Then of course we get the completely made-up PABARKER.

And you do you get away with RES nullius, nullius JURIS and NISI all in one puzzle? (Kudos to the board for forcefully calling that out)

Fairly challenging, probably would have been very challenging if I did not happen to know one, and only one member of the cast of Grey's Anatomy, and if that one did not happen to be the one in the puzzle.

Liked CAPEFEAR, NOTORIETY, and the clue for NOSTRIL. But overall -- ick, no, bleah. Here's hoping the SAT puzzle will yield some joy.

Greg 12:46 PM  

ALOELACE is much more commonly known as Hvar Lace, even though it is in fact made from a certain species of aloe plant.

Greg 12:50 PM  

I'm sorry, but to have:
BETWEENUS, IMLIKE, OHDEARME, BEPATIENT, and OHDEARME all in one puzzle? That's far too much of that for one grid.

mac 12:53 PM  

Tough, a couple of unknowns, but I did piece it together. Good Friday, Paula!

Masked and Anonymous 1:08 PM  


Desperate Fill save of the century…

{Dog announcing Take Yer Pet to Class But No Cats Day over the high sch. intercom system??} = P.A. barker = PABARKER.

Behold again, the power of the double-?? clue.

M&A Save Desk

AliasZ 1:09 PM  

At the feast of Maine (Orono),
With music by Yoko Ono
Wearing a silken kimono,
I'M LIKE: "Oh, no,
That must be SANDRA OH, no?
She is with Apolo Ohno."

If Sandra married Apolo,
Would she call herself Oh-Ohno?

Teedmn 1:24 PM  

A 23-plus minute romp today - great fun. I was thinking of some sort of __bOx crossing xERS in the NE. 'Hitmen' went right in at 18A as I mentally said, "OH DEAR ME, another Mafia clue." 47A was a very confidently filled in as "and I go" instead of I'M LIKE. But I did have one of those nice "mistake that leads to correct answers" moments when putting in SoBeRer for "Moderately dry" let me see PA BARKER. All of the writeovers go through the middle of the grid like an anti-Milky Way but no DNF today.

A genuine groan at GEMINIS' clue. Thanks, Paula Gamache, for the great Friday challenge.

AZPETE 1:28 PM  

Great puz! Got 'er done.

Mark M. 1:55 PM  

I liked the Pa Barker Clue/Answer. maybe because I got it after a couple letters. Kept thinking of the Gangsters of that era; Capone, Dillinger, Pretty Boy Floyd, and trying to think of a family that worked together...then it made sense. He, Pa, didn't do anything (that we know of), but his wife and kids did. As to the vagueness, I guess if there was a Ma Barker and she had kids, there had to be a Pa Barker.

Mohair Sam 1:58 PM  

Delightful and challenging Friday from Paula Gamache - we always find her puzzles a fun battle, no exception today. Only complaint - three Latin legal terms in one puzzle seems a lot.

What the heck is the fuss about the PA BARKER clue? Clever as Hell - Maybe it needed a "?" and maybe not. No big deal. See @Z 10:23.

Had the ES and the KEY for ESCAPEKEY and thought maybe there was an Eskimo Key in the Aleutian Islands, that's as NW as you get in the USA. But the "A" in PA saved us. Stop laughing, it's rude.

RONDE an early gimme here so I wrote in imDooomed for 51A (Hand wringer's cry) - lost a ton of time. Tricky clue for RAF, btw. Spelled GALASHES with an "O" for a while giving the Greeks credit for the veto instead of FETA. FOB solved that one.

Great Friday puzzle Paula and Will, thank you.

RMK 2:01 PM  

Toscanini never would have said "cut time". He would have said "alla breve".

Fred Romagnolo 2:32 PM  

Natick for me at ROBOTO and RONDE. Did the winner on Ru Paul's Drag U really get the Bank of America? I got the RAOH, and looked for something akin to pharaoh, not knowing SANDRA OH. As is obvious, I crashed in the S E. GOMPERS was instrumental in founding the A F L, which eventually joined up with the C I O. I question SLAV for Pomeranian - only since WWII; Teuton before that; it should have been in the clue. Got the BARKER right away, but wondered what his initials might have been; I laughed at the result.

Anonymous 2:39 PM  

Like many others, had ESkimo-something for 35A, even after I had KEY at the end, but eventually got it all straightened out. BEcareful took some time, but I guess I was PATIENT.

As for the big controversy of the day - if the clue is read correctly, someone's wife and sons were notorious Depression-era criminals...

For a Friday misdirect - I think PABARKER was perfectly fine, since the wording could apply only to MA and sons, which was the case in reality.

If you can have Ma & Pa Kettle, why not Ma & Pa Barker? The Batman TV series did a variation with Ma Parker as the criminal matriarch.

Really liked this one - especially NOSTRIL. Had some of the same gimmes as others - ALAMODOME, GOMPERS, SANDRAOH.

POMPOUSASS crossing BLOWHARD is inspired - even without the obvious current political implications.


JIll 2:59 PM  

More like a Saturday puzzle. Hard for me/

Chip Hilton 3:01 PM  

I was part of the hitman for TAILOR group and struggled with CUTTIME thanks largely to the Toscanini > Italian mislead. Otherwise, I found this to be a fair, challenging Friday puzzle.

DeNiro "Wiseguys"? Guess not.

Z 4:27 PM  

@Kimberly - Sympathies and kudos. We've all been there, but you did a wonderful write-up of the experience.

@Nancy - NSFW = Not Safe For Work. Not that anyone would accidentally look at a dirty joke on the internet when they're supposed to be working. It is usually intentional.

I have a PA BARKER hypothesis - when George's family turned to crime he became Masked and Anonymous. Is that you, P&A?

puzzle hoarder 4:34 PM  

For such a hard puzzle it sure started easy. CAPEFEAR was a first guess supported by mostly easy crosses. Besides from drawing a blank on NSFW what mostly held up the NW was thinking of 2D as a town. I kept thinking just one more space and Alamogordo would go right in. Rawhide and semi arid had the same problem. Still the NW and SE were cake walks compared to the center. Changing XERS to YERS got the ball rolling. It went from NE to SW with something of a pause in the middle.
What should have been a clean grid was marred by my terrible spelling. I had an A for the fourth letter of 9D. Maybe I was thinking of notary public. I would never make that mistake with the word notorious, at least I hope not. GAMPERS didn't look like a name but when I saw the correct answer in the blog I had to laugh at myself.
Now I'll have to see if he's the name source for our local Gompers Park.
Great puzzle and the hardest one since I've been commenting based on time.

Nancy 5:01 PM  

@Teedmn -- While I got SUBARID for "moderately dry", I like your answer, SOBERER, much more.

From the A-little-ignorance-is-a-wonderful-thing Department: It never occurred to me that PA BARKER wasn't as known as his wife, and I thought the clue and answer were just fine.

Phil 5:46 PM  

Got PABARKER w/o help.

But had to smile doing it. No, rex, there is no pa in history. It really should be kind of a ? thing or a 'maybe'.

OISK 10:15 PM  

Phooey. The SE rots up an otherwise decent puzzle. What the heck is "RuPaul's Drag U"? (I could Google it, but why should I care?) And right above that we have Mr. ? a hit by - what - STYX? As in the river? Roboto??? But wait, I am a sports fan, yet I didn't know Barber's first name was Ronde. I DID know Sandra Oh, although I never watched her show. So that left me with __Boto, L__der for a cleanup machine, __ NDE for the first name of Mr. Barber, and B__ for "winner's prize" I would have needed a series of lucky guesses to avoid a DNF, and almost made it. Guessed ROBOTO, and LOADER, (not a machine that is familiar to me...) but had "Rande", which I thought was an alternate spelling of Randy, and not Ronde. That gave me BAA for the prize, which meant nothing, but neither did "BOA." So my second DNF in six days, and a really irritating one. At least, with this much pop trivia in one section, an easier clue for "BOA" was called for. A big "Boo" from Brooklyn.

Unknown 10:20 PM  

@AliasZ - Love your poem!! All other comments stink: they require Odorono.

I can't decide whether I love PA BARKER or hate it. It's definitely one or the other. Or both.

I had edItOR for TAILOR, as I mis-read the getting as giving in the clue (One getting lots of take-out orders?). (Note to self: Frequent take-out orderer? = EDITOR)

Liked POMPOUS ASS, NOTORIETY, SANDRA OH, CAPE FEAR, and I'M LIKE. Liked the clues for GEMINIS (Kennedy and Bush 41, but no other U.S. Presidents), ESCAPE KEY (It's in the far northwest), and BOA (Winner's prize on "RuPaul's Drag U").

In my opinion, NEW TOY is not "green paint." The phrase is often used in a figurative sense. Calling a man's new acquisition a "new toy" implies that the man is acting like a boy.

Lots of stuff that I didn't know. Did not know my flora (ALOE LACE or GUM WEED). Didn't know the legal terms (RES, JURIS, or NISI). Didn't know Samuel GOMPERS. Didn't know that Cross was a brand of PEN(SET)S. My brain kept wanting SemiARID instead of SUBARID. Somehow got through all that and completed it without an error!

Alex 10:21 PM  

Of course, of COURSE Rex is (far, far, FAR) better than I at solving crossword puzzles. That said, the only clueI hit was the one he didn't tumble to. Pa Barker. AND I know "cut time." But the Toscanini tricked me. Well, that and a couple of wrong crosses. Drat!

Anonymous 10:27 PM  

BE PATIENT indeed. Finished in about 2.5 hours. But no errors, so that's something.

Burma Shave 8:46 AM  


Just BETWEENUS, and for the NOTORIETY factor,
watch this POMPOUSASS of an ADULT movie actor.
BEPATIENT and make SUREYOUARE up for a thrill,
she’ll rub her TATAS and blow SEAMEN out her NOSTRIL.


Anonymous 1:55 PM  

Had NEW BOX (XERS, and BIKE instead of TILE) for a while. I have cats and a NEW BOX is a very exciting thing indeed.

spacecraft 2:20 PM  

Did this one in Dr.'s waiting room--so had loads of time. What would you call it when the only two entries in the grid that you know intersect? A reverse-natick?? I put in RONDE, whose defensive antics kept my beloved Eagles our of the Duper Bowl, curse him, and now-newest earworm Mr. ROBOTO, domo origato for that. Then I stared at the vast expanse of remaining white.

Actually, the next thing I wrote turned out to be a nearly fatal mistake. Picking the wrong generation, I put in XERS, so figured the exciting thing to play with was a Well, you know the old joke about the kid ignoring the toy get the idea. Later, when I at last had the NE filled in, everything looked OK except for that troublesome 12-down: how is BILE gonna become a makeshift coaster?? Kinda messy, I would think. Then it finally hit me: it WAS the NEWTOY after all, NOT the box it came in! Disaster averted.

Another error that almost scuppered the solve was eaTATHOME. I'm so used to EATIN for "Not go to McDonald's," say, that I equated staying in house with mealtime. BETWEENUS was a long time coming, and that was necessary7 for the fix.

I see that OFL gave a kind review, possibly because of the shout-out to him at 3-down. Can't believe @BS would forgo using TATAS in his poem of the day. SANDRAOHDEARME! IMLIKE, A. Good, tough--and done!

rondo 2:27 PM  

No more perfect week. Had enough today to make up for the rest, starting at 1a with scarFace, then over to the NE with xERS and edItOR (take out orders guy?) then SE to LeveL (true?), well you get the idea. They all got fixed, but that took some effort. GOMPERS, of all things, a gimme, as well as ROBOTO.

RONDE, you’re just one letter off. OH, DEARME.

Hardly ever watch the show but yeah baby SANDRAOH got me going in the SE and otherwise, too.

Just BETWEENUS, I gotta like any puz with TATAS, especially when they’re YERS, you syndirellas. I’ve got a NEWTOY for you. BEPATIENT. Likin’ it? SUREYOUARE.

So I made this puz harder than it should have been, but I liked the challenge.

rain forest 3:55 PM  

Even with CAOE FEAR,ALAMODOME, FLORET, GOMPERS, and CUT TIME as gimmes, this was overall challenging, but I kept with it and got it done.

I thought PA BARKER was just plain inspired and funny. I was stuck on sniper for the take-out guy, and aside from YERS, the NE was very sticky, like that GUM WEED (?). Speaking of directions, that NW clue flustered me. My computer faces South, so the ESCAPE KEY is actually in the far SE. That clue was too cutesy by far, when "far upper left" would have been accurate no matter the direction of your computer, or tablet, or phone. I say this with tongue only partially in cheek.

GEMINIS and JETSKIS were the key to this puzzle for me, though at the time I thought both were risky. As everyone has said, some truly great entries, and much excellent cluing.

Challenging, and a good one.

leftcoastTAM 4:51 PM  

Three virtually independent puzzles, but the short links helped a little, as did the crosses within the three.

SUREYOUARE as answer to "Uh-huh, I believe that" remains opaque to me.

Several entries seemed so obvious once seen, but they did take some time.

Tried to see a connection between CAPEFEAR in the puzzle's far NW and the ESCAPEKEY before getting that the "far northwest" was on a keyboard. But CAPE and KEY are related maritime terms.

Last to go was the "R" in the ROBOTO/RONDE cross, being unfamiliar to me, but an easy guess.

Diana,LIW 8:51 PM  

As is often the case, I concur with @Lewis.

Thought PABARKER was very funny. Very "wordplayish."

Not a perfect solve, but I loved chipping away at this one. Kudos.

The Waiting family is adjusting to life back in the home base. Why is the bathroom in the wrong place? Oh, I really like THIS kitchen.

And best of all, the NYTP in print in the paper, so I don't have to draw it on graph paper. Life's little luxuries.

Diana, Lady-in-Waiting for Crosswords

leftcoastTAM 10:50 PM  

Look, if you really want to get your post onto this blog in synditime, you have to get it on in CUTTIME.

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